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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

What exactly is the Talmud?

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

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

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

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

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

But when youre done, youre not really done.

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

Jewish theology always says lets talk we have time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was just another night in James double life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please dont be shy, say hi, it beckons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her reaction shocked him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the strangers did develop chemistry in bed.

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

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

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

They even encourage love affairs with others.

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

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

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

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

We dont want to take any chances, Monica said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palestine UN-Habitat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Partners

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

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Palestine UN-Habitat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The professor was accepted. No problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

He told Vox:

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

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

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

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

But the most disturbing thing he has to say?

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

So what happens next is going to depend on us.

More: Republicans are now openly calling Donald Trump a fascist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt has said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

According tothe statement fromGreenblatt,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torah Day School offers first Purim Carnival – The Seattle Times

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

Originally posted here:
Torah Day School offers first Purim Carnival – The Seattle Times

Holocaust | Holocaust denial or Holocaust revisionism?

The term “denier” is objected to by the people to whom it is applied, who claim to be “revisionist”. The latter term is deliberately misleading. While historical revisionism is the re-examination of accepted history, with an eye towards updating it with newly discovered, more accurate, and less-biased information, “deniers” have been criticised for seeking evidence to support a preconceived theory, omitting substantial facts.

Historical revisionism is the approach that history as it has been traditionally told, may not be entirely accurate and should hence be revised accordingly. Historical revisionism in this sense is a well-accepted and mainstream part of history studies.

Holocaust “deniers” maintain that they apply proper revisionist principles to Holocaust history, and therefore the term Holocaust revisionism is appropriate for their point of view. Their critics, however, disagree and prefer the term Holocaust denial. As the historian Gordon McFee wrote in his essay Why Revisionism isn’t:

“Revisionists” depart from the conclusion that the Holocaust did not occur and work backwards through the facts to adapt them to that preordained conclusion. Put another way, they reverse the proper methodology [...], thus turning the proper historical method of investigation and analysis on its head.”

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Holocaust | Holocaust denial or Holocaust revisionism?

The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

Im not insensitive to anti-Semitism. Despite growing up in Jew-friendly New York City, I experienced my share of it kids throwing rocks at my Jewish Day School bus, anti-Semitic graffiti on our homes fence, among other incidents. And as Volokh Conspiracy readers know, Ive blogged quite a bit about anti-Semitism. Ive mostly written about anti-Semitism coming from the far left, but Im not at all naive about the existence and virulence of anti-Semitism on the far right.

Nevertheless, Ive been rather taken aback by the panic in the Jewish community over American anti-Semitism since Donald Trump won the election. The recent spate of hoax bombing threats to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions around the country has been a precipitating factor, but the fear is drastically out of proportion to the threat; no bombs have been found, and there are no indications that there is any real physical threat to Jews. By contrast, in the past decade or so there have been actual murdersat a JCC and a Jewish federation officewithout precipitating such panic.

It seems that much of the panic is in fact due to Trump, with the JCC threats seen as a potential first sign of the deteriorating status of American Jews. WhileJews are the most-liked religious group in the United Sates, some degree of trepidation is not unreasonable. AsAndrew Silow-Carroll points out,

Most Jews didnt vote for him, and regarded his campaign antics as particularly unsettling, from his appeal among white supremacists and ethno-nationalists to his willingness to exploit the countrys racial and ethnic divides.

In his embrace of a fiercely chauvinistic economic nationalism, White House strategist SteveBannon represents something unprecedented and inconceivable in the minds of many Jews. Until Trump, resurgent nationalism seemed a problem for Europe, where economic malaise, fear of immigrants and the ghosts of the 20thcentury have combined intoa particularly toxic brew on the right.

Yet, just looking at my Facebook feed, the origins of the fear bear only a tangential relationship to the actual Trump campaign. For example, Ive lost track of how many times Jewish friends and acquaintances in my Facebook feed have asserted, as a matter of settled fact, that Bannons website BreitbartNews is a white-supremacist, anti-Semitic site. I took the liberty of searching for every article published at Breitbart that has the words Jew, Jewish, Israel or anti-Semitism in it, and can vouch for the fact that the website is not only not anti-Semitic, but often criticizes anti-Semitism (though it is quite ideologically selective in which types of anti-Semitism it chooses to focus on). Ive invited Bannons Facebook critics to actually look at Breitbart and do a similar search on the site, and each has declined, generally suggesting that it would be beneath them to look at such a site, when they alreadyknow its anti-Semitic.

There is also a general sense among Jews, at least liberal Jews, that Trumps supporters are significantly more anti-Semitic than the public at large. I have many times asked for empirical evidence that supports this proposition, and have so far come up empty. I dont rule out the possibility that its true, but there doesnt seem to be any survey or other evidence supporting it. Given that American subgroups with the highest proportions of anti-Semites African Americans, first-generation Hispanic immigrants, Muslims and high school dropouts are strong Democratic constituencies (though the latter group appears to have gone narrowly for Trump this time), one certainly cant simply presume that Trump has a disproportionate number of anti-Semitic supporters.

Often living in a blue bubble, liberal Jews easily can panic when they dont know anyone who voted for the other sides candidate(s), and can assume the worst about the other sides supporters. Indeed, liberal Jews tend to panic whenever the right is doing well in American politics. Consider this Wall Street Journal headline from exactly 22years ago: Religious Fervor: Some Liberal Jews, To Their Own Surprise, See a Rise in Bigotry And, Unlike Many Orthodox, Theyre Concerned About The Rights New Power. The article elaborates:

These are anxious times for American Jews. Still reeling from the results of the November election, many liberal Jews are alarmed by the rise of the religious right. They are increasingly uncomfortable with verbal attacks by conservative commentators on the cultural elite and on Hollywood, both of which they believe are code words for Jews. And they are shaken by well-publicized reports of neo-Nazi groups and of anti-Semitic violence by teenage skinheads. Suddenly, secular Jews for whom anti-Semitism was always something remote are feeling a new vulnerability and wondering whether the political and religious tide is turning against them.

Remember the great anti-Semitic pogroms of 1995? Neither do I. To take another example, Im not sure what, if anything, Philip Roth was trying to say with his 2004 book The Plot Against America, but I know liberal Jewish reviewers welcomed it as a warning of the ever-present threat of anti-Semitic right-wing fascism looming over the United States in Republican-dominated America.

Meanwhile, Jewish defense groups, most prominently the Anti-Defamation League, have stoked the panic with wildly exaggerated rhetoric. Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Democratic politico who now runs the ADL, stated in November that the American Jewish community has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s.Among other omissions, Greenblatt must have slept through the George W. Bush administration, when mainstream experts, mostly on the left, were claiming that the small number of Jews in the Bush administration had somehow manipulated the Gentiles running the administration into leading the United States into a war against Iraq to benefit Israel. Unlike the current anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from the neo-Nazi fringes, these allegations were coming from places such as theHarvard University and the University of Chicago faculties.

The ADL, though, has a strong self-interest in such exaggerated complaints. When Greenblatt took over the ADL from the long-serving Abraham Foxman, he announced that the younger generation among ADLs primary constituency, liberal, secular Jews, was no longer terribly interested in the issue of anti-Semitism, and instead wanted the ADL to focus on oppression more generally. The enthusiasmand fund-raising dollars were in supporting Black Lives Matter and transgender rights, not worrying about anti-Semitism on college campuses. One strongly suspects that this is because the threat of anti-Semitism was seen primarily as coming from the anti-Israel left. Trump created a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for the ADL to focus on what is naturally its core issue, anti-Semitism (and also to ensure that the more conservative Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose director was invited to give the invocation at Trumps inauguration, doesnt steal its thunder), by focusing on the threat from the right. The ADLs reticent donors are no longer reticent in the age of Trump, with the media reporting that donations have been pouring in since Trumps victory. Its therefore hardly in the ADLs interest to objectively assess the threat from Trump and his supporters. Indeed, Im almost impressed that an ADL official managed just the other day to link the JCC bomb threats to emboldened white supremacists, even though the only suspect caught so far is an African American leftist. Meanwhile,Foxman has been a cooler head who has been telling people, cool it, cool it.

Another group that has had a strong incentive to exaggerate the present threat of right-wing anti-Semitism isJewish progressive activists. For the past decade or so, leftist Jews have increasingly found themselves excluded from progressive coalitions that not only take very harsh anti-Israel lines, but also have refused to take seriously anti-Semitism in their midst, suggesting that allegations of such anti-Semitism are mere covers for the privilege of white Zionists. So long as the problem of American anti-Semitism was largely associated with anti-Zionism and far-left politics more generally, Jews were not permitted to be part of a coalition of the marginalized.

Lo and behold, along comes Trump, and left-wing Jewish activists are portraying Jews as one of the many groups threatened by him. Trump, and, more specifically, exaggerating the threat of anti-Semitism from Trump and his supporters, gives these Jews an opportunity to, for example, stand side by side with Muslim activists in opposing various isms and phobias, rather than quarreling with them over Israel.

The irony of all this is that if you talk privately to those who work in the Jewish organization world, many will confide that the greatest threat to the security of the American Jewish community is changing demographics, which is a euphemism for a growing population of Arab migrants to the United States. Anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the public holding strongly anti-Semitic views in many countries. The issue of whether and to what extent the United States should expand refugee admissions is a complex one, and a potential rise in (potentially violent) anti-Semitism, at least in the short term until refugees and their families assimilate, is hardly the only factor to be considered. But its surely a paradox that the groups and individuals who express the most public fear of potential anti-Semitism emanating from the Trump administration express little if any concern about the potential problems of admitting an untold number of refugees and immigrants from countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane.

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The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall


Posted: Mar 13, 2017 12:01 AM

THIS WEEKEND, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day.” But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasuerus’s queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults!) wear costumes and at every mention of Haman’s name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

It’s easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pew’s second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. “We love our country, and America loves us right back,” wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trump’s strong appeal to white nationalists, the anti-Semitic memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel “apartheid” slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isn’t surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But history’s oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their “race.”

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

“We love our country, and America loves us right back.” That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since shattered. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is No. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isn’t only Jews who will suffer.

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In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall

Israel at the World Baseball Classic: From Curiosity to Contender – New York Times

New York Times
Israel at the World Baseball Classic: From Curiosity to Contender
New York Times
TOKYO When Peter Kurz, the president of the Israel Association of Baseball, left home two weeks ago to accompany Team Israel on its first trip to the World Baseball Classic, he packed two passports, a decision that was both practical and whimsical.
Israel rallies past Cuba to improve to 4-0 at WBCESPN
World Baseball Classic scores, results: USA melts down, Israel keeps
Israel upsets Cuba to continue improbable run in World Baseball ClassicJewish Telegraphic Agency
Haaretz -USA TODAY -Minor League Ball (blog)
all 88 news articles »

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Israel at the World Baseball Classic: From Curiosity to Contender – New York Times

Purim Parades Across Israel, Revelers Rejoice in London and Brooklyn –

1. People dressed in costumes take part in a parade marking the Jewish holiday of Purim, a celebration of the Jews’ salvation from genocide in ancient Persia, as recounted in the Book of Esther, in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 12, 2017. Purim is celebrated around the world with parades and costume parties, and revelers also participate in sending food parcels, giving charity, and feasting. Baz Ratner / Reuters

2. An Israeli soldier secures a parade marking the Jewish holiday of Purim. Baz Ratner / Reuters

3. A boy dressed in costume takes part in a parade in the West Bank city of Hebron. Baz Ratner / Reuters

4. Israelis take part in a Purim parade. Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images

5. An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child wears a U.S. President Donald Trump mask and costume during the Purim festival in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, Israel. Ariel Schalit / AP

6. Israeli settlers take part in a parade to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim on al-Shuhada Street, in the West Bank town of Hebron. Hazem Bader / AFP – Getty Images

7. A Palestinian family watches from their house as Jews pass by, guarded by Israeli soldiers, during the annual Purim parade in the West Bank city of Hebron. Jim Hollander / EPA

8. A Palestinian mother holds her son and they watch from their house as Jews pass by during the annual Purim parade in the predominantly Jewish sector of the West Bank city of Hebron. Jim Hollander / EPA

9. A girl dressed in costume walks next to an Orthodox Jewish man in Ashdod, Israel March 12, 2017. Amir Cohen / Reuters

10. An Ultra Orthodox Jewish child dressed as a clown stands among men reading from the Book of Esther during a prayer for the Jewish Holiday of Purim in the Mea Shaarim neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel. Abir Sultan / EPA

11. A young Jewish boy dressed in an army costumes stops before a separation wall blocking a street during the annual Purim parade in Hebron. Jim Hollander / EPA

12. A young Jewish girl looks from a window during celebrations of Purim in London. Purim is celebrated by Jewish communities around the world with parades and costume parties. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

13. Jewish women watch as men dance down the street during Purim in London. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

14. Young Jewish men dance down the street during the annual Jewish holiday of Purim in London. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

15. Young girls stand outside a home during Purim celebrations in London, England. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

16. Young Jewish men dance around a local business man’s home during the Jewish holiday of Purim in London. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

17. A boy in costume as a mummy for the Jewish celebration of Purim leads his pet goat out of a Brooklyn bakery in New York. Mark Lennihan / AP

18. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in the reading from the Book of Esther ceremony in a synagogue in Ashdod, Israel. Amir Cohen / Reuters

19. People dressed in costumes take part in a Purim parade in Hebron. Baz Ratner / Reuters

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Purim Parades Across Israel, Revelers Rejoice in London and Brooklyn –

Israel bars entry to British activist because of boycott support – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

(JTA) Israel denied entry to a British pro-Palestinian activist a week after the Knesset passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the Jewish state.

Hugh Lanning, a former chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, according to joint statements issued by two government agencies cited by the Times of Israel.

The statements, from the Interior Ministrys Population and Immigration Authority and the Ministry of Public Security, cited Lannings groups connections to other British groups critical of Israel and the presence of some of its members on ships that aimed to break Israels blockade of Gaza in 2010. The statement said Lanning had personally met with top Hamas officialIsmail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2012.

Those who act against Israel must understand that the reality has changed, said Gilad Erdan, the head of the Ministry of Public Security. No sane country would grant entry to central, pro-BDS figures who want to harm it and isolate it.

The law, adopted Monday by the Knesset, bans entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting the Jewish state or its settlements. It has drawn mounting criticism from major American Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the Reform and Reconstructionist movements.

On Friday, the Zionist Organization of America endorsed the law.

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Israel bars entry to British activist because of boycott support – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Israel Wins Again in the WBC, Beating Cuba to Stay Undefeated – New York Times

New York Times
Israel Wins Again in the WBC, Beating Cuba to Stay Undefeated
New York Times
Jason Marquis, Israel's starting pitcher, threw five and two-third innings, gave up four hits and struck out four batters in a win over Cuba Sunday in the World Baseball Classic. Credit Matt Roberts/Getty Images. TOKYO Israel had not played from

and more »

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Israel Wins Again in the WBC, Beating Cuba to Stay Undefeated – New York Times