Theological Method Jewish Theology Pt. VIII Last in Series – Patheos (blog)


From a Jewish perspective, the foundation of spirituality is the human capacity of being called by something beyond ourselves, something that both speaks to our nature and is yet embedded there. In moments of quiet honesty, we find ourselves with a given orientation and that orientation offers itself up as an approach to our better selves it is the voice of our own objective nature calling us toward fulfillment. We understand this urging of our own nature as the foundation of morality and religious practice.

Listen! God speaks to us through the world through the burning bush and the quiet voice on the wind.

Human fulfillment requires alignment with this voice calling out from reality/nature, including our own human nature.The insights for living a meaningful and good life arise from a reasoned, teleological reflection on our own nature and our relationships to others. This vision offers a formal framework within which to conduct our theological and moral reasoning.

The goal of Jewish practice and observance is Shalom a holistic sense of peace and wholeness. Jewish spiritual practice teaches us to be good listeners to hear the voice calling us to strive for wholeness and help others obtain the same. By doing so, we heal ourselves and our world and achieve our evolutionary and Torah-based primary directive thrive and flourish!


The Jewish vision is that it is fundamental to human nature to seek the truth about the world and ourselves, attempting to find meaning in our lives. Genuine spirituality is centered on the truth not elaborate, ungrounded theology or grand speculation without foundation.

Truth is the adequate correspondence of human judgments to reality itself. Human knowledge is fallible, but generally reliable, and is verified in relation to reality. Reasoned human discourse functions along these lines when people make claims, they ought to be able to provide some justification for those claims justification involves offering evidence based in reality this is how human communities gain wisdom and make progress.

The Jewish search for meaning is approached from the vantage point of spiritual realism. Spiritual realism operates from an epistemological conservatism humbly seeking to understand reality and trying to offer some explanation for events and circumstances. Jewish history has provided ample experience of tragedy that tempers any inclination to lofty, unjustified saccharine theologies.

Therefore, the spiritually grounded person is the one who listens to and sees reality as it truly is waking up to the world as it is in itself. (Texts, teachers, and traditions can help us in this task, but these are fingers pointing to the moon, not the moon itself, as a Buddhist saying goes.)

The notion of listening is employed metaphorically the goal being to strip away the unnecessary filters that block more accurate perceptions of nature, including our own human nature. Awakening to the world as it really is and living accordingly is the heart of Jewish spiritual realism.


We should stand in awe at the splendor of reality. And this awe, if carefully cultivated, reveals more than can be sustained by a mere mechanistic or materialistic vantage point that necessarily ascribes an accidental nature to everything that is.

Within the complex matrix of sufficient reason, causation, emergence, teleological thinking, and the nature of time we begin to glimpse some sense of the multiple layers of contingency of the universe contingency on some emergent cause that prompts the original expansion of singularity, the contingency on inherent principles that guide the ordered emergence of matter and energy, and the contingency on the regularity, continued existence, and direction of the unfolding.

Despite the protests of many, the universe appears to have an internal logic that inevitably drives matter from nonliving to living, from simple to complex, from inert to consciousness in a seemingly clear direction toward life and increasing complexity for the sake of survival. (Protests abound, in part, because science cannot properly detect or evaluate meaning, purpose, or value.)

We may dismiss the above as poetry, but the proper response to some of lifes mysteries are reflection and meditation. Science solves problems. Religion plumbs the depth of mysteries. Wisdom is knowing the difference between a problem and a mystery. Mystery does not cry out for solutions or answers it finds its resolution in awe and wonder and a willingness to engage its depths.

Jewish tradition understands that the purpose of theology isnt to intervene in science over questions that science is much better prepared to address, but to relate the material universe studied by science to questions of ultimate concernof value, meaning and purposewhich science cant address and are instead the proper sphere of religion.

Cultivating this sense of awe and reverence is the purpose of spirituality in general, and Judaism in particular. Such an enterprise is pivotal in undoing the unfortunate effects of secularization the tendencies toward nihilism and dehumanization and provides an Archimedean point from which our culture can be renewed.


Jewish theology is the result of ongoing engagement with its sacred texts and the primary rule is to always read the texts with an attitude of compassion looking for mercy in the texts at all times.

The two great literary works of the Jewish people are the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) and the Talmud. Most people are familiar with the Hebrew Bible, even if they dont read it. Its served as a foundational text for Western culture. Its myths and narratives are still invoked. Most Christians read it or have it read to them at least weekly.

The Talmud is less known and less read, even among Jews. Many people assume its a large volume of writings. But as my extremely kind friend who recently gave me, and thus carried the texts to my home, will attest the English translation of the Talmud is 28 volumes, each individual text comprised of a 200-350 pages, or more. Its massive.

What exactly is the Talmud?

The Talmud is a set of written teachings and commentary, related to the scriptures, and addressing aspects of Jewish law and tradition. The Rabbis began writing it down in the first century CE. And finished writing the initial version about 600 years later.

Each volume deals with general topics in Jewish life and poses questions, offers answers, debates the answers, clarifies scripture, and adds understanding to each issue.

Now, for the part about Jewish logic of mercy. Jews dont relate to their law the same way as do Christians. Linear logic is not the logic of the early Jewish Rabbis. Their logic is more circular, organic, more conversational, more dialectical, and more phenomenological and always an attempt to find mercy in the text.

Each issue in the Talmud begins with a short quote from the Mishnah a statement of law and/or practice often derived from the Bible. The statement is then debated and commented on for years, decades, centuries, by multiple authors, calling upon various sources, sometimes quoting teachers long gone and dead, but assuming to know what they would say.

Its like having Abraham Lincoln engaged in conversation with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Kennedy about the Constitution. Conclusions are few. The conversation is riveting. You learn tons.

But when youre done, youre not really done.

There often isnt a conclusion or definitive answer to the questions raised. First, the intention was that the conversation and debate would go on into the future, so that even Jews today would add their insights, their answers, and their thoughts for the generations to come. Second, its not part of Jewish logic that firm answers always exist to complex questions and issues. Some things seem settled and have a strong majority opinion, some issues are grayer, requiring further analysis.

Jewish theology always says lets talk we have time.

Where does all of this get us? Especially in terms of Jewish logic of mercy?

Consider the Biblical commandment to stone a woman found guilty of committing adultery. The scriptures call for the woman to be stoned in front of her fathers house. The command appears in scripture at least twice.

The Rabbis raise the question in the Talmud and then begin applying their logic. What is adultery? How do we find someone guilty? How many witnesses are required? Why stone her in front of her fathers house?

By the time the commentary and analysis is done, it would be nearly impossible to stone any woman for adultery the bar for conviction, the requirement of witnesses, the urging for mercy, the twists and turns of Jewish logic always opting for compassion, justice, kindness, and forgiveness. Granted, adultery is never approved of, never condoned, but mercy prevails.

Can such conversation sound legalistic? Sure. Is such conversation motivated by legalism? Not at all. The motivation of even the ancient Rabbis was mercy and love. The entire enterprise of Talmud is one of gentleness and a move toward affirming human dignity.

Talmud, and thus Jewish law, understands that conversation isnt over. The Talmud isnt finished. And the logic toward mercy, love, and freedom is still alive and dominant in Jewish theology.

Christians often say that Jews are under the law and that Christianity is about mercy and freedom from the law. Are Jews under the law? Well, it depends on how you define law? And what exactly do you mean by under? And what would Rabbi Akivah say about that? How about Hillel? And here in Torah it says we are all free

Pull up a chair. Have a glass of wine. This will take some time.

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Theological Method Jewish Theology Pt. VIII Last in Series – Patheos (blog)

An Incisive Play About Hasidism, With Actors Who Lived It – New York Times

New York Times
An Incisive Play About Hasidism, With Actors Who Lived It
New York Times
As a Hasidic Jew, she spent her childhood with eight siblings in the Yiddish-speaking and largely insular Satmar sect in Borough Park, Brooklyn. She had little knowledge of secular theater, film and television, which are frowned upon as sacrilegious.

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An Incisive Play About Hasidism, With Actors Who Lived It – New York Times

This Hasidic couple’s kinky open marriage could get them ‘shunned … – New York Post

James tucked his side curls behind his ears and tore off his yarmulke as he left the hotel.

Waiting for him in the parking lot in her car was a sultry brunette stranger, and they were both eager for their first date at an Italian restaurant in Omaha, Neb.

They hit it off. After the meal, they stopped at a golf course and had sex behind a hedge.

She told me to grab a stick and kept asking me to hit her harder, the married father recalled about the tryst that unfolded during a business trip last May. Then she sent a photo of her black-and-blue bruises a few days later.

It was just another night in James double life.

By day, he and his wife, Monica, are Hasidic Jews living in the heart of Williamsburg. But by night, the attractive 30-somethings pursue kinky sex as a swinging couple on the online dating app Tinder.

In a series of interviews granted to The Post over the last month, both revealed their secret pastime on the condition that their names and certain identifying details be changed to prevent expulsion from their religious community.

We look the part, but dont follow any of the rules, Monica said of her strict Orthodox faith, as the couple dined with a reporter at a decidedly unkosher Thai restaurant.

At night, the couple regularly shed the black overcoats and floor-length skirts required by their religion, and appear like an attractive, well-off couple in trendy clothes. In his first meeting with The Post, James wore jeans and a green T-shirt, while Monica donned an orange top with dainty shoulder cut-outs, her golden-brown hair pinned in a messy bun. Her wig, which Orthodox women are required to wear in a nod to modesty, was left in the car.

When it comes to monogamy, James and Monica dont play by the rules. Since 2014, the couple has used Tinder to swing using both separate profiles and one joint one. Each of them searches the app for individual rendezvous, or sometimes they swipe right together when theyve located an attractive woman for a mnage–trois. They look for lovers aged 25 to 40 for casual fun and emotional connections.

Although they proclaim themselves Hasidic at the top of their dating profiles, the accompanying photos are anything but straightlaced. Monicas ample bust is hugged by a shapely black bra, but her eyes are obscured by a bar. James, cropped at the neck, shows off his toned torso and upper arms.

Looking for multicultural experience. Due to our situation, we dont have the liberty to expose ourselves on here, their joint profile explains.

In short bios underneath, James touts his role play abilities, while Monica says she loves to laugh.

Please dont be shy, say hi, it beckons.

James describes himself as 100 percent straight, but Monica is bisexual. Shes more like 70 percent into men, 30 into women, he said, as Monica grinned and nodded.

The couple have a brood of children between the ages of 3 and 18. They, like all families of the Satmar sect, observe the Sabbath, go to temple every week, and speak only in Yiddish in the house or when around other members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Naturally, they are cautious about how they woo potential conquests.

Once a hot single shows interest in them, creating a match, they typically make a move.

Hi Beautiful they usually message first. After a little back-and-forth banter, they share their phone number. They each have their own cellphones, but use a shared third phone when communicating as a couple with potential partners.

First we like to meet at a public place and have dinner. At least if we dont hit it off with them, we got to enjoy a nice meal, James joked.

While waiting for a date to show up a few weeks ago, the pair sat on bar stools at a trendy Williamsburg restaurant, facing each other, their knees almost touching as they talked casually and laughed.

When the woman arrived, James placed his hand on Monicas lower back as they stood to greet her.

Shes very seductive and fit. One day I came over to fix something at her place. She immediately grabbed me and took me to her bedroom

If all goes well on a date, they decide together how to proceed.

Sometimes were both interested in someone, or sometimes just one of us is, Monica said.

Their extramarital dalliances first began about 10 years ago, after James started flirting with a non-Jewish waitress who worked at a restaurant where he did business. After several weeks of instant-messaging with her, James was wracked with guilt. He confessed to Monica, hoping she wouldnt be heartbroken.

Her reaction shocked him.

I was excited by it, Monica said. It turned me on to know another woman desired my husband.

As they talked about it, they realized they both craved sexual and emotional relationships outside their marriage.

They started slowly, getting happy-ending massages together, attending fetish parties and flirting.

Four years later, James had his first affair with his married, Hasidic assistant.

Shes very seductive and fit. One day I came over to fix something at her place. She immediately grabbed me and took me to her bedroom, James said.

Afterwards James and Monica tried a threesome with the other woman.

She came over for a sleepover, but wasnt ready, James recalled. [Monica] and I were kissing and she felt like a third wheel.

She went downstairs and slept on the couch. We were pretty disappointed.

It was almost as disappointing as the way they first met through a family matchmaker, just weeks before their arranged marriage. He was 20 and she was 18, both virgins, and they met just once before the nuptials.

Though we love each other, we didnt have that butterflies-in-your-stomach love, said James.

But the strangers did develop chemistry in bed.

We are very lucky. Were actually quite attracted to each other, Monica said.

They found that open marriage suits them better than their cultures strict monogamy.

We dont have jealousy, Monica said. We never got to date people, so that made it easier for us.

They even encourage love affairs with others.

Its been so beautiful to watch [Monica] fall in love with someone else, James said. Monica needs emotional connections with others before getting physical.

Shes all about talking and vibing well with someone, James said.

James has a taste for S&M and for the uninhibited random encounters that can come from sex outside the marriage. If Im with a woman and we want to have sex in the park, we can, he said.

But with a double life comes the cost keeping secrets from family, friends and synagogue, sheltering their children from their hidden truths, and taking many precautions.

We dont want to take any chances, Monica said.

They keep their modern clothes hidden from their children and have no social media beyond their Tinder accounts. They tell everyone that their forbidden cellphones are for work purposes. They use condoms illicit among Hasidim religiously.

Their kids attend yeshiva. Monica keeps kosher, and they pray and sing the Torah before meals.

No one can tell were different. We look traditional. We blend in, Monica said.

With a double life comes the cost keeping secrets from family, friends and synagogue, sheltering their children from their hidden truths, and taking many precautions

After all, the consequences of getting caught would be dire.

What theyre doing involves breaking a host of serious taboos., said Hella Winston, author of Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels. Adultery is illegal under Jewish law, and offenders are punished with banishment from the community. Husbands and wives are not even allowed to touch each other during a womans menstruation. The sexes are kept separate in the synagogue, at weddings and on buses.

Monica and James are outwardly religious, but no longer believe in their faith.

Questioning God was a very difficult process for me, said James, who began having doubts as a young man reading Skeptic magazine and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Religion has a strong hold on your thoughts and the way you think.

The couple chooses to remain part of the insular community because we dont want to lose our family, Monica said. We would be shunned forever.

But they are willing to risk all to share their story.

We want to inspire other Hasidic couples who also have doubts about God and their marriage, said James. We hope to lead by example. By speaking out and breaking the taboo, we hope other Hasidic couples will do the same and feel less alone.

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This Hasidic couple’s kinky open marriage could get them ‘shunned … – New York Post

Palestine UN-Habitat

Governments at the 19th Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council in 2003 adopted by consensus resolution 19/18 calling on UN-Habitat to establish a Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People (SHSPPP). The long-term development objective of the programme is to improve the human settlements conditions of the Palestinian people and in so doing contribute in a modest way to reaching peace, security and stability in the region. During the 23rd Governing Council in 2011, a new resolution 23/2 was adopted, requesting UN-Habitat to further focus its operations on planning, land and housing issues in view of improving the housing and human settlement conditions of Palestinians, addressing the urbanization challenges, supporting the building of a Palestinian state, humanitarian action and peace-building, in the areas where there are acute humanitarian and development needs.

Broadly speaking effective urbanisation is a choice, a human choice that is not achieved by chance but by design and political will. The positive outcomes of urbanisation depend largely on the quality of that design. And so there is the potential for urbanization to be a driver for sustainable development in the State of Palestine. But at the same time, there are well known challenges to doing so. It is hard to see how urbanization can foster development in Palestine where over 60% of the West Bank, known as Area C, is under a restrictive planning process that is discriminatory and not in conformity with international humanitarian and human rights law. Or in Gaza, where recurrent conflict has killed thousands of people, devastated the urban space, destroyed and damaged thousands of homes, and where reconstruction is proceeding too slowly. Or Jerusalem, where one city is divided by multiple growing inequalities.

Urbanization, as a positive force for development in Palestine, is a phenomenon significantly interrupted by the occupation. Yet, there is no development without urbanization, a fact we have to acknowledge against the long process of final political settlement leading to two States living side by side in peace and security. To be clear, the UN seeks a just resolution to issues including the demarcation of borders, Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, water and natural resources, the Gaza blockade, and Palestinian refugees, together with affirmative actions to cease the destruction of Palestinian property.

UN-Habitat as articulated through its recent analysis on East Jerusalem, Area C, and Gaza, and as echoed in the One UN Position Paper on Spatial Planning in Area C believes there are practical measures that can be taken to foster sustainable urbanization for the State of Palestine, which in turn can improve the conditions for peace.

Central to UN Habitats perspective on urbanization is that spatial and urban planning must be used as a means for delivering human rights, not denying them. Hence, UN-Habitat considers the approval of the Master Plans that have been submitted by Palestinian communities for Area C to be an imperative step for implementation of an inclusive planning and zoning regime that will enable Palestinians residential and community development needs to be met across the entirety of the State of Palestine. For Gaza specifically, Israel must end the blockade to allow the cities to build back better through innovative and participatory urban planning approaches.

UN-Habitat is now playing a more substantive role in Palestine leading debate on urbanization issues, supporting NGOs, government and private sector firms on planning, and informing advocacy efforts by the international community on planning and building rights for Palestinian communities in Area C and East Jerusalem. Its engagement in the occupied Palestinian territories is in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal 11, Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and it is mobilizing the territories towards the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) which will take place 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.

Key Partners

UN-Habitats main counterparts are the Ministry of Local Government, the National Spatial Plan Office at the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development, (recently merged with the Ministry of Finance), the Ministry of Public Works and Housing as well as municipalities and local communities. UN-Habitat works closely with other UN Agencies in Palestine as well as local and international NGOs. Key donors are the Saudi Committee for the Palestinian People Relief, the Campaign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the Relief of the Palestinian People in Gaza, the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the European Commission, the World Bank, the Government of France, the Government of Belgium, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

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Palestine UN-Habitat

Palestine, regional crises top summit agenda King – Jordan Times

Jordan Times
Palestine, regional crises top summit agenda King
Jordan Times
He said that regional issues, mainly the Palestinian cause, the Syrian crisis and the situations in Iraq and Libya, in addition to the drive to counter terrorism and extremism are significant aspects to be focused on during the Arab summit, to be held

and more »

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Palestine, regional crises top summit agenda King – Jordan Times

Iranian foreign minister calls Netanyahu’s Purim story ‘fake history’ – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Irans Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gesturing during his speech at Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 19, 2017. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) Irans Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fake history for saying that Iran sought the annihilation of the Jews, just as had ancient Persia.

To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews 3 times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit, Zarif tweeted.

On Saturday, Netanyahu visited a synagogue, where he told children celebrating the holiday that Iran seeks to kill the Jews just as the Persians did. Purim started Saturday night, with costumes and street parties around Israel.

In a text attached to his tweet, Zarif wrote: Once again, Benjamin Netanyahu not only distorts the realities of today, but also distorts the past including Jewish scripture. It is truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved the Jews three times in its history.

The Book of Esther tells of how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day, he wrote, referring to the king known in the Purim story as Ahasuerus.

Jews see Queen Esther as the heroine of Purim for talkingPersian KingAhasuerus out of killing all the Jews in the kingdom, as his viceroy Haman initially convinced him to do.

Zarif in the text also credited Cyrus the Great, who he called an Iranian king, with saving the Jews during their exile in Babylon and Iranwith gladly accepting Jews who were being slaughtered in Europe during World War II. Iran has often been accused of denying the Holocaust.

Earlier Sunday, the speaker of Irans parliamentsaidapparently, [Netanyahu] is neither acquainted with history, nor has read the Torah, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. Netanyahu has distorted the Iranians pre-Islam historical era and attempted to misrepresent events. Of course, nothing more than presenting such lies is expected from a wicked Zionist.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Friday, Netanyahu said Iran soughtto destroy the state of the Jewsjust as ancient Persia had plotted todestroy the Jewish people. But Putin rejected the parallel, saying the story of Purim occurredin the fifth century BCE and suggesting they discussthe different world of today.

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Iranian foreign minister calls Netanyahu’s Purim story ‘fake history’ – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Metropolitan Kirill (C), deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, blesses during a Christmas Eve mass in Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni is seeking support for a campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, for protecting the country’s Jewish minority during the Holocaust.

Aloni, head of the Committee for Friendship between the Israeli and Bulgarian Advocates, nominated the church in January for its “brave acts of heroism” including voting unanimously to condemn antisemitic laws during World War II and for going against planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps in Europe.

In a letter sent to The Jerusalem Post last week, Aloni noted that while the campaign had garnered support from Europe and the US, he sought to gain awareness from the Israeli public.

A petition launched last year on in support of this cause had, as of Sunday, gained 740 signatures of a target of 1,000.

The petition notes that while the Bulgarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, the church showed bravery and leadership by fighting against antisemitic laws. It makes specific mention of two clergymen: Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the head of the Sofian Church, and the highest ranking Bulgarian Church official during the Holocaust, and Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

The pair was named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2001, for vigorously opposing the anti-Jewish policies of the Bulgarian regime, and taking active steps against its policy of deporting the Jews of Bulgaria and handing them over to the Germans.

Kiril is said to have saved the 1,500 Jews of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, who were set to be deported in March 1943. According to Yad Vashem, Kiril sent a personal telegram to the King begging for his mercy towards the Jews, and contacted the head of the local police, threatening to end his loyalty towards to Bulgaria and to act as he wished. Further testimony claims that he threatened to lie across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation.

Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war, wrote Aloni in his letter to the Nobel Committee.

Aloni, who was himself born in Sofia, mentions that he and his family are among those are alive today thanks to the “heroism of the Bulgarian church and other brave citizens.”

“The nomination of the Bulgarian Church has most relevance in these days filled with hate and racism and modern day ethnic cleansing,” Aloni concludes.

The petition is sponsored by former minister General (R) Dr Ephraim Sneh and Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet.

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Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

When Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTHE MEMO: For Trump, an early test of leadership Trump tried to call NY attorney before firing him: report Fired U.S. attorney invokes shuttered New York corruption panel in tweet MORE last called for a Muslim ban as a presidential candidate, Jewish and Christian leaders across the United States immediately raised our voices and condemned his plan.

When Trump hastily issued an Executive Order, preventing citizens, travelers, and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Jewish and Christian leaders across our own diverse theological traditions and denominations took to the streets, airwaves, and airports to stop the ban. We celebrated the justice won when courts across the country placed a stay on the order.

This new travel ban attempts to achieve the same exclusionary end. As White House policy adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News last month, it will have the same basic policy outcome.

That same basic policy outcome means discriminating against six Muslim-majority nations, establishing a policy that the current administrations own Department of Homeland Security deem unnecessary. Our refugee and visitor vetting systems are already very strong and effective.

That same basic policy outcome means Trump and his advisers want to create national security policy that appears to be based on religious discrimination and a culture of fear, instead of reason and evidence. Trumps rejection of the DHS report demonstrates he is more likely to accept beliefs that fit Steve Bannon and Stephen Millers world view that Islam is at war with the West.

“Trump’s travel ban legally sound, defensible all the way to SCOTUS”

That same basic policy outcome violates the principles established in the Constitution. Our nation was founded on the freedom of religion and we must protect that freedom for all Americans today.

According to our shared scriptures, God commands people of faith to love our neighbors. Not some of them, all of them. Our nations growing shame of profiling Muslims, anti-Semitism, the ongoing brutality against people of color, and renewed marginalization of transgender people reveal just a few ways we fail to fulfill justice for all. Generation after generation of Americans have sought to make our Founders ideals a lived reality in our country. The stakes are too high for us to lose ground on the liberty for which our ancestors fought.

While we welcome Trumps recent denunciation of anti-Semitism in his recent speech to Congress, we call upon him to demonstrate his commitment to religious freedom for all Americans. While we applaud Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceJews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again. Pence takes GOP healthcare pitch on the road Ryan becomes face of GOP health plan MOREs helping clean up a vandalized Jewish cemetery, wed like to see all our elected officials do the same for desecrated mosques.

Jewish and Christian leaders must again rise to this occasion and stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. This Muslim Ban 2.0 is the next in a series of actions by the administration that make Muslim Americans feel unwelcome in their own country. Each of our religious traditions, Islam included, regard hospitality to those different from us as a sign of faith and obedience to God.

“Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban 2.0′ is still the same flawed, un-American mess”

Each of us must resist this order in our own way. For 20 of our rabbinic colleagues, that meant getting arrested after the first iteration of the ban. For an increasing number of churches, it means joining the Sanctuary Movement, declaring our sacred spaces a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants. For the two of us a European-American, straight, Jewish rabbi and an African-American, gay, Presbyterian minister it means building an honest, sometimes complicated friendship, yet standing shoulder to shoulder for what is right at this defining moment.

We hope you will join us. In whatever way possible, we must again and again send an unmistakable message to this White House: the Jewish and Christian communities in the United States will rise up and resist any attempt and any form of Muslim Ban enacted by Trump. The future of our nation and the integrity of our faithfulness to our God depends upon it.

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky is the director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rev. Bertram Johnson is the Minister of Justice, Advocacy, and Change at the Riverside Church. They both reside in New York City.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

Holiday bomb threats target 5 Jewish centers in US, Canada – CNN

None of the threats proved real in the latest wave of intimidating acts targeting the Jewish community.

For some centers, though, it was not their first ordeal.

The Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center in Rochester, New York, was evacuated Sunday morning for the second time in less than a week.

The center was hosting a “warming center” for people whose homes had lost power when the bomb threat came, Executive Director Arnie Sohinki said.

It reopened without incident a few hours later after receiving an all-clear from law enforcement, Sohinki said. he would not provide further details, citing the police investigation.

“We are open. We will remain open. Whoever is doing this doesn’t realize this only makes us #stronger, ” the center said in a Facebook post. “All are welcome to join us at the JCC.”

The Rochester JCC was one of several Jewish institutions to receive a bomb threat on Sunday. The threats coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festive commemoration of the defeat of a plot to exterminate Jews in ancient Persia.

Other locations reporting similar threats included Indianapolis Jewish Community Center in Indiana; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada; and The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All reopened a few hours later without incident.

The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston also received a bomb threat — its second in three weeks, Executive Vice President Joel Dinkin said. The center, which received the threat via email, was not evacuated.

The threats were the latest acts in a recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. Museums, houses of worship, advocacy groups and cemeteries have been targets of bomb threats and vandalism as federal officials work with state and local authorities to find those responsible.

Sunday’s incidents bring the number of threats since January in the United States and Canada to 154, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

The Louis S. Wolk JCC also received a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 7, the same day another center in Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters received threats. No devices were found at the locations and the centers reopened soon after.

After the first bomb threat, the Rochester center had opened its doors to those who lost power in a winter storm blanketing the Northeast. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bomb threat “despicable” given the center’s service to the community.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “cowardly,” especially on a holiday weekend celebrating “the resiliency of the Jewish people.”

“Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a statement.

Cuomo said he would direct state police to investigate the bomb threats in conjunction with federal officials. Last week, Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio increased a reward for information on hate crimes — not just bomb threats — to $20,000.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division vowed to investigate possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time,” the federal agency said.

CNN’s Kwegyirba Croffie, Sara Ganim and Laurie Ure contributed to this report.

Read more from the original source:
Holiday bomb threats target 5 Jewish centers in US, Canada – CNN

American Jews and the Trump Administration – The Jewish Press –

Photo Credit: YouTube

After the election of perhaps the most pro-Israel U.S. administration in history, American Jews seem to have lost the plot. When Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S., many Jews sat shiva to mourn Hillary Clintons defeat as if it was a death in the family, making religion out of politics. A number of Conservative and Reform synagogues held special mourning services to bewail the advent of fascism in America. One prominent Conservative rabbi in New York compared the Trump victory to the rise of Nazism prior to the Holocaust. The essence of politics is persuasion; not hysterics.

Trump repeatedly praises Israel and refers to Israel as Americas greatest ally. He has been closely associated with Jews in business and politics. His daughter observes an Orthodox religious lifestyle, after converting to Judaism. Apart from his family, his senior appointments include many Jews and staunch friends of Israel. He endorsed Israels position on defensible borders and stated that he has no objection to construction in the major settlement blocs and Jerusalem. He called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stated that the only way to peace is by direct negotiations between both parties. He repudiated Obamas criticism of Israel for failing to make progress in peace talks, and Obamas application of moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians. He has begun to pressure the Iranians to adhere to their commitments to the treaty of catastrophe, and would terminate it for any violation by the Iranian terrorist regime.

One of the negative repercussions of the Trump victory is the growing influence of the radical anti-Israel wing of the Democratic Party. The anti-Israel Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, who was initially funded by the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, is the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee; supported by leading Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer. While, anti-Israel Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders emerged as a powerful force in the defeated radicalized Democratic Party.

The Jewish establishment ignored and pretended away the Democratic anti-Semites, even when they were burning Israeli flags at the Democratic convention. They condemned legitimate criticisms of anti-Israel financier George Soros as anti-Semitic while leaving unaddressed truly anti-Semitic assaults by Hillary backers on Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Moreover, significant sectors of the Jewish community are falsely accusing the Trump administration of promoting anti-Semitism. It is noteworthy that the Zionist Organization of America protested against this partisan defamatory campaign.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) launched a scornful assault against Trumps chief strategist, former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon accusing him of being an anti-Semite, while ignoring Ellisons record of anti-Semitism and support for Israels enemies, as well as Ellisons ties to unindicted co-conspirators in funding Hamas. The accusation that Bannon is anti-Semitic is appalling on its face. Bannon is surrounded by Jews in his media company, Breitbart News, and is known for his fervent support for Israel, opposition to anti-Semitism, disapproval of anti-Israel activism on campuses, and condemnations of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of ADL, accused Bannon of being an anti-Semite who would pave the way for a return to anti-Semitism and white supremacy. In alleging that a friend of the Jews is a Jew hater while ignoring the actual anti-Semitism of another man, the ADL appears to be giving cover to the rising forces of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party.

Greenblatt did not call for Jews to boycott the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement despite its anti-Semitism and promotion of BDS against Israel, and he referred approvingly to the positive aspects of its work. The use of the ADL, created to combat anti-Semitism, to promote Greenblatts partisan political agenda is scandalous.

Greenblatt had earlier used the ADL to condemn Republicans as anti-Zionist because they excluded a two-state solution in their Middle East policy platform. When Trump declined to dignify David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan by responding to their expressions of support for him, Greenblatt condemned him for tolerating anti-Semites. This contrasted with the muted response by Jewish liberals to Barack Obamas relationship with various radical anti-Semites.

Obama has long-held close alliances with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi, etc. Obamas political career was launched in the house of the anti-Semite Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground, a left-wing terrorist organization that issued a Declaration of a State of War against the U.S. government. Obama attended Wrights sermons with his family, and he officiated at Obamas wedding and was appointed by him in 2007 to the African American Religious Leadership Committee. He only dissociated himself from Wrights views after media exposure but refused to disown him personally, relating to him as an old uncle. No critic of Trump could suggest any comparable relationship with any identifiable anti-Semite.

Establishment anger over Trumps weeks-old administration is growing. The mainstream global media, progressive activists, Democratic Party leaders, and many Republicans are essentially at war with him. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently compared his victory to disasters in American history that killed and wounded thousands like the Pearl Harbor bombing and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some op-ed writers and pundits have openly hoped for his violent death. The progressive Resistance talks of removing the new president through impeachment, or even military coup. About one-third of House Democrats boycotted the Inauguration. Congressional Republicans ignore the Constitution, ignore the balance of powers, and ignore written law, while relinquishing their own constitutional authority allowing the courts to run American foreign policy, just to be a part of the establishments Stop Trump movement.

After Trump had secured the Republican nomination, prominent Jewish conservative editors, like Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg, led the Never Trump movement. They betrayed the Republican Party, the American people, and Jews when they set out to undermine Trump, which could have elected the criminally challenged Hillary.

The sympathies of Hillary and Obama lie with the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that launched the Arab drive to destroy Israel and push its Jews into the sea. If Hillary and Obama had their way, Egypts leader al-Sisi would be overthrown, the Brotherhood would be back in power, and Israel could be facing a threat from the biggest military power in the Middle East and war with Islamic terrorists who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.

Elements of the U.S. government have been actively opposing the duly elected U.S. president. Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been disrupting Trump administration reforms. U.S. government employees recorded Trumps private calls to the president of Mexico and the Australian prime minister, and leaked selected segments to suggest that Trump was either a buffoon or trigger-happy. The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2017 that career intelligence officers have decided to withhold information from Trump, because in their view he is unfit to receive it. Kristol suggested in a tweet that if he faced a choice between the constitutionally, democratically elected president and career government officials efforts to thwart or remove him, he would come down on the side of the revolutionary, anti-democratic deep state.

American voters elected Trump because they regarded him as the only opportunity to break with the status quo, a revolt against the postmodernism that has undermined the moral fiber of the West and its willingness to defend itself, facilitating the emergence of brutal Islamic terror. The refusal of Trumps opponents to accept the outcome of the election was despicable and unprecedented, and contrasts with the acquiescence of the defeated Republicans when Obama won both of his elections. An aspect of the election result is the hysterical reaction by liberal segments of the Jewish community. It is not surprising that 70% of Jews supported Hillary Clinton. This is consistent with their long-standing obsession with liberalism. But the manipulation of Jewish issues as a political vehicle by some American Jewish leaders to oppose Trump could be an act of infamy.

After Israel, the U.S. has the largest Jewish population in the world. Despite credible evidence that Islamic terrorists infiltrate migrants from Muslim conflict zones, American Jews have been at the forefront of the opposition to the Trump administrations plan to pause immigration for a few months from six Muslim countries with vetting challenges. In America, anti-Semitic attacks are generally by Muslims or radical liberals; however, American Jews supported the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton that promised significant increase in immigration from Muslim conflict zones. During the recent migration crisis in Europe, British Jews repeatedly clamored for massive immigration from Muslim conflict zones; however, in March 2017, the British Home Secretary issued a warning of significant radical Islamic terrorist threat to British Jews. From Bombay to Toulouse and beyond, Jews suffer disproportionately from Muslim attackers.

Some Democratic Party Muslim Americans with records of anti-Semitism condemned the recent anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish cemeteries. The Democratic Party is becoming more open in its embrace of anti-Semitism. Terrorist murderers of Jews (Ramsea Odeh, etc.) and supporters of terrorist murderers of Jews (Keith Ellison, Linda Sarsour, etc.) have prominent positions in the party. Odeh is a terrorist that participated in a PLO attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 that murdered two Jews. Ellison is an anti-Semite that also defends cop killers. He was a long standing member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. Sarsour calls for Israels destruction and she supports Palestinian mass murderers of Jews. Malcolm Hoenlein, the head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, pretends that even anti-Semites oppose anti-Semitism, stating that we cant afford a split on Israel among the Democrats and the Republicans. The fight against anti-Semitism is compromised if Jew hating Democrats are viewed as legitimate partners in fighting anti-Semitism, when they aid and abet anti-Semitism.

There are no Christian states striving to wipe Israel off the map, and there no groups in Hinduism or Buddhism seeking to push Jews into the sea; however, Iran repeatedly states its desire to wipe Israel off the map, and large sections of the Muslim world have become a cesspit of Jewish hatred. Polls of Muslims from various countries indicate significant percentages of Muslims have rabid hatred of Jews.

American Jews undermining Trump because of hurt feelings, irrational fear or lust for power will do more to put Israel and Jews in jeopardy than any Trump administration official or travel ban on foreign nationals from hostile regions ever could. Whatever tensions exist between Trump and both Republican-controlled houses of Congress, they share one thing in common: support of Israel. This should not be interpreted that the Trump administration will favor annexation or a one-state policy. Trump has made it clear that he endorses a two-state policy but, in contrast to Obama, he stipulates that it cannot be imposed without providing Israel with defensible borders and all of the security guarantees it requires. Presently, this objective is unattainable.

During the Obama administration, leaders of the American Jewish community demanded increased Muslim immigration, and supported the lawlessness promoted by BLM. Now, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, they are shocked, shocked that there are increased anti-Semitic attacks and increasing bomb threats to Jewish Centers in the U.S. Unfettered immigration from many Muslim countries pose a problem for Jews more than most. If Jews cannot remove leaders that put their party before their community, they should form new organizations to defend their interests. Moreover, American Jews should wish President Trump well. May his triumphs be many.

Read more:
American Jews and the Trump Administration – The Jewish Press –

San Diego’s Jewish history gets its own exhibit – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The Lewis Bank of Commerce, a twin-towered 1888 landmark in the Gaslamp District, is an enduring monument to its builder, Isidor Lewis.

In his day, though, Lewis was revered for creations that literally melted away.

He was the first to make ice cream in San Diego, said historian Joellyn Zollman. He was the most popular man in town!

Zollman is the curator of Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diegos Jewish Community, a San Diego History Center exhibition that opens Sunday.

For many Jews and gentiles, this will be an unfamiliar tale. Most treatments of the Jewish experience in the United States focus on the far side of the continent.

The larger narrative is really the New York story, Zollman said. Thats an important story, the headline story, but its not everyones story.

San Diegos role in this story is smaller, but it has a special resonance today. As a new wave of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism convulses the country, our local Jewish heritage offers several lessons.

San Diegos Jews have been both valued insiders and maligned outsiders. The show explores this groups varied identities, while reflecting on themes that are relevant to all Americans: immigration, diversity, tolerance.

These are all covered in this exhibition, said William Lawrence, the centers executive director. I think this is really needed right now.

In 1850, the year California entered the Union, Louis Rose entered San Diego.

A German immigrant who is believed to be the areas first Jewish settler, Rose enjoyed spectacular success in his new home. He developed Roseville, part of Point Loma; served as Old Towns postmaster; and gave his name to Rose Canyon.

His failures were spectacular, too his seaweed-stuffed mattress made bedtime a smelly, crunchy affair. Yet both his ups and downs underlined an unusual aspect about 19th century San Diego.

Being Jewish seemed to pose no barriers to entry to that society, Zollman said.

In this small town, gentiles and Jews lived, worked and socialized together. Rose came to San Diego from Texas via stage coach. He became friends and then a business partner with James Robinson, a fellow passenger but not a fellow Jew.

This is something you do not see then on the East Coast, Zollman said. Jews were much more integrated in the West.

More evidence of this is seen in the exhibitions 1890s photo of the Schiller & Murtha Baseball Team. The squad was sponsored by a dry goods store founded by Jacob Schiller, a Jew, and Francis Murtha, a Catholic.

Thats extraordinary, said Zollman, who earned a PhD in Jewish history from Brandeis University. In New York at the time, the Irish Catholic community and the Jewish community, there was a lot of tension.

Co-existence did not mean being co-opted, or discarding religious customs. In her 1856-57 diary, 17-year-old Victoria Jacobs complained as some teens still do about having to clean her familys Old Town home before the Sabbath.

Yet this vivacious teen also recounted visits with the Whaleys, the Picos and other local grandees, plus trips to the mission for theatrical entertainments.

You can see this Jewish family was highly integrated into San Diego society, Zollman said.

For Jewish settlers, these were good times too good to last.

Growth brought San Diego new marvels, from Balboa Park to pioneer aviators, and new tensions. Local membership in the Ku Klux Klan grew in the 1920s and 30s. Hitlers rise in Germany was applauded by Silver Shirts, American fascists with units in several cities, including San Diego.

The 30s also saw the debut of The Broom, a local newspaper that railed against Jews, blacks, Mexicans, and labor unions.

Real estate covenants banned the sale of properties to non-whites and non-Christians. Although a 1948 federal law prohibited housing discrimination and California adopted similar legislation in the 50s, buyers and sellers found ways to evade these laws.

Discrimination went underground, Zollman said. This was the gentlemans agreement.

In the 1950s, though, the prospect of a major university in La Jolla an area known for its hostility to Jews dealt a lethal blow to this practice.

Zollman quoted Roger Revelle, the scientist who championed the establishment of UC San Diego: You can have a university or an anti-Semitic covenant. You cant have both.

They had some trouble attracting Jewish professors in the beginning, Zollman said. They had heard about La Jolla.

To gauge local attitudes, four Jewish professors who were new to campus made a pact. One would apply for membership at the private La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

They thought if he could get into the club, no problem, Zollman said.

The professor was accepted. No problem.

Today, San Diego County is home to about 90,000 Jews. Its a small group, but notable for its diversity about one in five was born abroad, in Mexico, South Africa, Syria and other nations.

As was true in the 1850s, Jews are entwined in the areas fabric. Its tough to imagine San Diego without Irwin and Joan Jacobs, their charitable gifts or the Fortune 500 company they helped found, Qualcomm.

Or without the Salk Institute, established by Jonas Salk and given form by the architect Louis Kahn. Without the San Diego Public Librarys rare book collection, started by Julius Wagenheim. Without the San Diego Museum of Art, co-founded by Alice Klauber.

Its been that way since the day Louis Rose rolled into town.

These pioneer Jews, Zollman said, played outsize roles in establishing San Diego.

Which brings us back to Isidor Lewis. The 19th century merchant helped bring opera to San Diego. Ice, too, all the way from the Sierra Nevada.

Zollman tells many stories is this exhibition, including the life of a cultured builder, haberdasher and ice cream vendor. When it comes to San Diegos Jewish history, shes got the scoop.

Read the original post:
San Diego’s Jewish history gets its own exhibit – The San Diego Union-Tribune

District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

A semester-long Holocaust literature class taught in several of Lincolns high schools for more than 15 years will no longer end with a one-day trip to the Holocaust museum in Washington.

At least it wont be a school-sponsored trip, and, as far as Lincoln Southeast High School teacher Paul Smith is concerned, that means he wont be able to take students.

To me that says that theyre not going to cover me for a substitute, for liability, period, said Smith, who created the class at Southeast in 2001.

Smith said the classes haven’t gone on trips to Washington for a few years because the airline cost had become prohibitive. But he checks each semester, and found some good deals for this spring.

So he planned the trip, sent information home to parents and told his principal, who said he needed to get permission from the district office.

The answer: the district no longer sponsors the trip.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for instruction, said the policy regarding trips was revised in 2014 and district officials determined the Holocaust literature trip should not be sponsored, though the teacher could still take students in a non-sponsored trip.

LPS policy allows principals to approve field trips during the regular school day. It also allows for travel for extracurricular activities such as sports and fine arts.

Nonroutine trips require approval of the district office. Many of the trips taken by bands, swing choirs, dance groups or students in various competitions such as We The People fall into that category.

The policy says nonsponsored school trips — those where the district takes no responsibility — include such things as travel for club sports teams, an out-of-state band trip organized by a booster club or a foreign language teacher taking students abroad during the summer. The trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum now falls under that umbrella in school policy.

They can still take the trip, Stavem said.

When the policy was revised, district officials wanted to be more consistent about making sure all school trips followed district policy. For instance, the policy requires all students have the opportunity to take the trip, even low-income students who qualify for a waiver of student fees, she said.

Among the factors the district considers are the length of absence, the educational value, adequate supervision, alternatives that would be closer to home and the amount of preparation.

The fact that the trip happened in the middle of the week and travel required students be up late, and the lack of extended planning were among the reasons the trip wasn’t approved to be sponsored, Stavem said.

Mark Gudgel, who taught the Holocaust class at Southwest for a decade and now teaches at Omaha Public Schools, said the trip is an experience that cant be duplicated in class.

Frankly it doesnt seem like whats best for kids is being considered at all, he said. In my experience the experiential learning that takes place in one of those museums and outside the classroom far exceeds what I can do in the classroom. Ive witnessed it changing students lives.

Gudgel joined LPS because he wanted to teach such a class. He often expanded the trips his students took to several days to include a visit to New York City.

Today, he teaches humanities classes at Omaha North High School and has loosely modeled similar trips after the LPS Holocaust classes.

The top headlines from Delivered at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday.

The Holocaust literature class delves into the Holocaust and uses that as a basis to talk about present-day genocides, tolerance, prejudice and discrimination.

Interest in the class grew rapidly in those early years and by 2003, and today, most of the LPS high schools offer a Holocaust literature class.

Smith said in the years when the classes didn’t travel to Washington, he tried to find speakers but there was no regular alternative.

And he said he doesnt understand how a trip like this differs from trips taken by school bands or dance troupes.

You can take a bunch of kids dancing in Orlando for a week, he said. I just want to take them to a museum for crying out loud.

Because of seating limitations on the plane, he said hes had to use a lottery system for the trips in the past. And theres always a waiting list for the class. When they traveled, Smith typically researched the flights and shared the information with teachers at other schools.

You cant put a price tag on the experience kids get at the museum, Smith said.

What we have in our own nations capitol is second to none, he said. The insight you get looking at things through a different lens, survivors who are volunteers, historians. You are getting first-hand experiences, first-hand knowledge — things you cant get from literature, a book or a video.

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District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

Switzerland to launch Holocaust remembrance app – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Switzerland to launch Holocaust remembrance app


March 12, 2017 12:55

The app, called Fliehen vor dem Holocaust, or Escaping the Holocaust, allows users to learn about the fate of four individuals using multimedia tools.

ROMANIAN JEWS visit an exhibition about the Holocaust in Romania at the Elie Wiesel Institute for Holocaust Studies during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in Bucharest in 2006.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

BERLIN A new app to teach youth about the Holocaust will be a centerpiece of Switzerlands chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Switzerland took over the rotating chairmanship of the 31-member inter-governmental group on March 7 from Romania.

The app, called Fliehen vor dem Holocaust, or Escaping the Holocaust, allows users to learn about the fate of four individuals using multimedia tools.

Educators must take on the challenge of virtual reality so youth will grasp that we are speaking about people, not merely about numbers, Benno Bttig, secretary-general of Switzerlands Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a ceremony at the Swiss embassy in Berlin.

Founded in 1998, the alliance aims to unite political and social leaders behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research.

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Switzerland to launch Holocaust remembrance app – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Teaching the Holocaust so students are "safely in and safely out" –


Last updated10:38, March 13 2017


Timaru Boys’ High School history head teacher Dr Jill Harland says learning about how to teach the Holocaust to students in Israel was “life-changing”.

A “life-changing” trip to Israel has revolutionised the way the Holocaust is taught in a South Canterbury school.

Survivor testimonies and new teaching resources were not all that were brought back to the region by a Timaru Boys’ High School teacher.

The trip, sponsored by The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre Yad Vashem and Wellington-based Holocaust Museum of New Zealand, encouraged teachers to consider different perspectives on how to teach about genocide.


Timaru Boys’ High School history head teacher Doctor Jill Harland shows a photo of Kristallnacht, when violent anti-Jewish attacks took place across Germany.

Instead of leaving students with a sense of dejection, history head teacher Dr Jill Harland said she wanted to leave them with a sense of hope for the future.

She spent three weeks based in Jerusalem, attending lectures and visiting historical sites on the weekends, while also meeting with Holocaust survivors and hearing their testimonies.

“You do come back with a different perspective,” Harland said. “You want to be a better teacher.”

She now taught students about the Holocaust using the concept of “safely in and safely out”.

It introduced students slowly and non-threateningly to the material, which could be used to study other genocides and confronting material, she said.

The information was then presented with context and other interpretations to create a holistic perspective.

“It doesn’t leave them with a sense of discomfort and horror”, but it did not diminish the atrocities that had happened, she said.

The build-up of anti-Semitism was presented, rather than a “cut and paste situation”, and it provided a more comprehensive impression, Harland said.

The Holocaust survivors did not reflect on the past, instead they lived in the present with hope, she said.

“Their ultimate revenge is being alive and having children.”

Many teachers were tempted to teach the Holocaust just after Nazism and the Weimar Republic, Harland said..

Instead, she now took her students into the ancient history of anti-Semitism so they understood the growth of hatred towards Jewish people did not start or end with the Nazis.

“Hitler’s strategies were taken from ancient history.”

Her teaching method incorporated discussions about Holocaust deniers, the role of bystanders as well as what happened in countries, such as Lithuania.

“Sometimes there’s only a focus on a victim and a perpetrator, and we need to also consider bystanders,” she said.

“You learn about the whole event through different people’s eyes.

“It’s not just the Jewish perspective.”

Harland shipped home dozens of resources, including a series of historical photographs with annotations which depicted the rise of Nazism in Germany from 1933.

One of them depicted the Kristallnacht, which loosely translates to the “night of broken glass”, when violent anti-Jewish attacks took place across Germany on November 9 and 10, 1938.

Including context did not justify the actions, but it provided a more holistic way of understanding why they happened, she said.

Harland has considered adding a component of art and literature study to her teaching.

“I want to find out more about it … it’s incredible, some was produced in ghettos and death camps.”

The hope people felt was left behind in their artworks, she said.

Not all New Zealand schools teach students about the Holocaust.

Ministry of Education early learning and student achievement acting group manager Glen Johnson said teaching it was not a requirement for schools.

“New Zealand schools are self-governing. Therefore they determine the content of their teaching and learning programmes and how those subjects will be taught in consultation with their school community,” Johnson said.


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Teaching the Holocaust so students are "safely in and safely out" –

A Holocaust historian from Yale says post-truth is the beginning of fascism – The indy100


We live in post-truth times. Fake news is everywhere; if were not reading it, we’reseeing Trump accusingreputable news outletsof it.

Instead of laughing about the ridiculousness though, a prominent historian thinks we should be very worried indeed.

Timothy Snyder, a professor of European history at Yale, wrote a very long Facebook post after Donald Trump won the US election last November.

He warned Americans that they need to learn the lessons of Europeans whove lived through Nazism, fascism and communism.

And now, Snyder is bringing out a book, On tyranny, with the same message.

He told Vox:

The Europeans who saw their regimes change were not necessarily less wise than we are. I’d be tempted to say they’re wiser, in fact.

I think we have a lot of good attributes in our society, in our political system, but also we’ve been lucky a lot of the time.

It’s important to be humble and to realise that past success is no guarantee of future returns.

We think that because we’re America, everything will work itself out.

But the most disturbing thing he has to say?

Post-truth is pre-fascism. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.

So what happens next is going to depend on us.

More: Republicans are now openly calling Donald Trump a fascist

More: This list of 14 early warning signs of fascism is going viral for good reason

Original post:
A Holocaust historian from Yale says post-truth is the beginning of fascism – The indy100

Omidyar Network and the Anti-Defamation League are launching a center to combat cyberhate – TechCrunch

With hate crimes reportedlyon the riseacross the country and online, the Anti-DefamationLeague is setting up a new outpost in Silicon Valley, backed by the Omidyar Network, to look at ways to use technology tofight back.

Racially and religiously motivated threats were on the rise in the run-up to the election and have continued into the new year. Eventshave culminated inthe murder of an Indian man in Kansas Citylast month and the shooting of a Sikh man in a Washington state suburb outside of Seattle just last week. Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented over 1,000 incidentsthrough the month of January alone, following the election of President Donald Trump.

Jewish communities across the U.S. have also been targeted, with at least 152 bomb threats reported at community centers and synagogues around the country.

The ADLsees the Internet asincreasingly driving thedissemination and promotion of hate speech in the modern era and is looking to marshal the resources of Silicon Valleys techcommunity to create better tools to monitor, track, analyze and mitigate hate speech and harassment across the Internet, according to a statement.

As ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt has said:

1.8 billion people are on Facebook 500 million tweets are sent out every day. No matter how you cut it, its incredibly important to make sure we are taking the fight to where the country and the world is at. Simply put, its online.

Though the ADL has long maintained a presence in San Francisco, the new office in Silicon Valley will be a command center from which the organization hopes to combat all kinds of cyberthreats.

Beyond its work monitoring and reporting hate speech, the group will also look at methods to better secure the online presence of various minority organizations; examine the seam between digital rights and the creation of a civil society, and look to partner with leading technology companies to ensure the safety of online communities.

The ADL is already working with Alphabet and its Jigsaw division (formerly Google Labs), on ways to improve its software developed to identify and filter propaganda and hate speech.

Since the earliest days of the Internet, the ADL has tracked hate speech online. Now with the increasing importance of the internet in public life, the need is greater than ever, Greenblatt says.

Helmed by former Department of Justice lawyer,Brittan Heller, the new center will author reports and publish data on cyberhate and cyberbullying; engagepartners and provide insight to policy makers; and expose and combat specific cases of online harassment and cyberbullying, according to a report.

According tothe statement fromGreenblatt,

Now more than ever as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other hatreds have exploded online, its critical that we are bringing best-in-class technology and resources to this fight. Thats why we will build this center in Silicon Valley, and why we are so grateful to Omidyar Network for providing seed funding for this effort.This is a natural extension of the cyber hate work ADL has been doing for decades and builds on the new presence we established last year in the Valley to collaborate even closer on the threat with the tech industry.

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Omidyar Network and the Anti-Defamation League are launching a center to combat cyberhate – TechCrunch

2 More Bomb Threats Hit Centers In Silicon Valley, Brooklyn – Jewish Week

A Jewish Community Center in Silicon Valley and a Brooklyn Jewish senior center both received bomb threats.

The Addison-Penzak JCC in Los Gatos, California, was evacuated Thursday after receiving a bomb threat at11:45 a.m. The building also includes a day school and the local offices of the Jewish federation and Jewish Family Services, a social service group.

According to a Facebook post by the center, the evacuation proceeded smoothly and police came with canine units to investigate. By 4:50 p.m., law enforcement determined that the threat was a hoax and everyone returned to the building.

Another bomb threat was received Friday morning by the Jasa Senior Citizen Center in Brooklyn, New York, via text message, according to News12 Brooklyn. The threat came one day after the Jewish Childrens Museum in Brooklyn was evacuated due to a threat.

Early this morning, before office hours, a bomb threat was sent by text to a staff member who works at a JASA office on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. A statement from JASA said, Staff were advised immediately to report to another location. The police were alerted and are investigating. Law enforcement has advised that this threat, in all likelihood, was a hoax.

These latest threats come days after a wave of bomb threats Wednesday hit 20 JCCs, day schools and offices of the Anti-Defamation League. In total, more than 100 bomb threats have targeted Jewish institutions since the beginning of the year.

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2 More Bomb Threats Hit Centers In Silicon Valley, Brooklyn – Jewish Week

Iran’s FM Accuses Netanyahu of ‘Falsifying Torah,’ Resorting to ‘Fake History’ – Haaretz

Rejecting Netanyahu’s Purim analogy, Javad Zarif says Iran saved Jews three times in history.

A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared between the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim and the threat posed by Iran, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif responded by accusing him of “falsifying Torah” and resorting to “fake history.”

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu tweeted a video from the ceremonial reading of the Book of Esther from his local synagogue in Cesaria. In the video, Netanyahu tells the story of Purim to young children. “In Persia, they wanted to kill us but it didn’t work,” Netanyahu said. “Today, too, Persians are trying to destroy us, but today, too, it will not work.”

Netanyahu made similar comments during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. After Putin wished Jews in Israel and in Russia a happy Purim, Netanyahu told him that 2,500 years ago, ancient Persia tried to destroy the Jewish people, but failed, and that’s why Jews mark the holiday of Purim.

“Today there is an attempt and the continuation of Persia, Iran, to destroy the Jewish state,” Netanyahu added.

On Sunday evening, Zarif’s response arrived in the form of a tweet: “To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews three times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit.”

“The Book of Esther tells how Xerxes I saved Jews by a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite,” he wrote, adding that “again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian king saved the Jews this time from captivity in Babylon; and during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in.”

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Iran’s FM Accuses Netanyahu of ‘Falsifying Torah,’ Resorting to ‘Fake History’ – Haaretz

Smugglers of rare Torah scroll caught in Tunisia – The Times of Israel

Tunisian authorities announced over the weekend that they thwarted an attempt to smuggle a rare Torah scroll dated to the 15th century out of the country, the Hebrew language Ynet news site reported.

Members of the smuggling network were reportedly apprehended after the authorities received information that the group was trying to transfer the rare Torah school to an unnamed European country.

The Torah scroll, which is said to be made of ox skin, was revealed to the public during a press conference by a spokesman from the Tunisian National Guard, Khalifa al-Shibani, who described it as a one of a kind historical artifact, according to the Ynet report on Saturday.

Al-Shibana told reporters that experts at Tunisias National Heritage Institute confirmed that the [Torah] scroll is a rare artistic and historic artifact from the 15th century.

The spokesman said that Hebrew-language experts who examined the manuscript said that it contains all five books of the Torah, with the text pre-dating the version of the Torah in use today.

Al-Shibana gave no details on where the scroll had been taken from or or what authorities planed to do with it now.

A tourist visits El Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, on the Island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, October 29, 2015. (AP/Mosaab Elshamy)

Around 1,500 Jews live in Tunisia as of 2016, down sharply from an estimated 100,000 before the country won independence from France in 1956.

Most of the Jews still living in Tunisia live on the island of Djerba, whose Ghriba synagogue has become a popular pilgrimage site for tourists during the Jewish festival of Lag BOmer.

AFP contributed to this report.

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Smugglers of rare Torah scroll caught in Tunisia – The Times of Israel

Torah Day School offers first Purim Carnival – The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times
Torah Day School offers first Purim Carnival
The Seattle Times
Rabbi Shmuel Brody, with congregation Ashreichem Yisrael, holds his 1-year-old daughter, Rivka, while his son, Malachi, 12, gets a cotton candy at the first Purim Carnival held at Torah Day School of Seattle on Sunday. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times).

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Torah Day School offers first Purim Carnival – The Seattle Times