The Dayton Jewish Observer, March 2023

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OBSERVER DAYTON THE Published by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton March 2023 Adar/Nisan 5783 Vol. 27, No. 7 David Moss designs Grace After Meals in comic book form p. 22 The Miami Valley’s Jewish Monthly • Was a Butler Co. magistrate fired for being Jewish? A federal jury said yes. p. 7 Ohio-based Nazi homeschool network 9 From the Shoah to the American Dream, via basketball 23 This Purim, make a GIANT hamantash 21 Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton 525 Versailles Drive Dayton, OH 45459 Address Service Requested NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE P A I D DAYTON, OHIO PERMIT NO. 59 Where are the Jews of the Miami Valley? Dan Grunfeld A lesson plan shared by the creator of the neo-Nazi Dissident Homeschool Network Screenshot via Telegram

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Federation launches video for those considering move to the Miami Valley

Screenshot of a PJ Library family event from the Jewish Federation video, Are there really Jews in Dayton?

To showcase Jewish life in the Miami Valley for those considering a move here, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton launched a threeminute video, Are there really Jews in Dayton?, on Feb. 9 at, YouTube, and social media sites.

The video, directed by native Daytonian Stephen Levinson, features members of the Jewish community sharing what they love about Jewish life in the Miami Valley.

It also shows cultural and recreational amenities, and emphasizes the affordable cost of living in the region.

According to Jewish Federation CEO Cathy Gardner, the video came about through the Federation's Jewish Dayton Dreams Big project a few years ago.

"One of the initiatives was to market Dayton as a great place to live Jewishly," she said, "not only to our community, but to those who may be thinking of relocating to the Miami Valley."

The project manager for the video was Patty Caruso. The Jewish Federation held a video premiere party the evening before its official launch, at the Downtown Dayton Metro Library.

Humor & hope in Bible, Jewish Christian dialogue, theme of Ryterband Symposium

Smith College Jewish Studies Prof. Joel S. Kaminsky and Hartford International University President Joel N. Lohr will lead the 43rd Annual Ryterband Symposium in Judaic Studies, Thursday, March 30 at United Theological Seminary.

The symposium is cosponsored by The University of Dayton, United Theological Seminary, and Wright State University.

Joel S. Kaminsky Joel N. Lohr

At 4 p.m., Kaminsky will present the lecture God Has Brought Me Laughter: Exploring Humor & Hope in the Bible

At 7:30 p.m., his talk will be Jewish/Christian Dialogue is no Joke...Or is it?, followed by Lohr's lecture, Is Christian Humor Even a Thing? What I’ve Learned from Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Both sessions are free and open to the public. UTS is located at 4501 Denlinger Rd., Trotwood. For more information, contact UTS Prof. Anthony Le Donne at acledonne@united. edu.

Make reservations for congregational Passover Seders

It's not too early to make reservations for community Passover Seders across the Dayton area. Chabad will host its Erev Passover Seder at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5. The cost is $36 adult, $20 child. No one is turned away because of the inability to pay. Chabad also offers Seder at Home kits and/or full Passover meals to go. RSVP to or call 937-643-0770.

Beth Abraham Synagogue will hold its Second Seder at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 6. For details and reservations, go to

Temple Israel will hold its Second Seder at 6 p.m., April 6, prepared by Bernstein's Fine Catering. The cost is $36 adult, $20 ages 3 to 12. RSVP by March 27 to 937-496-0050.

Temple Beth Or's Second Seder, also catered by Bernstein's, begins at 6:30 p.m., April 6. For prices and reservations, go to

And Temple Sholom in Springfield's Second Seder, also by Bernstein's, begins at 6 p.m., April 6. The cost is $25 adult, $12.50 child. RSVP by March 24 to 937-399-1231

PAGE 2 THE DAYTON JEWISH OBSERVER • MARCH 2023 DAYTON Are you reading this? So is our Jewish community. Contact Patty Caruso at to advertise in The Observer. Arts & Culture.........................23 Calendar..................................19 Family Education....................22 Obituaries...........................26 Opinion.........................17 Religion..........................20 MANAGEMENT RECRUITERS OF DAYTON BUILDING THE HEART OF BUSINESS Staffing Needs? Call The Professionals! Jeff Noble • 937-228-8271 •
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After years of shrinking, ID'd Jewish population plateaus

But number of children with area Jewish congregations down by 45.6% since 2015

Based on data from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton, the identified Jewish households and population across the Miami Valley have hit plateaus after decades of shrinking.

The Observer's analysis of the Jewish Federation's database puts the number of identified Jewish households in the Miami Valley at 1,534, a slight increase of 2.8% from 2015.

The number of identified Jews in the Miami Valley is 2,641, a slight decrease of 2.9% since 2015.

The number of children ages newborn through 19 on the Federation's database, down only six from 2015, is now 387, 14.7% of the current total identified

Jewish population.

Those age 60 and up on the list comprise 1,259 people, 47.7% of the known population, which, according to Ira Sheskin — director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami — shows more about those who choose to connect with the organized Jewish community than the actual number of Jews in the Miami Valley.

As in 2015, Sheskin estimates the total Jewish population of the Miami Valley at 4,000, about a third more than we know of.

Since 2006, Sheskin has served as editor of The American Jewish Yearbook. He helped The Observer analyze the Federation's list in 2015 as he now has

Miami Valley identified Jewish population, February 2023

Total ID’d households: 1,534

Total ID’d people: 2,641

Source: Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.

Estimated Jewish population by demographer Ira Sheskin: 4,000

in 2023.

"There are a lot of households not even on the Federation list," he says.

In 2015, the Miami Valley's identified Jewish population had declined by more than half over the previous 20 years.

The causes at the time were younger Jews who began leaving the Miami Valley in the wake of the recession of 2008, and elderly Jews moving or passing away.

Here are key findings of The Observer's analysis of the Federation's database.

Continued on Page Four

The Core: 61.7% of ID'd Jewish households, 64.8% of ID'd Jewish people in the Miami Valley live in these contiguous communities

What’s I’ve got a FILLING, a FILLING deep inside...

Bark Mitzvah Boy OMenachem Happy Purim!

Here are some notes to help you digest this month's cover story:

• You'll see the term "identified Jews" frequently. This is intentional. When it comes to analyzing the Jewish Federation database, it's key to remember we're not talking about every Jew or every Jewish household in the Miami Valley. We're talking about those our organized local Jewish community has identified. This article only refers to the entire Miami Valley Jewish community with demographer Ira Sheskin's estimate that it likely encompasses a third more people than we know of.

• Zip Codes sometimes overlap municipalities. I've done my best to identify all within each Zip Code I mention. If I've missed any, please let me know.

• With the Jewish Federation database, I looked at youths from newborn to age 19. With congregations, I looked at newborns to age 18.

Oh no.

THE DAYTON JEWISH OBSERVER • MARCH 2023 PAGE 3 From the editor’s desk
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Marshall Weiss Demographer Ira Sheskin
Communities Households People • Centerville/Wash. Twp./Bellbrook/Springboro/Miamisburg (45458, 45459, 45305, 45066, 45342) 429 (45.3%) 789 (46.1%) • Kettering/Wash. Twp./Centerville/Oakwood/Dayton south (45409, 45419, 45429) 346 (36.5%) 627 (36.6%) • Kettering/Fairborn/Beavercreek/Xenia (45324, 45385, 45430, 45431, 45432, 45434, 45440) 172 (18.2%) 296 (17.3%) Total: 947 1,712 Percentages are against entire ID’d Jewish households/people across the Miami Valley. Zips not listed each comprise under 4.2% of both households/people. Source: Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.
• My special thanks go to Jewish Federation's database guru, Sheila Myers, for pulling together the information for this article, and to our congregations, Chabad, and Hillel Academy for participating once again. a hamantash’s favorite song?

The Core: Ages of ID'd Jews by Location

ID'd Jewish population

Continued from Page Three

ID'd Jews live in 77 Zip Codes across the Miami Valley.

But in only four Zip Codes are the number of Jewish households and Jewish people above 4.2% of the identified Jewish totals in the Miami Valley. Those four are:

• 45429: 169 households (11%), 268 people (10.1%)

• 45459: 166 households (10.8%), 273 people (10.3%)

• 45458: 153 households (10%), 325 people (12.3%)

• 45419: 135 households (8.8%), 292 people (11.1%)

A core of households & population follows I-675 from south to east.

A solid majority of the Miami Valley's known Jewish community now lives along I-675, from Springboro to Xenia. This is in addition to the already established core running from Oakwood through Kettering, Centerville, and Washington Township. This contiguous, now expanded core is home to 61.7% of ID'd Jewish households and 64.8% of ID'd Jewish people in the Miami Valley.

The core is growing.

Since 2015, the number of ID'd Jewish households in this expanded core has increased by 15.2%; the number of known Jewish people in the core is up 7.2%.

Beavercreek and Fairborn now comprise 10% of ID'd Jewish households and people in the Miami Valley. That's because of an increase in ID'd Jewish households of 50% and an increase in ID'd Jews of 42% in Beavercreek and Fairborn since 2015.

Miamisburg is now home to 41 ID'd Jewish households with 62 people, increases of 28.1% and 31.9% respectively since 2015.

Xenia and Springboro have held steady with slight increases since 2015: Xenia is home to 18 ID'd Jewish households with 32 Jews, and Springboro has 52 ID'd Jewish households with 97 Jews.

So too has Bellbrook, with 17 ID'd Jewish households and 32 Jews.

A deeper dive into the core:

• 70.8% of known Jewish children in the Miami Valley (newborn-19) live in the core.

• 69.5% of ID'd Jewish adults ages 20-39 live in the core.

• The largest concentration of children (newborn-19) in the core is in Centerville/Washington Township Zip Codes 45458 and 45459, with 93 children, 35.9%.

Pockets of community across the region achieve some growth.

Since 2015, areas that have had modest increases in known Jewish population are Tipp City (21 households, 36 people), Yellow Springs (35 households, 59 people), and Springfield (29 households, 61 people).

Downtown Dayton, 45402, comprises 29 households and 48 people.

Shrinking areas are still a presence.

A generation ago, the majority of the Miami Valley's Jewish community lived in the suburbs northwest of Dayton. Though these population centers have shrunk significantly, pockets remain in Englewood (53 households, 87 people), Vandalia (19 households, 30 people), Dayton 45405 (30 households, 37 people), and Dayton 45415 (65 households, 96 people).

Declines at Jewish congregations reflect the national trend.

The Miami Valley's synagogues and temples provided The Observer with data that indicate shrinking memberships and numbers of children, which demographer Ira Sheskin says is in line with national trends he sees.

The total number of Miami Valley primary congregation memberships by household is down 14.8% since 2015, from 911 household memberships to 776. This represents 50.6% of the number of Miami Valley households on the Federation list.

Within these congregations, the number of children (newborn-18) has decreased 45.6% since 2015, from 309 to 168. This is about 44% of the number of Miami Valley ID'd Jewish children on the Federation list.

Sheskin points out that the number of U.S. Jews who are affiliated with a Jewish congregation is 35 percent, according to the Pew Research Center's Jewish Americans 2020 study,

Editor and Publisher Marshall Weiss



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Published by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton Mary Rita Weissman President Dan Sweeny President Elect Marni Flagel Secretary Neil Friedman Treasurer Ben Mazer VP Personnel

Teddy Goldenberg VP Resource Dev. Dr. Heath Gilbert Immediate Past Pres. Cathy Gardner CEO

The Dayton Jewish Observer, Vol. 27, No. 7. The Dayton Jewish Observer is published monthly by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton, a nonprofit corporation, 525 Versailles Dr., Dayton, OH 45459.

Views expressed by columnists, in readers’ letters, and in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinion of staff or layleaders of The Dayton Jewish Observer or the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. Acceptance of advertising neither endorses advertisers nor guarantees kashrut.

The Dayton Jewish Observer Mission Statement

To support, strengthen and champion the Dayton Jewish community by providing a forum and resource for Jewish community interests.

Goals • To encourage affiliation, involvement and communication.

• To provide announcements, news, opinions and analysis of local, national and international activities and issues affecting Jews and the Jewish community.

• To build community across institutional, organizational and denominational lines.

• To advance causes important to the strength of our Jewish community including support of Federation agencies, its annual campaign, synagogue affiliation, Jewish education and participation in Jewish and general community affairs.

• To provide an historic record of Dayton Jewish life.

The Dayton Jewish Observer

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Since people get married later, they have fewer children. All at the Dayton Metro Library! For details, visit workshops, fellowship, storytimes, dance classes, movies, painting, and discussion programs.
Kettering/Oakwood/ Dayton south & east 108 (18.5%) 76 (13%) 123 (21%) 278 (47.5%) Age Ranges 0-19 20-39 40-59 60+ Source: Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. Centerville/Wash. Twp./ Bellbrook/S'boro/M'burg 122 (16.6%) 104 (14.2%) 143 (19.5%) 366 (49.8%) Fairborn/ Beavercreek/Xenia 44 (16.7%) 46 (17.4%) 55 (20.8%) 119 (45.1%)

and that number has remained steady over the past 30 years.

"Everybody thinks that the percentage of households with synagogue members is way down, that numbers used to be really higher," he says. "It turns out that since 1990, it really hasn't changed."

In combination with that figure, the Jewish birthrate in the U.S. has dropped according to Pew.

"Something that is clearly happening is that the number of children in the Jewish community is down because the number of children that Jewish women are having is down in a pretty significant way," Sheskin explains.

"Basically, the age at first marriage in the United States — both Jews and non-Jews — has gone up in a significant way. My parents' generation, people got married out of high school. My generation, I'm 72, people got married more often out of college. And today, people are waiting until they are well out of college before they get married."

He says that since people get married later, they have fewer children.

"The average number of children that Jews are having today in the United States is 1.5 children each. And it's 1.7 for all Americans. For a population to replace itself from shrinking, it's 2.1. Fertility among Orthodox Jews nationwide is quite high, 3.3 children."

According to Pew, the birthrate for Jewish women in the United States who aren't Orthodox is 1.4 children each. Sheskin says this significantly impacts synagogue membership.

"That's one of the reasons I think you have fewer people belonging to synagogues. Because people tend to join when they have kids. And if you have fewer kids, you belong for a shorter period of time. You have fewer kids in the (religious) school."

More congregants are Reform.

Data provided by the Miami Valley's Jewish congregations show the Reform movement's expanding reach here, albeit with fewer total children.

Currently, 74.1% of primary local congregational memberships are with the Reform movement. That's up from 68% in 2015. And 84% of children (newborn to 18) whose families

are primary members of local Jewish congregations are affiliated with the Reform movement, up from 78.3% in 2015.

According to Pew's 2020 report, 37% of U.S. Jews identify as Reform, 17% as Conservative, 9% as Orthodox, 4% as another branch, and 32% as no particular branch.

Hillel Academy & Chabad

Adding to the contours of the Miami Valley's Jewish community is Hillel Academy Jewish day school, with 43 students enrolled from kindergarten through grade six, twice the number of students enrolled there when the school moved from Harrison Township to

Oakwood a dozen years ago.

Chabad of Greater Dayton, which, like all Chabad centers, does not have a membership model, notes that 268 households participated either through programs or donations in 2022, and that there are 114 children in those households.

Sheskin says that 38% of U.S. Jews participated in programming with Chabad last year, according to Pew.

"What's interesting here, 10% of the (U.S.) Chabad participants are Jews of no religion. Of the 90% of Jews of religion who go to Chabad, a quarter are Orthodox, a quarter are Conservative, a quarter are Reform, and a quarter are just Jewish."

Miami Valley primary congregation memberships by household — down 14.8% since 2015

Beth Abraham: 156 (20.1%)

Beth Jacob: 44 (5.7%)

Temple Anshe Emeth, Piqua: 16 (2.1%)

Temple Beth Or: 190 (24.5%)

Temple Beth Sholom, Middletown: 22 (2.8%)

Temple Israel: 310 (40%)

Temple Sholom, Springfield: 37 (4.8%)

Total: 776 household memberships

Note: Doesn’t include out-of-town memberships. Figures may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Sources: Congregations

Ages of ID’d Jews across Miami Valley

Primary congregational affiliation of Miami Valley children newborn to age 18 — down 45.6% since 2015

Beth Abraham: 21 (12.5%)

Beth Jacob: 4 (2.4%)

Temple Anshe Emeth, Piqua: 3 (1.8%)

Temple Beth Or: 67 (39.9%)

Temple Beth Sholom, Middletown: 0

Temple Israel: 73 (43.5%)

Temple Sholom, Springfield: 0

Total: 168 newborn to age 18

Note: Figures may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

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15-19: 107 (4.1%) 20-29: 191 (7.2%) 30-39: 134 (5.1%) 40-49: 206 (7.8%) 50-59: 267 (10.1%) 60-69: 454 (17.2%) 70-79: 503 (19%) 80-89: 213 (8.1%) 90+: 89 (3.4%) Unknown: 197 (7.5%) Note: Figures may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Source: Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.
34 (1.3%) 5-9: 116 (4.4%) 10-14: 130 (4.9%)

Second and third-grade students at Hillel Academy Jewish day school received their own siddurim (prayer books) at a ceremony, Feb. 3. They demonstrated their understanding of the Hebrew prayers, leading them and sharing descriptions of them. The students also shared their thoughts about what it means to them to receive their own siddur.

Front (L to R): Eliana Lader, Amelia Rodriguez, Adi Atzmon, Vivian Larsen, Lior Hakim. Back: Judaics Teacher Sandy Sloane Brenner, Stella Atkin, Moshe Simon, Zeke Gilbert, Joel Zeisloft, Toby Pachman, Director of Judaics Rabbi Levi Simon.

The Dayton Jewish Chorale, conducted by Anna Vinnitsky, performed a musical Shabbat service at Temple Israel, Feb. 3 to celebrate Shabbat Shira. The chorale is facilitated by Temple Israel Music Director Courtney Cummings (R), and Beth Abraham Synagogue Cantor Andrea Raizen (2nd from R).

During Temple Israel's trip to Israel in January, congregant Carol Graff (R) was called to recite the blessing over the Torah at the Women of the Wall's Rosh Chodesh service (for the new month) on the women's side of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Twenty people took part on the trip.

Chabad Women's Circle hosted a Tu B'Shevat dinner Feb. 5 featuring a sabich bar and a charcuterie board woodburning craft. Shown here with the fruits of their labors (L to R): Osnat Katz, Hallie Greenfield, Juliet Glaser, Monica Rodriguez, Angela Gruenberg, and Chabad Co-Director Devorah Mangel.

Hillel Academy Temple Israel Chabad Temple Israel

Was a Butler Co. magistrate fired for being Jewish?

A federal jury said yes.

Kimberly Edelstein, who alleged six years ago that she had been fired because she was an observant Jew, has won $1.1 million in damages after a federal jury sided with her.

She had been working as a magistrate in Butler County when she asked her supervisor — a judge — for eight days off during the fall High Holidays, according to the lawsuit she filed in 2017.

“Holy cow, eight days!” Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens yelled back at her, according to the lawsuit. She was fired four days later and claims the judge and two prosecutors named in the lawsuit disparaged her to other employers, making it difficult for her to find work.

Her lawsuit spun through the court system where she once worked for the next several years. Judges dismissed Edelstein’s claims against one prosecutor and ruled against her appeal of the case against the other. But they allowed her religious discrimination claim against Judge Stephens to go forward to a jury trial, saying there was evidence that could find the judge’s dismissal “at least in part” motivated by Edelstein’s desire to observe the Jewish holidays.

The trial against Judge Stephens began Jan. 23 and included testimony from a rabbi. The jury returned its verdict late on Friday, Feb. 3, taking less than a day to deliberate.

“The jury’s finding is an important reminder that the law provides protections to those seeking accommodations for religious beliefs and practices,” Rabbi Ari Ballaban, director of the Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council, said in a statement. “Neither employers nor government institutions may retaliate against Jews (or other religious minorities) for seeking to exercise their protected religious rights.”

The jury’s finding comes amid growing attention to workplace antisemitism. A recent nonscientific survey found that a significant portion of hiring managers said they are less likely to advance candidates who are Jewish; while the survey had flaws, it ignited a conversation about whether workplace antisemitism could be rising alongside other expressions of antisemitism in the United States.

Edelstein’s case has cost Butler County, located outside Cincinnati, at least $100,000 in legal fees to date, according to local reports, and more than 200 documents have been filed. It may not be totally over.

“We strongly believe that the evi-

dence didn’t support the verdict and we’re considering options,” an attorney representing Judge Stephens told the Journal-News in Butler County.

Edelstein’s case had been met with some skepticism from the local legal community. She “had a very poor reputation around the courthouse,” Daniel Phillips, a Jewish former assistant prosecuting attorney in Butler County, wrote in a 2019 letter to Cincinnati’s Jewish newspaper, the American Israelite

“Many people advised Judge Stephens to terminate her when he took office. He rejected that advice and gave her a clean slate and an opportunity to succeed,” Phillips wrote at the time. “When she failed to act in (a) professional manner and produce quality work, he fired her. Because of her failures she is now besmirching three good men with the taint of racism. That is shameful.”

Phillips was elected to the position of county juvenile court judge last year.

Court filings show that Edelstein accused Stephens, who is also a Baptist pastor, of “extreme Christian” beliefs and of following a doctrine with an “attitude toward Jews,” and also said that his court had made fun of her description of Passover preparations.

In 2019, as her lawsuit was making its way through the courts, Edelstein told the Cincinnati Enquirer she had experienced suicidal thoughts after being unable to find work. She applied for nearly 200 jobs in the aftermath of her firing but didn’t get any of them, she said, adding that she had resorted to using food pantries to feed her family.

Court documents showed that Jewish Vocational Services, a local nonprofit, was reluctant to help her for fear of litigation.

“I’ve lost my career and I didn’t do anything to deserve this,” she told the Enquirer. She also reportedly told friends she wished she wasn’t Jewish and stopped going to synagogue. Subsequent posts on her Facebook page indicate she has continued to observe at least some Jewish practices.

Edelstein did manage to briefly land one legal job, in a courthouse near Bowling Green, but lied to her bosses about being fired from her previous job and was forced to resign months later.

Edelstein has mostly represented herself in these proceedings. She briefly retained the services of a local attorney who left the case after five weeks, telling the judge that “the client does not cooperate with counsel.”


The Battle Against Lung Cancer

The Dorothee and Louis Ryterband Lecture Series continues this month with a wonderful pair of speakers. A light breakfast of bagels, schmear, coffee, and tea, begins at 9:45AM and the speakers start their presentations at 10:15AM. Cost is $7 per person.

A Wild West Purim Celebration!

Monday, March 6 from 6:00 - 8:00PM

We are planning a great time for our Megillah Reading & Purim Carnival! The festivities begin at 6:00PM inthe sanctuary and then we will shuffle down to the Great Hall for dinner and fun for all ages.

Cost for dinner is $5/adult, $3/children ages 4-12, and FREE for kids 3 and younger.

RSVP for dinner by March 2

NEW this year, we have a special concurrent event for adults, complete with food, wine tastings, trivia, crafts, and games.

THE DAYTON JEWISH OBSERVER • MARCH 2023 PAGE 7 THE REGION Temple Israel • • 937.496.0050 130 Riverside Drive, Dayton, OH 45405 A Reform Synagogue open to all who are interested in Judaism
Soumya Neravetla
Do You Do Here in the Winter? The Lives of the Real Catskill Jews March 19 Dr.
The jury's finding comes amid growing attention to workplace antisemitism.





Herbert Samuel Hotel

Highlights Include:

Machane Yehuda Market Foodie Tour

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Visit to the Galita Chocolate Factory

Ella Valley wine tasting



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Visit to the Artists’ village of Ein Hod Partnership2Gether Gala

Dinner at Uri Buri restaurant


NOVEMBER 10 - 12

Crowne Plaza

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M&H Whiskey Distillery tasting

Explore the Agam Museum



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The leader of an Ohio homeschooling group that once included an Upper Sandusky couple reportedly using a neo-Nazi curriculum has now condemned it and said homeschooling shouldn’t be judged by one “sick parenting issue.”

The couple, who use the aliases “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon,” was reported to the Ohio Department of Education, which said it was looking into them after an initial news story by Vice

Asked for an update of that investigation, the department did not provide specifics, but said that parents or guardians who decide to educate their children at home are responsible for choosing the curriculum and course of study, and that and no direct state financial assistance is provided to families who choose this option.

Homeschooling curriculums and participation are largely at the discretion of those leading the homeschooling, something that is enshrined in Ohio administrative code regulating home education.

Deborah Gerth, head of the Ohio Homeschooling Parents group, said Katja Lawrence, alleged leader of the “dissident homeschooling” along with her husband Logan, was a “non-active” member of their group, but once the allegations came to light, she was banned.

Though the only comments Katja Lawrence made as part of social media discussions within the group were about her love for the Dutch language, the news reported by Vice compelled Gerth and other members of the group to remove the couple.

“There’s no room here for bigotry; there’s no room for hatred of any kind,” Gerth said. “We’re not giving her a platform for anything.”

Gerth also said members of the group looked into the 2,500 members of the Dissident Homeschool group on the social network Telegram and concluded that many of the members don’t live in the United States.

While the condemnation of the group is warranted, Gerth said the criticism of homeschooling overall isn’t.

“That’s a parenting issue. It’s a sick parenting issue,” Gerth said. “The vast majority of home educators are doing this because we want to do what’s best for our children.”

A message posted on the Ohio

Homeschooling Parents’ Facebook page said “fringe groups” do not represent the homeschooling community at large.

“Parents teaching their children crazy things can happen regardless of the educational placement, since evenings, weekends and summers still exist and life is not just 8-3 Monday through Fri day,” the post, dated Jan. 31, stated.

Calls for increased oversight into decision-making and curriculum aren’t new to Gerth, who has homeschooled all three of her kids, the youngest of which is now 16. She said any time an isolated incident connected to home schooling comes about, it can lead to a desire for more supervision of home education.

“You don’t make a law based on the one outlier, or based on the one wacka doodle,” Gerth said. “It’s a horrible situation, but you can’t judge the 99 by the one who makes the rest look bad.”

Curriculum freedom

Homeschoolers enjoy a kind of free dom when it comes to deciding how their children are taught, and what sub jects take the forefront in homeschool ing. There are many different types of homeschooling, from traditional unitbased study to “unschooling,” which focuses on student-led learning.

Ohio's administrative code states that parents who elect to homeschool their child need to notify the superintendent of their local district before the first week of school for traditional public schools in the area, or one week after a child is withdrawn from school.

There are commercial curricula that homeschool teachers can use and there are other less stringent courses of study that can be led by the parent or the child, based on growth goals.

Ohio homeschoolers must follow guidelines spelled out in the state’s administrative code, which says homeschool teachers must give assurance that certain subjects are covered:

Continued on Page 10

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parenting issue’ Parents decide curriculum, course of study under state law A lesson plan shared
Homeschool Network,
copying a Hitler quote, Nov. 22, 2022. Screenshot via Telegram
Ohio homeschool group head: Nazi curriculum ‘sick
by the creator of the neo-Nazi group
in which children learn cursive by

Beth Abraham, Dayton’s only Conservative synagogue, is enthusiastically egalitarian and is affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. For a complete schedule of our programs, go to

Purim According to Elvis

Monday March 6

We’re All Shook Up!

Don’t be a Hound Dog! Put on your Blue Suede Shoes & Come Along for a Never-Ending night of food and fun!

Wear your favorite costume, bring family & friends & be ready to party.

Social Action: Bring macaroni & cheese boxes for groggers & we’ll donate them to the Foodbank.

Nazi homeschooling

Continued from Page Nine

• Language, reading, spelling, and writing

• Geography, history of the United States and Ohio; and national state and local government

• Mathematics

• Science

• Health

• Physical education

• Fine arts, including music

• First aid, safety, and fire prevention

But Ohio’s administrative code on home education, last updated in 2019, provides exceptions for “any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent.”

A “brief outline of the intended curriculum” is also asked for, though “such outline is for informational purposes only,” according to state code.

The Upper Sandusky Exempted Village Schools superintendent sent a letter to parents after the Lawrences' alleged curriculum came to light, saying the district “vehemently condemns any such resources” and that the district board of education’s policy is “to maintain an education environment that is free from all forms of unlawful harassment based on protected classes.”

measures that could affect them.

Senate Bill 1 would overhaul the entire state Department of Education, including the State Board of Education’s authority, and move leadership of the department to a position within the governor’s cabinet.

Gerth said she and other home educators are against the bill, despite discussions related to the bill that have specifically mentioned homeschooling.

SB 1 sponsor, state Sen. Bill Reineke said, in introducing the bill to the Senate Education Committee in January, that it would “guarantee homeschooling families the ability to home-educate their child by exempting a child from compulsory school attendance when that child is receiving instruction in core subject areas from their parents.”

Another bill being considered in the Ohio Senate is Senate Bill 11, primarily a private school voucher expansion, that would also give homeschoolers up to $2,000 in state tax credits.

“It’s really important that we don’t take the tax credit,” Gerth said. “We don’t want state funding; we don’t want their help.”

She sees state funding as “a target on our back” and a way to bring about more scrutiny to the homeschool community.

5:15 Dinner

5:45 Carnival

6:20 Costume Parade

6:30 Shpiel with full megillah reading to follow

Dinner: Shushan-ati Chili (Cincinnati style), with spaghetti & cheese, salad & sides, & hamantashen. $10 adults, $7 children 3-12. RSVP.

Upper Sandusky Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Eric Landversicht said he learned about the allegations against the group after a reporter requested information on homeschooling. The district’s response explained that the district must receive written notification and assurances from parents, but what the children study is up to the parents.

A homeschooling teacher is qualified with a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate, but can also qualify under state regulations with “standardized test scores that demonstrate high school equivalence” or “other equivalent credential found appropriate by the superintendent.”

Ultimately, individual school districts keep tabs on the homeschoolers in their districts, through notification letters and annual documentation, along with assessments at the end of a school year, often led by a certified teacher.

It’s the local superintendents who can initiate truancy actions if parents aren’t providing the necessary documentation, but before any action takes place, districts can send reminder letters if parents have missed a deadline or remediation requests if the district isn’t sure a child has met educational standards.

“It’s a structure that gives us the freedom to do what we feel we need to for our kids, but also we know we can get help if we need it,” Gerth said.

Senate Bill 1

As debate over homeschooling continues amid the controversy of the reported neo-Nazi curriculum, homeschooling groups are keeping a sharp eye on the legislature, and potential

“If we start taking a tax credit for homeschooling, then we have the opportunity to be open for criticism of how we use that money,” Gerth said.

Instead, the homeschooling group will continue following the law, according to their leader.

The post condemning the Lawrences on the Ohio Homeschooling Parents’ Facebook page also directed members to “know the law, and follow it *strictly and minimally*” (asterisks theirs).

It also advised members not to “take the dangling carrots of ‘tax credits’ or ‘school choice money’ when that is offered.”

ODE response

When asked for an update on the ODE investigation into the Lawrences, a spokesperson for the state agency said, “parents or guardians who decide to educate their children at home are responsible for choosing the curriculum and course of study” and no “direct state financial assistance” is provided to families who choose this option.

The ODE also provided an “overview of statutory and regulatory requirements connected to home education," directly taken from Ohio law.

The response did not specifically name the Lawrences or the investigation.

The department had previously said it “does not review or approve home school curriculum.”

Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephanie K. Siddens said in a statement she “emphatically and categorically denounce the racist, antisemitic and fascist ideology and materials being circulated as reported in recent media stories.”

305 Sugar Camp Circle Dayton, Ohio 45409 937•293•9520 Men’s Club Annual Movie & Raffle Kosher Deli Dinner
March 26, 6 p.m. $20.
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by March

Rabbi arrested, banned from Cleveland universities over anti-Palestinian activism

For days, students and police at Cleveland State University had been trying to figure out who stole a banner belonging to a campus Palestinian rights group.

The banner, which belonged to the student group Palestinian Human Rights Organization, read “CSU Solidarity for Palestinian Rights” and was illustrated with an outline of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip collectively emblazoned in the Palestinian flag. A dove holding an olive branch appeared on top of the image.

Then, on Jan. 19, police charged their top suspect: a local Orthodox rabbi, whose presence on campus had become all too familiar. A few days later the man confessed to the theft on Instagram, announcing that he had stolen the banner from the school’s student center “as an act of civil disobedience.”

“This incitement to annihilation of Israel should have never been permitted at CSU,” Rabbi Alexander Popivker, a 46-year-old Cleveland Heights resident whose neighborhood is six miles from the school, wrote on social media accompanied by a picture of the flag he stole.

It was far from Popivker’s only recent run-in with local university students. A handyman and part-time rabbi for a Russian-speaking Jewish community, Popivker has become known around town as a vigilant and omnipresent pro-Israel advocate. He can often be spotted counter-protesting at local pro-Palestinian demonstrations, or putting on displays of his own, with his wife, Sarah, on hand filming every contentious encounter. Before moving to Cleveland, the Popivkers operated what they called a Chabad outpost in Naples, Italy, though he was never an official emissary of the Orthodox movement, according to a ChabadLubavitch spokesman.

One major theme of his protests, and his worldview, as he explained to JTA: “Palestinians and Nazis are the same thing.”

For the last year, Popivker had been making weekly trips to Cleveland State, occasionally accompanied by other students or community members, to give public demonstrations that elaborate on that idea — sometimes with the aid of swastika-emblazoned props. In the early going, the university provided him with police protection and said his visits to campus were protected by free speech laws.

But he also sought out students online and in-person whom he deemed to be “brainwashed” by antiZionist messaging. One such online campaign against a law student prompted the student to file an order of protection against Popivker last fall, an order supported by a prominent Jewish dean at the university. Popivker promptly violated the order by returning to campus.

In late January, university authorities arrested Popivker and, following a hearing, declared him persona non grata on campus, banning him from the university grounds for at least two years. Popivker has also been banned from nearby Case Western Reserve University, where he had advocated before focusing on Cleveland State.

accused of harassing anyone he perceived as a threat to Israel, including students who had never sought him out directly.

The Ohio chapter of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations has spoken out numerous times against Popivker and praised university police for arresting him; a petition the group backed, labeled Stop harassment on campus and mentioning Popivker by name, has garnered close to 700 signatures.

Jewish groups, including civil rights groups, have been less forthcoming about the situation. Hillel International declined to comment for this story, and the directors of Cleveland’s regional American Jewish Committee and Jewish Community Relations Council offices did not return requests for comment. Jewish on Campus, a nationwide university antisemitism watchdog group that tracks what it defines as anti-Zionist social media harassment of Jewish students, also did not return a request for comment.

Jared Isaacson, executive director of Cleveland Hillel, said the center was “not very familiar with this story.” Cleveland Hillel coordinates Jewish student life at a consortium of Jewish universities including Cleveland State and Case Western, where its student center is located, as well as at least one other school where Popivker has made his presence on campus known.

But, Isaacson said, “Cleveland Hillel is deeply committed to countering antisemitism and hate in all forms, and we believe that no student — Jewish or otherwise — should ever feel threatened or intimidated because of their identity.”

Popivker says he has support from the New Yorkbased Lawfare Project, which bills itself as an “international pro-Israel litigation fund.” He said it's “watching over my cases and providing guidance.”

In a statement, the Lawfare Project called Popivker “a Jewish civil rights activist” but did not confirm that it is backing him, saying only that the group is “currently reviewing the matter.”

The group, which frequently files lawsuits on behalf of students who allege antisemitism on their campuses, said in a statement that the order of protection was a “double standard” that “should be alarming to anyone who cares about the fight against Jew-hatred.”

In the midst of a nationwide university climate in which pro-Israel advocates claim Jewish students face regular antisemitic harassment for their real or perceived Zionist beliefs, here was a documented case of the opposite: a Jew and outspoken Zionist, who has no affiliation with the schools at which he advocates, Continued on Page 12

Lawfare recently settled a multi-year lawsuit with San Francisco State University over student reports of antisemitic harassment on campus stemming from anti-Zionist activists disrupting an event featuring the

— Susie Katz with her husband, Eddie

Formost of her adult life, Susie Katz has been a passionate fundraiser for Jewish organizations in our community. Yet, none of them has seemed as compelling as the current Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Dayton campaign. “We owe this effort to those who are buried in our cemeteries,” said Susie.

After learning about all of the research and data that went into creating this independent organization, she soon became one of the campaign’s earliest donors. “I know we were approaching this campaign correctly,” Susie remarked. “There will be a day when our congregations will not be able to support their cemeteries by themselves. We need to be prepared and feel the urgency, even if it’s not today.”

Reflecting on her family and friends who are buried in all of Dayton’s Jewish cemeteries, Susie commented that “protecting these beautiful surroundings is important to me. We can’t miss our opportunity to care for them.”

Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Dayton is an endowment organization created to maintain our three Jewish cemeteries in perpetuity. Please join us as we strive to maintain the sanctity, care, and integrity of these sacred burial grounds.

Preserving our Past Ensuring Our Future

‘The cemeteries are the history of my community.’
525 Versailles Drive • Centerville, OH 45459
Rabbi Alexander Popivker with his wife, Sarah, mounting a pro-Israel display on the campus of Cleveland State University.

There’s a place for your child at Hillel Academy.

Rabbi banned

Continued from Page 11

mayor of Jerusalem. The settlement compelled the university to hire a coordinator of Jewish student life.

Popivker will have his work cut out for him if he fights the charges. He had exhibited “behavior detrimental to the university community” by stealing the Palestinian banner and separately affixing an Israeli flag to university property, Matthew Kibbon, Cleveland State’s associate vice president of facility services, wrote in the university’s decision declaring him persona non grata.

The rabbi “was not banned for the content of his speech, but how he chose to exercise it,” a Cleveland State spokesperson told JTA in a statement. The university also provided JTA a list of recent campus police interactions with him, including the initial Jan. 11 report of the banner’s theft; Popivker’s visit to campus on Jan. 18, during which police advised him that the student’s order of protection did not permit him to be there; and his return visit on Jan. 25, during which he was arrested.

From Popivker’s perspective, he is simply speaking out on Israel’s behalf for a campus that has a large pro-Palestinian activist presence but few Jewish students. His goal is to educate, he says, informed by his status as a Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union. And he believes he is being targeted by local pro-Palestinian activists, who, he said, have gone after his kipah and Israeli flags.

“I never attacked anyone. I never raised my hand up to anyone,” he said, saying that he was motivated by civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis. “I’m going to a public university. I’m staying in the free speech zone. And I raise awareness about what’s going on. There’s a bunch of students that have become my friends that come to study with me regularly.”

One of those students, senior Tyler Jarosz, said he became friends with Popivker after seeing him visit campus to advocate for Israel. Not knowing much about Jews or Israel himself — “I thought Israel was a very peaceful state,” Jarosz said — the student was taken with Popivker’s demonstrations and said he learned a great deal from them.

“He didn’t just lecture me like a teacher would,” Jarosz said. “He was actually very engaging. He asked questions.”

Jarosz said he never witnessed the rabbi harassing anyone on campus. He recalled one Popivker visit to campus for Israel’s independence day, when the rabbi was offering falafel to students, and said he saw a student throw the falafel back at him and threaten to “rape” him.

Other students tell a different story. One campus paper, the Cauldron, reported that the rabbi has targeted visibly Muslim and Arab students on campus, demanding to know their views on Israel. Popivker “makes me wary of coming

into campus,” a student member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organization group told the Cauldron. “I’m forced to be on constant edge and take the longer way to class in order to avoid him.” Another student told a different campus newspaper, “It’s almost as though he deliberately looks for Palestinian individuals just to target them.”

The chair of the law school’s National Lawyers Guild student chapter told the Cleveland Jewish News that their group’s efforts to engage Popivker in reasonable dialogue failed when he began using “racial slurs and insulting language.”

In images from one Popivker demonstration, the rabbi can be seen drawing a swastika with a Sharpie marker on what the Cauldron reported was a keffiyeh, a scarf worn by Arabic men, but which Popivker told JTA was a Palestinian scarf with no spiritual significance. He has also yelled phrases including “Palestinians are Nazis” and “Palestinians are the KKK,” and constructed a stage with images further linking Palestinians to Naziism, according to reports. Popivker’s own Instagram videos show him approaching groups of students to argue about Israel as he films them, calling some of them “terrorists” when they go after his flags.

Cleveland State increased its safety protocols as a result of Popivker’s activities, locking some additional entrances around campus. But much of his activities have been online, too.

Last fall Popivker trained his attention on a law student who was involved with campus Palestinian rights groups and had made some anti-Israel posts online, including sharing an image of a child whom pro-Palestinian groups claimed had been a victim of an Israeli bombing, and sharing a socialist group’s post quoting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Documents show that Popivker emailed and called the student’s employer and law school seeking to have her disciplined for her beliefs, writing among other things that she was a “mouthpiece of terrorism and racism against Jews.” He also made Instagram posts targeting her. In response, the student filed for and received the order of protection against him, which Popivker later claimed was unwarranted because he had never met the student in person.

At the order of protection hearing, a transcript of which Popivker sent to JTA, a key witness who advocated for the restriction was law school dean Lee Fisher, a former attorney general and lieutenant governor of Ohio. Fisher is Jewish.

“We share a hatred of antisemitism,” Fisher told Popivker during the hearing, according to the transcript. The dean also identified himself as “pro-Israel, very much so.” But Fisher made clear he was critical of Popivker’s activities on campus. Asked by Popivker about a specific social media post the student had made, Fisher responded, “Even if she made a mistake by posting it, it did not warrant the kind of reaction I believe that you had.”

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Connect with us! Check out our events. For more information, see our calendar at

Sunday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. — JFGD Men’s Philanthropy Happy Hour

Sunday March 5, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. — CABS Event - Dan Grunfeld

Thursday, March 16, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. —

Women’s Seder

Sunday, March 19, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. — JYG Afternoon at Scene 75 (for 6th-8th grade)




Sunday, April 23 @ 4:00 p.m.

Temple Beth Or


5275 Marshall Road, Washington Township, 45429

3:00 p.m. Teen Program

Survivor Renate Frydman leads an interactive discussion with local teens

3:00 p.m. Max May Lydia May Memorial Holocaust Art

& &

EXPERIENCE ISRAEL like never before

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Israel’s Independence

Admission is FREE! Experience Israeli food, innovations, culture, music, activities, and fun for ALL AGES!

Yom Ha’atzmaut

Writing Contest

Works on display

4:00 p.m. Community Yom Hashoah Program

Featuring some of our own Dayton survivors

4:00 p.m. PJ Library and PJ Our Way Program

Spreading Kindness

For more information, call Samantha Daniel at 937-610-1555 or email Jane Hochstein at

Sunday, April 30, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Boonshoft CJCE

525 Versailles Drive, Centerville, 45459

In partnership with: Beth Abraham Synagogue, Beth Jacob Congregation, Dayton Sister Cities, Hadassah, Hillel Academy, Jewish War Veterans, Temple Beth Or, and Temple Israel

This program is proudly supported by the Israel Engagement Fund: A JCC Association of North America Program Accelerator
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT 26 27 28 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 1

A Women’s Freedom Seder



The Carillon Brewing Company

1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, 45409

$5 per person. RSVP at

Interviewed by longtime Dayton Daily News sportswriter Marc Katz.

When Lily and Alex entered a packed gymnasium in Queens, New York in 1972, they barely recognized their son. The boy who escaped to America with them, who was bullied as he struggled to learn English and cope with family tragedy, was now a young man who had discovered and secretly honed his basketball talent on the outdoor courts of New York City. That young man was Ernie Grunfeld, who would go on to win an Olympic gold medal and reach previously unimaginable heights as an NBA player and executive. In By the Grace of the Game, Dan Grunfeld, once a basketball standout himself at Stanford University, shares the remarkable story of his family, a delicately interwoven narrative that doesn’t lack in heartbreak yet remains as deeply nourishing as his grandmother’s Hungarian cooking, so lovingly described.



Orders Due - Friday, March 10

Pickup - Wednesday, May 10 Flowers will be from Furst the Florist. Contact for an order form.


Do you have a favorite photo of nature that brings you joy? Share that joy with others! Submit your photos to Jewish Family Services now through March 10, and we will use them to create Passover cards as part of our holiday outreach. Email hi-res photos to Jacquelyn Archie at


Completed applications are due Friday, March 31.

Are you a member of the Dayton Jewish community who plans on attending a two-year or four-year college, technical program, or graduate school in the academic year 2023-2024? If so, you may be eligible to apply for a college scholarship and/or interest-free student loan through the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton

For more information on the Heuman Scholarship, contact Alisa Thomas at 937-610-1796 or If you have questions specific to interest-free student loans, please contact Tara Feiner at 937-401-1546 or


Contact Tara Feiner at or 937-401-1546 to request an application packet. Completed applications should be emailed to Tara Feiner by noon on Friday, March 31. The application packet includes:

• Innovation Grant application (Adobe PDF) signed by the senior o cer of the organization(s).

• Innovation Grant Budget application (Microsoft Excel)

• First-time applicants must supply a copy of the organization’s IRS tax exempt ruling (501(c)(3)) for all groups involved if there is a collaboration. Prior Innovation Grant awardees do not need to resubmit their tax-exempt status.

For more information, visit



Legacies, Tributes, & Memorials


› Jim Levinson

› Dr. Armando Susmano

The Weiss Family


› James Levinson

Jean and Todd Bettman

Elaine Bettman



› Amy Fingerhut’s mother

› Jim Levinson

› Paul Berger

Bernard Rabinowitz



› James Levinson

Marshall and Judy Ruchman



Sunday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. The Carillon Brewing Company 1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, 45409 No Cost: Appetizers, drinks, and CABS admission included.

Please join us for a Men’s Philanthropy happy hour before the CABS event featuring Dan Grunfeld: By the Grace of the Game: The Holocaust, a Basketball Legacy and an Unprecedented American Dream.

RSVP to Samantha Daniel at 937-610-1555 or

June 5 - July 28

Camp Shalom is planning a summer full of excitement! We are o ering a variety of specialty camps including tennis, golf, magic, art and theatre. We have field trips planned to fun destinations throughout the Miami Valley. And we’ll celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday! See for more information. Register at:

Do you know someone 16 or older who is looking for a meaningful, challenging and FUN summer work experience? Camp Shalom is hiring summer sta ! Interested candidates should contact Meryl Hattenbach at or 937-401-1550 for instructions on how to apply.

OF ›
Ernest Kahn Robert Kahn

There are differences

While the Jewish community of greater Dayton prepares for its annual commemoration of the 6 million innocent Jews murdered by Germans and their allies, I am reminded that in 2021, Germany celebrated 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. There, in front of the bima (stage) on the beautiful Cologne Synagogue, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced the official opening of festivities. Funds were set aside to defray the cost of anniversary programs for each of the 16 German states. Some thousand programs and projects took place during that national anniversary year.

When I was a young boy asking my dad to explain something to me, he would basically say, “as you become older you will better understand.” And now, as I approach my 100th year, perhaps I am too old to understand. Especially when our plans for Yom Hashoah are in memory of Jewish life and 6 million Jews in Germany and greater Europe who were murdered. On the other hand, Germany staged a yearlong anniversary to celebrate 1,700 years of Jewish life there, based on a surviving edict by Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 321 allowing Jews to be appointed to Cologne’s city government.

In addition to the anniversary celebration, the German postal service issued a stamp and collector’s envelope with the significant and meaningful Hebrew word chai, life, also rendered in German. We say the Hebrew l'chaim, to life, as a wish and blessing for good health and wellbeing, especially when offering a toast.

None of this provides a rational explanation for the anniversary celebrations declared by the German government supposedly to draw attention to and make visible German Jewish history, culture, science, and religion — to promote a new and stronger normalcy between Jews and the German people. The festivities were supposed to be a strong signal against the rise of renewed antisemitism. It was an attempt, so stated, to provide a way from the Shoah to the flourishing again of Jewish communities which have arisen and are estimated at approximately 150,000 persons. This has created questions and some confusion of what underlies the real motives of the German government, if not to diminish the genocide of Jews through the murder largely by the German people.

As for me, I look forward to the solemnity of our own Yom Hashoah program, where in the synagogue, we honor, grieve, and say Kaddish (the mourner’s prayer) in unison for those 6 million innocent lives who were tortured and killed by German criminals by the most horrible means.

So, what do you think?

How Jewish comedy found religion, from Philip Roth to Broad City

An interview with UC Judaic Studies Chair Jenny Caplan on her new book a Holocaust survivor, sets up in town.

In the 2020 comedy Shiva Baby, a 20-something young woman shows up at a house of Jewish mourners and gently offers her condolences. When she finds her mother in the kitchen, they chat about the funeral and the rugelach before the daughter asks, “Mom, who died?”

While Shiva Baby explores themes of sexuality and gender, the comedy almost never comes at the expense of Jewish tradition, which is treated seriously by its millennial writer and director Emma Seligman (born 1995) even as the shiva-goers collide. It’s far cry from the acerbic way an author raised during the Depression like Philip Roth lampooned a Jewish wedding or a baby boomer like Jerry Seinfeld mocked a bris.

These generational differences are explored in Jenny Caplan’s new book, Funny, You Don’t Look Funny: Judaism and Humor from the Silent Generation to Millennials. A religion scholar, Caplan writes about the way North American Jewish comedy has evolved since World War II, with a focus on how humorists treat Judaism as a religion. Her subjects range from writers and filmmakers who came of age shortly after the war (who viewed Judaism as “a joke at best and an actual danger at worst”) to Generation X and millennials, whose Jewish comedy often recognizes “the power of community, the value of family tradition, and the way that religion can serve as a port in an emotional storm.”

“I see great value in zeroing in on the ways in which Jewish humorists have engaged Jewish practices and their own Jewishness,” Caplan writes. “It tells us something (or perhaps it tells us many somethings) about the relationship between Jews and humor that goes deeper than the mere coincidence that a certain humorist was born into a certain family.”

Caplan is the chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She has a master’s of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School and earned a Ph.D. in religion from Syracuse University.

Let me ask how you got into this topic.

I grew up in a family where I was just sort of surrounded by this kind of material. My dad is a comedic actor and director who went to (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s) Clown College. When I got to Syracuse and it came time to start thinking about my larger project and what I wanted to do, I proposed a dissertation on Jewish humor.

The key to your book is how Jewish humor reflects the Jewish identity and compulsions of four sequential generations. Let’s start with the Silent Generation, sandwiched between the generation whose men were old enough to fight in World War II and the baby boomers born just after the war.

The hallmark of the Silent Generation is that they were old enough to be aware of the war, but they were mostly too young to serve. Every time I told people what I was writing about, they would say Woody Allen or Philip Roth, two people of roughly the same generation.

The Roth story you focus on is Eli, the Fanatic from 1959, about an assimilated Jewish suburb that is embarrassed and sort of freaks out when an Orthodox yeshiva, led by

Roth spent the first 20 to 30 years of his career dodging the claim of being a self-loathing Jew and bad for the Jews. But the actual social critique of Eli, the Fanatic is so sharp. It is about how American Jewish comfort comes at the expense of displaced persons from World War II and at the expense of those for whom Judaism is a real thriving, living religious practice.

That’s an example you offer when you write that the Silent Generation “may have found organized religion to be a dangerous force, but they nevertheless wanted to protect and preserve the Jewish people.” I think that would surprise people in regard to Roth, and maybe to some degree Woody Allen.

Yeah, it surprised me. They really did, I think, share that postwar Jewish sense of insecurity about ongoing Jewish continuity, and that there’s still an existential threat to the ongoing existence of Jews.

I hear that and I think of Woody Allen’s characters, atheists who are often on the lookout for antisemitism. But you don’t focus on Allen as the intellectual nebbish of the movies. You look at his satire of Jewish texts, like his very funny Hassidic Tales, With a Guide to Their Interpretation by the Noted Scholar from 1970, which appeared in The New Yorker. It’s a parody of Martin Buber’s Tales of the Hasidim and sentimental depictions of the shtetl, perhaps like Fiddler on the Roof. A reader might think he’s just mocking the tradition, but you think there’s something else going on. He’s not mocking the tradition as much as he’s mocking a sort of consumerist approach to the tradition. There was this sort of very superficial attachment to Buber’s Tales of the Hasidim. Allen’s satire is not a critique of the traditions of Judaism, it’s a critique of the way that people latch onto things like the Kabalah and these new English translations of Chasidic stories without any real depth of thought or intellect. Intellectual hypocrisy seems to be a common theme in his movies and in his writing. It’s really a critique of organized religion, and it’s a critique of institutions, and it’s a critique of the power of institutions. But it’s not a critique of the concept of religion.

You write that the baby boomers are sort of a transition between the Silent Generation and a later generation: They were the teenagers of the counterculture, and warned about the dangers of empty religion, but also came to consider religion and tradition as valuable. But before you get there, you have a 1977 Saturday Night Live skit in which a bris is performed in the back seat of a luxury car, and the rabbi who performs it is portrayed as what you call an absolute sellout.

Exactly. You know: Institutional religion is empty and it’s hollow, it’s dangerous and it’s seductive.

Jerry Seinfeld, born in 1954, is seen as an icon of Jewish humor, but to me is an example of someone who never depicts religion as a positive thing.

Seinfeld is more a show about New York than it is necessarily a show about anything Jewish. The New York of Seinfeld is very similar to the New York of Woody Allen, Continued on Page 26

THE DAYTON JEWISH OBSERVER • MARCH 2023 PAGE 17 OPINION Send letters (350 words max.) to The Dayton Jewish Observer, 525 Versailles Dr., Dayton, OH 45459 • Views expressed by columnists, in readers’ letters, and in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinion of staff or layleaders of The Dayton Jewish Observer or the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.
Robert B. Kahn lives in Kettering. Germany's postage stamp to commemorate 1,700 years of Jewish life there. Jenny Caplan

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with The Dayton Jewish Observer’s Marshall Weiss

The YWCA Dayton will honor Susan Gruenberg with its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award at its 25th annual Women of Influence Awards luncheon on March 9 at the Dayton Convention Center. Sue has volunteered with more than 35 nonprofits in the Dayton area including the Junior League, Daybreak, Ronald McDonald House, Friends of the Dayton Arcade, American Red Cross, the Dayton Art Institute, Jewish Family Services, and the Dayton Ballet.

These days, she focuses her volunteering on Soroptimist International of Dayton, to help find missing and exploited children.

The YWCA first honored Sue as a Woman of Influence in 2003. The awards celebrate women who have made a difference in our community through their dedication to the YWCA mission of empowering women, eliminating racism, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Sue was chosen for the lifetime achievement honor from the past Women of Influence honorees by YWCA leadership


and the Women of Influence Committee, based on her continued contributions to the community.

Native Daytonian Miriam Weiskind, owner and pizzaiola at The 'Za Report in Brooklyn, will compete on the Food Channel's Chopped competition at 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 28. The episode, Wanna Pizza Me? features Miriam and three other "brilliant pizza pros" racing the clock in a showdown for $10,000. Miriam, the daughter of longtime Daytonians Dr. Ray and the late Hyla Weiskind, began baking pizzas as a full-time career during Covid, giving them to people in her building who needed a meal. Miriam writes "For Mom" and draws a heart inside each pizza box lid as a tribute to her late mother.

Centerville City Schools has recognized Melissa Hoffheimer, a French teacher at Watts Middle School, as its 2023 Teacher of the Year. She'll represent Centerville as a finalist for the Ohio Teacher of the Year competition

this spring.

Steve Markman has published his fifth book, The Long and The Short, a compilation of articles he's written for the Dayton MG Car Club newsletter. He digs into the evolution of engines, fuels, paint, lubricants, glass, and other things that make the car what it is today. "I also go off topic on some of these articles and talk about human factors," he says, "how Queen Elizabeth II learned to maintain trucks, and even how I restored my player piano." It's available on Amazon.

Jewish National Fund's regional office in Cincinnati recently hired Jennifer Bain as its campaign director.

Submissions to the 2023 Max May & Lydia May Memorial Holocaust Art & Writing Contest are due by March 31. Each year, students in grades five through 12 attending public, parochial, or homeschool in the Miami Valley are invited to submit their entries. This year's theme is: What valuable lessons have you learned from the Holocaust? Winners will be honored at the Dayton Area Yom Hashoah Observance, April 23 at Temple Beth Or. For contest entry forms, go to resourcesexhibits/contests.

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Beth Abraham Classes: Mondays, noon: Lifelong Learning w. Rabbi Glazer. Saturdays, following noon kiddush lunch: Psalms w. Rabbi Glazer. 305 Sugar Camp Cir., Oakwood. 937-293-9520.

Beth Jacob Classes: Sundays, 2 p.m.: Conversion Class w. Rabbi Agar. Tuesdays, 7 p.m.: Weekly Parsha w. Rabbi Agar. Thursdays, 7 p.m.: Thursdays of Thought-Jewish Law w. Rabbi Agar. 7020 N. Main St., Harrison Twp. bethjacobcong. org. 937-274-2149.

Chabad Classes: Wednesdays, 7 p.m.: Talmud Class in person. Thursdays, noon: Zoom Lunch & Learn. Fridays, 9:30 a.m.: Women’s Class in person. 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. Register at 937-643-0770.

Temple Beth Or Adult Classes: Sundays, 12:30 p.m.: Adult Hebrew. Sat., Mar. 4, 10 a.m.: Apocryphal Study in person & virtual class. Thurs., Mar. 9, 7 p.m.: Chai Mitzvah on Zoom. Sat., Mar. 18, 10 a.m.: Apocryphal Study on Zoom. 5275 Marshall Rd., Wash. Twp. 937-435-3400.

Temple Israel Classes: Tuesdays, noon: Talmud Study in person & virtual. Wednesdays,

10 a.m.: Social Justice Commentary w. Rabbi BodneyHalasz at home of Cathy Lieberman. Saturdays, 9:15 a.m.: Virtual Torah Study. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton. tidayton. org. 937-496-0050.


Temple Israel Prayer & Play: Fri., Mar. 17, 5:30 p.m.: Infants2nd grade. Contact Rabbi Sobo, 937-496-0050. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton.

Children & Teens Temple Israel Youth Social Event: Sun., Mar. 12, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.: PreK-2nd grades. 1-2:30 p.m.: 3-5th grades. Free. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton. 937496-0050.

Jewish Youth Group Afternoon at Scene75: Sun., Mar. 19, 2 p.m.: $18 includes game card. Grades 6-8. RSVP to or 937-610-1555. 6196 Poe Ave., Dayton.

Women Chabad Women’s Circle: Sun., Mar. 12, 5:30 p.m. $36. Guest speaker Rivkie Brikman, When the Steering Wheel Gets Tight. 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. 937-6430770.

Women’s Seder: Thurs., Mar. 16, 6 p.m. $40. RSVP to or 937-610-1555. At

S. Euclid police investigating gun incident outside kosher restaurant

Law enforcement is investigating a Feb. 12 incident in which a suspect pulled a gun on four Jewish children outside Arova, a kosher restaurant at the Cedar Center shopping plaza in South Euclid.

The four children, three who are 14 years old and one who is 13 years old, were outside the restaurant when a red sedan drove past them and a Black male in the passenger seat pointed a black handgun at them. He yelled at them, but they could not hear what was said, according to the South Euclid Police.

The incident was reported around 11:34 p.m. Feb. 12 by a Beachwood resident who witnessed it. South Euclid Police are investigating the incident, but said more information needs to be obtained to determine if it is a hate crime.

Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s security arm, JFC Security, was notified of the incident and has been in contact with South Euclid police, Cleveland FBI’s hate crime unit, and the AntiDefamation League, Jim Hartnett, director of community-wide security for the Federation, said.


Beth Abraham Synagogue, 305 Sugar Camp Circle, Oakwood.

Men Chabad Bagels, Lox & Tefillin: Sun., Mar. 5, 9:30 a.m. 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. 937643-0770.

Men’s Philanthropy Happy Hour w. Dan Grunfeld: Sun., Mar. 5, 6 p.m. Free. Appetizers, drinks, admission to 7 p.m. CABS program w. Grunfeld included. Carillon Brewing Co., 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton. RSVP to 937610-1555.


Chabad Kids Club Red Carpet Purim: Sun., Mar. 5, 4 p.m. Free. Ages 5-11. RSVP to 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. 937643-0770.

Beth Abraham’s Purim According to Elvis: Mon., Mar. 6, 5:15 p.m.: Dinner $10 adults, $7 children 3-12. RSVP for dinner. 305 Sugar Camp Cir., Oakwood. 937-293-9520.

Harry “Chaim” Potter Comes to Beth Jacob for Purim: Mon., Mar. 6, 6 p.m. Free. RSVP to Tammy Evans, 937-274-2149. 7020 N. Main St., Harrison Twp.

Temple Israel’s Wild West Purim: Mon., Mar. 6, 6 p.m.

Dinner costs: Adults $5, Children 4-12 $3, Children 3 and under free. Game tokens 3/$1 or 20/$5. Includes free wine & cheese party for adults during kids' carnival. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton. RSVP for dinner. 937496-0050.

Chabad Purim in Jerusalem: Tues., Mar. 7, 5:30 p.m. $15 adults, $5 children. 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. RSVP for dinner to 937-643-0770.


JCC Cultural Arts & Book Series presents Dan Grunfeld: Sun., Mar. 5, 7 p.m. $5. Interviewed by Marc Katz. Carillon Brewing Co., 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton. Register at

Temple Israel Ryterband Brunch & Speaker Series: Sundays, 9:45 a.m. $7. Mar. 12: Retired historian & attorney David Gold, What Do You Do Here in the Winter? The Lives of the Real Catskill Jews. Mar. 19: Dr. Soumya Neravetla, The Battle Against Lung Cancer. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton. tidayton. org. 937-496-0050.

Temple Beth Or Corned Beef

Lunch: Tues., Mar. 14, 11 a.m.1:30 p.m. $18 meal, $20 lb., $5 cheesecake. Call for delivery options. Order at templebethor.

Humor & Hope in the Bible & Jewish Christian Dialogue

43rd Annual Ryterband Symposium in Judaic Studies

Thursday, March 30

United Theological Seminary 4501 Denlinger Rd. Trotwood, OH 45426

com/event/corned-beef-lunch. 5275 Marshall Rd., Wash. Twp. 937-435-3400.

Beth Abraham Men’s Club Rick Pinsky Brunch Speaker Series: Sun., Mar. 19, 10 a.m., UD English Prof. Miriamne Krummel, Three 13th-Century Jewish Dates & Chaucer’s Prioress’ Tale. $7. 305 Sugar Camp Cir., Oakwood. 937-293-9520.

Chabad Presents Judaism: The Soundtrack: Sun., Mar. 26, 4 p.m. Song, storytelling, inspiration. RSVP to 2001 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood. 937-643-0770.

Beth Abraham Men's Club Kosher Deli Dinner, Movie & Raffle: Sun., Mar. 26, 6 p.m. $20. 305 Sugar Camp Cir., Oakwood. RSVP by March 20 to 937-293-9520.

43rd Annual Ryterband Symposium in Judaic Studies: Thurs., Mar. 30. 4 p.m.: Exploring Humor & Hope in the Bible by Prof. Joel S. Kaminsky. 7:30 p.m.: Jewish/Christian Dialogue is no Joke...Or is it? by Prof. Kaminsky. What I've Learned from Jewish-Christian Dialogue by Joel N. Lohr, president, Hartford Int'l. Univ. At United Theological Seminary, 4501 Denlinger Rd., Trotwood. Free. Sponsored by UD, UTS, WSU.

Morningstar Family Prof. of Jewish Studies, Smith College, Mass.

Joel N. Lohr President, Hartford International University, Conn.

4 pm: God Has Brought Me Laughter: Exploring Humor & Hope in the Bible by Prof. Kaminsky

7:30 pm: Jewish/Christian Dialogue is no Joke ...Or is it? by Prof. Kaminsky

Is Christian Humor Even a Thing?

What I’ve Learned from Jewish-Christian Dialogue by Prof. Lohr

Co-sponsored by The University of Dayton, United Theological Seminary, & Wright State University Both presentations are free & open to the public

For additional information, Prof. Anthony Le Donne at

Joel S. Kaminsky Arova, a kosher restaurant in South Euclid


Beth Abraham Synagogue


Rabbi Aubrey L. Glazer

Cantor/Dir. of Ed. & Programming

Andrea Raizen

Fridays, 5 p.m.

Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.

305 Sugar Camp Circle, Oakwood. 937-293-9520.

Beth Jacob Congregation


Rabbi Leibel Agar

Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. Evening minyans upon request.

7020 N. Main St., Dayton. 937-274-2149.

Temple Anshe Emeth


Rabbinic Intern Anna Burke 320 Caldwell St., Piqua.

Fri., March 3, 7:30 p.m.

Contact Steve Shuchat, 937-7262116,

Temple Beth Or


Rabbi Judy Chessin

Asst. Rabbi/Educator Ben Azriel

Fridays, 6:30 p.m. 5275 Marshall Rd., Wash. Twp. 937-435-3400.

Temple Beth Sholom


Rabbi Haviva Horvitz

610 Gladys Dr., Middletown. 513-422-8313.

Temple Israel


Senior Rabbi Karen BodneyHalasz Rabbi/Educator Tina Sobo

Fri., March 3, 6 p.m.

Fridays, March 10, 17, 24, 31, 6:30 p.m. Sat., March 11, 10:30 a.m. 130 Riverside Dr., Dayton. 937-496-0050.

Temple Sholom Reform

Rabbi Cary Kozberg 2424 N. Limestone St., Springfield. 937-399-1231.


Chabad of Greater Dayton

Rabbi Nochum Mangel

Associate Rabbi Shmuel Klatzkin Youth & Prog. Dir. Rabbi Levi Simon. Beginner educational service Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. 2001 Far Hills Ave. 937-643-0770.

Yellow Springs Havurah


Antioch College Rockford Chapel. Contact Len Kramer, 937-5724840 or


Embracing our particularity & uniqueness

An old Jewish joke describes all Jewish holidays in a few words: “They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat.”

Just as our enemies were not the same, the way they tried to kill us was different as well. Our enemies varied, and their means of getting rid of us differed too.

On Jan. 27, the editorial board of the Louisville CourierJournal published an opinion headlined, Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember more than one atrocity

You can commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day, they said, but “only as


a day commemorating every genocide that is carried out upon any group based on skin color, religion, gender identity, and ethnic background…Jews do not have a monopoly on persecution and atrocities.”

“Hitler was just one of many dictators,” they wrote. They argued that “if we as a community only focus on one religion, only on one event, we are denigrating and trivializing the horrors of the past and the injustices of today.”

Commonly, antisemitism is understood as hatred, prejudice, and hostility directed at Jews as a distinct people, nation, or race.

Then there is religious antisemitism or anti-Judaism, when the animosity and resentment are directed at Jews for their Jewish beliefs and practices. These haters can live with Jews as a people, but demand that we dive into the melting pot, shed our Jewish identity, and assimilate into the majority culture. They accept Jews whose Jewishness is not obvi-

ous, but not Jews who insist on being particularly Jewish.

Throughout our long and storied history, we have examples of both kinds of hatred.

Pharaoh feared that we would overthrow him, so he enslaved us and drowned our children in the Nile, hoping to demoralize and weaken us through hard labor. Pharaoh saw us as a threat to his throne.

Amalek simply hated us. Although we were not threatening him on our journey from Egypt to Sinai, Amalek couldn't tolerate seeing free Jews as an independent nation, so he attacked from behind, targeting the weak and the most vulnerable. His animosity was plain unvarnished Jew hatred.

In the story of Purim, Haman resented the Jews because we wouldn’t accept him and bow to him as a god. So, infuriated, he devised a genocidal plan to annihilate all the Jewish people — women, men, and children — a plot foiled by Queen Esther. Haman loathed Jews. We were different and, therefore, not valuable. To him, we were intolerable.

The Syrian Greeks in the story of Chanukah did not understand Jewish worship of an undefinable and intangible God, nor did they appreciate our observance of Jewish laws and values based on the authority of that God. Theirs was a rationalist worldview: they worshiped nature through their many gods, and the human body was the measure of all things. Attacking the Jewish religion, the Greeks forbade Jews to practice any religious ritual they considered to be irrational.


Be cultural Jews, they said, but not religious ones. The Greeks were more anti-Judaism than anti-Jew.

The Romans hated the Jewish desire for religious independence. They viewed our unwillingness to make offerings to Roman gods or take part in Roman religious festivals as disloyalty. Because the Holy Temple and Jerusalem represented this independence, they ransacked and destroyed both, exiling or enslaving whoever survived their murderous legions. The Romans hated the Jews for their unwavering religious independence.

Early and medieval Europe under Christian rule would not accept our clinging to our belief in one unified God. Since we would not convert to their religion, we were tortured, massacred, and our towns pillaged.

In Islamic countries, a Jew was only a second-class citizen, subject to special taxes and restrictions under the Pact of Umar, tolerated but not equal.

Napoleon, in the modern era, offered some political freedom as long as we assimilated into French society and culture. He was disturbed by our loyalty to Torah, its mitzvot (commandments), and our allegiance to God, which represented a force beyond his earthly power.

Napoleon welcomed the Jews as French citizens loyal to his rule but despised Judaism as a distinctive religion since it puts loyalty to God first.

Hitler and the Nazis considered both Jews and Judaism to be humanity's greatest dangers, a cancer, and they set out to eradicate both. Influenced by

Torah Portions

pseudo-science, they attempted to create a perfect, eternal Aryan race. Hitler hated the Jews, Judaism, and everything they represented.

So, bearing all this in mind, can one consider the editorial opinion of the Courier-Journal antisemitic?

I think so, and I don’t throw around the accusation liberally. I believe if we accuse everybody or anything we don’t like or disagree with of being antisemitic, eventually, the charge loses its power.

However, arguing that Jews should or must be universalists and don’t focus on our uniqueness — expecting that all of our commemorations and celebrations include all other persecuted and oppressed groups, and requiring that we dilute and sacrifice our particularity on the altar of universalism — all of these deprive us of the meaning of our lives and our history.

As a Jew and a child of a Holocaust survivor, I feel deeply for all those who are marginalized and persecuted. We must constantly fight for justice and respect for every human being with heart and vigor.

Yet we must not give up the power of the particular. We, as Jewish people, know that the universal God created a world of particular people and invested each human soul with infinite worth. The universal and particular go hand in hand.

I focus on our history during Jewish holidays and remember and mourn those whom we lost at our memorials. That doesn’t make me any less sensitive to the plight of others. If anything, it makes me more so. If my own people’s sufferings have a powerful meaning, then so will the particular suffering of others. To negate the meaning of our particular sufferings cannot but negate the meaning of others as well.

Shabbat Candle Lightings

March 3: 6:13 p.m.

March 10: 6:20 p.m.

March 17: 7:27 p.m.

March 24: 7:35 p.m.

March 31: 7:42 p.m.

Purim Feast of Lots

March 7/14 Adar

Commemorates the rescue of the Jews in ancient Persia. The reading of the Book of Esther, costumes, grogers (noisemakers), and eating hamantashen are part of this festival.

March 4: Tetzaveh (Ex. 27:20-30:10; Deut. 25:17-19)

March 11: Ki Tissa (Ex. 30:11-34:35; Num. 19:1-22)

March 18: Vayakhel-Pekudei (Ex. 35:1-40:38; 12:1-20)

March 25: Vayikra (Lev. 1:1-5:26)

As we rise to defend Jewish people around the world, we must stand up to defend Judaism as well. History has proven that first they come for our Judaism, and then they come for us — Jews ourselves.

We must speak up and call out any form of antisemitism by writing to the editor, calling talk shows, or posting on social media, and most importantly, we must continue to practice Judaism proudly for all to see.

Our particular cause is the cause of all humanity.

• Adar/Nisan
Rabbi Nochum Mangel

Purim always sneaks up on me. I find myself relaxing in post-Chanukah bliss, drinking cocoa with no holidays on the horizon. Then the snow melts and BAM! Time to get ready for Purim! Time to get organized for Passover! Make mishloach manot! See that tulip? Now bake 600 hamantashen!

This time of year goes from relaxed to hectic fast — and I'm always caught unprepared. While I love the taste of hamantashen, making dozens of them can be tedious and time consuming.

This year I’m giving myself a break by making one giant hamantash.

My giant hamantashen are technically like the crostata marmelatta — a lovely Italian freeform jam tart. I shape it like smaller hamantashen, add orange juice to the dough for that classic fruity taste, and bake it up into one huge treat.

This easy dessert is perfect for any time you have a lot of company.

The great thing about this recipe is it doesn’t look or feel like a time-saving hack — it feels special, spectacular, and silly. It's perfect for Purim.

When I brought it out at dinner my 5-year-old daughter laughed hysterically. "It's the biggest cookie ever!" she giggled. It’s Purim-tastic.

Giant Hamantash Pie Crust

2½ cups flour

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter/margarine

½ cup cold orange juice

1 egg beaten (set aside for egg wash)

Add flour, sugar, salt, and

This Purim, make a GIANT hamantash

butter to a food procedure. Process until combined. Add orange juice and process again, until the dough holds together and forms a wet ball. Don’t over-process, just combine. Remove dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours.

Apricot Levkar

I don’t recommend storebought jam here — it’s too runny. This recipe from Tori Avey cooks up quickly and easily.

4 cups dried apricots

2 cups water

½ cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

Stir ingredients together in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low, cover and let simmer for one hour. Once they are cooked and soft, mash apricots with a potato masher or a wooden spoon until it has

a jam-like consistency. Then it's ready to use. (If you end up with leftovers, you can use this in couscous or to glaze a chicken breast.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the pie dough is cool, roll out some parchment paper. Dust your rolling pin with flour and spread some on the surface of your paper too. Roll your dough out into a circle.

Place all of the filling in the center and spread evenly into a triangle shape.

Carefully roll up the sides into a hamantashen shape. You can trim them to be extra neat if you like. Brush the sides with egg. This tart is big, so carefully use the parchment paper to lift it onto your cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool and enjoy.

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Improbable endings

The Power of Stories Series


Velvel’s sister snuck out of the camp, soon joined by her brother. The entire family promptly defied the czar’s laws and fled to the United States.

hopeless vortex of agony and blackness.

After Velvel didn’t return home from school, his parents discovered that he had been forcibly conscripted into the czar’s army where, for 25 years, he would also be pressured to accept baptism.

Even if he survived, he would be lost to his family and to Judaism. His family fell into despair, an unbearable,

Meanwhile, with a satchel of honey cake and a bottle of vodka, Velvel’s sister walked to the training camp. She curtsied to the sentry and asked if she could give a treat to her brother, a new recruit. When the guard hesitated, she offered him the vodka and honey cake.

She found her brother, hustled him into an empty latrine, and instructed him to put on the dress, hat, and shoes at the bottom of her satchel. “Just walk out past the sentry, carrying my bag as if you’re me,” she instructed him. “I’ll wait for

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Hillel Academy of Dayton

305 Sugar Camp Circle, Dayton, Ohio 45409

Hillel Academy of Dayton is an academically driven, culturally inspired school educating and committed to K-6 student success within a caring, Jewish community connected to the world. We are seeking a part time (10 Hrs/week) Recruitment Coordinator to promote Hillel Academy in the community and recruit new families to enroll. Responsible for collaborating with Marketing Committee in the creation and distribution of communications materials. The Recruitment Coordinator reports to the Hillel Administrators and coordinates recruitment activities with the Administrators and Marketing Committee.


• Build relationship & network with families of 5-11 year olds

• Event planning & coordination

• Implement the recruitment strategy

• Managing & administering database of prospective families

• Participate in planning 1-2 PJ Library-Hillel/& Preschool events per year

• Actively contact families on the PJ Library list of families to increase family participation at PJ Library/Hillel events

• Refer families as needed to the Administrators for tours of the school, child assessments, & meetings with teachers.

• Organize regular meetings with JCC preschool & Hillel administrators to coordinate promotional activities & communication of Hillel & PJ Library events at JCC preschool

• Work with teachers & parent ambassador representatives to ensure communication with new families & students to promote a comfortable transition to our school.

• Represent school at various functions as needed.


• Demonstrated high energy & creativity

• Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills & rapport building

• Excellent verbal and written communication & presentation skills

• Proven hands-on skills in writing, editing, proofreading print & digital content coordination

• Adept in social media & skilled in utilizing these outlets to the school’s benefit

• Strong organizational & time management skills

• Attention to detail

Schedule: Part Time, 10 hours/week. EEO. No Phone Calls, Please.

We offer competitive compensation. If interested, submit resume and salary history to or FAX to 937-435-7908.

Dr. Iskra Fileva describes despair as “when the pain of the current situation—limited to a specific circumstance or encompassing one’s entire life—seems intolerable, the future appears to hold no hope, and the internal will to fight withdraws.”

For nearly a half century, despair has been viewed as an expression of malfunctioning biochemical processes in the brain, correctable through medical treatment.

However, mounting evidence suggests this medical model is incomplete, science writer Michael Begun notes. It doesn’t account for human agency: the power of human beings to think, make choices, act with intention, self-reflect, imagine, and especially to hope.

Human agency propels the Jewish story, an ongoing narrative filled with moments, lifetimes, even eras of great despair.

Yet, like the weekly Torah readings, the Jewish story never ends on a tragic note.

Consider Joseph, filled with despair as a hated brother, slave, and forgotten prisoner who rose to become viceroy of Egypt and reunited with his family.

And Jeremiah, who despaired when the people ignored his message and publicly humiliated him, but whose prophecies of a hopeful future sustained Israel in Babylonian exile where they forged the foundations of Torah-centered Judaism.

And the despairing Jews, devastated by Jerusalem’s destruction and scattered across the Iberian Peninsula, whose descendants became the scientists, mathematicians, physicians, and scholars of the Jewish Golden Age; the translators who helped spread Greco-Arabic knowledge; and the astronomers and mapmakers who guided Spanish and Portuguese explorers.

Comparable Jewish stories are endless. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks notes that "To be a Jew is to be an agent of hope in a world serially threatened by despair.” He likewise describes Judaism as "the refusal to give way to despair," illustrated by the following stories.

The switch. Circumcision is outlawed, decreed Emperor

Hadrian, upon pain of death. The Jews of Israel fell into despair. Nevertheless, the great sage Shimon ben Gamaliel secretly performed a circumcision on his new son, naming him Judah.

Upon discovery by the local Roman governor, Rabbi Shimon’s baby and wife were ordered to appear before Hadrian to be judged. On the way, Judah’s despairing mother shared her story with an innkeeper’s wife, the new mother of Antoninus.

“Take my uncircumcised son to Rome,” she offered, “and leave your child with me so his life might be spared.” When the infant was examined in the emperor’s court, no circumcision was evident.

Summarily dismissed, mother and infant returned homeward, stopping at the inn to exchange babies.

Eventually Antoninus, emperor of Rome, met Judah the Prince, editor of the Mishnah, and they became friends, a relationship that brought welcome protection to the Jewish community.

The concert. Faced with conversion or exile, many Jews during the Inquisition opted to remain in Spain and secretly practice their Judaism. As Rosh Hashanah approached, the secret Jews of Barcelona despaired. Unable to hear the shofar yet again, they resented a special concert scheduled for the holiday eve. Not attending would be tempting death.

To open the concert, Don Fernando Aguilar, conductor of the Royal Orchestra and a secret Jew, announced the performance would comprise his own compositions featuring the music and instruments of varied cultures. The audience

was spellbound. And only the secret Jews recognized the soaring calls of the shofar within the crescendos of the final piece, 100 blasts in full keeping with Jewish tradition. For the first time in years, Spain’s secret Jews were able to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of hearing the shofar.

The Foundation. In May of 2001, teenage friends Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran skipped school one day to go hiking in caves near their homes in Tekoa, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The boys’ bodies were found the next day, brutally stoned to death. Awash in grief and despair, Koby’s parents, Sherri and Rabbi Seth Mandell, struggled to pull themselves out of the abyss.

Sherri penned a poignant memoir, The Blessing of a Broken Heart, that was later adapted into a stage play.

The couple established the Koby Mandell Foundation for bereaved children and adults, offering summer and year-round camps, retreats, support groups, and other programs to families affected by terror and other tragedies.

“Sometimes we’re given these horrible tragedies and we’re able to turn them into something tremendously generative. To rise from the ashes and grow. It’s possible to transform the worst things into light,” Sherri concludes.

To this day, there is a sign over the entrance to the Bratislava synagogue, Rabbi Edward Feinstein notes: "Jews may not despair." It evokes words of advice from Rabbi Sacks: “Don’t think you understand the story of your life at halftime. Life is filled with improbable endings.”

Literature to share

A Persian Passover by Etan Basseri. This lively children’s tale of a mishap while preparing for Passover is a lovely introduction to the sights, smells, and traditions of a Seder in 1950s Iran. The preparation of matzah figures prominently in the story, as do the traditions of generosity and inviting guests to the Seder. At the end is a delicious Persian charoset recipe you’ll want to try.

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn. “People love dead Jews. Living Jews, not so much.” Based on the author’s research, travels, and personal experiences, this is a collection of essays in which Horn addresses the unbalanced portrayal of Jews through the lens of death while erasing living Judaism. In Horn’s own words, “I had mistaken the enormous public interest in past Jewish suffering for a sign of respect for living Jews. I was very wrong.”

'Don't think you understand the story of your life at halftime.'


From a Budapest attic to the NY Knicks: A Holocaust survivor’s family journey

For the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, the irony of Dan Grunfeld’s first contract offer to play professional basketball was a bit on-the-nose. It was not just that it came from Germany. The team that wanted him was from Oldenburg — the first state to put the Nazi party in power.

Grunfeld’s new book, By the Grace of the Game: The Holocaust, a Basketball Legacy, and an Unprecedented American Dream, is about these full-circle moments.

Alternating among the stories of his grandmother, now 96, who hid in a Budapest attic as Nazi soldiers executed thousands of Jews outside; of her son, Ernie Grunfeld, a Romanian immigrant who became an NBA ‘lifer’; and his own, Grunfeld tells a powerful tale of Jewish American redemption through basketball.

In the annals of Jewish basketball players, Ernie Grunfeld is as accomplished as they come — a nine-year playing career with the Bucks, Kings, and Knicks and a gold medal with Team U.S.A., followed by decades as a team executive. At the heart of this book is his assimilation into American life on the streets of Queens, and the pride his son — whose birth was scheduled around Knicks road trips so Grunfeld could attend the bris — takes in retracing his family’s steps.

Was it hard playing for a German pro basketball team considering the Holocaust’s place in your family history?

I’m probably the only professional player who had to ask his grandmother’s permission to sign his first contract. When I asked if she was OK with me playing in Germany, she said sons are not responsible for the sins of their fathers, and I’ll never forget that. That perspective really had an impact on me, because I can’t say that it wasn’t in the back of my mind at times, especially when I would meet some of the older folks in Germany, wondering what their histories were.

But as it relates to my teammates and the friends I made, I just treated them

The JCC Cultural Arts & Book Series presents Dan Grunfeld, 7 p.m., Sun., March 5 at Carillon Brewing Company, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton. Interviewing Grunfeld will be retired Dayton Daily News sportswriter Marc Katz. The cost is $5. Register at events.

At 6 p.m., the Jewish Federation will host a Men's Philanthropy Happy Hour with Grunfeld. RSVP for this free event to Samantha Daniel at

like people and that’s what I’ve always learned from my grandma and my dad. How did this book come about?

I interviewed my grandma and my dad for a year and a half. And I didn’t tell them exactly what I had in mind. I needed space to kind of make sense of it all, and I don’t know if I could have written it if everyone was kind of aware. So I did the research, wrote the book, and then I shared it with my family.

My dad is very proud of me, very grateful that I’m telling this story. I talk a lot in the book about privilege, like that’s one of my privileges — I have a generation of separation from this tragedy and trauma, so I can go back and talk about it. So, I think he’s grateful for that, but it’s difficult.

Between your father’s basketball story and your own, the contrast is pretty dramatic.

Yeah, my dad’s career and my career are kind of inverted in certain ways. My dad was born in Romania under communism, came to the United States, was a gold medalist for the U.S. and played in the NBA. I was born in an affluent suburb outside of New York City, played for the Romanian national team, and made my career in Europe.

You played in Germany, Spain, and Israel in your career. What was your favorite overseas playing experience?

I was lucky — I played in really good countries with strong leagues. But Israel was my favorite. When I was playing in the Maccabiah games in 2009, I remember telling my sister, I’m going to finish my career here. It was just such a special, meaningful experience. As I wrote in the book, my dad and my grandparents had passports to emigrate from Romania to Israel, but at the last minute were able to come to the United States. But the majority of the rest of our family settled in Israel. So to be able to reconnect with that history, to be able to understand the State of Israel and the history there, I just had a wonderful time. And the food’s amazing, too.

You experienced withdrawal as your basketball career wound down. I’m curious how long that lasted. To what extent is the game still a part of your life?

I was really burnt out by the time I retired. I didn’t touch a basketball for a year, though I was working for the NBA at that point. I think I needed that space. But after some time, I started shooting around a bit, playing a bit. And now I play once a week, when I’m in the Bay

Area, and I have a pickup game with some folks that I enjoy playing with. And listen, I have a great time. You know, basketball is one of my greatest loves, I still love to play it. I love to watch it and read about it — it’s in my blood.

And this is how my book starts, right? I was born around the NBA schedule, you know, and Judaism, right? So my dad could be there for my birth and my bris. From the beginning, basketball has been there, and it’s not going anywhere. There are fewer living Holocaust survivors every year. And concerns about antisemitism and antisemitic attacks are growing. Do you talk about this with your dad and grandmother? Yeah, we definitely talked about it. I remember speaking to my grandmother after the terrible shooting in Pittsburgh years ago, and she said, “I couldn’t sleep.”

For my grandma, she had seen what can happen. So if there’s a synagogue that’s desecrated, or a fire started in a sacred Jewish place, it’s upsetting. We try to think about ways to make a difference, and for me, telling my

family story is a small part of that. The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago, and it wasn’t that far away. And we need to do everything that we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If there’s one thing people take away from your book, what would you want it to be?

There’s darkness in the book, but there’s a lot more light. You know, ultimately, this is a hopeful story. I’ve always drawn inspiration from what my grandmother overcame, what my dad overcame, and from what the game of basketball has done for us. So I hope when people read it, it has that same effect.

Dan Grunfeld
Saturday, April 1, 2023 Tickets Available Now!


Female artists explore memory, identity, heritage at The Co

New exhibitions by three female artists are on display at The Contemporary Dayton through March 26. Uniting the works of Becky Suss, Carmen Winant, and Yael Bartana are their varied interpretations of feminism and Jewish heritage.

Their art ranges from painting to collage to video installation.

Becky Suss is a Philadelphia-based painter of domestic interiors who combines real spaces from her childhood memories with invented ones. Her exhibit, Home, is rendered with meticulous attention to detail. Suss’ canvases show off crisp architectural lines, elaborate patterns, and intentional colorways referencing different eras of personal significance.

The space we occupy, particularly of that in which we dwell, has had a long and varied appearance throughout art history; Vermeer, Matisse, and Van Gogh are a few examples in Modern art.

Though Suss’ interiors often depict nostalgic objects —rotary phones, Snoopy watches — these scenes are lonely, quiet rooms. The emptiness serves as an alluring suggestion of narrative. It encourages the viewer’s use of imagination, positioning oneself in the vacant interior. Walking through the gallery, Suss’ large-scale paintings could be experienced as a sequence of images in succession, a walk through the rooms of a house.

The concept of walking through imaginary rooms in connection to memory has classical origins. The “memory palace” mnemonic device is at least 2,000 years old. Items to be remembered are mentally associated with specific objects in imagined locations.

Works by Yael Bartana, Becky Suss, and Carmen Winant are on exhibit at The Contemporary Dayton, 25 W. Fourth St., through March 26. Admission is free. For more information, go to or call 937-224-3822.

When you want to remember, say, lines from a speech, you visualize the imagined location in your mind and commit each part of the speech to an object, such as a vase or a chair. Similarly, objects in Suss’ paintings are signifiers of memory and narrative.

Books are also a recurring theme in Suss’ paintings; on view are a few intimately sized canvases depicting book covers of personal significance to the artist.

Descending from Russian Jews, Suss grew up with an interest in Old World versus New World. In one painting at The Co, Suss portrays the cover of the novel Mary by Yiddish author Sholem Asch, who was her greataunt’s uncle. Mary is one in a trilogy by Asch about Jewish life and early Christianity in the first century C.E.

During her artist talk at The Co with art historian and guest curator Greer Pagano, Suss rooted her love of books in her Jewish background. “I was raised Jewish,” the secular artist said. She described her family as “people of the book. A family that was very intent on education.”

Suss explained that her initial reason for creating paintings from books was that as a child, the bookshelves of her parents’ and grandparents’ homes were symbols. "This book was an object that represented this value system" of knowledge and learning. There is storytelling in an object, Suss said, not just within the narrative of the book, but in the book as a signifier.

Despite intellectual themes behind her work, the painter is determined to make her work accessible, both to children and others who don’t necessarily frequent art galleries.

Suss' nod to gender lies in her interest in the value of domesticity and the legacy of the women in her family as homemakers cultivating a strong familial


Carmen Winant, a collage and installation artist who teaches studio art at Ohio State, has for this exhibit created 30 light boxes illuminating collages of women.

All the material in Winant’s work is found and collected. Her images at The Co come from “old magazines, books of Martha Graham choreography, feminist literature” and so on. “I’ve spent years looking for full bleed, double-sided images that hold my attention,” says Winant. “I hold it all up to the window, thousands of images now over time.”

The feminist theory of the male gaze presents women as objects for the pleasure of the male, heterosexual viewer. Perhaps the most famous example in art history is Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) of 1863. The painting depicts a naked woman picnicking with two fully dressed men. She stares directly at the viewer. Winant disrupts the voyeurism of looking on the female nude with raw images of childbirth, juxtaposing different ideas of female sexuality.

Winant, also secular, says “Judaism — as a culture, as a history, as a spiritual guide, informs the fabric of my being. Particularly the concept of tikun olam (repairing the world), and intentional repair. My interest in feminism is rooted in this same commitment — a desire to make the world a safer and more communal place for us all.”

Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s video installation, The Undertaker, is a 62-minute rumination on confronting systemic violence with action. A slow, deliberate performance piece, its participants carry rifles whose muzzles appear to have been wrapped so as to be rendered useless.

They march through modern-day Philadelphia in white garments, pacing toward a cemetery to perform a ritual burial of the weapons. The movements are inspired by Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol and her 1953 performance in remembrance of the Holocaust.

In the case of all three artists, there is a sense of stillness: whether it is a vacant interior, a photographed moment frozen in time, or a solemnly methodic performance piece.

They require human presence to become reanimated. Visit The Co to breathe further life into these thoughtful works.

The Neighbor, The Friend, The Lover, 2020, found double-sided images on paper by Carmen Winant. Becky Suss in front of Hallway, 2017, oil on canvas. George
Still from The Undertaker, 2020, 18-minute film transferred to single channel video with sound by Yael Bartona.

The History of theWorld: Part II is going to be so Jewish

I regret to say that I was in my late 20s when I finally watched The History of the World: Part I. I truly can’t believe it took me that long — all the years I deprived myself of the rolling laughter that comes along with the experience of watching the classic 1981 Mel Brooks film.

I vow not to make the same mistake with History of the World: Part II, the long awaited sequel that will be released on Hulu in March as an eight-episode, four-night television extravaganza. I will binge it the moment I can, and not a second later.

Now, History of the World: Part I was very Jewish. There’s, of course, the famous Jews In Space song, which we all fondly reminisced about in 2021 when congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared an unhinged conspiracy theory about a Jewish space laser.

There’s Mel Brooks as a very clumsy Moses, with the Ten Commandments, talking to God — who is voiced by Jewish legend Carl Reiner (may his memory be for a blessing). And of course, there’s the Spanish Inquisition.

But, much to my delight, it looks like the next chapter of The History of the World will be even more Jewish.

The two-minute trailer is chock full of Jewish moments. There’s Seth Rogen as Noah, who is obsessed with getting two of every breed of dog on his ark (he can’t help but sneak in an extra pug).

There’s Jewish dad (and jaddy) Taika Waititi as Sigmund Freud, who indulges in a little Freudian slip when he invites

viewers to join his master class.

But perhaps most importantly, there are the hysterical (and Jewish!) Ike Barinholtz, Sarah Silverman, and Nick Kroll, wearing Star Trek-ian outfits adorned with Jewish star pins and flanked by a gigantic dreidel in what we can only hope is an actual Jewish space laser.

Barinholtz and Kroll are also signed on as producers, along with the fabulous Wanda Sykes, who you can see on the spaceship with them in this scene (she also plays Shirley Chisholm and Harriet Tubman).

Some other fun Jewish moments from the trailer include a scene in which a crowd is eating matzah on a stick and a Fiddler-esque dance.

Nick Kroll also plays Judas in the Jesus scenes of the movie, which should be interesting.

The cast also features some of our absolutely favorite hilarious Jews. Hannah Einbinder plays Amelia Earhart, Josh Gad plays Shakespeare. Our favorite chanter of Hebrew prayers, Jack Black, is seen in a fun musical moment as a soviet leader.

We also get a glimpse of the wonderful Jason Alexander with a fab mustache and beard. Other Jews in the cast include our favorite dad, Andy Cohen, Michaela Watkins, Emily Ratajowski, David Duchovny, and more.

History of the World: Part II looks like it could be — dare I say? — even funnier than its predecessor. And it’s premiering on March 6, the eve of Purim — aka the funniest Jewish night of the year. That can’t be a coincidence. I can’t wait.

Seth Rogen as Noah in The History of the World: Part II
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predecessor. with The Dayton Jewish Observer’s Marshall Weiss Weekly podcast The Jewish News Hour Search for The Dayton Jewish Observer in Spotify podcasts and subscribe
— dare I say?
than its

Marilyn K. Gans passed away on the morning of Jan. 12 at the age of 91. Marilyn was born in Pittsburgh to parents Buck and Jane Krauss and sister Ruth. She attended the University of Michigan where she met her first husband, Robert Matusoff, with whom she had one son, James. In 1982 she married William Gans with whom she lovingly remained until his passing. Marilyn was always surrounded by her many loving friends, always busy, full of life, and a lover of the arts and education. All who knew her, knew of her excellence as both a tennis player and a bridge grand master. She is survived by her son and daughter-inlaw, James and Laura; their children Kyle and Sarah; her great-grandchildren Mason and Maddox; and her sister Ruth Feldman and her children Mitchell and Lynn.

Sheila M. Wagenfeld, age 84, passed away Feb. 14. Sheila was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Dayton in 1960. She was a lifelong member of Beth Abraham Synagogue. She was preceded in death by her parents, Barney and Etta Gales. Beloved wife of 65 years to Lawrence Wagenfeld. Beloved mother of Steven and Taryn Wagenfeld, and Richard and Hilary Wagenfeld. Beloved grandmother of Brandon, Alexis and Jordan. Sheila had many cherished friendships over her 60-plus years living in Dayton. Interment was at Beth Abraham Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Beth Abraham Synagogue.

Jenny Caplan

Continued from Page 17

peopled almost entirely by White, middle-class, attractive folks. It’s a sort of Upper West Side myopia. But there’s the bris episode, aired in 1993, and written by Larry Charles. Unless you are really interested in the medium, you may not know much about Larry Charles, because he stays behind the camera. But he also goes on to do things like direct Bill Maher’s anti-religion documentary Religulous, and there’s a real strong case for him as having very negative feelings about organized religion which feels like a holdover from the Silent Generation. And so in that episode you have Kramer as the Larry Charles stand-in, just opining about the barbaric nature of the circumcision and trying to save this poor baby from being mutilated.

The few references to actual Judaism in Seinfeld are squirmy. I am thinking of the 1995 episode in which a buffoon of a rabbi blurts out Elaine’s secrets on a TV show. That was written by Larry David, another boomer, whose follow-up series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is similarly known for its irreverence toward Judaism. But you say David can also surprise you with a kind of empathy for religion.

For the most part, he’s classic, old school, anti-organized religion. There’s the Palestinian Chicken episode where the Jews are rabidly protesting the existence of a Palestinian-run chicken restaurant near a Jewish deli, and where his friend Funkhouser won’t play golf on Shabbos until Larry gets permission by bribing the rabbi with the Palestinian chicken. There, rabbis are ridiculous and can be bought and religion is

hollow and this is all terrible. But then there’s this bat mitzvah montage where for one moment in the entire run of this show, Larry seems happy and in a healthy relationship and fulfilled and enjoying life. It was much more in line with what we’ve been seeing from a lot of younger comedians at that point, which was religion as an anchor in a good way — not to pull you down but to keep you grounded.

So for Generation X, as you write, Judaism serves “real, emotional, or psychological purpose for the practitioners.”

I wouldn’t actually call it respect but religion is an idea that’s not just something to be mocked and relegated to the dustbin. I’m not saying that Generation X is necessarily more religious, but they see real power and value in tradition and in certain kinds of family experiences. So, a huge amount of the humor can still come at the expense of your Jewish mother or your Jewish grandmother, but the family can also be the thing that is keeping you grounded, and frequently through some sort of religious ritual.

Who exemplifies that?

My favorite example is the 2009 Jonathan Tropper novel, This Is Where I Leave You. I’m so disappointed that the film adaptation of that sucked a lot of the Jewish identity out of the story. In that book, where a family gathers for their father’s shiva, the characters are horrible people in a dysfunctional family writ large. They lie to each other. They backstab each other. But in the scene where the protagonist Judd describes standing up on the bima (synagogue stage) to say Kaddish (the mourner’s prayer) after the death of his father, and the way he talks about this emotional

catharsis that comes from saying the words and hearing the congregation say the words — it’s a startling moment of clarity in a book where these characters are otherwise just truly reprehensible.

Which brings us to Broad City, which aired between 2014 and 2019. It’s about two 20-something Jewish women in New York who, in the case of Ilana Glazer’s character, anyway, are almost giddy about being Jewish and embrace it just as they embrace their sexuality: as just liberating. Ilana even upends the Jewish mother cliché by loving her mother to death.

That’s the episode with Ilana at her grandmother’s shiva, which also has the B plot where Ilana and her mother are shopping for underground illegal handbags. They spend most of the episode snarking at each other and fighting with each other, and her mother’s a nag and Ilana is a bumbling idiot. But at the moment that the cops show up, and try to nab them for having all of these illegal knockoff handbags, the two of them are a team. They are an absolute unit of destructive force against these hapless police officers.

I think all of your examples of younger comics are women, who have always had fraught relationships with Jewish humor, both as practitioners and as the target of jokes. You write about “The JAP Battle” rap from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which both leans into the stereotype of the JewishAmerican Princess — spoiled, acquisitive, “hard as nails” — and tries to reclaim it without the misogyny.

Rachel Bloom’s character Rebecca in Girlfriend self-identifies as a JAP, but she doesn’t actually fit the category. It’s her mother, Naomi, who truly is the Philip Roth, Marjorie Morningstar Herman Wouk model of a JAP. So Bloom is kind of using the term, but you can’t repurpose the term when the original is still there.

So as an alternative, I offer up a new term: the Modern Ashkenazi American Woman. It’s very New York, it’s very East Coast, it’s very particular to a type of upbringing and community that in the 1950s and ’60s would have been almost exclusively Conservative Jews, and then may have become a bit more Reform as we’ve gotten into the ’90s and 2000s. They went to the JCC. They probably went to Jewish summer camp.

But even that doesn’t even really speak to the American sense of what Jewish is anymore, because American Jews have become increasingly racially and culturally diverse.

There is also something that’s happening historically with Generation X, and that’s the distance from the two major Jewish events of the 20th century, the Holocaust and the creation of Israel.

The Silent Generation and baby boomers still had a lingering sense of existential dread — the sense that we’re not so far removed from an attempted total annihilation of Jews. Gen X and millennials are so far removed from the Holocaust that they don’t feel that same fear.

But the real battleground we’re seeing in contemporary American Judaism is about the relationship to Israel. For baby boomers and even for some older members of Gen X, there’s still a sense that you can criticize Israel, but at the end of the day, it’s your duty to ultimately support Israel’s right to exist. And I think millennials and Zoomers (Gen Z) are much more comfortable with the idea of Israel being illegitimate.

You’re teaching a class on Jewish humor. What do your undergraduates find funny?

Now that Woody Allen is better known for having married his adoptive daughter and for the molestation allegations brought by another adoptive daughter, do they look at his classic films and ask, “Why are you teaching us this guy?”

For the first time I’m not including Woody Allen. I had shown Crimes and Misdemeanors for years because I think it’s his most theological film. I think it’s a great film. And then a couple years ago, I backed off, because some students were responding that it was hard to look at him with all the baggage. He’s still coming up in conversation because you can’t really talk about the people who came after him without talking about him, but for the first time I’m not having them actually watch or read any of his stuff.

They have found things funny that I didn’t expect them to, and they have not found things funny that I would have thought they would. They laughed their way through Yidl mitn fidl, the 1936 Yiddish musical starring Molly Picon. I also thought they’d enjoy the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup and they did not laugh once. Some of that is the fact that Groucho’s delivery is just so fast.

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is an Olympic Gold Medalist who earned nationwide stardom for her heroic e orts at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. After injuring her ankle on her first vault attempt, Kerri needed to land her second and final vault in order to seal the victory over Russia for the team combined gymnastics gold medal. With millions of people watching, and two torn ligaments in her leg, Kerri got the job done with a solid landing before collapsing to her hands and knees. She was carried to the award ceremony where she received her first gold medal. It was the first time the U.S. Gymnastics Team won gold.

Kerri received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Masters Degree in Social Psychology at Stanford University. She currently works for the United States Juvenile Justice Department and formerly worked at the White House in Student Correspondence. Kerri is the mother of two young children.

Kerri will talk about her career and touch on the role Judaism has played in her life. Kerri was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. She is one of only three gymnasts to receive this honor.

DATE: Sunday, May 21

TIME: 6:00 p.m.


525 Versailles Dr, Centerville 45459