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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania JULY 4, 2013


Feinstein and Wyden, on opposite ends of intel debate, are known for independence By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) – Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden have much in common. Both are longtime U.S. senators, Democrats, Jewish and fiercely independent West Coasters. They’ve also both been members of the Senate Intelligence Committee since before the September 11, 2001, attacks and privy to classified materials that describe how the government systematized radical changes in intelligence gathering in their wake. Now the two lawmakers are on opposite sides of the debate over the massive information-gathering machine developed by the intelligence community since 9/11. Government agencies have been collecting troves of data on the phone calls of Americans – so-called “metadata,” including the length, origin and number of virtually every call in America, but not its content – as well as information from the country’s leading Internet companies. A series of disclosures about such efforts has reignited debate over where to draw the line between national security and individual privacy. “It’s called protecting America,” Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said in a June 6 news conference, arguing that the collection of metadata is routine. But Wyden says the issue is protecting

Senator Dianne Feinstein (center), chairing the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, listened during the nomination hearing for John Brennan as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency on February 7. (Photo by John D. Rockefeller/ Creative Commons) the rule of law, arguing that Americans don’t know enough to assess whether the government is protecting their rights or violating them. “There is a significant gap between what the American people and most members of Congress believe is legal under laws like the Patriot Act and how government agencies are interpreting the law,” says a lengthy page on Wyden’s website outlining his longstanding efforts to make the government’s information-gathering practices more transparent. The split between Feinstein and Wyden reflects the degree to which the intelli-

gence-gathering debate is scrambling the predictable partisan positions taken on most big issues in today’s Washington – in this case, prompting liberals and conservatives to line up on all sides of the issue. Friends of both senators – Feinstein of California and Wyden of Oregon – say their strikingly opposed positions result both from their independent spirit, but also from strong beliefs forged by pre-congressional experiences. In 1978, Feinstein was president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors when a gunman entered City Hall and shot to

Senator Ron Wyden, left, talked to Senator Jay Rockefeller during the nomination hearing of John Brennan for the director of the Central Intelligence Agency on February 7. (Photo by John D. Rockefeller/ Creative Commons) death Harvey Milk, a fellow supervisor and gay activist, along with the city’s mayor, George Moscone. Feinstein announced the killings at a news conference and then succeeded Moscone as mayor. Colleagues say the murders were formative for Feinstein, who was outraged that the killer, Dan White, claimed he was depressed and was convicted only of manslaughter. The incident continued to inform her positions after her election to the Senate in 1992, most prominently in the lead she has taken on gun control See “Intel” on page 6


For Israeli students, Jerusalem race was just a test drive By Ben Sales BEERSHEVA, Israel (JTA) – During the second week in June, Rani Dekel was doing doing donuts on the streets of Jerusalem in a blue and orange Formula race car with hundreds of thousands cheering him on. On June 16, the car’s skeleton sat in a bare laboratory at Ben-Gurion University in the southern city of Beersheva, its colorful siding stacked on a shelf in the corner and its essential parts shipped off to auto workshops across Israel. But Dekel doesn’t mind losing his car. In a couple of months, he’ll have built a new one. Dekel is part of a team of 35 Ben-Gurion automotive engineering students in the midst of a year-long project – to design and construct a Formula race car that four of them will drive in an international competition in Italy in September. “Building the car is super intense,” Dekel said. “It’s your whole life. It’s your focus. You get there and you’re showing what you planned and built and dreamed about.” Dekel’s car was the only Israeli-made vehicle in the recent Jerusalem Formula show, the biggest auto racing event in the country’s history. In Formula 1 racing, drivers sit in low cars built by leading European

shadow of the Old City walls. But while a reported 250,000 Israeli racing fans had their eyes on the streets of Jerusalem, the future of the sport in Israel lies an hour south, in the sands of the Negev Desert and the nearby engineering labs of Ben-Gurion University. Next year, the country’s first motor sports complex is slated to open just north of Beersheva. “One thing is for sure: There’s an Israeli audience that’s interested,” said Dror See “Race” on page 7

Federation on Facebook Driver Rani Dekel stood next to the Formula car built by Ben-Gurion University students. (Photo by Raz Schweitzer/Ben Gurion Racing) carmakers such as Ferrari and Mercedes, and careen around twisting tracks at speeds in excess of 200 mph. The brand is especially popular in Europe. Israel has no car industry, let alone a

motor sports league, so a delegation of auto racers zooming around Jerusalem was thrilling for locals. The show featured top international auto racers doing laps, spins and donuts – a spinning maneuver – in the

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Israeli heroine

Religious freedom

The Marx Brothers

The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania now has a page on Facebook to let community members know about upcoming events and keep connected.

Candle lighting July 5................................................. 8:21 pm July 12...............................................8:18 pm July 19............................................... 8:14 pm July 26...............................................8:08 pm August 2.................................................8 pm August 9...........................................7:52 pm

To create a modern Israeli heroine, Foul-mouthed Mikey Weinstein A look at the Marx Brothers and PLUS Adam LeBor crossed Lisbeth provokes Congress in the name of how their Jewish identity affected Salander and the biblical Joel. religious freedom. their style of humor. Opinion...........................................................2 Story on page 6 Story on page 11 Story on page 12 D’var Torah.................................................10


THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

a matter of opinion Search for my ancestors By Judith Shapiro Cheetham The history of any community, nation or civilization is written in its cemeteries and inscribed on its monuments. Perhaps that’s why, shortly after my arrival in Scranton, I was taken to the Providence Cemetery – a hallowed piece of ground in a near-forgotten corner of north Scranton where the remains of many of the founders of this community have been interred. Along the western wall of the cemetery lies a series of old graves with the name Shapiro etched on the faded stones. Each grave has a story to tell, but in the case of the Shapiros, they all appeared to have perished on the same day in December 1908, a century ago. But for a chance visit to my office by a descendant of the Shapiro family, their story, like so many others in that old cemetery, would have been lost in time, but in a very real sense, the article that follows has restored the memory of how they lived and how they died. With the deepest respect, we now share their story with our readers. Mark Silverberg Providence Cemetery is a peaceful resting place on a rise above Main Street in Scranton. It is encircled by a wrought iron fence that defines and protects the grounds. Next door is a fire station where the key is kept. On a quiet residential street a block from Main Street is the gate to the cemetery. Inside are the gravesites of Jews that span a century. This is where I found four ancestors who were all buried in December 1908, among the first to be interred at Providence. They died

“ The Reporter” (USPS #482) is published bi-weekly by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.

President: Jeff Rubel Executive Director: Mark Silverberg Advisory Board Chair: Margaret Sheldon Executive Editor: Rabbi Rachel Esserman Layout Editor: Diana Sochor Assistant Editor: Michael Nassberg Production Coordinator: Jenn DePersis Graphic Artist: Alaina Cardarelli Advertising Representative: Bonnie Rozen Bookkeeper: Gregory Senger

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: How to SUBMIT ARTICLES: Mail: 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 E-mail: Fax: (570) 346-6147 Phone: (570) 961-2300 How to reach the advertising Representative: Phone: (800) 779-7896, ext. 244 E-mail: Subscription Information: Phone: (570) 961-2300

Providence Cemetery as it appears now. tragically in a fire that swept through their general store and upstairs bedrooms while they were sleeping on a cold winter night a century ago. In a strange twist of circumstances, the search for my ancestors began when a box arrived at my doorstep in Elgin, IL from California last year. It contained a few salvaged personal belongings of my grandfather, Dr. Louis Shapiro, who passed away more than 35 years ago. He had been a doctor in Hawaii for many decades and I had only met him four times. I vaguely remembered that he was born and raised in Priceburg, PA. After his marriage, he moved to Pocono Summit, where my father, Sidney, was born in April 1908. When I was growing up in Oak Park, IL, there was vague mention of a devastating fire that occurred when my father was an infant. Inside the box, amidst the paper trail of my grandfather’s life, I found three revealing items. The first was a snapshot of my grandfather and his nine identified brothers standing in a row by age, dated 1931. The second and third items were rescued from the fire: a hand-illustrated 19th century Zionist travel book of the Holy Land in Hebrew; and a piece of charred wood on which my grandfather had written the words “This piece of wood from the fire that destroyed our home Dec. 3, 1908 in Priceburg, PA, taking the lives of father, brother, sister and grandmother.” Holding these treasures from the past, I could feel that my long-lost family did not want to be forgotten. That meant finding their final resting places and honoring their lives. The journey began with an “armchair search” by computer and telephone. First, Google told us that shortly after 1908, the name of the town Priceburg was changed to Dickson City. Next, in the 1900 census report confirmed that the Shapiro family was living in Priceburg

and had listed the address of their home and the names and occupations of the residents. Abraham and his wife, Mary (who was rescued from the fire), had 10 children and by the time of the census, the older sons had moved West. With this information and the 1931 photograph, I was able to put names to the fire victims: Lottie Plotsky (maternal grandmother), Abraham Shapiro (father and store proprietor), Arthur Shapiro (9-years-old and youngest brother) and Anna Shapiro (7years-old and only sister). My husband, Tom, phoned several funeral homes and cemeteries in the Dickson area and eventually was directed to Mark Silverberg at the Jewish Federation of Northeast Pennsylvania. He was able to identify that the Shapiro/Plotsky gravesites were in Providence Cemetery. His hospitable offer to take us to the cemetery was much appreciated and accepted. Tom and I planned our trip to Pennsylvania and arranged to meet Mr. Silverberg at his office when we arrived in Scranton. Our first stop in Scranton was to the downtown library to read the 100-year-old newspapers that reported the fire at the general store and the residence above the store. Every paper of the day had vivid front page reports of the catastrophe. One article described the 10-mile funeral procession from Priceburg to Providence Cemetery with 500 mourners lining the road to view the white caskets of Lottie and Anna and the black caskets of Abraham and Arthur. Mark Silverberg welcomed us to the Federation, and after a tour of the building, he drove us to Providence. I learned that the cemetery had been sadly neglected for decades – overgrown weeds, strewn debris and toppled monuments. A few years ago, The Federation turned to Allen Davidson of the local B’nai B’rith and its members to create

a place of reverence once again. I can only imagine the organizing, the hours, the work, the dedication, that went into such a huge restoration project. Now entering the gate, I saw well-maintained grounds and proud monuments. Mr. Silverberg guided us to the far end of the cemetery. I held my breath as I came upon two large, moss covered graves, each one contoured like the roof of a dwelling. I had found my family! Under one of the slanted roofs was the shared resting place of Lottie Plotsky and her granddaughter, Anna. The other roof covered Abraham Shapiro and his youngest son, Arthur. I carefully placed stones on the monuments gathered by family members in Illinois who wished they could be with us on this day. Tom and I wandered through the cemetery, and randomly stopped to read inscriptions. To my total amazement Mary Shapiro (Abraham’s wife and my great grandmother) was four rows away in a direct line with her loved ones. After the tragedy, she had moved to California and died in 1931. Her monument was placed in Providence Cemetery in 1993 (62 years after her death) by her west coast family. We joined Mr. Silverberg at the gate. He locked it behind us and returned the key to the fire house. Back at the Federation, we gratefully thanked him for his interest and help, and then said our goodbyes. It had been an unforgettable morning of discovery. That afternoon Tom and I returned to Providence Cemetery. We sat on our folding chairs next to the gravesites and reflected on my connection with the past – to kindred faces I’ll never see – to a time and place I’ll never know or even really understand – to a family life so different from that which I live today. Yet this is all a part of me, and who I am. We stayed at Providence until the shadows lengthened. I whispered farewells to Anna; Arthur; my great grandparents, Abraham and Mary; and great, great grandmother, Lottie. May they know that they are remembered with love. For the second time that day, I closed the gate and returned to the hustle and bustle of the city. Providence Cemetery is a beautiful place to see, and the monuments hold stories like my own. With the continued custodianship of dedicated volunteers and generous benefactors, Providence will always be cherished by the Jewish community of Pennsylvania and by visitors like myself. Those wishing to contribute to the Providence Cemetery Perpetual Annual Care Fund should send their charitable donation to Mark Silverberg, executive director, Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave, Scranton, PA 18510, with the memo “Providence Cemetery Fund.”

letters to the editor The challenge of assimilation To the Editor: Jewish culture is often completely intertwined with religion and tradition, rather than with nationality, as in other groups, making assimilation more difficult. Assimilation and religious adherence is the reflection of the diversity of the Jewish community in the United States. Jews differ in religiosity, tradition, political viewpoints, language and social class, among other ways. The religious branches in Judaism itself – that is Orthodox, Conservative,

Reform, Reconstructionist – reflect this diversity. In addition, some Jews who are not religious at all, secular Jews, are still profoundly Jewish in association. Some Jews speak Hebrew, others speak Yiddish and still others speak neither. Jews also differ in their viewpoints on political issues concerning the Middle East. Although Jews as a group have a higher average income than most other cultural groups, they still vary among themselves being wealthy, middle class

and some in poverty. There is a dilemma faced by an American Jew who is trying to be both an American and a Jew. It is difficult for some to balance between complete assimilation into the mainstream of U.S. life and still hold onto religion and culture. With the help of family, friends and religious community, and with the support of the Jewish community, we may just be able to do it. Sincerely, Dr. Morton Tener

JULY 4, 2013 ■



community news Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms celebrates its 40 th anniversary By Judy Hamer The Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms celebrated its 40th anniversary on June 8 at the Bushkill Inn and Conference Center. The event featured a musical performance by Phil Barr on piano and accordion. JFHF’s past rabbi, Johanan Bickhardt, as well as its current rabbi, Steven Nathan, also provided entertainment through a musical medley. Joyce Friedman served as emcee for the event. The idea to establish a Jewish house of worship in Hemlock Farms was conceived in 1971. Through the efforts of 50 founders, the fellowship was incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization in Pennsylvania in 1973. The purpose of the Fellowship was to “foster the fellowship of man and the principles of the Jewish faith, life and customs.” Initially, the Fellowship held some educational and religious events in participants’ homes. In 1980, after seven years of meeting in members’ residences and community buildings, the Fellowship dedicated its first permanent home. By the mid 1990s, Fellowship members recognized a need for a larger facility to accommodate the increased attendance at religious services and programs. In 2000, the dedication of the new building was held. With the help of a Jewish Federation grant and a matching fund-raising effort headed by Jordan Berkman, the original Fellowship building was refurbished for educational use. The Arlyne B. Berkman Education Center was dedicated on June 12, 2005. The Fellowship services not only Hemlock Farms but the surrounding communities. The Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms is the only Jewish house of worship in Pike County. At the celebration JFHF past presidents reminisced about their terms in office and how the Fellowship evolved throughout the years. Current president Steve Natt spoke about the Fellowship today and his vision for its future. JFHF representatives thanked Joyce Friedman and Enid Goldberg, who co-chaired the event, and to Nancy Natt, who made the centerpieces for the tables.

L-r: Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms past President David Malinov, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania Mark Silverberg and Phyllis Malinov attended the JFHF 40th anniversary celebration.

Joyce Friedman listened to Jordan Berkman’s recollections of his years at the Fellowship.

Foreground (l-r): Rabbi Johanan Bickhardt, Phil Barr and Rabbi Steven Nathan. In the background: Allan Trynz (far left) and Jerry Friedman (far right).

L-r: Enid Goldberg, event co-chairwoman; Nancy Natt, who prepared the table centerpieces; and Joyce Friedman, co-chairwoman and emcee, posed for a photo together.


At left: Community members celebrated the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms 40th anniversary.


The following are deadlines for all articles and photos for upcoming Reporter issues.



Thursday, July 18................................. August 1 Thursday, August 1............................ August 15 Thursday, August 15.......................... August 29 Th

At right: The past and current presidents of the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms posed together. L-r: Joyce Friedman, event emcee; JFHF past presidents Al Silverstein, David Malinov and Stan Rothman; and the current president, Steve Natt.

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THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

Congregation B’nai Harim received disaster reparedness training

Members of Congregation B’nai Harim learned about ways to prepare for a variety of disaster situations on June 7, following a shabbat evening service led by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum, as well as a potluck dinner. Red Cross volunteers Dan Fergusson

and Joe Cassar discussed “Preparedness Training” while congregants played bingo. Each number called was followed by an in-depth discussion about the topic. Prizes were awarded for those who scored bingo. In addition, everyone present took home a disaster

preparedness bag filled with various supplies. After the presentation, B’nai Harim members realized “it is easy to be prepared for any emergency,” noted a congregation member. Facilitator Norma Krasne-Levine contacted Red Cross manager Gail Toscano

and asked that the presentation be given to the congregation members after she attended a similar workshop with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. For more information about Congregation B’nai Harim, visit or call 646-0100.

The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition

Holocaust education funding advances in Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, with the grassroots assistance of the Pennsylvania Jewish Federations and communities, helped in passing Holocaust education funding legislation through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. House Bill 1424, introduced by Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Majority Education Chairman Paul Clymer (R-Bucks), passed out of the Pennsylvania House of Representative’s Education Committee and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously. HB 1424

was taken from legislation originally introduced by Representative Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia). From the early 1990s to 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Education annually allocated funding for Holocaust education. The funding was assigned through a grant line item along with two museums (one in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh) called Ethnic Heritage. In 2009, this line item was eliminated during the FY 09-10 budget process. Since that time, there has been no allocation for

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Holocaust education by the state. HB 1424 enables the Pennsylvania Department of Education to create a separate line item in the budget – codified in state law – that will mandate the department develop a curriculum and teaching materials, and train the teachers who will teach about the Holocaust in schools. “As the years continue to bring distance between the atrocities of the Holocaust and the present day, almost 70 years, we need to emphasize the need for our society to remember the Holocaust,” said a PJC representative. “We must teach our children about the horrific actions of the Nazis, the need to fight against hate and to promote tolerance.” The PJC has pushed the need for this legislation because of their belief that “time” is obstructing the understanding of how the Holocaust came to be and the actions that took place throughout Europe during the Nazi regime. “HB 1424 will


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help to effectively teach new generations to never forget what happened and assure that actions of the Holocaust and genocidal activities never happen again,” added a PJC representative. HB 1424 has been called “a significant step” towards educating students about the Holocaust. Training teachers how to teach the Holocaust can help to consistently explain how the Holocaust happened; the power of hate and its results; what happens when society ignores hate and does not take action to stop it; and the need to never forget and assure that genocide never happens again. HB 1424 was called “a strong step” towards returning the state to supporting Holocaust education in its schools. The legislation is now before the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee for their consideration. The PJC is working with the committee as it pushes for a fall vote on the issue.


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 or call 570-961-2300, ext. 1.

The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania wishes to acknowledge the generous gifts of those who have contributed to the Superstorm Relief Fund. A number of contributors have requested that we not print their names, but if we have accidently omitted your name, we apologize. Amos Lodge #136 Marvin Brotter Mark Davis Donald Douglass Nancy Dressel Rosalie Engelmyer David Fallk David Feibus Nancy Friedman Shirley Friedman Eugene Glantz Alan Glassman Sheldon Goldstein Seth Gross Iris Grubler Martin Hainer Susan Jacobson Joel Joseph JWV Post #165 Leah Laury

Saul & Sharon Levy Iris Liebman Marlene Mandel Mildred Myers Rochelle Myers Samuel Newman Ilise Rubinow Harriet Schectman Elliot Schoenberg Daniel Sherman Shira Silverberg Michelle Star Dorothea Szczesniak Mildred Weinberg Phyllis Weinberg Marilyn Wolk

Our thanks to all!

JULY 4, 2013 ■


Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch performed at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms By Judy Hamer The audience at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms attended a performance by the musician Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch on June 2. Slepovitch, a singer, clarinetist and pianist, presented songs he discovered during his decade-long journeys across Eastern Europe. The program included rarely heard songs in Yiddish, Polish, Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian. The songs depicted a “vivid and multi-faceted picture of the vibrant Jewish culture in the 20th century,” noted organizers of the program. Slepovitch explained the stories behind each song. The songs reflected everyday life in the 1900s. Slepovitch has been called “a wonderful entertainer,” who frequently involved the audience during the event. His clarinet playing was called “incredible” and participants noted enjoying the “energetic, beautiful and expressive performance.” Glenn and Rochelle Weber were patrons of the event, which was sponsored by the Men’s Club of the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms. Organizers thanked the Webers for making the program possible.

Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch performed on the clarinet at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms on June 2.


L-r: Dan Marcus, president of the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms Men’s Club; performer Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch; and a patron of the event, Rochelle Weber, posed together.

Jewish exporter from Paris becoming hot merchandise on French music scene By Cnaan Liphshiz PARIS (JTA) – Using two iPhones, Marc Fischel was overseeing the recent shipping of tons of vegetables at the hectic Rungis wholesale market, where thousands of Frenchmen ship mountains of fresh perishables across Europe. The director of export at one of the market stalls, the 40-year-old Fichel fits in easily with the multitudes of Asians, Arabs and Africans who work at Rungis. It’s easy to forget the French Jew is an upand-comer on the country’s indie pop scene, with a debut album recently released and some 20 sold-out concerts to his credit.

“I think part of the fascination with me owes to my double life: my musical career and my job at the market,” Fichel told JTA. Indeed, French media have published a flurry of flattering articles about the singer. Le Figaro music critic Pierre De Boishue compared Fichel’s emotional singing and simple piano melodies to those of the late pop legend Michel Berger, also a Parisian Jew. “It was a huge, huge compliment,” Fichel said. Yet beyond Fichel’s musical talent, his story also is seen as an example of how working-class Muslims and Jews can get along in a city where tensions between the

groups often run high. His musical partners comprise a multicultural vichyssoise that includes guitarist Zizou Sadki, the son of a Muslim Moroccan immigrant, and Nourith, an Israeli army veteran who performs at Jewish community events. Despite the apparent contrast between his celebrity status and day job moving vegetables, Fichel says the two professions have one thing in common: the irrelevance of politics and religion. “Here there’s no religion and no race, only business,” Fichel said. “And with music there is only harmony.” See “Music” on page 14

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THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

Creating modern Israeli heroine, LeBor crosses Lisbeth Salander and biblical Yael

By Ruth Ellen Gruber BUDAPEST (JTA) – There’s a new Jewish heroine on the block, a tough but tender Israeli who does undercover work for the United Nations and stars in a new series of thrillers by British author and journalist Adam LeBor. The first installment, “The Geneva Option,” was released in the United Kingdom in April and recently hit U.S. booksellers. It spins a tale of corporate greed, international corruption and insidious plans for mass murder, with intrigue spanning the globe from New York to central Africa to Switzerland. The protagonist is Yael Azoulay, an auburn-haired Israeli army veteran forced to use subterfuge, computer savvy and Krav Maga skills to thwart the villains. “As far as I know, she’s the first Israeli woman protagonist in a thriller,” said LeBor, a Budapest-based correspondent for The Times of London, the Economist and other publications. The story pivots on an unholy alliance between superpowers and multinational corporations aimed at cornering the market on raw materials essential for 21st century technology. “I wanted to look at the tension between the moral aims of the U.N. and the actual results of superpower politics in the U.N. – there’s a pretty serious gap there,” said LeBor, who drew on his own dealings with the world body as a reporter in Bosnia during the 1990s. “But I don’t see the book as an indictment of the U.N. or of the people who work there,” he added. “There are obviously a lot of good people in the U.N. committed to its values. At the same time, there are some really dreadful people there, just placed there by their governments, or careerists out to milk the machine for as much as they can.” LeBor drew inspiration for Azoulay from many sources, including Lisbeth Salander, the hacker heroine of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy, and Azoulay’s biblical namesake, Yael, who sheltered an enemy commander in her tent and then killed him by hammering a stake into his head. “What if there was someone working for the U.N. with a powerful moral drive to do good, yet who was forced to operate in the shadows? Even to kill?” LeBor wrote in a recent op-ed in The Times of Israel. Azoulay, he wrote, is “a modern woman – a 21st century heroine, haunted by her past, with a complex identity, but

Adam LeBor (above, right) in “The Geneva Option,” his second venture into fiction, introduces Yael Azoulay, an Israeli army veteran who is caught up in the world of international intrigue. (Harper Publishing) one firmly rooted in Israel.” Azoulay faces more than just physical enemies. In her mid-30s ,she’s also contending with the biological clock. To complicate matters, the potential love interest for this proud Israeli is a PalestinianAmerican journalist. “There’s always tension between career women and the call of relationships and family,” LeBor told JTA. “The basis of drama is conflict and you need inner conflict in the protagonist.” “The Geneva Option” is Lebor’s second venture into fiction, having already authored more than a half-dozen non-fiction books. His latest, “Tower of Basel,” is an investigative history of the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements that also was recently published in the United States. Many of his books have a Jewish or Israeli theme – including “The Believers,” about the swindler Bernard Madoff’s impact on the American Jewish community, and “City of Oranges,” the story of Israel told through the sagas of three Arab and three Jewish families in Jaffa. His previous novel, “The Budapest Protocol,” posits a shadowy World War II conspiracy aimed to achieve Nazi economic

domination of Europe. “I guess it’s a way of exploring part of my own identity in a way, being brought up Jewish in England, having gone to two Jewish schools, having lived on a kibbutz in my gap year, having studied Hebrew and also Arabic,” he said. “I realized when I got to the level of being able to write nonfiction books, I thought that there were some interesting things I can explore here.” LeBor says writing fiction is more difficult than nonfiction, but often more satisfying. “When you get fiction going, it’s true what you read about – the characters just come alive,” he said. “You wake up in the morning still half asleep and you know what to do. You end a chapter on a cliff-hanger. You think how on earth is she going to get out of that; you sleep on it. And you know what to do. It’s really an amazing high. It’s like flying when it works.” See “Yael” on page 10


Continued from page 1

advocacy since the massacre of 26 people at a school in Connecticut last year. “Dianne has always been pretty much a centrist on these issues, law enforcement, security,” said Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman from southern California. Wyden, the child of German Holocaust survivors, entered public service through his activism as a young professor of gerontology concerned about insurance scams targeting seniors. “The victims of these scams – seniors who had lived through two world wars – would look at me with shame in their eyes and tell me that they should have known better,” he wrote on the Huffington Post last year. “Stopping those insurance rip-offs was one of the reasons I ran for Congress.” Wyden founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers, a social justice group focused on the rights of older Americans, in the 1970s. In 1980, he was elected to the House and then to the Senate in 1996. “He’s always been very much an independent thinker,” said Bob Horenstein, the director of the Portland, OR, Jewish Community Relations Council. “He’ll find allies where he needs to find allies, and if he has to oppose a colleague, he’ll do that.” Wyden and Feinstein both have reputations for walking away from their parties – and their natural constituencies – on principle. Feinstein is an outspoken advocate for the death penalty and has close ties to the centrist pro-Israel community and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – neither position a particularly popular one in Feinstein’s northern California base. But she has also endorsed the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for comprehensive peace in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders, and cited Israel’s use of cluster bombs in Lebanon to explain her repeated bids to ban the export of those arms. In 2011, Wyden unnerved his Democratic colleagues when he joined with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, in advocating for private options for seniors eligible for Medicare. Notably, the Gray Panthers, the organization that launched his public career, adamantly opposed the Wyden-Ryan proposal. Wyden suggested in a lengthy response on the Huffington Post that he was not about to stop working with Republicans or anyone else if it would advance the rights of Americans. “Because we worked together, Paul Ryan now knows more about the Medicare Guarantee and protecting seniors from unscrupulous insurance practices than he did before,” Wyden said. “If that is reflected in his budget this year, as someone who has been fighting for seniors since he was 27 years old, I think that’s a step in the right direction.”


JULY 4, 2013 ■ Continued from page 1

Karavany, who manages the development of the Bnei Shimon track. For the student team at Ben-Gurion, though, Jerusalem Formula was merely a milestone en route to the main event: a sleeker design and a strong finish at Formula SAE, a competition in which student teams worldwide race homemade cars through the streets of Varano de’ Melegari in northern Italy. Last year, Dror Hazan, right, one of the managers of the Ben-Gurion the Israeli team placed 11 in University Formula project, pushed Rani Dekel, who was driving the race car during the Jerusalem Formula a field of 42. The Ben-Gurion team event on June 14. (Photo by Raz Schweitzer/Ben Gurion began working toward this Racing) year’s race last summer, when the students Dekel and Efroni both said they would split into pairs and each tandem chose a part pursue jobs building Formula cars if the of the car to design. Each pair then spent a industry existed in Israel, but the country couple of months studying its part before has no racetracks or racing teams. starting the design on a computer. “The car With the opening of the Bnei Shimon is a huge number of different specialties that complex, which has been in the works go into one machine,” said Dor Efroni, one for nearly a decade, that may change. The of the project’s managers. “No one thing is complex will feature a 1.3-mile paved more important than the next. Each small track for rally cars and motorcycles, and aspect needs to be perfect.” a school for race-car driving. At a later Last year, Efroni worked on the car’s stage, the 80-acre complex will include an steering system; this year, he’s in charge automobile museum and a track suited to of the gearshift. His goal, he said, is to find Formula cars. the optimal balance between the engine’s For now, Karavany hopes foreign drivers weight and the car’s acceleration. will be drawn by Israel’s weather, which The main difference between last year’s allows for driving in winter when racing is model and the current one is that the motor impossible in Europe. oil is now in a container next to the engine Backers of the project also hope the driving rather than under it, which allows for the school will help fix a chronic problem in Israel: engine to be lower and the car faster. Last deaths on the road. “When someone learns safe year’s car went from zero to 60 miles per driving and race-car driving, only then will hour in less than 4 seconds. he learn his limits as a driver,” said Zion Ofri, After the car is designed on screen, the a lead investor in the Bnei Shimon complex. students work with Israeli auto shops to “Then he learns to drive cautiously.” build the parts, often using their own streetSome in the small world of Israeli motor legal cars to move parts from the Negev up sports would rather see the country invest in north. Students from Jerusalem’s Bezalel races featuring stock cars and motorcycles, Academy of Arts and Design fashion the which could use the Bnei Shimon track next car’s siding. year, rather than Formula 1. But for enthuEfroni wants the car done by July, fol- siasts like Dekel, the chance to drive on the lowed by testing and driving training before streets of Jerusalem is an experience unlike it is shipped to Italy in September. “It’s a any other. “It was like being Madonna’s crazy feeling,” Efroni said of the competi- opening act,” he said. “To make so many tion. “It’s four days of a huge high.” people happy was like magic.”

A Formula 1 Ferrari race car drove through the Old City during the Jerusalem Formula Peace Road Show on June 14. (Photo by Flash 90)

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Rick Moranis goes from “Ghostbusters” to mom’s brisket of songs that he was literally born Moranis’ compositions, perhaps to play. The result is “My Mother’s the most universally relatable tune Brisket,” a baker’s dozen of songs is the title track, “My Mother’s that Moranis says even non-Jews Brisket.” Asked what it is about can relate to. Moranis had an early brisket that makes Jewish children inclination to include a glossary so loyal to the homes they grew up for his heavily Yiddish-infused in, Moranis says he does not know collection of songs, but ultimately for sure, but calls homemade food decided against the move. “Other the “sensual part” of growing up in than Gary Schreiner,” Moranis tells a Jewish home., mentioning his friend and Moranis says the “bounty of producer, “almost all the musicians food and love and joy… wraps into [on the album] were Gentile. all the emotions and it is just tone “They completely got everysymbol of many representations of thing [in the songs] because it was that.” It isn’t surprising, then, that either self-explanatory, or I would when it came time to choose a title set [the Yiddish lyrics] up with a The cover of “My Mother’s Brisket & Other track for the new album and to take few lines,” he says. Love Songs,” the new album by Rick Moranis. a cover photo, Moranis went back For example, Moranis says that to the home of his mother and his (Photo by Warner Bros. Records) once he explained that a zaide is a daughter’s bubbe. grandfather, the song “I’m Old Enough to be Your Zaide” “That is my mother on the cover,” Moranis explains. had everyone in the studio laughing. “And if you don’t “My daughter took the picture!” know, you can get it from the song,” he says. Moranis is not sure if his mother’s brisket had any Among the other offerings on the album are “My Wednes- “secret ingredient,” but does recall her roasting the meat day Balabusta,” “Belated Haftorah,” “The Seven Days of “for hours,” then “letting it rest,” slicing it, then finally Shiva” and “I Can’t Help It, I Just Like Christmas.” reheating it “with all the stuff on top of it, so it ended up Though Jews and non-Jews can both relate to most of being more moist than others we came across, that might have been cut right at the table.” As happy as Moranis is to see his mother whenever he visits, he says that the rest of his family was always nearly as happy whenever she came to them bearing brisket. “When my mother walked in a house with the brisket, they were all happy to see her, but some would be happier to see the brisket,” he says. While his mother’s brisket may have been his true first Continuing a love, Moranis says he has “always loved making music.” Rosh Hashana fundraising tradition Though many fans think of him as a comedian and actor started by Roseann Smith Alperin (O.B.M.), as we begin 5774. first, Moranis was actually one of the many kids who “grew up wanting to be The Beatles,” before he was “sidetracked • Proceeds benefit Youth Religious Education • into comedy. Even when I was doing comedy, I wrote [music] all the time,” Moranis says. On his album “The Agoraphobic Cowboy,” released in • A gift bag with a Kosher Challah (plain or raisin), apples, 2005, Moranis included a song called “Mean Old Man,” which details the denizens of the Russian steam baths. “It a container of honey, candy, and two Yom Tov candles. was about guys who came to school and described their • A large flowering plant—mums. Last year the mums were father’s experiences in the steam bath, being whipped with eucalyptus leaves in the plaitza,” Moranis explains, huge and beautiful. This is the ideal gift for someone who mentioning the famed therapeutic torture that so many cannot accept outside food items. have enjoyed at the burly hands of Russian steam bath We are delivering the fresh Challah gift bags and the beautiful attendants. “They told about this particular Russian guy To order: Please make mums on Erev Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 4. who had this great touch with the leaves.” checks payable to When “The Agoraphobic Cowboy” attracted wide acDELIVERIES WILL BE MADE TO ANY ADDRESS IN “Temple Hesed Sisterhood”. claim, Moranis began looking into other elements of his SCRANTON OR THE ABINGTONS upbringing for song ideas. “I started writing more songs Specify plain or raisin All Orders Must Be In By August 28, 2013 that had music I remembered from shul and the Zionist challah or the flowering mum. camp I went to as a kid, and the vernacular I grew up with Volunteers Needed! that I was re-encountering in conversation with my famMail to: Carol Leventhal, ily,” Moranis says. 125 Welsh Hill Road, To assemble gift bags at 1 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 3 at the Leventhal Moranis has collaborated through the years with Clarks Summit, PA 18411. residence located at 125 Welsh Hill Road in Clarks Summit. other comics, such as Steve Martin and Mel Brooks. His For more information, To make deliveries on Wednesday morning, September 4 songwriting, however, is a more individualistic process. call Carol at 570-587-2931 “Writing jokes is a lot of fun to write with other people, Call Carol or Jeff at 570-587-2931 to volunteer. or email but songwriting alone I like better,” he says. Nevertheless, Moranis says he runs “everything by friends. I don’t dare publish anything without trusted friends of mine who are writers hearing what it is and giving feedback.” Order before August 25 • Delivered September 4 Among the “editors” for “My Mother’s Brisket” were Moranis’ sister, a cousin and, of course, his mother. Enclose check, made payable to: Name___________________________________________ “I sang some of [the songs] to my mother over the Temple Hesed Sisterhood phone,” he says. Address__________________________________________ One of the songs that Moranis’ mother did not hear in Mail order to: advance was “I’m Old Enough to be Your Zaide,” if only Carol Leventhal ________________________________________________ 125 Welch Hill Road because she may not have approved of the premise. “That Clarks Summit PA 18411 Phone___________________________________________ was inspired by a little moment I had with a younger woman who I probably could have pursued having an introductory date with, and I asked her how old her father was, and the Name___________________________________________ ¨ Challah______= $20/each oldest guy she had dated, and they were both younger than Address__________________________________________ ____ Plain _____Raisin me,” Moranis recalls. “I though that, for the betterment of mankind, I would ________________________________________________ move on and wish her well,” Moranis says. “As I walked ¨ Mums_______= $22/each away, that song came to mind.” Phone___________________________________________ While there is talk of a possible live tour, the album is currently the closest fans can get to being at Moranis’ Name___________________________________________ ¨ Challah______= $20/each mother’s table. “At the end of the second day, the guys ____ Plain _____Raisin Address__________________________________________ [at the recording studio] said we had to play this live,” Moranis says. “I thought they were kidding, but I find the ________________________________________________ ¨ Mums_______= $22/each idea intriguing.” Moranis originally thought this album would be distribPhone___________________________________________ uted privately, among friends and family. When he told his attorney that he would record it for just eight people, the Name___________________________________________ ¨ Challah______= $20/each attorney thought Jews all over North America would love ____ Plain _____Raisin Address__________________________________________ the album. Now, deluxe sets of “My Mother’s Brisket” will even come with an inscribed yarmulke. “I think people ________________________________________________ ¨ Mums_______= $22/each would give it to their cousins,” Moranis says of the albumyarmulke combination. “That is what I would do.” Phone___________________________________________

By Matt Robinson When fans picture Rick Moranis, the first things that probably come to mind are comedy and scenes from science fiction movies such as “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” “Ghostbusters,” “Little Shop of Horrors” or “Spaceballs.” But Moranis’ latest project conjures up an image much closer to home. Moranis recalls that the smell of his Jewish mother’s home “would get you from five blocks away.” “The whole place smelled like Friday at 6 pm and that was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year,” Moranis says in an interview with That smell is the inspiration behind Moranis’s new CD, “My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs” (Warner Bros. Records/LoudMouth). Released on June 18, the album is comprised of 13 comedic songs exploring the smorgasbord of Moranis’ Jewish heritage. Moranis actually started his career not on the big screen, but spinning records at the Toronto-based CHUM-FM radio station, accompanying himself on the guitar during his earliest solo comedy routines. In 1982, Moranis and his fictional brother Dave Thomas from the movie “Strange Brew” and the comedy show “Second City Television” scored a Billboard Top 40 hit with “Take Off.” Nearly 25 years later, Moranis hit the charts again, but this time as a country singer on his album “The Agoraphobic Cowboy.” This year, Moranis went back to the studio to record a set

h a l a l n a d H , Hone d e s y He Gift Bag $20 • Mums $22

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Thanks to everyone who made the 2013 Annual Meeting a success!




THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013


Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week.


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: 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: Please contact us for schedules and locations.


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


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: 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.


Rabbi Steve Nathan President: Steve Natt Forest Drive 1516 Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA 18428 570-775-7497 • E-Mail: 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


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


President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor


Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Sharon Alfonsi 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: E-Mail: Friday evening Shabbat, 8pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am


Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Moshe Saks 918 East Gibson St., Scranton, PA, 18510 (located at the corner of Gibson & Monroe Sts.) 570-342-0350 Fax: 570-342-7250 • E-Mail: 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.


By RABBI MENDEL BENDET, DIRECTOR, CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Mattot-Masei, Numbers, 30:2-36:13 This week we read two Torah portions, Matot and Masei. Masei means “journeys.” The journeys enumerated in this week’s Torah portion, from the time of leaving Egypt until reaching the valley of Jericho, signify all the stages that the Israelites must pass through until the coming of Moshiach. Thus it is said in the works of the Kabbalah, and in a teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, that he who understands the meaning of the journeys will know the particular “journey” of his present state as well as all that still lies before him, i.e., how many and which journeys he still needs to travel until the coming of Moshiach. Generally speaking, all these journeys are in order of ascents. “These are the journeys of the children of Israel leaving the land of Egypt – Mitzrayim” refers to journeys in the plural from, notwithstanding the fact that there was but a single journey that took them out of Egypt; but every journey signifies a going out from the Mitzrayim (which comes from the same root as “restriction” and “limitation”) of that moment and stage to the expanse relative to that moment and stage. There are numerous levels and stages. Something may be a “good and expansive land” relative to a lower level, but it would still be Mitzrayim relative to higher levels.


Continued from page 6 As for Yael Azoulay, her next full-length book adventure will be set partly in Vienna. Until then, LeBor and his publisher will be taking advantage of new technology to issue occasional short stories or novellas that can be published as e-books within weeks of being written. The first, “The Istanbul Exchange,” came out recently. Azoulay “is going to get into a lot more trouble, for sure,” he said. And, LeBor said, he plans little by little to reveal more about her past. “It’s not spelled out in ‘The Geneva Option’ if [Azoulay] has any connections with Mossad, and if so, what they might be,” he added. “So you have to wait to see that in later volumes.”

The “journeys” thus teach us that one must incessantly move on and progress, regardless of past achievements. There must be a continual movement from mitzrayim to a “good and expansive land,” at the very least in terms of one’s current status. This implies a non-gradual progression. With a single journey we can instantaneously leave mitzrayim – restrictions and limitations – and come into a “good and expansive land.” Even so, one is not to content oneself with that singular departure from Mitzrayim. One must forever progress further in awareness of the fact that whatever stage has been attained remains a form of Mitzrayim, i.e. restrictive limitation, relative to higher levels. Thus, one must continue onward until reaching the “Valley of Jericho,” the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our very own days.

The Art of Ezra Jack Keats

“The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats” pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983), whose children’s books include “Whistle for Willie” (1964), “Peter’s Chair” (1967) and “The Snowy Day” (1962), will be held at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia from July 19-October 20. Published at the height of the American civil-rights movement and winner of the Caldecott Medal, “The Snowy Day” has been considered a milestone work since it featured the first African-American protagonist in a modern full-color picture book. The exhibition features more than 80 original works, from preliminary sketches and dummy books, to final paintings and collages for the artist’s most popular books. Also on view are examples of Keats’s most introspective, but less-known work, inspired by Asian art and haiku poetry, as well as documentary material and photographs. For information on the museum, call 215-923-3811 or visit



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Foul-mouthed Mikey Weinstein provokes Congress in name of religious freedom By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) – Mikey Weinstein couldn’t be happier to have an amendment in his honor approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Yes, the amendment, passed June 13 and designed to keep Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation as far away from the Pentagon as possible, is more in his “dishonor.” But Weinstein is the kind of guy who revels in the dislike of his adversaries. “How terrified are these little pu***es in Congress that they have to pass an amendment about me?” he shouted in a phone interview from the foundation’s headquarters in Albuquerque, NM, using a putdown associated with a woman’s genitalia. Weinstein and his opponents claim a common cause: freedom of religion. But while Weinstein wants troops free from coercive evangelizing by their superiors, a number of conservative lawmakers and activists see Weinstein as the threat to religious freedom. Inspired by a report that Weinstein had met with Pentagon brass, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in a statement that called Weinstein a “notorious anti-Christian zealot.” In his House speech the same day, Huelskamp complained, “It seems that secretive meetings continue with individuals actually opposed to religious liberties.” Weinstein welcomed the amendment, which requires the Pentagon to notify Congress of any meeting it holds with civilians to discuss military policy with respect to religious liberty. The language of the amendment, he notes, also would cover meetings between the Pentagon and Christian conservatives. Still, the amendment reflects growing concern in certain quarters that the gruff and foul-mouthed persona Weinstein likes to represent is an anti-Christian crusader in disguise. Rep. Michele Bachmann fund-raised off what she said was a Pentagon meeting with “left-wing, anti-Christian activists.” Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) in May asked the Pentagon for further information about a meeting between its officials and “anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein.” The core of Weinstein’s threat, as depicted by his conservative opponents, is that he is at the vanguard of a bid to squelch religious expression in the military. In fact, Weinstein does not target Christian expression as long as there is no evidence of coercion. His problem is with commanders who intimidate subordinates by permitting proselytizing – or engaging in it themselves. “The military is indescribably tribal, adversarial, communal, ritualistic,” Weinstein said. “If you are being even gently evangelized by your military superior, ‘Get the f*** out of my face, sir’ is not an option.” Weinstein has been lobbing bombs at the religious establishment since the mid-2000s, when two of his sons told him of coercive efforts by their superiors at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He established his foundation in late 2005. Weinstein says he does not target any particular faith.

Mikey Weinstein drew national attention to the problem of religious coercion on the military. Now Congress and other critics are pushing back against his abrasive style. (Photo by Military Religious Freedom Foundation)

One of his recent victories involved getting a commander to remove atheist bumper stickers from his car. Most of his organization’s clients have been Protestant. But his rhetoric gleefully takes on what he says are the extremes of Protestant observance and he barely notes the distinction he makes in practice between observance and coercion. Weinstein has attacked what he calls “Dominionist” Christians seeking to advance the United States toward theocracy. And he has referred to fundamentalist Christians as “monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” It is that tone that has alienated some of Weinstein’s one-time allies. The Anti-Defamation League, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), all of whom publicly supported Weinstein in the past, will say little about him now. The RAC and Israel both declined multiple requests for comment, while the ADL’s civil rights director, Deborah Lauter, would only say, “We don’t like the lack of civility on either side. ADL’s approach has always been if we see a problem, find a constructive way to fix it.” Former Jewish community associates of Weinstein would not speak on the record, but delivered tortured accounts of their relationships with him, which essentially boil down to this: Weinstein is wacky and impolitic – and right. “It’s not that he’s not correct, it’s that he’s not political” is how one put it. Weinstein says he has no interest in such allies and has choice epithets for those that especially annoy him; he calls the ADL the “Apologist Defense League.” He says his mission – keeping the most powerful military on the planet out of the control of theocrats – is too important for niceties. He likens himself to bygone activists who have chosen more moderate paths than their ideological allies. “Martin Luther King said, ‘We shall overcome’; Malcolm X said, ‘We’re coming over,’” Weinstein said. “And we’re coming over.” Lost in the mutual expressions of outrage are efforts by the military to address the abuses Weinstein helped expose at the Air Force Academy in the mid-2000s. The academy now requires cadets to undergo two hours of training in their first and fourth years, and one each in their second and third, to help sensitize them to religious differences. The ADL helped develop the curriculum. It is the mission of


the military to ensure that troops “observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs,” said Col. Robert Bruno, the academy’s senior chaplain. Weinstein is dismissive of such assurances, saying that any actions taken through the hierarchy are bound to invite career-ending retribution. The only way to protect cadets is to keep complaints anonymous. “I’ll call a commander and say, ‘You have an hour to make this go away,’” Weinstein said. Rabbi Joshua Narrowe, until earlier this month the Jewish chaplain at the Air Force Academy, said he never saw any evidence of coercion. And while he would not count out the claims of Weinstein’s clients, he takes issue with his approach. “As long as they are anonymous, we can’t fix anything,” Narrowe said. Weinstein, hearing this account, returned to combative form, noting the account on his website of a recent commissioning ceremony in which a speaker allegedly urged the graduates to “help return this country to the Christian values it was founded on.” According to the foundation, Weinstein quickly received a pledge from a senior Academy official to review pre-ceremony briefings for speakers. As to Narrowe’s claim of not witnessing coercion, Weinstein sputtered. “Rabbi Narrowe, huh,” he laughed. “Rabbi Narrowe-minded.”


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THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

The Marx Brothers and Jewish identity

By Robert Gluck The sons of Jewish immigrants from Germany and France, the Marx Brothers became zany masters of stage and screen who continue to captivate audiences. But in addition to providing comic relief, their films captured the drama of the entry of their marginalized religion into the U.S. Wayne Koestenbaum, author of the 2012 book “The Anatomy of Harpo Marx,” explains that the Marx Brothers’ Jewishness as a family “was evident, marked, thoroughly legible.” “Within a family already marked as Jewish within cinema culture of the ‘20s and ‘30s, Harpo, as the one who experiences shame most vividly in the films, became the scapegoat,” Koestenbaum tells “To the extent, then, that Jews have always been scapegoated – and certainly in the ‘30s most tragically and demonstrably scapegoated – it seems to me no coincidence that the Marx Brothers made their films exactly during the time of the rise of Nazism.” Koestenbaum’s book is a detailed account of Harpo’s physical movements as captured on screen. He guides readers through the 13 Marx Brothers films, from “The Cocoanuts” in 1929 to “Love Happy” in 1950, focusing on Harpo’s body language – its kinks, sexual multiplicities, somnolence, pathos and Jewishness. In his appraisal of Harpo’s antics in “A Night in Casablanca,” Koestenbaum writes, “I will lean on the Nazi theme; Harpo leans on it, too. Harpo was a comic genius

L-r: The Marx Brothers – Chico, Harpo and Groucho (sitting). (Photo by Yousuf Karsh via Wikimedia Commons) before the Third Reich came along, but the Third Reich gave Harpo’s anarchy extra pointedness.” Born in New York City, the Marx Brothers’ mother, Minnie Schonberg, was from Dornum in East Frisia, Germany, and their father, Simon Marx, was a native of Alsace, France, and worked as a tailor. The Marx family lived in the then-poor Yorkville section of New York’s Upper East Side, between the Irish, German and Italian quarters. Often imitated, the Marx Brothers first mastered the stage, but went on to conquer almost every medium, creat-


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ing memorable sketches and classic movies. Many think of Groucho, with his familiar, now iconic mask – greasepaint mustache, eyebrows, glasses, cigar and hair – as a symbol of the Marx Brothers. But Koestenbaum makes the case for Harpo, who the author says belongs in the same conversation as Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau, the world’s greatest mimes. “Harpo is a vestige of an earlier moment in cinema, the silent era, so he’s sort of out of place. He is literally the one who gets shamed or shunted aside in a lot of the family dynamics on screen. To the extent that cinema became a sound art, he’s an exile,” Koestenbaum tells  Koestenbaum says the Marx Brothers’ films “are haunted by a sense of the Jews as outsiders and endangered. “Obviously the Marx Brothers always get the last laugh so that they triumph,” he says. “They win the war; they win the battle against the persecutors. The other people in their movies are always bigger, more upper-class bullies and fools. They are bigger than Groucho and Chico, but you notice it more with Harpo.” One of those reasons the Marx Brothers’ work lives on is Frank Ferrante, whose one-man show, “An Evening with Groucho,” is on a tour of the U.S. in 2013. An award-winning actor, director and playwright, Ferrante recreates his New York and London-acclaimed portrayal of Groucho Marx in 90 minutes of fast-paced hilarity. The two-act comedy consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs, including “Hooray for Captain Spalding” and “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” The Marx Brothers’ staying power stems from the “unspoken, spiritual connection and intimate rapport that comes with their brotherhood,” among other factors, Ferrante tells The Marx Brothers’ continued popularity comes from “the fact that they represent the outsider and take perverse joy in tearing down the establishment and anyone who has power and authority – the wealthy, politicians, lawyers, doctors, professors. They are simply hysterical and can elicit belly laughs from all ages, classes, genders, race,” Ferrante says. Ferrante says Groucho was intensely loyal to his friends, many of whom were writers. “He maintained these friendships for decades,” Ferrante says. “He was also an avid proponent of young talent and made a public point of heralding newcomers, struggling artists and writers. Jack Lemmon, Woody Allen, Steve Allen, Dick Cavett, Neil Simon and countless others benefitted from his influence.” Why did Groucho become the verbal expert and Harpo the silent clown? “Groucho was on the defensive early on and evolved masterfully into the king of the offensive – brash, fast-talking, pun-laden, with a musical delivery,” Ferrante explains. “He used his mind and his tongue was often a weapon. I believe he was sensitive and easily hurt, and felt marginalized early on. It was made quite clear to him that he was not his mother’s favorite. He used words and humor to fend off the slings and arrows of life while slinging his own.” Groucho was introverted as a youth and did not make it past the sixth grade, which was a source of shame, Ferrante says. But Groucho went on to educate himself by reading voraciously from the great novelists of his time, turning his shame to pride. “He read multiple news periodicals and was up on current events,” Ferrante says. “He kept a dictionary in his car. Later in life he became a regular correspondent with T.S. Elliot, a pride point for Groucho.” With Koestenbaum’s book, the case has been made for Harpo’s physical comic genius to be mentioned in the same conversation as Groucho’s verbal virtuosity – and that is where the Marx Brothers’ Jewish identity comes into play. “Harpo’s infantilism, babyishness and cuteness makes one feel the plight of the Jews more poignantly,” Koestenbaum says. “But he moves too quickly. He wiggles, nods, runs. I wanted to pin him down, hold him and figure out why I loved him. After writing hundreds of pages, love remains impossible to explain, but I will try. He seems to be able to find comfort anywhere.”

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JULY 4, 2013 ■



NEWS IN bRIEF from israel Jordan negotiating to buy natural gas from Israel

From JTA

IDF finds Palestinian weapons cache in Nablus

The Israeli military uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus. Israel Defense Forces and Border Guard troops discovered the cache overnight June 27 based on intelligence information, according to the IDF. Three Palestinians suspected of possession of weapons as well as 16 other wanted Palestinian men were arrested following the raid. The weapons cache included pistols, parts of an M16 rifle, more than 100 ammunition clips, various kinds of ammunition and other military equipment. In the past two months, military equipment, weapons and ammunition have been uncovered in 10 West Bank locations, according to the IDF. “More than a dozen shooting incidents were reported since the beginning of 2013 in Judea and Samaria,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. “Such counter terrorism activities in the region are crucial to the prevention of such incidents.”

Ford Foundation makes $1 million grant for Yad Vashem trees

The Ford Foundation is giving $1 million to maintain the Righteous Among the Nations trees of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The grant to preserve and protect the trees, which was announced on June 27, is honoring the 50th anniversary of the Righteous Among the Nations program at Yad Vashem. More than 24,800 individuals who helped Jews during the Holocaust have been recognized with the designation. Some 2,000 trees have been planted on Yad Vashem’s Mount of Remembrance, as well as across its campus in Jerusalem, in honor of the rescuers of Jews. “As we stand here today in this place of beauty and peace, we honor all those who have the courage to strive for justice in times of profound injustice,” said Luis Ubinas, the president of the Ford Foundation. “May this space honoring the Righteous Among the Nations stand for centuries to come as a reminder that each of us has a responsibility to act in the face of injustice, that each of us must have the courage to challenge oppression.” The Ford Foundation has supported the work of Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations department since 2006, according to the memorial. A JTA investigative report in 2003 found that the Ford Foundation had supported several pro-Palestinian NGOs that promoted antisemitism at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Jordan is negotiating with Israel to become the first country to buy from its natural gas reserves. A deal likely would require running a pipeline from Israel to Jordan, The Wall Street Journal reported on June 26. On June 23, Israel approved a plan to export 40 percent of its recently tapped natural gas reserves. Both Jordan and Israel have suffered from two years of supply shortages following a series of attacks on pipelines from Egypt bringing gas to the two countries. The Egyptian gas supply was never restored to Israel and Jordan is receiving less than 40 percent of its previous gas supply, according to the newspaper. Jordan also has held talks on natural gas with Iraq and Qatar. Israel is the least attractive deal from a political standpoint, according to the Journal. “The cheapest option is for Jordan to obtain natural gas from Israel,” Amit Mor, president of Eco Energy Ltd., an Israeli energy consultancy, told the paper. “But Jordan has yet to make a geopolitical decision to buy gas from Israel.”

Israeli hospital cares for Syrian youths injured in civil war

Two Syrian boys wounded during fighting in their country’s civil war were transferred by the Israeli military to a hospital in Safed. The boys, 9 and 15, were evacuated by the Israel Defense Forces to the Rivka Sieff-Ziv Medical Center late June 25. One had surgery in Syria for multiple internal injuries, and the other has dozens of shrapnel wounds and lost an eye, according to reports. The boys join four other Syrian victims of the civil war, including two teens, at Sieff hospital, which has treated 30 injured Syrians in recent months. Earlier that week, a Syrian civilian being treated at the hospital died of his wounds. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on June 26 that more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the country’s two-year-long civil war. Also on June 26, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Golan Heights, where he addressed the combat soldiers of the army’s Golani Brigade. “What’s changed here is that today we are holding a drill in the Golan Heights that is not theoretical. The reality around us is changing and it is explosive, and we must prepare accordingly,” Netanyahu said in an address to the soldiers. “We must have the will to break the enemy and instill within it – at the moment of truth – the fear of death. This is how you win a battle, and if they test us, we will know how to defeat them.”

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THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

New Season of


July 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.


Continued from page 5 One of Fichel’s most successful songs, “My Life in the Market,” is about his work at Rungis, which also serves as backdrop for the video and features Fichel’s market colleagues. The clip has received more than one million views on YouTube. Fichel is a natural schmoozer, with a warm smile and a knack for sound bites. During an interview at the market restaurant, he leaps up repeatedly to hug, kiss or horse around with passing co-workers. His father, a dentist, taught him to play the piano and it was his friends that persuaded him to pursue a musical career. “I always played for and with friends until they kind of forced me a few years ago to make a video and put it online,” Fichel said. The video was for “The Blackberry Blues,” a love song for his cellphone. Produced on a shoestring budget, it drew the attention of Daniele Molko, now Fichel’s manager, and earned a half-million views online. Fichel may get along well with Paris’ diverse communities, but he also calls himself “a proud Jew” and a Zionist. In early June, he gave his first major international concert in Tel Aviv, an experience he calls “the proudest moment of my life.” “You are from my family,” Fichel said in Hebrew to a crowd of approximately 500 who filled Tel Aviv’s Tzavta concert hall to capacity on May 20. Performing in Israel “was a very special moment, an amazing spiritual experience,” Fichel said. “Israel is not just another place for me. I’m not religious, but it’s where my roots lie.” He also said his pro-Israel attitudes are not an issue at Rungis, where many of the workers and clients are Arab. “Politics is politics, business is business and music is music,” he told the Israeli daily Maariv. “I have many Muslim friends here and they introduce me to artists who sing in Arabic, so we can perform together.” Far from being embarrassed when market friends taunt him for giving interviews on his lunch break, Fichel asks Francois, the owner of the L’Etoile restaurant, to play “My Life in the Market” on the stereo. But leading a dual life is taking its toll on Fichel, who says he has been working 19-hour days since his musical career began to take off. “I’m crazy about music,” he said, “but I don’t know how long I can keep this up.” Yet Fichel, a bachelor who says he “loves women too much to get married,” does not want to leave his day job, which he has held for 10 years. “You don’t get up every day at 3 am for this unless you’re passionate about it,” he said. Fichel says the fast pace and time-is-money directness at Rungis fulfills a need that kept him “looking for excitement and getting into trouble” during his sheltered childhood in suburban Paris. But Gerard, a friend from the market, says he understands if Fichel leaves to focus on his music. “He’s one of us ‘cause he never thinks he’s better than anyone,” Gerard said. “I just hope he remembers our names when he’s real famous.”

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.

Marc Fichel at his stall at the Rungis wholesale market in Paris on May 29. (Photo by Cnaan Liphshiz)

JULY 4, 2013 ■




Congress hears effect of war on Syrian minorities, including Jews

Congress heard expert testimony on the fate of minorities in Syria, including Jews, during the two-year civil war in that country. The joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa addressed the ongoing persecution of religious minority groups in light of the conflict in Syria. “Before the war, Syria was a fairly pluralistic society, with Alawites, Shias, Ismalis, Yezidis, Druze, Christians, Jews and Sunnis living in relative peace, side by side,” said Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the human rights subcommittee chairman, at the June 25 hearing. According to a special report released in April by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Syria contains “a very small Jewish community found in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo,” and “the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis impacts members of all religious communities, including their religious freedom.” The hearing came in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to send weapons to Syrian rebel forces.

U.S. reportedly bans Ukrainian ultranationalist party leaders over antisemitism

Two leaders of Ukraine’s ultranationalist Svoboda Party have been banned from entering the United States for their open antisemitism, a Ukrainian daily reported. Oleh Tyahnybok and Igor Miroshnichenko were declared persona non grata in the United States earlier this year following talks with Jewish leaders, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, according to a report published on June 26 in the Kiev-based Sevodnya daily. The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine declined to comment on the reports when contacted by Sevodnya. A U.S. State Department report this month singled out Ukraine, along with Hungary and Greece, as places of “concern” because of growing antisemitic political parties. A Svoboda spokesman said the reports were false and part of an attempt “by foreigners to discredit” the party. Founded in 2004 Svoboda – “freedom” in Ukrainian – is rooted in the Social-National Party, a far-right movement ideologically aligned with Nazism. Svoboda garnered more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections, becoming the country’s fourth-largest party. Tyahnybok has praised supporters for being the “worst fear of the Jewish-Russian mafia,” and he and Miroshnichenko have used a pejorative for Jews. Vadim Rabinovich, the Ukraine-born co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, urged European countries to ban Svoboda officials in the same way that the U.S. reportedly has done.

Alleged Israeli spies charged in Egypt

Six Israelis will be tried in absentia in Egypt for spying for Israel. Egypt’s prosecutorgeneral on June 26 referred the six Israelis, as well as three Egyptians, for prosecution for working with the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, according to reports in the Egyptian media. Two of the Israelis have been identified by the Egyptian media as IsraeliArabs. The three Egyptians are charged with giving Israel information about Egyptian military positions and terror groups active in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptians also are accused of meeting with their Mossad handlers in southern Israel, where they passed on additional information and received instruction. The Israelis are charged with passing on sensitive information to a foreign country on security centers in the Sinai Peninsula and about tunnels running from the Sinai to Gaza.

Karsenty convicted, fined for defamation in al-Dura case

French media analyst Phillipe Karsenty was convicted of defamation for accusing French state television of doctoring a video showing the death of a Palestinian boy. The Paris Court of Appeals, which had overturned Karsenty’s libel conviction in 2008, convicted Karsenty on June 26 and fined him about $9,000 in his long-running case against the France 2 station. Karsenty called the verdict “outrageous,” while a lawyer for France 2 said it was a victory for journalists, according to The Associated Press. France 2 and its Israel correspondent, Charles Enderlin, sued Karsenty for defamation in 2004 following his claims that a video report by Enderlin on the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura in Gaza in 2000 was doctored. Karsenty claimed the footage of al-Dura crouching with his father behind a barricade as bullets whizzed overhead was a hoax. The footage became an icon of the second Palestinian intifada.

Karsenty was convicted of libel in 2006, but the Paris appeals court overturned the verdict. Last year, France’s highest court overturned the appeals court verdict, which led to the June 26 decision. In returning the case to the appeals court, the high court said the appeals court had overstepped its bounds in ordering France 2 to send it the rushes of the report, according to the French news agency AFP. Israel initially took responsibility for the shooting of al-Dura, but a subsequent investigation by its military found that the bullets likely came from Palestinian gunmen. In May, an official Israeli government report concluded that al-Dura was not hit by Israeli gunfire and did not die in the exchange of fire.

Kantor criticizes “discriminatory” EU stand on Hezbollah, West Bank labeling

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor told European Union leaders that moves to label goods from the West Bank without labeling Hezbollah a terrorist group is “discriminatory.” In a letter sent to the leaders of EU member states, Kantor said the EU “appears to be singling out one disputed territory of the world for special treatment, whereas the European Union has no similar policies for the other tens of territories that are the subject of international disputes.” He added that “the timing of the labeling issue is inauspicious as it is diverting energies that could be better placed supporting positive moves towards restarting direct negotiations between the [Israelis and Palestinians].” He said the “one-sided and biased” policy also could “increase ill faith and bad feeling between” them. The policy also will disenfranchise “tens of thousands of Palestinians who work for these Israeli companies, who would suffer an enormous financial blow from the ramifications of this policy.” Kantor wrote that the labeling of goods originating in the West Bank is made worse by the comparative lack of traction on the issue of adding Hezbollah to the EU list of terrorist organizations. “While the European Union’s oft-stated goal is to achieve peace and security in the Middle East, these words will remain hollow if an organization with a proven and indisputable record of murder and terrorism in Europe and around the world, and whose goal is to destroy the Jewish state, is allowed to act freely, recruit and raise funds unimpeded on the European continent,” he wrote. He said the proscription of Hezbollah would be the “greatest contribution” that the EU could give to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the peace process.

Ethiopian aliyah to end Aug. 28, Jewish Agency says

The Jewish Agency is preparing to end mass aliyah from Ethiopia with two final flights consisting of 400 immigrants on Aug. 28. The Jewish Agency emissary to Ethiopia, Asher Seyum, made the announcement in a brief letter, saying the Jewish Agency will hand over its aid compounds in the Ethiopian city of Gondar to local authorities at the end of August. For years the compounds – originally established by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and only recently taken over by the Jewish Agency – provided thousands of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate to Israel with educational, nutritional and some employment services. Once the final flights are complete, Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel will be subject to the same rules as potential immigrants from elsewhere in the world and considered on a case-by-case basis, a New York-based spokesman for the Jewish Agency told JTA. A steady trickle of approximately 200 Ethiopian immigrants per month has been coming to Israel since 2010, when the government decided to check the aliyah eligibility of an additional 8,000 or so Ethiopians. The petitioners are known as Falash Mura – Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago, but who now seek to return to Judaism and immigrate to Israel. They have been accepted to Israel under different rules than those governing other immigrants. The Israeli government has declared an official end to mass Ethiopian immigration several times. Each time, however, aliyah from Ethiopia resumed after pressure by advocates. In August 2008, for example, the Israeli government declared mass Ethiopian immigration over, only to reverse course several months later and agree to check the aliyah eligibility of 3,000 additional Ethiopians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in May 2009 that those would be the last Ethiopians to be checked en masse, but that decision was reversed in 2010, opening the door for this latest group of immigrants. Calling the decision to end Ethiopian aliyah “sensitive and complex,” Seyum acknowledged pressure from the Ethiopian community in Israel for the aliyah to continue but said he was bound by the government’s decision to end it. Under his implementation of the government’s 2010 decision, Seyum said, more than 6,500 Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel.

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THE REPORTER ■ july 4, 2013

See why everyone describes this as Unforgetable, the trip of a liftime!

Tel Aviv Caesaria Army Base Tiberias Sea of Galilee Jerusalem Tzfat (Safed) Golan Heights Masada Dead Sea Haifa

Saturday, October 12 Tuesday, October 22, 2013 We’ll arrive Sunday evening into Israel and stay overnight in Tel Aviv. The next morning we’ll travel up the coast of the Mediterranean to Caesaria, and then travel to the city of Tiberias, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where we’ll stay for two nights. We’ll travel throughout the Galilee, and we’ll visit the mountaintop city of Safed, and there we’ll go up to the Golan Heights. Then it’s off to Jerusalem, a truly magical city. We’ll go through the Old City, go to the Western Wall, and see many other sites throughout the city that are so special and so sacred. One day will take us down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and a visit to the mountain fortress of Massada. You will also have the chance to become “Archeologists For a Day”, as we take part in an active archeological dig, which is one of the most productive digs in the country! Near the end of the trip we will go to an IDF Army Base. We’ll have an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the youngsters who are serving in the Army today. We’ll also visit Tel Aviv, where we’ll sit in the actual place where Ben Gurion declared the state, in May, 1948, & then it’s off to the airport for our trip home. The cost of the trip is $3895 or $2965 for the land portion only. To sign up for the trip call Mark Silverberg at 570-961-2300 xt1. Questions? Call Barry Weiss, 570-650-0874 or Jay Weiss, 570-565-9515, or email bjtravel4@

ISRAEL, 2013 Home to the World’s 3 Great Religions!

This journey will touch you spiritually, no matter who you are. Come and share an experience so unique, it will be like nothing else you’ve ever done!

Profile for Becky Schastey

July 4,2013 Edition of The Reporter  

July 4,2013 Edition of The Reporter

July 4,2013 Edition of The Reporter  

July 4,2013 Edition of The Reporter