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Editor Judith A. Sokoloff Assistant Editor Gloria Gross
Courtesy, Maltz Museum
Courtesy, Ilana Goor Museum
Magazine of Na’amat USA Winter 2012-2013 Vol. XXVIII No. 1
Ilana Goor Museum.................................................................... 4 Like its creator Ilana Goor, this Jaffa museum is exciting, fearless and original. By Rahel Musleah
Cleveland: The Jewish Way....................................................... 10 The site of the Na’amat USA national convention in July 2013 has a vibrant Jewish history and a dynamic community today. By Judith Sudilovsky
Art Director Marilyn Rose
I Am Here!............................................................................... 14
Editorial Committee Harriet Green Sylvia Lewis Elizabeth Raider Shoshana Riemer Edythe Rosenfield Lynn Wax
A Jewish woman’s journey to Lithuania gives her a new and unexpected perspective on the Holocaust. By Ellen Cassedy
Na’amat News………………………………………………………….20 Interview with Galia Wolloch, new president of Na’amat Israel; school for Arab girls opens in Nazareth; Na’amat surveys working women; reaching out to young women.
Na’amat usa Officers PRESIDENT Elizabeth Raider
VICE PRESIDENTS Gail Simpson Chellie Goldwater Wilensky
TREASURER Debbie Kohn
by Elizabeth Raider................... 3
Her Story: Linda Zisquit by Robert Hirschfield............ 18
FINANCIAL SECRETARY Irene Hack
RECORDING SECRETARY Norma Kirkell Sobel
Na’amat Woman (ISSN 0888-191X) is published quarterly: fall, winter, spring, summer by Na’amat USA, 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302 New York, NY 10018 (212) 563-5222. $5.00 of the membership dues is for one year’s subscription. Nonmember subscriptions: $10.00. Signed articles represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Na’amat USA or its editors. Periodicals class postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster, please send address changes to Na’amat Woman, 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302, New York, NY 10018.
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by Marcia J. Weiss.............................. 27
Around the Country.......................................... 28
Na’amat usa Chairs Harriet Green National Funds, Gifts, Bequests Lynn Wax Club and Council Fund-raising
E-mail: email@example.com Web site: www.naamat.org
Na’amat Usa Area Offices
Our cover: “All the Women of the Bible” ©Enya Tamar Keshet, from her book In Her Voice: An Illuminated Book of Prayers for Jewish Women (Maggid Books/ Koren Publishers). The page lists all of the 115 women named in the Bible and two quotations from Proverbs praising women. See review on page 25.
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.
Eastern Area 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302 New York, NY 10018 212-563-4962 firstname.lastname@example.org Southeast Area 4400 N. Federal Hwy., Suite 50 Boca Raton, FL 33431 561-368-8898 email@example.com Midwest Area 10024 N. Skokie Blvd., Suite 226 Skokie, IL 60077 847-329-7172 firstname.lastname@example.org Western Area 16161 Ventura Blvd., #101 Encino, CA 91436 818-981-1298 email@example.com
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y the time you read this issue of Na’amat Woman, I am hopeful that the disastrous effects will have eased for our members and their families who suffered and sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy. The immense path of destruction caused by Sandy left us all in shock as we watched the continuous news reports and pictures that were broadcast day after day. And then came the nor’easter… We can be thankful for the resilience, compassion and cooperation of many, many Americans as we come together to help each other during these natural disasters — and proud that we live in a nation where political and religious differences are sidelined in the face of a major need for cooperation and assistance. Hopefully, we will begin the new year with renewed strength as a nation. October was an exciting time for members of the national board of Na’amat USA and the Eastern Area, who were honored to host Galia Wolloch, the new Na’amat Israel president; her husband, Ido; and Masha Lubelsky, Na’amat Israel representative to the World Zionist Organization Executive. Galia, Ido and Masha joined the national board in Newark, New Jersey, for our fall meeting, followed by a daylong visit to New York. I had originally met Galia when she served as chairperson of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa region of Na’amat Israel — at the opening of the Dizengoff day care center. It was a pleasure to renew our acquaintance and welcome her as president this fall.
In her remarks to the board, Galia outlined the new projects that we are undertaking in cooperation with Na’amat Israel, with special emphasis on the unique facility in Nazareth for Arab Israeli women. Officially opened this fall, the school will concentrate on furthering secondary education and professional training. It is the first of its kind in Israel and is housed in a state-of-the-art building accommodating more than 300 students. One of the many items on Galia’s Na’amat agenda, she told us, is to facilitate discussions with Israeli students about social pressure, bullying and the effect that Facebook postings can have on teenagers. Another goal is encouraging women to make their voices heard through Na’amat membership, both in the private and public sectors, while increasing public awareness about the need for job advancement and equal pay for women. Here’s a short excerpt from her talk: There are many challenges ahead. We have to strive to maintain and develop all our services, and at the same time, we must strive to make our society a better place for women. I believe that our goals are achievable. As long as women do not enjoy full equality, the State of Israel will not actually realize its full potential. Together, with combined efforts, we will make a better future for our children. Make sure to read the interview with Galia in this issue’s “Na’amat News” for a more detailed picture of her plans. As our representative to the WZO Executive, Masha reported on some of the efforts around the
world to introduce Zionist activities and help sustain Jewish culture. The WZO is a major proponent in fighting anti-Semitism in Europe and strengthening the worldwide Jewish population in pursuit of social justice, she pointed out. After the meetings, the national board members hosted a reception for our Israeli visitors, giving us the opportunity to speak with them on a number of topics in a less formal setting. Members of the Eastern Area attended two outstanding events on Monday, October 22, where they had a chance to talk with Galia and Masha: a brunch at the New York City home of Irene Hack, national financial secretary; and the Long Island Queens Council dinner for paid-up membership. The following day, Galia, Ido and Masha were off to visit Na’amat Canada.
USA has been expanding our outreach through digital technology. Our increased use of e-blasts and Facebook has had some very positive, and often immediate, results. Every time we send an e-blast, we can track the number of respondents who not only open it, but also click through to our Web site, join as members or make a donation. We have had particularly good results with our expanded video of Mayim Bialik endorsing Na’amat, which can be viewed on our Web site and Facebook page. As we add more addresses, these numbers have been steadily increasing. Please send us your e-mail address if you want to be on top of our organizational news. To further promote our work, Na’amat USA and Na’amat Canada are partnering in a joint project to produce videos about Na’amat and continued on page 28 WINTER 2012/2013
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Ilana Goor Museum This unusual museum in Jaffa is an exciting artistic, architectural
and cultural experience rolled into one. Like its creator, a passionate artist and collector, it is fearless and original. by RAHEL MUSLEAH
n the rooftop sculpture garden of the Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa, Israel, crows and doves — sometimes even a pelican or a hawk — perch alongside their bronze counterparts, looking out over the spectacular, deepblue panorama of the Mediterranean. The juxtaposition is not accidental. The museum merges life and art organically, embodying the philosophy of the internationally renowned 76-yearold Israeli sculptor, designer and art collector who also makes her private home in part of the museum. Even among artists known for their free spirits, Goor stands out as an innovative, out-ofArtist Ilana the-box presence — the Goor, above; the museum sits on a native birds an apt symhill in Old Jaffa. bol of her unfettered cre-
ative imagination. The museum, open to the public since 1995, displays over 500 pieces — both Goor’s own bold furniture, jewelry and sculpture as well as her eclectic yet harmonious art collection ranging from Egyptian antiques and found objects to the paintings of young, contemporary Israeli artists she likes to take under her wing. An artistic, architectural and cultural experience rolled into one, the museum is now a top tourist destination in the Tel Aviv area. Na’a m at Israel named her best woman artist of the year in 1984. “I teach people not to be afraid. Don’t just copy other people. Learn how to display things in your own home. Think for yourself what you like,” says Goor. “Good art is anything that moves you and that you don’t get tired of.” Enter the 18th-century stone build-
ing in the heart of Jaffa’s artists’ quarter, and Goor’s aesthetic vision becomes immediately apparent. Photos of the ramshackle, deserted structure as she found it in the late 1970s greet visitors in the foyer. Once an inn for Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, then an olive oil soap factory, a synagogue for Libyan Jews, housing for Balkan immigrants and even a private Arab home, it was abandoned for 30 years. Goor bought part of the building in 1983 as a private residence; she had no idea of its Photos, Courtesy of Ilana Goor Museum
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history. As her art collection grew, she decided to open a museum and showroom, a hands-on lesson in art and craft, and purchased the rest of the building. The initial renovation took three years, during which she uncovered its story. The museum’s sole curator, Goor chose and hung every piece herself, creating a palpable energy by placing old and new side by side. An antique Middle Eastern door with separate lower and upper entrances for walkers and those who rode animals reaches almost to the ceiling; she balanced the empty space at the top with a web of whimsical, dangling spiders, a few furry ones straight from Ikea. Goor purchased and transported a tile floor from a Catholic school in Bethlehem to preserve the building’s authentic character (she sent them new tiles). In the main atrium that fans out around the core of the museum, she added light bulbs alongside candles in a magnificent Islamic chandelier of blue glass tubes etched with verses from the Koran. Round skylights in the ceiling let in natural light, and to get to upper floors, visitors can choose between an elevator and a staircase with a bird-decorated iron banister. No glass walls or display cases separate viewers from the art. “Who would do such a thing except for somebody like me? Somebody with the talent, success, vision and money,” Goor declares unabashedly in an interview after a museum tour, her strong,
no-nonsense approach front and center. “And more than that, I do everything myself and I stick to it, every day.” Even with a staff of 17, she doesn’t overlook a thing, reminding an Arab handyman to water the plants. “Every place I live is my sculpture. Every handle, every screw here — it all has my touch. It’s a living museum. I live inside my art. When I’m not here it looks like the soul is missing.” Her own creations embody simplicity, power and originality. “I love to make something from nothing,” explains Goor, who softens and bends crude, strong and rough materials like iron and bronze. “I conquer the material. That’s why I like furniture.” Anything that’s functional is exciting because it doesn’t just collect dust, she says. “I like things that I use. It’s not that a statue is art and a table isn’t.” In 1988, Goor received the prestigious Roscoe Design Award for a rocking chair of leather and curved iron that looks light enough to fly. “I got the idea one morning in New York,” she recalls. “I saw a broken sled thrown on the snow.” The chair is displayed in the Design Room, which features a Goor series of limited-edition contemporary furniture and lighting items both artistic and functional as well as pieces by international designers Frank Gehry, Ingo Maurer, Gerrit Rietveld and Ron Arad. Goor continuously plays with movement and material, mixing unlikely combinations of wood, fur, metal, Plexiglas, leather and fabric.
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orn in Tiberias to a atrium presents Zionist family, Goor creations by Ilana lives parttime in Jaffa and Goor, together parttime in Manhattan with artworks in various media by (her husband of 55 years, top Israeli artists Lenny Lowengrub, is an such as Yaacov American businessman Agam, Yaacov who owns the Theatre Dorchin and Uri Refreshment Company Lifshitz. in New York). But, she emphasizes, “for me Israel is always home. I’m blue and white through and through.” Three large major works made of rusty tools and old plows, part of Goor’s “Earth” series (exhibited in a show called “Hybrids” at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2006) reflect her connection to the land of Israel. In “The Crown of the Earth,” one of the plows is covered in 22-carat gold leaf and suspended above the harsh metal that Goor has twisted to resemble softer balls of twine, glorifying the earth and the Israel she remembers from her youth. “The main theme of my work is life. I work parallel to life. This is actually what art is. I’m not competing with life because I can’t paint a tree as beautiful as it is in real life so I go parallel to it in my own eyes.” “Ilana has no limits but her own,” says Sophia Dekel Caspi, who curated the “Hybrids” show. “She has formed her own language by crossing traditional sculpting materials such as bronze, wood and gold alongside modern maNa’amat Woman
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terials such as iron, glass and Plexiglas. Her preference and skill at interweaving seemingly incompatible objects is what makes her art so unexpected.” The atrium features works by other well-known Israeli artists that intersect with some of the “Earth” themes: Yaacov Agam’s gold-coated kinetic sculpture of metal pipes (“Untitled”); Uri Lifshitz’s portrait of Golda Meir — Israel’s earth mother — immediately recognizable though the view is of her back; and Menashe Kadishman’s hybrid sculpture-painting of Goor crossed with a sheep redolent of Israel, iron filaments for hair, spots of color for eyes, and a paintbrush in her right hand. Goor enjoys how artists see her, and several other portraits of her grace the museum. Interestingly, Goor is far from the stereotypical flock-follower. “I do what I want,” she says in a documentary about her, titled “Out of the Box.” “I do everything for myself, for my personal pleasure.” One of her joys is driving a Rolls Royce in Manhattan, its basic, classy shape a delight to her eye. Another is collecting shoes — not
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spiky Imelda Marcos heels, but “men’s shoes for women” and the short boots she wears summer or winter. She turns over a Ralph Lauren alligator shoe from the hundreds in her closet. “For me it’s like art,” she observes. Goor’s appearance is as unconventional as her art. She dresses in men’s clothing — comfortable, hand-tailored pants and shirts — her gray hair loose and cascading around her chiseled face, her eyes shielded by round sunglasses. She is respectful, almost reverent, about material, caressing the cottons, linens and silks on the bolt when she chooses them at a designer’s studio. She wears many of her own designs, including a massive gold bracelet embellished with an image of a goat (all the animals she depicts are native to Israel), a leather bracelet with a gold bullet (“we are in war forever and I was born in a war”), and a leather belt with a large metal buckle. “I make things I can’t find, and I don’t like to change,” she explains. “I’ve been wearing this gold bracelet since 1987.” In fact, one of Goor’s first commercial successes grew from
a simple, unisex belt buckle she designed for her husband. A Bloomingdales representative spotted him wearing it and asked her to design a line of belts. She sold millions of dollars worth in thousands of upscale shops. “Ilana is a fearless artist with an innate sense of creativity…. Everything [she] designs is an object of desire,” says the designer Donna Karan, a friend who owns some of Goor’s work. “I met her art first, before I met her, and that’s where you see a person.” Goor’s art inhabits every room in the museum, living side by side with collections from her curiosity-fueled travels around the globe for the past 50 years (the only countries she has not visited are Australia and New Zealand). Each room has its own atmosphere, based on its theme. Off the Atrium, the Monk’s Room shocks with a powerful, disturbing work called “The Morning After” that dominates the room. Two 300-year-old monks’ tables that Goor found in a
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monastery in Greece teem with huge bronze cockroaches, ants, insects, reptiles and birds preying on dried skulls and other deteriorating human parts, climbing over utensils and over each other to gnaw at leftover food. “It’s about the circle of life,” explains tour manager Mimi Wiener Mishor. “There was a dinner here, and the people ate the animals. After the people died, the animals came to eat the remains of the people.” The turmoil is punctured by table lamps crafted from painted hookahs that burst in lively color. The African Space, dedicated to tribal ritual and function as art, features childbearing beds, a chief ’s throne made of 3,000 beads, ceremonial tools and food bowls, masks, statues and utensils of carved wood, raffia, ropes, beads, shells and fruit peels. The connection to Goor’s earth-centric work is obvious, especially when “Humble Bird,” one of her own sculptures made from African hoes and Israeli plows, stands in the midst of the collection. Next door to the African Space, a working kitchen holds a modern stainless fridge, copper pots, old tools, pans from Morocco, samovars from Russia
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and oversized bowls from China. The Christianity Room, filled with olive wood crucifixes and statuettes, expresses Goor’s respect for other religions. Again, one of her works fits in organically. “Jewish Cross” ingeniously turns a menorah upside down, its branches like roots, its trunk sprouting upward into a crucifix festooned with birds. Jesus is at the very top. Roots of a different variety spread out in the Miniatures Room, which holds small statuettes by Diego Giacometti, Henry Moore and other artists. Surrounding niches hold jugs — perhaps wombs or burial urns — cracked open by emerging, deformed heads. This is Goor’s “Roots” series. “People try to escape the pots but they are stuck there,” Goor notes. “All my life I’ve been completely attached to Israel. It takes a few generations to leave your roots.” Part of the museum’s charm stems from the building’s character, which Goor has chosen to preserve and display as a piece of art itself. A lacy amphorae ceiling made of ancient clay pitchers vaults beehive-like over the Miniatures Room. In 2010, the cement ceiling began to peel and, during its repair, work-
ers uncovered the amphorae concealed below. The pitchers impressed into the cement not only support the weight of the massive ceiling, but also insulate the room from heat and cold since hot or cold air remains inside the pitchers. A similar ceiling was discovered in the kitchen. In the basement, where the museum shop is located, an old limestone oven recalls the production of olive oil soap and perfume. Goor loves living side by side with Jaffa’s Arab residents. “I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” she says, noting that she had an Arab nanny. “They are wonderful people. The problem is their leaders. Our group of nuts is any better? Why can’t we live and let live? When they come to me with their problems, I help as much as I can.” She describes herself as a good friend to others. “If you can’t share your success, it doesn’t mean anything.” Arched windows and doorways emphasize the building’s Middle Eastern ambience. Sculptures The Lattice Space, which blend with displays works that indinature in the Sculpture rectly comment on women Garden on the and gender, was originally museum’s roof. a peeping area for Muslim
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women who were not allowed to wander the streets freely. They looked out through small lattice windows on the alleyways below for entertainment and communication. In Goor’s “Seating Set,” bronze cats and birds lounge on and around a table and chairs — perhaps amusements for Western women as the view from the balcony amused women from the East. “Both the women and the pets were locked inside the house instead of being real and wild in nature,” Mishor offers her interpretation. A chandelier designed in the shape of an open birdcage enables the birds to come and go as they please, to fly, wander away and return if they choose. Despite the themes of freedom in her work and her own fierce personal independence, Goor vehemently objects to being called a feminist. “If you’re talented — man or woman — you float on top,” she declares, describing herself as a good wife and good mother to two sons — Kenny, an entrepreneur who lives in New York and works in China; Ashley, a jewelry designer and distributor who lives in Los Angeles; and two boxers, Beauty and Joe Joe, whose unconditional love she cherishes. “I’m a regular housewife. I cook and keep a house and I’m not embarrassed. Feminist I’m not.”
The library houses literature about Israel, culture and art. Visitors can make themselves comfortable on the 17th-century Austro-Hungarian chairs and couches.
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oor comes by her empowerment honestly. Her mother, Dr. Rachel Raya Sapir-Goor, the first gynecologist in Tiberias, represents the epitome of the strong, self-made woman. In the 1930s, Tiberias was the French Riviera of Israel, says Goor, and the family lived in a “fantastic Bauhaus building” overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Her mother not only traveled all over the Galilee delivering babies, but also visited her native Switzerland twice a year to buy shoes and clothes and special-ordered Bauhaus furniture. Goor has inherited her mother’s innate taste that she has paired with a disregard for conventionality. A hospital operating lamp — a Salvation Army purchase — fits right into her private living room, alongside a glass-topped table with pull-out drawers that she crafted and sofas of iron and wood covered with kilim rugs. “My mother used to operate, so for her the lamp belonged in a hospital. For me, it looks terrific in my place.” Sapir-Goor died of cancer when her daughter was 11. “My whole world fell down,” Goor recalls. “Mother Ship,” a sculpture of a sailboat in the Tiberias harbor promenade, honors her mother’s memory. “Woman Against the Wind,” a dynamic bronze angel representing freedom, faces the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv. “My mother did what she wanted, and I’m doing what I want,” she repeats. “But I see that for
other women you have to fight against the wind to win the wind.” In the library on the museum’s second floor, a gilded 17th-century Austro-Hungarian sofa is encrusted with a symbol of Lady Godiva, another woman who fought the wind, protesting her husband’s unfair tax levy in a dramatic and outspoken way. The intimate space brings the rest of the Goor family to life. Set up as a European living room, it is dedicated to Goor’s grandfather, Dr. Yosef Sapir, a gynecologist, artist and ardent Zionist (he made aliyah in 1925 from Odessa and distributed Zionist literature throughout the world). Goor has preserved his paintings and sculptures, including bronzes of the one-handed Zionist hero, fighter and pioneer Josef Trumpeldor; Zionist leader Menachem Ussishkin; and Sapir’s wife Matilda, a concert pianist who played for the Czar. Two chairs that belonged to the Goors hang sideways above family portraits and below the ceiling, perhaps symbolic of the skewed world Goor found herself in after her mother’s death. Her father, Andre, found it difficult to raise two children alone, so he left to study in the United States and became a hydraulic engineer and a professor at Johns Hopkins. Goor was raised on a kibbutz with her brother Danny, today a top cardiac surgeon, and later lived with other relatives. Her dyslexia prevented her from going to school.
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“I had no framework, nothing, but I did all right — much better than most people. I directed my life,” says Goor. “I believe in following 100 percent your ideas. Everybody has a dream but if you don’t bring it to reality it’s like smoking marijuana. You lose yourself.” She doesn’t complain much — not even about two painful knee replacements she endured a year ago. Being an 11-year-old without parents taught her how to handle life and unexpected tragedy, she says. “I had a son who died when he was less than a year old,” she recounts in “Out of the Box,” wiping away tears. “I can’t talk about him. Kara mah shekara [what happened, happened]. It’s part of life, a blurry memory. It’s always like a wound you try to suppress.” Time heals, she observes. “It teaches us how to get over anything. Life isn’t all about blossoming.” But Goor did blossom as an artist. As a child, she started sewing on a neighbor’s machine. She made toys, slingshots and wooden dolls dressed in pieces of burlap, and set up her own camping home in her backyard. “I didn’t know anything else. I was always by myself. People belonged to youth groups. Not me. I was always happy alone, busy with my own thoughts and ideas. In a group you can’t create. But I always had lots of people around me. Kids were fascinated with me because I made toys and other things.” She was also a champion swimmer. “It was a different life,” she says. The walls of the museum shop and
her apartment are papered with photo- whale, appropriate for the port of Jaffa graphic collages from her childhood un- where the prophet Jonah boarded a ship til today, capturing moments with politi- to try to escape his mission. “The only cians like Shimon Peres and Bill Clinton thing that smiles in Israel is my whale,” and celebrities like Michael Jackson, Di- she jokes caustically. The museum, she ana Ross and the Dalai Lama. “The pho- says, is her best sculpture of all. Goor admires artists like Henry tos remind me of what I went through,” she says. (You can see some on her Web Moore and Francis Bacon for their guts and revolutionary ideas — but doesn’t site, www.ilanagoor.com.) Except for a few months at Bezalel try to emulate them. Disappointed by School of Art in Jerusalem, Goor never the commercialized art scene today, she studied art or design formally. Since her has stopped attending shows and openfirst one-woman exhibition at the Cali- ings. “People are copying each other. I fornia Museum of Science and Industry feel like I have seen everything before.” in Los Angeles in 1972 (she lived in LA for She does enjoy the work of contem20 years until she moved to New York in porary South African artist Marlene 1981), her art has been exhibited in nu- Dumas (“her pictures are all alive”) merous museums and is installed in public and continues to mentor and support areas in Israel and abroad. “Never Again,” younger artists by purchasing their her first large sculpture, is on display out- works and arranging shows for them. Goor does not have a studio. At one side Yad Vashem. A huge, robust woman looks ahead, carrying the shoes of the time, she intended to build one in the gadead in her open hands. The place where rage of her East Side Manhattan home, her face should be resembles a chimney. a former four-story carriage house that “I wanted to make something optimistic. she expanded to six floors, but she found This woman, very proud, walks out of the she could work only in Israel. She collabHolocaust with her memory, but she is orates extensively with the Jaffa-based moving towards a new future. She repre- craftsmen and welders who execute her designs — all of which are for sale. sents the Jewish people.” An eagle in the Herzliya marina is “I don’t start with a finished design. It one of her favorite works; the “lion of comes as I work.” The process is almost intuitive, and she experiments birds” straddles two concrete until she gets it right. Once a columns, a standing sentinel The African Space houses chair is finished, she takes it looking down on the observer an eclectic home and lives with it a month. If with sadness in its eyes. Not collection of everything she creates is seri- original functional it’s not perfect, she returns to the craftsman’s shop. “When I start I ous. “Smiling Whale,” a sculp- items that once don’t know which direction I’m ture near the museum, depicts belonged to ancient African going in — and when the piece a cheery bronze rubber-ducky tribes. moves me, it’s done, but not forever. You have to go from one project to the next. The excitement is in the doing.” An upcoming furniture show is scheduled for the Punta della Dogana, Venice’s modern art museum. She reacts with incredulity when asked if she has other hobbies. “You’re kidding me. How much can a person do? My life is my hobby. My goal is to continue to create, and to create better.” Rahel Musleah is a New York-based writer, author, singer and educator who presents programs on the Jews of India and Iraq. She wrote “Negev Diary” in our summer 2012 issue. Visit her Web site:wwwrahelsjewishindia.com. WINTER 2012/2013
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The site of the Na’amat USA national convention in July 2013 has a vibrant, growing Jewish population. It’s a community that has made an important impact on Cleveland socially, politically and architecturally. by JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
rowing up in Cleveland, I got used to hearing the standard jibes and barbs about my hometown. Even here in Jerusalem, where I eventually settled after leaving Cleveland over a quarter century ago, I am regaled with a Cleveland joke or a sympathetic look every once in a while when
Old postcard shows the Euclid Avenue Temple, dedicated in 1912, the original building of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, now in Beachwood.
someone finds out where I’m from. Sure, for some, Cleveland might seem like an easy target for jokes with its history of burning rivers and perpetually-losing sports teams. But having left Cleveland’s eastern suburbs as a bright-eyed young woman eager to see the world, I have come to appreciate Cleveland and all its hidden 10
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charms: the cultural diversity; the myriad of cultural, social and educational opportunities; the ease of parking; the friendliness; the Metro parks; and, after years of dry winters in Israel, even the rain and snow. And as I have watched two of my siblings raise their families within the Jewish community where we grew up, I have also learned to appreciate the diversity of Jewish experiences available in my old Midwest hometown. From the golden dome of the landmark building of Cleveland’s second congregation, The Temple-Tifereth Israel in University Circle, to the newer hub of Jewish institutions that has cropped up in the eastern suburb of Beachwood since I left — which includes the Mandel Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center (with its touching memorial to native Cleveland Olympian David Berger, who was on the Israeli weight lifting team and was killed by terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics), a college of Jewish studies, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, and Jewish day schools and synagogues — the Cleveland Jewish community has made an impact on Cleveland socially, politically and architecturally. “Cleveland was an great, interest-
ing place to grow up, with a strong Labor Zionist community,” says Elizabeth Raider, national president of Na’amat USA. She lived in a two-family house with her aunt, Sarah Halperin, who was a founder and longtime activist of Cleveland Na’amat USA (then called Pioneer Women). Raider’s mother, Naomi Packer, was also involved in the organization. “For many years, Halperin’s home was a gathering place for Pioneer Women, the Labor Zionist Alliance and the Jewish intelligentsia,” she recalls. Through Halperin, Raider became involved in Habonim, where she met her husband, Dave, who also grew up in the city. “The Cleveland Jewish community is regarded as a very exceptional community,” says Edith Paller, 83, a Clevelander whose family has been active in Na’amat USA since the mid-1930s. Paller served in every office of her chapter as well as twice on the national board. Prior to her aliyah to Israel four years ago, following her husband’s death, she had lived in Cleveland most of her life. “There is a Jewish community that lives largely in close proximity to each other and has people who are really philanthropic and give — a lot — which sets the pace for the community leadership,” she says. Indeed, Cleveland has the highest per capita of percentage of giving of any Jewish community in the United States, says long-time resident Nate Arnold, a Maltz Museum volunteer docent, who also leads tours of Jewish Cleveland sev-
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Cleveland has been a great place to live for our family. There is a strong Jewish community that offers so many opportunities for our kids spiritually and culturally. eral times a year as his contribution to the Jewish community. Five years ago, Arnold was asked by the JCC to take a senior citizen group down memory lane. Since then, he has been leading six groups a year on visits to the original synagogue buildings — where today Christian congregations worship — and through the “old neighborhoods” of Kinsman and Glenville, where, in the 1930s, Jewish students Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Superman character. The Siegel and Shuster Society, founded in 2007, raised $150,000 to restore the Cleveland house where Jerry Siegel lived. The site draws fans from around the country, and the society recently created a life-sized exhibit of the superhero in the baggage claim area of Hopkins International Airport to draw attention to the Cleveland connection. “The Cleveland Jewish community is like a big small town. It is very close knit,” observes Arnold. With a growing Orthodox community, Cleveland’s Jewish community has migrated to the eastern suburbs and numbers some 81,500 people, mak-
ing up almost three percent of the city’s population. The community supports a Jewish Federation; 32 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues and one Reconstructionist congregation; the Workmen’s Circle (a Jewish community center); 14 Jewish pre-schools; 5 Jewish day schools ranging in character from pluralistic to Orthodox; 2 assisted living facilities for seniors; several social assistance organizations; and 6 kosher restaurants, including the first kosher Subway franchise in North America. Although Cleveland’s population study shows that being Jewish is very important to three out of four Jews in the region, and being part of a Jewish community is important to half, notes Lynda A. Bender, executive director of Maltz Museum of Jewish History, like other American Jewish communities, Cleveland Jews are concerned about the rising rate of intermarriage — 38 percent in 2011 as opposed to 23 percent in 1996 — and the decline in formal synagogue affiliation. “The Jewish community is also more economically vulnerable than the general perception may be,” says Bender, noting
Na’amat USA Archives
Leo Weidenthal, publisher of the Jewish Independent and president of Cleveland Gardens Federation. Photo on the right shows the Hebrew Cultural Garden today.
ioneer Women (now Na’amat USA) held national conventions in Cleveland in 1945 and 1959. This photo shows the organization’s dedication of a bronze plaque in the Hebrew Cultural Garden on behalf of its Israeli sister organization. It reads: “Moetzet Hapoalot honors Pioneer Women in America; Dedicated to the woman pioneer of Israel; National convention-Cleveland, O., 1959.” The plaque was created by sculptor Batya Lishansky, sister of Rahel Yanit Ben-Zvi, first lady of Israel and a founder of Pioneer Women. (Golda Meir, then Israel’s foreign minister, spoke at this convention.) From left: Mayor Anthony Celebreze, Moetzet Hapoalot representative Shoshana Hareli, and
that 19 percent of Jewish households report income below [200 percent of the] federal poverty level, compared to Baltimore, where the level is 12 percent and Chicago at 11 percent. “Well over 50 percent of all Cleveland Jewish households were negatively impacted by the economic downturn.” Nevertheless, though it may come as a shocker to some, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland 2011 population study actually shows a 14-percent increase in the number of Jewish households in Cleveland since 1996. Almost 30 percent of the population are baby boomers, and 23 percent are children under the age of 18. “This was a surprise to some who felt the community must be shrinking,” says Bender. “The report indicates that sources of decline include anecdotal information about young adults leaving Cleveland, declines in the number of people affiliated with Jewish organizations, and population declines overall in Cleveland/North East Ohio.” The less visible increase of the Jewish population includes the Orthodox population, which has grown from 14 percent of the Cleveland Jewish population in 1996, to 18 percent in 2011. There has also been an influx of 5,300 Jewish newcomers and 2,600 Jewish returnees to Cleveland. Many Jewish couples, like my two siblings and their spouses, have opted to make Cleveland their home because
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Courtesy, Zip Comics/Top Shelf Productions
Recommended Jewish Sites
of the strong Jewish community. Growing up, this community gave us an anchor, a base from which to discover, challenge and formulate our own Jewish identity while exposing us to the variety of other ethnic groups that make up the city’s population. “Cleveland has been a great place to live for our family for so many reasons: the affordability; the strong Jewish community offers so many opportunities for our kids spiritually and culturally,” says my sister-in-law, Susie Friedman, whose maternal great-grandfather, 12
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The Hebrew Cultural Gardens on East Boulevard in the University Circle neighborhood near the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Cultural Gardens area is devoted to the many ethnic groups in the Cleveland community. The Hebrew Garden was the first garden to be opened and was dedicated in 1926. The Temple-Tifereth Israel main campus on 105th and Ansel Road, not far from University Circle and the Cultural Gardens. It’s often referred to as “Silver’s Temple” for Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver who led the congregation from 1917 to 1963. The childhood home of Jerry Siegal, co-creator of Superman, at 10622 Kimberly Avenue in the Glenville neighborhood. Although currently a private home not open to visitors, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places and has signage reflecting its history. Glenville was the center of Jewish life in the 1930s and ’40s. The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage at 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood. The Jewish community has moved progressively east. The Maltz Museum resides in what is often considered the Jewish campus, which includes the Temple-Tifereth Israel suburban branch, the Mandel JCC, Siegal College of Judaic Study, and Agnon Day School. The new headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is nearby, as are various other synagogues and Jewish day schools.
Walter Stern, was one of the founding members of The Temple-Tifereth Israel. “In addition to having strong family ties here, our kids have a strong Jewish identity in large part because of Jewish summer camp and theater programs in the Jewish community and also a strong religious school experience through our congregation, Park Synagogue, where my husband, was raised.” The cultural diversity that makes Cleveland such a comfortable place for Jews also attracts people from other ethnicities. Susie says she feels fortunate that her children can have strong ties within the local Jewish community while still being exposed to children from different backgrounds within their own social circle. Though today Cleveland is a pluralistic community, it was not always so. Arnold relishes telling the story of the Van Sweringen brothers, two prominent railroad barons who owned large tracts of land in what is today the affluent suburbs of Shaker Heights and largely Jewish Beachwood. Virulently anti-Semitic, the brothers did not allow
Above: Panels from the graphic novel Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, written by Pekar with illustrations by Joseph Remnant. Cleveland was Pekar’s home all his life. Left: the childhood home of Jerry Siegal, co-creator of the Superman character.
any of their property to be sold to Jews. Ironically, Arnold relates, today their former mansion stands right across the street from Shaker Lakes, where Cleveland Jews perform the traditional ceremony of tashlich, casting away their sins, during the High Holidays. “Today, Jews are very much a part of Cleveland,” says Arnold. From the Progressive Field (baseball) and the Quicken Loans Arena (basketball), whose namesake insurance companies are Jewish-owned, to buildings whose funding was donated by Jewish families at Cleveland State University and the Cleveland Clinic — where decades ago Jews were not permitted to work — Jews have made their mark in their greater Cleveland community. “We feel very comfortable here. Anti-Semitism in Cleveland is minimal.” Thanks to the lasting influence of Cleveland’s most prominent rabbi, Abba Hillel Silver, it is also a staunchly Zionist community, Arnold explains. At the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, interactive exhibits showcase Cleveland’s Jewish history from the arrival of the first group of Jewish immigrants in the 1830s to the involvement in the civil rights movement of rabbis such as Arthur Lelyveld, to the contribution to Cleveland society of prominent business families such as the Ratners and Sapersteins. The museum, founded in 2005, documents the diversity of Cleveland’s Jewish heritage within the context of the American experience. It also aims to promote an understanding of Jewish
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history, religion and culture to foster appreciation and tolerance among different peoples. Bender notes that many first-time visitors expect to see a Holocaust mu-
Below, left: Children of all ethnic backgrounds enjoy visiting the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.
ity we have to care for one another,” explains Bender. Another renewed city gem is the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, a series of some
commemorating prominent Jewish personalities such as Chaim Nachman Bialik, Moses Mendelssohn, Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion, Emma Lazarus, Elie Wiesel and Steven Spielberg were put up during the recent revamping of the gardens to replace plaques that had been stolen for scrap metal. seum but then find that the museum is “much more than that.” The interactive exhibits not only discuss the Jewish Holocaust, but also place the issues of racism and tolerance in a broader context, highlight the Jewish contribution to the development of the city, and showcase a unique collection of Judaica. The museum also hosts special events, movies and lectures and welcomes many school groups — both Jewish and non-Jewish — for tours of the museum. “The museum is a place where people and ideas come together to connect to the proud history of the Jewish people, consider the corrosiveness of hatred, and recognize the responsibil-
35 individual gardens that run along Martin Luther King Boulevard highlighting individual ethnic groups that have contributed to the development of Cleveland and the United States at large. Two of the original founders of the gardens, which began as a literary garden in 1916, were Jewish; the Hebrew Cultural Garden, dedicated in 1926, was second to be landscaped after the British Cultural Garden. The Hebrew Cultural Garden is laid out with the sandstone walk forming a six-pointed star, known as the Shield of David, around the Wisdom Fountain, which also reflects the star with six sides and points. New plaques
Jewish Eating In Cleveland Corky and Lenny’s deli on Chagrin Boulevard is a Cleveland tradition. Jack’s Deli in Beachwood has been a community favorite for more than 30 years. Newer eateries that have sprouted near Jack’s at the corner of Cedar and Green to serve the growing Orthodox community include the Jerusalem Grill, Issi’s Place (known for its pizza), the more upscale Sababa Cuisine, and Lax and Mandel Kosher Bakery. The Mandel JCC, close to the Maltz Museum, is home to the first kosher Subway franchise in North America. For a more gourmet dining experience, there is the Contempo Cuisine restaurant on Cedar Road in University Heights.
ounded at the foot of the Cuyahoga River by surveyor Moses Cleaveland in 1796, Cleveland soon began attracting immigrants from all over, thanks to its port. In its heydays in the 1800s, Cleveland’s port was an industrial and shipping powerhouse. But, unfortunately, because of all this industry, the river became extremely polluted and has been the site of no less than 13 fires since 1868, the last one in 1969 — spurring the environmental movement in the United States. Not long after Cleveland’s founding, Amsterdam-born Dr. Daniel Levi Peixotto, the first of Cleveland’s Jews, arrived in 1835 with his family from New York to fill a teaching position at Willoughby Medical College, making him Ohio’s first Jewish doctor. He recontinued on page 26
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I Am Here!
A Jewish woman’s journey to Lithuania gives her a new perspective on the Holocaust and today’s world. “I wanted to judge, once and for all,” the writer explains. “But my visit to the Old World changed me.” by ELLEN CASSEDY
set out for the Old World in an effort to connect with my own family past. But my journey into the old Jewish heartland expanded far beyond my family story. I ended up exploring how a country scarred by genocide is engaging with the past. And that exploration changed me. My grandfather, Yankl Levin, came to America from Lithuania in 1911, escaping the Czarist draft. This is my Jewish grandfather on my mother’s side. (The other side has to do with England, Germany and Ireland, which is where the name Cassedy comes from.) When my mother was alive, I could count on her to keep track of my grandfather and all those who had come before. But after she died, I felt my family past threatening to disappear. My mother had used Yiddish only sparingly, like a spice, but when she died, I found myself missing it. And when I learned of a summer institute for studying Yiddish in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, I was eager to go. I wanted to walk the streets where my
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forebears had walked, to breathe that air. At that point I barely knew where Lithuania was. I had to get out an atlas to learn that it is the most southern of the three Baltic republics, with Latvia and Estonia on top. It’s half the size of New York State, and the population — 3.5 million, of whom just 4,000 are Jews — is tiny. One thing I did know was that Lithuania had a notorious Holocaust history. Like many Americans in the generations after World War II, I was brought up with the commandment “Never Forget!” As a child, I was encouraged to think of myself as a kind of memorial candle whose job was to carry forward the memory of pain, death and injustice. Inside me was an unexamined antipathy toward the people of Eastern Europe, an us-versus-them, black-and-white construct that had been passed along from my grandfather, to
my mother, to me. I knew that in 1941, when the German army invaded, the Jews of Lithuania were massacred with a swiftness and thorAbove: Ellen oughness that was unCassedy. usual even for that time. I Below: A street knew that it was the Gerin Rokiskis, man invaders who issued where the the orders, but in most author’s family history goes cases it was Lithuanians back to the who pulled the triggers. mid-1800s. I knew that nearly every Lithuanian town has its pit in the forest, not far from the market square, where Jews were assembled, shot and hastily buried in mass graves. In Ellen Cassedy
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Courtesy, Ellen Cassedy
the Lithuanian cities, tens of thousands of Jews were confined in ghettos; most were eventually killed. By the end of the war, only 6 percent of Lithuania’s 240,000 Jews remained alive. One of them was my Uncle Will. Before leaving for the Yiddish program in Vilnius, I went to New York to see Uncle Will, and I brought some street maps I’d downloaded from the Internet. My uncle was 87 years old. Sixty years had passed since he left Europe. But he could still put his finger on exactly where he’d lived and where he went to school. Then, however, my uncle did something that profoundly changed my journey to Lithuania. He took me aside and told me that while he was confined in the ghetto in the Lithuanian city of Siauliai (Shavl in Yiddish), he’d been a member of the Jewish ghetto police. I’d known my uncle all my life. All my life, I’d treasured heroic images of him in the Holocaust. I knew he’d saved two little girls during a roundup. I knew he’d saved my Uncle Aaron’s life on the death march out of Dachau. But this, being a member of the Jewish ghetto police, I’d never heard. I knew that in ghettos all across Europe, Nazi authorities had required the Jews to create an internal police force with the job of carrying out Nazi orders. In some Lithuanian ghettos, the Jewish police had lined up people to be marched to the killing fields. But the Jewish police also helped people by subverting Nazi orders and helping them to escape. The Jewish ghetto police were controversial among the inhabitants of the ghettos back then, and they have remained controversial ever since. Primo Levi, the eloquent survivor of Auschwitz, called them inhabitants of a “gray zone” where good and evil blur. As Uncle Will revealed this new information from his past, the picture of the Holocaust that I’d grown up with began to break apart. I could feel myself becoming agitated, ashamed. What had Uncle Will done in the ghetto? And what was I to do with this disturbing disclosure? Should I defend my uncle?
Above: A map of the vanished Jewish world recently drawn by a Lithuanian schoolchild. Right: The author’s grandfather, Yankl Levin (left), and a friend in Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century.
Condemn him? Forgive him? Then another bombshell fell. I’d written to Rokiskis, the town where my ancestors had lived for generations, and now I heard back from an official there. She wrote that there was an old gentile man in town — I’ll call him Steponas — who wanted to talk to me. In 1941, as a boy of 17, Steponas had watched as the Jews of Rokiskis were assembled in a field and driven into the forest to be shot. That knowledge had tormented him all his life. Now he wanted to tell what he knew. He wanted to speak to a Jew before he died. Would I be that Jew? I have to say that I was not inclined to feel warmly toward this man — this “bystander.” And if not for what I’d just heard from Uncle Will, I might have turned away. But now the ground had shifted, so I agreed. Yes, I would be that Jew.
nd so I went to Lithuania, the land of my ancestors, a complicated place, where Jews and their culture had once flourished, only to be annihilated on a massive scale. In the mornings at the Yiddish institute, we studied Yiddish language and literature in all its glory, which was a mekhaye, a great pleasure. We began at the beginning, with the alphabet, just like in the old days, when little Jewish boys used to start their lessons at the age of three. On their first day, the letters in their primers would be sprinkled with sugar, to show that learning was sweet.
In the afternoons, the last Yiddish speakers of Vilna, now in their 80s, walked us through the streets of this beautiful city, the former “Jerusalem of the North,” the capital of Yiddishland. They led us through the twisting lanes of the Jewish quarter that once swirled with political and intellectual ferment, synagogues, libraries, newspapers. All that ended with World War II. In 1940, the Red Army marched into Lithuania. One year later, German tanks rolled in. A place where different cultures had coexisted relatively peaceably for generations became a place of horrendous and unprecedented violence. Nor did the end of the war bring peace to Lithuania. As the three Baltic nations were incorporated into the Soviet Union, it was not an easy transition. A bloody resistance struggle went on for seven years. Tens of thousands were arrested and deported to Siberia. Between 1940 and 1952, historians say, as much as one-third of the Lithuanian population was lost to massacre, war casualties, deportations, executions and emigration. And by the time the Soviet Union fell in 1991, and Lithuania became a new independent nation, half a century under two regimes had created a cauldron, boiling and bubbling with competing martyrdoms, hatreds and resentments. Because I’d been shaken by my Uncle Will’s story, and because of the old man waiting to speak to me in
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Rokiskis, I undertook to investigate that cauldron. What I found surprised me. On the one hand, as expected, I found evidence of anti-Semitism. I saw swastikas painted on Jewish gravestones. Recently, in Lithuania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, a call has arisen for greater recognition of Stalin’s crimes — a call that often seems bound up with an attempt to deny, diminish or distort Hitler’s crimes. Yet I also learned that when antiSemitic incidents occur, some in Lithuania, Jews and non-Jews, speak up to condemn them. I met brave souls, Jews and non-Jews, who were striving in an often hostile environment to build a more tolerant future by bringing the Holocaust out into the open. These people educated and inspired me. Perhaps the most remarkable of them was Irena Veisaite. Some 70 years ago, at the age of 15, Irena went into the Kovno ghetto alone, without parents. After more than two years, non-Jewish Lithuanians managed to smuggle her out. She ended up hiding in the home of a woman she came to consider her second mother. This is how she survived. But after the war, this second mother was sent to Siberia by the Soviet regime.
Irena’s whole family was killed by the Nazis, and then her second mother was taken from her. Yet out of this terrible suffering, she emerged as a leader of efforts to pursue mutual understanding. She defines tolerance as “a permissive or liberal attitude toward beliefs or practices different from or conflicting with one’s own.” But she adds another concept to that definition: “the nonacceptance of intolerance.” As I stepped through new doorways in Lithuania, Irena was my guide. I visited an organization called the House of Memory, which helps schoolchildren to talk with their elderly family members about the lost Jewish world. As that world becomes vivid and personal, both generations begin to question and to change. I met with two educators — gentile women — who were employed by the Lithuanian government to design curricula about the Holocaust for Lithuanians of all ages. They believed passionately that if Lithuania was to mature as a nation, Lithuanians needed to ask themselves rigorous moral questions about the Holocaust. Ruta Puisyte, a young gentile woman working at the Jewish museum, showed me the text of the booklet she was
writing. Here are the questions she was posing: What do you think of Albert Einstein’s saying, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”? Have you ever been in a situation where someone needed your help and you didn’t provide it? If so, why did you behave like others, rather than following your conscience? Is there a connection between your answers and the behavior of people during the war? Finally, my guide and I drove to the very northeast corner of Lithuania, to Rokiskis, where my family tree extends back into the mid-1800s. There I breathed in the summer light of the vast Baltic sky. I saw the ochre-colored wooden houses, the marigolds spilling over into the yards, and the road that is still called Synagogue Street, where my great-grandfather used to pore over the Talmud. We pulled up in front of a cottage with a steep tin roof. Steponas, the old man who wanted to speak to a Jew, came out. He was bent and gnarled, his face deeply lined and weathered. He didn’t look at me. He got in Ellen Cassedy
A street in Vilnius, once called “Jerusalem of the North.”
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Inside me was an unexamined antipathy toward the people of Eastern Europe, an us-versus-them, black-and-white construct. front with the driver, his wife in back with my guide and me. He asked the driver to drive slowly through the town. Here, to the right of this flower bed, he said, was the camp. “The Jews were driven here. They were told that if they did not give up their valuables, they would be drowned in the pond. After they gave up their valuables, they were driven over this bridge, into this field. All of these houses and barns were full of Jews. “I drove my wagon loaded with carrots past the camp. I threw carrots over the fence. The guards threatened to kill me.” The Jews were driven down the road, he recalled. “The White Armband police [Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazis] lined both sides of the road. The White Armbands came from the villages and small towns all over this region. You needed a lot of people to guard such a huge crowd of Jews. Thousands of Jews.” Steponas began to weep. They took all the people, marching, he told me. “Even children and old people. It was all on my eyes. I was watching.” We got out of the car. I went into his cottage, saw the wood stove going up to the ceiling and the plaster walls painted bright green. I touched the battered pots, the cucumbers on the table. Finally we did look at each other. He tapped his chest and looked into my eyes. “It was terrible,” he said. And I nodded and shook his hand. I went to Lithuania wanting to learn Yiddish, to imagine myself back into the lives of my forebears, and to make up my mind about my uncle, the Jewish policeman, and Steponas, the bystander. I wanted to judge, once and for all. But my visit to the Old World changed me. When I met Steponas, and other Lithuanians who were engaging with their country’s Jewish past, I lost the urge to sift and to sort, to make neat columns. In listening to this sobbing man who wanted to talk to a Jew not to ask for ab-
solution but simply to be bear witness, I came to appreciate that it can be hard to judge, hard to condemn, especially when we ask ourselves how we might behave under similar conditions of terror. Steponas was not only a bystander. At times, he did more than simply watch. By throwing carrots over the fence into the ghetto, he risked his own safety, his own life. And the experience of watching while others were assembled to be murdered had inflicted a deep wound. Uncle Will, the policeman, was clearly a victim, but also, if not a collaborator, at least a kind of bystander. With his policeman’s armband, he “stood by,” at the ghetto gate, feeling powerless to resist, while children and old people were loaded into trucks and driven away into the unknown. As Primo Levi says of the Jewish prisoners who became part of the death machine at Auschwitz, “I ask that we meditate on [their] story…with pity and rigor, but that judgment of them be suspended.” The guilt, he tells us, lies in the system itself. As for the guilt of such individuals, this “is always difficult to evaluate…. I know of no human tribunal to which one could delegate the judgment.” During the most terrible times in the mid-20th century, solidarity was often difficult if not impossible. And for those people who personally lived through those times, it may be difficult or impossible — or even inappropriate — to move on beyond hatred. But for myself, and for others in the successor generations, I came to see a different role — an opportunity. As I meditated on the stories of the two old men, my Uncle Will and Steponas, I felt myself questioning the blackand-white categories I had grown up with, expanding my sympathies beyond the boundaries I had been taught as a child. In Lithuania, I came to understand that in this moral terrain, the journey itself matters very much. The serious attention we pay: This matters. I will nev-
er stop wondering about Uncle Will’s actions in the ghetto. I will never stop pondering Steponas’s role in the genocide that killed my people. And I will never stop asking of myself and others: Can we honor our heritage and carry forward the memory of the Holocaust without perpetuating the fears and hatreds of the past? What can we do to help create the kind of society where it is easier to stand up than to stand by? To ask, without expecting ever to be done with the asking — that is the work of a lifetime. The attempt we make to listen and to comprehend: This, I came to feel, is where the hope for the future lies, for Lithuania, for Eastern Europe, for other countries struggling to emerge from conflict, for all of us. At the close of the program at the Yiddish institute, two tiny women, former ghetto inmates, led us in singing the Partisan Hymn composed in the Vilna ghetto. The song’s refrain, “mir zaynen do!” (we are here!) always used to strike me as sad, even pathetic. So many of those who had sung that song in the ghetto had died, and so few had survived — “we are not here” would be more accurate. But as I stood up to sing, the song sounded different to me. Because spinning through my head were the faces of people I’d met in Lithuania, brave people, flawed people, Jews and nonJews searching for a way forward out of the past. Now, to me, the song seemed to ask all of us to connect ourselves to one another — and to appeal to one another as fellow beings with the capacity for moral choice. Ellen Cassedy is the author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust (2012),which tells the story of her journey to the land of her Jewish forebears. Cassedy’s articles and English-Yiddish translations have appeared in a number of Jewish publications. She lives in Maryland and can be reached at www.ellencassedy.com.
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An occasional column about Jewish women who make a difference in their communities around the world.
Linda Zisquit The Wise Life of an Israeli-American Poet by Robert Hirschfield
t was apt, I thought, that there were two entrances to Linda Zisquit’s home in Jerusalem. The front entrance on Rehov Hazefira is unshielded from the noise of Emek Refaim, the German Colony’s main artery. The back entrance is off an alleyway that is buffered by a large garden with loquat trees whose fruit is sometimes plundered by wild parrots. The poet’s life as well has had two entrances, America and Israel, Buffalo (New York) and Jerusalem. I’d look forward to my morning walks to her house down from Rehov Disraeli, where I lived. We would sit at the long table in the kitchen overlooking the garden with its shy movements of autumn light. Zisquit has published four books of poetry in her 64 years, translated the poetry of Yona Wallach and Rifka Miriam, founded the Artspace gallery and managed to rear five children. A short, attractive woman, her unflagging energy has a heroic quality, as her eyes have a tendency to look sleep deprived. Shirley Kaufman, the Israeli-American poet who made aliyah before her (Zisquit came with her family to stay in 1973), first told me about her. I started reading Ritual Bath, Zisquit’s first book, published in 1996 with an introduction
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by United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove. Her relationship poems almost rough you up with their distilled pain and clarity, with their precise mappings of a woman’s messy heart. From Daughter of Men: If he does not look at her face she will suffer, and if he dares touch her, she will fly. If he loves her, she will hate his earthly ways. There must be a book she can go to that speaks of these things. Her Jewish-themed and biblical poems, not as well known as they should be in the Jewish literary community, are also strongly female-focused. She spoke one morning, over her muscular black coffee, about her poem “Ritual Bath,” written in homage to Bruria, “who burns in me as she burned in the desert / beloved of two Talmudic men.” “First of all,” she said, “I loved her name, which means ‘clear.’ Bruria was a scholar, and one of the only women mentioned by name in the Talmud. I was drawn to her attractiveness as a woman and to her intellectual prowess. The novel about her, As a Driven Leaf, tells the story of a love triangle: Bruria, her husband Rabbi Meir and
Elisha Ben Abuya, the heretic, who is not mentioned by name in the Talmud. We do not know if Bruria was seduced, but she was attracted, which to me makes her human, and which resonated with my own struggle with desire and the boundaries of home, family and marriage. It made her, whose father belonged to the Sanherin, an outsider. Another attraction.” A secular Jew married to Donald Zisquit, an Orthodox Jewish lawyer, the poet is an engaged outsider to the world of orthodoxy. Every Thursday, she leaves her house to attend the Tenach classes of biblical scholar Aviva Zornberg. “I have gone to her classes for 30 years. I would never miss a class. We study the parsha of the week. Her approach combines the traditional sources — Rashi, Rambam, Ramban, the Midrash, with Wallace Stevens, John Milton, Harold Bloom. No two classes are ever the same.” She wants it understood that she, herself, is not a biblical scholar. She is a poetry scholar who teaches creative writing at Bar Ilan. Her parents, Reform Jews from Buffalo, sent her to Hebrew school, where she was the only girl in her class, where she got the highest grade in her class. Her rabbi had her
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parents ship her off to the Girl Scouts. “The sources speak to me about life, about our lives. The parsha Vayetze, for example, which deals with Yaakov leaving his home, was important in light of the conflict I was having about leaving America for Israel. It brought up questions about the loss of identity, the struggle with my parents’ unhappiness about my going, about leaving Creeley [Robert Creeley, one of America’s seminal avant garde poets who Zisquit first read in the seventh grade], my mentor and friend.” Her biblical poems are scattered widely throughout three of her four books. The Face in the Window (2004), about her troubled relationship with her dying mother, is the only volume in which one doesn’t find a biblical poem. A poet friend once remarked that whenever Zisquit was at a difficult place in a poem, she would resort to a biblical image as a way of holding back, avoiding digging deeper. His comment worked as an inhibiting censor. “I didn’t want to use the Bible as a crutch.” With their terse lines that strip away everything but the bones and light of scriptural unfolding, her biblical poems are among her best. “Posit,” which appeared first in Ritual Bath, and later, in Unopened Letters (1996), opens with these lines: Had Rachel not looked up Jacob would not have seen her. There would have been no water, no winding dream, no tribe or unrelenting portions of sadness “You make simple acts of listening and seeing crucial to the history of the Jewish people,” I said. The poet laughed. A bright girlish laugh. “Well, what do we have besides seeing and listening to connect us to history?” I’d say to her that her wildly successful, if highly unlikely immigration story, should rank her as a poster woman for the Jewish Agency. In life, as in her poetry, Zisquit has a way of getting the most out of her ambivalence. Four of her five children (two boys, three girls) were born in Israel. All five served in the army and call Israel home. Her daughters, together with their hus-
bands, have jointly created nine Israeli children. She enjoys, many years later, recalling: “On the plane over to Israel, I didn’t speak to Donald. I continued not speaking to him when we went to the absorption center. I felt torn down the middle. An uncomfortable state to be in, but the state of something alive.” As if drawn into a literary Israeli fairy tale, Zisquit was invited, when she arrived, to a party honoring the Israeli poet Gabriel Priel. Invited by Shirley Kaufman, who became her good friend, she met Gabriel Levin, another IsraeliAmerican poet, who urged her to take a crack at translating into English a couple of the difficult poems by Israeli avant-gardist Yona Wallach. Barely unpacked, her career as a translator, her life as a new immigrant with new friends, began. In 1994, she gave birth, again unintentionally, to yet another career. Her talented artist friend, Pam Levy, from Tel Aviv arrived at their door one day deeply depressed. A new space had opened up in their house as a result of a wall being torn down, so Zisquit offered that space for her to have a show in Jerusalem. “I invited about 200 people. I had to hang the show myself because Pam was drunk and never showed up. The show got a lot of attention and was a big success. That particular show was filled with nudes, and Daria, my oldest daughter, who was quite conservative, turned the paintings around when she came home from school. Donald, who had many Orthodox clients, also had to turn the paintings around when those clients came to see him. That’s how Artspace began, as a gesture to a friend.” She’s had around 100 shows since then. Her home has been reinvented as one of Jerusalem’s most important cultural institutions. When I first read her poetry, I tried to find in it lines relating to the conflict, her perceptions of it (she and her husband are both peace camp Zionists), her narratives about it. I found almost nothing. I’d ask her about that, and she’d smile wanly, turn silent for longer than was characteristic for her. It was a subject we tended to return to, usually in the company of the green-smelling air
from her garden. Sometimes, she began by saying, “I am not a political writer.” Or, with a laugh, “Maybe I am in denial.” She tried to draw a distinction between being deeply involved in the conflict and writing poems about it. “There was a bus bombing that happened right before Daria’s wedding in 1995. The daughter of two friends of ours was blown up riding the number 19 bus. On our way to the wedding, we stopped in front of their house, where they were sitting shiva, so they could at least give Daria a kiss.” Her younger sister, Yael, was affected even more personally. “Once, when a friend of hers was killed in a suicide bombing, Yael said to me, ‘Why did you do this to us? Why did you come here?’ Then, just seconds later, she said, ‘Don’t even answer. I am glad you did.’ I had never been to a funeral until after my kids had been to many.” She’d be sitting around the Sabbath table, when her children were young, able to empathize with her leftwing guests from abroad, and also with her children, who hated the Palestinians because they were afraid of them. It was a long time before she convincingly explained to me why the conflict was absent from her poetry: “My interest in poetry is to unravel enigmas. I am interested in the hidden, in masks. I am conscious of my avoidance. I would like someday to write poems of witness, but for now I am writing other poems.” “Line of Defense,” perhaps her only poem written in response to terrorism (in this case, the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada), deals, fittingly, with maternal anxiety: It’s mad here, to maneuver a day around explosions, or to hold my pen as if words could keep danger at bay, my son’s safety locked in this little plan. Robert Hirschfield is a New York-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Forward, The Canadian Jewish News and B’nai B’rith Magazine, and he reviews books of poetry for The Jerusalem Report. Hirschfield wrote “Alina Cohen” in our spring 2011 issue.
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Reaching Out to Young Women
nitiated about two years ago, Na’amat Israel’s Young Na’amat program reaches
out to the dor hemshech (successor generation). The organization has formed groups of young women, mostly students at
universities, who have become involved in different areas of Na’amat that have relevance to their lives. Some activities are geared to the challenges and difficulties facing young mothers who have to juggle family and work responsibilities; others involve empowerment workshops; dealing with issues of coexistence in Israeli society is another area. In October, approximately 150 enthusiastic women from Young Na’amat gathered in Tel Aviv for a conference on topics related to employment, welfare and government policy concerning the advancement of women. Experts from the private sector, government and Histadrut industries led the discussions. An important survey about working women was released at the conference (see Na’amat Surveys Working Women). “We believe that it is of utmost importance to encourage the future generations to become active and involved in Na’amat,” commented Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat International Department.
Photos show sessions from the conference. Below, from left: M.K. Yitzhak Herzog, former Minister of Welfare; Vered Sweid, head of the Authority for Advancement Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office; M.K. Orit Zuaretz, chair of lobby for parents’ rights in the workforce; Dafna Hecker, lecturer on law at Tel Aviv University.
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Na’amat Surveys Working Women
poll of working women shows that 54 percent of them changed their employment habits once they had children, compared to just 12 percent of men. The survey, commissioned by the young women’s group of Na’amat Israel, was released the week of October 22 and publicized in an article by Hila Weissberg in Ha’aretz. The study further revealed that those who adjusted their work schedule due to their children, 18 percent cut back prior to giving birth, 11 percent temporarily stopped working and 7 percent stopped working altogether. According to Orly Bitty, who founded the leadership development program of Na’amat’s young women’s group, the survey found that “sexual equality in parenthood is the most difficult to achieve.” Although many women have gone to work outside the home, “in practice we are far from equality,” Bitty said in the Ha’aretz article. “Women are still the primary caregivers, both with respect to the home and the children, and they feel compelled to make compromises both in how they deal with the family and in their professional aspirations.” Examining the division of responsibility between parents when it comes to housework, the survey found that 52 percent of women said they did most of the housework. Another 44 percent said household chores were
equally divided with their husband. The most important factor predicting how household tasks were divided was the woman’s level of education, with college-educated women more likely to have a husband who assumed equal responsibility. When it comes to child care, 54 percent of women said they were the primary caregiver in their household, and 41 percent said the duties were equally shared with their spouse. Only 2 percent reported that their husbands had primary responsibility for child care. More than half the women — 56 percent — acknowledged feeling they were not successfully juggling the competing demands of home and workplace, and 23 percent said they had sacrificed their careers for the good of their families. Another 12 percent felt they had sacrificed their families’ needs for their jobs. Some 21 percent of the women said married life did not fully meet their expectations but that they did not find professional fulfillment either. “Parents who can allow themselves to be freed from other tasks by paying for them split parental duties more equally,” noted Bitty. “But among other segments of the population, when it comes to both society’s structuring of traditional gender roles and a public policy that encourages women to be active as parents and men to be the primary breadwinners, everyone loses. Women don’t manage to achieve equality in employment while men cannot be active parents.” Na’amat is demanding a change in public policy to break this pattern.
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Talking With Galia Wolloch
alia Wolloch, the new president of Na’amat Israel, is brimming with ideas and plans for Na’amat. Actually, she seems to have plans for all the women of Israel. A dreamer and an activist, she envisions an Israeli society where women can fully discover their hidden strengths and capacities and realize their potential. I had the pleasure of talking to this warm, down-to-earth woman during her October visit to New Jersey for the Na’amat USA national board meeting and to New York City and Long Island for gatherings with members. Participants at Na’amat USA’s national convention in July 2013 will also enjoy meeting Galia. Plans for Na’amat Israel will be formalized at the organization’s ideological conference in early January, when 901 Na’amat members will gather to discuss an agenda for the next five years, but Galia is already “opening doors,” she likes to say, and “setting up flags” to mark her priorities. One of Galia’s “flags” is to promote gender studies in high schools. “It’s the 16- to 18-yearold boys and girls that we can motivate,” she said. “Teenagers are beginning to become human beings, and we are in a position to make real to them the ideas about equality between men and women, about the need to eliminate discrimination.” Na’amat is already working with the Ministry of Education on writing a curriculum and talking to mayors of cities about the project. Another goal is to get more women to run for political office. “Twenty-three women in the 120-member Knesset are not enough,” Galia said. “And we have to work on the municipal elections.” Women, she believes, will have a strong influence on improving social issues. “We won’t have demonstrations like we had last summer if more women are in charge.” Getting men to join women in the struggle for equality is also a priority. “All our women’s organizations are always talking to women,” she told me. “We need to talk to men more. Together we can make a real change.” When women ad-
vance, she added, the whole family benefits. A keen listener, with a constant open ear, Galia spends two days a week traveling around Israel talking to women — Na’amat members and others. She has already unlocked many doors with her refrain: “What would you like Na’amat to do for you?” She always gets answers. During a recent visit to a gathering of women in a Druze village, Galia was delighted to hear that the women are intent on “taking care of themselves.” They want change, she pointed out. “They are saying, this is the time for us.” In an Arab town, women told her they wanted to study English. Why English? she asked. So they could travel abroad without their husbands, they told her. What else does she hear? “All over, everyday, women are telling me that they are rearing their daughters differently than their mothers did with them — to stand up for themselves and be independent.” Galia related another Na’amat story. A glass factory employing 400 people was about to close. Some of the women workers (there are 40) contacted Galia. One was a blind woman who knew she wouldn’t be able to get a new job due to her disability and her advanced age — and she didn’t want to be dependent on government aid. Na’amat helped publicize the workers’ plight and advocated for them. Now the owner and the government are managing to keep the factory open, and the women keep telling Na’amat how grateful they are. Yet another door Galia has opened is in the film industry. Women filmmakers contacted her, upset because the government body that allocates funds for filmmakers consists of three men. They’d like to see women involved. Galia has contacted Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport, about the issue, and also about the sexual harassment and abuse that women experience in the film industry. In addition, Na’amat will fund one of the prizes at this year’s
International Women’s Film Festival in Rehovot. Teenage workers in Netivot are also benefiting from Na’amat ’s advocacy. Three girls working in a catering Galia Wolloch establishment were organizing workers to fight unfair wage practices. Na’amat gave them a hand in getting advice from the union, and with the support of Na’amat, they have sued the employer who was taking advantage of the teenagers. What’s important, emphasizes Galia, is that women are able to have choices — whether they want to be employed or stay home with their children. “Our day care centers are not only good for the kids, but they are important for women.” She points out that Na’amat subsidizes the last hour of day care, so parents can pick their children up at 5 — not at the previous 4 o’clock deadline — allowing women to work full time. (Multipurpose centers are open until 7.) And what about Galia herself? An activist for many years, she was head of the youth movement of the Labor Party and became more politically involved in her late 20s. At age 35, 10 years ago, she was elected chairperson of Na’amat ’s Tel Aviv region. She is a fifth-generation Israeli on her father’s side; her mother’s family came from Salonika, Greece. Galia and her husband, Ido Wolloch, a businessman, have been together since they were 16. He accompanied her on this trip, taking photos of the Na’amat events for her Facebook page. Ido said he is proud of his wife and is obviously very supportive of her new position. Their son, in his early 20s, is a computer specialist in the army. Na’amat USA members are excited about working with Galia as the movement continues to be, as we say, “a voice for women and children.” She will certainly add strength to that voice. — Judith A. Sokoloff
New School for Arab Girls Dear Haverot, am very happy to inform you that at the beginning of this school
year we opened our leading school in the Arab sector — the Na’amat Technological High School for Arab Girls in Nazareth. The facility also includes a Professional Training Center for women from the area. For many years, our students had studied in old buildings separated from one another, which made it difficult to manage. The architecturally impressive new building was made possible thanks to a joint project
utilizing $1 million from each of the following: Na’amat USA; Irving Green, a donor from the United States; and the Israel Ministry of Education. You can be very proud of this achievement! There are 330 students learning in 4 different educational trends: graphic design, product design, early childhood education and hair design, which will help the girls get jobs after graduation. On the first floor of the school, we opened the Na’amat Professional
Training Center for women over 18. Here, even before the school formally opened in the summer, some 80 Arab women took courses in subjects such as dental assistance, cosmetology, early childhood caregiving and the use of computers. We are also planning to have empowerment workshops and lectures for women to encourage them to integrate into the labor market. — Shirli Shavit Director Na’amat International Department
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Book The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World By Elana Maryles Sztokman
Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press 269 pages; hardcover $85, paperback $29.95, ebook $27.99
n 1996, shortly after my mother died, I searched for a local minyan where I could say kaddish. At the time, the only afternoon minyan I could find was in an Orthodox shul. The men there were so jarred by my presence, they brought in movable partitions to surround me and after they had penned me off, one said: “Make sure we can’t hear you.” I left before the davening began. That was the last time I went to an Orthodox shul until 2004, when I attended an erev Shabbat service at Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem, one of the first “Ortho-egalitarian” or “partnership minyanim” (a term coined by JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance). Here, I was told, women could lead the congregation in prayers (the ones that don’t require a quorum) and layn (chant Torah) in front of men. The goal was to include women in ritual leadership roles to the greatest extent possible within the bounds of halacha (Jewish law). I was impressed by the hundreds of people who came to this service and by their youth and enthusiasm. But at the same time, it felt old to me, perhaps because I remembered the beginnings of Jewish feminism in the 1970s and ’80s in America and its struggle for acknowledgment in the Reform and Conservative movements. As I watched this Orthodox congregation endeavoring to make room for women, my only question was: Why did it take so long? I found part of the answer in Elana Sztokman’s fascinating study of Orthodox men and feminism in partnership congregations. If partnership minyanim represent a new frontier for modern Orthodoxy (there are 22 partnership congrega22
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tions now in Israel, North America and Australia), then perhaps the men who joined them could tell us something about how the feminist challenge has affected them as religious Jewish men. With that assumption, Elana Sztokman, a Hebrew University-trained sociologist and a founding member of a partnership synagogue in Modi’in, Israel, interviewed 54 men about their reasons for joining partnership congregations, their backgrounds and experiences, and what it is like for them to share formerly gender-specific roles in the service. Their responses take us inside the world of Orthodox Jewish manhood, its ideal types and the nonconformists who are resisting its stereotypes. Some men gave answers she anticipated: One respondent said he joined his shul because “living in a world that does not take into account feminist insights is a moral injustice and a halachic injustice.” A father talked about his pride at how beautifully his daughter layns. But most men did not cite the participation of women as the reason for their choice. One mentioned a desire for greater halachic flexibility in general: “I can’t bear sitting in shul with loads of Pope Piuses running around, getting worried about whether you opened the ark with your left hand or your right.” Others simply said they liked the atmosphere, the communal singing, the more spiritual experience of davening, or the welcoming community they found for their families there. “When I embarked on this research project, I assumed the partnership synagogue to be the most feminist place in which Orthodox Jewish men could belong,” Sztokman writes. “It was not very long after I began that I realized this population of men is hardly what one could call a predominantly feminist or even profeminist group.… Men come to the partnership synagogue for a whole
host of reasons, the overwhelming majority of which have nothing to do with feminism.” Sztokman hits on an important truth, however, when she discusses the powerful connection between the synagogue and masculine gender identity for Orthodox men. Synagogue rituals, in fact, define masculinity in the minds of many Orthodox men — and sharing them in this shared space is a powerful challenge to their sense of self. “Overall, layning and hazzanut are central components of Orthodox masculinity that include an entire array of expected behaviors, such as meticulous performance, perfectionism, emotionlessness, and verbal-cerebral spirituality,” she writes, referring to the cultural baggage men bring apart from halacha. As a participant in her congregation as well as an observer, Sztokman reacts to attempts by some men to control the service and their tendency to criticize women by the standards in which they were raised. “Although women are allowed to lead certain parts of the service, many men still assume that women are less capable,” she writes. One respondent told her that certain men “roll their eyes when women get up to read, or take out a book to read until a man steps up.” Other men complain that women aren’t serious enough about the obligations they take on; they are not punctual, they are not perfectionists, they are not committed, they are hafifniks (slackers). Most of all, the men seem to fear being judged “not Orthodox” by other congregations, or even worse, “Reform,” which they see as an American import and associate with wimpy men who have given in on all gender issues. Sztokman is shocked when one member asks the women not to participate in the service on the weekend of his son’s bar mitzvah so that
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his ultra-Orthodox uncle could attend without being offended. There is a strange disconnect in this book between the research goals and the author’s findings: Sztokman starts out hoping to learn how men in partnership synagogues “do Jewish masculinity differently.” Instead she finds a retrenchment of male power — which she calls a “new patriarchy” — in her own shul. “The Orthodox synagogue, even when women are involved, remains a men’s space based on the way men are socialized,” she concludes. “Men are content to bend halachic rules for a whole host of reasons, but to bend gender norms is unacceptable. So while Orthodox masculinity may be in transition, especially in partnership settings, the forces resisting that change are formidable indeed.” One wonders where that leaves Sztokman, now executive director of JOFA. An active blogger (www.jewfem .com), she says she hopes her book will stimulate a conversation — in the men’s section — on what it means to be an Orthodox Jewish man in congregations where women are sharing the public space. The experiment of partnership minyanim is still very young. In the meantime, this groundbreaking sociological study sheds light on how Orthodox men are dealing with the challenge of feminism in an environment where choice is possible. —Bonny V. Fetterman
I’m Your Man: The Life 0f Leonard Cohen By Sylvie Simmons New York: Ecco/HarperCollins 576 pages, $27.99
eading Sylvie Simmons’s 500page biography of Leonard Cohen, I was increasingly impressed by her ability first to listen and then to note and assemble the myriad details, remembrances and intimate personal confidences that bring to life for us
the heroic romance of Cohen’s worldwide searching for identity within the long tradition of Jewish bardic voices that he has brought into our contemporary landscape. The New York Times and many other publications have given I’m Your Man glowing reviews, mostly concentrated on Cohen’s professional career as a much recorded and acclaimed concertizing poet, composer and singer. This writing will focus on Cohen’s relationship to Judaism, since we Jewish people are usually quite interested in the Jewishness of our famous brethren — and one who was ordained as a Buddhist monk holds a particular fascination. So, to start, the author makes it clear that Cohen’s immersion in Buddhism has not lessened his Jewish faith; in fact, it deepened his learning of Torah. Cohen told Rabbi Mordecai Finley of Ohr HaTorah congregation in Los Angeles that Buddhism was nontheistic, and according to Finley, Cohen is using Kabbalah not so much as a theology but as spiritual psychology and a way to mythically represent the Divine. Cohen was born between Hanukkah and Christmas in 1934 to a prosperous family of Montreal clothiers. His paternal grandfather, Lazarus, had arrived in Canada in 1860 and soon became president of the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue. Cohen’s mother’s father, Lithuanian Rabbi Solomon KlonizkiKline, author of several religious interpretations, was known as “Sar HaDikdook,” the Prince of Grammarians. Cohen was given the Hebrew name Ezekiel, “God is Help.” He grew up well aware that he was a Kohan, one of the priestly class. That Hebrew name resonated for him in a poem titled “Not a Jew”: “Anyone who says / I’m not Jew / Is not a Jew / I’m very sorry / but this is final / So says: / Eliezar, / son of Nissan, / priest of Israel; / a.k.a. / Nightingale of the Sinai / Yom Kippur 1973….” And in
his fifth album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony,” Yom Kippur’s Book of Life prayer “who is to die and by what means” is the direct inspiration for the song, “Who by Fire.” About 1960, Cohen, who had been living in London, took his first flight to Jerusalem, staying with Israeli poet Natan Zach, seeing the biblical sites and sitting in Cafe Kasit with “everyone that thought they were a writer.” In 1973, Cohen planned to enlist in the Israeli Army, saying: “I’ve never disguised the fact that I’m Jewish and in any crisis in Israel I would be there. I am committed to the survival of the Jewish people.” Instead, he was persuaded to join performers entertaining the troops by Israeli singer Oshik Levi who reported to the newspaper Maariv, “Every unit we came to, he would ask what is the position of this or that soldier, and each and every time he wanted to join the forces and be one of them.” He sang a song to the soldiers beginning with these lines: “May the spirit of this song / May it rise up pure and free / May it be shield for you / A shield against the enemy.” On his next tour, after concerts in Dublin, Berlin and Frankfurt, Cohen and his band were in Paris where he lunched with Brigitte Bardot before flying the next day to Israel where they performed that same night at the Yad Eliyahu Arena. The next day they bussed to play at Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’uma, where Cohen explained to the audience: “Some nights one is raised off the ground and some nights you just can’t get off the ground. It says in the Kabbalah that if you can’t get off the ground you should stay on the ground.” The crowd responded by singing, “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem” and the show went on. Cohen’s 1980 tour ended with two dates in Tel Aviv after which he took his band to visit a kibbutz and the Dead Sea. He returned to New York to celWINTER 2012/2013
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BOOK REVIEWS ebrate Hanukkah with his son and daughter Adam and Lorca. The holiday over, he wrote, “If It Be Your Will,” a hymn of surrender with overtones of liturgy. Let your mercy spill / On all these burning hearts in hell / If it be your will / to make us well.” In Israel, three days after his 75th birthday in 2009, Cohen dedicated the almost two million dollars of proceeds of a sold out Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace at Ramat Gan Stadium to Israeli and Palestinian organizations and charities promoting peace. In 1984, Cohen’s tenth volume of poetry Book of Mercy was published. He drew a hexagram of the Star of David made up of two interlinked hearts for the cover. Simmons quotes him: “I had decided to observe the [Jewish] calendar in a very diligent way, to lay tefillin every day and to study the Talmud. I always feel that the world was created through words, through speech in our tradition, and I’ve always seen the enormous light in charged speech and that’s what I’ve tried to get to.” “Various Positions” was his seventh album, released in 1984. His aim was to explore “how things really operate, the mechanics of feeling, how the heart manifests itself.… Love is there to help your loneliness, prayer is to end your sense of separation with the source of things.” The famous “Hallelujah,” his most well-known song, took Cohen five years to write. “Regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms...and you just say, “Hallelujah! Blessed is the Name.” Even though it all went wrong / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song /With nothing on my tongue but / Hallelujah.” Covered in more than 300 versions by Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, Bono, Rufus Wainwright and Justin Timberlake, among many others, and sung in the finale of American Idol when Simon Cowell declared it one of his favorite songs of all time, the success of “Hallelujah,” which his U.S. record label had originally refused to release, caused Cohen “a mild sense of revenge that arose in [his] heart.” 24
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Without having mentioned Cohen’s many love relationships with a variety of female companions, many of them celebrities in their own rights; his many years of meditation and practice at the Southern California Zen Center devoted to Rinzai Buddhist Roshi Joshu Sasaki or his visits to India to attend satsang learning sessions with Ramesh S. Balsekar in Mumbai; nor his poet friends and adventures, up and down, in the music industry, with producers, arrangers, musicians and promoters; returns to Montreal; ties at New York’s Chelsea Hotel; years on the Greek island of Hydra and much more, you will find all such splendidly and exhaustedly presented by Simmons, who has dedicated years to find an incredible list of interviewees, sources — and to spend hours, days, years speaking with Leonard Cohen, himself, who confided with confidence to a writer with great professional discretion and competence. — Gerd Stern
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits New York: Hogarth Press 320 pages, $25
ost writers prefer to stick to one language, but not Anouk Markovits, whose debut novel was written in French. She has now authored an ambitious book in English. Her second novel, I Am Forbidden, spans four generations and two continents, Europe and America. Like Tatiana de Rosnay, the author of the achingly heartbreaking Sarah’s Key, who also successfully transitioned into English, Markovits’s novel features characters whose lives are changed by the Holocaust. Her focus is on a family that belongs to the Satmar community of Hasidic Jews. She makes us think that wherever there is extremism, and whenever women are inhibited, a tragic outcome may be inevitable. I Am Forbidden begins just before the Second World War in Transylvania. Zalman Stern is a rabbi and an expert on Talmudic law. In the opening scene, we
are plunged into his nightmare as witnesses to his subconscious sexual longing, then dragged further into other disjointed nightmares. The ramblings of the rabbi’s mind convey the comic and tortured thoughts of a person who is extreme in his views, but they also make for a confusing start to the novel. Fortunately, Markovits soon turns her attention to the soon-to-be orphans Josef and Mila. “…Josef Lichtenstein sat on the kitchen stool and watched his mother tie a ribbon in his little sister’s hair. He tried to follow Mama’s fingers as they folded the ribbon under, over, as they pinched a curl, but he could not puzzle out how the strip of fabric bloomed into a four-loop bow atop Pearela’s head.” The mundane details of ordinary life — which will soon be over for Josef ’s mother and sister — are riveting. A little later in the same chapter, we are horrified by the graphic description of their deaths. Josef, who is hiding under a table at the time of the killings, survives the brutality of Romania’s Iron Guard legionnaire. The family’s maid renames Josef as Anghel, brings him up as her own son and gives him a Christian upbringing. Josef saves a little girl, Mila, who, like him, was the only one in her family to survive persecution by the Iron Guards. Her mother was shot right after calling out to their fleeing rebbe, and her father was hanged in a market square. Josef takes her to Zalman Stern’s house in acquiescence with the dying man’s wish. The rabbi and his wife raise the girl with their growing brood. Atara, his daughter, and Mila form a bond as close as blood sisters. The Satmar Rebbe is mentioned again and again in the novel, and slowly it becomes clear that he had let himself be saved while his community suffered. The incident of the Rebbe escaping by train is historically accurate. He was accused of collaborating with the Nazis, saving his life and the lives of a few continued on page 28
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Beautiful Books Here’s a variety of handsome, engaging volumes of Judaica. They make great gifts for friends and family — or yourself. by JUDITH A. SOKOLOFF
In Her Voice: An Illuminated Book of Prayers for Jewish Women (Maggid Books/Koren Publishers). Working in paper cutting, calligraphy and color illumination enhanced by gold leaf, Israeli artist Enya Tamar Keshet illustrated 28 Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino prayers and tehinas exclusively recited by Jewish women (English translations included). Her selections relate to the female life cycle, among them the prayers for finding a match, for pregnancy and for celebrating a newborn daughter. On the cover of Na’amat Woman you can see her illustration “All the Women of the Bible, which lists the 115 women named in the Bible in the order in which they appear. Keshet chose to work in the style of the Lisbon Judaica manuscript workshop of the 15th century, continuing a tradition that ended abruptly with the Inquisition. The style involves richly embellished frames and motifs that vary in color and design. With her emotional sensitivity, artistic talent, and way of connecting Jewish women with their history, Keshet has created a truly beautiful book. Art Home Lands (Pomegranate Gallery Press). Oded Halahmy’s heart exists in three homelands: Iraq, Israel and the United States. His magnificent art and sensuous poems are also suffused with these places. The renowned sculptor has created a book containing over 50 years of his artwork accompanied by poetry (mostly his own) in English, Arabic and Hebrew, as well as the story of his journey from Baghdad to Jerusalem to New York. Food plays a large part in his life and work, as does the yearning for harmony and peace. Jerusalem: The Illustrated History of the Holy City (Andre Deutsch/Carlton Publishing Group). Joseph Mill, former foreign editor and Israel correspondent for London’s Jewish Chronicle brings Jerusalem alive in this lavishy illustrated, boxed history. Along with many photographs and painting reproductions (the text is fairly brief), there are 15 removable facsimile documents such as the map of the UN Partition Plan, a piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a map of the city from 1572. The Illuminated Kaddish: Interpretations of the Mourner’s Prayer (Ktav). Hyla Shifra Bolsta adds a new and beautiful dimension to the Kaddish with her paintings, calligraphy and interpretations. Quotes from rabbis, scholars and Torah also provide inspiration and comfort. Mourners, the spiritually inclined and those who just enjoy viewing
entrancing art will find the book meaningful. Lloyd Wolf’s stunning photography and Sherri Wass Shunfenthal’s prayerful poems fill Circles Within Circles: Jewish Time Frames. This innovative work explores Jewish conceptions and celebrations of time as we move through the circles of holidays and life-cycle events. (Go to http://tinyurl.com/ circlesbook.) The Koren Ethiopian Haggada: Journey to Freedom (Koren Publishers) by Rabbi Menachem Waldman, editor, and Binyamin Shalom, translator. I’m happy to add this to my collection of lovely and unusual Haggadot. Along with the traditional Passover text, Waldman presents written documents, photographs and artwork reflecting the history and life of Ethiopian Jewry. Ethiopian prayers and commentaries are translated from Amharic to English and Hebrew. A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry, 1860-1960 (Texas Tech University Press). Edited by curators Gabriel M. Goldstein and Elizabeth E. Greenberg, this fascinating book is a companion to the Yeshiva University Museum exhibition of the same title. The Jewish role in creating and developing the American garment industry begins with the 19th-century immigrants who worked as tailors, pressers, cutters and peddlers in the schmatte trade. The business literally went from rags to riches. Essays written by a diverse group of scholars delve into a variety of subjects such as the social struggles in the garment industry, the evolution of marketing techniques, the development of American style, and the early film industry and its relationship to American fashion. An array of wonderful illustrations fill the volume: a photo of designer Nettie Rosensteins’s little black cocktail dress (1949); clothing ads; photos of garment workers, fashion sketches. Who knew that Brooks Brothers was started (in 1818) by Jewish Henry Brooks! The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other (Jewish Lights) by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg. The combination of a terrific storyteller and a talented artist makes for a vibrant book based on the 12thcentury rabbinic debate over how one should position a mezuzah. This is a book for young children — but I learned something as well.
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continued from page 13 turned to New York six years later after some academic disputes. Only one of the eight children reared by the doctor and wife Rachel Seixas — Benjamin Franklin Peixotto — returned to Cleveland, where he helped found the first Cleveland Lodge of B’nai B’rith. He, too, eventually returned to New York and was later appointed consul to Romania and then France. But the first large group of Jews to permanently immigrate to Cleveland was a band of 19 Jews from the small Bavarian town of Unsleben. They came to Cleveland in 1839 at the urging of Simpson (Simson) Thorman, a fur trapper and businessman who had arrived in the United States a decade earlier, passing through Cleveland en route to Missouri. He eventually made his way back to Cleveland in 1837 and set up a hide and fur business in the Flats near the Cuyahoga — and sent word back to his hometown that the place was good, with plenty of opportunity. Two years later, a group joined Thorman, establishing Cleveland’s first permanent Jewish community during a time when Cleveland’s population hovered at 6,000. Led by 34-year-old Moses Alsbacher, they arrived in a place that was little more than a rural outpost. With them they brought a letter from their village teacher, urging them to remain faithful to their faith:
I further wish and hope that the Almighty who reigns over the ocean as well as dry land, to whom thunder and storms must pay heed, will give you good angels as travel companions so that you, my dear friends, may arrive undisturbed and healthy in body and soul at the place of your destiny in the land of freedom. But I must also, as a friend, ask a favor of you. Friends you are traveling to a land of freedom where the opportunity will be presented to live without compulsory religious education. Resist and withstand this tempting freedom and do not turn away from the religion of our fathers. Do not throw away your holy religion for quickly lost earthly pleasures, because your religion brings you consolation and quiet in this life and it will bring you happiness for certain in the other life. Your friend, Lazarus Kohn, Teacher The document was preserved by members of the Alsbacher family and rediscovered in the attic of one the Alsbacher’s great-great grandchildren in the 1950s. The original is now housed in the Jewish Archives of Western Reserve Historical Society, while a facsimile resides in the Maltz Museum. The Unsleben Jews heeded their teacher’s behest and soon after arriving, in the 1840s, they established Anshe Chesed (first called the Eagle Street Synagogue), Cleveland’s first Jewish congregation. It later became known as Anshe
A Brief History of Cleveland Na’amat USA In 1925, the year that Pioneer Women (now Na’amat USA) was founded in New York, a representative was sent to Cleveland to help organize another group. The Cleveland Council was established the following year by 12 women. As the organization grew, it was divided into numbered chapters, which indicated whether the group’s business was conducted in Yiddish or English. The English-speaking chapter was eventually divided into clubs named for their Cleveland neighborhoods. When Pioneer Women was at its membership peak, there were 14 chapters, named after Israeli towns where Pioneer Women child care centers were located. Cleveland Council raised funds to help these projects and sponsored educational programs that informed the Cleveland community of social service and educational needs in Israel. Two children’s centers built with Cleveland donations were the Cleveland Children’s Home in Kiryat Avoda and a community center in Lod. Cleveland members of Na’amat USA continue to be an active force in the organization. Azour, the largest of its four clubs, has 262 members.
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Chesed-Fairmount Temple, today located in the eastern suburb of Beachwood. Although a place of worship was of importance for the nascent community, the untimely death of a traveling Jewish peddler required that they first purchase a place for his burial. The land is located on Willet Street on the west side of Cleveland near Lorain and Fulton Avenues, says Arnold. Though no longer in use, the old cemetery is still well maintained; he begins his tours there. The original German Jews were soon joined in the 1850s by Jews from Hungary and later other Eastern European countries as the Cleveland Jewish population grew from 3,500 in 1880 to a high of 85,000 in 1925. Partially as an attempt to assist the newcomers, and partially as way to “Americanize” them, the veteran Jewish residents established various welfare institutions, which developed into a social welfare network of services that still serves the Jewish community. Following an internal dispute, the emerging Jewish community established a second congregation in 1924, Tifereth Israel, in a stately building on University Circle. Replete with a distinctive golden dome and stained glass windows, it quickly became a Cleveland landmark. Benjamin Franklin Peixotto was a member, serving as its treasurer and trustee, and establishing and superintending its Sunday school in 1858. In 1974, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Recently, the synagogue today known as Tifereth-The Temple sold the building to nearby Case Western Reserve University, but they retain use of the main sanctuary for weddings and the High Holidays. Now the congregation is also located in Beachwood. “They came in search of a better life, a life of freedom, for themselves and their children.” notes Bender. “The tension between holding on to cultural/ ethnic/religious tradition while assimilating into American life, in 1839 or 2013, is the story of all those who make up the American story.” Jerusalem journalist Judith Sudilovsky is a frequent contributor to Na’amat Woman. She wrote “Greening Jerusalem” in our fall 2012 issue.
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by MARCIA J. WEISS
he phrase “War on Women” was coined initially to describe Republican initiatives in state and federal legislatures that restrict women’s rights, especially reproductive rights. The phrase became a catchphrase describing any restrictions on women’s health care that erode protections for women and families. Actions such as personhood laws, fetal pain laws, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, state-mandated but medically unnecessary ultrasounds, abortion taxes, abortion waiting periods, forcing women to inform employers about their reasons for seeking birth control, and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in policies are many of the restrictions placed on reproductive rights across the nation. The phrase was expanded to refer to the way in which violence against women is prosecuted, how rape is defined for purposes of public funding for victims, debates over workplace discrimination and unequal pay for women, and mandatory employer coverage for contraception and sterilization. Additionally, the term was used numerous times in 2011 following the midterm elections. Although the parties disagree as to whether a war against women actually exists, measures that threaten women’s equality and well-being continue to be enacted both on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. There has been an unprecedented rise in the passage of provisions related to women’s health and reproductive rights in 2011 and 2012. According to the Guttmacher Institute, created to advance resources on reproductive health and rights through interrelated programs of research, policy analysis and public education: In 2011 alone, state legislatures introduced 1,174 pieces of legislation affecting abortion and health policy rights (up from 950 in 2010), and legislators sought to eliminate totally the Title X family planning program (aimed at low-income and uninsured families not eligible for Medicaid and who would otherwise have no health care). In the first quarter of 2012, 944 additional pieces of legislation were introduced in state legislatures, half of which would restrict access to abortion. While a movement in early 2012 to end funding to Planned Parenthood was defeated in Congress, many state legislatures voted to cut or eliminate state funding to Planned Parenthood. Even nonpartisan Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure announced that it would end its partnership with Planned Parenthood, a move that it rescinded shortly thereafter due to public pressure and outcry. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that upholds a woman’s right to privacy guaranteed by the liberty right in the Constitution,
extends to terminating her pregnancy. That right, however, must be balanced against the state’s interest in protecting prenatal life and protecting the health of the mother. As the pregnancy advances, that measure becomes stronger. The Court balanced the opposing rights through use of the viability test: the time at which the fetus can live outside the womb. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus is not viable and the decision to abort rests with the woman and her doctor; at 28 weeks or approximately seven months (later advanced to 24 weeks) the fetus becomes viable and the government has a compelling interest in preserving the health of the unborn fetus and the mother. The Roe standard has been challenged indirectly through measures enacted in state legislatures. Such measures include Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s signing a law banning abortions two weeks before viability. Other states have enacted similar laws containing criminal penalties, fines and reporting requirements designed to intimidate doctors from performing abortions. Twenty-one states require women to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before undergoing abortion, and most offer the woman an opportunity to view the images before abortion. Nebraska introduced a ban on abortions last year solely based on the premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Lawmakers in Kansas and Colorado are currently wrestling with abortion, while Montana, Florida, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas have introduced “personhood” bills, defining “person” as beginning from the time of conception. Legislators and hopefuls have gone to extremes in opposing abortion. When he recently served as Missouri Representative, Todd Akin stated that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely experience pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try and shut the whole thing down.” The implication is that victims of rape might be lying about their claims. The comment was characterized as “misogynistic” and based on no scientific evidence. Akin later said that he “misspoke.” Tea Party-backed Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed in a debate that he was against abortion even in the event of rape because he came to realize that life is a gift from God, even if life begins through rape. (Like Akin, he lost the election.) A Republican plank at the national convention called for a “human life amendment” to the Constitution, banning abortion under any circumstance without exception for rape or incest. Similar planks were also introduced at the 2004 and 2008 Republican conventions. Earlier this year, Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and
War on Women, Part I:
Government Reform Committee on the administration’s rules on conscience clause exceptions to health care that apply to church organizations but not to hospitals and religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company. Fluke offered reasons why her university’s student health plans should offer contraceptives without co-pay, despite the fact that the Catholic university was opposed to artificial birth control. Stating that 40 percent of the law school student body was female, lack of contraceptive coverage would induce many low-income students to go without coverage. In response, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” In May 2012, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that only one-third of women believed that there was a farreaching effort to limit reproductive health. This was viewed as a disbelief in the War on Women. Forty-two percent report having taken action in the past six months in reaction to something they saw or heard about reproductive actions or choices. These actions ranged from influencing a friend or family member’s opinion, donating money to a non-profit working on reproductive health issues, or contacting an elected official. Men have also engaged in such activities. Na’amat USA strongly opposes government denial or abridgement of women’s rights and attempts by lawmakers to restrict abortion and limit funding for family planning. Such attacks on choice represent government‘s attempt to usurp a woman’s right to choose and criminalize a legal and potentially life-saving medical procedure. It is incumbent on each and every member of Na’amat to urge our legislators to uphold women’s rights. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD — TAKE ACTION! In the next issue of Na’amat Woman, other topics in the War on Women will be discussed. Marcia J. Weiss, J.D., is the Na’amat USA National Advocacy chair. In the last issue of Na’amat Woman she addressed the topic of voting.
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continued from page 24 others, but letting many in his community be deported. Markovits wants us to ponder the ethics of his choice. In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, the author says, “The idea of leadership, in Orthodox Judaism, doesn’t seem to be one where the captain stays on a sinking ship, but rather one where the leader survives in order to reconcile God with his people.” The deliberately interspersed flow of information about the escaping Rebbe in the novel is not always easy to follow, nor is there any author’s note to shed light on the historical incident. The maid keeps Anghel for seven years before Zalman finds out his true identity and takes him away so he can be a practicing Jew. Josef is sent to a yeshiva in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he lives in a room with seven other boys. Atara and Mila occasionally receive news about him in Paris, where their family has settled. We see what it entails to be raised as Satmar children by an authoritative father. The sisters grow up to be contrasting characters: Mila treads the traditional Satmar path for a woman, whereas Atara, the rebel, reads books and hankers for a secular education. “Atara daydreamed of preparing for the baccalaureate with her classmates at the lycée, but then her family would be erased from the register of good Hasidic families, her siblings condemned to bad marriages, to no marriage at all…. Was it a selfish heart that dreamt of living her own life?” Elsewhere: “Every morning she woke to the same impasse. Could she marry a Hasid who expected a Hasidic wife to cherish Orthodox life? Would she raise children, who, in turn, would be forbidden to read secular books?” When Mila is 17, her marriage is arranged to Josef. She is excited, and soon the tale of the sisters gives way to the love story of Mila and Josef, who seem so destined for each other. Though theirs is an arranged marriage, the heroic role he played after her parents were killed gives it a romantic dimension. Mila scrupulously follows the tenets of Orthodox Judaism from the start of her wedded life, except that she does read 28
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the Talmud. When her marriage unravels, the reader wonders whether orthodoxy is to blame for burdening her to conceive a child or, after a decade of a barren marriage, risk divorce. Markovits herself was raised in a Satmar community, which she fled to escape an arranged marriage. We feel her emotions are held in check, but not her lyrical language, as she lets her plot unfold and her characters develop. Markovits does not follow through on the story of the sisters, but she isn’t the only writer who has successfully created an excellent novel after first promising one tale and then delivering another. She succeeds in engaging us as the story turns romantic and then becomes one of betrayal, not just of Mila’s spouse but, through marital disloyalty, of her own religion as well. What the writer does consistently is to make the reader reflect on the role of religion in a family’s life and show that it may be the cause of suffering. She also demonstrates that when men exert their power over women, it sometimes undermines what they themselves seek. — Tara Menon
AROUND THE CO
π Pittburgh Council Spiritual Adoption/Scholarship Dinner honors Helen Faye Rosenblum and Ray Rosenblum (center) for their dedicated service to the community. Far left, national president Liz Raider; far right, council president and national board member Marcia Weiss.
continued from page 3 the services we offer in Israel. Na’amat USA is also working on several more videos, which we plan to release in the spring. They are a great way to reach out to our communities and introduce Na’amat to a much broader population — and we need to take further advantage of this approach. Do you use a computer or a smartphone? Please join us on our national Facebook page, or start a local Facebook page, as some our groups have done. You can help expand our public relations and reach potential new members. Na’amat USA members truly work together in partnership with Na’amat Israel for a future of hope and promise, and I thank all of you for your devotion to ensuring that this vision becomes a reality. With my best wishes for you and your families for a wonderful new year…
π Long Island/Queens Council was honored to host Galia Wolloch, the new president of Na’amat Israel, and Masha Lubelsky, Na’amat representative to the WZO Executive, at its Annual Membership Dinner. Na’amat USA president Elizabeth Raider was the guest speaker. The event paid tribute to Helen Rauch, longtime art tours treasurer. From left: Doris Katz, Debbie Kohn, Debbie Troy-Stewart, Doris Shinners, Galia Wolloch, Masha Lubelsky, Ido Wolloch, Elizabeth Raider and Tal Ourian.
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π Cleveland Council luncheon honors Rabbi Stanley Schachter and Dr. Lifsa Schachter (Na’amat USA life member), a teacher, for their generous work in the community. Since the Schachters spend time with their daughter’s family in Gilo, Israel, the funds raised will help refurbish the Na’amat day care center there. The event also featured former Clevelander Julie Orringer, well-known author of The Invisible Bridge. From left: Eppie Shore, event co-chair; Linda Schoenberg, co-president and national board member; Rabbi Schachter; Natalie Landy, co-president; and Marguerite Morris, event co-chair. Photo on right shows Julie Orringer. π Long Island/Queens Council luncheon honors Irene Frank for her 38 years as the council’s art tours director. The group’s monthly art tours are a great success. Entertainment was provided by member Lydia Gladstone, Broadway singer and actress. From left: council president Doris Shinners, event co-chair Tal Ourian, event co-chair Sorell Balaban, Irene Frank, Alan Amira, Dorothy Amira; back row: David Frank and Abby Frank.
π More than 150 people attended a gala luncheon celebrating 50 years of the Natanya chapter. The event honored all the members of this dynamic group in the San Fernando Valley Council. Elizabeth Raider, national president of Na’amat USA, and Carolyn Ben Natan, Israeli Consulate director of Public Affairs, were distinguished speakers. From left: Sharon Valera, president of Natanya; Lillian Liebross and her sister, Eileen Maddis, founders of Natanya; Larry Scharf; Harriet Sokolow; Andrea Scharf, representing founders Rose Scharf (z"l) and Elsie Scharf; and Susan Isaacs, president of San Fernando Valley Council.
π From our Na’amat sisters in Brazil: The Clarinha Milman club’s weekly meeting was held at the home of Celi Maltz Raskin. The outgoing president of Na’amat Pioneiras Brazil in Porto Alegre was honored for her dedicated service. For more photos and information, go to www.naamat.org.br.
√ Na’amat USA national board members welcome Galia Wolloch, Na’amat Israel president, and Masha Lubelsky, Na’amat representative to the WZO, to the board meeting in Newark, New Jersey, in October. From left, seated: Harriet Green, Galia Wolloch, Sylvia Lewis, Chellie Goldwater Wilensky; standing: Marjorie Moidel, Masha Lubelsky, Elizabeth Raider, Debbie TroyStewart, Irene Hack, Debbie Kohn, Gail Simpson and Jan Minnick.
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Rock With NA’AMAT!
YOU CAN WIN A CONVENTION PACKAGE! Annual members who become life members between July 1, 2012, and Israel Independence Day, April 16, 2013, will be entered into a drawing for a convention package (land only, value: $450). Looking forward to meeting you at the convention -July 21-24, 2013 -- in Cleveland!
Convention chairs Marcia Weiss, Linda Schoenberg, Chellie Goldwater Wilensky and Gail Simpson (from left) invite all members of Na’amat USA to the 41st national convention of Na’amat USA. You’ll “Rock With Na’amat” at this exciting convention in Cleveland, July 21-24, 2013. Take advantage of the Early Bird Special and guarantee your place at the beautiful Hilton Cleveland East/ Beachwood by sending in your registration form and check today. Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation. Publication title: NA’AMAT WOMAN. Publication no.: 0433800. Filing date: October 1, 2012. Issue frequency: Quarterly. Number of issues published annually: 4. Annual subscription price: $10.00. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018 - New York County. Contact person and telephone number: G. Gross, 212-563-5222. Mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Full names and complete mailing addresses of publisher, editor and managing editor: Publisher: Judith A. Sokoloff, c/o NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Editor: Judith A. Sokoloff, c/o NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Managing Editor: None. Owner: NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. Publication name: NA’AMAT WOMAN. Issue date for circulation data below: Fall 2012. Average no. of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 9,089. Paid/requested outside county mail subscriptions: 8,707. Paid in-county mail subscriptions: 2. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-USPS paid distribution: 25. Other classes mailed through USPS: 30. Total paid and/or requested mail circulation: 8,764. Free distribution by mail outside of county: 0. Free distribution by mail in county: 0. Other classes mailed through USPS: 0. Free distribution outside the mail: 0. Total free distribution: 0. Total distribution: 8,764. Copies not distributed: 325. Total: 9,089. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 96.4 percent. Actual no. of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 9,048. Paid/requested outside county mail subscriptions: 8,666. Paid in-county mail subscriptions: 2. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-USPS paid distribution: 25. Other classes mailed through USPS: 30. Total paid and/or requested mail circulation: 8,723. Free distribution by mail outside of county: 0. Free distribution by mail in county: 0. Other classes mailed through USPS: 0. Free distribution outside the mail: 0. Total free distribution: 0. Total distribution: 8,723. Copies not distributed: 325. Total: 9,048. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 96.4 percent. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. — Judith A. Sokoloff, Editor.
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Chellie Goldwater Wilensky National Convention Chairperson
Convention registration form
NA'AMAT USA 41st NATIONAL CONVENTION CLEVELAND, OHIO, JULY 21-24, 2013 Please print your name as you wish it to appear on your badge. Name Address City/State/Zip Phone E-mail Club Council Life Member
Rooming with Arriving on
Name of guest/spouse Address City/State/Zip Phone E-mail Club Council Friend of Na’amat USA
Early Bird Special: $425 by February 1 (per person, double occupancy). After Feb 1: $450. Single supplement: $200. Package includes 3 nights in the Hilton Cleveland East/ Beachwood plus opening night reception, 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners, closing brunch, all programs and entertainment, convention bag and materials.
Total registration fee(s) $________________ Enclosed is my check payable to Na’amat USA Please charge:
Name on account Account number Expiration date Signature
Please send to: Na’amat usa, 505 8th Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, NY 10018.
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You are Invited to Join the NA’AMAT USA
Circle of Love A child’s future is in your hands! That child needs our Circle of Love to be nurtured and set on the road to a happy and productive life. Each Circle of Love provides a scholarship for an at-risk child to attend one of Na’amat’s multipurpose centers. These centers provide not only quality education, but also psychological and special needs services — all in a loving environment, 12 hours a day. A single donation of $2,000 completes a circle. Ten people, each donating $200, will also create a circle. Donors’ names will be inscribed on the Circle of Love wall in Israel and appear in Na’amat Woman magazine.
With your help, the Circle of Love will be never-ending. Please contact the national office for additional information. Phone: 212-563-5222; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.naamat.org.
Circle of Love Donors
Na’amat USA wholeheartedly thanks the following for providing scholarships for needy Israeli children to attend Na’amat multipurpose day care centers. One ($2,000) or More In Memory of Gertrude and Arthur Aaron Sabra club (Brooklyn, NY) Youngstown Council
Others Esther Goldsmith club (Toms River, NJ) Doris Katz Long Island Council Tooran Mahboubi Rachel Maisel Lorie Maurer Shirley Sacks
Help Us Update Our Records! Na’amat USA wants to be in touch with you in the most efficient way… If you’re moving or have moved and not sent your new address to the national office, please let us know your new location as well as your old one (you can cut out the address label from the magazine). For all members and friends: Please send us your latest e-mail address. Na’amat USA, 505 8th Avenue, Suite 2302 New York, New York 10018 phone: 212-563-5222 fax: 212-563-5710 e-mail: email@example.com WINTER 2012/2013
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Join us in Cleveland, Ohio, for the 41st National Convention of NA'AMAT USA.
July 21-24, 2013 Hilton Cleveland East/ Beachwood Early Bird Convention Package: $425 by February 1.
Experience the spirit and excitement of a NA'AMAT USA convention. Join dynamic women in stimulating discussions and important plenaries. Enjoy socializing with members from across the United States and visitors from Israel. Generate new ideas and help shape the future of the organization.
Top Israeli and American personalities Gala banquet and festive entertainment Sessions on critical issues Election of national officers And much, much more!
Make our convention part of your family vacation! See page 30 for convention package details and registration form. Na'amat winter final.indd 32
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