Southern New England Jewish Ledger • May 17, 2022 • 16 Iyar 5782

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JEWISH LEDGER May 17, 2022 | 16 Iyar 5782 Vol. 94 | No. 10 | ©2022


Southern New England Jewish Ledger

(or not) May 17, 2022



Italian Gold

diamonds • gold • jewelry • watches • gifts


Southern New England Jewish Ledger





WELLESLEY May 17, 2022




MAY 17, 2022 • 16 IYAR 5782

Standing Up to Harvard (or not)




JEWISH LEDGER May 17, 2022 | 16 Iyar 5782 Vol. 94 | No. 10 | ©2022


Southern New England Jewish Ledger

(or not) May 17, 2022

A petition opposing the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement at Harvard reveals as much about the strength of intersectional ideology and how woke politics silences its critics, as it does about the stand of the signers.




B’nai Mitzvah




Arts & Entertainment


Around SNE


students fight the rising tide of antisemitism on campus.



A Chapter Closes

Up to No Good

Lower school students at the former Hebrew Academy in Bloomfield, CT are packing up for their move to West Hartford, where they will join upper school students at the New England Jewish Academy.

34 Author’s Corner

The ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents for 2021 has been released. And the news isn’t good.

The 2022 Pulitzer Prize in fiction went to The Netanyahus, a scathing, satirical novel by Joshua Cohen that imagines a visit by the family of the former Israeli prime minister to an American college town in the early 1960s.


27/29 Briefs




Torah Portion


What’s Happening




In Memoriam May 17, 2022


17 6 Conversation with…

Lisa Pleskow Kassow, who this month stepped down as head of Hartford’s Trinity Hillel, talks about her years at Hillel – and what can be done to help Jewish

Jewish Life in Ukraine

Mariupol, one of Putin’s main targets in Ukraine, has a rich and often tragic Jewish history.

CANDLE LIGHTING SHABBAT FRIDAY, MAY 20 Hartford New Haven: Bridgeport: Stamford:

7:51 p.m. 7:51 p.m. 7:52 p.m. 7:53 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!

Dog Walk 2022

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.

20/20 20/20 MEDIA | 20MEDIA20.COM



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May 17, 2022






As the former Hebrew Academy says goodbye to the past, the New England Jewish Academy plans for the future



EST HARTFORD, Connecticut – Next fall the lower school students of the New England Jewish Academy (NEJA) will at long last join their older counterparts at the Orthodox Jewish day school’s West Hartford building. Since NEJA was formed three years ago, the result of the merger of the Hebrew High School of New England and the Bess & Paul Single Hebrew Academy, the preschool through 7th-grade students have remained in the former Hebrew Academy building on Gabb Road in Bloomfield. Now, on June 12, NEJA will host “Saying Goodbye to Gabb Road,” a celebration of the Hebrew Academy building and campus, home of the elementary school since 1974. Students, alumni, parents and

faculty of Hebrew Academy and its predecessor, the Yeshiva of Hartford, will attend the family-friendly event and the community is invited as well. Also attending will be Rabbi Baruch Hilsenrath, the beloved principal of the school from 1986 to 2001. “It’s kind of themed after what [the annual Lag B’Omer] field day at the school used to be like, so we will have a barbecue, sports, games – just kind of a last hurrah of families getting together and saying goodbye to this building,” says Isaac “Yitz” Moss, who serves as NEJA co-president together with is wife, Juanita Moss. “People have such fond memories of that building that we wanted to give alumni and staff a chance to come back to the building. It holds so many memories for people,” adds Juanita. The Moss’s have two children in the upper school and

two in the lower school. After the fun and games, the work will begin as NEJA starts to “reconfigure” the West Hartford school building on Bloomfield Avenue so that it can comfortably house the entire student body of 120 students. “In the short term we’re going to do some internal renovations,” Yitz notes. “The school is two floors and the high school is spread out over the two, but it doesn’t really need all that space. So, the high school will be mostly on the top floor and the lower school will be on the bottom floor. … It’s really moving some walls around, not a major renovation. And then we’ll all be on one campus, which is exciting. “In the long term, we want to construct, a state-of-the-art new wing, especially for our preschool, kindergarten and first Continued on page 31


ADL Audit:

Antisemitic incidents in US hit historic heights in 2021


hroughout the decades the AntiDefamation League has been releasing the organization’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, there has never been a year like 2021. And the news isn’t good. In 2021, according to the ADL’s recently released annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the organization tracked 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the United States. This represents a 34 percent increase from 2020 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories: • Assaults: Antisemitic assaults increased 167 percent. A total of 88 incidents targeting 131 victims were categorized as assault, defined as cases where Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were targeted with physical violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic hatred. Eleven of the assaults in 2021 were perpetrated with deadly weapons. • Harassment: 1,776 incidents were categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. Acts of harassment increased 43 percent over 2020. • Vandalism: 853 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged along Continued on page 33

May 17, 2022


Southern New England Jewish Ledger



Conversation with Lisa Pleskow Kassow Set to retire, the head of Trinity Hillel reflects on 20 years spent establishing a thriving Jewish life for students on campus.



ARTFORD, Connecticut – Lisa Pleskow Kassow became executive director of Trinity Hillel in 2001 just as the brand new Zachs Hillel House was being constructed. All at once, Hillel went from being housed in a small nearby apartment in a two-family home on Crescent Street in Hartford to a beautiful 8,000-square-foot center on campus for Trinity students to gather for Jewish cultural, religious, social, and educational programming. “I always say about the new Zachs Hillel House – not so new anymore – that we went from the ridiculous to the sublime in one fell swoop,” Kassow laughs. Coming on board eight months before the building’s completion, Kassow arrived, set to establish a thriving center for Jewish life at Trinity. And she had the background to make that goal come to fruition. Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., at the age of 17, Kassow spent a year in Israel. She returned home and got her BFA in art from Carnegie-Mellon University. A painter by training, she fell in love with photography while in Israel and after making Aliyah in 1978, she worked in Jerusalem as a photojournalist, winning the Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism in 1990. She continued her work as a photographer after coming to Hartford and served as the director of adult education at the Greater Hartford Jewish


Community Center in West Hartford (now the Mandell JCC). She later became the JCC’s director of arts, culture, and education and founded the Hartford Jewish Film Festival, which continues today. Along the way she also received an MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Institute of Religion. She left the JCC to head up Trinity Hillel. During her tenure, she received the Exemplar of Excellence Award from Hillel International in 2017 and the 2008 Jewish Vision Award of the Charter Oak Cultural Center. Now 20 years later, Kassow is set to retire and the search for a new executive director is under way. Kassow, who lives in West Hartford with her husband Sam Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity, recently spoke to the Jewish Ledger about her years at Trinity Hillel and her plans for the future. JEWISH LEDGER: Did you grow up with a strong Jewish background? LISA KASSOW: Yes, I grew up in a highly identified Jewish home. My family was conservative. My grandfather was president of our synagogue. I was active as a kid in the synagogue. I was also a child of my time. I had a wanderlust and I wanted to see the world, and I was anxious to get out there quickly. I graduated from high school at 16. I told my parents that I wanted to go to France, because I had studied French in high school and loved the language, and my parents basically said, “Well, that’s nice. You can go to Israel.” I did my first year of university at Tel Aviv University at the age of 17. Let’s just say it wasn’t a particularly concentrated academic year for me. I thank my parents and

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


grandparents for instilling in me my love of Yiddishkeit and Jewish culture. Thinking about early influences, my mom was very involved in Jewish organizations locally. She was in charge of a large exhibit of Israeli art that came to Buffalo, and I remember being very affected by many of the works. Perhaps that was my first experience of bringing those interests together. I was about 10 or 11. You were a Jewish communal professional before coming to Trinity Hillel. What attracted you to that position? Well, it was an exciting opportunity. I had been working at the JCC for a number of years and had established the Hartford Jewish Film Festival. Basically, I felt that I had accomplished what I could there at that time. And to be honest, I was the mother of two small children and the job at the JCC was quite demanding. It required a lot of evenings away from home and it just became a little bit too much to handle. When the job at Trinity came along it seemed like a great opportunity for me and for our family. When you got to Trinity Hillel what were your goals? Before I began this role, the Trinity Hillel Advisory Board and college administrators had

already completed plans for the Zachs Hillel House with the architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Funding had been secured through the generosity of Henry Zachs, Alan Mendelson, and other generous donors to Trinity Hillel. The Zachs Hillel House began construction when I started. We officially opened it about eight months later. So, I simply came in with the house. My goal was to establish a strong program of Jewish life at Trinity for the Jewish students, and for the college as a whole. I wanted to establish a place where all students could feel comfortable learning about and participating in Jewish life, regardless of background. All the important elements were in place. There was already a major and minor in both Jewish Studies and Hebrew that had been established by faculty members in numerous disciplines who had come together to create an interdisciplinary program. The Jewish Studies Program at Trinity brings together faculty from the departments of history, religion, modern languages, and culture, etc. And we had this magnificent facility, the Zachs Hillel House. The best part of those early years was conceptualizing, along with motivated students, what kind Continued on page 25

May 17, 2022



May 17, 2022


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B’Nai Mitzvah JOEL GRUTZENDLER, son of Nicole Korda and Jaime Grutzendler, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 28 at Beth El-Keser Israel in Woodbridge, Conn. JACOB LEDERMAN, son of Aviva and Greg Lederman, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 21, at Temple Beth El in Stamford, Conn. SHAYLA McDONAGH, daughter of Robin Dunn-McDonagh, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 28 at Sinai Temple in Longmeadow, Mass. MARISOL ROBINSON, daughter of Allan Robinson, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 21 at Sinai Temple in Longmeadow, Mass.

MAREN SAXTON, daughter of Jessica Saxton, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 21 at Temple Sinai in Newington, Conn. AMANDA STERNBURG, daughter of Cheryl and Robert Sternburg, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 28 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Westborough, Mass. JULIA STERNBURG, daughter of Cheryl and Robert Sternburg, will celebrate her bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 28 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Westborough, Mass. BENJAM IN WINARSKY, son of Robyn and Mark Winarsky, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 28, at Temple Beth El in Stamford, Conn.

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Another German ‘mess’ has some crying foul and others keeping quiet BY ORIT ARFA

(JNS) “Deutschland 2021,” Germany 2021. That was the final, chilling line of GermanJewish rock singer Gil Ofarim, whose personal Instagram testimony about being discriminated against by a Westin hotel in Leipzig because he was wearing a Star of David pendant virally shocked the Jewish world. The Zentralrat (Central Council of Jews in Germany) led the immediate, outraged calls for an apology. The American Jewish Committee in Berlin spoke of the need for educational programs to combat antisemitism. A protest was held in front of the hotel, with hotel staff holding solidarity banners with Jewish and Muslim symbols alike (to some criticism). The employee in question was immediately put on leave. The problem was, Ofarim’s testimony was proven exaggerated at best and falsified at worst when hotel video cameras showed that he wasn’t wearing the star during check-


in. Judicial proceedings to get to the bottom of the “incident” are currently underway. Half a year later, a very similar refrain, “Germany 2022,” is sounding on social media, this time by a Lufthansa passenger who filmed an airline employee saying that it was “Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems” when he questioned why he and more than 100 other Jews were prevented from embarking on their connecting flight to Hungary from New York when only a handful of “problematic” Jews refused to comply with the European mask requirement. Lufthansa issued an apology on May 10, which didn’t satisfy Jewish groups. The AJC, for example, expressed dismay that it “makes no mention of the fact that it was Jews specifically who were denied boarding the plane.” What is different this time around is this misdeed wasn’t based on one-sided testimony

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or hearsay. If the Gil Ofarim incident was one of exaggerated or falsified antisemitism with an overwhelming reaction, the Lufthansa affair is transpiring to be an authentic case of antisemitism with an underwhelming reaction, at least on the part of the accused, the German government and the official German-Jewish body. This time, the Zentralrat— widely viewed as an arm of the German government—is decidedly not commenting on the affair. Until now, the office of Germany’s antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein has likewise not issued a statement on the matter, although he had weighed in on the Ofarim affair and initially supported the singer. Prominent Jewish-German writer Henryk Broder wrote a query to Klein with the satirical question: “Is such an ‘incident’ included in the official statistics and to which category is it

assigned: the right, the left or the politically diverse?” The insinuation: Government officials react to anti-Semtisim when politically or socially expedient. (His query and a JNS query have until now gone unanswered.) All this begs questions: Are Jewish groups being more cautious this time after their leap to conclusions after Ofarim’s testimony? What incidents are deemed worthy of outrage and demand an apology? And did the Ofarim incident spur those accused of antisemitism to proceed with less chest-beating when confronted with claims of antisemitism? “Gil Ofarim, despite the fact that the story is still not over, the story created a big uproar that has backfired. He did a lot of harm for all of us,” said Sacha Stawski, head of the proIsrael watchdog group Honestly Concerned. But he thinks the Lufthansa case is clear-cut. “I have not heard voices that insinuate that their actions or criticisms of their actions are being exaggerated,” said Stawski. “I think Lufthansa generalized here, and the media reports I’ve read and stories I’ve read and postings, etc., all reflect the fact that Lufthansa punished all Jews for the wrongdoing of some, and there is no way to apologize for that.” Against the backdrop of the mild or lack of official GermanJewish response, the Orthodox group, Agudath Israel of America, addressed its grievances directly with a letter to Lufthansa’s CEO, Carlson Spohr, expressing dissatisfaction with its generic apology. Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, head rabbi of Chabad headquarters in Berlin, engaged Spohr with a video call on May 11 in which the Lufthansa head May 17, 2022


pledged to fight antisemitism within the company and to initiate “sensitivity training” to avoid such incidents. “If an employee in a Lufthansa uniform behaves wrongly, concerns and allegations of antisemitism are quite legitimate. More sensitivity is expected from a German company,” said Teichtal in a statement. “I am pleased that the CEO of Lufthansa reacted so quickly, took a clear position and apologized.” Still, his office is waiting to see what actions will follow. One Lufthansa employee has been suspended, but many Jews still wonder if the decision to bar the passengers came from the higher-ups. “In order for a stewardess to kick 150 people off a flight and for her to call up this much police, with machine guns, she must have had backing from one person,” said Stawski.


Andreas Boldt, a non-Jewish pro-Israel activist and founder of the Israel-German friendship page, thinks the Lufthansa case and its reactions are disconnected to the fallout of the Gil Ofarim scandal. “In general, he did harm the Jewish cause, but not in a big style that now many people think all Jews are like that,” said Boldt. “I simply don’t see that, but maybe I’m wrong.” He suspected that Ofarim’s truthfulness from the start and

did not come to his defense, but this time, he clearly took a side. “You cannot forbid people to fly just because they don’t wear a mask or didn’t wear them properly, so I think the reason was that they were Jews,” said Boldt. “I didn’t read about such a thing for any other group, and I’m sure other people didn’t wear masks. That’s weird to me.” The silence of the Zentralrat, on the other hand, could be attributed to politics, particularly COVID-19 politics enshrined by

the establishment. “I don’t trust the story, and I don’t believe it was just about their masks. But because it’s about masks officially, the Zentralrat won’t say anything because masks are holy to the Zentralrat.” Other German-Jewish leaders interviewed could not explain the German silence on the federal level to an incident much more egregious and authentic than the Gil Ofarim affair.


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May 17, 2022


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What Harvard taught us about how antisemitism can go unchallenged BY JONATHAN S. TOBIN

(JNS) The late conservative author and journalist William F. Buckley famously said that, “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” A great many Americans who view the dominance of Ivy League-educated elites with skepticism – no matter whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans – shared his lack of faith in Harvard, as well as the implicit trust in the good sense of ordinary Americans that this famous jibe (which was, it should be noted, uttered by a proud graduate of Yale) represented. But the hold that Harvard has on the imagination of Americans who still believe it to be a pillar of educational excellence cannot be denied. It’s the school that the smartest students still aspire to attend and the one whose graduates, along with those of its competitors at the top of the higher-education pyramid, still have the easiest path to the best jobs, the most money and political influence. Events that

occur on the venerable campus in Cambridge, Mass., always generate an outsized if not entirely disproportionate amount of coverage and commentary. That’s the only way to explain why an editorial representing the views of the students who run the school’s Harvard Crimson newspaper about the BDS movement and Israel has become a cause célèbre. That’s especially true among Jewish outlets and audiences – a demographic slice of the country whose interest in education means that it can be counted on to regard anything concerning the school that claims to be the country’s best to be of great importance. The piece represents the sort of feeble reasoning, poor command of history and the facts – and less than exemplary command of the English language that ought to, among other things – lend credence to Buckley’s quip. It has generated an avalanche of responses from pro-Israel authors, including one eloquent and clearly courageous article from a Crimson editor



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who was a lone dissenter from the rest of its staff’s embrace of anti-Zionist canards. Suffice it to say that the willingness of these elite students to embrace the cause of a “free Palestine” and its implicit support for the cause of erasing the sole Jewish state on the planet is a disgrace. But at this point, one of the most interesting things about the controversy it generated concerns a statement signed by Harvard faculty opposing the paper’s position and defending Zionism. The petition was circulated by four prestigious scholars: Gabriella Blum and Jesse Fried of Harvard Law School; Steven Pinker, an economist and professor of psychology; and Harvard president emeritus, as well as former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Lawrence Summers. It was signed by more than 70 other Harvard faculty members. Among the most famous names on it are two persons who are now retired from teaching at the school: the great Ruth Wisse, an author of note as well as a professor of Yiddish literature;

and Alan Dershowitz, an author of many books who was a fixture at the law school for five decades, in addition to his well-known and often controversial legal practice. Those who put their names to it deserve great credit, but the question is not so much which names are on it but why the overwhelming majority of them are from the physical sciences, especially medicine, and so few, like those who organized the petition, teach law, politics, history and literature. Among the names most conspicuous by their absence is Noah Feldman, who succeeded Dershowitz as Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law (named for the famous Jewish legal scholar and Supreme Court justice), as well as the director of the JulisRabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law. Feldman is a well-known author and commentator and has used his prestigious perch at Harvard to criticize antiBDS laws as violating the First Amendment. That’s a position that misinterprets statutes aimed at prohibiting clearly illegal discriminatory conduct. Yet he has not joined those who oppose the existence of a Jewish state, which is the objective of the BDS movement. But the failure of the person who is one of the leading lights at Harvard, as well as one that has been given an important Jewish portfolio there to say that he does support Zionism and opposes BDS, says a great deal about how unfashionable support for Israel has become in academia. While there may be a host of individual reasons why faculty members chose not to sign the petition, it is impossible to avoid coming to some strong May 17, 2022


conclusions about those who did and those who did not. The paucity of those from the liberal arts – most especially, those disciplines where intersectionality and critical race theory have taken hold – is obvious. For anyone to sign on to a document opposing a fashionable cause like BDS or to stand with the state of Israel at a time when leftist doctrine holds it to be a function of white privilege guilty of oppression would make them pariahs. That is something only those with tenure and a secure reputation that is already established – not to mention being closer to the end of their careers than its beginning – could dare to do. It appears that it is only in schools where politics plays only a marginal role or none at all –

as, thankfully, appears to be the case for the study of medicine – that a broad cross-section of professors found the guts to criticize the Crimson’s embrace of the delegitimization of Jewish rights. A great deal has been written about the pressure that is exerted on students that makes it difficult for them to express support for Israel in academic settings because of the actions of left-wing and antisemitic students and faculty, But the same also applies for faculty members. Indeed, faculty members who are not protected by tenure or their professional reputations may be far more vulnerable to the attentions of woke mobs than their students. While students face the possibility of being ostracized

100+ Harvard faculty, alumni denounce student paper’s BDS endorsement BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – The Harvard Crimson’s recent endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) has attracted far more wide-ranging attention than a typical student paper’s editorial page, as faculty and alumni of the Ivy League institution have lined up to denounce the student paper’s oped and condemn the shift in Israel discussion on college campuses. In an open letter, more than 100 Harvard faculty members objected to the paper endorsing an academic and financial boycott of the state of Israel, including the school’s former president Larry Summers; prominent psychologist and author Steven Pinker; endowed law professor Gabriella Blum; former Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey Flier; and emeritus law professor and longtime pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz. “We believe that many well-meaning people with no hate in their hearts, including those at Harvard, gravitate to this movement believing that it offers a means for advancing Palestinian rights and peace in the Middle East,” the letter reads. “But the reality is that BDS merely coarsens the discourse on campus and contributes to antisemitism.”

May 17, 2022


by their peers or punished by professors who don’t accept the legitimacy of opposing views, those who teach can find themselves the object of the sort of attention that leads to people losing their jobs. They can also discover that it’s impossible to go on working within a department where their peers and students are intolerant bigots masquerading as defenders of human rights. This is a wake-up call for those who send their children and, just as important, their charitable donations to schools like Harvard in the expectation that those whom they are supporting won’t engage in antisemitic agitation or fail to stand up to it. The Harvard BDS incident is important for a number of

The letter was organized by the Academic Engagement Network, a pro-Israel campus advocacy group. Summers, a former U.S. treasury secretary, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he signed the open letter in part “to reassure Jewish students on our campus that they are not in a hostile environment,” and “to reassure the wider world that the student newspaper did not speak for the broader university.” The public should care about the Crimson’s op-ed, he said, because “it’s a widely read student newspaper that has a significant impact on the tone on campus.” He called the editorial antisemitic in a New York Sun op-ed, and said he hopes the paper will withdraw it. When asked by a professor about the editorial as an example of “the eruption of antisemitism on campus,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, who is Jewish, said the paper is “entitled to publish what they wish and to share their views as they may.” But he added that suggestions of boycotting groups over policy disagreements are “antiethical to what we stand for as a university,” the Crimson reported. The faculty letter is devoted to laying out an opposition to the BDS movement, a defense of Zionism and a condemnation of Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, whose “Wall of Resistance” art installation on Harvard Yard had inspired the Crimson’s editorial. The faculty contend that the installation had the effect of “creating spaces on campus where Jewish and Zionist

reasons, not the least being that it shows how pervasive the normalization of support for antisemitic causes has become at America’s universities and colleges.. That’s something that cannot fail to have repercussions in the future as Harvard’s BDS supporters eventually take their accustomed places as members of the nation’s ruling elite. That’s a sobering thought that should also remind us that placing our country in the hands of people based largely on their educational pedigree is something that doesn’t necessarily protect us against prejudice and anti-Jewish malice. Jonathan S. Tobin is editorin-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate).

students are targeted and made to feel unwelcome.” The faculty also called the students’ decision to publish their editorial the day after Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, “thoughtless.” A separate letter, signed by multiple generations of Crimson alumni, expressed “dismay” at the paper’s editorial, along with messages of support for Harvard’s Jewish students. The Crimson had broken with the paper’s long-held editorial stance by endorsing BDS, which its editors compared favorably with anti-Apartheid tactics while stating that its aims were not antisemitic. Jewish groups at Harvard, including Harvard Hillel, strongly objected to the editorial. Harvard Hillel student president Natalie Kahn, who is also a news editor at the Crimson and had led protests against the “Wall of Resistance,” wrote her own op-ed in which she said the editorial “is part of a larger trend of singling out Jews, conveniently neglecting our half of the story – and by extension our right to self-determination – while claiming to ‘oppose antisemitism.’” The Harvard dust-up is the latest example of academic battles over Israel boycotts. In March, the Middle East Studies Association, an academic organization of Middle East and Israel scholars from around the world, also voted to endorse the BDS movement. And in April, Jewish groups mobilized to stop The Ohio State University’s student government from passing a BDS-inspired resolution.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


Around SNE Mandell JCC unveils activity center for kids On April 28, the Mandell Jewish Community Center unveiled the new JNext Activity Center, a unique space filled with innovative and openended activities, equipment and teaching tools which promote healthy childhood development for young children. Located in the JCC’s Family Room Parenting Center, the new activity center is named for JNext – younger generations of JCC members who raise funds and awareness for the causes they are passionate about. In making its donation, the philanthropic group was responding to an overwhelming request to provide enhancements to the Family Room Parenting Center. Following months of research and planning, the JNext Activity Center was introduced to the community. “The Family Room is such a special space at the JCC where parents can spend quality time with their young children and create new friendships with other families,” says Amanda Katzman, co-chair of JNext with Joshua Feldman. Additions to the Family Room include a magnet wall, light table and a Library Story Driven Block Play Package. Age and developmentally appropriate activities for young children, foster critical thinking while encouraging hands-on learning through play and experimentation. Families do not have to be JCC members to use the Family Room Parenting Center, which offers parent/child interactive classes, enrichment classes, holiday programing and parent workshops. For more information on the Family Room and Parenting Center and the new JNext Activity Center, visit


Western CT Federation shares birthday wishes for Israel In celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day– the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut asked religious and day school students throughout Western and Northwestern Connecticut to make a wish for Israel, as they blew out candles on blue & white cupcakes and cakes. The Federation’s gift was met by huge smiles all around! Pictured here is Rabbi Yehuda Brecher, principal of Yeshivah K’tana in Waterbury, who was delighted to accept the cake on behalf of his preK through 8th grade school.

Jeanette Kuvin Oren designs Chanukah Stamp Jeanette Kuvin Oren is going postal – in a good way. Her stunning artwork adorns the sanctuaries of a multitude of synagogues, the offices of many Jewish organizations and the walls of private homes all across the country and in Israel, too. Now, the Connecticut Judaic artist has another extraordinary achievement to add to her burgeoning portfolio. Recently, the U.S. Postal Service announced the selection

of Chanukah-themed artwork designed by Jeanette to issue as a stamp celebrating that most joyous of Jewish holidays. The stamp features an original wallhanging by the Connecticut artist. The fiber art was handdyed, appliquéd and quilted to form a colorful abstract image of a Chanukah menorah.

Tweety charms residents at Ruth’s House Assisted Living One evening back in the summer of 2016, a yellow cockatiel walked into Ruth’s House Assisted Living in Longmeadow, Massachusetts…and never left. Sure, attempts were made to find out if anyone around JGS Lifecare, of which Ruth’s House is a part, was missing a pet, but no one claimed ownership. And so, several years later, “Tweety” is a treasured resident of the assisted living facility – serenading residents, staring at his reflection in the mirror, and visiting residents in their apartments. Staff members believe he provides emotional support to the residents. “Studies with bird sounds have showed that they may have a restorative effect on individuals,” says Susan Halpern, JGS vice president of development and communications. “Of course, it’s not an exact science, but I do notice that our residents light up as soon as they see or hear Tweety!”


Southern New England Jewish Ledger


May 17, 2022


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Southern New England Jewish Ledger



Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 17, 2022


Jewish Life

Mariupol, one of Putin’s main targets in Ukraine, once sheltered a great yeshiva BY HENRY ABRAMSON

(JTA) – Barring a miracle, Mariupol, the beleaguered industrial center in eastern Ukraine, may henceforth be known only as the city that bore the brunt of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine’s independence and its people. But the city also has a rich and often tragic Jewish history, shaped by conflict and the efforts of previous generations to preserve their lives, faith and culture in the face of brutality. One such story starts at the beginning of the 20th century, not in Ukraine but in Lithuania. Perched on the western edge of the Russian Empire, the Lithuanian town of Panevezys (pronounced Ponevezh or Ponevich) was home to some 7,000 Jews, roughly half the total population. The town boasted few amenities, but chief among them was the yeshiva established in 1909 by Liba Miriam Gavronskii, widowed daughter of the wealthy tea magnate Kalonymus Wissotsky. Rabbi Yitshak Yaakov Rabinovich (known as Reb Itsele Ponevezher, 1854-1919) was its first head, or rosh yeshiva. The yeshiva flourished, but it faced an early threat to its existence with the outbreak of World War I. Seeking to undermine the Russian war effort, the Germans directed a Yiddish-language proclamation to the Jews of the Russian Empire, promising them full emancipation and equal rights once the Romanov dynasty was toppled. Already distrustful of his large Jewish population, the notoriously antisemitic Tsar Nicholas II ordered a brutal expulsion of Jews from the borderlands region to the interior of the Russian Empire. The Yeshiva of Ponevezh May 17, 2022


was forced to relocate, first to Ludza in nearby Latvia, and then once again to Mariupol. Before returning to reestablish itself in independent Lithuania in 1919, the yeshiva would spend the remainder of the war years in Mariupol. Why Mariupol? The great distance from the front lines certainly factored in the thinking of the rosh yeshiva, but Mariupol had developed a reputation as a haven for Jewish settlement. In 1791, the port city was added to the Pale of Settlement, the region of the Russian Empire designated for Jews. By 1847 just over a hundred Jews had established homes in Mariupol, participating in the Black Sea trade. It became a destination for Jews looking for economic opportunity and those fleeing the overcrowded regions of Lithuania and Belarus. By the end of the 19th century, the city was home to over 5,000 Jews, constituting 16% of the population; the 1926 census records 7,332 Jews in Mariupol, or 18% of the city. The expanding, dynamic Jewish community of Mariupol – disturbed only by riots associated with the 1905 revolution – came to an abrupt end with the Nazi invasion. Mariupol’s Jews were rounded up and shot by Einsatzgruppen on a single dark day – Oct. 18, 1941 – as part of the horrific “Holocaust by Bullets.” As for the Lithuanian yeshiva that was sheltered by Mariupol in World War I, it went on to establish itself as one of the greatest institutions of Talmudic study during the interwar years. In 1939, however, war came to Panevezys again, with both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invading Lithuania. Under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef



Shlomo Kahaneman (18881969), the yeshiva continued to function under Communist rule despite the fact that he was trapped outside the country, with students moving from one synagogue to another until the Nazis took over in June 1941 and murdered them all, together with most of Rabbi Kahaneman’s family. In 1944, Rabbi Kahaneman reestablished the Ponevezh Yeshiva once again – this time in B’nai Brak, in what would become Israel – with seven students. Amazingly, it has grown to reclaim its reputation among the most prominent institutions of higher Talmudic education in the world; at 98, its current rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, is regarded by many as the spiritual leader of the “Lithuanian” non-Hasidic stream of haredi Orthodoxy. After the Holocaust, Jews slowly trickled back into Mariupol, which in 1948 was renamed Zhdanov by the Soviets after the sudden death of Andrei Zhdanov (1896-1948), long rumored to be Joseph Stalin’s presumed successor (his son also married the Soviet dictator’s daughter). By 1959 over 2,000

Jews lived in the city, but only constituted about 1% of the total population. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city reclaimed its original name of Mariupol in 1989, and became part of newly independent Ukraine shortly thereafter. The heroic presence of the ChabadLubavitch movement in Mariupol, as in many formerly Soviet communities, supported the tiny Jewish population that remained after most of them emigrated to Israel in Operation Exodus – when Jews escaped the crumbling Soviet Union more than three decades ago – and continued to serve even through the Russian invasions of 2014 and 2018. Now, in the midst of the invasion of 2022, Chabad and others are working to evacuate as many of them as possible. Henry Abramson is a specialist in Jewish history and thought who currently serves as a dean of Touro College in Brooklyn, New York.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


LESS “I KNOW I SHOULD.” MORE “I FEEL SO GOOD.” “I try to do my best to eat right and exercise, but keeping myself motivated can be a chore. At Duncaster, it’s easy to make my well-being a focus with chef-prepared healthy dining options, an on-site dietitian and a large selection of fitness programming that actively supports my goals. I have so much more energy and I’ve never felt better!” – Mary Sargent, Duncaster resident since 2013

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Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 17, 2022


Arts & Entertainment

‘Funny Girl’ snubbed, but ‘Lehman’ stock rises, in Tony nominations BY ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – Some of the biggest Jewish names on Broadway weren’t shining so bright in this year’s Tony nominations. The much-anticipated revival of “Funny Girl,” with Beanie Feldstein in the Barbra Streisand role as pioneering Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice, came up almost empty-handed, despite Feldstein’s star status and the fact that the book was revised and updated by stage and screen legend Harvey Fierstein. The show received only one nomination in total, for featured actor Jared Grimes, leaving Feldstein and Fierstein (and other top draws like co-star Jane Lynch) in the cold. “Funny Girl” debuted last month to mediocre reviews. Critics said Feldstein drew a poor comparison to Streisand and that the entire show’s packaging felt dated. Also snubbed: “Plaza Suite,” a revival of the Neil Simon play starring real-life Jewish couple Sarah Jessica Parker, the child of a Jewish father who identifies as culturally Jewish, and Matthew Broderick (Jewish-descended mom), only garnered one nomination, for costume design.


May 17, 2022


Jews and Jewish-themed shows were more successful elsewhere across the nominees, however. “The Lehman Trilogy,” an epic multi-generational history of the infamous Jewish family of financiers, received eight nominations, including best play; all three lead actors were also nominated, including Adam Godley, who is Jewish. “Girl from the North Country,” a jukebox-style production built around Bob Dylan’s songbook, received seven nominations, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical; the Great Depressionera orchestrations of Dylan’s tunes were also recognized. “North Country” was the second musical to be built around Dylan’s songs, but reviews and ticket sales have indicated it was far more successful than a muchmaligned first attempt, “The Times They Are a-Changin.’” In addition, “North Country” star Mare Winningham was nominated for lead actress. Winningham was raised Catholic, but converted to Judaism in her 40s, writing and performing a “Convert Jig” for the occasion. “Mr. Saturday Night,” Billy


Crystal’s musical comedy based on his 1992 film about a fading TV comic, received five nominations, including best musical and best actor for Crystal. He also co-wrote the nominated book with Jewish writing duo Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Featured actress Shoshana Bean, who is Jewish, was also nominated, as were the Jewish writers of the show’s music, composer Jason Robert Brown and lyricist Amanda Green. While “Funny Girl” failed to light up the revival circuit, several other Jewish-adjacent revivals did. “Company,” a gender-swapped re-staging of the Stephen Sondheim classic, scored nine nominations, including best revival of a musical; the show was initially intended to be timed to Sondheim’s 90th birthday, but COVID-19 delays resulted in it not opening until after his death this past November at 91. “Caroline, or Change,” Tony Kushner’s Civil Rights Era-set musical about a Black maid who works for a Southern Jewish family in 1963, received three nominations, including for best

revival of a musical. And “American Buffalo,” a revival of caustic Jewish playwright David Mamet’s 1975 play about a junk shop, was nominated for four Tonys, including best revival of a play, as was “Take Me Out,” an exploration of a professional baseball player coming out as gay, by Jewish playwright Richard Greenberg. “How I Learned to Drive,” a revival of the Pulitzer-winning 1997 play dealing with taboo topics such as pedophilia and incest, was nominated for three Tonys, including best revival. Its author, Paula Vogel, had a Jewish father and has also written other Jewish-themed plays. It’s been a rough year overall for Broadway, which returned after a two-year pandemic hiatus and saw multiple logistical hiccups as some cast members contracted COVID-19. Many shows had scrambled to premiere in time for the Tony deadlines. The 75th annual ceremony will air June 12 on CBS and Paramount Plus.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger



Southern New England Jewish Ledger

860.561.6552 May 17, 2022 |

Milestones West Hartford rabbi to serve as scholar-inresidence at Jewish Men’s Club Retreat BY STAN HURWITZ

Rabbi Jim Rosen of Beth El Temple in West Hartford, Connecticut, is one of two spiritual leaders chosen to serve as scholars-in-residence at the 75th annual Retreat of the New England Region (NER) of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC), to be held June 9 – 12 at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts. Rabbi Rosen has written and spoken extensively on disability and Judaism, conversion, and modern Israel. He served on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly and on the Chancellor’s Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a past president of the Connecticut Valley Region of the Rabbinical Assembly. In addition to Rosen, Rabbi Jeffrey S. Summit will serve as scholar-in-residence. Summit’s CD, Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, was nominated for a Grammy award; and his CD, Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith


Harmony in Uganda, won Best World Music CD by the Independent Music Awards. He is a research professor in the Department of Music and Judaic Studies at Tufts University and is a senior consultant for Hillel International directing the project “Living Our Values.” The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs is the international umbrella organization for some 200 men’s groups serving 20,000 men across the U. S. and Canada. Their mission is to involve Jewish men in Jewish life. Three-time Retreat co-chair Dr. Steve Broder looks forward to the annual get-together: “It’s like being back at summer camp – informal, friendly, totally immersed in nature. The experience reduces your blood pressure. Speakers are engaging and each day provides opportunities to discuss important topics with others related to family, health, work, retirement. It’s like a three-day Kiddush.” It is expected that many congregations from the New England states will be represented at the Retreat. Members and guests are welcome. For more information, visit http://www.nerfjmc. org/regional-programs/ theretreat2022 or contact Rick Kramer as (781) 718-3067 or

Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care receives prestigious honor Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care, a subsidiary of JGS Lifecare, has been named to the 2022 Hospice Honors Elite list. Hospice Honors is an annual national program of HEALTHCAREfirst, a leading provider of billing and coding services, CAHPS surveys, and advanced analytics. The list recognizes hospices that continuously provide a high level of quality care as measured by the May 17, 2022


Two CT teens among the 31st cohort of The Bronfman Fellowship Two Connecticut teens have been selected to join a group of intellectually curious 11th-graders from across North America who will make up the 2022 cohort of the prestigious Bronfman Fellowship. The 26 Fellows will participate in a free Fellowship-year experience beginning with a summer in Israel, where they explore a tapestry of Jewish texts and ideas in conversation with one another and a faculty team of leading rabbis, educators, and artists. They also interact with a group of Israeli peers. The 2022 Fellows are from 11 states and Canada, and represent a wide range of Jewish backgrounds. The students from Connecticut chosen to join the 31st cohort are: David Garsten of North Haven, Connecticut. Garsten attends Choate Rosemary Hall and is a member of Temple Beth Sholom. A conlanger and YouTuber, he co-founded LingLeague, an international organization for teens interested in linguistics – most recently hosting student events at the annual Linguistics Society of America meeting and a college fair with linguistics programs including Yale, Brown, and NYU. He’s a student member of the LSA and the Language Creation Society, and co-president of Hillel and the Linguistics Club at his school. He also loves creative writing and edits the Lit, his school’s most prominent literary magazine. Eliana Simmons of West Hartford, Connecticut is a junior at Hall High School and a member of Beth El Temple. Through JTConnect’s Teen Leadership and Philanthropy Initiative, she is working with a group of teens to raise money to promote gender equity and fight homelessness. Simmons studies with the Einayich Yonim Fellowship, which approaches environmental issues and leadership from a Jewish spiritual perspective, and serves as an engineer on her high school’s VEX robotics team. She is also a writer and editor of French for Gladiatores, Hall’s foreign language magazine, as well as a member of the French National Honor Society. Last summer, she studied Jewish literature with the Yiddish Book Center’s Great Jewish Books program. The Bronfman Fellowship alumni community includes eight Rhodes Scholars, four former Supreme Court clerks, 20 Fulbright Scholars, 37 Wexner Fellows and 27 Dorot Fellows. The Bronfman Fellowship was founded in 1987 by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist, who died in December 2013. It reflects his vision that young people who are enriched and energized by their Judaism are poised to contribute not only to Jewish life, but to improving the world. For more information about The Bronfman Fellowship, including how to apply, visit

caregivers. Award recipients were identified by evaluating performance on a set of 24 quality indicator measures. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on 20 of the 24 evaluated questions. HEALTHCAREfirst holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on all 24 of the evaluated questions. “This Hospice Honors Elite award is

given to hospices that score above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on 100% (all 24) of the evaluated questions! Spectrum Hospice accomplished this,” said Madeline Presz, executive director of Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence and former executive director of Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care. “This award absolutely reflects the hard work, dedication and outstanding performance of the entire staff at Spectrum. What an honor this is to receive!”

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 17, 2022


Arts & Entertainment Historian: NY’s Jewish Museum is sanitizing filmmaker’s World War II record BY ASAF SHALEV


(JTA) – A historian is accusing the Jewish Museum in New York of distorting the truth about a major artist’s ethically contentious conduct during and after World War II. Lithuanian-born Jonas Mekas, the godfather of American avant-garde film, who died in 2019, is the subject of a major exhibit currently running at the museum. The exhibit, “The Camera Was Always Running,” celebrates Mekas’ role as a “filmmaker, poet, critic, and institution-builder” who “was forced to flee his native Lithuania and [was] unable to return until 1971.” Although Mekas was not Jewish, he ran a series of film screenings at the museum in the late 1960s, when it was one of the few major venues in New York City hosting contemporary art. According to Michael Casper, a researcher at Yale University who specializes in the history of Lithuania (and Hasidic Brooklyn), Mekas was more involved with the Lithuanian movement that aided the Nazi cause than he had ever let on. A few years before the exhibit opened, Casper published an essay in the New York Review of Books documenting Mekas’ role in running two newspapers containing Nazi propaganda and antisemitic bile during World War II. Casper also noted that “unlike other members of his activist circle, Mekas was not an antiSemitic polemicist.” The historian argued that Mekas, in his extensive repertoire of films and writings, and in interviews, fostered confusion about his wartime experience by conflating dates and fudging certain details while allowing many to believe he was a Jew or a Holocaust survivor, or that May 17, 2022


he had spent the war fighting against the Nazis. Casper had hoped an exhibit on Mekas at the Jewish Museum would go beyond celebrating his artistic achievements and interrogate the uncomfortable aspects of Mekas’ past that Casper had surfaced. “Surely the Jewish Museum would address the essential question of Mekas’ activities during World War II and his life’s intersections with Jewish history in Lithuania, one of the most important centers of modern Jewish culture and one devastated by the Holocaust,” Casper wrote in a review of the exhibit published in Jewish Currents. “If not there, where?” Instead, what Casper says he encountered at the museum was the same uncritical hero-worship to which Mekas had always been treated. “The curator introduces dozens of factual errors and misleading interpretations, contributing not only to the revisionism surrounding this single artist, but mobilizing a sentimental attachment to Mekas in a way that erodes the integrity of the broader historical record, and the Jewish history that the museum should be committed to honoring,” Casper wrote. In a response to a request for comment by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the museum’s senior director of communications, Anne Scher, released a statement defending the exhibit and referring to Casper’s arguments as “unsubstantiated points.” She added that the exhibit’s curator, Kelly Taxter worked closely with Mekas’ estate, which was involved in the exhibit. No evidence has been found to support Casper’s claim that


Mekas falsely presented his early biography for personal benefit,” Scher wrote. Taxter, meanwhile, said she had touched upon Mekas’ wartime experience in an essay accompanying the exhibit and that it was “sketched” in the museum’s displays. But she added, “The exhibition was not about Jewish history or the history of Jews in Lithuania; it is an exhibition about a filmmaker whose consequential past intersected with a similarly consequential era in the history of the Jewish Museum and whose artwork, I posit, is largely informed by his experiences of flight, exile, and living as a refugee,” she said in a written comment. It was not the first time the museum had contemplated how it would respond to the questions arising from Casper’s findings. Before the exhibit opened, the museum distributed an internal memo titled, “Talking Points for Frontline Staff,” a copy of which was obtained by JTA. The two-page memo names Casper and attempts to refute his essay. A second memo distributed to staff, also obtained by JTA, anticipated further questions about why the museum was the proper place for an exhibit on Mekas, who wasn’t Jewish and whose work didn’t focus on Jewish content. “Why here?” the memo asks. “Jonas Mekas’s life and work reflect stories and experiences shared by refugees and immigrants of Jewish heritage in the wake of World War II.” For Casper, this language reflects the museum’s larger failure to rectify the confusion about Mekas and to clarify that

while Mekas may have been a refugee, the circumstances of his exile from Europe were vastly different than those of a Holocaust survivor. In 1941, Casper has pointed out, Mekas was writing poetry and living the life of a budding intellectual in or near Birzai when the town’s 2,400 Jews were massacred in a forest by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators. While some people have assumed that when Mekas talked about fleeing Lithuania he was talking about fleeing the Nazis, the truth is likely quite different, according to Casper. Mekas had stayed in the country throughout the war right until the Soviet Union was on the cusp of pushing the Nazis out. When he fled, he only traveled deeper into the Third Reich, boarding a train to Vienna. Before he could reach his destination, however, Mekas’ train was redirected and he was detained by Nazi officers for an unknown reason and eventually forced to work in a German factory for a few months. Mekas never fully explained the incident. The exhibit has garnered positive reviews, primarily in the art press but also in the New York Times. The Times review refers to Casper’s revelations but uses them to assert that in Mekas’ case. “It’s Mekas’s refusal to impose any single narrative on his work that gives it its truth.” These positive reviews, however, belie other, decidedly different reactions to the Casper affair. At least some of the museum’s staff are angry that the exhibit didn’t tackle Mekas’ Continued on page 47

Southern New England Jewish Ledger





Touch, Caring and Cancer Sat. May 21 | 10:00-11:30am Mandell JCC Presented by Julie Olson, LMT


Free and open to the community

860-231-6333 |

What’s New at the Mandell JCC Zachs Campus | 335 Bloomfield Ave. | West Hartford, CT 06117 | 860-236-4571 |

Zachs Campus | 335 Bloomfield Ave. | West Hartford, CT 06117 | 860-236-4571 | Everyone 12 and over, must be vaccinated to enter the JCC. All programming involving children under 12 will require masks be worn by everyone.


Make this summer memorable!

The Swim & Tennis Club is an extension of the JCC, a family summer oasis bringing the same Jewish values. Conveniently located in Bloomfield, The Swim Club features one of the region’s largest Olympic-sized recreational swimming pools with a slide, parentfriendly kiddie pool, children’s playscapes and sandpit, along with 8 tennis courts – 4 Har-Tru and 4 asphalt.

Relax and unwind with the JCC’s ultimate summer retreat. For more information: 24 Southern New England Jewish Ledger

Amy Gurchin 860-231-6323

Head Tennis Pro

Craig Davidson

Sunday, May 22 | 11:30am-3:00pm | Mandell JCC

Learn to play tennis in an interactive environment from Craig Davidson, head coach of University of St. Joseph Men’s Tennis Team. May 17, 2022 |


To register, contact Thai Tran at or 860-236-4571.


of Jewish center we wanted to build on campus. The position offered, and continues to offer, an opportunity for very creative programming that draws on the depth and breadth of Jewish experience, history, and culture. I am a believer in Mordechai Kaplan’s concept of Judaism as a Civilization, that includes food, art, film, music, Israel, the Diaspora, social justice, the intellectual and spiritual ties that connect us, as well as Jewish holidays and Shabbat. The programmatic possibilities were endless. What I learned quickly is that each new academic year is like an empty canvas, with the basic organizational structure of the Jewish calendar. Each year brings a new cohort of students. So, the strength of the program and its success very much depends on the interests, passions, and needs of the students themselves. We also must be proactive in addressing topical issues and themes that emerge because of current events and changes in society. Undergirding it all, I think a good Hillel director must be strongly rooted and knowledgeable about Jewish life, culture, and history. That person also needs to open and flexible to adapt, as the interests and needs of the students change. What are some of your favorite memories of your 20 years at Trinity Hillel? There are a lot. I really have had a wonderful time in this job. I have enjoyed traveling with students and learning about other Jewish communities in the world. I went with a group of students to Uganda to stay with the Abayudaya community. Sam and I led a remarkable group of Trinity students to Poland when the POLIN Museum was under construction. Going through the museum with Sam and that group of students, watching the whole project come to life, was an unforgettable experience. For many years, we had an May 17, 2022


ongoing Shabbat program that focused on Jewish life around the world. … For example, we would choose a theme, like the Jews of Italy or India or Egypt, invite other affiliated student groups to co-sponsor the evening, together cook a kosher meal from that part of the world in the Hillel kitchen, invite a speaker, usually a Trinity professor, to talk about Jewish life in their area of expertise. Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish students shared these themed Shabbatot. Everyone learned a lot and had a great time. Similarly, in recent years I have offered a class at Hillel called The Jewish Table: Cuisine and Culture, along with my friend and Hebrew professor emerita Michal Ayalon. But that is only second best to traveling to these places and experiencing them along with students! Another highlight has been spending time in Israel with students. The most recent trip, called Fresh Perspectives, was in August 2019. The trip focused on political, social, and economic realities in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The students were mostly not Jewish, leaders of different student groups and organizations on campus. They engaged with academics, writers, and thought leaders representing multiple narratives and communities in Israel. It was a fascinating and enriching experience for all of us. I have appreciated the chance to expand our understanding of contemporary issues through a Jewish lens. For instance, for Kristallnacht this past November, we brought a film about Holocaust refugees, and paired it with a panel about the Afghani refugee crisis unfolding at that moment. Now, of course, we talk further about the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger, as the tragedy unfolds in Ukraine. How many students do you think take part in Hillel activities during the year? It really depends on what we’re doing. Shabbat is of course a foundational program that

can draw from 20 to 80 or so depending on the week. Sometimes it’s very lovely just to have what we call “Family Shabbat” which means Hillel regulars sit around the table, sing table blessings, and just enjoy Shabbat dinner and warm conversation. Other themed Shabbatot offer opportunities to explore aspects of Jewish life with affinity groups on campus. These events bring in larger numbers of students. For instance, Rainbow Shabbat provides a platform to talk about Tel Aviv as an LGBTQ friendly city, or to share a musical Shabbat service devoted to this theme. Our Annual Sharsheret Hillel Pink Shabbat for Breast Cancer Awareness brings many campus groups together for an evening in support of cancer research. Regardless of participant numbers, the important point here is that Hillel provides a safe space to not only be Jewish, to celebrate being Jewish, to learn about Judaism and Jewish values, but also to address contemporary issues, concerns, questions, and themes in a welcoming environment, apart from academic life. One of today’s concerns is the steep rise in antisemitic incidents on American campuses. UConn has dealt with several such incidents. Has Trinity? There have been episodes of antisemitism at Trinity, certainly not as egregious as some we have witnessed on other campuses. When things have happened, I’ve been able to work with the ADL and the college administration to address the issue. These instances have been few and far between, in my experience. What do you think Hillel organizations can do to combat rising antisemitism on campuses?

students at a place without a critical mass of fellow Jews. I believe we accomplish this by sharing and celebrating our traditions and heritage with integrity, open-mindedness, and creativity. Hillel professionals at Trinity and elsewhere should be knowledgeable “guides on the side” as students grow in their personal, intellectual, and spiritual identification as emerging Jewish adults. Much of the antisemitism on campuses today stems from ignorance about Israel. Ongoing engagement with Israel through programs that highlight cultural diversity, social justice, concern for the environment, and other contemporary issues is essential in combatting this trend. I also think it is increasingly important for the experiences of Jews and antisemitism to be included in the entire discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Too often, Jewish professionals are simply not “in the room” and Jewish concerns are not part of that conversation. I would like to see colleges and universities implement educational programs about antisemitism in addition to the focus on identified marginalized populations. In addition, Hillel professionals should be included as members of college teams that address student well-being and mental health, especially as it relates to personal identity. And finally…what are your postHillel plans? Painting. A couple of years ago that interest resurfaced in a big way. I also want to take some time to think about what I really want to do in terms of volunteer work; what would feel meaningful to me now and where can I make an impact? I was recently asked to join the board of Hillel Warsaw. That organization and the people there are very close to my heart. I want to be a good board member.

First, it is most important for Jewish students to develop and maintain a positive sense of their own Jewish identities. This is especially true for Southern New England Jewish Ledger


“I’m thrilled to be at William Raveis, whose focus is

Marketing and Technology

with a connection to

a great International Network.”

Robin and Raveis ... what a great combination! 26

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 17, 2022


Briefs CUNY Law School’s selection of commencement speaker criticized (JNS) Canary Mission, an organization that documents those that promote hatred of the United States, Israel and Jews, released a statement on May 10, criticizing a decision by the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School to select an anti-Israel activist to deliver a commencement address on Friday, May 13. The statement described the speaker, Nerdeen Mohsen Kiswani, as “the force behind a violent and aggressive anti-Israel group in New York City,” adding, “Kiswani, who is known at the law school as Nerdeen Mohsen, founded and heads the organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), a group dedicated to the complete destruction of Israel. WOL is responsible for a recent series of violent protests on NYC streets that have seen its activists physically attack Jews and passersby. The group targets Jewish groups, businesses and individual philanthropists who support the state of Israel.” Kiswani was named the “Antisemite of the Year” in 2020 by, and WOL was banned from Instagram recently for inciteful hate speech. According to Canary’s statement, Kiswani leads WOL rallies and promotes slogans such as “Resistance, by any means necessary,” and, “We need allies who are gonna help us achieve a victory, not allies who are going to tell us to be nonviolent.” “Kiswani has been front and center at these protests, her voice ringing loud and clear leading chants such as, ‘5-6-7-8 smash the settler state,’ ‘There is only one solution, Intifada revolution,’ and ‘Intifada, Intifada! Long Live the Intifada!’” Kiswani and WOL’s latest campaign is called “Globalize the May 17, 2022


Intifada,” said Canary. “On July 31, 2021, after fireworks were lit at a WOL rally, Kiswani told the crowd: “I hope that a pop-pop is the last noise that some Zionists hear in their lifetime,” the organization said. As the Ledger went to press, WOL was planning a protest on Sunday, May 15, in Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to commemorate “Nakba Day,” said Canary.

Deborah Lipstadt decries those who don’t take antisemitism seriously (JTA) – Antisemitism is often not taken seriously until it becomes deadly, said Deborah Lipstadt, the Holocaust scholar and the State Department’s newly appointed antisemitism monitor. Lipstadt chose the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for her first talk Thursday. She made good on her pledge to identify and target antisemitism on all all sides. “Antisemitism does not come from one end of the political spectrum,” Lipstadt said. “It is ubiquitous and is espoused by people who agree on nothing else or, better put, disagree on everything else.” She spoke of the threat from the far-right, mentioning the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. But she also alluded to her frustrations with the left. “Too often, when there is an act of antisemitism, those who condemn it cannot bring themselves to focus specifically on this particular prejudice,” she said. In 2019, Jewish groups, Republicans and some Jewish Democrats were unhappy when a resolution condemning antisemitism was amended to include condemnations of other forms of bigotry, including Islamaphobia. In her remarks and later in a conversation with Sara Bloomfield, the museum’s director, Lipstadt said that antisemitism is often not taken seriously until it is too late. “Too many people, organizations and institutions do not take antisemitism

seriously,” she said. “They fail to include it in their litany of legitimate prejudicial hatreds. They wonder what is it that Jews are complaining about? After all, they are wealthy and powerful.” Talking to Bloomfield, she said people tend not to take antisemitism seriously until it turns deadly, citing attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh in 2018, in New Jersey in 2019 and in Paris in 2015. “Then they suddenly stop but like if it’s something else it’s not taken seriously to some percent, at least at first glance, as many other victims of oppression,” Lipstadt said. The post of antisemitism monitor was established in 2004 to track antisemitism overseas and make representations to foreign governments to address it, but Lipstadt said those lines were now blurred. “It is increasingly hard to differentiate between antisemitism that is foreign and that which is domestic,” she said. That was a view adopted by her Trump administration predecessor, Elan Carr, who was in the audience and whom Lipstadt acknowledged in her remarks. In another nod to continuity with the Trump administration, Lipstadt praised the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and four Arab countries, brokered by the Trump administration in its final months. “Working together with the countries that have signed on to the Accords and the normalization agreements, we can address some of the violent extremist antisemitism which often has had lethal consequences,” she said.

Dani Luv, the schticky entertainer at Sammy’s Roumanian, is back (New York Jewish Week) – Sammy’s Roumanian, the one-ofa-kind Lower East Side Ashkenazi restaurant that’s been described as “a dark and dingy place” where “every night was a bar mitzvah,” has been sorely missed by many New Yorkers since it shuttered its doors for good in January 2021. Former customers may

find themselves longing for its chopped liver, prepared tableside with schmaltz and crispy onions, or lovingly recalling raucous evenings fueled by bottles of vodka served on ice. But if you’re feeling nostalgic for the musical stylings of Dani Luv – the man who entertained Sammy’s diners nightly for more than 20 years with schticky songs like “Hey Jew,” a take on the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” – you’re in luck: Luv will be back on stage this very Friday night in the East Village. Luv will be performing at the afterparty for “The Comedy ‘CLUB,’” a comedy show featuring an all-Jewish lineup presented by Lil’ Fish Comedy. Its producer, Ali Fischbein, hopes that, with Luv on board, the evening will devolve into the kind of partylike-we’ve-just-arrived-from-theOld World balagan that made Sammy’s Roumanian famous. Fischbein, 27, began producing comedy shows during the pandemic – her first few were held in an alleyway and served as fundraisers for the Sixth Street Community Center, which had become an emergency food distribution center during the early months of COVID-19.

Camp Ramah head on leave for allegedly mishandling sexual assault complaint (JTA) – Rabbi Ethan Linden, director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, is taking a leave of absence while his handling of a 2018 sexual assault allegation involving two campers is investigated, the camp announced Friday. The announcement came one week after a lawsuit by the victim alleged a serious mishandling of the allegations at the time. Previously, the Ramah camp network had said it supports victims but stood by Linden’s handling of the incident. In an email to the Ramah Berkshires community, board president Richie Friedman wrote that the board is placing Linden on administrative leave while it Continued on page 29

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embarks on a “thorough review of this matter. … Reading the allegations that our leadership did not respond quickly and appropriately to the victim’s report was deeply troubling. We are sorry for the pain this has caused to all parties involved and to our beloved community …. Due to the allegations that have been made against Camp and our Camp Director, we are placing Rabbi Ethan Linden on administrative leave effective immediately. We have discussed this matter with Rabbi Linden and he agrees that a leave of absence is in the best interest of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. The board will reassess Rabbi Linden’s status once there has been a thorough review of this matter. Amy Skopp Cooper, director of the National Ramah Commission and former director of Camp Ramah Nyack for 20 years, will act as director at Ramah Berkshires this summer. This is a developing story.

Los Angeles City Council officially declares May 12 ‘Anne Frank Day’ (JNS) The Los Angeles City Council has approved a resolution led by Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield declaring May 12 as “Anne Frank Day” in the city of Los Angeles. May 12 was the birthday of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father. The Diary of a Young Girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, has become one of the most widely read books in the world. Millions of people have continued to be inspired by Anne’s words in advocating for positive change, raising awareness about the dangers of prejudice and discrimination, and the importance of speaking up against injustices. “As a son of a Holocaust survivor, it has been a lifelong mission to never forget the May 17, 2022


atrocities of World War II,” said Koretz. “Anne’s story is still relevant today in combating hateful rhetoric spewed in this current climate that seeks to dehumanize anyone perceived as the ‘other.’ We must continue to educate future generations so that we continue to remember and reflect, and if they see acts of unfairness and injustice, they don’t remain silent and act.” Margrit Polak, the founder of Anne Frank LA, said “we are hoping that this special day will encourage other young students across our county to read The Diary of Anne Frank and learn about Anne’s messages of hope, love and peace.” “Thank you to councilmembers Koretz and Blumenfield for continuing to advocate for Holocaust education,” said Beth Kean, CEO of Holocaust Museum LA.

Jewish teen in Brooklyn punched for refusing to say ‘Free Palestine’ (JNS) A Jewish teen walking in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Midwood in Brooklyn, N.Y., was hit in the face by an attacker because he wouldn’t say “Free Palestine.” The victim and his friend, both 18-year-old yeshivah students, were walking down a busy street full of shops and restaurants when a group of teenagers began following them. One of the teens approached them and demanded that they say “Free Palestine.” When the students ignored him, the assailant allegedly punched one of them, giving him a bloody eye. The attacker and the other teens with him fled from the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital by paramedics from the volunteer group Hatzalah. No arrests have been made in the case. New York State Sen. Simcha Felder, who represents the neighborhood, is personally offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the attacker. The assault follows two others within the week, including an attack in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in

which a rabbi was beaten by a man who yelled: “The Nazis should have killed you Jews.”

Bennett government breathes easy as Ra’am decides to stay put (Israel Hayom via JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s embattled government lived to fight another day on Wednesday, as the Likud Party withdrew its bill to dissolve the Knesset. The move followed the declaration by the Islamist Ra’am Party, which had temporarily frozen its membership in the coalition over recent tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, that it would give the government another chance. Together with Ra’am’s four Knesset seats, the coalition can match the opposition’s 60 seats, and had the bill not passed the Likud would have been unable to bring a similar bill to a vote for six months. Ra’am’s announcement followed a tempestuous Knesset session, exacerbated by the death of an Al-Jazeera journalist during an Israeli raid in Jenin earlier in the day. Speaking from the Knesset podium on Wednesday, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized the coalition, saying a government supported by the Muslim Brotherhood could not protect Israeli citizens and soldiers. “I condemn the lies being spewed against our soldiers, not only by the Palestinians, but I also strongly condemn the embarrassing comments being voiced from within against our soldiers, by coalition members in the Bennett government. You should be ashamed,” he said. “The libelous lies against our soldiers, the defamation from within the coalition government, proves once again that those who are dependent on terror supporters cannot fight against terrorism. A government dependent on the [Islamic] Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood cannot defend our citizens and protect our soldiers.” Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Ra’am head Mansour Abbas castigated Netanyahu for

“continuing with his lies and incitement,” pointing out that the former prime minister had also negotiated with him in an attempt to form a coalition after the previous election. New elections, said Abbas, would likely bring Netanyahu back to power. “It would be a grave mistake to undo everything that we have accomplished thus far,” he added.

German teen suspected of planning school terrorist attack (JTA) – German police found explosives and antisemitic, far-right literature at the home of a teenager they suspect of planning a terrorist attack at a school. Federal officers took the 16-year-old suspect, who was not named in the German media, into custody on Thursday, the Tagesschau news site reported. He is suspected of planning to bomb a high school in Essen, a city about 250 miles west of Berlin. Separately, German police are investigating a suspected arson at a Jewish cemetery near Cologne. Both incidents closely followed the release of a report indicating a 28% rise in antisemitic hate crimes in 2021. In the incident in Cologne on Wednesday evening, an unidentified person poured a flammable substance on the wall around the Jewish cemetery of Bocklemünd, a western suburb of Cologne, Rundschau Online reported. Police are investigating whether the incident was an antisemitic hate crime, the report said. The report published Tuesday by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community recorded 3,027 antisemitc incidents in 2021 – a 28% increase over the 2020 tally. In the same report, the ministry recorded a decrease in the number of other types of hate crimes, including anti-Muslim crimes; anti-Christian crimes and anti-foreigner hate crimes.

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and second grades,” he explains. The new wing envisioned includes a new early childhood center focusing on the Reggio Emilia Approach, an educational system that is child-centered, with classrooms that are warm and inviting, and aestheticallypleasing. Architectural plans have already been drawn up for the new early childhood center which will be built behind the school gymnasium. NEJA has gone to the town of West Hartford and is waiting for approval and permits to be granted. After that, the construction project will be put out to bid. It is estimated that the new early childhood center will cost around $3 million. According to Yitz, the school already has $100,000 in pledges, with the launch of a capital campaign coming soon. Plans are for the addition to be built over the next year. “Our entire school community is energized by the prospect of being together on our beautiful West Hartford campus,” says NEJA Head of School Naty Katz. “Unifying our school will strengthen us educationally and fiscally, and create a central address for Orthodox day school education. The upcoming construction of Reggio Emilia early childhood classrooms will provide a shining gateway to our school for new families. We are excited for the new school year and the chance to finally have all of our students and staff under one roof.”

Meanwhile…in Bloomfield In June 2021, the Gabb Road building in Bloomfield was sold for $2.3 million to 55 Equities LLC, a company owned by Gershon Eichorn of Brooklyn, New York. “His plan was to turn it into a Chabad post high school yeshiva and we were really happy about that because this is a building of May 17, 2022


Jewish education,” Yitz reports. The new owner has rented the building back to NEJA for the past school year. “The lower school never actually made the move to West Hartford, as we determined each year that the Gabb Road building was actually the best option for us to educate the students,” Yitz explains. “We had to sell the old campus in order to fund an expansion project. We planned to merge on paper, which we did, and then eventually merge [the student body].” The goal three years ago – and the goal now – is to unite NEJA’s student body in the West Hartford building in order to strengthen the school and, in turn, strengthen the local Jewish community. “Having two different institutions sort of removed the focus from either one of them with respect to community, with respect to volunteers, with respect to leadership. And since both institutions had a similar religious philosophy – they’re both Orthodox schools – the merger made sense. So from a communal perspective it just philosophically made sense that there should be one institution,” Yitz says. “One of the beautiful things about our campus in West Hartford is it’s right across from the JCC, so it’s sort of at the center of Jewish Hartford,” he notes. “So, in terms of raising the profile of the school, which is important to us, it puts us at the center of the community. We thought this would be a way to really put our school on a more solid ground, taking it toward the future.” Meanwhile, Juanita Moss, has been leading a crew of volunteers in cleaning out the last vestiges of Hebrew Academy history from the old building. In fact, they have been slowly packing things up since the merger became a reality three years ago. “One of the special things that the Hebrew Academy used



to do was a yearlong art project by the eighth grade, and the artwork was displayed up on the walls – 40 years of artwork that was displayed at Gabb Road,” Juanita says. “Three years ago we took down the artwork and it was photographed and categorized. We stored some of that hoping that it would kind of move with us and hold up.” Old plaques, photographs and other artifacts have already been boxed and stored, and in the past few weeks they have been dealing with boxes filled with documents, including 40-plus years worth of student health records some from as far back as the 1940s. Founded in 1940, the yeshiva moved to the 8.7-acred site in Bloomfield in 1974 when the Hartford Jewish community began moving to the suburbs. Designed by the architectural firm of Stecker and Colavecchio, the modern 36,100-square-foot, three level building was designed to resemble the city of Jerusalem. “It’s a very interesting property,” says Yitz. “It was custom-built for this school. It even won awards, I believe, for architecture at the time because it’s a very interesting building with large atriums and sunlight

and a central area with natural light that goes through the whole building and the classrooms around it. It’s in a beautiful area with a lot of space around it.” Judy Leichberg of West Hartford attended the Yeshiva of Hartford on Cornwall Street until the 8th grade. Her daughter Batsheva Oberstein, now development director of NEJA, and Oberstein’s two teenaged children followed in Leichberg’s footsteps, attending Hebrew Academy in Bloomfield. “We are three generations – me, my daughter and now my grandchildren go to NEJA,” Leichberg said proudly. “I think the building on Gabb Road served its purpose,” she adds. “It was a very interesting, open layout, with children on all three levels. But I think that this is a much better location in West Hartford. It’s a state-of-theart, beautiful, modern building that has everything for the kids. I think it’s time to modernize and we are very excited the entire school will be on the same campus.” All three of Audrey and Arlen Lichter’s children attended Hebrew Academy and HHNE Continued on page 33

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before the merger – in fact, daughter Jenny Shmuel was a member of HHNE’s first graduating class. Today, Shmuel lives in West Hartford with her husband, Eliad Shmuel, and the couple’s three children, all of whom attend the NEJA lower school. “The school is very important to us as a family,” says Lichter, executive director of the Jewish engagement program, Chai Mitzvah. “It was a place where we all grew in our Judaism – not just the kids – and it was a school where the teachers and the administration were really a part of the community and were connected to all of us. It really was a community school.” Sending their children to the local Jewish day school was important to the Lichter’s daughter Jenny and her husband Eliad, but they really have their sights set on their kids’ high school education. “It is very important to us that our kids have the option of getting a Jewish high school education,” Jenny says. “It was very formative for me and from what I can tell, the high school has a really excellent reputation, so we are excited to have more access to that, even though my kids are not in the high school. NEJA has great resources and great teachers, and the kids that graduate go on to do really impressive things, so it’s great to have that option for our kids.” Shmuel asserted that her experience going to school in the Gabb Road building is a bit different than her children’s

experience. “I think it was a different time – there were a lot more students,” she says. “It’s fun that my kids got to experience that building – it is a beautiful property. But I do think it’s time for them to move and I definitely think it was a good decision for the two schools to combine and move into a more state-of-the-art facility.” To help the student body begin to bond, NEJA will hold a schoolwide Lag B’omer celebration and field day before school ends in June. And the faculties of both schools recently participated in a professional day together to get to know each other. “I think us being on one campus brings a lot of benefits to the whole community,” says Juanita Moss. “A strong Orthodox school is vital for the growth and maintenance of the West Hartford community. I think by moving we will position this school in a much more visible way. I see this as a new chapter in our history and it will bring bigger and better things for the school and the community.” “Saying Goodbye to Gabb Road” will be held on Sunday, June 12, 12 noon – 4 p.m. To receive an invitation, send your contact information: name, phone, address, and email address, as well as your affiliation with the school (former student/ parent/faculty member etc.) to For more information, contact Anne Marcucci at NEJA at (860) 2310317.

with evidence of antisemitic intent. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 14 percent. Swastikaswhich are generally interpreted as symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in more than two-thirds of these incidents.

Major findings in Connecticut Connecticut has not been immune to these national trends. In 2021, Connecticut was host to significant incidents of antisemitism across our state from large cities to small towns. A total of 34 antisemitic incidents were reported and recorded in Connecticut in 2021, a 42% increase relative to the 24 incidents recorded in 2020. The incidents break down as follows: Vandalism: 16 incidents in 2021, a 78% increase from 2020 Harassment: 18 incidents in 2021, a 38% increase from 2020 Assaults: None recorded Despite this increase in incidents in 2021, there were no deadly attacks perpetrated against the Jewish community. However, that does not mean that there weren’t violent incidents. They ranged from an individual yelling “f***ing Jew” and throwing a glass bottle at a Jewish girl as she got off a school

bus in University Heights, Ohio, to a driver backing his car into a group of Hasidic Jewish men in Brooklyn to Jewish diners at a restaurant in Los Angeles being attacked by a group carrying Palestinian flags and yelling antisemitic slurs. In Connecticut, students experienced school-based and on campus incidents of harassment between students, and Nazi graffiti. These incidents at schools were part of a staggering 141% surge in reported antisemitic incidents in May of 2021, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Jews were being attacked in the streets, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away. The data shows that no part of the country is immune to this rise in antisemitic incidents, with all 50 states and the District of Columbia affected. Too many Jewish communities had direct encounters with hate, and too many Jewish institutions – from schools to synagogues to community centers – have been reminded that they are vulnerable as incidents targeting these institutions climbed 61%. To read the full audit report, visit


May 17, 2022


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Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Joshua Cohen mines the Israeli-American relationship BY ADAM KIRSCH

(JTA) – For many younger Jews, being critical of Israel is itself a form of attachment. They may not consider themselves answerable to the Jewish state, but they definitely feel answerable for it in the eyes of the world. The same is true of some Jewish writers, including Michael Chabon and his wife, Israel-born novelist Ayelet Waldman, who together edited the 2017 anthology Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. But the American writer who has found Israel most fruitful as a subject is Joshua Cohen, whose critique of Zionism is more complicated and ironic. Born in 1980 and raised in an Orthodox family in New Jersey, Cohen emerged in the 2010s as the author of Witz and Book of Numbers, huge, world swallowing novels in the tradition of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. Jewishness is central to those books – Witz is a postmodern epic about the sole


survivor of a mysterious plague that kills all the world’s Jews on a single night, like Passover in reverse. But it wasn’t until later that Cohen turned his focus to Israel in two books that are more approachable and realistic – at least up to a point: Moving Kings (2017) and The Netanyahus (2021) named this week as the winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Most American writers mirror their own experience by sending American characters to be tested or redeemed in Israel, but in these novels, Cohen brings Israeli characters to the United States. It’s a canny decision that effectively reverses the burden of proof: Now it is Israeli Jews who have to show whether they can live up to American conditions and ideals. That reversal is signaled in the name of the protagonist of Moving Kings. Instead of King David, Cohen suggests, America produces men like David King, who rules over nothing but a shady moving and storage business. He is a harsh reflection of the social position of American Jewry: King rules highhandedly over his employees, who are poor immigrants of color, but is cowed by the WASPs he encounters at a Republican fundraiser. “It was distressing – to others, but not to himself, who didn’t notice – how he’d change,” Cohen writes. “How he’d let himself be lectured, talked

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down to. How he’d become, in certain situations, not servile exactly, but docile, tamed. A Jew.” Indeed, David is deliberately conceived as an unpleasant Jewish stereotype: “This was how David made money, the same way he drove: by chiselling,” Cohen writes. This is the kind of galut, or Diaspora, Jewishness that Zionism is supposed to have abolished, and David finds psychic compensation in knowing that he has relatives in Israel, where Jews are tough and proud. “What’d bolstered him was Israel: the ideal of it, the abstraction,” Cohen writes. When David agrees to give a job to his Israeli nephew Yoav, just out of the army, he tells him: “Unlike me, Yo, you’re a real Jew. This is who you are naturally, grown up from the land.” The stage seems to be set for a confrontation of Jewish archetypes, such as the one between Jacob and Tamir in Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Here I Am. But Cohen is a more subtle writer than that, and it soon becomes clear that Yoav hasn’t been toughened by his experience in the army – he’s been shattered by it. Depressed and fearful, he barely leaves his apartment except to work, and when his moving truck gets into an accident he flashes back to the West Bank: “Yoav kept checking the mirrors. He didn’t know where the shooting was coming from. They were pinned.” The parallel becomes more than imaginary when Yoav’s crew is tasked with evicting Lincoln Avery, a black Vietnam veteran, from his home, just as he once helped dispossess Palestinians from their land. Some critics saw this parallel as tendentious and overly literal, but it’s key to the pessimistic vision of Moving

Kings. Neither American Jews nor Israeli Jews can be the other’s moral example, Cohen suggests, since both are ensnared in similar systems of exploitation. By the end of the novel, when Yoav is caught up in a scene of violence deadlier than anything he encountered back home, it’s clear that he is nearly as much a victim of that system as Avery. At the same time, Cohen is impatient with the leftist moralism that only notices violence when Israelis commit it. “We’ve always just been forced to become who we are and still everyone has an opinion about it, treating us like we chose this,” Yoav complains. When David tells Yoav he’s “a real Jew,” he means it admiringly, as a tribute to Israeli authenticity. But Yoav puts a different spin on the idea when he says, “Everywhere we’re the Jews of Jews” – that is, the outcasts of the outcasts, the ones whom rightthinking people find it virtuous to hate. Cohen writes about Israel in a very different spirit, as what the philosopher Michael Walzer calls a “connected critic” – one who excoriates his community not in order to distance himself from it, but because he is deeply involved in it, like the Hebrew prophets. When Moving Kings was published, Cohen talked to one interviewer about making aliyah, the Hebrew word for immigrating to Israel: “I think about it all the time. All the days of my life, and all the nights too, except the two weeks per year I spend in Israel.” Moving Kings offers a tragic view of the Israeli-American relationship. When Cohen returned to the subject four years later, the result was the wild comedy of The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Even May 17, 2022



Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family. The tongue-in-cheek subtitle sets the tone for the story, which focuses not on the most famous member of that family – Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister of Israel – but on his father, the historian Ben-Zion Netanyahu. The book is inspired by a story Cohen heard from the legendary American scholar Harold Bloom, who once hosted the elder Netanyahu and his family on a visit to Cornell University for a job interview. From this kernel, Cohen created the slapstick plot of his novel, in which historian Ruben Blum plays host to the Netanyahus at a fictional university in upstate New York. The year is 1959 and Blum is the first and only Jew in his department, so the chairman naturally looks to him to host Ben-Zion Netanyahu, an Israeli historian of medieval Jewish Spain. Blum isn’t too happy about the request, since it shows that the WASPs around him are acutely aware of the Jewishness he himself tries to forget. “I found no strength in my origins and took every opportunity to ignore them, May 17, 2022


when I couldn’t deny them,” he admits. Blum compares himself to a Woody Allen character, the “dread-fueled embodiment of the under-coordinated, overintellectualizing, self-deprecating male Jewish stereotype.” The arrival of the Netanyahus thus means a clash of Jewish archetypes, American vs. Israeli – and not just any Israeli. BenZion Netanyahu arrives with his teenage sons Jonathan and Benjamin, who will grow up to become the hero of Entebbe and the Likud politician, respectively. As a scholar, the real BenZion Netanyahu was intensely Zionist. His work on the Spanish Inquisition led him to conclude that the Jews must have a country of their own if they’re not to be at the mercy of hostile hosts. The implications for American Jews are clear. Attending Ben-Zion’s lecture, Blum imagines that its subtext is directed at him personally: What was true for Europe at the emergence of Zionism will one day be true for America too, once assimilation is revealed as a fraud … This is what I think of America – nothing. This is what I think of American Jews – nothing. Your democracy, your inclusivity, your exceptionalism – nothing. Your

chances for survival – none at all. But Blum refuses to be cowed by this pessimism, as does Joshua Cohen. Netanyahu’s Zionist vision of Jewish history is closed, Cohen writes, seeing it as nothing but the eternal repetition of the same scenario: persecution, expulsion, massacre. It is the idea Blum remembers being taught at Hebrew school, that “carnage was the Jewish destiny.” But his own experience as an American Jew defies this prophecy. “I wasn’t what I was doomed to be; no one was going to murder me in this country. No one was going to drag me and my family off to a camp or shove us together into an oven,” he insists. American history is open, allowing people – even Jews – to rewrite their fates. The clash of ideas Cohen sets up is entirely serious, but the Netanyahus themselves are farcically odious. They resemble every negative Israeli stereotype as surely as Blum resembles a Woody Allen character. “They’re so horrible, so pushy,” Ruben’s wife, Edith, says, and though he knows this is an antisemitic cliché, he can’t deny it. BenZion is brusque and arrogant, insulting the professors who

invited him while expecting royal treatment. The boys are filthy and rude, handling their hosts’ possessions without asking, “wandering the den like they were casing it for a burglary.” Ruben starts to think of them as “the Yahus,” turning the divine Hebrew suffix into the slang insult from Jonathan Swift. And they only get worse and worse – until the denouement, when a naked Jonathan is discovered in flagrante delicto with Ruben’s teenage daughter, causing him and Benjamin to run away into the freezing American night. With Ruben’s vision of the tumescent Jonathan, Cohen caricatures any ideas his readers may harbor about Israeli masculinity and American passivity. Like Moving Kings, The Netanyahus concludes that neither type of Jewishness is better than the other; both are absurd, crying out for the kind of satire that can only come from intimate knowledge. This essay was excerpted from “After the Golden Age: American Jewish Writing in the Twentyfirst Century,” the lead essay in the upcoming issue of The Jewish Quarterly. Used with permission.

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THE KOSHER CROSSWORD MAY 17, 2022 “Sports Centers”

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JEWISH LEDGER Vol. 94 No. 10

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Across 1. Like some readers 5. 1701, in Roman numerals 10. Nutty trees 14. Regev of the Knesset 15. Insurance fraud crime 16. Scallopine meat 17. Mandarin covering 18. Horse’s restraint 19. 4 20. Sports venue for the tribe of kohanim? 23. ___ Neder 26. “Here endeth the math” 27. He’s a real Bohr 28. Sports venue for a holy bovine?

33. Palindromic Jewish name 34. What Ben Solo changed his last name to 35. More, in Spanish 38. Former sports venue named for a common Shabbat item? 43. Time 44. Hawaii necklace 45. “Falstaff” was his last opera 46. Sports venue where Jews stand as one? 50. Kind of acid 53. Kind of train 54. Kind of insect 55. Sports venue for chayalim? 60. Harry, Ron and Hermione, e.g.

61. Blue-haired cartoon mom 62. Kashrut organization 66. First name in Israeli song 67. “The Great” and “The Terrible” 68. “To me” in France 69. “Lymph” follower 70. Not throw away, say 71. Controversial Passover morsel

Down 1. Rock item 2. Compete 3. “>:(“ feeling 4. Pickle option 5. Dr Strange’s universe 6. Jewish top (Var.) 7. A couple of CBS spinoffs 8. Tricks 9. “Meet Me ___ Louis” (1944 film) 10. Rabbi Yosef of note 11. A nest on a cliff 12. Capital of Afghanistan 13. Puts down hard 21. = 22. Journalist Curry

23. Prepare (for impact) 24. “Reading Rainbow” host Burton 25. Tony winner Menzel 29. Hanes rival 30. Musical Shaw 31. Store that sells hiking boots 32. Envelope insert: Abbr. 35. “Friends” co-creator Kauffman 36. Competitor of Lauder 37. Bais Yaakov garb 39. Wallach or Whitney 40. Prepare (the Shabbat table) 41. Burst with pride 42. Part of an animal farm 46. Brought to ruin

47. What there is in “team”? 48. Condescends 49. “How to Irritate People” comedian John 50. “Goonies” star Sean 51. 5-Down villain Baron 52. “Odyssey” predecessor 56. Kuwait title 57. Go on and on about 58. “Haus” wife? 59. Kind of Torah 63. Pal, to Pepe Le Pew 64. Anti - Israel NYC Rep. 65. Catan piece

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t is a lesson I first learned in a course I took on the skills of interviewing long ago. The instructor taught us that the way to really size up a candidate for a job is to determine how he uses his time. He taught us that one question designed to assist the interviewer to make that determination is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I have since had decades of interviewing experience in many diverse settings and have developed a set of other questions, all intended for the same objective. They include: “What do you in your spare time?” “How would you spend your time if you won the lottery and no longer had to work for a living?” And, in academic or rabbinic interviewing, “How would you use your time if you were given a sabbatical leave from your position?” It is this last question which brings us to this week’s Torah portion, Behar. In the very beginning, we read of the mitzvah of letting the land lie fallow (unsown) every seven years, which is the sabbatical year; also known as shemitah. “But in the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath of the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:4) The Torah spells out quite clearly what can and cannot be done in the way of tilling the soil. Indeed, there is an entire Tractate of Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud which gives specific and detailed guidelines relating to the land and the produce of the shemitah year. I have always been intrigued and even a bit mystified, however, by the fact that, to my knowledge, nothing is said about what the farmer is supposed to do with his spare time that year. Imagine a farmer who has May 17, 2022


been working industriously, 24/6, for six years. Then, as Rosh Hashanah of year seven approaches, very little work is permitted to him, and he becomes a gentleman of leisure. How does he use his time? It is inspiring to note that there are pious farmers in Israel nowadays who scrupulously observe shemitah. And it is interesting that they indeed create structured programs for their “leisure” time that year. They study Torah, particularly the sections related to agriculture. They travel to farms across the country teaching less knowledgeable farmers halachot pertaining to farming. They even spend time updating their own technical agricultural skills. There is a lesson to be learned here. The Torah legislates that the land needs a sabbatical year to lie fallow in order to renew itself. We must come to the realization ourselves that we too need a sabbatical year, but for us staying fallow is not our mission. Rather, it is to use such a time for physical, intellectual and spiritual reinvigoration. The Torah continues to prescribe yet another “leisure” year, a sabbatical year after seven sabbaticals years, called the Jubilee year. “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year. You shall proclaim release throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family.” (Levitivus 25:10) The personal, spiritual meaning of the fiftieth year of life was brought home to me recently. I have been re-visiting the writings of Hillel Zeitlin, a victim of the Holocaust. Zeitlin was a journalist, philosopher, and mystic who wrote a number of poems in the form of prayers, or perhaps prayers in the form of poems. One is entitled “On the Threshold of My Erev Shabbat”. He writes in anticipation of his fiftieth birthday when he is

about to enter the sixth decade of his life. “Life is like the days of the week, each decade a day. The seventh decade/day is our soul’s Sabbath, and we are granted but seven days. I am at the brink of Friday, Erev Shabbat, for my tired spirit. I pray that my Friday be a proper preparation, that I can use it for personal repair. For five days I have wandered, nay strayed. This day I hope to re-discover the path, and return before Sabbath Eve’s suns sets.” The journey of Zeitlin’s life was a tortuous one, and its theme was perpetual search. He wandered from shtetl and cheder to Western European philosophy; from secular Zionism to Chassidism; from Warsaw’s literary circles to its shtieblach; and ultimately to Treblinka. But his poetry, especially the one I translated above, displays an exquisite time-consciousness, an awareness of how fleeting our lives are, and we must work hard to fill them with meaning. Every seventh year is a sabbatical for the soul, and every fiftieth year, a time to recognize

that we are past the zenith of our arc of life. Fortunately, we have an even more frequent gift of time, and it is our weekly Sabbatical, Shabbat Kodesh, the Holy Sabbath. In the cycles characterized by the number seven, we have seven years, seven sets of seven years, and the seven days of the week. Jewish mysticism offers us a multitude of meanings for the number seven, but this much is not mysterious: There is a rhythm to our lives, and part of that rhythm calls for regular times for reflection and renewal. The intervals between such moments vary greatly in their duration. It is up for us to make the most of those moments, whether they last a day or a year. I once heard a wise man, Rav Elya Lapian, say: “Modern man is convinced that ‘time is money’. Spiritual man knows that ‘time is life.’” Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is executive vice president, emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

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WHAT’S HAPPENING A calendar of events throughout Connecticut and Western & Central Massachusetts.

Rd.To register: or call Diane Sloyer at (203) 3211373 x105.

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 17 West Hartford, CT – To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Ave., will host a mental health panel to discuss “Creating Connection and Calm in Our Families,” 6-7:30 p.m., with Miri Bar-Halpern, Psy.D., Ruth Freeman, LCSW, Joan Harovas, RN, BSN, HNB-BC, Tracy Tighe Johnston, MA, moderated by Dr. Thaddeus Iheanacho; to register: FREE

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 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


Worcester, MA – Community Lag B’Omer Festival and BBQ, featuring giant lawn games, horse-drawn wagon rides, storytelling around the bonfire, 5-7 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 15 Jamesbury Drive. Worcester, MA – Café Ivrit with Aviv – learn Hebrew with Israeli Shaliach Aviv Jerbi, 6-6:45 p.m. on Zoom; for more information:; also June 2 & 16.

FRIDAY, MAY 20 Florence, MA – Tot Shabbat Family Service led by Marlene Rachelle and Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, a musical hour celebrating Shabbat and holidays for families (grandparents and friends invited, too) with kids to age 7. 5-5:45 p.m. at Beit Ahavah, 130 Pine St, with a Zoom option. In-person registration: https:// Masks for ages 2+ required except when eating/drinking; ages 5+ must be vaccinated. Registration for Zoom: https:// register/tZAvdeGrrjorEt1c2u EhghYetXpt2wau5Dxa; Springfield, MA – Tot Shabbat at Temple Eth El with Marlene Rachelle featuring Shabbat music and fun for children ages 6 and younger, 5:30 – 6 p.m., Virtual Link: Website: Worcester, MA – PJ Havdalah, with PJ Library and Enchanted Animal Parties, 4:30 – 6: 30 p.m., at Congregation B’nai Shalom,

SATURDAY, MAY 21 Stamford, CT – The Center for Community of Education (CCE) presents scholar-inresident Raisi Chechik, head of school, Manhattan Day School.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger

“Reaching Toward the Infinite: Cultivating Spirituality in Our Children and Grandchildren (and Ourselves!), 7 p.m.; “Lessons for Leadership: Rereading the Books of Esther and Ruth,” 8:20 pm (at Seudah Shlishit); at Agudath Sholom Synagogue. FREE

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. Norwalk, CT – Circle of Friends of Fairfield County to host a fundraising dinner honoring its 150+ teen volunteers who share friendship with children with special needs; 5:30 p.m., at Beth Israel Chabad, 40 King St.; US Senator Richard Blumenthal will present award certificates to teen honorees. In addition, 16 local high school seniors will receive Fellowship Awards for their “friendship hours.” For reservations or to receive further information: circleoffriendsct. org (203) 293-8837, cof@ www., or cof@ Shrewsbury, MA – PJ Our Way Israeli Dancing at Shrewsbury Public Library, Meeting Room

A, 3-4 p.m., For grades 2+ and families RSVP: alissa.schimmel@ West Hartford, CT – Tennis Fun Day! 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.; May is National Tennis Month, and the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Ave., is celebrating with Fast Track Tennis, an innovate feedback system for fundamentals, footwork, fitness and fun; learn to play tennis in an interactive environment led by Craig Davidson, head coach of the University of St. Joseph Men’s Tennis Team; snacks, drinks, tennis racquets provided. To register: ttran@mandelljcc. org, (860) 236-4571. For more information: FREE 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 Mandell JCC President Courtyard, 335 Bloomfield Ave. Presentation of the Young Israel Communal Gratitude Project, including special thanks to the synagogue’s Medical Advisory Committee: Drs. Carolyn Ganeles, Raffi Jesin, Steven Luger and Tali Porat. Tickets: $16/per message or two for 50. West Hartford, CT – Beth El Temple BEMA Concert Series Part 3: “Opera & Orchestra,” with guests soprano Zhanna Alkhazova, tenor Ta’u Pupu’a, pianist Corbin Beisner; and Cantor Joseph Ness, 7 p.m.; Beth El, 2626 Albany Ave., For information: bethelhartford. org. Tickets: https://www. bema-concert-opera-andconcerto.html.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25 Northampton, MA – Jewish Family Jam, Jewish music and learning class for children up to age 5 and their caregivers, 10:30 - 11:15 a.m. at LGA, 257 Prospect St. Vaccination and masks May 17, 2022


required indoors for those over 2 years old. Information: https://; also June 1.

THURSDAY, MAY 26 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.

TUESDAY, MAY 31 Longmeadow, MA – Chabad Women Shavuot program “Torah and Vases.” Learn about the giving of the Torah, decorate vases and enjoy a cheesecake tasting, 7:30 p.m., LYA, 1148 Converse St. For information: (413) 731-1381 or chaniecohen@ $20/includes supplies and refreshments.

June WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1 Springfield, MA – Springfield JCC Virtual Author Talk with Brad Aronson, author of HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act at a Time, about the outpouring of “humankindness” his family received when his wife Mia was diagnosed with leukemia, 7-8 p.m., Virtual Link: https://springfieldjcc.wufoo. com/forms/r1ondzst0ji3564/ Website: https://www. literatour/ Contact: Bev Nadler:

SATURDAY, JUNE 4 Springfield, MA – Community Tikkun Leil Shavuot (Shavuot study session) with guest speaker Dr. Joel Hoffman, who will discuss “Four Exiles and Four Spiritual Revolutions,” a whirlwind tour of 3,000 years of Judaism focusing on 3 spiritual May 17, 2022


revolutions and the exiles that led to each, as well as the most recent revolution: modern Judaism; live streamed and in-person at Sinai Temple, 1100 Dickinson St., and co-sponsored by Temple Beth El; followed by a Shavuot festival service. Contact: Lisa at llaudato@tbespringfield. org.

THURSDAY, JUNE 9 West Hartford, CT – The 2022 Annual Meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford will feature “Remembering Abe Ribicoff: Lessons for Today.” A program about the career of New England’s first Jewish governor. The program will be preceded by a brief business meeting. Proof of vaccination required. Bring your vaccination card. Register at: https://secure. xWdLeIgPoJrcXxP6rRQuxA

SUNDAY, JUNE 12 Worcester, MA – PJ Library’s Book Mitzvah, 13 years in Central Mass., a free communitywide celebration with a live DJ dancing, activities, crafts, caricature artist, henna artist, food and more, for families of all ages, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., rain or shine, at Congregation Beth Israel, 15 Jamesbury Drive, New England (Zoom) – “Lakes, Lanyards, and Learning: The Story of New England Jewish Summer Camps,” presented by the New England Jewish History Collaborative; 3-4:30 p.m.; hosted on Zoom by the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center. Join the New England Jewish History Collaborative for a fascinating event exploring the story of Jewish summer camps in New England. The program begins with a talk by Jonathan Krasner, PhD, of Brandeis University, examining the history and evolution of American Jewish camps in the 20th century and discussing

their generational impact on Jewish life and identity. For reservations and information:

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:

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 soccer and kayaking on the Connecticut River. Cost: $200. Financial aid is available; no teen is turned away owing to a lack of funds. Drop-off and pick-up from Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford For information: or contact

TUESDAY, JUNE 21 Springfield, MA – Springfield JCC Annual Meeting, 5:30-7 p.m., 1160 Dickinson St., Contact: or (413) 739-4715.



Avon, CT – “Speaking of Jewish” with keynote speaker Kivi Bernhard, author of Leopardology: The Hunt for Profit in a Tough Global Economy, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at a private home in Avon, CT; address provided upon registration. Bernhard will discuss how to live out our Jewish values in the workplace. Attendees will receive a copy of his book, which he will sign at the conclusion of the program. Attendees must be fully vaccinated and should bring masks for indoor needs (washroom, etc.). Kosher hors d’oeuvres, drinks, dessert. Presented by Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford; $36/person (not tax deductible).

West Chesterfield, MA – PJ Library visits Hilltown Sled Dogs, 10 a.m. – 12 noon. Explore nature and learn about sled dogs and about Jewish teachings concerning being kind to animals, includes a Yard Tour, Hike with a Husky, Playtime in the Pens and demonstration of mushing; For more information, including fee, contact ebarber@ or (646) 3913553; RSVP by June 24.

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

MONDAY, JUNE 27 Longmeadow, MA - 41st Annual Frankel Kinsler Classic Day of Tournaments, fundraiser for JGS Lifecare, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., 8 p.m. at Twin Hills Country Club, 700 Wolf Swamp Road. Enjoy fun, food and friendship to support the care of the community’s elders. Register online and receive the virtual link: https:// frankel-kinsler-classic-dayof-tournaments/ For more information, call (413) 567-3949, ext. 3533 or email shalpern@

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


CT SYNAGOGUE DIRECTORY To join our synagogue directory of paid advertisers, contact BLOOMFIELD B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom/ Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning Conservative Rabbi Debra Cantor (860) 243-3576

BRIDGEPORT Congregation B’nai Israel Reform Rabbi Evan Schultz (203) 336-1858 Congregation Rodeph Sholom Conservative (203) 334-0159 Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Cantor Niema Hirsch

CHESHIRE Temple Beth David Reform Rabbi Micah Ellenson (203) 272-0037

CHESTER Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Reform Rabbi Marci Bellows (860) 526-8920

EAST HARTFORD Temple Beth Tefilah Conservative Rabbi Yisroel Snyder (860) 569-0670

FAIRFIELD Congregation Beth El, Fairfield Conservative Rabbi Joshua Ratner (203) 374-5544

GLASTONBURY Congregation Kol Haverim Reform Rabbi Dr. Kari Tuling (860) 633-3966


GREENWICH Greenwich Reform Synagogue Reform Rabbi Jordie Gerson (203) 629-0018 Temple Sholom Conservative Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz Rabbi Kevin Peters (203) 869-7191

ORANGE Congregation Or Shalom Conservative Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus (203) 799-2341

Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life Rabbi James Greene (860) 868-2434

Orchard Street ShulCongregation Beth Israel Orthodox Rabbi Mendy Hecht 203-776-1468



NEW LONDON HAMDEN Congregation Mishkan Israel Reform Rabbi Brian P. Immerman (203) 288-3877 Temple Beth Sholom Conservative Rabbi Benjamin Edidin Scolnic (203) 288-7748

MADISON Temple Beth Tikvah Reform Rabbi Danny Moss (203) 245-7028

MANCHESTER Beth Sholom B’nai Israel Conservative Rabbi Randall Konigsburg (860) 643-9563

MIDDLETOWN Adath Israel Conservative Rabbi Nelly Altenburger (860) 346-4709

NEW HAVEN The Towers at Tower Lane Conservative Ruth Greenblatt, Spiritual Leader Sarah Moskowitz, Spiritual Leader (203) 772-1816

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Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel Conservative Rabbi Eric Woodward (203) 389-2108

Ahavath Chesed Synagogue Orthodox Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg 860-442-3234 Congregation Beth El Conservative Rabbi Earl Kideckel (860) 442-0418

NEWINGTON Temple Sinai Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett (860) 561-1055

NEWTOWN Congregation Adath Israel Conservative Rabbi Barukh Schectman (203) 426-5188

NORWALK Beth Israel Synagogue – Chabad of Westport/ Norwalk Orthodox-Chabad Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht (203) 866-0534 Temple Shalom Reform Rabbi Cantor Shirah Sklar (203) 866-0148 admin@templeshalomweb. org

NORWICH Congregation Brothers of Joseph Modern Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Resnick (781 )201-0377

Congregation B’nai Shalom Conservative Rabbi Eliana Falk - Visiting Rabbi (860) 315-5181

Temple Emanu - El Reform Rabbi Marc Ekstrand Rabbi Emeritus Aaron Rosenberg (860) 443-3005



Chabad of the Farmington Valley Chabad Rabbi Mendel Samuels (860) 658-4903 Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Emek Shalom Reform Rabbi Rebekah Goldman Mag (860) 658-1075

SOUTH WINDSOR Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman (860) 282-8466

SOUTHINGTON Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation Reform Rabbi Alana Wasserman (860) 276-9113

TRUMBULL Congregation B’nai Torah Conservative Rabbi Colin Brodie (203) 268-6940

WALLINGFORD Beth Israel Synagogue Conservative Rabbi Bruce Alpert (203) 269-5983 info@bethisraelwallingford. org www.bethisraelwallingford. org

Beth David Synagogue Modern Orthodox Rabbi Yitzchok Adler (860) 236-1241 Beth El Temple Conservative Rabbi James Rosen Rabbi Rachel Zerin Cantor Joseph Ness (860) 233-9696 www.bethelwesthartford. org Chabad House of Greater Hartford Rabbi Joseph Gopin Rabbi Shaya Gopin, Director of Education (860) 232-1116 Congregation Beth Israel Reform Rabbi Michael Pincus Rabbi Andi Fliegel Cantor Stephanie Kupfer (860) 233-8215 Congregation P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Shabbat Services & Holidays Rabbi Andrea CohenKiener (860) 561-5905

The Emanuel Synagogue Conservative Rabbi David J. Small (860) 236-1275 www.emanuelsynagogue. org United Synagogues of Greater Hartford Orthodox Rabbi Eli Ostrozynsk i synagogue voice mail (860) 586-8067 Rabbi’s mobile (718) 679-4446 Young Israel of West Hartford Orthodox Rabbi Tuvia Brander (860) 233-3084

WESTPORT Temple Israel of Westport Reform Rabbi Michael Friedman, Senior Rabbi Cantor Julia Cadrain, Senior Cantor Rabbi Elana NemitoffBresler, Rabbi Educator Rabbi Zach Plesent, Assistant Rabbi (203) 227-1293

WETHERSFIELD Temple Beth Torah Unaffiliated Rabbi Alan Lefkowitz 860-529-2410

WOODBRIDGE Congregation B’nai Jacob Conservative Rabbi Rona Shapiro (203) 389-2111

Kehilat Chaverim of Greater Hartford Chavurah Adm. - Nancy Malley (860) 951-6877

May 17, 2022






Jewish Community of Amherst Reconstructionist Rabbi Benjamin Weiner (413) 256-0160 742 Main St., Amherst, MA 01002

Beit Ahavah, The Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton Reform Rabbi Riqi Kosovske (413) 587-3770 130 Pine St. Florence, MA 01062

Congregation B’nai Torah Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe Rabbi Yakov Wolff (413) 567-0036 2 Eunice Drive Longmeadow, MA 01106 Neighborhood Minyan 124 Sumner Avenue Springfield, MA 01108

ATHOL Temple Israel Unaffiliated/Egalitarian Reb Sarah Noyovitz (978) 249-9481 107 Walnut Street Athol, MA 01331

BENNINGTON, VT Congregation Beth El Reconstructionist Rabbi Micah Becker Klein (802) 442-9645 225 North St., Bennington, VT 05201

CLINTON Congregation Shaarei Zedeck Conservative Lay Leadership - Elena Feinberg (978) 501-2744 104 Water St., Clinton, MA 01510

GREENFIELD Temple Israel of Greenfield Unaffiliated Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (413) 773-5884 27 Pierce St. Greenfield, MA 01301

HOLYOKE Congregation Rodphey Sholom Orthodox Rabbi Tuvia Helfen Religious Leader (413) 534-5262 1800 Northampton St., Holyoke, MA 01040 Congregation Sons of Zion Conservative Rabbi Saul Perlmutter (413) 534-3369 378 Maple St. Holyoke, MA 01040

LEOMINSTER Congregation Agudat Achim Conservative Rabbi Eve Eichenholtz (978) 534-6121 268 Washington St., Leominster, MA 01453

NORTHAMPTON Congregation B’nai Israel Conservative Rabbi Justin David (413) 584-3593 253 Prospect St. Northampton, MA 01060

PITTSFIELD Temple Anshe Amunim Reform Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch (413) 442-5910 26 Broad St., Pittsfield, MA 01201

SPRINGFIELD Sinai Temple Reform Rabbi Jeremy Master (413) 736-3619 1100 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA 01108

Temple Beth El Conservative Rabbi Amy Walk (413) 733-4149 979 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA 01108

WESTBOROUGH Beth Tikvah Synagogue Independent Rabbi Michael Swarttz (508) 616-9037 president@bethtikvahsynagogue. org 45 Oak St., Westborough, MA 01581 Congregation B’nai Shalom Reform Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz/ Rabbi-Educator Joseph Eiduson (508) 366-7191 117 East Main St., PO Box 1019, Westborough, MA 01581

WESTFIELD Congregation Ahavas Achim Unaffiliated Rabbi Shahar Colt (413) 642-1797 www.congregationahavasachim. org Ferst Interfaith Center, Westfield State University PO Box 334, 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086 Find us on Facebook: https://www.

WORCESTER Central Mass Chabad Rabbi Mendel Fogelman, Rabbi Chaim Fishman, Rabbi Michael Phillips, Cantor Eli Abramowitz (508) 752-0904 22 Newton Avenue, Worcester, MA 01602 Congregation Beth Israel Conservative Rabbi Aviva Fellman (508) 756-6204 15 Jamesbury Drive Worcester, MA 01609 Congregation Shaarai Torah West Orthodox Rabbi Yakov Blotner (508) 791-0013 835 Pleasant St. Worcester, MA 01602 Temple Emanuel Sinai Reform Rabbi Valerie Cohen (508) 755-1257 661 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609

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May 17, 2022


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May 17, 2022


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Southern New England Jewish Ledger



Sharon M. (“Meeka”) Anderson 63, has died. She was the widow of Almon Anderson. Born in Hartford, Conn., she was the daughter of the late Arthur and Erma Skal. She is survived by her children, Justin Chapman and Stacy Chapman Lipski and her husband Steven of Plainville, Conn.; her stepdaughter Jennie Pierog and her husband Gil of Tolland, Conn.; her grandchildren, Aaliyah, Zachary, Emily, Maci, Olivia and Ashley; her sister Deborah Schnur and her husband Alan of Clinton, Conn.; her brother David Skal and his wife Nancy of East Hartford, Conn.; her brotherin-law Andy Aresenault of North Port, Fla. She was also pre-deceased by her brother Joseph Skal, her sister Maurine Arsenault, and her nieces Jessica Schnur and Adina Skal.


Dr. Mitchell A. Beck “Mitch,” 75, died May 8. He was the widower of Carol “Jeannie” Beck and the husband of Marla (Steinback) Beck. Born in Detroit, Mich., he was the son of the late Bernard and Ida (Kravis) Beck. In addition to his wife Marla, he is survived by his children, Benjamin Beck and his wife Sara, and Michele “Shelly” Rudoy and her husband Todd; his stepdaughter, Michelle Lakin and her husband Brian; his brother Brian Beck and his wife Anne; his grandchildren, James, Craig, and Zachary Beck, Jordan and Dylan Rudoy; and his stepgrandchildren, Shayna, Jacob, and Aaron Lakin.


Evelyn Bernstein, 89, of Connecticut, formerly of Boca Raton, Fla. and Bloomfield, Conn., died May 5. She was the widow of Abe “Alan” Bernstein. Born in Hartford, she was the daughter of Elias and Fannie Cohn. She is survived by her sons, Barry Bernstein, Michael Bernstein, and Rick Bernstein and his wife Carrie; her grandchildren, Aaron, Lauren,


Carly and Jacob Bernstein; her great-grandchildren, Hayden, Allie and Kylie; her sister Sheila Walter and her husband Herb of Vancouver, Wash.; her niece and nephew, Sharon and Steven Rosenberg.


George Abel Dickerman of Springfield, Mass., died March 25. He was the husband of Sherry (Farbman) Dickerman. Born in Boston, Mass., he was the son of Meyer and Evelyn (Galis) Dickerman. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sons, Mitchell Dickerman and his wife Nina, and Douglas Dickerman and his wife Deirdre; his grandsons, Ian, Ben and Kal; his brother Stephen Dickerman; his brother-in-law Skippy Kumins; his sister-in-law Sheila Farbman; this nieces, Ellen Stafford and Mari Lazar; and his nephews, Steven and Howard Farbman. He was also predeceased by a sister Judy Kumins.


Bruce Reisman, 62, of Boston, Mass., died March 27. He was the son of Janice (Abrahams) Reisman of Longmeadow, Mass. and the late Bernie Reisman. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sister Rachel Reisman of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; his cousins Mark Abrahams and Scott Wechsler, Lynn Abrahams and Rob Bertsche, and Beth Cyr and Bryan Coombs; and his great-nephews and great-niece, Josh, Jeremy and Becca.


Thomas Bein of Florence, 74, Mass. died April 11. He was the husband of Martha Coons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, he was the son of Sidonia and Tibor Bein. In addition to his wife, Tom is survived by his sons, Noah, Joel, and Ethan and his fiancée, Beka Lapwood; his sister Arlene Cahn and her husband Rob of Clarksville, Md.; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Southern New England Jewish Ledger


Laura E. (Fineberg) Bohn of Springfield, Mass., died April 12, two months short of her 90th birthday. She was the wife of Robert E. Bohn. Born in Worcester, Mass., she was the daughter of Bessie and Barney Fineberg. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Wendy Lucas and her husband Michael, Stephen Bohn and his wife Gail, and David Bon and his wife Marlene; her grandchildren, Laurie Bohn and her husband Matthew Curley, Jeffrey Bohn, Emily Lucas, and Austin Lucas; and two greatgrandchildren, Sarah and Benjamin Curley. She was also predeceased by her sister Sylvia.


Roberta Hope Bernstein, 74, of Concord, Mass., died April 25. She is survived by her brother, Lawrence Bernstein of Longmeadow Mass.; her nephew, Andrew Bernstein of Sudbury, Mass.; and her niece, Rachel Telio of Needham, Mass.


Cecille Vivian Soybel Rudnick of New Haven/Hamden died May 11. She was the widow of Harold Rudnick. Born in New Haven, she was the daughter of the late Joseph Soybel and Miriam Soybel. She was also predeceased by her brother, Milton Soybel. She is survived by her children, Barbara Glass, Ellen Rudnick and her husband Paul Earle, Marjorie Rogers and her husband Steven Rogers, and Jane Rudnick; and her grandchildren, Alexandra Glass, Oliver Glass, Maxim Glass, Noah Pettit and Sarah Schimmel and her husband David; her great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.


Mark S. Singer, of Florence, Mass., died April 27. He was the husband of Elizabeth Singer. Born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., he was the son of Miriam and Harold Singer. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Paul,

Emily and her husband Gregory, Ben and his wife Monica, and Sarah and her husband Patrick; her grandchildren, Rachel, Alexandra, Olivia, Stella, Zara, Zoe and Wrenna; and his sisters Susan and Marjorie.


Richard Simons, 83, of Longmeadow, Mass., died April 30. He is survived by his daughters, Michelle Bacher and her husband Noah, and Stacey Simons and her partner Holly Cooper; her grandsons, Jordan and Elijah Bacher; and his longtime companion Joy Levine.


Saundra F. (Levitt) Solomon, 88, of East Longmeadow, Mass., died May 9. She was the widow of Seamon “Simi” Solomon. She was born in Wildwood, N.J. She was a member of Temple Beth El. She is survived by her children, David Solomon and his wife Maria, Gary Solomon and his wife Elena, Richard Solomon, and Michelle Solomon; her brother Marvin Levitt and his wife Helaine; her grandchildren, Timothy, Daniel, Nicole, Elizabeth and her husband Mario, and Zachary; and her great-granddaughter Hailey.


Jeremy Zwelling died May 8. He was the husband Virginia Perlman Zwelling. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister Sharon Cohen and her husband Henry; his brother Shomer Zwelling and his wife Judy Zwerdling Zwelling; his sister-in-law Emily Fryer; his children, Daniel Zwelling and his wife Marissa, and Elana Zwelling Hunter and her partner Jack Karcher; and his grandchildren, Naomi Zwelling, Hannah Zwelling, Skylar Goose Hunter and Mimi Hunter.

May 17, 2022


In Memoriam

Jewish Museum

Palestinian terrorist kills Israeli counterterrorism officer, volunteer paramedic



(JNS) A member of Israel’s National Counterterrorism Unit Yamam was killed on Friday afternoon after being shot by a Palestinian terrorist in Jenin as part of maneuvers by the Israel Defense Forces that is being called a “complex and delicate” operation. Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, who was evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, succumbed to his injuries. A resident of the town of Kida in Judea and Samaria, he leaves behind a wife and six children. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement saying, “We lost a hero today – a brave fighter who gave his life for the security of Israel during a complex and delicate initiated counter-terrorist operation.” “During his 23 years in the unit, Noam had participated in countless counter-terrorist operations, risked his own life and saved lives – as his commanders attest – with courage and modesty,” the prime minister continued. “We will continue to fight terrorism with determination and an iron fist until we defeat it and restore security to the citizens of Israel. This is the legacy that Noam leaves behind. May his memory be blessed.” Raz had also served as a volunteer paramedic with United Hatzalah for many years, serving in the Gush Shiloh area where he lived, according to a spokesman for the group. “We are shocked and dismayed at the death of one of our volunteers, who dedicated his life to saving the lives of others,” said the group’s president and founder, Eli Beer. We lost a true hero today who has saved the lives of many.” Beer added that “thousands of volunteers who make up the United Hatzalah family are mourning his loss and sharing in the pain of the family. May they know no more pain or May 17, 2022


suffering.” Eli Bin, director-general of Magen David Adom, called Raz’s death “tragic, both for his immediate family and the family of EMTs and paramedics of which he was a member. This was someone who dedicated his life to protecting Israelis – people of all backgrounds – both in his daytime job as a police officer and in his volunteer work as an MDA paramedic. Jewish groups around the world also sent their condolences. According to Israel Hayom IDF troops in Jenin, together with agents from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the Yamam were engaged in a heavy exchange of gunfire with terrorists. According to a Channel 12 News report, 11 Palestinians, including Daoud Zubeidi, the brother of the infamous Palestinian terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, were wounded in the battle. Zubeidi was one of six terrorists who escaped Gilboa Prison in northern Israel in September and was later caught following a massive manhunt. Israel Hayom also noted that according to Palestinian reports, Israeli forces were surrounding a house in the city and two large explosions had been heard. Residents in the area of Jenin said that Israeli forces fired a projectile towards a home in an apparent effort to arrest suspects inside. Palestine TV footage showed black plumes of smoke rising from the house. Earlier Friday, an IDF soldier shot and wounded a Palestinian terrorist who had thrown a brick at a passing Israeli vehicle near the community of Beit El in Judea and Samaria, reported Israel Hayom. The Palestinian suspect was moderately wounded and taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for treatment. Soldiers who searched his body found a knife and a bottle of acid.

World War II record, according to interviews. Staff members are not willing to go on the record with their criticism citing a prohibition on speaking to the media, but several cultural critics and scholars are. Richard Brody, a film critic of The New Yorker, who is Jewish, told JTA in an email that he found the allegations in Casper’s original essay “cogent and troubling.” He said he hadn’t gone to see the Mekas exhibit but that he’d “expect any exhibit centered on him to address Casper’s findings seriously.” Also Jewish, film critic J. Hoberman, a lifelong Mekas admirer, had called Casper’s article a “bombshell” and said it “stirred up conflicted feelings.” He told JTA in an email that he has “great respect” for Casper’s scholarship and expressed misgivings about the exhibit. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Shandler, a professor of Jewish studies at Rutgers University who studies Jewish memory practices around the Holocaust, including the role museums play in commemorating Holocaust history, told JTA that he was disappointed with how the museum handled the topic. “They are taking at face value the narrative that Mekas had crafted about his wartime experience,” he said. “It would be problematic anywhere, in any museum. But I think it is doubly so in a Jewish museum. It really raises questions about their understanding of their mission.” Several people have pointed out with concern that the exhibit is funded in part by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Lithuanian Culture Institute and the Lithuanian Film Centre, which are government entities. Lithuania has a complicated relationship with its Holocaust past, struggling with the role that local collaboration played in the murder of 95% of the country’s prewar Jewish population. Years before the exhibit, a 94-year-old Mekas allowed himself to be interviewed by Casper but when Casper published his original essay the artist dismissed it as “fake news.” The incident prompted Mekas to submit to a six-hour interview with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. While some of Mekas’ friends and disciples expressed shock and dismay about Casper’s revelations, many people came to Mekas’ support, criticizing or even attacking Casper. “The wagons started circling immediately to protect a sacred figure of the avant-garde,” wrote Film Quarterly editor B. Ruby Rich. In defending Mekas, Taxter responded to a request for comment from JTA by sending sending a copy of Casper’s Jewish Currents essay annotated with dozens of comments, offering an almost pointby-point rebuttal. She disputed various facts and characterizations, writing that “Casper insinuates in this article and in his NYRB article that Mekas was a Nazi sympathizer or had Nazi allegiances, but he has yet to present any evidence to support the claim. In the absence of such substantiation, available historical material and Mekas’s biography have been accepted as fact.” She also claimed that Casper became so zealous about this work that he harassed Mekas or worse. “In ongoing correspondence between Michael Casper and Jonas Mekas, Casper regularly demanded information from Mekas under the guise of so-called testimony,” she wrote. “The tone of these emails is often aggressive, with the cumulative effect of these emails being that Casper was bullying or even threatening Mekas.” Casper rejected the notion that he harassed Mekas. “The sense of urgency behind my questioning only comes from it being at the tail end of our correspondence, and in response to Mekas’s own style at that time,” Casper told JTA. Jackie Hajdenberg contributed to this story. Southern New England Jewish Ledger


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Southern New England Jewish Ledger

May 17, 2022


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May 17, 2022

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Southern New England Jewish Ledger

for Summer Celebrations Summer is here! We’re gathering with family and friends and Big Y is ready with summer favorites for outdoor parties and Shabbat celebrations.

Scan the QR Code or visit for summer fun ideas.

May 17, 2022


Southern New England Jewish Ledger