Volume 10, Number 11 Chanukah 2020
Serving the Local New Orleans, Northshore, and Baton Rouge Jewish Communities
This year, Jewish Community Day School of Greater New Orleans celebrates its Silver Anniversary. In preparation for this 25-year milestone, we seek to honor the breadth and depth of our supporters with a permanent tribute display within the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus. This installation will bear the names of those who have made Jewish education possible in our community, people who understand that an exceptional Jewish day school education strengthens the Jewish identity and Jewish engagement of our children to support the continuity of the Jewish people. Please join us to support this year’s annual campaign while taking the unique opportunity to connect your name with Jewish education in our community for generations to come. Let these names inspire our students to continue their Jewish journey for the rest of their lives.
The JCDS Silver Forever Wall will bear the names of our Silver Patrons and Green Patrons. Levels will be distinguished with plaques of varying sizes, depths, and materials (see mock-up below). We are working with a local sign shop and a graphic designer who will create the final version of our permanent display once we have received all of our gifts/pledges. The deadline to make your Silver Patron or Green Patron gift (or pledge) in order to be included on our Silver Forever Wall is December 15, 2020. We hope you will join us for this unique opportunity to be a part of something very special.
Franco Family Susan and William Hess Susan and Howard Green Heymann-Wolf Foundation Lis and Hugo Kahn Francine M. Lake, z”l and JonaLinda and Richard Friedman than Lake Tracey and Henry Smith Dashka Roth Lehmann & Larry Lynne and Michael Wasserman Lehmann Rochelle Adler Effron and Mark Carole and Richard Neff Effron Lynn and Arthur Penn Cathy and Morris Bart Madilyn and Alvin Samuels Ann Berenson Goldfarb, Laurie Debbie and Jonathan SchlackBerenson Maas, Les Berenson, & man Robert Berenson Karen and Leopold Sher Cahn Family Laurie and Paul Sterbcow Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust
If you have any questions, please contact Tiffany Cotlar | firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.887.4091 ext. 112
Happy Chanukah to all my friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support!
Gail Grover, Judge Juvenile Court, Division B 2
If your group has an event that you would like for us to include on the Community Calendar please e-mail the information to email@example.com. All submissions are subject to acceptance by the Editor. ĂŹ
Looking Forward With Limmud NOLA This month - 'Mar' Cheshvan - the month following the rigor and excitement of the High Holidays, is a time to focus on putting into action all fo the resolutions you made over the new year. Limmud New Orleans's volunter leaders are working hard behind the scenes this month to put together a line-up of virtual sessions that will make this year's Limmudfest on March 12-14, 2021, the best, most meaningful, most inspirational, most thought-provoking event we have ever produced. Limmudfest March 12-14, 2021 A Virtual Jewish Learning Festival Our New Leadership Leslie Goldberg and Marissa
Knell are taking on the role of cochairing this year's virtual event. Leslie Goldberg has been a member of the New Orleans Jewish community since 2012, serving as a Religious School and Hebrew teacher at Touro Synagogue and participating in the lay-led Torah chevruta. Maris-
sa Knell also moved to New Orleans in 2012 and currently organizes creative shabbat services through Kol Halev while studying Public Health at Tulane. Along with our new Technology Director, Max Lapushin, we are ready to create an inclusive and engaging Limmud experience
Happy Chanukah to all my friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support!
Table of Contents Community News
Arts & Culture
Focus on Issues
online. This Year's Event Holding a (mostly) virtual event means being able to bring the Limmud experience to more of our farflung Jewish neighbors and being able to bring BIG name presenters from around the world to our humble southern event. We will be updating you soon with detail of this year's slate of presenters, registration information, and more. If you would like to be a part of the Limmudfest 2021 team, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be especially in need of volunteers to serve on our registration and technology Help Desk. ďƒŹ
Louis Fitzmorris Assessor St. Tammany Parish
Happy Chanukah to all my many friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support.
Covid-19 Imperils Local Jewish Media. That’s Bad News For Everyone. By Pesach Benson
The Jewish Advocate sits on a shelf in the window of Israel Book Shop, Inc. on Harvard Avenue in Brookline, MA on March 2, 1997. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
(JTA) — The Baltimore Jewish Times newsroom was always quietest on Wednesdays. Given the unyielding Tuesday editorial deadlines, Wednesday was the best day to get out of the office to meet people, follow a hunch or find inspiration. If Ira Rifkin, one of the senior editors, saw me in the newsroom on a Wednesday, he’d gruffly remind me, “The stories are out there.” I was new and getting a feel for the JT’s weekly rhythm, but I learned to get “out there,” and not just on Wednesdays.
Out there was in the Baltimore Jewish community. The stories are still out there. They take place in the schools we send our children to, the synagogues where we gather, the businesses we frequent, the neighborhoods we live in and — nowadays especially — our hospitals and nursing homes. Jewish media chronicles our community’s life and times. During my time at the JT in the 1990s, the “stories out there” were wide-ranging: the synagogues relocating to the northwest suburbs; a bailout for a financially troubled day school; the Baltimore Orioles’ Dominican-born starting pitcher with unlikely Jewish ancestry. Foreign stories had local angles, too, like a Jewish social worker who spent six months working with traumatized children in a Croatian refugee camp or travel agents discussing what the just signed IsraeliJordanian peace accords would mean for business.
Jewish media forces us to reflect on what kind of community we want to be, as well as acknowledge where we actually are. Edgier stories addressing issues like financial misconduct, Jewish clergy who officiated interfaith weddings, or sexual abuse touched a nerve because we know these people. Now the coronavirus crisis is posing an existential question for Jewish papers. In the past month, Boston’s Jewish Advocate ceased publishing, while in more promising news, the struggling Detroit Jewish News became a nonprofit newspaper. Earlier this year, the Canadian Jewish News and the New Jersey Jewish News ceased operations, while Britain’s venerable Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News avoided liquidation thanks to a last-minute rescue by a consortium of U.K. Jews. And the New York Jewish Week, whose community is too big to let it fail — so I thought — suspended its print edition.
There are still many Jewish news organizations telling important stories. But they are less and less often serving local audiences. The common denominator behind this troubling trend? Quickly vanishing advertising revenues. Many businesses are closed and events have been cancelled — what’s to advertise? While challenges with advertising supported journalism predate the pandemic, the coronavirus crisis is dramatically accelerating the need for Jewish publishers to make very painful decisions. This isn’t only “bad news for the Jews.” All small publications, from local outlets to ethnic press to alternative weeklies, are struggling. I worry that the closure of papers will increase the spread of “news black holes,” places where local journalism is either too weak to serve its role as a watchdog or altogether nonexistent. See JEWISH MEDIA on Page
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As Genesis Prize Goes To A Vote, Its Impact On Jewish Causes Grows
By Larry Luxner
Ruth Bader Ginsburg receives the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award in Tel Aviv in 2018, flanked by Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, on her right and Aharon Barak, former president of Israel's Supreme Court, on her left. (Lens Productions/GPF)
Doron Almog, a former head of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Southern Command, was one of the heroes of Israel’s 1976 hostage rescue operation in Entebbe, Uganda, and winner of the 2016 Israel Prize for lifetime achievement.
But the thing he says he’s most proud of is ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, a rehabilitation village he founded in southern Israel for 160 physically and mentally disabled children and young adults. It’s named after Almog’s son, Eran, who was born with severe autism and died in 2007, at the age of 23, from a rare disorder known as Castleman disease. ALEH-Negev is one of 15 organizations, including nine in Israel, to receive grants derived from the 2020 $1 million Genesis Prize, often described as the Jewish Nobel. Last year’s laureate, Natan Sharansky, chosen in December 2019, donated his prize money to Jewish and non-Jewish groups fighting COVID-19’s spread throughout the
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world. “During this pandemic, we cannot do social distancing, but we do need lots of PPE,” said Almog, whose organization received a $50,000 grant. “You cannot keep two meters distance from these kids. You need to hug them, wash them, treat them. A lot of the money we received will go to PPE as well as respiratory equipment and oxygen. We’ve also increased salaries for our medical staff because they’re doing double shifts and there’s more risk.” This year, for the first time since the inception of the Genesis Prize, the Genesis Prize Foundation has opened up the laureate selection process to the wider public. More than 45,000 people worldwide sent in submissions for over 4,000 nominees, and seven finalists were selected. Now the public will have a chance to vote on those finalists: actor Sacha Baron Cohen, singer Barbra Streisand, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, actress Gal Gadot, former U.K. chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg. “The Genesis Prize has evolved from an elite, committee-driven process to a more inclusive approach that seeks to engage the entire Jewish world,” said Genesis Prize Foundation President Steve Rakitt. “The voice of the Jewish people from all walks of life, different demographic groups and across generations will now become an extremely important factor in the nomination and selection of our honorees.” The prize, launched in 2013 and financed through a $100 million endowment, recognizes Jewish individuals with outstanding “professional accomplishments, contributions to humankind, and pride in their Jewish heritage.” Previous winners have included former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, actor Michael Douglas, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, actress Natalie Portman and musician Itzhak Perlman. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg received a lifetime achievement award in 2018. After Bloomberg won the first prize, he announced that he’d donate all the proceeds to charity. All subsequent winners have followed suit, sending more than $16 million overall (other donors often match Genesis Prize Foundation funds) to myriad philanthropic priorities, including fighting antiSemitism, supporting refugees, promoting innovation, improving the lives of individuals with special needs and advancing women’s equality.
Natan Sharansky, the 2020 Genesis Prize laureate, speaks at the Genesis Prize award ceremony in 2014. (Miller/ GPF)
When last year’s prize went to Sharansky – the onetime Soviet dissident turned Israeli politician and later head of the Jewish Agency – he initially planned to donate his prize money to projects that support human rights, according to Sana Britavsky, deputy CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation. “But when COVID-19 started, Natan generously decided that all his prize money should go to vulnerable populations here in Israel and abroad,” Britavsky said in an interview. “He chose to give to projects that would work for real people, where that kind of help would make a real difference.” Britavsky added, “The unique partnership between the Genesis Prize Laureates and The Genesis Prize Foundation makes possible this type of philanthropic impact.” Sharansky said in a statement, “Many people of good will around the world have given generously to help organizations and individuals who have been devastated by COVID-19. I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to this humanitarian effort.” Among the recipients was the See GENESIS on Page
Eatery Said To Be World’s 1st Israel Signs Covid Vaccine Lab-Grown Meat Restaurant Deal Days After Netanyahu Opens Near Tel Aviv Noted How Pfizer Ceo Is By Cnaan Liphshiz ‘Proud’ Of His Jewish cultured chicken fillet” grown from cells in SuperMeat’s factory. Heritage
(JTA) — The world’s first labgrown meat restaurant has opened near Tel Aviv, the Los Angelesbased VegNews reported. The eatery, whose name is “The Chicken” — a reference to the pseudo-intellectual quandary over whether it precedes the egg or the other way around — is adjacent to the factory of its mother company, SuperMeat, in the Tel Aviv suburb of Nes Tziona, according to a VegNews report from last week. Tables must be reserved in advance and patrons do not pay as the restaurant is still in test phase, Walla reported. They are, however, requested to answer questions or offer feedback. The menu of The Chicken features two burgers made of “crispy
“The burger has a juicy chicken flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside,” SuperMeat CEO Ido Savir told Fast Company. The taste is indistinguishable from that of slaughtered animals, he said. SuperMeat was established in 2015 to offer an alternative to meat whose production requires animal suffering. Some rabbis argue lab-grown meat is exempt from traditional kosher meat requirements, but others say the same prohibitions, including salting and separating from dairy, do apply. “Here, from the beginning it’s not considered meat because it’s a microscopic thing. … And even if it were really meat, because it changed its form, a ‘new face has arrived here’ and it’s not considered meat, and it’s clearly parve,” an Israeli rabbi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2016.
By Ben Sales
(JTA) — Israel’s government has signed an agreement with the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to acquire 8 million doses of its vaccine. “This is a great day for the State of Israel and a great day on the way to our victory over the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday, adding that he is working “to ensure that we will receive the vaccine together with the leading countries around the world and that we will not get pushed back in line.” The announcement came days after Netanyahu said in a video address that Israel would be able to sign a deal with Pfizer in part because the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, told Netanyahu he is proud to be Jewish. “Albert Bourla is very proud of his Greek heritage and of his Jewish heritage, from Thessaloniki,” Netanyahu said. “After this conversation, which was very productive and very practical, I’m convinced we will complete the contract with
Pfizer.” Pfizer announced on November 9 that late-stage trials of its vaccine were more than 90% effective. The pharmaceutical giant is now the leader among several companies working to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Its vaccine still needs to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, along with Israel’s equivalent agency. After keeping its COVID-19 cases to a minimum this spring, Israel began experiencing recordhigh numbers of cases in the summer and fall. While the numbers have since gone down, Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for inconsistency in its lockdown policies, and for providing exceptions to Israel’s haredi Orthodox population, which has experienced particularly high case numbers. “We must all continue to keep the directives and the rules until the arrival of the vaccines, and even afterwards,” Netanyahu said Friday. “If we continue to work together with the same caution, responsibility and unity, we will be among the first in the world to successfully exit the coronavirus crisis.” Netanyahu said that the vaccine should begin arriving in the country in January.
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President Trump Accomplished A Lot For Israel. Can Joe Biden Do The Same?
VOTE: DECEMBER 5, 2020 Happy Chanukah to all my friends VOTE: DECEMBER 5, 2020 inEARLY the Jewish Community! VOTING: NOVEMBER 20-28, 2020
By Binyamin Rose
President Donald Trump, second from right, is joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, left, at the signing ceremony for the agreements on "normalization of relations" reached by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. (The White House/Andrea Hanks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
JERUSALEM (JTA) — American presidents often vie for the designation as the best friend Israel ever had in the White House. That competition sometimes starts early. Joe Biden first brandished his pro-Israel credentials to me at a Christmas party in December 1981 that he and his wife, Jill, threw in their Wilmington, Delaware, home for members of the Delaware press corps. Biden and I were not strangers. As news director of WDOV Radio in Dover, the state capital, I had interviewed him many times that year, including after Israel’s surprise attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. Biden, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was disturbed that Prime Minister Menachem Begin acted without giving the U.S. advance warning, but he understood why Begin launched the attack. That evening in his living room Biden — who knew I was Jewish — thanked me for attending even though it was a Christmas and not a Hanukkah party. Perhaps thinking that I was feeling a bit uncomfortable (I wasn’t), he added: “I want you to know I’m Israel’s best Catholic friend.” This is the type of quote a journalist never forgets, especially now that Biden was just elected America’s 46th president. While approximately 70% of Jewish-American voters chose Hillary Clinton in 2016, supporters of Israel found much to celebrate durTHE
ing the Trump presidency. Crass as President Donald Trump could be, when it came to Israel, his actions spoke louder than his words. Now that Biden has been elected, it’s his turn to prove his friendship with deeds, not just words. And he has a tough act to follow. In Jerusalem, there is much trepidation that a Biden administration will be indistinguishable from what a third term for President Barack Obama would have resembled. While most American Jews voted for Obama, he had a tenuous relationship with the pro-Israel community. His Iran nuclear deal alarmed Israelis of all political stripes, who are unified in the view that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and will gladly cheat on any agreement it signs with Western powers. Obama outraged rightwing Israelis with the cold shoulder he turned to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and exasperated the political left for his failure to exert heavy pressure on Israel to make sacrifices for peace with the Palestinians. Biden’s campaign trail announcements have aroused similar anxieties, with plans to reenter the Iran deal and prioritize Israeli-Palestinian peace, which no U.S. president has been able to broker because neither side seems to want it. Israelis are enthused over the recent diplomatic breakthroughs with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. They were hoping Saudi Arabia would be the next domino to topple, but that’s looking remote, especially if Biden chooses to soothe tensions with Iran and reassess the U.S.-Saudi relationship. If Biden tries to roll back the clock to the Obama era in the process of repudiating Trump’s “deal of the century,” this may well deter other Arab nations from reaching agreements with Israel, hindering hopes for a broader, regional peace. Having said that, Biden and Obama are two different people. Personality matters in politics. The See PRESIDENT TRUMP on Page
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chemistry that two leaders form or fail to form is a critical element in how relations between two nations will progress. Biden is not the slightest bit aloof or professorial, as Obama was often accused of being. He’s earned the moniker of “Uncle Joe.” The chatty style we saw from him in debates and on the campaign trail — including his gaffes — is vintage Joe Biden. And Netanyahu doesn’t need an introduction to the president-elect. The Israeli leader opened Sunday’s Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem by noting his “long and warm personal connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years … as a great friend of the State of Israel.” Obama and Netanyahu never developed such chemistry. I’m not really sure Netanyahu had that with Trump, either. I’ve covered Netanyahu, in Israel and abroad, in meetings with foreign leaders. He has a lot of swagger, but always appeared off-balance in Trump’s presence. Netanyahu may prefer Trump’s peace plan, but Netanyahu’s cautious nature stood in sharp contrast with Trump’s capricious streak. All of this assumes that Netanyahu has more years ahead of him politically than Biden does. There was much scuttlebutt during the campaign that Biden would be only a one-term president, or that health issues might force him to step down sooner. His debate performance put many of those rumors to rest, but Netanyahu, as he approaches his 12th consecutive year as prime minister, has never stood on shakier ground. Netanyahu’s trial in a Jerusalem District Court on breach of trust and fraud charges will be in full swing just as Biden takes the oath of office in January and will be a major distraction. And even before we turn the page on the calendar year, the Knesset faces a Dec. 23 deadline to pass a budget. Failure to do so means new elections. Recent polls showing the right-wing Yami-
na party led by Naftali Bennett gaining popularity means Israel’s next government could swing sharply to the right, obstructing any plans that Biden has to prioritize the Israeli-Palestinian track. During his long U.S. Senate career, and as vice president, Biden has dealt with every Israeli prime minister from Golda Meir to Netanyahu and understands Israel’s security concerns as well as any American leader. Israeli leaders appreciate that about Biden. Congratulating Biden on his election victory, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, tweeted “I was Israel’s Ambassador to the US when @JoeBiden chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He and his committee director @ ABlinken (who will have a big role in the new administration) were always accessible, helpful, and supportive friends of Israel.” At the same time, in a Zoom conference call with the foreign press in Jerusalem that I joined a week before the election, Ayalon, who was a member of the Israeli delegations to Israeli-Palestinian peace conferences in Sharm el-Sheikh (1997), at the Wye Plantation (1998) and at Camp David (2000), expressed his strong hope that the Biden administration will not drive in reverse in the Middle East now that the Trump peace process policies have been vindicated. “Will we get stuck again, and again see daylight between Israel and the U.S.?” Ayalon asked. “Or will Biden realize, in realpolitik terms, that this issue [the Israel-Palestinian track] is not high on the agenda of the region, except for maybe the Palestinians and the Iranians?” The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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The Global Proportion Of Jews Living In Europe Is As Low As It Was 1,000 Years Ago. And The Future There Doesn’t Look Bright. By Cnaan Liphshiz
A man celebrates Sukkot in Rome, Italy, Oct. 9, 2020. (Stefano Montesi/Corbis/ Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Jews’ share of the population of Europe is as low now as it was 1,000 years ago and is declining even further, according to a landmark new demographic study. The study published Wednesday by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research found 1.3 million people who describe themselves as Jewish in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Russia. That figure has declined by nearly 60% since 1970, when there were 3.2 million Jews in the same area, wrote the report’s authors, Daniel Staetsky and Sergio DellaPergola. That decline, which follows the death of about 6 million European Jews in the Holocaust, owes mostly to the emigration of more than 1.5 million people following the collapse of the Iron Curtain, their data shows. But Western Europe, too, has lost 8.5% of its Jewish population since 1970. It is home to just over a million Jews today compared to 1,112,000 in 1970. In particular, the Jewish community of Germany is in a “terminal” state because more than 40% of its 118,000 Jews are above the age of 65, whereas less than 10% are under 15, the study says. This reality, which exists also in Russia and Ukraine, “foreshadows high death rates and unavoidable future population decline,” according to the study. The project is arguably the most comprehensive survey of Jewish demographics ever completed in Europe, more far-reaching than a 2018 European Union survey — although the new survey uses some information from the 2018 EU projTHE
ect. It is also based on official census data and figures provided by individual Jewish communities, which are often organized into organizations with official membership tallies. “The proportion of Jews residing in Europe is about the same as it was at the time of the first Jewish global population account conducted by Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish medieval traveler, in 1170,” the authors wrote.The study also notes that there are an additional 2.8 million people in Europe today who are entitled to immigrate to Israel based on their ancestral Jewish roots — at least one
EU flags seen in Brussels, Sept. 24, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The Berlaymont building is the headquarters of the European Commission. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
Jewish grandparent — but who are not necessarily Jewish themselves or identify as such. The demographics of European Jewry would have been “totally different” without the impact of the Holocaust, DellaPergola told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview about the report. “But that was 75 years ago, and some of the trends we’re seeing today, which are driving the decline, have little to do with the genocide,” he added. Among those trends is an increasing intermarriage rate and a decline in the reproduction rate of Jewish couples, which is part of the broader drop in birthrate throughout Europe in recent decades. Jews in Europe had grown to constitute 83% of world Jewry in 1900. They now account for merely 9% of the total number of Jews worldwide, according to the study. The new report’s figures diverge significantly from membership numbers provided by organizations such as the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, which are often cited in research and reporting. The European Jewish Congress’
website speaks of 1,929,650 Jews European nation. Belgium is at a in Europe today – nearly 33% more very distant second, with 2,571 making that move. At the current rate of decline, Canada — which according to the World Jewish Congress currently has about 391,000 Jews — will soon overtake France as home of the world’s second largest Jewish diaspora community behind the Protesters against anti-Semitism participate in a rally at Republique United States, DellaPergola said. square in Paris, Feb. 19, 2019. (AFP/ The well-documented reasons Getty Images) for the French Jewish exodus than the number arrived at in the include economic opportunity and new report. The World Jewish Con- fear about anti-Semitism. gress counts 1,438,000 Jews in “France today is a place where a Europe. history teacher can get beheaded on France, which has the second the street,” DellaPergola said, notlargest Jewish diaspora population ing a suspected Islamist’s alleged after the United States, is responsi- actions near Paris on Friday. “Of ble for much of the decline In West- course many Jews, including French ern Europe. France currently has ones, find Canada more hospita449,000 Jews compared to 530,000 ble.” in 1970, according to the report, The report also shows that Turand since 2000 alone, 51,455 French Jews have moved to Israel, See PROPORTION 30 on Page by far more than any other Western
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How Homemade Jachnun Is Giving A Lifeline To European Jews In A Second Covid Wave By Cnaan Liphshiz
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — After Gal Graber and Tal Goldman had a disappointing experience with a store-bought jachnun, the two Israelis living in Amsterdam set out to make the slow-cooked Yemenite bread on their own. “As with many Israelis, jachnun is connected in our minds with Saturday mornings, with quality time,” Graber told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But the frozen ones for
sale here are not great. So we decided to make our own.” It turned out to be a prescient undertaking. Earlier this year, the restaurant where Graber was working — & moshik, which had two Michelin stars thanks to its Israeli chef Moshik Roth — shut down during the Netherlands’ first coronavirus lockdown. Like restaurant workers around the world, Graber and his French girlfriend, Mathilde Lair, who was head pastry chef at & moshik’s, both lost their jobs. Now, Graber, Goldman and Lair spend their days baking and delivering the buttery rolled bread that is a standby of Yemenite families’ Shabbat lunch tables, and delivering it by
...to all My Jewish Friends Steve Stefancik
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scooter throughout Amsterdam.
Jachnun needs to be baked in the oven for about 12 hours. (Courtesy of Gal Garber)
Neither partner is Yemenite. But what they lack in cultural authenticity they make up for their experience as chefs and desire to make neatly folded rolls that they say are aesthetically superior to coarser cakes and, of course, tastier than the frozen jachnun available in Amsterdam’s kosher supermarkets. “How many jachnuns do you know, in Europe or anywhere, that are made by chefs from a 2-star Michelin restaurant?” Garber said. There aren’t many — but thanks to other enterprising Israelis, Europeans across the continent are getting an introduction to jachnun during the pandemic. Across the globe, home bakers have found themselves suddenly able to compete with restaurants that are now closed to diners. From London to Munich, jachnun businesses have popped up to capitalize on a dish that’s exotic, comforting and — perhaps most significantly for the moment — takeout-friendly.
Served with crushed tomato and zhug, a spicy corriander pesto, jachnun is a weekend delicacy for Yemenite Jews. (Courtesy of Gal Garber)
Unlike hummus, which Israelis have had a big role in injecting into the increasingly vegetarian culinary mainstream of Europe and North America, jachnun can stay for days in the fridge without going bad. And unlike falafel, another food that Israelis have had a key role in mainstreaming, it does not become soggy if it is not consumed right away. Cooked for many hours and typically served with hard-boiled eggs, 10 Chanukah 2020
jachnun comes with a crushed tomato and zhug, a coriander pesto that’s so spicy that even Israelis tend to apply it sparingly. In London, Zak and Yifat Braham are selling mostly to Israelis for whom, Yifat said, “jachnun is part of a tradition, a slice of home. … I think what I’m actually selling are memories, not food.” Yifat learned to make jachnun in her native Karmiel, a city in Israel’s north, from her mother and aunt, who have Yemenite roots. She was recovering from major surgery that prevented her from working in her job as a teacher when the pandemic began, so when her husband’s income as a cab driver evaporated almost overnight, the family feared a crisis. “We were heading toward a fall, we couldn’t afford to pay the bills,” she said. The pair began producing jachnun in their home and delivering it to customers throughout London.
Aluminiun pots work best for making jachnun, and some fans swear by the so-called Wonder Pot slow cooker. (Courtesy of Gal Garber)
Through the Israeli customers, “others are also getting to know the food,” said Yifat, who each week prepares dozens and sometimes hundreds of rolls. “Italians tend to like it for some reason.” Demand is so high that Zak’s cab isn’t enough to make the rounds anymore. The Brahams had to hire a second delivery man. “It’s not very lucrative, but it’s generating an income. It’s saved us,” Yifat Braham said. “We were lost before we got into jachnun.” The Brahams have competition in Jonathan Gan, a 42-year-old high-tech innovator who immigrated from Israel to the United Kingdom in 2014. He fell back on jachnun last spring, when the country went into a lockdown that spelled disaster for his marketing software See JACHNUN on Page THE
Hanukkah During Covid
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How to Light Your Menorah Outside By Rebecca Kerzner
Covid has driven many activities outdoors, but lighting the menorah outside is actually a natural fit for this holiday.
I grew up with the ultimate outdoor menorah. My father’s creation was roughly four feet tall, and built out of wood. Every year, I can vividly remember lighting our little menorahs and then coming outside with my family to light the big majestic menorah. When my father first started becoming more Torah-observant, he built the menorah after learning about the concept of pirsumei nisa — publicizing the Hanukkah miracle. He felt the biggest honor would be to make a big outdoor menorah that would proudly show his Jewish identity and one that the whole neighborhood could admire. So, he got to work, and his creation glows triumphantly outside my house in Houston, Texas every year.
Every Jewish holiday celebrated in a pandemic presents us with new challenges, and one big question that comes with Hanukkah is: How can we light the menorah outside? With the unpredictability of the weather and the real possibility of a stiff breeze, it might seem like an impossible feat, but have no fear, we have three creative ideas for you! • Create a Menorah Terrarium In Israel, many people use glass boxes for their menorahs to protect the lights from blowing out. You can recreate this with a glass terrarium or even an upcycled aquarium. Pick a glass box that fits your menorah or, alternatively, use nine candle glasses that can fit inside the box and improvise your own menorah. • Go Electric Admittedly, electric bulbs don’t quite conjure the miracle of the oil the same way smoky oil lamps or drippy candles do. But they do let THE
you forget about the wind factor completely. Individual bulbs can be purchased here or you can find many fully electric menorahs online for a reasonable price. Ultimately, electric is just as beautiful and creates less mess, easy clean up and can be readily reused if you want to light outdoors again! And in case you’re wondering, electric lights certainly fulfill the ritual obligation (there is no requirement to use oil lamps or wax candles). • Build an Outdoor Hanukkah Installation Like My Father
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This one’s for the crafty people! First, conjure an image of your final menorah and then purchase the wooden planks, a saw, long screws, a drill, containers for your candles, and thick glue (though even super glue can work!). Start putting it together starting with the stem and candle area in a T-shape and then cut pieces to create the branches and make sure they fit as you cut. Screw the whole thing together with your drill and create a stand with more wood at the base to hold the menorah up straight. You can turn this into a family activity and everyone can get to play a part in the final creation. It doesn’t have to be wood! You can use your imagination and create a menorah from brick, concrete or even children’s building blocks for an easy affordable option that can be deconstructed after the holiday! Hanukkah is all about finding light amidst the darkness and lighting your menorah outside embodies this sentiment, both figuratively and literally. The challenges of a pandemic present us with an opportunity to get creative. Maybe you’ll fall in love with the experience of lighting outside, and keep the custom after Covid is long over. Either way, we hope these ideas brought some light into your Hanukkah planning process! And if you decide to take it a step further and plan a full Hanukkah party outside, we’ve got a guide for that too.
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Jewish Women From North Africa Have An Awesome Feminist Hanukkah Tradition By Rishe Groner This piece originally appeared in Alma. burns in sweet agony. But did you know that there’s a special Hanukkah tradition — Eid Al Bnat (The Festival of Daughters, in Judeo-Arabic) or Chag HaBanot (in Hebrew) — that women and girls from North Africa’s Jewish communities have been celebrating for centuries? (Getty Images) In Jerusalem last year, I joined a When it comes to celebrating group of women of Middle Eastern Hanukkah, you probably think and North African backgrounds about lighting the menorah, playing who gather regularly to study their dreidel (or maybe not, does anyone heritage with an organization called actually play dreidel?) and eating Arevot, and we held an inspiring so many latkes that your stomach Eid Al Bnat celebration, with a
Happy Chanukah To Our Customers Call early to order your homemade latkes & sufganiyot (jelly donuts). Linda Waknin
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Happy Chanukah to all of my friends in the Jewish Community.
Thank You for your continued support.
Judge Sidney H. Cates, IV
Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans
12 Chanukah 2020
focus on how to bring it back into our own communities. It’s a beautiful tradition that more people should know about, so let me break it down: Origins Of The Holiday Celebrated on the Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) of Tevet (one of the Hebrew months where Hanukkah takes place) in communities in North Africa and elsewhere, particularly the islands of Djerba and Tunis in Tunisia, Algeria, Salonika in Greece and Kushta (Istanbul) in Turkey, this day is filled with historic connections to powerful Jewish women. The festival takes the form of ceremonial gatherings featuring symbolic rituals, delicious treats and traditional songs, all focusing on bringing together generations of mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters and the extended community. The stories of Hanukkah and the ladies therein are often retold only as the story of Judith, the brave widow who fake-seduced the Greek-Syrian general Holofernes, fed him salty cheese and got him drunk on wine, then calmly beheaded him. The soldiers freaked out, the Maccabees won the battle and the rest is quite literally history. But there’s another, lesser known story of a brave woman not named except as “the daughter of the Hasmonean, Yohanan the High Priest,” who lived in Judea (AKA modern day Israel) during the time of the Maccabees. Among the anti-Jewish edicts of the time, the invading governor insisted on sleeping with every virgin woman the night before her marriage, and this carried on for almost four years. On the night of the high priest’s daughter’s marriage, as she was about to be carted off to the governor’s chamber for the night, she uncovered her hair, ripped open her clothes, and exposed herself to all. Amid cries of “send her off to be burned!” she turned to the crowd and said something along the lines of, “Are you kidding me? You think this is me being exposed — before my brothers and friends — but it doesn’t bother you that I’m about to be exposed before this foreign invading governor, sacrificing me to him?” Her brothers, the Maccabees and
Co., realized it was time to go off and kill the ruling governor. She got herself fancy and had herself escorted with dancers and musicians straight to the governor’s palace. Seeing the priestly family all caught up in this pseudo-wedding, the egomaniac governor let them right in, imagining they were handing off their daughter with voluntary joy. They utilized the opportunity to behead him and all his servants, which eventually helped bring the Maccabees to victory. The power of this woman’s vulnerability, honesty, and using her voice at just the right time is a fascinating tradition that we celebrate on this night. How To Celebrate Like every tradition that gets passed down from generation to generation, there’s always a new flourish or nuance between how your grandma did it and how my aunt likes to do it. In some communities, women visited the synagogue (not a thing that was usually done!) and kissed the Torah scrolls and were blessed by the rabbi; in others they cooked and baked a festive meal together, and then celebrated all night. Sweet traditional foods were prepared and gifted in baskets to mothers, daughters, or mothers-in-law, prayers were shared, and songs were sung. Overall, though, the key components always include lighting the Hanukkah candles, lots of music and dancing, and the opportunity to create intimacy and community with women. A song or piyyut often begins the night, followed by lighting the Hanukkah candles. Piyyutim are liturgical poems written in Hebrew that are sung in incredibly complicated and deeply moving Arabic maqam (a system of melodic modes). For those of us without the ability to improvise our way through epic Hebrew poetry, you can pick out a song that is meaningful to you and that women can sing together. After that, the women traditionally recite a blessing of “Mi Shebeirach Imoteinu,” or, “May the One who blessed our Mothers bless us.” It’s a refreshing change from the often male-gendered liturgy, and a cool See JEWISH WOMEN on Page THE
New Online Learning Platform Aims To Bridge The Gap Between Us Jews And Israel By Michele Chabin
The small virtual classrooms of the Ofek Hub program encourage interaction between students and teachers, as well as among students. (Courtesy of Israeli American Council)
When the first wave of coronavirus infections reached the American South, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, knew the religious school’s classes at his synagogue would have to move online. But he also knew his institution was ill-equipped to make that change. “We are a small congregation – 170 households – and our religious school is generally run by volunteer teachers,” Cytron-Walker said. “We don’t have a paid religious school director. When COVID hit, we literally had no clue what we were going to do. We did not feel that parents without education training would be able to create a safe environment or teach online.” Searching for options Amy Hamilton, chair of Beth Israel’s education committee, discovered the Ofek Learning Hub, an Israel-centered, Jewish distance learning program taught by experienced educators and accessible to students of all ages in North America and beyond. Launched in the spring by the Israeli American Council, or IAC, the program offers classes on an array of topics related to Judaism, Jews and Israel in Hebrew or English (or both). The idea is to maintain and cultivate American Jews’ connection to Israel even at a time when travel to Israel is not possible because of the coronavirus. Ofek Hub’s development is part of the IAC’s general approach to identifying needs in the American Jewish community and coming up with innovative ways to meet them. Founded by Israeli Americans living in California, the IAC has made this sort of startup mentality part of the organization’s DNA. THE
In this case, Ofek Hub was created to meet the urgent needs of North American Jews left without an educational framework when COVID-19 suddenly forced them to shutter their schools, synagogues and Jewish community centers. Its small virtual classrooms (10-15 students) encourage interaction between students and teachers, as well as among students. The program’s mostly Israeli-American teachers have been trained to utilize the latest online learning tools specifically suited for distance learning. Most of the classes run for five sessions and cost $65. While many of the classes are directed at young children, teens and adults use Ofek Hub, too. So far, more than 1,600 students have taken over 100 courses through the program. “We saw a community in need,” said Shoham Nicolet, IAC’s cofounder and CEO. “When the pandemic struck there was confusion. Everything stopped in one day. People weren’t clear what education would look like.” Although the hub was born in response to the pandemic, it’s not just for the pandemic, Nicolet said, highlighting Ofek Hub’s broader mission to help Jews in the Diaspora strengthen their ties with Israel, Israelis and the Jewish people as a whole. “Ofek will be here for many years,” Nicolet said. “We said there is a crisis, but what opportunities can the crisis bring to the Jewish community? This is an opportunity to make Israel-focused Jewish education affordable and cutting-edge for individuals and institutions.” For the IAC, creating Ofek Hub is a natural progression. The organization was founded 13 years ago to help Israelis living in North America feel more anchored to both Israel and their local Jewish communities. “We saw a threat,” Nicolet said. “They weren’t connected to the American Jewish community and were integrating into larger American society at a high rate. For the most part, they were ignored by
both the American Jewish community and Israel, and as a result got disconnected from everything.” IAC’s outreach has helped an entire generation of young Israeli Americans feel connected to their Israeli roots and one another, he said. The organization’s events also draw large numbers of young Jews whose families are not Israeli. Ofek’s online community is similarly helping people feel more connected at a time when Jewish institutions have had to scale back or eliminate in-person gatherings due
to COVID-19, Nicolet said. The courses include Hebrew ulpan language learning (beginner to advanced) as well as classes on Israeli innovation, Israeli culture, food, music and diversity, the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, the effects of technology on children, a course geared to bar- and bat-mitzvah kids, book clubs and more. Michelle Levin, 55, and her daughter Gabriella Levin-Meer, 16, See ONLINE LEARNING on Page
Best Wishes for a Happy Chanukah!
Judge Kern Reese
Orleans Civil District Court Section L
JEFFERSON PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY
PAUL CONNICK, JR.
Happy Chanukah to all my friends in the Jewish Community
A lma I Converted Through Reform Judaism.
Stop Telling Me I’m Not A Jew. Jessy Kuehne This article originally appeared also a hard one. The day I convertin Alma. ed was the day I fully started to understand how hard being a Jew can be — not due to anti-Semitism or being less than 1% of the population in my Canadian city, but because of the deep divisions within my city’s Jewish community. There is a sum total of one mikveh in my city, tucked away (Vector illustration / Getty Images) within the Modern Orthodox synaI’ll never forget the day I con- gogue. I was converting through verted to Judaism — after all, it was Reform Judaism, but my rabbi was one of the best days of my life! able to book our use of the mikveh After years of studying, learning in advance. But on the day of my and teaching, I finally achieved the conversion, they locked us out. My goal I’d had from the age of 16. But rabbi, the beit din and I were all while it was an amazing day, it was locked out of the building by the
Best Wishes for a Happy Chanukah! Thank you for your continued support! Lambert Boissiere
Public Service Commissioner, District 3
Happy Chanukah to all my friends in the Jewish Community! Thank You for Your Support!
14 Chanukah 2020
Modern Orthodox rabbi who argued that Reform Judaism wasn’t “real Judaism.” This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as my rabbi and the Modern Orthodox rabbi did not have the most positive relationship, though it was still very unsettling. After a half hour of back and forth on the phone between them, I was finally let in and converted into the Jewish people. While both rabbis have since moved on to other communities and the relationship between the Reform and Modern Orthodox rabbis in my city has seemed to improve, this experience left a scar on my conversion and my feelings toward the Jewish community as a whole. Choosing to convert through the Reform stream was an easy choice for me, as all of my Jewish friends attended the Reform synagogue. As I continued through my conversion process, I became part of the larger temple community, teaching in the Hebrew school and getting involved in adult education programming and community initiatives. I loved that our community was inclusive and accessible to everyone. At the time of my conversion, my temple was the only space in the city that was openly welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community. It was important to me to join a community that aligned with my personal values. But over the years, I’ve continued to feel ostracized in my city’s larger Jewish community for converting Reform, whether by community partners I’ve worked with or by people who I assumed were friends in other denominations. The most telling is people’s silence when someone else says something unkind or untoward about me. When nobody else speaks up, I’m left to feel that everyone agrees. One year, a few weeks before Yom Kippur, I was at a friend’s birthday dinner with a large group of young Jewish professionals, all women. An acquaintance was telling the table that she had no tickets for the High Holiday services at the same Modern Orthodox synagogue that locked me out of my conversion. She was afraid she wouldn’t get tickets and would not be able to attend. While the rest of the table was silent, I offered to get her and her husband tickets to my temple. This specific person had previ-
ously mentioned her disdain for Reform Judaism, stating, “Reform Judaism isn’t actually Judaism.” Knowing this, I said to her, “I know my temple isn’t where you would want to be, but if you don’t get tickets to your synagogue, I’d love to have you.” Her response was to curl her lip in disgust and say, “I appreciate it but honestly I’d rather not go to services at all.” She then looked me up and down before saying, “It’s sweet that you’re so involved with the community, considering you’re not actually Jewish.” Sitting in stunned silence, I watched as the rest of the group nodded along with her, some even going so far as to verbally agree with her and say things along the lines of, “No offense, Jessy, it’s just that you’re not.” The conversation of my not being Jewish and how it was laughable that I considered myself to be Jewish continued throughout the evening until I made the executive decision to respect myself and leave. While I know this is a reflection on them and not on me, it’s another slap in the face to converts. Most of us don’t talk about or share our conversion experiences, choosing instead to quietly blend into the community so that our presence isn’t questioned. For many people, conversion was the most painful time of their lives, when family and friends turned their back on them. We’ve had to create new roots for ourselves and accept that some people won’t accept us — and that’s outside the Jewish community. Within the Jewish community, we draw lines at how someone converted and how they choose to worship. I know Jews who have converted in several different denominations of Judaism, who have left synagogues, had to move cities to find their right communities where they were accepted, or have given up on being Jewish entirely based off of negative interactions with other Jews. I know people, including myself, who have been kicked out of Jewish learning groups for our denomination of worship or conversion status. We, as a group, need to realize See CONVERTED on Page THE
New Ebook Of Essays On Outstanding Books About Zionism Offered For Free
(NEW YORK) In honor of the 140th anniversary of the birth of the great Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky a new eBook of essays about outstanding Zionist history books is being offered for free by Herut North America, the grassroots movement for Zionist pride and education. The collection includes essays about classic, hard-to-find books by Zionist thinkers, Israeli political figures, and journalists and is designed to give these history books the attention they deserve and seldom receive. The 20 page PDF booklet also contains an exclusive excerpt from the recent book "Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question“ by Eric Rozenman plus other features. Herut North America's free eBook "Zionist History Books & Jabotinsky: Collected Essays" is now available at https://herutna. org/jabotinsky-collected-essays "Zionist education is Herut's main mission, and has been since our inception, and one reason for
the publishing of this anthology of book reviews was to allow readers to learn more about how Ze'ev Jabotinsky's ideas inspired his Zionist movement to take action on behalf of the Jewish People for the last 100 years," said Moshe Phillips, the National Director of Herut North America. The eBook is collated from Herut's ongoing "Zionist History Book Of The Month (TM)" series that is distributed by Herut North America to Jewish newspapers and news websites as well as on social media. Also included in the eBook is a never-before published memorial tribute for Jabotinsky's biographer, Joseph B. Schechtman. The Schechtman feature, by Yisrael Medad, who is the retired Director of Educational Programming and Information Resources at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, marks the 50th anniversary of Schechtman's death. "Work like the "Zionist History Book Of The Month" campaign is what sets Herut apart from other Jewish organizations -- it's the dedication to Zionist education that is in Herut's DNA as part of the legacy of Jabotinsky, and we embrace our duty to educate like no other Zionist movement today,” stated Karma Feinstein Cohen, the Executive Director of Herut North America. "This eBook is a natural extension of our "Zionist History Book of The Month" ongoing project, and we now find that the interest in Zionist history is growing in the U.S for the first time in a long time."
Bookshelf Happy Hanukkah to all my friends in the Jewish Community. Thanks for your continued support! Belinda Constant
Mayor, City of Gretna
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Israeli Teen Deni Avdija Goes To Washington Wizards With 9th Pick Of NBA Draft, Making History By Marc Brodsky
Deni Avdija, shown as a member of the Maccabi Tel Aviv team in 2019, on being such a high NBA choice: "I'm still thinking it's a dream." (Seffi Magriso/ Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
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(JTA) — Deni Avdija, the 19-year-old Israeli basketball phenom, was taken by the Washington Wizards with the ninth overall pick of the NBA Draft on Wednesday night – the earliest an Israeli has been picked in league history. Avdija, a lanky 6-9 forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel’s top professional league, becomes the second player from the Jewish state to go in the first round. Omri Casspi, also a standout forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv, went 23rd to the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 draft and played 10 years in the NBA for several teams. “Israel is a small country, to represent the country and be in the highest spot is amazing,” Avdija told ESPN. “I’m super excited to take my game to the next level.” Asked what message the so-called “Prince of Tel Aviv” would send to family, friends and fans at home in Israel, he said, “I love them and I’m gonna make you proud.” One ESPN broadcaster called Avdija, considered the top international prospect, maybe the “steal of the draft” while lauding his basketball IQ. The draft was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to the media by Zoom after being chosen, Avdija said he couldn’t imagine being a lottery choice out of a small country like Israel. Making history, he said, is “a blessing.” “I had the whole nation behind me,” he said. “I’m still thinking it’s a dream.” He and Casspi spoke about playing in the NBA. “We talked a lot about the rookie year specifically, about the skills I would need, all the travel and the schedule,” said Avdija, who turns 20 on Jan. 3. ESPN has described Avdija as a future “big playmaker” — tall
enough to play power forward, but also with the “ballhandling, creativity and playmaking skill” of a point guard. Its scouting report adds that he brings “toughness, competitiveness and swagger.” Avdija, a native of northern Israel who lives in the coastal town of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, holds dual Israeli and Serbian citizenship. His father, Zufer, a Muslim SerbianIsraeli citizen, played for his native Yugoslavia’s national basketball team as well as several Israeli pro teams in the 1990s. His mother, Sharon Artzi, is a Jewish Israeli and former track and field athlete. Asked about his father’s role on his basketball journey, Avdija told the media, “It was great to have another competitive spirit in the house. He told me how to act on the court, some small tricks he used in his game that I could use, to work hard, how to be a professional, always to be competitive and to play to win.” Though he’s just getting started in his NBA career, Avdija was asked about paving the way for future generations of Israelis. He also called that a blessing. “I’m glad that they will have somebody to look at and learn,” the teen pro said, “to show that even though we’re a small country we can do big things.” A second Israeli was picked Wednesday night — marking the first time that two Israelis were picked in the same draft. The Boston Celtics took Yam Madar with the 47th selection. The 19-year-old has played for Hapoel Tel Aviv, in the same Israeli league as Avdija, for the past two years. He’s a 6-2 point guard described as a solid defender and passer. Madar, at least for the 2020-21 season, will likely play overseas as the Celtics have few roster spots available. Boston will retain his rights. During the ESPN broadcast, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who guided the U.S. team to the Maccabiah Games gold medal in 2009, made an appearance to praise his player Isaac Okoro, who went fifth to the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Character counts,” Pearl said of Okoro. “He’s a winner.” Pearl took some ribbing from ESPN’s Rece Davis over his gray beard. THE
Jewish And Into Video Games? There’s An Esports League For That. By Ben Sales
A screenshot from a Lost Tribe Esports tournament where participants played Rocket League, a game in which flying cars play soccer. (Screenshot)
(JTA) — One day last year, when she was on a break from playing basketball at a Jewish community center, Sara Levenson came upon a room full of people playing video games. She joined in on a lark and soon found herself drawn into a game called Rocket League, a video game, or “esport,” where cars play soccer against each other, occasionally colliding. Like most members of Gen Z, Sara, 14, has been playing esports for years, first on her older brother’s Xbox console, then on her own. She also plays the popular shooting game Fortnite on her computer. A few months ago, with most inperson basketball (and other sports) on hold due to the pandemic, Sara started playing in a Jewish video game league called Lost Tribe Esports, and recently found herself going deep in a Rocket League tournament on a team with a friend she’s met only virtually — in fact, through playing Rocket League against him. “It’s really interesting how far esports have come, and how some people see it as kind of equal to physical sports now, and just the level of competitiveness,” she said, counting herself among those who see esports and traditional sports as equivalent. Sara is one of the thousands of Jewish teens who have played esports with Lost Tribe, which has garnered a lot of interest since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Jewish camps, teen trips and youth group programs were cancelled this year and more people have stayed inside. Some 4,000 kids have played in its tournaments since the start of the pandemic. The league was founded in 2018 by Lenny Silberman, a former Jewish camp director and the former THE
director in North America for the JCC Maccabi Games, an international Jewish athletic tournament. Just as Jewish organizations have long used sports to connect Jewish kids, Silberman says Lost Tribe hopes to do the same thing with video gaming, which is now usually known as just “gaming.” “You have to go where the kids are at,” Silberman said. “There’s nothing Jewish about esports just like there’s nothing Jewish about basketball or tennis or baseball before the JCC Maccabi Games.” Sara’s experience appears to be a case in point: She said she’s drawn to Lost Tribe for the gaming and the ability to meet friends — not necessarily due to anything explicitly Jewish. But she added that, as a girl in a space thought to be dominated by men, she appreciates the league’s focus on safety in online spaces, something Silberman said is informed by its Jewish values. “There’s definitely a lot of girls in esports, but I think a lot of them are too scared to show up because there’s a toxic community that’s been formed — that esports is just for guys and meant for them,” Sara said. “So I think Lost Tribe is really just a safe space to get more girls to do it.” Lost Tribe’s tournaments are restricted to kids who are ages 13 to 17 and who register in advance. Lost Tribe has policies to ensure adults don’t get into the teen space and monitors communications so employees can spot and prevent abusive language or conduct. “As long as I’ve been around, there hasn’t been anything super hateful or anything like that,” said Jake Offenheim, Lost Tribe’s gaming and program associate, who loves gaming and turned down a spot at law school for the job. “It’s a pretty loving and strong community in comparison to a lot of other gamer cultures, I think because of the Judaism aspect, we all have a united thing, other than gaming.” Those privacy policies, plus the influence of gaming culture, mean that Offenheim doesn’t know the kids’ names even as he gets to know them online. “Internally we have registration with the real names,” he said. “But
I’ll refer to them as ‘Fortify’ or ‘David Potato.'” There appears to be a lot of room for additional growth. Research from YPulse, a marketing firm that focuses on Millennials and Generation Z (which began in the late 90s), found last year that three-quarters of Gen Zers play video games once a week. Despite the image of gaming as a mostly-male phenomenon, YPulse found that 60% of Gen Z women also like to game. Another study by Morning Consult found that 41% of Gen Z men use Twitch, a video game streaming site. Lost Tribe engages kids by organizing tournaments of popular video games, like Rocket League; Fortnite; the basketball game NBA 2K20; and Super Smash Bros., a fighting game featuring classic Nintendo characters. In addition to the teen tournaments, Lost Tribe also holds tournaments for adults and women’s only tournaments. Players can sign up, connect and chat through a channel on the social media network Discord. Lost Tribe streams parts of its tournaments on Twitch. Offenheim calls plays in the games, like a sports announcer, with another employee, and the language can be hard to follow for people who are unfamiliar with gaming. “Dark with the demo! Going for the squad wipe!” one of them exclaims during a recent Rocket League match, as two of the players
crash into each other. “Unfortunately this isn’t a Fortnite tournament,” the other commentator says. “Yeah, you do not get points for elims,” the first one says. (For the record, the commentators are referring to demolitions, when one car destroys another by crashing into it; squad wipes, when one team destroys both of the other team’s cars; and elims, or eliminations, which are valuable in Fortnite, the shooting game.) Lost Tribe is also trying to inject some explicitly Jewish content into its programming. One recent Instagram post features a meme with a turbocharged car carrying an Israeli flag, and reads “Shabbat shalom from Lost Tribe Esports.” The league hopes to bring American teens to Israel for an esports tournament once such trips become possible again. But the idea is for Judaism to be a subtle addition to the games, not the focus — get Jewish kids in the same (virtual) space, and use that as a gateway to more substantive Jewish experiences. “I don’t want to go in there and bonk anyone over the head with my degree from JTS,” said Sara Beth Berman, Lost Tribe’s director of Jewish content and education, referring to the Jewish Theological Seminary. “Make it cool, make it fun, make it competitive and bring in the Jewish.”
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The closing event at Chabad's annual conference of worldwide emissaries was filmed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and streamed around the globe. (Bentzi Sasson/Chabad.org)
(JTA) — At the end of the annual conference of Chabad emissaries from around the world, they typically take a giant group photograph in front of the movement’s headquarters in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. But this year, no camera at the Kinus Hashluchim could capture the nearly 6,000 participants at once: They were on Zoom from their separate computers and time zones. The video version was a concession to the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted the globe for nearly a year. What’s more, the conference didn’t really end. Without planes to catch and families to head home to, the emissaries who assembled on Saturday night for a post-Shabbat party simply never signed off. The conference began Thursday over Zoom and took a break over Shabbat before resuming Saturday night with a virtual melave malka, a post-Shabbat party, and farbrengen, a Hasidic gathering where stories and words of Torah are shared. The event was supposed to start in Melbourne, Australia, the first place in the world where Shabbat ends, and continue as Shabbat finished around the world, with the emissaries in Hawaii and Alaska the last to sign on. All of that happened. But instead of ending the meeting when the main conference resumed on Sunday, Chabad rabbis logged in as
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they were able. On Tuesday night, at least 750 people were still logged on, according to Rabbi Motti Seligson, director of media relations for Chabad.org. Posts on social media suggested that number had actually risen on Wednesday afternoon. “You have people who are connecting and inspiring one another in a way you would have thought would not be possible because they weren’t able to gather this year in person,” Seligson said. He noted that one rabbi in California who is unable to travel because of advanced ALS was able to participate this year. The conference typically meets for four days in Brooklyn, where the Chabad emissaries, or schluchim, gather with friends from around the world and attend sessions on all aspects of their work on behalf of the Hasidic movement. This year’s forum included sessions on how to deal with Zoom fatigue and how to run a camp safely during the pandemic. In a typical year, a massive banquet at the end would feature a roll call of every country where the Chabad movement has emissaries. At the Zoom gathering that replaced the banquet this year, the movement announced the founding of the first Chabad center in Lagos, Nigeria. It also celebrated approximately 100 Chabad couples being sent out as new emissaries, including Rabbi Levi Duchman, now the official emissary to the United Arab Emirates. But it was the celebratory Zoom meeting that took on something of a life of its own. The singing and l’chaims may even continue until Shabbat, when the emissaries will log off, time zone by time zone. “As long as there are people who want to listen and share and be inspired, it’s going strong,” Seligson said.
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HBO Series ‘Valley Of Tears’ `Reopens Wounds Of The Yom Kippur War By Gabe Friedman
"Every year there are new documentaries," said co-creator Amit Cohen. "But nothing has the same visceral effect that this show has." (Courtesy of HBO Max)
(JTA) — In an early episode of “Valley of Tears,” the Israeli miniseries about the 1973 Yom Kippur War that debuted in the U.S. on HBO Max on Thursday, a main character grimaces as he falls awkwardly against a rock toward the end of a tense battle sequence. There’s no blood on his uniform, so it’s apparent that he must have hurt himself in the tumble. During filming, life imitated art: The actor Aviv Alush, who plays the heroic Yoav, broke his ribs against the rock. “The actor jumps up and he starts to scream, he’s like ‘Ah, ah!’ And we film it, and he says ‘No, it’s for real!’ And we’re like ‘Yeah, it’s for real!’ And we keep on shooting,” said director Yaron Zilberman. “We had that [type of] thing several times. We call it the gods of cinema.” Meticulous realism was central to the production, which is being touted as the most expensive in Israeli history, and is currently breaking Israeli viewing records. Israelis are “very neurotic as an audience and will always check every small detail,” said co-creator Ron Leshem. Before writing, he and cocreator Amit Cohen studied Israeli army lingo and thousands of soldier testimonies. They also found and rehabilitated tanks that were actually used in the war with the help of Israel Defense Forces technicians, who outfitted them with new engines. “I’m so envious of the people who have so much free time to dive into checking if this kind of candy bar was already available [back then],” Leshem said on a Zoom call from his home in Boston. “They’re obsessed.” But Zilberman, Leshem and cocreator Amit Cohen also felt an unprecedented level of pressure in bringing to life a war that had both traumatized so many Israelis and had never been portrayed on this kind of cinematic scale. They say THE
the show, which has been airing in Israel for weeks, has already succeeded in “opening the wound” of the war — a phrase all three used — and helping families begin to reckon with their repressed experiences of it. Cohen, who like the other two says he has been deluged with texts and online responses about how accurately the show has depicted the war, calls it a kind of “national therapy.” “Every year there are new documentaries, or you have special editions in the newspaper with interviews and exposés bringing new stuff. But nothing has the same visceral effect that this show has,” Cohen said on Zoom from Los Angeles. The Yom Kippur War was Israel’s worst military disaster, bringing the country to the brink of destruction only six years after the 1967 SixDay War, which established Israel as the region’s premier military power as it dispatched forces from Jordan, Syria and Egypt in a matter of days. The opening of “Valley of Tears” contains newsreel and other footage meant to convey how elated Israeli society felt after that win.
repel them to reach a ceasefire, both sides suffered heavy casualties. Israel’s pretense of military invincibility, and Israelis’ feelings that their country was finally secure, was shattered. “Valley of Tears” focuses on three days of fighting in the Golan Heights, the disputed region of northern Israel bordered by Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It follows a diverse slate of characters trying to survive the chaos that unfurls: Avinoam, the shy and awkward “tapper” who has a pet hedgehog; Yoav, a daring soldier who unexpectedly bonds with Avinoam; Dafna, a female officer who is more competent than her male counterparts but gets sidelined because of sexism; Meni, a playboy journalist (played
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Imri Biton, left, and Ofer Hayoun as Alush and Marco in “Valley of Tears.” (Courtesy of HBO Max)
But by 1973, Israel’s army had become relatively complacent — something the show drives home through one of its main characters, an intelligence wiretapper named Avinoam, who pleads with his commanding officers, to no avail, to prepare for a surprise attack. “The reason is people were euphoric,” Zilberman said. “In six days [in 1967], Israel almost tripled its land! You say, ‘Wow our superiority is so major’ … The country felt that the Arabs will never try again.” The war gets its name from the fact that Egyptian and Syrian forces began their attack on the Yom Kippur holiday, when much of the country was fasting and praying. They quickly made threatening advances over Israel’s borders, and though Israel would eventually
by Israeli star Lior Ashkenazi) trying to find his son; and soldiers Marco, Alush and Melakhi, three members of the Israeli Black Panthers, a protest movement partly inspired by the American group of the same name but focused on social and economic equality for Sephardi and Mizrahi immigrants. The diversity is intentional, as the creators aimed to capture a “wide lens” view of Israeli society at the time, to represent how the entire country was affected. “Most families have some story — it’s a brother, it’s a sister it’s an uncle, it’s a father, we all have these stories,” Zilberman said. As the
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We Need To Step Up Our Charitable Giving During The Pandemic — It’s The Jewish Thing To Do By Yvette Alt Miller This article originally appeared in Kveller.
A man and a woman giving charity (Natty Blissful/Getty Images)
It’s been decades since I ordered food at a McDonald’s. I’ve kept kosher since I was 18 and, outside of Israel, at least, Mickey D’s is decidedly treif. Except the other day, I found myself entering and ordering a decidedly nonkosher cheeseburger and fries. To be clear, the food wasn’t for me. After months of sheltering in place in my suburban neighbor-
hood, I could no longer put off a downtown appointment. So the other day I headed to Chicago’s central business district, making my first journey to the Loop since March. It felt like something out of a dystopian movie. The typical afternoon crowds had disappeared: There were no masses of people hurrying along the wide avenues; gone were the packs of tourists that stopped foot traffic as they gaped at the city’s skyscrapers. There was also hardly any litter — even the alleyways, usually full of detritus, were eerily clean. Homeless people seemed to be the largest contingent I saw. On most corners I passed, there were several. “Can you help me out?” one
Integrity • Hard Work • Fairness Integrity • Hard
implored. Another asked for money, saying he was cold and wet and needed help. The amount of need felt so overwhelming that at first I rushed past them all, ignoring their pleas. Then, just before I boarded a train that would take me back to the suburbs, I asked myself why I hadn’t helped anyone. After all, I had some cash on me: Why hadn’t I given any out? Just then, I was approached by a skinny man about my age who asked for help. “Sure, I can help you,” I said as I reached for my wallet. “I don’t want your money,” he responded. “Can you buy me a meal instead?” “Of course,” I replied, trying to mask my shock as it occurred to me that as I almost rushed by, there was a human standing here hungry. I’d given plenty of money to beggars in my life, but nobody had ever asked me to buy them food directly. I asked him where he wanted to go, and he led me to a nearby McDonald’s, one of the few restaurants that was still open — another shocking aspect of Chicago’s newly quiet downtown. My new acquaintance ordered a cheeseburger. Before I paid, I hesi-
tated. “Why didn’t he order dinner, too, for later?” I asked. He ordered Chicken McNuggets and some sides. I swiped my credit card: a total of $16 for providing a day’s worth of food. “God bless you — you’re the only one who stopped,” he told me. In a time of such enormous need, his words broke my heart. After all, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the U.S. economy — as well as much of the world’s. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that about one-fourth of Americans have had trouble paying their bills over the past seven months. Demand at food banks has risen at an “extraordinary rate,” according to The New York Times, and up to 14% of American parents now say their children are not getting enough to eat. “The number of families having difficulty affording food has exploded during COVID-19,” the nonpartisan Center on Budget Policy and Priorities recently noted. Each week, a food pantry near my home offers drive-through food See CHARITABLE on Page
Work • Fairness
In the race for Juvenile Court, Clint Smith has been walking the walk of a Judge long before he ever decided to begin a campaign. He has spent over 30 years engaged with the youth of New Orleans beginning when he was a student at Tulane University and became President of the Public Interest Foundation. He has continued his service to youth by mentoring through organizations like Omega Psi Phi, the Silverback Society, and the Isaiah 43 Program. But Smith knows that a judgeship on Juvenile Court isn’t a popularity contest, but rather it is based on principles. He specifically chose to focus on Juvenile Court, not Civil District Court, or Criminal Court, both of which had open seats this year, because he knows this is where he can make the most impactful change. He especially wants to impact young men and women entering the juvenile detention system, because he knows that sending them here is comparable to a graduate school of criminology!
Clint Smith has also served as an ad hoc Judge of Juvenile Court, being mentored by former Judge C. Hearn Taylor. He has also served as Judge Pro Tempore for Orleans Parish Traffic Court. He has been a Partner at Bryan & Jupiter Law Firm, where he oversaw litigation involving the Orleans Parish School Board and administrators, faculty, and students. He is currently in private practice. Smith’s peers have trusted and commended him for his intelligence, diligence and good judgment, and he has honored their trust with a career of distinction. He has served and demonstrated his commitment to our community for decades, and as judge, he will honor our trust with integrity, hard work and fairness.
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Thank you to all my friends in the Jewish Community for Your Support!
Criminal District Court, Section K Thank you to all my friends in the Proud Supporters of Jewish Community! Stephanie Bridges for Judge: I appreciate your suport & your vote. • The Black Organization for Court, Leadership Development Criminal District Section K • Former City Council Member - Arnie Fielkow • State Senator - Karen Carter Peterson • Council Member - Kristen Gisleson Palmer • Woman On The Move - Ms. Roberta Brown • Coroner - Dr. Dwight McKenna • CLOUT - Concern Leadership Organization Unity Tenacity • A Community Voice - Ms. Vanessa Gueringer • Elder Lisa Wiley • Former LA Public Service Commissioner - Irma Muse Dixon • Former State Senator - David Heitmeier • Former Council Member - James Carter • Former Council Member - Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson
I would very much like to thank Former City Councilman Arnie Fielkow for his mentoring and support! I humbly ask for your vote on December 5. that they were the determinants of their own fate. It was only after several conversations with my mentor within the organization that I realized I hadn’t followed my own teachings; I loved my work, but I felt that I could be doing more for my community and the city where I was born. After much deliberation and a great deal of encouragement, I decided to apply to law school and attended Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.” “In pursuit of my law degree, I quickly found myself in my mother’s shoes; I studied and took night classes all while working a fulltime job, continuing to volunteer within my community, and, most importantly, caring for my family. After a great deal of hard work, and with the help of my husband (my high school sweetheart), I graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2006. Since graduation, I’ve gained a vast amount of experience within the legal field. I worked as an assistant city attorney for the City of New Orleans for four years and within my own private practice for thirteen years. I’ve practiced law in both criminal and civil district courts in multiple parishes and at both the trial and appellate level.” “As a wife of over thirty-five years and a proud mother of four incredible young men, I understand the importance of feeling and being safe. There isn’t a moment that passes when my sons are away that I do not worry about their safety. I know this city. I’ve attended its schools, worked with its youth, and volunteered within its communities in several facets for decades. Alongside my legal experience, my work with business, community, political and faith leaders, and community activists to further facilitate acceptance and empowerment of others makes me uniquely qualified to be Judge of Criminal District Court, Section K.”
“I am the right candidate at the right time. My experiences qualify me to be a fair, honest, and impartial judge who brings new ideas As the second of nine children, Stephanie Bridges learned at an early but can also expand upon existing programs that aid in making age the meaning of responsibility and the value of hard work, education, our courts just and balanced.” and community. “I was a leader within my childhood household for “If I am elected as your next judge, I vow to meet every defendant’s as long as I can remember; I can recall having to stand on a stool to constitutional right to a speedy trial. I will ensure that proceedings cook for my younger siblings because I was too small to reach the are scheduled well in advance to allow everyone, beginning with me, top of the stove on my own. Our mother worked hard during the day to be prepared to move forward with the case. I will also explore while also attending nursing school at night. That left me with many different ways of sentencing without compromising the integrity of responsibilities, something that I did not see the value of at the time. the court or the safety of the community while addressing the harm.” My mother is an incredibly strong woman, whose perseverance in spite “Finally, I will seek to convene a Community Advisory Committee of hard times taught me the true meaning of commitment; this laid the comprising of Community and Faith Leaders to advise on key foundation for my work with the city of New Orleans’ youth.” community issues. My goal is also to expand on the Re-entry Court “After graduating from the University of New Orleans, I worked as Workforce Development Program begun by Judge Laurie White and an executive in a non-profit dedicated to serving our youth. Our former Judge Arthur Hunter. A key effort to reduce recidivism is to mission was simple: encourage them to reach their highest potential. link ex-convicts to long-term employment. I will not just be a judge For over twenty-four years I dedicated myself to this cause, doing my during trial and sentencing, but will be an advocate after the sentence best to instill in them the idea that their potential was limitless, and has been completed!”
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Israeli Scientists Pioneering New, Less Invasive Breast Cancer Detection Methods By Larry Luxner
Cancer researcher Dr. Albert Grinshpun of Jeruslem's Hadassah hospital, standing, supervises medical student Yogev Cohen, a member of Grinsphun’s team studying the use of liquid biopsies to diagnose breast cancer. (Courtesy of Grinshpun)
Every day, hundreds of thousands of women worldwide get mammograms, and thousands more are sent by their doctors for biopsies to confirm or rule out the presence of breast cancer — painful, anxiety-filled procedures that don’t always return accurate results. Dr. Albert Grinshpun of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem wants to change that. His goal:
to perfect a universal liquid biopsy approach to early detection of circulating, cell-free DNA in breast cancer patients long before the cancer can spread and threaten their lives. A liquid biopsy examines a body fluid, typically the blood, for evidence of cancer. “With the standard exam, if you find something suspicious, you send the patient for a biopsy, which means putting a needle into the breast and taking some tissue,” Grinshpun said. “Only 25% or even fewer of those biopsies turn out to be cancerous, which is great for the patient, but what about all the time and effort invested by the medical system?” Mammograms, generally recommended annually for all women over age 50, also sometimes miss tumors, especially in younger women with dense breast tissue.
While doctors sometimes recommend that such women get an MRI, it’s expensive, often isn’t covered by health insurance and like all tests can incorrectly report a positive result. Women sometimes are subject to multiple biopsies. “This puts them under terrible stress,” Grinshpun said. By contrast, liquid biopsies allow researchers to isolate genetic material known as circulating cell-free DNA (or cfDNA), from bodily fluids. Extensively studied by Grinshpun’s mentors at Hadassah and Hebrew University, Yuval Dor and Beatrice Uziely, the procedure detects DNA in the blood from tumor tissue. “Many people believe liquid biopsy is the future of medicine,” Grinshpun said. “We want to develop a test that will fit all women.” Grinshpun hopes that accurate liquid biopsies will be the culmination of a new three-year research project he began on Sept. 1. That project is being financed by a $200,000 grant co-funded by the Israel Cancer Research Fund, or ICRF, and Conquer Cancer, an effort of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Conquer Cancer said it was drawn to support Israeli
oncology research thanks to the ICRF, which raises millions of dollars annually in North America to support cancer researchers working in Israeli hospitals, universities and other institutions. “Providing support for projects like this, which focus on the development of technologies to enhance the early detection of life-threatening cancers, resonates with our donors because it holds hope for improved cancer outcomes in the near term,” said Dr. Mark Israel, ICRF’s national executive director. Circulating cell-free DNA has the potential to be a universal and powerful marker for detecting and monitoring breast cancer, according to Grinshpun. In a study published earlier this year in Annals of Oncology, Grinshpun and his team examined the cfDNA from the plasma of 34 patients with localized breast cancer before and throughout treatment with chemotherapy. High levels of cfDNA indicate aggressive molecular tumor profiles and high levels of metabolic activity. But he found that during chemo, cfDNA levels fell dramatically, and the presence See CANCER on Page
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CANCER Continued from Page 22 of breast cfDNA toward the end of chemo treatment reflected the existence of residual disease. “If you’re able to find and isolate DNA from the tumor, you can get a lot of insights, such as the tumor’s response to therapy, its size and how it developed,” Grinshpun said. “Ideally we will take women who come for biopsies and analyze their blood for cfDNA from the breast. Our goal is not to avoid mammography but to avoid unnecessary biopsies.” Genetic testing for families of BRCA carriers
Scientist Sivia Barnoy is working on ways to identify carriers of mutations of the breast cancer BRCA gene by identifying blood relatives of those diagnosed with hereditary conditions and who are at high risk of cancer. (Courtesy of Barnoy)
Another pioneering Israeli breast cancer researcher, Sivia Barnoy of Tel Aviv University, is working on ways to identify carriers with mutations of the breast cancer BRCA gene through “cascade screening” — the process of identifying blood relatives of people diagnosed with hereditary conditions and who are at high risk of cancer Barnoy’s project involves 350 Israeli women of all ages, and is being done in collaboration with similar studies now underway in
Switzerland and South Korea. Under Israeli law, genetic test results belong to that person only. While surveys show that the vast majority of patients would disclose results to family members, often they end up not doing so because they can’t find the right moment or don’t feel comfortable, according to Barnoy. As a result, some women who test positive for a BRCA mutation that causes breast cancer fail to inform at-risk relatives. “Often they disclose this information just to the immediate family, but not to their cousins,” said Barnoy, a geneticist and associate professor of nursing at Tel Aviv University. “We want to examine the whole family tree. This way we can promote the health of these people, get them to reveal this mutation and have other family members get tested.” Barnoy’s team is using hospital records from Tel Aviv’s Ichilov and Haifa’s Rambam hospitals to examine patients’ disclosure behavior. The study, being financed by a three-year, $180,000 ICRF grant, is particularly relevant for Israel, given that 2.5% of all Ashkenazi Jews carry a BRCA mutation, compared to less than 0.25% of other populations. Breast cancer metastasis Hava Gil-Henn, an assistant professor at Bar-Ilan University, is working on a project to understand the molecular, cellular and wholeorgan aspects of breast cancer metastasis — secondary malignant growths found distant from the primary site of the cancer. “We focus on metastasis because this is what generally kills breast
cancer patients,” Gil-Henn said. Currently there is no inhibitor to arrest metastasis. The goal of GilHenn’s project, supported by a three-year, $180,000 grant from ICRF, is to find one and develop better prediction tools. Similarly, Hebrew University researcher Yoav Shaul is studying whether metabolism plays a role in the ability of cancer cells to become more aggressive and metastasize. Proliferation of cancer cells isn’t the only danger, Shaul said. Over time, cancer cells also can become more resistant to chemotherapy, and they have the ability to migrate and form metastasis. Some cells even within the same tumor can vary in their levels of aggressiveness. Trying to counter that aggressiveness, Shaul’s lab is using a three-year, $135,000 ICRF grant to study whether it’s possible to “switch off” the specific metabolic enzymes expressed by aggressive cells. That, Shaul hopes, will inhibit the progression of treatable low-grade tumors to
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more advanced, untreatable stages. This understanding, Shaul said, eventually “could lead to the development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs that will maintain the cancer cells in their less aggressive form.” If successful, these researchers’ work could result in significant gains in scientists’ understanding of how cancer cells behave — and how to more effectively treat them. This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Israel Cancer Research Fund, whose ongoing support of these and other Israeli scientists’ work goes a long way toward ensuring that their efforts will have important and lasting impact in the global fight against cancer. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.
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On This Unique Jewish Dating Site, Moms Get To Play The Yenta By Sara Ivry
"We need to make a website where Jewish mothers can be the yentas they were meant to be," says Jeffrey Kaplan, founder of JustKibbitz.com. (RgStudio / Getty Images)
On a visit home to Fort Lauderdale back in 2013, Jeffrey Kaplan and his then-girlfriend watched as Kaplan’s mother pulled out her computer to show them the fake JDate profile she’d put together in a stealth effort to help Kaplan’s brother find love. “She was worried about him not finding a Jewish girl to marry,” Kaplan said. At the time, he was a graduate student in entrepreneurship at the University of Florida. “I remember the drive back to Gainesville, thinking to myself: When you see a person go to absurd lengths to solve a problem that should be easily solvable, there’s opportunity there,” he recalled. “It clicked for me: We need to make a website where Jewish mothers can be the yentas they were meant to be.” That was the germ of the idea for JustKibbitz.com, a unique dating site where fathers, grandparents, friends and — yes — Jewish moms can channel their inner yentas by setting up profiles for their loved ones to try to find them a potential match. The site is meant for Jews of any stripe. Kaplan, 34, and co-founder Mike Ovies launched the site earlier this
year after winning $150,000 at an investment capital pitch contest in 2019. Both employees at a software development company, they spent a lot of their spare time over the last two and a half years doing market research into dating apps, millennial dating behavior, Jewish dating trends and more. On JustKibbitz.com, the yentas do all the legwork — setting up profiles, scrolling through potential matches — and can even pay for the date in advance and determine where it will take place. (Of course, the target of their matchmaking must agree.) “We put all the responsibility on the parents to know their kid and know what they want,” Kaplan said. Pandemic-era social-distancing limitations notwithstanding, Kaplan thinks now is a great time to launch a dating app of this kind. “Single millennials are spending 10 hours a week on dating apps. They’re online increasing their iso-
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lation in coronavirus,” Kaplan said. “So this app feels like a breath of fresh air, an alternative, letting someone who knows you best to set you up. The pressure is taken out.” Noting the prepaid feature of the dating app, Kaplan said that surveys show that 92% of single millennials would go on a date set up by their parents if it was pre-paid. So far, hundreds of people have signed themselves and their children up, according to Kaplan, proving that the concept works. Among them is Theresa Levy, a Jewish preschool director in Jacksonville, Florida. Eager to help her daughter find a partner, Levy recently started sussing out potential matches. She knows that some parents on the site may over-praise their kids and be blind to their shortcomings. Nevertheless she says she sees great merit in the approach JustKibbitz takes. “It’s not going to be a booty call thing,” she said. “If you want that, go on Tinder. This is more of: ‘Hey, let’s meet and get to know each other and our parents know about it.’ There’s a little bit more accountability because parents are involved, and I like that for people like my daughter.” On JustKibbitz, parents play the role of matchmaker. (Courtesy of JustKibbitz.com) A child’s willingness for their parents to set them up speaks volumes about the quality of their relationship, Levy said. “It’s a really strong vote of confidence,” she said. “If you have a strong relationship with your family, that’s got to spill over into other areas of their life.” Her daughter, Marie-Claire Levy, 26, is game for her mother’s involvement. “I’m kind of lazy,” said the younger Levy, who works at a Jewish nonprofit in New York. She learned of the site from a friend, thought it was funny (including the over-the-top promotional video), and told her own mother about it. “I don’t care if my mom signs up. It gives her something fun to do, and I’m not the best at putting myself out there.” What JustKibbitz understands is that when you’re dating someone,
or when you marry them, the relationship is larger than just two people, said Sheri Jacobs, a a Houston-based actor and author of “The Friendship Diet: Clean Out Your Fridge, Get Real With Yourself, and Fill Your Life With Meaningful Relationships That Last.” “You’re also dating this family,” Jacobs said. Jacobs married someone whom she met on a dating site, and they had two sons before getting divorced. “He looked great on paper,” she said of her ex-husband. “Had my mom been involved, I don’t think I would’ve married him. There were too many red flags.” Jacobs praised the buy-in from would-be daters like Marie-Claire Levy that JustKibbitz requires. “You’re not crossing boundaries. If your son or daughter says, ‘No mom,’ you’re not going to do it. But if your son or daughter says, ‘I want your help,’ it paves the way for potential romantic dates, and it paves the way for potential between mothers and sons or fathers and sons or daughters or whatever — it creates a platform for a more authentic dialogue.” It’s “a nice hybrid of tradition and culture,” Jacobs added, “and simultaneously modernizing the dating experience, especially in our pandemic world.” One of the things that makes JustKibbitz unique is its implicit recognition that the parents of those in a relationship will themselves forge a unique bond that may last a lifetime, Kaplan said. With JustKibbitz, they may create those bonds even before the couple does. “No other culture has a word for ‘macheteniste’” — the Yiddish term for the relationship between two sets of in-laws, Kaplan observed. “Even when you’re dating, there’s this anxiety of ‘Are your parents going to like this person you’re bringing home?’ JustKibbitz eliminates that.” This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with JustKibbitz.com, the only Jewish dating site that helps someone you love find someone they'll love. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team. THE
5 Hanukkah Food Hacks To Make Your Holiday Dinner Easy And Delicious By Lauren Manaker
Jelly doughnuts (Getty Images) This article originally appeared in Kveller. As the Festival of Lights approaches, you might fry latkes and making applesauce in your dreams. The food is delicious and everyone is content and full, and above all, the meal is mess and stress-free. Then reality sets in: You are seriously so busy this time of year! While you may want to instill some tasty Jewish traditions in your family, do you really have time to shred a few bags of potatoes, or knead some finicky sufganiyot dough? Thankfully, this is 2020 and not 1920. These days, our grocery store shelves are stocked with convenience foods, so use them to your advantage! If you know what to do, it’s super easy to make a delicious, “semi-homemade” Hanukkah meal that will still create lasting memories. Read on for our top Hanukkah food hacks — they’re kind of like having your sufganiyot and eating it, too. For easy latkes, use pre-shredded hash brown potatoes. No Hanukkah celebration is complete without latkes, but the prep work can be extremely time consuming, tedious, and possibly a bit dangerous (especially if you have little helpers in the kitchen). But here’s some good news: It’s possible to have tasty not have bloody knuckles. Refrigerated and bagged shredded potatoes make frying up latkes a snap! Just swap out fresh taters with the bagged alternative in whatever recipe you use, and most people won’t even taste the difference. Pro tip: If you are trying to sneak in more veggies and/or have lowcarb guests to entertain, check out this recipe for Cauliflower Latkes using pre-riced cauliflower instead of potatoes. THE
Make zero-effort homemade applesauce in an Instant. Yes, you could just buy some jarred applesauce. But does anyone with teeth (and, um taste buds) actually like the stuff? If you have an Instant Pot — or any pressure cooker — you can make homemade applesauce in a flash! Just toss eight peeled, cored, and chopped apples into the pressure cooker with 1 cup of water, juice from ½ a lemon, and cinnamon to taste. After the lid is secure and the mixture is cooked on high pressure for 8 minutes, mash up your apples to the consistency of your desire. Of course, you have to then make the most important decision: chunky or smooth? Pro tip: Put a Johnny Apple Peeler on your Hanukkah wish list to help make the prep even easier! If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can still make easy homemade applesauce by using this recipe. Use pre-packaged biscuit dough for the easiest sufganiyot ever. Kids generally love making treats like sufganiyot in the kitchen with their family. But when you if you’re having guests over, or if you’re generally not the type who enjoys baking, there’s a hack for that: Use refrigerated biscuit dough — the kind that comes in a tube — instead. (Just don’t tell Bubbie!) Simply break apart the pre-portioned dough and fry the biscuits in heated oil until golden on both sides. Amazingly, you don’t even have to cut circles. The biscuits come pre-sliced! How perfect is that? If you happen to have a pastry bag in your kitchen, fill it with your favorite jarred jelly and push the tip into the middle of the donut. Squeeze the jelly into the doughnut until it is filled with enough sweetness to make your dentist cringe. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you have a couple of options: You can cut your donuts in half and put some jelly in the middle of the pastry, like a sandwich, or simply serve jelly as an accompaniment to the fried biscuit for dipping. Pro-tip: Not sweet enough for See HOLIDAY DINNER on Page
Hear Me Out: Hummus Pizza Is Actually Delicious Maddy Albert
Hummus pizza. Yes, really. (Merril Buckhorn/Getty Images)
This article originally appeared in The Nosher. When we think of pizza, most of us think of a combination of marinara sauce, melty cheese and crispy crust. But not all pies need to include these ingredients. Enter: hummus pizza. Yes, it exists, and it’s kind of awesome. This innovation often includes the usual trappings of a Mediterranean veggie pizza, like olives, a rainbow of vegetables and doughy crust. But instead of adding cheese and sauce, you use hummus as a substitute. In other words, hummus pizza may look less like a traditional Italian American slice and more like an open-faced pita. Sounds weird? Maybe. But if you’ve ever tried salad pizza or other pizza varieties that add toppings after the dough has been baked, you’ll know that great pizza can sometimes exist outside of the conventional trappings of cheese or sauce. Vegan chef Tabitha Brown loves how hummus takes the place of cheese, suggesting red pepper hummus for extra flavor. Brown’s recipe also includes pineapple pieces for a sweet twist! Check out her recipe for hummus flatbread pizza here. Vegan Heaven shares an example of hummus pizza with a similar Mediterranean flair, topping the pizza dough and hummus layer with “spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and
red onion.” The author also includes her recipe for a yummy homemade pizza crust. But not all hummus pizza is vegan. This veggie pizza recipe from allrecipes.com uses hummus only as a substitute for typical marinara sauce. While the recipe includes a sprinkling of cheese, you can always substitute vegan cheese or leave off the cheese entirely. I’m all about Slim G’s take (@ videomeals), which includes spinach and a fried egg, and looks a little like shakshuka. Although I was initially skeptical of the idea of hummus pizza, I am starting it to see it as a beautiful example of the mix of America’s myriad food traditions. Because sharing food is so integral to sharing culture, this mix of Middle Eastern and European traditions is a perfect example of the sought after “melting pot” of American cultures. With globalization comes hummus pizza. And I’m here for it. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media
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In A Striking Move, State Department Plans To Label 3 Large Human Rights Groups As Anti-Semitic By Ron Kampeas And Ben Sales
Gilad Erdan, left, Elan Carr and Mencahem Magolin presenting a report on BDS in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 25, 2019. (Yonni Rykner)
WASHINGTON (JTA) — In an unusual move, the State Department is planning to formally identify three large international human rights organizations as anti-Semitic, citing disputed aspects of the groups’ agendas. Elan Carr, the department’s antiSemitism monitor, is planning to release a statement calling on governments not to support Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Oxfam, congressional sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The planned statement was first reported by Politico on Wednesday, just as the State Department began a two-day conference on anti-Semitism that featured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a range of other officials and ana-
lysts. The conference, which focused on online hate, emphasized anti-Semitism from the left and Islamic terrorists, including antiIsrael activism. Some panelists did discuss far-right anti-Semitism as well. Politico reported that the statement will cite analysis by some pro-Israel groups concluding that the human rights groups back the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel. The groups say they do not support or oppose BDS, but they are sharply critical of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. According to Politico, the West Bank issue would also feature in the State Department statement. “The criteria they seem to be using are preposterous and we hope they will come to their senses and withdraw it,” Eric Goldstein, the deputy director for Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa region, told JTA. “Calling them anti-Semitic would invite repressive regimes around the world to dismiss human rights organizations on this basis and that would actually be counterproductive to the cause of human rights.”
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Goldstein said Israel’s settlements were a natural target for criticism by human rights groups. He affirmed that his group backed a U.N. registry of companies that do business with settlements, an initiative aimed at allowing consumers to decide whether they want to buy settlement-made products. “We have a responsibility to not associate with human rights abuses inherent in settlements,” Goldstein said. The three groups in question rate governments on an array of human rights issues, among them speech freedoms and the treatment of captives, minorities and political dissenters. Their assessments are based on first-hand investigations and reports from people on the ground. It’s not clear what the effect of the designation, which is unprecedented, would be. The groups do not receive U.S. funding. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, who heads T’ruah, a liberal rabbinic human rights group, said diminishing the influence of human rights watchdogs was counterproductive. “They hold Israel to human rights standards, as well as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority,” she said in an interview. “They report on abuses in ways that Palestinians living in those places cannot.” The Anti-Defamation League also criticized the planned statement as a move that “would politicize the fight against antisemitism.” “We strongly believe that these organizations are crucial to ensuring robust civil society and democratic protections worldwide,” the ADL said, adding that has had “significant disagreement” with the three groups on Israel policy. It added that calling the groups antiSemitic “is neither accurate nor helpful to the fight against antisemitism.” Rep. Andy Levin, the Jewish Democrat from Michigan, appealed on Twitter to the State Department not to release the statement as described in Politico. The groups “do essential, often dangerous work to protect human rights,” he said. “I know because I worked for one of them. Criticizing Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitism. I know because I do so out of love for a country I want to thrive.” Levin, a human and labor rights advocate before his 2018 election, once worked for Human Rights Watch.
The State Department anti-Semitism conference on Wednesday, in the vein of previous discussions of anti-Semitism by the administration, focused on anti-Semitism from the left and from militant Islamist groups. True to its theme, many speakers talked about the proliferation of hate online and how to combat it. No sessions focused primarily on white supremacist groups, which the Department of Homeland Security recently called the “most persistent and lethal” terror threat in the country and which have organized online in recent years. Rep. David Cicilline, a Jewish Democrat from Rhode Island, last week urged Pompeo to include sessions in the conference focused on far-right anti-Semitic groups that back Trump. Notably, the ADL, the most prominent Jewish organization combating anti-Semitism, was not included among the speakers. Another anti-Semitism watchdog that has been less critical of Trump, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was included, as were other pro-Israel organizations. But officials, including Netanyahu and others, did mention neoNazis among the dangerous groups facing the Jewish people. Some criticized anti-Semitic invective directed at the billionaire progressive philanthropist George Soros, though at least one speaker, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, pushed back on the notion that criticism of Soros is anti-Semitic. “Contemporary anti-Semitism feeds off its more traditional precursors, often focusing on the state of Israel, which for the modern anti-Semite is the manifestation of the collective Jew,” Netanyahu said. “Today people with opposing political agendas can nevertheless find themselves united in hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. The neo-Nazi, the ultra-left revolutionary, the Islamist militant might agree about nothing else, but they all do share a common hatred towards us and that hate is awash across the internet.”
I Thought Anti-Semitism Was A Problem Of The Past. Then I Became Jewish.
Kylie Ora Lobell
Visitors look at items well-wishers have left behind along the fence at the Tree of Life Synagogue on the 1st Anniversary of the attack on October 27, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
(JTA) — It wasn’t until I started converting to Judaism that I realized that anti-Semitism is very much alive and well — and it’s only getting worse. Last year saw the most antiSemitic incidents in 40 years, according to the Anti-Defamation League. While the numbers aren’t yet in for 2020, there have been anti-Semitic events every month of the year so far. And yet, when I talk to my family about anti-Semitism and why I don’t feel safe here in America anymore, they don’t quite understand. I don’t expect them to, either. If you have never been discriminated against for your identity, then you simply can’t comprehend how it could happen to others, either. You don’t know how scary and powerless you feel when people say they hate you. Growing up in a white home in a predominantly white neighborhood in Baltimore, I never once faced racism or any form of discrimination. My family and I pretty much looked like everyone else. We could blend in and there were no differences between the people in our community and us. On the other hand, in high school, when my mom moved us to Pikesville, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, I noticed that they looked different from us right away. Mostly, I’d see them on Saturdays, wearing all black and pushing baby strollers. The only thoughts that crossed my mind were, “Wow, Jewish people walk a lot,” and “They must be really hot in that dark clothing.” Unlike my mom and I, they couldn’t hide who they were. Today, I’m one of those Jews walking on Shabbat around my neighborhood, which is a little frightening nowadays. But the few THE
times when I have experienced real anti-Semitism, ironically, have occurred when I wasn’t easily identifiable as an Orthodox Jew. Like the time my landlord told me her father used to “Jew people down,” or when my Uber driver said Jews control the world and like to make little children into matzoh ball soup (really!). The topic came up because we were driving through a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles and he spotted some haredi Jews. The first incident was offensive, and the latter was horrifying. I shared these stories online and with my family, because the only way nonJews can slightly understand what is going on is if we tell our stories and show them our lived reality. It took me a while to get to this place, though. I didn’t want to comment on anti-Semitism because I didn’t want to seem like I was being dramatic. One thing that anti-Semites say online is that anti-Semitism doesn’t actually exist, and Jews make it up or are exaggerating it. I gave into that for a little bit, sadly because I didn’t want to face harassment online. But we must speak up. This summer, I witnessed #JewishPrivilege shift from an antiSemitic hashtag on Twitter to one where Jews were sharing their antiSemitic trauma. I shared the landlord and Uber stories, and also posted, “#JewishPrivilege is when a Hollywood agent yelled at my husband, a comedian, for taking off Jewish holidays because ‘You can’t do that in this business!’” and “#JewishPrivilege is having to hire an armed guard for our synagogue because Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh and Poway.” I received more engagement than I’ve ever achieved on the platform. One person told me “F— Israel” and another called me a “heathen” for converting. But overall, I found massive support from non-Jews and Jews alike, with many retweeting me and agreeing with what I had said. It empowered me to keep tweeting about anti-Semitism. We must continue to speak up, show our vulnerability and humanity and help the non-Jewish community understand. Black Lives
Matter is very effective at showing people outside of the Black community their pain and trauma and has gained a huge following, with people of all different races and backgrounds supporting them. There’s no reason that anti-Semitism and its effects shouldn’t be understood and rejected just as firmly as racism. Unfortunately, a lot of non-Jews think that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past that died with the Holocaust and society has advanced since then. I certainly did before I converted. But when talking about anti-Semitism in the classroom, it has to go way beyond the Holocaust so people can very much realize it’s alive and well today. Recently, a teenager asked my husband to take off his hat so he could see if he had horns. Maybe if that teen had gotten a better education on anti-Semitism, he would have thought twice before saying that. When I talk to my family about how America is quickly becoming like Europe before the Holocaust
and how I want to move to Israel one day, they say “Really?” and find it hard to believe. “Why would you move so far away?” they ask. I tell them I want to survive. I send them news articles to back up my claims. I hope they’re beginning to understand. I hope they see that Pittsburgh and Poway were not isolated incidents but indicative of a bigger issue going on. It may seem dramatic, but I’m OK with being dramatic now. I’m not going to apologize for bringing up the trauma I’ve experienced. That’s not my job. I’m done with feeling powerless. If our collective chorus gets louder and louder, and we tell our non-Jewish friends and family about anti-Semitism, they may just start to understand — and become valuable allies in the process. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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My Two Homes — Israel And The Us — Feel Like They’re In Collapse. What Do I Do Next? By Ben Hartman
Left: Israelis protest in support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020. (Amir Levy/Getty Images) Right: A woman protesting the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. (Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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A version of this piece originally appeared on the author’s blog and was reprinted with permission. (JTA) — Last month, I filled out a request for an absentee ballot for the U.S. presidential election. At the top of the form it had two relevant options — I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country, and I intend to return; and I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country, and my return is uncertain. Both of these have been true for almost two decades. I’ve spent the last 17 years split between the United States and Israel — and for the first time, I’m not sure I want to be in either place. Back in March, a few weeks into Israel’s first lockdown, I was feeling fortunate about riding out the pandemic in Israel. As terrifying as the whole situation was, I had confidence that the country could go on a war footing, come together and stop at nothing to defeat this enemy. A lot can change in seven months. By the start of the High Holidays in late September, Israel had the world’s highest per capita rate of infections, and we’ve been averaging more than one death per hour for weeks now. A new nationwide lockdown is in place, and while they originally said it would last only three weeks, there’s no reason to believe it won’t last much, much longer. If my kids go back to school at all before January, I’ll consider it a victory. Just as the pandemic has revealed America’s failures, it has done the same for Israel, including in ways that are painfully similar to the U.S. — a lack of planning or decisive action even after we knew what we were facing (between the end of the
first lockdown and the launch of the second, there was an absolute failure to develop any track and trace system, to name just one failure); the elevation of cronies and the demonization of qualified public servants; a growing embrace of conspiracy theories and a leader who rejects personal responsibility for the failures. But the U.S. and Israel are failing in their own unique ways. In Israel, the epidemic has laid bare our struggling, overtaxed public health care system (we have 3.0 hospital beds per 1k people, well below the OECD average of 4.5), our failure to carry out long-term strategic planning and our corrupt political system which for over a decade has revolved around the political career of one man. It has — again — highlighted the prime minister’s knack for thriving in chaos and sowing internal discord, shifting the battle from one against a deadly virus to one between those who want to gather in closed synagogues and yeshivas and those who want to demonstrate against the government. Like always, it has also meant turning everyone against the media and the left. Realizing all of this comes with great grief. The feeling is no longer fear, it is despair and anger. It is the hopelessness of not really seeing an end in sight, and having no faith in our leaders to get us there. It is the furious realization that all that time was squandered and that as a nation we will still refuse to take any proactive steps that could have political costs for Netanyahu. There is also an awareness that no matter how much you’re following the rules, countless people everywhere around you are flaunting them. And they hardly make much sense to begin with. It’s now up to each person to take care of themselves and their family, and it didn’t need to be this way. This isn’t what I was looking for when I moved to Israel the first time in 2002, or three years ago See MY TWO HOMES on Page THE
The Next 4 Years Will Be Tough For Jewish Conservatives. Here’s How We Can Still Advance ProIsrael Policies. By Josh Hammer
An Israel supporter at a New York rally to tell the United Nations "no more antiIsrael documents or resolutions," Jan. 12, 2017. (Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)
(JTA) — Litigation surrounding the 2020 presidential election is set to continue for a while, and the state legislatures do not need to report their official results until Dec. 8. A constitutional attorney by training, I know how complicated things can get: I recently served as a researcherwriter for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the drafting of his new Supreme Court book, and we dedicated a chapter to the Bush v. Gore litigation in 2000 (Cruz was a lawyer for Bush’s Florida recount team at the time). The election litigation
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this time is perhaps less likely to succeed for Republicans, but we’re still in for a bumpy few weeks. But assuming for argument’s sake, and based on what we’ve seen so far, that Biden has indeed won the presidency, here’s what his administration means for my fellow Jewish conservatives, Republicans and Trump supporters. According to Republican Jewish Coalition exit polling data, Trump won over 30% of the Jewish vote nationwide — a strong showing given the historic baseline, and likely the strongest since the 1980s, when the Democratic Party was similarly tainted by a recent antiIsrael president. Crucially, AP VoteCast data suggests that Trump won 43% of the elderly-leaning Jewish vote in Florida, helping him improve upon his 2016 margin of victory in this most quintessential of swing states. Orthodox Jews in particular firmly estab-
lished themselves during the Trump era as a reliable Republican voting bloc, and there is no indication this might change anytime soon. We don’t know what will happen in the next four years. But Republican Jews do know that Biden’s agenda on Iran, Israel and other issues is not our own, and that he has the power to make worrisome changes even with the check of a Republican-majority Senate. My advice for the next four years is threefold: * Biden’s administration must hold the line against the Democratic Party’s far-left progressive wing, which is increasingly unabashed in its anti-Zionism and sometimes veers into outright anti-Semitism. * Similarly, Senate Republicans must utilize their full arsenal of constitutional tools to hold the line against the administration on Jewish-related issues. * Finally, fanciful though it may
seem, pro-Israel public figures of all stripes must launch a full-throttle campaign to convince the BidenHarris administration to steer the course paved by the Trump-Netanyahu debunking of the decades-long failed Middle East consensus — and to resist resuscitating the worst proclivities of the Obama administration. That may be difficult for Biden and Harris, the most liberal senator in 2019, according to GovTrack. But the administration would be wise, for its own political selfinterest if nothing else, to reject the noxious brew of “defund the police” anarchism, socialism lite and antiAmerican intersectionality that corresponded with Republicans posting their best performance with nonwhite voters in six decades and to Democrats losing winnable House and Senate races. The Republican Senate, for its See NEXT 4 YEARS on Page
Wishing my many friends and supporters in the Jewish Community a happy Chanukah.
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MY TWO HOMES Continued from Page 28 when we moved back after a stint back in my home state of Texas. Many new Israelis – especially journalists like myself – come here looking for a life-less-ordinary, to travel the region and beyond, to be part of history in the making in the Middle East, or at least to write for a living and have fun while doing it. But whatever you did for a living, there was the joy of living in Tel Aviv in your 20s, spending countless nights in a club, a sherut, a park bench or a bar – like one of those people adrift in the background of a certain Evyatar Banai video. That joy has been sapped now, and it’s unclear to me when and how it can ever return. In Israel, there is chaos. The pandemic is completely out of control, the acrimony in the politics is worse than at any point since I’ve lived here, the economy is in a free fall, the cost of living is sky high and always will be, and unlike in my 20s, I no longer have a grasp on the youthful idea that things will or can actually be better here. Meanwhile, I hear friends in the U.S. talking about leaving the country, and while some people made remarks like that back when Bush won reelection in 2004, this time it seems more serious. I also think they’re rational, and they’re thinking practically, not just emotionally. I’ve spent the past 17 or so years with a foot in two worlds – here and there. If I’m here I compare everything to there, and vice versa. But when both of your countries are in collapse, what can you do? What happens when neither feels like a great option anymore?
PROPORTION Continued from Page 9 Lately, I’ve thought more and more that maybe I’ve been going about this the wrong way. It’s not Israel or the U.S., it’s whichever one vs. somewhere else, a third country. It’s the idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be a choice between two countries in deep peril. I have no idea what this third country could be, though my wife and daughters are Canadian citizens and that would probably make the most sense. For now at least, I’ve found comfort and a new daydream to get lost in, hammering out the details of the “Third State Solution.” When I think about being an immigrant, and the way (conservative) people talk about immigrants in the States, it doesn’t really sit right. There is this approach that there are bad immigrants and good immigrants who “contribute to society.” In other words, we judge them on the net benefit they have brought to their adopted country. I never saw it like this. I feel that Israel was good for me, that the country gave me more than I gave back, and it’s an experience I would wish upon any immigrant to the States. This country gave me a career, my family, and a million life-changing experiences I would have never had anywhere else. But someday I’d like to stop repaying the debt. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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key, which used to have 39,000 Jews in 1970, now has only 14,600 of them. That drop is the product of a low reproductive rate and a high emigration rate amid what many local Jews call the rise of government-supported anti-Semitism. Turkey is not alone: “Low fertility is characteristic of Jews in Europe, with the exception of those countries possessing large populations of strictly Orthodox Jews. Intermarriage, operating on the back of low fertility, complements the picture – these two factors in combination create a situation where the reproductive capacity of many European Jewish populations is low and conducive to future numerical decline,” the report states. Intermarriage rates are lowest in Belgium, where just 14% of Jews are estimated to be married to nonJews. They are highest in Poland, where the equivalent proportion is 76%. The figure was 24% in the United Kingdom, 31% in France and above 50% in Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The report’s findings on Germany are remarkable because it had seen an influx of about 200,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union following its collapse in 1990. That wave, as well as the immigration of about 10,000 Israelis, had revitalized German Jewry. But the newcomers have failed to change the community’s demographic trajectory because many of them and their children intermarried, stopped considering themselves Jewish, emigrated elsewhere or died, the study shows. There are some exceptions to the picture of decline, and all are occurring in countries where the Jewish community has a large Orthodox contingent. The Jewish populations of Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, all with sizeable strictly Orthodox communities, “may be growing, or at least, not declining,” according to the report, which is based on official census data, community figures and the 2018 EU survey. In Belgium, where more than half of the country’s 29,000 Jews are Orthodox, 43% Jewish households have at least four children, the study shows. In the Netherlands, where Orthodox Jews make up only a tiny minor-
ity of that country’s similarlysized Jewish community, only
Antwerp has a large population of haredi Orthodox Jews. (Alexander Stein/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
about 18% of families have that many children. Still, Belgium is seeing what some Jewish community leaders there are calling a “silent exodus,” which is marked by the sale of former synagogues and the closure of Jewish educational institutions in Brussels. In the United Kingdom, the Jewish minority has declined by 25% from 1970, down to 295,000 members, the study said. But the community is displaying potential for growth, as 33% of its households have at least four children. (For comparison, that figure is 26% in Germany and France, 25% in Hungary and 21% Denmark.) The report’s findings on the number of Israelis living in Europe are also surprising, and they contradict estimates that there are tens of thousands of them living in Berlin alone. The survey claims there are only about 70,000 Israel-born individuals living on the entire continent, with more than half residing in the United Kingdom (18,000), Germany (10,000), France (9,000) and the Netherlands (6,000). Still, Israelis have been a stabilizing force for the Jewish communities of countries with very small Jewish communities — for example, they account for over 40% of all Jews in Norway, Finland and Slovenia; 20–30% in Spain, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands; and over 10% in Luxembourg. Overall, though, the declining trend reshaping European Jewry is not likely to be reversed, according to the study. “Only under exceptional circumstances do demographic trends radically modify their course,” the authors wrote. But, they added, “such modifications have actually occurred more than once in European Jewish demography during the last hundred years alone.” THE
ONLINE LEARNING Continued from Page 13 of Marin, California, decided to study Hebrew with Ofek because they wanted to maintain and improve the level of Hebrew they attained while living in Israel a few years ago. “Taking this class online is such a game changer,” said Michelle Levin, who enrolled in consecutive Level 2 Hebrew classes for adults. Gabriella took Hebrew with other high school students. “The flexibility of being able to take a class from home means that I can just sign in and go,” Levin said. “You also can’t beat the price. The teachers are all very professional and devoted. They truly want to provide a class that meets all of the students’ needs.” Levin said she felt a growing sense of Jewish community thanks to the interactions with her classmates, who hailed from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Brooklyn. “The instructors are very innovative in using technology to bring the Hebrew language alive,” she said. “They often use short videos of songs and conversations which show natural language and then we discuss. The classes are very well organized.” On the class WhatsApp group, students and teachers continued to chat during the week. “We are truly creating an online community of learners – something that I wasn’t sure would be possible,” Levin said. Bobbi Feinstein from Las Vegas enrolled her 12-year-old granddaughter Sari and one of Sari’s friends in an Ofek baking class for tweens. “The kids loved the class and
GENESIS Continued from Page 5 the recipes,” Feinstein said. “Sari isn’t fluent in conversational Hebrew, so the teacher used the cooking class to teach Hebrew in a fun and engaging way. The amazing thing was that my granddaughter did not even notice she was learning Hebrew.” Thanks to the class, Feinstein said, when she and Sari are baking together, her granddaughter enthusiastically teaches her what she has learned. “It’s been a win-win,” Feinstein said. When Beth Israel partnered with Ofek, the synagogue worked with the program to create content customized to the congregation’s needs. Today, all of its Hebrew school classes are run by the hub. In one Sunday school class, teacher Mor Cohen taught the seven days of creation with an animated video and game that required her young charges to match words (sky, animals, fish, birds, day, night, rest) with days one to seven. The students chatted not just with Cohen but with one another. Hamilton, the synagogue’s education committee chair, said Ofek’s classes have exceeded expectations. “My bar for success was not hearing complaints,” Hamilton said. “In reality, the students are saying they’re getting a lot out of the experience. They’re continuing their Jewish education while feeling part of something. What more can we ask?” This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Israeli American Council. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.
European branch of the Jewish outreach organization Moishe House, which subsidizes homes throughout the world that serve as Jewish community hubs for Jews in their 20s. Moishe House is using the funding to expand its volunteer activities in support of isolated, elderly Jews affected by COVID-19 in Madrid, Moscow, Paris and Rome.
Moishe House Rome residents and community members assemble and distribute Rosh Hashanah boxes for local Jews in need, September 2020. (Courtesy of Moishe House)
“We received this grant to increase the work we do fighting loneliness and isolation,” Alejandro Okret, chief global officer at Moishe House, said in a phone interview from London. When the pandemic hit Italy, Moishe House residents in Rome immediately set up donation points at three supermarkets where they encouraged people to donate food or take whatever they needed. They also launched an effort to record the stories of their grandparents, to keep them engaged and connected with others. In Moscow, Moishe House volunteers made phone calls to isolated elderly people, and delivered them medication. In Paris, participants read for the blind. Genesis Prize grants also went to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers of Israel, which has seen a 40%
surge in domestic violence cases during the pandemic; the Weizmann Institute of Science, to help develop a coronavirus vaccine; and to Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering for coronavirus-related research. The Genesis Prize organization is expecting at least 75,000 people to cast online ballots before voting concludes on October 26. The winner will be announced in early 2021. If this approach proves successful, Rakitt said, all future laureates will be selected this way. “It’s a reflection of the way the world is going,” Rakitt said. “For years, the Genesis Prize was modeled on the Nobel and other prestigious prizes. It had a limited number of people who could nominate, and an even more limited number who could select. We want to hear the voices of the Jewish community around the world. That’s why we’re opening up the process.” This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with The Genesis Prize Foundation, which aims to foster Jewish identity, inspire Jewish pride and strengthen the bond between Israel and the Diaspora. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.
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JEWISH WOMEN Continued from Page 12 opportunity to improvise your own prayer and gratitude for the women who came before us. Next comes the chance to go around and get to know everyone, so pull out your best summer camp icebreakers and find creative ways to put everyone at ease. It’s beautiful to encourage every woman to name their mothers and grandmothers as well, lighting a candle for each one in the center of the table, bringing our personal histories into the circle. A Communal Bat Mitzvah
The North African sfenj (Getty Images)
One awesome tradition is the presentation of the bat mitzvah girls of the year — consider it our very own debutante ball, but this time, it’s up to the moms and aunts to cheer, bless, and generally love up these young girls as newcomers to the women’s circle. It’s also traditional to prepare foods together, like the North African favorite sfenj — think jelly doughnuts meet churros drizzled with honey — or honey cakes and cookies, or a potluck din-
HBO Continued from Page 19 ner. Mishloach manot — gifting packages of food and treats — is also part of the Eid Al Bnat tradition, so the Jewish mom Tupperware buffet is a must at this party! The Power Of Women’s Circles Since this festival is based on the stories of Judith and the daughter of Yohanan the Hasmonean, it’s important to tell, read or act out their stories, reflecting on the power of women. It’s also a good time to share the history of the holiday, passing on wisdom from generation to generation and sharing the customs across different cultures. Women’s groups have a natural intimacy, so it’s fun to play with the format and find ways to connect. In Jerusalem, we played a game that asked each woman to share a tip or a gift with another, which included everything from womb meditations to honeybee secrets to how to cope with mourning a loved one. You can share poetry, songs or just the best thing your mother ever taught you. Whether you share stories, get vulnerable, cook up a storm, or dance the night away, this night is for us all to celebrate the power of the ladies in our lives, and the bonds that keep us strong in the face of struggle.
Holocaust is to Jewish people as a whole, this war is to Israel, he said. The creators have personal connections to the war too — for Zilberman, one of his sisters lost her “soulmate, a major love,” in combat. The Avinoam character is partly inspired by Cohen’s father, who was in the same intelligence unit and broke down in tears while watching Avinoam’s pleas go unanswered, because he had tried the same thing during the war. Leshem’s father, who worked with computers in the army and became a reservist afterwards, was yanked from his life as an accountant with a young daughter to fight. Shavar Taboch, right, plays Avinoam, an intelligence wiretapper. (Courtesy of HBO Max) Leshem, who has worked with HBO before to adapt his teen drama series into “Euphoria,” noted that there have been a few fictional depictions of the war over the years, including a couple of novels, but nothing as all-encompassing as this. It took him and Cohen 10 years to get it fully financed, and the responsibility felt massive: “You’re choosing, in a sense, who will be remem-
bered,” he said. The filming process, which took place in the actual Golan Heights, wasn’t easy either. Filming stopped for three weeks at one point because fighting in Syria got too close to the set. Acquiring all of the tanks — which involved trying, unsuccessfully, to import some from the U.S. (where “people have a tank in their backyard and they’re selling it on Craigslist,” Leshem noted) — was an ordeal. One of the tanks broke down in the middle of a scene. And the shooting schedule was grueling. Zilberman said at times he managed only 10 hours of sleep in a week as they tried to film as much as possible in a day to stay within their budget. He and his crew learned how to sleep for 15 minutes at random intervals. “You don’t feel like you took a shower [at night] because the moment after you’d be back in the trenches,” Zilberman said. “You got the adrenaline. You know you are doing something that you have to give everything you got in order to get it right.”
CONVERTED Continued from Page 14 our strengths in accepting one another for just how beautifully diverse we are. My grandfather had a philosophy he wanted me to live by when it came to family: You don’t have to like each other, but you have to love each other. I believe this philosophy can be applied to Judaism and how we should interact as a people. You don’t have to like someone’s Judaism or how they live their life or express themselves. But you should love your neighbor — whether they be Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Renewal, Orthodox, Chabad, whatever! The day I was locked out of the mikveh with my rabbi, he looked at me and told me that situations like
32 Chanukah 2020
this were why we had to do better, be better, and work harder to acknowledge our differences and love each other for them. As my rabbi put it, “People who hate Jews hate Jews — they don’t see denominations of Judaism.” Life is too short, especially in this day and age, to tear each other apart over something as silly as how or where we choose to express our Judaism. The important part is we are supposed to be one people. It’s time we start acting like it. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
JACHNUN Continued from Page 10 at a time when business owners were cutting costs just to stay afloat. “I reached for grandmother Yonah’s jachnun recipes and granddad Zion’s zhug recipes and started rolling,” Gan said in an article about his coronavirus transformation for Alondon, a Hebrew-language magazine. Gan has applied his startup skillset to his new business, Jachnun Stories. “There’s a fundamental difference between making 10 portions to making 100, and it’s not only about multiplying materials by a factor of 10,” he told Alondon. As demand rose, “I was racing to catch up with it, learning as I went along how to make bulk while setting up a chain of supply, optimizing preparation, establishing a digital presence” and other aspects. His kitchen in London looks like a physics classroom. “The walls are full of charts, formulas and calculations, flow charts and work protocols,” he said. His business owes as much to his Yemenite grandparents as it does to his Ashkenazi grandmother who put him through his studies to become an engineer, he added. Ya’arit Stark, a stay-at home mom of two, began selling jachnun earlier this year in her apartment near Munich, where only a few hundred Israelis live. Her husband, Eran, who works in the tech sector, delivers the dishes across the Munich region by public transportation, she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a video interview that she gave while preparing a batch. Repeating the process that her 95-year-old grandmother, whose name is also THE
Yonah, taught her, she sprays the working surface with fat and stretches the dough until it’s the size of an average oven tray. She stops stretching when holes start to form in the nearly transparent sheet. “You need those holes, they’ll provide some airiness,” she said as she quickly folded the sheet inward over itself and placed the wrap in a Wonder Pot, an device possibly invented in Israel that is essentially a ring-shaped receptacle made of aluminium that’s especially useful for slow cooking. She fills the pot with jachnuns, spraying each unit with oil to keep them from sticking to one another. With fewer Israelis to buy jachnun, the Starks have had to make inroads with the other locals, whom she says “like Middle Eastern food but have a pretty limited selection of it, mostly made up shawarma.” A taste for novelty was what brought Max Breinbauer, a 26-yearold law student, to jachnun, which he had heard about during his Hebrewlanguage course. “I wanted something new and it was definitely that.
Satisfying, spicy and very simple,” said Breinbauer, who is not Jewish and one of the Starks’ regulars. While the future for pandemic pop-ups is uncertain, Gan, in London, said business is going well for now. “Turns out you can invent an
innovative technology, raise millions, start a firm and international operation from scratch, employ dozens of employees, win international competitions, and then hit the jackpot with some flour and water,” Gan wrote on Facebook. “We’re making lemonade out of corona.”
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Financial CHARITABLE Continued from Page 20 assistance. The line to receive these donated boxes of food is long and filled with later-model minivans. Just a few months ago, many of these people would never have imagined being in this position. But jobs have been eliminated, salaries have been cut and workers have been furloughed. Poverty and food insecurity aren’t always easy to spot — your neighbor, your child’s teacher, the parent serving on the PTA with you can all be suffering from food insecurity now. I’d like to say that the American Jewish community has stepped up to help. And, in many ways, Jewish institutions have indeed pledged funds to alleviate the worst effects of the pandemic. For example, Jewish federations have launched dedicated COVID-19 relief funds, such as the Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ of Greater Boston’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund and the Jewish United Fund of Chicago’s COVID-19 Initiative, which provides direct aid and assistance to those affected by the pandemic. In this unprecedented moment, it’s wonderful that many Jewish
institutions are reimagining themselves and redoubling their efforts to help those in need. But are we, as Jewish individuals and families, doing the same? Judaism mandates giving charity: The Talmud goes into great detail about the many obligations we have to help others, declaring “Charity is equivalent to all the other mitzvot combined” (Talmud Bava Batra 9a). The Jewish mitzvah of “maaser kesafim” instructs us to donate a portion of our income to charity. Rabbis through the ages interpreted this to mean that we should donate at least a tenth of our income to charity. For too many of us, however, performing this mitzvah feels like an impossible ideal rather than a tangible rule for life. I once heard a Jewish children’s song that described the Jewish mitzvah of tzedakah as “coins clinking in a can,” and I was so surprised: Jewish views of tzedakah are traditionally much more substantial — not just pocket change but enough money to materially help other people. Perhaps now it’s finally time for us to have a difficult conversation about our attitudes to giving charity and to the poor. Over the years, I’ve
heard some troubling comments reflecting a profound reluctance to help others. A friend once told me she didn’t donate her children’s castoffs to charity because she didn’t believe in helping people bear “children they can’t afford.” A 10-year-old student in one of my Sunday school classes was taken aback one day when we learned that the Jewish sage Maimonides taught that the highest form of charity was giving a poor person a job. “But poor people don’t want to work,” she said, no doubt echoing what she’d heard at home. “That’s why they’re poor!” Unsurprisingly, the reality is very different: A report in October from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the overwhelming majority of unemployed workers — 7.2 million — expressed hope of finding another job soon. That number was substantially higher than before the pandemic hit. These attitudes have long been a problem, but today they’re a crisis in our country that we can’t ignore. In a world buffeted by recession and sudden destitution, we need to rediscover the central Jewish tenet of charity more than ever. When people can no longer feed themselves — when people are begging on street corners, wracked by hunger and asking for succor — we have no choice but to step up and help. It’s time for us as a community to step up to the plate and, if we are in a position to help, we must increase our charitable giving. Whatever your current level of giving is, consider giving more. Reach out to your local synagogue, JCC or Jewish federa-
tion and ask what they’re doing to help people in your community. If you feel they’re not doing enough, urge them to do more, and consider volunteering to help spearhead new programs. Contribute to the emergency relief funds. Donate to established charities. And remember, too, that tzedakah isn’t always made up of money — if funds are tight, we can also help by volunteering our time and expertise. A few weeks ago, if you had asked me whether there was more I could do to help, I might have said no. I already donate between 10% and 20% of our income to charity. Each week, before I light my Shabbat candles, I set aside money for tzedakah. I might have said I was maxed out — I certainly would never have thought I’d be paying an impromptu visit to McDonald’s. But there’s always more we can do, more we can give. Judaism teaches that we are each here to fulfill a specific set of tasks that only we can perform and for which we’re given the precise, individual tools we require. Let this be our moment to shine. Let this pandemic be our time to step up and start helping our fellow men and women in their hours of need. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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HOLIDAY DINNER Continued from Page 25 you? You can also sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon on top of the warm doughnut to add a little more oomph if you wish! Let your slow cooker make the main dish. How exactly do you cook a brisket dinner for a crowd while also fulfilling all of your daily (as well as holiday-specific) obligations? By using a slow cooker, of course! This ultimate “set it and forget it” tool allows you to cook, slow and low, tough cuts of meat like brisket
without any worries about overcooking. Even better? About 10 minutes of effort will reward you with a super-tasty result. Just toss a brisket (fat side up) in a slow cooker with some cans of broth, sliced onions, carrots, garlic, and spices. Cook the dish on the high setting of the cooker for about 6 hours, or until tender. That’s it! Serve your brisket with latkes and a salad, and your dinner is complete. Pro-tip: For an easy-peasy but delightful serving option, slice up
NEXT 4 YEARS Continued from Page 29 the Iranian mullocracy and its henchmen, and instead returned to the failed decades-long consensus of browbeating Israel at every opportunity in order to force it to yield precious land for an elusive peace with an implacable foe. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the lie at the heart of Washington’s bipartisan professional “peace process” — namely, that broader Israeli-Arab peace was impossible without a twostate solution. The Abraham Accord definitively disproved this fatal conceit, shelving aside the “Palestinian veto” that had previously hindered Arab-Israeli rapprochement. Friends of Israel — not to mention proponents of a generally more stable, secure and prosperous Middle East that aids American interests and contains hegemonic Iranian ambitions — need to relentlessly do their best to ensure the Biden-Harris administration not forsake all that genuine progress which Trump and his Middle East team made. For pro-Israel Jewish conservatives, the next four years could prove difficult. But they can be made a lot less so if the relevant political actors and public figures urge the right people to hold the line and steer the course. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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Do local Jewish papers as we know them have a future? Could our Jewish communities become news black holes, too? Jewish papers are more than just a place for politicians to tout their Jewish credentials and endorsements and place advertisements wishing constituents a happy holiday. They’re a means for public officials to reach out and help communities navigate stormy weather — whether we’re talking about the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, the housing bubble of the 1990s, or today’s plague and racial unrest — and a place for those leaders to be held accountable. They’re the outgrowth of the kinds of conversations my JT colleagues would have had “out there” on those Wednesday afternoons. Messages stressing the importance of staying home, keeping social distance and wearing masks need to be reinforced by Jewish media because it is poised to reach Jews where we are and in our vernacular. Moreover, the pandemic has raised uniquely Jewish issues, such as how to comfort mourners when shiva visits are out of the question, what Jewish tradition has to say about the raft of ethical questions that doctors, patients and families face, and the wisdom of keeping
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the middle of the hummus, and top the dip with extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary leaves, crushed pistachios, and pomegranate arils. If you have the time or inclination, you can include some roasted, diced butternut squash as a topping for some extra color. Or add whatever floats your boat! The decorative additions will hide the fact that you didn’t make the hummus from scratch. Pro-tip: Think beyond pita! Try serving the hummus with fresh veggies or pretzels. Anything dippable will do!
JEWISH MEDIA Continued from Page 4
part, must hold the line against the worst excesses of the Biden-Harris administration. The Constitution’s framers famously wove an elaborate system of checks and balances into our legal order. Despite 100 years of accumulation of unwarranted power in the executive branch, Congress retains many tools to push back against a rogue president. First and foremost is the power of the purse: A Republican-held Senate can, as a point of leverage, threaten to defund any number of nefarious presidential hobby horses. Chief among these for the Biden-Harris administration is a prospective return to the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal. A Republican-held Senate can also wield its investigative and oversight powers to expose any potential malfeasance of a Biden-Harris State Department — and foreign policynational security apparatus, more generally. A Republican-held Senate can also easily forestall the administration from entering into any number of harmful formal treaties, thus ensuring that any prospective return to the Iran deal retains the comparatively weak legal status of nonbinding executive agreement. It was this weak legal basis for the JCPOA that allowed Trump to so easily withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 agreement. It would be truly tragic if the Biden-Harris administration reneged on the stunning Middle East successes of the past four years, which emboldened Israel and our Sunni Arab allies and subdued
the cooked brisket and make it fancy-looking with some sprigs of fresh parsley. Fancy up store-bought hummus for an effortless appetizer. First things first: You can absolutely take a package of storebought hummus, serve it in its original packaging with some storebought crackers, and that’s that. We won’t judge! But why not add some color and flavor to an otherwise standard app? Take your container of ho-hum hummus and spread it onto a shallow bowl. Scoop a small space into
various holiday customs this time of the year. We don’t expect mainstream news to address any of that. That’s the niche we need Jewish media to fill. Which brings me to the Jewish Chronicle’s relentless coverage of British Labor party anti-Semitism. It happened because sources developed relationships with the reporters and trusted the paper. The JC understood the story in ways the mainstream British press could not have. Fleet Street’s premature eulogies for the JC described its Labor scoops as heavy lifting, which is certainly true. But Jewish journalists would see this kind of reporting as a call of duty for their community. That’s the purpose of journalism. Publishers are still trying to figure out a new economic model for sustainable local journalism. The nonprofit model may be the best hope, but there’s no certainty. Regional reporting “hubs” promoted by a number of cost-cutting corporate publishers will not meet Jewish needs on the local level. Regardless of how the corona crisis plays out, the stories of local Jewish communities will continue to be “out there.” Who will tell those stories?
Best Wishes to my friends in the Jewish Community! Nathalie Dubois
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The Jewish Light Chanukah Issue