Purim Parody: 10 killed in world-record hummus catastrophe – Jerusalem Post Israel News

MCGUNNES WORLD Record auditor Fergus Angus looks on in horror as the hummus tragedy unfolds. . (photo credit:Courtesy)

Tragedy struck yesterday during an attempt to make the worlds largest bowl of hummus.

Seeking to exceed Lebanons 2010 record of 10,432.625 kilos of chickpea mixture, Israeli entrepreneur Moshe Cohen-Levy has been churning up the famous pasty Israeli dish for the last two weeks at a soccer pitch near Holon.

Everything was going well. We had 30+ workers churning up the chickpeas day and night and then ladling them into a giant bowl.

Things began to go wrong, however, when they started to add the massive falafel balls.

Unfortunately, there were no standardized vehicles or drivers trained to transport 22.679-kilo falafel balls.

The balls were not well secured, recalls survivor Anat Mizrahi-Ashkenazi. At around 2 p.m. yesterday the workers began to feel a tremor as the giant falafel balls cascaded into one another on a truck.

We didnt have any warning. Apparently no one knew you are supposed secure giant balls when transporting them.

The balls rolled off the Toyota Hilux truck, striking 10 men who were standing around the giant bowl of hummus, unaware of the danger.

One minute I was stirring with a huge spoon and then we were all flying into the hummus, recalls Mizrahi-Ashkenazi.

The largest men sank into the quicksand-like edible mulch.

Cohen-Levy, who rushed to scene when he heard shouting, found a horror-movie scenario in front of him. Men and women volunteers were slowly being sucked into the chickpea mixture.

I tried to save them by throwing them a giant pita that we had on hand. But I couldnt hold it; it weighed almost 90.718 kilos.

Unfortunately, it now seems that Moshes attempt to help actually led to even greater misfortune as the giant pita submerged several of the people and they were crushed under its weight.

Luckily I was able to hold on to one of the falafel balls and miraculously survived, recalls Anat, who is recovering at Meilinson Hospital.

The McGunnes World Record auditor who was on hand to certify whether the giant bowl of hummus was the largest ever determined that although it was not the largest bowl of hummus ever (falling short of the record by 207 grams) it will hold a different record as being the largest number of people killed in a hummus-related accident.

The last time we encountered a disaster of this nature was in southern Jordan in 1964 when several men slipped on hummus and fell into a vat of tehina.

Lebanon disputes the fact that Israel now holds a world record in anything hummus-related. Mahmud Abubakr, the hummus minister, says, We will surely find such a large accident in our history as well.

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Purim Parody: 10 killed in world-record hummus catastrophe – Jerusalem Post Israel News

For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they havent seem in decades.

Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.

Trumps rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen.

There a uniqueness to this moment, said Chasen, senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. People who are at risk particularly immigrants that is a clarion call to Jews. Our concerns about the treatment of immigrants are not partisan or political, theyre Jewish. The single most frequently repeated command in the Torah is to care for the stranger, because Jews know what its like to be the stranger.

Not since the 1960s, when Jewish leaders embraced the civil rights movement and denounced the Vietnam War, has there been such a galvanizing issue as this one, Chasen said.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice has garnered the support of more than 2,000 Jewish people including prominent rabbis and elected leaders such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer who signed the groups organizing statement.

Jewish groups across the country have interpreted Trumps travel bans targeting migrants from Muslim-majority countries as a call to action. For many people, the policies have evoked painful memories of the countries that turned Jews away when they tried to flee Nazi persecution.

Some in the Jewish community fear Americas reputation as a welcoming place for refugees is being irreparably damaged as Trump has ordered a temporary ban on refugees from around the world.

The Iran-Iraq War forced Sam Yebris family to flee Iran and into exile in the United States when he was a child in the early 1980s.

Yebri, now a lawyer and president of 30 Years After, an Iranian Jewish nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, said he understands that Americans are concerned over the Syrian refugee crisis. people seeking asylum in the U.S. should be vetted, but that doesnt warrant Trumps hard-line policies, he said.

It betrays our history and values as a country to shut our doors when there are innocent people who are being persecuted, Yebri said. I hope the administration will strive to find the right middle ground as opposed to closing our doors and closing our hearts to folks like my family just a generation ago.

The Jewish coalition gathered signatures recently from more than 110 clergy members, L.A. Countys entire Jewish state legislative delegation, seven current and former members of Congress, and 60 current and former elected and appointed officials, according to the coalition.

The group is focused on three guiding principles: The U.S. is a nation of laws, a nation of immigrants and aspires to equality, respect and justice for all people.

Zev Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor and a member of the groups organizing committee, said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the coalition. He said the group will stand by refugees fleeing oppression as well as immigrants in the United States who tonight as they go to sleep fear a knock on the door.

This is something the Jewish community wants to speak out on, Yaroslavsky said. It speaks to a thirst in our community to stand up and not be silent. We know what the costs are of remaining silent.

The vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and recent bomb threats to Jewish centers in L.A. and other cities have heightened anxieties in the faith community, said David Myers, professor of Jewish history and former chairman of the UCLA history department.

He said he fears the election of Trump has ushered in a wave of xenophobic populism not seen in decades.

Weve had that ilk before as candidates and prominent politicians, but not as president, said Myers, a member of the coalitions organizing committee. Its not just thats his rhetoric; a good number of the first actions taken seem to operationalize some of this exclusionary ethos of Trumps populism.

Trumps opening condemnation of anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes during his first address to a joint session of Congress in late February was welcomed, but long overdue, Rabbi Chasen said.

Its appreciated, he said. The reality, though, is that there is a mounting spate of threats to Jewish institutions all across the United States. The president needs to go beyond simply denouncing and demonstrate the desire to take action steps and send an absolute clarity of message to those who are doing this: Not in our America.

ben.poston@latimes.com

Follow @bposton on Twitter.

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For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

"Post-truth is pre-fascism": a Holocaust historian on the Trump era – Vox

A week after Donald Trumps election, Timothy Snyder, a professor of European history at Yale, posted a long note on Facebook. Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism, he began. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

The note consisted of twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to what Snyder called the circumstances of today. Among other things, he admonished Americans to defend democratic institutions, to not repeat the same words and phrases we hear in the media, to think clearly and critically, and to take responsibility for the face of the world.

The post went viral. Its now the basis of Snyders new book, On Tyranny. The book is a brisk read packed with lucid prose. If its not quite alarmist, its certainly bracing. This is a call to action, a reminder that the future isnt fixed. Being a citizen, Snyder argues, means engaging with the world, with other people, with the truth.

You submit to tyranny, he writes, when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.

If theres a recurring theme in On Tyranny, its that accepting untruth is a precondition of tyranny. Post-truth is pre-fascism, he warns, and to abandon facts is to abandon freedom.

In this interview, I talk to Snyder about the book, the fragility of Americas liberal democratic system, and what we might learn from Europes descent into fascism.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

This is a brief book, but you cover a lot of ground. The tone is measured but also urgent. You write as though the American political order is truly imperiled.

Absolutely. I believe it is. I wrote the book in a few days in December, so it was all done a month before the inauguration. It sounded true at the time, and it sounds even more true now. These are thoughts I had relatively long ago. As a historian, I understand that democratic republics fall all the time. You work on European history and you know that most times it actually doesn’t work out.

You also know that 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 realize that past success is no guarantee of future returns.

So what happens next is going to depend on us.

The American founders were very attuned to the dangers of tyranny, and they designed a system that would guard against it. Why is that system short-circuiting now?

I’m just going to repeat the point that you make. This is something that Americans often get wrong. We think that because we’re America, everything will work itself out. This is exactly what the founders refused to believe. They thought human nature is such that you have to constrain it by institutions. They preferred rule of law and checks and balances. They were the opposite of American exceptionalists.

They thought they knew something from history because of the Greeks and Romans. In the book, I just argue that they were right and that we can also learn from more recent and relevant examples because two more centuries have passed. I think our institutions are basically okay, but there are a couple of things that have gone wrong before the election.

What went wrong before the election?

An obvious problem is the role of money in politics, the confusion between the right to free speech and the right to give as much money as you want to anyone you want. Those are obviously two different things. The founders knew, because they read Aristotle, that inequality itself is always going to be a threat to democracy. If you have too much inequality, Aristotle warned, the people will grow tired of oligarchs. And someone like Trump will come along and say, well, the world’s run by billionaires but at least I’ll be your billionaire, which is false and demagogic and generally horrible.

But it makes a certain kind of sense when you’ve already reached a point of extremity.

Tell me about the distinction you make between a politics of inevitability and a politics of eternity. I find this interesting from a political theory perspective. What youre describing is two equally misguided orientations to politics, both of which are grounded in a false story we tell ourselves about history. The price we pay for this is blindness to the present, and to our role in shaping the future.

It all starts with me trying to assert that history matters, that we have to start from history itself and not from the comforting or delusive myths we might have about the past. A politics of inevitability is an idea thats been pretty widespread in the US since 1989. Its the view that the past is messy and violent and chaotic but that were inching inexorably toward a freer, safer, more progressive world. The future will be better, in other words, because thats how history works. There will be more globalization, more life, more prosperity, more democracy. But this is just not true.

No big narrative or grand stories like that are true, and they actually blind you to the very real danger of returning to the kinds of things you’re saying can’t happen, which is where the politics of eternity emerges.

A politics of eternity is an equally antihistorical posture. Its a self-absorbed concern with the past, free of any real concern with facts. In the book, I call this a longing for past moments that never really happened during epochs that were, in fact, disastrous. An eternity politician seduces the populace with a vision of the past in which the nation was once great, only to be sullied by some external enemy. This focus on the past and on victimhood means people think less about possible futures, less about possible solutions to real problems.

But again, these are just stories. The truth is that history is much more open and we have much more agency and responsibility than we think.

This reminds me of a recent discussion I had with Fareed Zakaria. People mistakenly assume that history moves in only one direction, that liberal democracy is the logical endpoint of Western civilization. But thats clearly not the case. History, like everything else, is in flux, and the range of outcomes is infinite.

That is exactly why I wrote the book. I was afraid the dominant narrative reaction would be something like: Oh, well, it’s a bump in the road. It’s a detour. The institutions will handle it. It’ll all be fine in the end, right? That’s what we were talking about earlier. That’s the politics of inevitability. That’s just not true.

It’s just not true that things have any kind of direction. That’s a big intellectual mistake that we made in 1989. We put ourselves to sleep and now we’re having a rough awakening, and the rough awakening has to lead us to realize that no, we’re actually in charge, and things can go in all kinds of directions.

A recurring theme of your book is that many democracies have failed in circumstances that resemble our own. Tell me what you mean by circumstances that resemble our own.

Well, for one, people overlook the fact that regime change in a democracy usually happens after an election thats when we have to be on guard. There are dramatic cases like the Bolshevik Revolution where a very, very young republic was overturned by a true revolution, but usually what happens is the scenario begins with an election, a big election. This is how Hitler came to power, for instance. His party won more votes than anyone else. Once inside, he decided the system needed to be changed. Something similar happened with the communists in Czechoslovakia, who won an election in 1946 and then wanted to carry out a coup dtat.

But to answer your basic question: The general circumstances are when an unusual figure is elected by way of normal mechanisms at a time when for other reasons the system is under stress. Thats the basic setup, and thats what I was referring to.

You said a minute ago that you still believe in the basic viability of our institutions. But I wonder if thats true for the majority of Americans. This last election showed, among other things, that a lot of people have lost faith in public institutions. They elected a man in large part because he wasnt a product of these institutions. It seems they were willing to flirt with disaster to register their disgust with the system.

So were already in a very dangerous place. A liberal democracy cant survive if people dont believe in it.

We’re not just flirting. We’re in a long-term relationship with disaster. The question is whether we get out of it in time. There are two steps here. The first is dealing with these flawed institutions; theres too much stress in the system. There’s gerrymandering, for example, which is an affront to the one-vote-for-one-person principle. These are problems that have to be addressed.

But were in a stage now where we have to first rescue the flawed system and then work to improve it. In order to do that, one does have to have some idea of an America that would be better, right? It’s an aspiration of America that would be improved. It’s not enough to say, Let’s go back to 2016. We have to have some idea of this as an experience from which one learns and then applies those lessons.

So I do believe our institutions in their logic are basically sound, but I agree with you that they will have to be corrected. The doubt that Americans have for institutions has to be mobilized toward a sense that they can improve as opposed to a cynicism about institutions and rules in general.

If we reach that point where people say, nothing ever works, it’s all nonsense, then we really are done.

Are we there already? My sense is that November 8 was a Rubicon-crossing moment for the country. But youre a historian, and this is a book about historical lessons, so tell me theres a non-terrifying precedent for this.

Talk me off the ledge!

My whole gambit in this book is that I’m not a US historian. I’m a historian of Europe, and the experience I’m bringing to bear is what happened to many European democracies and what people I admire have to say about how they resisted and what they learned when beating back authoritarianism. These are the sources of my book, and I believe the lessons learned in the 20th century apply equally to the 21st century.

History doesn’t give you perfect analogues, perfect parallels. It doesn’t repeat, and it doesn’t even rhyme, but it does present patterns.

Well, lets talk about one of those patterns, namely the discrediting of truth in totalitarian regimes.

This whole idea we’re dealing with now about the alternative facts and post-factuality is pretty familiar to the 1920s. Its a vision that’s very similar to the central premise of the fascist vision. It’s important because if you don’t have the facts, you don’t have the rule of law. If you don’t have the rule of law, you can’t have democracy.

And people who want to get rid of democracy and the rule of law understand this because they actively propose an alternative vision. The everyday is boring, they say. Forget about the facts. Experts are boring. Let’s instead attach ourselves to a much more attractive and basically fictional world.

So I’m not saying that Trump is just like the fascists of 1920s, but I am saying this isnt new.

In the book, you say that abandoning facts means abandoning freedom.

That’s absolutely the case. The thing that makes you an individual, the thing that makes you stand out, is your ability to figure out what’s going on for yourself. If you abandon that, then you open yourself up to some grand dream, and you cease to be free in any meaningful sense.

Abandoning facts also means abandoning truth, and a civilization cant get along without shared truths.

Sociologists say that a belief in truth is what makes trust in authority possible. Without trust, without respect for journalists or doctors or politicians, a society cant hang together. Nobody trusts anyone, which leaves society open to resentment and propaganda, and of course to demagogues.

If a community or country can’t hold together horizontally by way of an idea of factuality, then someone comes along vertically with a huge myth, and that person wins.

When you address this in the book, your intended audience is individual citizens. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given, you write. Individuals offer themselves without being asked. Political theorists have understood for a long time that the foundation of political power is consent, which can always be withdrawn. But this is not well understood by most citizens.

I think Americans do understand this well enough for normal times. In normal times, consent means political consent, as expressed in voting. What Americans might not understand is that in abnormal times, when the political system as they understand it is shaken and transformed, they can express consent to these changes without being aware that they are doing so. In normal political times, this sort of social adjustment would also be normal. But in times like these, our impulse to adjust takes on radical political significance.

Are you optimistic about the potential for collective action in this environment?

Collective action is hard, but there are real opportunities. If we manage to get our heads away from the screens, if we manage to meet people and talk to people with whom we disagree, then there can be new forms of action which may turn out to be effective. It doesn’t have to be that all Americans at exactly the same time do the same thing.

If 10,000 little groups do 5,000 little things, that will make a tremendous difference.

Whats the most important and relevant lesson in the book? What do you urge people to do with these historical truths?

The book has 20 lessons in there, and they’re of a different character. Some people are going to find some of them more relevant than others. What I want to emphasize is the instruction of the people who survived and learned about totalitarianism. There is wisdom in their examples, in what they did in those dramatic moments. For example, people who lived through fascism understand that when governments talk about terrorism and extremism, you have to be on guard, because these are always the words you hear before your rights are taken away from you.

If another terrorist attack occurs in the United States, which unfortunately is very likely, we have to be vigilant about what comes next. For these are the moments when rights are lost and regimes are changed. So we have to be prepared for that.

We cant trade our actual freedom for a false feeling of security.

See the article here:
"Post-truth is pre-fascism": a Holocaust historian on the Trump era – Vox

Why Does Amazon Sell Holocaust-Denying Authors Next To Real Historians? – Huffington Post

In a few hours of surfing Amazons Books category, I noticed that this American giant of online sales is infested with Holocaust deniers. These are books that either deny the crime the genocide of the Jews or the weapon of the crime the gas chambers. Their writers imply that the Holocaust is nothing but a rumour propagated by (Jewish) historians, survivors, Allies and Israel or an exaggeration of the numbers of Jews killed. They also suggest that, as the Holocaust never existed, the gas chambers that are still in existence today were nothing more sinister than a method to disinfect the deportees in the concentration camps.

On a search of more than 20 international Holocaust-denying authors, deceased or living, there are more than 100 books and other Holocaust denial publications sold on Amazon.com. This virtual shop is a showcase for them, which allows them to convey their ideologies where anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are mixed. The American company defends itself, explaining that the European law forbids them to sell deniers books. Holocaust deniers writers, however, find themselves in large numbers on the Amazon sites of all the countries of the Union.

If, for example, we look for the name of Carlo Mattogno, a notorious Italian holocaust denier, we will find many books and articles listed on Amazon.com. This is also the case on the Italian site,Amazon.it, despite the fact that Holocaust denial is illegal in Italy, as in most European countries.

Calls for a boycott of the site have already been heard. Is this really the solution? Should we deny the Holocaust deniers on Amazon.com? While European law is clear, and should be respected, the First Amendment in the United States does not prohibit them from publishing, but leaves Amazon with the final decision whether to sell them or not. This was also the case with the American Holocaust denier Bradley Smith, who, in the 1990s wanted to publish in American campus newspapers. Some campuses accepted on the basis of the First Amendment, even though they could just as well have refused.

The CEO and executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress, Robert R. Singer raised the issue last week: this is not a 1st Amendment problem. Amazon cannot be legally prohibited from selling Holocaust-denying material, but it can and should choose not to. Bookstores have long refused to carry certain items, with pornography being a prime example. Holocaust denial is no different, legally speaking, from hardcore pornography. (Cf.)

Contrary to Singers assertion, pornographic works are indeed on Amazon.com, but marked with the words Adults Only. That, perhaps, could be a first step: to notify which books are Holocaust deniers. Access to the works could be facilitated, but this would remove any ambiguity.

Last week, Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, sent an email to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting that he immediately remove the books from the sites. Yad Vashems battle to ban Holocaust-denying books should be welcomed. A list of these books was sent to Amazon a few days ago. This has resulted in books from some authors, known to be notorious Holocaust deniers, whose titles in the books leave no doubt as to their intentions, being withdrawn from sale. For example, The myth of the 6 million David L. Hoggan, an American denier and historian, is no longer on Amazon.

But there are also newer, little-known works, the titles of which do not allow the authors to be identified as deniers, but which instill doubt about the reality of history. This is the case of Debating the Holocaust: a New Look at Both Sides, a so-called academic, Thomas Dalton (Doctor). By an ambiguous title, the publishing house seeks to hide the fact that it is headed by Germar Rudolf, a German neo-Nazi Holocaust denier. The emphasis on authors qualifications (a doctor, a judge, a former witness of the camps, etc.) on the cover of books is also a common practice among them, in order to provide additional credit for their works and to legitimize themselves. Amazon customers are likely to get caught up in this dangerous game. Thankfully, by March 8th, Amazon.com had removed the book (Cf.).

Another example of an unknown denier author who is no longer found since March 8th on Amazon: Nicholas Kollerstrom, PhD, Breaking the Spell, The Holocaust Myth and Reality (Cf.).

They were found in greater numbers (about a hundred) in the section Holocaust Handbooks, but since March 8, there are no more denial writers in this section. This is a decision from Amazon that we can only rejoice in.

However, other Holocaust deniers still appear on the site, categorized with the Holocaust literature (Cf.). They are still listed under the category History, World or Literature, Fiction. And this, without any distinction with the books of history on the Shoah despite the fact that it would be easy to separate these books from genuine historically accurate works concerning the Holocaust. The same can be said of the French Amazon.fr site, where the works of the famous French denier Robert Faurisson are categorized under the heading Books, History, Great Periods of History, whereas Holocaust denial is illegal in France.

And thats not all. Holocaust deniers use the site for even more pernicious purposes: to create a commentary page for all books dealing with the Holocaust,Holocaust History channel. Thus, they can write reviews on books, praising Holocaust deniers and denigrating those of historians (Cf.).

One last observation: those who believe in conspiracies are often not very far away when Holocaust denial is present. Clients who bought Holocaust denial books also bought conspiracy books about the September 11 attacks and the origins of ISIS, which was set up by Israel and the United States.

The Holocaust deniers on Amazon are only the visible part of the iceberg. There are other sites, such as iBookstore, and other outlets, such as the large U.S. bookstore Barnes & Noble, where you can buy some Holocaust deniers.

Not to mention sites like Archive.org, used by Holocaust deniers to broadcast books and videos. Or, the American academic libraries. For example, in the library of the Department of History at Columbia University, the deniers authors are placed on the same shelves as the works of historians, whereas a simple classification difference would allow them to be separated geographically, and warn the reader of the intentions of the work.

This categorization problem is also found in the Library of Congress. Within the worlds largest library, some Holocaust deniers are not qualified as such. The work of the German denier, Thies Christophersen, is listed in American libraries not by the term holocaust denial, but by the key words personal narratives, German, Holocaust, Jews (1939-1945) because the author was an SS technician assigned to rubber work at the Auschwitz camp from January to December 1944, while he was also a neo-Nazi activist after the war. This is an appalling error, which would require all our attention.

This is an ongoing battle and it will never be possible to banish all works created by Holocaust deniers from American public spaces and from being sold on the internet but the fact that Amazon has withdrawn some books is a positive sign. In the name of freedom of expression, we have given too much publicity to Holocaust deniers, allowing an extremist danger and calling into question the accuracy of history in the minds of younger generations.

Read more:
Why Does Amazon Sell Holocaust-Denying Authors Next To Real Historians? – Huffington Post

Anti-Semitism, context in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’ examined – Cleveland Jewish News

A panel at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood on March 5 discussed how anti-Semitism in Johann Sebastian Bachs St. John Passion should not be overlooked, but reflected on to both better understand the pieces cultural period and how world events and cultural shifts that have happened since its writing shape our perceptions fundamentally differently in todays world.

Music director of The Cleveland Orchestra Franz Welser-Mst, The Temples Rabbi Roger Klein and Michael Marissen, professor emeritus at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., were panelists. The discussion, which was attended by about 300 people, was presented by The Cleveland Orchestra, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and was moderated by David Rothenberg, associate professor and chair of the music department at CWRU.

The Cleveland Orchestra is playing St. John Passion, conducted by Welser-Mst, March 9, 11 and 12 at Severance Hall in Cleveland.

St. John Passion, written by Bach in 1724, tells the story of the final days of Jesus of Nazareth. The panelists explained how the pieces anti-Semitism is both explicit in its lyrics, as well as in the music portraying Jews and Christians. Klein pointed out that the piece has five choruses where Jews are depicted as frenzied, ferocious and obstinate, where Christians are not.

If you are just generally listening to the story, you come away with this impression that there are two kinds of people, said Marissen, who has written on and researched St. John Passion and anti-Semitism extensively.

However, the depiction is complex and in that time period, not only is the piece considered less anti-Semitic than other Christian passions, but also can be seen differently without the context of the Holocaust and widespread persecution of Jews that occurred after its writing, which was a focus of the panelists.

A great piece of art also has to prove itself in every new time, Welser-Mst said, adding that the historical context of anti-Semitism is also relevant. We hear Bach differently after two world wars.

Marissen added that the piece is also reflective of the Gospel and disagreement between the two religions at the time.

This particular story from this particular Gospel is about the very foundation of Christianity, he said.

However, Marissen said that a distinction between such a disagreement and something more problematic is when it turns into contempt for one another which is not done explicitly by the piece, but can now seem inherent considering the history of Jewish persecution. On the contrary, Klein added that Bach also seems to comment subversively on the accepted anti-Semitism during that period.

Bach also represents anti-anti-Semitism, Klein said. Whatever his motivation, the piece is in conversation with itself about anti-Semitism as expressed. Bach takes great pains to soften it, to shift the burden of the crucifixion from the Jews to all people.

Klein also said that the piece could create productive dialogue between Jews and Christians.

Its an opportunity for Jews and Christians to have dialogue about some of the inordinate elements of the story about anti-Semitism, a whole bunch of super-sessionism that one religion has superseded the other (and) a misrepresentation and caricature of the Jews, Klein said.

Moreover Welser-Mst said although he cannot control what the audience takes away from the piece, it is important to consider the work beyond the artist and beyond narrow dichotomies.

We should not make the mistake to mix up the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach and the person Johann Sebastian Bach, Welser-Mst said. The world is not black or white, but many people try to make us believe that.

Read more from the original source:
Anti-Semitism, context in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’ examined – Cleveland Jewish News

Bassel Al-A’raj: Battling Intellect and Palestinian Encyclopedia – Al-Manar TV

Sara Taha Moughnieh

Bassel Al-Araj, a 31-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem, a pharmacist, intellect, and struggler was enrolled Monday in the list of heroes executed by Israeli occupation forces on the path of liberating Palestine.

After months of searching, the Israeli occupation failed to capture Araj alive. The latter engaged in an individual battle that lasted for two hours against the Israeli force that attacked his shelter, to later seize his body and keep it in captivity.

Soon after Araj was announced dead, hashtag the battling intellect emerged on social media and activists began informing about this hero who theyve concealed his name for months due to their fear over his life.

Only two days ago the name Bassel Al-Araj was not popular. Today Arajs blood restored a retaliatory spirit that united supporters of military resistance and intellectual resistance.

I have never imagined that this educated and thin young man, who I have met in Beirut two years ago, would take the military option. We, writers and journalists, prefer saying that we are fighting the enemy intellectually and culturally, but Bassel Al-Araj was the most noble amongst us; he combined intellectual and military resistance journalist Qassem Qassem wrote for Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Here lies the significance of this young man who fought the Israeli enemy in all possible ways and had the concern of preserving the Palestinian history in its smallest details.

He was highly educated and conscious, and was a reference in the Palestinian culture to many journalists and activists inside and outside the occupied territories. If he was asked about a certain Palestinian costume he would explain the history of this costume as well as the region and the family it belonged to he was more like an encyclopedia, a friend of Araj told Al-Manar website.

Khodor Salameh, Lebanese activist, another friend of Araj, indicated that Bassel was a knowledge fortune in every field. He arranged between religion and society. He was capable of establishing a local social science rather than an imported one. He had a story to tell about every village, street or stone in Palestine. He knew the names of all the battles and martyrs.

Araj used to arrange educational tours for Palestinian youth and tourists inside Palestine. He took them to the regions in which Palestinians battled against the British and Israelis. He also worked on documenting Palestinian revolts and history, from before the Nakba (catastrophe).

Speaking to Al-Manar website, Salameh explained that Bassel saw the road to Palestine was a straight one without any neutrality or curves. He was dedicated to document the Palestinian cause, writing its history, and transferring it from one generation to another He was a devouring reader and a battler unlike many people, he was a very good listener, and he concluded every conversation with the name of a book, reference, or an article.

He had a clear project that was based on resistance, as he was very influenced by the Lebanese experience in the field of resistance, Salameh added.

In 2015 Araj attended the Conference of Supporting the Resistance in Beirut. As soon as he returned to Palestine he disappeared for a week along with a couple of young men.

The Palestinian Authority stated that this group was arranging for a military operation against Israelis. In parallel, the Israelis claimed that this group was recruited by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Only one week later, the Palestinian Authority captured Araj and his friends who denied preparing for any operation claiming that they were on a camping trip.

The Palestinian authority imprisoned Araj and his friends in Bitonia prison. In concurrence, Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas appeared on Israeli Channel 10 saying that he had stopped a big operation that was going to target the Israelis.

Araj and his friends were tortured in prison. The Palestinian battler who had diabetes was denied medication which influenced his health. They launched a hunger strike that lasted for one month, then the Palestinian Authority released them 6 months after detention.

As soon as they were released, and based on the Israeli-Palestinian Authority Security Coordination Policy, which includes exchange of information between the two sides, the PA sent the report of investigation with Araj and his friends to the Israelis.

Reportedly, the PA arranges with the Zionist authorities so that the latter would capture the prisoners that the PA releases. Hence, the Palestinian Authority would deny any accusation of capturing resistance fighters.

The Israeli-PA Security Coordination Policy was identified in the Taba agreement of 1995, which stated that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for preventing terrorists and terrorism and taking the right measures against them. This takes places through a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee which confiscates the resistance weapons, specifically Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The Palestinian Authority halted the security coordination after the eruption of Al-Aqsa Intifada (uprising) in 2000. It was restored when Mahmoud Abbas reached power. On that occasion, Zionist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: We see great opportunities in the election of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. We hope he will be able to lead his people and create a democratic law respecting society that will build its institutions, fight terrorism and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist organizations.

Bassels stance from the Palestinian Authority was basic in his revolutionary rhetoric, as he clearly believed that this organization had a limited job to perform, and if it werent for the benefit of the occupation, the world wouldnt have permitted its establishment in the first place, Salameh pointed out.

Due to this great loss, a revolutionary atmosphere dominated social media, as the subject of Arajs martyrdom went viral in the past three days in at least four countries (Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan).

According to Salameh This is a transitional point. Today, we are supposed to build on Bassels experience rather than grieve over his departure. We must transform Bassel into an ongoing battling intellectual path that refutes any form of coordination, normalization or peace.

I am confident that the departure of Bassel will have a backlash on the murderers: The Authority which is executing any form of resistance, and the Israeli that produced tens of thousands of heroes and redirected the compass of thousands of other intellects by assassinating Bassel Al-Araj.

Source: Al-Manar Website

Continue reading here:
Bassel Al-A’raj: Battling Intellect and Palestinian Encyclopedia – Al-Manar TV

A rich history marred by modern day anti-Semitism – Bulletin

As aCatholic institution that enrolls primarily students of Christian faiths 72.6 percent, according to official GU Census data not everyone is aware of the history of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in this region. Just as many are not aware of the rich history of Jewish leaders in Spokane.

In Spokane, one conservative congregation of 556 members and a reform congregation of 170 members make up the majority of the local Jewish community, according to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census. The reform community, Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) rents space in conservative minded Temple Beth Shalom (TBS), Spokanes lone synagogue.

However, Spokanes Jewish community dates back to 1885 with Simon Berg, the first Jewish resident to build a store in Spokane Falls, and the dedication of Washingtons second synagogue just four days behind Seattle in 1982 Temple Emanu-El.

The list of Jewish community leaders who left their mark on Spokane is a long one. Albert Heller erected the first brick building in Spokane on Howard Street. Nathan Toklas had built what is now the Peyton Building downtown. Simon Oppenheimer brought back Dutch capital from Holland totalling $300,000 and used it to build a sawmill and a flour mill. He was was referred to as The Biggest Man in Spokane in the mid-1890s. And, Spokane dentist David C. Cowen served in the Washington State Legislature nearly consecutively from 1935 to 1965.

The darker history, on the other hand, has been attempted to be left in the past.

In the mid-70s a group called Aryan Nations inhabited North Idaho near Coeur Dalene. The group aligned itself with neo-Nazi, Christian Identity and Ku Klux Klan groups and predicated its racist and anti-Semitic beliefs on a misreading of Genesis. Their founder, Richard Butler, became an infamous face for white supremacy in America. The group didnt leave the area until it was bankrupted in 2000 by a lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A plot by white supremacists to firebomb TBS was foiled by the FBA in 1992, but ever since, security and a Spokane Police Department presence has become part of the daily life of the Jewish community in Spokane.

In October 2014, a swastika was painted on TBS the day of Yom Kippur service. It was later discovered to be a miseducated teenager, but it was reminiscent of the fear brought on by Aryan Nations, said Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, a GU religious studies professor and part-time rabbi at TBS and CEE.

However, the biggest scare according to Goldstein was the bomb threat on Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in 2011, an act of violence not targeting Jews specifically.

That really rocked Spokane, she said. If not defused it could have hurt many people.

Anti-Semitism today

Already this year there have been over 100 bomb threats against Jewish organizations in the U.S.

Recently, TBS held a solidarity service for the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana, where a white supremacist group has targeted local Jews.

Weve had more solidarity services this past year than I have ever seen at synagogue, GU senior and TBS staff member Zina Zimmerman said. And, I dont know if thats just because Im older and Im recognizing them.

Many Spokane community members come to these services too, she said.

Zimmerman said she feels lucky that this wave of anti-Semitism hasnt reached GU, but she knows many on other campuses and Jewish GU students connected to violence.

Most recently, a Jewish community center in Mercer Island, Washington had to be evacuated due to a bomb threat and anti-Semitic graffiti in multiple locations in Seattles Ballard neighborhood.

I have friends whose relatives are in the Seattle cemetery that got vandalized, Zimmerman said.

On Sunday, TBS invited thousands to the synagogue for its 75th annual Kosher Dinner. Zimmerman said around 2,000 meals were served.

Because of recent safety concerns, there was heightened security around the event, Zimmerman said.

TBS Rabbi Tamar Malino spoke with SpokaneFAVS about the importance of the dinner before the event.

Its very real in a way that it hasnt been before, even when we had a swastika on the building, she said. For there to be bomb threats all across the country, and in Seattle, its very sobering.

Zimmerman said there have only been two incidents in her lifetime that have warranted major police involvement, but the uptick in anti-Semitism has the community on edge.

I feel very safe at temple 99 percent of the time, she said.

The vandalism in 2014 and whenever suspicious people attempt to enter the temple are the only things that cause her concern.

Despite this, the spiritual, humanistic nature of GU is why she feels safe moving forward, she said.

Goldstein said she wouldnt expect the club to stand by themselves if they took on an activism role.

It should be the whole community, she said.

Goldstein said she would work hard to get the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to stand with them.

She said SpokaneFavs Meet The Neighbors events where community members attend different houses of worship has helped educate the Spokane community.

However, this same type education isnt as prevalent on GUs campus with only the Reflection Room and Muslim Prayer Center in Crosby set apart as non-Christian places of worship.

Jared Brown is the head news editor. Follow him on Twitter: @jayrod_brown.

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A rich history marred by modern day anti-Semitism – Bulletin

Panel examines anti-Semitism, context in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’ – Cleveland Jewish News

A panel at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood on March 5 discussed how anti-Semitism in Johann Sebastian Bachs St. John Passion should not be overlooked, but reflected on to both better understand the pieces cultural period and how world events and cultural shifts that have happened since its writing shape our perceptions fundamentally differently in todays world.

Music director of The Cleveland Orchestra Franz Welser-Mst, The Temples Rabbi Roger Klein and Michael Marissen, professor emeritus at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., were panelists. The discussion, which was attended by about 300 people, was presented by The Cleveland Orchestra, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and was moderated by David Rothenberg, associate professor and chair of the music department at CWRU.

The Cleveland Orchestra is playing St. John Passion, conducted by Welser-Mst, March 9, 11 and 12 at Severance Hall in Cleveland.

St. John Passion, written by Bach in 1724, tells the story of the final days of Jesus of Nazareth. The panelists explained how the pieces anti-Semitism is both explicit in its lyrics, as well as in the music portraying Jews and Christians. Klein pointed out that the piece has five choruses where Jews are depicted as frenzied, ferocious and obstinate, where Christians are not.

“If you are just generally listening to the story, you come away with this impression that there two kinds of people,” said Marissen, who has written on and researched St. John Passion and anti-Semitism extensively.

However, the depiction is complex and in that time period, not only is the piece considered less anti-Semitic than other Christian Passions, but also can be seen differently without the context of the Holocaust and widespread persecution of Jews that occurred after its writing, which was a focus of the panelists.

“A great piece of art also has to prove itself in every new time,” Welser-Mst said, adding that the historical context of anti-Semitism is also relevant. “We hear Bach differently after two world wars.”

Marissen added that the piece is also reflective of the Gospel and disagreement between the two religions at the time.

“This particular story from this particular Gospel is about the very foundation of Christianity, he said.

However, Marissen said that a distinction between such a disagreement and something more problematic is when it turns into contempt for one another which is not done explicitly by the piece, but can now seem inherent considering the history of Jewish persecution. On the contrary, Klein added that Bach also seems to comment subversively on the accepted anti-Semitism during that period.

“Bach also represents anti-anti-Semitism. Whatever his motivation, the piece is in conversation with itself about anti-Semitism as expressed, Klein said. Bach takes great pains to soften it, to shift the burden of the crucifixion from the Jews to all people.

Klein also said that the piece could create productive dialogue between Jews and Christians.

It’s an opportunity for Jews and Christians to have dialog about some of the inordinate elements of the story about anti-Semitism, a whole bunch of super-sessionism that one religion has superseded the other (and) a misrepresentation and caricature of the Jews, Klein said.

Moreover Welser-Mst said although he cannot control what the audience takes away from the piece, it is important to consider the work beyond the artist and beyond narrow dichotomies.

“We should not make the mistake to mix up the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach and the person Johann Sebastian Bach, Welser-Mst said. “The world is not black or white, but many people try to make us believe that.”

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Panel examines anti-Semitism, context in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’ – Cleveland Jewish News

A unique perspective on a unique city – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

BERLIN FOR JEWS: A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY COMPANION

By Leonard Barkan

University of Chicago Press, $27.50, 191 pages

As a longtime provincial backwater that, almost overnight, became the capital of Europes mightiest commercial and military power, Berlin has always been a special case. Part insecure, arrogant arriviste and part vital, creative nerve center, Bismarcks 19th-century unification of Germany capped a process that, beginning with Frederick the Great in the 18th century, had gradually attracted money, talent and influence to the capital of Hohenzollern Prussia, mostly at the expense of the far more elegant but fading German-speaking cultural center of Hapsburg Vienna. The collapse of Imperial Germany at the end of World War I and the establishment of the Weimar Republic diluted but did not destroy Berlins influence. Hitlers rise to power actually enhanced it, but in quite the wrong way. Then came retribution. Berlin, like Germany, was crushed and divided. West Germany and West Berlin quickly rebuilt and prospered on democratic, capitalist lines, but both city and nation were incomplete, physically and emotionally.

Only with the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany and of Berlin itself has the city reclaimed its position as the most influential metropolis not only in Germany, but in Central Europe. As one who first visited West Berlin in 1973 when the Iron Curtain, though rusty, showed no signs of lifting, then in June of 1982 with President Reagan, when his message of hope had just begun to sink in, and then to East Berlin in 1989 as the Wall was literally being demolished, I was able to see the process unfold as if in time lapse photography. All very exhilarating, but the roots of todays vibrant, free Berlin dig deep into bloodstained soil, memories of which are never far from view if you walk through the bustling city today with any degree of historical awareness.

Berlin has changed, but, in the line of an old song that. Mr. Reagan quoted in his 1982 speech there which I was responsible for drafting and editing Berlin bleibt doch Berlin (Berlin is still Berlin), a city of good and evil spirits, of deep shadow as well as bright light. With this in mind, it in no way detracts from Leonard Barkans sensitive and perceptive little travel/historical volume on Berlin for Jews to say that the most moving words it contains are those in its dedication:

In grateful recognition of a whole generation of exiles who were my teachers, whether in person or by example. I think especially of three remarkable individuals who taught me German: at Horace Mann, Arthur F. Walber from Bottrop (1897-1991); at Swarthmore, Hilde Cohn from Grlitz (1909-2001) and Franz Mautner from Vienna (1902-1995). What a glorious slap in the face of evil that all three lived to such a grand age in their adopted homeland!

The best way to reach a full understanding of the story of the rich German-language culture that millions of Middle European Jews so sincerely and at the time so seemingly successfully embraced, is to read the late Amos Elons The Pity of It All: A History of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933 published in 2002. Having dined on Mr. Elons thorough, scholarly and humane treatment of the broad panorama, the reader can then order Berlin for Jews as dessert. In less than 200 pages it walks you through surviving landmarks of Berlins largely vanished (but now gradually regenerating) Jewish population and introduces you to famous and not-so-famous figures from the past and the present connected to the pageant. You will also enjoy the authors exuberant evocation of the sights, sounds and not least tastes of todays Berlin. He seems to have a particular fondness, almost to the point of obsession, for local strawberries and white asparagus. My own favorite culinary memory of Berlin is a near-perfect bowl of eel soup enjoyed at a lakeside restaurant in 1973 but to each his own.

As an American of Christian Armenian ancestry who experienced some very complex emotions on my first visit to contemporary Istanbul which my paternal grandparents had known as Constantinople, the glittering capital of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the previous century, before the mass murder of Armenians during World War I I felt more than a little empathy for the complex process of reconnection Mr. Barkan, as an American of Ashkenazi Jewish extraction, has undergone in Berlin. There are occasional moments when one might wish that his book contained a little more Berlin and a little less Barkan the city being a much more interesting subject than the author all in all, though, you will find him a knowledgeable, engaging guide.

Aram Bakshian Jr., an aide to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, writes widely on politics, history, gastronomy and the arts.

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A unique perspective on a unique city – Washington Times

Historians ‘must go back into core of Stormont House Agreement’ – Belfast Newsletter

08:44 Monday 06 March 2017 10:09 Tuesday 07 March 2017

Historians must come back into the centre of plans for dealing with the past or leave the history of the Troubles to be permanently rewritten by republicans, a history professor has said.

Prof Thomas Hennessy from Canterbury Christ Church University made his call at the annual conference of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) in Enniskillen on Saturday, which addressed what organisers said is a rising tide of concern among terror victims a distorted view of the Troubles being shaped by legal actions against the state, in preference to an historians balanced examination.

Prof Hennessy said it is now broadly accepted that the republican violence which claimed 60% of the 3,700 lives during the Troubles was justified by a desire for legitimate civil rights in the 1970s.

In fact, the IRAs campaign was never about civil rights but was entirely focused on the desire to achieve a united Ireland, he said.

For many people it has now been openly or tacitly accepted that nationalists in Northern Ireland had no alternative but to resort to violence. But this means that the peaceful and democratic approach of the largest nationalist party throughout the Troubles has been forgotten: The SDLP has now been written out of history.

He said that US envoy Richard Haas had hated historians and the planned role for them to create an agreed history of the Troubles during the Stormont House Agreement talks was suddenly downgraded at the last minute so that they were left to be only responsible for a chronology of events.

Also read: Hyde Park army widow tells conference: I feel so guilty since IRA killed my husband

As another example of why this was so dangerous, he said the standard view of history was that the role of the Army in the riots of the The Falls Road Curfew in 1970 represented a hardening of [Tory] attitude which helped create the fledgling Provisional IRA.

But look at the documents and you can see the government had no plans for hardening security. They were responding to a growing republican threat on the ground.

Without intending offence to lawyers, he said the problem with the current transitional justice approach to the past is that it has a disproportionate focus on human rights, past crimes and the security forces.

The UK must be held to account for its wrongdoings, but only historians not lawyers will weigh all documents and evidence to arrive at a balanced view of the past, including Dublins role in the origins of PIRA, he said.

SEFF can make clear to the DUP that there is another way to deal with the past.

Ken Funston, SEFF advocacy manager, told the conference that terror victims are always being told to move on but that nobody dares say this to victims in historic sex abuse inquiries.

In fact, surveys showed terror victims are significantly more supportive of power-sharing and the peace process than the rest of the population, he said yet they are still seen as an embarrassment and hindrance to progress.

The current statutory definition of a victim which includes perpetrators is at odds with both the UN and EU definitions and starkly without precedent in the aftermath of any other conflict in the world, he said.

A closer parallel to Northern Ireland, he said, is post-Holocaust revisionism in which Jews are made to carry the full blame for atrocities against them by Nazis.

Here, reasons are also now found to blame victims for atrocities against them by terrorists; for example, people deserved to die because they had joined the security forces.

In his address Omagh bomb civil action lawyer Matthew Jury said that true personal peace for victims could only come through truth and justice; only then is reconciliation possible. This is different to the peace that politicians builds their careers on he said.

Justice is critical to learn lessons from the past, so it will not be repeated and to avoid sending the wrong message to terrorists now and in the future.

But if the government will not act, private citizens viable alternatives are inquests and private civil or criminal actions, he added.

The RIRA tried to rewrite history after the 1998 Omagh bomb by blaming the police and government for the carnage, he said. However, the later civil action reclaimed history by finding four terrorists liable; they are now showing fear and losing their temper in court as damages are pursued.

Also attending the conference was former Presbyterian Moderator Norman Hamilton, UUP MP Tom Elliott, victims campaigners Willie Frazer and Barrie Halliday.

The event was chaired by Oliver Wilkinson, Chair of the Board of the Victims and Survivors Service, with closing comments made by Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson.

Also read: Hyde Park army widow tells conference: I feel so guilty since IRA killed my husband

View post:
Historians ‘must go back into core of Stormont House Agreement’ – Belfast Newsletter

Battling Hate As Jews In The Spirit Of Queen Esther – Forward

(JTA) Shots fired into a classroom window at an Indiana synagogue. Cemeteries desecrated in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New York. Swastikas scrawled on Jewish buildings. More than 100 bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers.

History doesnt always repeat itself, but echoes of the darkest chapters serve as warnings. We study the past and preserve our tradition so that well recognize the signs. For these troubled days, the observance of Purim commemorating the defeat of a plot to massacre the Jews in ancient Persia is a timely reminder.

But as troubling as the recent anti-Semitic outrages are, the United States is not prewar Europe, let alone ancient Persia, where for all Queen Esthers courage, protection depended on a kings will. Here, the protection of the law and the fabric of society are with us.

The FBI is aiding local authorities in investigating the crimes. During his first address to Congress, President Trump condemned anti-Semitism. The House of Representatives Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism has called on the president to take additional steps involving resources for the Justice Department and interagency coordination in the fight against anti-Jewish hate crimes.

Weve seen an outpouring of support from fellow citizens. Many non-Jews stood in line to clean and repair the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery outside St. Louis, where more than 150 tombstones were overturned. Muslim organizations launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the damage, quickly raising $100,000 far surpassing the $20,000 goal.

I cant help but share my pride at the Jewish response to equally appalling attacks against Muslim institutions. When a Muslim man launched a fundraising drive to help repair a Tampa mosque damaged by an arson attack last month, he noticed many donations in multiples of $18 and discovered that they were attached to Jewish names.

Generosity and solidarity can be unleashed by acts of hate. I have full confidence, and there is bountiful evidence, that Americas soil is especially rich for the cultivation of good.

But we can never be complacent, nor can we expect America to fulfill its potential, without constant vigilance. The idea that anti-Semitic crimes are not just a Jewish problem, but also an American one, must be acknowledged.

We have to speak out, express our values, and demand justice every day. All hate crimes must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We should all exercise our right to insist that Congress and the administration redouble their efforts to fight all forms of anti-Semitism and all hate crimes at home and abroad.

The heroine of the Purim story is a queen who raised her voice to save her people. Until she asked for his support, the king didnt know his own wife was Jewish. Esther, her Persian name, was part of her cover her Hebrew name was Hadassah.

Hadassah, the Womens Zionist Organization of America, was founded in the season of Purim in 1912, inspired by the recognition that altering the course of history required learning its lessons. Modern Hadassah combines the legacy of Queen Esther, the Jewish national liberation movement and the determination of women to become leaders. While the central goal of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state, in America it also accelerated the impulse for Jews to involve themselves in public life, to insist on equality for all and to wear their identity proudly.

The more we learn from history, the more likely it is to reward us. Let us use the celebration of Purim as a reminder that even while evil exists we, our society and our government, have the capacity to defeat it.

Ellen Hershkin is president of Hadassah, the Womens Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

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

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Battling Hate As Jews In The Spirit Of Queen Esther – Forward

Camborne Science and International Academy pupils learn about … – Cornwall Live

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Pupils heard a harrowing first-hand account of survival against all odds from a Holocaust death camp survivor whose father was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

History pupils in Years 9 and 10 at Students at Camborne Science and International Academy (CSIA) listened as Joanna Millan, a grandmother who spent two years in a concentration camp in Theresianstadt, near Prague, talked through her harrowing experiences.

“It was such a privilege for us to welcome Joanna Millan to our school,” said history teacher Ella Wasley. “She talks for the Holocaust Educational Trust and having heard her compelling account, we hope our students will be encouraged to learn from the lessons of this devastating atrocity and make a positive impact in their own lives.”

Read more: Man dies behind the wheel of tipper truck near holiday chalet in Cornwall

The 180 pupils heard that Joanna was born Bela Rosenthal in Berlin in 1942. Her father was snatched from the streets and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was murdered on arrival in 1943. Later that year, Bela and her mother were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where her mother succumbed to TB, leaving her orphaned in the camp until she was liberated in 1945.

Pupils Evangeline White, Harvey Angwin, Rhys James and Shannon Clifford with Joanna Millan.

Along with 299 other surviving orphans, Bela was flown to England and adopted by a Jewish couple from London before her name was changed to a less German-sounding name – Joanna. “Years later she was encouraged to research her background and over the past 25 years, Joanna has been telling her story,” said Mrs Wasley. “Our students were captivated and horrified at Joanna’s experiences and totally compelled to listen and share her story. It was clear that they gained a far greater understanding of the Holocaust and the suffering it caused to so many people having listened to a personal account.”

Read more: Heartbroken family warns others after puppy is killed by another dog on beach in Cornwall

Harvey Angwin, in Year 9, said: “It’s been a good experience to meet her, and learn about what happened and how it happened. You can read it in a book but it’s not the same as having someone actually there to tell you about it.”

Rhys James from Year 10, said: “It made me feel quite shocked experiencing her whole speech and how she described it. I didn’t expect so many people to be so willing to end their own lives because of the situation they were in. The way that they weren’t allowed to walk along the pavements along with the German citizens, I thought it was just horrible” said .

Joanna Millan survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp and was adopted by a Jewish couple from London.

Mrs Wasley added: “It’s such an amazing resource for the students and to share those different experiences. With the Holocaust, quite often you can think of one route and one experience but actually nobody’s experience is exactly the same. Joanna’s story is one of incredible courage and our students were given the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”

Read more: Watch the crazy moment a lorry overtakes four cars and a tractor on the A30 at Roseworthy Dip

Following Joanna’s talk, pupils got to ask her questions to explore the Holocaust further.

Sean and Thea, from Year 9.

CSIA principal Ian Kenworthy said: “It is vitally important that we understand the horrors of the past so that we can all play our part in learning from them – we have a shared responsibility for reducing hatred in the world. Our students were given a live testimony and a human story about how it affected those involved.”

Read more: See all the latest news here

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Camborne Science and International Academy pupils learn about … – Cornwall Live

Historians ‘vital to counter republican rewriting of past’ – Belfast Newsletter

08:44 12:42 Monday 06 March 2017

Historians must come back into the centre of plans for dealing with the past or leave the history of the Troubles to be permanently rewritten by republicans, a history professor has said.

Prof Thomas Hennessy from Canterbury Christ Church University made his call at the annual conference of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) in Enniskillen on Saturday, which addressed what organisers said is a rising tide of concern among terror victims a distorted view of the Troubles being shaped by legal actions against the state, in preference to an historians balanced examination.

Prof Hennessy said it is now broadly accepted that the republican violence which claimed 60% of the 3,700 lives during the Troubles was justified by a desire for legitimate civil rights in the 1970s.

In fact, the IRAs campaign was never about civil rights but was entirely focused on the desire to achieve a united Ireland, he said.

For many people it has now been openly or tacitly accepted that nationalists in Northern Ireland had no alternative but to resort to violence. But this means that the peaceful and democratic approach of the largest nationalist party throughout the Troubles has been forgotten: The SDLP has now been written out of history.

He said that US envoy Richard Haas had hated historians and the planned role for them to create an agreed history of the Troubles during the Stormont House Agreement talks was suddenly downgraded at the last minute so that they were left to be only responsible for a chronology of events.

Also read: Hyde Park army widow tells conference: I feel so guilty since IRA killed my husband

As another example of why this was so dangerous, he said the standard view of history was that the role of the Army in the riots of the The Falls Road Curfew in 1970 represented a hardening of [Tory] attitude which helped create the fledgling Provisional IRA.

But look at the documents and you can see the government had no plans for hardening security. They were responding to a growing republican threat on the ground.

Without intending offence to lawyers, he said the problem with the current transitional justice approach to the past is that it has a disproportionate focus on human rights, past crimes and the security forces.

The UK must be held to account for its wrongdoings, but only historians not lawyers will weigh all documents and evidence to arrive at a balanced view of the past, including Dublins role in the origins of PIRA, he said.

SEFF can make clear to the DUP that there is another way to deal with the past.

Ken Funston, SEFF advocacy manager, told the conference that terror victims are always being told to move on but that nobody dares say this to victims in historic sex abuse inquiries.

In fact, surveys showed terror victims are significantly more supportive of power-sharing and the peace process than the rest of the population, he said yet they are still seen as an embarrassment and hindrance to progress.

The current statutory definition of a victim which includes perpetrators is at odds with both the UN and EU definitions and starkly without precedent in the aftermath of any other conflict in the world, he said.

A closer parallel to Northern Ireland, he said, is post-Holocaust revisionism in which Jews are made to carry the full blame for atrocities against them by Nazis.

Here, reasons are also now found to blame victims for atrocities against them by terrorists; for example, people deserved to die because they had joined the security forces.

In his address Omagh bomb civil action lawyer Matthew Jury said that true personal peace for victims could only come through truth and justice; only then is reconciliation possible. This is different to the peace that politicians builds their careers on he said.

Justice is critical to learn lessons from the past, so it will not be repeated and to avoid sending the wrong message to terrorists now and in the future.

But if the government will not act, private citizens viable alternatives are inquests and private civil or criminal actions, he added.

The RIRA tried to rewrite history after the 1998 Omagh bomb by blaming the police and government for the carnage, he said. However, the later civil action reclaimed history by finding four terrorists liable; they are now showing fear and losing their temper in court as damages are pursued.

Also attending the conference was former Presbyterian Moderator Norman Hamilton, UUP MP Tom Elliott, victims campaigners Willie Frazer and Barrie Halliday.

The event was chaired by Oliver Wilkinson, Chair of the Board of the Victims and Survivors Service, with closing comments made by Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson.

Also read: Hyde Park army widow tells conference: I feel so guilty since IRA killed my husband

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Historians ‘vital to counter republican rewriting of past’ – Belfast Newsletter

Recent anti-Semitic incidents are pushing local rights groups to stand together – PRI

Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari, of Kol Tzedek synagogue, stood amidst the broken tombstones at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia last Sunday,shocked and saddened by what he saw. It was the second of at least threegrave sites desecrated in recent weeks. In the last month, nearly 100 Jewish community centers across the country received bomb threats.

On Friday, law enforcement officials said they had arrested a man in St. Louis in connection with a number of the phone threats. Gov. Andrew Cuoma has asked State Police to investigate the destruction of headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York as a possiblehate crime. Meanwhile swastikas have been showing up on city streets, campuses and communities.

It was heartbreaking in many ways, Fornari said. It was stunningly devastating to see the piles of broken tombstones, echoing back to our history.

Fornari stood in vigil for hours, along with other Jewish community members and others of Muslim, Quaker and Christian faiths who were there in solidarity. The presence of non-Jewish supporters, who helped to pick up the gravestones, provided a glimmer of hope. Amidst the rise in anti-Semitic acts, interfaith coordination and cooperation between different nonprofits and networkshas arisen as aclear path for Jewish groups and individuals to fight hate.

After all, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are two heads of the same monster hate. Jewish and Muslim congregations and organizations, in concert with African American organizations, immigrant rights groups and others that advocate for minority communities, are finding that working together is the best way to stand up to hate.

Amidst the grave stones, Fornari met Tarek El-Messidi, director of Celebrate Mercy, a nonprofit that produces webcasts and videos on the life of Muhammad.He arrived at the cemetary, luggage in hand. El-Messidi had been on his way to the airport when he heard of the vandalism. He turned straight around to come to the cemetery.

It was just an incredible act of solidarity,”Fornari said. He stayed all afternoon and into the evening.

El-Messidi, with Linda Sarsour of the organizing network MPower Change, started a campaign to raise funds for repairs to the cemetery.Now, hes working with Fornari to createan ongoing fund that supports solidarity across faiths. Were just beginning to dream up how our communities can support each other, Fornari said. Solidarity happens when we truly show up for one another.

Nationally, the Council on American-Islamic Relationsalso has risen to the forefront, including by offeringa reward for information on who is responsible for bomb threats against Jewish community centers. When the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery was desecrated in Missouri on February 20, the local CAIR chapter worked with the Jewish community to clean up the damage.

Bigots arent brain surgeons, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIRs national office. They tend to hate everybody. Whether its Muslims or Jews or African Americans or Hispanics. You name it, they hate it. Unfortunately in the recent year and months, weve seen a tremendous uptick in the level of anti-Muslim bigotry, but [also] bigotry targeting a number of minority communities.

Interfaith coalitions are not a radically new concept. Jewish Voice for Peace has been building relationships with Muslim, African American and immigrant groups for two decades.

Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of JVP, says the organization has since 9/11 been working with CAIR and other Muslim-led organizations on the damaging impacts of Islamophobia. Weve been building for a long time and have always seen the ways that they are mutually enforcing, she said.

“This moment is an opportunity to deepen these relationships, Wise said. A lot of people now in the Jewish community are scrambling to develop the relationship with the Muslim community.”

Besides Jewish-Muslim solidarity, M. Dove Kent, who recently left her position as executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice in New York City, says working with other allies, such as African American and immigrant communities, is vitally important. Kent has been working over two decades on building communities around police brutality, and anti-Black and anti-Muslim racism.

“Its a blessing to be able to rely on those relationships, she said.

With ally groups, JREF has been doing training for bystanders who witnesspolice brutality,which focus on de-escalation, as well as creating hate-free zones as a method for community defense.

Now were in the next chapter of that work, Kent said. We know that whiteness is about power and not about skin tone. What we are seeing in this moment is the conditions of the Jewish communitys relationship to whiteness are coming to the fore.

While white Jews may benefit from white privilege, they are still targeted by white supremacy, she said.

Minnesota wastargeted with two bomb threats against Jewish community centers, on in St. Paul and one ina suburb of Minneapolis, in addition a number of incidents of swastika graffiti on homes, crushed in the snow, and on the campus of the University of Minnesota. On March 2, the nonprofit organization Jewish Community Action organized a rally that featured many of the partners that JCA has developed relationships with, including the local CAIR chapter, the NAACP, Neighborhoods Organization for Change, and Mesa Latina, an immigrant rights group.

I think what were seeing in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Minneapolis… there are local communities just having each others backs in fundamental, material ways, Kent said. Thats the direction we need to be going.Local organizing is so deeply important. We need both to build power and to keep our neighbors safe.

Vic Rosenthal, the outgoing executive director of Jewish Community Action, says the rally was not just about responding to the rise in anti-Semitism, but also about connecting those hateful acts with Islamophobia,xenophobia and racism. Its all connected, he said. To gather and not acknowledge that connection would be a mistake.

In his remarks, Michael Waldman, of the St. Paul Jewish community center, said that bomb threats and the desecration of cemeteries is outrageous and offensive, the real story is the way that the friends and neighbors of the center came together to show support. We choose to say no to the intent of a phone call and yes to an inclusive community, he said.

Jaylani Hussein, directorof CAIR’s Minnesota chapter, said at the rally that it is time to dust up those old boots and march again. The Jewish community knows that if we hear of hate incidents,they are not anomalous.”

Wintana Melekin, an organizer for Neighborhoods Organization for Change, told the story of how she texted Carin Mrotz, incoming executive director of Jewish Community Action, when she learned that a swastika had been painted on a garage door in North Minneapolis at the end of 2016. Melekin immigrated to the United States from Sudan when she was 3 years old, and is a Black Catholicof Eritrean heritage.

When I saw on Facebook that someone drew a poorly made swastika, the first thing I did was text herand said, Lets paint over it. If our organizing isnt intersectional, it isnt organizing, she said.

Members of Jewish Community Actionshowed to protest the killing of African American teenager Jamar Clark. They also supported Neighborhoods Organization for Change and the greater Black Lives Matter movement when a gunman openedfireon protesters. JCA showed up for us, and we show up for JCA, Melekinsaid.

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Recent anti-Semitic incidents are pushing local rights groups to stand together – PRI

Outside the synagogue, intermarried are forming community with each other – thejewishchronicle.net

Danya Shults Photo by Bridget Badore

Julianne was raised by Catholic and Presbyterian parents, while Jason grew up culturally Jewish. At first, it was simple to mark their different backgrounds. In December, the couple celebrated Christmas with Juliannes relatives and lit a menorah and served latkes at Christmas dinner.

But now that theyre thinking of having kids, the Kanters have started to talk religion more seriously. And they realized they needed a space to learn about Judaism without the expectations that came with joining a synagogue.

To talk about how are we going to incorporate Judaism into our lives what does that mean? What will that look like? Julianne Kanter said. I didnt know enough about it to feel comfortable teaching my kids about it.

Since last year, the Kanters have found Jewish connection through a range of initiatives targeted at intermarried or unaffiliated couples. Last June, they went on a trip with Honeymoon Israel, a Birthright-esque subsidized tour of Israel for newlywed couples with at least one Jewish partner. And in the months since, they have built community at home in Brooklyn through two discussion groups where intermarried couples get together to meet, eat and talk about shared challenges and experiences.

In one group, called the Couples Salon, five to six couples sharea light meal, introduce themselves and drop questions they have prepared in advance into a bowl. A moderator who can also participate picks out a question and the group talks whether about how to deal with familial expectations, how to celebrate holidays or how to share a ritual with your kids. The salons have happened once a month, with different couples, since August.

We wanted the perspective of people who were in similar situations, which the synagogue is not, Jason Kanter said. It was nice to go to a group where everyone was in the same sort of boat. Theres real dialogue rather than someone telling you their opinion of what your situation is.

A growing number of initiatives are giving intermarried couples a Jewish framework disconnected from synagogue services and outside the walls of legacy Jewish institutions. Instead of drawing them to Judaism with a preconceived goal, these programs allow intermarried couples to form community among themselves and on their own terms.

I wanted to find a way to create a space for couples that come from mixed religious backgrounds to ask questions in a safe space, said Danya Shults, who runs the Couples Salons as part of Arq, a Jewish culture group, and organized her fifth salon earlier this month. Im not a synagogue. Im not expecting them to join. Im not expecting them to convert.

The salons began last year, as did Circles of Welcome, a similar initiative by JCC Manhattan, where five to seven intermarried or unaffiliated couple meets monthly, usually in someones home, to learn and talk about Judaism with a rabbi or rabbinical student who serves as mentor. In Northern Californias Bay Area, two somewhat older programs, Jewish Gateways and Building Jewish Bridges, offer group discussions, classes and communal gatherings for intermarried couples.

The programs are at once a reaction to rising intermarriage rates and to the rejection that intermarried couples have long experienced from parts of the Jewish community. While most Jews married since 2000 have wedded non-Jews, the Conservative and Orthodox movements do not sanctionintermarriage, while the Reform movement, the most welcoming to intermarrieds of the three largest Jewish denominations, encourages conversion for the non-Jewish spouse.

Because of the history of interfaith families not being welcomed and not being accepted that has meant, in some instances, for interfaith families that want to experience Jewish life, they have to figure that out using other resources, said Jodi Bromberg, CEO of InterfaithFamily, which provides resources for intermarried couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities.

Often, said Honeymoon Israel co-CEO Avi Rubel, intermarried couples also have friends from a range of backgrounds. So theyre uncomfortable with settings that, by their nature, are not meant for non-Jews.

When it comes to building community and meeting other people, people want to bring their whole selves into something, Rubel said. Which often in America means being inclusive of non-Jews and other friends. When theyre at a Jewish event, they dont want it to feel exclusionary.

Mainstream Jewish organizations have become more supportive of including intermarried families. Several Conservative rabbis have voiced support for performing intermarriages, and the movement is set to allow its congregations to accept intermarried couples as synagogue members. Honeymoon Israel, launched in 2015, is funded by various family foundations and Jewish federations.

But organizers of the independent initiatives, and intermarried couples themselves, say even a welcoming synagogue can still be an intimidating space. The couples may not know the prayers or rituals, may feel uncomfortable with the expectation of becoming members, or may just feel like theyre in the minority.

Its a privilege of inmarried Jews with children in any social circumstance, said Steven M. Cohen, a Jewish social policy professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, referring to synagogue membership. The people that fit the demographic of the active group are the people who feel most welcome.

Rabbi Avram Mlotek, a Circles of Welcome mentor and Orthodox rabbi, says his movements staunch opposition to intermarriage doesnt come into play as he teaches couples about Judaism.

Because of my own commitment to my understanding of halacha, there will be areas in which the couples and I will not see eye to eye, he said, using a Hebrew term for Jewish law. But thats like the 10th or 15th conversation. Thats not the first or second or third or even fifth. Theres so much more to learn about them, and for me to be able to share also about myself, before even getting to that point.

That doesnt mean intermarried Jews will remain forever separate, said Rabbi Miriam Farber Wajnberg, who runs Circles of Welcome at the JCC Manhattan. She sees the program as a stepping stone to a time when the larger community is more open to non-Jewish spouses.

We expect and hope that this program wont need to exist in the future, that we wont need to create a special program to help couples get access to Jewish life, she said. It will just be happening automatically.

But Julianne Kanter, who facilitated her own Couples Salon on Feb. 8, isnt sweating over which synagogue to join. She said that for now, she and her husband feel a sense of belonging in the intermarried groups that have formed.

To me, I feel like these are the people who get us, she said. This is our community, and were just really lucky.

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Outside the synagogue, intermarried are forming community with each other – thejewishchronicle.net

Film ‘feastival’ features Polish synagogue’s rebuilding – The Recorder

Its a cooperative building project, like a barn-raising, that gets artists Rick and Laura Brown to bring together more than 300 students and building professionals from 16 countries over 10 years in Sanok, Poland.

Together, theyre reconstructing the Gwozdziec Synagogue, with its elaborate roof and painted ceiling one of many 18th-century wooden Jewish houses of worship destroyed or desecrated during the Holocaust.

The exhaustive and detailed work logging, hewing, sawing and carving, as well as building and re-creating the synagogues ornate, colorful murals are captured in the film Raise the Roof, to be shown Saturday at 7:30 as part of Temple Israels Embracing Diversity Film Feastival.

The film showing, which is free and open to the public, will be preceded by a 6:30 nosh and chat.

The dedication in restoring by hand the magnificent structure using old tools and techniques to revive Gwozdziecs history, culture and science reflects the work of Temple Israels Cultural Programs Committee to build not only the Greenfield synagogues community, but the greater Greenfield community as well, says an organizer of this second festival presentation.

Temple Israel, with an internal Israel Dialogue Project, a refugee resettlement effort and a new program to build a sustainable-neighborhood community, in December launched what Culture Programs spokesman Daniel Yalowitz called an inclusive kind of a film series for the wider community to view films that really told a story about inclusiveness, the challenges to inclusiveness, what does diversity mean, what are the conflicts embedded in diversity, the struggles and also the joys of bringing people together.

We wanted to bring anyone whos interested together, first for a social hour of connection, with refreshments, the film showing, and then a discussion afterwards based on themes and issues brought up, so that people can really focus on listening to one another, hearing different points of view and perspectives and bringing the larger community to look at what diversity means and how we talk about it ourselves, at a time when there are all kinds of splinter groups and so on.

Yalowitz added, We want people to feel comfortable and safe talking about diversity in all of its aspects, both the comfortable and safe aspects and the challenging and difficult ones, where conflict comes up.

That was certainly the case in Poland, which prior to World War II was home to 3.5 million Jews, more than 90 percent of whom perished in the Holocaust.

Poland is a country where many folks have history and heritage, said Yalowitz, speaking for not only the Jewish community but also Franklin County as a whole. We want to take time on one evening to really remember that and bring it forward. The meta-story were going for is what does it really take to build a community, to come together to raise a building?

The film focuses on the metaphor of the Gwozdziec synagogues reconstruction, with a magnificent roof that was unveiled in 2014 as the centerpiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

We selected this film because of its beauty, poignancy and relevance to so many in the Greater Greenfield community with roots in Poland, says a flier for the event, to which the Rev. Stanley Askamit of Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church and church members have been invited, in particular. Its message and visuals are potent reminders for us today, of our need to live in peace, of the importance of building and maintaining our communities and our need to remain open to one another.

On the Web:

polishsynagogue.com

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Film ‘feastival’ features Polish synagogue’s rebuilding – The Recorder

Trump speaks out against attacks on Jews and shooting of Indian immigrants – Los Angeles Times

President Trump condemned attacks against Jews and Indian immigrantsduring the opening of hisspeech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress, callingthem examples of”hate and evil.”

Trump also spoke out against recent vandalism that damaged hundreds of headstones at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and outside St. Louis.

“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” Trump said.

The president has been under mounting pressure to address the nearly 100 bomb threats against Jewish community centers, schools, Anti-Defamation League offices and other Jewish institutions since Jan.9.

All of the threats have been hoaxes.

He’s also been criticized for not forcefully condemning a racially motivatedattackagainst two Indian immigrants last week in Olathe, Kan.,that left one dead.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot Feb. 21 at a restaurant. The suspect, 51-year-oldAdam Purinton, allegedlyyelled, “Get out of my country!” before the shooting in at Austin’s Bar and Grill in the Kansas City suburb on Feb. 21.

A man who tried to come to the victims’ aid,24-year-old Ian Grillot, 24, was also wounded.

In a 911 recording, authorities said, Purinton told anApplebees bartender who called police about the incident that he thought he was shooting at Iranians.

The remarks on anti-Jewish violence were not Trump’s first. He addressed the issue on Feb. 21 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he called anti-Semitism “horrible” and “painful.”

But Jewish groups have called on the president to go further by announcing a federal plan to combat anti-Semitism.

Trump has had a tenserelationship to American Jews and minority groups.

During thecampaign, he retweeted posts from white nationalists and was accused of using anti-Semitic language and imagery .

Jewish groups criticized the White House when administration officials said the president intentionally did not mention Jews in a statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Daylast month.

Criticism increased after weeks passed without him addressing bomb threats at Jewish centers before his remarks at the Washington museum.

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Trump speaks out against attacks on Jews and shooting of Indian immigrants – Los Angeles Times

NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Awarded MLK Prize in Jerusalem – Forward

On Sunday, former NBA player and now Israeli basketball star Amare Stoudemire, was awarded Israels Martin Luther King Jr. Award, given to individuals who embody the spirit and ideals of Dr. King.

I am truly honored to be receiving this amazing award, said Stoudemire, who signed a two-year contract with Israels Hapoel Jerusalem club last year. In a video to his Instagram followers, Stoudemire stood against the night skyline of Jerusalem and described the award as honoring my courage to be an Israelite and also to be able to work and talk about equality to all nations.

Every Black History Month, the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the State of Israel give out this award to individuals who promote diversity and tolerance, a press release read.

Amare Stoudemire paints with children in Chicago last year as part of his In The Paint series, which combines sports and art activities.

Stoudemire runs the Amare and Alexis Stoudemire Foundation with his wife, Alexis which supports at-risk youth around the world, according to the foundationss website.

In Israel, Stoudemire is continuing his philanthropic work. He hosted a basketball peace camp this summer, which drew participants from a range of distinct Israeli communities, including Palestinians, Hebrew Israelites and Ethiopian Jews. Stoudemire also hosted another childrens camp at the Israel Museum, part of an annual series called In The Paint, which joins together basketball and art activities.

Israeli officials lauded Stoudemire.

Stoudemire has again set an example that sportsmanship supersedes nationality, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of Jewish National Fund-USA. Robinson said that all of these qualities are welcome in Israel, a country he called a beacon of democracy in an otherwise turbulent part of the world.

Amare Stoudemire has spearheaded many initiatives that empower the less fortunate and advance important principles like tolerance, peace, creativity and healthy living, said Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York.

Past recipients of Israels MLK Award have included former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the author Toni Morrison, entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Harry Belafonte.

When Stoudemire signed his deal with Hapoel in early August moving to Jerusalem with his entire family his spiritual and professional paths converged.

Stoudemire has been on a years long journey into religion and heritage, a path that has fascinated, and at times bewildered, American Jews and Israelis. He is not Jewish, as some continue to report, but a Hebrew Israelite meaning he views the Torah as an ancestral record of African Americans, and sees the land of Israel as part of his heritage.

Stoudemire poses in an Instagram photo, wearing a fur and a piece of jewelry modeled on the priestly breastplate of ancient Israelites.

Stoudemire maintains close ties with the Hebrew Israelites of Dimona, and even executive produced a documentary film about that community. Stoudemire regularly peppers his social media with biblical quotes.

If your ancestors were brought to America, or any other part of the world by slave ship, you are from the ancient tribe of the Hebrew Israelites, Stoudemire said in a February 2016 YouTube video alongside a Hebrew Israelite pastor in Chicago. This is black history, this is true black history.

Despite the praise from Israeli officials, since the move to Jerusalem Stoudemire has faced some adversity.

The Stoudemires 12-year-old son, Deuce, was barred from playing games with Hapoel Jerusalems youth team because he is not an Israeli citizen. Deuce was invited to play baseball instead.

Stoudemire has also clashed with Israeli basketball referees on a number of occasions, even taking to social media to rail against the officials. I have witnessed the worst officiating in the world of basketball, Stoudemire wrote on Instagram. Way to discourage other top players from coming to play in Israel.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Awarded MLK Prize in Jerusalem – Forward

Torah portion: The importance of humility – Jewish Journal

When we confront the emotions and arguments around the politics of Israel, we rarely square off with the rigorous biblical claims that undergird the Zionist project and, by extension, the Jewish state itself but we probably should. The Israeli Declaration of Independence refers to the Bible, even though the nascent democracy represented a predominantly secular population. It invokes the biblical legacy of the Jews in their historical land, and it looks forward to peace and justice as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.

All the same, the document seems to exhibit mixed feelings about our biblically based rights to the Land of Israel. Though it refers to the history of biblical authorship, it avoids adopting the biblical claim that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. American Jews seem to avoid the claim as well. According to the Pew Research Centers 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans, fewer than half of us (40 percent) actually believe that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people in the first place. Thats 4 percent fewer than Christian Americans who believe it, but its high enough to imply some notable ambivalence.

Meanwhile, Jews still very much believe in God, depending on the context. According to the Pew study, 72 percent of all Jews believe, with some degree of certainty, in God, including 45 percent of those who define themselves as Jews of no religion. Nevertheless, Jews are among the most strongly liberal, Democratic groups in U.S. politics, according to the same study. As such, we tend to embrace secular social views and to be suspicious of religion in the public sphere.

In short, as we tangle over Israeli politics, even among ourselves, our recent history and our current makeup discourage voicing the explicitly biblical or theological argument for Israels existence, even if, deep down, many of us believe in it (either literally or figuratively). Against this backdrop, this weeks Torah portion, Eikev, bursts onto the scene, and its aggressive message seems to tip the scales of our ambivalence against broadcasting the biblical argument.

Eikev focuses on one of our civilizations central covenantal blessings: The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill (Deuteronomy 8:7). But the promise is not innocuous at least not to the inhabitants of the land whom the Israelites will displace and destroy. The Lord your God will dislodge those peoples before you little by little. He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall obliterate their name from under the heavens (Deuteronomy 7:22-24).

Jews of all political stripes have long held the position that Israel seeks peace; one could forgive them for not citing Eikev. But embedded in the parsha, certain countervailing messages qualify the disturbingly violent ones. First, Eikev unstintingly insists on humility. Moses admonishes all of us to beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget the Lord your God who freed you from the land of Egypt and you say to yourselves, My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me (Deuteronomy 8:14-17). And this humility is not merely theoretical; it is intended to shape our behavior, to befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Second, the conquest of the land belongs in the context of a covenant defined by specific terms. As such, God takes care to stipulate the consequences for failure to fulfill those terms. If the Israelites abandon their unique obligations, you will soon perish from the good land that the Lord is assigning to you (Deuteronomy 11:17).

The great interpreter of Torah, Moses Nahmanides (11941270), emphasizes this theme of moral and covenantal responsibility. He cites both Psalms and the rabbis to remind us that God chased out those who rebelled against Him, and settled in His servants [in their place] and if they sin against Him, the land will vomit them up as it vomited up the nation before them.

American Jews, in their great majority, will not likely resort to biblical passages to justify their political stances on contemporary Israel, but ambivalence about theology-based politics need not be not the only reason for that reticence.

If we take our Torah mandate seriously, even if only privately, then it forces a highly nuanced and deeply committed ethic of stewardship, which resists easy nationalism or cherry-picked scriptural quotations. We should appreciate even celebrate the fact that Torah itself, the very foundation for Israels existence, also presents us with tremendous political and moral demands. In the end, it is to our credit that we learn and grapple with it a great deal, but also cite it with care.

Joshua Holo is dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

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Torah portion: The importance of humility – Jewish Journal

Four Questions for Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat – Publishers Weekly

For many years, Michael Bornstein, one of the youngest prisoners liberated from Auschwitz, at age four, was reticent about telling his survival story, even among his immediate family. But the discovery of a photograph of himself as a boy distorted in the hands of Holocaust deniers spurred Bornstein and daughter Debbie Bornstein Holinstat to set the record straight. Their middle grade memoir, Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, brings together Michaels first-person recollections and interviews with fellow survivors. The Bornsteins spoke with PW about the process of remembering and reconstructing a traumatic past, and the urgency of documenting the Holocaust for future generations.

Why did you feel compelled to share your story at this time?

Michael: Holocaust survivors are getting older and I think the story needs to be told. My daughter Debbie and I were searching for my photo and found a message from the Deniers Club.

Debbie: The Holocaust Revisionist Forum used my fathers photo to imply that Jews were liars when they said that children were killed on arrival [at Auschwitz]. They used the photo to show how healthy kids were at liberation.

Michael: When I saw that, I slammed my hand down. Its ridiculous to make comments like that. Over one million people were killed in Auschwitz alone. But I guess they have an audience. The other reason is that my children and grandchildren implored me to talk about it more. When I came to the U.S., I could hardly speak English, and I had a tattoo, and I looked odd. Now my kids want to know more. I have four kids and 11 grandkids, and they all encouraged me to go on.

Debbie: He didnt talk about it when he got here. He couldve spoken about it when my siblings and I were growing up. I think he wanted to shelter me from the worlds atrocities. I think in some ways it was easier to forget.

Michael: My mother had a saying, gam zeh yaavor, this too shall pass. Whenever things are bad we look forward to the future.

What was it like collaborating as father and daughter on such a personal and painful testimony?

Michael: Debbie is a fantastic writer. Between Debbie and my wife Judy and me, we found things from diaries, and translations in Hebrew, from relatives and friends. And it was a very good experience. One of the important things I found was information about my father. My father was president of the Judenratand was selected by the Nazis and the Jewish people to represent them. Though it was sometimes a very negative position, my father used it to save people. He set up soup kitchens. He was a very good man.

Debbie: It was very difficult to have these conversations with my dad and to see him struggle to find the words, and sometimes the memories. At the end, were both very happy we did this. At some moments, he had concernsthat putting out a book like this would make us a target for Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitism. But now the story is added to the record permanently. And we cant forget, or history is bound to repeat.

How did the limitations of memory color your writing?

Debbie: There were places where I had to take some license to imagine how a conversation happened. Luckily we had enough pieces to put together the story of my fathers survival. My father had filmed my grandmother at the very end of her life talking about her experience. And we found writings, Hebrew essays, of what happened in the town of arki [in Poland] where they lived. We had them translated. They gave incredible detail of what happened to my fathers familyhis family was prominent in the community. My father missed the death march because he was too sick to march. It was difficult. Sometimes it was me telling my father what had happened to him. Then he was able to fill in the gaps.

Michael: My mother told a story of what happened at Auschwitz. The normal survival rate for children was about two weeks. But I managed to survive. One reason was my mother. In the childrens bunk, the older children were also starving. They took my bread away. My mother came into my bunk, giving me some of her bread and soup. But she was beaten over the head. She showed us the marks on her forehead. There were other instances. When the Nazis came into arki, they had a whole family dig a grave. Then they had them huddle together and shot them and put them in the grave. Its startling to imagine, but it happened.

Is there an appropriate age to introduce the history of the Holocaust to young people?

Debbie: Im the mother of three kids. And this is the first time Ive written a book. I had to trust Macmillan and the incredible people at FSG. And they felt it was suitable for middle grade readers. Kids need to hear about this when theyre young. They should be shocked and horrified, and it should be incomprehensible to a certain extent. They should never forget. Ive since encouraged friends to show the book to their kids. It opens up difficult but important conversations. My son was 10 when I started writing. I used him as a sounding board to make sure the words were digestible for middle grade readers, but also that the concepts were digestible. That also makes it a quick, fluid, and digestible read for adults.

Michael: Especially with the current politics going on, and the alternative right, the book is very timely. Adults seem as interested as children in the message and the information.

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 Mar. ISBN 978-0-374-30571-0

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Four Questions for Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat – Publishers Weekly