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A Portrait of the Omaha Jewish Community page 6
How The Red Tent invented a new kind of fiction page 16
inside Viewpoint Synagogues Life Cycles
The Meaning of Eclipse in Judaism AU G U ST 1 1 , 2 0 1 7 | 1 9 AV 5 7 7 7 | V O L. 9 7 | NO . 4 3 | C a Nd leli G H ti NG | FRID AY , AU G U ST 1 1 , 8 : 1 0 P. M.
Mary Sue GroSSMaN Beth Israel Synagogue nless you are completely disconnected from media, you know that the first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in 38 years will occur on Aug. 21. Omahans will get to see 98% of the total eclipse beginning at 11:38 a.m., with maximum viewing at 1:04 p.m. and partial viewing ending at 2:30 p.m. At Beth Israel, this special happening will be the focus on Shabbat, Aug.19 with guest speaker, Rabbi Dr. Joel Zeff. Rabbi Zeff will give the morning sermon titled The Meaning of Eclipse in Judaism. He will also give a talk immediately after kiddush, Jerusalem: What’s in a Name. Shabbat services begin at 9 a.m. with the sermon at approximately 10:15 a.m. “As Jews, we are closely tied to the lunar cycle and most certainly that of the eclipse, or See eclipse page 2
How lucky can you get? page 3
12 14 15
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Mort NaiMaN Senior Vice President Global Philanthropy, Jewish Agency For Israel On July 16, 2017 a wild brushfire swept through the Canaan neighborhood in the
northern city of Tzfat. Exceptionally hot, dry weather fueled the flames and forced the evacuation of hundreds of individuals and families from their homes. The evacuated households represent a microcosm of Israel’s diverse society: children, families, singles, elderly, Holocaust survivors and immigrants; secular and religious. The Jewish Agency for Israel responded swiftly and immediately. In coordination with the municipality of Tzfat, we offered evacuees – those who were not able to return home– temporary housing in a local Jewish Agency absorption center. Earlier this week, $1,000 emergency grants See Help where it’s needed page 3
Women’s event: Mega Challah Bake
Holly Weil with daughter Julia at last year’s Mega Challah Bake SHaNi KatzMaN was also meaningful: bringing toIf you were there last year, during gether a large number of women the Mega Challah Bake, you know: from all over the community See Mega Challah Bake page 4 it was exciting and a lot of fun. It
2 | The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017
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Continued from page 1 alignment. We follow the lunar calendar: that which waxes and wanes, that which goes up and down in our skies” shares Rabbi Ari Dembitzer. “Similarly, people have ups and downs, often in sync with that of the moon cycles, as scientists have found. As a people, Jews never give up hope, there is always a tomorrow, just as there will always be another full moon.” Rabbi Zeff and his wife, Donna, who live in Israel, are traveling to Nebraska by way of a summer sabbatical in California. They Rabbi dr. Joel zeff are looking forward to experiencing the eclipse from such a tremendous vantage point. Rabbi Zeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew Language, a master’s degree in Jewish History, and received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. He has served as the spiritual leader of congregations in Los Angeles and Sacramento. The Zeff family moved to Israel in 1994 where Rabbi Zeff has held senior positions in the field of yeshiva education. Concurrent with his rabbinic work, he has completed a doctorate in Pastoral Counseling and advanced training in TEAM-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, exploring the interface between psychology, spirituality, and ethics. Rabbi Joel and Donna Zeff are the proud parents of nine children and grandparents to 11. Aug. 19 will also feature Beth Israel’s monthly simcha kiddush. For just $25, join in the celebration of August birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. Contact the synagogue office at 402.556.6288 to be a part of the fun or for any other questions.
There are many fun facts to learn about the solar eclipse before the big day. Take the time to study with your family and make sure you use an age appropriate and reputable web page. Here at a few times and facts to note. And remember to NEVER look at a partial eclipse, EVER*! Monday, aug. 21, 2017 – Omaha • Eclipse begins 11:38 a.m. • Eclipse at maximum 1:04 p.m. • Eclipse ends 2:30 p.m. • Duration 2 hours, 52 minutes • A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is directly between the sun and earth, casting a shadow on earth. • The entire continental U.S. should see at least a partial eclipse, with the moon covering at least 48 percent of the sun’s surface. • Depending on a person’s location, the total eclipse will last for as little as 30 seconds or as long as 2 minutes, 41 seconds. • The first viewing will be on the northwest Oregon coast. • The eclipse ends at the Atlantic Ocean’s edge on the South Carolina coast. • States where the total eclipse will appear, in order: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. • A telescope is not needed. Totality is safe to view with the naked eye, as long as the moon’s disk completely covers the sun.* *But any naked-eye viewing of a less-than-100-percent eclipse will damage eyes.
dear Rabbi, My toddler throws a tantrum when things don’t go his way. inevitably, his behavior is often out of control. is there some mystical formula for dealing with this? Miserable Mom Dear Miserable, The short answer is no. Unfortunately, there is no mystical formula per se, that will whip your tantruming tod- Rabbi Mendel dler into shape. There are some mysti- KatzMan cal insights, though, that can help you Chabad of Nebraska deal effectively with said toddler. Chassidism explains (as discussed recently in our Wednesday Tanya class) that each of us has an inner parent and inner child. The parents within are intellect — sechel. The child within is emotion — midot. When we lead with sechel, we are behaving like an adult. When midot control us, we are acting like a child. Children are basically a mixed bag of unbridled emotions. They react to what they experience with unfiltered joy,
anger, frustration, sadness. Their underdeveloped sechel does not control their midot. Their midot controls them. Adults, on the other hand, should be governed by sechel. As a child matures and reaches adulthood, he or she gains mastery over internal emotions and learns to temper and guide feelings with “advice” from the mind. We become “grown ups” when we are able to use sechel to develop self- control and behave appropriately, regardless of what we feel. When we interact with our young children, it helps to remember that a tantrum is midot - emotion gone wild. Perfectly age-appropriate for a young child. For the best outcome, the adult must lead with sechel - intellect, and not get drawn into an emotional battlefield. So when your child has a tantrum because his feelings have taken over, you keep your cool and lead with your brain. Wait out the storm and use your sechel to soothe and calm the child. Your child will not only “get over” the tantrum, but will learn from you how to manage his emotions with the strength of his mind. Do you have a question for a member of our clergy? Please send your inquiries to email@example.com with “Ask the Rabbi” in the subject line.
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continued from page 1 were distributed to the 14 families who lost their homes in the
devastation. Tzfat Mayor Ilan Shochat, along with the director of the social service department and Iris Posklinsky, the Jewish Agency for Israel Partnership Director for the Region, were in attendance when the grants were made. This gathering was filled with lots of emotion. The situation has devastated many families. Most have limited financial means; and for some, they do not even have insurance for their homes. Since the fire was not the result of a war or an act of terror, the families are not eligible for compensation from the State of Israel. These emergency grants are nearly all the financial support that they will receive. In the coming weeks, the families will meet with social services and other government agencies to receive subsidized housing, vouchers for food, clothing, etc. All the families were deeply touched by the support they have been given, Iris Posklinsky said: “As I watched today’s events unfold before me, my emotions and thoughts were similar to that of one of the victims – an 80 year old woman who was crying and saying over and over again “G-d bless the Jewish People, G-d bless the Jewish People”. We thank our partners, The Jewish Federations whose unwavering support enables us to quickly mobilize and provide immediate emergency assistance when required. On behalf of these 14 families, we thank you.
The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017 | 3
How lucky can you get? MArk kirchhoff Community Engagement & Education “My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.” So begins the remarkable novel, Lucky Us by Amy Bloom. The New York Times writes, “Lucky Us is a brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny novel of love, heartbreak, and luck.” The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group has chosen this novel for their August meeting. New members are welcome to join the group in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library at 1 p.m. on Aug. 17. The book tells the story Amy Bloom of Iris and her sidekick Credit: Beth Kelly Eva, disappointed by their families, as they journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across America in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island. With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. The book has been acclaimed as one, “filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events... a thrilling and resonant novel about
success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise.” Author Amy Bloom was trained as a social worker and has practiced psychotherapy. In July of 2010 she became the KimFrank Family University Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University. Previously, she was a senior lecturer of creative writing in the department of English at Yale. She has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom has also written articles in periodicals including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon.com. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories and several other anthologies. The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion group receives administrative support from the Community Engagement & Education arm of the Jewish Federation of Omaha. For information about the group, contact Shirly Banner at 402.334.6462 or email@example.com. To view books discussed by the group over the past several years, go to www.jewishomaha.org, click on the “Community & Education” pulldown tab and navigate to “Kripke Jewish Federation Library,” then to “Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group.”
4 | The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017
community Mega Challah Bake
Continued from page 1 to make challah together leaves us with something more than the sum of our parts. And so, on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m., we will do it again! Women and girls are gathering for mega challah bakes in communities across the globe in a show of solidarity, strength and in great numbers. All women in the community are invited to join us at the Jewish Community Center Auditorium to learn and connect while we mix our dough. If you already know how to make challah, (in fact, have done it in your own kitchen for decades), come anyway; if you’re new at this, all the more reason to join in. Even if you are decidedly NOT A BAKER, this event is still for you! Scheduled two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, the Mega Challah Bake is a great segue into a new and blessed year. And: a delightful musical component will enhance the event. In its more widely-known usage, the Hebrew word challah refers to the two loaves of bread that form the core of the Shabbat meal. But in its more basic, biblical and halachic meaning, challah is the piece of dough that is traditionally separated and consecrated to G-d every time we bake bread. The Separation of Challah is one of the 613 mitzvot (divine commandments) that constitute the body and soul of Jewish life. Replete with spiritual meaning, it is one of the three primary mitzvot of the Jewish woman and has a farreaching effect on the mind and heart of the one who fulfills it, on her household, and on the very character of her home. For more than a hundred generations, Jewish women throughout the world have fulfilled this beautiful and lifetransforming mitzvah. When the Jewish people first entered and settled the land of Israel, one of the many gifts they were commanded to give to the Kohanim, the priestly tribe who served in the Holy Temple, was “challah” -- a portion of dough separated from their kneading bowl every time they baked bread. In addition to its practical function as a gift to the kohen, the mitzvah of “Separating Challah” embodies a profound spiritual truth. Challah is G-d’s portion in our bread, in our life. It expresses the belief that all of our sustenance truly comes to us through G-d’s hand. Just as we may not use the bread dough unless we have separated challah, so too, a portion of our livelihood is always reserved for the giving of charity. The Torah refers to challah as the reishit--the first and the
The mitzvah of separating challah is incumbent on every Jew. Traditionally, however, this has been one of the special mitzvot entrusted to the Jewish woman. As the akeret habayit (foundation of the home), the woman not only prepares the physical sustenance for the family; but by observing this mitzvah, she nourishes it spiritually as well. The woman, so influential in shaping the values and attitudes of her family, brings blessings upon her home through this mitzvah and instills faith in G-d within those around her. The mitzvah of separating challah is symbolic of the entire practice of keeping kosher--in which the woman of the home plays the pivotal role--with its emphasis on elevating the physical and mundane to the realm of holiness. Jewish women have traditionally baked their own challah loaves in preparation for the Shabbat, treasuring the oppor-
best--of the kneading bowl. So, too, our spiritual pursuits may occupy only a small portion, quantity-wise, of our lives, but they are “the first and the best” in us, to which we devote the first moments of our day, the freshest of our energies, the keenest of our talents. Today, because the Holy Temple has been destroyed and the conditions of ritual purity in which the Kohanim ate the challah are not available, we do not actually give the challah to the kohen. However, in remembrance of this gift and in anticipation of the future redemption and rebuilding of the Holy Temple, we still observe the mitzvah of separating the challah portion. We remove the piece of dough; but instead of eating it, we burn it, as its sacredness prohibits using it in any way.
tunity to perform this special mitzvah. Register at ochabad.com/challah. Seat selections can be made online as well. All women and daughters are invited. Cost to participate is $25 per person, $18 for girls. Please reserve your spot by Aug. 23; aer that, reservations are $36. Included are all supplies and a souvenir mega challah bake apron. You can also be a Challah Queen Sponsor at $180. If you would like to volunteer for this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. is event is presented by Chabad’s Women of Worth and co-sponsored by Beth Israel Synagogue.
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Go Back to School with Michael Staenberg appointed to Wiesenthal Center Board of Trustees
MarcIal laVIña Staenberg Family Foundation, a supporting Assistant Director, Public Relations, foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. While the primary focus is to support Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance he Simon Wiesenthal Center is Jewish causes, their philanthropy also funds pleased to announce the apprograms related to arts and culture, chilpointment of dren, education, medical reMichael H. Staensearch, and social services. berg, Founder and One of the Foundation’s sigPresident of The Staenberg nificant financial contribuGroup, to its Board of tions is a $30 million gift to Trustees. transform the St. Louis Jewish “Michael Staenberg is not Community Center into only a philanthropist, he 155,000 square foot state-oftakes great pride in being the-art Staenberg Family there for others, not only for Complex. Similar investments his community but for comare transforming the Jewish munities around the world,” community centers in Densaid Rabbi Marvin Hier. ver, and Mr. Staenberg’s Founder and Dean of the hometown of Omaha, and the Wiesenthal Center, an interCenter Of Creative Arts Michael Staenberg national Jewish rights NGO (COCA) in St. Louis. based in Los Angeles. “We are honored to Earlier this year, at the Simon Wiesenthal have him as a Trustee of the Simon Wiesen- Center’s annual National Tribute Dinner in thal Center,” he added. Los Angeles, a $5 million gift from Michael For nearly 40 years, Mr. Staenberg has and Carol Staenberg and the Staenberg achieved unprecedented success in the com- Family Foundation for the Center’s Mumercial real estate sector, developing over seum of Tolerance Jerusalem (MOTJ), was 200 shopping centers comprising more than announced. 35 million square feet through The StaenThe Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of berg Group as well as THF Realty, which the largest international Jewish human grew to be the 3rd largest commercial real rights organizations with over 400,000 estate firm in the United States. member families in the United States. It is As a philanthropist, Mr. Staenberg, guided an NGO at international agencies including by his authentic commitment to the Jewish the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, teachings of Tikkun Olam (“repairing the the OAS, the Council of Europe and the world”), has contributed over $100 million Latin American Parliament (Parlatino). to hundreds of nonprofit organizations For more information, please contact the throughout the United States and Israel. In Center’s Communications Department, 2005, he and his wife Carol established the 310.553.9036.
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Members of Temple Israel’s young adult group, TiYPE attended Shabbat services and later continued their evening together having dinner at Hector’s.
Vandalized St. Louis cemetery rededicated JTA A St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery was rededicated nearly six months after more than 150 headstones were toppled and damaged by vandals. Dozens of members of the St. Louis Jewish community and its supporters gathered Sunday at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, to acknowledge the community support. “While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim and rededicate,” Rabbi Roxane Shapiro of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association said at the ceremony. “Our help had no barriers and no hate, simply care, compassion and hope.” Among those in attendance at the rededication was
Tarek El-Messidi, founder of the Muslim organization Celebrate Mercy. The group, with the support of other Muslim leaders, including pro-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, set up a crowdfunding campaign that raised $162,000 from nearly 5,000 donors, exceeding its $20,000 goal in the first few hours. In the wake of the attack, hundreds of community volunteers came to the cemetery to help with the cleanup and repairs, including Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish and had invited Pence.
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A Portrait of the Omaha Jewish Community
f you have been following me in the Jewish Press or the JFO Enewsletter, you know I am focused on our recent community study: A Portrait of the Omaha Jewish Community. I am very pleased with the findings and do hope you will join me on Aug. 24 as I share key points from the study. Last year, the Omaha Community ALAn POtASH Foundation introduced a data-driven Chief Executive Officer, reflection of the Omaha/Council Bluffs JFO area called The Landscape. The project will look at six areas of community life – health, safety, workforce, neighborhoods, transportation and education. The findings will bring opportunities for improving the quality of life in Omaha. After attending the community release of their data, I knew we were on the right track with our study! Community members frequently ask me how we compare with the rest of Omaha. A great question! Let’s use the data from the Landscape study to make a few comparisons. Of note, our Jewish community is much older than the general Omaha population; there are more people in the Jewish community with a college education; and significantly more people earning $150,000 or more annually. In addition, the 2015 median household income for our community was 23% greater than Omaha and 33% greater than the national average. Join me at the JCC Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. and be part of the discovery!
AGE 0-17 yrs. 18-24 yrs. 25-44 yrs. 45-64 yrs. 65 yrs. +
OVERALL OMAHA 26% 9% 28% 25% 12%
Level of Education 4 yrs. + Some College High School Less than
OVERALL OMAHA 36% 34% 22% 8%
Income OVERALL OMAHA 0-$15K 11% 15K-25K 10% $25k-$50K 24% $50K-$75K 19% $75k-$100K 14% $100k-$150K 15% $150K-$200K 5% $200K + 4%
JEWISH OMAHA 69.2% 23.7% 6.7% 0.2%
JEWISH OMAHA 4.2% 7.2% 17% 22% 8.2% 12.6% 16.3% 12.5%
JEWISH OMAHA 20.3% 5.1% 24.3% 26.3% 24%
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Bipolar disorder: Biology and behavior Bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood disorders of the brain. Affecting nearly 6 million people in the United States and with a 50 times higher risk of suicide, it is imperative that we are educated on this too common disease and what it really means. There are four kinds of bipolar disorder, type I, type II, cyclothymia, and other unspecified. In all types of bipolar disorder Sarit Hovav, M.D. there is a common thread where patients can have a period of time where they feel either euphoric or irritable. The irritability can be extreme such that there are verbal arguments with strangers or with acquaintances over what seems to be trivial matters to most people. With euphoria often comes the feeling of being able to accomplish anything. Sleep is typically disrupted whereby one feels rested even with less sleep. Racing thoughts are very common, as is loud speech that may be difficult to interrupt, and they tend to have a lot of plans and ideas. This ambition can make them extremely productive and successful. What can make bipolar disorder difficult to diagnose is that most people live in the depressive phase and the euphoric or irritable (mania) episodes can be mild or short lived (hypomania). In Bipolar II disorder, a hypomanic episode can be as mild as having a very bright day or two and finally being able to accomplish tasks such as getting laundry done, cooking a lot, painting a house, or shopping excessively despite not having the financial means to do so. However, with every episode of mania or hypomania later comes an episode of feeling depressed. Antidepressants that are meant to treat the depressive phase are only partially helpful in bipolar depression and can even precipitate a manic or hypomanic episode. Sometimes cycling from a manic or hypomanic episode to a depressive episode can be practically instantaneous and feel like “a crash”. It is no wonder that suicide rates are so high in this population. Imagine feeling on top of the world, succeeding in life as a parent, a spouse, or a businessperson and then crashing into a depressive abyss feeling worthless, guilty about past behaviors, and hopeless. This is not to say that suicide rates are only high during an episode of depression. Rather, during an episode of mania/hypomania drive returns and there is enough energy to go through a suicide plan that was developed during the depressive phase. It is torture of the mind, and so it is of no surprise that co-occurring substance/alcohol abuse is common. Bipolar disorder requires a highly-trained physician in brain disor-
The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017 | 7
ders (a psychiatrist) who has the expertise to elucidate this sometimes very difficult diagnosis. Bipolar disorder occurs in all societies at about the same rate, regardless of gender, race, religion, social class, or culture. Men tend to develop bipolar disorder somewhat earlier in life, but the mean age of onset is about 25 years old for all. There is another peak of onset later in life, and symptoms of the manic phase tend to be more irritability rather than euphoria. So, is bipolar disorder really purely a mood disorder? Can someone have enough insight into their disease to stop their current behaviors just by virtue of knowing their diagnosis? Research shows this is a disease with observable differences in the brains of those with bipolar disorder compared to healthy individuals. Gray matter (a type of brain tissue) in the area of the brain responsible for inhibition and emotion is reduced. The May 2017 edition of Molecular Psychiatry published the latest and largest study to date presenting Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) results with clear and consistent alterations in these key brain regions. A fascinating and hopeful part of that study also brought to light that medications used to treat bipolar disorder are associated with less thinning of the gray matter – a protective effect on the brain. While we can discuss the biological factors involved in bipolar disorder and use medical-jargon to explain it (a problem with the network of interconnected limbic, striatal and fronto-cortical neurotransmitter neuronal circuits, and the interacting cholinergic, catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmitter systems), it is enough to say that those with bipolar disorder do not have behavioral problems due to a bad personality or a lack of will-power. Behavioral problems are simply the manifestation of a serious brain disorder. If you think you or someone you love has bipolar disorder, or if you have been struggling with depression and medications have not been effective, please do not delay life-saving treatment that can also improve quality of life. Let’s not judge those who may be struggling and instead help them to get the treatment they deserve. This is the second in a series of articles Dr. Sarit Hovav and the Jewish Press will publish on several brain disorders (“Mental Health”). Dr. Hovav is a board-certified Psychiatrist; in future articles she will examine in detail depression, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and others. The goal is to educate ourselves on the biological nature of these illnesses and try to grasp the internal suffering of those with such disorders. Dr. Hovav can be reached at 402.934.7404.
ROSH HaShanah Greetings This year you can send your greetings through these very special ads that will run in our annual Rosh Hashanah issue. Each ad can be personalized with your name, the names of your children or your grandchildren.
community Yearning and Reality Parshat Ekev Parents have asked me how to instill a passion for Judaism for their children. Rashi explains the name of this parsha, “Eikev”, refers to a mitzvot that people walk upon with their “Eikev” (heel) and don’t consider important. Judaism, at its core, believes that G-d is revealed everywhere. G-d is not only revealed in lofty ideals. We need to remember that Judaism is raBBi ari supposed to reveal godliness in the DeMBitzer details as well as the larger things. We Beth Israel Synagogue believe in revealing the oneness of G-d in how we eat, sleep, and act in our home daily. The passion is created when it is consistent, when Judaism is not centered in a building or in ideals. Passion is when all areas of my life unite for a lofty goal. May we connect all the dots to help add light to this world. Shabbat Shalom!
B’nai B’ritH BreaDBreakerS
alan Potash CEO of the Jewish Federation of Omaha will reveal results of the major demographic study of our own Jewish Community on Wednesday, aug. 13, noon. For more information or to be placed on the email list call 402.334.6443 or bnaibrith@jewishom aha.org.
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community Polish soccer fans attack Israeli team after game
WARSAW, POLAND | JTA A group of soccer fans in Poland attacked an Israeli team following a game. Two people aﬃliated with the Israeli team, Hapoel Petach Tikvah, were injured in the incident Wednesday evening, Aug. 2, in Sochocin, which is about 45 miles northwest of Warsaw, aer the Israelis defeated MKS Ciechanow, 20, in an exhibition game. Following the game, some masked fans broke onto the field trying to beat the members of the Israeli team and its staﬀ. MKS Ciechanów condemned the incident and stressed that the club and its fans had nothing to do with it. “First and foremost, we emphasize that our Club regrets the whole situation and strongly condemns the behavior of the perpetrators of this perilous incident, but at the same time we stress that none of the members of our Club-related community had anything to do with the whole situation,” read a statement issued by the club. MKS Ciechanów said the attackers were fans of the Legia Warsaw team. e Israelis said the action was planned because attackers waited until police providing security had le the area. Police from Plonsk and Radom are investigating the incident. “e information provided to the police shows that in the area adjacent to the hotel where the Israeli team was staying, a group of masked people rushed to two members of the team, beat them and ran away. e victims suﬀered minor abrasions,” read the statement on the police website. e Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport said it is working with authorities in Poland to find those responsible for the attack and see they are punished.
Sheila Nevins’ five favorite Jewish documentaries GAbe FRIedmAN JTA Sheila Nevins may not be a household name, but she is a legend in the documentary film world. Since taking over HBO’s documentary division in 1979, the network’s documentaries have won 26 Academy Awards. In that same period, as a producer, she has won 32 Primetime Sheila Nevins speaking at the Emmy Awards and 34 News 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 10, 2012. and Documentary Emmy Credit: Terry Rice/Getty Images Awards. Along the way, Nevins has worked on plenty of projects with Jewish themes, touching on subjects that range from Daniel Pearl to the Holocaust. Some of these, Nevins told JTA, influenced her beyond the professional realm, helping her connect with her Jewish identity in a way that her mostly secular upbringing did not. “I feel Jewish and I feel proud of it, and I feel separated from it simultaneously,” said Nevins, who grew up in New York. “I wish that I could go back again and go to the Sunday school with all those cute boys my mother wouldn’t let me go to.” Nevins has been an executive producer or producer on more than 1,000 films, and in May she published her first book, You Don’t Look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales. (She’s 78, by the way, but you’d never know it — she looks and sounds much younger, due in part to multiple facelis. “I have enough Botox in me to detonate Iran,” the wry filmmaker told the Hollywood Reporter in April.) Nevins candidly addresses this and more in what she calls her “eclectic memoir.” e book consists of stories — some true (one about a boyfriend whose mom didn’t like her because she was Jewish), some slightly altered (one, based on people she had met, about an elderly couple who sleep in separate rooms) and others who are complete fiction (those are “up to the reader” to figure out, she said). Writing the book, she said, was similar to creating a documentary. “In a documentary, you usually shoot 100 [minutes of film] to one [minute in the final product]. So I wouldn’t say that you make it up, but you determine what to include, which is a form of scripting,” Nevins said. “But it’s still true to the character.” And speaking of characters, thanks to her celebrity-riddled Rolodex, friends such as Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and Lena Dunham lend their voices to the audio version of the book. Still, film is Nevins’ bread and butter. Here are some of the Jewish-themed films she is most proud of working on — at least partly because they brought out the Jewish New Yorker in her.
Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags (2009) Schmatta covers the rise and fall of the garment industry in New York. Nevins has a bit of firsthand knowledge of the industry: Some of her family worked in the business; and the summer after she graduated from high school, she took a job as a model for a clothing shop. “This wasn’t modeling how we think of modeling,” she said. “You put the shawl on, and they’d say, ‘Sheila, come out!’ and someone would be there from Neiman Marcus or some department store. Then they would say, ‘Now turn around, go back and get the Persian lamb one!’” Working on the film also inspired Nevins to research her greataunt, who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. “I suddenly felt that I had been an immigrant once, that I was part of this ethnic Jewish culture in New York,” she said. One Survivor Remembers (1995) This film, in which Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein describes how Nazis tore apart her family during World War II, won an Academy Award for best short documentary. Nevins was especially moved by the fact that Klein could not speak about the horrors of her Holocaust experience in her native Polish — she could only describe it in English, since the language “separated her from the experience,” Nevins said. Larry Kramer: In Love & Anger (2015) Nevins became good friends with Larry Kramer, the Jewish playwright who became one of the 20th century’s fiercest gay rights advocates, while working together on this documentary, which chronicles Kramer’s tumultuous public and private lives. They became close in part because of their Jewishness, she said. “We have a strange kind of historical ethnic connection, as if were family, like he’s my brother,” she said. “I can’t explain it.” One of the chapters in You Don’t Look Your Age is a poem titled The Larry Kramer, dedicated to its eponymous inspiration. Heil Hitler! Confessions of a Hitler Youth (1991) This short film turns the lens on Alfons Heck, a former Nazi who describes his rise to becoming a high-ranking member of the Hitler Youth movement. The Anti-Defamation League called it a “cautionary tale that needs to be seen and discussed by young people everywhere.” Nevins became so friendly with Heck that she invited him to her son’s bar mitzvah several years ago. Grandpa, What’s That Number on Your Arm? (Coming in 2018) At a screening at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage of the HBO Holocaust documentary Night Will Fall in 2015, Nevins found a book in the museum’s library about grandparents talking with their grandchildren about the numbers tattooed on their arms. She thought the idea would make a great film — especially in an era in which children are exposed to tragedies around the world on social media without context or explanation. Nevins has high praise for the current version of the short film, saying it confidently walks the line between being informative and too disturbing for children. “It’s important that [children today] know that they, too, are a part of this history of violence and denial,” she said.
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Temple Israel Rosh Chodesh
rosh Chodesh kick-Off event held at the home of danielle Gordman. those attending had the opportunity chat and learn about our new rosh Chodesh group. an extra bonus was a chance to welcome karen Flayhart, wife of rabbi Brian Stoller to our community. For more information about future rosh Chodesh events, contact rabbi deana Sussman Berezin at temple israel.
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annette van de kamp-wriGht background in technical writing. In addiEditor, Jewish Press tion, she is a substitute teacher at BESTT; e Jewish Press is deGabby and her family are lighted to announce a new members at Beth El Synaaddition to our staﬀ: gogue. Gabriella (Gabby) Cohen She will be writing about Blair will be joining our ofwhat’s happening in our fice as a staﬀ writer as of community. If her name Aug. 15. Gabby is married sounds familiar, Gabby has worked as a freelance writer to Jason Blair; they are the for our paper for several parents of Noah (12) Mo years. Aer Aug. 15, Gabby (10) and Ezra (5). can be reached at Gabby obtained her Masgblair@jewishomaha.org. ter’s Degree in Geography Gabby Blair Please help us in welcoming from KU and has since Gabby to the family! found she enjoys writing. She also has a
Restoring diplomatic ties
JTA Senegal and Guinea are sending ambassadors to Israel for the first time. e two predominantly Muslim countries in West Africa are to present their credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlinthis week, e Times of Israel reported. e two will serve as non-resident ambassadors. Senegal’s Talla Fall, who also represents the country in Egypt, will work from Cairo, while Guinea's Amara Camara will be based in Paris. Amid increasing criticism of Israel’s right-
Omaha Storm Chasers
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wing government from Europe, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made improving ties with African countries a priority. In June, Israel and Senegal announced “an end to the crisis between their two countries.” ree months earlier, the Jewish state permanently downgraded ties with Senegal when it co-sponsored an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations that passed. Last year, Israel and Guinea re-established diplomatic ties aer 49 years. Guinea had broken oﬀ relations following the Six-Day War in 1967.
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ROSH HASHANAH Coming
This New York Giants player shows his Jewish pride on and off the field
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GABe FriedMAN background -- and backup safety and speNEW YORK | JTA cial teams ace Nate Ebner, both of the Super s a rookie in the National FootBowl champion New England Patriots. ball League, New York Giants What makes Bisnowaty even more of an oﬀensive lineman Adam BisNFL aberration is his Israeli heritage. His nowaty is splitting most of his father grew up in the Jewish state and ended time before the season starts in up staying in the U.S. in his late 20s aer September between grueling practices and long team meetings. To lighten the mood, veteran players ask the newbies each preseason to sing in front of the team. Bisnowaty figures that when it's his turn, he'll go with “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.” Bisnowaty, 23, is Jewish — a rarity in professional football — and comfortable talking about it with his teammates. “One of the first things I tell people is that I’m Jewish,” he told JTA. “People don’t meet a lot of Jewish football players, so I always like to bring that out and just open up, so it’s nice and easy.” Bisnowaty — who stands 6-6 and weighs about 300 pounds, and sports long, curly brown hair — has become a minor celebrity in Jewish circles aer a New York Post article from last month revealed that he has a large Hebrew tattoo on his le arm. e tattoo translates to “I am what I am,” a phrase God says to Moses when the latter asks what to call him. e Jewish food company Manischewitz heard about Bisnowaty and sent him an array of snacks, from boxes of matzah to potato pancake mix. e matzah provoked curiosity in his teammates. “I promised them I’d bring in the snacks and let them have a go at them,” Adam Bisnowaty at a minicamp practice at MetLife staBisnowaty said. dium in east rutherford, N.j., May 25, 2017. He hopes the matzah will help him Credit: Evan Pinkus do more than ingratiate himself with his teammates. Bisnowaty was a four-year having a kidney transplant there. Bisstarter at the University of Pittsburgh, his nowaty’s uncle David is the first Israeli to hometown school, and is projected to snag a become an elected parliament member in spot on the Giants roster this season -- but the southeastern African nation of Malawi. nothing is certain. Some say he could be an Although the family celebrated the major immediate starter, others say he might make Jewish holidays growing up, the divorce of the team but not be active, or listed as eligiBisnowaty’s parents along with his timeble to play, for most games. consuming interest in football eventually e beefy lineman is among several 300pushed Judaism mostly out of his life. He pounders tasked with blocking defenders told JTA he wants to rekindle his interest in from hitting veteran quarterback Eli Manthe religion, and he may have a bar mitzvah ning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP and at some point. brother of future Hall of Fame signal-caller Football, especially at the college level, is Peyton Manning. Heading into April’s NFL heavily influenced by religious Christianity, dra, scouts said Bisnowaty compensates including coaches and ministries that cater for a lack of raw athleticism with his size, to athletes. But Bisnowaty said he has never strength and positive attitude. e Giants been the target of anti-Semitic slurs or bultraded up to select him in the sixth round. lying in his football career. As he sees it, Like most professional sports leagues, the players asking him to wear a yarmulke to NFL is not exactly full of Jewish players. team meetings are just breaking the ice and Brothers Mitch and Geoﬀ Schwartz — both having a good time. oﬀensive linemen — were in the league at Still, Bisnowaty was aware of how rare a the same time from 2012 to 2016. Mitch is a Jewish football player is when he got the Kansas City Chief; Geoﬀ, who played for Hebrew tattoo. He said it was an opportuthe Giants in 2014 and 2015, retired in 2017 nity for him to show his Jewish pride. aer seven seasons in the league. Bisnowaty But flashing a tat in the locker room is said some of his teammates like to say “We one thing. It took a bit of courage to show it got another Schwartz in here!” oﬀ in another setting. Other notable active Jewish players in“I wanted to hide it from my mom," he clude star wide receiver Julian Edelman -said with a laugh, "so she didn’t find out in recent years he has embraced his Jewish about it right away.”
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community Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand withdraws support for anti-BDS bill
WASHINGTON | JTA In a rare move and aer facing criticism at town hall meetings, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, withdrew her sponsorship of an anti-BDS bill. A search of the congressional website on Wednesday showed that Gillibrand withdrew her sponsorship. Asked for comment, her spokesman, Glen Caplin, said Gillibrand remains opposed to the move- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speakment to boycott, divest from ing at a news conference at the and sanction Israel, and sup- U.S. Capitol, March 14, 2017. Credit: Justin Sullivan/ ported the bill’s intentions, but Getty Images is concerned that its critics are concluding that the bill would impinge on civil liberties. She wants the bill to remove those ambiguities, Caplin said. “She wants to see the bill rewritten to see those concerns addressed,” he told JTA in an interview. He referred to her comments earlier this week at a town hall meeting in Queens in which she said she was withdrawing support for the measure and seeking a modification of the bill to address civil liberties concerns. “I’m going to urge them to rewrite it to make sure it says specifically this does not apply to individuals,” Gillibrand said at the time, describing her reactions aer a meeting with the American Civil Liberties Union, which had objected to the bill. She did not agree with the ACLU’s reading of the bill, but
believed the group had come by it honestly and was concerned that others would draw the same conclusion. Gillibrand said her principal concern was that the bill could be read as targeting individuals who participate in the BDS movement. “is is only applying to companies,” she said. “is applies to those working to undermine foreign policy. It has to be very specific that someone who is in favor of BDS can speak their mind and somebody who is against BDS can speak their mind, but you are always allowed to speak your mind. So I’m going to try and get the bill revised so there’s no ambiguity, that it’s just an extension of this foreign policy, which I think does make sense.” Activists at multiple town halls had confronted Gillibrand over her support for the bill. Some of the questions were organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, which backs BDS, and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, among other groups. Critics, including the ACLU, say the bill, which expands 1970s era laws targeting the Arab League boycott to include boycotts initiated by international organizations, would inhibit free speech. Another objection from the le is that the bill encompasses boycotts of settlement goods. Defenders of the bill say its ambit is narrow, and that it only addresses active cooperation with boycotts initiated by foreign governments and international organizations, and would not extend to general declarations of intent to boycott Israel or its settlements. Most recently, Amnesty International has come out against the bill. e bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., is cosponsored by nearly half the Senate. A similar bill is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Man who threatened Pride Parade detained by police
JERUSALEM | JTA Israel Police detained a 33-year-old man who made Facebook threats against participants in the August 3 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. The unidentified man made the threats in a post on his page before the start of the parade, Israel Police said. He was questioned and released by an Israeli court that ruled he could not enter Jerusalem until Aug. 4, Israel’s Channel 10 reported. Uniformed and plainclothes police were assigned to secure the route, the Israel Police said in a statement ahead of the march, which started at 4:30 p.m. Participants were only permitted to enter the parade from the designated start of the route and leave from the designated exit. A 16-year-old girl, Shira Banki, was killed in an attack at the July 2015 parade in which five other marchers were stabbed. A haredi Orthodox Israeli man is serving a life sentence for the stabbings.
Letter to the eDitor
Dear Editor, I read with great interest the survey done by Alan Potash on the number of Jews that live in the Omaha area. As the article stated, most people believe that about 5000 Jews live here. What a surprise to find that the number is about 8000! Immediately I cut the article out, laminated it and stuck it in a file for reference. My wife Sandy and I moved from Omaha to Prescott,Arizona three and a half years ago. We belong to a Temple here that has about 120 families; and when we tell people we are from Omaha, of course the first words out of their mouth are I did not know there were any Jews in Omaha. Now I can proudly point out that Omaha has about 8000 Jews, and I can prove it! richard and Sandy Canfield Former proud members of the omaha Jewish Community
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(Founded in 1920) eric dunning President Annette van de Kamp-Wright Editor richard Busse Creative Director Susan Bernard Advertising Executive lori Kooper-Schwarz Assistant Editor Thierry ndjike Accounting Jewish Press Board Eric Dunning, President; Andy Ruback, Past-President; Sandy Friedman, Treasurer; Andrew Boehm; Paul Gerber; Alex Grossman; Jill Idelman; Mike Kaufman; David Kotok; Debbie Kricsfeld; Abby Kutler; Pam Monsky; Paul Rabinovitz and Barry Zoob. The mission of the Jewish Federation of Omaha is to build and sustain a strong and vibrant Omaha Jewish Community and to support Jews in Israel and around the world. Agencies of the Federation are: Community Relations Committee, Jewish Community Center, Center for Jewish LIfe, Jewish Social Services, and the Jewish Press. Guidelines and highlights of the Jewish Press, including front page stories and announcements, can be found online at: wwwjewishomaha.org; click on ‘Jewish Press.’ Editorials express the view of the writer and are not necessarily representative of the views of the Jewish Press Board of Directors, the Jewish Federation of Omaha Board of Directors, or the Omaha Jewish community as a whole. The Jewish Press reserves the right to edit signed letters and articles for space and content. The Jewish Press is not responsible for the Kashrut of any product or establishment. editorial The Jewish Press is an agency of the Jewish Federation of Omaha. Deadline for copy, ads and photos is: Thursday, 9 a.m., eight days prior to publication. E-mail editorial material and photos to: avandekamp@jewish omaha.org; send ads (in TIF or PDF format) to: rbusse@jewishomaha. org.
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American Jewish Press Association Award Winner
nebraska Press As- national newspaper sociation Association Award winner 2008
AnneTTe vAn de KAmP Editor, Jewish Press very week, the question comes up: what should I write about? Sometimes the answer is easy, other times I end up endlessly trolling news sources and don’t type the last word until late Sunday night. Only to throw it all away Monday morning and start from scratch. This time, I didn’t have that problem. On Thursday afternoon, I received a letter from Les Kay on behalf of Jennifer Kay’s family, titled ‘Why Omaha?’ As soon as I read it, I made the decision to share this space. Les had a few things to share I cannot get out of my mind, nor do I want to. His words are powerful and we should all read them. More than once, in fact. We spend quite a bit of time talking about how great this community is. Often, though, that means we talk about positive events, programming, parties we throw, reasons we have to come together and celebrate our community. However, as much as we enjoy this side of our community, sometimes really awful things happen. As a community, we are not immune to tragedy; something Jennifer’s family experienced first-hand. And it is difficult to talk about such things; in fact, we’d all rather avoid it when we can. Yet it is when our hearts break that we need each other the most. Les asks: Why Omaha? The answer is: we are here for each other during the good times, we build relationships and we spend time together, so we can be there when the bad stuff happens. We laugh together so we can cry together. Community happens when we share the bad as well as the good. That means we should not avoid reaching out to each other when it’s hard. The voice in our head that warns us we are getting too personal, we should give people their privacy, we should stay away, is not always a kind voice. Pain doesn’t disappear after a few weeks, months or years. Time does not heal all wounds; it does not make things better, it just creates a
Thank you for being there for us and supporting us at this time in our lives. How fortunate we are to have Rabbi Abraham, Rabbi Dembitzer and Hazzan Krausman in our Jewish community. I wish to thank them on behalf of Helen, Joanna, Ben, David, Matt, myself and Jennifer, of blessed memory. You spoke and sang from your hearts. It was apparent at Jennifer’s service. We also wish to thank the Chesed committee at Beth El Synagogue and “Our Friends at Beth Israel Synagogue”. What you did for us words cannot adequately describe. G-d bless you all. Our out of town family was amazed at the support we were given from the community. You are an amazing community. Also, to the many friends who made donations in memory of our beloved daughter, Jennifer Beth Kay, thank you for keeping her memory alive and we thank you for meals, nosh, cards, phone calls, errands Credit: Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia commons and helping to make Helen and I came to Omaha 32 years ago with our young minyans. All your support has maintained our sanity. family. I have often referred to Omaha as the place nobody As Beth Israel’s slogan says, “If you can’t live in Israel, wants to move to, but nobody wants to move from. It’s the second best is Omaha. I feel it should be reversed. big city with small town values. We all are living in the best Jewish community and now The people make the city and community. There isn’t an- you know it. other place I would like to call “home”. There isn’t another Family of Jennifer Beth Kay, Jewish community like Omaha. les, Helen, Joanna, Ben, david and matt new normal. The support we give each other when the wounds are fresh and raw should still be there when the dust settles. The letter below tells us what community really means.
This Jewish summer camp raised a Palestinian flag — and a ruckus AndreW SilOW-CArrOll NEW YORK | JTA I don’t know if there is a Yiddish or Hebrew version of “more Catholic than the pope.” More machmir than the rebbe? More kosher than glatt? If there is such an expression, this weekend’s convulsion over a Jewish camp in Washington state raising a Palestinain flag deserves it. The angry reactions, and the camp’s apology for having raised the flag next to the Israeli flag, suggests that American Jews are stricter than Israel and the United States when it comes to granting the Palestinians a national identity. Camp Solomon Schechter sent a note of apology to parents over the weekend, explaining that it had flown the Palestinian flag as a sign of “friendship and acceptance” for the Muslim and Christian children, some from Jerusalem, who were visiting the camp as part of Kids 4 Peace, a coexistence group. The reaction was swift and negative, and the camp backtracked, explaining that all the flags would come down after Shabbat “to relieve the sadness and anger that some feel by the site [sic] of the flag.” Critics demanded to know why a Jewish camp would want, as one put it on Facebook, to instill “empathy” for “terrorists who want to stab Jews and destroy the State of Israel.” An Israel-based columnist wrote, “When a Jewish day camp in America flies the Palestinian flag as Palestinians are killing Israelis, you know that PC in the US has gone off the cliff.” Even Israel, however, doesn’t hold Palestinians to such a standard. The Jewish state lifted its ban on flying the Palestinian flag in 1993, after Oslo. The Palestinian flag first flew in the Knesset in 1999, although it would be another 16 years for a repeat, according to The Jerusalem Post. In 2006, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
met at the prime minister’s residence, Palestinian flags flew there for the first time. There were Palestinian flags at the Knesset in 2013 when a Palestinian delegation visited. And as recently as 2016, at a ceremony thanking all those who helped douse raging wildfires in Israel’s north, the Palestinian flag waved at an Israeli air base next to flags from Turkey, Russia and Greece. Granted, Israel blows hot and cold on this issue depending on the state of its relations with the Palestinian Authority, and currently they are at a low point. But the Israelis’ willingness to fly the flag suggests A Palestinian flag flying in Gaza City they view it in 2015. Credit: Mohammed Abed/ not as an anti-Israel or AFP/Getty Images terrorist symbol, but the colors of a political entity with which they must and do cooperate at various levels -- militarily, diplomatically, economically. The White House also flew the Palestinian flag when Abbas met there with President Donald Trump -- again, not an endorsement of Palestinian statehood or the Palestinians’ anti-Israel policies, but a recognition that Palestinian peoplehood is an actual thing, the Palestinian Authority is just that and the flag is a symbol of both. Some of the objections on the camp’s Facebook page said it wasn’t the place of a Jewish camp to acknowledge Palestinian peoplehood or engage in “dialogue” -- as if these principles hadn’t been established in Israel. However, you can revile many of the positions taken by the P.A., and be disgusted by the uses to which many Palestinians and their
supporters put the flag, but it’s an anachronism to say that Zionism means a rejection of the very notion of a Palestinian people and a Palestinian government. Israel recognizes the Palestinian Authority, however strained their relationship. As one commenter noted: “Honoring Palestinian children and their identity and loving Israel and being Zionists are not mutually exclusive.” What seemed to have sparked the anger and the backlash was the sense that flying the flag was indeed “honoring” the Palestinian cause -- a cause that has been co-opted for too long by leaders who encourage violence, followers who carry it out and enablers who reject the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state. But there is another way to look at it: The Muslim kids who were willing to dialogue with the Jewish Israeli and American kids represent the kinds of partners Israel wishes it had. After all, they were coming to a Jewish summer camp, one that flies the Israeli flag and calls itself “unabashedly pro-Israel,” and bringing with them a message about the possibilities for peace. If those kids don’t deserve a little honor for their participation, what does it say about the Jewish community’s willingness to be part of a solution? “The shoe’s on the other foot,” arguments only go so far, but imagine how the Jewish community would have responded had a Christian or Muslim camp invited Jewish or Israeli kids and refused to fly the Israeli flag. Except, you don’t have to imagine it. Last month, Jews were justifiably and almost unanimously outraged when the Chicago Dyke March banned three Jewish women who waved a rainbow flag bearing the Star of David. In both cases, ideological voices insisted that a national symbol shouldn’t be seen because the people and political reality it represented are offensive, undeserving and antagonizing. Who’s being PC now?
The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017 | 13
American Jews really care about pluralism. But it’s not just about pluralism AndRew Silow-CARRoll JTA The Great Jewish Revolt of 2017. The Bar Kotel Rebellion. The Diaspora Strikes Back. Whatever you call it, the recent clash between American Jewish leaders and the Netanyahu government felt louder, angrier and more significant than previous clashes over pluralism in Israel. That may be because it wasn’t only about pluralism. That’s not to say that pluralism isn’t important in its own right. The non-Orthodox Jewish groups who fought hard for a space and a say at the Western Wall -- only to see the agreement frozen -- want their versions of Judaism to be treated with respect in Israel. They knew that granting more control over conversions to the haredi Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, as a controversial conversion bill would have done, would present another signal that Reform and Conservative leaders have no authority, or legitimacy, in Israel. Reform and Conservative Jews will tell you how galling it is that Israel may be the only place in the Western world where the freedom of Jews to marry and worship as they wish is restricted by law. They find it baffling and hurtful that their religious identity -- generations old and shared with a majority in the Diaspora -- has at best only symbolic legal standing in the homeland of the Jewish people. Consider what happened in May when boys and girls from Conservative day schools in New York and New Jersey tried to pray from a Torah scroll at a pair of kibbutzim far away from the fevered Western Wall: Local Orthodox authorities threatened to take away the kibbutz kitchens’ kosher certification if the egalitarian service went on as planned. The service was scrapped. And they find it more than insulting when Orthodox politicians in Israel denigrate liberal Judaism as worse than no religion at all when their own religious leaders have so little to say to, and so little positive influence on, the near majority of Israelis who are secular. All this is enough to understand the anger of U.S. Jewish groups last week. But there is reason to believe there are other factors at play: politics, psychology and strategy. Politics: This is the thanks we get? Mainstream Jewish groups by and large are liberal when it comes to domestic issues: abortion, immigration, a solid social safety net. These groups are seeing everywhere the consequences of their support for Israel. The exclusion of the Star of David flag from the Chicago Dyke March was a funhouse reflection of more mainstream erosion of support for Israel on the left. Israel may not be a pariah for most of the Democratic Party, but you are far more likely to find unquestioning support for Israel on the right. On a list of things Jewish groups share with other progressive groups, Israel stands out like a sore thumb -- usually unfairly, but nevertheless. As a result, leaders of the major groups feel they are doing
the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting Israel -- defending it not just to the Republicans and evangelicals whose support for Israel is unconditional, but fellow liberals who are either confused, indifferent or hostile. That task was hard enough when Israel was seen as a democratic darling of the West; it’s only gotten harder as Israel’s nationalist government has proposed everything from trying to hobble left-wing NGOs to banning supporters of the BDS movement to attempting to enshrine Hebrew as the country’s only official language. To then see Israeli officials ignore them or backtrack on an issue they care deeply about -- pluralism -- feels doubly ungrateful.
Conservative Jews praying at Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem, July 30, 2014. Credit: Robert Swift/Flash90
Psychology: Saying one thing, meaning another Many of the biggest Jewish groups, and a majority of their constituents, are well to the left of the current Israeli government on the Palestinian issue. Poll after poll suggests that American Jews support a two-state solution to the conflict and are growing more wary of what they see as undemocratic tendencies in Israel. The younger they are, the more this wariness -- and disconnection -- grows. But Jewish groups generally will not challenge Israel on what both sides have agreed to call security matters. Despite a diverse membership, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AIPAC see their role as defending the sitting Israeli government. Rabbis also tend to be more dovish than the current government, but often hesitate to say so from the pulpit. Peace issues are considered too “divisive,” too “political.” As a result, a third of American rabbis told a pollster in 2013 that they are “fearful” of expressing their views on Israel, and half said they had refrained from publicly voicing their views on Israel at least once in the previous three years. Rabbis have fewer qualms expressing their views about pluralism, however. Federations that would hesitate to invite a speaker from Peace Now or J Street often staff committees and fund projects devoted to fighting for the rights of Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel. And groups that
are hesitant to wade into the Israeli-Palestinian debate let the rhetoric fly when it comes to pluralism. Freud had a term for swapping unwanted impulses into socially approved expressions: sublimation. For the members of a largely liberal community, pluralism is not only a vital issue in its own right but a steam valve. It allows them to voice their independence from and occasional displeasure with the Israel government without second-guessing security decisions or -- and this may be key -- giving ammunition to Israel’s most hostile critics, who care about the Palestinian issue and not at all about the religious debate. Tired of holding their tongues, Jewish groups have in pluralism a meaningful, focused subject through which they can help shape the Jewish state. Strategy: what about the kids? For the past few years American Jews have been preoccupied with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and attempts to delegitimize Israel in European capitals, in U.N. bodies and on college campuses. The antidote, say many Jewish organizations, is educating and empowering young, often indifferent Jews, and giving them the tools to counter negative perceptions about Israel. At the same time, there is a cottage industry of organizations worried that Diaspora Jews care less and less about Israel. Now some are beginning to make the connection between the pluralism debate and the generational challenge. Benjamin Mann, the head of school of the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan -- one of the day schools denied the use of a Torah -- put it this way: “If Schechter Manhattan students, and students like them throughout North America, are made to feel that their Jewish communities, their very religious identities are devalued and rejected in the Jewish state, they will not sustain positive connections with Israel.” Or as Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, said in his Western Wall statement: “Today’s decision signifies a retreat from that agreement and will make our work to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together increasingly more difficult.” I imagine AIPAC leaders said pretty much the same thing when they flew to Israel recently to warn Netanyahu about the consequences of the anger over the Kotel and conversion decisions. Even a number of U.S. lawmakers made it known that they disapproved of the freezing of the Kotel deal. Mainstream defenders of Israel prefer that the pluralism debate and security issues stay on separate tracks. Advocating for pluralism is a sincere, vital and “safe” way to fight for North American Jewish values in Israel without plowing into the Palestinian question. The steam valve is a good thing for the Jewish community, keeping the Jewish mainstream from tearing itself up over the West Bank. But the June Uprising may be a moment when Jewish impatience with Israel jumped from one track to another.
14 | The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017
synagogues B’nAI IsrAel synAgogue
618 Mynster Street Council Bluffs, IA 51503-0766 712.322.4705 email: CBsynagogue@hotmail.com
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Member of United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism 14506 California Street Omaha, NE 68154-1980 402.492.8550 bethel-omaha.org
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Member of Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America 12604 Pacific Street Omaha, NE. 68154 402.556.6288 BethIsrael@OrthodoxOmaha.org
An Affiliate of Chabad-Lubavitch 1866 South 120 Street Omaha, NE 68144-1646 402.330.1800 OChabad.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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Capehart Chapel 2500 Capehart Road Offutt AFB, NE 68123 402.294.6244
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323 South 132 Street Omaha, NE 68154
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) 13111 Sterling Ridge Drive Omaha, NE 68144-1206 402.556.6536 templeisraelomaha.com
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: Annual Membership Meeting, sunday, Aug. 27, 11 a.m. Shabbat Service, sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. led by Shayna Kurland and Ben Cohen in honor of their wedding weekend. Erev Rosh Hashanah, wednesday, sept. 20, 7:30 p.m. Curtis Hutt, UNO Schwalb Center. Rosh Hashanah, Thursday, sept. 21, 10:30 a.m. Anna Mosenkis, New American. Kol Nidre, friday, sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. Leonard Greenspoon, Creighton University. Yom Kippur, saturday, sept. 30, 10:30 a.m. Karen Gustafson, Jewish Family Service. Our High Holiday services are led by Jeff Taxman. Shabbat Speakers Series resumes on friday, oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m. led by Larry Blass. 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.
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Services conducted by Rabbi Steven Abraham and Hazzan Michael Krausman. frIDAy: Kabbalat Shabbat, 6 p.m.; End-of-Summer ShaBBQ, 7 p.m. sATurDAy: Morning Service, 9:30 a.m.; Mini-Minyannaires, 10:45 a.m.; Kiddush Lunch sponsored by Margo and Steve Riekes in Honor of their Anniversary and Steve’s Birthday; Mincha/Ma’ariv, 8:15 p.m. weeKDAy serVICes: Sundays, 9:30 a.m. & 5:30 p.m.; weekdays, 7 a.m. & 5:30 p.m. sunDAy: Morning Minyan, 9:30 a.m.; Torah Study, 10 a.m.; Jewish Heritage Day, 2 p.m. at Werner Park. TuesDAy: Deli Man Movie Day, 2 p.m. A Chesed Committee Program Open to Everyone. ThursDAy: Shanghai, 1 p.m. Nebraska AIDS Coalition Lunch, friday, Aug. 25, 11:30 a.m. Joan Marcus serves lunch once a month at the Nebraska AIDS Project, and she needs baked goods for dessert. Contact Joan if you can help be donating baked goods. 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.; Friday Learning with Rabbi Shlomo, 11:15 a.m. at the JCC; Mincha/Ma’ariv & Kabbalat Shabbat, 7:30 p.m.; Candle Lighting, 8:11 p.m. sATurDAy: Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Insights in the Weekly Torah Reading, 7:05 p.m.; Mincha/Seudah Shlishit, 7:50 p.m.; Havdalah, 9:13 p.m. sunDAy: Shacharit, 9 a.m. MonDAy: Shacharit, 7 a.m.; Tamudic Tales with Rabbi Shlomo, noon. TuesDAy-weDnesDAy: Shacharit, 7 a.m. ThursDAy: Shacharit, 7 a.m.; Lunch & Learn with Rabbi Shlomo, noon.
Office hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Friday, 9 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. followed by a festive kiddush luncheon. sunDAy: Shacharit, 8:30 a.m. followed by Sunday Secrets: Jewish Fun Facts class at 9:15 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: New Tanya Series -- The Anatomy of Your Soul: Who Are You?, 9:30 a.m. with Rabbi Mendel Katzman. ThursDAy: Advanced Talmud Class, noon with Rabbi Mendel Katzman. All programs are open to the entire community.
CongregATIon B’nAI Jeshurun
frIDAy: Shabbat Evening Service, 7:45 p.m. led by the Kelen-Bloom and Paslawski Families. D’var Torah by Rabbi Appleby. Music by the Star City Kochavim; Candlelighting, 8:11 p.m.; Oneg, 8:45 p.m. hosted by Leslie Delserone and Peter Mullin.
sATurDAy: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m. led by Peter Mullin; Torah Study, 10:30 a.m. on Parashat Ekev led by Rabbi Appleby; Potluck Dinner and Dessert Reception, 5:309:30 p.m. locations TBA; Havdalah (72 Minutes), 9:39 p.m. TuesDAy: Ladies Lunch Group, noon at Carmela’s Bistro, 4141 Pioneer Woods Drive. Please contact Deborah Swearingen (402.475.7528) with any questions; Star City Kochavim Rehearsal, 6:45 p.m. ThursDAy: Temple Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m.; High Holidays Choir Rehearsal, 7:30 p.m. If you want to be involved and aren't on the current choir member list, contact Elaine Monnier (402.327.9212 or email@example.com), Holly Heffelbower (firstname.lastname@example.org), or ‘like’ South Street Temple High Holy Days Choir on Facebook. South Street Temple 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 Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. For more information, email Sarah Beringer at email@example.com. Annual Back-to-school supplies Drive: South Street Temple continues its tradition of providing supplies to students and teachers at Saratoga Elementary School. Eighty-six percent of Saratoga’s students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, double the average for Lincoln Public Schools. The school is specifically in need of the following items: Crayons, especially the twistable kind, Glue sticks, Pencils - mechanical and wooden (No. 2), Boxes of tissues, Hand Sanitizer, Sanitizer wipes, Pocket folders (2 pockets), Erasers and Composition notebooks. Please drop all donations in the totes labeled “Saratoga School Supply Drive” in the social hall by Aug. 11. Thank you! Please join us for the Jewish Federation of Lincoln Shabbat on friday, Aug. 25, 6-9 p.m. at Antelope Park enclosed shelter (between the playground and Auld Pavilion). The schedule of events is set up and park play time, 6-6:30 p.m., FamilyFriendly Shabbat Service, 6:45 p.m. and Potluck Dinner, 7:15 p.m. Please bring a dairy or pareve dish to share. If you participated in a Jewish camp this summer, please bring photos and memories to share. All members of our community are welcome!
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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 Jim Polack. Services will be held in the Chapel. Members of the community are invited to attend.
frIDAy: Shabbat Comes to You at The Heritage Sterling Ridge, 4 p.m.; Shabbat Service and Picnic, 6 p.m. sATurDAy: Torah Study, 9:15 a.m.; Shabbat Morning Services, 10:30 a.m. Bat Mitzvah of hanna Bierner, daughter of Sam Pinson and Samuel Bierner. sunDAy: Teacher Orientation, 10 a.m.; Jewish Heritage Day at Werner Park: Omaha Storm Chasers vs Iowa Cubs, 12:05 p.m. The Jewish Federation of Omaha is sponsoring a day at the ballpark! Join the entire community for this family-
friendly baseball game featuring the Omaha Stormchasers vs. the Iowa Cubs. Details about purchasing discounted tickets will be available closer to the big day. If you want to be part of the team planning this event, please reach out to JFO Director of Community Engagement & Education. Temple Israel Golf Outing, Monday, Aug. 14, noon at Shadow Ridge Country Club. Please contact the Temple Israel office, 402-556-6536, to sign up. Grief Support Group, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m. led by Marla Cohen, MS, NCC, LMHP. For many, support groups are also important in the grief process. With Marla, you will have an to opportunity listen and learn from others who find themselves in similar situations as they strive to find a “new normal” in their lives. If you have any questions about the Grief Support Group, please call the Temple Israel office, 402.556.6536. OTYG Lounge Night, Thursday, Aug. 17, 5-7 p.m. Catch up with OTYG and schmooze at lounge night. Feel free to bring your school work and study materials to Temple Israel. Snacks will be provided. OTYG Board Retreat, saturday, August 19, noon-4 p.m. 2017-18/577-78 Religious School Opening Day PreKindergarten thru Grade 6, sunday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m. Join us as we welcome a new school year and continue our strong Temple Israel Religious School tradition. Parents are invited to join Rabbi Stoller for coffee, cake & conversation at 10 a.m. Temple Tots Sunday Mornings, sunday, Aug. 20, 10:3011:30 a.m. All children and their families are invited to participate! Enjoy stories, songs, crafts (and bagels, of course!) with your child, while connecting with our Temple Israel community. Tri-Faith Picnic, sunday, Aug. 20, 12:30 p.m. Hosted by the American Muslim Institute (AMI). Services conducted by lay leader Nancy Coren. Office hours:
Monday-friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. frIDAy: Eighth Annual Shabbat on the Green/New Member Dinner. We will be grilling up hotdogs and sides beginning at 6:30 p.m. followed by a fun outdoor Shabbat service. We hope to see you all there! sATurDAy: Shabbat Morning Services, 10 a.m. There will be no Kiddush lunch this week. TuesDAy: Ladies Lunch Group, noon at Carmela’s Bistro, 4141 Pioneer Woods Drive. Please contact Deborah Swearingen (402.475.7528) with any questions. LJCS Welcome Back, sunday, Aug. 20. Back to school orientation session: Gan-7, 9:30 a.m. and Parent Meeting, 11:30 a.m. at Tifereth Israel. Join your Tifereth Israel friends for a solar eclipse viewing party on Monday Aug. 21 hosted by Seth Harris at his home at 15049 S. 46th St., Roca, NE 68430. A Kosher dairy potluck lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m. Bring a comfy chair or blanket. RSVP to Nava in the office! Please join us for the Jewish Federation of Lincoln Shabbat on friday, Aug. 25, 6-9 p.m. at Antelope Park enclosed shelter (between the playground and Auld Pavilion). The schedule of events is set up and park play time, 6-6:30 p.m., FamilyFriendly Shabbat Service, 6:45 p.m. and Potluck Dinner, 7:15 p.m. Please bring a dairy or pareve dish to share. If you participated in a Jewish camp this summer, please bring photos and memories to share. All members of our community are welcome!
Israel offers asylum to journalist who could face death penalty in Iran
JERUSALEM (JTA the Union of Journalists in Israel asked Israel’s inIsrael has oﬀered asyterior minister, Aryeh lum to an Iranian journalDeri, to oﬀer her sanctuist who has been working ary in Israel. for an Israeli news website Deri said in a statefrom Turkey. ment he would issue Turkey recently inAmin a special visa. formed journalist Neda Amin, who writes for “is journalist faces e Times of Israel site, real danger to her life that she would be deonly because she wrote ported in the coming columns for an Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, shown at a Knesset news site,” he said. days to Iran, which she fled three years ago. She meeting in June 2017, issued a special visa of- “Under these clear hufering an Iranian journalist sanctuary in Israel. manitarian circumcould face the death Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 stances, I approved her penalty in Iran. e Jerusalem Association of Journalists and entry without hesitation.”
The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017 | 15
lifecycles In memorIAm
Ethel Grossman passed away Aug. 4 at age 105. Services were held on Aug. 6 in Golden Hill Cemetery, 42nd and Brown Street. She was preceded in death by her husband, Moe Louis Grossman; three brothers, one sister, and grandson, Scott Michael. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Bernie and Marjorie Grossman of Lincoln, NE and daughter and son-in-law, Sharon and David Behrend of Napa, CA; five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren. As a daughter of Abraham and Mary Stoller, she was the last surviving sibling. A life long resident of Omaha, Ethel worked 30 years at Natelson’s Clothing Store where she received many accolades. Memorials may be made to the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home.
Israeli couples embrace a rabbinical prenup
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JERUSALEM | JTA Recognizing Tu b’Av, the Jewish Day of Love, the Tzohar rabbinical organization said that public interest is increasing in its halachic prenuptial agreement. Tu b’Av is observed this year on Monday, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av.
Books stolen during the Holocaust are being returned
BERLIN | JTA A new search in Germany for books stolen from Jews during the ird Reich is beginning to bear fruit. Recently, a man in California who was the only survivor of the Holocaust in his family received a book from Germany that had Credit:US National been dedicated to him by a Archives/Reuters teacher. Last fall, it was announced that 500 books from the library of Jewish department store owners Edith and Georg Tietz had been rediscovered in the city library of Bautzen. e Initial Check project — dedicated to finding stolen books and their rightful heirs — is a relatively new part of a German government-sponsored search for stolen art coordinated by the Magdeburg-based Lost Art Foundation. For over a year, three provenance researchers have been searching through libraries, starting in the former East German state of Saxony-Anhalt. In all, there are some 6,000 libraries that eventually will be examined by researchers, Uwe Hartmann, head of provenance research at the Lost Art Foundation, told Deutsche Welle. According to Hartmann, the Nazis began confiscating books from Jews in Germany aer the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938. Some Jews fleeing Germany sold their books and other belongings for far less than they were worth. Other books were looted from homes and collections in Nazi occupied areas during the war. One source of information for provenance researchers is a list of books kept by the Reichstauschstelle, an oﬃce of the interior ministry that was created in the 1920s. e Nazis ultimately used it as a resource, essentially making stolen books available to help restock German libraries that had been damaged in the war. But for the most part, the researchers rely on help from local librarians, who know the contents of their shelves and have picked up clues over the years.
A groom and bride taking wedding pictures at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, April 13, 2011. Credit: Nati Shohat/flash90 e Heskem B’Ahava, or Agreement of Love, was introduced in 2015 to prevent legal and halachic, or Jewish legal obstacles, in the event of the dissolution of a marriage. Nearly 2,000 couples have signed the agreement before their weddings, with many more inquiring about it in recent months, according to Tzohar. e organization hopes to make the agreement standard practice ahead of all Jewish weddings in the hopes of avoiding such issues as agunot, or chained wives. Rabbinical and legal scholars draed the agreement to address cases in which one spouse refuses the Jewish divorce, oen demanding large sums of money or child custody in exchange for the “get.” Every couple who goes under the chuppah deserves to play a part in addressing the growing problem of people trapped by their spouses because of the absence of these types of agreements,” Rabbi Uri Ganzel, director of the Heskem B’Ahava Program, said in a statement. “So by signing on, a couple is able to help make this process more mainstream and combat that trend with the hope that it will one day be completely eradicated from our society.” Founded in 1996, Tzohar’s core program provides halachic weddings for Jewish couples in Israel as a legal alternative to marriage under the haredi Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate. More than 50,000 weddings have been performed under Tzohar’s auspices, with 20 scheduled this year for Tu b’Av. “When the couple is standing under the chuppah and dreaming of their lives ahead together, all they can think of is love,” said Tzohar’s founder, Rabbi David Stav. “But the reality of life is there will be other marriages that don’t thrive in the way yours hopefully will. On their behalf, you deserve to be a part of making this agreement standard practice.”
Anti-Semitic graffiti painted on Colorado Springs synagogue
JTA NewS STAff Anti-Semitic messages and a swastika were spray-painted on the building and sign of a synagogue in Colorado Springs, Colorado. e messages were discovered on Friday morning at the Temple Beit Torah. In addition to the synagogue, nearby cars, homes and buildings also were vandalized, the Colorado Spring Gazette reported. In addition to a swastika, the words “sig heil,” a misspelling of the Nazi salute sieg heil, was painted on the synagogue’s sign, according to the report. “I’m deeply saddened, and yet I’m not surprised,” the temple’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Steven Kaye, told the Gazette. “America has come so far in diversity and including people, but in the last year, we’ve seen a lot of hate talk about people who don’t fit what they think Americans should look like,” he said. ere has been a significant increase in anti-Semitic acts in Colorado in the past two years, the local oﬃce of the Anti-Defamation League told the newspaper. An unnamed spokesman said that there were 18 acts of anti-Semitism in the area in 2015, and 45 last year.
In June, two men were caught on surveillance video putting a sticker with an anti-Israel message on the door the Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Colorado in Colorado Springs. e message read “Fight terror, nuke Israel.” One of the men took a photo of the sign before leaving the scene. A neighbor who lives across the street from the synagogue told local media that he tried to scrub oﬀ the hateful message, but could not remove everything. His wife’s car also was vandalized with the spray-paint.
Chinese tourists arrested for making Heil Hitler salute
JTA NewS STAff Two Chinese tourists were arrested in Germany for making the Heil Hitler salute in front of the Reichstag building, where the German parliament meets, Reuters reported. They were taking photos of each other giving the salute. The men were released after each posted bail of 500 euros, or nearly $600. It is illegal to use symbols of Nazism in Germany. If convicted, the men face a fine or prison sentence of up to three years.
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16 | The Jewish Press | August 11, 2017
How The Red Tent invented a new kind of fiction ErikA DrEifUS JTA wenty years ago this summer, Anita Diamant — a freelance writer and author of several nonfiction books about Jewish practice, including e New Jewish Wedding — was awaiting the publication of her first novel. It was a work of historical fiction, set in biblical times, that focused on the story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and Leah. e book was called e Red Tent, and it has since achieved iconic status. e novel has sold millions of copies around the world and was adapted into a 2014 Lifetime miniseries starring Minnie Driver. But e Red Tent did not become a bestseller when it first hit shelves in 1997. In fact, Diamant never expected such extraordinary success. “It was not a given that the book was going to get published” at all, Diamant told JTA in a recent interview, describing the diﬃculties she encountered in trying to find a literary agent to represent the project. e novel, Diamant recalled, seemed to strike people as “a weird idea.” Dinah receives only brief attention in the Bible, and her story is a violent one. In Diamant’s book, the Dinah narrative expands, revealing a fuller, fictionalized understanding of her life — as well as a powerful portrait of ancient feminine community and experience. Alongside her work on other writing
projects, Diamant spent about three years draing e Red Tent. Eventually it sold to St. Martin’s Press, and Diamant received a modest advance. e novel sold reasonably well for a debut
Anita Diamant with a copy of The Red Tent in 2000. Credit: David Bohrer/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images and subsequently was issued in paperback. Still, the publisher was planning to destroy (or “pulp”) some remaining hardcover copies. At that point, Diamant had an idea: Why not ship the books directly to select groups of readers? e publisher agreed, and several copies went to members of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, a group of women in the Reform rabbinate. Another batch went to members of the Reconstructionist Rabbinic Assembly. In both cases,
Here is a sampling of some of the best that have been published in recent years. Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife Rebecca Kanner Howard Books, 2013 Although the Bible doesn’t name her, Noah’s wife was on the ark, too. Kanner’s debut novel gives her a voice — but still no name — as she tells us, in the first person, about her early years, her marriage and family, and everything that happened on that giant ship. After Abel and Other Stories Michal Lemberger; foreword Jonathan Kirsch Prospect Park Books, 2015 Each of the nine stories in this book presents a tale of a biblical woman. Some you’ve likely heard of, like Miriam, who sets the basket holding her baby brother afloat in Nile, follows its course and approaches the woman who retrieves it: Pharaoh’s daughter. Others focus on characters who are less well known, such as Zeresh, Haman’s not-so-nice spouse, who suffers consequences, just as her husband does when his evil plot goes awry. The Secret Chord Geraldine Brooks Viking, 2015 King David, the focus of this novel, isn’t exactly a minor biblical figure. But his circle was large, and Brooks attends closely to many of the characters — men and women, like the prophet Natan and Nizevet, David’s mother — who were closest to him in this chronicle of key episodes in David’s life.
the books were accompanied by letters of endorsement from the organizations’ presidents, both personal friends of Diamant. From there, word about e Red Tent spread. Ultimately, Diamant credits independent book stores and book clubs for making the novel a best-seller. In June 2001, nearly four years aer publication, e Red Tent won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction, now known as the Indies Choice Book Award. Diamant has since published four novels and continued to write nonfiction. (e New Jewish Wedding was updated, redesigned and revised as e Jewish Wedding Now and re-released earlier this year.) “I’m eternally grateful to readers for whom the book has meant so much,” Diamant said of e Red Tent. “And it means such diﬀerent things to diﬀerent people.” “I’m still kind of amazed at its success. I’m touched by the way people find inspiration in it for all kinds of things.” Some fans, Diamant notes, credit the book for steering them to work as midwives. Others say e Red Tent inspired them to become artisanal bread bakers or to study the Bible — or to write biblical fiction of their own. “It’s a whole category now,” she noted. anks to the success of e Red Tent, lovers of historical fiction can enjoy an evergrowing number of books that reimagine the lives of biblical characters. In many cases, these novels, like Diamant’s, give voices to lesser-known (and oen female) individuals.
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