MAGAZINE OF NA’AMAT USA
Summer 2015 Vol. 30 No. 3
Editor Judith A. Sokoloff Art Director Marilyn Rose Editorial Committee Harriet Green Sylvia Lewis Elizabeth Raider Edythe Rosenfield Lynn Wax Marcia J. Weiss NA’AMAT USA Officers PRESIDENT Elizabeth Raider
Israel: (Unofficial) Fertility Capital of the World................................................ 4 Israelis are the highest per capita users of IVF in the world — and many non-residents take advantage of the country’s affordable, top quality fertility treatments. By Michele Chabin
Discovering the First Jewish House in North America........................................ 8 A symbol of Jewish pioneering and initiative, the 1713 Gomez Mill House in New York tells a story of American Jewish contributions to the United States. By Jeanette Friedman
Na’amat News................................................................................................. 14 Na’amat president goes undercover, a school remembers a star student and brave soldier, high school students exhibit their work at a Jaffa museum, Na’amat promotes gender equality in the workplace — and more.
VICE PRESIDENTS Jan Gurvitch Ivy Liebross Gail Simpson Marcia J. Weiss
President’s Message By Elizabeth Raider .......................................... 3 Life in Israel: Intensive Arabic: By Abbie Rosner............................... 12
TREASURER/FINANCIAL SECRETARY Debbie Kohn
Take Action! Let’s Stop the Attack on Reproductive Freedom By Marcia J. Weiss.................................... 18
RECORDING SECRETARY Debby Firestone
Heart to Heart: Boys and Their Toys
CHAIR/NATIONAL FUNDS Harriet Green
By Judith Sudilovsky............................................ 19
Book Reviews............................................... 22
Na’amat Woman (ISSN 0888-191X) is published quarterly (fall, winter, spring, summer) by Na’amat USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to NA’AMAT USA National Office, 21515 Vanowen St., Suite 102, Canoga Park, CA 91303. For change of address, contact email@example.com, phone 818-431-2200 or write to national office in California. Editorial and advertising, contact Judith@naamat.org, phone 212-563-5222 or write to Na’amat Woman, 505 Eighth Ave., #12A04, New York, NY 10018. Signed articles represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Na’amat USA or its editor. Websites: www.naamat.org and www.naamatwoman.com
Around the Country....................................... 28 Our cover: Students from Na’amat’s high schools exhibited their artwork at the Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa. Shown are three students and their teacher at the opening. Photo courtesy of Ilana Goor Museum.
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Mission Statement The mission of Na’amat USA is to enhance the status of women and children in Israel and the United States as part of a worldwide progressive Jewish women’s organization. Its purpose is to help Na’amat Israel provide educational and social services, including day care, vocational training, legal aid for women, absorption of new immigrants,
community centers, and centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. Na’amat USA advocates on issues relating to women’s rights, the welfare of children, education and the United States-Israel relationship. Na’amat USA also helps strengthen Jewish and Zionist life in communities throughout the United States. Na’amat USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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his fall marks Na’amat USA’s 90th anniversary as a vital organization and sister movement to Na’amat Israel. From our inception in 1925, we have continually played an important role in the growth of the Jewish state. It’s been a remarkable achievement, especially when you recall our modest beginnings: A handful of women in New York responded to a plea for funds to dig a well for a girls’ agricultural school near Jerusalem. The needs of women, and then of children, continued to increase — and members in the United States kept rising to the challenges. Na’amat eventually became the largest women’s movement in Israel. The past organizational year was a particularly busy one for the Na’amat USA national office as it completed directives from the national board. Some of the accomplishments: • Our DonorPerfect database program for membership has been updated and will now include donor-tracking. This arduous task was accomplished by the national office with the help of our areas, councils and clubs. • Renewal procedures for annual membership are now being implemented by the national membership department. • Revised certificates and scholarship forms reflect our currentcategories for fundraising and contributions. • A new Na’amat USA website will be more user-friendly, will showcase pages for area news and
events, and sport an attractive new look. • Our informative national newsletter “What’s Up With Na’amat?” is being published every two months with news on Na’amat activities and special features. • Starting this fall, Na’amat Woman magazine will be published three times a year in an expanded print format (also accessible online). The plans for celebrating our 90th year include many opportunities for all clubs and councils to do fundraising, public relations and community events. There will be ways for all members to participate in this special “diamond” year. Na’amat USA vice presidents are working on ideas and programs to use for outreach in local communities and will be contacting the area offices with details. Be sure to use our stunning 90th anniversary logo, which appears on this page, to publicize events and enliven communications. Also for this milestone, Na’amat USA is launching its third fundraising circle campaign. The Circle of Life will provide much needed women’s services in Israel —
legal aid, prevention and treatment of family violence, education and enrichment, and advocacy for women’s rights (see page 31 for information). Let’s stand up for the women of Israel by supporting this major campaign! A terrific item to share with others now and for the coming year is the new video of highlights from the recent Na’amat International Solidarity Conference in Israel. Viewers will get a taste of this extraordinary trip through Israel with our seven-country delegation. You’ll see us tour Na’amat installations, visit Israeli landmarks and meet Israeli dignitaries and Na’amat activists. You can watch the 30-minute video online at https://goo.gl/xgLZT1 and also connect to it on the Na’amat USA Facebook page. As members of Na’amat USA, you can be proud of the invaluable impact we have made in helping Israeli women, children and families during so many years of dedication and hard work. Thank you all for making it possible to provide Na’amat Israel with the funding to make our dreams for a vibrant and progressive society come true. May we continue to grow from strength to strength!
ISRAEL: (Unofficial) Fertility Capital of the World Israelis are the highest per capita users of IVF in the world, and many non-residents take advantage of the country’s affordable, top-quality fertility treatments. by MICHELE CHABIN
“We’re solidly middle-class, but there was no way we could afford more than one round of IVF, and we knew it often takes more than one treatment to conceive,” says Sarah, who is self-employed. “Then a friend told me how she and her husband went to Israel for treatments and we should consider it, too.” A Google search revealed to the couple that resident Israeli citizens enjoy free fertility treatments (within limits). Non-Israeli “fertility tourists” pay about $7,500 for an IVF cycle and costly medications at the country’s top hospitals and clinics. Although clinics in Cyprus and parts of Europe offer similarly priced or even less expensive treatments, Sarah, who is Jewish, had cousins in Israel who assured her that the medical care, especially related to
IVF, is world class. “We did a lot of research, weighed the pros and cons, and decided to do IVF in Israel,” Sarah recalls. “We waited until summer, when we were able to rent out our home, and we rented a studio apartment in Tel Aviv not far from the beach. It felt like a vacation even though my husband and I worked almost every day, thanks to our computers and Skype.”
While fertility treatments often don’t work the first time around, Sarah became pregnant during her very first IVF cycle. “It felt like a miracle,” she says. “Our daughter is almost 2, and if we have trouble conceiving next time, we plan to return to Tel Aviv.” In 2014, about 15,000 women grappling with infertility underwent a total of 40,000 IVF treatment cycles in Israel, according to CHEN, the Patient Fertility Association of Israel. IVF is one of the most effective forms of assisted reproductive technology. Fertility treatment is one of the most prioritized fields of medicine in
Israel. Free treatments (and affordable ones for non-citizens) coupled with a strong societal push to procreate have made Israel the unofficial fertility treatment capital of the world. And it has the highest birth rate (3 children per woman vs. 1.7 children per woman) in the developed world, according to a study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies. Karen Friedman, director of Gefen, a Jerusalem organization that assists infertile women through yoga and other mind-body enhancing activities, believes Israelis feel the push to have children for a number of powerful reasons. “We are a Zionist society, a country built in the shadow of the Holocaust, still rebuilding what we lost,” says Friedman. And sadly, because of Israel’s security situation, “having one child isn’t enough” due to wars and terrorism. If a child has no siblings, the parents must sign off before their child is accepted into an IDF combat unit. While that has made Israel incredibly child-friendly, the mother of eight explains that this focus on the next generation actually puts pressure on people to have at least two children and ideally more. And that makes infertility all the more painful. “In America or France you can have one child and you’re okay in relation to the norms of those societies,” Friedman observes. “In Israel, and not only if you’re religious, children are your calling card into society. Holidays, Friday night dinners and public celebrations are child-centered, and those who don’t have kids are considered out of it. It hurts an infertile person’s self-esteem and unconsciously marginalizes them.” Ofra Balaban, chairperson of CHEN, agrees there is “huge” social pressure for couples and even some unmarried women to have children. “We have a joke about it,” Balaban says. “As a couple is getting married the rabbi says, ‘I’ll see you in nine months. I also SUMMER 2015
fter failing to get pregnant during their first three years of marriage, Sarah, 35, and her husband, Noah, 40, felt it was time to begin fertility treatments. Unfortunately, their barebones United States health insurance policies didn’t cover IVF (in vitro fertilization), the treatment recommended by Sarah’s gynecologist. Eager to have a baby, Sarah (both she and her husband requested pseudonyms) began researching the price of IVF treatments in the East Coast city where they live and discovered it would cost nearly $20,000 per IVF cycle including the cost of fertility related medications.
do circumcisions.’ There are a lot of rabbis like this.” In the past, notes Balaban, the fertility push encouraged some doctors and patients to do more than 20 cycles of IVF in the hopes of producing a child. Those days are over, in part thanks to CHEN’s efforts to encourage the Ministry of Health to regulate the country’s huge fertility industry more effectively. “Three years ago I asked the Health Ministry to develop regulations for ethical and rational fertility treatments based on the premise that if fertility treatments fail over and over again, you should send the woman for tests to see what could be the problem. Otherwise, she might do 20, even 25 failed IVF cycles while what she needed was different treatment such as an egg donation.” As of February 2014, the Health Ministry stopped automatically funding unlimited IVF treatments through the second live birth, a move that upset some infertility patients. Under the new regulations, all infertile Israeli women under 42 receive up to eight free IVF cycles. If the treatments produce no eggs or embryos viable enough to survive in the uterus, the women and their doctors must discuss the reasons that the treatments aren’t working and proceed to diagnostic testing. If the problem is insurmountable, the country’s ministry-funded health funds (like American HMOs) will not pay for additional treatments. (Patients denied more treatments can appeal to a Ministry of Health committee.) If a woman is 42 to 45, she must confer with her doctor after three unsuccessful IVF treatment cycles in which the embryo failed to implant. On the flip side, the regulations make it easier for women aged 39 and over to immediately start fertility treatments. Previously, the Ministry of Health required women this age to try other less invasive treatments like hormone injections and permitted IVF only after other treatments had failed. Statistics from the U.S.-based Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies show that as many as 40 percent of women under 35 have a live birth using fertility treatments compared with just 12 percent of women aged 41 and 42. 6
Interviewed when the regulations were first announced, Dina Pinner, a co-founder of Kayama, a support group for religious single women in Israel, called them “extremely nerve-racking.” She continued: “We all know women who suddenly became pregnant after 11 tries, 15 tries” of IVF, who had babies at 44 or 45 with their own eggs. Having to discuss the situation after a certain amount of tries is a brilliant idea, but forcing women in Israel, who earn so little money as it is, to pay for treatments if the first ones fail just isn’t fair,” But Professor Eliezer Shalev, chairman of the Ministry of Health’s com-
In Israel, children are your calling card into society. Holidays, Friday night dinners and public celebrations are child-centered, and those who don’t have kids are considered out of it. mittee that created the new regulations, says the added scrutiny “will save valuable time” for people dealing with infertility. “For me, as a physician, it is horrible to see women under so much emotional and physical distress due to fertility treatments that you know won’t succeed 100 percent.” Benjamin Rubinoff, chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Hadassah Medical Center’s Ein Kerem campus, says the 2014 regulations are vital because they require the physician to evaluate the treatments’ effectiveness and encourage responsible spending of public funds. “I think it’s in the best interest of the couples and the public to require an independent professional committee of specialists to make a medical decision
about whether to continue treatments or try new ones. After all, these treatments are covered by the public health care system.” If the committee instructs the health funds not to fund further treatments, Rubinoff adds, patients have the option to pay privately for treatments either in Israel or abroad, just as medical tourists do. And there are legal limits related to a woman’s age. Israeli law bans Israelbased IVF treatments and egg donations in women over the age of 54. This past May, Haya Shahar, a 65-year-old ultra-Orthodox Israeli woman, gave birth to a healthy baby boy at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, not far from Tel Aviv. According to media reports, she had been trying to have a child throughout her 46-year marriage. The oldest woman to give birth in Israel, it is assumed Shahar underwent IVF abroad, using donor eggs and possibly donor sperm. After the birth made headlines worldwide, Dr. Tal Biron, an obstetriciangynecologist at the Kfar Saba hospital, told The Jerusalem Post that he and his colleagues “do not recommend” fertility treatments to women of such an advanced age. “It is illegal to perform in vitro fertilization on a woman of this age and it is dangerous. There can be many possible complications,” ranging from a higher rate of miscarriage and premature labor to low birth weights and preeclampsia. At this age, pregnancy is “an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body.” Shahar and her husband said they received a blessing from a rabbi two years before she became pregnant, crediting him for the birth. Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, director of the PUAH Institute, an ultraOrthodox organization that helps Jews from all religious backgrounds navigate fertility treatments and Jewish law, said that while most rabbis would not encourage a woman in her late 50s or 60s to get pregnant, “every case is different and has to be based on the individual.” Weitzman says Jewish law “is generally very accepting of the process of fertility treatment when that is what is required, up to the most intensive treatments. There are poskim [rabbis who issue rulings] who will permit surrogacy, in rare cases, if that is what is needed.”
The rabbi recalls he once knew of a woman in her early 50s who wanted to do artificial insemination with her own eggs, but that “there is no chartered case that suggested she would be successful. Medically, the only thing she could do is egg donation.” Had the woman asked for his halachic stamp of approval to use her own eggs, “I don’t think I would have permitted it,” Weitzman says. While some cases like the 65-yearold first-time mother’s treatment sound outlandish, Weitzman points out that “each case is individual. Maybe a couple’s rabbi knows something I don’t know and is more permissive because he knows the details.”
ronically, despite Israel’s status as a leader in fertility treatments, most Israeli women needing donor eggs to conceive must go overseas because there aren’t enough donor eggs available in Israel. That’s largely due to a scandal in 2000, when a handful of Israeli fertility doctors illegally harvested eggs from women undergoing treatments and implanted them in other infertile women without the donors’ knowledge. Since then, women have been very reluctant to donate their eggs to other women. The cost of egg donations performed in Israel is completely covered by the health funds while donations via treatment abroad are partially reimbursed (patients pay $6,500). This cost makes it difficult for some Israelis to become pregnant. “The rules related to egg donations changed a few years ago,” explains Balaban, whose two children were conceived using donor eggs. “In the past, only women who were themselves undergoing IVF could donate their eggs to other infertile women. Today, the donor doesn’t have to be undergoing treatment.” Even so, less than 100 egg donation procedures took place in Israel last year at the six fertility centers. Israeli donors earn about $5,000 per procedure to offset the time they must take off from work. To increase the pool of local donors, CHEN places ads on university campuses asking students to donate. Balaban says she has encouraged the Health Ministry to pay for the ordinarily costly storage of a woman’s eggs
provided she donates at least 50 percent of the eggs retrieved from her ovaries following a round of hormone treatments. “We’re hoping the ministry will heed our recommendations,” she says. Another source of frustration for some Israelis is the regulation permitting only heterosexual couples to utilize a surrogate mother. New Family, an organization that advocates for equal rights for all families in Israel, has lobbied for the right of single women and gay men to seek the services of women who can carry their embryos in their wombs. Their only option now is to hire a surrogate mother in some U.S. states or a small number of other places. Surrogacy arrangements typically cost tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum. In 2013, of the 227 surrogate births arranged by Israelis, 162 took place abroad. Of these, 82 were for heterosexual couples who could not conceive in Israel. Surrogacy has been legal in Israel since 1996, a time when Israeli society was more conservative than now, but the law “has to catch up to Israeli society today,” says Rabbi Seth Farber, director of ITIM, an organization that helps people navigate through the Israeli government bureaucracy. He notes that there have been some attempts in the Knesset to update the 1996 law, “which unfortunately doesn’t take into account societal changes.” A year ago, a landmark bill to permit gay couples as well as single men and women to obtain surrogacy was approved by the Israel cabinet but has since been suspended. If it were up to Farber, a modern Orthodox rabbi, surrogacy in Israel would become much more accessible. As it is, “at ITIM we get probably 100 phone calls a year from families who have spent tens of thousands of dollars abroad on surrogacy,” Farber says. “When they arrive back in Israel, they discover their children aren’t Jewish unless both the child’s genetic material and the surrogate are Jewish,” something almost unheard of outside Israel. Farber adds, “There must be a morally and halachically acceptable way to do surrogacy in Israel, the sooner the better.” The issue recently grabbed headlines when the devastating Nepal earthquake revealed that many Israelis — some of
them gay couples — were in Nepal at the time waiting for surrogates to give birth to their children or were taking care of their newborns. One gay couple airlifted to Israel right after the quake had four newborns in tow: two sets of twins from two surrogate mothers.
or the vast majority of Israelis who do undergo fertility treatments in Israel, there is an abundance of emotional and logistical support from non-profit organizations. Some of these services are also available to fertility tourists. CHEN operates a hotline and support groups (including one in the Bedouin city of Rahat) for patients and families seeking encouragement, information and advice on fertility treatments. It also advocates on behalf of patients whose health care providers may not be supplying the treatments and medications they are legally entitled to. The organization provides legal advice via volunteer lawyers and a “Patient-toPatient Net” that twins a patient with someone who has already gone through the same treatment or experience. The Rimon Mind Body Fertility Center at Hadassah Mt. Scopus, a project of the Gefen organization, provides free workshops to women and some men undergoing fertility treatments. The center’s 10- to 12-week mind-body workshops, which take place at Hadassah and elsewhere, focus on teaching women how to reduce stress and lower depression. The workshops also act as a support system. The center’s weekly yoga fertility workshops do the same. There is a separate workshop for women considering egg donation and another for men with fertility challenges. Friedman, Gefen’s founder, has also created separate specialized workshops for ultra-Orthodox women and men dealing with infertility, which is a taboo subject in a society where having 8, 10 or even 12 children is the norm. Friedman says that although the Israeli government offers free fertility treatments “and that’s amazing, there is no real government-sponsored psychological support that holds these women’s hands when they’re going through the treatments and being pumped continued on page 26 SUMMER 2015
Discovering the First Jewish House in North America The What? Where? You Must Be Kidding!
t happened by accident. My sister and I discovered the Gomez Mill House about 20 years ago. She was on the hunt for a bed and breakfast in the Lower Hudson Valley — having escaped a bad marriage in Bnai Brak, Israel. She brought me along for the ride, and it got pretty wild. We ended up in a Victorian B&B right on the banks of the Hudson in Newburgh, New York, run by two former school teachers from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, both of Italian extraction. As we chatted, my sister mentioned that I was editing a Jewish magazine. “Girl,” said one, “you must call Mildred Starin. She lives in the Gomez the
Jew House on Jew’s Creek.” “The WHAT?!” Bemused, they repeated in unison, “The Gomez the Jew House on Jew’s Creek.” “WHERE?!” Was that some kind of racial slur? My ears were popping. We were right below the Beacon Bridge. Was traffic noise playing with my ears? Nope. Then they told us the story about this incredible lady Millie and insisted I get in touch with her. That’s exactly what I did a week or so later — and wrote a story for the magazine.
I’ve revisited the house a number of times since because it has a fascinating history. And many people still don’t know about it. When I first drove up to the house, which stands barely 200 feet from 9W North, about 60 miles north of the George Washington Bridge, I realized that I had driven past the turnoff hundreds of times and never knew it was there. It’s been there for 301 years. To the left is a fieldstone wall and to the right is Jew’s Creek — a shimmering, skittering stream that powers the restored paper mill that sits over it. An arched doorway in the stone
Photos courtesy of Gomez Foundation for Mill House.
by JEANETTE FRIEDMAN
wall leads to the blockhouse, with one of the original millstones embedded in the walk to the split front door. The unpaved road was once an old Native American footpath that led down to the Devil’s Dance Chamber. Here the Lenni-Lenape tribe held ceremonial dances that scared the pants off Henry Hudson and his crew when they moored the Half Moon nearby. The house was built circa 1714 by a Sephardic Jew, Luis Moses Gomez (1654/60-1740). I knew nothing about it — and in the 14 years I spent in New York Jewish schools, no one ever told us such a place existed. And not even in college! Back then, we learned about the Dutch and the Pilgrims, not the Jews. If anyone was mentioned, it was Hayyim Solomon, known as the financier of the American Revolution, and that story wasn’t properly told either. Now, as I drove up to the house to meet Millie Starin, there stood before me, in a field of glowing day lilies, amazing evidence of Jewish life in the New World, a Jewish world few of us know anything about. As American Jews we need to know more about that American Jewish history. It’s something to be proud of. According to Dr. Ruth Abrahams, executive director of the Gomez Foundation for Mill House, that’s precisely why the house will become a living museum, where people can learn about American Jewish contributions in the context of a fuller picture of American history. In a wide-ranging conversation, Abrahams said that self-tours will incorporate new historical documentation discovered in research conducted before the house’s 300th anniversary. Context will be added to the narrative on the Mill House and its relationship to local history, maps, highway and river travel, specific details of trade and commerce of Gomez and all the historical figures who lived in the house. Abrahams told me that research also uncovered some anomalies in the known or familiar stories that are not substantiated or just not true. The Gomez Mill House website is being redesigned and there will be a new online page, GMH Mysteries and Mythology. This section will include a true/false test on such favorite stories as “Gomez
gave John Jacob Astor his start in the fur trade” and “the Mill House was a stop on the Underground Railroad and the secret door in the Hunter Library was the access point.” This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mill House’s acclaimed educational program, with more than 20,000 students visiting the house and mill. The program, founded by staff member Janet Gant, reflects the mission of the foundation. It is what Millie Starin envisioned when she began to restore the house, as the foundation’s mission statement says, “…to educate the public through tours and programs about the contributions of Jews to the founding of America and the contributions of all former Mill House owners to the multicultural history of the Hudson River Valley.” Abrahams sent me documents describing how students are introduced to numerous “thought-provoking historic and contemporary themes. … They include historic preservation and conservation, architecture, and the overarching themes of the Mill House history of Freedom, Tolerance and Opportunity, and the specific themes related to each of the five historic owners: entrepreneurism, American founding principles, American Revolutionary period history, history of Newburgh from the Dutch period to the present, arts and crafts history and papermaking, and civil rights and suffragist movements.” This is the now of it, but 20 years ago, I was about to meet Millie Starin for the first time. A vivacious senior with salt and pepper hair, she answered the back door and led me to the kitchen, with its fireplace hearth. She sat me down at a rough-hewn table in a dining nook in front of mullioned windows facing the lilies of the field and told me her story about the house. She said Gomez was a trader-merchant, a Converso refugee from the Spanish Inquisition, and that she felt the house reflected the real history of early America. Millie fought long and hard to get the house on the National Landmark Registry in 1973 — it is, after all, the oldest existing house built by a Jew in North America. Until it was purchased by the Gomez Foundation for Mill House in 1984, Millie and Jeff Starin
had owned it since 1948 and raised their four children there. A pre-revolutionary gem, the fieldstone and brick house is nestled in pastures that were in Lenni-Lenape territory. The area was settled by the Dutch and others coming up from New Amsterdam (renamed New York in 1664). In this region made famous by Washington Irving, gentlemen farmers now tend cornfields that once were Revolutionary War battlefields. A native of the area, Millie Starin discovered the house in the late 1930s when she was hired to exercise the owner’s horses. She fell in love with it. Deeply disappointed by the lack of appreciation the owners had for their home, she vowed one day it would be hers. She got herself engaged to the owners’ son, but when her mother found out, she forced Millie to give the ring back. “You don’t marry a guy because you love his house,” she told her daughter. “You have to love the guy.” A few years later she married Jeff Starin from Brooklyn. In 1946, when they were asked to housesit the Gomez Jew House, Jeff carried his very pregnant wife over the threshold, because, Millie said, she still felt that one day the house would be hers. It happened sooner than even she could believe. In 1947, the owners had to sell the house and move. Begging, borrowing and selling everything they had for the down payment, the Starins got a G.I. loan and bought the house. Millie approached the town historian, who gave her the ancient warranty on the house and its land. As a recognized preservationist in the Hudson Valley, she did what she could to restore the buildings to their original appearance and got the property listed on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places. She told me that previous owners brought back objects they had removed from the premises and stables. In the barn, Millie discovered a few antiques and brought them into the house. In the mid-1990s, the late Dr. Belle Rosenbaum, a mezuzot expert known as the Mezuzah Lady of Monsey, New York, presented the house with an Early American mezuzah. The house looked like a home, filled with old piecSUMMER 2015
On this page and next: Views of the interior of Gomez Mill House.
es like the four-poster bed, the spinning wheel and butter churn, and a Hanukkiah from one of the later inhabitants of the house, artist Dard Hunter.
here did the Gomez family come from? It seems Luis Moses Gomez’s father, Isaac, was a Spanish nobleman imprisoned in Spain as a Converso for 14 years. His wife and children escaped to France, where he eventually joined them. They made their way to England, then to the Caribbean, to Jamaica. There, Luis Gomez married Esther (nee Marquez or Markaze) by prearrangement, and they eventually had six sons. They immigrated to New York in 1703 (some sources say 1696), where he opened a general store and became an import/export shipper. At the time, the North River, as the Hudson River was known, was a major thoroughfare, and Gomez wandered upriver in his boat, like many merchants/ explorers. In the shadows of Storm King Mountain, just south of Newburgh, he traded with Native Americans and acted as a bridge between the colonials and the indigenous population. In 1705, Great Britain’s Queen Anne issued Gomez a Letter of Denization (which still exists), allowing him to buy land in the New World and have the same rights as Christians. This marked a great advance for Jewish civic
and economic freedom in America. Gomez ended up owning 6,500 acres of land around Newburgh and became a real estate broker in New York City. By 1728, Gomez was parnas (president) of the newly born congregation, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Shearith Israel. He bought land in what is now lower Manhattan for their cemetery, and just two years later, with support from the Sephardic communities in the Caribbean, they built a synagogue on Mill Street in Greenwich Village. Today, like the Gomez Mill House, it endures — located on West 70th Street on the Upper West Side. One Gomez son was a shochet (kosher butcher) and another was a mohel, and so the Gomez family, in addition to building a shul, was central in meeting the basic needs of an Orthodox community. (The congregation is still Orthodox, led by Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik, the nephew of one of the founders of Yeshiva University, Rabbi J.J. Soloveitchik.) It is rumored that the Gomez family paid far beyond the market price for the lands they bought, leading to speculation about anti-Semitism in Colonial America. While the specter of Jew hatred was not very visible, matters came to a head in 1737, when the men of the Gomez family and other Jews had a swing vote in a New York Assembly election. Afterwards, William Smith,
the future chief justice of New York, convinced the assembly that the majority gained through Jewish votes was illegal because Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Jews were then barred from voting. For almost 30 years, the Gomez men lived at the trading post (the Mill House), spending weekdays in the mountains, trading furs, supplies and tchotchkes with the locals. They also shipped lumber and lime to the growing city of New York. Shabbos was spent downriver in the city, so the men could go to shul. The blockhouse built by their slaves (Gomez freed them after seven years, as directed by the Torah) remains as the foundation and first floor of the Gomez Mill House. The slave quarters have been turned into the visitors’ center. Descendants of the Gomez family include prominent American Jews: Isaac Franks, one of George Washington’s aides; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo; and the poet Emma Lazarus, whose words “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” are engraved on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. No strangers to persecution, the Gomez family may have built the underground passageway leading to an escape route along Jew’s Creek. Some historians have wondered if the hidden passage was used as part
of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, but this is one of the myths recently debunked by new research. The second story of the Mill House was added by slaves belonging to one of George Washington’s lieutenants, Wolfert Ecker, who bought the house from Daniel Gomez around the time of the Revolutionary War. (He had been referred to as Acker, but documents recently came to light, revealing the error.) The bricks used for the second story were made on the banks of the Hudson River and brought the main part of the house into its present form. Ecker lived in the house for half a century. After he moved out, the house was neglected for decades. In the early 19th century, the house was bought by the William Henry Armstrong family. They were descendants of Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam, who tried to expel the first boatload of Jews who, in 1654, arrived in the colony. (The directors of the Dutch West India Company told the governor they were just as valuable as other members of the settlement and he had to back off.) During the half-century that Armstrong lived in the Mill House, the kitchen wing and garden walls were added. The house had many owners in the 1800s. Then, in 1903, it was purchased by Dard Hunter, an artist and American craftsman. He restored the
mill, where he created handmade paper prized for its quality. He began to restore the house and added furnishings designed by his friends in the Arts and Crafts movement. (The paper mill was restored in 2010.) After Hunter sold the house at the start of World War I, it went through another succession of owners, including social activist Martha Gruening. Then Millie Starin and her husband rescued it in 1948. Before I left the historic house during that first visit, she gave me corms from the thousands of day lilies on the property. She told me: “For almost 50 years, I was guardian of the stones, bricks and timbers that have been silent witness to a spirit of freedom and understanding in religious and racial matters. The house is a symbol of Jewish pioneering, of Jewish initiative, of unwavering vigor and endurance that has been silent too long.” Millie, who helped establish the Gomez Foundation for Mill House in 1979, retired in 1996. The foundation has been based at the Center for Jewish History in New York City since December 2000, and its board includes direct descendants of the historic owners and others. There are plans to move upstate. The foundation continues to restore and preserve the heritage Millie worked so hard to uncover. It also
works to educate the public about the significance of the Gomez House. Since its “discovery” by mainstream Jewish organizations, tens of thousands have visited the house. From April through October, visitors can enjoy exhibitions, concerts, open air festivals and more (website: www.gomez.org). Now 93 years old, Millie hopes the house will continue to tell the story of American Jewish contributions to the United States from the start, along with the story of American values of freedom and cooperation. She has one more story to tell me, one about the curse the Lenni-Lenapes put on the house, but I won’t hear it unless I go up to Newburgh and visit with her. But I do know that those few corms of daylilies she gave me line the driveway and yard of our former house. Like the Gomez Mill House, and Luis Moses’ descendants, they lived long and prospered. Jeanette Friedman is an author, freelance editor and writer, who lives in the Pocono Mountains. Reservations are required for groups of 10+ at least two weeks in advance. Telephone: 845-236-3126 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life in Israel
Perhaps the most important result of learning Arabic, a writer discovers, is that it expresses her effort to meet the other person halfway. by ABBIE ROSNER
akub set out from Beer Sabe’ah to find a wife,” I carefully sounded out each Arabic syllable I’d transliterated into my notebook. For our homework assignment, we were to choose a Bible story and tell it to the class in our own Arabic words, but unlike the more advanced students, I wasn’t ready to speak without notes. “Yakub?” Our teacher, Iyad, cut me off. “Yakub from Tel Abib? You mean Nebi Yakub. If you refer to the prophet, show
the appropriate respect.” I resumed the biblical narrative, describing the dream, the ladder and Nebi Yakub’s conversation with Allah. Again Iyad held up his hand. “Allah is an enormous and profound thing,” he said. “The way you pronounce his name should reflect that.” And then, from the depths of his diaphragm and the crux of his throat he summoned up a resounding “Allah” that I could only dream of reproducing. For years I have wanted to learn Arabic. Not literary
Arabic, or Fus’ha, the language of the Koran and the lingua franca of the Arab world. Just conversational Palestinian Arabic — as it is spoken by the farmers and homemakers I meet while researching and writing about traditional agriculture and foodways in the Galilee. While entering into conversation with an Arab man or woman for the first time is often fraught, bringing up the topic of food, even in Hebrew, usually helps dispel suspicion. Yet adding even a few words in Arabic, I found, could transform the quality of the encounter. A simple “Tscharraffna” — I am honored to meet you — inevitably elicited surprise, delight and the tangible relaxation of a certain tension. I learned Spanish in high school, French in college and Hebrew in an ulpan (a school for the intensive study of modern Hebrew). But after numerous attempts with informal classes, books and recordings yielded practically no results. It was clear that if I ever hoped to speak Arabic I’d need to up the academic ante. Givat Haviva in Wadi Ara, founded in 1949 as the National Education Center of the Kibbutz Federation, offers one of the country’s top Arabic studies programs. The language school is one of many of the center’s programs that promote an equitable and socially cohesive Israeli society. The fact that these days most of the students in its Arabic immersion course are headed for the Israel Defense Force’s intelligence corps is a sign of the times. But the Intensive Conversational Arabic course I enrolled in is strictly civilian. With me in the class are 10 young Israelis: conscientious objectors, activists and one aspiring terrorism expert. We study in two 90-minute sessions two evenings a week, starting with Iyad. He is a natural teacher and has been given the hardest job — escorting us through intricate verb structures, vocabulary and an endless list of rules and their inevitable irregularities. But Iyad also knows how to break up the tedium with karaoke singing, silly YouTube clips, and one evening, a virtuoso sampling of Middle Eastern music styles performed on a desktop synthesizer. After Iyad’s class, we break up into small groups for conversation with a rotating group of instructors. Khaled and Najla, a young married couple, use word games to coax us into speaking. With a dignified demeanor, Kher expounds on Islam and tells us tales from his five trips to Mecca making the haj. And the exceptionally lovely Fatina captures our hearts, sharing the dilemmas she faces as a Palestinian, an Israeli citizen and a single woman. For some of the young men in the pre-army course, Fatina is the first Arab person they have ever met. Knowing she is helping them see Arabs as three-dimensional people and not just “the enemy,” she tells us, helps overcome her ambivalence about the ultimate purpose of their studies. If literary Arabic is understood across the Arab world, spoken Arabic is intensely local. The Palestinian Arabic we are taught at Givat Haviva uses the pronunciation of the fellaheen (farm) towns of Wadi Ara. When I try to converse
with my friend from Nazareth, she laughs at my ruralsounding “hassa” (now) — compared with her cosmopolitan “issa.” Urbanites also tend to drop the “k” sound — so “kalbi” (my heart) becomes “albi.” But beware — replace the light “ka” with a guttural “ku” and “kulbi” becomes “my dog.” In Wadi Ara, “k” is pronounced “ch,” while Bedouin pronounce it with a hard “g.” Confusing? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yet one question arises over and over again: Why is it that two languages that emerged from the same Semitic origins — sharing a common root word structure and a broad swath of vocabulary — are so difficult to traverse between? Pronunciation may be the most formidable challenge, not just for me and my English mother tongue, but for native Hebrew-speakers as well. In the 19th century, when spoken Hebrew was roused out of hibernation by Ashkenazi linguists, the Semitic guttural vowels were smoothed over and are all but absent in contemporary Hebrew, except among some Yemenite speakers. Distinctions such as those between aleph and ayin, kaf and khaf, tet and taf, sin and samekh, which have disappeared in spoken Hebrew, are still extremely significant in the Arabic alphabet. Unfortunately, the different pronunciations of letters like “ka” and “ku” are often not only difficult to hear but even more confounding to pronounce. And without yet having learned the Arabic alphabet, I articulate words not knowing what letters are involved, so the chances of being understood correctly come down to context and goodwill. As the weeks go by, I measure progress in modest increments. In my lower moments, I remind myself that Arabic ranks with Mandarin among the hardest languages for English-speakers to learn. Yet now, listening to Arabic radio in the car, what was once white noise yields up distinct and recognizable words. With my Arab friends I tentatively string together complete sentences that sometimes actually hit the mark. “An-jad!” “Really!” By the end of the four-month course, I am able to follow the general theme of a conversation in Arabic and sometimes even make my own small contribution. But perhaps my most useful accomplishment is a mastery of the various greetings, blessings and their responses that are woven into any Arabic conversation: “Bless your hands,” “God willing,” “May you have strength.” And while I won’t be able to conduct an interview entirely in Arabic anytime soon, what I do know how to say expresses the effort I have made to meet the other person halfway. And in this part of the world, that is one very huge step. Abbie Rosner wrote “What I Learned About Ancient Traditions of Local Eating in the Galilee From My Arab Friends” in our winter 2014/2015 issue. She is the author of Breaking Bread in Galilee: A Culinary Journey in Galilee. Check out her blog: “Galilee Seasonality: Abbie Rosner’s Culinary Notebook From Northern Israel.” SUMMER 2015
Na’amat President Goes Undercover
alia Wolloch, president of Na’amat Israel, recently starred in the Israeli reality TV series “Undercover Boss.” Each episode features a senior executive who goes undercover as an entry-level employee to see what’s really happening. The disguised Wolloch worked for three days in two Na’amat day care centers and a high school as a caregiver, cook’s assistant and cleaning woman. The workers she befriended told her their poignant life stories and talked about their strong commitment to Na’amat. At the high school in Lod, Wolloch met Pnina, a widow who works as a cleaning woman. At the day care centers in Kiryat Motskin, Ofakim and Nes
Dads: Take Responsibility!
Ziona, she encountered Adee, a cook who prepares meals for the center’s 80 children; Ilana, a teacher who survived breast cancer; and Yehudit, a teacher who lost a son in a terrorist attack. “I never imagined I would meet such dedicated employees,” Wolloch said on the show. Viewers looking for problems were no doubt disappointed. At the finale of the oneand-half-hour show, Wolloch revealed her true identity to the employees and gave them each a special reward. For Adee, a dishwasher was installed in the day care kitchen, and she received a scholarship to culinary school.
“Each woman is so different and so wonderful,” Wolloch said. “It warms my heart. They are the face of Na’amat.”
n International Women’s Day on March 8, Na’amat launched a campaign to encourage fathers to become more equal partners and take responsibility through joint parenting. “The idea is that if fathers become partners in rearing their children, the gaps between mothers and fathers in the workplace will diminish and eventually disappear,” Na’amat president Galia Wolloch said in an interview in The Jerusalem Post. Employers — and society as a whole — see women as responsible for raising children, noted Wolloch, so when the time comes to promote an employee, employers prefer to promote a man. This leads to “ridiculous wage gaps” and inequality in the workplace. Wolloch posed these questions: Why should only women stay home to take
You can view the entire show online in Hebrew: In your browser, go to reshet.tv/shows/ undercoverboss.
care of the sick children? Why can’t fathers take a day off to take their kids to get vaccinated? Why can’t fathers pick up their children from preschool even twice a week? Why can’t fathers share the responsibility? As more dads assume the job of raising their children, “gender barriers will slowly break down and women will advance in the workplace and all areas of society,” Wolloch said. As part of the campaign, Na’amat opened a hotline for fathers wanting to become more involved in parenting and to learn more about their rights as employees. Mothers get three months paid maternity leave that they are entitled to share with fathers, though fewer than half of one percent of fathers do so. In an effort to promote gender equality, Na’amat is working to advance a bill sponsored by MK Erel Margalit (Labor), which would grant fathers three weeks of paid paternity leave in addition to the three months maternity leave granted to mothers. This would allow men to take on more parenting responsibilities, Wolloch said.
When Na’amat Is Close to Home
ophie Udin club, with many Na’amat USA members and other North Americans who have moved to the Jerusalem area, stays in close contact with the city’s Patt Day Care Center. People call the center “the jewel in the crown” of a neighborhood where many residents live below the poverty line, said member Judy Telman. Telman, who made aliyah in 1983, is a former vice president of Na’amat USA. She reported that if not for contributions from the club, “a number of children would not be able to remain in day care and get a head start.” Living in the Jerusalem area, Telman said, “it’s a joy for members to see their shekels put to work helping these kids get quality day care.” There’s Isabelle, whose mother is chronically ill and unable to work full time, and Orian, whose mother is a single parent with no other family. Liel’s mother is suffering from post-partum depression and can’t care for him properly. Yonatan’s parents, who are both cleaning workers, are unable to provide adequate food for the family. Adel’s parents are a young couple with no apartment of their own. Nathaniel comes from a very large family with many problems. Telman commented: “In some cases, both parents work but earn only minimum wage. They are very concerned about giving their children every opportunity to succeed. We help them as much as we can.”
Much More Than a Mom An excerpt from a talk by Galia Wolloch on the gender wage gap
very year in Israel, depressing statistics are published on the unacceptable wage gap of approximately 30 percent on average between women and men. The fact causing the most despair is that the gap has remained about the same for decades. It is no secret that one of the major causes of the gaps in status and wages is that women still tend to take on themselves, or accept, primary responsibility for child care. Even
though women have fully entered the job market and constitute about half of workers, women’s traditional role as caretakers of children has not been reduced accordingly. This dual burden makes it difficult for them to integrate and advance in the job market. There are those who claim that mothers choose to leave the job market on their own initiative to focus on their children. The women, themselves, are faulted for their inferior status, as if there are no women capable of being both good mothers and successful career women. They are also victimized by the notion that women deserve to be paid less since they are responsible for the home and family, and therefore their productivity will always be less than men’s. The majority of mothers do not resign from a job or compromise their standing in the workplace out of free choice. It’s the job market that gives up on mothers. Mothers suffer due to the structured inflexibility of the job market and an absence of family-friendly
frameworks that support the model of a family with two breadwinners. In recent years, more fathers have been wanting active involvement in the lives of their children. Both men and women feel that the job market is becoming increasingly demanding, and the price that the family pays is getting ever heavier. But a man who asks to be an active parent gets a cold shoulder at his workplace. If it were the norm that fathers leave earlier several times a week to spend time with their kids, the mothers could invest more hours at work. But in reality, not only is the job market unfriendly to parents, it does not even allow men to exercise all the rights granted to them by law. With its rigid structure and lack of adaptability to our changing world, the job market loses a large and significant portion of the potential work force. When businesses adapt to the realities of modern family life, more women will be able to advance toward full equality in the job market and society in general.
Students Exhibit Work at Ilana Goor Museum
n the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa hosted an unprecedented exhibition titled “The Female Aspect.” What made it so special was that the art was created by students attending Na’amat’s technological high schools. Inspired by the theme chosen for the exhibition, the students worked for five months preparing for the show. Using various media — painting, photography, sculpture and digital art — they created work addressing “the exclusion of women vs. the glorification of women.” Their art reflected the many issues concerning the status and rights of women in Israeli society.
During the week-long exhibition, 23 groups of Na’amat students from all over Israel enjoyed a guided tour, in Hebrew and Arabic, of the museum. A festive opening ceremony took place with artist Ilana Goor, Na’amat president Galia Wolloch, director of the Na’amat Education Network Mina Shefi and Ilana Goor Museum curator Sophia Dekel Caspi. During an artists’ talk, students presented their work and several teachers who were involved in the process shared their experience. (The museum was featured in the winter 2012/13 issue of Na’amat Woman.)
Artist Ilana Goor, wearing sunglasses, at the opening of the student art exhibit.
Remembering Pyotr Ochotsky
yotr’s family made aliyah from the former Soviet Union in 1996. Despite the difficulties of settling in a new country, the family soon adapted to Israel. The parents found jobs and bought an apartment in Lod. After failing in two schools, Pyotr registered at Na’amat’s technological high school in Lod. At first his achievements were average and he was very shy. As time passed, he became more serious and committed to his schoolwork. In fact, he became one of
the most prominent students both scholastically and socially. Pyotr’s father taught him Zionist values and the importance of being a good and loyal soldier to his country. For his part, Pyotr started getting ready for military service when he was still a student. He often talked
to the school principal, wanting to hear stories about the paratroopers unit. Pyotr joined the army in August 2002, requesting to be a paratrooper. He took pride in being part of the paratrooper family. Having successfully completed the arduous training course, he became a combat soldier. During that whole period, he continued to maintain a close relationship with the school counselor and principal. He would visit them frequently, wearing his paratrooper’s uniform and carrying his weapon on his shoulder, often before visiting his own family. Pyotr was proud of his military service. A fighter in every sense of the word, he was a true professional, a sharp and brave soldier.
Membership News Women: What Do You Wish For?
taged in Tel Aviv’s bustling Weizman City Mall on International Women’s Day, Na’amat’s wishing tree event attracted numerous women who wanted to write down their hopes and dreams and see them publicly displayed. At the same time, they learned about Na’amat from the organization’s representatives and brochures. The photo shows Liora Lenger, left, head of Na’amat Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat International Department.
Moving Ahead During Na’amat USA’s 90th Anniversary
embership is the mainstay of Na’amat USA. Without you, our members, we
would not be able to raise the funds that make possible our projects in Israel.
To reach our many goals, we are taking firm steps to strengthen and grow our membership. First, the national office has been streamlining our membership renewal process. Councils and clubs will no longer have to deal with the renewal notices and collection of dues. The national office has taken over this job, so you, our members, can put more of your energies into Na’amat. Second, we are currently interviewing for the position of outreach facilitator in Chicago, Cleveland and New York. We want to do everything possible to spread the word about Na’amat, attract new members and create new clubs. We’re also exploring alternatives to the traditional club model that we have used for 90 years. Our younger members — and some of our older ones — are seeking something new. Third, we are looking into e-membership, an online membership category. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to implement this. Fourth, we are now offering a special on Life Membership to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Na’amat USA. From July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, Life Membership will cost $180 (you’ll save $70). For those 90 years old and up, we have a deal for you! You can purchase a Life Membership for only $90. All members can make their grandchildren, children, nieces, nephews and friends Affiliate Life Members for $180 (they must be under age 18). Help us celebrate our 90th year in style with an increase in membership! — Gail Simpson, National Vice President/Membership
Pyotr loved Israel, but this was not sufficient. He also aspired to be Jewish (his mother is not Jewish). During his military service, he started preparing for conversion, a complex process demanding dedicated study as well as circumcision. In his private life, he enjoyed the happiness of a loving relationship with his girlfriend Liat. He had met her in high school and they had planned to marry. During the Second Lebanon War, Pyotr was summoned to emergency reserve duty and got caught in the line of fire with his combat unit. The 23-year-old fell in battle in South Lebanon on August 13, 2006, just 13 hours before the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah took effect. Remembering Pyotr, his commander said:
“We decided to send you to a course to become a squad commander, and I don’t need to explain why. You were the first one whose equipment was always ready in advance, before anyone else’s, as if it were not possible to surprise you. There was no commander, sergeant or officer who did not trust you. You were always on the leading edge, guiding us. And this was so because everyone knew that there was no terrorist who could defeat you. You were the best fighter I’ve ever seen. You wanted to be there where things happened, because we both knew that you could be the right missing part for any battle. … You were a person of values and principles. ... You were a patriot, and anyone who knows you also knows why. It all started back when you were young, after you studied
in depth about Israel’s heritage and about each battle and operation, despite not being Jewish. And it went on when you joined the paratroopers…you behaved as a man of principle who has faith in what he does. So this is what you were. You were a patriot.” A monument was erected in memory of Pyotr at the Na’amat Lod High School. Every year, the school marks Yom Hazikiron (Memorial Day) with a ceremony in the presence of his parents. At the event, students hear about Pyotr’s life, and scholarships are awarded to 12th-grade students who are making a commitment to “significant military service” (combat, intelligence or other special units). Following Pyotr’s example, some students enlist in the paratroopers unit. SUMMER 2015
Let’s Stop the Attack on Reproductive Freedom A
woman’s right to abortion is being continuously eroded by state legislatures across the United States and by the U.S. Congress. Two of the more harmful pieces of legislation are discussed below. Subsequent articles in Na’amat Woman will address other developments in the abortion debate and how we can protect women’s reproductive rights. On May 13, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill by a vote of 242 to 184 banning abortions after 20 weeks. The so-called Pain-Capable Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) aims to prohibit doctors from performing abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. There is no exception for severe fetal anomalies, and the bill requires the physician to try to save the fetus if there is any chance that it could survive outside the womb. Republicans claim that the 20-week limit is based on the (undocumented) theory that a fetus can feel pain at that point in its development. Abortions after 20 weeks are rare, accounting for only about 1 percent of all abortions. The bill, however, would hurt women who discover severe medical problems late into their pregnancies, making them wait until these conditions become life threatening before legally obtaining an abortion. Every 2016 GOP presidential candidate has endorsed the bill and 11 state legislatures have already passed similar bills into law. In the first three months of 2015, more than 300 bills restricting access to abortion have been introduced in state legislatures. Anti-abortion activists
hope that this bill will be their opening to challenging and ultimately overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that the Constitution, on the basis of the right to privacy, gives women an unrestricted right to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. TAKE ACTION! Urge your state legislators and U.S. senators to block the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and work to rescind existing laws at the state level. Women should be able to make their own medical decisions, free of legislative control based on an unproven theory of fetal development. A second piece of legislation putting women’s health and rights at risk is the reauthorization of the Hyde Amendment. Not a permanent law, the amendment forbids the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of life-endangerment, incest or rape. First implemented in 1977, it has guided public funding for abortions under the joint federal-state Medicaid programs for low-income women. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal Medicaid coverage cannot extend to abortion even when a woman’s health is at risk and her doctor recommends she obtain an abortion to preserve her health. The amendment has been reauthorized every year by Congress as part of budget appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services. States can go beyond the Hyde Amendment and cover medically necessary abortions with state funds, but only 17 do so. According to Planned Parenthood, more than 12.5 million women, age 19 to 64, depend on Medicaid. The Hyde Amendment creates
Thank Your Legislators for Taking Action on Human Trafficking Good news! On May 19, the House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178). This crucial legislation will strengthen the child welfare system; expand funding for victim services; mandate specialized training programs; increase penalties for traffickers; outlaw trafficking-related publicity or advertisements and more. It will now go to President Obama to be signed into law.
by MARCIA J. WEISS economic barriers and health concerns for low-income women. Often these women have had to delay obtaining an abortion because they lack the money. Women unable to pay for an abortion may resort to self-inducing a miscarriage or seeking unsafe and illegal abortions. Others may be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, pushing them further into poverty. Particularly burdened are women of color, who have a greater likelihood to experience unintended pregnancy. Federal abortion restrictions also extend to more than 20 million women receiving government health insurance, such as women serving in the military and the Peace Corps and women prisoners. Since Hyde Amendment restrictions are renewed annually, we have the opportunity to eliminate them. A woman’s right to an abortion is a private medical decision, one that women have relied on for 40 years. Attempts by state and federal politicians to intrude into women’s lives by abridging that right constitute a dangerous overstepping that we cannot tolerate. As the United States Supreme Court has said, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” TAKE ACTION! Urge your legislators to refuse to reenact the Hyde Amendment. Protect women with the coverage needed to seek a safe, legal abortion. Marcia J. Weiss, J.D., is the Na’amat USA Vice President/Program and Education.
Every day, men, women and children are forced, defrauded and coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking and its related crimes not only harm the women involved. They also undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by devaluing individuals, demeaning women and increasing violence and crime. It is estimated that 300,000 minors are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in the United States each year. Thank your legislators for taking action to support victims of human trafficking!
Boys and Their Toys
An Israeli mother wonders: How much should I worry about play weapons? by JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
o there we were, sitting in my friend Lobna’s living room in the Israeli Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, having eaten a lovely lunch of pumpkin soup, spinach pie and stuffed chicken breasts prepared by her chef husband. We were now nibbling on homemade cookies and cheesecake, sipping Arabic coffee. All very genteel-like. Then my 8-year-old son leaped gleefully into the doorway, clutching a very realistic-looking toy machine gun, Rambo-style, and shot its big sticky rubber blue blob of a bullet onto the pristine white wall where it clung accusingly.
Lobna and I looked at each other. We had met last fall at a women’s peace leadership empowerment project, and as the two oldest in the group, we hit it off right away. Guns, even toy guns, were not supposed to be part of our language. Apologetically, she said she wasn’t thrilled with the toy either, but her son had so badgered them that her husband finally gave in and bought it. The bullets stuck to whatever target they hit, and the gun was apparently all the rage with young boys. Of the many toys in her son’s room, this was the one that most excited my son.
Living in a country where seeing armed soldiers in supermarkets and bus stops is almost taken for granted, I couldn’t bring myself to buy my boys even water guns. Why? Why? I ask myself, why do boys like toy guns and weapons so much? When my oldest son was in preschool he became fascinated with all kinds of toy weapons — guns, swords, daggers. I remember my younger brothers having a few cowboy six-shooter cap guns when we were growing up in the innocence of the 1970s suburban Midwest United States. But living in the Middle East, seeing my son playing with a toy gun just hit too close to home and I couldn’t bring myself to buy him one. Of course he always managed to get himself invited to the house of the boy in his class with the biggest cache of toy weapons. At home, he would pick up a stick, a wooden spoon — anything really — and use it as a gun. So there was no escaping this apparent innate need of his. When he had been a bit younger, I followed advice to provide “gender neutral” toys and bought him a rag doll along with the cars and balls — nothing too overtly girly. It wasn’t long before that doll was being tossed across the kitchen like a ball. So much for gender neutral, I thought, as I quietly extracted the doll from his pile of toys. It was too hard for me to see her being thrown around. Finally, after we talked and he explained how much he wanted a toy weapon and I explained why I disliked toy guns so much, I relented and agreed to have toy swords in the house but no guns. Living in a country where seeing armed soldiers (and yes, even civilians with guns in their belt holsters) in supermarkets and at bus stops is almost taken for granted, I couldn’t bring myself to buy my boys even water guns. But on an Internet site I found some cute little shark, crocodile, frog and whale “guns” that shot water out of their mouths. So for several summers while their friends were packing water-powered bazookas, my boys were going around with smiling blue and white water-spitting whales. A few months ago we celebrated my elder son’s bar mitzvah, and the prospect of the army draft in five years looms heavily over me. One day, as I rushed across town to pick him up from school to go to his bar mitzvah lesson, my younger son was aiming outside the car window with his hand held in the shape of a gun. I remembered nostalgically how when he was little, of his own initiative, he asked for a little plastic doll that came with its own pink tub so he could give the doll a bath while he bathed. And now, here he was, shooting imaginary bullets out of my car window. Why, I asked him — he who has also turned his older brother’s crutches (judo injury) into a machine gun — do 20
you like playing with guns? He assured me that he was only shooting at the car tires of the bad guys in front of us, and that all boys like to play with guns. I asked him when he remembers liking to play with guns for the first time and he said, “Oh, when I was three. Now can you stop asking questions and let me play?” Interestingly, as I tried to get a sense of the issue from an Israeli point of view, I could not find one research study on how the constant politically tense, often violent environment affects the way Israeli children play with toy guns. However, from my perspective as a mother I can see that, like in other Western countries, most of the toys are gendered. Those aimed specifically at the boy market are violent in nature — guns, swords, superheros and slews of violent computer games. On the other hand, girl toys are mostly about pink and princesses, handicrafts and makeup — also similar to what is out there for girls in the Western world. Though some toy makers are now marketing toy weapons in pink so they will appeal to girls. Not a great advancement for gender equality in toys in my opinion. I can also see that no matter where you live, socializing influences and peer pressure cannot be ignored when it comes to toy preference. Perhaps it should make me feel at least a bit better, knowing that here in Israel we are just like every other country, but it doesn’t. Guns have taken on such a stronger, negative meaning for me here. Though the increase in attacks in Jerusalem since last summer easily proves that when someone is intent on violence, guns are not necessary — anything can be turned into a weapon. Yesterday a young Palestinian was beaten up by Israelis in a Jerusalem neighborhood and today two yeshiva students were attacked in the Old City. When I started looking into the subject of boys and toy guns in today’s world, I ran into a series of photographs on the Internet of boys from mostly war-torn areas of the world playing with toy guns, some holding real guns next to an adult gunman. One especially disturbing photograph showed two boys who had fled with their families from the embattled town of Falluja in Iraq with the older one grabbing the younger one by the neck and holding a toy gun to his head. Falluja once housed Rabbi Arika’s Nehardea Academy, a large center of Talmudic study in Babylonia. More recently, American troops fought bloody battles there before the onset of the latest round of violence from ISIS. Even closer to home and more disturbing: On Israel’s last Independence Day in the West Bank settlement of
Researchers point out that play fighting is verbally and physically cooperative. What the children imagine when they play is totally different from what we see as adults. Efrat, some Israelis celebrated by having their children actively participate in a weapons display. Donning vests almost larger than themselves, elementary school children smeared war paint on their faces, tossed mock grenades and crawled along the ground holding weapons. Parents looked on as if it were the most natural thing in the world to see their children throwing small bombs. We’ve also seen similar scenes with Palestinian children. Barely old enough to grasp a pencil, they are photographed holding guns, belts full of bullets crisscrossing their little chests, sitting on their fathers’ shoulders or on stage exalting terrorist acts. My kids know how I feel about real guns when they run around our yard with their laser guns, but what are the kids in Efrat and Ramallah learning from their parents who encourage them to engage in almost true-to-life war games with these weapons. Some experts say that toy gun play can actually help children work through post-trauma issues. But these children are not playing; they are seeing military glorification by their parents and other adults. This is not the way I want my sons to view their country. In a paper by University of Nevada academics Jennifer Hart and Michelle Tannock in the online Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, the two researchers point out that play fighting is “verbally and physically cooperative, lacking intent to harm either emotionally or physically.” These games usually involve role-playing, and though aggressive in their make-believe, they are — at least theoretically — not hurtful toward one another in reality. What the children imagine when they play is totally different from what we see as adults. The researchers also note that some educators disregard the benefits of the “aggressive socio-dramatic play” involved in these games, which allows for “competitive and cooperative behavior.” Indeed, they hold that the elimination of these pretend games may have “significant impact” on a young child’s development, limiting “opportunities for development of social, emotional, physical, cognitive and communicative abilities in young children.” Even so, in the United States, some school systems have taken zero tolerance policy toward gun play to an extreme. A 5-year-old was suspended for a couple of days for eating his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun (a charge denied by the accused youngster who said he had been actually going for a mountain). A 6-year-old girl in South Carolina was suspended for bringing a toy gun to school. Children have been suspended for bringing pocket knives to school even if
they don’t take them out of their backpacks. Last summer in Jerusalem my sons went to an outdoor camp that actually encouraged campers to bring pocket knives. Needless to say, after years of mothering two boys, we now have laser tag guns, Nerf guns, light sabers, ninja swords, toy soldiers (it was a moment of weakness) and super-powered water guns in our home arsenal. But we also have sports equipment, stuffed animals, chess sets, card and board games, and Legos and Playmobile (okay, these two have tiny weapons as well). And last summer, when we were in Cleveland visiting family, even I had a blast playing laser tag at Fun and Stuff. I might add that when my boys play Legos with their girl cousins in Cleveland during our summer visits, the narrative changes. While there are still intergalactic fighting and starship battles, there are also extensive wardrobe discussions, marriages and babies. So while I inwardly cringed a few months ago as I watched my son excitedly join in a paintball bar mitzvah party with his friends, wearing a protective vest and holding the gun like he knew what he was doing, I know this is my own angst as a woman and as a mother. I wondered if I were bringing up my sons in a less militaristic society, would guns have less of an allure for them. But this fascination seems to be universal among boys everywhere. I console myself with the fact that the great majority of boys grow up to be normal, functioning, non-violent men. Ironically, a 12-year-old boy was killed by police in my hometown of Cleveland when the toy air gun he was brandishing at a public playground was mistaken for a real weapon. The police said the orange tip, which was meant to distinguish it as a toy, had been removed. Police Chief Calvin Williams also told reporters that parents need to teach children that guns are not toys, whether they are real or fake. As I witness the continuing violence here, it occurs to me that just as the real act of war is unfathomable to me, this attraction to toy weapons, as some experts say, may well be due (at least in part) to a deep, genetic predisposition in boys. Something ancient and inexplicably ingrained, unchangeable and incomprehensible in the nature of boyhood. Judith Sudilovsky, a journalist and writer in Jerusalem, has covered the Middle East for 20 years and is a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Report. She wrote “Jewish in Argentina” in our fall 2014 issue. SUMMER 2015
Books for Cooks and Foodies More than just cookbooks, these beautiful volumes offer personal stories, glimpses into Jewish history and culture, advice on healthful eating and a spiritual boost. by JUDITH A. SOKOLOFF
ood, Family and Tradition: Hungarian
kosher supermarket in the Midwest, now
Artichoke Hearts Stuffed with Lamb, Tagine
Kosher Family Recipes and
located in Skokie, Illinois. You’ll find Sweet
of Veal with Chickpeas, Stuffed Potatoes with
Remembrances (The Cherry Press). Lynn
and Sour Gizzards (Pupiks), Chicken Stuffed
Meat and Candied Eggplant. Barnes also
Kirsche Shapiro started her book as a
in Chicken, Stuffed Cabbage (Gefilte Kraut),
provides information on how to use a tagine,
way to complete two unfinished legacies:
Golda’s Potato Dough (Shlishkes), Sour Cherry
probably the world’s oldest slow cooker. Great
her mother’s recipes and her father’s
Soup (Meggy Levees) and Esrog Preserves and
photos accompany all the recipes.
autobiography. In the end, the book revealed
a much larger world: the culturally rich,
Known as “The Petite Gourmand,” Ruth
In 1938, Fania Lewando became the first woman to publish a Yiddish-language
traditional Jewish life in Czechoslovakia and
Barnes presents a large selection of recipes
vegetarian cookbook in Europe. This treasure,
Hungary before the Holocaust. Through the
in Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from
The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (Schocken
centuries-old recipes, Shapiro hopes readers
My Kitchen to Yours (Greenleaf Book Group).
Books), has been translated, annotated
will get a taste of the culinary tradition of the
She has simplified the recipes for cooks with
and adapted for the modern kitchen by Eve
Jews in the two countries and will feel the
limited time, noting: “We are still Moroccan,
Jochnowitz and includes the book’s original,
courage of the Holocaust survivors, whose
but with a modern twist.” Barnes, who lives
lovely illustrations of vegetables. Lewando,
strong family bonds and deep faith allowed
in Los Angeles, grew up in a Moroccan family
born around 1887, was a pioneer in the
them to “live again, to build a family and to
on a farm in Israel. At a young age she learned
emerging Jewish vegetarian movement and
contribute to the future.” The first part of
to cook from the women who prepared large
the owner of a kosher dairy restaurant in Vilna
the book tells the story of the Kirsche family
meals for family, friends and neighbors. Among
and a kosher cooking school. The restaurant
and their survival, with vintage photos, a
the 111 recipes are Fennel and Blood Orange
was also a salon for artists and writers. Some
family tree and remembrances. The second
Salad, Casablanca Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce,
400 recipes cover all parts of a meal, including
part includes mostly family recipes, from
sections for cutlets, stewed dishes, porridges,
appetizers to desserts, previously unpublished.
frittatas, latkes and puddings. So jazz up
Along with the time-honored ones are
your veggie menu with Cranberry Soup, Bran
Stuffed Eggs, Fresh
1973. It’s the
Charlotte begins with
a layer of cheese
blintzes topped with layers of milk- and
America, especially in New York.” So in her
and include lively anecdotes. Prefacing her
egg-soaked challah, apples, butter and sugar,
“greatest hits from our Jewish grandmothers,”
recipe for Roast Rib of Beef Spiked with
topped with more blintzes! Serve with cream
Gur is helping to keep alive many culinary
Horseradish Sauce, Phillips recalls her great-
sauce (a classic crème anglaise) and don’t get
cultures in the best possible way: by cooking
grandparents, who owned a butcher shop
your blood sugar checked for a few days.
food and attracting people to eat it. From
in London’s East End. Her Middle Eastern
many cuisines, we are offered tantalizing
slow-cooked Lamb with Dill, Olives and Spring
Dishes Updated for Today’s Kitchen,” Janna
recipes for the Zibale Mit Eyer (Egg and
Onion Mash has Syrian roots. On a recent trip
Gur (with Nirit Yadin and Ruth Oliver)
Onion Salad) — Ashkenazi; the Kuku Sabzi
to Jerusalem, she enjoyed the warm spicy
offers Jewish Soul Food: From Minsky to
(Herb Frittata) — Persian; Beet Soup with
Jerusalem Kugel, an easy recipe that she
Marrakesh (Schocken Books). Gur, author of
Kubbe — Iraqi; Peppers Stuffed with Rice and
shares with readers. In a chapter called “Free
The New Israeli Food, now gives us diverse
Meat — Bulgarian; Ushpalau (Beef and Rice
From,” there are recipes for vegetarians (Thai
recipes, many from places where Jews no
Pilaf with Chickpeas, Carrots and Spices) —
Pumpkin and Broccoli Curry), diabetics (Lime
longer exist. Growing up in Riga before her
Bukharan; Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy
and Wild Rocket Risotto) and the gluten-free
family immigrated to Israel in 1974, Gur
Tomato Sauce) — Tunisian, Libyan; Spinach
(Roasted Aubergines with Peppers). Desserts
quickly connected to Israeli food. As an adult,
Flan — Turkish; Lakhoukh (Panfired Flat
run the gamut from Hot Chocolate and
she became a food writer and in 1991 founded
Bread) — Yemeni; Apple and Raisin Strudel
Amaretto Soufflé to Stir Fried Bananas with
(with her husband Ilan Gur) Al Hashulchan, a
— Austro-Hungarian. The book is filled with
Butterscotch Sauce. Photos are provided for
Hebrew-language food magazine. Gur points
only some of the 200 recipes.
Subtitled “More Than 100 Unforgettable
out that in Israel, in the early days of the
As we’re traveling the globe, check out
The Community Table: Recipes &
Zionist movement, there was an impulse for
The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook: More than
Stories From the Jewish Community Center
Israelis to reject the Diaspora. But “toward
200 Recipes From Around the World (St.
in Manhattan & Beyond (Grand Central
the end of the millennium, as the ethos of
Martin’s Press) by Londoner Denise Phillips,
Publishing) by Katja Goldman, Judy Bernstein
the melting pot gave way to more inclusive
author/chef/food writer/cooking school
Bunzl and Lisa Rotmil. This beautiful, spirited
approaches to everything cultural, the foods of
entrepreneur. In this delightful book, the
book is the result of the coming together of
Jewish communities became again a source
author gently balances cooking for those who
the “values inherent in cooking and the values
of pride and inspiration, even for a younger
want to be more experimental and creative
of community,” write the authors. It celebrates
generation, certainly for Israeli chefs.” There’s
and those who “don’t want to stray too far”
the 10 years that the Manhattan JCC has been
even a growing interest in the less popular
from their culinary roots. Recipes from Jewish
a catalyst for community building as well as
Ashkenazi food, she says, “sparked by the
communities around the world are plentiful
reflects the nurturing relationship the three
trendiness of Jewish Ashkenazi cooking in North
authors have developed among themselves and others as they cooked together for the last few years. Gorgeous photos and brief anecdotes spice up the 352-page book. Among the multitude of recipes for every part of a meal: Bubbe’s Hungarian Sweet Cheese Hamantaschen, Potato and Zucchini Egg Tart (Feinkochen), Red Lentil Soup with Lime, Summer Pappardelle with Corn and Tomatoes, Fish
Tacos with Orange Chipotle Sauce and
simple dishes like Arugula Sesame Salad,
or as a curious person open to exploring
Jicama-Grapefruit Slaw, Cajun Barbeque
Healthier Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Salmon Burgers,
different levels of thinking about the Seven
Brisket and Intensely Chocolate Cupcakes
Fennel Soup, Artichoke Gibbon and Homemade
Fruits of Israel. The Bible singles out the
with Chocolate Frosting.
seven species — wheat, barley, grapes, figs,
Beth Warren is a registered dietitian and
The Silver Platter: Simple to
pomegranates, olives and dates — as the
certified dietitian-nutritionist with a private
Spectacular Wholesome, Family-Friendly
selected fruit by which the Land of Israel
practice in Brooklyn, New York. Her Living a
Recipes (ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications)
is particularly praised. The author offers
Real Life with Real Food: How to Get Healthy,
by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz. This
various ways to acquaint yourself with these
Lose Weight, and Stay Energized — the
intergenerational cookbook brings together
fruits for their nutritional and medicinal
Kosher Way (Skyhorse Publishing) provides
the talents of Gilletz, for 40 years a visionary
value, their wonderful taste, their link to God,
more sound, thoughtful, lucid, nutritional
leader of the kosher food revolution and
correspondence with the Kabbalah’s seven
advice in one place than I’ve seen in a long
author of many cookbooks, and Silver, a young
lower sefirot (divine emanations), place in the
time. The book reinforces and clarifies the
passionate culinary artist — both from Toronto.
Torah and Jewish history and their beauty
healthful-eating knowledge I already have and
They call the book “a labor of love, blending
as they grow in Israel. Fifty recipes using
provides up-to-date information about recent
health and food trends with traditional
these biblical food staples are included.
nutritional discoveries. Topics include fats,
kosher recipes, meeting the needs of the
Whether you want to stomp on grapes or
grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, eating
modern family.” This weighty tome includes
use a blender, check out Grandma’s Goodly
kosher, snacking and meal plans. A section
160 recipes (Silver’s) for all parts of a meal,
Grape Juice. Make use of those mineral-rich
on the pros and cons of eating soybeans —
stunning photos for every dish, information on
figs with a recipe for Fresh Fig Fruit Salad,
such a controversial bean! — is particularly
cooking techniques and nutrition and whether
which mixes in apples, grapes and coconut.
enlightening. Warren gives smart advice on
a dish is freezer-friendly and gluten-free. From
There’s Barley and Vegetable Casserole à la
eating outside the home, reading food content
appetizers to desserts, you’ll find recipes for
Rambam, Sprouted Wheat Bread, Pomegranate
labels and navigating the grocery store. She
Asian-Style Rice Paper Rolls, Israeli-Style
Yogurt Dip (along with a recipe for anti-
writes: “…as much as we are victims to the
Satay, Parsnip and Apple Soup, Lentil Cranberry
wrinkle pomegranate cream), Olive Leaf Tea
strategic manipulations of a supermarket
Salad, Raspberry London Broil, Gourmet
and Almond Chocolate Filled Dates. Lovely
design trying to control what and how much
Garlicky Cheesy Bread, Great Bub’s Overnight
photographs and illustrations are plentiful.
we buy, we do have the power to change that
Potatonik and Fudgy Pretzel Brownies.
Rebbetzin Siegelbaum, who lives in the
same strategy by changing our shopping behaviors.” She finishes off the book with a
The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel With Their Mystical and Medicinal Properties
Judean Hills, is the founder and director of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin: Holistic Torah for
recipe section — all
by Chana Bracha
don’t have to be
is a spiritual
religious, or even
Women on the Land. She also tends
to appreciate this
You can enjoy it as
physical acts to
a higher plane,
you can move
on to Spiritual Cooking With Yael: Recipes
those that can be prepared in advance. I’ll
Covenant Winery was producing some highly
and Bible Meditations from the Holy Land
happily go for a meal of Chicken-Wrapped
rated vintages. I’ve never tried them, so I
(Winters Publishing) by Yael Eckstein. The
Asparagus Spears (starter), Sweet Potato Crisps
don’t know if they’re the best, but I do know
author moved from Chicago to northern Israel
Salad, Spinach-Salmon Spirals, California Mix
that their cookbook is terrific. It begins with
in 2005 where she is the senior vice president
Vegetable Kugel and Meringue Layer Cake
a helpful primer on wine and the basics
of the International Fellowship of Christians
(made with good quality chocolate). Mouth-
of kosher wine, then proceeds to recipes
and Jews, a popular speaker and spiritual
watering photos dress up the book.
covering all stages of a meal — offering wine
seeker. All the recipes in this charming, slim
The Easy-Way-Out-of Passover
pairings for each dish. Hummus with Toppings
book are prefaced by a personal introduction
Cookbook (Gefen Publishing House) by
and Pita Bread: Did you know that hummus
and biblical quote. Eckstein provides simple
Mindy Ginsberg. This is a very handy book:
lends itself to an accompanying beverage
recipes for salads and dips, grains and sides,
spiral-bound on top, narrow (5 x 8 inches),
with good acidity, such as sparkling wine,
dairy and vegan main courses, chicken, fish
and it stands up. The author gets right down
Sauvignon Blanc, dry Chenin Blanc, Roussane
and soup. Try a meal of Carrot Kugel Bread,
to tachlis with a few quick meals and then
or a crisp light Chardonnay? Fish Soup with
Honey Baked Chicken and Israeli Salad.
easy menu plans from soup to desserts
Matzo Balls and Aiolo goes well with a glass
for the eight days of the holiday. Enjoy a
of dry rosé. For Latkes with Sour Cream, Green
Publications) is a project of Yeshivah Me’on
tasty dinner of Avocado Salad and Pecans,
Onions and Masago, try rich white wines such
HaTorah in Roosevelt, New Jersey, by Reva
Fishcakes, Meatloaf Potato Roll, Matzo Kugel
as barrel-fermented Chardonnay and Viognier.
Bess, Gitty Eisenberg, Raizy Greisman, Goldy
with Walnuts, Ratatouille and Vanilla Carrot
Gefilte Quenelles with Braised Leeks and
Joseph, Hindy Langer and Fraidi Neiman. It’s
Pudding. Based in New York and Tel Aviv, the
Lemon Zest goes well with a refreshing chilled
never too early to check out new recipes for
author has published two other cookbooks.
white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity
A Taste of Pesach (ArtScroll/Mesorah
Passover and, besides, you can enjoy them year
Finally, a cookbook with an emphasis
Riesling or Gewürtztraminer. At this point, you
round. The 140 gluten-free recipes, from a total
on wine. Jeff and Jodie Morgan, co-owners of
may not care what you drink with the Lamb
of 150 dishes, are a great resource for those
Covenant Winery, a kosher winery in Berkeley,
Chops With Cilantro Chimchurri Sauce and
who don’t eat the gliadin and glutenin proteins.
California, bring us The Covenant Kitchen:
Warm Quinoa Salad, but among the authors’
The authors tell us that there’s something for
Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table
suggestions are an earthy Syrah or a densely
everyone in the book — for working women
(Schocken Books and OU Press). In 2002, while
structured Cabernet Sauvignon. And then
who need quick recipes, for cooks who have
tasting a wonderful Israeli wine, Jeff Morgan
more leisure, for people who serve large
experienced what he calls a “chutzpah
quantities, for the indulgent and non-indulgent.
moment” and decided to make the greatest
In the categories of appetizers, entrees and
kosher wine in 5,000
desserts, the authors point out dishes that can
be individually plated, those that are light and
Judith A. Sokoloff is the editor of Na’amat Woman. She lives in New York City where just about everybody is a foodie.
BOOK BOOK REVIEWS REVIEWS Ultimatum From Paradise
Jacqueline Osherow’s Forever Dance With Yiddish by ROBERT HIRSCHFIELD
There must have been a train, a subway ride, but what I remember is the palace in-between: its high glass walls alive with light
ith the first lines of “Penn Station: Fifty Years Gone,” you know you have arrived inside a Jacqueline Osherow poem. The mysterious link between person and place, the slant rhyme: “ride” and “light.” Ultimatum from Paradise, like her six previous volumes, contains her usual, unpredictable subject range: a ferry ride to Spain, the house of an Italian fascist, dusk in Salt Lake City, her city, where she teaches English and creative writing at the University of Utah. It also contains the subject known to all Osherow readers: Yiddish. Her Yiddish poems follow her around from volume to volume like a gaggle of unruly shadows. In Ultimatum, in “A Crown for Yiddish,” it accosts her in Antwerp, on a rainy street, where on a bike, “a black-suited, black-hatted, bearded man / his hat made rainproof with a plastic bag” makes the poet think she’s arrived at some “rain-drenched Jewish Mars.” A place, like many others, that absorbs “Jews on the run / and we’re famous for leaving in a rush — / still harping on the bread we couldn’t let rise… / which might explain the power of adaption / of our other portable possession: Yiddish.” Some poets schlep into their work old loves, or old wars, or old parents stained with their crumbled youthful heroics. For Osherow, it’s Yiddish, her exilic companion through thick and thin. Yiddish was the language of her four grandparents. She can read it well enough, or intuit it well enough to unearth the flaws in English translations. But her vocabulary is limit-
continued from page 7 full of hormones. They feel devastated when the treatments fail.” The activist says she created workshops in cooperation with an ultraOrthodox organization specifically for the ultra-Orthodox community because there is no other address for infertile haredi men and women to talk about their situation in a supportive group 26
Ultimatum from Paradise By Jacqueline Osherow Louisiana State University Press 102 pages $18.95 (softcover)
ed, and one of her attempts at actually speaking the language earned her an ego-bending insult from her Israeli cousin: “You speak Yiddish like a convert.” Inspired Yiddish stumbler, Osherow laments in “A Crown for Yiddish”: By rights it should be my native tongue and I can barely distinguish it from Flemish. I’m eavesdropping, as I move among the crowds in the diamond district. Yiddish! on a cell phone no less! A shanem dank he says it and I think it — a particular I’ll savor forever: a shanem dank to you, black-hatted man: Yiddish cellular.
environment. “These women feel very stressed so we offer cognitive behavior therapy.” In a recent meeting, she says, they discussed whether they needed to go to every bris when a family member or friend gives birth. The women told the group facilitator that they are often called on to carry the newborn across the room as a kind of “segula,” or symbolic act that is believed to bring good luck to help them conceive. While well intentioned, the
act brings attention to their inability to have children, they said. The women in the group found the workshop so helpful that they asked Gefen to organize one for their husbands. “They said, ‘We need our husbands to know what we’re going through and to understand their own feelings,’ ” Friedman says. “One of the rabbis in Torat Hamishpacha, our partner group, put the group together. It’s under rabbinic supervision.”
Coming to Yiddish from a space that makes it at once approachable and unreachable grants Osherow a terrain compatible with her often zany scaffolding. In Dead Men’s Praise, an early work (1999), the poet contemplates writing a poem in Yiddish (“Ch’vil Schreiben a Poem auf Yiddish”). A grandiose exercise in humility that Osherow gets away with because of the outrageous way she navigates the impossible, longing for the language she has already colonized with her love. I want to write a poem in Yiddish and not any poem, but the poem I am longing to write, a poem so Yiddish, it would not be possible to translate, except from, say, my bubbe’s Galizianer to my zayde’s Litvak and even then it would lose a little something, though, of course, it’s not the sort of poem that relies on such trivialities, as, for example, my knowing how to speak its language — though who knows? Maybe I understand it perfectly; maybe, in Yiddish, things aren’t any clearer Than the mumbling of rain on cast-off leaves…. But Osherow is capable of switching gears, turning without warning to the trampled body of Yiddish. In the same volume, in “A Footnote for Perets Markish,” she pays homage to that Yiddish poet condemned by Stalin to the KGB’s Lubyanka prison. There is so much pure joy in her poetry that it is easy to forget her plunges into Treblinka, Inquisitorial Spain, fascist Europe. Her poems reside unpretentiously amid cruelty and
Facilitated by a male Orthodox psychologist, the men talked about the challenges they face in such a childcentered community and learned how to do relaxation exercises. They also focused on why couplehood is important and the fact that, Friedman says, “marriage isn’t just to create babies. Being married is a mitzvah in itself.” One of the participants “told the psychologist he was about to enter a Passover seder with all his siblings and
displacement. They question, in the case of Markish, language itself. Which of you was crazier? The Revolution Or spilling out your heart in Yiddish poems? You could have saved a little something for Russian, Or Hebrew even — don’t lie — you knew its charms; Communist or not, you once spent time in shul, Extorting nimble secrets from the psalms In the good Yiddish tradition, Osherow’s poems ask a lot of questions. Good questions. Hard questions. Questions that lead more often to riffs than answers. Even she is not averse to that tendency. In Ultimatum, in her villanelle “Tikkun Olam,” Osherow asks: Should I ask the obvious? Why would God create a world requiring repair? And what was He thinking when He called it good? If there is one thing Osherow makes clear it’s that Yiddish is her anointed, overgrown linguistic garden of tikkun olam. Or as close to it as language can get. Cut from the map of exile, from the brick and mortar of loss, from the shrieks and tumblings of uninvited change, it waves its eccentric arms in the direction of humility. still breathing, still some children’s native tongue, despite modernity, despite the SS, despite how much we’ve had to lose (who can calculate the reach of genocide?). Surely, one of them will write a poem— habits die hard; poems survive Robert Hirschfield is a New York-based journalist and poet. He has recently focused on writing about Jewish poets. His work appears in Tablet, The Jerusalem Report, The Canadian Jewish News and The Writer, as well as other publications.
their children and was feeling extremely anxious,” Friedman recalls. “He said, ‘I went outside and did my breathing exercises and got through the seder.’ ” Sarah, the American woman who conceived through a fertility treatment in Tel Aviv, says that she, too, sometimes felt on the verge of hyperventilating at family gatherings where her young nieces and nephews were in attendance. “Yearning for a child and not be-
ing able to have one was painful,” Sarah explains. “While it would have been wonderful to get pregnant sooner, living with infertility has made the experience of being a mother even sweeter.” Michele Chabin is a journalist living in Jerusalem. She covers the Middle East for The New York Jewish Week and other publications. She wrote about French Jews in Israel in our spring 2015 issue. SUMMER 2015
AROUND THE COUNTRY
Greater Washington Council holds festive Spiritual Adoption Luncheon to benefit children in Na’amat day care centers. Guest speaker Leslie Milk, lifestyle editor of the Washingtonian, regaled the audience with stories about Washington life. From left: Elaine Becker, Paula Rubenstein, Joyce Tanenbaum, Cynthia Snyder, Sonya Gerber, Shirley Greenberg, Sylvia Sheeskin, Jo Ann Cadeaux, Rachel Lieberman and Evelyn Dickman.
Avodah club (Syracuse, NY) honors Ona Cohn Bregman with its Na’amat Woman of Achievement Award at a gala luncheon and musical presentation. Each year the chapter pays tribute to a woman “who embodies the values of Na’amat and its members: building communities and making the world a better place for women, children and everyone.” Bregman is a clinical social worker in private practice and retired associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Social Work. She has long been active on the boards of not-forprofit, professional and religious organizations. Avodah will donate an educational scholarship in Bregman’s name to a female Israeli student. From left: co-president Nancy Barnett, honoree Ona Cohn Bregman, and co-president Karen Roberts.
Some 100 people attended Broward Council’s Israel 67th Anniversary luncheon. Doron Rachman, representing the Consulate of Israel in Miami and Puerto Rico, was the keynote speaker. Mazal tov to Isabel Resnick, president of Medina chapter, who was presented with a gift for recruiting the most new members. From left: Ruth Racusen, Doron Rachman, Bess Frumin, and Raena Zucker, Southeast Area coordinator.
Cleveland Council members hand out Na’amat lollipops and information at the Jewish community’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. From left: Dr. Linda Schoenberg, national board member, and Melanie Kutnick.
New York area members participate in a celebration of the life of Hortense (Horty) Zera, z"l, a longtime avid supporter of Na’amat USA, painter, sculptor and part of the early modern dance movement. A dance piece she choreographed, “Never Sign a Letter Mrs.,” was performed at New York Live Arts in Manhattan after which many friends shared reminiscences. Paintings from her monkey series decorate the wall. From left: Eastern Area director Ange Nadel, Genie Lehr, national vice president Jan Gurvitch, Horty’s daughters Barbara Abramson and Helene Zera, Eastern Area coordinator Doris Katz and national board member Irene Hack.
Palm Beach Council holds luncheon celebrating Israel’s 67th anniversary. The featured speaker was Hava Holzhauer, Florida ADL regional director, who discussed the work of ADL on college campuses to educate students about anti-Semitism and the BDS movement. From left: Joyce Schildkraut, council co-president, Doris Katz, president of Bayit Chadash chapter; Hava Holzhauer, Raena Zucker, Southeast Area Coordinator; Rhoda Birnbaum, council co-president.
And from our sisters in Na’amat Peru: Members are shown with Peruvian presidential candidate Julio Guzman. From left: Estrita Gross, Julio Guzman, co-president Lilian Eidelberg, co-president Nelly Kisilevich and Bertha Kogan.
Members of Aviva club (Chicago) enjoy a painting lesson with wine at Tipsy Paint. This follows their fundraiser at the Olive Tap tasting emporium. They know how to have a good time while raising funds for Na’amat.
Share Your Enthusiasm!
Give the Gift of Membership in Na’amat USA. Share the joy of making a real difference in the lives of Israeli women and children by giving an annual membership to a friend, relative, neighbor or colleague. This is a great gift for those who are concerned about Israel. It’s a wonderful way to say thank you to those who attend Na’amat USA events as guests but have not yet joined. And it’s a great way to reach out to those you care about and share your connection with Na’amat. Let them know what we really do for Israel, for our community and for each other. When you gift a membership, recipients will receive our beautiful and informative Na’amat Woman magazine and e-blasts.
Give gift memberships for $36 each. Yes, I want to share my enthusiasm!
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Please fill out form and send to the national office: Na’amat USA, 21515 Vanowen St., Suite 102, Canoga Park, CA 91303. Phone: (818) 431-2200.
Celebrate 90 years of empowering women by joining the NA’AMAT USA
Circle of Life!
When you take part in the Circle of Life, you help create a better life for the women of Israel. You educate women to expand their opportunities and achieve their goals • You protect women from domestic violence • You help women overcome the obstacles to gender equality • You encourage women to participate in political life • You empower women to become agents of social change • You reinforce women’s awareness of their value and rights • You invest in the economic growth of women and their families
Your Circle of Life donation will help maintain and expand Na’amat’s invaluable services for women throughout Israel: legal aid bureaus; vocational and professional education; intervention, treatment and prevention of domestic violence; community center enrichment programs; and advocacy for women’s rights. You can join the Circle of Life by contributing $1,800. Two people each donating $900 count as a circle. Donors’ names will be inscribed on the Circle of Life Wall at the Na’amat Women’s Center in Jerusalem. Use the envelope enclosed to send your contribution to Na’amat USA, 21515 Vanowen St., Suite 102, Canoga Park, CA 91303. Phone: 818-431-2200. SUMMER 2015
NA’AMAT USA: 90 Years of Standing Up for the Women and Youth of Israel! The largest women’s organization in Israel, Na’amat works to improve the status of women and provides educational and social services for women, children, teenagers and families.
With 300,000 members — Jewish, Arab and Druze women — and 30 branches, Na’amat provides a huge social service network throughout all of Israel.
Na’amat DAY CARE centers provide loving care for 18,000 preschoolers, with 25
Women, children and men get help at the GLICKMAN CENTER FOR THE
shelter for battered women.
Students get a fresh start at 18
COMMUNITY CENTERS throughout Israel
MULTIPURPOSE CENTERS devoted to
TECHNOLOGICAL HIGH SCHOOLS,
two youth villages, and vocational and professional education classes for adult women. Thirty LEGAL
provide women with legal advice and representation for issues concerning employment, marriage, divorce, single parenting and aging.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, which also has a
provide cultural and educational enrichment.
Na’amat FIGHTS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN in the Knesset and the courts so they
can be full and equal participants in Israeli society.
Every year, more than 200 SCHOLARSHIPS for higher education are awarded to deserving women. WOMEN’S RIGHTS CENTERS offer legal,
financial and family counseling; mediation and support groups.
For more information, please contact NA’AMAT USA, 21515 Vanowen Street, Suite 102, Canoga Park, CA 91303. Phone: 818-431-2200; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.naamat.org.