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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The professor was accepted. No problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get your reservations in for Israel tour now – –

Now that David Friedmans nomination as the new U.S. ambassador to Israel is heading to the U.S. Senate for confirmation, the time is now to get registered for 2017s historic WND Israel tour this November.

Friedman is expected to the address the group along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the new relationship developing between President Trumps administration and the Jewish state.

Benjamin Netanyahu

This is going to be a very different and very exciting tour, said WND founder, Editor and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah, who has led tours to Israel the last five years. It will still very much be a spiritual pilgrimage, but 2017 marks a major shift in the political landscape between the two countries, and we wanted to add that special dynamic to the trip this year.

Friedman was approved for a confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel Thursday morning by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 12-9 bipartisan vote. The approval sends the nomination the full Senate where he is expected to be confirmed with significant opposition from Democrats.

By joining this tour, you will be among the first American groups to experience this new climate of partnership between the U.S. and Israel following the Trump Revolution, said Farah. This is something I am looking forward to personally with great anticipation. In fact, Ive been waiting for this for 28 years.

David M. Friedman

November may seem far away, but, in some previous years, registration has been cut off as early as June. To accommodate WNDs special guests, logistics will be more complicated than ever because Israel does not have an abundance of facilities that can handle groups of more than 400 people. Farah cautions the time to register is now.

Friedman is an invited keynote speaker in November on WNDs annual Israel tour, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And dont forget, this is the one and only U.S. tour of Israel that comes with the endorsement of Chuck Norris.

I would encourage everyone to check out WNDs Journey to the Holy Land from Nov. 2-12, 2017, led by our friend, Joseph Farah, who is the founder, editor and chief executive officer of WND, Norris said.Hes also an expert on Israel and the Middle East. Bibi and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman have been invited to speak to the tour group, and I hope they do. Check out the educational and inspiring itinerary here.

For the fifth year in a row, WND will be leading one of the largest annual tours of Israel from Nov. 2-12 with the emphasis in 2017 on the restoration of U.S.-Israel relations and the deepening relationship between Jews and Christians.

Farah is looking forward to teaching from his latest book, the unusual prophetic thriller The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age, whichfocuses on what it will be like when Messiah Jesus returns to rule and reign the world from Jerusalem.

What a time to go to Israel whether its the first time or the perfect seventh, says Farah. President Trump and his new ambassador-in-waiting are talking about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. That could happen before we get there. Thats why this is a historic time.

Accompanying Farah will be his wife, Elizabeth, who co-founded WND with him 20 years ago on May 4 three days after Israels Independence Day is celebrated there in 2017.

We will joined by the absolute best Israeli guides in the business experts on the land, the people, the Bible and the intersection of all three in the greatest controversy in the world today, said Farah. These top guides have been screened and handpicked from among dozens the WND tours have worked with over the last five years. If you want to explore Bible prophecy, the current Middle East conflict and get to know and understand why Israel remains the apple of Gods eye in the world today, this is the tour for you.

The tour will include all the key sites, strategic briefings by the top U.S. and Israeli experts, musical guests, insightful talks and lively discussions all featuring the incomparable Jewish state and its people.

Trust me, this is like no other Israel tour you will ever experience. You will learn why Israel is so important to God and how this relates to you, as a Christian believer in Jesus-Yeshua, the Savior of the world, the future King of Kings, the Lamb of God and the future Lion of Judah, says Farah.

You will hear from top Israeli leaders, military brass and see with your own eyes why the Jewish state is so strategically positioned in the hotbed of the Middle East.

Nothing brings you closer to Jesus-Yeshua than a trip to the land and to Jerusalem, where He walked and preached and from where He will reign supreme over the whole world in the coming Kingdom, says Farah. Whether youve been to Israel before or not, prepare for the most politically exciting and spiritually meaningful adventure of your life.

Elizabeth Farah will oversee a Sabbath service and teach everyone some elemental Hebrew, while sharing her passion for Israel.

Joseph Farah will share his insights spiritually as well as draw from his unique experience as an Arab-American and former Middle East correspondent.

Seriously, It will be a most exciting time to visit Israel this fall as there are new political realities at play a new administration in the U.S. with a markedly different view of Israel and the Middle East than its predecessor, Farah says. Its a historic moment. Its a biblical moment.

Check out the itinerary all the details now!

Talk to your fantastic tour hosts in Israel at Coral Tours now (866) 267-2511.

THIS year in Jerusalem.

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Get your reservations in for Israel tour now – –

Lior Ashkenazi takes a look at ‘Norman’ – Israel News – Jerusalem Post – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Meeting Lior Ashkenazi, who stars in Joseph Cedars new movie, Norman, with Richard Gere, brings to mind Albert Camus famous quote: You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked a clear question.

Norman opened Thursday in theaters throughout Israel, and Ashkenazi who truly never needs to ask a clear question unless he feels like it sat down for an interview at the Diaghilev Hotel in Tel Aviv earlier last week.

Ashkenazi plays Micha Eshel, an Israeli politician who accepts a favor from Geres character, Norman (the subtitle of the movie is The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer), then gets drawn into Normans schemes after he becomes prime minister. Its an unusual mixture of comedy and tragedy with parallels to many current news stories.

Ive seen many situations like that from the world of celebrities, said Ashkenazi, who could easily have coasted on the charm and looks he was born with he combines the face and physique of a Greek god with the slightly befuddled expression of a hero in a Woody Allen comedy, and to say that this works for him is an understatement but has focused on his acting, and is now one of Israels most acclaimed actors.

Someone gives you something and you pay for it by posing for a photo, he said.

Ashkenazi has been a celebrity for years, thanks to acting, which has put him at the center of the renaissance in Israeli movies over the past decade and a half. Among his most important movies are Dover Koshashvilis A Late Wedding, which ushered in the trend of stories about outsiders in Israel, in this case, Georgians (and which features the most sizzling sex scene in Israeli movies, with Ashkenazi and the late Ronit Elkabetz); Eytan Foxs Walk on Water, in which Ashkenazi plays a tightly wound Mossad agent who befriends a gay man; Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushados two gory psychological thrillers Rabies and Big Bad Wolves (which Quentin Tarantino called the best film of the year), where the actor portrays disturbed, violent cops; and Cedars previous film, the Oscar-nominated Footnote, in which, cast against type, Ashkenazi plays a Talmud scholar locked into a rivalry with his father.

He is especially pleased with his work with Cedar, which he sees as a true collaboration, especially with Norman.

When I came into Footnote, the script was pretty much finished, he said. But on Norman, I was more involved… Its a complicated story, with so many implications. And it was a script Joseph was working on for a long time, and he really involves the actors in the work, it was wonderful. Its a complicated story and it was woven together so carefully.

Cedar challenged me… Hes intellectual and you have to be alert. He can talk about so many things and you have to know what they are.

Working with Gere also upped his game.

There was the excitement of Im working with Richard Gere!, and then he is a colleague, we work together, we eat together, we talked about his choices… He works very hard, hes a very method actor, very concentrated. Between takes, hes focused, he doesnt fool around… You think of him as a leading man, from Pretty Woman and movies like that. But he is very serious, although of course hes also very charismatic… He brings out an elegance in the character.

ANY MOVIE about politics will invite questions about how much it is based on reality, and Ashkenazi was very clear about how he sees his character.

People say, Is it Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu]? No, its not him. In a way, its a combination of several prime ministers and politicians, where theyre in the right place at the right time and suddenly theyre popular… And the politicians, no matter how popular they are… there is always someone behind them, someone they are indebted to.

In order to hone his characterization Ashkenazi tried to meet with politicians, but was disappointed to discover that when they heard the synopsis, they all refused…you could do a copy-paste from the headlines into the script and that made them uncomfortable, apparently.

Ashkenazi sees Norman as something more than just a political story.

Its about friendship, he said. Its about how you know if someone is really a friend, or you wonder whether hes just someone who needs something from you… In Norman, theres a lot of ambivalence, and its left open: does he love Norman, or is Norman just someone who can do things for him? Ashkenazi, who was born in Ramat Gan to Ladino-speaking parents from Turkey, said he came to acting in that cliche way; I was always the class clown.

Inspired by Burt Lancaster movies, which he enjoyed watching with his father, and the work of Robert De Niro, he studied acting at Beit Zvi. Although he is proud he has never had a day job since he finished school, when some of his early plays were not the hits he had hoped they would be, he enrolled in a computer science course.

But after one lesson, I understood its not for me. And he has never looked back, moving gradually from theater to film as the movie industry flourished.

After his films were shown at festivals around the world, there was the temptation of trying to go to Hollywood, but he resisted it.

If I go there, I would always be foreign, I would always have an accent, he said. I cant see myself going on auditions in LA.

Surprisingly, Ashkenazi said he was terrible at auditions.

But some foreign directors have come calling recently. After the interview, he was off to work on an international movie, Entebbe, about the hijacking and rescue mission in 1976, which is shooting a few scenes here.

The film, which Jos Padilha, the creator of the television series Narcos, is directing, also stars Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl. Once again, Ashkenazi will play a prime minister, but this time a real one: Yitzhak Rabin.

Portraying a real prime minister, and such a revered one, he says, can be a burden.

Im not doing an imitation of Rabin, he said. Im in a story about this rescue mission and Im playing the prime minister who ordered it.

He is also in Julie Deplys movie My Zoe and he plays a Jewish reporter from New York in Dragos Buligas vampire movie, The Wanderers. He will play a Mossad agent in Sarajevo in a film by Tony Kaye, who made American History X.

But Israeli cinema remains key for Ashkenazi and he has roles in upcoming films by Eran Riklis (The Syrian Bride) and Shmuelik Maoz (Lebanon). Although he is no longer performing in the theater, he has been directing plays for some time, and is now directing his first short film. Its based on a play and tells the story of a driving instructor giving a test who voices regrets about his life to a student. Ashkenazi has chosen not to act in this project and it stars Menashe Noy as the instructor and Moran Rosen as the student.

But although directing beckons, he said he wouldnt give up acting anytime soon.

This is always was what Ive really wanted to do.

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Lior Ashkenazi takes a look at ‘Norman’ – Israel News – Jerusalem Post – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Women and Purim, Women and Torah: Our Method to Further Chinuch for our Daughters – The Jewish Press –

Photo Credit: Ernest Normand (1888)

Why CyberSem and what does our online seminary intent to impart upon the girls and women who engage our new and invigorating learning method for generations of Jewish females who may otherwise have a more difficult time accessing Torah study regularly? The answer is basic enough, and the miracle of Purim helps shed some light.

Women have been recognized as having actively participated in miracles of many Jewish holidays, but their efforts leading up to the events of Purim in old-time Persia are outstanding.

The Talmud tractate of Megillah tells us that women are obliged to hear Megilat Esther because they were also present at the time of the Purim miracle. The Rashbam adds that this is such because Hamans decree was also directed against the women and predominantly the miracle happened through Esthers involvement. Where else do we see that an entire holiday is attributed to the woman who was so pivotal in the success of the miracle? On Passover when we know that in the merit of the righteous women the Jewish people was redeemed from Egypt, the hero of the event is still Moshe. Yehudit did wonderful things on Chanukah but she is only remembered as one of the many characters of the Chanukah story. When Esther asked the Sages to allow her story to become one of the books of the Tanach, they agreed, hence the name Megilat Esther.

It is written in the Midrash Esther Rabbah, that Hamans decree was abolished because Mordechai gathered twenty-two thousand children and taught them Torah. Mordechai was the leader of the generation, but he did not delegate the instruction of the small children to anyone else. He taught them himself. This underlines the critical importance of Chinuch. It is this model of Chinuch that provides the best foundation for a small child to begin his/her life with. Traditionally, as the sages say the Talmud, Brachot, that it is the woman who is trusted with the task of guiding, directing and teaching her children. Whether the father learns, or is a businessman, his time at home to discipline and teach the children is limited. As soon as the child is born, it is the mother who supervises the development of her children and directs them in the right path.

Going deeper yetLooking at the difference between Chanukah and Purim we discover that the decree of Chanukah was essentially one that attacked the spiritual connection between the Jewish people and G-d, whereas Purim was a physical threat to the Jewish people as a nation. The Rambam puts this into sharp perspective perhaps contrary to what we may think. In his work Hilchot Deot The Laws of Personal Development, the Rambam writes that keeping the body healthy and complete is amongst the ways of serving G-d. When utilizing the body to do a mitzvah, one reaches to and touches the essence of G-dliness.

Small children possess the same deep connection with Hashem. In the posuk in Parshat Truma, God commands the Jewish nation to build Him a tabernacle and Hewill dwell in them. This command implies that there is already a nation for Hashem to dwell amongst. Although the building of the tabernacle/temple is great, interrupting the study of young children is forbidden even for them to help in its construction. Why? Because the temple needs a people, a nation, and the childrens learning generates the perpetuation of that nation. Clearly a priority.

Now we can understand that when Haman announced the decree to kill the Jewish people, the remedy was to strengthen the Jewish children and teach them Torah in its purest form. The Shlah Hakadosh emphasizes that the major part of the Chinuch of the children is done by women, as they are the natural nurturers of children to set them on the correct path for a lifetime of Torah observant people.

This is the paradigm of self-regulated learning, the personal internalization of the lesson. At CyberSem women are engaged in learning Torah based subjects with the focus on stimulating their personal bond with the material combined with individual improvement in education and learning in general. It is a modern way of interfacing with our ancient and principal beliefs, and it helps women, arguably our most important assets for furthering Jewish life to our children, access Torah and learn in environments where time and availability is often hard to come by.

Chag Purim Sameach.

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Women and Purim, Women and Torah: Our Method to Further Chinuch for our Daughters – The Jewish Press –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michaud said police did not have a suspect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Sephardi studies scholar sees preserving Ladino as an ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Devin Naar says Ladino connects Jews with Latinos and Muslims, two communities he considers marginalized in Trumps America. (Meryl Schenker Photography/The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at Washington University)

(JTA) One-year-old Vidal doesnt know the significance behind the lullaby his father sings him at bedtime. He knows it helps him fall asleep, but notthat the Ladino song is part of an effort to teach himwhat served asthe lingua franca of Sephardi Jews of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years.

And he doesnt know that whenhe says his first words, he will join a shrinking cadre of Ladino speakers, most of them elderly, who hold the keys to a culture that is on the brink of extinction.

To lose a language is to lose a world, and were on the cusp of that,his father, Devin Naar, told JTA.

Naar, a professor of Sephardic studies at the University of Washington, is deeply passionate about preserving Ladino which is also known as Judeo-Spanish, Judezmo or Judio the language his grandfathers family spoke in their native Greece. By teaching Vidal Ladino, Naar hopes to fulfill a longtime dream of transmitting itslegacyto his son.

In recent months, theres something else at stake too. The 33-year-old Seattle resident sees the linguistic roots of Ladino, which include Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic, as providing a way to connect Jews with Latinos and Muslims.Preserving Ladino is a specific political act of resistance in Trumps America, Naar said.

Its a language of linguistic fusion that is based in Spanish but really brings together a lot of other linguistic elements that I think give it a special resonance, especially in todays world, because it serves as bridge language between different cultures between Jewish culture, between Spanish culture and between the Muslim world, Naar said.

President Donald Trump has signed executive orders to builda wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to banimmigrants from some Muslim majority countries.

If Trump is interested in building a wall, Judezmo serves as a bridge, and I think that we need bridges such as this in our time, Naarsaid.

Naars grandfather came to the United States with most of his familyin 1924 from Salonica, Greece, in the midst of discriminatory measures being passed against Jews there. Family members left behind later perished inthe Holocaust, along with 95 percent of the citys Jews.

In the U.S., there were other difficulties. Naars grandfather heard anti-Semitic slurs and other insults from bigots who mistook him forSouth American or Middle Eastern.

Speaking Ladino serves as a method of reclaiming that heritage and activating that heritage not only for personal and family reasons but for political reasons, Naar said.

Devin Naars grandfather, far right, in Salonica, Greece, in the early 1920s, before they moved to the U.S. (Courtesy of Naar)

Ladino emerged following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, when the communitydispersed throughout the Ottoman Empire and came in contact with local languages as well as different Iberian dialects. At its height in the beginning of the 20th century, the languagehad abouthalf a million speakers, Naar estimated.

Estimates of current Ladino speakers vary widely, from between 160,000-300,000 people with some familiarity withthe language to around 50,000-100,000 speakers. Most of the population today is elderly, but there is renewedinterest in the language in some universities in the U.S. and Israel as well asamong Sephardi Jews.

Teaching VidalLadino has its challenges there is no complete English-Ladino dictionary and most speakers are older.Naarwas recently reading Vidal a childrens book about a dinosaur with slippery flippers and found himselfat a loss for how to translate that expression into Ladino. He consulted a scholar in Israel and a local Ladino speaker to get it right.

Its a learning process for me, both speaking to him and recognizing the limits of my vocabulary and trying to expand my vocabulary, Naarsaid.

But he isnt alone. Naar enlisted the help of a Seattle-basedgroup of elderly Ladino speakers, who translated Little Red Riding Hood into the language as a gift to Vidal. And his wife, Andrea, speaks to their sonin a mix of English, Spanish and Ladino.

Rachel Amado Bortnick, the founder of an online community for Ladino speakers, told JTA thatshe had only heard of one other casein the last decade of a child being taught to speak Ladino.

Theres no community that uses it daily its very challenging, to put it mildly, to actually pass on the language in the way that a person like me grew up in, said Bortnick, who learned Ladino as a child in her native Turkey.

Naars interest in the language goes back to his family history. He grew up hearing his grandfather and older relatives speak the language.

But by the time he started college in 2001, he had only learned a few words: greetings, curses, food-related words and liturgical passages. Questions from classmates about his last name, which did not sound like the Ashkenazi Jewish names they were familiar with, motivated him to dig deeper into his heritage.

He started studying Sephardi history and asked his grandfather to teach him Ladino.

A year later, Naar was able to read letters detailing the fate of family members who had perished in Auschwitz. The letters, written in Ladino by a family friend after World War II, had been tucked away in a closet, and some of Naars family members had been unaware of their existence and the details they provided ofthe deaths of family members.

The older generation, they couldnt believe it. They hadnt heard somebody speak like that in years, so that was very powerful for me, Naar said.

Now hes doing his part to pass the language on to the next generation and with it, a set of values.

One of my goals in trying to teach Vidal Ladino would be so that he has a sense of connection and awareness, not only of where he comes from, but also how the culture that he is connected to is connected to many other people, so that if he sees that immigrants in general or Spanish-speaking immigrants or Muslims in America are being maligned, I hope that he would be inspired to stand up.

Devin Naar is reading his son, Vidal, childrens books in Ladino as well as translating books from English into the language. (Courtesy of Naar)

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This Sephardi studies scholar sees preserving Ladino as an ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

The Wonderful Cholent: A Story of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Volozhin – Boulder Jewish News

Heres a story youve been waiting all year to hear. Its from the nineteenth century and concerns Reb Chaim Soloveitchik of Volozhin, a city in what is now Belarus. Reb Chaim later moved to Brest, called Brisk by Jews, and was the grandfather of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchikcalled the Ravone of the most important Orthodox rabbis of the twentieth century, who lived and taught in New York.

Reb Chaim created a new approach to Talmudic study, called the Brisker methodhighly intellectual Talmud study combined with strict adherence to the text. Laws are broken down into precise components and assembled into new combinations, creating new legal possibilities.

Reb Chaim also was a Litvak, a Lithuanian, even though he wasnt, strictly speaking, from Lithuania. And, he was a mitnagid, which means opponentthe mitnagdim were opponents of the Hasidim, whom they felt had deviated from the true practice of Judaism.

Reb Chaim also was a shochet and a mohelable to perform both ritual slaughter and ritual circumcision. That is, he knew how to cut both a cow and a foreskin, and he had the tools for both. He liked to call his tools for circumcision his bris-kit. His specialty in the butcher business was, perhaps not surprisingly, preparing the cut of beef called brisket. Thus his nickname, the Brisket Rabbi.

One day new parents asked him to perform a bris, a ritual circumcision. Since the mother knew that Reb Chaim was hard of hearing and forgetful, she reminded him to bring his knives for the bris, his bris-kit. It was a Friday morning. Before the circumcision, she had ordered and had delivered to her a large brisket from Reb Chaim. That afternoon she made cholent for the Sabbath by cooking the brisketthe cut of meat, not the meat cutteronions and garlic, potatoes, carrots, turnips, beans, salt and pepper, and even a dash of wine, plus a secret ingredient her sainted mother had given her on the latters deathbed but who died before telling her what it was.

Reb Chaim, a little under the weather and exhibiting the aforementioned manifestations of age, was preoccupied with a challenging passage from the Talmud dealing with shatnezthe laws governing mixing different types of fibers in the same garmentfor example, a vest made from wool and silk, even if only one silk thread, is not kosher. Although he already had prepared the brisket, he forgot and thought she said brisket, not bris-kit. He brought a slab of meat and his large schechting knives instead of the much more delicate instruments for performing circumcisions.

After offering Reb Chaim the first taste of the cholent, which he said was wonderful, the parents conferred with each other. Needless to say, they were alarmed about the knives and told Reb Chaim to come back another time.

That very afternoon, the famous rabbi, of blessed memory, unexpectedly died, of unforeseen circumstances, sparing the parents the embarrassment of trying to find a way to tell the rabbi they were going to look for another mohel. It seemed a sign from heaven.

After Reb Chaim died, that same day, in fact, the parents found another mohel. He was not famous but was only a mohel, and reputedly had both good eyesight and a sharp memory. It was said that while preparing for his bar mitzvah he had memorized both Talmuds, along with the Shulchan Arukhthe authoritative code of Jewish lawas well as the Tanya, the kabbalistic bible of the Hasidim.

Are you surprised I said hasidim? Yes, the mohel was a hasid, but not just any hasid. He was descended from the Chernobyl Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky, famous for his book Meor EynayimLight of the Eyeswho in fact was called by the title of his work. Reb Twersky was a disciple of both the Baal Shem Tov and the Baal Shems main disciple, Rabbi Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezritch.

Although the parents were Litvaks, a strange impulse had compelled them to use this hasidic mohel. That same afternoon the mohel came by to meet the parents. The mother offered him a taste of the cholent, and the mohel praised her cooking to the skies. The mohel, feeling compelled by a similarly strange impulse and knowing the parents were not hasidim and their first choice of mohels had been Reb Chaim, decided it was his calling to perform the bris. Everyone decided that Sunday would be the best day for the bris, even though a bris can be performed on shabbat.

Sunday came around, and the parents, the baby, and the guests were all ready for the show. There was a slight problem, howeverthough young, and in spite of his prodigious youthful achievements, also turned out to have memory issues and forgot his instruments, which had never happened before. It was almost as if the unseen hand of the Maker had been directing his actions. Since he lived in a neighboring village and didnt have time to go home to get his own instruments, he had to borrow some. As it turned out, the closest set was at the home of Reb Chaim. Feeling nervous about asking to borrow instruments from this household, the hasid took a gift of some of the cholent andif he hadnt been a Jewalmost felt tempted to cross himself.

He gave the cholent to Reb Chaims son Velvel, the future Brisker Rov, who took a taste and exclaimed it the most wonderful cholent he had ever eaten, bar none. Then, as if directed by the Holy Ancient One, and in shock from the sudden death of his esteemed father, graciously loaned the hasidic mohel the instruments Rav Chaim had forgotten. The Brisker, too, had felt something strange when the hasidic mohel came knocking, as if a veil had been drawn over him by an unseen hand, obscuring the longstanding sectarian hostility between sects.

The instruments arrived, and the new rabbi did his job. The mother served the remaining cholent, as an appetizer, to all the attendees, who all proclaimed it the best they had ever had.

A further wrinkle emerged that afternoon: The baby and its parents were actually distant relatives of Reb Chaim. The mohel had performed the sacred mitzvah on an infant who probably would grow up to heap invective on his hasidic brethren.

Several months after the bris, to avoid future such mixups, the Brisker RovReb Chaims son Velvelmade a ruling in the name of his father: A person can be a shochet or a mohel, or even both, but not at the same time. This was based on a novel interpretation of the same Talmudic passages dealing with shatnez that his father had been studying when his memory went kaput. You may remember that these dealt with the prohibition against mixing alien fibers.

A generation later, the grandson of Reb Chaim, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchikthe Ravwith great simchah, witnessed his daughters marriage to a hasidic rabbi descended from the same mohel who performed the bris his grandfather never performed. And this hasidic rabbi was not just any hasidic rabbi but the Talner rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky, the Nathan Littauer Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University and a descendant, yes, of the Light of the Eyes, that first Twersky.

The Talner rebbe was chair of Jewish studies at Harvard and oversaw the graduation of many PhDs, including the graduate adviser of the narrator of this story and himself the grandson of a famous Talmudic scholar, Louis Finkelstein. And, the Rav was Rosh Yeshivah of the orthodox Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in New York City. He is said to have ordained about 2000 rabbis during his fifty years there.

In other words, both the hasid and the mitnagid had distinguished pedigrees and were important scholars.

Ohdid I forget to say that Professor Twersky, the hasidic rabbi, was one of the preeminent scholars of the rationalist philosopher Maimonideswho influenced the Rav and his ancestors? Or that he wrote his PhD dissertation on the medieval Talmudist RABaDRabbi Abraham ben David of Posquieresfather of the early French kabbalist Rabbi Isaac the Blind? Or that the Rav wrote his PhD dissertation on the German-Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen and that in his classic book The Lonely Man of Faith he melds Jewish and existentialist traditions?

Do you see how a little slip like bringing the wrong instruments for a circumcision could lead to a reconciliation of mitnagdim and hasidim after several hundred years of enmity?

You might be forgiven for thinking that a new interpretation of the law about mixing different fibers would have been forthcoming from a Rabbi Soloveitchik or Rabbi Twersky, but such was not the case, and to this day you may find a shochet or a mohel, but he wont be practicing both specialties.

While this may seem puzzlinggiven the propensity of both rabbi-scholars to explore new Judaic territorythe ruling honors Jewish law on one level and a deeper reading of the law on another, namely, that at a deeper level there are no differences among fibersthey are all made of the same universal substance. Similarly, there are no distinctions between human beings, their religion, their sects, or their souls: there are no binary opposites, no hasid and mitnagid, no such things as rational and irrational, mystical and intellectual. And of course behind it all is the unseen hand of the Holy One of Blessed Countenance. Remarkably, this teaching is based on a teaching the narrator heard from Rabbi Mordechai Twerski, formerly of Denver and now living in Brooklyn, another descendant of the Light of the Eyes, Grand Rabbi Mordechai Nachum Twersky.

And now lets partake of the wonderful chlolent!

But before doing so, hear this:

Next year at this same time, at Purim, you will hear a familiar story about Rabbi Jay Feder, formerly of Denver, who was both a mohel and a jeweler, who, interestingly, had a license plate on his car that said FamilyJewelssomething like that. In fact, when Rabbi Feder was helping this very narrator buy the only wedding ring he has ever bought (and also the only one he ever returned, when the engagement fell through as a result of a mixup he will not go into right now), the good rabbi excused himself to take a call from someone about a circumcision. After dealing with that client and making a few notes, he finished the deal with yours truly. The story you will hear next year will be called: Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend. See you then!

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The Wonderful Cholent: A Story of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Volozhin – Boulder Jewish News

Franzen: Remembering the darkness of the Holocaust – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Scotland Yard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating more than a hundred bomb threats made to Jewish groups in the United States and Britain since Jan. 7. Investigators said there is evidence that some of the U.S. and British bomb threats are linked. Waves of threats against U.S. Jewish groups – including community centers, schools, and offices of national organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League civil rights group – have been followed within hours by similar but smaller waves against Jewish organizations, mainly schools, in Britain. According to people in both countries who have listened to recordings of the threats, most of the them have been made over the telephone by men and women with American accents whose voices are distorted by electronic scramblers. Wochit

Melanie Steinhardt comforts Becca Richman at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, Feb. 26, in Philadelphia. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated.(Photo: DOMINICK REUTER, Getty Images)

Even as a kid, I devoured books on history. My interest was not that unusual for the time. I was born in the generation following the Second World War, and the centenary of the Civil War hit in 1961, fueling our fascination with what wekidsconsidered the more exciting parts of history.

World War II wasa favorite for the kids in my neighborhood; our fathers had fought it and we read about it and refought much of it (or thought we did) in the alleys and backyards around Grant Grade School and in the fields of Brookfield where my cousins lived.

What I didnt read about was the Holocaust.

As a German immigrantwhose father served in the German army on the Russian front and whose mother lived in what was then East Prussiaand who became a refugee at the end of the war, I didnt want to know. I was aware the Germans were the “bad guys,”but the horrors of the Holocaust trivialize that characterization, taking human evil to an entirely different level. That was a place I didnt want to go.

I didnt read Anne Franks diary or any survivor stories or ahistory of the Holocaust. I knew it had happened; I wasnt a denier. But I didnt want to know more. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t interested. Mentally, I pushed it away. I didnt want to think about it and what the facts might mean for my understanding of Germany and even of Germans I knew. Which is a pretty sad commentary.

That changed in my mid-20s when I finally read a book calledInto That Darkness by Gitta Sereny, detailing how the Nazis moved from mercy killing to mass murder. Im not sure what changed; maybe Id finally had enough of my cowardice. Then I read more: Elie Wiesel, Lucy Dawidowicz, Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning, Daniel Goldhagen. I studied and learned. And, yes, It was frightening.

And I talked to people I knew had been there. Turned out I knew people who had helped Jews, at not an inconsiderable risk to themselves. Maybe not as heroic as some others, but also not people who had turned their backs. Others said they had known nothing about it. Still others hinted that it may not have happened at all; they dismissed it as just wartime propaganda.

What does this mean? Maybe just that I finally became the student of history that I should have been all along. If we remember the past, we should remember all of it.

And this, too, maybe: Its important to know. Its important to remember. Not only for a better understanding of the past but for a better understanding of how it can happen.

Every pogrom, every purge, every atrocity, has a beginning. In Germany, there was a direct line from brown-shirted thugs demonstrating in the streets to burned-out synagogues to the gas chambers.

And the specter of that past is why I’m concerned now.

USA Today reported last week that through the first week of March, more than 100 incidents of anti-Jewish activity have been reported in 33 states, according to the Jewish Federations of North America. They include several waves of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in numerous states that have led to evacuations, three here at the JCC in Whitefish Bay. There has been desecration of dozens of headstones at historic Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and University City, Mo., near St. Louis and incidents of vandalism, such as a swastika carved onto the door frame of a 100-year-old synagogue in Lorain, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and slurs and swastikas drawn on cars and a building in suburban Buffalo. As a Journal Sentinel editorial noted last week, violence has been directed at other groups as well.

All 100 senators press Trump administration to help communities fight anti-Semitism

Editorial: Investigate ugly threats targeting Jewish centers

No, I dont think another Holocaust is right around the corner; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are not galloping toward us. There have been periods in American history worse than this for a whole slew of people deemed as inferior or just “others.”And although the current coarseness in politics may have emboldened the haters to come out of the shadows, I dont think that Donald Trump or any other politician is specifically to blame.

I do think, however, that it is not that far of a leap from a bomb threat or a swastika on a tombstone to a sniper and thats scary. My fear is not just for Jews but for Muslims and Sikhs and African-Americans and others targeted by a raw hatred aimed atthose who practice a different religion or who simply look different.

I think the worst thing to do is turn our backs and close our eyes. We cant say, as I once did, that we dont want to know.We must know. The knowledge of what happened can help us answer the ugliness of those who would if they could take us back to thosedark days.

So while law enforcement must pursue these terrorists, the rest of us can educate ourselves and talk about the past and the present whether that’s at dinner with friends or a chat over coffee or in our places of worship. We can read, and we can confront ugliness wherever we see it, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

When my daughter graduated from eighth grade, I gave her Elie Wiesels Night. She plans on giving it to her children.

Maybe thats a good place to start.

Ernst-Ulrich Franzen is the Journal Sentinels associate editorial page editor. Email:; Twitter: @efranzen1

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Franzen: Remembering the darkness of the Holocaust – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Women and Purim, Women and Torah: Our method to further Chinuch for our Daughters – The Jewish News

Why CyberSem ( and what does our online seminary intent to impart upon the girls and women who engage our new and invigorating learning method for generations of Jewish females who may otherwise have a more difficult time accessing Torah study regularly? The answer is basic enough, and the miracle of Purim helps shed some light.

Women have been recognized as having actively participated in miracles of many Jewish holidays, but their efforts leading up to the events of Purim in old-time Persia are outstanding.

The Talmud tractate of Megillah tells us that women are obliged to hear Megilat Esther because they were also present at the time of the . The adds that this is such because was also directed against the women and predominantly the happened through Esthers involvement. Where else do we see that an entire holiday is attributed to the woman who was so pivotal in the success of the miracle? On when we know that in the merit of the righteous women the Jewish people was redeemed from , the hero of the event is still Moshe. Yehudit did wonderful things on , but she is only remembered as one of the many characters of the Chanukah story. When asked the Sages to allow her story to become one of the books of the Tanach, they agreed, hence the name Megilat Esther.

It is written in the Midrash Esther Rabbah, that Hamans decree was abolished because Mordechai gathered twenty-two thousand children and taught them Torah. Mordechai was the leader of the generation, but he did not delegate the instruction of the small children to anyone else. He taught them himself. This underlines the critical importance of Chinuch. It is this model of Chinuch that provides the best foundation for a small child to begin his/her life with. Traditionally, as the sages say the Talmud, Brachot, that it is the woman who is trusted with the task of guiding, directing and teaching her children. Whether the father learns, or is a businessman, his time at home to discipline and teach the children is limited. As soon as the child is born, it is the mother who supervises the development of her children and directs them in the right path.

Going deeper yetLooking at the difference between Chanukah and Purim we discover that the decree of Chanukah was essentially one that attacked the spiritual connection between the Jewish people and G-d, whereas Purim was a physical threat to the Jewish people as a nation. The Rambam puts this into sharp perspective perhaps contrary to what we may think. In his work Hilchot Deot The Laws of Personal Development, the Rambam writes that keeping the body healthy and complete is amongst the ways of serving G-d. When utilizing the body to do a mitzvah, one reaches to and touches the essence of G-dliness.

Small children possess the same deep connection with Hash-m. In the posuk in , G-d commands the Jewish nation to build H-m a tabernacle and H- will dwell in them. This command implies that there is already a nation for to dwell amongst. Although the building of the tabernacle/temple is great, interrupting the study of young children is forbidden even for them to help in its construction. Why? Because the temple needs a people, a nation, and the childrens learning generates the perpetuation of that nation. Clearly a priority.

Now we can understand that when announced the decree to kill the Jewish people, the remedy was to strengthen the Jewish children and teach them Torah in its purest form. The Shlah Hakadosh emphasizes that the major part of the Chinuch of the children is done by women, as they are the natural nurturers of children to set them on the correct path for a lifetime of Torah observant people.

This is the paradigm of self-regulated learning, the personal internalization of the lesson. At CyberSem women are engaged in learning Torah based subjects with the focus on stimulating their personal bond with the material combined with individual improvement in education and learning in general. It is a modern way of interfacing with our ancient and principal beliefs, and it helps women, arguably our most important assets for furthering Jewish life to our children, access Torah and learn in environments where time and availability is often hard to come by.

Chag Purim Sameach By Dr. Chavi Goldberg CEO of CyberSem

Dr. Chavi Goldberg is Founder and Director of CyberSem, an innovative learning platform for women. Dr. Goldberg holds a Bachelor of Jewish Education with honors from Talpiot College and a Master of Science in Graduate Teaching Curriculum Development, and Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University.

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Women and Purim, Women and Torah: Our method to further Chinuch for our Daughters – The Jewish News

Sedra of the Week: Zachor | Jewish News – Jewish News

This weeks additional Torah reading is known by its heading Zachor: the communal remembrance of how the tribe of Amalek pursued our ancestors out of Egypt, chasing after the weakest stragglers and mugging them for their possessions. Preying on the most vulnerable, the tribe, a descendant of Esau, were merciless to those most loyal to them.

David, before he became king of Israel, came across a slave of the Amalekites who was left to die in the desert because he had fallen ill and was weak. He tended to him and was appalled at the cruelty of his masters, who had captured Davids entire household on a raid against the Philistine of Ziklag.

In ancient Greece, Sparta practised auto-euthanasia. In Roman law, the lives of slaves were worthless. The Torahs clarion call against Amalek and the cheapening of human life is considered by our rabbinic tradition to be the most important reading in the Hebrew calendar.

The Torah points out the people at this time were not God-fearing. It does not say why, but perhaps the very state of leaving stragglers unguarded and unsupported was a sign of lack of righteousness. The Torah then commands us to eradicate all memory of Amalek. Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev comments the Amalekite refers not only to the descendants of Esau, but also to negativity in the heart of every person.

Zachors message is that one should eradicate that negativity from within ones heart, as this is what leads to sin.

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

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Sedra of the Week: Zachor | Jewish News – Jewish News

I’m A Progressive Mexican Jew. Is There Space For Me In J Street? – Forward

I was not very excited to go to Washington DC: recent news from the capital was bleak, to say the least, and the idea of spending my time visiting sites felt like treason. In this country ruled a man who called us rapists and who was building a wall to keep us outside. Sure, I was going to a conference on social justice, but I felt conflicted, nonetheless.

I was raised in a fairly progressive household in Mexico City. I attended middle school and high school at the American School Foundation. And, in many ways, I feel more connected to the progressive values of American Jews than to those of the Mexican-Jewish community.

Yet, when I find myself in progressive American-Jewish circles, like J Street, I feel my sense of agency reside. Jews in America make up half of the Jewish population worldwide. The global Jewish conversation takes place mostly between the Jews in this country and Israel (and, to a much smaller extent, Britain and France). Our 50,000-member community can only look up from a peripheral position at what is being said about Israel and the Jews in these countries only when theres a global crisis that involves us is there mention of us.

American Jews are a minority in the U.S. and they have participated in important struggles to defend other minorities: the Civil Rights Movement, for example, and most recently, against Trumps Muslim ban.

But even as a minority, they are empowered in ways than other Diaspora Jews are not. I dont want to diminish the fact that J Street came from the fringes, and that it has grown exponentially during the past nine years to become a powerful opposition force. But Ive always been impressed by the boldness with which American Jews talk, something I find in other Diaspora Jews who are afraid of anti-Semitic repercussions or who are just to marginalized to be considered as part of the conversation. In many cases, the American boldness also comes with total lack of awareness of the mere existence of a larger Diaspora.

At a J Street panel, a presenter said that American Jews feel, in many ways, more American than Jewish. These either/or identity statements are always shallow, yet there is a certain truth in the sense that they subscribe to a certain narrative of immigration and pluralism that plays a part in the larger U.S. story. This integration story is true: the speakers at J Street attested to the important role that Jews, once upon a time poor immigrants living in East Village tenements, now play in the liberal world: here was the world renowned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, talking with the executive vice-president of the Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk and of course, Bernie Sanders, a Jew from Brooklyn.

This Americanization of Jews has somehow normalized the Jewish experience. At the time of the conference, a Jewish cemetery was being desecrated, and schools were receiving bomb threats. Although there were constant references to Yitzhak Rabin who was murdered by a right-wing Jewish extremist there was no visible security around the conference, at all. I felt vulnerable, standing there, listening to the ambassador of the PLO give a powerful speech someone could come in at any minute and do something. Perhaps this was only my Jewish paranoia speaking, but this lack of security would be unthinkable at Jewish event in Europe, or even in Mexico.

Bringing Jews from the Diaspora to J street can help bring context to the particularity of the American Jewish situation. Yet there was only one panel in the conference dealing with the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora and, unfortunately, none of the panelists were from outside of the U.S. or the U.K. There was no one at the conference from France, which has a large Jewish community, and no panel about the anti-occupation Jewish movements taking place in other parts of the world.

J Street needs a global perspective. Jews from countries outside of the US have an important role to play not only in ending the occupation, but in providing those who oppose it in the United States and Israel with a wider network of support. These issues often intersect: there was a lot of talk of islamophobia J-Street, but no clear mention of how xenophobia affected other minorities. This, half a year after the Head of Mexicos Foreign Affairs asked the American Jewish community for advice in combating growing xenophobia against migrants. In these cases,J Street cannot afford to look the other way around.

In this context, Mexican Jews can be the natural bridge to grow relationships with institutions fighting against Trump. This is because progressive Jews in Mexico have a double stake in it: ending the occupation and fighting the bigotry of Trump. Yet other Diaspora Jews are similarly concerned with the rise of the far right. American Jews are not alone; we in the Diaspora have agency too. Use us.

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

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

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I’m A Progressive Mexican Jew. Is There Space For Me In J Street? – Forward

Holocaust survivor tells her story to Keokuk and Central Lee students – Fort Madison Daily Democrat

KEOKUK Rachel Miller lost her parents, two brothers and a sister to the gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

She was orphaned at age 9, saved only because her mother, Helen, sent her away cruelly, Rachel thought at the time to protect her from certain death.

As a survivor of the Holocaust, Miller, 83, travels the country telling the story of the Germans horrific killing of 23 million people, six million of which were Jews, during World War II.

When asked after her talk at Keokuk High School Wednesday afternoon what someone should say to the far-too-many who believe the Holocaust never happened, her answer was simple.

Say nothing.

People are going to believe what they want to believe, Miller said to Keokuk High School and Middle School students who likely soaked up every word. You might as well talk to a wall.

Miller also presented her program this morning at Central Lee High School.

Im afraid! Im afraid!

Miller was born in 1933 and was 7 when she heard there was a parade in her home city of Paris, France.

Her parents, Nathan and Helen Goldman, moved from Warsaw, Poland, to France before Rachel was born. Early in June of 1940, the Goldmans were thankful they had made the move. The Germans had invaded Poland.

But on June 23, 1940, when Miller went to look out the window at home, she saw a parade of Germans marching down the Champs Elyses, the largest city block in Paris, go through the Arc de Triomphe (the arch of triumph).

I ran up the stairs and cried, Miller said. I said, Im afraid! Im afraid!

The French had laid out the welcome mat for German, and the Germans sent out the order to leave the French Jews including the Goldmans alone.

But that protection was short lived.

Even still, Jews had to wear a bonnet that had a cross on it and the word guif, which meant Jew.

It meant we could only shop for groceries from 3-4 p.m., Miller said. They could only go to school if the Germans saw fit.

We were nothing, Miller said. We walked in the streets with our heads down. You never knew when you would make a wrong look to the wrong people.

Family taken

Meanwhile, back in Warsaw, Rachels cousins joined the resistance, fighting any attempts by the German to take control of their country.

One of her girl cousins was tortured for three solid days, Miller said. Although she survived, she had a long but troubled life, Miller said.

Her brothers Henri and Adolphe were also part of the resistance, while Miller and her sister Sabine were still young girls at home.

Her father, Nathan, was a barber, and Helen stayed at home and raised the family.

Millers uncle was the first of the family to be taken away.

Then her father. He was cutting someones hair, Miller said, when someone came and informed him that the Jews were being taken to a labor camp. Nathan complied.

Near the end of 1941, Miller heard that they might be coming home and anticipated a big celebration. But when Helen went to visit them on Dec. 30, the uncle came to meet them and He told her he was injected with something, and he died in her arms, Miller said.

The same fate befell her husband.

(The Germans often did laboratory experiments, using the Jews as human guinea pigs.)

Miller said the gravesite where her father was buried had up to 30 coffins on top of each other.

Millers mother gave me a new name, Christine. She said, Dont tell anyone youre Jewish. This stunned Miller. If I ever told a lie, I would be punished.

Miller was not aware that her sister, Sabine, had also been taken away. She thought Sabine was away on a trip. Her mother sent her to the bus station to get her, but Rachel was met by her aunt instead.

When Miller asked where her sister was, the aunt said, She went shopping.

The aunt then took Miller to live with her, and she never saw her mother or siblings again.

Miller, 9 at the time, would soon learn her mother and two brothers were taken away.

I thought, Why didnt she keep me with her? Miller said. It was such a difficult thing to let go of her child.

Spared again

Millers life was spared one more time.

The French government continued to support the Germans. If you reported Jews to the police, you would be given 300 francs, Miller said.

One day, a woman approached her and determined she was Jewish. But the woman I didnt know her name, Miller said had second thoughts and didnt turn Miller in.

Miller still harbors great resentment for France and long ago renounced her French citizenship.

The Germans did not want children under the age of 16, Miller said. But the French said, Isnt it better that they go with their families?

Miller would eventually find a relative who had many pictures of her family, and the relative agreed to part with the photographs. Miller showed those pictures to the students.

I am an orphan, Miller said. If I show you the pictures, its as if I were bringing them to life.

Over the next few years she lived her life in constant fear.

I slept with cotton over my ears, Miller said. I was terrified of my own shadow.

She felt her brothers would be strong enough to make their way back home and that her sister was so beautiful, who would want to hurt her?

More than just the Jews

The Jews were certainly the primary target of Adolph Hitler and his army, but they were not the only ones.

The Germans killed 23 million people, Miller said. Six million were Jews, and of those six million, 1 1/2 million were children.

They killed three million Russians. They killed homosexuals. The killed Jehovahs witnesses.

Though it would seem the opposite, Miller said the Germans were highly educated people.

Can you imagine an intelligent civilization that would let the Germans kill that many people? Miller asked the audience.

She then gave the account of the fate of those taken captive by the Germans.

She said that one group of 17,000 people were taken to a structure comparable to a dome.

They were there for 5 1/2 days, Miller said. There were six bathrooms, but (the Germans) closed up three that faced the streets. They didnt want people to know what was going on there.

At the concentration camps, If you were aged 16-40 and were strong, you would go to the right. There was a sign that said, Work makes you free.

For everyone else, they went left to the showers where poisonous gas pellets would be dropped into the chamber. Miller said the people were told to fold their clothes neatly, still giving the illusion that they would come out of the showers.

Visiting concentration camps years later, Miller said you could still see blood on the walls and even fingernail marks where the victims tried in vain to escape.

Not safe yet

Even when Miller finally was taken to America, it was not without some trauma.

An American soldier came to the orphanage where Miller, age 13 1/2, was at and offered to bring her to America. That was in 1947 and she came to New York.

The soldiers wife was more than happy to welcome the Holocaust survivor. But soon the wife discovered her husband had been molesting Miller and sent her away. Miller said those incidents were swept under the carpet, when asked later by a student if the man suffered any consequences.

Millers life finally came to as normal as it can get for someone who went through so much.

She married and had children and grandchildren, though her husband died in 1997.

Having wished she wasnt a Jew when she was child, she now embraces and practices her Jewish faith.

Despite the horrors that befell her people, Miller said her belief in God has helped her carry her through her life. She had to go through therapy, but she also relied on her husbands family, which offered her support.

As for her the frequent talks she gives, I promised myself when the war was over, I would speak up.

That should be true for the continued atrocities committed against others in the world today, she said.

We have to fight back. We should, but we dont.

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Holocaust survivor tells her story to Keokuk and Central Lee students – Fort Madison Daily Democrat

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.

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

In Israel, a Street Sign Named After Yasser Arafat Stirs Emotions – Newsweek

As deadly attacks, land appropriation and clashes push a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians further from reach, a row over street signs has further stoked tensions between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday announced Sunday he had asked Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to remove a street sign in the central Israeli Arab village of Jatt. The name on the white and pink road marker? Yasser Arafat, the late leader of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting that streets in Israel could not be named after murderers of Israelis and Jews. He went further, saying he would table new legislation if need be, so that this does not happen here.

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Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat attends Friday prayers on May 17, 2002 at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he had ordered the removal of a street sign named after the former Palestinian leader in an Israeli Arab village. Chris Hondros/Getty

In a country dogged by the politics of the region, road signs carry their own baggage. In the West Bank, which Israels military occupies and the Palestinians have earmarked for any future state, the Arabic underneath Hebrew signposts directing drivers to Jewish settlements has previously been scrawled out, with words such as revenge daubed in Hebrew taking its place.

The Arafat sign, written in both Hebrew and Arabic and erected in 2008, struck a nerve with Jewish citizens, who protested to Deri for it to be removed after Israeli soldiers discovered the road on the Waze app, according to the Times of Israel. Deri subsequently wrote a letter to the local council of Jatt, telling them the ministry had not approved the name change years before and ordering it to remove the sign immediately.

Palestinians widely memorialize their former leader, who died in a French hospital in 2004. Arafat was and remains a symbol of what they call their national struggle for a sovereign state and the end of Israeli military occupation in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. His mausoleum lies within the Mukataa compound, his West Bank headquarters, in the city of Ramallah, and the Yasser Arafat Museum opened there in November.

Guards stand watch at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 4, 2014. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

The late Palestinian president, recognizable for his khaki uniform and traditional keffiyeh head dress, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, sharing the honor with Israeli negotiating partners Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres for their roles in the Oslo peace accords. The desire to name road signs after the leader in Palestinian Arab communities therefore comes as little surprise.

Yasser Arafat is not our enemy. He is the symbolic leader of the Palestinian people. We cannot accept the concept of Netanyahu, Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab politician and one of the most popular domestic figures among the countrys Arab community, tells Newsweek . Maybe he will not be on this sign, but he is in the heart of Palestinians.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, Israels third biggest party, countered Netanyahus justification for the order, arguing there are many street signs in Israel named after far-right politicians who discriminated against Arabs, and some named after assailants in attacks against Arabs.

Read more: Behead Arab-Israelis opposed to state, says foreign minister

Many Israeli Arabs and rights groups argue their communities encounter discrimination and racism in a country founded on the principles of Zionism, the ideological foundation of a Jewish state. They complain that the political elite does not represent them, but rather attempts to erode their culture, of which Arafat is a fixture.

The Israeli government-endorsed bill to limit loudspeaker noise from places of worship is a recent example of this, Israeli Arabs argue. They claim the bill, which still needs to pass three more readings before becoming law, is targeted at mosques and their traditional call to prayer, which is announced five times a day.

Mohammed Taher Wattab, the mayor of Jatt, which has a population of 11,000, questioned Netanyahus involvement in the row about Arafats street name row.

Yasser Arafat signed a peace deal with Israel and it is a shame that the prime minister finds the need to waste his time on the name of a street in a small town like ours, he said, in comments made to Israel Radio on Monday.

From our perspective [Arafat] is the official leader of the Palestinian people, with Israel recognizing him as a partner for [peace] negotiations, he said, adding that this meant there is no legal, social or moral prohibition in naming a street after him.

Palestinians, like Israeli Arabs, are unsurprised by the Israeli governments move. Speaking to Newsweek on condition of anonymity, a relative of Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Palestinian figure who was a top leader under Arafat, responded simply to the furore over the use of Arafats name: What else would you expect of Netanyahu?

But in the eyes of Israelis, Arafat is a murderer who wrecked peace hopes at Camp David in 2000, ordered a suicide bombing campaign against Israelis in the Second Intifada, or uprising, between 2000 and 2005, and contributed to the denial of Jewish history and belonging in the region. They hoped his death would bring a restart to relations with the Palestinians, but militant groups said his death only bolstered their determination to continue attacks against Israelis. Israelis say the Arab community knows the sensitivity of invoking Arafats name and, as a result, it will only hurt their communities in the long term.

Until this very day, Arafat was involved in terroristic activities, including two Intifadas, says Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. I am all for a Palestinian state, always will be, but he had the power to make peace with Israel. The fact that we dont have peace, it is Arafat.

So do you believe that this is appropriate for Israelis to name streets after him? I dont think so.

He continues: We want, I want, and I believe the majority of Israelis want, to live with Israeli Arab citizens as equals. So when they make such gestures, it is counterproductive. It hurts Israeli Arabs. Its a huge mistake.

Israels government has railed against Palestinian incitement to violence and the veneration of leaders who justified violent acts against Israelis, or are accused of ordering such acts themselves.

Netanyahus administration has condemned the Palestinians for naming squares and other public places after figures viewed as extremists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, the 19-year-old woman who led a squad that traveled from Lebanon by sea to the Israeli coast, hijacking a bus and driving another in an attack that left 38 Israeli civilians dead. Palestinians who attack Israelis are commonly revered as martyrs, an environment that Israel says will only lead to further attacks against Israelis.

Palestinians walk next to a wall bearing a graffiti image of Al-Aqsa mosque during a wedding procession in the main street of the Israeli Arab village of Jatt, July 7, 2007. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty

We expect the Palestinian Authority not to call squares after terrorists, and here we find, inside the country, in an Israeli city a street named after Arafat. How is it possible? Liran Baruch, a disabled Israeli soldier who lobbied the right-wing Israeli NGO Tirtzu to take the case to Deryeh, told The Jerusalem Post.

As Netanyahus government takes the political battle to the Arab streets of Israel, the removal of road signs may only put a band-aid on the Arab desire to celebrate their heroes from neighboring lands.

Maybe Netanyahu should know that in the same village there is a street called Palestine and a street called Mahmoud Darwish, says Tibi, referring to the revered Palestinian poet.

I am aware that they will find the will to commemorate the memory of Yasser Arafat, he says, switching to the residents of Jatt. If not in a street, maybe in a mosque, or another place.

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In Israel, a Street Sign Named After Yasser Arafat Stirs Emotions – Newsweek

No Moshe? No problem – Cleveland Jewish News


Exodus 27:20-30:10

1 Samuel 15:1-34

In this weeks parsha, Tetzaveh, we read of many laws that pertain to the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. The Mishkan served as Bnei Yisraels sanctuary while they traveled in the Midbar, the wilderness. We read of the clothes worn by the Kohanim (Priests) and the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), the instructions for how Moshe is to consecrate Aharon and his sons (the Priests), and Moshes instructions for the even-day inauguration of the Mishkan.

Interestingly, when reading the Parsha a question arises. The name of Moshe is never mentioned in the parsha. Instead, it says, And you shall command the children of Israel. (27:20). What is the reason for not mentioning Moshes name? He clearly played a significant role in the inauguration of the Mishkan and the consecration of the Kohanim.

The Maor Enayim provides an excellent answer. Moshe died on the seventh of Adar, which is usually the week when we read parsha Tetzaveh. The absence of his name in this parsha alludes to his passing. However, the seventh of Adar is also the day Moshe was born. Why not hint to that in parshat Tetzaveh as well?

In truth, the lesson of Moshes passing is a more powerful message for us. The absence of his name connects his death to the establishment of the Mishkan and the role the Kohanim play in it. The leader of the Jewish people passed away, but the Jews keep going. With the strength and inspiration provided by the Mishkan (which is facilitated by the Kohanim), the people can continue their journey both in the wilderness and for all time.

At times in our nations existence, we feel a leadership void. We must make sure to maintain our beliefs and push ourselves to keep going, to maintain our Jewish identities. At the time of this parsha we lost our leader, but we our still going today, thousands of years later. We must always remember that even without a leader we still have the ability to thrive and to continue our Jewish heritage.

Noah Fleeter of Beachwood is a sophomore at the Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood.

No Moshe? No problem – Cleveland Jewish News

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

Adam Kirsch – Tablet Magazine

Literary criticAdam Kirschis readinga page of Talmuda day, along with Jews around the world.

In last weeks column, we saw that Chapter Three of Tractate Bava Batra deals with disputes over real estate. The Talmud lays down a rule that anyone who works a plot of land continuously for three years is presumed to be its legal owner. But what happens in a case where two people claim to be the owner of the same piece of land, and neither of them can bring legal proof that he has worked it for three years? That is the situation the Gemara addresses in Bava Batra 34b, which Daf Yomi readers studied this week. In such a dispute, each party bases his claim to ownership on inheritance: This one says: It belonged to my ancestors and that one says: It belonged to my ancestors. How can the court decide between them, if neither one has documentary proof or witnesses?

The principle in such cases, the Gemara explains, was established in an analogous dispute over the ownership of a boat. In that case, the rule was that the court takes no action at all: We do not seize property in a case where ownership is uncertain, and where it was seized, we do not release it. Then how does the dispute get resolved? The Talmud answers with an ambiguous formula: Whoever is stronger prevails. In other words, the parties fight it out, and whoever manages to seize the property keeps it. This is a troubling saying, because it seems to represent an abdication of the whole responsibility of the judges. If the stronger party prevails, then might makes right, and there is no reason to have laws or judges in the first place.

The Koren Talmud explains, in its notes, that commentators have disagreed over just what whoever is stronger prevails is supposed to mean. Is it a legal principle, meaning that whoever physically wins control of a piece of property is its rightful owner? If this were the case, then the rabbis would seem to envision the parties in the dispute fighting once and for all. Whoever won the boat, or the land, in the initial fight would thereupon become its legal owner. The rival claimant could not then return latersay, with a group of strong friendsand wrest the boat back, because that would constitute stealing.

Other interpreters of the Talmud, however, have opined that whoever is stronger prevails is not a legal dictum, but simply a pragmatic observation. When judges cant honestly decide between two claims, because no evidence is available, then in practice the stronger party will take hold of the property. But this does not mean that he has legal title to it; and if the rival claimant manages to seize it back at some later date, so be it. If whoever is stronger prevails means no more than this, then the two parties have a strong inducement to settle the case to avoid a perpetual feud that would effectively deprive both of them of secure ownership.

Indeed, a little later on, in Bava Batra 35b, the Gemara asks what happens if two parties are fighting over the same piece of property, and the court rules that whoever is stronger prevails, and then a third party comes and takes it away from both claimants. Does this qualify as a theft? The answer appears to be no, since a robber of the public is not called a robber. In other words, it is impossible to steal a boat that doesnt belong to anyone. Since neither of the initial claimants could prove ownership, neither has the right to demand the return of the boat if it is taken. This seems to let the third party off the hook a little too easily, and Rav Ashi adds a qualification: Actually, he is called a robber, and the property he steals should be taken back from him by the court. But there is still an ambiguity,because the robber would ordinarily have to make atonement to the person he stole from, and in this case he cant know who deserves reparations.

If the principle of whoever is stronger prevails leaves both claimants in a legal limbo, why doesnt the court simply force the parties to settle? After all, the Gemara observes, that is the procedure followed in similar situations. In what way is this case different, the rabbis ask, from the case where two people produce two deeds of sale that are issued on one day? If two parties each have a deed bearing the same date, then the original owner must have fraudulently sold the property twice. In that case, the law holds that the parties divide the property (according to Rav), or else that the judges divide it at their discretion (according to Shmuel). Why not do the same in a case where neither party has any deed to show?

However, the Gemara rejects the analogy. In a case where both parties have a deed bearing the same date, it will not be possible for the court to clarify the matter. Because the deeds cancel one another out, no further information could ever be found to make the decision easier. (Even if a witness emerged saying that one deed was written a few hours earlier in the day, it might not make a difference, since according to some authorities the date is what governs the contract, not the time.) So the court might as well enforce a judgment based on its present knowledge.

But in a case where neither party can show a deed of sale, it is theoretically possible that at some time in the future, a document or a witness will emerge to prove one claim and refute the other. To make a judgment now, based on inadequate information, might mean committing an injustice. Better for the court to do nothing, the Talmud suggests, then to put an unjust decision on the record.


Adam Kirsch embarked on theDaf Yomicycle of daily Talmud study inAugust2012. To catch up on Tablets complete archive ofmore than four years ofcolumns,click here.

Adam Kirsch is the director of the MA program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

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Adam Kirsch – Tablet Magazine

27 Years Ago, My Synagogue Was Vandalized By Skinheads Here’s What I’ve Learned Since Then. – Forward

The telephone woke me at 5:00 a.m. It was the police – never a good omen. But this wasnt about family or property, it was my synagogue.

Graffiti, the cop told me. In black spray paint. All along the outside wall. You better get down here, Rabbi.

I put on my glasses, sat up in bed, blinked away the fog. He called me rabbi, but that wasnt yet true. It was my senior year at JTS, twenty-seven years ago, and I was serving as student rabbi to a small congregation in northern New Jersey. Ill be right there, I said. But what kind of graffiti?

He cleared his throat, paused. Nazi stuff. Swastikas. A little more than that. Youll see when you get here.

It was more than that. The sentence Death to the Jews in three-foot letters had been scrawled twice along the white stucco wall facing the street. Smaller swastikas, maybe a dozen, floated among the letters, like ghastly decorations. And above the display: four pairs of twin lightning bolts a symbol that at the time I didnt recognize.

Shutzstaffel, the president of the congregation said, looking up. Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, he was waiting for me in front of the building. The police had woken him up also. The symbol of the SS. My father told me. I nodded. His father had served in World War II. A young policeman walked over. Probably adults, not kids, he told us. Most teenagers dont know about the twin lightning symbol. Handwriting looks adult, and you can see yourself the perpetrator had to be at least 6 feet tall. We stared, speechless. Adults? I was thinking demons. The cop shrugged. Probably skinheads. Weve got a few in the area. Well check it out. You might want to make some calls. He walked away, leaving his card.

Thats a good idea, the president told me. Lets make the calls.

I was still in shock, not fully awake. I felt hopelessly young, out of my depth. Call who? The ADL, I thought? JDL? FBI? My mom?

Congregants, he said. Right now, before minyan.

I nodded. Four of the ten early minyan regulars were Holocaust survivors. One had the famous tattoo on his arm; it was the first thing he showed when we met. I needed to call him first. The president had another idea. And call the local churches. Let them know what happened. In our town.

That turned out to be the most interesting, inspiring, disturbing and ultimately consequential experience of the whole ordeal. I took out the yellow pages (pre-Internet days), and called every local priest and minister. The responses ranged from outrage to tears to loving sympathy to indifference and irritation (Why would you call me? one guy asked. Did you think I did it?).

One minister took charge. Ill be over there in an hour, he said. Ill bring some kids, other volunteers. And white paint. Well take care of this. This is our town.

But I wasnt ready for them to paint over the wall so quickly. I tried to stop him, but hed hung up. So I grabbed my camera and ran back to the synagogue. I wanted to document the outrage. But the press beat me to it. Photographers from the New York and New Jersey newspapers crowded the lawn in front of the wall, along with two film crews. Wed be on the front pages the next day.

Within an hour church volunteers, mostly teenage boys, arrived with buckets, brushes, ladders, soap and white paint. By this time, word had spread and dozens of my congregants from the small community arrived. We watched as the non-Jews erased the nightmare. I felt a strange ambivalence seeing the ugly black letters fade to white. Theres something too easy, I thought, about painting it over, cleaning up the mess, starting again with a whiter wall. I should have made them wait a day, I thought. Let the town see it.

But there was a deeper misgiving, one I couldnt fully articulate back then. As I think about the incident now, I have an understanding of the reservations some Jews have expressed about Muslims raising money for desecrated Jewish cemeteries. Its not just the politics of Jew vs. Muslim. Its the feeling not helpful, but natural that when your community is under attack, you close ranks the sense that, given our history, our wounds, you cant trust outsiders, that, wrongly, unfairly, but inevitably, you see the vague outlines of perpetrator in every non-Jew.

The skinheads (it turned out to be skinheads) vandalized the synagogue on Thursday night. The next evening, erev Shabbat, the synagogue was full. After services, we sang Kol Haolam Kulo – the whole world is a narrow bridge, but the key is not to be afraid. I joked with the president that we should spray-paint the synagogue every Friday look what its done for our numbers! Indeed, the following week, we were back to our small group of regulars.

And the incident faded from my memory. Until very recently I never thought of it as a particularly important moment in my career. I was busy, ambitious, and on the move. Id just gotten married and was eager to build a life, a career beyond this small New Jersey synagogue. And I was convinced that the main challenge facing American Jews wasnt painting over swastikas, it was getting more Jews to care. That Friday night, Id chanted the main thing is not to be afraid, but the fact is I wasnt afraid. At least, I dont think I was.

Now Im not so sure. Im replaying the memory, and some of the old, spooky feelings are leaking through. Suspicion. Fear. And a sense that the world really is very narrow bridge.

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

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27 Years Ago, My Synagogue Was Vandalized By Skinheads Here’s What I’ve Learned Since Then. – Forward