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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania DECEMBER 5, 2013
VOLUME XI, NUMBER 24
On Israeli religious reforms, Naftali Bennett still figuring out road map By Uriel Heilman NEW YORK (JTA) – Naftali Bennett doesn’t like to waste time. In the eight months since he took over three Israeli ministries – religious services, economy, and Diaspora and Jerusalem affairs – Bennett has pushed through legislation to give Israeli couples more freedom in choosing which rabbi officiates at their wedding, worked with coalition partner Yair Lapid to lop $11 billion off Israel’s budget and fast-tracked a resolution to the showdown over women’s prayer at the Western Wall. On this last achievement, Bennett managed an end run around the debate over a controversial compromise proposal by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky by ordering the construction of a platform for egalitarian services adjacent to Robinson’s Arch, an archaeological site at the southern edge of the wall. “The guy came and said, ‘Well, let’s bring it to government for approval.’ I said, ‘No, just go build the thing,’” Bennett recalled. “Within six days, it was up and now we have an egalitarian pluralistic plaza. Everyone can go, no questions asked.” But on some of the other issues considered crucial to American Jewish advocates of religious pluralism in Israel – establishing civil marriage, granting state salaries to nonOrthodox rabbis, and recognizing Reform and Conservative conversions – don’t expect Bennett to rush into things, if at all. “When you talk about marriage, when you talk about conversion, it’s much more sensitive,” Bennett told JTA. “I do want to set expectations: I won’t go all the way. It’s going to be a fine line of balancing everyone’s positions. These are very, very delicate issues. It’s going to be a very slow process.” In a wide-ranging interview on November 15 at JTA’s offices in New York, Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party, talked about his plans for religious reforms, what sort of Iran deal Israel might be willing to accept and how Israel’s “start-up nation” ethos could be extended into good works projects overseas. He also described how his approach to religious pluralism was influenced by his personal experience. The Israel-born son of American immigrants from San Francisco, Bennett, who is Modern Orthodox, moved to New York in 2000 shortly after marrying his “totally secular” Israeli wife, Gilat. It was in Manhattan that Gilat first began attending synagogue – a beginner’s service at Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side. “We had to fly to New York from Israel for my wife to get closer to Judaism,” Bennett said. “Here’s an area that I think Israel can learn a lot from American Jews. This no-questions-asked approach – I loved it,” he said. “I want to import it, albeit cautiously.”
founded in his 20s, Cyota, was sold for $145 million when Bennett was 33. Bennett said his combat experience during the Second Lebanon War of 2006 changed his career trajectory, propelling him into politics. He worked as Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff for a couple of years, returned to the world of technology to run another company (Soluto, which was sold reNaftali Bennett said his wife, Gilat (on right), only drew cently for approximately $100 closer to Judaism when the couple lived in New York. million), led the Yesha Council of Israeli settlers and decided (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images) to run for the Knesset. Stunning the Israeli political estabBennett says his approach to religious reforms is governed by three considerations: lishment with his meteoric rise, Bennett the changes must be good for Israel, done transformed what had been a moribund in discussion with the relevant constituen- political party with three Knesset seats and cies and cannot contravene Jewish law, or a constituency that was mostly Orthodox halachah. Some Orthodox rabbis say merely – a legacy of Jewish Home’s origins as the enabling egalitarian prayer, as Bennett did National Religious Party – into a broaderby building the Kotel platform, violates based nationalist party that captured 12 halachah. Bennett said he’s still figuring seats in last January’s elections. Bennett quickly formed an alliance with out where his red lines are. “Any move by any Jew that gets him closer Lapid, the other rising star in Israeli polito Judaism, to our heritage, is a good thing,” tics, whose newly founded Yesh Atid party Bennett said. “At the same time, there is a captured 19 Knesset seats. Together, the two value – notwithstanding the disagreements forced their way into Netanyahu’s coalition – there is a value of having, on an official government, sidelining the haredi Orthodox parties, which were left in the opposition level, let’s say, lines that we don’t cross.” It’s not clear how much wiggle room for the first time in years. “This was a tactical alliance, but it grew that leaves Bennett on such issues as nonOrthodox conversions or Conservative and into something that today is more profound,” Reform weddings that do not conform to Bennett said of his relationship with Lapid, halachah. He has made clear he opposes who is now finance minister. On their work civil marriage legislation, though he says together cutting Israel’s budget, Bennett said he wants to find some kind of solution for he and Lapid jumped off the proverbial cliff couples who have no ability to marry under together, like “Thelma and Louise.” Bennett says economic issues occupy 60 Israeli law, such as interfaith couples. “This is perhaps one of the most sensitive percent of his time, with the balance divided issues that we’re only starting to learn and between his other two ministerial portfomap out what we can do,” he said. “What lios, being a member of the inner security we don’t want to do certainly is encourage Cabinet, politics and life. Bennett, 41, has couples that can get married according to four children under the age of 10. One of his main economic projects is halachah and encourage them to get married getting haredi Orthodox Israelis to work. in a different way.” Bennett is promoting a bill that would grant Bennett said he met for the first time two weeks ago with coalition partners Lapid, a four-year reprieve from the military draft Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua party and Avigdor to 50,000 haredi Israelis if they enter the Liberman of Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu to dis- workforce. He wants to complement this cuss areas in which they can push religious with a $142 million program to train the reforms. Bennett already is promoting a bill haredim for the labor market, incentivize that, as with marriage, would make it easier them to work and employers to hire them. Bennett wants to do something similar for Israeli non-Jews to convert to Judaism by enabling them to choose any rabbinical for Israeli-Arab women, who have relatively low participation rates in the labor force. court in the country for their conversion. Though Bennett maintains a hard line on Though he leads Israel’s fourth-largest political party, Bennett is a relative newcom- Palestinian issues – he opposes Palestinian er to the Israeli political scene. Following statehood – he says it hasn’t really come up his army service in the elite Israeli Defense much. Few in the current Israeli government Forces unit Sayeret Matkal and law school, seem to believe the U.S.-brokered peace Bennett became a successful software talks between Israel and the Palestinians entrepreneur. The technology company he will bear significant fruit.
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The primary regional issue that preoccupies Bennett is Iran. He recently spent time in Washington lobbying U.S. lawmakers against easing sanctions pressure on Tehran during the current negotiations, arguing that only economic pressure will prompt the mullahs to agree to a deal. “We need to create an either-or situation,” Bennett said. “Either you have an economy or you have a nuclear program.” He also praised the Obama administration for being a “very good friend of Israel” and hailed what he called a “quality leap in defense ties” between the two countries. But what Bennett seems most excited about is what he views as a historic opportunity for the current Israeli government to tackle domestic issues. “I call it the 70-70 rule: Seventy percent of Israelis agree on 70 percent of the issues, but we spend most of our time on the 30 percent,” he said. “So this time, no, we’ll do the 70 thing.”
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A look at the American Joint The oldest Jewish site in North An international book fair honors Distribution Committee and the America is gearing up for its 300th Israel; Jewish parents fear putting PLUS programs it supports worldwide. anniversary celebration. kids in French public schools; more. Opinion...........................................................2 Story on page 8 Story on page 11 Stories on page 15 D’var Torah.................................................10
THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
a matter of opinion How the United States fans the flames of Mideast conflict By Edwin Black (JTA) – As the current round of IsraeliPalestinian peace talks flounder and seek to regain momentum, many are wondering what America can do with its prodigious economic resources to encourage peace and reconciliation between the parties. For this reason, it may astound many that American taxpayers already are deploying significant dollars in Israel not to pay for peace, but to fungibly fund terrorism. Each year, U.S. aid and financial programs fungibly fund terrorist salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority. For the past half decade or so, the level has reached hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The fact that the Palestinian Authority devotes much of its fiscal resources to rewarding terrorists with generous salaries is an astonishing financial dynamic known to most Israeli leaders, Jewish media editors and Western journalists in Israel. But it is still a shock to most in Congress, who are unaware that U.S. money going to the Palestinian Authority is regularly diverted to a program that systematically rewards terrorists with cash benefits. Equally astonished are the voters whose money is being used in this fashion. These transactions squarely violate American laws prohibiting U.S. funding from directly or indirectly benefitting terrorists. More than that, such monies grandly incentivize murder and terror against innocent civilians. Here’s how the system works: When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, the convicted terrorist automatically receives a
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generous salary from the Palestinian Authority. The salary is specified by the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner and administered by the P.A.’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. A Palestinian watchdog group, the Prisoners Club, ensures the P.A.’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a priority expenditure. This means that even during frequent budget shortfalls and financial crisis, the P.A. pays the terrorists’ salaries first and foremost – before its other fiscal obligations. The Law of the Prisoner narrowly delineates just who is entitled to receive an official salary. In a recent interview, Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser read aloud the definition: “A detainee is each and every person who is in an Occupation prison based on his or her participation in the resistance to Occupation.” This means crimes against Israel or Israelis. Nasser was careful to explain, “It does not include common-law thieves and burglars. They are not included and are not part of the mandate of the Ministry.” Under a sliding scale carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism, the longer the prison sentence – and, consequently, the higher the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of nearly $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated from three to five years are paid about $560 monthly – a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Even greater acts of terrorism, punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month. These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for the compensation. The law ensures the greatest reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism. In the Palestinian community, the salaries are no secret – they are publicly
hailed in public speeches and special TV reports. From time to time, the salaries are augmented with special additional financial perks. For example, in 2009, a $150-perprisoner bonus was approved to mark the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas also directed that an extra $190 “be added to the stipends given to Palestinians affiliated with PLO factions in Israeli prisons this month.” Reporting on the additional emolument, the Palestinian news service Ma’an explained, “Each PLO-affiliated prisoner [already] receives [a special allocation of] $238 per month, plus an extra $71 if they are married, and an extra $12 for each child. The stipend is paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) each month.” About 6 percent of the Palestinian budget is diverted to prisoner salaries. All the money comes from so-called “donor countries” such as the United States, Great Britain and Denmark. Palestinian officials react with defiance to any foreign governmental effort to end the salaries. Deputy Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein declared: “If the financial assistance and support to the P.A. are stopped, the [payment of] salaries (rawatib) and allowances (mukhassasat) to Palestinian prisoners will not be stopped, whatever the cost may be. The prisoners are our joy. We will sacrifice everything for them and continue to provide for their families.” Ironically, one Jewish media editor asked this question: If the United States is fungibly funding terrorist salaries with payments to the P.A., is not Israel doing the same when it supplies and transfers cash to the P.A.? The uncomfortable answer is yes. The only difference is Israel does so when it has no choice due to international pressures. That doesn’t change the piercing reality that in America, we pay for terrorism abroad and Israel pays for it at home.
Understandably, many argue that the United States and its allies are in a no-win situation. Unless the West continues to fund the Palestinian Authority, Israel has no “partner for peace,” and indeed Jerusalem itself has strongly advocated that the P.A. is its sole partner for peace. Indeed, without foreign funding, the P.A. would collapse. But by continuing to financially reward the scourge of terrorism, the West ensures a stalemate since terrorism is an institution in the P.A. – judging by the popular prisoner salary law, its priority in P.A. spending, and the enthusiastic social mandate of the Palestinian people who support such terrorist acts and the salaries that arise from them. There is another view that could win. At the moment, Western aid is catering to and bolstering the basest instincts and impulses of the Palestinian people – the burning rage to commit acts of terrorism against Israelis. However, nearly 100,000 Palestinians come into Israeli territory to work side by side with their Jewish colleagues at jobs across the country. They work under equal conditions, equal pay, enjoy equal company outings and advance their Palestinian families through peaceful coexistence and normal employment. If the United States and other Western donor countries abruptly halted all funding of the P.A. – like a slammed door – until the prisoner salary program was eliminated, and conditioned all future funding on joint Arab-Israeli economic and development projects, then the world could give peace a chance. As it is now, peace does not pay and terrorism does. Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the international best-seller “IBM and the Holocaust.” This article is drawn from his just-released book, “Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel.”
In its time of need, repaying a debt to the Philippines By Alan H. Gill (JTA) – As the extent of the catastrophic damage and tragic death toll continues to grow in the Philippines, a particularly heroic piece of history should be recalled by the global Jewish community, which owes a debt to the island nation. Seven decades ago, a Philippine president, a globetrotting Jewish family named Frieder and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, my organization, helped save the lives of more than 1,000 Jews who otherwise would have almost certainly died in the Holocaust. Thanks to their initiative, these refugees were issued rare travel certificates to the Asian country to work as skilled laborers in the Frieders’ cigar factories in Manila – though in reality, few of them had any experience in the industry whatsoever. The audacious operation, seemingly extraordinary today, is the subject of the recently released documentary “Rescue in the Philippines.” At the time that Manuel Quezon admitted Jews to his country, the Filipino president made what seems today like a remarkably prescient statement. “The people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to extend a welcome hand,” he was quoted as saying. We recalled this moment in history recently when we began reading reports
and watching coverage of the impending super typhoon Haiyan – the strongest storm in recorded history – as it barreled toward the Philippines. In anticipation of the impact, JDC’s disaster relief and development staff assembled a contingency plan that went into full effect once news emerged of the death and destruction wrought by Haiyan. As part of our ongoing response to the typhoon, JDC will ship critically important food, shelter, and hygiene and medical supplies – as well as ensure the provision of water and sanitation items and shelter support – through its partners, the Afya Foundation and Catholic Relief Services. JDC’s advance team of disaster relief and development experts headed to the Philippines the week of November 12 to assess damage and needs while consulting with our local/international partners and the Filipino Jewish community to ensure maximum impact for storm survivors. About 30 percent of funds raised will be dedicated to immediate relief for food, water, shelter, medical supplies and care, unless the emergency phase lasts longer because of expanding, critical needs among survivors. The rest will be invested in sustainable local projects that will emerge in the long, slow process of rehabilitation that is sure to come. It’s a formula JDC, which is celebrating its centennial this year, has developed
over decades of efforts in the field, from helping Ukrainians starved by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s to rehabilitating survivors of genocide in Rwanda. And on behalf of the North American Jewish community and with its support, we have over the past decade delivered tens of millions of dollars in aid to victims of natural and manmade disasters in Southeast Asia, Haiti and Japan. These efforts now come full circle, especially for one member of our team who arrived in the Philippines, Danny Pins. In addition to being one of our development and employment experts, Pins’ mother and grandparents were among the German Jews who fled to the Philippines to seek safe haven in 1938. His posting, in many ways a homecoming despite previous trips to the country, is highly symbolic. Today, in the wake of one of the worst storms in history, with perhaps more than 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, we are fully committed to fulfilling President Quezon’s prophecy and returning the favor to the Filipino people. Not just because we are Jews, the heirs to this nation’s life-saving actions, but because we firmly believe in mutual responsibility and the idea that each individual life is valuable beyond measure. Alan H. Gill is the CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
DECEMBER 5, 2013 ■
community news Temple Hesed to hold free concert By Richard Mates Dan Nichols, co-founder of the rock group E18hteen, will be at Temple Hesed for a live solo performance, free of charge, on Sunday, December 8, at 4 pm. Nichols was one of 10 musicians featured in a story about Jewish rockers in the September 4 issue of Time magazine. According to the website, http://jewishrock.com, Nichols
is a product of the Jewish camping movement. He spent 10 summers at the Goldman Union Camp in Zionsville, IN, before receiving his degree in vocal performance at the University of North Carolina. The concert will be Temple Hesed’s reward for winning “50,000 Voices,” a national contest to attract the highest percentage of congregants to sign up for e-mails from the
Bais Yaakov students attended convention in Toronto Bais Yaakov high school students from Scranton recently attended the Bais Yaakov Convention held this year in Toronto. School representatives were Sora Leah Bree, Devorah Krycer and Rachel Laury. The girls traveled with Rabbi Zev Katz and other girls from Norfolk, VA, Baltimore, MD, and Silver Spring. The convention was attended by approximately 850 girls from the U.S., Canada, Russia and Germany. Rebbetzin Rene Tarshish, founder and principal of Mesoras Rochel Seminary in Israel, addressed the attendees as
the keynote speaker. Rabbi Yoel Bursztyn, principal of Bais Yaakov Los Angeles, and others also spoke at the convention. Additionally, the program included various workshops, performances and trips. The theme of the convention was “V’ani Tefilah.” On the way to the convention, the group stopped for lunch at Niagara Falls and from there continued on to Toronto. The convention is held every year in different cities. Next year’s convention will be held in Detroit.
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The small school with the big heart: Thoughts from a BYS student By Devorah Krycer Some people may think that going to a small school is terrifying. The thought of having a teacher who is capable of seeing whether or not you are on the right page of your book is terrible. Having a teacher call on you by name in order to help you on a test is even worse. Being forced to answer half the questions in class because there is only one other student in the classroom may be enough to keep a person out of school. The same people may think that living in a city without a restaurant, pizza shop, or ice cream parlor is possibly so devastating that they would be forced to stay out of the town. Some other people might think that this is impossible. A place like this cannot exist anywhere; it is too ridiculous. The people who think this are very wrong. A small city that fits this very description does exist. This city is called Scranton. Flying into Scranton, the first thing you see is the tiny airport, Avoca. It must be one of the tiniest airports in the country. Here is a story to help you truly understand the Avoca airport: My principal was once driving me to the airport, and, instead of dropping me off, she decided to walk me in to make sure I got off safely. She left her car in the drop-off-only zone and proceeded to walk inside and wait with me in the airport. While we were waiting, one of the security guards walked up to us and said, “Is that your car outside?” My principal answered, yes. The security guard continued to say, “Well, I just want to warn you that if you leave the car there any longer, it will be towed.” After the man left, my principal turned to me and said, “They should be happy that my car is outside the airport! It at least makes it look like people are actually
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism is the political and legislative outreach arm of the Reform Jewish movement in the United States. Its long-serving director is Rabbi David Saperstein, who spoke at the temple earlier this year as another prize in the contest. More than 900 congregations nationwide competed. In lieu of admission fees, donations for the homeless will be accepted by Temple Hesed in the form of money and toiletry items. All donations will be given to the Community Intervention Center in Scranton and distributed to the homeless throughout the area. The family-friendly concert will reserve the front rows for those ages 12 and younger. For more information, call Temple Hesed at 570-344-7201. Temple Hesed is located at 1 Knox Rd. in the East Mountain section of Scranton. Knox Road is the first right turn off Lake Scranton Road.
Thursday, December 19...................... January 2 Thursday, January 2.......................... January 16 Thursday, January 16........................ January 30 Thursday, January 30...................... February 13
here!” That very same day, the seemingly lone airport worker manned the ticket counter, the desk at the gate and then even put on an orange vest and flagged down the airplane. Scranton, too, functions well with a small population. Take our school, for instance: Bais Yaakov of Scranton is made up of eight girls. Even though the school is rather small, Bais Yaakov manages to touch the entire town with its chesed. From cleaning to cooking; from feeding at the Jewish Home to decorating sukkahs; from gardening to waitressing, the tichtige Bais Yaakov girls do it all. Every Friday, Bais Yaakov girls package challot to be delivered to hospitals and assisted-living homes. The girls who deliver the challah are always met with bright smiles on the recipient’s face. But this endless chesed does not stop with the sick or elderly. BYS girls also stretch out a helping hand in assisting new mothers, taking care of their children and keeping house, or whoever may be in need. Because Bais Yaakov is such See “Student” on page 4
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THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
Congregation B’nai Harim celebrated Simchat Torah At left: Members of the congregation recently celebrated Simchat Torah with the reading and rolling of the Torah to the appropriate portion. As members took turns reading and translating the portions read, Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum explained the meaning of the words. A dessert potluck followed. L-r: Kershenbaum read from the displayed Torah as Rose Gelbard and Joe Fisch looked on.
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Members of Congregation B’nai Harim recently celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah.
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email@example.com. Congregation B’nai Harim held a ceremony for Simchat Torah. In the foreground (lr): Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum and Beverly Novick. In the background: Rose Gelbard, Irene Stoltzenberg, Mikhail Levitan, Elaine Goodstein and Meredith Stemple.
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Student a small school, it allows all of the girls to participate in as many different chesed opportunities as needed. Being part of a small school also allows for a very close relationship to form between teachers and students. It is a common occurrence to find girls cleaning their teachers’ houses, babysitting their grandkids, cooking for simchot or just getting together for a long talk. In such a close-knit, small setting, the teachers also have a chance to get to know every girl personally and give her the individual attention she requires in class. One teacher in particular has been heard to say, “In a class of four girls I usually write five different tests.” Another good thing about being in such small classes is that it allows you to benefit from college professors on a one-to-two basis, instead of being lost on a one-to-100 basis. Besides this unusual relationship between teacher and student, there is also an extraordinary relationship between the girls
Beverly Novick (right) prepared to read a Torah portion with Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum (left).
Continued from page 3
in Bais Yaakov. In a school with a large number of students, girls tend to gather with their own types and leave the other girls out. Leaving out the girls who they do not essentially feel a connection with is not necessarily a bad thing. A strong kesher between certain people tends to cause them to gravitate toward some people and not to others. In a small school, this situation is nonexistent. Bais Yaakov of Scranton consists of girls with many different personalities and character traits. If these same girls were put into a larger environment, it is highly possible that they never would have considered even saying hello to the other person, let alone be friends. But, in BYS, the girls are more than friends. The girls are sisters. Even though a school may only contain eight girls, and even though the girls are all so different, a warm-hearted and fun environment can still be achieved, just like at Bais Yaakov of Scranton.
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DIY shechitah: Kosher slaughter in the backyard By Rebecca Spence ASHLAND, OR (JTA) – It’s a crisp fall day in southern Oregon and Josh Shupack, 32, is gently whispering in a chicken’s ear. “We’re going to return your soul to heaven, your blood to the earth,” he says, petting the bird’s bright red comb. “And nourish our bodies with your flesh.” This is what Shupack tells every chicken before he cuts its esophagus and trachea with a razor-sharp blade and holds it by the feet as it bleeds out into the dirt below. Its body quivers and shakes for a minute, black and orange feathers flapping, before it goes limp in his hands. After the birds are cut, he and his sister, Jamina, 26, hang them from a backyard arbor and spend half an hour plucking each one, their bodies still hot. Then the innards are removed and their hearts, gizzards and feet are placed in Mason jars lining a bloodspattered table. A freelance web programmer from San Diego, Shupack is one of a small but growing number of observant Jews who are taking matters of shechitah, or ritual kosher slaughter, into their own hands – literally. Long considered the sole province of rigorously trained Orthodox men, these backyard slaughterers are hoping to liberate kosher meat production from the massive companies that dominate the industry and help kosher keepers forge a closer connection to the animals that nourish them. “I want to empower people to have the experience to learn shechitah,” said Yadidya Greenberg, a Boulder, CO-based animal welfare educator and shochet, or ritual slaughterer. “The point is that I want people to connect with the animals, to connect with death.” Shupack’s interest in kosher slaughter was sparked by the 2008 federal raid on Agriprocessors, then the largest kosher
meat supplier in the United States and long a target of critics concerned about worker and animal abuses in the kosher meat industry. The raid on the Iowa slaughterhouse inspired a small group of dissatisfied Jews to apply the doctrine of do-it-yourself to ritual slaughter. “I realized that all the kosher meat is factory-farmed from the Midwest,” said Shupack, who lives in Ashland with his wife, a cantorial soloist at the local Renewal synagogue, and their 17-month-old son. “And when the Agriprocessors thing happened, it started me thinking.” Shupack soon linked up with Greenberg, one of the loudest voices in the growing chorus of “eco-kosher” Jews, who was organizing a week-long course led by an Orthodox Brooklyn rabbi. Following a class in which he killed 15 chickens and a duck, Shupack studied the trove of Jewish law related to killing animals for consumption. Eventually, he was certified as a shochet for poultry only by Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, the former Chabad rabbi considered the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement. Raised on a kibbutz in the north of Israel, Greenberg, 29, first learned to shecht after he became religious 10 years ago and wanted to establish ethical eating practices around animals. After completing three months of study with Yisrael Landsman, the rabbi who taught Shupack to shecht, Greenberg made it his mission to demystify the process and help others do the same. On his blog, The Kosher Omnivore’s Quest, Greenberg has gained a legion of followers in the Jewish food movement. People contact him on a regular basis wanting to learn shechitah, he says. And it’s not just men. According to Greenberg, more than five women have reached out to him in the past 18 months seeking a rabbi who will teach them kosher slaughter.
But Greenberg doesn’t know where to point them. While there is no specific Jewish law barring women from performing the ritual, and Greenberg believes women have as much of a right to shecht as men, Orthodox tradition is that women do not slaughter. “No Orthodox rabbi will teach a woman how to shecht,” said Tami Berman, who raises chickens in her New Jersey backyard and is planning to teach herself how to ritually slaughter them. “So I’m going to have to just wing it at some point,” she said. A homemaker from Fair Lawn, Berman, 46, recently paid a shochet $100 to travel from nearby Passaic to slaughter just two chickens. She had to do all of the plucking and clean-up herself. “It’s not cost effective,” she said. “I wouldn’t do it again.” While Berman may be comfortable teaching herself to shecht the chickens that roam her backyard, some bristle at the thought. Yitzchok Alderstein, an Orthodox rabbi who teaches Jewish law and ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said it was “risible” that amateurs believe they are capable of deciphering complex instructional texts on religious slaughter. But even some in the small but growing world of ethical kosher meat suppliers frown on the notion of DIY slaughter. Naftali Hanau, who with his wife, Anna, founded Grow and Behold, a New York-based company that distributes pasture-raised kosher meat, says he has “some reservations and questions” about the idea of someone taking a weekend class, then starting to shecht without supervision. Hanau himself underwent a rigorous three-month training process in Brooklyn and Scranton, PA, in which he killed at least 1,000 chickens before he received his first letter of reference toward certification, known as kabala. “We have a very strong tradition of only letting those who are very qualified and trained and regularly checked up on by the
Josh Shupack comforted a chicken before slaughtering the bird in his Oregon backyard on November 6. (Photo by Rebecca Spence)
Josh Shupack removed feathers from a chicken he slaughtered in his Oregon backyard on November 6. (Photo by Rebecca Spence) community’s rabbis do this,” Hanau said. “And I think there’s value in that.” Greenberg, who hopes one day to open a school for kosher slaughter, clearly disagrees – though on one point at least, he and Hanau are in perfect accord. “This is not pickling,” Greenberg said. “This is life and death.”
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THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
Fiddling across the world By Rabbi Rachel Esserman I usually wait until the end of a book review to note which readers might enjoy a particular work. However, for this review, it seems appropriate to offer this information early, if only to save readers time. For example, “Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’” by Alisa Solomon (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company) will appeal to: Theater buffs who should stop reading right now and get a copy of the book. The chapters on the making of the Broadway musical alone are worth the price. Fans of “Fiddler on the Roof,” since this work will reaffirm your love, especially when it shows how the musical and movie have appealed across countries and cultures. Those interested in Jewish culture, because Solomon gives insights into Fiddler’s iconic place in the Jewish American world of the 1960s and beyond. Anyone who might enjoy a well-written, fascinating look at how Sholem-Aleichem’s Yiddish short stories about “the affable dairyman Tevye” were transformed into productions that far exceeded the author’s expectations. I adore reading about the theater – particularly the changes that occur from a show’s inception until its final production on stage – which is why I was eager to get my hands on Solomon’s work. However, she accomplishes far more than an offering of backstage gossip (although
there’s plenty of that to enjoy), starting with SholemAleichem as he began writing for the New York stage and ending with the 2004 revamping of “Fiddler” for a new production in Manhattan. Solomon chose to write about “Fiddler” because of its identity beyond that of a commercial Broadway offering. She sees the show as “a global touchstone for an astonishing range of concerns: Jewish identity, American immigrant narratives, generational conflict, communal cohesion, ethnic authenticity and interracial bridge building, among them.” Even those who condemned the musical – saying it destroyed the humor and satire of SholemAleichem’s short stories – can’t deny that it speaks to a wide audience. After discussing Sholem-Aleichem’s limited success as a playwright, Solomon shows the different forms his Tevye stories took in the decades after his death – from new translations to staged versions to the television broadcast of one theatrical offering. Some productions, particularly by leftist-leaning theater groups, were used to stir up social consciousness, while others appealed to the nostalgia people felt for Old World life. However, many Jews began shying away from their heritage in the 1950s, particularly after Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Un-American Activities Committee in the House of Representatives targeted Jewish performers. According to Solomon, these feelings changed again partly due to
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the success of the movie “Exodus.” Its story of proud Israeli heroes helped make the past safe again by giving “Jewish history in Europe a meaningful role as [a] glorious legacy.” What “Fiddler” gave American Jews was a safe way to look at this past. The show jelled when the writers and directors discovered the focus of the show: a portrayal of “the dissolution of a way of life.” With the opening song “Tradition” setting the theme, the actions showed “the forces breaking down the traditions... from both the inside and the outside. In the first instance – modern children challenging their parents’ staid ways – the generational conflict would make the story universal. At the same time the violent antisemitism of czarist Russia would exert pressure externally.” Solomon notes, though, something was left out of the picture: “Jewish law and religious practice.” “Fiddler” gave Jews “a legacy that could be fondly claimed without making any demands.” For the larger community, it depicted Jews with whom they could sympathize. Solomon talks about numerous productions, with a special focus on the Israeli and British versions, along with a chapter on the making of the film. Two other indepth discussions look at an all-black student version performed in Brooklyn during in the 1960s and a Polish adaptation in the early years of the 21st century. The former section includes information about the heated relationship between blacks and Jews over the New York City school system, while the latter takes place in a landscape devoid of its Jews, most of whom perished during the Holocaust. Interspersed throughout “Wonder of Wonders” is information that will be of particular interest to theater fans, some of which I can’t resist sharing: Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II once optioned a play based on Sholem-Aleichem’s stories, but felt the script needed too much work. When Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the lyrics for show, and Jerry Bock, who wrote the music, first played “Sunrise, Sunset” for Bock’s wife, she started to cry. Harnick would later say that moment was “an early inkling that the show they were making out of sheer love might come to be loved by others.” In 1960, Zero Mostel was run over by a bus. His left leg was spared amputation only after four surgeries. Solomon notes that “he lived in a state of severe, perpetual pain and walked with a cane – except on stage. The moment he came off, the agony rushed in.” The original concluding song, “When Messiah Comes,” was cut not only because several lines could be interpreted as referring to the Holocaust, but because it was deemed too Jewish. For me, the most amazing section of the book is Solomon’s discussion of Robbins, who has been vilified for naming names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. While the author doesn’t excuse his behavior, she makes it understandable. The selfhate he felt about being Jewish and gay forced him to disavow his past. As Mostel, who was blacklisted, proclaimed, “Naming names is not Jewish.” Solomon believes that was the reason Robbins did it: to deny his essential Jewishness. “Wonder of Wonders” ends with an overview of how “Fiddler” has spoken to several generations of Jews: “In the 1960s, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ served as an engine of Jewish acculturation in America. For the next generation of assimilated Jews, it became a sacred repository of Jewishness itself. And for the next generation still, it became part of a multivalent legacy, available as a source of further exploration for those who wish to follow Tevye as he wanders on.” Solomon’s marvelous work makes Tevye’s journey – from the Pale of Russia to the shores of America – come alive.
By Sean Savage JNS.org A team of archeologists has found what it describes as the “oldest and largest palatial wine cellar” ever discovered in the Near East, in the process unearthing “some festive and even psychedelic surprises” about Bronze Age. The cellar was discovered in a ruined palace near the sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel called Tel Kabri. The site itself dates back to around 1,700 B.C.E. and is located near Israel’s modern-day winemaking region in the Galilee and Golan Heights. “We found at least 40 large one-meter tall jugs that all hold at least 50 liters of wine, totaling 2,000 liters,” Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, one of the leading archeologists on the discovery, told JNS.org. Koh, an expert in archeological chemistry and classical studies, said the team, which also included Dr. Eric Cline for George Washington University and As-
saf Yasur-Landau from the University of Haifa, chemically analyzed each of the jugs. They found that the jugs contained traces of tartaric acid and syringic acid, both common in wine. But they included several other ingredients. “Not only did they have wine, they also had a craftsmanship to them. This is not just your normal wine; there is some degree of uniqueness to them,” Koh said. Part of this uniqueness included wine fortified with honey, mint, cinnamon bar, juniper berries, and even special cedar tree resins – possibly giving the wine some psychotropic properties. This is similar to medicinal wine found in ancient Egypt. Koh said that for the most part, the wine and ingredients were locally sourced. “The wine, the honey and the various botanical ingredients all look like they come from the Galilee and Golan region, with the resin oils coming from the famous cedar trees in nearby Lebanon,” he said. See “Wine” on page 10
At right: The ancient wine jugs unearthed at Tel Kabri in Israel. Archeologists describe the discovery as the “oldest and largest palatial wine cellar” ever found in the Near East. (Photo by Brandeis University)
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Dear Friend: PROJECT JOY, through the Scranton Jewish Community Center, was the “brainchild” of a very special woman, RoseBud Leventhal. Although RoseBud has passed on, the project continues in her memory. The monies come solely from private donations. The goal is a simple one. We want every child to experience a special Holiday season. Through your generosity, we can do this. This year in our area the economic situation has worsened. Our gift might be the only one a child receives. Last year, over 75 children benefited with wonderful gifts we purchased from wish lists that we received from Jewish Family Services, the Catherine McCauley Center and Saint Joseph’s Center. In this northeast Pennsylvania region, one out of every three children lives at or below the poverty level. In 2009 we added Children and Youth Services and Children’s Advocacy to our list of needy children and were thrilled that we were able to help even more kids. And, as always, we still visited the pediatric departments of our three local Scranton hospitals to give their patients gifts of cheer over the holidays. Once we were made aware of specific needy families in the area, we were fortunate to have the monies to assist them too. We hope this year to give even more gifts with your help. Each year we receive so many “thank you letters and notes,” which just confirms how extremely vital and special this project has become.This all depends on you! Please send a donation to “PROJECT JOY” in care of the Scranton JCC, 601 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510. Or you can just drop off a new unwrapped toy at the JCC’s office. We will be wrapping the gifts on Thursday, December 12th at the JCC starting at 9:00 am. All volunteers are welcome. Please call Carol Leventhal at 570-587-2931 or 570-586-0241 if you will be able to help us wrap gifts this year. It’s fun and worthwhile!
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THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
UJA campaign highlights
What is JDC? – three names, one mission Commonly known as the Joint and the JDC, its official name is the American Joint Distribution Committee. Whatever the name, this organization’s life-saving mission is the same: to serve the needs of Jews throughout the world, particularly where their lives as Jews are threatened or made more difficult. Since 1914, JDC has served as the overseas arm of the American Jewish community. The JDC sponsors programs of relief, rescue and renewal, and helps Israel address its most urgent social challenges. It is “committed to the idea that all Jews are responsible for one another.” In addition, in times of crisis – natural disasters, war or famine – JDC offers aid to non-Jews to fulfill the Jewish tenet of tikkun olam, the moral responsibility to repair the world and alleviate suffering wherever it exists. JDC adheres to three operating principles: It remains non-partisan and apolitical. It seeks to empower local communities by creating model programs and training local leadership to run the programs. It builds coalitions with strategic partners who ultimately assume responsibility for the programs. The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania splits its overseas allocation dollars between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the JDC. JDC in Europe and how UJA dollars are enhancing Jewish life JDC has been a presence in Europe from the outset of the First World War, helping to rebuild shattered lives and fragile communities. JDC provided aid during World War I, rescued Jews during World War II, cared for survivors in European Displaced Persons camps in the post-war period and has continued to support Jewish life until today – even during the communist years. The Iron Curtain that once separated European Jews is becoming a memory and the general movement is toward regional reunification. A new spirit of openness, cooperation
and a sharing of resources and experiences is taking hold. This presents new opportunities and challenges alongside the continued need to care for the needy. Today, European Jewry comprises the world’s third largest concentration of Jews, after Israel and the U.S., and is a major player in the Jewish world. Over the last few years, the European Jewish reality, in both Western and Eastern Europe, has changed dramatically, affecting both the external and internal environments of the continent’s Jewish communities. Externally, the European Union has expanded and now includes 12 new members from Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, with Croatia and Turkey readying to become members within the next two years. On January 1, Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union. Internally, there is a generational change in Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Now, 18 years after the collapse of Communism, a new generation that has tasted democracy is coming of age and taking the lead in community life. The opportunity for developing communal leadership is supported by potential benefits of property restitution and the prospect of eventual financial independence. And although the road ahead presents some difficult hurdles, which each community will need tackle at its own pace, the conditions in today’s Europe offer enormous possibilities for the future of the continent’s Jewish communities. To complement these changes, particularly significant in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, JDC is working to redefine its operations. Since the post-World War II period, JDC’s role in Western Europe has focused solely on providing technical assistance and community development, building leadership and maintaining selfsufficient Jewish communities. However, in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, JDC’s focus has been on providing services to the needy – primarily Holocaust survivors – while maintaining the overall mission to help revive Jewish communal life in countries that lived under communist rule until the late 1980s.
Quick Reference Guide to
Use this planned giving quick reference guide to help determine the best strategy for achieving your philanthropic and financial goals. For more information or to discuss these planned giving options, please contact Mark Silverberg, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of NEPA, 570-961-2300 (x1) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Your Goal is to:
Then You Can:
Your Benefits May Include:
Make a quick & easy gift Simply write a check now
An income tax deduction and immediate charitable impact
Avoid tax on capital gains
A charitable deduction plus no capital gains tax
Contribute long-term appreciated stock or other securities
Defer a gift until after your lifetime Put a bequest in your will Exemption from federal estate tax on (gifts of cash, specific property, or donations a share or the residue of your estate Receive guaranteed fixed Create a charitable gift annuity income that is partially tax-free
Current & future savings on income taxes, plus fixed, stable payments
Avoid capital gains tax on the sale of a home or other real estate
Donate the real estate or sell it to a charity at a bargain price
An income tax reduction plus reduction or elimination of capital gains tax
Avoid the two-fold taxation on IRA or other employee benefit plans
Name a charity as the beneficiary of the remainder of the retirement assets after your lifetime
Tax relief to your family on inherited assets
Give your personal residence or farm, but retain life use
Create a charitable gift of future interest, called a retained life estate
Tax advantages plus use of the property
Make a large gift with little cost to you
Contribute a life insurance policy you no longer need or purchase a new one & designate a charity as the owner
Current & possible future income tax deductions
Receive secure, fixed income for life while avoiding market risks
Purchase a charitable gift annuity or create a charitable remainder annuity trust
Tax advantages & possible increased rate of return
Give income from an asset for a Create a charitable lead trust period of years but retain the asset for yourself or your heirs
Federal estate tax savings on asset & income tax deductions for deductions for donated income
Create a hedge against inflation Create a charitable remainder unitrust over the long term
Variable payments for life plus tax advantages
Make a revocable gift during your Name a charity as the beneficiary Full control of the trust terms during lifetime of assets in a living trust your lifetime
Today, working in partnership with local communities, JDC strives to serve pressing welfare needs, particularly those of Holocaust survivors and Jewish children, and strengthen communities through innovative programming concepts, networking and exchange. Helping communities toward self-sufficiency in all aspects of communal life is JDC’s overarching aim. Jewish values and Jewish solidarity are its guiding principles; technical assistance and the transfer of know-how and leadership and professional development are its modus operandi in this new Europe. Connections to Jewish life JDC supports Jewish life programs and opportunities throughout Europe. Considered of critical importance are the many unaffiliated Jews in the region, particularly those in the middle generation who grew up in an era when organized Jewish community life was either dormant or suppressed. Regional or inter-community programming is a hallmark of JDC’s work in the region, and this focus will continue to play an increasingly important role in the years to come. JDC currently supports: Jewish Community Centers in Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The Ronald S. Lauder/JDC International Summer Camp in Szarvas, Hungary. Local Jewish summer camps for more than 3,000 participants. Informal Jewish education, seminars such as Limmud Baltics and lectures by leading scholars. Regional youth gatherings, such as Weinberg Black Sea Gesher. Family camps and retreats. Jewish holiday and religious activities. Community development JDC’s community development strategy focuses on fostering lay and professional leadership as well as furthering organizational capacity and communal growth. JDC’s tools include training, institutes for advanced learning, community consultations, networking events and Webbased learning, such as: The JDC International Center for Community Development at Oxford University. Jewishprograms.org. Strategic European Loan Fund (SELF). Property management seminars and training. The Center for Jewish Leadership (Leatid). Buncher Community Leadership Program. Pan-European gatherings, such as the European General Assembly. Innovative community development concepts and models. Welfare JDC continues to provide support for 38,000 Holocaust survivors in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. As these survivors become aged and frail, and are trying to cope with economic and political change, the social services they receive play an increasingly important role. Through the local Jewish communities, JDC provides the care these elderly need to live out their lives in dignity, with knowledge that they are not alone. Communities are assisted in funding programs for Holocaust survivors through restitution sources such as the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), the Swiss Banks Settlement, ICHEIC, the German Government and the Fondation pour la Memoire de la Shoah, who work in partnership with JDC. JDC is also working to transfer more programmatic and financial responsibility to local communities as they become increasingly capable. The following services are provided: Food packages. Meals-on-Wheels. Kosher canteens. Warm homes. Medications and medical consultations. Home care. Winter relief. SOS emergency support. Rehabilitation and respite care. Old age homes. Jewish and community activities. Children in need As part of its Global Children’s Initiative, JDC is assisting Eastern European communities to extricate children in need from the cycle of poverty and allow them to fully integrate into society. In partnership with local communities, JDC has identified more than 1,200 Jewish children in need in the region. In 2012, JDC supported social services to nearly 800 Jewish children in need, providing individual case management, food, clothing and medical support. In addition to basic services, JDC has supported the participation of Jewish children in need in Jewish educational programming. JDC is also providing technical assistance and creating exchange opportunities for communal professionals who work with children and families.
DECEMBER 5, 2013 ■
THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
d’var torah ABINGTON TORAH CENTER
Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: www.jewishheritageconnection.org Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week.
BETH SHALOM CONGREGATION
Rabbi Yisroel Brotsky 1025 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510, (corner of Vine & Clay Ave.) 570-346-0502 • fax: 570-346-8800 Weekday – Shacharit: Sun 8 am; Mon, Thurs. & Rosh Chodesh, 6:30 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 6:45 am; Sat & Holidays, 8:45 am. Mincha during the week is approx. 10 minutes before sunset, followed by Maariv.
BICHOR CHOLEM CONGREGATION/ CHABAD OF THE ABINGTONS Rabbi Benny Rapoport President: Richard I. Schwartz 216 Miller Road, Waverly, PA 18471 570-587-3300 • Website: www.JewishNEPA.com Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. Call or visit us online for our bi-weekly schedule
CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Rabbi Mendel Bendet 570-420-8655 • Website: www.chabadpoconos.com Please contact us for schedules and locations.
CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Allan L. Smith President: Henry M. Skier Contact Person: Ben Schnessel, Esq. (570) 222-3020 615 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 570-253-2222 • fax: 570-226-1105
CONGREGATION B’NAI HARIM
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum President: Alan S. Wismer P.O. Box 757 Sullivan Rd., Pocono Pines, PA 18350 (located at RT 940 and Pocono Crest Rd at Sullivan Trail 570-646-0100 • Website: www.bnaiharimpoconos.org Shabbat Morning Services, 10 am – noon; every other Saturday Potluck Shabbat Dinner with blessings and program of varying topics, one Friday every month – call for schedule.
JEWISH FELLOWSHIP OF HEMLOCK FARMS
Rabbi Steve Nathan President: Steve Natt Forest Drive 1516 Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA 18428 570-775-7497 • E-Mail: email@example.com Friday evening Shabbat service 8:00 pm, Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am.
MACHZIKEH HADAS SYNAGOGUE Rabbi Mordechai Fine President: Moshe Fink 600 Monroe Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 570-342-6271
OHEV ZEDEK CONGREGATION
Rabbi Mordechai Fine 1432 Mulberry St, Scranton, PA 18510 Contact person: Michael Mellner - 570-343-3183
Union of Reform Judaism Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz President: Ken Miller 1 Knox Street, Scranton, PA 18505, (off Lake Scranton Rd.) 570-344-7201 Friday evening Shabbat, 8 pm; Saturday Morning , when Shabbat School is in session, at 11 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF DUNMORE
President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF THE POCONOS
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Dr. Sandra Alfonsi Contact person: Dr. Sandra Alfonsi 570-223-7062 711 Wallace St., Stroudsburg, PA, 18360 (one block off Rte. 191 (5th Street) at Avenue A) 570-421-8781 • Website: www.templeisraelofthepoconos.org E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday evening Shabbat, 7pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am
Accepting responsibility by RABBI MENDEL BENDET, DIRECTOR, CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27 This week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, begins with the words “Judah came near.” Judah approached Joseph and asked that his younger brother, Benjamin, be released so that he could bring him to their father, Jacob. Our sages tell us that Judah was prepared for all possibilities when he approached Joseph, even the possibility of war. Judah was willing to do all that was necessary to free Benjamin and return him to his father. Why did Judah adopt such a strong stance? The answer is that Judah was personally responsible for Benjamin’s welfare, as he explained, “For your servant became surety for the lad.” Judah had promised his father that he would take care of Benjamin and bring him home; thus, he was willing to do anything, even wage battle,
Continued from page 7 The earliest-known wine production dates back nearly 7,000 to 8,000 years in modern-day Iran and Georgia. Archeologists have uncovered numerous ancient wineries in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. Koh said that what makes this find unique, other than its size, is that it provides a “completely different glimpse into ancient feasting and drinking. The find gives us an insight in the cultural and economic aspects of near eastern Canaanite culture in the Middle Bronze Age. For instance the palace, in this case, acted very much like a large household,” he said. The palace itself stood for more than 300 years and covered an area that encompassed 1.5 acres and was two stories high. In previous years, excavators also discovered a banquet hall that could hold more than 500 people. Koh said that the jugs of wine likely belonged to a king or ruling elite, and that they would be used to throw a large communal party for family and local elites. “It looks like they would all be having a really good time there,” Koh joked. As for how the wine would taste, Koh speculated that it might be similar to the Greek wine Restina, which has been produced for thousands of years in Greece and uses pine resins as a preservative. These ancient drinks have also been recreated. The popular Delaware-based beer brewery Dogfish Head is famous for recreating ancient beers based on chemical analysis from archaeological sites, including from the tomb of King Midas. JNS.org asked Koh if his team would be interested in a similar endeavor. “Yes, we would very much be willing to collaborate with anybody,” he said. “As an archeologist, I am curious by nature, I would definitely volunteer to be the first to try it.”
to fulfill his promise. But how could Judah have even imagined that he could win a confrontation with Joseph? Judah and his brothers were few in number. Joseph, by contrast, was the second highest ruler in all of Egypt, with the entire populace of the country under his command. In truth, Judah could never have been victorious in a war conducted against Joseph. Nonetheless, Judah was ready to take even this drastic step should it become necessary. He knew he was responsible for Benjamin and accepted his role as guardian without question. True, Jacob had other remaining sons, all of whom were healthy and sound. But Judah realized that selfsacrifice is required when the life of even one Jewish child is at stake. To save Benjamin, Judah was willing to give up his own life. This contains an important lesson for every Jewish father and mother. When God grants them the blessing of a child, it carries with it a great responsibility. Sometimes it is even necessary for parents to demonstrate self-sacrifice, to make sure that nothing untoward ever happens to even one of their offspring, God forbid. One area in which the greatest efforts must be expended is that of education. Providing a Torah-true education for Jewish children is so important that parents must be willing to demonstrate even the highest levels of self-sacrifice in order to make it possible.
Mishneh Torah on view at Met
The illuminated manuscript of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum through January 5. The 15th-century handwritten copy of the work by medieval scholar Moses Maimonides is being shown in New York for the first time. Created in Northern Italy around 1457, the illustrated Hebrew text includes the eight final books of the Mishneh Torah, or “Repetition of the Law.” The manuscript is illuminated with six large painted panels decorated in precious pigments and gold leaf, and 41 smaller illustrations with gold lettering adorning the opening words of each chapter. The artist who created it is known as the “Master of the Barbo Missal,” after a missal he created for Marco Barbo, Bishop of Treviso. This is his only known work for a Jewish patron. For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org/visit or call 212-535-7710.
Introduction to Belly Dancing Belly dance is a non-impact, weight bearing exercise suitable for all ages. It’s a good exercise for the prevention of osteoporosis in older people. Come and enjoy an introduction to this great exercise under the direction of an experienced dance instructor! Where: Step by Step Dance Studio, 1200 N. Keyser Avenue, Scranton When:
Wednesday, January 29, 6:00 and 7:00PM
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF SCRANTON
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Moshe Saks 918 East Gibson St., Scranton, PA, 18510 (located at the corner of Gibson & Monroe Sts.) 570-342-0350 Fax: 570-342-7250 • E-Mail: email@example.com Sunday, 8 am; Mon & Thurs, 7:15 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 7:25 am; Rosh Hodesh & Chagim weekdays, 7 am; Shabbat Morning Service, 8:45 am; evening services: Sun – Thurs, 5:45 pm; Friday Shabbat and Saturday Havdalah services, call for times.
Registration Information: Fee: $15 per person To register please call 570-344-1186, or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Checks can be made payable to: Jewish Family Service of Lackawanna County Registration & Pre-Payment required
For future programming, check out our website at www.jfsoflackawanna.org
DECEMBER 5, 2013 ■
Gomez Mill House, oldest Jewish site in North America, approaches 300th anniversary By Paul Foer JNS.org MARLBOBO, NY – The oldest Jewish site in North America is not Newport’s famed Touro Synagogue, or any other synagogue. Rather, it is a stone structure tucked away on the west side of the Hudson River, about 60 miles north of Manhattan. Due to its multiple uses and inhabitants over the centuries, the Gomez Mill House – built in 1714 in Marlboro, NY – is one of the best-kept secrets in American Jewish history, and also holds a place in greater American history. With its 300th anniversary approaching, its story may very well become familiar to a much broader audience. “Most Jewish visitors [to the Gomez Mill House] are surprised that the story is not about the Jewish religion or about being Jewish, but about the story of Jewish pioneering success in America and Jewish contributions to the founding of America,” says Ruth Abrahams – executive director of the Gomez Foundation for Mill House, a group of historic-minded citizens and descendants of the families that have owned the property—in an exclusive interview with JNS.org that serves as the first public announcement of the house’s tercentenary celebrations. Luis Moses Gomez came to the Hudson Valley wilderness from Manhattan with two of his sons to expand his trading and commodities business. He built a trading post and a mill next to each other on a fast-flowing creek. Today, visitors can marvel at the original blockhouse trading post’s two-foot-thick stone walls and huge fireplaces at each end. While that original structure has been built up many times with oak floors, massive roof beams, a second story and an attic, it’s not so much the building itself as what went on there throughout the generations that captivates visitor and historian alike. Gomez, born circa 1654, is believed to have been the grandson of Gomez de Salazar, comptroller of the treasury for Spain’s King Philip IV. His father, Isaac, also a royal adviser, was forced by the Inquisition to leave Spain and moved to France, where religious liberty was guaranteed through the Edict of Nantes. Gomez married in France and moved to London with his father and other members
The Gomez Mill House. (Photo by Daniel Case via Wikimedia Commons) of the extended family. After his first wife died, he moved to Jamaica, where many Sephardic Jews had settled, and married his second wife. Five of his six sons eventually married women of the West Indies and lived in America. Records show that Gomez – trader, merchant and pos-
The mill, dam, and bridge at the historic Gomez Mill House. (Photo by Paul Foer)
sibly ship owner – became quite wealthy and, by 1703, he paid taxes in New York City. Papers of “denizenship” granted from England’s Queen Anne in 1705 provided special privileges for him as a non-Christian resident of the colony, including that of owning land without an oath of allegiance to the Crown sworn in the name of the Church of England. In 1714, he purchased 2,400 acres of land and built a fieldstone blockhouse into the side of a hill along a stream that became known as “Jews Creek.” Gomez chose to be near Algonquian Delaware Indians, as well as local residents and travelers heading north, so that he could trade with those groups. But it was timber and lime that drove the industry that he and his son, Daniel, conducted for more than 30 years. Before the Revolutionary War, the Gomez Mill House was purchased by Wolfert Acker, a Dutch American who added a second story, as well as an attic with bricks made from local clay. Acker served as a lieutenant in the New Marlborough Company of Minute Men, chairman of the Committee of Safety and Observation, and Newburgh town supervisor while General George Washington was in the Newburgh area and his army was camped nearby at the Fishkill Depot. After the war, Acker established a landing on the Hudson, with a ferry to cross the river to the town of Wappinger and a packet line to carry freight. In the 19th century, William Henry Armstrong made the Gomez Mill House his family’s home for four decades, adding a kitchen wing, porch and stone walls. The property’s best-known owner in the 20th century was Dard Hunter, a craftsman and paper historian who built a paper mill on Jews Creek that resembled an English country cottage with a thatched roof. He made paper by hand, cut and cast type and hand-printed his own books. Abrahams, the Gomez Foundation for Mill House executive director, tells JNS.org that Jewish visitors to the historic site are “impressed with the presentation of connecting stories” of the house’s five owners over the course of three centuries. The house has “as many motivated visitors as our complex history inspires,” she says. Annually, roughly half of those visitors come from synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, See “Gomez” on page 14
JEWISH FEDERATION OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA
TYPHOON HAIYAN RELIEF FUND
As you know, weeks ago, Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever to strike land struck the Philippines leaving in its wake an estimated 4,800 dead and over two million persons displaced. Jewish communities around the world are opening their wallets and providing financial relief to the Philippines at a pace that may be the third-highest ever for an overseas disaster. On site reports speak of “utter devastation.” There is no electricity in the entire area and no water, and while local emergency food stocks have been distributed, stocks are dwindling. Israel has already sent hundreds of medical personnel to the Philippines and has set up mobile hospitals in the most devastated areas in addition to having flown in tons of food, blankets and the basic necessities of life.
Now it’s our turn to do our part.
Please direct your charitable donation to www.jdc.org or mail to Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), PO Box 4124, NY, NY 10163.
Help us help them!
ÊVisit the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania on the web at www.jewishnepa.org or on Facebook
THE REPORTER â– december 5, 2013
Have you made your 2014 Pledge to the The mission of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania is: To rescue the imperiled, to care for the vulnerable, to support Israel and to revitalize and perpetuate the Jewish communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Yes! I/we want to support this urgent work by joining the Donor Recognition Circle. o I am enclosing a GIFT of $___________________ o I will PLEDGE $___________________ o Please send me information on wills, trusts and planned giving arrangements that pay income for life. o I have included the Jewish federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania in my will or estate plans. o I would like to talk to a Federation representative about a gift. o My employer will match my gift. I will obtain a matching gift form, and forward it to the Federation. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement. Name:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Email:________________________________________________________________________________________ Home Phone: (
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Address:______________________________________________________________________________________________City:_____________________________________________ State:_____________________ Zip:_____________________________ We accept checks payable to: Jewish Federation of NE Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 19510 or call with the below information - 570-961-2300 (ext. 3) For credit card payments: Name on Card_______________________________________________________________________________________ Signature__________________________________________________________________________________________________
o Visa o Mastercard o Discover Card number:___________________________________________________________________Exp. Date:______________________________ Security Code (on back of card): ___________________________________
DECEMBER 5, 2013 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF from the u.s. From JTA
Rally planned on Alan Gross’ fourth anniversary in Cuban prison
Alan Gross’ wife and Washington’s Jewish community are calling on President Barack Obama to prioritize securing his release from a Cuban jail. Judy Gross planned to attend a demonstration at Lafayette Park outside the White House along with officials from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington at noon on Dec. 3, the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment. Joining them were to be other faith leaders and local elected officials. Gross, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. He is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state. At the rally, Judy Gross will read an excerpt of her most recent letter from her husband. “It is clear that only the president of the United States has the power to bring me home,” Gross says in an excerpt of the letter the family provided to JTA. “On behalf of my family and myself, on behalf of every American who might ever find himself or herself in trouble abroad – I ask President Obama to direct his administration to take meaningful, proactive steps to secure my immediate release.” Judy Gross told JTA in an interview that her husband, 64, is depressed and is in chronic pain from arthritis. “The best thing to do is contact the White House,” she said she’d tell people at the rally. “Ask them to do what you need to do to get Alan home.” She would not elaborate except to say that the “president has the power to do what it takes to get him home.” The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return of Cuba five spies currently in prison or on probation in the United States.
White House again pleads for Levinson’s release from Iran
The Obama administration reiterated a plea to Iran’s government to find and free a Jewish man believed to be held hostage for six years. “On March 9, 2007, American citizen and retired FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran,” said the statement issued on Nov. 26 by the White House press office. “Today, Mr. Levinson becomes one of the longest-held Americans in history.” The statement went on to “respectfully ask the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson’s health, welfare and safe return.” The polite plea and the careful insinuation that Levinson was not necessarily being held by the Iranian government reflect the recent warming of U.S.-Iran relations. On Nov. 23, Iran and major world powers agreed to an interim deal to ease sanctions in exchange for freezing some nuclear activity. Levinson, a private detective and former FBI agent from Coral Springs, FL, disappeared from Kish Island while apparently researching a case. He is the father of seven children. The Obama administration last appealed for his release in August.
Poll: Plurality of Americans support Iran deal
A plurality of Americans support the newly brokered deal with Iran, and half believe that the United States should defend Israel militarily, a new poll found. Some 44 percent of Americans support the interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva the weekend of Nov. 23, and 22 percent oppose it, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday showed. The survey also showed that 49 percent of Americans want the United States to increase sanctions if the Iran deal fails and 31 percent think it should pursue further diplomacy, according to Reuters. Twenty percent believe U.S. military force should be used against Iran. The poll found that 63 percent of Americans believe that Iran’s nuclear program is developing a nuclear bomb. Iran says the project is for civilian purposes only. Meanwhile, 65 percent of those polled said that that the United States “should not become involved in any military action in the Middle East unless America is directly threatened”; 21 percent disagreed with the statement. Fifty percent of the Americans polled believe that the United States “should use its military power to defend Israel against threats to its security, no matter where they come from”; 31 percent disagreed with the statement. The poll of 591 Americans was conducted from Nov. 24-6 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Save the Date! The Bais Yaakov Theatrical Production February 8 at 8pm
P l a a z n z et i P is Back Again!
Create a Legacy for our Jewish Future in NEPA TYPES OF GIFTS
Your charitable gifts to the Federation can result in immediate and/or future benefits for you and your family.
PERPETUAL ANNUAL CAMPAIGN ENDOWMENTS (P.A.C.E.) There are considerable tax advantages in establishing a P.A.C.E. gift to the Federation outright or as part of your estate planning. In doing so, you can perpetuate your annual UJA Campaign gift in your name, the name of your family, in memory of a loved one or in celebration of a significant event in your life or the life of another. On average, the annual income normally calculates out to 5% of the amount of your P.A.C.E. endowment. The corpus of your Fund would not be affected, and only the income would be used for the annual UJA gift – in perpetuity. That is, a P.A.C.E. endowment of $100,000 would normally produce an annual gift of $5,000 to future UJA Campaigns.
IMMEDIATE GIFTS OF CASH Cash contributions are deductible as itemized deductions in the year you make the donation(s), up to 50% of your adjusted gross. Excess charitable deductions can be carried forward for up to five years.
GIFTS OF SECURITIES The best stocks to donate are obviously those with increased value. However, depreciated securities are not necessarily unworthy of charitable contributions. In order to preserve the best tax advantages, with regard to appreciated and depreciated securities, please contact the Federation.
MATCHING GIFTS If you work for a company that participates in a Matching Gift Program (see details in this issue of The Reporter), then the company will match your gift to the Jewish Federation. Please check with your Human Resources Department for more information.
GIFTS OF MUTUAL FUNDS Contributing mutual fund shares can provide the same tax advantages as appreciated stocks. Due to the great complexities involved with the transfer of mutual fund shares, please begin the transfer process well before December 31st.
GIFTS OF REAL ESTATE A charitable contribution of property is most attractive when there is no mortgage balance and the property is increasing in value. Based upon the fair market value, you may claim an income tax deduction, avoid all capital gains taxes, and remove that property from your taxable estate. You may transfer real estate to the Jewish Federation at any point, but please consult your tax professional or financial advisor prior to a real estate transaction.
DEFERRED/PLANNED GIFTS Deferred gifts are often called “planned gifts” because they are integrally connected to your financial and/or estate plans. They may range in size from very small bequests to multi-million dollar trusts. They are deferred gifts because, even though they are given today, the Jewish Federation will not realize their benefit until some time in the future. Please contact the Federation for more information regarding various planned giving options.
GENERAL ENDOWMENT FUNDS The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania expresses its gratitude to those who have made a commitment to our Endowment Fund. These very special contributions represent a commitment to maintain a high quality of Jewish life in our region for the decades that lie ahead.
Delicious, homemade, pizza and soup for sale to benefit the Bais Yaakov of Scranton
Wednesday, December 18th
Pickup between 5-6pm at Beth Shalom Synagogue
For further information, please contact Mark Silverberg, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA at 570-961-2300 (ext. 1)
THE REPORTER ■ december 5, 2013
New Season of
Jewish “New Yorkish” world
• Non-Feature Films •
Blessed is the Match - In 1944, 22-year-old Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II. Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy - This entertaining documentary, narrated by the award-winning Joel Grey, examines the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. There are interviews alongside standout performances and archival footage. Constantine’s Sword is a 2007 historical documentary film on the relationship between the Catholic Church and Jews. Directed and produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby, the film is inspired by former priest James P. Carroll’s 2001 book Constantine’s Sword. *Follow Me - The Yoni Netanyahu Story - featuring three Israeli Prime Ministers, Yoni’s ex-wife (for the first time on film) and recently released audio from the Entebbe operation itself. Follow Me brings a rare portrait of Israel’s elite soldiers and their greatest hero to the big screen. Inside Hana’s Suitcase - A real-life Japanese schoolteacher, who appears throughout the film, sparked this entire story by gathering artifacts for a Holocaust educational center she was developing along with a group of girls and boys called The Small Wings. After applying to receive Holocaust artifacts, a large box arrives with a handful of artifacts, including a battered brown suitcase labeled with Hana Brady’s name. The teacher and her students begin searching for the story behind the suitcase. What they discover will surprise you. They wind up unlocking — and showing us in the film — a whole series of deeply moving memories and other related artifacts and photos. Finally, Hana’s surviving brother George travels to Japan to meet the Japanese students. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story - This excellent documentary, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, portrays the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story was shown at the Opening Event for the 2012 UJA Campaign. The Case for Israel: Democracy’s Outpost - Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz presents a vigorous case for Israel: for its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism and to defend its borders from hostile enemies. *The Flat - This gripping autobiographical documentary tells the story of the filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger, who travels to Tel Aviv to clean out the apartment of his recently deceased German-born Jewish grandmother. Goldfinger discovers, while going through her belongings, evidence that his grandparents were good friends with Leopold von Mildenstein, a leading official within the Nazi propaganda agency, and that they remained friends after World War II. He journeys to find out the details of this disturbing revelation. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - As baseball’s first Jewish star, Hammering Hank Greenberg’s career contains all the makings of a true American success story. *Orchestra of Exiles - This riveting documentary tells the story of how Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman watched Jewish musicians being fired from classical orchestras when Hitler came to power. Huberman decided to build a new orchestra in Palestine and encountered many obstacles along the way. He ultimately succeeds and the Palestine Symphony gave its first performance December 1936. (When Israel gained independence in 1948, the orchestra was renamed the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, which remains to this day a world-class orchestra.)
• Feature Films •
Crossing Delancey - This is a warm comedy taking place in New York City. Isabella Grossman desires to rise above her family’s Lower East Side community, but her grandmother has other matchmaking plans. *Fill the Void - Fill the Void tells the story of an 18-year-old, Shira, who is the youngest daughter of her family. Her dreams are about to come true as she is set to be married off to a promising young man. Unexpectedly, her sister, Esther, dies while giving birth to her first child. The pain that overwhelms the family postpones Shira’s promised match. Everything changes when an offer is proposed to match Yochay, the late Esther’s husband, to a widow from Belgium. When the girls’ mother finds out that Yochay may leave the country with her only grandchild, she proposes a match between Shira and the widower. Shira will have to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty. Footnote - The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors who have both dedicated their lives to work in Talmudic Studies departments of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Though the father shuns overt praise for his work and the son is desperate for it, how will each react when the father is to be awarded the most sought after prize, the Israel Prize? This Oscar nominated film will entrance from the start. Good - In an attempt to establish its credibility, the new Nazi government is seeking out experts to endorse its policies and comes across Johnnie Halder’s novel of a husband who aids his terminally ill wife in an assisted suicide. Because of this, the Nazis flatter Johnnie, arranging for high paying and prestigious positions. Never evil, Johnnie Halder is an Everyman who goes along, accepting what he is told without question until he is an unwitting accomplice to the Nazi killing machine. *Hava Nagila: The Movie - Hava Nagila is instantly recognizable and musical shorthand for anything Jewish. But as audiences will discover in Hava Nagila (The Movie), the song is much more than a tale of Jewish kitsch and bad bar mitzvah fashions. In its own believe-it-or-not way, it encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more. The film follows the song from Eastern Europe to Palestine and all the way to America. Hidden In Silence - Przemysl, Poland, WWII. Germany emerges victorious over the Russians, and the city comes under Nazi control. The Jews are sent to the ghettos. While some stand silent, Catholic teenager Stefania Podgorska chooses the role of a savior and sneaks 13 Jews into her attic. Every day, she risks detection — and immediate execution — by smuggling food and water to the silent group living above her. And when two German nurses are assigned to her living quarters, the chances of discovery become dangerously high. This is the true story of a young woman’s selfless commitment and unwavering resolve in the face of war. Noodle (PAL version- can only be played on computer, NOT regular DVD players) - At 37, Miri is a twice-widowed, El Al flight attendant. Her well regulated existence is suddenly turned upside down by an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been deported from Israel. The film is a touching comic-drama in which two human beings — as different from each other as Tel Aviv is from Beijing — accompany each other on a remarkable journey, one that takes them both back to a meaningful life. Operation Thunderbolt - The true story of the Entebbe hijacking and rescue. Operation Thunderbolt was filmed in Israel with the full cooperation of the Israeli government, and is an exciting re-creation of the events of those tense days. We see the full scope of the story, from the original hijacking to the passengers’ captivity in Uganda to the agonized debates at the highest levels of the Israeli government over a diplomatic vs. a military solution. Operation Thunderbolt is the thrilling and true story of how one small country refused to let its people be killed by terrorists and took action to prevent it. People who claim that Israel is a “terrorist state” should see the film and be reminded who the real terrorists are. Orthodox Stance (documentary-2007) - Dimitriy Salita, a Russian immigrant, is making history as a top professional boxer and rigorously observant Jew. While providing an intimate, 3-year-long look at the trials and tribulations faced by an up and coming professional boxer, Orthodox Stance is a portrait of seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support Dmitriy’s rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title. Playing for Time - An outstanding cast brings life to this Fania Fenelon autobiography about a Jewish cabaret singer and other Jewish prisoners whose lives were spared at Auschwitz in exchange for performing for their captors. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Set during World War II, this is the story of Bruno, an innocent and naïve 8-year-old boy, who meets a boy while romping in the woods. A surprising friendship develops. *The Concert - Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. Now a mere cleaning man at the Bolshoi, he learns by accident that the Chatelet Theater in Paris has invited the Bolshoi Orchestra to play there. He decides to gather together his former musicians and perform in Paris in the place of the current Bolshoi Orchestra. He wants a young violinist virtuoso, Anne-Marie Jacquet, to accompany his old Jewish or Gypsy musicians. If they all overcome the hardships ahead, this very special concert will be a triumph. The Debt - Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson star in The Debt. In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost… or was it? The Impossible Spy - Young Israeli husband Eli Cohen is recruited by the Mossad in the early 1960s and sent to Syria. Telling his wife he has a new job that requires extensive business travel, he takes up residence in Syria, where he befriends a high-ranking Syrian government official and provides invaluable information to Israel. On a visit home, his wife pleads with him to leave his job so he can be home more, and his handler tells him he has accomplished enough, but he decides to return to Syria one last time. One day, he learns of an attack on a kibbutz scheduled for that night; he abandons normal precautions in order to warn Israel as quickly as possible and is caught. The Other Son - The dramatic tale of two babies switched at birth, The Other Son creates a thoughtful presentation of what could be a soap opera-type event. Instead, director Lorraine Levy and a wonderful screenplay take the viewer down a very different path, allowing each to come to his/her own conclusions. Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story - Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is an incredibly riveting, Emmy Award-winning, fact-based story about a hero who helped more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. *Just added to the Jewish Federation’s Film Lending Library!
The website And You Shall Tell, http:// andyoushalltell.org, offers an archive of interviews and portraits that seek to explore the “Jewish New Yorkish world.” The site says its goals are to “look at the meaning behind the numbers that reflect declining participation to help community organizations find new ways to engage a changing community with changing needs; focus especially on those who practice, think and identify differently to open up the way we think about what Judaism is and looks like; and use storytelling as a means of empowerment both for those whose voices are not often heard, and by providing the tools for you to record and share your own story or the stories of others.” The site accepts submissions. To learn more, visit the site and click on “your story.”
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other Jewish community groups and Jewish individuals and families. “About 1,500 school children visit us per year, including 900-1,200 from the Newburgh school system third grade, who come to fulfill the New York state requirement for a local history experience,” Abrahams says. “This latter program will be in its 17th year in 2014. The other 1,000 or so visitors come for the American history, Hudson Valley visits, or are paper enthusiasts interested in the Dard Hunter Mill and library exhibit. Our Sunday programs bring in about 500 additional visitors.” For its 300th anniversary celebration, the house is planning a number of events and a fund-raising campaign. “Programs will include guest lectures by such Jewish scholars as [New York University professor] Hasia Diner and [award-winning journalist and author] Andree Aelion Brooks,” she says. “Other special events include a ‘Celebration of Paper Day’ that will bring Dard Hunter III to the site to make paper using the 100-year-old beater in his grandfather’s paper mill, a Paper Sculpture Garden Exhibit and printing on an early 20th-century press.” From July 20-22, the first official Gomez family reunion will be held in New York City and at the Gomez Mill House, with more than 200 Gomez descendants expected to attend from 14 U.S. states and around the world. Abrahams says she is planning a local and national public relations campaign for the tercentenary, with outreach to the countries that trace the Luis Moses Gomez family history – Spain, France, England and Jamaica. Abrahams says that as head of the house’s foundation, she grapples with the challenge of “finding financial security for the site and its needs through the generosity of private donations and grants, and renewed leadership on the Board of Trustees, when there is a need to replace those who pass on or who must leave for other reasons. “All else follows when these are in place: site maintenance, restoration, renovation, improved and expanded exhibits and public information and access, more staff and improved visitor facilities,” she says. The foundation in 1997 restored the Dard Hunter Mill, in addition to the site’s dam and bridge. In 2010, these sites underwent a second major restoration. In 2011, Hurricane Irene swept through the area, washing away part of the road in front of the house and the site’s entire public spaces. The current parking lot has been repaved and other improvements are under way. After nearly 300 years – all starting with a Jew whose family, despite being advisers to the king of Spain, was expelled by the Inquisition – the house remains American history made manifest. “Better than any single house and site in the history-laden Hudson River Valley, the Mill House symbolizes and sums up our regional and national history,” says Harry Stoneback, professor of English at the State University of New York at New Paltz, on the house’s website. “It is a most dramatic and absolutely irreplaceable incarnation of American history.”
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DECEMBER 5, 2013 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
Israel to be honored at Mexico book fair
Israel will be the country of honor at the 27th Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest in the Spanish-speaking world. Israeli President Shimon Peres was to inaugurate the Israel pavilion at the book fair in Mexico, considered the most important in the Spanish-speaking world, on Nov. 30. He was traveling with a delegation of 180 Israeli artists, entrepreneurs and academics, and also had a meeting scheduled with Mexican telecom businessman Carlos Slim Helu. Peres was scheduled to arrive on Nov. 27 and meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The fair, which is the world’s second-largest and runs through Dec. 7, provides an opportunity for Hebrew literature to be translated to the growing Spanish-speaking book market. Last year, 1,928 publishing houses participated in the fair, with more than 700,000 attendees, 256 library agents and 500 media outlets from around the world. Several Israeli writers were to participate including A.B. Yehoshua, Gila Almagor, David Grossman and Zeruya Shalev. The organizer of the fair estimated that after the event 20 new titles will be translated from Hebrew into Spanish. Ada Yonath and Dan Shechtman, both winners of the Noble Prize in chemistry, were to head the team of scientists and thinkers coming to the event. The Israeli stand at the book fair was designed by the Jewish-Mexican engineer Enrique Norten, who lives in New York. Israeli music was to be a part of the event, too, with Ivri Lider of The Young Professionals, Erez Aizen and Amit Duvdevani of the Infected Mushrooms, and the Mexican-Jewish group Anajnu Ve Atem in the cultural program.
Polish constitutional court to review ban on ritual slaughter
A Polish court has agreed to review an appeal of the country’s ban on ritual slaughter. Representatives of Jewish community were informed on Nov. 26 that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal will consider the appeal they filed. “It’s a promising sign on the eve of Chanukah,” Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, told JTA. “We believe that this issue can be resolved by legal mechanisms functioning in Poland.” The application of the Union of Jewish Communities was submitted to the tribunal in August. The appeal will be considered by the full tribunal, which is at least nine out of 15 judges. A date for the tribunal session has not yet been set. In July, the Polish Parliament rejected a draft amendment to the law on the protection of animals that would have allowed ritual slaughter, or shechitah, to be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community. “The legal situation of the Jewish community, whose duty is among others overseeing the supply of kosher food and ritual slaughter, became unclear,” the Jewish community said in a statement after it submitted its appeal to the tribunal. The Polish Muslim Union decided not to fill a separate appeal. Mufti Tomasz Miskiewicz believes that there is no ban on ritual slaughter in force because the Polish government has not notified the European Commission of the law on the prohibition of ritual slaughter. Last November, Poland’s constitutional court scrapped a government regulation exempting Jews and Muslims from a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. Muslim and Jewish ritual slaughter requires that animals be conscious before their necks are cut.
U.S.: Six-month clock on Iran hasn’t started
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Nov. 26 that the six-month interim agreement with Iran has not yet started. The next step is “a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement,” she said. It’s not clear when the agreement will come into force, but in the meantime Psaki said the U.S. is “respecting the spirit of the agreement in pressing for sanctions not to be put in place” and expects that the same is coming from Iran’s end. However, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told Iran’s Parliament on Nov. 27 that the Islamic Republic would continue to build the Arak heavy water plant in contravention of the announced agreement. The previous day, Iran said that the U.S. had not distributed an accurate account of the agreement.
Israeli Chief Rabbinate issues restrictions on mikvah attendants
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate issued restrictions on the extent to which mikvah attendants may question and interact with women visiting the ritual baths. According to a letter sent on Nov. 25 from the Chief Rabbinate to Itim, an organization that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinate’s bureaucracy, mikvah attendants may not question women visiting the baths, nor may they require women to undergo specific rituals before immersing. Women increasingly have filed complaints about such practices at public mikvahs. “The attendant is meant to help the immersing women fulfill the commandment of immersion according to Jewish law, and the attendant must be available for that purpose, and to offer her assistance,” the letter read. “In addition, the attendant is not permitted to coerce customs, investigations or checks on the women against their will.” Separate letters from Israeli Chief Rabbis Yitzchak Yosef and David Lau, and from Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, endorsed the new restrictions. Yesh Atid lawmakerAliza Lavie proposed a bill earlier in November to restrict the authority of mikvah attendants. But the letter, which responded to a query sent in August by Itim, may make the measure irrelevant. The letter said that instructions on proper immersion according to Jewish law would be posted at every mikvah “in order to improve service for the immersing women.”
Israel, EU agree on framework for R&D project, despite settlement guidelines
Israel and the European Union have agreed on a compromise under which Israel will join the Horizon 2020 research and development project despite new EU guidelines on Jewish settlements. Following months of negotiations, the agreement was reported on Nov. 26 in the Israeli media after an impasse was reached on Nov. 25. The project is expected to provide
about $1.9 billion over several years to Israeli researchers and universities. Israel has taken part in the EU program since 1996. In July, the European Commission announced new guidelines making Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights ineligible for EU grants and prizes beginning on Jan. 1. The agreement allowing Israel to sign came after telephone negotiations between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, an unnamed Israeli official told Haaretz.
Israel awards its top honor to Elie Wiesel
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was presented with Israel’s highest civilian honor from Israeli President Shimon Peres in a New York ceremony. Wiesel was awarded the President’s Medal of Distinction on Nov. 25 for “his unique contribution to the memorial of the Holocaust and in light of his uncompromising drive for peace and tolerance.” The Nobel Peace Prize winner is a survivor of Auschwitz and the author of more than 40 books. “The Holocaust taught us that killing isn’t done just with guns and weapons, but also with apathy, and you Elie are saving the world from that apathy,” Peres told Wiesel during the award presentation. “You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and antisemitism, as well as preventing war. You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message ‘never again.’” Wiesel responded, “Israel is in the center of my life, and even though I don’t live in Israel, Israel lives within me. I now see myself as an honorary Israeli. Life is composed of moments, not only years, and this moment is worth an entire life.”
Second rabbinical court orders mother to circumcise son
The Jerusalem rabbinical court upheld a ruling requiring an Israeli mother to circumcise her son or pay a fine of $140 a day. Following the ruling on Nov. 24, the mother said she said would take the case to Israel’s Supreme Court, which is a secular court. A Netanya rabbinical court on Oct. 29 had ruled the mother must have her son circumcised within a week. The baby, who was born a year ago, was not circumcised on the eighth day, as per Jewish custom, due to medical problems, according to the Times of Israel. The father decided to insist the boy be circumcised when the couple began divorce proceedings in rabbinical court, Haaretz reported. In their decision, the Jerusalem court judges indicated that the mother could be withholding the procedure “as a tool to make headway in the divorce struggle,” according to Haaretz. “I started reading about what actually happens in circumcision, and I realized that I couldn’t do that to my son. He’s perfect just as he is,” the mother, identified as Elinor, told Haaretz.
French Jewish leader: Majority of Jews afraid to put kids in public school
Most French Jewish parents enroll their children in private schools because of antisemitism, a leader of France’s Jewish community said. Antisemitism “affects Jewish families very seriously and is the main reason there are so few Jewish children in public schools,” Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, said on Nov. 26 during a symposium on antisemitism at the European Parliament. “Most of them go to Jewish or Christian private schools.” Cukierman spoke at a symposium organized by the European Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith International with European lawmakers on the findings of a recent survey undertaken last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency among 5,847 self-identified Jews from nine European countries. French Jews emerged from the survey as most concerned by antisemitism, with 85 percent of 1,137 respondents from France describing it as a “big problem.” Among British respondents, 48 percent answered similarly. Perceptions of increasing antisemitism over the past five years were most widespread among French Jews, with 74 percent of respondents saying it has “increased a lot” compared to 27 percent in Britain. Among French respondents, 46 percent said they have considered emigrating because of antisemitism compared to 18 percent in Sweden, Latvia and Britain. “Jews do not feel comfortable in France and across Europe,” Cukierman said. “Top-down attempts to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter compound the effect of bottom-up antisemitism.” Yet French Jews are not leaving France in large numbers, according to Cukierman, who downplayed the significance of figures that show a 49 percent increase in Jewish immigration from France to Israel in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same time frame last year. “These figures fluctuate between 1,500 and 3,000 every year, and at their highest represent half a percent of French Jewry. So this is not such a big figure,” he said.
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December 5, 2013 Edition of The Reporter