Archive for the ‘Jewish American Heritage Month’ Category

Amerike singing – The Jewish Standard

Its extraordinary, when you think about it, this country of ours.

Thats always a loaded statement to make these days; tempers are so high, political divisions are so deep, mistrust is so pervasive.

But still.

We are celebrating the Fourth of July this week, the time when the founders of this country, along with the less powerful people they represented, risked everything we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor, they said, the exuberance of their capitalization underscoring the depth of their resolve to create a new kind of state in the New World.

It was, of course, not an untarnished state the founders created human beings were enslaved but it was the start of a brave new experiment. It remains very far from perfect, but on the Fourth of July we still explode fireworks of hope and joy.

Some of those fireworks soar and crest and rain colored fire on the Statue of Liberty.

Although there were Jews in the 13 colonies that became the first United States, none were represented among the entirely white male Christian founders. We extrapolate the promises those men made to themselves to cover all of us as well.

Overwhelmingly, most of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. It is no accident that the Statute of Liberty, one of the great symbols of the freedom that this country offers, holds her torch up to immigrants. This country grew from immigrants, was built by immigrants, welcomes immigrants, enriches and is enriched by immigrants.

Like this country itself, though, immigration was not all glorious. It was hard, painful, dark, impoverishing, at times fatal. It could divide families, maim hope, kill love. The only way truly to acknowledge the great gifts immigrants have given us is to honor their sacrifices and their despair as well as their joy and success.

So what does this have to do with the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene?

Everything!

The Folksbiene, under the direction of its artistic director, Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck, is producing Amerike The Golden Land, a show about Jewish immigration whose month-long run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan is set to begin on July 4, in the shadow cast by the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

Amerike is less a plotted musical than a series of songs sung by characters whose stories viewers can follow, or at least piece together. The songs all are authentic; most of them were unearthed by Mr. Mlotek and his mother, the great Yiddish musicologist Eleanor Gordon Mlotek, and by Mr. Mloteks cousin, Moishe Rosenfeld.

Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck is the Folksbienes artistic director.

The beginning of Amerike goes back to 1982, when Moishe and I were asked to create a pageant for the Workmens Circle celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Forward, Mr. Mlotek said. Some explanations Mr. Rosenfeld and Mr. Mlotek are not only first cousins but also frequent collaborators. The Forward, the newspaper that began as a daily Yiddish publication and now publishes in Yiddish, Russian, and English, almost entirely on line, was closely linked with the Workmans Circle, the Yiddishist, socially progressive organization that helped fresh-off-the-boat immigrants adjust to their bewildering new home. The Folksbiene began as a branch of the Workmens Circle. Mr. Mloteks father, Joseph, another prominent and beloved Yiddishist, was the Workmens Circles education director. Everything connects, and everyone is connected.

In 1982, Zalmen Mlotek did not work for the Folksbiene; I was involved only tangentially with Yiddish theater, he said. I developed my own career as a musician. But when he and Mr. Rosenfeld were asked to put together a theatrical piece about immigration, they said yes.

Bryna Wasserman, a luminary of Yiddish theater, directs Amerika.

They researched the period beginning in the late 1880s and going through the next few decades of the twentieth century. Research involved listening to recordings of Yiddish theater and looking at music that had never been published before, Mr. Mlotek said. We wanted to find material that was an honest portrayal of the immigrant experience, from the immigrants themselves.

What excited us was the power of the songs and the lyrics we discovered. We were able to be transported dramatically and emotionally to the generation of immigrants who experienced this country for the first time.

Uncovering this music took detective skills, including not only the ability to follow barely-hinted-at trails and allusions, but also to decipher fading scrawled handwriting and to have the patience to sit still for the huge chunks of time that deciphering demanded.

There were problems specific to reading music conventionally read from left to right set to lyrics in Yiddish conventionally read from right to left often transliterated into Roman letters conventionally read from left to right. It was complicated and time-consuming, Mr. Mlotek understated. So hed do triage. Id look at the music, and if it interested me I would take the time to decipher it. Sometimes hed find what he calls jewels.

It was like being on an archaeological dig, he said.

This crumbling handwritten page has music and transliteration for Lost Arayn, which means let them in. Its a heartwrenching plea to immigration officials.

Some of the jewels were songs like Vatch Your Step. In that song, Mr. Mlotek said, were exciting phrases that the immigrants heard all the time and turned into English. Or at least into Yinglish; the rest of the lyrics were in Yiddish. Other songs would talk about upward mobility, about no longer living in the tenements but moving uptown, to much nicer places in Harlem or the Bronx.

Its always key for us that the experience be told honestly, he added. These experiences were from the immigrants pens and minds and spirits.

When Mr. Mlotek and Mr. Rosenfeld first wrote Amerike, it was mainly in Yiddish, although there was enough English and Yinglish for non-Yiddish speakers not to feel entirely lost.

Watch Your Step thats Vatch in Yiddish is among the songs in the show.

The production was a great success, Mr. Mlotek said. Dick Shepard of the New York Times gave it a five-column rave review, with our pictures, and for a week our phones rang nonstop. We were in a little office in the old Workmans Circle building, and the phones just kept ringing. It was an incredible experience. It just exploded. People from the theater world started to come down and see it.

The show evolved. As it got more popular, a producer came to us and said that he wanted to do it Off Broadway, but wed have to put more English into it. That meant translating some of the songs that had very little English in them.

It worked. The show continued to attract and charm audiences. After Off Broadway, it toured, and Leonard Bernstein recommended that we go to Italy with it, Mr. Mlotek reported. We went to Palermo and to Venice. The experience in Palermo was incredible. One time, the audience was all high school kids. They were rowdy, regular high school kids and then when we talked about sweatshops and unionizing workers, they all hushed.

It was as if they were seeing something holy. That resonated for them. The rest of it well, they were rowdy high school kids.

Amerike was revived again, soon after September 11 the need for some hope was obvious and again in 2012; that version played well until Superstorm Sandy knocked out most of lower Manhattan, including Baruch College, where it was playing. And then when we came here to the museum, to our new home, last year, we were wrestling between Amerike and The Golden Bride as the first piece to present here. The Golden Bride won. Its representative of Second Avenue material, and we opted for that, to give people a taste of actual Yiddish theater, Mr. Mlotek said. The musical had a brief but critically acclaimed run at the museum.

Now, though, we decided that because immigration has become such an important issue today, and because we are constantly inspired by our location it doesnt escape us that the Statue of Liberty is right outside our windows we felt that it was time to bring the show back.

Theyve made a change, though. Theyve stripped the English they added. There is English throughout, Mr. Mlotek said. Its the story of immigration, so as the immigrants assimilated their Yiddish became peppered with English. But now much of the material is back to the original authentic Yiddish sources that we picked. Also, the production includes supertitles so even the most Yiddish-challenged of audience members will know whats going on.

The cast rehearses for the Folksbienes new production of Amerike.

Now, he said, a challenge they face is how to pick a cast that can sing Yiddish honestly, authentically, and dramatically and also look good and of course also sound good.

We auditioned more than 300 people in New York, and we came up with a terrific ensemble of 12 people, he said. Some have experience in Yiddish, and some learned it. And then there is one major standout. Daniel Kahn, who we brought from Berlin.

Daniel Kahn came back to the United States from Berlin to be in Amerike.

Daniel Kahn is the young Detroit native who has lived in Berlin for the last decade; he broke into Americas consciousness last fall, soon after the singer/songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen died, by translating Mr. Cohens brilliant, popular, and hauntingly and undeniably Jewish song Halleluyah into Yiddish, and singing it on YouTube right into the camera, looking right at the viewer as he sang in a language that the song hadnt been written in but seemed as if it should have been.

That Daniel Kahn.

We are not making a political point with this show, Mr. Mlotek said. This is a nation of immigrants. The Yiddish theater in America became American theater, and it came from immigrants. We are celebrating that tie.

To that end, the Folksbiene also is hosting the first immigration arts summit, set for Monday and Tuesday, July 17 and 18. The summit, which will include a keynote address by John Leguizamo, will bring together the Pan Asian Repertory, the Repertorio Espaol, the Irish Repertory Theatre, the Kairo Italy Theater, the Irish Arts Center, and the Turkish American Repertory Theatre, as well as Israels Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and the Cumbe Center for African and diaspora Dance. The point is to talk about shared experiences, brainstorm shared ideas for paths forward, and share performances and audiences with each other. (See box for more details.)

To go back to the American Jewish experience, there are many lighthearted lyrics in the show. Its not at all a depressing experience it is in fact the opposite, and Vatch Your Step is in it but there still are moments of deep sadness. It is hard to leave behind all that you know, and it is hard to learn to adapt to something new. And it is also hard, very hard, more than hard, it is soul-rending, to come to a new country, stand hopefully at its gates, and then be turned away.

Lost Arayn Let Them In is a song written at the turn of the century, Mr. Mlotek said; of course, that turn is not the most recent one but from the 19th to the 20th centuries. We found it in a recording by Aaron Lebedev. My mother transcribed it. We used the first verse but not the second one. It was in one of Ms. Mloteks books about Yiddish music; for the purposes of her argument, one verse was enough.

My mother passed away three years ago, and I found this in her papers, Mr. Mlotek said. She never published this verse, and it is the killer verse.

Its the story of a young family:

A young father with bent shoulders is on Ellis Island.

He raised two small children by himself.

They lost their mother, and came here with great difficulty.

The gates are locked before them.

Their father is kept away from them.

Hearts are broken here at the door.

It ends, in a universal plea that is as relevant today as it was then then to Jews, today to others:

Dont have hearts of stone.

Open the gates to the Golden Land.

You see people falling, reach out your hand.

Let them in, let them in.

Dont break any more hearts.

The whole world will bless you for it.

Open the gates and let them in.

Zalmen Mlotek hopes that everyone will come to see the story of Amerike, down in southern Manhattan, facing the Statue of Liberty and the torch that lit the way for so many of our families, and to keep Yiddish theater alive as they do so.

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Amerike singing – The Jewish Standard

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

PJ Library’s free books for kids spur Jewish connections, study finds – Cleveland Jewish News

Families that receive free Jewish childrens books from the Massachusetts-based PJ Library say the program has helped them feel more connected to their Jewish communities, with interfaith families especially sayingit has spurred them to celebrate Jewish holidays and Shabbat and to learn more about Judaism, a new study found.

The study, released Tuesday by PJ Library and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, found that 69 percentof participating families say the program has helped them feel more connected to their Jewish communities, whether by attending programs run by PJ library itself or activities run by local Jewish institutions.

Respondents also saythe program helps them feel more knowledgeable and confident about how to engage in Jewish traditions with their children (83 percent), and 91 percent say the program is a valuable parenting tool.

More than half of intermarried couples who subscribe said the program makes their family more likely to observe Shabbat, and 64 percent said it makes them more likely to observe Jewish holidays. Nearly 90 percent of intermarried respondents said the books helped them learn more about Judaism, according to the triennial survey.

More than 25,000 users responded to the survey, which was conducted with the external evaluation firm Informing Change.

The program, launched in 2005 by the Grinspoon Foundation, now sends one book a month and occasional music CDs to 170,000 children ages 6 months to 8 years among 125,000 families in the United States and Canada. A parallel program, Sifriyat Pijama, operates in Israel. PJ Library estimates that its books are read 6.5 milliontimes a year. Local Jewish federations and other institutions partner with the foundation in covering costs.

The findingsconfirm the goals of the programs founders, who hoped that bringing parents and children together over Jewish-themed books would not just be worthwhile in its own right, but inspire them to connect with other Jewish programs and institutions.

We take seriously that each night parents are inviting us to join their family during one of the days most treasured moments before bedtime, Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, said in a statement.Parents have told us that the PJ Library books their families receive each month not only help them feel more capable of raising Jewish children, but also make them more excited to pass on the traditions and beliefs they cherished in their own childhoods or have come to cherish as adults.

The survey also found thatsubscribers had relatively high Jewish involvement. While the 2013 Pew Research Centers study of American Jews found that 30 percent do not affiliate with a denomination, the number was only 10 percent for PJ Library subscribers.

And whilethe Pew study found that the intermarriage rate since 2000 is 58 percent, its less than half that, 28 percent, among PJ Library subscribers.

The studys authors said they were not surprised that PJ Library families are more likely than the general population to be affiliated with Jewish organizations, since families usually hear about the program through synagogues, federations or Jewish community centers.

Among subscribers, satisfaction rates are high. Nearly two-thirds of subscribers, according to the study, read the books at least weekly, and 95 percent read them at least once a month. Virtually all respondents 99 percent said they have been influenced or supported by PJ Library. A majority of families responded that the books made them more likely to use a charity box or to increase their Jewish involvement in some other way, and 83 percent saidit helpsthem feel more knowledgeable and confident about how to engage in Jewish traditions with their children .

Books are a natural way to invite people into a global community and to pass values and traditions onto the next generation, ensuring our children and their children grow up connected to their Jewish heritage, said Harold Grinspoon, a real estate developer in western Massachusetts and the founder of PJ Library.

Responses to the study, which was funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, were gathered between November 2016 and January 2017. The studyhad a 1 percent margin of error.

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PJ Library’s free books for kids spur Jewish connections, study finds – Cleveland Jewish News

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Cleveland Jewish News

JERUSALEM Israeli politicians rushed to condemn their governments decision Sunday to freezea plan promoting pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall.

Voices from across the political spectrum, including members of the governing coalition, criticized the vote by the Cabinetas a recklessaffront to American Jewry. They warned it could weaken the communitys support for Israel.

Canceling the deal constitutes a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people and communities as well as the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement.

However, as in the past, such concerns were not enough to affect policy: An overwhelming majority of the Cabinet voted in favor of freezing the plan. Amid the outcry, haredi Orthodox politicians celebrated another success in preserving the powers and privileges granted to their community by the state.

When Israel approved the Western Wall plan in January 2016, it was widely hailed as a historic compromise between non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews. The Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the multi-denominational Women of the Wall prayer group and the haredi Western Wall rabbi negotiated the plan over several years.

They agreed to significantly upgrade the egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza and allow leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements to manage it. In exchange, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation would maintain control of the main prayer section. Women of the Wall, which for nearly two decades has protested limitations on prayer rites in the womens section of the familiar Western Wall plaza, wouldmove to the expanded space, known as Robinsons Arch.

But when the plan was made public, haredi leaders decried the concessions to what they sawas illegitimate forms of Judaism, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who heads the Heritage Foundation, quickly withdrew his support. The haredi political parties have since pushed the government to scrap the plan entirely, which it came just short of doing Sunday.

Among the Cabinet ministers, only Liberman, the head of the hawkish Yisrael Beinteinu party, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud, voted againstthe freeze.In announcing the decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had appointed Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbiand Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to draft a new plan for the site.He said construction on the pluralisticprayer section would continue uninterrupted.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Reform movement and a vocal advocate of the plan, called the governments decision an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry.

The stranglehold that the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox parts have on Israel and the enfranchisement of the majority of Jews in Israel and the world must and will be ended, he said Sunday in a statement. We are assessing all next steps.

Tzipi Livni, a prominent lawmaker in the opposition Zionist Union political coalition,took to Facebook to explain why Israeli Jews should be concernedabout the feelings of their American counterparts when it comes to prayer at the Western Wall and a new bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions completed under the auspices of the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate.

Why do we care about Jewish Israelis from the Western Wall and the Conversion Law? Because it is important to us that Israel remain the state of the Jewish people and that Judaism be what connects us and not what divides us, Livni said Sunday in a post.

The cancellation of the Western Wall arrangement and the new conversion law tear the Jewish people apart. The prime minister of the Jewish people divides them for the purpose of political survival, and gives the ultra-Orthodox parties a monopoly over the Judaism of all of us.

Shuki Friedman, the head of religion and state research at the Israel Democracy Institute think tank in Jerusalem, saidmany Israelis resent theinfluence that haredi leaders exert over state institutions. But, he said, most people do not prioritize issues of religion and state, nor do they embrace liberal forms of Judaism.

Unfortunately, this isnt something that will shake up Israeli politics. The storm is mostly in the media, Friedman told JTA. Generally speaking,the Reform and Conservative movements have failed in Israel, and the public isnt really concerned about them. Therefore, mainstream politicians arent going to challenge the haredim on an issue like the Western Wall.

Meanwhile, he said, the haredi political partieshave an almost singular focus on protecting their narrow interests. That makes them useful to forming and maintaining governing coalitions, butat the cost of accommodating those interests.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the haredi United Torah Judaism party welcomed the Cabinet decision as a victory over liberal Jews.

This decision sends a clear message to the entire world that Reform Judaism has no access to or recognition at the Western Wall, he said Sunday in a statement. I thank the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the chief rabbis of Israel. To their merit we were able to sanctify Gods name.

Also Sunday, government ministers approved a bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions conducted under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The conversion bill, drafted last month by Interior Minster Ayreh Deri, head of the haredi Shas party, apparently aims to circumvent a March 2016 Supreme Court ruling that allowed those who undergo private Orthodox conversions in Israel to become citizens under the Law of Return.

Since helping to form the current government in 2015, haredi politicians have rolled back various efforts to reform the relationship between synagogue and state many of them enacted under the previous government, which did not include them.

In November 2015, the Knesset postponed and watered down a law that would have ended the traditional exemption from military conscription for most haredi men. And in July 2016, Education Minister Naftali Bennett assumed the authority to ignore a law slashing statefunding for haredi schools that do not teach math and English.State funding for yeshivas has reached record highs three different times under the current government.

However, some Israelis are mounting challenges to the religious status quo outside of the Knesset. The Cabinets decision came on the day of a High Court of Justice deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the Western Wall plan and build the pluralistic prayer space. How the court would react to the freeze was unclear.

Also, in an unprecedented move, the semi-official Jewish Agencyissued a resolution on Monday calling on the government to reverse its decision, saying the movewas un-Zionist.

We deplore the decision of the [Government of Israel] which contradicts the vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky and the spirit of the Zionist movement and Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people and the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, said the resolution, which the agencysboard of governors passed unanimously.

Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinskywere perhaps the most important Zionistleaders of the 20th century.

We declare that we cannot and will not allow this to happen. We call on the GOI to understand the gravity of its steps and accordingly reverse its course of action, the resolution continued.

Stuart Eizenstat,the formerU.S. ambassador to the European Union, was at the Cabinet meeting Sunday beforethe vote to freeze the Western Wall plan. He presented a report by the think tank he co-chairs, the Jewish People Policy Institute, that urged the government to promote Jewish pluralism, in part to ensure the continued support of American Jewry.

While dismayed bythe ministers decision, Eizenstatsaid he felt his message was heard.

Ive beendoing this for many years, and Ive never seen a meeting that lasted so long nor one that had such a spirited debate, he told JTA. There was tremendous engagement on our point by nearly all the minsters. It was clear they took it seriously.

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Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Cleveland Jewish News

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Jewish Journal

Israeli politicians rushed to condemn their governments decision Sunday to freezea plan promoting pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall.

Voices from across the political spectrum, including members of the governing coalition, criticized the vote by the Cabinetas a recklessaffront to American Jewry. They warned it could weaken the communitys support for Israel.

Canceling the deal constitutes a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people and communities as well as the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.

However, as in the past, such concerns were not enough to affect policy: An overwhelming majority of the Cabinet voted in favor of freezing the plan. Amid the outcry, haredi Orthodox politicians celebrated another success in preserving the powers and privileges granted to their community by the state.

When Israel approved the Western Wall plan in January 2016, it was widely hailed as a historic compromise between non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews. The Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the multi-denominational Women of the Wall prayer group and the haredi Western Wall rabbi negotiated the plan over several years.

They agreed to significantly upgrade the egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza and allow leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements to manage it. In exchange, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation would maintain control of the main prayer section. Women of the Wall, which for nearly two decades has protested limitations on prayer rites in the womens section of the familiar Western Wall plaza, wouldmove to the expanded space, known as Robinsons Arch.

But when the plan was made public, haredi leaders decried the concessions to what they sawas illegitimate forms of Judaism, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who heads the Heritage Foundation, quickly withdrew his support. The haredi political parties have since pushed the government to scrap the plan entirely, which it came just short of doing Sunday.

Among the Cabinet ministers, only Lieberman, the head of the hawkish Yisrael Beinteinu party, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud, voted againstthe freeze.In announcing the decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had appointed Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbiand Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to draft a new plan for the site.He said construction on the pluralisticprayer section would continue uninterrupted.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Reform movement and a vocal advocate of the plan, called the governments decision an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry.

The stranglehold that the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox parts have on Israel and the enfranchisement of the majority of Jews in Israel and the world must and will be ended, he said Sunday in a statement. We are assessing all next steps.

Tzipi Livni, a prominent lawmaker in the opposition Zionist Union political coalition,took to Facebook to explain why Israeli Jews should be concernedabout the feelings of their American counterparts when it comes to prayer at the Western Wall and a new bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions completed under the auspices of the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate.

Why do we care about Jewish Israelis from the Western Wall and the Conversion Law? Because it is important to us that Israel remain the state of the Jewish people and that Judaism be what connects us and not what divides us, Livni said Sunday in a post.

The cancellation of the Western Wall arrangement and the new conversion law tear the Jewish people apart. The prime minister of the Jewish people divides them for the purpose of political survival, and gives the ultra-Orthodox parties a monopoly over the Judaism of all of us.

Shuki Friedman, the head of religion and state research at the Israel Democracy Institute think tank in Jerusalem, saidmany Israelis resent theinfluence that haredi leaders exert over state institutions. But, he said, most people do not prioritize issues of religion and state, nor do they embrace liberal forms of Judaism.

Unfortunately, this isnt something that will shake up Israeli politics. The storm is mostly in the media, Friedman told JTA. Generally speaking,the Reform and Conservative movements have failed in Israel, and the public isnt really concerned about them. Therefore, mainstream politicians arent going to challenge the haredim on an issue like the Western Wall.

Meanwhile, he said, the haredi political partieshave an almost singular focus on protecting their narrow interests. That makes them useful to forming and maintaining governing coalitions, butat the cost of accommodating those interests.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the haredi United Torah Judaism party welcomed the Cabinet decision as a victory over liberal Jews.

This decision sends a clear message to the entire world that Reform Judaism has no access to or recognition at the Western Wall, he said Sunday in a statement. I thank the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the chief rabbis of Israel. To their merit we were able to sanctify Gods name.

Also Sunday, government ministers approved a bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions conducted under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The conversion bill, drafted last month by Interior Minster Ayreh Deri, head of the haredi Shas party, apparently aims to circumvent a March 2016 Supreme Court ruling that allowed those who undergo private Orthodox conversions in Israel to become citizens under the Law of Return.

Since helping to form the current government in 2015, haredi politicians have rolled back various efforts to reform the relationship between synagogue and state many of them enacted under the previous government, which did not include them.

In November 2015, the Knesset postponed and watered down a law that would have ended the traditional exemption from military conscription for most haredi men. And in July 2016, Education Minister Naftali Bennett assumed the authority to ignore a law slashing statefunding for haredi schools that do not teach math and English.State funding for yeshivas has reached record highs three different times under the current government.

However, some Israelis are mounting challenges to the religious status quo outside of the Knesset. The Cabinets decision came on the day of a High Court of Justice deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the Western Wall plan and build the pluralistic prayer space. How the court would react to the freeze was unclear.

Also, in an unprecedented move, the semi-official Jewish Agencyissued a resolution on Monday calling on the government to reverse its decision, saying the movewas un-Zionist.

We deplore the decision of the [Government of Israel] which contradicts the vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky and the spirit of the Zionist movement and Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people and the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, said the resolution, which the agencysboard of governors passed unanimously.

Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinskywere perhaps the most important Zionistleaders of the 20th century.

We declare that we cannot and will not allow this to happen. We call on the GOI to understand the gravity of its steps and accordingly reverse its course of action, the resolution continued.

Stuart Eizenstat,the formerU.S. ambassador to the European Union, was at the Cabinet meeting Sunday beforethe vote to freeze the Western Wall plan. He presented a report by the think tank he co-chairs, the Jewish People Policy Institute, that urged the government to promote Jewish pluralism, in part to ensure the continued support of American Jewry.

While dismayed bythe ministers decision, Eizenstatsaid he felt his message was heard.

Ive beendoing this for many years, and Ive never seen a meeting that lasted so long nor one that had such a spirited debate, he told JTA. There was tremendous engagement on our point by nearly all the minsters. It was clear they took it seriously.

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Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Jewish Journal

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June 26, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Federal Register :: Jewish American Heritage Month, 2017

Start Printed Page 20797 Proclamation 9596 of April 28, 2017 A Proclamation

During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate our Nation’s strong American Jewish heritage, rooted in the ancient faith and traditions of the Jewish people. The small band of Dutch Jews who first immigrated in 1654, seeking refuge and religious liberty, brought with them their families, their religion, and their cherished customs, which they have passed on from generation to generation. The moral and ethical code of the Jewish people is inspired by their spiritual vocation of tikkun olamthe charge to repair the world. Through that vocation, the Jewish people have left an indelible mark on American culture. Today, it is manifested in the towering success Jewish people have achieved in America through a unique synthesis of respect for heritage and love of country.

Escaping religious persecution and ethnic violence and seeking political freedom and economic opportunity, American Jews, over centuries, have held firm in the belief that the United States was Di Goldene Medinathe Golden Country. Those who moved here built houses and gardens, raised families, and launched businesses. They have pursued education to advance their mission to make the world a better place. In every aspect of the country’s cultural, spiritual, economic, and civic life, American Jews have stood at the forefront of the struggles for human freedom, equality, and dignity, helping to shine a light of hope to people around the globe.

The achievements of American Jews are felt throughout American society and culture, in every field and in every profession. American Jews have built institutions of higher learning, hospitals, and manifold cultural and philanthropic organizations. American Jews have even brought us our greatest superheroesCaptain America, Superman, and Batman. American Jews have composed some of our defining national hymns like God Bless America, timeless musicals like The Sound of Music, and even famous Christmas songs. From Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to Albert Einstein, Richard Rodgers to Irving Berlin, Jerry Siegel to Bill Finger, Mel Brooks to Don Rickles, and Levi Strauss to Elie Wiesel, American Jews have transformed all aspects of American life and continue to enrich the American spirit.

This month, I celebrate with my familyincluding my daughter, Ivanka, my son-in-law, Jared, my grandchildren, and our extended familythe deep spiritual connection that binds, and will always bind, the Jewish people to the United States and its founding principles. We recognize the faith and optimism exemplified by American Jews is what truly makes America The Golden Country, and we express our Nation’s gratitude for this great, strong, prosperous, and loving people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2017 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to celebrate the heritage and contributions of American Jews and to observe this month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.Start Printed Page 20798

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

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Congress marks Jewish Heritage Month – Arutz Sheva

Event in the Senate

Congress members from both parties participated in a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month taking place in the Capitol.

The event Wednesday included remarks by Sen. Sherrod Brown; D-Ohio; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.; Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y.; Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.; as well as the congresswoman who in her first term authored the 2006 law creating Jewish American Heritage month, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

The event, organized by the Friedlander Group, a New York-based PR and lobbying firm, included honors for Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; as well as Shani Verschleiser, a child welfare expert; and Sparks, a support organization for women in crisis.

President Barack Obama for several years organized White House receptions marking the heritage month

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Author Helen Maryles Shankman on how to observe Jewish American Heritage Month – amNY

Helen Maryles Shankman knows plenty about Jewish history.

The author of They Were Like Family to Me, a finalist for the 2016/17 Story Prize, given for outstanding short fiction, Shankman is a daughter of Holocaust survivors. She grew up listening to friends of her family speaking in Yiddish about their experience as partisans.

Listening to their accounts, Shankman realized the Holocaust wasnt a straightforward victim story: There were Jews who resisted, fought, finagled and struggled to survive against overwhelming odds, such as those who broke out of the Sobibr death camp. The author wove their real and imagined experiences into They Were Like Family To Me, a devastating, haunting and luminously beautiful collection of interconnected short stories about Jewish residents of a Polish village under German occupation.

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, held in May, amNewYork spoke with Shankman, who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, about how to mark the month from a literary perspective.

How is Jewish American Heritage Month best observed?

Everyone should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Its the ultimate Jewish-American book. It would be really nice if the schools observed the month by studying various Jewish-American writers and historical figures, such as Emma Lazarus [author of The New Colossus, which is engraved on the pedestal tablet of the Statue of Liberty]. There are so many unknown people from the labor and civil rights movements.

Why are there so many fabulous Jewish writers?

Were brought up from the very beginning learning the Torah and prayers. … Words and reading are pivotal. When you get older, you learn the dialectics and arguments that dont even have anything to do with modern life. Students will learn the best way to remove milk from a cows udder after its been butchered so you can eat it [and observe the laws of kashrut]. Its really social anthropology..

Women are underrepresented in Best Jewish Writers lists. Why is that?

There is a double standard. I have three sons and they are not interested in reading anything that has a woman as a main character. I also have a theory: A lot of women write historical fiction, and historical fiction isnt considered intellectual. But [all writers are] trying to figure out the meaning of life, why the world is stomping on them, why bad things happen to good people. We just use different vocabularies.

Your own book reveals the amazing ingenuity Jews used to survive.

I love that it is part of our legacy. As a kid, the most severe and well-known Holocaust experience was Auschwitz. Hiding and fighting was just as important, but it almost didnt count. There are so many forms resistance can take!

What must we resist now?

Im modern Orthodox and every week I light candles and pray that God gives wisdom to our leaders. It feels like hate is surging through the world right now. The threat of tribalism, circling the wagons, refusing to talk to each other and believing our way is the best way thats the enemy for us.

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Author Helen Maryles Shankman on how to observe Jewish American Heritage Month – amNY

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Vets, Holocaust survivors meet students at Jewish American Heritage event – Sun Sentinel

Students from Hallandale High School in Hallandale Beach and West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines met with Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans for a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie.

The event, attended by 53 students selected from teachers from both schools, was organized by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-23) as one of many events taking place in May to commemorate JAHM.

“Jewish American Heritage Month was created to promote the contributions of American Jews to our country. JAHM began with stories of immigrants to our country and we are lucky to have people here today to share those experiences,” said Wasserman Schultz in her opening remarks to the students.

“We honor both the Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans in learning of their contributions and to be aware that acts of anti-Semitism are still taking place in our time. The Posnack Jewish Community Center, where we are today, had to be evacuated twice recently.”

“This is the second time we are honoring both Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans and we will continue to do so annually as a Jewish American Heritage Month event,” said Wasserman Schultz.

Students listened to the testimonies of both survivors and veterans in tables in which survivors and veterans were paired in intimate conversations with the students.

Sharing stories of courage and survival in the Holocaust were survivors Anya Baum, Mary Eckstein, Norman Frajman, Roman Haar, Joseph Henner, Basia McDonnell, Sam Schleider and Fran Zatz.

Jewish War Veterans at the JAHM event were William Bregman, Stephen Moss, Stan Pannaman, Richard Rosensweig and Jack Shifel.

Survivors discussed their experiences as children of many near death experiences and the kindness of strangers who helped them.

“We were all lucky to have survived. None of us could have planned what to do to escape the Holocaust. It was a matter of luck to be alive,” said Eckstein.

Veterans discussed their experiences of serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“I was lucky not to be in combat in the Vietnam War, but so many of the veterans who came back were and are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” said Shifel.

Frajman illustrated his ordeals as a survivor by showing the students his striped jacket issued to him by the Nazis in a concentration camp.

“This jacket is a witness to all the atrocities that took place in the Holocaust,” said Frajman, whose mother and sister were murdered along with more than 100 members of his family in the Holocaust.

“There are three words that best describe the era Hell on Earth,” said Frajman.

Frajman survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, four concentration camps (many as a slave laborer) and a Death March before being liberated by the Russians at age 15.

“I wept in tears immediately at my table after hearing Mr. Frajman’s testimonial. It was crazy and so sad. What did he do to go through all the suffering,” said 11th grade student Destiny Greggs of Hallandale High.

“I am grateful to have heard his testimony for a day that I will never forget,” said Greggs.

“The lessons of the Holocaust must be that we never repeat the same events again,” said Henner.

“I learned that the world is not perfect today and maybe never was. We must all strive to work together to make a better world for all of us,” said 11th grade student Natalia Amay of West Broward High School.

Wasserman Schultz is credited, along with the late Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat from Pennsylvania and the Jewish Museum of Florida, with founding the annual JAHM celebrations, beginning in 2006.

To learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month, go to www.jewishameriicanheritagemonth.us.

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Some Jewish American Heritage Month listening, reading recommendations – The Daily Herald

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By Mindy, Northwest Room Historian at Everett Public Library

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Northwest Roomthe librarys local history collectionis highlighting two notable Jewish families in Everetts history and their stories.

The first Jewish settlers arrived in Everett in the early 20th century. The Michelson family was among the first to arrive. Abe Michelson first emigrated from Latvia to Tacoma. In 1906, Abe and his wife, Etta, relocated to Everett. Abe and his brother, Sam, opened a second-hand store on Hewitt Avenue, the Riverside Junk Company.

The Michelson family was active in building Congregation Moses Montefiore, in a house-turned-synagogue on Lombard Street. There were about 60 Jewish families in Everett in the 1920s and 1930s, who participated in Orthodox services and organized religious classes for children. Attendance declined with the construction of Highway 99, which made it easier for Everetts Jewish community to attend other synagogues in Seattle.

Abe and Ettas eldest son, Moe Michelson (1908-1996) is remembered as an active member of Everett City Council. He served in position #2 from 1968 to 1989. Find more pictures of Councilman Michelson in the Northwest Room Digital Collections.

The Glassberg family was also familiar in Everett and its Jewish community. The GlassbergsMaurice, Susie, and children Abe and Ruthmoved to Everett from Salt Lake City, Utah, in the early 20th century. They operated a pawnshop at 2905 Hewitt Avenue.

While a student at Everett High School, Abe Glassberg (1898-1994) began writing for the Everett Daily Herald. He became the newspapers managing editor in 1937, and held the position until retirement in 1963. In 1975, Glassberg was recorded for a brief interview, which is part of the Northwest Rooms Oral History Collection.

Recommended reads:

Family of Strangers: Building a Jewish Community in Washington State, by Molly Cone, Howard Droker, and Jacqueline Williams (2003)

Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on Americas Edge by Ellen Eisenberg, Ava F. Kahn, and William Toll (2009)

The Northwest Room has many resources to help you research and explore your history at your library.

Be sure to visit the Everett Public Library blog for more reviews and news of all things happening at the library.

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Amerike singing – The Jewish Standard

Its extraordinary, when you think about it, this country of ours. Thats always a loaded statement to make these days; tempers are so high, political divisions are so deep, mistrust is so pervasive. But still. We are celebrating the Fourth of July this week, the time when the founders of this country, along with the less powerful people they represented, risked everything we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor, they said, the exuberance of their capitalization underscoring the depth of their resolve to create a new kind of state in the New World. It was, of course, not an untarnished state the founders created human beings were enslaved but it was the start of a brave new experiment. It remains very far from perfect, but on the Fourth of July we still explode fireworks of hope and joy. Some of those fireworks soar and crest and rain colored fire on the Statue of Liberty. Although there were Jews in the 13 colonies that became the first United States, none were represented among the entirely white male Christian founders. We extrapolate the promises those men made to themselves to cover all of us as well. Overwhelmingly, most of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. It is no accident that the Statute of Liberty, one of the great symbols of the freedom that this country offers, holds her torch up to immigrants. This country grew from immigrants, was built by immigrants, welcomes immigrants, enriches and is enriched by immigrants. Like this country itself, though, immigration was not all glorious. It was hard, painful, dark, impoverishing, at times fatal. It could divide families, maim hope, kill love. The only way truly to acknowledge the great gifts immigrants have given us is to honor their sacrifices and their despair as well as their joy and success. So what does this have to do with the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene? Everything! The Folksbiene, under the direction of its artistic director, Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck, is producing Amerike The Golden Land, a show about Jewish immigration whose month-long run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan is set to begin on July 4, in the shadow cast by the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Amerike is less a plotted musical than a series of songs sung by characters whose stories viewers can follow, or at least piece together. The songs all are authentic; most of them were unearthed by Mr. Mlotek and his mother, the great Yiddish musicologist Eleanor Gordon Mlotek, and by Mr. Mloteks cousin, Moishe Rosenfeld. Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck is the Folksbienes artistic director. The beginning of Amerike goes back to 1982, when Moishe and I were asked to create a pageant for the Workmens Circle celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Forward, Mr. Mlotek said. Some explanations Mr. Rosenfeld and Mr. Mlotek are not only first cousins but also frequent collaborators. The Forward, the newspaper that began as a daily Yiddish publication and now publishes in Yiddish, Russian, and English, almost entirely on line, was closely linked with the Workmans Circle, the Yiddishist, socially progressive organization that helped fresh-off-the-boat immigrants adjust to their bewildering new home. The Folksbiene began as a branch of the Workmens Circle. Mr. Mloteks father, Joseph, another prominent and beloved Yiddishist, was the Workmens Circles education director. Everything connects, and everyone is connected. In 1982, Zalmen Mlotek did not work for the Folksbiene; I was involved only tangentially with Yiddish theater, he said. I developed my own career as a musician. But when he and Mr. Rosenfeld were asked to put together a theatrical piece about immigration, they said yes. Bryna Wasserman, a luminary of Yiddish theater, directs Amerika. They researched the period beginning in the late 1880s and going through the next few decades of the twentieth century. Research involved listening to recordings of Yiddish theater and looking at music that had never been published before, Mr. Mlotek said. We wanted to find material that was an honest portrayal of the immigrant experience, from the immigrants themselves. What excited us was the power of the songs and the lyrics we discovered. We were able to be transported dramatically and emotionally to the generation of immigrants who experienced this country for the first time. Uncovering this music took detective skills, including not only the ability to follow barely-hinted-at trails and allusions, but also to decipher fading scrawled handwriting and to have the patience to sit still for the huge chunks of time that deciphering demanded. There were problems specific to reading music conventionally read from left to right set to lyrics in Yiddish conventionally read from right to left often transliterated into Roman letters conventionally read from left to right. It was complicated and time-consuming, Mr. Mlotek understated. So hed do triage. Id look at the music, and if it interested me I would take the time to decipher it. Sometimes hed find what he calls jewels. It was like being on an archaeological dig, he said. This crumbling handwritten page has music and transliteration for Lost Arayn, which means let them in. Its a heartwrenching plea to immigration officials. Some of the jewels were songs like Vatch Your Step. In that song, Mr. Mlotek said, were exciting phrases that the immigrants heard all the time and turned into English. Or at least into Yinglish; the rest of the lyrics were in Yiddish. Other songs would talk about upward mobility, about no longer living in the tenements but moving uptown, to much nicer places in Harlem or the Bronx. Its always key for us that the experience be told honestly, he added. These experiences were from the immigrants pens and minds and spirits. When Mr. Mlotek and Mr. Rosenfeld first wrote Amerike, it was mainly in Yiddish, although there was enough English and Yinglish for non-Yiddish speakers not to feel entirely lost. Watch Your Step thats Vatch in Yiddish is among the songs in the show. The production was a great success, Mr. Mlotek said. Dick Shepard of the New York Times gave it a five-column rave review, with our pictures, and for a week our phones rang nonstop. We were in a little office in the old Workmans Circle building, and the phones just kept ringing. It was an incredible experience. It just exploded. People from the theater world started to come down and see it. The show evolved. As it got more popular, a producer came to us and said that he wanted to do it Off Broadway, but wed have to put more English into it. That meant translating some of the songs that had very little English in them. It worked. The show continued to attract and charm audiences. After Off Broadway, it toured, and Leonard Bernstein recommended that we go to Italy with it, Mr. Mlotek reported. We went to Palermo and to Venice. The experience in Palermo was incredible. One time, the audience was all high school kids. They were rowdy, regular high school kids and then when we talked about sweatshops and unionizing workers, they all hushed. It was as if they were seeing something holy. That resonated for them. The rest of it well, they were rowdy high school kids. Amerike was revived again, soon after September 11 the need for some hope was obvious and again in 2012; that version played well until Superstorm Sandy knocked out most of lower Manhattan, including Baruch College, where it was playing. And then when we came here to the museum, to our new home, last year, we were wrestling between Amerike and The Golden Bride as the first piece to present here. The Golden Bride won. Its representative of Second Avenue material, and we opted for that, to give people a taste of actual Yiddish theater, Mr. Mlotek said. The musical had a brief but critically acclaimed run at the museum. Now, though, we decided that because immigration has become such an important issue today, and because we are constantly inspired by our location it doesnt escape us that the Statue of Liberty is right outside our windows we felt that it was time to bring the show back. Theyve made a change, though. Theyve stripped the English they added. There is English throughout, Mr. Mlotek said. Its the story of immigration, so as the immigrants assimilated their Yiddish became peppered with English. But now much of the material is back to the original authentic Yiddish sources that we picked. Also, the production includes supertitles so even the most Yiddish-challenged of audience members will know whats going on. The cast rehearses for the Folksbienes new production of Amerike. Now, he said, a challenge they face is how to pick a cast that can sing Yiddish honestly, authentically, and dramatically and also look good and of course also sound good. We auditioned more than 300 people in New York, and we came up with a terrific ensemble of 12 people, he said. Some have experience in Yiddish, and some learned it. And then there is one major standout. Daniel Kahn, who we brought from Berlin. Daniel Kahn came back to the United States from Berlin to be in Amerike. Daniel Kahn is the young Detroit native who has lived in Berlin for the last decade; he broke into Americas consciousness last fall, soon after the singer/songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen died, by translating Mr. Cohens brilliant, popular, and hauntingly and undeniably Jewish song Halleluyah into Yiddish, and singing it on YouTube right into the camera, looking right at the viewer as he sang in a language that the song hadnt been written in but seemed as if it should have been. That Daniel Kahn. We are not making a political point with this show, Mr. Mlotek said. This is a nation of immigrants. The Yiddish theater in America became American theater, and it came from immigrants. We are celebrating that tie. To that end, the Folksbiene also is hosting the first immigration arts summit, set for Monday and Tuesday, July 17 and 18. The summit, which will include a keynote address by John Leguizamo, will bring together the Pan Asian Repertory, the Repertorio Espaol, the Irish Repertory Theatre, the Kairo Italy Theater, the Irish Arts Center, and the Turkish American Repertory Theatre, as well as Israels Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and the Cumbe Center for African and diaspora Dance. The point is to talk about shared experiences, brainstorm shared ideas for paths forward, and share performances and audiences with each other. (See box for more details.) To go back to the American Jewish experience, there are many lighthearted lyrics in the show. Its not at all a depressing experience it is in fact the opposite, and Vatch Your Step is in it but there still are moments of deep sadness. It is hard to leave behind all that you know, and it is hard to learn to adapt to something new. And it is also hard, very hard, more than hard, it is soul-rending, to come to a new country, stand hopefully at its gates, and then be turned away. Lost Arayn Let Them In is a song written at the turn of the century, Mr. Mlotek said; of course, that turn is not the most recent one but from the 19th to the 20th centuries. We found it in a recording by Aaron Lebedev. My mother transcribed it. We used the first verse but not the second one. It was in one of Ms. Mloteks books about Yiddish music; for the purposes of her argument, one verse was enough. My mother passed away three years ago, and I found this in her papers, Mr. Mlotek said. She never published this verse, and it is the killer verse. Its the story of a young family: A young father with bent shoulders is on Ellis Island. He raised two small children by himself. They lost their mother, and came here with great difficulty. The gates are locked before them. Their father is kept away from them. Hearts are broken here at the door. It ends, in a universal plea that is as relevant today as it was then then to Jews, today to others: Dont have hearts of stone. Open the gates to the Golden Land. You see people falling, reach out your hand. Let them in, let them in. Dont break any more hearts. The whole world will bless you for it. Open the gates and let them in. Zalmen Mlotek hopes that everyone will come to see the story of Amerike, down in southern Manhattan, facing the Statue of Liberty and the torch that lit the way for so many of our families, and to keep Yiddish theater alive as they do so.

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PJ Library’s free books for kids spur Jewish connections, study finds – Cleveland Jewish News

Families that receive free Jewish childrens books from the Massachusetts-based PJ Library say the program has helped them feel more connected to their Jewish communities, with interfaith families especially sayingit has spurred them to celebrate Jewish holidays and Shabbat and to learn more about Judaism, a new study found. The study, released Tuesday by PJ Library and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, found that 69 percentof participating families say the program has helped them feel more connected to their Jewish communities, whether by attending programs run by PJ library itself or activities run by local Jewish institutions. Respondents also saythe program helps them feel more knowledgeable and confident about how to engage in Jewish traditions with their children (83 percent), and 91 percent say the program is a valuable parenting tool. More than half of intermarried couples who subscribe said the program makes their family more likely to observe Shabbat, and 64 percent said it makes them more likely to observe Jewish holidays. Nearly 90 percent of intermarried respondents said the books helped them learn more about Judaism, according to the triennial survey. More than 25,000 users responded to the survey, which was conducted with the external evaluation firm Informing Change. The program, launched in 2005 by the Grinspoon Foundation, now sends one book a month and occasional music CDs to 170,000 children ages 6 months to 8 years among 125,000 families in the United States and Canada. A parallel program, Sifriyat Pijama, operates in Israel. PJ Library estimates that its books are read 6.5 milliontimes a year. Local Jewish federations and other institutions partner with the foundation in covering costs. The findingsconfirm the goals of the programs founders, who hoped that bringing parents and children together over Jewish-themed books would not just be worthwhile in its own right, but inspire them to connect with other Jewish programs and institutions. We take seriously that each night parents are inviting us to join their family during one of the days most treasured moments before bedtime, Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, said in a statement.Parents have told us that the PJ Library books their families receive each month not only help them feel more capable of raising Jewish children, but also make them more excited to pass on the traditions and beliefs they cherished in their own childhoods or have come to cherish as adults. The survey also found thatsubscribers had relatively high Jewish involvement. While the 2013 Pew Research Centers study of American Jews found that 30 percent do not affiliate with a denomination, the number was only 10 percent for PJ Library subscribers. And whilethe Pew study found that the intermarriage rate since 2000 is 58 percent, its less than half that, 28 percent, among PJ Library subscribers. The studys authors said they were not surprised that PJ Library families are more likely than the general population to be affiliated with Jewish organizations, since families usually hear about the program through synagogues, federations or Jewish community centers. Among subscribers, satisfaction rates are high. Nearly two-thirds of subscribers, according to the study, read the books at least weekly, and 95 percent read them at least once a month. Virtually all respondents 99 percent said they have been influenced or supported by PJ Library. A majority of families responded that the books made them more likely to use a charity box or to increase their Jewish involvement in some other way, and 83 percent saidit helpsthem feel more knowledgeable and confident about how to engage in Jewish traditions with their children . Books are a natural way to invite people into a global community and to pass values and traditions onto the next generation, ensuring our children and their children grow up connected to their Jewish heritage, said Harold Grinspoon, a real estate developer in western Massachusetts and the founder of PJ Library. Responses to the study, which was funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, were gathered between November 2016 and January 2017. The studyhad a 1 percent margin of error.

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Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Cleveland Jewish News

JERUSALEM Israeli politicians rushed to condemn their governments decision Sunday to freezea plan promoting pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall. Voices from across the political spectrum, including members of the governing coalition, criticized the vote by the Cabinetas a recklessaffront to American Jewry. They warned it could weaken the communitys support for Israel. Canceling the deal constitutes a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people and communities as well as the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement. However, as in the past, such concerns were not enough to affect policy: An overwhelming majority of the Cabinet voted in favor of freezing the plan. Amid the outcry, haredi Orthodox politicians celebrated another success in preserving the powers and privileges granted to their community by the state. When Israel approved the Western Wall plan in January 2016, it was widely hailed as a historic compromise between non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews. The Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the multi-denominational Women of the Wall prayer group and the haredi Western Wall rabbi negotiated the plan over several years. They agreed to significantly upgrade the egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza and allow leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements to manage it. In exchange, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation would maintain control of the main prayer section. Women of the Wall, which for nearly two decades has protested limitations on prayer rites in the womens section of the familiar Western Wall plaza, wouldmove to the expanded space, known as Robinsons Arch. But when the plan was made public, haredi leaders decried the concessions to what they sawas illegitimate forms of Judaism, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who heads the Heritage Foundation, quickly withdrew his support. The haredi political parties have since pushed the government to scrap the plan entirely, which it came just short of doing Sunday. Among the Cabinet ministers, only Liberman, the head of the hawkish Yisrael Beinteinu party, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud, voted againstthe freeze.In announcing the decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had appointed Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbiand Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to draft a new plan for the site.He said construction on the pluralisticprayer section would continue uninterrupted. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Reform movement and a vocal advocate of the plan, called the governments decision an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry. The stranglehold that the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox parts have on Israel and the enfranchisement of the majority of Jews in Israel and the world must and will be ended, he said Sunday in a statement. We are assessing all next steps. Tzipi Livni, a prominent lawmaker in the opposition Zionist Union political coalition,took to Facebook to explain why Israeli Jews should be concernedabout the feelings of their American counterparts when it comes to prayer at the Western Wall and a new bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions completed under the auspices of the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate. Why do we care about Jewish Israelis from the Western Wall and the Conversion Law? Because it is important to us that Israel remain the state of the Jewish people and that Judaism be what connects us and not what divides us, Livni said Sunday in a post. The cancellation of the Western Wall arrangement and the new conversion law tear the Jewish people apart. The prime minister of the Jewish people divides them for the purpose of political survival, and gives the ultra-Orthodox parties a monopoly over the Judaism of all of us. Shuki Friedman, the head of religion and state research at the Israel Democracy Institute think tank in Jerusalem, saidmany Israelis resent theinfluence that haredi leaders exert over state institutions. But, he said, most people do not prioritize issues of religion and state, nor do they embrace liberal forms of Judaism. Unfortunately, this isnt something that will shake up Israeli politics. The storm is mostly in the media, Friedman told JTA. Generally speaking,the Reform and Conservative movements have failed in Israel, and the public isnt really concerned about them. Therefore, mainstream politicians arent going to challenge the haredim on an issue like the Western Wall. Meanwhile, he said, the haredi political partieshave an almost singular focus on protecting their narrow interests. That makes them useful to forming and maintaining governing coalitions, butat the cost of accommodating those interests. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the haredi United Torah Judaism party welcomed the Cabinet decision as a victory over liberal Jews. This decision sends a clear message to the entire world that Reform Judaism has no access to or recognition at the Western Wall, he said Sunday in a statement. I thank the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the chief rabbis of Israel. To their merit we were able to sanctify Gods name. Also Sunday, government ministers approved a bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions conducted under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The conversion bill, drafted last month by Interior Minster Ayreh Deri, head of the haredi Shas party, apparently aims to circumvent a March 2016 Supreme Court ruling that allowed those who undergo private Orthodox conversions in Israel to become citizens under the Law of Return. Since helping to form the current government in 2015, haredi politicians have rolled back various efforts to reform the relationship between synagogue and state many of them enacted under the previous government, which did not include them. In November 2015, the Knesset postponed and watered down a law that would have ended the traditional exemption from military conscription for most haredi men. And in July 2016, Education Minister Naftali Bennett assumed the authority to ignore a law slashing statefunding for haredi schools that do not teach math and English.State funding for yeshivas has reached record highs three different times under the current government. However, some Israelis are mounting challenges to the religious status quo outside of the Knesset. The Cabinets decision came on the day of a High Court of Justice deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the Western Wall plan and build the pluralistic prayer space. How the court would react to the freeze was unclear. Also, in an unprecedented move, the semi-official Jewish Agencyissued a resolution on Monday calling on the government to reverse its decision, saying the movewas un-Zionist. We deplore the decision of the [Government of Israel] which contradicts the vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky and the spirit of the Zionist movement and Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people and the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, said the resolution, which the agencysboard of governors passed unanimously. Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinskywere perhaps the most important Zionistleaders of the 20th century. We declare that we cannot and will not allow this to happen. We call on the GOI to understand the gravity of its steps and accordingly reverse its course of action, the resolution continued. Stuart Eizenstat,the formerU.S. ambassador to the European Union, was at the Cabinet meeting Sunday beforethe vote to freeze the Western Wall plan. He presented a report by the think tank he co-chairs, the Jewish People Policy Institute, that urged the government to promote Jewish pluralism, in part to ensure the continued support of American Jewry. While dismayed bythe ministers decision, Eizenstatsaid he felt his message was heard. Ive beendoing this for many years, and Ive never seen a meeting that lasted so long nor one that had such a spirited debate, he told JTA. There was tremendous engagement on our point by nearly all the minsters. It was clear they took it seriously.

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Decaying relations with Diaspora yield bold words in Israel, but little action – Jewish Journal

Israeli politicians rushed to condemn their governments decision Sunday to freezea plan promoting pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall. Voices from across the political spectrum, including members of the governing coalition, criticized the vote by the Cabinetas a recklessaffront to American Jewry. They warned it could weaken the communitys support for Israel. Canceling the deal constitutes a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people and communities as well as the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement. However, as in the past, such concerns were not enough to affect policy: An overwhelming majority of the Cabinet voted in favor of freezing the plan. Amid the outcry, haredi Orthodox politicians celebrated another success in preserving the powers and privileges granted to their community by the state. When Israel approved the Western Wall plan in January 2016, it was widely hailed as a historic compromise between non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews. The Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the multi-denominational Women of the Wall prayer group and the haredi Western Wall rabbi negotiated the plan over several years. They agreed to significantly upgrade the egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza and allow leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements to manage it. In exchange, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation would maintain control of the main prayer section. Women of the Wall, which for nearly two decades has protested limitations on prayer rites in the womens section of the familiar Western Wall plaza, wouldmove to the expanded space, known as Robinsons Arch. But when the plan was made public, haredi leaders decried the concessions to what they sawas illegitimate forms of Judaism, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who heads the Heritage Foundation, quickly withdrew his support. The haredi political parties have since pushed the government to scrap the plan entirely, which it came just short of doing Sunday. Among the Cabinet ministers, only Lieberman, the head of the hawkish Yisrael Beinteinu party, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud, voted againstthe freeze.In announcing the decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had appointed Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbiand Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to draft a new plan for the site.He said construction on the pluralisticprayer section would continue uninterrupted. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Reform movement and a vocal advocate of the plan, called the governments decision an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry. The stranglehold that the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox parts have on Israel and the enfranchisement of the majority of Jews in Israel and the world must and will be ended, he said Sunday in a statement. We are assessing all next steps. Tzipi Livni, a prominent lawmaker in the opposition Zionist Union political coalition,took to Facebook to explain why Israeli Jews should be concernedabout the feelings of their American counterparts when it comes to prayer at the Western Wall and a new bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions completed under the auspices of the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate. Why do we care about Jewish Israelis from the Western Wall and the Conversion Law? Because it is important to us that Israel remain the state of the Jewish people and that Judaism be what connects us and not what divides us, Livni said Sunday in a post. The cancellation of the Western Wall arrangement and the new conversion law tear the Jewish people apart. The prime minister of the Jewish people divides them for the purpose of political survival, and gives the ultra-Orthodox parties a monopoly over the Judaism of all of us. Shuki Friedman, the head of religion and state research at the Israel Democracy Institute think tank in Jerusalem, saidmany Israelis resent theinfluence that haredi leaders exert over state institutions. But, he said, most people do not prioritize issues of religion and state, nor do they embrace liberal forms of Judaism. Unfortunately, this isnt something that will shake up Israeli politics. The storm is mostly in the media, Friedman told JTA. Generally speaking,the Reform and Conservative movements have failed in Israel, and the public isnt really concerned about them. Therefore, mainstream politicians arent going to challenge the haredim on an issue like the Western Wall. Meanwhile, he said, the haredi political partieshave an almost singular focus on protecting their narrow interests. That makes them useful to forming and maintaining governing coalitions, butat the cost of accommodating those interests. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the haredi United Torah Judaism party welcomed the Cabinet decision as a victory over liberal Jews. This decision sends a clear message to the entire world that Reform Judaism has no access to or recognition at the Western Wall, he said Sunday in a statement. I thank the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the chief rabbis of Israel. To their merit we were able to sanctify Gods name. Also Sunday, government ministers approved a bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions conducted under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The conversion bill, drafted last month by Interior Minster Ayreh Deri, head of the haredi Shas party, apparently aims to circumvent a March 2016 Supreme Court ruling that allowed those who undergo private Orthodox conversions in Israel to become citizens under the Law of Return. Since helping to form the current government in 2015, haredi politicians have rolled back various efforts to reform the relationship between synagogue and state many of them enacted under the previous government, which did not include them. In November 2015, the Knesset postponed and watered down a law that would have ended the traditional exemption from military conscription for most haredi men. And in July 2016, Education Minister Naftali Bennett assumed the authority to ignore a law slashing statefunding for haredi schools that do not teach math and English.State funding for yeshivas has reached record highs three different times under the current government. However, some Israelis are mounting challenges to the religious status quo outside of the Knesset. The Cabinets decision came on the day of a High Court of Justice deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the Western Wall plan and build the pluralistic prayer space. How the court would react to the freeze was unclear. Also, in an unprecedented move, the semi-official Jewish Agencyissued a resolution on Monday calling on the government to reverse its decision, saying the movewas un-Zionist. We deplore the decision of the [Government of Israel] which contradicts the vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky and the spirit of the Zionist movement and Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people and the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, said the resolution, which the agencysboard of governors passed unanimously. Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinskywere perhaps the most important Zionistleaders of the 20th century. We declare that we cannot and will not allow this to happen. We call on the GOI to understand the gravity of its steps and accordingly reverse its course of action, the resolution continued. Stuart Eizenstat,the formerU.S. ambassador to the European Union, was at the Cabinet meeting Sunday beforethe vote to freeze the Western Wall plan. He presented a report by the think tank he co-chairs, the Jewish People Policy Institute, that urged the government to promote Jewish pluralism, in part to ensure the continued support of American Jewry. While dismayed bythe ministers decision, Eizenstatsaid he felt his message was heard. Ive beendoing this for many years, and Ive never seen a meeting that lasted so long nor one that had such a spirited debate, he told JTA. There was tremendous engagement on our point by nearly all the minsters. It was clear they took it seriously.

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June 26, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Federal Register :: Jewish American Heritage Month, 2017

Start Printed Page 20797 Proclamation 9596 of April 28, 2017 A Proclamation During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate our Nation’s strong American Jewish heritage, rooted in the ancient faith and traditions of the Jewish people. The small band of Dutch Jews who first immigrated in 1654, seeking refuge and religious liberty, brought with them their families, their religion, and their cherished customs, which they have passed on from generation to generation. The moral and ethical code of the Jewish people is inspired by their spiritual vocation of tikkun olamthe charge to repair the world. Through that vocation, the Jewish people have left an indelible mark on American culture. Today, it is manifested in the towering success Jewish people have achieved in America through a unique synthesis of respect for heritage and love of country. Escaping religious persecution and ethnic violence and seeking political freedom and economic opportunity, American Jews, over centuries, have held firm in the belief that the United States was Di Goldene Medinathe Golden Country. Those who moved here built houses and gardens, raised families, and launched businesses. They have pursued education to advance their mission to make the world a better place. In every aspect of the country’s cultural, spiritual, economic, and civic life, American Jews have stood at the forefront of the struggles for human freedom, equality, and dignity, helping to shine a light of hope to people around the globe. The achievements of American Jews are felt throughout American society and culture, in every field and in every profession. American Jews have built institutions of higher learning, hospitals, and manifold cultural and philanthropic organizations. American Jews have even brought us our greatest superheroesCaptain America, Superman, and Batman. American Jews have composed some of our defining national hymns like God Bless America, timeless musicals like The Sound of Music, and even famous Christmas songs. From Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to Albert Einstein, Richard Rodgers to Irving Berlin, Jerry Siegel to Bill Finger, Mel Brooks to Don Rickles, and Levi Strauss to Elie Wiesel, American Jews have transformed all aspects of American life and continue to enrich the American spirit. This month, I celebrate with my familyincluding my daughter, Ivanka, my son-in-law, Jared, my grandchildren, and our extended familythe deep spiritual connection that binds, and will always bind, the Jewish people to the United States and its founding principles. We recognize the faith and optimism exemplified by American Jews is what truly makes America The Golden Country, and we express our Nation’s gratitude for this great, strong, prosperous, and loving people. NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2017 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to celebrate the heritage and contributions of American Jews and to observe this month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.Start Printed Page 20798 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Congress marks Jewish Heritage Month – Arutz Sheva

Event in the Senate ‘ Congress members from both parties participated in a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month taking place in the Capitol. The event Wednesday included remarks by Sen. Sherrod Brown; D-Ohio; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.; Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y.; Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.; as well as the congresswoman who in her first term authored the 2006 law creating Jewish American Heritage month, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. The event, organized by the Friedlander Group, a New York-based PR and lobbying firm, included honors for Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; as well as Shani Verschleiser, a child welfare expert; and Sparks, a support organization for women in crisis. President Barack Obama for several years organized White House receptions marking the heritage month

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May 24, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Author Helen Maryles Shankman on how to observe Jewish American Heritage Month – amNY

Helen Maryles Shankman knows plenty about Jewish history. The author of They Were Like Family to Me, a finalist for the 2016/17 Story Prize, given for outstanding short fiction, Shankman is a daughter of Holocaust survivors. She grew up listening to friends of her family speaking in Yiddish about their experience as partisans. Listening to their accounts, Shankman realized the Holocaust wasnt a straightforward victim story: There were Jews who resisted, fought, finagled and struggled to survive against overwhelming odds, such as those who broke out of the Sobibr death camp. The author wove their real and imagined experiences into They Were Like Family To Me, a devastating, haunting and luminously beautiful collection of interconnected short stories about Jewish residents of a Polish village under German occupation. In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, held in May, amNewYork spoke with Shankman, who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, about how to mark the month from a literary perspective. How is Jewish American Heritage Month best observed? Everyone should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Its the ultimate Jewish-American book. It would be really nice if the schools observed the month by studying various Jewish-American writers and historical figures, such as Emma Lazarus [author of The New Colossus, which is engraved on the pedestal tablet of the Statue of Liberty]. There are so many unknown people from the labor and civil rights movements. Why are there so many fabulous Jewish writers? Were brought up from the very beginning learning the Torah and prayers. … Words and reading are pivotal. When you get older, you learn the dialectics and arguments that dont even have anything to do with modern life. Students will learn the best way to remove milk from a cows udder after its been butchered so you can eat it [and observe the laws of kashrut]. Its really social anthropology.. Women are underrepresented in Best Jewish Writers lists. Why is that? There is a double standard. I have three sons and they are not interested in reading anything that has a woman as a main character. I also have a theory: A lot of women write historical fiction, and historical fiction isnt considered intellectual. But [all writers are] trying to figure out the meaning of life, why the world is stomping on them, why bad things happen to good people. We just use different vocabularies. Your own book reveals the amazing ingenuity Jews used to survive. I love that it is part of our legacy. As a kid, the most severe and well-known Holocaust experience was Auschwitz. Hiding and fighting was just as important, but it almost didnt count. There are so many forms resistance can take! What must we resist now? Im modern Orthodox and every week I light candles and pray that God gives wisdom to our leaders. It feels like hate is surging through the world right now. The threat of tribalism, circling the wagons, refusing to talk to each other and believing our way is the best way thats the enemy for us.

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May 22, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Vets, Holocaust survivors meet students at Jewish American Heritage event – Sun Sentinel

Students from Hallandale High School in Hallandale Beach and West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines met with Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans for a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie. The event, attended by 53 students selected from teachers from both schools, was organized by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-23) as one of many events taking place in May to commemorate JAHM. “Jewish American Heritage Month was created to promote the contributions of American Jews to our country. JAHM began with stories of immigrants to our country and we are lucky to have people here today to share those experiences,” said Wasserman Schultz in her opening remarks to the students. “We honor both the Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans in learning of their contributions and to be aware that acts of anti-Semitism are still taking place in our time. The Posnack Jewish Community Center, where we are today, had to be evacuated twice recently.” “This is the second time we are honoring both Holocaust survivors and Jewish War Veterans and we will continue to do so annually as a Jewish American Heritage Month event,” said Wasserman Schultz. Students listened to the testimonies of both survivors and veterans in tables in which survivors and veterans were paired in intimate conversations with the students. Sharing stories of courage and survival in the Holocaust were survivors Anya Baum, Mary Eckstein, Norman Frajman, Roman Haar, Joseph Henner, Basia McDonnell, Sam Schleider and Fran Zatz. Jewish War Veterans at the JAHM event were William Bregman, Stephen Moss, Stan Pannaman, Richard Rosensweig and Jack Shifel. Survivors discussed their experiences as children of many near death experiences and the kindness of strangers who helped them. “We were all lucky to have survived. None of us could have planned what to do to escape the Holocaust. It was a matter of luck to be alive,” said Eckstein. Veterans discussed their experiences of serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. “I was lucky not to be in combat in the Vietnam War, but so many of the veterans who came back were and are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” said Shifel. Frajman illustrated his ordeals as a survivor by showing the students his striped jacket issued to him by the Nazis in a concentration camp. “This jacket is a witness to all the atrocities that took place in the Holocaust,” said Frajman, whose mother and sister were murdered along with more than 100 members of his family in the Holocaust. “There are three words that best describe the era Hell on Earth,” said Frajman. Frajman survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, four concentration camps (many as a slave laborer) and a Death March before being liberated by the Russians at age 15. “I wept in tears immediately at my table after hearing Mr. Frajman’s testimonial. It was crazy and so sad. What did he do to go through all the suffering,” said 11th grade student Destiny Greggs of Hallandale High. “I am grateful to have heard his testimony for a day that I will never forget,” said Greggs. “The lessons of the Holocaust must be that we never repeat the same events again,” said Henner. “I learned that the world is not perfect today and maybe never was. We must all strive to work together to make a better world for all of us,” said 11th grade student Natalia Amay of West Broward High School. Wasserman Schultz is credited, along with the late Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat from Pennsylvania and the Jewish Museum of Florida, with founding the annual JAHM celebrations, beginning in 2006. To learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month, go to www.jewishameriicanheritagemonth.us.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Some Jewish American Heritage Month listening, reading recommendations – The Daily Herald

You must sign in or register to continue reading content. By Mindy, Northwest Room Historian at Everett Public Library In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Northwest Roomthe librarys local history collectionis highlighting two notable Jewish families in Everetts history and their stories. The first Jewish settlers arrived in Everett in the early 20th century. The Michelson family was among the first to arrive. Abe Michelson first emigrated from Latvia to Tacoma. In 1906, Abe and his wife, Etta, relocated to Everett. Abe and his brother, Sam, opened a second-hand store on Hewitt Avenue, the Riverside Junk Company. The Michelson family was active in building Congregation Moses Montefiore, in a house-turned-synagogue on Lombard Street. There were about 60 Jewish families in Everett in the 1920s and 1930s, who participated in Orthodox services and organized religious classes for children. Attendance declined with the construction of Highway 99, which made it easier for Everetts Jewish community to attend other synagogues in Seattle. Abe and Ettas eldest son, Moe Michelson (1908-1996) is remembered as an active member of Everett City Council. He served in position #2 from 1968 to 1989. Find more pictures of Councilman Michelson in the Northwest Room Digital Collections. The Glassberg family was also familiar in Everett and its Jewish community. The GlassbergsMaurice, Susie, and children Abe and Ruthmoved to Everett from Salt Lake City, Utah, in the early 20th century. They operated a pawnshop at 2905 Hewitt Avenue. While a student at Everett High School, Abe Glassberg (1898-1994) began writing for the Everett Daily Herald. He became the newspapers managing editor in 1937, and held the position until retirement in 1963. In 1975, Glassberg was recorded for a brief interview, which is part of the Northwest Rooms Oral History Collection. Recommended reads: Family of Strangers: Building a Jewish Community in Washington State, by Molly Cone, Howard Droker, and Jacqueline Williams (2003) Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on Americas Edge by Ellen Eisenberg, Ava F. Kahn, and William Toll (2009) The Northwest Room has many resources to help you research and explore your history at your library. Be sure to visit the Everett Public Library blog for more reviews and news of all things happening at the library.

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May 15, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed


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