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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania JANUARY 31, 2013
VOLUME XI, NUMBER 3
Can Lapid and Netanyahu make common cause? By Uriel Heilman (JTA) – The recent election in Israel was a watershed – but not in the ways one might think. In almost every election cycle, the campaign has been about one thing. To adapt James Carville’s famous adage: It’s about security, stupid. Except this time, it wasn’t. The reason is counterintuitive: With Israel facing immense security challenges on everything from Iran to the Arab Spring to Hamas’ growing strength in the Palestinian territories, there is wide consensus among Israelis that now is not a good time to take risks for peace. Polls show that even as most Israelis still favor a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most believe peace is not achievable in the near term. And with no credible alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the vast majority of Israelis took for granted that he would win and lead the next government anyway. So when it came time to go to the polls, an unusually large number of Israelis cast their votes for parties focused mostly on domestic socioeconomic issues and hardly at all on security – namely, Yesh Atid, which picked up 19 seats in the 120-member Knesset, and Labor, which won 15 seats. Meanwhile, the right-wing bloc in Netanyahu’s coalition lost a bit of ground, slipping to 61 seats from 65. But it would be a mistake to interpret
NEWS ANALYSIS the right wing as nearly deadlocked with the left, as some headlines have suggested. Rather, the other side of the political aisle is divided. Yesh Atid’s 19 seats belong in the political center, not on the left. To wit: Party leader Yair Lapid made clear during the campaign and after that he is interested in joining a Netanyahu-led coalition. The center-left controls 23 seats – Labor with 15, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua with six and the eviscerated Kadima with two. The left has just six, in the unabashedly secular and pro-peace Meretz party. And the Arab-Israeli parties have 11. The right wing, though it hails from a multiplicity of parties, including Orthodox and nationalist ones, is not nearly as divided – ideologically or pragmatically. These are the parties that have stood together in a steadfast coalition for four years – practically an eternity in the Israeli political universe. Even Naftali Bennett, leader of the new nationalist Jewish Home party, which catapulted to 12 seats in the new Knesset, is a former Netanyahu chief of staff. The man of the hour following the election is, of course, Lapid. Son of the late Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, a Holocaust survivor who worked as a journalist before leading the liberal, secular Shinui party from 1999-
one of the world’s most ex2006, Yair Lapid long has been pensive cities. In central Tel a well-known and popular figure Aviv, apartments cost $5,700 in Israel. to $7,100 per square meter. The For years he was a respected average Israeli salary is about TV commentator and journalist $2,572 per month, and families focusing more on domestic and with two wage earners earn apcultural issues than on secuproximately $3,428 per month, rity or politics. But Lapid began according to Israel’s Central publicly flirting with the idea of Bureau of Statistics. Teachers in entering the Knesset amid the Israel earn an average of $1,666 massive socioeconomic protests a month – among the lowest in the summer of 2011 and, last January, he formally inaugurated Yesh Atid chief Yair in the world, according to the his new party, Yesh Atid (Hebrew Lapid addressed Organization for Economic Coparty supporters in operation and Development. for There is a Future). Cars and gasoline cost nearly The party’s unexpectedly Tel Aviv following strong showing – capturing the release of exit double what they do in the nearly one-sixth of the Knesset poll results from the United States, taxes are much – answered a question that has Israeli elections on higher and even basic household been on the table since the 2011 January 22. (Photo goods cost more. Israelis were protests: Would the hundreds of by Avishag Shaar outraged to learn that the ubiqthousands of Israelis who took to Yashuv/Flash 90/ uitous Israeli soup nuts made by Osem carry a higher price in the streets that summer be able to JTA) Israel than they do in New York, translate their energy into politiseemingly defying all logic. These are the cal power come election time? The emphatic yes delivered by Yesh things that Lapid talked about in his camAtid’s supporters highlights the growing paign and they struck a chord, particularly importance of kitchen-table issues in Israel, with young Israelis. Remarkably, Lapid rode to victory with particularly for hard-working Israelis in good jobs who are finding it hard to make a slate of candidates as diverse as Israel, a rarity in the country’s hyper-factionalized ends meet. Tel Aviv, where Yesh Atid had its politics. Yesh Atid’s 19 Knesset members strongest showing, consistently ranks as include avowed secularists and Orthodox rabbis, figures associated with the right and left, blacks and whites, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, and eight women. “The citizens of Israel today said no to politics of fear and hate,” Lapid said on January 22. “They said no to the possibility that we might splinter off into sectors, and groups and tribes and narrow-interest groups. They said no to extremists, and they said no to anti-democratic behavior.”
Obama’s likely takeaway from Israeli election: More two-state advocates By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) – With the Israeli election results split evenly between the right-wing bloc and everyone else, no one in Washington is ready to stake their reputation on what the outcome means for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Middle East. Except for this: The next Israeli government likely will include more than two lawmakers committed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. In mid-December, resigned to what then seemed to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s certain re-election at the helm of a hard-right government, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv drew up what they believed would be the most likely new governing coalition. Then they researched each member and counted the lawmakers who had expressly committed themselves to a two-state solution. They came up with a grand total of two: Netanyahu and Carmel Shama HaCohen, a real estate agent from Ramat Gan and a political up-and-comer. HaCohen is unlikely to claim a seat in the next Knesset. He’s No. 32 on the Likud Beitenu list, which was projected to take 31 seats, though some ballots had yet to be counted when this article was written. But the prospect of more than two two-staters on the governing side has risen dramatically
President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following their meetings on May 20, 2011. (Photo courtesy White House/Pete Souza) with the split Knesset, while apprehension within the Obama administration about a Netanyahu driven into recalcitrance by hardline partners has likely diminished. White House spokesman Jay Carney eagerly took a question on January 22 on what the elections meant for peace prospects, even before official results were in and when exit polls projected Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc emerging with a razor-thin majority. “The United States remains committed, as it has been for a long time, to working
See “Lapid” on page 8
2013 UJA paign Update Cam
Pay it forward & give to the 2013 Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania Annual Campaign! with the parties to press for the goal of a two-state solution,” Carney said. “That has not changed and it will not change. We will continue to make clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis address all the permanent status issues that need to be addressed and achieve the peace that they both deserve: two states for two peoples with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with See “Election” on page 9
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE Birthright trips
as of Jan. 28, 2013
Sandy relief update
Kollel for the deaf
February 1....................................... 5:01 pm February 8.......................................5:10 pm February 15..................................... 5:19 pm
Registration for the summer season An update on local efforts to A new kollel in Jerusalem enables of Taglit-Birthright Israel will begin provide relief to Superstorm Sandy the deaf to study Judaism’s oral PLUS in February. victims in New York. law. Opinion...........................................................2 Story on page 3 Story on page 6 Story on page 7 D’var Torah...................................................8
THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
a matter of opinion Passivity against racism leads to disaster By Moshe Kantor (JTA) – One of the seminal slogans of the 20 th century was the historic refrain “Never again!” This cry that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust was meant to ensure that there would be no repeat of the greatest tragedy in modern European history. The refrain remains hollow if it remains a theoretical verbiage utilized during speeches and ceremonies, but lacking any real intent and action. In recent years, a seemingly long dormant ideology returned to a semblance of power for the first time since the unconditional surrender of the German forces on May 8, 1945. For the first time in well over six decades, political parties that require members to be of “Aryan origin,” have full armed and open-fisted salutes, have logos distinctly resembling the swastika and call for a census of Jews are back in Europe. These elements are no longer consigned to the beer halls, isolated farm retreats or the margins of European political discourse. They are moving closer and closer to the mainstream. In fact, this newfound political confidence is reflected in the street, where more and more Jews are being physically and verbally attacked in the open. The Golden Dawn party in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary and Svoboda in Ukraine are just three examples of European political parties that have moved well beyond the historic far right and still unacceptable discourse of those like Le Pen’s National
“ The Reporter” (USPS #482) is published bi-weekly by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (570) 346-6147 Phone: (570) 961-2300 How to reach the advertising Representative: Phone: (800) 779-7896, ext. 244 E-mail: email@example.com Subscription Information: Phone: (570) 961-2300
Front and the Freedom Party in Austria. We appear to be entering a new phase in European political history that has extremely worrying parallels with the past. Of course, many will argue that none of these parties currently have great power. But at what point will their power be too much? It’s a question that all decision makers, opinion shapers and law enforcement agencies in Europe must ask. Not in a theoretical sense, but in a very real practical sense.
lauded the Nobel for the European Union’s commitment to peace and its success at unifying a continent that has known so much bloodshed. However, as Europeans, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and claim that a lack of war or conflict means that the European Union has succeeded in creating a harmonious and peaceful continent that can prevent future catastrophes. As the number of Holocaust survivors begins to dwindle, many are witnessing
Some eight decades ago, the National Socialist Movement caught many by surprise and most did not fully comprehend or believe that it would be willing or able to fulfill its genocidal and destructive platform. Living with this dark history in our relatively recent lifetime, we have no similar excuses. We know what this ideology seeks, we know what this racist movement aspires to and we cannot let it get a foothold again on our continent. The Jewish people and other minorities who are in the direct line of fire from this maleficent hate have no doubts that this threshold already has passed, and it is having a very real practical effect on the streets. A recent survey found that 63 percent of Hungarians are willing to affirm their antisemitism with no shame. On January 27, the international community observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the victims of the Holocaust and learn its lessons. A few days prior, I visited the seat of European governance, the European Parliament, which was the joint recipient of the recent Nobel Prize for Peace, along with other European Union institutions. Along with many others, I
something that would have been unbelievable to them only a few short years ago: The new groups, rapidly increasing in popularity, are emulating and co-opting the policies and ideology of those who murdered their families and brought to them untold suffering. There are too many Europeans, especially those among its leadership, who remember the death and destruction that follows the Nazi ideology and we, as Europeans, should do everything we can to rid ourselves of this force that again tries to lay a dark shadow on our continent. We call on all figures in Europe – media, cultural or academic – to use their platforms to assist the ridding of
this disease. European politicians as a moral mass must adopt stricter legislation proscribing groups that promote hate, discrimination and racism from European political institutions. There must also be a demand for tougher enforcement and punishment, and the strengthening of education toward tolerance. Some eight decades ago, the National Socialist Movement caught many by surprise and most did not fully comprehend or believe that it would be willing or able to fulfill its genocidal and destructive platform. Living with this dark history in our relatively recent lifetime, we have no similar excuses. We know what this ideology seeks, we know what this racist movement aspires to and we cannot let it get a foothold again on our continent. Just as eight decades ago, the Nazi ideology was able to take advantage of a financial recession, so we face similar economic challenges. This is when we must be at our most vigilant. We must beat back the advances of this ideology – not for the victims of the past but for the possible victims in the future. If we do not, then “Never again!” will remain a hollow term utilized during speeches and ceremonies. As the prominent Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer said, “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” Moshe Kantor is president of the European Jewish Congress and cochairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation.
FSU governments must act against rising ultranationalism
pealing alternative to the government’s search for national identity and fragile By Mark Levin and status quo. In Ukraine’s last parliamen- civil institutions, the popular antisemitism Anna Chukhno (JTA) – Friends of Russia and Ukraine tary elections, Svoboda received more that is always latent in these societies is are worried. The Russian government’s than 10 percent of the vote, up from less now more visible and suddenly a possible threat to its Jewish populations. recurring rhetoric about foreign meddling than 1 percent four years ago. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s To counter this, the governments of and fundamental differences between Russian and Western values is spur- administration has turned to national- Russia and Ukraine need to address ring nationalism. With Ukraine divided ism and anti-Americanism to curtail real issues such as corruption, the weak rule of law and ecoalong linguistic and religious lines, many The governments of Russia and Ukraine need to address real nomic instability. Ukrainians disillu- issues such as corruption, the weak rule of law and economic Better mechanisms sioned by pervasive instability. Better mechanisms to confront extremists’ political to confront extremcorruption and gov- messages need to be developed, and the governments’ ists’ political messages need to be ernment ineptness condemnation of antisemitic sentiments and incitement to ethnic developed, and the are turning to nationor racial hatred needs to be consistent and timely. governments’ conalist ideology. demnation of antiseThe Ukrainian right-wing Svoboda party has found domestic opposition. On December 28, mitic sentiments and incitement to ethnic fertile ground campaigning on a platform Putin approved a controversial law ban- or racial hatred needs to be consistent that combines xenophobic, anti-Russian ning adoptions of Russian children by and timely. Russia and Ukraine must and antisemitic elements. On many occa- Americans. Severe laws criminalizing embrace a nationalistic ideal that encoursions, Svoboda has called Jews and Rus- libel have been reinstated. Restrictive ages inclusiveness and mutual respect, sians enemies of the Ukrainian nation, laws aimed at international NGOs label foster education about xenophobia and opposed the annual pilgrimage of Breslov them agents of foreign governments. antisemitism, and improve mechanisms Chasidim to the grave of Rabbi Nachman Last September, the U.S. Agency for of enforcing hate crime legislation. Inventing internal and external enin Uman and sought commemoration of International Development was forced emies for the sake of national unity has the Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought out of the country. We find the recent developments a notorious history and no place in a alongside the Nazis. When Igor Miroshnichensko, a mem- alarming. Already the growing authori- democratic society. Xenophobia, radical ber of the Ukrainian Legislature, publicly tarianism has sparked a new wave of po- nationalism and antisemitism have never used the word “zhyd,” a derogatory term tential emigration among the intelligen- been the road to a stable, peaceful and for a Jew, he sparked a wave of right- tsia and business community. If this wave legitimate society. They are the errors wing nationalism and antisemitism in continues, it would be a sad loss to both of the past. countries, as these are the populations Mark Levin is the executive director the Ukrainian social media. Beset by increasing authoritarian- that also represent the countries’ great- and Anna Chukhno is a program assistant ism, widespread corruption, nepotism est resource for economic growth, social at the NCSJ: National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the and disrespect for the rule of law, many stability and a democratic future. Faced with economic uncertainties, the Baltic States and Eurasia. Ukrainians find in such ideology an ap-
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
community news Birthright Israel registrations to open in February Registration for the summer season of Taglit-Birthright Israel will begin in February for those looking to travel to Israel this summer. Registration for previous applicants will open at noon on Monday, February 11. Those who have applied before but did not come on the
trip will have an opportunity to get onto the priority list. For those who have not signed up before, registration will open at 10 am on Wednesday, February 13. To register, visit www.israelonthehouse.com. Sachlav – Israel on the House trips are non-denomination-
al. “No matter what your affiliation is or level of observance, this is the place where Jews from every background unite on up-close Israel adventures,” said a program representative. To travel with a friend or sibling, or for more information, contact the Sachlav team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wine tasting fund-raiser to benefit Congregation B’nai Harim Members of the community will have an opportunity to sample wines from around the world at a fund-raiser for Congregation B’nai Harim on Saturday, February 9, from 7-9 pm, at the Mountaintop Lodge in Pocono Pines. The cost to attend, $35 per person, will be all-inclusive. Thomas J. Holton, known as “The Wine Merchant,” will present the wine selection. In addition to the wine,
the event will feature an appetizer buffet. The French appetizer table will include baked brie en croute with apples and leeks; miniature artichoke gruyere cheese tartlets; vegetable crudités; antipasto; tapenade crostini; spanakopita (spinach and ricotta in phyllo dough); vegetable spring rolls with sweet and sour Asian sauce; smoked salmon roulade with cucumber dill and boursin cheese;
and “Pastry Chef Don’s” pastry table. Checks should be mailed before Friday, February 1, to Congregation B’nai Harim, P.O. Box 757, Pocono Pines, PA 18350. Included should be the name and phone number, as well as the number of reservations. For more information, call the message center at 646-0100.
The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition
PJC issue update – 2012 legislative session Human Service Funding – The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition strived to cease reductions in program support in the state’s budgets passed during this legislative session. It worked with Jewish Federations throughout the state and JEVS to educate elected and appointment officials about the impact on reductions to the state’s human service funding. It also worked with a coalition to negotiate a tripling of the asset test limit in the reinstatement of the SNAP Asset Test Limit for Pennsylvania. Aging in Place: NORCs – PJC spent the last session working with the administration to add NORCs to the Aging In Place agenda for the Pennsylvania 2012-16 Strategic Plan. NORC experts from the Jewish community were involved in meeting with the administration and regional focus groups in the strategic planning process. The PJC also worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to obtain funding assistance for NORCs. Education Improvement Tax Credits – Throughout the past two years, the EITC programs grew by $90-$100 million, with a $50 million additional program OSTC, focusing more on students than scholarships. Along with this increase, the EITC program was reformed to include S-Corps to apply at the same time as other businesses, early renewal of applications, and the credit ceiling was increased. Tax exempt status Supreme Court decision – Legislation moved in the state Senate and House to address a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision addressing the taxing criteria for nonprofits. This legislation to change the state constitution needs to be passed in two consecutive
legislative sessions and then be approved by the voters of Pennsylvania. The bill passed the state Senate, but time expired in the state House. Another effort is in development to pass the legislation in the 2013-14 session and again in the 2015-16 session before going to the voters of Pennsylvania for their consideration. Terror-Free Procurement – The PJC aims to take divestment from Iran and Sudan to “the next level.” Legislation to prohibit Pennsylvania from signing a procurement contract with companies who are investing or operating $20 million or more in Iran’s energy sector has been introduced in the House and Senate. The bills will be reintroduced this session and the PJC is preparing for movement. Holocaust Education – Representative Kevin Boyle (D-Phila.) introduced legislation to return $60,000 of Pennsylvania’s Holocaust education funding for the public schools. For more than 20 years, the state gave $60,000 for Holocaust education, but, in 2008, the money was removed from the budget due to fiscal constraints. The bill did not move last session, but will be reintroduced next session. Cyber-Bullying Legislation – Legislation to expand schools’ ability to enforce cyber-bullying (Facebook, Twitter, text, etc.) disciplines was introduced with the help of the Anti-Defamation League. A hearing regarding
legislation was conducted by the House Education Committee. The legislation did not move last session and will be reintroduced in this upcoming session. Immigration Reform – The PJC fought numerous immigration reform efforts from being passed into law. The one immigration bill that passed was an E-Verification bill for public construction projects. The PJC said it was “instrumental” in amending the legislation to remove the possibility of contractors discriminating against new hires in fear of the penalties under the E-Verification process.
S E N I L D A E D The following are deadlines for all articles and photos for upcoming Reporter issues.
Thursday, January 31...................... February 14 Thursday, February 14.................... February 28 Thursday, February 28........................ March 14 Thursday, March 14............................ March 28
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
Recalling Meyer Krawitz, Jewish leader
By Peter Becker Reprinted with permission of The News Eagle Adding to any community’s heritage is its spiritual dimension. In Hawley, this in part has been fulfilled by a rich Jewish component. Families, early on, some immigrating from Eastern Europe and other areas, settled here and made a lasting mark. Assisting with the observance of their traditions in the early to mid 20th century was Meyer Krawitz. (Pronounced “Myer.”) Krawitz, a native of Russia, lived from 1859-1951. He and his wife, Mary, lived at 516 Spring St. in Hawley. Learned in the law of Moses, Meyer held services on High Holy days and other special occasions for local Jewish families in his front room. His son, Louis, is recalled as the founder and owner of the longtime Krawitz Department Store at 309 Main Ave., where today we find the Hawley office of The Dime Bank. Later known as the Hawley Department Store, this anchor business was one of several throughout Hawley’s history of commerce founded and run by those of the Jewish faith. Russian immigrants Eugene “Art” Glantz, whose parents had a restaurant in the Joseph Skier Building and who now lives in Stroudsburg, recalled Meyer Krawitz well. He shared much of the information contained here. The elder Krawitz and his wife, Mary, in addition to Louis, were the parents of
Meyer Krawitz, born in Russia in 1859, had a junk business in Hawley. He led Jewish services in his home at 516 Spring St. (Photo courtesy of Art Glantz) Harry and Simon Krawitz. We know that Louis was born in Lenen, Russia, in 1888, and left for Scotland in 1897. He then immigrated to the United States in 1905 and, five years later, settled in Hawley. Glantz stated that he did not know when Meyer Krawitz arrived in the U.S., but Louis came first and probably arranged to bring the rest of his family over.
This apartment house at 516 Spring St., Hawley, was once the Krawitz homestead where Meyer Krawitz held Jewish services in his downstairs apartment. (News Eagle photo by Peter Becker)
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I’m sure on my two cousins as Hawley street directories spelled well,” Glantz reflected. “We went his name as “Myer” Krawitz. In to study with him nearly every day 1912, he and Mary lived on Church after school.” Street, near Academy, and was On Saturdays, Krawitz would in the junk business; their son, take the Torah from the ark and read Louis, was a peddler. The 1925 a portion of the week so Glantz and directory has “Myer” and Mary his cousins could learn the ritual. living at 516 Spring St. He lived This was done despite the rule that in the downstairs apartment of the Krawitz home. Joseph Skier a quorum of 10 people needed to Glantz related some memories s h a r e d i n be present. Glantz and his cousins would about Krawitz as a junk dealer. A l e a d i n g t h e letter from a Mrs. Knorr recorded services, with often roll cigarettes for Krawitz. that Meyer, with a white beard and Meyer Krawitz, On one occasion, he said they must black felt hat, drove a small horse i n H a w l e y. have put in too much paper and and buckboard type wagon. He (Photo courtesy not enough tobacco. “When Itze lit the cigarette for his grandfather, went around the countryside buying of Dr. Marilyn the paper burned right up to Mr. bones and old bottles. The bones Pardine) Krawitz’s beard and nearly set it were used to help make gelatin for on fire,” Glantz said. dried soup. One day as teenagers – probably in the He also would buy a lot of rags. His grandson, Gene Krawitz, recalled that early 1940s – Glantz’s cousins “went on many times people who sold the rags strike,” skipping Hebrew class and going would pack them in burlap bags and try up the hill to Hawley High School. The to add to the weight by putting rocks in elderly Krawitz, cane in hand, walked up Bellemonte Avenue (Route 6) and marched among the rags. into Principal Joe Jacobs’ office. Krawitz Services in his home “He had a full beard and many people apparently convinced Jacobs that the boys thought he was a rabbi,” Glantz said. “I don’t should come back to his Hebrew school. think this was so, that is, I don’t think he Jacobs had one of his sons persuade the two was an ordained rabbi, but he was learned boys to go back to Krawitz’s class. The three boys went nearly every weekin the Jewish religion. It was not unusual for young boys in Europe to be trained in day after regular school to Krawitz’s home Judaic studies, but not everyone became for Hebrew class, and had an extended class on Saturday morning. Glantz said they proba rabbi.” Glantz stated that despite his age, Krawitz ably didn’t go on Friday afternoons since that was a time to prepare for Shabbat. was an excellent cantor. Glantz stated that he never knew “Despite his age and obvious infirmities, he led the services, read the Torah and Krawitz’s wife, Mary, who died in 1932. probably fasted on Yom Kippur. Anyone Meyer Krawitz died in 1951 at age 92 familiar with Orthodox Jewish tradition and was buried in Beth Israel Cemetery knows well the length those services run,” in Honesdale. Glantz said. Jewish families in Hawley Bar mitzvah, for boys when they reached Glantz, who grew up in Hawley in the the age of 13, was also observed here. 1930s and ‘40s, listed Jewish families that He said that the services followed the he recalled living in Hawley when he was traditional Orthodox prayer services but a boy, the number of children and their they had no formal name or organization. livelihood. He estimated that no more than 10 or 12 Mr. and Mrs. Louis Krawitz, five children people attended any one service. living away – the department store. Glantz further recalled that Joseph Skier, Mr. and Mrs. Simon – two sons at home who had a dry goods store downtown, – Simon worked in the department store. shared in leading the services. Glantz was Meyer Krawitz – retired. not sure when Krawitz was no longer able Mr. and Mrs. Joseph – one son living to lead the High Holy Day services. Skier away – dry goods store. died in 1946 and, by that time, Glantz said, Mr. and Mrs. Adolph – three children at Krawitz was much too elderly and feeble home – restaurant. to do what he did. Mr. and Mrs. David Skier – five children Concerning Chanukah, Glantz stated – dry goods store. that the festival was celebrated in their Abram Skier, lived in Honesdale – inhomes, rather than at a special service. surance. He recalled as a child a special prayer Ethel Skier – Hawley school teacher. that was added, the playing of the Myron Skier – in business with Abram. dreidel top and eating potato pancakes Isadore Ellis Skier – drug store. and jelly donuts. Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund Winter – one son “I first met Mr. Krawitz when I was at home – tailor. probably 4 or 5-years-old and my family Ella Wolle and Oscar Wolle (Oscar was was living above my parents’ restaurant not Jewish) – operated Hawley Inn. at 227 Main Avenue. Mr. Krawitz came to Mr. and Mrs. Em Hirsch – three sons our restaurant and began to instruct me in at home – jeweler and owned Trading the Hebrew language ‘A-B-Cs’ – the alef Post. bet,” Glantz recalled. Dora Hames, married to Hank Hames Glantz and his two cousins, Edwin (not Jewish) – homemaker. (Itze) and Gene Krawitz, learned under Milton Herman and Henry Marcus owned Meyer Krawitz’s tutelage. “Mr. Krawitz The Hawley Times for a while. Information was a very great influence on my life and on their families was not available.
MILESTONE EVENT The Annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust is reaching its 25th Anniversary! May 21-22, 2013 Details to follow
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
UJA Campaign Chai-lights
Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Thirty-two percent of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s 2012 UJA Campaign was allocated to “Israel and Overseas Commitments,” including the worldwide programs of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Jewish Agency for Israel “Making history, saving Jews, ensuring our future” True to the the Jewish Agency for Israel’s 80-year-old mission, JAFI brings Jews from forgotten and embattled nations to Israel. New realities also demand that they bring Israel to nations where Judaism has long been forgotten and that JAFI stands for Israel during troubled times. Featured programs include: Aliyah of Rescue – Today, more than 60,000 Jews are living in countries where their lives and well-being are at risk. Together with the government of Israel, JAFI stands ready to facilitate their rescue from anywhere in the world. The Jewish Agency Fund for Victims of Terror is an emergency response fund that assists the citizens of Israel living on – and most impacted by – the front lines of the war. JAFI’s work has included respite activities, emergency loans, financial support, trauma support and more. Aiming to reconnect the Jews of the former Soviet Union to their roots after decades of Soviet repression, Jewish Agency Summer/Winter Camps and Youth Clubs in the FSU are the primary gateways for introducing thousands of young Jews to their heritage. In Israel, together with the
IDF, JAFI runs the Nativ program, which strengthens the Jewish and Israeli identity of immigrant soldiers. JAFI is currently bringing the last Falash Mura Jews of Ethiopia to Israel and integrating them into Israeli society, and hopes to be finished by 2014. JAFI has recently taken charge of the operation of the Gondar facility, providing basic care and aliyah preparation. ALIYAH of rescue “In the not so distant past, it was thought that Jews around the world were safe. That rescue missions were no longer necessary,” noted a JAFI representative. “However, as global events such as the economic crisis and international terrorism take center stage, anti-Zionists and antisemites have whipped into action. We now face a new reality.” According to JAFI, the Jews of France in particular are no longer secure, and there are other places around the world where Jews who assumed that they could live their lives freely may also need to be rescued. For more than 60 years, JAFI and its partners have kept a promise to the Jewish people: “to bring any Jew, from anywhere in the world, to safety in Israel.” Working with its partner, the Israeli government, JAFI carried out a rescue mission called “one of the most miraculous in history,” airlifting 14,310 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the span of 36 hours as rebel forces overthrew Mengistu Haile Mariam’s dictatorship. Other actions have included: In 1992, in the midst of a civil war, JAFI went to Sarajevo and evacuated thousands
of Yugoslavian Jews.
For years, JAFI worked to bring Soviet
refuseniks to Israel. Sending emissaries to the former Soviet Union immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain, JAFI brought more than one million Jews home to Israel. In August 2008, as the conflict in Georgia escalated, JAFI brought Jews on emergency aliyah flights to Israel and settled them in absorption centers around the country. Recently, JAFI organized clandestine missions to rescue Jews from anti-Zionist countries. Keeping the Promise There are more than 60,000 Jews living in countries where they are at risk. “These countries have been, and will continue to be, in the news,” noted a JAFI representative. “But too much publicity can endanger Jewish lives.” JAFI has noted that caution must be taken to ensure that they protect, and do not expose, people in the communities of: The volatile Middle East Regimes where democracy is unheard of Countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel Regions in which anti-Jewish sentiment and racism are rising Republics that pledge the destruction of the state of Israel Countries in which the Jewish population is seriously threatened “We need your help, before it is too late, to ensure that Jews everywhere know that the Jewish people are behind them,” said a JAFI representative.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Young leader uses art to promote Jewish culture in St. Petersburg Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the years after the fall of Communism, Masha Sergeeva, 21, grew up with limited understanding of – or pride in – her Jewish identity. That’s all changed now. “My uncle, my mom’s brother, was a refusenik and went to Israel in the first aliyah in the ‘80s,” explained Sergeeva. “But my mom worked as an engineer at a closed Soviet weapons factory. No one was supposed to leave the country, so to have a brother who studied Hebrew, clandestinely went to synagogue and then emigrated raised a lot of questions.” Growing up in a secular home, Sergeeva had little exposure to Jewish traditions – that is, until she happened upon the local university Hillel (via its R&B and hip hop dance classes). She also found out about the JDC-supported Adain Lo Community Center in St. Petersburg, which offers families, children and young adults a variety of engagement opportunities. “I started to get involved and attended madrich (counselor) and leadership training where I got to hear speakers discussing Judaica, psychology, Jewish history, group management and lots of other topics I found interesting,” she recalled. Then, through her Jewish circle of friends, she found out about Lehava, “the seminar that changed our lives in significant ways,” said Sergeeva. JDC’s Lehava program in St. See “Committee” on page 7
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
A trip into hope By Dr. Sandra Alfonsi On Sunday morning, January 20, my friend Tony Stefano and I set out for our third trip into one of the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. This trip was very different. We drove my car and we carried no donations. I carried a notebook with blank pages – a notebook that hopefully would be filled, in part, with notes for saving and rebuilding a synagogue. This trip into hope actually began on Sunday, December 23, when we arrived in Howard Beach. It was then that we saw for the first time the devastation of the once magnificent Rockwood Park Jewish Center and of its spiritual leader, Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz. I made a promise to God, Rabbi Berkowitz and myself to do everything in my power to save this synagogue. I also promised Hashem that I would go wherever He led me without fear or trepidation. I truly believe that as I made this promise, the voyage to survival began for the Rockwood Park Jewish Center, its rabbi and its Jewish community. On December 23, NY 1 television had interviewed Rabbi Berkowitz and filmed the synagogue’s devastation. The journalist returned the next day and interviewed him again and took more footage of the damage. By midweek, NY 1 had begun to run a two-minute segment twice an hour. In the interview, Rabbi Berkowitz spoke of hope for his synagogue and for his community. He also spoke of the role
the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania played in bringing hope and help to him and his congregation. After two months of silence, the plight of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center became public knowledge. After two months of silence, hands started to reach out to Rabbi Berkowitz and his devastated synagogue. After two months of near despondency, hope came as he raised his eyes and voice to Hashem, and as Rabbi Berkowitz likes to quip, “I raised my eyes unto the mountains, and you came down from the Poconos.” In mid-January, Rabbi Berkowitz received a letter from someone who had seen the clip on NY 1. The woman who wrote the letter spoke of her reaction to the damage to this holy place and of the hope that she received from Rabbi Berkowitz’s words. Enclosed in the letter was a check for $2,000 to help rebuild the Rockwood Park Jewish Center. The letter was sent by Sister Annelle Fitzpatrick of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who live in Our Lady of Refuge Convent in Queens. Her religious order had sustained severe damage to three convents and four Catholic schools in Breezy Point, Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor and Broad Channel. And yet, these nuns found solace in Rabbi Berkowitz’s faith and wanted to be a part in the survival of this holy place. When Rabbi Berkowitz called to read the letter to me, he asked me if I thought that we could save the shul. I told him
• OPEN TO THE COMMUNITY •
Purim Fun For Everyone Sunday, February 24th • 1-4 pm at the JCC ADMISSION IS FREE
Ice cream sundaes! Hamantaschen! Basketball Mini-Golf Football Passs Tic Tac Toe
Haman Toss Ring-A-Bottle Shuffleboard Bowling Slapshot
Games, prizes & more - come in costume! Questions? Please call the JCC front desk at 346-6595, ext. 100 or 102.
Kids Yoga! Yoga, adapted for pre-school children, develops body awareness, language, good listening skills, cooperation and powers of observation. It teaches pre-school children about nature, their environment and inspires their imaginations. It prepares them for breathing techniques used in yoga. They learn by playing, singing, movingand imitating. This is an ideal time for children to begin a yoga practice. Yoga with school aged children balances quiet and active poses with game playing, singing, storytelling, drawing, simple breath meditations and rest. Children can easily follow the teacher’s instruction’s by learning the names of different body parts, their locations and function. As children learn the names of the postures and movements, they develop a yoga vocabulary. They can use their yoga poses to play games, take on the qualities of different animals or use their imaginations to make up stories about animals on a farm, climbing a mountain or trekking through a jungle. They can each assume the role of leader and teach their classmates a yoga posture or breathing exercise. Their yoga improves very quickly. Pre-teens learn about anatomy and physiology in greater depth. We discuss how muscles and joints allow bones to move; how yoga and meditation affect digestion, immune and neurological functions and the nervous and glandular systems; how yoga and meditation can help them study for exams and cope with the stress and pressures of daily life. The classes are physically challenging and provide a complete workout for young bodies.
Ages 4 - 12 Mondays, 5-5:45pm Continuing in January and February Location: Activity Room, JCC Scranton Free to members/$5 Drop In Fee for Non-Members Led by Mindy Hill
that I truly believe that the road has opened, that the path is in front of us and that we must follow the path wherever it leads. I also told him that I believe that this path will lead us to the re-dedication of this synagogue. Then I asked Rabbi Berkowitz how the repairs were coming along. His answer, that “Moshiach will probably come first,” did not fill me with confidence. He told me that there were problems with the contractors, who sometimes showed up and sometimes did not, and who left the synagogue in the middle of their work to go do another job. I told him very simply to fire them and send out bids for new contractors. NY 1 will do another interview at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center with Rabbi Berkowitz and the Sisters of Saint Joseph, but this interview will be about hope, faith and rebuilding. As Rabbi Berkowitz said to me about these new partners in hope and faith, “Only in America can this happen.” After Rabbi Berkowitz and I finished speaking, I called Mark Silverberg and asked him if we – the Federation of Northeast Pennsylvania – could “adopt” the Rockwood Park Jewish Center as one of its own and work toward its survival. “Go for it!” was Mark’s answer. And so I put together our team: Corey Bearak, my friend and colleague from the Queens Jewish Community Council and chairman of the board of the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council; Manny Behar, my friend and also executive director when I was president of the Queens Jewish Community Council; and Yoel Sharabi, my extraordinary friend and Israeli entertainer who has been by my side since 1985 for outreach and fund-raising for Hadassah and the Queens Jewish Community Council. It is an unbeatable team once we count all of the members of the Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Jewish communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania. All of this was in my mind as Tony and I pulled into the parking lot of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center. I smiled as I watched Rabbi Berkowitz stride toward us. I told Tony, “Look at the rabbi. Look at him walk. The miracle has begun.” My partner in this whole endeavor of bringing help and hope to the victims of Hurricane Sandy is and has always been Mark Silverberg, our outstanding executive director of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Mark understands every dream that I have and supports every promise that I make. He is my sounding board, my colleague and my friend. And that is why we, the members of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, are now a proud partner in this trip into survival of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center. I immediately saw that the outside windows have not yet been repaired and I told Rabbi Berkowitz, “Fix the windows. Let the light into the sanctuary. Electricity is not the answer. It is Hashem’s light that is missing.” We entered a building that now has electricity and heat... but not much more. Rabbi Berkowitz called a board member and he and I spoke for a moment. When he told me that the shul had indeed fired the contractors and had sent out for new bids, I asked if this time the proposals had deadlines with payments scheduled according to work completed. The answer, “Yes, indeed,” made me smile. “Rebirth has begun,” I thought. Corey joined Rabbi Berkowitz and me, as did Moshe, the young educator who will develop and direct a new youth program that will be one of two integral parts of the survival and growth of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center. The four of us went into the Green Room, which is called as such because of the color of its walls. The room has heat and electricity. It no longer smells from mold, as it did on December 23 when we first visited. The sheet rock is in place and the room now needs only modest repairs. See “Hope” on page 16
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
Bringing Judaism’s oral law to the deaf
maic) being cited, or its answer (terutz). The intricacies By Deborah Fineblum Raub of Talmud mean that each point is pivotal to arriving JNS.org at the next one. If one is deaf, no amount of lip reading JERUSALEM – If you are a religious deaf man in can provide a clue for the inflections that are necessary Israel, the traditional doors to Jewish learning have been for getting through Talmud study. in so many ways closed to you. But Yosef Tolidano – a An observer coming in from the noisy Jerusalem young deaf man descended from a long and distinguished street to witness Ma’aseh Nissim (which runs Sundayline of Sephardic rabbis – has pulled open those doors, Thursday at the Jerusalem kollel of Rabbi Moshe Fetehi) making it possible for the deaf to immerse themselves can’t help but marvel at the intensity of mental activity in the Talmud, which along with the Mishnah is known and multiple communications crosscurrents occupying as Judaism’s “oral law.” a room that is overwhelmingly silent. It has been eight months since Tolidano welcomed Chevrusat (study partners) can be seen debating the first students to his new kollel (institute for advance points of Jewish law, their fingers flying. Tolidano moves talmudic and rabbinic studies) for the deaf, called through the silent cacophony, taking turns learning with Ma’aseh Nissim (Hebrew for “the maker of miracles”). Now at 15 young men and growing monthly, this first- Inside Yosef Tolidano’s kollel for the deaf in Jerusalem, called each pair, adding comments in both sign and speech. Tolidano was born hearing 31 years ago in Tel Aviv, of-its kind program makes it possible for them to take Ma’aseh Nissim (which means “the maker of miracles”). (Photo the second of five children of Rav Yochanan and Oshra their rightful place amid the most challenging levels of courtesy of Ma’aseh Nissim) Tolidano, until a bout of meningitis in infancy left him Jewish learning: the passionate debates, fine streams of deaf in both ears. He attended a school for hearing children These joys have long eluded the deaf since the Talmud commentary, logical twists and turns, and precise definitions of Jewish law that make up the Talmud (“Gemara” is, at heart, an oral tradition. One needs to listen closely to and learned to read lips and speak. But, unlike many other See “Deaf” on page 12 know whether an intonation is a question (kushia in Arain Aramaic) itself.
Petersburg is an intensive Jewish leadership development experience spread out across a series of four week-long seminars and a concluding week in Israel. The participants learn a diverse range of skills, from how to build a CV and fund-raise, to writing business plans and assessing risk, to developing projects for their community. “The professionals who put on the training come from a vast variety of backgrounds and all love their work in a way that’s really evident and contagious. For this reason, the Lehava program was extremely stimulating for me and very apropos to that period of my life,” Sergeeva noted. At the end of the year-long course, Sergeeva’s project was one of three to be awarded funding and realized. She curated an exhibit of photos of Israel at a St. Petersburg nightclub to show young people and the general public real images of Israelis and everyday life in the often-stereotyped country. “I wanted people to see what Israel is actually like and to help break long-standing preconceptions about the country and Jewish people,” she explained. The show was called “a resounding success.” It was also
a personal turning point for Sergeeva. “I’d always loved photography but never got involved professionally. When I went to school for business I knew I didn’t really love It. Lehava helped me make the right choice for my future,” she said. “It helped me challenge myself and realize my project. That experience was so rewarding, it empowered me to pursue my profession.” Sergeeva decided to pursue a career in art management. She continued her studies and started organizing other exhibitions. Last year, she worked on curatorial projects at the State Hermitage Museum, Russia’s Contemporary Arts festival, and traveled to Israel and U.S. for work, too. With her current project, “Kislorod” (or “Oxygen”), Sergeeva has set out to help young Jewish artists start professional careers and find their own place in the modern art world. Working with her partner, Konstantin Benkovich, 30, a graduate of JDC’s parallel leadership track program in Moscow, she won a grant to give young Jewish artists increased exposure and visibility. Throughout the past year, they have held a series of
Continued from page 5 educational workshops and seminars, as well as six contests for young artists that received hundreds of submissions and were judged by “prominent” artists. The winning pieces were curated into six exhibitions in four cities in Russia and Belarus, and received extensive media coverage. “We are creating an international union of Jewish artists who show their work widely,” said Sergeeva. “Historically, we’ve seen the collaborative approach help many artists. We love the idea and are always looking for new partners and collaborators.” The pair said they are “excited” to promote Jewish culture and history in a modern and creative way. “We want our exhibitions to get people thinking and talking,” said Sergeeva, who evaluates her projects’ success by the impressions of the viewers. “Some visitors are surprised the work they’re seeing is by young artists. Others expect traditional work and are surprised to see really contemporary art. Many find their existing stereotypes about Jews and Israel collapsed by the artwork. For us, more than anything, seeing people moved emotionally is incredibly gratifying.”
Sign up today! The Jewish Federation is proud to give a helping hand to the businesses, business professionals, and non-profit organizations of NEPA during these difficult economic times by creating the NEPA Jewish Federation Business & Trade Alliance.
It will allow people from Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Wayne and Pike counties 24/7 access to: . Exchange Business Leads . Promote your Business . Develop Critical Business Skills and Solutions
. Post Job Opportunities and Receive Resumes . Increase Search Engine Optimization . Socialize and Network with Other Successful Business people
Sign up for membership at http://JewishNepaBTA.org If you have not yet registered your business on our new Alliance web site, please contact Mark Silverberg at 570-961-2300 (ext. 1) or email@example.com with your contact person, business name, business phone number, business e-mail address, and regular business postal address to ensure further Business and Trade Alliance communications and event invitations.
Take Center Stage! Sponsorship Opportunities Available. Capture the leading role and benefits as an Event Sponsor. For more information, please call Mark Silverberg at 570-961-2300 (ext. 1). NEPA Jewish Federation Business & Trade Alliance
NEPA Jewish Federation Business & Trade Alliance in Groups
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
d’var torah ABINGTON TORAH CENTER
Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: www.jewishheritageconnection.org Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week.
BETH SHALOM CONGREGATION
Rabbi Yisroel Brotsky 1025 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510, (corner of Vine & Clay Ave.) 570-346-0502 • fax: 570-346-8800 Weekday – Shacharit: Sun 8 am; Mon, Thurs. & Rosh Chodesh, 6:30 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 6:45 am; Sat & Holidays, 8:45 am. Mincha during the week is approx. 10 minutes before sunset, followed by Maariv.
BICHOR CHOLEM CONGREGATION/ CHABAD OF THE ABINGTONS Rabbi Benny Rapoport President: Richard I. Schwartz 216 Miller Road, Waverly, PA 18471 570-587-3300 • Website: www.JewishNEPA.com Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. Call or visit us online for our bi-weekly schedule
CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Rabbi Mendel Bendet 570-420-8655 • Website: www.chabadpoconos.com Please contact us for schedules and locations.
CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Allan L. Smith President: Henry M. Skier Contact Person: Ben Schnessel, Esq. (570) 222-3020 615 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 570-253-2222 • fax: 570-226-1105
CONGREGATION B’NAI HARIM
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum President: Phyllis Miller 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 7:30 pm, Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am.
MACHZIKEH HADAS SYNAGOGUE Rabbi Mordechai Fine President: Dr. Shaya Barax 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: Eric Weinberg 1 Knox Street, Scranton, PA 18505, (off Lake Scranton Rd.) 570-344-7201 Friday evening Shabbat, 8 pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 11:15 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF DUNMORE
President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF THE POCONOS
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Suzanne Tremper Contact person: Art Glantz 570-424-7876 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, 8pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF SCRANTON
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Moshe Saks President: Michael Mardo 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.
Highest uncommon denominator by RABBI DANIEL J. SWARTZ, TEMPLE HESED, SCRANTON Yitro, Exodus 18:1-20:33 When people complain about anything from the food in a school cafeteria to generic pop music to formulaic television, they often say something like, “Well, I guess they were trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” This is a metaphorical use of what was originally a mathematical term, used to help add different fractions. When a cafeteria or a network attempts to appeal to different groups of people, they sometimes try to appeal to the broadest, and usually least sophisticated, tastes of their potential audience – hence lowest common denominator. One of the highlights of this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, is the giving of 10 commandments. And yet, this highlight, particularly when it is called “The Ten Commandments,” is often turned into another lowest common denominator. These phrases, some claim today, are the basic laws needed for our society, indeed for any society, to function. If you just follow them – this lowest common denominator reasoning goes – everything will be fine and dandy. That’s why such people feel that the posting of the so-called Ten Commandments in every possible public place – which others believe is a violation of the separation of church and state fundamental to the workings of American society – will solve all of our problems. Not to denigrate the importance of these statements, but no, it doesn’t work that way. First of all, not all of these rules apply to everyone. For example, our sages (who, by the way, did come up with a list of “lowest common denominator rules” called the Noachide laws) felt that aspects of Shabbat would be beneficial to nearly everyone – but only for Jews was Shabbat commanded. But more fundamentally, the “lowest common denominator” view of our Torah portion misses something very important – the context, and thus the purpose, of these statements. And “statements” is the proper term. In the Torah, they are referred to as “aseret ha-d’varim” – liter-
Lapid Now the question is what Lapid will do with his newfound power. Clearly, he believes that he can have more influence from inside the government than from outside it, and Netanyahu reached out to Lapid as early as election night to invite him to join his coalition. The two are unlikely to find themselves in deep disagreement on Arab-Israeli issues. Lapid is not sanguine about the likelihood of progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, and he has made clear that he wants Israel to retain its large West Bank settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem. The more potent issue is likely to be what to do about drafting haredi Orthodox Israelis into the Israel Defense Forces. The longstanding draft exemption for haredi Israelis – a source of much resentment among those who serve – expired last summer. But so far there has been little change on the ground. It’s unclear where Netanyahu stands on the issue. He has spoken of the need to change the status quo, but he has been unwilling to oppose the haredi Orthodox parties, his coalition partners, on the issue. This time around, Netanyahu does not need the haredi parties to assemble a coalition and the haredim alone are not enough for Netanyahu to reoccupy the Prime Minister’s Office. In theory, Netanyahu can cobble together enough seats if both Lapid and Bennett’s Jewish Home party join him, giving him a slim 62-seat majority. It’s not an outlandish scenario. Bennett also wants to end the haredi draft exemption, though his hard-line views on Palestinian issues, including opposition to statehood and annexation of the West Bank, likely make some of Lapid’s progressive supporters queasy. With the Palestinian issue relegated to the back burner, however, both Bennett and Lapid might take a pragmatic approach and join with Netanyahu.
ally, “the 10 words,” though a better translation would be “the 10 utterances.” There are words in our Torah for commandments, rules and laws – but that is not what they are called. And that is not a merely semantic difference, for the first and most important utterance is not a law at all. (Note: as another example of the “uncommon” nature of this text, Jews and Christians number the commandments differently.) It reads, “I the Eternal am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.” That isn’t a rule, at least as we commonly understand rules. Rather, it is the setting not only for the rules that follow, but for our ongoing covenantal relationship with God. This covenant should be understood as the Highest Uncommon Denominator, for our covenant with God has no minimum requirements. It calls on us, at each and every moment, to strive with all our mind, heart and soul to do and be better. No matter how extensive a checklist of good deeds or commandments we might come up with, being in a covenantal relationship with God means that it is not enough to check off the boxes in rote fashion, even if we could somehow check every single one. There should be nothing rote about our behavior – to truly be in a relationship with God means to strive to be constantly in a state of “radical amazement” at the world, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel put it. We look at each day with a sense not only of awe, but of “Wow!” – and then respond to this “wow” by doing our best to make the world even better. There are always more commandments to fulfill, more good deeds to do, more passion we can bring to bear on life and the repair of the world. That is what this week’s portion is about – not a list of rules, but a mode of behavior. When we can enter that mode, feeling God’s presence in our heart, seeing the richness and wonder of the world, and seeking to increase justice and peace in all our interactions with the people and creatures with which we share this world, then we will be heeding Sinai’s true call.
Continued from page 1
Getting Netanyahu to take action to end the haredi draft exemption is another matter. The prime minister is famously risk averse, and moving ahead on an issue that could doom a future relationship with the haredi parties would be a huge political gamble. Which is to say that whatever coalition Netanyahu manages to put together may not hold for long – and that might bring everybody right back to where they started.
Exhibit on Jewish refugee scholars
The National Museum of American Jewish History is holding the exhibit “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges” until June 2. It tells the story of Jewish academics from Germany and Austria who came the U.S. after being dismissed from their teaching positions in the 1930s. Some found positions at historically black colleges and universities in the Jim Crow South. Through more than 70 artifacts and documents, the exhibit illustrates the connections between two minority groups that both have a history of persecution and how they shared the early years of struggle in the Civil Rights movement. For more information, visit www.nmajh.org or call 215-923-3811.
French Jews paying a price for gov’t efforts to curb extremism By Cnaan Liphshiz MARSEILLE, France (JTA) – As a soccer fan and treasurer of Maccabi France, Jean-Marc Krief is more preoccupied with his team’s legwork than with God’s work. So Krief was dismayed to learn that government officials in southern France were stripping the Marseille branch of the Jewish sports association of longstanding state subsidies because of its “religious affiliations,” as one official put it. Krief, who met his wife 10 years ago on a hiking trip organized by Maccabi Marseille, says the association’s local branch used to receive about $3,000 annually from the regional government. After several inquiries, he was told that to preserve its funding, the organization would have to include non-Jews on its board. His argument that Maccabi’s activities were secular and open to anyone, Jewish or not, fell on deaf ears.
French Jewish organizations have long relied on public assistance to finance their core operations. But eight groups in the southern French province of ProvenceAlpes-Cote d’Azur have been informed that they will not receive any public financing in 2013, according to the CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewish communities. In each of the last two years, the groups received a total of $180,000 annually in public subsidies. Local officials would say little about why the Jewish groups are being denied public support. Gerard-Jose Mattei, a spokesman for the president of the PACA regional council, told JTA only that funding would be given to “organizations that are not religious in essence.” But to local Jewish leaders, concerns about church-state separation are a red herring. Only Muslim and Jewish groups See “French” on page 18
Karen Allali, left, of the Jewish Guides and Scouts of France, and Jean-Charles Zerbib, regional liaison to Israel for the Unified Jewish Social Fund, spoke in Marseille in October. (Photo by Cnaan Liphshiz)
a Jewish and democratic Israel.” The language was boilerplate, but the context was not: Earlier in January, the narrative was that President Barack Obama had all but given up on advancing peace while Netanyahu was prime minister, believing that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” according to a report by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic. David Makovsky, an analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank with close ties to the major Israeli parties and the White House, said the Obama administration was likely to proceed with cautious optimism. “We’re entering into a period of uncertainty where Israeli politics will look like a Rubik’s cube,” Makovsky said. “But from Washington’s perspective, there might be more cards than a couple of weeks ago.” The Obama-Netanyahu drama of recent years, arising from tensions over Israel’s settlement building and how aggressively to confront Iran, may not soon disappear. In his post-election speech, Netanyahu said preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon remains his No. 1 priority. Obama also wants to keep Iran from having a nuclear bomb, which the Islamic Republic has denied it is seeking. But the two leaders have disagreed on the efficacy of sanctions and the timing of a possible military option. Additionally, there is a sense among Israeli rightists that Obama’s remark was leaked to Goldberg in a bid to bring down Netanyahu’s poll numbers, although no evidence has emerged to support the claim. The upside for Obama, however, is that Netanyahu will likely first court the centrist parties in coalition talks. According to news reports, he called Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, shortly after the polls closed on January 22 and told him they had great things to do together. In his own speech, Netanyahu said he could see “many
Continued from page 1 partners” in the next government. Lapid, the telegenic former journalist whose new party snagged an unexpected 19 seats, was the surprise winner in the balloting. He backs negotiations with the Palestinians and withdrawal from much of the West Bank, although he also aggressively courted some settlers. More piquantly, his chief adviser is Mark Mellman, a pollster ensconced in Washington’s Democratic establishment who has close White House ties. Netanyahu’s pivot to the center is to be expected, said Josh Block, who directs The Israel Project, a group that disseminates proIsrael materials to journalists and opinion makers. “Predictions of Israeli voter apathy and of a rightward shift in the Israeli electorate, both of which reached the status of conventional wisdom on the eve of the election, seem to have been incorrect,” Block said in an e-mail. “The voting, which was marked by near-historic turnout, appears to show an Israeli electorate reflecting a practical centrism: a desire for strong security and peace with Palestinians, a focus on economic issues and needs of the middle class, and a commitment to free markets and religious secularism.” Much of the election was fought on the widening income gaps in Israel, as well as on the role of the haredi Orthodox in Israeli affairs. Those issues likely will predominate in coalition negotiations, said Peter Medding, a political science professor at Hebrew University whose specialties include U.S.Israel relations. Medding said the negotiations could take weeks, particularly because of Lapid’s emphasis on drafting haredi Orthodox students and removing Orthodox influence from the public sphere. “The kind of policies Lapid has been putting forward does not sit well with some of the right’s natural coalition partners, particularly Shas,” the Sephardic Orthodox party that won 11 seats.
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
Babe Ruth and the Holocaust
the German-American community. Just State Assembly. By Rafael Medoff a few years earlier, more than 20,000 But the signatory who was by far the JNS.org best known to the American public was Babe Ruth is remembered for his home runs on the supporters of the German American George Herman “Babe” Ruth. field and his hot dog binges and other peccadilloes off Bund had filled Madison Square Garden Widely regarded as the greatest the field. But as the American public is about to discover, for a pro-Hitler rally. The World Jewish Congress agreed to baseball player in the history of the there was another Babe Ruth – one who went to bat for game, Ruth, known as the Sultan of women and minorities, including the Jews of Europe foot the bill for publishing Thompson’s anti-Nazi statement as a newspaper Swat, at that time held the records for during the Holocaust. advertisement. She drafted the text and the most home runs in a season (60) Throughout the spring and summer of 1942, Allied set about recruiting signatories. Seventy and the most home runs in a career leaders received a steady stream of reports about the Ger(714), as well as numerous other batting mans massacring tens of thousands of Jewish civilians. years ago on December 22, the “Christrecords. Having excelled as a pitcher Information reaching the Roosevelt administration in Au- mas Declaration by men and women of before switching to the outfield and gust revealed that the killings were not random atrocities, German ancestry” appeared as a fullgaining fame as a hitter, the amazingly but part of a Nazi plan to systematically annihilate all of page ad in The New York Times and nine versatile Ruth even held the pitching Europe’s Jews. In late November, the State Department other major daily newspapers. “[W]e Americans of German derecord for the most shutouts in a season publicly verified this news and, on December 17, the U.S. by a left-hander. Not surprisingly, Ruth and British governments and their allies issued a declaration scent raise our voices in denunciation of the Hitler policy of cold-blooded was one of the first players elected to acknowledging and condemning the mass murder. extermination of the Jews of Europe the Baseball Hall of Fame. But aside from that Allied statement, the Roosevelt and against the barbarities committed By participating in this Germanadministration had no intention of doing anything in reAmerican protest against the Holosponse to the killings. There was no serious consideration by the Nazis against all other innocent of opening America’s doors – or the doors of British-ruled peoples under their sway,” the declara- Babe Ruth in 1921. (Photo by George caust, Ruth used his powerful name tion began. “These Grantham Bain) to help attract public attention to the Palestine – to Jewish refugees. There was horrors ... are, in Jews’ plight. Timing is everything, both no discussion of taking any steps to rescue particular, a challenge to those who, on the baseball field and beyond, and the timing of Ruth’s the Jews. As quickly as the mass murder like ourselves are descendants of the protest was crucial: precisely at the moment when U.S. had been revealed, it began to fade from Germany that once stood in the fore- officials were hoping to brush the Jewish refugee problem the public eye. most ranks of civilization.” The ad went aside, Ruth helped keep it front and center. Dorothy Thompson was determined on to “utterly repudiate every thought In an era when professional athletes rarely lent their to keep that from happening. And Babe and deed of Hitler and his Nazis,” and names to political causes, and when most Americans – inRuth would help her. urged the people of Germany “to over- cluding the Roosevelt administration – took little interest Thompson (1893-1961) was the first throw a regime which is the infamy of in the mass murder of Europe’s Jews, Ruth raised his voice American journalist to be expelled from German history.” in protest. Ruth’s action is all the more memorable when Nazi Germany. She was once described The names of 50 prominent Ger- one contrasts it with the kind of behavior that all too often by Time magazine as one of the two most man-Americans appeared on the lands athletes on the front pages these days. influential women in the United States, advertisement. There were several Filmmaker Byron Hunter and Ruth’s granddaughter, second only to Eleanor Roosevelt. In the notable academics, such as Princeton Linda Ruth Tosetti, have collaborated on a soon-to-beautumn of 1942, Thompson contacted University Dean Christian Gauss and released documentary, “Universal Babe.” Those who are the World Jewish Congress with a novel University of Maine President Arthur accustomed to thinking of Ruth’s off-the-field activities in idea: mobilizing German-Americans to Hauck. Leading Protestant theologian terms of binges and carousing will be pleasantly surprised to speak out against the Nazi persecution Reinhold Niebuhr, news correspondent learn from the film of the slugger’s noble efforts on behalf of the Jews. William Shirer and orchestra conductor of women’s baseball, the Negro Baseball Leagues and the As a journalist, Thompson understood Walter Damrosch appeared on the ad. Jews of Hitler Europe. the man-bites-dog news value of GermanDr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of the David Americans protesting against Germany Babe Ruth’s plaque in Monument So did Freda Kirchwey, editor of the – especially in view of the well-publicized Park in Yankee Stadium. (Photo by political newsweekly The Nation, and S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington Oswald Heck, speaker of the New York DC. pro-Nazi sentiment in some segments of Wikimedia Commons)
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.
columns that cover everything from food to entertainment. 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.
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Yiddish Farm programs
The Yiddish Farm in New Hampton, NY, offers a variety of experiences for people interested in learning Yiddish, working on a farm or both. An 11-week program will include 200 hours of direct Yiddish instruction. Beginners and advance tracks are available. The program includes all courses from May 30-August 12. For those unable to attend week day programs, there is an “On One Foot” course from offers four-weekend introduction to conversational Yiddish. The classes will take place May 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26. For more information and a variety of other classroom options, visit www.yiddishfarm.org or write to Yiddish Farm Education Center, 71 Dzierzek Lane, New Hampton, NY 10958.
Ravblog, http://ravblog.ccarnet.org, is the blog of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The blog will feature members of the CCAR in addition to guest bloggers. The articles will look at issues the Jewish world facing today, including the future of the Reform Movement, Israel and religious practice.
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
For Jewish Deadheads, the music plays on
ing ways, the Dead never worked Hebrew By Chavie Lieber classics like “Avinu Malkeinu” into its FALLS VILLAGE, CT (JTA) – As a concert repertoire. But for many Jews, gentle snow fell on the Isabella Freedman attending shows was akin to a religious Jewish Retreat Center on a recent Friday experience and the band’s lyrics contain evening, some 85 people gathered inside a powerful spiritual messages. wooden lodge to welcome Shabbat – half in “The Baal Shem Tov taught that the way a meditation circle in which Grateful Dead you look at things throughout your day can lyrics served as a kind of mantra, the other in be an expression in the way you relate to a more “traditional” service where the Lecha God,” Yosef Langer said. “I was blown Dodi prayer was sung to the tune of the Dead away when I found that exact concept in classic “Ripple.” the Dead’s ‘Scarlet Begonias’ song when It was the second installment of Blues they sing, ‘Once in a while you get shown for Challah, a weekend retreat that attracts the light in the strangest of places if you dozens of Jewish Deadheads – or “grown-up look at it right.’” hippies retracing their past,” as one participant Langer, who has worked as a Chabad described the scene – to this placid corner emissary in the San Francisco Bay Area of the Connecticut countryside to bask in their collective love and reverence for the Jewish Grateful Dead fans celebrated Havdalah during the Blues for Challah retreat since the 1970s, got help from Graham to Grateful Dead. at the Isabella Freedman Center in Falls Village, CT, on December 1. (Photo by place a 25-foot mahogany menorah in the middle of the city for Chanukah in 1974, Over the course of two days, a color- Chavie Lieber) a ritual that persists to this day. In the ful sea of devotees – clad, unsurpris1980s, Langer spearheaded a “Grateful Yid” movement ingly, in tie-dye, hemp and oversized knit yarmulkes a newsletter for traders. in which he set up a table at shows beneath a giant sign – munched on organic food, swapped stories of their “Going to a show is kind of like going to a family simdays following the Dead and tripping on acid and, of cha,” said the 65-year-old Kippel, who now works for an that read “POT.” “They later learned our sign meant Put On Tefillin,” course, jammed. auction house in Florda. “You knew everyone there and “The Dead was a traveling band, they were always you felt like you belonged. It made me feel like I needed Langer said. Deadheads, Jewish and non, bring a talmudist’s eye picking up and moving,” Yoseph Needelman, a Deadhead to connect with everyone around me and get everyone to the band’s lyrics, most of them the work of lyricist from Jerusalem and the author of a book about the use involved who wasn’t there.” of marijuana by Chasidic rabbis, told JTA. “Their songs Kippel spent some 15 years taping Dead shows and Robert Hunter. “Eyes of the World,” from the band’s always talk about a road, a path, or driving to get back created the First Free Underground Grateful Dead 1973 album “Wake of the Flood,” contains messages on a journey. That directly relates to a Jewish journey of Tape Exchange in 1973 to help circulate the record- “about how my behavior in this world is reflected onto traveling to find the right path, and the Chasidic concept of ings among fans. He would organize people to bring others, and how I can reflect divinity,” said Leah Chava this world being a passageway. Jews and the Dead relate recording equipment, both to split the costs and con- Reiner, a 52-year-old from Massachusetts whose emin that we both wander.” fuse security guards – “sort of the same way a kibbutz brace of her Jewish roots initially manifested through listening to the Dead. A product of the 1960s San Francisco counterculture, operates,” he said. “He’s come to take his children home,” a line from one the Grateful Dead inspired a fanatical loyalty from fans “It went from a simple act of wanting to preserve the drawn as much by their music as the traveling carnival experience to collecting it, which reminded me a lot of of the band’s best-known songs, “Uncle John’s Band,” is of seekers and misfits that followed them from venue to how we preserve Judaism,” Kippel said. “Our ancestors a reference to the ingathering of the tribes, according to venue and obsessively trafficked in bootlegged recordings cherish our past and we try to preserve it, which is why Moshe Shur, one of the leaders of the retreat weekend. of their performances. Jewish Deadheads are obsessed with preserving the shows. “There’s something about the music that is so beautiful, it’s religious,” said Shur, an Orthodox rabbi who got Though it’s been nearly 20 years since the death of Jerry We were a family gathering.” Garcia, the band’s frontman and creative force, the Dead Only one member of the band, Mickey Hart, is Jew- close to the band while living on a California commune continues to be a cultural and commercial force – especially ish. And unlike Phish, the jam band that most closely in the 1970s. See “Music” on page 12 for the disproportionately large number of Deadheads who followed in the Dead’s endlessly touring, live tape-tradhappen to be Jews. “As Jews, we’re always searching for a sense of community and acceptance, and being in the Grateful Dead scene was a way to be yourself with no judgments, since the crowd is so diverse,” said Arthur Kurzweil, the author, Jewish educator, magician and Deadhead who was the weekend’s keynote speaker. “That old balding guy dancing next to you whose big belly is covered with a tie-dye shirt will go back to his job tomorrow as a banker. But at a Dead show, it doesn’t matter what he does.” Kurzweil isn’t the only one who has wondered about Our Cancer Wellness & Exercise Program those burly Deadheads. In “Perspectives of the Dead,” a Includes 3 eight-week sessions of exercise, water therapy, yoga, massage therapy and nutrition, collection of scholarly essays about the band published in catered to each patient’s needs 1999, Douglas Gertner noted how many Garcia lookalikes • Comprehensive Fitness Assessments before and after the program attended shows – “big men with thick dark curly hair and • A wide variety of activity options over each eight week period beards.” Only later does Gertner realize that these bearded • Seminars & Lectures on Exercise and Nutrition men are, like him, members of an “extended community” • A warm, friendly atmosphere where you will meet other cancer patients & survivors of Jewish Deadheads. • Massage Therapy Understanding the intense loyalty inspired by the Next session starting • Craniosacral Therapy Dead is a plaguing existential question that echoes January 14, 2013. through every Jewish Deadhead’s mind at some point • Lymphatic Drainage Therapy or another. Since its earliest days, Jews have been • Personal Training Call for details. important figures in the scene that grew up around Our Cancer Wellness Team at the Scranton JCC is a highly skilled, certified and the band. The legendary music promoter Bill Graham, energetic group of professionals that will assist you either in a group setting, or an early champion of the Dead, was a German-born Jewish refugee from the Nazis. Mandolinist David one on one with personal training. We are here to help you adopt or con-tinue a Grisman was a longtime collaborator, contributing lifestyle that fosters optimal health and wholeness. This team, combined with our the signature mandolin part on the studio version of state-of-the-art fitness center, aerobic studio and swimming pool, will help “Ripple.” Les Kippel was an early pioneer in the trading cancer patients and survivors overcome the everyday of live recordings and the founder of Relix magazine, symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression. Also, cancer patients and survivors will enjoy the benefits of exercise, meet other patients and survivors, and have an opportunity to better enjoy life to its fullest extent. Our team members include certified specialists in Cancer 911 Emergency Management Services has been updating mailing Wellness, yoga and specialized therapies, and also addresses in Monroe County and Lehman Townships in Pike professional fitness instructors and personal trainers. County. Please don't forget to notify the Federation so you
Cancer Wellness & Exercise Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Notice to our Pocono Readers will continue to receive The Reporter. Thanks, Mark Silverberg, Executive Director Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania
The cost is $90 per 8-week session of up to 24 classes per session. Call Cara Sherman at 346-6595, ext. 117, to register. JCC RECEIVES GRANT!
The JCC Cancer Wellness Program staff is proud to announce that it has recently been awarded a grant from the Scranton Area Foundation. This grant will fund new equipment and supplies for the program. These improvements will greatly benefit the participants, may of whom are from the Scranton area community. The staff of the JCC is grateful to the Scranton Area Foundation and its many donors for making these improvements possible.
THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
religious parents who insist their deaf children fit into the hearing world – which means solely speech and lip-reading, a cumbersome method prone to misunderstandings – young Tolidano had a mother who saw the value of signing for her son. So convinced was she of its importance that, when he was a child, she brought a teacher into her home to teach sign language to other deaf children and their mothers. Now, most of Tolidano’s students (who range in age from 25-35) receive the same special treatment. Though a few were already proficient in ISL (Israeli Sign Language) and a couple in ASL (American Sign Language) before arriving at Ma’aseh Nissim, for others the kollel is their first chance to enjoy the freedom of communicating in sign language. “Even if they know a little sign, too many deaf kids are embarrassed to speak with their hands and stayed closed off,” says Tolidano. “This is the place they can open up and really communicate.” Tolidano knows the challenges. Having spent 15 years in a hearing yeshiva with 400 other students, he says “it was very difficult although I had a good chevrusa who would sit with me and painstakingly go over the day’s learning.” But the strain
“It’s funny to see the way Jews also exchange bits and information about Dead shows and songs like an encyclopedia, the way they do about Talmud, but it makes sense,” said David Freelund, one of a number of rabbis who attended the retreat. “As a people, we have an intimate relationship with texts. We are the originals who study and critique text, so of course Jewish Deadheads will dissect lyrics.” But the Dead community is more than a bunch of graying hippies obsessing over
of struggling to read lips for four hours of study took its toll. Teaching for two years at Yeshivat Nefesh David, a Toronto program for deaf boys ages 13-18, Tolidano began to wonder what happens to many of these boys after high school, asking himself questions such as, “Is that the end of their learning? And what about the thousands of deaf Jewish men who never even had that chance to learn in ways we can understand?” The new kollel, the first one designed specifically for deaf men, is named after his grandfather, Rav Nissim Tolidano, who himself opened a yeshiva for Sephardic Jews, Sherit Yosef, in 1963 in Be’er Ya’akov – a town near Ramleh, perched between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. After inspiring thousands of students over a span of 50 years, the rav died this past June. “Every step of the way I have felt my grandfather’s blessing and his pride,” Tolidano says. Fetehi, whose own (hearing) students learn more noisily a room over from Tolidano’s, says the Tolidano family rabbis “are a chain that never broke. “[Yosef] is descended from leaders and he is a leader,” Fetehi says. “It’s something I could see as soon as we met. I knew he is
Continued from page 11 musical curios and obscure lyrical references. For most attendees at the retreat, the draw is the same as the band itself. Meeting a fellow Jewish Deadhead ignites an instant bond, a feeling of family. “The whole thing was very tribal for me,” said Jonathan Siger, a rabbi from Spring, TX. “The parking lot, where fans would surround the band and set up shop, reminds me of the way the Jews operated with the Tabernacle and the Temple. Culturally, we’ve set up camp for spiritual experiences.”
Yosef Tolidano, founder of the Ma’aseh Nissim kollel for the deaf, with his grandfather, Rav Nissim Tolidano (left). (Photo courtesy of Ma’aseh Nissim) the kind of person who can pull a group together coming from such different learning backgrounds and with such different communications skills. Now they come to this place and begin to feel they are worthwhile, that after so long they know they can learn as well as anyone.” Hillel Inglis is one young man who had the chance to learn as a teen in the Toronto program and then enrolled in a hearing yeshiva. But, until Ma’aseh Nissim opened, the London native never thought he’d have a chance to continue his education – his way. “When you can’t hear everything, you lose the points made,” says the 25-year-old with hearing aids in both ears. “Yosef switches our chevrusas every two hours, so we can help each other learn better,” he says. “Because, even though these guys are very smart, most never had a chance to develop the skills for Gemara study. Now all of a sudden it’s coming together.” “We’re like a family,” adds Mordechai Weisman, a 25-year-old Israeli with honey brown peyot (sideburns) and a ready laugh.
Continued from page 7 “My wife tells me I have more selfconfidence now, since I can actually use my mind,” Weisman says. “It’s like my full potential is now mine to use.” It’s that potential that continues to excite his teacher. In Tolidano’s sights is a vision of many deaf men from both secular and religious backgrounds learning together. He travels both inside and outside of Israel to raise funds. Tuiton is free, since Fetehi donates the space for the kollel. Each student receives a monthly $400 stipend to help defray living costs. Tolidano has a clear long-term vision for where he wants the kollel to go. “To get to the point where every deaf Jewish man can see himself as equal to every other learner, as truly comfortable and confident, as being able to ask the questions he could never ask before in a safe place, there is a lot of work to do,” he says.
Jews of Morocco
The Center for Jewish History in New York City is holding the exhibit “Looking Back: The Jews of Morocco” through June 30. It provides an overview demonstrating the presence of Jews in the ancient and modern kingdom of Morocco. The exhibition is presented through textual displays, documents, pull quotes, non-photo images (e.g. lithographs and engravings), historic photos, captions, replications of historic documents and other visuals that demonstrate the life of the Jews living throughout this North African country. For more information, visit www.cjh.org or call 212-294-8301.
Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment
Your gift to the Annual Campaign DOES A WORLD OF GOOD. Endowing your gift allows you to be there for the Jewish community of NEPA forever. A Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE) is a permanent fund that endows your Jewish community Annual Campaign gift as a lasting legacy. A PACE fund will continue to make an annual gift in perpetuity on your behalf. To determine the amount you need to endow your entire campaign gift, multiply your current annual gift by 20. You can fund your PACE by adding the JEWISH FEDERATION OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA to your will, or by making the Federation a beneficiary of your IRA. All contributions to establish a PACE are tax deductible.
Let your name be remembered as a blessing. Endowments can be created through a variety of vehicles, some of which do not necessitate funding during your lifetime yet still provide your estate with considerable tax benefits. They also enable you to perpetuate your commitment to the Annual Campaign in a way that best achieves your own personal financial and estate planning goals. Examples Of Ways To Fund Your Pace Gift Are:
* outright contribution of cash, appreciated securities or other long-term * capital gain property such as real estate * charitable remainder trust * gift of life insurance * charitable lead trust * gift of IRA or pension plan assets * grant from your foundation * reserved life estate in your residence * bequest Using appreciated property, such as securities or real estate, affords you the opportunity to eliminate the income tax on the long-term capital gain, will in some instances generate a full income tax charitable deduction and will remove those assets from your estate for estate tax purposes. For more information contact Mark Silverberg at Mark.Silverberg@jewishnepa.org or call 570-961-2300.
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
The Jewish side of The Three Stooges By Robert Gluck JNS.org To the average fan, The Three Stooges’ shenanigans may obscure how their Jewish backgrounds shaped their lives and work. But not for Gary Lassin – president of The Three Stooges Fan Club, editor of The Three Stooges Journal and curator of The Stoogeum (a museum of Three Stooges memorabilia). “As a Jewish fan of The Three Stooges, I’ve always been fascinated with the boys’ use of Yiddish in their films,” Lassin told JNS.org. “Non-Jewish fans are intrigued by this as well.” The Stooges were back in the news in 2012 with the Farelly Brothers’ “The Three Stooges: The Movie.” That feature film is based on the Stooges’ early to mid-20th century short films. Regarding the Stooges’ legendary shorts, Lassin’s research has revealed that no fewer than 38 shorts utilized a Yiddish term or expression. The Stooges made 190 shorts during their careers, and 40 percent of them included either Hebrew or Yiddish, according to Lassin. Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp were born Jewish. Moses Horwitz was born on June 19, 1897, in Brooklyn to Solomon Horwitz and Jennie Gorovitz, the fourth of five brothers of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. Although his parents were not involved in show business, Moe, his older brother Samuel (Shemp) and younger brother Jerome (Curly) all eventually became world-famous as members of The Three Stooges. Larry was born to a Jewish family as Louis Feinberg in Philadelphia. His father, Joseph Feinberg, was a Russian Jew and his mother, Fanny Lieberman, owned a watch repair and jewelry shop. Lassin said, “There’s little doubt that Yiddish was the language spoken in the Horwitz and Feinberg homes during Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp’s formative years.” For example, the map of “Jerkola” from the 1955 short “Stone Age Romeos” shows five locations that have their origins in Yiddish: Shmow Lake, The Schnozzle Mountains, Borscht Island, Mish Mosh and Ferblongent. Originally known as “Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen,” The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy act of the early to mid-20th century best known for their numerous short subject films. Using physical farce and extreme slapstick, the Stooges were commonly known by their first names: “Moe, Larry, and Curly” or “Moe, Larry, and Shemp,” among other lineups. The original trio did one feature film titled “Soup to Nuts,” after which Shemp left the group to pursue a solo career and was replaced by his brother Curly. This incarnation of the team was the first to be known on film as The Three Stooges. The 2012 movie – starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso – recreates the characters played by Moe, Larry and Curly. The film’s story places the
The Three Stooges are ubiquitous at “The Stoogeum” memorabilia museum in Ambler, PA. (Photo by Gary Lassin)
Stooges in a modern setting. Although most fans rank Curly as their favorite stooge – mostly because of his sound effects and child-like demeanor – the Farrellys enjoy Larry the most. “The Farrelly brothers have always categorized Larry as the great reactor and that’s what made him their favorite,” Larry Fine’s grandson, Eric Lamond, told JNS.org. “He was also quite an accomplished violinist and an amateur boxer.” Lamond is the marketing director of C3 Entertainment, the company originally founded by The Three Stooges. Today, C3 is a diversified entertainment company involved in television and motion picture productions, retail and product development and sales, and the licensing, merchandising and promotion of brands worldwide. In Ambler, PA, Lassin runs the 10,000square-foot, three-story Stoogeum, which contains 100,000 artifacts dubbed “Stoogeabilia” from 1918 to the present. The museum includes several interactive displays, a research library, a 16mm film storage vault and an 85-seat theater used for film screenings, lectures and special presentations. The Stoogeum is also the headquarters of The Three Stooges Fan Club, one of the nation’s oldest and largest clubs with 2,000 members worldwide. An annual meeting of the fan club brings together Stooges relatives, supporting actors, impersonators and fans. So what, exactly, makes the Stooges funny? “There are plenty of theories,” Lassin said. “They dealt with a lot of themes of the boss versus the worker and the lower class versus society folks. Those are universal themes.” Lassin said the boys did a lot of fundraisers for synagogues and donated their time for the less fortunate. With the onset of World War II, the Stooges also released several entries that poked fun at the rising Axis powers. “You Nazty Spy!” and its sequel “I’ll Never Heil Again” burlesqued Hitler and the Nazis at a time when America was still neutral and resolutely isolationist. Moe is cast as “Moe Hailstone,” an Adolf Hitler-like character, with Curly playing a Hermann Goering character (replete with
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medals), and Larry a von Ribbentrop-type ambassador. Though revered by Stooges fans, as well as the Stooges themselves (Moe, Larry and director Jules White considered “You Nazty Spy!” their best film), the efforts indulged in a deliberately formless, non-sequitur style of verbal humor that was not the Stooges’ forte, according to Ted Okuda and Edward Watz, authors of “The Columbia Comedy Shorts.” Lon Davis, author of “Stooges Among
Us,” said the subject of Judaism never came up in conversations he had with Moe Howard and Larry Fine. “Still, I know that each man identified himself as being of the Jewish faith,” Davis told JNS.org. “The impact of that faith on their lives was their style of humor. Yiddish comedy was highly prevalent in vaudeville.” Davis said Larry spoke Yiddish at times and sprinkled various expressions into his observations. “Larry loved to tell jokes. One had to do with a mink that had died and was greeted at the gates of Heaven by St. Peter. ‘For being such a fine mink, and for siring hundreds of offspring, the Almighty will grant you anything your heart desires,’” Davis said, recalling Fine’s joke. “‘Delighted,’ the mink responded. ‘Well, I’ve always wanted a full-length Jewish lady.’” With shopping season for Hanukkah and Christmas gifts in full swing, the Stooges’ still-high DVD sales trigger the question: Why has their comedy stood the test of time? “I’ve been asked this a lot,” Lamond said. “People tend to overthink it. They lasted because what they did was funny. They did it incredibly well and they were able to do it incredibly well because they worked so hard at it.”
The Three Stooges are ubiquitous at “The Stoogeum” memorabilia museum in Ambler, PA. (Photo by Gary Lassin)
Save the date!
March 7 at 7:30pm University of Scranton, Brennan Auditorium The Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute of the University of Scranton announces a lecture by Matt Seinkiewicz, Boston College "Just Strange Enough: Jews, American Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity"
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
Create a Legacy for our Jewish Future in NEPA Your charitable gifts to the Federation can result in immediate and/or future benefits for you and your family.
TYPES OF GIFTS PERPETUAL ANNUAL CAMPAIGN ENDOWMENTS (P.A.C.E.) There are considerable tax advantages in establishing a P.A.C.E. gift to the Federation outright or as part of your estate planning. In doing so, you can perpetuate your annual UJA Campaign gift in your name, the name of your family, in memory of a loved one or in celebration of a significant event in your life or the life of another. On average, the annual income normally calculates out to 5% of the amount of your P.A.C.E. endowment. The corpus of your Fund would not be affected, and only the income would be used for the annual UJA gift – in perpetuity. That is, a P.A.C.E. endowment of $100,000 would normally produce an annual gift of $5,000 to future UJA Campaigns. IMMEDIATE GIFTS OF CASH Cash contributions are deductible as itemized deductions in the year you make the donation(s), up to 50% of your adjusted gross. Excess charitable deductions can be carried forward for up to five years. GIFTS OF SECURITIES The best stocks to donate are obviously those with increased value. However, depreciated securities are not necessarily unworthy of charitable contributions. In order to preserve the best tax advantages, with regard to appreciated and depreciated securities, please contact the Federation. MATCHING GIFTS If you work for a company that participates in a Matching Gift Program (see details in this issue of The Reporter), then the company will match your gift to the Jewish Federation. Please check with your Human Resources Department for more information. GIFTS OF MUTUAL FUNDS Contributing mutual fund shares can provide the same tax advantages as appreciated stocks. Due to the great complexities involved with the transfer of mutual fund shares, please begin the transfer process well before December 31st. GIFTS OF REAL ESTATE A charitable contribution of property is most attractive when there is no mortgage balance and the property is increasing in value. Based upon the fair market value, you may claim an income tax deduction, avoid all capital gains taxes, and remove that property from your taxable estate. You may transfer real estate to the Jewish Federation at any point, but please consult your tax professional or financial advisor prior to a real estate transaction. DEFERRED/PLANNED GIFTS Deferred gifts are often called “planned gifts” because they are integrally connected to your financial and/or estate plans. They may range in size from very small bequests to multi-million dollar trusts. They are deferred gifts because, even though they are given today, the Jewish Federation will not realize their benefit until some time in the future. Please contact the Federation for more information regarding various planned giving options. GENERAL ENDOWMENT FUNDS The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania expresses its gratitude to those who have made a commitment to our Endowment Fund. These very special contributions represent a commitment to maintain a high quality of Jewish life in our region for the decades that lie ahead.
CONTACT For further information, please contact Mark Silverberg, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA at 570-961-2300 (ext. 1)
Family connections and disconnections by RABBI RACHEL ESSERMAN Families’ connections – and disconnections – have been the focus of fiction since humans first began to tell stories. Hearing and reading about other people’s joys and sorrows can help us better understand ourselves and our families. Three recent novels – “Say Nice Things About Detroit,” “A Wedding in Great Neck” and “The Divorce Girl” – focus on family life, looking at illness, death, marriage and divorce. “Say Nice Things About Detroit” While the title of a famous novel claims “You Can’t Go Home Again,” this is fortunately not true for the characters in “Say Nice Things About Detroit” by Scott Lasser (W. W. Norton and Company). David Halpert, a Jewish lawyer, originally returns to Detroit for a few months in order to help decide the fate of his mother, who has dementia. Something about being in the city shows David just how meaningless his life in Denver has become. Not even the fact that his former high school girlfriend, Natalie, and her brother have been murdered in a street shooting deters him. In fact, meeting Natalie’s younger sister, Caroline – who stayed in town to help her mother after the funerals– makes him realize why Detroit means so much to him. Yet, David also learns how the best of intentions can backfire in unexpected ways. The novel combines several stories to show the ways blood and love create families that feed our hearts and souls. Almost everyone thinks David is crazy to move back to Detroit. His new neighbor finds it almost impossible to believe: “A Jewish boy doesn’t move from Denver back to Palmer Woods, where there are no Jews left, just on a whim. Something happened. You’re fleeing disbarment, an embezzlement charge, tax evasion, something.” While he is fleeing his barren life, being back in Detroit makes David fall in love again with his home town. Pride plays a role in this, as he realizes when listening to music on his car radio: The station “played music that was new when he was young but now was called classic: Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger, Glenn Frey, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper. Detroiters all... Throw in John Lee Hooker and Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and the rest of Motown, the jazz of Carter, Burell, and the Hendersons, the power of MC5 and the Stooges, the pop of Madonna and the current efforts of Ritchie, Mathers, and White, and you could argue that what the Motor City really made, the thing that would last long after the Ren Cen crumbled into the river and the world no longer needed cars, was music.” Lasser writes well, offering insights into his characters’ natures, particularly the ways they come to understand what they need to do to find happiness. Although at times the novel engaged my intellect more than my emotions, as the plot lines began to merge, the action kept me turning pages. The author’s greatest accomplishment, though, is convincingly portraying how David finds his heart and home in Detroit. “A Wedding in Great Neck” Although weddings are supposed to be times of unbridled joy, for many, they serve as a major source of stress. Take, for example, the wedding day of Angelica, the youngest member of the Silverstein family, where disaster is just waiting to strike. Trouble could come from a variety of sources: her divorced parents, Betsy and Lincoln, the latter of whom is a recovering alcoholic; her sister, Gretchen, who is dealing with a failed marriage and a disgruntled teenage daughter; and the resentment felt by all three of Angelica’s siblings due to the fact that she is not only the favorite child of her parents, but her very rich step-father. All these emotions and many more are on
display in Yona Zeldis McDonough’s “A Wedding in Great Neck” (New American Library). What’s interesting is that while McDonough examines the thoughts of several characters, Angelica is not one of them. Readers learn about her through her actions and those of her family. Although the novel takes place in a single day, the Silverstein family history is on display. For example, Betsy realizes that although she served as the primary parent for Angelica, her daughter has always preferred her alcoholic father. Of course, this leads Betsy to ponder how “there was no sense in this and no justice either. But, then, when had sense or justice ever been governing forces in the inexplicable workings of a family?” Gretchen must come to terms with the knowledge that her family (including her beloved grandmother) thinks of her as a failure in both work and life. What she wants for herself is something unpopular in contemporary times: “She wanted to be of use... a quaint, old-fashioned concept, especially when compared to that of her classmates, who [had been] busy angling for fast-track corporate jobs and admission into the trifecta of professional schools – law, medicine or business.” Lenore, Betsy’s mother and the siblings’ grandmother, has several agendas for the day. Not only does she want to enjoy Angelica’s wedding, she hopes “to deal with her wayward grandchildren,” helping them find their place in life. However, the actions of one person threatens to create havoc and ruin the day. The novel has some problems: The characters are a bit stereotyped and the plot is melodramatic and predictable, although McDonough does supply a few surprises. Still, “A Wedding in Great Neck” makes for quick, fun reading, particularly for those who enjoy family dramas. “The Divorce Girl” Divorce affects every member of a family. That’s made clear in Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s “The Divorce Girl” (Ice Cube Press), which takes place in the 1970s. Teenager Deborah Shapiro has difficulty finding a comfortable spot for herself after her parents’ nightmare of a divorce. Truth seems to be the first casualty, with each spouse blaming the other for the break-up, although the death of one of their children might be said to play a major role. Deborah, who serves as the novel’s narrator, finds herself disappointed time and again by her parents’ behavior. The photography class she takes and her connection to a synagogue youth group serve as the only stable parts of her life. Taking photos – and viewing her life as if through the lense of a camera – helps keep her relatively sane. This is clear from her thoughts after a particularly bad incident with a neighbor: “I was not crying, although I told myself that this was the place in the story where the girl cries. Something in me had sealed shut, and I could see the incident only as a series of pictures: the creep trying to push the door open, me slamming it shut, me running in a blur to lock the doors, me sitting very still right now. Yet even when I tried to put all the pictures together, they didn’t begin to tell the story.” What’s left out is why the neighbor was at her house: Deborah met him when trying to escape her unstable and violent father. Parts of “The Divorce Girl” are difficult to read because it’s obvious that Deborah is depressed. The behavior of the parents is inexcusable. In particular, her father’s actions should be considered child abuse, although no one (not even the sane adults in her life) consider reporting him. It’s a compliment on Mirriam-Goldberg’s writing that my reaction to the novel was so extreme at times. The author does an excellent job placing readers in Deborah’s head; unfortunately, that’s not always a pleasant place to be.
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
Haredi Orthodox account for bulk of Jewish population growth in New York City
Brownstone Brooklyn – a large swath of Kings By Gil Shefler County that includes neighborhoods such as Park NEW YORK (JTA) – Most of the growth of the Slope, Red Hook and Windsor Terrace – Jewish Jewish community of New York over the past decade residents reported relatively low rates of affiliation. took place in two neighborhoods of Brooklyn, acAbout half the respondents in the area volunteered at cording to new data from a survey first published charities, although not necessarily Jewish ones. last year. UJA-Federation of New York recently The highest proportion of married Jewish released more details from its 2012 demographic couples lives in Great Neck and the Five Towns study to show that two-thirds of the rise in the area of Long Island. Residents of these suburbs on number of Jews living in metropolitan New York average gave more to Jewish causes, traveled more City occurred in Borough Park and Williamsburg, frequently to Israel and felt a closer connection to two largely haredi Orthodox communities. the Jewish state than respondents from almost any “When we examine the geographical profile other county. and see where cohorts of the Jewish community The survey also provided information about – and their diverse characteristics – are found, the religious affiliation of the community. About we recognize both challenges and opportunities 40 percent of participants living on the Upper for communal leadership,” said John Ruskay, East Side of Manhattan said they identified with UJA-Federation’s executive vice president and Reform Judaism, and more than 30 percent of CEO. “A challenge because more people have respondents in the Queens areas of Flushing and more needs and those needs differ from area to area throughout the region. And an opportunity Two Chasidic men walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Along with Borough Kew Gardens Hills were affiliated with Conserbecause there are now more people to engage in Park, the neighborhood accounts for two-thirds of overall Jewish population vative Judaism. Last year’s findings had shown a Jewish life and community.” growth in the New York area, according to new details from a 2012 study. general decline in the number of those affiliated with both movements. According to the survey, the number of Jews (Photo by Gedalya Gottdenger via Creative Commons) Ruskay said the data gathered by his organization living in New York and its environs increased by 10 percent over the past decade, to 1.54 million, cementing comprehensive and detailed study ever conducted on local already had been put to use in assessing the damage wrought its status as the largest metropolitan Jewish community in Jewish areas,” also shows significant changes elsewhere by superstorm Sandy. “Since the data was assembled just a year before the hurricane, we have a baseline that tells the world outside Israel. in the metropolitan area. According to the study’s new data, in Borough Park, The number of Jews living in the northern Manhattan us about the character of communities that live in areas afhome to the Bobov Chasidic sect and several other haredi neighborhood of Washington Heights skyrocketed by 144 fected by the storm,” he said. “In the future, we’ll be able communities, the Jewish population rose by 71 percent. percent. The Bronx, a former bastion of Jewish life that to gauge temporary vs. long-term impact on residents by In Williamsburg, the seat of the Satmar Chasidic sect, the had seen a long period of decline, is rebounding with the comparing new data with this baseline.” Researchers interviewed 6,000 people living in 26 population increased by 41 percent. number of Jews rising from 45,100 to 53,900 in the last The data offer a glimpse of demographic trends that 10 years. More Jewish families live in a single Manhattan primary areas to compile information for the study, which are reshaping the makeup of the world’s most important neighborhood, the Upper West Side (43,900), than in all covered UJA-Federation of New York’s catchment, including the city of New York, parts of Long Island and suburban Diaspora Jewish community. The 469-page study, carried of Cleveland, OH (38,300). out by a team of sociologists and claiming to be the “most The study also addressed patterns of affiliation. In Westchester County.
We sat and discussed the future. Rabbi Berkowitz told us about a well-established yeshiva that wants to move into the Rockwood Park Jewish Center and open its Hebrew high school. There are already nearly 120 boys enrolled in the ninth and 10th grades. The yeshiva would do its own renovations to build classrooms in time for the September 2013 opening. The Green Room would be renovated for this purpose. Although the rent would replace less than half of the revenue that was lost when the Senior Program was literally washed away by Hurricane Sandy, a Hebrew high school would bring new life into the synagogue and the Jewish community in Howard Beach. The rabbi who directs the yeshiva visited the high rise apartments near the synagogue and agreed that there is indeed affordable housing for young couples. He also saw houses within walking distance for older, more established families. One major problem facing the Rockwood Park Jewish Center is what many of us simply refer to as the “Minyan Problem.” I told Rabbi Berkowitz, “No contract without a clause building in a minyan commitment.” Then Moshe spoke about the Jewish youth program that is Rabbi Berkowitz’s dream. It is an afternoon and evening Intervention and Prevention program for Jewish boys 14-21 years of age, who come from across the broad spectrum of Judaism, who for various reasons need direction, training and structure. The meeting lasted for almost three hours. The synagogue’s lawyer joined us and met Corey, who is also an
attorney. They will work together on several items. Corey will be an integral part of this rebirth because of his belief in the project, his dedication to the Jewish community of Queens, and his understanding of what is feasible and what is not. I spoke by phone to the director of the yeshiva and asked him questions concerning preparation for New York Regents and more. His pride was palpable when he told me that his yeshiva is accredited by the New York Board of Education and that his student body has grown so much that he can now open the high school. I asked for copies of his curricula and textbook lists, and he agreed without hesitation to send them to me. Then, he asked me very simply, “Will you help us?” My answer was just as simple, “Yes.” Every phone call that Rabbi Berkowitz made during this meeting started with the sentence, “I am sitting here with the folks from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. You know, the ones who came down from the mountains to save us.” We closed the meeting with two decisions – the Rockwood Park Jewish Center will become the home of the Hebrew high school and the yet unnamed youth program. Both contracts will include the now named “Minyan Clause.” Each member of my team has a role to develop and we will do so very quickly. With Rabbi Berkowitz’s blessing, I will speak for him and his synagogue with the major Jewish organizations in New York, and I will begin the process of grant discovery and writing to fund the enterprise.
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 email@example.com
Continued from page 6 Rabbi Berkowitz asked if I would speak to his synagogue’s Board of Directors. I answered that this is definitely not a problem. If there is one thing that I know how to do, it is to speak to boards of Jewish organizations. May God bless Hadassah and the QJCC for that training! Before we left the room, I told Rabbi Berkowitz that it is now time to make a third decision. He looked at me perplexed and then asked me what decision. I leaned across the table and said, “We need the date for the chanukat habait - for the rededication of the temple. It must be after Pesach. Yoel Sharabi will entertain. And I need time to do the Rededication Journal.” And so we made the third decision that the rededication of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center will be after Pesach. We will settle on the date so that invitations could be sent in ample time to its family – the members of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Jewish communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania. As Tony and I drove away, I called Mark and said, “We have saved the shul.” And that does indeed say it all. May Hashem bless the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Jewish communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania! And just so that all of you know – on my next trip down, Tony and I will deliver supplies to one of the damaged facilities that belongs to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. One act of chesed must be returned by another. Dr. Sandra Alfonsi is the director of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Project of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
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JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
WONDERING WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP? DONATE NOW! The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath has devastated the lives of millions of people in NY, NJ and CT. Hundreds of thousands are without food, water, medical supplies, shelter and the basic necessities of life.
HELP US HELP THEM!
AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA:
SUPERSTORM RELIEF FUND
The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath has devastated the lives of millions of people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Hundreds of thousands are without food, water, medical supplies, shelter and the basic necessities of life. Their lives hang in the balance. As Jews, we must do our part in relieving their suffering as we have always done when faced with national catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. The lives of millions of Americans hang in the balance. We must be there for them.
Please donate… Tax-deductible contributions made out to the Jewish Federation of NEPA/Hurricane should be mailed to our office at 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510. You can also donate online by visiting http://jewishnepa.org/site/hurricane-sandy-donations/
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
New Season of
January 2013 • Non-Feature Films • A Film Unfinished, a harrowing look at the devious art of a propaganda film made by the Third Reich, is a rich and well-researched investigation into the filmic history of the Warsaw Ghetto. As A Film Unfinished aims to set the record straight, it furthers a political resistance that Jews undertook during the war. In other words, this documentary is a tribute, a correction of history to honor those who died, witnessed, or survived atrocities prior to their move to Treblinka, Warsaw’s affiliate death camp. Blessed is the Match - In 1944, 22- year 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. Budapest to Gettyburg - The past and present collide as a world-renowned historian confronts a history he has refused to study-his own. Gabor Boritt is an expert on Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. But it took his son’s urging to get him to return to his native Hungary and learn about the Jewish experience there from the time of his childhood until, together with his family, he escaped to the United States. 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. 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. I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal - Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who lost 89 family members, helped track down over 1,100 Nazi war criminals and spent six decades fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people. 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 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. • Feature Films • A Matter of Size - Winner of numerous international awards, this Israeli comedy is a hilarious and heart-warming tale about four overweight guys who learn to love themselves through the Japanese sport of sumo wrestling. (not rated) A Woman Called Golda - Ingrid Bergman plays Golda Meir, the Russian born, Wisconsin raised woman who became Israel’s prime minister in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. 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. 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. Frisco Kid - It’s 1850 and new rabbi Avram Belinski sets out from Philadelphia toward San Francisco. Cowpoke bandit Tom Lillard hasn’t seen a rabbi before but he knows when one needs a heap of help. Getting this tenderfoot to Frisco in one piece will cause a heap of trouble- with the law, Native Americans and a bunch of killers. Good - In an attempt to establish its credibility, the new Nazi government is seeking out experts to endorse its policies and they come 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, accepts what he is told without question until he is an unwitting accomplice to the Nazi killing machine. Hidden In Silence - Przemysl, Poland, WWII. Germany emerges victorious over the Russians, and the city comes under Nazi control. The Jewish 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 thirty-seven, 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. Nora’s Will - When his ex-wife Nora dies right before Passover, Jose is forced to stay with her body until she can be properly put to rest. He soon realizes that he is part of Nora’s plan to bring her family back together for one last Passover feast, leading Jose to reexamine their relationship. (not rated) 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 their 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. Rashevski’s Tango - Just about every dilemma of modern Jewish identity gets an airing in this packed tale of a clan of more or less secularized Belgian Jews thrown into spiritual crisis by the death of the matriarch who has held all doubts and family warfare in check. (not rated) Sarah’s Key - Julia Jarmond, an American journalist is commissioned to write an article about the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. The Angel Levine - Things couldn’t get worse for Jewish tailor Morris Mishkin (Zero Mostel). His shop has gone up in flames, his daughter has married outside the faith and, worse yet, his wife is slowly dying. But just when he decides to give up on God, a mysterious man (Harry Belafonte) appears, claiming to be his Jewish guardian angel! Doubtful that the stranger is Jewish, never mind an angel, Mishkin must overcome his skepticism if he wants one last chance at redemption. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Set during World War II, this is the story of Bruno, an innocent and naïve eight-year old boy who meets a boy while romping in the woods. A surprising friendship develops. The Couple - Based on the true story of a Jewish Hungarian’s desperate attempts to save his family from the Nazi death camps. Mr. Krauzenberg (Martin Landau) is forced to hand over his vast wealth to the Nazis for the safe passage of his family out of occupied Europe, only to find his two remaining servants are left trapped in a web of deceit and danger. Their only hope for survival relies on the courage of Krauzenberg. 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? 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 over 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Ushpizin - A fable set in the Orthodox Jewish world in Jerusalem, Ushpizin tells the story of a poor childless couple, Moshe and Malli, whose belief in the goodness of the Almighty follows a roller coaster of situations and emotions but leads to the ultimate happiness, the birth of their son.
Continued from page 9 appear to be affected by the government’s cutbacks, with local Catholic charities that consume a far larger proportion of public support seemingly unaffected. Maccabi and other groups, the Jewish leaders say, are collateral damage in the government’s wider effort to counter Muslim extremism and rein in the religious sectarianism that has helped fuel the rise of the French right. That effort was declared policy under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose center-right government banned face covering in public spaces, among other controversial laws, but gained new impetus after a Muslim radical murdered four Jews in Toulouse in March. The government of current President Francois Hollande has since introduced new anti-jihadist legislation, deported some Muslim clerics and shaken up France’s domestic intelligence agency. Michele Teboul, head of the local CRIF branch, says Jewish interests and freedoms are routinely affected by France’s response to Muslim extremism. “We’ve seen this in attempts to ban halal slaughter and circumcision, and in how the debate on burkas morphed to suddenly include kippahs,” she said. “It is unjustified, as we have always known how to integrate while retaining our own identity.” Some 120,000 Jews live in the Marseille region. Besides Maccabi, the affected Jewish groups include the local office of the CRIF; the Marseille Consistoire, which administers religious services; the Bnei Akiva youth movement; and Baskets for Shabbat, a Jewish charity. CRIF’s national president, Richard Prasquier, said the denial of subsidies for Jewish groups was “troubling,” but currently limited to the Marseille region. Controversy surrounding the funding of religious charities is not a new issue in France, which is unique in Europe for enforcing public secularism in a manner more similar to what exists in the United States. A 1905 law enshrining state secularism prohibits the government from subsidizing religion – a law Krief says was cited by local officials in justifying their denial of funding. But public officials have had wide discretion in applying the law and in the recent past have moved to cut support for groups on the basis of their religious affiliation. Last year, a Muslim charity in Marseille became the subject of controversy when it was revealed that the charity received $150,000 in subsidies from the regional council in 2010 and 2011. The Franco-Muslim Association of Saint-Gretin near Paris last year won a court case against the municipality, which had refused funding to the group because of its name. Amiens, a city in northern France, forced organizers of the traditional Christmas Festival to rename the event Winter Festival to win subsidies. And in Paris, city funding for 20 Jewish kindergartens is a point of contention each year, as local politicians hold up its funding as an example of the violation of the principle of secularism, known in French as “laicite.” “Muslim cultural associations are systematically denied funding,” Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy near Paris, told JTA. The pullback has intensified nationally since the March 19 shooting in Toulouse, he said. “Some groups are told to change their names, which they won’t do,” Chalghoumi said. “It hurts the moderates and invites extremists to take over with their funding from outside France.” Jewish groups were offered similar arrangements. Bernard Benguigui, vice president of Baskets for Shabbat, which distributes food each week to several hundred recipients from a dispensary behind Marseille’s Great Synagogue, said he was told that he could continue to receive government funding if he changed his organization’s name to one without “a Jewish connotation.” “I refused this proposal because government orders to change Jewish names remind me of dark periods,” Benguigui said. Dozens of government-funded Christian groups in the Marseille area, meanwhile, seem less affected. In 2011, the regional council gave nearly $2.7 million to 30 groups with “Catholic” in their names. Three of the groups told JTA that they were unaware of any planned cutbacks in funding. The website of one group, Secours Catholique, is publicizing a trip to the Holy Land next year organized in partnership with the regional council. Still, to some in the Jewish community, the dilemma is fundamentally not one of church-state separation, but of using an overly blunt remedy to a problem that requires a more nuanced approach. “As with other associations that endanger the fabric of society, the solution to depriving hotbeds of Muslim extremism of their funds isn’t blanket measures because those will hurt positive and neutral forces,” said Joel Rubinfeld, the co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament. “What’s needed is a case-by-case analysis and decision.”
JANUARY 31, 2013 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
Obama taps chief of staff with ties to Jewish community
President Barack Obama named as his new chief of staff a security official, Denis McDonough, who has strong ties to the Jewish organizational community. McDonough, until now the deputy to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, handled much of the National Security Council’s Israel-related traffic and has strong ties with Jewish groups. He addressed the Washington Institute for Near East Policy just weeks before the last presidential election. “Over the last four years, in speaking privately with me, and more publicly with Jewish Federation leaders, McDonough has steadfastly and vigorously defended the administration’s Middle East policies,” William Daroff, the director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said in an e-mail the night of Jan. 26 to JTA. “He has been out-front and very available to discuss and debate the intricacies of policy matters – always in a fair and respectful manner – and in a way that makes clear that he has no doubt about the commitment of President Obama to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Daroff said. “When he speaks, it is obvious that he has the president’s ear, and that he has had a tremendous influence over policy matters.” In a Twitter posting, Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Washington director, called McDonough a “person of great savvy and candor.” McDonough takes over from Jacob Lew, an Orthodox Jew who in his various capacities has been the senior staff member taking calls from Jewish community leaders. Obama has nominated Lew to become treasury secretary. Also announced on Jan. 25 was the departure of Jarrod Bernstein, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community for the last two years. In an e-mail, Bernstein, who formerly ran specialty outreach for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he was returning to that city. Bernstein was Obama’s third Jewish liaison. Previously, the job had been handled jointly by Susan Scher and Danielle Borrin.
Survey finds mixed views in France on Jews, Israel
A new survey on how French people perceive Jews revealed viewpoints widely seen as antisemitic alongside pro-Jewish sentiments. The survey, conducted in mid-January, showed 39 percent of the 1,000 respondents agreed with the statement that “Jews possess too much power in business.” Another 21 percent disagreed; 40 percent said they were neutral. Forty-seven percent of respondents said French Jews were more loyal to Israel than to France, while 15 percent disagreed. Asked about their sentiments regarding French Jews, 43 percent said they had a “positive” view and 53 percent said they were neutral. Only 4 percent said they had negative views of Jews. The poll was commissioned by the World Zionist Organization and published by the group on Jan. 24. It was conducted online on Jan. 13 by Market Watch via a platform developed by the IPSOS polling firm. On Israel, 20 percent of the respondents said they had a “favorable” view of the Jewish state, 61 percent said they were neutral and 19 percent said they had a negative opinion of Israel. Fifty-four percent of respondents said “anti-Jewish sentiments” were the source of violent incidents targeting Jews, 19 percent attributed violence against Jews to “antiIsrael sentiments” and 27 percent had no opinion on the matter.
Ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi defends some of Mussolini’s policies
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi condemned fascist Italy’s antisemitic laws but said dictator Benito Mussolini’s regime also had carried out positive policies. “The fact of the racial laws was the worst fault of a leader, Mussolini, who in many other ways did well,” Berlusconi said in informal remarks to the media at the inauguration of a Holocaust memorial in Milan on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The memorial dedicated at Milan’s train station is located at Track 21, from which 700 Milan Jews were deported to Nazi camps. The inauguration ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Mario Monti and other senior state, civic and religious leaders, was one of scores of events taking place this week in Italy to mark the Holocaust memorial day. Political figures and Jewish leaders slammed Berlusconi’s remarks. Berlusconi, who is running for prime minister in general elections in February, said Mussolini had chosen to ally Italy with Nazi Germany for policy reasons that were separate from the persecution of the Jews. He said it was difficult today to put oneself in the shoes of decision-makers of that time. Mussolini’s government, Berlusconi said, “fearing that the German power would win, certainly preferred to be allied with Hitler’s Germany rather than oppose it.” Italy, he said, “did not have the same responsibility” as Germany for the Holocaust, but “there was a connivance that at the beginning was not totally conscious.” Berlusconi’s remarks drew immediate condemnation from political figures and Jewish leaders. Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said his statements “appear not only superficial and inappropriate, but where they suggest that Italy decided to persecute and exterminate its Jews to please a powerful ally, are devoid of a moral sense and historical basis.” Among those condemning Berlusconi’s remarks was left-wing lawmaker Dario Franceschini, who tweeted that they “are shameful and an insult to history and memory.” Daniele Nahum, the spokesman of the Milan Jewish community and a former vice president, called Berlusconi’s statement “shocking. Let’s not forget that, besides the racist laws, the Mussolini regime canceled freedom of thought and expression, was the author of massacres in Ethiopia and created that discriminatory framework against homosexuals, Roma and all the other minorities that we are still combating,” he said. Berlusconi, despite being embroiled in sex and financial scandals, has gained in the polls in recent weeks. Monti also is running to retain his post.
Anti-Israel cartoon in London’s Sunday Times called “blood libel”
London’s Sunday Times published an editorial cartoon showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall on the bodies of Palestinians and using their blood as cement. The cartoon published on Jan. 27, which was International Holocaust Memorial Day, carries the caption “Israeli Elections – Will Cementing Peace Continue?” In a statement, the European Jewish Congress called the cartoon “sickening” and “offensive,” and said the paper and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe should apologize. “This cartoon would be offensive at any time of the year, but to publish it on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is sickening and expresses a deeply troubling mindset,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said in the statement. “This insensitivity demands an immediate apology from both the cartoonist and the paper’s editors. Amazingly, as this cartoon was published days after the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, underwent fully democratic elections, as others in the Middle East were being butchered by the tens of thousands, the Sunday Times focuses its imagination solely on the Jewish state.” HonestReporting called the cartoon “a blood libel on a day when the millions of victims of the Holocaust are remembered.” “On any day, this cartoon’s imagery is an assault on the real victims of genocide, demeans their suffering and insults their memory,” said HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams in a statement issued on Jan. 27 by the organization. “The Sunday Times should be mindful that what started as cartoons in the 1930’s ultimately led to violence and unspeakable tragedy.” Scarfe also drew the cover illustration for Pink Floyd’s 1979 album “The Wall.” Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has been a critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
New synagogue planned for Budapest
The Jewish community of Budapest said it will build a new synagogue for the first time in 80 years. The foundation stone for the new synagogue in Budapest’s Csepel district was scheduled to be laid on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Senior government officials were expected to join Hungarian Jewish leaders at the ceremony. “It attests as to the vitality of the Jewish community,” read an announcement about the event on the website of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz – a body representing many of the organizations that belong to Hungary’s Jewish community of approximately 90,000. The municipality donated the land for the synagogue, the Federation said, and most of the construction costs were raised by the Jewish community of the Hungarian capital’s South Pest district, BZSH. Construction is expected to finish by November 2014. Among those who are scheduled to officiate at the ceremony is Andras Kerenyi, the Jewish community’s president, who in October was physically assaulted by two men spewing antisemitic invective. Kerenyi followed the assailants after they fled, leading to their arrest. “There are worrying trends in Hungary as represented by the antisemitic Jobbik party, but at the same time there is a vibrant Jewish community and much attentiveness to their needs and welfare on the part of many in government,” said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chairman of the European Jewish Parliament, who returned recently to Belgium from a round of talks with Hungarian officials on curbing antisemitism there.
U.K. students aiming for 6.6 million burnt matchsticks for Holocaust memorial
Students at a school in England are working to collect 6.6 million burnt matchsticks to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The students at Chilton Trinity School in Bridgwater had collected 66,000 matchsticks as of Jan. 25 prior to their target completion date of Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Doing something like this is so powerful and emotional,” head of religious studies Tess Hurst told the Bridgwater Mercury. “Each burnt matchstick represents one person’s life who was killed.” The students hope to display the matchsticks in a glass monument outside the school’s new building, which it has occupied since November. A 3-D mockup of the 6.6 million matchstick sculpture is being produced by the school’s science department.
Yiddish Forward to cut back to biweekly publication
The Jewish Daily Forward’s Yiddish-language publication is shifting to a biweekly print schedule. The Forverts, a 116-year-old publication that switched from a daily to a weekly print schedule 30 years ago, will become a biweekly beginning on Feb. 4, the newspaper announced on Jan. 25. The publication also will be providing new content daily for its website. The Forward Association, the owner and publisher of the Forward newspapers, said the Forverts has a print circulation of 2,100 copies and 6,000 readers. According to a publicly filed financial report, the association’s Yiddish editorial division lost more than $1 million in 2011. “We see the opportunity to grow the audience in a number of directions, including haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, readers, students of Yiddish, and children of survivors who grew up in Yiddish-speaking homes but only have a passive knowledge of the language,” Forward Publisher and CEO Samuel Norich told the Columbia Journalism Review. The Yiddish website will offer podcasts, English-subtitled videos and articles with pop-up translations from the new Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary. Among the new editorial features will be “Yiddish With an Aleph,” a blog geared toward haredi Orthodox readers. One of the eight full-time staff positions for the Yiddish editorial operation will be lost in the transition, according to the Forward. The Forward Association said it became a publicly supported media organization in 2011, with its first fund-raising event. The association had been surviving on the sale of its WEVD radio station to ABC for $78 million in 2003.
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THE REPORTER ■ JANUARY 31, 2013
January 31, 2013 Edition of the Federation Reporter