March/April 2024

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Are They Enough?

ISRAEL & HADASSAH Join Hadassah in Israel this coming year – bear witness, offer personal support and experience the wonders of our ancient homeland. Find your journey at: h�ps://

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Professor Stephen Berk

December 8-15, 2024

M o re JEWISH HERITAGE A dvent ures Wor ldw ide EASTERN EUROPE PROF. BERK - JUNE 2024



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SUPPORTING IDF SOLDIERS AND FAMILIES IN TIMES OF NEED Since the outbreak of war in Israel, Yad Sarah has aided in the rehabilitation and recovery of more than 2,500 soldiers. “I will never forget when we came home from the hospital after Yahali was born, and again when he was reborn after he was wounded,” said Hadas Brazilai, the mother of Yahali Brazilai, a 13th Battalion Golani soldier injured in combat. “Back then, we brought him a highchair. Now, we brought a wheelchair from Yad Sarah,” she continued. “And the excitement of seeing his first steps this time was even more inspiring.” With more than 7,000 volunteers and 126 branches throughout Israel, Yad Sarah is here to support IDF soldiers and all the people of Israel.


Yahali Brazilai IDF soldier, Yad Sarah client

445 Park Avenue, Suite 1702 New York, NY 10022


@YadSarahFriends @Friends_Of_YadSarah


delivering resilience. delivering hope.

360° of Healing is about keeping Israel’s children mentally and emotionally healthy. The Herman Dana Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hadassah is internationally recognized for outstanding services in treatment, teaching and training, and critical research in child and adolescent mental health. The Division’s specialized staff provides full-scale treatment plans based on an exhaustive approach that includes assessing the child’s physiological, emotional and cognitive states, as well as the family dynamic and cultural background. The Child and Adolescent Inpatient Unit serves children aged 6 to 18 and provides individual therapy, group work, parental guidance, family intervention, parents’ groups and psychopharmacology. Some children suffer from life-threatening disorders: nearly half are diagnosed with eating disorders; others suffer from psychotic disorders, affective disorders, behavioral problems, severe anxiety, and non-compliance with medical treatment. The clinically based Research Unit investigations include the psychological effect of terror and trauma on minors and genetic components in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


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MARCH/APRIL 2024 | VOL. 105 NO. 4


DEPARTMENTS 12 COMMENTARY Channeling Queen Esther

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 President’s Column 6 The Editor’s Turn 8 Letters to the Editor 10 Cut & Post 40 Hadassah News 51 Crossword Puzzle 63 About Hebrew 64 Question & Answer On the Cover Students learn about the Holocaust through encounters with survivors and museum visits. See story on page 22. Photos (clockwise from top) courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; courtesy of the Museum of Jewish Heritage; courtesy of John Halpern/ Museum of Jewish Heritage; Jacqueline Ramseyer/MediaNews Group/Mercury News via Getty Images

Join the Conversation @HadassahMag @hadassahmagazine

16 ISRAEL’S OCTOBER 7 REFUGEES By Uriel Heilman The more than 100,000 Israelis still evacuated from their homes in the North and South are trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of their lives. Their predicament raises difficult questions not just for them but for all of Israel about how the state, which failed so catastrophically on October 7, will now guarantee their security.

22 TEACHING THE HOLOCAUST By Cathryn J. Prince The where, how and at which ages the Holocaust is taught differ wildly throughout the country. Amid skyrocketing antisemitism, educators, lawmakers and Jewish institutions are reassessing the scope, focus and effectiveness of Holocaust education in helping combat Jew-hatred.

28 HENRIETTA SZOLD’S GIFTS By Francine Klagsbrun “Zionism governed Szold’s life,” Klagsbrun writes in this adapted essay from her new biography of Hadassah’s founder. “At a time when many German Jewish community leaders in America rejected the Zionist ideal out of fear that Jews would be accused of dual loyalty, Szold spoke freely of Zionism as crucial to Judaism and an expression of the finest Jewish impulses.”

36 THE FUTURE OF REHAB By Wendy Elliman Wounded soldiers are now being treated at the newly opened state-of-the-art Gandel Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. Still under construction when Hamas launched its savage attack on Israel on October 7 and Israel declared war on the terrorist group, the center rushed to open two departments in early January. MARCH /APRIL 2024

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14 ESSAY Between Barbie Land and the real world

32 HEALTH Partners in heart health

42 TRAVEL Barbados and its Jews

44 FOOD Serving Israel’s war effort in the kitchen


• Julianna Margulies speaks up for Israel

• Showcasing the women of the Lower East Side





Full Calendars & Expanding Tables The first Purim and Passover post-October 7 By Carol Ann Schwartz


y definition, the calendar is an everyday item. But the Jewish calendar in particular is more than just an arrangement of dates. It is a map of our history and a guide to linking that history to our values and our survival. And we do not have to stare at the calendar for long to recall that it is more than a reminder to celebrate or commemorate. It is also a record of the trials, and sometimes horrors, that preceded our emergence from adversity. Traumatic moments are often highlighted by the routine events that follow, like the first Thanksgiving after 9/11 or the first dinner out with friends after the lockdowns of Covid. October 7, 2023—and the war it unleashed—is one of those watershed dates. We are coming up on the first Purim and Passover since that newest day of infamy. And just as we look at the approaching holidays as occasions for communal bonding, we experience anew the solidarity that is the strongest thread of Jewish continuity. In Purim, we see Queen Esther as a hero for millennia, the embodiment of Jewish self-defense. A woman who at first hid her Hebrew name before revealing her identity when Jewish lives depended on it. There is a second female role model from the Purim story— Vashti—whose courageous example has only in recent years gained recognition for her defiance, empowering

herself by refusing an order to display herself at a royal banquet. From its beginning, Hadassah has carried Esther’s Hebrew name as a symbol of empowered Zionist women. Israel would not be what it is today without this organization. We built the Jewish state’s early health care infrastructure, and the Hadassah Medical Organization remains a standard bearer of healing. In the war with Hamas, our hospitals have been treating wounded soldiers and civilians, and our Youth Aliyah villages have housed displaced Israelis. Hadassah has been outspoken in Israel’s defense, calling out the United Nations and UN Women for months of indefensible silence after Israeli women were mutilated, raped and murdered on October 7, and launching a global campaign, End the Silence (, to raise awareness and demand justice. Please help spread the word.


ur work matters. “your support for Israel’s health care and solidarity with the Israeli people is a great strength,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog told us during Hadassah’s Solidarity Mission to Israel in January, a transformative experience. (The next one is set to begin March 17.) In America, Hadassah not only provides its members, Associates and supporters the opportunity to be


involved in sustaining Israel, it also attracts those who are newly motivated to stand up. Among all the consequential moments of the past few months, there is a fleeting image that stays with me. In November, when a number of hostages were released from Gaza, some of them were ferried into Egypt and then to Israel, as if symbolically retracing the Sinai crossing of our forebears. Every year during Passover, we are charged to remember the Exodus from Egypt as if we ourselves were part of it. In the same way, it’s as if we all experienced captivity by Hamas. Our empowerment grew out of the experience of slavery and is reinforced by the suffering of our own time. There is a light-hearted complaint about the Jewish calendar—that it is so overloaded with holidays that it leaves little time to work or go to school. But a crowded agenda with a long list of obligations encourages more than it precludes Jewish overachievement. Our children learn as much, if not more, from the seder experience as they do in school. Just as our calendar is expansive, so are Jewish tables, normally seating a family of four or five, then suddenly accommodating 25 or more, ensuring that some who would not otherwise experience the Exodus can also symbolically walk to freedom. This year, it seems especially important that we invite others to join us. We have a lot of work before us. It’s a good thing our calendar is full. A happy, healthy and meaningful holiday season to all.

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Hadassah on the Ground: In Peace and War. Hadassah has been on the ground in the land of Israel for more than 110 years. Throughout our remarkable history, we have provided treatment for the sick and injured, as well as short- and long-term rehabilitative and mental health care — for all Israelis. We have also assured the security, education and safety of young people residing in our Youth Aliyah villages. Here in the US, your giving guarantees that Israel always has the voice of Hadassah advocating in Washington and that American youth always have an opportunity to learn about Judaism and Israel. Every contribution made to Hadassah is meaningful and helps us fulfill our mission. With your support, we can remain ready and able to help in times of peace and war.

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CHAIR Ellen Hershkin EXECUTIVE EDITOR Lisa Hostein DEPUTY EDITOR Libby Barnea SENIOR EDITOR Leah Finkelshteyn DIGITAL EDITOR Arielle Kaplan EDITOR EMERITUS Alan M. Tigay DESIGN/PRODUCTION Regina and Samantha Marsh EDITORIAL BOARD Roselyn Bell Ruth G. Cole Nancy Falchuk Gloria Goldreich Blu Greenberg Dara Horn

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A Different Side of Purim The holiday feels especially relevant and grim this year By Lisa Hostein


’ve never been a big fan of Purim. As a child, the costumes didn’t excite me, and the prune and poppy hamantaschen that my mother generously baked and delivered to almost every Jewish family in my small Rhode Island hometown did not excite my taste buds. As an adult, I find the hamantaschen offerings much improved (yes, please, to the chocolate), yet the more I have delved into the meaning of the holiday, and particularly the exploitation of its two central female figures, Queen Esther and Vashti, the more my distaste has grown. This year, the holiday, which falls on March 24, feels especially grim— and relevant. What Haman couldn’t accomplish with his plot to extinguish the Jews in Persia nearly 2,500 years ago, Hamas attempted on October 7. Among the most egregious responses to the attacks—in addition to the explosion of antisemitic and anti-Israel activity around the globe— has, in fact, been the lack of response to the rape and torture of Israeli women at the hands of Hamas. As Shoshana Keats Jaskoll reminds us in “Channeling Queen Esther” (page 12), this silence denies the humanity and dignity of the victims. And as attorney Cochav Elkayam-Levy, who is leading the Israeli civil commission investigating these crimes, explains, there is more than ample evidence attesting to the atrocities (page 64). To help address that inexcusable


quiet, Hadassah has launched End the Silence, a global campaign to speak out, raise awareness and demand justice for the victims of Hamas’s premeditated mass sexual violence and torture ( The campaign continues the legacy and activism of Hadassah’s founder, Henrietta Szold, who convened a group of women in February 1912 (around Purim, hence the name Hadassah, Hebrew for Esther) to create what would become the largest Zionist women’s organization in the world. In “Henrietta Szold’s Gifts,” author Francine Klagsbrun shares an excerpt from her brand-new biography of the organization’s visionary founder (page 28). Elsewhere in this issue, Uriel Heilman reports on the continuing state of limbo for some 100,000 still displaced Israelis, in “Israel’s October 7 Refugees” (page 16). We also share news of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s race to open its new Gandel Rehabilitation Center, where soldiers wounded in the war are already beginning to heal (page 36), and of Hadassah’s recent solidarity mission to Israel (page 40). And in our cover story, “Teaching the Holocaust,” Cathryn Prince takes a deep dive into the state of Holocaust education in the United States (page 22), a pedagogy that presumably was intended to help make “Never Again” mean something. Relatedly, actor Julianna Margulies explains why she thinks Holocaust education is so important (page 47). And lastly, about those newer hamantaschen flavors? Check out the recipe Adeena Sussman shares for peanut butter and blueberry. We all deserve a treat these days.

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© 2024 Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. Hadassah is a registered trademark of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. The solicitation disclosure on page 62 is incorporated in this solicitation. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. In accordance with IRS tax laws, only the amount of your gift that exceeds the fair market value of goods and services received in consideration for your gift is tax deductible as a charitable contribution. The fair market value of the puzzle offered in connection with your contribution is $36. This value represents the portion of your gift that is not tax deductible. If you want the entire amount of your contribution to be tax deductible, you may decline the puzzle by checking the appropriate box on the form. MAGENV66


ANOTHER BRAVE HERO In “Heroes on the Battlefield and Homefront” (January/February 2024 issue), Leora Eren Frucht captured the courage of those brave women who responded with extraordinary action on October 7. My heart stopped when I read about the situation that Naomi Galeano and her partner faced as they arrived at Kibbutz Sa’ad and confronted a security squad engaged in a gun battle to protect the gate. Our step-granddaughter, Border Police Sergeant Rose Ida Lubin, was celebrated at her funeral for her bravery that day defending the same gate, protecting the kibbutz and orchestrating activities to help helicopters land, and for assisting the wounded. Rose survived that day only to be murdered while on duty on November 6 at Herod’s Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. Lynne Hoffman Keating Dunwoody, Ga.

TWO CRUCIAL POINTS Rabbi Diana Fersko made three excellent points in “Time for a Reassessment Among Jewish Americans” (January/February). But two crucial points were missed. First, Israel needs strong bipartisan support in Congress. Before donating to or voting for any candidate, that candidate’s voting record on Israel must be verified. Some members of Congress verbally support Israel and then vote against Israel’s best interests. For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned plea to Congress to reject the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal. Yet many Jewish members of Congress voted for it. The second point is to send

your philanthropic dollars to those that take care of our Israeli brethren and other Jewish people in need. Myrna Beck Fair Lawn, N.J.

UNREMITTING OCTOBER 7s I read Sarah Sassoon’s poignant essay, “My Grandmother’s Afsa” (January/ February), with tears in my eyes. Especially for those who question or don’t understand Israel’s refusal (as of this writing) to agree to a ceasefire in this terrible war, it would be valuable reading. It’s not only the 1,200 souls lost or the barbarism of the October 7 invasion. It’s not only the hostages still being held by Hamas. It’s the thousands of years of unremitting days like October 7 for Jews. It’s the holocausts over and over for countless generations. In the genealogy of most Jewish families, someone fled one land for another because of oppression. Israel is the only homeland we have. Joyce Kirsner Peck Torrington, Conn.

RECONCILING SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL, INNOCENT DEATHS I am writing in reaction to “A ‘Great Awakening’ for American Jewry” (January/February). I am a strong supporter of Israel, yet I have been saddened by what I see as Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, causing many deaths and injuries to civilians. Yes, I know Israel must prevent future attacks by Hamas. Yes, I know that Hamas hides behind and below citizens, neighborhoods and hospitals. But the killing of thousands of innocent people is wrong. I wish that Hadassah Magazine would publish articles about how backers of Israel can reconcile their MARCH /APRIL 2024

support as well as what strategies, beyond fighting, Israel could use to prevent another Hamas attack. Wendy J. Parker, M.D. Dover, Mass.

JOIN THE FIGHT Kudos to Elizabeth Rand (Q&A, January/February) for taking the initiative against surging antisemitism on American college campuses. It’s an uphill battle that needs an all-handson-deck response. Many members of her Facebook group Mothers Against College Antisemitism are likely graduates of some of the most afflicted institutions. They can synergize their involvement by joining their alma maters’ chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness. The network of some 75 chapters—and growing—has more than 50,000 members who are organizing to fight campus antisemitism. Richard D. Wilkins Syracuse, N.Y.

A MESSAGE OF HARMONY I read Hadassah Magazine from cover to cover as soon as it arrives, and I was delighted to see Suzanne Dressler’s article on Harmony in

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the January/February issue. Bruce Sussman and his husband, Robbie Shuter, are my neighbors, friends and, indeed, family. We celebrate many holidays together. I have been aware of Harmony for years. Bruce says the character of Ruth is partially based on me, a Holocaust survivor. What an honor! In today’s world, it is so important that the play’s message be part of our education. Ruth Zimber New York, N.Y.

I AM A JEWISH WRITER As an author of many books for children, I found “What Makes a Book Jewish?” in the November/December

2023 issue very interesting. My first book, Busybody Nota, was published in 1976. I soon wrote several other books for young readers. When my editor asked me, “What are you going to write next?” I had a ready answer: “I want to write a Jewish book.” Her response surprised me. “But Johanna, all your books are so Jewish.” As the word “Jewish” did not appear in any of my stories, that amazed me. But then I realized that there were many Jewish elements in my books even if no one was labeled Jewish, ate kosher meals or celebrated Jewish holidays. My characters were neighborly, helpful and did good deeds.

Subsequently, I published multiple titles that were Jewish by design. Just last year, Apples & Honey published my book The Unexpected Adventures of C.A.T., which was selected to be a PJ Our Way offering. In all, I have published 78 children’s books, some with and some without Jewish characters. I have come to realize that I am a Jewish writer. Johanna Hurwitz Great Neck, N.Y.

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In time of war, Hadassah’s youth need more than love. Our Youth Aliyah villages provide a safe haven for students, embracing them with more than food, shelter and an education. Since October 7th, we also provide psychological support and are building new shelters. The guidance and love, the education and support allows the young refugees and children from at-risk homes to achieve brighter futures. Hadassah’s Youth Villages are the foundation of the State of Israel’s future citizens and leaders.

You have the power to shape their future. DONATE TODAY.

HADASSAH, THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA, INC. ©2024 Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. Hadassah and the H logo are registered trademarks of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.


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Bringing Alternative Treatments to Soldiers accident, was determined to offer them relief. She recruited acupuncturists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists and yoga instructors from cities near her Haifa-area home to treat suffering soldiers for free. She calls her group Chayal’s Angels. Chayal is Hebrew for “soldier” and the name is a play on the American television series, Charlie’s Angels. Every day since mid-October, Cohen has sent groups of practitioners—who donate their time—to northern army bases with folding massage tables and yoga mats. In its first 10 weeks, Chayal’s Angels treated 2,500 soldiers, and Cohen hopes to continue as long as they are stationed in the Lebanon border area. “These soldiers are keeping us all safe, and working with them gives me a tremendous feeling of fulfilment,” said Zev Alpert, an acupuncturist with a clinical specialty in treating pain and anxiety. “I usually treat 10 soldiers each time, and they are extremely grateful.” Cohen, who emigrated from London 12 years ago, said she and the practitioners feel an indescribable sense of “unity, joy and relief” in their mission, noting that in an average week, 20 therapists give 100 to 300 treatments. Looking ahead, Cohen would like to expand

A soldier receives a treatment from a Chayal’s Angels’ volunteer.

the program to pay the therapists as well as open a balance center after the war where soldiers could get free alternative treatment for physical and psychological ailments. “Over the past weeks and months,” she said, “it has become apparent that our soldiers will need to heal from the stress, trauma and exhaustion that arise from the collective undertaking.” —Jordana Benami


A ‘Rightful Place’ on the Silver Screen, and Bimah Everyone knows the biblical Miriam played a crucial supporting role in the Exodus, but few are aware that the 8-year-old who portrayed her in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille classic The Ten Commandments grew up to be a cantor. “I feel like Miriam inspired me,” said Cantor Riselle Bain, sole spiritual leader of Temple Israel of Highlands County in Sebring, Fla. At 4’11” and weighing 88 pounds, Bain isn’t much bigger than when she sent baby Moses down the Nile in a basket and, like the biblical figure, she took

her time becoming a leader of her people. Growing up in Los Angeles during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Bain followed her father, Abie Bain, a former boxing champion turned actor, onto the silver screen, singing, dancing and acting with stars like Bob Hope, Buster Keaton and Judy Garland. She later appeared in multiple stage productions of Fiddler on the Roof and as Eva Peron in the second national tour of Evita. She was in her early 40s when her rabbi, Barry Altman of Temple MARCH /APRIL 2024

Riselle Bain appears as Miriam in ‘The Ten Commandments.’

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Thousands of reserve soldiers sent to Israel’s northern border after October 7 left behind jobs, families and everyday responsibilities to protect their nation. During war, soldiers are prepared to bear physical discomfort. But these men and women, mostly in their 20s and 30s, are no longer accustomed to sitting in cramped tanks, carrying rifles over their shoulders and toting around heavy equipment on their backs for hours at a time. Their bodies aren’t used to battle rations and spending nights lying on the cold, hard ground. Before Tasha Cohen long, many reservists began suffering back and shoulder pain, injured knees, respiratory and digestive ailments and chronic insomnia. So Tasha Cohen, a business manager from northern Israel who had benefited for many years from alternative therapies to ease the repercussions of a serious car

Participants in Together @OneTable welcome Shabbat.


For Jews Over 55, ‘Feeling Part of Something’ on Friday Night Victoria Stone recently hosted eight friends for Shabbat dinner in her Calabasas, Calif., home. The occasion was notable because, while Stone calls herself a “staunch Zionist” who once lived on a kibbutz in Israel, she’d felt alienated since childhood from the Friday night ritual and Shabbat observance that she recalls being oppressively strict. But her longtime friend Susan Salzman recruited Stone in October as a beta tester for Together @OneTable, a recently launched Shabbat offering for Jews 55 and up. Salzman, the initiative’s director, and OneTable President and CEO Aliza Kline are betting that Jewish empty nesters will jump at the opportunity to sign up online and connect around a neighbor’s Friday night table—much as 20- and 30-someBeth El in Ormand Beach, Fla., asked her to fill in for a sick cantorial soloist. “I couldn’t even read Hebrew,” Bain admitted, but “he ignited the match” when he said after the services, “I think you missed your calling.” From there, Bain returned to school for a music degree, then Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of

thing-year-olds have done through OneTable’s original program. Stone invited a half-dozen friends, all in their early 60s, for cedar-planked salmon, snap peas, kiddush and conversation. “Everyone brought something, and it was really fantastic—the connection, feeling part of something,” Stone recalled. “The opportunity to do Shabbat the way I wanted to was very empowering.” OneTable was designed to engage a post-college crowd with traditionally weaker communal ties. But over time, Kline became aware of a parallel need among Jews past the phase of life where relationships are forged through children’s routines. “We’d hear from people complaining, ‘I meet someone at

Religion’s School of Sacred Music, where she was ordained as a cantor in 2006. Describing the Bain serves as cantor to a congregation in Florida.

pickleball or a lecture, but there’s no natural way to get together again,’ ” she said. From that sentiment, Together @OneTable was born. Kline anticipates the average gathering will include six to eight diners, half the number of attendees at millennial dinners. The meal is also more likely to be older participants’ evening event, rather than “just part of your night,” as it may be for younger people, Kline said. Other possible tweaks being considered: pairing diners by interest and, when preparing food isn’t feasible, offering catered meals. “The role of the host is filling up their table, not necessarily cooking,” Kline said. “It’s about getting together.” That’s what clicked for Stone, an insurance broker who has since rejoined a Jewish networking group she’d left. “I realized there’s a cultural feeling I have with other Jews,” said Stone, who plans to host Shabbat again soon. “It feels like home.” —Hilary Danailova

difference between theatrical and liturgical singing, Bain said, “In theater, you take something unreal and try to make it real. When you’re praying, it’s a real moment; it’s real people.” And yet she is aware that she has touched exponentially more people as Miriam. For many Jews, watching The Ten Commandments is as much a part of their Pesach observance as Miriam’s cup, and Bain embraces that. “It’s gratifying because I’m part of something that has endured,” she

said. At the same time, she notes that the film—like the Bible itself—comes with a dose of patriarchy. Bain, a Hadassah life member who performed at the Florida Hadassah Centennial celebration in 2012, laments the fact that the adult Miriam’s song at the sea never made it into the film. “Miriam didn’t get her rightful place in Torah, and she didn’t get it in The Ten Commandments,” she said. “Maybe a woman needs to make a film about Miriam— Miriam the Prophetess?” And who better to play the grown-up version than Bain herself?” —Avi Dresner


dehumanizing visual proof before they acknowledge Hamas’s brutalization of women.

F Channeling Queen Esther After October 7, we must again call evil by its name By Shoshana Keats Jaskoll



here are some images of Jewish women that I don’t want to see. That I believe should never be seen. This may seem ironic since I’ve spent the past 12 years advocating for female images to be shown in all spaces, even the most religious, where they are often erased or blurred. Over the past 15 to 20 years, photos of women and girls have been steadily banned from many Orthodox publications in Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and other Orthodox communities to appease the most insular sects of Judaism who take the Jewish concept of modesty to extremes. I have written extensively on this social phenomenon and its negative psychological ramifications for girls and women, indeed on the entire observant community. The organization I co-founded, Chochmat Nashim, has launched projects to combat this alarming trend, including The Jewish Photo Bank, a digital collection of stock images of observant women and families. We hope that our advocacy will normalize images of women to create a more moderate Orthodox community.

But the reason I believe that images of Jewish women must be shown in magazines and books and on billboards is the same reason I believe the photos of Israeli women who were assaulted and mutilated on October 7 should not be published. Some of these victims were shot so many times in the face that, according to Shari Mendes, an Israel Defense Forces reservist who helped prepare their bodies for burial, “It was like there was purposeful obliteration of women’s faces.” The Hebrew word for face, “panim,” comes from “p’nim,” which means internal. Our faces reflect who we are on the inside, our individuality. When we remove a woman’s face, we remove her tzelem Elokim‚ her Godly reflection, essence and humanity. And while erasing women’s images is not the same as sexual assault, in both cases, the humanity and dignity of women are denied. That denial is devastating and has far-reaching consequences. This is something I’m thinking about as we approach Purim, a story rife with men who control women, and as the world demands unreasonable and MARCH /APRIL 2024

or a majority of jews, Purim is among the most joyous and exuberant holidays on the Jewish calendar. One where good (Mordechai) triumphs over evil (Haman), the Jews beat their enemies and God saves us once again. But for me, Purim, which falls this year on March 24, has increasingly come to symbolize the women of the story, all of whom suffer and are exploited in some way. From Esther to Vashti to the tens of thousands in King Ahasuerus’s realm who were commanded to submit to their husbands’ desires or were rounded up to be offered to the king. Megillat Esther is replete with the loss of women’s agency. Esther, who saved us from the decree to kill the Jews, was not herself saved. She was condemned to a marriage she did not want, with a man she could not refuse. She has symbolized agunot—women chained in marriage because their husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce —for decades. Indeed, International Agunah Awareness Day is typically observed on Ta’anit Esther, the fast day preceding Purim. Vashti, Esther’s predecessor as queen, was silenced for refusing to display her beauty at the king’s banquet. As a result of his anger, and his advisers taking advantage of that anger, hundreds (thousands?) of young women were made to parade themselves before Ahasuerus. The megillah indicates that they were each forced to be with him for one night and condemned to the harem forever more, until and unless he called for them again: “She would go in the evening and leave in the

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morning for a second harem…. She would not go again to the king unless the king wanted her, when she would be summoned by name (Esther 2:14).” How many other Jewish women were taken from their families and held in captivity, never to be heard from again? Which brings me back to women’s dignity and agency not only in Shushan 3392, but today in 5784.



ithin the jewish world, women’s self-determination and humanity are being denied, both by being trapped as agunot and by being erased from printed material that only allows pictures of men or boys, whether in a newspaper, a cookbook or an IKEA catalog printed for ultra-Orthodox customers in Israel. In the wider world, our Jewish sisters’ dignity is being erased by the chorus of October 7 rape denials and demands for visual proof. It is the same fight. It is Jewish women being seen and heard only on someone else’s terms. Ultimately, the Jewish people of Shushan were saved by Esther when she took control of her narrative. No longer acted upon, she acted. And far from giving in to Haman, the king’s nefarious minister who was plotting against the Jews, she looked evil straight in the eye and called it by its name: “And Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy, the evil Haman!’ And Haman cringed in terror before the king and the queen (Esther 7:6).” Jewish women today must again call evil by its name and refuse to be erased or exploited. By anyone.

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Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is a writer, activist and speaker. Her work can be seen in the Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Chronicle and other outlets. MARCH /APRIL 2024

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Clinging to Childhood Joy Between Barbie Land and the real world By Annette Greenberg



he sketchbook of drawings that I filled front-to-back with crooked rainbows and smileyfaced corner suns at the age of 5 and 6 has notes such as “I Love You” and “Keep on Smiling” scribbled on nearly every page. If strangers happened to flip through it, they would likely think of plastic dolls and multicolored building blocks and afternoons spent playing “house” on a school playground. I doubt that they would attribute those pages to a first-grade girl experiencing her earliest conceptions of death. My mother gifted me that sketchbook around the time she was diagnosed with leukemia. I already had a Dora the Explorer-themed bedroom with pink walls and a stack of Disney Princess coloring books. I favored pink, yellow and purple markers to infuse that sketchbook with as much chaotic vibrance as I could. My father would bring it to my mother to look through while

she was in the hospital. Despite my family situation, I still went over to my next-door neighbor’s house every afternoon to play with Barbies. I loved creating funky outfits and imagining storylines for the dolls. I seemed to cling to symbols of lightheartedness, even when I was afraid. My drawings and storylines were all pink sunsets and rainbow clouds, not because I felt pressured or constrained by my gender, but because even as I was experiencing what I now recognize as anxiety, I genuinely enjoyed the positivity and fun of those activities.


ast summer, i was sharply reminded of that period of my life while watching Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. In a Vogue interview about the film, Gerwig, director and co-writer of Barbie, mentioned that part of her motivation for the project was a desire to represent the jarring reality that girls experience as they


mature—that the world is much harsher than they imagined it to be. She noted that the deep-seated anxiety that often follows this realization can be sudden, persistent and difficult to accept. Girls are “funny and brash and confident, and then they just— stop,” Gerwig explained. Much like the childhood described by Gerwig, the setting of the film’s Barbie Land relies on fun and positivity. It is a world where every woman has a place, a realm seemingly devoid of vitriolic conflict between women and any manifestations of internalized misogyny. When Stereotypical Barbie, the film’s protagonist, begins to think about mortality, she must leave Barbie Land in order to seek answers about the limits of perfection and of her reality. As much as she wants to, she cannot simply abandon her questions and return to her previous existence. Through her quest, Barbie gains an uncomfortable yet powerful awareness about the way she is viewed and the negative beliefs that girls begin to have about her as they age. As she confronts her legacy in the real world, she learns that it’s not as unequivocally positive as she

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give thought. Many girls cling to pink and plastic dolls in their childhoods without thinking anything of it, but as they grow, they, too, emerge from their naïveté. Eventually, many question whether they ever really loved dolls or art or singing, or if they were just socialized into pursuing interests that are perceived as feminine. When they see a Barbie doll, they no longer think only of the hours spent making up stories and characters with their friends; they wonder if this doll has damaged their self-esteem. As we get older, we understand that there are complications and uncomfortable truths about how we girls are perceived and how we think of ourselves. My mother passed away when I was 6 years old. My father remarried, and I grew up with another excellent mother who has taught me and continues to teach me powerful lessons. One of these lessons is to try to channel the anxiety I have into motivation to succeed and help others. Because of that guidance, I still think of my childhood as a happy one, despite the tragedy of losing my mom. Given my own experience—not dissimilar to Barbie’s in some ways— I believe that the newfound awareness of the discomfort girls feel as they mature should not negate the joy that once was. When it comes to Barbie, discovering some of the ills associated with the iconic doll shouldn’t erase the fun we had playing with it. Annette Greenberg, a first-year student at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women from East Brunswick, N.J., is the winner of the 2023 Hadassah Magazine and jGirls+ Magazine teen essay contest. The latest contest asked: How have the adapted films Barbie and/or Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret impacted you? What are your thoughts about both the messages they convey and the phenomena surrounding them?






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I 15 I 1/30/24 11:38 AM

Israel’s October 7 Refugees


The internally displaced struggle with harsh new realities and difficult choices | By Uriel Heilman

“Today, at the moment, I can’t see returning. I can’t see leaving one of my children at home alone and then, if something happens, I’m not there.” —Arnon Yohanan

Silent Witness Destroyed buildings testify to the carnage that Hamas terrorists unleashed on October 7 at Kibbutz Be’eri, where over 90 people were


or months, dorit zohar has been living in a state of deep uncertainty. A resident of Tkuma, a moshav less than five miles from the Gaza border, Zohar fled her home along with her husband and three children on Sunday morning, October 8, while Hamas terrorists were still on the loose in southern Israel after their massive surprise attack and infiltration the day before. Speeding through roads strewn with corpses and burning cars while rockets streaked overhead, Zohar’s family eventually reached safety at a youth hostel guest house in Maccabim, a town on the edge of the central Israeli city of Modiin, where someone from her community had sent word of available rooms. At first, Zohar thought she’d be away from home just for a few days— as with previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas. But it

quickly became evident that October 7 was not like previous attacks. Israel soon invaded Gaza, aiming to destroy Hamas and liberate over 250 hostages.

“COMMUNITY IS A POWERFUL THING AT ALL TIMES AND CERTAINLY IN MOMENTS OF CRISIS.” —DORIT ZOHAR Now, after months of fighting, Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas remains elusive, and Zohar and the more than 100,000 Israelis still evacuated from their homes in the Israeli war zones near Gaza in the South and MARCH /APRIL 2024

Lebanon in the North are trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of their lives. Initially, just weeks into the war, the number of evacuees exceeded 200,000, but some have returned home. “Like everyone, we’re in dilemmas about the future, how we move forward from here,” Zohar said. “I very much want to return. But it’s complicated.” Zohar’s home in Tkuma lacks a mamad—the reinforced room that serves as a shelter during rocket attacks and where so many Israelis holed up on October 7 while Hamas terrorists rampaged through their communities. Zohar’s kids’ school in Kibbutz Sa’ad, located even closer to Gaza, remains closed, so they would have no school if she returned. Then there’s the lingering trauma. When the family visits grandparents in Netivot, a city near Tkuma that was spared and where residents were not evacuated, Zohar’s 12-year-old daughter refuses to sleep anywhere other than the mamad. She won’t shower or use the bathroom unaccompanied—even in the middle of the night. “We have a decision to make,” Zohar said. “You need to feel secure in your house.”

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murdered and 25 taken captive to Gaza. Be’eri is located three miles from the border with Gaza.

“There’s a before and an after,” said Arnon Yohanan, a resident of Netiv HaAsara, a moshav on the Gaza border where over 20 Israelis were


Doron and Anat Ifrach

killed. “Our country won’t be what it was. We have to understand that the reality is different now. There’s been a very deep breaking of trust.” Yohanan says he’ll never return to live in Netiv HaAsara even though he grew up there and moved back after marrying to raise his three children in the picturesque town amid the sand dunes of Israel’s MARCH /APRIL 2024

Mediterranean coast. The Israeli communities near Gaza often were described as 95 percent Garden of Eden and 5 percent hell. “Something has changed,” said Yohanan, who is currently residing in a rented apartment in Modiin. “Today, at the moment, I can’t see returning. I can’t see leaving one of my children at home alone and then, if something happens, I’m not there. I won’t.”


he quandary for residents of Israel’s northern war zone may be even more difficult. In the South, the Israel Defense Forces has waged an all-out war on enemy territory in a bid to secure the area known as the Otef, or Gaza envelope. With Hamas on the defensive and the IDF deep in Gaza, a growing number of southern residents have returned home, some staying only for weekends and others with plans to stay permanently. In the North, however, where the threat is even more potent because of Hezbollah’s more sophisticated

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hese are the calculations Israel’s internal refugees are struggling with months into an unresolved war. Their predicament raises difficult questions not just for the displaced but for all of Israel about how the state, which failed so catastrophically on October 7, will now guarantee their security.

weapons and fighting capability, war—if it comes—hasn’t begun in earnest. Hezbollah has been harassing Israel with infiltrations, drone attacks, anti-tank fire and other assaults, resulting in significant property damage and at least 15 Israeli deaths. Israel has returned fire and killed over 150 people on the Lebanese side. But the exchanges of fire so far have stopped short of all-out war. If the Hezbollah threat isn’t neutralized, Israelis who live near Lebanon wonder how they will be able to return home and feel safe. “The big question isn’t when we’ll go back but if at all,” said Galit Yosef, director of the mayor’s office in Metula, Israel’s northernmost town, which is surrounded by Lebanon on three sides. “If we return home, we know we’ll be slaughtered one day. We’ll have October 7 in the North.” Yosef’s house was severely damaged by the force of the blast when her neighbor’s home was hit by a direct strike, but she hasn’t been able

to assess the damage because the army has deemed it too dangerous to visit. About 130 homes in Metula have suffered damage, roads and fields have been ground up by tanks, and public buildings have been repurposed for military use. Even when Yosef, who is staying at a hotel in Tiberias, is permitted to go home, her house won’t be habitable. As they wait, Israel’s refugees are scattered about the country, their lives upended. At first, most of the refugees went to hotels—some on the first day of the attack after running from home in their pajamas. Ofir Reuven fled her house in Yevul, a tiny town near the corner of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, early on the morning of October 8, driving with friends and family through agricultural fields in three 4x4 vehicles with more passengers than seats. “We got into the car without toothbrushes, with nothing. We felt we had to zip out of there,” said ReuMARCH /APRIL 2024

ven, a mother of five. “My kids were barefoot. I didn’t even have a purse. I had a prayerbook and my husband had his gun. That’s all we brought.” They drove to the Dead Sea, where Reuven’s 11th-grade daughter had fled after escaping the bloodbath at Kibbutz Be’eri, where she had been spending the weekend with friends. Over 90 people were murdered at Be’eri and 25 taken captive to Gaza. The family ended up at a youth hostel at the foot of Masada, the remote desert fortress where 2,000 years ago besieged Jewish holdouts committed mass suicide to avoid capture, murder and enslavement by Roman troops— an extreme act that suddenly seems more relatable after the experience of Hamas’s atrocities on October 7. Over the course of the next few days, Reuven became the de facto leader of Yevul’s community in exile. She sent messages to friends and neighbors that they’d find refuge at Masada’s Ana youth hostel, and eventually over 80 percent of the

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Away From Home Children evacuated from Kibbutz Nir Am near the southern border with Gaza play together at Herod’s hotel in Tel Aviv, while other relocated residents of the kibbutz grab a meal in the hotel’s dining room (opposite page, top).

community arrived. The government announced that it would foot the bill for all evacuees’ hotel stays, including three meals per day. The Masada hostel wasn’t equipped to provide meals—it just had a couple of vending machines—but someone donated an oven, and on that first Friday, community members baked challah together. Families slept five or six people to a room, using the lobby as a common living room. The Education Ministry set up a school, and thanks to an army of volunteers and a flood of donations, the refugees were able to get shoes, clothes and toiletries at the nearby Dead Sea resort area of Ein Bokek, where thousands of displaced persons were put up in hotels. “Everything that arrived at the beginning made me cry from emotion,” Reuven recalled. “The generosity of Am Yisrael was a huge thing —so special, so meaningful. It created a lot of hope.” Most displaced communities relo-

cated together to help preserve a sense of unity and resilience amid the trauma of war. Those under evacuation orders could choose either free room and full board at hotels or instead take the government payout —about $55 a day per adult and half as much per child—and make their own housing arrangements. Local schools have opened their doors to evacuees, and where there were none, the Education Ministry set up temporary ones. Evacuees also have received free psychological counseling, free public transportation and a range of other services. “Being together as a community holds us together on a mental health level—it really strengthens us,” Zohar said. “Community is a powerful thing at all times and certainly in moments of crisis.” But living for months in hotel rooms, even nice ones, is no picnic, especially for families. Four or more people may be forced to share one bathroom. There are lines for doing

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laundry. Hotel halls are littered with bikes, baby carriages and restless kids in every corner. Food is available only at set times, and it’s not to everyone’s liking. Many hotels don’t allow pets. High school kids are skipping school and staying up all night with friends. Over time, refugee hotel occupancy has dwindled. Of Metula’s 1,600 residents in exile, about 80 percent have left the hotels and are using government funding to rent apartments on their own, according to Yosef. At the Maccabim youth hostel, which initially hosted over 20 families from Tkuma and nearby towns, including Sderot, about half remain.


kuma resident anat ifrach is of two minds when it comes to returning home. She has visited Tkuma since the war began, but the town felt desolate and unsafe. The preschool where she works will remain shuttered at least until September and, for the time being, she has taken a similar job at a school in Modiin. The end date of government payments for evacuee housing keeps changing, and living with the uncertainty has been difficult. On top of everything, Ifrach is concerned about security. “I look at this process like it’s from a movie. I don’t know how we reached this point,” Ifrach said, noting that in an instant her family went to war footing, with her son a commander in a tank unit and her son-in-law an elite combat officer. “It’s not simple at all. We’re worried. We don’t know what will be. We’re left in the same place we were before October 7. We got used to these rounds of fighting, but the knowledge that they were able to infiltrate us makes us question our security.” In the North, residents are unclear on when their return date will be.

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“The situation has to change. It can’t go back to the same as before,” said Yitzhak Cohen, a vintner from Ramot Naftali, a leafy Galilee town on a mountain just over a mile east of the Lebanon border. “The state has to deal with the problems and not evacuate,” said Cohen, who chose to remain in his home. But almost everyone else in town picked up and left, including his wife. “Either there will be a large campaign that will push Hezbollah back from the border area or there will be a political agreement. Neither the leaders in the region nor the residents will agree to live with Hezbollah under their nose, waiting for next time,” Cohen said. “And there’s no updated information on when the

evacuees should return.” Meanwhile, many displaced adults are idle because their workplaces are shuttered. One reason for Cohen’s decision not to evacuate is his work. “I have a business in the moshav,” the winemaker said. “So there’s work. It’s not boring. I pity all the people who are climbing the walls in hotels.” At the same time, the displaced are paying mortgages and rent on empty homes. Those who want to move permanently and sell their homes in the South or North have dim prospects of finding buyers given the circumstances. “Our economic future is uncertain,” said Reuven, who has recently coordinated a relocation of the Yevul

community in exile from the Masada hostel to a nicer hotel closer to home near Sde Boker. Yohanan of Netiv HaAsara says Israel should get used to communities in exile, and the state should assist people no matter where they ultimately choose to live. “There’s no one answer to our problems,” Yohanan said. “Our communities are no longer just a geographic place—just like nobody will say the Jewish people is the Land of Israel. “Our reality has changed.” Uriel Heilman is a journalist in Israel. He works for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and has written about Israel’s current war for the Los Angeles Times, Salon and USA Today.

A record 110 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes The largest displacement of people since World War II Today, HIAS draws from our shared Jewish values and more than 100-year history to provide vital services to refugees in more than 20 countries. Join us today by making a tax-deductible donation.



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Teaching the Holocaust Reassessing the scope and impact of Holocaust curricula



By Cathryn J. Prince

s high school teacher Becky Henderson-Howie writes the word “Dehumanization” on the chalkboard, 10 students sit quietly behind their desks, arranged in a U, and watch her with wary anticipation. “Their initial reaction to the topic of dehumanization is usually mixed,” Henderson-Howie said, noting that the word is a discussion prompt on how the Nazis, who came to power through elections, stripped Jewish people of their humanity through words and actions. “As we progress through the lesson, students are visibly moved by the content. Some years they pepper me with questions; some years they are very quiet and introspective,” she said. “Usually there is at least one student who is in utter disbelief.” This particular lesson of the course, she added, is “not an enjoyable class for me.”

Henderson-Howie teaches the Holocaust as an elective for juniors and seniors at Colton-Pierrepoint Central School, a pre-K through grade 12 school that fits under one roof in a small town in the Adirondack foothills in upstate New York. Colton, which skews White, Catholic and Republican, has offered an indepth elective on the Holocaust for the past 22 years. While the Holocaust course is optional, all Colton students in eighth grade read Sylvia Perlmutter’s memoir Yellow Star, which recounts her experience in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland as a young girl. Since 1985, when California became the first state to require Holocaust education, mandates about teaching the Holocaust have brought the subject to American public schools like Colton.


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However, where, how and at which ages the subject is taught differ wildly throughout the country; nearly half the states do not require it in their curricula at all. With skyrocketing antisemitism over the past several years, especially since the October 7 attack on Israel Becky HendersonHowie

Lesson Plans Teacher Annette Levine (opposite page, top) speaks about Holocaust-related books to a sixth-grade class at Don Estridge High Tech Middle School in Boca Raton, Fla.; Gretchen Skidmore leads a tour for educators of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s permanent exhibition.

of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 didn’t know that six million Jews were murdered during World War II; 10 percent denied it happened; and 11 percent said they believe Jews caused the Holocaust. The widespread lack of knowledge and misinformation might also help explain why a vast majority of American adults want to see more Holocaust education nationwide, according to data recently released by the American Jewish Committee. The AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report notes that 85 percent of American adults want public schools to invest more resources in teaching age-appropriate lessons about the Holocaust for all students; 81 percent want statewide assessments on how effectively public schools are teaching the Holocaust; and 75 percent want state and local governments to include contemporary antisemitism in public school curricula. As the AJC points out, each of these items echoes steps outlined by the Biden administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, MARCH /APRIL 2024

introduced in May 2023, which includes strengthening education on antisemitism, Jewish history and the Holocaust in particular.


nly 27 states currently mandate some Holocaust education, largely in middle or high school, according to Echoes & Reflections, a partnership program of the AntiDefamation League, the USC Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem. The partnership provides professional development and Holocaust education resources to secondary school educators in the United States. Online lesson plans include specifics such as what life was like in a ghetto and why antisemitism didn’t end after the Holocaust. Five states have “permissive statutes,” meaning it’s strongly recommended but not required; some states have pending legislation or fact-finding commissions; and 10 have no legislation about Holocaust education at all.

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and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war, educators, lawmakers and Jewish institutions are reassessing the scope, focus and effectiveness of Holocaust education in helping combat the rise in Jew-hatred. Typically introduced in secondary school, when it is taught at all, either in social studies or in English class, educators interviewed for this story say the Holocaust is discussed for two essential reasons. The first is that it is one of the seminal events of the 20th century. The second is that lessons on the Holocaust are seen as a way to teach a host of concepts, including tolerance, human rights, the effects of propaganda and discrimination and how post-Holocaust genocides, such as in Rwanda, can still happen. In short, the goal is for students to learn about the past so they may better understand the present and prevent disaster in the future. Yet despite the efforts at Colton and other schools, a 2020 survey conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany showed that 63 percent


There is no national Holocaust education mandate because state boards of education decide their own curriculum, Jennifer Goss, program manager for Echoes & Reflections, explained. The reasons why some states don’t mandate it vary, say those involved in the field. It can be due to a lack of funding or prioritizing other subjects, such as math and science-related STEM courses. There also does not appear to be a definitive correlation between a state’s Jewish population and its focus on Holocaust education, though the 10 states with no requirement do have relatively small Jewish populations. Even when Holocaust education is mandated, the way it is taught can vary not just between states but also between schools in different districts within the same state. Some teachers include it during a broader unit on World War II when they discuss the liberation of the concentration camps by Allied forces. Others teach it as an independent unit, exploring, for example, pre-World War II Jewish life through photographs and primary source documents or the American response to the threats of Nazism through news reports and primary source documents. Some educators teach it through fictional retellings such as Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer or the graphic novel I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis and illustrated by Álvaro Sarraseca. Others have students read first-hand accounts like Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl. In some places with mandates, teachers may opt to meet the requirements with materials that aren’t even related to Jews and the Holocaust. Teaching about genocide broadly— like the Cambodian genocide from

1975 to 1979 or the 1994 Rwandan genocide—can sometimes fulfill requirements.


owever it’s taught, most educators interviewed agree that focusing solely on the number of murdered Jewish people or the names of the concentration camps isn’t enough. To have value, they say, lesson plans should explore how antisemitism drove the Holocaust, that Jew-hatred is a gateway to wider racism and that it can threaten democracy writ large. “If you’re teaching the Holocaust effectively, you need to teach about antisemitism,” said Goss. “You have to teach about the magnitude of antisemitism and why we should be so concerned about it today.” This represents a change in thinking in recent years. “We have seen a shift especially over the past decade, as now more

programs that we support have developed new curricula to educate on modern manifestations of hatred against the Jewish people, including anti-Zionism,” said Becca Stern Wenger, director of the American office of the Seed the Dream Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that includes Holocaust education as one of its central areas of support. The strongest educational materials address antisemitism as a distinct hatred, Wenger said, unique in that it manifests and morphs to target Jews wherever they live and whatever their beliefs. A decade ago, the threat of antisemitism in the United States was not as pronounced as it is today. But that has dramatically changed over the past several years, and even more so during the past several months. Between October 7, the date of the Hamas massacre in Israel, and December 7, antisemitic incidents in the United States reached the highest number during any two-month period since the ADL began tracking them in 1979. In that period, the watchdog group recorded a total of 2,031 incidents, including 905 rallies that included antisemitic rhetoric, support for terror against the Jewish state and/or calls for the elimination of Israel. They counted 465 incidents during the same period in 2022.


Congressman Ritchie Torres prays at the Kotel in 2015. MARCH /APRIL 2024

his spike in jew-hatred is why legislators like Democratic Representative Ritchie Torres of New York said there is a moral urgency to expand education about what he called the “gravest moral catastrophe of the 20th century.” “The lack of antisemitism awareness has social and political implications in general, including leading to the erasure of Jews as a

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Holocaust Education State by State


Permissive, meaning encouraged

minority,” Torres, who represents the South Bronx, said, adding that he sees a direct connection between Holocaust education and antisemitism awareness. A product of New York City public schools, in a state where Holocaust education was first mandated in 1996, the congressman, who began serving in 2021, said he didn’t seriously engage with the Holocaust until he visited Israel in 2015 as a member of the New York City Council. Describing his visit to Yad Vashem as life-altering, Torres in December co-sponsored the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act. The legislation would direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to study and report back to Congress on Holocaust education efforts nationwide to determine where it is or isn’t part of public school curricula as well as identify the standards, requirements

Pending legislation

State commissions/task forces but no mandate

and instructional material currently being used. Also in December, lawmakers in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives introduced the bipartisan Never Again Education Reauthorization Act. The act would reauthorize the legislation, which originally passed in 2020 with Hadassah as a lead lobbyist and which dedicated a fund to the USHMM to provide teachers and parents with accurate, relevant and accessible resources to improve awareness of the Holocaust.


ormal holocaust education of any sort in the United States didn’t take hold until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when courses on the topic began to be offered at universities, according to Menachem Rosensaft, a legal expert on genocide and the son of two Holocaust survivors who has served at the USHMM in Washington



in various capacities. In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, “the only ones who spoke about it were the survivors with their families,” Rosensaft said. “Then came the publication of Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl, and the novel The Wall” by John Hersey, in 1947 and 1950, respectively, followed by the 1956 publication of Elie Wiesel’s Night. These books created some nationwide recognition of what had happened to Jews during World War II. “That was it. Maybe there was a little blip around the Eichmann trial to learn more,” he said, referring to the 1961 trial in Israel of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official who was a key figure in the “Final Solution.” The first states with mandates were California (1985), Illinois (1990), and Florida and New Jersey (both 1994). Even where it’s not required, there are educators introducing their students to the subject. In 2020, for

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Robert I. Goldman Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous for what the group called “his outstanding commitment to teaching the Holocaust in his school.” Greene is hopeful that Alabama will pass a mandate, though it is uncertain when or if that might happen. “A mandate would give validity and support to teachers,” he said. “It would give credence to teachers when we want to do a workshop or invite a speaker like Marion.”


Logan Greene teaches eighth-graders at Berry Middle School in Birmingham, Ala., about the Holocaust.

example, 10 teachers in Montana, a state with no mandate, participated in a professional development program run by Nine Candles, a nonprofit seeking to improve Holocaust education. And in Alabama, one of the “permissive” states that encourages but does not require it, some teachers are bringing the topic into their classrooms. Logan Greene, a social studies teacher at Berry Middle School in Birmingham whose student body is 40 percent minority and 28 percent economically disadvantaged, has taught about the Holocaust for more than a decade, both to high school and middle school students. In his unit, which lasts several weeks, “I always start by asking students what they know about it. Most know Hitler. Most know about Anne Frank, although she is falling away from the zeitgeist,” he said, adding that he favors using primary sources and the USHMM’s podcast Voices on Antisemitism, which features various

notable figures like the retired NBA star Ray Allen and the author Michael Chabon discussing antisemitism. Greene’s passion for teaching about the Holocaust began in college when he read Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan’s memoir Four Perfect Pebbles. Years later, already teaching the Holocaust at his school, Logan learned that Lazan often conducted in-school visits. Knowing the value of hearing survivor testimonies firsthand, Greene wanted her to speak to his class. However, he needed to raise $1,000 for the speaking fee in less than two weeks. “I told my students it was impossible,” Greene said. Five of his students decided otherwise. They stood outside of the school’s basketball games and asked people to donate $1; they raised over $1,500 in two weeks. “Marion came, and the students had a chance to eat lunch with her. It personalized the history,” he said. (See page 40 for more on Lazan.) In January, Greene received the MARCH /APRIL 2024


s dedicated as teachers like Greene and Colton’s Henderson-Howie are, questions remain about whether Holocaust education reduces antisemitism and Holocaust denial. It’s impossible to know if those who underestimate the death toll or don’t know that Hitler came to power through elections are simply uninformed due to the lack of a cohesive or widespread Holocaust pedagogy or if they are deniers harboring deepseated antisemitic views, Echoes & Reflection’s Goss said. She also acknowledged that “a lot of educators wonder if they are making a difference,” even as they invite speakers, share USC Shoah Foundation survivor testimonies or take their students to visit a Holocaust museum in-person or virtually. But Goss points to a March 2023 ADL Center for Antisemitism Research study that showed that, when properly taught, Holocaust education makes a difference. In the study, which surveyed students who had been exposed to different kinds of Holocaust curricula, 90 percent of those who were taught about the Holocaust better recognized antisemitism’s dangers, said they would stand up for those

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who are being discriminated against and were more likely to challenge incorrect or biased information. In contrast, the ADL report found that those who knew little about Jews, Judaism and Jewish history were more inclined to believe anti-Jewish tropes. For instance, those respondents minimized the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust to three million and overestimated the number of Jews to more than 21 percent of the American population. In reality, Jews make up a mere 2.4 percent. Certainly, knowing someone who is Jewish, hearing survivor testimony or visiting a Holocaust museum increases one’s knowledge about the Holocaust. Yet, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey, only 29 percent of Americans have visited such a museum. But while in-person visits to museums are valuable, they aren’t essential, according to Gretchen Skidmore, director of Education Initiatives at the USHMM. Teachers can avail themselves of free resources from the museum, including virtual professional development training, guidelines and access to primary sources. Such sources include frayed diary pages, black-and-white period footage, images of artwork collected and crafted in the ghettos and concentration camps and newspaper articles. Numerous other museums in the country also provide curricula, including New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and the Holocaust Museum Houston. Despite promising reports linking knowledge of the Holocaust and attitudes about antisemitism, quantitative data is needed, particularly since disinformation and denial are

rising, Skidmore said. To that end, the USHMM is planning to launch the first-ever United States-based Holocaust education research center in late 2024 or early 2025, Skidmore said. The center, also included in the administration’s antisemitism strategy, will undertake rigorous and actionable research into teaching and learning about the Holocaust and study its impact and effectiveness in the United States, she said.

“I DON’T FEEL LIKE I CAN EVER LEARN ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST, BUT IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO STUDY.” —ALEXANDRA LASHOMB Funds from the Never Again Education Act will help support the initial efforts of the research center, and its ongoing work will be supported through museum public and private funds, Skidmore added. That research could include looking to someone like Alexandra LaShomb, who said that when she first heard six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust as a junior in high school, she was stunned. “When you hear numbers that big you can’t understand it,” said LaShomb, who grew up in Colton and attended Colton-Pierrepoint Central School. Now a college senior majoring in homeland security at SUNY Canton, LaShomb opted to take Henderson-Howie’s Holocaust course at Colton twice. She first took it as MARCH /APRIL 2024

a junior, but because of Covid-19, it was on Zoom, so she repeated the course her senior year. “I wasn’t entirely focused. I felt like it was my duty to learn more about something so serious,” she said. “I wanted to give it the full attention I thought it deserved.” At the end of her senior year, the class traveled to Washington to visit the USHMM. Of everything LaShomb saw that day—archival footage, propaganda posters and faded yellow stars—she said it was the shoes that hit hardest, referring to the exhibit of nearly 4,000 victims’ shoes. “Your stomach drops. We all wake up and put our shoes on. We take them off at the end of the day. And here are the piles of shoes of people who could never put them on again,” she said. “I don’t feel like I can ever learn all there is to know about the Holocaust, but it’s so important to study. I’ll talk to people who don’t know about it, who don’t even know when World War II took place. That baffles me.” It’s students like LaShomb who show why Holocaust education must continue to be taught in more schools, said Rosensaft, the legal expert and founding chair of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. “Studying the Holocaust demonstrates how far hatred and bigotry can go if allowed to go unchecked,” he said. “However, legitimate Holocaust education does not begin in the gas chamber or the ghetto. Students need to understand that it begins with words and discrimination and ideology. Holocaust education is not just important. It’s critical.” Cathryn J. Prince is a freelance journalist and author whose most recent book is Queen of the Mountaineers: The Trailblazing Life of Fanny Bullock Workman.

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Henrietta Szold’s Gifts ‘Make my eyes look to the future’



housands of people escorted Henrietta Szold to her final resting place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on February 14, 1945. Chilling rain and drizzle, broken only by occasional rays of sunshine, drenched the mourners as they made their way from Mount Scopus, where the bier of the founder of Hadassah had been viewed at the Nurses’ Training School she formed years earlier. As her body was lowered into the ground, the rain became heavy, as though the heavens themselves wept, one woman recalled. A 15-year-old boy, Shimon Kritz, one of the Polish Jewish children rescued by Youth Aliyah, tearfully recited the Kaddish prayer, and the body in its white shroud was covered with earth. Kritz and many other children in Youth Aliyah called Szold “mother.” She had headed the organization, which saved thousands of Jewish children from Hitler’s inferno and found homes for them in British Mandate Palestine.

By Francine Klagsbrun

Born in Baltimore in 1860, the eldest of five living daughters of Rabbi Benjamin and Sophie Szold, this woman, who never married or had children, became known as a mother in Israel. In her honor, Mother’s Day in Israel was celebrated for many years on the anniversary of her death. (It is now celebrated as Family Day and takes place on a different date.) Words she wrote in a letter to her friend Jessie Sampter, “I should have had children, many children,” have often been cited to demonstrate the sorrow she felt at not having sons or daughters of her own. Indeed, she did experience an emptiness in her life due to not having built a family and she derived great pleasure from mothering the Youth Aliyah youngsters. That phrase in her letter to Sampter was followed by the words, “It is only in rearing children that minute service after minute service counts. In my life, details have...not gone to make a harmonious and productive whole.” Szold was a brilliant administrator. MARCH /APRIL 2024

Her mastery of detail and “minute service after minute service” led to many achievements. Among them was a night school she created and ran in Baltimore to teach English to new immigrants, which would become a model for such schools throughout the United States. And, of course, there was the formation of Hadassah, the most influential women’s Zionist organization in the world. On behalf of Hadassah, she helped create and then direct a medical unit in British Mandate Palestine that over time would grow into the Hadassah Medical Organization. Decades after she founded the nursing school in Jerusalem, it was renamed in her honor. Yet she always questioned the value of her administrative ability. On some level, she felt unfulfilled, not by a loss of motherhood as such, but by—in her estimation—a lack of creativity. She regarded Sampter, a poet, as creative, and her own extraordinary organizational talent as stemming from the narrow

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demands of duty. That was the true source of her sorrow: Her inability to fully appreciate the greatness of the gift she possessed.


aradoxically, insecure as she felt about her skills, she trusted her own instincts more than she trusted others’. She had a will of iron, and she used that will to put into effect programs and projects as she believed they should be done, in spite of disagreements. For example, she was offended when David Ben-Gurion made Youth Aliyah part of the Jewish Agency, convinced that her way of handling youth immigration had been correct with no need for further input. And, in fact, she took control of the rescue of Polish Jewish children. Modest as she was—she was indeed modest, routinely deflecting praise of herself—on occasion she allowed herself to acknowledge the uniqueness of her achievements. When she consented to direct social services for the Vaad Leumi, the

National Council, which was among the governing bodies for the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine, she told friends of her “temerity” in handling such a patchwork of programs with little background in any of them. “When I came to Palestine, I acted as though I were an expert on medical affairs. Fate made me pretend to be an expert on educational affairs in 1927,” she wrote to fellow Zionist and civic leader Alice Selisberg, who became the second national president of Hadassah. Recognizing her accomplishments in other fields, she was able to enter a new one even as she questioned her qualifications. She had the same double vision about power. If asked, she would certainly deny that she had any power at all. She hated politics, she said, and claimed she knew nothing about government, speaking of herself as too ignorant to take a political stand on anything. Nevertheless, she wielded enormous political power, both in America and Mandate Palestine. As founder MARCH /APRIL 2024

and head of Hadassah, she guided that organization to areas she cared about—medicine, education, social services and, later, rescuing children —and raised millions of dollars to support those fields. She provided the backbone for the Hadassah women to stand up to male Zionist groups and maintain their independence. She also saw to it that Hadassah’s services applied equally to all factions: Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. While she would never admit to the power she had, she lent her name to political manifestos in the Yishuv—the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine—because she knew it carried weight. And she pushed two Zionist giants, Chaim Weizmann and Judah Magnes, to reconcile in spite of serious disagreements about the nature of the future state. Weizmann supported efforts to create a political Jewish state; Magnes was committed to pacifism and Arab and Jewish binationalism. Zionism governed Szold’s life. At a time when many German Jewish community leaders in America rejected the Zionist ideal out of fear that Jews would be accused of dual loyalty, Szold spoke freely of Zionism as crucial to Judaism and an

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Zionism Governed Her Life Henrietta Szold relaxes at home in Jerusalem (above) and stands amid Youth Aliyah children (opposite page, left); in 1955, a bench was dedicated to Szold beneath the sycamore tree where she often paused en route to visit the children.

LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT HADASSAH’S FOUNDER: • Henrietta Szold was named in honor of Henriette Herz, an 18th-century scholar who ran a literary salon in Berlin. • One of her earliest memories was being held up high by her father to catch sight of the funeral cortege of Abraham Lincoln. • She had a lifelong love of botany, even delivering talks and papers on the subject, and could name many exotic plants and flowers. • A Zionist since her early years and a fiery orator, she took pride in the fact that she gave a public talk on Zionism a month before Theodor Herzl published his first tract on the topic. • The Jewish Theological Seminary, then an all-male rabbinical school, accepted her as a full-time student—on condition that she not pursue a rabbinic degree.


• Over the course of her life, she received hundreds of letters and answered each of them personally, often by hand. Portrait of 18th-century scholar Henriette Herz

equally. But by backing binationalism, she, like the scholar Martin Buber and other supporters, was on the wrong side of history. With millions of European Jews being massacred during the Holocaust and refugees wandering about with no safe place to go, leaders of the Yishuv saw a dire need for an independent state with unlimited Jewish immigration. Had Szold lived long enough to witness Israel’s creation, perhaps she would have changed her thinking about binationalism. But her warnings about the dangers of not making Szold enjoys a walk through the countryside peace with the Arabs in the land were (above); a mourning corsage created for President perceptive. That elusive peace has Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession remained one of Israel’s most pressexpression of the finest Jewish ing problems. impulses. But Zionism to her also Although Szold lived out her life meant finding a way to live with the in Mandate Palestine, she always saw Arabs who inhabited the same land. herself as an American, always on the She blamed the verge of returning British for Arab to the United UNDER HER GUIDANCE, rebellions, accusStates and her ing the British HADASSAH BECAME THE family. She wrote of having gained to her sisters every LARGEST VOLUNTEER their mandate by week, followed force and then not WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION their activities governing well. assiduously and IN AMERICA AS WELL She criticized often suffered the Arabs for their AS THE LARGEST aching loneliness violence, for not away from them. ZIONIST GROUP IN THE acknowledging She visited yet she WORLD. THE GROWTH that the Jews had didn’t go back to AND THE STATUS THAT a right to their live permanently homeland, mainACCOMPANIED IT OPENED in America. She taining that there spoke of her THE WAY FOR WOMEN TO activities in was room enough for both peoples ASSUME ROLES THEY HAD Mandate Palestine in the land. But as simply fulfilling NEVER TACKLED BEFORE. her duty, but one she also faulted the Jews for looksuspects that ing down on the despite her longing Arabs, and not acknowledging their for her family, America no longer national aspirations. gave meaning to her life. She had Her solution to the tensions, to found her soul in Palestine through a great extent, was to form a binathe critical work she did there. tional state governed by both peoples One question remains: Does MARCH /APRIL 2024

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MAGAZINE DISCUSSION Join us on Thursday, March 21 at 7 PM ET when Hadassah Magazine Executive Editor Lisa Hostein interviews writer Francine Klagsbrun about Henrietta Szold: Hadassah and the Zionist Dream, her new biography about Hadassah’s pioneering founder and one of the most important figures in American Jewish history. Anyone who registers for this free virtual event will automatically be entered to win one of three free copies of Klagsbrun’s new book. Winners will be announced live during the virtual event. Register using this QR code or online at

Henrietta Szold have a place in the pantheon of leaders who advanced the position of women? To be sure, on a personal level her life evolved from an acceptance of the traditional role of women in the home to striking out on her own as a single woman in a decidedly man’s world, heading major public and private institutions in America and Palestine. But unlike a feminist activist like Betty Friedan, for example, who sparked the women’s movement with its demands for equal work and pay, Szold did not initiate broad-scale struggles for women’s rights.


he did something else, however, that created its own ripples. Under her guidance Hadassah became the largest volunteer women’s organization in America as well as the largest Zionist

group in the world. The growth and the status that accompanied it opened the way for women to assume roles they had never tackled before. Homemakers gained notice as public speakers; full-time mothers shone as fiscal experts; women from all walks of life developed expertise in administration, writing, fundraising and parliamentary procedure. Through their activities, they changed the public perception of what women could do. Their daughters and granddaughters, who would argue for equal pay for equal work, learned by example from the volunteer labor of women who came before them to speak out with confidence and pursue their feminist agendas fearlessly. Szold may not have triggered large movements, but she had an impact on thousands of women’s lives. So, MARCH /APRIL 2024

yes, she belongs in that pantheon. About a year before she died, Szold sat for a bust by the sculptor Batya Lishansky, instructing the artist to “make my eyes look to the future.” These words might well summarize her life. In every endeavor she headed she set her eyes on the future. In spite of insecurities and self-criticisms, she consistently looked ahead to expand her projects while making sure they were the best they could be in the present. Long after her death, her vision remains part of all that she created. Francine Klagsbrun is the author of more than a dozen books, including the award-winning Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, and has written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Newsweek. This piece was adapted from her newly published Henrietta Szold: Hadassah and the Zionist Dream from Yale/Jewish Lives. Copyright © 2024 by Francine Klagsbrun. Published by permission.

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A Singular Woman Szold speaks at the opening of Hadassah’s hospital on Mount Scopus in 1939 (top) and with medical personnel in the early 1920s.


Cardiologists Dr. Stacey Rosen (left) and Dr. Jennifer Mieres emphasize the value of friendship in developing heart-smart habits.

Partners of the Heart ‘The road to a heart-healthy life shouldn’t be walked alone’

2022. They have taken on roles at national nonprofits: Dr. Mieres is the spokeswoman for the Go Red for Women campaign of the AHA and Dr. Rosen is on the scientific advisory council of WomenHeart, which advocates for women with heart disease. And both physicians are Jewish. Their families celebrate holidays together—gathering for Rosh Hashanah meals, Passover seders and Thanksgiving—as well as life-cycle events such as b’nei mitzvot and children’s weddings. Both have spoken about women’s heart health at Hadassah events; Dr. Rosen is a life member of Hadassah.

By Michele Cohen Marill



henever cardiologists and friends Drs. Jennifer Mieres and Stacey Rosen get together on the weekends, they are on the move. That’s not an unusual state for Dr. Rosen, senior vice president of the Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health in New York, and Dr. Mieres, senior vice president at Northwell’s Center for Equity of Care and the health system’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. During the week their schedules are overfilled, and they often have time only for a quick lunchtime check-in on Zoom. On Saturdays or Sundays, however, they meet in Central Park in Manhattan for long midday walks. Striding through the park’s scenic vistas, they share updates on their families and children, talk about their work and confer on joint projects that address their shared passion: raising awareness of women’s heart health. As important as the discussions often are, they also walk together to encourage each other’s heart-smart habits. “Our friendship is both professional and personal, and you want

to keep your friends healthy,” said Dr. Rosen. Drs. Mieres and Rosen have known each other for 30 years. Award-winning female leaders and advocates for women’s health in the male-dominated cardiology field, the two come from different backgrounds. Dr. Mieres, 64, was born in Trinidad and, encouraged by her parents to be “a citizen of the world,” she said, moved to the United States to attend college. Dr. Rosen, 62, the daughter of educators who devoted themselves to underserved communities, grew up in New York City. They often joke about their different strengths. “Jen is the inspiring visionary girl, and I am the ‘make the trains run on time’ kind of person,” said Dr. Rosen. Yet they have much in common. They were only a year apart at Boston University School of Medicine, although their paths didn’t cross there, and both are married to doctors. Each has been honored with the American Heart Association (AHA)’s Physician of the Year award—Dr. Rosen in 2021 and Dr. Mieres in MARCH /APRIL 2024

STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT THE GAP IN AWARENESS ABOUT WOMEN’S HEART HEALTH HAS NOT ONLY PERSISTED, IT HAS ALSO GROWN. Their shared focus and partnership are essential to their work. As Dr. Rosen is fond of saying, “The road to a heart-healthy life shouldn’t be walked alone.” That mantra has defined their many collaborations, including gender-based cardiac research, documentaries on women’s heart health and two books—Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S in Six Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living and its follow-up, Heart Smarter for Women: Six Weeks to a Healthier Heart, both co-authored with attorney Lori Russo, a consultant on women’s health. Together, they are spreading awareness about heart disease among women, which is the No. 1 cause of death in women in

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the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cardiology for me was personal, and medicine was personal, because I lost my grandfather when I was 7 because of a heart attack,” said Dr. Mieres, who lives in Manhattan. “I was on a mission to become a doctor,” with a focus on cardiology. For her part, Dr. Rosen, who lives on Long Island, had been captivated by studies of the heart when she was in medical school and saw a need, in the 1980s, for more female cardiologists to bring a missing perspective to the field. Today, only about 15 percent of practicing cardiologists are women, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Back then, the percentage was even lower. The two met in 1994, when Dr. Rosen joined the staff at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. (now part of Northwell Health). Dr. Mieres had been working there since the previous year, the first female cardiologist at the hospital.

There was an immediate connection, said Dr. Mieres, a warmth and ease that fueled a deep friendship and a shared drive to further medical equity for women. “It was quickly clear that we were in this field for very similar reasons,” Dr. Rosen said.

TAKING S.T.E.P.S. Heart Smarter for Women offers a six-week guide to starting heart-healthy habits. The book summarizes the program with the acronym STEPS: Week 1: Select and stock the kitchen with healthy food choices.


heir public advocacy is more crucial than ever. Studies on sex differences in heart disease have shown that the gap in awareness about women’s heart health (and women’s health in general) has not only persisted, it has also grown. According to a national survey conducted in 2019 by the AHA, awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women has declined in the past decade, despite that awareness being on the rise before 2009. Many women, particularly those under 65, do not know that heart disease is more deadly than all cancers combined. To reverse that trend, Drs. Mieres and Rosen co-produced the award-winning 2020 documentary Ms. Diagnosed, highlighting inequities in care due to male-centric medicine. Weaving patient stories with commentary from experts, the film urges women and health care providers to advocate for women’s heart health. Ms. Diagnosed was their second documentary. Their first, A Woman’s Heart, from 2001 (available at The two, colleagues and follows the stories of three friends, here at a women whose diagnoses of book signing, heart disease were delayed share a passion: raising awareness when their symptoms went of women’s unrecognized. Dr. Mieres, who cardiac health. has spoken on the Today show MARCH /APRIL 2024

Week 2: Take control of your activity and choose to move every day.

Eat for a healthier heart. Week 4: Partner with your doctor, Week 3:

family and friends.

Week 5: Sleep more, stress less and savor life. Week 6: Make the steps permanent, new healthy habits.

HEART-SMART STATS • Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women worldwide; more women die from heart disease and stroke than all cancers combined. • Following a healthy lifestyle can prevent 80 percent of heart disease. • Women are still underrepresented in cardiovascular trials; in 2020, only 38 percent of clinical trial participants were women. —from the American Heart Association and other national television outlets on the topic, also has produced two other health-related documentaries and co-authored Reigniting Human Connection, a book on health equity. Heart Smarter, the pair’s most recent collaboration, maps out a common-sense path to better heart habits: healthy eating, exercise, controlling stress and adequate sleep.

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As the book notes, 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes (see box for tips). The book also serves as a primer on signs of heart disease in women, which are often different from the classic signs that occur in men. “Heart disease warning signs can be subtle,” the doctors write. “Women often ignore what they think are minor aches and pains, but you need to know that if something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t.” They detail risk factors significant for women: previous pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes; autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; and the rise in risk for breast cancer survivors who received

radiation treatment. Heart Smarter also explores general heart issues associated with age, family history and ethnicity. For example, Black and Latina women and those of South Asian descent are more likely than white women to have high blood pressure and metabolic conditions such as diabetes, which increase heart disease risk. While there are no specific risk factors associated with Jews from Eastern Europe, Dr. Rosen said, Heart Smarter advocates for a Mediterranean diet (fish and other lean proteins, nuts, olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables) for all women. “Despite the perception of heart disease as a ‘man’s disease,’ ” the doctors write, “women and men are at

equal risk of developing heart disease and suffering a heart attack.”


n their books, drs. rosen and Mieres credit the pioneering women who laid the groundwork for greater equity in health care. Among them was Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, a cardiologist and past president of Hadassah Atlanta who was among the first back in the early 1990s to call for more attention to the treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. They also note mentors such as Dr. Judith Hochman, professor and senior associate dean for clinical sciences at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, who empowered Dr. Mieres during her


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specialization in cardiology at NYU. “Their work is incredibly important. Women are still underdiagnosed and undertreated,” Dr. Hochman said. Now both of them are gaining recognition for their roles in mentoring a new generation of female doctors as professors at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell on Long Island. Dr. Mieres, currently dedicating her efforts to advocacy rather than individual patient care, became the first female president of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology in 2009 and received the Women in Cardiology mentoring award from the American College of Cardiology in 2014. Dr. Rosen, who is still a practicing cardiologist,

received the AHA’s Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award in 2018, and WomenHeart honored her with the Wenger Award for Excellence in Medical Advocacy in 2023. In their personal lives, both try to live up to the principles they set out in their books and films. In addition to their weekend get-togethers, Dr. Mieres puts aside an hour to walk every day, tracking her steps with her Apple Watch. She also listens to the meditation app “Ten Percent Happier” each morning to start the day on a positive note. Dr. Rosen blocks out time for two 90-minute yoga sessions each week and makes it a priority to have a consistent bedtime that allows at least seven hours of sleep every night. But they read-

ily acknowledge that the pressures of a career and family life make it challenging to stick to any health plan. “Give yourself some grace,” said Dr. Rosen, emphasizing the importance of small lifestyle changes. Even with all the accolades, the two are finding new ways to spread their message. They are currently working on short companion films to their books that could be combined with in-person programs. “We have to reignite the passion for this,” Dr. Mieres said, referencing the decline in knowledge about women’s heart health. “It has to be a concerted effort.” Michele Cohen Marill is an Atlanta-based health journalist.

Men have always been the default in medicine, which has left women understudied, undertreated and misdiagnosed. Northwell created the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, the only network of experts devoted to every aspect of women’s care. Because when we raise the health of women, we raise everyone. Join the movement. Scan code to sign up for our newsletter.


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The Future of Rehab Healing those wounded in Israel’s war with Hamas By Wendy Elliman



eafened and blinded by explosions all around, blood pumping from wounds in his leg, arm and shoulder, infantry reservist Yossi Shlomo remembers silently thanking God for his 36 years of life and preparing to die in the dust of Beit Hanoun in northeast Gaza. Seconds later, finding himself still alive, he recalled saying to the Almighty: “Maybe I can have a little longer?” Every harrowing moment remains clear in his mind. “I tried to crawl, and my buddies saw me,” he said. “They gave cover fire, dragged me away, put a high-pressure bandage on my severed femoral artery and eventually got me to a helicopter. I was transfused inflight to Hadassah and kept conscious. “That’s when I knew I’d live,” he recalled. “I didn’t care if I lost my leg, my arm, my sight. I’d hold my wife and children again.” That was November 16. Months later, Shlomo’s wounds are largely

healed, and following intensive rehabilitation, he is walking again and has regained partial function in his left arm. Shlomo was one of the first patients to be treated at the Hadassah Medical Organization’s newly opened state-of-the-art Gandel Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. Still under construction when Hamas launched its savage attack on Israel on October 7, and Israel declared war on the terrorist group, the center rushed to open its neurology and orthopedic/spinal cord injury departments in early January. Named for its principal donors, Australian philanthropists John and Pauline Gandel, the opening is the first stage of a multifaceted expansion that will triple the Mount Scopus campus in size and increase HMO’s rehab facilities by 250 percent. Before he arrived at the Gandel center, Shlomo’s first-line treatment were surgeries by orthopedic trauma specialist Dr. Yoram Weil and hand MARCH /APRIL 2024

A wounded soldier receives care from a nurse; he is among the first group of patients to be treated at the state-of-the-art Gandel Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus.

and microvascular expert Dr. Shai Luria, at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. From there he went to rehabilitation at Hadassah Mount Scopus, initially to a temporary facility set up in the hospital’s gynecology department. Recovery has been hard work, he said. “The staff challenged me with long, difficult hours of therapy to restore use of my right leg and to mitigate the nerve damage inflicted on my arm by an RPG.” Shlomo is among some 380 wounded who have been treated at HMO during the war’s first three months; that number is increasing by around three soldiers every day. Their injuries are complex and severe— combinations of burns, blast injuries and close-range gunshots—and many will need weeks, months, even years of rehabilitative care.


ehab will be one of the most heavily used words in Israel’s medical vocabulary,” said Dr. Isabella Schwartz, head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Hadassah Mount Scopus. She said

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this early on the morning of October 8, when she was talking with Dr. Tamar Elram, head of the Mount Scopus hospital, about Israel’s future medical needs at one of two critical meetings held at HMO that day. While the Jewish world was reeling in shock and horror at Hamas’s horrific assault on southern Israel, the two physicians were planning for “the overwhelming needs of this new cadre of wounded and the changed reality of the rest of their lives,” Dr. Elram recalled. One immediate need was additional rehab beds and teams. At that point, there were 780 rehab beds in all of Israel—only 60 percent of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average, and this in a country where ongoing regional conflict adds to rehab needs. Two thirds of Israel’s rehab beds were in the Tel Aviv area. Hadassah Mount Scopus was and is the sole rehab facility for the 1.2 million people of Greater Jerusalem, and had just 38 beds. “We scarcely met 30 percent of the need even before the war,” Dr. Elram said. As the war-wounded started streaming in, gynecology depart-

ment beds were assigned to them as a temporary solution, “because the department is newly renovated, and our soldiers deserve the best,” Dr. Elram said. Months later, even after the opening of the Gandel center, part of the department is still being used for rehab, with the sign above the entrance, Machleket Nashim (Women’s Department), eliciting chuckles from recovering soldiers and their visitors. The second crucial meeting on that grim October 8 morning was at the Ein Kerem campus and had been convened by HMO DirectorGeneral Dr. Yoram Weiss. It, too, was about rehab, but focused on the long term. “We’d been working for a decade to increase our capacity,” explained Dr. Weiss, “championed by Hadassah’s chair of the board of directors, Dalia Itzik, after she met a soldier who was traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv every other day for rehab care. On October 8, our new eight-story Gandel Rehabilitation Center was still some six to nine months from completion.”

With the new urgency, the early morning meeting was about how to move up the timeline for its opening. “We brought in labor from abroad and worked around the clock,” Dr. Weiss said. “With dedication, determination and against all odds, we managed to complete two of its four departments less than three months later.”


gor—his last name has not been released by the army—was also among that initial group of patients moved from the gynecology department into the Gandel center on January 2.

The Gandel center, still under construction, will increase the Hadassah Medical Organization’s rehab facilities by 250 percent.


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HADASSAH ON CALL Hadassah On Call, Hadassah’s premier podcast, helps decode today’s top developments in medicine, from new treatments to tips for staying healthy. In each episode, journalist Maayan Hoffman, a third-generation Hadassah member, interviews one of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s top doctors, nurses or medical innovators. In the podcast’s special multipart series on HMO’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, Hoffman talks to Shiri Ben-David, chief psychologist at HMO, as well as other experts in trauma care and rehabilitation. And catch up on the latest episodes, including one on HMO’s protocols for addressing hearing loss due to the war. Subscribe and share your comments at hadassahoncall or wherever you listen to podcasts.


my arms and legs,” said Saar, who still has many weeks of recovery ahead of him. “It’s an overwhelming relief.”

L The Gandel center’s two hydrotherapy pools have floors that drop down to allow wheelchair access.

“I’d been in Gaza only 12 hours when a missile hit my tank,” related the 27-year-old Israel Defense Forces reservist. “I knew immediately I’d lose my leg. The question was how much of it I’d lose.” Igor, who volunteered as soon as news of the Hamas bloodbath broke, remains positive despite amputation of his right leg below the hip. With Hadassah’s occupational and physical therapists, he has spent weeks, with many more ahead, learning to walk again, focusing on gait training and how to balance and transfer his weight with a prothesis. With the loss of a leg, Igor always understood his rehab would be lengthy. In contrast, 27-year-old Saar, also hospitalized in the Gandel center, had “no idea how long a journey it would be,” he said. Saar, like Igor, had packed his bag immediately after the Hamas attack, even before the official IDF mobilization. “Our unit went into northern Gaza and was battling dozens of terrorists,” recalled Saar, whose last name has also not been released. “I sensed a missile coming at me and flung myself to the side.” All his limbs were hit, and five tourniquets were needed to stop the bleeding. At Hadassah Ein Kerem, the

shrapnel was painstakingly picked from Saar’s wounds, his ruptured tendons sewn and his multiple fractures set. Then he was transferred for rehab at Mount Scopus to work on restoring use of his badly damaged arms and legs. “I was expecting to spend a few

“IT’S RARE WHEN YOUR OWN DREAM IS A NATIONAL PRIORITY.” —DR. TAMAR ELRAM, DIRECTOR OF HADASSAH HOSPITAL MOUNT SCOPUS days there to finish healing, and then go back to fight,” he said. “Saar had a hard time with the gap between his expectations—a quick rehab and regained independence—and the slow reality of healing, and our strict protocol to return his function without further damaging his muscles and tendons,” said occupational therapist Hagit Gal. Weeks later, his perseverance has started to pay off. “I feel real improvement in everything related to moving MARCH /APRIL 2024

ocated in its own building set apart from the main Mount Scopus campus, the Gandel center is “more a place of recovery and well-being than a hospital,” said construction coordinator Yuval Adar, deputy director-general and CFO of HMO. “Even a decade ago, the need for it was so urgent that we began building with less than a quarter of the funding in hand. We put up its shell and began on the interior as contributions came in—with special impetus, of course, from the Gandel Foundation of Australia. We still don’t have sufficient funds to complete it and must wait for further donations.” The Gandel center is designed as a “home away from home” for patients, said the center’s architect, Arthur Spector, whose dozens of projects in Israel include Hadassah Ein Kerem’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. The patient is the Gandel center’s focus, provided every kind of care and therapy by an anticipated team of close to 300 physicians and nurses; occupational, physical and speech therapists; psychologists and social workers; and dietitians and administrators. Open and spacious, natural light pours in through the building’s large windows and wide balconies. Hoists in all its single and double inpatient rooms help patients from bed to bathroom and back. Once fully open, the Gandel center will accommodate 140 inpatients and 250 outpatients. It will also have onsite dialysis, imaging facilities and a post-traumatic stress disorder center. High-tech walking labs will use robotics and computers to analyze

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problems not apparent in clinical exams, with equipment that includes adaptations of a machine that teaches astronauts to walk in zero gravity. Its two hydroptherapy pools, scheduled to open soon, will have floors that lower for wheelchair access. There will also be two dining rooms, prayer rooms on each floor, overnight facilities for families and a rooftop healing garden. The building’s underground parking levels, accessed by ramp, can be converted into a sheltered hospital in times of emergency. “We’ve worked to define and meet the needs of the next 50 years,” said Ilan Levi, HMO’s director of planning, building and maintenance, and the new building’s chief of design and

If you are 701/2 or over, you can make a charitable gift directly from your traditional IRA to Hadassah (up to $105,000 across all charities).

construction. “We’ve even provided for an onsite technological incubator.” Similar to Hadasit, HMO’s technology transfer company, the incubator will bring in commercial companies to develop cutting-edge rehab technology.


hlomo, the infantry reservist still contending with nerve damage to his arm from an RPG in Gaza, is spending his final weeks of inpatient rehab in the Gandel center. “It’s not easy being injured, in pain and dependent, but the Hadassah team makes it as good as it can be,” he said. “The cheeriness, openness and roominess of the new building is a different world from Mount Scopus’s old rehab depart-

ment—for me, my wife and our three little ones who visit.” “For me, the Gandel center is the best rehab facility anywhere, and I expect it still to be the best 10 years from now,” said Mount Scopus rehabilitation head Dr. Schwartz. “It’s rare when your own dream is a national priority,” added Dr. Elram, the Hadassah Mount Scopus director. “We’ve planned this center for years and have opened it when Israel needs it most. I pray it’ll help our patients redefine hope, health and life, and rehabilitate the bodies, minds and spirits not only of those whom we treat but of our entire nation.” Wendy Elliman is a British-born science writer who has lived in Israel for more than four decades.

USE YOUR IRA TO MAKE A TAX-SMART GIFT TO HADASSAH YOUR BENEFITS: Support Hadassah’s lifesaving mission today.

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1/26/24 10:14 AM


In Sorrow and Solidarity Supporting Israelis and bearing witness to their pain

A Mission Like No Other


early 50 hadassah members and supporters traveled to Israel for a solidarity mission in January to “bear witness,” said Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz. Schwartz and other organizational leaders hand-delivered a petition to the International Com-

mittee of the Red Cross’s Tel Aviv office, demanding the humanitarian organization visit Israeli hostages. The delegation also met with hostage families and Israeli officials, including President Isaac Herzog (in photo with Schwartz, left, and First Lady Michal Herzog), and they visited communities in the South devastated by the Hamas terror attack as well as the site of the Nova music festival, where they lit candles (top photo).

Holocaust Survivor Receives Germany’s Highest Honor


wo days after holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan received the German Order of Merit in January, she spoke to students at Covert Elementary School in South Hempstead, N.Y. A few days later she held a virtual visit with students in Sioux Falls, S.D. It’s a rigorous pace, but at 89, Lazan is a woman on a mission. “This is the last generation that will hear first-hand from a Holocaust survivor, so we are running as fast as we can to reach young people,” said Lazan, a life member of Hadassah and one-time president of the Hewlett, N.Y., chapter. According to a comprehensive new report released by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, fewer than 250,000 survivors are alive today, 18 percent of whom reside in the United States. Lazan was nearly 6 when she, her parents and brother escaped Nazi Germany for Holland. Eventually,

they were caught and spent six years in various concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen. All four survived, but her father died of typhus after liberation. In 1948, the remaining family immigrated to America

wasn’t until her memoir, Four Perfect Pebbles, was published in 1996 that she began zigzagging the globe to speak with students. (Read more about Marion Blumenthal Lazan and Holocaust education on page 22.) She has received many awards, and there’s even a high school in Lazan with German Consul Germany named in her honor. But General in it’s the Order of Merit—Germany’s New York highest civilian honor—that she David Gill says feels the most personal and poignant. Given the history of 80 years ago, Lazan said, she could never imagine that Germany “would someday give so prestigious an award to a Jewish woman.” As she sees it, the award, which comes at a time of surging and settled in Peoria, Ill. There she antisemitism, illustrates Germany’s met her husband of more than 70 commitment to spread the lessons years, Nathaniel. They raised three of the Holocaust, which Lazan said children and now dote on nine grandboil down to “kindness and empathy. children and 12 great-grandchildren. How we treat each other is entirely Lazan started speaking publicly up to us.” about her experiences in 1979, but it —Cathryn J. Prince


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A Hadassah Mother Mourns Her Murdered Son


ince october 10, julie bausi has been in pain. Her heart hurts, her uterus aches, she feels like she just gave birth. Except that Bausi is 51 and what she’s experiencing is a phantom pain of sorts, the desperate agony of losing her son, Itai Bausi. The 22-year-old soldier was murdered by Hamas terrorists at the Nova desert rave on October 7. It took three days for his family to receive confirmation of his death. In some ways, the pain is in direct contrast to Bausi’s description of herself as “a lax mom” raising her four kids in the protected environment of Kibbutz Kvutzat Yavne, near Ashdod in central Israel. Bausi, a Hadassah life member who was born and raised in Queens, N.Y., would not have labeled herself a worrier. (She made aliyah at the age of 24.) Itai had gone to the Nova party with friends late Friday night after having Shabbat dinner with his family. As the rockets began falling at 6:30 in the morning, Itai and close friend Ben Mizrachi, a lone soldier from Vancouver, tried to drive home but terrorists blocked their car at the exit. Their other friends had taken a different route and made it home. When news of the attack began filtering in, the Bausis tried to phone Itai. The next day, with the help of his friends who had survived, they began piecing together what happened to their son. They heard about his bravery, how Itai went back to the site of the party without a weapon, “just some apples in his bag,” his mother recounted. The family learned

Julie Bausi is grieving the death of her son, Itai, seen here as a toddler held by his mother and as a soldier with both parents. Itai was killed by Hamas terrorists at the Nova music festival.

that he had helped people who had been injured, taking them to the first aid tent with the help of Mizrachi, an army medic. “They were waiting for the army to get there, trying to hold down the fort,” Bausi said. When the terrorists closed in, Itai tried to escape but was shot in the back and in his leg. He sent a voice message to his girlfriend, Carmel, telling her he loved her. Having lost track of Mizrachi, he also tried to call him, but Mizrachi, too, had been

shot; his body was also discovered days later. Bausi sometimes wishes that Itai would have been killed while fighting in Gaza. Surrounded by his comrades, she said, where he would have left the world knowing that his people were helping him, trying to save him. “That scenario of him dying alone is very, very hard for me,” Bausi said, “even more than knowing I’m never going to see him again. I couldn’t think of anything worse.” —Jessica Steinberg


convened the inaugural meeting of a study circle that would evolve into Hadassah. That Adloyada (from the Talmudic phrase stating that on Purim one should celebrate “ad delo yada,” “until one no longer knows,” usually due to excessive drinking, the difference between Haman and Mordechai) featured edgy costumes, irreverent floats and revelry that would become a hallmark of the Purim parades still held throughout Israel.

Jews worldwide observe Purim as a day of feasting, gladness and sending gifts to the poor on Adar 14. So why do Jerusalemites celebrate on Adar 15, and what other Purim customs are unique to Israel? According to the Talmud, cities that have been walled since the time of Joshua (approximately 1250 BCE) observe the holiday on Adar 15. And only one city in the world, Jerusalem, can definitively claim such status, though others such as Safed observe some Purim rituals on both dates. Purim in the holy city is celebrated on what is known as Shushan Purim, Adar 15. Shushan is the name of an ancient Persian capital and the setting for the Queen Esther story. A Purim parade, or Adloyada, was first staged in the Land of Israel, in Tel Aviv, in 1912—at the same time that Henrietta Szold, more than 5,000 miles away in New York, MARCH /APRIL 2024

Oznei haman, rather than hamantaschen, is the Hebrew name given to the ubiquitous Purim cookies in Israel. Meaning “Haman’s ears,” the sweet treats are typically made with shortbread dough and are sweeter and crisper than most American varieties. Visit and search for “oznei” to find our recipe for Nutella-stuffed oznei haman adapted from Shany Bakery in Haifa.

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Barbados and Its Jews Singular Jewish history in a tropical paradise By Jenni Frazer



am lying on a sunbed in the courtyard of a delightful pink-andwhite hotel sipping a delicious cocktail and watching the sun go down over the west coast of Barbados. I could easily relax here for months amid the pristine white-sand beaches and clear blue waters of this easternmost Caribbean island. But there are places to explore and stories to be told. And one of the most compelling is that of the Jews of Barbados, who over the centuries met with impressive economic success despite occasional anti-Jewish sentiment. Indeed, this laid-back island has a singular Jewish history that stretches back to the 17th century. It’s a legacy that Britain’s King Charles, then still the Prince of Wales, highlighted in 2019 when he toured Barbados and visited Nidhe Israel Synagogue, a moment now memorialized by a plaque hanging in the historic house of worship. In 1628, a group of 300 Dutch Sephardi Jews left Recife, Brazil, then under Dutch rule, and settled in Barbados, which had been claimed by the English only three years earlier. This was the first wave of Jewish settlement on the island. Almost 30 years later, a second group of Jews left Brazil. This time, they went first to Amsterdam and then to London, seeking official clearance to immigrate to Barbados from

Britain’s lord protector, Oliver Cromwell. In 1654, he granted the petitioning Jews a letter of safe passage. The man bearing that precious letter on the sea journey was Dr. Abraham de Mercado. His son, David Rafael de Mercado, who traveled with him, brought pioneering sugarmilling technology first developed in Recife that would revolutionize the Barbados sugar industry. Neal Rechtman, a native New Yorker who now lives on the island and offers tours of local Jewish sights, explained the importance of de Mercado’s machine to me. “David Rafael de Mercado invented a new device to be put inside a Dutch wind-

mill,” he said, “a mechanism that turned the windmill itself into a sugar factory.” Sugar cane already was grown on Barbados, but crushing it was a laborious process—until, Rechtman said, the Jews arrived. One might assume, given the Jewish contribution to the sugar trade, that Jews would have become powerful plantation owners, too. But a 1688 law prohibited Jews from owning more than three acres of land—and, crucially, from having more than three slaves. No sooner had the Jews arrived in Barbados than they built two synagogues: a small one in Speightstown, in the northern part of the island, which no longer exists, and Nidhe Israel, opened in 1654 along with a cemetery and mikveh. At the time of its construction, Nidhe Israel was the first synagogue building in the Western hemisphere. Following extensive restoration over the last few decades, it now stands at the heart of the Synagogue Historic District in central Bridgetown, Barbados’s lively capital on its western coast. Some of the island’s wealthiest

Nidhe Israel’s coral-pink exterior, adjacent cemetery and (opposite page) sanctuary


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Read about Barbados’s Jewish history and plan your visit at Learn more about the island’s contemporary Jewish community at Make the Synagogue Historic District in Bridgetown your first stop. Built in 1750, the onetime Jewish school has been transformed into a state-of-the-art museum that explores Jewish life in Barbados through interactive exhibits, videos and hands-on installations.

Next door, Nidhe Israel Synagogue’s coral-pink exterior is a tropical counterpoint to the typical Dutch Sephardi design of its interior. The light-filled sanctuary features stark white walls, arched windows and a central bimah surrounded by wooden benches. Columns support the women’s balcony above and large brass chandeliers hang from the doubleheight ceiling. In the adjacent cemetery, stroll among rows of tombstones with epitaphs written in Hebrew, Ladino and English and be on the lookout for the resting place of sugar pioneer David Rafael de Mercado. His distinctive 1658

Jews of the 17th and 18th centuries are buried in the cemetery adjacent to Nidhe Israel, along with the celebrated rabbi Raphael Hayyim Isaac Carregal. An itinerant teacher and Sephardi Jew, Carregal was born in Hebron in 1733, then in the Ottoman Empire, and is thought to have been

George Washington House and Museum

triangle-shaped marker—the oldest in the cemetery—was carved in Italy. Chabad of Barbados, which offers kosher takeout as well as Shabbat morning services and meals, is situated along the island’s west coast within walking distance of a range of accommodations. In 1751, George Washington and his older half-brother, Lawrence, lived for two months at Bush Hill House, a small plantation

the most-traveled rabbi in history before the invention of railroads. He died in Barbados in 1777. At its peak in 1750, census data shows a distinct Jewish population of 800, out of 18,000 white islanders. Around the same time, a number of Jews opted to marry into the local English community in an effort to assimilate. As a result, many Barbadians today claim to have Sephardi ancestors somewhere in their family tree. The fortunes of the Jewish community paralleled that of the local sugar industry. When a hurricane hit Barbados in 1831, devastating the sugar business, it likewise set in motion the decline of the island’s Jewry. The storm, which killed some 1,500 in Barbados and flattened much of the island, also destroyed the original Nidhe Israel; 90 worshipers raised funds for its reconstruction, which was completed in 1833. But by 1929, most Jews had left the island. The synagogue was sold and subsequently used as commercial offices and a law library until the MARCH /APRIL 2024

home just outside Bridgetown that is today open to tourists as George Washington House and Museum. Barbados was the only country outside America visited by Washington. Mount Gay Rum, one of the island’s biggest employers, runs 45-minute-long tours at its factory. Screen the short film explaining the process of rum production and then enjoy a tasting session of different kinds of rum—some, but not all, are kosher.

Jewish community reclaimed the site in the 1980s. In the early 1930s, a new wave of Jews arrived, this time Ashkenazim fleeing persecution in Nazi Europe. Today, the island is home to descendants of those Jews as well as a handful of transplants from Britain and the United States—altogether, about 100 Jews. The Nidhe Israel congregation, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement and holds regular Friday night services, brings in a rabbi from the United States for major festivals. In winter, the population swells as tourists arrive; some years, more than 150 people attend Hanukkah festivities. Now, the community is promoting Nidhe Israel as a destination for weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs. Think of them as simchas in the sun. You might even try a cocktail or two. Jenni Frazer is a veteran Jewish journalist and former assistant editor of The Jewish Chronicle. Now a freelancer, she writes for many publications in Britain, the United States and Israel.

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Support, Shop Port Market in Tel Aviv reopened within two weeks of the Hamas attacks so that vendors from the Gaza border region, like farmer Shlomo Abarbanel (right), could sell their products.

Food world insiders contribute to Israel’s war effort By Adeena Sussman


or shir halpern, co-founder of Tel Aviv’s leading farmers’ market, the urge to do something positive and productive after October 7 was almost immediate. As a primary force behind Port Market, which since 2008 has gathered growers and purveyors at the city’s lively northern port every Friday for an outdoor showcase of produce, olive oil, cheeses, baked goods and other

items, she instinctively knew how to triage within the artisan food world. “The first need was labor,” said Halpern, who began by organizing volunteers—many of them longtime customers of her vendors—to help pick produce on farms bordering Gaza. “If our farmers couldn’t pick, they couldn’t sell.” Within two weeks of the start of the war, Port Market had reopened,

Coconut, Orange and Chocolate Chip Cake Serves 8 to 10 1/2 cup vegetable or other

neutral oil, plus more for greasing pan 5 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups almond flour 1 1/2 cups dried coconut 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 cup chocolate chips Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange (1 1/2 tablespoons zest, 1/2 cup juice)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 10-inch round baking pan with oil. 2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy, then whisk in the orange juice, zest, 1/2 cup oil and vanilla until incorporated. 3. Add the almond flour, coconut and sugar and mix until smooth, then fold in the chocolate chips until just incorporated. 4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until the center is set and a tester comes out with crumbs attached. Cool and serve. Cake keeps, refrigerated, for 4 days.


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srael has become a nation of volunteers. Starting on October 7, ordinary citizens rushed to assist their country in its time of need, with tens of thousands mobilizing within days—in some cases, hours—to help in any way they could. For those in the food world, efforts often congregated around the kitchen. For cookbook author and television personality Shaily Lipa, springing into service was a way to manage the worry she feels for her son, Itamar, a 20-year-old combat soldier who was called up October 8 and who has since mostly been in Gaza. At Asif culinary institute in Tel Aviv, Lipa, the author of 13 cookbooks, including Yassu, a compendium of Greek recipes expected this summer, hosted two gatherings for women who had been displaced from their homes. Each combined a cooking class with a Talmud lesson from scholar Chaya Gilboa. Participants prepared dishes, including zucchini fritters and baked feta, while Gilboa


‘You Don’t Have to Be a Soldier to Serve’

and Halpern has hosted a minimum of 10 vendors from both the northern and southern borders free of charge since, even allowing them to come during the week, when the market is typically closed, to sell their offerings. “Beyond the sales that help them financially, our farmers really love the support they get from the community,” said Halpern, who has seen customers step behind the register to help ring up and bag sales as staffing remains an issue. “There are small, comforting moments we’re seeing every week that allow us to be even a little bit optimistic.”


took them through a Talmudic tract about viewing destruction as an opportunity for renewal. Asif staff also launched Open Kitchen initiative, where Tel Aviv-area residents host displaced people in their kitchens to prepare favorite comfort foods. So far, participants have cooked delicacies such as the Yemenite Shabbat bread Kubaneh, Persian beet soup and Moroccan fish stew. Feeling at home in Israel—and having the ability to participate in relief efforts—can be challenging for new immigrants (olim) to Israel, who contend with cultural and language barriers. Many turned to Citrus & Salt, an English-language cooking school, to both give and receive solace and support. “So many olim needed a place to feel a sense of togetherness,” said Aliya Fastman, who made aliyah in

Peanut Butter and Blueberry Hamantaschen Makes 40 cookies

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons almond flour 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold butter, cut into cubes 1 beaten egg, plus 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon cold water 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter 1/2 cup blueberries

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, 1/2 cup almond flour and confectioners’ sugar and mix at medium speed until the

2010 and started Citrus & Salt in 2016 with her sister, Sheindl Davis. “Almost overnight, we bonded into an ironclad community.” The school, which paused its classes after October 7, has produced more than 30,000 kosher meals prepared by volunteers, the most popular featuring peanut noodles and coconut chicken curry. Now that demand for meals has decreased as some reservists return from the front and civil infrastructure is catching up with the needs of the displaced, Citrus & Salt is hosting Shabbat dinners and looking into offering mishloach manot for Purim and arranging a Passover seder. They also organize groups of volunteers to pick crops at farms faced with labor shortages. “I very much believe you don’t have to be a solder to serve,” Fastman said.

mixture resembles large crumbs, 20 to 30 seconds.

2. Reduce the speed to mediumlow, add the egg yolk, water and vanilla, and mix until a unified dough forms, 20 to 30 seconds. 3. Divide the dough into two

equal-sized pieces. Form each half into a 5-inch disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes.

4. While the dough is chilling,

Service was all Maya Darin, culinary director of Bishulim, Tel Aviv’s largest cooking school, had in mind after the Hamas attacks, when its professional-track courses screeched to a halt. She began by raiding the school’s pantry, then raising money from a variety of sources both locally and abroad to produce, through December, thousands of meals for soldiers and displaced citizens. Hopefully, these Peanut Butter and Blueberry Hamantaschen developed by Darin will bring a ray of light to your Purim celebrations, as will Passover recipes from Lipa for a pomegranate-glazed salmon (available at and an orange coconut cake. Adeena Sussman is the author of Shabbat: Recipes and Rituals from My Kitchen to Yours and Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen. She lives in Tel Aviv.

to roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch-round cookie cutter to cut circles out of the dough (extra dough can be gathered, chilled slightly, then rerolled).

6. Use 2 spoons to scoop 2 tea-

spoons of the peanut butter filling in the center of each circle, then top with 3 blueberries. Brush the edges of the circles with the beaten egg and fold into hamantaschen, pinching at the ends.

combine the peanut butter and remaining 3 tablespoons almond flour in a bowl and mix until incorporated.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. One at a time, unwrap the discs of chilled dough and, on a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin MARCH /APRIL 2024

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Chill the hamantaschen on the baking sheets for 20 minutes.

7. Bake until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes.


Max, here at the Copenhagen fish market, is one of three fictional characters in ‘Courage to Act.’

A Holocaust Story for Children 9 and Up Inspiring empathy and fighting antisemitism in a younger generation | By Jane L. Levere



ow on display at the Museum of Jewish HeritageA Living Memorial to the Holocaust in downtown Manhattan is a powerful new exhibit for children with a message about a surprisingly uplifting chapter of Holocaust history: the rescue of Denmark’s Jewish population and the resistance of Danes—both Jewish and non-Jewish—to Nazi Germany. This story of empathy and bravery is known as one of the most effective acts of national resistance during the Holocaust, and the exhibit, opened in October in honor of the 80th anniversary of that rescue, is the first show at the museum designed specifically for children ages 9 and up. Through immersive displays, archival recordings, illustrations and state-of-the-art technology, “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” unravels the Nazi occupation of Denmark, from 1940 to 1945. The Jewish population of the country then numbered approximately 8,000. The Danish government, which remained largely independent until 1943, when the country was placed under military occupation, refused to pass antiJewish laws. When the Germans

made plans to arrest and deport the Jewish population in 1943 around the High Holidays, the Danes, almost overnight, mobilized hundreds of fishing vessels to evacuate most of the nation’s Jews to Sweden, where they were accepted as refugees. In the exhibit, the bravery of those who lived in Denmark during the occupation are conveyed through a trio of inspiring fictional residents of Copenhagen: Erik, a 14-year-old nonJewish resistance fighter; Rebekka, a 16-year-old Czech Jewish refugee; and Max, a 10-year-old Jewish Dane. The three appear throughout the exhibit on screens set within immersive displays. Young museum-goers can follow their stories and relate to the fears and hopes of that era through the perspectives of fellow children.


e targeted this age group as this is a time when kids are grappling with issues of what’s fair and unfair and beginning to develop their moral compasses,” Ellen Bari, exhibit curator, explained about the choice to reach younger children. “While prejudice can rear its ugly head at the


playground, by age 9, children can feel empowered to make moral decisions and say no to all forms of ‘othering.’ ” Max, Rebekka and Erik are brought to three-dimensional life by actors and the award-winning design studio Local Projects, which mined the testimonies of survivors for background. Quotes from actual Danish survivors are scattered throughout the exhibit alongside illustrations by Ukrainian-born Israeli artist Sveta Dorosheva. “Courage to Act” opens with a display of the Copenhagen fish market, the city’s central meeting point. It is spring 1942, two years into the occupation. Max and Rebekka discuss the experience of having German soldiers in their midst and living with censorship and rationing. Erik expresses his anger at the Germans. Exhibit-goers learn that, unlike in other occupied countries, the Jews were not forced to wear yellow stars and continued to practice Judaism. A large diorama of the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen, which still stands today, provides a taste of its grandeur. Included, too, is a reenactment of the warning from Rabbi Marcus Melchior on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 1943 about the imminent danger of Nazi arrest. Melchior led the Copenhagen Jewish community and, after the war, became chief rabbi of Denmark. “Courage to Act” features a section that the museum calls “discovery walls”—two buildings on a city streetscape. The first building is dedicated to the resistance efforts; the second focuses on the response to the Nazis’ decision to deport the Jews. Seen through windows and doorways in both are the exhibit’s fictional narrators. Erik describes some of the resistance activity of young people; Rebekka shares her

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A young visitor looks at a display with illustrations by Israeli artist Sveta Dorosheva.

life in Denmark without her family; and Max feverishly packs to flee. As word of the Germans’ intent to expel the Jewish population leaked out, Jews went into hiding and made plans to escape. Over 7,000 crossed the Oresund Strait, which separates Denmark and Sweden, using every vessel available, from small fishing

boats to the Gerda III, a lighthouse tender. One of the most impressive displays is a model of the Gerda III, which also serves as a projection screen for a film that dramatizes the crossing of the Oresund. The exhibition concludes with the liberation of Theresienstadt, where the approximately 475 Jews who


over 14,873 students in classrooms and at tours of the museum. “The only way to fight antisemitism is to teach,” Margulies said about the initiative. “Without knowing history, history repeats itself, and you’re seeing this unfold today.” As part of the museum’s “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” exhibit, Margulies, a board member of the museum, recently took part in a discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Kluger about his book, Hamlet’s Children, a historical novel set in Nazi-occupied Denmark. She subsequently spoke with Hadassah Magazine about the exhibit and her own efforts to support Holocaust education and speak out about Israel and antisemitism. This interview had been edited for brevity and clarity.

Emmy Award-winning actor Julianna Margulies is a longtime activist in the fight against antisemitism and an outspoken supporter of Israel. At the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, she is also involved in outreach efforts to the younger generation. In 2022, Margulies—currently starring in The Morning Show and best known for her roles in the television series ER and The Good Wife— donated funds raised from her participation in television specials for International Holocaust Remembrance Day to establish the Holocaust Educator School Partnership (HESP). Through the initiative, university undergraduate and graduate interns are trained by museum staffers to teach Holocaust history to students at middle and high schools at partnering New York City public schools. To date, the partnership has trained 23 interns who have taught

You spoke at the Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit in mid-October, sponsored by Variety magazine. Why do you think more celebrities are not speaking out in support of Jews? I’ve been trying to get past feeling so dis-

Julianna Margulies (right) with a group of HESP interns

were captured by the Nazis in Denmark were sent, and the return of Danish Jewish refugees living in Sweden to Copenhagen in 1945. The new ongoing exhibit is designed to help Jews and non-Jews reflect on the dangers of antisemitism. It empowers young people by modeling moral choices, said Bari, the curator, “demonstrating that they can be made even under extremely challenging circumstances.” Jane L. Levere is a New York-based freelance journalist and contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and, among many publications. She is also a life member of Hadassah.

heartened by it…and understand why every single person in our industry isn’t standing up. It is shocking. Maybe they are afraid of losing followers? It’s just insane to me. That’s not how I roll. Can you share your experiences in publicly advocating for Israel and against antisemitism? I have gotten death threats…and there are some days I just want to shut up and stay quiet and hide under my covers, and other days when I want to fight for human rights. So, I vacillate between thinking it’s too difficult and I’m not doing enough. What was your reaction to the “Courage to Act” exhibit? The most important gift you can give a child is to raise them to be empathetic. That’s what “Courage to Act” to me is all about and it is what the HESP program is all about. I was blown away by the exhibit. You have to find a nuanced way to be able to tell young children the story of the Holocaust without horrifying them. It is also vital to plant the seed of love, not hate. This exhibit is about heroes, and also about something I’m not seeing enough in today’s world, which is non-Jews protecting their Jewish brothers and sisters. —Jane L. Levere


Fabric of Their Lives Showcasing a group of Lower East Side women who changed our world | By Cathryn J. Prince on fabric by multimedia artist Adrienne Ottenberg in her first solo show, “28 Remarkable Women and One Scoundrel,” now at the museum housed in the iconic Eldridge Street Synagogue. The exhibition, which runs through May 5, also includes Christian and Black and Chinese women who lived and worked on the Lower East Side in the early 1900s. Printed on silk and cotton in muted shades of blue, violet, cream and brown, each work of art includes historic maps that connect Fabric banners of Pauline Newman (left) and Dora Welfowitz as well the women to the Lower as 27 other women hang at the Museum at Eldridge Street. East Side or other parts ith arms folded across of New York City. the front of a crisp white The banners are placed throughshirt, the portrait of out the first floor and gallery rooms, Pauline Newman embodies determiwith several in the stairwell and in nation. Her black skirt is populated the women’s balcony of the synawith squares that, upon close inspecgogue. Each is accompanied by a tion, reveal themselves to be tenement small plaque with descriptions of the windows. The image, on a life-sized woman’s life. fabric banner at the Museum at While Ottenberg’s medium is Eldridge Street on Manhattan’s ethereal—the banners flutter and Lower East Side, is a fitting depiction float in their spaces—the stories she of the labor rights activist. Before tells are not. she became the first female general There is garment worker Dora organizer of the International Ladies Welfowitz, who lived at 11 Division Garment Workers Union in 1909, she Street and died alongside 146 other had led the largest rent strike in the young women in the Triangle Shirtcity’s history. waist Factory fire in 1911. The Newman, who emigrated as a catastrophe, due largely to poor child from Lithuania, is one of 11 working conditions, led to changes Jewish women portrayed in portraits in worker safety regulations. Her




hair is shown fanning away from her face like a flame, and the map that makes up her dress is a copy of one used by the fire department of her era to navigate the streets of Manhattan. Feminist and health care activist Fania Mindell’s portrait includes a map of Brooklyn. A co-founder with Margaret Sanger and Ethel Byrne of Brooklyn’s Brownsville Clinic, the first birth control clinic in the United States, Mindell disseminated information about birth control in Yiddish, Russian and Italian—actions that got her arrested. Other notable Jewish figures featured include Yiddish theater actor Molly Picon, poet Emma Lazarus and activist Emma Goldman. And then there is the titular “scoundrel”—local Jewish petty criminal Stiff Rivka. “Adrienne Ottenberg’s striking portraits inhabit the museum’s historic space with important stories to tell, some familiar, many forgotten,” said Nancy Johnson, the museum’s curator and archivist. “The exhibition connects us to the past in a meaningful way—to our Lower East Side neighborhood and to these women whose legacies continue to affect our lives today.” Ottenberg’s inspiration for the show stems from a visit to the Eldridge Street Synagogue back in the 1990s. After visiting the women’s gallery, she began wondering about the women who once inhabited the area. “There was this contrast between the beautiful Eldridge Street Synagogue and the craziness of the neighborhood,” said the artist, who lives in Manhattan. “It’s disruptive in a beautiful way, like the women.” Cathryn J. Prince is the author of several nonfiction books, most recently Queen of the Mountaineers: The Trailblazing Life of Fanny Bullock Workman.

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Pointing a Female Lens on Purim

Answers on page 58

Pointing a Female Lens on Purim

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Some July babies and Julia Roberts water mate and kin 17. Coll. entrance exams 77. She played 1A in a 32. Star Wars the program, Author who called 9. Not just “a” 37. Where Velvet Fond ___, Wis. 55. Officer's58. shoulder 82. "What's gotten ___ 19. Secret rival 1960 film initially a first ons of 47-across 10. Guatemala neighbor won a raceornament 59. Comedians you?" 24. First name and last 81. Dole’s 1996 running nd for woman s rights 33. River nymph 11. Scientific tendency 40. Monogram of the Cosmetic touted 83. Work boot feature brand Bob and Chris initial of onetime Laker with 56. Where bad good? mate and kin 34. is Fencing blade toward chaos 27th U.S. president by Penelope Cruz and Julia 84. French summers a three-pointer record 62. Lines descending What U.S. George 82. “What’s gotten ___ 35. pres. Calendar abbr. 12. Siren luring sailors 42. C.S. Lewis’s magical Roberts 85. Body art, for short 26. Name that means "Lord from a common 1) is sometimes you?” 36. 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Lovers, Resistors and Aristocrats New books share unlikely Holocaust accounts



The Counterfeit Countess: The Jewish Woman Who Rescued Thousands of Poles During the Holocaust By Elizabeth B. White and Joanna Sliwa (Simon & Schuster) The titular “countess” of this remarkable new Holocaust account was a mathematics professor who believed that it was worthwhile to risk one life to save many, even if that life was her own. Her name was Janina Mehlberg. A Jew, she posed as Countess Janina Suchodolska after the Nazi occupation of Poland. In that role, she saved thousands of Poles imprisoned at the Majdanek concentration camp. The story of how, in her guise as a Catholic aristocrat, she became an officer in the Polish resistance is brought to life by historians Elizabeth B. White and Joanna Sliwa. Just as interesting as Mehlberg’s story is the circuitous route by which the two came to discover and publish her tale. In the early 1960s, by then living in the United States and working as a professor of mathematics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Mehlberg wrote a memoir but was unable to get it published. Decades later, after Mehlberg passed away, a professor at the University of Florida who had been given the manuscript by Mehlberg’s husband, Henry, forwarded it to White. He was aware that she had recently presented a paper on Majdanek. As the book explains, White had

known about the countess, but she still found the specifics detailed in the manuscript unbelievable—including that a Jew, in disguise, was able to get food and medicine into Majdanek and even persuade Nazi officials to release prisoners. White’s efforts to confirm Mehlberg’s account independently were unsuccessful until 2017. At that time, White, employed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, reached out to Sliwa, a Holocaust expert focusing on Poland, for assistance. Together, using the memoir and extensive research, the two fleshed out Mehlberg’s life before, during and after the Holocaust. In many ways, what they reveal in The Counterfeit Countess defies belief. Mehlberg was the daughter of a wealthy Jewish landowner in Galicia, Poland. She and her philosopher husband, Henry, lived comfortably as professors at a college in Lwów— today Lviv, Ukraine—until Germany invaded Poland in 1939. As part of Hitler’s pact with Stalin, the city was initially under Russian rule, and the Mehlbergs were mostly undisturbed. But once Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Nazis claimed Lwów, their lives became untenable. As their survival was threatened, it was Mehlberg’s ability to stand up to Nazi threats that saved them. To give one example: When the Jews were being forced into a ghetto, the couple arranged to flee Lwów for Lublin, MARCH /APRIL 2024

To escape the Nazis, Janina Mehlberg and husband, Harry, took on new identities as Polish nobility.

but Henry was detained by a German official. His wife argued so strenuously with the official in perfect German that he let Henry go. Her philosophy, she wrote in her memoir, was: “You must not toady to them. You must not let them sniff blood.” The Mehlbergs were able to reach Lublin thanks to a friend of her father’s, Count Andrzej Skrzynski, who promised her identification papers. He did more than that. He provided them with entirely new identities as Polish nobility. Through chutzpah and her leadership role in the Polish Main Welfare Council, Mehlberg not only supplied needed food and medicine for prisoners, she also was able to sneak out information for the Polish resistance movement. One troubling note about Mehlberg’s efforts is that they were largely directed toward non-Jewish Polish political prisoners in Majdanek, who did indeed endure harsh conditions. White and Sliwa do not offer a reason for Mehlberg’s focus on non-Jews, but we can conjecture. Perhaps it was because the resistance organizations she worked for didn’t welcome Jews, and did not know she was Jewish, and that delivering aid to the Jewish areas of the camp posed significant difficulties. In the greatest irony described in the book, after the war, “Janina

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was still popular with the people of Lublin…but if she revealed now she was not the countess she pretended to be, but a Jew, it might tarnish her reputation.” The Counterfeit Countess is a remarkably well-researched, well-told story about a previously unknown hero of World War II. With its descriptions of Polish pogroms before and after the war, it is also a reminder that when it comes to antisemitism, the more things change, the more they stay the same. To quote Mehlberg in a section from her memoir included the final chapter of the book: “Now, years later, I try not to judge but simply to report, since we who continue as members of the human race are obliged to know its capacities, however grim and unbearable the knowledge may be.” —Curt Schleier Curt Schleier, a freelance writer, teaches business writing to corporate executives.

Lovers in Auschwitz: A True Story By Keren Blankfeld (Little, Brown and Company) Can true love be forged in a Nazi concentration camp? Sex, probably, but abiding love? Journalist Keren Blankfeld’s Lovers in Auschwitz, an account of an unlikely love story, provides a strong and poignant answer

eight decades after the Holocaust. Helen “Zippi” Spitzer was a 25-year-old graphic designer when she was sent to Auschwitz. Determined to survive, she took on clerical duties, designed diagrams of the camp for officials and cleaned Nazi uniforms, all of which gave her relative freedom. Another inmate, David Wisnia, 17, a child singing star in Warsaw, was also privileged. His captors had discovered his vocal talents and called upon him to entertain the guards, in addition to other duties such as laundry work. Spitzer had noticed Wisnia at the “Sauna,” where clothing was cleaned and disinfected, and decided to approach him. “She chose me,” Wisnia said in an interview with Blankfeld near the end of his life about his relationship with Spitzer. And so they became romantically involved, meeting at the barracks between crematoria 4 and 5. There, in a space they constructed from piles of prisoners’ clothing, they consummated their relationship, guarded by fellow prisoners who had been bribed with additional food rations. Blankfeld poignantly describes their once-a-month trysts. In brief conversations during their “dates,” Wisnia told Spitzer of his father, an opera lover killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, who had inspired him to MARCH /APRIL 2024

sing. Spitzer, who played the piano and mandolin—she had been in an orchestra in Bratislava—taught her young lover a Hungarian song, “Evening in the Moonlight.” The secret meetings continued for months, and, at one point, the couple made plans to reunite in Warsaw if they were separated after the war.

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ONE BOOK, ONE HADASSAH Join us on Thursday, April 18 at 7 pm ET for an interview with writer and prominent art conservator Rosa Lowinger about Dwell Time: A Memoir of Art, Exile and Repair. In her remarkable book, Cuban-born Lowinger, whose family escaped to Miami after Castro’s revolution, expertly weaves her personal history with her decades of conservation experience, paralleling her work with discussions of generational trauma and the challenges of caring for aging parents. Free and open to all. To register use the QR code here or go to hadassahmagazine. org/books, where you can also read a full review.


An Unlikely Love Story David Wisnia, here in a postwar picture, and Helen ‘Zippi’ Spitzer fell for each other amid the death and destruction of Auschwitz.


But their lives went in different directions. Wisnia escaped captivity and was rescued by American soldiers. From Auschwitz, Spitzer was sent to several other camps before escaping during a death march. Amid the chaos of postwar Europe, Spitzer made it to Feldafing displaced persons camp in the American zone of occupied Germany. Wisnia found a job with the American military and delivered supplies to Feldafing. Yet the former lovers’ paths never crossed. At one point, Spitzer traveled to Warsaw and waited for Wisnia to no avail. Blankfeld first came across their story when interviewing Wisnia in 2018 for an article on World War II refugees. For her book, she sup-

HEROES AT THE SEDER New Haggadahs not only remind us of the redemption from Egypt but also of those who have risen up in recent years to combat hate, lead in times of fear and provide defense and safety for our people. The Heroes Haggadah: Lead the Way to Freedom by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen (Behrman House) sprinkles traditional texts with anecdotes from the lives of contemporary luminaries. In The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada by Stuart Halpern and Jacob Kupietzky (Maggid Books), the holiday liturgy is supplemented with stories of how Americans throughout the ages— from abolitionists to presidents to jazz critics—found inspiration in the Exodus story. And dedicated to “the citizens of Israel,” The Chinitz Zion Haggadah: How to Teach the Love of Israel at Your Seder by Marvin Aaron Chinitz (Gefen) brings to life the heroism and sacrifices of modernday Zionists. For full reviews and more Haggadahs, go to hadassahmagazine. org/books.

plemented that account with an unpublished memoir by Spitzer as well as interviews with historians and recorded accounts of her story. Lovers at Auschwitz ably places the couple’s story into historical context, beginning with the Nazis’ rise to power in the 1930s and deftly continuing through to Wisnia and Spitzer’s final years. In September 1945, Spitzer married Erwin Tichauer, the Feldafing camp’s acting police chief. She and her husband, a trained bioengineer and university professor, then moved to Australia and, eventually, to the United States, ending up in New York City, where he taught bioengineering at New York University. For his part, Wisnia arrived in the United States not long after the war and, in short order, married and started a family. Based in Levittown, Pa., he became vice president of sales for an encyclopedia company and served as a cantor at his congregation for many years. In the mid-1960s, he learned that the woman he had loved in Auschwitz was living in New York City. A mutual friend arranged a get-together and Wisnia drove the two hours to Manhattan for a meeting in a hotel lobby across from Central Park. She never showed up. “I found out after,” Wisnia told Blankfeld, “that she decided it wouldn’t be smart. She was married; she had a husband.” Wisnia kept tabs on her through their mutual friends and, in 2016, reached out again and she agreed to a reunion. Her husband had died in 1996, and she was ill and homebound. The reunion was in her apartment. At first, she did not recognize her long-lost love. Then something clicked and they began talking in MARCH /APRIL 2024

English. After reminding him that she had saved his life five times, she added: “I was waiting for you.” She had loved him, she told him quietly. He had loved her, too, he said. And then he sang the Hungarian song of their youth. They never saw each other again. She died in 2018 at age 100. He died three years later at 94. Their reunion occurred 72 years after they first met. Theirs is a love story like no other. It is a privilege to share and honor it. —Stewart Kampel Stewart Kampel was a longtime editor at The New York Times.


The Hebrew Teacher: Three Novels By Maya Arad. Translated by Jessica Cohen (New Vessel Press) Devotees of Israeli literature may already be familiar with Maya Arad, considered one of the foremost Hebrew writers living today, and her most recently translated book, a compilation of three novellas— in order, the titular “The Hebrew Teacher,” “A Visit (Scenes)” and “Make New Friends”—offers many rewards. First among them are her richly drawn portraits of three Israeli women, each the main character of one novella. Arad, a writer-in-residence at Stanford University, knows the terrain she vividly depicts. The first and second stories in the book take place in and around Palo Alto, Calif., home to Stanford, close to countless startups and a magnet for the tens of thousands of highly educated Israeli expats who have come to Silicon Valley hoping to make it big. In “A Visit (Scenes),” Miriam is an octogenarian who visits the United

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States to meet her toddler grandson. She must parse a tense domestic situation between her son, an entrepreneur who has made a bad business decision, and his considerably younger wife, whose disappointment in her spouse oozes off the pages. Arad captures the gestalt of the enclaves these Israelis have formed near Stanford, where it is not unusual to hear Hebrew spoken in the local grocery market and where, more quietly, expats struggle to find the right balance between their identities as comfortable Northern Californians and their frayed connections to their Israeli values. As Efrat, a Stanford biologist and worrying mother to a middle-schooler in the third novella, “Make New Friends,” bemoans about her daughter, “The girl is almost thirteen, for God’s sake! When she was that age, it would never have occurred to her to make her mother get up to bring her stuff. She can’t remember anyone making her breakfast after age ten. She made her own school lunch, too. If she forgot, she went hungry. No one ran after her with a lunch bag.” Yet the character most precipitously sitting on the cusp between an uncertain future and the comfort of the past is Ilana, the Hebrew teacher in the title story. For decades, Ilana has thrived as an adjunct professor at a large Midwestern university. But now she must confront certain realities: declining enrollment in Hebrew-language classes, shifting politics on campus and, most acutely, a new colleague who supports the


By Sandee Brawarsky

Judaism Is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life by Shai Held (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) One of the most highly regarded voices in the American Jewish community, Rabbi Shai Held frames the teachings of Judaism not only around issues of justice and law, but also around love, compassion and emotion. In this original, provocative work, he writes about God, theology and faith in ways that are deep yet also accessible. Engaging with a wide range of thinkers both sacred and secular, Held shows the potential of love to transform individuals—and the world—for the better.

All That Happiness Is: Some Words on What Matters by Adam Gopnik (Liveright) In graceful style, New Yorker cultural critic and author Adam Gopnik draws on personal experience, societal values and the insight of philosophers, scientists and other creative souls to refine the notion of happiness and distinguish between achievement and accomplishment. For him, the latter is the higher goal, entailing the engagement in activity for its own sake, resulting, at its best, in a kind of flow, or loss of self. Expanding his definition to the public sphere, he writes of the pursuit of communal pleasures and believes that the more open a society is, the more space there is for accomplishment.

forgiveness. The author, who spent her childhood moving between Ukraine and Russia, came to the United States as a teenager. The novel, inspired by revelations of a buried history in Vasilyuk’s family, sheds needed light on the situation in Ukraine today.

Victory Parade by Leela Corman (Schocken) This graphic novel opens in Brooklyn in 1942, where a woman and her young daughter await the return of their husband and father from fighting in World War ll. As they wait, they take in a young Jewish refugee from Germany. Both tender and brutal, the beautifully drawn, richly colored frames tell of wrestlers and riveters on the homefront and atrocities abroad that become deeply rooted in those who witness them. Author and illustrator Leela Corman’s focus on antisemitism makes this work particularly timely.

Mother Doll by Katya Apekina (The Overlook Press)

Your Presence Is Mandatory by Sasha Vasilyuk (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Stories exist inside of other stories in this inventive novel, much like the vibrantly colorful nesting dolls that are a Russian tradition. Spanning Petrograd, Boston and Los Angeles, Katya Apekina spins a tale of four generations of mothers and daughters, in the process investigating their secrets, souls, burdens and passions. Apekina’s sentences are richly layered with Russian history and culture. The author escaped from Moscow in 1986 as a young child. While the novel isn’t autobiographical, it draws on her life experience.

Sasha Vasilyuk’s impressive debut novel spans 70 years between World War II and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. At its center is a Jewish Ukrainian soldier whose experience of survival is laced with secrecy. It’s a story of love and trauma, memory and

Sandee Brawarsky is a longtime columnist in the Jewish book world as well as an award-winning journalist, editor and author of several books, including 212 Views of Central Park: Experiencing New York City’s Jewel From Every Angle.


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Lihi Lapid’s ‘On Her Own’ Exploring universal truths in an Israeli context

By Ruth Marks Eglash


ith powerful prose and imagery, Israeli author, journalist and activist Lihi Lapid immerses readers in the lives of two Israeli women in On Her Own (translated by Sondra Silverston; HarperVia). Her protagonists—Nina, a teenage runaway from a poverty-stricken development town and daughter of a Russian immigrant, and Carmela, a lonely Tel Aviv widow with dementia—are from different sectors of society and at different life stages. The 55-year-old Lapid, the wife of former Israeli prime minister and current opposition leader Yair Lapid, cleverly bridges the gaps between the two, creating a gritty psychological drama that explores the universal intricacies of family relationships while telling a distinctly Israeli story. Set between Passover and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, Carmela discovers the battered Nina beneath her apartment building’s stairwell. Confusing


What was your goal in writing the book? My first two books were about what we, as parents, must do for our children, what it means to be a good parent. This book looks at what our kids owe us, or what it means to be a good adult kid. It also looks at the price of relocation. We live in a generation where people move from country to country. What does that mean if you have parents on the other side of the world, when you have kids who do not speak the language of your parents? You wrote On Her Own before the war, but do any of its themes connect to what is happening now? Carmela is the mother of a fallen soldier, and I lived with her for so long in my heart.

Nina for her granddaughter, Dana, whom she has not seen since Dana moved to the United States, Carmela brings Nina home. Nina, witness to a murder and hiding from both her mother and her abusive boyfriend, struggles to keep her identity secret as the two women forge a bond. The novel, released in Hebrew in 2022, was a best seller in Israel, much like several of Lapid’s previous books. With a mid-March publication date in the United States, On Her Own is the first of her books to be released by a major American publishing house, a development that excites Lapid even as she contends with the anxious reality of living in a country at war. “Things here in Israel are so difficult these days,” Lapid, who lives in Tel Aviv, said in an interview. “We are just so sad. Even while I am trying to be happy about achieving something that I have dreamt about my entire life, I am not really sure how to announce that this amazing thing is finally happening.” This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

From October 7 until now, the news of every soldier that has died in this war just breaks my heart. I see their smiling faces in the newspaper and know that behind every picture, there is a whole family that is collapsing, that is destroyed forever. You are the president of Shekel, an organization supporting Israelis with disabilities, including providing vocational training and housing. How has the war impacted Shekel’s work? It has been very, very difficult. There are a lot of people from the South and the North who were evacuated from their homes, many with disabilities or who have children with disabilities. It is not easy to move a child who studies in a special school or an adult who lives in a special MARCH /APRIL 2024

home to a place with people who they do not know. At Shekel, we placed hundreds of evacuees with disabilities in all our centers and we set up staff to help integrate them. Why was it important for you to participate in the “MeToo Unless You Are a Jew” campaign, which condemned the silence of international feminist organizations regarding the assault of Israeli women on October 7? Kids or young women raped and being held hostage should be kept outside of any political argument, and we need all the people in the world to collaborate on this. I can’t believe that not every woman’s organization is with us on this. Ruth Marks Eglash is a Jerusalem-based veteran journalist who writes for multiple outlets.

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New from Gefen The must-have Haggadah of the Year! e ailabl v a w d No on an z a m ! on A lishing b u P Gefen


Do you want to connect the lessons of the Haggadah to today’s issues with Israel and antisemitism? This Haggadah has it all, including comments on the current Hamas war. “Will [t]his Haggadah reach the popular fame of the legendary Maxwell House version? Only time will tell, of course, but on its merits, it absolutely should.”


-David Harris


growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Arad wrote this story well before the current Israel-Hamas war, but she

is strikingly prescient in her understanding of contemporary schisms, particularly as they pertain to Israel. Ample credit should go to award-winning translator Jessica

Cohen for her seamless work. She has helped make The Hebrew Teacher a must-read in 2024. —Robert Nagler Miller Robert Nagler Miller writes frequently about the arts, literature and Jewish themes from his home near New York City.

The Dissident By Paul Goldberg (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

A N S W E R S Crossword Puzzle on page 51


In The Dissident, Russian-born American writer Paul Goldberg provides a thrilling, unpredictable and very funny exploration of intrigue and survival in the Soviet Union. At once a love story, diplomatic encounter and murder mystery, this novel is a rollicking, if overstuffed, multi-character satire. Goldberg immigrated to the United States as a child in 1973. He is the author of two nonfiction books on the human rights movement in the Soviet Union and two well-received novels, The Château and The Yid. In The Dissident, Goldberg pays homage to the greats of Russian literature—Anton Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov and others—as he takes readers through Moscow of the 1970s and the lives of disparate Jewish refuseniks who know little of Judaism but sought freedom to practice and to emigrate. The book begins in January 1976. On his wedding day, Viktor Moroz, a translator and reporter who works with English-speaking journalists, stumbles on a murder scene: two men in a lovers’ embrace axed to death. One of the victims was an American government official, possibly with the CIA, and the other was a samizdat (underground) poet turned black marketeer and refusenik. The KGB spots Viktor fleeing the murder

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scene and detains him. Lydia Ivanovna, a KGB agent who describes herself as Viktor’s “curator,” gives the journalist a choice: Find the murderer or be put on trial for the killing. And he must uncover the truth in nine days, before Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrives in Moscow. But before he searches for clues, Viktor must get married. Part of a group of refuseniks whose applications to leave for Israel have been denied, Viktor met his bride, Oksana Moskvina, an English teacher and clandestine publisher, outside the Moscow Choral Synagogue the previous year on the first night of Hanukkah. They set their wedding for January 13 to coincide with the celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the most important date on the Soviet calendar. Their wedding is one of the funnier interludes in the book. While both Viktor and Oksana want a Jewish celebration, neither they nor their guests know anything about Jewish weddings. Fear not. One of the guests promises to bring three old men who recall weddings in the shtetlech. The old men—called the alterkakers—“will take the ritual through the paces, mumble the right blessings in Hebrew, sing something in Yiddish when it’s over.” For their reward, they are invited to the wedding feast, a table groaning with Soviet treats such as jellied meat, pickled cabbage, sardines, mushrooms and eggplant caviar. (“Eggplant caviar,” the author wryly

notes, is “a delicacy that presents no threat to unborn sturgeon.”) To help solve the double murder, Viktor turns to his ragtag dissident refusenik community. The group includes a hard-drinking sculptor and a Russian priest of Jewish heritage as well as a visiting American Jewish retiree, Norm (Nuchem) Dymshitz, enlisted by his son, Madison, the Moscow bureau chief of an American newspaper, to aid the refusenik cause. Born in Poland, Norm becomes a focus of the novel. He wants to relive his World War II heroics, during which he escaped from a concentration camp and fought as a partisan in the Russian forest alongside Oksana’s father. This engaging thriller, with its diverse cast of characters, dramatizes the longing of Soviet Jews for escape and the surreal repressions of the Soviet state. And if there are any parallels to life in Russia today under Vladimir Putin, well…. With his zest for Russian culture, Goldberg offers a glimpse of a pivotal period in Soviet history flavored with a generous dollop of vodka and smoked fish. —Stewart Kampel

Blank By Zibby Owens (Little A) What happens when a novelist’s best idea was used in her first book and she can’t come up with a follow-up to her best seller? That’s where we find Pippa Jones, the lead character in Blank, the debut novel by popular book podcaster and publisher Zibby Owens. Pippa is a Los Angeles Jewish mother of two stuck in a loveless marriage who owes her publisher a book—by the end of the week. CONTINUES ON PAGE 62 MARCH /APRIL 2024

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1/30/24 8:20 AM


Guide to Jewish Literature

Order these books directly through the Hadassah Magazine website! Just go to and click on Guide to Jewish Literature. Clara’s seCret

Stephan R. Frenkel This critically-acclaimed bestseller presents the captivating story of Clara Prinz, a remarkable woman forced to leave her native Berlin in 1939. As Clara traveled alone on a voyage into the unknown, she turned to memories of her adolescence during La Belle Époque – the Beautiful Era filled with optimism and cultural transformation at the dawn of the twentieth century. Through Clara’s chance encounters with notable personalities of the period, Clara’s Secret weaves an unforgettable tapestry of personal and historic events. Clara’s Secret is ultimately a compelling story of the advancement of humankind and the survival of its decline.

Available on Amazon and

save the last DanCe

Mandi Eizenbaum A Jewish-themed, contemporary romance inspired by real women, each trying to balance family obligations with personal dreams. Maya is a young mother and member of a kibbutz in northern Israel; Sofia is a feisty and fearless Ukrainian immigrant trying to make it big in New York City. What do these two unsung heroines have in common? Big dreams, daunting responsibilities, and a passion for the stage. This story comes together, overflowing with family, love, sacrifice, loyalty, and lots of blind courage. A heartfelt story for all women everywhere. For more information about the book and the author, visit


BirD Brain

Joanne Levy When Arden’s Uncle Eli asks her to look after his African gray parrot, Ludwig, while he’s out of town, she is not pleased. Parrots bite. But soon Ludwig proves himself to be not only unusually smart (did he just solve that math equation?) but incredibly loyal, as he helps Arden deal with a bully who’s been standing in her way.

BernarDine’s shanghai salon: the story of the Doyenne of olD China

Susan Blumberg-Kason A cousin of Henrietta Szold, Bernardine Szold Fritz arrived in Shanghai in 1929 to marry her fourth husband. Lonely and across the world from her teenage daughter, Bernardine started a salon in her home that became the center of the Shanghai arts scene. “Everyone who was anyone visiting Shanghai stopped in at Bernadine’s, from Hollywood stars to European intellectuals and Mexican artists. Few other individuals did so much to forge Shanghai’s unique east-west cultural mélange of the interwar years.” – Paul French, author of New York Times bestselling Midnight in Peking. Paperback, e-book, and audiobook available at all retailers, including

amazing aBe: how aBraham Cahan’s newspaper gave a voiCe to Jewish immigrants

Norman H. Finkelstein (Author), Vesper Stamper (Illustrator) National Jewish Book Award winner Norman H. Finkelstein and Sydney Taylor Award winner Vesper Stamper have teamed up to tell the story of Abraham Cahan, the founder and longtime editor of the Yiddish language newspaper the Forverts (the Forward), which was one of the largest newspapers in the United States. Available from

exhiBiting Jewish Culinary Culture

András Koerner The new book by the award-winning author of several acclaimed titles on Jewish cuisine discusses exhibitions of Jewish culinary culture in museums around the world. Gain an overview of the cultural history of ‘foodism’ and the role of cuisine in Jewish identity.

For more exciting books on Eastern European Jewish culture and gastronomy, visit

the girls of Jerusalem anD other stories

Marsha Lee Berkman From the opening vignette in which a photograph is a silent witness to history to the powerful coda “Miracles,” a novella set against the vibrant panorama of the Yiddish theater in America, the fifteen memorable narratives in The Girls of Jerusalem and Other Stories span continents and eras as they chronicle love and loss, piety and heresy, mysticism and rationality to reinterpret ancient tropes of exile, dislocation, and profound change, revealing a new understanding of Jewish history and memory. “Luminous tales of exile and loss that bequeath new life” Kirkus Reviews (starred review). A best book of the year selection.

Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

matzah Ball Blues

Jennifer Wilck Jared Leiman and Caroline Weiss were high school sweethearts, but their post-college lives took them in different directions. Jared became a big-time entertainment lawyer in L.A., while Caroline stayed home to care for her sick mother. Now Caroline is free to follow her dreams, while Jared inherited custody of his baby niece. Will these opposites get a second chance at forever? Available at all retailers, paperback and e-book.

the gooD solDier

Nir Yaniv The Imperial Navy is a mighty galactic power in which nothing can go wrong. Enter Pre-Private Joseph Fux, self-proclaimed Idiot, Second Class. “Nir Yaniv meshes together classical American gung-ho science fiction with the delightful absurdism of European literature… think M.A.S.H. in space. This is one explosive novel you do not want to miss!” – Lavie Tidhar, award-winning author of Neom. Paperback,

370 pages. Available on


Steven Moscovitz Kill Brothers is a pulsepounding, cold case thriller that delivers page-turning twists and turns, weaving together historical fiction (World War II) and modernday DNA analysis. Will NYPD’s Detective Mills murder investigation link him back to Greta Weber’s shocking secret of nearly a century before? From the 1920s Germany to 2018 in Brooklyn, Kill Brothers will keep readers racing through the pages until its mind-bending conclusion.

Available on Amazon and

street Corner Dreams

Florence Reiss Kraut Set between the World Wars, this suspenseful family saga, love story, and gangster tale brings to life the Feinsteins, a family forged in tragedy and hope, struggling to attain their dreams in Brooklyn’s teeming streets. The beautifully written and tender descriptions of Ben, Golda, Morty and Sylvia living amid the Jewish and Italian gangsters who ruled New York in the 1920s and 1930s are realistic and captivating. Like Kraut’s acclaimed first novel, How to Make a Life, this page-turner is well researched and a great book club read, perfect for holiday gift giving. Author will Zoom with book clubs.

the Jps tanaKh: genDer-sensitive eDition

David E. S. Stein (translator) In October 2023, The Jewish Publication Society released The JPS Tanakh: Gender-Sensitive Edition, the first major update of our iconic Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) translation in nearly four decades. The first Jewish gender-sensitive translation of the full Hebrew Bible, this new edition goes through the Tanakh word by word, line by line, verse by verse to offer gender-inclusive renderings where appropriate and gendered ones when called for historically and linguistically.

Learn more and order with special discounts at

the Color of sounD

Emily Barth Isler A talented tween probes her Jewish family’s history in this sonorous tale, contemplating the generational trauma caused by the Holocaust. Rosie is a prodigy whose synesthesia allows her to see music as colors. Her mom is pushing her to become a concert violinist, but Rosie wants a more “normal” life. Rosie is excited to meet a girl her age while spending time at her grandparents’ home. The girl is familiar, and Rosie pieces it together: somehow, this girl is her mother, when she was twelve. This glitch in time gives Rosie new insight into her family and herself.

Available in paperback, audio and e-book on Amazon, or wherever you buy books.;

Available for pre-order wherever books are sold.

mahJong at mara’s

raizi anD the passover plans

Debra Green Suburbia—the quintessential quagmire of coexistence. Lila, a nurse’s aide, and her teenage son Dante, find solace in unlikely companions—a group of Mahjong-playing octogenarians. There’s Thea who struggles with Alzheimer’s, and her husband, Joseph; Mali, a lonely Holocaust survivor; recently widowed Frank; and the persnickety Gladys, whom Mali disliked from the moment they met. When Brian, a duplicitous neighbor, and Dante’s friends join the mix, all their lives take surprising turns that raise questions about the concepts of family, loyalty, and love. “… lingers long after you’ve turned the last page.” —Gail Lehrman, Across Seward Park.

Available on Amazon. Print, $19.95, ISBN 979-89895449-0-5; e-book, $ 9.95, ISBN 979-9-9895449-1-2.

Sara-Rivka Rekutiel Raizi and the Passover Plans takes place during the week before Passover when the whacky Rosenberg family, who live in a small town near Jerusalem in 2001, prepares for the holiday. Raizi, Lili, Rikki and Shmuel add to the humorous tension as their yoga teacher Mom and rabbi Dad try to keep all the breadcrumbs out of the house. And then, just when everything seems to be under control, Grandpa shows up with his new girlfriend, and things really get complicated. During this year’s visit, Grandpa reveals an amazing secret that gives new meaning to “making plans.” Available on Amazon.

traCes of a Jewish artist: the lost life anD worK of rahel szalit

Kerry Wallach Painter and illustrator Rahel Szalit (1888–1942) was among the bestknown Jewish women artists in Weimar Berlin. But after she was arrested by the French police and then murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz, she was all but lost to history, and most of her paintings have been destroyed or gone missing. This biography recovers Szalit’s life and presents a stunning collection of her art.

312 pages with 8 color/79 b&w illustrations. Hardcover: $39.95. Take 30% off with code NR24 when ordering through

harDness of heart – harDness of life: the stain of human infantiCiDe

Dr. Larry S. Milner Dr. Larry S. Milner, an authority on infanticide, asks: will abortion-right reversals (Roe v. Wade) lead to infanticide? In his book, Hardness of Heart – Hardness of Life: The Stain of Human Infanticide, he investigates why infanticide has been present in every form of human society throughout history, to understand how the loss of these rights will affect Americans as well.

Available on Amazon and Kindle.

the plaCe of all possiBility

Adina Allen What happens when we engage with the Torah as a contemporary guidebook for creativity—and a force of transformation? Pairing spiritual wisdom with art therapy, liberation theology, and creativity research, The Place of All Possibility is for anyone—from any tradition or none—ready to seed a world of imagination, abundance, and joy. We are all created creative. Find your possibilities. Order the book today. Available from Ayin Press, Amazon and

To advertise here, please call Randi O’Connor at (212) 451-6221, or email Space is limited.


Kill Brothers


Who can write a book in a week? Not Pippa, even though her brain races at 60 miles per hour with new ideas (except when it comes to her book) while she racks up Instagram followers on her secret feed where she posts about her real estate obses-

sion. She also endlessly ruminates over her children—teenager Zoe and soon-to-be-bar-mitzvahed Max. And it’s sweet Max who comes up with the eponymous idea: Why not just sell a book of blank pages? After all, as described by Owens,

CHARITABLE SOLICITATION DISCLOSURE STATEMENTS HADASSAH, THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA, INC. 40 Wall Street, 8th Floor – New York, NY 10005 – Telephone: (212) 355-7900 Contributions will be used for the support of Hadassah’s charitable projects and programs in the U.S. and/ or Israel including: medical relief, education and research; education and advocacy programs on issues of concern to women and that of the family; and support of programs for Jewish youth. Financial and other information about Hadassah may be obtained, without cost, by writing the Finance Department at Hadassah’s principal place of business at the address indicated above, or by calling the phone number indicated above. In addition, residents of the following states may obtain financial and/or licensing information from their states, as indicated. DC: The Certificate of Registration Number of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. is #40003848, which is valid for the period 9/1/2023-8/31/2025. Registration does not imply endorsement of the solicitation by the District of Columbia, or by any officer or employee of the District. FL: A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION FOR HADASSAH, THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA, INC. (#CH-1298) AND HADASSAH MEDICAL RELIEF ASSOCIATION, INC. (#CH-4603) MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 1-800-HELP-FLA, OR ONLINE AT KS: The official registration and annual financial report of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. is filed with the Kansas Secretary of State. Kansas Registration #237-478-3. 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WI: A financial statement of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. disclosing assets, liabilities, fund balances, revenue, and expenses for the preceding fiscal year will be provided to any person upon request. ALL STATES: A copy of Hadassah’s latest Financial Report is available by writing to the Hadassah Finance Dept., 40 Wall Street, 8th Floor, New York, New York 10005. REGISTRATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE OR IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, SANCTION OR RECOMMENDATION BY ANY STATE. Charitable deductions are allowed to the extent provided by law. Hadassah shall have full dominion, control and discretion over all gifts (and shall be under no legal obligation to transfer any portion of a gift to or for the use or benefit of any other entity or organization). All decisions regarding the use of funds for any purpose, or the transfer of funds to or for the benefit of any other entity or organization, shall be subject to the approval of the Board or other governing body of Hadassah. The Hadassah Foundation, Inc. is a supporting organization of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. September 2023 MARCH /APRIL 2024

who brings an insider’s knowledge to her critique of publishing, the “corrupt” publishing industry would likely play along as it is more focused on an author’s popularity and ability to promote a book on social media than the book itself. Much happens to Pippa in this zany novel after she comes up with this stunt: Her agent dumps her and her publisher hits on her—and then decides to run with the idea. Her real estate obsession leads to her finding out the truth about her marriage and she meets her Jewish summer camp crush as she crashes her car. Yet despite all Pippa’s adorable chaos, she has a core stability. Could it be her family and Jewish values? “We weren’t particularly religious—Reform, not Orthodox,” Pippa says in the beginning of the book. “For us, that meant showing up a few times a year for the High Holidays, lighting the Shabbat candles when we remembered, and hosting a Passover seder. Orthodox was something else entirely. But the Jewish values were the same: giving back, being kind, being ‘people of the book.’ And bar and bat mitzvahs were a nonnegotiable in our family.” Like any good chick-lit novel, everything somehow works out, including the dismantling of the publishing industry in a way that Owens might hope for in real life. Now if Pippa could just come up with her next book idea. —Amy Klein Amy Klein is the author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind.

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LOREN STEIN DESIGN “My Heart Surrounds Israel” silver or gold

Preferential Treatment

An excess of cloth, wheat and weight-loss schemes | By Joseph Lowin



hat do the tabernacle, manna from heaven and the seven special agricultural species of the Land of Israel have to do with each other and with today’s editors and grocery stores? They all converge when one studies the Hebrew root ‫פ‬-‫ד‬-‫( ע‬ayin, dalet, feh), which means to prefer, an excess of something, in addition to other meanings. The root is found in the many questions and conundrums that come up in Scriptures about the Israelites’ time in the desert after the Exodus. These include a discussion of how to deal with the ‫( ֹע ֵֵֹדף‬odef), “overlapping lengths [of the cloth that cover the Tabernacle].” In another discussion of an excess connected to worship in Numbers, a census taken of the Israelites refers to 22,273 firstborn sons originally obligated to serve in the Tabernacle and the 22,000 Levites who replaced them after the sin of the Golden Calf. The ‫( ֹע ְְֹד ִ​ִפים‬odfim), “273 Israelites who were in excess [of the number of Levites],” had to be redeemed by a payment of 5 shekels per head. The text also uses our root to make a (miraculous) point about manna: Not only did someone who gathered less than his family’s allotted portion not fall short come evening, but one who gathered more than his daily share ‫( ֹל ֹא ֶ​ֶה ְ​ְע ִ​ִּדיף‬lo he-edif), “had no excess.” Using our root, the Talmudic sages discuss the seven species of the Land of Israel—wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranates, olive (oil) and date (honey). Is one of them, they ask, ‫( ָ​ָע ִ​ִדיף‬adif), preferable, to the others? Some rabbis answer, ‫( ֵיֵ שׁ ַ​ַהֲעֲ ָ​ָד ָ​ָפה‬yesh ha’adafah), one species, wheat for example, is to be preferred. Others respond that ‫( ִ​ִאין ֲ​ֲע ִ​ִדיפוּת‬ein adifut), there is no preference to be made here. In the Fifth Commandment, honoring your father is mentioned before your mother. Nevertheless, rabbinic literature insists that the honor due one’s father is ֵ (odef al), “more important than,” honoring one’s mother. in no way ‫עוֵֹדף ָעָ ל‬ Our root has many everyday usages. Buying a soft drink at a grocery store? ָ ‫ַ​ַאִנִ י ַ​ַמ ֲ​ֲע ִ​ִד‬ If you don’t care for the bubbly variety, tell the clerk ‫יָפה ֹל ֹא מוָּגָ ז‬ (ani ma’adifah lo mugaz), I prefer non-carbonated. If you pay for the drink with cash, don’t forget to ask for your ‫( ֹע ֶֶֹדף‬odef), change. Those who are ‫( ֹע ֶֶֹדף ִ​ִמ ְ​ְשׁ ָ​ָקל‬odef mishkal), overweight, may want to opt for a healthy diet, rather than one of the fad diets or pharmaceutical treatments ָ ‫( ֲעֲ ִ​ִד‬adifah), oversupply, of lose-weight-quick schemes around among the ‫יָפה‬ today. ְ ‫( ִ​ִמִלִּ ים‬mmil� An astute editor might ask a verbose author to cut the ‫עוְֹדפוֹת‬ lim odfot), superfluous words, from a book or article. Though, like this one, any article on Hebrew roots lends itself to an overabundance of discussions. Joseph Lowin’s columns for Hadassah Magazine are collected in HebrewSpeak, Hebrew Talk and his most recent book, Hebrew Matters, available at MARCH /APRIL 2024

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Cochav Elkayam-Levy Advocating for victimized Israeli women

By Hilary Danailova



ust one week after the brutal terror attacks on communities in southern Israel, attorney Cochav Elkayam-Levy, a leading feminist legal advocate in Israel, established the Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes Committed by Hamas Against Women and Children. The nongovernmental initiative is under the auspices of the Dvora Institute for Gender and Sustainability Studies, which Elkayam-Levy founded and leads. The 40-year-old has emerged as one of the country’s authoritative voices in the investigation of the sex crimes that initially went largely ignored by the international

What have been the major takeaways so far in leading the civil commission? At the beginning, it was devastating to see the denial around us. The silence by the most important international human rights bodies felt like a betrayal not only of us, but of humanity. This led me to understand that I must document everything to fight against denial and to ensure accountability for the perpetrators. Our archive of testimonies, news accounts and visual evidence is a vital repository not only for the current discourse, but also for future generations. We’re establishing a comprehensive legal framework to ensure that this collection adheres to rigorous global standards. We’ve called upon human rights-focused organizations like the United Nations to organize an international independent inquiry. And we’re working with prominent partners around the world to expose Hamas’s deeds as crimes against humanity and to promote legal procedures, such as international tribunals, to compensate victims’ families.

community. Elkayam-Levy’s exposure of the brutalities— gang rapes, mutilations of breasts and genitals, women violated and slaughtered with knives in front of their own families—was part of what prompted the United Nations to send an investigative team to Israel in January. Elkayam-Levy is a scholar of international law at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Reichman University and the Shalom Hartman Institute. Prior to October 7, she rose to prominence after authoring a report that analyzed Israel’s proposed judicial reforms and concluded that the overhaul would imperil women’s progress toward political equity. Now, the legal activist and mother of four shares what’s next for the civil commission and for Israel. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

How should Israel make its case, both in legal courts and in the court of public opinion? In the court of public opinion, transparent communication is crucial. Israel must proactively share information and foster open dialogue, both within the nation and internationally. Creating a supportive environment for victims of trauma—both within legal proceedings and in the broader community—is also crucial for Israel to demonstrate its commitment to holistic justice. Prior to October 7, you led an effort to highlight the impact on women of the government’s proposed judicial overhaul. What other key structural issues need to be addressed? In Israel, there is a critical need for systemic change, particularly in ensuring that women assume leading decision-making positions. We entered this current crisis amid a concerning decline in women’s representation in such roles. It is imperative that women comprise at least 50 percent of all significant government positions for the future of Israel MARCH /APRIL 2024

and its ability to rise and heal from this latest crisis. How did your years in the United States, where you earned graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, influence you? Studying at UPenn heightened my awareness of the most pressing challenges humanity is facing—things like climate justice and the impact of technology on human rights—and the interplay between local and international dynamics. During a recent visit to the U.S., I came to understand that millions of Jews around the world share our collective trauma after October 7. The deep grief and fear of antisemitism were evident. And that underscores the necessity to redefine the relationship between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora, grounding it in a shared destiny. We support each other to become stronger as a people. We owe this to our children. Hilary Danailova writes about travel, culture, politics and lifestyle for numerous publications.

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