Above, the Chilean Federation of Jewish Students protests discrimination.
Over at New Voices Magazine (my day job), we launched a new blog this week that Jewschoolers might be interested in. It’s called the Global Jewish Voice and it’s a way to jump-start a wider conversation that we normally have at New Voices. While New Voices is normally American or Israeli (and occasionally Canadian) in scope, the Global Jewish Voice is a fully international conversation about the lives of Jewish students and young adults.
The blog is staffed by 10 writers reporting on their lives on campus, in the workplace and at home. They are writing in from every corner of the globe, including Israel, the US, Chile, Spain, China, Canada, the UK and–no joke–Serbia. The blog’s student editor is based in Portland, Ore. There’s also an open submission policy.
A few highlights so far:
Reporting from the West Bank, Liran Shamriz describes the constant dilemma of being an army soldier and same-time sociology student:
This could quickly turn to riots – we need to get the hell out of here. We don’t even have bulletproof vests – any jerk in the street can knife me and disappear. I started to walk toward the trucks and my phone blinks again, this time from a Facebook message: “Shlomo gave us grades! I got a 91! I think he is good after all, he probably didn’t even check that well… how much did you get?”
Meanwhile in Chile, sometimes the struggle is more symbolic of living Jewishly in a non-Jewish world. University student Maxamilliano Grass is on the vanguard of Jewish student activism and pro-Israel work in a country with 75,000 Jews—and over 400,000 Palestinians: More »
That was my view in the Carpathians. The capital of hisboydedus.
It’s been exactly one week since my return to California. I was in Warsaw, Krakow and some small villages near Nowy Targ, in the heart of Polish Galicia. It has been a whirlwind of air travel and rugaluch for all three meals. When I sat at a café table here the other day with a friend who moved out of Brooklyn frum aristocracy to northern California, I got an earful. When I spoke of the Polish Jewish communities that welcomed me for Shabbosim, he said “They might as well be dead to me. There is nothing there but antisemites and martyrs in that country.”
at shul eating breakfast never felt so good. there are few veggie or kosher places in Warsaw.
Indeed, the members of the only shul in Warsaw are keenly aware of these types of things. They admit that there is a superstition that basically puports they don’t really
exist. “We know that most Jews come here to visit gravestones. American and Israeli Jews have somehow invested in the persecution and genocide that happened here. The byproduct of that is that we’re sometimes ignored.”
The Polish Jewish community is supported by a few foundations you may have heard of: Taube/Koret, Lauder and The Joint. These baaley-chesed are the plaques and the symbols. But the kind of dynamic examples of Jewish creativity in Poland, they are here in full force, operating underneath Zionist assumptions about the very essence of Jewish history. The Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow may seem like a minstrel show, but the few Polish and Western Jews who hang around it are just as troubled as you are about that. In Poland, us Jews can feel like Sitting Bull at a sideshow. You can also meet political and cultural activists wearing tzitzis running out a café for mincha. Of course, this person, raised Catholic, may have ‘discovered’ that their grandfather was a Jew and their going a little overboard with the mitzvos. It’s a special community no doubt, but with all that’s going on in Poyln, and all that’s being fought over in ideological and political battles about the identity of the Jews in Tel Aviv and New York, it is definitely among the most unafraid communities I’ve ever experienced. Shacharis is at 7:15, the hospitality is sweet and the history is pretty damn complex.
More to come, working on gathering some things. AGitShabbuhhhhs.
As we have seen plastered across TV, the Internet and newspapers, Haiti was rocked by a devastating earthquake, killing upwards of 100,000 people and leaving millions more without food, water, shelter or medical supplies. Please do your part (despite what Michael Steinhardt says) and donate whatever you can to help the island nation dig itself out and begin the painful rebuilding process. Below are just a few opportunities for you donate through a Jewish organization to help the survivors of this disaster.
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish World Service
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Joint Distribution Committee
Union for Reform Judaism
You can also Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to relief efforts in Haiti through the Red Cross.
Thank you for your help,
If you know of other Jewish organizations accepting donations or otherwise organizing to help the people of Haiti, please leave a comment with the necessary information.
“Indulge your creative side with GesherCity as we present Jewish art and media from New York City blended with Boston’s local scene” the postcard ad says. It’s a GesherCity Boston event on June 12 called HaMisiba (“the Party”), framing itself as a night of hip young Jew scene, at Phoenix Landing in Cambridge. I’m kind of irked. Don’t we have enough Jewish hip things going on in Boston that we don’t need to import it from New York?
I’m third generation Jewish Bostonian. Born and raised in the land of baked beans and frappes, Patriot’s day and the packie, the T and the Sawx, and I love that dirty water. Boston’s Jewish community is vibrant and even innovative. The Combined Jewish Philanthropies is a thriving arm of the federation that single-handedly created the position of synagogue educator by making community education a funding priority. Kosher restaurants, synagogues of every kind throughout the Boston area, young Jews and old Jews, indie minyans and enormous centuries old stained-glass structures — Boston’s a place in which you can make a Jewish life without a struggle.
Now, it may have to do with the Red Sox-Yankees battle of good over evil (and we will prevail, Ruby K, check those standings!), or it may be the smog, or it may be stubborn pride mixed with thinly veiled jealousy, but I really hate it when people act like the only thing cool and Jewish going on in America is in New York City. True, a huge number of American Jews live in New York City, and I think I still don’t fully understand the Jewyness of the place even after having visited it countless times, but still: we’ve got our own thang over here. And so do they in San Fran, Hotlanta, D.C., Miami, Philly, not to mention L.A. Why do we always have to be looking over our shoulder at what New York is doing? Do we really have to import Jewish culture from New York in order to be cutting edge?
And yet… as I write this from an apartment in Jerusalem, approaching my first Shavuot at the Kotel, I do know that it feels like the center of the universe here sometimes. Many times. Maybe because it is the center to my Diaspora. And I know that sometimes sheer quantity of people makes innovation happen, and although we are robust, we in the Hub of the Universe (that’s Beantown for those not in the know) don’t have the several million Jews crammed into one place to birth some of the stuff happening down in New York or happening here in Israel.
Maybe the difference is how we consider our Diasporas? What we consider their centers to be? For many Jews whose families come from New York or who grew up in New York, New York is the obvious Jerusalem to their Ann Arbor, or Washington, or even Boston. As someone who appreciates Israel but has no intention of making aliyah, who values both center and Diaspora equally and defines her role in the Jewish world as being completely tied up in the Diaspora, I submit that when we start appreciating and highlighting the unique contributions of all our many Diaspora communities, both can only become richer.
Oh yeah, and this GesherCity event, HaMisiba? It looks pretty cool. Check it out. Jewschool may show up to wow the crowd, stay tuned.
According to a story in yesterday’s Washington Post, there’s a slew of “how-to” business guides being sold in China capitalizing on the rich-Jew stereotype. Titles such as The Legend of Jewish Wealth and Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives are flying off book shelves.
Several of the books… focus on basic business acumen that has little to do with religion or culture. But others focus on explaining how Judaism has ostensibly helped Jewish people’s success, even quoting extensively from the Talmud.
Folks’ feelings on these books seem to be very mixed, with some understandable apprehension.
Wang Zhen, a researcher at the Center for Jewish Studies, also says he recognizes that the stereotypes can be considered anti-Semitic but thinks it’s important that “even if people in China have the wrong impressions of Jewish people, the Chinese are very kind to them.”
I hope these get translated into English – I’d love a copy.
Full story here.
You just don’t get idiocy like this on C-SPAN.
The Mail & Guardian Online reports:
An ANC [African National Congress] MP cited the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the infamous anti-Semitic forgery used by the Nazis — as a credible document at a recent Iranian-sponsored academic seminar in Pretoria.
Farida Mahomed agreed recently she had asked a Jewish seminar delegate, Claudia Braude: “Are the protocols still relevant to you in todayâ€™s time? How do we apply this balanced approach to reconciliation when we read them and they are totally the opposite?”
Was she being serious? Was she attempting to use the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an academic source to be “reconciled” with modern events? Surely she must know they have no validity.
Interviewed this week, Mahomed said she was unaware the protocols had been exposed as a hoax. Mahomed said that she had read the protocols on the internet but had not researched them.
Asked whether she thought they had ever been â€œrelevantâ€, she replied: “I canâ€™t make a comment. They must have been relevant or they would never have been written.”
Yet when asked about the Holocaust:
Asked for her views on the Holocaust, Mahomed said: “I donâ€™t want to comment on something that I havenâ€™t done research on. I wouldnâ€™t want to be influenced by any scholar.”
It’s just plain sad. This is an elected official. In a country as modern as South Africa, elected officials are, in 2006, asking Jews at conferences for their official positions on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
President Thabo Mbeki already urged Hamas to “accept Israel” and the official South African position is a “two state solution” with “secure borders”. This is no Ahmadinejad. Anti-Semitism in South Africa is also nowhere near the levels of its European counterparts.
This is no more than one MP’s anti-Semitism born out of unabashed ignorance. Ignorance so bad, it’s pitiful. (Hat tip to EOZ.)
Amazing – was skimming Boing Boing and noticed that Stephen Hawking had posted a question to Yahoo! Answers. What kind of question would stump Mr. Hawking? …a good question…
After seeing the overwhelming presence of Jews at the Darfur rally, I knew it was only a matter of time…
Todayâ€™s demonstration in Washington was organized by a coalition called â€œSave Darfur.â€ It describes itself as â€œan alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organizations.â€ The Jerusalem Post provides additional information: â€œLittle knownâ€¦is that the coalitionâ€¦was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.â€ The American Holocaust Museum has been conspicuously involved, and while many people feel that the term â€œgenocideâ€ should be used very sparingly the Museum hasnâ€™t hesitated to draw parallels between the Shoah and the Darfur situation. Joining Jewish organizations are evangelical Zionist Christian groups who see Sudan as a prime mission ground in these Latter Days.
Weâ€™re talking about a rally urging a US/NATO intervention in Africaâ€™s largest country, legitimated by the UN strong-armed by a thuggish neocon-led administration in Washington. Weâ€™re talking potentially about regime change in Africaâ€™s second-largest oil producer, in the context of planned U.S. strikes against Syria and Iran. Should anyone in the antiwar movement with a minimal knowledge or recent history be comfortable with that, or suppose that it could be fully benign?
By all means, may the people of Darfur, including those in the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army (if indeed they represent liberation), using any means necessary, fight their oppression and seek international allies in the process. And let those Americans whoâ€™ve really studied the situation and wish to assist the struggle of Darfurâ€™s oppressed provide such help as they can — especially if they do so while fighting oppression globally without any skewed agenda. But let the U.S. antiwar movement not confuse friends with enemies, and in that confusion help those Martin Luther King Jr. once called â€œthe greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.â€
Apparently it’s just the Jews using Darfur to cover up our “ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians.”
I grant that the author does have a point (which my husband actually wrote a thesis on) in that US action in Darfur would, in fact, be imperialist. This does not necessarily mean that it is wrong, however. US invervention in the death camps of WWII was an imperialist action, and we were right to do it. When hundreds of thousands are being slaughtered, perhaps it is appropriate for outsiders to impose their values on the situation.
Read the full article by Professor Gary Leupp or Tufts, as published on Dissident Voice.
[Ed's Note] See also: Arieh Leibowitz @ Meretz Blog and Kelsey The Ghetto Jew, tho do pay extra attention to the comments from Xisnotx.
Since last Thursday, my personal spiritual practice of omer counting has been, well – lazy. I went to my student pulpit in the Virgin Islands and took less and less time to sit and reflect as I counted. Yet, out of all the weeks, this one – week two – is the one in which we are supposed to focus on the characteristic of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ which literally means strength, but is extended to include stringency, particularly in regards to justice and punishing the wicked. (Those of you who caught my dvar Torah last Friday know I have issues with this as well). In any case, just as I’ve been thinking about my lack of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ in omer counting intentions, out pops three major coinciding important days:
- April 24, Armenian Genocide Day.
- 28 Nisan / April 24-25, Yom Hashoah V’hagevurah (the Memorial Day for the Holocaust and Heroism)
- The Save Darfur Rally this Sunday, April 30 in Washington, DC
There has been much space on the pages of Jewschool lately with information about #2 and #3, so I will just briefly add a few things I’ve come across:
- The date of April 24 as the memorial day for Armenian Genocide came to my attention when recently reading the book At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. In one of the chapters, the author, Yossi Klein HaLevi, joins a group of Armenians living in the Old City of Jerusalem on this day. Notably, the Wiki entry on “Armenian Genocide” cannot be edited since there is apparent dispute about this issue.
- Aaron Dorfman, is the Director of Jewish Education at American Jewish World Service wrote an excellent piece for MyJewishLearning.com about Jewish perspectives on the responsibility to respond to genocide.
- The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900â€“1959), a Polish Jewish legal scholar, in 1943, from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin – occidere or cideo – to massacre). Dorfman makes reference to Lemkin in direct connection with Armenian genocide, while the Wiki entry on genocide does not mention Armenia at all.
May this week of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ be one of reflection and hope, whether you are mourning past genocides or speaking out against modern day genocide, whether you connected these events to your Zionism, or you recall them at other times.
So, you’re going to Washington, DC the Save Darfur rally on Sunday, April 30. Me too! See you there!!
If you’re planning on heading to DC on Friday (or would like to), some members of the DC Jewish community would like to invite you to a Shabbat evening gathering:
TIKKUN LEIL SHABBAT April 28 at 7 pm with DC Reform Chavurah
A songful, soulful Sabbath service including a teaching about a social justice issue and followed by a potluck vegetarian dinner.
Religious Action Center: 2027 Massachusetts Ave NW in Dupont Circle (Red line Metro to Dupont Circle, north exit)
Teach-in presenters include: Jacob Feinspan of American Jewish World Service & Elizabeth Cohan, recently returned from Darfur, Sudan
For more information or with specific concerns please contact us at tikkunleilshabbat – at -yahoo.com
See ZT’s blog for more information, including directions, speakers bios, and FAQ’s.
For those of you currently in Japan, you have one week left to see the current all-Japanese production of Fiddler On The Roof. For the rest of us, there’s this Windows Media file with sublime (and slightly surreal) footage of the production. All the gestures, the dances, the melodies – but in Japanese. I can’t stop watching it.
Earlier: A great poster.
Marc Perelman reports in The Forward:
The Venezuelan Jewish community leadership and several major American Jewish groups are accusing the Simon Wiesenthal Center of rushing to judgment by charging Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez, with making antisemitic remarks.
Officials of the leading organization of Venezuelan Jewry were preparing a letter this week to the center, complaining that it had misinterpreted Chávez’s words [see page 18] and had failed to consult with them before attacking the Venezuelan president.
Both the AJCommittee and the American Jewish Congress seconded the Venezuelan community’s view that Chávez’s comments were not aimed at Jews. All three groups said he was aiming his barbs at the white oligarchy that has dominated the region since the colonial era, pointing to his reference to Bolivar as the clearest evidence of his intent.
One official noted that Latin America’s so-called Liberation Theology has long depicted Jesus as a socialist and consequently speaks of gentile business elites as “Christ-killers.”
The JTA reports,
Like the Orthodox synagogues in Rio, Bonderâ€™s congregation chants in Hebrew. Congregants wear yarmulkes and prayer shawls, and most keep kosher. Many also attend daily services in the morning and afternoon.
But as is common in the renewal movement, Bonderâ€™s services feature a lively musical accompaniment, in this case a guitarist, flutist and keyboard player. Some congregants occasionally join hands and spontaneously break into a circle dance around seated or standing prayers.
The rabbiâ€™s sermon, which ends the service, often embraces mystical, kabbalistic teachings.
Women also read from the Torah, and men and women sit together, unlike the seating arrangements at the 20 Orthodox synagogues in Rio.
Rabbi Henry Sobel, the head of Congregacao Israelita Paulista, the largest liberal congregation in Latin America with 12,000 members, praised Bonder, as being “a novelty, in the best sense of the word.â€
“Russia will do everything necessary to stop attempts to introduce sanctions against Syria,” spokesman Mikhail Kalmynin told Interfax news agency and other Russian media on the sidelines of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s trip to Israel.
Meanwhile, Russian Interfax news agency reports:
Russia is ready to continue its political dialogue with Iran and expand cooperation in all areas, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said at a Wednesday meeting with Iranian First Vice President Parviz Dadwoodi in Moscow.
Israel’s Channel 2 has reported that at the Pope’s Funeral, Moshe Katsav, president of Israel shook hands with both President Bashar of Syria (twice!) and President Katami of Iran. Yedioth Ahronoth headlined its Web site report “Historic encounter in Rome“. Yedioth also reports that the President of Algeria approached Katsav, hugged him, and also shook his hand. Regarding his enounter with Bashar, Katsav said:
“I told him ‘Good morning’ and he shook my hand”
Katsav – born in Iran – reportedly spoke in his native Farsi to President Khatami about the city in which they were both born. Regarding his encounter with Khatami, Katsav is reported to have said:
“The president of Iran extended his hand to me, I shook it and told him in Farsi, ‘May peace be upon you‘”
Katsav goes on to claim that the handshakes and greetings were meaningless but I don’t believe him. Of course it’s symbolic, but symbolism has meaning. Don’t forget: everything great starts from a small beginning. As Yedioth Ahronoth notes, “The surprising encounter marks the first time a Syrian leader [has shaken] hands with an Israeli president.”
Read all about it here.
The Scotman reports,
The caretaker of Afghanistan’s only functioning synagogue — and the countryâ€™s second-to-last Jew — has died after years of bitter feuding with the only other survivor of a once-thriving community.
Ishaq Levin, aged about 80, died, apparently of natural causes, in his quarters in the small synagogue in Kabul, said his 45-year-old Jewish neighbour, Zebulon Simentov.
On a related note:
The Pashtun, the main Afghan ethnic group and Taliban supporters, also believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel , and later converted to Islam. Dozens of Pashtun names and customs sound Jewish, from the Pashtun tribe names of Asheri and Naftali to the Pashtun custom of a wedding chupah and the circumcising of the sons on the eighth day after birth. The Pashtuns claim that the city of Kabul stands for “Cain and Abel” and Afghanistan is derived from “Afghana,” the grandson of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin.
Read more on the subject here and here.
A serious-sounding disagreement has broken out between Israel’s Defense Ministry and the US Pentagon over Israel’s sale of Harpy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to China. Gideon Alon writes in Ha’aretz:
“According to media reports, Israel failed to report to the U.S. the complete details of an arms deal involving the sale of assault drones to China.”
James Besser writes in Jewish Week:
“[A] top Jewish defense analyst said the Harpy issue is just the tip of the iceberg. [...] Israeli officials, Jewish leaders here warn, may be ignoring the possibility the military technology they sell to China could end up in Iran â€” a major buyer of weapons from China.”
It reminds me of a famous quote from Mark Twain- “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”