Friday, September 24, 2021 18 Tishrei 5782 Vol. 93 | No. 39 | ©2021 jewishledger.com
THE UN DURBAN CONFERENCE: A LEGACY OF HATE
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| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
CONNECTICUT JEWISH LEDGER | SINCE 1929 | SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 | 18 TISHREI 5782
8 Around Connecticut
15 Torah Portion
19 What’s Happening
Arts & Entertainment.......................................................... 4 On Sept. 11, 2001, the greatest Holocaust film ever made premiered — and then quickly disappeared. Roger Ebert called this largely unnoticed film one of the best of the year… Steven Spielberg considered distributing it. Is it time to see it?
Conversation with…............................................................. 5 Dr. Amy-Jill Levine a foremost scholar in the study of Judaism and the New Testament, is named The Hartford Seminary’s Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies.
Never Mind.............................................................................. 5 The City Council of Burlington, received 2,000 emails regarding a a proposed resolution that would make Vermont the first state to support the BDS movement. Only 10 or 11 were in support. No wonder the resolution was withdrawn.
Political Warfare.................................................................18 It was no surprise last week when Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a Republican-led recall election. But the vote carries implications for Diane Feinstein, America’s first Jewish woman senator.
21 Business and Professional Directory
ON THE COVER:
This week, the United Nations is set to hold a 20th anniversary summit of its so-called World Conference against Racism that took place in Durban, South Africa, four days before the 9/11 terror attacks. The U.S. and Israel walked out of the 2001 Durban Conference, which devolved into a circus of anti-Jewish hatred whose sole purpose was to demonize and delegitimize Israel. Concerned that Durban IV will carry the same anti-Israel and antisemitic tenor, this week’s summit is being boycotted by at least 16 countries. A look back at the 2001 Durban Conference explains why. Pictured on the cover is the United Nations Secretariat Building in Manhattan, New York by Steve Cadman via Wikimedia Commons. PAGE 12 jewishledger.com
CANDLE LIGHTING SHABBAT FRIDAY, SEPT. 24
SHEMINI ATZERET MONDAY, SEPT. 27
SIMHAT TORAH TUESDAY, SEPT. 28
Hartford 6:26 p.m.
Hartford 6:21 p.m.
Hartford 7:18 p.m.
New Haven: 6:26 p.m.
New Haven: 6:21 p.m.
New Haven: 7:18 p.m.
Bridgeport: 6:27 p.m.
Bridgeport: 6:22 p.m.
Bridgeport: 7:19 p.m.
Stamford: 6:28 p.m.
Stamford: 6:23 p.m.
Stamford: 7:20 p.m.
To determine the time for Havdalah, add one hour and 10 minutes (to be safe) to candle lighting time.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Conversation with filmmaker Tim Blake Nelson The greatest Holocaust movie ever made, starring Steve Buscemi, debuted on 9/11. It’s time to revisit it. BY RICH BROWNSTEIN
(JTA) — On Sept. 11, 2001, the greatest Holocaust film ever made, before or since, premiered at a festival — and quickly disappeared, largely unnoticed. The film’s cast included Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, David Arquette, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mira Sorvino, and it was written and directed by the acclaimed Jewish actor Tim Blake Nelson. Roger Ebert called it one of the best films of the year; later, he added it to his prestigious Great Movies series. The film was so extraordinary that Steven Spielberg considered distributing it himself, less than a decade after making “Schindler’s List.” This was the astonishing pedigree and support behind “The Grey Zone.” But it couldn’t translate into any attention for the beleaguered film, which had a quickly-forgotten premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and languished at the box office when it was released the next year. “The Grey Zone” is not about righteous gentiles or good Nazis who redeem themselves by saving Jews. It’s not a happy-go-lucky film with a father and son prancing around Auschwitz playing games, or a cartoonish Adolf Hitler mugging for the camera. It lacks the other typical trappings of Holocaust movies: the lush musical score, the tortured accents, the melodramatic misdirections. “The Grey
Zone” is, instead, about the moral and philosophical conundrums faced by the Sonderkommando: the Jews in the death camps who worked to dispose of the victims’ bodies in exchange for slightly better treatment from the Nazis. Drawing on the writings of Primo Levi and the true story of the forgotten rebellion at Birkenau by the Sonderkommando in 1944, where the Jewish workers destroyed two of the main four crematorium complexes on the deadliest spot in human history, Nelson portrays real people living their reality — not with black or white choices, but with grey moral choices. And “The Grey Zone” tells its complex, layered story in an economical 108 minutes, with grace and humility. How did such an important film fall through the cracks? “The Grey Zone” was practically stillborn, set to premiere just after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while smoke was still rising from lower Manhattan. Yet even if the film’s release date had not itself been cataclysmic, it was still made by Nelson — best known at the time for playing a buffoonish ex-con in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” — and starring a cast of American actors not known for weighty dramatic performances. Even though Nelson, basing the film on his own play of the same name, was himself the son of a Holocaust refugee and had traveled to Dachau and Auschwitz for research, he’d hardly seemed like the kind of filmmaker to pay the Holocaust sufficient reverence. In the 20 years since the film’s release, it has come to seem oddly prescient in the world of Holocaust cinema. More and more often, dramatizations of the Shoah,
including Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” favor more unsparing, morally complicated depictions of Holocaust victims. And in 2015, the Hungarian film “Son of Saul” drew from much of the same plot and setting as “The Grey Zone” for its own depiction of the Sonderkommando; that movie won the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, while its forebear suffered the fate of most pioneers, alone and forgotten. Nevertheless, Nelson remains proud of his contribution to Holocaust cinema. “There’s nothing I’ve done that’s more important to me than ‘The Grey Zone,’” he told JTA in a recent interview. Nelson sat down with JTA for an interview to discuss the film’s 20th anniversary. JTA: Talk about growing up as a Jewish kid in 1970s Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nelson: I’ve described it before as strangely exotic. Being a European Jew in Tulsa, the son of a Holocaust refugee, we were obviously different. I feel like I got the best of both worlds. I got to grow up as a Jew, celebrating Passover at my grandparents’ house on plates and silverware that somehow they brought over from Germany — yet in Oklahoma, which is also unique. And that combination gave me a level of intimacy and distance that has really served me well in my life. How much of the Birkenau revolt in “The Grey Zone” was fictional? Almost none of the core plot was fiction. “The Grey Zone” was based mostly on “Amidst a Nightmare of Crime: Manuscripts of Prisoners in Crematorium Squads Found at Auschwitz,” as well as Dr. Miklós Nyiszli’s “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account” and, of course, Primo Levi’s “The Drowned And The Saved,” a chapter of which provided the film’s name. The film was also heavily influenced by André Schwarz-Bart’s novel “The Last of the Just,” and the memoirs of both Dario Gabai and Filip Muller. Did you go to the camps in preparation for making “The Grey Zone”?
STEVE BUSCEMI AND DAVID ARQUETTE IN “THE GREY ZONE.” (SCREENSHOT VIA LIONSGATE ENTERTAINMENT; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY GRACE YAGEL)
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I went to Dachau and Auschwitz to write “The Grey Zone” play, which was performed in New York several years earlier. And we had the architectural plans from the London War Museum, so we were able to make exact replicas of two of the crematoria, which were ultimately destroyed in the 1944 uprising. Interestingly, just a few years ago, I went back to Auschwitz with my son Henry. After the tour, in the Birkenau gift shop, I pointed and said, “Look Henry, they have ‘The Grey Zone’ DVD.” The cashier jumped in and said, “That’s the best Holocaust movie
anybody has ever made.” I paid for the postcard and left without telling him that it was my movie. What parts of the killing process did you represent in the film? Over the course of the movie, you get every single aspect of the victim’s journey to death — actually up into the clouds, because at the end we see smoke and ash rising. It’s not all in order, but you get every single part of the killing apparatus from the train to the oven except for one: there was no way I was going to shoot inside the gas chamber during the gassing. We show Germans pouring in the Zyklon B [from] the roof, and you hear the screaming. We did have a shot inside the gas chamber right after, just a mass of dead bodies against the wall. But it was too much, too gruesomely real in an almost pornographic way. Fortunately, we were in a position not to have to use it in edit. You were working as an actor for Steven Spielberg while you were editing “The Grey Zone.” Did he see your movie? I was acting in “Minority Report” and we got along very well and still do. And I said to him on set, “Look, I just made this Holocaust film. Would you take a look?” And so I got him the workprint. It wasn’t even the finished film. Steven watched it in his screening room over the weekend. And he said, “This is incredible. I love it. Look, I want to consider putting it out through DreamWorks.” So he showed it to his executives, who told him two things: “We’re not in the business of putting out films that are on a maximum of maybe only 750 screens, and it’s always going to be compared to ‘Schindler’s List’, sometimes favorably and probably mostly not favorably, so we don’t see it for DreamWorks.” So we took it to Lionsgate, who distributed it. So, yes, Steven loved the film and has always been supportive. Why were the film’s characters flawed, unlike Jewish victims in most other Holocaust film? Primo Levi’s breathtaking implication about the Sonderkommandos, who extended their lives through some level of participation, was that Levi couldn’t claim he would’ve done differently. And so, that to me was almost a command that the characters needed to be inherently flawed, like you and me. I identify with every one of the Jews in the film on a really personal level. And even though each character is very different from one another, they had conversations that I think most people would have when CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
CONNECTICUT JEWISH LEDGER | SINCE 1929 | SEPTEMBER 124, 2021 | 18 TISHREI 5782
Dr. Amy-Jill Levine is named Hartford Seminary’s first Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor
ARTFORD – Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a foremost scholar in the study of Judaism, the Tanakh (Jewish scriptures), and the New Testament has been named the Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at The Hartford Seminary. The first person to fill this post, Levine arrives from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., where she is professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita. Hartford Seminary’s new distinguished professorship is named after Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler z”l, who served as rabbi of Beth El Temple in West Hartford for 38 years. Kessler, who died in 2019, also served on The Hartford Seminary’s board of trustees from 1994 to 1997, and was a civil rights advocate who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960s. This position is made possible through the support of numerous donors, including a lead gift from Abigail Kessler-Hanna, M.D., Rabbi Kessler’s daughter. Raised in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood in North Dartmouth, Mass., Levine, a scholar of Christian-Jewish relations, early Christianity, and feminist biblical interpretation, has described herself as a “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt.” In 2019, she became the first Jew to teach a New Testament course at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. In 2021, she was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She will reside in Hartford each year during the late spring for a summer session course and will teach, give public lectures, engage in talks and presentations at local places of worship. An inaugural public lecture will take place at Beth El Temple in the spring of 2022 to recognize her appointment and honor Rabbi Kessler’s legacy. “If ever there was a ‘rock star’ in this realm, Professor Levine is it. To name her professorship in honor of Rabbi Kessler is a double blessing,” said Joel N. Lohr, president of the seminary. Levine has published more than 30 jewishledger.com
BDS resolution withdrawn at Burlington City Council meeting
BY STACEY DRESNER
crochet on Saturday evening.
BY FAYGIE HOLT
What sparked your interest in Jesus and the New Testament? Growing up in a predominantly Roman Catholic neighborhood in North Dartmouth, Mass., I knew well the beauty of churches inside and out; I enjoyed going to the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford, and I loved the Christmas carols we sang in elementary school. My parents told me that Christianity was much like Judaism: we worshiped the same God, the one who created the heavens and the earth; we prayed the same prayers, most notably the Psalms; and a Jewish man named Jesus was very important to Christians. Thus, my initial sense was that Christianity was much like Judaism and the church was like the synagogue we did not attend. books including The Misunderstood Jew, Short Stories by Jesus, five children’s books and The Bible With and Without Jesus, with Marc Z. Brettler. With Brettler, she also edited the Jewish Annotated New Testament. She recently spoke to the Jewish Ledger about her work and what inspired her, as a Jew, to become a scholar specializing in Christianity and the New Testament. JEWISH LEDGER: Tell us about your Jewish upbringing. AMY-JILL LEVINE: I grew up as a member of Tifereth Israel, a Conservative synagogue in New Bedford. If I am remembering correctly, my maternal grandmother was the sisterhood’s first president and my maternal grandfather the congregation’s second president. I attended Hebrew school two days a week, Friday night services, junior congregation on Saturday morning until becoming bat mitzvah and regular Shabbos services after that, and Sunday school. We did not keep kosher. My father, who was in the scallop business, insisted that we celebrate Shabbos with the best food available. Generally, that meant lobster. However, on Friday night, my mother would put down her knitting needles and my grandmother would put down her crochet hook; they’d start again to knit and
Living in such a predominantly Catholic neighborhood, did you experience any antisemitism? Despite numerous positive connections my parents drew between the Jewish and Christian traditions, I learned very quickly that all was not irenic. When I was in second grade, a girl on the school bus accused me of killing her lord. Since I was certain I did not kill anyone, I told her she was wrong. She insisted, “Our priest said so.” Now comes my first lesson in interreligious relations: the importance of asking rather than presuming. I presumed that the special collars priests wore magically prevented lying. Thinking that the priest had told such a whopper of a lie that the collar would have killed him, I asked if the priest had died. When she said that the priest was still alive, I thought I was guilty of deicide. At the bus stop, my mother asked me why I was crying, and I told her that I had killed God. She assured me that God was just fine. At that moment I began to wonder why, if Jews and Christians worshiped the same God and prayed the same prayers, and if Jesus was Jewish, were Christians saying horrible things about Jews. I started to ask questions, and I’ve been asking them ever since. In October of 1965, the last document
(JNS) After more than two hours of public comments, the Burlington City Council meeting in Vermont ended on Monday night, Sept. 13, with a vote to withdraw a resolution that would have made it the first city in the United States to support the BDS movement and efforts to boycott Israel. “Last night’s vote was an incredible win for those opposed to BDS,” said Yoram Samets, chair of the antisemitism task group of the Jewish Communities of Vermont. “We found out about this resolution two weeks ago. When we jumped into this challenge, we knew that seven city council members supported the resolution, and we were uncertain where the mayor would stand.” “The past two weeks,” he added, “have created a fear that many Jews have never experienced.” On withdrawing the resolution from the agenda, council member Ali Dieng, who sponsored it, said it went through a process that included approval from the city’s Racial, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee and was supported by at least 27 local organizations. But on Monday, he said he welcomed more discussion, and after hearing the feedback and opposition, the resolution was “not yet ready” for passage. The resolution said, in part, that Burlington “expresses solidarity with the Palestinian people … and endorses the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.” It also blames the violence between Israel and the Hamas terror organization that runs the Gaza Strip—and with its proxies launched more than 4,000 rockets at civilian population centers in the Jewish state in May—squarely on Israel’s shoulders. According to council member Karen Paul, the city received 2,000 emails from throughout Vermont and across the country, and only 10 or 11 of those CONTINUED ON THE NEXT PAGE
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were “supportive” of the resolution. “The rest were opposed overwhelmingly,” she said, “more so than any other resolution I have ever seen. … BDS is not about finding common ground, it just isn’t. That’s why President Biden, President Obama, 50 governors and our own delegation are opposed to this.” However, she was among those voting against withdrawing the resolution because that means it can be reintroduced in the near future, putting the city right back in the “firestorm of controversy. … As hard as it is, I’d rather we have the debate tonight and just vote, and just hope we would be able to move on from there.” Council member William “Chip” Mason, who also opposed withdrawing the measure, acknowledged that when he walked into the building “I was legitimately concerned that violence would erupt. … I was scared for people in this room. … I want to acknowledge the very real fear. I looked out in the room—people were crying; people were shaking their heads make this stop.”
On this issue, ‘we are all one’ The vote to withdraw the resolution came hours after Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger expressed his opposition to the measure, which Jewish groups claimed was anti-Israel and would lead to an increase in antisemitism. Even before the meeting began, as people filled up the chambers and the balcony overlooking the room, shouts of “Free, free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” rang out from
the audience as people held up Palestinian flags and posters. Opponents held their own placards opposing the resolution, some of which read, “BDS delegitimizes Israel,” “Burlington, we are better than this. Vote NO,” and “BDS = hate.” One after another, people came to the microphone to speak for two minutes about their concerns and feelings. Opponents of the measure, including many Jews in Vermont, said the resolution was one-sided and demonized Israel, and would endanger the Jewish community there. “It’s hard for me to believe that we are even discussing this resolution that will create so much division,” Rabbi Yitzchak Raskin, director of Chabad of Burlington, told the city council. “I kind of want to beg you, the Jewish community here in Burlington is over 100 years; [we have] strong roots, and I know a majority of them oppose this resolution.” He added that it is often hard to get the different synagogues in town to agree on anything, but on this issue, “we are all one.” Wearing a well-worn Israel Defense Forces T-shirt, Spencer Karofsky, a student at the University of Vermont, said he was reluctant to speak but was doing so “out of fear” because “I am terrified that I will be attacked on account of my religious and ancestral identify if I do not. When pro-BDS activists marched into this meeting, I felt an emotion I have felt never on account of my religion: fear.” “I am Jewish and a proud Jew, an unapologetic Jew,” he said, noting that
when other BDS measures were passed, “disgusting rises in antisemitic incidents occur.” Karofsky told JNS “that angry pro-BDS activists screaming slogans that indirectly call for the destruction of Israel—the one safe space for Jews—was the first time in my life that I have ever felt unsafe on account of my religion. I was shaking when I wrote and delivered my speech, as many of the pro-BDS activists were fellow UVM students.” He said it’s a 30-minute walk from city hall to his dorm room, and he was concerned about possible retribution: “I sprinted the entire time, plus looked behind my back at least a dozen times to make sure that no person or car was following me.” Another speaker, Jason, noted that he is open to learning about both sides of the issue; however, “BDS calls for an end to Israel. ‘From the river to the sea’ means an end to Israel,’ ” he said. “The BDS movement goes beyond the protection for Palestinians—it calls for death to Israel. I don’t know you can have a conversation with someone when the opening salvo is you need to die.” “There is pain on both sides. There is injustice on both sides. But,” the Burlington resident said, “we need to have that conversation, and to start, we need to recognize each other’s right to exist.”
‘It appears that they were heard’
evening’s final one was not. David Feldman, a member of the Neturei Karta, a virulently anti-Zionist group, wore a scarf with the word “Palestine” on it and an ID card that had appeared to have a Palestinian flag and Arabic writing, as he claimed the “occupation is totally wrong” on religious and moral basis. He received applause primarily from the Palestinian supporters in the crowd. More than 2,000 people contacted council members directly, and more than 1,000 signed on to a letter organized by Jewish Communities of Vermont with support from AJC New England, ADL New England, the Israeli American Council, StandWithUs, and other organizations and synagogues in the region, opposing the resolution, according to the American Jewish Committee. This outpouring of opposition to BDS took place despite the hearing having been scheduled during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also known as “The Days of Awe.” AJC New England director Robert Leikind said “this resolution was based on carefully curated information, deprived of context and designed to create a false and deceptive portrait of Israel and its supporters. Such tactics feed polarization, defeat prospects for peace and inspire hate. Thousands of people appealed to members of the City Council to reject this morally troubling BDS resolution. It appears that they were heard.”
While most of the speakers were local, the
PRO-PALESTINIAN SUPPORTS AND JEWISH RESIDENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS GATHER AT A CITY COUNCIL MEETING IN BURLINGTON, VT., WHICH PUT A MEASURE TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL UP FOR CONSIDERATION, SEPT. 13, 2021. (SCREENSHOT)
| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
Levine CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5
published from the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate (Latin for “in our time”) proclaimed that Jews in all times and places cannot be held responsible for the death of Jesus. But this school bus conversation happened earlier. Vatican II is a splendid example of how we choose to interpret our Scriptures. Part of inter-religious dialogue is working on addressing difficult text. Ensuring that Scripture is not wielded as a weapon is one of my passions. Why do you think it is important for non-Jews to learn more about Jesus as a Jew? And, what surprises your students most about Jesus and his Jewishness? Since the Christian tradition proclaims that Jesus is fully human, then he is fully human as a Jew, growing up in a Jewish household, instructed by Jewish parents in the home and Jewish teachers in the synagogue and temple, faithful to the Torah and the prophets. Many of my students are surprised to learn that Jesus is not only fully obedient to Torah, but also that he makes Torah more rigorous rather than less; they are surprised to learn that he did not seek to abolish Judaism but to prepare his fellow Jews for what he thought would be the in-breaking of the kingdom of heaven, or the messianic age. If we misunderstand the Judaism of Jesus’ time, we will misunderstand Jesus. Uninformed Christian preaching and teaching is a major source for anti-Jewish views.
Sirach, and the books of Judith and Tobit. To know the New Testament is therefore to become more familiar with Jewish history. Further, because interpretations of the New Testament have led to horrific acts of Jewhatred, Jews do well to know what the New Testament says and therefore to be able to challenge anti-Jewish readings. How do you deal with some of the antisemitic parts of the New Testament in your teaching? All sacred texts have problematic materials, and all moral people should resist interpretations that promote hatred or demonization. Ignoring or denying problematic texts is insufficient. We should all be informed about their historical contexts, how they have been interpreted over time, and how they are to be taught to congregations today. Your professorship carries the name of Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler z”l. Were you familiar with Rabbi Kessler? What are your thoughts on being the first appointee to this Hartford Seminary professorship?
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I am deeply honored by this appointment. The more I learn of Rabbi Kessler’s activities, the more I am inspired to continue his work of social justice, interreligious relations, and love of Judaism.
Should Jews be more familiar with Jesus and the New Testament? The New Testament is part of Jewish history, as are the Dead Sea Scrolls, the works of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus and his contemporary, the Jewish philosopher Philo, and the books in the Old Testament Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical literature, such as the books of the Maccabees, the Wisdom of Jesus ben
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AROUND CT Temple Bnai Israel and others “Sound the Call” for climate action PUTNAM — About 100 area residents gathered outdoors at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Putnam one recent Sunday afternoon to stop construction of the nearby proposed Killingly Energy Center gas power plant. At an event endorsed by a dozen environmental justice groups — including the Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter, Windham-Willimantic NAACP, and No More Dirty Power Killingly — as well as 16 rabbis and five local synagogues, speakers called for state officials to withhold permitting for the Killingly plant and to support federal laws and funding for clean renewable energy. Initiated by Temple Bnai Israel in Willimantic, in partnership with the national Jewish organization “Dayenu: A Jewish Call To Climate Action,” the event was part of a nation-wide effort, rooted in Jewish values, to confront the climate crisis; a call to action for a future free of fossil fuel use was marked by the bowing of the shofar. Temple Bnai Israel congregant Sam Marcus was the youngest speaker at the event. “I’m only 15 years old,” he said. “I’d like to be able to live the rest of my life without being devastated by climate change, and to die in a world that has solved the climate crisis.” CT State Senator Mae Flexer, who has
consistently opposed the placement of a gas power facility in her district, pointed out that northeast Connecticut “continues to be a place where people with deep pockets and special interests can come in and decimate our environment...with no consideration for the health of our community or our environment. This community has stood strong...and now we’re here, fighting…” At the rally, Temple Bnai Israel President Peter Malinow led the shofar call and response for participants seven times (in Judaism, the number seven signifies the completeness of Creation), urging Connecticut’s senators to lead on investment in energy efficiency, clean electricity generation and transportation, and to end subsidies to polluting fossil fuels. Following the shofar blowing, participants placed calls via cell phones to the offices of elected state and federal officials, leaving messages urging such action. Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman closed out the event, held on the banks of the Quinebaug River, acknowledging the Nipmuc Nation as long-ago dwellers on the site. “The Quinebaug’s ever-renewing waters remind us of the possibility of our own cleansing renewal,” he said. “We stand up for the Quinebaug by saying ‘no’ to the Killingly plant.”
New England Jewish Academy Students share their Israel experiences It was time to energize, share and inspire, as students of the New England Jew-ish Academy (NEJA) upper division held a panel discussion to share their expe-riences this summer participating in programs in Israel. Students outlined the highlights of their time in Israel, the people they met and the friendships they made, and the ways in which their experiences changed their view of Israel. In a lively discussion, which included a tribute to the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford for their support. They also encouraged their classmates to plan a future trip to Israel and a GAP year after high school, and they spoke passionately about the need to support the Jewish state. Students participating in the panel included Shai Bernstein, Elaine Braunshweiger, Edien Kesler, Nira Kes-ler, Chana Meyer, Miriam Newman, Tziyona Goldfischer, Nochum Silver, Noah Gosberg, Aliya Moss.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT SAM MARCUS ADRESSES THE CROWD IN PUTNAM, AS RABBI JEREMY SCHWATZ, SPIRITUAL LEADER OF WILLIMANTIC’S TEMPLE BNAI ISRAEL LOOKS ON. (COUTESY TEMPLE BNAI ISRAEL)
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BULLETIN BOARD Antisemitism symposium for teens
NEJA STUDENT ELAINE BRAUNSHWEIGER TALKS ABOUT HER SUMMER IN ISRAEL EXPERIENCE AS RABBI GEDALYAH JEREMIAS AND HER CLASSMATES LISTEN.
| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
High school students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in the Antisemitism Symposium for Teens, sponsored by Lappin Foundation’s Teen Antisemitism Task Force and the Jewish Teen Initiative. The interactive sessions are designed to deepen teens’ knowledge of antisemitism; develop skills and build confidence to respond to antisemitism; and identify resources to support students if they experience antisemitism. The symposium will be facilitated by Dr. Noam Weissman and will be held on Zoom, Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., Oct.12, 19 and 26. The symposium is free and all high school students are welcome to attend. Register at LappinFoundation.org. For more information contact Sharon Wyner at (978) 565-4450 or email swyner@ lappinfoundation.org. jewishledger.com
The Grey Zone CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4
confronting their same predicament: either work in the gas chambers and fill the ovens or die in them. What was the impact of 9/11 on the release? I literally woke up on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 to a review in the Toronto Star that was exactly what we wanted. The critic really got the movie. I was supposed to have breakfast with Roger Ebert that morning. Before breakfast, I went on this radio show and that guy was rhapsodic about the movie. And it was to premiere that night. The night of Sept. 11. And I was sitting there on this radio show thinking, “My God, people get the movie. They’re appreciating it. All the risks that we took are being vindicated.” And [I] looked up, and news footage showed the planes crashing into the buildings. And of course, that started with
the understandable cancelation of our premiere that night. How does “The Grey Zone” rank in your professional career? There’s nothing I’ve done that’s more important to me than “The Grey Zone,” and it doesn’t matter that most people have never even heard of it. “The Grey Zone” is currently available to stream for free on Amazon Prime, IMDB TV and Tubi, and for rental from various VOD services. Rich Brownstein is a lecturer for Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies and the author of “Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide.”
Survey: 22% of adult Jewish gamers faced antisemitic harassment (JTA) — More than one in five Jewish adults who play online multiplayer games faced antisemitism while playing, according to a new survey from the Anti-Defamation League. The survey, published Wednesday, found that harassment and bigotry are common across the 97 million Americans who play multiplayer games. Among adult gamers surveyed, 83% said they have been harassed while playing. Sixty percent of gamers aged 13-17 who were surveyed said the same. Among adults, nearly half of women said they were harassed, as did 42% of Black gamers and more than one-in-three Asian and LGBTQ+ gamers. A quarter of Muslim gamers also said they were harassed. More than seven-in-10 adults reported what the ADL calls “severe abuse, including physical threats, stalking, and sustained harassment.” Among teems, Black, female and Asian
gamers also reported the highest rates of harassment in their age group, though harassment is less common across the board among teens. Only 7% of Jewish teen gamers said they were harassed for their identity. But 10% of teen gamers, and 8% of adult gamers, said they’ve been exposed to white supremacist extremism online. Among teens, 17% said they didn’t feel like talking to family or friends after being harassed, and 10% said they did worse in school because they were harassed. Among both teens and adults, two-thirds said they sometimes or always hide their identity as a result of being targeted by hate. The survey was conducted in June in collaboration with Nowzoo, a gaming and esports analytics firm. It includes 1,664 adult respondents and 542 teen respondents. Depending on the group, it has a margin of error of between 2% to 3%.
At the Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation, we understand that comfort and familiarity is a key part of the journey to wellness. We also understand that maintaining your religious beliefs and principles is fundamental in continued enrichment of life. Our Kosher meal services allow residents to maintain their dietary requirements throughout their stay with us. At the Hebrew Center, we ensure we follow all principles of Kosher including purchase, storage, preparation, and service.
At the Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation, we also offer a variety of other services and amenities to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. THESE SERVICES INCLUDE: • Passport to Rehabilitation Program • Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care • Specialized Memory Care • Respite Care Program • Palliative Care and Hospice Services Coordination
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For more information on our Kosher program, please contact: DIRECTOR, PASTORAL SERVICES - (860) 523-3800 Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation One Abrahms Boulevard, West Hartford, CT 06117
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
Briefs Ryan Braun, former MVP and all-time Jewish home run hitter, retires (JTA) — Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who slugged more home runs than any Jewish player in baseball history and won a Most Valuable Player award, announced his retirement on Tuesday, Sept. 14, ending a 14-year career that was not without controversy. “Today, more than 14 years after I first took the field as a Milwaukee Brewer, I’ve decided to retire. While it’s impossible to summarize my emotions right now, what I feel most is one, simple thing: gratitude,” Braun said in his video announcement, which was shared on the Brewers’ social media. The 37-year-old California native was drafted fifth overall by Milwaukee in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft, making his debut two years later. He would go on to win National League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and the league’s MVP in 2011. Braun, a six-time All-Star who played his entire career in Milwaukee, finished as a .296 hitter with 352 home runs, the most by a Jewish player, and 1,154 runs batted in. He has not played in 2021. His accolades do, however, come with an asterisk. Following his 2011 MVP performance, Braun tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, reportedly lied about it and served a 65-game suspension in 2013. The slugger’s reputation was tarnished, especially among Jewish fans. Occasionally known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” Braun is the son of an Israeli father, and has said he is proud of his Jewish heritage, though he does not observe the faith. I do consider myself definitely Jewish,” Braun told USA Today in 2010. “And I’m extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids.” The Brewers honored Braun with a ceremony on Sept. 26 prior to the game against the New York Mets.
Tombstone of Ruth Bader Ginsburg unveiled (JNS) The tombstone of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was unveiled days before the first anniversary of her death on Sept. 18. The grave marker was revealed over the weekend at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It features the U.S. Supreme Court seal, which has a single star beneath an eagle’s claws to symbolize the U.S. Constitution’s creation of “one Supreme Court.” Below Ginsburg’s name, she is remembered as an associate justice who served on the Supreme Court from 1993 until her death in 2020 at the age of 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born justice shares the 10
tombstone with her husband, Martin, who died in 2010 and is buried alongside her in the couple’s section of the historic cemetery, near former President John F. Kennedy and nine Supreme Court justices, including three who served with Ginsburg: Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Associate Justices Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens. It is customary for the unveiling of the tombstone to take place on the one-year anniversary of the death, also known as the first yahrzeit, as per Jewish tradition. Ginsburg was the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in repose inside the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol building before her burial. Earlier this year, she was honored in New York with two statues.
Bennett meets with Egyptian President El-Sisi in Sinai (JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Sharm El-Sheikh on Monday, Sept. 13. According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, the two leaders discussed a series of topics, including “ways to deepen and strengthen cooperation between the states, with an emphasis on broadening mutual trade, and a long series of regional and international issues.” The PMO said in its statement that four decades of peace between the countries continue “to serve as a foundation stone for security and stability in the Middle East. The prime minister stressed the significant role that Egypt is playing in safeguarding security stability in the Gaza Strip and in finding a solution to the issue of [Israeli] captives and MIAs.” Bennett thanked El-Sisi for a warm reception at the coastal Egyptian city on the Sinai Peninsula, where the two agreed to continue broadening cooperation and dialogue on a range of issues. Bennett later said “the meeting was very important and very good. During the meeting, first and foremost, we create an infrastructure for deep continued connections.” He added that Israel is “opening to the countries of the region, and the basis for this recognition over the many years is the peace between Israel and Egypt. Hence, both sides must invest in strengthening these ties, and this is what we did today.”
Abraham Accords draw show of unity from Trump, Biden officials (JTA) — Jared Kushner had plenty of folks to praise at an event here Tuesday, Sept. 14, marking the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords, the deals he brokered normalizing relations between Israel and four Arab countries. There were the ambassadors from Israel and two of the Arab lands, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. There were his Trump administration colleagues who worked through the agreement. There were even
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some Democrats. “I also want to thank Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida for being here today as well as Acting Assistant Secretary of State Yael Lempert,” he said. At the same time, Axios reported that Lempert’s boss, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Sept. 17 with his counterparts from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. Together it was a remarkable show of comity over Middle East policy at a time when Republicans and Democrats seem farther apart than ever. For Kushner, who has distanced himself from his father-in-law and his false election claims, the priority was to uphold bipartisan backing for the accords as a means of expanding them. The accords have “achieved a bipartisan consensus, and this is very, very important,” he said. Lampert and Deutch, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee, gave Kushner’s claim credence, as did Blinken’s plans for a festive meeting Friday. “It’s impossible not to be optimistic one year in,” Deutch told reporters afterward. “The Biden administration is committed to strengthening and building upon the Abraham Accords and that, of course, means bringing more countries to the table.” An entity Kushner founded to advance the accords, the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, organized the event.
improvements between countries.” America, she said, is committed to building and expanding upon these agreements.
UN ambassadors mark anniversary of Abraham Accords
(JNS) The Israeli cyber-surveillance company NSO Group developed a tool to break into Apple iPhones using novel ways to hack the phone since at least February, according to the Internet security watchdog Citizen Lab. The watchdog said that while analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, it found infiltration into iMessage. This could occur without the targeted person clicking anything for the spyware to work. Apple released a software update last week to fix the hole in its security system. “After identifying the vulnerability used by this exploit for iMessage, Apple rapidly developed and deployed a fix in iOS 14.8 to protect our users,” said Ivan Krstić, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, reported Reuters. He said “attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals.” The Apple security official added that “while that means they are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users, we continue to work tirelessly to defend all our customers, and we are constantly adding new protections for their devices and data.”
(JNS) Ambassadors to the United Nations representing Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco marked one year since the signing of the Abraham Accords at a ceremony on Monday in New York. “The Abraham Accords are the best representation of practicing tolerance and living in peace with our neighbors,” said Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan. Erdan was the first dignitary to address the audience gathered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan, which included about 70 ambassadors. “I strongly believe that as others in the region see the fruits of our partnerships and feel this transformation, they will join our circle of peace,” he said. Also speaking at the event were the UAE Ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh, Bahrain Ambassador to the United Nations Jamal Al Rowaiei and Moroccan Ambassador to the United Nations Omar Hilale. They stressed the growing ties between their countries and Israel. Joining them on stage was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “The normalization agreements we’re commemorating today have demonstrated real progress toward a more peaceful region,” she said. “But perhaps what is most remarkable is that in the past year we have gone from ink on a page to concrete
Warsaw Jewish community buries remains of unidentified Holocaust victim (JNS) Warsaw’s Jewish community buried the remains of an unidentified Holocaust victim on Tuesday, Sept. 14, found in a building that was once part of the Warsaw Ghetto. “We are here as the family for a person we don’t know,” said Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, according to the AP. The bones were wrapped in a white cloth and carried on a wooden cart to the grave in Warsaw’s Jewish Cemetery. Leslaw Piszewski, chairman of the Jewish Community in Warsaw, said according to the report, “after nearly 80 years, this unknown person got his dignity back. This is very important. This is the only thing that we can do for the unknown victim.” The human bones were found in a basement, thought to have resulted from a Jew hiding from German forces that destroyed the area during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.
Israel’s cyber company NSO developed tool to break into iPhones
Israeli court orders Hamas to pay $11.8 million to families of slain teens (Israel Hayom via JNS) The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday, Sept. 13 that jewishledger.com
Hamas must pay 38 million shekels ($11.8 million) to the families of three Israeli teens murdered by the terrorist group in 2014. Justice Ilan Sela noted in the ruling that the figure was based on a previous Supreme Court ruling. Each estate is to be awarded 3 million shekels (around $935,000) in compensation and each claimant 1 million shekels ($311,660). The families of the three boys, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrach plan to appeal the ruling, however, as the amount falls far short of the 520 million shekels ($155 million) in compensation they had sought. The Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center, which filed the suit a year ago on the families’ behalf, explained that their goal had been to stop the flow of funds, estimated to amount to anywhere from $50 million to $100 million per month month, that the Palestinian Authority transfers to Hamas. As these funds are transferred to the various arms of the terrorist organization, including its military wing, they can be seized as part of the court’s ruling against Hamas. Shurat Hadin further argued the court’s ruling makes a mockery of the war on terror: “No $10 million ruling will deter an organization with a billion-dollar budget. The purpose of the lawsuits is to topple the terrorism, and this cannot be done through amounts that are insignificant to them [the Hamas terrorists].” Noting that U.S. courts have ordered terror victims to be paid hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, the organization said there was nothing stopping Israeli courts from doing the same. In a statement, Shurat Hadin founder Nitsana DarshanLeitner said: “It cannot be that the Israeli court will spare the terrorist organization that funded, planned, and carried out the terrible attack that was etched on the entire nation’s heart. The ruling allotting a tenth of the compensation claim will severely damage Israeli deterrence and the means to eradicate terrorism via economic means.”
Pro-Israel group urges Ireland to boycott Durban IV conference (JNS) A pro-Israel group in Ireland is calling on the government to boycott the upcoming 20-year commemoration of the Durban 2001 Conference at the United Nations on Sept. 22. “Only a few months ago, Ireland solidified its reputation and status as the most anti-Israel of Western Nations—as Sinn Féin’s legislative extremism towards Israel was unanimously and resoundingly endorsed. Now in only a few days, the Durban IV conference will take place in New York and our country must make a clear choice: Will we be a party to the antisemitic legacy of Durban and continue our descent into extremism, or will we follow the example of other leading democracies in boycotting this conference of hate?” Jackie Goodall, executive director of the Ireland Israel Alliance, posed in a statement. “The legacy of Durban, first held in 2001, is one of antisemitism and incitement to violence,” jewishledger.com
she said.The international conference has been dubbed “the festival of Jew-hate” for its history of promoting antisemitism. (See cover story p.12). More than a dozen countries, including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that they will boycott Durban IV, slated to take place this week in New York City. The Irish government has not made any official statement on whether or not it plans to attend the event. The Ireland Israel Alliance has launched a campaign urging supporters to write to Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to boycott the upcoming commemoration. “I do not hold out much hope that Ireland will boycott Durban IV. The foreign policy of successive Irish governments spearheaded by Simon Coveney has been one of cuddling up to the Iranians, whilst targeting Israel for condemnation and sanction at every opportunity,” wrote Goodall. “Perhaps, Durban IV fits nicely with Ireland’s foreign policy: singling out one state (Israel) for vitriol and applying standards of conduct to Israel’s self-defense which have no root in law or logic.”
Report: Iran a month away from creating nuclear bomb (JNS) Iran may be within a month of attaining its first nuclear weapon, according to a report issued by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) on Monday, Sept. 13. According to the report, which was based on data recently published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one month is the “worst-case breakout estimate,” and the Islamic Republic would be able to produce a “significant quantity” of weapons-grade uranium within three months after that. ISIS, founded in 1993 by former IAEA nuclear inspector David Albright, who still heads the organization, “is a non-profit, nonpartisan institution dedicated to informing the public about science and policy issues affecting international security,” according to its website. As of Aug. 30, Iran had produced 10 kilograms of uranium enriched to near 60 percent, according to ISIS. Forty kilograms of 60 percent enriched uranium is roughly sufficient to produce one nuclear device, according to the report. The report also notes that the pace at which Iran can enrich uranium has accelerated. The report is based on data from the IAEA’s quarterly safeguards report for Sept. 7, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency’s first update on Iran’s uranium enrichment program since June 24. Referring to Tehran’s recent decision to allow the IAEA to service monitoring equipment at the country’s nuclear facilities, the institute said the decision “appears to be intended to ward off a resolution” at the IAEA
Board of Governors meeting (Sept. 13-17). Such a resolution, according to the report, “is long overdue because of Iran’s other major, long-standing incomplete declarations, safeguards violations, and other types of noncooperation that the IAEA reports have detailed.”
Al-Qaeda chief warns ‘Jerusalem will not be Judaized’ (Israel Hayom via JNS) In a video marking 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri attacked Arab countries for “collaborating” with the United States, calling them “Zionist Arabs.” Al-Zawahiri also vowed that “Jerusalem will not be Judaized.” The video was posted to the website of the U.S. NGO SITE Intelligence Group. Al-Zawahiri named Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as the chief “collaborators.” Al-Zawahiri took command of the terrorist organization following the assassination of its longtime leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. Rumors of al-Zawahiri’s death have circulated for years, and the assessment in the West is that this video is not proof he is still alive, as he makes no mention it of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
California lawmakers approve revised version of ethnic studies curriculum (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Jewish lawmakers critical of early drafts of an ethnic studies curriculum said they were satisfied with a version of the curriculum that cleared both houses of the California Legislature two weeks ago. The bill mandating ethnic studies would make the state the first in the nation to require the course, which examines race and ethnicity with a focus on people of color. The liberal California Legislative Jewish Caucus had criticized the original model of the curriculum, introduced in 2019, saying it carried an “anti-Jewish bias.” They and others charged it painted Israel in a negative light, barely mentioned antisemitism and included a rap lyric that they said contained an antisemitic trope. Assembly member Jose Medina, the author of the bill to mandate ethnic studies and a staunch supporter of the discipline, also signed a letter condemning the draft (Medina is one of a handful of non-Jewish members of the Jewish Caucus). Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the time that the measure as drafted would “never see the light of day,” and the model was revised. The revised version of the curriculum, which was approved by the state Board of Education in March, includes two lessons on Jews in California — one on American Jewish identity and another on the experience of Mizrahi Jews, or Jews from the Middle East. It also removed the sections deemed anti-
Israel and antisemitic. In a joint statement Wednesday, the Jewish caucus expressed its “sincere hope” that the revised Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum would benefit students across the state, pointing to “guardrail” language that it helped insert into the legislation in order to ease the worries of Jewish groups. That language prohibits discrimination in ethnic studies courses based on religion and nationality — including against Israelis — and prohibits the use of the original draft. Despite the guardrails, however, a handful of the original drafters of the 2019 curriculum began working directly with school districts to implement ethnic studies courses independent of the statewide version. The model curriculum is expected to be used as a blueprint in schools across the state, but while California “encourages” its use, the legislation also allows districts to use existing curricula or, if they choose, to adopt a “locally developed” course approved by the school board. The bill now heads to Newsom’s desk. Although the revised curriculum satisfied some Jewish organizations, others remain fiercely opposed to the bill. In a statement last Thursday, the antisemitism watchdog Amcha Initiative denounced its passage and urged a veto by the governor, arguing it does not do nearly enough to prevent “overtly antisemitic” and anti-Zionist content from being taught in classrooms. The debate over ethnic studies in California has become a flashpoint in the larger national debate over what schools should teach about history and racism in the United States. Supporters say that ethnic studies can paint a more complete and inclusive picture of the experiences of the state’s diverse populations. Opponents charge that such programs teach a version of critical race theory, a legal and educational framework that says racism is built into the country’s institutions, that heightens tension between races and amounts to progressive indoctrination. Jewish critics of the ethnic studies curriculum see it as a foothold for marginalizing Jews and demonizing Israel. David Bernstein, founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, said in a statement, “We have been warning the Jewish community that critical race ideology will continue to give rise to antisemitism and antiIsraelism.”
SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
FESTIVAL OF HATE
20 years ago, the UN Durban Conference aimed to combat racism. Instead, it came to epitomize antisemitism. BY RON KAMPEAS
(JTA) — Some of the Jewish organizational officials flying into the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, on the last week of August 2001 were excited. They believed the U.N.’s anti-racism conference there would be an opportunity to exchange notes on a cause that the Jewish world had worked on for decades. Others, steeped in how the United Nations and its affiliates functioned, were wary of some of the players, who were known for tirelessly steering every international conference to complaints about Israel. Still others who had been tracking preparations for the gathering knew that Iran, Israel’s implacable enemy, was planning to take over the proceedings. But no one was prepared for what it became — a carnival of antisemitic expression that drove Jewish participants to tears each night and had them fearing for their physical safety. “It was worse than I had imagined,” recalled Irwin Cotler, a longtime Jewish human rights lawyer in Canada who would go on to be his nation’s justice minister. “Because it was a festival of hate.” As is conventional at U.N. forums, the governmental conference, which ran Sept. 2-9, was preceded by the nongovernmental organization conference Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Both would be overshadowed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the NGO conference, say the Jewish participants who attended, was a template for the next 20 years of anti-Israel rhetoric, codifying the argument now increasingly prevalent on the left that Israel is an apartheid state deserving of isolation. It was also an eye opener for many in terms of how criticism of Israel, however legitimate, can be co-opted by an antisemitic agenda. The failure of the human rights organizations present to come to the defense of the Jewish participants, who walked out to jeers and threats, created a rift that persists until today. This week, Durban IV is slated to take place in New York City. To date, however, more than a dozen countries, including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that they will boycott this year’s international conference, which which has been dubbed “the festival 12
of Jew-hate.” Just what did take place at the inaugural conference in 2001? The Jewish Telegraphic Agency spoke to nine Jewish officials who were there, including Cotler, who was then a member of the Canadian parliament. The others are: — Stacy Burdett, then the associate government relations director at the AntiDefamation League; — Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; — Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; — Richard Heideman, then the president of B’nai B’rith International; — Phyllis Heideman, his wife, who had attended a number of U.N. conferences as a delegate of B’nai B’rith; — David Killion, then the chief of staff to Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, who headed the U.S. delegation to the governmental conference; — Eduardo Kohn, the B’nai B’rith International director of Latin American Affairs; — A top Jewish organizational official at the time who is now in a job where she is not permitted to speak on the record.
There was a “little bit of naivete” heading into the conference Cotler: “In 1997, when it was first announced that there was going to be a world conference against racism in South Africa in 2001, I greeted it with anticipation, if not excitement, because this was going to be the first world conference against racism in the 21st century, and I felt that it would give underrepresented groups a voice and a presence. Second, it was going to be the first international human rights conference of the 21st century. Human rights had emerged as a new secular religion of our times, and this conference would be as timely as it would be significant. And third thing is, it was taking place in Durban, South Africa. I not only had a longtime involvement in the anti-apartheid movement but actually had been arrested.” Burdett: “I was born in 1964, so for Americans of my age, it was like the
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DURBAN UN (SHUTTERSTOCK)
antisemitism was over, right? So there was this aspect of, in preparing for Durban, my focus was trying to make sure ADL got a good spot for doing events on our antiracism trainings. So there was a little bit of naivete going into it.” Richard Heideman: “In 1985, there was a U.N. conference to assess and appraise the status of women that was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Phyllis was designated as a delegate by B’nai B’rith International, which is the oldest Jewish organization with standing at the U.N. When we arrived in Nairobi we found at the NGO forum and at the U.N. conference itself terrible hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.” The 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism permeated the Nairobi conference. In 1991, years of Jewish organizational advocacy and U.S. diplomacy brought about the revocation of the resolution, fueling hope that Israel would not be a focus at Durban. Gaer: “We had a secretary-general who, for the first time in the history of the U.N., actually used the word ‘Holocaust,’ who was married to the niece of one of the great Holocaust-era heroes. [Kofi Annan, who was instrumental in the establishment of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was married to Nane Lagergren, whose uncle was Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat whose actions saved thousands of
Hungarian Jews.] And we had expectations that a world conference on racism could not only address the scourge of racism, which we have seen in such ugly ways in the former Yugoslavia, the Bosnia conflict and in Rwanda, but that could also address race issues in individual countries. Those of us who were engaged in Jewish organizations also felt this was an opportunity in which we could talk about combating antisemitism as one of a whole variety of forms of intolerance and racial discrimination and racism that needed to be eradicated.”
Iran and a striking image set the stage In retrospect, there were signs that there were actors intent on making Israel a focus of the conference. The main conference was preceded in late 2000 and early 2001 by regional conferences. The final regional conference, for Asian countries, took place in Tehran in February 2001. Iran refused to allow Israelis and Jewish organizations to attend. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another Jewish organization accredited at the United Nations, asked the U.N. human rights commissioner — Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who was organizing the conference — to move the jewishledger.com
venue to another Asian country. Robinson declined but pledged that she would make the Iranians allow Jewish and Israeli representatives to attend. Cooper: “Mary Robinson promised us up the wazoo, ‘You guys have every right to attend the meeting in Tehran.’ But we didn’t get the right to go until after the last planes from Paris and New York left for Tehran so that it would be impossible for us to reach there. And that’s where a lot of the stuff was cooked.” Whereas Jewish and Israeli delegates could influence summary statements at regional preparatory conferences in Africa, Latin America and Europe, Iran’s maneuver meant that the Asian summary document amounted to an indictment of Israel. It accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” of implementing “a new kind of Apartheid” and “a crime against humanity,” and said Zionism was “based on race superiority.” Much of the Iraninfluenced document became a template for the NGO declaration at the Durban conference. Cotler: “There was a six-point indictment of Israel at the regional conference in Tehran, one of the most scurrilous indictments of Israel since the end of the Second World War.” The Second Intifada had been underway for almost a year by the time the conference started, and one of its most striking images, caught on video, persisted: The Sept. 30, 2000 killing of Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian caught in the crossfire during a battle between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Images of al-Durrah proliferated at the
conference, including on T-shirts. “Killed on September 30 2000, for being Palestinian,” a T-shirt said on one side. On the other side it read “Occupation = Colonialism = Racism. End Israeli apartheid.” Richard Heideman: “What we faced was phenomenal in terms of the visible expression of hatred, not just placards but photographs, and talking about Jews and Israelis as murderers.” Burdett: “There was an NGO kind of infrastructure managing this [on the South African end], a South African NGO that received large grants from the U.N. [SANGOCO, a coalition of South African NGOs]. And even before Durban started they did a mission for NGOs for the West Bank, so there was a lot of writing on the wall.”
“I saw grown men crying, weeping.” Not long after they landed, the conferencegoers noticed a ubiquitous flyer with a picture of Adolf Hitler. “WHAT IF I HAD WON?’ it asked. “The good things: There would be no Israel and no Palestinian’s [sic] bloodshed. The bad things: I wouldn’t have allowed the making of the new Beetle. THE REST IS YOUR GUESS.” The Arab Lawyers Union also distributed pamphlets filled with caricatures of hook-nosed Jews depicted as Nazis spearing Palestinian children, dripping blood from their fangs, with missiles bulging from their eyes or with pots of money nearby. Copies of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a notorious antisemitic text, were available. Calls to the organizers
to remove the materials went unheeded. The confrontational imagery was reflected in personal encounters. Protesters surrounded Jewish students who set up a stand near the press tent and screamed at them. Kohn: “We couldn’t speak out in the meetings because in the moment we started speaking — any Jewish delegation — the shouts of ‘You kill the Palestinians, you’re like the Nazis you’re a racist, apartheid’ and whatever — it made us impossible to speak out.” Cooper: “The Lawyers Guild from Egypt did political cartoons that literally would have belonged in Der Sturmer. Our attempts to get them removed were basically laughed at. So we called a press conference. At that press conference, before we started, a phalanx of Iranian women in black rush the press conference and try to push over the shtender [podium] and try to kill the press conference. They were eventually physically removed. So the physical intimidation was there.” Kohn: “There was a Uruguayan minister [Education Minister Antonio Mercader] who came up to me and said it was risky, we need protection. I mean it was unbelievable. We were at a U.N. conference.” On Friday, Aug. 31, the Jewish delegation learned that South African unions were staging a massive proPalestinian demonstration at the conference grounds, the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium. Security officials warned Jewish participants to stay away. Cooper: “I was approached by the chief of police of Durban and told the following: ‘Rabbi, please, I’m asking you, do not try
THEN-IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD CALLED ISRAEL “RACIST” AT THE 2009 DURBAN CONFERENCE. HE IS PICTURED HERE WITH ALI REZA, THE HEAD OF IRAN’S MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
to go from here to the Jewish community center today.’ ‘Why not? It’s like 2 1/2 blocks away.’ He said, ‘We cannot guarantee your safety.’ And just then when we looked out — we went up higher [in the stadium] — 20,000 people have been brought in by train by the trade unions in order to do Israel apartheid protests, in which the famous picture of the banner ‘Hitler was right’ was hoisted. They were giving out free copies of the ‘Protocols of Zion.’” Burdett: “We had put out an SMS to everyone’s cellphone, ‘Do not go near that demonstration’ because our information is that it’s going to be heavily laced with and motivated by antisemitism and that we should not be visible. They were carrying signs and wearing T-shirts that said ‘Apartheid Israel.’ Someone had gone to the townships and just distributed T-shirts to people who just could use a shirt to wear. And so that street demonstration was just filled with people wearing freshly minted anti-Israel T-shirts. And so the effort to make Israel such a prominent issue at this conference was very organized.” Cooper: “The one lifeline for the Jewish groups was the Jewish community center of Durban. That was the place we came at night to lick our wounds, where I saw grown men crying, weeping. It was that bad.”
The walkout On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 1, the conference-goers convened to work out the final text of the NGO declaration. It was a chaotic scene, but the steering committee achieved a modicum of order by allowing each group to propose an amendment that defined the discrimination they suffer. That prompted the Jewish delegation to propose an amendment that pushed back against the conference’s anti-Zionism and referenced the spike in worldwide antisemitism after the start of the Second Intifada. It said: “We are concerned with the prevalence of anti-Zionism and attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of antisemitism, leading to the firebombing of synagogues, armed assaults against Jews, incitement to killing and the murder of innocent Jews for their support for the existence of the State of Israel, the assertion of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people and the attempts through the State of Israel to preserve their cultural and religious identity.” The conference overwhelmingly rejected the amendment, with only delegations from Central Europe and the Roma joining the Jewish delegation in favoring its inclusion. That was a breaking point. The entire Jewish delegation rose to leave, and the crowd erupted in shouts and threats. Kohn: “While we were walking we
SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
THEN-ALGERIAN PRESIDENT ABDELAZIZZ BOUTEFLIKA ADDRESSES THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS’ DURBAN CONFERENCE IN DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, SEPT. 1, 2001. (ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
received very, very, very rude insults, antisemitic insults and the threats of being attacked, I mean attacked physically, attacks that were averted by the guards of the conference, I mean, if we didn’t have the protection of the guards …”
The repercussions The George W. Bush administration sent a delegation to the government portion of the conference led by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the ranking member on the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee. (Lantos died in 2008.) At the behest of the Bush administration, Lantos led a walkout from the conference on Sept. 3. In an influential account of the Durban conferences published in 2002 in the journal of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of International Affairs, Lantos laid out the reasons for the walkout, chief among them Mary Robinson’s insistence on including in the governmental declaration mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the only such conflict singled out for mention. He also cited the NGO conference debacle leading into the governmental conference as a spur. In three hard-hitting paragraphs Lantos, who had saintly status among Jewish groups, forever changed how those groups related to human rights NGOs. “NGOs can’t always be counted on to promote liberal values,” the lawmaker wrote. “The leaders of the great Western human rights NGOs like Human Rights Watch, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and Amnesty International 14
participated in the NGO Forum in Durban. Shockingly, they did almost nothing to denounce the activities of the radicals in their midst. They made no statements protesting the debasement of human rights mechanisms and terms taking place in front of their eyes and they offered no support to the principled position that the Bush administration took against the singling out of Israel and Jews for attack and criticism at the conference.” The NGOs objected to the Fletcher journal in a letter, saying they had spoken out in a press conference and that Lantos ignored the accomplishments of the conference: Elevating the international discussion about the legacies of slavery, and shining a light on oppressed communities that had not been receiving attention, including the Roma and the Dalit. But the tone was set. Killion: “Tom Lantos was a very tactical and strategic guy. I mean, he was upset at their behavior. And calling it out, making it public, he would have hoped that it would, you know, be a productive thing to drop this bomb, and unsteady them and create some thought and maybe some change.” Former Jewish organizational leader: “Tom Lantos, a lot of what he said was spot-on. But the characterizations of the NGOs was actually wrong. Your head was in the conference you saw, and it might have taken a couple of hours to hear what’s going on in the other places. But then [Lantos’ account] becomes the narrative and the history, and at that time and over the past two decades, where the Jewish community should have doubled down on community relations, they walked away.
| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
Lesson learned in terms of who writes the narrative: Lantos wrote a narrative that trashed some of the partners the Jewish community should have been spending the last 20 years working with. And I think that’s an unfortunate piece.” Burdett: “It was a watershed moment that had two different parts of the Jewish community with two divergent takeaways and responses. And that divergence still animates a divide on how the Jewish community responds to antisemitism in progressive movements. A big group of people saw Durban as a warning that antisemitism never goes away, we can’t rely on others. And then a second group of people saw Durban as a warning that we have a lot of work to do to reestablish antisemitism as a human rights violation, that we have a real challenge with how to situate Jews in the civil rights and racial justice movement, because a majority of Jews still today consider that movement their moral and ideological home. So Durban forced these tough questions that we’re dealing with 20 years later.” The NGO declaration, finalized after the Jewish delegates left, called Israel a “racist nation,” pushed for reinstating the equation of Zionism with racism and accused Israel of genocide. Robinson, the U.N. human rights commissioner, decried the language and refused to formally hand the voluminous final declaration to the governments as their conference began, which was unprecedented. Cooper: ”The final document that was voted on after we left was so bad that Mary Robinson herself rejected it and never gave it over to the U.N. countries. It sank Mary
Robinson.” [Robinson had hoped to become the first female U.N. secretary-general, but those ambitions were scuttled largely because of the Durban debacle.] The final document created a narrative about Israel that has now been mainstreamed on the left. Cooper: “The resurrection of ‘Zionism is racism,’ everything we’re struggling with today, that script was written and finalized under the supervision of 3,600 NGOs. There’s no BDS [the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel] movement without the building blocks of demonization of Israel in the global scheme of things at Durban. The narrative we’re all struggling with today was written back then.” Cotler: “The indictment of Israel as an apartheid state was born in Durban. It was triggered in Durban. Durban became the tipping point for the demonological antisemitism that we see today, where Israel is blamed for all the evils of the world, that Israel and the Jewish people are the enemy of good, the embodiment of all those evils. My wife always says I came back from Durban transformed.” Burdett: “This was an anti-Israel message that had no guardrails. It went right to Jewish control, and there were no guardrails.” Gaer: “The Durban conference was definitely a turning point for many, particularly for a certain generation of Jewish leaders. And also because it was the most visible display of antisemitic behavior … trying to normalize this kind of behavior has made it something that you have to address, speak out about.”
Then came 9/11 Former Jewish organizational leader: “There were some headlines on the ninth, Sept. 9, 2001. And it had to do with the guy who paid for one of the worst posters, ‘What if I had won,’ and it’s a picture of Hitler. Basically it was someone who worked for bin Laden, and I’d never heard of bin Laden before Sept. 9.” [Yousuf Deedat, who printed the flyers, told newspapers that the bin Laden family was a major donor to his organization, the Islamic Propagation Center.] Cotler: “I arrived in Montreal on September the 10th that evening, and woke up in the morning to 9/11. I spoke to a colleague and she said to me 9/11 was now the Kristallnacht of terror and Durban was the ‘Mein Kampf.’ Those of us who were at Durban would have understood that statement because it was the blueprint, the tipping point, the trigger for the oldnew global antisemitism that we’re now experiencing.” Gaer: “Durban … has become a cultural landmark and political landmark.”
Chol Hamoed Sukkot
BY SHLOMO RISKIN
his magnificent three-week festival period – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot – may be viewed and experienced in two dimensions simultaneously; the universalist, nationalist dimension, and the particularistic, individual – family dimension. Rosh Hashanah is the day of which the world was born, when the truah sound of the shofar cries out against the tragedies and injustices of an imperfect world and the sharp, joyous tekiyah sound reminds us of our responsibility – and ability – to help perfect the world in the Kingship of G-d by conveying the moral message of ethical monotheism, a G-d who demands justice, compassion and peace. On Yom Kippur the Almighty declares His readiness to forgive the nation Israel of its great sins – the idolatrous golden calf, the faithless cowardice of the scouts with the vision of our Holy Temple reaching out to all of humanity, “For My house is a House of Prayer for all nations”. (Isaiah 56: 7) Sukkot is the climax of the season, taking us out of our egocentric, partisan lives and ordaining that we surround ourselves with fruits of the Land of Israel living beneath a roof of vegetation through whose spaces we look up at the stars. Seventy bullocks were sacrificed in the Holy Temple during the Sukkot Festival symbolizing the 70 nations of the world. Finally, Shemini Atzeret announces the onset of the rainy season: rain is after all a gift of G-d to the world. Shemini Atzeret moves into the uninhibited joy of Simchat Torah – the Rejoicing of the Law, when all Torah Scrolls are taken out of the Holy Ark and become the focus of frenzied dancing not only in the synagogues but also outside, in the streets – the public domain to imbue the world with its message of “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” However, Judaism understands only too well that one dare not focus on humanity without concentrating on individuals. One cannot be a concerned universalist without hearing the cries of one’s next door neighbor. Yes, it is the Jewish mission to convey the message of ethical monotheism to a world. The people of the covenant must perfect the world in the Kingship of our G-d of justice, compassion and peace. But first we must perfect ourselves: our nation, our community, our family, and ourselves. A disciple once approached Rabbi
Yisrael Salanter, (1800-1870) founder of the Ethicist (Mussar) Movement in Judaism, seeking permission to spread the ethical and moral message of the Master to Germany and Austria. The rabbi responded: “And is the City of Salant so imbued with my teachings that you can afford to leave Lithuania? And is the street on which you live so morally inspired that you can teach in another community? And is your own family so careful in their conduct that you can preach to other families? And what about you, my beloved disciple? Are you on such a high level of ethical integrity that no one could criticize you? And so Rosh Hashanah ushers in a 10-day period of repentance and introspection when we must be mindful of the need to perfect the world, but we must first attempt to perfect ourselves. It is the day on which the world was born, but also the “day of judgment,” when everyone passes before the Almighty to be evaluated, when each of us must judge ourselves from the perspective of Divine standards. Yom Kippur is first and foremost a day in which the individual stands in isolation from the world in the presence of the Divine. Each of us rids ourselves of all materialistic encumbrances, separates ourselves from physical needs and blandishments, enters a no-man’s land between heaven and earth, between life and death, and in effect feels what it’s like to mourn for oneself asking what legacy would I leave were I to be taken from the world today? Then comes Sukkot. For one week go back to basics. Spend seven days with your family in a simple hut. Remember that “when familial love is strong, a couple can sleep on the edge of a sword; but when familial love has gone sour, a bed of sixty miles does not provide sufficient room” (B.T. Sanhedrin 7a). Forget the televisions and videos; bring the special guests of the Bible into your simple but significant space, commune with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Lea, Miriam, Deborah and Ruth. Introduce them to your children, and sing and speak and share together. Remember – and communicate – that important is values not venues, content not coverings, inner emotions and not external appearances. And let the sukkah lead you to Simhat Torah to the love and joy of Torah, which will help form the kind of individuals and families who can build communities and ultimately change the world.
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| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
THE KOSHER CROSSWORD SEPT. 24, 2021
“Consider Yourself Fortunate”
By: Yoni Glatt
Difficulty Level: Challenging
Vol. 93 No. 39 JHL Ledger LLC Publisher Henry M. Zachs Managing Partner
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ANSWERS TO SEPT. 17 CROSSWORD
Across 1. Inspiration for some 5. Like the ark in a synagogue, most of the time 9. Former All-Star teammate of James 13. Opposed one 14. Big name in hockey equipment 15. Give kudos 16. “Be thankful”...or a hint to this puzzle’s theme, with 57-Across 18. Israeli packaged food company 19. “Free ___” (2021 film) 20. Challah 22. Bills quarterback Josh 25. Neato
26. Pickles 30. Tech folk, stereotypically 34. Ding’s partner in Jewish music 35. George’s musical brother 36. Gelt, perhaps 37. Most common resource in crosswords 38. Dates 40. “Shalom” 41. Eastern version “Middah k’neged middah” 43. Fire proof? 44. Like a puppy 45. Northeast Indian state 46. Brisket 48. Wyoming’s Hole equivalent
of LGA 50. “Good Night” girl of song 51. Babka 55. “___ be nice” 56. Middle East royal 57. See 16-Across 62. Fundraiser bag 63. “...an ___ soul shall suffer hunger” (Prov. 19:15) 64. One of two that made Messi millions 65. Like the Negev 66. Notable canal 67. Total of this puzzle’s theme?
Down 1. Big ___: treif fast-food staple 2. It’s next to nada 3. Man’s nickname that’s an alphabetic run 4. Where you might spot an ibex in Israel 5. Vodka option 6. “Boo” follower 7. “Nah” 8. Source for saying Grace After Meals 9. Kind of reel 10. Beer brewer’s buy 11. Notable canal 12. Kind of cord 17. Steak choice 21. Actor Christopher ___-Plasse
22. Anakin (Skywalker’s) Padawan 23. Bush and Linney 24. NBA bubble champs 27. POW, maybe 28. Geometry findings 29. “Mi ___ hechafetz chaim...” 31. Censure 32. The Wright brothers’ Ohio home 33. Remington of ‘80s TV 38. Descendant of Agag 39. Sentence starter, often 42. Learned extensively 44. Capital of Wales 47. They produce runs 49. Actress Smulders of “The Avengers”
51. Like a film within a film 52. Parsha with laws pertaining to kohanim 53. Pasta option 54. “I just skimmed it, tbh” 55. “Gotcha” 58. A prophet and a kohen 59. A good team has it? 60. Schwarzenegger, formerly: Abbr. 61. ___ Rose du Lac, Manitoba
SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
POLITICS Effort to recall California’s governor fails, but scrutiny on Dianne Feinstein could be lasting effect BY PHILISSA CRAMER
(JTA) — Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom easily survived a recall election Tuesday, putting to end the possibility that a right-wing Republican could take over as the state’s top executive. But one effect of the bruising political fight appears likely to endure: scrutiny over whether America’s first Jewish woman senator is still fit to serve. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s name was not on the ballot, but in some ways the election was about who should replace her. Feinstein is 88 and, according to some reports, increasingly infirm. Her current term extends until 2024, but if she is unable to complete it, the state’s governor would pick her replacement. That made the recall mechanism an attractive tool for Republicans who would like to see the currently divided Senate swing to Republican control. California law gives citizens the right to recall their governors — and mandates that if a majority of voters back recall, the top votegetter in a simultaneous election is the replacement. There were dozens of candidates on the ballot Tuesday, but many Republicans threw their efforts behind Larry Elder, a talk radio host who backs former President Donald Trump. He is far more conservative than any of the Republican governors California voters have elected in the past, and the election was seen as an indicator of how responsive Californians are to Trumpstyle politicians. Elder received nearly half of the votes counted by Wednesday morning, far more than any other candidate, but his campaign was rendered moot when it became clear that Democrats throughout the state had turned out in droves to block the recall effort. Only about a third of voters are projected to have supported the recall. The result removes any risk that Democrats might pressure Feinstein to step down immediately, as might have been the case if Newsom had been recalled and given only 30 more days in office. Still, the episode made prominent the stakes around persistent questions about her ability to continue to serve, which grew last year when she made a series of missteps during high-profile hearings about regulating social media companies and confirming a Supreme Court justice. Even some of her friends and former staffers say her shortterm memory has grown so poor that she cannot effectively do her job, according to a 2020 article in the New Yorker. Feinstein — who was born in San Francisco as the granddaughter of Jewish 18
immigrants from Eastern Europe and, like Newsom, a former mayor of that city — is hardly the oldest senator to serve. That distinction went to Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was 100 when he completed his final term in 2003. (He died six months later.) But Feinstein became the country’s first Jewish woman to serve in the Senate in 1992, when she filled a vacancy immediately after she was elected. (Barbara Boxer, also from California and victorious in the same election, became the second Jewish woman in the Senate weeks later, when her term began on the regular schedule.) Feinstein’s
Naftali Bennett made the Time 100 list. It’s because of ‘courage,’ his ArabIsraeli coalition partner writes. BY RON KAMPEAS
(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and his Arab-Israeli coalition partner Mansour Abbas thinks he knows why. “It all comes down to courage,” Abbas, the leader of the first Arab party to join an Israeli governing coalition, writes in the accompanying blurb explaining why his political opposite was recognized on the list published Wednesday. “After four elections in two years, a
| SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
current term goes through 2024, when she would be 91. After last fall’s elections, Feinstein stepped down as the top Democrat on the prestigious Senate Judiciary Committee, in part for the criticism she received in her party for her handling of the Justice Amy Coney Barrett hearings. Boxer nudged Feinstein to consider retirement in Los Angeles Times interview earlier this month. “If Sen. Feinstein were to call me today and asked my advice, I would say only you can decide,” she said. “But from my perspective, I want you to know I’ve had bold act was needed to unite a country frayed by political stalemate and brought to a desperate standstill. Something dramatic needed to change, but more importantly, someone courageous needed to make that change.” Abbas and Bennett agree on little ideologically. Abbas leads the United Arab List, a party that champions Palestinian self-determination, while Bennett comes from Israel’s right wing and has pledged that a Palestinian state will not arise on his watch. But they coalesced around the goal of removing Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who they saw as divisive and corrupt. Arab parties have been part of coalition negotiations previously, and for a period in the 1990s supported a government from outside the coalition. But, Abbas notes, those negotiations always were conducted behind closed doors. “I don’t do things in the dark,” Abbas quotes Bennett as telling him when Bennett surprised him by opening their NAFTALI BENNETT, LEFT, CHATS WITH MANSOUR ABBAS DURING A SPECIAL SESSION TO VOTE ON A NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AT THE KNESSET IN JERUSALEM, JUNE 13, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND /AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN MAKES HER WAY TO THE SENATE CHAMBER, AUG. 10, 2021. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
very productive years away from the Senate doing good things. So put that into the equation.” coalition talks to the media. Bennett is under Time’s “Leaders” category. Other Jewish figures in that category are Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control who has become a public figure during the coronavirus pandemic, and Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff. Julie Gerberding, who served as President George W. Bush’s CDC director, wrote the Walensky appraisal, and Hillary Clinton wrote the appraisal of Klain. The “Artists” category features actress Scarlett Johansson, appraised by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who says that watching Johansson playing her mother, Janet Leigh, in a movie about “Psycho” director Alfred Hitchcock, she forgot for a moment that she was watching a performance. Curtis, like Johansson, is the product of a marriage that has Jewish and Danish roots. Also on the Time list, in the “Icons” category, are brother and sister Palestinian activists Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd, who focused international attention this spring on efforts to evict Palestinians who have lived in their eastern Jerusalem home for decades. Biden also made the list, and his blurb was written by Bernie Sanders, the Jewish Vermont senator who is the de facto leader of progressives. Sanders emerged last year as Biden’s most serious rival in the Democratic presidential primaries. “Joe Biden and I have strong disagreements, but it must be acknowledged that he is the first President in a very long time who is attempting to address the fundamental crises facing our nation,” Sanders said, referring to the pandemic and its repercussions to the economy, racial tension, climate change and the growth of the authoritarian right. jewishledger.com
WHAT’S HAPPENING Jewish organizations are invited to submit their upcoming events to the our What’s Happening section. Events are placed on the Ledger website on Tuesday afternoons. Deadline for submission of calendar items is the previous Tuesday. Send items to: judiej@ jewishledger.com.
examine the complex history of the Babyn Yar ravine wherefore than 33,000 Jews were shot by units of the German SS and police. The virtual Holocaust education workshop will be held Sept. 23, 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the Herman & Gertrude Sheppard Fund for Holocaust Education. Register at: REGISTER HERE: https:// us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErd2rqzgqG93NytxbVWL3zTjcVtWaPXFZ
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 22 Literature and Life Award winning novelist and short story writer Nicole Krauss will deliver the Diane Feigenson Lecture in Jewish Literature as part of the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies Fall 2021 Lecture Series. The author of Great House (2010), Forest Dark (2017), and To Be A Man (2020), Kraus will speak on the topic of “Here and There: The Parallel Worlds of Literature and Life.” The free Zoom webinar will be held on Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. All fall lectures and events will be virtual webinars, free and open to the public. Online registration is required for each event. Spring lectures will be in-person, with some events live streaming via Zoom. The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies will follow Fairfield University regulations regarding in-person events and gatherings. For more information, contact Jennifer Haynos at email@example.com or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066. Sukkah Crawl Young Israel of West Hartford presents their 2nd Annual Sukkah Crawl, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. With d’var Torahs and drinks. Location to be announced. Delusions of Grandeur in Concert JCC in Sherman will host an outdoor concert by Delusions of Grandeur, featuring Vlues, Classic Rock and original material. The band self-produced a live CD, “Live & Kickin’,” in 2019, recorded at the Love is Louder Festival in Branford. Bring a face mask (regardless of vaccination status) and a chair! In case on inclement weather, the concert will be held indoors. Reservations required. Tickets: $20/members, $25/ non-members and will be required to be purchased online prior to the event. For information: jccinsherman.org.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 The Shifting Sands of Babyn War: Analyzing the Evidence and Incorporating Jewish Responses On the 80th anniversary of the massacre, Dr. Martin Dean, researcher of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial enter, will jewishledger.com
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 Mandell JCC dedicates President’s Courtyard and Tribute Wall Past presidents of the Mandell JCC (previously known as the Greater Hartford Jewish Center), dating back to the early 20th century, will be honored on Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. at The Dedication of the President’s Courtyard and the President’s Tribute Wall. For more information, visit mandelljcc.0rg.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5 Opening Night of the exhibit “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many | Hartford Seminary and Mandell JCC, in partnership with Episcopal Church in Connecticut, First Church West Hartford and John P. Webster Library will host the final exhibition of “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many,” October 5 – November 16, 2021. Curated by CARAVAN, an international peacebuilding arts non-profit, “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many” is an exhibition that originally premiered in Rome, Italy in 2019 and has since traveled throughout Europe and the United States, with the final stop of its global two-year tour in West Hartford. For more information, visit mandell.org.
SEPTEMBER 22 – OCTOBER 30 by UJA-JCC Greenwich and AuthorsLive. Limited in-person attendance. For more information, visit ujajcc.org. Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert Alicia Jo Rabins, composer, singer, violinist, poet, writer, and Torah teacher performs for Zoom her indie-folk song cycle “Girls in Trouble: Songs about the Complicated Lives of Biblical Women,” on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m., as part of Daniel Pearl Music Days. Concert is free, but registration is required. Sponsored by the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of Fairfield University. For more information, contact Jennifer Haynos at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 2544000, ext. 2066.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10 Walk Against Hate Join ADL and the Connecticut Sun on Oct. 10 on the campus of the Watkinson School at 180 Bloomfield Ave. in West Hartford for a “Walk Against Hate” in-person event. The event will be filled with music, fun, and an opportunity to hear from the Sun’s leadership and others how to move forward as a community toward a future without antisemitism, racism and bigotry. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Check in and registration at 10 am.; event begins at 11 a.m. Register at WalkAgainstHate.org/Connecticut. Those who can’t join the event in person are welcome to register to walk virtually, anytime and anyplace.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13 Jews of the Italian Renaissance
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7 Wildland: An Evening with Author Evan Osnos After a decade abroad, the National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Evan Osnos returns to Greenwich and two other U.S. cities to illuminate the seismic changes in politics and culture that crescendoed during the pandemic. His conversations with local residents in all three places coax out how individual lives entwine with the state of the nation. Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury exposes critical fault lines in the national psyche and envisions what it will take to once again see ourselves as larger than the sum of our parts. Osnos will speak in conversation with Andrew Marantz, staff writer at The New Yorker, on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at The Berkley Theater, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. Hosted
Gabriel Mancuso, PhD, director, The Eugene Grant Research Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe at The Medici Archive
Project, Florence, Italy will deliver a free webinar on the topic, “The Other Dome’ – The Jews of Italian Renaissance Italy, Between Paradigms and Paradoxes,” on Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Sponsored by the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of Fairfield University. For more information, contact Jennifer Haynos at bennettcenter@ fairfield.edu or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 18 Mayoral Candidate Forum in Stamford The United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford and the Jewish Community Relations Council will host a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Moderated by JCRC chair Joshua Esses, the forum will be held at the Stamford JCC, 1035 Newfield Ave., or may be viewed on Zoom (TBD). For more information, email email@example.com. Register at /ujf.regfox. com/mayoral-forum-2. Co-sponsored by the Stamford JCC, Congregation Agudath Sholom, Temple Beth El, Temple Sinai, and Young Israel of Stamford.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30 Rabbi Ethan Tucker to speak in New Haven Rabbi Ethan Tucker will discuss “Navigating Relationships in a World of Difference: How do we proceed when aspects of our Jewish observance create discomfort with family members and friends?” at Congregation Beth El - Keser Israel, 85 Harrison St., at the corner of Whalley Ave. on Oct. 30 at 1 p.m., following Shabbat services and kiddush lunch. Rabbi Tucker is president and Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar, an observant, egalitarian yeshiva. Sabbath rules will be observed. Masks are required.
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OBITUARIES COHEN Joan Simon Cohen, 86, of Farmington, formerly of West Hartford, died August 22. Born in New York City, she was the daughter of the late Madeline and Murray Simon. She is survived by her children, Melissa A. Cohen of Red Hook, N.Y., Gail A. Cohen of Sebastopal, Calif., and Lawrence G. Cohen and his wife Amy of Weston; and her grandchildren, Madeline and Emma Stessman, Caleb and Luc Stone, and Henry and Abby Cohen. She was predeceased by her daughter, Jan S. (Cohen) Stessman. She was a member of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. FRIED Milton Fried z”l, 92, of West Hartford, died on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Tuesday, Sept. 7. He was the widower of Gloria (Crystal) Fried. Born in New York City, he was the son of the late Joseph and Bertha (Gertner) Fried. He was a World War II-era Army veteran. He is survived by his children, Michael KopmanFried and his wife Judy of Cheshire, Robert Fried of Newington, and Barbara Weisel and her husband David of Maryland; his brother-in-law, Herbert Crystal of Florida; and his grandchildren, Sarah Magen and
her husband Jonathan, Joseph KopmanFried and his wife Glenna, Gabriel Weisel and his wife Abby, Ezra Weisel and his wife Melanie, Jonah Weisel and his wife Melissa, and Sam Fried; and his greatgrandchildren, Isaac Weisel, Judah Weisel, Beatrice Magen, and Amalya Weisel; and many nieces and nephews. He was also predeceased by his brother Martin Fried and his wife Marilyn Fried. He was an active member of America, B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom Synagogue in Bloomfield. LIFTIG Sherman “Bud” Liftig, 92, died Sept. 7. He was predeceased by his brother Al Liftig, and his grandson Mason Liftig. He is survived by his children, Beth LiftigDeMarco of Pinellas Park, Fla., Eric Liftig and his wife Josefine of Goteborg, Sweden, and Stephen Liftig of Ft. Myers, Fla.; 5 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. KONOVER Daniel I. Konover, 81, of West Hartford and Avon, formerly of Wilton and Stamford, died Sept. 6. Born in Hartford, he was the son of the late Anna and David Konover. He was also predeceased by his sisters Harriet and Paula Konover. He is survived by his
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Ida Nudel was the face of Jewish persecution in the Soviet Union BY RON KAMPEAS
(JTA) — Ida Nudel, the Russian Jewish refusenik whose 16-year effort to leave the Soviet Union moved figures as diverse as Republican Secretary of State George Schultz and activist actress Jane Fonda, died Tuesday, Sept. 14. Nudel, an accountant, began her activism in the 1970s after her request to emigrate to Israel was turned down. She supported Jews imprisoned for their activism and their families, delivering needed supplies and making representations on their behalf. Soviet authorities twice sent her into exile, once to Siberia and then to Moldova, and she suffered privations. Her short stature — she was 4’11” — and her determination made her one of the most prominent faces of Jewish refusal in the Soviet Union. Women’s groups adopted her cause. Fonda and her then-husband, the activist Tom Hayden, took up her case.
her grandchildren, Lauren and Jason Morganbesser, and Matthew and Chloe Patrone; his step-granddaughter Nathalie Rebolledo, of Los Angeles, Calif. PORTNOY Florence (“Florrie”) Marcus Portnoy, 94, of West Hartford, died Sept. 7.She was the widow of Bruce Portnoy. She is survived by her children, Lisa, Michael and his wife Susan, and Neil; her grandchildren, Olivia, Elizabeth, Andrew (Nicole), and Ben (Rachel); and her great-grandsons, Zach and Gabe. She was a member of Temple Beth El. For more information on placing an obituary, contact: judiej@ jewishledger. Liv Ullmann, the Norwegian actress, played Nudel in a movie. Fonda met with Nudel in the Soviet Union and was in Israel in 1987 when Nudel arrived to a hero’s welcome, flown in on the private jet belonging to Jewish billionaire Armand Hammer. “Her courage and boundless hope inspired me. Ida Nudel has become a role model for me,” Fonda said then. Schultz said his most cherished moment as secretary of state was learning that Nudel, whom he had met in Moscow, was free. “Mr. Secretary, this is Ida Nudel, I’m home,” Shultz quoted her as saying, during Senate testimony in 1988. He said he was moved to tears. Nudel, who never married or had children, was thrilled at first to be in Israel, saying she had all she needed. But Nudel soon soured on Israel’s government, saying it was not doing enough to absorb Jews from the former Soviet Union. And in 2005, in an interview with JTA, she worried that Israel was not Jewish enough; she also had ensconced herself in Israel’s right-wing camp. “I cry in my heart because what we dreamed of is not happening,” she said.
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CT SYNAGOGUE DIRECTORY To join our synagogue directories, contact Howard Meyerowitz at (860) 231-2424 x3035 or email@example.com. BLOOMFIELD B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom/ Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning Conservative Rabbi Debra Cantor (860) 243-3576 office@BTSonline.org www.btsonline.org BRIDGEPORT Congregation B’nai Israel Reform Rabbi Evan Schultz (203) 336-1858 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cbibpt.org Congregation Rodeph Sholom Conservative (203) 334-0159 Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Cantor Niema Hirsch email@example.com www.rodephsholom.com CHESHIRE Temple Beth David Reform Rabbi Micah Ellenson (203) 272-0037 office@TBDCheshire.org www.TBDCheshire.org CHESTER Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Reform Rabbi Marci Bellows (860) 526-8920 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cbsrz.org COLCHESTER Congregation Ahavath Achim Conservative Rabbi Kenneth Alter (860) 537-2809 email@example.com
EAST HARTFORD Temple Beth Tefilah Conservative Rabbi Yisroel Snyder (860) 569-0670 firstname.lastname@example.org FAIRFIELD Congregation Ahavath Achim Orthodox (203) 372-6529 email@example.com www.ahavathachim.org Congregation Beth El, Fairfield Conservative Rabbi Marcelo Kormis (203) 374-5544 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bethelfairfield.org GLASTONBURY Congregation Kol Haverim Reform Rabbi Dr. Kari Tuling (860) 633-3966 email@example.com www.kolhaverim.org GREENWICH Greenwich Reform Synagogue Reform Rabbi Jordie Gerson (203) 629-0018 firstname.lastname@example.org www.grs.org Temple Sholom Conservative Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz Rabbi Kevin Peters (203) 869-7191 email@example.com www.templesholom.com
HAMDEN Congregation Mishkan Israel Reform Rabbi Brian P. Immerman (203) 288-3877 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cmihamden.org Temple Beth Sholom Conservative Rabbi Benjamin Edidin Scolnic (203) 288-7748 email@example.com www.tbshamden.com MADISON Temple Beth Tikvah Reform Rabbi Stacy Offner (203) 245-7028 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tbtshoreline.org MANCHESTER Beth Sholom B’nai Israel Conservative Rabbi Randall Konigsburg (860) 643-9563 Rabbenu@myshul.org email@example.com www.myshul.org MIDDLETOWN Adath Israel Conservative Rabbi Nelly Altenburger (860) 346-4709 firstname.lastname@example.org www.adathisraelct.org NEW HAVEN The Towers at Tower Lane Conservative Ruth Greenblatt, Spiritual Leader Sarah Moskowitz, Spiritual Leader (203) 772-1816 email@example.com www.towerlane.org
Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel Conservative Rabbi Eric Woodward (203) 389-2108 office@BEKI.org www.BEKI.org Orchard Street ShulCongregation Beth Israel Orthodox Rabbi Mendy Hecht 203-776-1468 www.orchardstreetshul.org NEW LONDON Ahavath Chesed Synagogue Orthodox Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg 860-442-3234 Ahavath.firstname.lastname@example.org Congregation Beth El Conservative Rabbi Earl Kideckel (860) 442-0418 email@example.com www.bethel-nl.org NEWINGTON Temple Sinai Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett (860) 561-1055 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sinaict.org NEWTOWN Congregation Adath Israel Conservative Rabbi Barukh Schectman (203) 426-5188 email@example.com www.congadathisrael.org NORWALK Beth Israel Synagogue – Chabad of Westport/ Norwalk Orthodox-Chabad Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht (203) 866-0534 firstname.lastname@example.org bethisraelchabad.org Temple Shalom Reform Rabbi Cantor Shirah Sklar (203) 866-0148 email@example.com www.templeshalomweb.org NORWICH Congregation Brothers of Joseph Modern Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Resnick (781 )201-0377 firstname.lastname@example.org https://brofjo.tripod.com
WALLINGFORD Beth Israel Synagogue Conservative Rabbi Bruce Alpert (203) 269-5983 email@example.com www.bethisraelwallingford.org
Kehilat Chaverim of Greater Hartford Chavurah Adm. - Nancy Malley (860) 951-6877 firstname.lastname@example.org www.kehilatchaverim.org
Congregation Or Shalom Conservative Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus (203) 799-2341 email@example.com www.orshalomct.org
WASHINGTON Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life Rabbi James Greene (860) 868-2434 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jewishlife.org
The Emanuel Synagogue Conservative Rabbi David J. Small (860) 236-1275 email@example.com www.emanuelsynagogue.org
PUTNAM Congregation B’nai Shalom Conservative Rabbi Eliana Falk - Visiting Rabbi (860) 315-5181 firstname.lastname@example.org www.congregationbnaishalom.org
WATERFORD Temple Emanu - El Reform Rabbi Marc Ekstrand Rabbi Emeritus Aaron Rosenberg (860) 443-3005 email@example.com www.tewaterford.org
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SOUTHINGTON Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation Reform Rabbi Alana Wasserman (860) 276-9113 President@gsjc.org www.gsjc.org TRUMBULL Congregation B’nai Torah Conservative Rabbi Colin Brodie (203) 268-6940 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bnaitorahct.org
Congregation P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Shabbat Services Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (860) 561-5905 email@example.com www.jewishrenewalct.org
WESTPORT Temple Israel of Westport Reform Rabbi Michael Friedman, Senior Rabbi Cantor Julia Cadrain, Senior Cantor Rabbi Elana Nemitoff-Bresler, Rabbi Educator Rabbi Zach Plesent, Assistant Rabbi (203) 227-1293 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tiwestport.org WETHERSFIELD Temple Beth Torah Unaffiliated Rabbi Alan Lefkowitz (860) 828-3377 email@example.com templebethtorahwethersfield.org WOODBRIDGE Congregation B’nai Jacob Conservative Rabbi Rona Shapiro (203) 389-2111 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bnaijacob.org
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