Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget. Honoring all who served and all who are serving

We salute those who served and are serving to keep us safe and free on this Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day.
Poppy worn on the lapel for Veterans Day.
Veterans Day - Armistice Day - Remembrance Day
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Seeking Kin: Holocaust Museum wants to know if you recognize these children

Zvia Nizard, shown at age 7 in 1946
when she was known as Celine Jelen.
Stare at the boy’s picture and be utterly charmed by that winning smirk. What a handsome child he is, so nattily dressed in a pinstriped suit, striking a perfect bar mitzvah portrait pose. Such dark eyes, such perfectly combed straight-back locks. His thumb tilts against his chest as he holds a rectangle with hand-painted white letters proclaiming his name: Natan Rolnik….

The images’ backdrop, if not the subjects themselves, begs for mercy. Mug shots are what they are -- perverse mug shots, given that in the Shoah’s upside-down reality, these children were punished first, photographed second.

With Natan, Chaim and Anita presumably having aged into senior citizens, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum now seeks to fill in the blanks of their lives -- and the lives of the other 1,183 youthful visages appearing on the website of its Remember Me initiative.
Zvia Nizard is one of 230 people
already identified through the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Remember Me project.

Many Remember Me subjects were photographed at displaced persons’ camps and orphanages between 1945 and 1948 by such organizations as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration that sought to reunite them with surviving parents. Others were photographed for programs twinning children with Jews living in the United States and South America who provided financial assistance and other support.

Beyond the children’s names, so little is known about the vast majority of them that the website solicits visitors’ input. About 230 people from 11 countries have been identified since the program’s launch in March. For some families, a photograph represents a treasure, the only image of their loved one’s youth.  -- Hillel Kuttler, JTA

To read more, click here.

U.N. panel draft signals Palestinian statehood bid doomed

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
requesting Palestinian statehood on Sept. 23.
Photo by REUTERS/Eric Thayer
A key U.N. Security Council committee could not reach consensus on whether Palestine should be accepted as a U.N. member, a draft report said in the latest sign the Palestinian U.N. bid is doomed.

The body was “unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council,” said the report of the committee on admitting new member states, circulated to all 15 Security Council members on Tuesday.

The four-page draft appears to confirm that the Palestinian move to join the world body as a full member, which Western envoys said never had a chance due to a U.S. vow to veto it if it ever came to a vote in the council, is set to fail due to the council’s unresolvable deadlock. -- Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, via Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Harvard WhoDunit: How to foster a civil, substantive, satisfying Zionist conversation

McGill University professor Gil Troy
The standard narrative about Zionism on campus today is one of crisis and conflagration, of academic propagandizing and intellectual hooliganism, of Jewish students harassed and Israel defamed. Unfortunately these problems occur too frequently on too many campuses. We must be intolerant of the intolerant, confronting professors and students who violate academic ideals by committing academic malpractice in the classroom, bullying at student events, or distorting the truth in books and articles. But we should not overreact or exaggerate. Every day on many campuses, especially in North America, a civil, substantive, satisfying discussion about Israel and Zionism takes place.

On Monday, October 31, Harvard Hillel invited me to speak about “Building Identity Zionism: Envisioning a Positive, Liberal, Big-Tent Identity Zionism for the Twenty-first Century.” Frankly, I expected a small turnout – and was ready for a seminar-style exchange among a dozen or so thoughtful students. I also wondered whether there would be “fireworks.” Nevertheless, I prepared for the talk I wanted to give – emphasizing modern Zionism’s ideological meaning to Jews today – but thought about how to keep the discussion focused if hostile anti-Zionist forces tried hijacking it. -- Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Fugitive Prayer: A Personal History

First I learned that a wanted criminal from New York had fled to my Canadian shul; then I remembered that, as cantor, he’d begged God to forgive me

Sarah Lazarovic)
 Halfway through an article about immigration fraud in the erev Sukkot edition of the Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading daily, I realized that its subject, Earl Seth David, aka Rabbi Avraham David, had been sitting right in front of me in shul for the last five or six years.

Amused as I was to find out that Avrumie, as he was known in shul (with the accent on the second syllable), had been calling himself a rabbi—imagine Colonel Sanders claiming to have commanded the 82nd Airborne—I was amazed to discover that U.S. government investigators allege him to be the ringleader of “one of the largest immigration fraud schemes to have ever been committed in our country.”

According to charges filed by Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, David headed up a scheme that involved 26 others, among them employees at his law offices, to help illegal aliens obtain green cards for a fee. -- Michael Wex, Tablet Magazine

To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thirty-five million Americans harbor a hatred for Jews and number growing as economy continues to stall

Comstock/Getty Images
A new Anti-Defamation League survey found 15% of Americans hold deeply anti-Semitic views.
Anti-Defamation League survey shows the most-educated were least prejudice

Millions of Americans harbor an ugly secret — they’re suspicious of the Jews.

A nationwide survey released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League found that 15% of the country holds deeply anti-Semitic views — and as the economy worsens that number appears to be growing.

“It is disturbing that with all of the strides we have made in becoming a more tolerant society, anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vise-grip on a small but not insubstantial segment of the American public,” the ADL’s Abraham Foxman said.

Old stereotypes about Jews being pushy and controlling the economy are festering — especially among the least-educated Americans, the survey found….

On the plus side, even the anti-Semites gave Jews credit for their strong faith in God (79%), being big on family (84%), and for contributing to American cultural (64%). --  Corky Siemaszko, NY Daily News

To read more, click here.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, Alive in Times Square

In the basement of a converted theater on West 44th Street, tucked between the legendary Sardi's restaurant and a bowling alley, a block from Times Square and across the street from the musical Memphis, is Discovery Times Square.  A project of the Discovery Channel cable network, the space bills itself as "More than a Museum."  This is an unusually apt location for an exhibit called Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.

Discovery Times Square might seem like an unlikely place for this exhibit; indeed, putting ancient Jewish sectarian religious documents in such a venue, rather than a staid setting like the Metropolitan Museum uptown, may even seem gauche.  But in fact, nothing could be more logical than finding the biblical past at the crossroads of America's family-friendly tourism and entertainment center.  The biblical world and the Dead Sea Scrolls have escaped the prison of high culture and now appear alongside an exhibit on the forensic sciences and the popular television show CSI. -- Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read more, click here.

Israeli lawmakers slam end of alternative religious wedding project

Israeli lawmakers from diverse parties slammed the government's decision to prevent an organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis from performing religious wedding ceremonies for non-religious couples.

The Tzohar organization said Tuesday that Religious Services Minister Ya'akov Margi, a member of the haredi Orthodox Shas Party, told Tzohar that it would no longer be allowed to register couples with the ministry as married, effectively shutting down a service that has been marrying 3,000 couples a year free of charge.

A Jewish couple must have a religious ceremony in Israel in order to be recognized as married. Many travel abroad to marry in secular ceremonies. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

18 ex-senators make plea for Pollard’s release

A bipartisan slate of former U.S. senators urged President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

"We do not condone espionage, nor do we underestimate the gravity of Pollard's crime," says the Oct. 26 letter released to the public on Monday by advocates for Pollard and signed by 18 former senators. "But it is patently clear that Mr. Pollard's sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice."

The breadth of the signatories is significant because until recently, most of the pleas for clemency for Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel, have come from Democrats.

A number of the signatories have served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including Sens. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and David Durenberger (R-Minn.). -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Canadian government helps fund kosher food safety

Canada's federal government will help fund the safety of kosher food products.

Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who also is responsible for agriculture and agri-food, announced a grant of up to $764,000 to enhance the safety of kosher food products produced in Canada.

The announcement was made earlier this month at the offices of the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, also known as the Vaad Ha'ir, which is coordinating the effort across the country.

The Canadian Kosher Food Safety Initiative is aimed at ensuring the highest level of food safety at all phases, from the raw materials to processing, distribution and retailing, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

"Food safety is a priority for this government and for all Canadians," Paradis said. "This investment will further increase consumer confidence in the safety of kosher food and help build a more competitive sector."

The initiative also seeks to create a Canadian council on kosher food safety in which the different kosher brands are invited to participate, the CJN reported.

"This is in an effort to standardize food safety processes for the kosher industry," Vaad executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel said, adding that universities are being asked to assist in the development of standards.

Participation by industry and kashrut organizations is voluntary. -- JTA

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CW buys Israeli comedy-drama series

The CW network has bought the rights to an Israeli comedy-drama about a time-traveling filmmaker.

"Danny Hollywood" is about a young filmmaker who investigates the mysterious death of her musical idol. She travels back in time, meets and falls in love with him, and then tries to prevent his untimely death.

The show aired for 200 episodes on the YES Stars satellite channel.

The executive producers are Mark Harmon of "NCIS," Eric and Kim Tannenbaum of "Two and a Half Men," and Martha Haight.

It is the third television series based on an Israeli show in development this season. The others are "Life Isn’t Everything" on CBS and NBC’s adaptation of the mystery drama "Timrot Ashan," or "Pillars Of Smoke." -- JTA

Is Jerusalem in Israel? Supreme Court takes up passport case

Nine-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky sits
outside the U.S. Supreme Court
on November 8 after justices heard oral arguments
in the case his parents brought, focused on whether
Jerusalem-born American citizens,
such as Menachem, can have "Israel" listed
as their place of birth on their U.S. passports.
Photo by Richard Greenberg

The U.S. Supreme Court convened Monday to ponder the implications of a single word that is conspicuously missing from the passport of a 9-year-old boy who was born in Jerusalem.

His name is Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, the son of Ari and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, Americans who made aliyah in 2000.

Menachem was born at Shaare Zedek Hospital in western Jerusalem, but due to a controversial State Department policy, his U.S. passport does not designate “Israel” as his place of birth -- despite a federal statute enacted in October 2002 that says Americans born in Jerusalem are entitled to have Israel listed on their official papers as their birth country.
-- Richard Greenberg, JTA/Washington Jewish Post

To read more, click here.