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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania JULY 5, 2012
VOLUME X, NUMBER 14
Federation called “vibrant and vital” at 2012 Annual Meeting By Dassy Ganz The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s annual meeting was held on June 14, during which the Koppelman Auditorium of the Scranton JCC was filled with educational displays enumerating the efforts of the various agencies funded by the Federation. Representatives of the agencies were available to respond to questions about their displays and to more fully describe their projects and activities.
See page 9 for photos of the Federation’s Annual Meeting. Chairmen for the event were Seth and Sheryl Gross, who began the meeting by praising the various agencies and encouraging the crowd to visit each exhibit after the meeting, if they had not already done so.
They also informed those present that a copy of the Federation’s 2011-12 Annual Report had been placed on each seat for everyone to peruse. Cantor Charles Osborne led the assembled guests in both the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah.” Following this, awards and honors were bestowed on Margaret Sheldon, outgoing Federation president; Doug Fink and Barbara Nivert, 2012 UJA Campaign Chairmen; Tova Weiss, retir-
At the Israeli Presidential Conference: from Dr. Ruth to Peter Beinart By Uriel Heilman JERUSALEM (JTA) – What do hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Zionist critic Peter Beinart and Dr. Ruth have in common? If you’re still puzzling over that one, you’re not alone. So were the participants at this year’s 2012 Israeli Presidential Conference, which featured those four among dozens of other panelists at the confab held recently in Jerusalem. Titled “Facing Tomorrow,” the conference assembled leading entrepreneurs, politicians, academics and Jewish community figures from around the world, and with them, a bevy of publicists, journalists and myriad other hangers-on. There was Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the octogenarian sexologist, opening the conference in a one-on-one, center-stage discussion with Israeli technology investor and entrepreneur Yossi Vardi. There was Terje RoedLarsen, the Norwegian U.N. diplomat who played a key role in the Oslo Accords and now heads the International Peace Institute, looking lost in the exhibit hall. In a corner near the bar, Noam Shalit, father of freed
captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, chatted with Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Stuck in the crowd, Alexander Mashkevich, the Kazakh-Israeli minerals oligarch and one of the conference’s benefactors, smiled politely amid a scowling coterie of thuggish men wearing shiny white suits. It was a conference of bold-faced names without a coherent theme. Some sessions focused on Israel’s strategic threats and Jewish identity. Others were about the future of smartphones and cloud computing. A group of neuroscientists led a discussion on how machines can help the brain. Israeli President Shimon Peres, the conference’s host, held a public work meeting with the president of Croatia. Some of the first-timers among the 4,000 or so attendees – an overwhelmingly but not exclusively Jewish group – weren’t quite sure what to make of it. “I’m trying to figure out what the conference is even about,” said Dov Waxman, a professor from the City University of New York who blogs on the Daily Beast and
Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, awarded former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with Israel’s Presidential Medal on June 18. (Photo by Shilo Productions)
At the National Archives
fe! Campaign i L o T Update Dr. Ruth Westheimer spoke about “The Future of Sex” during the Israeli Presidential Conference on June 21. (Photo by Shilo Productions) is writing a book about Jewish politics. “What is the purpose of this? Is it to pontificate about the Jewish future? It’s like a schmooze-fest, I think.” Indeed, perhaps more than anything else, the conference, now in its fourth year, aspires to be a sort of Jewish Davos – a gathering where the A-listers of the Jewish world can meet, network, exchange ideas and maybe have a good time. Except unlike the exclusive Davos World Economic Forum, it’s a lot easier to get in and there’s no registration fee. The conference is a testament to the star power and vision of Peres. Its $2.7 million price tag is paid for largely by the 88-year-old president’s friends and associates, including corporate and philanthropic sponsors, and its theme is something that Israeli politicians, at least, are not known for thinking too much about: the long-term future. If it is to become a fixture on the annual Jewish conference calendar, the Israeli Presidential Conference will be the only real multidisciplinary one. What other Jewish forum brings together the likes of Cisco’s CEO, Israeli singer-songwriter Achinoam Nini (aka Noa), Henry Kissinger, Paralympics swimmer Keren Leibovitch, Obama See “Conference” on page 14
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Biking for food justice
ing director of the Holocaust Education Resource Center; and Lil Walsh, retiring Federation bookkeeper. Sheldon then offered a memorial to those in the Federation family who had passed away this year. Leah Laury, a member of the Nominating Committee, brought forth the slate of officers and trustees for the coming year. All present voted to accept the slate as read and Rabbi Daniel Swartz, of Temple Hesed, installed the new group of trustees and officers. Incoming Federation President Jeff Rubel accepted his new role during his closing remarks, and thanks were extended to the Grosses for chairing the event, as well as to Dassy Ganz, Sheryl and their committee for the dessert reception that followed. Among comments overheard were, “This was the best Annual Meeting in a long time” and “We should have our agencies display like this every few years. It was an exciting addition.”
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Candle lighting July 6................................................. 8:21 pm July 13...............................................8:18 pm July 20............................................... 8:13 pm July 27...............................................8:06 pm August 3...........................................7:59 pm August 10.........................................7:50 pm
Bicyclists on the Hazon Cross-USA An exhibit at the National Archives Smaller shuls are experimenting PLUS Ride are raising awareness for food highlights documents and photos with programs and more to remain Opinion...........................................................2 justice and sustainable farming. of 20th century immigrants. viable and vibrant. Jewish Community Center.......................6 Story on page 8 Story on page 7 Story on page 12 D’var Torah.................................................10
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
a matter of opinion Daf Yomi gathering unites Jews of all stripes By Rabbi Avi Shafran (JTA) – More American Jews will converge this summer on a single spot of real estate than at any time in American history. The locus will be MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ; the reason for the coming together is to celebrate Torah study. More precisely, Talmud study. To be even more specific, the August 1 gathering is the culmination of the sevenand-a-half-year cycle of page-a-day study known as Daf Yomi. In this world of precious little Jewish unity, of fragmentariness and fractiousness, in addition to a celebration of accomplishment and perseverance, the event is a manifestation of Jewish unity, bringing together Jews of many stripes. Introduced in 1923 by a young Polish rabbinical leader, Rabbi Meir Shapiro, at the First International Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna, the Daf Yomi program was devised to enhance the sense of unity among Jews worldwide through the study of Torah. As Torah study for its own sake is a high Jewish ideal, Daf Yomi serves not only as a means to the end of amassing Torah knowledge, but as an end itself no less. In virtually every city in the world, Daf Yomi students study the exact same page of Talmud each day. The program may well be the world’s largest organized adult education initiative in modern times. And at the end of each cycle, which also is the beginning of the next, a good chunk of the Orthodox Jewish community comes together in various locales across North America and abroad to celebrate the achievement at a Daf Yomi “Siyum HaShas,” or “completion of the Six Orders” that comprise the Talmud. In 2005, an estimated 120,000 Jews
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Opinions The views expressed in editorials and opinion pieces are those of each author and not necessarily the views of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Letters The Reporter welcomes letters on subjects of interest to the Jewish community. All letters must be signed and include a phone number. The editor may withhold the name upon request. ADS The Reporter does not necessarily endorse any advertised products and services. In addition, the paper is not responsible for the kashruth of any advertiser’s product or establishment. Deadline Regular deadline is two weeks prior to the publication date. Federation website: www.jewishnepa.org How to SUBMIT ARTICLES: Mail: 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (570) 346-6147 Phone: (570) 961-2300 How to reach the advertising Representative: Phone: (800) 779-7896, ext. 244 E-mail: email@example.com Subscription Information: Phone: (570) 961-2300
from different eras and places. The siyum across the continent joined in the event among American Jewry. – along with many thousands more in IsThat fear indeed proved well-founded. sees Jews of different communities, differrael, Europe and Australia. This year, for Torah-committed Jewish immigrants, al- ent modes of dress, different approaches the 12th Siyum HaShas, with the Metlife though they arrived for the most part only to Jewish life all celebrating as the large Stadium alone holding upward of 90,000 after World War II, helped rejuvenate Jewish family we are. The Torah is the heritage of all Jews – no people, the number worldwide is sure to life on these and other shores, rebuilding Jewish communal and educational institu- matter what prefixes they place before their be considerably larger. The siyum, though, is much more than tions and fostering traditional Jewish obser- Jewishness, no matter what congregation they belong to, no matter whether a celebration of an accomplishment. It is a defiant demonstration of victory And so, perhaps the Siyum HaShas can they belong to any congregation at all. over those who 70 years ago tried to Our tradition teaches that Todestroy European Jewry. To be sure, offer a day of respite, an opportunity for the Nazis considered the Jews a race, any Jew who cares to recapture a spark rah was the original unifier of but at least some of them also recog- of the unity that was present at Sinai. klal Yisrael. All of our ancestors nized what empowers and preserves Jews from all backgrounds, whether they – and our own souls, the tradition teaches – stood at the foot of Sinai our people. choose to attend the event, participate “like a single person” to receive Writing in 1930, Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s chief ideologue, identi- through video hookups at other locations the Torah. And so, perhaps the Siyum Hafied “the honorless character of the or just take an hour or two at home to sit Jew” as “embodied in the Talmud down on the evening of August 1 with a Shas can offer a day of respite, an for any Jew who cares and in Shulchan-Aruch,” the latter Jewish holy book, will be joining hundreds opportunity to recapture a spark of the unity that being the codified compilation of of thousands of other Jews in focusing on was present at Sinai. Jews from all Jewish law. Perhaps even more telling was a what made, kept and keeps us a people. backgrounds, whether they choose to attend the event, participate 1940 directive issued by the German Highest Security Office. It prohibited vance in new lands. The scope of the Siyum through video hookups at other locations Jewish emigration from occupied Poland HaShas and the excitement over the event or just take an hour or two at home to sit to the United States on the ground that is undeniable evidence of that, and thus a down on the evening of August 1 with a an influx of “rabbiner, Talmud-lehrer” resonant slap in the face of the enemies of Jewish holy book, will be joining hundreds of thousands of other Jews in focusing on (rabbis, teachers of Talmud), and in fact the Jewish people. “jeder Orthodoxe Ostjudem” (every EastThere is something more, though, to the what made, kept and keeps us a people. Rabbi Avi Shafran is the director of public ern European Orthodox Jew) could foster siyum. As Rabbi Shapiro pointed out, a page “geistige erneuerung” (spiritual renewal) of Talmud exhibits the teachings of Jews affairs for Agudath Israel of America.
NYC’s Jewish community report can apply elsewhere in U.S. can Jewish communities) even though, highest and the percentage foreign born (29 By Ira M. Sheskin (JTA) – The 2011 Jewish Community demographically, New York Jews did not percent) is topped only by Miami. Among the 55 comparison Jewish Study of New York was released with some differ significantly in 1990 from the rest of communities, the percentage of Orthodox fanfare recently. Some of the UJA-Federa- America. Is this still the case today? To answer the question, I used the households (20 percent) is the second tion of New York’s survey results came as Comparison of Jewish Communities: A highest (just below Baltimore), Conservasomewhat of a surprise. After a decrease Compendium of Tables and Bar Charts tive (19 percent) is the fourth lowest and from about two million Jews in 1970 to 1.4 million in both 1991 and 2002, the region’s recently posted by this author at the Man- Reform (23 percent) is the second lowest. Jewish population increased to 1.54 million dell Berman North American Jewish Data The percentage Just Jewish (37 percent) is in 2011, reflecting higher numbers of both Bank, which provides comparisons of 55 the fifth highest. The percentage of households who keep American Jewish communities on hundreds children and elderly. a kosher home (32 percent) is the highest. Even more surprising was that nearly of measures. The 22 percent of married couples 500,000 Jews now live in Orthodox households, making the eight-county The trend toward greater bifurcation, with in the Jewish community who are intermarried is well below average. area (New York City’s five boroughs, some becoming more Jewishly engaged The percentage of households who plus Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester (although not Orthodox) while others donated to the local Jewish Federacounties) almost one-third Orthodox. At the same time, the number of people become less Jewishly engaged, is seen tion in the past year (24 percent) is who are “Just Jewish” and have much in most Jewish communities today. And the sixth lowest. Thus, New York also differs weaker ties to the Jewish community also the relationships shown in New York greatly. No other Jewish community is increasing. Thus, the two extremes are growing at the expense of the middle between Jewish engagement and such is as large, as diverse or as poor. Its experiences as Israel trips and Jewish Orthodox Jewish community alone (Conservative and Reform Jews). The study also found significant overnight camps almost certainly suggest is larger than any other American diversity (Russians, Israelis, Syrians that further emphasis on such informal Jewish community, except perhaps for Los Angeles. In no other comand others), a significantly increased Jewish educational efforts throughout the munity do we see the growth in percentage of Jews living in poverty Orthodox identification that we (about 20 percent) and modest decreases nation is warranted. see in New York (although we do in philanthropic giving as needs are inNew York is like other Jewish commu- see increases elsewhere in participation in creasing. But the reader should not concentrate just on the findings initially highlighted nities in some ways. For example, among Orthodox, mostly Chabad, institutions). Still, some trends and relationships found by the media. The report contains more than the comparison Jewish communities, the 250 pages of interesting and instructive in- percentage of persons in Jewish house- in the New York report almost certainly apformation on this most important American holds in New York age 17 and younger ply in many other Jewish communities. For (23 percent), age 65 and older (20 percent) example, the trend toward greater bifurcaJewish community. With the New York area’s 1.54 million and age 75 and older (12 percent), as well tion, with some becoming more Jewishly Jews representing as much as 25 percent of as average household size (2.55 persons engaged (although not Orthodox) while America’s Jews, changes in its demography per household), are all about average. others become less Jewishly engaged, is seen and Jewish engagement affect the overall Synagogue membership (44 percent) and in most Jewish communities today. And the profile of America’s Jewish population. So Jewish Community Center participation relationships shown in New York between can a Houston, a Tucson, AZ, or a Spring- (32 percent) are both about average, too. Jewish engagement and such experiences as field, MA, learn anything from a reading of The percentage of households who donated Israel trips and Jewish overnight camps althe New York results that will assist them to any Jewish charity in the past year (59 most certainly suggest that further emphasis on such informal Jewish educational efforts percent) is a bit below average. in their own community planning? throughout the nation is warranted. On the other hand, New York really difYes – and no. While it is unfortunate that a 2010 nafers from the rest of the country on many New York is New York. It is different Jewishly (and otherwise) from the rest of the measures. For example, among the compari- tional Jewish population survey was not country. Bethamie Horowitz, the researcher son communities, the percentage of those undertaken, one of the valid arguments for the 1991 New York Jewish Population in the local community who are Jewish (13 against a new NJPS is that most planning in Survey, in a 1994 article in Contemporary percent) is the third highest after Florida’s the Jewish community is done at the commuJewry posited a “New York effect” (that South Palm Beach and Broward County. The nity level. That is because, as shown by our See “Report” on page 6 New York is different from other Ameri- percentage locally born (56 percent) is the
JULY 5, 2012 ■
community news Congregation B’nai Harim upcoming events By Lee Emerson Congregation B’nai Harim has planned numerous programs for members during the summer. Book Club will discuss “Jewish Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition” by Marnie Davis on Saturday, July 7. A flea market and book sale, “Trash and Treasures,”
will be held on Sunday, July 15, from 9 am- 3 pm, in the Temple parking lot. The annual concert and brunch will be held Sunday, July 22. For price and registration details, visit www. bnaiharimpoconos.org. A Jewish trivia contest will be held at the temple on Saturday, July 28.
Temple Hesed Sisterhood held Sisterhood Shabbat By Emily Trunzo Temple Hesed Sisterhood conducted Sisterhood Shabbat on June 15, a service of Shabbat prayers and special readings and songs put together by Esther Adelman. The congregation was met by ushers Jimmy Ellenbogen and Audrey Harrell, who greeted attendees with a “Shabbat Shalom.” Adelman led the prayer service as members of the Sisterhood came to the pulpit for the readings both in Hebrew and English. Emily Trunzo read from the Torah and gave a d’var Torah. Participating in the service were Adelman; Barbara Parker Bell; Abigail Byman; Sandy Cooperman; Joan Davis; Lori Ann Gazella; Carol Leventhal; Charlotte Milliken; Carol O’Brien; Fran Olick; Aliza and Loren Selznick; Alana Swartz; Trunzo; and Paula Wasser. Before recited the Kaddish, there was a reading in remembrance of members of Sisterhood who passed away. The evening ended with an oneg Shabbat organized by Gloria Dinner, Trunzo and members of the Sisterhood.
Bruce Tucker will present a program on Sunday, August 19, about Ulysses S Grant and General Order 11 expelling Jews from the Department of Tennessee in December 1862. The video “Jewish Solders in Blue and Grey” will be shown. Movie night will be held on Saturday, August 25. The film “A Matter of Size,” an Israeli comedy, will be shown. There will be a Golf Outing at Pine Crest Country Club on Monday, August 27. The event will feature golf, prizes and dinner. For more details, visit www. bnaiharimpoconos.org. For more information or to register for any of these events, visit www.bnaiharimpoconos.org or call 646-0100.
S E N I L D A DE The following are deadlines for all articles and photos for upcoming Reporter issues.
Carol Leventhal lit the Shabbat candles.
Loren Selznick read part of the service.
Thursday, July 19................................. August 2 Thursday, August 2............................ August 16 Thursday, August 16.......................... August 30 Thursday, Auguat 30.................... September 13
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Abby Byman, co-president, read for part of the service.
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Joan Davis, outgoing copresident, spoke during the service.
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THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
A gathering of “brave and brilliant” women
By the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science This article is reprinted with permission of Weizmann Views. The Weizmann Institute has long recognized a major problem in science: Women are dramatically underrepresented. And while this is true worldwide, change begins at home, and thus Weizmann has undertaken multiple initiatives to promote women in science. One such program, the National Postdoctoral Award Program for Advancing Women in Science, addresses the area in which there is the single greatest loss of female scientists: the postdoctoral years. Postdoctoral training abroad in the world’s leading universities, laboratories and institutions is a critical phase in every scientist’s career. However, social, cultural and financial pressures mean that investing time and other resources in postdoctoral training is particularly challenging for women. In response, in 2007, the Weizmann Institute initiated the National Postdoctoral Award Program for Advancing Women in Science to encourage gifted Israeli female scientists to enroll in ambitious postdoctoral programs.
This competitive prize supports outstanding female Ph.D. graduates from all Israeli academic institutions of higher learning. It provides an opportunity for talented female scientists to be trained at leading international laboratories. The award, primarily based on academic excellence, is granted to women who have already been accepted for postdoctoral work in prominent laboratories abroad. Weizmann’s Professor Varda Rotter, the current president’s advisor for advancing women in science, is now leading the program. She and several award recipients recently came together with supporters of the program to discuss its real-world impact on the women’s lives. Gathering in the Midtown Manhattan offices of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, the recipients came from as nearby as downtown and as far away as Toronto. Attendees included Dr. Yael Artzy-Randrup, University of Michigan; Dr. Noa Corem (Weinberg), University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorsky, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Shlomit Greenberg, New York University; Dr. Rina Rosenzweig, University of Toronto; Dr. Ruth Scherz-Shouval, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Dr. Maytal Toroker, Princeton University; Dr. Hilla Weidberg, MIT’s Koch
Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Before meeting with Weizmann friends and supporters, the women and Rotter first discussed their research, followed by their experiences. Some of the scientists already knew each other, while others were meeting for the first time; all found common connections. All of the female postdocs present were married, and almost all had multiple children. This means that in order to work abroad, two career paths must be coordinated for each of these women: the scientist’s and her spouse’s. The women spoke of how the award allows them to have balanced lives, and they are able to use it for support services such as childcare. Because most high-ranking institutions are in expensive large cities, the cost of housing, school for the children and even groceries and transportation are all prohibitive on a postdoc’s stipend. The award helps defray such expenses. The award means more than money to both the women and the philanthropists. Besides the economic support, the social, moral and professional boost provided by the award, as well as its increasingly high profile, will help carry the women, and science, forward. Weidberg summed it up well, saying, “The award makes it all happen.”
Elon Gold considers himself “the Jewish Jerry Seinfeld”
Comic provides closed captioning for the “Hebrew-impaired” By Riva Gold Originally published in The Canadian Jewish News It’s rare to find a man that can pull off a Don Juanstein impersonation and convince a woman that her eyes sparkle like a yarzheit candle. For modern Orthodox comedian Elon Gold, it’s just par for the course. Gold, who refers to himself as “the Jewish Jerry Seinfeld,” travels across North America with his unique brand of Semitic comedy. He recently debuted his newest standup act, “Half Jewish, Half Very Jewish,” at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival in July, emphasizing that he was extremely excited to be part of “Jews pour rire.” Gold’s show, which played to sold-out audiences at Centaur Theatre, was the culmination of more than a decade’s work.”A wise friend once told me to joke about what I really care about,” he explains. “And I really, really care about the Jews.” The 90-minute show is laced with hilarious observations about the tradition and surrounding culture. In “Half Jewish, Half Very Jewish,” Gold pokes fun at all things Yehudi, from modern Jewish stereotypes to ancient Passover customs. “As a people, we’re way too mad at bread,” he jokes. “Why do we focus all our anger about slavery in Egypt on the fact that we couldn’t have a sandwich on our way out?” At one point in the show, Gold even brings out a blue-and- white Jewish version of Santa Claus, who instructs his fellow Jews to “be happy,” but not “so happy they forget about the pogroms.” Very Jewish indeed. Gold’s latest act comes with an apt warning that some material “may not be suitable for gentiles,” and he even provides closed captioning for the “Hebrew-impaired.” Most of his material hinges heavily on a certain familiarity with the Jewish tradition. Without it, his impressions of Gilbert Gottfried as Moses or Gene Wilder as Abraham might seem just a little bit out of place. Of course, Gold himself is no stranger to the Jewish tradition. The New York native jokes that he grew up in a family so religious that his grandparents had to keep two toilets: one for milk and one for meat. Today, he describes himself as a “modern Orthodox” Jew, joking that by “modern,” he means “not so.” “I do practice Judaism, though,” says Gold, “because practice makes perfect.” Although he keeps Shabbat and eats kosher, he’s careful about how he describes his religious affiliation. “I like to say I’m observant, not religious, because it takes the pressure off. If you say you’re not religious, but then you keep kosher, people think, ‘What a great guy!’” At the same time, Gold never downplays the important role that
Comedian Elon Gold will perform at the Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton on Sunday, August 5, at 5:30 pm. The cost is $50 or $35 for seniors and students. For more information call 587-3300 or visit www.JewishNEPA.org.
Judaism has played in his life. “I really love the traditions, and often see them as customs. Not to mention, what could be better than Shabbat?” To keep his life in balance, Gold explains that he has a Jewish act and a secular act that he performs depending on the context. In his secular act, Gold describes his shtick as “just a Jew doing comedy,” peppering his routine with political impersonations and curse words. In other routines, Gold’s mother is the only one who curses. “In Half Jewish, I have my mother introduce the show in a surprise recording I got of her. She talks about how I was born with a lot of talent – and extremely wide shoulders,” he says. On the more religious side, Gold is occupied every fall hosting a Chabad telethon in California. “They keep me away from the serious pieces,” he explains. “I do singing, dancing, comedy. Not the real stories of drugs, abuse, homelessness you find throughout the event.” Gold calls “Half Jewish, Half Very Jewish” a unique hybrid of his secular and religious acts, blending cantor impressions with real prank video footage and political commentary. “This was the first time I didn’t have to worry about censoring myself, because I wasn’t working for hire. People could come see me at their own risk.” Gold emphasized how much he loves the Montreal audiences, and has traveled there seven times to perform. He reflects that being on stage in Montreal is “a lot like his bar mitzvah,” only he gets paid less. Gold’s love of standup dates back almost that far, as he was just 16 years old when he got his first standup gig. He continued to perform standup throughout his years at Boston University and was signed to a network television show immediately upon graduation. “I never had to come out to my family that I was a comedian,” he says. “They already knew so early.” Though Gold admits he was never the class clown, he does describe his childhood persona as “the class comedian.” At a young age, he discovered that doing impressions of teachers and celebrities was a great way to get attention. “I noticed that I had a talent for impressions, and people liked me better for it, so I figured I’d stick with it. Let’s
face it – we all just want to be liked.” Gold says that when he saw Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live, he knew once and for all that comedy was for him. Though he hasn’t yet made it to Saturday Night Live, he’s been a successful writer, producer and actor, starring in the television series “Stacked” in 2005. When he’s not performing, 38-year-old Gold still has a lot to juggle. As a father to four young kids, he notes that it can be very challenging to balance his responsibilities, especially since his kids don’t find his jokes remotely funny. “My eldest saw one of my acts, and he just sort of stared at me, and said ‘I don’t get it.’ It was actually kind of a relief,” Gold laughs. “I wouldn’t want my humor to be perfectly suited to an 8-year-old.” As for the future, Gold has his sights on starring in a hit TV show, a movie and taking his latest standup act across the globe. “I really just want to be the poor man’s Jackie Mason,” he says. “I’ll take my show wherever there are Jews who will watch it.”
“Casual Conversations” exhibit at NMAJH
The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia invites visitors to explore questions of identity and heritage through the photographs of Alina and Jeff Bliumis in an exhibit, “Casual Conversations,” which will be open until August 19. The exhibit includes 10 photographs, which were taken between 2007 and 2009 on the boardwalk at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, home to a large Russian Jewish immigrant community. The subjects were asked to pose with signs signifying their identities – “Russian,” “Jewish,” “American” – and given the option to write their own description as well. The exhibit also includes an interactive component that invites visitors to take “identity” photos of themselves as if they were standing on the boardwalk. The photos will be uploaded to the Museum’s Flickr site and shared with the artists. More information about the work of Alina and Jeff Bliumis can be found at bliumis.com. For more information about the museum, visit nmajh.org call 215-923-3811.
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“An American Songbook II” concert held at JFHF
L-r: Cantor Charles Osborne, Leonard Lehrman and Helene Williams performed at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms on June 16.
Shalom TV Live now on Blue Ridge Communications channel 215 FORT LEE, NJ – Shalom TV, America’s Jewish Television Network, launched its new full-time channel on Blue Ridge Communications featuring daily newscasts from Israel and the Shalom TV news desk, latebreaking stories, interviews with leading figures on the world Jewish scene today, children’s programming every morning and afternoon, Jewish studies, live Friday evening services, and original series such as “From Date To Mate” and “Muzika.” “We are thrilled to bring the Shalom TV channel to Blue Ridge serving northeastern Pennsylvania in addition to continuing our long-running video on demand service,” said Mark S. Golub, president and executive producer of Shalom TV. Shalom TV, a mainstream, nonprofit network, features a wide array of Jewish programming that addresses the panorama
of Jewish life. Programs include a “Jewish Film Festival”; exclusive presentations from the 92nd Street Y; news, travelogues and other features about the state of Israel; arts and culture; and meetings with the men and women who are shaping modern Jewish life. On Shalom TV, parents can find Jewish programs for their children; and those interested in Jewish learning can learn to read and understand Hebrew, study a page of Talmud or participate in Friday night services. “Every week, viewers send us letters and e-mails telling us how much they appreciate the unique programming on Shalom TV, and how the channel has changed their lives for the better,” said Golub. “Jewish and nonJewish viewers on Blue Ridge will find our programming truly worth watching.”
By Judy Hamer The concert “An American Songbook II,” featuring Cantor Charles Osborne, guest Helene Williams and pianist Leonard Lehrman, was held on June 16 at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms. All three musicians have performed nationally and internationally: Osborne is an internationally recognized singer, composer and conductor, while husband and wife pair Lehrman and Williams have performed together in 527 concerts across four continents since 1987 and have made 11 recordings. “The combination of these three talented performers made for an unforgettable evening of glorious music,” said organizers of the program. “It was so hard to believe that such talent would come to Hemlock Farms.” Representatives of JFHF called the concert “outstanding, exceptional, heartrender, beautiful and dramatic,” noting the
versatility of all three musicians apparent throughout the performance. “The love of singing, the joy of performing together and their great talent was a winning combination.” The concert ended with a standing ovation. The encore, “You don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore,” resulted in a second standing ovation. The next program in the series, “Men in Concert IV,” will be held at JFHF on Saturday, July 14, at 7:30 pm. The concert will feature Osborne, Steve Utzig, Eric Sparks and Marshall Cooper, who will perform oldies from the 1960s, including songs such as “Help Me Rhonda,” “Happy Together,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Yesterday” and “Brown Eyed Girl.” The performance will be Osborne’s last concert as spiritual leader of the Fellowship, as Osborne has accepted a position in Toronto, Canada, and will be leaving Hemlock Farms. “He will be sorely missed,” noted a JFHF representative.
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jewish community center news Social Adult Club installs officers By Emily Trunzo The Social Adult Club of the Scranton Jewish Community Center held its final program of the year on June 11, during which the officers for the 2012-13 year were installed. Tim Lauffenburger, director of the Jewish Community Center’s adult activities, welcomed all of the seniors. Dan Cardonic, director of the JCC, was present to install the new board members and officers. After the senior lunch and a birthday cake for the April, May and June birthdays, the officers were installed: president – Carole Fishbein; vice presidents – Lee Pachter and Alana Arnovitz; secretary – Morris Mertz, and treasurer – Rose Chaskin. The new directors on the board Dan Cardonick installed Carole will be Katherine Fishbeine as president of the Social Smith, Millie Myers, Adult Club. Harriet Noble, Mike Soulee and Zipi Weinberg. The program ended with a guitar performance by Frank Cervazi, during which many of the seniors danced. The senior lunch program will continue during the summer with lunch on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. There will be several programs held during the summer, including a trip to the Wyoming Valley Day Camp on Monday, July 9. Participants will spend time with the SAC of Wilkes Barre. The program will include a craft activity in the morning, a buffet lunch and a performance by the Israeli Scouts in the afternoon. The cost will be $8 for SAC members, $10 for JCC members or $12 for the general public. The price will include transportation to Harvey’s Lake, as well as lunch and all activity charges. There will be a pet rescue program with Rescue Dogs from the Lord’s Hope Rescue on Monday, July 16. On Wednesday July 18, the film “Footloose” will be presented. There will be another session of “Socrates Café” led by Phil Jenkins, of Marywood, on Monday, July 23. A senior dinner has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 31, sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging and the Nivert Fund. The program for the evening will be Ruth Kaye presenting “We’re Still Here!” For reservations, call 3466595 as soon as possible. Finally, a trip to Shawnee Playhouse has been planned for Wednesday, August 8. The play will be “They’re Playing Our Song.” Dinner will be held at Smugglers Inn, but is not included in the price of the trip. The price for the trip will be $47 for SAC members, $52 for JCC members or $57 for non members.
Celebrating the birthdays were (l-r) Mike Soulee, Pat Gates, Ron Cabets, Marlene Leiber, Katherine Smith, Carole Fishbein, Lorraine Mursch, Sara Morris, Frank Cervazi (behind Morris, mostly obscured), Charlotta Gurevitz, and Cantor Marshall Wolkenstein.
Frank Cervazi played guitar for the attendees.
Compendium, Jewish communities differ significantly from one another. New York differs even more than most. Perhaps the most important lesson to be garnered from our initial exposure to the findings of the New York study is that it will lead to some major changes in the manner in which the UJA-Jewish Federation of New York and the New York Jewish community in general views itself and operates. I have completed more than 40 similar studies
Enjoy an enchanting afternoon of music with
“Susan Spannagel & Friends”
Sunday, July 22, 2012 @ 2:00pm at Congregation B’nai Harim, Pocono Pines, PA Susan Spannagel and her professional friends: Janet Truncali, Gabrielle Truncali, Kimberly Varano, Jon Spannagel, Pete Begley, Hank Schob, Kara Snyder, Teri Ramsour, George Jasko, and special guest Renard Cohen will present an interesting mix of musical instruments using the piano, stick, guitar, cello, keyboard and harp with a variety of musical styles from Broadway, Jazz, Folk, and Opera, which are sure to delight all. Members $ 25.00 Non-Member $ 30.00 Patron (includes One Ticket, Reserved Seat & Special Pre-Concert Brunch at the home of Barbara & Richard Feman 11:30 – 1:30pm) $ 75.00 Brunch Menu: Appetizers, Assorted Smoked Fish, Salads, & Cream Cheeses, Bagels, Bialys, Quiches, Blintzes, Lox, Eggs & Onion Omelets, Scrambled Eggs, French Toast, Waffles, Danish, Dairy Ruggelah, Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, Coffee/Tea.
Please return this form along with your check made payable to Congregation B’nai Harim and mail to Cong. B’nai Harim, P.O. Box 757, Pocono Pines, PA 18350 Attn.: Spannagel Concert. Name Mailing Address Phone #___ Member @ $25.00 TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED $
E-mail #___ Non-Member @ $30.00
Lee Pachter, Lorraine Mursch, Marlene Leiber and Sara Morris danced to the music.
#___Patrons @ $75.00
Continued from page 2 throughout the country and believe that the real lesson is that conducting similar studies in the Houstons, Tucsons and Springfields will result in similar benefits for those communities. Jewish communities do differ. Ira M. Sheskin is a professor in the department of geography and regional studies and the director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami.
Riding across the U.S., Hazon bikers are spokesmen for food justice By Charlotte Anthony and Debra Rubin WASHINGTON (JTA) – Eleven Jews are pedaling – and peddling – their message across the country. Joined by more than three dozen other bicyclists at segments along the way, participants in the Hazon Cross-USA Ride, a 10-week journey across America, are on a multifold mission. They are bringing attention to the environment by powering their own transportation; calling for the government to make healthy food systems a priority by collecting signatures on a petition to be presented to the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture; putting a spotlight on sustainable farming through talks with Jewish community groups; and meeting with farmers to learn first-hand about sustainable agriculture. “This ride combines three of my major passions: Judaism, sustainable food and agriculture/environment, and cycling,” said Adi Segal, 23, of Bergenfield, NJ. “So I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer than to raise money and awareness for this cause and by riding across the country for it.” By the time the cyclists, who began their journey on June 10 in Seattle, arrive in Washington, DC, on August 15, they will have visited 70 Jewish communities and participated in five community service days, including one with Missoula Free Cycle, a Montana group that repairs and donates bicycles. The Hazon ride’s thrust on food systems and sustainable farming is part of a growing Jewish effort to focus on food justice, typically defined, says a Jewish community official, as “sharing our resources in an equitable way, whether in a neighborhood, in a country or globally.” To Nigel Savage, Hazon’s executive director, food justice means not only ensuring that everyone has access to nutritional food. He says it’s also about “health, sustainability, local food, organic food, traditional issues around kashrut.” “We also want to ask what would it look
like if the highest Jewish standards were applied to food systems in North America,” Savage said. Earlier this month, Hazon was among seven national Jewish groups that delivered a petition with nearly 19,000 signatures to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Obama administration demanding a focus on food justice in the farm bill. The U.S. Senate already has passed its version of the bill, but did not include full funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps. Jewish organizations had pressed for funding. The House has yet to vote on its version of the bill, but may make further cuts to SNAP. Timi Gerson, director of advocacy for the American Jewish World Service, one of the seven groups to present the petition, says two external factors are driving the Jewish community’s growing attention to food justice. One is the national food justice movement; the other is the farm bill, which comes up once every five years. The farm bill presents “an opportunity to change it” she said, referring to the nation’s food system. The Jewish community “for both historic and religious reasons has an interest in and ability to contribute to that conversation uniquely.” Jewish tradition, Gerson says, “has something to say and to teach about ethical food practices and systems.” Renna Khuner-Haber, a participant on the Hazon bike ride, also says the system is broken. “I think we need to raise awareness about the actions we can take, and also what we can ask the local, state and federal government to do,” said Khuner-Haber, 26, of Seattle. Participants visited Jubilee Farms in Carnation, WA, on the ride’s first day and had a chance to meet organic farmers. “We learned from them that it is a struggle to use farming practices that are outside of industrial agriculture and that they do it because it is important to do it,” said Rafi Rubin, 30, of Piedmont, CA. The cyclists also harvested artichokes See “Hazon” on page 15
Participants in the Hazon Cross-USA ride biked across Montana in June. (Photo courtesy of Hazon)
Congregation B’nai Harim is looking for a Religious School teacher for the 2012-2013 school year. Religious School classes are held two Saturdays a month. Each session is 3 hours in length and includes Hebrew and Judaic studies. We are a one-room school house with children from age 8 1/2 and up and also have a teacher assistant who works with the beginners. We are a 35 minute drive from Scranton, located on Sullivan Road, off Rte. 940 in Pocono Pines, PA. For additional information, please contact the temple and leave a message at 570-646-0100 or Barbara Kapitansky, Religious School Director at 570-646-4668.
JULY 5, 2012 ■
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
For a National Archives exhibit, Michael Pupa finally reveals his harrowing Holocaust journey
plicated journey via the help of various agencies, By Zach Silberman Michael wound up in the United States. WASHINGTON (JTA) – While preparing for a After settling in Cleveland in late 1951, Pupa was new National Archives exhibit that he is curating, placed in several foster homes; he never discussed his Bruce Bustard showed some documents to his colwartime experiences. “It’s still difficult to talk about league, Miriam Kleiman. She was stunned to see the it. The people that went through the trauma, it’s very name Michael Pupa, father of her friend Jill Pupa, difficult to talk about it,” Pupa, who still lives in the as he had never spoken to his family about his harCleveland area, told JTA. rowing past. The exhibit was created, according to U.S. archivist “I got a phone call from Miriam before Rosh HaDavid Ferriero, because of Bustard’s interest in a colshanah,” Jill Pupa said. “That was really when my lection of documents and photos that were attached father started talking about his story, and it’s incredto immigrants’ forms as they entered the U.S. “As ible that it’s out.” [Bustard] was going through the records, he discovered Michael Pupa’s story of survival and emigration was all of these immigration files that had photographs featured in a June 14 preview of a new National Archives attached to the records,” Ferriero said. “He became exhibit about 20th-century immigrants to America. The very interested in that aspect of documentation, and exhibit, which runs through September 4, features 31 as he started reading more on the case files, it became Holocaust survivor Michael Pupa stood next to his childhood photo immigrants from diverse backgrounds. clear that there was a story to tell.” in the “Attachments” exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, The name for the exhibit, “Attachments: Faces Bustard noted during his remarks that Pupa’s story DC. (Photo by Earl McDonald for the National Archives) and Stories from America’s Gates,” comes from the was “one of the most moving stories in the exhibit.” photos and documents attached to the government When he came to the country, he left his past behind. Pupa He told JTA that “We try very hard to have a diversity of forms needed to enter the United States. At the event, Pupa spoke to the audience about his went on to earn a degree from John Carroll University in Ohio stories in our exhibits. For the most part, we managed to gratitude for how America changed his life. A few steps and own a business. He married and raised two children. But pull that off in the ‘Attachments’ exhibit. Also, the immigration of Eastern European Jews in the early 20th century away from him – and not far from national treasures – was Pupa did not speak about his past, even to his family. As the only living immigrant being highlighted in the and the American response to the Holocaust are both very a picture of him at the time of his entry into the U.S. and “Attachments” exhibit, Pupa has finally started to tell his important topics in American history.” his naturalization forms. Jill Pupa said, “The exhibit as a whole really is about “Everyone expects to see such items and the Declaration story. As a young boy, he hid for two years from the Nathe U.S., and we are all children of immigrants, and that’s zis with his father and uncle in the Polish forests outside of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights what makes our country great. It shows the bigger picture... Manyevitch. His mother and young sister were killed by at the National Archives. I certainly had no idea that these and this is the fabric of the U.S.” personal documents of me... would be out in the National the Nazis, who later captured and killed his father. As to the profound impact of the exhibit on the Pupa famFollowing World War II, he was smuggled back into Archives,” Pupa said at the event. Pupa, who grew up in the Polish town of Manyevitch, Germany to live in four DP camps. Pupa, his uncle Lieb ily, Bustard said he was deeply touched. “I never dreamed escaped from the Nazis into the Polish forests in 1942. After Kaplan and cousin Bronja lived in the camps for six years. in my career that something I would put on display would spending years in displaced persons camps in Germany, he Kaplan put Michael and Bronja in the custody of the United have that effect on somebody,” he said. This article was written in cooperation with the came to the U.S. in 1951 as a 12-year-old orphan to live Nations International Refugee Organization, pushing for their immigration to the U.S. without him. After a com- Washington Jewish Week. with a foster family in the Cleveland area.
Quick Reference Guide to Planned Giving
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Use this planned giving quick reference guide to help determine the best strategy for achieving your philanthropic and financial goals. For more information or to discuss these planned giving options, please contact: Mark Silverberg, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of NEPA, 570-961-2300 (x1) or at email@example.com.
Allison Hollander Aryeh Rosenberg Michael Tischler Leo Aronzon Michal Fink Scott Monsky Steve Herman
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JULY 5, 2012 ■
2012 Annual Meeting “Celebrating Our Partner Agencies”
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
ABINGTON TOR AH CENTER_______________________ Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: www.jewishheritageconnection.org Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week. BETH SHALOM CONGREGATION___________________ Rabbi Yisroel Brotsky 1025 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510, (corner of Vine & Clay Ave.) 570-346-0502 • fax: 570-346-8800 Weekday – Shacharit: Sun 8 am; Mon, Thurs. & Rosh Chodesh, 6:30 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 6:45 am; Sat & Holidays, 8:45 am. Mincha during the week is approx. 10 minutes before sunset, followed by Maariv. BICHOR CHOLEM CONGREGATION/ CHABAD OF THE ABINGTONS_____________________ Rabbi Benny Rapoport President: Richard I. Schwartz 749 Northern Blvd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-587-3300 • Website: www.JewishNEPA.com Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. Call or visit us online for our bi-weekly schedule CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS____________ Rabbi Mendel Bendet 570-420-8655 • Website: www.chabadpoconos.com Please contact us for schedules and locations. CONGREGATION BETH ISR AEL____________________ Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Allan L. Smith President: Henry M. Skier Contact Person: Len London (570) 698-9651 615 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 570-253-2222 • fax: 570-226-1105 CONGREGATION B’NAI HARIM____________________ Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum President: Phyllis Miller P.O. Box 757 Sullivan Rd., Pocono Pines, PA 18350 (located at RT 940 and Pocono Crest Rd at Sullivan Trail 570-646-0100 • Website: www.bnaiharimpoconos.org Shabbat Morning Services, 10 am – noon; every other Saturday Potluck Shabbat Dinner with blessings and program of varying topics, one Friday every month – call for schedule. JEWISH FELLOWSHIP OF HEMLOCK FARMS__________ Cantor Charles Osborne President: Steve Natt Forest Drive 1516 Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA 18428 570-775-7497 • E-Mail: jf firstname.lastname@example.org Friday evening Shabbat service 7:30 pm, Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. MACHZIKEH HADAS SYNAGOGUE__________________ Rabbi Mordechai Fine President: Dr. Shaya Barax 600 Monroe Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 570-342-6271 OHEV ZEDEK CONGREGATION_____________________ Rabbi Mordechai Fine 1432 Mulberry St, Scranton, PA 18510 Contact person: Michael Mellner - 570-343-3183 TEMPLE HESED__________________________________ Union of Reform Judaism Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz Presidents: Eric Weinberg 1 Knox Street, Scranton, PA 18505, (off Lake Scranton Rd.) 570-344-7201 Friday evening Shabbat, 8 pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 11:15 am TEMPLE ISR AEL OF DUNMORE_____________________ President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 570-344-3011 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor TEMPLE ISR AEL OF THE POCONOS_________________ Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Suzanne Tremper Contact person: Art Glantz 570-424-7876 660 Wallace St., Stroudsburg, PA, 18360 (one block off Rte. 191 (5th Street) at Avenue A) 570-421-8781 • Website: www.templeisraelofthepoconos.org E-Mail: email@example.com Friday evening Shabbat, 8pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am TEMPLE ISR AEL OF SCR ANTON____________________ Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Joseph Mendelsohn President: Michael Mardo 918 East Gibson St., Scranton, PA, 18510 (located at the corner of Gibson & Monroe Sts.) 570-342-0350 Fax: 570-342-7250 • E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday, 8 am; Mon & Thurs, 7:15 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 7:25 am; Rosh Hodesh & Chagim weekdays, 7 am; Shabbat Morning Service, 8:45 am; evening services: Sun – Thurs, 5:45 pm; Friday Shabbat and Saturday Havdalah services, call for times.
Balak: what color is your rainbow? by RABBI BARUCH BINYAMIN HAKOHEN MELMAN, TEMPLE ISRAEL OF THE POCONOS Balak, Numbers 22:2-25:9 Bilaam the sorcerer, sent by the Moabite king, Balak, to curse Israel, ascends three hilltops in all, building seven altars on each, seven spiritual vantage points from which to better observe the camp of Israel. After all, a curse must be attached to a kernel of reality so as to be effective, much as a lie always has an element of truth in it so as to be believable. The seven altars by which Bilaam judged Israel as a nation represent the seven ascending heavens before which each of us as individuals must be judged before earning entrance. Each level of heaven corresponds to a color vibration band of the rainbow. The three hilltops represent prophetically the three worlds, which, in Yiddish, have permeated new world Jewish consciousness: dis velt (this world), yennem velt (the other/next world) and roose velt (the world of roses, the universal symbol of love and marriage). Red, the symbolic color of sin, corresponds to the slowest vibration of the spectrum, while violet or purple, the color of the high priest’s garments, corresponds to the highest vibration of the color spectrum. (Roses are reddish, violets are blueish...) This material world in which we live, in contrast to our destiny to inhabit the spiritual world, has the unique quality of allowing all people of whatever vibrational level to interact with one another. One can lower or raise one’s level by raising or lowering one’s thought patterns, which in turn determine one’s behaviors and character. People who live by love, faith, forgiveness and trust vibrate at a much higher frequency than those ruled by fear, hatred, grudges and distrust. Like at a cocktail party, in this world we have the ability to mix and mingle in the same room with others who inhabit a completely different vibrational level of the soul. By contrast, in the other/next, spiritual world (yennem velt), one’s assigned world is inhabited by those at one’s own vibration level exclusively. To merit elevation to the higher ascendant realms, one requires the good deeds, Kaddish prayers and meritorious intentions of those remaining behind in the material world over whom one had prior
influence, such as children and/or students. Failing that, reincarnation, scientifically referred to as metempsychosis, and kabbalistically known as gilgul neshamot, a re-immersion back to the materialistic (gashmiut) war zone, is required to have another opportunity to achieve a precious soul ascent. Good and evil fight over each and every soul, alluring it with endearing blandishments. One chooses each and every day whether to follow the Evil Inclination (yetzer hara) or the Good Inclination (yetzer hatov). Each day and within each day we are creating and recreating our vibration level. Bilaam saw the holy purity and sanctity of the camp of Israel. Indeed, guarding this purity was the key to Israel’s holiness, sanctity and survival. The Midianite women seduced the princes of Israel with their sexually drenched pagan rituals. This was Israel’s Achilles’ heel, so to speak. It was to undermine Israel’s sanctity and raison d’etre, which is to elevate the nations of the world to ever higher spiritual vibration levels. Bilaam from on high witnesses the modesty and purity within the camp of Israel. The privacy of each tent was guarded carefully, as no entrances faced into the entrances of another. Bilaam blesses Israel, “Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkenotecha Yisrael,” “How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, thy dwelling places O Israel.” Indeed, the roshei teyvot, the first letters of each word add up to 110, the years of Joseph’s life. This is an allusion to the holiness and purity of Yosef HaTzaddik, who merited special appellation as the Righteous One by dint of his resistance to the salacious adulterous propositions of Zuleika, wife of Potiphera. We begin each day of prayer with these famous words of Bilaam to remind ourselves that like Bilaam, Israel’s first observer, we too must observe and judge ourselves. Lehitpalel, the word for prayer, literally means to judge oneself, hence assuming the hitpael grammatical form. Bilaam was our first judge in the material realm. We ourselves, as members of the Jewish people who inhabit both the material and spiritual realms simultaneously by dint of our holy connection with the Sabbath Bride, must judge ourselves by both worldly standards as well as by heavSee “Rainbow” on page 15
Friends of The Reporter Dear Friend of The Reporter, Each year at this time the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania calls upon members of our community to assist in defraying the expense of issuing our regional Jewish newspaper, The Reporter. The newspaper is delivered twice of month (except for December and July which are single issue months) to each and every identifiable Jewish home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
columns that cover everything from food to entertainment. The Federation assumes the financial responsibility for funding the enterprise at a cost of $26,400 per year and asks only that we undertake a small letter writing mail campaign to our recipients in the hope of raising $10,000 from our readership to alleviate a share of that responsibility. We would be grateful if you would care enough to take the time to make a donation for our efforts in bringing The Reporter to your door.
As the primary Jewish newspaper of our region, we have tried to produce a quality publication for you that offers our readership something on everythingfrom opinions and columns on controversial issues that affect our people and our times, to publicity for the events of our affiliated agencies and organizations to life cycle events, teen columns, personality profiles, letters to the editor, the Jewish community calendar and other
As always, your comments, opinions and suggestions are always welcome. With best wishes, Mark Silverberg, Executive Director Jewish Federation of NE Pennsylvania 601 Jefferson Avenue Scranton, PA 18510
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Every donation you make changes a life in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the better. Our Annual Campaign Tzedakah box needs your pledge. I If you have not already made your personally meaningful pledge or would like to increase your 2012 pledge, please do so. Call us at 570-961-2300, email us at email@example.com, mail your pledge to the address below or stop in our office at the JCC today!
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THE REPORTER â– july 5, 2012
Smaller congregations experimenting to stay vibrant, gaining attention from movements
strategies for the communities to increase engageBy Yisrael Shapiro ment and facilitate communication between clergy CHICAGO (JTA) â€“ Sinai Synagogue in South Bend, and members. Friedland was one of the organizers of IN, has been struggling with issues facing many small the event, which attracted nearly 50 representatives congregations in an era of dwindling budgets and from 11 states. shifting demographics. In particular, with only 150 â€œApproximately 40 percent of our congregations families, until recently it was increasingly difficult to are what we consider small,â€? said Rabbi Charles find enough people for Shabbat services and Sunday Savenor, director of kehilla enrichment at the United school classes. So Rabbi Michael Friedland found a Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which says it has solution thatâ€™s helping to re-energize the Conservative some 600 congregations in the United States. â€œThis congregation â€“ stop doing whatâ€™s always been done. conference represents us putting more institutional In part, that meant moving weekday afternoon and effort into this area.â€? Sunday Hebrew school classes to Shabbat morning, The Union for Reform Judaism, realizing that nearly with the students and adults brought together for a com400 of its 900 congregations have 250 families or less, munal lunch. Congregants with and without children has started the Small Congregations Network aimed at saw something interesting happening, and participation increasing support to these communities and encouragsoared from about 50 members on a typical Shabbat ing them to communicate among themselves about what morning to 90. Lay leaders and rabbis of small congregations participated in strategies have been helpful. The network has started Friedlandâ€™s is one of numerous approaches that United Synagogue of Conservative Judaismâ€™s Size Matters 2012 to look outside the URJ for effective strategies, taking congregations in small communities are employing to stay relevant and vibrant. Likewise, the initiatives conference in Wilmette, IL, on June 4. (Photo courtesy of USCJ good ideas wherever they can find them. â€œItâ€™s not just information that the Union for Reform are gaining the backing of national congregational Sulamâ€™s Facebook page) arms, which in the past have been accused of having a vative Judaism hosted a conference outside of Chicago Judaism creates and produces,â€? said Merry Lugasyi, the for communal rabbis and lay leaders of congregations networkâ€™s director. â€œWeâ€™re now looking to other resources big-city bias. In fact, in early June the United Synagogue of Conser- with fewer than 250 members. The goal was to provide and whatever information is accessible.â€? Likewise, the Orthodox Union has been running periodic Emerging Jewish Communities Fair since 2006 highlighting various small communities. The fair encourages people to move to the communities by discussing the advantages of being part of a small congregation. Sinaiâ€™s solution was successful because it acknowledged what the Jewish movements and congregations across the Continuing a Sisterhood Rosh Hashana fÂ‚ndraising tÂƒadition starÂ„ed country are starting to realize â€“ that small communities are fundamentally different than large ones. For starters, by Roseann Smith Alperin (O.B.M.), we begin 5773 in her memorÂ™. programs that are the norm in big cities may fail to attract enough attention in a congregation that depends on a much â€˘ Proceeds benefi t Youth Religious Education â€˘ Your Choice higher percentage of participation in order to survive. Only $20 These smaller communities, often covering a relatively Choose one of two gifts, your choiceâ€”only $20 large area, need to experiment with new and exciting ways of engaging their congregations and creating services that â€˘ A giďŹ… bag with a Kosher Challah (plain or raisin), apples, a container of their members look forward to attending. honey, candy, and tÂ&#x;o Yom Tov candles. Ensuring engagement is of paramount importance, but itâ€™s not the only issue. Smaller congregations mean smaller â€˘ A large flowering plantâ€”Mums. Last year the mum were huge and membership fees, and distance from the Jewish commubeautifÂ‚l. This is the ideal giďŹ… for someone who cannot accept outside nal centers means limited resources available. Innovative food items. programs that could breathe new life into dwindling communities may need significant funds to operate, which We are delivering the ÂŠesh Challah giďŹ… bags and the beautifÂ‚l mums on small congregations rarely have. The solution is to rely To order: Make checks payable to Erev Rosh Hashanah: Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. on volunteers. â€œTemple Hesed Sisterhoodâ€?. Congregation Kol Ami in Tampa, FL, for example, DELIVERIES WILL BE MADE TO ANY ADDRESS IN has been using volunteers to draw people to its classes. SpecifÂ™ plain or raisin Torah University, as the Conservative synagogue calls Challah or the flowering mum. SCRANTON OR THE ABINGTONS its innovative program, provides education for adults All Orders Must Be In By Sept. 7, 2012 and children utilizing the rabbi, cantor and members of Mail to: Carol Leventhal, the community. By offering credits for a fake gradua125 Welsh Hill Road, Volunteers Needed! tion, the program employs the academic method in a Clarks Summit, PA 18411. To assemble gift bags at 10:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 at the way that attracts more students than a simple lecture series and has earned national awards for Kol Ami from Leventhal residence located at 125 Welsh Hill Road in Clarks Summit. For more inforÂśation, call Carol the Conservative movement. at 570-587-2931 or email To make deliveries on Sunday morning, Sept. 16, 2012. Savenor says the key to success for programs at smaller jeff@gÂƒaphicsarÂ„.net. congregations is â€œhealthy communication and relationshipsâ€? Call Carol or Jeff at 570-587-2931 to volunteer. between the laypeople and clergy. â€œCommunication and role expectations are especially critical,â€? the rabbi said. Another issue is providing high-quality Jewish education beyond what programs such as Torah University are able to offer. Volunteers may be well-intentioned and enthusiastic, Last Day to Order is 9/7/2012 but often they are not trained educators and smaller communities may not be able to fund full-time staff. To: Challah For Orthodox families, the lack of Jewish day schools Name _______________________________________________ Plain Raisin often is a primary reason why people leave for larger comAddress _____________________________________________ Flowering Mum munities, according to Rabbi Steven Burg, managing direc___________________________ Phone ___________________ tor of the Orthodox Union. â€œIn an Orthodox community, QTY _____$20 Each there arenâ€™t any options except for Jewish day schools,â€? he explained. â€œPeople move away because they donâ€™t have To: a school for their children.â€? Challah The difficulty in finding a Jewish school has an impact Name _______________________________________________ Plain Raisin on hiring clergy in general, as rabbis or cantors seeking a Address _____________________________________________ Flowering Mum strong formal Jewish education for their children may opt to ___________________________ Phone ___________________ QTY _____$20 Each move away from an area by the time their kids enter grade school. â€œRabbis may stay for five to six years, then move on,â€? Burg said. â€œBut while theyâ€™re there, they tend to be To: Challah very dedicated and committed to the community.â€? Name _______________________________________________ Plain Raisin Smaller congregations do have their advantages. With Address _____________________________________________ limited resources, the rabbi may be more involved in the Flowering Mum details of the community, allowing congregants to form ___________________________ Phone ___________________ QTY _____$20 Each a personal relationship that may not be possible in larger cities. Also, with housing, young couples might be attracted Check enclosed, made payable to: Your Information: by the lower prices in smaller cities, Burg said. Temple Hesed Sisterhood Name _______________________________________________ Mail order to: Teaching congregations how to address their challenges while keeping the unique flavor of a small community is Address _____________________________________________ Carol Leventhal vital. â€œA Shabbat education model might help in a large ___________________________ Phone ___________________ 125 Welch Hill Road community, too,â€? Sinai Synagogueâ€™s Friedland said. â€œBut in Clarks Summit PA 18411 Total Order: QTY_____ Dollar Amount _____ (QTY x $20) a small community itâ€™s like the lifeblood. It gets everyone together and you build synergy.â€?
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JULY 5, 2012 ■
Spurred by a Torah portion, Alexis Kashar is breaking down barriers for deaf Jews By Lisa Keys NEW YORK (JTA) – It was an ancient sentence – a fragment, really – that changed everything for Alexis Kashar. An attorney specializing in special education and disability rights, she has successfully argued high-profile litigations, including one against Los Angeles County for not making highway call boxes accessible to people with disabilities. Yet despite her focus on the rights of others, Kashar, 45, has repeatedly encountered a roadblock in her own life: access to the Jewish community. As a deaf Jew, she could not understand religious services or participate in organized Jewish life. An unlikely call to action occurred three years ago as the eldest of her three children – none of whom is deaf or hard of hearing – was about to become a bat mitzvah. Her child’s assigned Torah portion included the verse in Leviticus that reads: “You shall not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind.” Learning that the Torah had something to say about deaf people, she said, was a “wake-up call” to push for unimpeded access to the organized Jewish community. “I wanted a part of it, I wanted my kids to have a part of it,” said Kashar. “If I didn’t have a part of it, my kids wouldn’t, either.” She knew that from experience. Growing up in New York and Texas, Kashar and her family – her parents and grandparents are deaf – had little interaction with the organized Jewish community. Nonetheless, she said they were culturally Jewish. “I consider myself Jewish inside and outside,” she said. “Whatever my parents did, they did something right.” For the past two years, Kashar has been president of the Jewish Deaf Resource Center, an organization that promotes and advocates full inclusion in organized Jewish life of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Working closely with the center’s executive director, Naomi Brunnlehrman, Kashar has spearheaded a variety of programs, including the application of a grant from the UJA-Federation of New York to subsidize interpreters for services and Jewish events. “We’re not just about one interpreter in one temple,” she said about the Hartsdale, NY-based JDRC. “We’re about
degree in finance and a law degree. There she raising the Jewish standards, making the Jewmet her future husband, Gary, who also is a ish community available to anyone.” Speaking lawyer. The couple moved to Los Angeles in of deaf Jews, Kashar said, “We have excluded 1993, where Kashar worked at a private firm a group that is willing and capable. JDRC is that was a “powerhouse” of lawyers for spemaking a bridge to bring the deaf community cial education. It was an exciting time, as the and the Jewish community together.” Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was Brunnlehrman praises Kashar for helping just beginning to make its impact. to expand the organization and for forging “I had the opportunity to test the waters and partnerships with other Jewish organizations, really do the first group of litigations under including Jewish Women International and the ADA,” she said, including successful suits the Jewish Funders Network. “Our vision has against Universal Studios and Weight Watchers widened,” Brunnlehrman said. “Alexis really to make their programs accessible to the deaf believes that when you open the doors for one Alexis Kashar has and hard of hearing. group, you’re opening minds and philosophies, so that we’re welcoming to all people. We’re dedicated herself to When the couple decided it was time to start a trying to change the cultural landscape within activism and pro bono family, Kashar knew she wanted her children to the wider Jewish community. Alexis, in her work on behalf of the have a Jewish education. So they joined a synagogue discussions with people and her partnerships, deaf since moving to and later enrolled their eldest daughter in its presuburban New York in school. Still, she said, the congregation was hesitant has really tried to convey that vision.” Kashar succeed in doing that at her daugh- 2004. (Photo courtesy to accommodate her needs. “I was asking for what ter’s bat mitzvah celebration. Held at Scarsdale of Alexis Kashar) seemed to be the impossible: occasional access to Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El in Scarsdale, synagogue life via sign language interpreters,” she recalled. NY, the service was made accessible for deaf and hard-ofKashar didn’t push back; instead, she agreed to provide some hearing people. It marked the first time that Kashar and her of the funding for an interpreter. The lack of precedent was one extended family prayed under the same roof, and it garnered hurdle.Another was that for her daughter’s sake, she didn’t want her a new perspective on organized Jewish life. to become “that difficult parent.” Still, Kashar added, “with each “It changed the way I thought about social justice,” she child, I became bolder.” (Over time, the synagogue ultimately said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t want me to be a part of the assumed all financial responsibility, she said.) community; it was just a lack of understanding and education. In 2004, the family relocated to Scarsdale, NY, and I didn’t have to go to court. I just had to make the time. I had to since the move Kashar has dedicated herself to activism be the change agent. I was raised with the notion that anything and pro bono work. In addition to her JDRC role, she is is possible. So when presented with a good challenge, I intend the board president at the New York School for the Deaf to take it on, especially when it involves social justice.” and chairs the Public Policy Committee at the National Kashar began her own education at a school for the Association of the Deaf. deaf and transferred to a public school in the first grade. It In May, the JDRC sponsored the first Jewish Deaf and wasn’t until high school that Kashar and her family won Hard-of-HearingAwareness Shabbat, encouraging rabbis of all a battle with the school district to provide an interpreter. denominations nationwide to address inclusion issues in their The experience was transformative: Her educational op- sermons. The event was timed to coincide with the same Torah portunities expanded and Kashar realized she wanted to portion that Kashar’s oldest daughter read at her bat mitzvah make special education law her career. two years ago. “I would not have been involved if the Torah At the University of Texas, she received a bachelor’s portion hadn’t been given to her,” Kashar admitted.
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
Polish authorities unclear if graffiti meant as antisemitic attack
Polish authorities are unclear if graffiti painted on a gallery near Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts not far from an opening of an Israeli photographer’s exhibition was meant as an antisemitic attack. “I Miss You Jew” was painted on a gallery owned by Polish businessman Wojciech Fibak late June 25, according to Ha’aretz. Nearby, an exhibit by Israeli artist Diti Ravner, the wife of Israeli envoy to Poland Zvi Ravner, was held. Ravner’s photos feature Jewish life in Warsaw today. Authorities are investigating the case. Two similar inscriptions were painted on other art-related buildings in the city on the same night, according to the newspaper.
French groups drop suit against Google
French groups have settled a lawsuit accusing Google of violating French anti-racism laws because of a function that they say perpetuated antisemitic stereotypes. Google’s “autocomplete” feature suggests the word “juif” or “Jewish” as a top choice in connection with public figures such as Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp., The New York Times reported. The terms of the settlement came after court-ordered mediation and are confidential, the newspaper reported. Google has not said whether it would change the feature, but said it will work with the suit’s plaintiffs on efforts to combat anti-racism and antisemitism, the paper added. Among the groups suing Google were SOS Racisme and the French Union of Jewish Students. They argued that by using the term juif, Google was furthering ideas about Jewish conspiracies. Google has said the feature’s terms are generated by an automatic algorithm that includes frequency of searches linking items.
specific stream of Judaism and embedded them into synagogues. The emissaries engage Jews of all ages and religious backgrounds, and build deep and lasting ties between Israel and the communities they serve, according to the Jewish Agency. “American Jewish life lives in the synagogue more than anywhere else, and the vast majority of American Jews relate to their Jewish identity in a primarily religious way,” said Anton Goodman, the community emissary, or shaliach, for Greater Washington in a statement. Goodman said the new model will benefit Israelis and Americans. “This new model will not only enable American Jews to connect with Israelis who share many of their Jewish values, it will also empower Israelis with a better understanding of American Judaism and inspire them to impact Israeli Jewish life on their return,” he said. The total delegation will now consist of 240 emissaries, including the 10 additional pre-IDF Young Shlichim, 10 additional campus emissaries, called Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel, and seven emissaries serving the congregations in New York, San Antonio and Washington. Barry Spielman, the Jewish Agency’s director of communications for North America, added that the increased use of shlichim is a critical part of the agency’s focus on reconnecting North American Jews to the global Jewish family and to Israel by “bringing Jews to Israel and Israel to Jews. We know that real human-to-human connections work,” Spielman said. “When Jews start to feel a deeper connection to Israel, its
people and its land, they begin to also identify more strongly with the Jewish people as a whole.”
NYC Modern Orthodox institutions to celebrate Siyum HaShas
Modern Orthodox synagogues, yeshivas and institutions in New York City will gather to celebrate the Siyum HaShas. The evening of Torah study and communal celebration is scheduled for Aug. 6 at Congregation Shearith Israel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Shearith Israel, with Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Lincoln Square Synagogue, among others, is co-sponsoring the event, which is said to be the first time that the city’s Modern Orthodox community has united to celebrate the siyum. The siyum marking the culmination of the seven and a half year cycle of page-aday study known as Daf Yomi will come five days after the largest gathering for the Siyum HaShas, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The event at Shearith Israel will feature addresses by rabbis and scholars on topics relating to Daf Yomi. Scheduled speakers include Rabbi Adam Mintz, Chaim Saiman, Rabbi Dov Linzer and Elana Stein Hain. Linzer told JTA that the event is an opportunity for many institutions from the Modern Orthodox community to come together. “I really felt that there are too many things that divide us... and I felt that we could all unite around the importance of Torah and Torah learning,” Linzer said.
Jewish Agency emissaries to serve in American synagogues
Emissaries for the Jewish Agency for Israel will directly serve synagogues in three U.S. cities in order to cultivate Jewish identity and to bolster ties between Israel and the Diaspora. The Jewish Agency for Israel’s shlichim initiative is expanding to synagogues in New York City, Greater Washington and San Antonio, TX, the agency said recently. Each year, dozens of emissaries travel across North America to Jewish Federations, school campuses, Jewish community centers and summer camps. This is the first time that the Jewish Agency has recruited Israelis who identify with a
ÊVisit the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania on the web at www.jewishnepa.org or on Facebook
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
Summertime and the reading is easy By Rabbi Rachel Esserman Ah, summer: time to kick back and relax. And yes, of course, read. The song that keeps going through my mind is George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” whose soothing melody makes me want to sit on my front porch and just watch the world go by. Of course, even when enjoying the sun and blue sky, it’s not unusual for me to be itching to open up a book. There have been so many novels published recently featuring Jewish characters or plots, that it’s hard to keep up. So even in the season when “the living is easy,” there’s more than enough reading to keep me busy. “The Little Russian” Berta Lorkis is materialistic, self-centered and egotistical. While not someone you’d want to be your best friend, she makes for a fascinating main character in Susan Sherman’s first novel “The Little Russian” (Counterpoint). The early 1900s are a dangerous time to be Jewish in Russia. Pogroms threaten Jewish villages and no one of any age is safe. Yet, Berta focuses instead on her personal plight, longing for the years she spent in Moscow with rich relatives and refusing to settle into her small town life as the daughter of the local grocer. When Herschel Alshonsky, rumored to be a rich merchant, comes to town, the unexpected happens: Berta falls in love. Yet, Herschel has a secret life: He is a member of the Bund, a group supplying guns to Jewish villagers so they can protect themselves. His activities will have a profound impact on their lives. Covering more than 20 years, “The Little Russian” focuses on the changes and difficulties Russian Jews faced in the early years of the 20th century, including World War I and the Russian Revolution. It features slices of Russian Jewish life and customs that were unfamiliar, including the notion of the house Jew, who acted as a buying agent for rich Russians. The section taking place during the revolution was particularly exciting and scary, making me extremely grateful that my relatives had already left Russia.
“The Little Russian” is a good, solid historical novel. Sherman does a wonderful job showing Berta’s many layered personality: Sometimes I wanted to shake her for being so self-absorbed, while other times her determination and dedication were inspiring. This is a good choice for book clubs since readers’ feelings about Berta – whether they love her or despise her – should generate a good discussion. “The Stranger Within Sarah Stein” What happens when a perfect life is shattered by divorce? That’s the question facing 12-year-old Sarah Stein in Thane Rosenbaum’s new novel “The Stranger Within Sarah Stein” (Texas Tech University Press). Sarah was perfectly content with her life in TriBeCa, even though she knew her chocolate-maker mom and her artist father weren’t always getting along. When her mother moves, Sarah is forced to divide her time between her two parents. She soon develops a split identity, behaving differently depending on whom she’s spent the night with. Soon a disturbing thought crosses her mind: Does a real Sarah even exist anymore? The beginning of an answer comes when she is befriended by a homeless man, who has a magical way of being wherever she needs him. Yet, this mysterious stranger also has his own agenda. Although aimed at the young adult audience, Rosenbaum’s novel also provides food for thought for adults. The supernatural elements are so smoothly integrated with the larger, very realistic story that I easily accepted them as factual. Parents will want to share this with their teenagers for what could be some very interesting conversations. “Interview With a Jewish Vampire” I’m not a big fan of vampire novels. Yes, they’re really popular now, but I just don’t get the appeal. However, the publicity material I received for Erica Manfred’s “Interview With a Jewish Vampire” (Fredonia Communications) made me laugh so hard, I couldn’t resist asking for a review
copy. The main character is zaftig 40-something divorced Rhoda Ginsburg, who meets Sheldon, a handsome and sexy Chasidic vampire, through JDate. She figures that even though he’s one of the undead, he’s Jewish. Sheldon was turned into a vampire by the original Dracula, an antisemite who thought changing an observant Jew (who is forbidden to eat blood) into a blood-sucking vampire a great joke. Rhoda does have more to worry about than whether or not she and Sheldon are a match made in heaven (if that’s an appropriate phrase for a romance including a vampire). She’s extremely anxious about her elderly mother, who needs another operation. There might be a way round the surgery, though: If Sheldon turns her mother into a vampire, then she could live forever. Of course, things don’t go quite as smoothly as expected and the two lovers must deal not only with Miami’s wild nightlife, but rogue vampires. See “Reading” on page 16
Continued from page 1 administration adviser Dennis Ross, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair and Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar? Where else can you go from a session in which Cisco Chairman John Chambers talks about the future of data on the Internet to a talk by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton University psychologist, about the inherent advantage hawks have over doves in political arguments? Or from a discourse by Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, about the need for Israel to earn the conditional love of American Jews, to one in which Dr. Ruth offers tips about female orgasms? The Israeli Presidential Conference is deliberately eclectic, while the Jewish world’s other major annual gatherings are focused. The biggest Jewish conference of the year – the springtime gathering in Washington of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which for two years running has drawn more than 10,000 people – is about U.S.-Israel politics. The annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which a decade ago drew crowds similar to AIPAC at the time – about 3,000 to 4,000 – is mostly about Jewish communal business and hasn’t grown in 10 years. The Reform movement’s biennial (6,000 attendees this year) and the annual Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim conference (4,000 attendees) are limited to specific religious denominations. The Presidential Conference was about a lot of different things, with a heavy dose of politics and technology. “I think it’s great to be at a conference that’s a crossroads of significant policymaking Jews from around the world with different political, religious and cultural backgrounds,” said Steven M. Cohen, director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University’s Wagner School. The conference is also unusual for Israel. Most presenters spoke in English, even the Israelis, and there were more suits and ties than some Israelis see in a lifetime. Every time Peres entered a room, he was given a rousing ovation. On opening night, Peres bestowed Israel’s first-ever presidential medal on Kissinger, calling him a “brother” and hailing “the tremendous effort you made to help us on every occasion as a great statesman and as a great Jew.” No mention was made of the revelation two years ago on then-released Nixon tapes on which Kissinger could be heard telling the U.S. president in 1973 that it was not a U.S. concern if the Soviet Union decided to put the Jews in gas chambers. Kissinger later apologized for the remark. One notable absence from the conference was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who canceled his appearance due to a leg injury suffered during a soccer game a few days earlier.
JULY 5, 2012 ■
Bangladeshi pro-Israel journalist pushes on amid charges of fraud By Larry Luxner DHAKA, Bangladesh (JTA) – Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury sat at the café of the five-star Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in downtown Dhaka – capital of the third-largest Muslim nation on Earth – stridently proclaiming his love for Israel and the Jewish people. “I am a Zionist and a friend of Israel,” he told JTA in a voice loud enough to be heard by hotel guests and local businessmen sipping their afternoon tea at nearby tables. But nobody paid any attention. That in itself, said Choudhury, represented enormous progress in the impoverished People’s Republic of Bangladesh. “Before 2003, you could not utter the word Israel in this country,” the devout Muslim said during a lengthy interview. “Now we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and all the Jewish community in Dhaka participates. Even in some Bangladeshi media, they now allow positive articles on Israel. And I am more vocal than ever before.” Choudhury, 46, is publisher of the English-language weekly Blitz – one of hundreds of newspapers in this overcrowded, predominantly Muslim nation of 160 million. He’s also a fraud, according to some Jews in the United States and Israel who once supported him. On November 29, 2003, half a year after he began publishing his anti-jihadist tabloid, the media mogul and father of two was arrested at Dhaka’s Shahjalal International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Bangkok with connections to Tel Aviv.
Continued from page 10
enly standards, much as Israel, among the unholy nations of the world, finds herself unfairly judged by a perpetual seemingly unfair double standard. Finally we are all to be judged by the Supreme Judge of all the worlds. Black is the color that absorbs all colors, all vibrations along the color spectrum. This world is the world that challenges us to rise above the blandishments of negative thinking, of selfish thinking, of ego driven thinking. When we project to the universe our ego driven thoughts we invite a world of ego and selfishness in return. It is a black/Balak world indeed! As we are self-centered, we expect self-centeredness in others. We are wary of others at every turn. But when we project and affirm to the universe a devotion to God and a commitment to helping others, we invite in return an ocean of love and a sea abundant in riches. The rainbow in the sky is a reminder of the seven levels of heaven. The choices we make on how we live here on earth determine which color we will inherit in the end. We may not have a choice in the color of our hair, skin or eyes, but we indeed choose the color of our fate.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury holds the Englishlanguage weekly Blitz. (Photo by Larry Luxner) “I was tortured with electric shocks. They put nails in my ear. They broke my kneecap with a hockey stick. I was interrogated for 15 days and not allowed to bathe,” he said. “They told me, ‘confess you’re a Zionist spy. Otherwise, why do you support Judaism?’ I said that I’m a good Muslim, and a good Muslim must trust the Jews and Christians. And I’m proud of that.” On January 24, 2004, barely two months after his initial arrest, Choudhury was charged with sedition, treason and blasphemy. Eventually the sedition charge was dropped and he was freed on bail in April 2005. His office was later firebombed, he was beaten by mobs and at one point briefly kidnapped by members of Bangladesh’s feared Rapid Action Battalion. Richard Belkin, a Chicago doctor and Jewish activist, heard about Choudhury’s plight and petitioned U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to intervene on the journalist’s behalf. In February 2007, a resolution co-sponsored by Kirk and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) demanding that Bangladesh drop
all remaining charges against Choudhury passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 409-1. The unlikely pro-Israel crusader quickly became the darling of the literary world. Brenda West, writing in the online New English Review, noted that “many newspapers and institutions sang his praises with weekly articles. The Wall Street Journal carried admiring articles about him, as did many other newspapers, and bloggers flooded the Internet with their awe-stricken appreciation of what looked like Choudhury’s dedication to Western humanistic principles.” Yet soon after his release on bail, allegations began surfacing that Choudhury was a ruthless con artist with a criminal past – and a pseudo-journalist guilty of plagiarism who had strong Islamist connections before he inexplicably became an anti-Islamist. Some have even suggested that Choudhury may be an agent posing as a friend of the Jews in order to raise money for Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Belkin, who runs a website that exposes alleged Muslim ethnic cleansing of minority Hindus in Bangladesh, has not spoken to Choudhury in several years. Asked why by JTA, he declined to explain. Nevertheless, Belkin expressed nothing but admiration for the man he helped rescue. “While Shoaib and I are no longer working together, nor have we been in contact for some time, he retains a place in my heart for his personal courage and for the ground he broke,” Belkin told JTA in an e-mail from Chicago. “Shoaib and I have taken separate paths since our struggles with Islamists and their water carriers, but those efforts revealed a man who willingly put himself in danger for a principle.” Other Jews who had stood up for Choudhury are less kind. In March 2011, Aryeh Yosef Gallin, founder and president of the Root and Branch Association – a nonprofit See “Journalist” on page 16
Continued from page 7 – and were allowed to keep some. “We actually went out and picked our own sustenance,” Rubin said. “It made me feel very connected to the source; it was very different than going to the store and buying an artichoke.” Segal says one of the interesting aspects of the ride is the opportunity to meet people across the nation. “People are blown away that we are doing this, and it provides a great platform to teach about the goals of this trip, the mission of Hazon and the greater sustainable food movement,” Segal said. For Jeremy Brochin, 65, one of the best parts of the ride is the “greast sense of community.” “It’s lovely to be part of a multigenerational community where everybody pitches in, and so whether you are 50 or 20 it doesn’t make any difference,” said the Philadelphian, who is participating on the trip’s first five weeks.
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
Retrospective features 60 years of Mad magazine
By Dan Pine SAN FRANCISCO (j weekly) – For a gap-toothed, dim-witted dork, Alfred E. Neuman sure influenced a lot of people. Everyone from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening to film critic Roger Ebert credit Mad magazine with having a tremendous impact on their careers. Monty Python member Terry Gilliam called the irreverent monthly “the Bible for me and my whole generation.” Mad is turning 60 this year, and San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum is paying homage with a retrospective. On display through mid-September, the exhibit features scores of original sketches, cartoon panels and magazine cover art (the covers all feature Alfred the Great himself). Taking a look at the names of the artists and writers who put the magazine together, one can’t help but notice that most of the Mad brain trust was Jewish. The “usual gang of idiots,” as the magazine referred to them, included founder Harvey Kurtzman, editor Al Feldstein, artists Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee and Dave Berg, and writers Larry Siegel and Lou Silverstone. These guys lampooned pop culture, politics and anything that looked like the conventional wisdom of the times. Long before Bart Simpson started corrupting the youth of America, “Spy vs. Spy” and “The Lighter Side of...” were getting the job done. “It felt naughty,” said Michael Capozzola, who is Jewish and a member of the Cartoon Art Museum advisory board. “It had this degree of wolfishness and was very of the moment.” It all started for the 40-something Capozzola on a family vacation to Mystic, CT, when he was a mere lad. He saw for sale a copy of Mad with a Star Trek parody on the cover. “My mom snatched it from me,” he recalls, “and she said, ‘Oh, no, no, no!’” His fledgling passion for Mad increased when a neighbor down the street threw out what Capozzola calls “a metric
ton” of back issues to punish his wayward son. That kid’s loss was Capozzola’s gain. He took home the discarded magazines and was hooked. Today, Capozzola’s day job is doing standup comedy. One of the brightest feathers in his cap, however, is his writing credit in a 2005 issue of Mad for a piece titled “Yoga for Smokers.” Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago says he put the exhibit together thanks to loans from avid collectors. Most of the vintage drawings were sold off by the late Mad publisher William Gaines, who retained ownership. “We’ve done other Mad shows,” Farago said, “but nothing this comprehensive.” As for Mad’s Jewish backstory, Farago couples it with the bigger story of comics in America. “If you remove the Jewish creators from the American comic book industry, it doesn’t exist,” he says. “The language in Mad often had Yiddish.” That showed up in the occasional Yiddishism – from “shmuck” to “shmendrik” – that slipped in between the lines. Contemporary comic book artist Al Gordon took in the exhibit recently, admiring various panels and expressing his indebtedness to Mad. He’s still reading the magazine, though it has gone from a monthly to bimonthly and now accepts ads. “I’m a total pervert because of Mad,” Gordon says. “From issue one, it’s not just funny, it’s sick. It was the stuff you laughed at as a kid and the stuff your mom laughed at when you walked away.” Gordon is the son of a Jewish immigrant who stowed away on a boat sailing to New York a century ago. He grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home, but like many first-generation Americans, he turned his back on the shtetl world of his parents and embraced American culture. That included comics and Mad magazine.
“Mort Drucker is the best caricaturist who ever lived,” he proclaims of the Mad artist who mocked the television shows of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Jack Davis was the greatest inker who ever lived.” Most of Mad’s old guard has died, with the exception of Jaffee, the Lithuanian Jewish genius who created the back-page fold-in cartoons. At 91, he’s still on the job after 57 years. “Serious people my age are dead,” he once quipped. For the unserious, the Mad exhibit will be up on the walls of the Cartoon Art Museum until the end of summer. Says Farago, “I’ve worked on 100 shows, but this might be my best one. It’s a real labor of love.”
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Although “Interview With a Jewish Vampire” doesn’t qualify as a great literary novel, lovers of chick lit and vampire tales should find it a winning combination. Manfred’s writing is so exuberant, it will make readers excuse any faults in prose and plotting (although it could have used a good editor, if only to correct the numerous misplacements of quotation marks). This is a great book for the beach or the front porch. “The Fallback Plan” Moving back in with your parents is no college student’s dream. Yet, with the economy in bad shape, more 20-somethings are living with their folks after they finish school. Sometimes not finding a job is just the luck of the draw. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Esther Kohler, the narrator of “The Fallback Plan” (Melville House). In her senior year as a theater major, she... well, to explain would give away important plot revelations. Let’s just say Esther doesn’t always use her best judgment when making decisions. That might also explain her physical and emotional attraction to a violent idiot (I used another word in my notes that can’t be printed here), who is also antisemitic. Because she has no job prospects, Esther’s parents convince her to babysit a 4-year-old whose mother is an artist. Esther becomes a little too involved in the family’s life, although doing so helps her realize what it really means to be an adult. Stein’s funny prose saves Esther from being a pathetic whiner. The novel’s opening paragraphs are absolutely wonderful and its self-deprecating tone kept me turning pages even when Esther’s erratic behavior sometimes irritated me. Even more surprising is that, by the end of this short work, I was rooting for Esther to take her next step.
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group that promotes cooperation between Israel and other nations – expelled Choudhury from its Islam-Israel Fellowship after reports surfaced that the Bangladeshi had bilked “emotionally vulnerable single Jewish ladies” out of tens of thousands of dollars. West, a self-described “Jewish woman and patriotic American who became very involved in counter-jihad work after 9/11,” told JTA that “subsequent research, easily available to anyone who bothered to do a little bit of reading, showed that he was a total fraud with criminal ties. He had swindled not just two ardent Jewish supporters, but everyone in the Zionist and counter-jihad movement who believed in him.” Some claims that Choudhury made in the interview did appear to be farfetched. For example, he insisted that his country has at least 5,000 Jews. Nearly all references speak of a Jewish community numbering no more than a few hundred. Choudhury also said, “You can now find Torahs in every bookstore in Bangladesh,” and that the 2,200-square-foot building facing Purana Paltan Street that supposedly housed Dhaka’s only synagogue sits on land now worth $10 million. A plaque on the aging structure clearly identifies it as a Masonic lodge built in 1910. Nowhere are Hebrew inscriptions, Stars of David or anything remotely Jewish visible from either the outside or inside. Choudhury prints 25,000 copies of the weekly Blitz; it sells for 5 taka, the equivalent of 7 U.S. cents. He boasted that his newspaper – he says it’s “the most influential in the Muslim world” – was the first in Bangladesh to write about Islamic nongovernmental organizations operating in the country under the patronage of al-Qaida. “Not a single article of ours has ever been protested by the government,” he said. “This means we have total credibility.” Despite Choudhury’s insistence that his detractors’ accusations are all false, it does not appear that his legal troubles will disappear soon. He is still facing blasphemy and treason claims. “The court continues to postpone my trial, so I have to go to court every month, then they give me a new date,” he said. “They don’t have any evidence, so they can’t continue the trial. But they won’t drop the charges either because the government fears that would annoy the Islamists and antisemites in this country.”
JULY 5, 2012 ■
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
Jewish Federation of NEPA
Jewish Film Library
The Jewish Film Library Update - Check out new titles in both feature & non-feature films. Contact Dassy Ganz firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Feature Films Currently Available- SEptember 2011 A Stranger Among Us - A New York policewoman enters the Hasidic community to investigate a diamond robbery/murder. Cast a Giant Shadow - U.S. Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus goes to 1940’s Israel to help re organize its army. Defiance - The extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters against the Nazi regime 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. And getting this tenderfoot to Frisco in one piece will cause a heap of trouble - with the law, Native Americans and a bunch of killers. Gentleman’s Agreement - A magazine writer (played by Gregory Peck) posed as a Jew to expose anti-Semitism in 1940’s America. Good - Featured at the 2009 Jewish Film Festival of NEPA In an attempt to establish its credibility, the new Nazi government is seeking out experts to endorse its policies, and they trip across Johnnie Halder’s (Viggo Mortensen) sensitively written 1920s novel of a husband who aids his terminally ill wife in an assisted suicide. Although Johnnie despises Naziism he is flattered by the attention paid to his novel, and accepts (with misgivings) an honorary commission in the SS. This opens the door to promotions at the University. He becomes Dean of Literature after the former Dean, Herr Mandelbaum “leaves in such a hurry.” He is tapped to inspect facilities for the care of the mentally ill, based on his “humanitarian” writings. Throughout “Good”, Johnnie is “good,” but he becomes increasingly blind to what is happening around him as he travels down the slippery slope that eventually takes him to Auschwitz on an inspecton tour. Never evil, Johnnie Halder is an Everyman who goes along, accepts what he told without question, and is increasingly co-opted by flattery and comfort. In the end, he comes to realize that he is stumbling through a waking nightmare of which he in part created. Not judgmental of its protagonist, GOOD invites us to question just what a “good” man is and does and where the bounds of responsibility lie. Kazablan*- Israel’s all-time Great Musical, nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. This 1970’s mega-hit is Israel’s answer to the musical West Side Story, with its story of star-crossed lovers, street gangs and cultural differences. With its exhilarating music and choreography, Kazablan is sure to entertain. Lies My Father Told Me - The heart-warming story of the Jewish immigrant community of 1920’s Montreal. David, the grandson, lives with his parents, his grandfather Zaida and Zaida’s aging horse Ferdeleh. 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. Schindler’s List*-The Academy Award winning film by Steven Spielberg tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, the man responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. School Ties - A young man from the wrong side of the tracks gets a football scholarship to a private school, which will lead to his entrance to Harvard. He is well accepted at the blue blood school until it is revealed that he is Jewish. 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 want ones last chance at redemption. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz -*A Jewish teenager is determined to “make it” no matter what it takes. On his path to success he faces anti-Semitism, betrays family and friends, and faces the responsibilities of being an adult. 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 Impossible Spy*- Elie Cohen was a family man leading a quiet, normal life, when at the age of 35, he was recruited by Israel’s secret service (Mossad) and assigned a mission that would forever change his life, and the history of Israel. Today he is regarded as a legend and a national hero. The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob -*In this French comedy, Louis de Funes stars as Victor Pivert, a hopelessly bigoted man. Victor loves people, as long as they’re Caucasian, French, and Catholic. But when it comes to foreigners, Victor draws the line. His ultimate nightmare becomes a reality the day of his daughter’s wedding, when he stumbles across a group of Arab revolutionaries and is forced into hiding as a rabbi. Gerard Oury’s film features an onslaught of hilarious chase sequences. Ushpizin- A fable set in the orthodox Jewish world in Jerusalem, Ushpizin tells the story of a poor childless couple, Moshe and Malli (played to perfection by award winning actor Shuli Rand and his real-life wife, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand) 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.
Non-Feature Films Blessed is the Match*- In 1944, 22-year old Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II. Told through Hannah’s letters, diaries and poems, her mother’s memoirs and the recollections of those who knew and loved her, the film traces her life from her childhood in Budapest to her time in British-controlled Palestine, to her daring mission to rescue Jews in her native Hungary. Budapest to Gettysburg*- 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 - Constantine’s Sword is an astonishing exploration of the dark side of Christianity, following acclaimed author and former priest James Carrol on a journey of remembrance and reckoning. Warning of what happens when military power and religious fervor are joined, this new film from Oscar-nominated director Oren Jacoby asks: Is the fanaticism that threatens the world today fueled by our own deeply held beliefs? 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 1,00 Nazi war criminals and spent six decades fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people. Into the Arms of Strangers - A superb documentary that chronicles the Kindertransport, an extraordinary rescue operation to save the youngest victims of Nazi terror. Making Trouble - A just released documentary telling the story of six of the greatest female Jewish comics entertainers of the last century- Molly Picon, Fanny Brice Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein. Night and Fog - One of first cinematic reflections on the horrors of the Holocaust, Night and Fog, filmmaker Alain Renais investigates the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man and presents the unsettling suggestion that such horror could come again. Steal a Pencil for Me*- 1943: Holland is under Total Nazi occupation. After deportation Jack his wife and his new love find themselves living in the same barracks in a concentration camp. This documentary chronicles the secret love letters written by Jack and Ina which gives them the strength to survive the war. 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. Featured commentators include: Ehud Barak, Caroline Glick, Dore Gold, Tzipi Livni and Natan Sharansky. The Jewish Americans - A Series by David Grubin*- This series traces 350 years of Jewish American history from the arrival of the first Jews in 1654 up to the present day. 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. An extraordinary ball player notorious for his hours of daily practice, Greenberg’s career was an inspiration to all and captured the headlines and the admiration of sportswriters and fans alike. This is the story of how he became an American hero. With All Your Heart- (Hebrew with English subtitles)The poignant true story of the life of Leut. Roi Klein, who gave up his life to save his battalion during the Lebanon War of 2002.
*Films marked with an * are newly acquired by the Film Library.
Exhibit about NYC
The Center for Jewish History in Manhattan is hosting the exhibit “New York City and the Jews” until August 31. The exhibit explores the different identities of New York Jews from 1700-2012 by examining the spaces that they have created for themselves. It seeks to show how Jews have shaped New York City and how the city molded the Jews. For more information, visit http://cjh.org/nyc/#Overview or call 212-294-8301
Kosher cooking magazine
Bitayavon is a bi-monthly magazine featuring kosher recipes, tips and articles related to the kosher lifestyle. To learn more, purchase a sample issue or order a subscription, visit www.bitayavon.com.
Exhibit on documentary films
The exhibit “Filming the Camps: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens: From Hollywood to Nuremberg” will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust until October 14. The work of Hollywood directors John Ford, George Stevens and Samuel Fuller is featured. Their documentation provides a visual record of World War II. “Filming the Camps” presents footage of the liberation of Dachau with directors’ notes, narratives describing burials at Falkenau and the documentary produced as evidence at the Nuremberg trials, among other historic material. Ths is the first time the material is being made available to a general audience in the United States. For more information, contact the museum at 646-4374202 email@example.com or visit www.mjhnyc.org.
Vuillard exhibit at Jewish Museum
The exhibit “Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940” will be at the Jewish Museum in New York City until September 23. It offers a view of Edouard Vuillard’s entire career, from the vanguard 1890s to the urbane domesticity of the lesser-known late portraits. The presentation, which features almost 50 works, focuses on the context of inspiration provided by those friends and patrons whose support is inseparable from the artist’s achievement. For more information, visit www.thejewishmuseum. org or contact the museum at 212-423-3200 or info@ thejm.org.
The Blavatnik Archive Foundation, www.blavatnikarchive.org, seeks to preserve and share memories of 19th and 20th century Jewish history through its private collection of postcards, documents, photographs and oral testimonies. Subject categories include Jewish daily life, religious life, culture, personalities, major events, World War II, the Holocaust and antisemitism. To share stories and comments or for research queries and exhibit loan information, contact the Foundation at 730 5th Ave., Suite 1906, New York, NY 10019; jchervinsky@ accind.com or 646-861-7635.
Jewish Heritage Europe
The Jewish Heritage Europe website, www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu, seeks to facilitate communication about projects, initiatives and other developments concerning Jewish heritage and Jewish heritage sites, including restoration, funding, ongoing projects, best-practices, advisory services and more. It also features recent news, publications and conference information related to Jewish Europe.
JULY 5, 2012 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
Syrian minister: Thought downed Turkish plane was Israeli
Syria shot down a Turkish plane believing it was an Israeli plane, a Syrian government minister said. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi told a Turkish news channel on June 27 that the confusion stemmed from the fact that both Israeli and Turkish fighter planes largely are American-made. The plane was downed the week of June 19; a second Turkish plane was downed several days later on June 22. “As you know there is a country called Israel there and as you know this Zionism country’s planes are very similar and because they both are from the same factory, from the U.S., maybe Syria thought it was an Israeli plane,” Zoebi told the Turkish A Haber channel on June 27, according to the Associated Press. He said his government did not want to spark a crisis with Syria. Turkey said its entrance into Syrian air space was an error and apologized, CNN reported.
Jewish groups react to Supreme Court ruling on health care law
The U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts voting in the majority. The Court upheld the most controversial provision of the law that required all American citizens to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty. The court struck a provision that forced states to expand their Medicaid programs in order to cover health insurance for poverty-stricken individuals. Jewish organizations generally praised the decision, while the Republican Jewish Coalition said it was “deeply disappointed.” Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he was “elated” with the ruling. Reform congregations, he said, have been “at the forefront of advocacy on behalf of health insurance reform in their states and at the national level.” He cited Maimonides, noting that the medieval scholar “placed health care first on his list of the 10 most important communal services that a city should offer its residents.” Hadassah said the ruling was “affirming our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality affordable health care.” The women’s group had signed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act. The ruling was a “huge victory for women and families across the country,” National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman said in a statement. “The court’s ruling means insurance companies may not charge women higher premiums than men,” she said in her statement. “It means a wide range of preventive services important to women will be provided without co-pays or other out-of-pocket expenses, including mammograms, Pap tests, a wide range of prenatal screenings, well-woman visits, the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives, lactation consultations and supplies, and domestic violence screenings.” National Democratic Jewish Council President and CEO David Harris and Chairman Marc Stanley released a joint statement saying the group was “deeply gratified by today’s ruling. We are thankful that the Court affirmed the core constitutionality of this landmark legislation that will bring health care to tens of millions more Americans,” they wrote. In a statement praising the ruling, Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, offered a personal remembrance of when he was a child and his father lost his job, “and my family was afraid we might not be able to afford health insurance.” “Today’s ruling means that millions of families will never again have to endure this kind of fear,” van Capelle wrote. Rabbis for Human Rights-North America also applauded the decision in a statement, emphasizing that “it is our moral duty to provide health care for all. We are proud that the United States has taken a major step toward guaranteeing health care for all,” RHR-NA said in its statement. “We applaud President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the Supreme Court for moving us significantly closer to this ideal of guaranteeing health care for all Americans.” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks in offering his disappointment on the ruling said in a statement, “The serious negative effects this law will have on the economy, on jobs, on medical research and development, and on the quality of health care in America are very troubling.”
German foreign minister joins call for Olympics tribute to Munich 11
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has joined the effort to urge the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at the London Olympics for the Munich 11. Westerwelle joins Canada’s House of Commons, 100 Australian lawmakers and the U.S. Senate in the call to remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed at the Munich Games in 1972 by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. Westerwelle sent a letter on June 26 to the IOC President Jacques Rogge urging him to reconsider his objection to a minute of silence. “This tragic terrorist attack in my country was directed not only at the Israeli Olympic team. It was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic idea of promoting peace and friendship among the nations,” Westerwelle wrote, according to the Times of Israel. A moment of silence for the 11 Israelis, he added, would be “a humanitarian gesture and a fitting way to send the message that violence and terror are incompatible with the Olympic idea.” While IOC officials have participated in memorial ceremonies hosted by Jewish communities, the body has not commemorated the ‘72 tragedy during the Games other than on the day after the massacre. Despite the international attention, Rogge has turned down the request. The Summer Olympics begin in London on July 27. In a May 1 letter this year, Rogge wrote that “the IOC has paid tribute to the athletes on several occasions. Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.” In recent days, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and the widows of the murdered athletes have released a video to help the campaign. “This video is one minute long, the same amount of time we are asking the International Olympic Committee to stop and remember, contemplate and to send a message that the international sporting community will stand against hatred and violence,” Ayalon says in the video.
George Washington letter to American Jews going on display
The 1790 letter written by President George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, RI, is going on display at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History. The letter, which has been out of the public eye for a decade, is part of the museum’s new exhibit, “No Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom,” which was to open on June 29. Regarded as Washington’s most eloquent statement on religious liberty, the letter has Americaâ’s first president pledge to uphold the Constitution’s offer of “invaluable rights of free citizens.” It also affirmed rights and privileges generally unknown to Jews elsewhere at the time. “It is artifacts such as these which enable us to broaden our reach as an institution beyond the Jewish community – to be a destination for showcasing pieces of history both profoundly relevant and fascinating to all Americans and all visitors to Philadelphia,” Ivy Barsky, the Philadelphia Jewish museum’s director and incoming CEO, said in a statement. An array of documents, publications and portraits are also part of the exhibit, which highlights the establishment of religious freedom in the United States. The privately owned Washington letter was on view
for many years at the Klutznick Museum at B’nai B’rith International’s headquarters in Washington, DC. When B’nai Brith relocated in 2002, the letter was put into storage. The letter is on a three-year loan from its owner, the Morris Morgenstern Foundation. Several institutions, including the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Library of Congress, have tried for years to pry the letter away, according to the Forward. B’nai B’rith claimed that its hands were tied by the Morgenstern Foundation, which would not allow the letter to be moved, the Forward reported. Forward reporter Paul Berger and Editor Jane Eisner were part of the campaign to return the letter to public view.
Clinton urges Latvia to resolve restitution issue
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Latvia to resolve issues related to restitution of Jewish property. On a visit to the Baltic nation, Clinton said that the U.S. supports restitution or compensation for those whose property was seized by the Nazis or communists. She also acknowledged the Lithuanian government’s attempts to address the issue, Reuters reported. “We think that resolving these issues quickly and fairly is in everyone’s interest and we hope that the process... will be able to move forward and that this issue about communal property restitution can be addressed as soon as possible because it is a piece of unfinished historical business,” Clinton said on June 28, according to Reuters. Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, said there is a good dialogue with the Jewish community but that it is necessary “to exercise extra caution” on the issue, “due to historical considerations,” Reuters reported. The week of June 21, the minister of justice, who is a member of a nationalist party that is a partner in Latvia’s center-right coalition government, resigned over restitution, arguing that the prime minister was pushing too hard on the issue.
Jewish Federation Acquires New Film Festival Picks Dassy Ganz, assistant to executive director of the Jewish Federation, announces that thanks to the generosity of the Glassman family of Scranton, the Federation film library has acquired a number of newly released films recently shown at film festivals around the country. Film Library Continues to Grow Thanks to Your Donations Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Lindsay Leventhal, the film library now owns 5 new films of Jewish interest: A Film Unfinished- Using footage completely unparalleled, A Film Unfinished provides new insight into the Nazi propaganda machine further exposing an agenda already known to be deceitful beyond our greatest beliefs. (non-feature) 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) Blessed is the Match- The life and death of Hannah Senesh (non-feature) Inglorious Basterds- This popular WWII revenge fantasy film follows a Nazi-scalping squad of American soldiers is on a daring mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich (rated R) Komediant-(non-feature) The glory days of the Yiddish stage are brought to life in this funny saga of a legendary theatrical family, the Bursteins. Smoothly incorporating rare archival footage and interviews with Yiddish stage veterans, this tightly edited and briskly paced documentary is as richly bittersweet and the Yiddish theater itself. 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) 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) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas- Based on the best-selling novel, this movie is set during WWII and tells the inspiring story of two boys and the power of the human spirit. (rated PG-13) The Hidden Child- A gripping tale of survival, The Hidden Child tells the story of a six-year-old girl and her sister, separated from their parents, dodging bullets, lying for survival, and relying on the compassion of strangers To Take a Wife- A powerful drama about a woman’s struggle for independence and emotional freedom in the face of family tradition. (not rated) The following are also now available for private and synagogue viewing: 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 2012 UJA Kick-Off in Scranton this past September. 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? Sarah’s Key- Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas), an American journalist married to a Frenchman, 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. Julia learns that the apartment she and her husband Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old Michel. Please contact Dassy Ganz at the Federation to borrow these or other films in our library.
THE REPORTER ■ july 5, 2012
July 5, 2012 Edition of the Reporter by the Jewish Federation of NEPA