Volume 10, Number 2 Purim 2020
Serving the Local New Orleans, Northshore, and Baton Rouge Jewish Communities
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Limmudfest 2020 Hosts 80+ Presenters And Over 100 Sessions!
Tulane University alumnus and nationally renowned author Rich Cohen will be one of the featured presenters at LimmudFest New Orleans 2020 taking place March 20 – 22. Early-bird registration is available now on the LimmudFest website at http://limmudnola.org/. Cohen wrote the New York Times bestsellers Tough Jews; Monsters; Sweet and Low; When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead (with Jerry Weintraub); The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones; The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse; and The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship A Killer and the Birth of a Gangster Nation. He is a co-creator of the HBO series Vinyl and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper’s Magazine, among other publications. Cohen will present two topics during LimmudFest. His first topic is “Israel Is Real.” He will discuss his obsessive quest to understand the Jewish nation and its history. In AD 70, when the Second Temple was destroyed, a handful of visionaries saved Judaism by reinventing it, taking what had been a national religion and turning it into an idea. Whenever a Jew studied —wherever he was — he would be in the holy city, and his faith preserved. But, according to Cohen, in our own time, Zionists have turned the book back into a temple, and unlike an idea, a temple can be destroyed. With exuberance, humor and real scholarship, Cohen will elucidate Jewish religious, cultural, and political history through quirky anecdotes. Cohen’s second topic will be “Sam Zemurray: The Fish That Ate the Whale.” When Samuel Zemurray arrived in America in 1891, he was tall, gangly, and penniless. When he died in the grandest house in New Orleans 69 years later, he was among the richest, most powerful men in the world. Author Rich Cohen will relate how Zemurray worked as a fruit peddler, a banana hauler, a dockside hustler, and a THE
plantation owner. He battled and conquered the United Fruit Company, becoming a symbol of the best and worst of the United States: proof that America is the land of opportunity, but also a classic example of the corporate pirate who treats foreign nations as the backdrop for his adventures. Zemurray was a hidden kingmaker and capitalist revolutionary, driven by an indomitable will to succeed. Learn how the Banana Man, known as El Amigo, the Gringo, or simply Z, was instrumental in the emergence of the State of Israel. The last time LimmudFest assembled in New Orleans in 2018, nearly 400 people participated in the weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality. LimmudFest is part of a global movement inspired by the idea that when Jews from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and learn about everything Jewish, the entire community is enriched. “Wherever you find yourself, Limmud will take you one step further on your Jewish journey,” says Dana Keren, chair of LimmudFest 2020.
Being planned entirely by volunteers, LimmudFest’s celebration of community, culture and learning will include a Shabbaton at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, La., on Friday and Saturday, and more learning and cultural programs at the newly expanded New Orleans JCC in Uptown New Orleans on Sunday. Limmud is an international charity dedicated to making some of the world’s most dynamic Jewish educators, performers and teachers, working in a variety of educational styles — lectures, workshops, text-study sessions, film, meditation, discussions,
exhibits and performance — accessible to everyone, no matter what their level of Jewish knowledge or commitment to Jewish life. For parents attending LimmudFest, there will be programming for teens and kids, including a session on teen mental health. Other topics include: • Tell ’em Like Your Zaidy – or– Classic Jewish Jokes and How to Tell Them the Way Your Bubby Likes • The Map to Mensch-hood: How taking charge of the younger kids at camp and at school gets you ready for your future • Circle ’Round, a hula-hooping session • Matzah Cover Art for Passover • Jewish Graphic Narrative: Conflict Hybridity and Connectivity, a session about graphic novels and comics • Jewish Global Diversity For more information about programming and to register for LimmudFest 2020, go to: http://limmudnola.org.
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The Muppets Take Purim Adults-Only Purim Shpiel Hosted by CGoP & Tribe Monday, March 9 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Join us for a Muppets-themed Purim shpiel and megillah reading, 50/50 raffle and costume contest. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and daiquiris will be served. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Chabad Jewish Center Has Struck A Chord With The Metairie Jewish Community
Call Our Trained Experts & Experience the Difference
When Marthe Cohen, a former spy and Holocaust survivor, came in 2017 to share her story with the community, something incredible happened. Although about 50 people were anticipated, over 300 people were moved and inspired by Marte’s fascinating and harrowing experiences. That was when Chabad made the commitment to offer exceptional speakers to share their stories with the community. The following year, she traveled back to New Orleans to once again touch the hearts of our community, addressing another large crowd. Driven by the incredible response
and feedback, Chabad Jewish Center, together with Chabad of Louisiana, arranged for Eva Schloss, stepsister of Anne Frank to share her story in November, 2018. Nothing could have prepared the JCC, who hosted the event, and Chabad, for the overwhelming turnout of people who attended this historical lecture. When the room was filled to capacity at 500, an overflow room was filled with another 100 people. Eva Schloss held the room captive with her narrative including how she was caught by the Nazis on her 15th birthday and taken to Auschwitz. It was becoming clear that New Orleans was excited about having an array of quality Jewish speakers. When Judith Kaplan Kiefer approached Rabbi Ceitlin with a suggestion for the next speaker, we knew we had a winner. Judith recommended best-selling author Rabbi Joseph Telushkin with whom
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she has a close connection. And indeed, in September 2019, Rabbi Telushkin flew into New Orleans and warmly addressed a large crowd at Chabad Jewish Center. His talk titled Five Teachings that Can Change Your Life Today: Practical Insights from the Rebbe’s Leadership, was very well received. As one successful lecture follows another, Chabad is committed to inviting more outstanding individuals to inspire our community. Which takes us to the next historic evening with Irving Roth. in January 2020, Roth, 90, shared his first-hand accounts of his survival to a full room at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie. Roth was just 10 years old when Nazi Germany invaded his country of Czechoslovakia. He is devoted to educating young and old about the perils of anti-Semitism and prejudice. In the words of Rabbi Mendel Ceitlin: “Irving Roth is a true survivor. Not only did he physically survive the terrors of WWII, but he lived on with his heart and hope intact. Irving received the Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Citizen Award from the Anne Frank Center USA for promoting human rights and social justice, and for initiating the Adopt-a-Survivor program.
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Mike Bloomberg Will Speak At AIPAC Conference By Marcy Oster (JTA) — Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will speak at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, the first U.S. presidential candidate to be confirmed as a speaker. Bloomberg’s participation in the conference, being held March 1-3
in Washington, D.C., was announced by AIPAC on Tuesday evening, just hours before he appeared on stage at a Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina. The announcement comes two days after Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders announced he
would not be attending, saying the pro-Israel lobby provides a “platform” for “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” Sanders and Bloomberg, the two Jewish candidates in the race, addressed questions about Israel and U.S. support for the Jewish state during the Tuesday night debate, with Sanders describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “reactionary racist” and Bloomberg saying it was a mistake for the Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem without getting something in return from Israel. During the debate, a tweet from Bloomberg’s account said: “To characterize AIPAC as a racist platform is offensive, divisive, and dangerous to Israel – America’s most important ally in the Middle East – and to Jews. How can Bernie profess THE
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg holds a campaign rally in Detroit, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images)
he’s the path to unity when he’s already managed to polarize a people and a party?” Vice President Mike Pence was also confirmed as an AIPAC speaker on Tuesday, as were other members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and David Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel. President Donald Trump has not attended an AIPAC convention since he was a candidate. Among the Democrats speaking will be two high-profile New York lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chair of the House Democratic Caucus and one of the House managers in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
Send editorial to us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us by phone at (504) 455-8822. Our mailing address is United Media Corp. P.O. Box 3270, Covington, LA 70434 • To place advertising in THE JEWISH LIGHT, call United Media Corp. at: New Orleans (504) 455-8822 Northshore (985) 871-0221 Baton Rouge (225) 925-8774 JEWISH LIGHT carries Jewish Community related news about the Louisiana Jewish community and for the Louisiana Jewish community. Its commitment is to be a “True Community” newspaper, reaching out EQUALLY TO ALL Jewish Agencies, Jewish Organizations and Synagogues. THE JEWISH LIGHT is published monthly by United Media Corporation. We are Louisiana owned, Louisiana published, and Louisiana distributed. United Media Corporation has been proudly serving the Louisiana Jewish Community since 1995. Together, we can help rebuild Louisiana. We thank you for the last 25 years and we look forward to an even brighter tomorrow. THE
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The Key Points Of The Trump Middle East Peace Plan, Explained By Gabe Friedman
President Donald Trump talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near the Oval Office of the White House, Jan 27, 2020. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(JTA) — President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan and the release event was a doozy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Trump at a news conference and compared it to President Harry Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1948. Netanyahu also snuck in the fact that as part of the plan’s starting framework, he will look to apply Israeli sovereignty over territory that much of the international community considers illegally occupied. In the most basic sense, the plan is a two-state solution. But the statements from Trump and Netanyahu, along with the text of the plan, which was released in full (181 pages, to be exact) have already triggered a wave of speculation and more than a little confusion. Here’s a breakdown of the plan’s most basic components and what they mean moving forward. Two states, sort of At its core, the plan proposes a two-state solution, ideally envisioning an autonomous Palestinian state. This line of thinking, endorsed by every U.S. president dating back to Bill Clinton in the 1990s, has lost some support since Trump took office. However, as U.S. Ambassador David Friedman stressed in a phone call with reporters following the news conference, Israel would retain security control over all the land that would include a Palestinian state. So even though the Palestinians would have their own system of government throughout their state, Israeli forces would still be allowed to patrol and exert their will in the area — as Friedman described it, “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” THE
That is essentially how Israeli soldiers act now: They are not a constant presence in Palestinian areas, but they move in and out as they please. In that sense, life for Palestinians in the West Bank would not change much. But another provision of the plan — allowing Palestinians to move freely between the West Bank and Gaza — would be a major change. Palestinians currently cannot move between the two areas without Israeli approval, which is rarely granted. Family members and others would no longer be separated as they are now. Borders for a Palestinian state The plan also contains something that past U.S. proposals haven’t included: a specific map that delineates what the potential Israeli and Palestinian state borders would be. The proposed Palestinian state would consist of most of the West Bank (about 80 percent, according to estimates), the mostly undeveloped territory between Jerusalem and Jordan, and Gaza, the strip of land in the middle of Israel’s western coast. The plan also leaves the possibility of later adding the so-called “Triangle” — a collection of Arab towns adjacent to the West Bank but part of Israel proper — to a Palestinian state, if both parties agree. Controversial moves ahead for Israel Under the plan, controversial parts of the West Bank would become officially recognized Israeli territory. This includes all of the Israeli “communities” — code word for settlements — that are dotted throughout the potential future Palestinian state, as well as the Jordan Valley, the strategically important swath of land that Israel has largely controlled since the Six-Day War in 1967. A four-year time frame The plan gives the Israelis and Palestinians four years to accept these borders. Netanyahu announced at Tuesday’s news conference that during that time, Israel will freeze any new See PEACE PLAN on Page
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President Trump's peace plan includes two detailed maps of what a two-state solution could look like. (Screenshots from WhiteHouse.gov)
(JTA) — The Trump administration put questions about the seriousness of its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal to rest Tuesday by delivering a 181-page, detail-laden document that outlines a clear — if one-sided — vision for the future of the region. The document includes sections on history, security and economics, among others. We’ve got a roundup of the most important details here. But the quickest way to make sense of the plan might be to skip to pages 41 and 42. That’s where you can find two “conceptual maps” — one of Israel under the plan and the other of “the future state of Palestine.” The maps show that Israel would include 15 “enclave territories,” or settlements within the West Bank,
and that an underground tunnel would stretch approximately 30 miles between the West Bank and Gaza to create a technically contiguous, but geographically disparate, Palestinian state. “All Muslims who come in peace will be welcome to visit and pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the map of Palestine says. The mosque, constructed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is currently inaccessible for Palestinians living in Gaza. Both the annexed territories and the underground tunnel would represent major changes in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined President Donald Trump to announce the plan on Tuesday, said Israel could begin annexation as soon as this week.
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Purim Poser: What Is Our Fascination With Villains? By Edmon J. Rodman LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Who is the Haman in your life? The person, who’s like the bad guy in the Megillah Esther that we read on Purim, schemes to bring you down. When we get to the place in the Megillah where Haman is forced to lead Mordechai though the streets of Shushan, saying, “This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor,” might we insert ourselves — like a video game — into an updated version of the story? Imagining that a seriously negative person in our life is pushing our car down the street while we sit behind the wheel and wave? Not that your neighbor is Lord Voldemort or Dr. Moriarty, but what about that boss who is omitting your name from the organization chart? The relative who always leaves you off the guest list? That student spray-painting swastikas on your son’s fraternity house? Or just the forever interrupting “Rachel” from cardholder services? If we could only rid ourselves of them, then “Oh, today would merry, merry be.” Or would it? In the Purim story, we have sweet Esther, wise Mordechai and foolish Ahashveras — a pretty light cast of characters until the heavy, Haman, adds the contrast of evil and stirs the action. Beginning with childhood, we intuitively understand how boring fairy tales would be without the witch, and in Oz, Dorothy would have no one to resist surrendering to. On Purim, Haman is the name we are supposed to blot out, yet clearly his name remains written in our minds. Could it be that in our own life stories, we need someone to mix it up with in order to progress? Does that explain our fascination, even attraction, to villains? Pirkei Avot, "Ethics of the Fathers," tells us that the “crown of a good name is superior to all.” So why do we seem so at ease with those who wear a black hat — and I don’t mean the haredim. We hate what Gordon Gecko of “Wall Street” stands for, but why do we know what he had to say about greed? Is it that we like to see the bad guy get his comeuppance, or do we just like seeing him coming up? Either way, the series finale THE
of “Breaking Bad,” featuring the high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine dealing anti-hero Walter White, was watched by over 10 million viewers. In sports, when our team’s archrival comes to town, we get tickets to watch our heroes trounce the villians. But as we boo when their stars come to the plate, make a late hit or a flagrant foul, we hate them while at the same time understanding that without those bums, the fun would fade. In some of our favorite computer games, like “Grand Theft Auto,” we can even act out the ways of the villain. Watching my adult sons play one day, I was surprised to see how readily they took on the role of the evil protagonist. Trying it myself, driving my stolen car down the streets of Santa Monica, I soon became a regular Haman on Wheels, threatening the extinction of an entire population of pedestrians. Was that me grinning as I “accidentally” backed up over a man on the sidewalk? In Jewish texts, beginning with the snake in the Garden of Eden, we are tempted by the promises of the villain. At Passover, as we take a drop of wine for each plague, the heart-hardened Pharaoh fills our seder tables, though afterward we ease the tension by singing about “frogs in his bed.” In synagogue, the words of the sorcerer Bil’am, who the rabbis called “harasha,” “the wicked,” even begins our prayers with the words “Mah tovu,” “How goodly.” At Hanukkah, without the severe decrees of King Antiochus, we would not only be minus a dilemma in December but a holiday, too. The biblical anti-hero calls to us as well. In discussions about the Torah portion Korach, which is named for the man who rebels against the authority of Moses, I sometimes find it easy to take his side. Wasn’t he just a misunderstood nonconformist? And though I first heard the story of the Golem as a child, I am still confused: Was the Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague’s monster of mud hero or villain? Or a little of both? See VILLAINS on Page
Ben & Jerry’s Israel Is Having A Purim Costume Contest. You Could Win Free Ice Cream For 6 Months By Marcy Oster
(Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Get those creative juices flowing, Ben & Jerry’s Israel is having a Purim costume contest and first prize is a half-year’s supply of free ice cream. There’s no hamantaschen flavor, however. “Feel Purim knocking on the door? It’s time to start investing in making costumes as our costume contest approaches,” Ben & Jerry’s wrote on its Instagram account this week and posted photos of previous costumes featuring the ice cream.
The company said it would soon post the contest rules. After Israel announced its third election in less than a year, Ben & Jerry’s asked its fans on Instagram late last year to suggest the ingredients for a new flavor called Third Time Ice Cream. That’s an expression used by Israelis when they run into someone twice in a short period after not seeing them for a long time. Suggestions ranged from the spice zaatar to the popular Israeli peanut-butter flavored snack Bamba. One person suggested “Something that leaves a bitter taste at the end.” With the elections less than two weeks away, no such flavor ever materialized.
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Daniel Radcliffe in the film adaptation of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." (Peter Mountain/WireImage)
(JTA) — As of today, the first book in the Harry Potter series is available in Yiddish. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” — or “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” as it is known in the United States — was released in Yiddish by the Swedish
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publisher Olniansky Tekst Farlag on Friday. (Yiddish is an official language in Sweden.) It was translated by Arun Viswanath, 29, the son of an IndianAmerican father and Gitl Schaecter-Viswanath, author of the “Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary.” Her father was a professor of Yiddish at Columbia University. Yair Rosenberg chronicles the story behind the translation in Tablet — from how Viswanath renamed Quidditch as the equivalent of “shoot-broom” to how he felt about the book’s goblins, which some have called anti-Semitic.
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"The Snowy Day" is credited with breaking the diversity barrier in children's publishing. (New York Public Library)
(JTA) — A trailblazing children’s book by a Jewish author is the most checked-out book of all time at the New York Public Library. “The Snowy Day” by writer and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats has been checked out of the library 485,583 times, according to a list of the 10 most checked-out books released by the library on Monday in honor of its 125th anniversary. Published in 1962, “The Snowy Day” tells the story of a young boy named Peter who experiences the magic of freshly fallen snow in the streets of his urban neighborhood. It was among the first mainstream illustrated children’s books to feature an African-American child and is credited with breaking the diversity barrier in children’s publishing. The book won the 1963 Ran-
dolph Caldecott Medal, an annual prize recognizing the year’s best illustrated book for children. Its success is due in part to its universal appeal, according to Andrew Medlar, a member of the library team that compiled the list. “At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the story and it is absolutely brilliantly told,” Medlar said in a news release. Born Jacob Ezra Katz in Brooklyn to Polish Jewish immigrants, Keats was a largely self-taught artist. His work was featured in a 2011 exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. In 2017, some of the iconic illustrations from “The Snowy Day” were featured on stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The other Jewish author on the list is Maurice Sendak, whose “Where the Wild Things Are” was No. 4. The others in the top 5 are “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss; “1984,” by George Orwell; and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. The library is offering a special limited-edition “The Snowy Day” library card and the New York City transit system is also issuing a special edition of its Metro card. THE
Major League Baseball Says It Will Stop Promoting Ads For Musician Roger Waters
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By Marcy Oster In a letter sent late last month to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, B’nai B’rith International asked the organization to stop providing a platform for Waters’ ads. “Roger Waters has performed while displaying a large inflatable pig prominently marked with a Star of David,” the letter said. “He participates in the discriminatory, antiIsrael Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and castigates other musicians for performing in Israel. He has blamed ‘the Jewish Lobby’ for intimidating anti-Israel critics like him. And he has falsely labeled the Jewish state a ‘racist apartheid regime’ and claimed Israel is guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing.’” Roger Waters,at a news conference in Rome, Jan. 16, 2018. He is a leading celebrity B’nai B’rith said Friday that in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. (Ernesto S. Ruscio/ MLB responded that the ads proGetty Images) moting Waters have run their course (JTA) — Major League Baseball of boycotting Israel. and there are no plans to schedule will not schedule any more adverMLB.com was among several any more on the MLB platforms. tisements promoting Roger Waters, organizations promoting ticket MLB also told B’nai B’rith that it the former frontman for Pink Floyd sales for Waters’ “This is Not a had no anti-Semitic intentions by who has become a leading advocate Drill” tour. running the ads.
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This Jewish Mom’s Brilliant Idea Makes Flying With Kids Less Hellish By Lior Zaltzman This story originally appeared on Kveller.
(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
If hell is other people, flying as a mother is, without a doubt, the ninth circle of that hell. Not only are you struggling with the limited patience of your child(ren), you’re probably also carrying an impossibly heavy load of kid-related supplies — depending on the age of your kids, they can range anywhere from diapers and nursing covers to an inordinate amount of snacks, books and activities. On top of all that, you’re also dealing with scoffs, eye rolls and possibly downright rage from other people once they spot you carrying a little one down the airplane’s aisle. Such attitude is why this mom resorted to passing out goodie bags (filled with treats and earplugs!) To fellow passengers on a flight from Seoul to San Francisco earlier this year. It’s also why Japan Airlines is flagging seats that have a parent with a baby in them, so travelers have the opportunity to select a different seat. (Perhaps they will also kindly flag passengers with smelly
feet who take their socks off?) While I firmly believe these gestures are ridiculous and unnecessary — and that, just maybe, anyone who is so annoyed at flying with an infant deserves to sit next to an especially colicky baby — I also really believe that flying needs to be easier for moms. Which is why I was so happy to find out about AirPair, an organization that matches harried traveling moms with in-flight babysitters, or “air pairs” (which, yes, sounds kind of like Au Pair). AirPair is the brainchild of one incredible jewish super mama, 40-year-old alana rubin of new york. Alana started AirPair — “airbnb for in-flight ‘babysitters,'” as she describes it — in passover of 2018. You see, Alana has a brother in Tel Aviv, whom she loved to visit — until she had her second kid, that is. “I wanted to go to Israel with my two kids, but then I realized there’s no way I can even fathom this,” she says. “There’s no way I can handle the two of them, so just forget it.” It’s not as if she needed — or wanted — a babysitter to accompany her for the entire vacation. But she did think to herself: If only I could have someone to help me on the plane. Thus the idea for AirPair was born. When Alana put out feelers on
social media, she got the most amazing feedback, affirming that many mothers felt as helpless as she did when they flew alone with their children. “One woman told me about missing her brother’s wedding because they couldn’t go on a flight with their twins,” she says, “Or this woman was saying the most traumatic moment of her life was flying with her 6-month-old.” For now, AirPair is focusing only flights between North America and israel. “The reason I chose israel is because it’s a community I know well,” Alana says. “but also because there’s that trust factor, that sense of trust within that Jewish community.” Here’s how it works: If you’re in need of an extra pair of hands en route to the Jewish state, all you have to do is visit AirPair’s website. Alana will match you with a fellow traveler who is willing and able to help. Just who are these folks? According to alana, they’re everyone from “college students and yeshiva students to businessmen and grandmothers.” Just like not all airbnb rentals are hotels or motels, not all AirPairs are professional babysitters or caregivers. But most of the 1,000 or so sitters on her roster have some experience with childcare and all of them receive some training from AirPair. Sounds great, you’re probably thinking. How much does this cost? The answer varies. Alana leaves it to the AirPairs and the clients to set the price; some may charge $20 an hour, others get paid the full ticket price and then some. Some AirPairs even volunteer their service for free as a Mitzvah (and what a Mitzvah it is!). It all depends on the budget of the family and how much help they will actually need on the flight. (Alana makes money by taking a percentage of the sitter’s fee.) Since launching the service, Air-
Pair’s clientele has extended beyond frazzled parents. It has also assisted elderly passengers, “Like a 94-yearold Holocaust survivor who is flying to israel to see her grandson,” Alana says, as well as disabled and nervous flyers. She’s also had people use her service for an unaccompanied minor, saying “The airline does provide that service, but for some, AirPair is a better fit.” Alana hopes to expand AirPair to include more flight routes and make arranging the service as easy as booking an airplane ticket. For now, however, she is working solo and makes the matches manually — it’s a lot of work for one stay-at-home mom of two! She has to be quick, as many of the the parents reaching out have very timely needs. Like Shoshana Dickler Lissek, a speech pathologist and mother of two: she was supposed to fly home to Israel with her sister after visiting their father in Baltimore when he suddenly was hospitalized. “While my sister and brother-inlaw needed to return to Israel to work, I had the flexibility of being on maternity leave to extend my stay,” Shoshana tells me over email. “Changing the ticket was only half of the work — flying without my sister meant being on my own with my 3-year-old and newborn on a 10-hour flight.” So she reached out to AirPair, which she discovered through facebook. Alana found her the perfect AirPair. “She was ready to help me at every turn, not only with my kids but also with managing all of our bags,” Shoshana writes. “Because of her help, one of us was always available for each child. My 3-yearold received quality attention throughout the flight, which led to far fewer meltdowns, and my baby could be tended to properly. ” Sounds like heaven! Or, at least, a little less like hell.
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Bring the entire family for a funfilled afternoon of food, music, games, and activities for all ages at our 51st annual Adloyaday Purim Carnival. The “Human Hamster Balls” and giant slide are back, as are everyone’s favorite inflatables. Come enjoy delicious Middle Eastern delicacies and nosh on New York-style deli items. Grab a snowball or popcorn, and do not forget to take home a bag of the homemade hamantashen. This year's event will also feature the Touro Health Fair, offering complimentary health screenings for the whole family and educational activities. Admission to Adloyadah is free and open to the community. A children's All Day Play Pass is $12, or $10 with a donation of nonperishable items for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. Get your All Day Play Pass early at the Children's Desk through Thursday, March 5 Featuring: • Middle Eastern Delicacies • New York Style Deli • Homemade Hamantaschen • Snowballs • Popcorn VILLAIN Continued from Page 9 The truth is that in villians we see a little of ourselves. An idea in Jewish thought is that we are all born with both an evil inclination, “Yetzer hara," and a good one, “Yetzer hatov.” Does this internal duality connect us to Haman? Perhaps for the part of our psyches that conjures up ways to wipe out opposition before we consider how wrong it is. In terms of reconciling the villain inside, thankfully most of don’t have Darth Vader as a dad. But we do imagine, and even know, what we look like in black. And on Purim, if you put a light saber in our hands, even if it is a toy, we know that somehow the force wouldn’t be any fun without the bad. THE
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Arts & Culture
Kirk Douglas, Iconic Movie Star Who Reconnected To Judaism Later In Life, Dies At 103 By Tom Tugend
Douglas poses in 1950. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Kirk Douglas, the legendary actor who portrayed legions of tough guys and embraced his Jewish heritage later in life, died at his home in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. He was 103. Over a career that spanned 87 films — including 73 big screen features and 14 on television — the blond, blue-eyed Douglas, dimpled chin thrust forward, was often cast as the toughest guy around, vanquishing hordes of Romans, Vikings and assorted bad guys. Thrice nominated for an Academy Award and a recipient of an Oscar for lifetime achievement and
a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas evolved from an egocentric and promiscuous young man into a multi-talented actor, director, author, philanthropist and student of Torah who left a deep imprint on both Hollywood and the Jewish people. Douglas also was the author of 11 books, ranging from personal memoirs and a Holocaust-themed novel for young readers to a collection of poetry dedicated to his wife. “Most stars of his stature are shaped out of mythic clay,” the director Steven Spielberg said in presenting Douglas with the lifetime achievement Oscar in 1996. “Kirk Douglas never chose that. He doesn’t have a single character that makes him unique. Instead he has a singular honesty, a drive to be inimitable.” Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in the upstate New York town of Amsterdam, the son
of an illiterate Russian-Jewish immigrant who supported his six daughters and one son as a rag picker and junk man. A chance to escape came shortly after his bar mitzvah, when the Sons of Israel Synagogue offered to underwrite his rabbinical studies. Douglas firmly declined, declaring that he would become an actor. He held fast to that ambition while attending Saint Lawrence University on a wrestling scholarship and during World War II service in the U.S. Navy. His first movie role came in 1946, when he played Barbara Stanwyck’s husband in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.” Douglas received favorable reviews, but his career wouldn’t really take off until three years (and six films) later, when he portrayed Midge Kelly, a ferocious and amoral boxer in “Champion.” The performance earned him an Academy
Award nomination for best actor. During the 1950s and ’60s, Douglas ranked consistently as one of Hollywood’s top male stars for his single-minded focus on his craft, while also squeezing in Broadway and television appearances. He was also known for egocentricity in a town with no shortage of oversize egos and for bedding an endless string of women, from movie queens to casual pickups. In the 1950s, he starred in 23 movies. He earned best actor Oscar nominations for “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Lust for Life.” And in 1953, he starred as a Holocaust survivor in “The Juggler,” the first Hollywood feature to be filmed in Israel. He opened the decade of the 1960s with “Spartacus,” perhaps his most enduring movie, in which See KIRK DOUGLAS on Page
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KIRK DOUGLAS Continued from Page 14 he played the leader of a slave rebellion in ancient Rome. The film won four Oscars, though none for Douglas. But Douglas did distinguish himself for insisting that writer Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted as a communist for a decade but continued to write under a pseudonym, be credited onscreen despite dire warnings that such a provocation would end his own Hollywood career. Douglas was honored for that stance in 2011 by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. With increasing fame and fortune, Douglas showed little interest in Jewish practice, though there were exceptions. “I always fasted on Yom Kippur,” he told a reporter. “I still worked on the movie set, but I fasted. And let me tell you, it’s not easy making love to Lana Turner on an empty stomach.” In his later years, Douglas would come to embrace his Jewishness, a shift he dates to a near-fatal collision in 1991 between his helicopter and a stunt plane in which two younger men died. The crash compressed his spine by three inches. While lying in a hospital bed with excruciating back pain, he started pondering the meaning of his life. “I came to believe that I was spared because I had never come to grips with what it means to be Jewish,” he said. Douglas embarked on an intensive regime of Torah study with a number of young rabbis and celebrated a second bar mitzvah at age 83, telling the Hollywood luminaries crammed into the 200-seat chapel at Sinai Temple for the occasion: “Today, I am a man.” Neither of his two wives — the late actress Diana Dill and Anne Buydens, whom he married in 1954 — were Jewish, and none of his children were raised in the faith. But his oldest son, the actor-director Michael Douglas, has reconnected with Judaism and won the 2015 Genesis Prize, a $1 million award recognizing Jews of great accomplishment who exhibit Jewish values. In 2014, at Douglas’ 60th wedding anniversary, Buydens startled the guests by announcing that she had converted to Judaism. “Kirk has been married to two shiksas and it’s about time he marTHE
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ried a nice Jewish girl,” she proclaimed. In 1996, Douglas suffered a stroke that left him speechless. He fell into a deep depression that nearly led him to take his own life. A few months later, he made his first public appearance to accept the lifetime achievement award. “Whether he’s dealing with a character on screen or with the alltoo-real effect of a recent stroke, courage remains Kirk Douglas’ personal and professional hallmark,” Spielberg said in presenting the award. Through rigorous speech therapy, Douglas taught himself to speak again – slowly, with a slight slur. He later published a book about the experience titled “My Stroke of Luck.” Among his other books are “Let’s Face It,” which proclaimed that romance begins at 80; “I Am Spartacus!,” focusing on making the film and breaking the blacklist; and “Climbing the Mountain,” which traced his search for spirituality and Jewish identity. In 2014, at 98, he published his first book of poetry, “Life Could Be Verse,” in which he expressed his enduring love for his wife as well as his heartbreak at the death of his youngest son, Eric, who died of a self-induced drug overdose. Along with his wife, Douglas has given over $100 million to charitable causes in the United States and Israel. The couple have established nearly 400 playgrounds in poorer sections of Los Angeles and Jerusalem, an Alzheimer’s hospital unit, and a theater facing the Western Wall featuring films on the history of Judaism and Jerusalem. In 1981, Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, from President Jimmy Carter. Along with his wife and son Michael, Douglas is survived by sons Peter and Joel Douglas, seven grandchildren – Cameron, Dylan, Carys Zeta, Kelsey, Jason, Tyler and Ryan – and a sister, Ida Sahr of Schenectady, New York.
Mandeville City Councilman-At-Large And Now As A Candidate For Mayor In The April 4, 2020 Election. • Born and raised in Mandeville • LSU graduate with B.S. in Political Science and Masters of Public Administration • Two term Mandeville City Councilman-AtLarge � Organized ﬁrst Mandeville Trafﬁc Summit to help alleviate trafﬁc congestion and facilitate infrastructure improvements � On record for reducing overall budget and cutting/lowering property taxes � Authored legislation to create budget forecasting and revenue estimating practices � Fully supported increased funding for our police department � Authored legislation to ban electronic signs ENDORSED BY
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Who, Exactly, Is A Yenta These Days? NEW YORK (JTA) — About 20 years ago, my friend Julia used to hang out with the legendary comedian Jackie Mason and tell me about their shenanigans. One evening when they were leaving the Applejack Diner in Midtown Manhattan with his entourage, a limou-
sine pulled up to the curb. Out stepped a statuesque blonde, who glided into the building next door. Without skipping a beat, Jackie mumbled, “That’s Tom Cruise’s yenta.” Julia and the others burst out laughing. While the blonde was
indeed Nicole Kidman (she and Tom split soon afterward), Nicole was no yenta. A lithe and icy gentile, she was as far from a yenta as anyone could be. But to Jackie Mason, if you were a woman, you were a yenta. For Julia and me, this sparked a two-decade debate about yentas. Who, exactly, is a yenta these days? I used to think it was a matchmaker until Julia told me it was a gossipmonger (and that the Hebrew word for matchmaker was actually “shadchan”). According to the Forward’s Ezra Glinter, the Yiddish term yenta came from the name Yentl, which came from the old Italian word “gentile” (as did the modern words gentle and genteel) — meaning not non-Jewish, but noble or refined. Over time, Yentl with thousands of products for every room in your home became yente or yenta, but the name • See the latest in kitchen and Yentl never disappeared. (Who can bath products including cabinets, forget Barbra Streicountertops, showers and tubs sand as Yentl the • Talk to contractors ready to build yeshiva boy singing “Papa can you hear your new addition or remake that me? Papa can you see special room me?”) But how did a • Get the best prices on windows, name meaning doors, roofing, siding, and more! “refined” come to • And dozens of products from mean “blabbermouth”? kitchen gadgets to the latest in It’s actually at least health products REGULAR PRICES $8 partly the fault of the • Plus the Louisiana Food Fest-Enjoy Forward, Glinter writes, which in the free tastings and samples from 1920s and ’30s pubdozens of homegrown Louisiana lished a series of Plenty of parking! products and companies comic sketches by B. Kovner about a gos• Plus sample local spirits sipmongering wife and wines! named Yente Telebunde. Because the sketches were so popular, the name 4545 Williams Blvd became synonymous with “busybody,” Kenner, LA 70065 which continues to this day. JAAS Productions / 866-839-1643 Decades later, in www.jaaspro.com / www.facebook.com/louisianahomeshows
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Amy Irving and Barbra Streisand in a touching scene in the movie "Yentl" circa 1983. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1964, the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” made its Broadway debut, followed by the movie version in 1971. The meddlesome matchmaker was named Yente, and the word took on the colloquial meaning of both busybody and matchmaker. Since then, we’ve used both, which makes perfect sense, since a bigmouth is likely to be a matchmaker and a matchmaker is likely to be a bigmouth. So yentas are the friends who try guessing our paycheck down to the cent, announce their own business — and ours — to a packed subway train, and insist on setting us up with their broke brothers. They’re Sylvia Miles in “Crossing Delancey,” sitting on a park bench with Amy Irving and her bubbe, hatching a plan to match Amy with the pickle man Peter Riegert. They’re the oversharing comedians Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and Jenny Slate, the babbling hosts of “The View” and the nosy Patti Stanger of “Millionaire Matchmaker.” They’re the old and the young: The Jewish dating site JDate launched a “Powered by Yentas” campaign starring three coding grandmas figuring out the right algorithms to find daters the perfect match. And millennials Marissa Brostoff and Mindy Isser created a Twitter account called Red Yenta to match socialists across the country. But while yentas vary widely in age, they appear to be less diverse in gender. So was Jackie Mason right? Did poor Tom Cruise have to tolerate not only Nicole’s towering over him by a foot, but also her meddling and kvetching? Are all women yentas simply by virtue of having two X chromosomes? My friend Julia was starting to think the answer was “yes,” while I insisted there was still no way Nicole was a yenta, though other women might be. Psychologist Tania Reynolds at Florida State University found that See YENTA on Page THE
YENTA Continued from Page 16 adult women gossip about each other to make themselves look better and spread rumors about other women who pose a threat to them. Highly competitive women gossip at the highest rates. (OK, maybe there was an itty-bitty chance that Nicole was a yenta). The writer Michele Lent Hirsch, however, revealed a kinder side of women. For Psychology Today, she spoke to the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who said that women, with their more active estrogen and oxytocin systems, and their better-developed intuition and sense of caring, are more biologically inclined than men to be matchmakers. But in the same piece, Jeremy Nicholson from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology disagrees. He believes empathy and extraversion push people to set up others. Plus, Cupids thrive on the challenge of matching compatible friends — so both men and women are yentas. Julia thinks that the male version of a yenta — the meddler, not the matchmaker — is a mansplainer. It’s the guy who won’t let us get a word in edgewise. The dude with a middle-school diploma mansplaining neuroscience to his female friend with a Ph.D. Matt Damon mansplaining diversity to the producer Effie Brown, who’s not only a woman but also black. While the mansplainer-as-yenta makes perfect sense, social media has forced us to broaden our understanding of yentas even further, I told Julia. People on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram post their own tsuris for the world to see and comment on other people’s tsuris. They share, reshare and overshare everything from what they ate for
breakfast to the composition of their stool (not the one they sit on). Over 3 billion people worldwide use social media — that’s a whole lot of yentas. The most notorious yenta of all is Donald Trump, who tweets incessantly and dishes out insults as easily as he leaks U.S. intelligence secrets. Sam Nunberg, one of his earliest 2016 presidential campaign aides, even called him “a f***ing yenta.” Ironically, Julia never got into social media; she’s one of the few people I know without a Facebook account. Her husband, however, posts all day long. Jackie Mason, like Julia, is no fan of social media: “You don’t talk to your neighbor, but you do talk to the guy in Siberia?” he’d grumble to his entourage like the world’s gone meshugenah (crazy). And Nicole Kidman? For years there was no trace of her online, but then in early 2018, I saw her bestie Naomi Watts (who has two kids with that sexy mensch Liev Schreiber) “like” a photo of a woman on Instagram. She was blonde … statuesque … gentile. It was Nicole! Since then, Nicole has been posting her own business and commenting on other people’s business, sharing and oversharing. Nowadays everyone’s a yenta — even Nicole Kidman. FLORINA RODOV has written for The Atlantic, CNN, Shondaland and others, and is working on two books. 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.
Auschwitz Memorial Condemns Amazon’s NaziHunting Series ‘Hunters’ As ‘Dangerous’ By Katarzyna Markusz
Al Pacino, left, and Logan Lerman are Jews out for revenge in Amazon Studios' "Hunters." (Christopher Saunders)
WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The Auschwitz Memorial has condemned the new Amazon miniseries about Nazi hunters. The museum said in a tweet that the human chess game invented for “Hunters,” in which the inmates of the Auschwitz camp were the game pieces and were killed when their piece was removed, is “Dangerous foolishness & caricature.” “Hunters,” which stars Al Pacino, became available on Friday and tells the story of a group of people trying to stop Nazis living in New York City in the 1970s. “Auschwitz was full of horrible pain and suffering documented in the accounts of survivors,” the museum tweeted. “Inventing a fake game of human chess for ‘Hunters’ is not only dangerous foolishness &
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caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.” The creator of the series, David Weil, refutes the allegations, telling Deadline that a few years ago he visited Auschwitz and saw the gate through which his grandmother was forced to pass and the barracks where she lived. Defending the chess scene, Weil emphasized that is it “to most powerfully counteract the revisionist narrative that whitewashes Nazi perpetration by showcasing the most extreme – and representationally truthful – sadism and violence that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews and other victims.” ” I am forever grateful to the Auschwitz Memorial for all of the important and vital work that they do, for keeping the memory of victims and survivors like my grandmother, Sara Weil, alive. I believe we are very much on the same side and working toward the same goals. And I hope we can continue a dialogue on how to achieve those goals.”
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How To Retire To Israel
In 2019, some 500 of 3,500 immigrants to Israel from North America were retirees. (Jonny Finkel Photography)
JERUSALEM – For a growing number of Jews in the Diaspora, turning retirement dreams into reality also means realizing a lifelong dream of living in Israel. Over the past decade, more than 6,000 Jews from North America and Britain have retired to Israel. In 2019, some 500 of 3,500 immigrants to Israel from North America were retirees. For some of these new “olim” it was the culmination of a lifelong Zionist dream. For others it was a practical move to be
closer to children and grandchildren, or to enjoy their golden years in a warmer climate. Regardless of motivation, the key to a successful retirement in Israel is careful advance planning, as well as an open attitude toward the challenges of entering a new stage of life in a new country. “We have an amazing life here and are very happy, generally speaking,” said Sydney Faber, who retired to Jerusalem from London with his wife, Rose, 11 years ago. The couple have two children in Israel and two others living in New Jersey. The Fabers credit their contentment in large part to their having made good decisions about important elements like housing, learning Hebrew and becoming involved in their community. Those choices, they said, made all the difference in building a happy retirement 2,000
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miles away from where they had lived most of their lives. While retiring to Israel may seem like a bigger step than retiring to Florida, many of the same considerations come into play. Here are some of the main issues to consider. Financial Planning “Retiree olim need to think about how their lifestyle will or will not translate to Israel,” said Marc Rosenberg, vice president of Diaspora Partnerships at Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that assists with immigration to Israel from North America and the United Kingdom. Rosenberg advises retirees to be realistic about the kind of life they’ll be able to afford in Israel on passive income like pensions, Social Security and investments. (A sample budget on Nefesh B’Nefesh’s website can help retirees figure out their likely monthly costs.) For those with children or parents living outside Israel, retirees should remember to plan for the costs of flying back and forth to see them. These days, many retiree immigrants split their time between Israel and their countries of origin in “snowbird” fashion, allowing for all kinds of creative financial arrangements. Prospective immigrants should seek the advice of an Israeli accountant who specializes in U.S. taxes about the implications of dual citizenship and dual residency. A financial adviser can help with financial planning and offer guidance for living within a budget. Health Care Israel has universal health care. Retirees must pay into its National Insurance system, but the sum is
minor compared to what most Americans are used to paying for insurance premiums and copays. All Israelis must join one of Israel’s four HMOs, known as “kupot holim,” in order to receive medical services. While membership is covered by one’s National Insurance payments, the kupot offer optional higher levels of coverage for relatively modest additional fees. Many retirees also choose to buy supplemental private health insurance, which covers drugs not included in the medications made available by the Health Ministry as well as private surgeries, transplants performed abroad and other benefits. “I couldn’t have asked for better or more personalized care,” Weiss said. In addition to hospitals, Israel also a network of urgent care clinics in most cities, many of which are open 24/7. Housing Choosing your new home wisely is a key component of successful aliyah. Experts advise new immigrants to rent for at least a year or two before buying, mainly to make sure they choose the right location. Many retirees automatically assume they will want to be near their children, but some find that living in suburban communities geared toward young families is not the right fit. “They realize that living in Israel is different than visiting,” Rosenberg said. “When you are here for 10 days over a holiday, the grandchildren will be off from school and See RETIRE on Page
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RETIRE Continued from Page 18 have lots of time for the grandparents. It’s a different story when they are in their usual routines.” Older olim tend to gravitate toward cities with large “Anglo” communities and a plethora of social and cultural opportunities for English-speaking retirees, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Raanana and Netanya. Many haredi Orthodox immigrants favor Beit Shemesh. Housing will comprise the largest chunk of a retiree’s monthly budget. As with real estate anywhere, location determines price. Those moving from low-cost U.S. locales to expensive cities like Jerusalem might have to downsize homes or number of cars. It’s generally cheaper to rent in Israel than in the United States but more expensive to buy. Those seeking to move into a senior residence or assisted-living facility will find many options throughout the country offering accommodations, amenities and services comparable to North American standards. A common question retirees have is whether to sell the U.S. residence they are leaving behind or rent it. That’s less an immigration question than a financial one best addressed to a financial planner. Transportation The upside of transportation in Israel is that the public transit system is very inexpensive and well developed. Buses inside and between cities run frequently, reliably and inexpensively, and seniors pay half fare. The train network is growing, including new high-speed rail service between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that has reduced travel time to 32 minutes. Taxis also are relatively inexpensive and can be summoned like an Uber using the Gett mobile phone app. The downside is that private transportation is expensive: Owning and maintaining a car costs roughly double what it is in the States. “If you can do without a car, you should try it,” said Hezy BenTzur, founder and owner of the iAnglo Auto Association, which assists English speakers in Israel with the leasing, importing and purchasing of new and used cars. “Retirees don’t have the burden of having to commute for work, so I would recommend not taking the expense on if you don’t have to. It’s more cost THE
effective to occasionally rent a car.” Another thing to keep in mind is that cars are generally smaller in Israel, and that the Israeli car market includes makes and models unfamiliar to Americans. Best to do your research and choose appropriately. Recreation, Volunteering And Learning Hebrew There’s no end to the opportunities for retirees to get involved in their communities. Local community centers offer cultural events, educational classes and fitness activities for free or at a low cost for seniors. There are also private sports and country clubs, and golfing is available near Caesarea. Some community theater companies put on English-language productions, and many plays and operas performed at major arts venues like the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv and The Jerusalem Theater offer English supertitles. Volunteer opportunities abound; the key is matching your interests to one of Israel’s countless nonprofit organizations. Popular choices include working with people with disabilities at Yad Sarah, mentoring children and teens affected by terror with One Family, or preparing care packages and holiday meals at the Lone Soldier Center. Some volunteer opportunities are geared toward English speakers, like English tutoring or working as museum docents. Most, however, require a working knowledge of Hebrew. Taking advantage of the free Hebrew lessons (called ulpan) provided by the government to new immigrants is a good idea. Ricki Lieberman, who retired to Jaffa from New York in 2009, raises money for an Arab-Jewish women’s choir in Jaffa, volunteers with children of African refugees in South Tel Aviv and does political organizing. “I grew up believing in democracy and Jewish values, so I am compelled to do what I can,” Lieberman said. “For me, my retirement is not a time to turn away.” This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with Nefesh B’Nefesh, which in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah, The Jewish Agency, KKL and JNF-USA is minimizing the professional, logistical and social obstacles of aliyah, and has brought over 50,000 olim from North America and the United Kingdom over the last 15 years. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.
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PEACE PLAN Continued from Page 7 settlement construction that would encroach on the Palestinian state outlined in the peace plan. However, he also said that Israel will look to immediately “apply its laws” to existing settlements and the Jordan Valley, whether or not the Palestinians signal that they will buy into the U.S. proposal. Subtle semantics To some, this may sound like Netanyahu is using the plan’s release as an opportunity to annex that territory right away, as he has long desired. Netanyahu was careful not to use the word “annex” in his remarks on Tuesday, preferring the “apply its law” usage. That could be his way of making the dramatic move more palatable to the international community, which undoubtedly will criticize the Israeli leader. Moving forward, look for the language over this issue to be debated. Hamas has to go Another key part of the plan involves the dismantling of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two Palestinian groups seen as terrorists by a large part of the international community. Hamas currently governs Gaza with an iron fist, so removing it would significantly change the coastal strip. Palestinian officials also would have to agree to stop its policy of paying the families of terrorists who attack Israelis. High-speed rail and other incentives The plan also aims to create a high-speed rail connection between the West Bank and Gaza, two Palestinian areas that feel physically sequestered because of Israeli security policies. The “Trump Economic Plan” portion of the document says that the accord has the “potential to facilitate more than $50 billion of investment over ten years.” It doesn’t get into detail about where that would come from, but it likely means from the U.S. and a coalition of Arab states that support the plan. Slim chances of success — except for Netanyahu It’s safe to say, at least at this point, that the plan’s chance of success — success meaning that the Palestinians will agree to it — is close to nil. That’s because the mere release of this plan is a big win for Netanyahu and the mainstream Israeli
right. It codifies the full U.S. support of Israel’s eventual annexation of the West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, which Israel says is both vital to its security and is part of its rightful ancestral territory. It also keeps security control of both states — essentially everything from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, as Friedman put it — under Israel’s purview. The only thing that might remotely worry Netanyahu is how the proposed settlement freeze will play among Israeli settlers, a demographic he has fiercely courted over his record tenure as prime minister (especially since 2015). Trump likely hopes that this will give him a boost not just in Israel, where the key aspects of the plan are popular, but also at home, where his impeachment trial rages on. The plan’s unveiling also could be a ploy to distract some Americans’ attention from the trial. The plot has thickened considerably for Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s political rival. Since Gantz has dismissed the idea of governing with Netanyahu under a unity coalition and rotating the prime minister title, it’s notable that he has wholeheartedly endorsed the plan (at least according to Trump). It could signal that some form of reconciliation is on the horizon before yet another Israeli election in March — its third in less than a year. As for the Palestinians, they are almost certain to object to the map in the plan from the outset. The proposed lack of security control will be seen as a deal breaker, and the Israeli West Bank settlements present all kinds of complications. It would be a Swiss cheese state. But even if the Palestinians completely reject the plan, could it jumpstart a new series of talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? We’ll have to wait and see.
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What Red Hot Chili Peppers Might Be Able To Do For Cancer Pain By Larry Luxner
Israeli scientists are experimenting with the pain-suppressing properties of capsaicin, the irritating phytotoxin found in hot peppers. (Pixabay)
It’s no secret that Israelis can do amazing things with spicy foods. Exhibit No. 1: zhug, the hot sauce derived from chile peppers that seems to be taking the world by storm. But some of the greatest excitement today in Israel surrounding chili peppers is happening outside the kitchen — in laboratories, where scientists are experimenting with the pain-suppressing properties of hot peppers for uses as critical as the treatment of pain associ-
ated with cancer. Few things in life hurt more than diseases like bone or uterine cancer, or the chemotherapy used to treat them, according to Israeli pharmacologist and researcher Avi Priel. Unfortunately, patients don’t have many alternatives to effective yet addictive pain medications like OxyContin, Vicodin, fentanyl and morphine. These are opioids. Priel, 44, is among dozens of researchers worldwide now hard at work seeking to find non-addictive therapies to help cancer patients bear their pains. He heads a sevenperson lab at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School. The goal of his current research project is to stop the pain from reaching the neural receptors of patients’ brains. That way, they simply won’t feel the pain. Capsaicin, the irritating phytotoxin found in hot chili peppers, is
key to this approach. Capsaicin is what gives condiments like zhug and Tabasco sauce their intense punch — and what makes pepper spray so irritating. But capsaicin also has the capacity to block pain receptors. It long has been in use in topical pain relief compounds that when applied to the skin cause a minor burning sensation. Priel is studying capsaicin for its potential to replace addictive opioids in alleviating the chronic pain often associated with cancer. “What we want to do is develop drugs that will enable us to target only the pain fibers in the periphery and stop those neurons from transmitting the noxious stimuli signal to the brain,” Priel said. “For this purpose, we are working on proteins we call pain receptors because they are mainly expressed in the pain system.” TRPV1, one such promising receptor, is the focus of Priel’s current lab work with rats. Activated by capsaicin, TRPV1 detects and regulates body temperature. It also provides a sensation of pain and scalding heat. “The pain system is built to signal us there’s a problem,” explained Priel, whose lab focuses on the cellular, molecular and pharmacologi-
cal basis of pain receptors. “But if the pain system itself gets injured, it starts to send signals that don’t exist.” Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery also damage neurons, causing cancer patients varying degrees of pain. Discomfort usually lasts for a few days or weeks, but sometimes it can last for three months or longer. Pain is also a major quality-oflife issue for women with breast or ovarian cancer and men with prostate cancer. “Most cancer patients would suffer any pain you can imagine if it would help them get rid of the cancer,” Priel said. “But they don’t want the pain after that. They want to go back to their normal lives.” Priel’s research is financed in part by a three-year, $250,000 grant from the Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Brause Family Initiative for Quality of Life. Ruth Brause, who lives in New York’s Westchester County, said her family created the fund after her 89-year-old mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. “During this whole horror, she was in terrible pain,” Brause recalled. “They gave her morphine, See CHILI PEPPERS on Page
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CHILI PEPPERS Continued from Page 22 but only on a scheduled basis and there was no reason not to have given her more. In the United States at least, pain management has not been dealt with properly, which is why our family decided to fund this initiative.” Brause added that she is enthusiastic about Priel’s work. “We congratulate Dr. Priel for trying to figure out something that’s not addictive — especially in light of the opioid crisis we have here in America,” she said. Priel has been focused on pain management since 2007. Originally from Beersheva, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in neurobiology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and went on to get a doctorate from Hebrew University. He did post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. His current work to find non-opioid treatment for pain could not come at a more critical time. Legal opioids are now at the center of a prescription-drug overdose epidemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since the 1990s, sparked multibillion-dollar lawsuits and led to the bankruptcy of at least one leading pharmaceutical manufacturer. “Opioids were really good as long as they were under control,” Priel said. “Unfortunately, these drugs were abused, and because of the crisis opioids got a really bad name. They’re highly addictive, they cause respiratory depression and they are euphoric. When you abuse them, they become lethal.” Zachary Siegel knows the perils of opioid addiction firsthand. The Chicago native started sneaking cocktails at bar mitzvahs when he was 13 and soon moved on to marijuana and pills. Siegel was hooked on opioids by the time he
finished high school, when at age 17, a friend sold him OxyContin. He later moved on to heroin. Siegel kicked his opioid habit seven years ago. Now 30, he’s a journalist who writes about how public health policy needs to move from criminalizing drug addiction to treating addiction. Opioid use isn’t always addiction, Siegel cautioned. “The clinical definition of addiction means these drugs are ruining your life but you can’t stop using them. If someone is taking opioids every day for pain and they’re not suffering consequences — breaking into cars or robbing pharmacies to get their fix — then they don’t meet the criteria of addiction,” Siegel said in a phone interview from Chicago. “Of course, some people in chronic pain do go on to meet the definition of addiction. But the vast majority of those who are prescribed opioids do not get addicted to them.” In Israel, Priel attributes the lack of an opioid crisis to the very tight control that doctors and pharmacists maintain over prescription medications. “The medical society here never let it go like in the U.S.,” Priel said. “Here, doctors prescribe opioids only for very specific things like car accidents, just for the acute period — and only in hospitals. They won’t give you opioids because your toe got stuck in the door.” While some patients and advocates argue that cannabis — a derivative of the marijuana plant — may be an effective alternative to opioids for pain management, Priel demurs. Cannabis may help cancer patients sleep and give them an appetite, but it can’t offer pure relief from pain the way opioids do, he said. “In the best-case scenario, except for minor pain, completely replacing opioids is a dream. I don’t think that’ll ever happen because opioids are too good,” Priel said. “What I hope is that one day we’ll be able to give cancer patients an add-on drug to
reduce the amount of opioids they need. “If we can do that,” he said, “problems with addiction and overdosing will go down dramatically.” 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.
We Should All Be Eating More Blintzes This Year By Melissa Klurman This recipe originally appeared on The Nosher.
Blueberry Blintzes (Getty Images)
My not-so-healthy Jewish food resolution for 2020 sounds simple: Eat more blintzes. But as with the best blintzes, itâ€™s a little more complex than this simple statement. My grandmother, Mama Pearl, was 99 when she passed away in February. She was my baking buddy and Crisco guru. She taught me to make apple pie when I still had to stand on a stool to reach the counter, and Iâ€™m now the keeper of her index box full of sweet recipes for everything from Passover apple
fritters to pecan chocolate pie. One thing I never learned to make, though: her blueberry blintzes. No restaurant, diner, Jewish food emporium or synagogue has ever served me a blintz that looked like Mama Pearlâ€™s. The dough was so thin it was nearly transparent, and the whole blueberries in the filling â€” never jam â€” pushed up almost to the point of breaking through. Forget any tightly folded blankets of barely filled dough, these looked more like childrenâ€™s sharp elbows poking up under the sheets. How do I remember what they look like so clearly? Iâ€™ve got the last one in my freezer. She made it as part of a batch in the summer of 2018, and I held on to it thinking Iâ€™d wait until she made more. Now Iâ€™m too emotionally attached to either eat it or throw it away. The
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only thing I can think to do is to master her recipe and create more to keep the â€œoneâ€? company, so I donâ€™t have to continuously check to make sure no one has eaten it or defrosted my freezer in the night. But how to go about making a blintz thatâ€™s mostly a memory? To the recipe box I go. Only thereâ€™s no recipe here, and Iâ€™m not really surprised. A blintz is the kind of instinctual comfort food women of her generation made simply by the memories in their hands. So to the internet I head, but as with my restaurant quest, I can only find â€œfresh blueberriesâ€? that have been cooked down into jam. Then my mom saves the day with a recipe she wrote down by watching over my grandmotherâ€™s shoulder, and itâ€™s exactly how I remember it. I head back to my own kitchen and pull out my frozen keepsake, which Iâ€™ve been too emotional to do before now. The blueberries have shriveled from being in the deep freeze for two years, and thereâ€™s a layer of frost on one side that nearly brings me to tears. In fact, everything about my New Yearâ€™s blintz project makes me verklempt. I donâ€™t want to be the only holder of the last blintz, what I truly desire is impossible: for my grandmother to make me a cup of coffee from her 50-year-old percolator and ask me to take out the garden furniture while she fries up her sweet summer specialty. But a funny thing happens as I pour and swirl the batter in the frying pan: My own hand memories start to kick in. I can picture mama in the kitchen, and I know Iâ€™m going too slowly. The only way to get a thin, lacy blini is to make the pan hotter, pull it away from the heat quicker and swirl it more deftly, like she did. In the end, my pancakes are a bit thick, but my blueberries are lemony and delicious, bursting with flavor and still whole. The first batch was good, but thereâ€™s room for improvement. And that, I think, is the best part of having a New Yearâ€™s resolution to eat more blintzes: I still have the whole year to get it right. INGREDIENTS: For the blintzes: â€˘ 3 eggs â€˘ 1 cup milk â€˘ 1/2 cup water
â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘
1 cup all-purpose flour unsalted butter, for frying sour cream, for serving For the blueberry filling: 2 pints blueberries 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour â€˘ 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar â€˘ 2 teaspoons lemon zest â€˘ lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon) Directions: 1. Blitz all the blintz ingredients in a blender (consistency of the batter should be smooth with no lumps). 2. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat until hot and lightly grease with butter. 3. Pour about 1/8 cup (or 2 tablespoons) batter into the pan and tilt the pan in a circular motion until the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan in a large, thin circular shape. 4. Cook for 60-75 seconds until the edges of the blintz brown and the bottom is lightly golden. (You can tell itâ€™s ready by touching the center of the pancakeâ€™s surface â€” it should be dry and slightly tacky to the touch.) Do not flip the blintz to cook the other side. 5. Place the blintz on a plate lined with parchment or wax paper. Repeat process until all batter is cooked â€” this should yield around 18 blintzes. (Keep the blintzes separated by pieces of parchment paper, wax paper or paper towel. This will help keep them from sticking together.) 6. Combine all ingredients for the blueberry filling. 7. To wrap blintzes, place 1 tablespoon blueberry filling just off center. Fold the top down and the sides up over the filling, then roll down to the bottom (because the blueberries are lumpy, go slow and try and to stretch the dough over them without tearing it). 8. You can either serve the blintzes at this point or freeze them for later use. When youâ€™re ready to eat them, fry them on all sides in butter in a nonstick pan until golden. Serve with sour cream. Serves 8. ďƒŹ
Holocaust Survivors Will Soon Be Gone. Now It’s Up To Us To Speak Out Against Hate
Ronald S. Lauder
Ronald S. Lauder holds a #WeRemember sign ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Courtesy of World Jewish Congress)
NEW YORK (JTA) — It is a fact well-documented and well worth repeating: Within 25 years, it is likely that no survivors of the Holocaust will be alive. As a Jew, I am frightened by how the world looks in 2020. The rise of anti-Semitism we are experiencing today, both in the United States and elsewhere, feels eerily like 1933 Europe. The Interior Ministry in Germany reported last year that antiSemitic incidents in that country rose almost 20 percent between 2017 and 2018, reaching 1,799 politically motivated crimes with a presumed anti-Semitic motive in 2018, the most recent data available. Yet Germany is failing to provide police protections to synagogues. On Yom Kippur last year, a white supremacist would have killed far more than the two innocent victims he did had Roman Yossel Remis not bravely protected his fellow congregants in Halle. When I visited that German town mere weeks after the attack, I was shocked that a historic Jewish house of prayer, which had survived even the Nazis, was abandoned to its own fate, left to face the hate alone, unguarded and defenseless. In the first half of 2019, there were nearly 800 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States alone — including the attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, that left one woman dead — and the year ended on a similarly distressing note. As Jews around the world celebrated Hanukkah last month, a small group of worshippers in Monsey, New York, were attacked by a machetewielding zealot while convening at a rabbi’s home for a holiday party. Earlier in the month, three innocent people were shot to death in a Jersey City kosher supermarket by the THE
same two shooters who killed a police officer nearby. This bloodshed comes in addition to the seemingly unending stream of verbal and physical assaults launched at Jews in Orthodox neighborhoods. And the year before saw the worst attack on Jews in the history of the country, when a gunman killed 11 people during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The rate of increase of antiSemitic crimes in the United States and abroad should frighten every citizen, everywhere, whether they live in a community with a large Jewish population or not. We all have a responsibility to sound the alarm in order to prevent further violence and vitriol because left unchecked, we know all too well the horrors that threaten. We must prevent history from repeating itself. As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches, together we must remind ourselves and others why 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis: Because they were Jewish. The survivors of the Holocaust who so courageously share their stories have taken it upon themselves to relive the horrors they experienced so no one else has to. But with the number of living survivors rapidly dwindling, it is more imperative than ever that every person of conscience does their part to educate others on what can come if hatred and evil are left to fester unchecked. The atrocities of the Holocaust must not be forgotten, and the best way to ensure that is through organized, formal and ubiquitous Holocaust education. I’m grateful to global leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who just last month, while visiting Auschwitz for the first time as the leader of her country, publicly declared her own personal commitment as well as Germany’s to increasing Holocaust education there. And there is still so much more to do. We must encourage leaders around the world to stand up to a horrifying new wave of hatred. To
curb the rise in anti-Semitism and bigotry, we need action, not words. For the fourth year, the World Jewish Congress is leading the #WeRemember campaign, bringing people together on social media to ignite a conversation about the critical need for Holocaust education. The project is simple, yet extremely impactful, and anyone can take part. From now until Jan. 27, when the campaign will culminate at the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, take a photo
of yourself — or in a group — holding a sign that says “We Remember,” and then post it to your favorite social media platforms using the hashtag #WeRemember. I implore you to join us in stating emphatically that together, “We Remember.” When the world was silent, millions of innocent people were systematically murdered in cold blood. Let us join forces and raise our voices to ensure the atrocities of the Holocaust will never be repeated.
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Even Though Anti-Semitism Is Rising, We Can Still Appreciate How Far The Acceptance Of Jews Has Come In America
Rabbi Levi Shemtov attends a ceremony posthumously awarding Raoul Wallenberg with the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his heroism during the Holocaust, at the U.S. Capitol, July 9, 2014. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Early Friday afternoon, I received a call inviting me to the White House to participate in a same-day signing ceremony for legislation authorizing $375 million in Homeland Security grants to help protect synagogues, churches, mosques and other places of worship. I replied that while I would love to attend, the late-afternoon timing was going to be dangerously close to the start of Shabbat. About an hour later, the White House called back: It had reviewed the timing and the event would end earlier than it had thought. So I accepted, with the explicit understanding that it would not be seen as disrespectful if I and a small number of other Jewish leaders needed to discreetly depart if the event was delayed for any reason — even if that meant leaving before the conclusion of President Trump’s remarks. The White House agreed. Upon arriving, I was advised that the president might ask me to say a few words after he signed the bill, if time remained, and I should prepare something brief. The event did end up running a little late, and ultimately there was no opportunity for any remarks. Instead we were quickly escorted to the exit immediately after the president signed the bill, so we could
make our way home before the sun set. Indeed, it did so only a few minutes after I arrived home. Thankfully, I have had a number of opportunities to share my thoughts directly with the current president, as well as several of his predecessors. But those that went through my mind in the White House on Friday and prepared to share might have a significant relevance to the events both current and ancient. Jews around the world were preparing to read the Torah portion Vaera the following day, which recalls the visit by Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to beg him to free the Jewish people from slavery. He arrogantly refused their entreaties, setting the stage for the plagues upon his nation and the Jewish Exodus that later followed. In 1942, hundreds of American rabbis and Jewish leaders arrived in Washington, D.C., hoping to petition President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help end the Holocaust then raging in Europe. Like the Pharaoh of old, the president refused to see them or even hear their pleas. Just 78 years later, the greatest power in the world invites American rabbis and Jewish leaders to participate in an event formalizing a broad new effort to help protect the freedom of Jews to be safe and secure as we worship and serve our creator. It doesn’t stop there: The president and his staff accommodate the needs of invited Jewish representatives who choose to keep Shabbat (and kashrut) and do not cause them to violate those in order to be accorded that appropriate recognition and welcome. For this we are indeed grateful. Those are thoughts I would have shared with the president, and
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intend to do so at the next opportunity. This is a difficult time in our country, with anti-Semitic attacks spiking to perhaps historic highs while the drama of impeachment cleaves the country along partisan lines. Still, there is a small bright spot present for us all, regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum. (Personally, I try to stand in the most difficult place, the bipartisan center. It often feels that almost no one agrees with that position these days.) Let us recognize and cherish the bright spot of being an American Jew today: We have an unprecedented ability to practice our faith freely, even as we face the difficult challenges. Let us bear in mind that just as world leaders gathered in Jerusalem to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and honor the sacred memory of the 6 million who perished in the Holo-
caust, we must take note of how dramatically different our political situation is in America today: We have unprecedented opportunity as Jews to participate fully in public life with respect accorded, literally at the highest levels, for our adherence to tradition. We must honor memory, but we must also do more. We must own our power as Jews to ensure such a tragedy does not happen again. The living must ensure we carry forward the hopes and spirit of the lives so tragically lost. It takes real effort, but that is our awesome responsibility. As my mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, taught us, one cannot just watch and remember; one must do. And because of them, we must do more. Perhaps it would be a powerful See ANTI-SEMITISM on Page
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I Care Deeply About Israel, So Climate Change Is Determining My 2020 Vote In America By Rabbi Jonah Rank
Repair the World Fellows march against climate change in New York City, September 2016.
YARDLEY, Pa. (JTA) — Like every American Zionist, I want my vote for president to ensure Israel’s safety and ideals. Deciding how to vote isn’t always easy. Many, including Yossi Klein Halevi, dread the day when American Zionists must choose between Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. For plenty of American Jews, Sanders represents “a self-hating Jew,” an anti-Zionist, or at best a liberal Zionist who, despite his kibbutz days, never deemed it important to deliver unconditional support for the Israeli government. On the other hand, American Jews acknowledge Trump’s approach to Israel as right wing and, for many, it is reassuring to see that Trump is in step with ideas that Benjamin Netanyahu espouses — even an idea like annexation, the exact opposite of the disengagement that Ariel Sharon’s own conservative government orchestrated only 15 years ago. In this polarized political atmosphere, how can a centrist Zionist vote responsibly? I have found a way through by thinking about how another issue I care deeply about, our Earth, affects the Jewish world.
I believe that the responsible Zionist vote today has to do less with voting for Israel’s future but voting for all of our futures. Israel is facing a threat even larger than Iran, violence from Palestinian terrorists, the Islamic State or any militant group. Not too long from now, Tel Aviv could be underwater, the blooming desert may shrivel away and there may be no people left to live in what is now the Jewish state. I worry about the warnings from scientists who tell us that by 2050 — just 30 years from now — our planet may be too hot for human life to continue as we know it. I am worried about the warnings from scientists who tell us we have only about a decade left to reverse, stop or slow down the global climate change crisis. And I worry the most because so many people refuse to accept that our planet is imminently endangered. Whereas few people would ever question scientists’ predictions about the visibility of stars, moons or planets over the coming decades, predictions from the same scientists about the way Earth will look in the next few years remain an area of greater controversy. While there is no cadre of serious scientists who can disprove global climate change, our global climate crisis is, as Al Gore put it, an inconvenient truth, and it is unsettling to consider. Why must Zionists today make the environment their No. 1 priority as voters? Who else will defend Israel other than Zionists? Doesn’t a deep and informed commitment to Israel shape a robust understanding of foreign policy, of economic
ANTI-SEMITISM Continued from Page 26 initiative for every Jew today to do one more mitzvah just to honor one of those who perished and could no longer do so themselves. After all, today’s leading powers are standing there ready to help us do so with more security and without having to compromise who we are. We must use our freedom properly. RABBI LEVI SHEMTOV is the Executive Vice President of AmeriTHE
can Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, DC, founder of the Capitol Jewish Forum, and spiritual leader of TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital. 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.
trade deals, of immigration? It does, and these issues are near and dear to my heart, but I am afraid that rising temperatures and rising oceans may wipe away our civilizations — the value of a dollar bill, of religions, of borders, of everything. As a religious Jew who understands why children exit their schools to march for a future where they don’t have to worry about mass starvation, I occasionally terrify myself when I imagine a planet with just a few humans left who have figured out how to scavenge (since the grocery stores have nobody to stock them or run them) in the middle of some wasteland (since very little flora can still grow) and have no jobs other than protecting themselves (since money doesn’t matter when there’s nothing to buy). These few humans, who suspect that they will be the last humans on Earth, have no interest in Judaism — the religion, the history or even the bagels. Judaism is a luxury for refined humans in a developed civilization with time for making life about more than just nutrition, clothing and shelter. In an age without humans, Israel cannot exist, and Jewish tradition has nobody to observe it. The Babylonian Talmud shares a narrative (in Shabbat 88b-89a) where the angels in heaven are all clamoring to inherit the Torah, but God points out to them that the Torah provides a moral compass, an awareness of forces far greater than ourselves and a map for people searching for meaning in a physical world with suffering. God’s gift of the Torah would be useless in the hands of spirits; divine inspiration, the echo of God’s voice, is meant for human seekers. Could some other species evolve
and develop the potential to create or receive such a nuanced tradition as the one inherited by the Jewish people? I wouldn’t want to bet on such slim chances. I accept the simple principle of faith that Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson has stated: “God is not done with us yet.” I am not yet willing to accept a world beset by natural disaster where great Jewish books lie dormant with no souls to notice them. A world where there is nobody left to study Torah is the Jewish nightmare. When fires burn apart California, when Cape Town loses clean water, and when the ice caps slowly melt into facts from the past, I know we have to put in a serious effort to be God’s partners in creation. The least we can do is a little maintenance for Earth. Although a Sanders vs. Trump choice is one that deprives me of voting for my favorite candidate (Warren, if you must know) — Yossi Klein Halevi’s dilemma poses no moral equivalency for me. The Torah does not give much voting advice, but it does tell us to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). I am going to vote with great hope and enthusiasm for the candidate who can best convince me that they will do everything they can to keep our planet a place where we can all live — in Israel and the Diaspora. The Jewish people have survived and rebuilt many times. In this time of all these crises, Jews rely on the whole world surviving and rebuilding together. 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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