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

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.

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

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.

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

Unity rally Sunday to counter anti-Semitism – The Courier-Journal


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Scene during the We Stand Together Rally for Unity at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, KY. March 12, 2017(Photo: By Frankie Steele, Special to CJ)Buy Photo

Dr. Michelle Elisburg of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, was in Louisville Sunday to send a message to those who’vebeen terrorizingthe Jewish peoplewith bomb threats and other forms of harassment nationwide.

Were not going to cower in a corner, said Elisburg, who is Jewish. Were not going to be afraid.

Elisburg, 46, was among an estimated 400 people who gathered outside the Jewish Community Center on Dutchmans Lane for the We Stand Together Rally for Unity.

The center hostedthe rally, along with the Jewish Federation of Louisville, after having to temporarily evacuate last Wednesday because of a bomb threat reminiscent of others that have occurred in this country in recent months. The rally served as a call to action to peace-loving people from all backgrounds.

We have no time to be silent, said Sara Wagner, president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Community of Louisville. Its a time to stand together and look together at the things that we do stand for, not the hate that other people stand for.

Scene during the We Stand Together Rally for Unity at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, KY. March 12, 2017(Photo: By Frankie Steele, Special to CJ)

Sunday afternoon, a cross section of people of various hues andfaiths including Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and Episcopalians stood shoulder to shoulder, applauding and singing patriotic songsoutside the center to show their support for the Jewish community.

The outpouring of concern and love that has come from everyone standing here on our front steps today and on our front lawn has been truly amazing, Wagner told the crowd. Every day, we wake up ready to celebrate Jewish life and to open our doors wide to the entire community.

The bomb threat at the center follows a rash of such attacks across the country this year that has included not only bomb threats but thedesecration of gravesites at cemeteries in Philadelphia and in Missouri as well asswastikasput on cars in Miami Beach, according to a news report.

Louisville, don’t just rally today. We need you every day.

Jewish institutions, such as community centers, schools and synagogues, have received more than 150 threats in the last three months, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a national civil rights and human relations organization. League offices also weretargeted.

A former journalist,Juan Thompson, has been charged in connection with some of the threats. He allegedly was involved in a scheme to make his ex-girlfriend look guilty, according to the Associated Press.

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But the threats have continued. For example, Wagner told the rally crowd that there had been another threat earlier in the day directed at a Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis. Its happening way too often, she said. Every one of these threats is too much.

Her comments were echoed by Congressman John Yarmuth, who said it was important for everyone to keepcoming out to rallies to say no to hatred, no to bigotry, no to ignorance and intolerance.

Dani Harper holds a ‘hate has no home’ sign during the We Stand Together Rally for Unity at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, KY. March 12, 2017(Photo: By Frankie Steele, Special to CJ)

Yarmuth, who is Jewish,said the issue is personal to him because he grew up at the Jewish Community Center and knows Louisville voters.

I know the kind of compassionate, tolerant, open community that we have, and in fact, thats true of our country as well,” he said.”What were seeing in these acts of hatred are not representative of this nation, this community, or I believe, the world.

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Sadiqa Reynolds, president and chief executive of the Louisville Urban League, told the crowd it’s important to support the Jewish people but for the Louisville community to also stand together on other key issues, such as attempts to segregate the schools. “Louisville, don’t just rally today,” she said. “We need you every day.”

Muhammad Babar, president of Muslim Americans for Compassion, lamented the county’s inability, thus far, to break down barriers that lead to division. He also spoke of children who lost their lives during the Holocaust. “We cannot bring back those children, who never lived to be adults … but we can promise them and we can swear on their innocence that never again in our world any group of people will be threatened or harmed on the basis of their religious beliefs, gender, skin color or sexual orientation,” he said.

Reporter Darla Carter can be reached at (502) 582-7068 or

Scene during the We Stand Together Rally for Unity at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, KY. March 12, 2017(Photo: By Frankie Steele, Special to CJ)

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Unity rally Sunday to counter anti-Semitism – The Courier-Journal

Michael Eisenberg – Tablet Magazine

The recent appointment of Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman as President of Yeshiva University (YU) serves as an opportunity to reflect on the state of Modern or Centrist Orthodoxy in America. Personally, I think he is an excellent choice for the role. (Full disclosure: Rabbi Berman is a friend; we studied together in the same shiur at YU and in classes at the Gruss Kollel in Jerusalem.) However, I think his appointment belies a much deeper malaise in American Orthodoxy that requires exploration.

At least publicly, YU seemed to be considering two types of candidates: An academic or Jewish thinker, rabbi or visionary, or, alternatively, a very capable fundraiser or businessman. The Universitys financial issues after the Madoff fraud, the financial crisis, and other reported financial mismanagement seemed to initially steer people to the fundraiser candidate. Thankfully, the board moved to Berman, who is a thoughtful and thought-provoking rabbi with an academic degree. Appointing a fundraiser would have missed, perhaps, the fundamental issue afflicting both American Orthodoxy and YU: First you run out of ideas, then you run out of money.

I view the recent debate around the OU position paper on women in the same light. Without commenting on the actual position taken by the seven-member rabbinic panel (some of whom were my esteemed rabbis and teachers at YU), I think it is reasonable to conclude that this has come too late. The changes in womens prominence in Torah and halakhic issues, engendered primarily by ground-breaking programs in Nishmat, Matan, and Midreshet Lindenbaum in Israel, has evolved over the last 20 years. The debate on womens roles and the community roles they have occupied and continue to serve in, has been proceeding in the United States for over a decade. It would appear that the papers focus on clergy was a response to Rabbi Avi Weiss, who successfully provoked that issue from the outside and effectively laid the framework for the response. Unfortunately, only now, when it simmered past the boiling point in America, was it taken up in a serious manner.

Here, too, a central issue affecting the future of American orthodoxy was not led by the ideas and ideals of American Orthodoxy. It was, to use a political term, led from behind, or reacted to. Of course, when we think back to Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchiks groundbreaking positions on womens Torah learningTorah in general, our approach to modern society, and other ideas and ideals critical to American Orthodoxyone can only longingly marvel at the Ravs leadership, ideas, ideals, and wisdom.

I think these two issues are related. American orthodoxy is suffering from a lack of ideas and ideals that are the direct result of a lack of leadership. The question is: What happened to those leaders? I think the answer is inherent in the appointment of Rabbi Dr. Berman. Like Rabbi Berman, they, the future leaders, moved to Israel. Moreover, I would argue, the ideas and ideals that animate American Orthodoxy and will, necessarily, impel it forward in the 21st century, have also moved to Israel. I think we can spot the watershed moment when the future leadership departed.

From 1991-92, I was the news editor of The Commentator, the student newspaper of Yeshiva University. While happily minding my business at a bar mitzvah, I overheard two YU board members discussing the potential decision to close down the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. A short time later, I broke the story in The Commentator, leading to a wave of protests, intrigue, and showdowns between the YU Administration and its students. I can still hear the drum beats in President Lamms office, and the chants of protestors outside of Furst Hall. The words of The Day the Revel died sung to the tune of American Pie still linger in my head. These memories were recently brought to the fore.

Protests outside Furst Hall, circa 1992. CAPTION AND CREDIT HERE

I was the reporter of those events but many of its protagonists were my friends. Importantly, many are still my friends today. One of the leaders of the protests recently sent me an email with a photo of one of the demonstrations with the caption, We used to learn about history, now we are a relic of history. Actually, I told him, In fact you are a part of the future.

This photo of those Revel protests is hanging in a new lounge for the Revel School in Washington Heights. Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, who sent me the picture, described his strange feeling at walking into the lounge to give a talk and seeing himself on the wall. When he sent it to me, I kept staring at it. I could not tear myself away from looking at all of the people and placards. Part of it was nostalgia. Part of it was reliving the excitement of those times, where westudents, professors, board members and reporterscan now say that we saved the Revel graduate school. It is certainly good to feel young again, the memories of the adrenaline rushing through my system as we hurried out newspaper after newspaper to keep up with the events.

However, as I looked more closely at the picture, my adrenaline and nostalgia were overwhelmed by a sense of foreboding. This picture did not tell the story of the Revel Graduate School and its salvation. It told the story of a watershed moment in American Jewish History, particularly Modern Orthodox Jewish history in America. It was the moment the future leadership, ideas, and ideals made Aliyah.

I look closely at the pictures Michael Segal, whose drumbeats in Dr. Lamms office still give me a headache, is now Professor Michael Segal and head of the Mandel Institute of Bible Studies at Hebrew University (where he also serves as editor of the University Bible Project). Rabbi Saks is now running ATID with Rabbi Chaim Brovender, an institute which trains Orthodox educators from around the world. Rabbi Hillel Novetsky is embarking on one of the most ambitious online Torah projects ever. Called, Rabbi Novetsky is using modern web technology to enable Torah and Bible study at a high level. Rabbi Yitzchak Blau teaches at many seminaries in the Jerusalem area.

Of the original seven members of CPR (The Committee for the Preservation of Revel), five are living in Israel: Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, Saks, Segal, Novetsky, and Beth Zuckerman Prebor. Two of them, Rabbis Robert Klapper and Yaakov Blau, have remained in the U.S. Many, many others who were involved at the time are living in Israel and are well-regarded educators and intellectuals. I know because I see them and reminisce with them often. The people who cared deeply about Judaism, Jewish thought, and the future of Jewish educationenough to risk their reputations and careersmoved to Israel, where they teach many of the Centrist-Orthodox American kids in Yeshivot and Universities in Israel.


What happened in that time is that the future intellectual and Jewish leadership of Modern Orthodoxy and perhaps Orthodoxy as a whole decided to make Aliyah. Like Nehemia, 2,500 years ago they decided to leave Shushan behind and move to Israel to build the future of the Jewish people. Some of those involved in the Revel protests stayed and have gone on to do wonderful things in America. However, the critical mass of young potential leaders moved on and with it the animated vision for the future. Perhaps, this is but the expansion of a trend that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein started 40-plus years ago when he moved his family to Israel and to where he said was the Major Leagues of Torah. However, over the last two decades, beginning with the Revel leaders, the trend has gained steam and it is now decisive.

Those who were focused on the future of the Jewish people understood that it was happening in Zion. Despite being immigrants and having accents, they have integrated and influenced Israeli society and the future of World Judaism because the future is not in America nor England. Jewish tradition, innovation and renaissance in Tanach, ritual, Torah, and life is happening in Israel. It is where the vibrant discussion is taking place and where the intellectual leadership resides. The core debates on our future are happening in Israel. To wit, the same discussion on womens roles is happening in Israel but it is causing far less of a schism. There is more of a rainbow in the national and religious spectrum that accommodates it so the discussion is, in fact, more nuanced and civilized. As I referenced earlier, it is in Israel that most of the Yoatzot (female, Halakhic advisers) are trained and where the idea was birthed. Nishmats Rabbanit Henkin pioneered this vision almost two decades ago and Malka Bina at Matan took womens learning to new heights. Like Rav Lichtenstein, both were American and they too made aliyah with these indispensable ideas and ideals.

That same sense is what I think explains the choice to bring Rabbi Ari Berman back to Yeshiva University as its president. Think about it. The leading institution of Orthodoxy in America could not find anyone in America to lead it. It had to go to Israel, where, apparently they too realized that both the center of Torah and the vision for Judaism and Jewish identity has moved. American Orthodoxy has long promoted Zionism, however, the numbers of olim coming from its communities has been sparse and remains a slowish drip. Rarely, if ever, does a leading pulpit rabbi in Teaneck, Woodmere, or Los Angeles stand up and suggest that one should follow his Zionist ideals and Jewish depth to Israel. The last one may have been Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who left behind Lincoln Square Synagogue at his and its height to settle a hilltop in Efrat and who has influenced Judaism globally from Israel. And so the dissonance continues. The potential idealist leaders, creative innovators and new ideas have already moved to Zion over the last two decades and assumed meaningful positions in Israel.

I guess, on some level, American Orthodoxy succeeded in exporting its future but not its masses.

What are those ideas and ideals that can inspire American Orthodoxy for the future? Actually, here too I think looking at Israel is instructive and perhaps, even more worrisome for American Orthodoxy. It is not only at the level of Jewish ideas that Israel is now leading, it is also where the future economy and economic moorings of the Jewish people is moving. As the innovation economy continues to gather steam, influence and wealth is increasingly coming from technology centers and entrepreneurship. For the last almost 100 years, the center of Jewish philanthropy and wealth has been New York City. This is quickly changing. It is simultaneously moving to San Francisco and Tel Aviv and for the same reason: technological innovation. These are transitions that take decades but they are well underway and it has profound implications.

This foundational economic change is a challenge for Yeshiva University and American (Orthodox) Jewry as a whole. It is a multi-faceted challenge. The first one is occupational. More and more jobs are moving to the technology sector. Moreover, many of the well-paying traditional professional jobs that Orthodox Jews occupy are also under threat of disruption from automation, Artificial Intelligence and technology, emanating from San Francisco, Tel Aviv and New York itself. Jewish educational institutions in America are woefully behind in the sciences, technology and entrepreneurship. This is true for most elementary schools and all the way through to my alma mater YU. Catching up is going to be very expensive and very difficult in a system that is already financially strained.

Many American Jews who want their children to raise families, to send their kids to Jewish day schools are in a conundrum. Families likely cannot send their children to Jewish Day School without a scholarship unless they have a steady and/or very high income. Most innovation sector jobs pay less initially (although that is changing) and are higher risk from the perspective of career stability. In the innovation economy you will switch jobs, willy-nilly, every 3-5 years. Due to the aforementioned technology disruption and the changing nature of employment, it is very likely that over the coming decades, you are not going to be a lifetime employee at Morgan Stanley or Simpson Thatcher. The economy and world is changing and is ever more entrepreneurial and unstable. We are passing through the professional job era of my son is a Jewish doctor or my son is a Jewish lawyer that the community has grown accustomed to.

Which brings me to the fundamental challenge of the coming decades. If the leading minds of American Orthodoxy are moving to Israel and if the leading Torah and Jewish institutions are in Israel, and the innovation-centric wealth will grow in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, what will be left of the intellectual vision for American Jewry, particularly Orthodox Jewry whose epicenter is New York and the East Coast. Who, in the academic, rabbinic, and lay leadership will articulate a vision beyond Torah UMadda at Yeshiva University and the broader community? If the future leadership continues to make Aliyah, who will paint a path forward for a communal and community ethos? Who will confront growing assimilation? Birthright long ago outsourced its Jewish identity needs to Israel by sending kids there for 10 days. A one-year gap program in Israel is now de rigueur for most Orthodox Jewish kids and many Jewish youth of other denominations wishing to grow in Torah studies and Jewish identity. To this day, the U.S. Jewish community has been unable to provide this deep identity need. That search and crystallization of identity for most Jewish kids has moved to Israel.

So now what? A priori, there are two choices. The first is to attempt to rebuild and seriously address the future. With one eye toward ever-encroaching assimilation, American (Orthodox) Jewry must rediscover both its leadership and its ethos. American Orthodoxy must effectively confront these many issues, from technology (in both the Jewish and professional sense) to womens leadership and other critical issues of our time. That will require new ideas, ideals, and a cadre of leaders. Since we are all trained to think linearly, that is the natural choice. However, I would argue that it is a choice wrought with cognitive dissonance between the ideals you are taught and the surroundings you live in. It is a bet that the future of your economic situation looks much like the last 5-6 decades and that your institutions can shift their foci and educational training from a standing start.

The second is to acknowledge the disruption. The future is, in fact, highly non-linear and definitely unpredictable. The politics and economic gyrations of the last decade should make that plain and obvious at this point. Like Nehemia and the Revel Rebels, you can be a part of the non-linear disruption to lead the future of Jewry where the future is happening. YU under Rabbi Berman can lead that Nehemiah-like non-linear future. It can start thinking and acting toward building the Orthodox footbridge to Israel in a serious way. It can join the trend of Jewish leaders following their ideals to Israel and dramatically increase the momentum of that trend. That future includes technology education at the highest levels in the world, a risk-taking ethos in the new 21st century economy, and an affordable Jewish education rooted in a Jewish calendar and Jewish holidays. It is an approach that will be consistent with your ideals, ideas, hopes and prayers. It is not necessarily the most comfortable, or linear, option but it is likely the most effective. It is where the future of your Judaism and Jewishness lies. Perhaps, most importantly, the Jewish State, is also the greatest bulwark against assimilation, the multi-generational assault on Jewish peoplehood, that with the passage of time is overwhelming all denominations of American Jewry.

Michael Eisenberg is a partner at Aleph, a venture capital fund based in Tel Aviv. Recently, he published The Vanishing Jew, A Wake Up Call From The Book of Esther and Ben Baruch, an analysis of Tractate Brachot in the Jerusalem Talmud. He is a graduate of Yeshiva University and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 8 children.

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Michael Eisenberg – Tablet Magazine

Lawrence Family JCC endures numerous bomb threats – San Diego Community News

Following a Feb. 20 bomb threat, which caused La Jolla’s Jewish Community Center to be closed and evacuated, officials are struggling to explain why and what can be done about it.

It was the third similar threat this year at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center at 4126 Executive Drive.

A 31-year-old man, Juan Thompson, was subsequently arrested March 3 in St. Louis. Thompson has allegedly been linked to at least eight bogus bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers across the nation, including La Jolla’s, as part of a campaign to harass a former girlfriend.

In a press release attributed to executive director Michael Cohen, the JCC stated that, at 4:30 p.m. on President’s Day, We received a bomb threat, similar to ones we received in the past and other JCCs have received throughout the country… Law enforcement quickly determined it to be a non-credible hoax. We followed our practiced emergency procedures and safely evacuated our facility. By 6:20 p.m., San Diego Police had concluded its on-site review and the JCC fully reopened to the community by6:30 p.m.

Concerning such hate crimes, JCC commented, It is the very nature of who we are, and the great diversity of those we serve, that draws attention to our work and our mission. As a JCC, we are part of a national Secure Community Network that monitors, advises, and supports the safety and security of Jewish institutions.

In response to these recent threats across the country, we have been working closely with our local police department and national security agencies to monitor the situation and review our protocols, continued JCC’s comments. We have been continually briefed by SCN, the Anti-Defamation League, and the JCC Association to help us understand the circumstances and support our safety and security efforts.

The JCCs leadership team and staff continues to work together, practice safety protocols and are prepared to respond to this type of incidents with the support of local law enforcement, including our adjacent neighbors, the San Diego Police Department Northern Division. We continue to take numerous security measures to ensure the safety of our members and guests.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” One of the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agencies, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

Tammy Gillies, ADL’s regional director for San Diego, noted that Thompson, or any other possible suspects in the series of hoax email threats to JCC’s nationwide, was acting to impart a sense of fear and terror in the community.

It is our job to help the community come together, and hopefully, overcome that fear, was Gillies’ response. We as a Jewish community, and a lot of other minority communities may be targets. We must stand together and continue to live our lives the way we always have. We cannot back down.

She added the silver lining in the series of nationwide bomb threats is that it’s allowed Jewish and other ethnic communities to really work together to help each other. It’s a matter of standing up for one another and being strong. Particularly in San Diego, where we have such an amazing, very diverse community. Standing together is going to make us stronger.

While fighting anti-Semitism, Gillies noted the ADL also stands against hate. Fighting hatred really is our mission. And we do that in a lot of ways, through education, advocacy, working with law enforcement. What we try to do is be a supporter, and a leader, in the community in fighting hate.

Gillies added the investigation into the national string of JCC bomb threats is not over.

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Lawrence Family JCC endures numerous bomb threats – San Diego Community News

Vandalized Capitol Hill synagogue calls for pushback against toxic expression – The Seattle Times

The Seattle synagogue Temple De Hirsch Sinai was vandalized with graffiti saying The Holocaust is fake history. Its rabbi responded: Were not going to allow those who terrorize us to define us.

A synagogue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood was vandalized overnight Thursday with anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying graffiti, said Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

A Seattle police officer discovered the spray-painted message Friday morning on the old sanctuarys facade.

It says, The Holocaust is fake history, Weiner said. The s characters in the graffiti are dollar signs, Weiner said.

It really is a toxic mix of Holocaust denial, the stereotypical charge that Jews are obsessed with money, and the notion coming from the (President Trump) administration that all facts are fungible fake facts, fake history, Weiner said.

Police also investigated a box deemed suspicious because it was found outside a door at the synagogue where deliveries are not made, said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen OToole, who went to the scene. The box contained books that someone had donated to the synagogue, police said.

Shortly after the discovery of the graffiti, a neighbor hung a bedsheet saying Love Wins over the markings, Weiner said.

It was a very sweet gesture and touching, but we took it down I think its extremely important that people see this.

Weiner said the Seattle police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. He said hed been hearing all morning from people who worship at the temple.

People are incredibly hurt and upset. But most of the calls Ive gotten, all of the calls have been supportive, but most have been defiant, he said.

We are going to do our due diligence in terms of security, Weiner said. At the same time, were not going to allow those who terrorize us to define us.

Federal officials have been investigating more than 120 threats since Jan. 9 against Jewish organizations in three dozen states and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

On Feb. 27, a bomb threat forced evacuation of the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island.

Seattle Police Department spokesman Patrick Michaud said officers will be patrolling the area around the temple when they have extra time between 911 calls.

Michaud said police did not have a suspect.

Bias incidents have been rising in Seattle since at least 2012, according to Seattle Police Department statistics. Last year, 255 such incidents were reported to police.

Top police officials had met with temple leaders as recently as Wednesday to discuss concerns over hate crimes.

With all thats happening nationally we want people in all of our communities to feel safe, OToole said. Weve been meeting with people of this temple. Weve been meeting with people in mosques around the city we take these cases very seriously.

Weiner said he has been at Temple De Hirsch Sinai for 16 years. He said the synagogue has experienced minor vandalism before and received a threatening phone call after the election.

But, in my time, theres been nothing like this, Weiner said.

Since the election, Weiner said he believes people who were previously marginalized or silenced now feel newly empowered to express hateful sentiments.

The majority of us need to push back against that and convey that America is still America theres no place for hate or tolerance of toxic expression.

Other communities are also being threatened, Weiner said. This is a considerable and conspicuous upsurge in attacks on all vulnerable minority populations, he said.

Weiner said he and other faith leaders had already been scheduled to meet with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell on Friday afternoon to discuss the rise in hate crimes and possible solutions.

Its a little more imminent and urgent than I had hoped it would be, he said.

Weiner never made it to the meeting. It was announced that he was on his way, but he got news of the suspicious package and had to turn back.

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Vandalized Capitol Hill synagogue calls for pushback against toxic expression – The Seattle Times

Anti-Semitic violence, fear nothing new – NWAOnline

ATLANTA — Amid a surge of bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish institutions nationwide, members of Atlanta’s Jewish community have felt a familiar wave of apprehension about what might come next.

In this Oct. 13, 1958, file photo, authorities investigate the scene of a bomb blast at The Temple on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. If the blast had oc…

Because all of that — and worse — has happened in the city before.

Six decades ago, during the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, 50 sticks of dynamite blasted a ragged hole in Atlanta’s largest synagogue. A generation earlier, in 1915, Jewish businessman Leo Frank was lynched during a wave of anti-Semitism. A variation on this story was the basis for the 1937 Claude Rains film, They Won’t Forget.

Some fear history is once again arcing toward the viperous climate that set the stage for the earlier violence.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the attacks and threats and desecration of Jewish cemeteries in recent days,” said playwright Jimmy Maize, whose play The Temple Bombing is on stage this month at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater. “I have to say that writing this play feels too much like history repeating itself.”

His play, which addresses anti-Semitism, fear and courage through the drama of the 1958 explosion, was inspired by a book by Atlanta author Melissa Fay Greene.

“We learned over several decades the power of hate speech,” Greene said. “It can lead to people being harmed and killed.”

Recently, more than 100 headstoneswere discovered toppled or damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Jewish community centers and schools in several states also have been targets of recent bomb scares.

On March 3, federal officials said a 31-year-old man is a suspect in at least eight of the threats made against Jewish institutions nationwide, and a bomb threat to New York’s Anti-Defamation League.

Atlanta has played a prominent role in American Jewish life since the late 1800s. Jewish immigrants began some of its most successful businesses, according to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Atlanta was at the forefront of the new, industrial South, and many of its factories were Jewish-owned, said Jeremy Katz, archives director at Atlanta’s William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Jewish businessmen gained respect and became community leaders. But their success also led to anti-Semitism from Southerners who felt left behind by the changing economy, said Stuart Rockoff, the former historian for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

“There was this push and pull, and it was kind of a powder keg that ignited with the Leo Frank case,” Katz said. “Before the Frank case, Jews were fairly accepted in the community because social lines were drawn by color of skin rather than religion, so Jews really flourished in the South.”

Everything changed on a spring day in 1913, when 13-year-old factory worker Mary Phagan was found strangled in the cellar of Atlanta’s National Pencil Co. Frank, the factory’s manager, was arrested and put on trial. As newspaper articles inflamed anti-Semitic passions in and around Atlanta, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Georgia Gov. John Slaton, convinced Frank was innocent, commuted his sentence to life in prison. In August 1915, a mob snatched Frank from the state prison in Milledgeville and drove him to Marietta, where Phagan had lived, and hanged him from an oak tree.

“The Leo Frank case showed that Jews were not immune from that type of violence and discrimination,” Rockoff said.

In the following years, many Jews didn’t speak of the Frank case.

But by the late 1940s, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild at The Temple in Atlanta had begun speaking out against racial injustice in Atlanta, said his son, William Rothschild. Some believe that made the synagogue a target for extremists.

The bomb exploded about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 12, 1958. A few hours later, during Sunday morning classes, “there would have been hundreds of children in the building,” said Peter Berg, now senior rabbi at The Temple. But the children hadn’t yet arrived, and no one was injured.

“I remember feeling emptiness,” recalls Carol Zaban Cooper of Atlanta, who was 14 when her synagogue was bombed, and went on to become active with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “I felt hollow, numb.”

Alfred Uhry, author of the play and movie Driving Miss Daisy, attended The Temple as a child and had just moved to New York when it was bombed. He recalls the horror he felt after seeing a photo of the destruction in The New York Times.

“It showed a side of the building blown off, and I had gone to Sunday school there,” Uhry said.

A bombing suspect’s first trial ended with a hung jury and the second with an acquittal.

Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfield said “every political rabble-rouser is the godfather of these cross burners and dynamiters who sneak about in the dark and give a bad name to the South.”

Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill called it a harvest of hate. One day after the blast he wrote, “It is the harvest of defiance of courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy law on the part of many Southern politicians.”

“To be sure, none said go bomb a Jewish temple or a school,” he added in the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial. “But let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gate to all those who wish to take law into their own hands.”

Racial hatred put everyone in danger, McGill wrote.

“When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.”

Religion on 03/11/2017

Continued here:
Anti-Semitic violence, fear nothing new – NWAOnline

Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

Alex N. Gecan, @GeeksterTweets 11:04 a.m. ET March 10, 2017

People clap as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers remarks at the Kaplen Jewish Community Center on the Palisades during a rally against recent bomb threats made to jewish centers, Friday, March 3, 2017, in Tenafly, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)(Photo: AP)

Bomb threats. Evacuations. Religious vandalism.

Since January, scores of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and day schools in at least 30 states have received over 100 bomb threats. In New Jersey, 19 incidents at religious facilities throughout New Jersey have been reported; eight were bomb threats targeting six JCCs

No explosive devices were found at any of the centers, but the sudden spike in threats has shaken communities and, so far, raised more questions than answers, including who is behind them, why they are doing it and why they are doing it right now.

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“This is nothing that we’ve seen before,” Joshua Cohen, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office, told the Asbury Park Press. “They’ve been coming in waves since the beginning of the year. There were bomb threats that were called into Jewish institutions last year, and these happened from time to time, but nothing like this wave.”

JCCs: Bomb threats raise old fears

He said that the purposes of bomb threats are twofold – “to disrupt operations and to create fear and panic in the community. This wave of bomb threats, while credible, has created fear and panic in the community.”

When asked what he attributed the increase in bomb threats to, Cohen said the recent political climate – a contentious presidential election, the emergence of the so-called “alt-right” – could be a factor.

“Individuals are feeling empowered and emboldened to act out, speak out, commit acts of anti-Semitism in an environment where they may not have felt comfortable to do so,” he said.

While the most recent bomb threats represent a sudden spike in anti-Semitic incidents, hate crimes targeting Jews and Muslims were already trending upward in the state even as total bias incidents have begun to decline, an Asbury Park Press analysis of state police data found in 2016.

Crimes against both Jewish and Muslim New Jerseyans spiked in 2015. Religiously motivated hate crimes had been in decline until rising 10 percent in 2015.

Of the victims of religiously motivated bias crimes, Jews were the most common targets with 113 reported incidents in 2015. There were 14 reported Muslim victims and only six targets of other religions.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims comprise only three percent of adults in New Jersey, and six percent are Jewish.

Old sickness, new symptoms

“To be honest, I think this has always been our reality, and I think this nation has some unfinished business around race religions,” said Elizabeth Williams-Riley, president of the American Conference on Diversity. “It’s always been a part of the fabric of our nation, it’s why we exist as an organization. So what has happened is the platform has been given to, in a very bold way, folks who can now see their own attitudes and behaviors as being right, or being reinforced, or being celebrated.”

Williams-Riley recalled a surge in reported hate crimes following the 2016 Presidential election.

“It was occurring in K through twelfth grades most frequently, which is a tremendous ‘ah-ha’ for us,” she said, referring to reports of students hurling Islamophobic, racist and otherwise discriminatory remarks after the 2016 election. “I’ve also heard a lot about students feeling more open to say things about LGBTQ students and saying things about them not belonging, and they need to get themselves together.”

‘NO HATE’: Kean University, American Conference on Diversity hold town hall

American with disabilities have also faced increased harassment under the new administration, she said, because “one of the first things that Trump did was mock someone with a disability,” in reference to then-candidate Donald Trump’s apparent mocking criticism in November 2015 of New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski, who lives with arthrogryposis.

Racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, vitriol towards those seen as foreign – none of these are new sentiments. Williams-Riley suggests that kids learn biases at home, in their families. But now that Americans have seen groups like the so-called alt-right eating up airtime and a presidential candidate-cum-president stoke nationalist ire, they have become confident enough to act out on those beliefs. “In this instance, the notion to be openly bigoted or openly biased, to express yourselves about certain things, has been violated,” she said.

Politicking in response

Whatever the ideological motivation for the threats, if there even is one, other experts say that the reaction has been extremely political.

“I think the issue here, the reason this has become a bigger political issue, is because for many … President Trump’s response was slow in coming, to the point where we now have all 100 U.S. senators demanding action in response to these anti-Semitic incidents from the White House,” said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “That kind of unanimity almost never happens these days, and therefore an issue that might not be political has become political.”

TRUMP: “Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”

President Trump spoke out against the threats and vandalism at Jewish centers during his speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28: “Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

To his critics, the denunciation – like his repudiation of former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke – was too little, too late.

CPAC: White nationalist Richard Spencer ousted

Dworkin urged against ascribing a political motive to the bomb threats.

“That’s plausible, but until we capture somebody or until we find an email that says ‘somebody is planning this and doing it,’ it is simply a plausible reason,” he said.

BOMB THREATS: Morris reps call for probe

In the 2016 presidential election, exit polls showed that 71 percent of Jewish voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, according to the Pew Research Center. However, Orthodox voters were more inclined to vote for Donald Trump: A September 2016 poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee found that approximately 50 percent of Orthodox voters favored Trump while 21 percent supported Clinton. Fifteen percent said they would not vote.

The president’s own daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, who is Orthodox, in 2009.

The Anti-Defamation League has compiled a list of bomb threats against Jewish day schools, community centers and other facilities. They counted 121 total threats in five waves between Jan. 4 and Feb. 27 nationwide – and at least another eight in a sixth wave on March 7.

The fifth wave, comprising only the day of Feb. 27, accounted for 40 bomb threats.

Federal agents have made one arrest so far in the wave of bomb threats.

Juan Thompson, 31, of Missouri is charged with sending threats to eight Jewish organizations as part of a bizarre plot to harass and discredit a former lover.

Thompson is, apparently, no stranger to the untrue. In 2016 online news agency The Intercept fired him after it “discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles,” according to a statement from the publication.

Garden State threats

In New Jersey, the League counted seven specific bomb threats – three at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly on Jan. 9 and 31 and Feb. 27 and one each at the Jewish Community Center of Central Jersey in Scotch Plains and the Middlesex Jewish Community Center in Edison on Jan. 18, the Jewish Community Center of Metrowest New Jersey in West Orange on Jan. 31 and at the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill on Feb. 27.

On Feb. 27 the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness reported “19 incidents at religious facilities throughout New Jersey,” including eight bomb threats spread over six JCCs, but officials would not specify where each “incident” took place.

WATCH: Unity rally at Cherry Hill JCC

Asked for a list of the incidents, Special Agent Michael Whitaker, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Newark field office replied, “The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matters is investigated in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

CENTRAL JERSEY: JCCs receive bomb threats

Police evacuated the Jewish Community Center of Central Jersey in Scotch Plains after the Jan. 18 bomb threat but staff and members were allowed back inside the same day. Still, Sandra Kenoff, director of marketing for JCC of Central Jersey, said it was a worrisome event.

“I think our community was very appreciative of the fact that we were pretty vigilant about our safety practice and protocol,” Kenoff said. “Certainly, it’s a concerning event to happen to the organization.”

The fallout from the threats has brought politicians of different stripes into agreement.

“Just a few days ago you had Senators (Bob) Menendez and (Cory) Booker side-by-side with (Gov.) Chris Christie up in Tenafly, New Jersey, at a rally denouncing … these incidents,” Dworkin said. “In New Jersey we have not seen that kind of politicized response.”

Shoreline connection

While the threats have certainly disrupted operations where they have forced evacuations, Jewish community organizations along the Jersey Shore have, at least for now, been insulated from much of the fear and panic.

“It hasn’t affected us really in any way practically, though we are more careful about our surroundings,” said Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek, who leads Chabad of Jackson. A newer organization, the Chabad hosts 30 to 50 people at its time in its various programs, Naparstek said.

“It has not been a factor in any of our programs or operations,” Naparstek said. I can’t speak for other organizations but personally it has not affected us.

Elsewhere in Jackson, opponents of an ordinance that would ban dormitories have denounced it as anti-Semitic. They say the ordinance directly targets the township’s Orthodox Jewish community, a specific subset of Jackson’s larger Jewish population.

“I personally have not encountered any of that animosity, and I really don’t see that as being any factor,” Naparstek said when asked if there may be escalating anti-Semitic sentiment in Jackson.

JACKSON: Swaskita, ‘white power’ graffiti appear

In Freehold Borough the Freehold Jewish Center reached out to local police, just to be on the safe side.

“I cannot tell you how good they’ve been,” Executive Director Marvin Krakower said of police in the borough and township.

“Thank God, we haven’t seen anything yet, but there’s been additional swastikas and threats,” Krakower said. “It’s just bringing out the worst right now – but most people in this country are good.”

LAKEWOOD: Cops arrest juvenile swastika suspects

Krakower applauded President Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent denunciations of anti-Semitism, and that more politicians should “step up to the plate.”

Meanwhile, Cohen of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office said it is imperative to investigate any such threats when they come in.

“We take these incidents very seriously, and we continue to work with our federal and local law enforcement partners, in addition with our local law enforcement partners,” Cohen said.

Alex N. Gecan: 732-643-4043;

The USA Today Network contributed to this report.

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Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer … – Greenwich Time

updated 2017 photo of the rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz.

updated 2017 photo of the rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz.

Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer, charity

On the High Holidays, we sing a prayer titled U’netaneh Tokef:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. How many will pass and how many will be created? Who will live and who will die? Who in their time, and who not their time? Who by fire and who by water?……. Who will rest and who will wander? Who will be safe and who will be torn? Who will be calm and who will be tormented?…… But, repentance, prayer and charity will deflect the evil of the decree.

According to Jewish tradition, U’netaneh Tokef was written by rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany. The story is told that this 11th century rabbi was coerced by the local archbishop to convert to Catholicism or be killed.

Rabbi Amnon asked for three days by which he could reflect on his options.

When the days passed, he was brought before the church’s authorities and then he declared that they should please cut off his tongue so that he might atone for his sin of even considering conversion.

Infuriated, the archbishop ordered that more than his tongue, rabbi Amnon’s arms and legs were to be amputated limb by limb until he relented and agreed to conversion.

While dying under this torture, the legend tells us that rabbi Amnon composed and recited the U’netaneh Tokef prayer with his last dying breaths. After which, rabbi Amnon’s spirit appeared before one of his rabbinical colleagues and he then recorded this somber prayer and fixed it to our High Holiday liturgy.

Regardless of factual historic detail to the origin of this prayer, U’netaneh Tokef accurately reflects our collective Jewish experience of being vulnerable to seemingly uncontrollable variables that have confronted our Jewish lives.

“Who shall live and who shall die?” wasn’t simply a universal mortal reflection. Rather it was how Jews understood the real constant threat that targeted their existence because they were Jews.

The Middle Ages was certainly a dark period of Jewish persecutions. But anti-Semitism has been rearing its ugly head from the very beginnings of Jewish history until present times.

There have been pockets of time and places that have been safe harbors for the Jews. And with the re-creation of our Jewish State in 1948, we are not wholly dependent on others to defend our lives.

European anti-Semitism is well chronicled and most understand the Holocaust as the evolution of the hatreds and violence that have historically tormented the Jews. Less well known to us is the vestiges of anti-Semitism that has existed, and still exists, within our own country.

We might be aware that Peter Stuyvesant led the effort to keep Jews out of New Amsterdam at the beginnings of Colonial America, and during the Civil War, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered all of the Jews to be expelled from his war zone. But many more significant cases of American anti-Semitism have been well documented.

Jews were commonly denigrated in American periodicals. There was wholesale exclusion of Jews from society and significant incidents of organized violence that targeted American Jews. Jews in many of the states were denied a myriad of political rights until the mid 19th century.

In the first half of the 20th century, there was common discrimination against Jews in the work force, in purchasing of residential properties, membership in private clubs, etc… Quotas against Jews were commonplace in the university world both for students and faculty.

There has always been significant leadership in both the American Jewish and non-Jewish world that helped to effectively combat organized anti-Semitism. And many American Jews of the 21st century have felt secure that significant anti-Semitic challenges in our country have become rare and isolated incidents.

However, with the rise of the anti-Semitic “Alt-Right” political groups, numerous bomb threats to American Jewish Community Centers and desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the haunting words of Unataneh Tokef needs to come more quickly to mind.

The genre of questions of “who shall live and who shall die” is not in isolation; the questions are responded to with the declaration: “repentance, prayer and charity will deflect the evil of the decree.”

“Repentance” is to recognize what we are doing that is wrong and then changing our behavior so that the positive actions can diminish or even eliminate the existence of that which is wrong. “Prayer” is first and foremost an act of self-examination. Are we truly repenting? And if not, how do we do a better job at what needs to be done? “Charity” is the act of giving meaningfully with both time and resources. Our repentance coupled with honest prayerful reflection must prompt the appropriate allocation of our time and our money.

The question of “who shall live and who shall die” as applied to the Jewish community has been a historical reality that we have confronted effectively over the centuries.

As we live with the blessings of the 21st century, we cannot wear a blindfold to the significant challenges that still exist and confront our people. The present political climate has increased hateful rhetoric and energized individuals and groups who wish to do harm.

We have a collective responsibility to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred that targets any ethnic, cultural, racial and/or religious group. Living in denial will only hasten the problems and make the stern decree of consequences more painfully possible.

Let’s all do everything we are able to mitigate the possibility of the stern decree.

Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz is Senior Rabbi Temple Sholom of Greenwich, co-founder of the Sholom Center for Interfaith Learning and Fellowship and a past president of the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy For an archive of past Greenwich Citizen columns, please visit

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Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer … – Greenwich Time

‘There Are Jews Here’ documentary profiles dwindling rural Jewish populations – The Recorder

If theres a moment in the documentary There Are Jews Here that sums up the dilemma dwindling Jewish congregations face, it might be when Mickey Radman, of Latrobe, Penn., finally drops the brave face hes maintained through much of the film.

A couple years ago this was unthinkable, the elderly Radman says, as he contemplates the closing of the small synagogue hes attended for decades. And now its become a reality.

And with that, Radman, facing the camera, silently begins to cry before abruptly turning and walking away.

Radman is just one of a host of likeable and engaging people whose lives are profiled in There Are Jews Here, an acclaimed film that looks at four towns and small cities Butte, Mont.; Dothan, Ala.; Laredo, Texas; and Latrobe where Jewish communities are struggling to survive.

Nationally, about 1 million of Americas roughly 5.3 million Jews live outside of major cities, the filmmakers say.

The problems for those in smaller communities are universal. Assimilation, younger people leaving for work elsewhere, elderly parishioners dying, some members simply disengaging from the community the people in There Are Jews Here face an attritional battle for which there are no easy solutions.

But the film, which screens Sunday at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, is not just a study of decline. Whether depicting prayer services, housewarming parties, or simple conversation, the documentary also offers moments of joy, humor and hope as interviewees talk about what Judaism and community mean to them.

It think the film is resonating with non-Jews, too, because ultimately its really about community, Brad Lichtenstein, the documentarys director, said during a recent phone call from his home in Milwaukee, Wis. There are declining populations in a lot of religions, not just Judaism.

Yet people crave community, Lichtenstein added, and they try to make it any way they can.

There Are Jews Here documents the unorthodox ways some communities have done this, such as Dothans pledge, through a program set up by a local Jewish philanthropist, to pay the moving expenses and related costs for Jews to resettle in the town.

And the film pays tribute to older generations passing the torch to younger people like how the tiny congregation in Latrobe vows to keep its synagogue open long enough to allow its youngest member, 12-year-old Ellie Balk, to have her bat mitzvah there.

Lichtenstein, who grew up in a Jewish community in Atlanta, has made numerous documentaries on social and cultural issues, such as a controversial mining project in a watershed area in Wisconsin and the violent 1971 uprising in Attica Prison in New York state.

He said the initial impetus for There Are Jews Here came from a friend, Mike Leven, who works with an organization that helps small Jewish communities insure their legacies if they close, such as by preserving sacred Torah scrolls or making arrangements to maintain historic cemeteries.

Mike suggested there could be a good film in some of these stories, since [the closing of Jewish communities] was happening all across the country, said Lichtenstein.

He and his co-producer, Morgan Elise Johnson, visited some 18 Jewish communities before settling on the four profiled in the film. The appeal of those towns, Lichtenstein said, came both from their diversity and the charisma of the people they talked to.

With documentaries, youre looking for people who can carry your story, and we found a really great bunch of people to talk to, he said.

Theres Nancy Oyer, for instance, of Temple Bnai Israel in Butte, where just 30 Jews live in a town of nearly 34,000 people. Oyer, a native of Chicago who moved west for work as a geologist and her love of the mountains, is energetic, warm, articulate and also weighed down by the effort of keeping her diminishing congregation afloat.

Its rewarding but exhausting, says Oyer, who also leads some of the services at her synagogue (there is no regular rabbi). In one sequence, she hires a rabbinical student from Los Angeles to lead services during High Holy Days; he jokes that when he first heard from Oyer, his immediate thought was There are Jews in Butte, Montana?

It would seem there were a fair number of them in past decades. The handsome brick synagogue, opened in 1903, appears as if it can hold well over 200 people. One of the films most enduring images shows Oyer, strumming an acoustic guitar, as she accompanies just nine people in song during a service.

In Laredo, Texas, the president of the local temple, Uriel Uri Druker, can count about 130 Jews in the community but thats in a city of over 248,000 people. We usually have just enough people to have a meeting, he says at one point.

The Laredo section includes an additional story. Susie Druker, Uris wife, grew up Catholic and became estranged for a time from her parents when she married and took steps to convert to Judaism. The familys synagogue has no education classes, though, so she attends a Torah class elsewhere in town, where discussion is in Spanish, English and Hebrew.

The couple want to stay in Laredo, but theyre worried their three young sons will grow up isolated in such a small congregation. They contemplate moving to San Antonio, which has a bigger and busier synagogue, but its a difficult decision: as Susie tearfully says, I dont want us to be just another number that left Laredo.

Dothan, in southeastern Alabama, made national news in 2008 when the plan to help Jews move to the town, by covering up to $50,000 of their moving expenses, was announced. Lichtenstein said that kind of notoriety made him reluctant at first to film there. But then he met a Jewish couple in Los Angeles who wanted to relocate to Dothan, as life in the City of Angels was too expensive.

There Are Jews Here covers, sometimes humorously, the steps that Karen and Terrence Arenson, with their young daughter, Emily, take to start a new life in the Deep South. No way! Karens mother yells when her daughter calls her to break the news. Alabama? What the hell is in Alabama?!

As Lynne Goldsmith, rabbi of Dothans Temple Emanu-el, puts it, its all about community. You really have to go out of your way here to be a Jew, she says (Dothan has about 143 Jews and an overall population of 68,000).

But between regular recreational activities like dinners and a bowling night, services at the synagogue, and a few newcomers like the Arensons, the towns Jewish members are hanging in there, Goldsmith says.

If you dont have a community, youre like a Jewish monk, she says, referring to towns where Jews no longer have any recourse for observing their faith together. And we dont do well as Jewish monks. We need community.

There Are Jews Here plays Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m. at the Yiddish Book Center, 1021 West St. in Amherst. Tickets are $8 general admission, $6 for members, $4 for students. To watch a trailer from the film, visit:

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‘There Are Jews Here’ documentary profiles dwindling rural Jewish populations – The Recorder

Residents angry after Bloomingburg Planning Board meeting cancelled – Times Herald-Record

Richard J. Bayne Times Herald-Record @RichardBayne845

BLOOMINGBURG Opponents who had come to Thursdays Planning Board meeting prepared to speak against a temporary community center at the controversial Chestnut Ridge development shouted protests at the board chairman when he abruptly canceled the meeting because he couldnt get a quorum.

One resident accosted the Planning Board chairman, Chaim Friedman, because, the accuser said, electrical workers were on the job site, at 1-3 Cherry Court, yet the public hearing on the site plan hadn’t occurred. Youre a lying sack of (expletive), the man told Friedman.

Friedman, who is Hasidic, told the angry resident the contractors have a demolition permit to work at the Cherry Court buildings, which is legal under village law in advance of site plan approval. Im not the code enforcer, Friedman said. File a complaint.

The two townhouses that are to be converted into a temporary community center are located near the entrance to the development. Construction crews were at work Thursday, using front-end loaders. There was a trash container parked in the driveway of one of the townhouses.

Chestnut Ridge is the subject of a lawsuit, filed a week ago by the Town of Mamakating. The town is seeking to have the court annul the village’s approvals of the 396-unit townhouse development and require the developers to file new applications.

Opposition has focused on the fact that the developers proposed a luxury golf course development, but the plans morphed into townhouses, apparently marketed toward a Hasidic clientele, with occupancy as high as 10 people per unit.

On Tuesday, the Village Board certified that the townhouse-community center conversion met SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) requirements, a necessary step before the Planning Boards site plan consideration could occur.

As Thursdays meeting dissolved, Holly Roche, president of the opposition group Rural Community Coalition, asked Freidman why the Planning Board had set up Thursdays hearing before the Village Board certified SEQRA. Its like setting a date for a wedding before you get engaged. Roche said.

Friedman said the board had had no intention of approving the site plan after Thursdays planned public hearing. He said that would not have been possible because the project is still waiting for approvals from Sullivan County.

The Planning Board, which should have five members, was already down one because member Bob Cassidy resigned two weeks ago. On Thursday, members Moshe Fried and Jim Johnson didnt show. Friedman and only one other member, Moshe Gancz, were there.

Friedman said he couldn’t immediately say when the community center conversion issue would come up. Regularly scheduled meetings are generally held on the fourth Thursday of each month.

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Residents angry after Bloomingburg Planning Board meeting cancelled – Times Herald-Record

East Palestine prom project cuts down cost for area students –

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) Prom a magical night that usually caps off senior year is just around the corner but for parents, the dance can put a big strain on their wallets. East Palestine High School is hoping to change that.

The school doesnt want money to get in the way of a student enjoying the glitz and glamour of prom.

Its something that youre never going to forget. Its one of those highlights of high school, said Kendra Hoover, a senior.

Inside the high school sits EPPYs Attic a room full of prom gowns and suits, all free to students.

Prom is very expensive but now its great that we give every kid a chance to experience it, said senior Faith Anderson.

English teacher Emily Randolph said the community has contributed generously to the Attics stash and this is only the first year the schools done it.

We felt like we needed to find a way to make all of our opportunities available to all of our students and EPPYs Attic grew from there. The community has been wonderful, theyve added so much.

Donations from community members allowed EPPY to have over 300 dresses and several key pieces of menswear to share with students.

Were very thankful for that but we also had a dress shop in Salem called Dress to Impress that also helped us out a lot with collecting dresses, Hoover said.

For girls, the average prom dress can cost anywhere from $100 to upwards of$1,000. Guys can rent a suit for about $100 to $200.

When its all said and done, the family of an average prom-goer will spend $1,169 on the big dance, according to a 2015 Visa survey.

Thats why EPPYs Attic is also opening its doors to neighboring school districts.

Were reaching out to all the schools in the local area and they just have to contact our guidance office, said senior Hayley McElroy.

As for the prom shopping experience, itll give you that, too.

We decided to paint the walls, go for a design, a theme, if you will, because we wanted that experience of going shopping and feeling special, said EPPYs Attic volunteer Abbi Miller,.

Organizers are hoping to keep the program going for a long time.

The goal is that we will eventually be able to offer interview clothing and the next step for all of our students so we can continue to see it grow and see where it can go next, Randolph said.

Students get to keep any dresses or suits they find at EPPYs Attic.

To make an appointment to go shopping at EPPYs Attic, call the high schools guidance office at 330-426-5440.

To donate items, drop them off at East Palestine High School until 3 p.m. or the Board of Education offices located at 200 W. North Avenue until 4 p.m.

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East Palestine prom project cuts down cost for area students –

‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes – (blog)

ST. PETERSBURG As hate crimes rise across the United States, community leaders plan to hold a “Love Lives Here” event Thursday evening at the Florida Holocaust Museum to stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted by such acts.

The goal, organizers say, is to encourage the community, institutions and individuals to foster “greater understanding and connection rather than fear of differences.”

For more information, click here.

Mayor Rick Kriseman, community leaders and faith organizations plan to start the event with a 6:30 p.m. news conference. That will be followed by a panel dsicussion of faith and community leaders will also hold a discussion, according to Equality Florida Action, Inc.

The event is being held in response to an increase in hate crimes and violent incidents that include a rash of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers, racist and anti-LGBT graffiti and an arson fire last week at the Islamic Society of New Tampa.

These groups plan to participate: Love Not Fear, Florida Holocaust Museum, Emerge USA, Anti-Defamation League, Interfaith Tampa Bay, Equality Florida Institute, Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg and the Historic Bethel AME Church.

‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes 03/09/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 8:08pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints

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‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes – (blog)

Cronig’s Celebrates 100 Years of Feeding the Vineyard Community – The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News

When 28-year-old Sam Cronig and his three younger brothers opened their Vineyard Haven market in March 1917, the world was still at war in Europe and Marthas Vineyard had a year-round population of about 4,500.

One hundred years later, the Cronigs name still stands above two grocery stores, though that business changed hands three decades ago, and a real estate company that has remained in the family for the past century. The Vineyard has many older families, but the Cronigs hold a special place in Island history not only as store proprietors who served generations of local families and summer visitors, but as the first Jewish family to settle here year-round.

I am very proud of my heritage and the legacy that was left by the Cronigs, said Gayle Stiller, one of several Cronig grandchildren who still live and work on the Vineyard.

Arriving from Lithuania in 1904, 15-year-old Sam Krengle received his new surname from immigration officials in New York city. The eldest of nine children born to a Yiddish-speaking village grocer who had planned for his firstborn to become a rabbi, Mr. Cronig worked briefly in the city before leaving to stay with cousins in New Bedford. In 1905, he moved to a farm on Marthas Vineyard that had advertised for a hired hand. That didnt last long, either.

David and Robert Cronig outside the Vineyard Haven Store. Courtesy Peter Cronig

I guess he got tired of his job and he came and got a job at Swift, Bodfish & Smith, which was then a grocery market, said Mr. Cronigs son David, who is 102 and now living in Florida. While learning the American retail business, Sam Cronig also worked to bring his younger siblings to the U.S. Edward and Theodore came first and then Henry and sister Tillie, who were smuggled into Germany from Russian-occupied Lithuania.

We traveled chiefly at night, sometimes in wagons, under loads of hay or stacks of milk cans, Henry Cronig told the Gazette 50 years later, in 1964. The nearer we came to the German border, the greater the tenseness. Four other siblings remained behind, later settling abroad.

After a seasick passage from Rotterdam and a terrifying quarantine in New York, Henry and Tillie rejoined their older brothers on a Plymouth County farm Sam had bought with money he earned on the Vineyard.

Henry, who would later found Cronigs Real Estate, was unimpressed with the farm but intrigued by the source of the money. The thought came to me that if I was to learn English, I would have to live with the Gentiles, and it seemed to me, from what I could learn, that Marthas Vineyard was the place to go, he said in the 1964 interview.

Main Street, Vineyard Haven, 1965 after second floor was added. Courtesy Peter Cronig

He arrived on the Island in May, 1915 and soon convinced his brothers to join him. The family was already growing: Sam had married their cousin Libby Levine in New Bedford in 1912 and the couples first child, David, was born in 1914.

By the end of 1916, the four brothers had earned enough money to start their own business. The Cronig Brothers Market opened its doors at Main and Church streets in Vineyard Haven March 10, 1917.

We bought a wagon for $10 and a horse for $30, and we opened, Henry Cronig recalled in 1964. It was a sorry-looking store. We piled everything we had on the shelves in order to make the best showing possible. While working with his brothers, Henry founded his own business, Cronigs Real Estate, which also celebrates its centennial this year.

The original shop began chiefly as a meat market with its own slaughterhouse, David Cronig said this week. The store had grown to a full-service grocery by the time he was old enough to lend a hand, becoming the first in a long line of Cronig kids to work in the family markets over the next six and a half decades.

I think I was seven or eight years old, Mr. Cronig recalled. I wanted to work in the store, so they gave me a broom and said, sweep the floor. That was my first employment.

Working at Cronigs became the first job and in some cases the sole career for a long line of Cronig children and grandchildren as well. While both Henry and Theodore eventually left to run their own businesses, Sam and Edward continued to operate the store with Sams sons David and Robert, his daughter Anne and, for many years, his daughter Ruth Stiller, who died last summer at 94.

David Wade outside the market in the late 1970s. Courtesy Peter Cronig

David took a 12-year break from the family business to work for Capt. Ralph Packers Texaco company, but returned in 1945, and with Robert, took over management of the market in 1957. Their work force was peppered with younger Cronigs and Stillers.

It was total involvement in the store. We lived it and we breathed it, said Roberts daughter Judy Cronig, who started helping out in the office and at the checkout stand when she was about 11. That was our world.

Henry Cronigs grandson Peter, who works at the real estate company, held summer jobs through college at both the original Main Street Cronigs and the State Road market that David and Robert opened in 1976. But its the original market, with its old-fashioned push-button cash registers, that he and his cousins remember best.

It was a small store, so in the summer it was extremely crowded with wagons and people trying to get through the aisles, Peter Cronig told the Gazette. To beat the crowds, many customers telephoned in their orders for home delivery, a service the market had offered since its horse and wagon days.

We would fill the orders early in the morning, he recalled. There would probably be 10 of us who would go around with shopping carts. The orders were boxed and delivered to Vineyard Haven customers, twice a day in high season, on two routes. The south end was everybody in town and the north end was West Chop, said Neil Stiller, who also works at Cronigs Real Estate.

The summer colony at West Chop attracted many artists, actors and other celebrities. Gayle and Neil Stiller both remember their mother Ruths tales of meeting Helen Keller, who felt her face. Notoriously volatile playwright Lillian Hellman got into a screaming match with one of their uncles over whether or not a chicken had been delivered.

Carlyle Cronig with nieces Judy and Nancy Cronig in 1945. Courtesy Peter Cronig

She used to come in the store and just berate workers, Mr. Stiller said. A chance encounter with Carly Simon in her chart-topping heyday left a better taste: Avocados that was my big exchange with her, he said.

But for the most part, Sam Cronigs grandchildren remember a bustling yet peaceful life shaped by the six-day-a-week round of retail chores, from receiving to delivery and accounting, and occasional Sunday trips to the beach.

You were around your friends and relatives and that was what you did, Peter Cronig said.

While the kids worked their jobs and the men managed the meat, produce and grocery sections, Sams daughter Anne was the power behind the scenes.

She was the office lady. She really ran everything, all the billing, all the orders, Peter Cronig said. Assisted for many years by her sister Ruth, Anne Cronig never married and remained on the job for most of her life. A past president of the Marthas Vineyard Hebrew Society, which her father had helped to found in 1940, she died in 1999.

I think if shed grown up in another generation, shed probably have gone to college, Ms. Stiller said.

Anne Cronig, in back, with niece Goodie Stiller at the register in 1975. Courtesy Peter Crong

She was a little woman. I dont think she ever reached five feet. But she had a large presence, she added.

The downtown Vineyard Haven Cronigs eventually became so crowded that David and Robert opened a second location on State Road in 1976, with parking for customers from the town and up-Island. David Cronig retired in 1980, and in the same year the Main Street Cronigs was sold out of the family.

Robert widely known as Robbie sold the State Road store and the Cronigs Markets name to Steve Bernier, a 22-year Star Market veteran, in 1986. In different hands, the downtown Cronigs closed in 1989. In 1990, Mr. Bernier opened Up-Island Cronigs, renovating the market six years later. He added the wellness-oriented Healthy Additions store, behind the Vineyard Haven Cronigs, in 2004.

While David Cronig started his retail career with a broom in his hand, Mr. Bernier begins each work day sweeping up the parking lots and entrances of his store before the doors open to customers. Its my job to make sure this store is presentable, he said. I have a job to do, and I also have an example to set for my employees. The old school has something the young people need to observe. In other example-setting moves, Cronigs added a solar-charging shade canopy in its Vineyard Haven parking lot in 2012, stopped selling cigarettes in 2015 and installed a second solar canopy at the Up-Island store in 2016.

Steve Bernier purchased the business in 1986. Mark Lovewell

Mr. Berniers approach includes stocking local products from more than 50 Vineyard farms, bakeries, soap makers, chocolatiers and other purveyors, sponsoring the Community Grocery Program that encourages shoppers to buy food for needier Islanders and taking energetic part in the Our Island Club discount shopping and donation network. Card-carrying members receive 30 per cent off groceries through the end of this month in celebration of the markets centenary.

He also insists on personal service. There are no signs at the cash register saying Thank you for shopping, because I want the cashiers to say it to the customers, Mr. Bernier said.

Theres no chance he will slap his own name on the business hes owned for 31 years, Mr. Bernier said, pointing out that Cronigs Markets was already 69 when he came along. Who the hell am I? he asked. Its not my market. It belongs to the community.

And although their own days working there are decades-old memories, Sam Cronigs grandchildren are still proud to see their family name atop the two markets and photos of their grandfather and uncles inside.

I am very glad that Steve has talked so much about my grandfather and my father, Judy Cronig said. I like that for carrying on the history. I dont feel everyone would have done that, give so much credit to the past.

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Cronig’s Celebrates 100 Years of Feeding the Vineyard Community – The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News

A steep rise in anti-semitism – Willamette University Collegian

Over 50 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers this year

By Dorian Grayson Staff Writer

Amongst the rise in hate crimes in the United States has been a rise in anti-Semitism. Jewish centers have been receiving bomb threats and a Jewish cemetery was desecrated last week.

People waited for President Trumps response, which many felt came out late and lackluster.

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that must still be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil, Trump said.

The White House excluded Jews from mention in their statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Before the statement above, Trump was asked in a conference last week about the rise of anti-Semitic acts in the United States. He told the reporter to sit down and refused to answer the question, calling it insulting.

Given how quick Trump is to denounce many things, and how much of the new American anti-Semitism comes from his supporters, his one denunciation doesnt count as permanent, wrote David Leonhardt for The New York Times. He, more than anyone else, has the responsibility to make everyday religious bigotry again feel like a part of the countrys past.

The bomb threats last week were called in for schools and Jewish Community centers in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. All of them turned out to be hoaxes, forcing the police and news crews to enter these spaces.

My instincts tell me this is all part of a coordinated effort, said an Ann Arbor police detective. The Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center has had at least two recent bomb threats.

In St. Louis, on Feb. 18 and 19, more than 170 gravestones were destroyed in the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish cemetery. Only a week later, 100 gravestones were destroyed in Philadelphia in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

[The vandalism is] a hateful act, an attempt to create fear and to tarnish the memory of those who have died and attack their dignity, a Philadelphia rabbi said.

After all this, on March 3, Juan Thompson was arrested in St. Louis for making some of the bomb threats mentioned earlier. He is not believed to be responsible for most threats, nor is it clear that he was working with the other callers. He made calls against Jewish schools and centers in New York, San Diego, Dallas and Farmington Hills.

FBI Director James B. Comey recently met with Jewish community leaders to describe the increase in threats. He said that the investigation was a top priority.

Thompsons arrest is on both federal and state charges within New York. A federal judge ordered him held without bail with an eventual detention hearing. He is being represented by a federal public defender.

Thompson was a reporter for two years at The Intercept before leaving in January 2016. A year later he started making the threats. His first was against a Manhattan Jewish history museum on Jan. 28.

The investigation for the source of the other threats and desecration is ongoing.

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A steep rise in anti-semitism – Willamette University Collegian

What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

I never quite feel like Im the right age. My congregants consistently tell me that Im too young to be a rabbi.

When I watched the standup comedian Robert Klein began one of his sets with a song about colonoscopies (below), I also felt be a bit out of place. When the rest of the audience roared with laughter, I knew I fell squarely into the wrong demographic for the show. Sure enough, jokes about erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostates, and memory lapses commenced, all with a smattering of Yiddish. The audience of alter kakers (Yiddish for old farts) loved it. I got a few laughs out of the deal. My wife and our friends enjoyed laughing at my laughter.

At a wedding a couple of years ago, as I walked down the aisle between an endless number of white roses and tea lights, an older man in the crowd said, in a loud stage whisper, Thats the rabbi?! He looks more like a bar mitzvah boy! Along the same lines, nearly every week, the great aunt of the bar mitzvah boy comes up to tell me how young I am but that she nevertheless, enjoyed the service. Needless to say, Ive learned to take these sorts of comments in stride.

To a certain extent, for society to function properly, age does matter. The ancient rabbis taught that Jews progress through the years of our lives pursuing different goals at each step. In the Talmudic collection of proverbs and aphorisms called Ethics of the Fathers, the rabbis taught: Five years is the age for the study of Torah. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot (commandments). Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength. Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for wisdom. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power.. (Pirke Avot, 5:22) In other words, our personal goals and our role in society shifts as we age. Understanding our place in the community helps to ensure its continuity and proper function.

So, are we to conform to societys expectations and play the part that our age dictates? Or, should we behave and interact with the world according to how we feel on the inside, our mental age, if you will? I think that the answer is both and neither. Within each of us reside different personality traits, different philosophies, different modes of behavior, different approaches to life – different mental ages. Which of those traits – or ages – we express in any given situation should result from the meeting between who we are and the context in which we find ourselves. We may feel very casual and laid back on the inside. Nevertheless, we should not wear torn blue jeans and a sweatshirt to a funeral. On the other hand, when we meet new people we need to build our relationships based on who we are on the inside, not only on the formal rules of social etiquette. We are social creatures so we ought to express our true selves through the prism of any given social context.

Im going to finish up now because I know you all need to get home to pay the babysitters, Klein said to uproarious laughter from the audience, most of whom had not paid a babysitter in decades. We did, on the other hand, need to get home to pay the babysitter. Im glad that we saw Robert Klein on Saturday night. My friends and I will now be able to laugh about how out of place we were for years to come. Well laugh about it until – God willing – well be the alter kakers laughing about enlarged prostates and colonoscopies.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

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What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

Pensacola synagogue beefs up security following attacks – WEAR

Pensacola synagogue beefs up security following attacks

Attacks on Jewish landmarks and places of worship across the country have had an impact on a local level.

“With the recent threats going on we just want to kind of be sure that our congregation is safe,” Benjamin Nettles, president of the B’Nai Israel Synagogue said.

Nettles said they have not had any issues with threats or vandalism at their building on 9th Avenue, but feel it is necessary to beef up security. They have installed more lighting outside, as well as an alarm system and put extra locks on doors.

“When anyone is here like the sisterhood cooking Hamantaschen for Purim, we make sure they keep the doors locked,” Nettles said.

Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated in places like Philadelphia. On Tuesday, Jewish schools and community centers received dozens of bomb threats all over the country.

“I think it’s sad, it’s really sad that this is happening,” said Kate Lollar, a member of the B’Nai Israel Sisterhood. “It’s 2017, why is there anti-Semitism?”

She blames the president’s administration. She said they made it OK to hate and blame others. She said attacks on Jews is not a new issue, but feels it certainly has been revived.

“The one thing that I would love for everybody in the world to know is that Jewish people are not bad,” Lollar said. “We just want to get along with everybody else.”

She said Pensacola has been good to her. She said that when she celebrates Purim this weekend she expects nothing but a great time.

“I have no fear of being Jewish in Pensacola, Florida,” Lollar said.

Nettles agreed and adds that he had never experienced an attack on his faith in this community. He wants others around the country to be able to say the same.

“I feel like we should be able to come in and worship whichever way we want and we should feel safe in doing that, especially in this country,” Nettles said.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that President Donald Trump condemns the attacks “in the strongest terms.”

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Pensacola synagogue beefs up security following attacks – WEAR

Can Purim and Chanukah expand appreciation of Jewish diversity? – Cleveland Jewish News

Purim is upon us complete with its radical invitation to engage in satirical hilarity that focus-es both on our enemies from the Esther narrative, and on our own tendencies to take ourselves a little too seriously. This story and its attendant religious practices deserve our reflection, but the story I want to address today is that of the Maccabees.

You might be wondering why, at Purim I would focus on the Chanukah story. This is not as strange a spiritual transplant as it might seem. There are quite a few connections between these stories, despite significant differences in their respective narrative arcs. Both deal with the theme of negotiating the dynamics between Jewish and gentile culture, and the challenge of figuring out how permeable the boundary between them should be. Both texts, and the holidays built around them, also deal with direct threats to Jewish existence.

Moreover, the rabbinic tradition codifies their connection by requiring recitation of the Al ha nissim prayer, which thanks God for acts of miraculous redemption, on both holidays. These connections inspired our congregation to select the Maccabees as this years defendants for our annual theatrical mock trial. We noticed that the challenges faced by the Maccabees, and the choices they made in response, raise important questions for us in the twenty-first century. This is especially true with respect to how we think about our relationship to the larger culture around us, and how we behave toward fellow Jews who make different choices than we do.

For American Jews, the Chanukah story has created a sometimes controversial Jewish center of gravity at a time of year when Christian cultures influence is pervasive. It has also been framed as the earliest example of a most cherished American value, the fight for religious free-dom. In Israel, the Chanukah story is seen as an early example of Jews willing to take destiny into their own hands, and for whom military prowess and bravery were at the forefront of their identity.

As powerful as these readings are, Ive long been aware that there is an ironic tension that rarely gets brought to the fore, between the religious orientation of the Maccabees, and that of the majority of contemporary Jews.

This tension revolves around the balance many of us choose to strike between our Jewish identities and our participation in the larger western culture of which the Maccabees would have strongly disapproved. Would their disapproval have moved them to threaten, or seek to harm fellow Jews who embrace elements of western culture that require the rejection of tradi-tional norms? Its difficult to say for certain; unfortunately, there is no difficulty in finding re-cent, disturbing examples of violence emanating from specific sectors of the traditional Jewish community against liberal Jews, whose value system includes the modern and western ethic of gender egalitarianism, and who desire to express that value in the context of their Jewish practice at a religious site that is sacred to the entire Jewish world.

There does not, however seem to be tension between different sectors of the Jewish communi-ty around the appropriate practice of Judaism in the cultural universe of the Purim story. Perhaps we would be wise to more consciously incorporate that implied spirit of diversity into our future Purim celebrations, as a healthy counterpoint to the more strident message emanating from the Chanukah narrative. Framed thusly, the connection between these two holidays could be recon-structed as embodying both a message of Jewish pride as well as asserting the right of all Jews to interpret and practice our collective tradition in a way that is meaningful and inspiring to each of us.

Rabbi Steve Segar is spiritual leader of Kol HaLev, Cleveland’s Reconstructionist Jewish Community, in Pepper Pike.

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Can Purim and Chanukah expand appreciation of Jewish diversity? – Cleveland Jewish News

Lessons from Terezin: Holocaust-themed play educates Georgetown students – Wicked Local Georgetown

Bryan McGonigle @GtownRecord

In the aftermath of the second swastika-related school incident in Georgetown in a span of nine months, Georgetown Middle High School students were given a live lesson in the horrors of the Holocaust.

The studentswerevisited witha production of “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” last week to help them reflect on tolerance, bigotry and the very real horrors behind Nazi symbolism.

“The dialogue, everything, was just really profound.The kids in the middle school and the high school … a pin could drop in the room,” Superintendent Carol Jacobs said at a recent School Committee meeting.

Written and directed by Anna Smulowitz of Newburyport, “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” focuses on a group of six children at Terezin, a concentration camp near Prague, in 1944 over the course of two days before they are taken to be killed at Auschwitz.

Smulowitz is the daughter of Auschwitz survivors. She wrote the play as a student in 1970 to honor the memory of those who did not survive the six children featured in the play represent six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

“The stories that her mom told her growing up she put together as a tribute to her family and to educate people about the Holocaust,” Jacobs said.

If the play sounds grim, its supposed to. “Terezin” is often used to introduce students to the Holocaust on a more relatable level than textbooks can, as well as show students where the repercussions of evils can lead.

Smulowitz has assembled six teams of six children, and the play is performed all over the country.

“There are a couple kids from Newburyport, a couple kids from Peabody, one was from a charter school and then Katie Lowell [of Georgetown] She was the lead, and she was really, really good,” Jacobs said.

The play has also gone global. “Terezin” actors have performed in Germany, and theyre going to Cuba in a couple ofweeks.

“A lot of local high schools are bringing them in, and they have a very hopeful message about how to be kind and lessons learned from these awful situations that were really hateful,” Jacobs said.

GMHS Principal Peter Lucia said there are follow-up activities planned for the students, to enhance the lessons of “Terezin.” The actors are actually returning to the school to do a workshop with peer leaders. They were going to do that last week after the play, but a snow delay preempted them.

“They have a program, and were going to have our peer leaders work with specifically the seventh-graders in the middle school,” Lucia said.

The”Terezin” performance was the most recent step taken in combatting anti-Semitism in Georgetown schools. Last spring, a 13-year-old student drew a swastika on the Georgetown Middle High School football field, prompting a police investigation and subsequent forum on tolerance and anti-Semitism.

At that forum, many parents and students expressed frustration over what they said was all-too-common anti-Semitic behavior in Georgetown schools. Rabbis and other clergy from all over the region attended, sharing their stories about anti-Semitism and lessons from the Holocaust.

Last month, another swastika was found drawn on school property, this time at Penn Brook Elementary School. Police determined that, like the incident last spring,this was not a criminal matter, but it prompted school officials to step up efforts to teach Georgetown students about the horrors of the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance.

“All people want is to make people feel like we belong in this community, and thats just so, so important,” said School Committee member Pam Lundquist. “We have to have these values. We are our values, and we have to learn how to love others and be kind and act out our values not just have them but act them out.”

More information about “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” can be found at

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Lessons from Terezin: Holocaust-themed play educates Georgetown students – Wicked Local Georgetown