Volume 9, Number 3 Passover 2019
Serving the Local New Orleans, Northshore, and Baton Rouge Jewish Communities
Netanyahu Wins Narrow Victory in Israel’s Election By Ben Sales
(JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu appears likely to win a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister as right-wing parties apparently have maintained their majority in the nationwide elections held Tuesday. With more than 95 percent of the vote counted, Netanyahu’s Likud party and the opposition Blue and White party are virtually tied with more than 1 million votes apiece. According to Israeli news websites, each party is likely to win 35 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament. Despite the tie, Netanyahu appears to have won the election overall, as his right-wing allies won a solid majority of votes. Israel is governed by coalitions of parties, so the total number of the right- and left-wing blocs matter more than the size of the biggest party. In total, right-wing parties won 65 seats, while centrist and left-wing parties took 55 seats. That math gives Netanyahu a clear path to forming another governing coalition. A total of 11 parties will likely enter the Knesset. “The right-wing bloc, led by Likud, won a decisive victory,” Netanyahu tweeted Tuesday night as results rolled in. “I thank the citizens of Israel for their trust. I will begin assembling a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight.” Netanyahu faced a fierce challenge from Blue and White, a new party led by former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. The prime minister was hounded as well by an impending indictment for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He spent the final days of the race in what pundits called a “gevalt” campaign, warning his
voters that unless they turned out, a left-wing government would be established. On Saturday night, he promised to annex West Bank settlements in the coming term in an effort to shore up his right-wing base. But if the coalition math holds, Netanyahu is poised to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. He has held the office for a decade consecutively, in addition to his initial three-year term in the late 1990s. This election also saw Likud increase its seats in Knesset to 35 from 30 — the most held by the party since 2005. The 35-seat tie also represents a new high for the opposition. The largest party in the outgoing Knesset, called the Zionist Union, held 24 seats, six fewer than Likud. Alongside Gantz, Blue and White is led by Yair Lapid, a centrist and former news anchor who entered the Knesset in 2013. Gantz had yet to concede the race as of early morning Wednesday in Israel. Haredi Orthodox parties also
succeeded on Tuesday. United Torah Judaism and Shas, which represent Ashkenazi and Sephardi haredi voters, respectively, each won eight seats. Further down the list, the election featured some surprises. Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, two prominent figures on the right, may not serve in the next Knesset, as their New Right party finished with less than 3.25 percent of the vote — the threshold for entering the parliament. Likewise, the Zehut party, which combined far-right nationalism with libertarianism — and favored legalizing marijuana — appears likely to fall short of the threshold despite garnering significant media attention during the campaign. The Union of Right-Wing Parties, a slate that includes the extreme-right Jewish Power, won five seats. So did Israel Beiteinu, the right-wing party led by Avigdor Liberman that caters to Russian speakers. Kulanu, a center-right party focused on economics, won four seats.
On the left, the Labor Party, which dominated Israeli politics decades ago, won just six seats, an all-time low. Meretz, which is further to the left, picked up four seats. The Arab-Israeli parties, Hadash-Taal and Raam-Balad, won a total of 10 seats. The numbers may change a bit on Wednesday, as the votes of Israeli soldiers have yet to be counted. Likud won a slim plurality of votes in Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city. Blue and White garnered more than 45 percent of the vote in Tel Aviv. Here are the results by party, according to Israeli news websites: Likud – 35 Blue and White – 35 Shas – 8 United Torah Judaism – 8 Hadash-Taal – 6 Labor – 6 Israel Beiteinu – 5 Union of Right-Wing Parties – 5 Meretz – 4 Kulanu – 4 Raam-Balad – 4
In 1874, my family established Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home and for five generations, we have cared for the families of New Orleans during their time of need. Providing only the highest standard of funeral service to all, regardless of financial circumstance, is engrained in our business and continues today as our heritage. One constant in 145 years of service is our strong commitment to the people we are privileged to serve. Every life deserves a special time of honoring and celebrating; we are here to serve you. As a fifth generation Schoen, I am proud to return home to Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home and further my familyâ€™s legacy. We have a rich history in our community. To better serve New Orleans, we have recently completed restoration of our iconic Canal Street property including the addition of the new J. Garic Schoen Chapel. This is our commitment to you, neighbors and friends â€“ a pledge to our beloved city.
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From our family to yours, we invite you to join us in this renewal by visiting Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home. Please give me a call at 504-482-2111 and I will personally arrange a tour for you. Sincerely, Patrick M. Schoen Managing Partner www.schoenfh.com
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Summer Services Schedule June 2019 @ Touro 6:00 PM: Friday Shabbat Services 9:00 AM: Saturday Torah Study 10:30 AM: Saturday Shabbat Services July 2019 @ Gates Of Prayer 8:00 PM: Friday Shabbat Services 9:15 AM: Saturday Torah Study 10:30 AM: Saturday Shabbat Services August 2019 @ Temple Sinai 6:15 PM: Friday Shabbat Services 9:00 AM: Saturday Torah Study 10:15 AM: Saturday Shabbat Services
New Class with Rabbi Gabe Monday, April 29th, May 6th, 13th & 20th, 7:30PM "Azamra: Finding the Musical Notes of Holiness within Ourselves" In this four-part series, we will read the foundational Torah essay by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. This single essay has spawned hundreds of books, songs, artistic works, and more over the last centuries. Join us as we explore what relevance it has for us today.
Catch-A-Cab Transportation Program Catch-A-Cab is a discount transportation program for independent Jewish seniors (65 or older) and those with disabilities who cannot drive in the Greater New Orleans area. Participants purchase a $20 book of taxi coupons for $5. Each participant may purchase a maximum of seven books per quarter, or $140 in taxi coupons, for $35. The coupons are non-transferable and are only valid for the Catch-A-Cab subscriber. There is no charge for additional passengers traveling with Catch-A-Cab subscribers. Participating cab companies include Metry Cab Company, Incognito Transportation Services, White Fleet Cab Company, and Yellow Checker Cab Company. Catch-A-Cab is brought to you by Jewish Family Services, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, and private donors. For more information, call JFS at (504) 831-8475.
If your group has an event that you would like for us to include on the Community Calendar please e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions are subject to acceptance by the Editor. ì Jewish Community Day School Search Committee Chair, Dr. Mike Wasserman, is delighted to announce that Dr. Bradley Philipson will become the next JCDS Head of School. Dr. Philipson is a highly experienced teacher and education leader. He will commence his new role beginning July 1, 2019. Dr. Philipson is a highly experienced teacher and education leader. He will commence his new role beginning July 1, 2019. 3747 West Esplanade Avenue, Metairie LA 70002 jcdsnola.org 504.887.4091
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Table of Contents Community News
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April 14, 2019 11:00 AM - NOON Audubon Park, on or in sight of the bandstand near the magazine street parking lot JCC's Neighbor Namaste
Get outside and get grounded! Spring is a great time to invigorate your practice with fresh air, friends, and flow! Join JCC yoga instructor Kelly Bond-Osorio for a beginner-friendly Vinyasa practice outside in Audubon Park. All levels and abilities are welcome. Open to the public. Children and dogs are welcome as long as they are supervised! FREE and open to the public Weather Policy: Yes, let’s breathe in the rain! This event will continue rain or shine UNLESS rain is accompanied by lightning. Check out the JCC’s Facebook page for last-minute weather notifications. BRING: Yoga mat or large towel, unless being one with the grass keeps you grounded! Comfortable clothes that allow movement Water Instructor: Kelly BondOsorio Contact: Winnie Herring Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: email@example.com April 18, 2019 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Passover Luncheon Can’t wait for some matzo ball soup and brisket? Join us for our Passover luncheon where we will enjoy the traditional foods of the holiday. It is a custom to bring a non-Jewish friend who has always wanted to learn about the holiday or try the food to the Passover Seder, so please bring a friend. Rabbi Alan Freehling will lead an interesting discussion on the values and meaning of the holiday. This luncheon is generously subsidized by the Jewish Endowment Foundation. RSVP by Monday, April 15 to Rachel Ruth at 897-0143 x161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. $3 members / $5 non-members Email: email@example.com
April 25, 2019 12:00 PM - 2:15 PM New Orleans JCC – Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Movie Day: The Book Thief Young Liesel steals books to teach herself to read, giving her refuge from the horrors of Nazi Germany and her cold foster parents. When not reading, she forms a bond with the Jewish man her adoptive family is hiding in their home. Based on the best-selling book, with movie stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Movie snacks will be served. RSVP by Monday, April 22 to Rachel Ruth at 8970143 x161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. No charge members and nonmembers Contact: Rachel Ruth Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: email@example.com
as some call it, is a fun opportunity for both human and canine yogis to enjoy a relaxing (but possibly slobbery!) practice. Sunshine, Slobber & Savasanas falls on Cinco de Mayo, so come dressed in your festive best! The puppies may even have sombreros! The class will take place under the Bart Family Pavilion next to the fitness entrance on Leontine Street. Afterward, we’ll enjoy doggie meet-and-greets and light refreshments. This event is free to attend but donations are accepted and will be given to our friends at Zeus' Rescues. Register Now Ages: 18 and up Instructor: Jessy Fedy-Garcia Donations accepted - No charge members and non-members Contact: Winnie Herring Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 30, 2019 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM New Orleans JCC – Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 An Evening With Doug and Susan Segal Doug Segal's wife and young daughter were hit head-on by a Los Angeles city bus. What began as regular emails to friends and family became a memoir of this experience. Join us as Doug and his wife Susan share their incredible story, recounted in his book Struck: A Husband's Memoir of Trauma and Triumph. Alternately harrowing, humorous, heartbreaking and hopeful, it is an uplifting tribute to love, determination, and how the compassion of community holds the power to heal. Free and open to the community Contact: Judy Yaillen Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: email@example.com
May 5, 2019 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Yom Ha'Shoah
May 5, 2019 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Sunshine, Slobber & Savasanas
Join Jessy Fedy-Garcia and Zeus' Rescues for a Vinyasa Flow class with ADOPTABLE dogs. "Doga,"
Join us for Yom Ha'Shoah, our annual community-wide Holocaust Memorial program at the Uptown JCC. This event is free and open to the public. The JCC will host author Georgia Hunter, whose best-selling debut novel, We Were the Lucky Ones, is the extraordinary true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite. Based upon her own relatives’ experiences during the war, this powerful and suspenseful saga is described as a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds. During the program, we will remember and honor New Orleans Holocaust survivors, recognize students from the Donald R. Mintz Youth Leadership Mission of the AntiDefamation League, and present the Holocaust Educator of the Year Award to Paul Distler for the outstanding work he has done integrating Holocaust education into the curriculum at Cabrini High School. A dessert reception will follow the program. Special thanks to the Jewish THE
Endowment Foundation Holocaust Project and the New American Social Club for their support of this program and to the Feil Family Foundation/Lakeside Shopping Center for their continued support of Jewish cultural programs Contact: Judy Yaillen Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org May 8, 2019 Schedule of Events:
6:00 PM: Yom Ha'Zikaron Service 6:30 PM: Doors open to the Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebration 7:00 PM: Live concert with Dganit Daddo
Israel Independence Day
Celebrate Israel Independence Day at the New Orleans JCC on Wednesday, May 8. Enjoy a spread of Israeli food, singing of Hatikvah by Jewish Community Day School students, and a live concert by acclaimed Israeli singer Dganit Daddo. Prior to Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebrations, the Jewish Clergy Council will lead a Yom Ha'Zikaron service to honor fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. There is no charge to attend, but registration is appreciated. RSVP at www.nojcc.org May 9, 2019 12:00 PM - 1:45 PM New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Rabin In His Own Words In honor of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel Independence Day, we will show the movie Rabin In His Own Words. Rabin In His Own Words is an “autobiography” of sorts, the story is told entirely in Rabin’s own voice. Through a combination of rare archival footage, home movies and private letters, his personal and professional dramas unfold before the viewer's eyes from his childhood as the son of a labor leader before the founding of the State of Israel, through a THE
change of viewpoint that turned him from a farmer into an army man who stood at some of the most critical junctures in Israeli history, through his later years during which he served as Prime Minister and made moves that enraged a large portion of the public, until the horrific moment when his political career and life were suddenly brought to an end. Israeli snacks will be served. RSVP by Monday, May 6 to Rachel Ruth at 897-0143 x161 or email@example.com. No charge members and nonmembers Contact: Rachel Ruth Phone: 504-897-0143 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Temple Sinai Welcomes Our New Senior Rabbi Daniel Sherman The Temple Sinai Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are thrilled to announce that Rabbi Daniel Sherman has been enthusiastically and unanimously selected to serve as Temple Sinai’s next Senior Rabbi. We very much look forward to welcoming Rabbi Sherman, his wife Morgan, and their son, Shai, and daughter, Janna, to the Sinai family in July 2019. In accordance with Temple Sinai’s bylaws, the formal congregational vote to confirm Rabbi Sherman as our Senior Rabbi will occur at the Annual Meeting on May 17. Thank you to all who participated in the thoughtful, intentional, and positive search process and contributed to the effort to bring Rabbi Sherman to Temple Sinai. Rabbi Daniel Sherman was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a lifelong product of the Reform Movement– having grown up in a Reform congregation, attending URJ summer camps, and being involved in NFTY. He received his BA in history from Yale University in 1993, and has a Masters of Arts in Hebrew Letters from HUC-JIR. Rabbi Sherman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1999. Following ordination, Rabbi Sherman served as the Assistant and Associate Rabbi at Temple Shalom in Naples, Florida until 2006. He was Rabbi of the Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, South Carolina for nine years, and most recently served as Senior Rabbi at Temple Dor Dorim in Weston, Florida. www.thejewishlight.org
Happy Passover to our friends in the Jewish Community!
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Best Wishes for a Happy Passover!
Mazel Tov... to Madelyn Fireman and Maddie Crilly on their engagement to Sean Haspel and Caroline Carmer on their wedding. Sean is the son of Amy GainsburghHaspel and John Haspel. to Betty Kohn on being the honoree at the The JCRS Jewish Roots of Fashion Gala, where she was recognized for her support and dedication to Jewish children and Jewish communities.
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Gates of Prayer IN MEMORIAM Sheldon Cole, father of Andra Thorpe and grandfather of Ethan, CONDOLENCES... To Heidi Vizelberg on the death of Wiley and Harlan John Wittenberg, father of Terri her mother, Bobette Szyller Benton and Susan Callahan, and grandfather of Kyle & Javen Benton Richard Morris Adler, husband of Barbara Adler, father of Lee Adler, Laura Palka, and Julie McAndrews, stepfather of Scott Gardner, and grandfather of six grandchildren
Happy Passover to all of my friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support!
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What It Means To Keep Kosher For Passover By MJL Staff (My Jewish Learning via JTA) Keeping kosher for Passover means abstaining from hametz, the fermented products of five principal grains: wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats. Though matzah, the unleavened bread eaten on Passover, is made from grain, it is produced under highly controlled conditions to ensure that it does not ferment. Ashkenazi Jews who keep kosher for Passover have also traditionally avoided eating kitniyot, a category of foods that includes corn, rice, beans and lentils, though the Conservative movement’s rabbinic authorities overturned the kitniyot prohibition in 2015. Sephardic Jews do not abstain from kitniyot . A minority of Jews add an additional stringency by avoiding “gebrochts” — unleavened matzah products that become wet, such as matzah balls or matzah meal. Among observant Jews, it is common practice to avoid most processed food that is not explicitly labeled kosher for Passover. This is true even for products like cheese or juice that do not contain any hametz , but may have been processed in a plant alongside products containing hametz. Some products that are kosher yearround are modified slightly to be THE
kosher for Passover — most famously Coca-Cola, which substitutes cane sugar for corn syrup in some regions over the holiday and is marked by a distinctive yellow cap. A guide to kosher-for-Passover foods is published each year by the Orthodox Union, which also maintains a searchable database of Passover foods on its website. The O.U. also has information on food products that can be used without explicit Passover certification. There are a range of additional practices common to Jews who keep kosher for Passover. Chief among them is ridding the home of any hametz products. This is typically done in the days leading up to Passover when homes are cleaned of all hametz. For hametz products that are too valuable or difficult to discard, it is also possible to sell the hametz to a non-Jew Generally, a rabbi performs this service on behalf of his congregants and then repurchases the hametz for them when the holiday concludes. In these cases, the seller rarely delivers the food to the purchaser, but instead packs it away. Making a kitchen kosher for Passover is an elaborate process. Countertop surfaces and sinks are either kasher ed (made kosher) with
boiling water or covered for the duration of the holiday, depending on the material. Metal pots and utensils can usually be kashered with boiling water, and various appliances have their own requirements. The O.U. has a guide to kitchen preparation. Given the difficulties involved, many observant Jews maintain separate Passover cookware, dishes and utensils that are used only during the holiday. Many Jews who do not follow all these restrictions nonetheless make some dietary changes in honor of the holiday. Some people avoid eating hametz but do not thoroughly purge their kitchens of it, while others cut out bread and pasta, yet continue to eat some traditionally forbidden items. In recent years, many affluent observant Jews have opted to avoid the rigors of cleaning their kitchen for Passover by going on special kosher-for-Passover cruises or to kosher-for-Passover resorts. The trend, while costly, not only makes
the holiday easier to observe, but often provides a welcome opportunity for an extended family to get together without the burden of having to host and cook for large numbers of guests.
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A Family Haggadah Imagines a ‘Complicated, Engaging and Fleshy’ Passover By Emily Burack (JTA) — The Passover seder can beautiful illustrations on every page be boring for kids. A new Haggadah by 70 Faces Media’s multimedia ediis trying to change that. tor, Hane Grace Yagel, making the centuries-old text engaging and fresh. “Every year, people ask Kveller, ‘which Haggadah should we use this Passover?'” Kveller editor Lisa Keys said. “And we never had a good answer for that.” Until now. “This is not a ‘Haggadah for kids,'” Keys said. “It’s a highly Elissa Strauss, left, and Gabrielle accessible, dynamic Haggadah that Birkner are the authors of the Kveller engages children and grown-ups.” Haggadah. (Collage by Emily Burack) (Kveller is published by the JewPublished by Kveller, a Jewish ish Telegraphic Agency’s parent parenting site, the Kveller Hagga- company, 70 Faces Media.) dah is “for curious kids — and their JTA spoke with Birkner and grown-ups.” The Haggadah’s co- Strauss about their creative process creators are Elissa Strauss, a col- behind the Haggadah, their own umnist on parenthood for CNN, Passover seder experiences and and Gabrielle Birkner, the co-author what they hope families take away of “Modern Loss: Candid Conver- from the Kveller Haggadah. sation About Grief. Beginners WelJTA: The two of you “created come” (Harper Wave, 2018) and a this Haggadah to be informative former managing editor of JTA. and spiritual, and even a tiny bit Strauss and Birkner don’t skate weird.” Can you talk what inspiaround the darker parts of the Pass- rations you drew from? over story; they approach them headStrauss: We were inspired by a on. And it obviously includes the mix of the very new and very old. classics. The Haggadah also has We thought a lot about the latest and
Happy Passover to the Jewish Community! It is an honor to serve you.
most popular narrative forms for about learning lessons from the kids, things like podcasts and video past; it’s about feeling as though we lived through it. Instead of ignoring the rage, we want to acknowledge it, and then consider it. Anger is a common response to injustice. What should we do with it? Birkner: It was challenging to think through how to incorporate Moses into our text. Traditional Haggadot don’t really mention him. The focus is on God’s “outstretched arm,” The Kveller Haggadah was designed by not the hands of a mere mortal — no Hane Grace Yagel, 70 Faces Media’s multimedia editor. (Kveller) matter how remarkable. (By contrast, games, and tried to figure out what some contemporary Haggadot highkids like about them. Video games light Moses’ role and downplay often contain narratives that are God’s role.) In the Kveller Haggavery high-stakes, and children love dah, God is at the center of the seder that. They want to feel like the rituals and the focus of our gratitude. world they are immersed in is excit- But Moses’ life and leadership are ing, and what is happening matters. explored in the Exodus story (anothWell, the same can be said of ancient er thing that is omitted from tradiJewish texts. They are intense, high- tional Haggadot, but not ours), and in stakes and operate under the some of our supplementary content, assumption that if the story is good, such as Rabbi Ruti Regan’s reflecchildren will pay attention. Also, tions on Moses’ disability. children tend to be highly preoccuDid you learn anything new pied with ethics, just like the rabbis about Passover (and the seder) of yore. They don’t just want to while working on the Haggadah? know what to do, they want to know Birkner: So much. There’s why they should do it, too. something on almost every page Birkner: It would be cliché to that I didn’t know when we started say my kids inspired me. It would out, from why we wash our hands also be true. This Haggadah treats twice before the Passover meal children like the curious, creative (even if they’re clean) to why we and capable humans we know them say “Next year in Jerusalem” (even to be — little people who are drawn if we have no plans to be there). I to epic stories, who believe in things learned what Passover looked like they can’t see, and who always want in the Temple era (a whole lot difto know why, why, why. This text ferent) and why we eat the afikostokes and rewards their curiosity. In men for dessert (even though it’s the case of the Kveller Haggadah, not the least bit sweet). I also Elissa and I brought our identity as learned about what’s traditionally parents of young (and curious) chil- left out of Haggadot — Moses and dren. We sought to create a Hagga- the Exodus story, as I mentioned dah that is substantive and spiritual, earlier — but also the answers to the Four Questions. made for kids but engaging for all. What is your favorite part of What was the most challenging the seder to do with your kids? part to write? Strauss: Elijah’s cup. It’s such a Strauss: The part about asking God to smite our enemies is top of See HAGGADAH the list for me. We included it 9 on Page because the Haggadah isn’t just
Happy Passover to my friends in the Jewish Community! Nathalie Dubois
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HAGGADAH Continued from Page 8 deeply mystical concept, and we are not a deeply mystical family. But when we pour that glass, and chant his name, we turn into just the kind of people who believe the spirit of an ancient prophet may actually enter our home. I love how the Haggadah takes us there, making us ripe for miracles, if only for a few minutes. Birkner: I love saying the Shecheyanu blessing with them on the first night. Kids live in the moment, and the Schecheyanu thanks God for this … very … moment. It’s essentially a mindfulness prayer. This year, I think they’ll
The Kveller Haggadah includes a “map” to the traditional seder plate. (Kveller/Hane Grace Yagel)
be fascinated to learn how memory (the theme of this Haggadah) works — and about why it’s their job to be the keepers of memories. What do you remember from your seders growing up? Strauss: The food, which is by design, of course. The matzah, the charoset, the maror, the parsley dipped in the saltwater which somehow tastes rich and exotic in the context of the seder. Then the egg, representing both the hope of getting to eat dinner, and the hope of renewal, for all of us. It’s food poetry. Birkner: Growing up — and to this day — my mother gets supercreative with her Passover seders, which seem to get bigger and more elaborate each year, stretching beyond the dining room and into the living room. She’ll make two kinds of brisket and three kinds of charoset. She’ll create a “Passover Jeopardy!” table game, and she’ll print out songs about the 10 plagues and insist we sing them to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” or something. And let’s just say I’m not the first woman in my family to make her own Haggadah. Do you have any special Passover traditions you passed along in your family? Strauss: We are strictly anti-Cuisinart when it comes to charoset. That and the idea that if kids are in the THE
Happy Passover to my Friends in the Jewish Community! Chad Nugent District 8 Jefferson Parish School Board
The Kveller Haggadah approaches the darker parts of Passover head-on. (Kveller)
room, the seder should speak to them. Birkner: My mom takes seriously the idea of welcoming the stranger. Throughout my 20s, I would often call her on the day of the seder and let her know so-andso and so-and-so’s cousin don’t have anywhere to celebrate the holiday and would be coming with me. She’d add two more place settings, no questions asked. In addition, our family seders almost always include one or more guests experiencing a Passover seder for the first time — including, some years, clergy from other faith traditions. What do you hope families take away from the Haggadah? Strauss: My big gripe with a lot of contemporary expressions of Judaism is that they push us to choose between accessibility and substance. This is a false choice. One shouldn’t have to attend a yeshiva or be Orthodox to gain access to a complicated, engaging and fleshy Judaism. It should be made available to all. I hope families who use our Haggadah gain an appreciation for the depth and richness of our tradition, and that it makes them hungry for more. You can download the Kveller Haggadah at kveller.com/haggadah.
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Jewish Schools Immersing Students in Ethics and Justice, From Selma to ‘Grandfriending’ By E.J. Kessler
At the Epstein Hillel School in Massachusetts, each first-grader is paired for the school year with a “grandfriend” — an unrelated older adult connected in some way to the school — to foster intergenerational relationships. (Courtesy of the Epstein Hillel School)
Middle-school students at the Saul Mirowitz Community School in St. Louis have spent a lot of time over the last year outside the classroom. They traveled to Alabama — the cities of Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma — as well as Memphis, Tennessee, to learn about civil rights. They spent a week at a Wisconsin nature preserve to learn about environmental stewardship. They went to Heifer Ranch in Arkansas to learn about hunger and poverty, spending a night without beds and with little food to give them a sense of what real indigence is like. “I’ve read about these things, but experiencing even a taste of how families in poverty feel makes an impact,” a student, Hayley L., was quoted as saying on a school blog. “It’s shocking that people live like this every day.” The trips aren’t just about handson learning. They are designed to prime the youths to take action. “They have a fire in the belly when they return from these trips,”
head of school Cheryl Maayan said. “It literally changes their lives.” After the trips, students conducted an audit of the school’s food, paper and water waste in an awareness campaign to reduce its environmental footprint. They researched local anti-poverty efforts and raised money to support poverty-related charities. They sold water bottles emblazoned with the school’s name to raise funds for a bottle spout at the school water fountain to discourage single-use plastics. The Mirowitz School’s immersion trips for middle schoolers, now seven years running, are one example of the innovative way that Jewish day schools are trying to impart the values of chesed, or good works, and charity, tzedakah. When schools do it best, they weave social justice, tzedakah and righteous behavior into the culture and fabric of the school both inside and outside the classroom. “We see many creative examples of chesed education across the network of schools,” said Paul Bernstein, CEO of Prizmah, a network organization for Jewish day schools. “It’s core to the education we seek to provide.” The trips are part of a larger trend toward more experiential learning in day schools. “Our schools are moving toward experiential learning for their students, not only for chesed but for all subjects,” said Melanie Eisen, Prizmah’s director of educational innovation. “Students have the
world at their fingertips. To make chesed projects real, our schools are taking their students into their communities and beyond to experience the learning with all their senses. These defining moments will have a lasting imprint on their lives as graduates of Jewish day schools.” In Los Angeles, 10th-graders at the Milken Community Schools, a nondenominational K-12 Jewish day school, take a weeklong trip to New Orleans to rebuild homes with a local nonprofit working to repair damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The school has taken eight trips there with 10thand 11th-graders, the first in 2006 just months after the hurricane.
Middle-school students from the Saul Mirowitz Community School in St. Louis traveled to Selma, Alabama, to learn about civil rights as part of a broad social justice curriculum. (Courtesy of the Mirowitz School)
The students do construction tasks such as painting, sanding and installing drywall, and get to know the homeowners they are helping, said Wendy Ordower, Milken’s director of service learning. They talk about Jewish themes and texts connected to their experience, such as the adage from the Ethics of the Fathers, or Pirkei Avot: “You are not obligated to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” “I never thought we’d be doing this trip so many years later, but there’s always something to do in the Ninth Ward,” Ordower said. “We just keep going back. A pillar
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Students from the Saul Mirowitz Community School visited the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas for an overnight hunger and poverty simulation. (Courtesy of the Mirowitz School)
of the school is ‘gemilut chesed'” – doing righteous works. “We really walk the walk. Doing it as a community elevates it.” At the Epstein Hillel School in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the first grade focuses on fostering intergenerational relationships. Each of the school’s first-graders is paired for the school year with a “grandfriend” — an unrelated older adult connected in some way to the school. The grandfriends, who are in their late 60s and early 70s, come to the classroom every Thursday to participate in discussions and art projects. During the winter, when many grandfriends go to Florida, the students write them letters. During a class about Veterans Day, a grandfriend showed off the dog tags of his father, who was killed in World War II. Letters to grandfriends about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. elicited memories of his speeches, said first-grade teacher Emily Glore. “The program is an opportunity to pass on some experience and build a really sweet connection with the older generation,” Glore said. “The kids get to see that there are people out there who are invested in their success.” At the Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, an unusual Yizkor Project is being used as a lesson in chesed and history. Last year, highschool juniors worked for months to uncover the names and histories of 310 individuals buried in numbered graves at the local Metfern Cemetery between 1947 and 1979. The cemetery was literally next door, on the 200-acre property of the shuttered Fernald School. The students began by researching public and online genetic records to identify those interred, who died at Fernald and Metropolitan State Hospital — local institutions for people with physical and mental disabilities. They studied Fernald, which was the oldest publicly funded institution of its kind in America, to learn about historic attitudes toward the disabled. They created an exhibit about the See GRANDFRIENDING on Page THE
GRANDFRIENDING Continued from Page 10 history of disability in America from 1897 to 1937 that was displayed for eight months at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, a Boston suburb. This yearâ€™s juniors are completing a Yizkor book with bios of each person buried at Metfern and making permanent signs commemorating the dead for the cemetery. â€œWe use history as a lens for thinking about the narratives of who we are,â€? Gann history teacher Yoni Kadden said. Student Anna Kamens called the project â€œmeaningful and important.â€? â€œDefinitely the coolest thing about it is getting to meet people personally affected by this history, and learning about the history of disability through the eyes of individual people, knowing that we are actually making a difference,â€? she said. Many schools require chesed projects. At the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland, upper-school students must complete 80 hours of community service to graduate, but on average they do much more, spending 244 hours a year in such activities. Roz Landy, the schoolâ€™s dean of students, said the projects have
changed continually since she started the program in the late 1980s because activities are chosen by students based on their interests. â€œThis is not adult driven,â€? she said. Students work with developmentally disabled children, do EMT work, stock backpacks with clothes and school supplies for foster children, and work at a horse rescue farm, where they help rehabilitate horses and learn how to educate the public about equine abuse and neglect. Maayan of the Mirowitz School said that chesed projects are key to childrenâ€™s emotional and intellectual growth of children, especially in the middle-school years. â€œKids at that age tend to think about things that are not important â€” whether people like them, how they look,â€? she said. â€œWe canâ€™t change that, but we can teach them meaningful thinking.â€? This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Avi Chai Foundation, which is committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people. In North America, the foundation works to advance the Jewish day school and overnight summer camp fields. This article was produced by JTAâ€™s native content team. ďƒŹ
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9 Writers Who Perfectly Capture What It’s Like for Jews of Color By Nylah Burton
(Collage by Alma)
This story originally appeared on Alma. I recently decided to start writing full-time, a decision that’s been both enormously liberating and incredibly isolating. But there are some real perks to not having to be in an office all day, and one of them is getting to sit on the couch and read a good book smack dab in the middle of the afternoon. As a black Jewish writer, I obviously want to read books written by and highlighting the stories of Jews of color. That’s easier said than done, though. It’s not that these stories don’t exist — Jewish literature is an amazing, rich genre of diasporic Jewish stories. However, the narratives of Jews of color are often left out of the Jewish literary canon, and we suffer for it. With that in mind, I decided to make a list of books you should be reading — all written by Jews of color or featuring Jews of color. Some of the stories here aren’t
explicitly Jewish, but there may be a good reason for that. When asked if he would ever write a Jewish character, mystery novelist Walter Mosley replied, “Not if he wasn’t black … Hardly anybody in America has written about black male heroes. There are black male protagonists and black male supporting characters, but nobody else writes about black male heroes.” Jewish writers of color may shy away from writing explicitly Jewish stories for a number of reasons, like fearing that the demand for these narratives simply isn’t there. Or maybe, like Mosley, they feel more compelled to highlight the stories of groups who have been historically erased from popular narratives. Whatever the reason, though, and whatever the content of their work, these writers remain unequivocally and deeply Jewish. 1. Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy I studied Caribbean literature in college, so the Antiguan-American novelist Jamaica Kincaid is one of my heroes. A lot of people don’t know that Kincaid is Jewish, and that could be because her work isn’t explicitly so. Kincaid converted to Judaism in 1993, after over a decade of being married to the Jewish composer Allen Shawn. Telling Tablet magazine of her decision to con-
Happy Passover to My Friends and Constituents in the Jewish Community Stephanie Hilferty State Representative, District 94 Happy Passover to all my friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support! Judge Paula Brown
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12 Passover 2019
ALMA IS FOR LADIES WITH CHUTZPAH Hey! We’re Alma, a new place for women to talk about working, dating, TV-binging, yummy eating, bat mitzvah reminiscing, quasi-adulting, and the world around us. vert, Kincaid said a rabbi told her that she and her children wouldn’t be buried in the same cemetery if she didn’t. Kincaid remembers thinking, “‘What if there’s a Jewish heaven and I’m in the other heaven and I’d have to send them letters?’ I couldn’t bear to be separated from them.” After her divorce, when people asked Kincaid if she would return to Christianity, she thought it was ludicrous, saying, “People ask me if I’m still a Jew and it’s like, do you think Judaism is a fashionable skirt?” Kincaid’s work may not be explicitly Jewish, but it’s firmly rooted in an experience that many Caribbean Jews of Color can identify with. Themes of colonial legacies, complicated familial relationships, racism, and class ripple through her writing. There are so many books of Kincaid’s to read and they’re all worth it, but I would suggest starting with “Lucy,” the story of a West Indian girl who leaves her home to work for a white family. The story is loosely autobiographical, mirroring Kincaid’s own experiences. 2. Roya Hakakian’s Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran Hakakian is such an inspiring force for change. She’s a PersianJewish writer with bylines in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She’s the author of two collections of poetry, in Persian, and in 2008 she won the Guggenheim prize for non-fiction. Honestly… I could go on and on about Hakakian’s accomplishments, but her work simply speaks for itself. I recommend immediately buying her memoir “Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran.” Persian Jews have one of the longest, richest Jewish histories in the entire diaspora. However, we rarely listen to or are presented with opportunities to view Persian-Jewish perspectives. The narratives and stories of all Persian Jews are deeply important, which is what makes Hakakian’s work so vital. 3. Denice Frohman, assorted
poems Now, a lot of people aren’t “into” poetry, but you should definitely check out this poet before you write it off completely. Frohman is a queer Latina with Puerto Rican and Jewish heritage. And she’s a badass poet who’s been published widely and has appeared on lots of international stages. Her bio says that her work “focuses on identity, lineage, subverting traditional notions of power, and celebrating the parts of ourselves deemed unworthy.” She’s been featured in poetry anthologies like “Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color,” “Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism” and the forthcoming “What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump.” Frohman’s work is powerful, and it makes a clear message on the societal problems we face today. For example, she takes on racial hatred and gun violence in her heart-stopping poem, “The Hour Dylann Roof Sat In The Church.” 4. MaNishtana’s Ariel Samson: Freelance Rabbi Under his pen name, MaNishtana, Orthodox rabbi Shais Rishon seeks to diversify the American Jewish literary canon, telling JTA that Jewish writers of color are “invisible, pretty much.” Ariel Samson, the main character in his latest semi-autobiographical novel, is challenging that invisibility merely by being present and illustrating some of the many challenges that Jews of Color face in their communities. A black Orthodox Jew, Ariel deals with racism at a Shabbat table (that also comes from another Jew of color) and he has to navigate the awful experience of seeing an Orthodox New York assemblyman wearing blackface on Purim — a situation that may refer to the real experience Rishon had with Dov Hikind, who was criticized for donning the racist costume in 2013. 5. Michael Twitty’s The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South See WRITERS on Page THE
A ‘Sesame Street’ Seder and 4 Other New Children’s Books for Passover
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By Penny Schwartz BOSTON (JTA) -- Four questions. Four cups of wine. Four types of children At Passover, the number four figures prominently in the rituals of the seder, the ceremonial holiday meal that can be mesmerizing and mystifying Four new delightful and brightly illustrated books for young kids will enliven -- and help explain -the popular eight-day spring holiday, which this year begins on Friday evening, April 19. One features kids' favorites from the long-running TV series "Sesame Street." A fifth new title, set in ancient Jerusalem, is a perfect complement to the seder that ends with a tune sung to the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem." A Seder for Grover Joni Kibort Sussman; illustrated by Tom Leigh Kar-Ben; ages 1-4 In this first of four planned “ S e s a m e Street” board books from Kar-Ben, publisher and children's author Joni Kibort Sussman teams with longtime “Sesame Street” and Muppet book illustrator Tom Leigh to offer little ones an entertaining introduction to the Passover rituals and traditions. The youngest kids and their grownup readers will want to join Grover, Big Bird and their “Sesame Street” friends at Avigail's Passover seder to eat matzah, read the Haggadah and ask the Four Questions Cookie Monster can come along, too – but only if he eats special Passover cookies. Grover tells his friends it's good to invite guests to the seder. Even Moishe Oofnik the grouch is included. Pippa’s Passover Plate Vivian Kirkfield; illustrated by Jill Weber H o l i d a y House; ages 4-8 In this lively, rhyming story, an adorTHE
able mouse named Pippa is preparing for the seder. She sets the table and stirs the chicken stew. But where's the special shiny gold seder plate placed in the center of the table to display the ritual foods eaten at the ceremonial meal? The kids will have fun as they follow Pippa in her search -- from inside her house to the garden, fields and ponds outdoors. Along the way, the feisty Pippa asks for help from a cat, snake and wise owl, who are big and scary and make Pippa "cringe and quake." Author Vivian Kirkfield's playful verse introduces kid to the seder rituals, while award-winning artist Jill Weber ("The Story of Passover") puts readers in the scene with the cute gray and pink mouse. Her bright, large format illustrations are brightened with yellows and greens to match the springtime festival. The last page features Pippa's Passover plate, which identifies all of the symbolic seder foods. The Best Four Questions Rachelle Burk; illustrated by Melanie Florian Kar-Ben; ages 3-8 Marcy is the youngest child in the family who has just learned to read, and it's her turn to ask the Four Questions at her seder. But Marcy's older brother, Jake, isn’t so happy to relinquish the ritual that has won him plenty of praise from his relatives. Marcy, a vivacious and inquisitive girl, turns down all offers of help to practice reciting the Four Questions. Older kids may figure out that Marcy doesn't realize that she's expected to read the traditional questions from the Haggadah. She’s come up with her own questions all by herself. Here’s one: How many matzah balls in Grandma's chicken soup? Read to see how the family and Jake react. Rachelle Burke's lively and See SESAME STREET on Page
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In Susan Lynn Meyer's humorfilled tale, two families share a home in Apartment 4B, where they are eager to celebrate Passover. Young Eli Winkler is welcoming his human family's guests to their seder in their "Abovestairs" apartment. Under the Winkler's floor is the young Miriam Mouse and her mouse family, who live "Belowstairs" and occasionally enter the Winkler apartment through a tiny round mouse hole. This year, the Winklers have stored their matzah in a tightly sealed tin box and Miriam Mouse hasn't been able to find any stray pieces -- not even crumbs - for her family's holiday. When the determined Miriam crawls through her hole, she spies Eli's father hiding
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the afikomen, the piece of matzah needed to conclude the seder meal. Who will find the hidden matzah first, Eli or Miriam Mouse? Kids will delight when Miriam Mouse finds the perfect solution for both families. Mette Engell's large and colorful illustrations provide readers the unusual view from the mouse perspective. In a double-page illustration, Eli is kneeling and wide eyed when he discovers Miriam under a bookcase with the afikomen wrapped in a bright blue napkin embroidered by his grandmother. Shimri's Big Idea: A Story of Ancient Jerusalem Elka Weber; illustrated by Inbal Gigi Bousidan Apples & Honey Press; ages 4-8 In this gracefully told story, Elka Weber takes kids back in time to ancient Jerusalem, where a curious boy named Shimri is told he's too young and small to help his older and bigger family members plow the fields and draw water from the faraway well. But His Grandma Eliora reassures him that "Big ideas can come from small mouths," and urges him to look closely and listen. Shimri learns that King Hezekiah is looking for ideas on how to bring water inside the city's walls and wonders if the king will listen to a small boy's solution to the problem. Weber's timeless, folk-style tale will strike a chord for young readers who will share Shimri's frustration. The warm desert tones of Inbal Gigi Bousidan's illustrations evoke the landscape and lifestyle of ancient Jerusalem. An author's note explains the fictional story is inspired by Hezekiah's Tunnel, which was dug during the eighth century BCE, an engineering feat for its time. THE
This Yiddish Romance Novel Was a Smash Hit in 1877. It Was Just Translated Into English for the First Time.
Own the Road.
By Penny Schwartz
Jacob Dinezon’s dramatic Yiddish romance novel “The Dark Young Man” was a surprise success in 1877. (Courtesy of the Jewish Storyteller Press)
BOSTON (JTA) — Hot off the Jewish press in Vilna in 1877, a dramatic Yiddish romance novel became a surprising success, selling out its first 10,000 copies in Jewish communities across Poland and Russia. It’s not hard to see why. Set in the mid-19th century in the outskirts of the Russian city of Mohilev, Yankev (Jacob) Dinezon’s “The Dark Young Man” had it all: a page-turning, ill-fated modern love story thwarted at every turn by a villainous and sinister in-law; dramatic storytelling that exposed the divide between rich and poor; and the clash of modernity against tradition. Spoiler alert: no happy ending. The best-seller catapulted the Lithuania-born Dinezon, a one-time tutor and little-known writer, to become an influential leader in the Yiddish literary scene of Warsaw, where he had settled. Jewish writers of the day, from Sholem Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Leib Peretz, sought his counsel, guidance and support. Dinezon published and promoted their work, and became a close friend and confidant of Peretz. Over the years, Dinezon published eight other known novels and a collection of stories, along with essays, but none achieved the success of “The Dark Young Man.” With subsequent printings, it sold some 200,000 copies. When Dinezon died in 1919, thousands crammed the streets around his home in Warsaw’s Jewish quarter and along the route to the Okopowa Jewish Cemetery, according to several articles pubTHE
lished in Warsaw. Despite his prominence and popularity, however, Dinezon’s writing was overshadowed by other Yiddish authors of his day whose work was eventually translated into English. Over time — and in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the decline of Yiddish — Dinezon fell into obscurity. Now, for the first time, “The Dark Young Man” has been published in English by Jewish Storyteller Press, translated by Tina Lunson, and adapted and edited by Scott Hilton Davis. “There was this Jewish writer who made a real significant contribution to Jewish literature in the 19th century,” Davis told JTA in a recent phone conversation. “He deserves to be recognized.” Davis, a North Carolina resident who spent a career in public broadcasting, came upon Dinezon’s name when he was preparing a collection of Yiddish tales, but he was unable to find any of Dinezon’s major works in English. What began as curiosity became a passion. For well over a decade, Davis has devoted himself to all things Dinezon, determined to bring his books to a new generation and set the Jewish historical record straight about Dinezon and his role in Yiddish literature. In 2007, a few years after retiring, Davis founded Jewish Storyteller Press. Some seven years later, he published a few of Dinezon’s shorter works in English, including “Memories and Scenes,” “Hershele” and “Yosele,” as well as a translation of a 1956 Dinezon biography by Shmuel Rozshanski. He’s been eagerly anticipating “The Dark Young Man,” published ahead of the 100th anniversary of Dinezon’s death on Aug. 29. Born around 1851 near Kovno, Dinezon grew up in a comfortable home, according to the biographical timeline on JacobDinezon.com, a website developed by Davis that See ROMANCE on Page
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ROMANCE Continued from Page 15 includes reference material, discussion questions and more. After his father died, Dinezon was sent to live with an uncle in Mohilev, where he studied in a Jewish school that exposed him to the ideas of the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. He became a tutor and trusted business manager to a
prominent Jewish family. He left for Vilna after the family arranged a marriage for one of the daughters, ending any hoped-for prospects for himself. The storyline is one that emerges in his first novel. In his mid-30s, Dinezon moved to Warsaw, where his sister lived. In addition to his own writing and publishing, Dinezon was a behind-the-scenes supporter of other authors. He paid for Peretz’s
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first book of Yiddish stories to be published and aided Sholem Aleichem in buying back the copyrights of his books. Dinezon’s impact on Yiddish literature was significant, agrees Aaron Lansky, president of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. “I’m thrilled to see it appear,” Lansky said about the English language publication of “The Dark Young Man,” noting that there is a sizable body of Yiddish books that have never been translated — books that line the shelves that Lansky walks by every day. The center now offers a program to train translators, Lansky said, but by and large, the fellows are selecting books by writers who came after Dinezon. Dinezon was at the center of promoting Peretz along with other aspiring writers who were arriving in Warsaw, Lansky said. “He was one of the arbiters of this emerging Yiddish literature.” Lansky noted that Dinezon was one of three giants of Yiddish literature — along with Peretz and S. Ansky — who are memorialized in a large monument at the Okopowa Jewish Cemetery. Dinezon was trailblazing, Davis said, for at least two reasons: He wrote in Yiddish, which was frowned upon as common jargon by some critics and Haskalah writers who championed literary Hebrew, and for his subject matter.
Dinezon wrote about the emerging issues of the day, including the lives of urban dwellers, and most notably he had great empathy for his Jewish subjects, Davis and Lunson said. Other writers who challenged Jewish tradition “wrote scathing depictions” that cast Eastern European shtetl Jews as backwards and ignorant, Lunson elaborated. “Dinezon treated each of his characters with tenderness, and let their actions speak for themselves,” she wrote. In “The Dark Young Man,” Dinezon’s narrator invokes the voice of Jewish morality and rails against the strict tradition of arranged marriages, comparing it to the evils of the African slave trade. While Sholem Aleichem is beloved for the humor of his stories, Dinezon “consoled the Jewish soul through tears,” Davis said. Davis has come to admire Dinezon as a kind and humble mensch, “the beloved uncle of Yiddish literature.” Dinezon devoted himself to social causes: Following the outbreak of World War I, he and Peretz founded an orphanage in Warsaw for children who were fleeing the front. “He wanted to help uplift the Jewish people,” Davis said. Through this project, Davis hopes to shine a light on a forgotten figure who can be a role model for Jewish culture and values. Among the programs to commemorate Dinezon’s 100th yahrzeit is one planned for Sept. 3 at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. “I want people to remember there was a Jacob Dinezon in the world,” Davis said.
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Alex Bregman Signs One of the Largest-Ever Contracts for a Jewish Athlete
By Gabe Friedman contract with the Houston Astros — one of the largest deals ever for a professional Jewish athlete. Bregman, who turns 25 at the end of the month, has established himself as one of Major League Baseball’s top players. Last year he finished fifth in the American League’s Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros in Most Valuable Player voting folWest Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 21, 2018. lowing a season of 31 home runs, (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) 103 runs batted in and a league-best (JTA) — Alex Bregman has 51 doubles. He also was named the agreed to a six-year, $100 million All-Star Game’s MVP.
The only Jewish athlete to appear to have signed a bigger contract was fellow Jewish major leaguer Ryan Braun, who signed a contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011 worth $105 million. (Both of those contracts look small compared to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout: On Wednesday night, the two-time American League MVP signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract, one of the largest deals ever in pro sports.)
“When I think about the future and how I can make a difference in the world, I want to be able to use my love of the game of baseball to be a good example and a good person,” Bregman said at his ceremony at Albuquerque’s Congregation Albert in 2007. “I want to be a professional athlete who plays for the love of the game, never quits trying to give my best and is a good role model for all of the kids who look up to baseball players.”
7. Brandy Colbert’s Little and Lion The main character here, Suzettte, is black, queer and Jewish. “Little and Lion,” a novel, portrays a tense sibling relationship that is complicated by mental illness, but Suzette’s story is also about feeling out of place. Lots of black Jews will relate to Suzette, who thinks that “people have too many questions when you’re black and Jewish.” There’s also little scenes showing the beautiful intimacy of Jewish home life, like braiding challah before Shabbat. While Colbert herself is not Jewish, she has written one of the best depictions of Jewish adolescence in the Young Adult genre. And for that, we salute her.
tor of Sports Illustrated. He wrote “Speed Tribes” after moving from Japan back to the U.S., and the novel is about parts of Japanese society that often go unexamined in the West. “Triburbia” is a novel about families in Manhattan dealing with their complicated, messy lives. Greenfeld told Kveller that he “could not have written this book
before I had children” because the novel includes insightful observations about how children socialize with each other — specifically, how cruel bullying and exclusion can be at that age. Greenfeld has written many other amazing books, including the dystopian novel “The Subprimes.”
WRITERS Continued from Page 12
Full disclosure: I feel like I’ve known Michael for a long time. Even though we missed each other, we went to the same college (Howard University) and had the same adviser. Our adviser, who is Jewish, always told me how proud she was of Twitty and all the amazing things he was accomplishing. So I went through college knowing that Twitty was GOALS. And he’s pretty awesome — making black and Jewish history every day. As a food historian, Twitty’s work focuses on retracing African heritage through Southern cuisine. His amazing book will 8. Rosebud Ben-Oni, assorted make you laugh and cry and be poems amazed at the richness of AfricanBorn to a Mexican mother and a American food traditions. Buy it. Jewish father, Ben-Oni graduated Buy it now. from New York University and did 6. T Kira Madden’s Long Live postgraduate research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I love this the Tribe of Fatherless Girls Queer, Jewish, Chinese, and poem of hers, “I Guess We’ll Have Hawaiian… writer T Kira Mad- to Be Secretly In Love with Each den’s new memoir explores her Other and Leave It At That,” which unique background, growing up in has a few Jewish references. Her Boca Raton, and having parents poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels who struggled with addiction. Her in the Dark” was recently commisethnic heritage was a source of con- sioned by the National September fusion and searching in her early 11 Memorial & Museum in New years, but Madden says that she’s York City. You can find more of “so grateful” that her parents gave Ben-Oni’s work at The Kenyon her the freedom to identify as she Review blog, where she writes wished. Madden told Alma that she weekly. hopes people read her book and “… 9. Karl Taro Greenfeld’s Speed feel the power of being an outsider. Tribes and Triburbia I hope people can recognize some Greenfeld is Japanese and Jewish version of themselves, or some ele- and is the former managing editor of TIMES Asia and the former ediment of themselves, in the book.” THE
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What I Wish People Knew About Yiddishists By Rokhl Kafrissen
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This article originally appeared on Alma. My name is Rokhl and I’m a Yiddishist. I’ve been a Yiddishist my entire adult life, pretty much since I took my first Yiddish class in college. Being visibly (or audibly) Yiddish in public means I’ve heard every possible comment about my linguistic choice many times over. And it’s given me a handful of bullet points I’d like to share with my non-Yiddishist friends. I can’t claim to speak for every Yiddishist, of course (“khas v’kholile,” God forbid). I doubt I can even come up with a definition of Yiddishist that every Yiddishist would agree on. But let’s say that today, Yiddishists are people who have chosen to learn and/or use Yiddish in their everyday lives. The choice to use Yiddish is an affirmative statement of value, as well as an identification with Eastern European Jewish life and its present continuity around the world. To be a Yiddishist means hearing constant misconceptions from the larger Jewish world, where Yiddish is viewed as either dead, illegitimate, cutesy or embarrassing. If the language itself is suspect, obviously the people who have chosen to use it are even more so. I‘ll never forget a particularly salty exchange I had with the editors of a fledgling Jewish magazine all the way back in 2002. This was their explanation for editing a letter to the editor I had sent them: “… if you’re one of the 500 or so people who really get nostalgic about klezmer and yiddish and run off to klezcamp [sic] and connect with Judaism in that renaissancefair kind of way, the forward and moment probably cover that pretty well, so you should just read about it there.” Which leads me to point No. 1 of things you should know about Yiddishists: 1. We are not hobbyists, enthusiasts or historical re-enactors.
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(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Yiddishists are students and professors, parents and children, nudniks and hipsters. We’re super-gifted linguistic collectors and back-of-the-struggle-bus language learners. Yiddishists are a diverse group, but one thing we have in common is that we’re not re-enacting anything. In most ways, learning Yiddish (and Eastern European folk arts) isn’t much different than learning any other language or culture, except you can’t go back to the source country. Nostalgia is sentimental, personal and, most important, transient. Learning Yiddish is the opposite of nostalgia. Nostalgia is cheap and easy. Learning a language is active and generative, it makes new connections and creates community, it opens paths to new ways of seeing. And it takes a hell of a lot of work and commitment. 2. Yiddish is not a language for the cute and harmless (or, God forbid, the weak and victimized). Because of the way millions of Yiddish speakers were murdered, we tend to think of Yiddish itself as intertwined with its own destruction. But of course, Yiddish was a vibrant language spoken by every kind of person in every social class and occupation. That also means it isn’t just used by huggable bubbes who want you to eat more of their chicken soup. If you need proof that Yiddish was also the language of criminals, rogues and scoundrels, there’s no better place to start than Eddy Portnoy’s deep dive into the Yiddish tabloids of the 1920s and ’30s in his book “Bad Rabbi.” Similarly, sports commentator Max Kellerman exemplifies how Yiddish is part of today’s complex matrix of Jewish identity. Here, Kellerman compares Yiddish to the Jedi’s Force and describes why he wanted to learn it: “Yiddish was a powerful thing that was transcendent … that wasn’t a slave to popular culture … that was powerful, old and important.” Learning Yiddish was the key that made so much of my own life See YIDDISHISTS on Page THE
YIDDISHISTS Continued from Page 18 make sense and provided me with a deep connection to history that hadn’t been part of my Long Island childhood. 3. Yiddishism isn’t in opposition to Hebrew or Israel or Judaism or other Jewish heritage languages. The 20th century is over and so are the debates about what is to be the language of the new Jewish state or the Jewish people. Israel no longer has to suppress Yiddish (or other minority languages). The anti-religious Yiddishism of socialists, communists and other 20thcentury radical -isms is also a thing of the past, which is not to say that there aren’t still adherents of those particular identities, they should live and be well. But they’re no longer a driving force behind Yiddishism. Today, Yiddish is available to anyone, religious or agnostic, Zionist, anti-Zionist or somewhere in between. Many American Yiddish learners are like me and find that learning Yiddish brings them closer to the Hebrew language and culture — in large part because it’s necessary to improve your Yiddish! One of the most famous Yiddishists in the world today is Evgeny Kissin, though most people know him as a wildly popular concert pianist. Kissin has made Yiddish poetry an integral part of his artistic project, reading Y.L. Peretz at the Kennedy Center and recording his own CD of recitations of Yiddish poetry. Kissin also took Israeli citizenship a few years ago and maintains his passion for Yiddish and his Zionism as mutually reinforcing, not conflicting, aspects of his Jewish identity. Yiddish is not in competition with modern Hebrew, and it certainly isn’t in competition with Ladino or Judeo-Arabic or any other Jewish heritage language. Most Yiddishists I know are language maximalists. They understand that when it comes to languages, more is always better. The problem isn’t that there is too much Yiddish in our Jewish spaces (“halevai,” if only) but that the polyglot tendencies of Jewish life have been squashed into a global monoculture. 4. No, I don’t want to hear your five favorite Yiddish curse words. Yiddish is so much more than its psycho-ostensive aspects. Psycho-huh? Psycho-ostensive THE
elements are those parts of a language “whose only function is to give vent to the speaker’s emotional attitude toward what he is talking about.” Linguist James Matisoff wrote a whole book about it called “Blessings, Curses, Hopes and Fears: Psycho-Ostensive Expressions in Yiddish.” According to Matisoff, not just blessings and curses but proverbs, oaths, jokes and protective utterances “constitute sorts of paralanguage” within Yiddish. These are the juicy, emotive aspects of Yiddish everyone wants to talk about. The problem is when they supplant everything else. Every time someone tells me Yiddish is “uniquely expressive” or “colorful,” my heart clenches a little and an angel loses their wings. Guys, I just want to talk about Marxist Yiddish literary criticism! The funny thing is Matisoff, a linguist with impeccable linguistic credentials and real Yiddishist “yikhes” (bona fides) believes that Yiddish’s reputation as “highly expressive” is deserved! But of course, that expressive quality must be understood within the context of the whole language (and culture). If you’re only focusing on the paralinguistic, to the exclusion of all else, you’re missing out on the whole thing. 5. If you want to learn Yiddish, I want to help you. (As a friend, not as a teacher.) Being Yiddish in public means I hear from a lot of people who want to learn Yiddish but don’t know where to start. If I ask whether you know “alef-bes” (the Yiddish alphabet), it’s not to shame you but to find out where you’re starting from. Yiddish is written with Hebrew letters but spelled phonetically, for the most part. If you don’t know alefbes yet, let me encourage you to start there, as it’s an investment you’ll never regret. If you already know some Hebrew, that will help you. If you know a Slavic language, that will help you a lot. If you know English, even that can help! Yiddish is a fusion language (so it has all those elements and more) with largely Germanic syntax. It’s not exactly easy to learn, but we’re living in a golden age of Yiddish language instruction. Check out the websites of the Workmen’s Circle and YIVO for more information about in-person and distance learning classes. “Zol zayn mit mazl!” (Good luck!)
Maxwell House Is Offering a ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Haggadah By JTA Staff
The cover of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” edition of the Maxwell House Haggadah features an illustration of the hit show’s cast. (Maxwell House)
(JTA) — Real life tradition and television nostalgia collide in collaboration between the venerable Maxwell House Haggadah and the hit Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The coffee company is offering a limited edition version of its Haggadah featuring illustrations and other shtick based on the show about an aspiring Jewish comedian
and her extended family of Jewish relatives in late 1950s New York. The “Maisel” Haggadah is a throwback to an earlier edition of the Haggadah that the company has been offering as a holiday giveaway since 1932. Illustrations of Midge Maisel and other characters are scattered throughout the new version, which also has handwritten notations by Rachel Brosnahan’s character as well as faux wine stains. The limited-run Haggadahs are available to those who order Maxwell House coffee via Amazon. com. Passover begins on the evening of April 19. “There is an organic link between the Maxwell House and ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ brands and we quickly aligned on the idea of creating Midge’s Haggadah – a combination of the 1958 classic version and Midge’s amazing personality,” Naor Danieli, brand manager for Maxwell House, said in a statement.
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Why Orthodox Communities Are at the Center of a Measles Outbreak By Ben Sales
An influenza vaccination seen in 2018. Opposition to vaccinations has persisted in some Orthodox communities. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(JTA) — Rabbi Mordechai Shain isn’t sure about vaccines. Almost all of the 400 kids in the school he runs, from 3 months old to eighth-grade teens, are vaccinated. About eight or 10 are not. But he’s skeptical that immunization works at all. “My doctor in shul says everyone should take a flu shot, so a lot of people went,” said Shain, the head of school at the Tenafly
20 Passover 2019
Chabad Academy in Northern New Jersey, about 13 miles from Manhattan. “Ninety percent that took a flu shot got flus and the 10 percent didn’t get the flu. … I speak to so many doctors and they’re saying just the opposite, that vaccines are good, but they put in the vaccine different methods that give you more danger than the vaccine is saving you from.” Later he added, “In the vaccine there are things there that are putting you at higher risk.” (According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu vaccinations reduce the risk of contracting the illness by 40 to 60 percent.) Shain’s school, located in the Jewish population center of suburban Bergen County, is the only one among about a dozen Orthodox schools there that still accepts
unvaccinated kids, according to L’via Weisinger, a school nurse who runs a group of nurses at Bergen Jewish schools. The vaccine issue has become especially urgent as measles has spread in nearby haredi Orthodox communities with low vaccination rates. On Tuesday, Rockland County in New York, which borders Bergen County, barred unvaccinated minors from public places. The county has had 153 confirmed cases of measles since October. Despite institutional pressure, a strain of opposition to vaccines has persisted in haredi communities claiming that vaccines are ineffective at best and harmful at worst. A pamphlet circulating among Orthodox communities, published by an Orthodox anti-vaccine group calling itself Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, falsely claims that doctors obscure evidence that vaccines are harmful, and links vaccines to brain swelling, paralysis and death. (In reality, lasting negative effects from vaccines are extremely rare.) The group also hosts regular conference calls featuring anti-vaccine doctors, according to Gothamist. “Some of what we are told about vaccines is simply untrue,” the pamphlet’s introduction reads. “From our research (and, for some of us, from personal experience) many more than ‘one in a million’ lives have been ruined by vaccines. We don’t want any more people to be hurt needlessly.” Weisinger, a former board member of the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association, said the anti-vax movement has taken hold among some haredi Jews due to lack of education and distrust of authority. “There’s a lack of trust in the government that goes way back,” she said. “You have others who really care about their kids who are not educated. … They’re not out in the real world hearing real science. They’re not taught to discern between conspiracy theories and real science.” (The New Jersey Department of Health has information about measles prevention and reporting here.) In late February, Bergen County saw one case of measles, which is highly contagious and can stay in the air for hours after an infected person coughs. “We say our community is provaccine, but then we let an antivaxxer into our school and they have measles and our immuno-
compromised kids get exposed and our pregnant women get exposed,” Weisinger said. “Those people are all susceptible to people from Rockland County coming into our community.” Jewish institutions in the county have urged their members to vaccinate. A December statement signed by more than 40 Bergen County rabbis and Orthodox school officials said Jewish law commands vaccination. “Vaccination is not only an obligation to protect the health of our children and ourselves, but a responsibility we have towards others,” the statement said. “Those who do not vaccinate can potentially spread life-threatening diseases to others who are vulnerable. We strongly urge all parents to vaccinate their children as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.” Shain’s school does not allow parents to exempt their kids from vaccines for religious reasons. But it does accept notes from doctors exempting children from vaccines. Other schools will run doctors’ notes by a local health board for verification. “I would always check with the board of health before I would accept a medical exemption because they’re not all legitimate,” Weisinger said. “Unfortunately there are some rogue doctors out there who are anti-vaccine and support the anti-vaccine community, and there’s a lot of pseudoscience out there.” But Shain says he accepts doctors’ recommendations at face value. “If they have a doctor and the doctor can give a letter that for this child it’s not good to do vaccines, then it’s under medical guidance, so the Torah says you follow the doctor,” Shain said. “The doctor doesn’t have to tell me the reason. The doctor can say I’m a licensed M.D., and according to my observation they shouldn’t take the vaccine.” Multiple schools in the area used to accept religious exemptions to vaccines but no longer do. The Anshei Lubavitch Day Care Center in Fair Lawn, a Bergen County town, used to have one unvaccinated child out of more than 300, according to school Rabbi Levi Neubort. But that ended this year because Neubort feared the school could become a magnet for antivaxxers. See INFLUENZA on Page THE
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Passover Chicken Schnitzel Recipe A satisfying dish for Passover or all year By Shannon Sarna
Schnitzel is one of my family’s most favorite dishes all year, but especially during Passover. With very small changes (as in, use matzah meal and almond flour instead of bread crumbs), this dish is 100 percent Passover-friendly. And it’s so satisfying as the week of Pass-
over eating lags on and you are craving some serious eats, not matzah slathered in whipped cream cheese for, like, the 20th time. Schnitzel tips! When dredging anything (like chicken or eggplant), set up a work station before you start cooking. Two (or three, depending on the recipe) large shallow bowls or Pyrex dishes are ideal for the egg and bread crumb steps. Dredge all your pieces, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and then start frying. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the
chicken will not brown properly. Fry 2-3 cutlets at a time, depending on their size and the size of your pan. After you are done frying, sprinkle with an additional pinch of salt while it’s still hot. To reheat, place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet in an oven heated to 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Ingredients • 2 lbs chicken cutlets (thinly sliced chicken breasts) • Salt and pepper • 2 eggs, beaten • 2 tsp kosher-for-Passover mustard or hot sauce • 1 tsp water • 1 ½ cups matzah meal • ½ cup almond meal • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional) • 2 Tbsp dried parsley • ½ Tbsp smoked paprika • 1 tsp sea salt • ½ tsp black pepper • Vegetable or canola oil for frying
Directions Combine eggs, mustard or hot sauce, and water in a large bowl. Combine matzah meal, almond meal, sesame seeds (if using), parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper in another large bowl. Dredge each chicken cutlet into egg mixture, then into matzah meal mixture, pressing down to ensure the entire piece is covered. Lay flat on a plate or baking sheet. Pour oil into large sauté pan to about 1-1 ½ inches high over medium-high heat. Fry chicken cutlets in batches, 2-3 at a time, until golden on each side. Depending on thickness of chicken, around 3 minutes each side. Take care not to overcrowd the pan or chicken will not cook properly. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. While chicken is still hot from pan, sprinkle each cutlet with additional pinch of salt.
These 3 Easy Tahini Sauces Spice Up Dinner By Sonya Sanford
Basic tahini sauce is made with a mixture of tahini paste, water, lemon juice and garlic. Tahini paste itself is made from toasted ground sesame seeds. Both tahini paste and tahini sauces are staples of Israeli cooking. Tahini has a nutty flavor with subtle bittersweetness. Its flavor is mild, its texture is creamy, and it can act as a canvas for an array of flavors from fresh herbs and spices to sweeteners and yogurt. Here are three of my favorite takes on tahini sauces: spicy gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) tahini sauce, beet tahini sauce, and preserved lemon and basil tahini sauce, each which can add spice and brightness to so many dishes. After spending over a decade living in Los Angeles, the abundance of the city’s amazing Korean food and ingredients started making their way into my cooking. One night, I wanted to spice up my tahini sauce and a container of gochujang caught my eye. Gochujang is a spicy, sweet red pepper paste that is made from 22 Passover 2019
fermented chilis, glutinous rice and soy. It is ubiquitous in Korean cooking as a base for condiments, sauces and soups. You can find it in many grocery stores (sometimes even at Trader Joe’s) or at any Asian market. The first time I used it with tahini I mixed in a spoonful, and thinned the mixture with water. It took seconds to make, was a big hit at the table, and now I can’t live without this simple Korean-influenced tahini sauce. It’s especially good drizzled on crispy tofu or sauteed string beans. Beet tahini sauce combines the earthy sweetness of roasted beets with the rich nuttiness of tahini. This sauce turns bright pink from the beets and livens up falafel, grilled chicken or simple roasted vegetables. The last sauce combines tahini with a popular North African ingredient: preserved lemon. The strong citrusy floralness of the preserved lemon mellows with the addition of tahini, and the aromatic minty anise of the basil heightens the sauce and makes it a complex addition to anything it tops. I use it as a dressing or dip for fresh veggies, as a topping on roasted garlicky potatoes, or even spooned over crispy spinach and feta bourekas.
These recipes are guides to play around with. You can add or leave out garlic in any of these, cumin would be a nice addition to the beet sauce, and yogurt would go so well with the preserved lemon and basil. If you like your sauces thicker, add more tahini. If you like them thinner, add more water. Taste and adjust each to your liking, use immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week, and make sure to drizzle liberally.
Spicy Gochujang Tahini Sauce: 1/2 cup tahini • 1/2 cup water • 1 tablespoon gochujang paste (Korean red pepper paste), or to taste • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste Beet Tahini Sauce: • 1 medium cooked beet, quartered • 1/2 cup tahini paste • 1/3 cup water, or more if desired • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ a lemon) • 1 clove garlic, finely grated • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Preserved Lemon and Basil Tahini Sauce: • 1/2 cup tahini paste
• 1/2 cup basil leaves (packed) • 1/2 cup water • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon) • 1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon • Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the spicy gochujang tahini sauce: Add the tahini, gochujang and soy sauce to a bowl. Slowly whisk in the water, a little at a time, until the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking: add more gochujang for spiciness, more soy sauce for saltiness, and more or less water for consistency. To make the beet tahini sauce: In a food processor or blender, combine the beet and tahini. Pulse until roughly combined. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the water and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice, grated garlic and salt. Taste and adjust to your liking. To make the preserved lemon and basil tahini sauce: In a food processor or blender, pulse to combine the tahini, preserved lemon and basil leaves. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the water and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Stop Blaming Women’s Clothing for Men’s Bad Decisions
By Avigail Gordon
A model wearing leggings at Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
(JTA) — Religious women are no strangers to having their clothing and bodies policed. We hear all the time about how we need to protect ourselves from assault and protect the men around us from our sexuality by keeping ourselves modest and covered up. In a recent letter to the editor of the Notre Dame Observer, Maryann White provides a perfect example of this problem as she begs young women to solve what she called “the legging problem … that only girls can solve.” The letter is a greatest hits compilation of the problems with the obsession over women’s clothes. It starts with White mournfully describing seeing young women wearing leggings while at Mass. “I’m fretting both because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you,” she writes. Throughout the piece, White seems unaware of the irony that her lengthy description of these women’s bodies and “blackly naked rear ends” sexualizes and objectifies them more than donning comfortable pants ever could. White’s focus – not the women’s sartorial choices – makes the body inherently sexual as opposed to inherently functional. In her letter, White sees an essential difference between the “unsavory” guys and the “nice” guys. The “bad guys” enjoy looking at and will assault women who look sexy, and the “good guys” won’t assault women (as long as they don’t have to notice that the women are sexy). The difference is illusory, though, because both categories place the responsibility for preventing assault squarely on the women. Male self-control has no place in this formulation. The only choice THE
men are given is to be predators or pretend women’s bodies do not exist. White sees wanting to “find a blanket to lovingly cover your nakedness and protect you — and to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!” as a kindness. But this is where her argument becomes truly dangerous. The implication is that men need to be protected from the overwhelming sexuality of a woman’s body, based on the mistaken premise that sexual assault happens when one person is overwhelmed by the sexual desire they feel for another. In reality, sexual assault happens when one person sees their right to act on their desire as absolute, without reference to the other person’s wishes. It happens when one person’s humanity is seen as more real than another’s, so that the victim becomes a sexual object rather than a person whose interest and consent is equally necessary. As a clinician who has studied and worked extensively with trauma, I see this line of thinking as particularly toxic. After a sexual assault, many survivors torture themselves with self-blame. It’s not uncommon for the survivor to obsessively review the event to identify how she caused it or failed to prevent it. The social tendency to blame victims, often by focusing on what a woman was wearing when she was assaulted, reinforces this symptom and its painful impact. These survivors experience flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks and repetitively relive the event in their minds, often for years. In fact, part of the treatment for trauma is placing the blame back where it belongs – squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator. For White, it is the women wearing leggings who are the problem, the women insisting on being sexual or being attractive around these men. They make it “hard on Catholic mothers to teach their sons that women are someone’s daughters and sisters. All women should be viewed first as people — and all people should be considered with respect.”
It’s a striking formulation. It takes all personal responsibility away from men – to choose to treat all people with respect, no matter what their sex or gender, and no matter what they’re wearing – and places all of it on women – to negate their own comfort and desire for personal expression to ensure they aren’t somehow too arousing and therefore partially culpable if someone chooses to assault them. It places women’s inherent personhood after their roles as daughters and sisters. It undermines the request for acknowledging agency and offering respect even as it attempts to make it. It also implies that these women would somehow be less fully people – or at least
harder to see that way – simply because they were wearing something comfortable that happens to also be form-fitting. Telling women what to wear won’t prevent them from being assaulted, but teaching our children of both genders to respect other people and their bodies might. Sexual urges are powerful but can be controlled, and we must teach our children that those urges should never be imposed on another person, teaching them that their bodies aren’t shameful might, too. Instead, we keep doubling down on the need to hide bodies away lest they prompt their own assaults. It seems to me that’s a way bigger problem than leggings.
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An Indigenous and Jewish Photographer Wants to Tell Her People’s Story Before It’s Too Late By Josefin Dolsten
In “An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance,” Kali Spitzer photographed indigenous and mixed race women and gender non-conforming people. (Kali Spitzer)
(JTA) — At the age of 20, Kali Spitzer left her home in Victoria, British Columbia, to travel north and immerse herself in the culture of her father, who is a member of the Kaska Dena, a First Nations people native to Canada. For around seven months, she lived among her relatives in and near the area of Daylu, where she learned traditional skills such as beading, hunting, fishing, trapping and tanning moose and caribou hides. “It was so beautiful and challenging and humbling,” the 31-yearold photographer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a phone interview from her home in Vancouver. “And also there was a lot of sadness too that came from it, not being able to grow up immersed in my culture.” Spitzer, who until then had primarily been raised by her Ashkenazi Jewish mother, came back inspired and eager to teach others about indigenous culture. She found that the best way to do so was through a longtime passion of hers: photography. As part of a series titled “An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance,” Spitzer photographed
a diverse range of women and gender non-conforming people, many of whom are either indigenous or mixed race. Images from that series have been exhibited in internationally — including in Canada, the United States, England and Germany — and were recently featured in National Geographic. In exhibition, the large-scale photographs are accompanied by voice recordings of the subjects telling their stories. “The main objective is to make a safe space where we’re seen and heard, and I hope through doing that maybe some people would come into space that they wouldn’t usually and have a really human connection with the people in the images,” she said. Spitzer’s project explores the challenges of being mixed race. “Being Jewish and native, [I was] always having people tell me that HB-JWLGHT-4.9x6.4.pdf 1 1/30/19 they don’t think I look native, or things like that, or just my identity
constantly being questioned,” she said. “Knowing that other people go through that too, I think it’s really important to show how diverse we are and that we all fit in, in some context.” Though Spitzer has mostly focused on her indigenous roots in her work, she also hopes to document her Jewish heritage in future projects, including by traveling to where her relatives came from in Romania and Poland. She says that even when her work does not directly address Judaism, it always lingers in the background. “I think my Jewish ancestry informed me as a human, so therefore [it informs] everything that I do,” she said. The Vancouver-based artist believes it is important to capture the stories of indigenous people before elders die — and with that, 2:34 PM culture. their “I feel there’s more of an urgency
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for documenting our culture, our language and our people, because we’re kind of in a race against time in losing our knowledge,” she said. As a young child, Spitzer’s father was taken away from his family as part of a Canadian government policy in which indigenous youths were sent to church-run residential schools. The goal of the program, which ran until 1996, was to assimilate native children into Canadian society. “Children were forcibly removed from their homes and the land and placed in these really abusive institutions where the goal was assimilation and to kill the Indian and assimilate into white, religious culture,” Spitzer said. “I think that a lot of the time my work focuses more on that because it’s so recent.” Spitzer has been doing photography since the age of 12. During her studies in Santa Fe at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Santa Fe Community College, she became interested in alternative photography processes. She started using a wet collodion, or tintype, process, in which a a piece of metal or glass is coated with lacquer or enamel to develop a photograph. The result is a weathered, antique-looking image. In her work, Spitzer’s subjects appear almost illuminated, against a darker, sometimes splotchy or uneven background. “There’s a lot of different variables to it and it’s definitely possible to get a really clean image, but I also like those variables and not really knowing how it’s going to turn out,” she said. Spitzer said growing up Jewish and Kaska Dena came with heavy baggage. “There was definitely a lot of challenging parts of it, to come from two pretty oppressed people in different ways,” she said. But she sees no conflict between her roots. “I thought they were always both complementary of each other.”
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‘Call Your Mother’: A New Podcast Gets Real About Parenting While Jewish By Josefin Dolsten
Jordana Horn, left, and Shannon Sarna are the hosts of a new podcast about Jewish parenting. (Marissa Roer)
NEW YORK (JTA) — Jewish mothers have been the punch lines of one too many jokes — from the waiter who asks a table of Jewish women if anything is alright, to the one about how many Jewish mothers it takes to change a light bulb (answer: “Don’t bother. I’ll sit in the dark.”). A new podcast takes a different approach to Jewish parenting. “Call Your Mother,” which was released last month, aims to celebrate Jewish moms but also to be honest (and funny) about the challenges of 21st-century parenting. The podcast is produced by the Jewish parenting site Kveller and hosted by writer and lawyer Jordana Horn and Shannon Sarna, editor of the Jewish food site The Nosher. Kveller and The Nosher are both published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s parent company, 70 Faces Media. Each week, Horn and Sarna invite a notable Jewish parent — guests have included the Israeli expat chef Einat Admony, writer Emily Gould and feminist activist Rachel Sklar — to discuss topics ranging from addiction to antiSemitism to sex. JTA asked the co-hosts about the story behind the podcast and their favorite moments thus far. JTA: How did you come up with the idea for the podcast? Jordana Horn: Before “Call Your Mother,” I felt there was a real vacancy in podcasts for one like this. I wanted to focus on candid conversation between Jewish parents, getting down to earth and real with their unique joys, struggles, frustrations and thoughts both as parents and as Jews. I’ve written essays for Kveller for years, but a podcast is a particularly fun, engaging and dynamic medium. Shannon Sarna: While the podcast wasn’t my brainchild, there were two big reasons why I was so excited: 1, podcasts are a form of THE
media parents actually have the time to engage with, and 2, I really want to provide parents forums to have honest conversations about the difficulty and demands of parenting, the realness: the good, bad, ugly, challenging and the wonderful, too. But not a sugar-coated, Instagram version of parenting. We connect with one another when we share our truths. We disconnect and we do a disservice to ourselves and our peers by only sharing the moments that are “perfect.” What’s the story behind the name? Did you consider any other names? Horn: Originally we considered “Because I Said So.” Not only was it not really right — while it is funny like we are, it’s a little too bossily prescriptive — but it also actually was already the title of a Christian dad podcast! While we assume we have a different audience, we went back to the proverbial drawing board and asked around for ideas. We got some great ideas, and we got some crummy ones. My friend, journalist Sarah Wildman, proposed “Call Your Mother,” and it really struck the right note. If you could choose anyone, dead or alive, to be on the podcast, who would it be and why? Horn: Actually, I got my choice! My mom is on the podcast every week, dispensing solicited unsolicited hilarious advice when we call her. She is a grandmother of 14, has a Ph.D. in Jewish education and is the best human I know. Even when I’m not recording the podcast, I call her about five times a day, so this is very efficient for me. Sarna: Well not to be Debbie Downer, but it would be amazing to interview my own mother, who is dead. But a close second would be Madeleine Albright for so many reasons, but mostly because she dedicated the years after getting married solely to raising her family. Then she went on to literally change the world. That transition is fascinating to me and really speaks to a lot of challenges I hear from other working moms today — how do we balance these intense years of parenting with our larger professionals goals. We can’t do it all at once. And Madeline’s own family histo-
Kveller ry, including their Jewishness, is also fascinating. And I wouldn’t be too upset if the “Notorious RBG” wanted to grace us with her holy presence. Talk about absolutely inspiring Jewish role models who are parents and who have accomplished so much. Now that I have named Madeleine Albright and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I might retract my answer about my own dead mother. Sorry, mom. How would each of you describe yourselves as a mother in three words? Horn: Jewish (with all the connotations that that carries with it). Loving. Empathetic. Sarna: Loud, loving, feeding. What’s your favorite moment from the podcast so far?
Horn: I’m going to answer with an episode rather than a moment — although I always enjoy kibitzing with Shannon. I truly loved having Jen Simon, a mom of two who became addicted to opioids, as a guest. She was extremely open about her struggle, and I left that episode doing a mental fist pump: yes! Because that kind of conversation was exactly why I wanted a podcast. If you do it right, you can give the listener’s empathy and compassion muscles a workout, and that’s just the best. Sarna: Blurting out to Judy Gold, “My dead mother loved you!” And she responded, “I have a dead mother, too!” I felt like we really connected.
How an Italian Earthquake in 1570 Created the First Modern Orthodox Jew By Henry Abramson
Images from a German broadsheet describing the Ferrara Earthquate of 1570. (Wikimedia Commons)
NEW YORK (JTA) – Azariah de’ Rossi was an entirely unremarkable Italian Jew in his late 50s when the earth shook beneath his feet in the great Ferrara earthquake of November 1570. Narrowly escaping the collapse of his home that Shabbat night, he and his family sought refuge with other survivors, Jews and Christians alike, in open fields and even aboard boats on the Po River. His encounter with Christian scholars in the aftermath of the earthquake convinced him to write a religious book, inspired by the earthquake, that described the majesty of the God’s universe. The resultant 700-page magnum opus, titled “The Light of the Eyes,” caused an intellectually seismic event whose aftershocks would reverberate for the next 500 years: Without realizing it, Azariah de’ Rossi had essentially created Modern Orthodoxy. According to my colleague at Touro College Rabbi Dr. Zev Eleff, who literally wrote the book on Modern Orthodoxy, it is “a movement that inspires a life that is halakhically legitimate, inspired by the promise of Religious Zionism and animated by the best of modern wisdom and culture.” (Halacha is Jew-
ish religious law.) It would take a few centuries to flourish into a fullfledged movement (especially the religious Zionism part), but de’ Rossi’s approach to Judaism was pretty radical for the 1500s. For example, de’ Rossi was broadly inclusive of all wisdoms, regardless of their source. Elements of this orientation are evident in isolated works of Jewish physicians such as Maimonides, but de’ Rossi was much more radical, consulting controversial Jewish thinkers like Philo and Christian sources like Augustine. A child of the burgeoning rationalist humanism of the 16th century, he saw the nondenominational advancement of human wisdom as a garden of intellectual delights, open to visitors of all persuasions and welcoming whatever beneficial seeds might be planted there. Many would toil in that garden over the next five centuries, but Azariah de’ Rossi was arguably the first to seed the landscape. De’ Rossi was certainly not the first Jew to express pious literary gratitude to God after near-death experience – we’ve been doing that since Moses and Miriam stood and watched the Egyptian forces drown in the sea. What set him apart from his predecessors, however, was the unique infusion of the spirit of the Italian Renaissance into his work. The opening (and best) chapter of his book, titled “The Voice of God,” was a religious-scientific exploration of the nature and purpose of earthquakes. He surveyed the extant knowledge of the phenomenon from a wide variety of non-Jewish sources, folding it into detailed dis-
cussions of biblical passages and rabbinic in a sometimes disjointed and lumpy whole. In his innocence, de’ Rossi did not realize that using the tools of contemporary scholarship from nonJewish sources might represent a threat to traditional Jewish thought. His enthusiastic, almost breathless embrace of contemporary science and the assumption that it could not possibly undermine religious ideology drew the ire of rabbis throughout Europe. He was roundly attacked, for example when he noted how his wife recovered from a salt deficiency, and opined that Elisha the prophet may have used the same strategy to heal a biblical leper. He was forced to apologize for this argument, which suggested that miraculous cures might have this-worldly explanations. For de’ Rossi, the identification of a mundane reason for a supernatural event was merely “bringing nature into the sphere of the miraculous.” The reconciliation of science and Torah, and the recognition of all that is valuable in modern thought and culture in harmony with traditional Judaism, is precisely the root mission of the Modern Orthodox movement. De’ Rossi’s irrepressible intellectual curiosity led him into a wide variety of disciplines – and into even more hot water. While he staunchly defended the inviolate nature of the text of the Torah, he did not refrain from addressing the apparent contradictions between the Talmud and 16th-century science. He personally maintained
steadfast faith in the dictates of Jewish theology and practice, but he recognized the sages of the Talmud as human beings, of necessity limited by the state of knowledge in their times. “We ought not to flatter them against their will,” he asserted, “by stating with our lips what we do not believe in our hearts.” The backlash was immediate and forceful. Italian rabbis issued a ban on his book (although not on de’ Rossi personally, however, because he was well known to be scrupulously observant). The ban, which forbade any Jew to possess even a part of “The Light of the Eyes” without written rabbinic permission, was maintained well into the 17th century. The prolific Rabbi Yaakov Emden suggested that perhaps the Hebrew title Me’or Einayim should be rendered Me’aver Einayim, or “Blinding the Eyes.” However, he held back from banning the book. The debates initiated by de’ Rossi continue to rage in communities from Teaneck to Lakewood, from Bnei Brak to Efrat. On the one hand, Orthodox Jews are subject to what sociologist Samuel Heilman has described as the “sliding to the right,” increasingly seeking to disassociate with contemporary culture, thought and technology. At the same time, writers like Rabbi Nathan Slifkin ignite de’ Rossisized controversies over scientific questions such as the ascent of humanity. The aftershocks occasioned by the publication of “The Light of the Eyes” continue to register on the Richter scale even today.
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Israelis Talk Openly About Money. Why Can’t We? By Rachel Myerson
This article originally appeared on Alma. Ladies, the time has come to squash the squirmy coyness that overtakes us when the topic of money comes up. It’s redundant — we’ve inherited this old-fashioned shame we can’t seem to shake — but there is no legitimate reason we should hesitate to discuss something so integral to our lives. As women we’re coerced into feeling ashamed on the regular about our bodies, our choices, and our voice — it’s enough to deal with without adding money to the mix. But the gender pay gap means we simply can’t afford not to face money talk head on. As a native Brit now living in America, I understand that this is much easier said than done. I’ve never discussed salaries with some of my closest childhood friends, though we’ve witnessed one another’s most humiliating moments and shared our deepest secrets. This isn’t on account of my feelings, however. I’ll talk about money with whomever’s interested — not because I’m so far progressed, but because I recently spent five years in a country where discussing personal finances is as commonplace as chatting about the weather: Israel. I can hazard a few reasons for Israel’s aplomb. For a long time its citizens and government have lived in debt — the Israeli debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio only fell below 60 percent in 2017, hitting the European Union’s benchmark for permissible debt for the first time ever. Shame is futile when your struggles are shared by so many. Secondly, Israel has an almost constant wartime mentality, which cuts through most “first world problems.” And yes, having to curtail your latte-a-day habit to make rent is a first world problem. This plays into my third point: the power of Israelis’ innate chutzpah. Chutzpah bats away superfluous shame conTHE
cerns and inspires self-confidence, which aids open discussion. Most important, Israel is a young country without antiquated class system baggage that decreed money talk was crass. I’m not suggesting you start discussing your bank account with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I had to, and it was tough. Suddenly my salary was an acceptable topic of conversation with my co-workers, at my in-law’s dinner table, and with my beautician while she waxed my underarms. And I’m not hailing Israel as a front-runner in the battle for wage equality — it, too, has a very long way to go. But we can learn valuable lessons from Israel’s treatment of money chat, which contrary to my initial judgment isn’t rude — it’s open. And with this openness comes the gift of transparency. Transparency was a central theme at the talk I attended recently with the goddess that is Aminatou Sow. The businesswoman and cohost of the popular podcast Call Your Girlfriend argued that the only way to close the gender pay gap is to talk in specifics. If we don’t share exactly what we earn, then we’re unable to monitor progress. “The only thing we can give each other,” Sow said, “is information. So let’s just share it.” A 2018 report published by the American Association of University Women revealed that white women earn an average of 79 percent of their white male co-workers’ salaries, but this figure varies massively among industries, states and race — black women earn 63 percent of white men and Hispanic women 54 percent. Until there is wage equality, all genders need to seek and share information as required, otherwise we’ll never know what we are owed. Twitter is useful for doing just that. One woman shared that the night before a job interview, she asked a white male friend in a similar role what salary he would expect. His response was double her estimate. So start with friends — “I know we don’t usually discuss money, but I would really appreciate your help in understanding my worth” — then move onto co-workers. If you don’t have access to the rele-
Israel Under Radar
vant information before a job interview, asking “What is the range for this position” helps to clarify what you’re dealing with. Seeking out open conversation with fellow writers has hugely improved my experience and helped me understand my worth as a freelance journalist. I work from home, alone, so social media has allowed me to build a virtual network of contemporaries. This network has given me invaluable advice — including how to negotiate my rates, a means to cross-reference the rates I’m offered and
the importance of communicating assertively. Once you’ve got the hang of frankly discussing your salary, why not take a leaf from Israel’s book and share your rent, food budget and shopping habit in gory detail? It can shed light on where you’ve scored a deal or prompt you to evaluate your spending. You might even learn a thing or two from that financially savvy pal with the bulging savings account. They say money talks, but talking about money sings.
INFLUENZA Continued from Page 20
school to accept their religious exemption to vaccines. Reached by phone on Thursday, Sholom Laine would not comment because the legal battle is ongoing. Joseph Aron, a Brooklyn attorney focusing on religious and constitutional issues, said that according to New York state law, the school was well within its rights. “There’s no obligation for a school to accept a religious exemption,” he said. “The school has total autonomy. The school doesn’t have to bend backwards and accept me if I have a medical reason to not get vaccinated.” In New Jersey, the state government is advancing a bill to remove the religious exemption. Shain says most parents are happy that the school no longer accepts religious exemptions. But he says he hears from parents on the other side as well. “Most parents want that we don’t accept religious [exemptions] and we should be vaccinated,” he said. “Some parents are saying why do we have to vaccinate?”
“I got a number of calls from parents that want to place their children in a school that still took a religious exemption,” he said. “God forbid we would end up with a concentration of non-vaccinated kids, something I would not allow.” Children with legitimate medical exemptions also depend on “herd immunity” — that is, being in a population where others are vaccinated. Schools in haredi areas in Brooklyn have taken measures to stem the measles outbreak. In December, the New York City Department of Health banned unvaccinated kids from Brooklyn yeshivas after haredi neighborhoods in the borough experienced 39 measles cases within two months. Schools had also independently barred unvaccinated kids, leading in one case to legal action. After their child was kept out of Oholei Torah, a Brooklyn yeshiva, Sholom and Esther Laine sought an injunction last year that would force the
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The Jewish Light 2019 Passover Guide