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In 1983 I was the only kid in my neighborhood who didn’t have a television. In fact, I was such an anomaly that
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jewish calendar Jan. 6, 2012 Tevet 11, 5772 Light candles at 4:48 p.m. Shabbat ends at 5:49 p.m. Jan. 13, 2012 Tevet 18, 5772 Light candles at 4:54 p.m. Shabbat ends at 5:56 p.m.
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our local newspaper, the Cambridge Chronicle, profiled my family in a piece about growing up TV-free. It ranks among the better decisions that my father made in regards to childrearing, and it is, in part, why I became a writer. While other kids were watching “Chips,” I was reading “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Not surprisingly, I was also among the last of my friends to join Facebook. I did it reluctantly, and only in the wake of a breakup that had left me feeling bereft and in need of connecting. At the time I was living in Los Angeles, where I served as West Coast correspondent for the Forward newspaper, and between being new to L.A. and suddenly without the boyfriend who had become my best friend, it seemed like a decent idea. The irony was that it only added to my undoing: Through Facebook, I learned that my ex-boyfriend had a new girlfriend, after she posted photos of them on a camping trip not two weeks after our relationship had ended. That was three years ago. In the intervening years, the social network has expanded its reach such that if you’re not on Facebook, you’re liable to miss out on party invitations, birth announcements and the latest social causes you should be up on. Or at least that’s how the ever-changing Newsfeed function makes you feel. If you’re not on Facebook, do you really exist? The obvious answer is yes, but Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg would have you believe otherwise. Their multibillion dollar company would have you believe that if you’re not checking status updates 24/7 you might miss … something big! And how about Twitter? Between email, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and the list is only growing, you could spend all day making sure you’re up on the latest news, and to boot, you’d feel like you were actually doing something. When, as we all know, you’d be wasting time you could be spending with your kids, reading that great new Jewish book, going for a hike, or simply giving your brain a rest. As Matt Richtel, San Francisco tech-
nology correspondent for the New York Times, wrote in a 2010 Times article, scientists have concluded that “when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.” The “new ideas” part is the scariest. And it’s even scarier for our kids. With all this digital technology foisted on them before they can spell the word “focus,” will they know how to be creative, to generate not only new ideas but also great works of art? And will they know how to look someone in the eye when they’re speaking to them, or will they bury their face in a screen, seeking a facile substitute for human interaction? The answer is: We don’t know. But in the meantime, we can do us and them a favor and put ourselves, as well our children, on a digital diet. To be sure, Facebook, Twitter, Google and the like have plenty to offer when used wisely. For my part, I will inevitably post this column on Facebook, making it widely accessible to my social network beyond the Bay Area, and as I plug away at my first novel, Google has made historical research and fact-finding that much easier. The problem lies in overdosing; as with anything addictive — sex, alcohol, food — it’s not the thing itself that’s problematic, it’s our unbridled consumption of it. From a Jewish perspective, there’s a simple way to exert some control over our digital consumption. As proposed by the Sabbath Manifesto, a project launched in 2010 by a group of artists affiliated with the Jewish nonprofit Reboot, we can start by powering down for the Jewish day of rest, whether or not we are religious. If it’s Jews who are leading the way in terms of the technology — not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it’s no secret that Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Google founder Sergey Brin (and the list goes on) are all Jewish — then let it be Jews who lead the call to get our digital lives in check. Otherwise, well, otherwise … who will write the next great Jewish book? ■
Rebecca Spence is a writer and creative writing coach living in Berkeley. She is at work on her first novel. Her website is www.rebeccaspence.com.
| January 6, 2012
Judge dismisses anti-Semitism suit against U.C. Berkeley j. staff & wire reports
A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit filed against U.C. Berkeley by two Jewish students who claimed the school fostered an atmosphere of antiSemitism. However, the attorney representing the students vowed to fight on. “Those of us in civil rights law know it’s a long battle,” said attorney Joel Siegal, who plans to file an amendment to his complaint, which effectively would revive the suit. “This is one of those situations.” The suit, filed in March 2011 by recent Cal graduate Jessica Felber and current undergraduate Brian Maissy, claimed that harassment by pro-Palestinian activists on campus violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech. The suit named U.C. President Mark Yudof, U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and the Associated Students of the University California, charging them with failing to prevent on-campus intimidation of Jewish students. In dismissing the suit Dec. 22, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said that even if the harassment took place, it constituted protected political speech, according to the Associated Press. The judge also said the university did
not violate the students’ constitutional Felber also claimed she was spat rights, and did not have a legal obligaupon by one of the pro-Palestinian tion to intervene in such disputes activists, but Seeborg, in a footnote to between private individuals, such as his decision, surmised that spitting at Felber’s claim that she was intentionally someone could “very well constitute rammed by a shopping cart by a proprotected expressive conduct dependPalestinian activist during “Apartheid ing on the precise circumstances,” Week” events on campus in March 2010. though he also added that such action “The incident … did not occur in the could rise to the level of assault and context of her educational pursuits,” battery. Seeborg wrote, according to the AP Siegal said some good came out of report. “Rather, that event occurred the judge’s ruling, despite the dismissal. when she, as one person attempting to Most significantly, the San Francisco exercise free speech rights in a public attorney believes the judge opened the forum, was allegedly attacked by anothdoor to religion qualifying for Title VI er person who likewise was participating protection under the 1964 Civil Rights in a public protest in a public forum.” Act, which dealt with racial and gender Seeborg also rejected the plaintiffs’ bias. claim that U.C. officials were deliberateTitle VI prevents discrimination by ly indifferent, noting the administration government agencies that receive feder“has engaged in an ongoing dialogue al funds, including state institutions of with the opposing parties in an attempt higher learning like U.C. Berkeley. to ensure that the rights of all persons “This is the first time a judge affordare respected, and to minimize the ed Jewish students civil rights under Jessica Felber during a demonstration potential for violence.” Title VI,” he said. “We brought this as a In their suit, the plaintiffs cited a his- at U.C. Berkeley in March 2010 Title VI action; that it was not dismissed tory of alleged harassment of Jewish stubased on no standing under Title VI is a The suit cites in particular the annual dents on U.C. campuses by student groups “Apartheid Week,” which in March 2010 big legal victory.” hostile to Israel, dating back to 1995 and featured students brandishing fake guns at Siegal said he would file his amendment including physical violence and ongoing “checkpoints” and demanding to know within the next three weeks. intimidation. whether passers-by were Jewish. ■
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Emanu-El’s Rabbi Pearce to step down
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After nearly 20 years at San Francisco’s largest synagogue, Rabbi Stephen Pearce has announced he will step down as senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El. His retirement is effective June 30, 2013. Pearce informed the Emanu-El board of directors last month that he wanted to devote more time to writing and scholarship, as well as spend more time with his family. Upon his retirement, Pearce will assume the role of rabbi emeritus. The synagogue’s board has set up an advisory search committee, and soon will launch a national search for a replacement. Emanu-El continues to be served by rabbis Sydney Mintz, Yoni Jaffe, Ryan Bauer and Carla Fenves. ■
Pro-Israel ad campaign to go up, again
Volunteers needed for Mitzvah Day in Palo Alto
For the third time in the last 12 months, a pro-Israel poster campaign will be launched in area BART stations and on AC Transit buses to counter antiIsrael ads. Sponsored by StandWithUs, the posters will go up Monday, Jan. 16, and will be posted for four weeks. The ads feature a Palestinian and Israeli boy arm-in-arm, with the lines “Israel Needs a Partner for Peace” and “Urge Palestinian Leaders to Accept Israel as Their Neighbor.” The billboards also direct viewers to www.SayYestoPeace.org. The posters are timed to appear immediately after an anti-Israel campaign ends, in many of the same locations. StandWithUs will place 12 ads: nine at BART platforms, including the Civic Center, Embarcadero and Balboa Park stations in San Francisco, as well as downtown Berkeley, Oakland 12th Street, and MacArthur stops in the East Bay. The posters will also appear in three AC transit buses. In the last few years StandWithUs has posted counter-ads in several U.S. metropolitan transit hubs, including Chicago and New York City.
Middle East scholar to lecture on ‘The Arab Lobby’ Journalist, scholar and author Mitchell Bard will be in the Bay Area to discuss his recent book, “The Arab Lobby,” which investigates the impact of Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations on American policies, opinion and education. Bard will speak at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 at Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. He also will appear at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 at the JCC of San Francisco. Both events are free. Bard is director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and its Jewish Virtual Library, a comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture. Kol Emeth is located at 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto. For information, call (650) 948-7498. The JCC is located at 3200 California St., S.F. For information, call (415) 292-1200 or visit the event sponsor’s website at www.standwithus.com.
Mitzvah Day volunteers plant trees in 2009.
The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto will hold its annual Mitzvah Day, part of a communitywide day of service, on Jan. 16, timed to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The event is open to all ages, with 25 service projects available, including making crafts and joke books for hospitalized children; cooking and serving meals at shelters, habitat restoration and tree planting; and visiting with seniors. Projects are organized by category, including the environment, homelessness, hunger and animals. The day is co-sponsored by B’nai B’rith Youth Organization; congregations Beth Am, Beth Jacob, Emek Beracha, Etz Chayim, Kol Emeth and Keddem; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School; Hillel at Stanford; and Kehillah Jewish High School. Preregistration is required. Volunteers will check in at the JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, the mor ning of the event. For information, contact Luba Palant at lpalant@paloalto jcc.org or (650) 223-8656, or visit www.paloaltojcc.org/mitzvah. ■
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| January 6, 2012
bay area ‘East Coast’ goes north as S.F. deli opens in Marin liz harris
business was a good fit for Morgenstein. His grandparents were kosher caterers; Robby Morgenstein is determined to give his mother worked for them and later at Jewish deli fans in Marin their just due — the upscale Pimlico Hotel, where locals a full-fledged, New York–style eatery, with went for fine dining in a refined atmosphere. A cousin owned the venerable all the trimmings. still thriving) Attman’s The owner of Miller’s East Coast (and Delicatessen in San Francisco has opened a Delicatessen downtown, and another second Miller’s in San Rafael, promising to cousin owned Miller’s deli in northwest bring “the full breadth of New York deli- Baltimore. Morgenstein, 48, moved west when catessen” to Marin residents. That means fat sandwiches, kishka, kreplach soup and he was in his 20s (“I was young, I was other favorites. Fish is a specialty, too, from bored,” he says). After working as a chef, he opened Miller’s East Coast West smoked sable to pickled herring. The restaurant, which opened Jan. 4, is Delicatessen in August 2001. But an located in the Montecito Shopping Center aging building, construction woes and, in the corner space once occupied by the soon enough, 9/11 created insurmountable problems. Miller’s East Coast West Pasta Pomodoro. Growing up in Baltimore’s large subur- lasted three years. But Morgenstein resolved that he would ban Jewish community, Morgenstein says learn from past mistakes. that in his home, a “huge” Miller’s East Coast When the new Miller’s fish platter (along with Frank Sinatra on the radio) Delicatessen Marin opened in 2004 at 1725 Polk is located at St., Morgenstein was deterwas standard Sunday morn421 Third St., San Rafael. mined to do things right. ing fare. No reason not to (415) 453-3354 or continue the tradition here. www.millerseastcoastdeli.com. “From the day it began,” he says, “it was a whole differGoing into the restaurant j. staff
Robby Morgenstein prepares to open his new deli.
ent ballgame.” Not only did revenues climb dramatically, but Morgenstein also settled on East Coast food purveyors for standards, such as bagels (from Long Island, N.Y.) and smoked fish (from Brooklyn). “We’re getting the exact same fish that they do at Zabar’s,” he says, referring to the famous food store in New York City. Deli aficionado David Sax, author of the 2009 book “Save the Deli,” cited Miller’s (along with Saul’s in Berkeley) as a place that could lead a Bay Area deli renaissance. They represent a “tenuous new generation of Jewish delicatessens [in the Bay Area that recently] began emerging, approaching deli with a locavore’s take on food,” he writes. Morgenstein, a Novato resident who tends goats, chickens and a vegetable garden by his home, favors local food sources when possible for his restaurants, as well as locally brewed beers. He’ll also serve coffee roasted by Weaver’s Coffee of San Rafael. The 1,500-square foot San Rafael location seats 86; when the weather warms up, additional seating for about 30 will be set up outside. Décor includes old-fashioned black-and-white signage proclaiming such things as “The finest meats in town” and “You name the sandwich, we’ll build it.” Miller’s has a loaded deli counter for
customers on the go; it also offers catering and home delivery. In the final weeks before the San Rafael opening, Morgenstein put in 15-hour workdays, starting at the San Francisco Miller’s, then heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to oversee construction and make the countless decisions required to
get the establishment up and running. The restaurateur is well aware that Marin has had its share of Jewish-style delis: They’ve come — and gone. Authentic Jewish deli is an expensive operation, he concedes, but Miller’s has the “degree of scale” to succeed. “This feels right,” he says of his latest endeavor. “I think 11 years later, all the lessons learned on Polk Street will serve our clients well.” ■
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bay area Alternative ritual, sans snip, catching on in Bay Area they’re not always referred to that way. “We usually just call it a When Andrew and Lisa, a young couple in the East Bay, were preparing for the birth baby naming,” she said. of their first child, a boy in 2009, they faced “Same like with a girl.” At a recent ceremony she a conundrum. Lisa was not Jewish; Andrew was “ethnically, culturally” Jewish but not helped lead — for a baby boy in San Francisco — practicing. The couple wanted some kind of Jewish there were remarks about ceremony to welcome their newborn, but Jewish tradition, the Jewish they were conflicted about circumcision. “I community, and the child’s didn’t feel comfortable with making that parents and grandparents. decision for another human being,” Lisa No mention was made of said. “So we went online and started look- the circumcision that did not take place. ing into alternatives.” photo | courtesy of eli ungar-sargon “People want some kind A still of a brit shalom ceremony taken from the 2007 documentary “Cut: Slicing What they found was a naming ceremony called brit shalom — Hebrew for of way to mark the birth of Through the Myths of Circumcision” “covenant of peace.” They also found their child, and if they don’t Rabbi Judith Seid, who leads Tri-Valley want to circumcise, then this is a way to pendent rabbi, he explained, fewer oppor- country to begin performing intermarCultural Jews, a Pleasanton-based commu- acknowledge a new member of the Jewish tunities arise to officiate at services in gen- riages, in 1967. eral.) When the couples he helped marry nity for people who identity with Judaism community,” said Seid. Mark Reiss of San Francisco, a 78-year- later had children, they called him, which Seid’s personal stance is that circumcithrough family, culture and/or history rather than through religion. Seid helped sion is “up to the parents,” and she doesn’t old retired Jewish doctor who is executive is why Familant started performing what the couple plan a naming ceremony for ask families who choose a brit shalom vice president of Doctors Opposing he called brit chayim (covenant of life) Circumcision, maintains the most com- ceremonies in the early 1970s. Before about their reasons. their son that reflected their wishes. retiring last year, Familant Still, the ceremony is controversial, even plete list of those who offiAccording to the New York Times and said he performed about NPR, the couple is at the cutting edge of a among some of those who perform it. ciate at brit shalom cere15 to 20 of the non-cutRabbi Jerry Levy, who reaches out to unaf- monies. The list includes trend. ting naming ceremonies In July 2011, during the same week a filiated and secular Jews in the Bay Area eight officiants in the Bay annually. measure aiming to ban circumcision of and beyond through an agency called Bay Area. He began putting the list Familant is not opposed any male under 18 was ordered by a judge Area Jewish Services, said he does perform together after turning firmly to circumcision, but he has to be taken off the San Francisco ballot, the ceremony. against circumcision in no problem performing 1999. brit shalom–type cere“Circumcision is not an monies. “People want some kind of way to mark identity issue,” reads a state“If it violated any of my ment by Reiss posted on the principles I would not the birth of their child, and if they don’t website. “You do not need have done any of this,” he said. want to circumcise, then a brit shalom is to be circumcised to be Rabbi Yeshaia Jewish any more than the Charles Familant As for Andrew and Lisa, the ceremony surpassed a way to acknowledge a new member of need to observe many other Jewish laws. The bottom their expectations. They line is this: If your mother invited 25 family members the Jewish community.” is Jewish, you are Jewish, and friends to their home Rabbi Judith Seid period.” to witness the brit shalom, All major branches of which incorporated a prayer shawl that once “Let’s just say that I do the ceremony,” Judaism currently call for both media outlets reported on brit belonged to Andrew’s shalom. They noted that the ceremony is a said Levy, 69, an independent Reform parents to circumcise their father. The reactions from small but growing phenomenon in the Bay rabbi who lives in Tiburon. “I may not baby boys. But if, as recent stories in the New York everyone, including many favor it, but I do it.” Area. of their practicing Jewish Levy said he believes that parents Times and NPR have Brit shalom is frequently promoted by friends, were extremely opponents of circumcision as a way to should be able to choose the content of reported, the incidence of positive, Andrew said. welcome baby boys into the Jewish their religious practice. But it is no coin- brit shalom is increasing, “It felt like the evolution covenant without a brit milah, also cidence that brit shalom appeals, he said, some believe it will follow of something traditional,” mostly to parents who have a weaker in the path of intermar- Rabbi Jerry Levy known as a bris. he said. “It may seem new, But it’s not just a ritual seized upon by sense of Jewish identity and less interest riage — that is, the cere“intactivists,” anti-circumcision activists. in Jewish continuity. “I think that this mony may one day raise very few but there is a history; there’s something fundamental behind it.” It’s also seen by some Jews as a ceremony not wanting to circumcise your sons is eyebrows. “When I first started doing interfaith The couple is now expecting their secthat can be adapted and personalized, and part of this process of diluting Judaism one that promotes egalitarianism — the and assimilating into a very bland cul- marriages, you can bet that I got a lot of ond child. They plan to have a similar cerflak from my colleagues in the Reform emony for her. ture,” Levy said. male equivalent of a girl’s baby-naming. However, Levy said that in recent years movement,” said Menlo Park–based Seid, a rabbi who also works as a cantor, said she presides over a couple of brit he has officiated at more brit shalom cere- Rabbi Yeshaia Charles Familant, who was The Los Angeles Jewish Journal shalom ceremonies each year, though monies than at circumcisions. (As an inde- one of the first Reform rabbis in the contributed to this report. emma silvers
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Matisyahu to headline JFCS émigré gala in S.F. An acoustic performance by Matisyahu, the reggae and alternative-rock musician, will headline Jewish Family and Children’s Services’ 11th annual Émigré Community Gala on Jan. 28. A silent auction and wine reception at 6:30 p.m. will be followed at 8 p.m. by dinner, dancing and music at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The gala is Northern California’s largest event for Russian-speaking Jews. Proceeds go to support JFCS services, including emergency financial assistance, support for children with special needs and the elderly, and scholarships for youth. A portion of the funds also helps families who have been victims of trauma in Israel. The Palace Hotel is located at 2 New Montgomery St. in downMatisyahu town San Francisco. Tickets start at $180 and reservation deadline is Thursday, Jan. 12. The black-tie-optional event usually sells out. See www.jfcs.org for details, or contact Lilya Mittelman at (415) 449-1256 or LilyaM@jfcs.org.
Study: many Jewish college students perceive anti-Semitism on campus A new study conducted by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, a San Francisco–based think tank, suggests that more than 40 percent of American Jewish university students perceive anti-Semitism on their college campuses. Titled “Alone on the Quad: Understanding Jewish Student Isolation on Campus,” the study was compiled from interviews with more than 1,400 students. Other findings suggest that roughly 40 percent of Jewish students have heard what they regard as “anti-Israel” sentiment from a professor in class, and that the majority of non-Jewish students have “no opinion” on antiIsrael statements. The study also found that anti-Semitism is being “normalized and underreported” on campuses by both Jews and non-Jews alike. “Significantly more Jewish and non-Jewish students reported specific anti-Semitic statements heard on campus than reported antiSemitism in general,” reads a summary. “Jewish students tend to dismiss a good deal of anti-Semitic rhetoric they encounter.” For more information on the study, visit www. jewishresearch.org.
Another kosher meat buying club revs up locally Grow and Behold Foods, the Brooklyn-based company that delivers kosher meats from small family farms directly to consumers, has started its first Bay Area Buying Club.
Orders are due by midnight Jan. 14 for pick-up on Jan. 26 at two different sites: from 4 to 6 p.m. at Jewish Community High School of the Bay, 1835 Ellis St., San Francisco, or 5 to 7 p.m. at Epic Bites Catering, 3747 Park Blvd. Way, Oakland. Available for purchase are certified kosher pastureraised whole and cut-up turkeys, chickens and beef roasts, as well as stew meat and other cuts. Founded and organized by Jewish environmental educators, Grow and Behold adheres to “the strictest standards of kashrut, animal welfare, worker treatment, and sustainable agriculture,” according to its mission statement. To order or for more information, call (888) 790-5791 or email email@example.com.
Israeli futurist to speak in Palo Alto Israeli professor David Passig will speak about the future of Israel’s economy and society in a Thursday, Jan. 12 lecture at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. Passig will explain his methodology to predict global economic trends and how they will be reflected in the Middle East and Israel. Passig is a futurist who specializes in technological, social and educational futures. He holds a Ph.D. in future studies from the University of Minnesota, and is currently a faculty member at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. The event takes place 7:30 p.m. at the OFJCC, 3921 Fabian Way, room F-501, Palo Alto. Tickets are $10-$12. For more information, call (650) 233-8692 or visit www.paloaltojcc.org. ■
| January 6, 2012
Iowa results turn Jewish attention to three things ron kampeas
Joining Gingrich outside of the top three in Iowa were Rep. Michele There were three winners in the Iowa Bachmann (R-Minn.), who got 5 percent Republic caucus: Mitt Romney, Rick of the vote, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Santorum and, not far behind them, Ron who got 10 percent. On Jan. 4, Bachmann Paul. ended her campaign. There were also (at least) three takeaways Gingrich, Bachmann and Perry had at varfor Jewish observers: Foreign policy matters, ious times during 2011 experienced surges in evangelicals matter — and Ron Paul matters. the polls, a signal of the difficulties faced by The importance of foreign policy in the Romney, who has struggled to break away 2012 presidential race, even in a farm state from the pack and establish himself as the once known better for the pledges for clear front-runner. ethanol subsidies it extracts from candidates, Romney’s albatross has been his reputawas evident in the speeches following voting. tion as a moderate in a party that has moved Romney, the former sharply to the right since the Massachusetts governor and 2010 congressional election, nominative winner — he got when tea party candidates 30,015 votes, only eight more helped Republicans regain the than Santorum, the former House. senator from Pennsylvania That was another factor — launched his speech with explaining Santorum’s lasta broadside against President minute surge; he performed Barack Obama’s Iran policy. especially well in rural Iowa “Iran is about to have counties where evangelicals nuclear weaponry just down predominate. Santorum is a the road,” Romney told his Roman Catholic, but his takefollowers. “He said he’d have no-prisoners stance on abora policy of engagement. tion, gay marriage and his How’s that worked out?” defense of religious expression Santorum’s strong show- photo | ap/chris carlson in the public square appealed ing — each got just a shade Mitt Romney to the evangelical base. less than 25 percent of the speaks in Iowa. Santorum was already reachvote — was credited mostly ing out to pro-Israel fundraisers to his months-long dedicain the wake of his strong showtion to the state, working ing, insiders said. Those givers every county and making had mostly ignored him because more than 300 appearances. of his back-of-the-pack showBut Santorum’s strong ings in the polls until very recentforeign policy performance ly. in the debates, in which he Pro-Israel insiders said showed a command of Santorum would likely get a detail stemming from his 12 more receptive hearing in the years in the Senate, was also wake of Iowa, although whether likely a factor. it would be enough to assist him In a Jan. 4 New York going into New Hampshire is Times profile, Santorum another question. Santorum has advisers said the candidate a minimal ground operation in started to stress his own the state. photo | creative commons/ hard line on Iran after seeAs a senator, Santorum had a gage skidmore ing how it elicited positive Ron Paul in October. strongly pro-Israel record, but responses during his Iowa Fred Zeidman, a major fundraiscampaign. er for Romney, said his social stances would Newt Gingrich, the former House of ultimately alienate Jewish givers. Representatives speaker who placed fourth in “They would be anathema to the commuIowa with 13 percent, said in his speech he nity,” Zeidman said in an interview. would make his foreign policy differences with Paul’s showing kept him in the race. Paul, the third-place finisher with 21 percent Jewish Republicans had attempted to disof the vote, a campaign issue in New count his support as mostly coming from Hampshire, which has its primary on Tuesday, supporters who took advantage of Iowa’s Jan. 10. relatively loose caucus rules; voters are “I have no doubt about the survival of allowed to register with the party up to the Israel as a moral cause which we have to rec- day of voting. ognize as central to our future,” Gingrich But his 21 percent support, and his domisaid in his speech, targeting Paul, who has nance among young and independent caudownplayed Iran’s potential nuclear threat cus-goers, have left him as a force to be reckand pledged to end aid to Israel if elected. oned with. jta
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were among those meeting in Amman this week.
Israeli, Palestinian envoys meet — at king’s behest ron kampeas
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met this week in Amman for the first time in more than a year to discuss how to restart peace negotiations. No statements were issued, but the sides reportedly agreed to meet again next week in Jordan. Yitzhak Molcho, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy to the talks, met on Jan. 3 with his Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry. While they were meant to discuss issues such as borders and security, according to the Associated Press, observers say the two sides showed up not so much to talk to one another as to send messages and dispense favors to other players. One regional player whom both the Israelis and Palestinians hope to please is King Abdullah II of Jordan, who convened the talks together with the Quartet — the grouping of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia that guides the Middle East peace process. The Israelis are seeking to bolster an ally who thus far has managed to ward off the Islamist tide of the Arab Spring. The Palestinian Authority’s Fatah leadership is giving the nod to a fellow moderate Arab regime. “Both sides owe favors to King
Abdullah,” said Avraham Sela, a professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “It’s not nice to turn him down, especially when both sides are interested in maintaining warm relations with the king.” For his part, Abdullah is seeking to show his country’s Palestinian majority that he can still influence the two parties. He also is seeking to stake out a central role in the emerging new Middle East, particularly after the fall of his close ally, Hosni Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian dictator. “Jordan lacks any anchor in the Middle East right now, and it is searching for an anchor,” said Assaf David, a Jordan expert at the Hebrew University’s Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace. “If Jordan is involved in it and can calm the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, it is very good for Jordan.” The Quartet has set a Jan. 26 deadline for the resumption of direct negotiations. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas needs to counter the Israeli-U.S. attempt to depict him as recalcitrant for refusing since October 2010 to allow peace talks unless Israel freezes settlement building. Abbas “has to satisfy the Quartet by dropping his preconditions,” said Yossi
Alpher, an Israeli analyst and the co-editor of bitterlemons.net, an online forum that includes both Palestinian and Israeli opinion. Netanyahu, for his part, has insisted repeatedly that talks should be held without preconditions.. The purported aim of this week’s meeting was to set the stage for more substantive negotiations, although experts question the likelihood of such an outcome. “Neither Abu Mazen [Abbas] nor Netanyahu is interested,” said Alpher. “Abu Mazen because he understands that if he turned down” former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud “Olmert’s far-reaching offer at the end of 2008, he will never hear anything close to that from Netanyahu, and Netanyahu because he presides over a coalition not interested in sustaining a peace process.” Since his election in 2009, Netanyahu has navigated between Obama administration demands that he make efforts to restart peace talks with the demands of a right-leaning coalition that is resistant to territorial concessions. The prime minister’s moves toward the peace table have been matched traditionally with nods to hard-liners, and this week seemed no different. Just hours before the meeting, Netanyahu’s government announced tenders for the construction of 300 new units in eastern Jerusalem, including 247 units in Har Homa, a particularly contentious Jewish neighborhood not far from Bethlehem. Abbas may see the Amman meeting as a means to show Palestinians that he can deliver an alternative as he negotiates a unity deal with Hamas that could lead to elections as soon as May. His need for street credibility has been sharpened by the Arab Spring turmoil. “Abu Mazen needs something in hand, something he can show,” Sela said. “He got very little from the bid to the U.N.” for statehood recognition in September. In the days leading up to the Amman meeting, the Palestinians reportedly have dropped their demand for a settlement freeze, instead seeking the release of 100 prisoners before restarting peace talks. A prisoner release to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority would be a salve to the blow it took when Hamas, its Islamist rival in the Gaza Strip, won the release late last year of more than a thousand prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the captive Israeli soldier. Netanyahu, however, rebuffed Abbas’ request, seeing it as a precondition, according to Israeli media reports. Alpher predicts no real movement until after the U.S. elections in November. “The Obama administration in the throes of an election year is not going to take any risks in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” he said. ■
Haredi protesters slammed for Holocaust imagery Israeli leaders criticized a haredi Orthodox demonstration in which protesters wore yellow stars to indicate that they are being oppressed like the Jews in Nazi Germany. More than 1,000 haredi protesters gathered in Jerusalem Dec. 31 to protest what they described as persecution against their way of life, including separation of the sexes. Many of the protesters wore yellow stars with the word “Jude” and Holocaust imagery on them. Young children were brought to a makeshift stage wearing striped prison garb along with their yellow stars. One held up his hands in an imitation of a famous image from the Warsaw Ghetto. Protesters also shouted “Nazis” at police during the demonstration. “Prisoner uniforms and yellow patches with the word ‘Jew’ written on them in German are shocking and appalling,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement. “The use of yellow patches and small children raising their hands in surrender crosses a red line which the ultra-Orthodox leadership, who are largely responsible people, must not accept.” — jta
Israel’s Supreme Court raps outpost plans Israel’s Supreme Court gave the government a week to report back on agreements reached on construction in outposts built on state land. The order came Jan. 3 in response to an agreement struck between the state and the Ramat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank. Under the agreement, the outpost would become part of the Karnei Shomron municipality, and five of its 10 caravans and several warehouses would be relocated to areas on the hill not considered private Palestinian property. The parts of the outpost on private land had been scheduled to be razed by the end of 2011 by order of the Supreme Court. The court granted the state’s request for an extension on razing several outposts, saying it wanted the issue to be resolved peacefully, according to Ynet. But the justices noted that the matter could not be put off indefinitely. Meanwhile, a Knesset committee postponed debate on a bill that would require Palestinians to prove in court any ownership claims on land on which an outpost is to be built. The bill had been dubbed the Migron bill, an effort to prevent the razing of the controversial Migron outpost. The Supreme Court has ordered the demolition by March. — jta
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says it won’t recognize Israel The Muslim Brotherhood, which is leading in the national elections in Egypt, said it will not recognize Israel. The party’s deputy head, Rashad Bayoumi, told the al Hayat Arabic newspaper that the Muslim Brotherhood also would work to cancel the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. “No Muslim Brotherhood members will engage in any contact or normalization with Israel,” he reportedly said in the interview with the London-based paper published Jan. 1. “The Brotherhood respects international conventions, but we will take legal action against the peace treaty with the Zionist entity,” al Hayat reported, according to Reuters. Last week, the Salafi al Nour party, which won up to 30 percent of the vote in the first two rounds of parliamentary elections in Egypt, reportedly said in a statement that the party will “stand firmly against normalization between the two countries in all forms.” The statement came after a spokesman for the party said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio that the party would respect all treaties signed by Egypt, including the 1979 pact with Israel, though party leaders later clarified that the party is looking into the matter. — jta
U.S. releases $40 million to P.A. The United States transferred $40 million in foreign assistance to the Palestinians. The Associated Press reported Dec. 29 that congressional lawmakers released the funds, which amount to 20 percent of the $187 million in foreign assistance from fiscal year 2011 that was held up by Congress in response to the Palestinians’ actions at the United Nations. The funds released are for humanitarian and economic purposes and not for security assistance. The release of the 2011 funds comes after an omnibus 2012 appropriations package passed by Congress earlier in December included restrictions that would limit any assistance to the Palestinians if they continued with their efforts to achieve member status at the United Nations. A senior Republican staffer noted that this could be a good way to test the Palestinian Authority without putting U.S. taxpayers at too much risk. “If the Palestinians act responsibly and comply with U.S. law, they’ll get another tranche. If they don’t, especially in these times of great austerity, the American people will understand if we turn the spigot back off,” the staffer said. — jta
Five Israeli women get their wings A record-setting five women were awarded their pilots’ wings in a graduation ceremony with the Israeli air force. Fourteen soldiers completed the three-year pilots course, which includes a bachelor’s degree; each has signed on to serve the Israeli military for nine years. “A country where women sit in the pilot’s seat is a country where women should be able to sit anywhere,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the graduates, referring to the recent controversy over women in the public sphere. On Jan. 1, the chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces told a meeting of military rabbis that they must work to ensure women’s inclusion. “There will be no exclusion of women in the IDF,” Rabbi Rafi Peretz said. “We especially, who know the importance of respecting a woman, must make sure this controversy won’t penetrate our ranks.” — jta
Obama ‘flexible’ with Iran sanctions On the day President Barack Obama signed legislation that ratchets up Iran’s sanctions, the White House said he would be flexible in its application. The Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, includes an amendment that targets for sanctions third parties that deal with the Central Bank of Iran as well as with Iran’s energy sector. The legislation allows the president to give other countries and companies time to pull out of Iran, instead of subjecting them immediately to sanctions. Obama sought the flexibility so the U.S. could leverage other nations into joining in Iran’s isolation, and to time sanctions so they did not redound on Western oil markets. “This is important because the most effective approach is one that involves multilateral participation and is timed and phased to avoid negative repercussions to international oil markets and instead focus pressure on Iran,” the White House said in a statement. — jta
Israel files complaint with U.N. over Gaza phosphorus The head of a regional council in southern Israel filed a complaint with the United Nations after mortar shells fired from Gaza were found to contain the banned substance white phosphorous. Two mortars that landed in the Eshkol regional council, with a population of 13,000, contained white phosphorous, which is banned by international law for use in populated areas. Phosphorus can cause severe burns and other injuries. It reportedly was the fourth time that white phosphorus has been found on mortars fired from Gaza on Israel. — jta ■
| January 6, 2012
Haredi Orthodox men argue w secular Israelis in Beit Sheme on Dec. 2
mideast Condemnation of violence not loud in haredi world uriel heilman
After an 8-year-old girl was harassed by ultra-Orthodox men on her way to a Modern Orthodox girls’ school in Beit Shemesh, the condemnations started pouring in. Israel’s prime minister and president vowed that Israel would not tolerate haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, violence against women, whether directed at girls walking to school or women riding on public buses. Israel’s opposition leader, Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, attended a demonstration of thousands on Dec. 27 in Beit Shemesh. In the United States, too, the condemnations came fast and furious: Hadassah, the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America and Agudath Israel of America (the haredi Orthodox umbrella body) were among the many groups that responded. There appeared to be just one segment of the Jewish community that was staying silent: Israeli haredim themselves. That’s because there is some ambivalence among haredi Israelis when it comes to religious zealotry. “The question isn’t how many haredim support haredi violence and how many do not,” said sociologist Menachem Friedman, an expert on haredi life and professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University. “The problem is that most haredim allow the extremists to act and do not stop them.” The violent zealots come largely from the Edah HaCharedis, a community of anti-Zionist haredim that is particularly strict even by haredi standards and has strongholds in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. The Edah is closely aligned with the Satmar Chassidic sect. “Some, perhaps a small segment [of haredim] really do support the violence,” Friedma said. “The majority perhaps opposes the violence and knows that ultimately it’s bad for Judaism, but doesn’t have the courage to go out and oppose it publicly.” At least one haredi leader in Israel had that courage. “If there are those in our generation who believe that warfare is the way to spread the light of Judaism, they are mistaken,” said Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Jerusalem-based leader of the Belz Chassidim. Rokeach’s comments, made during a Chanukah candlelighting ceremony at his synagogue on Dec. 25, were tepid by secular standards, but they marked a rare foray into current events by the rebbe, who has an estimated 45,000 followers worldwide. But the roundabout way his message was delivered — and the scant media coverage given to haredi opposition to the violence — is indicative both of the difficulties outsiders have with discerning shades of gray in haredi society and the ambivalence within the haredi world toward using violence to achieve religious aims. For one thing, Israeli haredi condemnations of violence are not delivered the same way as condemnations in the
non-haredi world. They are generally directed inward, not outward; they tend to be delivered not in statements to the press but as words of Torah to followers; they are often spoken not in English or Hebrew, but in Yiddish; and they are expressed less as a reaction to current events than as calls for dignified behavior by Torah-observant Jews. Rokeach’s speech was unusual both because it referred to current events and because it was aimed, at least in part, at a wider audience. Most haredi leaders stayed silent. There are haredim who oppose extremism but fear speaking out because they do not want to be seen as lax in matters of religion. When Rabbi David Kohn, the leader of the Toldos Aharon sect of Chassidim, spoke out a few years ago against religious violence (via a Yiddish-language Torah exegesis of the story of Pinchas the zealot in the Book of Numbers), he quickly was condemned in placards posted around his Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim. Other haredim don’t speak out because they see fights like the one in Beit Shemesh not as a battle between extremists and moderates but as part of a broader Israeli assault on haredi life led by the mainstream Israeli media. “The source of the pollution is in halachah [Jewish law] itself,” former Knesset member Yossi Sarid wrote in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. Sarid called for the disqualification of haredi parties from the Knesset. On Ha’aretz’s English-language website, the article was headlined “Orthodox Judaism treats women like filthy little things.” Facing such hostility, some haredim say, why get involved at all? And then there is the large segment of haredim who see themselves as totally apart from the haredim perpetrating the violence. Their attitude is that if it’s not their community members, it’s not their business and they don’t need to get involved. While to an outsider all haredim may look alike — with their black coats, hats and beards — the haredi community is as fractured as the Jewish community as a whole. It is Ashkenazi and Sephardic, Chassidic and non-Chassidic, moderate and extremist. But in a world seen by outsiders as monolithic, all
munity are to be commended,” Agudath Israel of America said in its statement. “It is disturbing, though, that some Israeli politicians and secularists have been less responsible, portraying the actions of a very few as indicative of the feelings of the many. “Quite the contrary, the extremist element is odious to, and rejected by, the vast majority of charedi Jews.”
prevent sniper attacks during the construction work. Although the two countries technically are in a state of war, Israeli and Lebanese military officials meet regularly to discuss border issues in the company of the U.N. peacekeeping force UNIFIL. The sources said Metulla farmers have come under sniper fire in the past and frequently have stones hurled at them from the Lebanese side. The 49-mile border is decorated with flags of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, with whom Israel fought a war in 2006, and portraits of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed in a statement that
it was looking at ways to beef up border security. UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh said the subject was under discussion. Israel’s daily newspaper Yediot Achronot reported that the planned wall would be 16 feet high and incorporate electronic detection devices. If approved, the project would begin within weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Jan. 1 that he planned to strengthen barriers along the country’s border with Jordan with a new fence costing $166 million. Israel currently is erecting a security barrier along its border with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. — ap
haredim inevitably are associated with the extremism of a few, and haredi silence is seen as affirmation of haredi bad behavior. When the main haredi umbrella organization in America issued its statement condemning the Beit Shemesh violence, it also took a shot at those denigrating haredim in general. “Those who have taken pains to note that the small group of misguided individuals who have engaged in this conduct are not representative of the larger charedi com-
Israel considers wall on Lebanese border Israel is considering walling off part of its border with Lebanon, fearing sniper fire at new apartment blocks in the town of Metulla, military sources said. The sources said Israel was communicating with Lebanese and U.N. officials about erecting an anti-sniper wall along a 1.6-mile section of the frontier between Metulla and the Lebanese village of Kfarkila. Any final decision on such a project would be coordinated with officials in Lebanon, the sources said, to help .
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Haredi Orthodox argue with secular Israelis in Beit Shemesh on Dec. 26.
with esh 26.
Savvy, U.S.-born organizers lead battle in Beit Shemesh allison kaplan sommer
Americans.” Since a television crew captured Na’ama’s fearful walk to school — in recent months, she and her peers have beit shemesh, israel | Little Na’ama Margolese is not the first Israeli child to be harassed on her way to been called “whores,” spat on and had tomatoes thrown school by members of a fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox at them — the little girl’s story has been dominating sect who resent her presence in or around their neigh- headlines in Israel. The attention included a Dec. 27 rally in Beit Shemesh that drew thousands and featured borhood. But the 8-year-old girl is the first to have her plight speeches by representatives of every major political featured on Israeli television and turned into an interna- party. Less obvious to the casual observer have been the tional news story. And she is definitely the first to have a relentless behind-the-scenes efforts of Na’ama’s parents and a handful of friends and neighbors, many with marketing and public relations backgrounds, to prevent Beit Shemesh from becoming a place where only ultra-Orthodox Jews are welcome. The media exposure is the most conspicuous evidence of their work. But it has been backed up by months of letter-writing, phone-calling, lobbying in the halls of the Knesset and in the offices of government ministers, and the filing of police complaints and civil lawsuits. The English-speaking community in Beit Shemesh, where Eisen, a Baltimore native, has lived for the past 15 years, has been attracting U.S. transplants since 1991. That’s when a group of families, looking to achieve an Israeli version of the American dream, began leaving their cramped city apartments and building houses with yards in the sleepy suburb. Situated 11 miles from Jerusalem and within commuting distance from Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh had been home to secular and traditional immigrants from North Africa since it was founded in the 1950s. Eisen’s street, with its fences and manicured lawns, ends in a cul-de-sac. She likes to joke that she lives on the Modern Orthodox version of Wisteria Lane, the fictional suburban street where the TV show “Desperate Housewives” is set. If the homes weren’t built from classic Jerusalem stone, the neighborhood could easily be mistaken for the American suburbs; even the kids run around with baseball caps and jerseys. Over the past two decades, many North photo | jta/flash90/kobi gideon American Jews mulling a move to Israel determined, organized group of politically and media were lured to Beit Shemesh by its quality of life, relativesavvy families behind her, a cohort made up almost ly affordable housing and the chance to provide their entirely of Modern Orthodox immigrants from the children with a religious education at a fraction of the cost of U.S. day school tuition. These English-speaking United States. “They messed with the wrong crowd this time,” said immigrants — they now number about 2,500 families Sara Eisen, a marketing executive and member of that — invested time, energy and money into building the community. “This time, the bullies came up against local Orot national religious schools for boys and girls. special to j.
Gender segregation on buses incites reaction Dozens of female demonstrators in Israel sat at the front of gender-segregated buses to protest the separation of men and women. The protesters rode buses Jan. 1 leaving from Jerusalem and Ramat Gan through the haredi Orthodox community of Bnei Brak and through Beit Shemesh, where a Modern Orthodox girls’ school on the cusp of a haredi neighborhood has thrust the issue of the exclusion of women in the public sphere
into the spotlight. Be Free Israel, which according to its website is a nonpartisan movement working on behalf of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, organized the protest of the mehadrin, or sex-segregated, bus lines. Men also participated in the protest. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that voluntary sex segregation is permissible on public bus routes. Last week, a haredi man who insulted a female soldier after she refused to sit in the back of a city bus was charged with sexual harassment. Shlomo Fuchs, 44, was indicted in a Jerusalem
The new Orot Banot girls’ school is situated on a major road that is the seam between the city’s Modern Orthodox neighborhood and one that is home to members of a violent ultra-Orthodox faction known as the Sikrikim. Between 100 to 150 Beit Shemesh families are thought to belong to this fringe sect. All told, about 40,000 of the city’s 90,000 residents are ultra-Orthodox, and the vast majority of them, it must be noted, are peaceful and not affiliated with the Sikrikim sect. As for the fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox community, their rallying cry has been that religious Orot girls like Na’ama are immodest. But the real story, Eisen and her fellow activists say, is about real estate. The ultraOrthodox wanted the building for themselves, according to members of the Modern Orthodox community. In September, on the eve of the new school year, the city’s ultra-Orthodox mayor came out against the opening of Orot Banot, on grounds that the city could not protect its students against the angry extremists and their violent tactics. A weaker, more pliable group of parents might have walked away, as they did in B’nai Brak and other now solidly haredi enclaves in Israel. But Beit Shemesh is different. The effort to “save Beit Shemesh” is spearheaded by teacher and community activist Rabbi Dov Lipman, originally from Maryland, the son of an administrative judge, who brings his Beltway savvy to the fight. The community is in constant e-mail communication and has set up a Facebook group “We are All Orot Banot,” with more than 1,250 members. They have had a patrol at the school every day since September. The moment extremists show up to harass students, phone calls go out to the police and reinforcements are brought in to confront them. Volunteers photograph and film demonstrators, hand their materials over to the police, and post the videos on YouTube. Complaints to the authorities and civil lawsuits over the harassment have been filed, as well as action taken against the municipality’s plans to build new housing for tens of thousands more ultra-Orthodox residents, which would change the city’s demographic makeup permanently. They’ve also received some $20,000 in donations to their legal fund. Eisen’s brother, Elie Klein, an account executive at the Jerusalem offices of the public relations firm Ruder Finn, has lent his expertise to the struggle for Beit Shemesh. He was attracted to the city because, he says, it was a diverse community where secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews lived together. “We love this city, and we will fight for the right to live here,” he said. “Not because we want to fight, but because we have been given no other choice.” ■
This article originally appeared in the Forward, and is reprinted with permission.
court Dec. 29, a day after he was arrested by Jerusalem police for calling the soldier, Doron Matalon, 19, a “whore” and a “shiksa” on a Jerusalem bus; he was joined in the insults by other passengers. The bus driver pulled over and called police. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch called on the public to file complaints with the police over such harassment, Ynet reported. On Dec. 27, thousands gathered in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh to protest the exclusion of women in the public sphere. — jta ■
| January 6, 2012
After saving Jews, Polish hero discovers own Jewish roots vaness gera
Such knowledge often was repressed due to the trauma inflicted by the Hitler era and anti-Semitic persecution during the communist decades that followed. Grodzka-Guzkowska learned of her heritage late in life. It led her to immerse herself in Torah study, dream of visiting Israel and ask Poland’s chief rabbi to bury her in Warsaw’s Jewish cemetery. One landmark on her path to a new identity came during a dinner at the home of a Jewish friend in the 1990s, when she mentioned that she had a Jewish great-grand-
will be carried out. Grodzka-Guzkowska’s gradual embrace of Judaism paralleled cultural shifts within Poland after the 1989 colIt was 1943 in Nazi-occupied Warsaw when an 18-year-old lapse of its Communist government, as it began its transiPolish girl slipped into a church with an elderly rabbi to tion to democracy. teach him how to dip his hand in holy water and cross himAmid Poland’s cultural changes, aging Poles with family self. They both hoped it would help him pass as Catholic. secrets feel it is finally time to pass them on to the next genAny mistake could cost him his life, and hers, too — the eration. In some cases, such discoveries spark personal Nazis would have killed her for helping a Jew. transformations, inspiring adult men to undergo circumciWhat she did not know back then was that she was a Jew sion or to take on new names. herself. Most of those who decide to live Decades after she helped save the as Jews are in their 20s or 30s, with rabbi and about a dozen other the older generations often still Polish Jews, mostly children, by too fearful of anti-Semitism to teaching them Christian customs want to live openly as Jews. as part of her work in the anti-Nazi Grodzka-Guzkowska is a promiresistance, Magdalena Grodzkanent exception. Guzkowska discovered documents Rabbi Stas Wojciechowicz says in an old suitcase showing that her he is struck by how many Polish father and other close family memJews belong to the Jewish and bers were Jewish. Catholic worlds simultaneously. Shared humanity, not ancestry, His synagogue, for instance, pracinspired her wartime heroism. tically empties of worshippers “I remember running with chilaround Christmas and All Saints dren through the city. It was horriDay, a major Catholic holiday ble,” said the now frail Grodzkawhen Poles visit the graves of Guzkowska, her hand trembling as ancestors. she sat in a wheelchair. “They say they are sorry but “During the war I saved Jewish they need to be with their parents children while not being aware that at those times,” he said. “Almost I was Jewish. I saved them because everybody has this story of a that is what had to be done.” divided family.” Today, at age 86, she’s living out Not long after Grodzkaher last years waiting to be buried Guzkowska embraced her in a white shroud according to photo | agencja gazeta Jewishness, it proved an obstacle Jewish custom. Magdalena Grodzka-Guzkowska (center) accepts the Taube Foundation’s Irena to her being honored for her In July 2011, Grodzka- Sendler Award in July 2011 at Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue with (from left) wartime heroism. Guzkowska received the S.F.- Magdalena Matuszewska; U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein; Shana Penn, A Jewish boy she had rescued based Taube Foundation’s Irena executive director of the Taube Foundation; Konstanty Gebert; and Helise Lieberman. petitioned Israel’s Yad Vashem to Sendler Memorial Award at a cermother — her mother’s mother’s mother. name her Righteous Among the Nations in recognition of emony in Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue. The friend explained to her that Jewish law traces Judaism her wartime heroism. “Magda exemplified all that this award was meant to But Yad Vashem hesitated on the grounds the award only honor,” said Tad Taube, chairman of the Taube from mother to child, meaning that she was Jewish, too. After that evening, she began to cultivate a relationship recognizes non-Jews. Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture. “Her selfless bravSchudrich and other Polish Jews argued that she should ery enabled thousands of Jewish children to survive. Who with Warsaw’s Jewish community and to attend services at be given the award because she had acted during the war can count the descendants directly attributable to her hero- the Nozyk Synagogue. Five years ago, she found out that her father was with the consciousness of a Catholic, not a Jew. ism?” “Magda decided in a moment to save Jewish children,” The discovery of Jewish roots is a growing phenomenon Jewish. This revelation, more than anything, caused a in Poland, where increasing numbers of Catholic or secular profound shift in her identity and made her finally think Schudrich wrote in a 2008 email to Yad Vashem. “Why are we taking so long?” Poles in recent years have learned, often from deathbed of herself as a Jew. “I will be buried in the Jewish cemetery as a Jew,” she The Jerusalem-based institute ultimately honored her confessions or from chance discoveries of documents, that said. Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich confirms her wishes in 2009. they are of Jewish descent. associated press
Lithuanian paper prints anti-Semitic front page The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed “disgust and outrage” over the frontpage of a Lithuanian tabloid newspaper that it termed a “blatantly anti-Semitic attack on the Lithuanian Jewish community.” The front page of the Dec. 21 edition of the Lithuanian tabloid Vakaro Zionios bore a large picture of the Vilnius Chabad Rabbi, Sholom-Ber Krinsky, in his Chasidic garb and gesturing with a finger. Above the photo ran a huge headline reading “Zydai” (the Jews) and, in much smaller print “see no need to pay their Social Security taxes.” The caption and an article on inside pages singled out
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the Chabad school as one of several offenders. The article also listed the “top 10” offenders delinquent in their payments, and no Jewish organization figured in the list. The front-page headline, caption and photograph “clearly create the mistaken impression that it is the Jews who are robbing the Lithuanian people,” Wiesenthal Center Israel director Efraim Zuroff said in a statement. “This type of blatant anti-Semitic lie is particularly reprehensible and dangerous in financially-beleaguered Lithuania and what is even more shocking is that this anti-Semitic incitement, which threatens the entire Lithuanian Jewish community, has not elicited a single negative reaction from any government official, religious leader or foreign ambassador.” — jta
Fox apologizes for poll asking if Jews killed Jesus The Latin American division of Fox apologized for a poll that asked whether Jews killed Jesus. Posted on the Fox Spanish-language Facebook page, the poll asked, “Who do you think is responsible for the death of Christ?” It provided three choices for the answer: Jewish People, Pontius Pilate and High Priests. The poll, which was promoting a National Geographic Channel Christmas special, was removed following the apology, according to reports citing the Associated Press. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Buenos Aires reportedly slammed the poll and pointed out that in 1965, the Vatican annulled the idea that Jews killed Jesus. — jta ■
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The dreaded 5 a.m. wake-up call — courtesy of baby
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Our 7-month-old baby used to be a great sleeper, but when daylight saving time ended, she started waking up at 5 a.m. We thought we’d wait it out — let her adjust to the new time and she’d go back to 6 a.m. (much more reasonable …), but no such luck. We tried keeping her up later at night but, other than a miserable time from 8 to 9 p.m., we have seen no results. How can we explain to her that we are not farmers? Can we retrain her to wake up at a more suitable hour for modern urban living? I have never been so tired in my life, even when I was getting up three times a night to nurse. Sleepless in S.F. This is a common problem with infants; perhaps it’s the hunter-gatherer genetic code. Sometimes it’s triggered by a time change, or jetlag, but often it just emerges as a baby transitions from nights punctuated by several wakings to feed to being able to sleep through the night. Delaying bedtime may help, but it takes five to seven days before that “takes” and, as in your case, often increases misery at night for no rewards in the morning. Here is how you might train your daughter to sleep in before she is a teenager (when it will be no problem at all). For five days in a row, record the time she awakens. Pick the earliest time as your starting point. If she wakes at 5:15, 5:00, 5:05, 5:20 and 5:10, then 5 a.m. is it (sorry). Put a clock radio in her room set to play music at 5 a.m. Within a minute after the radio turns on, come into her room, pick her up and proceed as if this is a perfectly reasonable time to start the day. Turn on lights, feed and change her, and play with her in your usual daytime room. She’ll probably want a morning nap earlier than usual — don’t worry about that. Repeat the clock radio routine for four or five days. You are working to create a conditioned response, whereby as soon as the music comes on, she wakes up and expects you. After about five days she will be trained to wake up with the clock radio. Now comes the crucial (albeit a bit sneaky) part: Start moving the clock forward by five-minute increments each morning (5:05, 5:10, 5:15). Remember, once the music is on, come right in and pick her up. Over
the course of 10 to 12 days, you should be able to move her waking to 6 a.m., or very close to it. There is a limit to this method. Most parents I have worked with were able to move their baby’s wake-up time by 45 to 60 minutes. Don’t try to stretch your daughter’s wake-up to 8 a.m., as lovely as that sounds. Finally, I wonder if part of your intense fatigue is your reaction to the change from daylight saving time. A lot more people than realize it suffer from varying degrees of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) when the amount of sunlight they get each day suddenly drops by an hour: low energy, abnormal fatigue, feeling down, all the way to fullblown depression. The symptoms often get worse as the days gets shorter, but lift in early spring. The traditional Jewish remedy might seem to be the eight candlelit nights of Chanukah, but it turns out you need a lot more candle units than that (10,000 lux, to be precise) to treat SAD effectively. There are many highintensity lamps available on the market; do an online search for “SAD lamp.” Get a simple one for your breakfast table and sit close to it when you eat your cereal. People vary a lot in how much light they need. I discovered about 20 years ago that I need 20 to 25 minutes in the morning so I don’t feel like I am ready for bed at 7:15 p.m. Experiment to see how much you need. You should feel the difference very quickly, in one to three days. Between the clock radio and a SAD lamp, I hope you soon see your way to more sleep and more pep.
Writing the Memoir: A Creative Non-Fiction Workshop with Rebecca Spence In this five-week workshop, we’ll cut through the layers of self-doubt and unearth the real stories waiting to be told. Weekly sessions include writing exercises designed to free up the creative imagination, as well as discussion time for sharing our works-in-progress. All levels welcome. When: Jan. 17 - Feb. 21, Class meets five Tuesdays, 7-9:30 p.m. Where: Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley (BART accessible) Cost: $195 • To reserve your spot: email firstname.lastname@example.org www.rebeccaspence.com Rebecca Spence is an award-winning writer and journalist. The former West Coast correspondent for the Forward, she has written for Elle, ARTnews, and New York Magazine, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College.
“Rebecca has helped me push past boundaries and write more vulnerably and bravely than I would have thought possible.” – Wendy Edelstein, Workshop Participant
Rachel Biale, MSW, is a Berkeley-based parenting consultant who has been working with parents of very young children for more than 25 years. Send questions through her Facebook page: Parenting Counseling by Rachel Biale or via email@example.com.
“A creative and inspiring space that allowed me to explore my inner voice. What an incredible workshop!” – Cecile Baird, Workshop Participant
| January 6, 2012
edit Year of Civil Discourse a role model for respectful dialogue Israel and Middle East politics seem to stir the passions like few topics, often to the point of full-blown acrimony. The divide between Jews who ardently defend Israel and those who condemn it has never been wider. For that reason, in December 2010 the Jewish Community Relations Council launched the Year of Civil Discourse, which recently wrapped an ambitious 12-month pilot program. As our cover story this week indicates, the program succeeded in many ways. The Year of Civil Discourse brought together rabbis from across the denominational and political spectrum, Jewish community professionals and congregants from area synagogues to develop skills for engaging in respectful dialogue, even when the subject matter triggers intense polarization. It was never the intention to have participants alter or water down their political views. That never could have worked. Yet by showing a willingness to listen, participants managed to build bridges across that political gulf where none seemed possible before. There are important lessons here. For one, thanks to the Year of Civil Discourse, Jewish communities now have a road map to navigate the rough terrain of the Israel-Palestinian debate. This matters, because American Jews can ill afford the deep schism this debate had begun to open. True, we do not, and should not, march in lockstep. But our community is stronger when we understand and respect each other, and we can do so only when we speak civilly to one another instead of resorting to shouting and insults. It matters also because within Israel, especially recently, the debate over key domestic issues has grown exceptionally heated. The latest furor over Haredi harassment of women and girls — in which women were assaulted on public buses and an Orthodox girl was called a whore for not dressing modestly enough — shows Israelis, too, have much to learn about civil discourse. Perhaps they might take a page from the Bay Area’s new playbook. We salute the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and Walter and Elyse Haas Fund for subsidizing the program, and the JCRC, Northern California Board of Rabbis and S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation for putting it together. There is more work to be done. Workshop participants volunteered, showing their willingness to engage. Now organizers must reach out to those who may not feel so eager for dialogue. It won’t be easy, but we have to make the effort. ■
letters Rule of law rules I fully condemn the vandalism directed against the home of Rabbi Michael Lerner in Berkeley. I normally vehemently disagree with the statements that I read from Rabbi Lerner, but I also vehemently defend his right not only to make those statements but also to enjoy the protection of the law, which must be common to us all. Anyone who would commit or sympathize with such acts should consider the importance that Jewish tradition based on the Torah gives to the rule of law. The seven Noahide laws which apply to all nations include maintaining a justice system. We can disagree with each other and strongly express opposing opinions. However, we should be guided by the Torah in understanding the limits of the permissible. Steve Astrachan
Tolerating the thugs Your Dec.16 editorial (“Israel needs to halt the thuggery perpetrated by extremist settlers”) is critical of the “lawless, racist bandits” and your ire is “not directed at all Jews who live across the Green Line.” However, the settler communities in the West Bank are complicit with this lawlessness and racism because they shield and tolerate the thugs. The politicians and police are also complicit, since they have not prosecuted or even condemned the violence perpetrated on the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank. Uprooting olive groves, desecrating mosques, killing herds and shooting at unarmed locals have gone on for years without any serious consequence or even investigation. Many Israelis see Palestinians as occupiers of a historically Jewish homeland and are willing to see them driven off using any means at their disposal. Tolerating terrorism within their community is as much a crime as committing it. Not reporting terrorist acts, not insisting on arrests and trials for the perpetrators is an endorsement of the acts.
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Yes, as you note, the military and police can capture and prosecute the thugs, but the communities that include and tolerate the terrorists have an obligation to live up to Jewish and democratic ideals and take responsibility for the acts of those who live among them. Saul Rockman
Anti-Israel N.Y. Times? The Israeli officials are completely correct (“Israeli officials escalate the war of words with N.Y. Times,” Dec. 23). The New York Times harbors a strong anti-Israel bias. Their favorite technique is to use a Jew as a mouthpiece for antiIsraeli propaganda. Roger Cohen and Thomas Friedman are happy to cooperate with the rest of the op-ed staff that can never find anything good to say about the Jewish State or its policies. Mike Spinrad
J Street’s true mission Several letters in your Dec. 16 edition misrepresent what J Street is about. J Street’s mission is to lobby for a viable Jewish future for Israel through the two-state solution of the ArabIsraeli dispute. Without this solution, the Palestinians living in the unitary state will soon be a majority, they will unavoidably LETTERS, 16 ■■■
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opinions In the name of peace, ‘Chad Gadya machine’ must stop “Chad Gadya” — that old Aramaic fable sung at the end of the Passover seder — is often associated with a sense of relief that the long evening is finally over. It also helps that it comes after four glasses of wine. The playful ditty traces a cascade of events beginning with a baby goat being devoured by a cat. Each verse adds a link to the chain reaction; a dog comes and bites the cat, a stick beats the dog, fire burns the stick, water puts out the fire … and on it goes. Each successive verse gets longer until the fable ends in a final karmic stroke; God kills the Death Angel. It’s part morality play, part Rube Goldberg device. It’s also a great metaphor, making its appearance in a painful contemporary poem by Yehuda Amichai: An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion and on the opposite mountain I am searching for my little boy. An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father both in their temporary failure. Our voices meet above the Sultan’s Pool in the valley between us. Neither of us wants the boy or the goat To get caught in the wheels Of the terrible “Had Gadya” machine … Amichai’s metaphor — the terrible Chad Gadya Dr. Michael Cooper lives in Lafayette. He graduated from Tel Aviv University Medical School and is a clinical professor of pediatric cardiology at UCSF Medical Center. He wrote “Foxes in the Vineyard,” a work of historical fiction set in 1948 Palestine.
apa images/rex features
An Israeli border officer confronts a Palestinian man after he reportedly tried to disrupt repairs being made to a security barrier in the West Bank last month.
machine — is pitch-perfect for the Arab-Israeli conflict, with violence generated and regenerated by self-righteous rage, desperation and vengeance. The workings of this infernal machine were brought home to me toward the end of a recent medical mission to a hospital in east Jerusalem. A graduate of Tel Aviv University Medical School, I am now a pediatric cardiologist in the Bay Area, returning to Israel a few times each year to do volunteer work in the occupied territories. I come to help because, due to travel restrictions, pediatric specialty care is relatively unavailable to Palestinian children. After a day of heart surgery in east Jerusalem, I went to a west Jerusalem hospital to be with my cousin and his family after the birth of his second grandchild. After admiring the new baby and sharing a dinner of two large
vegetarian pizzas, I said goodbye and left. Passing through the hospital lobby, I stopped to read a large poster depicting the former medical director of the emergency department, Dr. David Appelbaum. On Sept. 9, 2003, Dr. Appelbaum was one of seven people killed in a suicide bombing at a café in Jerusalem. Among the dead was his daughter, Nava. They had gone to the café for a father and daughter talk before Nava’s wedding, which was to have taken place the next day. Before the burial, her fiancé placed her wedding ring on the cloth covering her shroud. And the terrible Chad Gadya machine grinds on … The very next day, back at the east Jerusalem hospital, I was called to the pediatric intensive care unit to evaluate a quadriplegic 4-year-old Arab girl a month after she was STOP, 16
It’s smart, not sleazy, to put money where your heart is Guess what I found out? Campaign donations are crucial to spreading the pro-Israel message. No, I wasn’t reading Tom Friedman in the New York Times. I was reading the Web page of NORPAC, the pro-Israel political action committee in northern New Jersey. According to NORPAC: “Funding is often of critical importance to the ultimate success of a candidate’s campaign.” NORPAC regularly hosts fundraisers for politicians. In December alone, there were events for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (DNev.). Of course, NORPAC doesn’t merely raise campaign donations. Its other roles include “educating candidates on important issues, connecting like-minded members of Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. He blogs at www.njjewishnews.com/justASC.
Congress on a particular project, and simply assuring that a public position taken is appreciated within our community.” But let’s face it — nothing says “thank you” like a nice check. We do ourselves no favors pretending otherwise. Let me say at this point that I agree with the many Jewish groups and individuals who objected to Friedman’s column asserting that congressional support for Israel is “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” In the middle of a typical (for him) column on troublesome anti-democratic trends in Israel, Friedman waded right into Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer territory, parroting the two academic obsessives who insist that Congress is blindly loyal to Israel because of the money and influence of the “Israel lobby.” Indeed, Walt welcomed Friedman into the fold, in a blog post charging that “politicians are ignoring the will of the people [on Israel] because a well-organized minority (comprised of some but not all American Jews and some but not all Christian evangelicals) is making its support conditional on support for its hardline views.” As many have pointed out, the phrase “bought and paid for” dredges up a host of anti-Semitic connota-
tions, while hinting that America is working against its own, and Israel’s, interests at the whims of a powerful minority. Friedman, who is Jewish, later admitted he misfired; indeed, while he is often critical of Israel, it is from a solid Left-Labor perspective any Israeli would recognize. I’m guessing that’s what worried his critics, even beyond the odiousness of the phrase. Friedman may be tough on Israel, but at least he spoke within the pro-Israel spectrum. With “bought and paid for,” he jumped the shark. There are other signs that the notion of an all-powerful “Israel lobby” is crossing over from the fringe to the GIVE, 16 ■■■
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| January 6, 2012
Stop the machine of rage from 15 paralyzed by a gunshot wound to the neck. Asil Arara had been playing in a field near her home in Anata, not far from the separation wall and the Israeli settlement of Anatot on Oct. 25, 2011. The Palestinian village of Anata has experienced escalating violence; about a month before Asil was shot, men and women of the village were beaten by Israeli settlers with clubs and pistol butts when they attempted to cultivate their land. And now this — a quadriplegic 4-year-old girl who will require complete and total care every day of her life. The tragedies of Dr. Appelbaum, his daughter, and Asil underscore the devastating workings of the Chad Gadya machine on both sides — the grinding machinery of an occupation that many Israelis believe must end. This is not a leftist or defeatist position. This is a practical position — one that’s been promoted by such committed Zionists as David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, Ami Ayalon and Avraham Shalom. Ayalon and Shalom are both former directors of the Israeli security service, the Shin Bet. These men and thousands of Israelis like them see that it’s impossible for Israeli democracy to survive while trying to ingest and administer the occupied territories. To quote Shalom, “We must once and for all admit there is another side, that it has feelings, that it is suffering and that we are behaving disgracefully ... this entire behavior is the result of the occupation.” Isn’t it time to stop the terrible Chad Gadya machine? Isn’t it time for peace? ■■■
Give, but don’t apologize from 15 mainstream. In an essay for Foreign Policy, David Rothkopf posits “The 14 biggest lies of 2011.” Here’s number 14: “I love Israel.” According to Rothkopf, “Everybody in U.S. politics says it. Most of those who say it however, mean, ‘I want American Jews to think I love Israel enough to vote for me and give me money.’ ” Like Friedman, Rothkopf touches on a truth: Politicians court pro-Israel donors. It is also true, as Rothkopf writes, that politicians sometimes overstate their degree of support, especially when it comes to things like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. But there is little evidence that U.S. politicians are insincere in their support for Israel, or that U.S. policy on Israel would turn on a dime if not for Jewish money. As JTA’s Ron Kampeas points out, not only is Congress inclined to support Israel even without the influence of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups, but the pro-Israel lobby has occasionally lost influence over legislators who actually are more hawkish on Israel than some Jewish groups. The truth is, the pro-Israel lobby is successful not just because Jews are enthusiastic campaign contributors (which they are), but because U.S. voters are inclined to take Israel’s side in most disputes — and for good reason. AIPAC harnesses this goodwill across party lines. The wide support that Israel enjoys should not be taken for granted. That’s where money comes in. One of the singular accomplishments of the Jewish community over the past half-century was building an influential national constituency on behalf of our own interests as a minority. Elderly Jews still remember an era when Jewish leaders were powerless to stop the annihilation of a vast Jewish community. The right response to Friedman is to remind readers of the popularity of Israel and all that it shares with the United States as a Western democracy. We should assert our right to engage legally and effectively in influencing Washington. And we should celebrate the diversity of views within the Jewish community. Critics of the “Israel lobby” like to portray support for Israeli policies as monolithic. We can counter this by pointing out and welcoming the range of pro-Israel views. The wrong response is to deny the effectiveness of — or need for — organized pro-Israel donors. NORPAC does just that, in a letter it wrote to the New York Times and distributed to supporters. “Support for the Jewish homeland speaks to the heart of the American people and their representatives,” they write. “It’s not the money, stupid, it’s the issue.” But it’s a little bit about the money — otherwise, why would we need proIsrael PACs? We need not apologize for the influence we have gained using the tools available to us and to any group that would care to pick them up. ■■■
from 14 win their civil rights and the unitary state in its entirety will become Palestine. J Street works for Israel’s truest interests and deserves the support of the Jewish community. ■■■
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
A call for re-education Jacob Lewis (“Cal Jewish groups right to deny J Street U admission,” Dec. 23) defends the JSU by arguing that democracy was protected by their rejection of J Street U “because the group’s request for admission was an attempt by a small group of students to unfairly represent their marginal agenda.” Huh? Democracy means including a multitude of voices and views, not banning those with whom you disagree. If J Street U is, in fact, “a small group,” then they will be out-voted by the majority. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. I urge Mr. Lewis and his peers to reconsider and to take a political science course. Diane Wolf
Cowardly, stupid or both? Tom Friedman’s hateful, malicious and defamatory comments regarding Congress and the “Israel lobby” (“Israeli officials escalate the war of words with N.Y. Times,” Dec. 23) represent exactly how Obama feels: Friedman is Obama’s champion, buddy and — even worse — one of his Middle East advisers (“Obama to Reform Jews: Israel support ‘is a fact,’ ” Dec. 23). Accordingly, Friedman’s attacks should be grouped with the wretchedly anti-Israel remarks made in the last few weeks by Panetta, Clinton and Ambassador Gutman. Nevertheless, Obama has no trouble asking the same “Israel lobby” for support. Stunningly, most of these folks (and I am not referring to J Streeters and others who work against Israel) — still, after four years of hostility to Israel — are giving it to him. What kind of people are we? Is it cowardice, abject stupidity, or both?
Many thanks to Sue Fishkoff for her column (“My family tree is loaded with tinsel,” Dec. 16). As Sue made so clear, relationships and families are complicated … get over it. With so many Jews marrying non-Jews, family events, holidays, practices and beliefs aren’t simple. At the end of the day, I really hope that we can focus more on mutual understanding, respect, compassion and love among those of different faiths — in a way that we are secure in our identities, beliefs and practices yet open to treating others as we wish to be treated. I am a daily Mass kind of Catholic, married to an active and engaged Jew. I happily belong to Temple Beth Am in Los Altos and am also an engaged member of the Catholic community at Stanford. I’m pleased and proud to say that there were more Jesuit priests than rabbis at my son’s bar mitzvah — where no one expressed more joy and kicked up her heels more than my devoutly Irish Catholic mother. Thanks for the column and for understanding the dynamics of today’s interfaith relationships. As my wife and I always say: “It’s all about the love … the rest are details.” Thomas G. Plante
Rambler’s secret weapon
Thank you, Sue Fishkoff, for opening the window a little wider on the phenomenon of intermarriage (“My family tree is loaded with tinsel,” Dec. 16). It has been with us a long time but many people felt it that it has to be swept under the rug. Even today too many try to shame those who marry outside the faith. Whatever faith. Some are afraid that Judaism will be so watered down that it will die. Over many centuries, we have shown that this is not so. To the dismay of some, Jews will not disappear. Thank you for bringing us more light during this season of Festival of Lights.
I was delighted to read in Edmon Rodman’s article (“License to Kvell,” Dec. 23) that Sol Weinstein’s parodies of Ian Fleming’s 007, reincarnated as the Jewish secret agent Israel Bond, are being reprinted. These satires were incredibly funny, especially to a young naive Jewish college student (me) who was taken up with the whole James Bond shtick of that era. But I fear that some of the original humor may prove a bit opaque to younger folks. For example, in “Loxfinger” I recall that Oy-Oy-Seven was given instructions to drive up from New York City to a big Catskills resort (e.g., Grossinger’s; long gone from the former “Hebrew Himalayas”). He could have made the trip in under 90 minutes if he rented a powerful Rocket 88 (Oldsmobile: also vanished), but instead chose a slow, underpowered and nebbishy Rambler (American Motors: also long gone). Why? Because the Rambler had one well-advertised feature that Olds lacked: a front seat could tilt back to form a bed, thereby assisting our hero’s romances with any grateful lady-in-distress he rescues from the roadside by fixing her flat tire (no cellphones, bucket seats or steelbelted radials in those days, either).
Light on intermarriage
Book connects threads of spiritual meaning in fabric arts emma silvers
In 2001, Arna Shefrin took a leave from her academic work running clinical research trials because of a repetitive-strain injury. Following instructions to stay away from the computer for a while, the Menlo Park resident set about finding other ways to keep her hands busy. Ten years later, her needlepoint work is celebrated for its rich use of color and attention to detail. Her crafts are on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and her products — many of them Jewish ritual objects — are
Tallit bag by Arna Shefrin depicts Jerusalem
sold at the Palo Alto Art Center and several stores. “I always loved working with my hands,” says Shefrin. “But needlepoint really opened the door for me to a whole world of creativity.” Shefrin is one of a handful of Bay Area women featured in “Jewish Threads: A Hands-On Guide to Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish Fabric Crafts.” The 266page book, by Diana Drew with Robert Grayson, is the result of an international call for submissions of Jewish fabric work. It includes instructions and color photos showing elaborate quilts, wall hangings, chuppahs, handstitched matzah covers, woven tallit bags and more. Drew spent more than a year choosing from a range of projects from the U.S. and Israel, focusing on work that fit the book’s theme of exploring the ways artisans imbue their work with spirituality. At the heart of the book lie the artists’ stories: how they came to fabric crafts, what the medium has come to mean to them, and the intersections among their art, community and Jewish identity. One of those stories is from the Quilting Group with No Name, a six-member collective based in Berkeley. The women come together for projects ranging from a chuppah (for one member’s daughter’s wedding) to a tallit (for another member’s daughter’s bat mitzvah) to numerous quilts, many of which they donate to Jewish nonprofits to be raffled off in fundraisers. Most of the members belong to Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley.
They take particular pride in two quilts they made as a memorial project. Shalva Sorani, a fellow Netivot Shalom member, died in 2005, leaving behind two young daughters. Her friends gathered her clothing with the intention of making something for her children, but didn’t follow through. About a year later, one friend dropped off the bag full of clothes with the quilting group. The Quilting Group with No Name made two quilts Some of the group members had known in memory of an Oakland woman who died. Sorani, though none knew her well. They were overwhelmed by the importance on something, I want it to be meaningful.” Shefrin says that, though she doesn’t belong to a formal of what they were trying to create. Eventually, the group decided to make group, even going it alone as an artisan has brought her two quilts, one for each of her daugh- closer to others. After she created an incredibly detailed ters, that were similar but not identical. tallit bag for her husband, the artist says other people at They talked to Sorani’s mother, and her synagogue, Palo Alto’s Congregation Kol Emeth, learned that each night when Sorani began reaching out. “People would see him carrying it and say, ‘Who made put the girls to bed, she would sing Shlomo Carlebach’s “Angel Song.” your bag?” recounts Shefrin. “And we had been members They embroidered the Hebrew lyrics a long time by that point, but I really hadn’t met many people. So that was wonderful, that it became a way for me in a circle on the edges of each quilt. After months of work, they present- to meet members.” The artist added that, as the book came together, it was ed the quilts to the girls in a heartfelt ceremony, with music and food and interesting to see how many women came from profesthose closest to Sorani all in atten- sional backgrounds and had stumbled upon fabric crafts as a different outlet for their creative energy. Shefrin went dance. “It’s about the connections we make, to hiddur mitzvah [the beautification of the mitzvah], and to each other,” says Rivka Greenberg, a founding member of the quilting group. “The way we work with each other, we have to give and take. We research things, discuss what we might do, let an idea percolate for a while and then come back to it. It’s incredibly supportive.” Member Claire Sherman also contributed three other individual pieces to the book: a wall hanging for Sukkot, a baby quilt and afikomen envelopes for Passover. Sherman, who worked as a sculptor for many years before picking up quilting six years ago, says she particularly enjoys making baby quilts. “I like putting the baby’s name on it both in Hebrew and English,” she explains. She knew she was beginning to take quilting seriously when, a few years ago, she bought a beautiful fabric with Hebrew letters on it for a baby quilt, even though no one she knew was pregnant. Luckily, she says, “I was on the rabbi search committee at Netivot Shalom. In the next few months we hired Menachem Creditor, and his wife happened to be eight months pregnant at the time.” The rabbi’s daughter was the lucky recipient of Sherman’s next quilt. For Shefrin, there’s something beautiful about using Baby quilt by Claire Sherman needlepoint to create attractive and useful objects such as kippahs and tallit bags. “Much of the time when you think back to work after her injury healed, but she’s also taking ‘needlepoint,’ it’s just proverbs, a bowl of fruit, something classes in textile design and clothing construction. She that you frame,” she says. “If I’m going to spend 400 hours credits needlepoint with having opened her eyes to a host of new passions. “Many of these women are very well-respected academ“Jewish Threads: A Hands-On Guide ics and professionals, so these crafts are by no means a fallto Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish back — it’s an important part of our lives,” she says. “We’re Fabric Crafts” by Diana Drew with Robert Grayson part of a very longstanding Jewish tradition. It’s a beauti(266 pages, Jewish Lights Publishing, $19.99) ful thing.” ■
| January 6, 2012
the arts Stieg Larsson’s other calling: crusader against neo-Nazis naomi pfefferman
shared with Larsson, was soft-spoken and straightforward during a phone interview. “What you see in the first Millennium Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author of the book is what a Nazi past does to a famiinternational best-selling “Millennium” ly, and to its family members: the kind of series, died in 2004 at age 50 of a heart structures that are built up, based on attack, before the publication of his who has the power,” she said. crime thrillers made him one of the Blomkvist and Salander discover a most famous writers of the decade. They mysterious list of names the teenager have sold tens of millions of copies wrote in her journal. When they figure worldwide, spawned three Swedish films out that the names refer to Jewish vicand now Hollywood’s “The Girl with the tims, they are on the path of a Nazi seriDragon Tattoo.” al killer. But amid all this “Stieg industry,” as “It was a natural thing for Stieg to the late author’s life partner, Eva make them Jewish,” Gabrielsson said. Gabrielsson, put it, a crucial element “This is a killer who is acting for politoften has been overlooked: just how ical reasons, within the Nazi ideology, much Larsson embedded in his novels a so he is actually committing political fundamental passion of his life — his murders. … The first book shows the crusade against neo-Nazism and violent effects of an ideology on a family and far-right movements, which he viewed its women.” as anathema to Sweden and to all modIn a way, she said, Larsson was comern society. menting on current events: “It took all of “Those who see Stieg solely as an the 1980s and ’90s until the Swedish author of crime fiction have never truly photo | ap/sony/columbia pictures/merrick morton police, prosecutors and politicians known him,” Gabrielsson writes in her Rooney Mara (left) and Yorick van Wageningen in a scene from “The Girl understood that the extreme right wing 2011 memoir, “‘There Are Things I with the Dragon Tattoo” here were not criminals in the ‘normal’ Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson sense, but were committing criminal acts and Me.” which includes “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The The Millennium trilogy “is an allegory of the individ- Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the because of a political ideology,” she said. In 1991, Larsson published “Right Wing Extremism” ual’s eternal fight for justice and morality, the values for Hornet’s Nest.” which Stieg Larsson fought until the day he died,” Marie“Tattoo,” still playing in several Bay Area theaters, intro- with Anna-Lena Lodenius, an overview on the subject, Francoise Colombani wrote in the foreword to duces the odd duo of Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading jour- Gabrielsson said. He was already an expert on each group’s Gabrielsson’s book. nalist and co-founder of a magazine called Millennium, political affiliations, the members’ accomplices, milieus An abiding part of Larsson’s mission was researching and Lisbeth Salander, a pierced, punk, antisocial comput- they frequented and how the then-flourishing whiteand exposing Sweden’s Nazi past and, more urgently, the er hacker, who team up to solve a decades-old mystery power music industry financed extremist groups throughout the world. resurgence of violent racist groups in Scandinavia in the involving the disappearance of a teenage girl. Why did Larsson persevere with his work, despite the 1980s and ’90s, during which time Larsson wrote for the Her uncle, industrialist Henrik Vanger, hires Blomkvist anti-racist British magazine Searchlight and, in 1995, co- to find his niece, revealing early on that his family has danger? “I trace it back to something personal,” Gabrielsson founded a Swedish equivalent, Expo. For those efforts, plenty of racist skeletons in the closet. One of them is Larsson and Gabrielsson — an activist in her own right — Henrik’s brother, Richard, “a fanatical nationalist and anti- said. Larsson’s beloved maternal grandfather, Severin, who received death threats and bullets in the mail. Semite … [who] joined the Swedish National Socialist had helped raise Stieg, was an anti-Nazi activist who had “Stieg was absolutely the real deal — he was an expert on Freedom League, one of the first Nazi groups in Sweden.” been imprisoned in a little-known concentration camp in the neo-Nazi movement in Europe, and particularly in Spoiler alert: There’s also a serial killer whose targets turn northern Sweden, set up to appease the Nazis. “The stories of these prisoners until recently have been Scandinavia,” said Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti- out to have been Jewish women. In “The Girl Who Played Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “We relied on with Fire,” the chief villain is not only a sex-trafficker but wrapped up in a blanket of silence,” Gabrielsson said. “It his information in terms of tracking the movement in also a Jew-hater, who uses as his alias the name of a wasn’t until five or six years ago that a film was made Europe — its growth, activism and various players. And we Swedish Nazi, Karl Axel Bodin — a real historical figure about these camps, and afterward researchers began to often shared information on the overlap between the neo- who traveled to occupied Norway during the war to join explore Sweden’s true past during the second world war. For Stieg, his work was the defense of the man who Nazi movement in Europe and the United States.” the Waffen SS. Nazis and anti-Semites lurk throughout Larsson’s trilogy, Gabrielsson, reached at the Stockholm apartment she brought him up.” l.a. jewish journal
Beastie Boys to join Rock Hall of Fame The Beastie Boys — the pioneering hiphop group made up of Mike D (Michael Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Ad-
Rock (Adam Horowitz) — are going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group will be among the class of 2012 that includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan and Guns N’ Roses.
The Beastie Boys, creators of hits such as “Fight for Your Right (To Party),” “No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn” and “Sabotage,” have released 12 albums that have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. The ceremony will be held in April at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland. — jta
Chai Five goes klez in Redwood City The Peninsula-based group Chai Five, with vocalist Emily Pelc, will perform a smorgasbord of Jewish music 8:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Angelica’s Bistro in Redwood City. The performance, presented by Redwood Symphony, will in-clude a mix of modern klezmer, Ladino and Eastern European .
| the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Je w i s h f o l k songs, and theatre music by both German composer Kurt We i l l a n d Abraham Goldfaden, often called the father of modern Jewish theatre. Tickets are Emily Pelc $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Angelica’s Bistro is located at 863 Main St., Redwood City. For more information call (650 365-3226 or visit www.angelicasbistro.com. ■
Jewish flavors enhance an American favorite: the beloved meat loaf Meat loaf. Do those words conjure up any fond memories of a well-loved recipe? For many folks, meat loaf is family food, and not something special for company or a Shabbat dinner. But meat loaf is so good that it deserves a chance to shine. Here are two untraditional meat loaf recipes based on some traditional Jewish flavors. The Stuffed Cabbage Meat Loaf started with memories of my Ashkenazi
grandmother’s meat loaf and her stuffed cabbage. In her honor, the meat loaf has a hard-boiled egg core, a cabbage wrapping, and a sweet and sour tomato sauce to top it off. This is a good recipe to include low-fat ground beef, since the cabbage keeps the meat loaf moist. The Spanish Olive Meat Loaf features Sephardic seasonings and pimentostuffed olives.
Stuffed Cabbage Meat Loaf Serves 6-8
6 large, green cabbage leaves oil spray 11⁄4 lbs. ground beef 1 cup matzah meal 1 egg, beaten 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
⁄2 2 1 ⁄4 1 ⁄4 1 ⁄8 1 ⁄8 2 1
cup finely chopped onions tsp. minced garlic tsp. salt tsp. ground black pepper tsp. ground dried oregano tsp. paprika hard-boiled eggs, shelled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Immerse leaves in pot of boiling water, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes until the leaves are pliable. Drain. Spray large baking dish with the oil spray. Place 2 largest cabbage leaves stem end to stem end in the center of the baking dish. Set aside. Combine meat, matzah meal, beaten egg, tomatoes with liquid, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and paprika. Mound half into an 8x4-inch loaf shape in the middle of the 2 cabbage leaves. Press hard-boiled eggs into loaf end to end. Mound remaining meat on top. Drape 2-3 cabbage leaves over top of meat loaf, filling in gaps with remaining leaves. Fold up cabbage leaves from underneath to enclose. Spray top with oil spray. Bake, spraying cabbage with oil if it begins to dry out or get too brown, for 11⁄2 to 3 1 ⁄4 hours, until firm to the touch and cooked through. Let sit 20 minutes before serving. Serve with sauce (below). Sweet and Sour Sauce: Plump 1⁄2 cup raisins in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain. In a small pan, combine raisins with 15 oz. can tomato sauce, 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 1⁄4 tsp. dried ground ginger, 1⁄8 tsp. salt, 1⁄8 tsp. ground black pepper and 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Taste, adding sugar or vinegar as needed.
Spanish Olive Meat Loaf Serves 6
2 Tbs. oil plus additional for greasing pan 1 ⁄2 cup chopped red onion 4 tsp. minced garlic 2 cups chopped kale or chard 1 ⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes 1 tsp. smoked paprika 1 ⁄4 tsp. ground cumin 1 ⁄4 tsp. salt
⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper 1 lb. ground beef 2 Tbs. tomato paste 2 eggs, beaten 1 ⁄2 cup bread crumbs 10 queen-size, pimentostuffed green olives, cut into fourths 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in pan. Sauté onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add kale, red pepper, paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper. Sauté until cooked. Oil an 81⁄2x41⁄2-inch loaf pan. Combine kale mixture with beef, tomato paste, eggs, bread crumbs and olives. Put into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm to the touch and cooked through. Let sit 20 minutes before serving. Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
| January 6, 2012
The end of rude Did the Year of Civil Discourse make it easier to talk about Israel? dan pine
The Year of Civil Discourse officially ended Dec. 13. So how civil was it? Just ask Dan Magid, a congregant at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. Before his Reform synagogue participated in a civil discourse training sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and other Jewish organizations, the subject of Israel was so contentious, it was essentially “taken off the table,” Magid said. That was a common dynamic across much of the Bay Area Jewish community. Incidents such as the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s 2009 screening of the film “Rachel,” and the subsequent uproar over the booking, exposed an undercurrent of deep division among Bay Area Jews when it came to Israel. This was certainly the case at Magid’s synagogue. “Some years ago we had an event,” Magid said, going on to describe a Beth El panel that included four “refuseniks,” or Israeli soldiers who had refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza. “There were some heated exchanges. We lost members. Then we decided we’re just not going to talk about Israel.” That experience helped spur Beth El congregants to sign up for civil discourse training in 2011. The Year of Civil Discourse was funded by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Jewish Community Endowment Fund and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, and sponsored by the JCRC and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation in partnership with the Northern California Board of Rabbis. The aim of the initiative: to lower the debate on Israel from hard boil to manageable simmer. Close to 1,000 people participated in the various program components, which included a group for rabbis and another to train Jewish professionals. But the heart of it was the grassroots training done at four Bay Area synagogues over the course of 2011. Those four foursynagogues, synagogues,each eachofofwhich which had experihad experienced enced turmoil over Israel-related topics,upsigned upofa at turmoil over Israel-related topics, signed a cohort cohort at least 25 congregants frompolitical across the political least 25of congregants from across the spectrum. spectrum. Pre-program surveys revealed more than 50 percent of those participating felt marginalized in the Jewish community because of their views. Those views ranged from holding Israel responsible for the breakdown of peace talks and demanding an end to Israel’s presence in Palestinian territories, to those who place Israel’s security needs above all else and/or distrust the Palestinians. In that same survey, 47 percent felt unsafe asking ques-
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tions on Israeli-Palestinian subjects in a Jewish institution. Through Project Reconnections, the JCRC program that took the lead on the sessions, congregants engaged in a series of workshops and exercises. Those included facilitated discussions about the conflict, Jewish text study and plenty of old-fashioned, one-on-one dialogue between people who disagreed about Israel. Through the process, participants learned to talk to each other. Or more importantly, they learned to listen. Magid, an ardent Israel supporter, says he and other training program participants can now talk with congregants who hold diametrically opposing views, because
they learned to develop a big-picture attitude. they learned to develop a big-picture attitude. “The community is very important,” Magid said, “and it’s not worth tearing up over these kinds of things. If people have positions I find beyond the pale, that’s OK.” Kendra Froshman, a congregant at San Francisco’s Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, came to the program with a very different set of opinions. She had spent time in the Palestinian territories, where she said she saw “Palestinians suffering under the occupation.” She was initially uneasy about the Year of Civil Discourse because it was sponsored by JCRC, which helped write new federation guidelines for funding Israel-
related programs. Yet she overcame her reservations, and took part. “I feel it’s important as a citizen and a Jew to share the stories and end the occupation,” Froshman said. “I was interested in participating in dialogue at Sha’ar Zahav to build stronger relationships and also so people would get to know a young person who is Jewish and has anti-occupation politics.” For Beth El president Norm Frankel, the monthly civil discourse training he, Magid and 28 other members of their congregation received over half a year proved not only helpful, but transformative. “There were moments in every session with [someone] you had categorized as ill-informed or extremist,” Frankel said, ”and suddenly you’re talking to them, listening to them, finding places you actually agree on, as opposed to only finding them wrong. It was a breakthrough.” Though organizers have more follow-up analysis to do, they agree that the Year of Civil Discourse was a success, so much so that other Jewish communities around the country have inquired about copying the Bay Area model in their own cities. Abby Michelson Porth, the JCRC’s associate director and organizer of the Year of Civil Discourse, shared the project with JCRC’s parent organization, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and she also went to Washington, D.C., to facilitate civil discourse training for colleagues from around the country. “We knew we’d achieve success if individuals said this gave them a sense that the Jewish community was welcoming and inclusive of various ideas,” she said. “In the beginning, we wanted people to have increased knowledge and sensitivity to discuss issues.” According to follow-up surveys, 92 percent of participants reported they achieved exactly that. “The data show [participants] by their own reports were able to engage with people of differing views far better than before,” said Rachel Eryn Kalish, a conflict resolution expert who led all sessions. “When you get underneath the noise and get to core values, people find that their morals and caring are far more in common.” Porth also said that when controversy over Israel exists within a Jewish institution, it’s often because people don’t have the skills to discuss the subject. “The purpose was not to have people check their opinions at the door,” Porth added. “We wanted people to bring their passionately held views into the room, and give them the skills to have meaningful conversations about Israel. There was no political litmus test. The institutions all said they desperately needed this program because things had reached an untenable point.” Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City was a typical
case. The spectrum of political opinion on Israel ranged from the far left to the far right, said Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray, and though tensions rarely resulted in confrontations, the anger did bubble up. “Below the surface, there was a feeling that the community propagated a more right-leaning point of view,” Ezray said. “People who leaned to the left felt they were not listened to; people on the right felt Israel was besieged. A core principal for me as a rabbi is there needed to be a lot more room for people to listen to each other.” Barbara Sommer, 59, is an Atherton physician who has been a Beth Jacob congregant for 15 years. She considers herself strongly pro-Israel, active with AIPAC and other like-minded organizations. Sommer also oversees the Conservative congregation’s Israel Action Committee, which has more than 100 members. She frequently sent to committee members emails, many of them touting Israel and spotlighting its security concerns. Little did she know she was infuriating congregants who took a more critical view toward Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians. “I learned from the rabbi that there was a lot of dissention,” she said, “in that not all ideas were well received. Some found their views were not well-accepted, particularly people who felt Israel is not going in the right direction.” One of those was Miriam Zimmerman, 65, a San Mateo mediator and retired college professor who has participated in Jewish-Muslim dialogue groups and has been critical of some Israeli policies. By participating in the Year of Civil Discourse program, she learned to identify her “triggers,” as Kalish called them. “What really triggers me are negative, judgmental statements about Palestinians that contradict what I know about them,” Zimmerman said. “They don’t all hate us. There are moderates, there are friendships, there are grassroots organizations in Israel that promote peace, composed of both Jews and Palestinians.” She and Sommer were part of the Beth Jacob cohort. Together in the YCD sessions they learned to bridge the emotional gap, if not the political gap, between them. “During the training, I enjoyed being able to articulate a very important perspective: the Palestinian voice,” Zimmerman said. “Going back to the process of our group, maybe there will be a ripple effect as we practice managing our triggers, and not refuting people for their beliefs.” Going into the sessions, participants were warned by the leader, Kalish, that many people take a my-way-orthe-highway approach to arguing about Israel — that a middle ground, for them, does not exist. “I think I may have been one of those people,” said Sommer. “What the [program] did was make me hear another vantage point, while understanding that people with a different point of view may also have great knowledge of the history of Israel. I can talk to them, see their point of view and still be faithful to mine.”
At Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco, Israel had been too hot a topic to handle. Congregation president Karen Schiller pointed to an in-house survey that showed the spectrum ran from AIPAC supporters to those she described as “to the left of Jewish Voice for Peace.” When Sha’ar Zahav Rabbi Camille Angel sent an email to her congregation defending Israel after the March 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, during which nine Turks died, many members pushed back, not wanting their rabbi standing up for Israel. That led to a town hall meeting in July 2010, attended
by more than 60 congregants and moderated by Kalish. At times, the dialogue devolved into blame and invective. That was when Schiller realized her synagogue needed something like the Year of Civil Discourse training. “It’s not that people were at each others’ throats,” she said. “It was that they didn’t feel comfortable. People just weren’t talking. Some members felt the synagogue doesn’t represent [them] because the only things that can be said about Israel-Palestine are the mainstream positions.”
Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray
She and 24 other congregants signed up for the civil discourse training in 2011. Over eight sessions, the cohort engaged in small-group discussion and one-on-one dialogue. In the beginning, Israel was not discussed, but gradually the focus turned to hot-button topics. “The focus was about learning,” Schiller recalled. “People were looking for intense arguments, and what they were getting was civil discourse. We might have disagreed, but I learned it wasn’t so scary to disagree, and you could still like the person and have a great conversation.” Froshman, 30, who came into the program highly crit-
ical of Israel, learned to identify and neutralize triggers that set her off. A big one for her was a phrase like “It’s all the Arabs’ fault.” Meanwhile, at Beth El in Berkeley, Rabbi Yoel Kahn noticed a difference after the cohort completed its training. “My predecessor [Rabbi Ferenc Raj] said the two things we don’t talk about here are God and Israel,” Kahn remembered with a laugh. “There was historically incivility underneath the surface.” Through the YCD workshops, Kahn believes Beth El participants learned to “overcome some of their adrenalin response.” “A few things changed for people,” Kahn said. “One is being open to the possibility that the person I disagree with might have some truth to offer, that I don’t have an exclusive claim on the truth. So it’s a spiritual movement, to a place where one can say, ‘I believe I’m right and I can hear what you have to offer.’ Instead of saying, ‘You are wrong,’ say ‘Tell me more.’ ” Kalish said it’s impossible to have a tug-of-war “if you let go of your end of the rope. Letting go does not mean letting go of your values, your facts, beliefs or that there’s no room for bringing those into the conversation. If you scream ‘You’re an idiot,’ and I say ‘Tell me what it is that makes you feel this way,’ you’re going to run out of steam pretty fast.” Magid still struggles with some of his triggers, especially when other Jews question Israel’s right to exist or call it an apartheid state. But, he added, “After the training, I could talk to [people who espouse those opinions] and express my thoughts.” Frankel said the civil discourse shouldn’t end with the conclusion of the training. He and others began a process of community-based organizing and what he calls a listening campaign to “broaden this experience to engage more people in the process of listening to each other.” He also said the synagogue can now plan Israel-related programming to encourage more in-depth discussions about Israel and the Middle East. At Beth Jacob, Ezray made civil discourse the topic of one of his High Holy Day sermons three months ago. At Sha’ar Zahav, Schiller said cohort members now want to share what they learned, and teach others in the congregation about civil discourse. Moreover, she noted that Israel programming has returned to Sha’ar Zahav, with a panel of congregants having recently discussed members’ varied relationships with Israel. Some of them will undergo further training from the Jewish Dialogue Group, a Philadelphia-based organization that also trains people in leading facilitated discussions on Israel and the Palestinians. “My hope is that out of this we go from having a year of civil discourse to having a community of civil discourse,” Schiller said. “If we come from a place of civility rather than fear and demanding, we can have a good effect.” That’s music to the organizers’ ears. The year may be up, but for Kalish, the quest for civil discourse does not end. Difficult, if not impossible, as it may be to bridge the political gap, she believes people can learn the skills necessary to have constructive dialogue. The alternative, she feels, is much too destructive. “My mantra is ‘I trust Jewish morality,’ ” Kalish said, “and I know if we can keep working on this, we can truly be a model for a world deeply fractured and polarized. It takes some work, but it takes even more work for the clean-up costs.” ■
| January 6, 2012
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Vayechi Genesis 47:28-50:26 I Kings 2:1-12
New year’s resolution: Practice forgiveness and let go of suffering
Elsie Rich, beloved fixture in Sonoma County, dies at 110
I always look forward to the beginning of the new calendar year in January, because it feels like another chance at a fresh start. Falling just a few months after the beginning of our Jewish
Elsie Rich, a beloved member of Sonoma County’s Jewish community who was among the oldest people in the world, died Dec. 29 in Santa Rosa. She was 110 years old. Rich was a founding member of Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa and Petaluma Hadassah, serving as president of the latter for six years. Among her wide circle of friends, she was known for her upbeat personality as well as her physical energy: She exercised vigorously, happily doing headstands and splits well into her 90s, and lived on her own until 106. According to a gerontology research group, Rich was the fourth-oldest Californian, the 23rdoldest American and the 77th-oldest person in the world. Born Elsa Schiffman in Vienna on Aug. 6, 1901, she grew up working in her family’s textile factory. She married Henry Reich in 1932 and the couple left Austria for New York City in 1938. Most of the couple’s family members who stayed behind were killed in the Holocaust. After four years in New York, the couple drove west intending to settle in Los Angeles, stopping to visit friends in Petaluma along the way. Elsie Rich celebrates turning 109 in Instead, they bought a chicken 2010. ranch there, and wound up staying Center in Jerusalem. Four different plaques the rest of their lives. According to friends, Rich loved to at the medical center there bear her name, work; she believed the farm’s demands and her will designates that a significant kept her strong and agile into old age. portion of her estate will be put toward the “When they’d come to San Francisco, maternal and child health unit there. Though Rich had no children, she is suryou’d always see her carrying the suitcases,” Evelyn Gurevitch, one of her oldest vived by a diverse group of friends. According to one of those longtime friends, told j. in August. “She was always very strong, and she also loved to dance. friends, Bob Raful: “What happened is Whenever there was music, she was up and many of her friends, friends of friends, young people, old people — they all dancing.” Following the death of her husband in became her children.” “Knowing Elsie, walking a bit of the way 1976, she lived independently in Santa Rosa into her 100s, shopping for her own with her, has been a blessing as well as a groceries, playing slot machines at a near- privilege,” said another friend, Elisabeth by casino and socializing often — her Van Nuys. “She impressed me, delighted warm smile and sharp wit, intellect and me, even at times astounded me. Not curiosity made her popular with people of because she lived over 110 years, but in how she approached, dealt with and lived all ages. In 2008, she moved to Vintage Brush those years.” Funeral services were held Jan. 3 at Creek in Santa Rosa, an assisted-living Eggen and Lance Chapel in Santa Rosa; facility. “Elsie didn’t grow up in a time or a place burial services followed at Petaluma’s B’nai where girls were supposed to be educated,” Israel Cemetery.
,year, it’s an opportunity to recommit to the goals I set for myself during the Yamim Noraim, our holy days. During the Jewish New Year, we spend a lot of time talking and thinking about the notion of forgiveness. But it is in the Torah portion Vayechi, which is the first parshah of 2012, that the theme of forgiveness is played out in great detail with the end of the story of Joseph. Thus the theme of forgiveness spans both the Jewish and secular new years, providing a wonderful framework for both. The theme of forgiveness is a central part of the Joseph novella, the chapters covering Genesis 37-50. Thematically, it features a riveting story of parental favoritism and sibling rivalry. In previous weeks, we have read about how a pampered, self-centered lad with grand dreams comes to be so despised by his older brothers that they take him and cast him into a pit, only to decide, at the urging of one of the brothers, Judah, to sell him to a wandering band of Ishmaelites heading for Egypt. While Joseph could have spent the rest of his days in Egypt a broken man, cursing his fate, losing his faith in God and never being able to move forward, he instead transforms his circumstances into opportunities by showing concern for his fellow prisoners and displaying his talent for interpreting dreams. Even before he ultimately is reunited with his brothers, Joseph becomes a model of forgiveness by not holding onto bitterness. Because he doesn’t spend his life lamenting or wallowing in his fate, he is able to create a destiny that is greater than his circumstances. The purpose of forgiveness is ultimately about our own well-being. M. Scott Peck writes: “The process of forgiveness — indeed, the chief reason for forgiveness — is selfish. The reason to forgive others is not for their own sake. They are not likely to know that they need to be forgiven. … The reason to forgive is for our own sake. For our own
health.” It is in Vayechi that we come to the pivotal climax of the Joseph story. It is the moment when Joseph’s brothers bare their souls before him. “His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him and said, ‘We are prepared to be your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children.’ Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them” (Genesis 50:18-21). What Joseph’s brothers don’t understand when they come before him is that he has already forgiven them. He could not have led the life he did — as a savior of Egypt — had he given in to the temptation of waiting to exact revenge or to the bitterness of hatred. Rabbi Levi Meier, in his book “Ancient Secrets,” adds to our understanding of this key notion, writing, “If you cannot forgive, act as if you can. Pretend that you have forgiven the people who have wronged you, and extend your hand to them.” Joseph not only extends a hand to his brothers, he promises to protect and care for them. In Mitch Albom’s book “Have a Little Faith,” the author tells the story of a drug addict who transforms himself and becomes a successful minister. The minister talks about the people he left behind and how they could only see who he had been in his darkest moments. They weren’t able to see who he could become or who he is now. The world is full of possibilities when we aren’t held back by our own pasts or by the wrongs we feel we have suffered. The Joseph of Vayechi is a powerful reminder that forgiveness is a key to our own personal salvations and a wonderful tool for starting anew.
Rabbi Jonathan Slater, who for 19 years served at the helm of Congregation Beth Ami — the synagogue Elsie and her husband helped to found in 1943 — said in August. “And yet she went out of her way to learn to read Torah, to open herself up to new ideas, to engage in those conversations.” In her later years, Rich began making contributions to the Haddassah Medical
j. the Jewish news weekly’s deadline for submissions for any given paper is 5 p.m. Friday, one week before publication date. Fo r i n f o r m a t i o n o r a s s i s t a n c e, c a l l (415) 263-7200, ext. 33.
Rabbi David Booth is the spiritual leader at Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. He can be reached at RabbiBooth@kolemeth.org.
| January 6, 2012
obits Rebecca Fromer, Magnes Museum co-founder, dies at 84 dan pine
Oakland hills,” Rosenbaum remembered. “These were people she socialized with. She would say to them they were not truly open Rebecca Camhi Fromer, who co-founded to mixing with African Americans socially. the Judah L. Magnes Museum with her This was during the civil rights movement husband, died Jan. 1 in San Francisco from but before a lot of the social mixing.” complications due to a stroke. The longBorn in New York and raised in Los time Berkeley resident was 84. Angeles, Fromer was deeply proud of her A teacher, poet, playwright and art lover, Sephardic background. She spoke Ladino she could always be counted on to tell the and knew Sephardic culture. She met her truth as she saw it, and expected nothing husband of more than 50 years when he less from those around her. was working in Jewish education in Los “She was a unique character,” said Fred Angeles. In 1953, the couple moved to Rosenbaum, a close friend and the foundOakland. ing director of Lehrhaus Judaica. “Rebecca They founded the Magnes Museum in a was someone very strong in her opinions, $75-a-month loft over Oakland’s Parkway and not shy about expressing them; someTheater. Initially, the Magnes specialized in one who epitomized the expression of Rebecca Camhi Fromer ceremonial art, posters and paintings of ‘speaking truth to power.’ ” Fromer, together with her husband, Seymour Fromer, Jewish themes. The couple expanded the collection by who died in 2009, launched the Magnes in 1962. The two personally rescuing artifacts from endangered Jewish made a striking pair: he the courtly public face of the communities in places such as Czechoslovakia, museum, she the woman whose love of beauty fueled the Morocco, Egypt and India. All told, they collected some 11,000 pieces of Judaica and fine arts, 10,000 rare and couple’s passion for collecting Judaica. That passion found its counterpoint in Fromer’s career other Jewish-themed books, along with papers, photos as an English teacher at Castlemont High School, located and other documents. Much of that material was housed in a tough Oakland neighborhood. She wrote about her in the Magnes’ Western Jewish History Center, which they experiences in her 2007 book, “One Voice, Many Echoes.” helped establish in 1967. That same year, the Magnes “She would really stick it to the white liberals in the moved to an elegant mansion at 2911 Russell St. j. staff
The Fromers lived right next door. “In the early years they worked very closely as a team,” recalled Harold Lindenthal, a longtime friend. “As the years went by, Seymour was the director, but when big decisions had to be made, he would run them by Rebecca.” Fromer earned a master’s degree from San Francisco State University, writing her thesis on the Yiddish author Isaac Bashevis Singer. During and after her teaching years, she turned to writing as her primary creative outlet, including Holocaust histories and biographies, numerous poems and stories. When the work day was done, Fromer kept up her garden, which was one of her passions. Entertaining was another. “Rebecca was a bit of a salon lady,” Rosenbaum said. “She liked to have people over to that beautiful home, people who were artists, musicians and storytellers. That home was a vibrant center, bubbling with life and ideas.” Added Lindenthal, “She had an uncanny eye for beauty. It could manifest in multiple ways: art, literature, music and interior design.” Though growing more infirm in her last years, Fromer never lost her sharp wit, and was scheduled to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Magnes in downtown Berkeley later this month. Rebecca Camhi Fromer is survived by her daughter, Mira Amiras, and two grandchildren. Donations may be made to the Fromer Fund through the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. ■
Yiddish singer, activist Adrienne Cooper dies at 65 Renowned Yiddish singer, teacher, and music curator Adrienne Cooper, an Oakland native lauded worldwide for her interpretations of Yiddish song as well as her ability to transmit that knowledge to the next generation, died Dec. 25 in Manhattan. She was 65. Obituaries in the New York Times, the Forward and other leading publications testify to Cooper’s indelible imprint on the teaching, preservation and performance of Yiddish music.
Cooper’s mother, Buni Cooper, 89, a well-known Bay Area singer of opera, musical theater and Yiddish music, who was Adrienne’s first teacher and performed often with her daughter, said that Zalman Mlotek, artistic director of the New York– based National Yiddish Theatre– Folksbiene, called her at her Danville home with his condolences. “He said, music is not music for me anymore now that Adrienne is gone,” she said. Adrienne Cooper was born Sept. 1, 1946
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in Oakland. The family Cooper collaborated belonged first to Congregwith the leading Yiddish ation Beth Jacob in stars of the day, and perOakland, and then moved formed at New York’s to nearby Congregation Carnegie Hall as well as Beth Abraham. throughout Europe and Cooper graduated from the former Soviet Union. Oakland High School in Mlotek, who performed 1964, and two years later with her for more than 20 left for Israel, where she years, called her one of the earned a bachelor’s degree most significant interfrom Hebrew University preters of Yiddish song in and studied voice at the 50 years. Rubin Academy of Music Cooper had other causes in Jerusalem, said her as well, which she champibrother, Dr. Michael oned through her music Cooper, professor of pedi- Adrienne Cooper and writing: labor activism, atric cardiology at UCSF Medical Center. economic equality, feminism and GLBT In 1970 she moved back to the United rights. Recently, Jews for Racial and States, getting a master’s in history and Economic Justice gave her its Marshall T. starting her Ph.D. at the YIVO Institute for Meyer Risk Taker Award for her contribuJewish Research, but abandoned her dis- tions as a performer to movements for sertation to pursue music full time, accord- social change. ing to her brother. “Adrienne chose not to “She taught students around the world study history; she chose to make history,” that music provided an essential point of he told j. entry into Yiddish culture and that the Cooper moved through prestigious insights of scholars nurture and enrich a positions first as the associate director of musician’s performance,” wrote Jeffrey YIVO, then as co-founder of KlezKamp, Shandler, Jewish studies professor at an annual confab of the world’s premier Rutgers University, in a tribute to Cooper Yiddish musicians and scholars, and that appeared in the Forward. most recently as cultural executive at the Adrienne Cooper was buried in Workmen’s Circle. She was a mentor and Lafayette’s Oakmont Cemetery. She is role model to many upcoming perform- survived by her mother, two brothers, ers and lovers of Yiddish music, including her daughter and her partner, Marilyn her daughter Sarah Gordon, a New York– Lerner. based musician who sang with her moth— j. staff and wire reports er on her last album. ■
deaths Barbara Cerf Baer
Barbara passed away peacefully at home in her sleep on Dec. 26, 2011. She is survived by her beloved husband of 57 years, Monroe, and her loving daughter Leslie and son-in-law Rogers Carrington, and her loving son Larry and daughter-in-law Pam. Grandma will be forever missed by four adoring grandchildren — Alana, Zachary, Jonathan and Joshua. Barbara was born on March 16, 1929 to Laurence Cerf and Pearl Welk Cerf. She lived her entire life in the city she loved. In fact, she lived virtually all her life within a 30-block radius of her most recent home of 36 years. Barbara was a proud graduate of Aragon Elementary School, Presidio Middle School and Lowell High School. She was confirmed at Congregation Emanuel-El. Barbara attended U.C. Berkeley but left school to go to work and support her mother. Her father passed away at age 13. Barbara worked in downtown department stores in San Francisco through the ‘50s. She met Monroe at a party and reacquainted at a downtown Muni bus stop as they both returned from a day at work. Their 57-year marriage featured enjoyable travel as she raised Leslie and Larry,
including frequent summer sojourns to Lake Tahoe and Carmel. Barbara, however, always felt most comfortable “at home” in her wellworn neighborhood of the city. Barbara enjoyed volunteering through the years at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and Sisterhood of Congregation Emanuel-El. Barbara delighted in the joy of her grandchildren, taking them on excursions to lunch and toy shopping downtown or in Laurel Village, as her mother and dear aunt, Hazel Eisenberg, had done so frequently with Leslie and Larry. The family extends its heartfelt appreciation to Dr. James Davis for his extraordinary medical care. Also, deep gratitude to Barbara’s wonderful caregivers including Rosario Rivera and Willie Mae Benson. A memorial service was held at Congregation Emanu-El on Dec. 30, 2011. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Barbara’s name to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, Congregation Emanu-El Sisterhood, or a charity of your choice. Sinai Memorial Chapel Karl M. Blick
Oct. 31, 1915 – Dec. 30, 2011 Born Karl Maximilian Augenblick, in Vienna, Austria, Karl grew up in Lvov, Poland and had one younger brother, Severyn. Karl’s dream was to become an architect, but the war broke out and he was mobililzed for work in Besarabia, Romania. Karl was later sent to
work in Siberia where he spent five years. His family perished in the Holocaust. In 1946, Karl met Zelma Warhaftig in Byttom, Poland in a “kibbutz” seedling. They moved to a Displaced Person’s camp in Saalfelden, Austria, where Karl worked for the U.N. Refugee Agency, creating false travel documents, which allowed a large number of survivors to make their way clandestinely to Palestine. Karl and Selma married there in 1949. Karl and Selma immigrated to Australia and after five years moved to the U.S. They settled in San Francisco, with Selmas’s mother, Rose, in 1954. Karl worked for Gilbert Clark Stationers for 35 years and retired at 80. He was a longtime member of Congregation Ner Tamid and B’nai B’rith. Karl is survived by his wife, Selma, of 62 years of marriage; son Steve (Patricia); daughter Ann (Salek); and granddaughters Danielle and Ilana. Karl will always be remembered for his brilliant smile, his remarkable optimism and the twinkle in his eye. Donations in Karl’s memory
may be made to Congregation Ner Tamid, 1250 Quintara, San Francisco, CA 94116. George B. Good
George B. Good passed away peacefully at the age of 87 on Dec. 17, 2011. He was born in Budapest, Hungary on May 18, 1924. His wife, Renee Good, and family were by his side. He was a Holocaust survivor. He worked at the San Francisco Chronicle for many years. Sinai Memorial Chapel Rebecca Camhi Fromer
Jan. 16, 1927 – Jan. 1, 2012 In San Francisco at age 84. Beloved wife of the late Seymour Fromer; loving mother of Mira Amiras (Erin Vang); adoring grandmother of Michael (Alana) Zussman and Rayna Savrosa (Nick Curley). Rebecca was a writer and poet. She and Seymour were co-founders of the Magnes Museum in Berkeley. Memorial services were held Tuesday, Jan. 3, at Chabad House Berkeley. Donations may be made to the Fromer Fund through the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay. Sinai Memorial Chapel
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| January 6, 2012
art “Bernard Zakheim: Art of Prophetic Justice.” Photo exhibit explores life and work of the Jewish muralist. Opens Jan. 9. Through March 29. “An Exploration of Language and Shapes in Sculpture.” Joyce Steinfeld sculptures inspired by Hebrew letters and Chinese characters. Through Jan. 27. “The Israelis.” Photographic portraits by Mark Tuschman. Through Feb. 2. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. www.paloaltojcc.org. “Black Sabbath.” Studio exhibit on black-Jewish ties in recorded music. Through Feb. 28. “California Dreaming.” Multimedia exhibit
exploring Jewish life in the Bay Area from Gold Rush to present. Through Oct. 16. “Houdini: Art and Magic.” Multimedia exhibit examining Houdini’s life, legend and influence. Through Jan. 16. “Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica.” New perspectives from the S.F.-based architect. Through Oct. 16. At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. www.thecjm.org. “A Dancer’s Scrapbook, 1928-1933.” Pictures of Rose Yasgour, a pioneer of modern dance. Through Feb. 23. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. (415) 567-3327. “Harissa, Honey and Hyssop: The Food of North Africa.” Photography exhibit by Israeli Nelli Sheffer. Through Jan. 30. At
He writes the songs Two-time Emmy winner Charles Fox has composed music for more than 100 films and TV series but is probably best known for his Grammy-winning “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” Fox will discuss his memoir on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon and perform on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.
JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. www.jccsf.org. “Memories.” Digital photo-collage portraits by Israeli Gideon Spiegel.
Through Feb. 29. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. www.marinjcc.org. “Rita Sargen Simon Retrospective, 1924-2005.” Works in steel, bronze, ceramic and Plexiglas. Through Feb. 5. At Jewish Heritage Museum at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living, 4000 Camino Tassajara, Danville. www.rcjl.org. “Scattered Among the Nations.” Photographic exhibit of seven
Jewish communities. Through Jan. 8. At Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. (510) 451-3263. “Spectacles of Devotion.” Barry Shapiro’s photo-collage images
of religious devotion. Through Feb. 29. Art for sale, with a percentage to benefit JCC. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. www.svjcc.org. “Yehudith and the Grandfathers.” Fifteen-part video installa-
tion by mother-daughter artists Carolyn Radlo and Alanna Simone, about Jewish women and the Holocaust. Through Jan. 29. At California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission St., S.F. www.ciis.edu.
Magnes grand opening. Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
presents an open house with music and food. At museum, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley. 12 to 4 p.m. Free. www.magnes.org.
music & saturday
lectures & workshops
“Stories from the Shtetl.” Performance by storytellers Michael Kaye, Ruchama Burrell, Joshua Walters and Heather Gold. At Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. 8:15 p.m. $12-$20. www.chutzpahpresents.tumblr.com.
film & sunday
“The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs.” Documentary presented by the Jewish War Veterans Post 60. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 11 a.m. Free. (650) 223-7187.
“Binah.” Chris Matthews discusses his new book on President John F. Kennedy. On Jan. 19, author Eric Weiner discusses his new book “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.” KALW 91.7 FM. 12 p.m. www.jccsf.org.
“Rabbi Creditor Unplugged.” CD release party for “Within.” At
Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. 11 a.m. Free. (510) 655-1977.
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Giants of Jazz on Film” series. At JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 8 p.m. $12-$25. www.jccsf.org/arts.
“One People Many Voices.” Ilan Vitemberg, associate director of
the Israel Education Initiative, discusses Israel’s diversity. At Congregation Shir Hadash, 20 Cherry Lane, Los Gatos. 9:30 a.m. Free. www.shirhadash.org. “A New Voice for Israel.” J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami dis-
cusses his book. At Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. 10 a.m. Free. www.kolshofar.org. Jewish Coalition for Literacy tutor training. At Jewish
Federation of the Greater East Bay, 300 Grand Ave., Oakland. 10 a.m. Also Jan. 10 at Jewish Community Federation, 121 Steuart St., S.F. 5:45 p.m. Also Jan. 11 at Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. 6 p.m. Free. www.jclread.org. “Philosphers’ Café.” Tri-Valley Cultural Jews present discussion
about cooperation and human nature. At Café Rumi, 4799 Heyer Ave., Castro Valley. 10:45 a.m. $5. (925) 240-5612. “The Delegitimization of Israel.” Talk by Eli Pollak, founder and
North Africa and Arab lands. At Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto. 7:15 p.m. Free. www.kolemeth.org.
for the Union for Reform Judaism summer camps scholarship fund and the American Conference of Cantors. At Temple Emanu-El, 1010 University Ave., San Jose. 7 p.m. $20. www.templesanjose.org.
“Treasures from the Archive.” Screening of “Mark Cantor’s
“The Forgotten Refugees.” Documentary about the Jews of
Chai Five. Klezmer, Ladino and Eastern European Jewish folk songs. At Angelica’s Bistro, 863 Main St., Redwood City. 8:30 p.m. $20-$25. www.angelicasbistro.com.
Charles Fox. Discussing his memoir “Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music.” At Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.kolshofar.org. Also performing Jan. 12 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 7 p.m. $10-$18. www.paloaltojcc.org.
Cantors’ campership concert. Local cantors perform a benefit
“The Infidel.” Tri-Valley Cultural Jews hosts a movie night with a separate movie for children. At private residence, San Ramon. 4 p.m. RSVP to (510) 444-1808.
“Mosaic.” Hosted by Rabbi Eric Weiss. 5 a.m. KPIX-TV Channel 5.
chairman of Israel’s Media Watch. At Congregation Beth Israel, 1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.cbiberkeley.org. “The Arab Lobby.” Mitchell Bard discusses his book. At Congregation
Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto. Free. 9:30 a.m. www.kolemeth.org. Also Jan. 9 at JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP to email@example.com.
Joseph Skibell. Author discusses his new novel, “A Curable Romantic,”
about a Jewish doctor who wanders through late 19th-century European history. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 7 p.m. Free. www.svjcc.org.
“To See If I’m Smiling.” Documentary featuring six Israeli women
Jonathan Medved. Lecture about Israel by the co-founder and CEO
exploring their military service. At Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, S.F. 7 p.m. Free. www.bij.org.
of Vringo. At Fenwick and West, 801 California St., Mountain View. 7:15 p.m. Free. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“World Economic Mega-Trends in the Year 2020.”
Volunteer day at the farm. Congregation Sinai in San Jose hosts
Lecture by David Passig, futurist, academic lecturer and consultant. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 7:30 p.m. $10-$15. www.paloaltojcc.org. Also Jan. 15 at Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos. 11 a.m. Free. RSVP to email@example.com.
a family volunteer day. At Full Circle Farm, 1055 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale. 10 a.m. Free. www.sinai-sj.org.
Jeremy Ben-Ami. J Street founder discusses policies regarding
Meet and greet. Jews’ Next Dor hosts dinner. At Buca di Beppo,
“Positioning for Power: The Tribes of Israel.” Lecture with
643 Emerson St., Palo Alto. 7 p.m. $10. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
breakfast. At Congregation Ner Tamid, 1250 Quintara St., S.F. 9:30 a.m. Free. www.nertamidsf.org.
projects in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. 7:30 a.m. Free. RSVP to email@example.com.
Israel. At Congregation Shir Hadash, 20 Cherry Lane, Los Gatos. 7:30 p.m. Free. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitzvah Day. Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto hosts 25 different service
Yavneh Day School open house. At 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos.
9 a.m. Free. www.yavnehdayschool.org.
Women’s seminar. Daylong event featuring guest speaker Debbie
Greenblatt, Jewish educator and founder of the women’s division of Gateways, and workshops ranging from parenting to Jewish literature. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 9:45 a.m. $30-$40. www.jsn.info.
“A Taste of Melton.” Women’s event with wine, music and fellow-
“Modern Anti-Semitism.” Rabbi Jerry Danzig gives first lecture in
Jongg League card. At Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. 6 p.m. $150. www.mahjonggforeveryone.com.
ship. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP to email@example.com. Mah jongg beginners’ class. Ongoing. Includes National Mah
five-part series. At Congregation Beth Ami, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. 2 p.m. Free. www.bethamisr.org.
“Harvesting Life Wisdom: Empowering Seniors.” Threesession workshop led by therapist Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores. Also Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. At Santa Rosa JFCS, 1360 N. Dutton Ave. #C, Santa Rosa. Also Feb. 8, 15 and 22. At B’nai Israel Center, 740 Western Ave., Petaluma. 10:30 a.m. $60. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. “Israel and the Arab Spring.” Lecture by Michael Nacht, profes-
sor at U.C. Berkeley’s Goldman School. At Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. 7 p.m. Free. www.bethelberkeley.org. Feminist Midrash in America. Taube Center for Jewish Studies
at Stanford presents lecture by poet Alicia Ostriker, 2009 Jewish Book Award recipient. 8 p.m. Free. Tresidder Memorial Union, 459 Lagunita Drive, Stanford. www.stanford.edu.
“Lunatics.” Jewish humor writer Alan Zweibel and author-columnist
Dave Barry discuss their book. At Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F. 6 p.m. $12-$45. www.commonwealthclub.org. Carey Perloff. Artistic director of the American Conservatory Theatre
discusses her new play set in Israel, “Higher.” At JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $10-$25. www.jccsf.org.
Women’s spirituality event. Jewish Community Mikvah of Silicon
Valley presents a program with music and crafts. At JCC Silicon Valley, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 7:30 p.m. Free. email@example.com.
‘Lunatics’ in town
At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 9 a.m. Free. www.paloaltojcc.org.
Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist, and Alan Zweibel, recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and a “Saturday Night Live” alum, will present their new political satire, the book “Lunatics,” on Jan. 19 at the Commonwealth Club.
“Art and Eat.” Congregation Ner Tamid hosts tour of Camille Pissarro
exhibit followed by lunch and lecture. At Legion of Honor, 100-34th Ave., S.F. 10 a.m. Prices vary. RSVP to (415) 661-3383.
Poker night. Sinai Men’s Club presents annual poker fundraiser. At Congregation Sinai, 1532 Willowbrae Ave., San Jose. 7 p.m. $50. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stanford Blood Center drive. At Congregation Sinai,
1531 Willowbrae Ave., San Jose. 9 a.m. Free. www.sinai-sj.org.
Meditation Shabbaton. Shabbat retreat with meditation, silence,
Ballroom dance. Jews’ Next Dor hosts dance party with lesson. At Cheryl Burke Dance, 1400 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 8 p.m. Free. www.cherylburkedance.com.
pets and song, PJ Library stories, Havdallah craft project and more. At Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road, Alameda. 10:30 a.m. Free. RSVP to email@example.com.
Federation in San Francisco hosts. At Glide Memorial Church, 330 Ellis St., S.F. 11 a.m. Free. www.jewishfed.org/yad.
Pajama Havdallah for kids. Storyteller Mimi Greisman with pup-
Hebrew alphabet. At Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. 10 a.m. Free. www.kolshofar.org.
& holiday Torah and Jewish spiritual songs. At Congregation Beth Sholom, 301-14th Ave., S.F. 5 to 9 p.m. $90-$105. Also Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. www.bethsholomsf.org.
Glide volunteer day. Young Adult Division of the Jewish Community
T’enna Preschool open house. Also summer camp sign-up day.
Yoga and Otiyot Chayyot. Meditation and yoga based on the
“Networking: Building Connection and Community.”
Business Leadership Council of the Jewish Community Federation hosts a mix-and-mingle event. At Sens Restaurant, 4 Embarcadero Center, S.F. 5:30 p.m. $36-$60. www.jewishfed.org/blc.
Lake Chabot Marina hike. Jewish hikers club. At Lake Chabot
Marina, 17600 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley. 2 p.m. $1. (408) 817-5686.
Brunch and schmooze. Hosted by Haverim Connection. At Cafe La
Tartine, 830 Middlefield Road, Redwood City. 11:30 a.m. Also Jan. 22 at Michael’s Restaurant, 2960 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 11 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org. North Berkeley neighborhood walk. Jewish hikers club. At
Cedar Rose Park, 1300 Rose St., Berkeley. 1 p.m. $1. (510) 421 2457.
JCC open house. Special events all day and free admission to fitness and aquatics centers, tennis and more. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. Free. www.siliconvalleyjcc.org.
“Abracadabra!” Houdini-inspired storytelling series. At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St, S.F. 7 p.m. $15. www.thecjm.org.
Calendar submissions Send information about your Jewish event in Northern California to email@example.com. The deadline is 12 p.m. Friday the week before any given week’s publication.
| January 6, 2012
Columnist Nate Bloom , an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jjokes The missing husband
Rachel decides to do some post-holiday shopping at the mall and manages to persuade her husband, Howard, to accompany her. After 90 minutes of looking around one women’s clothing store after another, Rachel suddenly realizes that Howard is no longer with her. So she calls him on his Droid to see what’s up. “So, where are you?” she angrily asks Howard. “I thought we were shopping together.” “Don’t get broyges, dear,” Howard replies. “Do you remember that jewelry store by the escalator in the middle of the mall, the one we spent time in before Chanukah and where we saw that lovely gold necklace for you — but it seemed just a bit too expensive right before Christmas, so I said I would get it for you one day when the price came down?” “Yes, of course I do, darling,” replies Rachel, expectantly. “Well, I’m in the café next door having an espresso and a bagel.”
Here’s the list of Jewish nominees for Golden Globe awards. The ceremony will air live on NBC starting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 15. First, the acting categories: best actor, musical or comedy film: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 30 (“50/50”); best supporting actor in a film: Jonah Hill, 28 (“Moneyball”) and Albert Brooks, 64 (“Drive”). Quick aside: Brooks’ wife, and the mother of his two children, is Kimberly Shlain, a Mill Valley native. Best actress, TV drama series: Julianne Margulies, 45 (“The Good Wife”); best actor, TV comedy or musical series: David Duchovny, 51 (“Californication”); best actress, TV mini-series: Evan Rachel Wood, 24 (“Mildred Pierce”). Best director, motion picture: Woody Allen, 76 (“Midnight in Paris”), and Michel Hazanavicius, 44 (“The Artist”). The latter nominee is a French Jew whose grandparents were from Eastern Europe. He’s quite open about his Jewish background and says he worked Jewish references Michel (some character names; some of the music) into Hazanavicius “The Artist,” a nearly 100 percent silent film about a 1920s Hollywood star who struggles with the advent of the talkies. The director’s wife, actress Bérénice Bejo, who co-starred in “The Artist,” is a best supporting actress Globe nominee. I don’t know if she is Jewish. Best screenplay, motion picture: Allen (“Midnight in Paris”), Hazanavicius (“The Artist”), Grant Heslov, 48, co-writer (“The Ides of March”), and Aaron Sorkin, 50, co-writer (“Moneyball”). Best original film score: Howard Shore, 65 (“Hugo”). Best animated film: “Tintin,” directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, 65. In the best motion picture categories (the Globes have two), the awards go to the winning film’s producers, of whom there are usually many. So instead of creating a long list of Jewish nominees, I simply will note films with strong Jewish connections. Best drama film: “Moneyball” (director Bennett Miller, 44; actor Hill, writer Sorkin), and “War Horse” (director Spielberg). Best comedy or musical film: “Midnight in Paris” (director Allen, actors Corey Stoll and Adrien Brody, as Hemingway and Salvador Dali, respectively), and “The Artist” (director Hazanavicius).
© david minkoff
New on the tube “Are You There, Chelsea?” premieres at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 on NBC. It’s based on the bestselling 2008 memoir “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” by comedian–talk show host Chelsea Handler, 36. (Handler, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Mormon mother, was raised Jewish.) The new show’s main character, named Chelsea Newman, is a thinly disguised version of Handler (who intermittently will appear as the main character’s older sister). In the show, Chelsea, a bartender who has a collection of wacky, working-class friends, is played by Laura Prepon, 31 (“That ‘70s Show”). Prepon’s father is Jewish, her mother is not, and while I believe she was raised secular, she now identifies as a Scientologist. “Rob” is a CBS sitcom that launches at 8:30 Chelsea p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. Rob Schneider, 48, stars Handler as a lifelong bachelor who has just married into a tight-knit Mexican-American family. Schneider, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in Pacifica, is the son of a Jewish father and a Filipino Catholic mother. While secular, he identifies as Jewish. The fantasy-mystery series “Alcatraz” has a two-hour premiere on Fox at 8 p.m. Jan. 16. Thereafter, it will air Mondays 9-10 p.m. The premise: A fingerprint at the scene of a grisly murder is that of an Alcatraz inmate who died decades ago. A San Francisco police detective, a federal government agent and an Alcatraz historian team up to sort things out. The series is produced by J.J. Abrams, 45 (“Lost”).
At the movies The top 10 movie rentals over the eight days of Chanukah last month: “Three Men and a Bubbie” “A Few Hood Mensches” “The Cohenheads” “The Rocky Hora Picture Show” “Shalom Alone” “Goyz ’N the Hood” “A Gefilte Fish Called Wanda” “The Wizard of Oys” “Who Framed Roger Rabbi?” These jokes have “Prelude to abeen Bris”e-mailed to us by friends and associates who, for the ■
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most part, have downloaded them. We therefore cannot verify the authorship.