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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania FEBRUARY 13, 2014
VOLUME XII, NUMBER 4
First U.S. envoy of her kind taking close relationship with Holocaust survivors to new level
By Debra Rubin JNS.org Aviva Sufian was just 8 years old when her mother took her to an American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors event in Philadelphia in 1985. She remembers survivor after survivor standing up and announcing, “My name is, and this is where I’m from.” Sufian, whose grandparents had come to this country shortly after World War I, says her parents “placed a primacy on my understanding the world they came from,” including understanding the devastation of the Jewish people under the Nazi regime. “I had a close relationship with Holocaust survivors in the community I grew up in,” said Sufian, 37, who lived in Houston, studied Yiddish in high school and college, and as a student at Columbia University in New York conducted interviews with survivors for the Shoah Foundation. Sufian’s career has since focused on the elderly, both in the Jewish communal and
government sectors. Named in late January as the first special envoy for U.S. Holocaust survivor services, she will be combining her background in the field of aging with her knowledge of Holocaust survivors. “In many ways, I feel like stepping into this role is coming home to an issue very near and dear to my heart,” Sufian said in an interview with JNS.org. In her new role, Sufian will continue to work in the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services, where, since 2012, she has been director of regional operations helping to maximize the independence, well-being and health of older adults, people with disabilities and their families and caregivers. Her envoy role, the White House announced, will be as an advocate for survivors currently living in poverty, as well as those who may not be receiving services for which they are currently eligible. About 120,000 Holocaust survivors live in the United States, with some 25 percent living
policy at the Jewish Federations in poverty, compared with 9 percent of North America, who praised of the general elderly population, Sufian’s appointment. according to the White House. “The White House imprimatur Sufian’s appointment is part that comes with it will help to of a White House initiative that ensure that there’s added focus Vice President Joe Biden had and attention on this key populaannounced in December to help tion,” he said. survivors. The initiative also Asked why Holocaust surincludes a public-private partnervivors should be singled out ship to raise awareness about and for special attention among all provide support for survivors. In general, the administration is Av i v a S u f i a n , elderly individuals living in povlooking for ways to “help people the first special erty, Daroff told JNS.org that it is stay in their homes and commu- envoy for U.S. “because they are Americans who nities and live in settings of their Holocaust survivor are in need – just like it’s the role choice,” Sufian said. services. (Photo of the federal government to help That objective is particularly by Department of with your parents or my parents important for Holocaust survi- Health and Human who have specific needs and who are in need of help.” vors who “have specific issues Services) Sufian said it will be her job to and needs based on their experiences – issues of social isolation, issues work across agencies – among them HHS, around institutionalization that harken back the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to their experiences during the war,” said Services, the Social Security AdministraWilliam Daroff, vice president for public tion, Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation – to help
Professor Malka Schaps speaks to the Federation Close to 50 people attended a program on February 2 during which Professor Malka Schaps told her life story, which she began as Mary Elizabeth Kramer, of Ohio, before converting to Orthodox Judaism. Schaps holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University, lives in the ultra-Orthodox community of Bnai Brak in Israel, works as a novelist and has been appointed as Professor Malka Schaps spoke dean of exact sciences (math- about her life to Federation ematics, physics, chemistry members on February 2.
and computer sciences) at Bar-Ilan University. Shaps’ overview of her personal journey was described as having “humility, wit and sheer brilliance” by organizers of the event. They added, “The audience was spellbound,” as they listened to Schaps share her discovery of Judaism as “the true faith and the trials she endured to achieve her conversion.” Schaps and her husband, Professor David Schaps,
Federation members attended an event on February 2 during which Professor Malka Schaps discussed her life and accomplishments.
moved to Israel to join the academic community after they received their Ph.D. degrees from Harvard, she in mathematics and he in the classics. While working in academia, Malka raised two children and fostered four more. She also began a side career writing novels and non-fiction for the Orthodox Jewish audience under the pen name “Rachel Pomeranz.” This past November, she was appointed to the post of dean of exact sciences at Bar-Ilan University, the first Orthodox woman to do so. Malka Schaps considers “one of proudest accomplishments” to be the development of a program and curriculum in financial mathematics that is being used throughout Israel. She said, “This is probably my biggest contribution to the state of Israel.” Attendees of the presentation said of Schaps, “I’d love to spend more time with her,” “I’d love to have her at my Shabbat table,” “For someone so brilliant, she is very modest, very unassuming” and “I could have listened and asked questions for another hour.” When told that people found her “humble,” Schaps replied, “Strange as it seems, being a mathematician can be a job encouraging humility. I am constantly dealing with people who are conspicuously smarter than I am.” Organizers of the program thanked to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania for sponsoring it. Co-sponsors of the See “Schaps” on page 6
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Women in Judaism
World’s oldest siddur
News in brief from Israel
See “Envoy” on page 10
2014 UJA paign Update Cam
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Candle lighting February 14..................................... 5:17 pm February 21.....................................5:26 pm February 28.....................................5:34 pm
The IDF highlights women soldiers; The world’s oldest siddur is slated More on the Israeli draft bill; PLUS what an Orthodox high school’s new for display at the future Bible Princeton to partner with a Herzliya tefillin policy could mean for women. museum in Washington, DC . school; and more. Opinion...........................................................2 Stories on pages 6-7 Story on page 11 Stories on page 13 D’var Torah...................................................8
THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
a matter of opinion Rampaging minority politicized MLA conference By Amy Schwartz (JTA) – The Modern Language Association, which held its annual conference here January 9-12, has approximately 28,000 humanities scholars in its membership, about 4,000 of whom attend the annual conference. The conference features hundreds of workshops and panels discussions – about 800 in total this year – on topics ranging from Italian-American literature to comics and graphic novels to old Norse language and literature. The campaign to boycott Israel – commonly known as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS – was surely the last thing on the minds of most MLA attendees in Chicago. So why did this year’s program include a roundtable panel discussion on academic boycotts of Israel and a factually flawed resolution alleging that Israel bars academics seeking to enter the West Bank? In my view, it was nothing more than the political rampaging of a small cadre of MLA members intent on politicizing the event and taking advantage of the membership’s general lack of awareness to foist a wholly non-academic issue to the forefront of the conference. Talking to friends and fellow MLA members, it was striking that none of them had heard of the academic boycott panel or the resolution. Indeed, MLA members seemed acutely unaware of the larger political context and agenda of the panel discussants and resolution proposers, including Omar Barghouti and David Lloyd, who are major players in the BDS movement. The roundtable discussion was a closed session open only to MLA members. Those who attended were largely a self-selecting
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Opinions The views expressed in editorials and opinion pieces are those of each author and not necessarily the views of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Letters The Reporter welcomes letters on subjects of interest to the Jewish community. All letters must be signed and include a phone number. The editor may withhold the name upon request. ADS The Reporter does not necessarily endorse any advertised products and services. In addition, the paper is not responsible for the kashruth of any advertiser’s product or establishment. Deadline Regular deadline is two weeks prior to the publication date. Federation website: www.jewishnepa.org How to SUBMIT ARTICLES: Mail: 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 E-mail: email@example.com Fax: (570) 346-6147 Phone: (570) 961-2300 How to reach the advertising Representative: Phone: (800) 779-7896, ext. 244 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscription Information: Phone: (570) 961-2300
group of supporters. The room was half filled with about 100 people, although three security guards stood at the door. The atmosphere was similar to a pep rally, complete with much applause and grandstanding. There was nothing academic about the panel discussion. Rather, it was a hostile, politicized circus in the guise of an intellectual and academic discussion. It got worse when MLA delegates moved to a discussion of Resolution 2014-1 charging that Israel bars academics seeking to enter the West Bank. The propaganda and polemics of resolution supporters was astounding. In light of these events, I decided to step up to the microphone to speak out against the resolution at the open hearing of the Delegate Assembly. I spoke to the integrity of the MLA as an academic organization and the imperative that it remain apolitical. If organizations like the MLA become vehicles of the political agendas of its members, this respected group will be compromised, resulting in more harm to the already suffering state of the humanities. Such results are being seen in other academic circles. Just look at the recent backlash to the American Studies Association’s vote to impose a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. More than 150 university presidents have publicly criticized academic boycotts. Several universities have withdrawn their institutional membership in the ASA. The response to my testimony was predictable. Lloyd claimed BDS proponents were being “unfairly attacked, intimidated and
threatened to suggest there would be a backlash against the MLA for this resolution.” The Delegate Assembly on January 11 was sheer chaos. The chairwoman, Margaret Ferguson of the University of California, Davis, had little control over the room and seemed to change the rules as she went along, quashing those who simply wanted to be heard and eventually moving to suspend the rules of order expressly meant to govern the proceedings. I can’t say those of us who knew in advance of the roundtable and the resolution were surprised by the insidious atmosphere. There was an expectation that most MLA delegates would be largely uninformed about these issues and the delegates would vote on impulse without doing their due diligence and reading the background material. The warnings were sadly apt. It surprised me to be in a room of accomplished scholars from highly respected universities and hear them respond to the resolution with a profound lack of awareness of its political context and implications. In the end, while the body voted down consideration of an emergency resolution condemning “attacks” and “intimidation” of the ASA for its boycott, Resolution 20141, passed by a vote of 60-53, exhorted the U.S. State Department to investigate alleged “denials of entry” of American scholars traveling to pursue academic research and teach in the West Bank. The resolution advances to the Executive Committee meeting in February and, if it passes there, will go to before MLA members for a vote. At that point, the resolution
must be supported by a majority of voting members whose number equals at least 10 percent of the overall membership. Colleagues who have attended MLA meetings for decades say they have never seen anything like what occurred. Several members who first learned of the agenda at the conference expressed such disgust that they threatened to cancel their membership if the resolution passes. A serious backlash by members this spring would not be surprising. Pre-emptive preparations for this uphill battle were thorough and thoughtful. The impressive group of Jewish intellectuals who fought the resolution, led by highly respected professors Cary Nelson of the University of Illinois and Russell Berman of Stanford University, helped organize an alternative discussion on academic freedom immediately after the academic boycott roundtable. Clearly the effort to counter the mainstreaming BDS initiatives within academic organizations is only beginning. MLA Scholars for Academic Freedom and antiBDS forces such as the Israel Action Network, the Israel on Campus Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League and others will continue to educate and inform the MLA membership and initiate outreach to other academic organizations to promote responsibility, academic freedom and integrity. Amy Schwartz, the assistant regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Chicago office, is a member of the Modern Language Association and a former adjunct professor at Northwestern University.
Time to give day school parents a break By rabbi Joshua Lookstein (JTA) – This fall, the school that I head brought dozens of its students to join 5,000 others at a rally in our county in support of smart legislation to boost education in New York state. But this is no local story: If successful, our effort will have far-reaching consequences for the future of Jewish life across America. In my first months as head of Westchester Day School and in my career as a rabbi, educator and community professional, I often have heard from parents who struggle to pay their kids’ day school tuition even while they contribute toward scholarships that support others’ children. These are parents whose salaries otherwise would entitle them to a comfortable financial cushion. Instead, they effectively live paycheck to paycheck. Parents with this kind of dedication to the Jewish future merit a higher priority in our community. A handful of states already have tax incentive programs that help parents afford day school education by giving tax credits to people or institutions that donate toward tuition scholarship funds. In these states, the programs, which have been a lifeline for Jewish parents and Jewish schools, also have benefitted Catholic and independent schools. In New York, Catholic, Jewish and independent voices are banding together to advance this legislation. But we need
the support of the Jewish community nationwide. Donations to scholarship funds already are subsidized through federal and state tax deductions. What makes tax credit programs so valuable is that they increase the savings – and incentives – to donors from a tax deduction, which might amount to 40 percent savings, to a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. Under the proposed bill in New York, known as the Education Investment Tax Credit Act, instead of paying $10,000 in state taxes, for example, you can settle the debt by donating $5,000 to a nonprofit scholarship fund and paying $5,000 to the state. If scholarship donations don’t seem worthy of a tax credit, consider that New York state already offers tax credits for locally brewed beer and film and television production. Educating our children seems no less legitimate. The program would help boost donations to art and music programs in public schools and support scholarship funds for students to attend non-public kindergarteneighth grade schools like ours. This would strengthen education for all and fortify our schools for years to come. And it means more scholarship relief to families already sacrificing so much. Our shared Jewish future is at stake. Without additional funding from public or private sources, Jewish day school education in America will hit a wall as growing
numbers of dual-income families find they cannot afford it. What happens in New York, where roughly half of all the Jewish day school students in America reside, will help set the tone for the entire country. If the day school model cannot be made sustainable here, then this core identity-building tool and pipeline for future Jewish leaders will grow out of reach for more and more families. As a Jewish community, we have an obligation to pursue every avenue for tuition affordability. This means reducing costs for the services we purchase and provide; tapping every possible resource to increase donations and foundation support; and calling on our government to give families more of a break when they donate toward – or benefit from – tuition assistance. Many Jews have legitimate concerns about accepting public support for our private schools. It is important to keep in mind that most tax credit programs, including the proposed legislation in New York, help the public system as well. Under the proposed law in our state, half the tax credits available would be designated for support for public education and teacher-designated projects. And none of the credits directed to scholarship entities would come out of the more than $22 billion that our state spends each year on public schools. See “Parents” on page 5
letters to the editor Federation’s film lending library appreciated Dear Editor: I would like to send a special thank you to both the Jewish Federation and Dassy Ganz specifically. The film lending library service provided by the Federation is free to members. I have already enjoyed four of these beautiful movies and look forward to watching others as well. These movies will open my heart and stimulate my minding, bringing
Yiddishkeit right into my home. What a great bonus to my Federation membership! With appreciation, Mel Rosenthal, D.C. Saylorsburg, PA Dear Dassy: Thank you very much for the loan of the movie “Hava Nagilah: The Movie.” It was well-attended by the residents of Webster
Towers and their response to watching it was wonderful. It is always nice when we can work together for the benefit of others. It was a lovely afternoon and we thank the Jewish Federation for contributing to it. Sincerely, Judy McLane Human Services Coordinator, Webster Towers senior high-rise
FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
community news Scranton Hebrew Day School winter soup sale The Scranton Hebrew Day School will hold a winter soup sale in February, offering a variety of homemade soups in either 16 or 32 ounce sizes. The selection will include minestrone, zucchini, vegetable,
chicken with vegetables, butternut squash, mushroom and barley, cream of plantain and others. Quantities will be limited. To place an order, call the school office at 570-346-1576,
ext. 2. The deadline to order will be Friday, February 14. Soups will be available for pick-up from the school after Tuesday, February 18. All proceeds will benefit the school’s scholarship fund.
Congregation B’nai Harim planning adult Purim celebration By Lee Emerson Congregation B’nai Harim will celebrate the holiday of Purim on Saturday, March 8, at 7 pm, at the syna-
gogue, Route 940 at Pocono Crest Road and Sullivan Trail, Pocono Pines. Attendees have been encouraged to wear a costume.
“Hava Nagila: The Movie” called “a hit” at Webster Towers Dassy Ganz, assistant to the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, joined residents of Scranton’s Webster Towers senior high-rise for a screening of the newly released “Hava Nagila: The Movie.” The documentary is part of the Jewish Federation’s film library. The movie travels the world to explain the origins of the folk song’s melody and lyrics. The picture also features personal interviews with historians and performers, as well as actual footage of the earliest horas danced to “Hava Nagila.” The documentary presented various renditions of the song, adapted to the times and the occasion. It also pointed out that cultures both Jewish and non-Jewish have connected to “Hava Nagila.” Those interested in borrowing the film on DVD or others from the Jewish Film Library should contact Ganz at the Federation at email@example.com, or 570-961-2300, ext. 2. Suggestions for new films are always welcome.
The cost to attend will be $15 per person. Organizers have asked those attending to make a reservation before Saturday, March 1. Checks can be sent to Congregation B’nai Harim, P.O. Box 757, Pocono Pines, PA 18350, with the number of reservations required. At the event, the B’nai Harim players will present the shpiel “Megillah Around the Clock.” A buffet of kosherstyle deli sandwiches, salads, pickles and desserts, including hamantashen, will be provided. For more information, visit www.bnaiharimpoconos.org or call the message center at 570-646-0100.
S E N I L D A E D The following are deadlines for all articles and photos for upcoming Reporter issues.
Thursday, February 13.................... February 27 Thursday, February 27........................ March 13 Thursday, March 13............................ March 27 Thursday, March 27.............................. April 10 Joe and Eleanor Lowenberg attended a screening of “Hava Nagila: The Movie” at Webster Towers.
Notice to our Pocono Readers 911 Emergency Management Services has been updating mailing addresses in Monroe County and Lehman Townships in Pike County. Please don't forget to notify the Federation so you will continue to receive The Reporter. Thanks, Mark Silverberg, Executive Director Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Several community members attended a screening of “Hava Nagila: The Movie” at Webster Towers. Front row (lr): Lil Freidlin, Sarah Morris and Marion Dunleavy. Back row: Alana Arnovitz, Malca Shapiro, Shirley Nudelman, Fern Blum, Millie Weinberg and Mary Quatra.
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THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition
Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition report the vote; and By Joe Fisch Whereas, the motion was Attached is Senate Resolupassed by only 16 percent tion 279, introduced by Senator of the membership of the Anthony Williams (D-PhiladelASA; and phia), to condemn the Academic Whereas, the ASA’s acaStudies Association’s academic demic boycott against Israel boycott efforts against Israel. It is calls for a boycott of all of the currently in the Senate Education universities within the state of Committee and the Pennsylvania Israel, a Jewish democratic Jewish Coalition is working on a J o e F i s c h i s nation that promotes academic similar resolution in the Pennsylchairman of the PJC freedom and free speech and vania House of Representatives, following which it will push NEPA Federation educates students from around the globe; and for passage in each respective Chapter. Whereas, the academic boychamber. The General Assembly of Penn- cott against all universities and colleges in Israel results in the restriction of acasylvania Senate Resolution demic freedom worldwide and reflects an No. 279 A resolution condemning the Aca- antisemitic position; and Whereas, the academic boycott is demic Studies Association’s academic purportedly an effort to denounce alleged boycott against Israel and calling upon Israeli human rights violations, yet it efthe Department of Education, the State fectively disengages the scholars within System of Higher Education, each of Israeli academic institutions from global the state-related universities and all of academic collaborations and does not Pennsylvania’s independent colleges and universities to reject antisemitism and not support Israeli peace efforts in the Middle East; and participate in the academic boycott: Whereas, due to the academic boyWhereas, antisemitism is an intolerable and ugly form of bigotry, prejudice and cott, several American collegiate memhostility directed toward individuals of the bers of the ASA have withdrawn their Jewish faith and the Jewish state of Israel, institutional memberships, including often based on ethnic, cultural or religious members at Brandeis University and The Pennsylvania State University – Haridentity; and Whereas, the American Studies As- risburg; and Whereas, numerous university presisociation is an academic organization composed of approximately 5,000 dents from the nation’s centers of acamembers, all of whom are members of demic study, including the University academia specializing in the interdisci- of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, plinary study of American culture and Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, Haverford history; and Whereas, the ASA held a vote in which College, Princeton University, Lehigh 1,252 of its members participated, and 66 University, Temple University, Boston percent voted in favor of an academic boy- University, University of Chicago, cott against Israel, while 30 percent objected University of Michigan, New York Uniand approximately 4 percent abstained from versity, Middlebury College and many
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Planning on leaving town for a few months? Going on a long vacation? Moving any time soon? You can help save the Jewish Federation money by informing us of your plans and preventing the U.S. Postal Service from charging us for returned mail and address change notices. Before you go, call the Federation office or send us an email and let us know if you would like the mail sent temporarily to a different address, at no charge to you, or halted for a certain number of months. Give us a chance to get it right for you on the first mailing. Contact Dassy at (570)961-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
others have publicly condemned and rejected the academic boycott because it negatively impacts the progress for peace in the Middle East and unfairly targets Israel; and Whereas, the practical effect of the American Studies Association Israeli boycott is a resurgence of antisemitism; therefore be it Resolved, that the Senate condemn in the strongest possible terms the ASA’s academic boycott against Israel as an intolerable, antisemitic, base form of bigotry and hatred and recognize that such conduct, particularly within centers of academic study, is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated; and be it further Resolved, that the Senate request that the Department of Education and the State System of Higher Education, in cooperation with each of the state-related universities and this commonwealth’s independent colleges and universities, acknowledge the serious problem of antisemitic conduct, the creation of a hostile learning environment worldwide and that any such institutions not participate in the academic boycott. Addendum A similar Resolution was introduced as House Resolution No. 627 by the leaders
of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson), Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Minority Leader Frank Dermody (DAllegheny). PJC has asked readers to contact Northeastern Pennsylvania state senators and representatives and request they support these resolutions in their respective chambers: NEPA state representatives Michael Peifer – Monroe/Pike/Wayne – 717-783-2037 Mario Scavello – Monroe – 717-7877732 Rosemary Brown – Monroe, Pike – 717260-6171 Sid Kavulich – Lackawanna – 717-7834874 Kevin Haggerty – Lackawanna – 717787-8981 Frank Farina – Lackawanna – 717-7835043 Marty Flynn – Lackawanna – 717-7831359 Sandra Major – Wayne – 717-7832910 NEPA State Senators John Blake – Lackawanna, Monroe – 717-787-6481 Lisa Baker – Pike, Wayne, Monroe – 717-787-7428
NEPA Philharmonic president links Plateau to performances
munity resource,” admiring its By Jeanine Hofbauer introduction preceding perforReprinted with permission mances as “your” Northeastern of The Journal of the Pocono Pennsylvania Philharmonic. Plateau As budget cuts continue to Pinecrest is a far cry from affect arts programs in schools New York City or Philadelphia, nationwide, he commented, but one Plateau resident found “It’s important that the Philharout how close it actually is to monic steps into the breach.” the talented artists that perform He described arrangements with at these metropolitan venues. Ira schools for reduced ticket pricing, Miller took a step toward fulfillIra Miller inviting students to take part in ing his “bucket list” aspiration of the sights and sounds of a philconducting a symphony orchestra when harmonic performance. he joined the board of the Northeastern Echoing Miller’s sentiments, conducPennsylvania Philharmonic more than tor Lawrence Loh talked about holiday four years ago. Today, his new title as president of the concerts targeted for a family audiboard reveals his passion for opening doors ence that introduce varying symphonic to performances as close as Wilkes-Barre sounds to younger listeners, as well as and Scranton. He has said he is particu- a mixed audience. The central Pennsylvania native delarly fond of April’s concert, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, scheduled for Friday, scribed performances he’s conducted April 25, at the Scranton Cultural Center. throughout the past nine years with the While he enjoys attending performances at Philharmonic, featuring “seasoned instruWilkes-Barre’s Kirby Center, he admits the mentalists from near and far,” saying, “We architecture of the Masonic Temple at the cast a wide net for our talent.” Dispelling perceptions about perforScranton Cultural Center also complements mances limited to classical music scores, the sounds of the orchestra. With ticket sales accounting for 30-40 he described an upcoming February concert percent of operational costs, he took a mo- celebrating the Big Band era, calling it a ment to publicly thank the private contribu- “nice fit with the resurgence of the musical tors for their continued support in “enriching style in the last decade.” For more information on programs and the area and its residents.” ticket sales, visit www.nepaphil.org. He views the Philharmonic as “a com-
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FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
BTA breakfast asks, “How do I make a difference?” Ziv Ben-Dov, of Out-of-the-Box Therapy in Scranton, was the co-sponsor with the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business and Trade Alliance 2014 winter breakfast held on January 23 at the Scranton Jewish Community Center. After a buffet breakfast, Ben-Dov began by showing a video clip of philosopher and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. In the video, Frankl discussed the importance of having a moral compass and that “it is imperative to aim high in the hopes of achieving even the basics in the proper level of goodness and morality.” According to him, “If one doesn’t reach for the stars, he is bound to land way below what is necessary for society to exist.” Ben-Dov then brought the conversation to those present and challenged them by asking what they do in their daily living, both at home and in their professions, that keeps them “on the track of morality and decency.” Many of the attendees contributed with questions and comments, including how they pass their values on to the next generation. As always, each attendee had an opportunity to introduce himself or herself and their business. The Federation welcomed Andrew Katz, of Katz Financial, in Lake Ariel, at the program.
Ziv Ben-Dov addressed the audience at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business and Trade Alliance 2014 winter breakfast held on January. The BTA is a project of the Federation, of under the guidance of Becky Schastey. For more information or to join the BTA, visit http://JewishNEPABTA.org.
The public school system benefits indirectly, too. For every parent who can no longer afford tuition and moves a child out of a private or parochial school to public school, taxpayers must now pick up the entire cost. Here in Westchester County, that’s well above the statewide average of $19,000 per student, not including capital costs. By helping students stay in their existing Catholic or Jewish schools rather than transferring them into district or charter schools, such tax incentives will
L-r: Sheila Abdo, Jeff Ganz and Mark Silverberg listened to the speaker.
Continued from page 2 save the state and local school districts billions of dollars each year. I agreed to allow students from my school to skip class to attend this rally to show them that what happens in government affects real people. Anyone who cares about a meaningful Jewish future in America should help make tuition scholarship tax credit programs a reality. Rabbi Joshua Lookstein is head of Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, NY.
L-r: Becky Schastey, Andrew Katz and Ed Monsky attended the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business and Trade Alliance 2014 winter breakfast held on January 23.
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THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
women in judaism
Female IDF soldiers shatter contemporary infantry lines By Maayan Jaffe JNS.org From the inception of the Jewish state to the present, Israel’s military has been anything but a male-dominated institution. On May 26, 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion established the Israel Defense Forces. Less than three months later, the Knesset instituted mandatory conscription for all women without children. Today, 57 percent of all officers in the Israeli army are women, according to the IDF. The IDF recently highlighted the stories of a select group of those women on its blog, in a list titled “8 Female Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013.” The article, which featured women in a variety of military roles and from diverse backgrounds, said that in recent years women have “taken increasingly high-level positions in the IDF.” The female soldiers included in the list “challenge stereotypes,” wrote the IDF. Among those listed are two soldiers originally from the U.S.: Cpl. Dylan Ostrin, from Houston, who made aliyah at the age of 7, and Sgt. Sarit Petersen, from Maryland, who is currently in the process of making aliyah. Petersen, who recently completed her IDF term, served as a shooting instructor in the Nahal Infantry Brigade. Her job was to teach reconnaissance brigade soldiers (Special
Sarit Petersen, of Maryland, who is on the IDF’s recent list of “8 Female Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013.” (Photo courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces) Forces) to use their weapons. Speaking from her parents’ home in Baltimore, Peterson waxed modest about being chosen for the IDF blog entry. “There are awesome people doing awesome things in the army all the time,” she said with a giggle. A 2010 graduate of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Petersen told JNS.org that she was “surprised” at her selec-
Schaps At left: Federation members attended an event on February 2 during which Professor Malka Schaps discussed her life and accomplishments.
Friends of The Reporter Dear Friend of The Reporter, Each year at this time the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania calls upon members of our community to assist in defraying the expense of issuing our regional Jewish newspaper, The Reporter. The newspaper is delivered twice of month (except for December and July which are single issue months) to each and every identifiable Jewish home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Continued from page 2 event included Dr. Shaya and Phyllis Barax, Shlomo and Deborah Fink, and Dr. Nancy Willis. Patrons were Rabbi Nathan and Maggy Bushwick, Jeff and Dassy Ganz, Seth and Sheryl Gross, Sonia Sandhaus and Tova Weiss.
Deborah Fink spoke with Professor Malka Schaps.
The Federation assumes the financial responsibility for funding the enterprise at a cost of $26,400 per year and asks only that we undertake a small letter writing mail campaign to our recipients in the hope of raising $10,000 from our readership to alleviate a share of that responsibility. We would be grateful if you would care enough to take the time to make a donation for our efforts in bringing The Reporter to your door. As always, your comments, opinions and suggestions are always welcome. With best wishes, Mark Silverberg, Executive Director Jewish Federation of NE Pennsylvania 601 Jefferson Avenue Scranton, PA 18510
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See “IDF” on page 13
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tion, though she was one of the first to hold her position in the IDF. Petersen trained soldiers slated for elite army units. They had already completed at least eight months of basic training, and often had several additional months of more intense training. She said that she and her colleagues would “sit for hours and hours” planning and analyzing how they were going to take these men from “regular soldiers to Special Forces – to even better. “We would spend hours and hours on an exercise list. We would look at their old ones, see what they had done and figure out how to make it harder and faster, how they could run more. Then we would go to the shooting range and make them do all of these [exercises] we had set up for them and they would do it,” she said. “We would do it first, to test it out, and then they would do it.” Is Petersen good with a gun? “Yeah,” she said. “I am a pretty good shot.” Petersen said she shot her first gun as a 14-year-old on a vacation with a friend in Nevada; they shot cans in the desert. “I thought, ‘Wow! I am really good at this and it is really fun,’” she reminisced, noting that she could never have dreamed then of her time in the IDF. Other female soldiers on the list have different roles. Take
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L-r: Mark Silverberg, Dassy Ganz and Professor Malka Schaps posed together at a February 2 program in which Schaps discussed her life story.
FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
women in judaism SAR tefillin policy just the tip of the iceberg for Orthodox women
See “Tefillin” on page 14
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to women. In 1984, the Drisha Institute, a New York institution under Orthodox leadership, opened the first full-time women’s kollel study program. The glass ceiling of female Orthodox spiritual leaders began to shatter, too. In 1992, Drisha began offering a three-year program “paralleling rabbinic ordination” to certify female scholars. A few years later, Nishmat, an institution in Jerusalem established in 1990 “to open the gates of higher Torah learning to women,” inaugurated a program to certify women as “yoatzot halachah” – consultants on Jewish law. The consultants mainly ministered to women on laws pertaining to sex, Shabbat and kashrut. In 2009, Weiss pushed the envelope even further by ordaining Sara Hurwitz, later conferring on her the title of “rabba,” a feminized version of rabbi. The move was condemned immediately – not just by the haredi Orthodox, but by leaders of the centrist Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America. “The ordination of women as rabbis represents a serious and inappropriate breach with our sacred tradition and is beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a rabbi in Teaneck, NJ, who was vice president of the RCA at the time. For a long time, it had been unusual for one sector of American Orthodoxy to condemn another, despite differences in practice and even ideology. Many families span the various kinds of Orthodoxy, no one’s quite sure of what the contours of modern Orthodox are, and it’s not unusual to find haredi Orthodox Jews worshiping in modern Orthodox shuls and vice versa. (Neither consider it acceptable to worship in Conservative or Reform synagogues.) But as liberal Orthodox Jews support new roles for women, particularly in the synagogue, it’s looking increasingly like Orthodoxy is undergoing a schism. The more traditionalist elements of the Orthodox community view the reforms as beyond the pale, a threat to the integrity of their halachic community. This is why Weiss and the yeshivas he has established, including the liberal Orthodox rabbinical school Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, have faced so much Orthodox opposition – from the RCA, which does not recognize Chovevei ordination, to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate,
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By Uriel Heilman NEW YORK (JTA) – The recent announcement that SAR, a modern Orthodox high school in New York, is allowing girls to lay tefillin is helping expose an increasingly sharp fault line within Orthodoxy. For decades, it has been difficult to sort out the precise dividing lines between the varieties of Orthodoxy – ultra, haredi, centrist, modern, liberal. Each elastic category bled into others, and the movement has been broad enough to encompass everyone from black hat-wearing rabbis with long beards to young women in jeans and T-shirts. What united them was a stated commitment to halachah – Jewish law traditionally defined – and, of course, self-definition as Orthodox. In recent years, however, a visible divide has been emerging over a single issue: the role of women. It quickly is becoming a line in the sand, pitting the reformers against the traditionalists. The decision by SAR High School, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, is just the latest development on this front. Before it came the decision by Rabbi Avi Weiss, an Orthodox rabbi in Riverdale, to ordain female Orthodox clergy. The ordination call was preceded by Orthodox minyans that took a second look at halachah and decided that allowing women to lead certain parts of worship – Torah reading, the introductory morning prayers known as Psukei D’zimra and a few other rituals – did not violate the letter of the law. It’s difficult to say when it all began. Was the original Bais Yaakov school for girls, opened in Poland in 1917, the first breach, breaking the traditional ban on giving girls a formalized Torah education? The school, which by today’s standards would be considered ultra-Orthodox, was then seen as groundbreaking. Only the imprimatur of the widely respected Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chaim, helped stem the controversy that greeted its establishment. In America, a key milestone came in the latter half of the 20th century when Orthodox schools began offering girls the same Jewish education offered to boys. For many years – and this is still the case in many Orthodox institutions today – only boys were allowed to study Talmud, the central text of Orthodox Judaism. But when Orthodox schools began allowing girls to study Talmud, under the authority of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik of the Maimonides School near Boston, it opened the door to a new way of thinking about the role of Orthodox women. Many of the logical conclusions followed. If an Orthodox girl could study Talmud in high school, why couldn’t she in college? By the early 1980s, Yeshiva University, the flagship institution of modern Orthodoxy, was offering elective Talmud classes at its Stern College for Women, though it wasn’t until 2009 that Stern opened a master’s program in biblical and talmudic interpretation
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THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
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.
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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
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Turn it and turn it... upside down and inside out by RABBI MARJORIE BERMAN, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, RECONSTRUCTIONIST RABBINICAL COLLEGE IN PHILADELPHIA Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35 The parasha of Ki Tisa is often best known for one of our people’s greatest transgressions, the making of the golden calf. What I want to discuss in today’s column, however, happens a little later in the portion. Trying to heal the breach left between God and the Israelites after the molten image has been destroyed, and at the same time to convince God that the people need Adonai’s accompaniment if they are to continue, Moses pleads with God to go with them, continuing to lead them. God agrees, and Moses requests to see God’s presence. God responds, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name Eternal, and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show... but you cannot see my face and live.” God offers to place Moses in a cleft in the rock, and to shield him while the presence passes by, allowing Moses to only see God’s back. It appears that Moses can encounter God’s compassion, grace and goodness, as well as hear the Eternal Name, but not see God’s face, God’s presence. If we read this passage in isolation, it does not seem surprising. The Torah has a number of allusions to the power of God’s kavod – God’s presence and glory – and how it is dangerous to encounter. But if we look just six verses earlier in the portion, when it describes what would happen at the Tent of Meeting when Moses entered and the cloud of God’s glory descended to rest there, we discover the sentence “V’diber Adonai el Moshe panim el panim k’asher yidaber ish el-rayayhoo – And God spoke to Moses face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend...” This certainly seems to be in direct contradiction to God’s later statement that “you cannot see my face and live.” When the rabbis interpret a text, they look especially carefully at apparent contradictions and at words that are repeated, like panim – face. They believed that these were indicators of a deeper meaning – perhaps a hidden meaning – in the Torah. Surprisingly, the upcoming holiday of Purim might reveal the answer, or rather, why there isn’t a single, fixed explanation. For many of us, we think of Purim as a children’s holiday. It’s a time to dress up, to eat hamantashen and perhaps to go to a Purim carnival. But Purim is a holiday with many layers of meaning. Like Chanukah, it is a celebration of our ability to persevere and survive against great odds. But unlike Chanukah, the story that is told on Purim does not credit God with our deliverance, but rather our own cunning and a bit of luck. The name of God is not mentioned once in the entire Book of Esther! If the Holy One is present in this scroll, it is in a hidden manner. In addition, the Book of Esther purports to tell us a historical tale, but it is not one that could ever have happened. The names and dates that make up the story belong to different periods of history, or, according to other historical records, do not exist at all. So where did Purim come from? What is its religious signifi-
cance? In our tradition, Purim is a time to turn things upside down and inside out, to elevate the profane (such as getting drunk) and make fun of the sacred. Why? Is it just for the sake of letting off a little steam after months of a long, cold winter? Or is there a deeper meaning? Can Moses sit with God and talk like friends having tea, or will the very sight of God’s presence banish the spark of life from Moses’ body? Purim comes to teach us that the nature of truth, and the nature of God, are most often beyond our understanding. We can glimpse at truth and perhaps even at the nature of God, but a moment later our understanding is incomplete. What was revealed becomes hidden; what was hidden is revealed. We can never be too sure about what we “know.” In one instant, Moses has a great intimacy with God, in the next he cannot look upon God or he will die. We turn everything upside down on Purim because when we shake things up, we often see things that were hidden to us before, and things that we thought we were sure of become uncertain. As humans, we are wonderful beings, but we are also limited. We do great danger to ourselves and to those around us when we believe that we understand everything and that our vision is flawless. Wars are fought, relationships destroyed and planetary resources decimated because we have an amazing capacity to convince ourselves that we know how things are and how to make them right. Very little can save us from such arrogance, but humor can. Purim, when it is done right, compels us, or perhaps connives us, to stand on our heads and see the world differently. It reminds us that at best, most of our perceptions are illusions, like masks at a Purim ball, and we would be wise to remember it. Not only wisdom, but holiness, or divine intent, or love, is often best able to break through at these moments. Zen Buddhists call it “beginners mind,” that place where we do not think that we know, and as such, approach what is before us with open eyes, with an open mind and, most importantly, with an open heart. The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai said it beautifully in his poem, “The Place Where We Are Right”: “From the place where we are right/Flowers will never grow/...But doubts and loves/Dig up the world/Like a mole, a plow.” We must never be convinced that we have the whole picture, that we have the Truth with a capital T, or that we are sure that we understand the nature of God or God’s ways. The true idolatry of the golden calf was not that the Israelites imagined God as an Egyptian deity, but that they tried to put God into a “fixed” form – something that was limited and unchanging, and could always be seen. When you celebrate Purim next month, remember to turn things on their head. Laugh at yourself. Forget every preconception and prejudice you have. Try to live with open eyes and an open heart. Try to see truth from as many angles as you can imagine. Expect to be surprised by God and by life. Allow yourself to let go of what is revealed as it becomes hidden again. Keep your eyes open for that which is hidden to become revealed.
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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: email@example.com Friday evening Shabbat, 7pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Save the Dates! Sunday, March 23 ........ Meet the Authors at the Cleland House Bed and Breakfast Monday, April 28.......... Yom Hashoah Mission to Harrisburg Sunday, June 1.............. Celebrate 50 Years of the Salute to Israel Parade • Details to follow •
FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
Traveling and living in Israel By Rabbi Rachel Esserman People travel to Israel for a wide variety of reasons. Some envision only a short stay, but find themselves unable or unwilling to leave. The people they meet and the events that occur change the course of their lives – making it impossible to return home. In two recent novels – “Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman” by Minka Pradelski (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company) and “In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” by Ruchama King Feuerman (New York Review of Books) – the main characters struggle with their unsatisfactory lives, while, at the same time, discovering the possibilities a future in Israel may hold. In “Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman,” Tippy Silberberg travels from Germany to Israel to collect an odd inheritance from a distant aunt: an incomplete set of flatware. Being away from home is not easy for Tippy: she has a strange
food addiction that makes traveling difficult. In fact, this young woman comes across as slightly unbalanced, something that becomes understandable when readers learn of her relationship to her parents. Tippy’s main task in Israel, in addition to collecting her inheritance, is to search for a husband, since she now desperately wants to be married and have children. However, before she can even settle in her hotel, an older woman, Bella Kugelman, barges into her room and starts talking about the Polish town in which she lived before World War II, a place destroyed during the Holocaust. At first, Tippy resists listening to Mrs. Kugelman, but soon finds herself engrossed in, and enchanted by, the stories of the seemingly magical Bedzin. These tales may hold an important key to Tippy’s life, if only she can uncover their meaning. Pradelski, a sociologist and filmmaker whose work fo-
Continued from page 1
the agencies understand the needs of survivors and ensure that survivors know what’s available to them. “We want them to age well with comfort and dignity and the honor and respect they deserve,” she said. Some advocates for Holocaust survivors are pushing for state Medicaid waivers to use for home health care. Sufian is unsure of her involvement in that push. “I am in listening mode right now,” she said. “I plan to identify barriers and service gaps, and will work with my counterparts within HHS, across the federal government, and with cities and states to improve access to home- and community-based services.” Jack Rubin, a Holocaust survivor who testified January 15 before a United States Senate Select Committee hearing titled “Aging in Comfort: Assessing the Special Needs of America’s Holocaust Survivors,” said Sufian’s appointment is inadequate. “We believe that a serious assessment by this committee of the actual cost of needed in-home care and basic emergency services such as medicines, dental care, hearing aids, food, rent, utilities, transportation and other vital services will show a multi-billion dollar deficit,” he said, according to his prepared remarks for the hearing.
Rubin said survivors are not seeking funds from the U.S. government, but rather seeking the government’s assistance in pressuring Germany and companies that had insured Holocaust victims before the war, yet have not paid off those policies, to take responsibility for survivors not just in the United States, but worldwide. “The Holocaust survivors in this country strongly believe even at this very late date, we must return to the origins of Chancellor [Konrad] Adenauer’s promise in the 1950s when he said that modern Germany must take care of all of the needs of survivors due to the savage actions” of the Nazi regime, Rubin told the committee. “Survivors’ mental and physical health care needs are more extensive, more complex and more dire than other elderly people, and require serious, comprehensive responses,” he said. “I’m sure the vice president meant well” when he announced his initiative, but “it’s not going to solve the problem,” Rubin told JNS.org. For her part, Sufian said such matters are in the purview of the State Department. “I will be sharing what I learn about the needs of survivors with my colleagues at the State Department and with others in the federal government as appropriate,” she said.
cuses on the Holocaust, uses Tippy and Mrs. Kugelman to explore how difficult it can be for survivors to talk to family members about their experiences, yet how necessary it is for their children to learn their parents’ histories. What is striking about “Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman” is the novel’s tone: For the most part, there is a sense of whimsy, both in Tippy’s initial view of life and in Mrs. Kugelman’s almost fairy tale-like stories of her home town. Even when the work moves into more serious subject matter, the lightness remains. While I enjoyed “Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman” and found it easy to read, it struck me as an oddity, one that will not appeal to those who prefer Holocaust novels to strike a more solemn tone. Like “Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman,” “In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” focuses on two main characters. However, Feuerman offers a broader view of the Israeli population. In addition to the 40-something Isaac Markowitz, who traveled to Israel from the U.S. after the death of his mother, the novel features an Israeli Arab: Mustafa, a janitor who works on the Temple Mount. Isaac came to Israel because he felt lost: his life in the U.S., even though financially successful, was spiritually unfulfilling. Unsure of what to do after his arrival in Jerusalem, Isaac visits a kabbalist noted for helping people discover their life path. There he finds a temporary home and profession: assisting the rabbi and his wife care for those in need. When walking near the Temple Mount, Isaac meets Mustafa, whose physical disability caused hin to be exiled from his village. Their conversation resonates with Mustafa, who wants more from life, including the love and respect of his family. Isaac, too, longs for more – for love and a family – yet is afraid to risk being hurt again. When Mustafa offers Isaac a gift, this gesture of friendship places both their lives in danger. Feuerman does an excellent job creating complex characters, particularly Isaac, whose strengths and weaknesses are clearly delineated. At the same time, she clearly shows how he changes over time, particularly in his ability to look beyond the surface to understand what people really seek. Mustafa is also an interesting character; however, his more limited intelligence makes his portrayal problematic. There is a risk of seeing him as a stereotype. Fortunately, the author is successful in making his feelings and desires See “Book” on page 12
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FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
World’s oldest siddur slated for future Bible museum in Washington, DC
By Sean Savage JNS.org The discovery of the oldest Jewish siddur (prayer book) ever found has set off a flurry of attention on ancient religious texts. Dating back to 840 C.E., the siddur sheds new light on medieval Judaism and the continuity of Jewish traditions over time. Currently part of Hobby Lobby President Steven Green’s “Green Collection,” the largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts in the world, the siddur and the rest of the collection will be donated to the as yet unnamed international Bible museum in Washington, DC, slated to open in 2017. Jerry Pattengale – assistant provost at Indiana Wesleyan University and director of the Green Scholars Initiative, the research arm of the Green Collection – spoke to JNS. org about the discovery of the ancient siddur, Jewish-Christian relations, and the upcoming Bible museum. JNS: What are some of your responsibilities at the Green Scholars Initiative? Jerry Pattengale; My role is to put together the research teams and programs as well as interface with other academic institutions. We have 90 professors involved in over 60 universities and a number of museums as well. I also administrate all of our lecture series across the world. We have had nearly 100 scholarly lectures in the past four years. JNS: What is the story behind the ancient siddur? How did the Green Collection come into possession of the book? JP: In short, since 2008, many families that had collections for many decades have started to offer major items for sale due to the economic downturn. When we started purchasing items from different collections, we became bombarded by people looking to sell their stuff. Often we get very unique calls because they are convinced of what we are doing. Mr. Green is giving all of this to the museum. He is not buying to collect it; he is giving it all away. In this particular case, a family called and wanted to offer it to us. They knew it was valuable and how meaningful it would be to a lot of different traditions. It wasn’t until we started our research on it that [we learned] it was the earliest Jewish prayer book ever found.
The oldest Jewish siddur ever found, pictured, is part of The Green Collection, which will be donated to the future international Bible museum in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of The Green Collection) JNS: How was the date of the book’s origin determined? JP: When we realized what we were looking at, we decided it would be best to carbon date it. We removed two small sections from the book non-invasively and sent them to two separate labs. They did not know what they were testing; it was a double blind test. Both results came back with a date of 840 C.E. Our scholars had originally dated it to 850 CE. The whole process was very exciting. JNS: What contents of the siddur would modern Jews find familiar, and what would they find different? JP: It has services for the Sabbath and the 100 blessings, which you would find in most modern prayer books. That alone makes it relevant to most Jewish communities and something they would recognize right away. There is also the liturgy in there for Passover and the “Song of Songs” poem for Sukkot. I think something a lot of people would be interested in is the poem on the end of times or the apocalyptic text. This is a story that was very popular at the time, but we don’t see often anymore. Finally, there is a really unique section at the end that we are calling the ‘Salvation for Zion.’
JNS: The Green Collection/Scholars Initiative is largely connected with Evangelical Christians. What role does the Green Initiative play in that interfaith relationship? JP: The Green Scholars Initiative is the research arm of the Green Collection and attempts to remain objective in its research initiative. There is no religious requirement for involvement. We have various scholars from different religious traditions and/or sects within them. While we attempt not to recruit scholars that are predisposed critically against a view, our efforts have been to have top scholars as the main consultants over projects, and capable scholars working on items Given the nature of our collection, it’s only sensible that the vast majority of interested parties are Jewish and Christian. JNS: Do you feel that the Green Initiative helps to bring Jews and Christians closer together? JP: Certainly, many of our scholars either studied in Israel or with Jewish scholars in the U.S., or are Jewish scholars who have studied with key scholars of Christianity… The Green Scholars Initiative, through generosity of the Green family, funded the workshop at the Israel Museum [in 2012] on conservation of Dead Sea Scrolls and early papyri texts. This was a wonderful educational event for a mix of scholars from these faith traditions. The current exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum [in Jerusalem] is also a joint project, as well as the items on exhibit from the Green Collection with the Gabriel Stone at the Israel Museum…Also, the Greens have made very serious purchases from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and key collectors that include important items for both the Jewish and Christian faith traditions.” JNS: Will you also be involved in the upcoming DC Bible museum? Can you tell me a bit more about what future visitors can expect to see there? JP: Besides an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars to preserve and share the history, story and impact of the Jewish and Christian texts, and the huge investment for continued research and resources, the museum will also have a space offered to Israeli institutions for display. Besides a major space for rotating exhibits, the museum is See “Siddur” on page 14
Jerome’s estate planning said a lot about him. What does your estate planning say about you? Jerome Giles, who passed away in July 2012, spent most of his adult life as a Special Education teacher, supervisor and as a certified school psychologist. He spent 26 years in local political office including 14 of them as a member, secretary, vice president and president of the Lakeland School Board. He was active in many organizations dedicated to youth and community involvement and served as a member of the Board of Temple Hesed (Scranton) from 2007 to the date of his passing. In his Will, he provided for an unrestricted endowment to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania totaling $1 million. The income from his gift will be used to perpetuate Jewish life in Northeast Pennsylvania, to sustain our many institutions, to support Israel, and to assist our People in 57 countries around the world - wherever Jews are in need or under threat. Our community is eternally grateful for his generosity. Write your prescription for a better Jewish future by remembering the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania in your estate planning. For more information, please call Mark Silverberg, Executive Director at 570-961-2300 (ext. 1) or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
Israeli celebrity chef injects hummus, “balagan” into Jewish heart of Paris
By Cnaan Liphshiz PARIS (JTA) – In the elegant silence of a narrow street near the River Seine, David Moyal takes a breath of fresh winter air and enters a noisy restaurant in the French capital. Inside Miznon, he is transported to another world, filled with the cacophony of Hebrew voices and Israeli music. A bustling new bistro that Moyal runs in the fourth arrondissement, Miznon is becoming hugely popular with Israelis and French Jews thanks to its Tel Aviv feel and audacious mission to pack Paris into a pita. Inside, a few dozen customers are chatting and gesticulating while eating fusion dishes such as ratatouille with hummus, beef bourguignon with fried eggplant or a whole
head of roasted cauliflower. Sometimes a staffer will spontaneously start drumming on pots to songs by Yehoram Ga’on or the Dorbanim as one of his colleagues doles out complimentary glasses of mint tea. “As you can see, we were going for good service, but with a healthy amount of Israeli ‘balagan,’” Moyal says, using the Hebrew slang word that translates roughly as “hullabaloo.” Opened in October in the heart of the Marais, the historically Jewish district on the right bank of the Seine, Miznon is the brainchild of Eyal Shani, a well-known Israeli television chef who owns a successful restaurant by the same name in Tel Aviv. “My vision is to take whole cities and translate
them into one pita,” Shani says. “So in this case, to take Paris’ energies, its groove, its longings, its limitations, its beauty and its food, and express all of that in one pita.” Miznon is not the only Israeli restaurant in the Marais to offer pita power for a couple of euros. Next door is L’As Du Fallafel (The Falafel Ace), a Parisian eatery whose devoted clientele and 35 years in existence have made it into something of an institution here. Moyal, 32, says he is unfazed by the competition. “The Ace have nothing to do with what we’re about,” he says. “They are selling Israeli food from the 1970s. We are offering a taste of contemporary Tel Aviv mixed with Paris.” Some Israeli fans of Miznon become indignant at the mere comparison. “Miznon is one of the few places where you can get real hummus, which they cook and make here,” says Hen Solomon, who has been living in Paris for several years. “The rest of the restaurants here sell the cliche of Israeli food, shwarma and falafel. That’s bullshit. Been there, done that.” Still, Ace does have its own card to play. Unlike Miznon, which is kosher style, the Ace is certified kosher. The fact that Miznon is situated in the heart of the Marais carries special significance for Moyal, who grew up here. Once clotted with Jewish shops and restaurants, the area has grown more chic and become less Jewish in recent years. “It’s very im-
Book The Paris outpost of the Tel Aviv restaurant Miznon serves fusion dishes of Israeli and French cuisine in a pita. (Photo by Cnaan Liphshiz)
real: I came to care about Mustafa as much if not more than Isaac. The story of these two men, and their hopes and dreams, is beautifully written and ultimately moving.
portant for me that Miznon is keeping Jewish presence here,” Moyal says. If Miznon succeeds in becoming a hub for Israel-born expats in Paris – a population some estimate at approximately 5,000 Israeli celebrity – it would be a first, chef Eyal Shani according to Ariel is the inspiration Kandel, the Jewish behind Miznon, a Agency’s head of Tel Aviv eatery that operations in France. has just opened an “Paris doesn’t have outpost in Paris. any of those Israeli (Photo by Miriam hangouts you see in Alster/FLASH90) New York, London or Amsterdam,” Kandel says. “Maybe Miznon will become just that. So far their marketing has been brilliant.” Indeed, the restaurant has received rave reviews from some of France’s hippest publications, including L’Express Styles, Nous Paris, Time Out and Le Figaro, among others. In addition to non-Jewish clients, the publicity has brought in a stream of French Jews. “We can’t afford a ticket to Israel every week, so we come here to be reminded,” says Nathalie ben Chetrit, a Miznon regular. “But we also come for the banane au chocolat.”
Continued from page 10
“In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” is currently available only as an e-book, but a paperback version will be published in March.
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FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF from israel From JTA
Yesh Atid would quit gov’t over draft bill, Lapid says
Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid said the party would leave the coalition government if a bill requiring haredi Orthodox yeshiva students to serve in the military does not include criminal sanctions for draft dodgers. Lapid, the finance minister in the current government, said on the Israel Channel 2 program “Meet the Press” on the night of Feb. 8 that the criminal sanction should apply to all draft dodgers, not just yeshiva students. “There is a law that must obligate everyone, and everyone will have to obey it,” he said. “We will not sit in a government that will not pass the draft bill, and it must be real. I won’t accept some kind of camouflage just to stay in the government.” Yesh Atid made a universal draft law, which it calls Sharing the Burden, one of its major campaign issues. The Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, with whom Lapid has shared an alliance, opposes jail time for yeshiva students who do not respond to their conscription summonses. Lapid called the issue of draft dodging “an open wound in the heart of the state.” On Feb. 6, haredi Orthodox demonstrators protested nearly $3 million in cuts to yeshiva funding over draft deferrals. A government committee headed by lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home is working to finish revising a universal draft law that already has passed its first reading in the Knesset. The final bill is expected to be brought for its second and third reading in mid-March.
Hadassah doctors threaten full strike with hospital in financial distress
Doctors at Hadassah Medical Center said they would start a full strike if they do not receive the salary owed to them. Staff members on Feb. 9 threatened to go on a full strike the following day unless they receive the remaining half of their unpaid salaries by midnight, the Times of Israel reported. They received only half their January salaries
Continued from page 6
Pvt. Or Meidan. She moved to a southern kibbutz in Israel from Uganda. In November 2012, her town was a regular target of Hamas rockets. Today, she is an Iron Dome missile defense system operator. Also listed is First Sgt. Monaliza Abdo, an Arab-Israeli combat soldier. While most Arab-Israelis don’t even take part in army service, Abdo rose through the ranks to become a commander, teaching soldiers how to combat terrorism and other threats. In December, she completed three years of service – one more than the required number for Israeli women. Lt. Amit Danon, a former Israeli national champion in rhythmic gymnastics, became a combat officer in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion. She is also on the IDF’s list. “She was one of the first women to become an officer in a combat unit,” Risa Kelemer, a commander who also serves in Caracal, told JNS.org. Kelemer, who is from Baltimore, said Caracal is the only co-ed combat unit in the world. “Boys and girls play the same roles,” she said, noting that despite this she has felt little tension from the men she works with. “I encounter more difficulty when I am in civilian life. I meet someone who says, ‘You are a combat soldier? Girls aren’t combat soldiers!’” Kelemer does not pretend to be as strong as her male counterparts, though she said she is able to hold her own. When it comes to an operation, however, she said each person has a role. Kelemer, for example, is a trained grenade launcher. Another female comrade is a sharp shooter. Another is a medic. “Combat is not just running with 50 pounds on your back,” said Kelemer, “though we also do that.” Katja Edelman, originally from Kansas and now a student at Columbia University, recently completed her service as a combat infantry soldier in the IDF’s canine unit. In that role, she worked with dogs in the field and trained them back at the base. She told JNS.org that the IDF “has a lot to be proud
Dylan Ostrin, of Houston, who is on the IDF’s recent list of “8 Female Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013.” (Photo courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces) of regarding integration of women… I felt like I had amazing opportunities in my service and was able to do many of the same things men do… It was always important to me to demonstrate professionalism and capability to set the right precedent for a continued and hopefully expanded role for women in the IDF.” Edelman said she did feel pressure to prove herself in the IDF, and she went to extra lengths not to show signs of fatigue “even if the boys were openly exhausted. “I feel that most women in male-dominated workplaces can relate,” she said. Kelemer’s mother, Amian Frost-Kelemer, said she is “incredibly impressed with and proud” of her daughter. But she is also “petrified.” “She believes she can do whatever the guys can do. She is really fast. But the weight they have to carry is not great for a woman’s body,” Frost-Kelemer told JNS. org. “Mentally, there is no issue. Physically, the reality is that as strong as she is, it is about heart – she is there for the heart.” Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer in Overland Park, KS.
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due to the center’s $367 million deficit. The doctors at Hadassah’s two campuses have been on partial strike, offering only urgent treatment on a Sabbath and holiday schedule for nearly a week. Doctors in all of Israel’s hospitals went on a two-hour strike on Feb. 9 in solidarity with the Hadassah staff. Israel’s Health Minister Yael German announced a financial recovery package offered to the hospital, including a government loan of more than $14 million to be matched by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Haaretz reported. The announcement came after the hospital on Feb. 7 filed for court protection against its creditors, including employees filing to receive back salaries, after two Israeli banks cut off their lines of credit, according to reports. The money from the government and Hadassah would allow the hospital to continue operating, but not to pay the back salaries. Haaretz reported that the court trustee in the case will not take over management of the hospital. Hadassah Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in Israel and the only one specializing in head trauma.
Princeton partnering with Herzliya school for semester program
Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs established a joint program with the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. The joint program with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, will begin in the fall. Under the program, juniors from the Wilson School will enroll in the Middle East specialization at the Lauder School. At the end of the semester in Israel, the students will write a policy paper as part of the Princeton Task Force Program. IDC Herzliya is the Wilson School’s only partner in the Middle East. Princeton has similar partnerships with six universities worldwide, including the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and Sciences Po in Paris. Founded in 1994, IDC Herzliya is the first private, non-profit institute of higher education in Israel. Twentyfive percent of its student body comes from abroad, mostly from the United States and Europe. Princeton has study abroad programs at several universities in Israel: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Rothberg International School; Tel Aviv University; the Lowy School for Overseas Students; and the University of Haifa.
Australian energy firm to pay $2.5 billion to enter Israel’s Leviathan gas field
The Australian Woodside Petroleum company signed a $2.5 billion deal to enter the Leviathan gas field in offshore Israel. The owners of Leviathan were in Australia the week of Feb. 5 to try to finalize a year-old nonbinding deal worth up to $2.3 billion, The Australian newspaper reported on Feb. 6. Woodside will pay more than it had originally offered to enter the gas field because its owners want to pipe much of the gas to Turkey and other regional countries. Pipeline exports to Turkey require less development spending, which would increase the value of the gasfield. Under the new memorandum of understanding, Woodside will take a 25 percent stake, down from 30 percent discussed in previous rounds of negotiation, the paper reported. The terms of entry are $850 million up front and $350 million on a final investment decision. After this, Woodside will pay up to $1.3 billion for a 5.75 percent royalty on well-head export gas revenue after at least 2 trillion cubic feet have been exported from the Leviathan field. It will also pay a royalty of 2.5 percent on any commercial oil production from the deep prospect after development costs. The deal is conditional on a fully termed agreement and policy, tax and regulatory approvals from Israel. The Leviathan field, located about 80 miles west of Haifa in northern Israel, has not yet begun gas production; it is scheduled to start in 2017. The partners are Avner Oil Exploration, Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil Exploration. In June, Israel’s Cabinet approved the export of about 40 percent of the country’s recently discovered reserves of natural gas while keeping a 25-year supply for national consumption. The decision was upheld in October by the Israeli Supreme Court. Several large natural gas fields have been discovered in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel in recent years. There are projected to be approximately 950 billion cubic meters of gas in the fields.
Proposed space and science center to be named for Ilan Ramon
A new educational center for space, technology and science named for the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon will be built in central Israel. The Ramon Campus in Modiin, about 20 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, is a joint project of the Ramon Foundation and Bar-Ilan University. A meeting to launch the project was held on Feb. 6 at the university. Ramon was a payload specialist aboard the U.S. space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere in February 2003. The Ramon Campus will feature a scientific and educational center aimed at promoting science education, according to a statement released Feb. 6 by Bar-Ilan University. “Our life is a chain that cannot be disconnected,” said Bar-Ilan University President Daniel Hershkovitz, a former minister of science and technology. “The sages say that righteous people never pass away because their influence continues to be felt. This can be said of the late Ilan Ramon, who is a source of inspiration to children, scientists and industry alike.”
Save the Date!
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Benefit Concert Thursday, March 20
Maestro Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra return to Carnegie Hall for a benefit concert. Joined by internationally known violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth, the orchestra performs Brahms’s Double Concerto in A Minor and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor. If enough community members are want to go, a bus trip may be organized. Please email Dassy if you’re interested at email@example.com.
THE REPORTER ■ february 13, 2014
New Season of
Peter Max works on exhibit
• 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!
Original drawings of Peter Max are on exhibit at the Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY, through February 23. Max has been called a “visionary pop artist,” whose work helped define the 1960s. The exhibit features work by Max from the ‘60s to contemporary time. For more information, visit www.nassaumuseum.org/exhibits_peter_max.php or contact the museum at 516-484-9337.
Retreat to feature Itzhak Perlman
Dreamcatcher Events will hold a retreat with violin master, conductor and teacher Itzhak Perlman from August 18-22 at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, NY. “Bows and Batons: four days of music and music appreciation with Itzhak Perlman and Friends” will offer an opportunity to share music and conversation with Perlman; his wife, Toby Perlman; Merry Peckham of the Perlman Music Program; and some of the program’s alumni. The retreat will also offer a series of concerts and workshops led by Perlman and Perlman Music Program instructors and musicians. Highlights will include a series of performances featuring classical masterpieces along with commentary from the performers, in an informal concert setting. For more information, visit http://bowsandbatons.com/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for the retreat, visit http://bowsandbatons.com/itzhak-perlmanregistration-policies/.
Jewish book sale
The students of Yeshiva University will present their annual Seforim Sale, which has been called North America’s largest Jewish book sale, through February 23, in Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Ave., on YU’s Wilf Campus in Manhattan. The sale is operated entirely by YU students. Those who cannot attend the sale can order online on the Seforim Sale’s website. For a listing of dates and times, to purchase gift certificates or to view the online catalog, visit www.theseforimsale.com. Proceeds from the sale support various initiatives, including student activities on campus and undergraduate scholarships.
Continued from page 11
offering three spaces of around 12,000 square feet to three major world museums. This is still in negotiations, but we have been in contact early on with a Jewish institution, offering this wonderful opportunity to have a special presence a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. One thing that also is often lost in this, is that the Green family is giving all of the items to the museum. They are not collectors. They are doing this for the public good.
Continued from page 7 which recently questioned Weiss’ Orthodox credentials. Incidentally, SAR is not the first Orthodox school to allow girls to lay tefillin; the Ramaz School in Manhattan made such an allowance as far back as the early 1990s, though it made no public announcement about it until SAR did. And eight centuries ago, the daughters of Rashi, the medieval French rabbi, were said to have worn tefillin. While the more public battles have been over women being ordained, laying tefillin or reading from the Torah, there are innumerable issues related to women both large and small with which Orthodoxy is grappling. It’s not just about clergy, but also women serving as synagogue presidents, making the blessing over bread or wine on Shabbat, or dancing with Torah scrolls on Simchat Torah. While initially considered aberrant, some of these practices have gradually gained acceptance in mainstream Orthodox circles. Will the changes considered controversial today gradually gain mainstream acceptance, too, or are they fated to remain a fringe Orthodox phenomenon? In an elastic movement with no central governing authority or membership structure, it’s hard to say. Clearly the haredi Orthodox will stand against change. The question is which way the modern Orthodox and the institutions associated with them – the RCA, Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union and the National Council of Young Israel, to name a few – will swing. There is, perhaps, one factor that may play an outsize role in determining this: leadership. If the change agents within Orthodoxy become educators, role models and leaders of the next generation of modern Orthodox Jews, successfully pass on their commitment to both halachah and egalitarianism, and continue to live a life committed to Jewish law, they could transform the face of modern Orthodoxy. But if they fail, then those who have been arguing all along that these changes have no place in Orthodoxy will see vindication in that failure.
FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
in the case of Portugal’s law of return, the Lusa news agency reported on Jan. 20.
Virginia Beach students to make up school on Saturdays
Jewish groups condemn new Presbyterian study guide on Zionism
Virginia Beach City public schools will have classes on three Saturdays to make up for days lost from a major snowstorm last month. “We hope our community could be reassured that our religious needs can be met,” Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Beth Chaverim, a Reform congregation in Virginia Beach, told the local media. “We don’t want anyone to pay a price for the snow that came upon us.” Zoberman told WAVY-TV, “I would like to believe that someone overlooked the fact that on Saturday Jews meet at worship. We also have pre-arranged special events such as bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs.” At least one seventh-grader’s bar mitzvah is scheduled for one of the makeup days. Phillip Goldstein is worried that none of his friends will be able to attend the morning service on April 26, according to The Virginian-Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty. Along with April 26, the other makeup days are Feb. 15 and March 29. “Designating makeup days for time lost due to inclement weather is one of the most unpopular decisions a superintendent makes,” Sheila Magula, the superintendent of Virginia Beach Schools, said in a statement. “There is never a day that is convenient for all of our students, staff and families.” School board member Leonard Tengco told the local ABC affiliate WVEC that the school district’s online calendar has stated “for years” that Saturdays are an option for makeup days.
Hungary’s main Jewish umbrella votes to boycott state Holocaust commemorations
The main Jewish umbrella group in Hungary voted to boycott the state-sponsored Holocaust memorial program unless the government makes changes to redress distortions of history. Representatives of Mazsihisz, the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, at a special assembly on Feb. 9 voted 76-2 to “distance” the organization from the government’s program marking the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz “under the present circumstances.” Its resolution said the government plans “do not take into consideration the sensitiveness of those who went though the horror of the Holocaust.” Mazsihisz, the resolution said, can take part in the Holocaust 2014 program and will use the grants it received from the government’s Civil Fund for memorial events “only if the Hungarian government changes its attitude toward the memory and research of the Holocaust.” Prime Minister Viktor Orban must take action on three specific issues, the resolution said: halt the erection of a memorial in downtown Budapest to the German occupation of Hungary; dismiss Sandor Szakaly as the director of a new government historical institute; and suspend the creation of a Holocaust memorial museum in a former Budapest train station. The resolution said the monument’s “symbolic message promotes the shifting away of national responsibility” in the Holocaust. It also noted that Szakaly recently characterized as “a police action against aliens” the 1941 roundup and deportation of about 18,000 foreign-born Jews to Kamenets-Podolsk, Ukraine, where they were massacred. As to the museum, Mazsihisz experts still do not know what the museum’s “take on history” will be, the resolution said, and the head of the museum project, Maria Schmidt, “does not cooperate with Mazsihisz.” Representatives of Jewish organizations raised their concerns at a Feb. 6 meeting with Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, who heads the state’s Holocaust memorial year program. At the meeting, Lazar said Orban would address the concerns the week of Feb. 9. Orban already wrote to Jewish leaders in January defending the German occupation monument, saying it would commemorate all Nazi victims. Meanwhile, several synagogues and other Jewish institutions have unilaterally announced that they will decline funding from the Holocaust memorial year Civil Fund. “We are sad to have witnessed how in recent weeks the remembrance initiatives have become unworthy pawns in governmental political games as Hungary approaches its parliamentary elections,” a statement from the Bet Orim Reform congregation said on Feb. 9 announcing that it would not accept the Civil Fund grant. “Bet Orim does not wish to be part of this kind of political strategy.”
A study guide on Zionism published by an arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is drawing expressions of outrage from Jewish groups. The guide is “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups. The study guide by the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network is titled “Zionism Unsettled.” It posits that a “pathology inherent in Zionism” drives the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rejects theologies that uphold Zionism. It also calls for an “expanded, inclusive” understanding of the Nazi genocide that would apply its lessons not just with respect to the persecution faced by Jews but also to the plight of the Palestinians, among others. The guide urges a “renunciation of the morally hazardous claims of a hierarchy of victimhood.” The Israel Palestine Mission Network advises the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but does not necessarily speak for the church, according to mission network’s website. But the JCPA noted that the church funds and must approve the expenditures of the mission network. “As such it is impossible to separate the toxic actions of IPMN from the PCUSA without the kind of clarification from PCUSA officials that remains sorely missing,” Gutow said in the statement. The Simon Wiesenthal Center warned that the guide could result in Jews cutting off ties with the church. “If this book reflects the feelings of the PCUSA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will divest all contacts from this institution and call on other Jewish organizations to do them same,” the center said in a statement. The American Jewish Committee called the guide “a devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the state of Israel.” The guide was released ahead of the church’s biennial General Assembly, taking place this June in Detroit. The gathering will once again consider recommendations that it divest from companies that deal with Israel’s military. Similar resolutions have been narrowly defeated in the past.
Woolsey: Antisemitism could be playing part in Pollard saga
Former CIA Director James Woolsey said antisemitism could be part of the reason the United States has refused to release spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard. Woolsey noted in an interview on Feb. 8 with Israel’s Channel 10 that Americans who spied for other countries were freed after much shorter sentences. “I certainly don’t think that it is universally true, but in the case of some American individuals, I think there is antisemitism at work here,” said Woolsey, who served as head of the CIA during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. Pollard is in the 29th year of a life sentence in a U.S. prison for spying for Israel while a civilian U.S. Navy analyst. Woolsey said that most in the American intelligence community considers the Pollard case “ancient history, which is one reason that Pollard ought to be released.” The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, last month said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio that the continued imprisonment of Pollard is “on the verge of antisemitism.” A week earlier, Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. deputy national security advisor, said in an interview with i24 news, an international 24-hour news and current affairs television channel based in Tel Aviv, that Pollard should be released. An increasing number of figures involved in government when Pollard was given his life sentence in 1987 now say his sentence should be commuted. The calls to release Pollard have intensified in the last year, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both U.S. political parties. Pollard is up for parole in less than two years.
Senate urges State Dept. to renegotiate terms for return of Iraqi Jewish archive
The Senate unanimously urged the State Department to renegotiate the terms for the return to Iraq of an archive of Iraqi Jewish texts. The resolution passed on Feb. 6 “strongly urges” the department to renegotiate the agreement with the Iraqi government “in order to ensure that the Iraqi Jewish Archive be kept in a place where its long-term preservation and care can be guaranteed.” The nonbinding resolution also “recognizes that the Iraqi Jewish Archive should be housed in a location that is accessible to scholars and to Iraqi Jews and their descendants who have a personal interest in it.” The resolution was initiated by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). U.S. troops uncovered the archive in the Iraqi secret service headquarters in Baghdad in 2003, much of it waterlogged. Iraqi agents under Saddam Hussein had looted many of the articles after the dictator had driven the remnants of the Jewish community out of the country in a terror campaign. Under an agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority that had governed Iraq, the materials were sent to the United States where experts, led by a National Archives team, restored them. Iraqi Jews in Israel, the United States, Britain and elsewhere oppose its return to Iraq under the agreement, saying the government now in place is not sympathetic to Jewish interests and would not make it available. The archive, now on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC, is due to be returned in June. Jewish groups, including the Orthodox Union, the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, praised the Senate for passing the resolution.
Spain OKs bill for Jewish return
Spain’s Jewish community congratulated the government for approving a bill proposing to facilitate the naturalization of Sephardic Jews of Spanish descent. On Feb. 7, Spain’s government approved the bill, which was filed in January by the ruling Popular Party and proposes to amend previous legislation that allowed for granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews who chose to apply for it. Spain’s Federation of Jewish Communities, or FCJE, said in a statement on Feb. 7 that it welcomed the move. “Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon has kept his word,” the FCJE statement said. The bill proposes to allow dual nationality, enabling those who can prove Sephardic ancestry to also retain their other citizenships. Reports about the bill did not say when it would go up for a vote by lawmakers of Spain’s Congress of Deputies. Spain already granted citizenship to individuals who applied based on previous naturalization laws for Sephardic Jews, but had no procedure in place to process such requests, the Terra Espana news site reported on Feb. 7. Ruiz-Gallardon said the measure smooths the bureaucracy involved in obtaining Spanish citizenship. Applicants must be vetted by the government and FCJE. Ruiz-Gallardon announced his intention to introduce new legislation in November 2012. His Popular Party introduced the bill in December 2013 after Portugal passed its own law of Jewish return in July. Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Spain and Portugal during the 15th and 16th centuries when they were persecuted by the Catholic Church and the royal houses of both countries. In January, the initiator of the Portuguese law, lawmaker Jose Ribeiro e Castro, urged the government to draft regulations to allow its implementation. Portuguese law gives the government 90 days to draft regulations for laws passed, but this did not happen
THE REPORTER â– february 13, 2014
Don Douglass, Esq. General Campaign Chair
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February 13, 2014 edition of The Reporter