Cedar Village hosts art show, reception April 28 Cedar Village Retirement Community, located in Mason, will hold an Opening Minds through Art show and reception on Thursday, April 28 from 6 – 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend this free event that showcases dozens of original works of art created by individuals with dementia. Opening Minds through Art, OMA, is part of a partnership between Cedar Village and the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University. OMA is based on the principle that individuals with dementia are capable of expressing themselves creatively. OMA is not about creating art and no one who participates is or was an artist. Rather, it is about helping individuals to make choices, to find a way to express themselves even when their language skills are limited or non-existent. The results of OMA are measured by observing participant behavior and interaction, a qualitative index of their CEDAR on page 20
Plus this week’s Facebook winner
Rockwern Academy launches new program for toddlers
The American Israelite website launches a complete listing of community organizations for all of your family’s Jewish lifecycle needs, from congregational life to entertainment, health and fitness, Kosher establishments, scholarships and loans, college life, job placement, young adults, senior adults and much more. The full listing can be accessed by going to The American Israelite’s website. Roll the computer’s mouse over the “Organizations” header to see a dropdown that shows the “Community Directory” section. Click on it to use and peruse the directory. Also, congratulations to Janet M. Weisberger, this week’s “like” us on Facebook contest winner. Janet has won a $50 gift certificate to Embers Restaurant. Don’t forget to “like” us for your chance to win!
Rockwern Academy is launching an exciting new program for children, “The Little Lunch Bunch,” for toddlers ages 1-3. The program will meet on Friday, May 13 and Friday, May 27 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and will resume in the fall. All activities will be led by Rockwern staff members and will include activities such as Shabbat sing, arts and crafts, tumbling and/or story time. Bring your own lunch and join us for fun and celebration. Grape juice and challah will be provided. Participants will also have the opportunity to use Rockwern Academy’s library after the program finishes. For more information or to make a reservation, call Rockwern Academy or email Gail Sperling.
The American Israelite website launches comprehensive community directory
Auschwitz bar mitzvah for 78-year-old Oscar-winner Branko Lustig
Courtesy of David Sprague/Universal Studios
Rabbi Mark Blazer drapes a tallis around the shoulders of Hollywood producer Branko Lustig, who will celebrate his bar mitzvah at Auschwitz in May 2011.
Tweaking tradition: Online project modernizing Jewish texts with today’s lingo
By Tom Tugend Jewish Telegraphic Agency
By Sue Fishkoff Jewish Telegraphic Agency
LOS ANGELES — Branko Lustig, 78, twotime Oscar winner for “Schindler’s List” and “Gladiator,” will celebrate his bar mitzvah on May 2 at Auschwitz, in front of barrack No. 24. He missed his rite of passage as a 13-yearold because at the time he was a prisoner in the very same barrack, having been deported from his Croatian hometown to the death camp when he was 10. To mark the belated bar mitzvah, Lustig will be accompanied by some 10,000 participants in the March of the Living, nearly all teenagers.
SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Morgan Friedman loves the way people talk. He wants others to love it, too. The 35-year-old social media entrepreneur, formerly of Brooklyn, N.Y., and now living in Buenos Aires, launches new digital projects like marshmallows from an air gun. Pow! Over Heard In New York is a website for offbeat conversations that his team of eavesdroppers hears on the streets. Pffft! The website for Yiddish expressions is culled from half-remembered witticisms of
LUSTIG on page 20
Courtesy of Morgan Friedman
Morgan Friedman, 35, relies on crowdsourcing to translate Jewish texts into modern English vernacular.
PROJECT on page 22
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Don’t miss May’s first JAHM events If you have not done so already, it is time to prepare for the upcoming events of Jewish American Heritage Month. Here are the events in JAHM’s first week and a half. “Kicking off Jewish Heritage Month in Cincinnati means a great deal to me,” noted Neil Sedaka, who will be performing with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra on May 1. “I am very proud of my heritage. I believe it has contributed to my talents and gifts. As a matter of fact, I had a great success a few years ago with ‘Brighton Beach Memories’ a collection of Yiddish songs that are dear to me.” In addition, this is not the first time the legendary hit-maker, who has been performing for 50 plus years, has appeared on the stage at Music Hall. “I have always enjoyed playing with Cincinnati’s orchestra and for the audiences there. It’s especially exciting since I am debuting my new piano concerto, ‘Manhattan Intermezzo.’ The orchestra will also perform my first symphonic piece ‘Joie De Vivre.’” Sedaka began his musical career as a concert pianist, studying at the Julliard School in New York, and later wrote and performed such Top 40 hits as “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Calendar Girl,”
“Laughter in the Rain” and “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen.” The Mayerson JCC will present “A Comical, Culinary History of Jews in America” on May 5 at
Courtesy of Neil Sedaka.
6:30 p.m. Los Angeles comedy writer Seth Front will offer his 45 minute interactive lecture using over 100 images to tell the history of the Jewish deli in America, from its origins on the Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century, its adaptation to American tastes, its assimilation into mainstream American culture and finally to the challenges facing delis for survival in the 21st cen-
tury. Among the many questions “Culinary History” answers are: What foods did Jews bring with them from Eastern Europe? How did Broadway entertainers help popularize deli, and how did deli culture help ease Jewish entry into mainstream American society? And most importantly, who’s got the best pastrami sandwich in the country? A deli style dinner will be available. On May 8 at 2 p.m. the downtown branch of the Public Library will host Rabbi Kenneth Ehrlich, dean of HUC-JIR, and his lecture/discussion “People of the Book.” Ehrlich will review the American Jewish experience through words and images created by Jewish literary artists, which will include work from Cincinnati poet, Amy K. Blank. “For many reasons, the American Jewish author often feels like an ‘outsider’ who is struggling with his own identity as a Jew and as an American,” noted Ehrlich. “That perspective helps all of us understand and appreciate what it means to be ‘Jewish’ and also what it means to be ‘American.’” Ehrlich hopes people will take away that “American Jewish literature written over the past century reflects our Jewish experience in and with America.” JAHM on page 19
Celebrate Israel Independence Day, May 9 at the JCC The entire community is invited to Cincinnati’s observance of Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) and celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on Monday, May 9, at the Mayerson JCC. The memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m., immediately followed by the celebration of Israel’s 63rd anniversary, at 6:30 p.m. A free concert and Israeli dancing, Israeli-themed activities, and a kosher food court are some of the highlights of the Yom HaAtzmaut celebration. Both events are free and open to all. Americans and Israelis come together in achdut (unity) for the Yom HaZikaron service on Monday, May 9 at 5:30 p.m., outdoors at the rear of the JCC building. Cincinnati women who have served in the Israeli army will lay wreaths and the Israeli flag will be lowered to half-staff. A siren will sound in memory of the fallen soldiers and a minute of silence will be observed. Community rabbis will lead the participants in prayer, choirs from Rockwern Academy and Cincinnati Hebrew Day School will sing, and special readings related to the fallen soldiers
will be spotlighted. Immediately following the Yom HaZikaron ceremony, the community celebration of Israel Independence Day begins at 6:30 p.m. inside the JCC. “A Taste of Kosher Cincinnati” features an international food court with Israeli and Indian food, sushi, bagels, chocolates, ice cream and other desserts. Children can enjoy the inflatable Giant Slide and Bounce House, participate in an Israeli self defense (Krav Maga) workshop led by Cincinnati Karate, and take part in Israeli themed games and activities. Everyone is encouraged to sing along with the Cincinnati Klezmer Project and dance with Israeli dance instructor, Idit Moss. An information station about Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (held in captivity in an unknown location in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since June 2006) offers the opportunity to write notes to his family. All activities are free. The planning committee for these events includes Pam Barnett, Yana Duke, David Gershuny, Betsy Goldfarb, Carrie Goldhoff, Steve Karmel, Deb LaFrance, Jerry Lindahl, Idit Moss, Zahava Rendler, Etti Scheier,
Dianne Schneider and Bev Shapero. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Woosley, JCC community educator, at the Mayerson JCC or visit the JCC website.
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Adath Israel Hazak spring concert includes Perlman’s daughter, her husband Adath Israel Congregation Hazak 55 Plus Group is presenting an afternoon concert on May 15 featuring charismatic young couple Ariella Perlman (Itzhak’s daughter) and her husband Robert Johnson. The concert begins promptly at 4 p.m. in the Marcus Chapel, followed by a meet and greet with the artists and a buffet supper. Ariella grew up in a family of
artists and musicians in New York City. She holds a degree from Rice University in flute performance and has toured Europe with Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra. Included in her program is an exciting piece commissioned for her by her parents. It is a real crowd pleaser. A native of Hamilton, Ohio, Robert Johnson is currently principal horn with the Richmond, Va. symphony orchestra. He holds a
degree in horn performance from Rice University and has been a featured soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic and New World Symphony Orchestras. “This is an excellent opportunity to hear the impressive individual talents of two very gifted musicians,” said Miriam Elfenbaum, president of Hazak, “as well as an opportunity to see some of Ariella’s art work.” Ariella is an accomplished jew-
eler specializing in beaded, decoupage and painted pieces, including a Judaica line all of which she is offering for sale, beginning at 3:30 p.m. and continuing later in the afternoon after the concert. Reservations close on May 5 and can be made through the Adath Israel office. The community is invited to attend. There is a reasonable charge for the event.
Get schooled in Jewish Cincinnati history with Young Professionals Just in time for Jewish American Heritage Month, Jewish young professionals are invited to go “old school” and travel back in time to the days of Cincinnati’s first Jewish settlers when Access’ JCafe presents, History of the JQC (Jewish Queen City) 101 on Monday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Jacob Radar Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. No need for books or boring lectures—guests can sit back and enjoy an engaging foray into the fascinating history of Jewish Cincinnati. As the birthplace of Reform Judaism in America, and home to the Manischewitz Matzo Bakery and the Fleishmann Yeast Company, as well as Dr. Henry Heimlich, Isaac M. Wise, Albert Sabin and many other renowned people, Jewish Cincinnati has carved out a very important place for itself in our country’s rich history. “Who better to tell the tale of the Cincinnati Jewish experience than Dr. Gary Zola, director of the American Jewish Archives, and the man in charge of preserving
American Jewish history and imparting it to the next generation?” asks Pam Saeks, director of Jewish Giving for the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation.
A Cincinnati original — Manischewitz Matzo box from 1888. Find other historic treasures by taking the History of the Jewish Queen City 101 course.
“Several young professionals happened to be at a recent community event in which Dr. Zola was speaking, and were so impressed that they requested we create an entire
program around him just for their demographic. We were all too happy to comply,” she adds. “It also turned out to be the perfect way to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month while showing off our incredible state-ofthe-art American Jewish Archives to a whole new group of people.” The event is open to Jewish young professionals, 21-35 (nonJewish significant others are always welcome) and is free with advance reservations. The evening includes dinner and drinks in the Archives’ spectacular Reading Room, and an engaging discussion, perfect for history buffs or anyone interested in knowing more Cincinnati from a Jewish perspective, in the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati’s state-of-the-art International Learning Center. “Whether they’ve lived here all their lives, or just moved to town, we think it’s important for our constituents to know about the city they call home,” explains Rachel Plowden, Access program manager. “That’s why we are so excited to
have this chance to showcase our city’s proud legacy and the numerous Jewish people, places and events that have played a prominent role in making Cincinnati, and our nation great!” For those interested in learning how the Archives operate and want the chance to view documents and letters written by Albert Einstein and some of our country’s other important Jewish people, a preevent behind-the-scenes tour will begin promptly at 6 p.m. Self-guided tours of the Archives’ Jewish Cincinnati exhibit will also be available following the program. JCafe is a program of Access, an initiative of The Mayerson Foundation that brings participants together around topics of particular interest to Jewish young adults, including Kosher Sex, Business Ethics, Jewish Identity, Messages in Israeli Music and much more. For more information or to RSVP for this event, please contact Access at the number listed in the Community Directory in this issue.
Wise Temple celebrates marriage anniversaries On Shabbat evening, April 22, 27 couples ascended the bima of Wise Center for an extraordinary evening of celebration. Marking significant wedding anniversaries ranging from 10 – 60 years of marriage, each of these couples renewed their vows in a statement of marriage reconsecration. In what has become an annual tradition, the evening, hosted by 50th anniversary honorary chairs Ann and Stephen Glick, Marcia and Dr. Robert Lukin, Nancy and Donald Seltz and Nancy and Dr. Howard Starnbach, was a moment of significance for each of the participants. It is a service held each year around the season of Passover, when traditionally, the Song of Songs, Biblical poetry of love and
romance is read. Participants renewed their vows in quiet words to their spouses, shared a cup of wine, and read words for Hosea as well as Song of Songs, before receiving a blessing. Many of the wedding couples commented that they had not anticipated the sense of enjoyment and meaning that the brief ceremony of celebration would impart. Yet it was clear that it was a moment of joy and gratitude, in watching the couples turn to one another on the bima to recite their vows of reconsecration. “When we were married so many years ago, we had a simple ceremony, without friends, family or reception,” remarked one couple to their friends. “This feels like we have completed that simpler moment, by
celebrating the years, and celebrating our joy with others.” Rabbi Lewis H. Kamrass remarked: “There is a special feeling standing with others on the bima, and each couple exchanging a private and beautiful moment of reflection together. From that moment, there emerges a deep sense of gratitude for all that couples have shared through the years.” At the conclusion of the vows and the shared kiddush, as couples descended the bima, the congregation responded with applause for the anniversary participants, particularly enthusiastic with those couples celebrating 50, 55 and 60 years of marriage. Following the service, the participants and congregants in attendance at services that evening
joined for a festive Oneg Shabbat. A large selection of Passover desserts were enjoyed along with a display of each couple’s wedding pictures. There was a great deal of enjoyment and smiles that everyone shared in looking at wedding photos of the celebrating couples from many years before. The Marriage Reconsecration Service has been an annual tradition at Wise Temple for 25 years, and offers Wise Temple couples the opportunity to mark their special occasion in a sacred moment, and in the circles of community and celebration within their congregational family. The following couples renewed their vows: ANNIVERSARIES on page 19
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VOL. 157 • NO. 40 THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011 24 NISSAN 5771 SHABBAT BEGINS FRIDAY 8:09 PM SHABBAT ENDS SATURDAY 9:10 PM THE AMERICAN ISRAELITE CO., PUBLISHERS 18 WEST NINTH STREET, SUITE 2 CINCINNATI, OHIO 45202-2037 PHONE: (513) 621-3145 FAX: (513) 621-3744 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org RABBI ISSAC M. WISE Editor & Publisher, 1854-1900 LEO WISE Editor & Publisher, 1900-1928 RABBI JONAH B. WISE Editor & Publisher, 1928-1930 HENRY C. SEGAL Editor & Publisher, 1930-1985 PHYLLIS R. SINGER Editor & General Manager, 1985-1999 MILLARD H. MACK Publisher Emeritus NETANEL (TED) DEUTSCH Editor & Publisher BARBARA L. MORGENSTERN Senior Writer NICOLE SIMON RITA TONGPITUK Assistant Editors ALEXIA KADISH Copy Editor JANET STEINBERG Travel Editor STEPHANIE DAVIS-NOVAK Fashion Editor MARILYN GALE Dining Editor MARIANNA BETTMAN NATE BLOOM IRIS PASTOR RABBI A. JAMES RUDIN ZELL SCHULMAN RABBI AVI SHAFRAN PHYLLIS R. SINGER Contributing Columnists LEV LOKSHIN JANE KARLSBERG Staff Photographers JOSEPH D. STANGE Production Manager MICHAEL MAZER Sales ERIN WYENANDT Office Manager
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THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
Rockwern to host ‘Arty Party,’ Open House on May 11 Rockwern Academy will be hosting its annual Preschool Art Show and Open House on Wednesday evening, May 11 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. The “Arty Party” is a great opportunity for prospective parents to meet the teachers, tour the school and to enroll their children for the fall. The event is designed
for both children and parents. Adults will be able to learn more about Rockwern’s program while children will be invited to visit the balloon artist and face painter, participate in an arts and crafts activity, and join in for story time. The Preschool Art Show will be a highlight of the event.
Serving children from age 18 months to 4-years-old, the early childhood education program at Rockwern provides a warm environment geared to preparing children academically, socially and emotionally for kindergarten and beyond. Classes are small, and there are opportunities for gym,
Jewish holiday celebration, music, art and even Hebrew language instruction. A love of Judaism and the foundation for learning begins at the earliest age. Rockwern is dedicated to building vibrant, joyful Jewish identities in each and every child in its program. The strong
educational curriculum and warm environment prepares all of the children for kindergarten and lays the groundwork for a strong Jewish identity. For more information or to see the school, please contact the Rockwern admissions office or email Gail Sperling.
May, June Eitz Chayim programs at Wise Temple Wise Temple is excited to announce its upcoming offerings for adult education sponsored by their Eitz Chayim, adult education committee. The next Live From New York’s 92nd Street Y satellite program on Tuesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. will host Howard Gardner and David Books discussing Gardner’s latest book, “Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed,” an approachable primer on the foundations of ethics in the modern age. From ancient times, philosophers, theologians, and artists have attempted to describe and categorize the defining virtues of civilization. In his book, Gardner
explores the meaning of the title’s three virtues in an age when vast technological advancement and relativistic attitudes toward human nature have deeply shaken our moral worldview. His incisive examination reveals that although these concepts are changing faster than ever before, they are — and will remain, with our stewardship — cornerstones of our society. The 92nd Street Y Series originates and is broadcast live from New York’s prestigious Jewish cultural center, the 92nd Street Y. The broadcasts are fed into the Wohl Chapel at Wise Center, equipped with a large screen and
digital video technology capable of state-of-the-art simulcasting. The final session in the Sunday Morning Series on Biblical Models of Leadership will take place on Sunday, May 8 from 10 – 11 a.m. This course looks at the different types of leadership embodied by a variety of biblical characters. This final class will look at Joshua, studying the biblical text and commentaries in order to analyze Joshua’s leadership style, method and efficacy. The class also explores what can be learned and taken from each biblical model so that we can each be more effective leaders in our own realms.
On Tuesdays, May 10, 17 and 24, from noon – 1 p.m. Cantor Deborrah Cannizzaro will be teaching a class on Jewish Music in America. Jewish music has been around for thousands of years, but the Jewish music of America is relatively young. Where did it come from? How did it develop? Is it only the music of the synagogue? These are some of the questions that will be asked and explored during this three-part class on Jewish Music in America. Join Cantor Cannizzaro as she traces the development of American Jewish music from its origins in 19th Century Yiddish
Theater to the contemporary music of today. Holidays We Don’t Celebrate: The Minor Festivals and Holidays of Judaism will be the topic for a Tuesday series taking place May 31 and June 7 from noon to 1 p.m. Have you ever heard of Tu B’Av, Hoshanah Rabbah, or Yom Kippur Katan? Don’t worry, most Jews in America haven’t either! Join Rabbi Michael Shulman as he explores these little known Jewish holidays and discover their history, customs and traditions. For more information about these and other classes at Wise Temple, contact the temple.
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Yom Hashoah commemoration honors Holocaust victims On Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m., The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education will host the annual community-wide Yom Hashoah commemoration at the Mayerson JCC. The commemoration remembers the 6 million innocent Jewish victims of the Holocaust and is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds. The commemoration will focus on the theme of “The World that Was,” the families, culture and way of life irrevocably destroyed by the Holocaust. Keynote speaker, Dr. Ann Weiss, will speak about her book, “The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau.” A rare collection of personal photographs brought by victims to the Nazi death camps, “The Last Album” is a unique testament to the vitality of their lives before destruction. These photos are the only known surviving collection from a whole transport.
This photo of David and Renia Kohn of Sosnowiecz, was one of over 2,400 photographs Dr. Weiss discovered at Auschwitz and sought to find the story behind.
Weiss, a child of survivors, discovered the photos by accident
during a group tour of Auschwitz in 1986. In contrast to the Holocaust images of dehumanized skeletal bodies, these photos give us an intimate and compelling record of who these people were, whom they loved and what mattered most. They are photos of life, not death, and these are the very photos they chose for their own remembering. Weiss has traveled the globe researching the stories behind the photos. Her journey has taken over 20 years, during which time she traveled first to Poland many times to secure permission, to copy the photos, and then internationally, trying to reunite photos with remaining family members. Whenever a story was matched to a face, an identity was restored. Each story amplifies a life, and each life penetrates the silence of the void. “Survivors have always told me how their loved one died, but I
Dr. Ann Weiss
would ask a new question, ‘How did they live?’” explained Weiss. “And even when no survivor remains to tell the story, it is the photos themselves, and the eyes, that reveal their own powerful
testimony.” Formally known as Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura, which translates into “Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Herosim,” the commemoration pays homage to the Jews who suffered, resisted and perished at the hands of injustice, bigotry, hate and indifference. While we mourn the loss of so many valuable lives, we celebrate the ongoing preservation of the Jewish history and culture as it was before the war, including the memory of those who were lost. While over 60 years have passed since the Holocaust, for many individuals, specifically the survivors and eyewitnesses of this horrific chapter in human history, it remains real and ever-present. This event is free and open to the public. For more information or questions, please contact The CHHE.
Dr. Zola to be member of govt preservation commission President Barack Obama has announced his intention to appoint Dr. Gary P. Zola, executive director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), to an administration post as member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.
The Commission is an independent agency of the Government of the United States of America. It is directed by law to fulfill two primary functions: to identify and report on cemeteries, monuments and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that are associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, and to obtain, in cooperation with the State Department, assurances from the
regional governments said places will be protected and preserved. Dr. Zola has previously served in leadership positions that have heightened the awareness of how American Jewish history illuminates the history of America. “The College-Institute is extremely proud that President Obama has elected to appoint our own Professor Gary Zola to membership
The Commission is an independent agency of the Government of the United States of America. on the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad,” noted Rabbi David Ellenson, president, HUC-JIR. “The selection of a faculty member to serve on such a Presidential Commission is unparalleled in the history of Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion, and reflects the outstanding reputation Dr. Zola has achieved as director of
the American Jewish Archives and as professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR. I have every confidence that Professor Zola will contribute significantly to the work of the Commission in preserving historical sites in Europe – including cemeteries ravaged by the Nazis during World War II – related to the interests of the American nation and its citizens.”
HUC to host SCRJ Institute, May 16-18 The Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion (HUCJIR) recently received a five-year grant from the Society for Classical Reform Judaism (SCRJ) and the Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Foundation for $500,000 that will support rabbinical students at the HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus and fund an annual SCRJ Institute. The Institute, which will take place from May 16-18 at HUC, will offer a variety of programs and presentations on various aspects of the Classical Reform tradition as resources for rabbinic students both in the formulation of their own religious life as well as their future service to diverse con-
gregations. These will include lectures and discussions by both rabbis from the Society and HUC faculty. A highlight will be presentations by students who participated in the SCRJ Inaugural Prize Essay program this year. “We are grateful to the Society for Classical Reform Judaism and the Ackerman Foundation for their generous commitment to sustaining HUC-JIR’s pluralism and openness to all views, which represents our strength as the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center for the Reform Movement,” said Rabbi Kenneth Ehrlich, dean of HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus.
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
Farmer, rabbi and maple syrup maker, Shmuel Simenowitz melds Torah and environmentalism By Sue Fishkoff Jewish Telegraphic Agency SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — It’s easy to spot Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz at a Jewish food conference, an environmentalist gathering or any of the other progressive-minded confabs he frequents. Just look for the Chasid in the room. Simenowitz is an anomaly: a haredi Orthodox Jew, black hat and all, who is equally at home — and equally uneasy — in a roomful of dreadlocked 20-something eco-hipsters as at a Chasidic celebration. He takes flak from the Orthodox for “wasting time” with the foodies and is chided by progressive activists for his commitment to ritual observance. “I see myself as a post-denominational Torah Jew with Chasidic sensibilities,” he tells JTA, with more than a trace of self-mockery. “I’m an equal-opportunity offender.” More seriously, he says, not only is there no contradiction between living a Torah-true life and reducing one’s carbon footprint, the two are intertwined. “I grow my own food, I grow organically, I am a good steward of the earth,” he says. “That’s Torah. I’m a Torah Jew, and my world values are seamlessly integrated into that.” Simenowitz, 53, is part of a small but growing group of strictly Orthodox Jews who are getting back to the land — farming organically, raising animals, living lightly on the earth and doing it in the name of Torah. Fifteen years ago he walked away from a successful career as an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer and moved from the New York suburb of Long Island to an organic farm in Vermont with his wife, Rivki, and two young children. They were becoming newly observant, and thought the big house and fancy cars wouldn’t help them “grow spiritually” or raise their children with the values they were beginning to hold dear. The couple planted vegetables, set up a chicken coop and began making maple syrup from the hundreds of maple trees in their 14acre sugar bush, calling their project Sweet Whisper Farm. Simenowitz used draft horses to plow the fields and carry the maple sap from the trees to his sugar shack, which is modeled on an 18th-century Polish wooden synagogue — one of hundreds destroyed by pogroms, Nazis and
Courtesy of Lloyd Wolf
Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz works his draft horses on his Vermont farm, circa 2002, with children Tova and Shlomo riding along.
years of Communist rule. Jewish student groups, observant and non-observant, would visit from the big city, and Simenowitz would introduce them to farm work while imparting a little Torah wisdom. “When I get the yeshiva guys up here, they know their Torah but they need to get their hands in the dirt,” he says. “And when I get the tree-hugging crowd, they say, ‘Wow, what a beautiful sunset,’ and I say, ‘That’s great, but we need to do some learning.’ We’re like spiritual dietitians, giving everybody what they’re missing, trying to bridge that gap.” Two years ago Simenowitz and his family moved to Baltimore, and they now live in an Orthodox neighborhood of families interested in getting back to the land. One neighbor keeps bees. Another spins her own wool. A third has an organic farm — just the kind of integration for which he and Rivki had been looking. But Simenowitz still travels to Vermont each spring to work his sugar bush. About a decade ago, after a disastrous maple harvest season, the sap finally started running on the eve of Passover, right before the first seder, and neighbors poured in from all over to help collect it as fast as they could. But as sundown approached, Simenowitz put down his bucket and said work had to stop. By the time he was permitted by Jewish law to continue work-
ing, all the sap had spoiled in the unseasonably hot sun — hundreds of gallons, nearly his entire crop. SIMENOWITZ on page 22
National Briefs Bibi, Zuckerberg, Giffords make Time’s list of most influential NEW YORK (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Zuckerberg and Gabrielle Giffords are among the Jewish members on the 2011 Time 100. The magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world came out Thursday. Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, leads a country that is successful economically and its citizens feel relatively safe, writes Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. But Haass adds that “Most of the world views Israel as the principal obstacle to Middle East peace” — a process that will decide his legacy and the future of the Jewish state. In writing about Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, the mayor of a Connecticut city, East Haven’s April Capone, writes of answering a call on the social networking site by a resident who needed a kidney transplant. Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who is rehabilitating after being shot in the head in January, is praised in the Time segment by President Obama for her “hard work and fair play, hope and resilience.” Obama says Giffords is “a model of civility and courage and unity — a needed voice that cannot return soon enough.” Among the leading Jews joining the trio on the list are Matthew Weiner, creator of “Mad Men”; virus hunter Nathan Wolfe; Larry Page, a co-founder of Google; producer Scott Rudin; and economist Joseph Stiglitz. Hollywood synagogue arson suspect faces felony charges SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A man suspected of setting a fire in a Southern California synagogue is facing 19 felony charges of burglary and arson. Dmitry Sheyko, 21, is in custody in Los Angeles, charged with the April 14 fire at Temple Israel of Hollywood, according to The Associated Press. He is charged as well with breaking into several homes near Beverly Hills. Sheyko, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held on $3 million bail. A hearing is set for May 2. Los Angeles Police Department detectives told The Los Angeles Times that they do not believe the synagogue break-in and fire were hate crimes.
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Giving a boost to Jewish life in the South By Dina Weinstein Jewish Telegraphic Agency JACKSON, Miss. (JTA) — As Allie Goldman’s plane was making its descent on the blazing 97degree Midland/Odessa airport in west Texas, the landscape dotted with oil dykes looked foreign to the Dallas native even though it was the same state. But Goldman’s work schedule for the weekend was familiar: Leading Sabbath eve services with the small youth group at Temple Beth El Midland, running an Israel education program with the religious school and holding a meeting with the congregation’s education board to discuss how to utilize its new full-time rabbi. “I’m sitting with 50 — and 60 — year-olds in this room, and for me, at 23 years old, it’s amazing,” Goldman told JTA. “I’m the expert because I’ve worked with many other congregations.” Goldman is one of nine fellows from the Institute for Southern Jewish Life trolling the South to provide professional Jewish educational resources to small Jewish communities that don’t have them. The two-year fellowship program started nine years ago to reach out to isolated Jewish communities in the American South. Without the Jewish population and knowledge base of larger urban areas, the communities often have religious
Courtesy of ISJL
Michelle Blumenthal, an education fellow with the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, leads a Chanukah exercise for preschool students at Cong. Etz Chaim in Bentonville, Ark., December 2010.
schools run by all-volunteer staffs, including parents with little or no formal educational training. The fellows, who work with communities on a standard curriculum of Jewish learning, split their time among 72 congregations and 59 schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The program works with adults and students at Conservative, Reform and Orthodox synagogues,
as well as unaffiliated. The fellows lead youth group events, children’s services, yoga Havdalah services and confirmation classes. The Institute for Southern Jewish Life also employs a circuit-riding rabbi for small congregations. Though about half of the nine fellows grew up in the South, they say working with small communities has been an eye-opening experience — in some cases, exposing them to Jewish cultural rarities like matzah ball gumbo. For Lauren Fredman, who grew up in the small Jewish community
of Salt Lake City, Utah, before moving to Denver, Colo., the small communities have a familiar feel. Among the things she’s done on the fellowship has been to design an adult education program for Temple Sinai in New Orleans, La. “People came up to me after and said, ‘I can’t believe I never knew this. I learned so much,’” Fredman said. In Jackson, where the Institute for Southern Jewish Life is located, the fellows also are involved in local Jewish and civic life. Many teach in the city’s synagogue and volunteer in an afterschool tutoring program. They attend the institute’s annual conference to train Southern volunteer religious educators, and they use each other for support and advice. Sarah Silverman of Houston, Texas, became a fellow because she always knew she wanted to be a teacher but believed she was too young and inexperienced coming out of college. The program hasn’t been all easy, she said. “I gave a d’var Torah on the power of sight and how seeing can make you feel a certain way,” Silverman said. “A blind congregant didn’t appreciate what I was saying. I still get upset when I talk about it. It was challenging to know I had upset someone.” But she turned it into a learning opportunity to better figure out how to give presentations.
Facing big cuts by Congress, Jewish groups aligned with Dems’ vision struggle for bipartisan appeal By Ron Kampeas Jewish Telegraphic Agency WASHINGTON (JTA) — In the showdown over the 2012 U.S. budget, Jewish organizations clearly fall on one particular side of the partisan divide: the Democratic one. But as the battle between Republicans and Democrats over spending gets under way, the trick the organizations are trying to pull off is appealing to both parties. For now, the organizations — which include groups whose boards boast major Republican givers — are strategizing on how best to protect medical subsidies they fear will be wiped out under Republican plans. The challenge is they’re warning that even if just some of the proposals touted by Rep. Paul Ryan (RWis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, make it into a final compromise budget, that would constitute a doomsday scenario. “We’re very concerned about whatever elements in the Medicare and Medicaid parts of the Ryan proposal make it into the discussions,” said Rachel Goldberg, the director of aging policy for B’nai
Courtesy of William Daroff
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla., third from left), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla., second from left) at a meeting in Broward County, Fla. to discuss federal social services programs with Holocaust survivors, April 21, 2011.
B’rith International, which runs the largest network of Jewish homes for the elderly in the United States. Medicare is the federal program providing health coverage for those 65 and older. Medicaid covers the poor. Such apprehensions have led 17 national Jewish groups and more than 100 local groups to make
their concerns clear in an unusually blunt letter to every Congress member that rejects the restructuring Ryan has proposed. “Within the current framework of Medicaid and Medicare, we believe that it is possible to restrain growth and rein in costs,” read the April 14 letter, initiated jointly by two Jewish umbrella groups,
Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “We are capable of strengthening their long-term viability without a fundamental restructuring that turns Medicaid into a block grant or Medicare into a voucher program.” The letter was notable in that its signatories came from every major religious stream — Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist — as well as an array of Jewish service groups. The major Jewish concerns with Ryan’s proposal have to do with his plan to deliver Medicaid in block grants — federal funds transferred to states for wide discretionary use — and with offering Medicare recipients an array of options through vouchers. Ryan says the voucher plan would strip away inefficiency by making Medicare providers competitive — “using competition to weed out inefficient providers, improve the quality of health care for seniors and drive costs down,” as he wrote in an April 15 Washington Post Op-Ed. GROUPS on page 22
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
Meet Bulgaria’s Alex Oscar, a non-Jewish Jewish community president By Ben Harris Jewish Telegraphic Agency
France mulling recognition of Palestinian state PARIS (JTA) — France is considering the recognition of a Palestinian state along with its European neighbors. “The recognition of a Palestinian state is an option that we are currently thinking about with our European partners,” Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United Nations told journalists April 22. French President Nicolas Sarkozy met April 21 with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss “initiatives” to push forward peace negotiations with Israel. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced in March that French recognition of a Palestinian state was a “hypothesis we must keep in mind.” Speaking to France 24 television on April 21, Abbas said “all the signs of these (European) organizations and states show that they are waiting for the right moment to recognize” a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to encourage Abbas not to seek unilateral recognition when they meet in Berlin on May 5. Merkel has come out recently against a United Nations resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. Australian man arrested in Israel for spying for Hamas SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian citizen was arrested by Israel and charged with spying for Hamas. Iaad Rashid Abu Arja, 46, a computer expert, was indicted in Petach Tikvah District Court last week, accused of being recruited by the banned Islamic organization. Israeli prosecutors allege that Arja, who holds dual Australian and Saudi citizenship, was asked to provide intelligence and surveillance information on key technology companies in Israel. He also holds a Jordanian passport. Hamas believes the Israeli companies are developing technology to intercept missiles fired from Gaza. The indictment, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, says that “The main purpose of the visit to Israel was to see how easily he gets in and out. He was asked as a computer man to meet local companies (involved in developing Israel’s anti-missile technology), to photograph them and to get maps with directions to these companies.”
SOFIA, Bulgaria (JTA) — Under a cloudless blue sky, in a square wedged between the National Assembly and the Rectorate of the University of Sofia, Alexander Oscar, the young president of Sofia’s Jewish community, issued a blunt message to his countrymen. The occasion was Bulgaria’s Holocaust remembrance ceremony (which was held on March 10), a day meant to celebrate the country’s heroic rescue of its 50,000 Jews during World War II, a feat unequalled in any Nazi-allied country and a rightful mark of pride here. But Oscar was determined not to let his fellow Bulgarians revel too much in their self-congratulation. He reminded them of the deportation of 11,000 Jews — most of whom perished — from Thrace and Macedonia, territories then administered from Sofia. He recalled the 1941 law that forced Jews to wear a yellow star and prohibited them from occupying public positions. And he noted that of the Jews deported from Sofia, all of the men were dispatched to labor camps. As one local put it, Bulgarian Jews were raped, but not killed. “We do not want to be radically changing the whole perspective,” Oscar said later. “Slowly, slowly we are doing it.” Gradual yet determined change may well be the perfect slogan for Oscar’s three-year tenure as community president. Just 32, he is among the youngest presidents of a major metropolitan European Jewish community, and he has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve outreach to the young and to enable Sofia to run more like Jewish collectives in the West. But Oscar holds another distinction he is less eager to mention: He is one of the only Jewish community presidents outside the former Soviet Union who is technically not Jewish, according to religious law. Born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother but raised as a Jew, Oscar cannot be called to the Torah in his own hometown. Among the changes Oscar is hoping to institute is one that would correct that anomaly. “The challenge today is how to bring Judaism more to the people of the community,” Oscar told JTA in an interview in Bulgaria’s capital city. “What I mean is, 99 percent of the members of the community are non-Orthodox; they are Liberal. Unfortunately, there is only one way of belonging
Courtesy of Ben Harris
Alexander Oscar, 32, the president of Sofia’s Jewish community, speaks at a ceremony marking Holocaust day in the Bulgarian capital, March 10, 2011.
to the synagogue, which is the Orthodox way. And now the challenge is how we make the community more pluralistic and open. “We have a bunch of people, let’s say 10-12 people, observing all the mitzvot. Let’s say they are Orthodox,” Oscar said. “The rest of the people, they are really searching for a meaningful Jewish way which is different from the traditional Orthodox way.” Across Europe, tensions have flared periodically between established Jewish religious communities, which tend to be Orthodox,
and the rank and file, who are overwhelmingly secular. In Germany, Reform Jews lobbied for years to win state funding that previously had been granted only to the Orthodox. In Barcelona, a legal challenge to remedy a similar situation is reportedly underway. But in Eastern Europe, where there’s little tradition of nonOrthodox Judaism, the idea of a Reform religious approach — known in Europe as Liberal or Progressive — exists largely as a Western import. This is doubly true in Bulgaria, which virtually alone
among European Jewish communities is Sephardic. “Some Central and Western European countries have 200 years of Progressive Jewish history to hang your hat on,” said one Jewish professional working in Europe who requested anonymity to preserve his working relationships in the region. “There’s nothing like that in Bulgaria. So there is more of that kind of unusual I-may-notbe-observant-but-my-observanceis-traditional-when-I-do-it.” Oscar believes many Bulgarians are hungry for just that sort of Western-style Reform Judaism, citing the recent visit of an American Reform rabbi who gave several well-attended lectures. But in pushing for such changes, Oscar has set himself on a collision course with the small part of the community that is religiously observant — and possibly with a far larger group that, while not personally Orthodox, may want the community to adhere to its traditions. “I cannot agree that we have to lower the standards just because most people are not observing the same level,” said a member of the Sofia synagogue board who asked not to be named. “My opinion is that we have to educate as many people as we can to teach them how to live as Jews.”
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Oral histories from 1948 tell firsthand stories of Israel’s founding By Dina Kraft Jewish Telegraphic Agency RAMAT GAN, Israel (JTA) — Ruth Farhi’s eyes cloud with tears and her gaze turns from the camera recording her story as she tells of a memorable January night in 1948 that haunts her to this day. She and a bunch of friends were crammed into her one-room rooftop apartment, sitting at the same upright piano with wooden inlay that sits just feet away from her now, singing and laughing late into the night. The revelry ended only when the 15 young men among them, all fighters in the Haganah, Israel’s pre-state militia, stood up and said their goodbyes. Not long afterward, Farhi learned that every one of them had been killed later that night along with 20 others. It was one of the bloodiest and most painful episodes in Israel’s War of Independence. They died in an ambush by Arab villagers as they attempted to deliver supplies to a group of besieged kibbutzim. The victims became known as the Lamed Hey fighters — Hebrew for 35. “I lived across the street from the Jewish Agency, and by the next morning the place was full of activity,” she recalled. “It was soon evident something terrible had happened.” Farhi shared her story as part of a project called Toldot Yisrael, which aims to record on video the stories of Israeli and Diaspora Jews who witnessed or were otherwise involved with the War of Independence. The goal is to create a video archive and interactive database for educators, researchers and filmmakers. Aryeh Halivni, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, modeled Toldot Yisrael after Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Project, which interviewed 52,000 Holocaust survivors on video. Since the Israeli project was launched in 2007, about 500 interviews have been conducted. Among those interviewed have been prisoners of war and foot soldiers who went on to become generals, Mossad agents and politicians. Halivni, 39, who Hebraicized his name from Eric Weisberg, told JTA he was driven in part by his own “vicarious interest of what I would have done at the time.” He’s also driven by a sense of urgency. According to Halivni, there are about 50,000 potential interviewees still alive — those who would have been 15 or older in 1948 and were living in the country at the time. But that number is dwindling by roughly 20 percent a year as Israel’s founding generation dies off. Add to that the growing attacks
Courtesy of Dina Kraft
Ruth Farhi, who was a student in Jerusalem in 1948, sits in her Ramat Gan home for an interview with cameraman Peleg Levy of Toldot Yisrael, which is documenting personal recollections of Israel’s War of Independence.
on Israel’s legitimacy, and a project like Toldot Yisrael is critically important right now, Halivni says. “The material in this archive serves as an important reminder of the Jewish people’s legitimate right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, particularly at a time when that right has been called into question,” reads the project’s website. “These testimonies reinforce the positive role that Israel plays in contemporary Jewish identity and instill a renewed sense of pride and purpose in Jews throughout the world.” Halivni adds: “This is also about being able to at least have on record stories of people who were part of it while we still can.” To cultivate the interest of American Jews, particularly young people, in Israel’s founding story, Toldot Yisrael has begun a pilot program in several American Jewish communities to develop educational curricula based on the footage, including short films, teacher training and discussion guides. The project is partnering with the I Center, a new organization founded to develop Israel educational material. The first film the collaboration has produced, a 10-minute short about the Jewish men who illegally blew shofars at the Western Wall on Yom Kippur in defiance of what was then British Mandate Law, has been viewed 200,000 times on YouTube. Their newest film will come out in time for Israel’s Independence Day, which this year falls on May 10. The film describes the role of Jewish volunteers from the West who contributed to the country’s founding, including those who volunteered as sailors to help smuggle Holocaust survivors into the country by sea. It features interviews with figures like Vidal Sassoon, who fought in the Palmach militia before making his fortune in the
hair care industry, and Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University who was part of a factory in upstate New York that made bullets for Haganah soldiers. “Part of what our message is that for Americans or people from the West, this is our story too — either as volunteers who came over or people involved from the United States and elsewhere who helped make things happen,” Halivni said. In the five years the project has been conducting interviews, the nature of the interviews themselves has evolved. Rather than focusing just on the events surrounding 1948, now the personal stories of where subjects came from are delved into, often deeply. “When we talk about aliyah or life in Europe, they are full of stories and their families’ stories,” said Peleg Levy, the project’s main cameraman. “Zionism comes from regular life stories.” In her interview, Farhi describes being a 7-year-old girl in Vienna in 1934 and saying goodbye with her older brother to the walls and doors of their apartment as the family prepared for its journey to what was then pre-state Palestine. “Coming by boat to the country had been the biggest drama of my life to date,” said Farhi, who would go on to become a stage and film actress in Israel. She still recoils at the memory of arriving at the port in Jaffa and encountering the Arab dock workers who transported passengers to shore on rowboats and were notoriously rough with baggage. Some suitcases ended up tossed into the water. “Suddenly, it seemed to me a monster came who grabbed a suitcase in one arm and me under the other, throwing me onto a little boat,” she remembered. STORIES on page 19
Israel Briefs Israeli man killed during visit to Joseph’s Tomb JERUSALEM (JTA) — The nephew of an Israeli government minister was killed and at least four men were injured during a visit to Joseph’s Tomb near the West Bank city of Nablus. Ben-Joseph Livnat, 25, a father of four from Jerusalem and the nephew of Science and Culture Minister Limor Livnat of the ruling Likud Party, was among a group of 15 Breslov Chasidim who arrived early Sunday morning in three cars to worship at the site, which is holy to Jews and is located in West Bank territory under Palestinian control. The worshipers did not coordinate their visit with the Israeli army and tried to break through a Palestinian checkpoint, according to a joint investigation of the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority. A Palestinian security guard reportedly fired on one of the cars as it was leaving the site, saying the men’s activities looked “suspicious.” Worshipers in the other cars told Ynet that the Palestinian police officers shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “G-d is great,” as they shot at the vehicles leaving the site. A senior Israel Defense Forces official termed the incident “a serious mishap caused by both sides,” Haaretz reported. The army is refraining from referring to the shooting as a terror attack but has called it an unjustified attack against civilians. Rioting occurred in Nablus following the shooting, according to reports, and the tomb also reportedly was set on fire by Palestinian youths. The tomb was renovated recently after being badly damaged and desecrated during the second Palestinian intifada. The minister Livnat said in a statement that her nephew had wanted to pray at the tomb in honor of the Passover holiday and that he “was killed in cold blood in an abominable way.” Thousands attended BenJoseph Livnat’s funeral on Sunday morning. The Israeli army coordinates monthly prayer visits to the tomb, believed to be the burial site of the biblical patriarch Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Members of the Breslov sect frequently sneak in to the tomb to pray without coordinating their visits, according to reports. Gaza rocket hits U.N. building JERUSALEM (JTA) — A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a United Nations compound,
injuring three. The rocket fired April 22 was intended to hit southern Israel but landed near the Karni border crossing and hit the U.N. building. Initial reports said the injured were U.N. relief workers. Egypt questions Mubarak on gas deal with Israel JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egyptian judicial authorities have extended deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s detention to question him regarding a natural gas deal with Egypt. Egypt lost more than $714 million in the deal, Egypt’s prosecutor said in a statement, The New York Times reported. The extension of Mubarak’s remand, announced April 22, came as former Egyptian oil minister Samih Fahmy and five other top officials were arrested and imprisoned prior to the start of an investigation into the deal. Egypt supplies more than 40 percent of the gas that Israel needs to provide the country with electricity. Candidates to replace Mubarak have said they plan to renegotiate the contract with Israel. Egypt’s new foreign minister said earlier this month that Egypt will demand a retroactive payment of the difference between the reduced prices it received and market value on the natural gas it purchased under Mubarak. The pipeline between Egypt and Israel opened in 2008. Selling gas to Israel was unpopular on the Egyptian street since the opening of the pipeline. The supply of Egyptian gas to Israel has not returned to full levels since terrorists in the Sinai tried to blow up the pipeline in February during the uprisings against Mubarak in Egypt. Mimouna festival stresses ‘Love the convert’ JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two million Israelis are expected to take part in the traditional North African Mimouna festival, which this year features the theme “Love the convert.” The festival, which is held at the end of Passover, will take place Monday evening. It celebrates fraternity, abundance and good luck. The World Federation of Moroccan Jewry announced the theme in the wake of the controversial proposed conversion bill and the shadows of doubt cast over Israeli army conversions. “We will be stressing the divine commandment, which appears in the Bible 45 times in different variations, to love, draw near, help and embrace the convert who wishes to join our people,” federation Chairman Sam Ben-Chetrit said in a statement. “This stands in contrast to the fact that only once are we commanded to love G-d. This shows the importance of the command for G-d’s sake.”
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
A N N O U N C E M E N TS ENGAGEMENT oy and Tom Nadler of Cincinnati announce the engagement of their daughter, Stephanie Ann, to Andrew Martin Finn, son of Joan and Michael Finn of Marblehead, Mass. Stephanie is the granddaughter of Josephine and the late Stanford Stillpass and Marjorie and Melvin Nadler, all of Cincinnati. Andrew is the grandson of Carolyn and Harris Goldman of Swampscott, and the late Alice and Harry Finn of Chestnut Hill, Mass. Stephanie attended the Cincinnati Country Day School and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a major in public policy studies. She received her Juris Doctor from Emory
ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE FREE!
BIRTHS • BAT/BAR MITZVAHS ENGAGEMENTS • WEDDINGS BIRTHDAYS • ANNIVERSARIES Stephanie Nadler and Andrew Finn
Law School and is employed by PAE in Alexandria, Va. Andrew attended the Pingree School in Hamilton, Mass. and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a double major
in computer science and mathematics. He works at Solers, a company in Arlington, Va. Currently they both reside in Arlington, Va. and are planning a July wedding.
Place your FREE announcement in The American Israelite Newspaper and Website by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
CINCINNATI JEWISH LIFE
ACCESS hosts the biggest and most popular social events for young professionals 21-35 in the Jewish community four to five times a month throughout the year. Most programs are deeply subsidized, or often free. Some past programs have included the Cin City Casino Party, Staycation Beach Bash, DIVE a private event at the Newport Aquarium, The White Party: All White All Night, Art Attack, Rollin’ on the River, The Whole Megillah: Purim Bash, the Break Fast Blowout, Wild Wild Mid West, Latkapalooza and many more. In addition, Access also runs a host of other signature programs throughout the year including No Boyz Allowed, for Jewish women, HeBrew Happy Hour, JSPN (Jewish Sports Network), JCafe, ACT Out, No Ma’am, for Jewish guys, JGourmet, Simply Shabbat and others. Access also offers a Newcomer’s gift packed with information and resources to help any young professional, new to town, or just new to Access, get acquainted with life in Cincinnati and the Jewish community. To find out more about Access, consult the Community Directory in the back of this issue. Below are photos from some past Access events.
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HeBREW Happy Hour at The Pig & Whistle
Jewish young professionals wound down their work week with free appetizers and teamed up for a night of trivia. One lucky group went home with Graeter’s Ice Cream coupons!
ACTout: Crayons to Computers
ACTout is a partnership between Access and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati which combines social events with social action projects perfect for those who want to give back to their community. Here, participants organized school supplies at Crayons to Computers for children in need in the Cincinnati Public School system.
At Access’ JSPN (Jewish Sports Network) Bowl-n-Brew event, participants let the good time roll and enjoyed two free games of bowling, pitchers of beer and hot wings!
JGourmet: Festival of Bites
Access’ JGourmet cooking classes take place at A Forkable Feast in Oakley where participants cook and eat their way through mouth-watering recipes while socializing with other young Jewish professionals! Here participants learned to make gourmet latkes just in time for Hanukkah.
At this annual event, sponsored by the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division and Access, Jewish young professionals get to mix and mingle without the jingle on Christmas night, the perfect way to meet others just like themselves and catch up with friends who are home for the holidays.
CINCINNATI JEWISH LIFE
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
YP 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament
YPS AT THE JCC is a partnership
YPs at the JCC held a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament complete with cash prizes, a DJ and dinner for all players and fans.
It was an “old school” game of fast-paced Dodgeball fun when YPs came out for Wednesday Night Rewind.
At the Krav Maga workout class, YPs learned Israeli Martial Arts and afterward, enjoyed a Mediterranean-themed lunch buffet.
“Pump”kin It Up
Workout & Wind Down: Who Dey Sunday
YPs at the JCC got together for Knock Out, a popular group exercise class and joined up afterward for a Pumpkin Pie Tasting.
YPs at the JCC joined up for the popular group exercise class, S.M.A.C.K., which combines strength, muscle and cardio kickboxing techniques. Afterward, the group enjoyed the much anticipated rematch of the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins on two big screen projectors in the JCC Board Room.
between Access for Jewish young professionals and the Mayerson JCC. This program offers weekly events, such as Workout and Wind Down (the perfect way to exercise and socialize), Wednesday Night Rewind: Like Recess for Big Kids (dodgeball, soccer, kickball, and other old school games you used to love to play at recess), and Weekend Wake Up (team sports like flag football, ultimate frisbee and more). Special group exercise programs have also been created to appeal to this demographic, including Krav Maga, Knockout, SMACK, Soul Spinning and more. Since this past September, when the JCC began to focus on this cohort, hundreds have participated in these and other programs, helping to make the Mayerson JCC the “home address” for Jewish young professionals in Cincinnati. To find out more about YPs at the JCC, consult the Community Directory in the back of this issue. Below are photos from some past YPs at the JCC events.
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MEI – Dine on gifts from the sea By Marilyn Gale Dining Editor The second time I went to MEI, I had come prepared, done my homework, and with the help of Wikepedia and the local public library, learned about the basics of Japanese food. I was now familiar with the bento boxes, those cute looking jewelry box plates; each compartment holding an exotic food. Soba noodles made from buckwheat flour were no longer foreign to me as I had purchased and eaten them in lieu of pasta. I also knew about the joys of hot Sake, the dry wine combination that warms the stomach and probably the soul and possesses a taste as subtle and creeping as a sharp brandy. I could also appreciate the purity of MEI’s sushi. It did not have the cream cheese and strangely Americanized sauces my mother would call chazzerai — that have been finding their way into wine bars and restaurants. MEI proudly proclaims itself as authentic Japanese and my second visit to this stylish restaurant, located in the Marketplace in Montgomery, confirmed the fine details that I hadn’t known during my earlier visit. I had been invited at dinner time. I’m sure the lovely hostess Jun Chen intended for me to experience the calm ambience that is part of the Japanese dining experience. The bright oak dining room adds to the serenity of the atmosphere. We sat at the sushi bar. A warm cloth was presented to me before the food was served, which I found to be a respectful way to cleanse my hands. I dined on stewed vegetables simmering in a light broth, enough to keep the vegetables warm, yet still firm. I ate foods I had never tasted before. Yam jelly, Japanese pumpkin, lotus root, and yam potato graced my palate. Following the stewed vegetables, Chen and I shared green tea Japanese noodles. It was a cold dish, soothing in color as the noodles were a mint green, dotted with slivers of dark emerald seaweed. Using chopsticks, we dipped the noodles into a light fish broth—bits of green onion and wasabi paste can be added to the liquid depending on the indi-
(Clockwise) Friendly Jun Chen, co-owner with her husband, manages MEI’s; Tatami rooms increase the intimacy of dining; Bento boxes are a colorful entree presentation; Stewed vegetables are a tasty healthy appetizer; Gifts from the sea await you.
vidual’s taste. Another difference in this ethnic restaurant is diners will not find themselves faced with the temptation of stuffing themselves with baskets of bread that are traditionally put on the table in other eating places. Nor will crispy noodles be staring at you, almost begging to be crunched upon or added to a soup. People who prefer a low carb diet would be able to easily feast upon the gifts of sea. Established in 2000, MEI is fine dining, specializing in traditional Japanese cuisine. Japanese favorites include sushi, tempura and udon, a thick wheat flour noodle. Now, with the recent opening of a brand new hibachi room, diners can choose from four eating styles: sushi bar, regular table,
tatami or experience meat prepared on the grill with an artistic flare. Tatami is a type of floor mat made of rice straw and originally a luxury item for the nobility. At MEI, small secluded tatami areas are available for more intimate, private dining. Truly authentic, one must remove one’s shoes before entering the tatami section of the restaurant. Han Lin, husband of Chen, is the sushi and sashimi chef. Sashimi is very fresh raw seafood, sliced into thin pieces, and served with a dipping sauce, usually soy sauce with wasabi paste and grated fresh ginger. I watched Lin effortlessly prepare an assortment of brilliantly colored fish. As I watched his fingers twirl, knife easily puncturing the flesh of the seafood, I recalled
reading an essay written by Ruth Reichel, an American food writer, and currently co-producer of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie. In her popular book, “Garlic and Sapphires,” she describes entering a little known sushi restaurant in Manhattan and tasting fish prepared by a master sushi chef. Her depiction of the exquisite flavor and texture brought images of edible jewels from the sea to my mind’s eye. Seeing Lin skillfully slice, shape and slide these morsels onto a plate to be served to a lucky diner reminded me of Reichel’s mesmerizing narrative. At MEI, prices are reasonable. Chen promises food to be fresh. As much as possible, vegetables are grown in her garden, although the burdock root is flown in from
Chicago. For the adventuresome foodie, Chen suggests trying grilled sliced duck with salt or Gingko nuts inside egg custard appetizers with chicken and mushrooms. The House green salad has homemade sesame dressing and an assortment of Japanese pickles. Don’t forget to partake in the Sake sampler, a rice based alcoholic beverage from different regions in Japan. Give yourself and your family a brief vacation. Take your taste buds to the Far East and dine on exotic vegetables, fresh seafood and fragrant spices.
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Stone Creek Dining Co. 9386 Montgomery Rd Montgomery 489-1444
Kanak India Restaurant 10040B Montgomery Rd Montgomery 793-6800
Sugar n’ Spice 4381 Reading Rd Cincinnati 242-3521
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Black Like Us The Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762–1839) probably never saw a black person. There weren’t likely very many in 19th century central Europe. But he certainly knew they existed. After all, they are mentioned in a verse, the one that opens the haftarah of the Torah portion Kedoshim, which will be read this year on the first Shabbat after Pesach. There, Kushites — Kush is generally identified as a kingdom in central Africa — are a simile for the Jewish People. “Behold, you are like the children of Kush to Me,” the prophet Amos (9:7) quotes the Creator addressing His nation. “Just as a Kushite differs [from others] in [the color of] his skin,” comments the Talmud (Moed Katan, 16b), “so are the Jewish people different in their actions.” One might assume that the intention of that explanation is simply that, while most people often act thoughtlessly or selfishly, Jews, if they live as they should, do otherwise, planning their every action, concerned about their obligations to the Creator, and to others. But the Chasam Sofer’s interpretation of the Talmudic comment (he apparently had “the righteous” in place of “the Jewish people”) goes in a different direction, and makes a point as fundamental as it is timely. His words: “It is well known that every Jew is required to observe all the mitzvos. But there is no single path for them all. One Jew may excel in Torah-study, another in avodah (service, or prayer), another in kindnesses to others; this one in a particular mitzvah, that one in another. Nevertheless, while they all differ from each other in their actions, they all have the same intention, to serve G-d with their entire hearts. “Behold the Kushite. Inside, his organs, his blood and his appearance are all the same as other people’s. Only in the superficiality of his skin is he different from others. This is the meaning of ‘[different] in his skin,’ [meaning] only in his skin. Likewise, the righteous are different [from one another] only ‘in their actions’; their inner conviction and inten-
tion, though, are [the same,] aimed at serving G-d in a good way.” There are two messages to glean here. One — which wasn’t intended by the Chasam Sofer as a message at all, but as a truism — is that people of different colors are only superficially different from one another. What lies beneath our shells are the same veins, sinews and organs, no matter our shades. The Chasam Sofer’s novel message, though, is that there are different ways, no one of them any less essentially worthy than any other, of serving G-d. All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that we, or our children, must follow a particular trajectory and land in a particular place in life. But when the rabbis of the Talmud teach that “just as people’s faces all differ one from the other, so do their minds,” they are informing us otherwise, that there are different, equally meritorious, trajectories, different, equally praiseworthy, landing places for different people. It’s not just that people are dissimilar and will choose a variety of vocations, excel in a variety of fields, and establish individual priorities. It’s that in all our diversity of vocations, fields and priorities, we can be entirely equal servants of the Divine. Consider Rabbi Broka, who, the Talmud recounts (Ta’anit 22a), was often accompanied by Elijah the Prophet, and once asked him whether in a certain marketplace there were any people who merited the World-to-Come. The individuals Elijah pointed to turned out to be a prison guard who made special efforts to preserve prisoners’ moral integrity and who interceded with the government on behalf of his fellow Jews; and a pair of comedians, who used their humor to cheer up the depressed and defuse disputes. One wonders if the parents of those meritorious men felt disappointed at their sons’ choices of professions. Or whether they realized that there are, in the end, many paths that can lead to the World-to-Come. (Rabbi Shafran is an editor at large and columnist for Ami Magazine. This column is reproduced with permission from Ami Magazine.)
C O R R E C T I O N: In last week’s article, N. KY hosts 16th annual Yom Hashoah observance, Werner Coppel’s name was misspelled. We apologize for the error.
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Dear Editor, AJC has filed a brief urging an appellate court to compel the State of Indiana to comply with federal law and serve kosher meals to Jewish prison inmates who request them. Now the Indiana Department of Corrections offers vegetarian and halal meals (permissible in Islamic law), but has refused to provide kosher meals on the premise they are too costly. Dan Elbaum, director of AJC Chicago, notes, “Providing Orthodox Jewish prisoners with
non-kosher food is insulting, and substantially burdens the rights of inmates in Indiana’s prison system.” The suit of Maston Willis v. Commission, Indiana Department of Corrections supports an Orthodox Jewish inmate who has been denied kosher food. A lower federal court held that Indiana had not justified the failure to provide kosher food. It noted that the state’s own expert agreed the alternative diet it offered was not kosher and that the state had not made a serious effort to find cheap kosher food. The landmark
federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act compels states to accommodate reasonable religious requests from prison inmates. AJC, founded in 1906, is one of America’s foremost defenders of religious liberty. Joining in the AJC amicus brief, prepared by the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, were the Indianapolis JCRC and ADL. Sincerely, Barbara Glueck Director, American Jewish Committee Cincinnati Region
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T EST Y OUR T ORAH KNOWLEDGE THIS WEEK’S PORTION: VAYIRKA: KEDOSHIM PEREKIM 19-20 1. What type of measures are mentioned? A. Size of Kiddush cup B. Measurements of volume, weight, length C. Size of a Mikveh (ritual bath) 2. What sin is forbidden in the heart? A. Hatred of a fellow Jew B. Telling a lie C. Stealing 3. Is there a prohibition against superstitions? A. Yes 3. A. 19:26. For example certain times are opportune to start a venture. 4. B. Specifically not to oppress with unkind words 5. C. Molech was a type of worship that one’s children went between a fire. Molech may not have been idol worship but a method used to frighten people by threatening to kill their children if they did not participate. R’Bhai
Rabbi Avi Shafran Contributing Columnist
B. No 4. Chapter 19, verse 33 warns us not to oppress whom? A. Widow B. Convert C. Orphan 5. In Chapter 20:2-5 it mentions giving your descendant to Molech, What is Molech? A. 15 year sentence to the Czar’s army B. Be married to one’s job C. A type of idol worship ANSWERS 1. B. 19:35,36. A dishonest merchant is held accountable like a dishonest judge. Rashi. Even the froth on top of a liquid must be taken into account. R’Bchai 2. A. 19:17. The prohibition is to keep the hatred in the heart. If a person verbalizes his grievance then he does not violate this commandment.
Written by Rabbi Dov Aaron Wise
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
Sedra of the Week By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin
SHABBAT SHALOM: PARSHAT KEDOSHIM • LEVITICUS: 19:1-20:27
Efrat, Israel — “You shall be holy because I, the Lord your G-d, am holy” (Leviticus 19:1). Often the Hebrew words relating to fundamental theological concepts are the most difficult to define and translate, and therefore to understand and apply. The Hebrew words tefila (usually translated as prayer), teshuva (return, repentance) and kadosh (holy) are good examples. Kedoshim opens with the general commandment “You shall be holy” — linking the quality of holiness to G-d who, according to Leviticus 19:1 is “ontologically” holy. Rudolf Otto, in his groundbreaking study “The Idea of the Holy,” links holiness to the mystical, the transcendental, the “numinous.” The sages of the Midrash, taking their cue from the first time the word appears in the Bible – “And the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:3) — contrast holiness with blessing: Blessing is expressed in material gifts, whereas holiness is expressed in our ability to rise above the physical and cleave to divine eternity. Shabbat contains an amalgam of both, consisting of the blessings brought by the wine and special foods with the sanctity wrought by Shabbat songs of praise and Torah study. Thus, we can understand why Rashi defines the positive command “to be holy” as referring to separating oneself from sexual immorality and why the Ramban (Nahmanides) defines our commandment as meaning even permitted activities should not be taken to excess, such as eating and drinking inebriating beverages. I would like to go one step farther. In next week’s reading, G-d commands us; “…I shall be sanctified (nikdashti, made holy) in the midst of the children of Israel…” (Leviticus 22:32). Rashi cites the Midrash Torat Kohanim (22, 137): “Give yourself over and sanctify My Name… even to the extent of giving up your life.” Through its dual use of the word kadosh the Torah is associating the requirement to control one’s physical desires and the need to be willing to give up one’s very life for the sake of religious values. What is the connection? When the Torah describes the creation of the human being in the image of G-d (Gen. 1:26), it is
Shabbat contains an amalgam of both, consisting of the blessings brought by the wine and special foods with the sanctity wrought by Shabbat songs of praise and Torah study. explaining that the human being will be a composite, part-beast, part-divine. The material aspect of the human being is legitimate, blessed, and capable of sanctification. It is the spiritual element, however, which can help us connect ourselves to the divine and achieve eternity. Divinely given mitzvot, commandments, help us refine and ennoble the physical aspects of our being. Ultimately, however, the physical body decomposes and merges with the eternal soil. According to Maimonides, it is the soul — the divine within each of us — which enables us to cleave to G-d and live beyond our physical lives. Hence if an individual lives a holy life, spending his sojourn on this earth developing his soul-link to G-d, his passing from the physical body to the eternal world of souls will be seamless — a movement from life to life. This is the connection between the commandment to be holy in this world and the requirement to give up our physical life for an eternal ideal where necessary. From the backdrop of this idea, a most difficult story (Tractate Semahot, chapter 8) recorded about Rabbi Akiva will become clear. “When Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Akiva’s son, became ill, Rabbi Akiva continued to teach Torah in his academy. He kept sending
messengers to check on his son’s condition. The first returned, and reported that R. Shimon’s condition was grave. Rabbi Akiva told his students to continue asking him Talmudic questions. The second messenger said the condition was critical. Rabbi Akiva continued the Torah dialogue. The third messenger said the youth was in his death throes. Rabbi Akiva told his students to keep asking. When the fourth messenger said, “Rabbi Shimon is at peace, he has passed from this world,” Rabbi Akiva removed his phylacteries, tore his clothing, and told his disciples: “Come. We are now obligated to leave the House of Study and tend to the dead.” Rabbi Akiva was a very feeling, sensitive husband and father; he was hardly callous to the condition of his son. He knew his child was going to the eternal world of G-d; and he felt the best way to establish real and eternal contact with him and for him would be by intensifying his relationship to Gd’s words and G-d’s will. Rabbi Akiva was trying to be his son’s bridge between worlds. Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameah Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Chancellor Ohr Torah Stone Chief Rabbi - Efrat Israel
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JEWZ IN THE NEWZ
Jewz in the Newz By Nate Bloom Contributing Columnist RIVERS DOES ROYALTY Last year, JOAN RIVERS was the subject of a well-made biographical documentary, “A Piece of Work.” It had one big flaw — it was barely funny — too few offstage witty remarks by Joan and too little of her stage show. Rivers, 77, is at her best when she has a focused target for her acerbic humor — and so I’m looking forward to the special Royal Wedding edition of her “E!” cable show, “The Fashion Police.” (Airs 10 p.m. Friday, April 29; many encore showings). Kathy Griffin, who says Rivers is her role model, will offer her vinegar-laced comedic take on the nuptials on the TV Guide Channel at 8 p.m. the same night. I expect these two women will provide the only “reality check” on the “royal fairy tale” mishegoss on the other stations. It’s worth recalling that Princesses Margaret and Anne, and Princes Charles and Andrew all had “fairy tale marriages” that ended in divorce. A SWEET TEEN MOVIE Opening Friday, April 29, is “Prom,” from Walt Disney Studios. It’s similar in plot structure to some other recent romantic comedies (“Valentine’s Day”; “He’s Just Not that Into You”) in that it focuses on how a number of incipient romantic couples get together — rather than on just one romance. As you may expect, it’s about all the excitement of an upcoming high school prom. The director is JOE NUSSBAUM, 38, who specializes in “non-raunchy” teen movies (“Sydney White”). I know Nussbaum a bit and I’m happy to tell you that he’s a practicing Jew who keeps kosher. The cast of “Prom” is made up of relative newcomers. It includes JARED KUNITZ, 20, as “Justin” and JONATHAN KELTZ as “Brandon.” Keltz is probably the best known cast member. Last year, he joined HBO’s “Entourage,” playing the new assistant to star character Ari Gold (JEREMY PIVEN). TV LAND AWARDS 2011 Sorry I didn’t clue you into this earlier — but you still have a chance to see the TVLand (cable channel) Awards, which were on the station earlier this month. Through May 17, you can watch the whole show on the TVLand website. This year, TVLand honored the casts of four classic hit sitcoms: “The Cosby Show,” “The Facts of Life,” “Family Ties” and “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Appearing onstage were Jewish
cast members GABE KAPLAN, 66, and MARCIA STRASSMAN, 63 (“Kotter”); CHARLOTTE RAE, 84, and MINDY COHN, 44, (“Facts”); and TRACY POLLAN, 50, (“Ties”). Pollan was accompanied by Michael J. Fox, her “Ties” co-star and real-life husband. Strassman, who played Kaplan’s wife on “Kotter,” and recently survived breast cancer, looked the best of any honoree over age 50. (Good for her!) KIRK AND MICHAEL DOUGLAS NEWS KIRK DOUGLAS, 94, will attend the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival this July and will be presented with the Festival’s “Freedom of Expression” award. The award cites Douglas’ decision, as the star and producer of the 1960 film, “Spartacus,” to give screen credit to Dalton Trumbo, the film’s writer. Trumbo, who was blacklisted around 1950 for his former Communist Party ties, continued to write some films under phony names. When Douglas gave him open credit, it was a major blow at the blacklist and the list ended within a few years. In May, MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 66, will headline a benefit for the SIR MORTIMER DAVIS Jewish Hospital in Montreal. Douglas, who owns a vacation home near Montreal, consulted Jewish Hospital physicians last year about his throat trouble. Other doctors had given him a clean bill of health a few weeks earlier, but the Jewish Hospital doctors found a tumor and began immediate treatment for throat cancer. After months of treatment, Douglas now looks healthy and he announced in January that the doctors told him that the tumor had disappeared. Davis (1866-1928) was the first Canadian-born Jew to be knighted. His enormous list of Jewish philanthropies included co-founding the hospital that now bears his name. It was re-named after him when, 50 years after his death, his last descendant died and per his will the remainder of his estate ($50 million) went to the hospital. His San Francisco born first wife, HENRIETTA MEYER (18721963), aka Lady Davis, invested her divorce settlement money so well that she was able to fund Jewish Hospital’s research institute (named after her). She also helped thousands of Jews flee from Europe during WWII; provided funds to re-settle refugee scientists in Canada; and provided funds that have allowed thousands of scientists to study at the Technion Institute in Haifa.
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FROM THE PAGES 100 Years Ago Mr. Henry Meis, of 780 Ridgeway Avenue, Avondale, who is just recovering from an attack of the grippe, will sail from New York on the Mauretania, May 3, and expects to be back home by October 1. He takes this means of saying goodbye to all his friends. Miss Dora Pappenheimer, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Leopold Pappenheimer, was buried at the United Jewish Cemetery, Friday afternoon. Miss Pappenheimer died at Berlin, Germany, March 30. The funeral was largely attended and was conducted by Dr. Grossmann. Harry N. Levy, one of Cincinnati’s
wealthy citizens, says The “Enquirer” aided the Catherine Booth Home for Girls, on Windsor, near Gilbert Avenue, Walnut Hills, to purchase a 40-foot lot on the East of that institution, where an addition will be built shortly. The donation was made under unusual circumstances. One of the lassies recently called at Mr. Levy’s office, in the Traction Building, and asked for a subscription for the maintenance of the home, stating that the institution was caring for unfortunate girls who had been driven to it as a result of the white slave agitation. Mr. Levy saw the list and found donations of
50 cents and $1 dollar in the majority. “That is no way to raise money for an institution like that!” he declared. Levy asked for references and was given the name of United States Marshall Eugene M. Lewis. He conferred with him and then sent a professional nurse to make an investigation, which verified the claims of the lassie. Levy then donated $1,000, with the stipulation that Mr. Lewis was to raise $1,500, the total to go to the purchase of the ground. The money was collected this week and yesterday the lot became the property of the institution. — April 27, 1911
75 Years Ago Morris Fogel, pupil of M. Rubin S. Phillips, was awarded the gold medal, the first prize for violin, Class A, in the Music Contest sponsored by The Cincinnati Post. He was accompanied at the piano by his sister, Sara. Morris is the son of Dr. and Mrs. E. I. Fogel. The Cincinnati Bureau of Jewish Education trustees, meeting Sunday, April 26th, re-elected Robert M. Senior, president: Morton J. Heldman, first vice president;
Nathan Ransohoff, second vice president; William Hirschfeld, treasurer; Dr. M. S. Schulzsinger, secretary. Mr. and Mrs. Oscherwitz, 3825 Winding Way, Avondale, will be at home to relatives and friends Sunday evening, May 3rd, in honor of the Bar Mitzvah, for their son, Stanley. Messrs. Walter J. Behr and Gordon L. Block, students at Oberlin College, are in the state
Delegation for the mock G.O.P. convention, on the campus FridaySaturday, May 8-9th, the 19th quadrennial mock convention at this school. Mr. Behr is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Julian J, Behr. Mr. Block is a son of Mrs. Gordon L. Block. The Misses Marian Rubin, Maxine Crigger and Elaine Nelson, of Phi Sigma Sigma, are in a Junior class show to be held soon at the University of Cincinnati. — April 30, 1936
50 Years Ago Oscherwitz & Sons, kosher meat packers, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. The Cincinnati company was established in 1886 by Isaac Oscherwitz. The second generation, represented by Max and the late Sam and Israelite Oscherwitz, carried on the family tradition. Today the third generation — Bernard, Milton and Millard Oscherwitz — maintain the family tradition. Bernard Oscherwitz commented that there have been more changes in the meat packaging business in the
past five years than in the preceding 70 years. The Cincinnati chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering will install the following officers May 3: Robert T. Howe, president; Robert Grayman, president; William T. Zachman, secretary; Robert C. Binning, treasurer. Hillel Adult Advisory Board will install the following at its annual meeting Tuesday, May 2, at 8:15 p.m. at Hillel House: Mrs. Martin M. Cohn, president; Colman Hanash, Leonard Kirschner, Mrs. Louis Shapiro, vice presidents;
Miss Janet Marks, honorary vice president; Marvin L. Levy, recording secretary; Mrs. Leon Bass, corresponding secretary; Charles Weiner, financial secretary; Mrs. Bernard Kluber, assistant financial secretary; Mrs. David L. Kaplan, treasurer. Board members-at-large 1961-63: Val Friedman, Mrs. Sidney Korey, Sylvan Reisenfeld, Bernard L. Rosenberg, Mrs. Nathan Spector. 1961-62: Mrs. Naham C. Cons., Mrs. Baron H. Gold, Alfred L. Heldman, Jr., Marvin Rosenberg, Lee Schimberg, Arnold Berman, Mrs. Abe Munich. — April 27, 1961
25 Years Ago A new inground pool is presently being constructed at Camp Livingston, announced Mildred Schwartz, president, Jewish Community Center. “The board of directors unanimously passed the motion to build the pool,
recognizing that Camp Livingston, our regional resident camp in southeastern Indiana, is vital to the Center’s overall program of services.” Mrs. Schwartz also announced that Stanley Chesley has made a commitment to pay half the cost of
the pool. In announcing his gift, Mr. Chesley said, “I have been committed to Camp Livingston since I was a youngster attending camp, as a counselor, and as president of the old Camp Livingston Board. — May 1, 1986
10 Years Ago Mrs. Dorothy G. Gowen, of 2444 Madison Road passed away April 25. She is survived by her husband, Henry P., a son, Richard H., of San Diego, Calif., a daughter, Peggy C. Davis, of Washington, D.C.; and two granddaughters, Sarah and Natalie Davis. Mrs. Gowen was a member of Rockdale Temple. In former years, she was active in numer-
ous civic and charitable organizations. She was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati in 1931. The Cincinnati Pediatric Society’s annual awards dinner honoring Dr. Jules Klein will be on Thursday, May 22, at the Drawbridge Inn in Ft. Mitchell, Ky. Mr. Klein received his medical degree from UC, then did an intern-
ship at General Hospital and a oneyear residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago. From 1940 to 1941, he was a resident at CHMC. Since then Dr. Klein has been in private practice for more than 40 years. He has served as director of pediatrics and chief of staff of Jewish Hospital. —April 26, 2001
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
COMMUNITY DIRECTORY COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS Access (513) 373-0300 • www.jypaccess.org Big Brothers/Big Sisters Assoc. (513) 761-3200 • bigbrobigsis.org Beth Tevilah Mikveh Society (513) 821-6679 Camp Ashreinu (513) 702-1513 Camp at the J (513) 722-7226 • mayersonjcc.org Camp Livingston (513) 793-5554 • camplivingston.com Cedar Village (513) 754-3100 • cedarvillage.org Chevra Kadisha (513) 396-6426 Fusion Family (53) 703-3343 • www.fusionnati.org Halom House (513) 791-2912 • halomhouse.com Hillel Jewish Student Center (513) 221-6728 • hillelcincinnati.org Jewish Community Center (513) 761-7500 • mayersonjcc.org Jewish Community Relations Council (513) 985-1501 Jewish Family Service (513) 469-1188 • jfscinti.org Jewish Federation of Cincinnati (513) 985-1500 • shalomcincy.org Jewish Foundation (513) 792-2715 Jewish Information Network (513) 985-1514 Jewish Vocational Service (513) 985-0515 • jvscinti.org Kesher (513) 766-3348 Plum Street Temple Historic Preservation Fund (513) 793-2556 Shalom Family (513) 703-3343 • www.myshalomfamily.org The Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education (513) 487-3055 • holocaustandhumanity.org Vaad Hoier (513) 731-4671 Workum Fund (513) 899-1836 • workum.org YPs at the JCC (513) 761-7500 • mayersonjcc.org
CONGREGATIONS Adath Israel Congregation (513) 793-1800 • adath-israel.org Beit Chaverim (513) 984-3393 Beth Israel Congregation (513) 868-2049 • bethisraelcongregation.net Congregation Beth Adam (513) 985-0400 • bethadam.org Congregation B’nai Tikvah (513) 759-5356 • bnai-tikvah.org Congregation B’nai Tzedek (513) 984-3393 • bnaitzedek.us
Congregation Ohav Shalom (513) 489-3399 • ohavshalom.org Golf Manor Synagogue (513) 531-6654 • golfmanorsynagogue.org Isaac M. Wise Temple (513) 793-2556 • wisetemple.org Kehilas B’nai Israel (513) 761-0769 Northern Hills Synagogue (513) 931-6038 • nhs-cba.org Rockdale Temple (513) 891-9900 • rockdaletemple.org Temple Beth Shalom (513) 422-8313 • tbsohio.org Temple Sholom (513) 791-1330 • templesholom.net The Valley Temple (513) 761-3555 • valleytemple.com
EDUCATION Chai Tots Early Childhood Center 513.234.0600 • chaitots.com Chabad Blue Ash (513) 793-5200 • chabadba.com Cincinnati Hebrew Day School (513) 351-7777 • chds.shul.net HUC-JIR (513) 221-1875 • huc.edu JCC Early Childhood School (513) 793-2122 • mayersonjcc.org Kehilla - School for Creative Jewish Education (513) 489-3399 • kehilla-cincy.com Mercaz High School (513) 792-5082 x104 • mercazhs.org Reform Jewish High School (513) 469-6406 • crjhs.org Regional Institute Torah & Secular Studies (513) 631-0083 Rockwern Academy (513) 984-3770 • rockwernacademy.org
ORGANIZATIONS American Jewish Committee (513) 621-4020 • ajc.org American Friends of Magen David Adom (513) 521-1197 • afmda.org B’nai B’rith (513) 984-1999 Hadassah (513) 821-6157 • cincinnati-hadassah.org Jewish Discovery Center (513) 234.0777 • jdiscovery.com Jewish National Fund (513) 794-1300 • jnf.org Jewish War Veterans (513) 204-5594 • jwv.org NA’AMAT (513) 984-3805 • naamat.org National Council of Jewish Women (513) 891-9583 • ncjw.org State of Israel Bonds (513) 793-4440 • israelbonds.com Women’s American ORT (513) 985-1512 • ortamerica.org.org
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JAHM from page 3 On May 10, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) will take everyone out to the ballgame with “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.” At 4:30 p.m. ballpark cuisine will be available, the “Jews and Baseball” documentary will be shown at 5:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m. there will be a discussion with Martin Abramowitz — America’s Custodian of Jewish Baseball Memory. “Jews and Baseball” explores the connection between Jewish Americans and baseball, our nation’s most iconic institution. More than a film about sports, it is a story of immigration, assimilation, bigotry, heroism, the passing on of traditions and the shattering of stereotypes. “You should be an attorney or a doctor, but not a ballplayer,” one former major leaguer remembers, describing the prejudices that he and other Jewish athletes faced. But despite the stereotypes, and in the face of hostility from fans and even violence from opposing
ANNIVERSARIES from page 4 Mark and Dianne Benmayor Andy and Linda Berger Kerry and Bonnie Burte Bob Cohen and Amy Katz Stephan and Cheryl Czulewicz Robert and Marcy Klein Andy and Geri Kolesar Charles and Kathy Pescovitz Steve Rudich and Donna Cirasole Rob and Trudy Craig Scott and Trish Joseph David and Annette Dirlam
STORIES from page 10 Farhi also describes her first memories of the “sun and the food, olives and peaches” of the country, and her first night here on the farming plot that belonged to cousins in what was then the village of Ramat Hasharon, now an upscale Tel Aviv suburb. There, she and her family were the first residents of a newly built chicken coop. She would go on to move with her family to Haifa before becoming a teaching student in Jerusalem, where she had her fateful encounter with the Lamed Hey
• • • • •
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(513) 531-9600 players, there have been standout Jewish players in every decade from the 1860s to the present. Interviews include fans, writers, executives and especially players – including Al Rosen, Kevin Youkilis, Shawn Green, Norm Sherry, Ron Blomberg, Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, and a rare interview with the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. Fans Ron Howard and Larry King speak of the meaning of Jewish ballplayers in their own lives, while historians and even two baseball-loving rabbis relate the stories of Jewish players to the turbulent history of the last century. Space is limited and registration required. Contact HUC for more information. On May 11, the Taft Museum of Art will hold a “Taft in 10,” an informal, 10-minute conversation on “Jozef Israëls, The Sewing School at Katwijk” at 1:15 p.m. There, learn about the masterpiece, which is part of the museum’s permanent collection, painted by the Dutch Jewish artist dubbed the 19th-century Rembrandt.
Paul and Liz McOsker Ken and Robin Seelig Gary and Stefi Zola Bob and Nili Fox Mike and Nancy Goldhagen Marshall and Jeanie Rozin George and Mary Croog Steve and Ann Glick Bob and Marcia Lukin Donald and Nancy Seltz Howard and Nancy Starnbach Ed and Sandy Desatnik Jim and Ruth Levy Bob and Lynne Kanter Ken and Natalie Levy fighters. After the war broke out, she became a soldier in the Haganah herself, working as a telephone switchboard operator. She remembers the commanders would bark over the line, “Don’t listen!” Returning to Haifa after the war on a visit to her parents, she did not immediately understand why the Arab family who had lived nearby was gone. As a girl, she had fed their cow scraps of watermelon and befriended their daughter. “Once from afar I saw the mother, selling produce on a street corner,” she said. “I did not have the heart to approach her.”
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Passover Sour Cream Coffee Cake All About Food
By Zell Schulman Recipe Editor I need to share a special gift I was given this Passover holiday. Many of us were busy getting our houses cleaned, our kitchens ready to cook for our Seders, and worrying if we forgot something important or remembered to invite everyone we had on our list to come and celebrate with us. In the meantime, there are more than 200 Jewish families who survive from day to day thanks to our CEDAR from page 1 engagement. The results have been remarkable. In addition to the incredible artwork that has been created, participating in OMA promotes social engagement, autonomy and dignity through the experience of creative self-expression. Each weekly session of OMA begins with 15 individuals with dementia matched up on a one-toone ratio with a caring volunteer. The volunteers do not create the art. Instead, they monitor, encourage and assist. OMA’s founder, Elizabeth Lokon, shares a completed work of art – from calligra-
Jewish Food Pantry under the guidance of Jewish Family Service. Jewish families who don’t have the pleasure or the means to even consider what, where or how they will be able to have a Seder or celebrate Passover. They’re happy they have enough food for each day no matter what day it is. More than 400 Jewish women, men and children count on the free, Jewish pantry on a weekly basis. The Jewish Food Pantry provides them with kosher items, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry and if they’re lucky, a sweet treat now and then. What a wonderful Jewish community experience I was able to be a part of a few days before Passover. Women, men and teenagers came together under the guidance of the social workers from JFS to fill boxes with a very few basic, kosher for Passover phy to embroidery, from painting to sculpture – as inspiration for the day’s project. Each participant receives their supplies for the day, packaged like a gift, and then they use them to create their own interpretation of the example. Caregivers report tremendous benefits from participating in the program. Sharon Eilerman, caregiver to OMA participant Albert Paul, said, “He loves going to OMA. He lights up and is so engaged with his partner. He talks and converses with others and he’s so proud each week of his completed, solid, art project. It’s been so wonderful to watch him excel in this fabulous program.”
Albert Paul participates in the Opening Minds through Art program at Cedar Village.
items, then schlep and deliver them to the Golf Manor Synagogue, where our Jewish pantry is kept. Two days of preparation, then several more days handing them out or delivering them to indigent people at their homes so they could keep Passover. How fortunate I was to share this mitzvah with so many outstanding, wonderful and caring community volunteers along with our Jewish Family Service experts. The rooms were filled with love, appreciation and wonder that such a small part of our time fulfilled so many needs to so many Jewish brethren. The most important ingredients for this week’s recipe aren’t the matzah or the eggs or the cooking. This week’s most important ingredients are the time, effort and resources you can share with these more than 200 Jewish families, who wouldn’t have food on their
tables, not only for the Jewish holiday celebrations but their daily food intake. To experience this special gift, give Jewish Family Service a call. I was so happy I did. Now, even though Passover is done, that doesn’t necessarily mean your family has eaten all the food which was bought for it. The following Coffee Cake recipe is a favorite for breakfast, and a good way to use up that extra Passover coffee cake mix. It can also be enjoyed year-round.
Processor Method 1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert steel blade in processor bowl. Empty contents of large bag into bowl of processor; add egg, milk and sour cream; pulse several times to mix well. Spread batter evenly in greased 8” x 8” pan. 2.) Empty contents of small bag in bowl of processor with steel blade; add toasted pecans and cinnamon; process 10 seconds. Spread evenly on top of batter; bake 40 minutes; cool 10 minutes in pan. Cut into squares. *Toast the nuts in a Microwave on High, 2 minutes, rotating after 1 minute or in an oven 400°F for 5 –10 minutes.
LUSTIG from page 1
United States in 1988 to work on the sequel, “War and Remembrance.” Shortly after his arrival stateside, Lustig was introduced to Spielberg. Three years later, the famed director, then planning the production of “Schindler’s List,” invited Lustig to a short meeting. The two men chatted for a while before Spielberg got to the point. “You are my producer,” he told Lustig. The moment marked the beginning of an enduring professional and personal relationship. “Schindler’s List” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1993, along with six other Oscars. During the ceremony, Lustig joined Spielberg and associate producer Gerald Molen on the stage. Few who watched are likely to forget the first line of Lustig’s acceptance speech. “My number was A3317. I am a Holocaust survivor.” Besides his Hollywood credits on such films as “Sophie’s Choice,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “American Gangster,” Lustig also organizes an annual festival of films on Holocaust and Israel themes in Zagreb, the Croatian capital. A few months ago, Lustig was approached by Phil Blazer, Lustig’s partner in their Six Point Films production company and president of the Blazer Media Group, which includes the Jewish Life Television (JLTV) network. Last year, JLTV broadcast live highlights of the March of the Living — the annual event that brings some 10,000 participants, predominantly high school juniors and seniors from 40 countries, to Poland and Israel — and is doing so again this year. Blazer suggested that Lustig participate in the march and, at the same time, celebrate the bar mitzvah he had missed 65 years earlier. Lustig thought it was a great idea.
This year, March of the Living participants will visit Auschwitz on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on May 1, to commemorate the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews and to pledge to fight intolerance and prejudice in the future. On the following morning, May 2, Lustig will celebrate his bar mitzvah outside barrack No. 24, wearing a tallis presented to him at an April 4 tribute reception at Universal Studios. Lustig announced that day that he’d donate scholarship money to cover the cost of 10 participants in future marches. In the afternoon, the massive phalanx of teenagers, accompanied by survivors and Israeli, Polish and other dignitaries, will walk the three kilometers, or nearly two miles, from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the extermination center of the Auschwitz complex and site of the gas chambers and crematoria. There, Lustig and other survivors will speak of their experiences, light memorial candles, and recite prayers. Both the May 1 and 2 ceremonies will be broadcast by JLTV. In the meantime, like any bar mitzvah boy, Lustig has been working on his speech. He plans to recall his pledge, as the youngest prisoner in his Auschwitz barrack, to tell the world about the fate of his elders who did not survive. Lustig says he will conclude with these words: “The message I want to share today is the most important one I learned from my years in the concentration camps. It is the message of tolerance. We must all get along. We must strive to respect and love one another, so that the horrific days of the Holocaust will never visit us again. Tolerance is my bar mitzvah wish today, and ‘Never Again’ is my hope and my dream for always.”
Lustig’s life story from child prisoner to successful Hollywood producer seems so implausible that even he and his good friend Steven Spielberg might hesitate to put it in front of an audience. Sitting in his home in West Los Angeles, Lustig recounted the story to JTA. When the Nazis and their Croatian puppet regime started to round up Jews, his father joined a partisan unit while Branko and his mother were arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Upon arrival at the concentration camp, mother and son were separated. Although Branko was only 10, he was quite tall and escaped immediate death by passing himself off as a 16-year-old and therefore fit for labor. He was sent to a nearby coal mine and got lucky again to be assigned the job of ladling out water to other prisoners, leading a white horse pulling a cart with the water tank. In the closing months of the war, the boy was transferred to BergenBelsen where, miraculously, he was reunited with his mother. His father did not survive the war. Lustig was lying on a camp bunk, emaciated, ravaged by typhus and covered with lice, when he suddenly heard some strange musical notes. “I thought I had died and was in heaven,” Lustig recalled. Actually, the music came from a Scottish bagpiper, heralding the arrival of a company of British liberators. After recovering, Lustig returned to Croatia and eventually joined a local film production company. When the ABC TV miniseries “The Winds of War” did some filming work in Croatia, Lustig signed on as associate producer. He moved to the
PASSOVER SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE Serves 4 I call this cake one of my “Shelf Starters,” because you start with a boxed cake from off the shelf. The ingredients in parentheses are for those on special low-fat diets.
1 box Passover coffee cake mix 1/4 cup sour cream (low fat) 2 large eggs (1 egg + 2 egg whites) 1/4 cup toasted pecans* 1/4 cup milk (1% or skim milk) 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
2011 Range Rover Sport is an off-roader with inner beauty
2011 Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is Land Rover’s apparent attempt to attract a well-heeled and urban set more interested in all-weather mobility than all-terrain adventure. Even if Range Rover Sport owners never do any off-roading, the Sport is more willing to dirty its boots than most of its competitors. The 2011 Range Rover Sport, which is built on the same platform as the Land Rover LR4, offers a 375-horsepower engine and produces 375 foot-pounds of torque, starting at 3500 rpm. Making peak torque available at such low engine speeds gives the Range Rover excellent acceleration in the 20-to50 mile-per-hour range. The car’s 7.2-second 0–60 time is impressive considering the vehicle’s nearly 6,000 pound weight. The Range Rover Sport features full-time four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case and Terrain Response. The terrain response system modifies throttle, transmission and suspension response according to the driving surface: road, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand, or rock crawl. While less sophisticated off-road systems can navigate the same trails, terrain response makes it much easier. The driver uses a rotary knob on the center console to change settings. The supercharged model also features a Dynamic Mode, tailoring the chassis and powertrain for more sporty and responsive on-road driving. Fuel economy estimates for the base V8 are 13 mpg in the city, 18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined, while the Supercharged model rates an estimated 12/17/14 mpg. Safetywise, the 2011 Range Rover Sport is equipped with antilock disc brakes (more powerful Brembo brakes are fitted to the Supercharged model), hill-descent control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Traction and stability control with rollover protection
are also standard on all models, as are front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. While having its brakes tested, a Range Rover Sport Supercharged slowed from 60 mph to zero in 123 feet, an impressive result for an SUV of its weight. Supercharged models, which can be equipped with an adaptive cruise control system, also benefit from a collision mitigation system. Using forward-looking radar, the system primes the brake system if a collision appears imminent. It will even initiate braking in extreme cases. The optional Vision Assist package adds blind-spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting, automatic high-beam assist and multicamera parking assist. One of the best features of any SUV is its commanding view of the road. The Range Rover Sport takes this a step further with elevated stadium-style seating for rear passengers, affording them the same view. They will also enjoy the high-grade leather upholstery and elegant cabin accents that include walnut and Anigre wood, or black lacquer. The Range Rover Sport has a rich and contemporary feel. Its console and switchgear are thoroughly modern, as is its thin-film dash display, which presents essential — and customizable — driver and vehicle information through graphics and virtual gauges. In quick transitions on a twisty road, the Range Rover Sport feels composed, exhibiting an impressive lack of body roll for a vehicle of its size and weight. Its Dynamic Response system and adaptive suspension dampers offer up a bit more cornering ability, but most owners won’t be using the Range Rover Sport to take on mountain passes. Most buyers are more interested in a lush, quiet and smooth cabin, something this Range Rover delivers. The 2011 Range Rover Sport has an MSRP that starts at $60,495.
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DEATH NOTICES STRERN, Rabbi Jack, age 84, died on April 14, 2011; 10 Nissan, 5771. KICHLER, Gene C., age 90, died on April 22, 2011; 18 Nissan, 5771. TITOVA, Faina, age 57, died on April 23, 2011; 19 Nissan, 5771. KRAFT, Madeline J., age 78, died on April 25, 2011; 22 Nissan, 5771. PROJECT from page 1 his grandmother. He’s got a million of ‘em — or a few dozen, at least. Now Friedman is taking that same love of lingo and combining it with his high-tech know-how to launch Urban Sefer, an online project aimed at producing crowd-sourced, slangfilled translations of traditional Jewish liturgy. You know, Jewish texts written the way people talk. “When these documents were written, they were written in the SIMENOWITZ from page 7 The story was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine, and “Someone passed a comment, saying, ‘What kind of G-d would let that happen when you’re out there doing his thing?’” Simenowitz recalls. “And I said, ‘Bottom line, you don’t get hurt doing mitzvahs.’” After the story was published, people started calling from all over to adopt a tree in Simenowitz’s grove; his business was saved. Simenowitz produces about 100 gallons of maple syrup in a good year, boiled down from 4,000 gallons of raw sap, which is collected from buckets he hangs from his tapped trees. He taps the trees in a pattern, he explains — a little higher or lower each year so as not
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common language, the way people spoke,” Friedman told JTA. “But today when I read these ancient documents, I need to sit and think in order to translate it into my language. It requires intellectual work.” And that, as everyone knows, is not what young people like to do. “Let’s take these traditions handed down for thousands of years and make the same points, but do it in the language that’s part of our everyday life,” Friedman says. The folks at the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund seem to agree. In March, the group awarded Friedman one of its initial nine grants for new digital media projects aimed at engaging young Jews in Jewish life, learning and community. “These projects share an ability to harness new digital media tools and technologies that are a large part of young people’s lives today and use them to enhance efforts to engage young people in Jewish life,” said Rachel Levin, associate director of the Righteous Persons Foundation, which joined the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation in sponsoring the new fund. The nine finalists were chosen
from more than 300 applicants vying for a total of $500,000 to be disbursed over the next 12 months, the fund’s first year. Urban Sefer is Friedman’s first Jewish project. He was raised Orthodox in Great Neck, N.Y., so he knows his Jewish ritual, he says, though he fell away from religion after his bar mitzvah. In college Friedman was an English major, and he says his idea of a good time is spending one weekend a month reading a Shakespeare work he doesn’t know well. “I’m the least cool guy ever,” he says. “I like reading old books and listening to people tell jokes.” The first text Friedman is tackling is the Passover Haggadah. Two years ago, he and his Argentinean girlfriend dashed off a version in Spanish slang as a sort of lark. It proved so popular among Jews in Argentina that last year he decided to do the same thing using English slang. But instead of sitting down and writing it himself, Friedman wants to involve lots of people. So he’s taking the project online and inviting anyone who’s interested to sign up and take part — crowd sourcing, in modern vernacular. “What’s a modern way to do this? Crowd sourcing,” he says in typical
to damage the tree. The sap is pumped into an evaporator inside the sugar shack, where the water is boiled off to leave behind the syrup, which is about 60 percent sugar. The operation is kosher certified. There are two major kosher concerns with “pure maple syrup.” First, an observant Jew is required to turn on the evaporator because only an observant Jew is allowed to “light the fire” that cooks a kosher food item. Second, while the sap is boiling, farmers drip animal fat into the mixture to keep it from foaming over the top of its container. “Traditionally they’d take a piece of pork fat, suspend it from a string and the foam would rise, touch it and go down,” says Simenowitz, who instead uses olive oil, pouring in a drop or two
at a time. Simenowitz, who sells all his maple syrup himself either in person or by mail order, says he sells out every year. He makes his living as a traveling scholar-in-residence, lecturing about farming in Orthodox venues and teaching Torah to Jewish environmentalists and foodies through Ya’aleh v’Yavo, the Jewish environmentalist project he directs. He also picks up the occasional legal case, to keep the bills paid, and has been tapped by the city of Baltimore to do a comprehensive energy audit on a new Orthodoxfriendly commercial building, including designing some of its energy-efficient infrastructure. Simenowitz doesn’t attend Jewish food conferences anymore, saying he is “tired of being the poster child for the GROUPS from page 8 Ryan has said block grants make sense because it hands over Medicaid planning to states that have widely varying needs. “We’ve had so much testimony from so many different governors saying: Give us the freedom to customize our Medicaid programs, to tailor for our unique populations in our states,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday on April 4. “We want to get governors freedom to do that.” Jewish groups objecting to the voucher plan say it effectively reduces federal coverage for the elderly from three-quarters to one-
I’ll-answer-my-own-questionsthank-you Friedman style. “The epic stories in the Bible used classic methods of telling stories, but today we tell stories in film, on TV, online. If Moses were alive today, he’d be making movies.” Urban Sefer isn’t the only opensource Jewish text project out there. The granddaddy of the genre is Open Source Haggadah, an online project launched in 2002 that allowed users to construct their own personalized Haggadahs using a variety of sources, including user-generated content. That project folded in 2004 when funding ran out — its operation was more or less taken over by Jew It Yourself — but it paved the way for other similar initiatives including the Open Siddur Project and Build a Prayer, which allow users to construct personalized prayer books, and the newly launched Haggadot website, another recipient of a Jewish New Media Innovation Fund grant for 2011-12. Friedman says he doesn’t know the people working on the other projects. He’s pretty much alone in Buenos Aires, and says he’s just putting up his project on the Internet hoping it will attract a community of like-minded younger Jews eager to
harness their creative energies together. After the Haggadah, Friedman says he’d like to take on a rewrite of the Bible, starting with Ecclesiastes, and then move on to the Shabbat prayer book. “If there was ever a biblical work made for modern slang, it’s Ecclesiastes,” he says. “It’s about a guy who has everything but is looking for meaning, so he goes out, gets drunk all the time, has sex with a lot of women — nothing works. “Finally he realizes that enjoying little moments with friends, that’s the real meaning. This is timeless wisdom! The power of modern English vernacular is made for it.” Just because he’s focusing on street talk doesn’t mean Friedman is taking his subject lightly. This is serious work, he insists, meant to draw young Jews back to connect with their tradition. He’s working with a rabbi “to make sure it’s kosher” and is investing a lot of his own money. And because these translations are being crowd sourced, the outline he has in his mind may or may not pan out. “I don’t know what the final version will be like,” he says, “but the website will be live in a month or two. We’ll see then.”
Courtesy of Jeff Tetrault
Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz and his son Shlomo building their Vermont sugar shack in 2005.
Orthodox.” Jewish environmentalists and eco-foodies need to ground their work in Torah, he says, if they want the Orthodox
world to take them seriously. “The Orthodox are late to the parade,” he acknowledges, but that’s understandable.
third of the costs they incur. “The restructuring has a potential to compromise the guarantees in level of coverage that we’ve counted on and people depend on, and it changes the commitment we as a society make,” said Josh Protas, JCPA’s Washington director. Additionally, the choices inherent in a voucher program may appeal to the young, but not necessarily to the elderly, said Mark Olshan, B’nai B’rith’s associate executive vice president. “Having older people who are less healthy having to go through the myriad of options doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Empowering people is one thing,
but older people with health issues we need to protect.” Protas said Jewish groups object to block grants for Medicaid because the procedure would strip away requirements of coverage for vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly. By giving autonomy to states to decide how to cover, he said, cash-strapped states may well choose to drop certain individuals from coverage. There are other objections to the Ryan budget: It essentially would repeal the reforms that President Obama signed into law last year that mandate health care coverage and remove preexisting conditions as a reason to deny coverage.
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