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

How Israeli women turned Purim into a feminist holiday this year – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Eilit Rozin posing as Rosie the Riveter at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 22, 2016. (Courtesy of Eilit Rozin)

TEL AVIV (JTA) Wonder Woman, Rosie the Riveter and a female Israeli fighter pilot walked into a bar. They were just a few of the heroines out in Tel Aviv Saturday for the night of Purim.

With International Womens Day falling a day before the holiday weekend this year, women all over Israeldressed up as empowered women throughout the week. Soldiers and superheroes abounded on the streets and on social media, andthe American iconic welder and feminist icon seemed to be everywhere.

Shir Yorkevitz and two other teachers wore Rosie the Riveter costumes to their middle school in Herzliya Wednesday. Yorkevitz, a 26-year-old history teacher said she wanted to send a feminist message to her students.

It wasnt just a cute costume to celebrate Purim, but was also a way to get the girls to talk about womens rights, she said. Its nice that its a really easy costume to make.

Busy studying for her final exams in political science at Tel Aviv University, Eilit Rozin sent her mother into the city to get her a Wonder Woman costume. She said she was inspired by Israeli actress Gal Gadots portrayal of the character, noting that she was one of the few women to get her own Marvel Comics movie, Wonder Woman, which comes out this summer.

Shir Yorkevitz, right, and two other teachers dressed as Rosie the Riveter flexing at a middle school in Herzliya, Israel, March 8, 2017. (Courtesy of Shir Yorkevitz)

I really love superhero movies and TV shows. But there are barely any womensuperheroes. You see them as sidekicks or playing small parts. For me, its really important to see women actually fighting the bad guys, she said.

Rozin, who was Rosie the Riveter last year, said Wonder Woman felt particularly apt after she saw the video that was broadcast on TV Tuesday night of Rabbi Yigal Levinstein saying that army services has driven our girls crazy. She said she and many other real-life superwomen she served in the army with had been miffed by the comments.

Its an odd conception, and people need to get over it, she said. I think they are.

Some rabbis rushed to Levinsteins defense, and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri called him brave for daring to speak out. But the overwhelming reaction in Israel was condemnation, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. On Thursday, a tank commander said the army would next month begin the controversial practice of recruiting women into the Armored Corps.

The backlash to Levinsteins comments in the media and on Facebook blended into International Womens day and Purim coverage. Widely shared on Facebook was a story(Hebrew link) from Israeli daily Yedioths Aharanoths weekend magazine about two young girls who dressed up like their officer mothers for Purim.

Eilit Rozin showing off her Wonder Womancostume outside a friends house in Tel Aviv before the citys big Purim Party, March 10, 2017. (Courtesy of Eilit Rozin)

Im really proud of my mother, and so I wanted to be like her, but her uniform was too big on me, 9-year-old Liel Dahan is quoted saying of her mother, an officer in the military police. In a photograph accompanying the story, Liel is shown saluting beside her machine-gun toting matriarch. They are wearing matching uniforms.

Yorkevitz said few of her students either in the middle school or high school where she works wore what could be considered feminist costumes this year unless you count Fiona from Shrek.

The girls just want something that makes their body look nice, and the boys dont really dress up unless they are doing it with a girl,Yorkevitz said. [The female students] figure women have equal rights. They can wear pants and do whatever job they want, so they think the fight is already over.

Yorkevitz said even the other teachers she recruited to wear Rosie the Riveter costumes had to be briefed on the character beforehand. But Rozin, for one, appreciates the sacrifices of the women who came before her. On International Womens Day,she bought her mother flowers.

I told her shes my role modelbecause shes really strong and really independent, Rosin said. Shesmy favorite superhero.

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How Israeli women turned Purim into a feminist holiday this year – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Michael Eisenberg – Tablet Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Michael Eisenberg – Tablet Magazine

American Jews and the Trump Administration – Arutz Sheva

After the election of perhaps the most pro-Israel U.S. administration in history, American Jews seem to have lost the plot. When Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S., many Jews sat shiva to mourn Hillary Clintons defeat as if it was a death in the family, making religion out of politics. A number of Conservative and Reform synagogues held special mourning services to bewail the advent of fascism in America. One prominent Conservative rabbi in New York compared the Trump victory to the rise of Nazism prior to the Holocaust. The essence of politics is persuasion; not hysterics.

Trump repeatedly praises Israel and refers to Israel as Americas greatest ally. He has been closely associated with Jews in business and politics. His daughter observes an Orthodox religious lifestyle, after converting to Judaism. Apart from his family, his senior appointments include many Jews and staunch friends of Israel. He endorsed Israels position on defensible borders and stated that he has no objection to construction in the major settlement blocs and Jerusalem. He called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stated that the only way to peace is by direct negotiations between both parties. He repudiated Obamas criticism of Israel for failing to make progress in peace talks, and Obamas application of moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians. He has begun to pressure the Iranians to adhere to their commitments to the treaty of catastrophe, and would terminate it for any violation by the Iranian terrorist regime.

One of the negative repercussions of the Trump victory is the growing influence of the radical anti-Israel wing of the Democratic Party. The anti-Israel Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, who was initially funded by the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, is the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee; supported by leading Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer. While, anti-Israel Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders emerged as a powerful force in the defeated radicalized Democratic Party.

The Jewish establishment ignored and pretended away the Democratic anti-Semites, even when they were burning Israeli flags at the Democratic convention. They condemned legitimate criticisms of anti-Israel financier George Soros as anti-Semitic while leaving unaddressed truly anti-Semitic assaults by Hillary backers on Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Moreover, significant sectors of the Jewish community are falsely accusing the Trump administration of promoting anti-Semitism. It is noteworthy that the Zionist Organization of America protested against this partisan defamatory campaign.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) launched a scornful assault against Trumps chief strategist, former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon accusing him of being an anti-Semite, while ignoring Ellisons record of anti-Semitism and support for Israels enemies, as well as Ellisons ties to unindicted co-conspirators in funding Hamas. The accusation that Bannon is anti-Semitic is appalling on its face. Bannon is surrounded by Jews in his media company, Breitbart News, and is known for his fervent support for Israel, opposition to anti-Semitism, disapproval of anti-Israel activism on campuses, and condemnations of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of ADL, accused Bannon of being an anti-Semite who would pave the way for a return to anti-Semitism and white supremacy. In alleging that a friend of the Jews is a Jew hater while ignoring the actual anti-Semitism of another man, the ADL appears to be giving cover to the rising forces of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party.

Greenblatt did not call for Jews to boycott the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement despite its anti-Semitism and promotion of BDS against Israel, and he referred approvingly to the positive aspects of its work. The use of the ADL, created to combat anti-Semitism, to promote Greenblatts partisan political agenda is scandalous.

Greenblatt had earlier used the ADL to condemn Republicans as anti-Zionist because they excluded a two-state solution in their Middle East policy platform. When Trump declined to dignify David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan by responding to their expressions of support for him, Greenblatt condemned him for tolerating anti-Semites. This contrasted with the muted response by Jewish liberals to Barack Obamas relationship with various radical anti-Semites.

Obama has long-held close alliances with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi, etc. Obamas political career was launched in the house of the anti-Semite Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground, a left-wing terrorist organization that issued a Declaration of a State of War against the U.S. government. Obama attended Wrights sermons with his family, and he officiated at Obamas wedding and was appointed by him in 2007 to the African American Religious Leadership Committee. He only dissociated himself from Wrights views after media exposure but refused to disown him personally, relating to him as an old uncle. No critic of Trump could suggest any comparable relationship with any identifiable anti-Semite.

Establishment anger over Trumps weeks-old administration is growing. The mainstream global media, progressive activists, Democratic Party leaders, and many Republicans are essentially at war with him. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently compared his victory to disasters in American history that killed and wounded thousands like the Pearl Harbor bombing and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some op-ed writers and pundits have openly hoped for his violent death. The progressive Resistance talks of removing the new president through impeachment, or even military coup. About one-third of House Democrats boycotted the Inauguration. Congressional Republicans ignore the Constitution, ignore the balance of powers, and ignore written law, while relinquishing their own constitutional authority allowing the courts to run American foreign policy, just to be a part of the establishments Stop Trump movement.

After Trump had secured the Republican nomination, prominent Jewish conservative editors, like Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg, led the Never Trump movement. They betrayed the Republican Party, the American people, and Jews when they set out to undermine Trump, which could have elected the criminally challenged Hillary.

The sympathies of Hillary and Obama lie with the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that launched the Arab drive to destroy Israel and push its Jews into the sea. If Hillary and Obama had their way, Egypts leader al-Sisi would be overthrown, the Brotherhood would be back in power, and Israel could be facing a threat from the biggest military power in the Middle East and war with Islamic terrorists who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.

Elements of the U.S. government have been actively opposing the duly elected U.S. president. Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been disrupting Trump administration reforms. U.S. government employees recorded Trumps private calls to the president of Mexico and the Australian prime minister, and leaked selected segments to suggest that Trump was either a buffoon or trigger-happy. The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2017 that career intelligence officers have decided to withhold information from Trump, because in their view he is unfit to receive it. Kristol suggested in a tweet that if he faced a choice between the constitutionally, democratically elected president and career government officials efforts to thwart or remove him, he would come down on the side of the revolutionary, anti-democratic deep state.

There are no Christian states striving to wipe Israel off the map, and there no groups in Hinduism or Buddhism seeking to push Jews into the sea American voters elected Trump because they regarded him as the only opportunity to break with the status quo, a revolt against the postmodernism that has undermined the moral fiber of the West and its willingness to defend itself, facilitating the emergence of brutal Islamic terror. The refusal of Trumps opponents to accept the outcome of the election was despicable and unprecedented, and contrasts with the acquiescence of the defeated Republicans when Obama won both of his elections. An aspect of the election result is the hysterical reaction by liberal segments of the Jewish community. It is not surprising that 70% of Jews supported Hillary Clinton. This is consistent with their long-standing obsession with liberalism. But the manipulation of Jewish issues as a political vehicle by some American Jewish leaders to oppose Trump could be an act of infamy.

After Israel, the U.S. has the largest Jewish population in the world. Despite credible evidence that Islamic terrorists infiltrate migrants from Muslim conflict zones, American Jews have been at the forefront of the opposition to the Trump administrations plan to pause immigration for a few months from six Muslim countries with vetting challenges. In America, anti-Semitic attacks are generally by Muslims or radical liberals; however, American Jews supported the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton that promised significant increase in immigration from Muslim conflict zones. During the recent migration crisis in Europe, British Jews repeatedly clamored for massive immigration from Muslim conflict zones; however, in March 2017, the British Home Secretary issued a warning of significant radical Islamic terrorist threat to British Jews. From Bombay to Toulouse and beyond, Jews suffer disproportionately from Muslim attackers.

Some Democratic Party Muslim Americans with records of anti-Semitism condemned the recent anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish cemeteries. The Democratic Party is becoming more open in its embrace of anti-Semitism. Terrorist murderers of Jews (Ramsea Odeh, etc.) and supporters of terrorist murderers of Jews (Keith Ellison, Linda Sarsour, etc.) have prominent positions in the party. Odeh is a terrorist that participated in a PLO attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 that murdered two Jews. Ellison is an anti-Semite that also defends cop killers. He was a long standing member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. Sarsour calls for Israels destruction and she supports Palestinian mass murderers of Jews. Malcolm Hoenlein, the head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, pretends that even anti-Semites oppose anti-Semitism, stating that we cant afford a split on Israel among the Democrats and the Republicans. The fight against anti-Semitism is compromised if Jew hating Democrats are viewed as legitimate partners in fighting anti-Semitism, when they aid and abet anti-Semitism.

There are no Christian states striving to wipe Israel off the map, and there no groups in Hinduism or Buddhism seeking to push Jews into the sea; however, Iran repeatedly states its desire to wipe Israel off the map, and large sections of the Muslim world have become a cesspit of Jewish hatred. Polls of Muslims from various countries indicate significant percentages of Muslims have rabid hatred of Jews.

American Jews undermining Trump because of hurt feelings, irrational fear or lust for power will do more to put Israel and Jews in jeopardy than any Trump administration official or travel ban on foreign nationals from hostile regions ever could. Whatever tensions exist between Trump and both Republican-controlled houses of Congress, they share one thing in common: support of Israel. This should not be interpreted that the Trump administration will favor annexation or a one-state policy. Trump has made it clear that he endorses a two-state policy but, in contrast to Obama, he stipulates that it cannot be imposed without providing Israel with defensible borders and all of the security guarantees it requires. Presently, this objective is unattainable.

During the Obama administration, leaders of the American Jewish community demanded increased Muslim immigration, and supported the lawlessness promoted by BLM. Now, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, they are shocked, shocked that there are increased anti-Semitic attacks and increasing bomb threats to Jewish Centers in the U.S. Unfettered immigration from many Muslim countries pose a problem for Jews more than most.

If Jews cannot remove leaders that put their party before their community, they should form new organizations to defend their interests. Moreover, American Jews should wish President Trump well. May his triumphs be many.

Dr. Sheyin-Stevens is a Registered Patent Attorney based in Florida, USA. He earned his Doctorate in Law from the University of Miami.

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American Jews and the Trump Administration – Arutz Sheva

Holocaust Survivor Relates His Story To Syria’s Refugee Crisis – CBS Miami

March 10, 2017 6:41 PM By Rick Folbaum

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) The six-year Syrian civil war has created the largest exodus of refugees since World War II, so it shouldnt come as a surprise that some of the loudest voices demanding their protection belong to Holocaust survivors.

Syrian children play in the once rebel-held Shaar neighborhood in Aleppo on March 10, 2017. (Photo by JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview held at the University of Miami, CBS4 News anchor Rick Folbaum sat down withDr. Alfred Munzer, who lived through the 20th centurygenocide of Jewish people, to address the comparison.

What are your memories of the war and its immediate aftermath, Folbaum asked.

Well, I was hidden with the Madna family, said Dr. Munzer. A Dutch-Indonesian family. One Caucasian child in a family that looked very different.

His parents faced a horrific decision. With the Nazis rounding up Jews in occupied Holland, they hid their young son at the home of a family friend.

Ive asked Papa Madna, thats what I called him, why he took the risk, why he risked the lives of his family to take in a Jewish baby. His response was a very simple one: What was I to do? To him, really, there was no choice. There was a human in need and he was going to answer it.

To Dr. Munzer, there is another human need now and hes answering it, speaking out as part of an effort by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum to raise awareness about the genocide taking place right now in Syria.

For me, whats always hard to process, even six years into this conflict, is whats going on in Syria on a daily basis. The amount of horror that is being perpetrated against these people is unbelievable to me.

Mouaz Moustafa, from the Syrian Emergency Task Force, is a Syrian immigrant whose family and friends back home are under siege by the dictatorship of Bashar Al Assad, with help from the Russian military. More than 400,000 Syrians have been killed and 11,000,000 forced from their homes.

Al Munzer tells his family horror story from seven decades ago. Moustafas horror is unfolding each and every day.

You were a child of war, said Folbaum. When you hear these stories about the children of Syria, it must move you very deeply.

Absolutely. I think the greatest tragedy of the Holocaust wasnt just the loss of six million Jewish lives, lives of my own sisters, father and many other family members, answered Muzner. It was that the lessons of the Holocaust werent learned. That there have been many genocides since then. I think thats the real tragedy. The world said never again, but instead of that, again and again, we see these atrocities against innocent people. Thats really the sad part.

There are Jews in Syria but not many. The country has never officially recognized the state of Israel. But the mass killings there have generated empathy from many in the Jewish community.

For me to know that people like Al, and the institution of the Holocaust Museum, are standing up for people that are defenseless and have been deserted by the international community, is really the most inspiring thing and something that is incredibly powerful that the Syrian people will never forget, said Moustafa. There must be a better way. We must set aside hatred, prejudice, which can lead ultimately to murder. Thats the lesson of the Holocaust.

Moustafa said he is not dismayed over President Trumps revised travel ban, which specifically targets Syrian refugees. He said hes hopeful the president follows through on his promise of creating safe zones so that his family and friends can stay in Syria, which is what, he says, they really want.

Rick Folbaum anchors the CBS4 evening newscasts at 5 pm, 5:30 pm and 11 pm. He arrived at the station in August, 2013. Since joining WFOR TV, Rick has anchored coverage of many historic news events, both from the studio and from out in the…

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Holocaust Survivor Relates His Story To Syria’s Refugee Crisis – CBS Miami

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

Surprise! Jews are good at baseball – JNS.org

The Sandy Koufax precedent

On a completely different note, why is this team so good? Arent Jews in the Diaspora supposed to be studious scholars who pore over books all day? So first, a clarification: The fact that a team of American Jews has been winning at an international baseball tournament is surprising because the team doesnt include the most successful Jewish players in Major League Baseballlike Alex Bregman, Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler. Actually, this Israeli team is just a footnote in the glorious Jewish history of Americas pastime.

At the inaugural Jewish American Heritage Month celebration in May 2010, President Barack Obama remarked, Weve got senators and representatives, weve got Supreme Court justices and successful entrepreneurs, rabbinical scholars, Olympic athletesand Sandy Koufax.

Koufax is widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Jewish or not. He earned his place in Jewish history, though, thanks to his decision to sit out game one of the 1965 World Series game because it coincided with Yom Kippur. He later won that years World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was named series MVP.

David Trager, a Brooklyn judge who also taught at Tel Aviv University, succinctly explained the meaning of Koufaxs Yom Kippur act. He said, Our parents generation was religious, but they still worked on the Sabbath.In the workshops and even at respectable companies, if you didnt work on Yom Kippur you were fired. Koufax didnt justify his decision with big words about religious faith. He was a completely secular man. He simply said, The Dodgers know I dont work on Yom Kippur. He set the precedent that, like any American, Jews can tell their employers that there are days when they dont work.

But Koufax wasnt the first. Thirty years before him, Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg also sat out a crucial game on Yom Kippur, at a time when Michigan faced a wave of anti-Semitism that was fanned by industrialist Henry Ford.

Israels sports landscape

American Jews are far better at sports than Israeli Jews. Jewish-American athletes have racked up more than 100 Olympic gold medalsto Israels one gold medal. It isnt about the quality of Jewish life in America. Even the Jews of Hungary won 50 gold medals under terrible anti-Semitism. Rather, an athlete performs well when the athletes in the surrounding environment are highly skilled. No Chinese child plays soccer as well as Argentine children. Similarly, Israel wont produce American-caliber baseball stars.

Yet theres no need to bash the Israeli sports landscape, and no need to slam Israels national soccer or basketball teams for not being as prolific as this newly renowned baseball team. The players that comprise the baseball team hail from a baseball superpower, America, even if they represent a different country at the WBC, Israel, that isnt an athletic superpower of any kind.

The Israeli baseball teams American players, meanwhile, arent likely to become heroes in Israel anytime soon. But due to their achievements on the international stage, the world finally knows that Jews are good at baseball.

This op-ed first appeared in Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed in the U.S. exclusively by JNS.org.

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Surprise! Jews are good at baseball – JNS.org

Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

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

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

Bomb threats. Evacuations. Religious vandalism.

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

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

HATE AND PREJUDICE: Blame Trump? Shoreline says ‘No’

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

JCCs: Bomb threats raise old fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old sickness, new symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politicking in response

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

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

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

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

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

CPAC: White nationalist Richard Spencer ousted

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

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

BOMB THREATS: Morris reps call for probe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden State threats

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

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

WATCH: Unity rally at Cherry Hill JCC

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

CENTRAL JERSEY: JCCs receive bomb threats

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

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

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

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

Shoreline connection

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

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

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

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

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

JACKSON: Swaskita, ‘white power’ graffiti appear

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

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

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

LAKEWOOD: Cops arrest juvenile swastika suspects

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

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

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

Alex N. Gecan: 732-643-4043; agecan@gannettnj.com

The USA Today Network contributed to this report.

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Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

Anti-Defamation League Report Says White Supremacists Are Targeting College Campuses – TeenVogue.com

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that there have been over a hundred instances of white supremacist fliering on college campuses since the start of the school year in September, with 60% happening in the past two months alone since the presidential inauguration.

According to the ADL, approaching students is a new tactic by white supremacists, and one theyre openly boasting about. The groups have distributed racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim fliers at campuses nationwide, from Emerson in Massachusetts to the University of Chicago to UCLA. The ADL included speeches by white supremacists in their list, such as Richard Spencers appearance at Texas A&M in December.

The ADL identified three active white supremacist groups trying to establish presences on campuses: American Vanguard, the group responsible for the vast majority of racist fliers tracked in 2016 (including an incident at UT Austin); Identity Evropa, a self-identified alt-right group preserving white American culture, founded in 2016 by Iraqi war veteran Nathan Damigo; and American Renaissance, which has a focus of hanging pro-white racist and anti-Semitic fliers across campuses.

At Rutgers University in the past week alone, Dylan Marek, the president of the Rutgers Conservative Union, seemingly took a racist flier from American Vanguard and included his own words, including a pro-Trump hashtag and hateful rhetoric surrounding immigrants. This is in the wake of two other documented incidents of white supremacist fliers on Rutgers campus in the 2016-2017 academic year.

NC State student Stephanie Tate wrote here at Teen Vogue about an incident in November where fliers seeking white comrades to fight off white genocide were posted on her campus. This was one of numerous incidents. At Fordham University in New York City (where this writer is a student), white supremacist fliers were found on campus in November as well. The university did not trace back the fliers, and students dont know where they came from.

People frequently accuse college campuses of encouraging safe spaces that shield students from the real world. But college campuses are not automatically safe spaces for students of all identities, and in the current political climate, it is even more pivotal that universities do not allow themselves to become increasingly unsafe.

Related: What Its Really Like to Be Black at a Predominantly White School

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Anti-Defamation League Report Says White Supremacists Are Targeting College Campuses – TeenVogue.com

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

Canadian PM promises to keep Jews safe – Arutz Sheva

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday vowed to keep Jews safe, following recent threats against Jewish centers in the country.

This week, Jewish communities across the country have again been targeted by hateful threats and acts designed to make us all afraid. I want to say again we will stand by you every day in the face of intolerance, prejudice and outright criminal acts, Trudeau wrote on Facebook.

We understand the fear and anxiety each one of these threats creates in the Jewish community, especially when the locations targeted are places where Jewish families and children gather. The cowards who target Jewish schools, community centers and synagogues wont shake our resolve, and well work with law enforcement to bring them to justice, he continued.

In Canada, we stand together because we know that diversity is our strength. It built this country. Jews in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and across the country should know they have the full support of the Government of Canada as we guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism. Were with you, and will do everything we can to keep you safe.

This week, two Canadian Jewish centers in Toronto and London, Ontario, received bomb threats.

Last week in Toronto, two swastikas were found drawn in chalk in a York University classroom. Police in York Region in Ontario later said they would increase patrols and presence at synagogues, Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions across the region.

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Canadian PM promises to keep Jews safe – Arutz Sheva

‘ND hero story’: Film planned about Stern’s efforts to save Jews from Nazis – WDAZ

He was able to make his way to Casablanca and, after a long wait in a cramped apartment, boarded a Portuguese ship to the U.S., where his Jewish family was safe from the Holocaust that killed millions during World War II, including relatives who weren’t as lucky.

It was a life-saving trip made possible by Stern’s North Dakota uncle, Herman Stern, who was a prominent businessman and civic booster in Valley City, where he ran the Straus clothing store.

“If it wouldn’t be for Herman Stern, I wouldn’t be here today, and that’s the truth,” Michel Stern said in a new documentary, “The Mission of Herman Stern,” that will debut this fall.

Herman Stern, who died in 1980 at the age of 92, was posthumously awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award, North Dakota’s highest honor, in 2014. He was known by some as the “angel of the prairie” and was credited with quietly helping more than 125 Jews escape persecution in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1941.

Art Phillips, general manager of Video Arts Studios in Fargo, is the director and producer of the documentary. He said Herman Stern’s selfless efforts to help others is a story that deserves to be told on film.

“We just thought it was another untold story that should be told,” Phillips said. “It’s another North Dakota hero story.”

Stern was an active businessman who ran Straus men’s clothing stores and launched a winter show and the Greater North Dakota Chamber. But he kept quiet about his behind-the-scenes efforts to help Jews flee Nazi Germany.

“Grandpa didn’t like publicity,” said Rick Stern. “He thought it was bragging. He was very humble.”

Herman Stern immigrated at age 16 to North Dakota to work at the Straus Clothing Store in Casselton, which had been established by his cousin, Morris Straus. In 1910, he was named manager of the company’s store in Valley City.

After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, anti-Semitism grew virulent. At first, Stern dismissed the worries of physical harm to Jews as exaggerated, but soon became alarmed by the reports he got from relatives.

A worried niece wrote Stern to say she wanted to come to the U.S., and Stern helped her and one of her brother’s make the trip in 1934. He began urging his brothers to leave, and two brothers took his advice and assistance.

One of them, Gustav Stern, was Michel Stern’s father. It was the beginning of what turned out to be years of sustained efforts in sponsoring Jews, many of them distant relatives, to enable them to come to the U.S.

Stern tried to help as many as he could, pledging assets from his business, his personal savings and his home to comply with the U.S. State Department’s sponsorship requirements.

“He just kept bringing them in, bringing them in,” Phillips said.

Phillips started work on the documentary in 2015. “It’s a lot of research before any of the cameras start rolling,” he said.

It took some sleuthing to find people Stern had rescued, as he had never kept a list. Phillips started with the Stern family.

Early in the project, his team traveled to New York City to interview people Stern had helped to immigrate as children now elderly, all said they wouldn’t have lived without his help.

“It was real important that we get it done now,” Phillips said, noting the advanced age of the surviving refugees. “They were very gracious. I can’t thank them enough.”

Phillips also searched archives, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Barnes County Historical Society Museum in Valley City, the Herman Stern collection at the University of North Dakota and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.

“We’re getting resources from all over the place,” Phillips said.

Film footage and audio recordings of Herman Stern’s distinctive German accent also will be part of the documentary, as well as family photographs.

Terry Shoptaugh, a former archivist at Minnesota State University Moorhead, wrote a book about Stern and will be interviewed for the documentary, Phillips said. Lesson plans will be available as a study guide for middle school and high school students.

Phillips, who earlier made a documentary about the late Judge Ronald Davies and his decision to integrate schools in Little Rock, Ark., said Stern’s life story stands as a powerful example.

“He showed us that one person can truly make a difference in so many lives,” he said. “He was a remarkable man.”

How you can help

Those involved in the documentary film, “The Mission of Herman Stern,” still are raising money to finish the project. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at http://www.themissionofhermanstern.org.

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‘ND hero story’: Film planned about Stern’s efforts to save Jews from Nazis – WDAZ

In an Angry and Fearful Nation, an Outbreak of Anti-Semitism – ProPublica

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ProPublicas Documenting Hate project recorded more than 330 reports of anti-Semitic incidents during a three-month span, from early November to early February.

ProPublicas Documenting Hate project recorded more than 330 reports of anti-Semitic incidents during a three-month span, from early November to early February.

by A.C. Thompson and Ken Schwencke ProPublica, March 8, 2017, 5:36 p.m.

In late November, Marna Street, a violist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was walking to her car after a rehearsal. Street was shocked by what she discovered: Someone had painted a swastika, about 14 inches across, on the trunk of her car.

The vandals, Street said, had probably targeted her vehicle, which was parked in a garage not far from the University of Cincinnati, because shed placed a magnet on it indicating that she is Jewish. Street eventually managed scrub off the graffiti. She put the magnet in the glovebox of her car.

I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach, like somebody just punched me, recalled Street, 68, speaking publicly for the first time. It was, she said, a cross between fear and just plain hurt.

Working with a coalition of organizations, ProPublica late last year launched Documenting Hate, an attempt to gather evidence of hate crimes and episodes of bigotry from a divided America. The account from Cincinnati is one of the anti-Semitic incidents the project has chronicled. But there are scores more.

Indeed, Documenting Hate recorded more than 330 reports of anti-Semitic incidents during a three-month span from early November to early February. The accounts our list is by no means comprehensive come via personal submissions, police documents and news articles. The majority, though not all, have been authenticated through either news reports, interviews or other evidence, like photos.

The incidents have taken place in big cities and small towns, along the countrys liberal coasts and in deep red states. Some of the episodes swastikas and threatening messages spray-painted at schools and colleges around the nation have been worrisome, though relatively minor. Others have been more serious, such as the 65 bomb threats targeting Jewish organizations across the country during the period we examined (there have been nearly 70 more since then). In many cases, the culprits singled out specific individuals for abuse, defacing their homes and autos with swastikas and menacing comments.

A timeline of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and other organizations See the graphic.

President Trump, after weeks of criticism for being slow to condemn the incidents, last week called them horrible and painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

The remarks, however, came after a number of confounding comments about the issue. During a Feb. 16 news conference, Trump castigated Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami, a Jewish magazine, for asking what the government was doing to address the increase in anti-Semitic events. Trump accused Turx of lying about the question he wanted to ask, and instructed him to sit down. And without citing any evidence, Trump has wondered whether some of the recent anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by liberals, or Jews themselves, intent on discrediting him.

Theres a push on the left to conflate anti-Semitism with Trump, while at the same time criticizing him for having Jared Kushner, who wears his Jewishness as proudly as anyone, as his most trusted confidant and in the highest echelons of the White House staff, said Joe Borelli, a Trump supporter who represents Staten Island on the New York city council, according to Breitbart News. It is mind-boggling.

The White House would not comment for the record when asked whether President Trump had in any way contributed to the threats and violence.

On a national level, data on hate crimes and bias incidents is spotty at best. The FBI admits the information it collects is incomplete many police departments dont participate in the hate crimes tracking program and the bureau has yet to release statistics on 2016 and 2017. As a result, determining with authority whether anti-Semitic events are rising or declining is difficult.

There is little question, however, that the incidents have generated genuine concern. In a rare show of unity, all 100 U.S. senators this week issued a public letter urging the Department of Justice, FBI and Department of Homeland Security to protect Jewish institutions and prosecute those responsible for terrorizing them. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a $25 million grant to better protect day care and community centers from threats.

The available data does support the idea of an uptick. After years of decline, anti-Semitic crimes began trending upward in 2015, according to FBI data. Experts say that increase seems to have accelerated in recent months, as Trumps unique brand of nativist populism has helped to pull more extreme right-wing groups, some of them avowedly racist, closer to the political mainstream. On Twitter, openly anti-Semitic figures have built vast networks of supporters and cultivated large audiences, while the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website geared towards millennials, has seen its traffic grow to roughly a half a million unique visitors per month. In New York City, the police department said anti-Semitic hate crimes nearly doubled in the first two months of 2017 as compared to the same period last year.

One of the constituencies Trump mobilized was the KKK-style anti-Semitic extreme right, said Lawrence Rosenthal, a scholar of fascist history and director of the Center for Right-Wing Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. These groups had been absolutely on the fringe of American politics for at least my lifetime and I am getting old.

Oren Segal, who tracks anti-Semitic incidents in his role as director of the Anti-Defamation Leagues Center on Extremism, concurs. The anti-Semites think they have a champion in the highest office, said Segal, who believes that divisive rhetoric aired during last falls presidential campaign has emboldened racists and inspired them to strike out at their perceived enemies in the Jewish community.

We have seen a significant uptick in the reports weve received, certainly starting around the election in November and continuing through the first two months of 2017, Segal told ProPublica.

Amid the larger national debate about any responsibility Trump may bear for racist and anti-Semitic behavior, the accounts emerging from the Documenting Hate database offer a chance to appreciate the very personal experiences of violation and fear.

We identified:

ProPublicas review, which did not involve incidents occurring online, where anti-Semitic trolling and abuse have become widespread, uncovered many episodes which had never before been reported by the media or investigated by police.

Our tally is almost surely an undercount. It consists of incidents covered in media reports, as well as accounts gathered by the Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of news organizations including ProPublica, Univision News, Buzzfeed News and The New York Times Opinion section.

The reports we examined generally fall into two categories. Most appear to have been committed by angry individuals who arent affiliated with any organized group. They are often teens or adolescents who defame Jews and other minority groups through graffiti or verbal taunting. In some cases, the Nazi symbol was specifically aimed at non-Jews.

A smaller number were orchestrated by extremist political groups, such as the New Order, an outgrowth of the long-dormant American Nazi Party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell, and the Atomwaffen Division, a new, youthful fascist group. A handful of cases involved a saboteur who remotely hijacked computer printers at Stanford and other colleges, programming them to spit out page after page of neo-Nazi propaganda.

Some experts tracking this wave of incidents said it was crucial to situate them within a wider historical context.

Generally, weve seen a remarkable decline in anti-Semitism over the past 40 years, noted Jonathan Sarna, a history professor at Brandeis University and one of the foremost chroniclers of Jewish-American life. In the 1950s, we didnt just have bomb threats we had bombings. Synagogues in the south were bombed.

Sarna added: Its important to be vigilant and concerned. But its also important to not to overreact.

Across the nation, Jews were directly harassed with hateful imagery and messages in dozens of instances we examined.

During Hanukkah last year, vandals desecrated a large home-made menorah that stood in the front yard of a home in Chandler, Arizona, twisting the sacred symbol into a swastika. Days after the presidential election, New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman found a swastika carved into the elevator door in his Manhattan apartment building and received a flyer in the mail saying that Jews would be punished for failing to convert to Christianity.

Not everyone who has encountered Nazi imagery is Jewish gays, lesbians, African Americans and others have also been targeted.

Consider the story of Karen Schaeffer, who found a swastika and the word SCUM drawn on her front door in mid-November.

I was pretty scared, said Schaeffer, who lives in Wyandotte, Michigan, a small blue-collar town outside of Detroit. Im not even Jewish, but I am a pretty loud-mouthed liberal woman in a town that doesnt always appreciate that.

She has an idea about what drew the attention of the anti-Semites: a campaign sign in her window for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who unsuccessfully ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary.

Police came to Schaeffers house to investigate, but made no arrests.

In Cincinnati, Street, who is the principal violist emeritus with the symphony and a music teacher, said the graffiti on her car left her feeling very vulnerable. Her father and grandmother fled Nazi Germany for the safety of the U.S. in the 1940s.

Several weeks after Streets car was defaced, schools in her city began getting hit with anti-Semitic graffiti.

First, someone painted a large white swastika on a sign at Cincinnatis Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the largest seminary for Reform Judaism in North America.

When the incident happened in early January, it was another psychic blow for Street. She worried about her friends who work at the college, and tried to understand the acts of ugliness taking place in her city. The crimes, she said, are not huge, but compounded they are very frightening.

Across the nation, similar graffiti appeared on the campuses of at more than 35 other colleges during the three months examined by ProPublica.

Late on the night of Jan. 21, a mask-wearing vandal equipped with a spray can defaced Withrow University High School, a public school on Cincinnatis east side, painting Trump and swastikas all over the campus. The vandal, who tagged signs, sidewalks and buildings, also painted anti-gay and anti-black slurs.

Dozens of other schools were also tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti during the same time period.

At a high school in Newton, Massachusetts, somebody wrote Burn the Jews, white power, and Trump!!! on a bathroom stall. At Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut, red swastikas were spray-painted all over the athletic complex. In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, two teenage girls were expelled from Blackman High School for drawing a swastika in a bathroom stall.

Some people will say that the swastika vandalism is just being done by a bunch of kids and dismiss it as irrelevant. I think its the opposite. The fact that young kids are doing this is potentially the scariest part of it, said Segal of the Anti-Defamation League.

On college campuses, much of the new anti-Semitism has been coming from organized groups of extremists out to intimidate or recruit new members.

At the University of Washington, in Seattle, a pro-Trump student group calling itself the UW Wall Building Association flirted with Nazism in a public Facebook post suggesting that undocumented immigrants should be sent to concentration camps.

Neo-Nazis also crisscrossed the university campus at night, pasting up stark black-and-white posters threatening violence and uploading videos of their exploits to YouTube. One poster, featuring the deaths head, or Totenkopf insignia, used by the SS during World War II, promised to Drive out the sodomites and degenerates of Seattle. Another poster encouraged students to join your local Nazis and visit the website IronMarch.com, a fascist web hang-out that encourages people to exterminate Jews and start a race war now.

People are just shocked. We cant believe this is happening, said a graduate student who requested anonymity for fear of being harassed.

When the student saw the posters, she said she felt physically ill. I called my mom and was sobbing. I was so upset. My ancestors were slaughtered by the Nazis, said the student, who is Jewish.

The neo-fascist organization did not reply to a request for an interview about its activities.

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but theres no reliable data on their nature or prevalence. Were collecting reports to create a national database for use by journalists and civil-rights organizations. See the project.

The vandalizing of a Jewish graveyard in St. Louis becomes a very personal entry in our Documenting Hate database. Read the story.

White nationalist groups including Identity Evropa, led by a California man convicted of attacking an Arab cab driver at gunpoint, and True Cascadia, which aims to promote White ethnic consciousness in the Pacific Northwest, are also propagandizing at the school.

Segal has tracked 112 instances of white supremacist groups posting flyers on college campuses since September 2016.

Over the past several months, synagogues and other Jewish institutions have come under sustained harassment.

In December, somebody repeatedly hurled rocks through the windows of Temple Menorah-Keneseth Chai, a historic synagogue in Philadelphia. On the opposite side of the country, in Las Vegas, a young man in jeans and a pull-over sweatshirt scratched a swastika into a black marble column during Shabbat services at Chabad of Southern Nevada.

In other states, Christian churches ministering to gays and lesbians or Latinos have also been tagged with swastikas.

But it is the array of bomb threats directed at Jewish community centers that has captured the most media attention and generated the most concern. Federal authorities on March 3 charged Juan Thompson, an erratic former journalist who once wrote for the Intercept website, with making threats to a small number of JCCs as well as other Jewish institutions.

But the figures responsible for the scores of threats to other JCCs remain at large. On March 7, another 17 locations of Jewish institutions in the U.S. received bomb threats.

Some faith leaders are urging President Trump to issue a stronger public condemnation of anti-Semitism before the problem worsens. We need him to say very forcefully, This is not acceptable and to follow up with action, said Rabbi Steven Fox, chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the nations most prominent rabbinical body.

Fox said Jewish community leaders have requested a meeting with the White House to discuss the surge in anti-Semitic activity, but, so far, have not been granted an audience with Trump or his advisors.

Within his denomination, Reform Judaism, there is great concern about this uptick in hate crimes, this increase in hate speech, Fox told ProPublica. In the last two years weve seen this real hatred for anybody thats different hatred for Muslims, hatred for the LGBTQ community. We see it as a deeply troubling trend, not just in America, but in the world.

A.C. Thompson covers criminal justice issues for ProPublica. He has been a reporter for 12 years, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area.

Ken Schwencke is a journalist and developer building news apps for ProPublica’s Electionland project.

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In an Angry and Fearful Nation, an Outbreak of Anti-Semitism – ProPublica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Finding the needle in the haystack’: Israeli soldiers scour social media to stop violence – CBC.ca

The young Israeli soldiers sitting in front of a bank of computers are logged into Facebook. But they’re not checking their friends’ status updates.

They’re trying to prevent attacks against fellow Israelis.

Inside the command centre called the “war room” of an army base in the occupied West Bank, members of an Israel Defense Forces intelligence unit sort through thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, looking for digital warning signs.

“Words like, ‘knife, bomb,’ stuff like that,” said Capt. Y, the commander of the IDF intelligence unit at an Israeli base near Beit El, just outside of Ramallah. (Israel’s military prohibits revealing the full names of soldiers working in intelligence. We also weren’t able to photograph him from the front.)

“We look for these words in the posts and that helps us determine who is more probable to commit something.”

Israel has become a world leader in monitoring social media to try to predict and prevent attacks. Experts say other nations, particularly those in Europe, would benefit by emulating Israel in this respectas the threat from so-called “lone wolf” attackers continues.

Since a recentwave of violence began in October2015, nearly 40 Israelishave died in attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Meanwhile, more than 200 Palestinians most of them attackers, according to Israel have been killed.

The last major attack occurred in January, when police said a Palestinian man rammed his vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four and injuring more than a dozen others.

This Facebook post from October 2015 shows a knife with the caption, in both Arabic and Hebrew, ‘We are coming to slaughter you. Allah bless the men of resistance.’ These are the kinds of social media pages the IDF is monitoring for potential attackers. (Courtesy MEMRI)

Many of the perpetrators have been young, between 15 to 25 an age group that uses social mediaheavily. Most have acted alone, without the backing of an organized groupsuch as Hamas.

Many found inspirationor even instructionsonline, where some users offer advice, including onhow to cause the maximum physical damage to a person with a knife.

Israeli officials have accused Palestinians of incitement online and have tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to persuade sites such as Facebook to take down offensive posts.

Sothe battle to stop the violence has largely moved online, with a growing group of Israeli security officials working with several agencies, includingthe military, police and the Israeli intelligence agencyShin Bet.

“It’s finding the needle in the haystack, it’s finding out which information is important and which isn’t,” said Capt. Y.

While the captainsaid his unit has prevented attacks from occurring, he could not give any numbers.

“That’s the difficult part of intelligence, you never know when you succeed or save lives, but we would like to think we do everyday. We see terrorists attacks being prevented.”

The young Israeli soldiers scoursocial media sites for trigger wordsand for users who may have posted photos praising people who have carried out attacks.

Given the large numbers of accounts to watch, the unitemploys highly advancedalgorithmsthat are constantly updated to target their searches.

If, for example, three or fourattackers come from the same town, the army will keep a closer eye on posts from that village.

The IDF would not divulgespecifics about how their monitoring program works, worried it could tip off prospective plotters. The intelligence corps operates largely in the shadows. My visit tothe BeitEl “war room” was thefirst fromaforeign journalist.

The unit is not just watchingPalestinians.Israeli media outlets have reportedthe security forces monitor the social media accounts of Israeli citizens, keeping an eye out for those writing about protests and boycotts of the country.

There has been little public outcry among Israelis, however, as the monitoring appears to have beenfocused on a small group of activists.

Nimrod Kozlovski, a leading Israeli cybersecurity expert, says the Israel Defense Forces have ‘unique excellence’ in monitoring social media to find potential attackers. (Courtesy Nimrod Koslovski)

The IDF realized more than two decadesago that computers would become an increasingly important weapon in their arsenal.

The members of these units are as revered as fighter jet pilots, said one of Israel’s leading cybersecurity experts, Nimrod Kozlovski.

“Israel just got better and better in how we deploy technologies that enableus to replace physical presence and human intelligence with better technological capabilities,” said Kozlovski, a professor atTel Aviv University and former member of the IDF’s tech warfare team.

Some countries have sought out Israel’s expertise in the area, although the IDFwould not provide a list of nations seeking what Kozlovski calls Israel’s “unique excellence” in this field.

“I think that some of the terror activities we see now in Europe have very similar patterns to what we saw in Israel,” Kozlovski said.

“I think we were able to smartly handle this challenge, primarily with technology and I think that Europe is not well prepared yet to cope with this challenge.”

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‘Finding the needle in the haystack’: Israeli soldiers scour social media to stop violence – CBC.ca

Sad, but not surprising – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Rabbi Yona Metzger. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

On February 23, the Jerusalem District Court rejected former chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yonah Metzgers plea bargain and extended his prison sentence, for fraud and bribery, to four-and-a-half years.

Also, he will pay a fine of NIS 5 million for tax evasion. These crimes were committed while Metzger served as chief rabbi and the judge noted that Metzger should have been a model for exemplary behavior as a religious and spiritual leader. Instead, he joins too many Israeli political leaders as an example of corruption, criminal behavior, overreaching greed and arrogance.

Rabbi Metzger is the first former chief rabbi to go to prison. Sadly, I am not surprised as I served on the Commission to Appoint Dayanim as the Israel Bar Associations representative during Metzgers tenure as chief rabbi.

In December 2004, a year after he was elected chief rabbi, attorney-general Mani Mazuz (currently a Supreme Court justice) ordered a police investigation into complaints of fraud and bribery. In May 2005, the investigation was completed and it was recommended that Rabbi Metzger be charged. Immediately after the publication of the police recommendation, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court demanding Metzger withdraw from sitting as a dayan (religious court judge) in the Rabbinic Court of Appeals as well as from participation in the meetings of the Commission to Appoint Dayanim. In June 2005 Metzger agreed to cease work as a dayan and a member of the commission.

In April 2006, attorney-general Mazuz published a 40-page document summarizing his decision to close the case against Rabbi Metzger because of insufficient evidence.

However, Mazuz pointed out that Metzgers actions and failure to be truthful during the investigation raised serious questions about his suitability to serve in the prestigious office of chief rabbi. Mazuz concluded that Metzger was unfit morally and spiritually for the post and therefore should resign. Legislation creating the Chief Rabbinate did not provide for the removal of a sitting chief rabbi, but Mazuz argued that if Metzger refused to step down, the justice minister could convene the Commission to Appoint Dayanim to consider ending his role as a dayan.

Since Metzger indeed refused to resign, I found myself, alongside my colleagues on the commission, part of a jury tasked with determining whether Metzger was fit to serve as a dayan. I took my new role very seriously and spent many days reviewing the case records, including the police investigation and the attorney-generals recommendations.

While Rabbi Metzger did not appear before the commission to give testimony, his highly respected criminal lawyer, Prof. David Libai, appeared on his behalf. Since both Libai and I are graduates of the University of Chicago, I was particularly proud of his eloquent and masterful presentation. However, his responses to questions I raised were not convincing.

I found the prosecutors arguments far more powerful, especially in light of Metzgers behavior prior to being elected chief rabbi as well as afterwards. We were reminded that in the late 1990s, Metzger was a candidate for the position of chief rabbi of Tel Aviv. At that time several complaints as to his suitability were brought to the voting body and several Orthodox leaders testified. Written opinions by leading religious scholars argued that Metzger was unfit for the post. In 1998, thenchief rabbi Bakshi Doron and his colleagues found Metzgers responses to the complaints evasive and contradictory. Before completion of their investigation, however, Metzger sent a letter withdrawing his candidacy. Therefore the investigation was closed.

After Metzger was elected chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel in 2003, Rabbi Doron wrote the following: It never occurred to me that Metzger had the chutzpah to submit his candidacy to be elected chief rabbi of Israel after he agreed to withdraw his candidacy to the post of chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

Apparently the questions I posed during the commissions hearings became known in the religious establishment and there was concern that I might vote to remove Rabbi Metzger. Leading rabbis, most of whom I respected for their scholarship and integrity, began to call me and argue that Metzger should not be removed under any circumstances.

When I replied that the evidence of his criminal behavior was compelling, they claimed that removing a chief rabbi would set a dangerous precedent. As an observant woman, mother, wife, grandmother, lawyer and Israeli citizen, I was shocked and saddened by the response of these spiritual leaders.

In February 2008, my colleagues on the commission voted to retain Metzger as a dayan. I wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing that he was morally, ethically and halachically unfit to serve.

In 2013, during the last year of his tenure, a new criminal investigation into his activities while serving as chief rabbi was begun. Criminal charges were brought against him and he pleaded guilty in January 2017.

This sad and shameful story raises several questions: Why was Metzger allowed to become a candidate for chief rabbi of Israel given his background? How and why was Metzger elected to the position of chief rabbi? It is no secret that selection of a chief rabbi is highly political, and there are those who claim Metzger was chosen by Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) leaders to weaken the position of chief rabbi. Whether that claim is true or not, it is clear that he has brought deep shame and public disdain on the office of the Chief Rabbinate. Perhaps the real question is: why does Israel need chief rabbis today? The author is a womens rights lawyer based in Jerusalem. Elected by the Israel Bar Association in December 2002 to be its representative on the Commission to Appoint Dayanim, she was the only woman on the commission at that time and was reelected to a second term in December 2005, serving until January, 2009.

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Sad, but not surprising – Jerusalem Post Israel News

After 435 Years, Edinburgh University Gets a Torah – Chabad.org

Students in Scotland are getting a gifta substantial giftright after Purim.

A new Torah is in the works for Jewish students at the University of Edinburgh, which is served by Chabad of Edinburgh, co-directed by Rabbi Pinny and Gitty Weinman.

This will be the first and only Torah in Scotland dedicated for Jewish students, the rabbi tells Chabad.org.

On March 19one week after the Purim holiday commemorating the saving of the Jewish people in ancient Persia by Queen EstherUniversity of Edinburgh students and members of the broader community will join together to watch a scribe complete the final letters of the Torah scroll, and then celebrate with an LED glow show, music and refreshments.

More than 150 people are expected to attend the festivities. The University of Edinburgh dates back to 1582; it is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world.

The students are very excited to be able to celebrate Jewish pride in Scotlands capital city, says Weinman, especially during these challenging times in Europe, referring to a surge of anti-Semitism and a spate of attacks, primarily in Western Europe.

Rabbi Pinny Weinman, co-director of Chabad of Edinburgh, holds the Torah for use by Jewish students at the university (Photo: Bais Yisroel Torah Gemach)

Chabad serves the 1,000 or so Jewish residents, students included, who call Edinburgh home. The Weinmans also help fill the Jewish needs of the many tourists who pass through the second-largest city in the country (after Glasgow).

Until now, they have borrowed a Torah. But thanks to an initiative for Chabad on Campus emissaries, in partnership with the Brooklyn-based Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach and in coordination with Chabad on Campus International, their own is in the making. It comes as a result of donor Dani and Diana Sragowicz of Bal Harbour, Fla., in an effort to provide Torahs to Chabad Houses and start-up minyans in need of one.

In addition to the Scotland Torah, a shipment of Torahs went out two months ago to campus emissaries in North America.

More Torahs on college campuses means more access for Jewish students to the words and wisdom of our heritage, says Rabbi Yossy Gordon, executive vice president of the Chabad on Campus International.

The community will join together to watch a scribe complete the final letters of the Torah scroll on March 19. (Photo: Bais Yisroel Torah Gemach)

The Beis Yisroel Gemach is a project of Merkos Suite 302 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Overseen on a daily basis by Bentzion Chanowitz, it has, to date, organized 137 loans of more than 90 Torahs, mostly to Chabad emissaries. Many of the loans are of refurbished Torahs on a short-term basis, with the goal of getting permanent ones for the borrowers. Other Torahs are brand-new, sponsored by donors the world over. The very first Torah loaned out, notes Chanowitz, was one he inherited from his father.

More broadly, loans were made recently to Argentina, China, Toronto, Hawaii, Nebraska and to an Israel kibbutz. A short-term loan was also given to a Chabad emissary from Lod, Israel, who accompanied hundreds of Jews to Zanzibar, where they got to hear from the Torah while training for a month in the banking industry.

These Torahs were commissioned in honor of the three Israeli teenage boys abducted and killed by Palestinians in June, 2015. Holding them, from left, are Yankel Yankelowitz; Bentzion Chanowitz, who runs the Torah Gemach, a project of Merkos Suite 302; Yerachmiel Paskin; and sofer (Torah scribe) Rabbi Daniel Dovid Dahan.

From murdered teens to fallen soldiers, responding to death with the Tree of Life

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After 435 Years, Edinburgh University Gets a Torah – Chabad.org

Facing antisemitism: Counter hate with love – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri. (photo credit:REUTERS)

This is a message I shared with the Temple Beth-El (Birmingham, Alabama) community in the wake of last weeks bomb scare at the local JCC:

Fellow members of the Temple Beth-El community:

Experiencing something first-hand always has a greater impact than just reading about it. I went to the Levite Jewish Community Center after minyan this morning to work out, and wasnt able to because there was a bomb threat in progress. Kids had to go out into the cold and rain. Lives were disrupted. Public resources were wasted, as we had several police cars present as well as a fire truck (just in case).

I stood out in the cold with some of the staff members for a while. Maybe we were a little too complacent if we really thought there was a bomb in the building, we wouldnt have been standing so close to the building, under the awning by the main entrance. If the police thought there might really be a bomb in the building, hopefully they wouldnt have ALLOWED us to stand that close to the building.

The most upsetting thing to me wasnt that my workout was interrupted thats certainly small potatoes. What was upsetting was hearing the woman who answered the phone when the hate-filled message arrived. She was clearly upset, and I was upset hearing the actual words and threats made by the caller.

But we must get past our fears. Love is stronger than hate.

These are not prank calls. Prank calls are random acts of harassment. These calls are acts of hate. These calls and we werent the only one, 16 other Jewish centers around the country were also targeted today are planned, coordinated acts of antisemitism, just as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia are acts antisemitism.

Personally, I sometimes feel confused by antisemitism. Im a Jew, and I know that Jews are kind, generous, capable, and contribute to the betterment of the world way out of proportion to their small numbers.

Why would anyone hate us?

Antisemitism is a complex brew of fear, envy and unease with people who are different. We have a lot of customs that set us apart from our neighbors, ranging from the choices of what we eat at the barbecue, to waving agricultural products around in the air every fall, to living on crackers for a week every spring, or not working on Saturday.

I believe its more important than ever that we affirm our Judaism, proudly and publicly; that we cling to our quirky customs as a badge of pride. Because doing so while at the same countering hate with love will contribute to the betterment of the world.

We need a world where all are accepted, regardless of how they pray, what they wear, or whom they love. The answer to hate is not to assimilate and become just like them. The answer to hate is not to hate others in return. The answer to hatred is to refuse to demonize ANY other group, to remain who we are, while setting a good example living two of the most important commandments we have: Love your neighbor as yourself and as the sage Hillel put it, what is hateful to you, do not do unto others.

Be a visible Jew and go to events supporting other minority groups, whether its Muslims, African-Americans, refugees or immigrants. Be a light to the nations. Set a good example of love, acceptance and compassion.

And support our communal institutions that are under attack. Join the JCC. Send your kids to the preschool there. Send your kids to the day school.

All of the Jewish institutions in Birmingham have security measures in place. We should all cultivate the Israeli attitude toward attacks on our community: a refusal to allow attacks to disrupt our lives. To be a stiff-necked people and insist on living life as usual in the face of those who would disrupt our lives, to refuse to give those who hate us a victory.

Bvirkat shalom (with blessings of peace), Rav Barry

The writer, a rabbi and businessman who normally makes his home in Jerusalem, is on an interim assignment as a congregational rabbi in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Facing antisemitism: Counter hate with love – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Letters to the Editor The McGill Daily – The McGill Daily (blog)

Responses against the recently published article, “Jewish identity in a pickle”

Response to Jewish identity in a pickle, written by IJV McGill

Upon reading this article, I was struck by the factual inaccuracy, slander and perversion of Jewish identity that the authors employed to further their agenda as members of Independent Jewish Voices, an organization who criticizes Israeli state policy through a de-legitimization of the Jewish connection to Israel.

De-legitimizing this connection is factually inaccurate. The authors cite the Jewish people as diasporic, however they fail to mention that the reason the Jews constitute a diaspora is because they originate from the kingdom of Judah (what is now Israel/Palestine). Failing to acknowledge this fact is an attempt to pervert history. Jews are a Semitic people indigenous to the Levant and this is non-contestable.

Zionism was not a radical idea invented by Herzl, as the authors claim. The central tenets of Zionism, which encompasses the notion that Jews should be able to return to the land they have been expelled from since 740 BCE, has always been present in the Jewish consciousness. Of course, not all Jews believe this. However, decrying Herzl as a colonial oppressor ignores the fact that many Jews very much wanted to seek refuge in their ancestral homeland, due to their persecution across Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.

The article chooses to associate Zionism with elite Ashkenazi colonialists. Claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are privileged (which perpetuates an anti-Semitic stereotype that has existed since the 1800s) ignores the diversity of Ashkenazi Jewish experiences and invalidates the authors attempt to create an inclusive space for all Jews. Being a Zionist does not mean supporting Israeli state policy. Many Israelis are Zionists who share a plurality of political views, and are constantly mobilizing in protest of unjust Israeli state policies. I would encourage the IJV to inform themselves before they make sweeping claims that generalizes an entire ethno-religious identity.

Rachel Coburn

On IJVs Rant: So Many Words, So Little Substance

I write in response to the recent McGill Daily feature, Judaism in a Pickle, penned by three students who proudly flaunted their anti-Zionism yet lacked the courage to do so using their real names, instead hiding under pseudonyms.

The facts and anecdotes in the article range from the mendacious to the absurd. Thus, the commentary itself commits historical error by marginalizing the leadership and contribution of Eastern-European-Jews to the Zionist project, despite the fact that Israels first four Prime Ministers (one a woman) came from the Russian Empire. Meanwhile, a story of rejecting Israeli pickles is offered as some courageous sign of moral development and gusty rebellion.

IJV complains that its views are ignored and marginalized. The organized Jewish community has every legal and moral right to reject views that directly conflict with, indeed threaten, its members and values. As Rabbi Reuven Poupko succinctly put it, You dont invite butchers to a vegetarians convention.

An entity that affirms everything ultimately affirms nothing.

IJV is entitled to its views, repugnant as I and many others find them. It is not entitled to impose them on the many others, myself included, who utterly reject them and for whom their Jewish heritage and identity and love for the land, people, and State of Israel are indivisible.

I wish to highlight the fact that in its approximately four-thousand word discourse, IJV did not see it necessary or even warranted to deploy any words to condemn the nakedly inciteful and violent tweet that Sadikov published.

Sometimes it is the words that arent stated that speak the loudest.

Michael A. (Mikie) Schwartz, Third Year Student, McGill University Faculty of Law

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Letters to the Editor The McGill Daily – The McGill Daily (blog)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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