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fall Symposium features Jews and Gender


LeoNarD GreeNSpooN Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization, Creighton University he Thirty-Second Annual Symposium on Jewish Civilization— Jews and Gender: Tradition and Change— takes place this year on Sunday, Oct 27, and Monday, Oct. 28. Our keynote presenter, Dr. Gail S. Labovitz, Professor of Rabbinic Literature at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic. She is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Theater of the Jewish Community Center of Omaha Staenberg Kooper Fellman Campus. Like all Symposium events, this is free and open to the public. Dr. Labovitz earned her Ph.D. at the Jewish Theological Seminary of

Experiencing Yom Kippur without fasting page 6

2020 Campaign kick-off pages 8 & 9

Dr. Gail S. Labovitz

Omaha Community Beit Midrash kick-off and schedule

As a Jew with autism, the mikvah is my glimmer of hope page 16

inside Spotlight Viewpoint Synagogues Life cycles


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SpoNSoreD by The beNJaMiN aND aNNa e. WieSMaN faMiLy eNDoWMeNT fuND

Gabby bLair Staff Writer, Jewish Press Please save the date for the Omaha Community Beit Midrash Opening Celebration and Panel Discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the JCC featuring Rabbis Abraham, Dembitzer, Katzman and Stoller. Join the JFO and our community’s clergy for in-depth study using traditional texts to uncover insights on contemporary issues and values. This exciting new weekly Beit Midrash (house of study) will give all of Jewish Omaha the opportunity to engage in spirited and challenging study on a variety of timely and thought-provoking topics. Beit Midrash classes will rotate among local synagogues and are

open to adults of all congregations, affiliations and backgrounds. Quarterly panel discussions will take place at the Staenberg Kooper Fellman JCC Campus in Omaha. Drop in for

one session, or become a regular attendee – everyone is welcome! All future Beit Midrash classes will take place Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30 p.m., through May 2020. Community members are welcome and encouraged to drop in to the regular weekly sessions. While not required, RSVPs for the Community Panels at the JCC are requested (Oct. 23, Dec. 4, March 4, May 6). For more information about the Omaha Community Beit Midrash or to register for community panels, please contact Mark Kirchhoff 402.334.6463 or mkirchhoff@jewish See beit Midrash page 2 for schedule

America (JTS) in New York City, from which she also received an M.A. and rabbinic ordination. Her undergraduate degree is from New York University. Commenting on this, Labovitz quipped that she “mostly still considers myself a New Yorker living in exile. Let’s go, Mets!” After receiving her doctorate from JTS, Labovitz initially stayed in the Northeast, where she was coordinator of the Jewish Feminist Research Group at the Seminary and senior research analyst for the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University. Her subsequent research and publications have fruitfully combined her teaching and research interests in rabbinic literature; Judaism in Late Antiquity; feminist gender theory; and Jewish law, legal texts, and legal theory. See Jews and Gender page 2

Mark kirchhoff Community Engagement and Education While we are awaiting the renovations on our own JCC Theater, the 18th Annual Omaha Jewish Film Festival moves into local theaters this year. The alluring smell of freshly-popped popcorn will be wafting in the lobbies. In some cases, recliner seats will enhance the comfort of your viewing experience, and the film projections will be state of the art. The festival opens with the showing of Shoelaces on Monday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m. at the Aksarben Cinema, 2110 S 67th St. Advanced tickets will be available online through the Aksarben ticket office ( beginning oct. 21 at the festival price of $8 per ticket. We anticipate a large turnout, so you are encouraged to obtain tickets early. Shoelaces tells the story of a complicated relationship between an aging father, Ruven, and his special-needs son,

Gadi. Bewildered in how to relate with his son, Ruven abandoned his wife and Gadi while Gadi was still a young boy. With the death of Gadi’s mother, father and son are uncomfortably back together again. As their relationship develops, Ruven learns that his kidneys are failing and Gadi wants to donate one of his own to help save his father’s life. As if life were not challenging enough for him, Gadi learns that he is facing more than one obstacle in making the donation. The story unfolds with warmth and compassion. Audiences embrace Gadi from the moment he appears on screen. The father/son relationship that unfolds gives pause for all to learn something about themselves. This year’s film selection committee members are (alphabetical order), Helen and Tuffy Epstein, Jordana Glazer, David Golbitz, Dora Goldstrom, Margie Gutnik, See Jewish film festival page 3

2 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019

Jews and Gender

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Continued from page 1 These can be seen in her published monograph, Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of Gender in Rabbinic Literature, and in her feminist commentary on the Babylonian Talmud, on which she is currently at work. Among her many journal articles and book chapters are The Hagar(s) of Rabbinic Imagining: At the Intersections of Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in Genesis Rabbah, A Man Spinning on his Thigh: Gender, ‘Positive Time Bound Commandments,’ and Ritual Fringes, ‘Even Your Mother and Your Mother’s Mother’: Rabbinic Literature on Women’s Usage of Cosmetics, and Rabbis and ‘Guerrilla Girls’: Thematizing the Female (Counter) Voice in the Rabbinic Legal System. She is also a popular speaker, having made numerous presentations at the annual meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, among others. In addition, she has participated in two earlier Symposia on Jewish Civilization: in 2014 (It’s Complicated: Halachah and the Status of Relationships Outside Jewish Marriage) and 2005 (Is Rav’s Wife ‘a Dish’? Food and Eating Metaphors in the Rabbinic Sexual Vocabulary). Speaking of food, Labovitz revealed: “I love to bake. A little over a year ago a friend gave us a bread machine, so now I make challah most weeks and post pictures on Facebook.” Discussing some of her other interests outside of her teaching and research, Labovitz describes herself as “a very avid reader,” who also does some creative writing. She has published several short stories. In addition, Labovitz is “an avid crocheter.” She recalls that she used to make kippot when she was a lot younger, “but I don’t like working with string quite that fine anymore.” But she still brings projects to conferences, “so you all may see whatever I decide to make next.” For her keynote presentation this year, Labovitz has decided on this title: Poskot in the Palace of Torah: A Preliminary Study of Orthodox Feminism and Halachic Process. In this talk, she will continue her exploration of a dual commitment to traditional Jewish observance and to feminism and egalitarianism. As she observes, “What I am really seeking are ways to think of, and more importantly do, halachah in a feminist way. So this presentation is meant to bring Orthodox feminism into the conversation. My aim is to see how Orthodox feminist legal thinkers are actually going about, methodologically, the work of (re)considering and (re)interpreting Jewish legal texts and sources.” With this in mind, she will be posing questions such as: what constraints on their interpretive methods do these women feel obliged to abide by? What sources can be or can’t be invoked as authoritative? Do the methods of their halachic inquiries—or the outcome or both—differ from those found in legal analysis by male authorities? And what defines a process and/or outcome as feminist in their understanding? For Labovitz, these considerations go beyond the classroom. As it happens, she is a member of the Conservative Beit Midrash classes take place Wednesday evenings from 7:308:30. n 2019 Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 13 & 20 at Beth El: Giving Jewishly: Dignity, Compassion and Priorities in Tzedakah’ with Rabbis Abraham and Stoller. Dec. 4 | Panel Discussion at JCC: Ba-yamim Ha-hem Baz’man Ha-zeh: The Miracle & Meaning of Hanukkah, Then and Now, with Rabbis Abraham, Dembitzer, Katzman and Stoller. Dec. 11 & 18 at Temple Israel: The December Dilemma: Navigating Family & Social Dynamics at the Holiday Season, with Rabbis Abraham and Stoller.

movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. In this capacity she regularly debates issues of Jewish law with her rabbinic colleagues. Dr. Labovitz’s presentation caps off a full day of Symposium activities on Oct. 27. Sunday morning presentations, from 911:30 a.m., will take place on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Three presenters will offer insights on topics related to the Symposium theme in room 132D at the College of Public Affairs and Community Service on the UNO campus. After a quick trip from the UNO campus to the campus of the Jewish Community Center, everyone is invited to a luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. Five additional papers, divided into two sessions, can be heard from 1 until 5 p.m. The presenters in these sessions come from Israel and a number of North American university campuses. The subject matter of their presentations is equally wide-ranging. An additional seven papers are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 28, when the Symposium is reconvened in the ballroom of the Skutt Student Center on the campus of Creighton University. The first four presentations are scheduled in two sessions from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. From 11:30 a.m. until 12:15 p.m., Symposium participants and members of the public are invited to another Symposium staple, a kosher deli luncheon. This event, as well as all other Symposium activities, is free and open to the public. The final three presentations at Creighton take place from 12:20 until 2:30 p.m. This extended afternoon schedule allows community members to hear even more speakers than in the past. The annual Symposium on Jewish Civilization has been a fixture of the community’s fall schedule for more than three decades. This fall’s Symposium is the 32nd in a series that is among the best-known annual conferences on Jewish Studies anywhere in the world. It is jointly organized and presented by the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization (Creighton University), the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society (Creighton University), the Harris Center for Judaic Studies (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies (University of Nebraska at Omaha). The Symposium also benefits from the support of the Jewish Federation of Omaha, Creighton University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In addition, the Ike and Roz Friedman Foundation, the Riekes Family, the Javitch Family, the Henry Monsky Lodge of B’nai B’rith, the Drs. Bernard H. and Bruce S. Bloom Memorial Endowment and other supporters provide generous funding. For further details about the Symposium, please check out the Klutznick Chair website at or contact Colleen Hastings at 402.280.2303 or colleenhast

Feb. 5, 12, 19 & 26 at Temple Israel: Gender Roles and Identity in Modern Jewish Thought, with Rabbis Abraham, Stoller and Cantor Alexander. March 4 | Panel Discussion at JCC: Who Knows, Maybe You Were Created for a Time Such as This: Heroism, Courage & Faith in a Troubled World, with Rabbis Abraham, Dembitzer, Katzman and Stoller. March 11, 18, 25 & April 1 at Beth El: A Sacred Trust: Jewish Insights on Leadership and Choosing Leaders with Rabbis Abraham, Stoller and/or Berezin. May 6 | Panel Discussion at JCC: The Omer: How to Slow Down and Make Every Day Count, with Rabbis Abraham, Dembitzer, Katzman and Stoller. May 13 & 20 at Temple Israel: Hello… is There Anybody Out There? G-d, Prayer & Spirituality in the 21st Century with Rabbis Abraham and Stoller. May 28 Tikkun Leil Shavuot at Beth El: A traditional Shavuot evening of study, time TBA; with community clergy.

Future topics, dates and locations

n 2020 Jan. 15 at Beth Israel: Study with Rabbi Dembitzer. Jan. 22 & 29 at Temple Israel: My House Shall be a House for All Peoples: Building Meaningful Interfaith Relationships, with Rabbis Abraham and Stoller.

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Sacred texting

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 3

CAntor JoAnnA AlexAnder Temple Israel Synagogue acred texting? “Today is Yom Kippur. Would everyone please turn ON their phone?” What is this mishugas? You might think: “Today is Yom Kippur; they usually tell me to turn off my phone! This is a sanctuary after all.” This year, on Yom Kippur afternoon for about 45 minutes, we are going to try an experiment: Sacred Texting. We are going to have a personal and meaningful – but anonymous – conversation about the ways we have missed the mark and the ways we hope to dedicate ourselves to doing better in the coming year. You will have the opportunity to express your regrets and your dreams, your triumphs and the ways you fell short – and we hope you will feel free to do all that because Cantor Joanna Alexander it will be anonymous. Technology is both a curse and a blessing. It brings people together across time and space – my children were able to give their friend in New Jersey a tour of our new house over FaceTime! –but it also steals our time as our habits and jobs teach us we cannot function without it. During our afternoon worship, we will use our technology to help us engage more fully with the exercise of Yom Kippur. There will, of course, be plenty of Yom Kippur worship during which we will invite you not to have or use your cell phone; but for 45 minutes in the afternoon we will use our technology to create a sacred space. We will contemplate our past and evaluate our pluses and minuses, and we will dream of what this next year, 5780, could be. What might I dedicate my soul to? How might I shuv, turn towards a different path? Most of us live on our phones; and while it is a blessing to have a break from them, I believe it can also be beneficial to see Judaism as interconnected with the world we live in. If we live on our phones, we should have an opportunity (even for a short experiment) to do Judaism on our phones as well. I hope you join us for this experiment Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 3:30 p.m. Our Yom Kippur afternoon service will transition seamlessly from quiet contemplation integrated with the soulful music of the Omaha Chamber Music Society, to “Sacred Texting,” to the reading of Torah and an interpretive telling of the Jonah story, to the Yizkor memorial service, and finally to the sublime spiritual beauty of the closing N’ilah prayers. Afternoon services will conclude no later than 6:15 p.m. Shana tova!



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Jewish Film Festival

Continued from page 1 Heidi Neeldeman, Gloria Kaslow, Ron Lugasy, Ophir Palmon, Amanda Ryan, Marty Shukert and Nancy Wolf. “It seems that every year we comment that the high number of quality films from which to select makes the task challenging,” said Jennie Gates Beckman, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach. “The committee looks at the strength of Jewish themes, the interest level of the topic, the skills of writing and acting, and the production value – including the clarity in which the subtitles are presented.” Amanda Ryan added, “We also read professional reviews. From those we generally find as many ‘thumbs up’ as ‘thumbs down’ for every film, so it becomes our individual assessments that mean the most. I think the strongest guideline is, ‘What do we think will appeal to our audiences?’” The initial list of approximately 65 films was parsed to about 25 for reviews of trailers. The 10-12 that emerge from that group

received critical appraisal through viewing the entire film. The comments and recommendations of the committee members were combined; and from those, the final selections were made. The Holocaust-themed film was chosen by the Institute for Holocaust (IHE) staff and their film review committee. According to Scott Littky, Executive Director of the IHE, “We know that this is an important topic for Jews and non-Jews alike. We keep this in mind as we make our choice. We look very carefully to assure that there is both value and educational purpose in the message expressed in the film. This year’s selection, The Samuel Project, meets these requirements. We are confident that it is an excellent choice.” The additional films and locations for this year’s festival are listed below. All showings are at 7 p.m. Admission is $8 with the exception of the Film Streams movie in which their standard prices apply. nov 12 Tel Aviv on Fire at Film Streams,

ruth Sokolof theater nov. 18 Leona at Village Pointe Cinema nov. 25 The Samuel Project at Marcus Majestic Cinema of omaha We have a special bonus for those patrons who attend all four films. Bring your ticket stubs from the first three showings to the nov. 25 showing and purchase your ticket for only $5. If you purchase online, we will have a stack of $1 bills and will gladly give you three of them. We’ll have a record of online purchases for the nov. 25 film, but bring your proof of purchase just to make sure. We extend our thanks to the generous sponsors of this year’s film festival. They are The Henry Monsky Lodge of B’nai B’rith, and the following Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation funds: Klutznick/Creighton Custodial Fund, Kenneth Ray Tretiak Memorial Fund, Ruth Frisch & Oscar S. Belzer Endowment Fund, Avy L. & Roberta L. Miller Film Fund, Samuel & Bess Rothenberg Memorial Endowment Fund, and Special Donor-Advised Fund.

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4 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019

Fall arts & Crafts show at Mid-america Center in Council bluffs

community Volunteers needed for B’nai B’rith annual sukkah building event

In preparation for Sukkot, members of Henry Monsky Lodge B’nai B’rith and members of BBYO will build and decorate sukkahs at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, the Pennie Z. Davis Childhood Development Center and Friedel Jewish Academy. The annual event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11:30 a.m. Volunteers will meet in the JCC Youth Lounge. Monsky Lodge will supply the building materials and decorations for the sukkahs. In addition, the Lodge will provide lunch for all volunteers following the completion of the sukkahs.

“Everyone is welcome to join us as we prepare for this festival,” said Monsky Lodge President Ari Riekes. “Please join us Oct. 13; it’s a great chance to have fun, do a mitzvah and meet some new people in the process.” A big thank you goes to Gary Nachman for providing the tree branches and to David Jacobs for his part in organizing this event. Since volunteers will be handling tree branches as they build sukkahs, they are encouraged to bring a pair of gloves to wear. For more information about this event and/or to volunteer, please contact David Jacobs at 402.740.9813 or Steve Riekes at 402.492.9800.

rabbi brian stoller Temple Israel Synagogue Have you been thinking you’d like to learn Hebrew or strengthen your Hebrew knowledge? Do you ever find it challenging to follow along with the service, or wish you knew the meaning of the words? Adult Hebrew teacher Carmela Kramer will guide us in learning to read and understand the language of our tradition. Classes begin on Sunday, Oct. 13. Our Level 1 Beginning Adult Hebrew class will be Sundays at 9 a.m. and is for people with no basic Hebrew-reading skills who wish to gain the ability to recog-

nize Hebrew letters and to start learning to read basic Hebrew words and prayers. Adult Hebrew Level 2 will meet at 10 a.m. and is a continuation of the beginners’ class. Now that you recognize and are able to pronounce the Hebrew letters and can chant some prayers, this second-level class will help you improve your Hebrew reading skills and dive deeper into the meanings of the prayers. Classes will meet on the following Sundays: Oct. 13 & 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24, Dec. 8 & 15, Jan. 12 & 26. Registration is $125 for 10 sessions. To register, please contact the Temple Israel office, 402.556.6536.

Adult Hebrew Classes at Temple Israel


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Make plans now to attend the annual Fall Arts and Crafts Show that will be held saturday and sunday, oct. 12-13 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The show is billed as one of Iowa’s largest shows, with over 150 exhibitors presenting and selling thousands of unique, handmade products. Among the various products being sold at the show are oak and pine furniture, paintings and prints, ceramics, kids teepees, wall hangings, blankets, jewelry, pet products, etched and stained glass, yard and garden art, pottery, candles, clothing, quilts, aprons, pillows, doll clothes, rugs, placemats,table runners, purses, floral arrangements and wreaths, wood and metal signs, soap and lotions, and many more original products.

Exhibitors will also be selling coffee cakes, dips, salsa, soups, jams, jellies, cheese and sausage, wines, honey, food mixes and roasted nuts. All items offered for sale to the public are handmade by the exhibitor. Hours of the show are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on sunday. Admission is $5 and children 10 and younger are free. Parking is free throughout the show. All patrons who attend the show on Saturday will receive a two-day re-entry stamp. For a chance to win one of four $50 gift certificates for the show, like us on Facebook under Callahan Promotions, Inc. and for exhibitor information on the show, please call us at 563.652.4529.

When Komen Scholar Mary-Claire King began her research in the 1970s, the link between cancer and genetics hadn’t been made. The running theory then was that cancer was viral. Nearly two decades later, King identified two gene mutations linked to breast cancer – BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer genes 1 and 2). When the genes have mutations, the body can't repair damaged DNA as well, greatly increasing the chances of breast, ovarian and certain other cancers. Most cancer isn't caused by BRCA mutations — mutations account for 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers and 15 percent of ovarian cancers — so gene tests aren't for everyone. But the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in August that more women may benefit from gene testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, especially if they've already survived cancer once. Mutations cluster in families, and the task force told primary care doctors they

should also assess women's risk if they previously were treated for breast cancer and now are considered cancer-free, or their ancestry is prone to BRCA mutations, such as Ashkenazi Jewish women. In the U.S., about 1 in 400 people have a BRCA1/2 mutation, but for Ashkenazi Jewish men and women, about 1 in 40 have a mutation, with a resulting higher susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers. Identifying BRCA mutation carriers can be lifesaving and should be a part of routine medical screenings. Consumer testing kits should be used with care as not all are comprehensive or don’t identify or explain all mutations. Also, don't skip genetic counseling, because BRCA testing can cause anxiety and sometimes gives confusing results, which is what counselors are trained to interpret. Learn more about breast cancer risks, genetic testing and options for care at

What’s in a Gene?



Bea Karp’s remarkable gift

liNda pOllard books and learning, and had saved some Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation money that was sent to her from a woman ea Karp is a woman about whom who wanted to adopt Bea. The money was much has been written, who sent to help her buy necessities during the shared her story with thousands, war. Bea was frugal and saved most of her who wrote a book about her ex- money. She asked her then caregiver if she periences and whose book was could donate her saved money to a library made into a play. She gave so much of herself for books. That selflessness and generosity to Omaha and to the Omaha Jewish commu- were lifelong traits of Bea’s, and through her nity – her time, her energy, bequests, Bea made proher personal story; and visions to keep on giving Bea loved this community. and helping others. “From dancing the Bea worked tirelessly for Hora to talking with other the Institute for HoloJewish people who caust Education. Accordworked and attended the ing to Beth Dotan, former Omaha JCC, my mother IHE Executive Director, loved all things Jewish. Bea saw the world The JCC was truly her through the eyes of youth, home away from home,” and she shared her story daughter Debbie Papperwith thousands of people heimer said. – young and old – over In her thoughtful and the years. caring way, Bea Karp Beth said: “Bea was an bea Karp made after-life plans to important proponent of continue her support of the Jewish commu- the creation of the Institute for Holocaust nity and those Jewish organizations that she Education in 2000. She was always a part loved. In December of 2014, Bea made LIFE of programming, speaking engagements, & LEGACY after-lifetime commitments to community participation and travel.” four organizations. Three new endowment Scott Littky, IHE Executive Director, said: funds at the Jewish Federation of Omaha “The IHE is honored to receive a LIFE & Foundation were created with Bea’s bequest: LEGACY gift from Bea Karp, of Blessed the Beatrice Karp LIFE & LEGACY Endow- Memory. Her dedication and love for the Inment for the Institute for Holocaust Educa- stitute for Holocaust Education ran very tion, the Beatrice Karp LIFE & LEGACY deep. We were very fortunate to have had Endowment for Jewish Family Service and her tell her story to thousands of people over the Beatrice Karp LIFE & LEGACY Endow- many years. Her hope and dreams to create ment for the Anti-Defamation League. She a better world helped to encourage all who also left a LIFE & LEGACY bequest for heard her to live a more meaningful life.” Beth El Synagogue. Bea knew firsthand about hate in this Even as a child in post-war Europe, Bea world, and she knew that the fight against thought of others before herself. She loved see bea Karp’s remarkable gift page 7

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 5

saFety tips FrOm Natalie

Flu season

The influenza (flu) season usually runs from the end of October to the end of March. The peak time is between December and February. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms of Natalie the flu can include fever, OsbOrNe, rN chills, cough, sore Nurse Manager, RBJH throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Receiving the influenza vaccine can help prevent the flu. There are many different flu viruses, and they are constantly changing. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months and older as the first

and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine; however, it can take two weeks for your antibodies to kick in and protect you. You can still contract the flu even if you are vaccinated, but the severity of symptoms and length of illness is greatly reduced. Additional protection includes staying away from people who are ill and performing hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds. Also perform “sneeze and cough etiquette.” Sneeze and cough into your elbow or into a tissue, not into your hands. Always perform hand hygiene after you blow your nose. At the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, we may limit visitors to the Home to help protect our Residents. There are antiviral medications available if you contract the flu, but you must see your physician soon after the symptoms start. Questions? Please feel free to contact me! Natalie Osborne RN, RBJH Nurse Manager and Infection Preventionist. 402.334.6516 or

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Experiencing Yom Kippur without fasting

ast year at around this time I both my parents’ extended families do, I would speak more was in Tel Aviv with my about being Jewish. In Israel, I never had to wrestle with my daughter Rebecca and some Jewish identity; it’s not part of the discussion here. I know of her “baller” friends, and that things are different in the States. A lot of Israelis who the topic of fasting on Yom move there feel a need to connect to Jewishness because it Kippur came up. None of the women is reminds them of home. You feel like you are a stranger in the religious, but some fast on Yom Kippur U.S. Suddenly, it’s important to hear Kiddush on Friday night. and some do not. One friend, Michal When I was in college in the States I too felt this. Growing Epstein (38), said “Why should I fast? up in Israel there was never Kiddush in our home, but on I haven’t done anything wrong.” I knew teddY Friday nights in college I would go to secular Jewish friends that Michal was kind of joking, since I WeinBerGer who said Kiddush before dinner. Sometimes, I would even do not believe that she thinks that go with them to synagogue (something I never had done in everyone who fasts on Yom Kippur does so because they feel Israel), and I enjoyed it—not in a religious sense but in terms that they have done something wrong; however, she piqued of connecting.” my interest and I followed up recently by interviewing her on During the High Holidays when she was in college in the the topic. States, Michal says that Michal is a native Isshe knew that her raeli, born to secular Jewcoaches would honor ish parents who made whatever she decided aliyah from New York in concerning religious ob1976. Michal was on Isservance, even if this rael’s national basketball meant not playing in an teams in high school and important game. She then as an adult. She says: “I thought about it played basketball profesbut in the end I decided sionally both before and that I didn’t need to take after playing in a small off for Yom Kippur and New England college on so I didn’t.” In Israel, an athletic scholarship, Michal’s decision is much retiring from the game easier: “It’s impossible to five years ago. Michal be in Israel and not expeowns a popular restaurience Yom Kippur—the Michal in the kitchen of her restaurant eats rant in Tel Aviv called whole country shuts EATS, and several years ago she became something of a down. I don’t need to fast to experience Yom Kippur. celebrity by making it to the semi-finals of Israel’s Master Chef. Michal says that she is a spiritual person but that “spirituTo begin with, Michal says that there is a big difference be- ality does not have to be religious. I don’t have to believe in tween the Israeli and the American Jewish experience: “In something specific. I believe in life and in karma, and in raisIsrael we do not deal with being Jewish. There is a difference ing a family with good values. I am spiritual but it’s the Israeli between Israeliness and Jewishness. The first time that I was spirit. It’s an energy that accompanies me, an instinct. To be asked if I was Jewish was when I was 20 years old, in college Israeli in the best sense is to have a lot of warmth, a lot of good in America. I didn’t even understand the question. I an- chutzpa, to be outgoing, to be together with the gang, to not swered that I am an Israeli.” be afraid to live your life to the fullest. It has to do with spirit While Michal says that “in Israel you don’t need to do any- and not religion.” thing to feel Jewish,” it turns out that her Jewish identity is almost entirely subsumed by her Israeli identity: “When I was in college people would say: “‘Ah, so you’re a Jew.’ But first of all I am Israeli.” Speaking with Michal brought out clearly what it means for Judaism to be a “default” religion; just as there are millions of secular Americans who are technically B’nai B’rith BreadBreakers Christian but for whom being American is their meaningful There will not be a session on Wednesday, Oct. 9, noon. For identity, so being Israeli (rather than Jewish) is Michal’s more information or to be placed on the email list call meaningful identity. 402.334.6443 or Michal acknowledges that “if I were to live in America, as


Sukkot and the end of days

mARk kiRCHoFF that this will be the focus of the first session. “We Community Engagement and Education will discuss why the ‘end of days’ receives only For the Friday Learning Series classes on oct. 11 limited attention in the Jewish sources, and what and 18 in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library from that might mean in Judaism.” Rabbi Shlomo will 11:15 a.m. to noon, Rabbi Shlomo Abramovich will also discuss the content of what does appear in present a topic of perpetual interest the Jewish sources. During the second session, Rabbi and speculation, but one for which Shlomo will discuss the connection there will be no definite resolution between the holiday of Sukkot and until the end of days. And that will the end of days. He will explain be the topic – “The End of Days.” why Sukkot is relevant to this topic, For most people this is a serious and how the commandment to be matter: what will the end of days happy and the other unique Mitzvot look like? The topic is generally apof Sukkot are connected. “The main proached with great curiosity and a question discussed in these classes variety of feelings. By way of conwill be ‘what is the relevance of the firmation of the interest, survey the ideas about the end of days to our large number of books, movies, and discussions that have attempted to Rabbi Shlomo Abramovich lives?’” said Rabbi Shlomo. The Friday Learning Series is presented as a codescribe what those days far into the future – or operative effort with the Community Engagement perhaps tomorrow – will look like. and Education arm of the Omaha Jewish Federa“There are a number of Jewish sources that address this topic, but surprisingly each source does tion and Beth Israel Synagogue. It is open to the public free of charge. so in a limited way,” said Rabbi Shlomo. He said

Central High School Hall of Fame

The CHS Alumni Association held the inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sept. 30, 1999. Since that time, a ceremony has been held annually and a total of 188 people have been inducted. The 21st Annual CHS Hall of Fame will be held on Thursday, Oct. 3 at Central High School. The CHS Alumni Association was proud to induct ten individuals whose paths from the halls of Central High School led them to the highest levels of achievement in business and community service. Inductees are selected by the Central High School Alumni Association and the program is presented by the Central High School Foundation. Richard Speier | Class of 1958 Speier established himself as an international expert in See Central High School Hall of Fame page 10

Richard Speier

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 7

community Bea Karp’s remarkable gift Continued from page 5 anti-Semitism was as necessary today as it has ever been. “Bea Karp was the embodiment of everything the ADL-CRC stands for. Her compassion and empathy for others was legendary. Bea’s courage in speaking out against all hate and bigotry is an inspiration,” said Pam Monsky, ADL Administrative Coordinator. “We are grateful for her incredibly generous LIFE & LEGACY gift and we will make sure that Bea’s memory will live on through our work.” “My mother had a love for the Jewish people and Jewish community of Omaha. She was very generous and wanted to endow Jewish Family Service, whose mission was very important to her,” said Debbie. Karen Gustafson, Executive Director of Jewish Family Service, voiced a thought that perhaps echoes everyone’s sentiments, “It is an honor to accept Bea’s gift to JFS and to participate in fulfilling her wishes.” Debbie shared a story from the time when her mother was a hidden child in France. It illustrates the indomitable spirit and profound insight and strength of an extraordinary young girl living a nightmare, and how that young girl became the remarkable woman – one that the Omaha community is so very fortunate to have known and loved. “One day,” Debbie said, “after months of sadness due to missing her mother and father who were in concentration camps, she had an epiphany while walking down a long stretch of stairs. She remembered her hand running

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smoothly over the wooden hand railing and thought to herself that despite her situation she alone could regain her happiness and that the gift of happiness comes from inside of you.” Bea’s epiphany on the chateau staircase was a defining moment for the young girl and one that seemed to have guided her life. Debbie said: “‘Poor me’ was not in her vocabulary. Mom was a survivor with great strength to carry on despite all of life’s challenges.” The strength that was forged in the young Bea Karp was revealed in the woman who believed in standing up for her beliefs, who believed in freedom and democracy – in speaking out against hate, in holding to your principles. With Bea’s generous gifts, the organizations that she endowed will be able to meet their challenges much more easily, and continue the work that meant so much to Bea. It is remarkable that a woman who saw a society at its most vile and evil, always looked for the good in people. It is remarkable that a woman who had her youth stolen from her, continued to see the world with the hopeful eyes of youth. It is remarkable that such a woman would spend much of her life sharing her story of loss and hope. It is not remarkable that a woman who lost her freedom believed that one should never take freedom for granted. Bea Karp was a remarkable woman, and her legacy of kindness, love and generosity will live on forever through the endowments Bea established.

8 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019



ept. 16 at Temple Israel, the Jewish Federation of Omaha hosted an amazing Kick-off to the 2020 Campaign, chaired by Danny Cohn and Andrew Miller, Shane and Jess Cohn. Approximately 385 guests heard Joshua Malina share his story “How to make it in Hollywood and remain a Mensch.� The Challenge Grant was a success: over $1.1 million in pledges were received as we work towards our goal of $3.5 million.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha thanks event photographer Debra Kaplan.

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 9

10 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019

Not going to synagogue or fasting? You can still observe Yom Kippur



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Arielle KAplAn world and there’s something very renewing Alma via JTA about the energy; and I like to tap into that. Much to my mother’s dismay, I’m not fast- For the new year, my intentions are more ing on Yom Kippur and I’m not going to syn- powered by self-motivation and looking to agogue. Why? Because I don’t believe in God. get out of the ‘winter blues.'” But despite my lack of faith in a higher being, “I’ve made my own little tradition of using I take the High Holidays very seriously. the day of Yom Kippur to take a walk to my For those who need a refresher, here’s a favorite park with a journal and write down crash course. some intentions for the new year. I’ve also On Rosh Hashanah, as the story goes, Jews been sending out a mass email to all my are inscribed in one of three books: the Book friends sort of announcing my intentions and of Life for heavenly saints, the Book of Death updating them on the past year (it’s a lot funfor toxic people; and a temporary “in between” book for the rest of us who have nine days to repent for our sins before our fate is sealed on Yom Kippur. As much as I want to believe that these books are real, I don’t (for the record, I’d totally be in the in-between one). But that doesn’t stop me from taking advantage of the holiday and making amends with those I wronged. Apologizing to someone, whether it’s a guy I ghosted or a friend I hurt, is One suggestion for marking the Day of Atonement is writing down uncomfortable and easy to your intentions for the new year. Credit: Vikas Kumar/EyeEm/Getty Images avoid. That’s why I love Yom Kippur; it nudges me to reflect on my behav- nier than it sounds) and I’ve found it’s really ior and confront issues I’ve pushed away. helpful in holding myself accountable.” Skipping Kol Nidre and eating on Yom “Since I don’t belong to a temple anymore, Kippur doesn’t make you a bad Jew, and there I use Yom Kippur as a day to reflect and think are plenty of other ways to make the holiday about how I’m going to act differently over more meaningful to you. I asked a handful of the coming year. On the regular New Year, people how they plan on observing the Day my resolutions tend to be focused on diet, exof Atonement without fasting or praying, and ercise and my career, but for the Jewish one here’s what they said. they’re more serious. I think about being “Growing up, I felt really out of place at more mindful, taking care of my mental synagogue. I wanted to do the kids’ services, health and treating people with respect.” or I’d try to hide in the bathroom. Yom Kip“I don’t feel a spiritual connection at synapur was always a tough one to sit through, so gogue unless I’m with my family in my homeI found other ways to celebrate. I find that re- town. On Rosh Hashanah I went to a beautiful flecting and reaching out to people is very re- synagogue with my aunt, but it just wasn’t warding. I think that’s the main point of the meaningful. In the past, I haven’t fasted on holidays. I also make new goals for the start Yom Kippur because it always fell on a big tailof the year and figure out how I can be a bet- gate weekend in college, so I’m not accuster person to others.” tomed to doing it. Instead of partying this year, “Since finding my current spiritual com- I’m still not going to fast, but I’m taking a day munity, I attend services. However, before off from work to reflect on the past year and that I would try to volunteer, or write letters repent for my sins by reaching out to people.” to everyone I’d fallen out of touch with, or “One time I apologized to a friend on Yom write a list of ways I was going to forgive my- Kippur for bullying her in middle school, but self and a vision board for what I hoped the I haven’t reached out to anyone since then. I next year would look like.” make resolutions for the year, and while my “I definitely like to write down my inten- January resolutions are about living a better tions on Yom Kippur. They’re more spiritual life, I like to focus my Rosh Hashanah and than my ‘resolutions’ for the regular new year. Yom Kippur intentions on being a better perThose are more goal-oriented. It really has to son. Like gossiping less and being more condo with the time of year for me rather than siderate than judgmental.” the holiday itself, since this time is arguably Arielle Kaplan is an editorial assistant at the beginning of the rebirth of the natural Alma.

Central High School Hall of Fame

Continued from page 10 nuclear nonproliferation, playing a major role in preserving the peace during the nuclear age. He combined an undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard with a doctorate in political science from MIT, leading to his unique career. He first helped reshape the nation’s nuclear and space programs in the White House Office of Management and Budget. He then analyzed nuclear technologies for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and spent a year at the National Defense University, co-authoring a prize-winning study, “The Bomb in Southwest Asia.” In 1982, he joined the Secretary of Defense under President

Ronald Reagan to start the Office of Nonproliferation Policy. He spent over four years working with six other governments to design, negotiate and implement an international policy to hinder the spread of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The Secretary of Defense awarded him a Meritorious Civilian Service Medal in 1988, calling the policy of “major and lasting significance” and lauding Speier’s “immense industry, expertise, imagination, and above all unswerving tenacity of purpose.” Today 35 governments adhere to this policy. Speier continues to consult on national security for the RAND Corporation.

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 11

Above: Participants in the upcoming MoMENtum trip: Dusty Friedman, Danny Cohn, Chuck Lucoff, , Alex Epstein, Andy Isaacson and trip leader Ari Kohen.

Above: Temple Israel’s religious school made baklava during Israeli cooking class.

Left: Marti Neronstone led the Slichot service out in the RBJH courtyard. Above: The wonderful lay leaders who faithfully come every week Jim Polack and Renee Kazor are pictured with their newest helper: Renee’s granddaughter Sophia Kazor.

SP O TLIGHT PHOTOS FROM RECENT JEWISH COMMUNITY EVENTS Above: Teresa Drelicharz and Karen Gustafson (Jewish Family Service) and Janet Henthorn and Linda Pollard (The Foundation) take a break to enjoy the RBJH courtyard during a recent garden BBq.

SUBMIT A PHOTO: Have a photo of a recent Jewish Community event you would like to submit? Email the image and a suggested caption to:

Below: JFO employees Jen Goodman, Kael Welch and Ayana Boykins participated in ‘Art Therapy,’ an initiative of the Wellness Committee.

Above: Bill Chrastil entertained the community at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home with a live Rock Show.

Above: Mary Sue Grossman and Linda Potash participate in an art workshop taught by Naava Naslavsky at Beth Israel. Right: During last year’s Beth Israel teen trip to NY, the group stopped at a Jewish museum and the guide demonstrated how they used to kill people in the days of the Romans... on Yaakov Jeidel! Below: Daily Minyan at Beth Israel.


12 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019

viewpoint thejewishpress

(Founded in 1920) Abby Kutler President Annette van de Kamp-Wright Editor Richard Busse Creative Director Susan Bernard Advertising Executive Lori Kooper-Schwarz Assistant Editor Gabby Blair Staff Writer

Jewish Press Board Abigail Kutler, President; Eric Dunning, Ex-Officio; Danni Christensen, Candice Friedman, Bracha Goldsweig, Jill Idelman, Andy Isaacson, Natasha Kraft, Andrew Miller, Eric Shapiro, Shoshy Susman and Amy Tipp. 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:; 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@jew; send ads (in TIF or PDF format) to: rbusse@jewishom Letters to the Editor Guidelines The Jewish Press welcomes Letters to the Editor. They may be sent via regular mail to: The Jewish Press, 333 So. 132 St., Omaha, NE 68154; via fax: 1.402.334.5422 or via e-mail to the Editor at: avandekamp@jew Letters should be no longer than 250 words and must be single-spaced typed, not hand-written. Published letters should be confined to opinions and comments on articles or events. News items should not be submitted and printed as a “Letter to the Editor.” The Editor may edit letters for content and space restrictions. Letters may be published without giving an opposing view. Information shall be verified before printing. All letters must be signed by the writer. The Jewish Press will not publish letters that appear to be part of an organized campaign, nor letters copied from the Internet. No letters should be published from candidates running for office, but others may write on their behalf. Letters of thanks should be confined to commending an institution for a program, project or event, rather than personally thanking paid staff, unless the writer chooses to turn the “Letter to the Editor” into a paid personal ad or a news article about the event, project or program which the professional staff supervised. For information, contact Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Jewish Press Editor, 402.334.6450. Postal The Jewish Press (USPS 275620) is published weekly (except for the first week of January and July) on Friday for $40 per calendar year U.S.; $80 foreign, by the Jewish Federation of Omaha. Phone: 402.334.6448; FAX: 402.334.5422. Periodical postage paid at Omaha, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Jewish Press, 333 So. 132 St., Omaha, NE 68154-2198 or email to:

American Jewish Press Association Award Winner

Nebraska Press As- National Newspaper sociation Association Award winner 2008

Word of mouth


ANNETTE vAN DE KAmP-WRIGHT Editor, Jewish Press erhaps it’s possible you’ve never heard of a man named Patrick Little. Allow me to introduce you; you can decide afterwards whether I did you a favor. In 2018, Patrick Little (that really is his last name) tried to run for U.S. Senate in California and even contemplated a 2020 Presidential bid. Not many people want him anywhere near the government; Little has no party behind him, which can be a bit of a problem when you run for office. Since the Senate race didn’t pan out and neither did his run for Presidency, he has now set his sights on a City Council Seat in Garden City, Idaho, which is a suburb of Boise. “The only way to challenge Jewish power in this country now is with local elections because it would have to be word of mouth,” he said according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Come again? Little believes the following: A) the top priority of the Jewish people is to displace white people specifically, B) Jews control the media, C) Jews own the entertainment industry and D) Jews control politics. “He had a brief run for the presidency as a ‘Nationally Social Democratic American Patriot Republican,’ according to his campaign’s webpage,” Marcy Oster wrote Sept. 18 of this year. “His platform included a plan to require the death penalty for any politician introducing a bill to provide aid to Israel and to introduce ‘a bill in the Senate making it illegal to raise funds for any foundation related to the perpetuating of propaganda related to a ‘holocaust,’ formally making the U.S.’s stance on ‘the holocaust’ that it is a Jewish war atrocity propaganda hoax

that never happened.’” That’s great writing, kid. Other claims to fame: he was kicked out of the Republican Party’s Convention in May of 2018. He’s been seen kicking and stomping on an Israeli flag and posted a YouTube video in which he called the Republican party of

Although we have a licensed image of Patrick Little, we chose not to include his face. Instead, here’s a nice picture of an Opossum. They eat ticks and help fight Lyme Disease. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Credit: Cody Pope.

California “Zionist Stooges.” He wants an America ‘free of Jews’ and has called Adolf Hitler the “second coming of Christ.” (Why do neo-Nazis always simultaneously idolize Hitler and deny the Holocaust? I don’t get that.) Also on his wish list: mass torture of Jews, making raising money for Holocaust education illegal and banning Jews from government positions. Oh, and he travels around with

a campaign balloon that reads: “Jews rape kids.” None of this is new, or all that shocking—Little is not the first crazy neo-Nazi to run for office and he won’t be the last. What is concerning: before he was kicked out of the 2018 Republican convention (and probably the real reason he was banned) he polled at 18%. That made him, at the time, the Republican front-runner to take on Senator Dianne Feinstein. Once people caught on, that percentage shrunk and he ultimately lost the Republican primary with 1% of the vote. For that, he of course blamed ‘Jewish voter fraud,’ whatever that is. It is not hard to find out when a candidate is a neoNazi. How did 18% of the voters polled pick Little’s name out of a hat? Why do we even put any faith in polls, if it is so obvious that the 18% support came from people who didn’t actually know Little’s platform? Because I have to be honest: the alternative to believing that those voters were clueless is to think they willingly, knowingly, threw their support behind the candidate. Do they, or don’t they? It’s always the question, isn’t it—whenever we see or hear from types like Little. They are easy to make fun of, guys like him. But underneath, there is the chilling knowledge that others out there are listening and agreeing. Like everyone else, I will be watching the big races between now and November of 2020. But I will also keep an eye on those open City Council seats in Idaho. Because all joking aside, you never know. 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.

Alex Borstein’s ‘Step out of line’ speech at the Emmys was a display of Jewish pride

JORDANA HORN SHORT HILLS, N.J. | JTA Whether you watched the Emmys on Sunday night or or not, chances are you’ve been privy since the broadcast to what was likely the Jewiest moment of the show: Alex Borstein’s acceptance speech for her award as best supporting actress in a comedy. Borstein, who won for the second straight year for playing Susie the manager in Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, started with a series of gags. Turning serious, she told the crowd that she came from a family of immigrants and Holocaust survivors, then elaborated on the circumstances of her grandmother’s survival. “My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit,” Borstein said emotionally at the podium. “She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’ [The guard] said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you but somebody will,’ and she stepped out of line. For that, I am here and my children are here.” “So step out of line, ladies,” she concluded to applause. “Step out of line!” The initial response to the speech was remarkably positive, both in real life and on the internet, and “Step out of line” posts flooded social media. Entertainment Weekly called Borstein’s speech “hilarious-turned-powerful,” and Esquire’s Justin Kirkland opined that the acceptance speech was “an especially powerful message considering her show features so many powerful Jewish women characters,” and that Borstein’s “incredible anecdote of resilience and strength was among the night’s most incredible moments.” But as with everything in our now pejoratively labeled “cancel culture,” many keyboard warriors took to their iPhones and asserted that maybe Borstein’s speech wasn’t so great after all. Many deemed it wrong for Borstein to, as they saw it, equate feminism with surviving the Holocaust. “Did Alex Borstein just compare women in general to Holocaust survivors with her, “ladies step out of line” comment? And if she did suggest some kind of equivalency, then who do you think by implication get nominated for the role of Nazi guards? And you just let it go?” one person tweeted at Ron Kampeas, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s

Washington bureau chief. But the main point of contention for many was that they heard Borstein’s praise for her grandmother’s behavior in stepping out of line as implicitly conferring blame on those who didn’t “step out of line” and were, instead, murdered. One Twitter user wrote that “it’s deeply ahistorical and victim-blaming to suggest a spark of individual

Alex Borstein accepts the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series award for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel onstage during the 71st Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images courage would save someone from the Nazis.” “Some [people] I know (including my wife, daughter of a survivor) found it at best eye-roll worthy, if not offensive. Her grandmother was lucky. Most others who did or would have tried the same would have been killed on the spot. Her story reinforces a narrative of ‘if only they had just resisted a little more...’” Josh Feigelson wrote on renowned Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt’s Facebook page in a discussion of the speech. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, “A lot of the people who stepped out of line in the Holocaust were murdered. Sometimes the ones who didn’t were the ones who made it out. They were all brave. Just — it’s important to put a powerful story in context of the larger system of brutality in effect.” Rabbi Jill Jacobs agreed: “Yeah, I found that line problematic. Virtually no victims had anything they could have done to save themselves. And those who survived generally took chances without knowing that it would work out.”

Surely the idea that if everyone had only “stepped out of line,” the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened, is odious — but it’s also not at all what Borstein intended to convey. To this Borstein fan, it’s clear that she meant to pay tribute to her grandmother for surviving, and to express gratitude that she herself and her children even existed at all, thanks to that woman’s defiance. In her moment of success, she took time to look back at the woman who brought her there. The problematic element of the anecdote, of course, lies in all the people who aren’t in it: the thousands of dead and nearly dead souls, writhing naked under piles of corpses in the pits dug by the execution squads. Did Borstein’s applause for her grandmother’s act convey disapproval, or even condemnation, of those who didn’t step out of line? Her detractors would say yes. I think that’s ridiculous. Just as the purpose of telling the story lies within its particular significance for Borstein herself, I’d argue that it is equally important to look at the story Borstein tells with her everyday life. In making that argument, I turn to social media not as my jury — the role it usually plays in our society — but rather as my evidence. I’ve admired Borstein’s comedic and acting chops for years only from afar (I’m funny, but her agent has yet to return my phone calls). But thanks to Instagram and Twitter, I’ve been able to admire her even more — not as a celebrity, but rather as a proud and outspoken Jewish parent. In 2019, being a proud and an outspoken Jew is nothing to be taken for granted. We live in a time when white nationalists are emerging from under their rocks and spewing hatred — and sometimes bullets — all too freely. So many people, celebrities and not, either don’t acknowledge their heritage or hide it under a bushel. Borstein, in contrast, steps out of that line, if you will, to live her Jewishness out loud. She posts her Shabbat candles — complete with Shabbat tray in English and Hebrew — and challah on a Friday afternoon with the caption “Shabbat shalom.” She posts a pic of her dad’s coffee mug, which See Display of Jewish Pride page 13

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 13

What we can still learn from the Lubavitcher Rebbe about climate change PhILIP WexLeR PENN YAN, N.Y. | JTA With refineries ablaze in Saudi Arabia, you might be forgiven if you forget that in the Amazon and Indonesia, forests are ablaze as well. Yet these two conflagrations are not unconnected. As ever, ecological crises and geopolitical crises are deeply intertwined – and the universal interest of the global community is threatened by the narrow interests of particular individuals, groups and nations. The central debate that has raged among free-marketeers, scientists and policymakers since the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 is whether humanity should unheedingly reap the bounty of the earth or more carefully consider the impact of our actions. Views on ecological questions obviously differ across religious denominations. But according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, religiosity generally correlates with holding the opinion that environmental regulation is not worth the economic cost. But are ecological and religious ideologies necessarily at odds? The example of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, tells us that it doesn’t have to be this way. On April 15, 1981, just a few months after the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, Rabbi Schneerson addressed the issue directly in a talk that was broadcast live on satellite television. The media cycle was awash with reports of concerns over the incoming administration’s preferences for offshore drilling and nuclear energy while cutting funding for solar energy development. The oil shocks of the 1970s, along with the Soviet Union’s emergence as the largest exporter of petroleum, had turned the competing priorities of energy security and environmental security into a crisis that seemed to pit domestic and foreign policy concerns against one another. At the same time, early warnings about global warming were also beginning to make headlines. It was in this context that Schneerson pointed to a Jewish practice that is both ancient and obscure, citing it as a clue, or reminder, that a solution was at hand. The Talmud states: One who sees the sun in its cycle... recites ‘Blessed [are You]... Maker of creation. And when is it? Abaye said: Every 28 years when the cycle is complete... (Berakhot 59B) This fairly rare event on the Jewish calendar occurred twice during Schneerson’s tenure as leader; in 1953 and in 1981, just a few days before he delivered the televised talk under discussion. Energy security and environmental security, he argued, did not stand in competition to one another. Both could be prioritized through national investment in solar energy solutions. In his own words: “The ‘blessing of the sun’ reminds us again, and with additional emphasis, that we have an open and clear path... to utilize the sun... This is a resource that this nation in particular, in its southern regions, has in very great abundance... This

can all be achieved if it is based on the foundation of God’s ners with God in the work of genesis,” partners in creation. help, and on faith in God... Then we will not reckon with the (Shabbat 119b) challenges from people who might stand to profit personally For Schneerson, the transformative ecological key lay in the by opposing this, and in a relatively short time the nation will Jewish practice of uttering blessings (“brachot”), not only bebe freed from being servile to small fiefdoms who have oil in fore performing a ritual act, but also before and after eating. their territories.” Through uttering a blessing, eating is transformed into a mysIn the course of his discussion Schneerson also touched on the development of other domestic energy resources, his opposition to American isolationism, the religious significance of scientific progress, and on America’s responsibility to advocate for human rights and freedom of religion. All these issues are of as much relevance today as they were back in 1981. As a sociologist, Schneerson’s intervention interests me not simply because one would not expect a Hasidic rebbe to give a televised speech, in Yiddish no less, about geopolitics and energy policy. But more so because it exemplifies both the broad scope of his worldview and the social, moral, spiritual and religious conception that undergirds it. Herein lies the key to understand- Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson lectured frequently on the intersection of ing Schneerson’s lasting appeal both during his climate, politics and the divine. Credit: Getty Images/JTA Montage lifetime and in the decades since his death. tical act of divine nourishment. In Schneerson’s words: “In Max Weber in his pioneering work The Sociology of Religion initiating praise of God it is as if one becomes a giver and a offers an especially nuanced and pertinent appraisal of the provider in relation to God... [the food] thereby becomes the type of religious figure who tends to be labeled a prophet. To food of Supernal Man as well.” speak of prophecy, from a sociological viewpoint, is not to With the above in mind, it should not surprise us that express belief in supernatural powers of telepathy (nor nec- Schneerson linked his promotion of solar energy to a blessing essarily to rule them out), but rather to describe a distinctive as well. On April 8, 1981, a large crowd — men, women and and extraordinary agent of social change. children — had joined him to recite the “blessing of the sun.” “To the prophet,” Weber writes, “both the life of man and He led the ceremony and addressed the crowd from a raised the world, both social and cosmic events, have a certain sys- platform under a brilliant blue sky and a shining sun. tematic and coherent meaning.” One week later, as he broached the supreme practicality of The American Jewish thinker Rabbi Abraham Heschel a national solar energy agenda, Schneerson noted that some wrote something similar: “The main task of prophetic think- believers might dismiss such geopolitical challenges as “God’s ing is to bring the world into divine focus.” problem.” But drawing on his deep knowledge of rabbinic and As I argue in my new book, Social Vision: The Lubavitcher Hasidic teachings, he insisted that all our relationships — Rebbe’s Transformative Paradigm for the World (co-written with others, with the world and with God — are fundamenwith Eli Rubin and my son Michael), Schneerson possessed tally reciprocal. a distinctly prophetic orientation of exactly this sort. This is In Schneerson’s own words: “What is missing in this situavery well reflected in the distinct religiosity of the ecological tion is the contribution of humanity.” In his view, all natural approach developed in his 1981 talk, which he rooted in a resources, especially sunlight, are certainly to be regarded as Midrashic teaching that he had cited many times before: divine gifts, but that doesn’t absolve us of our responsibilities Everything created in the six days of creation needs work. as human beings. It is not enough to acknowledge the gifts of Mustard seeds need to be sweetened, lupin beans need to be God. We must step up to our role as “partners in creation.” sweetened, wheat needs to be milled. Even man needs to be Philip Wexler is the Executive Director of the Institute of perfected. (Bereishit Rabbah 11:6) Jewish Spirituality and Society, and emeritus Professor of This principle is hinted at in the text of the Torah itself. It Sociology of Education at the Hebrew University of is not written (Genesis 2:3) that God’s work was “created and Jerusalem, where he held the Unterberg Chair. He is the codone,” but that God’s work was “created to do,” meaning that author of “Social Vision: The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Transit was created to be completed by humanity. formative Paradigm for the World.” As one of the Midrashic commentators put it, “everything The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of needs ‘tikun.'” Everything needs to be perfected, fixed and the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its completed. This opens the way for humanity to become “part- parent company, 70 Faces Media.

Netanyahu should not be offered a plea bargain, 52 percent of Israelis say

Israelis prefer a unity government; MaRcy oSTeR JERUSALEM | JTA only 15 percent preferred a third Just over half of Israelis, or 52 perround of elections. Among Arab cent, do not think that Prime MinIsraelis, 33 percent prefer a unity ister Benjamin Netanyahu should be government, 17 percent new elecoffered a plea bargain in which he tions and the rest have no clear would admit to the corruption preference. charges against him and retire from The strongest support for a unity public life without a trial. government was recorded among In addition, 58 percent of Israelis Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu party voters, and the weakest do not think that Netanyahu would agree to such a deal. among voters for the haredi OrthoThe findings of the September Isdox parties. Meanwhile, 74 percent of Jewish raeli Voice Index — a monthly survey conducted by the Guttman Israelis oppose including Arab parIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his Center at the Israel Democracy Inties in the government or appointballot at a voting station in Jerusalem, Sept. 17, 2019. ing an Arab minister – up stitute — were released Wednesday Credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Flash90 significantly from January, when as the pre-indictment hearings into three corruption cases against Netanyahu began at the Justice the opposition stood at 49 percent. Among Arab Israelis, support for inclusion in the government has declined to 66 perMinistry in Jerusalem. The monthly poll also found that some 64 percent of Jewish cent – down from 76 percent in January.

Display of Jewish pride

continued from page 12 reads “The Greatest Grandpa” in Hebrew. She posts a selfie celebrating her Emmy nomination with pastrami, Dr. Brown’s and pickles at Katz’s Deli: “This is how a Jewish gangster celebrates.” I’ll be honest: I just love Alex Borstein. By telling that story at the Emmys, she was living her own story the same way she lives her Jewish life: loud and proud. And that’s something I wish more of us did, right here and right now. Jordana Horn is the host and head writer of the podcast Call Your Mother. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.


Announcements may be e-mailed to the Press at jpress@jewish or mailed to 333 So. 132 St., Omaha, NE 68154. Readers can also submit announcements -- births, b’nai mitzvahs, engagements, marriages, commitment ceremonies or obituaries -- online at the Jewish Federation of Omaha website: Click on “Jewish Press” and go to Submit Announcements.

14 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019

synagogues B’Nai israel syNagogue

618 Mynster Street Council Bluffs, IA 51503-0766 712.322.4705

Beth el syNagogue

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

Beth israel syNagogue

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

chaBad house

An Affiliate of Chabad-Lubavitch 1866 South 120 Street Omaha, NE 68144-1646 402.330.1800 email:

coNgregatioN B’Nai jeshuruN

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

offutt air force Base

Capehart Chapel 2500 Capehart Road Offutt AFB, NE 68123 402.294.6244 email:

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

tifereth israel

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

B’Nai israel syNagogue

Please join us for upcoming events: tuesday: Kol Nidre, 7:30 p.m., Dr. Leonard Greenspoon will speak on Vows, Vowels and Virtue: Does It Really Matter When, Where and Why We Pray? wedNesday: Yom Kippur, 10:30 a.m., Jim Fried will speak on Sin and Forgiveness: In the World and in Ourselves immediately followed by Memorial Service. Concluding service, 5:30 p.m. followed by Break-the-fast Potluck. For information email Our High Holiday services are led by guest Cantorial soloist Jeff Taxman. For information on our historic synagogue, contact any of our board members: Scott Friedman, Rick Katelman, Howard Kutler, Carole Lainof, Wayne Lainof, Sissy Silber, Nancy Wolf, or email

Beth el syNagogue

Services conducted by Rabbi Steven Abraham and Hazzan Michael Krausman. friday: Kabbalat Shabbat, 6 p.m. saturday: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m. Junior Congregation (Grades 3-7), 10 a.m. weekday services: Sundays, 9:30 a.m. & 5:30 p.m.; weekdays, 7 a.m. & 5:30 p.m. suNday: Sukkah Building, 8 a.m.; Madrechim Meeting, 9 a.m.; BESTT School (Grades K-7), 9:30 a.m.; Torah Study, 10 a.m.; BESTT Committe Meeting, 11 a.m.; USY Board Meeting, 11 a.m.; USY/Kadima Program, noon. tuesday: Office Closed — Erev Yom Kippur; Babysitting (Ages 0-5), 6:15 p.m.; Kol Nidre, 6:30 p.m. wedNesday: Office Closed — Yom Kippur; Morning Service, 9 a.m.; Babysitting (Ages 0-5), 9 a.m.; Youth Service/Programming (Grades K-7), 10 a.m.;Torah Service, 10 a.m.; Sermon/Yizkor, 10:45 a.m.; Tot Service (Ages 0-5), 11:15 a.m.; Musaf, 11:30 a.m.; Kaddish Shalem (Conclusion), 12:45 p.m.; Study Session 1, 2:30 p.m. with Dr. Steinacher; Study Session 2, 4 p.m. with Dr. Gabriel; Mincha/ Ne’ila, 5:30 p.m.; Teen Study Session, 6:15 p.m.; Children’s Procession, 7:25 p.m.; Sounding of the Shofar, 7:34 p.m.; Community Break Fast following Children’s Procession. thursday: Brachot and Breakfast, 7 a.m.; Shanghai, 1 p.m. Pre-Neg and Tot Shabbat, friday, oct. 11, 5:30 p.m. Sukkah Building, sunday, oct. 13, 8 a.m. From my Mother’s Kitchen, sunday, oct. 13, 10:30 a.m. with Pam Friedlander. USY Program, sunday, oct. 13, noon-2 p.m. a project with the Only Rain Down the Storm Drain initiative. Adult supervision needed. For more information contact Amy at adw Soup in the Sukkah, Monday, oct. 14, 11:45 a.m. following Sukkot Morning Services.

Beth israel syNagogue

Services conducted by Rabbi Ari Dembitzer friday: Shacharit, 6:40 a.m.; Mincha/Candle Lighting, 6:44 p.m. saturday: Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Insights into the Weekly Torah Portion, 5:40 p.m.; Mincha/Seudah Shlishit, 6:25 p.m.; Havdalah, 7:41 p.m. suNday: Shacharit, 9 am.; JYE BI, 10 am.; Mincha/ Ma’ariv, 6:35 p.m. at Rose Blumkin Jewish Home. MoNday: Shacharit, 6:40 a.m.; Mincha/Ma’ariv, 6:35 p.m. at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home. tuesday: Shacharit, 6:40 a.m.; Mincha/Ma’ariv, 5 p.m.; Candle Lighting, 6:37 p.m.; Kol Nidre, 6:40 p.m. wedNesday: Office Closed; Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Yizkor,

10:30 a.m.; Yom Kippur Class, 5 p.m.; Mincha/Ma’ariv, 5:30 p.m.; Neilah, 6:30 p.m.; Break the Fast Meal, 7:35 p.m. thursday: Shacharit, 7 a.m.; Connecting with Our Faith, 9:30 a.m. with Rabbi Ari; Mincha/Ma’ariv, 6:35 p.m. at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home.

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, 8 a.m. followed by coffee, treats, study and shmoozing; Candle Lighting, 6:34 p.m. saturday: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m.; Shabbat Ends at 7:40 p.m. weekdays: Shacharit, 7 a.m. followed by coffee, treats, study and shmoozing. suNday: Service, 8:30 a.m.; Sunday Secrets, 9:15 p.m. following Minyan. MoNday: Personal Parsha class, 9:30 a.m. with Shani; Biblical Hebrew Grammar, 10:30 a.m. tuesday: Shacharit, 8 a.m.; Kol Nidre, 6 p.m.; Candle Lighting and Fast Begins, 6:36 p.m. wedNesday: Shacharit, 9 a.m.; Yizkor, 11 a.m.; Mincha and Neilah, 5:30 p.m.; Fast Ends at 7:34 p.m. followed by Havdallah and refreshments. thursday: Intermediate Hebrew Reading and Prayer, 11 a.m.; Talmud Class, noon with Rabbi Katzman. All programs are open to the entire community. For more information call 402.330.1800 or visit

coNgregatioN B’Nai jeshuruN

Services conducted by Rabbi Teri Appleby. friday: Shabbat Shuva Healing Service, 6:30 p.m.; Oneg, 7:30 p.m. hosted by Maria and Dean Cadwallader; Candlelighting, 6:45 p.m. saturday: Shabbat Morning Service, 9:30 a.m.; Torah Study on Parashat Vayeilech, 10:45 a.m.; Havdalah (72 minutes), 8:13 p.m. suNday: LJCS Gan through Grade 7, 9:30 a.m.; LJCS Gesher, 10 a.m.; Adult Hebrew Prayer Class, 11:30 a.m. tuesday: Candlelighting, 6:38 p.m.; Kol Nidre Service, 8 p.m. wedNesday: No LJCS Classes; Yom Kippur Morning Service, 10 a.m.; Yom Kippur Children’s Service, 1:30 p.m.; Yom Kippur Afternoon Service, 3 p.m.; Yizkor Service, 4:45 p.m. followed by N’ilah; Break-the-Fast Potluck, 7 p.m.; Havdalah (72 minutes), 8:07 p.m. Annual High Holy Day Food Drive: In the days between S’lichot and Yom Kippur, the SST will again collect food and funds to donate to the Food Bank of Lincoln. Look for the blue barrels in the Temple vestibule and help us fill them up! We’ll have the Food Bank pick up our donations during Sukkot. Pop-Up Shabbat Dinners — No Services at Temple, friday, oct. 11.

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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 Marti Nerenstone. tuesday: Erev Yom Kippur Service, 6:45 p.m., led by Marti Nerenstone. wedNesday: Yom Kippur Services, 9:15 a.m. led by Marti Nerenstone; Yom Kippur Afternoon Services, 3:30 p.m. led by Marti Nerenstone. Services will be held in the Chapel. Members of the community are invited to attend.

Don’t work on Hanukkah. Work on Yom Kippur.

WASHINGTON | JTA e speaker of Wisconsin’s Assembly, Robin Vos, wants the governor to cancel a special election primary that falls on Dec. 30, the last day of Hanukkah. “It is unnecessary to require Wisconsinites to exercise their civic duty to vote on a day they have set aside for a religious purpose,” he said Friday, according to Jessie Opoein, a reporter for the Capital Times, a progressive news site based in Madison. It’s an odd request: No religious stream recom-

mends abjuring from work on Hanukkah, a children-focused holiday that lasts eight days. Vos may be trying to make up for the fact that the Legislature is convening next month on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year — through no fault of his own. e Assembly he leads voted unanimously in February for a resolution initiated by Lisa Subeck, a Jewish Democrat representing Madison, that would shut the Assembly during the holiday, but the Republican-led Senate refused to consider the bill.

teMple israel

friday: Shabbat Shuva and Taslich, 6 p.m. This familyfriendly Shabbat is the Friday night between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in which we will think about the ways in which we “missed the mark” this year and set intentions for the year to come. We will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a community family picnic. Bring your own picnic dinner to enjoy outside (weather permitting) in our beautiful amphitheater. At 6 p.m. we will begin our Shabbat Shuva service outside which will include casting away our sins from the circle bridge behind Temple Israel. saturday: Torah Study, 9:15 a.m.; Shabbat Morning Service, 10:30 a.m. suNday: Youth Learning Programs for Grades PreK-6, 10 a.m.; Social Justice Committee Meeting, 10:30 a.m.; Kids’ Choir Rehearsal, noon; OTYG Board Meeting, noon; Kol Rina Rehearsal, 1 p.m. tuesday: Kol Nidre, 7:30 p.m.; Sitter Service, 7:30-9 p.m. wedNesday: Pre-Readers’ Service, 9-9:30 a.m.; Programming for Grades K-5, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Sitter Service, 10:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.; Morning Service, 10:30 a.m.; Musical Prayer and Conversation for Grades 3-5, 11:30 a.m.; Food Packing, 12:30 p.m.; Study Session, 2 p.m.; Afternoon Worship, 3:30-6:15 p.m.; community Break-the-fast, 6:30 p.m. This year our Break-the-Fast is being sponsored by the Rosalie and Milton Saylan Fund. Reservations are required. You must RSVP by Friday, Oct. 4. The menu includes: egg salad, tuna salad, vegetable salad, fruit, sweet kugel, plain kugel, bagels and cream cheese, desserts, root beer floats, kid friendly food (pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.) Sukkah Building and Decorating, sunday, oct. 13, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Community Open Sukkah at the Alexanders’, sunday, oct. 13, 6-8 p.m. Sukkot Morning Breakfast & Service, Monday, oct. 14: Breakfast, 9:30 a.m. and Service, 10:30 a.m. Tot Shabbat, friday, oct. 18, 5:45 p.m. Erev Simchat Torah Service and Consecration, sunday, oct. 20, 6 p.m.

tifereth israel

Services conducted by lay leader Nancy Coren. Office hours: Monday-friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. friday: No Services; Candlelighting, 6:45 p.m. saturday: Shabbat Morning service, 10 a.m followed by a Kiddush luncheon; Junior Congregation, 11 a.m. followed by a snack; Havdalah (72 minutes), 7:43 p.m. suNday: LJCS Gan through Grade 7, 9:30 a.m.; LJCS Gesher, 10 a.m. tuesday: Office Closed; Kol Nidre, 6:15 p.m. wedNesday: Office closed; No LJCS; Services, 9 a.m.; Youth Service, 11 a.m.; Mincha, 5 p.m.; Havdallah/Break Fast, 7:40 p.m. There is no charge for this meal. We hope to see you there. We will have a uniformed officer present and babysitting available during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services/Activities. Tifereth Israel will once again be participating in food collection for the Lincoln Food Bank's I CAN, YOU CAN, LINCOLN CAN project. We will have two barrels available for canned food donations between sunday, sept. 1 and thursdays, oct. 10. Your donations may be brought on any day except Shabbat. It is very appropriate to bring them just prior to our Kol Nidrei service. Join Our Tifereth Israel Sukkot Celebration: Pizza in the Hut, wednesday, oct. 16, 6 p.m. after LJCS at Tifereth Israel Sukkah. Cost: $5 for adults 13 and up and $4 for children 212. The meal includes pizza, a drink, salad, and cookie. Please RSVP to the synagogue by no later than Thursday, Oct. 10.

jewish press Notices

The Jewish Press will be closed on wednesday, oct. 9 for Yom Kippur, and Monday, oct. 14 for Sukkot. The deadline for the Oct. 18 issue it is tuesday, oct. 8, 4 p.m. Questions? Call 402.334.6448.

MeMorial services

sunday, october 6 Temple Israel Cemetery, 6412 No. 42 St., 10:30 a.m. Beth El Cemetery, 84th and ‘L’ Sts., 11 a.m. Oak Hills/Bikhor Cholim, Council Bluffs, 11 a.m. Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, 11:30 a.m.

The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019 | 15


What does ‘Jew down’ mean, and is it offensive?

marcy oSTer Same deal with the term “Welsh” — a verb substituted for JTA swindle or cheat — derived from a stereotype about Welsh “Jew down” seems to be making a comeback — or maybe people. it never le the lexicon. But is it always anti-Semitic? In April, a City Council member uttered the term at a meetTrenton’s Muschal is correct — the expression probably has ing in Jeffersonville, Indiana. been used a million times. Are all the users anti-Semites if In September, council members in two New Jersey cities — they don’t know its history? Paterson and Trenton — used it in government forums. Historian Deborah Lipstadt’s latest book, Anti-Semitism: In Paterson, Michael Jackson apologized for using the term Here and Now, includes a chapter on what she calls the “clueto criticize developers looking to buy land for less money. less anti-Semite,” which is, she told the Jewish Telegraphic Jackson said it was used as a “term of endearment” when he Agency, “the person who engages in anti-Semitism but was growing up. doesn’t even know it.” In Trenton, Kathy McBride, the council president, used the “Anti-Semitism has gone so deep into the roots of society term to describe the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit that people don’t recognize that they are engaging in it when (by a Jewish lawyer) at a they engage in it,” said low rate, saying “they Lipstadt, the Dorot prowere able to wait her out fessor of Modern Jewish and Jew her down.” A History and Holocaust City Council colleague, Studies at Emory UniverRobin Vaughn, defended sity. is, she hastens to McBride, saying the term add, does not excuse such is “a verb.” behavior. Councilman George She calls clueless antiMuschal also defended Semites just as dangerous her. as extremist anti-Semites, “You know, it’s like a who know exactly what car dealer. ey wanted they are saying when they $5,000, you Jew ‘em say it. Expressions of antia 16th-century painting of a money lender by Dutch artist Quentin down to $4,000,” Semitism from both massys. Credit: Francis G. Mayer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Muschal said, according “feeds into the society’s to the New Jersey Globe. “It’s nothing vicious. e expression perception of Jews.” has been said millions of times.” “It is not meant to be made light of,” Lipstadt said. In the wake of it all, a Jewish attorney working for Trenton Is it becoming more popular these days? severed ties with the city, citing what he called McBride’s “disWhile it feels like the term is gaining in popularity, Brandeis graceful and shameful anti-Semitic remarks.” University professor Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle (Amid calls for their resignations, the three Trenton council R. Braun professor of American Jewish History, suggested members apologized for their use and defense of the term.) that it is merely getting more coverage in modern media. What does the term actually mean, and why is there such a Google, he said, makes it easier to discover examples of the gap in the understanding of it? term’s usage. It comes from an anti-Semitic trope. In addition, he said, throughout the 1990s and until just a e term to “Jew down” was born out of stereotypes formed couple years ago, there was an assumption that anti-Semitism during medieval times about Jews being cheap or prone to had significantly declined. But now it appears to be back, and hoard money. Oen they were forced into financial occupa- some young Jewish adults are being confronted with its extions and thus were best known as money lenders, leaving pressions for the first time. them vulnerable to anti-Semitic misrepresentations. ink of If the Jewish community wants to eradicate the use of the portrayals such as Shylock, the villainous lender in Shake- objectionable term, or what Sarna calls “linguistic insensitivspeare’s e Merchant of Venice. ity,” they have to call out the people who use it, he said. e term itself means to haggle or bargain for a lower price Echoing Lipstadt, he adds, “language helps to shape the than originally agreed upon. e Oxford English Dictionary community we live in.” notes the earliest usage of the term came in 1825 and that it e New Jersey city officials who used the phrase in the last was used in 1870 on the floor of the U.S. Congress to describe month were people of color, and Sarna said that the Jewish a bill setting salaries in the military. e legislation suppos- community “has not been very successful in shaping the senedly prompted someone to say that Congress is “ready to Jew sitivity of people of color.” down the pay of its generals.” For a long time, the Jewish community forgave such usages e comparable term “gyp” also was born out of a negative by the African-American community because they themstereotype, in this case about Roma — oen derogatorily re- selves were victims of prejudice. Now, he said, we have to tell ferred to as “gypsies” and stereotyped as cheap. To gyp some- them that the use of “Jew down” as a verb is as insulting to us one out of something is essentially to steal it away. as the use of the N-word is to them, or its Yiddish equivalent.


The Jewish Business Leaders (JBL) third annual Hall of Fame Breakfast will take place wednesday, oct. 23 from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Happy Hollow Club, not Oct. 26 as previously stated. The Jewish Press regrets the error.

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16 | The Jewish Press | October 4, 2019


As a Jew with autism, the mikvah is my glimmer of hope


Michele AMirA This story originally appeared on Alma. JTA first realized I was different in middle school. I loved my curly hair, but never brushed it, resulting in a total mess of knots and kinkiness. Eventually I started pulling out my beloved curls. Although, like any kid, I cared a great deal about my appearance, I wasn’t able to perform the minor details of hygiene and self-care expected of a young woman my age. Eventually I’d receive an autism diagnosis, but back then I didn’t have the proper tools to cope with these differences, leading to years of bullying and torment from my peers. Instead I was misdiagnosed at an early age with other mental illnesses because I didn’t fit into any particular box, which prevented me from receiving the proper support that I so urgently needed. e extensive autism spectrum is oen misunderstood. I am not anti-social, but I do suffer from extreme social anxiety, which can make me want to hide in my room instead of going out into the world. Being on the spectrum has also led me to battle other issues, like anorexia and self-mutilation. Trying to find ways to cope with these issues is a struggle in and of itself, since resources are oen very limited, hard to find or simply nonexistent. For example, aer desperately searching for over three years to find treatment for my eating disorder, trying clinics, hospitals and counseling, I still came up empty. e treatment for eating disorders was “one size fits all,” which alienated me further because of my special needs. My battle was almost lost when I was near death for three months in a hospital. e key factor for my survival was compassion and family-centered care that was uniquely tailored to fit my individual needs. But in general, I face a world that is void of understanding the many obstacles young women on the autism spectrum

face. But where I’ve actually found comfort is in Jewish traditions, which keep me grounded while dealing with the emotional pain of everyday life. One glimmer of light and hope has been the mikvah, where I go every month, following the traditional laws of niddah. I find it very cleansing, especially when I feel particularly scarred by my struggles, to have the privacy and serenity of walking into a kosher body of water that can help to heal me, both externally and internally. e last time I visited the mikvah, I learned more about the shechinah, a Kabbalistic interpretation of the feminine aspect of God, oen portrayed as a loving mother who was present during the times in which the Israelites wandered in the desert in distress. Being on the autism spectrum, I oen feel like a wandering Jew, so I find comfort in this powerful model of womanhood who is there wherever I wander off. I see, hear and feel the world differently than most other people — and to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Yet being on the autism spectrum means working extra hard all the time, and oen being misunderstood by doctors and well-meaning therapists. However, I feel blessed to have found some peace in the mikvah. ere is a psalm I say to myself before I enter the water each time: “El na refah na la,” meaning, “Please God, heal her.” I’m hoping one day to be cleansed of my constant anxiety. ere’s another quote I like to keep in mind, too, that I first

read on the wall of a mikvah in Washington, D.C., the night before my birthday. Nachman of Breslov, a Hasidic master and religious thinker from the late 18th-early 19th century, said, “e day you were born is the day God decided the world could not exist without you.” It now serves as my constant reminder that God loves me and wants me to be here, just the way I am. Being on the autism spectrum feels like a million forms of

Credit: Unomat/iStock/Getty Images Plus stress silently happening all at once. It’s a daily struggle. I oen feel judged and alienated by those around me. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, my family oen tries to guilt trip me over not having the chutzpah to keep moving on; even my anxiety feels overwhelming. But at the end of the day, it’s nice to know that there’s beauty in the struggle.


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October 4, 2019  

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October 4, 2019  

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