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Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania FEBRUARY 28, 2013
VOLUME XI, NUMBER 5
Bill granting FEMA funds to Sandy-damaged shuls sparks uncharacteristic Jewish response By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) – How essential is a house of worship to a neighborhood? That’s the crux of a question now exercising Congress as a bill advances that would provide direct relief to synagogues and churches damaged by superstorm Sandy last October. The bill, which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 354-72 with strong bipartisan support, adds houses of worship to those defined as a “private nonprofit facility that provides essential services of a governmental nature to the general public.” The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon; backers there include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Lee (RUT), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Pryor (D-AR). The Federal Emergency Management Agency has withheld funding for houses of worship, citing constitutional separations of church and state. FEMA, which fiercely opposes the bill, wrote in a backgrounder distributed to congressional offices and obtained by JTA that “churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship” cannot “be broadly considered to provide ‘essential services of a governmental nature.’” Despite the strength of its House ap-
At Mazel Academy in Brooklyn, Torah scrolls were unrolled to dry after being damaged by the floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy on October 31. (Photo by Ben Harris) proval, the bill has stirred controversy, but the divisions are novel: Instead of the classic disagreements engendered by church-state arguments, this one has liberal Democrats disagreeing and the two major Jewish civil rights groups on opposite sides.
The American Jewish Committee joined lobbying on behalf of the bill along with a number of other Jewish groups, including the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and the Jewish Federations of North America. The Anti-Defamation League is opposed. The Reform movement,
meanwhile, has been careful not to take a position, noting its disagreement with such funding in the past, but not weighing in this time. “In general, we have serious constitutional concerns about this type of funding,” Sean Thibault, a spokesman for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a January 10 statement. “However, we recognize that this aid is, in certain respects, distinct from other forms of aid that we have historically opposed. We continue to work with congregations to help them understand the varied constitutional and policy concerns before each synagogue makes their own decisions.” Rabbi David Bauman of Temple Israel in Long Beach, NY, said his synagogue suffered $5 million damage from Sandy and that the disrepair bled into the wider community. Religious school students who have not met for months recently gathered in each other’s homes for smaller tutorials – a situation that Bauman said is “not ideal.” The local Alcoholics Anonymous group hasn’t had a place to meet since the synagogue social hall was ruined in the storm. “Those people need to come together,” Bauman said, noting that he was searching for an alternative venue. See “FEMA” on page 10
SHDS 65th anniversary dinner to honor founders The 65th anniversary dinner of the Scranton Hebrew Day School will be held on Sunday, May 12, at the JCC in Scranton, 601 Jefferson Ave. In celebrating the milestone, the school
will pay tribute to the families of its founders, who are now deceased: Jacob Fink, Harry Harris, Benjamin L. Klein, Philip Moskowitz, Morris Schorr and M.J. Waldman. A presentation will be
made to various members of the founders’ families, including Sam Harris, Melba Nathan and Asher Moskowitz, as well as grandsons Rafi Schorr, Doug Fink and Dr. Bruce Klein.
Kosher Meals on Wheels services offered Jewish Family Service of Lackawanna County has concern for the elderly in the community and offers programs and services to encourage healthy aging. The purpose of the JFS’s Older Adult Program Services is to “promote and preserve the dignity, self-respect and independence of the individual to the fullest extent possible.” One of these services is the Kosher Meals on Wheels program. KMOW delivers kosher meals for older persons who live at home in the Jewish community. The goal of the KMOW program is to provide balanced nutritional meals to those who temporarily or permanently would be unable to prepare them on their own. “Nutritious meals are important in preventing individuals from becoming ill and/or assisting people to recover from hospitalization,” explained a KMOW representative. The program’s meals are prepared at the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania under rabbinical supervision so clients
can continue to observe their religious dietary laws. When someone calls to receive KMOW, a social worker will make an appointment for a home visit to help evaluate and determine if additional services would be beneficial. Part of the evaluation is determining if the client is receiving all of the services available to older persons, such as transportation, or other programs of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging. If someone is needed to coordinate and arrange access to these services, JFS can help. KMOW can be paid for privately, or if financial assistance is needed to pay for the meals a JFS social worker will assist in making a referral to the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging. If an individual is
not eligible for the county program and is in need of home delivered meals, but unable to pay, JFS social workers can also assess the situation for financial assistance. The meals are delivered five days of the week by volunteers who are screened and trained by JFS. When a client lives outside of Scranton, special arrangements will be made to have the meals delivered. JFS also has an agreement with the Meals on Wheels program in Monroe County for the option to deliver KMOW there. Anybody who may benefit from Kosher Meals on Wheels, or who knows someone who may, should call Maggy Bushwick, older adult services coordinator, at 344-1186 or e-mail email@example.com to discuss additional details.
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A 65th anniversary commemorative journal will also be presented at the event. To place an ad or to make dinner reservations, call the day school at 3451576, ext. 2.
Jews in Uruguay
March 1.............................................5:36 pm March 8.............................................5:44 pm March 15........................................... 6:51 pm
First person accounts of how A look at Uruguay’s Jewish Composer Lalo Schifrin reflects the work of JDC in Ukraine and community, where its members find on his varied musical career and PLUS Venezuela benefits many lives. security as well as sandy beaches. compositions. Opinion...........................................................2 Story on page 5 Story on page 8 Story on page 11 D’var Torah.................................................10
THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
a matter of opinion Europe’s Hezbollah dilemma Reprinted with permission of Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) at www. israelnationalnews.com. The long-awaited results of the Bulgarian investigation into the Burgas terrorist bombing last July 18 has placed enormous pressure on the European Union to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization – a classification repeatedly called for by the U.S., Canada and Israel, but so far rejected by EU member states, except for the Netherlands, which has listed it as such since 2008. Hezbollah’s involvement in the Burgas tragedy should make European leaders rethink the standard excuses they have made to rationalize their lack of action against Hezbollah. One often-quoted EU excuse maintains that since Hezbollah in Lebanon has both a military aspect and a political/social aspect, clamping down on the former would cripple the latter and destabilize the Hezbollah-dominated government of the country. Since when did Hezbollah become a charitable organization like Oxfam or the Red Cross? As the Chicago Tribune pointed out recently: “Hezbollah’s idea of investing in the next generation is to acquire 50,000 missiles – more than many NATO members possess – and stockpile them in the immediate vicinity of schools and playgrounds. It doesn’t take a Nobel Peace Prize laureate to realize that this isn’t exactly a selfless humanitarian organization.” While this hairsplitting gives Hezbollah
the wiggle room it needs to carry on its nefarious activities in Europe, the argument has no validity, given that the EU’s terror list already includes Hamas, which won the Palestinian legislative elections in
from the desk of the executive director
“ The Reporter” (USPS #482) is published bi-weekly by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
President: Jeff Rubel Executive Director: Mark Silverberg Advisory Board Chair: Margaret Sheldon Executive Editor: Rabbi Rachel Esserman Layout Editor: Diana Sochor Assistant Editor: Michael Nassberg Production Coordinator: Jenn DePersis Graphic Artist: Alaina Cardarelli Advertising Representative: Bonnie Rozen
Opinions The views expressed in editorials and opinion pieces are those of each author and not necessarily the views of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Letters The Reporter welcomes letters on subjects of interest to the Jewish community. All letters must be signed and include a phone number. The editor may withhold the name upon request. ADS The Reporter does not necessarily endorse any advertised products and services. In addition, the paper is not responsible for the kashruth of any advertiser’s product or establishment. Deadline Regular deadline is two weeks prior to the publication date. Federation website: www.jewishnepa.org How to SUBMIT ARTICLES: Mail: 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (570) 346-6147 Phone: (570) 961-2300 How to reach the advertising Representative: Phone: (800) 779-7896, ext. 244 E-mail: email@example.com Subscription Information: Phone: (570) 961-2300
Mark silverberG 2006, as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and other radical organizations that are involved in their countries’ political systems. Given that the EU has already sanctioned individuals and entities “responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria,” there is no logical reason to exclude Hezbollah, as it clearly falls into this category given its continuing support of the Assad regime. This argument is especially specious given that Hezbollah’s second-in-command, Naim Qassem, has already rejected the British separation of his organization into political and military wings. Qassem told The Los Angeles Times in 2009, “The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work (in Lebanon) also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.” Stripping away all this double-speak, EU member states, most notably France and Germany, fear that proscribing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization could potentially lead to the activation of Hezbollah terror cells and retaliation across the continent. According to Matthew Levitt, the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s counterterrorism and intelligence
program, the Europeans are afraid to stir up a hornet’s nest. “Hezbollah” he writes, “is not very active in Europe and the Europeans feel that if you poke Hezbollah or Iran in the eye, they will do the same to you. If you leave them alone, then maybe they will leave you alone.” France is particularly apprehensive given the exposure of its UNIFIL forces in Lebanon to Hezbollah fire, and it is even more concerned that designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization would, once again, bring Hezbollah/Iranian-directed terrorism back to its streets. Their fear is not entirely unjustified. Millions of Muslim and Arab immigrants are emerging as a major political force in Europe and many sympathize with the Shi’ite organization’s war on the “infidels.” After all, Hezbollah was created by Iran in 1982 as a “weapon” to aggressively export the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic Revolution” among Shi’ites in Lebanon and Arab countries, and throughout Muslim immigrant communities in Europe. Even former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage considered Hezbollah the “A-Team of terrorism.” Prior to September 11, it had murdered more Americans than any other terrorist group and it has attempted and/or perpetrated terror attacks on its own and in conjunction with its Iran benefactors in Argentina, Britain, India, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Kenya, Cyprus, Israel, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, in addition to its illegal – albeit lucrative – activities in Latin America and West Africa. In the Middle East, it has acted as a proxy for the Syrian and Iranian regimes, receiving money and weapons from both in return for “services rendered,” including its complicity in the assassination of the anti-Syrian former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, in 2005. In July 2011, the United Nations
Special Tribunal indicted four senior Hezbollah members for the murder. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah called the four terrorists “brothers with an honorable past” and threatened that he would “cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to extradite them. In Europe, however, Hezbollah has maintained a relatively low profile since the mid-1990s, quietly holding meetings and raising money that goes directly to Lebanon, not only for building schools and clinics and delivering social services, but for financing its global terrorist activities against Israel on behalf of its Iranian masters. In January 2010, Der Spiegel noted that Hezbollah was “using drug trafficking in Europe to fund part of its activities.” In one case, the German police arrested two Lebanese citizens after they transferred “large sums of money to a family in Lebanon with connections to Hezbollah’s leadership.” German authorities also found 8.7 million euros in the bags of four other Lebanese men at the Frankfurt airport in 2008. The money contained traces of cocaine. Hezbollah operatives, using Europe as a base for money-laundering and fund-raising, are deployed throughout Belgium, Bosnia, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine, with an estimated 950 members in Germany alone, according to a 2011 report issued by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. While European security services maintain surveillance on Hezbollah’s political supporters, experts say they are ineffective when it comes to tracking Hezbollah sleeper or sabotage cells that pose the greatest danger. See “Dilemma” on page 6
Lessons today from Sophie Scholl’s anti-Nazi resistance By Jud Newborn (JTA) – Though Sophie Scholl and the students of the White Rose resistance were executed by the Nazis 70 years ago, the example they set of courage in the face of authoritarian repression is as relevant today as it was seven decades ago. Their crime: Daring to rouse the consciousness of their countrymen in the face of Nazi Germany’s destruction of all civil rights and its mass murder of European Jews. In 1933, when Sophie was 12 and her brother, Hans, was 15, the Scholl siblings rejected their Lutheran upbringing and their parents’ Christian humanism and instead embraced Hitler’s philosophy of racial superiority, becoming leaders in the Hitler Youth. But when Hans was arrested and convicted in 1938 for a same-sex relationship he had had three years earlier, when he was 16, the Scholls’ admiration for Hitler quickly ended. Gradually, they became activists against the Nazi cause. By 1942, the siblings were engaging in daring forms of nonviolent resistance. In May 1942, they dubbed themselves the White Rose and joined with a handful of friends at the University of Munich to produce what became a staccato burst of six impassioned anti-Nazi leaflets. Reproducing thousands in their secret headquarters over a nine-month period – ages before the pushbutton efficiency of the Internet – they made dangerous train trips to distribute the leaflets throughout Germany. They mailed them to 16 cities – Stuttgart, Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg among them – in a bid to mislead the Gestapo into thinking theirs was a broad-based movement and not just a handful of students. “Since the beginning of the war,” they declared in their second leaflet in June 1942,
“300,000 Jews have been murdered in the most bestial manner. This is a crime unparalleled in human history – a crime against the dignity of Man. But why do we tell you these things when you already know them? Everyone wants to be exonerated, but you cannot be, because everyone is guilty, guilty, guilty.” In their fourth leaflet, they wrote: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!” On February 18, 1943, Sophie and Hans climbed a high gallery at the University of Munich’s vast atrium. From there, they scattered hundreds of their sixth leaflet down upon the heads of astonished students below in what was called the only public protest by Germans against Nazism ever to be staged. Spotted almost immediately, they were arrested by the Gestapo and subjected to grueling interrogation. Sophie, Hans and their comrade Christoph Probst were tried in a show trial in Munich by Hitler’s “hanging judge,” Roland Freisler. They were condemned to death. Just four days after their arrest, the three were beheaded by guillotine. Hans was 24, Sophie 21. But their message lived on. Their last leaflet, smuggled out to the West, was dropped by the tons over Germany. Nobel laureate Thomas Mann broadcast back to Germany from American exile, praising the “splendid young people” who “at the time when Germany and Europe were still enveloped in the dark of night, knew and publicly declared” the ugly truth about Nazism in an attempt to bring about the “dawning” of a “new faith in freedom and honor.” Today, the White Rose students are icons in Germany. In a nationwide TV competition to choose the Top 10 most important Germans of all time, German voters chose
Sophie and Hans Scholl for fourth place – beating out Goethe, Gutenberg, Bach, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein. A German film, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, the same time that “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” was published. Its Hebrew edition just appeared in Israel in time for the 70th anniversary of their extraordinary protest and executions. Despite all this, the story of the White Rose resistance remains barely known by the general public outside Germany. But heroism like theirs is being replicated in countries around the world. There is Malala Yousafazai, the now-13-year-old Pakistani children’s rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October and now says she’s ready to fight on. There are the gays who struggle for equal rights in countries where they are despised and even put to death. There are Chinese dissidents like Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, but is languishing in a Chinese prison. Given the oppression, violence and threats such men and women face – and the costs they often are forced to pay – we who live in democracies owe it to them not to stay silent. “Somebody had to make a start,” Sophie Scholl told Freisler, looking the judge straight in the eye on that fateful day in February 1943. Seventy years on, we are still that somebody. Jud Newborn is co-author of “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose,” just published in Hebrew by Penn Publications. He also served as founding historian at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage. His website is judnewborn.posterous.com.
FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
community news Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute announces lecture on Jewish American popular culture to be held on March 7 The Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute of ing from Eddie Cantor to Jerry Seinfeld, the University of Scranton has announced but MacFarlane employed a different logic. a lecture by Matt Seinkiewicz, of Boston Seinkiewicz’ lecture will examine how Jews College, will be held on Thursday, March form a bridge between white privilege and the 7, at 7:30 pm, at the University of Scranton politically fraught world of humor targeting in the Brennan Auditorium. Seinkiewicz African-Americans, Muslims, homosexuals, will speak on “Just Strange Enough: Jews, women and the disabled. American Popular Culture and the Politics of The presentation will put MacFarlane’s Identity.” The lecture will be free and open statement into a broader context, probing the to the public. role Jews have played in the identity politics In a 2012 article in The New Yorker, “Family of recent American popular culture. Engaging Matt Sienkiewicz Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane faced a moment with examples ranging from “South Park” to of critical self-reflection. Confronted with “Veronica Mars,” the talk will illustrate the observations that his comedy strikes many as racist, ways in which mainstream entertainment has invoked homophobic and misogynist, he acknowledged that the in-between minority status of Jewish Americans in his work can cross lines of taste and respect. How- order to address complex, controversial and sometimes ever, MacFarlane passed responsibility to his writing offensive topics. Using a variety of clips and citations staff, noting that it is “in large part Jewish.” There is from popular sources, the presentation demonstrates a tradition of American-Jewish self-mockery stretch- the Jews’ ability to serve as a metaphor for other mi-
nority groups, as well as a conduit for racially-charged humor that would be otherwise deemed unacceptable. Featuring topics as serious as torture and as silly as Erik Cartman’s “Jewpacabra,” the presentation will provide perspective on the role of Jewish characters on the contemporary American screen. Sienkiewicz teaches courses in global media cultures and media theory. His research focuses on the West’s investment in Middle Eastern broadcasting initiatives, as well as portrayals of race and religion on the American screen. His publications include articles in The International Journal of Cultural Studies, Popular Communication, The Journal of Film and Video, The Velvet Light Trap and The Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. He is the co-editor of “Saturday Night Live and American Culture,” forthcoming from Indiana University Press in 2013. In addition to his work as a scholar, Sienkiewicz is also an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and screenwriter.
Annual Teen Symposium news Registration forms for the 25th Annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust have been mailed to all NEIU and several Pocono area and Luzerne County school superintendents and principals, along with hundreds of teachers in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. Several schools have already responded. Volunteers recently helped with both the mailing and preparing materials kits for the symposium. Organizers of the event expressed their gratitude to Jim and Antanine Kane, Katherine Burkavage, Susie Connors, Roz Rutta, Georgie Conrad and Rebecca Conrad. In addition to those volunteers, the kit preparations were later finished with the help of Carol and Bill Burke, Laura Santoski, Jim Connors, Tova Weiss and Phyllis and David Malinov.
Parents of students in grades eight-12 have been asked to make their children’s teachers aware of the program and of a downloadable registration form available on the front page of the http://jewishnepa.org website by clicking on the symposium announcement graphic. To request additional information, call Rae Magliocchi at 961-2300, ext. 4, or e-mail Mary Ann Answini at maryann. firstname.lastname@example.org, Weiss at email@example.com, or Magliocchi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
S E N I L D A E D The following are deadlines for all articles and photos for upcoming Reporter issues.
Volunteers worked on a mailing and then on packing materials kits for the Teen Symposium on the Holocaust. Left side, front to back: George Conrad, Rebecca Conrad and Antanine Kane. Right side: Katherine Burkavage, Susie Connors and Jim Kane. Not pictured: Roz Rutta and Tova Weiss.
Thursday, February 28........................ March 14 Thursday, March 14............................ March 28 Thursday, March 28............................. April 11 Thursday, April 11................................. April 25
Mostly Opera to hold “Love Stories” at the JCC on May 5 Professional singers from the Greater Scranton area will perform on Sunday, May 5, at 4 pm, as Mostly Opera presents “Love Stories” at the Jewish Community Center Theater, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton. Wearing costumes and makeup to give the appearance of an opera house, Mostly Opera will stage scenes from several works from well-known composers. Tickets will cost $25 per person. A complimentary reception will follow the performance. The program will start with the love duet from “Un ballo in maschera” by Verdi, sung by Barbara LiberaskyNowicki and Dennis Fanucci. It will be followed by the death of Scarpia from Puccini’s “Tosca,” sung by Julie Ziavras and Chuck Unice. The last act of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” a story of love and sacrifice, will be sung by Nicole Rideout, Vale Rideout and Larry Vojtko. Ellen Rutkowski will sing from “L’Italiana in Algeri” and Nicole Rideout will perform from “Don Pasquale.” Fanucci will sing a selection from “Werther,” and Sarah Houck and Eric Sparks will present the love duet from Janacek’s “Janufa.” The event will conclude with act three of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” with Sparks, Marcelle McGuirk, Unice and Jessica Dunleavy. Also appearing in the concert will be Cantor Marshall Wollkenstein with
an aria from “Ernani.” The orchestra will be conducted by Linda Houck. Stage direction and lighting will be done by Hélène Tinsley and Jim Langan. The president of Mostly Opera is Edwin Utan. To reserve a seat in advance, mail a check to Mostly Opera, 142 N. Washington Ave., Suite 800, Scranton, PA 18503. For additional information, call 346-3693.
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THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
It happened one night By Avi Ganz Last night, I volunteered as an EMT for (most of) an overnight shift on a Magen David Adom-Israel’s Red Cross ambulance in Jerusalem. Our team was chosen at random, as always: Yanir is a secular Israeli Jew and a paramedic. His family has been in Israel for at least the last 160 years. Before that: Turkey. Riding “shotgun” is Fadi, director of Jerusalem MDA volunteers. Fadi and his family have been in Israel for at least 200 years. They, too, came from Turkey. Many of his relatives have been living in Hebron for well more than 100 years. Fadi and his wife and children, as well as his parents and siblings, live in Beit Chanina, an Arab neighborhood in North Jerusalem. Fadi is an Arab. In the back with me was Harel, a freelancer who splits his time between his parents’ home in Elazar, Gush Etzion – a settlement – and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Raised Orthodox, he no longer wears a kippah but is a very active member of the Old City EMS team, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox one. Then there was me: American, haredi and wide-eyed. Together we treated Jews and Arabs, young and old, from different neighborhoods and different factions. Between calls, Yanir and Fadi discovered that each other’s ancestors may have been neighbors. There was also sadness and understanding when they realized that Yanir’s grandparents may have even been massacred by those of Fadi in the 1929 Hebron massacre, but there was no
finger-pointing. Fadi shared the great pride he has in the modern state of Israel; specifically, in its 1967 borders, as well as his concern for the current slaughter in Syria. His suggestion to Israel, “Go in to the Arab world,” “Make some seder (order),” and “When they settle down and start acting like human beings, Israel can leave them alone again.” I helped with an older woman whose Yiddish was better than her Hebrew. Fadi, of course, covered the Arabic. Yanir accused a police-woman of bias against Arabs when she wouldn’t help us to get our Arab patient to the hospital quicker and Fadi held him back stressing that this “had nothing to do with Arab/Israeli; the boy needs treatment now.” Harel, God bless him, was constantly making sure no one else had to do the annoying jobs: paperwork, clean-up or getting coffee. I was proud to be in Israel, proud to share that we can get along with those willing to get along and glad I had an opportunity to be a part of tonight’s team. By the way, it’s always like this. Avi Ganz, son of Jeff and Dassy Ganz, of Scranton, made aliyah in 2001. He lives with his wife and three daughters in Alon Shvut, Gush Etzion. When he is not volunteering as an EMT for Magen David Adom, he is the program director of Yeshivat Darkaynu, a year-in-Israel program for young men with special needs. For more information, visit www.Darkaynu.org.il. Gifts to the UJA-Federation bring help and support to Jews in Israel and the world. To donate, visit www.jewishnepa.org.
Avi Ganz stood in front of a Magen David Adom-Israel’s Red Cross ambulance in Jerusalem.
SAVE the DATE Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Blowing 1,000 shofars in hopes of finding a mate By Ben Sales AMUKAH, Israel (JTA) – They walked up a tree-lined path through stony hills to a square, white building – men in black hats, beards and frock coats; in T-shirts and jeans; in sweaters, slacks and velvet kippahs. They came by the hundreds – 19-year-olds looking for a match, 40-year-olds losing hope that they would ever find one, boys of 15 praying for the unmarried. They had come for a special ceremony: They would blow 1,000 shofars, encircle the building seven times and recite penitential prayers led by a master of Jewish mysticism. They would scream and they would sing. They had come to harness the power of a dead rabbi, Yonatan ben Uziel, a man they believed would intercede on their behalf in heaven, granting any Jew a match within the year – as long as they prayed at his tomb or paid a fee. “This is the bringing-together of all the strengths in the world,” said Meir Levy, a 40-year-old bachelor who had come to join the prayer service on January 27. “This is a very holy place.” A man in a light blue robe, red velvet hat and paisley sash approached the building’s courtyard. Volunteers distributed standardissue shofars to anyone who thought he could blow. The cardboard boxes full of rams’ horns emptied as the men stood at the ready, waiting for the robed man – the Kabbalah master Rabbi Yechiel Abuchatzeira – to begin the prayers. “The Abuchatzeira family is a family with many miracles,” said Eliyahu Hazan, 32, as he waited for the rabbi. “Their reputation speaks for itself. Everyone who goes to them gets results.” Holding a microphone against his white beard, Abuchatzeira chanted, “Prayer, repentance and charity push away the harsh decree!” and waited as the hundreds of men repeated the words taken from the High Holy Days liturgy. The scion of a family of famous Moroccan kabbalists, Abuchatzeira is the head of the Salvation in the Depths Foundation, which runs a yeshiva located in nearby Safed. The ceremony helps raise money for the yeshiva, and a man who answered the phone there recently explained the pricing structure: $36 per month for 18 months to have prayers recited at the tomb on someone’s behalf. Some of the students there wake up daily at 4 am to study Torah in Yonatan ben Uziel’s merit. Every Friday afternoon, they walk up the barely paved road through the forest to Amukah to welcome Shabbat with
A boy blew a shofar at the ceremony at the grave of Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel in a forest near Safed on January 27. (Photo by Ben Sales/JTA) a service at the rabbi’s tomb. In return, they hope, he will intercede with God. But the ceremony on this Sunday afternoon was no ordinary service. It was, in the words of a website dedicated to the event, a “rare and unique” occasion in which the kabbalah masters would perform an “extraordinary corrective measure [to open] all the seven spiritual gates that block your luck and enable you to find your soul mate and get married this year!” “Answer us, shield of David,” sang Abuchatzeira into the microphone, using a phrase usually reserved for the penitential prayers recited in the weeks leading up to Yom Kippur. “Answer us, He who answers at a time of mercy. Answer us, God of the chariot. Answer us, Yonatan ben Uziel.” The men holding the shofars repeated every line, following the rabbi as he walked in a circle through the tomb. Together they chanted the 13 attributes of God’s mercy. Then, on command, they raised their shofars and blew. It was a dissonant sound, the noise of hundreds of untrained shofar blowers. Some blew in staccato, others held the final note until they lost their breath. To the side, young boys in black hats, bused in from Safed, smirked at the proceedings. They repeated the ceremony six more times, then moved on to prayers specifically directed toward finding a match. These prayers of the “brokenhearted” asked for “a sensible match able to give birth,” for a “woman of valor, fearing God, possessing intelligence, with good values and good deeds.” Following the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish, the ceremony ended. “It’s not that you understand what’s happening, but it’s the fact that you’re participating, that you’re ready to take See “Shofars” on page 8
Men blew shofars to help the unmarried find matches at the ceremony at the grave of Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel in a forest near Safed on January 27. (Photo by Ben Sales/JTA)
6 PM at the Jewish Community Center
A Community Recognition of the SILVER ANNIVERSARY of the
TEEN SYMPOSIUM on the HOLOCAUST
Jewish Federation of NEPA
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FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
UJA Campaign Chai-lights
The JDC at work in Ukraine and Venezuela For Holocaust survivor, Hesed alleviates struggle of daily life Reprinted with permission of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Varlen [last name withheld], 82, can still remember the power of the Nazi’s boot kicking his side before he was sent into forced labor for the German war machine. He was only 13, but his experiences in German-occupied Kiev transformed his adolescence into a daily battle for survival that he still recounts in vivid detail. He can recall people anxiously fleeing their homes at the outset of the war as onlookers called them deserters. He has shared haunting memories of classmates from his Jewish school leaving for Babi Yar, never to return. And after poverty set in, he explained how he made his way to the market with his father’s shoes to barter for a bag of potatoes. For a child born into a family of Russian filmmakers, who grew up on sets absorbed in the magic of moviemaking, the images are still all too real. “Our family didn’t evacuate the city because we were waiting for my father, who was taken by the Gestapo. But, of course, he never returned. My mom was forced to work until she grew sick. I remained in Kiev, in the care of my grandmother, until 1943.” That’s when the Germans picked him up off the street and sent him to work, first within the city and later to Chelm, Poland. He escaped while out collecting firewood and hid in the forest until he was able to make his way back home. By then, the family’s house had been burned to the ground; his
mother and grandmother (who were hidden by Gentiles) had managed to survive. “I never thought I would live to age 82. To have lived through occupation still seems unbelievable because of how vicious those times were,” he said. Today, his life is a very different kind of struggle. After a 40-year-long career in safety and risk assessment at a Soviet aviation plant, Varlen had hoped for a pension that would allow him to live out his old age with security and dignity, but the collapse of the Soviet Union left pensioners in far more precarious circumstances. Like thousands of elderly Jews in Ukraine and throughout the former Soviet Union, Varlen relies on JDC’s Hesed social welfare programs for the vital services and material support that help him stretch his modest pension to the end of each month. These critical services for Holocaust survivors in the former Soviet Union are funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Varlen first heard about the Kiev Hesed from his neighbors, fellow Jews in the closeknit community who always celebrate the holidays together and are also part of the Hesed network. When his wife broke her hip and became bedbound, he turned to the Hesed for help taking care of her. “I got medical aid, diapers and everything I needed to ensure her comfort,” he said. With Hesed assistance, he took care of her for nine years before she passed away several years ago. In the living room corner of the home they shared for 55 years, he keeps a portrait of her with fresh flowers beside it to maintain her memory. Today, Varlen depends on Hesed for
his own well-being – services like home care, subsidized medication and a special debit card for purchasing food at his local supermarket. “Hesed keeps us alive,” Varlen said. “And that means we can be there for one another and remain a community in our old age.”
In Caracas, a Jewish community at a crossroads Reprinted with permission of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Facing a moment of significant change and challenges, the Jewish community of Venezuela is being steered through today’s realities by its dedicated leaders, with steadfast support from JDC. Anabella G. [last name withheld] is the executive director of Hebraica, the Jewish Community Center in Caracas, Venezuela. Since 2008, she has been the executive director of the Latin American Maccabi Confederation and as coordinator of the community’s Venezuela-Israel Committee. Regarded as “a keystone in the community’s rapid transition,” Anabella discussed the trials and surprises she has encountered in her role. JDC: Tell us a little bit about the makeup of Venezuela’s Jewish community. Where do its roots stem from and what are some of the institutions that make up the community today? AG: Ninety percent of Venezuela’s Jews live in Caracas. We have a Jewish school for kids ages 4-18 and a Jewish Community Center, called Hebraica, located on the same campus. We have a home for the elderly and a health and social services network operated by the community. In addition, we have a building called
Bet Am where many of the traditional institutions function, such as Wizo, B’nai Brith, Keren Kayemet, Yeshivot, Jewish Agency, etc. We also have yeshivot (religious schools). Our community is about 50 percent Ashkenazi, who came from Europe (Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania), largely in 1939, 1948 and in 1958; and 50 percent Sephardi, from places like Morocco, who have been here for more than 100 years. The community is not divided, however. The Ashkenazim and Sephardim co-own the school, the Hebraica JCC, the newspaper, the health services – everything that is part of the cultural make-up of the community or that provides services. They do religious things (e.g. synagogues, cemetery, chevra kadisha) separately because the traditions are different. All 18 of our synagogues are Orthodox, though some are more haredi than others. JDC: Venezuela seems to be going through an important historical moment. What are some of the recent changes your community has experienced? AG: Our community has shrunk significantly – 60 percent since the 1980s. Most of the youngsters are going away and most of the people who remain are over the age of 30. We have many institutions and buildings, and must downsize everything to adjust to our changing demographics. We are working with JDC to adjust to our new reality. JDC: JDC’s current role in Latin America includes providing communities like yours with community-building expertise, training, innovation and networking opportunities. What does that mean on a practical level? See “JDC” on page 12
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THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
Meet Brian Bendis, the man who killed Spider-Man
By Michael Orbach NEW YORK (JTA) – Spider-Man heroically dispatched countless foes since he arrived on the scene in 1962. Nearly a half-century later, Brian Michael Bendis managed to kill him. In 2000, Bendis was hired to write “Ultimate SpiderMan,” a modern-day retelling of the classic Spider-Man story. More than 10 years, 160 issues and several blockbuster Hollywood adaptations later, Bendis did the unthinkable, killing off the superhero’s famous alter ego, Peter Parker, and replacing him with a half-black, half-Hispanic 13-yearold named Miles Morales. The change received national attention. Glenn Beck said Morales looked like President Barack Obama – and not in a good way. Lou Dobbs didn’t like the change either, prompting Jon Stewart to quip that Morales represented Dobbs’ worst nightmare: “a Latino that can climb walls.” But Bendis is unrepentant. “Marvel is a representation of the real world,” Bendis
According to Alexander Ritzmann, a policy adviser at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, who testified before Congress on Hezbollah, “They have real, trained operatives in Europe that have not been used in a long time, but if they wanted them to become active, they could.” And therein lies the European dilemma. In 2007, James Phillips, writing for The Heritage Foundation, noted that Hezbollah terrorist attacks against Europeans began decades ago: “The October 1983 bombing of the French contingent of the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon (on the same day as the U.S. Marine barracks bombing), which killed 58 French paratroopers – the single worst French military loss since the end of the Algerian War in 1962; the December 1983 bombing of the French Embassy in Kuwait; the April 1985 bombing of a restaurant near a U.S. base in Madrid, Spain, which killed 18 Spanish citizens; a campaign of 13 bombings in France in 1986 that targeted shopping centers and railroad facilities, killing 13 people and wounding more than 250; and a March 1989 attempt to assassinate British novelist Salman Rushdie that failed when a bomb exploded prematurely, killing a terrorist in London.”
L-r: The final issue of the “Ultimate Spider-Man” featuring Peter Parker and the first issue featuring Miles Morales. (Photo courtesy Marvel Comics)
Author Eli Karmon of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya went even further: “In the negotiations concerning the end of the wave of Hezbollah/Iranian attacks in France, Iran’s main demands included the release of a number of Iranians detained in France on charges of terrorism; the renegotiation of a one billion dollar loan from Iran to France, frozen when French assets were seized by Iran during the 1979 revolution; and the cancellation of French weapons sales to Iraq. France surrendered on all fronts and all the terrorists were freed. In 1990, five Iranians, led by the Lebanese Anis Naccache, convicted 10 years earlier of trying to kill former Iranian Prime Minister Chapur Bakhtiar, were pardoned. In August 1991, in spite of its promise to stop terrorism on French soil, Tehran organized the successful assassination – in Paris – of the same Chapur Bakhtiar.” In the final analysis, however, while fear of reprisal is both psychologically understandable and perhaps even morally defensible, turning the other cheek will not deter and has never deterred this terrorist organization. The EU’s anti-terror policy cannot be based on the false hope that Hezbollah will try to avoid killing European bystanders at home and abroad as it carries out its terrorist attacks.
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explained from his home in Portland, OR. “The Marvel Universe takes place in New York. Miles lives in Brooklyn – it’s actually Brooklyn. That’s a huge difference going back to my time as a crime writer. The city becomes a character you’re writing about.” Bendis, 45, may be the most important comic book writer working today. He helped re-launch the Daredevil, SpiderMan and the Avengers franchises, and his titles typically sell more than 100,000 copies, making him among the most popular comic book writers in the world. “Brian is a unique and important voice in modern comics,” said Danny Fingeroth, a longtime Marvel editor and the author of “The Stan Lee Universe.” “He displays a profound understanding of, and respect for, the histories of the characters and their universe, but understands that they have to be updated for a modern readership.” Raised by a single mother in Cleveland, Bendis attended an Orthodox day school and discovered comic books as See “Spider-Man” on page 14
Continued from page 2 Without a strong reaction to the Burgas attack, Hezbollah will understand that it can attack any group with impunity so long as it is feared. Freezing Hezbollah assets and bank accounts in Europe and imposing EU sanctions would deprive the organization of its European funding sources and operational freedom. It would facilitate cross-border cooperation in apprehending and arresting Hezbollah operatives in Europe, and Hezbollah recruiters and operatives would be denied crucial entry to European countries. Weakening Hezbollah, which is already terrified by the prospect of losing its Syrian ally, not to mention regional isolation and facing a strategic dismemberment, would advance the EU’s policy goals in the Middle East. It would also be a blow to Assad’s regime and increase the chances of re-establishing a truly democratic Lebanon free of Hezbollah’s political and military stranglehold, not to mention a strategic victory over Iran and its plan for Shi’ite hegemony in the Middle East. Alternatively, the failure to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization will provide it with the opportunity to further organize, recruit, raise funds and carry out additional terrorist attacks across the European continent and throughout the world. At this point, it should be clear to the Europeans, based upon their past experience, that terrorism cannot be appeased, nor can organizations that perpetrate it be defeated, unless and until their supporting infrastructures have been shut down, especially their political and financial front organizations. Europe’s anti-terrorism policy should not be based on the false hope that, if left alone, Hezbollah will better calibrate its future terror attacks to avoid hurting European bystanders. This attitude is no different from that expressed by Winston Churchill when he said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” The Hezbollah crocodile has already consumed half of Lebanon and has sown seeds of destruction around the world. Contrary to their prevailing attitude, the Europeans will not be the last to be eaten. They will be among Hezbollah’s first victims. Europe wants to treat Hezbollah as a legitimate political organization, but the organization’s activities and history place it squarely outside the realm of legitimacy. So long as Europe remains blind to this reality and allows the “Party of God” to conduct business as usual throughout Europe, it is guilty not just of hypocrisy, but of passive complicity in Hezbollah’s attacks on innocent civilians. Inaction on the part of the EU will transform Europe into a free-fire zone and Europeans will not be exempt from the slaughters that will ensue, regardless of how long they continue to bury their heads in the sand. Mark Silverberg is a featured writer for the Ariel Center for Policy Research, Israel (www.acpr.org.il).
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FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
israel under the radar
Rabbinical bourekas dictum, underhanded paint job and a checkpoint marriage proposal By Marcy Oster JERUSALEM (JTA) – Here are some stories from Israel that you may have missed: Rabbis dictating boureka shapes If it’s a triangle, it must be cheese. That’s what the Chief Rabbinate wants Israelis shopping for bourekas to know when they pick up the ubiquitous flaky pastry. In response to kosher consumers who have accidentally violated the laws of kashrut because they did not know if a boureka contained cheese or meat, the rabbinate reportedly called a meeting of Israeli pastry chefs to discuss standardizing the shapes of bourekas according to their filling. The rabbinate, which is expected to rule on an official policy in the near future, also said that food allergies and lactose intolerance were a consideration in the movement to standardization. Unacceptable “schlemielism” in Tel Aviv Hila Ben Baruch was painted into a corner and came out swinging. Ben Baruch recently parked her car in a legal space near her central Tel Aviv apartment, but returned to find the spot repainted for use by the handicapped – and her vehicle towed. She threatened to sue the city for ordering her to pay a fine and the cost of towing to recover her car. Ben Baruch had a strong case: A surveillance camera recording documented the space’s transition and she posted it on Facebook. The municipality returned the vehicle for free and offered an apology. “This was indeed a serious error and schlemielism that is unacceptable to the Tel AvivJaffa municipality,” the city said in a statement, according to Haaretz. Ben Baruch says she still plans to sue the city to recover damages for her mental distress. Regardless of any compensation she receives, the prime parking spot is gone – a tough loss in Tel Aviv. Operation marriage proposal A Jewish settler from Har Bracha recruited soldiers manning a nearby West Bank checkpoint to help him with an unusual marriage proposal. Nir Shamir, 26, had to request the cooperation of the Defense Ministry, the Border Crossing Authority, the troops stationed at the checkpoint and their commanding officer to pull off the stunt. The ruse? The couple would be pulled over in Shamir’s car and accused of being involved in a hit-and-run accident involving a Palestinian child. Shamir had pilfered the national ID card of his girlfriend, Sara Toshinsky, and the soldiers would say they had found it at the scene. The soldiers took Toshinsky, 23, for questioning and then led her to an area overlooking the Samarian hills near the checkpoint where Shamir, who uses a wheelchair, had set up a red carpet with flower petals, candles and fluffy pillows. A sign lit up in fire read “Will You Marry Me?” Toshinsky told Yediot Achronot that she “did not suspect a thing. Another second and you would have had to hospitalize me.” The couple enjoyed the atmosphere for about an hour after the proposal, Yediot reported, accepting the congratulations of the soldiers who passed by. Investment advice from the rebbe? The Chabad-Lubavitch movement wants to take the shine off a mining company using the late rebbe’s words to push its exploration for diamonds near Haifa. The movement says the Shefa Yamim Exploration and Mining company is twisting the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Haaretz reported. According to Shefa Yamim, the rebbe in a 1988 conversation with a businessman said he told the then-mayor of Haifa, Arie Gurel, “In Haifa, there is a sea. One shouldn’t become intimidated by something that is deep. This is the uniqueness of Haifa – that it has a sea and that there is a valley and in the valley are precious stones and gems. The Holy One, blessed be He, did a wondrous thing; He concealed them in the depths of the earth, and in any case, in the depth of the river...”
A security video showing Hila Ben Baruch's car being towed after the legal space it was parked in was switched to a handicapped space. (Photo by Facebook) Shefa presented the statement recently to investors, according to Haaretz. Chabad sources told the newspaper that the rebbe meant his words spiritually and the company using the rebbe to attract investors is “deception.” The company’s profile on its website says its explorations
in the Haifa area have turned up “a number of volcanic bodies, including some with demonstrated kimberlitic (diamond-bearing) signatures.” The profile also states that the explorations have yielded “Hundreds of precious stones: sapphire, ruby, moissanite, various corundum, colorless zircon, as well as 77 micro and macro diamonds.” The company recently announced that it found a 5.72-carat sapphire. Israelis’ Hebrew woes Have a hard time reading and writing Hebrew? Don’t feel bad: So do more than one-quarter of Israelis. Some 27 percent of Israelis age 20 and older have trouble filling out forms or writing a letter in Hebrew, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The figure includes 45 percent of Israeli Arabs and 60 percent of immigrants from the states of the former Soviet Union. According to the survey, Hebrew is the native language of 49 percent of Israelis older than 20. The other native languages are Arabic, at 18 percent; Russian, 15 percent; and Yiddish, French and English, each with 2 percent. Nearly 100 percent of Israeli Arabs speak Arabic at home, the survey found, and 88 percent of Russian-speaking immigrants speak Russian at home.
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THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
In Uruguay, Jews find security and sandy beaches
By Diego Melamed PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay (JTA) – Known across South America as a beach oasis for the elite, and more recently as the site of Donald Trump’s first residential development on the continent, Punta del Este has long seduced visitors with its beaches and luxury accommodations. But in recent years, the town also has emerged as a premier Jewish destination during the South American summer months, from January to March. Hundreds attend Shabbat services at the city’s Beit Meir Temple. Punta del Este has a Jewish film festival, a sumptuous mansion offering low-cost accommodations to Israeli backpackers and Sabbath elevators in luxury high-rises. Uruguay’s first kosher pizza restaurant opened here in January. And alongside promotional banners flown daily by airplanes above the beach is one sponsored by the local Chabad rabbi displaying the time for lighting Sabbath candles. “We love coming and meeting old and new Jewish friends, and we also love the beaches,” said Roberta Iavelberg of Sao Paulo, an employee of the Jewish Confederation of Brazil, or CONIB, the community’s main umbrella group. Situated on Uruguay’s southern coast about two hours east of the capital Montevideo, the city has long drawn visitors for its pleasant weather and sandy white beaches. But for Latin American Jews, many of whom live with constant concerns about personal security, the city’s tranquility and safety are key parts of the city’s appeal. According to the Global Peace Index 2012, which measures a country’s relative peacefulness, Uruguay ranks higher than Brazil and Argentina, home to the region’s largest Jewish community. With only one road into Punta del Este, it’s somewhat
Shofars part and do the right thing,” said Andre Levy, an anthropologist at Ben-Gurion University and an expert on the tradition of praying at the graves of the righteous. “In this model, you’re not supposed to understand. Your participation will make everything be accepted.” Cryptic ceremonies like these are especially appropriate at the graves of rabbis, Levy said, because the souls of the rabbis help transmit the worshipers’ requests to God. “In Judaism and Islam, there’s no
easier to control crime. “Not in all cities of the region can [Jews] have a life as quiet as here,” said Monica Barrios Hernandez, coordinator of the tourism department. “There is a lot of peace, security. And the Orthodox Jews can dress in their customs both on the beach and to the temple, and nobody ever bothers them here.” The Jewish presence in Punta del Este has grown dramatically in recent years, but it can be traced to Argentinian businessman Mauricio Litman, who created the Cantegrill Country Club here in 1950, followed a year later by the launch of the Punta del Este International Film Festival, which raised the city’s profile abroad. In 1959, Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir hosted a meeting in Punta del Este for Israeli ambassadors throughout Latin America. In the 1960s, Jewish developers and architects began to build here. Weiss-Sztryk-Weiss, a Jewish construction firm, started in the 1970s. The Atijas family, also Jewish, split from Weiss and started its own firm. Both companies had a huge influence on the city’s development. In the 1980s and ‘90s, middle-class Argentinians began vacationing here. “The city is a profitable investment and many people from the Jewish community throughout the region who have great abilities to analyze different investment scenarios have opted for this city,” said Nestor Sztryk, the director of Weiss-Sztryk-Weiss, which is developing eight residential buildings in the city. “It is also a place that offers quality of life, quietness and freedom with which those in Argentina or Brazil who live with insecurity can enjoy here, without fear for their children and belongings.” Punta del Este, which has a year-round population of just over 9,000, has four synagogues. Estimates of the Jewish in-
Continued from page 1
mediator between you and God,” he said. “You are totally exposed to God, which is a difficult thought, and you need a go-between. People find solutions in the character of a righteous person.” Levy said that despite their financial gain, rabbis like Abuchatzeira generally have genuine faith in their religious acts. But for singles like Hazan, there is added reason to believe. “I want to build a home in Israel,” Hazan said. “There’s nothing to lose.”
flux during the summer range from 25,000 to 50,000 in a country with a population of 3.3 million, including approximately 17,000 Jews. As the summer season began in early January, so did the cultural offerings targeting Jewish visitors. Despite the allure of a beautiful, sunny day, more than 650 chose to attend a discussion at the Conrad Hotel about challenges facing Israel. And a book launch for Sergio Bergman, the first rabbi to be elected to public office in Argentina, attracted 900 participants interested in his writings about Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed on January 18, and Israeli universities and philanthropies routinely organize events here. In February, the 10th annual Jewish Film Festival will open with support from Jewish groups from Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as the Uruguayan government. “Jews always looked for liberty and here we have this,” said Wilson Tobal, 78, who owns high-end furniture stores here and in Buenos Aires. “More than that, high-class Jews from Brazil and Argentina have more security here, so they can relax, enjoy time with their kids on the streets without fear and celebrate their Judaism at local temples. In both Argentina and Brazil, there are guards at the temples. Here we celebrate Shabbat ceremonies with open gates and nothing has ever happened.” The first Chabad emissary arrived in Punta del Este in 1985. The Chasidic outreach group converted a mansion into a hostel, Yaacob House, where Israeli backpackers and local Jews can find accommodations for just $20 per night in a neighborhood where houses typically cost around $2 million. “We also offer Shabbat services and meals for young people who spend their summer in villages in Punta del Diablo and Jose Ignacio,” said Rabbi Elieser Shemtov, referring to two beach towns further up the coast. “Tourism in Uruguay is expanding eastward and so is Chabad.” With Argentina’s financial crisis of the late 1990s, many middle-class Jews left for Europe and the United States. Some, however, came here for more economic and physical security. One was Yael Cohen, who emigrated with her husband after they were kidnapped and
Mendy Shemtov, the son of the director of the Chabad House in Punta del Este, Uruguay, greeted a visitor at Mansa Beach. (Photo courtesy Jabad Lubavitch Punta del Este) assaulted by thieves. She sold her pharmacy in Buenos Aires and bought another in Punta del Este, where she now resides. “We saw crimes on TV and when it happened to us, we decided to look for a more quiet life,” Cohen told JTA. “Here we are calm and happy.” Last year, architect Daniel Weiss became the first president of Cantergril, the country club started by Litman, when he was elected to a two-year term. In late January, in the latest sign of the Jewish imprint here, Argentinian Samuel Liberman announced he was building a $600 million hotel and shopping center – a sum six times as much as the complex being planned by Trump. The Jewish institutional presence has grown, too, as it has elsewhere in Latin America in recent years. The Comunidad Israelita de Punta del Este, or CIPEMU, was created in 2005 and now counts 800 members. A new school, Nefesh, was launched last year. And a yeshiva is being planned with support from Jewish families from Argentina and Brazil. “I’m very moved right now,” said Johanna Cohen, an Argentinian who was walking to Friday night services recently with her two daughters, “walking on this costal street going to the temple with all these people who share history and values.”
R a b b i Ye c h i e l Abuchatzeira, a master of Jewish mysticism, led the ceremony at the grave of Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel in a forest near Safed on January 27. (Photo by Ben Sales/JTA) A small airplane flew above Punte del Este with a sign that read “Shabbat Shalom” and the time Shabbat began. (Photo courtesy Jabad Lubavitch Punta del Este)
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FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
d’var torah ABINGTON TORAH CENTER
Rabbi Dovid Saks President: Richard Rutta Jewish Heritage Connection 108 North Abington Rd., Clarks Summit, PA 18411 570-346-1321 • Website: www.jewishheritageconnection.org Sunday morning services at 8:30 am Call for other scheduled services throughout the week.
BETH SHALOM CONGREGATION
Rabbi Yisroel Brotsky 1025 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510, (corner of Vine & Clay Ave.) 570-346-0502 • fax: 570-346-8800 Weekday – Shacharit: Sun 8 am; Mon, Thurs. & Rosh Chodesh, 6:30 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 6:45 am; Sat & Holidays, 8:45 am. Mincha during the week is approx. 10 minutes before sunset, followed by Maariv.
BICHOR CHOLEM CONGREGATION/ CHABAD OF THE ABINGTONS Rabbi Benny Rapoport President: Richard I. Schwartz 216 Miller Road, Waverly, PA 18471 570-587-3300 • Website: www.JewishNEPA.com Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am. Call or visit us online for our bi-weekly schedule
CHABAD LUBAVITCH OF THE POCONOS Rabbi Mendel Bendet 570-420-8655 • Website: www.chabadpoconos.com Please contact us for schedules and locations.
CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Allan L. Smith President: Henry M. Skier Contact Person: Ben Schnessel, Esq. (570) 222-3020 615 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 570-253-2222 • fax: 570-226-1105
CONGREGATION B’NAI HARIM
Affiliation: Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum President: Phyllis Miller P.O. Box 757 Sullivan Rd., Pocono Pines, PA 18350 (located at RT 940 and Pocono Crest Rd at Sullivan Trail 570-646-0100 • Website: www.bnaiharimpoconos.org Shabbat Morning Services, 10 am – noon; every other Saturday Potluck Shabbat Dinner with blessings and program of varying topics, one Friday every month – call for schedule.
JEWISH FELLOWSHIP OF HEMLOCK FARMS
Rabbi Steve Nathan President: Steve Natt Forest Drive 1516 Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA 18428 570-775-7497 • E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday evening Shabbat service 7:30 pm, Saturday morning Shabbat Service 9:30 am.
MACHZIKEH HADAS SYNAGOGUE Rabbi Mordechai Fine President: Dr. Shaya Barax 600 Monroe Ave., Scranton, PA 18510 570-342-6271
OHEV ZEDEK CONGREGATION
Rabbi Mordechai Fine 1432 Mulberry St, Scranton, PA 18510 Contact person: Michael Mellner - 570-343-3183
Union of Reform Judaism Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz President: Eric Weinberg 1 Knox Street, Scranton, PA 18505, (off Lake Scranton Rd.) 570-344-7201 Friday evening Shabbat, 8 pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 11:15 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF DUNMORE
President: Isadore Steckel 515 East Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512 Saturday morning Shabbat 7:30 am; also services for Yizkor
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF THE POCONOS
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Baruch Melman President: Suzanne Tremper Contact person: Art Glantz 570-424-7876 711 Wallace St., Stroudsburg, PA, 18360 (one block off Rte. 191 (5th Street) at Avenue A) 570-421-8781 • Website: www.templeisraelofthepoconos.org E-Mail: email@example.com Friday evening Shabbat, 8pm; Saturday morning Shabbat, 9 am
TEMPLE ISRAEL OF SCRANTON
Affiliation: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Moshe Saks President: Michael Mardo 918 East Gibson St., Scranton, PA, 18510 (located at the corner of Gibson & Monroe Sts.) 570-342-0350 Fax: 570-342-7250 • E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday, 8 am; Mon & Thurs, 7:15 am; Tue, Wed & Fri, 7:25 am; Rosh Hodesh & Chagim weekdays, 7 am; Shabbat Morning Service, 8:45 am; evening services: Sun – Thurs, 5:45 pm; Friday Shabbat and Saturday Havdalah services, call for times.
Communal responsibility by RABBI ALLEN SAKS, PRINCIPAL, HILLEL ACADEMY OF BROOME COUNTY Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35 The Torah teaches that one is not allowed to count the Jewish people in the ordinary manner and when it was necessary to conduct a census, it would be done by having the people contribute items, which would then be counted. In this case, Moses instructs the people to bring a half shekel. “This they shall give – everyone who passes through the census – a half shekel.” However, Moses continues with additional instructions. He adds that no matter if one is rich or poor, you will only bring the half shekel. The collection of these half shekels were used for the eventual construction of the holy Tabernacle. One could ask, if Moses wanted to raise money for the construction of the Tabernacle that would serve the needs of the entire community, why would he not allow those who were rich to donate more and make those who could not even afford to give, give at least a half shekel? The Talmud in tractate Bava Batra states that the status of the Jewish people is elevated by its contributions to charitable causes. This concept is indicated by the literal meaning of the commandment in verse 12, “When you elevate the heads of the Children of Israel,” implying that
Such services are why houses of worship should be as eligible as other community service organizations, says Nathan Diament, who helms the Orthodox Union’s Washington operation. “Already among the private nonprofits eligible for FEMA’s aid are community centers, and FEMA’s definition of community centers are places where people gather to engage in educational and social and enrichment activities,” Diament said. “FEMA then decided on its own that if those activities are done in a house of worship, they are not eligible. What we are seeking to legislate is government neutrality and equal treatment.” Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), whose congressional district includes much of the borough of Queens, co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Chris Smith (R-NY). In an interview, Meng said she co-sponsored the bill because some 200 institutions in the New York-New Jersey region had been devastated but were still providing critical relief for neighbors. “They were one of the first ones to open up their doors and feed people at the same time their electricity was out or their floors were ruined,” Meng told JTA. The Orthodox Union has estimated that some 60 to 70 synagogues in New York and New Jersey of all denominations have been affected. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), whose district covers much of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, vociferously opposes the bill, which he said would amount to government funding of religion. “This bill would direct federal taxpayer dollars to the reconstruction of houses of worship,” Nadler said in remarks quoted by NY1, a cable news channel. “The idea that taxpayer money can be used to build a religious sanctuary or an
the function of these contributions was not only to facilitate a census and to build a tabernacle, but to raise the level of the contributors. Rabbi Shimshon Repheal Hirsch comments that equal participation of all the people symbolizes that all Jews must share in achieving the national goals. If one gives up a selfish interest in giving for the sake of the greater good of the community, than he gains infinite benefit, because the success of the community is dependent on its unity. All too often, when Jewish institutions raise funds, they rely upon the generosity of a few individuals to help them achieve their goal. How much better could each worthy institution benefit if we could follow the model that Moses taught us as we traveled in the desert? If each individual would take on the responsibility of contributing at least their own half skekel, our communal institutions would be that much better off. There is a great power in the unity of a nation striving toward a common goal. When everyone joins in a constructive cause, the spiritual merits of all the individuals become merged, as it were, so not only their funds, but their personal attainments come together to assist one another. If we all take on the responsibility of communal needs, this will in turn strengthen the community. Continued from page 1 altar has consistently been held unconstitutional.” Those concerns were echoed by the ADL in its statement issued on January 4. “Houses of worship are special – not like other nonprofits and not like other buildings,” it said. “They receive special constitutional protections from government interference, special tax-exempt benefits for contributions and have special restrictions that prohibit direct public funding.” Such concerns, also expressed by the American Civil Liberties Union, are misplaced, according to Marc Stern, AJC’s associate general counsel. He noted FEMA-directed relief for a church damaged in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a neighboring federal building, as well as relief for a Jewish day school hit in the 2001 Seattle earthquake. “The ACLU-ADL position is a little bit odd,” he said. “You can pay for rebuilding a zoo, but houses of worship are not eligible.” FEMA in its briefing for lawmakers said the precedents cited by Stern and others do not hold in this case. In the Oklahoma City case, the agency said, the congressional appropriation made it clear that the funding for the damaged church was a one-time exception. In the Seattle case, the money was applied to a school, not a house of worship. “In contrast, a house of worship such as a synagogue is not an educational facility, nor does it fall within one of the other categories of facility specifically listed” under prior law, FEMA said. Meng said FEMA easily could assess whether a house of worship was seeking funds to advance religion or to provide a community service in the same way it assesses whether homeowners are eligible.
e D h a t e v a S Chayalee andtes! the Chocolate Factory
Bais Yaakov's annual play and melava malka, for ladies and girls: First showing: Saturday evening, March 2nd, at 8:30 PM; second showing: Sunday, March 3rd, at 1:00 PM, Beth Shalom Social Hall at the corner of Clay Avenue and Vine Street, Scranton Come for a fun filled, "sweet" evening and afternoon!
Bais Yaakov Brunch! Sunday, March 4th, 2013, 11:00 AM, at The Jewish Home of Eastern PA Auditorium. Presenting a Mary Kay cosmetic demonstration and sale by Mrs. Adina Harkavy. Beautiful 100% human hair wigs, ranging from $475 and up (none higher then $1200) by Aziza and Zissi. Styling done on the premises by Bassie Halton. 25% discount on new cut. Get a new wig for Pesach! For when you want to be comfortable, and for a casual look, a huge selection of snoods at discounted prices will also be on sale.
Bais Yaakov Annual Dinner Monday, May 27, 2013, Memorial Day, at the Jewish Community Center.
FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
At 80, famed Argentinian Jewish composer still on a “mission” By Matt Robinson JNS.org Best known for composing the classic theme to “Mission: Impossible,” Lalo Schifrin believes that his first composition was commissioned when he was just 15, by a synagogue in Buenos Aires. “It was a cantata for a piano, chorus and orchestra based on one of the segments of the Bible,” Schifrin said in an interview with JNS.org, noting that the specific passage was “Thou shalt not make war anymore.” In the years since, the Argentinian Jewish composer, conductor and musician – now 80 – has composed more than 60 orchestral pieces, including for such dignitaries as the last monarch of Hawaii and the sultan of Oman. He has also served as conductor and musical director for famed international orchestras, including the London Symphony and Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Israel Philharmonic. Schifrin is also a legendary contributor to the jazz world. Collaborators have included Dizzy Gillespie (who originally asked Schifrin to serve as his pianist), Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Count Basie and James Moody. So what can this 20-time Grammy nominee and six-time Oscar nominee do for an encore? The answer lies in Schifrin’s recently released four-CD, career-spanning box set. “Lalo Schifrin: My Life in Music,” from Schifrin’s own Aleph Records, includes nearly 75 tracks and features many previously unreleased takes from such beloved Schifrin scores as the themes to “Coogan’s Bluff” and “Joe Kidd.” From classical to jazz to vocal compositions, this new compilation offers a window into the creative mind of one of the world’s most prolific and well-known composers – and hints at what might still come in the years ahead. The name of Schifrin’s label is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Schifrin noted that the name also comes from the title of a short story, “The Aleph,” by South American literary giant Jorge Luis Borges. “Aleph is the point where all the things in the world get together,” Schifrin. “My music has many parts – classical, jazz, folk music – so that is where it all comes together.” Schifrin reflected on his childhood in Buenos Aires with JNS.org. “My father was concertmaster of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra,” he explained, noting that he grew up just steps from the famed Theatre Colon. “There
Lalo Schifrin in concert with the Big Band of the Kölner Musikhochschule on July 7, 2006, in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Alexandra Spürk) was opera and ballet there, too, and he would take me to the rehearsals, the concerts and the recitals.” In addition to being able to meet the performers, Schifrin was also given audience with such great conductors as Toscanini, among others. “I was moved by their performances,” recalled Schifrin, who began his own music lessons at the age of 5. “Piano was my instrument,” he said. Soon thereafter, Schifrin was granted a scholarship to the Paris Conservatory of Music. It was there that his musical proclivities expanded out of the realm of classical and into the world of jazz. “I started to play more jazz because near the place where I was living, there were jazz clubs and I met jazz musicians,” he said. Schifrin’s first interest was classical music, but when he discovered jazz he “became addicted to it.” “I liked the fact that it was improvisational,” he said. “I did like to improvise before, but I couldn’t find a vehicle for it, so it was very appealing to me.” Among Schifrin’s early favorites were such giants as Charlie Parker, Gillespie and, as he put it, “all the modern jazz people” like Miles Davis and George Shearing. “All of them I loved,” Schifrin said. “I listened to records and tired to copy the solos, and then I made my own solos.” Upon his return to Argentina, Schifrin put together his
PA S SOVER 2013 Greetings
own jazz band and began to perform on radio and television. “That gave me a lot of exposure,” he said, noting that his first film score gig came from a director who had seen and heard him on television. That film, “El Jefe” (“The Chief”), started Schifrin’s streak of renowned film scores, many of which are included in his collection. Schifrin claims to not have “favorite” pieces. “I like everything I do,” he said, noting that, for any given concert, he does not have a predetermined set list, preferring instead to “draw from my entire catalog.” But he has especially enjoyed scoring films for his son, Ryan. “I must tell you that working with him is very beautiful,” Schifrin said, “because when I work with him, I am not thinking that he is my son. He is a great director and I hope he keeps calling me to write for him.” As he has performed in many diverse styles, it may be difficult to determine a “Schifrin” sound. Even Schifrin himself said there is no such thing. “I do not have a ‘sound,’” he said. “I do whatever is necessary for the project.” Crediting his ability to serve the score to his “open mind” and his “really good teachers,” Schifrin said that, as with all other creative artists, when he has something to say, he finds a vehicle through which to say it. “If I have something to say,” he said, “music is my way to say it.” As he has no one “sound” and has amassed a catalog including hundreds of compositions for everything from solo piano to jazz trio to symphony orchestra, Schifrin has often had difficulty finding a vehicle to distribute and organize his copious catalog. That is why he and his family founded their label, Aleph Records. “I am active in so many aspects of music,” Schifrin said. “There was no record company that could [handle it all].” With a family supportive of his music, Schifrin had no trouble allowing his wife, Donna, to suggest the tracks for the new collection. “She really helped me. Because I have so many things, it was really impossible for me to start from the top,” he said. “She started and then gave it to me for approval.” While Schifrin admits that he was “surprised” with some of the selections, he gratefully acknowledges those surprises and all the music he rediscovered in the process of compiling the new set. “In some cases, I was really surprised what I had written, but in the end, I knew what it was about,” he said.
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Continued from page 5
AG: When you have someone from outside who can come in and examine your community’s situation – professionals who have gone through something similar in another place, for example – it is very valuable. For instance, in Argentina, following the economic crisis there was a need to downsize the community. JDC’s professionals who helped handle that crisis bring us expertise and can facilitate our decision-making. We have to make really tough choices. We have empty buildings in the community now that we are trying to sell. We need to relocate services. JDC is giving us the security and the confidence that we are doing the right thing, which makes it easier to make the decision. JDC is with us through this whole process and helps give us the strength to go ahead. It’s important to understand we are not talking about individual leaders, but the fate of the whole community, which was created by our ancestors and is deeply loved. It is very painful to have to close this or sell that. It is very difficult. JDC: How do you connect with other Jewish communities in Latin America? AG: We are well-connected because we all speak the same language and are a lot alike. We all share a deep sense of solidarity.
“Jewish Artists in America” exhibit
The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia will hold the exhibit “Jewish Artists in America 1925-1945: Selections from the Collection of Steven and Stephanie Wasser” through June 2. The exhibition will feature 21 paintings and prints, including work by American Jewish artists who participated in the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era program that supported artists and other workers in troubled times. The artists chronicled the city streets, labor conditions and private moments that made up the realities of life in America in the 1930s and 1940s. Among the paintings and prints featured are Julius Bloch’s “The Emigrants,” Aaron Berkman’s “Subway,” Louis Ribak’s “City Rooftops,” Raphael Soyer’s “Woman Knitting” and Saul Steinberg’s “One Summer Night.” For more information, visit www.nmajh. org/specialexhibitions or call 215-9233811.
For example, following the AMIA bombing in Argentina, we all came and stood together. We do this whenever critical events occur in any of our communities. We have a large network of professionals across Latin America who are all connected through leadership seminars, shared experiences in Israel and the like, many of which are facilitated by JDC. We have regional sports activities that bring us together as well. And of course we have the Encuentro conference. JDC: What is the importance for you of an event like the Encuentro – JDC’s regional convention that brings Latin American leaders of Jewish communities together to network and enrich one another? AG: It’s very important. First, because we have to recognize what we do have. We are isolated here so it is incredibly important that we see that we are not alone, that we are a part of a larger Jewish world. This last Encuentro in Quito, Ecuador, attracted 500 people (100 of them young leaders) from 22 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean for programming on every possible Jewish issue. It was incredible. It is very important in helping us share and learn. We have one Hebraica JCC in Caracas, while Buenos Aires has 42. At the Encuentro, we take the opportunity to speak with each other and see what other JCCs in Latin America are doing, what we can learn and how we can advance using others’ innovative ideas and models. It also enables us to get acquainted with intellectuals who may not reach our country, but who speak for the future of the Jewish people. Their perspective of a global vision of the Jewish people is very enriching for us as professionals. JDC: You personally have a long history of leadership in the Caracas community and an even longer history of participation. What is your Jewish background and story? AG: I’m a first generation Venezuelan. My mother’s parents escaped from Romania before the war and she was born in Trinidad; my father came from Romania. They met in Caracas. My father was always a leader in the community. He created the psychology department of the Jewish school and was always involved in the Jewish and Zionist Federations. So I learned a lot about Jewishness and community leadership in my home. I’ve been involved in leadership activities since I was in school and then started participating at Hebraica. Eventually, I became a director – first of the Israeli dance department, then the social and cultural department, and then the activities depart-
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ment. Since 1993, I’ve been the executive director of Hebraica. From 2008, I’ve also been director of the Latin American Maccabi Confederation, which is involved with the region’s JCCs and belongs to the Maccabi World Union. In this role, I develop activities for young people with various Latin American Jewish communities. I was coached by JDC when I took the executive director role at the JCC, and from 2009-11, I worked with JDC as a consultant for the Jewish community of Venezuela to strategize on the downsizing of the community. JDC: What do you see as the biggest challenges your community is facing today? AG: The shrinking of the community and ensuring our sustainability are the biggest challenges. Additionally, we have to begin thinking about working with the elderly... being a community that is not so young anymore. We have an increase in special needs we have to address, too. But continuing to increase services is hard because people are reticent to invest in these times of economic and political uncertainty. Without an Israeli embassy, we miss the resources we used to receive and educational projects are difficult for us. Importantly, the security systems at all our institutions are very strong – and expensive – and financing them is difficult. For the first time, we are also seeing religious polarization. Our community that used to be 10 percent very observant is now 30 percent, with more young people becoming religious and making donations to religious institutions, not to community services. So we need to adapt to that, also. We are struggling to survive and keep Jews in the community, to reach people who are falling on hard times and to be successful as a community, despite shrinking membership and resources. Our situation is very different from other places, where help is mostly needed with food and material needs. We are struggling with spiritual needs, because the leadership needs support, to know we are not alone, to ask what to do in a situation we have no experience with. Spiritually, we need to feel that we are part of a larger people. JDC: You alluded to strengthened security systems now in place. Has there been antisemitism in Venezuela historically? What is the current climate for the Jews in Venezuela? AG: We don’t have antisemitism from the people of Venezuela, but as a result of friendly relations between our government and that of Iran, there is an anti-Israel policy. As a result, the media (which is 60 percent government-owned) is instilling hatred for Israel, and little by little antisemitism starts to be noted in a people who are not at all antisemitic historically. This is a very welcoming country historically, but it is turning against foreigners – and now they see us as foreigners. Even though I was born here in Venezuela, because I’m Jewish, it seems I’m not considered Venezuelan anymore. JDC: Is this leading to a more tight-knit Jewish community? AG: The antisemitism is not so strong as to elicit a reaction from the community, but
the general insecurity is having an impact. Now people come to our institutions a lot more frequently. You can see more people attending synagogue, Hebraica, community events, Jewish camps, youth movements and Jewish activities. It’s an opportunity for us because people are participating more than ever. We have more work than ever. JDC: So you’re one of the few communities that is not challenged to bring in the young generation? AG: Exactly. We have a very good school that 80 percent of the kids in the community attend and this is where our work with young people starts. It continues from there, though the level of participation is also influenced by the security situation. When everything is OK, the young people go out; when they are afraid, they come to the institutions more. JDC: But you mentioned that young people are among the biggest groups leaving. Can you say a little more about the people who are departing and those who are staying behind? AG: The people leaving are those who have the means. Some people keep their businesses but the community cannot continue to rely on their donations any more. Most people go to the U.S. and Panama; the youngest primarily go to study in Israel. Those who remain fall between the ages of 30-65, or 70 percent of our community; more than 40 percent are over the age of 45. We are mostly middle class Jews – some 10 percent are wealthy and some 20 percent are poor (i.e. needing assistance with food, medicine, education and housing). But now the middle class is shrinking. More and more people need help paying for schooling, attending the JCC, etc. We help them with different services but they need more and more assistance. We have started an emergency fund, but we need to keep it growing. JDC: Why do you think people stay? AG: Some people have jobs or businesses they cannot close or leave; others have aging family members they cannot take with them if they were to leave. The situation in the world is also not as appealing to immigrants as it once was. Starting all over and getting jobs or starting businesses in new countries looks really difficult now. The U.S. and Europe seem difficult. Israel has the additional challenge of language and the society is totally different. Many people just don’t have the means to leave. This is why, in a lot of cases, it is the young people who leave their families and emigrate. JDC: What would you like the larger Jewish community to know about Jewish life and your community in Venezuela? AG: This is a very well-organized community that we cherish very much. We want to continue Jewish life here, but maintaining a community requires a spectrum of ages and a minimum of everything that is becoming more challenging to maintain as the situation keeps worsening. I invite people to come here and visit us, and see our beautiful community first-hand.
FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
THE REPORTER ■ february 28, 2013
New Season of
February 2013 • Non-Feature Films • A Film Unfinished, a harrowing look at the devious art of a propaganda film made by the Third Reich, is a rich and well-researched investigation into the filmic history of the Warsaw Ghetto. As A Film Unfinished aims to set the record straight, it furthers a political resistance that Jews undertook during the war. In other words, this documentary is a tribute, a correction of history to honor those who died, witnessed, or survived atrocities prior to their move to Treblinka, Warsaw’s affiliate death camp. Blessed is the Match - In 1944, 22- year Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi- occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II. Budapest to Gettyburg - The past and present collide as a world-renowned historian confronts a history he has refused to study-his own. Gabor Boritt is an expert on Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. But it took his son’s urging to get him to return to his native Hungary and learn about the Jewish experience there from the time of his childhood until, together with his family, he escaped to the United States. Constantine’s Sword, is a 2007 historical documentary film on the relationship between the Catholic Church and Jews. Directed and produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby, the film is inspired by former priest James P. Carroll’s 2001 book Constantine’s Sword. Inside Hana’s Suitcase - A real-life Japanese schoolteacher, who appears throughout the film, sparked this entire story by gathering artifacts for a Holocaust educational center she was developing along with a group of girls and boys called The Small Wings. After applying to receive Holocaust artifacts, a large box arrives with a handful of artifacts, including a battered brown suitcase labeled with Hana Brady’s name. The teacher and her students begin searching for the story behind the suitcase. What they discover will surprise you. They wind up unlocking--and showing us in the film--a whole series of deeply moving memories and other related artifacts and photos. Finally, Hana’s surviving brother George travels to Japan to meet the Japanese students. I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal - Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who lost 89 family members, helped track down over 1,100 Nazi war criminals and spent six decades fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story - This excellent documentary, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, portrays the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story was shown at the Opening Event for the 2012 UJA Campaign. The Case for Israel: Democracy’s Outpost - Famed attorney, Alan Dershowitz, presents a vigorous case for Israel- for its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism and to defend its borders from hostile enemies. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - As baseball’s first Jewish star, Hammering Hank Greenberg’s career contains all the makings of a true American success story. • Feature Films • A Matter of Size - Winner of numerous international awards, this Israeli comedy is a hilarious and heart-warming tale about four overweight guys who learn to love themselves through the Japanese sport of sumo wrestling. (not rated) A Woman Called Golda - Ingrid Bergman plays Golda Meir, the Russian born, Wisconsin raised woman who became Israel’s prime minister in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Crossing Delancey - This is a warm comedy taking place in New York City. Isabella Grossman desires to rise above her family’s Lower East Side community but her grandmother has other matchmaking plans. Footnote - The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors who have both dedicated their lives to work in Talmudic Studies departments of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Though the father shuns overt praise for his work and the son is desperate for it, how will each react when the father is to be awarded the most sought after prize, the Israel prize? This Oscar nominated film will entrance from the start. Frisco Kid - It’s 1850 and new rabbi Avram Belinski sets out from Philadelphia toward San Francisco. Cowpoke bandit Tom Lillard hasn’t seen a rabbi before but he knows when one needs a heap of help. Getting this tenderfoot to Frisco in one piece will cause a heap of trouble- with the law, Native Americans and a bunch of killers. Good - In an attempt to establish its credibility, the new Nazi government is seeking out experts to endorse its policies and they come across Johnnie Halder’s novel of a husband who aids his terminally ill wife in an assisted suicide. Because of this the Nazis flatter Johnnie arranging for high paying and prestigious positions. Never evil, Johnnie Halder is an Everyman who goes along, accepts what he is told without question until he is an unwitting accomplice to the Nazi killing machine. Hidden In Silence - Przemysl, Poland, WWII. Germany emerges victorious over the Russians, and the city comes under Nazi control. The Jewish are sent to the ghettos. While some stand silent, Catholic teenager Stefania Podgorska chooses the role of a savior and sneaks 13 Jews into her attic. Every day, she risks detection--and immediate execution--by smuggling food and water to the silent group living above her. And when two German nurses are assigned to her living quarters, the chances of discovery become dangerously high. This is the true story of a young woman’s selfless commitment and unwavering resolve in the face of war. Noodle (PAL version- can only be played on computer NOT regular DVD players) - At thirty-seven, Miri is a twice-widowed, El Al flight attendant. Her well regulated existence is suddenly turned upside down by an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been deported from Israel. The film is a touching comic-drama in which two human beings- as different from each other as Tel Aviv is from Beijing- accompany each other on a remarkable journey, one that takes them both back to a meaningful life. Nora’s Will - When his ex-wife Nora dies right before Passover, Jose is forced to stay with her body until she can be properly put to rest. He soon realizes that he is part of Nora’s plan to bring her family back together for one last Passover feast, leading Jose to reexamine their relationship. (not rated) Operation Thunderbolt - The true story of the Entebbe hijacking and rescue. “Operation Thunderbolt,” was filmed in Israel with the full cooperation of the Israeli government, and is an exciting re-creation of the events of those tense days. We see the full scope of the story, from the original hijacking to the passengers’ captivity in Uganda to the agonized debates at the highest levels of the Israeli government over a diplomatic vs. a military solution. “Operation Thunderbolt” is the thrilling and true story of how one small country refused to let their people be killed by terrorists and took action to prevent it. People who claim that Israel is a “terrorist state” should see the film and be reminded who the real terrorists are. Orthodox Stance (documentary-2007) - Dimitriy Salita, a Russian immigrant, is making history as a top professional boxer and rigorously observant Jew. While providing an intimate, 3-year long look at the trials and tribulations faced by an up and coming professional boxer, ORTHODOX STANCE is a portrait of seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support Dmitriy’s rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title. Playing for Time - An outstanding cast brings life to this Fania Fenelon autobiography about a Jewish cabaret singer and other Jewish prisoners whose lives were spared at Auschwitz in exchange for performing for their captors. Rashevski’s Tango - Just about every dilemma of modern Jewish identity gets an airing in this packed tale of a clan of more or less secularized Belgian Jews thrown into spiritual crisis by the death of the matriarch who has held all doubts and family warfare in check. (not rated) Sarah’s Key - Julia Jarmond, an American journalist is commissioned to write an article about the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. The Angel Levine - Things couldn’t get worse for Jewish tailor Morris Mishkin (Zero Mostel). His shop has gone up in flames, his daughter has married outside the faith and, worse yet, his wife is slowly dying. But just when he decides to give up on God, a mysterious man (Harry Belafonte) appears, claiming to be his Jewish guardian angel! Doubtful that the stranger is Jewish, never mind an angel, Mishkin must overcome his skepticism if he wants one last chance at redemption. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Set during World War II, this is the story of Bruno, an innocent and naïve eight-year old boy who meets a boy while romping in the woods. A surprising friendship develops. The Couple - Based on the true story of a Jewish Hungarian’s desperate attempts to save his family from the Nazi death camps. Mr. Krauzenberg (Martin Landau) is forced to hand over his vast wealth to the Nazis for the safe passage of his family out of occupied Europe, only to find his two remaining servants are left trapped in a web of deceit and danger. Their only hope for survival relies on the courage of Krauzenberg. The Debt - Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson star in The Debt. In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost… or was it? Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story - Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is an incredibly riveting, Emmy award-winning, fact-based story about a hero who helped over 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Ushpizin - A fable set in the Orthodox Jewish world in Jerusalem, Ushpizin tells the story of a poor childless couple, Moshe and Malli, whose belief in the goodness of the Almighty follows a roller coaster of situations and emotions but leads to the ultimate happiness, the birth of their son.
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an adolescent. “I studied them like the Torah,” he said. “I memorized the ads. At 5, I literally stood on the sofa and said ‘I will be the artist on Spider-Man.’” Like others drawn to stories of caped crusaders and mega-muscled heroes, Bendis was searching for a stand-in for his absentee father. Stan Lee, the Jewish co-creator of Spider-Man and other comic book heroes, became something of a father figure for him. But the rabbis who taught him as a child weren’t too fond of Bendis’ hobby, fearing that his penchant for drawing men in tights indicated he might be gay. “I would just start drawing without thinking and [suddenly] it’s a bunch of naked guys and I’d get sent home,” Bendis said. After high school, Bendis attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. An independent comic book publisher picked up his final thesis and published it. After graduation, he continued working on comic books but supported himself doing freelance illustration and caricatures at bar and bat mitzvahs. “It’s the lowest form of human existence – and I worked at McDonald’s,” he said. Through the 1990s, Bendis hustled his work on the road with fellow independent comic book creators. Those years were somewhat of a golden age for the independent comic scene, producing a bevy of talented, original creators. But the period was financially rough for Bendis and his wife, Alisa, whom he met while doing a freelance assignment for the Hillel Foundation. Even his successes didn’t change the basic financial equation. The day after his work on the crime comic “JINX” won an Eisner Award, the comic book equivalent of an Oscar, he was back at a bar mitzvah drawing caricatures. Bendis’ explosion on the independent comic book scene coincided with a shakeup at Marvel Comics, the largest comic book publisher in the world. A new president and editor-in-chief wanted a fresh voice for the company. Joe Quesada, then the editor-in-chief, called Bendis in 2000 and told him that he wanted to bring him to Marvel. “I asked, ‘What do you need an artist for?’” Bendis recalled. After what Bendis describes as a long “dead” silence, Quesada finally answered, “‘You know your art isn’t that good, but you’re an amazing writer.’” Bendis’ first assignment was a four-issue run on Marvel’s “Daredevil.” After the first two issues, Quesada asked him if he was interested in writing “Ultimate Spider-Man.” The series became one of the best-selling comics of the decade. “He’s really terrific,” Sean Howe, author of “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” said of Bendis. “I think he’s one of the few comic book writers that has a really singular voice in terms of dialogue. He just has the snappiness of a really great crime novelist.” The couple’s financial worries were over. Bendis finally had regular comic book work and his original graphic novels were optioned for movies. He and Alisa began thinking about starting a family. Doctors told Bendis that Alisa wouldn’t be able to have children, but as they prepared to adopt, she became pregnant with their daughter, Olivia. Later, the couple adopted Sabrina from Ethiopia and, three years later, a third daughter, Tabatha, through a domestic adoption program. “Adoption is something I’m insanely proud of,” Bendis said. “My wife wanted to make a family of the world and help raise children with a lot of love that they might not have gotten otherwise.” Bendis raised the idea of shaking up the Spider-Man franchise at a Marvel creative retreat. “We thought about what we wished we could do differently,” he said. “We talked about that the New York in Marvel comics isn’t the one you see when you walk outside the door.” “Ultimate Spider-Man” No. 160 was published in 2011. In that issue, Peter Parker is killed by his archenemy, the Green Goblin. In the next issue, Morales inherits his super powers after being bitten by a genetically engineered spider. The Jewish nature of comic book superheroes has long been an object of speculation, with much attention focused on post-Holocaust Jewish psychology and the yearning for powerful protectors of the innocent. But Bendis traces the connection back even further. “The Torah is full of mythological sources of father and son, and so is Marvel Comics,” Bendis said. “I think about my upbringing with a single mother – I have father issues – I was born to do this. That’s why I can write.” In December, Alisa gave birth again. It’s a boy.
FEBRUARY 28, 2013 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
EJC’s Moshe Kantor awarded Italy’s highest honor for noncitizens
Italy awarded Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, its highest decoration given to a non-Italian. Kantor was honored earlier the week of Feb. 20 with the Knight’s Grand Cross of the Order of Merit “for his work in promoting tolerance and reconciliation, human rights and interfaith dialogue, and his struggle against antisemitism and racism,” the European Jewish Congress said in a statement on Feb. 20. Kantor was in Rome as part of the World Jewish Congress steering committee, which met with Italy’s foreign minister, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, on Feb. 18. Headed by WJC President Ronald Lauder, the committee also included Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins and Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Vadim Shulman, as well as the president of Italy’s umbrella Jewish group. The European Jewish Congress statement said that during the meeting, Kantor “asked for Italy’s help in adding Hezbollah to the European Union list of proscribed terrorist groups in the wake of the evidence demonstrating that the Lebanese-based terrorist group was behind the murder of Israeli tourists in Burgas last year.” It said that Sant’Agata had reiterated the importance of Italy’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish community.
Washington JCRC launches legal fund to help Gross, other Jews seen as wrongfully imprisoned
The first contributions to a new legal defense fund for Jews seen as being held wrongfully because of their Jewishness will go to help Alan Gross, who is imprisoned in Cuba. Launched by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the fund will help cover the defense of Jews in the United States and throughout the world who the council believes have been wrongfully charged or imprisoned. Funds also will be used to cover costs associated with advocating for the prisoners. The council cited the Jewish value of “pidyon shvuyim,” or redeeming the captive, in a statement on Feb. 20 announcing the fund. Contributions, which are tax deductible, cannot be earmarked for a particular person. Gross, who has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009, is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.” According to the Gross family and the U.S. State Department, the Maryland man was in Cuba on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help connect the island country’s 1,500-strong Jewish community with other Jewish communities via the Internet. The JCRC of Greater Washington has been advocating on Gross’ behalf, organizing vigils and spearheading legislation to help free the contractor. A U.S. congressional delegation in Cuba the week of Feb. 21 is pressing for his release.
Hungarian Jews ask gov’t not to honor Nazi ally Horthy
Hungary’s main Jewish organization urged the government and parliament to prevent the honoring of Miklos Horthy, the country’s Holocaust-era ruler. Horthy had “direct responsibility for the killing and destruction of several hundred thousand Hungarian Jews,” the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said in a statement on Feb. 20. The statement was in reaction to the recent decision by the mayor of Kunhegyes in eastern Hungary to rename a street for Horthy. Horthy, who ruled from 1920-1944, was an ally of Adolf Hitler, but the Nazi leader deposed Horthy, fearing he might sign a peace treaty with the Allies. Horthy passed several anti-Jewish laws before his ouster and was in charge when 500,000 Jews under Hungarian control began to be deported to Nazi death camps. Last year, a statue of Horthy was erected in Kereki in southwestern Hungary and in Csokako, a village in the country’s north, and a plaque in his honor was unveiled in Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city. Last April, a square was named for Horthy in Gyomro, a town near Budapest. Many in Hungary, where the nationalist Jobbik party is the third largest in parliament, admire Horthy’s consistent anti-communist stance in the face of Soviet pressure in the 1920s and 1930s. Mazsihisz President Peter Feldmajer said last year in the European Parliament that at a time when “streets and squares are named after Horthy, who stands as a hero for the people, the Hungarian Jewish people feel increasing danger.”
Three would-be attackers of British synagogue convicted of terrorist plot
Three British Muslims were convicted of plotting to carry out al-Qaida-inspired terrorist attacks, including on Jewish targets. The Community Security Trust, which provides security services for British Jewish institutions and individuals, said the three planned to attack a synagogue. Irfan Naseer, 31, and Ashik Ali and Irfan Khalid, both 27, of Birmingham, England, were found guilty on Feb. 21 in a London court on 12 counts of preparing for acts of terrorism between December 2010 and their arrest the following year, the BBC reported. They are expected to serve life terms in prison when they are sentenced in April or May. Jurors were told they planned to set off up to eight bombs, using timers to detonate the charges, before their arrest amid fears that an attack was imminent. The prosecution also said that Naseer and Khalid had received training from al-Qaida contacts in Pakistan. In welcoming the verdict, the Community Security Trust said in a statement, “The terrorists’ suggestion of a gun attack against a synagogue is yet another disturbing example of would-be antisemitic terrorism here in Britain.” The three men and others had posed as charity workers on the streets of Birmingham and collected thousands of pounds from unsuspecting members of the public to fund their activities. Nine men in all have been convicted as a result of the investigation.
collection of books and documents be kept at a Jewish museum in Moscow. The New York-based religious movement, responding on Feb. 21 to the suggestion floated by Putin earlier that week, insisted that Russian authorities immediately hand over the so-called Chabad Library. “The collection must be returned to the Agudas Chasidei Chabad library at Chabad’s worldwide headquarters in Brooklyn, NY,” Nathan Lewin, the movement’s attorney, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. Chabad claims sole ownership of thousands of Jewish texts seized by Soviet authorities during the 1920s and 1940s. In February, a U.S. District Court judge penalized Moscow $50,000 a day until it releases the documents. The Russian government considers the texts to be state property and refuses to pay any fines.
Shoe bigwig Stuart Weitzman gifts $1 million to Maccabi USA
Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, a former member of the U.S. Maccabiah Games table tennis team, donated $1 million to Maccabi USA. In announcing the gift on Feb. 21, Maccabi USA said the money would go to help fund the U.S. team’s participation in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in July as well as other commitments. Weitzman, who founded Stuart Weitzman Shoes, a high-end footwear company, said his participation in the 2009 games as a member of the U.S. team was “one of the greatest experiences” of his life. “After experiencing the Games myself, I saw how Maccabi USA changes the lives of the athletes by enhancing their connection to their Jewish culture and heritage,” Weitzman said in a statement. Ron Carner, the president of Maccabi USA, said Weitzman “is a dynamic human being who cares very much about the future of the Jewish community. He is a terrific table tennis athlete, too!” The Maccabiah is an Olympics-style competition held every four years in Israel.
Israeli group files lawsuit asking Interior Ministry to recognize converts
An Israeli advocacy group filed a lawsuit seeking the recognition of all Orthodox conversions performed in Israel. The Jewish Advocacy Center for ITIM: the Jewish Life Information Center petitioned the Supreme Court on Feb. 20 calling on the Interior Ministry to recognize the conversions, specifically those performed in private Orthodox rabbinical courts. The petition urges the government to create a conversion process that is fair and accessible. “Interior Ministry officials are now determining ‘who is a Jew’ against the decisions of Israel’s rabbinical courts,” Rabbi Seth Farber, founder and director of ITIM, said in a statement. Since 2004, Israel’s conversion programs have been under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, but according to some estimates, nearly 10 percent of Orthodox conversions take place independent of the state system, ITIM said in a statement. The center claimed that in the past four years, Israel has implemented policies that reject converts because of their status as tourists, students or spouses of Israelis. The petition was filed on behalf of converts to Judaism who completed the conversion process headed by two Orthodox rabbis, Nissim Karelitz and Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. Though the conversions were certified by the rabbinical court, the Interior Ministry did not recognize them. In May 2011, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate agreed to recognize all official Jewish conversions undertaken in the country, which are all Orthodox.
NJ firm wins original rights to drill in Golan Heights
A New Jersey-based company was awarded the first license to drill for oil in the Golan Heights. Genie Energy of Newark was given permission recently to search for petroleum in the territory, Reuters reported on Feb. 21, citing industry sources. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and officially annexed it in 1981 in a move condemned by the United Nations. The territory’s status was a major topic of negotiation in several rounds of peace talks with Damascus. One Genie division is involved in developing oil shale fields in Colorado and the Shfela region in central Israel.
U.N. watchdog: New centrifuges at Natanz advance Iran toward nuclear weapon
Iran has installed centrifuges at its largest nuclear enrichment plant that could be used to produce radioactive material for a nuclear weapon, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said. The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on Feb. 21 claiming the Islamic Republic had recently installed 180 advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its plant in Natanz. According to the report circulated among its 35-nation members, the centrifuges can produce between three to five times more material than the ones now being used there. Israel said the report was evidence that Iran is continuing to “advance swiftly toward the red line that the prime minister drew in his speech at the United Nations.” The British Foreign Office said the IAEA’s findings were cause for “serious concern.” Tehran claims its nuclear program is needed for peaceful purposes.
Index for a million documents on Polish Jewry to go online
Researchers of Polish Jewry are set to gain online access to more than one million new documents following an agreement signed by the Polish State Archives. Under the agreement signed recently, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland will receive indices to the documents from the Polish archives authority and place them on the website of the online database within one year, a JRI-Poland statement read. JRI-Poland’s searchable online database currently has four million documents from more than 550 towns, starting from the late 18th century, according to its website.
Vienna Jewish museum contains looted objects, officials say
Officials from the Jewish Museum of Vienna said that hundreds of objects in the museum’s possession were looted from Jewish families during the Holocaust. A review of the artifacts found 490 objects and more than 980 books that may have been stolen from Jewish owners, The New York Times reported on Feb. 20. “For historic reasons, people did not see themselves responsible for investigating the collection referring to provenance,” Christian Kircher, a member of the museum’s board, told the newspaper. “This attitude changed completely during the last few years.” Museum officials said that researching the origin of Judaica can be quite difficult, given the few identifying markers and the fact that most Jewish institutions that existed before the Holocaust were destroyed. They also cited the lack of funds for such research. “Our situation is not comparable to any other museum in Austria,” said Danielle Spera, who became the museum director in 2010. “Anything that was acquired illegally ought to be returned,” she told the Austrian Der Standard daily in January. “There will not be a hint of hesitation.”
Chabad rejects Putin’s idea to house Jewish texts in Moscow museum
Chabad rejected a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin that a disputed
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