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thejewishpress AN AGENCY OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF OMAHA

this week

The music of friends

F EBRU ARY 9 , 2 0 1 8 | 2 4 SH EV AT 5 7 7 8 | V O L . 9 8 | NO . 1 7 | 2 SECT IO NS | C A ND lElI g h TI Ng | FRID AY , F EBRU ARY 9 , 5 : 3 3 P. M.

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OzzIE NOgg n Monday evening, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m., members of the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras (OAYO) will present a Chamber Music Celebration Concert in the Jewish Community Center Auditorium. The musicians, ranging in age from nine to 18, will present works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Borodin, among others. Maestro Aviva Segall is Music Director of Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, and Sophia Potter serves as the group’s Director of Chamber Music Ensemble Program. The Chamber Music Celebration Concert, sponsored by the Karen Sokolof Javitch Fund, is offered to the entire community at no charge. Unlike large multi-section orchestras, most chamber music groups are made up of small, conductor-less ensembles — trio, quartet, quintet, sextet — with instrumentation written for various combinations of strings and woodwinds. Omaha Central High junior Ilana McNamara started playing viola in the Friedel Jewish Academy music program in the 4th grade and has been a member

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Prelude Strings Musician, Omaha Area Youth Orchestras

Our Israel connection

of Omaha Area Youth Orchestras since 7th grade. “In the Chamber Music program,” Ilana said, “we get to name our own groups — which is one of my favorite things to do — and our string sextet is named the Iratus Apes, which means ‘angry bees’ in Latin. The inspiration for the name was a comment by our coach, Sophia Potter, who told the violas to play more like angry bees in one section of the music. We thought that was really funny and it inspired the name. Iratus Apes is part of the concert on Feb. 19. I hope lots of you will come support us and our fellow musicians.” Developing increased support for Omaha Area Youth Orchestras has been one of Aviva Segall’s goals since she arrived in Omaha 19 years ago to take up the baton as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the OAYO. Aviva came with her husband Patrick McNamara, current Director of International Studies at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and also Director of the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies. Their two daughters — the above-mentioned Ilana and Leora, 14, now a freshman at See Music of friends page A2

Not just the facts: Temple Israel’s Tri-Faith Committee

Jewish Federation of Omaha’s Director of Development Nate Shapiro, bottom row, second from the left, meets with faculty at the Abir Yaacov School in Naharia Israel.

inside Viewpoint Synagogues Life cycles

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NATE ShAPIRO Director of Development, Jewish Federation of Omaha Readers of the Jewish Press will notice there has been an influx of articles written by community members who have recently gone to Israel. Not only do we, as the Jewish Federation of Omaha, feel strongly that strengthening individual connections to Israel strengthens our Jewish community in Omaha, but we also

see it as a chance to demonstrate the value of the Jewish Federation of Omaha to our brothers and sisters in Israel and abroad. I, first of all, want to thank Jess Cohn for writing her article about what she saw in Israel which appeared in the Jewish Press in January. The Jewish Federation of Omaha is great at doing great things, but sometimes we struggle to tell the story of those great things. Jess wrote about projects that JFO has supported with our overseas allocation. I wanted to take a moment to educate the community about how community dollars from Omaha help those in need around the world and in Israel. The laws that govern the JFO (which were created by community representatives on the board of directors) instruct the JFO to allocate a certain percentage of the annual See Israel connection page A3

Temple Israel’s Senior Rabbi Brian Stoller and Country Side Community Church Reverend Eric Elnes at a recent learning event at Temple Israel. tion site, Rabbi Azriel said he was afraid. JACkIE gRAu The opinions expressed in this arI’ve never witnessed a moment of selfticle are the personal reflections of congratulations from him or Bob Freethe author and do not necessarily re- man, the “visionaries,” for making the flect the opinions of all Temple Israel campus a reality. members. Instead, I listened to Rabbi Azriel’s One day in the not too distant past, nightmare: that we built it and no one Rabbi Azriel said something I won’t soon will come. That the passion recedes over forget. Even as we sat in the “new” Tem- time and no one bothers to leave his or ple Israel looking out upon the American her own house of worship. No one walks Muslim Institute (AMI) and the Countryacross the campus to shake the hand of side Community Church (CCC) construcSee Tri-Faith Committee page A2


A2 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

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Continued from page A1 Central High — both graduated from Friedel. In the March 21, 2014 edition of the Jewish Press, Patty Ritchie, Director of Millard West Orchestras, was quoted as saying, “When Aviva Segall arrived in Omaha in 1999 as a young, energetic catalyst for excellence in youth orchestras, she began a fruitful and joyful tenure as a strong advocate for healthy, heroic musical growth.” In that effort, Maestro Segall has helped expand the OAYA Prelude Strings program (an introductory strings program for elementary school-aged musicians), helped originate OAYO’s Youth Conservatory Orchestra (an orchestral ensemble for students in grades 5 through 12), as well as the Percussion Ensemble, a small group designed to foster young percussion students. Maestro Segall has also forged connections with several major contemporary composers — Joan Tower, Chen Yi, Joseph Schwantner and William Bolcom — providing opportunities for the young musicians to not only perform new music but work with the composers themselves. Ariana Nieves is one of those young musicians. Now a 9th grader at Brownell-Talbot School, Ariana has played the cello since she was seven. “During the Feb. 19 Chamber Concert I’ll play as part of a flute quartet, which may seem odd since the cello is my instrument,” Ariana said. “But a flute quartet is the term for a string quartet where one of the violins is replaced with a flute. The configuration is flute, violin, viola, cello. Mozart wrote many works like that.” For Ariana, “Playing the cello adds kind of a missing piece in my life, it makes my life complete. I love playing music, and sharing with people who enjoy that as well. OAYO has taught me to play with a group, and I’ve made many friends in the process. I’ve dreamed of becoming a professional musician since I started playing the cello. I’ve been to many symphony performances, and I always wish I was up there on that stage.” In addition to its support off the upcoming Chamber Celebration Concert, the Karen Sokolof Javitch Fund also underwrites Pre-Concert Education Workshops at the Friedel Jewish Academy. “Anytime we can provide our students with a unique, interactive program, we jump at the chance,” said Beth Cohen, Friedel Head of School. “Last year, the demonstration by Sophia Potter from Omaha Area Youth Orchestras taught such a variety of things – parts of a cello, how to discern components of the music, a snapshot of the life of a composer, and cultural references found in art and music.” The

Music of friends

workshops inspire even the very youngest students, and additional sessions are scheduled in the next month. “I’m a staunch advocate for instruments crafted by living luthiers — makers of

Youth Concert Strings Musician, Omaha Area Youth Orchestras stringed instruments,” Sophia Potter said. “I play on a 2008 William Whedbee cello, and I bring my instrument to class to show the kids what kinds of things cello music can represent — a swan, a train — and I also play examples of music from other cultures, including traditional Chinese folk songs. From just watching and listening, even the littlest kids get excited about learning to play the cello themselves. They want to make music.” Barbara Taxman, long-associated with Tuesday Musical in Omaha, is a strong backer of Omaha Area Youth Orchestras. “It’s hard to put all the good reasons to support OAYO in one sentence,” Taxman said. “Under the leadership of Aviva Segall, students of all ages learn the discipline needed to play an instrument. They learn to be responsible for their instruments, to take care of them and to work together with others to produce music. OAYO musicians learn the importance of their commitment to the rest of the orchestra. All these lessons translate into other areas of their lives. Youth who play in the orchestra are usually good solid citizens and too busy to get into trouble. I’ve listened to classical music for years, and when I hear these young people play, I’m definitely listening to the future.” Along with its professional staff, OAYO depends on volunteer Parent Coordinators like Alex Reza. “I’m a father to two violinists and a cellist who have and currently attend Omaha Area Youth Orchestras,” Reza explained, “and I volunteer in my son’s Chamber group, making sure that chairs and music stands are set up. Sometimes, with larger concerts, I assist with directing

Tri-Faith Committee Continued from page A1 a neighbor. Kids don’t play together. Babies don’t crawl on the grass of the Tri-Faith Commons, and adults don’t look each other in the eyes. Rabbi Azriel knows far more than I know, and in his fear I detected the echo of a message built into the walls of Temple Israel, ingrained in Judaism: we still have work to do. This is no time to be complacent and self-satisfied. This is not yet the land of milk and honey.

But, momentarily, I was smug. I immediately looked him in the eye, reacting with presumptuous certainty, and declared he has no reason to worry. It will happen as he and Bob and the others once dreamed, even if I am left alone to do the work. Of course, the reality is that I’m far from alone. I’m only one, relatively young, inexperienced member of Temple Israel and its TriFaith Committee. In fact, I’m just riding the tailwind of the ones who envisioned a place for three Abrahamic faiths to worship next

the kids in rehearsal.” A skilled violin maker, Alex Reza and his wife, Genevieve, own Violins of Omaha LLC, a full service shop where they repair and restore violins and offer bow work. The couple volunteer their services to OAYO for repairing donated instruments and bows. “The volunteers give all they can to provide a great experience for the kids, the parents and the audience,” Reza continued. “It’s so rewarding to see what can be accomplished when everyone works together toward common goals. From sitting through lessons and hearing a first rehearsal, to the final performance when the hard work everyone put in is on display — the transformation is amazing. And thanks to the generosity of the Karen Sokolof Javitch Fund, this OAYO concert is free and open to the public, so anyone can attend and appreciate the music. An organization like Omaha Area Youth Orchestras benefits everyone.” The benefits come from the heart. When Barbara Wolpa’s daughter, Debbie Gilmore, lost her battle with cancer in 1995, Barbara wanted to honor Debbie’s memory in a special way. “Debbie so enjoyed classical music,” said Barbara, a past Board member of OAYO. “She knew she couldn’t pursue music as her college major, but she always encouraged her musical friends and complimented their performances. When Debbie died, I wanted to remember her in a way that would please her, and me as well. So I established the annual Deborah L. Gilmore Memorial Scholarship to help an Omaha Area Youth Orchestra graduating senior continue his or her musical studies in college. I can’t think of a better way to keep Debbie’s memory alive than to offer encouragement to a young musician.” Because of its intimate nature, chamber music has been described as the music of friends. Players of chamber music, both amateur and professional, attest to a unique enchantment with playing in ensemble. “I feel like a lot of people, especially teenagers these days, like to put down classical music in favor of other, more popular genres,” Ilana McNamara said. “But in my opinion, classical music, chamber music, has such a wide variety of expression and experiences. It can be so many different things for different people. It’s very special to me that I can see notes written on a piece of paper, play them, and make people feel different emotions because of how I express those notes. I love chamber music. I think our concert audience will, too. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 19, so please come early and get a good seat.”

to each other, the visionaries, the leaders, the brave explorers, the ones on the Tri-Faith Initiative Board. They’ve done the work, and now the buildings are real. My assertion in response to the Rabbi that day was laughable, really, and I wonder what those around me thought when they heard me speak. That I ever went to the first Committee meeting was pure luck. I was going to write an article to educate about how the Committee functions within See Tri-Faith Committee page A3


Tri-Faith Committee

Continued from page A2 the larger Tri-Faith Initiative -- just the facts. But that was a challenge too great. I can’t seem to separate “me” from anything TriFaith. Any conversation, any thought, any idea about Tri-Faith necessarily involves me, because my experience has been so personally engaging, the entire concept has become part of my own “self.” So while I may have failed to deliver on my writing assignment, I am certainly not without things to say. I’ve watched the three Committee Co-Chairs, Bonni Leiserowitz, Lisa Lewis and Lee Needelman do what no one else before them has done. I was there for the first Committee meeting at Temple Israel only a year and change ago. Since then we’ve met as a Committee monthly on Sundays, and many of us have worked together much more frequently while advancing sub-Committee goals. Guided by clergy, TI President, Rosie Zweiback, and TFI Board member Wendy Goldberg, Bonnie, Lee, and Lisa became the pace cars for the boundlessly enthusiastic Committee members. (And now Lisa is also a TFI Board member.) Rosie counseled tirelessly about taking “baby-steps,” and once every meeting or so, one of the co-Chairs patiently reminded and reassured us there was no hurry, no playbook, no measuring stick, no right and wrong. It was all for the first time. Everything the Tri-Faith Initiative Board did and does, everything Bonnie, Lee and Lisa did and do, and everything the Tri-Faith Temple Israel Committee does, is something they do for the first time. Even as we plan the second annual “Taste of Tri-Faith,” we are stomping out a new path, treading new territory. Last year AMI wasn’t yet our geographic neighbor and reassuring helping hand. Rabbi Stoller hadn’t yet been installed. CCC wasn’t yet under construction, and we were in a different place. Things won’t become routine for a long, long time. And I like that. It means we’re defining Temple Israel’s Tri-Faith involvement along the way, and it’s of the utmost importance the community understands the value of its contributions. I imagine the Committee will grow steadily and continue to break new ground as it brings in more and more of our Congregation. One message, I hope, gets out and stays out: the entire Congregation owns a piece of this. Your ideas, your help, your contributions and yes, your questions, thoughts and fears, are welcomed. Progress comes with growing pains, but no one should be relegated to silence or judged for asking questions. A keystone of the Initiative is openness, as fear comes from closed spaces and minds. But there is one other benefit of asking questions and laying bare your fears. Within the act of asking, confessing or challenging, is human interaction, passion and involvement. In this case, merely shedding your indifference is a good start.

The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | A3

community

Our Israel connection

Continued from page A1 campaign to go elsewhere (mostly to Israel). This is done through a few channels. As a member of the Jewish Federations of North America, JFO and other Jewish Federations pay dues to JFNA, depending on their size and campaign. JFNA then allocates to three of its partners: The Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World ORT. Your dollars to the Federation not only support the work we do here, but also support: THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL The Jewish Agency for Israel has worked to secure a vibrant Jewish future since 1929. Instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel, The Jewish Agency today serves as the official link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere, inspiring a collective sense of Jewish purpose. Globally, The Jewish Agency cultivates meaningful engagement with Israel and facilitates aliyah. As the Jewish world’s first responder, The Jewish Agency addresses emergencies in Israel and rescues Jews from countries where they are at risk. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Since 1914, JDC has exemplified the value that all Jews are responsible for one another and for improving the wellbeing of vulnerable people around the world. Today, JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. World ORT World ORT is the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organization, delivering the best practical education for those in need. Through a network of schools, colleges, training centers and programs in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and other countries, ORT works for the advancement of Jewish and other people by supplying them with the necessary skills, knowledge, training and education to foster economic selfsufficiency. See https://jewishfederations.org/our-partners. In addition to those three partner organizations, JFO des-

ignates $50,000 dollars to be allocated by the lay-led Israel/Overseas committee. The committee meets several times a year to decide how best to spend this money.

In 2016-2017 the committee allocated money in the following way: • ORT Abir Yaakov School — $10,000 This is a School in Nahariyah that blends religious education with STEM education. It is run by our partner World ORT. Our money was used to pay for SMART Boards for their classrooms. • Indoor Playground at Galilee Medical Center (GMC) — $25,000 The GMC Indoor Playground will be located inside the GMC’s pediatric unit. Play is a crucial component of brain development and growth. When a child’s daily routine is disrupted by a lengthy hospital stay, this process can be threatened. This playground will normalize a child’s patient experience while reducing fear, anxiety and stress. This playground is a gift from Omaha to all the peoples of the Galilee region. • Partnership2GETHER Israel Budget — $ 5,000 Our partnership2Gether platform is what allows us to create people-to-people connections in Israel. Omaha is part of a consortium of 14 US communities (including Budapest, Hungary) that work together to share programming in the Western Galilee. Supporting the partnership allows Omaha missions, such as the Teen Trip or JWRP to be hosted in the region. • Orot Hesed Food Pantry for Purchase of Delivery Van — $10,000 Orot Hesed is an organization that operates in the western galilee and delivers meals to hungry people regardless of ethnicity. TOTAL: $50,000 Are you interested in being a part of this process? Contact me at nshapiro@jewishomaha.org for more information.

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The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | A5

Our community THANKS YOU for your generous gift to the 2018 Annual Campaign. It's not too late, please join us. 2018

Your gifts are funding scholarships, educating our community, investing in Israel, fighting Anti-Semitism and prejudice, caring for our seniors and those in great need, and securing the future of Jewish Omaha.

Donor list as of January 31, 2018. A final acknowledgment ad will follow at the close of the 2018 Annual Campaign. Every effort was made to ensure accuracy. We apologize if your name was incorrectly printed or inadvertently omitted. MAJOR DONORS Corporate Sponsor ($100,000+) Omaha Steaks International Lion of Judah Platinum Lion ($100,000+) Susan Cohn Prime Minister ($100,000+) Murray and Sharee Newman King Solomon Circle ($25,000-$99,999 Ind. & Couples $50,000-$99,999 Corp. & Family) Joel Alperson The Baker Family Ronald Blumkin Joseph Erman Michael Erman Thomas Fellman Herbert Goldsten Trust Howard Kaslow Joseph Kirshenbaum Howard Kooper Jay Lerner Robert & Phyllis Newman Jay Noddle Carl Riekes Harley Schrager Phillip Schrager Of Blessed Memory Theodore Seldin Phil Sokolof Of Blessed Memory Special Donor-Advised Fund Michael Staenberg Emerald Lion ($25,000-$35,999) Nancy Friedland Chai Circle ($18,000-$24,999 Ind. & Couples $25,000-$49,999 Corp. & Family) Steven Bloch Irvin Blumkin Epstein Family Gary Epstein Harold Epstein Paul Epstein Donald Goldstein Jeff and Danielle Gordman Nelson Gordman Ike and Roz Friedman Family Rich and Fran Juro Omaha Bedding Company Andrew Robinson Steven Silver Gerald Simons John Waldbaum

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John Terry J.D. Thompson Alan Tipp Amy Tipp Marilyn Tipp Sonia Tipp Steven Tipp Ellina Tomchin Max Tomchin Sheila Tomps Eadie Tsabari Eitan Tsabari Judy Tully Stewart Tully Lazar Turetsky Margaret Turetsky Tevee Turkel Randi Turkel Nanfito Chris Ulven Margie Utesch Annette van de Kamp-Wright Erin and Jennifer Vik Jody Vinci Sylvia Wagner Mary Lou Walker Donna Walter Phyllis Wasserman Jan Wayne Phil Wayne Dana Wear Joshua Wees Joye Wees Steven Wees Scott Weiler Ruth Weiner Dale Weinstein Natalie Weinstein Alice Weiss Leora Werner Allyson Wilczewski Chris Wilczewski Bryan Wine Laura Wine Lois Wine Stewart Winograd Sally Wintroub Isaac Witkowski Douglas Wolfson Bob Wolfson Leona Wolfson Louis Wolfson Rebecca Wolfson

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It has been a tremendous privilege for our family to serve Jewish Omaha as your Federation Annual Campaign chairs and to witness firsthand the enthusiasm and dedication of our wonderful community. The Annual Campaign allows us to meet our collective responsibility of maintaining an exceptional community—and do so together, as one. With gifts small and large, we all have a voice and a place in the Federation system. In fact, this has been a year where we are truly reaching out to you – to learn of the unique wants and needs of our community. The Community Study was completed, and the Federation has shared many of the findings from this study through town hall meetings, the Jewish Press, the e-newsletter, etc. The Planning and Community Engagement Committee is busy meeting with each agency to craft strategies that address our opportunities. It will be exciting to hear details of these plans as we work to transform Jewish Omaha and foster a greater sense of belonging. This community wasn’t built in one day. It was created over many years, and has grown into something we can all be proud of. Our vision for the 2018 Annual Campaign included an emphasis on the connection to our future generations. It’s all about the people in our community; and the dollars raised allows the Federation and its agencies to care for fellow Jews in need, both in Omaha and throughout vulnerable regions of the world. The Campaign dollars also help insure a Jewish future, which is why a significant percentage is allocated towards youth focused education and programming. In addition, the Federation provides opportunities for us all to engage with one another – this strengthens the core of our community, and we hope you have been able to participate in programming like Chanukah for Houston, the Community Event with Deborah Lipstadt, or this year’s FED Event for our Generation Now! We appreciate how incredibly supportive Jewish Omaha is and are grateful to the individuals and couples on these pages who recognize how vital the mission of the Federation is to securing a bright future. We thank you all for your loyalty and commitment. Together we are able to Impact Today and Imagine Tomorrow! Warm Regards, Joe Erman and Ruth Erman, Of Blessed Memory Dana and Michael Kaufman

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A6 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

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The Polish problem

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ANNETTE vAN DE KAmP Editor, Jewish Press he ‘Polish Death Camp’ debate that has flared up in recent weeks is both appalling and dangerous. In case you missed it: “Polish lawmakers voted for a bill that would fine or jail people who blamed Poland or Poles for Nazi atrocities committed on its soil during World War II, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp,” The Washington Post wrote Jan. 18. “The law still needs final approval from the Polish Senate and the country’s President.” (They are both in favor, so it’s very likely this will become the law of the land). The fact that this initial vote occurred on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was just icing on the cake. “It was also the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau,” the WP added. What, exactly, is happening here? Is it simply an attempt to whitewash history, as Times of Israel suggested? Or is this paving the way for a total rewrite, portraying Poland as victim, and victim only? Haaretz’ journalist Ofer Aderet posed that question when he wrote: “[Justice Minister] Zibrios new plan is to pass legislation to punish those who make misstatements as part of the new government policy, which is intended to preserve the honor of the Polish people, present Poland as a victim of the Nazis, and limit any mention of the crimes committed by Poles in the service of the Nazi regime.” The ensuing debate has been strong and passionate. This is one of those times when it’s impossible to not have an opinion, but, as Cnaan Lipshitz wrote for JTA, it also paves the way for misinformation on both sides. While the term ‘Polish Death Camps’ is factually misleading (they were Nazi death camps on Polish soil, there

is a difference) the new law is great cause for concern. “The reason, according to [Efraim] Zuroff, [Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center], is that the bill is part of a larger effort by Poland’s right-wing government to dismiss any criticism of how Poles behaved during the Holocaust.” (Lipshitz, 1-27-18)

Credit: JTA/ Christopher Furlong/ Getty images

To put it in simple terms: just because the Polish government was technically not in charge, because there was no Polish government, doesn’t mean there weren’t countless Polish people who cooperated with the Nazis. Collaboration happens when a foreign power takes over; there are always those who decide their stomach will be fuller if they simply go with the flow. Besides, anti-Semitism in Poland at the time was a fact of life; we don’t need to argue about that. And yes, at the same time there were Polish victims, there was Polish resistance. It’s never either/or; it’s always, always both. The current attempt to rewrite history sets Poland on a track that is not unfamiliar, judging from the enthusiasm with which some news outlets in Poland have joined the bandwagon. Avoiding blame: people are ready and willing. Jan. 31, the Associated Press noted the rapid increase

of anti-Semitic language in Poland. “In one instance, the head of a state-run channel suggested referring to Auschwitz as a ‘Jewish death camp,’ to describe the Nazi killing site in German-occupied Poland. To make his point, the TV announcer asked his panel of guests: ‘Who managed the crematoria here?’” This entire thing is bizarre. It reminds me of neo-Nazis who simultaneously display denial and admiration of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Whitewashing one’s own role in the Holocaust, doing it by passing an actual law, is one of the most anti-Semitic actions the Polish government could have taken. It’s an intellectual and educational pogrom; it means entire generations will be raised with alternate truth. So what is the endgame here? By pretending they “didn’t do it,” is the Polish government admitting that the Holocaust was wrong? Can they simply not handle the guilt? Is it really possible that this many people do not understand the truth? Exactly how bad is Holocaust education in Poland? It puzzles me. And another thing: what would the actual Polish victims and resistance have to say about this law? I had a greataunt who jumped off the train to Auschwitz. There were many others in the train car with her; they managed to break a hole in the side and when, taking a corner, the train slowed down, they jumped. She rolled down the hill, believing it would be better to die on her own terms but was found later that night by a Polish woman. This woman took her home and the family hid her until the country was liberated. What would that family have to say? Because, let’s face it: they didn’t hide her only from the Nazis, they also hid her from their Polish neighbors. Changing the story means next time, that story will have a very different ending. We cannot repeat it often enough: if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

6 ways to address sexual harassment in the Jewish community LiSA EiSEN JTA #MeToo. #GamAni. The stories are numerous and painful. They span decades and reach every corner of the Jewish community. Enough is enough. The time is now for us to finally and fully address sexual harassment in Jewish institutional life. When it comes to sexual harassment, Jewish teachings are unequivocal: We are obligated to put an end to the behavior for the sake of the victim, the perpetrator and the community as a whole. Despite our moral code, however, sexual misconduct in the Jewish community too often goes unaddressed. As Hollywood, media and government offices grapple with their ethical challenges, it is clear we need a reckoning of our own. When the Good People Fund surveyed Jewish professionals in 2017, it found that sexual harassment is perceived by respondents to be tolerated in Jewish organizations. Female CEOs, fundraisers and rabbis frequently report problems in their interactions with donors and lay leaders. Female employees report feeling some level of harassment is inevitable, and most believe — and some have left the field as a result — that their organizations are ineffective at preventing or addressing it. Indeed, the recent Leading Edge study found that only two-thirds of employees of Jewish organizations report that they are aware of their organization’s sexual harassment policies, and only about one-third know what to do or where to go if they experience harassment. The time is now to end this reality. The time is now to move from talk to action. The time is now for us to commit to acting individually and collectively to build safer, more respectful and equitable places to work. We must come together across political, denominational and gender lines to address the power dynamics and structural inequalities that allow harassment and abuse to take root. We must raise the bar of fairness and equality in our workplaces, institutions and the spaces in between. To succeed, we need to advance cultural and practical change. We at the Schusterman Foundation are joining with other foundations and organizations to explore how we can help create systemic

change in Jewish communal life on both fronts. Here are five crucial areas in which we can and must act: Ensure accountability To eliminate harassment in our community, all of us — funders, nonprofit professionals and lay leaders — must hold ourselves and our organizations accountable. I envision a pledge, akin to the Child Safety Pledge, committing us to uphold safety and respect in and around the Jewish workplace as

Credit: Flickr Commons an important step forward. A common pledge — backed by tangible resources and collective action — could ensure that organizations walk their talk and actively pursue today’s best practices for preventing and responding to sexual harassment. Exhibit leadership Committed, engaged organizational and philanthropic leaders are critical to changing the status quo. Thanks to the outstanding work of Commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic, who led the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, we know that “the cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated.” Those in leadership positions must start by refraining from and putting an end to adverse behavior. Jewish leaders need to show they will not stand for or accept sexual harassment and take proactive steps to promote a safe, respectful Jewish organizational culture. Funders, too, must commit to this work — not just for the organizations we

support, but also to help equalize the relationship between donors and Jewish professionals, and to strengthen our own internal cultures. Refresh policies and procedures In the wake of #MeToo, every Jewish organization must have in place the modern infrastructure of a safe workplace, including transparent policies, consistent training and protected reporting methods. The EEOC recommendations are clear on this front as well. Healthy work environments need “strong and comprehensive harassment policies; trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.” In addition to updating our own policies and procedures, those who serve as funders can request anti-harassment and discrimination policies in our grant applications, share sample templates and best practices with grantees, and refer them to expert resources. Train staff and boards Annual, ideally in-person training of staff and boards are vital and can be customized to the fields and organizations they serve. They can transcend the harasser-victim dichotomy and focus on more effective methods, such as empowering bystanders and helping employees understand how they can advocate for one another. For models, we can look to the Respect in the Workplace training currently offered by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York or to those Keshet provides on tolerance and inclusion. Facilitate reporting Every employee in the Jewish sector should know and trust their organization’s reporting structure. One of the most common refrains is that employees do not know who to turn to if they experience or witness harassment. This is equally true at foundations and all other kinds of nonprofits. It is incumbent upon us as Jews that our reporting structures allow for fair consideration and due process for both the accuser and the accused. To that end, it is worth considering external reporting structures like those suggested by Yehuda Kurtzer and Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, who have called for See 6 ways to address page A7


The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | A7

Does the Obama-Farrakhan photo matter? Does anything? ANDrEW SiLOW-CArrOLL JTA “Nothing matters.” You hear that a lot these days. You hear it when The Wall Street Journal reports that the president’s personal lawyer paid a porn actress $130,000, at the height of the presidential campaign, so she would stay silent about an alleged affair she’d had with Donald Trump. Or when the president uses a vulgarity to refer to African countries. Or when the president is credibly reported to have demanded the firing of the man investigating obstruction of justice claims concerning the president’s firing of another man investigating obstruction of justice claims. That was the premise of a Saturday Night Live skit last week in which Jessica Chastain hosted a putative game show called “What Even Matters Anymore?” When a contestant suggests that Trump’s Africa comment must matter, an exasperated Chastain responds: “Actually, it does not matter. Zero consequences and everyone moves on.” I bring this up not to vilify Trump, but to remember with wistfulness a faraway time -- 2005 -- when things still mattered. When a U.S. senator from Illinois could be photographed with a wildly anti-Semitic black nationalist, and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus would suppress the photo so as not to sink his presidential chances. That photograph, of Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan, surfaced last week when the photographer who took the shot released it to Politico. Many agree that had the photo seen the light of day before the 2008 election, there would have been no President Obama. It may have cemented later accusations that he had consorted with radicals, including his own pastor, who was a Farrakhan apologist and a racist in his own right. Although Obama the candidate was eloquent in distancing himself both from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Farrakhan, a picture is worth, as the saying goes, thousands of beautifully crafted words. Of course, there is plenty we don’t know about the circumstances of the photo. Although reportedly taken at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Chicago, we don’t know who else attended, and whether the room was filled with other clergy and African-American power brokers, or if it was some sort of tete-a-tete. Is Obama smiling with Farrakhan, or was he caught on camera smiling near Farrakhan?

6 ways to address

Continued from page A6 the creation of a neutral platform for those seeking redress without fear of retribution. We may also consider the use of ombudsmen or new tools like AllVoices, an app-based reporting service under development. Equal opportunity Beyond these five areas, the most important way to create sustainable change in our community is to ensure that women are treated equitably and have opportunities to advance to top leadership roles. Starting today, we must help elevate women’s voices in Jewish life. We must advocate for pay equity for comparable roles. We must include more women on CEO search committees and candidate interview lists. We must mentor and sponsor women in advancing in their careers. We must, as Advancing Women Professionals has taught us, make the choice not to serve on or support panels, committees and initiatives where women are not represented. When we raise up women, we raise up everyone — especially those of diverse, underrepresented backgrounds. Indeed, we can make an inclusive, safe and respectful environment a key element of great Jewish workplaces. In doing so, we will create spaces free from harassment, gender disparagement and bias; make our offices models of what a modern workplace should be; and usher in a new era of leadership that better reflects and supports the people and communities we serve. Let’s make 2018 the year we live up to the steadfast ethics of our people and put an end to sexual harassment in the Jewish community once and for all. Let’s join together to create a culture in which nobody ever again has to say #MeToo or #GamAni. Lisa Eisen is the vice president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, a global organization committed to igniting the passion and unleashing the power in young people to create positive change; www.schusterman.org.

If you are inclined to exculpate Obama, you might ask what the Congressional Black Caucus was doing hosting Farrakhan at all. The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham notes that “It’s a sign of Farrakhan’s oddly lasting hold on popular influence that he was even invited to clink drinks with the members” of the caucus. Like Wright, the obscenely flawed Farrakhan repre-

Left picture: Louis Farrakhan speaking at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2017. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Right picture: Former President Barack Obama speaking at a Newark rally for then-gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, Oct. 19, 2017. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images sented a constituency that politicians felt could not be ignored. Or you might be inclined to reject the photo as mere guilt by association. There is a style of gotcha journalism and opposition research that turns dumb gestures or sloppy planning into political felonies. Last week, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., took heat when it was learned that in 2006, he gave an interview to a publication that peddles in Holocaust denial, and that a year later he headlined a rally that also heard from a musician with his own interesting theories about the Shoah. Barletta was a small-town mayor at the time, and last week he blamed his staff for bad vetting. I’d want to know a lot more before dismissing Barletta as soft on Holocaust denial. Whether events like these do, or should, sink a politician’s career depends on a number of things. Fairly or unfairly, bad things stick to politicians if they somehow reflect something that the public has suspected all along. When Mitt Romney griped about a parasitic “47 percent,” it matched his image as

an out-of-touch one-percenter. When John Kerry flip-flopped on his support for the use of force in Iraq, it sealed an impression, pushed by his opponent, that he’d say anything to win. And when George H.W. Bush checked his watch during a debate with Bill Clinton, it provided an unfortunate -- and unfair -- contrast between the sturdy if unexciting Washington insider and the energetic if sometimes undisciplined challenger. Trump, it has been noted time and again, has obliterated the whole idea of the political gaffe. Starting with his “Mexican rapists” campaign launch, gaffes have become his brand. He’s shown that if you flood the zone with enough gaffes, distractions and downright lies, they all but cancel each other out. Twitter users love to use the “Can you imagine if ” construction to point how any one of the daily outrages associated with Trump would have sunk a normal politician. Can you imagine if it were a Democratic president attacking the FBI? Can you imagine if Hillary had won the election and there were unmistakable signs that the Russians had gamed Facebook in her favor? (It works the other way, too: Can you imagine, ask Trump’s defenders, if Hillary had protected a campaign adviser accused of sexual harassment -- oh wait, that actually happened.) Had the Farrakhan photo come out before the election, it just might have ended Obama’s presidential ambitions, and there’s a strong case to be made that it should have: Even if he shared none of Farrakhan’s ideas, Obama would have lent the Nation of Islam leader -- and by extension his penchant for anti-Semitic scapegoating -- a senatorial hechsher. It may have confirmed an impression of Obama as opportunistic, transactional and -- perhaps worst of all -- hypocritical. Yet had one photo done him in, America may have been denied a gifted leader who was able to embody, on the largest possible stage, a daily rebuke to Farrakhan’s hateful, racially polarized version of minority empowerment. There has to be a way of thinking about our leaders that falls somewhere between overreacting to an inexpedient gaffe and ignoring a pattern of disqualifying behavior -- the middle of a scale between, let’s say, Howard Dean’s Scream and James Traficant’s Entire Career (look it up). One can only hope that Trump hasn’t inured us to outrage, or lowered the bar to a degree that a politician’s bad, boorish or unethical behavior just doesn’t matter. Andrew Silow-Carroll is the editor in chief of JTA.

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A8 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

community

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Share the L.O.V.E. GAbby bLAir Staff Writer, Jewish Press or the past 46 years, L.O.V.E. (League Offering Volunteers for the Elderly) has been committed to improving the quality of life and care for all residents of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home. Through the generosity of donors to L.O.V.E.’s yearly membership drive, L.O.V.E. has been able to make yearly contributions to the RBJH that help continue to the level of excellence we have come to expect from our highly regarded institution. Last year’s major project, The Esther Wax Sensory Room, has been a huge success. The safe, calming space utilizes touch, smell, sound and visual stimulation designed to improve mood and defuse behavior. This year’s major project includes the purchase and installation of four 55 inch TVs, one for each of the Blumkin Home neighborhoods, and a subscription to Lifeloop. These bright new visual displays will replace whiteboard calendars and the Lifeloop software will allow more efficient facility-wide scheduling and communication while helping track the engagement of residents and staff.

See full digital issues of the Jewish Press https://issuu.com/jewishpress7

As L.O.V.E. enters its 47th year, your help is crucial in fulfilling its mission: To support the programs and services of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home through volunteerism

and fundraising efforts. None of these amazing additions would be possible without the generous support of Friends and Life Members of L.O.V.E.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, resist the urge to phone in flowers and pick up a box of chocolates. Instead, surprise your loved one with a truly unique gift from Lewis Art Gallery! Bring us your favorite photo from a fun trip or special memory, and our beautiful custom framing will transform it into a cherished gift. A one-of-a kind painting or art glass vase would also make for a memorable present. Or, take the guesswork out of gift giving and bring your loved one to Lewis Art Gallery for a playful date to pick out the perfect artwork, home décor, lamps and custom framing together.

A popular Omaha destination for 47 years, Lewis Art Gallery is celebrating 10 years at its “new” location on 8600 Cass Street. Our selection of artwork, home accessories, tables and over 400+ lamps in store cannot be beat. With over 800 frame mouldings in stock, we offer one-week custom framing service and competitive everyday pricing that is sure to beat any of the chain retailers’ coupon “deals.” The gallery’s second floor is the home to its sister company, Personal Threads Boutique, where you will find a huge array of in-stock yarns, patterns and supplies for needlepoint, knitting and crochet. PAID ADVERTISEMENT

Your dedication to the Residents of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home is much appreciated, and remember... All you need is LOVE, and all L.O.V.E. needs... is YOU! Joining L.O.V.E. is easy! Simply fill out and clip the membership form and drop it off to the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home or mail it to: L.O.V.E. Attn: Les Kay, Treasurer 323 South 132nd Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68154 Interested in volunteering with L.O.V.E? please contact Sabine Strong, RBJH Volunteer Coordinator at 402.334.6519 or via email at: sstrong@rbjh.com. Background checks are required of all volunteers as the safety of our Residents is our number one priority. L.O.V.E. is a 501c3; all donations made to L.O.V.E. are 100% tax deductible.

This Valentine’s Day surprise your sweetie with a gift from Lewis Art Gallery

Family-owned for 47 years and counting! Come see our extensive selection of art, lamps, decorative accessories and gifts. One week custom picture framing service

Celebrating 10 years at our “new” location 8600 Cass Street | 402-391-7733 | lewisartgallery.com Open: Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-6 p.m | Sat 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sign up for one of Personal Threads’ classes, whether you are just learning or are a life-long knitter, we hope to become your personal yarn store. This successful business remains family owned and operated today by its second generation—Julie Wynn manages Lewis Art Gallery, while her husband Joe Wynn manages Personal Threads Boutique. Ranked in Omaha Magazine as the 2018 Best of Omaha for Best Retail Art Gallery and Best Custom Picture Framing, as well as being listed in the 101 Things to Love About Omaha for the past several years, we invite you to visit us Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | B1

section2 COMMUNITY

upcoming Beth Israel Scholar-in-residence: Former UConn basketball star Doron Sheffer

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Kurt MyerS Executive Assistant, Beth Israel Synagogue he weekend of Feb. 23, Beth Israel Synagogue will welcome Israeli-born basketball star Doron Sheffer as Scholar-in-Residence. Sheffer first gained fame as a young upstart in the Israel Basketball Premier League, leading the underdog Hapoel Galil Elyon team to a victory over the tournament favorites Maccabi Tel Aviv in the League Semi-finals. Building on that success, he moved to the United States to play in the NCAA for powerhouse UConn from 1993-96. Sheffer was the only player to record 1,000 points and 500 assists in each season, and alongside future superstar Ray Allen, led the team to three straight Big East Championships. Sheffer was set to become the first Israel player in the NBA after being selected in the second round by the Los Angeles Clippers but declined to return to Israel and play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he won four consecutive League championships. After those successes, Sheffer rocked the Israeli basketball world by abruptly retiring after his fourth championship. On his retirement, Sheffer said “My heart told me it was time to leave the floor, to say good-bye, because I couldn’t do it with all my heart and I didn’t want to play the game that I love so much when I’m not 100% involved in doing it. It was a very strong decision with a lot of emotion and it was a big drama in Israel, but it was very peaceful and complete for me.” He began traveling the world, visiting exotic locales in India, Costa Rica, Brazil and other parts of South America. He was also diagnosed with testicular cancer. After a combination of eastern medicinal treatment and surgery, Sheffer recovered and began one of several basketball comebacks. One such comeback, playing for Hapoel Jerusalem for two

seasons beginning in 2003, proved pivotal for Sheffer’s spiritual awakening. He began wearing tefillin more regularly and reading Tehillim. By the time he returned to Jerusalem in 2006, he and his wife Talia had together resolved to observe Shabbat, kashrut and family-purity laws, and started regularly attending shul. He also began wearing a kippa and tzitzit and began studying Talmud at the Ashrei Ha’Ish Yeshiva. Now you can find Sheffer at the Hyuli Natural Health Center in Amirim, Israel that he founded with his wife in 2013, where he helps those who, like himself, have struggled with physical ailments and searched for spiritual healing. He is an Doron Sheffer associate founder of Credit: Adi Avishai/Maariv Value Sports and Basketball with Courtesy programs, designed to impart good values and considerate behavior to players and coaches alike. Sheffer also travels throughout Israel and abroad speaking to various audiences about his personal life story, emphasizing his message of courtesy, strong moral values. Basketball remains an important fixture in his life, as he now runs clinics for youngsters that focus not only on improving their game

but building character. Bruce Potash, Beth Israel board member, is a great promoter of scholar-in-residence weekends. “Welcoming highquality speakers to Omaha is an honor for Beth Israel. It is always a great ‘shot in the arm’ to be challenged from the messages that are shared” he commented. “Having Doran Sheffer share his journey from the sports world to a spiritual life should be fascinating.” Bruce also commented it is great to see the support from so many people from the greater Jewish community at these types of events. Sheffer’s visit will include a visit to Friedel Jewish Academy, a talk following Shabbat dinner, and speaking again Saturday morning following kiddush lunch. On Sunday morning Feb. 25 Sheffer will lead a youth basketball clinic for ages 13-18 from 10:30am-noon. Space is limited. “The Sunday youth clinic will be a really great event,” reports Rabbi Shlomo Abramovich. “While not as well known in the U.S., Doron Sheffer is a legend in the Israeli basketball world. His clinics in Israel are highly ranked and sought after.” In addition to time on the court, clinic participants will learn about Sheffer’s career, his spiritual journey, and the importance of combining sports with values, respect and courtesy. The clinic is free of charge; however, registration is required at orthodoxomaha.org. Reservations for the Feb. 23 Shabbat dinner are needed by Monday, Feb. 19. The menu will include barbecue brisket and chicken, salad, corn-on-the-cob, challah, rice and dessert. The cost is $15 for adults, $7 for ages 3-12, and free of charge for those under 3. While kiddush lunch is free of charge, reservations are appreciated for planning purposes. Register for both meal events and the basketball clinic at orthodox omaha.org or call 402.556.6288.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha is excited to be a part of this amazing grant opportunity! A FUNDING OPPORTUNITY TO

FUNDED BY THE STAENBERG FAMILY FOUNDATION AND FRIENDS OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF OMAHA

Fund your Jewish organization’s* operations, project or program with an Anything Grant.

Apply online at jewishomaha.spectrumportal.net Applications are open from January 29 - February 26, 2018

Eligible grant applications could be for anything, including: • Hiring a nonprofit consultant • Purchasing technology • Staff/Board professional development • Building beautification/improvement

These one-time matching grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000, equal to 50 percent of the project budget. Organizations are responsible for raising the remaining 50 percent from other sources. Project budget not to exceed $10,000.

*Available to Jewish organizations in Omaha, Lincoln and Council Bluffs, IA

For more information visit www.jewishomaha.org/education/scholarships-and-grants/view/anything-grants/ Questions? Contact Louri Sullivan at lsullivan@jewishomaha.org.


b2 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

community

i

You named your daughter what?

EstiE anD lEibEl bauMGartEn people felt they had to be on their best and paid the outstanding balance of n this day and age our daughter’s behavior, but that that doesn’t always $6,700 - making sure to leave before the name is a novelty. “Mushka” is al- pan out. The Rebbetzin found a way to distraught woman saw her or noticed most unheard of in Omaha (un- defuse every awkward situation to make what she had done. less you’ve met her aunt, the everyone comfortable. From a child Even before she became “the Rebbetinimitable Mushka Katzman). We who broke something or spilled a drink zin,” she was a giant of a woman: scholare often asked what her name means to giving thoughtful dating advice. arly, learned and blessed with incredible and where it comes from. talents. As a teenager living The full name is Chaya under Soviet persecution and Mushka, Chaya meaning life the risk of death, the Rebbetzin and Mushka meaning spice. played a pivotal role in runShe is named for the Rebbetning her father’s (the Rebbe’s zin, the wife of the Lubavitcher predecessor) network of illegal Rebbe, whose 30th anniverunderground Jewish schools sary of passing we commemoand humanitarian efforts. rate on the 22nd of Shevat After her father’s passing, her (Feb. 7 this year). husband initially declined to At home in Brooklyn accept the mantle of Chabad Crown Heights to be specific – leadership. Knowing full well she is one of thousands of that her husband being the young women and little girls Rebbe would mean the end of with this name. After the Rebany semblance of a normal life, betzin’s passing in 1988, many the Rebbetzin encouraged and Chabad followers named their insisted that her husband bedaughters after her, paying come the Rebbe, warning that tribute to her life and legacy. “30 years of my father’s selfBut what is that legacy? sacrifice would go to waste.” It As the Lubavitcher Rebbetis thanks to the Rebbetzin that zin, wife of a world-renowned the Rebbe’s global revolution Rebbe and the most respected was allowed to take place. person in her neighborhood, We named our daughter Mushka with her grandfather and baby brother, yitzchak. she shunned any publicity or Chaya Mushka to pay tribute honor. She was barely ever seen or Once, while driving, the road was to an incredible woman, and in the heard from! Though she was quiet and closed due to road works. On the de- hope she will grow to embody some of private, the stories told by the few who tour, the Rebbetzin heard a commotion her namesake’s qualities. We teach did meet her paint a picture of un- and a woman crying near a moving Mushka about the Rebbetzin’s modest matched sensitivity and thoughtfulness. truck and a county Marshal. She re- sensitivity and pray that her “life” is enNo matter the age or stature of the visi- quested the driver stop the car and in- riched with the “spice” of thoughtfultor, the Rebbetzin put herself in their vestigate. The lady was a Russian ness and understanding toward others. shoes and was careful about her choice immigrant being evicted from her To read more about the Rebbetzin, of words and her phrasing of questions. apartment due to lapsed rent payments. please visit www.ochabad.com/ In her house – the Rebbe’s house! – The Rebbetzin quietly wrote a check 2100123.

Visit us at jewishomaha.org

Dr. Eppel to speak at Tifereth Israel

nancy cOrEn Dr. Michael Eppel has recently returned from Bangladesh where he did humanitarian work in a large camp housing Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Join us on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. as he shares information about the current conditions he witnessed in the refugee camp and his understanding of the plight facing the Dr. Michael Eppel Rohingya people. This event will be held in the Tifereth Israel Synagogue lounge.

2018-19 Scholarship applications now available

Gabby blair Staff Writer, Jewish Press Financial assistance may be available for qualified applicants planning to attend the Pennie Z. Davis Child Development Center, Friedel Jewish Academy, JCC summer camp, Jewish residential summer camp, Israel programs, college, vocational and technical schools, and adult Jewish education classes. Scholarship and grant applications can be found on the Jewish Federation of Omaha webpage at: http://www.jewishomaha.org/ education/scholarships-and-grants/. Applications and all required documentation are due March 1, 2018. Questions? Please contact Diane Stamp at 402.334.6407 or dstamp@jewishomaha.org.

Organizations

b’nai b’rith brEaDbrEakErs

B’nai B’rith Breadbreakers meets weekly on Wednesdays at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home auditorium from noon to 1 p.m. For specific speaker information, please email Gary.Javitch@Gmail.com, Breadbreakers chairman. For more information or to be placed on the email list call 402.334.6443 or bnaibrith@jewishomaha.org.


The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | B3

Women’s Book Club at Beth El: A good read

Beth El Women’s Book Club members appreciate literary talent. Darlene Golbitz, left, Lou Lukas, Leah Grunkin, Judith Barnes, Deb Kutler, Helene Lohman, Alice Weiss, Sheryl Friedman. OzziE NOGG Every other month since 2015, members of the Beth El Synagogue Women’s Book Club have met to discuss work of Jewish content written by Jewish women. On Monday, Feb. 19, the group will celebrate it’s 3rd anniversary with a pot-luck dinner in the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home boardroom. The celebration recognizes the Book Club’s unusual format. “We wanted to do more than read a book and talk about it,” said Darlene Golbitz, one of the group’s founders. “We wanted to get the author’s personal story, too. So before each meeting, we contact the author by email and ask if she’d be willing to have a speaker phone conversation with us on the night we’re discussing her book. So far, all of them have loved the idea.” According to Golbitz, the phone conversations can last up to an hour. “We ask the authors about their writing habits and the way they juggle family life around it. They tell us how they decided on the book’s topic and what kind of research they do. They give us the lowdown on their editors, the publishing process and what they’re writing next. The club meets in one of our homes, and when we tell an author that we bring snacks related to the theme or setting of her book, she always asks what we’re serving. Authors are a very interesting group, as you can imagine.” In 2017, the Beth El Women’s Book Club read The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson; The Rythym of Memory by Alyson

Richman; The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers; Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon; Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen; and Lynda Cohen Loigman’s Two-Family House. “Most of our choices have been listed through Jewish Book Council,” Darlene said. “We’ve picked The Innocents by Francesca Segal for our first book of 2018. Francesca is the daughter of Erich Segal, the author of Love Story; and her book, The Innocents, won the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction — the reviews describe it as sort of a Jewish Downton Abbey — so we’re sure it will be a fun read.” The Book Club’s up-close look at authors and the craft of writing has, according to Darlene, “added to our understanding and appreciation of literature and the books we read. Writers are a very disciplined group. Most of them take five to ten years from getting the idea for a book, to writing, to publishing. And they all have characters walking around in their heads, talking. When we told one author we were surprised when her main character chose to go to France, she responded, ‘Me, too.’ Most authors we’ve talked to say the decisions made by their characters often represent parts of themselves. After all, these are Jewish women, writing about Jewish women, so the theory makes sense. We look forward to reading more books and ‘meeting’ their authors this year.” To join the Beth El Synagogue Women’s Book Club, email Darlene Golbitz at darlene.golbitz@gmail.com.

WORD/PLAY Prints, Photographs, and Paintings by Ed Ruscha NOW THROUGH MAY 6, 2018 Presenting Sponsor:

Major Sponsors:

Annette and Paul Smith

New exhibit open at Joslyn: Word/Play

Word/Play is the first major exhibition to feature Art, Ruscha demonstrated a talent for deftly combining imagery and text during his student years. internationally-renowned artist Ed Ruscha in his At turns poignant, provocative, humorous, and home state of Nebraska. Born in Omaha in 1937, confounding, Ruscha’s use of the written word Ruscha lived in the city for several years before has remained a signature element of his work his family moved to Oklahoma City. In 1956, he throughout his career. relocated to Los Angeles to study commercial art An exhibition mobile tour is offered in English at the Chouinard Art Institute (now called and Spanish on visitors’ own web-enabled mobile CalArts), and quickly became a fixture in the devices. The 4th Annual Graham and Sally Lusk highly energized West Coast art scene. Word/Play Lecture on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. celetraces some of the most important developments in Ruscha’s career over the last sixty years, bring- brates the exhibition. Guest speaker Christopher Knight, art critic for the Los Angeles Times, will ing together prints, photographs, and artist books dating from the 1960s through 2015, accompaspeak about Ruscha’s use of language in his art. nied by a selection of major paintings. Visit www.joslyn.org for more exhibition related Mining Ruscha’s incisive reading of the physical events and programs. and social landscapes of Southern California and Word/Play is a ticketed exhibition, on view at the American West, the exhibition highlights his Joslyn through Sunday, May 6. Tickets: Joslyn capacity to ennoble the mundane and cleverly members and youth ages 17 and younger free; transform it into the extraordinary. Central to this general public adults $10, college students $5 theme is the artist’s rigorous engagement with (UNMC students free; all college students free language. An important early figure in Conceptual Feb. 24 and 25). PAID ADVERTISEMENT

Contributing Sponsors:

Robert H. Storz Foundation

Supporting Sponsors:

Carol and Steven Bloch Rae and Bill Dyer Kathy and Marc LeBaron The Moglia Family Foundation Lisa and Tom Smith

Word/Play is the first major exhibition to feature internationally-renowned artist Ed Ruscha in his home state of Nebraska. Prints, photographs, and artist books from the 1960s through 2015 are complemented by a selection of major paintings. Explore Ruscha’s deft talent for combining imagery and text, his incisive reading of the landscapes of the American West, and his ongoing commitment to transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

joslynartmuseum

Additional support provided by Karen and James Linder

IMAGE: Ed Ruscha (American, b. 1937), Periods, 2013, lithograph, 31 5/8 x 30 1/2 in. (framed), Edition of 60, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian, © Ed Ruscha

2200 Dodge St. | Omaha, NE 68102 | (402) 342-3300 | www.joslyn.org


B4 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | B5

community

ighty-five people attended the FED Summer Camp event on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Pella at the Blackstone. Everything brought back fun memories from camp, the dĂŠcor, peanut butter and jelly bar, bug juice and color wars. Danny Cohn and Kari Tauber chaired the event. The special guest for the evening was Celebrity Chef Molly Yeh, creator of the food blog, My Name is yeh and author of Molly on the Range. The menu was curated by Molly and the food was prepared by Abraham Catering. Announcements were made, pictures taken and fun was had by all, many attending the after party. This event was intended for Generation NOW! Federation programming catering to community members 21-45. The event was generously sponsored by the Staenberg Family Foundation Anything Grant and the Special Donor-Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.


B6 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

synagogues B’naI Israel synagogue

618 Mynster Street Council Bluffs, IA 51503-0766 712.322.4705 email: CBsynagogue@hotmail.com

BeTh el synagogue

Member of United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism 14506 California Street Omaha, NE 68154-1980 402.492.8550 bethel-omaha.org

BeTh Israel synagogue

Member of Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America 12604 Pacific Street Omaha, NE. 68154 402.556.6288 BethIsrael@OrthodoxOmaha.org

ChaBad house

An Affiliate of Chabad-Lubavitch 1866 South 120 Street Omaha, NE 68144-1646 402.330.1800 OChabad.com email: chabad@aol.com

CongregaTIon B’naI Jeshurun

South Street Temple Union for Reform Judaism 2061 South 20th Street Lincoln, NE 68502-2797 402.435.8004 www.southstreettemple.org

offuTT aIr forCe Base

Capehart Chapel 2500 Capehart Road Offutt AFB, NE 68123 402.294.6244 email: oafbjsll@icloud.com

rose BlumkIn JewIsh home

323 South 132 Street Omaha, NE 68154

Temple Israel

Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) 13111 Sterling Ridge Drive Omaha, NE 68144-1206 402.556.6536 templeisraelomaha.com

TIfereTh Israel

Member of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 3219 Sheridan Boulevard Lincoln, NE 68502-5236 402.423.8569 tiferethisraellincoln.org

B’naI Israel synagogue

Please join us for our upcoming events: Join us for our monthly Shabbat Speakers Series on feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. with guest speaker Council Bluffs resident and Holocaust Survivor, Kitty Williams. Our service leader is Larry Blass, and as always, an oneg to follow service. Everyone is always welcome at B’nai Israel! For information on our historic synagogue, please contact any of our board members: Scott Friedman, Rick Katelman, Carole Lainof, Marty Ricks, Sissy Silber, Nancy Wolf and Phil Wolf.

BeTh el synagogue

Services conducted by Rabbi Steven Abraham and Hazzan Michael Krausman. frIday: Kabbalat Shabbat, 6 p.m. saTurday: Shabbat Services, 9:30 a.m.; Shabbat’s Cool, Grades 3-7, 10 a.m.; Mini-Minyannaires, 10:45 a.m.; Mincha-Ma’ariv, 5:45 p.m. weekday serVICes: Sundays, 9:30 a.m. & 5:30 p.m.; weekdays, 7 a.m. & 5:30 p.m. sunday: Hamentaschen Bake-A-Thon, A Project of the Miriam Initiative, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; BESTT Classes, 9:30 a.m.-noon; Torah Study, 10 a.m.; USY/Kadima Purim Prep, noon. monday: Enchanted Circles with Dr. Liora (Lou) Lukas, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: The Ethical Life with Rabbi Abraham, noon at Whole Foods; Chesed Committee visits Remington Heights, 2 p.m. wednesday: BESTT Classes, 4:15 p.m.; USY/Kadima Purim Prep, 5:15 p.m.; Minor Prophets with Leonard Greenspoon, 6 p.m.; Hebrew High, 6:30 p.m.; The Ethical Life with Rabbi Abraham, 7 p.m. Thursday: Hebrew Reading in your Pajamas, 8-9:30 p.m. For access to this online class, email Hazzan Krausman at hazzankrausman@bethel-omaha.org. No BESTT Classes, sunday, feb. 18. Women’s Book Group, monday, feb. 19, 6:30 p.m. will discuss The Innocents, by Francesca Segal. In honor of our book club anniversary, we will enjoy our annual pot luck dairy dinner at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home. New members are welcome. Contact Darlene Golbitz for more information. All classes and programs are open to everyone in the Jewish community.

BeTh Israel synagogue

Services conducted by Rabbi Ari Dembitzer. frIday: Shacharit, 7 a.m.; Candle Lighting and Mincha, 5:33 p.m. saTurday: Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Insights into the Weekly Torah, 4:30 p.m.; Mincha/Seudah Shlishit, 5:15 p.m.; Havdalah, 6:35 p.m. sunday: Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Kashrut — What to Eat with Rabbi Shlomo, 10 a.m. monday: Shacharit, 7 a.m. Tuesday: Shacharit, 7 a.m. wednesday: Shacharit, 7 a.m.; Board of Commissioners Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Shacharit, 6:45 a.m.

ChaBad house

Office hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Services conducted by Rabbi Mendel Katzman. frIday: Shacharit, 7 a.m. followed by coffee, treats, study and shmoozing. saTurday: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m. weekdays: Shacharit, 7 a.m. followed by coffee, treats, study and shmoozing. monday: Personal Parsha class, 9:30 a.m. with Shani. wednesday: Mystical Thinking, 9:30 a.m. with Rabbi Katzman. Thursday: Talmud Class, noon with Rabbi Katzman. All programs are open to the entire community.

CongregaTIon B’naI Jeshurun

Services conducted by Rabbi Teri Appleby. frIday: Candlelighting, 5:36 p.m.; Shabbat Shaleim Evening Service, 6:30 p.m.; Oneg, 7:30 p.m. saTurday: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m.; Torah Study on Parashat Mishpatim, 10:30 a.m.; Havdalah (72 minutes), 7:08 p.m.

sunday: LJCS Gan through Grade 7, 9:30 a.m.; LJCS Gesher, 10 a.m.; Beginning Adult Hebrew, 11:30 a.m.; Purim Spiel Rehearsal, 1 p.m.; Come learn and play Pickleball, 7-9 p.m. All equipment furnished. Wear comfortable clothing. For questions, call or text Miriam Wallick at miriam57@aol.com. wednesday: LJCS Hebrew School, 4 p.m. SST is partnering with "We Can Do This" to provide weekend meals to the children of the F Street Community Center. Join us as we provide lunch on the third Sunday of every month. Food/ monetary donations, meal preparation and assistance with setting up, serving, and clean-up are needed! We will serve our next meal on feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. For more information, email For more information, contact Aimee Hyten at aimee.hyten@gmail.com or Lupe Malcom at lupemal com65@gmail.com. It's not too soon to be thinking about summer camp! All Federation families are eligible for Camp Incentive Grants of $300 per camper to pay the initial camp registration deposit.

offuTT aIr forCe Base

frIday: Services, 7:30 p.m. every first and third of the month.

rose BlumkIn JewIsh home

saTurday: Services, 9:15 a.m. led by Marty Shukert. Services will be held in the Chapel. Members of the community are invited to attend.

Temple Israel

frIday: Shabbat Comes to You at The Heritage Sterling Ridge, 4 p.m.; Old School Shabbat Service and Dinner, 5:45 p.m. In partnership with PJ Library join us for an Old School Shabbat dinner & songs Cost is $5 per child, $7 per adult, max $25 per family. RSVP required; Shabbat Service, 6 p.m. saTurday: Torah Study, 9:15 a.m.; Shabbat Service, 10:30 a.m. sunday: Kids’ Choir, 9:30 a.m. All children in grades 25 are welcome to join Temple Israel’s Kids’ Choir. Contact Cantor Shermet for more information; Madrichim Meeting, 9:30 a.m.; Grades K-6, 10 a.m.; Temple Tots Sunday, 10:30 a.m.; Temple Israel Book Club, 10:30 a.m.; OTYG Board Meeting, noon; Religious School Steering Committe Meeting, noon; Taste of Tri-Faith, 12:30 p.m. Temple Israel is proud to host it this year. Join us as we welcome our TriFaith members to share food with the community all around us. This year, in addition to bringing a dish to share, we ask that you also bring non-perishable food to donate to Countryside Community Church’s food bank. Tuesday: Rosh Chodesh Event: Poetry Slam and Storytelling, 6:30 p.m. As we welcome the month of Adar at our upcoming Rosh Chodesh gathering, Ellen Platt is hosting an exciting evening of creative writing and sharing. Cathy Kessler, a Creative Writing and English teacher, will be our guest of honor and will teach us how to capture our stories and share them in a supportive group setting. RSVP required. wednesday: Grades 3-6, 4 p.m.; T’filah for School, 4:30 p.m.; School Dinner, 6 p.m.; Grades 7-12, 6 p.m.; Family School, 6 p.m.; Guiding Principles for the Synagogue Community: Tzadikim: Disagree Respectfully, 6:30 p.m. with Rabbi Emeritus Azriel.

Thursday: Jewish Heroes, Heroines, and Personalities: Yehudah Amichai, 10 a.m. by Rabbi Emeritus Azriel. OTYG Shabbat, friday, feb. 16, 6 p.m. Join OTYG as we attend Shabbat services together, followed by a fun activity afterwards. RSVP to Aliyah Lasky, alasky@templeisra elomaha.com, by monday, feb. 12. LGBT+ Shabbat Dinner, friday, feb. 16, 7 p.m. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally; all are welcome to a Shabbat dinner. Dinner will follow services. The cost is $10. We will discuss forming a team to plan for this summer’s Pride Parade and any other events that we can dream up together. Bring your significant other or a friend! RSVP to Temple Israel, rsVp@templeisraelomaha.com or 402.556.6536, by monday, feb. 12 and let us know if you have any dietary needs. Guiding Principles for the Synagogue Community: Y’rushalayim: Help to Create a Friendly and Supportive Environment, wednesday, feb. 21, 6:30 p.m. taught by Rabbi Stoller. Jewish Heroes, Heroines, and Personalities: Joseph, Moses, and David, Thursday, feb. 22, 10 a.m. taught by Dr. Ari Kohen, Professor of Social Justice, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. All classes will meet at Temple Israel.

TIfereTh Israel

Services conducted by lay leader Nancy Coren. Office hours: monday-friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. frIday: Share Shabbat Celebration, 6:30 p.m. at Julie and David Brockmans home (10500 Cromwell Drive). Bring a dairy or pareve salad, vegetable dish or dessert. The main dish, challah and grape juice will be provided. Please RSVP to the synagogue office. saTurday: Shabbat Morning service, 10 a.m.; Junior Congregation, 11 a.m.; Services will be followed by a special Kiddush luncheon sponsored by the Watch family. sunday: LJCS Gan through Grade 7, 9:30 a.m.; LJCS Gesher, 10 a.m.; Come learn and play Pickleball, 7-9 p.m. All equipment furnished. Wear comfortable clothing. For questions, call or text Miriam Wallick at miriam57@aol.com. monday: Second Half of the DVD Course Beginnings of Judaism, 7:30-9 p.m. wednesday: LJCS Hebrew School, 4 p.m. Thursday: Hebrew classes for adults, 6:30-7:30 p.m., with Esti Sheinberg. Each meeting will include listening, speaking and a little reading. Lunch and Learn Series on shabbat morning, feb. 17, after services with Gary Hill speaking about "Normality in Prisons." He will discuss different approaches to prison and programming for inmates. Dr. Michael Eppel has recently returned from Bangladesh where he did humanitarian work in a large camp housing Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and he will be speaking on sunday, feb. 18, 3 p.m. at Tifereth Israel about the current conditions he witnessed in the refugee camp and his understanding of the plight facing the Rohingya people. PJ's and Pancakes, feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. Children ages 112 are invited to our community PJ Library event. We will have story time and breakfast for dinner! Please RSVP to Nava or Peter in your respective offices if you are able to join this program with members of your family no later than feb. 14. It's not too soon to be thinking about summer camp! All Federation families are eligible for Camp Incentive Grants of $300 per camper to pay the initial camp registration deposit. Application packets are availible in the Tifereth Israel foyer.

NY triplets seek apology, compensation JTA Two siblings from triplets who were separated at birth and given up for adoption as part of an experiment are demanding compensation from the Jewish organization they say is responsible for it. In 1961, Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman were separated at birth in New York and adopted by three different families with varying financial means for a controversial experiment that sought to determine to what degree personalities are shaped by external circumstances. They were placed in foster care by the now-defunct Louise Wise Agency as part of a study by the Manhattan Child Development Center, which would later merge into the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Washing-

ton Post reported Sunday. The triplets were brought in for evaluations periodically by Dr. Peter Neubauer, a psychoanalyst with the Manhattan Child Development Center, according to the report. “It was cruel; it was wrong,” Kellman told the Post, which recounted the triplets’ story in writing about a new documentary about them, Three Identical Strangers. The documentary, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival last month, was celebrated as one of the event’s most memorable works. Galland committed suicide in the 1990s. Now Kellman and Shafran are demanding compensation, an apology and additional details about their case from the Jewish Board.


The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018 | b7

lifecycles In memorIam

anne ruth SkolkIn

Anne Ruth “Nannie Annie” Skolkin passed away on Jan. 31 at age 92. Services were held Feb. 4 at Rose Hill Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. She was preceded in death by her Russian immigrant parents, Samuel and Geisha Tannenbaum; and siblings Abe, Jack, Sarah and Alex. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Andrea; granddaughters: Marlee and Maddison; grand dog Bella, and niece and nephew-in-law, Marion and Peter Wulfsohn and many close friends. She was born on January 26, 1926 in Denver, Colorado and was an early feminist, graduate of University of Denver, leader in college Hillel, later Sisterhood and Temple Emanuel in Hawaii, Hadassah in St. Paul Minnesota, started the Yiddish club and was active in exercise at the JCC in Omaha having retired from United Airlines. Anne lived by the Golden Rule and embodied a generous spirit until her last moments. She will be deeply missed and treasured in her families’ and friends’ memory forever. Memorials may be made to Yiddish Book Center, 1021 West St, Amherst, MA 01002, or the Rose Blumkin Home 323 S. 132nd Street, Omaha, NE 68154.

Girl Scout Cookies are in!

Cookies are on salethrough March 9. Help support your local JCC Girl Scout Troop 42729. Procedes will help the girls attend a summer camp out. JCC GirlScouts are also participating in the “gi of sharing program”. ey are selling cookies to be donated to the JFS Pantry. We’ll have a booth set up Monday, Feb 12 from 3:45-5:30 p.m. outside the JCC entrance near Friedel Jewish Academy. ank you for your support! For more information or questions you may contact JCC Girl Scouts Troop 42729 leaders, Stephanie Beneda and Lauren Tam at 402.650.7828.

Israel strikes Hamas

JTA news sTAff Following the launch of a rocket into Israel from Gaza, Israeli forces carried out airstrikes targeting several sites in the enclave’s northern tip. e exchange ended with no injuries on either side. e strikes hit targets near the al-Nada Towers in northeastern Beit Lahiya. According to Army Radio, at least one of the targets was a Hamas observation post. “Israel considers Hamas as the sole entity responsible for what goes on in the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s unit said in a statement.

ADL chief: Israel deporting African migrants would appear racist

WASHINGTON | JTA Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, likened African migrants in Israel to the “Dreamers” at the heart of a contentious U.S. immigration debate and suggested that deporting them would make Israel appear racist. “African refugees, who seem like the Dreamers in the U.S. — young people who by dint of their parents’ decisions have grown up in this country — who speak fluent Hebrew, when you start physically picking them up and sending them over the border back to South Sudan or Rwanda all the while, while you don’t do the same to Ukrainians or Eastern Europeans who overstay their visas, guys, this is not going to end well,” Greenblatt said Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. Greenblatt has joined calls on Israel not to deport the African migrants, but casting the call in terms that suggested that it would look racist is an escalation of the debate. Dreamers is a term coined by immigration advocates to describe illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. President Donald Trump has removed Obamaera protections for them, but has said he will allow them to stay if Democrats agree to make immigration laws more restrictive. Much of the organized Jewish community, including the ADL, has lined up with Democrats and immigration advocates who call for removing the threat of deportation of the Dreamers. e government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year announced plans to deport or jail some 38,000 African migrants seeking asylum status. A range of major U.S. Jewish groups has called on Netanyahu to abandon the plan. is week, the Conservative movement joined the array when its Rabbinical Assembly said in a statement that it has “grave concerns about this initiative, which has raised cries of dissent in Israel and throughout the Jewish world.” Greenblatt warned that the deportation would further erode U.S. Jewish support for Israel, which has taken hits over restrictions on non-Orthodox Jewish activity in Israel and previously because of tensions between the governments of Netanyahu and former President Barack Obama. “I think Israel has the most unique, extraordinary asset in its hands, which is the support of the Diaspora and American Jewry,” he said. “It is a natural resource that you will squander, that you will suboptimize and that won’t always be there if you don’t manage it well.”

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B8 | The Jewish Press | February 9, 2018

worldnews

Winter Olympics 2018: Five Jewish storylines to watch GaBe FRIedman JTA he world is about to revolve around Pyeongchang, a mountainous county in the northern half of South Korea, for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Jewish fans won’t have quite as many standout athletes to cheer for this year as they did in 2016, when multiple American members of the tribe won medals at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. But there are several compelling Jewish stories to catch up on before the action starts. Israel is sending its largest team ever. Before this year, the largest Israeli delegation at a Winter Olympics was five. That shouldn’t sound too surprising, given that over 60 percent of the country’s landscape is desert, and it isn’t the best place for winter sports training. This year, however, the record will double. Seven of Israel’s 10 representatives will compete in figure skating. That group is anchored by Alexei Bychenko, who in 2016 became the first skater to earn a medal for Israel at a European Championships event. Bychenko, 29, who skated for Ukraine until 2009 and has been ranked as one of the top 10 male skaters in the world, is likely Israel’s best chance to win a medal (and like U.S. Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman, Bychenko has been known to perform to Hava Nagila). The Jewish state is sending another kind of skater, too — the faster kind. Vladislav Bykanov, who won a bronze medal earlier this month at the European Championships, will compete in speed skating. Itamar Biran, a 19-year-old born in London, will represent Israel in alpine skiing. This american never thought she’d do pairs skating — or compete for Israel. Paige Conners is having her Olympic dream come true in about the last way she expected. According to a video by 13WHAM, the ABC affiliate in Rochester, New York, the 17-year-old Conners was ill when

she was supposed to try out for the U.S. figure skating team. With her hopes of competing in peril, her mother, who has Israeli citizenship, pointed out another opportunity: skating for the Israeli team.

Short track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, lower left, leading the Israeli Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7, 2014. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Conners jumped at the opportunity, but Israel offered her a spot only if she competed in the pairs competition. She had never tried it before and figured she never would. But she quickly connected with Evgeni Krasnopolski, a 29-year-old pairs veteran, and in barely six months after Conners adopted the new style, the duo performed well enough at the Olympic qualifiers in September to make the cut. “No one really believes it,” she told 13WHAM. Israel’s first skeleton Olympian calls himself the “Hebrew Hammer.” A few years ago, A.J. Edelman was an MIT graduate who worked as a product manager for Oracle. Now the Brookline,

Massachusetts, native will get a chance to make history for Israel as he becomes the country’s first skeleton Olympian next week, steering a flimsy sled down the track at the Pyeongchang Sliding Center. “I want to challenge the perception of what Jews and Israelis can do in sports,” he told the Forward. He is also clearly a fan of the comedy film “The Hebrew Hammer,” since he goes by the protagonist’s nickname. While his teammates and friends love it, his mother apparently doesn’t. a former nHL player gets another chance to play for the U.S. Jonathon Blum probably longs for the time he spent playing in the NHL. These days, the Jewish 29-year-old plays for a team in Vladivostok, Russia — a city so remote that flights of six hours or more are required to play 24 of its 26 opponents. It is closer to Alaska than it is to St. Petersburg. Blum, a former first-round NHL draft pick, played for the Nashville Predators from 2010-13, and for the Minnesota Wild for stints in the 2013-15 seasons. Those cities are just a little closer to where he grew up in Southern California. This year, the NHL decided that it would not let its players participate in the Olympics to protect them from injuries. That opened the door for non-NHL players like Blum, a 6foot-2 defenseman who has played on the U.S. team before, to represent his native country in South Korea. Israel isn’t the only country sending Jewish skaters. On the U.S. squad, look out for Jason Brown if he gets a chance to skate. After a disappointing performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this month, Brown is the U.S. team’s first alternate. But on the ice, the 23-year-old is known for skating to music from Riverdance and Hamilton. And who would have thought that a certified Krav Maga instructor would skate for Canada and not Israel? Dylan Moscovitch helped Canada win a team silver medal in Sochi four years ago, and he’s back competing in the pairs contest with partner Liubov Ilyuschechkina.

February 9, 2018  

Jewish Press

February 9, 2018  

Jewish Press