The Jewish Light Election 2021 Issue

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December 2021

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As Pandemic Drove Judaism Online, Chabad Bet On More Than $137 Million In Real Estate

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By Asaf Shalev

Chabad bought a historic church in Chicago last year and converted it into a Jewish center known as Chabad of East Lakeview. (Courtesy of Chabad)

(JTA) — Facing declining membership, a mainline Protestant congregation in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood listed its historic church complex for sale in the summer of last year. Church leaders were told it would take at least a year to complete the deal. But within days, an attractive offer came in, and a few months later the building’s $2.85 million sale closed.

The buyers were a pair of Chabad emissaries who had been serving Jews in the North Side neighborhood from their rented apartment since 2015. By converting the church complex, the Hasidic couple, Rabbi Dovid Kotlarsky and his wife Devorah Leah, could now realize their dream of expanding Chabad’s footprint and establishing a synagogue and preschool. According to Chabad.org, key to making the purchase was a $2 million donation from Chicago tax attorney Jaques Aaron Preis, who heads the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust. Preis was quoted as praising Chabad’s “authenticity” and welcoming attitude. The real estate transaction in Lakeview — a hub of Jewish life in

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Chicago, where large Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues have long operated from stately buildings — represents just one of dozens of investments by Chabad in new buildings or in renovating and expanding existing properties. In some regards, Chabad seems like an anomaly in the Jewish world. Many non-Orthodox Jewish institutions are unsure about what the future holds for their physical spaces after a year and a half of largely digital engagement — and after decades of declining synagogue membership for Judaism’s largest American denominations. Chabad, meanwhile, whose strictly Orthodox emissaries seek followers from across the range of Jewish beliefs and practices, appears to be confident about its capacity to attract large numbers of people to its centers. The movement has embarked on at least $137 million in real estate

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projects since the start of the Covid19 pandemic, according to numbers compiled by Chabad.org and reviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. In Greenwich, Connecticut, the local Chabad paid $20 million to take over the site of a Jewish day school that closed last year. In Durham, North Carolina, a $3 million renovation of a historic inn — supported in part by Sarah Bloom Raskin, the Duke University law professor who is married to U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin — was dedicated last week. And the Chabad at the University of Illinois is spending more than $7 million to own and renovate a massive Tudor-style fraternity house. Because the thousands of Chabad emissaries around the world fundraise independently, Chabad’s news and public relations arm had to col-

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Antisemitism Fears Prompted 4 In 10 American Jews To Change Their Behavior Last Year: AJC Survey. By Philissa Cramer

Jewish rally-goers listen to Joseph Borgen, who was the target of an antisemitic attack, during an event denouncing antisemitism on May 27, 2021 in Cedarhurst, New York (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Fear of antisemitism spurred 40% of American Jews to change their behavior over the past year, according to a new survey about antisemitism in America. The survey, released Monday, is the latest in an annual series commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to understand how Jewish Americans and the general public experience and perceive antisemitism. A survey of American Jews found that over the last year, 17% said they “avoided certain places, events, or situations,” 22% avoided making themselves visually identi-

fiable as a Jew and 25% refrained from posting Jewish-related content online. A companion survey of the general public, meanwhile, found that the proportion of Americans who say they understand what antisemitism is rose sharply in the last year, from 53% in 2020 to 65% this year. Last year’s survey was taken shortly before the presidential election in which Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump, whom many Jews perceived as stoking antisemitism. At the time, just 4% of American Jews said they felt more secure than they had in the past; this year that proportion was significantly higher, at 10%. “Almost 40% of Jews have changed their behavior. This is horrible and heartbreaking data,” Holly Huffnagle, the AJC’s U.S. director for combating antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about this year’s findings. “But I think we can’t hide the fact that more Jews feel secure today,” she added, noting that when the surveyors asked for an explanation,

“The change in the administration was by far the biggest response to that.” This year’s surveys were taken in September and early October and included 1,214 Americans overall and 1,433 Jews. The margin of error for each survey was 3.9%. In a shift, the majority of the surveys were completed online, rather than by phone, although Huffnagle said researchers had concluded that the change had not influenced results in any particular way. Some of the results, including the finding about the proportion of American Jews who changed their behavior out of fear, cannot be directly compared to the AJC’s past antisemitism surveys because this year’s version asked about experiences only in the last year. Previous surveys asked about experiences and perceptions in the past two or five years. “We decided to lose the trend data in favor of accurate information,” Huffnagle said. Other findings are comparable over time, and suggest that much has

remained unchanged in American Jewish sentiment. The vast majority of American Jews continue to say that antisemitism is a problem in the United States; antisemitism on college campuses remains a concern for many American Jews; and American Jews continue to say they are more concerned about antisemitism emanating from the extreme right than the extreme left. Half of American Jews say they “extreme political right” poses a “very serious” antisemitic threat, and 91% said they believed the far right poses at least some threat, similar to last year’s finding. In a shift, however, the proportion of American Jews who said they thought “the extreme political left” represents at least a slight antisemitic threat increased sharply, from 61% last year to 71% this year. Huffnagle said she attributed the increase in the general public’s awareness of antisemitism to multiple high-profile incidents related to right-wing activity, including See ANTISEMITISM on Page

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penetration of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has antisemitic overtones, and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where one participant was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. She also said a broader discourse around combatting discrimination and hate, spurred in part by a response to attacks on Asian Americans, may have played a role. “I think there might have been this national wakeup call,” Huffnagle said, adding, “at least about how to answer survey questions.” Three quarters of Jews said they had heard “a lot” or “some” about Jews being attacked in the United States and abroad during Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza in May. Three quarters of those respondents — representing a majority of Jews — said those reports had made them feel less safe as Jews in the United States. Huffnagle said there was little evidence that the incidents of antisemitism reported at the time had contributed to the shift in sentiment

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within the general public. Still, she said, the general public remains notably supportive of Israel — perhaps more so than American Jews. She pointed to the fact that the proportion of general-public respondents who said they viewed the statement “Israel has no right to exist” as antisemitic was higher this year: 85% of respondents said the statement is antisemitic, compared to 77% last year.ì

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‘A New Judaica’: Meet The Israeli Entrepreneurs Putting The Bible On The Blockchain By Shira Hanau

Yonatan Bendahan and Yuval Meyraz are the founders of CryptoVerses, a company selling nonfungible tokens of verses from the Bible. (CryptoVerses)

(JTA) — A Bible in printed form: about $20. A Bible on the blockchain: priceless — or at least that’s the hope of two Israeli entrepreneurs who are turning verses from the Torah into NFTs. Nonfungible tokens, otherwise known as NFTs, have become a hot

commodity among art collectors and blockchain enthusiasts in the last year. Everyone from Grimes to The New York Times has gotten in on the game, selling everything from art to a newspaper column to clip-art pet rocks, in a new industry that can sometimes feel like a scam. Now CryptoVerses, a company founded by two secular Israelis, is hoping to make NFTs composed of verses from the Bible encrypted in Hebrew and English into the next big blockchain collectible. CryptoVerses organizes its verses into small groups, arranged by story, and has already sold 30 of them for an average price of 0.91 Ethereum, or approximately $4,150.

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While others have created NFTs of artwork connected to chapters of the Torah, CryptoVerses appears to be the first company to encrypt the actual biblical text. “It’s like an evolution of the printing press,” Yonatan Bendahan, a software developer and one of the cofounders of CryptoVerses, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He likened the Bible verse NFTs to “a kind of a new Judaica.” Yuval Meyraz, Bendahan’s cofounder, recalled carrying a Bible with him on hikes as a youth group counselor. He would read stories from the Bible that were relevant to wherever they were hiking in Israel as a way of connecting his campers to the text. “It was a great way to deliver the story to the next generation, but these days I’m working on a bit more of a technology way to connect young people … with the stories we love and grew up on,” Meyraz said. JTA spoke to Meyraz and Bendahan about why someone would want to own an encrypted Bible verse and how the idea has been received. This conversation has been edited and condensed. JTA: First of all, can you explain what an NFT is for those of us who still don’t get it? Meyraz: Sure. So, NFT stands for nonfungible token, A token is a piece of digital asset that you can own, just like Bitcoin or any other cryptoc u r r e n c y. When it comes to NFT, it’s a different type of digital asset that you can own. But it’s not a coin; it’s something that represents something unique that you can own and transfer, buy and sell. It started mostly with digital art: people

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created digital images, and created a token, which represented those images and started to transfer ownership over those images. So why would someone want to buy an NFT of a Bible verse? Bendahan: We see it as kind of a new Judaica, some piece of something that you can collect that you have some personal connection to, and you want to give it to yourself or to one of your family members. Our second objective is to encrypt the Bible text on the blockchain. So we want to take the Bible text, which was started from writing on a piece of paper or something which was before even paper, and then transfer into digital copies over the internet. And now the next phase which we are leading is putting in on the blockchain. And what’s so unique about it is that we put this text on a distributed network, and in this way we can make sure that no one can delete it, and it can be available to anyone. So, by owning an NFT that encrypts a Bible verse, you can participate in preserving the text on the blockchain. How can you even make the Bible into NFTs when no individual person can really own the Bible? Meyraz: So as you said, no one can own the Torah, it’s totally public domain. And we don’t really claim that anyone is going to own it, of course. But we see it more like a piece of art that we made for the first time. For example, let’s say that I took 5,884 candlesticks from gold, and on each one of them I minted a different verse. And we have each candlestick with a specific verse only once. It’s unique. Now, I’m going out there and selling my art with the specific verse, and it’s not that I’m selling the Bible, but we own the unique canvas, because you have only one. So it’s the same when we created this NFT: It’s a piece of art, we sell the encrypted verse and it’s the first time in history of the Jewish people and it’s what we sell. So the NFT is something that you can own — but no one owns the Bible itself. Who are the people buying these NFTs? And has there been any backlash? Meyraz: Religious people, some See JUDAICA on Page THE

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of them, we were surprised. They found it super interesting. We were afraid that we would get some backlash on the project. We didn’t know how it would be accepted, especially with religious [Jewish] people. And what surprised us was that it was mostly religious people who are more excited about the project. So we have some investors who are religious, studying in yeshiva even now. One of them actually even helps us with the text, with analyzing the text — you’d be surprised how many versions of the Torah there are, so we had to choose which version is the right one. It’s really surprising how our intuition that we hope that everyone will connect to the story to preserve the story, how it really connects to everyone in the real world. This was really surprising, I think it’s very beautiful that people see texts as something precious, especially in the digital age.

In Coalition Agreement, German Parties Vow To Defend Jewish Life And Israel’s Security By Cnaan Liphshiz

Olaf Scholz, waving his hand, and politicians present the joint coalition agreement of the new ruling parties of the German federal government at a press conference in Berlin on Nov. 24, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images)

MUNICH (JTA) — Three political parties in Germany presented a coalition agreement which reiterated commitments to ensure Israel’s security and fight antisemitism and, for the first time, also pledged to promote Jewish life.

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The agreement, whose main focus is addressing climate change, was presented Wednesday by the coalition parties, which include the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Free Democratic Party and the Greens, in Berlin. The coalition agreement determines the division of ministerial positions and major policy themes and marks a milestone toward establishing a government after the departure from politics of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel. A center-left politician for the Christian Democrats who had served four terms since 2005, Merkel is to be replaced by Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democrats. The Central Council of Jews in Germany released a statement welcoming the agreement. “We are confident about the plans of the future federal government. A successful fight against right-wing extremism and antisemitism are of crucial importance for the future of Germany,” the statement read. Charlotte Knobloch, a previous president of the organization and current leader of the Jewish Community of Munich, was more reserved in commenting about the agreement. “I think it sounds good, it has some positive declarations, but I will form my opinion on the new government not based on these words, but on action. So I’m suspending any judgment and waiting for those actions,” Knobloch told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The agreement will help Germany become a “pioneer on climate protection,” the main focus of the

agreement, and its government “will invest massively to maintain Germany’s status as a world leader,” Scholz said, according to the Financial Times. The parties agreed to end dependency on coal “ideally” by 2030 (the previous deadline was 2038) and switch to 80% renewable energy by 2030 (the previous target was 45%.) OnJewishissues,thenewagreementstates: “We will protect Jews and their institutions together with the federal states. It is a shameful and painful state of affairs in Germany that they must be permanently guarded.” The government “will strengthen initiatives that promote Jewish life and promote its diversity, and combat all forms of antisemitism.” The previous coalition agreement, signed in 2019, mentioned the fight against antisemitism but not the promotion of Jewish life. The new agreement also states that “Israel’s security is a national interest” of Germany, and vows to block “antisemitic attempts to condemn Israel, also at the UN.” It states Germany will continue to support the twostate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it welcomes normalization of ties between Israel and Arab countries. The Greens and the future ruling party of Germany, the Social Democrats, or SPD, have criticized Israel frequently. Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel in 2012 said the situation in the West Bank city of Hebron was “apartheid,” sparking condemnations that eventually prompted his party to apologize for that remark.

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This Young US Immigrant In Jerusalem Is Telling Israel’s Story To The World By Renee Ghert-Zand

Tamar Schwarzbard is grateful for getting to tell Israel’s story to the world every day—not through lectures or opinion columns, but via social platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Tamar Schwarzbard is grateful for getting to tell Israel’s story to the world every day—not through lectures or opinion columns, but via social platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. A U.S. native who immigrated to Israel eight years ago, Schwarzbard isn’t just any online advocate for Israel. As head of new media at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it’s her job to communicate with global audiences about her adopted home. Depending on the day, Schwarzbard oversees between 20 and 30

employees at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Jerusalem. She is in charge of the ministry’s branding and digital ecosystem, which operates in six languages. Schwarzbard works primarily in English, but she supervises work carried out in Hebrew, Farsi, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. The Jerusalem-based ministry team works with over 100 Israeli missions and embassies worldwide. “For me, the excitement is less about the social media and more about the worldwide reach and the opportunity to shape hearts and minds,” she said. This 31-year-old Jerusalemite is one of a growing number of American immigrants to Israel playing increasingly prominent and important roles in Israeli government or business. Schwarzbard sees her success as a combination of luck and good timing — and an example of how Israel is capitalizing on the value and unique contributions of new immigrants who come with university degrees or professional

track records. “My potential as an olah is appreciated. I’ve been truly welcomed,” Schwarzbard said. “I don’t take it for granted.” Growing up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn as the youngest of four children in a modern Orthodox family, Schwarzbard always imagined herself making aliyah — immigrating and living her adult life in Israel. Her family was Zionist, including her four Holocaust survivor grandparents. Her paternal grandparents and one of her older sisters immigrated ahead of her. Another sister made aliyah after her. As with all American olim nowadays, their immigration was facilitated by Nefesh B’Nefesh, which assists with immigration from North America in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA. When Schwarzbard moved to Israel from New York in August

2013 after graduating from Yeshiva University’s Stern College with a history degree, she was unsure where she was going professionally. She had secured a recruitment position with Yeshiva University’s Israel office so she could hit the ground running, but she didn’t view the post as a career-making job. Tamar Schwarzbard is one of a growing number of American immigrants to Israel playing increasingly prominent and important roles in Israeli government or business. (Courtesy of Tamar Schwarzbard) She ended up going back to school, getting a master’s degree in communications and journalism at the Hebrew University (free or heavily discounted university tuition is one of the benefits Israel offers new immigrants). While still in school, Schwarzbard took a student position in the Foreign Ministry’s digital diplomacy department, See YOUNG IMMIGRANT on Page

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A Quarter Of European Jewish Community Leaders Say They’ve Considered Emigrating Amid Concerns About Growing Antisemitism By Cnaan Liphshiz

Jewish immigrants moving to Israel get off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in 2020. (Jewish Agency for Israel)

(JTA) — A survey of Jewish community leaders in Europe found that 23% said they were considering emigrating. That figure is unchanged since the last time the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee conducted its regular survey of European Jewish sentiment three years ago. But the JDC survey found that European Jewish leaders, especially in Western Europe, are increasingly concerned about antisemitism, which for the first time since 2008 topped respondents’ rankings of concerns for their communities. It also found that European Jewish leaders say they feel less connected to communities across the continent than they have in the past and that they are more concerned about poverty in their own communities. Only 3% of the leaders surveyed said they had made active preparations to leave Europe and 67% said they had not considered emigrating at all. Another 8% did not answer the question. Of the Jewish community leaders who said they had contemplated leaving, roughly two thirds said they would make aliyah, or immigrate to Israel. The survey did not ask respondents their reasons for contemplating emigrating. But it is clear from their responses that European Jewish leaders are increasingly concerned about antisemitism and security. More than two thirds of respondents said they expected antisemitism to increase in Europe over the next decade; only about half of respondents answered that way in 2008, the first time the survey was conducted. At the same time, 22% of respondents said they feel unsafe in their cities now, compared to 7% in 2008. Concern was highest in Western Europe, where a spate of jihadist attacks on Jews over the last decade have contributed to increased immiTHE

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gration to Israel, particularly from France. In the years 2000 to 2010, fewer than 20,000 French Jews moved to Israel. But in the last decade, more than 40,000 have, a trend that surged after a jihadist murdered four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, and surged again after another jihadist attack in 2015 left four Jews dead at a Paris kosher supermarket. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have hurt members’ income and communal cash makers such as museums, are also visible in the survey. Poverty in the community, “though not one of the top threats, has grown steadily over the years, from 10% in 2008 to 35% in 2021,” the authors wrote. Some 37% of respondents marked financial hardship among members due to COVID-19 as a major threat to the community. Efforts in several countries to ban the slaughter of animals for

meat without stunning — a key factor in European efforts to curtail kosher slaughter — and non-medical male circumcision emerged for the first time as one of the top three greatest threats facing Jewish communities. Among respondents younger than 40, 26% said this was a very serious threat, as did 66% of older respondents. Support for Israel has grown among respondents over previous polls. For example, 66% agreed this year with the statement “I support Israel fully, regardless of how its government behaves.” The same statement had a support rating of only 48% in 2015 and 57% in 2011. But in keeping with trends

detected outside Europe, respondents under 40 were less likely to agree with that statement and ranked support for Israel as the lowest among 18 communal priorities. The survey included 1,054 respondents in 31 countries and was conducted in 10 languages About a third of respondents said they were Orthodox Jews, while a similar number characterized themselves as culturally Jewish. Nearly 60% were male and over 55 years old, reflecting the fact that the survey is of communal leaders; few Jews under 40 sit on communal organizations’ boards, according to the survey.

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How Moving To Denmark, A Country With Few Fellow Jews, Strengthened My Jewish Identity By Rebecca Nachman This article originally appeared on Alma.

Copenhagen, Denmark. (Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images)

Growing up, one of my favorite books was “Number the Stars,” Lois Lowry’s middle-grade novel about Denmark’s effort to smuggle its Jewish citizens to Sweden during World War II. The operation, which saved 7,220 of Denmark’s 7,800 Jews, has been remarkable to me since I first read about it: while other European countries gave in to antisemitic propganda and followed Hitler’s rule, Denmark resisted. A common explanation today is that Danes didn’t see their Jewish neighbors as “others” — they were just as Danish as anyone else. Why wouldn’t they help their fellow Danskere? Almost 80 years after the rescue

of the Danish Jews, I moved to Copenhagen for grad school. Today, Denmark’s Jewish population stands at around 6,000 members, most of whom are congregated in the greater Copenhagen area. Coming from the Boston area, which is home to 248,000 Jews, and having attended Brandeis University, a historically Jewish college known for its robust Jewish population, landing in a country with such a small Jewish population was a big adjustment. But to my surprise, I preferred it. Growing up, my family attended a Reform synagogue, I went to Jewish summer camp and Hebrew school, and I had a bat mitzvah — but the whole time, I felt like I was just going through the motions. At no point did I feel any sort of Jewish community, nor did I feel the need for one. Plenty of my friends and teachers were Jewish, my classmates knew about Jewish holidays, and there is no shortage of Jewish

delis and Judaica stores in Greater Boston. Being Jewish wasn’t something I consciously thought about because it was so normalized in my setting. But in Denmark, I’m often the first Jewish person someone has (knowingly) met. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the national religion, but Denmark is overall an extremely atheistic country, with most people not being involved in any form of religious life. Here, I’ve had to make an effort to meet other Jews, and in doing so, I found an amazing Jewish community. Despite Denmark’s small Jewish population, there’s an official Jewish community, Det Jødiske Samfund, a Jewish museum, an Orthodox synagogue, a Reform synagogue, a Chabad house, a Jewish elementary school, youth groups and an annual cultural festival There’s even a Jewish-Muslim biker club (yes, you read that right) that works to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia in Denmark and create mutual understanding between the two religious minorities. And this year, Copenhagen will host a gathering of Jewish young adults from all over Scandinavia. Whether it’s services at the Reform synagogue, challah baking at Chabad, or Shabbat dinner with the Jewish youth movement at the Great Synagogue, I’m never at a loss for Jewish events to attend.

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I appreciate that the community isn’t strictly divided by denomination — I see the same familiar faces no matter which synagogue or organization I go to. While I never felt like I found my place in Greater Boston’s fragmented Jewish population, I immediately felt welcome in Jewish Denmark. When we’re such a small minority (only 0.1% of the population), the need for a community is more pressing. Having to deliberately seek out Jewish life has made the connections I’ve forged all the more special. Danish society is notoriously hard for foreigners to integrate into, but through the Jewish community I’ve been able to make Copenhagen feel like home. Of course, this isn’t to say that being Jewish in Denmark is always idyllic. In 2014 the Jewish school was vandalized, and in 2015 a terrorist attacked the Great Synagogue. I personally haven’t experienced antisemitism here, but I know that my experience as a recent transplant is different from those of Jewish Danes who have spent their lives here, and from those who more clearly present as Jewish. That being said, I still feel significantly safer as a Jew here than I did in the U.S. (I have yet to hear a Dane compare vaccines to the Holocaust, baruch hashem). I still think of “Number the Stars” often, especially when I’m at the same synagogue that the Jewish characters attended, or when I walk past a site that was mentioned in the book. I have no Danish heritage, so I’m not personally connected to the rescue of the Danish Jews. But, as schmaltzy as it sounds, I feel a sense of poetic beauty in finding a Jewish home in the same tiny Scandinavian country that came together to save thousands of us so many years ago. Rebecca Nachman is Global Health master’s student at the University of Copenhagen. 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.ì

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Jewish Festival’s Return To Russia’s Urals Region Is Cause For Celebration By Larry Luxner

Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar talks to participants during a session at Limmud FSU Volga-Urals, October 2021. (Ilya Shalman)

The last time Limmud FSU held a festival in Kazan, in 2016, hundreds of Jews from across the vast Volga-Urals region flocked to the event in Russia’s fifth-largest city. Back then, the greatest obstacle to participation was geographic distance, yet some 600 people nevertheless turned up. This month, Limmud FSU returned to Kazan for a three-day convention, but this time the challenges were quite different amid another wave of the coronavirus. Despite the pandemic concerns that prompted organizers to cap attendance at several hundred, there seemed no limit to participants’ enthusiasm for a Jewish celebration after nearly two years of social distancing in this historic city some 510 miles east of Moscow. Under cold, crisp October skies, Russianspeaking Jews young and old gathered at a country retreat perched along the Volga River in the village of Borovoye Matyushino, about half an hour’s drive from Kazan, which is the capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan. “This was our very first Limmud since 2016 and coronavirus,” said Limmud volunteer Katya Zueva, a professor of English and American literature at Kazan Federal University. “People were so happy that we finally managed to spend three days together, enjoying sessions, workshops, concerts and an amazing children’s program. And as a mother, I was really happy that my daughter, Elizaveta, was part of it.” Dima Zicer leads a session on education at Limmud FSU Volga-Urals, October 2021. (Anna Ryasenskaya) Zueva, 37, noted that Kazan is famous for its acceptance of different religions and ethnicities. “We are an extremely tolerant region. In Kazan, there were never any signs of antisemitism,” she said, recalling how, in 2015, local Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders showed up for the re-dedication of Kazan’s 100-year-old synagogue as part of an event organized by Limmud FSU. Kazan, with 1.2 million inhabitants, is home to around 15,000 Jews, making it one of Russia’s largest Jewish communities outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Known for its vibrant mix of Tatar and THE

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Russian cultures, it was one of the host cities of ology at Kazan Federal University. She gave a the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In addition to the lecture about COVID-19, vaccines and PCR rededicated synagogue, Kazan is also home to tests. the Center for Jewish Studies at Kazan Federal LAW_full Size_2019_print.pdf 1 11/11/19 11:38 AM See FESTIVAL University. on Page 27 Zueva, who also attended the 2016 gathering, helped prepare this year’s Limmud FSU program, which featured Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar; Ilya Altman, co-chair of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center in Moscow; educator and writer Dima Zicer, who talked about how to raise children; Yuri Tabak, an expert on the roots of antisemitism in Russia; Ronen Krausz, minister plenipotentiary of the Israeli Embassy in Moscow; and Yitzhak Gorelik, the chief rabbi of Tatarstan. “This is not the first Limmud in Kazan, and we know that in previous years, the conference was held here in its best traditions — supporting and strengthening Jewish identity through interest in Jewish culture and heritage, combined with a spirit of volunteerism,” said Dorit Golender, vice-president for community relations at Genesis Philanthropy Group, one of Limmud FSU’s key backers, along with the Claims Conference, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), the Blavatnik Family Foundation, philanthropists Diane Wohl and Tom Blumberg, and others. “This is key to the success of Limmud all over the world, and Kazan is no exception.” Louisiana Alarm Watch (504) 780-8775 www.laalarmwatch.com Polina Galitskaya, 40, who heads SECURITY • FIRE • MEDICAL ALERT • CAMERAS • ACCESS CONTROL the Limmud FSU Volga-Urals organizing committee, teaches microbiC

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Holiday Features

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This Unique Hanukkah Program Celebrates A World Of Jewish Miracles By Larry Luxner

Ten years ago, Illya Buzunov never could have imagined that one day he’d be teaching Jews around the world how to prepare potato latkes. Until 2014, the Ukraine native didn’t even know he was Jewish. But that’s exactly what Buzunov, 24, will be doing on November 30 — the third night of Hanukkah — as part of a new video event series that brings together Jews from a variety of countries for Hanukkah candle lighting celebrations and an inside look at their communities. Each night, Jews from a different location around the globe will light candles as a part of the series,

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which highlights an aspect of local Jewish music, dance or cuisine, as well as the location’s Jewish history. The global Chanukah campaign is part of an effort by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the massive global Jewish humanitarian organization known as JDC, to highlight Jewish communities worldwide. “I’ll demonstrate how to make latkes using a traditional recipe of potatoes, eggs, salt, baking powder and oil,” said Buzunov, who coordinates Active Jewish Teens, JDC’s teen network across the former Soviet Union, at the JDC-sponsored Halom Jewish community center in Kyiv, Ukraine. The network is organized in partnership with Genesis Philanthropy Group and is part of the BBYO youth movement. “It’s one of the easiest things you can do for Hanukkah,” he said. JDC’s Hanukkah series, “A Great

Miracle Happened Here,” will be livestreamed each night at 7 p.m. ET on JDC’s event site, chanukah. jdc.org, as well as on its Facebook page. The events kick off Nov. 28 in New York with a segment hosted by author Dara Horn and featuring special guests including ChineseJewish celebrity Molly Yeh, who hosts the Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm” TV show. Subsequent nights will feature Jewish communities in Morocco, Ukraine, Estonia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Poland. The series concludes Dec. 5 with a broadcast from Latin America hosted by Analucia Lopezrevoredo of Jewtina y Co, an organization that seeks to nurture and celebrate Latin-Jewish community, identity, leadership and resiliency. The aim of this first-of-its-kind project, said Heather Morgan, JDC’s managing director of global marketing and communications, is

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to use the Jewish holiday to raise awareness of JDC’s own work worldwide — now in its 107th year. “We’ve been involved in almost every monumental event in modern Jewish history, but there’s a disconnect between the primacy of JDC as an organization and how much people really know about us,” Morgan said. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to raise awareness and visibility by linking ourselves with the Hanukkah narrative, which in so many ways parallels JDC’s own narrative.” Since its founding in 1914, the organization has provided urgent and non-urgent humanitarian aid to Jews and others in more than 70 countries worldwide, from Argentina to Uzbekistan. In just this last year, JDC has assisted earthquake victims in Haiti, See JEWISH MIRACLES on Page

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National Survey On Youth And Religion Raises Concern About Gen-Z Jews — And Questions About How To Understand Them By Asaf Shalev and Ella Rockart

Members of USY, a Jewish youth movement, visit Millennium Park in Chicago. (Screenshot from YouTube)

(JTA) — A massive survey conducted over the past year found that even as young Americans are rejecting traditional organized religion, they are still embracing faith and spirituality, broadly defined. The pollsters behind the Springtide Research Institute, a new nonprofit dedicated to research about the “inner and outer lives” of young people, say their poll, of more than 10,000 Americans between 13 and 25, is without recent precedent in its size and breadth. They also said Jewish respondents — 215 in total, a

sample size they identified as statistically significant — appeared to be among those thriving the least in their religious and spiritual lives. The Jewish results, shared exclusively with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, confirm some elements of conventional wisdom about Gen Z Jews in America and challenge others. They also raise longstanding questions about whether Jews can effectively be studied the same way as people from other religious backgrounds. It’s difficult to study how Jews compare to other religious groups because some individuals may identify as culturally, but not religiously, Jewish, according to Richard Flory, a sociologist serving as the executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. “A person can say ‘I’m an athe-

ist, but I’m a Jew,’” Flory said. “Well, how do you deal with that? It’s a problem.” The Springtide researchers opted to sort survey respondents into a wide range of categories: Jewish appears alongside other religious identities, as well as agnostic, atheist, “nothing in particular” and “something else.” The respondents who identified themselves as Jewish stood out from their peers from other “major religious groups” — Protestant Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus — in several ways, the Springtide poll found. Young Jews, more than members of any other group, said they were “not flourishing” in their relationships with friends, family, teachers, or other trusted adults. The same was true when asked about their physical health, mental health, social and online lives, and “faith lives.”

Young Jews also led the pack with the highest percentage rejecting the sentence, “In general, I feel very positive about myself.” And some 40% of young American Jews in the study said they do not need “a spiritual community,” the highest rate among major religions — a potential point of alarm for those who are hoping to increase young Jews’ engagement with synagogues and other Jewish institutions. “This should be a call for greater urgency for those positioned to care for young Jews, including teachers, employers, coaches, and especially leaders of synagogues,” said Springtide CEO Josh Packard. “There is real need and opportunity to start leading with relationships to help young Jews flourish.” See GEN-Z JEWS on Page

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New Study From Hillel And ADL Finds A Third Of Students On Campus Experienced Antisemitism In Last Year By Philissa Cramer

A student bikes across campus at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

(JTA) — A third of Jewish college students say they have personally experienced antisemitism in the last year, according to a new survey conducted jointly by Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League. The two groups recently announced a partnership aimed at combating antisemitism on college campuses; the survey represents one of the first fruits of the relationship. The results add data and texture to the picture of Jewish life on campus that has been built in recent years in large part on anecdotes and

firestorms. They suggest that the majority of Jewish students at American colleges feel safe and supported on campus — but that a significant minority have experienced antisemitism or obscured their Jewish identity out of fear of antisemitism. The survey offers a “strong validation of the reality that Jewish students are facing, which is a significant and unacceptable level of antisemitism and other anti-Jewish bias,” Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Fifteen percent of students who responded to the survey said they had “felt the need to hide” their Jewish identity and 6% said they had felt unwelcome in a campus organization because they were Jewish. Often, the survey found, students reported being or feeling excluded because of their actual or perceived support for Israel. Conducted online

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in July and August, the survey captured sentiment shortly after the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May contributed to a spike in pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses and beyond. The survey included 756 selfidentified Jewish college students on 220 campuses and had a margin of error of 4%. It drew from a national sample of college students, meaning that students surveyed were not all engaged with Hillel or other aspects of Jewish life on their campuses. Those that did engage with activities were more likely to say they have experienced antisemitism, the survey found, but they were also more likely to report feeling safe on campus as Jews. Hillel has made one key finding — that while 80% of Jewish students say they are proud to be Jewish, only 62% of them say they are comfortable telling people about that pride — the centerpiece of a social media campaign that launched earlier this month. The #OwnYourStar campaign has been seen more than 1 million times since it began, according to Lehman. In many of the posts associated with the campaign, Hillel professionals, student leaders and their supporters have been sharing their campus experiences. One wrote this week about her fear upon seeing a Star of David etched into a bulletin board and not knowing the intention of the person who left it there. The director of Hillel at Miami University in Cincinnati, Ohio wrote, “Our students are constantly being asked where their horns are (don’t have any!), why they killed Palestinian babies (they don’t), or have their mezuzah dropped from their dorm doors.” Lehman said Hillel’s student cabinet, a group of 22 Jewish student leaders from campuses around the world, had made a conscious decision to make combating antisemitism the focus of their social media advocacy. “We know we cannot simply bury our heads in the sand in the face of rising antisemitism and hope it will disappear,” he said.

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“We feel a responsibility to take these issues on.” The Hillel-ADL findings dovetail with another major report about antisemitism in the United States released this week. The American Jewish Committee’s annual antisemitism study found that 20% of American Jews said that over the last five years, they or someone they personally knew had experienced antisemitism on a college campus. They also dovetail with a slew of reports about challenging conditions at individual campuses. Some of those reports have emerged through Jewish on Campus, an Instagram account that launched last year to let students share anonymous stories about antisemitism and has quickly become emblematic of efforts to combat antisemitism taking place outside of the traditional infrastructure of Jewish life on campus. Hillel and the ADL say the survey’s findings point to a number of steps that colleges and universities should take, including incorporating instruction about antisemitism into any diversity training that students and faculty receive and making it easier for students to report antisemitism that they experience. The vast majority of students experiencing antisemitism said they did not report it, and 40% of those who did report incidents to campus staff said they felt their reports were not taken seriously. Lehman said the formal reporting structure that Hillel is establishing with the ADL, which has for years chronicled antisemitic incidents in the United States, is an important step. “The more venues for students to report the better, particularly given the content of massive underreporting,” Lehman said. But he added, “The more that we can have students doing reporting through official channels, the better because then we end up with a clear ability to track issues and incidents over time and a more simplified and credible set of data to take to our administration partners.” ì THE

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Dolph Schayes Named One Of The NBA’s 75 Best AllTime Players By Ami Eden

Dolph Schayes (Bettmann/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Twelve-time NBA AllStar Dolph Schayes is the only Jewish player on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, a list created by a panel including legendary players, coaches and executives. Billed as a list of the leagues alltime great 75 players (actually 76, thanks to a tie), the team was selected via voting by NBA greats and leading media members. When he retired in 1964, Schayes was the league’s career leader in games played, foul shots attempted and made, and personal fouls. He had led the Syracuse Nationals to the NBA title in 1955 and was named to the All-NBA First Team six times and the All-NBA Second Team six times. Here are a few other important facts about the NBA’s greatest Jewish baller, who died at 87 in 2015: 1) Born to Romanian-Jewish immigrants, Schayes grew up in the Bronx and led DeWitt Clinton High School to a borough championship. 2) As a 6-foot-7 16-year-old freshman, he helped lead New York University to the NCAA championship game in 1945. 3) He came close to spending his NBA career as a hometown hero to throngs of Jewish fans at Madison Square Garden. But after drafting Schayes, the New York Knicks (then part of the BAA) were outbid by the Syracuse Nationals of the rival NBL (who had acquired his rights from the Tri-Cities Blackhwaks). The Nationals joined the newly formed NBA — the product of a merger of the BAA and the NBL — a year later. 4) He became the first player in NBA history to hit the 15,000-point mark by scoring 34 points in a 1960 game against the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics (the previous season he torched the Celtics for a career high 50). On a related note: In 1961, he became the first NBA player to register 30,000 career total PRA (a statistic arrived at by THE

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totaling points, rebounds and assists). 5) Many of Schayes’ 15,000 points were scored with a twohanded high-arching set shot that teammates referred to as Sputnik. But Schayes was a versatile player who could also take it to the hoop and is often cited as a precursor to future highly skilled big men like Dirk Nowitzki. 6) That 1955 title came the year the NBA introduced the 24-second shot clock, which — along with the integration of the league — is often seen as the birth of the modern era of basketball. While many basketball players struggled to adjust to the new rules, Schayes adeptly made the leap. 7) The guy could shoot free throws! He led the league in freethrow shooting three times, finishing .849 for his career, and set a record by hitting 18 straight in a game in 1957. According to the NBA 75 write-up, Schayes would practice “on a 14-inch diameter hoop, which was fitted inside an 18-inch regulation hoop.” 8) After breaking his right arm in 1951, he played almost an entire season with a cast. On the bright side: The experience turned him into an even more lethal offensive threat by forcing him to learn to shoot with his left hand. In retrospect, this should come as no surprise… 9) From Feb. 17, 1952, to Dec. 26, 1961, he played in what was then an NBA-record streak of 706

Sports games. 10) When the Nationals moved to Philadelphia and became the 76ers in 1963, he spent one season as the team’s player-coach. After retiring as a player, he stayed on as coach. He was named coach of the year in 1966, after the team broke Boston’s nine-year stranglehold on the Eastern Division crown — but was fired after the 76ers were defeated by the Celtics in the playoffs. (The Sixers would win the title with a new coach the next season.) 11) It turns out drawing and committing all those fouls would come in handy — after his first coaching stint, from 1966-1970, he was the supervisor of NBA referees. 12) He is (we assume) the only member of the NBA 75th anniversary team and the NBA Hall of Fame to also be enshrined in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the US National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the National Jewish American Sports Hall of Fame. Plus in 2015 he was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame. 13) Schayes, who did not have a bar mitzvah, would say he did not grow up with much of a Jewish background. In a 1993 interview with Haaretz, he pointed to his first trip to Israel — in 1977 as coach of the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Maccabiah Games — as a seminal moment. “I grew up as a Jew,” he said of the opening ceremonies. “Every time I come, I grow up even more.” The team won the gold.

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14) His son, Danny Schayes, played in the NBA for 18 years. In the first edition of his “The Book of Basketball,” prominent sports writer and media mogul Bill Simmons dismissed the junior Schayes as one of the “all-time stiffs of the ‘80s.” But in later editions, Simmons retracted the swipe after additional research, saying he felt “terrible” after receiving “a long-handwritten note” from the senior Schayes. 15) Following his basketball days, Schayes went on to become a real estate developer in Syracuse. In an interview in “Jewish Jocks,” an anthology dedicated Jewish sports figures, he quipped: “To put it simply, I own a lot of toilets.”

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Gabe Kapler Wins Top Baseball Manager Award After Historic Season By Jacob Gurvis

Gabe Kapler looks on during a game at Oracle Park in San Francisco. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Gabe Kapler, the Jewish manager of the San Francisco Giants, was named the National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday. In his second year at the helm of the Giants, Kapler guided a team with low expectations entering 2021 to a franchiserecord and league-leading 107 wins in the regular season. San Francisco lost to their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the division series of the playoffs. Kapler’s award is based on the team’s regular sea-

son performance. Kapler earned 28 of 30 first place votes, beating Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Mike Shildt (formerly) of the St. Louis Cardinals. “My goal is obviously to support the players and what their goals are, create an environment that’s helpful for players to grow and develop and for staff members to also grow and develop,” Kapler said after winning the award. The 46-year old Hollywood, California native has a Jewish

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tattoo on each leg: a Jewish star on his left leg and “Never Again” — a reference to the Holocaust — on his right leg. Kapler played for six teams during his 12-year major league career, largely as a role player and backup outfielder. After retiring in 2010, Kapler played and coached for Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In 2014, Kapler joined the Dodgers as the organization’s minor league system director and became a finalist for the team’s managerial opening a year later. In 2018, Kapler was hired to manage the Philadelphia Phillies, but he was fired at the end of the 2019 season. Just a month later, Kapler was hired by the Giants. He quickly resurrected his reputation as an analytically savvy manager who easily connected with players. He spoke about playing video games during quarantine, and became the first MLB manager

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Greg Joseph, The NFL’s Only Jewish Kicker, Talks Game-Winning Field Goals — And His Love For The Jewish Community By Emily Burack

Greg Joseph celebrates with his Minnesota Vikings teammates after kicking a game-winning field goal against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Nov. 21, 2021. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The only Jewish kicker in the NFL for years now, Greg Joseph is used to how mentally taxing the position can be. On Sunday, he found himself in another one of its do-or-die situations. With two seconds left to go in a tied game against the divisionleading Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Joseph kicked his Minnesota Vikings to victory with a 29-yard field goal, keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive. He was carried off the field by his teammates. Joseph, who attended Jewish schools in Florida after immigrating from South Africa, said he deals with the pressure of being a kicker by working on having “confidence and faith in my abilities.” “I know on my worst day, I’m still good enough, and my underlying technique and fundamentals are still good enough,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week. Joseph’s kick Sunday night harkened back to a similar moment three years ago, when he kicked a game-winner for the Cleveland Browns in only his third game as a pro — hours after affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost of his apartment. Since then, the 27-year-old’s career as one of the league’s handful of Jewish players has been a rollercoaster ride, ranging from the lows of being released by multiple teams in a year to the highs of a steady starting role. This season, he is the starting kicker for the Minnesota Vikings, making 84% of field goal attempts so far on a team trying to claw its way to a playoff spot. THE

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Through it all — five teams in three years — he has remained engaged in the local Jewish communities of the cities he has traveled through. In Cleveland, he showed up to a 5-year-old’s birthday party at a Jewish school and put up his mezuzah with the help of a local Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi. Last year on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he joked, “I think we had a league-leading three Jews on one team” — himself, quarterback Josh Rosen and offensive lineman Ali Marpet. “That sense of community, no matter where I’ve been, you have people reach out and offer their support — Shabbat dinners, anything you need, home cooked meals. … Just all because they hear I’m Jewish, which is pretty crazy, because they don’t even know me that well, and I don’t even know them at all,” he told JTA. “I’ve always thought that’s a cool aspect of the community and support system that it brings.”

Joseph with Rabbi Yossi Friedman of the Chabad of Downtown Cleveland in 2018, standing by the mezuzah that Friedman helped Joseph put up outside his apartment. (Glen Joseph)

NFL kicker might not sound like the natural goal for a Jewish kid born in South Africa, on a continent obsessed with the other “football.” His first dream was in fact to go pro in soccer — specifically to play for his beloved Manchester United club, and “follow in David Beckham’s footsteps.” (He wore a Man United jersey to his post-game conference this week.) His family moved from Johannesburg to Boca Raton, Florida, when he was 7 years old. Most of what he remembers of his early childhood in South Africa centers around Sydenham Shul, the congregation his family belonged to and where he attended day school with his two brothers.

“Growing up in South Africa, I remember having a pretty decentsized Jewish community and going to shul every Saturday with my parents,” he said. “My whole upbringing is pretty based around religion and sports, essentially.” But those two worlds rarely overlapped for Joseph in the United States, where he attended the Donna Klein Jewish Academy day school until ninth grade. “When my soccer became more serious and I played travel soccer, I was usually the only Jewish kid out there, or one of two. And same when I started playing football,” he said. The exceptions were the Maccabiah Games, held every four years, known as the “Jewish Olympics.” He played soccer with the Boca Raton delegation, participating in junior Maccabiah games in Baltimore, San Diego and Israel. “I had a good time each and every time, getting to see different parts of the country, and meeting up with so many other Jewish athletes that you end up keeping contact with for years after,” Joseph said. Getting to travel to Israel for his last Maccabiah Games is a cherished memory. “I love Israel, it’s beautiful. To everyone that will listen to me, I tell them they need to go visit at some point. It was an awesome experience,” he says. “At that point it becomes bigger than the sport — it’s about connection and discovery and learning, and making lifelong relationships with people the same religion” as you. He switched to American football extremely late in the game — during his senior year at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Florida.

“I got tired of running,” he joked. The real story, he said, was a more pragmatic. “I realized that in this country there’s more of an opportunity to get a scholarship and go professional in American football as opposed to soccer,” he said. “I looked at both options, it was at that time where kicking was new to me — it was exciting and something I wanted to pursue.” After attending Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on a football scholarship, Joseph was not selected in the 2018 NFL Draft but was signed as a free agent by the Miami Dolphins — then was released at the start of the season. The Cleveland Browns quickly signed him, and he made his first game-winning field goal in the fifth week of the season. Throughout the season, his NFL debut, he made 17 of his 20 field goal attempts, and 25 of 29 extra points.

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2022 Grammy Awards: The Jewish Nominees, From Doja Cat To Drake To An Israeli Cellist By Shira Hanau

Doja Cat performs at the Austin City Limits Festival, Oct. 9, 2021. (Jim Bennett/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Some of the music industry’s most popular Jewish artists were included in the 2022 Grammy Award nominations unveiled on Tuesday. Here’s a roundup: Doja Cat, a Black and Jewish pop star-rapper hybrid who has become one of the most listened-to artists in the world — Spotify lists her as the 7th-most-streamed musician on its platform as of Wednesday morning — racked up nominations in in seven categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, Melodic Rap Performance and Rap Song. She has a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish South African father. Jewish day school grad Jack Antonoff, who wore a Star of David necklace to the MTV Music Awards in 2017, has become one of the most in-demand pop producers in the industry. He was nominated for Non-Classical Producer of the Year for his work in the past year with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Ray, Lorde and others. Canadian Jewish rapper Drake, winner of four past Grammys (in

addition to a record-breaking 29 Billboard Music Awards), was nominated for Best Rap Performance for his hit “Way 2 Sexy” and Best Rap Album of the year for his latest LP, “Certified Lover Boy.” Despite having once participated in a mock re-staging of his bar mitzvah on “Saturday Night Live,” he has been guarded in recent years in talking about his Jewish identity. Stephen Schwartz, the legendary musical theater writer, was nominated for Best Musical Theater Album for “Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots,” a scrapbook musical including songs from a range of his musicals, including “Wicked,” “Pippin” and “Godspell.” Aaron Dessner, part of the indie rock band The National, was included in Taylor Swift’s nomination in the Album of the Year category for the album “Evermore,” which he helped write, along with Antonoff. (The pair did the same with Swift’s “Folklore” album last year.) Dessner’s brother Bryce, who is also in The National and was also included in the nomination for helping in the recording process, wrote a classical music piece in 2013 partially inspired by their Jewish grandmother’s heritage and immigration to the United State. Israeli cellist Matt Haimovitz was co-nominated for his work on an album up for Best Classical Solo Voice Album. He was also nominated last year in the classical compendium category. The awards ceremony will take place Jan. 31 in Los Angeles.ì

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brought Israeli-made ventilators to hospitals in India overburdened with COVID-19 patients, and provided homecare for more than 80,000 elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union — many of them surviving on pensions as low as $2 per day. Buzunov said he “became a Jew” totally by surprise. Seven years ago, when he was a teenager and a self-described introvert, Buzunov’s best friend invited him to go roller skating, where they met up with a large group of Jews Buzunov did not know. It was Purim, and the group went around Kyiv giving out hamentashen to poor Jews. By the time they got to the roller-skating venue at the end of the day, Buzunov felt like he’d fallen in love with the Jewish people. Filled with enthusiasm, Buzunov eagerly shared his feelings with his elderly grandmother. “She looked at me proudly and told me, ‘We are Jewish,’” Buzunov said, recalling how she revealed that his great-grandparents had been Jews but had kept it secret to avoid suffering discrimination under Soviet rule. “I had no idea. Even my parents had no idea. At that moment, I realized what I had been missing my whole life, and I understood what I wanted to do.” In November 2019, after years of study and involvement in Jewish communal life, Buzunov formally converted to Judaism, celebrated his bar mitzvah and took the Hebrew name Eliyahu. From another part of the world, Sarah Tagger, 27, will be showcasing a different Jewish community on night two of the series. A native of Canada who generally lives in California, Tagger will be giving audiences a look at Jewish Morocco, where she is spending a few weeks as part of JDC’s yearlong Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship in Global Jewish Leadership through JDC’s Entwine platform. During the year, Tagger is traveling from place to place helping develop programs to assist far-flung Jewish communities.

California native Sarah Tagger is spending this year assisting in farflung Jewish communities including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Morocco as part of JDC’s yearlong Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship in Global Jewish Leadership through JDC’s Entwine platform. (Reva Gorelick) So far, Tagger has been to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and the Moroccan cities of Casablanca, Tangier and Marrakesh. “Here in Morocco, JDC supports the local community with everything from elderly welfare to children’s education,” said Tagger, who wrote a master’s thesis on the potential of tourism to mitigate political conflict in the Middle East. “We’ve even helped families who were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with emergency humanitarian assistance.” Tagger’s next destination is Warsaw. “All of this makes me so proud, and what better time to reflect on it than Hanukkah — a celebration of coming together, of light, of miracles — and what greater miracle than to be here in Morocco with this incredible community, learning all about its heritage and spending time together.” Ariel Zwang, JDC’s chief executive, called the Hanukkah story “one of resilience, tenacity and Jewish connection” — a reflection of the diverse communities JDC helps every day worldwide. “JDC proudly works with Jews in dozens of countries to strengthen Jewish life, engage with Jewish tradition and build Jewish identity,” she said. “By connecting in global celebration, we’ll be inspired by these modern miracles and ensure that the flame of Jewish life continues to burn bright.” This story was sponsored by and produced in partnership with JDC, the world's leading global Jewish humanitarian organization. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.ì

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JEWISH LIGHT

Meet The Jewish Founder Of The World’s Only Bobblehead Museum, And His Hanukkah Bobbles By Jacob Gurvis

Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee. (Courtesy of the Bobblehead Museum)

(JTA) — A crochet museum in Joshua Tree, California features countless crochet animals that appear in airport ads worldwide. The National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin was founded by a Jewish condiment aficionado. In February 2019, another niche museum opened around 90 miles east of the mustard mecca: the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Milwaukee. Co-founded by Phil Sklar, a Jewish Illinois native, and his friend Brad Novak, the institution is the world’s only museum dedicated to bobbleheads. Its collection holds 7,000 unique bobbleheads, including some manufactured by Sklar and Novak. Bobbleheads date back to the late 1700s, Sklar explained in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A famous painting of Queen Charlotte — a replica of which hangs in the bobblehead museum — shows two figurines behind the monarch, with heads that bobble. Fast forward to 2021, when the museum has unveiled its first-ever Hanukkah items: a Bobble Menorah that features nine bobbling “flames” (sans real fire, of course) and comes in three color patterns, and a Bobble Dreidel on a geltshaped base. “Having the candles with the flame bobbling and the dreidel on a spring, we thought was pretty unique,” said Sklar. “It was something that was tasteful and that people would enjoy displaying on Hanukkah, or with their Judaica collection.” We spoke to Sklar about how a unique collection turned into a oneof-a-kind museum, how he uses bobbleheads for a good cause and, of course, which famous Jews have their own bobbleheads. This interview has been edited THE

JEWISH LIGHT

and condensed. and spam, and a bunch of other JTA: With any collection like random things. So we started to this, the first question has to be: do market research on the museHow did you get into bobble- um side, and in November 2014 heads? was when we announced the idea Sklar: My dad collected baseball for the museum. cards, and he got me into collecting Tell me about the collection. when I was growing up. Brad was How many bobbleheads do you working for a minor league base- have now, and what are some of ball team in the early 2000s, and the highlights? they gave away a bobblehead for We have 7,000 unique bobblethe first time in 2003. We decided heads on display in the museum. the bobblehead was sort of cool, The collection itself is now numand the [Milwaukee] Brewers and bering in the 10,000-11,000 range. Bucks and local soccer and hockey We’re getting in new bobbleheads teams were giving out bobbleheads. pretty much daily. There are teams So we started to circle the bobble- sending them in, organizations, head dates on the calendar, since people across the country. It’s really we were already going to several everything from sports to pop culgames a year anyway as big sports ture, politics, music, movies, TV, fans. The collection sort of grew comics. Really anything and everyfrom that. thing that can be turned into a bobHow did this interest turn into blehead, including the menorah and the world’s only bobblehead the dreidel. museum? PLEASE CHECK YOUR PLEASE CHECK YOUR The collection grewAD out of travCAREFULLY FOR AD CAREFULLY eling. We went on a journey to try FOR SPELLING GRAMMAR, to go to all the Major League& SPELLING &BaseGRAMMAR, AS AS WELL AS ACCURACY OF ADball stadiums, andWELL as we traveled OF ADAS ACCURACY we’d go to different museums inNUMBERS & DRESSES, PHONE DRESSES, PHONE local places. Several times we’dNUMBERS & OTHER VITAL INFORMATION. OTHER VITAL INFORMATION. either go to the stores in the area of The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. (Courtesy of the the stadium, or antiqueYour malls, and ad will run Bobblehead Museum) Your ad will run just pick up some bobbleheads from AS-IS the area to bring back. AS-IS unless unless changes changes Do you have a personal favormade Before we knew it,are we were are made and andite bobblehead? doing some buying,approved trading and The one of [our friend] Michael with approved with your your selling on eBay, in our free time. is sort of the one that sparked the Account Executive by Executive by idea for the museum, so Then in 2013 we setAccount out to produce whole a bobblehead for the first time, of a that’s my sentimental favorite. He’s friend of ours who was a manager also Jewish. We didn’t meet because for the University of Wisconsin- of being Jewish, we just saw him Milwaukee sports teams, and also a around campus when we started Special Olympian. We thought it going to school and got to know would be a cool way to honor him. him. Then we got to know his famDuring that process we realized ily, and found out we went to the there was a need in the market, an same congregation. After this this deadline, deadline, opportunity to produceAfter bobbleheads What has the reception been to the only — people or things that theotherwise only changes changes the museum? How did the panhaven’t had bobbleheads thatproduced may be made demic impact your work? — and market them. that may be made We’ve been blown away by the are are to to correct correct At the time, our collection was reception. We’ve had visitors from PUBLISHER’S numbering in the 3,000 range. ERRORS. I all 50 states and I think 25 different PUBLISHER’S ERRORS. don’t even know how we got that countries. This low-resolution many. We were running of This isis aaout low-resolution We opened on February 1, 2019, proof of your room for them. It’s a PDF lot easier to and then closed for about 14-and-aPDF proof of your store 3,000 baseball cards — you half months in March 2020 because advertisement advertisement can get one box and store them. of the pandemic. Luckily we were (may not be to actual size) .. (may nottake be true true size)to But 3,000 bobbleheads uptoaactual able produce a ton of bobbleItIt isis property lot more room. We started brain- of property of during that time. In the beginheads storming, and Renaissance realized, hey, Publishing ning of April was the first Dr. Renaissance Publishing there’s no museum in the world [Anthony] Fauci bobblehead. That (or the original creator) and (or the original creator) and dedicated to bobbleheads. There’s one became our best-selling bobcannot be museums dedicated to cannot mustardbe

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blehead within like a week. Now we’ve raised over $300,000 for Protect the Heroes, which is administered by the American Hospital Association to get resources to first responders. So we were able to keep busy, keep everybody employed that works for us, and also do something for a good cause during the pandemic. With some unique collections, there can be subcultures that develop within particular groups — the cult-like popularity of the band Phish among Jews comes to mind. Is there any bobblehead subculture that you’ve seen? There definitely are various bobblehead subcultures. There’s definitely people out there who collect Jewish figures and bobbleheads. Or usually it’s their favorite team or player. There are definitely Grateful Dead [bobbleheads] — quite a few different bobbleheads, and people try to collect all of them. There are See BOBBLEHEAD on Page

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people who are political, they want all the presidential- or historicalrelated. The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle did a story, and we sent them pictures of the different Jews that have been depicted in bobbleheads. Sandy Koufax, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a member of KISS, a wide variety of people. It’s sort of fun to see, there’s more [Jews] than we had anticipated when we were going through the list. How do you decide who to make? Every day we’re coming up with new ideas. Staying in tune with the

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news, social media and trending topics is definitely helpful. But then we have a long list of general ideas. Like, there hasn’t been a turkey bobblehead in a long time, and we have a series of bobbleheads where holiday characters are sitting on a shelf So we have a turkey on a shelf coming out for Thanksgiving. Things like that, we’ll identify sometimes years in advance. A lot of them take some time to come to fruition. But it’s more, what do we think people will enjoy or buy? And we go from there. How did you decide to create the Hanukkah bobbles? What is your goal with the products? It was probably around this time last year, sort of close to Hanukkah,

and we were thinking, there hasn’t really been anything Hanukkahrelated when it comes to bobbleheads. And I mentioned to my aunt who lives in Omaha, she works at the [Jewish Community Center] in childcare there, and she really liked the idea and mentioned it to a few other family members and they thought it was pretty cool. So we had a rendering made, and we went through some different iterations of the design, and thought, yeah, this would be pretty cool. You go to Target or different stores, and you see a little small display of Hanukkah-related merchandise and then aisles of Christmas stuff. We could definitely help increase that assortment. They’re

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not going to be at Target or Walmart this year, but it could be something that in future years could be added to that assortment for a broader audience to see and to purchase.

A rendering of the Bobblehead Museum’s Menorah and Dreidel Bobbles. (Courtesy of the Bobblehead Museum)

Are there any other Jewish holidays that you think would be particularly conducive for a bobble? Yeah, I think my aunt actually sent a list. There were some characters like Judah Maccabee. We could do Purim. We’re sort of waiting to see how the Hanukkah bobbleheads go. There’s also some other fun things that we could turn into bobbles. A bobble hamantaschen just came to mind. But I don’t know, it might get people to try to eat it or something. We’ll put a warning on the package. A lot of your products and launches are connected to charities. Why is it important to you to use the bobbleheads to support these causes? Does your Jewish identity have any impact on that? I think it probably does have something to do with my upbringing. Being taught to give back, and taught about tzedakah [charity]. And we’ve seen other bobblehead companies start to do the same thing, and they hadn’t done it in the past, so I think we’ve actually inspired other people. We’re not doing it to boost the sales, but we’ve seen that when it has that good cause, it can definitely help boost the sales and boost the excitement around it as well. But we’re really doing it to give back to causes and to get people engaged. Is the Hanukkah launch connected to a charity? We haven’t connected this one to anything as of yet, but we’ve done things after the fact as well Bernie Sanders, we did the inauguration bobblehead with his mittens, and we didn’t realize it was going to take off like crazy We ended up making a five-figure donation to Meals on Wheels Vermont, which is the cause that he donated to from the proceeds of the mittens. There’s a good chance we’ll do something after the fact. THE

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Entertainment

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Lizzy Caplan And Jesse Eisenberg To Play Jewish Leads In ‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ TV Adaptation By Philissa Cramer

Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Eisenberg, the Jewish stars of "Fleishman Is in Trouble." (Getty Images)

(JTA) — Jewish actors Jesse Eisenberg and Lizzy Caplan will play lead roles in the TV adaptation of “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” the 2019 novel by Taffy BrodesserAkner about a Jewish man’s middle-age crisis. Eisenberg will play the title character, Toby Fleishman, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Thursday. Earlier this week, Caplan was announced as the actress who will play Fleishman’s best friend, a journalist named Libby Epstein who narrates the novel and bears some biographical resemblance to

Brodesser-Akner. (“Not that Libby was based on me!” the author tweeted while celebrating the selection.) The two characters met while studying abroad in Israel. The casting comes amid a renewed debate over whether only Jewish actors should play Jewish characters on screen. The announcement of Kathryn Hahn as the choice to play Joan Rivers in a biopic — which is no longer getting made, due to objections by Rivers’ family — set off a recent spike in conversation on the topic. Comedian Sarah Silverman has had strong thoughts on the topic, dubbed the “Jewface” debate by some, in interviews. “Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug. Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan,” Silverman fumed in a September episode of her podcast. “And on and on and on. Rachel McAdams in ‘Disobedience.’ It really is endless, and none of these

actresses are doing anything wrong. But collectively, it’s f—ed up.” Eisenberg, 39, was raised in a secular Jewish family in New Jersey and has previously portrayed Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Jewish founder, in “The Social Network.” He is 5-foot-7 — the same height as Zuckerberg and believable for Fleishman, whose diminutive stature is a focus in the book. Caplan, also 39, made her debut as Sara, the girlfriend of Jason Segel‘s character, on the cult TV hit “Freaks and Geeks” more than 20 years ago. Since then, the actress, who grew up in a Reform Jewish home in Los Angeles and went to Jewish summer camp, has starred in a range of roles and will replace Glenn Close in a forthcoming remake of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Whoever was chosen for the lead roles, there is no question that the series, which is in production now

and will air on FX and Hulu, will lean heavily into its character’s Jewish identities. “This is a book about a Jew in New York,” Brodesser-Akner told Kveller in 2019. “I like the idea of not explaining what a Friday night dinner is — just having a Friday night dinner. I like the idea of everyone going only to the school where they’re going to meet other Jews like them. There’s still this huge culture around Jewishness, and I’m very comfortable in it.”

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Meet The Jews Of The Grand Canyon And Rural Arizona, Where Jewish Life Takes Dedication By Shira Hanau 200 miles northwest of Phoenix. Even though the synagogue is small, he hasn’t looked back since. “When my wife and I first moved out here, you would turn a street corner and really be tempted to just pull over to the side of the road and stare; Rabbi Nina Perlmutter officiates a it looks like a picture postcard,” he wedding overlooking the Grand Canyon said. “And you go three blocks, and in 2017. (Tom Brodersen) it’s another picture postcard.” (Jewish News of Greater Phoenix He and his wife are two of Lake via JTA) — Stan Coffield and his Havasu’s nearly 60,000 residents, wife were pretty open-minded when according to the U.S. Census deciding where they would retire. Bureau, and part of the roughly 30 “I wanted someplace that was members of the area’s only synalower cost of living [than New gogue, Temple Beth Sholom. York] — warm, dry, near a body of “Given that we’re the only conwater that I could water-ski on, and gregation and synagogue within all had some manner of Jewish pres- of Mohave County, we have the full ence,” Coffield said. gamut [of members],” he said. In 2010, they moved into their “We’ve got people in Havasu, God house in Lake Havasu City, about bless them, who manage to be Orthodox and keep kosher, all the way out to the fringes of Reform.” Jewish life takes a different shape in rural areas than it does in the city — and often requires great dedication. In some places, that means the congregants have to learn how to lead services since they can only afford to bring a rabbi in periodically. For some, that means driving hours from a remote area to attend a tiny synagogue in another small town. And in nearly every commuHappy Chanukah to all nity, a rural Jewish life is one in of my Jewish friends! which your synagogue is like a family for better or for worse, and like any family, you only get one. Sincerely, Coffield has been president of the congregation for about six years and does his best to provide regular serSharon Weston Broome vices and Torah study and to grow Mayor-President the congregation. A rabbi travels to Lake Havasu from Los Angeles about once a month to run a Shabbat service on Friday and a LICENSED I N L O U I S I A N A Torah study on Saturday. The 504-488-8600 congregation Realtor 504-236-8478 tries to coordinate his travel HERE with Jewish miguel@burkbrokerage.com holidays. TO HELP The synagogue strives to have a schedule posted three months in B U R K B R O K E R AG E .C O M advance to 6260 Vicksburg St., Ste A, New Orleans, LA 70124 ensure mem-

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bers, some of whom drive nearly two hours to get there, have ample time to plan. “We get congregants from Laughlin, Bullhead City, Blythe, California, Needles — I mean, we’re it,” Coffield said. Being the only Jewish institution for miles can mean Coffield becomes the person people call on to attend end of life matters. Lake Havasu is “almost exclusively retirees and service personnel,” Coffield said. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age in the city is 54.2. As president of the congregation, he gets “sorrowful phone calls” from people he’s never seen at the synagogue but who are suddenly in need spiritual support. Coffield does his best to accommodate those requests, “but it’s just hard from so many different perspectives.” Yuma, about 200 miles Southwest of Phoenix, also has a small but dedicated Jewish community. With a population of nearly 100,000 people, the city’s only synagogue has about 20 family units. “Those range from people that are single, to couples, to people who have kids,” said Leone Neegan, president of Congregation Beth Hamidbar. The synagogue, whose name means “house of the desert,” meets in a space rented from a church. “I am not sure that anyone for whom their Jewish religion is the most important part of their life would move to a place with so few Jewish institutions,” she said. “We don’t know how many, but there are Jews here who don’t belong to the congregation, who just aren’t religious at all.” For the past seven years, a rabbi has driven from Orange County in California to Yuma to lead High Holiday services. “The rest of the time, he gave us a class in doing lay-led services, so we take turns leading Shabbat services, and we pool our knowledge,” Neegan said. Members meet for services twice a month most of the year — in the summer, that’s halved. Some of the congregants also meet in a weekly Torah study group. Neegan was born and raised in Phoenix but moved to Yuma in 1975 after graduating from the University of Arizona when a friend told her

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about a job at the local library that had opened up. At the time, she didn’t think she’d stay in Yuma long. “I couldn’t imagine anyone living here. It was just, to me, a very small, dusty town,” she said. For a few months, she thought she was the only Jew in town. But one day, she saw an article in the local newspaper about High Holiday services. “I went to services, and found that there was a small Jewish community here, and the people were very welcoming,” she said. At the time, the congregation wasn’t affiliated with any branch of Judaism, since the people who attended had a variety of Jewish backgrounds and observance. Eventually it affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. Neegan never expected to become as involved in her congregation as she did. “If I had remained in either Phoenix or Tucson, or some other large city with a larger population, I might not have become as involved with either the religion or the congregation as I ended up being,” she said. Neegan’s fellow congregants have become “a giant, extended family,” she said. “It’s like being on an island with people. If you get angry, there isn’t another synagogue to go to. You have to work it out somehow.” Rabbi Nina Perlmutter, rabbi emerita of Congregation Lev Shalom in Flagstaff, said she’s often found that the further a Jewish person lives from an established Jewish community, the more dedicated they are to building Jewish community Many Jews who live in the Grand Canyon, where Perlmutter often officiates at lifecycle events, or other rural areas of Arizona moved for the beauty of the landscape, she said. For most of them, Jewish life wasn’t necessarily a priority and isn’t easily supported by the Jewish infrastructure of the area. “But then they often find that they miss having Jewish connections,” she said. “I know people who have commuted a long time, like the Grand Canyon folks, to Flagstaff. That’s not easy. You gotta really want to do it.” A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix and is republished with permission.ì THE

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Sheet-Pan Dinner Recipe: Za’atar Chicken With Cauliflower And Chickpeas

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(food)

By Shannon Sarna

Savory Za’atar Challah

I get pretty skeptical about (some) food trends. I balk at quinoa. I loathe smoothie bowls. Please don’t try to tell me how awesome chia seed pudding is, because I promise, it’s not as good as chocolate pudding. And don’t even get me started on the gluten-free craze. So you can maybe understand my skepticism over the latest internet enthusiasm for “sheet pan” dinners. Because, come on – is throwing dinner on one sheet pan really that great?? Well, the answer is a resounding: yes, yes, it is. Which I guess also means I have to admit I was wrong about something. Just don’t tell my husband.

This sheet pan dinner was incredibly delicious and easy, and is equally awesome for a weeknight dinner or Shabbat. I will admit that I thought to myself: wow, dinner is totally done! Now, what should I do? (Pour myself a glass of wine of course). So, go ahead – get excited about the convenience and awesomeness of a sheet pan dinner, and try adding your own favorite flavors and veggie combinations. For those wondering, za’atar is a wonderful Middle Eastern spice blend used widely in Israel. I have bought mine in Israel, at supermarkets like Fairway and even online. You can also try making your own.

Sheet Pan Za’atar Chicken with Cauliflower and Chickpeas Ingredients • 1 whole chicken (note: you can also use a cut-up chicken) • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets

• 1 lemon, cut into slices • 4 garlic cloves, left whole with skin on • 2 1/2 Tbsp za’atar • salt and pepper • pinch red pepper flakes (optional) • olive oil • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions

• Preheat oven to 425 degrees. • Cut whole chicken down the middle of breasts and flatten slightly. Place on top of foil lined sheet pan. • Cover chicken with 1 1/2 Tbsp za’atar, making sure to cover skin, under skin and the underneath side. Places 2-3 slices of lemon underneath chicken skin. If you don’t feel comfortable placing lemon inside the chicken skin, just place on top. Place remaining lemon and 1 garlic clove underneath chicken. • Spread cauliflower all over the sheet pan and top with remain-

ing 1 Tbsp za’atar and garlic cloves. Drizzle the chicken and cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss/rub to coat completely. • Roast in pre-heated oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and turn cauliflower, which will have shrunk in size slightly. Move cauliflower over to make room for chickpeas. • Spread chickpeas on pan and drizzle with a touch more olive oil, and pinch of salt and red pepper flakes if desired. • Place back into oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is crispy and golden and the cauliflower is caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.ì

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A Jewish Doctor Loves The Beatles So Much He Created America’s Only Museum Devoted To Them By Bruce Lowitt

A portion of the exhibits at the Penny Lane museum and Bobby Entel, founder of the museum. (Barstad Communications via Jewish Press of Pinellas County)

(Jewish Press of Pinellas County via JTA) — Bobby Entel didn’t watch The Beatles’ Feb. 9, 1964 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He was seven years old at the time and in bed. Nor did he ever see them in person, visit their hometown of Liverpool, or cross Abbey Road. But he’s more than made up for that. When he’s not working as a radiologist in Dunedin, Florida, he can often be found at Penny Lane, the free museum he opened in 2018 that features his extensive collection of Beatles memorabilia.

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That’s where he goes to escape the realities of life. “This is my happy spot, my relief area,” Entel said, seated in a nook at Penny Lane while “Something” from the Abbey Road album played softly in the background and a pair of nearby tourists studied a guitar signed by Paul McCartney. “It’s a very fulfilling hobby and a labor of love.” There are several museums dedicated to The Beatles in England and one in Holland. But except for a floor dedicated to them at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Entel believes his is the only permanent Beatles exhibit in the United States. “In the years we’ve been open, nobody’s ever come in and said, ‘You should see the one in New York or Wyoming.’” England is where Entel’s fascination with The Beatles began in earnest. “My interest in them evolved

from just liking their music to being intrigued with their cultural influence, the impact they had on politics, on hair styles, on clothing and on the music world,” he said. “It happened for me over a period of time…and I didn’t start collecting anything until I was in my 20s and spending a few months as a medical student in London.” Entel bought his first Beatles memorabilia at the Portobello Road Market in London and brought them home to Florida, where he started going to flea markets and antique stores in the Tampa Bay area where he usually found lower-end items – buttons, pins, records. “I’d also meet people who’d say, ‘I know a dude who’s got a bunch of Beatles stuff he wants to move out. Want his number?’ And I’d say, ‘Sure,’ and I’d offer maybe a hundred bucks for a whole care package of junk that maybe had a few good items.” By the time Entel was in his 30s, his Beatles collection had outgrown the closet space he had allotted to it. He started decorating his walls and buying more expensive and rare items from online auction houses like Heritage and Sotheby’s, not to mention eBay. “I went from pins and buttons and posters to signed guitars and their clothing. I also have pieces of their hair,” Entel said. At first when friends suggested he open a museum, he dismissed the idea. “I’d tell them, ‘I’m a doctor. What do I know about a museum?’” But he knew George Ann Bissett, then the director of the Dunedin Fine Art Center and now its president and CEO, and her husband Colin, a native of Liverpool who “really had a sense of the Beatles’ early days,” Entel said. Colin Bissett is now the curator of Penny Lane and a museum guide. “I went to school with Rory Best, Pete Best’s brother and we used to go see them,” Bissett said. Pete Best was the Beatles’ drummer for two years before being replaced by Ringo Starr on Aug. 19, 1962. Bissett added: “They were noth-

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ing like they turned out to be. They were just local guys.” With just 600 square feet for its exhibition space, the museum holds about 1,000 items, only about a quarter of Entel’s collection, and receives about a thousand visitors per month. “I have stuff at home that I can’t display here because it’s a small place. I have Ringo Starr’s drum set that he played on a Super Bowl commercial. I have Beatles pinball machines, Beatles juke boxes, a couple of Beatles slot machines from Las Vegas.” Not to mention Beatles puppets and marionettes, gold and platinum records, posters, lunchboxes, toys, a serape worn by Ringo, and John Lennon’s electric razor and the TWA bag he put it in when he traveled. Now Entel is looking for a larger space, “maybe a place where we could show films. Maybe a kitchen, a space for a band.” He said he’s been contacted by potential sites in St. Petersburg, Florida and Washington, D.C. “But I want to stay in Dunedin. It’s where I grew up and downtown is charming.” And Entel likes the way the museum inspires visitors to share their own recollections of The Beatles and their music’s impact on their lives. “There are times I’ll see something I’ve looked at a hundred times and I’ll think, ‘Wow, I didn’t even notice I had that.’ It’s a visual overload but I kind of want it to be that way,” Entel said. “What I love the most is the people who come in and tell their stories, their memories.” A version of this story was originally published in the Jewish Press of Pinellas County.ì

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My Fellow Progressives Are Always Asking Me If AntiZionism Is Antisemitic. Here’s What I Tell Them. By Oren Jacobson

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency illustration)

(JTA) — I’ve spent most of the last decade focused on grassroots organizing and capacity building inside the American progressive movement. From helping build the largest leadership development organization on the left, to launching a first-of-its-kind organization to mobilize male allies into the fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom, I’ve proudly helped elect progressive change makers and pass landmark legislation. I’ve done all of that as a Jew who wears a kippah in public, as someone who, statistically speaking, shouldn’t exist. My grandfather is one of the 10% of Polish-born Jews to survive World War II. Three million of his Jewish neighbors, and another 3 million across Europe, were packed into

boxcars and sent to the slaughter, to gas chambers, to the ovens. What I am is central to who I am. So when I saw the statement from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Sunrise Movement explaining its refusal to march in a voting rights rally with Jewish groups because they are “Zionists”, I understood immediately that it was deeply problematic. Not only did the decision have the potential impact of spreading anti-Jewish bigotry, but it also weakened our movement more broadly at a time when democracy, which is necessary to ensure civil rights, is under assault in America. I also understood right away that, for many people, the anti-Jewish nature of the statement wasn’t so obvious. When moments like this arise, I get texts and calls from progressive peers across the country who ask: “Is this antisemitic?” To answer the question, I begin by explaining what it means to be a Jew. Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. But Jewish identity

is so much bigger and more diverse than religion. Some of us are deeply religious. Some of us are totally secular. All of us are Jews. We’re a people, not simply a religious community. Contrary to what most think, antisemitism is not anti-Judaism in its modern form (several hundred years). It’s anti-Jew. It’s not about how Jews pray, but rather about who they are and what they are accused of doing. Jews get attacked for supposedly controlling the world (governments, banks, media), for being disloyal to our home countries, for killing Jesus, for making up the Holocaust, for being greedy, for undermining the white race and subverting people of color (among other things). We’ve been blamed for plagues, famine, economic hardship and war. Whatever major problem a society has, Jews have been blamed for it. None of those things has anything to do with religion. Criticism of Israel or opposition to it isn’t necessarily antisemitic. Harsh criticism of Israeli govern-

ment policy may make us uncomfortable but isn’t antisemitic. But the Sunrise DC statement wasn’t about policy. By attacking “Zionist organizations” in a voting rights coalition, and saying that they can’t participate in in a coalition that includes them, Sunrise DC basically said it won’t work alongside Jewish organizations (or Jews) that believe the state of Israel has the right to exist. For the average Jew, Zionism has become simply the idea that Israel has the right to exist, rather than an embrace of the policies of its government. The Zionist movement got its name in the late 19th century, but it really put a label on a 2,000-year-old yearning to return to the native land Jews were violently forced out of (in an act of colonization). That yearning grew over time as we failed to find sustained peace and security elsewhere, including in Europe, North Africa and the broader Middle East. See ANTI-ZIONISM on Page

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That’s why when people attack Zionists, we hear “Jews.” We hear them saying that the 80-90% of Jews who believe Israel has a right to exist are unacceptable, and that Israel, a country that came into existence with the vote of the international community and today is home to 7 million Jews, must be ended. Why is that antisemitism? First, it singles out Jews when most people believe Israel has the right to exist. (In fact, 85% of the general public in America believes the statement “Israel does not have a right to exist” is antisemitic, according to a survey released this week.) Second, it seeks to deny Jewish people the right to self-determination by erasing our peoplehood and connection to the land. Third, it declares that a national movement for Jews is uniquely unacceptable, while at the same time advocating in support of another national movement. Fourth, it divides Jews into good and bad. Only those who oppose their own national movement can stay. Only Jews who reject Zionism are allowed. Replace “Jew” with any other group and ask if that would be acceptable. Even if you forswear coalitions with anyone, Jewish or not, who thinks Israel is legitimate, that still denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. It says that Jews must be a perpetual minority on this earth subject to the whims and bigotries of the societies they live in. For thousands of years Jews tried that and failed to find permanent refuge — which, fairly or not, is part of the reason most Jews believe in the right to, and need for, national self-determination in some portion of a contested land. Sunrise DC wasn’t interested in the nature of their shunned Jewish allies’ support for Israel — even though each of the three groups, like most Jews in America, have advocated for a Palestinian state and for an end to policies by the government of Israel that harm the Palestinian people, including, but not limited to, the occupation of the West Bank. Ultimately, only Jews get to define who and what we are and what antisemitism is. Too often in progressive spaces that right is denied to Jews. Instead, to justify their own positions, some rely on Jews whose voices, while relevant, are far from representative on the

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question of what constitutes antisemitism. If someone ignored the voices and lived realities of 80-90% of any other minority group, most progressives would quickly recognize that as an act of tokenization to shield biases (or worse). Some who identify as progressive feel it’s OK to use the word “Zionist” to attack others, claiming that the word is not about Jews. I encourage everyone to go on far right-wing message boards on occasion. Once there, you’ll see how white supremacists typically call Jews Zionists. The prominence of the word, in connection with claims that they control the governments and are trying to replace white “patriots” with Black and Brown “interlopers,” will stun you. While there is plenty of room for criticism of Israeli government policy, there should be no room for the exclusionary, reductionist and dehumanizing language of white nationalists in progressive discourse on the topic, or the denial of the right for Jewish self-determination on this earth. I believe in standing up for those who are attacked for the crime of being who they are as much as I believe in standing up for Jewish life. For me, this work is personal. Not because every issue affects me directly. But because I feel like I owe it to my grandfather. To Jews who were murdered and never had a chance to live. To my peers here who face systemic racism and bigotry. And yes, because I believe “Never Again” isn’t just a slogan to hope for, but rather a mission to fight for. Oren Jacobson is the cofounder of Project Shema, which helps Jewish students, leaders, organizations and allies explore the difficult conversations surrounding Israel and antisemitism. Previously, Oren served as national chapter development director for the New Leaders Council, growing NLC into the largest social justice-focused leadership development organization in America. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, a master's in Economics and Policy Analysis from DePaul University and an MBA from Regis University. 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.ì THE

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Congressional Jewish Republicans Lead Efforts To Head Off Reopening Of US Consulate In Jerusalem By Ron Kampeas

Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., participates in the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress, Feb. 2, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The two Jewish Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are leading the effort to keep the Biden administration from reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. David Kustoff of Tennessee on Wednesday introduced a bill that FESTIVAL Continued from Page

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“For budget reasons, we had planned to make this conference once every two years, but then the situation with the coronavirus changed our plans,” Galitskaya

would block the Biden administration from reopening the consulate, Jewish Insider reported. His bill has the backing of the GOP leadership and about 100 cosponsors. His fellow Tennessean, Sen. Bill Hagerty, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Among the cosponsors of the House bill is Lee Zeldin, a Jewish Republican from Long Island who is running for governor of New York, and who has garnered 206 signatures, all from Republicans, on a letter to President Joe Biden opposing the move. Former President Donald Trump shut down the mission, which was located just outside the Old City walls in West Jerusalem since 1912,

and merged its activities with the newly relocated U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. In recent decades it served Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, who considered the consolidation an endorsement of Israel’s claims on Jerusalem. The Republican bill says that opening a separate consulate meant to serve Palestinians undermines Israel’s claim on Jerusalem as its capital. Reopening the consulate now, especially if it is in the building used in recent years in western Jerusalem, territory that the United States recognizes as sovereign Israel, would require the assent of the Israeli government. Biden campaigned on reopening the consulate, believing it key to

restoring U.S. relations with the Palestinians, all but smothered during the Trump years. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett opposes the reopening but is also seeking to repair ties between Israel and Democrats, who chafed during the 12 years of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership. The sides are quietly seeking solutions behind closed doors. Republicans are in the minority in the House and Senate, but that does not necessarily doom the bill: At least two HouseDemocrats, Juan Vargas of California and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, have expressed reservations about the move.ì

said. Even so, said Galitskaya, the conference attracted more Jews this time around from outside Kazan itself — especially the cities of Izhevsk, Perm, Penza, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Chely-

abinsk and Samara. “We were hoping to become a regional conference, and now we are.” The Oct. 8-10 gathering in Kazan included a separate program for 70 children aged 3-13 in three age groups. It overlapped with another Limmud FSU convention in Lviv, Ukraine the same weekend that attracted a similar number of participants ranging from Orthodox to secular. Children participate in a kids’ program at Limmud FSU VolgaUrals, October 2021. (Anna Ryasenskaya) “Religious people are interested in coming as long as we have kosher food and Shabbat services,” observed Galitskaya. “But there’s also an informal atmosphere at Limmud. Many Russians know they’re Jewish but have no connection to the community other than Limmud. They don’t feel comfortable in synagogue and they don’t participate in community events, but they want to have something Jewish — and Limmud is this path to their Jewishness.” Since the first conference in Moscow 15 years ago, over 75 events have been organized by 13 volunteer teams, and over 75,000 Russian-speaking Jews across the globe have been reached by Limmud FSU events led by chairman Matthew Bronfman, president Aaron G. Frenkel, founder Chaim Chesler and co-founder Sandra Cahn. Frenkel said the movement was delighted to return to Kazan. “Not only have we managed to

move from specially adapted oneday conferences to three-day events, but it is extraordinary and truly noteworthy to consider the distances that people traveled to attend,” Frenkel said. “That speaks strongly about the critical importance of Limmud FSU events. We are inspired by the enthusiasm of the participants, and we are touched by the support of keynote speakers, among them Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, our longtime supporter and friend.” In an open Q&A session, Lazar said: “Limmud is, first and foremost, a beautiful public where Jews come together. The Talmud says when that happens, it is already a holy event.” Lazar added, “The very name, Limmud” — Hebrew for learning — “is itself a symbol of the Jewish people. True happiness doesn’t come from sitting alone at home. A Jew cannot say ‘L’chaim’ over a glass of wine when alone; we say ‘L’chaim’ when we are with others.” This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with Limmud FSU, which nurtures open, pluralistic, dynamic learning platforms across the world for Jews of all ages and backgrounds with roots in the former Soviet Union, while embracing the Jewish intellectual, cultural and religious traditions grounded in this shared experience. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.ì

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Nearly 1 In 3 Israeli Jews Will Be Haredi Orthodox By 2050, Per Israeli Economic Projections By Shira Hanau

Hared Orthodox Jewish men walk near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, Jun. 17, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

(JTA) — Nearly one third of Israel’s Jewish population will be haredi Orthodox by the year 2050, according to projections by Israel’s National Economic Council. Israel’s current population of 9.2 million is expected to grow to 16 million by 2050. Of those 16 million, about a quarter are projected by Israel’s National Economic Council to be haredi Orthodox, Haaretz reported Monday. The new population figures point to a future in which Israel’s Jewish population continues to make up about 80% of its population but in which that Jewish population skews far more heavily Orthodox than ever before. Currently, Israel’s Orthodox population makes up 12.6% of the population. By 2050, that figure will rise to 24% of the total population, the council claims.

Most of that growth will result from the Orthodox community’s birth rate of 6.7 children per woman, far higher than the rate of 3.01 among the population as a whole. Across all sectors of the population, Israelis ages 19 and younger will make up over a third of the population. Most of Israel’s Orthodox Jews are expected to remain concentrated in Jerusalem and its surrounding area as well as in the city of Beit Shemesh. But the Orthodox population is also projected to grow in Israel’s south, where a new Orthodox city is being planned, as well as to a smaller degree in the north. Tel Aviv and its surrounding cities and suburbs will continue to be the most highly populated area of the country. That area will also see a major increase in the number of elderly people, with the number of people over the age of 65 approximately doubling. The country’s population growth across all sectors is projected to place greater demands on the country’s housing stock, already considered to be insufficient for the current population’s needs, as well as transportation systems and education system.ì

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lect the data by gathering media reports and by carrying out an informal survey, according to Rabbi Motti Seligson, a Chabad spokesperson. The survey turned up a number of capital projects that have not yet been publicly announced, including some purchases that are underway now. Seligson said the true extent of Chabad’s recent real estate expansion is likely much larger than the $137 million figure indicates. But he said he wanted to release the information he had in conjunction with the 38th annual International Conference of ChabadLubavitch Emissaries, which takes place this week in-person in and around Brooklyn, New York. as well as virtually. “We were doing an exploration of Chabad’s impact and growth to examine the effectiveness of various programs through this difficult time of the pandemic,” he said. “These numbers came into sharp focus as we looked at the level of engagement and our institutional and infrastructure growth.” Seligson also pointed out that during the pandemic, Chabad minted 250 new emissary couples who went out to serve existing Chabad centers or establish new ones. Even before the pandemic growth spurt, Chabad had already engaged some 37% of American Jewish adults in activities, according to recent survey data from the Pew Research Center. Over the past 20 years, the number of Chabad synagogues in the United States has nearly tripled, reaching 1,036 in 2020, according to a tally by Joel Kotkin, a Chapman University professor who studies demographic trends, and independent researcher Edward Heyman. Over that same period, the overall number of synagogues declined by 29%. “While their secular counterparts are shrinking, the Hasidim and

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other more traditionally observant Jewish communities in America are experiencing a surge of growth,” Kotkin and Heyman wrote in a Tablet magazine article analyzing their data. While many Hasidic groups are growing primarily through procreation, Chabad, focused as it is on outreach, appears to be picking up a significant chunk of the Jews who have disaffiliated from the Reform or Conservative movements or who have never had much of an institutional affiliation to begin with. In its recent survey, Pew estimated that among Chabad participants, 24% are Orthodox, while 26% are Reform, 27% are Conservative, and 16% don’t identify with any particular branch of Judaism. “In the present the core social needs of the Jewish world are filled by two kinds of organizations: One is Chabad, which is expanding rapidly and offers a full gamut of services,” Kotkin and Heyman wrote. (The other kind of organization is the local Jewish federation and its affiliated Jewish community centers.) As Chabad proliferates, it is finding among the Jews it serves many willing donors. Sometimes, individual contributors like the Preisses in Chicago play an outsized role, but their gift was accompanied by $500,000 in small donations, according to Chabad.org. In comments to Chabad.org, the Preisses explained why they gave to Chabad. “They focus on each mitzvah without criticizing. They’re so welcoming,” said Jacques Preis, who was raised Reform. “It’s not a diluted Judaism,” said Evelyn, his wife. “Much of the funding for these campaigns is raised locally from people whose lives are personally enriched by Chabad in their community,” Seligson said. “They represent people from large donors to large numbers of small donors like college students who are committed to supporting Jewish life and programs that inspire them with whatever they can based on their means.”ì

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But are Jews really so different from their counterparts in other religious groups? Springtide’s poll questions about “faith life” and “faith community” may not have captured the modes of religious engagement that are present for Gen-Z Jews, or their parents, said Ronit Stahl, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies recent history and is involved in the university’s Center for the Study of Religion and Center for Jewish Studies. “It strikes me as very Christian language,” Stahl said. “If you ask young Jews about their relationship with the Jewish community, you’ll get a very different answer than if you asked about their relationship with their faith community, because Jews typically don’t talk about Jewish life as being part of a faith community.” Surveys about Jewish engagement and attitudes more traditionally focus on measures that are less open to interpretation, such as synagogue affiliation and frequency of various practices. That is the case with the surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, the latest of which focused on Jews was released earlier this year and also found evidence of declining institutional engagement among younger Jews. Pew conducts similar surveys of Christians, as well, and regularly releases surveys of attitudes across religious groups that are broadly trusted by American Jews. Springtide is trying to do something different from what Pew does. According to Packard, Springtide is hoping to understand and support young people as they “explore life’s biggest questions” like “Why am I here? How should I live? What happens when I die?” Founded in 2019, Springtide operates under the fiscal structure of a Catholic nonprofit publishing company called Lasallian Educational and Research Initiatives but the two entities are independent, with Springtide pledging to study

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young people from a nonsectarian perspective. Packard acknowledged the difficulties in developing poll language about spirituality that can be universal but said the survey asked questions in multiple ways to capture different perspectives. He also noted that Springtide relies on an advisory board with representatives of many traditions including Judaism. “Even with all of this in place, it’s tricky to try and find language and concepts that are accessible to young people broadly speaking,” Packard said. “Language that makes sense to young Muslims will not always resonate with Christians or Jews and the nearly 40% of young people who are unaffiliated might not understand much religious language at all.” He said this team is open to adjusting its survey methods and added that, next year, Springtide hopes to carry out a national study focused entirely on young Jews. If it does, other measures suggest that it might well draw some similar conclusions. Flory, the University of Southern California sociologist, said Springtide’s findings match what’s already well known in his field. He was referring to the work of the National Study of Youth and Religion out of the University of Notre Dame and to his own book published last year, “Back-Pocket God: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Emerging Adults,” which is based on a decade of research. “There’s no surprise in any of the data that younger people across the board are moving away from institutionalized religion,” Flory said. “I can tell you the groups that are not doing well: Jews, mainline Protestants and Catholics. They’re doing the worst.” The suite of Jewish organizations seeking to engage Jewish teens and young adults is large and diverse, ranging from legacy institutions with a presence on college campuses like Hillel and Chabad, to the newer models like the fastgrowing world of Moishe House with its global

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network of homes-as-community-centers, and startups such as GatherDC, which just got a $1.5 million grant to take its work on something called “relational Judaism” national. Leaders of several Jewish organizations who reviewed the Springtide numbers said they weren’t sure how seriously they should treat the data, and expressed optimism on the outlook of engaging young Jews. David Cygielman, the CEO of Moishe House, for example, saw a glass half-full when he read that 41% percent of Jewish respondents are not flourishing in their faith lives. It meant that 59% were. “As we’re looking out into the future, and investing in this demographic, we’re not starting with a minority here, we’re starting with the majority that we want to see grow,” he said. And from Chabad’s perspective, the numbers don’t exactly reflect the interest they are seeing at colleges. “We’re seeing a surge of young Jews on campus clamoring for community, Jewish life and engagement,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International. “They are looking for meaningful ways to build their own authentic Jewish identity.” But some in the Jewish world said they found Springtide’s approach refreshing and thought the findings should be seen as relevant to American Jews. Josh Feigelson, a rabbi who leads the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, says the fact that poll language about faith and spirituality is seen as out of step with Jewish culture is in fact a problem for young Jews. “For a lot of reasons the American Jewish community has shunned overt spiritual language,” Feigelson said. “We don’t talk about the presence of God in our lives or offer words of blessing to each other in a non-self conscious way. There’s a correlation there with a feeling of estrangement that doesn’t surprise me.” As an applied sociologist, Tobin Belzer conducts research and evaluations on behalf of numerous organizations and philanthropists across the Jewish world. Her findings, based on several studies of Jewish young adults’ perspectives and experiences, suggest that this demographic isn’t hopelessly estranged. “Young adults aren’t necessarily interested in rabbis who act like a ‘sage on the stage,’” she said. “They want someone who is real and approachable and authentic, who is going to have an actual relationship with them. Also, they’re not typically looking for the one community where they can engage fully, they are looking for a smattering of different options.”

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and she ended up staying on after completing her degree in 2017. By January 2020, Schwarzbard had worked her way up to her current position, where she’s also a deputy to the head of digital diplomacy. Schwarzbard credits the Hebrew language education she received at Brooklyn’s Shulamith School for Girls for putting her in a good stead upon her arrival in Israel. She only needed one semester of ulpan, an intensive Hebrew course, to get up to speed. “I threw myself into Hebrew and Israeli culture. It was sink or swim,” she recalls. “Sometimes I make mistakes, but I laugh it off. It’s the only way to learn. I even spoke in Hebrew on a TV morning show!” Despite Schwarzbard’s positive attitude, she doesn’t shrug off the challenges of aliyah. She credits Nefesh B’Nefesh with helping her and other new immigrants navigate Israel’s bureaucracy. After the pandemic arrived, Schwarzbard was forced to go a year and a half without seeing her parents, brother or other relatives back in the United States.

But she also found herself at her most creative during the pandemic. She launched the Foreign Ministry’s TikTok account, which accrued 146,000 followers in just six months. With social media taking up so much of her time and energy during the day, Schwarzbard makes a concerted effort to turn off her computer and silence her phone in the evenings. She has also limited her personal social media presence to Twitter and LinkedIn. When not working, Schwarzbard likes to run in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park and read historical nonfiction. She’s acquired a sizable circle of friends — both native Israelis and immigrants. “I have a hybrid social circle,” she said, “but I would have to say that my closest friends are Israelis I met here, including fellow former students, roommates, and colleagues from work. It is important to break out of the American olim bubble.” Although Schwarzbard tries to separate work from personal time, the reality of her job is that she is on call 24 hours a day, six days a week (seven days a week in times of national crisis).

She says she doesn’t mind, because she knows she is making a broad and significant impact. She loves to engage with people, creating relationships and opportunities for dialogue. She especially likes it when she can leverage other olim in her work. She encourages other young people to consider making Israel their home, despite the challenges. “Israel is a land of opportunity. You can really make a difference and leverage the skills you have from growing up abroad,” she said. “You can make it to the top of your field here.” Networking, she says, is key. “That is why I always respond to other immigrants who reach out to me on LinkedIn.” Schwarzbard rejects the Hebrew description of what she does as “hasbara,” which she says connotes propaganda. “What we do is public diplomacy. There is nothing we need to justify or be defensive about,” she said. “What we do is tell Israel’s story and prepare for the future. We engage, create relationships, and respond.” Schwarzbard says her goal is to share what she herself has discov-

ered since making aliyah: “Israel is a normal country. It is perfectly imperfect, and it is far more than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel is a complex place, and our stories are similar and relevant to those of other places around the world.” 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 65,000 olim from North America and the United Kingdom for nearly two decades. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.ì

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