Friday, January 27, 2012

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012

A special poster exhibition is part of an international project to encourage design students from around the world to express their views on the issue of remembering the Holocaust.
Art by Isabel Hahn
The 2012 observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust will focus on the theme "Children and the Holocaust". One-and-a-half million Jewish children perished in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. Some children managed to survive in hiding, others fled to safe havens before it was too late, while many others suffered medical experiments or were sent to the gas chambers immediately upon arriving at the death camps.

To read more, click here.

Varian Fry--The Rescuer

Varian Fry led the effort to save Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, and thousands of other European intellectuals from the Nazis. Why was he forgotten?
(Owen Smith)
Between 1940 and 1941, working out of a hotel room and later a small office in the French port city of Marseille, Varian Fry rescued hundreds of artists, writers, musicians, composers, scientists, philosophers, intellectuals, and their families from the Nazis, taking enormous personal risks to bring them to the United States. Fry was one of the only American “righteous Gentiles,” a man who voluntarily risked everything to save others, with no personal connection to those he saved. At the age of 32, Fry had volunteered to go to France on behalf of the Emergency Rescue Committee, an ad hoc group of American intellectuals formed in 1940 for the purpose of distributing emergency American visas to endangered European artists and thinkers. The U.S. Department of State, which initially supported the committee’s mission, slowly turned against it in favor of its supposed allies in the “unoccupied” pro-Nazi French government—to the point of arranging for Fry’s arrest and expulsion from France in 1941. During Fry’s 13 months in Marseille, he managed to rescue 2,000 people, including a hand-picked list of the brightest stars of European culture—Hannah Arendt, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and André Breton, to name a few.  -- Dara Horn, Tablet

To read more, click here.

New Yiddish to Japanese Dictionary Has 28,000 Entries

Yiddish-Japanese Dictionary/Yidish-Yapanish Verterbukh/Idisshu-go jiten
Compiled and edited by Kazuo Ueda,
with the aid of Holger Nath and Boris Kotlerman
Daigakusyorin, 1302 pages
Rabbi Marvin Tokayer of Great Neck, N.Y., knows from Japan. “In 1969, I was living in Tokyo and I got a telephone call at my house from a guy who was Japanese who was ‘fumfing’ a little bit,” recalled Tokayer, the author of 20 books in Japanese (including the best-selling “Wisdom of the Talmud”) and Japan’s only rabbi at the time. “Either he was mumbling or stuttering or talking Japanese over my head…. He was calling from a pay phone in the street, so you heard the cars, and I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. So I said to him: ‘What languages do you speak? What languages do you know?’ So he says, ‘Japanese, German, a little English and Yiddish.’ I said, “Yidish, kenst redn yidish? [Yiddish? You can speak Yiddish?]’ He says, ‘Yo [Yes]’ and I said, ‘Kum aher, come over right now. I want to see you.’”

Ross Perlin, Forward

To read more, click here.

Day Schools See Future With Non-Jews

Mixed Bag: Some Jewish schools see accepting non-Jewish students
as an answer to dwindling enrollment.
But others see a threat to maintaining Jewish identity.
Before sending her 6-year-old son, Charlie, off to day school in September, Brenda Hite wondered if she’d made the right decision. Neither Hite nor her husband, Tom, are Jewish, but the public school options in their hometown of Akron, Ohio, didn’t enthrall them. So they applied to the local Lippman School, which impressed the Hites with its new global perspective and its energetic and experienced educators.

“Once we learned more about the Jewish culture and religion, and how steeped everything is in Old World values, the Lippman School became very attractive to us,” said Hite, who, like her husband, grew up in a Christian household. Also, she said, “It didn’t feel like Charlie would get the individualized attention at a public school that he would receive at Lippman.” --  Elicia Brown, Forward

To read more, click here.

The children’s museum adults love too

The Children’s Museum is the fourth most visited museum in Israel.
The Israel Children's Museum in Holon encourages parents and children alike to explore, touch, feel, climb and discover. --  Daniel Ben-Tal, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Birmingham [GA]-Area Church Says No to Anti-Semitism

The Birmingham Jewish Federation learned recently that the sign at a Birmingham area church was vandalized to communicate an anti-Semitic message. The letters on the sign of Mount Signal Baptist Church in Chelsea were rearranged to read "Jews suck."

A woman driving by the church saw the sign and stopped. When she saw letters scattered on the ground she realized it was an act of vandalism and called the Shelby County sheriff's department.

The Shelby County Reporter did a story on the incident and quoted the church's pastor, Leonard Irvin. "It just kind of disturbed us. We are Christians and have theological differences with the Jewish faith, but we are rooted in the Jewish faith," he said. "We are not a hate group, not anti-Semitic. We do not consider them (Jews) as enemies; we consider them as friends. We respect the Jewish people."

Pastor Irvin quickly posted a new message on the church's sign: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you." He wanted those that may have seen the anti-Semitic message to know that "those weren't our feelings."

To read more, click here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One woman shares her extraordinary story as a concentration camp survivor

Kitty Hart-Moxon receiving her OBE [Order of the British Empire]
from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003
Kitty Hart-Moxon was 16 when she arrived at the notorious Nazi death camp. Against all odds, she survived there for almost two years. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day Louette Harding discovers how Kitty’s eyewitness account of the horrors has the power to transform attitudes nearly 70 years on. -- Louette Harding, Mail (UK)

To read more, click here.

Ancient Jewish scrolls found in north Afghanistan

The 150 or so documents, dated from the 11th century,
were found in Afghanistan's Samangan province.
A cache of ancient Jewish scrolls from northern Afghanistan that has only recently come to light is creating a storm among scholars who say the landmark find could reveal an undiscovered side of medieval Jewry.

The 150 or so documents, dated from the 11th century, were found in Afghanistan's Samangan province and most likely smuggled out -- a sorry but common fate for the impoverished and war-torn country's antiquities.

Israeli emeritus professor Shaul Shaked, who has examined some of the poems, commercial records and judicial agreements that make up the treasure, said while the existence of ancient Afghan Jewry is known, their culture was still a mystery. -- Amie Ferris-Rotman, Reuters

To read more, click here.

Spreading the Hebrew word

Hebrew’s influence penetrated Western civilization through words like adventure, freedom, progress, and spirit
Photo by Courtesy
Of the 6,000 extant languages, half will disappear in less than a century; half of the world population speaks 10 languages alone. Gaging a language’s importance according to how many native speakers it numbers would place Hebrew at number 70, yet its influence is much broader.

Of the almost 300 languages that have Wikipedias, Hebrew is among the top 30. With more than 100,000 entries, it is considered the second best in the quantity and quality of its articles, and has the highest number of bytes per article among the top Wikipedias. The Hebrew version is used daily by almost 40 percent of the population of our country, one of the highest percentages in the world.

Cyberspace aside, Hebrew’s presence is felt in most languages, which include dozens of words like amen, hallelujah, jubilee and sabbatical, and more than 100 everyday sayings and phrases such as broken heart, drop in the bucket, nest of vipers, breath of life, flesh and blood, and a voice crying in the wilderness. Adages like a leopard cannot change its spots, a soft answer turns away wrath, my brother’s keeper, and eat, drink and be merry are all of Hebrew lineage. -- Gustavo D. Perednik, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Goodbye to All That

Colegio y Centro Social, Cultural y Deportivo Hebraica,
the hub of social life for Jewish Caracas, Venezuela,
under the slopes of the Ávila mountain.
Photo by Matthew Fishbane
For generations, the Jews of Caracas had idyllic weather, prosperity, and vibrant communal organizations. Things have changed under Hugo Chávez. -- Tablet

To read more, click here.

Virtual peace conference takes place on Facebook

A virtual peace conference for Jewish and Arab young leaders was held on Facebook.

Monday's conference was sponsored by the Yala Young Leaders' group, which seeks to promote dialogue among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, and the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv. The Yala Facebook page has more than 40,000 members, mostly from the Middle East.

Participants gathered in a virtual space using a Facebook software program called Shaker. Each participant had an online avatar that could walk through the virtual conference hall and interact with the other participants.

"Peace is not necessarily a monopoly of governments," Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a pre-recorded statement. "It can be and should be peace among people. So let the government negotiate, let the administration build, but you make the people come together: straight, directly, openly."

Other speakers included Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"This conference is an opportunity for all of you, both Arab and Israeli, to engage in dialogue about your shared future and about peace in the region, as well as your day-to-day problems, worries and dreams," Clinton said.

Some statements on the Yala Facebook page questioned the validity of the conference.

"shame on you palestinias stuped youth that thinking about joining this conference," wrote one. The comment, and others like it, was later removed from the page. -- JTA

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family’s Holocaust past drives Aussie lawyer in efforts for indigenous peoples

Mark Leibler
The co-chair of a panel aimed to “end the exclusion” of Australia’s indigenous peoples from the nation’s constitution cited the effects of the Holocaust on his family as a driving force in his work.

Mark Leibler, a Melbourne lawyer and co-chair of the Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, wrote in an op-ed Jan. 20 in The Age newspaper that “racism doesn't just belong in another place or time. It casts a shadow here in Australia because it is still part of our nation's constitution.”

The panel the previous day released a report, ordered by the prime minister, into changing the constitution to recognize that Australia was first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

A Bronx Tale

After the congregants of an Orthodox synagogue could no longer afford their rent, they found help in the local mosque.
Members of the Chabad of East Bronx worship in
the Islamic Cultural Center of North America.
Photo by Ted Regencia
Near the corner of Westchester Avenue and Pugsley Street in Parkchester, just off the elevated tracks of the No. 6 train, Yaakov Wayne Baumann stood outside a graffiti-covered storefront on a chilly Saturday morning. Suited up in a black overcoat with a matching wide-brimmed black fedora, the thickly bearded 42-year-old chatted with elderly congregants as they entered the building for Shabbat service.

The only unusual detail: This synagogue is a mosque. -- Ted Regencia and Lindsay Minerva, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Park City shul is a popular venue for Sundance films—and ski-in Shabbat services

Temple Har Shalom, Park City's Reform synagogue,
is one of the venues for the Sundance Film Festival.
Temple Har Shalom
Call it the Sundance Synaplex.

This week, crowds of people will be flocking several times a day to Temple Har Shalom in this picturesque ski town, but they won’t be coming for Shacharit, Mincha or Maariv services.

Instead, for 10 days the synagogue is serving as one of the venues of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, with five screenings daily through Jan. 29.

It’s the fourth consecutive year that Har Shalom has become the “Temple Theatre” -- one of the many elements that makes this Reform synagogue unusual.

Another is that Har Shalom is probably the only shul in the world with ski-in/ski-out services. -- Matthew Weinstein, JTA

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud

Is it possible for a religious demand for modesty to be about anything other than men controlling women’s bodies? From recent events in Israel, it would certainly seem that it is not.
Jennifer Uman
Last month, an innocent, modestly dressed 8-year-old girl, Naama Margolese, living in Beit Shemesh, described being spat on and vilified by religious extremists — all men — who believed that she did not dress modestly enough while walking past them to the religious school she attends. And more and more, public buses in Israel are enforcing gender segregation imposed by ultra-Orthodox riders in and near their neighborhoods. Woe to the girl or woman who refuses to move to the back of the bus.

This is part of a larger battle being waged in Israel between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society over women’s place in society, over their very right to have a visible presence and to participate in the public sphere.

What is behind these deeply disturbing events?  -- Dov Linzer, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Frock Stars

Sarai Mitnick/Flickr
A roving consignment shop run by two Australians helps its Orthodox Brooklyn clientele navigate the line between modesty and style. -- Alyson Krueger, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Making / History - The Synagogue Replication Project

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in collaboration with Handshouse Studio, is rebuilding components of an exquisite 17th-century wooden synagogue. This historic structure will be set within the stunning architectural space of the modern building being planned. The Museum is under construction on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto facing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument, and is scheduled to open in 2013. -- Trillium Studios

To view  video, click on image below

Making / History - The Synagogue Replication Project from Trillium Studios on Vimeo.

To read more go to:

Boston doctor finds treating transgender youth a transforming experience

Dr. Norman Spack
Photo by Penny Schwartz
In a family of prominent Jewish educators, Norman Spack could be called the rebel. He became a doctor….

As the co-founder of the country’s first clinic devoted to treating children with gender disorders, and as a leading authority on transgender youth, Spack has found himself at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about a widely misunderstood condition and to help transgender people secure their fundamental rights.

“If we shun people, we never get the experience of knowing how special they are and understanding how courageous they are,” Spack told JTA.

A pediatric endocrinologist with deep roots in Boston's Jewish community, Spack was first exposed to transgenderism, a medical condition in which individuals do not identify with the gender into which they were born, in the mid-1970s. Spack at the time was treating street kids as a volunteer on a medical van in Boston. Many of the young people were “throwaway kids,” Spack said, having been shunned by their families and schools for gender variant behavior. -- Penny Schwartz, JTA

To read more, click here.

Opinion: It is time for another Durban Conference and time for truth

It is time for another Durban Conference.

No, I’m not asking for a repeat of the U.N.-sponsored festival of Jew-hatred that took place in South Africa in 2001.

The last thing we need is to have Israel demonized by Islamists and their allies in the West.

We do not need another conference where so-called human-rights activists lament the fact that Hitler did not “finish the job” and where Arab lawyers hand out booklets with swastikas superimposed over the Jewish Star of David. --  Dexter Van Zile, JointMedia News Service via JewishJournal

To read more, click here.

Snow and sports on the Hermon

Israel's only ski resort, which turns 40 this winter, is ready for record numbers this winter season, after significant snowfall allowed the opening of the slopes. -- Desmond Bentley, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Forty years after Ski Hermon’s opening, Israelis have become more sophisticated skiers.
To read more, click here.

Meghalaya, India: Where women rule, and men are suffragettes

Timothy Allen

In the small hilly Indian state of Meghalaya, a matrilineal system operates with property names and wealth passing from mother to daughter rather than father to son - but some men are campaigning for change. -- Timothy Allen, BBC News

To read more, click here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tracking the ‘Voyage of the Damned’--a story for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27

Shortly before Sept. 11, 2001, Scott Miller visited the New York City municipal archives to place the final piece in a 937-piece puzzle. That was when he learned the fate of Rosalie Moser, the final passenger of the S.S. St. Louis whose fate he had yet to ascertain….

Fred Buff, 90, was part of the first group of 30-40 survivors who the museum found through their survivors registry. A teenager at the time, Buff carries a leather briefcase of photos, newsclippings and other primary sources documenting his voyage. Among them are a few amusing photos of him cavorting with young women on the ship -- none of whom are his wife of 66 years, Lotte, who accompanies him on his speaking engagements. A longtime resident and Jewish lay leader in Paramus, N.J., Buff only began sharing his memories to public schools and large groups in 1999, many of which were compiled in a translation of his diary published that year. Asked why he waited so long to begin sharing, Lotte replied "he was working," noting that he retired from his air foam manufacturing business at the age of 80.

While Buff was easy to trace, Miller's discovery of the other passengers of the St. Louis were serendtipitous. Beginning in the mid-1990s -- before the arrival of Facebook and other social networking technology --  Miller began placing ads like this one in various newspapers. The first ad placed was in a small German language Tel Aviv newspaper called Israel-Nachtrichen. The day the ad was published, Miller received an email.

"Dear Mr. Miller, My name today is Michael Barak, but in 1939, aboard the St. Louis, my name was Michael Fink," one of the names listed in the ad.

"I was five years old. I think you’re looking for me.” -- Adam Soclof, JTA

To read more, click here.

Pro-Faith Pro-Family Pro-Choice: Observe the Roe v. Wade Anniversary by Staying Vigilant and Taking Action

As the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice [RCRC] celebrates the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the war on women rages on, and we who trust women and respect their decisions must renew our commitment to protecting this landmark Supreme Court ruling. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court said, in simple terms, that women have a constitutional right to privacy to make decisions about whether to have an abortion. Because this decision involves moral as well as medical considerations, the Court ruled, a woman has the right to consider her personal circumstances and the dictates of her conscience.

It’s especially important for the pro-faith community to speak out now. For the past year, zealots in Congress and state legislatures – many of whom preach the sanctity of privacy and freedom from government – have relentlessly waged a vicious war on women’s access to health care.  More than 1,000 bills were introduced in state legislatures, including the Ohio “heartbeat” bill banning abortion after the 6th or 7th week of gestation, and numerous bills requiring pregnant women to have ultrasounds.  In 2011, 92 anti-abortion provisions were enacted – the most in any year since Roe v. Wade was decided!

Editor's note: WLCJ is a member supporter of RCRC
To read more, click here.

Israel firm says no more credit card scams

The team behind BillGuard
Israeli web app, currently available in the US, aims to save consumers and banks from scams, bad billing practices, double charges and flat-out errors. -- Ariel Blum, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

To view BillGuard Trailer, click on image below.

Opinion: Saudi Women Shatter the Lingerie Ceiling

Newsha Tavakolian for the International Herald Tribune
A social revolution began in Saudi Arabia this month, and it has little if anything to do with the Arab Spring. Women are going to work in lingerie shops.

The Ministry of Labor is enforcing a royal decree issued last summer ordering that sales personnel in shops selling garments and other goods, like cosmetics, that are only for women must be female. More than 28,000 women applied for the jobs, the ministry said. Anywhere else in the world, it would not be news that sales assistants in shops selling panties and bras were female. In Saudi Arabia, where women have always been excluded from the public work force, it is a critical breakthrough. This is not just about intimate garments; this is a milestone on the arduous path to employment equality for women in a country where they are systematically excluded from retail activity.  -- Thomas W. Lippman, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Spiegelman among National Jewish Book Awards winners

Art Spiegelman
Photo by Nadja Spiegelman
Author and illustrator Art Spiegelman and Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld are among the winners of the 2011 National Jewish Book Awards.

The awards, which were announced Wednesday, are given out annually by the Jewish Book Council to honor outstanding books of Jewish interest.

Spiegelman’s new book, “MetaMaus:  A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus,” took the prize in the Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir category. The judges describe it “as brilliant and paradigm-shattering as…Maus… a work of genius.”

Appelfeld won his third National Jewish Book Award in fiction for “Until the Dawn’s Light.” Ned Beauman, the 26-year-old author of “Boxer, Beetle,” won in the Outstanding Debut Fiction category.

Simon Sebag Montefiore was honored with the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award for his epic history, “Jerusalem:  The Biography.”

This year, the Jewish Book Council will recognize the contributions of board member Myra H. Kraft, who died in July. The Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award in Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice, endowed by her husband, Robert Kraft, and her family, has been established for her dedication to the world of Jewish literature. It will be presented to Rabbi David A. Teutsch for his book “A Guide to Jewish Practice: Everyday Living.”

Other winners include Hirsch Goodman in the History category for “The Anatomy of Israel’s Survival;” Julie Chibbaro in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category for “Deadly,” and Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky in the Women’s Studies category for “The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth.”

The awards will be presented March 14 in New York. A complete list of the winners can be seen here. The Jewish Book Council has been giving out the National Jewish Book Awards since 1948. -- JTA via JewishJournal

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clergy Push Debbie Friedman Song

As First Yahrzeit Approaches, Her 'Shalom Aleichem' Enters the Canon -- Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Forward

To read more and to listen to Debbie Friedman Sing "Shalom Aleichem," click here.

Debbie Friedman’s Transformative Havdalah Melody

The late songwriter’s melody for the Havdalah ceremony swept through Jewish communities and camps like wildfire, inspiring other songwriters and igniting an interest in the ritual that is still being felt. -- Elicia Brown, Jewish Women International

To read more and to see an accompanying video, click here.


Opinion: Debbie Friedman’s gift

-- Susan Freudenheim, Jewish Journal

To read, click here.

Stem cells to slow ALS?

A groundbreaking study in Jerusalem is evaluating a new therapy using a patient's own enhanced stem cells to fight a deadly neurological disease.
BrainStorm acting CEO Adrian Harel
The muscle wasting caused by Lou Gehrig's disease - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - is quick and fatal, with many not surviving five years after diagnosis. Internal organs eventually shut down, leading to respiratory failure. But promising stem cell research from laboratories at Tel Aviv University is the basis of a new drug that could stop the wasting process and improve survival odds. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

A powerful way to save energy

Israeli startup Greenlet

Israeli startup's customer-installed Greenlet system reveals household energy hogs, rewards energy savings and allows electric companies to monitor usage remotely.
-- David Halevi, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

The badly kept secret of Israel's trade throughout the Muslim world

There's a good chance that Iran's computer systems, the electricity in Indonesian PM's office and the body armor protecting Saudi soldiers came from Israel.
Employees working at the Tripoli port.
Photo by: AP
Motti (not his real name ), a businessman with connections in Arab countries, was stunned several months ago when representatives of a well-known Israeli food company asked him to check the possibility of exporting to Iran. They told him an Iranian company had approached them through contacts abroad.

Motti refused. He didn't want to violate the embargo. But since then, he says, he's discovered that quite a few local companies and businessmen trade indirectly with Israel's number one enemy. So he wasn't shocked by a Bloomberg News story three weeks ago about Allot Communications selling Internet surveillance and monitoring equipment to Iran over five years through a Danish distributor.  -- Shuki Sadeh, The Marker, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

British nun who saved Jews from Shoah on way to sainthood

A British nun who saved dozens of Jews in Rome during the Holocaust has been advanced on the road to sainthood.

Britain’s Catholic Herald newspaper said the file on Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hamrough, who died in1966, was sent recently to the Vatican for investigation by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Mother Riccarda was the director of the Bridgettine Sisters order and spent most of her life as a nun in Rome at the order’s mother house. In 1943, after the Nazi occupation of Rome, she saved about 60 Roman Jews by hiding them in the convent.

The cause for her sainthood was opened in July 2010, along with that of another British Bridgettine nun. The Catholic Herald said that the rapid completion of the first stage in the investigation of their causes represented a “quick and early step forward in the long road to becoming saints.” According to the report, several Jews gave evidence on behalf of Mother Riccarda, saying that while hiding in the convent they had nicknamed her “mama.” -- JTA