Southern New England Jewish Ledger • May 3, 2022 • 2 Iyar 5782

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JEWISH LEDGER May 3, 2022 | 2 Iyar 5782 Vol. 94 | No. 9 | ©2022

Celebrating Israel’s

75 Birthday! th


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Italian Gold

diamonds • gold • jewelry • watches • gifts



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May 3, 2022




MAY 3, 2022 • 2 IYAR 5782

Yom Ha’atzmaut



JEWISH LEDGER May 3, 2022 | 2 Iyar 5782 Vol. 94 | No. 9 | ©2022


Yom Hazikaron


Celebrating Israel’s

75th Birthday! 1

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 3, 2022

This week marks Yom Hazikaron – Israel Memorial Day – which begins the evening of May 3, and Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day, which follows on the evening of May 4.



Around SNE


Arts & Entertainment

27/29 Briefs


5 Mission Accomplished

Leaders from Connecticut’s Jewish Federations set out on an emergency mission to Poland recently, to bring help to Ukrainian refugees crossing the border in search of a safe haven.

In PBS’ gripping series ‘Ridley Road,’ a Jewish woman infiltrates a group of British neo-Nazis.

10 The Ledger Scoreboard Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play ‘Hava Nagila’ after wins?

45 Life Blood

Israel has built the world’s first underground vault to protect emergency blood reserves from potential missile, chemical and biological attacks.

B’Nai Mitzvah





What’s Happening




Torah Portion



May 3, 2022


to back the movement to boycott Israel. Now, in a potent symbol of a changing campus climate on Israel, the editors have penned a full-throated editorial endorsing the BDS movement.

5 Confronting Hate

On Campus

For years, the student newspaper at Harvard University declined

CANDLE LIGHTING SHABBAT FRIDAY, MAY 6 Hartford New Haven: Bridgeport: Stamford:

7:37 p.m. 7:37 p.m. 7:38 p.m. 7:39 p.m.

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WEST HARTFORD IS GOING TO THE DOGS! The painted dogs, that is. And we couldn’t be more excited!

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The brainchild of 20/20 Media, the creative genius behind the spectacular 2021 WeHa Bear Fair – which netted 25,000 visits to the event website and over $20,000 in donations benefitting the selected non-profits – the 2022 Dog Walk promises to brighten West Hartford with a fabulous display of one dozen fiberglass dogs, each one beautifully decorated by a talented artist and sponsored by a local business who will select a nonprofit organization to benefit from proceeds raised. To learn more about how you can help our community by becoming a WeHa Dog Walk sponsor, contact Tom Hickey at or 860.508.4032.

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May 3, 2022





CT Jewish Leaders on the ground on the Ukraine border




ONNECTICUT — When Steven Fleischman went on a Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) mission to Ukraine in the summer of 2018, the group spent most of their time in Kyiv. There, they met with elderly Jews who rely on the Jewish community to provide food and medicine, teens who had started their own Jewish youth group, and kids attending a Jewish summer sleep-away camp and learning more about Judaism, which their families hadn’t been allowed to practice under Soviet rule. All activities supported by Federation dollars. “We had an opportunity to meet with people and talk about life in Ukraine,” says Fleischman, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. “I think that there was a sense that they were emerging from Cold War communism. There was hope; there was joy.” Fast forward to late March

2022, and Fleischman was among a group of more than two-dozen members of the North American Jewish community to go on another mission to aid the Ukrainian people – but this time they never stepped on Ukrainian soil. Led by Mark Wilf, chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees, and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of JFNA, this mission took Jewish leaders to Poland and the Polish border with Ukraine for an in-person look at the deepening refugee crisis spawned by Russia’s catastrophic invasion of its democratic neighbor. “We met with these people dealing with absolute devastation over the loss of their lives. When people ask me about it, I keep coming back to this idea -- imagine you’re in West Hartford and Hartford is being bombed and you need to leave to save your life… These are suburban cities that are being


May 3, 2022


shelled and urban areas where people are running for their lives. It’s just devastating,” Fleischman explains. “But on the flip side, there was this level of appreciation. They couldn’t have thanked us more times for being there when they needed help. On the one hand, they’re crying because their homes are destroyed, and they’re also crying out of pure appreciation for not being left to fend for themselves.” Besides Fleischman, the Connecticut contingent on the Ukraine mission included David Waren, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford; Carolyn Gitlin, national chair of JFNA’s Women’s Philanthropy; Jill Dulitsky, the Hartford Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Chair; Diane Sloyer, CEO of the United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Caanan and Darien; and Amy Holtz, chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of New Haven. The entire group of Jewish leaders first went to Warsaw where they met with Yavoc Livne, Israel’s Ambassador to Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Poland’s Chief Rabbi, and Magda Dorosz, executive director of Hillel Warsaw. These experts outlined the humanitarian crisis and the crucial role that both Israeli organizations and Jewish groups in Poland are playing in caring for the immediate needs of the refugees. Those who have Continued on the next page

Miniseries depicts Jewish movement that took on Britain’s postwar hate groups BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – It sounds like it could be the story of Purim: A Jewish woman uses her sex appeal to enter the upper reaches of a group whose members are hellbent on destroying the Jews. But instead of Esther with King Ahasuerus, imagine her becoming romantically involved with Haman himself — and instead of the Persian Empire, it’s the British Empire, circa 1962. “Ridley Road,” a gripping and provocative four-part miniseries debuting on PBS’s “Masterpiece” on Sunday after airing on the BBC last year, is a fictional story set in the very real world of British neo-Nazis. Led by Colin Jordan, the National Socialist Party enjoyed a postwar resurgence among antisemites and fascist sympathizers in London. After the local Jewish community felt stymied by their efforts to reach out to law enforcement, a group of committed Jews formed the underground antifascist 62 Group, which sent undercover members to infiltrate the neoNazis and shriek about “Zionist scum” while sniffing out their plans to attack local synagogues and funerals. The series imagines how one such undercover operation might have gone, by inventing the character Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey), a Jewish hairdresser Continued on the next page

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documentation of being Jewish are able to make Aliyah, if they wish to do so. At the same time, food, shelter, and other basic necessities are being provided to everyone, regardless of their religion or background. The following day, the group traveled to Lublin, where they visited a yeshiva that was destroyed by the Nazis, and which is now receiving funds from Jewish Federations to take care of the refugees. “At this yeshiva we met a lot of refugees that were just coming in from Ukraine and every need was being met in this refugee center,” says Gitlin. “There were rooms filled with clothes, with a doctor, with medicine, with food, with a playroom and things for children.” In all, the JFNA mission participants arrived with duffels carrying an additional 2000 pounds of supplies. New Haven’s Fleischman and Holtz also brought a supply of medication, food and snacks provided by West Hartford’s

Gayle Temkin, for a Ukrainian family whose child has Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD), a rare genetic liver disorder. They met with the the appreciative family in the lobby of the hotel where they were staying and they all were able to FaceTime with Temkin who was back in Connecticut and whose teenage daughter suffers from the same disease. While in the yeshiva, the group listened to the stories of many of the refugees. “One woman said that she had hidden under her stairs for 17 days while the bombing was going on. Another said that while they were hiding, a friend was bringing water and was killed.” But the story Gitlin was most affected by was that of a single mother named Irina and her teenaged daughter Sofia. “Irina said she was one of the people who was actually preparing before the war broke out. Everyone else was like, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ She packed blankets and documents,” recounts Gitlin. “She had to prepare her daughter and told her, ‘I could

be at work and something could happen, and if it does, this is what you have to do, this is where you need to go…You are 15 and your need to grow up right now because we don’t know what is going to happen.” Eventually they were able to work with one of the Jewish agencies and crossed the border into Poland. After visiting the yeshiva, the Jewish leaders made their way to the Ukrainian border near Krakow, where tens of thousands of refugees are streaming into Poland every day. There, they witnessed them being welcomed and taken care of by Federation’s partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Joint Distribution Committee, as well as by many other relief agencies from around the world. “I remember what really shook me was that it was mostly women and children. You barely saw men because, as you know, men 16 and up had to stay in Ukraine and fight,” Gitlin says. “Everybody who walked through this border looked just drained, scared. There were people and tents and so much activity, and

they were overwhelmed. But you also saw hope and this feeling of ‘we made it.’” “I think for me, one of the most heartwarming parts of the whole experience was how present the Jewish Agency and the JDC were everywhere we went, and it wasn’t because we went to Jewish places,” Fleischman says.“We went to refugee centers that were nonreligious and Hadassah Hospital set up a field clinic there with a physician staff.” Wilf called it a “most humbling experience to return to the hallowed sites upon which members of my own family were murdered, but this time, to join he global effort to relieve the pain of Jews and other populations who are suffering.” “There is incredible suffering taking place and the fact that we as a Jewish community are able to take care of these refugees today is remarkable,” he added. So far JFNA has raised $50 million in aid for Ukraine. More missions are being planned in coming weeks and months.





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who joins the 62 Group, dyeing her hair blond to pose as an Aryan and attract the infatuations of Jordan (Rory Kinnear), who marches his militia through London holding signs like “Free Britain from Jewish Control” and “Keep Britain White, Stop Jewish Immigration.” Initially just trying to ensure the safety of her lover, who is also posing undercover within the National Socialists, Vivien quickly realizes that her feminine intuition gives her greater access into Jordan’s schemes, and she becomes a top courier of information to the local rabbi and 62 Group leaders, all while trying not to blow her cover. Based on the 2014 novel by Jo Bloom, “Ridley Road” is named after the real London street uneasily shared at the time by Jews and fascists alike, along with many other cultures equally derided by the National Socialists. It was adapted for TV by writer-directoractress Sarah Solemani, a British Persian Jew and the daughter of an Orthodox marcher in the Anti-Nazi League (a post-62 Group organization formed in 1977 that helped organize an anti-racist rock concert) who was himself the victim of antisemitism in 1960s London. While the throughline of the story is fictional, its casing is all based on real people and events. The show’s instigating incident is a 1962 Nazi rally the National Socialists held in London’s Tralfagar Square. A pivotal Nazi attack on a yeshiva that leaves a Jewish boy Continued on page 9

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May 3, 2022


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dead is also based on a real event, and there are appearances by George Lincoln Rockwell, who was the real leader of the American Nazi Party, as well as by Françoise Dior – the French fascist and member of the hautecouture family who was Jordan’s real-life wife and true believer in the movement. Though the espionage in the series is gripping, what’s most striking about “Ridley Road” is how it depicts even the casual antisemitism among the nonNazis of the era. Even before she goes undercover, Vivien is hiding her Star of David necklace from rowdy youths on the train in one scene, and none of the Jews trust the local police to root out the bad guys. In a climactic chase scene, ViviEn begs ordinary Londoners to help her flee from the Nazis – and in a chilling reminder of what the norm was during the war, they all refuse.


We also see the general ease with which economically displaced white people could blame Jews and immigrants for their misfortunes — a lesson that has, sadly, proven timeless. For example, Jordan blames the demise of locally owned grocery stores on the rise of “Jewishowned” national chains like Tesco, and also rants about his

belief that Jews are behind the rise of communism. Yet despite the darkness at play, it’s also exciting to see a Jewish community take such an active role in not just condemning but actually fighting (sometimes physically) those who would wish to destroy it. “It doesn’t matter whether you are a non-racist or non-

fascist,” Vivien’s uncle, the head of the 62 Group, tells her at one point when she is considering bailing on her undercover work. “The only thing that matters is that you’re anti… An anti-fascist fights.” “Ridley Road” premiered May 1 on PBS.

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The Ledger Scoreboard

Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play ‘Hava Nagila’ after wins? BY ANDREW ESENSTEN

(JTA) – A few years ago, Rachel Picado attended a Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City with Israeli diplomat Eitan Na’eh, who was visiting from Los Angeles. During the closing seconds of the game, which the Jazz won, the two heard a familiar song coming from the speakers in Vivint Arena. “We were both looking at each other like, why on earth are they playing ‘Hava Nagila’?” Picado recalled. She asked the Jazz employees who were hosting her group about the musical choice, and “they were confused that we were confused,” Picado said. “They said, ‘Well, isn’t it a celebratory song? We’re celebrating the win. Isn’t that what it’s for?’” Picado added. Many professional sports teams play the same song after each win in their home stadiums. The Yankees use “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers serenade fans with Randy

Newman’s “I Love L.A.,” while the Clippers blast Tupac Shakur’s “California Love.” And, for more than a decade, the Jazz have celebrated home victories by playing “Hava Nagila,” the Hebrew staple of Jewish weddings and bar and bat mitzvah parties that seemingly has nothing to do with Utah – or jazz, for that matter. For a team with no Jewish players, in a market with relatively few Jewish residents, the choice has long baffled and amused basketball fans in Utah and beyond. The Jazz organization cites the song’s “memorable beat” in explaining the phenomenon. “The rejoicing of the fans and the memorable beat of the song have proven to be a popular way to commemorate a Jazz win,” Madeline Crandall, the team’s communications director, said in an email. While Jazz players dictate the arena’s playlist during pregame



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and halftime warmups, the team has two senior employees who choose the in-game music. “Hava Nagila” has been used specifically as the victory song “as long as they both remember,” Crandall said. “The consensus is that… it feels celebratory and fun and it has just stuck.” Neither Meikle LaHue nor Jeremy Castro, who would appear to be the employees in question, responded to emails. LaHue has worked with the Jazz since 2006, and Castro since 2007, according to their LinkedIn profiles. DJ Joune, the team’s official DJ whose job, as he put it in a recent Instagram video, is “curating the vibes” at Vivint Arena, said the tradition predates his tenure with the team. “I don’t really know how this tradition started, but it’s a great victory ending song for Jazz fans,” he said. How do Utah Jews feel about the team’s embrace of a song with deep Jewish roots? “It’s a bit different, I’ll say that much,” said Rabbi Samuel Spector, who leads Utah’s largest synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City. “Hopefully it gives people a good association with Judaism and the Jewish community, if they associate our music with fun and winning.” There are eight synagogues and approximately 6,500 Jews living in Utah today; about a quarter of them belong to Kol Ami, which is affiliated with both the Conservative and Reform movements. By contrast, more than 2 million residents – or twothirds of the population – belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, according to Church statistics. (There are also small numbers

of “Jewish Mormons,” Latter-day Saints who take pride in having Jewish heritage.) Spector characterized relations between Jews and Latter-day Saints in Utah as close. “They have been very generous to us, are always happy to help and have been great friends,” he said. “Even when we have differences, those are not great enough to overcome our friendship.” Picado, who works in health insurance and attended the game with the Israeli diplomat, said she feels more welcome as a Jew in Salt Lake City than in Seattle, where she lived previously and encountered “a lot of very strong anti-Israel sentiment that definitely spilled over on the Jewish community.” She noted that the LDS Church has helped honor Jewish history in the state by, for example, helping to erect a historic marker dedicated to Jewish pioneers who established an agricultural colony in Clarion, central Utah, in 1911. Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith are members of the Church, as were the previous owners, Larry and Gail Miller. Like many NBA teams, the Jazz hold a Jewish Heritage Night each season, usually during Hanukkah. Since 2015, the local emissaries from the ChabadLubavitch movement, Rabbi Benny Zippel and his son, Rabbi Avremi Zippel, have led menorah lighting ceremonies during halftime of those games. Avremi sings “Ma’oz Tzur.” First performed in Jerusalem in 1918 to celebrate the Balfour Declaration in support of a future state of Israel, “Hava Nagila” combines lyrics adapted from the book of Psalms – “let us rejoice and be glad” – with May 3, 2022


a Hasidic niggun, or chanted melody. Over time, it has gone from a Zionist youth group song to a Jewish wedding standard to “a generic ode to happiness,” according to academics Edwin Seroussi and James Loeffler. So it’s not so unusual to hear it played or sung at sporting events in the United States and Europe today. “Once upon a time it was viewed as a stirring Zionist anthem, so much so that it was banned in parts of the Arab world,” Loeffler, a Jewish history professor at the University of Virginia, told JTA. “Now thanks to its ubiquity it has become pareve to the point of post-Jewish kitsch.” Still, some Jewish basketball fans said they feel uneasy about the song’s usage to glorify a nonJewish group. “I find it inappropriate for any NBA team to use any cultural song as a victory song,

but even more so for a franchise in a city without any real connection to the culture the song is representative of,” said Jon Kaufman, a fan who runs a sports memorabilia store on eBay and follows the Jazz closely from his home in Portland. “If they were to celebrate with a Mormon song, that would make some sense.” But for the team to “take something cultural that is not yours, and to appropriate it for your liking, is just wrong.” Ben Dowsett, a journalist and videographer based in Salt Lake City who covers the NBA, does not take issue with what the Jazz are doing. On the contrary, Dowsett, who is Jewish, said the Jewish community and other minority communities “should be open to this sort of thing where appropriate, as long as the cultural elements being referenced are not being taken out of context or used offensively, which I don’t believe is the case


here.” Led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, as the Ledger went to press, the Jazz were getting ready to face off against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. Rabbi Avremi Zippel has been attending Jazz games for

25 years. He hopes to watch his team finally win their first championship. “I look forward to game 7 of the NBA Finals, speedily in our days,” he said, “with the Jazz playing ‘Hava Nagila’ as the Larry O’Brien [NBA Championship] Trophy is lifted in the air.”


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CELEBRATING ISRAEL’S 75th BIRTHDAY! (JNS) Israel being the special place that it is – steeped in history, religious significance and cutting-edge technological innovation – it’s not surprising that many A-list celebrities, business executives and world leaders have come to visit over the past 74 years of the state’s existence. But some well-known personalities have ties to the nation that are unexpected and even amusing. That’s the theme of the list we’ve compiled below in honor of Israeli Independence Day, this year Yom Ha’atzmaut is celebrated on May 5.


When actress, animal-rights activist and former Playboy model Pamela Anderson wed film producer Rick Salomon (for the second time) in January 2014, she chose to honeymoon in Israel. Anderson had previously been in Israel in 2010 as a guest judge in the local version of “Dancing with the Stars.” In 2017, at a fundraiser for Friends of the IDF, Anderson said, “Israel is magical. It is one of my favorite places to be. A mixture of old and new, arts, music, freedom. The people of Israel are interesting, aware and generous. You can see they are very sensitive to the world’s problems. Israel is a place everyone must experience.”


This TV actress, neuroscientist, mommy blogger and “Jeopardy!” host has traveled many times to Israel for pleasure and business. One place on her family itinerary



is Tel Aviv’s Bialik House, home of her great-grandfather’s first cousin Chaim Nachman Bialik, who was a pioneer of modern Israeli poetry. Bialik reported that her two sons love the Armored Corps Museum in Latrun, spending time on a kibbutz and eating hummus. In a lighthearted moment during Bialik’s 2018 trip to Israel to speak at the sixth annual Forum for Combatting Antisemitism, she accepted thenPresident Reuven Rivlin’s request to pose for a picture like Sheldon and Amy, two characters on her hit show “The Big Bang Theory.”


Legendary Canadian singersongwriter and poet Leonard Cohen was an avowed pacifist. Yet he ended up entertaining Israeli troops on the front lines of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as described in Matti Friedman’s new book, Who by Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai. Cohen came to Israel following a falling out with his girlfriend in the Greek isles. He didn’t know Hebrew and he didn’t know anyone in Israel. He


American country music icon Johnny Cash visited Israel five times. He first came in 1966 on a religious pilgrimage, and returned in 1968 with his new wife, June Carter Cash. This second trip inspired a Christian-


themed concept album, “The Holy Land,” featuring tracks such as “Land of Israel,” “The Ten Commandments” and “Come to the Wailing Wall.” Cash’s 1969 album “Johnny Cash at San Quentin” includes a segment in which Cash speaks of his experiences in Israel and introduces the song “He Turned the Water into Wine,” which he wrote on the way to Tiberias. Cash returned in 1971 to work on the narration of the film “Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus.” He was back in 1990 to film “Return to the Promised Land.”

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wandered around Tel Aviv, where he was recognized by Israeli singers Oshik Levi, Matti Caspi and Ilana Rovina. They invited him to accompany them to the Sinai Desert to entertain troops preparing for an Egyptian attack. Later, Cohen described the experience: “We would just drop into little places, like a rocket site, and they would shine their flashlights at us and we would sing a few songs. Or they would give us a jeep and we would go down the road towards the front and wherever we saw a few soldiers waiting for a helicopter or something like that we would sing a few songs. And maybe back at the airbase we would do a little concert, maybe with amplifiers. It was very informal, and you know, very intense.” On one occasion, Caspi reported, “We found ourselves helping to carry injured soldiers to waiting helicopters. These were the same soldiers we had performed for

only a few hours earlier.” Cohen wrote the original version of his hit “Lover, Lover, Lover” during one of these shows, and the experience inspired other songs, such as “Field Commander Cohen,” “There is a War,” and “Who by Fire.” Cohen’s final concert in Israel was in 2009, when he was in his mid-70s. He concluded his performance by bestowing the traditional priestly blessing (Birkat Kohanim) on the audience.


Born in London to a religious Jewish family, Sacha Baron Cohen was eager to immerse himself in Israeli society during a gap-year program with the Zionist youth group Habonim Dror. He spent his first year out of high school volunteering at Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra, the northern-most on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, and Kibbutz Beit HaEmek. A friend who attended a seminar with him in Israel remembered that: “He was really very nerdy, he didn’t hang out with the girls, but we were literally crying from laughter because he was so funny. I remember thinking how talented he was, and very, very smart, a genius, really.” Cohen’s maternal grandmother lived in Bat Yam and he came in 2014 for her funeral.


In 1992, American supermodel Cindy Crawford came to Israel for a photo shoot for Capezio handbags. While she was here, she posed for some steamy snapshots with Israeli soldiers, accepted an invitation to a May 3, 2022



random boy’s bar mitzvah, and planted a kiss on the (clearly uncomfortable) face of Dani Angel, owner of famed Angel Bakery chain.

Now prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson backpacked around Israel in 1984, when he was 20. He stopped to visit his older sister, Rachel Johnson, who was volunteering on Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi, north of the Sea of Galilee. Johnson spent 10 days on this kibbutz, mainly helping in the central laundry. Kibbutz member Alec Collins told Haaretz that Johnson “was a highly motivated, serious man… . He wanted to see what there is in the land of Israel… not just one place.”



DiCaprio has made many investments in Israel over the years, most recently in cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms. Not all his Israeli investments have paid off. He lost the money he put into social media company Mobli, which shut down in 2016. And his “investment” in his muchpublicized on-again-off-again romance with supermodel Bar Refaeli also eventually fizzled. On a 2007 visit to Israel, where he and Refaeli visited sites such as the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of DiCaprio’s bodyguards assaulted some photographers, who filed a police complaint against him.


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This remarkable deaf and blind writer and social activist came to Israel for 15 days in 1952 as part of a tour on behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind. She told the children at Kibbutz Degania, “I can’t see you, but I feel you. I know that you are happy, because you are in your homeland, which is being rebuilt.” When she arrived at Jerusalem’s Jewish Institute for the Blind, Keller hugged and kissed the students as they handed her dozens of letters written in Braille. At Kfar Uriel, an experimental project aimed to integrate blind Yemenite immigrants into nearby workplaces, Keller communicated with immigrants and visited the local daycare. “I leave Israel greatly impressed by everything that is


being done here,” Keller said. “The flourishing cities, villages and kibbutzim that are being built, the industrial factories and the happy, healthy faces of the children and youth–they all fill my heart with faith in Israel’s prospects for future development.”


In the summer of 2019, Jennifer Lopez came to Israel to do a concert marking her 50th birthday. She brought along her then-partner, Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod), her 11-year-old twins and his two daughters. “The mother land Israel!!! First time here. I’m in love!” JLo tweeted. A-Rod posted on Instagram: “What an amazing time we are having on my first trip to Israel! The people have been wonderful and have such energy. I will definitely be back and recommend visiting this incredible country!”

put an Israeli flag around her shoulders and declared Israel the “energy center of the world.”


Oscar-winning British actress Helen Mirren has visited Israel on several occasions. The first was a backpacking trip with her Jewish boyfriend after the 1967 Six Day War, during which she “actually slept on the beach in Eilat” and spent time at Kibbutz Ha’on in northern Israel. Mirren, who plays Golda Meir in an upcoming biopic directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, claims to “love Israel” and describes it as a “great, great country.” “My visit to Israel in those early days was … absolutely a part of the building blocks that have made me into the actress that I am, doing the kind of work that I do, that I seek to do, and the way in which I seek to do it,” she said upon being honored at the 29th Israel Film Festival in Beverly Hills in 2015.




Long before Madonna’s bizarrely bungled performance at Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, the Material Girl was making pilgrimages and family trips to Israel. One of her visits was part of a Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre tour over the Rosh Hashanah holiday in 2004, whose 22 participants also included designer Donna Karan and Donald Trump’s ex-wife, Marla Maples. Madonna also gave concerts in Israel on several occasions. During her 2008-2009 “Sticky and Sweet” tour, she

American television host, comedian and producer Conan O’Brien fell in love with shakshuka, the iconic Israeli eggand-tomato-sauce breakfast dish, on his maiden voyage to Israel in the summer of 2017. At the end of his first full day in Israel, he tweeted from Tel Aviv that “all the men are incredibly buff and the women are beautiful.” He dropped by a youth hackathon, visited Syrian refugees being treated at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, played matkot on the Tel


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Aviv beach, danced and chatted with Palestinian Arab teens and shopkeepers, picnicked with an Israeli-Arab family in Jaffa, had a fake bar mitzvah at a Tel Aviv synagogue, and even visited actress Gal Gadot (“the nicest superwoman I’ve ever met”) at home in Tel Aviv.

I didn’t,” he told The Times of Israel in November 2017. “I was supposed to be chopping dead banana leaves. I couldn’t do it – it was exhausting. … When I go to Israel, I of course go back to that time. I just feel very close to Israel.” During his 2017 visit, he brought his family.



In October 1994, Prince Philip became the first royal to visit the Holy Land. He and his sister, Princess Sophie, attended a ceremony at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center to celebrate their mother, Princess Alice, being honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for saving three members of a Jewish family during the Nazi invasion in Greece. The Duke of Edinburgh planted a maple tree during the ceremony in his mother’s honor, and then he and his sister visited the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem where Princess Alice is buried.



Comedian Jerry Seinfeld came to Israel in 2007 to promote “Bee Movie” and he performed stand-up shows in Israel in 2015 and 2017. But he’d been in Israel way before his celebrity days, as a kibbutz volunteer at age 16. “It was eight weeks in Israel… Of course I had to work, which



In 1962, this famed songster visited Israel for the first time, performing in six cities as part of his multinational World Tour for Children. He sang at the official Independence Day event in Tel Aviv and sat beside Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Gen. Moshe Dayan on the reviewing stand. In 1964, he dedicated the Frank Sinatra Brotherhood and Friendship Center for Arab and Israeli Children in Nazareth. Sinatra returned to Israel often over the years, even celebrating his 80th birthday in Eilat along with friends including Lee Iacocca and Walter Matthau.


But his first brush with Israel was in March 1948, when future mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek was in New York on a clandestine mission to send weapons to the fledging state, which was under attack from five Arab nations, despite a U.S. arms embargo. A ship full of munitions was waiting to sail, but how could Kollek transfer the cash needed when federal agents were tailing him? Spontaneously, he shared his secret dilemma with Sinatra, whom he met one night at the bar of his hotel. “And in the early hours of the following morning I walked out the front door of the building with a satchel, and the Feds followed me,” Kollek told the authors of the biography Sinatra: The Life: “Out the back door went Frank Sinatra, carrying

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

a paper bag filled with cash [estimated at $1 million]. He went down to the pier, handed it over, and watched the ship sail.”


As far as we know, Will Smith did not slap anybody during his 2006 trip to Israel with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In fact, after watching a film about assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the Yitzhak


Rabin Center in Jaffa, the visibly moved Hollywood star told reporters, “I am inspired beyond my ability to articulate… and now I know what and who I want to be… a soldier for peace.” At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Smith shook hands with a startled bar mitzvah boy, placed a note into a crack in the ancient wall and prayed there for a few minutes. In 2017, Smith made a surprise visit to Jerusalem during the filming of “Aladdin” in Jordan. He touched the stones of the Western Wall and called it “a very spiritual, very powerful place.”


The Brooklyn-born diva has long supported Israel and Israeli causes, such as the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. In 1968, she was awarded the Israel


Freedom Medal in recognition of these efforts. Of her many trips to Israel, the most famous was probably in June 2013, when she came to perform at Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday celebration. During that trip, she also gave concerts in Tel Aviv and received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she’d dedicated the Emanuel Streisand Building, in memory of her father, in 1984. Streisand has described Israel as “a shining beacon of hope in the world.” In the video below, Streisand speaks with Golda Meir during a 1978 show, “The Stars Salute Israel at 30.”


The voluptuous violet-eyed star of the silver screen, who died in 2011, was an ardent supporter of Israel Bonds and other fundraisers for the Jewish state. Taylor visited Israel frequently, meeting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1976 and Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1983. In 1971, after planting a tree in the Jerusalem Forest, Taylor said, “The trees we planted with our own hands in Israel symbolize a new hope that the whole world, Christian, Jew and Arab, will live as one in harmony.” In 1977, Israel’s ambassador to the United States revealed that Taylor had offered to swap herself for Jewish and Israeli hostages held by Palestinian and German terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in July 1976.


The controversial rapper and producer came to Israel twice in 2015, first to give a concert at Ramat Gan Stadium in January, which was loved by fans and panned by critics. He returned that spring with then-wife Kim Kardashian to baptize their daughter, North West, in Jerusalem’s Saint James Cathedral. This article was first published by Israeli21c, and was compiled with the assistance of Shai Ben-ari, Carlos Feder and Alexa Greenstein. May 3, 2022


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Why Russian TV Wouldn’t Let Me Say (about Putin & The Holocaust)



was watching a CNN report about Russian atrocities in Ukraine when the email arrived. It was from a producer for RT, the Russian government television network, asking to interview me about what she called “the American media’s collusion with the Third Reich.” Why is Russian Television suddenly interested in how U.S. journalists covered Hitler? Evidently it has to do with Vladimir Putin’s bizarre references to Nazis in his attempts to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to Putin, the Ukrainians – including their Jewish president – are actually Nazis and therefore the invasion constitutes “deNazification.” RT, Putin’s television network, promotes similar themes. On the day the RT producer’s email arrived, the RT website featured articles claiming that the Ukrainian army is filled with “neo-Nazis”; alleging that Russian citizens living in Ukraine are under attack from “neo-Nazi groups integrated into the government of Ukraine”; and asserting that the Biden administration is carrying out “genocide” against Native Americans in Nevada. also features wild accusations against the American news media, such as denouncing U.S. journalists for “vilifying” the January 6 rioters. Presumably such nonsense is a ham-handed attempt to undermine the credibility of media outlets that have been reporting about Russian atrocities in Ukraine. The RT producer’s claim that the U.S. media “colluded” with the Nazis in the 1930s is in line with the Putin regime’s contention that the May 3, 2022


Ukrainians and their American supporters are all Nazis or Nazisympathizers. It’s a classic propaganda device – take the kernel of truth within a known historical episode, tear it out of its original context, and then twist and magnify it to suit some contemporary political purpose. Yes, many major U.S. newspapers downplayed or ignored news about the Holocaust – but that was poor journalism (and, in some cases, a kind of antisemitism), not “collusion with Nazism.” Such anti-American propaganda is a staple of RT. Originally known by its full name, “Russia Today,” RT was created by the Putin regime in 2005. It is a propaganda agency, controlled and financed by the Russian government. Since 2017, its representatives in the United States have been required to register as foreign agents of the Russian government. I wouldn’t have known any of that from the producer’s email, however. She described RT as an “international TV channel,” with no clue as to its mission, financing, or governance. She never even used the word “Russia.” Obviously I have no interest in being used by Putin’s television network for his propaganda purposes; I replied that I would agree to an interview only on condition that my full comments be broadcast, including my thoughts on how the lessons of the 1930s are relevant today. I explained that I would point out, among other things, that: • Mainstream American newspapers in the 1930s were not pro-Nazi. Because of naïveté

or ignorance, many major U.S. newspapers in the early 1930s failed to recognize that Adolf Hitler – like Vladimir Putin today – was an aggressive dictator who would threaten neighboring countries. • The Russian public today is at a great disadvantage as compared to the American public during the Nazi era. The American press is genuinely free and independent, and so the U.S. public had access to sources of information about the Nazi persecutions even when the Roosevelt administration would have preferred that the public not know. Thus while the New York Times downplayed Holocaust news, other publications, such as the weekly New Republic and the New York City daily newspaper PM, highlighted it. By contrast, the Russian people today are unable to freely access information about Russian atrocities in Ukraine because of the Putin government’s control of the Russian news media.

regime! I guess I won’t be hearing from RT again. Dr. Raphael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author of more than 20 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust. His latest is “America and the Holocaust: A Documentary History,” published by the Jewish Publication Society & University of Nebraska Press.)

• The fact that American journalists 80 years ago did a poor job of covering the Holocaust is no reason to doubt the accuracy of today’s American media coverage of Russian atrocities in Ukraine. Russia’s war crimes have been amply documented by U.S. media outlets from across the political and ideological spectrum. The RT producer’s reply was not unexpected, but it was loaded with irony. “We are not interested in airing propaganda, nor including analysis which are propaganda themselves,” she said of my intended remarks. Pretty funny coming from a fulltime propagandist for the Putin Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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On Campus Harvard Crimson endorses BDS, while rejecting antisemitism; a symbol of campus sentiment about Israel BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – For years, the editorial board of the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard University, has declined to back the movement to boycott Israel, even as it expressed concern about Israeli policies and supported the free-speech rights of Harvard student groups that did advocate for a boycott. That changed Friday, when the newspaper published an unsigned editorial offering a full-throated endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), in a potent symbol of a changing campus climate around Israel. The editorial also expressed support for Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, a student group that has for the past week been hosting the school’s chapter of the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” international event. “We are proud to finally lend our support to both Palestinian liberation and BDS — and we call on everyone to do the same,” the Crimson’s editorial board wrote. It was a notable shift from the paper’s history of opposing BDS, which the board cited in its editorial. As recently as 2020, the Crimson expressed ambivalence. “In the past, our board was skeptical of the movement (if not, generally speaking, of its goals), arguing that BDS as a whole did not ‘get at the nuances and particularities of the IsraelPalestine conflict,’” the editorial said. “We regret and reject that view.” What changed, the Crimson’s editors said, was “the weight of this moment — of Israel’s human rights and international law violations and of Palestine’s cry for freedom.” Whereas past Crimson editors had called comparisons between Israel and ApartheidMay 3, 2022



era South Africa “offensive” and “repugnant,” the editorial published Friday favorably compares BDS tactics to the anti-Apartheid movement, while adding that “Israel remains America’s favorite first amendment blindspot” because individuals and companies that criticize Israel regularly face criticism and consequences, sometimes dictated by state law. Coming from the oldest continuously published campus daily in the United States, at the country’s most selective college, the Crimson’s support is certain to fuel concerns from pro-Israel advocates that college campuses are inhospitable to students who support Israel. ProPalestinian advocacy is common on campuses, and last year 11 student governments passed BDS resolutions, out of 17 that were considered. Like both Republican and Democratic leaders, Jewish groups across the political spectrum oppose the BDS movement, initiated by Palestinian activists, because they say its opposition to

the very existence of Israel is dangerous to Jews. The sponsor of a BDS resolution in Burlington, Vermont, last year withdrew the proposal after becoming convinced that the movement contributes to antisemitism; it would have been the first American city to pass such a resolution. The paper also credited the Palestine Solidarity Committee’s campus activism, which this week has included a “Wall of Resistance” installation on Harvard Yard; campus visits from controversial Jewish proPalestinian academic activists Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein (the latter of whom opposes BDS); and social justice-themed panels on “Black Palestinian Solidarity” and “Queer Palestinian[s].” As at most newspapers, the Crimson’s editorial board is separate from its news division. Its nearly 90 members meet three times a week to debate and decide on positions to take, and editorials reflect a majority view but not a complete consensus, according to its website.

On the news side, the current Crimson staff has at least one Jewish editor: news editor Natalie Kahn, who is also the student president of Harvard Hillel. In her capacity at Hillel, Kahn was quoted in the Crimson criticizing the wall installation, calling it “disgusting” and helping to organize a “Stand with Israel Rally” on campus to oppose it. The editorial said the board did not believe the “Wall of Resistance” constituted antisemitism. “We unambiguously oppose and condemn antisemitism in every and all forms,” the editorial said. Neither the Crimson’s editorial chairs nor Kahn returned Jewish Telegraphic Agency requests for comment by press time. Past Jewish Crimson staffers and editors have included current U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Attorney General Merrick Garland; journalists Yair Rosenberg and Irin Carmon; and former CNN president Jeff Zucker.

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Arts & Entertainment

A movie about how ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ became a movie BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – Despite his name, Norman Jewison, the director of the 1971 film adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof,” is not Jewish. The 95-year-old Jewison has often spoken about how, when asked to helm the movie version of the popular Broadway musical about an Old World shtetl, he felt the need to sheepishly inform the producers that he was a goy. Less well known is that, following the worldwide success of the “Fiddler” movie, Jewison actually wound up embracing the Jewish faith. Though he has never spoken of formally converting, he reveals near the end of the new documentary “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen” that, when he married his second wife Lynne St. David Jewison in 2010, the couple had a Jewish wedding – complete with a rabbi and a chuppah. “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen” tells the story of how the stage musical became a beloved screen classic. (It’s not to be confused with the 2019 documentary “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles,” which focused more on how the adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s Yiddish short stories made it to the stage.) Directed by Daniel Raim, an Israeli-born filmmaker who specializes in behind-the-scenes film history documentaries for the boutique

arthouse label The Criterion Collection, “Fiddler’s Journey” concerns itself with the details of film adaptation and the logistical challenges of recreating a convincing prewar Jewish shtetl in the former Yugoslavia. It also focuses on the long, illustrious career of Jewison, for whom “Fiddler” became a signature film. One of the rare directors to have been nominated for an Oscar in three separate decades – his other two were for “In the Heat of the Night” (1967) and “Moonstruck” (1987) – Jewison landed the “Fiddler” job partly on the strength of his Cold War satire “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.” His commitment to verisimilitude in depicting Anatevka led him to reject the original Broadway “Fiddler” star, Zero Mostel, in favor of Israeli actor Topol. Mostel’s version of the milkman Tevye, said Jewison, was “too American.” That commitment also led Jewison and his crew to reconstruct a wooden synagogue in the style once common in the Pale of Settlement, a story told in one of the documentary’s more moving passages. Jewison’s crew was unable to find a real-life synagogue that hadn’t been destroyed during the war. The new documentary’s


May 3, 2022


Ukrainian-born producer and publicist, Sasha Berman, felt a connection to the film because her grandmother grew up in an Anatevka-like shtetl, and would tell her stories about village life in much the same way as Sholem Aleichem, keeping the stories of Jewish life alive. Other memorable moments of the documentary include interviews with Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh and Neva Small – actresses who played three of Tevye’s daughters and who each remembered the experience as the role of a lifetime – and Jewison’s memories of screening the completed film in Israel for then-Prime Minister Golda Meir (David Ben-Gurion got to see it, too). Though Jeff Goldblum is billed as the documentary’s

narrator, he makes only sporadic voice appearances. Miracle of miracles, many of the people who brought us “Fiddler,” including Jewison, Topol, composer John Williams and original Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, are still alive (composer Jerry Bock died in 2010). We see them all in the documentary, although many of the interviews are not original to this film. Still, there is a certain thrill to realizing that the history of “Fiddler,” a show which celebrates a long-dead way of Jewish life, is, in its own way, still living. “Fiddler’s Journey To The Big Screen” opened April 29 at New York’s Angelika Film Center, and expands to Los Angeles May 6, with other cities to follow.

HBO to produce comedy series about Hasidic rapper Nissim Black BY CALEB GUEDES-REED

(JTA) – HBO Max is currently producing a new comedy series based on the life of former gang member-turned-Hasidic-rapper Nissim Black. Black, who lives in Israel, announced the upcoming show on Twitter on April 25, writing that he hopes “this series brings Joy, and dispells [sic] a lot of the JEWISH HIP HOP SINGER NISSIM BLACK SEEN misinformation going on out PERFORMING DURING THE there.” He will co-produce the CHANUKAH FESTIVAL IN PITTSBURGH, APRIL 12, 2018. show with comedian and veteran (ESTHER WAYNE/SOPA IMAGES/ TV writer Moshe Kasher, who LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES) frequently references his Jewish identity in his work. It’s unclear if Black will star as himself in the show, according to a Deadline report. “Motherland Bounce,” the name of the series and the name of one of Black’s recently released singles, tells the story of how he went from selling drugs in Seattle by age 12 to finding a spiritual home in Orthodox Judaism and moving to Jerusalem. In the song, he grapples with his many different identities. “There’s always these questions,” he told Hey Alma in 2020. “Like, ‘Well, are you still Black? How Black are you? How does that work? But you’re also Jewish? Jews are white?’ No they’re not!” Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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Around SNE CT Holocaust survivor to be inducted into Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame

Caroline Poland named exec director of JTConnect

ARTFORD, Conn – Judith Altman of Stamford is among four Connecticut women who will be inducted into the National Immigrant Heritage Center’s Immigrant Heritage Hall of of Fame (IHHF) at a ceremony to take held Thursday, July 14 at the AquaTurf in Plantsville, Connecticut. The new class of IHHF inductees includes distinguished individuals who have been leaders, activists and scholars in education, human rights, science, philanthropy, and intereligious understanding. In addition to Altmann, a Holocaust survivor, educator and human right activities, the include attorney Marilda Gándara, a business and philanthropic leader; Aida Mansoor, Islamic chaplain and activist for interreligious understanding; and Radenka Maric, interim president,

EST HARTFORD, Conn. – Caroline Poland has been appointed executive director of JTConnect, it was announced recently by Lauren Benthien, president of the JTConnect Board of Directors. Poland will take up her new post on June 1. Poland holds a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising, program planning and development, and partnership building. She and her family relocated back to the Greater Hartford area almost a year ago, after living in San Francisco for 15 years, where she worked for the SF-Based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund as a project director for their teen philanthropy programs, and as a program officer for strategic grantmaking. “Working in the Jewish community touches my soul because it sparks my passion for creating positive change in the world,” says Poland. “I have served in many nonprofit leadership and management roles over the course of my 20 year career - including working with marginalized youth and families, mental health/substance abuse



University of Connecticut. “We are very pleased to recognize this inspiring group of individuals who embody the kind of perseverance, commitment to excellence and notable achievement that have made our world a better place,” said Demetrios Giannaros, president of the National Immigrant Heritage Center, based in New Britain, Connecticut. “They are truly remarkable, and their May 3, 2022


contributions serve to motivate and encourage future generations to excel.” The mission of the National Immigrant Heritage Center, he added, is to “celebrate, preserve, publicize, and promote immigrant heritage and cultural diversity as defining characteristics of the American Nation, and the contributions of Immigrants and Immigration to American economy, culture, and civil society.” Judith Altman was born in Jasina Czechoslovakia, which was occupied by the Nazis in 1939. In 1944 she was arrested and transported to Auschwitz concentration camp with her niece where they were selected for work. From there she was sent to Essen and Gelsenkirchen Labor camps where she remained until March 1945. She survived the “death march” that ended in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Sick with typhus, Altman was barely alive when she was liberated by the British Army in 1945. Ms. Altmann was given the opportunity to go to Sweden. She lived in Sweden until 1948 at which time she immigrated to the United States. Altman, who has extensive experience speaking in schools, is a member of the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Speakers Bureau and is vice president of the Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut. The upcoming IHHF Induction Ceremony and Gala will feature as keynote speaker acclaimed UkranianAmerican pianist Angelina Gadeliya, Professor of Piano and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at the University of Connecticut. For more information, visit or call (860) 829- 1215.


programming, developing and directing Jewish teen programs, Jewish youth and family philanthropy, strategic grantmaking, nonprofit fundraising, and donor engagement.” “Everyone on the Board and Search Committee was immediately impressed with Caroline’s commitment to the Jewish community and experience with Jewish teen education and leadership development, as well as her warmth, positivity, and genuine desire to further our mission at JTConnect,” says Benthien. “Her enthusiasm made everyone very excited about the next chapter in our organization.” JTConnect provides an educational experience and social community for Jewish teens to develop a strong Jewish identity, enhance their understanding and commitment to their Jewish heritage and traditions, and prepare them to lead meaningful Jewish lives. For more information, visit www.jtconnect. org.

Israeli Chef Avi Shemtov to talk Hummus in the Berkshires Boston-based Israeli chef Avi Shemtov, owner of A La Esh, The Chubby Chickpea, Simcha, and Hummus v’Hummus will take part in “All Things Hummus,” a conversation with Jewish Federation of the Berkshires Executive Director Dara Kaufman on Thursday, May 5 at 6:45 p.m. on Zoom. During the program they will explore the nitty-gritty of great hummus and its many glorious and versatile options in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut. Purists and creative foodies alike will enjoy the tips and tastes of this deep dive into all things hummus. This free Jewish Federation of the Berkshires program will be presented via Zoom. Please visit our calendar of events at for the link to the event. Southern New England Jewish Ledger







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Remembering Israel’s unknown fallen soldiers BY DANNY DANON

(JNS) On the eve of Yom Hazikaron – Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers – which begins this year at sundown on Tuesday, May 3, and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, May 4, the entire country unites. All previous disagreements are cast aside as the nation stands together to cherish the memory of the brave men and women who gave their lives to fight for and secure their nation’s future. Every loss of a soldier tears a hole in the hearts of all the people of Israel. Each one is publicly reported with an extensive description of the circumstances of the devastating incident. In addition to these fallen servicemen and women, each year dozens of wounded


fighters in the Israel Defense Forces pass away as a result of their injuries and are added to the count. Since last year’s Remembrance Day, 56 soldiers were added to the list. A further 84 IDF soldiers who passed away as a result of their injuries have also been recognized as fallen soldiers of the State of Israel. The stories of the wounded soldiers who pass away as a result of their injuries are not often told and do not receive public exposure. Usually, when details of the battle are uncovered, the reporting is general and will describe the soldiers as “severely injured.” Yet it goes without saying that every wounded soldier is also an entire world. They too have May 3, 2022


a story of heroism to recount, along with daily challenges and rehabilitation that too often end in premature death. As fate would have it, I was chosen to become closely acquainted with one of the many heroic stories of a severely wounded IDF soldier who passed away as a result of his injuries and sacrificed his life for the State of Israel. My late father, Joseph Danon, was one of the best fighters in the Reconnaissance Unit of the 99th Infantry Brigade. While serving as a reservist, he was fatally wounded in a battle with terrorists in the Jordan Valley. At the time of his injury, he was just 29, with a young family, a new business and his whole life ahead of him. Yet this was not to be. The shrapnel from the grenade that hit his head cut off all his hopes and dreams for his family and his future in one deadly second. He was evacuated by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital and after a lengthy hospitalization and numerous complex surgeries, the start of his never-ending rehabilitation process began. After just a few months, it became clear to my father that beyond the medical complications with which he had already been diagnosed, he had also completely lost the ability

to hear. Yet like other severely injured servicemen and women, my father chose to fight and take advantage of the time given to him, knowing that he was living on borrowed time. Deep down, in my heart of hearts, I always knew that my father would not live a long life and would not get to meet his grandchildren. I, therefore, took every opportunity to talk to him and learn from him until the severe injury he bravely coped with each day overwhelmed him. In my childhood home, Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers was the most important day of the year. My father understandably became very emotional on this day and, even though he was completely deaf from his injury, would choose to reverently watch the memorial ceremonies and the lists of the names of the fallen men and women whose images filled the TV screen. This is the only day of the year when a tear slid from his eye. No complex surgery or treatment ever caused him to complain or show pain. This day did. When I think back, I never understood if he was so moved because of the many friends he lost in Israel’s wars or because of his severe injury and the personal price he was destined to pay. I presume it was a combination of the two, but I

never dared ask. As a child, I was also privileged to get to know a large number of severely injured IDF fighters. I will always remember my wonderment that, despite the heavy price they paid as a result of their horrific injuries, their love for the State of Israel only grew and their belief in the righteousness of our nation’s path was never undermined. In fact, it only grew stronger. Unfortunately, many of these brave heroes are no longer with us. Their severe injuries and disabilities eventually overpowered them. As we do each year, this year we will also cherish the memories of our wounded servicemen in Israel’s national ceremonies. We will proudly tell the story of their heroism – not only their courage in battle but also the stories of their strength, spirit, determination and faith despite the injuries that ultimately led to their tragic end. May their memories be a blessing. Ambassador Danny Danon served as Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He is currently chairman of the World Likud. His forthcoming book, “In the Lion’s Den,” will be published on May 17.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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Briefs Jewish groups call for Congress to raise awareness about infertility (JTA) – All four major streams of Judaism are among an array of Jewish groups backing a bipartisan congressional resolution that calls on the U.S. government to raise awareness about infertility. Organizations affiliated with Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements signed a letter spearheaded by Hadassah sent Wednesday to members of Congress asking them to back a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Jewish Democrat from Florida, and Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican. The nonbinding resolution declares “that the United States Government has a responsibility to help examine, create, and implement solutions to address and alleviate the problems associated with the disease.” It lists Ashkenazi Jews and people of Middle Eastern ancestry as among a number of groups that “suffer from disproportionately higher rates of certain diseases and gynecological, endocrine, and autoimmune disorders, that may contribute to higher rates of infertility among these populations.” Hadassah has been lobbying for years to classify infertility as a disease and to raise awareness. “For too long, infertility and the struggle toward parenthood have been topics of quiet suffering, particularly in the Jewish community,” Rhoda Smolow, Hadassah’s president, said in a release. “By asking policymakers to expand access to infertility care and reduce the financial burden of treatments, we are empowering all of the patients, families and communities infertility affects.” The resolution has garnered a number of cosponsors, including Jewish Democrats Susan Wild May 3, 2022


of Pennsylvania, Brad Sherman of California, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Jerry Nadler of New York.

Congressmen join Holocaust survivors in reading names of victims (JTA) – Several dozen members of Congress joined Holocaust survivors to mark Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust remembrance day marked by Jewish communities worldwide, by reading out the names of the dead and hearing testimony in the Capitol building on Wendesday morning. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Jewish Illinois Democrat who spearheaded the event, said in remarks that the need to commemorate now was made more acute by the atrocities taking place in Russia’s war against Ukraine. “A million and a half children died in the Holocaust,” Schneider said after the name readings, becoming emotional. “We make sure to remember today so the world knows what is happening in Ukraine.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those reading names, in her case of families of her Bay Area constituents. She also recalled the role of her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., a Democratic congressman from Baltimore who called out the Roosevelt administration for not doing enough to intervene on behalf of the Jews during the Holocaust. The six Holocaust survivors speaking included Frank Cohn, 96, who fled Germany with his family as a child and returned as a U.S. soldier, serving in major battles in Europe and, after the war, assisted in war crimes prosecutions. There were also descendants of Holocaust survivors, including Charlotte Hoffman, 26, a congressional staffer whose grandmother, Sybil Frank, was hidden in an apartment in The Hague throughout the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands; she came carrying in a Ziploc bag the

yellow star marked with “Jood” that her grandmother wore before going into hiding. Like Schneider, many of the lawmakers reading names were Jewish, including David Kustoff, a Republican from Tennessee; Democrats Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; Elaine Luria of Virginia; Kathy Manning of North Carolina; and David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Also reading names were Michigan Democrats Brenda Lawrence, who cochairs the Black-Jewish Caucus; Haley Stevens, who is in a tight race with Jewish Democrat Andy Levin in the state’s 11th District, which has a substantial Jewish population; and Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American.

AIPAC’s PAC backs back Liz Cheney, who criticized its endorsements (JTA) – The political action committee of AIPAC is backing Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who has criticized the group for backing GOP colleagues who voted not to certify Joe Biden’s election as president. “AIPAC PAC is proud to support Liz Cheney,” the PAC said Friday on Twitter. “We deeply appreciate her strong and unwavering support for the U.S.Israel relationship during her entire career in public service.” AIPAC last week announced that it was backing candidates of both parties in a majority of the races nationwide, 326 out of 435 House elections and 34 Senate elections taking place in November. Cheney was not among them. Her omission raised eyebrows because she has been a prominent proIsrael figure since her days during the George W. Bush administration when her father was vice president and she was a senior Middle East official in the State Department. But Cheney is also shunned by much of her party because of her role as co-chair of a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S.

Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump seeking to disrupt the certification of Biden’s election. (Trump is backing her primary opponent.) She had been among those who criticized the PAC for including among its first batch of endorsees dozens of Republicans who voted not to certify Biden. “Those of us who have never wavered in our support for Israel or our fight against antiSemitism in the US & around the world want @AIPAC members to know your leadership is playing a dangerous game of politics,” she tweeted in March. The AIPAC PAC responded to her criticism and others’ by saying that it would make its endorsements purely on the strength of candidates’ records on Israel and in a bi-partisan spirit.

Doug Emhoff: Being ‘second gentleman’ brought me closer to Judaism (JTA) – Douglas Emhoff told a group that brings Jews and Muslims together that his history-making role as the second gentleman and as the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president has brought him closer to Judaism. “I didn’t realize what a big deal it would be not only to the Jewish community and to faith communities but to myself,” Emhoff said Thursday at an iftar, or Ramadan breakfast, hosted by the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council. “It’s actually driven me closer to faith. It has opened my eyes to a lot of things.” Emhoff said he understood the significance of faith – and how unique it was for people of different faiths to work together – when he began traveling outside his Los Angeles bubble during his wife’s campaign and then as the second gentleman. “Coming from L.A. and working at an international law firm with Muslim partners and people of all different faiths, it’s something that was very natural to me,” he said. “Doesn’t Continued on page 29

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everyone care about equal rights. … Doesn’t everybody care about democracy and the rule of law?” he added. “I realized that, you know, my own experiences that I’ve had may not be the same experiences that everyone else has had.” Emhoff said it became his mission “to advocate and to show people that this is how it is done, [that] our communities can work together.” Emhoff has said a highlight of his role was placing the first mezuzah on the doorpost of the vice presidential residence.

Russian Jewish billionaire pledges $100 million for Ukrainian refugees (JTA) – Yuri Milner, a Russian Jewish philanthropist who made billions in Silicon Valley with early support from the Kremlin, is pledging to donate $100 million for new efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees. Unlike other billionaires whose wealth is linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Milner has managed to avoid Western sanctions meant to punish Russia for waging war on its neighbor, and his latest donation serves to further distance him from the Kremlin. A dual Russian and Israeli citizen who lives in California, Milner, and his wife Julia established the Breakthrough Prize to recognize and promote scientific achievement. But they have also become significant donors to various causes in Israel, including Magen David Adom, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Peres Center for Peace. The new Ukrainian relief efforts, called Tech for Refugees, involve a partnership between the Milner’s Breakthrough Prize Foundation and private companies, including short-term housing from Airbnb, hospital beds and emergency medical equipment from Flexport and, May 3, 2022


from music streaming service Spotify. Fellow Russian Jewish philanthropists like Roman Abramovich and the trio of billionaires behind the Genesis Prize were slapped with Western sanctions in recent weeks, even after announcing donations for relief efforts in Ukraine. But their ties to Putin are seen as far more immediate and recent than those of Milner, who says he broke off ties with the Kremlin years ago.

Ukraine Holocaust survivors land in Israel (JTA) – Multiple planes carrying Holocaust survivors fleeing the violence in Ukraine landed in Israel on Wednesday, the eve of Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust remembrance day marked by Jewish communities worldwide. An estimated 300 to 500 Holocaust survivors have now taken refuge in Israel since the start of the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24. “I never thought that this is what would happen again – that at my age I would have to again flee a war and again hear the sounds of bombs going off around me,” said Ninel Zhilinska, an 88-year-old survivor on the flight, according to The Times of Israel. “I was a refugee in 1941 and now I’ve become a refugee again.” Multiple survivors of Nazi atrocities during World War II have died amid Russia’s onslaught. The final plane carrying survivors on Wednesday night departed from Moldova, and the passengers were greeted by Israel’s Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata at Ben Gurion Airport. “It is symbolic. During the Holocaust, they didn’t have a place to run. Today, there is a strong Jewish home,” she said.

Mother of terrorist: ‘I will be happy if all my children are martyred’ (JNS) The mother of “martyred” Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Muhammad Jahjouh said in an interview on Al-Quds Al-Youm TV (Islamic Jihad-Gaza) that

she prays for her entire family, including her grandchildren, to be “martyred” for the sake of Allah. According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the mother said in the April 16 interview that she approves of the “path” taken by her eldest son. “I always pray that I, your father, brothers, daughters, and sons … that all of you become martyrs for the sake of Allah, that when death comes for us, we will all be martyrs for the sake of Allah,” she told him prior to his death, as stated in the interview. She added: “I am proud of Muhammad, obviously. Allah be praised, all my sons are religious. They are all good. By Allah, if all my children and grandchildren are martyred for the sake of Allah, it will make me happy.”

Muslim delegation participates in 2022 March of the Living (JNS) A Muslim group including participants from across the Arab world took part for the first time in the International March of the Living, the annual 1.9-mile walk from the concentration camp at Auschwitz to the extermination camp of Birkenau in Poland to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. The precedentsetting move was the brainchild of Sharaka, an organization of young Israeli and Gulf State leaders formed in the wake of the Abraham Accords. The 18-member delegation, including social-media influencers, professors and journalists, came from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Israel, said Amit Deri, founder and CEO of Sharaka. Deri said the idea to participate in the March of the Living, which takes place annually on Israel’s Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, came to fruition gradually, starting with a trip in December 2020 for young Arab influencers to Israel, in which they visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Holocaust. “After that visit, they said they

wanted to listen to a Holocaust survivor, who would tell them the story. So last year, we held a Zoom event with more than 250 people from all over the Arab world. It was during COVID-19, and we couldn’t come here,” Deri told JNS on the grounds of Auschwitz. “We promised that the next time it would be possible to be here on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we would come,” he said. Deri attributes the timing of the visit to the Abraham Accords agreements signed between Israel and several Muslim states in the fall of 2020. “It has allowed people to express themselves. They feel more comfortable than they did three or four years ago,” he said, adding that the Muslim participants are “definitely” taking a risk and could face backlash in their home countries. “They’re brave to do it, and we appreciate them for doing so.” One delegation participant, Rawan Osman, told JNS of her own dramatic transition, from having a “panic attack” when she first saw religious Jews after moving to Germany to becoming the only Arab at the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Originally from Damascus, Osman grew up in Lebanon, the child of a Syrian father and Lebanese mother. She was taught that Jews are the enemy. “It took many years of reading and not necessarily sharing what I thought with my own family, especially on my mother’s side, who are Shi’ites and influential in Lebanon,” she said. She said anti-normalization laws exist in Lebanon and Syria where even person-to-person relations with Israeli Jews are criminalized.

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News and Jewish Community Update

Yom HaShoah in a time of rising antisemitism

April 27 marked Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. A day before the start of Yom HaShoah the ADL released a sobering report noting that we are in the midst of a severe rise in antisemitism. 77 years after six million of our people were murdered only because there were Jews antisemitism is flourishing once again. As has been the case so many times throughout our long history, antisemitism is once again being STEVEN SCHIMMEL, fueled by those EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR peddling in Jewish conspiracies and those who use Jewish stereotypes. And it is spread by those who claim that Jews are pushing a COVID agenda,

LIFE & LEGACYTM in Central Massachusetts Finishes Year 5 329 local donors have made 455 legacy commitments to support the Central Massachusetts Jewish community. These commitments are part of a collaborative endowment building effort that includes 10 Jewish organizations and congregations, the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY initiative, the goal of which is to provide future financial stability. These 329 donors have committed an estimated $13 million to the Jewish community in Central Mass. Of that,

(Jewish communities throughout Europe faced pogroms during the Black Plague of the Middle Ages). It is also everpresent in the words of political activists who misappropriate and trivilize the horrors of the Holocaust to score points during election campaigns, and by those who misrepresent reasons for US support of Israel, and who unjustly villify Israel. The ADL reports all of this has increased, and has grown in severity. We must honor the legacy of the Six Million by being faithful to our pledge to never allow these atrocities to happen again. As a community we are unwavering in our stance against antisemitism, we are aggressive and united. On the same day the ADL report was published Jewish Federation convened a meeting at the Federation office with the head of every department in the City of Worcester. The Police Chief,

Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, and City Manager, and Fire Chief as well as our Community Security Liaison were on hand to discuss ways to tackle this problem. In recent weeks we have met with law enforcement officials and have continued our outreach and relationship building efforts. We are fortunate in Central MA that we are supported and welcomed in our communities. And with a united front we will continue to push back against those who engage in antisemitism and those who seek to do us harm.

nearly $4 million has already been received. In addition, our partner organizations have received the training and made the commitment to established legacy giving programs and keep them running. These programs will continue to strengthen the Jewish community for decades to come. Most importantly, all of this was done by the work of about 50 volunteers, a financial commitment of about $200,000 from Federation and grants from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. “We’ve seen every single one of our partner organizations grow in

some way because of this program. It has brought us together and made us stronger,” said Leah Shuldiner, coordinator for the LIFE & LEGACY program at JFCM. “It’s an incredible experience to be part of the growth and the future sustainability of a Jewish community with such history and roots as Central Mass. It is so inspiring to connect with our legacy donors and hear their Jewish stories.” Our legacy programs are ongoing and growing every day. If you want to be a part of LIFE & LEGACY, or if you just want to find out more, contact Leah at to start the conversation.

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YAD Shabbat Passover Lunch

LIFE & LEGACY is an initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) that assists communities across North America, through partnerships with Jewish Federations and Foundations, to promote afterlifetime giving to build endowments that will sustain valued organizations and vibrant Jewish communities for the next generation and beyond. Through training, support, and monetary incentives, LIFE & LEGACY motivates Jewish organizations to secure legacy gifts, steward donors, and integrate legacy giving into the philanthropic culture of the Jewish community.

Prepping over 200 Seder in the Box gifts and Passover meals for Community Passover Drivethru.

May 3, 2022


Chuck Schumer: Russian foreign minister’s comments are ‘sickening’ BY RON KAMPEAS

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader and the most senior elected Jewish official in U.S. history, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s claims that Hitler had Jewish blood and that Jews were prone to antisemitism were “sickening.” “As the Russian army continues slaughtering civilians, Foreign Minister Lavrov did what many others who now reside in the dustbin of history have done before him – resort to antisemitism to defend his nation’s actions,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Monday on the Senate floor. Schumer joined the nearuniversal condemnation of Lavrov’s remarks from Israeli leaders, Jewish groups and Holocaust remembrance institutions.

Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin have sought to neutralize outrage at the war they are waging in Ukraine by claiming their mission is to remove “Nazis” from power. Most of the world’s skepticism of that claim is bolstered by the fact the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish. Lavrov, confronted with that information on Italian TV, said he said he believed Adolf Hitler also had Jewish origins. He further claimed that Jews themselves say that other Jews can be the biggest antisemites. “When they say that Nazification cannot exist if there are Jews [in charge]: In my opinion even Hitler had Jewish origins so it means absolutely nothing,” Lavrov said. “Jewish wise people said already a long time ago that the

Russia accuses Israel of supporting ‘neo-Nazi regime’ in Ukraine (JNS) Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused Israel of supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv,” deepening a controversy he sparked two days earlier by claiming Hitler had “Jewish blood.” Asked by Italian media on Sunday how a Nazi regime such as Russia claims exists in Ukraine could be headed by a Jewish president such as Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded, “So what if Zelensky is Jewish? Hitler had Jewish blood.” Lavrov went on to state that “the greatest anti-Semites were Jews.” His remarks caused an uproar in Israel, with both Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issuing harsh condemnations. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov was also summoned to Jerusalem. “This angers me not just as foreign minister, but also as the son of a father who was in the Budapest ghetto,” said Lapid on Monday. “Jews didn’t put him in the ghetto. Nazis put him there. The Nazis persecuted the Jews and killed six million Jews. The Ukrainians are not Nazis. Only Nazis were Nazis. Only they dealt with systematic destruction of the Jewish people.” In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Lapid’s remarks were “anti-historical” and explained “to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv,” Reuters reported. The statement reiterated that Zelensky’s Jewish roots did not preclude Ukraine from being run by neo-Nazis. “Anti-Semitism in everyday life and in politics is not stopped and is, on the contrary, nurtured [in Ukraine],” the statement said, according to the report. Leaders from several Western nations have denounced Lavrov’s comments, and Zelensky has accused Russia of having forgotten the lessons of World War II, according to Reuters. May 3, 2022


biggest antisemites are Jewish themselves.” Schumer, who has said Russia is committing a “holocaust” in Ukraine, said he was sickened by Lavrov’s remarks. “Mr. Lavrov’s comments are just sickening and deserve to be condemned by all who oppose

the dangers of antisemitism,” Schumer said. “They tap into the very old and very poisonous notion that the Jewish people themselves were the architects of the worst human atrocities of modern history, even when they were aimed at Jews themselves.”

B’nai Mitzvah GABRIEL CARLIN, son of Jessica and Benjamin Carlin, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 14, at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, Conn. MOLLY CARLIN, daughter of Jessica and Benjamin Carlin, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 14 at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, Conn. BARAK GOLDBERG, son of Lance Goldberg and Deborah Zuckerman, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 7, at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. HANNAH JANECEK, daughter of Judy and Richard Janecek, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 7 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Westborough, Mass. GABRIEL KISINEVSKI, son of Courtney Weinberg, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 7 at Sinai Temple in Longmeadow, Mass. DREW MacGILPIN, son of Elana and Scott MacGIlpin, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 7 at Temple Sinai in Newington, Conn. MOLLY SILVERMAN, daughter of Ana Davis and David Silverman, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 14 at Temple Sinai in Newington, Conn. JACK WEBER, son of Lindsey and Michael Weber, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on May 14 at Sinai Temple in Longmeadow, Mass.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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Poems about the war in Ukraine


lison Stone was inspired to write poetry by her grandmother, Connecticut poet and painter Janet Cohn z”l. “My grandmother was passionate about politics and important causes, but she kept this passion separate from her artistic works,” notes Stone. “For years, I did the same, but then I realized that, even though it’s easy to write bad political poems and hard to write good ones, I had to try.” She wrote “Self-Portrait March 2022” and her latest poem, “Russian Soldiers Plant Landmines in Ukrainian Cemeteries.,” about the war in Ukraine.

To date, Stone, a licensed psychotherapist with private practices in New York City and Nyack, New York, has published seven full-length collections, including They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. See Stone’s work at www. www.stonetarot. com. May 3, 2022


Self-Portrait March 2022 BY ALISON STONE

Warring nations mingle in my blood – Russia, Germany, Ukraine, all the greatgreat somebodies who boarded ships pulled toward America’s promisepaved streets. Their passports all stamped Jew. My heart’s a non-fungible token, encrypted. Needing heat. My eyes hold boat rides on rivers through glittering cities. My finger’s locked as though stuck on a gun. Daily, my legs take me the same loop – kitchen, bathroom, office, street. The mountain dwarfs me as expected. My hands reach for passing dogs. Clients tell me their dreams – wolves, staircases, snow, an open window, terror jumbled with desire. Symbols giving form to need. Outside, premature crocuses open dumbly, unaware of the forecasted storm. The news offers its collection of horrors. How easily beauty is bombed into meme. What are you doing about it? the first spring birds chirp, and no matter what I stammer, a fat brassy crow caws not enough.

Russian Soldiers Plant Landmines in Ukrainian Cemeteries BY ALISON STONE

Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead. Strategy is a cold, barren thing.

Which commands must be obeyed, which ignored? An army is made up of people. Strategy is a cold, barren thing, measuring success in numbers of stopped hearts. An army is made up of people, some generous, some mean. All want to live. Measure success in numbers of stopped hearts. Count the empty places at tables – Some generous, some mean, all people want to live. Children starving in basements eat their hope. Count the empty places at tables, the houses bombed to bloodstreaked rubble. Children starving in basements eat their hope. How inconvenient is the call to help? So many houses bombed to blood-streaked rubble. Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead. How inconvenient is the call to help? Which commands do we obey and which ignore?


Outside our thick locked door, the air grows cold. Fall plays songs of loss. For an encore, cold. Cascade of tangerine and neon pink – The dying sun departs in splendor. Cold nights for the too-long married. The furnace breaks. More than metaphor – the air grows cold.

the tiresome raven’s Nevermore, cold and final. Waves swallow the sand. Sun sets. How long will stubborn swimmers ignore cold? The power of love versus the might of power. Who’s stronger, Venus or Thor? Cold, hot, cold, hot -- Our wounded planet revolts. Flood. Drought. Plastic-filled whales wash ashore. Cold. Grandma’s crooked fingers, Cossack-blue eyes. Gold chai she always wore. The air grows cold near gravestones. Too late to learn her secret Anatevka dreams. East wind brings more cold. Ukrainian bride strips off her wedding gown, puts on the uniform of war. Cold metal in her hand. Poets sip the Green Fairy, enter delicious stupor, cold. The old unfold chairs and umbrellas. Teens sprawl tanning on the sand, all languor, cold beauty. Truckers wave swastika flags. Books are burned in churches. The hungry implore cold gods. In Stone’s empress daydream, two laws: Have mercy. Plant seeds before the air grows cold.

Poe writes his dead love back to him, despite Southern New England Jewish Ledger


WHAT’S HAPPENING A calendar of events throughout Connecticut and Western & Central Massachusetts. Local Jewish community organizations are invited to submit events to the calendar. Events must be received one week prior to the bi-weekly publication of the Ledger. Send submissions to Ledger editor in chief Judie Jacobson at judiej@jewishledger. com. We reserve the right to edit calendar items.

May TUESDAY, MAY 3 Woodbridge, CT – Yom Hazikaron ceremony for the fallen soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and the victims of terror in Israel, led by Tal and Yoav from Israel at Your Doorstep; 6:30 p.m.; at the Greater New Haven Jewish Community Center, 360 Amity Road. This event will be held in person and on Zoom. Information: jewishnewhaven. org/events. FREE, registration requested.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4 Woodbridge, CT – Yom Ha’atzmaut, Celebrate Israel’s 74th birthday with live music from Avi from TLV, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Special guests from Israel – Yoav and Tal – will join in the celebration; 7 - 9 p.m., at the Greater New Haven JCC, 360 Amity Rd. In-person event only. FREE

THURSDAY, MAY 5 Southbury, CT – Love & Knishes Luncheon presents a musical performance with Jack Lynn, aka JackSingsDino, at the Jewish Federation of Western CT, 444 Main St. N. Lunch at 12 p.m., followed by the performance at 1 p.m. For information, visit jfed. net. Cost: $10. Stamford, CT – Celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 74th birthday at the Stamford JCC, 1035 Newfield Ave., 5 - 8 p.m. Enjoy


live music TLV band, food, crafts and more. Tickets: In advance, $5 person; $15/family; At the door, $10/person, $30/family at the door. To register of for more information:

FRIDAY, MAY 6 Florence, MA – Tot Shabbat Family Service at Beit Ahavah, 130 Pine St. (Zoom option available) led by Marlene Rachelle and Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, a musical hour celebrating Shabbat and holidays for kids age 7 and younger, and their families, grandparents and friends. This month falls on LGBTQ Pride Shabbat – wear your rainbow, sparkly best! 5-5:45 p.m. For in-person attendance, register at JAZiBmQiQ9QBFFkZA. Masks for ages 2+ required; ages 5+ must be vaccinated. For Zoom, register at: meeting/register/

SATURDAY, MAY 7 Springfield, MA – Tot Shabbat at Temple Beth El with Marlene Rachelle featuring Shabbat music and fun for children ages 6 and younger. Virtual link: sklc@ Information: New Haven, CT – First Fridays at Five-Thirty, an early, childfriendly Kabbalat Shabbat service at Congregation Beth El - Keser Israel, 85 Harrison Street. Though not specifically a children’s program, this service features singing and discussions that are appealing for kids. For information:

MONDAY, MAY 9 Stamford, CT – UJF Rothschild Society presents “Connected Capitalism: How Jewish Wisdom Can Transform You” with David Weitzner, author of a book by the same name; moderator, Claudia Kraut. At 215 High Ridge Rd, Stamford (The Waterstone on High Ridge) Find out what a postCovid work world will look like; draw from classic teachings of

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

Judaism to learn how to positively transform our workplaces and our working lives; learn how to empower the disenchanted to build a stable future in a world of crony capitalism, global pandemics, racial injustice, and social disconnect. Sponsored by UJF of Greater Stamford. Info:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 Greenwich, CT – “Denim, Boots & Bites,” 7 p.m. An evening honoring Michael Delikat and Bryanna Kallman and celebrating Jewish Greenwich; small plates, line dancing instruction. Dress casual (denim and boots suggested) UJA-JCC Greenwich, One Holly Hill Lane. info@ujajcc. org. Tickets: $375

THURSDAY, MAY 12 New Haven, CT (Zoom) – Conversation with Artist Suzanne Neusner, who will talk about her current exhibition at Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel, called “Fiber Arts.” At 7:30 p.m. Neusner focuses on abstract imagery through a variety of weaving and quilting techniques. Her work includes playful reinventions of traditional Jewish themes such as matzoh covers. She draws inspiration from her natural surroundings in the Hudson Valley. The exhibit is on display at BEKI until June 4. For Zoom link:, (203) 389-2108 x114.

SATURDAY, MAY 14 Sherman, CT – The JCC in Sherman presents “The City Without Jews,” a 1924 expressionist film based on the satirical novel by Hugo Bettauer. World-renowned musicians Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin will play their collaborative score that has brought audiences to their feet at Lincoln Center and dozens of other venues in the US and Europe. At 7 p.m. Reservations required. Tickets: $20/members, $25/nonmembers. To be held indoors, Masks required regardless

of vaccination status. At JCC in Sherman, 9 Rte. 39 South. Information:,, (860) 355-8050

SUNDAY, MAY 15 Stamford CT – Annual Friendship Day & Walk for individuals with special needs, sponsored by Friendship Circle of Fairfield County. At Westhill High School. For more information, contact Malya Shmotkin,

SUNDAY, MAY 15 Springfield, MA – Bill & Lynne Foggle Great Issues Lecture Series presents journalist Bari Weiss, at Beth El Temple, 979 Dickinson St., 11 a.m. – 12 noon, in-person and live-streamed. Weiss has been a staff writer and editor for the Opinion section of The New York Times, an oped editor at the Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at Tablet; she regularly appears on shows like The View, Morning Joe and Real Time with Bill Maher; and is the author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism, a 2019 National Jewish Book Award.. livestream link: https://player2.streamspot. com/?playerID=b2c1832d. FREE Westborough, MA – Community celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day at Congregation B’nai Shalom, 12 noon, with Israeli lunch, winetasting, drum circle, dancing and activities for the whole family. Israel Bonds will also honor Robin and Andy Feld and junior honoree EmmaChaya LiptonPraver. Reservations: https:// Suggested donation: $18

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 New Haven, CT – Lag BaOmer Kumsitz in the courtyard of Congregation Beth El - Keser Israel, 85 Harrison Street, at 8 pm. The program will include niggunim – melodies with no words – as well as traditional American and Jewish songs. In May 3, 2022


case of rain, the kumsitz will be delayed until the next evening. For information: Stamford, CT – Spring Dinner with guest speaker Corie Adjmi, author of the short story collection Life and Other Shortcomings, which won an international book award, an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, and an American Fiction Award. Her forthcoming book, The Marriage Box, will be published August 2022. Hosted by United Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Rd.To register: or call Diane Sloyer at (203) 3211373 x105.

SUNDAY, MAY 22 Hamden, CT – The annual Cantor’s Concert hosted by Congregation Mishkan Israel will feature Rabbi Joe Black of Temple Emanuel in Denver, Colorado and a pioneer of Jewish contemporary music. Rabbi Black has recorded five criticallyacclaimed albums of Jewish music, two children’s books, a songbook and two videos. He was named by Moment magazine as one of the top ten male performers in American Jewish music, as well as one of the top ten children’s performers in American Jewish music. To be held at Mishkan Israel, 785 Ridge Rd. A pre-concert patio reception at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by an indoor concert in the historic sanctuary at 7 p.m. Donations: $18 - $54, includes a pre-concert reception. For information: cantors-concert. West Hartford, CT – “A Taste of Today: An Evening of Gratitude” is the theme of the Young Israel of West Hartford fundraiser to be held 5 to 7 p.m. in the Manell JCC President Courtyard, 335 Bloomfield Ave. Presentation of the Young Israel Communal Gratitude Project, including special thanks to the synagogues May 3, 2022


Medical Advisory Committee: Drs. Carolyn Ganeles, Raffi Jesin, Steven Luger and Tali Porat. Tickets: $16/per message or two for 50.

soccer and kayaking on the Connecticut River. Cost: $200 ($160 if registered by May 1). Financial aid is available; no teen is turned away


Registration open for unique Israel mission led by 2 CT federations

Southbury, CT – Love & Knishes Luncheon presents a musical performance by the guitar and violin duo Alyce and Gary Bertz, aka Hot Acoustics, playing everything from jazz to popular tunes at the Jewish Federation of Western CT, 444 Main St. N. Lunch at 12 p.m., followed by the performance at 1 p.m. For information, visit Cost: $10.

June MONDAY, JUNE 13 Stamford, CT – The Golden Ticket Series presents “Monday in the Library with Sondheim,” songs from some of his most iconic musicals, Including “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Company” and more; Broadway legend Jack Viertel narrates the history behind the songs of this iconic Jewish composer. At 7 p.m. Hosted by UJA-JCC Greenwich at the Ferguson Library. Tickets: In advance, $60; at the door, $60. For information:

In celebration of Israel’s 75th birthday, the Jewish Federations of Greater Hartford and Greater New Haven, both in Connecticut, are leading “Choose Your Own Adventure,” a community trip to Israel to take place March 9 – 16, 2023. The unique excursion offers participants the opportunity to choose from five flexible tracks, each one geared toward a different topic and level of Israel experience. “This trip is going to be exciting on so many different levels,” said Juanita Moss of West Hartford, Connecticut, who is co-chairing the trip along with her husband, Yitz (Isaac), and Lauren and David Hass of Orange, Connecticut. “I have spent a lot of time in Israel, but I am very excited for this trip. It will be a different and unique experience,” added Yitz Moss. “With five tracks to choose from, you can customize every

MONDAY, JUNE 20 – FRIDAY, JUNE 24 West Hartford, CT – JTConnect, a program for Hartford area Jewish teens, will host the group’s Second Annual Summer of Service, June 20 - 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The week-long program is geared towards incoming 7th-10th graders who want a meaningful and social Jewish experience. The day will start with teens working on service projects with local organizations that serve people and communities in need. After their morning of work, the teens will enjoy an afternoon of interactive actives, such as navigating a high ropes course, playing bubble



owing to a lack of funds. Drop-off and pick-up from Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford For information: or contact

day of your trip and someone else will make all the arrangements for you – an opportunity that is not available very often.” The tracks include an introductory itinerary for firsttime visitors to the Jewish homeland, plus special itineraries focusing on geopolitics of the Middle East, arts and culture, food and wine, and technology and innovation. Travelers are free to switch tracks from one day to the next – and every itinerary provides an insider’s view of Israel with VIP access to sites and experts. The trip will also feature kosher meals for all and deluxe accommodations at some of Israel’s finest hotels. “This trip will be a top-notch, five-star experience,” said Lauren Hass. “We’re going to stay in the best hotels, we’re going to go to the best restaurants, and we’re going to have access to the most incredible people.” Registration for the trip is now open, and an early bird discount is available for Greater Hartford and New Haven families through June 1. All the details are available on the trip’s official website at https://israel-adventure-2023. Interested community members are also invited to attend a Zoom info session on Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. To register for the info session, visit IsraelTripInfo516. “We’ve been to Israel twice, and you learn something new every time,” noted David Hass. “We’re hoping you’ll join us in 2023 and experience all that Israel has to offer.” Registration for the trip is now open at


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THE KOSHER CROSSWORD MAY 3, 2022 “Star Crossed Couples”

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“You shall love your friend as yourself – I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18)


hese five Hebrew words – “You shall love your friend as yourself” – are designated by the renowned talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva as “the greatest rule of the Torah” (J.T. Nedarim 30b), the bedrock of our entire ethical system. And 50 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, Rabbi Akiva was considered one of the most illustrious of the rabbinical decisors, who led a major talmudic academy which could boast a student body of tens of thousands. Indeed, it became the first yeshivat hesder in history, whose students fought valiantly against the Roman conquerors, hoping to restore the Holy City of Jerusalem, to enthrone their General Bar Kokhba as King Messiah, to rebuild the Holy Temple and to usher in the time of Redemption. Alas, the redemption was not to be; the kingdom of Bar Kokhba lasted only thr`ee and a half years; Bar Kokhba himself was killed and the aborted Judean rebellion ended in tragic failure. The Talmud (B.T. Yevamot 62b) records that 24,000 disciples of R. Akiva lost their lives due to askera, an Aramaic term which Rashi explains as a plague of diphtheria; but Rav Hai Gaon maintains much more logically that they died by the sword (sicarii is sword in Greek) in the Bar Kokhba wars as well as in the Hadrianic persecutions which followed the military defeat. The initial mourning period observed during these days of the counting of the omer – from the end of Passover until Lag Ba’omer (the 33rd day of the barley offering, when the disciples of R. Akiva stopped May 3, 2022


dying) – memorializes the death of these valiant young martyrs, so anxious to restore Jewish sovereignty in Judea. And the Talmud, morally interested in discovering an ethical flaw that might justify the failure of this heroic attempt, maintained that it was “because the students of R. Akiva did not honor each other properly, that they were involved in petty jealousies and rivalries causing them to face their Roman foes from a position of disunity and internal strife (Yevamot, ibid). But how could this be? After all, R. Akiva’s major teaching was that “you shall love your friend as yourself – this is the greatest rule of the Torah.” Could it be that the foremost Master – Rosh Yeshiva R. Akiva, did not succeed in inculcating within his disciples his most important maxim, the one teaching which he considered to be quintessential Torah? Allow me to suggest a number of responses. First of all, one can say that it was only after the death of the 24,000, and the understanding that the tragedy occurred because of their “causeless animosity” amongst themselves (sinat hinam), that R. Akiva began to emphasize loving one’s fellow as the greatest rule of the Torah. Secondly, the Talmud (B.T. Gittin 56b) has R. Akiva apply a shockingly disparaging verse to Rav Yohanan ben Zakkai, who close to seven decades earlier had left the besieged Jerusalem at the 11th hour to stand before Vespasian and trade away sovereignty over Jerusalem and hegemony over the Holy Temple, for the city of Yavne and the Sanhedrin of 71 wise elders: “oft-times God moves wise men backwards and turns their wisdom into foolishness” (Isaiah 44:25). You must remember that Yohanan ben Zakkai had been the teacher of the two teachers of R. Akiva: R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus

(R. Eliezer Hagadol) and R. Yehoshua ben Hananya. And R. Akiva was not attacking ben Zakkai’s ideology but he was rather disparaging his persona, very much ad hominem: “God had moved ben Zakkai backwards and transformed his wisdom into foolishness!” No matter how many times R. Akiva might have emphasized “Love your neighbor as yourself,” this one-time “put-down” of a Torah scholar by R. Akiva unfortunately may have caused his disciples to overlook his general teaching and learn from his harsh words. Herein lies a crucial lesson for every educator: our students learn not from what we tell them during our formal lessons but rather from what they see us do and hear us say, even, and especially if, we are speaking off the record. And finally when Hillel, a disciple of R. Akiva, is approached by a would-be convert and challenged to teach him the entire Torah “while he stands on one leg,” Hillel responds by rephrasing R. Akiva’s Golden Rule in more practical terms by teaching you what not to do: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your friend. This is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary; go out and study it…” (B.T. Shabbat 31a) And similarly, the same sage Hillel teaches, “Do not judge your friend until you actually stand

in his place” (Mishna Avot 2:5), which is another way of saying that you must not judge your brother unless you had been faced by the same trial he had to face – and had responded differently. You must love your friend by seeing him and judging him as though you were truly standing in his place. Perhaps when R. Akiva initially judged R. Yohanan ben Zakkai’s “deal” with Vespasian, he (R. Akiva) was not in the midst of a brutal and losing battle against Rome; at that earlier time it was comparatively easy for him to criticize ben Zakkai as having given up too much too soon. However, once he himself became involved in what eventually was the tragic debacle of Bar Kokhba against Rome, he very well might have taken back his critical attribution of Isaiah’s verse to Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, who was certainly vindicated by subsequent Jewish history. Yes, we must love our friends as we love ourselves, and one of the ways to fulfill this command is by refraining from judging our “friends” until we actually stand in their place. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, and founding rabbi of Efrat, Israel.

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Judith Creeger Bates, 74, of Longmeadow, Mass., died April 25. She was the wife of James Bates. Born in East Longmeadow, she was the daughter of Mitchell and Esther Creeger. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Stacy Bean and her husband David of Peabody, Mass., Seth Bates and his wife Jennifer of Holmes, N.Y., and Aaron Bates and his wife Rosa of Holmes, N.Y.; her brother Joel Creeger and his wife Janis of Longmeadow, Mass.; her sister Rosalynde Baker and her husband James, of Fishkill, N.Y.; and her grandchildren, Matthew Bean, Sarah Bean, Dylan Bates, Kyra Bates, Arya Bates, Sydney Bates and Oliver Bates.


Morton Bauman, 87, of Boynton Beach, Fla, died April 25. He was the husband of Lorraine Bauman. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of the late Irving and Esther Lieberberg Bauman. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Joel Bauman and his wife Nikki, Risa Goldblum and her husband Jeffrey, and Ellen Kennedy and her husband Matthew; his grandchildren. Jordan, Elyse, Aaron, Sara, Ray, Noah, Russell, and Stuart; his sister Doreen Spires and her husband Howard. He was also predeceased by his sister Sandra Pollack.


Samuel Gene Blonstein, 94, of Rockville, Md., died March 17. He was the widower of Lillian Blonstein. Born in Rockville, Conn., he was the son of the late Reuben and Lottie (Millstein) Blonstein. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He is survived by his children, Sherry Bedore and Bart Blonstein, both of Vernon; his grandchildren, Lindi Bedore, Weston Bedore and his wife Brittany, and Cailyn Blonstein and her fiancé Matthew Redding; and his greatgranddaughter Lily Bedore. He


was predeceased by his sister Rosalyn (Nancy) Novgrad.


Evelyn Fiedler, 93, of New Haven/ Woodbridge, Conn. She was the widow of Ernest Fiedler. She is survived by her children, Anita and Marc.


Herbert “Bud” Feldman, 89, died April 26. He was the widower of Muriel (Horowitz) Feldman. Born in New Haven, he was the son of the late Newton and Adele (Levin) Feldman. He is survived by his children, Karen Mendelsohn and her husband Lawrence of Cheshire, Conn., and Neil Feldman of Beacon Falls, Conn.; his grandchildren, Amy, Sarah, Alana, and Adam; his great-granddaughters, Leila and Danielle. He was the brother of the late Doris Libman, Elinore Fisher, Joyce Brown, and Jackie Cohen.


Edith “Eadie” (Mirlis) Gitlitz, 87, of Colchester, Conn., died April 14. She was the widow of Sidney Gitlitz. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was the daughter of the late Al and Regina Mirlis. She was an active member of Ahavith Achim Synagogue. She is survived by two daughters, Marcy Hutchinson and her husband, Peter, of Colchester, Conn., and Maureen Reid and her husband, Michael, of Seymour; and seven grandchildren. She was also predeceased by her daughter Karen; and her brother Seymour.


Irwin Herbert Gross, 91, of Lake Worth, Fla., died on his birthday, April 22. He was the husband of Lillian Levine Gross. Born in the Bronx, N.Y., he was the son of the late Eli and Mildred Gross. He served in the U.S Army during the Korean War (19501951). He is survived by his stepchildren, David (Debby) Dietch of Michigan, Jeffrey (Jody) Dietch of Orange, Conn., and Nancy (Chris)

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

Drenga of N.J. his sister Norma Kinberg; eight grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Harriet Alifanz.


Paul Later, 94, of West Hartford, died April 17. He was the widower of Sandra Later. Born in Hartford, he was the son of Mary and Sam Later. He is survived by his children, Jodi Silton, Don Later and his wife Carey, Andy Isenburg, and Michael Lloyd; his grandchildren, Rachel Silton, and Jordan Silton and his wife Kristen; three greatgrandchildren; and a sister Marjorie Shatz.


Sheila Gail Okun, 85, died April 16 in Dedham, Mass. She was the widow of David Okun. She was born in Hartford, Conn. She is survived by her children, Andrew and his wife Debra, Barry and his wife Pamela, Nancy and her husband David; her grandchildren, Alanna, Ari, Moriah, Jenna and her husband Andrew, Hannah, Tyler, Matthew, Eliza, and Henry; and her brother Fred Baxter and his wife Roselle.


Alan Porter of West Hartford died April 26. He was the husband of Barbara Porter. He was the son of the late Charles and Sarah Porter. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He is survived by his three children, Marci Porter Delahanty and her husband James, David Porter and his wife Kathleen, and Laurie Porter Borges and her husband Peter; his grandchildren, Sarah Delahanty Strow and her husband Michael, Max Delahanty and his wife Arielle Gumer, Noah Porter, Sophie Porter, Samantha Borges and Benjamin Borges; his great-grandsons, Jordan and Brandon; and a nephew.


Wendy Tucker Mendlinger Savin died April 22. She was the wife of David Savin and the widow of Norman Mendlinger. She was the daughter of Sy Tucker and the late Mickey Tucker. She is survived by her children Todd Mendlinger, Ross Mendlinger and his wife Stephanie, Peter Mendlinger and his wife Jodi, Josh Mendlinger and his wife Layna, Robert Savin and his wife Cristina, Candice Gross and her husband Daniel; her grandchildren, Solomon Mendlinger, Olivia and Nash Mendlinger, Noah and Cooper Mendlinger, and Lenox, Teddy and Monroe Savin, and Aliza and Ethan Gross; her sister Ronna Siegal and her husband Mark; and her brother, Larry Tucker and his wife Linda.


Philip Frederick Unger, 91, of Stamford, Conn. and Florida, died April 22. He was the husband of Marion Temple Unger. Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of the late Albert and Frieda Unger. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sons, Neal Unger of Somerset, N.J., Jonathan Unger of Palmyra, N.J., Douglas Unger and his wife Susan of Milford, Conn., and Albert Unger of Stamford, Conn. and his nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.


Reivan Zeleznik, 88, of Stamford, Conn., died April 22. He was the husband of Myra June Zeleznik. He was born in New York City. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, David Zeleznik and his wife Maxine Klein of Essex, Conn., and Debra Zeleznik and her wife Mary Wilkowski of Honolulu, Hawaii; and his sisters, Florence Kling and Lynn Lavender of Hartsdale, N.Y.

May 3, 2022


Shoah Foundation shares ‘lost’ testimony of Holocaust survivor who died in Mariupol BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – The 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova died near her home in Mariupol, Ukraine, April 4, while the city was under a devastating Russian attack. Her family believed that her survivor testimony died with her. Obiedkova died, reportedly cold and emaciated, while sheltering in the basement of a store near her home; her daughter and son-in-law fled the city after burying her. The house they shared burned during the attacks, and the VHS tape containing the video testimony Obiedkova had recorded of her Holocaust experience for the USC Shoah Foundation in 1998 was destroyed along with the family’s other possessions, her family told But on Tuesday, April 26, the Shoah Foundation posted Obiedkova’s 94-minute testimony in full to its YouTube page, honoring her by preserving her story in the digital realm. The testimony is entirely in Russian, and there are currently no subtitles. Obiedkova uses the interview to describe her childhood experiences navigating the war, commenting at one point, “We did not feel there would be a war. My mother had just taken a vacation.” Chabad offers more details on her life as shared by her family: A lifelong Mariupol resident, Obiedkova was 10 years old when the Nazis entered the port city in 1941. She hid in a basement while her mother was taken away, and was moved into a hospital by her non-Jewish father to evade further detection, posing as a Greek girl until the city was liberated by Soviet forces in 1943. She spent the rest of her life in Mariupol and was an active member of the city’s Jewish community, according to Mendel Cohen, the Chabad rabbi who serves the area. May 3, 2022


In the final days of her life, Obiedkova compared the Russian assault on her hometown to the Nazi occupation in 1941. After her death, her family buried her with the help of Rabbi Cohen before fleeing the city. The family had evacuated once before, during the 2014 conflict with Russia, but this time, Obiedkova’s daughter Larissa told Chabad, they would not be returning to Mariupol. Cnaan Liphshiz contributed to this report.


Orrin Hatch wrote a Chanukah song and wore a mezuzah around his neck BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – Orrin Hatch, who died Saturday, April 23, at the age of 88 from complications from a stroke after a lengthy political career that made him the longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate, was a devout Mormon from Utah. But he used his Mormon faith to style himself as a lifelong

friend of Jews and Israel – and the most visible way he showed his adoration was through the mezuzah he wore around his neck. “It is difficult for me to express the profound reverence I have for the Jewish people,” Hatch said in a May 14, 2018 speech on the floor of the

Senate given in support of then-President Donald Trump’s recent and controversial decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. “As a symbol of my respect, I wear a mezuzah around my neck. I have done so every Continued on page 44


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day for the past almost four decades – actually, more than four decades.” A mezuzah is a small box that contains a small scroll with Torah verses – and is normally put on the doorposts of Jewish homes. But some Jews have been known to turn them into necklaces. “The mezuzah reminds me of the affinity that I, as a member of the Mormon faith, hold for the Jewish people and their history,” Hatch continued in his speech. He drew a link between Israel and the state of Utah, which was settled by Mormons in the 19th century following the murder of their prophet Joseph Smith, who had the goal of founding a state in which to practice the faith – and polygamy – freely. “Both Israel and Utah were founded by religious minorities seeking refuge from persecution,” Hatch said. Hatch’s professed love of the Jewish people didn’t end with his mezuzah. An accomplished songwriter, he also once wrote and performed a Chanukah song at the request of Jewish journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. The song, “Eight Days of Hanukkah,” was later recorded for Tablet magazine and contained the lyrics: “A small band of people led the way / Through the darkest night they pray / Seeking religious freedom, they / Did more than just survive”. When Hatch retired from the Senate in 2019, after being first elected in 1976, he had served seven terms and played a large role in crafting legislation and securing Supreme Court justices that collectively pushed forward a heavily conservative identity. For the last four years of his career, as president pro tempore of the Senate, Hatch was third in the line of presidential succession. While in office, he made his pro-Israel bonafides well known. He traveled many times to Israel, where he delighted in taking part in Shabbat dinners and referred to the Israel-U.S.


bond as “unbreakable.” In 2011, after President Barack Obama proposed that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders as a pretext for peace negotiations, Hatch introduced a resolution calling such a proposal “contrary to the United States policy and national security.” When Netanyahu delivered his joint address to Congress in

2015 in an effort to pressure the United States to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Hatch was positioned right behind him on the dais. Hatch’s passing was mourned by the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, which tweeted that he “had a genuine affection for the Jewish state.” Nathan Diament, the executive director of the

Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JTA that Hatch was also key to passing religious freedom laws that benefited the Orthodox community. “He very much internalized that, in a way, he identified with the Jewish experience,” Diament said.

David Sharif, 24, was a ‘bright light’ among advocates for those with disabilities BY JULIA GERGELY

(New York Jewish Week) – David Sharif, an autism awareness advocate and motivational speaker, died suddenly this past weekend at the age of 24. Sharif, who was himself autistic, was known throughout the disability advocacy community for his determination and desire to raise awareness and promote inclusivity for those on the autism spectrum and others. According to friends, the cause of death was an epileptic seizure. Sharif was a speaker for RespectAbility, a non-profit led by those with disabilities that works to fight stigmas surrounding disabilities and create opportunities for people with disabilities to fully participate in society. Sharif spoke about disability inclusion in Jewish communities and contributed to the Jewish Disability Perspectives newsletter. “He was such a bright light to everyone he came across and lit up every room he walked into. The world will never be the same without his bright spirit and presence,” Andrew Hain, a fellow advocate for autism awareness, wrote on Facebook. Born in Los Angeles, Sharif graduated magna cum laude from Pace University in New York City in 2019, where he majored in political science.

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According to RespectAbility, he was the first student from his specialized day school in Sherman Oaks, California to attend a four-year university out of state. He was a member of the Model United Nations team and studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Ecuador. With the help of a research grant during his senior year, he conducted a study on the experience of students with autism spectrum disorders in post-secondary education, which he presented at several conferences. For his bar mitzvah project at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, California, Sharif wrote a speech on what it was like to be autistic, which he intended to present to his Hebrew school classmates. The speech made a huge impact, and, while still in middle school, Sharif traveled around to L.A.-area schools to present the speech and relay his experiences with autism. “As I started delivering my speech, I noticed a major turnaround in how students accepted me and my differences. They became more aware and empathetic towards those on the spectrum. Little did I know that these speaking engagements would lead to the gift of everlasting friendships

worldwide. They illuminated the power of self-advocacy, which transformed my life,” Sharif wrote in an essay for RespectAbility. The speech was turned into an animated claymation video, “My Name is David,” narrated by Sharif, which has been viewed more than 800,000 times. Sharif wrote a book of poetry titled The Empowerment of My Condition in which he recounted through a set of 20 poems how he overcame the challenges he faced during his childhood, like making friends. Sharif was a longtime camper and staff member at Camp Havaya, an inclusive Reconstructionist overnight camp in South Sterling, Pennsylvania. “He was a proud graduate of Pace University; a worldwide traveler; an avid bowler and basketball enthusiast; and a lover of ‘The Incredibles.’ He was a published author; an inspiring autism selfadvocate; a deeply committed community member; and an incredible friend. We will miss him dearly,” Rabbi Isaac Saposnik, the camp’s executive director, wrote in an email to the community. Sharif is survived by his parents Karen and Syud, his brother Ben, and his grandmother Myra. May 3, 2022



Magen David Adom builds world’s first subterranean blood bank



(JNS) Situated more than 50 feet underground in a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in the central Israeli city of Ramla is the Jewish state’s version of Fort Knox. While the vault at Fort Knox in Kentucky is used to store gold, the Israeli version, a 3,230 square foot safe room, was constructed as a blood storage vault. It will house Israel’s strategic inventory of 25,000 blood components, safeguarding it in times of war. The vault is a key part of Magen David Adom’s (MDA) new Marcus National Blood Services Center, the world’s first subterranean, shielded blood bank and processing center, designed to protect Israel’s strategic blood reserves from missile, chemical and biological attack, as well as from earthquakes. At a cost of $135 million, funded primarily by American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), the blood services center is to be inaugurated this week in the presence of distinguished guests and donors from Israel and abroad, and is planned to be fully operational by the end of the year. The facility was designed and built in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israel Defense Forces and the National Cyber Security Authority. The shielded area, which includes extra-thick concrete walls, blast doors and airlocks, as well as biological and chemical protection, extends across three subterranean floors. The current national blood services facility in Ramat Gan was built in the 1980s and is not large enough to meet the demands of Israel’s growing population or the country’s needs in times of war. In the past, May 3, 2022


during rocket attacks, MDA has had to cease processing blood and move the country’s blood reserves into a bomb shelter, interrupting blood production at a time when it might be needed most. During a press tour of the building last week, professor Eilat Shinar, director of MDA’s National Blood Services Division, told JNS that “the new blood services center is really a dream come true for us. It’s an important step for the safety of Israel’s blood supply.” She shared that MDA works “from vein to vein” as hospitals in Israel receive 97% of their blood supplies from MDA, while the IDF relies exclusively on MDA for 100% of its blood supply. Shinar said that the new facility “will allow us to provide increased blood services, with excellent quality, and in a very cutting edge, modern facility, that will enable us to accommodate the country for the next 20-30 years.” According to Shinar, the current blood services center processes around 270,000 units of blood per year, which she said would not be sufficient given Israel’s population growth. Through the use of advanced technologies and an automated laboratory blood testing system, she said the new facility will be able to produce double that amount. At the same time, Shinar added, “It’s only a matter of time before the current blood services center is hit [by a missile]. We’ve seen that they [the terrorists] can hit Tel Aviv.” Industrial and mechanical engineer Moshe Noyovitch, a senior AFMDA representative who oversaw the establishment of the center from its conception, led the group on a tour of the

three underground floors. With the vault on the lowest level, the second underground floor houses the Cord Blood Inventory, an R&D molecular lab and a chemical and biological warfare air-filtration system that enables all staff throughout the building to continue working and processing blood in the event of a chemical or biological attack. The first (uppermost) underground floor houses shielded blood bank laboratories, a transportation center and secure fleet parking, where all new ambulances will be equipped. To ensure the highest levels of protection, and continuity of operations in war scenarios, every critical system has a secondary system, including two ramps leading into the underground floors, four sets of elevators and four generators. Noyovitch told JNS that the facility’s construction, which has been in the works since 2017, was a unique project and one of the most challenging engineering endeavors he has ever been a part of. “Our focus involved three main parameters: capacity—to be able to process 500,000 blood units [annually], and during a scenario involving war we need to be able to produce 3,300 units daily, up from 1,000 units during normal times. “Secondly, the facility needed to meet the [World Health Organization] WHO blood-bank guidelines, so we studied other facilities, and adhered to the most up-to-date guidelines, and our facility is extremely modern in terms of technology and the process of blood collection and distribution. “Thirdly is our ability to shield and protect [the facility]. We worked in collaboration with

the National Security Council, the Home Front Command and many other agencies, because this is dubbed a ‘strategic facility’ by the government. We must be protected against conventional and unconventional threats [chemical and biological], earthquakes and even cyber threats … So while it’s a civilian facility, it’s an extremely protected one.” So how was Magen David Adom successful in raising the massive amount of funding for the new facility? “Blood is life,” Catherine Reed, CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom, told JNS. “I think for our donors this is something they could feel and touch and understand, because this building is critical for the people of Israel, and it is a strategic asset for the State of Israel, because without blood you can’t save people’s lives,” she said. “Whether it’s a patient being treated with chemotherapy, someone getting stem cell treatment, or obviously a terrorist attack or a war, we need to take care of Israel’s citizens and of course the soldiers, so for our donors this building has so much emotion tied into it,” she added. The center bears the name of Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot, and his wife, Billi. The American philanthropists donated $35 million to the project. Other prominent donors include Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable foundation of former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; Miriam and the late Sheldon Adelson; and the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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