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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania October 10, 2013
VOLUME XI, NUMBER 20
For Nairobi Jews, mall attack undermines already fragile sense of security By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA) – When Rina Attias phoned to say that she was trapped with terrorists inside Nairobi’s Westgate mall, her husband Albert replied with a short instruction: Hang up right now. Albert Attias, the head of the Jewish community in the Kenyan capital and an Israeli military veteran, wanted to communicate with his wife by text message so she wouldn’t be overheard speaking Hebrew. Their Israeli connections were not something the couple were eager to advertise, even in normal circumstances. “I was gravely concerned,” Albert Attias told JTA, recalling the first hours of the deadly attack and two-day siege carried out by Islamic militants at the upscale shopping plaza that began on September 21. “I prayed she’d get out before dark because at night anything could happen.” Rina Attias was trapped for six hours before escaping. But her ordeal at what was considered a safe area in Nairobi has
The remains of cars and other debris at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, following an attack by Islamic militants on September 26. (Photo by Kenyan Presidential Press Service/via Getty Images)
shaken the brittle sense of security for the approximately 600 members of the Jewish community of Kenya, a country that has strived, not always successfully, to escape the violence raging just beyond its borders. “We were already careful, but this attack reinforces in us the need to be vigilant,” Attias said. Along with Attias, several hundred bystanders fled the mall after a dozen or so armed terrorists stormed the five-story building and holed up there with hostages. The death toll included 61 civilians, six security officers and five suspected terrorists. Nine other suspected terrorists are in custody, Kenyan authorities have said, but some are believed to have escaped through a sewage canal that security forces discovered 72 hours after the attack began. No Jews were among the victims of the attack, according to Attias, which occurred as many community members attended See “Nairobi” on page 4
London’s American-style JCC seeking lead role in Anglo Jewry “renaissance” steered the organization through the 2008 financial crisis, helping it to emerge as a vibrant global brand with an annual budget of $1.6 million that scholars of British Jewry call the flagship of a communal renaissance. Now he wants to do something similar with the new community center, a centrally located four-story behemoth called JW3 – a play on the local postcode, NW3 – which was built with a one-time $56 million grant by a single donor, the philanthropist Vivien Duffield. But with Duffield now stepping back from the organization, Simonson has to build a constituency among Londoners for a kind of Jewish institution with which they are largely unfamiliar. “This is now for the community to decide if they truly want to keep the gift,” Simonson told JTA. Duffield, the daughter of the late business magnate Charles Clore, initiated the project after visiting the JCC in Manhattan a decade ago and deciding that London’s approximately 200,000 Jews also should have a one-stop shop for all things Jewish. The London center has space Raymond Simonson greeted visitors at the opening of for a kindergarten, movie London’s new JW3 community center. (Photo by Blake theater, sports facilities, kosher restaurant, library and Ezra Photography)
By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA) – At his office in London’s newly opened, $80 million Jewish community center, Raymond Simonson fumbles with a state-of-the-art telephone switchboard. “Sorry, I’m embarrassed, but we’ve only just moved into our offices,” says Simonson, the 40-year-old boss of London’s first American-style JCC, which opened on September 29. “Now the article will say ‘New CEO can’t even answer his own phone.’” With his credentials, Simonson can afford to be self-deprecating. The former director of the Jewish learning fest Limmud, Simonson
An artist’s rendering of the new JW3 Jewish community center in London. synagogue. All that space requires a paying customer base, and for the past two years, JW3’s staff of 45 has been working to build one. A huge banner that says “JW3 The New Postcode for Jewish Life” hangs from the building’s facade. Simonson, a chummy Londoner who takes pride in his ginger facial hair (his Twitter handle is FatSideburns), aims to enroll 60,000 members the first year at a cost of $72 annually. JW3 has limited cash reserves, so if JW3 fails to attract a significant amount of paying members, See “London” on page 6
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Environmental leaders
Jews in the arts
News in brief...
Federation on Facebook
The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania now has a page on Facebook to let community members know about upcoming events and keep connected.
Candle lighting October 11........................................6:10 pm October 18.......................................5:59 pm October 25.......................................5:48 pm
Israel’s Arava Institute is training The Jewish Foundation for Culture Alleged Iranian spy in Israel; Israel PLUS environmental professionals to is closing its doors; a Jewish arts to seek U.S. Security Council seat; Opinion...........................................................2 transform the Middle East. festival debuts in Jerusalem. brit milah in Europe; and more. UJA Campaign...........................................8-9 Story on page 5 Stories on pages 12-13 Stories on page 15 D’var Torah.................................................10
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a matter of opinion Does Iraq deserve the return of its Jewish archive? By Ben Cohen JNS.org A few years ago, in response to a Palestinian critic who made a disparaging remark about the fact that I don’t speak Arabic, I felt compelled to write an article explaining why that is the case. I said that under different circumstances, I could have been born in an Arab country and grown up speaking Arabic. My father’s family had been settled in Iraq for generations, but they fled to England in 1941 – the same year that Baghdad’s Jews were convulsed by a June pogrom known as the farhud – presaging a much larger exodus of Iraqi Jews over the next decade. Among my father and his relatives, there was little nostalgia for the old country, and therefore no reason, as they saw it, to ensure that their children born outside Iraq learned Arabic. It’s not that they didn’t appreciate the centrality of Iraq to Jewish history; this was the land where the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) was completed, where scholarship flowed from the Jewish academies of Sura and Pumbedita (now the city of Fallujah, site of some of the most brutal fighting during the war in Iraq), and where, in modern times, Jewish merchants flourished alongside Jewish writers and musicians. Yet there were also more recent memories of Iraq, uglier and sharper. The farhud – a word which Edwin Black, the author of a fine book on the subject, translates as “violent dispossession” – cast a pall over relations between the Jews and their Muslim neighbors, and the mistrust deepened because of the support of many ordinary Arabs for Hitler’s Nazi regime. During the 1950s, antisemitic legislation and property confiscation forced the de-
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and other countries in Europe, walking the same streets trodden by their ancestors. I even wish that I were eligible to reclaim the Iraqi citizenship my grandparents lost, just like those descendants of Jews from Poland and Germany who can now obtain the passports of those countries not as a privilege, but as a right. Most of all, I wish that after being displayed in Baghdad, the archive could go on a tour whose first stop would be the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, or Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv. What better symbol of reconciliation could there be? All that, sadly, is a pipe dream. Iraq today is not Germany, a country that solemnly commemorates the barbarism of the Nazis and is home to a thriving Jewish community. As far as the Jews are concerned, Iraq now – with the important exception of the Kurdish region, whose people have a noble record of aiding Jews in plight – is the same Iraq of yesteryear, where populist antisemitism runs deep, hatred of Israel is a doctrine and denial bordering on contempt overwhelms any discussion of the Iraqi Jewish exodus of the 20th century. So, yes, those Jews who say that Iraq has done nothing to deserve the return of stolen Jewish property are correct. Still, I can’t help wishing that would not be the case. Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.
How Jewish education can make us the “Choosing People” By Simon Klarfeld JNS.org I’ll never forget the words of my Hebrew school teacher: “While we may have once been the Chosen People, now we are the Choosing People.” This has been a guiding principle throughout all my years as an educator, one that has accompanied me from my tenure in the Soviet Jewry movement in the 1980s and early ‘90s right up until my present-day position as the director of America’s oldest Zionist youth movement, Young Judaea. This time of the year is all about evaluating ourselves as the “Choosing People.” What choices have I made this past year, and did those choices impact the world I live in positively or negatively? On a larger scale, the now-completed High Holy Days are not just about individual self-reckoning. As Jews, we must also ask ourselves what choices we’ve made as a community – in particular, what educational choices we have made and are offering to our community members. The sad fact is, when it comes to deciding the best way to impart Jewish values onto the next generation, the writing on the wall indicates that the choices we have made as a community have often been the wrong ones. Mass exoduses from Jewish institutions
after the age of bar or bat mitzvah point to a disturbing issue – that far too many decide that their Jewish learning is done, complete, at least from the perspective of formal education. The question is why. Part of the answer has to do with the pedagogy behind many of our educational institutions. Too much of it is either spoon-fed or else with too much focus on handed-down Jewish practice like rituals. Too much emphasis is on the “what Jews do” instead of the “why Jews do.” As leadership trainer Simon Sinek points out: “Those who know their why are the ones who lead. They are the ones who inspire.” Too often throughout my career I have interviewed candidates for critically important educator positions, only to be met with blank faces when I ask them, “Why does being Jewish matter to the average American Jew anymore?” Ultimately, graduates of the American Jewish educational system come no closer to answering the question, why be Jewish? This is because Judaism is taught in a vacuum, where one’s Jewish identity is entirely separate from the rest of one’s identity. Instead, children should be inculcated with the ideas and knowledge that allow their Jewish identity to not only function in a wider environment, but also serve to
enhance that environment. Our students should grow up believing that their Judaism has added value for the rest of their lives – not just until they’re done with their bar or bat mitzvah. The Jewish educational system today is in a state of, if not stagnation, one in serious need of invigoration. It isn’t enough to guilt-trip children into being “good Jewish kids,” they want to know why. Oversimplification just doesn’t cut it anymore. Children – and especially tweens and teens – have a more nuanced understanding of the world; for them, things aren’t as black and white as some educators might have you think. Children are far more ready to understand the grey areas than we give them credit for. For instance, we shouldn’t be afraid of introducing them to a discussion about God in a universe where bad things to happen to good people – to the God of the Book of Job and not only to the omnipotent, “long-white-beard” God of Genesis fame. We must inspire them to question, to think critically and most of all to know how to engage in a conversation that started 3,000 years ago and will continue – with their voices as part of that conversation – for thousands more. Good education should See “Education” on page 4
letters to the editor September 11 ceremony a memorable event To the Editor: I had the opportunity to attend the September 11 ceremony at McDade Park. It was a beautiful and memorable event to honor our fallen soldiers, their families and the civilian personnel that lost their lives on September 11, 2001. All branches of the military were represented and took part in the ceremony with much pride and honor. My gratitude goes to the chairman, Charlie Spano, and vice chairman, Patrick
O’Malley, for their determination to keep the memory alive for those who lost their lives on that tragic day. It breaks my heart to hear the sorrow and grief of the families that spoke about their loved ones. I want to express my gratitude to our first responders – firefighters, policemen and EMTs – that ran into those towers and put themselves at risk to save others. Also, to our fallen soldiers, our local heroes, that were sent to war to fight terrorism. They paid the ultimate
sacrifice with their lives to keep America free of these horrific events. This committee consists of a small group of people. Their concerns are to keep the dignity and remembrance of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice on that heartbreaking day. This is a reminder to never forget our military and the civilians that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. God bless America! Sincerely, Dorothy Arndt
The Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute has announced a lecture by Dr. Steven Fine, of Yeshiva University, “The Menorah and the Cross: Jewish-Christian Relations in the Christian Roman Empire,” will be held on Thursday, November 21, at 7:30 pm, in the Brennan Auditorium at the University of Scranton. Fine is a cultural historian specializing in Jewish history in the Greco-Roman period. His work focuses mainly upon the literature of ancient Judaism, art and archaeology, as well as the ways that modern scholars have interpreted Jewish antiquity. His blend of history, rabbinic literature, archaeology and art, together with engagement with historiography and contemporary culture, has been expressed in a variety of publications. The author of academic monographs, museum catalogs, more than 60 articles and a book for children, Fine’s most recent monograph, “Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology,” received the 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award of
Dr. Steven Fine posed in front of the Arch of Titus in Rome, which is being restored under his direction.
the Association for Jewish Studies. Fine directs The Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project, which in June 2012 discovered evidence that the Arch of Titus menorah was painted a yellow ochre color in antiquity. The team plans to return to Rome next year to scan the entire arch. His tentatively titled “The Menorah: A History” is under contract with Harvard University Press and is scheduled to appear in 2015. He has lectured to both popular and academic audiences throughout the United States, Israel and Europe, in both English and Hebrew. In recent years, he has given academic presentations at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin; the University of Basle; Bar Ilan University; Ben Gurion University; University of Haifa; Oxford University; the Hebrew University; American Jewish University; Union Theological Seminary; Yale University; the Hebrew Union College; UC Davis; Duke University; and the Brooklyn Museum. Fine also delivered the first Cecil Roth Memorial Lecture at the Jewish Museum in London.
Jewish Family Service continues its “Grow Yourself” series Jewish Family Service has announced the fall/winter programs of the “Grow Yourself” series, which features self-improvement and personal growth workshops and seminars. The series seeks to provide tools, strategies and experiences for “living a more empowered and fulfilling life.” The first program will make use of the nature of the area with a walk and birding event on Sunday, October 20, from 1-2:30 pm, at Lackawanna State Park, guided by an experienced “birder” and longtime member of the Lackawanna Audubon Society. Participants will have an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and learn about birds migrating through the area. The program will be offered at no cost to members of JFS and at a cost of $5 for non-members. Reservations will be required and can be made at 344-1186 or mbushwick@ jfsoflackawanna.org. The Audubon Society’s mission is “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” For more than a century, Audubon has supported conservation efforts by mobilizing its network of members, chapters, Audubon Centers, state offices and professional staff to connect people with nature and in order to protect it.
There will be a “Tea Party with the Clelands” and a tour of the newly renovated Cleland House on Wednesday, November 13, from 6:30-7:45 pm, at 520 Madison Ave., Scranton. Attendees will learn about the way people lived and entertained 150 years ago. The program will also include a tour of the newly opened bed and breakfast in the Hill section of Scranton. The program will be offered at no cost to members of JFS and at a cost of $5 for non-members. Reservations will be required and can be made at 344-1186 or mbushwick@ jfsoflackawanna.org. The program “Introduction to Belly Dancing” will be held on Wednesday, January 29, from 6-7 pm, at Step by Step Dance Studio, 1200 N. Keyser Ave., Scranton. Belly dancing is a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise and is suitable for all ages. It has been said to help the prevention of osteoporosis in older people, as many of the moves involve isolations, which improve the flexibility of the torso. Belly dance moves are also considered beneficial to the spine, as the full-body undulation lengthens (decompresses) and strengthens the entire column of spinal and abdominal muscles in a gentle way. Belly dance is primarily a torso-driven dance, with an
emphasis on articulations of the hips. Unlike many Western dance forms, the focus of the dance is on relaxed, natural isolations of the torso muscles, rather than on movements of the limbs through space. The program will be held under the direction of an experienced dance instructor. Reservations will be required and the fee for the program will be $15 per person. To register or for information, contact 344-1186 or mbushwick@ jfsoflackwanna.org.
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why on earth would the State Department, which has spent millions of dollars lovingly restoring its contents, return it to the Iraqi government? Simply because that government has suddenly decided that the archive constitutes, as one Iraqi representative put it, “part of our identity and history”? Or because the U.S. feels duty bound to respect an agreement it made at the time to return the archive? Julius and other advocates on behalf of Iraqi Jews make a strong case that returning the archive essentially involves restoring stolen property to those who stole it. Instead, they say, the archive should sit with its rightful owners themselves, the close-knit Iraqi Jewish communities spread around Israel and the countries of the West. On moral and legal grounds, I cannot counter this position. But here’s a confession: I wish I could. I wish I could envisage the sight of the archive on display in a Baghdad museum, much as it will be at the National Archives in Washington in October, with crowds of schoolchildren gathering to learn about the great community that lived among their great-grandparents. I wish I could organize a family trip to Iraq to see that hypothetical exhibition, safe in the knowledge that what is being shown belongs to our community, and that we are sharing it with the other ethnic and religious groups among whom we lived. I wish I could discover where my grandparents resided, in much the same way that American Jews of Polish or German extraction freely go on visits to these
community news Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute to offer JewishChristian relations lecture on Nov. 21
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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.
parture of the majority of Iraq’s Jews, but the small remnant who stayed were not immune from persecution. In 1969, the Ba’ath Party fascists ruling Iraq executed 11 Jews on trumped-up charges of spying, transporting Iraqis from all over the country to Baghdad to watch the gruesome spectacle of a public hanging. Since these images are seared into the minds of Iraqi Jews, it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to understand why the vast majority wouldn’t consider returning there even if they could, and therefore why there are vibrant Iraqi Jewish communities in cities like Tel Aviv, New York and London, but not Baghdad or Basra. Indeed, the break with the mother country is so irreparable that Iraqi Jews are of one mind when it comes to the current controversy over whether the United States should return an archive of Iraqi Jewish treasures to the Iraqi government: it absolutely should not do so. The archive of books, photographs, scrolls, writings and communal documents, including one item that dates back to 1658, was discovered by American troops in Baghdad in 2003, as they combed through the flooded basement in the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s much-feared mukhabarat, or secret police. Lyn Julius, a London-based writer and advocate on behalf of Jewish communities from the Arab world, has noted that the archive was seized by Saddam’s henchmen from the Bataween synagogue in Baghdad, in 1984. If the archive was stolen from its Jewish guardians at gunpoint,
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Education be about teaching children how to have an active voice in their own communities and the community at large. “Forming, norming, storming and performing” is a phrase we use in staff training coined to demonstrate the trajectory of the educational process. All too often, our formative years are hijacked by the educational system’s attempts to “normalize” us – usually resulting in a predictable outcome. But in experiential education – that is, all education that is non-formal – a stage called “Storming” happens and is often even encouraged somewhere along the line. “Storming” refers to the extraordinary events in a youth’s life that ultimately make the most impact and that lead to optimal “performing.” Sadly, many of today’s educators are afraid of the uncertainty of “storming” – seeing it as a
the bar mitzvah celebration of an Israeli diplomat’s son. Opened in 2007, Westgate was a “place of comfort, upscale luxury, a feeling of something foreign that doesn’t exist in too many places here,” the Kenyan journalist Jeff Omondi said. Beyond the air-conditioned walls of Westgate lies a crime-infested metropolis of 3.1 million where vultures circle over vast slums and potholed roads in search of a meal in one of the many garbage heaps festering in the tropical sun. The mall is a foreign novelty to Kenyans, but for the tens of thousands of Western Nairobians, Westgate – with its Israeli-owned brasserie, sushi restaurant and upscale clothing stores – offered access to familiar amenities that are hard to find in this eastern African republic. It was the first place that Rebecca, the wife of Nairobi’s newly arrived rabbi, was taken to in Nairobi. On her blog, she described it as a pleasant spot to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee. But in an interview with JTA, she requested that her last name be withheld. “I’m sorry, this whole business has made me a bit paranoid,” she acknowledged. Charles Szlapak, a longtime member
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rebellion or rejection of our community’s norms – and prefer instead to stick to a rigid curriculum. Rather, “storming” should be seen as a great educational opportunity – as a challenge that we can engage with and bring our students into the process as full actors and not as passive recipients. After all, our very name as a people, “Yisra-El,” is “to struggle.” What an amazingly empowering message with life-long resonance to teach our youth. In the arena of informal education (like summer camps and Israel trips), we often see the “storming” phase unfold. This is because camp environments are more likely to be punctuated with life-changing moments that have a personal impact on the participant. For example, a camper with a Jewish mother and a Catholic father might
have an epiphany about his Jewish identity through his first experience of Shabbat. I’ve often heard program alumni remark, “Oh, camp was where ‘I did Jewish.’” Whatever the case is, these transient experiences often play a far greater role in defining our children’s Jewish identity than 12 years in the Hebrew school. As educators, we need to find ways to take what happens in an educational environment that is more personal (such as the relationship between counselor and chanich [camper] at a summer camp) and bring it into our classrooms. And in the world of informal education, we need to better adapt cognitive skill development (utilized by master teachers in the classroom) to better equip students with the knowledge and tools to engage fully in the ancient-and-contem-
porary community dialogue. We need to allow for probing and inquiry, and not sweep the gray areas under the carpet. We need to make our children secure in their Judaism so that one day they’ll take pride in it. We do this by first injecting the inspiration and only then teaching the particulars – not the other way around. Let’s hope that 5774 ushers a new dawn for Jewish education, one that will see as many kids and their families opt to go on waiting lists for Jewish schools, as they currently do for summer camps. In order to be the “Choosing People,” the least our children deserve is to be presented with real, compelling choices. Simon Klarfeld is the executive director of Young Judaea, America’s oldest Zionist youth movement.
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of the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation, told JTA he believed Westgate was targeted “because it represents the West and the Kenyan government’s pro-Western attitudes,” and that he had “no reason to believe it was struck because of anything connected specifically to Jews.” But Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, a spokesman for Al-Shebab – the Somalia-based wing of al-Qaida that claimed responsibility for the attack – was quoted on September 25 as telling Al Jazeera: “Westgate is a place where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them.” Szlapak, a Poland native born in the 1930s, says Jews have lived in Kenya for well over a century. Nowadays, most Jews living in Nairobi are Israeli businessmen and their families, according to Attias. Al-Shebab is presumed to have staged the attack as revenge for the involvement of Kenyan troops in the quelling of an Islamist insurgency in Somalia. It made no reference to Israel in its statements on the attack. Alex Trachtenberg, an Israeli businessman whom media reports have identified as Westgate’s owner, did not respond to requests for comment from JTA.
At right: Albert Attias, left, and Charles Szlapak, right, and an unidentified man celebrated the centennial of Nairobi Hebrew Congregation on September 9, 2012. (Photo by N a i ro b i H e b re w Congregation) Westgate was among several business ventures launched by Trachtenberg in Kenya, where a growing middle class, relative stability and government incentives have attracted many foreign investors, Israelis among them. Before Westgate, Trachtenberg started a fishery, among other businesses. While it is still not known whether the mall was selected for its Israeli connection, Islamist militants have targeted Israelis in Kenya in the past. In 2002, al-Qaida affiliates blew up the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in the southern coastal city of Mombasa and fired two missiles at a chartered Boeing 757 belonging to Arkia, an Israeli airline. Three Israelis and 10 Kenyans died in the hotel attack. “The Mombasa attacks were clearly targeting Israelis, but according to what is known thus far, the Westgate action was not,” said Zvi Mazel, an expert on militant Islam in Africa and former head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Africa Department. “The Westgate attack was part of an internal African conflict, which the terrorists tried to globalize by selecting a Western symbol as their target.” Still, Westgate’s Israeli link was no secret. In addition to media articles about Trachtenberg, one of the mall’s most popular businesses was a branch of Artcaffe, a bras-
serie jointly run by Israelis and Kenyans and styled after an Israeli chain with a similar name. A favorite with Israelis for its shakshuka egg dish, Artcaffe was the subject of a protest earlier this year for perceived racism against black customers. Management rejected the allegations, but the “Occupy Artcaffe” campaign nonetheless exposed anti-Western and anti-Israel resentment that may have had a role in the attackers’ ability to find local collaborators, as Kenyan authorities believe they had done. One of the dozens of articles published online about Artcaffe has a reader comment posted that threatens its owners. “Shoot to kill this idiot!” the comment reads. The attack at Westgate is believed to have started at Artcaffe. Rabbi Brachyahu Schonthal, 40, the community’s England-born rabbi who arrived with his wife in August, said he was trying to organize an interfaith commemoration service for the victims of the Westgate attack, but some members of the community fear it would attract too much attention. “It’s a reaction that comes naturally to someone socialized in the spirit of American leadership,” Schonthal said, “but this community is used to keeping a low profile and I think the attack will only reinforce that.”
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Arava Institute seeks conservation over conflict By Robert Gluck JNS.org September 13 marked the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, and Middle East peace remains elusive. But rather than focusing on the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies aims to train a new generation of environmental leaders and professionals to transform the Middle East from a conflict zone into a region of conciliation and sustainability. Located on Kibbutz Ketura near Eilat, in the heart of Israel’s Arava desert, the research and education institute offers academic programs (accredited by Ben-Gurion University) on cross-border environmental issues for undergraduate and graduate students from various backgrounds, including Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Americans and others. “A justifiable concern for security and political justice overshadows long-term concerns for sustainable natural resource management and nature conservation,” David Lehrer, the executive director of AIES, tells JNS.org. “When you are concerned about your immediate future or if your current situation is intolerable, it is impossible to worry about conserving resources for the next generation. If left unaddressed, this conundrum will lead to an everincreasing degradation of the very land that both sides are fighting over.” Ongoing AIES projects include the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which works on developing crops and plants appropriate for arid lands suffering from desertification, limited water resources and saline soil; the Long-Term Sociological and Ecological Research Platform, which partners with Jordanian researchers to study the Arava Valley, a shared desert eco-system between Israel and Jordan; the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, part of a renewable energy effort by the residents of the Hevel Eilot region in the southern Arava Valley; and the Arava Center for Sustainable Development, which enables rural societies in the developing world to benefit from knowledge and technology developed in the Arava region. More than 75 percent of AIES students remain involved in environmental causes as professionals and lay leaders after graduation. Alumni projects – facilitated by an alumni network – include the implementation of sustainable energy
Students from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, situated in the heart of Israel’s Arava desert, at a stream. (Photo courtesy of Arava Institute) and water purification techniques in off-grid communities in the Negev, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, as well as cross-cultural environmental education for Jewish and Arab pupils. Many of the undergraduate classes at AIES, and the institute’s research departments, focus on water. Rabbi Michael Cohen – who became a founding faculty member of the institute in 1996, while he was on sabbatical from the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, VT – notes that one AIES initiative to address the Middle East’s water challenges involves the distribution of small-scale solar powered desalination kits for basic neighborhoods
and homes. “AIES is a place with all my passions in one place. Peace, the environment, cross-cultural education,” Cohen tells JNS.org. Boston-based Friends of the Arava Institute works with lay leaders overseas to develop resources for the institute in Israel, through the stewardship of donors, foundation and government grant applications, student recruitment, and public relations. “Critical to our success in the U.S. has been the development of our fund-raising partnership with the Jewish National Fund, which raises over $500,000 a year for the Institute,” Cohen says. “Another FAI initiative, partnered with Hazon (a Jewish nonprofit), is the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride, which brings over 100 bike riders to Israel for our annual fundraising ride from Jerusalem to Eilat to ride for peace, the environment and cooperation.” Temple Anshe Hesed in Erie, PA, became the first carbonneutral synagogue in the U.S. through collaboration with AIES. Anshe Hesed neutralized its carbon footprint – the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions for which it is responsible – by collaborating in a carbon-offset program with AIES. Through a carbon-offset program, an organization pays for technology to meet another organization’s energy needs without creating carbon emissions. Anshe Hesed purchased solar panels, which were installed by AIES, to generate electricity for its campus. The Pennsylvania synagogue enlisted Tara Fortier, at the time a student at Allegheny College, to develop a plan to participate in the AIES offset program – a program Anshe Hesed’s rabbi, John Bush, learned about during a summer 2007 visit to Israel. Fortier, a double major in environmental studies and religious studies, found that Anshe Hesed emitted 36.5 tons of carbon dioxide in 2007 from the use of electricity and natural gas. Bush tells JNS.org that his congregation would like to inspire other synagogues to “offset our impact on the environment while having a positive impact on our religious movement.” In Israel, meanwhile, Arava seeks to help Jews and Arabs cooperate when it comes to environmental challenges. “Though water is often cited as a scarce resource in the region, it is not the scarcest,” says Arava’s director, Lehrer, who worked as a business consultant for kibbutzim and twice served as an emissary for the Jewish Agency for See “Conservation” on page 7
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THE REPORTER ■ october 10, 2013
Through Jewish filmmaker’s lens, Detroit revival looks much less sunny
By Yaffa Klugerman DETROIT (JTA) – Take heart, America. Together we can save Detroit while earning some fabulous prizes. For a mere $500, you can have an abandoned home. Pony up $25,000 and get your name name engraved on City Hall. A cool $50 million will earn you the deed to the Detroit Zoo. That’s the offer pitched by an enthusiastic, earnest-looking young woman in the first episode of the satiric web series “Detroit (Blank) City,” which appeared on the Kickstarter fund-raising site early this year. The campaign left many viewers scratching their heads. Was the $500 million campaign to save Detroit for real? Was filmmaker Oren Goldenberg serious? Turns out, he was – sort of. The Kickstarter effort was legitimate, though its goal was to raise $15,000 to fund a six-part video series, not millions to bail out a city that was soon to declare the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. And it ended not with the restoration of a great American metropolis but with a private donor’s pledge of $3,000 to create the first two episodes. “For me, it was really cathartic,” Goldenberg, 29, told JTA. “I needed to laugh about the tragedies that are happening to the city because it’s unbearable to think of how absurd it is.” Goldenberg witnesses those tragedies daily. He lives in downtown Detroit and has created countless films about a place that once was an emblem of American industrial might and now ranks among the country’s fastest shrinking cities. Through his company, Cass Corridor Films, Goldenberg has won widespread acclaim – most recently from the prestigious Michigan-based Kresge Foundation, which awarded him $25,000 and named him its 2013 Visual Arts Fellow. The satirical style of the Kickstarter videos is new for Goldenberg, but the point is much the same as much of his other work. Rather than jump aboard the Let’s Save
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Detroit bandwagon – a mantra repeated often in these parts – Goldenberg laments the privatization of a city once renowned for its public sector, questioning the motivations of those who have made its renewal a cause celebre. In so doing, he makes a lot of people uncomfortable. “I go against the grain here,” Goldenberg says. “People think I go against everything, which is not true. I just think that we can do better.” One of his “Detroit (Blank) City” videos pokes fun at the relentless branding of the city and features a succession of logos read by a robotic voice: Grown in Detroit. Invest Detroit. My Jewish Detroit. Reclaim Detroit. After three minutes, the point is clear: The city’s name can be used to say just about anything. “The idea that you can use the pronoun of Detroit to mean something for your cause is really fascinating and ridiculous to me,” Goldenberg says. “This idea of blank slate, that you can do whatever you want, like the Wild West, and just state your claim? No. There are people here. There is history here. There are issues here.” Goldenberg is a Detroit native who grew up in the nearby suburb of Huntington Woods, attended the Hillel Day School and graduated with honors from the University of Michigan. He was the only one of 300 students in the university’s film and video program to move to Detroit, where he worked on a documentary about the city’s public schools called “Our School.” His latest project involves creating a requiem to mark the razing of the city’s public housing. Five years ago, he became involved with the historic Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, the last remaining Conservative Jewish house of worship in downtown Detroit. At the time, there was barely a weekly minyan. He and a few friends began working on synagogue programming. Their efforts paid off. The 92-year-old synagogue is experiencing a revival, fueled in part by Jewish communal efforts to repopulate the downtown area. Isaac Agree Downtown attracts hundreds of regulars to its daily programs and recently raised more than $150,000 to update the building and plan for a full-scale renovation. Goldenberg is a member of its board. “We are going to be perpetually fund-raising until our building is full and occupied,” he said. “This place should be a medallion of what Judaism can be in Detroit.”
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But while the city’s Jewish life is experiencing a rebirth, Goldenberg is not optimistic about Detroit’s future. He cites fraudulent elections, cut pensions and the bankruptcy filing. He and his friends came to Detroit to do social justice work, he says, but they no longer feel the idealism they once did. “The way we are treated in the media, the economy, how they treat buildings here, how they treat people here, what they do to them – it’s horrific,” he said. “These are the deep problems in our society, shrouded over with a lofty ‘Let’s Save Detroit’ and kids smiling. It’s delusional.”
Continued from page 1 Simonson says the organization will run out of money in about two years. “Twenty-five years ago, I would have been very pessimistic, but a corner has been turned,” said Geoffrey Alderman, an expert on British Jewry at the University of Buckingham. “There is no doubt that there is a cultural renaissance within Anglo Jewry at the moment.” Exhibit A of the Anglo renaissance is Simonson’s own Limmud, which started 30 years ago as a professional forum for teachers and now draws thousands of participants to a Jewish learning festival each December. Beyond that there is London’s Jewish Book Week, which grew from a small get-together into a nine-day festival with appearances by best-selling novelists held at the spacious Royal National Hotel. The U.K. Jewish Film Festival breaks attendance records annually, according to organizers. And then there is the London Jewish Cultural Centre, a highbrow institution and lecture forum with an annual membership fee of $2,000 – meaning it caters to a more select clientele. “There is scarcely a single British university that doesn’t offer at least one course related to Jewish studies,” Alderman said. “This is unprecedented.” But while the proliferation of options suggests that British Jews have an appetite for cultural offerings, it also means JW3 will have some serious competition as it tries to inject itself into an already crammed Jewish calendar. “We’ll have to wait and see how it goes with JW3, but it’s obvious that it only has a chance to succeed if it appeals to the widest possible audience,” Alderman said. Simonson says his organization is committed to offering a diverse menu of programming. Visitors on October 9, for example, will have a choice of 25 activities ranging from a macaroon baking class to a talk featuring author Thomas Harding and his cousin, BBC News director James Harding, about the capture of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. Kevin Spacey, the Hollywood actor, is scheduled to make an appearance at the center later this year. “Through JW3, we’re telling people who don’t go to shul or have non-Jewish partners to not disappear from the radar, not to be lost, but to put their toes in the water,” Simonson said. “Come and taste something Jewish that might excite them, that meets the other parts of their identity.” Simonson acknowledges that kind of openness risks alienating Britain’s sizable, and growing, haredi and Modern Orthodox communities. But the participation in the opening of Ephraim Mirvis, the country’s new chief rabbi, gives Simonson hope that JW3 can be a place of all sectors of London Jewry. Mirvis’ predecessor, Jonathan Sacks, refrained from attending the interdenominational Limmud conference during his 22 years in office. But Mirvis announced in September that he would be attending Limmud in December. Mirvis’ office declined JTA’s request for an interview, but Simonson believes his attendance at the JW3 opening was something of a trial balloon. “It shows that the chief rabbi came and the sky did not fall down,” Simonson says. Mirvis’ seal of approval may help JW3 with the Modern Orthodox community, but Simonson still does not expect much traffic from haredim, who constitute British Jewry’s fastest growing contingent, according to a 2012 report. “We’re open to them,” he said, “and I think there are genuinely things in our program that would be attractive. But it would be naive of me to realistically think we’ll have significant numbers of haredi Jews coming here. They are by definition set apart from the mainstream and we’re all about bringing Judaism to the mainstream.”
Nixon, Truman and FDR: Their private thoughts about Jews By Rafael Medoff JNS.org The latest tapes of President Richard M. Nixon’s private conversations reveal a number of antisemitic remarks made by the president. This is not particularly surprising, since previously released tapes also contained hostile comments about Jews by Nixon. But one remark in the latest tapes stands out. Discussing potential judicial nominees with an aide, Nixon said, “No Jews. Is that clear? We’ve got enough Jews. Now if you find some Jew that I think is great, put him on there.” How could the president make disparaging remarks about Jews and instruct that they be excluded as nominees, and then, in the same breath, declare that he would accept a Jew “that I think is great” (presumably one whose political and social views mirrored Nixon’s)? How could he harbor such apparent dislike of Jews in general, yet feel perfectly comfortable embracing a certain kind of Jew? There were, in fact, a number of Jews in Nixon’s inner circle, from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to legal counsel Leonard Garment. One finds a similar phenomenon with regard to several earlier presidents. A previously unknown diary by Harry Truman, discovered in 2003, revealed that he harbored harsh feelings about Jews. Incensed when former Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. called him about the plight of the
refugee ship Exodus in 1947, Truman wrote in his diary, “He [had] no business, whatever to call me. The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgment on world affairs... The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[erson]s as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog.” Yet Truman, like Nixon, also had a number of Jewish friends and aides, such as his lifelong friend and business partner, Eddie Jacobson, and senior White House advisers David Niles and Max Lowenthal. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s privately expressed views on Jews were not all that different from Nixon’s. While Nixon worried about having too many Jews among judicial nominees, Roosevelt once told his cabinet – according to the account of Morgenthau – that there were “too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon.” In a similar vein, Roosevelt told French military leaders at the Casablanca Conference in 1943 that “the number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions” in liberated North Africa “should be definitely limited,” lest there be a recurrence of “the understandable complaints which the Germans bore toward the Jews in Germany...” See “Thoughts” on page 10
L-r former U.S. presidents Richard M. Nixon, Harry Truman, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Photo by Hartmann, Greta Kempton and Frank O. Salisbury via Wikimedia Commons)
Israel in the U.S. “The scarcest resource in the region is trust.” Lehrer says Arava aims to build that trust through the Peace Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar, a once-a-week required seminar for all students consisting of a combination of outside speakers, Arab and Jewish facilitators, student-run programs, and field trips. Discussions center on “things that students don’t want to talk about,” such as religion, history, politics, borders, war and terrorism, Lehrer says. “Since this is the Middle East, these sessions are not quiet, often ending with students screaming and yelling at each other, slamming the door and stomping out of the room back to the campus,” he says. “What is unique about the Arava Institute
Continued from page 5 is, as angry as the students are at each other after a PELS session, they all have to go back to the same small campus where 30 to 40 students a semester are living together sharing text books, coffee, tea and space,” Lehrer adds, explaining that many students “do not necessarily enjoy the PELS program,” but ultimately conclude that it was “the most important thing they did while studying at the Arava Institute.” Lehrer believes that Arab-Israeli peace “cannot be made over the Internet” and also requires more than the signing of peace treaties by political leaders. “Only by putting a human face on the enemy will trust be restored in the region, and this can only be accomplished when enemies meet face to face,” he says.
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THE REPORTER ■ october 10, 2013
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
Your gift to the Federation’s UJA Campaign provides funds to meet the ongoing humanitarian and social service needs of our local and global Jewish community. The part of your gift that remains in our community funds the many agencies that comprise the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania and include….
ANNUAL UJA CAMPAIGN SUPPORTS • Scranton Jewish Community Center • Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania • Scranton Hebrew Day School • Yeshiva Beth Moshe • Bnos Yisroel of Scranton • Bais Yaakov of Scranton • Scranton Ritualarium (Mikva) • Jewish Resource Center (JRC) of the Poconos (Stroudsburg) • Jewish Discovery Center/Chabad • Temple Hesed Religious School (Scranton) • Temple Israel Religious School (Scranton) • Congregation B’nai Harim Religious School(Pocono Pines) • Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms Religious School (Lords Valley) • Temple Israel of the Poconos Hebrew School (Stroudsburg)
…and our many and varied programs, projects and services including… • Holocaust Education Resource Center/ History Teacher Enrichment Seminars • Holocaust Symposia (annually - for hundreds of middle and high school student in NEPA) • Coordination of humanitarian & disaster relief efforts (like Hurricane Sandy) • NEPA Federation Missions to Israel • Israel Emergency Campaigns (in the event of war) • Participation in NY’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade • NEPA Federation Missions to Harrisburg (in coordination with the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition) • Northeast Pennsylvania J…ewish Film Festivals (2007/2009) • NEPA Jewish Film Lending Library • NEPA Jewish Federation Business and Trade Alliance (BTA) (www.jewishnepabta.org) • partnering with the Scranton JCC, Jewish Family Services, Temple Israel and Temple Hesed in determining the financial feasibility of constructing a new Jewish Community Campus • grants to JFS for Russian Jewish resettlement and underwriting the travel expenses of Jewish Family Service (JFS) personnel to and from the Pocono Jewish communities • sponsorship of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Artists Street Fair (Stroudsburg) • sponsorship (with the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg) of the Matisyahu “Festival of Light” Concert on December 11th, 2012 • financial support for NEPA Jewish Federation participation in the NY-based OU Job and Relocation Fair designed to attract Jewish families and business persons to our region • participation in Breast Cancer Awareness Programs • analysis of Jewish demographics in Pike, Wayne, Monroe and Lackawanna counties • capital expense assistance for agencies requiring major capital repairs (including the Scranton Mikva and Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms Hebrew School) • CRC activities (lobbying local, regional, state and national elected representatives on matters affecting Jewish interests in NEPA, Israel and the world) • Security-related issues (relating to anti-Semitic threats and vandalism) The Jewish Federation has earned a reputation as a trusted, effective charity that makes a real difference in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Your support sustains a caring, compassionate community that unites in good times or bad to take care of each other and to celebrate Jewish life together. A contribution to our annual UJA Campaign is the one gift that does it all.
Because we work together as a community. Your involvement Yields: Many Happy Returns
OCTOBER 10, 2013 ■
HERE’S HOW YOUR FEDERATION BRINGS YOU MANY HAPPY RETURNS
WHO...who we are… The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania is comprised of many very devoted volunteers whose efforts are supported by the contributions of more than 800 generous financial donors. These engaged community members are facilitated by an executive director, an assistant director, a secretary and a business manager. YOU can join us by attending an event or bringing us an idea.
WHAT…what we do… Federation is a regional Jewish philanthropic organization created to fulfill the social service needs of Jewish community members of all ages in Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike and Wayne Counties. It oversees local community relations issues and through its membership in the Jewish Federations of North America, it shares a portion of its funds to sustain, improve and enrich the lives of Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world. MISSION: Enrich Jewish life in Northeast Pennsylvania, Israel and around the world through service, programming, advocacy and fundraising through its annual United Jewish Appeal.
WHERE…where to find us… The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania is located in the Jewish Community Center of Scranton, 601 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510. Find us online at www.jewishnepa.org or call 570-961-2300.
WHEN…when we started… The Federation formed in the aftermath of World War II when a group of Scranton’s Jews decided to help rescue Jews striving to escape the perils of Hitler’s ravaged Europe. Dozens of thankful refugees came to Northeast Pennsylvania to find jobs and a place to live. As other communities in Northeast Pennsylvania joined forces and shared financial resources, Federation grew into an extended family of caring volunteers. In 2000, the Scranton-Lackawanna Jewish Federation expanded into the Jewish communities of Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties and became the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. We are now one family united is a common cause – the perpetuation of Jewish life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Israel and in many countries around the world where Jews are vulnerable and in need.
WHY…why we’re needed… The Jewish Federation represents not only our communities in Northeast Pennsylvania, but is a branch of national and international Jewish organizations. We communicate and translate the need and purpose from these umbrella organizations to our community and back. Our membership in the Jewish Federations of North America fulfills our responsibility for offering a dedicated and responsible connection to Klal Yisroel…our Jewish brethren worldwide. An insightful member of our community said, “If there wasn’t already a Jewish Federation, we would have started one!”
HOW…how you can help… The Federation provides opportunities to volunteer and participate in many arenas. Give of your valuable time for a one-time or ongoing volunteer experience. Have your voice heard by considering being active on one of our many Federation committees (from disaster relief like Hurricane Sandy to emergencies involving the survival of the State of Israel; from community relations to UJA, and the raising and allocating of funds to over 15 local and regional educational, social service, recreational and cultural organizations and agencies that constitute the organized Jewish interests of NEPA Jewry. Your Campaign contributions allow Federation to respond to the many service and programming needs in our community, the U.S., Israel and worldwide. We build community, and each person who gives of their time as a volunteer or donates money, fuels the organization.
Your involvement yields...
Many Happy Returns 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 • (570)961-2300 • www.jewishnepa.org
THE REPORTER ■ october 10, 2013
OCTOBER 10, 2013 ■
d’var torah ABINGTON TORAH CENTER
Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: www.jewishheritageconnection.org Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week.
BETH SHALOM CONGREGATION
Rabbi Yisroel Brotsky 1025 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510, (corner of Vine & Clay Ave.) 570-346-0502 • fax: 570-346-8800 Weekday – Shacharit: Sun 8 am; Mon, Thurs. & Rosh Chodesh, 6:30 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 6:45 am; Sat & Holidays, 8:45 am. Mincha during the week is approx. 10 minutes before sunset, followed by Maariv.
BICHOR CHOLEM CONGREGATION/ CHABAD OF THE ABINGTONS Rabbi Benny Rapoport President: Richard I. Schwartz 216 Miller Road, Waverly, PA 18471 570-587-3300 • Website: www.JewishNEPA.com Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. Call or visit us online for our bi-weekly schedule
CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Rabbi Mendel Bendet 570-420-8655 • Website: www.chabadpoconos.com Please contact us for schedules and locations.
CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Allan L. Smith President: Henry M. Skier Contact Person: Ben Schnessel, Esq. (570) 222-3020 615 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 570-253-2222 • fax: 570-226-1105
CONGREGATION B’NAI HARIM
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum President: Alan S. Wismer P.O. Box 757 Sullivan Rd., Pocono Pines, PA 18350 (located at RT 940 and Pocono Crest Rd at Sullivan Trail 570-646-0100 • Website: www.bnaiharimpoconos.org Shabbat Morning Services, 10 am – noon; every other Saturday Potluck Shabbat Dinner with blessings and program of varying topics, one Friday every month – call for schedule.
JEWISH FELLOWSHIP OF HEMLOCK FARMS
Rabbi Steve Nathan President: Steve Natt Forest Drive 1516 Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA 18428 570-775-7497 • E-Mail: email@example.com Friday evening Shabbat service 7:30 pm, Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am.
MACHZIKEH HADAS SYNAGOGUE Rabbi Mordechai Fine President: Dr. Shaya Barax 600 Monroe Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 570-342-6271
OHEV ZEDEK CONGREGATION
Rabbi Mordechai Fine 1432 Mulberry St, Scranton, PA 18510 Contact person: Michael Mellner - 570-343-3183
Union of Reform Judaism Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz President: Eric Weinberg 1 Knox Street, Scranton, PA 18505, (off Lake Scranton Rd.) 570-344-7201 Friday evening Shabbat, 8 pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 11:15 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF DUNMORE
President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF THE POCONOS
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Dr. Sandra Alfonsi Contact person: Dr. Sandra Alfonsi 570-223-7062 711 Wallace St., Stroudsburg, PA, 18360 (one block off Rte. 191 (5th Street) at Avenue A) 570-421-8781 • Website: www.templeisraelofthepoconos.org E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday evening Shabbat, 7pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF SCRANTON
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Moshe Saks 918 East Gibson St., Scranton, PA, 18510 (located at the corner of Gibson & Monroe Sts.) 570-342-0350 Fax: 570-342-7250 • E-Mail: email@example.com Sunday, 8 am; Mon & Thurs, 7:15 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 7:25 am; Rosh Hodesh & Chagim weekdays, 7 am; Shabbat Morning Service, 8:45 am; evening services: Sun – Thurs, 5:45 pm; Friday Shabbat and Saturday Havdalah services, call for times.
Parasha Lech-Lecha – A commentary Lech-Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27 By CANTOR MARSHALL WOLKENSTEIN, CANTOR EMERITUS, TEMPLE ISRAEL OF SCRANTON In parasha Lech-Lecha, God asks Abram to leave his home and go to the land of Canaan, eventually to be known as the Promised Land. Just ask yourself this question: How many of us could leave behind family and country, and travel to an unknown land? However, that’s exactly what Abram did.
He knew that God was asking him to do the right thing in order to establish Judaism as the belief in one God, the God of justice, love and compassion, who would give us the Torah, a guide book to living a holy life, so we, the Jewish people, could truly become an “or lagoyim” – a light unto the nations! We pray that we can truly live up to God’s aspiration for us and that God’s aspirations become our own. V’chen y’he ratzon, and let this be your will and let us say amen!
Telling stories By Rabbi Rachel Esserman I dislike reviews that reveal too much of a plot; part of the fun of reading a novel is the thrill of discovery, so it’s rare for me to disclose shocking or challenging revelations. Yet, it would be impossible to explain why I’m reviewing Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) in a Jewish newspaper without mentioning far more of the story than I normally do. However, it feels OK to divulge this information since the details are included in the plot summary on the author’s website. Picoult is known for offering interesting ethical dilemmas in her novels, and her latest book is no exception. Sage Singer works as a baker in order to avoid making friends or having a social life; her hours begin as the café’s last customers are leaving and end when the café reopens. One of the few exceptions to her self-imposed isolation is the grief support group she’s attended since the death of her mother. There she meets the elderly Josef Weber, a former
Continued from page 7
Prof. Leonard Dinnerstein, who has studied Roosevelt’s appointees, writes, “Of his 192 judicial appointments, seven went to Jews,” which was nearly identical to the number chosen by his three Republican predecessors in the White House. Moreover, “the number of Jews employed in policymaking positions in the Departments of State, War, Navy, and Commerce, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Tariff Commission, and the Board of Tax Appeals [under Roosevelt] could probably be counted on one’s fingers and toes.” And FDR rejected a proposal to name his economic adviser, Benjamin Cohen, assistant secretary of the treasury because he feared it would constitute too much Jewish representation in that department. Yet Roosevelt, like Truman and Nixon after him, embraced individual Jews when their talents and expertise proved useful – so long as they did not press him on Jewish issues. As a result, the Jews in Roosevelt’s White House seldom mentioned Jewish concerns. To a friend who urged Cohen to ask FDR about European Jewry, Cohen replied (in 1940), “I don’t feel that I should push myself into Jewish matters where the skipper does not ask my advice.” There were exceptions, of course. Morgenthau belatedly, and under pressure from his (non-Jewish) staff, went to the president about the plight of Europe’s Jews. Niles and Lowenthal actively pressured Truman to support the creation of Israel. But more typical was Kissinger, who – according to a tape released several years ago – advised Nixon in 1973 that even “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” That was exactly the kind of counsel Nixon preferred to receive from his Jewish advisers. Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, DC. His latest book is “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.”
school teacher and much beloved member of the local community. The two begin to bond until Josef confesses a secret and asks Sage for a favor. Josef wants to die – and he wants Sage to help him. Why pick Sage? Because she’s Jewish and Josef seeks expiation for the sins he committed during World War II. Although Sage calls herself a “self-renounced Jew,” she also can’t escape her family’s connection to the Holocaust: her beloved Grandmother Minka is a survivor. Picoult’s novel is filled with storytellers – including Josef and Minka – each of whom offers a different insight not only into Sage’s dilemma, but into what occurred in Europe during the war. There is also a fourth narrator whose description I won’t reveal since to do so gives away too much of the plot. To complement all these stories is a mysterious opening narrative that reappears throughout the novel. Sage’s lack of connection to Judaism helps explain her reactions to Josef’s request. In the small New England town in which she lives, “being Jewish made my sisters and me anomalies, as different from our classmates as if our skin were blue... I wasn’t picked on – to the contrary, when our elementary school teachers taught holiday alternatives to Christmas, I became a virtual celebrity, along with Julius, the only African-American kid in my school, whose grandmother celebrated Kwanzaa.” She notes how her parents practiced an “abridged version of Judaism”; even that is too much for her, since her preference is to “blend in,” rather than stand out. She does, though, acknowledge her discomfort after learning her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. However, since Grandmother Minka refuses to talk about her past, the problem is easy for Sage to ignore. Josef’s request to Sage forms the central core upon which the plot rests. Would helping Josef die be murder or, as he claims, showing mercy to an old man? The fact that he is a murderer makes the question even more complicated. The dilemma of whether or not to offer him forgiveness leads Sage to wonder if she even has the right to pardon him. After all, she didn’t personally suffer by his hands or the hands of other Nazis. She notes that while “repentance might bring peace to the killer... what about the ones who’ve been killed? I may not consider myself a Jew, but do I still have a responsibility to the relatives of mine who were religious, and who were murdered for it?” Her friendship with Josef also leads her to a more existential question: Is there such a thing as a totally good or a totally evil person? How can she reconcile the story Josef tells her about his past as a Nazi with this gentle man beloved by his students and the community? Which is the real Josef? Or is there a real Josef? Although the novel is filled with storytellers, that title truly belongs to Picoult. She does a wonderful job creating interesting and intriguing characters, along with a very absorbing plot. Book club members will find “The Storyteller” a great catalyst for discussion, since it offers numerous ethical questions to ponder. Picoult also offers several surprises along the way and readers may be interested to see how many they guess. Although some parts of the plot seemed contrived, in the end, I didn’t care: the storyteller had worked her magic.
Notice to our Pocono Readers 911 Emergency Management Services has been updating mailing addresses in Monroe County and Lehman Townships in Pike County. Please don't forget to notify the Federation so you will continue to receive The Reporter. Thanks, Mark Silverberg, Executive Director Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania
The Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania Invites You to the
Featuring a special screening of the newly released documentary:
Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness Sunday October 13 Buffet Dinner Reception at 5:30 PM Program at 6:15 PM
Temple Israel of the Poconos 711 Wallace Street, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360 Cover charge- $10.00 per person RSVP no later than Wednesday, October 9 - (570)961-2300 x2 A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, SHOLEM ALEICHEM: LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it.
THE REPORTER ■ october 10, 2013
OCTOBER 10, 2013 ■
Jews in the arts
Debut Jerusalem festival aims to put Jewish art on the map By Ben Sales JERUSALEM (JTA) – The reader opened with a recitation of Psalm 48 followed by a contemporary poem before yielding the floor to five male dancers, all wearing the standard haredi Orthodox uniform of black pants and white button-down shirt. One had bushy earlocks, but no yarmulke. So began the inaugural Jerusalem Biennale, a six-week contemporary art festival that launched the middle of September and will run through the end of October. Seeking to combine the best in Jewish and contemporary art, all of the pieces on display – from oversize worry beads bearing words like “Iran” and “militant Islam” to an installation of a Shabbat dinner table – share a single goal: To show that Jewish art reaches far beyond the Kiddush cups and menorahs available in synagogue gift shops. “We wanted an event that maps out what exists today in common between the contemporary art world and the Jewish world,” said Ram Ozeri, the event’s organizer. “I am interested in where the world of Jewish content comes out through art. Because it’s a dominant ingredient in Israeli identity, it doesn’t make sense that it will have no expression.” Exhibiting in five Jerusalem locations and including works by more than 50 artists, the festival aims to serve as a proving ground for emerging Jewish artists and as an opportunity for more established, but still unknown, artists to reach a wide audience. Ozeri is hoping the debut biennale is the first step in a recurring and larger undertaking.
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Tobi Kahn’s “Saphyr” is among the works on display at the first Jerusalem Biennale arts festival. (Photo by Miriam’s Studio) Ken Goldman, a Memphis-born multimedia artist who lives on Kibbutz Shluchot in northern Israel, called the festival “not your grandmother’s challah covers. “It’s a chance to get in on the ground,” said Goldman, 53. “We’re a very small community of modern artists dealing with Jewish subjects. It’s a chance to meet the world, show our stuff. I want to have one foot here and one foot there, and be straddling that edge.” Like many of the works in the festival, Goldman’s piece – a photograph of his arm with the deep imprint of tefillin straps along with the biblical quote “You shall bind them as a sign” – deals explicitly with religious ritual. Many of the works in another exhibit, at the Heichal Shlomo synagogue, explore the meanings of key phrases in the Torah or abstract concepts like divine holiness. “It was fun imagining in my head what the rabbis would
look like,” said Jessica Deutsch, 22, the youngest artist featured at the festival. Deutsch is exhibiting a series of nine drawings depicting the first two chapters of the Jewish ethical tract Pirkei Avot. “In my heart I just consider myself Jewish,” she said. “Projects in my sketchbook will reflect what I’m learning.” The biennale’s best claim to prestige in the contemporary art world comes from Tobi Kahn, a “well-regarded” New York-based artist who has been featured in a range of museums over a three decade career. For the festival, he contributed “Urah VI,” a Rothko-esque painting with solid-color squares meant to evoke the gemstone breastplate of the ancient Israelite high priest. Another exhibit features Kahn’s “Saphyr,” a wooden table with a compartmentalized tray holding 49 small sculptures – an innovative way to count the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. “The most interesting thing for me in Judaism is time,” Kahn said. “I’m intrigued by what time means, the whole Jewish law of when Shabbat starts. I’m thrilled to be part of an exhibit that’s opening its doors to many types of Jewish understanding.” While the exhibits feature a range of media and deal with a wide spectrum of Jewish topics, Ronit Steinberg, a professor of modern Jewish art at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, said the festival risks drawing an exclusively Jewish audience. “It needs to be marketed so that it isn’t provincial and closed,” Steinberg said. “We know that there’s a danger when you define an exhibit under a certain religion. We need to persuade people to come see this just as art.” While he understands that the festival will not soon attain the reputation of famous biennales like those in Venice and Berlin, Ozeri hopes over time it will at least become synonymous with the cutting edge of Jewish art. “Jerusalem is trying to compete with New York and Berlin and Liverpool in Western art, and it can’t really put up a fight,” Ozeri said. “Jerusalem can become an art center if it uses its comparative advantage.”
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Jewish Foundation for Culture to shutter next year By Ezra Glinter NEW YORK (Forward) – Does Jewish culture need a central address in order to thrive? Not according to the people who work there. The Foundation for Jewish Culture, a New York-based organization that has given more than $50 million to Jewish scholars and artists since 1960, will cease its operations in the coming year. According to the FJC’s president and CEO, Elise Bernhardt, the organization will wind down its activities in 2014, work with attorneys to distribute its assets and seek new homes for its programs. “Our operating model isn’t really sustainable. We would rather see our programs grow and prosper, and they don’t need to be under our umbrella in order to do that,” Bernhardt said. “Our object is to find organizations that are mission appropriate and that will be able to help them.” Founded as a response to the destruction of European Jewish culture during the Holocaust, the FJC has gained attention in recent years for such programs as the Six Points Fellowship, a program for Jewish artists that closed its New York branch in May; the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film and the American Academy in Jerusalem, which began in 2011. Projects supported by the FJC include the Oscar-nominated film “Waltz With Bashir” and the film “The Law in These Parts,” which won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. While the FJC is financially healthy – according to 2011 tax filings, it has net assets of more than $4.2 million – it has struggled to support its operating costs
C HA N U K A H Once again this year, The Reporter is inviting its readers and local organizations to extend Chanukah greetings to the community by purchasing a Chanukah greeting ad, which will appear in our November 21 issue (Deadline: Nov. 13). Chanukah begins this year on the evening of Nov. 27. You may choose from the designs, messages and sizes shown here - more are available. You may also choose your own message, as long as it fits into the space of the greeting you select. (Custom designs available upon request.) The price of the small greeting is $18 (styles B & E), the medium one is $36 (styles D & F) and the largest one (not shown) is $72 (actual size is 2 col. x 4”). To ensure that your greeting is published, please contact Bonnie Rozen at 1-800-779-7896, ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be made payable to The Reporter and sent to: The Reporter, 500 Clubhouse Rd., Vestal, NY 13850.
in the face of decreased funding. Since 2007, grants from the National Federation/ Agency Alliance, a coalition of 28 Jewish Federations, have decreased to $179,760 from $625,889. Currently, the FJC has six full-time employees, down from 10 at the beginning of 2013. Joe Berkofsky, a spokesman for the Jewish Federations of North America, said that the change represents an overall decrease in the funding pool, as well as a renewed focus on organizations serving Jewish families that have young children and support Jewish education. “Jewish arts and culture might fit into those strategic areas, but there are shifting priorities,” Berkofsky said. “The agency is really evaluating organizations and allocating based on their alignment with strategic directions.” Rather than struggle to make up the difference, the board of the FJC decided that its programs would be better served in different institutional frameworks. According to Bernhardt and FJC board members, donor support for its programs remains strong, especially at the local level. “I think we’ve been very successful, encouraging lots of Jewish cultural enterprises all over the place. And it’s made it harder to raise money for a national Jewish organization,” Bernhardt said. “It just made a lot more sense in terms of how much we were able to spend on programs compared to how much we spend on making those programs happen,” FJC co-chairman Allen Greenberg added. “It also makes sense leaving on a very high note.” FJC programs include the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dis-
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The Center for Jewish History will hold the exhibit “Circles of Justice: Law, Culture and the Jews of Metz in 18th Century France” through December 31. The exhibit explores the civil proceedings of the Metz Beit Din (rabbinic court) to examine Jewish life at the dawn of the French Revolution and the emancipation of the Jews. It looks at Jewish custom, culture and community, and highlights those areas that distinguished the Jews from their French neighbors and those they shared. For more information visit www.cjh.org or call 212-294-8301.
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the FJC, but have since become independent. These include the Association for Jewish Studies, founded in 1969, and the Council of American Jewish Museums, founded in 1977. Still, they acknowledge that disbanding the FJC will leave a void in the Jewish world. “The notion that artists are so central to who we are – I don’t know who’s going to make that their central argument,” Bernhardt said. “But there are people out there who understand that really good work can be part of the Jewish conversation. And that gives me hope.” This story originally appeared in the Forward newspaper. To read more, visit forward.com.
For more information about The Heritage Trips, please contact Maggie Augugliaro, Senior Program Coordinator, The CLOSER Program at Maggie@poconojrc.com or 570-517-0815 x 12.
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sertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies; the Jewish Studies Expansion Program, which helps universities offer Jewish studies courses; and the New Jewish Culture Network, which commissions and tours music productions to cities around the United States. The latest project – “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” by Bosnian-born accordionist Merima Kljuco– will go on the road in 2014. The American Academy in Jerusalem, which provides a 10-week fellowship for artists, architects and planners, will go ahead as planned this fall and will possibly continue in coming years, though not under the auspices of the FJC. For artists who have received grants from FJC programs, the support has been crucial to their careers. “Support is the word, because they really believe in artists and respect artists,” said Alicia Svigals, a musician whose multimedia concert, “The Yellow Ticket,” was commissioned by the Foundation’s New Jewish Culture Network. “They were looking to support interesting projects that were great for Jewish arts.” “These are people who are incredibly passionate and energetic about supporting the arts and filmmakers at different stages of their careers,” added Jason Hutt, whose FJC-supported film, “Sukkah City,” premiered in New York’s Union Square on September 22. “It’s very important in terms of recognition, knowing that you have the support of a major organization within the Jewish community.” As examples of a way forward for their programs, both Bernhardt and Greenberg point to organizations that were started by
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– Returning by 5pm • Cost is $50.00 ** (Please make your checks payable to the JRC) Lunch is at the Heritage Museum Café Reservations are required - please RSVP to Maggie Augugliaro, Senior Citizen Program Coordinator: 570-517-0815 extension 12, or e-mail Maggie@poconojrc.org (please note new e-mail address) Please RSVP by Tuesday, October 20. * Pick-up location to be announced. Call for more information ** Price includes transportation to and from the museum and admission to the museum. Lunch is NOT included in the price of the trip. Minimum of 20 participants is required for the program to take place
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THE REPORTER ■ october 10, 2013
OCTOBER 10, 2013 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF
New Season of
Sol LeWitt exhibit
• Non-Feature Films •
Blessed is the Match - In 1944, 22-year Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi- occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II. *Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy - This entertaining documentary, narrated by the award winning Joel Grey, examines the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. There are interviews alongside standout performances and archival footage. Budapest to Gettyburg - The past and present collide as a world-renowned historian confronts a history he has refused to study-his own. Gabor Boritt is an expert on Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. But it took his son’s urging to get him to return to his native Hungary and learn about the Jewish experience there from the time of his childhood until, together with his family, he escaped to the United States. Constantine’s Sword, is a 2007 historical documentary film on the relationship between the Catholic Church and Jews. Directed and produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby, the film is inspired by former priest James P. Carroll’s 2001 book Constantine’s Sword. Inside Hana’s Suitcase - A real-life Japanese schoolteacher, who appears throughout the film, sparked this entire story by gathering artifacts for a Holocaust educational center she was developing along with a group of girls and boys called The Small Wings. After applying to receive Holocaust artifacts, a large box arrives with a handful of artifacts, including a battered brown suitcase labeled with Hana Brady’s name. The teacher and her students begin searching for the story behind the suitcase. What they discover will surprise you. They wind up unlocking--and showing us in the film--a whole series of deeply moving memories and other related artifacts and photos. Finally, Hana’s surviving brother George travels to Japan to meet the Japanese students. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story - This excellent documentary, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, portrays the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story was shown at the Opening Event for the 2012 UJA Campaign. The Case for Israel: Democracy’s Outpost - Famed attorney, Alan Dershowitz, presents a vigorous case for Israel- for its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism and to defend its borders from hostile enemies. *The Flat - This gripping autobiographical documentary tells the story of the filmmaker, Arnon Goldfinger who travels to Tel Aviv to clean out the apartment of recent deceased German-born Jewish grandmother. Goldfinger discovers, while going through her belonging, he finds evidence that his grandparents were good friends with Leopold von Mildenstein, a leading official within the Nazi propaganda agency and that they remained friends after World War II. He journeys to find out the details of this disturbing revelation. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - As baseball’s first Jewish star, Hammering Hank Greenberg’s career contains all the makings of a true American success story. *Orchestra of Exiles - This riveting documentary tells the story of how Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, watched Jewish musicians being fired from classical orchestras when Hitler came to power. Huberman decided to build a new orchestra in Palestine encountering many obstacles along the way. He ultimately succeeds and the Palestine Symphony gave its first performance December, 1936. (When Israel gained independence in 1948, the orchestra was renamed the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, which remains to this day a world class orchestra.)
• Feature Films •
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) Avalon- Sam Krichinsky and his extended family arrive in American to find the American dream in a place called Avalon. We watch the Krichinsky family move from poverty to prosperity,facing their changing world with enduring humor and abiding love. Crossing Delancey - This is a warm comedy taking place in New York City. Isabella Grossman desires to rise above her family’s Lower East Side community but her grandmother has other matchmaking plans. Footnote - The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors who have both dedicated their lives to work in Talmudic Studies departments of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Though the father shuns overt praise for his work and the son is desperate for it, how will each react when the father is to be awarded the most sought after prize, the Israel prize? This Oscar nominated film will entrance from the start. Frisco Kid - It’s 1850 and new rabbi Avram Belinski sets out from Philadelphia toward San Francisco. Cowpoke bandit Tom Lillard hasn’t seen a rabbi before but he knows when one needs a heap of help. Getting this tenderfoot to Frisco in one piece will cause a heap of trouble- with the law, Native Americans and a bunch of killers. Good - In an attempt to establish its credibility, the new Nazi government is seeking out experts to endorse its policies and they come across Johnnie Halder’s novel of a husband who aids his terminally ill wife in an assisted suicide. Because of this the Nazis flatter Johnnie arranging for high paying and prestigious positions. Never evil, Johnnie Halder is an Everyman who goes along, accepts what he is told without question until he is an unwitting accomplice to the Nazi killing machine. Hidden In Silence - Przemysl, Poland, WWII. Germany emerges victorious over the Russians, and the city comes under Nazi control. The Jewish are sent to the ghettos. While some stand silent, Catholic teenager Stefania Podgorska chooses the role of a savior and sneaks 13 Jews into her attic. Every day, she risks detection--and immediate execution--by smuggling food and water to the silent group living above her. And when two German nurses are assigned to her living quarters, the chances of discovery become dangerously high. This is the true story of a young woman’s selfless commitment and unwavering resolve in the face of war. Noodle (PAL version- can only be played on computer NOT regular DVD players) - At thirty-seven, Miri is a twice-widowed, El Al flight attendant. Her well regulated existence is suddenly turned upside down by an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been deported from Israel. The film is a touching comic-drama in which two human beings- as different from each other as Tel Aviv is from Beijing- accompany each other on a remarkable journey, one that takes them both back to a meaningful life. Operation Thunderbolt - The true story of the Entebbe hijacking and rescue. “Operation Thunderbolt,” was filmed in Israel with the full cooperation of the Israeli government, and is an exciting re-creation of the events of those tense days. We see the full scope of the story, from the original hijacking to the passengers’ captivity in Uganda to the agonized debates at the highest levels of the Israeli government over a diplomatic vs. a military solution. “Operation Thunderbolt” is the thrilling and true story of how one small country refused to let their people be killed by terrorists and took action to prevent it. People who claim that Israel is a “terrorist state” should see the film and be reminded who the real terrorists are. Orthodox Stance (documentary-2007) - Dimitriy Salita, a Russian immigrant, is making history as a top professional boxer and rigorously observant Jew. While providing an intimate, 3-year long look at the trials and tribulations faced by an up and coming professional boxer, ORTHODOX STANCE is a portrait of seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support Dmitriy’s rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title. Playing for Time - An outstanding cast brings life to this Fania Fenelon autobiography about a Jewish cabaret singer and other Jewish prisoners whose lives were spared at Auschwitz in exchange for performing for their captors. The Angel Levine - Things couldn’t get worse for Jewish tailor Morris Mishkin (Zero Mostel). His shop has gone up in flames, his daughter has married outside the faith and, worse yet, his wife is slowly dying. But just when he decides to give up on God, a mysterious man (Harry Belafonte) appears, claiming to be his Jewish guardian angel! Doubtful that the stranger is Jewish, never mind an angel, Mishkin must overcome his skepticism if he wants one last chance at redemption. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Set during World War II, this is the story of Bruno, an innocent and naïve eight-year old boy who meets a boy while romping in the woods. A surprising friendship develops. The Couple - Based on the true story of a Jewish Hungarian’s desperate attempts to save his family from the Nazi death camps. Mr. Krauzenberg (Martin Landau) is forced to hand over his vast wealth to the Nazis for the safe passage of his family out of occupied Europe, only to find his two remaining servants are left trapped in a web of deceit and danger. Their only hope for survival relies on the courage of Krauzenberg. The Debt - Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson star in The Debt. In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost… or was it? *The Other Son - The dramatic tale of two babies switched at birth, The Other Son creates a thoughtful presentation of what could be a soap opera type event. Instead, director Lorraine Levy and a wonderful screenplay takes the viewer down a very different path allowing each to come to his/her own conclusions. *The World of Sholom Aleichem - Three of Sholom Aleichem short stories are adapted for the stage and broadcast on the 1959 television series “The Play of the Week”. Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story - Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is an incredibly riveting, Emmy award-winning, fact-based story about a hero who helped over 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. *Just added to the Jewish Federation’s Film Lending Library!
To celebrate the installation of American artist Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #599” in the light well of its lobby entrance, the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan will hold the exhibit “Sol LeWitt: Shaping Ideas” through November 12 in the Laurie M. Tisch Gallery. The exhibit includes drawings, prints, posters, photos, videos and an interactive map. For more information, visit www.jccmanhattan.org/ sol_lewitt/ or contact the JCC at 646-505-4444 or info@ jccmanhattan.org.
Chagall exhibit in NYC
The Jewish Museum in New York City is holding the exhibit “Chagall: Love, War and Exile” through February 2. The exhibit explores the artist’s career from the rise of fascism in the 1930s through 1948, years he spent in Paris and then in exile in New York. Marc Chagall, who has been called one of the foremost modernists of the 20th century, created his style by drawing on elements from folk art motifs, the Russian Christian icon tradition, Cubism and Surrealism. The exhibit includes 30 paintings and 24 works on paper, as well as selected letters, poems, photos and ephemera. For more information, visit www.thejewishmuseum.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 212-423-3200.
Fashion collective exhibit
The exhibit “threeASFOUR: MER KA BA” will be shown at the Jewish Museum in New York City through February 2. It is presented by the the New York-based fashion collective threeASFOUR and the installation seeks to fuse avant-garde couture, architecture and video projections. Inspired by sacred geometry and tile patterns found in synagogues, churches and mosques around the world, the exhibit brings together ancient motifs and contemporary design aesthetics. The designers of threeASFOUR – Gabriel Asfour, Adi Gil, and Angela Donhauser – were born in Lebanon, Israel and Tajikistan. They collaborated with the architect Bradley Rothenberg to develop 3D-printed textiles based on symbolic latticework; with Studio Christian Wassmann to build an architectural structure in the form of a star tetrahedron; and with the 3D animation designer Alex Czetwertynski on video projections of the five Platonic solids. For more information, visit www.thejewishmuseum.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-423-3200.
LESJC fifth Jewish Heritage Festival
The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy will hold its fifth Jewish Heritage Festival on Sunday, November 3. The day will begin at 10:45 am at the LESJC Kling and Niman Family Visitor Center, 400 Grand St., between Clinton and Suffolk streets, with two simultaneous walking tours exploring the historic neighborhood, considered by many the starting point of the American-Jewish experience. The tours are: “Bialystoker the Beautiful,” which will visit the Bialystoker Synagogue, built in 1826 as a Methodist church, and its surroundings. The tour will also stop at Congregation Beth Hachasidim De Polen (a 19th century shtiebl, or prayer room) and at Beth Hamedrah Hagadol, former home of the largest Russian-Jewish Orthodox congregation in the United States. The “Bialystoker the Beautiful” tour will be presented a second time at 3 pm. “Crossing Delancey,” which examines three of the oldest synagogues in New York City – Congregation Chasam Sopher (built in 1853), the Orensanz Foundation (formerly Congregation Anshe Chesed, built in 1850) and Congregation B’nei Jacob Anshei Brzezan, one of only two remaining tenement style synagogues left on the Lower East Side. Tickets for either tour are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and free for children under age 8. At 12:30 pm, at the Kling and Niman Family Visitor Center, there will be a presentation “Gals From the Hood” about what life was like for Jewish women on the Lower East Side. Four women who grew up together on the Lower East Side and have remained friends for more than 50 years will discuss the experiences of their families in the neighborhood. Panelists will include Hesta Fortgang, (coowner of Tag-Along Estate Sales), Marilyn Guss Altman (daughter of the founder of Guss’s Pickles), Carol Schneider Margolin (daughter of the K’nish Man) and Carol Hordin (daughter of the founder of Hordin’s Deli). The four women will sponsor a benefit sale throughout the day, with vintage goods for the home, fashion jewelry, artifacts and serving ware available for purchase. All sale proceeds will benefit
Netanyahu: Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel is major roadblock
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a major address asserted that the primary obstacle to Middle East peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu made his remarks on Oct. 6 at Bar-Ilan University – his first address there since a 2009 speech in which he famously declared his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, as Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have resumed for the first time in three years, Netanyahu declared that Palestinian leadership, not Israel, deserved primary blame for the conflict. He began his speech discussing nearly 4,000 years of Jewish history in the land of Israel and later said that Palestinian refugees should not be allowed a right of return to Israel. “The basis of the conflict has been the same for 90 years – refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to a state in Israel,” Netanyahu said. “For the process we’re in to have a real chance of success, we need to hear finally from the leadership of the Palestinians that they recognize the Jewish state, which is Israel.” Netanyahu did not elaborate on a future Palestinian-Israeli border or the future status of Jerusalem, instead focusing on a retelling of the conflict’s history. He listed a string of Palestinian attacks on Jews that occurred before Israel’s occupation of the West Bank began in 1967. The prime minister also spoke at length about former Palestinian Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini’s ties to Adolf Hitler. “The Zionists didn’t use the Holocaust to destroy the national aspirations of the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said. “The Palestinian leadership used the Holocaust to destroy the Zionist movement and almost succeeded.” The speech came five days after Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly, a speech in which he spent most of his time emphasizing the dangers of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Netanyahu struck a similar chord in the Oct. 6 speech, saying that sanctions on Iran should be lifted only if Iran ceases enriching uranium and plutonium, and stops its centrifuges. He also said the United States and Israel see “eye to eye” on the need to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. “Ask a simple question to Iran’s rulers,” Netanyahu said. “If you only want nuclear power for peaceful purposes, why are you enriching uranium and plutonium? You don’t need these at all for peaceful nuclear energy, but these are the essential ingredients for nuclear weapons. The international community’s position needs to be that we are ready to come to a diplomatic solution, but only one that gets rid of Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.”
Alleged spy for Iran indicted in Israel
Ali Mansouri, an alleged Iranian spy, was indicted in an Israeli court. Mansouri, who has Belgian citizenship, was indicted on Oct. 6 in Lod District on charges of espionage and aiding an enemy in wartime. The indictment came a week after a gag order was lifted on his Sept. 11 arrest at Ben Gurion Airport. He was carrying photographs of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv at the time. Traveling in Israel as Belgian businessman Alex Mans, Mansouri is believed to have been spying on Israel for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He reportedly told Israeli investigators that he was promised about $1 million for his services. Mansouri’s brother, Mansour, also worked for Iranian intelligence, according to the indictment, and was present at meetings between Ali Mansouri and senior Iranian intelligence officials, the Times of Israel reported.
UNESCO passes six resolutions against Israel
UNESCO passed six anti-Israel resolutions with support from France. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed the resolutions on Oct. 4 at a meeting in Paris of its Executive Committee. France backed all the resolutions, as did Russia; the United States opposed all of them. Britain and Italy abstained in the votes. Among the resolutions was one condemning Israel for canceling at the last minute a visit of UNESCO inspectors to look at preservation work at 18 sites in the old city of Jerusalem. The visit was canceled after Palestinian Authority officials said they would take the delegation to visit the Temple Mount and to meet with politicians, effectively politicizing the visit, according to Israel. Other resolutions condemned Israel’s work at the Mugrabi Bridge at the Temple Mount Plaza, and naming Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Israeli national heritage sites. UNESCO was the first U.N. body to accept “Palestine” as a member.
eral weeks, according to Israeli media, who reported on the arrests on Oct. 6 after a gag order was dropped that day. The boys acted out of “hatred for Arabs and revenge for attacks committed against Jews,” Israeli media quoted police as saying. The four youngest were released to the custody of their parents; the rest were held over as the investigation continues, according to reports. Police have connected the gang to at least 20 incidents and say there could be more identified. Among the incidents suspected were setting fire to Arab vehicles and stoning Arab pedestrians, as well as buses and cars.
Israel to seek U.N. Security Council seat, ambassador says
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, said Israel will seek a seat on the Security Council for the first time. Prosor told Reuters on Oct. 3 that Israel would vie for a seat on the 15-member panel, the U.N.’s most powerful body, for 2019-20. “We’re going all out to win,” Prosor told Reuters. “It’s about time.” To win one of the 10 twoyear rotations on the Security Council, which also has five permanent members with veto power, Israel would need to secure two-thirds of the votes in the General Assembly, made up of 193 member states. The Security Council has the power to pass binding resolutions backed by force. Prosor said Israel would compete against Germany and Belgium for two seats allocated to the Western European and Others group, to which Israel belongs.
Israel: European anti-circumcision motion “fosters hate”
Israel called on the Council of Europe to rescind a resolution that was “fostering hate” by equating non-medical circumcision of boys with female genital mutilation. “This resolution casts a moral stain on the Council of Europe, and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement on Oct. 4. “We call on the Council of Europe to act without delay in order to annul it.” The resolution in question was part of a report which the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe passed on Oct. 2. The Council of Europe is the continent’s main human rights body. Its resolutions are non-binding. Titled “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity,” the report called non-medical circumcision of boys a “violation of the physical integrity of children” and mentioned it along with female genital mutilation. “Any comparison of this tradition to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti-religious hatred, at worst,” the ministry said. Israel rarely condemns motions by the Council of Europe or other institutions that do not concern it directly. “Claims that circumcision harms young boys’ health and body are false, and do not rest on any scientific evidence,” the statement said. Several European Jewish groups have condemned the resolution, including Milah UK and the European Jewish Congress.
Women of the Wall hold calmest service in months
Scores of women gathered for a Women of the Wall service at the Western Wall with little police protection and minimal disruption from protesters. The Oct. 4 service, which drew 100 to 200 women, was the group’s calmest in at least six months. Women of the Wall, which gathers at Judaism’s holiest site for a women’s service at the beginning of each Jewish month, prayed in the women’s section with no physical barriers enclosing them. The group scored a legal victory in court this year that allowed its members to pray without fear of arrest. In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened a committee to forge a compromise between Women of the Wall and the haredi Orthodox leaders who want to retain exclusive control of the holy site. These changes in the status quo sparked a backlash from Israel’s haredi Orthodox community, which turned out protesters en masse for several services in a row. During those services, from May through August, Women of the Wall participants were barricaded behind a tight police cordon in various parts of the Western Wall plaza. Groups of haredi men yelled epithets and threw eggs, coffee and water at the women, while thousands of Orthodox girls, spurred by rabbis and activists, packed the women’s section of the plaza and prayed silently. Leading up to the Oct. 4 service, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz asked that the Orthodox girls not come to pray – a request that went unheeded. Thousands packed the plaza to participate in a joint service with a group in the men’s section, praying for the health of Sephardi sage Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who has been hospitalized. But in contrast to recent months, Women of the Wall prayed in the plaza with nothing separating the group from the Orthodox girls. A few police officers stood in the crowd but had no unrest to quell.
Israeli girl, 9, stabbed in apparent West Bank terror attack
A 9-year-old girl was injured in an apparent terrorist attack in a West Bank settlement. Noam Glick was injured the night of Oct. 5 on the porch outside her home in Psagot, located north of Jerusalem and adjacent to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. Although shots were fired, it is believed Noam was stabbed, according to reports. She was treated in Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem and, following surgery, her condition was upgraded. She has wounds at the base of her neck, across her chest and on her ear. According to Noam’s father, a scream brought him out to the porch, where Noam told him there was an Arab trying to enter the house. The attacker has not been captured. Israeli soldiers found a breach in the settlement’s fence and what the Israeli military is calling an “improvised weapon.” The family home is located at the edge of Psagot, several hundred yards from the Palestinian village of El Bireh. Psagot remained under lockdown until early Oct. 6, when it was determined that the attacker was no longer in the community.
Teens arrested for “price tag” attacks
A gang of 14 Jewish teenagers was arrested for carrying out at least 20 “price tag” attacks in Jerusalem. The yeshiva students, aged 13-16, were arrested over the past sev-
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