Page 1

22 Tevet, 5774/ Dec. 25, 2013 / Vol. 66, No. 54


ISRAEL ALIVE! Beyond conflict and politics This ongoing Jewish Light special section takes a look at issues in the Jewish State that don’t always make the headlines. — Pages 8-9

FEATURES Leading role This year’s Melvin Newmark Memorial Pages discuss Jews & Theater, with stories from Theater Critic Judy Newmark and Light Editorin-Chief Robert A. Cohn. — Pages 12-13


Photo gallery View an array of images from Nusach Hari B’nai Zion’s recent gala honoring Dr. Ethan Schuman. multimedia

Index ChaiLights........................ 18-19 Classifieds .............................22 Features........................... 12-14 Food, Fashion, Travel & Home.16 Israel Alive!.......................... 8-9 Jewish Lite.............................20 Mitzvot from the Heart..........21 Nation/world news.............. 4-7 Obituaries........................ 22-23 Opinions.......................... 10-11

Candlelighting Shabbat starts Friday, Dec. 27, 4:28 p.m. Shabbat ends Saturday, Dec. 28, 5:31 p.m.

Schechter grad killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash BY ELLEN FUTTERMAN EDITOR

A graduate of the former Solomon Schechter Day School in St. Louis was one of six U.S. service members killed last Tuesday, (Dec. 17) when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, died of injuries suffered as a result of the crash, which is under investigation, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. A funeral service took place Tuesday, Dec. 24 at Berger Memorial Chapel in Olivette, followed by interment at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Chesterfield. Although Mr. Silverman lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., he and his family still had close ties to St. Louis, said Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose of Congregation B’nai Amoona. Mr. Silverman graduated from Schechter in 1991, according to the school. His parents, Barry and Susie Silverman, now live in

Aurora, Colo., but were longtime members of B’nai Amoona when they lived in St. Louis, said Rose. The Defense Department said that five of the six soldiers, including Mr. Silverman, were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade in Fort Riley, Kan. The Defense Department confirmed a seventh soldier in the helicopter survived the crash. A memorial service for Mr. Silverman took place at 8 a.m. Friday (Dec. 20) at the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School (which was the result of a merger in 2012 of Solomon Schechter Day School and Saul Mirowitz Day School-Reform Jewish Academy). About 70 people took part in the service, which included sharing stories about Mr. Silverman. Flags flew at half-mast in honor of his memory. Local realtor Matthew Litwack counts Mr. Silverman among his best boyhood buddies. The two met in third grade while attending Hebrew school at B’nai Amoona

Joshua B. Silverman

and were great friends from then on. They went to Camp Ramah together for several years and traveled to Israel together when they were teenagers. “Josh was unlike any of my other friends,” said Litwack. “He was never concerned with what was cool. He did his own thing and people gravitated around him.” Mr. Silverman attended Parkway Central High School through his junior year, according to school records. The family then moved to Arizona. Litwack said Mr. Silverman was

Snowden’s revelations of U.S. spying on Israel boost calls for Pollard’s release BY BEN SALES JTA

TEL AVIV — The disclosure last week that American intelligence spied on former Israeli prime ministers has given new momentum to the effort to secure a pardon for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several leading members of Knesset members have called in recent days for Pollard’s release following reports that documents leaked by former defense contractor Edward Snowden showed U.S. intelligence had targeted the email addresses of Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Pollard’s case “isn’t disconnected from the U.S. spying on Israel,” Nachman Shai, the co-chair of the Knesset caucus to free Pollard, told JTA. “It turns out, it’s part of life. And what he did is a part of life.” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein accused the United States of “hypocrisy” for holding Pollard, who as a civilian U.S. Navy analyst spied on the United States for Israel, even as it spied on Israeli leaders.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said he wants the Israeli government to demand Pollard’s release and insist the United States cease its espionage operations in Israel. And opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Pollard’s punishment “has long passed the limits of sensibility.” “We hope that the conditions will be created that will enable us to bring Jonathan home,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the Israeli Cabinet’s weekly meeting. “This is neither conditional on, nor related to, recent events, even though we have given our opinion on these developments.” When Pollard’s crimes first came to light in the mid-1980s, his activities seemed like a major act of betrayal given the close alliance between Israel and the United States. But the Snowden revelations show that spying by the United States and Israel was a two-way affair, prompting a new round of calls for the release of Pollard. Support for freeing Pollard represents a

See POLLARD, page 7

truly “a great person” —kind, caring and always up for a dare. “I can never remember a time when we fought or when he was mean-spirited to anyone,” said Litwack. “Everyone liked Josh. When I posted about (what happened to) him on Facebook yesterday, no less than 100 people commented on what a terrific person he was.” Litwack said while deployed in Afghanistan, Mr. Silverman’s posts on Facebook always contained humor, no matter what. “That was Josh,” said Litwack. “He could see the positive in the negative.” In addition to his parents, Mr. Silverman is survived by his wife, Tina Silverman. His grandparents were the late Edward and the late Sophie Silverman and the late Marvin “Murph” and the late Pearl Haffner. Mr. Silverman’s sister, Sarah Silverman, died of cancer at the age of 15. Memorial contributions are preferred to Combat Veterans Cowboy Up, Moon Fall Ranch, 5937 Highway 86, P.O. Box 1287, Elizabeth, Colo., 80107.

Finale at the Dome

St. Louis Kollel’s Torah & Turf league had its championship game at the Edward Jones Dome last week. See story on Page 3. Photo: Mike Sherwin

Coming Soon

March 9, 2014 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac




DECEMBER 25, 2013




Kollel’s Torah and football program touches down at the Dome BY DAVID BAUGHER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

With the night’s Torah study focusing on the concept of making decisions for yourself and not just going along with the crowd, Andrew Serkes knew just the right parallel to draw. “It’s kind of similar to football,” said the 27-year-old. “Don’t listen to the fan noise. Do what you do and what you think is right.” Standing on the field at the 50-yard-line of the Edward Jones Dome, Serkes’ comparison certainly seemed apt. The St. Louis city resident was one of dozens participating in “Torah and Turf,” an annual St. Louis Kollel league that helps combine the formerly disparate fields of football and religious education. Now finishing its seventh season, the unique weekly program features a halfhour of textual study and discussion followed by a six-on-six flag football contest. Last week was the championship Torah Bowl — thanks to St. Louis Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff — was held at the “The Dome,” home of St. Louis’s National Football League franchise. Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, associate dean and executive director of the kollel, said that he never expected Demoff to respond to his email asking for sponsorship. But

Editor’s note Ellen Futterman’s ‘News & Schmooze’ column will return next week.

Jason Jacobs (right), president of the Torah & Turf advisory board, presenting the green team with their 2013 Champions T-shirts at the close of the league’s championship game last week at the Edward Jones Dome. Holding the trophy is team quarterback Brian Schwartz. Photo: Mike Sherwin

surprisingly, Demoff arranged a personal meeting with Soroka, which eventually led to a suite at a preseason Rams’ game for Torah and Turf participants. Then the team executive offered to hold the kollel’s final matchup at the dome. “I said ‘You’re kidding, right?’” laughed Soroka. “He said, ‘No.’” Serkes’ squad was one of four in the mini-league competing for bragging rights Tuesday evening on the gridiron. The league included about 50 players on five teams this year, one more team than last. The initiative was originally the brainchild of Rabbi Avi Kula who was honored

for his contributions just before play got underway. Rabbi Shaya Mintz, director of programming at the kollel, said the idea is to engage young Jewish professionals in Torah learning. Most of the players on the field are between the ages of 24 and 35. “This is the demographic where they still want to get together with their buddies yet they have families,” said Mintz. “Their wives are here tonight. Some of them have brought their little kids.” Mintz said that topics of study could be anything from Jewish ethics to home life to relationships at the office. The important thing is to link young adults to a


rabbi, especially since some of the players aren’t members of a synagogue. “Here they do have a young rabbi they can relate to who may be going through similar challenges because of their age and who they can talk to in time of need for guidance and what the Jewish approach is when it comes to an ethical challenge,” he said. The event seems to have inspired a degree of dedication. The previous week’s game had taken place at Parkway North High School during a wintry blast, which brought a coating of snow to the area. Mayer Klein, president of the kollel, said all the effort seems to be paying off. “You’ve got Torah which is life and our roots and our heritage and football which is having fun, getting out there and playing with the guys,” he said. “Who would think the two would go together?” Unfortunately, Serkes was relegated to the sidelines with a knee injury for the evening’s game and was being forced to watch his yellow-jerseyed teammates fall behind by double digits to the red squad. “We’re down big but we just scored a touchdown so hopefully we can get a little momentum here before it is too late in the game,” he said. He also enjoyed the dose of pregame Torah. His father was Jewish and Serkes liked being able to discuss life questions regarding the religious approach to things. “It was a great way to really reconnect with my heritage,” he noted. On the other side of the field from Serkes was the championship game between the black-clad Hebrewsers and

See TORAH & TURF, page 20

13 14










Wizard of Oz JAN 24 & 25 2014 starring Ballet Memphis TOUHILL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Diavolo FEB 28 & MAR 1 2014 TOUHILL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater APRIL 25 & 26 2014 FOX THEATRE








DECEMBER 25, 2013



community photos

ABOVE: The Shirlee Green Preschool at Congregation Shaare Emeth wrapped up their “Canned Food Challenge” this fall and presented the collected food to Marcia Mermelstein (right) of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. The preschoolers counted the cans and kept track by filling in a “Canned Food Challenge” chart. 

ABOVE: Temple Emanuel celebrated the 85th birthday of the congregation’s Rabbi Emeritus and Senior Scholar Joe Rosenbloom in late November at Westwood Country Club. “Rabbi Joe” has served Temple Emanuel continuously since 1961. Pictured from left are Temple Emanuel Board Secretary Michael Freund, Vice President Mike Szymkowicz, Senior Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Rabbi Rosenbloom, President Steven Strauss and Treasurer Lynn Phillips. LEFT: MOSHE (Men of Shaare Emeth) volunteered at Covenant House, helping residents with changing light bulbs, turning mattresses, moving furniture and other chores. They brought home cooked meals that social workers could provide to residents returning from the hospital or rehab.

ABOVE: Students at St. Louis University celebrated Hanukkah on campus with Rabbi Hershey Novack (left) of Chabad on Campus. Students enjoyed latkes from Chabad during the event, planned by student leaders of SLU Jews, including Sarah Friedman, Anna Vigdorova, and Alex Baines and help from Sue Chawszczewski, director of SLU’s Eckelkamp Center for Campus Ministry.


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EAST Thursday, January 23rd 7:30 pm 11014 Martin Grove Creve Coeur, MO 63141

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* The tour itself is free but does not include airfare. In addition, there is a $36 processing fee upon acceptance. NOTE: The trip is primarily geared toward women who have children under the age of 18

Community wide event! Bring a friend!

Suggested donation of $18 at the door ●

“The Kabbalah of You—Understanding Yourself and Appreciating Others”

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm Doors open at 7:00 pm

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A $36 advanced payment option includes VIP expedited registration, reserved premier seating, and a signed copy of “Remember My Soul” by Lori Palatnik, a beautifully written book that answers the question What do we do to honor the memory of a loved one? Mail check payable to Aish HaTorah St. Louis, Attn: Claire Wolff, 457 N. Woodsmill Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017 or call with credit card payment to 314-862-2474. Deadline for the $36 advanced payment option is January 17, 2014.

Event Co-chairs: Mimi Pultman & Ellie Grossman Cohen Committee Members: Mimi David, Cindy Becker, Jodie Brandt Neuman, Kalanit Chappell, Elise Krug, Yael Kula, Ellen Levy Siwak, Beth Mayer, Vicki Redler Chervitz, Stephanie Ruter, Andria Simckes, Rebecca Brown, Alana Umansky Minoff, and Peggy Umansky


DECEMBER 25, 2013

WORLD NEWS BRIEF Bomb explodes on bus near Tel Aviv; no one hurt JERUSALEM — A bomb exploded Sunday on a public bus in Bat Yam, a city neighboring Tel Aviv, after the passengers had been removed. The passengers had alerted the driver to a suspicious package left on the vehicle, which was traveling from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam in central Israel. The bomb, which was placed in a black backpack with wires sticking out, detonated as a police sapper was working to defuse it. It is unclear if the bomb was a terror attack or criminal in nature. Police sources told the Times of Israel that it appeared to be a terror attack. Bus passenger David Papo first identified the bomb and helped remove other passengers. In a telephone call, Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked Papo for his quick action. Papo told Peres why he decided to examine the bag. “I didn’t understand how someone could leave such a big bag on the bus,” Papo said. “I tried to lift the bag, but it was so heavy that it raised my suspicion further. When I opened the bag, I saw what it was. “When the explosion happened, we were in the road helping the police to stop passers-by and the traffic. Only afterwards when I saw the hole in the bus did I understand the damage that could have been caused.”





Jewish philanthropist Edgar Bronfman dies at 84 BY JTA STAFF

NEW YORK — Edgar Bronfman, the billionaire former beverage magnate and leading Jewish philanthropist, died Saturday at the age of 84. As the longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, Bronfman fought for Jewish rights worldwide and led the successful fight to secure more than a billion dollars in restitution from Swiss banks for Holocaust victims and their heirs. As a philanthropist, Bronfman took the lead in creating and funding many efforts to strengthen Jewish identity among young people. According to a statement, he died peacefully at his home in New York, surrounded by family. Bronfman spent the 1950s and 1960s working with his father, Samuel, at Seagram Ltd., the family’s beverage business. He became chairman of the company in 1971, the year of his father’s death. Just a year earlier, in 1970, Bronfman took part in a delegation to Russia to lobby the Kremlin for greater rights for Jews in the Soviet Union. He would later credit the trip with inspiring his increasing interest in Judaism. “It was on those trips to Russia that my curiosity was piqued,” Bronfman said. “What is it about Judaism, I asked myself, that has kept it alive through so much adversity while so many other traditions have disappeared. Curiosity soon turned into something more, and that ‘something more’ has since turned into a lifelong passion.” In 1981, Bronfman became the presi-

Edgar Bronfman

dent of the World Jewish Congress, stepping up the organization’s activism on behalf of Jewish communities around the world. From his perch at the WJC, in addition to battling with the Swiss banks, he continued the fight for Soviet Jewry, took the lead in exposing the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim and worked to improve Jewish relations with the Vatican. In 1991, he lobbied President George H.W. Bush to push for the rescission of the United Nations resolution equating Zionism and racism. “In terms of defending Jews, I’m a Jew,” Bronfman told JTA in a 2008 interview. “And I was in a position to do so, so I did so.” Bronfman’s final years as president of WJC were marred by allegations of financial irregularities revolving around his most influential adviser on Jewish political affairs, the organization’s secretary general, Rabbi Israel Singer. Bronfman was never implicated in any of the financial allegations, but the controversy and feuding surrounding his top aide dominated the final years of his decades-long stint as WJC president.


Rabbi Michael Rovinsky

“Where Care & Concern Make A Difference”



by Skip Erwin

When I was growing up in Passaic, N.J., many Jewish kids would take the number 74 bus on Sunday night to see a basketball game in Paterson featuring the host team, Paterson YMHA. The “Y” team was led by “Fishy” Rabin, a local 5-foot-7 guard, who had played for Long Island University when it was the nation’s powerhouse of college basketball. “Fishy” also played for the Kingston Colonials of the Eastern League, and was the league’s leading scorer. LIU Hall of Fame coach Claire Bee had a basketball academy after leaving LIU close to West Point. Bobby Knight, then 24, was West Point’s basketball coach. Knight told me Claire Bee was a big influence for him in his coaching career. The Paterson “Y” team in this period during World War II played against teams that had basketball players in the armed forces and were among the best in college basketball. Those players stationed in Fort Dix, N.J., about 70 miles from Paterson, and also the Brooklyn Naval Yard, would get a pass and come to Paterson to play the “Y” team. Bob Davies, a 6-foot-1 all-American guard at Seton Hall, who was the first basketball player I ever saw dribble behind his back, played against the Paterson “Y” when he was in the Navy. Davies, in 1946 after World War II, became a first team NBA All-Star with the Rochester Royals. In 1946, the Philadelphia Warriors coach and owner Eddie Gottlieb became one of the first teams in the NBA. Gottlieb, known as the Mogul, made up the NBA schedule. His office was his apartment and his desk was the kitchen table. It was amazing how Gottlieb could figure out the schedule since the NBA was at the mercy of the arenas where it played, and those arenas were also scheduling other events. The New York Knicks home court was Madison Square Garden but the team had to play at New York City’s 92 nd Street Armory whenever the circus appeared at the Garden. But Gottlieb, with a Buddha-like body, always wearing the same crumpled suit, somehow did it. Gottlieb identified himself as the “Schedule Committee.” In 1962, he sold the Warriors to a San Francisco group for $850,000. Gottllieb had originally paid $25,000 for the franchise. He went to San Francisco as a consultant, but after two years came back to Philly. He always dined at the Automat, which charged 25 cents for a sandwich, but continued making up the league schedule, still at his kitchen table. I’m sure even today he would do it the same way, never using a computer. A happy and healthy New Year.

The office of then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued a report in 2006 that found no criminal offense, but criticized the WJC’s financial management, and it ordered that Singer be prohibited from making financial decisions in the organization. Bronfman initially stood by Singer before ultimately firing him in 2007. Several months later Bronfman stepped down. But Bronfman did not disappear from the public stage. A staunch supporter of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he continued to be a vocal and public backer of liberal politicians in the United States and Israel. And as president of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, he dedicated most of his final years to his Jewish philanthropic causes. He founded the Bronfman Youth Fellowship in 1987, a young leadership program that brings together Jewish high school students from Israel and North America. In the 1990s he worked to revive Hillel, serving as the founding chair of the campus organization’s board of governors. In 2002, he provided the funding to launch MyJewishLearning, a digital media entity that now also includes the Jewish parenting site Kveller and boasts 1 million visitors per month. Bronfman and his first wife, Ann Loeb, had five children: Sam, Edgar Jr., Matthew, Holly and Adam. He and his second wife, Georgiana Webb, had two daughters, Sara and Clare. In 1994, he married the artist Jan Aronson. He is survived by Aronson, his seven children, 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as a brother, Charles, and a sister, Phyllis Lambert.

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Skip Erwin wrote & broadcast sports shows for KMOX for 25 years. Member JCC & UMSL Sports Hall of Fame.

The ST. LOUIS JEWISH LIGHT (ISSN 0036-2964) is published weekly; except semi-weekly the first week in February, first week in May, third week in August, and the last week in December, for $45.00 per year by the St. Louis Jewish Light, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, 6 Millstone Campus Drive, Suite 3010, St. Louis, MO 63146. Periodical postage paid at St. Louis, MO. Copyright 2013. Postmaster: Send address changes to the St. Louis Jewish Light, 6 Millstone Campus Drive, Suite 3010, St. Louis, MO 63146.

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DECEMBER 25, 2013



By Stacey Smith, M.D. When I was growing up, no one – not my parents, coaches, anyone – said a word to me about fitness. They didn't need to. I was skating three to four hours per day during the week and five-plus more on Saturdays and Sundays. This was all any kid needed to stay in peak condition.

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When I retired from competitive figure skating after the 1980 Olympics, I became gradually more sedentary. Instead of skating at the rink, I was spending more and more time sitting at a desk – studying, first in college and then in medical school. Next came marriage, two children, residency in psychiatry, and then private practice in psychiatry.

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My new life after skating was stimulating, challenging and fulfilling, but my fitness suffered. I missed feeling fit and wanted to be a good model for my patients and my children. I didn't like what was happening. I belonged to a gym, but would find reasons why I was too busy to go. I was slowly putting on weight. Then about seven years ago, I saw an ad for 20 Minutes to Fitness. It claimed their

After two or three sessions, I was hooked, and signed up for a dozen workouts. Five years later, I'm still at it, and feel great. I've subsequently added yoga and other activities to my routine. As a physician, this workout appeals to me on many levels. It's safe and offers meaningful health benefits for anyone who does it, no matter what shape they are in. In my case, I credit 20 Minutes to Fitness for getting me over-the-hump and back on the path to being fit. It helped me reclaim my physical self, a joy in itself. Thank you, 20 Minutes!

THEN - Stacey Smith, Co-captain, 1980 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team

NOW - Dr. Stacey Smith, Psychiatrist in private practice St. Louis, Mo.

(here with her skating partner, John Summers)


About the author: Dr. Stacey Smith, three-time U.S. Ice Dancing champion, was co-captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating team. A 20 Minutes to Fitness client since 2009, she is today allied with Washington University's Department of Psychiatry and is a psychiatrist in private practice.

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DECEMBER 25, 2013





End of Congress’ year brings odd reversal on Jewish priorities

JTA WORLD NEWS BRIEF Report: Ostreicher with actor Sean Penn in U.S.


Actor Sean Penn told the Associated Press that he was with Jacob Ostreicher, the New York businessman who returned to the United States this week after being held in Bolivia since 2011. In an e-mail Dec. 17, Penn said Ostreicher was safe and receiving medical care in an undisclosed location. Penn said Ostreicher had been removed from Bolivia in a “humanitarian operation” in order to save him “from the corrupt prosecution and imprisonment he was suffering in Bolivia.” He gave no other details. The Bolivian government is calling Ostreicher a fugitive and says his flight Jacob proves he is guilty of Ostreicher the crimes of which he is accused. Bolivia is considering requesting his extradition from the United States, Bolivian Justice Minister Cecilia Ayllon said at a news conference, the AP reported. Bolivia and the U.S. are party to an extradition treaty. Ostreicher, who had a flooring business in New York, invested money with a group involved in a rice-growing venture in Bolivia and was managing the business when he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering. He also was accused of doing business with drug traffickers. However, in June, Bolivian authorities arrested 15 people — including government officials — on charges of engineering his arrest in hopes of extracting cash payment. Despite those charges, Bolivia did not release Ostreicher, a haredi Orthodox father of five. Penn has served as an intermediary between the government of Bolivia and the United States. Relations between the two countries remain strained over the 2008 expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia.


WASHINGTON — For Jewish and pro-Israel groups, the congressional year is ending with an odd reversal: the prospect, however fragile, of bipartisan comity on budget issues coupled with a rare partisan disagreement on Middle Eastern policy. The groups that deal with social welfare and justice issues are heartened, albeit warily, by the end-of-year budget forged by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., his Senate counterpart. Meanwhile, pronounced differences are emerging in the bipartisan coalition that over the last decade has shaped the tough sanctions that helped compel Iran to join talks aimed at ensuring it does not obtain a nuclear weapon. Democrats are heeding White House pleas to lay low while the talks get underway, while Republicans are eager to advance legislation that would influence any final deal. The differences were at the heart of a breakdown earlier this month in talks between Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Republican majority leader in the House, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the minority whip, to craft a nonbinding resolution that would have recommended additional Iran sanctions. Hoyer, congressional insiders said, was under pressure from the White House and Democrats not to undercut sensitive talks. Additionally, Cantor’s language appeared to overreach, especially in calling for an end to Iran’s uranium enrichment capability as part of a final deal — an expectation that Obama administration officials have said is unrealistic. The disagreement heralds a shift in how Democrats treat pro-Israel issues, according to officials of Jewish groups that have advocated a softer line in dealing with Iran. “Mr. Hoyer obviously made a decision as a leader in his caucus that a substan-

tial number in his caucus weren’t going to support a hawkish statement that undermines the prospects for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program,” said Dylan Williams, the legislative director for J Street. Lara Friedman, Americans for Peace Now’s legislative director, cited other examples of lawmakers resisting centrist and right-wing pro-Israel initiatives. They include a bill advocating visa waivers for Israelis that would permit Israel to keep in place policies that discriminate against Arab-American visitors and the confirmation earlier this year of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary over the objections of several proIsrael groups. “It proved that no outside group can push through its agenda,” Friedman said. Officials from centrist pro-Israel groups said there is still robust bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. They noted the overwhelming passage in the House this month of bills that would advance Israel’s qualitative military edge and energy cooperation with the United States, as well as agreement in the House and Senate to triple the administration’s request for funding of missile defense cooperation to nearly $300 million. A Republican congressional staffer predicted that the Senate would consider the sanctions in 2014 even though Senate Democrats have resisted because of the renewed talks with Iran. “As you get closer to November 2014 [and midterm elections], it’s going to be harder to keep folks from getting tough,” said the staffer, who declined to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media. On the domestic front, the two-year budget agreement that passed the House last week and is likely to pass this week in the Senate is being seen as a positive step after months of bickering between the two parties, including a 16-day government shutdown. But any optimism is restrained. “Looking back at the year, to sum it up, it’s been a really bad year that just

avoided getting a lot worse,” said Rachel Goldberg, director of aging policy at B’nai B’rith International, which operates 42 homes for the elderly across the United States. Representatives of Jewish groups that deal with the social safety net caution that budgets only set broad-stroke priorities; Congress quickly could return to deadlock when it gets to the nittygritty of congressional spending in appropriations bills. As one example, Jared Feldman, Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, cited Head Start, the federally funded preschool program aimed at children from lowincome families. The proposed budget mandates a restoration of half the cuts that came about as a result of “sequestration” — the automatic spending cuts that kicked in last March when Congress missed the deadline to agree on a budget. Democrats favor including Head Start among programs that would receive restored money; Republicans want to restore defense spending. “Are we able to restore Head Start? That’s going to be a big question,” Feldman said. An additional strain on Jewish service providers will come when 1.3 million Americans lose unemployment insurance at the end of this year and another 2 million or so lose it during 2014, said William Daroff, the Washington director for the Jewish Federations of North America. Republicans refused to include an insurance extension in the budget deal. “Millions of individuals will be left out in the cold, in despair,” Daroff said. One bright spot is that the prospect of an end to the tussling over spending clears the congressional agenda for other domestic items. Chief among these for many Jewish groups is immigration. Abby Levine, director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, a coalition of 26 Jewish domestic policy groups that

See PRIORITIES, page 19

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JTA WORLD NEWS BRIEFS Nearly a quarter of Israelis living in poverty, report finds JERUSALEM — More than 1.7 million people in Israel were living in poverty in 2012 — some 23.5 percent of the population — marking a slight dip over the previous year. The annual poverty report, released last week by Israel’s National Insurance Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics, noted that 817,000 children were among those living in property that year. In 2011, more than 1.8 million people and nearly 861,000 children lived in poverty. Some 439,500 families, or 19.4 percent of Israeli families, lived below the poverty line in 2012, and 5 percent of those families had two workers or more. Arab families made up nearly 37 percent of Israel’s poor households. The highest poverty rates were in Jerusalem. Some 180,000 elderly citizens lived in poverty in 2012, representing 23 percent of Israel’s elderly. “There are indications that in 2012 there was a certain improvement in the poverty situation and inequality generally, particularly among the young and in smaller families,” according to the report. Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel, a food rescue organization that helps feed poor Israeli families, said the statistics have not changed in years, “and it’s not a case of no news is good news.” “It’s indicative of the lack of planning and lack of changes being implemented to alter the poverty crisis in Israel,” Kroch said. “The wording of the report gives you the sense that they are referring to products and not individuals;

the people living in poverty. It’s as if the people have gotten lost in the statistics.” Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was presented with the report on Dec. 17, tweeted his disappointment: “The fact that there are 800,000 hungry children in Israel is disturbing. If there are poor among us, it reflects on us as a society #Poverty.”

Stabbing of Israeli policeman seen as part of terror spree JERUSALEM — An Israeli policeman stabbed in the West Bank by a Palestinian is the latest of several attacks in less than two days being called terrorist by Israel. The policeman was admitted to a Jerusalem hospital with a knife in his back after the Monday evening attack, Haaretz reported. He had been directing traffic near Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli security forces fired at the assailant but he escaped. Meanwhile, a rocket fired from Gaza late Sunday night landed in a residential area south of Ashkelon. Remains of the rocket were discovered early Monday morning. No one was reported injured; there was light damage. The rocket landed near a school bus stop in the southern Israeli city. Hours earlier, a bomb exploded on a passenger bus in Bat Yam (see related brief on page 4). Also late Sunday night, Border Police guards prevented a stabbing attack by a Palestinian man at a checkpoint near Jerusalem. No one was hurt and the suspected stabber and two companions were taken in for questioning.

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DECEMBER 25, 2013




rare point of consensus in Israeli politics, with 100 Knesset members among the 120 signing a letter asking President Barack Obama to release Pollard, according to Shai. Eighty members signed a similar letter last year. But Ronen Bergman, an expert on Israeli intelligence who is writing a history of Israel’s spy Jewish Agency chief Natan Sharansky called for agencies, says Israeli pressure is the release of Jonathan Pollard in his speech to unlikely to convince Obama to the Jewish Federations of North America free Pollard in the short term. General Assembly in Jerusalem on Nov. 12. “I’m quite positive that it won’t Photo: Yonatan Sidnel/Flash90) happen tomorrow because otherwise it will look as if the president of American public opinion and the United States accepts the claim that American professionals and the following the recent revelations from American Jewish community feel,” Edward Snowden, he should parole Sharansky said. “I want to be cautious, Jonathan Pollard,” Bergman told JTA. but I think we passed a checkpoint. “But once the Americans were caught Now we don’t see people thinking with their hands in the cookie jar, it [Pollard’s release] is unthinkable.” paints the Pollard issue in a different Supporters of Pollard have long color.” argued that his three decades of incarThe clamor for Pollard’s release has ceration for spying on an ally is excesgrown steadily over the past two years, sive. Revelations of American espiowith the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, nage may strengthen the rhetorical former Attorney General Michael argument on Pollard’s behalf, they say, Mukasey and former Secretary of but the merits of the case for release State George Shultz expressing their stand on their own. support. “Without any connection to the Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman recent news, there’s no question that Natan Sharansky, a vocal advocate for the time has already come when the Pollard’s release who raised the issue Israeli public and senior officials want last month in his speech to the General this tragedy to come to an end,” said Assembly of the Jewish Federations of Adi Ginsburg, a spokesperson for the North America, told JTA that advocacy group Justice for Jonathan American calls for the release of Pollard. “American justice and shared Pollard hold more sway than Israeli values between the two countries, like advocacy. justice and mercy, necessitate Pollard’s “What really matters is what freedom.”


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Israel alive!

Israel Alive! seeks to provide a well-rounded look at Israel by going beyond war, conflict and politics to present coverage of arts, culture, education, sports, industry, technology and other aspects of what makes Israel a unique, exciting and world-class nation. Israel Alive! receives generous funding from Ron and Pam Rubin and the Milford and Lee Bohm Fund for Community Information & Education.

Bedouin women exemplify Israel’s contradictions schools or electricity, and precious little water. And the ongoing claims to land by individual Bedouins KHASHEM ZANEH, Israel — As have proven difficult at best under we sat in a rug-making facility opercurrent Israeli law. ated by Bedouin women in a Negev A vicious and public political town — basically, a feminist busidebate rages on about the proposed ness collective in humble surroundPrawer-Begin bill before Knesset, ings that sells its woven wares which would relocate Bedouin poponline — I could not help but conulations from villages into towns. sider the bigger picture. Detractors cite discriminatory treatIsrael is a place of massive culturment, paternalism and an intent to al contradictions. A rapidly evolving clear larger tracts in the Negev for and innovative society that in many Jewish settlers. Supporters claim important ways is stubbornly fixatthe kinds of medical, education and ed in the past. A government headother facilities intended to improve ed by brilliant world-class leaders quality of life for Bedouins cannot but often fraught with a rampant be fully attained without some level lack of communication and cooperof consolidation. ation. A largely secular society that With a ton of exposure in the is controlled in key ways by relinews, the bill appears to have gious institutions. slowed in the last couple weeks, but Included in this backdrop of conultimately, given political pressures, trasts are any number of issues that some compromise is likely to occur. pertain to Israeli women. During a And when it does, there will be sigrecent visit, I was able to observe ABOVE AND OPPOSITE PAGE: A Bedouin woman in Khashem Zaneh weaves a rug which will later be sold nificant impact upon the role of and consider some of the problems online. Photos: Rahna Barthelmess women in Bedouin culture as a shift and opportunities that fill the gento town life accelerates. der-related landscape. Jewish divorce laws; highly-visible implications for how the lives and hopes Traditional village life for Bedouins is The trip combined a visit to the Jewish stresses at the Kotel about how and of Bedouin females will be affected. not easy, even for those living in recogFederation of North America’s General where women can pray; and Arab News has been rife in recent months nized communities. But in Khashem Assembly, held twice a decade in Israel, women striving to build new hope for with the plight of Bedouins in the Negev. Zaneh, an unrecognized village of about with a mission visiting programs the St. their communities, were just three indi- Numbering over 200,000, the once- 2,300 that we visited, it’s particularly chalLouis Federation funds and focusing on cators that things are evolving in a great nomadic people are scattered through lenging. Though Bedouin pay health care issues of import in contemporary Israeli many areas for Israeli females. reams of villages across the desert. A taxes, there’s no clinic. And schoolchilculture. One of the most compelling plot lines precious few of these villages have been dren must board a bus and travel a great Various strands involving women and relates to Bedouin women and girls. For formally recognized by the state, while distance each day to attend a publiclygirls told a broad and complex story. The buried far below the headlines of recent 45 have not; lack of recognition most current initiatives to change antiquated stories about tension in the Negev are often means no roads, services, local See BEDOUIN, page 9 BY LARRY LEVIN PUBLISHER/CEO

Love, peace at heart of Rambam Medical Center’s success Hispanic media representatives and community leaders, led by the New York-based, American Voices in Israel – recently visited Palestinian and Israeli children being treated together in a nephrology ward at Rambam Health Care Campus in Israel.


HAIFA, Israel – A few months ago, a nine-year old Syrian girl was rushed to Rambam Medical Center in this North Israel city after suffering a severe head wound. The child apparently fell from the roof of her home and suffered internal bleeding, with head injuries to her eye sockets. Her family knew that a road leading to a local Syrian hospital was blocked because of deadly battles in the area, so they headed for the Israeli border. Although the child was not among those wounded in combat, the Israeli Defense Forces allowed her into Israel to receive the urgent care she needed, accompanied by her grandmother. The Syrian child and grandmother had never met an Israeli and had no idea what to expect. But then Rambam Medical Center is all about the unexpected. Here, Jewish and Arab doctors work side by side to treat patients of various ethnic populations, including Jews, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, and Christians, many of whom live in this region. Many of the doctors also are deeply committed to new medical research aimed at accelerating health care in areas ranging from diabetes and metabolic disease to cancer immunotherapy to stem cell therapy. Given its location only 50 miles from the Golan Heights frontier, Rambam’s

medical staff has been on the frontline of treating seriously injured Syrians caught up in their country’s raging civil war. The 9-year-old girl was one of these victims; however, after three days of intensive medical treatment, her condition improved so she could be released. Along with her grandmother, she quietly returned to the Syrian border to rejoin her extended family. She left clinging to a teddy bear that one of the nurses had bought her. Dr. Sergei Abeshaus, an attending neurosurgeon at Rambam who treated the child explains, “We really don’t know how and why she fell from the building but in our line of work you don’t ask too many questions. You just treat the

patient. She was lucky, because she had a fractured skull but she had a minimal amount of cerebral bleeding. The staff did its best to make her and the grandmother feel comfortable.” Given that Rambam Medical Center employs a number of Israeli-Arab nurses and doctors, the girl and her grandmother were able to communicate with medical personnel. “No doubt having Arabic speaking staff members is an advantage in these cases,” says Abehaus. “But, because of the situation being as delicate as it is, we don’t want to expose these people or their real names because they have to return home. We try very hard to respect their privacy and wishes. “In this particular case, the grand-

mother was very happy and thanked us for saving her grandchild,” the doctor adds. “As for the girl, we sent her home with a teddy bear.”

Medicine on the cutting-edge In addition to treating patients, Rambam’s doctors are involved in globally pioneering medical research, including Dr. Naim Shehadeh, who heads the Department of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Diabetes Clinic at Rambam’s Meyer Children’s Hospital. One of his projects is a new infant formula enriched with insulin called Nutrinia, which supplements pre-term and term infant formulas with insulin. This glucose-regulating hormone is present in mother’s milk but absent from infant formulas that originate from powdered cow’s milk and soy. Shehadeh and his team have performed studies with very encouraging results. He says Nutrinia is on the verge of starting its phased trials as part of the Federal Drug Administration’s approval process, which could take up to three years. Another of Shehadeh’s undertakings, Diabetes Good View (DGV), is based on his experiences with both younger and older people who suffer from long-term diabetes. Essentially, he developed sunglasses that can reduce the growth of

See RAMBAM, page 17





DECEMBER 25, 2013





funded Israeli school. This presents a problem for females, for once the Bedouin girls reach early teens, cultural mores prevent travel at a distance from the village to continue their learning. So for many, the formal education process stops quite early. The lack of local services and employment affects females in other ways. While Israeli law limits men and women to one spouse, Muslim law allows four, and Arab men at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, Bedouins among them, are more likely to violate the law and have additional wives. This is not a practice that those advocating for gender equality see as particularly healthy. There is one economic positive for women in Bedouin village life, and that is, women are allowed by cultural standards to retain anything they earn. That is, of course, to the extent there is a source of earnings from local or nearby tasks. The transition to town life, however, presents a wholly different set of issues. When Bedouin from different villages come together in a township, the cultural norm precludes women from being out and about with strangers. So generally women end up spending much of their time inside, without work and without the opportunity to have a positive financial, cultural or social experience. But the problem worsens when Bedouin men, coming from the more rural setting of the village, cannot get gainful employment in the town. Then not only are the women without


Run on

Israel will host a selection of unique marathons and running competitions for athletes of all levels in early 2014, including the Jerusalem International Marathon on March 21 and the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon on Feb. 28. Other events include the Sea of Galilee’s International Tiberias Marathon on Jan. 10; Israman and Ironman competition in Eilat, Jan. 17; and the Dead Sea’s Ein Gedi Experience half marathon, Feb. 7-8.

Now showing pay they can keep for themselves, but many more issues ensue from the men being unemployed, domestic violence being one of them. The result is a downward spiral in the family structure. All of that makes Sidreh and the Lakiya Weaving Project (www.lakiya. org) that much more remarkable. It’s a nonprofit weaving business in the Bedouin town of Lakiya, that brings women together to create products and utilize the revenues not only as earnings for the women, but to facilitate further empowerment of females. Rugs and other woven goods are sold in several Israeli stores and online (in the United States through a distributor, It is, in many ways, the quintessential social entrepreneurship. Providing a source of income for about 70 families, Sidreh also performs the task of empowering women through high school and adult education, helping women understand their rights, sharing stories through a newspaper and otherwise, and devel-

oping leadership and capacity skills. Mothers have been able to pay for their daughters’ continuing education as a result of the program, creating a feedback loop of more enlightenment, more advocacy, more choice. The operation is one that is not popular amongst all, as it turns some traditional role models on its head. But its success and ability to provide financial stability to families gives it respect and stability, so much so it has survived, grown and flourished over three decades. There are ample challenges to Bedouin communities in being forced from villages to towns if the PrawerBegin bill or some variant becomes law. Aside from the obvious issues of forced relocation, transitions from villages to towns present numerous issues relating to economics, family life, and women’s and girls’ roles. The Sidreh model, however, offers hope that an earnest effort at empowerment can have a lasting impact on women and girls in the Bedouin villages and towns of the Negev.

A new series of exhibitions, entitled “4 x 4: Four Exhibitions, Four Months,” is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem through April 2014. The series includes four different showcases of contemporary art, including: “Collecting Dust,” featuring 45 works by contemporary Israeli artists; a showcase of works by Israeli artist Gideon Gechtman; “Out of Body: Fragmentation in Art,” featuring 200 works of art within the subject of human body parts; and “Squeeze: Video works by Mika Rottenberg.”  A new exhibition showcasing a collection of contemporary wedding gowns inspired by Jewish communities around the world is on display through February 2014 at the Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv. The exhibition boasts 13 different wedding gowns with handmade embroidery created by recent graduates from Israel’s Shenkar School of Art alongside preliminary sketches of each piece. A new exhibition showcasing works by FrenchAmerican artist Marcel Duchamp, entitled “100 Years of Readymade,” is on display at the Haifa Museum of Art through Feb. 9. The exhibition traces Duchamp’s legacy and his influence on the work of the 37 assembled  Israeli and international artists in the realm of “readymade” art, including sculptures, “found items” and consumer products.

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opinions ROBERT A. COHN Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Founded 1963 The Newspaper of the Jewish Community of Greater St. Louis 314-743-3600 • Fax: 314-743-3690 E-mail: Address for payments: P.O. Box 955519 St. Louis, Mo. 63195-5519 General Correspondence: 6 Millstone Campus Drive, Suite 3010 St. Louis, Mo. 63146 BOARD OF TRUSTEES OFFICERS Gary Kodner, President; Diane Gallant, Vice President; Jeff Golden, Vice President; Jane Tzinberg Rubin, Vice President; Steve Gallant, Treasurer; Sheri Sherman, Secretary; Jenny Wolkowitz, Immediate Past President COMMITTEE CHAIRS Editorial: Ben Lipman; Business: Jeff Golden; Development: Kristi Meyers Gallup and Diane Gallant SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRS Teen Page:  Peggy Kaplan., Caroline Goldenberg TRUSTEES  Michael Corson; Harvey Hieken; Diana Iskiwitch; Peggy Kaplan; Kristi Meyers Gallup; Ben Lipman; Jill Mogil; Ed Musen; Gary Ratkin; Daniel Rubenstein; Barbara Rubin; Jennifer Schmitz; Laura Silver; David Singer; Vicki Singer; Rabbi Lane Steinger; Toby Warticovschi; Richard Weiss ADVISORY COMMITTEE  Terry Bloomberg, Nanci Bobrow, Ph.D., Ava Ehrlich, Charles C. Eisenkramer, Richard Flom, Dodie Frey, John Greenberg, Yusef Hakimian, Philip A. Isserman, Gianna Jacobson, Linda Kraus, Sanford Lebman, Michael Litwack, Dr. Ken Ludmerer, Lynn Lyss, Rabbi Mordecai Miller, Donald Mitchell, Milton Movitz, Michael N. Newmark, Adinah Raskas, Marvin J. Schneider, Irving Shepard, Richard W. Stein, Barbara Langsam Shuman, Sanford Weiss, Phyllis Woolen Markus, Vivian W. Zwick. Founder Morris Pearlmutter (1913-1993)

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Academic Heal Thyself A little over 800 members of the American Studies Association — not even 25 percent of its 3,853-person membership but two-thirds of those who voted in an online referendum — favored a boycott against Israeli academic institutions rooted in that nation’s treatment of Palestinian people and academics. A growing roster of prominent universities (including Washington University) along with schools’ American Studies departments, have rejected the ASA boycott. And rightly so, for instead of emulating brave and righteous David in aiming the stones of their academic slingshots, proponents of the ASA resolution merely echoed the efforts of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) bullies on American campuses, and in doing so utilized logic unworthy of even the typical college freshman. Let’s start with the reasons cited in the resolution itself. One of them faults the United States: “Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians.” Not only is the American government labeled as complicit in the resolution itself, but the Israeli issues are by some compared to terrible tragedies in our own country. As reported by Slate, “Angela Y. Davis, a professor emerita at the University of California at Santa Cruz, wrote that ‘[t]he similarities between historical Jim Crow practices and contemporary regimes of segregation in Occupied Palestine make this resolution an ethical imperative for the ASA.’” Yet despite alleged collaboration by America, where these academics ply their trade and upon which they focus their professions, there is no boycott of U.S. institutions advocated in the resolution. And despite Davis using the template of discrimination in our own nation as a basis for action against Israeli schools, we don’t recall the ASA making it an “ethical imperative” to boycott American universities in recent years when LGBT populations have been denied federal and state civil rights parity for marriage, or prior to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act being adopted. Well, then, maybe the boycott is because Israeli institutions are so much more intertwined with their government and its policies than in America? Hmm...but in that case wouldn’t nations such as Zimbabwe, Iran, Russia and China, all of whom exercise grueling restraint upon their schools and commit human rights atrocities, be worthy of ASA approbation? Apparently not. Hasn’t happened. Even Professor Feisel Mohamed of the

University of Illinois, who on Huffington Post suggested legitimate moral grounds for the action (we strongly disagree), alluded to this aspect of the boycott: “If there is a problem with the ASA boycott, it is not a problem of activism, but a problem of haphazard activism insensitive to the implications of its irregularity.” In other words, why Israel when no one else? Then it could be that ASA is trying to utilize the resolution to encourage more academic freedom in Israel itself? Well that would be flat-out boneheaded, because when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acted contrary to the principles of academic freedom regarding the Palestinian conflict, he has been harshly rebuked by, well, Israeli academics. It happened late last year. Netanyahu asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to deny attendance at an event he was attending with her by a historian who had encouraged Israeli solders to conscientiously object to West Bank service. Who took him to task for his actions? The presidents of both Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University and other key Israeli academics. ASA is picking sides in what is a terribly messy and often tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, choosing the popular narrative of the powerful sovereign against oppressed peoples. This is the way the BDS movement likes to frame things, and as with the ASA resolution, it’s easy, convenient and in large part wrong. This view is one that helps neither Israelis nor Palestinians, and it certainly does not foster peace or cooperation. While it happily highlights Israel’s shortcomings, It fails to recognize a continually armed Palestinian resistance on Israel’s doorstep (using tactics ultimately eschewed by the late Nelson Mandela), ignores Palestinian textbooks for young children that exclude Israel from the map and excuses a Hamas leader who frequently recommits to Israel’s violent destruction. It also more pertinently overlooks an Israel of colleges assimilated with Jewish, Arab and Palestinian students (where else in the Middle East does that occur?) and integrated faculties rife with open debate about the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. The ASA referendum uses faulty logic and poor rationales to support its boycott. As the much larger and important American Association of University Professors explained in rejecting this and other such boycotts, one does not stimulate academic freedom by restricting it. We agree, and that’s why no matter what ASA’s members think about the conflict, the action taken against Israeli universities is academically incorrect.

Cartoon: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Jefferson Barracks burial A shock came over me a few weeks past when I was at a local Jewish funeral home to make plans for my wife and I. When I informed them that we wished to be buried at Jefferson Barracks they informed us that we better check with our rabbi first, to see if he would officiate since we belong to a Orthodox shul, as there are some rabbis in our community who will not officiate at a “JB” funeral. I find that a disgrace to those who gave their lives for this country and those of us who just served and came back home to our families. Since when does a rabbi think he is above those who served to protect his family. Perhaps he should have served as a chaplain to understand that we are all equals. Gary Wilson Creve Coeur

The case for a nuclear armed Iran: a red-blooded American perspective Advocates of a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution have successfully argued that, above all else, no individual should be deprived of the right to bear arms, let alone to defend himself. Should he surrender that right, such surrender must be purely voluntary. With respect to bearing nuclear arms, Iran voluntarily surrendered its right under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970 (when, by the way, the Shah was still sovereign). Apart from its dissembling and breaking its international commitments under that treaty, for which Iran has been roundly condemned and sanctioned, another factor troubles the global community. The very impetus of the treaty arises from the danger to world peace inherent in certain types of weapons and posed by their unrestricted availability. Obviously, the danger is much more acute if and when such weapons are procured by parties bent on aggression and/or terrorism. Arguably, Iran falls into this category. With this in mind, Iran’s political mistake lies not in its posturing and secretiveness. Rather, its mistake lies in its not having hired the NRA to manage its PR. For surely the NRA, as the United Nations Charter recognizes, would trumpet the right of any nation to defend itself. How can any limits be rationally placed on one’s means of defense? Indeed, wouldn’t our global society be safer if every UN member possessed and brandished nuclear weapons? And why should any nation be subject to a background check regardless of the temperament of those whose fingers are on the launch button? Of course, Iran is not protected by the Second Amendment. Solution? Join the Union. Rabbi Scott B. Saulson, Ph.D. Creve Coeur





DECEMBER 25, 2013



Mixed emotions as son receives draft notice for IDF service need for him to be drafted into the army. When he revealed exceptional leaderI have anticipated this day for 19 years, ship qualities at a young age, I was not with mixed feelings of awe and love, able to banish from my mind parental repressed fear and with pride. And of musings of how he would conduct himcourse, with prayer. self as a soldier and an officer.  When he The birth of one’s oldest child is like excelled in sport I imagined him carryfirst love.  This is not a new idea, and yet ing a stretcher on his shoulder.  In the it is so special.  Even though you know it early hours of the morning I would peek has happened throughout history and into the boys’ room to see them sleeping will continue to happen every day, you peacefully in their beds and wonder how still somehow feel as if you are the first much more time was left to us. one to experience it. The wake-up call that alerted us that it When our oldest son was born, he was really about to happen was the first came out into the world with a loud cry draft notice.  All of a sudden, the envethat announced: “I’m here!” I felt that I lope with the familiar triangle of the finally understood the secret of creation.  Military Post Office was no longer Since then we have been blessed with addressed to me, but to my son.  Oy!  three more children just as wonder- Now it is beginning to become real.  The ful.  And yet, there is still only one first stopwatch has been pressed and the time. countdown has begun. Ever since the day of his birth the The truth is, a meaningful army serquestion of his service in the Israel vice has many virtues.  It teaches order Defense Forces has hung in the air.  At and discipline.  It provides soldiers with his brit milah I announced my promise many important life lessons in leaderto my wife Betsy (with an arrogance ship, comradeship, teamwork and mutumixed with naïveté) that by the time this al responsibility.  It allows young people tender newborn is grown, there will be to deal with challenges, to believe in peace in our land and no longer any themselves, and to learn that apparently BY SAGI MELAMED


Finding strength to overcome our insecurity, reluctance BY RABBI JIM BENNETT

“We must speak and we must act” “I can’t do it!” “It’s impossible.” “No way!” How often we hear such a voice of reluctance, in others and in ourselves, when the task before us seems daunting, difficult, or undesirable. In parashat Va’era this week, Moses takes the stance of the reluctant prophet. The Torah tells us that in response to God’s command to him to go to Pharaoh and demand justice for his people, “Moses appealed to Adonai, saying, “Even the Israelites will not listen to me; why should Pharaoh pay attention to me, a man of impeded speech!” (Exodus 6:12) The Torah’s choice of words here is fascinating: “I am a man of ‘uncircumcised lips.’” The implication is potentially powerful. Moses suggests that his lips are not merely unable to speak truth to power, but also that they are ineffective because they are somehow impure, unconsecrated or inappropriate to the task. By Rabbi Jim Moses reveals his own deep-seated Bennett serves insecurity: I am not good enough. I don’t Congregation have the talent to do this job. I lack the Shaare Emeth confidence in myself. Moreover, I am an and is a member outsider. I am neither fully of the of the St. Louis Israelites nor of the Egyptians. I am neiRabbinical ther. Association. Moses is everyman in this moment of honesty. For who among us has not doubted his or her authenticity, sense of belonging, authority or talent. All of us harbor doubts or insecurities. Moses, who eventually becomes known as one of the most talented and powerful leaders in human history, begins his journey wracked by self-doubt. The Divine urges him on, refusing to accept “no” for an answer. “Go,” God says. “Do this thing. It is necessary, and it is right. And no one but you can accomplish the task that lies before you. It is your destiny.” Each of us must ultimately see our own journey in a similar light. For some, the task is great: to right some wrong, to bring justice where there is injustice, to stand up powerfully and make a difference. For others, the task lies within: to learn to love ourselves, to trust our ability to speak, to believe and to act. Moses is, indeed, our teacher – Moshe Rabeinu. For he, the one whose lips are imperfect, nonetheless speaks. And so must each of us. We must speak, we must live and we must act.

impossible barriers are flexible and can often yield to determination and faith. Army service develops personality, maturity, strengths and abilities.  There are only two main disadvantages to overshadow the many virtues of military service.  The first disadvantage: It is dangerous to one’s health.  One can be injured or even lose one’s life during the military enterprise.  And the second: Young men and women have to make a sudden transition from high school studies, loves, pastimes, and the other mostly positive activities of youth, to the reality of being combat soldiers, when the main focus of their training and military exercises is to excel in the art of war, an art whose ultimate aim is to kill and destroy. And so even before the call-up date the family begins to prepare for this new reality.  During preparations for Shabbat dinner, the oldest summons his younger brother to learn how to prepare the festive chopped salad for Shabbat.  “Come here and learn.  I am passing the saladpreparation torch to you.  Another few weeks and I won’t be here to make the salad.  Even when I come home on leave I’ll just be resting up and recharging my

Sagi Melamed lives with his family in the community of Hoshaya in the Galilee. He serves as Vice President of External Affairs at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, and as Chief Instructor (4th Dan) of the Hoshaya Karate Club.  Sagi received his master’s degree from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies with a specialty in Conflict Resolution.  His book “Son of My Land was published in 2013.  Sagi can be contacted at:

batteries…” And as I bestow the parent’s blessing on my children on Shabbat eve, the verse “May G-d bless you and protect you” becomes charged with a special meaning — the hope and the prayer for him to go in peace and return in piece. It is also fascinating to observe from the side how he is preparing for his impending enlistment — his physical and mental preparations and tryouts for elite units and his indecision, right up to the last moment, about which military unit to choose.  The excitement and the pride of all of us when we heard that he

See COMMENTARY, page 14

Stop the dishonest academic boycott BY LAWRENCE GROSSMAN

It started as barely a blip on the radar. At its annual conference last April, the Association for Asian American Studies, or AAAS, unanimously approved a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli universities to protest the country’s treatment of Palestinians. While the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement had been active for some time on campuses across the country, it was the first time an American academic organization had signed on. But since the AAAS is a tiny group of barely 800 members, and fewer than 100 were still around on the final day of the conference when the vote was taken, the step was viewed more as a curiosity than the beginning of a trend. Now the blip is beginning to look more like a wave. This month, the much larger American Studies Association, or ASA — it has nearly 5,000 members — passed a similar resolution by a 2-to-1 margin in an online vote in which about a quarter of the members participated. The language, previously approved unanimously by the organization’s national council, claims there is “no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation” blames the United States for “enabling” the occupation; and endorses “a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.” While the ASA has long had a reputation for leftist and anti-Western bias, resolutions to the same effect are expected to be proposed at the upcoming meetings of the large mainstream academic bodies in the humanities, such as the Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association. Both will hold their annual meetings in January. The professoriate is the most highly educated sector of our society, its members taking justifiable pride in their ability to think clearly and not be swayed by faulty logic. Surely those who come to the subject with no preconceived antiIsrael feeling will see through the two-tiered hypocrisy of the boycotters. First, it is rather odd that the ASA has never before called for severing academic relations with any other country, not even such authoritarian regimes as China, Iran, Sudan or Syria, where no academic freedom exists. Whatever

Lawrence Grossman is the American Jewish Committee’s director of publications. Op-Ed distributed by JTA.

failings can be laid at Israel’s door, it is a democracy with free elections, a free press and, yes, academic freedom. Indeed, it was Israel that established the first Palestinian universities on the West Bank. Far from seeking to oppress the Palestinian population under its control, Israel is engaged in intensive negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to achieve a peace agreement whereby Israeli and Palestinian states can live side by side in peace. Acknowledging that Israel is hardly among the worst human-rights offenders, the ASA president insists nonetheless that “one has to start somewhere.” But why start by boycotting a free society rather than a repressive one — unless you come to the issue already predisposed against Israel? Second, for consistency’s sake, a boycott aimed at Israeli academia should insist on forgoing the use of anything produced by Israeli brainpower — much of it at the very universities targeted for boycotting. That would include computer laptops, cell phones, crops produced by drip irrigation, geothermal power, and a host of biomedical devices and pharmaceuticals. At the very least, such a boycott should logically include an end to the enjoyment of the most visible fruits of Israeli intellectual life — the path-breaking accomplishments of its 12 Nobel Prize winners, by far the highest percapita number of Nobel laureates for any country in the world. The fact that none of the would-be boycotters has even suggested taking such a step raises the strong possibility that the entire academic BDS campaign is shot through with another form of hypocrisy, one that decries Israel as an international pariah while at the same time making use of the life-enhancing and life-saving breakthroughs that the objectionable country has achieved. If they remain fair-minded, and look behind the hypocritical rhetoric, American professors can stop the academic boycott in its tracks.



DECEMBER 25, 2013






features Best Bets: Dec. 26-Jan. 1

DANCE WHAT: St. Louis Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, 2:30 & 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday WHERE: Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of University of Missouri-St. Louis HOW MUCH: $28-$52 adult, $18-$42 child THE 411: This endearing holiday classic features a magical story, Tchaikovsky’s famous score, special effects and the 21 resident dancers of the St. Louis Ballet. The professional company will be joined on stage by 80 ballet students. MORE INFO: 314-516-4949 or

FROM LEFT: Jerome Robbins, Sophie Tucker, John Garfield and Danny Kaye


Jews Editor’s Note: St. Louis Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark recently delivered this talk on Jewish-American theater at the Brodsky Library. BY JUDITH NEWMARK SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

MUSIC WHAT: St. Louis Symphony presents “Music of John Williams” WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday WHERE: Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Boulevard, St. Louis HOW MUCH: $30-$55 THE 411: John Williams has transported imaginations across time and space with his iconic Hollywood soundtracks. SLSO conductor David Robertson leads a program of Williams scores including “Star Wars,”“Harry Potter,”“JFK” and more. MORE INFO: 314-534-1700 or

FESTIVAL WHAT: First Night WHEN: 6 p.m.-midnight Tuesday WHERE: Grand Center; 519 N. Grand Boulevard is where buttons (tickets) for the evening can be purchased HOW MUCH: $10 adults in advance $12 at event; $5 children 6-12, $6 at event; free under 5 411: What better way to kick off St. Louis’ sesquicentennial anniversary — 250 years — than at this annual, familyfriendly celebration that features non-stop live performances, food and fireworks? MORE INFO: 314-289-1523 or

When my daughter Jordan was a sixthgrader at Solomon Schechter Day School, Rabbi Mordecai Miller sent the class home with this assignment: Ask your parents why G-d made the Jews. Stunned, I realized I actually had answer to give her: He did it for the conversation. Conversation — talk — is a Jewish art form, one that thoroughly informs another, more widely recognized, art form: the theater. The Jews didn’t invent theater. Credit for that, in Western culture at least, goes to the ancient Greeks. Naturally, their theater, profound and eloquent and masked, reflected their worldview. It’s a pagan worldview, in which man — a man like King Oedipus, for example, condemned to kill his father and marry his mother — has no choices. Choice belongs to the gods. Things are somewhat sunnier in the classical theater, which also reflects its world — an ordered, Christian world. It’s a world that allows Edgar to trust, through all the horror of “King Lear,” that “the worst returns to laughter.” Jewish theater, a modern development, can’t share that rosy perspective. It emerges from a dangerous universe — a universe that relies on the artist (in concert with the audience) for expressions of meaning and


beauty. That’s a challenging idea, yet one that we have summed up in an image so resonant, so lucid and so accessible that today, it embodies Jewish theater in its entirety. It’s the image of the fiddler on the roof. It’s the image of the artist who creates meaning and beauty despite desperately perilous circumstance. Marc Chagall — a painter who, among many other things, designed stage sets — gave us that image. Later, the director/choreographer Jerome Robbins and his colleagues made it the centerpiece, as well as the title, of their musical adaptation of the stories of Sholom Aleichem. By the time “Fiddler on the Roof” debuted in 1964, the Jewish influence on American theater was pervasive, unmistakable and well-established. In her masterful “Awake and Singing!” scholar Ellen Schiff reports that in 1905, it was estimated that fully 50 percent of people working in American theater were Jewish. This was only five years after the census of 1900, which found that there were about 1.5 million Jews in the United States — less than 2 percent of the population. More remarkably, this did not happen because American Jews were transplanting an old art form. Today we may imagine that the Yiddish theater has a long history, but it is in fact so recent that we can actually assign it a “start date.” Modern Jewish theater was born in Rumania in 1876, the creation of a writer, actor and director named Abraham Goldfaden. Think of that. 1876 is 11 years after the Civil War, four years before the U.S. Census Bureau declared the end of the

Melvin L. Newmark Memorial Pages Pages 12-13 are dedicated to the memory of Melvin L. Newmark, St. Louis attorney and Jewish community leader, who served as president of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees from l969-l972. In his memory, Mr. Newmark’s family and friends established the Melvin L. Newmark Memorial Fund, which has funded and sponsored op-ed commentary articles and special features on a topic of current Jewish interest. The St. Louis Jewish Light is grateful to Melvin Newmark’s family and friends, for establishing the fund.

Western frontier. In historical terms, it’s practically yesterday. It also coincides with the dawn of major Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe to the United States. Less than 10 years after Goldfaden’s first indoor production, Yiddish theater arrived in New York, where it would flourish — and where, in just a few more years, the American theater would be 50 percent Jewish. We don’t have a comparable statistic today, and we know why. We don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and why would we? Who, after all, makes lists of Jews? Jewish “percentages” have become the

See THEATER, page 13 FROM LEFT: Kurt Weill, Fanny Brice, Mel Brooks and Barbra Streisand.





DECEMBER 25, 2013



Head of New Jewish Theatre reflects on seasons past and future BY ROBERT A. COHN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Kathleen Sitzer has led the New Jewish Theater since its inception in 1997. She has been an active member of the St. Louis theater community for 35 years and has appeared on the stages of numerous local companies, including (the now-defunct) Theatre Project Company, Black Rep, St. Louis Shakespeare, Ozark Actors and NJT. She has written and performed onewoman shows, directed and done commercial, industrial, film and radio broadcast work.  Under her leadership, NJT and its actors and staff have won numer-

ous Kevin Kline and St. Louis Theater Circle Awards. The Jewish Light caught up with Sitzer in the midst of NJT’s current production of “Hannah Senesh,” which has been receiving standing ovations and numerous sell-outs during its run. What has surprised you most during your years as artistic director of the New Jewish Theatre? Did you expect to be at the helm for 17 seasons? I am continually surprised by how many actors, directors, designers and others clamor to work for NJT. We must be doing something right, although I’m not always sure what attracts them. In

Which productions gave you and your NJT associates the greatest satisfaction, and why? It’s hard to pick just a show or two in response Kathleen to this question. I guess I Sitzer would say that as a rule of thumb, the productions which have given us the greatest satisfaction have been the most challenging, either

From left, Zero Mostel in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’; playwrights Harold Pinter and Tony Kushner Pinter photo: Huntington Theatre Co.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 realm of anti-Semites, not proud Jews. On the other hand, are we surprised to find that Jerome Robbins (nee Rabinowitz) was Jewish? Or that any actor, director, playwright, producer or regular theater-goer is? We take that for granted. But if we mention it at all, we whisper. Maybe it’s time to say it out loud: Today, modern theater remains in many profound ways a Jewish art, not only because of who makes it but because it expresses a modern Jewish worldview. But let’s start with the people: Actors and playwrights composers and designers, and directors and producers. The Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side and its cousin, vaudeville, trained them all. They weren’t all Jewish, of course. In “The Godfather,” Francis Ford Coppola gives us a wonderful glimpse of immigrant theater from an Italian-American perspective; Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates compared so-called “chitlin’ circuit” shows to immigrant theater for black audiences. But from the first, Jews embraced theater with such fervor that the famed British director Sir Tyrone Guthrie observed that if they left, the whole of American theater “would collapse about next Thursday.” At a time when many professions restricted or simply excluded Jews, the theater probably looked democratic. Historically a business without pedigree, theater was one place you might get ahead on sheer talent and nerve — and where everybody changed his name anyhow. The Great Tomashevsky may have sported a cloak, but nobody mistook him for the kind of aristocrat so elegantly portrayed by Leslie Howard. (Of course, Howard was Jewish, too.) In “The Producers,” Mel Brooks satirizes that kind of flamboyant theatrical character as Max Bialystock (a role created by Zero Mostel). Brooks also said in “To Be Or Not To Be,” his homage to Jack Benny that “without Jews, (gays) and gypsies, there’s no theater.” In show business, modesty is useless. But Jewish Americans never prized shyness. What must it have taken for youngsters like George Burns and Eddie Cantor to perform in bars and burlesque houses, in places where dissatisfied customers pelted them with vegetables and invective? Poverty was a spur, of course, but so too was their sense of themselves as outliers, people at the edge of the cultural continuum. They had so little, they had nothing to lose. Their mothers, who let them go, must have shared at least a little of their bravado — and so did some of their sisters.

the beginning, I had no idea how long this ‘gig’ would last, but I am thrilled that we have become a mainstay of the cultural community and happy to continue to helm it.

Women from Sophie Tucker and Fannie Brice to Barbra Streisand and Sarah Silverman all benefited from outsider status, a role that allowed them to climb on stage and say outrageous things. As Ms. magazine co-founder Letty Cottin Pogrebin has pointed out, these women virtually invented a new type of female stage character, the “lovable loudmouth.” She’s not a conventional heroine, but she gets all the good lines. Roughly speaking, Jewish male per-

Read more online at RECOMMENDED READING • Editor-inChief Emeritus Robert A. Cohn shares his must-read list of books on ‘Jews and Theater.’

formers divided into two big groups, wild men (including a host of iconoclastic comedians) and smart, sensitive dreamers. Archetypically, that’s David Kaminsky and Julie Garfinkle — better known as Danny Kaye and John Garfield. Who else is with them in the big, dark room? The audience, of course, which stuck around and over time bought better tickets and occasionally endowed whole troupes. Today that Jewish audience remains, still curious and still aspirational. Artists from playwright Harold Pinter to Judith Malina of the Living Theatre, from Second City founder Bernard Sahlins to St. Louis-born producer Carole Rothman of New York’s Second Stage, filled theaters with disproportionatelyJewish audiences, willing to investigate something new and different. Near the end of her life, singer Lotte Lenya recalled that when a revolutionary musical called “The Threepenny Opera” opened in Berlin in 1928, it was a hit because it attracted a sophisticated audience that understood satire. “Everybody was Jewish,” she explained. Lenya wasn’t Jewish. But her husband, composer Kurt Weill, was. After they emigrated to New York, Weill joined the Jewish writers, composers and writers who came to define in central ways what

we now call modern American theater: its preoccupations and its voice. The greatest of them is the playwright Arthur Miller, who stands with Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams at the complex (Jewish, Irish and gay) apex of American theater art. I was lucky enough to interview Miller at his home in New York in 1998, not long before the 50th anniversary of his “Death of a Salesman.” He talked a lot about Jewish upbringing that morning, and discussed a passage in his memoir, “Timebends”: “Something in me insists that that there must continue to be Jews in the world or it will somehow end.” He said he connected that belief to the Jewish sense of justice. “This doesn’t mean that only Jews possess a sense of justice, nor that all Jews obey it,” he acknowledged. “But the tradition . . .is very powerful in Judaism, and the world is better off for it. That has to survive, or the world will end. It will go back to the barbarians.” “Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner is the heir to Miller’s viewpoint. (Miller once said that he wasn’t worried about the future of American theater as long as it produced writers like Kushner.) “Angels” is such a profoundly Jewish play that the story of Jacob, becoming Israel, inspires its central image of wrestling with an angel, and its key line is in Yiddish. That line is spoken in Heaven, by a dead woman who advises a visitor to tell her grandson to struggle with God. “S’iz der Yiddishe voch” (“It’s the Jewish way”), she says. Kushner’s massive “Angels,” which deals with many issues and spans about seven hours, is one kind of JewishAmerican play. So is “Fiddler on the Roof,” coming back next season at Stages St. Louis. So are two spirited Nicky Silver plays that were recently staged here, “The Lyons” at Max and Louie Productions and “Pterodactyls” at the St. Louis Actors Studio. Both of those are plays that deal with families. But for Jews in the audience, a lot of American theater feels “haimish,” whether the words the actors speak are bitter or tender. We recognize that we already belong to that theatrical family — a family in which everybody talks to everybody else. It’s what we do. Maybe it’s what we were made for.

because of technical requirements or content. Those might include “Lebensraum,”  “The Disputation,” “Hearts,” “Unexpected Tenderness,”  “Via Dolorosa,” “Women’s Minyan,” “Kindertransport,” “Awake and Sing!” “The Immigrant” and ‘’Way to Heaven.”  The satisfaction has come from sticking to our principles to present productions with important things to say and to do so in a way that honors the content. How have you handled plays with controversial subject matter, such as

See NJT, page 14


Interviewing an icon: Arthur Miller BY ROBERT A. COHN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

At the start of my 44-year career at the Jewish Light, one of my heroes was always on my short list of those I hoped to interview: Arthur Miller, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright and essayist. His works include “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible,” “The Price,” and “All My Sons,” among many others. I was only 10 years old when “Death of a Salesman” had its Broadway debut, starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, the hapless salesman who wanted not merely to be “liked,” but “wellliked,” with his version of fulfilling the American dream of material success always beyond his grasp. My late father, Harold Cohn, was a veteran shirt salesman, and when the Arthur film version came Miller out in 1951, our entire family was captivated. Loman, who sold women’s hosiery for decades, was near the end of his rope. He was obsessed with achieving great prestige among his fellow salesmen so that scores of them would honor him at his funeral. He was intensely jealous of his neighbor Charley whose nerdy kid Bernard was achieving the academic and professional success that Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy could not. Willy’s patient and long-suffering wife, Linda, demanded that her ungrateful sons treat their Pop with respect. Needless to say, the black-andwhite film version of “Death of a Salesman” had a deep impact on me, then only 12, one of two brothers, the son of a career salesman who was moved to tears watching the film. Years later, at Washington University, my drama teacher, the late and beloved Herb Metz, shared with his students the raging controversy among the East Coast the-

See ARTHUR MILLER, page 14



DECEMBER 25, 2013


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 “Via Dolorosa,” which some might find too critical of Israel? For the most part, when presenting a controversial play, we try to counter any blow back by wrapping the production in a lot of educational opportunities, such as panels and talk backs. In this way we have taken a pro-active approach and have been able to deflect much criticism before it landed. Has the new venue in the refurbished Marvin and Helene Wool building and the NJT performance and audience space made a substantial difference to your operations and capacities? The new Wool Theatre has increased our capacity by 25 percent.  It has also allowed us to be much more expansive in our scenic and lighting values, all to the benefit of he production.  Of course, all of this has increased production expenses. Has the NJT grown in terms of audiences over the past 17 seasons?  Have you had much success in attracting younger audiences? We were on a huge growth trajectory for the first 10 to 12 years.  We have since slowed down and begun to settle into a pattern.  However, like most “traditional” theaters, we have been tremendously challenged in attracting younger audiences. Is there a growing body of plays with solid Jewish content occurring in North America (and elsewhere)?  Have there been more ‘new’ plays, or mostly repeats of the established classics? The number of new plays with solid Jewish content is astounding and grows





every year. However it is important to us to present the full spectrum, which includes many classics, such as some of Arthur Miller’s works. NJT presented Miller’s “Broken Glass” in a previous season, and will present “The Price” March 20-April 6 this season. Who would you regard as standouts among playwrights doing Jewishcontent plays? I think the strongest of the current playwrights writing plays with Jewish content is Donald Margulies.  We have done a number of his plays in our 17 years.  Also in the running are Jim Sherman (“Door to Door,” “Jacob and Jack,” etc.), Alfred Uhry and Jeff Sweet, among others. Has the Jewish theater movement grown nationally? Is there a formal network where you can exchange ideas with artistic directors from other communities? There is an international organization that we are a part of, the Association for Jewish Theatre.  We have an annual conference, which is an excellent opportunity to gather with other artistic directors and exchange ideas and scripts.  It is also an opportunity to preview new scripts by lesser-known playwrights. Any hints of what we might expect of a unique nature for your “chai” anniversary season? We are in the planning stages for our “chai” season, and have some pretty firm ideas.  But obviously it is still a bit early to announce anything.  However, in keeping with this significant anniversary, I will say that it is a life-affirming season.  Patrons should look for an early announcement regarding the beginning of the season.


ater crowd. Miller, the son of Orthodox Jewish parents from Brooklyn was Jewish, but the religion or ethnicity of the Loman family in “Death of a Salesman” is never mentioned in the script. Yet critics and friends of Miller saw what they took to be Jewish elements in the play. Mary McCarthy chided her friend Miller by accusing him of writing a play about a Jewish family, disguised as a “universal family,” who could just as convincingly been portrayed by her own Irish-American family as by Jews. In a newspaper column she queried, “Why the disguise?” The controversy about the Jewishness of the Loman family raged on for decades more until Miller finally addressed the issue n his autobiography “Timebends.” He said Willy was based largely on his own Uncle Manny, who was Jewish and who, like Willy, took his own life when he realized he would never achieve his dreams. I had two opportunities to ask Miller about the controversy, and just the anticipation of meeting him caused me to tremble as I tried to steadily hold on to my tape recorder. He came to St. Louis in 1980 to accept that year’s prestigious Roswell and Wilma Messing Award from the Associates of St. Louis University. After Miller’s talk, I greeted him near the buffet table, and sheepishly said he had been one of my childhood heroes, and that my family loved the film version of “Death of a Salesman” starring Frederic March. “Well, I really did not like that version,” Miller said with a reassuring smile. “The director tried to


was accepted into the ranks of the select few. The understanding that he is faced with another 18 months drenched with sweat, filled with sleep deprivation and innumerable challenges, before earning the privilege of wearing the desired warrior’s badge. Looking at the big picture, Zionist Israeli parents face a number of possible feelings towards their son’s impending army service: One: Fear, anxiety and frustration that yet another generation in the family must learn to fight.  Anger about the security situation, about the government, about the Arabs who are forcing us to fight, about the violent neighborhood in which we live, about an unjust world. Two: Acceptance. Understanding that our children’s army service is part of the price that Israeli parents pay for our decision to live here. Add it to the list, along with paying taxes, the hamsin (hot and dry weather) in summer, irritable drivers in traffic jams, pushing in line, the price of gas and cars, inexplicable union strikes. Three: A feeling of pride and gratification, gratitude for the privilege that falls to our lot of being a proud link in



‘Cohnipedia’ is the online feature by Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Robert A. Cohn, chronicling St. Louis’ Jewish history. Visit Cohnipedia online at

make Willy seem crazy, instead of being at the end of his rope, and there is a difference.” Trying to recover, I then asked Miller, “In your mind, did you identify Willy Loman as a specifically Jewish character, or did you intend Willy to be a ‘universal’ character?” Miller responded very directly, “Yes, he was a Jewish character in my mind. But he is a lot of other things. In some ways he is. In some ways he isn’t. But in my mind, he was exactly what I said to you.” He noted that the play was popular all over the world, including Beijing, China. “From the particular, one can get to the universal. People draw universal application from the particular.” I next had the opportunity to do a more extensive interview by phone with Miller in 2000, during the period when “Death of a Salesman” was marking its 50th year since its Broadway debut. Miller was relaxed and friendly during the interview. The one issue that he politely declined to discuss was his illfated marriage to Marilyn Monroe, who herself had converted to Judaism. “Bob, all of that (about Monroe) is in my book ‘Timebends,’ and there is nothing more that I wish to add about that part of my life.”

the chain of the Jewish people in our homeland. A sense of writing a chapter in history, a chapter distinguished by the extraordinary fact that a sovereign Jewish people is able to bear weapons, to defend ourselves and our people wherever they may be, to shape our future and fate with our own hands.  After all, in the history of the Jewish people since our forefather Abraham, very few generations have been privileged to do so. With my hand on my heart I can honestly say I experience all three feelings at the same time, although sometimes one feeling more strongly and sometimes another. When I get up early in the morning, I like to look at my four children sleeping the sleep of the just, their faces calm and smooth.  When I wake them with the traditional farmer’s call of “Rise and shine, the Creator’s work awaits!” they get up slowly. The time is approaching when Guy will no longer sleep peacefully and wake up slowly.  His sleep will be tense and he will be on edge, ready to jump up, to leap into action. Guy, my firstborn son, go on your way.  “May G-d bless you and protect you. May G-d deal kindly and graciously with you.  May G-d bestow His favor on you and grant you peace.” — Abba.






DECEMBER 25, 2013




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For 100+ years, Jewish Federation has raised funds to meet the need of our community: feeding the hungry, funding Jewish education and elder care, supporting Taglit-Birthright Israel. Our campaign closes December 31, so make an impact by giving to the 2013 Community Campaign today at






DECEMBER 25, 2013





living well — food, fashion, travel and home

New Belgium museum provides a treasure trove to Jewish visitors BY SUSAN MANLIN KATZMAN SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

One can’t overestimate the importance of the Red Star Line Museum to Jewish visitors. Although officials call the facility, which opened its doors last September in Antwerp, Belgium, a “European migration museum” it is so much more. This museum is a receptacle of history, a tribute to courage, a genealogical resource center, a library of multi-dimensional stories and the physical jump-off point to not only the shaping of America, but also the modern development of the Jewish people. The Museum chronicles the history of the Red Star Line, an ocean-crossing passenger line transporting some 2.5 million European migrants, one million of them Jewish, to the United States and Canada between 1873 and 1934. Through photos, memorabilia, testimonies, maps, art, interactive displays and multi-media installations visitors learn about human migration as well as about the shipping company’s ascendance and decline; the rescue and the restoration of the physical buildings housing the museum; and Antwerp’s history and harbor. But the essence of the Red Star Line Museum—it’s essential story—is that of the emigrant experience and the grueling journey of the huddled masses yearning to breath free from troubled Europe to the door of America. Although the museum showcases aspects of first-class travel, it emphasizes steerage, mainly because the museum occupies the shipping company’s original departure warehouses for third-class passengers and the flow of exhibits follow the former footsteps of third-class passengers. Visitors learn that many of the passengers, seeking relief from poverty, prejudice and persecution, came from Russia, Eastern Europe and the AustroHungarian Empire. That they purchased tickets at agencies located in various parts of Europe, buying a “packaged deal,” which included a train trip to Antwerp and a modest hotel. Once at the dock, third-class passengers left all of their belongings to be fumigated and sterilized while they endured a rigorous cleansing program and meticulous medical exams that determined it they were fit for the journey. Ship models and model cross sections shed light on of life aboard the vessels,

Antwerp’s Deportation Monument in the city’s Jewish quarter. All photos: Susan Manlin Katzman

Antwerp’s Central Station

The museum’s timeline of emigration

The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp.

which was luxurious for first class, but difficult for steerage, where passengers shared cramped, communal cabins for journeys that that could last 10 or more days. The Red Star Line Museum actively collects stories and memorabilia from con-

temporary emigrants, as well as those who traveled on the line, who descended from travelers, and/or who never left Antwerp. Some personal stories are told at various spots in the museum, among them the stories of Red Star Line travelers

Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin and Golda Meir. Sam Fox, a local St. Louis businessman and former ambassador to Belgium, is represented as his mother traveled to America on a Red Star Line ship. And

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diabetic retina disease, the No. 1 leading cause of blindness in people between the ages of 25 and 60. “By creating an optic filter that blocks a certain spectrum of harmful daytime light, we can reduce the severity of damage to the eyes,” Shehadeh says. Since these special filtered sunglasses are classified as a “medical device” instead of a formula or drug, Shehadeh believes that after a clinical trial on humans (he’s already conducted successful tests on rats), DGV will be available fairly quickly. The affable doctor who also sits on Rambam’s patent committee relishes the challenge of developing new technologies. “For me, it’s a built-in thing — a gift,” he says. “You don’t just decide to become an inventor. You recognize a problem and then you go try and solve it.” Dr. Rafael Beyar, the hospital’s revered director and heart specialist, is proud of the unique cultural and medical interaction at Rambam. “Here, Jews and Arabs work shoulder-to-shoulder to save lives

The Jewish stories that come alive at the museum help visitors understand the melting pot of emotions that must have been shared by most emigrants—fear, excitement, despair, hope, sadness, joy and the feelings associated with spirits unshackled and sent soaring.

Irving Berlin’s piano sits in a room at the end of the historic displays symbolizing the success of the emigrants. In terms of popular music, the Red Star Line Museum is the link connecting “Anatevka” (from “Fiddler on the Roof”) and “God Bless America” at the end of the road.

and to make an impact on medicine and medical research,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of our employees are Arabs and they reach the top positions in medicine, nursing, pharmacology and research. “Co-existence and love is our model,” he adds. “This model should be a sign for the world as to how medicine can create bridges for peace. Nevertheless, says Beyar, during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Rambam found itself under attack from the Hezbollah. Although no one was hurt, a decision was soon made that some kind of structure was needed to protect patients and staff against conventional and unconventional warfare. In 2010, work began on what will be the world’s largest fortified emergency underground hospital, which can convert from a three-story parking lot into a 2,000-bed acute care hospital within 72 hours. When it opens (a date has not yet been set), the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital will be able to generate its own power, store enough oxygen, drinking water and medical supplies for up to three days and keep out chemical or biological weapons.

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Even during times of relative quiet, Beyar and his staff face enormous medical and personal challenges every day at Rambam, which operates at 99 percent capacity year-round. As Northern Israel’s largest medical facility (and fifth largest overall in the country), it treated 87,358 adults, 20,845 children and 10, 487 mothers-to-be during this past Jewish calendar year (5773). Beyar’s staff also has a direct link to the world-renowned Technion School, located on the Rambam’s medical campus. In the vaunted Technion building, which is also home to Rambam’s medical school, Dr. Lior Gepstein has a team of young doctors and scientists working with two types of stem cells that one day might be able to cure heart disease. It’s a glimpse into the future of medicine that recently left a group of Hollywood actors, some of whom had guest-starred on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” positively speechless. This was especially the case after they saw a beating human heart cell developed via stem cells in a Petri dish. 15464 Olive Blvd., Chesterfield, MO

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In addition to the main displays, a small café and a retail shop, the museum boasts a dramatic observation tower shaped like the funnel of an ocean steamer that offers views of the city, port and beyond. For opening hours, entrance fees and other information visit: www.redstarline. be/en .

“My research group applies emerging stem cell technologies to cardiovascular studies,” says Gepstein. “Our current research focuses on developing novel cell therapy and tissue engineering strategies for treatment of cardiac disorders (heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias), as well as drug screening and discovery. These studies are expected to provide new insights into inherited cardiac disorders, to allow optimization of patientspecific therapies (personalized medicine), and to facilitate development of new therapies.” Though Gepstein admits that it could be years before these medical applications go from the Petri dish to cardiovascular patients at Rambam, he believes the future is closer than we think. “What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young – the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born,” he says.







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Antwerp offers many attractions to supplement the Red Star Line Museum visit including: Central Station, where emigrants from all parts of Europe arrived on their way to a Red Star Line ship; the Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum, showcasing the work of the artist gifted at visually capturing the emigrant experience; the Jewish quarter, where Jewish emigrants on their way to America, but unable to make the journey across the Atlantic, settled; and Hoffy’s, one of the best kosher restaurants in Europe.

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Inside the Red Star Museum. For more images, view this story online at stljewishlight. com. Photo: Susan Manlin Katzman

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16 visitors are encouraged to search the museum’s genealogical database to find their own stories. I found my husband’s grandfather, Aldof Milder, on a passenger list for the S/S Kensington, a Red Star Line ship launched in 1893. The information stated that he traveled alone, at the age of 14, and that his brother-in-law paid for his ticket in steerage, (which is said to have cost the amount a laborer earned working 75 days—or the equivalent of $1,300 in today’s money). I knew Aldof as an elderly man of few words and little action. The museum gave me a background that spoke volumes of his courage and fortitude—to leave all behind and travel with virtually nothing, alone, to the unknown, eventually landing in St. Louis and spreading roots of a family tree that gave our city teachers, doctors, researchers, inventors and artists.











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DECEMBER 25, 2013






To submit calendar items or news releases, contact Managing Editor Mike Sherwin at 314-743-3665 or For a complete listing of community events, visit

In the spotlight


Inspirational story of animator to screen at HMLC

Starting with our Jan. 15, 2014 edition, the deadline for all news releases and calendar submissions to be considered for inclusion in each issue will be 5 p.m. the Wednesday before publication. For example, all items submitted for the Light to consider publishing in the Jan. 15 edition must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 8. For more information, email msherwin@

Friday, Dec. 27 Film at Covenant House Covenant House will screen “The Giant Mechanical Man,” an offbeat romantic comedy about a silver-painted street performer and the soft-spoken zoo worker who falls for him, starring Jenna Fischer and Topher Grace. The film starts at 1 p.m. in the Helene Mirowitz Theatre of Covenant II. Free and open to the public; refreshments provided. For more information call 314-432-1610.

St. Louis NORC Book Group   Love to read and discuss books? Become a member of the St. Louis NORC Book Club which meets the fourth Friday of each month from 1-2:30 p.m. Call Joan Hirst at 314-442-3834 for location and book information.

Saturday, Dec. 28

The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s Sandra and Mendel Rosenberg Sunday Afternoon Film Series continues with “Blinky and Me,” which traces the past of a popular animator. It will screen at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29 in the museum’s theater in the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, 12 Millstone Campus Drive. The untold story of Australian animator Yoram Gross is documented in this 2012 film, which follows the artist and his family from his childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland, through Israel to Australia, where he found great success through children’s animated features. Gross has received the highest honors in Australia for his popular film series Blinky Bill.  Introductory remarks and a post-screening discussion will be presented by Pier

Library Director, Barb Raznick. The program will also include an art project and healthy snack. This program is co-sponsored by the Helene Mirowitz Center of Jewish Community Life at the JCC and the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library. Free, but RSVPs required by contacting Emilie Brockman at the JCC at 314-442-3268 or by Thursday, Jan. 2.

Monday, Jan. 6 & Wednesday, Jan. 15 Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group

Famous Monsters at Jacob’s Pillow

The Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Group will meet from 3:30-4 p.m. Jan. 6 and 6-7 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Adult Day Center at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. This monthly support group is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association in collaboration with the JCC and led by a trained facilitator. Care for family members may be available, but must be made by advance registration. Contact caseworker Elaine Most for more information at 314-442-3261.

The next Jacob’s Pillow, the coffeehouse of sacred music and sacred story, will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Neve Shalom, located in the Chai Building of the Covenant House complex, 6 Millstone Campus Drive. This special evening features Famous Monsters: music, story, poetry and tea from Rabbi James Stone Goodman and special guest David Sale. A modest donation will be humbly accepted during the evening. For more information or directions, you may call Neve Shalom at 314-222-9864 or visit www.

Monday, Jan. 6

Friday, Jan. 3

Crafts, knitting and more

‘Once Upon a Time’ Children ages 1-5 with an adult are invited to the Brodsky Library at 9:30 a.m. for storytelling of Jewish tales, music and dance with Brodsky

Bring your project to work on while visiting with others during this St. Louis NORC gathering at 1 p.m. at The Gathering Place at the JCC. Free and open to the community but RSVPs required to Laura at 314-442-3255.




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Marton, a filmmaker, artist and writer who has lectured and shown his art at museums nationally and abroad. Free and open to the public. The film is in in English and Polish with English subtitles and has a running time of 75 minutes. For more information, call 314-442-3714 or email

Starting Tuesday, Jan. 7 Carol Rose teaches CAJE course Carol Rose will teach a three-part class on “Encountering Mystery: A Course in the Use of Imagery” on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m., starting Jan. 7 at Central Agency for Jewish Education. Rose developed the course, which is based upon the teachings of Jerusalem psychologist and wise woman Madame Colette AboulkerMuscat. Rose will help participants to cultivate moments of openness, becoming more aware of the presence of holiness in their lives. Participants will explore Imagery Work, a method that combines the use of modern psychological insights and ancient mystical teachings to develop a practice suited to contemporary needs. Tuition is $45; scholarships available. To register or for more information, contact Cyndee Levy at 314-442-3754 or

Thursday, Jan. 9 New Year’s Bingo Bash   Join the St. Louis NORC and bingo maven Esther Gelb in a white elephant set of prizes for fun bingo games, held from 1-2 p.m. at The Gathering Place at the JCC.  Open to the community but RSVPs required to Laura at 314-4423255.

Crown Center Garden Club talk The Crown Center Garden Club presents “Gardening in Greenhouses” at 2 p.m., led by Gateway Greening’s Community Educator Ryan



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Join NCJW for a brown-bag lunch with Stephanie Glore of Crisis Aid International. Learn about the organization’s efforts to end human trafficking and what you can do to help. With the convergence of highways downtown, St. Louis is a hub of activity in what’s been called modern-day slavery. The program is set from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. at NCJW, 295 N. Lindbergh Boulevard in Creve Coeur. For more information or to RSVP, contact NCJW at or 314-993-5181.

Friday, Jan. 10 & Saturday, Jan. 11 Shlock Rock concert, Shabbat events Shlock Rock will bring its unique style of parody and originality to St. Louis for a communitywide concert, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the newlyopened Wydown Middle School Theater, 6500 Wydown Boulevard (doors open at 7:15 p.m.). Premium reserved seats are $18 each, and general admission seating is $5 per person. Shlock Rock teaches Jewish ideas through music using song parodies, original music in both Hebrew and English, and children’s songs. Other events are planned during the weekend, including an oneg Shabbat with band founder Lenny Solomon on Friday at a private home at 8:45 p.m. (email for address), open to all teens of the community. On Saturday, Solomon will be on hand for a lunch following services at Young Israel ($18 for adults, $10 for children under 12, with family maximum of $72). Proceeds will benefit Epstein Hebrew Academy and The Block Yeshiva High School Sport Program. RSVPs for lunch must be paid in advance. To RSVP, call Judy at 314-727-1880. For more information, call Bonnie at 314-503-2792.

Sunday, Jan. 12 Jewish Community Blood Drive Congregation Young Israel, in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food pantry, will host an event aimed at recruiting blood donors and collecting food to help those in need during crucial winter months. The St. Louis Jewish Community Blood Drive will take place from 10

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Barker. Greening will present ideas about gardening in greenhouses and how best to get started. He will present some tips on how to organize your space and where to start. Free and open to the community. Crown Center is located at 8350 Delcrest Drive. Call 314-9912055 for more information.


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Visit WWW. STLJEWISHLIGHT.COM a.m.–4 p.m. at Young Israel of St. Louis, 8101 Delmar Boulevard in University City. The event will include a food drive; items needed most include canned tuna, peanut butter, canned beans and canned vegetables/fruits. Open to the community. To schedule an appointment, go to (sponsor code YIJS) or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. Walk-in donors are welcome, but appointments will take priority. For more information, contact the event’s founders, Judy and Bob Hellman at or at 314862-8432.

Monday, January 13 Senior Luncheon at Shaare Emeth At noon Joe Holleman will join the Senior Luncheon at Congregation Shaare Emeth as a speaker. Holleman is a columnist and feature writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He writes the “Life Sherpa” column in the Sunday everyday column and hosts “Joe’s St. Louis,” an online feature Monday-Friday and in the news section on Saturday. The lunch will be catered by The Sisterhood of Shaare Emeth and will include brisket, potato kugels, vegetables, rolls and dessert. The cost is $8 per person and RSVPs required by Wednesday, Jan. 8 to Paula Kanyo at 314-692-5372 or Shaare Emeth is located at 11645 Ladue Road.

Ongoing Classes at Covenant House

The following classes are free and open to the public. For information call 314-432-1610. Covenant House is located at 8 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. • The new ExerStart evening exercise class started Dec. 10. ExerStart is a program taught by older adults for older adults, with no running, heavy weights or fancy workout equipment — just practical moves for adults 50+. Class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Milford and Lee Bohm Social Hall in Covenant House II, 8 Millstone Campus Dr. There is a $5 fee for the

20-week course. Scholarships are available. • Covenant House Yiddish Club, facilitated by David Levine, meets every other Monday at 7 p.m. in the Covenant One Harmony Room. All levels are welcome to attend. • RPI physical therapists lead Tai Chi at 11:15 a.m. on Mondays, and Chair Aerobics exercises at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Milford and Lee Bohm Social Hall. • Larry Glass leads Chair Yoga at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays in the Covenant II MultiPurpose Room. • Music Therapist Troy Jones leads Bell Choir on the second and fourth Thursday of the month in the Milford and Lee Bohm Social Hall. All are welcome. • “To Your Health” provides an opportunity for people to meet with AW Health Care Nurse to discuss medical concerns and questions each Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Covenant House One Dining Room.

Yiddish Club at Shaare Emeth The Yiddish Club at Congregation Shaare Emeth is a unique way to explore the beauty and wisdom of the Yiddish language, literature and culture.  The club is held at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month (held in Room 15).  Shaare Emeth is located at 11645 Ladue Road.  For more information, contact Paula Kanyo at or call 314-692-5372.

Chaplain holds weekly group

Rabbi Larry Glestein, Director of Jewish Patient Care/Chaplain at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, will hold a pre-Shabbos get-together every Thursday evening for members of the community facing mental illness, cognitive challenges due to memory loss (or those with family members/friends facing these challenges) or someone you know who is isolated or alone. The program takes place at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion, 650 N. Price Road in Olivette. The programs will take place from 6:307:15 p.m. every Thursday. A suggested donation is $5 to cover refreshments. Each session will include singing, insights and sharing. Glestein is a boardcertified chaplain. For more information, call 314504-6593.




DECEMBER 25, 2013



advocates for paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, said the prospect of immigration reform was bolstered this year by the passage of a comprehensive reform act in the Senate with strong bipartisan backing. “For months since the summer we’ve been waiting for the House to act,” she said. “It’s clear that the legislation has the votes to pass.” House leaders have not said whether they will advance the legislation; Cantor has said he favors bringing immigration legislation to the floor. Another bright spot for liberal Jewish groups is a matter of partisan rancor: the rolling back by the Democratic-led Senate of the filibuster rule, which required a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate to advance nominations to the judiciary or to the executive branch. Now such nominations require only a simple majority. Republican senators are livid at the change. Sammie Moshenberg, director of the Washington office of the



National Council of Jewish Women, said the appointments advancing through the Senate will bring about better governance and a less-burdened judiciary. She cited as an example the Senate confirmation last week of Chai Feldblum — the daughter of a rabbi and a leading gay activist — to the Equal O ppor t u n it y Employ ment Commission three years after President Obama named her to the post. Gun control is an issue backed by Jewish groups that seemed ripe for advancement a year ago after a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn. But within months, fierce pushback by gun rights groups, led by the National Rifle Association, diluted what had appeared to be bipartisan backing for more extensive background checks for gun buyers. That was a major disappointment, said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, who directs the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly. “We passed the Newtown anniversary this month with the spectacular failure of the country to introduce even the most modest background checks,” she said.




DECEMBER 25, 2013

Across 1. Theologian Fackenheim 5. Opens the toothpaste tube 11. Dramatist Stoppard 14. Word that starts the name of three Talmudic tractates 15.“Yes ___, Bob!” 16. ___ Lanka 17. He played a “Star Trek” android 19.“It’s my work, ___ say, and I do it for pay” (Dylan lyric) 20.“___ Fuehrer’s Face” (1942 Disney short) 21. Mountain, to some 23. ___ Wolf (“Fiddler on the Roof” role) 26. Yiddish letter after ches 27. Early settlers of

Iceland 28.“___ of the Will,” 1935 film 30. Leah, to Rachel 31.“Can’t help loving ___ man of mine” (Oscar Hammerstein II lyric) 32. Book-smart 35. First prime minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state 40. Middle Ages philosopher Abraham 41.“I ___ Rock” (Simon & Garfunkel hit) 43.“The Jerusalem Report,” e.g. 46. Last step of the seder 49. Garlic-egg-oil sauce 50. ___ mask (Gulf War necessity) 52. Rivers and Nathan 53. Wacko



55. Tina who co-anchored “Weekend Update” with Seth Meyers 56. Technology Spielberg often uses 57. He’s known as “The man who broke the Bank of England” 62. Chick magnet? 63. Captivated 64.“Les Misérables” award, 1987 65. Unit of energy 66. Matisyahu’s style 67. Latin love




1.“Chicago” lyricist Fred 2. Purim mo. 3.“ ___ Got Five Dollars” (Rodgers and Hart Song) 4.“Ed Wood” Oscar winner Martin 5. Frequent David Remnick topic 6. Pinch 7.“___ is naught but misdirected energy”: Emma Goldman 8. Mayer and Nadel 9. Banana covering 10. 12-stepper’s prayer

Previous crossword answers

request 11.“My parents went to Israel and all I got was this lousy ___” 12. Blackmailer’s words 13.“The Rose” star Bette 18. Part of the school year 22. Prophet whose name means “salvation” 23. Brit’s “Inc.” 24. ___ Legion (Jerusalem attackers of May 15, 1948) 25. Baked Italian dish 26. Minimum necessary for a “zimun” 29. ___ Pingleton (“Hairspray” character) 30. Camp David Accords subject 33.“There was a man from the land of ___...” (Job 1:1) 34. Engages in rent-fixing? 36. Israeli wheat snack 37. 1978 Nobel Prizewinner 38. Yemenite singer Ofra 39. Rosh Hashana pilgrimage site 42. Responses to a masseur 43. Totally tacky 44. Stay a while


By David Benkof, 45. Showing awe, perhaps 47. Some liberal teachers 48. Nissan rival 50. Mathematician Cantor

51.“What ___” (“Hohum”) 54. Actor Wilder who played Willy Wonka 55. Shindig 58. Honor roll stat

59. It stores data permanently 60. Kiryat ___ (city near Tel Aviv) 61. One of Isr.’s neighbors


the forest-colored Green Machine. The Hebrewsers, looking to chalk up their third championship in a row, were up early by two points on their competitors who had just formed their first team this year. Hebrewser quarterback Danny Babitz, a United Hebrew congregant from Clayton, said he loved the camaraderie of the event and was hoping to bring home a win for his 27th birthday, which was only hours away. “I think we’ve built a lot more friendships then we ever thought we would have,” said Babitz who is now completing his fourth year in the league. “It’s been awesome.” Babitz was on the team with his brother Andy. Their mother Judy watched from the sidelines. “It’s important because they exercise their bodies but they also exercise their souls before they play,” she said ducking a bit as an errant pass sailed overhead. “It’s important that young men like this are reminded of their spirituality. Then they go out and have a great time. It’s the most amazing concept.” For Kyle Kaplan of Ballwin it was the first year he’d participated in the event. “I wanted to spend time with friends

LEFT: Green Machine quarterback Brian Schwartz sprints to create an opening for a pass. ABOVE: Rabbi Shaya Mintz, St. Louis Kollel Director of Programming, talks with Hebrewsers team member Andy Babitz (also the vice president of the league’s advisory board) at the close of the championship game. Photos: Mike Sherwin

and with the Jewish community,” said Kaplan, 24, who did duty at both wide receiver and quarterback for the Green Machine. The study session was rewarding as well. “Everybody got to participate,” he said. “I really liked that. It wasn’t just a lecture type thing.”

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Ultimately, Kaplan’s team would prevail as the men in green came from behind to upset the Hebrewsers 12-8, denying the champions their third cup in a row. Meanwhile, not everyone at the game was playing or had a relative on the field. Daniel Lefton, an Agudas Israel congregant, was happy to attend as a spectator.

“There is the obvious attraction of just being able to stand on the field at the Edward Jones Dome and watch football up close,” said the 40-year-old. “But it is also a great cause, a great program. The kollel just does amazing things. Every single one of the guys here is not just here to play football but also to grow in their Judaism. It’s outstanding.”

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mitzvot from the heart Jacob Andreasson Congregation Temple Israel Wanting to carry on his grandfather’s legacy at the Boys and Girls Town in St. James, Mo., Jacob reached out to his friends to help him create a special day of sports for the 30 children who reside there. His grandfather, Bill “Pop” Wallis, was a very active volunteer who served on the Board of Directors. He died in March 2001 of melanoma. Son of Rachel and Thomas Andreasson of Sullivan, Mo., Jacob made sure that the resident kids were going to have a fun time. He set up several sports stations such as a football throw, basketball hoops, washer games, a baseball throw, and an obstacle course. Jacob and his friends were team leaders; each had about five kids on a team. Everyone enjoyed lunch together and at the end of the day, each child went home with a sports

bag, water bottle and Frisbee. “It was hard to tell who enjoyed it more, Jacob and his friends or the kids at Boys and Girls Town,” said Rachel Andreasson. In lieu of gifts for his bar mitzvah, Jacob requested that his guests make a donation to the Bill Wallis Recreation Center on the Boys and Girls Town campus in his honor. He wanted the money to go towards new sports equipment. After collecting $5,296, Jacob, a student at Sullivan Middle School, realized that with a little effort in showing that you care, one can really make an impact on his or her life. “I think that helping others by taking action before one is asked and mending the world through acts of love and kindness is the way I want to try and live my life and carry on the examples others set before me,” said Jacob. “The programs at the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri provide care and compassion that help children and their families succeed and flourish. “I know Pop would be very proud of me,” he added.

Charlie O’Gorman

their journey. The Ronald McDonald House games were immediately put to use: Two girls who were very disappointed because they missed their eighth grade graduation were given the pick of the pile. The Karen House families used their games to relieve some of the stress the families face. “Charlie gets a special thrill when he visits his grandmother at the Brentmoor and sees that everyone is using the bingo game,” said his mother, Sheri. “Charlie helped the community by giving them an opportunity to generously put smiles on faces of hundreds of people in need. Tikkun olam may have gained a secondary meaning: repairing the world…one smile at a time,” she added.

Temple Israel Tikkun olam, “repairing the world”, was the basis for Charlie’s mitzvah project. The beginning of his project helped people with their spring-cleaning and recycling while the ending put smiles on everyone’s face. Son of Sheri and Sean O’Gorman of the Central West End, Charlie contacted three local charities to see if they would accept donations of recycled board games. All were very receptive. He asked the Ronald McDonald House for their families with children being treated at local hospitals, the Karen House for families in crisis, and the Brentmoor Retirement Community. With a green light from these charities, he requested that the community support his project. Fellow students and facility and staff at Crossroads College Preparatory School cleaned out their closets. The community of Temple Israel joined him over a three-week toy drive and generously gave. Family and friends joined in and donated piles of board games as well. Every major toy brand was represented, from the Game of Life to Chutes and Ladders, from Monopoly to Trivial Pursuit (all 12 versions). Charlie then assessed the games for quality, type, and suitability before sorting them into groups for children, families and seniors. He realized that something was missing from the seniors’ pile, Bingo. So, taking an advance from the gifts he received for his bar mitzvah, he purchased the “Deluxe Bingo” to round out the selection. All in all there were over 100 items donated. Next, Charlie shrink-wrapped the games into groups of six to 10 games. These giftwrapped piles were then shared with the guests at his bar mitzvah luncheon as centerpieces, decorated with ribbons and balloons. Removed from dark closets, reclaimed and reused as centerpieces, these games had one more stop on stljewishlight • Keep up with the latest news • Share articles, photos, and videos with Facebook friends • Post your photos, links, and opinions on the Jewish Light Facebook wall • Stay connected to the St. Louis Jewish community, no matter where you are!


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Lester Zeffren, 84; first St. Louis oncologist, co-founder of Young Israel BY ROBERT A. COHN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Dr. Lester Zeffren, the first medical oncologist in the St. Louis area and a cofounder and past president of Young Israel synagogue, died Thursday, Dec. 19. Dr. Zeffren died of natural causes, his son, Dr. Jacob Zeffren said. He was 84, and a longtime resident University City. Joel Lester Zeffren was born in St. Louis on Jan. 12, 1929, the son of Israel and Jean Funk Zeffren. He attended the first two years of high school at the Yeshivah Tora Vod Aath in New York City, and returned to St. Louis to attend Soldan High School from which he graduated in the late 1940s.  He did his undergraduate work at St. Louis University and because of his excellent academic record, he was admitted to St. Louis University Medical School even before he completed  his undergraduate studies.  He earned his medical degree from the university in 1952 and began his long practice in St. Louis. Dr. Zeffren was the first medical oncologist in St. Louis, and was in practice for over 50 years. He was the first chief of oncology at St. Louis University

Medical Center. He was on the private attending staff at Jewish Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish) and Missouri Baptist Medical Center for decades. He was a former president of the St. Louis Society for Medical Oncology and a former president of the medical staff at St. Louis University Medical Center. Dr. Zeffren was renowned for the compassionate care he provided for all of his patients, and was beloved and admired by his colleagues in medicine, nurses and staff. Carl Lyss, a fellow physician, was one of the many friends and associates of Dr. Zeffren who attended his funeral on Friday, Dr. Lester said, “He was not only Zeffren the first medical oncologist in St. Louis, but he contributed greatly to our Jewish community and who also was a lovely human being.” Dr. Zeffren was widely known for being available to all of his patients at all hours of the night. He had a warm and engaging personality, a deep intellect and a strong devotion to his synagogue, Young Israel, of which he was a co-

founder, life member and a past president, and was a tireless advocate for Jewish education in St. Louis. Jacob Zeffren fondly recalled being present when Dr. Zeffren had “deep intellectual discussions” with a cousin, Alan Zeffren, who now resides in Israel. Dr. Zeffren and his late wife Matilda were honored by Young Israel at a gala dinner on Nov. 5, 1983, which was held at the Airport Marriott Hotel. At the dinner, Rabbi Jeffrey Bienenfeld, then rabbi of Young Israel, spoke enthusiastically of the Zeffrens’ commitment not only to Young Israel but to the entire St. Louis Jewish community. “The sterling virtue of Abraham and Sarah, chesed (kindness) distinguishes the life of Lester and Matilda Zeffren. It is the mark of their greatness.” In accepting the award, a Yossi Stern watercolor, Dr. Zeffren said he did so “in honor of my wife, who has been an example to me and to our children and who always encouraged me to walk the straight path.” Over 200 people attended the event. In addition to his leadership positions at Young Israel, Dr. Zeffren was a former president of the St. Louis Rabbinical

College, a former board member of the Central Agency for Jewish Education, the Vaad Hoeir and of the H. F. Epstein Hebrew Academy. He was also an active supporter of Torah Prep School, the Esther Miller Bais Yakov and Block Yeshiva High School, as well as the St. Louis Kollel. Funeral services were held Friday, Dec. 20, at the Berger Memorial Chapel, where Rabbi Moshe Shulman of Young Israel and Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt of Agudas Israel officiated. Burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery on Ladue Road. Survivors include three sons, Dr. Jacob “Yak” Zeffren, of Teaneck, N.J., Dr. Barry “Dov” (Tziona) Zeffren and David (Mira) Zeffren of Los Angeles. His fourth son was the late Rabbi Gershon “Jonathan” (Donna) Zeffren. He had 19 grandchildren and 18 greatgrandchildren. He also is survived by a brother, Rabbi Burton Zeffren, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Contributions are preferred to Young Israel of St. Louis, H. F. Epstein Hebrew Academy, Agudas Israel, Torah Prep, Esther Miller Bais Yaakov or Block Yeshiva High School.

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DECEMBER 25, 2013



obituaries ALBERT I. BROWN, died December 16, 2013. Beloved husband of Ruth M. Frankel Brown for 65 years.  Dear father of Linda (Gary) Domrese, Dr. Marc (Tina) Brown and Todd (Sheila) Brown.  Loving grandfather of Carey (Brandon) Rodriguez, Ryan (Mikki) Domrese, Jonathan, Benjamin, Sam and Adam Brown.  Dear great grandfather of Jake and Nathan Rodriguez and Colt Domrese.  Beloved brother of Jerry (Pam) Brown and Robert (Roberta) Brown.  Our dear uncle, cousin and friend. Contributions to the charity of the donor’s choice. Rindskopf-Roth

CLARA SEGALL, nee Goorman, died December 13, 2013. Beloved wife of the late Charles. Cherished mother of Bonnie (Neal) Rubin and Sandra (James) Rothschild. Adored grandmother of Laurie (Adam) Glaser, Karie Rubin (Donovan Fones), Debra Rubin, Cori (Michael) Sices, Marci (Mark) Simokaitis, Brian, and Phillip Rothschild. Loving great-grandmother of Hannah, Samantha and Zachary Glaser; Zoe & Juliet Fones; Jonah, Aidan, & Emily Sices; and Shelby, Beckham, and Bennett Simokaitis. Devoted mother-in-law, sister, sister-inlaw, aunt, great aunt, cousin, and friend of many. She was a revered teacher and a dedicated volunteer. Rindskopf-Roth

M A RSH A LL M. FRIEDM A N, died December 15, 2013. Beloved husband of Mary E. Friedman and the late CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 Marilyn Finke Friedman.  Dear father JOSHUA B. SILVERMAN, died of Karin (Tom) Krakover and Jules December 17, 2013; beloved husband of (Pam Kachenmeister) Friedman.  Tina Silverman; dear son of Barry and Loving grandfather of Jamie and Erin Susan Silverman; dear brother of the late Krakover and Grace Friedman.  Sarah Silverman; dear grandson of the Beloved brother of Manuel (Mildred) late Edward and the late Sophie Friedman, Seymour “Teddi” (Paulette) Silverman and the late Marvin “Murph” Friedman and Rita Silverman.  Our and the late Pearl Haffner; dear nephew dear step-father, step-grandfather, of Nancy (Alvin Reiter, MD) Haffner brother-in-law, uncle, cousin and friend. Reiter, Randy Haffner and Michael Mr. Friedman was a decorated WW II Haffner; dear son in law of Frank veteran, having served in the Air Force. (Wendy) Tyler and Linda Lemmer-Tyler; Contributions to the Jewish War dear brother in law of Major Bruce Veterans or to any other veteran related L. (Lindsey)Tyler, Michael D. Tyler, charity of the donor’s choice. Rindskopf- Ashley (Brandon) Eaves and Hayley Tyler. Our dear cousin and friend. Roth Contributions preferred to Combat BEVERLY J. LAMBERG, died Veterans Cowboy Up, Moon Fall December 20, 2013. Beloved wife of the Ranch,5937 Highway 86, PO Box 1287, late Lester Lamberg. Dear mother of Dr. Elizabeth, Colo. 80107. Berger Memorial Robert Lamberg, William (Cindy Rhoades) Lamberg, Judy (Art) Lewis MARY WEINER, died December 16, and John Lamberg.  Loving grandmoth- 2013; beloved wife of the late Harry er of Melanie Lamberg.  Dear sister of Weiner; dear mother and mother-in-law the late Albert (Sarah) Fisher and of  Shaw Weiner, Steven (Cheryl) Weiner Irvin (Orene) Fisher.  Beloved sister-in- and Debra (Neal) Samuels; dear sister law of Bettymae (the late Marvin) and sister-in-law of  Sadie (Joseph) Blum.  Our dear aunt, great aunt, cousin Hamer, late Ben Katz, late Lillie (late and friend. Contributions to the Sam),Weitzbuch, late Al (late Ruth) Katz, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, late Julius (Geri) Katz, and the late Betty C/O Washington University School of (late Maurice) Smithberg; dear aunt, Medicine, Campus Box 8111, 4488 great-aunt, and friend. Contributions to Forest Park Blvd, Suite 130, St. Louis, American Heart Association 460 N. Mo. 63108 or to Temple Israel. Lindbergh St Louis, Mo. 63141 preferred. Rindskopf-Roth Berger Memorial

JOEL LESTER ZEFFREN, M.D., died  December 19, 2013    beloved husband of the late Matilda Zeffren; dear father and father in law of Jacob “Yak” (Corrine) Zeffren, MD of Teaneck, NJ, Barry “Dov” (Tziona) Zeffren, MD, David (Mira) Zeffren of Los Angeles, CA and the late Rabbi Gershon “Jonathan” (Donna) Zeffren; dear grandfather of 19;

dear great grandfather of 18; dear brother of Rabbi Burton Zeffren; our dear uncle, cousin and friend. Memorial contributions preferred to Young Israel of St. Louis, H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy, Agudas Israel, Torah Prep, Esther Miller Bais Yaakov or Block Yeshiva High School. For more on Dr. Zeffren’s life, see story on page 22. Berger Memorial

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