Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Israeli virtuoso saxophone player and composer Daniel Zamir is headed to Atlanta for a Feb. 19 performance at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. The Hasidic jazz musician, who has toured with Matisyahu, is one of the most in-demand artists in Israel.

He spoke to the AJT by phone from Israel.

AJT: Will this be your first time performing in Atlanta?

Zamir: Well, I played a few years ago with Matisyahu at the University of Georgia. We were on a college tour, and, every campus we visited, I bought a baseball hat and would play the show wearing it. I remember I shouted, Go, Bulldogs! into the mic at UGA, and the crowd went crazy for it.

AJT: Youve actually been on a few tours with Matisyahu. What was it like touring as two observant Jews?

Zamir: Its an amazing experience to be able to express such a unique message on a big stage in front of so many people. To be able to bridge so many gaps and overcome so many prejudices and stigmas, its really unique and a privilege. AJT: You also have the top-selling jazz album of all time in Israel. How does that feel?

Zamir: Its amazing. I never thought that something like that could happen. Ive loved jazz since I started playing the saxophone, but I never thought I could be this successful in it. Also, to be able to connect jazz and Judaism is something I never thought I could do. From what I can tell, I think Im the only ultra-Orthodox jazz musician in the world.

AJT: How much Jewish or Hasidic influence would you say your music has?

Zamir: When I write my music, I have no concept in mind. In other words, I never planned to be a Jewish musician; its something that happened organically. It actually started before I was religious, and I was calling it world music or ethnic music. Only after (American Jewish composer-saxophonist) John Zorn heard my demo in 1999 and called it Jewish music did I finally accept it.

AJT: Why are there so many top-notch Israeli jazz musicians?

Zamir: I remember people were asking me in New York, What are they putting in your falafel over there? But the truth is jazz is music of the people, and after the 1950s people in Israel were trying to imitate American jazz. But what my generation did Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, myself and others we took our personalities and tradition and infused that into high-quality jazz. The result of that product is so unique and original and alive. I think thats why people love it so much.

Who:Daniel Zamir

Where:Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

When:7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19

Tickets:$15-$25; atlantajcc.org/pldb-live/daniel-zamir-32968

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Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Central Bucks’ Holocaust Awareness Junior League stands up to intolerance – Bucks County Courier Times

I cannot tell you the last time I made it through an entire school day without hearing some type of ethnic or racial slur being shouted down the hallway, or the last time I made it an entire day without witnessing or hearing about a cruel comment made about an event that should not be joked about.

I do not know when it suddenly became cool to use a certain racial slur about African Americans, or make jokes about the Holocaust, but apparently some teenagers find those topics more entertaining than funny cat videos.

I mean, they call you the aforementioned racial slur like its your name. These comments usually come from those who are either uneducated about the topic, or they simply do not care about the effects their words/actions have.

Although there is plethora of teenagers not only in our district but around the country who say these harmful words and joke around about these horrible events, there is one group in particular located right in Central Bucks who makes it their main mission to stop these acts.

This is a group of public school students from the Central Bucks area called the Holocaust Awareness Junior League. They made it their goal to bring about positive change and spread their message, explained in this mission statement they sent me:

The recent acts of intolerance toward various groups within the Central Bucks community point to a lack of education among the general population. We are public school students who are members of a non-denominational group called the Holocaust Awareness Junior League. Our mission is to promote Holocaust education to the general public through advocacy and the facilitation of survivor programs in schools.

“It is no longer enough to read about the Holocaust from a textbook. The numbers elicit no empathy. In this day and age, there is no room for bystanders. By educating youth, we can create a new generation of people open to differences and unafraid to have thoughtful conversations. Together, students and educators need to help spread the word of genocide and intolerance to make sure the stories of those who perished in the Holocaust and those who survived never disappear and wont be denied.

“Change starts with education. The importance of spreading knowledge of the Holocaust should not be diminished. We owe it to the millions of victims to continue sharing their stories so that they are never forgotten. We are the last generation with survivors, and it’s up to all of us to prevent the intolerance that comes with the lack of education. We cant accept the fact that people are being discriminated against in our community.

“If you are aware of any recent acts of intolerance within our community, and would like to discuss an appropriate response, please contact us at hajrleague@gmail.com. If you are interested in inviting a Holocaust survivor to speak at your school or to your organization, or want to learn more about local survivors, please visit the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center at http://www.hamec.org. HAJL

I do not, and I never will, understand why people think it is OK to joke around about events like the Holocaust, or use ethnic slurs, especially when they know it is not appropriate.

The rest is here:
Central Bucks’ Holocaust Awareness Junior League stands up to intolerance – Bucks County Courier Times

Israel’s Netanyahu praises Trump’s condemnation of anti-Semitic acts – Reuters

JERUSALEM Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for publicly condemning anti-Semitic acts after bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centers and vandalism in a Jewish cemetery.

Trump’s comments on Tuesday were his first explicit condemnation of anti-Semitic incidents amid a wave of threats against Jews and their community centers. Instead, he spoke more generally about his hopes of making the nation less “divided.”

“Anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” he told journalists.

“It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism and it’s important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead,” Netanyahu, on an official visit to Australia, said in Sydney’s Central Synagogue.

A video of Netanyahu’s speech in the synagogue was posted on YouTube by Israel’s Government Press Office.

In Israel, some media commentators had pressed Netanyahu to speak out more strongly against anti-Semitism, in light of what they said had been Trump’s reluctance to do so.

A White House statement on International Holocaust Day last month without any clear reference to Jews or anti-Semitism was mentioned as an example of this perceived reluctance.

Netanyahu rushed to Trump’s defense at a joint news conference in Washington last week after the president appeared to sidestep an Israeli reporter’s question about anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

“I’ve known the president and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest,” Netanyahu said.

Several Jewish community centers in the United States were evacuated briefly on Monday after receiving bomb threats, the JCC Association of North America said. Another center was evacuated on Tuesday in San Diego, California, police said.

Vandals toppled about 170 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri over the weekend.

In Sydney, Netanyahu called for an international effort to combat “resurgent anti-Semitism” around the world.

“It is something that we need to fight together. I think this is important in Europe. It’s important in America,” he said.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ori Lewis and Tom Heneghan)

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysian police on Wednesday named a North Korean diplomat along with a state airline official who are wanted for questioning over the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader.

BEIRUT The Syrian army and its allies took a small district on the outskirts of Aleppo from rebels on Wednesday, a war monitor and a military media unit run by Damascus ally Hezbollah said.

PARIS An influential French centrist politician on Wednesday dropped out of the presidency race to form an alliance with independent candidate Emmanuel Macron – a potential game-changer in France’s tightly contested election.

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Israel’s Netanyahu praises Trump’s condemnation of anti-Semitic acts – Reuters

Ahavath Achim Synagogue


Morning Minyan

February 1, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Unraveling the Siddur

February 1, 2017 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Koplin/Borochoff Library

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B’nei Mitzvah Meeting

February 1, 2017 @ 6:45 pm – 8:15 pm Paradies

“Looking Beyond The Bar and Bat Mitzvah”

-Pre-Beresheit and Beresheit Cohorts (last cohort meeting)

-Teens and Parents

-Parve dessert (fruit and cookies)

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Morning Minyan

February 2, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Morning Minyan

February 3, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Shabbat Morning Services – Sermon by Rabbi Chaim Listfield

February 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Ellman Chapel unless otherwise specified

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Morning Minyan

February 5, 2017 @ 8:30 am – 9:15 am Ellman Chapel

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Bet is for Baby

February 5, 2017 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm Ahava

Sundays on January 29, February 5, and February 12, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Bet Is for Baby is a three-part program offering information and guidance to first-time, expectant parents about Jewish traditions and parenting. The program also offers participants an opportunity to meet and network with past participants and other new parents. Bet Is for Baby is free and open to the community. All first-time, expectant parents are welcome and encouraged to attend. To register or for additional information, contact Jill Rosner at 404.603.5741 or jrosner@aasynagogue.org.

January 29 Jewish Parenting….The Jewish Family: Introduction, ideas and practical understanding on starting your Jewish family – Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal

February 5 Bris and Baby Naming: Celebrating the birth and capturing the moment – Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal and Rabbi/Mohel Ariel Asa

February 11 Creating a Jewish Home, Raising your Jewish Child: Jewish education and nurturing at all moments – Hannah Williams Director of Ahava Early Learning Center

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Morning Minyan

February 6, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Naomi’s Book Club

February 6, 2017 @ 10:15 am – 12:15 pm

The Black Widow by Daniel Silva. Discussion facilitated by Rina Wolfe.

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Morning Minyan

February 7, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Community Yom HaShoah Event planning committee meeting

February 7, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Paradies

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Morning Minyan

February 8, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Piedmont Learning Group w/ the Rabbis

February 8, 2017 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm The Piedmont at Buckhead, 650 Phipps Blvd NE, Atlanta, GA 30326

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Unraveling the Siddur

February 8, 2017 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Koplin/Borochoff Library

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Morning Minyan

February 9, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Morning Minyan

February 10, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Shabbat Morning Services – Sermon by Rabbi Judith Beiner

February 11, 2017 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Ellman Chapel unless otherwise specified

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Morning Minyan

February 12, 2017 @ 8:30 am – 9:15 am Ellman Chapel

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Bet is for Baby

February 12, 2017 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm Ahava

Sundays on January 29, February 5, and February 12, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Bet Is for Baby is a three-part program offering information and guidance to first-time, expectant parents about Jewish traditions and parenting. The program also offers participants an opportunity to meet and network with past participants and other new parents. Bet Is for Baby is free and open to the community. All first-time, expectant parents are welcome and encouraged to attend. To register or for additional information, contact Jill Rosner at 404.603.5741 or jrosner@aasynagogue.org.

January 29 Jewish Parenting….The Jewish Family: Introduction, ideas and practical understanding on starting your Jewish family – Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal

February 5 Bris and Baby Naming: Celebrating the birth and capturing the moment – Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal and Rabbi/Mohel Ariel Asa

February 11 Creating a Jewish Home, Raising your Jewish Child: Jewish education and nurturing at all moments – Hannah Williams Director of Ahava Early Learning Center

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Tu B’Shvat Tree Planting

February 12, 2017 @ 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees -L’avdah ul’Shamrah, to serve and to protect the land. Bring your family, friends, and fellow congregants – rain or shine! We’ll meet in the parking lot on the north side of the Carter Center for fruit, nuts, and Tu’B'Shvat schmoozing. We will begin planting at 1:00 pm. Please wear clothes that can get dirty, and bring garden gloves if you have them. There will be hot coffee, juice, and snacks available throughout the planting. Young children’s programming led by Dr. Leah Zigmond, Executive Director of Camp Judea and former Director of Education for Kibbutz Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology in Israel. For more information, contact Myrtle Lewin ataagreening@gmail.com.

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Evening Minyan

February 12, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Ellman Chapel

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Morning Minyan

February 13, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Evening Minyan

February 13, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Ellman Chapel

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Morning Minyan

February 14, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Evening Minyan

February 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Ellman Chapel

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Morning Minyan

February 15, 2017 @ 7:15 am – 8:00 am Ellman Chapel

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Lunch and Learn

February 15, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Offices of Birnbrey, Minsk, Minsk, and Perling, 1801 Peachtree Street NW #300, Atlanta, GA 30309

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Unraveling the Siddur

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Ahavath Achim Synagogue

Why Our Synagogue Became A ‘Sanctuary Synagogue’ – Forward

Each Passover, as we gather around Seder tables with glasses of sweet wine and with plates overflowing with charoset, egg and bitter herbs, Jews read the words Arami oved Avi, which translates to My father was a wandering Aramean. Slavery and liberation are personal; we read the story in the first person: The Exodus happened to me.

This is personal.

Earlier this month, the Board of Trustees of Shir Tikvah, the congregation in Minneapolis that I serve, voted to declare our synagogue a Sanctuary Congregation for any undocumented person seeking refuge.


Because unless you descend from the indigenous peoples of North America, you have immigrant ancestors. Every one of us has an immigrant story, a refugee story. My own in-laws fled Germany at the dawn of World War II in 1939, the Nazis literally hot in pursuit. Every one in our community has a similar, yet distinct, story of family arriving in this country poor, lacking English, hungering for the promise of America.

Aside from being personal, sanctuary is also theological.

The most frequently mentioned mitzvot in the Torah command Jews to love the stranger, the immigrant. The Torah further explains that there should be one law for immigrant and citizen alike.

wikimedia commons

Our very name, Shir Tikvah, means Song of Hope.

How could we be a song of hope and turn away people from our doors? How many of the MS St. Louis the ship full of refugees turned away from the United States in 1939 and returned to Europe, where most were murdered by the Nazis would have lived and their stories and lives flourished here if we had welcomed them?

Our Sanctuary Team, lead by a group of passionate congregants committed to bringing Torah values to life, are busy working to make our synagogue a welcoming home should people need to seek refuge within our walls. They are busy collecting bedding, dressers and other furnishings to make our space more comfortable. We solicited bids to build a shower. We have joined with hundreds of other synagogues, churches and mosques that make up the Sanctuary Movement to stand boldly and proudly with those who, like our ancestors, came to the shores of America seeking a new life.

We do not know if anyone will come. But each Friday night, as we sing Lecha Dodi which includes the lyrics Sanctuary of the Creator city royal / Arise, go out from amidst the turmoil we rise and open our synagogue doors to the street. If our undocumented neighbors show up, we will embody Abraham and Sarah and rush to greet them, feed them, house them and shelter them for as long as they need.

We hear rumors that the new administration may no longer respect the cherished boundary of houses of worship and may forcibly enter churches, mosques and synagogues to arrest undocumented people. I pray that God will open the presidents heart, that he will see that these families are exactly like our families hardworking, loving and seeking to build a better life for themselves and their children.

Regardless of the immoral, heartless policy targeting immigrants and refugees, we, the descendants of the first wandering Jew, must fling open the doors of our sanctuaries to all of Gods beautiful, busted, holy creation.

Michael Adam Latz is the senior rabbi of Shir Tikvah synagogue, in Minneapolis.

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

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Why Our Synagogue Became A ‘Sanctuary Synagogue’ – Forward

After weekend of anti-Semitic acts, Clinton urges Trump to ‘speak out’ – Washington Post

Growing outcry against a recent spate of anti-Semitic acts and threats pushed President Trump to denunciate the rising violence, calling it “a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

President Trump called anti-Semitic violence horrible and vowed Tuesday to take steps to counter extremism in comments that followed criticism that the White House had not clearly denounced vandalism and threats targeting Jewish institutions.

Hours before Trumps remarks, Hillary Clinton called on her former presidential rival to speak out against anti-Semitic acts aftermore than 170 Jewish graves were found toppled at a cemetery in Missouri.

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil, Trump said following a visit to the Smithsonians National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Trump called the tour a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. Earlier, he told NBC News that anti-Semitism is horrible, and its going to stop.

The remarks by Trump also appear aimed at easing pressure on his administration, which faces claims from opponents that it has failed to distance itself from extremist ideology and has emboldened right-wing groups through its populist, America-first themes.

The tweet from Clinton did not specifically mention the gravesite disturbances inUniversity City, Mo., but noted increasing reports of troubling threats against Jewish community centers, cemetery desecrations and online intimidation.

Clintons message to Trump came as the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, also urged U.S. officials to recognize that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking.

American Jews are worried, Lauder said in a statement. It is shocking to see that Jewish sites are once again being targeted by criminals.

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League reported a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers in multiple states, the fourth series of such threats since the beginning of the year, it said.The development elicited comments from a White House spokesman and Ivanka Trump, neither of which used the phrase anti-Semitism or mentioned Jews.

Glad to see this, the ADLs chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt,tweeted of Ivanka Trumps comment. All Jews need to urge the president to step forward & share a plan. His words carry weight. His actions will speak even louder.

The exchanges were particularly noteworthy in part because of Trumps unusual response at a news conferenceWednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a question about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country. Rather than condemning them, Trump responded by talking about his electoral college victory.

Trump has been criticized forrefusing to describe the threats toward Jews as anti-Semitism. An op-ed at the Forward, the New York-based newspaper written for a Jewish audience, described Trumps silence about anti-Semitism as deeply disturbing.

When asked again about the rise in anti-Semitic threats, during another news conference on Thursday, the president responded as ifhe were beingpersonally accused. Trumpsaidthat thequestion was very insulting and that he was the least anti-Semitic person that youve ever seen in your entire life.

The weekends events, coming in the wake of last weeks public exchanges with Trump, served to heat up a long-simmering tension between some leaders of the nations Jewish community and the Trump White House.

The perpetrators of the cemetery vandalism and their motives arenot yet established. Police in University City, an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, have launched an investigation. They are reviewing video surveillance at the cemetery, which is operated on a not-for-profit basis by the Chesed Shel Emeth Society,and calling on anyone with information to come forward.

Because of the Sabbath, the cemetery does not operate on Saturday, the director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, Anita Feigenbaum, told The Washington Post in a phone interview.

A groundskeeper arrived Monday morning to find gravestones overturned across a wide section of the cemetery, the oldest section, bearing the remains of Jews who died between the late 1800s and the mid-20th century.

She called it a horrific act of cowardice, beyond anything the cemetery had experienced in the past.

The cemetery was founded in 1888 by the Russian Jewish community in St. Louis to aid all Jews who needed burial whether they had the money or not. They started with the burial society and then extended to hospitals and houses that help the poor and the sick. To this day thats what we do. We are not for profit. We help in this horrible time in a persons life.

Feigenbaum had walked through the cemetery during the day and had not yet completed counting the number of damaged stones, most of them pushed over, off their bases. So far she said she had found more than 170. Feigenbaum said she was starting to hear from families of people buried there. We will reach out to the families that are affected, she said.

The cemetery holds the remains of more than 20,000, she estimated.

She said she was getting an outpouring of support from across the United States with people volunteering to help with repairs.

Separately on Monday, the Anti-Defamation League reported a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers in multiple states, the fourth series of such threats since the beginning of the year, it said.

While ADL does not have any information at this time to indicate the presence of any actual bombs at the institutions threatened, the threats themselves are alarming, disruptive and must always be taken seriously.

Bomb threats were called in at Jewish community centers in 11cities across the United States: Albuquerque, Amherst, Birmingham, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, St. Paul, Tampa and Whitefish Bay, Wis.Since January, there have been 69 bomb threatcalls targeting 54 centers in 27 different states, according to the Jewish Community Center Association.

In Amherst and Buffalo, the community centers werebriefly closedafter a threat was phoned to the Amherst center. Disruption was the goal, saidRichard A. Zakalik, the local New York JCC executive director, to the Buffalo Newson Monday. They accomplished what they wanted, Zakalik said to the Buffalo News.The whole point was to scare and disrupt.

No devices or bombs were found in connection with thethreats; the Jewish Community Center Association described all of Mondays incidents ashoaxes. The FBI and the civil rights division of the Justice Department will probe the series of calls for federal violations, according tothe Star Tribune.

Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Network, the security affiliate of Jewish Federations of North America, told theJewish Telegraphic Agency that the bomb threats appeared to originate from the same serial caller. Noting that not every building that received a call decided to evacuate, he said that the community centers were very well-equipped to handle this. The centers also increased their security measures after the threats, the JCCA noted.

The weekend spate of anti-Semitic threats was not limited to the United States. In Canada, a 70-year-old Toronto woman named Helen Chaiton said that her mezuza, the case containing Hebrew verse traditionally affixed to a doorpost, had been vandalized twice over the weekend. Chaiton and her neighbors also found that the vandals had left behind sticky notes with swastikas, the CBC reported.

[Anti-Semitic jokes cause YouTube, Disney to distance themselves from PewDiePie]

Responding to an inquiry from NBC Newsabout the threats, the White House tweeted back: Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.

The tweet from Ivanka Trump, a convert to Judaism, appeared to be unsolicited and drew generally favorable reaction, but also questions about why her father, the president, seemed reluctant to speak out.

The ADLissued a statementon Feb. 16,characterizingTrumps news conference reaction as mind-boggling.

On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it, the ADL said in the statement. This is not a partisan issue. Its a potentially lethal problem and its growing.

And after the new rash of phoned-in threats Monday, theorganizations chief executivedrew a connection between the incidents and the presidential silence. A lack of attention to this from the president creates an environment in which the bigots feel empowered, Greenblatt, of the ADL, told Haaretz. They feel like their intolerance is being tolerated.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

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After weekend of anti-Semitic acts, Clinton urges Trump to ‘speak out’ – Washington Post

Amidst rising anti-Semitism, Trump’s lackluster response has Jewish groups concerned – Vox

On Monday, eleven Jewish Community Centers across the country were targeted with bomb threats. Outside St. Louis, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated: over 100 tombstones were overturned and damaged.

Enough already, Karen Aroesty, an anti-Defamation League local leader told a Fox news affiliate. This is where your loved ones come to be safe in perpetuity, and the level of tension in the Jewish community is pretty high.

NBC News asked the White House for a statement on the uptick in anti-Semitic activities and the terrorizing of JCCs nationally, as the newest round of threatening calls brings the total number of bomb scares to 67 since the beginning of January. The White House press office issued a statement:

Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.

Separately, first daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted:

America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC

Both comments were among the most specific statements the White House, or its surrogates, have made to address the rise in anti-Semitic acts, statements, and sentiment that has percolated since the middle of the election.

The silence was so profound, ADLs CEO Jonathan Greenblatt put out a statement, earlier Monday, underscoring the notable absence of leadership. We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law, he said.

The Press Office comment may miss that test, even now, in failing to use the words Jewish, Jewish Community Center, or anti-Semitism.

Indeed, President Donald Trump has been minimally vocal about his positions on the matter. Just last week had had the chance to use his bully pulpit to reassure Jews who are fearful of rising anti-Semitism in America. He took two chances for targeted messaging to talk, instead, about himself.

At two press conferences last week, reporters raised sober questions about Jewish safety in America and the rise of anti-Semitism over the course of the election and beyond. Both were opportunities for a statement of firm condemnation against acts of violence and a moment of empathy: a presidential reassuring hand and an outstretched arm. Both times the questions were deflected, and rerouted, leaving the Jewish community reeling.

Last Wednesday morning, at a press conference held with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli journalist Moav Vardi stood up and asked, Since your election campaign, and even since your victory, we have seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States and I wonder what you have say to the Jewish community of the United States and Israel, and maybe around the world, and … to those who feel your administration is maybe playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?

Trumps response was surreal. First, he crowed about his electoral victory Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory we had 316 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? (It was so incongruous that a New York Times editorial noted: It was as if his brain had short-circuited or someone had hit some internal replay button in his brain.)

He continued:

I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. There’s a lot of bad things that have been taking place over a long period of time. …

As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends; a daughter who happens to be here right now; a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening.

And you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love.

He did not say, On behalf of my Jewish grandchildren, this White House will stand against anti-Semitism. He did not say, even more simply, No children should live in fear. He merely noted the existence of his Jewish relatives, as though their very presence spoke sufficiently to both of those points.

The following day, Trump had a second chance to address the issue.

During a 77-minute meandering press conference on Thursday, Jake Turx, a journalist from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication Ami Magazine, stood up and asked a question. After first promising that he wasnt accusing Trump himself of being anti-Semitic (knowing he was a zayde, a grandfather, to Jewish kids) he then asked:

What we are concerned about and what we havent really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. Theres been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to

But Turx never got to finish his question. Trump cut him off, and told him to sit down. See, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not,” the president said, brusquely.

Not a simple question. Not a fair question. Okay, sit down. I understand the rest of your question. … So here’s the story, folks. number one: I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

The reporter immediately tried to elaborate. The president stopped him again saying:

Quiet, quiet, quiet. See he lied about he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question. So, you know, welcome to the world of the media.

Turxs actual worries remained unaddressed.

This is startling. Instead of taking an easy opportunity to reassure concerned American Jews that their president has their back, Trump roughly pushed back at an Orthodox Jewish reporter whose questions werent about what the administration, or the president, was doing negatively, but what it might be doing proactively to address those who are attacking the community.

For many Jews, the moment brought home a concern that has rankled for many months. By halfway through 2016, there was a persistent, palpable, even terrifying, sense within the community that we had suddenly entered into a new era of popular anti-Semitic permissiveness, one where what was once fringe thought and speech had been mainstreamed and magnified by social media.

There were tweets that brought in anti-Semitic imagery during the campaign (a six-pointed Jewish star, superimposed upon a pile of money that was later sworn to be a sheriffs star; surrogates who tweeted images of Pepe the frog, a favorite of the self-described alt-right).

There was, as well, worrisome messaging from the campaign itself, including a final advertisement that used anti-Semitic dog whistles about money, power, and global special interests. And there was deep concern about the stories published by Breitbart news, former news home of Steve Bannon, a leading campaign adviser turned White House right-hand man, which didnt shy away from speaking negatively about Jews.

Midway through the campaign, those who disliked journalists work on Trump and his campaign began to target Jewish journalists on Twitter. Direct requests to the Republican candidate to condemn the demonization of Jewish journalists yielded nothing.

Once in office, it was hardly reassuring that the presidents message on Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention Jewish victims. To many, it felt premeditated.

Added together with an uptick in physical threats to Jewish institutions around the country, these two press conference moments were a chance to let Jewish citizens know support from the White House would be robust, and that hate would not be tolerated.

The choice to ignore that moment, or miss it, sent a different message entirely.

What will it take for Donald Trump to condemn Anti-Semitism, began an op-ed in the Jewish daily Forward by Kenneth Stern, executive director of the Justus and Karin Rosenberg Foundation, an organization that fights anti-Semitism and hate crimes. He called the president a serial enabler of anti-Semitism and white supremacists, and noted the incredible lack of empathy conveyed over the past 48 hours.

If the President cant empathize with, or even imagine, what it feels like to be a Jewish child rushing out of a [Jewish community center] in fear of a bomb, or the Jewish child from Montana whose picture neo-Nazis posted online, maybe he should think about the increasingly hostile environment confronting his beautiful Jewish grandchildren, wrote Stern. History teaches that hatred of all types perhaps anti-Semitism especially grows in a culture where it is tolerated, and not reflexively condemned, by leaders.

In a statement posted to Twitter, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris plaintively said, Mr. President, anti-Semitism around the world is on the rise. … We need the help of the government to combat this cancer. Thats why questions are being asked at press conferences. … But if every such question elicits either no substantive response or, mistakenly, is taken personally, then what are people of good will supposed to conclude?

Writing for the Jewish parenting site Kveller, Jordana Horn noted all the president needed to say was, I deplore and condemn anti-Semitism in all forms. Perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. She then offered several reasons for why the statements he did make were woefully inadequate and why their inadequacy should profoundly trouble Americans Jewish and otherwise.

The presence of Jews in ones administration does not give one carte blanche to ignore anti-Semitism, she said. The rest of her statement is worth reading in full:

We are here, President Trump. We are Jewish Americans. We are not going anywhere. Some of us agree with your policies, others do not. But surely all of us, regardless of our politics, agree that our children should not be targeted for violence because they are Jewish. That our synagogues should not be vandalized with swastikas and broken windows. That Jewish homeowners should not receive threatening letters. That people who say, Jews should burn in ovens, are disgusting and should be loudly acknowledged as such. That bomb threats to JCCs are crimes and should be investigated and prosecuted, with the perpetrators brought to justice.

Do you agree, Mr. President? If you do, you need to explicitly say so. You feel free to express your opinions on Twitter about everything from Saturday Night Live to Nordstrom to Meryl Streep. So why, sir, do you stubbornly refuse to say anything condemning anti-Semitic attacks in our country? Because if you say nothing, I would argue that your silence speaks volumes.

In a private Facebook message to me (reprinted with permission), Horn wrote, I couldnt not write. I am the Jewish-American mother of six children: I have an investment in our future as well as our present.

Statements ranging from bewildered to angry came as well from Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, of the rabbinical association Truah, and Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc.

Presidents are supposed to show empathy for their anxious constituents. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, the only person Trump shows empathy for is himself, wrote columnist Peter Beinart at the Atlantic.

In conversation with me, Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said, simply, Words have consequences.

Even a simple statement would speak volumes to calm the anxiety. This has become a test, Greenblatt said. Its not political … to say prejudice should be stamped out of public square. It is not left and right, only right and wrong.

The reason so many Jews are asking questions about anti-Semitism is that, following the increasingly worrisome rhetoric, associations, and bedfellows of the campaign, there has been a rise in terrifying anti-Semitic incidents since the year began.

In January, 60 bomb threats were called in to some 48 Jewish community centers (JCCs) across North America. “I’ve been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented,” Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, told CNN. “It’s more methodical than meets the eye.”

JCCs, it should be noted, are not simply places of gathering or gyms for Zumba classes though, of course, none of those should be targeted either. They are also often preschools during the day. That means children under 5 are the ones being evacuated each time a bomb threat is called in.

And the bomb threats are only one piece of the problem.

An entire community in Montana has been threatened by actual neo-Nazis, terrifying the Jewish population and putting its rabbi under a microscope. A neo-Nazi march was originally planned for the town of Whitefish, Montana, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, home to a handful of Jews and to the leader of the so-called alt-right Richard Spencer. It was later scuttled.

And during the presidential election, there was a dramatic rise in online harassment of Jewish journalists and Jewish public figures. Says Greenblatt of the ADL, You had a white supremacist trope winding itself into public dialogue that the campaign did not tamp down when it could have. He notes that the ADL was dismissed as being political for complaining. But what he was seeing was a tsunami of slander on social media photoshopped images and grotesque threats all these things were metastasizing.

Indeed, the problem grew so large that the ADL issued a report on the matter in October. At least 800 journalists received anti-Semitic tweets with an estimated reach of 45 million impressions, the report explained. There was a significant uptick in anti-Semitic tweets in the second half (January-July 2016) of [the reports] study period. This correlates to intensifying coverage of the presidential campaign, the candidates and their positions on a range of issues.

Vandalism, too, has increased, both on public property, and private, Greenblatt notes. And this week a man in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was arrested for trying to buy a gun. According to the FBI, he had hoped to carry out a Dylann Roof style attack on a synagogue to kill Jews. Roof murdered nine worshipers at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2016.

I think, empirically not opinion, not anecdote, not politics something is going on, says Greenblatt. There is an uptick in incidents. That is why people are concerned.

Trump, though, seems far more concerned with bragging about his electoral victory.

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Amidst rising anti-Semitism, Trump’s lackluster response has Jewish groups concerned – Vox

Young Israel Of Memphis Celebrates Talmud And Torah – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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On Shabbos morning, January 21, the congregants of Young Israel of Memphis (YIOM) was excited to celebrate with Michael and Alison Novich, as Michael marked his second cycle of completing the study of the entire Babylonian Talmud with a joy-filled Siyum HaShas and gala Kiddush. YIOM President Jonathan Kaplan commented, Our community is incredibly impressed with Michaels monumental accomplishment. His commitment to consistently study Torah on a daily basis inspires each of us to carve out time in our own busy lives for daily Torah study.

Michael and Alison also arranged for their former rabbi Rabbi Allen Schwartz (together with his wife Alisa and two of their children) of New York Citys Congregation Ohab Zedek to join them for this special weekend. During his stay in Memphis, Rabbi Schwartz shared six well-attended intriguing Torah presentations with the community.

Rabbi Schwartz was as impressed with our Memphis Jewish community as we were with him. At several points over the course of Shabbos he remarked how important it was for him and his wife to see and experience our terrific community first-hand. Many young couples they interact with are looking for more affordable Jewish communities. Rabbi Schwartz told us he would readily suggest Memphis as an option for those interested in relocating.

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Young Israel Of Memphis Celebrates Talmud And Torah – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Jewish Communities in Europe Warn of Rising Anti-Semitism – Voice of America


Jewish communities in Europe say they feel especially vulnerable following the terror attacks across the continent in recent years, and want governments to dedicate extra policing and intelligence efforts to keep them safe.

Community leaders meeting at the Munich Security Conference Sunday also warned that the rise of populist far right parties threatens their way of life.

Jewish leaders say the plight of their people in Europe will always be seen in the shadow of the Holocaust.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and his family travelled the few kilometers out of Munich Sunday to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

U.S. troops liberated the camp on April 29th 1945.

In total six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Seventy-two years later, Jewish communities across the continent say anti-Semitism is on the rise again.

A session was convened Sunday on the sidelines of the Munich summit to debate how Europes Jewish communities can be protected, attended by former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, told VOA security is the number one concern for Jews across the continent.

Terrorism which we have seen in Toulouse, in Paris, in Copenhagen, in Brussels which has impacted the Jewish community and has also created an exodus from some countries.

Four percent of the Jewish population in Belgium and France had left for Israel between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent study by the London-based Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

Both countries have seen Jewish communities targeted. In 2014 an Islamic-state inspired attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels killed four people. In 2015 gunmen attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris the same day as the assault on the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Terrorism expert Peter Neumann of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization told the conference specific protection is needed.

Jewish communities are always in the frontline if you like, and thats why its important that governments intensify their efforts to protect them. Its also important for Europe in a grander sense, because when Jews get attacked in Europe it is not only Jews as individuals or as a community, in a sense it is the very fabric of our society.

Its not only terrorism thats driving fear. The rise of the populist far right especially National Front leader Marine Le Pen in France has raised concerns that religious practices like circumcision or kosher food could be outlawed, according to Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt.

France is going to be a different country, Europe is going to be a different continent if Marine Le Pen becomes the president of France. There is a coalition, a strengthening of the extreme right in Europe as a by-product of the changing administration in the United States which is of concern, Goldschmidt told VOA.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also called for better intelligence sharing between Europe and Israel.

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Jewish Communities in Europe Warn of Rising Anti-Semitism – Voice of America

Pence visits Dachau concentration camp amid fears of rising anti-Semitism in US – Deutsche Welle

US Vice President Mike Pence visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial site on Sunday, just days after his boss took flack for a bizarre response to a Jewish reporter’s question about anti-Semitism in the United States.

Pence was in Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference, as part of a campaign to assuage allies worried about US President Donald Trump’s attitude towards defense cooperation.

“Moving and emotional tour of Dachau today,” he wrote on Twitter. “We can never forget atrocities against Jews and others in the Holocaust.”

The vice president visited the memorial alongside his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte. They placed a wreath in the center of the camp and attended an on-site church service in honor of the 40,000 people who were killed and 200,000 imprisoned at the camp near Munich. They also met with survivor Abba Naor, who described the horrors of life in the camp to the Pence family.

Trump accosts Hasidic reporter

Pence’s visit had added urgency, however, as it came amidst concerns of increasing anti-Semitism in the United States. Some 58 Jewish community centers have received at least 60 bomb threats in the past two months, and leaders have voiced concerns that Trump’s nationalistic campaign rhetoric has emboldened white supremacists. Reports of other anti-Semitic incidents like swastika graffiti in schools and bullying have also been widespread.

When asked about the incidents during his first solo press conference at president this past week, Trump first avoided the question and then became angry at Jake Turx, a Hasidic Jewish reporter working for Brooklyn-based Jewish magazine Ami.

Turx prefaced his question by saying, “I have not seen anyone in my community accuse either yourself or anyone of your staff of being anti-Semitic.” He then asked how the administration planned to address concerns the Jewish community had about violence and hate speech.

Before Turx has finished speaking, Trump interrupted him and told him to sit down, saying his question was “very insulting.”

“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump then said. “Number two, racism. The least racist person.” He also called the reporter a liar during the tense exchange.

Later on Twitter, Turx wrote: “President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification.”

The Trump administration was also criticized for issuing a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention the murder of 6 million Jews.

es/sms (AFP, dpa)

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Pence visits Dachau concentration camp amid fears of rising anti-Semitism in US – Deutsche Welle

Transgender Woman’s Daughter Shunned By Hasidic Classmates – Forward

(JTA) The daughter of a transgender woman in Manchester, England, is being shunned by her classmates at a haredi Orthodox school after being ordered to by their teachers.

The classmates were told not to communicate with the girl in any way, the regional newspaper the Jewish Telegraph reported.The students wrote her a letter telling her that if they see her they will have to ignore her but that they would always love her and that they would pray for her, according to the report.

A British high court judge ruled late last month that the transgender woman, who is the father of the girl and four other young children, may not have direct contact with the children.

I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalized or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contact, Justice Peter Jackson of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales wrote in his decision.

The transgenderwomanis allowed to indirectly contact the children four times a year on Jewish festivals and their birthdays.

In the yearlong case, the identity of the family remained anonymous, the London-based Independent newspaperreported.

The childrens mother had said in court that if the children had direct contact with the transgender woman, the parent body of their schools would not allow other children to play with them, and she was backed by the testimony of several community rabbis. The children could also be denied places at good yeshivas and schools, be prevented from marrying into some families, and the entire family could be shunned by the community, the court was told.

The judge also wrote that his decision was not a failure to uphold transgender rights but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.

Jackson has written to the U.K.s top education official,warning that social banishment of trans peoples children in strict Jewish schools may be illegal, The Independent reported.

There is, to say the least, evidence that the practices within the [ultra-Orthodox Jewish] community, and in particular its schools, amount to unlawfuldiscrimination against and victimization of the father and the children because of the fathers transgender status, he wrote.

Religious bigotry is illegal in the U.K. Allschools must promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for people who are LGBTQ, and cannot refuse admission to children on the basis of whether they or a family member is LGBTQ, the LGBQ Nation, news website reported.

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Transgender Woman’s Daughter Shunned By Hasidic Classmates – Forward

Police demand filmed materials of Israel Big Brother contestant – The Times of Israel

The production offices of Israels Big Brother reality TV show were visited on Friday by police, who demanded that producers hand over filmed material featuring current season contestant Andel Kabeda, Haaretz reported.

Police reportedly had a warrant for the materials, and told producers it had been issued in light of a complaint filed against Kabeda, though they would not give any more details. Producers refused to hand in the materials and said they would appeal the warrant on Sunday.

Kabeda, who is of Ethiopian descent, has railed against police treatment of his community, and in one recent exchange called policemen Nazis.

The controversial contestant has also been accused of sexual harassment of another contestant, Maayan Ashkenazi. Kabeda has frequently attempted to touch Ashkenazi in seemingly inappropriate ways and has often spoken to her in an offensive manner, suggesting she undress and that they engage in an orgy together, as well as expressing his desire to drink from your lips. Ashkenazis father recently said production staff had cautioned Kabeda about his behavior.

It was unclear whether Fridays police visit was tied to one of these matters.

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Police demand filmed materials of Israel Big Brother contestant – The Times of Israel

Donald Trump Should Buy a Suit From This Holocaust Survivor – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “Donald Trump Should Buy a Suit From This Holocaust Survivor” to a friend

Martin Greenfield. Photo: Levi Welton.

Although it seems trivial to critique the clothing of a politician,GQ,Stephen Colbertand even atailor from Londonall recentlycommentedon President Donald Trumps fashion acumen. Thus, in the spirit of the great American legend Mark Twain, who once said clothes make the man,let me explainwhy President Trump should buy a suit from Americas greatest living tailor aHolocaust survivornamedMartin Greenfield.

America First

Althoughless than 3%of clothing sold in the US is actually made here,Greenfield Clothiers has thrived for decades in the heart of Brooklyn; it isthe last unionized mens clothing factory in all ofNew York City.

February 17, 2017 2:24 am

When I asked Martin Greenfield why he wouldnt move his manufacturing operation to China, where production would be a fraction of the cost, he responded,I would never even consider [it],because of all the American jobs weve created here.

His son, Tod, the co-owner of Greenfield Clothiers, echoed that sentiment.We operate on an ethical level, thinking about whats good for our customers, employees and the local neighborhood.

This emphasis on home-made, top-notch quality must work, as their client list boasts many celebrities and politicians from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, Al Pacino to Johnny Depp, Shaquille ONeal to Jimmy Fallon, and past presidents such asBill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and Barack Obama. As Martin likes to say, I dress both sides of the aisle.

And theGreenfields give back to the community in other ways. Tod shared with me how his father worked with St. Nicks Alliance in the 1980s to create Evergreen, a membership organization that champions economic development in North Brooklyn, and works with 10,000 local businesses there. Their website,www.evergreenexchange.org, states, These businesses, which employ over 15,000 residents, depend on Evergreen for free, quick and reliable assistance with tax credits, incentives, financing, real estate and relocation assistance, energy and green issues, workforce needs, and advocacy.

When I asked Martin what motivated him to work so arduously on behalf of keeping jobs in America, he responded emphatically,Whenever I speak to young people about working in America, I tell them that here, you only need to set your mind to something [and you will succeed]. I started out as a floor-boy, working at this factory and when I bought it a few years later, my father-in-law told me I would fail due to President Carters interest rates. I told him, I will succeed. I picked six people and started from scratch, and Im where I am today for one reason only: we worked hard to be the best.

A president for all Americans

In his inaugural speech, President Trump stated,We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

Yet this past election was one of the most divisive that I can remember, with many friendships being threatened and even families torn apart. I am continuously engaging in healthy debate with my friends and family members over the policies of the new administration, but I believe thatour conversations, social media posts and attitudes mustshowrespect for one another.

This ideal is so perfectly expressed and embodied by Martin Greenfield, who was a victim of persecution and discrimination, yet never forgot what it meant to treat a fellow human being with dignity and respect.

As a teenager in Nazi Germany, the wife of the mayor of Weimar caught Martineating rotten, left-over food from arabbit cage, and reported him to theNazis, who almost beat him to death.

Vowing revenge, he returned with a machine gun after the war, and caught the womanstanding outside her home, holding her baby. Upon seeing the baby, Martin broke down crying and ran away. As hewrites in his memoir,That was the moment I became human again. All the old teachings came rushing back. I had been raised to believe that life was a precious gift from God.

When I asked Tod what he learned from his father, he remarked,I remember Dad used to call the union when he needed new employees, and he would ask if they could send veterans over. He felt such gratitude for the American soldiers who liberated him from the concentration camp and wanted to give back to them. One time, they sent an African-American veteran to his office. The company had never had an African-American work there before, and it caused a local outcry.

Tods brother, Jay, another co-owner at Greenfield Clothiers, added,Remember this was in the 1940s, around the same time Jackie Robinson was breaking the baseball color line. It was unheard of. Martinrefused to buckle under the pressure, and kept the African-American veteran gainfully employed.

If President Trump were to wear a suit crafted by a man who treats everyone with such dignity and equality, Trumpwouldsend a message that he is a president for all Americans and that he will show that same respect for others.

Trumps Jewish family

For the first time in history, Jewish grandchildren will be running around the White House, and having the Kushner familyin the White House should be a mark of pride for Jewish immigrants and their descendants across the county.

Martin Greenfield represents exactly what our people can and have achieved in America. As Martin told me,Im the proudest American youll ever meet. Theres no place like it, and when I speak to young people, I tell them that I am an immigrant [from Czechoslovakia] and I love it here.

As Jay Greenfield told me, There is no greater honor as an American suit-maker than to dress the president of the United States!

In conclusion, permit me to disclose that I am unashamedly biased, and proudly wear a Martin Greenfield suit.

Every time I feel the fabric, I picture Martins constant smile. I think of how his incredible life story has taught me to never forget the ability of the human race to sink to the darkest recesses of evil, but also to rise again and to thrive. I think of how we are all created in the image of God (Genesis1:27) and are truly one Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

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Donald Trump Should Buy a Suit From This Holocaust Survivor – Algemeiner

Trump in denial over rising American antisemitism – Jerusalem Post Israel News

In two press conferences last week, US President Donald Trump avoided answering reporters questions about the undeniable spike in antisemitic incidents in America during his campaign for the presidency, an alarming trend that continues to concern the world Jewish community.

On Wednesday, a reporter asked about the rise of antisemitic incidents amid growing concern that the new administration might in fact be encouraging xenophobia and racism. If Trump were a politician, the softball question presented a golden opportunity to hit a home run while standing next to the leader of the Jewish state by condemning what the Anti-Defamation League has called the highest level of antisemitism in the US since the 1930s.

Instead of commenting on the recent spate of bomb threats to Jewish community centers throughout the US, Trump ignored the issue and unfathomably responded by speaking about how many Electoral College votes he received.

Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had 316 Electoral College votes, Mr. Trump said. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said theres no way to 270. And theres tremendous enthusiasm out there.

No comment as to how his campaign was perceived as a dog whistle for the so-called alt-right and its fellow traveling, dyed-in-the-wool antisemites. Neither did Trump take the opportunity to explain why his White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day made no mention of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

Trump doubled down on this lapse the following day, when he ordered a Jewish haredi reporter to sit down, rather than answer his respectful question about the spike in antisemitic incidents a question that was preceded by a polite reassurance from reporter Jake Turx that no one in his community feels that Trump himself is an antisemite.

Instead, the president cut him off and ordered him to sit down, apparently mistaking the question as a personal insult and responding with the well-worn mantra of his campaign: Number one, I am the least antisemitic person you have ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. I am the least racist person.

He proceeded to call Truxs question repulsive and told him to be quiet.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt was one of many who were appalled by the presidents response. He told the Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism on Friday that over the past few years, we have seen the growth of ugly campaigns on our college campuses, efforts that seek to delegitimize Israel and to reduce the Jewish state into some kind of taboo. This virus has spread and made some of greatest universities hostile to Jewish students and those who support them.

Instead of giving a thoughtful response to some of the most serious concerns of word Jewry, the so-called leader of the free world belittled them by saying bad things have happened over a long period of time. He gave no hint of understanding how his xenophobic, ultra-nationalistic policies and fear-mongering have alarmed all Jews.

Adding insult to injury, he instead once again exploited the Jewish members of his family in his variation of the some of my best friends are Jewish appeal for credibility.

As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends; a daughter who happens to be here right now; a son-in-law; and three beautiful grandchildren. His promise sounded hollow: Youre going to see a lot of love.

It is time Trump understands the damage he is causing.

His failure and inability to publicly and unequivocally denounce antisemitism and to say something as simple as: I have ordered the Justice Department to crack down on hate crimes, is concerning. The failure to be clear on the issue will give antisemites the impression that the president actually supports them, and their attacks might even escalate as a result.

At a time when JCCs are regularly threatened, when swastikas are spray-painted on synagogues and hate speech is circulating in an unprecedented way on social media, the president is meant to serve as his countrys and to some extent even the worlds moral compass.

Trumps continued failure to do so is a stain on his presidency.

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UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus … – The Guardian

Cambridge is among the universities where incidents have been reported. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Universities are being urged to act swiftly to tackle antisemitism on campuses after a series of incidents in recent weeks including Holocaust denial leaflets, fascist stickers and swastikas etched on and around campuses which have fuelled anxiety among Jewish students.

Leading academics, student representatives and experts on antisemitism expressed concern at the widespread nature of the incidents, which have affected a number of higher education institutions across the country.

Earlier this week it emerged that a swastika and a Rights for Whites sign had been found at halls of residence at Exeter, which the university described after an initial investigation as an ill-judged, deeply offensive joke.

There have also been incidents reported at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex and University College London recently, which the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said indicated some level of coordination. It is thought to be part of a wider spike in hate crime targeting Jews and other minority communities.

Responding to the incidents, one leading crossbench peer said attacks on Jewish students in UK universities should be seen as the canary in the coalmine.

Ruth Deech, who was the first independent adjudicator for higher education overseeing student complaints, said her parents had been attacked as Jewish students in the years leading up to the second world war and the Holocaust. She urged UK universities to rise up and condemn antisemitism.

In the 1920s and 1930s discrimination against Jews started in German, Austrian and Polish universities, long before the second world war, Lady Deech said. Attacks on Jewish students in universities today should be seen as the canary in the coalmine. It starts there and it spreads.

Josh Nagli, the UJS campaigns director, stressed that Jewish students generally had a positive experience at university, but admitted recent events were concerning. It seems like some sort of coordinated activity. I would not say its something to be seriously concerned about, but theres a risk of seeing it more and more on different campuses.

They dont pose a physical threat to Jewish students but it shows there are people in the vicinity of where Jewish students are living and studying who hold these views on Holocaust denial. Any Jewish student would feel uncomfortable that this sort of literature is being handed out.

Flyers found in Cambridge, which appeared to express support for Holocaust denier David Irving, referred to the new Hollywood film Denial, based on the landmark legal case in which Irving sued and lost his case against American historian Deborah Lipstadt. A spokesman for the University of Cambridge said the matter had been reported to the police.

In November, Sheffield Hallam University was recommended by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education to pay 3,000 compensation to a student after failing to deal adequately with his complaints about posts on the universitys Palestine Society social media accounts.

And last June, York University law student Zachary Confino was paid 1,000 compensation over antisemitic abuse when he was called a Jewish prick, an Israeli twat and subjected to an anonymous social media comment that Hitler was on to something.

Recent figures from the Community Security Trust (CST), a Jewish charity that monitors antisemitism, show a doubling of reported incidents involving Jewish students and academics, with 41 incidents in 2016 compared with 21 the year before.

David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, condemned the latest far-right incidents at universities. Its completely reprehensible and I think that people will find it upsetting and disturbing. But whether its dangerous depends on the extent of support there is for it and how quickly effective action is taken against it.

This is a departure from what weve seen in the recent past. The spotlight in the last couple of years has been on the far-left and the left of the Labour party.

My impression is this is coming from a different place to incidents that arise in the context of criticising Israel. This is straightforward antisemitism and its coming from the right.

Izzy Lenga, a final-year theology student at the University of Birmingham, received a torrent of antisemitic abuse and threats after posting a picture on Twitter of a sticker she and other Jewish students had seen on campus featuring an image of Hitler and the words Hitler was right.

It was horrible, it was terrifying, she told the Guardian. She received more than 2,000 messages within 24 hours from a variety of far-right fascist groups including National Action, which has since been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the government.

Lenga says her university was very supportive, but she went home from campus shaken by the experience and for a few weeks was too scared to return. Antisemitism is a hatred that has been around for so long and it doesnt look like its going away any time soon.

The National Union of Students has just completed a national survey of Jewish students experience of university life, details of which will be released later in the spring. Commenting on the incident at Exeter this week, the unions president, Malia Bouattia, said it was another example of the spike in hate crime students had witnessed in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trumps election.

This kind of blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities and colleges, and institutions need to do more to combat it. Students must be at the forefront of tackling racism and fascism in all its forms which is why NUSs current programme of work exploring hate crime could not be more timely.

Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, admitted that universities have a difficult balancing act between protecting students from abuse or intolerance, while also allowing legitimate protest and free speech within the law. This is particularly relevant when Israel and Palestine are being discussed, a spokesman said.

The university sector has been clear that there is no place for antisemitism or any other kind of unlawful discrimination at our universities. While statistics from the CST suggest that reported incidents of antisemitism in universities remain low, even a single incident is one too many.

In the context of an increase in the number of reported hate crimes across the UK, universities have procedures in place which should give more students the confidence to report incidents.

The universities minister, Jo Johnson, said this week: Higher education institutions have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe and inclusive environment and act swiftly so that students do not face discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

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UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus … – The Guardian

Trump slams reporter for ‘repulsive’ question about anti-Semitism – USA TODAY

During a press conference at the White House, President Trump falsely claimed that his electoral college win was the biggest since Ronald Reagan. He also attempted to downplay reports of turmoil inside his administration. USA TODAY NETWORK

.Among the most unusual moments at Thursday’s press conference was President Trumps response to a question about whether the government plans to respond to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

Here is the full question from the reporter, identified by Haaretz as Jake Turx with the Jewish OrthodoxAmi Magazine:

I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We have an understand that you have Jewish grandchildren you are their zayde. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven’t being heard addressed is how the government is planning to take care of it. There are reports that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to …

Trump called the question repulsive and insulting. He also expressed frustration that the reporter “said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not. It’s not a simple question, not a fair question.”

The presidenttold the reporter to sit down.

So, heres the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that youre ever seen in your entire life, Trump continued. Number two, racism. The least racist person.

As evidence, Trump pointed to his performance among minorities during the election. We did relatively well, relative to other people running as a Republican.

Trump then told the reporter to be quiet when he tried to ask a follow-up question. The president repeated his accusation that the reporter “lied” when he said he was going to ask a simple question. “Welcome to the world of the media,” he said.

Trump falsely claims biggest electoral win since Reagan


Analysis: Trump’s press conference was a spectacle for the ages

But let me just tell you something, Trump continued. That I hate the charge. I find it repulsive.

The president never answered how the government planned to address the rise in anti-Semitism.

Trump also evaded answering a question about the recent rise in anti-Semitismat a press conference the previous day by talking about the size of his Electoral College victory.Trump was asked what he would say to “those among the Jewish community” who “believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.”

“Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had,” Trump responded. “306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that right?”

Eventually, Trump did say, “We are going to everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism.”

Trump then referenced his son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s Jewish heritage and promised, “you’re going to see a very different United States of America over the next three, four or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening and your’regoing to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. OK?”

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance condemned Trump’s refusal to answer questions about the increase in anti-Semitism.

“President Trump’s repeated avoidance of addressing the recent and substantial uptick in anti-Semitism in America can no longer be ignored,” Moline said in a statement. “Throughout his campaign, President Trump refused to acknowledge any role in fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. And now, two days in a row, when asked by reporters to address the issue, he has dodged it.

“Its not enough to just not be an anti-Semite” he continued. “Get past being offended and take action to protect the Jewish community. And while you are at it, the Muslim community and all other minority faiths in this great nation.”


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Trump slams reporter for ‘repulsive’ question about anti-Semitism – USA TODAY

How I Moved From Chicago to NashvilleAnd Found My Jewish Soul in a Red State – Forward

It was a Friday night in mid-August, and about a dozen Jews, most under 30, congregated around a coffee table in Nashville. Almost all had moved to the city in the past three years.

We opened up instrument cases and passed around egg shakers. Someone started strumming guitar.

Lecha dodi, lekrat kala

When I was in middle school, I went to Jewish summer camp for two years, and theres one part Im still nostalgic about: how on Friday nights, the entire camp would dress in our best clothes and gather to sing for Shabbat. I loved that, and I felt something at the time that is probably best described as spiritual.

More than a decade later, in the living room of this apartment, I felt that again. We sang, we harmonized, we jammed. Without a rabbi in sight, we had an electric Shabbat service right in the heart of the Bible Belt.

As a city, Nashville is having a moment. Its rapidly growing and, given the number of construction sites, sometimes feels like its bursting at the seams. Many newcomers are millennials: young professionals working for the citys vibrant health care industry, grad students enrolling at Vanderbilt, musicians hoping to make it big. And many are flocking from cities like Chicago or Houston cities with larger Jewish populations.

That means, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, the Jewish community has been changing to accommodate the growth of young newcomers.

Despite its 160-year-old community, Nashville is not known as a hub of Judaism. It has about 11,000 people. (For context, Boston is a slightly less populated city but has 22 times more Jews.)

But the smaller size of the community can pay benefits, says Brandeis University researcher Matthew Boxer who led an extensive study on Jewish life in Nashville in 2015. He found that nearly half of Jewish households are moderately or highly engaged, and about one in five are engaged in nearly every aspect of Jewish life.

Thats pretty fantastic, he said. You should really never compare any community to New York but New York would be thrilled if they had numbers like that.

Boxer, who grew up in the small Jewish community (one much smaller than Nashvilles) in Niagara Falls, NY, posits a theory about the high level of engagement among Jews here.

There were always the same 10 people who were showing up for services on a Saturday morning, he said. And it wasnt that they were particularly religious. It was if any one of them didnt show up, there wouldnt be a minyan.

Small communities spur a greater sense of personal responsibility, Boxer suggested. Those who are involved in Jewish life get really involved.

You tend to invest in it more, and that reinforces your sense of Jewish identity in a way that doesnt really happen in a bigger community, he said.

The tight-knit community also has its downsides. In the Brandeis study, Boxers team found that newcomers and less engaged individuals can find it difficult to integrate, make connections, and become involved in institutions.

But this isnt for lack of trying, the study suggests: Young adults, although less likely to be engaged than other members, express an overwhelming desire to become more involved in local Jewish life.

I felt this desire when I moved to Nashville three years ago.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, where Jews were a small minority. Still, the community was incredibly diverse: My friends were Catholic and Lutheran and Muslim and atheists.

There were enough Jews at school that Christian kids knew understood what a Bar Mitzvah was and wanted to be invited to one. Few people knew how to pronounce Yom Kippur, but the school district still closed for it every year. The times I did feel aware of my religion, I felt celebrated, not isolated.

That changed when I moved to Nashville a year after graduating college. Here, religious Christianity seemed ubiquitous. The number of churches in the city staggered me. Politicians from surrounding counties ran on platforms highlighting their faith. Even my relatively secular coworkers talked about church with a frequency unlike my Christian friends in other parts of the country.

I was used to feeling like a minority. But for the first time, I felt like an outsider.

So did Ellie Flier, a 26-year-old Los Angeles native who moved to Nashville four years ago to pursue a songwriting career.

People that I met had never met a Jew before, she said. They didnt understand why I didnt celebrate Christmas. There were churches everywhere.

Our shared observation is not coincidence: Tennessee is considered the third-most Christian state in the country, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center study. (Nashville is more diverse than the state overall, but Im convinced the church thing is real.)

So as a reaction, Flier started seeking out fellow Jews, going to events through NowGen, the Jewish Federations young adult arm.

I would never go to anything like that in Los Angeles because there were so many Jews, she said. But because there werent [in Nashville], I became more involved.

She now serves as co-chair of NowGen, a fill-in cantor at a synagogue, a member of the synagogues young adult group and part of a Jewish Federation advisory committee. She is, in the Brandeis studys words, highly engaged.

I, too, found myself seeking out Jews soon after I moved to Nashville. Like Flier, I met most of my first friends through NowGen. (Full disclosure: Im currently on the board.) I kept an eye out for Jewish names and faces even in my secular life. By the end of my first year here, I had more Jewish friends than Id made in any other city.

But this is not typical, found the Brandeis study. About a third of young adults report they have no Jewish friends, even though more than half have participated in a Jewish program in the past six months.

Geography contributes to this separation. The citys Jewish institutions JCC, synagogues, Chabad, Hillel, even most of NowGens events are clustered on the west side of town. For years, thats where Jews clustered too.

Once upon a time, if you were Jewish, you would live in the three ZIP codes that surround the JCC, explained Rabbi Laurie Rice at Temple Micah, one of the citys two Reform synagogues. Now they live all over.

Last year, I heard about an exclusive Jewish group in East Nashville, a rapidly gentrifying part of the city where many young adults are moving. The group sounded almost like a secret society. To join, I was told, I would have to go to a bakery that the organizers owned and ask about their next event.

I stopped by the bakery one morning before Rosh Hashanah and saw a sign advising customers the store would be closed the following Monday. Its nice to see a Nashville business closed for the holidays, I told the owner as I ordered an egg biscuit sandwich. She picked up on my signal. Youre Jewish? she said. You should join us for break-the-fast.

Her name is Ellen Einstein, and she moved to East Nashville in 1993, back when it wasnt remotely Jewish. There were literally three or four of us, she recalled. That was it.

After Einstein and her husband opened a bakery (one of the few places at the time that sold challah on Fridays), they discovered more Jews were moving in. She decided to gather them.

Starting about five years, if someone looked Jewish or had a Jewish name on their credit card, I would ask them if they were interested in joining our little community, and most of them would say yes, Einstein said.

The group started with 15 or 20 people but now boasts 125 members, including many millenials (Einstein is 56 she cites Jewish moms instincts). Among the group is Emma Burkey, who moved to Nashville about nine years ago. She tried out a few synagogues, but nothing felt right, and for years she knew almost no one Jewish. Then she discovered the Einsteins group.

Its definitely not going to be your most religious crowd, but I think thats what nice about it. Its just literally an outlet for people to have a community, Burkey said.

And, she said, its convenient she doesnt have to go across town, and she lives in the same neighborhood as the people she meets.

The rest of the Jewish community is starting to realize East Nashvilles potential. Rabbis from Reform and Orthodox synagogues on the west side of town are trying to start a more formal group on the east side.

But sometimes, its nice to have options outside institutions, said Ellie Flier, the aspiring songwriter and part-time cantor. Despite being involved in almost every Jewish institution available in Nashville, she and a couple of friends decided last year to start putting on a monthly musical Shabbat service the one I went to last August. They wanted it to be casual, at peoples houses.

In synagogues, youre kind of removed from everything. Theres a bimah (the platform where clergy read Torah), theres a cantor, she said. Here, were all doing this together, creating the experience together.

Its one of the most meaningful Jewish experiences Ive had, I told her.

She laughed. Yeah, same.

I asked the Jewish Federations executive director, Mark Freedman, if he had any qualms about the independent pop-up institutions.

Look, its unrealistic to think, the world is these days and the way our society is, that you can have your hand in every pie, he said.

The Federation has been trying to engage more segments of Jewish life in Nashville. It recently started a new initiatives fund to enable institutions to experiment with programming. In addition to providing seed money for the new East Nashville group, it also funded a trip to Israel for interfaith couples.

Our goal is to be able to help support Jewish life in Nashville in all its forms, he said. If theres a role that we can play, were happy to play it. If theres a group out there that says, You know what? Were not big membership, institutional-type people. Leave us alone, thats fine too.

Freedman feels a sacred obligation to help Nashville newcomers find the best possible Jewish experience even if one the Federation has nothing to do with. Give them the choices, give them the alternatives, and hopefully draw them in with something that strikes a chord in their Jewish soul.

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How I Moved From Chicago to NashvilleAnd Found My Jewish Soul in a Red State – Forward

A Karaite prayer: Little-known Jewish community builds center to tell its story – Jweekly.com

Show up on a Shabbat morning at Congregation Bnai Israel in Daly City, and if youre a typical American Jew you will see plenty thats familiar. At the front of the sanctuary is an ark, and inside the ark are several Torah scrolls. There is a memorial wall at the back, listing the names of the communitys lost loved ones. Near the entrance is a rack of tallits.

But before you come in, you must remove your shoes, as Moses did when he approached the Burning Bush. Examine the rack of tallits, and you will find that the fringes are knotted and wrapped in an unusual way. In front of the pews, there is an open space covered in rugs. Some worshippers sit or kneel on the floor; when they bow, they touch their heads to the ground. The prayers follow a different structure, and the sound is very Middle Eastern.

Bnai Israel is the only Karaite synagogue in North America, serving the diasporas largest Karaite community about 800 members live within driving distance of the synagogue.

Karaite Jews differ from Rabbanite Jews (as Karaites call the majority of Jews who follow rabbinic tradition) in that they reject oral law the Talmud and rabbinic authority relying instead on the literal text of the Bible. The two communities coexisted until the 10th century, when foundational Jewish (Rabbanite) leader and thinker Saadia Gaon denounced Karaites as apostates and sought to exclude them from the Jewish community. Relationships between these two Jewish communities have varied across time and place, but that initial antagonism has long colored the relationship.

In the Bay Area, where few Rabbanite Jews are aware of Karaite Judaism, that relationship is cordial, though not always close on an institutional level. But on a personal level, many Karaite Jews are involved with the wider Bay Area Jewish community. Many have had bar and bat mitzvahs in Rabbanite synagogues.

In the Karaite view of kashrut, one may mix meat and dairy products that come from different animals, and each community and individual has autonomy to decide how strict or lax to be. On the other hand, Karaites do not accept rabbinic loopholes that ease the restrictions of Shabbat. Karaite Jews have embraced some Rabbanite traditions, such as bnai mitzvah, while rejecting others, such as celebrating Hanukkah.

The Torah directs Jews to include in tzitzit a strand of techelet, which rabbinic sources have interpreted as a reference to a specific deep blue dye. Karaites take techelet to mean any kind of lighter, sky-blue dye, which gives their tallits a distinctive look and informed the name of A Blue Thread, a long-running blog on Karaite Judaism.

In the Bnai Israel sanctuary, most women sit off to one side, though there is no mechitza to separate them formally from the men. As each Karaite community is empowered to set its own standards, American mores rubbed off on this community, and some women now prefer to sit in the main area.

Today there are an estimated 30,000 Karaite Jews in Israel, 1,500 in the United States, and small communities in places like France, England, Turkey and Russia. But until the mid-20th century, many lived in Arab lands. For centuries, one of the most prominent Karaite communities in the world was in Cairo, where the first Bay Area Karaites came from. Cairo once had a Karaite quarter of about 5,000 people adjacent to the mainstream Jewish quarter. Relations between Karaite and Rabbanite Jews in Cairo were close; the Cairo Genizah, a vast store of Jewish writings discovered in a Rabbanite synagogue in Cairo in the 19th century, included a number of Karaite documents.

In what Karaites sometimes call the second exodus, they left Egypt en masse during the last century, beginning when Israel became a state in 1948. More left after the 1956 Sinai War. During the 1967 Six-Day War, all Jewish men in Egypt were put in camps, where they were held for over two years; they were the last to leave. Over the years mostly because of relatives already in the Bay Area many of the Egyptian Karaite Jews wound up here.

In 1994, the Bay Area Karaite community bought the Daly City building from an existing Congregation Bnai Israel that was closing. The Karaite congregation adopted the name Bnai Israel because it was already painted on the side of the building.

It is a small, closely knit community, drawn together by members Egyptian origins as well as their Karaite practice. Like many other small Jewish communities, they are concerned about the future. Who will induct their children and other Jews interested in Karaism into Karaite traditions?

To ensure that future, the congregation has embarked on a relatively small construction project that will have a large and visible impact on their community: They are renovating their existing 3,500-square-foot prefab building and creating a 1,000-square-foot Karaite Jewish Cultural Center, attached to the synagogue, which will serve as a combination education program, museum and social center.

There is a Karaite Heritage Center in Israel, but this will be the only similar institution in the diaspora.

For a community this small, a lot is riding on the project. If this current generation of Karaite Jews in the United States fails, itll be very difficult to kick-start the movement in any organized fashion, said Shawn Lichaa, a pillar of the local Karaite community.

The cultural center would have been no more than a dream were it not for the fortuitous union of David Ovadia and Maryellen Himell-Ovadia. The couple met when both were 60 a stroke of luck for them, and for the Karaite community.

David is a Karaite Jew by heritage and a structural engineer by training; having done engineering work on nuclear power plants in the past, he is somewhat overqualified for this project, whose design he has spearheaded. Maryellen is a former member of San Franciscos Congregation Emanu-El and a master fundraiser. Her career culminated in a top development position at U.C. Berkeley, making the relatively measly $1.2 million needed for the Karaite cultural center a cinch for her to raise.

For two people who are as ballsy as we both are to connect at the age of 60 and figure out how to build a new life together, bringing the strength that you have but tempered with a willingness to compromise and to learn from each other, that is a miracle when you can pull that off, Maryellen said. I dont think it happens every day.

David came to the Bay Area from Egypt at age 13 in 1963. During that time a lot of my other uncles and everybody else was feeling the pressure and everything that was going on in Egypt, he said.

He is a quiet, reserved man, but his passion about the renovation and the new cultural center shines through. He delights in talking about minute plumbing details, zoning hoops hes had to jump through and other nuts and bolts of the project.

While others in his community have feared for its future, Davids faith never wavered. I never doubted that this is going to continue, he said. This is making sure that there is going to be a tradition kept alive. We will live for a thousand years and more.

Maryellen sees herself as part of a bridge between the Karaite and mainstream Jewish communities of the Bay Area a bridge that she hopes will grow.

This is not just about improving or facilitating things within the Karaite community, but to build bridges to the larger world and to make this a welcoming place for others who want to come and learn about this unique culture within the branches of the Jewish family tree, she said.

With groundbreaking set for the end of this month, the Bnai Israel community has already raised $1.1 million of its $1.2 million goal. The cultural center campaign is an approved grantee of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federations donor-advised funds, though that only accounts for a small percentage of the money raised so far. In about six weeks, the congregation will move out of its building and be hosted by other congregations until the High Holy Days, when they expect to be back home again.

While David and Maryellen get the money and the facility in order, Lichaa is thinking about what will go on inside the new cultural center.

There is no greater exponent of Karaite Judaism in America today. His long-running blog, A Blue Thread: A Jewish Blog with a Thread of Karaite Throughout, is a deep dive into the history, ideas and practices of Karaite Judaism.

Lichaa, 37, is also the creator of the Karaite Press. Launched in February 2016 with the publication of a 12th-century Karaite commentary on the Book of Esther, the goal of the Karaite Press is to make great historical Karaite writings many of them written in Arabic and until now locked up in manuscript form available to the global Karaite community and the public at large.

Born in San Francisco to Karaite parents from Cairo, he grew up in Foster City, where he attended Hebrew school at Peninsula Sinai Congregation.

Its not unusual for Karaite Jews in America to send their kids to Rabbanite synagogues for a Jewish education and bar/bat mitzvah, while supplementing that with home instruction in Karaite traditions.

In Cairo, members of the Karaite community lived close together, but, said Lichaa, When we came to the U.S. we didnt have proximity, a central place where a critical mass lived where we could do education with our own teachers. The easiest thing to do was join local synagogues. In fact, that is the only option for Karaites in the rest of the United States.

Today, the Daly City congregation offers some education programs, but none specifically for kids. We do train them in prayers, one-on-one. I do some of that, Lichaa said. A recent bar mitzvah at Bnai Israel was major affair, drawing a crowd of 150 to the small sanctuary.

The new center will offer a range of programs, everything from cooking classes, history classes, to arts, he said. I see a Tuesday night open house where were open to the community. People can drop by, there will be food and beverages. And maybe Thursday nights well have a specific learning opportunity. He is working to make sure all of the classes will be live-streamed, making the learning available to a wide audience.

The center also will include a rotating exhibit of Karaite Torah scrolls, art, manuscripts and the like.

Lichaa views himself as Jewish first and Karaite second. I made an active decision that my preferred form of Judaism is Karaite Judaism, he said. If youre an Orthodox Jew, I understand why you follow the rabbinic tradition. But for everyone else, I wonder why Karaite Judaism cant be one of the menu options.

Some Jews born into mainstream Judaism do choose Karaite practice. No conversion is necessary in such cases; it is somewhat analogous to a Jew from an Orthodox family choosing to associate with a Reform synagogue, simply choosing a different stream of Judaism.

Lichaa and his wife, who comes from a mainstream Jewish family, made the decision to raise their son Reuven, 2, primarily in Karaite Judaism. But it is not to the exclusion of involvement in Rabbanite Jewish communities, Lichaa said. For example, this past erev Shabbat we were at the Mission Minyan, and we are frequent participants at Chabad of Noe Valley.

The new center will make it easier for young Jews from Karaite families to make the same choice. For [Reuven] and others like him there are many young kids in our community that they have a place they can learn about their heritage if they, too, make the active decision to choose Karaite Judaism, this center will be there to support them in that, Lichaa said.

David, Maryellen, Lichaa and other members of the local Karaite community are looking forward to the completion of the center with great anticipation. They have given their money, time and moral support to the project. And every bit of that is being put to use.

We have to maximize every square inch of space, every dollar, Maryellen said.

Indeed, the property is small, and half of it is taken up by a parking lot; the cultural center extension will bring the facility right up to the sidewalk.

Sitting at Bnai Israel, talking with the regulars, there is a sense of vibrancy and excitement. The mood is that of people awaiting the impending arrival of something truly awe-inspiring. And who can blame them? They are embarking on an exciting new venture that will have a lasting impact on the future of their community and its heritage.

Im hopeful now that therell be a future for Karaite Judaism in the United States, Lichaa said.

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A Karaite prayer: Little-known Jewish community builds center to tell its story – Jweekly.com

A Daughter’s Unique 25th Anniversary Surprise: A New Torah – Chabad.org

Two summers ago, Chaya Levertov came up with an idea: to celebrate an upcoming milestone in her family and communitys lives with a new Torah for Chabad of Scottsdale, Ariz.

That high point has been reached; 2017 marks 25 years since her parents, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Yossi and Dina Levertov, started the Chabad House in this desert city east of Phoenix, the state capital. Its also her fathers 50th birthday. So she got her siblings (shes the eldest of seven) on board, and started working away at the project to honor her parents and bring residents together.

Chaya, 22, quietly phoned members of the local Jewish community to get them involved. The response was incredible, she said. The people I called were really, really enthusiastic.

They found a scribe and revealed the surprise last March via a video presentation at Chabads Purim party.

This past Sunday, Feb. 12, the community helped write the final letters of the Torah during a celebration that brought locals and visitors out in droves. Everyone felt a part of this, said Chaya Levertov.

Rabbi Levertov walks with the new Torah. (Photo: Nicole Moss)

Attendees recalled the process of watching Chabad and the Levertov family blossom over time. It was on Kol Nidre almost 20 years ago when international business consultant Kenneth Feldman was looking for a place to go at the last minute. Services were being held in a local high school gym. I stumbled in and was adopted, basically, he related. Theyve always been very welcoming, offering a place for Friday-night dinners and a good spiritual or religious conversation whenever a question comes up.

Hes seen the congregational home expand from a single shop in a strip mall to several storefronts that house a bookstore, gift shop and kosher restaurant, in addition to space for services and communal gatherings. Speaker programs were added on Shabbat and holidays, and Feldman noted that it has become a hub for Jewish practice, learning and socialization. Ive really developed a core group of friends there, who have also been attracted to what Chabad offers and their outreach programs.

Nate Sachs watches as the mantel is being put on prior to the Torah procession. (Photo: Nicole Moss)

Feldman said he was impressed when Chaya Levertov first called, describing secret plans for the Torah dedication. And he was glad to be part of that Purim video, and to join in this past Sunday as the Torah was completed.

Regulars and new faces took part in the event at the nearby J. Levine Auction House. It wasnt just the traditional Chabad crowd that you see on the Sabbath, said Feldman, originally from Florida, but also people who hadnt been as affiliated, and who wanted to show their support and participate in this important mitzvah.

After the ink dried, the crowd marched the Torah down Scottsdale Road to the Chabad center, its new home.

Kenneth Feldman holds the Torah as part of the chuppah procession to its new home.

Rabbi Yossi Levertov said it was emotional seeing how local residents and his children worked as one, as he reflected on what theyve built in two-plus decades. Between having the longest-running minyan in town, lectures and programs, a restaurant and market, Hebrew school, gift shop and more, theyve been fortunate in their outreach, he said. And now they can serve even more with a brand-new Torah that so many had a hand in creating.

We pray to Gd that people will see the blessings of Sundays event in a tangible way, he said, and that we as a Chabad will see continued growth in the next 25 years, much greater even than in the last 25 years.

Dina Levertov acknowledged that the community has come a long way since she and her husband arrived six months after marrying: Watching it grow from the days when we first startedhaving to stand outside to find another Jew for a minyanis pretty amazing.

Benny Avrahami takes a turn holding the Torah as the crowd marches down Scottdale Road. To his right is Eli Sulyemanov. (Photo: M. Melnick)

Rabbi Levertov puts on tefillin with a participant. (Photo: Nicole Moss)

Community members of all ages join in the Sunday celebration. (Photo: Nicole Moss)

Dancing with the crowd (Photo: Nicole Moss)

Sam (Simcha Yosef) Greenberg, grandfather of Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman, co-director of Chabad of Oro Valley, Ariz. A Torah in Greenbergs honor is being used at the Arizona center.

Chabad of Oro Valley receives a new Torah just in time for its first Rosh Hashanah in 2012.

Purim in 2015 held at an assisted-living facility. Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman is joined by his father, Rabbi Yale Zimmerman, who read the Megillah.

How Rabbi Ephraim and Mushkie Zimmerman enrich the lives of seniors in the Grand Canyon State.

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A Daughter’s Unique 25th Anniversary Surprise: A New Torah – Chabad.org