Archive for the ‘Jewish American Heritage Month’ Category

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s AMERIKE – THE GOLDEN LAND to Close This Month – Broadway World

The Off-Broadway musical “Amerike – The Golden Land” wraps up its seven-week run on Sunday, August 20.

Having begun performances at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Batttery Place, on July 4, it will have played 42 performances over seven weeks. The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s (NYTF) timely immigration musical opened Off-Broadway – fittingly, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty – on July 10.

A musical journey through the American immigrant experience from the 1880s until the close of WWII, “Amerike – The Golden Land” depicts the challenges faced by the vast majority of all American immigrants – including poverty, racism and exclusion. But it also clearly illustrates the interesting give-and-take process of cultures from abroad impacting American popular culture.

During the show’s run, NYTF hosted the first Immigration Arts Summit in July. Bringing together prominent New York arts organizations that present work inspired by cultures from abroad, the conference resulted in the formation of an Immigrant Arts Coalition.

“Planning is underway for New York’s leading cultural arts organizations to work together under the Immigrant Arts Coalition banner,” says NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine. “A network of arts organizations and individual artists, the Coalition will share advocacy, audience development and other resources, and collaborate on shared programming.”

Directed by Drama Desk Award-nominee Bryna Wasserman, with movement and staging by Chita Rivera Award nominee Merete Muenter, and music direction and arrangements by Zalmen Mlotek (NYTF’s artistic director), this re-conceived 2017 production of Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld’s “Amerike – The Golden Land” (originally “The Golden Land”) set out to make the open-hearted point that the Jewish immigration story stands, fundamentally, for all immigrant communities.

Spanning popular songs from the 1880s to the mid-20th century, “Amerike – The Golden Land” recreates the sights and sounds of New York City as it welcomed waves of Jewish immigrants. The production is presented in an authentic American immigrant Yiddish (that often mixed both languages), supported by English and Russian supertitles.

“Amerike – The Golden Land’s” cast of 12 features Glenn Seven Allen; Alexandra Frohlinger; the international klezmer star Daniel Kahn; Dani Marcus; Stephanie Lynne Mason and David Perlman. The show’s ensemble includes Maya Jacobson, Alexander Kosmowski, Raquel Nobile, Isabel Nesti, Grant Richards, and Bobby Underwood. Jessica Rose Futran and Christopher Tefft are the designated principal understudies.

The show’s popular klezmer band features “Zisl” Slepovitch on reeds; Jordan Hirsch — trumpet; Katsumi Ferguson — violin; Dmitry Ishenko — bass; Daniel Linden — trombone; Sean Perham — percussion; Zalmen Mlotek — piano. Andrew Wheeler is the associate music director. The production design team includes Yael Lubetzky (lighting); Izzy Fields (costumes); Jason Courson (scenic and projection design); Patrick Calhoun (sound design), and Colleen Lynch (props). The production stage manager is Eileen Haggerty.

The Drama Desk-winning NYTF — now in its 103rd consecutive season (and its third at its new permanent home at the Museum of Jewish Heritage) — brings a rich cultural heritage to life on stage-one that was nearly destroyed some 75 years ago. NYTF was the associate producer of Broadway’s “Indecent,” winner of two Tony Awards including direction, which closed on August 6.

Tickets, which are $35 to $60, are on sale now at www.nytf.org and by phone at 866-811-4111. For more information call the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at 212/213-2120, ext. 206, or visit www.nytf.org.

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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s AMERIKE – THE GOLDEN LAND to Close This Month – Broadway World

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

23-Year-old Jewish Giant Proudly Displays Hebrew Heritage on Football Field – Breaking Israel News

Seek the favor of Hashem, and He will grant you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:5 (The Israel Bible)

Jewish football player Adam Bisnowaty was drafted by the New York Giants in April. (Screenshot)

Adam Bisnowaty has recently joined a very exclusive club: the Jewish football players league. Drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants in April, the 23-year-old NFL rookie, a veritable giant himself 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds is not shy about his Jewish and Israeli heritage, displaying a Biblical quote in Hebrew on his arm and talking openly about his religion.

One of the first things I tell people is that Im Jewish, Bisnowaty told JTA in a recent interview, acknowledging his own rarity. People dont meet a lot of Jewish football players, so I always like to bring that out and just open up, so its nice and easy.

And for anyone else who didnt know, theres his tattoo. Reported by the New York Post last month, the eye-catching ink of three Hebrew words making up one of Gods names comes from a verse in the Book of Exodus.

Moshe said to Hashem, When I come to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is His name? what shall I say to them? And Hashem said to Moshe, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh. He continued, Thus shall you say to the Israelites, Ehyeh sent me to you. Exodus 3:13-14

Ehyeh-asher-ahyeh translates to, I am that I am. Bisnowaty calls it a statement for my life.

I always wanted to symbolize something religiously as well as kind of relate back to who I am, so I thought it was the perfect thing, Bisnowaty told the Post of choosing his tattoo. Im really big on who I am and what I hold myself accountable for and kind of the way I live life.

In the Torah, you have it related to God, its also the other aspect of being able to have something kinda higher than you.

Bisnowaty, whose father is Israeli, grew up in a practicing Jewish family in Pittsburgh until his parents divorced when he was 12. He never had a bar mitzvah, the Jewish rite of passage into adulthood, for that reason, but he hopes to do so one day, preferably in Israel, which he visited once at age 8.

The beefy offensive lineman still retains elements of cultural Judaism, including diet. He told the Post that while he is not religious, he doesnt eat pork, and hes always had matzah in the cupboard and matzah ball soup, potato pancakes, everything. Its just how I was raised and just love the food.

His family celebrates the Jewish holidays, including Passover. Lighting Hanukkah candles, he said, is a must.

Bisnowaty follows in the footsteps of a very few other Jewish football players. In terms of contemporaries, brothers Mitch and Geoff Schwartz, also offensive linemen, were both in the NBA from 2012 to 2016. Julian Edelman, who is not halachically (according to Jewish law) a member of the tribe but identifies as Jewish through his father, gained football fame during last years Super Bowl, when he helped his team, the New England Patriots, to victory with a miraculous catch.

Over the decades, a number of Jewish football players have made it to the big leagues. In a top-10 lineup, the American Jewish Historical Society listed the best Jewish footballers last year in order of skill. Edelman came in fourth after Hall-of-Famers Side Luckman and Benny Friedman, both quarterbacks, and lineman Ron Mix.

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23-Year-old Jewish Giant Proudly Displays Hebrew Heritage on Football Field – Breaking Israel News

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Temple Mount wrap up: Where religion, nationalism and politics keep colliding – GetReligion (blog)

While the commemoration ran from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, it’s not too late to tie Tisha BAv (literally, the ninth day of the Hebrew calendars month of Av) to the current state of affairs. You might want to refer to this handy Religion News Service Splainer.”

I’m not qualified to speak definitively about just how the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif dispute breaks down along religious, nationalistic and political lines among ordinary Palestinians and other Muslims that support them — as opposed to the statements of Palestinian leaders who always stress religious claims in rallying global Muslim support.

Suffice it to say that traditional Islam, far more than do contemporary Christianity or rabbinic Judaism (rabbinic, meaning post-Temple), makes little differentiation between the religious and political realms, and that for many Muslims living under undemocratic governments religion is the only outlet for political expression on any level.

However, I do know enough about the Jewish side to suggest that reporters consider the following.

For doctrinally non-Orthodox Jews who remain religiously connected to their heritage — I’m referring to members of Judaisms Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues, most of which are in North America — the Temple Mount is, doctrinally speaking, not so much a religious issues as it is a political one.

What do I mean? Why might theologically liberal American Jews say the Temple Mount isn’t really an important religious issue for them?

Because while Orthodox Jews continue to pray daily for construction of a third temple on the mount — not to mention restoration of the animal sacrifices that once occurred there — the liberal movements have largely removed such language from their prayers and, hence, their thinking. (A tip of the hat to Rabbi Philip Pohl of Annapolis, Maryland, for pointing this out to me, though any errors here are wholly mine.)

When I say the Temple Mount is not a religious hot button for liberal Jews, I do not mean that control of the site is also of no importance to them. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict still resonates deeply for the majority of American Jews, even if they’re secular, and despite repeated surveys showing that support for Israeli government policies is continually dropping among liberal Jews. (The liberal Jewish denominations account for all but about 10 percent of all synagogue-aligned American Jews.)

For these Jews, it’s about Jewish pride and tribal history, and perhaps most importantly, the memory of the Holocaust and the psychological safe space from anti-Semitic forces that Zionism promised, though that’s certainly not how it’s played out so far.

Religion-beat scribes: If you interview liberal synagogue-affiliated Jews on the Temple Mounts significance to them, be sure to ask specifically whether the issue is political or nationalistic or simply religious for them. Remind them what their denominations say about this. I bet many won’t be clear on it

This latest flare up over new Israeli security arrangements for the Jerusalem site ended in what appeared to most observers as a political defeat for Israel and, in particular, the current Israeli prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli press was highly critical of the Netanyahu government’s actions, and so was the general Israeli population, one TV poll found.

Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim worlds considered Netanyahus removal of all the newly installed security technology a great victory.

But as I said, it’s all another temporary state affairs, to be upended the next time violence intrudes on the site — as it almost surely will the next time Palestinian leadership senses the Israeli government is seeking to assert any new authority over what is considered Islams third holiest site, even if it’s a defensive move, as was the one that set off this latest uproar.

This Wall Street Journal analysis lays out why creating upheaval on and around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif seems to work for the Palestinians. The writer often takes hardline right-wing positions on the conflict that I do not agree with, but I think hes nailed the main points in this piece.

Stay tuned for the next turn of this exasperating screw.

FIRST IMAGE: Artistic rendering of Herod’s Temple.

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America is helping Montenegro’s democracy mature – Washington Examiner

This week, Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Montenegro. His historic visit signals a new chapter not only in bilateral relations, but also strengthen the overall trans-Atlantic alliance.

Most importantly, the visit will celebrate just how far the Montenegrin economy has come due in large part to quiet American leadership and a growing Montenegrin commitment to Western values.

When 97 senators voted on March 28 to add Montenegro to NATO, a clear message was sent across the Atlantic. Senators made clear to this young multiparty parliamentary democracy, no bigger than a congressional district, that its years of painstaking judicial, economic, and military reforms were worth it.

NATO is a military alliance. Much has been written about the Montenegrin military and the overall future of NATO. Sen. Marco Rubio alluded to the forgotten benefit of NATO enlargement in a floor speech before the vote, saying the “alliance helps advance our economic interests.” The vote, CODELs beforehand and, most certainly the VP’s trip all advance American economic interests.

Indeed, the Preamble of the NATO Treaty articulates that the alliance was “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” Furthermore, Article 2 makes clear that members “will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration.” These NATO precepts are American values and have helped transform the American economy following World War II.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Montenegro ranks significantly ahead of its neighbors, Croatia and Serbia. Indeed, the journey to NATO has fostered a commitment to free market and capitalist economic principles. In just 11 years of independence and only 25 years after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegrin officials have discovered the ingredients to a dynamic economy. These are a robust private sector engaged in international trade with a defined, but not burdensome, regulatory and legal framework. This is what Pence has championed throughout his entire career. The vice president will find a country that appreciates the importance of a strong private sector economy.

Visitors from Washington matter. In November 2014, perhaps not coincidentally one month after the visit of Sen. Chris Murphy, the Montenegrin Parliament passed legislation to reform the judicial sector, including the establishment of a special prosecutor’s office for organized crime and an anti-corruption agency.

Currently, the Montenegrin government has welcomed investors from 107 different countries. The high point of foreign direct investment, 2009, included over $1.2 billion of capital coming into this country of less than 650,000 residents. Last year, Norway remained the largest investor in private sector projects with $189M. American companies invested $5.6M in the economy in 2016.

Surely, Pence’s trip will prompt additional American investment and tourist visits.

The words of Prime Minister Dusko Markovic during his June visit to Washington ring true in the days leading up to the vice president’s trip, “This is a small day for the United States and its allies, but a great day for Montenegro.” It was American leadership which ended two ethnic wars in the region. It will be continued American government leadership and fostering of American values which will continue this positive momentum.

In 1979, my family fled the brutality of Soviet Communism to celebrate our Jewish faith and embrace the freedoms of America. America has only grown stronger since the height of the Cold War by embracing the freedoms articulated by our Founding Fathers and the principles outlined by NATO.

So too, can Montenegro grow stronger, as it aligns with America and shuns a past defined by despotism and government bureaucracy.

Neil Emilfarb, a native of West Hartford, Connecticut, has lived and worked in Montenegro since 2006. He is CEO of Stratex Group which has developed and managed properties throughout Montenegro.

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12 Things To Do In August That Will Make You Just A Little More Jewish – Forward

Welcome to August: Youre tired of the heat. A chance to walk romantically through falling leaves maybe even while wearing a sweater, of all things is beginning to sound appealing, and youve suffered too many sunburns to be coaxed back to the pool. Never fear! With great new television premieres, music and theater festivals galore, and the opening of a thrilling new museum exhibit or two, you, too, can enjoy the end of your summer. Here are 12 ways to celebrate the month:

1. Sail away with Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Lincoln Center Theaters production of The King and I went all-out, complete with sets so enchanting as to be almost alarming. Residents of Washington, D.C., who missed the productions New York run will have a chance to catch it at the Kennedy Center, where it will play through August 20. Then they, like their Manhattan fellows, can spend the next year getting Getting To Know You out of their heads.

Getty Images/Walter McBride

Harold Prince, both the subject and director of Prince of Broadway.

2. Pay homage to Broadways Prince.

Producer and director Harold Prince has won 21 Tony Awards for shows as iconic as West Side Story, Sweeney Todd and The Phantom of the Opera. Come August, selections from the 34 works hes mounted on Broadway will appear together in Prince of Broadway, a musical making its American premiere on the Great White Way. If youre a sucker for show tunes, this is the extravaganza youve been waiting for especially as it features all-new arrangements of the famous songs Prince helped bring to the stage, courtesy of Jason Robert Brown, himself a three-time Tony winner.

3. Witness an unusual world premiere.

The illustrator and writer Maria Kalman has won hearts for her inventive examinations of subjects ranging from the fictional canine poet named Max Stravinsky to a very adult experience of American democracy. At the Jacobs Pillow Dance festival, located, like Williamstown, in the Berkshires, witness the world premiere of John Heginbothams evening-length program based on Kalmans writing and art. Called The Principles of Uncertainty, the work will feature an original score by violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen of Brooklyn Rider and of the Silk Road Ensemble.

4. Unwind at Ravinia.

Ravinia, a well-loved outdoor music venue in the northern suburbs of Chicago, plays host to an eclectic music festival each summer. This August the hits include an evening of works by the ever-morbid composer Gustav Mahler back-to-back with a performance by Gladys Knight. No matter how varied your tastes, we think youll find a match.

5. Listen to Gershwin under the California sky.

The Los Angeles Philharmonics summer programming at the Hollywood Bowl is full of treats, from the dreamily conceived Gershwin Under the Stars to a guest appearance by violinist Joshua Bell, who will try his hand at Stravinsky. (No, not the dog.) An All-Mendelssohn program August 8 is also not to be missed.

Getty Images/Theo Wargo

Members of the cast of An American in Paris perform at the 2015 Tony Awards.

6. Speaking of Gershwin.

Chicagoans, get whisked off to Paris! The Broadway production of the Gershwin-heavy An American in Paris arrived in the Windy City in late July and will depart come mid-August. Dont miss a chance to see the gorgeously choreographed musical, directed by ballet wunderkind Christopher Wheeldon, and tap your foot quietly to some classic tunes. As George and Ira Gershwin would say: S wonderful! S marvelous!

7. And speaking of Joshua Bell.

Lincoln Centers Mostly Mozart Festival is an annual favorite, and Bell will appear there before heading to Hollywood, playing Brahms with cellist Steven Isserlis. Another festival highlight will be Gil Shahams take on Tchaikovskys Violin Concerto. Two Jewish violin dynamos in one month? Why not!

8. Seek the next great American playwright.

Theres a strong tradition of great American Jewish playwrights to put it lightly from Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman to Tony Kushner and Annie Baker. Who will be next to join their ranks? Head to Williamstown, Massachusetts, where the annual Williamstown Theatre Festival often heralds great new work, to find out. The August lineup includes works by the young playwrights Halley Feiffer, represented by a new take on Anton Chekhovs Three Sisters, and Anna Ziegler, whose Actually is a contemporary take on privilege and morality.

Wikimedia Commons/Israel National Photo Collection

An image from the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann.

9. Experience Eichmanns trial.

It doesnt officially open until September, but if youre a member or friend of Manhattans Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, get a sneak peek at the new exhibit Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann in August. The immersive exhibit, which includes newly declassified artifacts never previously exhibited outside Israel, re-creates the setting of the 1961 trial of the infamous Nazi official who oversaw the deportations of European Jews to concentration camps.

10. Engage in the religious life of early America.

Before rounding the corner into the High Holidays, visit Washington, D.C.s National Museum of American History as it plays host to an exhibit on the religious life of the early United States. Jews were a tiny minority in the new country, but far from invisible; one of the objects in the exhibit will be a Torah scroll from Manhattans Spanish-Portuguese Congregation Shearith Israel, founded in 1654.

11. Head back to camp with old friends.

Wet Hot American Summer, a classic early-2000s send-up of summer camp, received an unexpectedly delightful reboot in the 2015 Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Come August 4, the old gang, including Paul Rudds arrogant man-child, Elizabeth Bankss high-powered if ethically conflicted journalist, and Michael Showalters unlucky-in-love-and-hairstyles Coop, returns in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. Expect a talking can, deadpan humor and bad make-outs, and to laugh until you cry.

12. And get high with Abbi and Ilana.

Craving 80s hairstyles, frank discussions of masturbation, merciless ridiculing of SoulCycle, screams of Yass and a genuinely enormous amount of marijuana? Hurray for you: Broad City is coming back. Follow the cringey-comedic exploits of aimless New York 20-somethings Abbi and Ilana when they return to Comedy Central on August 23.

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12 Things To Do In August That Will Make You Just A Little More Jewish – Forward

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What Does It Take to ‘Assimilate’ in America? – New York Times

The pendulum between hope and fear continues to swing today. We are a country where people of all backgrounds, all nations of origin, all languages, all religions, all races, can make a home, Hillary Clinton told an immigrant-advocacy conference in New York in 2015. By contrast, Donald Trump warned on the campaign trail that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Last November, one of these visions of assimilation won out.

Immigrants contribute to America in a million different ways, from growing the food on our tables to creating the technologies we use every day. They commit far fewer crimes than native-born citizens. But hardly a week goes by when poor assimilation isnt blamed for offenses involving immigrants and the entire project of immigration called into question. In Michigan, an Indian-American emergency-room doctor who belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shiite Muslim sect, was charged with performing female genital mutilation on several young girls. In Minnesota, a black police officer, the first Somali-American cop in his precinct, shot an unarmed Australian woman. Both incidents were immediately seized upon by the far right as examples of the inability or refusal of Muslims to assimilate. So far this year, American police officers have killed more than 500 people, but for the commentator Ann Coulter, the shooting in Minnesota would never have happened in Australia because they have fewer than 10k Somalis. We have >100k. Earlier this month, the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson ran a segment in which he said citizens of a small town in Pennsylvania claimed that several dozen Roma who had been resettled there defecate in public, chop the heads off chickens, leave trash everywhere. (The police said they issued citations where relevant.) The group doesnt seem at all interested in integrating, Carlson complained. You have to assume its a statement.

One reason immigration is continuously debated in America is that there is no consensus on whether assimilation should be about national principles or national identity. Those who believe that assimilation is a matter of principle emphasize a belief in the Constitution and the rule of law; in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and in a strong work ethic and equality. Where necessary, they support policy changes to further deter any cultural customs that defy those values. For example, Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, signed a new law that increases existing penalties for anyone who performs female genital mutilation on a minor.

But for those who believe that assimilation is a matter of identity as many on the far right do nothing short of the abandonment of all traces of your heritage will do. The alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, an immigrant himself, told a campus group in January that the hijab is not something that should ever be seen on American women. The perception that visible signs of religious identity are indicators of deep and sinister splits in society can lead to rabid fears of wholly imaginary threats. Several states have passed anti-Shariah measures, in fear that Muslims will seek to impose their own religious laws on unsuspecting Americans. The fact that Muslims make up 1 percent of the U.S. population and that such an agenda is both a statistical and a Constitutional impossibility has done nothing to temper this fear. It is no longer a fringe belief: The white nationalist Richard Spencer told a reporter that he once bonded with Stephen Miller, now a senior White House adviser, over concerns that immigrants from non-European countries were not assimilating.

Debates about assimilation are different from debates about undocumented immigration, even though they are often mixed together. Concerns about undocumented immigration typically center on competition for jobs or the use of public resources, but complaints about assimilation are mostly about identity a nebulous mix of race, religion and language. In May, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that white working-class voters were 3.5 times more likely to support Donald Trump if they reported feeling like a stranger in their own land. My seatmate on that airplane was a small-business owner, yet he did not seem worried about Korean-Americans taking business away from him; he seemed more aggrieved that their children studied two languages, or that his community featured store signs and church marquees in an alphabet he could not read. Others might object to their neighbors wearing skullcaps, or eating fermented duck eggs, or listening to Tejano music and call these concerns about assimilation, too.

It should be clear by now that assimilation is primarily about power. In Morocco, where I was born, I never heard members of Parliament express outrage that French immigrants or expats, as they might call themselves eat pork, drink wine or have extramarital sex, in plain contradiction of local norms. If they do adopt the countrys customs or speak its language, they arent said to have assimilated but to have gone native. In France, by contrast, politicians regularly lament that people descended from North African immigrants choose halal food options for school lunches or want to attend classes in head scarves. One result is a daily experience of rejection, which only makes assimilation more difficult.

America is different from Europe in one significant way: It has a long and successful history of integrating its immigrants, even if each new generation thinks that the challenges it faces are unique and unprecedented. It is a nation in which people will wear green on St. Patricks Day without thinking much about the periods during which the Irish were accused of contaminating the nation with their foreign habits. Because there is no objective measure of assimilation, many people end up throwing up their hands and saying, I know it when I see it. The question is: Who is doing the judging here?

Laila Lalami is the author, most recently, of The Moors Account, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

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A version of this article appears in print on August 6, 2017, on Page MM11 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Blending In.

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Jewish American Heritage Month

Posted By simmons on August 2, 2017

NEW YORK Ikeda Yataros body was cremated today. May his soul be forever damned. The flames claimed his corpse and his roses all that was left of the man.

So opens Torture by Rose, the first story in Orlando Ortega-Medinas debut short story collection Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions.

Set in present-day Tokyo, it tells the story of Ikeda Yataro, a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts who offers a talented university student the chance to become his sole heir. There are three conditions and should the student violate even one, they would forfeit the inheritance. The student agrees, but soon finds the price too much to bear. But dont expect a morality lesson from the Jewish author.

The stories in the book come from below my consciousness. They are to entertain and not leave any kind of message. I think the interesting thing is how people read the stories and what they take away tells a lot about the people reading them. I dont mind what people come up with as long as they were moved by the story, Ortega-Medina said, speaking with The Times of Israel from London.

In all, 13 tales lie between the covers of the book and, like Torture by Rose, they are not spun from sweetness and light. Rather, the darkly humorous stories are occasionally violent, often uncomfortable, and always populated with characters on a quest to find their place in the world. Its a quest reflective of the 49-year-old authors own search for identity.

With my more exotic background, I always felt I had an excess of identity

I grew up in a fairly homogeneous white Anglo-Saxon neighborhood. With my more exotic background, I always felt I had an excess of identity. I always found I had to be distinguishing myself. I was always having to clarify who I was, to navigate the different strands of my background, said the Los Angeles-born author who is of Judeo-Spanish descent via Cuba.

The work was inspired by four periods of travel in his life: California, Quebec, Israel and Japan. Ortega-Medina said the Israel stories are the most biographical of the whole collection and are firmly rooted in his experiences and the time he spent searching for himself there.

Both of Ortega-Medinas parents were born in Cuba, his fathers family originally from Florida, his mothers family from the Canary Islands. The couple left during the political upheavals of the 1950s. Along with their belongings they packed the hope they would someday return to Cuba.

Illustrative: An Israeli flag hangs on the wall of the Jewish Community Center in Havana, Cuba. (Serge Attal/Flash90)

Growing up with their wish hovering in the corners of his house, coupled with the fact that his parents were not affiliated with any religious denomination, further set the young Ortega-Medina looking for his place in the world.

In a way I found myself searching for identity in my own household. I wasnt accepting the idea that wed move back to Cuba. When I was 13 I had a deep interest in my religious heritage. My grandmother was visiting and when I came downstairs she presented me with a kippa and said Its really sad youre not a Bar Mitzvah, he said.

Jerusalem Ablaze by Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy)

His grandmother sent him to Israel after he graduated high school, and he also turned to Chabad and the Conservative movement for guidance and spiritual fulfillment.

An Israel State of Mind is perhaps the most biographical story in the collection. In it a recent high school graduate from Southern California arrives in Israel to spend a year working on a kibbutz. He hopes to rid himself of his desires; instead he is reunited with the man he loves.

And by the time the sherut [shared taxi] approached the imposing gates of Kfar Vered, Marc was beginning to feel more optimistic about the whole thing. Perhaps having a good time here at Kfar Vered and connecting with his Jewish heritage were not mutually exclusive propositions, writes Ortega-Medina in the story.

The character Marc is the closest to an alter ego I have. I do work out some personal things through him, he said.

He has long turned to words to work out his own search for self. In elementary school he penned several science fiction, time-travel comic books for himself and a few select friends. He wrote a novel that he set aside, and even tried his hand at a screenplay or two.

Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina at the West London Synagogue. (Clare Allen/Courtesy)

Jerusalem Ablaze has so far received high marks. Kirkus Reviews described his prose as elegant and potent throughout, with visceral passages bathed in lyricism. And the Irish News wrote the book is beautifully wrought, deeply unnerving Ortega-Medina holds a mirror up to our darkest thoughts and urges while showing the oneness of the human condition.

With the positive reviews rolling in Ortega-Medina imagined hosting a dinner for the writers who inspired him.

Id surround with Yukio Mishima, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, John Fowles and Anthony Burgess, and wed discuss writing over a glass, or three, of wine

Id surround with Yukio Mishima, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, John Fowles and Anthony Burgess, and wed discuss writing over a glass, or three, of wine. No, make that champagne, he said. In fact, Torture by Rose is an homage to Mishimas story Swaddling clothes. It left a lot of questions for me and I answered them in my story.

Ortega-Medina studied English Literature at UCLA and then earned a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law. While there he won The National Society of Arts and Letters award for Short Stories.

In 1999 Ortega-Medina moved to Canada with his life partner to protest discriminatory policies in the US against same-sex couples, running his San Francisco law practice from Toronto. He and his partner were among the first same-sex couples to marry at Montreals Hotel de Ville in 2005.

One of the things we really enjoyed when we moved to Canada was that as a couple we were a non-issue. It was more than acceptance; it was as if us being a couple was a non-issue, he said.

Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy)

After four years in Canada his partner, who hails from a tropical country, broke the news: he was done the nearly six-month-long Canadian winters. Fortunately, an opportunity arose in the UK and the couple moved to London.

With US, Canadian and British citizenship, Ortega-Medina works as an immigration and consular attorney in London, and is managing director of a US corporate immigration practice there.

While the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage throughout the nation in 2015, Ortega-Medina said he has no plans to return there. He described his life in London with his husband as quite settled. We live a stones throw from Kensington Palace and we can literally wave to the royal family as they drive by.

For a lot of people the civil ceremony would have been enough. Standing under a chuppah was an important milestone for us

Several years ago he and his partner married in a religious ceremony at the West London Synagogue, where they belong and are quite active.

For a lot of people the civil ceremony would have been enough. Standing under a chuppah was an important milestone for us, he said.

Many of the stories in Jerusalem Ablaze explore lifes imperfections and the fragility of the world. These are themes that come from a somewhat overprotective mother, he said.

My mother was always very nervous. She worried about whether we would catch a cold and die, or be run over by a car. She worried that anything could happen to us. It made me a bit more daring, a bit more of a risk taker, he said. My leaving the US for Canada to reinvent myself and then again to the UK where we didnt know anybody was risky. And in my writing I take risks.

Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy)

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Why Jews Need To Fight Trump On Voting Rights 53 Years After ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murders – Forward

(JTA) Andrew GoodmanandMichael Schwernerare about the closest American Jews have to secular saints. The two Jewish civil rights workers traveled south for the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, joining the African-American activist James Chaney in canvassing black churches. All three were kidnapped and murdered by a lynch mob.

Forty-three years ago next Friday, Aug. 4, their bullet-riddled bodies were found buried in a dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi, 44 days after their disappearance.

The hagiographies of the two Jewish men, both in their 20s, sometimes overlook the specific purpose of their trip to the Jim Crow South: registering African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. Freedom Summer was meant to directly confrontefforts, legal and otherwise, to prevent blacks from voting: poll taxes and literacy tests, fear and intimidation, and as Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney found out, beatings and lynchings.

As the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, described the mission, the inability to vote was only one of many problems blacks encountered in the racist society around them, but the civil-rights officials who decided to zero in on voter registration understood its crucial significance as well the white supremacists did. An African American voting bloc would be able to effect social and political change.

It was the unfinished business of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney that animated 24 faith groups, 17 of them Jewish, to write a letter to Congress urging lawmakers not to fund the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity the Orwellian name for President Donald Trumps effort to hunt down those 3 million illegal ballots that he claims illicitly cost him the popular vote. Thats Trumps agenda, anyway. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other commission members say they merely want to gauge the extent of the problem and propose remedies.

Kobach has already signaled the kinds of remedies he has in mind: imposing strict voter identificationlaws; removing names from voter rolls perhaps using inaccurate or unreliable databases; identifying potential duplicate registration records that use a notoriously misleading instrument; or just failing to enforce existing laws that have expanded individuals right to vote.

Sure, such remedies might end up suppressing the votes of poor people, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly (and, what do you know, Democrats) in fact, nearly all reliable studies and multiplecourt cases say they will. But, according to Kobach and company, thats the price to be paid for, well, integrity.

The voting commission is a solution in search of a problem. Voting by non-citizens isvanishingly rare. Trumps claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 elections were baseless, as the faith coalition notes. There are no reputable studies to suggest that U.S. elections have been compromised by fraudulent voting by undocumented immigrants, felons, double voters or dead voters. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a Voter Fraud Database it says shows incontrovertible evidence that voter fraud is a real and pressing issue, lists only1,071 instances of voter fraud going back to 1981. Americans have cast over 1 billion votes during that period in presidential elections alone.

Rather than pointing to evidence that suggests otherwise because it cant the administration offers something else: doubt.We may never know if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election, Kobach told MSNBC.Responding to reports that more than 40 states rejected intrusive requests for massive amounts of data on its voters, Trump said this month, If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what theyre worried about.

The assumption of the commission is that voter fraud is real and widespread; the onus is on everyone else to prove it isnt.

Late-night comics giggle at Trumps propensity for creating alternative realities, whether it was his campaign claim that America was experiencing an unprecedented crime wave or this weeks tweetssaying that transgender service members are a financial drain on the military. Fitting this pattern is his and his teams ongoing refusal to accept the conclusion by the top four intelligence agencies that Russian interference in the 2016 election was real and significant. On Monday, top presidential adviser Jared Kushner emerged from his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to declare that accusations of Russian meddling and administration collusion with the Russians are an insult to Trumps voters.

Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won, Kushner said. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.

In other words: No matter what the CIA, FBI and National Security Council tell us, Russian interference in the presidential election is a non-issue. But the unfounded reports of voter fraud are worth a federally funded commission.

Unlike the talk show hosts, civil rights activists and other fans of representative democracy arent laughing.

Taxpayer funds should go towards efforts to encourage voter participation, the faith coalition said in its letter, rather than a commission intended to restrict voting rights.

Some have memories of how hard Jews fought alongside blacks to secure voting rights. Others believe, as the coalition put it, that their religion teaches them to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people especially the sacred right to vote.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a federal lawsuit calling the presidents election commission a pretext for the suppression of black and Latino voters.

Obviously this is a calamity for Democrats, who already are seeing evidence that laws making it harder to vote are having a disproportionate effect on their constituents. But this should also be an issue for Jews who support the president and wish he would get on with the business of addressing actual problems, from infrastructure to job creation to regulatory overreach.

Theres been a debate over the years about whether or not Goodman and Schwerner were part of the Jewish story. At a big Jewish conference a number of years ago, I heard the head of what is now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs declare, When Goodman and Schwerner went south for Freedom Summer, they were doing Jewish! Others questioned then, and still question today, why so many Jewish activists pursue universalist causes in the name of tikkun olam rather than working on issues that will specifically benefit Israel or their fellow Jews.

Goodman and Schwerner were of a generation that did not distinguish between policies that were good for them and those that were good for us. Jews were only just emerging from decades in which discrimination against them was both legal and tolerated. They knew that rights won slowly could be taken away quickly, and that if any minority was at risk, then all minorities were at risk.

The organizations that backed Freedom Summer understood the power of coalitions in pursuing their own particularist agendas. You can call it enlightened self-interest, but maybe thats just another name for tikkun olam.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Aide Is Arrested (Photos) – Opposing Views


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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s AMERIKE – THE GOLDEN LAND to Close This Month – Broadway World

The Off-Broadway musical “Amerike – The Golden Land” wraps up its seven-week run on Sunday, August 20. Having begun performances at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Batttery Place, on July 4, it will have played 42 performances over seven weeks. The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s (NYTF) timely immigration musical opened Off-Broadway – fittingly, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty – on July 10. A musical journey through the American immigrant experience from the 1880s until the close of WWII, “Amerike – The Golden Land” depicts the challenges faced by the vast majority of all American immigrants – including poverty, racism and exclusion. But it also clearly illustrates the interesting give-and-take process of cultures from abroad impacting American popular culture. During the show’s run, NYTF hosted the first Immigration Arts Summit in July. Bringing together prominent New York arts organizations that present work inspired by cultures from abroad, the conference resulted in the formation of an Immigrant Arts Coalition. “Planning is underway for New York’s leading cultural arts organizations to work together under the Immigrant Arts Coalition banner,” says NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine. “A network of arts organizations and individual artists, the Coalition will share advocacy, audience development and other resources, and collaborate on shared programming.” Directed by Drama Desk Award-nominee Bryna Wasserman, with movement and staging by Chita Rivera Award nominee Merete Muenter, and music direction and arrangements by Zalmen Mlotek (NYTF’s artistic director), this re-conceived 2017 production of Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld’s “Amerike – The Golden Land” (originally “The Golden Land”) set out to make the open-hearted point that the Jewish immigration story stands, fundamentally, for all immigrant communities. Spanning popular songs from the 1880s to the mid-20th century, “Amerike – The Golden Land” recreates the sights and sounds of New York City as it welcomed waves of Jewish immigrants. The production is presented in an authentic American immigrant Yiddish (that often mixed both languages), supported by English and Russian supertitles. “Amerike – The Golden Land’s” cast of 12 features Glenn Seven Allen; Alexandra Frohlinger; the international klezmer star Daniel Kahn; Dani Marcus; Stephanie Lynne Mason and David Perlman. The show’s ensemble includes Maya Jacobson, Alexander Kosmowski, Raquel Nobile, Isabel Nesti, Grant Richards, and Bobby Underwood. Jessica Rose Futran and Christopher Tefft are the designated principal understudies. The show’s popular klezmer band features “Zisl” Slepovitch on reeds; Jordan Hirsch — trumpet; Katsumi Ferguson — violin; Dmitry Ishenko — bass; Daniel Linden — trombone; Sean Perham — percussion; Zalmen Mlotek — piano. Andrew Wheeler is the associate music director. The production design team includes Yael Lubetzky (lighting); Izzy Fields (costumes); Jason Courson (scenic and projection design); Patrick Calhoun (sound design), and Colleen Lynch (props). The production stage manager is Eileen Haggerty. The Drama Desk-winning NYTF — now in its 103rd consecutive season (and its third at its new permanent home at the Museum of Jewish Heritage) — brings a rich cultural heritage to life on stage-one that was nearly destroyed some 75 years ago. NYTF was the associate producer of Broadway’s “Indecent,” winner of two Tony Awards including direction, which closed on August 6. Tickets, which are $35 to $60, are on sale now at www.nytf.org and by phone at 866-811-4111. For more information call the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at 212/213-2120, ext. 206, or visit www.nytf.org.

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23-Year-old Jewish Giant Proudly Displays Hebrew Heritage on Football Field – Breaking Israel News

Seek the favor of Hashem, and He will grant you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:5 (The Israel Bible) Jewish football player Adam Bisnowaty was drafted by the New York Giants in April. (Screenshot) Adam Bisnowaty has recently joined a very exclusive club: the Jewish football players league. Drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants in April, the 23-year-old NFL rookie, a veritable giant himself 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds is not shy about his Jewish and Israeli heritage, displaying a Biblical quote in Hebrew on his arm and talking openly about his religion. One of the first things I tell people is that Im Jewish, Bisnowaty told JTA in a recent interview, acknowledging his own rarity. People dont meet a lot of Jewish football players, so I always like to bring that out and just open up, so its nice and easy. And for anyone else who didnt know, theres his tattoo. Reported by the New York Post last month, the eye-catching ink of three Hebrew words making up one of Gods names comes from a verse in the Book of Exodus. Moshe said to Hashem, When I come to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is His name? what shall I say to them? And Hashem said to Moshe, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh. He continued, Thus shall you say to the Israelites, Ehyeh sent me to you. Exodus 3:13-14 Ehyeh-asher-ahyeh translates to, I am that I am. Bisnowaty calls it a statement for my life. I always wanted to symbolize something religiously as well as kind of relate back to who I am, so I thought it was the perfect thing, Bisnowaty told the Post of choosing his tattoo. Im really big on who I am and what I hold myself accountable for and kind of the way I live life. In the Torah, you have it related to God, its also the other aspect of being able to have something kinda higher than you. Bisnowaty, whose father is Israeli, grew up in a practicing Jewish family in Pittsburgh until his parents divorced when he was 12. He never had a bar mitzvah, the Jewish rite of passage into adulthood, for that reason, but he hopes to do so one day, preferably in Israel, which he visited once at age 8. The beefy offensive lineman still retains elements of cultural Judaism, including diet. He told the Post that while he is not religious, he doesnt eat pork, and hes always had matzah in the cupboard and matzah ball soup, potato pancakes, everything. Its just how I was raised and just love the food. His family celebrates the Jewish holidays, including Passover. Lighting Hanukkah candles, he said, is a must. Bisnowaty follows in the footsteps of a very few other Jewish football players. In terms of contemporaries, brothers Mitch and Geoff Schwartz, also offensive linemen, were both in the NBA from 2012 to 2016. Julian Edelman, who is not halachically (according to Jewish law) a member of the tribe but identifies as Jewish through his father, gained football fame during last years Super Bowl, when he helped his team, the New England Patriots, to victory with a miraculous catch. Over the decades, a number of Jewish football players have made it to the big leagues. In a top-10 lineup, the American Jewish Historical Society listed the best Jewish footballers last year in order of skill. Edelman came in fourth after Hall-of-Famers Side Luckman and Benny Friedman, both quarterbacks, and lineman Ron Mix.

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Temple Mount wrap up: Where religion, nationalism and politics keep colliding – GetReligion (blog)

While the commemoration ran from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, it’s not too late to tie Tisha BAv (literally, the ninth day of the Hebrew calendars month of Av) to the current state of affairs. You might want to refer to this handy Religion News Service Splainer.” I’m not qualified to speak definitively about just how the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif dispute breaks down along religious, nationalistic and political lines among ordinary Palestinians and other Muslims that support them — as opposed to the statements of Palestinian leaders who always stress religious claims in rallying global Muslim support. Suffice it to say that traditional Islam, far more than do contemporary Christianity or rabbinic Judaism (rabbinic, meaning post-Temple), makes little differentiation between the religious and political realms, and that for many Muslims living under undemocratic governments religion is the only outlet for political expression on any level. However, I do know enough about the Jewish side to suggest that reporters consider the following. For doctrinally non-Orthodox Jews who remain religiously connected to their heritage — I’m referring to members of Judaisms Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues, most of which are in North America — the Temple Mount is, doctrinally speaking, not so much a religious issues as it is a political one. What do I mean? Why might theologically liberal American Jews say the Temple Mount isn’t really an important religious issue for them? Because while Orthodox Jews continue to pray daily for construction of a third temple on the mount — not to mention restoration of the animal sacrifices that once occurred there — the liberal movements have largely removed such language from their prayers and, hence, their thinking. (A tip of the hat to Rabbi Philip Pohl of Annapolis, Maryland, for pointing this out to me, though any errors here are wholly mine.) When I say the Temple Mount is not a religious hot button for liberal Jews, I do not mean that control of the site is also of no importance to them. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict still resonates deeply for the majority of American Jews, even if they’re secular, and despite repeated surveys showing that support for Israeli government policies is continually dropping among liberal Jews. (The liberal Jewish denominations account for all but about 10 percent of all synagogue-aligned American Jews.) For these Jews, it’s about Jewish pride and tribal history, and perhaps most importantly, the memory of the Holocaust and the psychological safe space from anti-Semitic forces that Zionism promised, though that’s certainly not how it’s played out so far. Religion-beat scribes: If you interview liberal synagogue-affiliated Jews on the Temple Mounts significance to them, be sure to ask specifically whether the issue is political or nationalistic or simply religious for them. Remind them what their denominations say about this. I bet many won’t be clear on it This latest flare up over new Israeli security arrangements for the Jerusalem site ended in what appeared to most observers as a political defeat for Israel and, in particular, the current Israeli prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu. The Israeli press was highly critical of the Netanyahu government’s actions, and so was the general Israeli population, one TV poll found. Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim worlds considered Netanyahus removal of all the newly installed security technology a great victory. But as I said, it’s all another temporary state affairs, to be upended the next time violence intrudes on the site — as it almost surely will the next time Palestinian leadership senses the Israeli government is seeking to assert any new authority over what is considered Islams third holiest site, even if it’s a defensive move, as was the one that set off this latest uproar. This Wall Street Journal analysis lays out why creating upheaval on and around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif seems to work for the Palestinians. The writer often takes hardline right-wing positions on the conflict that I do not agree with, but I think hes nailed the main points in this piece. Stay tuned for the next turn of this exasperating screw. FIRST IMAGE: Artistic rendering of Herod’s Temple.

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America is helping Montenegro’s democracy mature – Washington Examiner

This week, Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Montenegro. His historic visit signals a new chapter not only in bilateral relations, but also strengthen the overall trans-Atlantic alliance. Most importantly, the visit will celebrate just how far the Montenegrin economy has come due in large part to quiet American leadership and a growing Montenegrin commitment to Western values. When 97 senators voted on March 28 to add Montenegro to NATO, a clear message was sent across the Atlantic. Senators made clear to this young multiparty parliamentary democracy, no bigger than a congressional district, that its years of painstaking judicial, economic, and military reforms were worth it. NATO is a military alliance. Much has been written about the Montenegrin military and the overall future of NATO. Sen. Marco Rubio alluded to the forgotten benefit of NATO enlargement in a floor speech before the vote, saying the “alliance helps advance our economic interests.” The vote, CODELs beforehand and, most certainly the VP’s trip all advance American economic interests. Indeed, the Preamble of the NATO Treaty articulates that the alliance was “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” Furthermore, Article 2 makes clear that members “will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration.” These NATO precepts are American values and have helped transform the American economy following World War II. According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Montenegro ranks significantly ahead of its neighbors, Croatia and Serbia. Indeed, the journey to NATO has fostered a commitment to free market and capitalist economic principles. In just 11 years of independence and only 25 years after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegrin officials have discovered the ingredients to a dynamic economy. These are a robust private sector engaged in international trade with a defined, but not burdensome, regulatory and legal framework. This is what Pence has championed throughout his entire career. The vice president will find a country that appreciates the importance of a strong private sector economy. Visitors from Washington matter. In November 2014, perhaps not coincidentally one month after the visit of Sen. Chris Murphy, the Montenegrin Parliament passed legislation to reform the judicial sector, including the establishment of a special prosecutor’s office for organized crime and an anti-corruption agency. Currently, the Montenegrin government has welcomed investors from 107 different countries. The high point of foreign direct investment, 2009, included over $1.2 billion of capital coming into this country of less than 650,000 residents. Last year, Norway remained the largest investor in private sector projects with $189M. American companies invested $5.6M in the economy in 2016. Surely, Pence’s trip will prompt additional American investment and tourist visits. The words of Prime Minister Dusko Markovic during his June visit to Washington ring true in the days leading up to the vice president’s trip, “This is a small day for the United States and its allies, but a great day for Montenegro.” It was American leadership which ended two ethnic wars in the region. It will be continued American government leadership and fostering of American values which will continue this positive momentum. In 1979, my family fled the brutality of Soviet Communism to celebrate our Jewish faith and embrace the freedoms of America. America has only grown stronger since the height of the Cold War by embracing the freedoms articulated by our Founding Fathers and the principles outlined by NATO. So too, can Montenegro grow stronger, as it aligns with America and shuns a past defined by despotism and government bureaucracy. Neil Emilfarb, a native of West Hartford, Connecticut, has lived and worked in Montenegro since 2006. He is CEO of Stratex Group which has developed and managed properties throughout Montenegro. If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions.

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12 Things To Do In August That Will Make You Just A Little More Jewish – Forward

Welcome to August: Youre tired of the heat. A chance to walk romantically through falling leaves maybe even while wearing a sweater, of all things is beginning to sound appealing, and youve suffered too many sunburns to be coaxed back to the pool. Never fear! With great new television premieres, music and theater festivals galore, and the opening of a thrilling new museum exhibit or two, you, too, can enjoy the end of your summer. Here are 12 ways to celebrate the month: 1. Sail away with Rodgers & Hammerstein. Lincoln Center Theaters production of The King and I went all-out, complete with sets so enchanting as to be almost alarming. Residents of Washington, D.C., who missed the productions New York run will have a chance to catch it at the Kennedy Center, where it will play through August 20. Then they, like their Manhattan fellows, can spend the next year getting Getting To Know You out of their heads. Getty Images/Walter McBride Harold Prince, both the subject and director of Prince of Broadway. 2. Pay homage to Broadways Prince. Producer and director Harold Prince has won 21 Tony Awards for shows as iconic as West Side Story, Sweeney Todd and The Phantom of the Opera. Come August, selections from the 34 works hes mounted on Broadway will appear together in Prince of Broadway, a musical making its American premiere on the Great White Way. If youre a sucker for show tunes, this is the extravaganza youve been waiting for especially as it features all-new arrangements of the famous songs Prince helped bring to the stage, courtesy of Jason Robert Brown, himself a three-time Tony winner. 3. Witness an unusual world premiere. The illustrator and writer Maria Kalman has won hearts for her inventive examinations of subjects ranging from the fictional canine poet named Max Stravinsky to a very adult experience of American democracy. At the Jacobs Pillow Dance festival, located, like Williamstown, in the Berkshires, witness the world premiere of John Heginbothams evening-length program based on Kalmans writing and art. Called The Principles of Uncertainty, the work will feature an original score by violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen of Brooklyn Rider and of the Silk Road Ensemble. 4. Unwind at Ravinia. Ravinia, a well-loved outdoor music venue in the northern suburbs of Chicago, plays host to an eclectic music festival each summer. This August the hits include an evening of works by the ever-morbid composer Gustav Mahler back-to-back with a performance by Gladys Knight. No matter how varied your tastes, we think youll find a match. 5. Listen to Gershwin under the California sky. The Los Angeles Philharmonics summer programming at the Hollywood Bowl is full of treats, from the dreamily conceived Gershwin Under the Stars to a guest appearance by violinist Joshua Bell, who will try his hand at Stravinsky. (No, not the dog.) An All-Mendelssohn program August 8 is also not to be missed. Getty Images/Theo Wargo Members of the cast of An American in Paris perform at the 2015 Tony Awards. 6. Speaking of Gershwin. Chicagoans, get whisked off to Paris! The Broadway production of the Gershwin-heavy An American in Paris arrived in the Windy City in late July and will depart come mid-August. Dont miss a chance to see the gorgeously choreographed musical, directed by ballet wunderkind Christopher Wheeldon, and tap your foot quietly to some classic tunes. As George and Ira Gershwin would say: S wonderful! S marvelous! 7. And speaking of Joshua Bell. Lincoln Centers Mostly Mozart Festival is an annual favorite, and Bell will appear there before heading to Hollywood, playing Brahms with cellist Steven Isserlis. Another festival highlight will be Gil Shahams take on Tchaikovskys Violin Concerto. Two Jewish violin dynamos in one month? Why not! 8. Seek the next great American playwright. Theres a strong tradition of great American Jewish playwrights to put it lightly from Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman to Tony Kushner and Annie Baker. Who will be next to join their ranks? Head to Williamstown, Massachusetts, where the annual Williamstown Theatre Festival often heralds great new work, to find out. The August lineup includes works by the young playwrights Halley Feiffer, represented by a new take on Anton Chekhovs Three Sisters, and Anna Ziegler, whose Actually is a contemporary take on privilege and morality. Wikimedia Commons/Israel National Photo Collection An image from the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann. 9. Experience Eichmanns trial. It doesnt officially open until September, but if youre a member or friend of Manhattans Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, get a sneak peek at the new exhibit Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann in August. The immersive exhibit, which includes newly declassified artifacts never previously exhibited outside Israel, re-creates the setting of the 1961 trial of the infamous Nazi official who oversaw the deportations of European Jews to concentration camps. 10. Engage in the religious life of early America. Before rounding the corner into the High Holidays, visit Washington, D.C.s National Museum of American History as it plays host to an exhibit on the religious life of the early United States. Jews were a tiny minority in the new country, but far from invisible; one of the objects in the exhibit will be a Torah scroll from Manhattans Spanish-Portuguese Congregation Shearith Israel, founded in 1654. 11. Head back to camp with old friends. Wet Hot American Summer, a classic early-2000s send-up of summer camp, received an unexpectedly delightful reboot in the 2015 Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Come August 4, the old gang, including Paul Rudds arrogant man-child, Elizabeth Bankss high-powered if ethically conflicted journalist, and Michael Showalters unlucky-in-love-and-hairstyles Coop, returns in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. Expect a talking can, deadpan humor and bad make-outs, and to laugh until you cry. 12. And get high with Abbi and Ilana. Craving 80s hairstyles, frank discussions of masturbation, merciless ridiculing of SoulCycle, screams of Yass and a genuinely enormous amount of marijuana? Hurray for you: Broad City is coming back. Follow the cringey-comedic exploits of aimless New York 20-somethings Abbi and Ilana when they return to Comedy Central on August 23.

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What Does It Take to ‘Assimilate’ in America? – New York Times

The pendulum between hope and fear continues to swing today. We are a country where people of all backgrounds, all nations of origin, all languages, all religions, all races, can make a home, Hillary Clinton told an immigrant-advocacy conference in New York in 2015. By contrast, Donald Trump warned on the campaign trail that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Last November, one of these visions of assimilation won out. Immigrants contribute to America in a million different ways, from growing the food on our tables to creating the technologies we use every day. They commit far fewer crimes than native-born citizens. But hardly a week goes by when poor assimilation isnt blamed for offenses involving immigrants and the entire project of immigration called into question. In Michigan, an Indian-American emergency-room doctor who belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shiite Muslim sect, was charged with performing female genital mutilation on several young girls. In Minnesota, a black police officer, the first Somali-American cop in his precinct, shot an unarmed Australian woman. Both incidents were immediately seized upon by the far right as examples of the inability or refusal of Muslims to assimilate. So far this year, American police officers have killed more than 500 people, but for the commentator Ann Coulter, the shooting in Minnesota would never have happened in Australia because they have fewer than 10k Somalis. We have > 100k. Earlier this month, the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson ran a segment in which he said citizens of a small town in Pennsylvania claimed that several dozen Roma who had been resettled there defecate in public, chop the heads off chickens, leave trash everywhere. (The police said they issued citations where relevant.) The group doesnt seem at all interested in integrating, Carlson complained. You have to assume its a statement. One reason immigration is continuously debated in America is that there is no consensus on whether assimilation should be about national principles or national identity. Those who believe that assimilation is a matter of principle emphasize a belief in the Constitution and the rule of law; in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and in a strong work ethic and equality. Where necessary, they support policy changes to further deter any cultural customs that defy those values. For example, Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, signed a new law that increases existing penalties for anyone who performs female genital mutilation on a minor. But for those who believe that assimilation is a matter of identity as many on the far right do nothing short of the abandonment of all traces of your heritage will do. The alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, an immigrant himself, told a campus group in January that the hijab is not something that should ever be seen on American women. The perception that visible signs of religious identity are indicators of deep and sinister splits in society can lead to rabid fears of wholly imaginary threats. Several states have passed anti-Shariah measures, in fear that Muslims will seek to impose their own religious laws on unsuspecting Americans. The fact that Muslims make up 1 percent of the U.S. population and that such an agenda is both a statistical and a Constitutional impossibility has done nothing to temper this fear. It is no longer a fringe belief: The white nationalist Richard Spencer told a reporter that he once bonded with Stephen Miller, now a senior White House adviser, over concerns that immigrants from non-European countries were not assimilating. Debates about assimilation are different from debates about undocumented immigration, even though they are often mixed together. Concerns about undocumented immigration typically center on competition for jobs or the use of public resources, but complaints about assimilation are mostly about identity a nebulous mix of race, religion and language. In May, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that white working-class voters were 3.5 times more likely to support Donald Trump if they reported feeling like a stranger in their own land. My seatmate on that airplane was a small-business owner, yet he did not seem worried about Korean-Americans taking business away from him; he seemed more aggrieved that their children studied two languages, or that his community featured store signs and church marquees in an alphabet he could not read. Others might object to their neighbors wearing skullcaps, or eating fermented duck eggs, or listening to Tejano music and call these concerns about assimilation, too. It should be clear by now that assimilation is primarily about power. In Morocco, where I was born, I never heard members of Parliament express outrage that French immigrants or expats, as they might call themselves eat pork, drink wine or have extramarital sex, in plain contradiction of local norms. If they do adopt the countrys customs or speak its language, they arent said to have assimilated but to have gone native. In France, by contrast, politicians regularly lament that people descended from North African immigrants choose halal food options for school lunches or want to attend classes in head scarves. One result is a daily experience of rejection, which only makes assimilation more difficult. America is different from Europe in one significant way: It has a long and successful history of integrating its immigrants, even if each new generation thinks that the challenges it faces are unique and unprecedented. It is a nation in which people will wear green on St. Patricks Day without thinking much about the periods during which the Irish were accused of contaminating the nation with their foreign habits. Because there is no objective measure of assimilation, many people end up throwing up their hands and saying, I know it when I see it. The question is: Who is doing the judging here? Laila Lalami is the author, most recently, of The Moors Account, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week. A version of this article appears in print on August 6, 2017, on Page MM11 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Blending In.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Jewish American Heritage Month

Posted By simmons on August 2, 2017 NEW YORK Ikeda Yataros body was cremated today. May his soul be forever damned. The flames claimed his corpse and his roses all that was left of the man. So opens Torture by Rose, the first story in Orlando Ortega-Medinas debut short story collection Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions. Set in present-day Tokyo, it tells the story of Ikeda Yataro, a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts who offers a talented university student the chance to become his sole heir. There are three conditions and should the student violate even one, they would forfeit the inheritance. The student agrees, but soon finds the price too much to bear. But dont expect a morality lesson from the Jewish author. The stories in the book come from below my consciousness. They are to entertain and not leave any kind of message. I think the interesting thing is how people read the stories and what they take away tells a lot about the people reading them. I dont mind what people come up with as long as they were moved by the story, Ortega-Medina said, speaking with The Times of Israel from London. In all, 13 tales lie between the covers of the book and, like Torture by Rose, they are not spun from sweetness and light. Rather, the darkly humorous stories are occasionally violent, often uncomfortable, and always populated with characters on a quest to find their place in the world. Its a quest reflective of the 49-year-old authors own search for identity. With my more exotic background, I always felt I had an excess of identity I grew up in a fairly homogeneous white Anglo-Saxon neighborhood. With my more exotic background, I always felt I had an excess of identity. I always found I had to be distinguishing myself. I was always having to clarify who I was, to navigate the different strands of my background, said the Los Angeles-born author who is of Judeo-Spanish descent via Cuba. The work was inspired by four periods of travel in his life: California, Quebec, Israel and Japan. Ortega-Medina said the Israel stories are the most biographical of the whole collection and are firmly rooted in his experiences and the time he spent searching for himself there. Both of Ortega-Medinas parents were born in Cuba, his fathers family originally from Florida, his mothers family from the Canary Islands. The couple left during the political upheavals of the 1950s. Along with their belongings they packed the hope they would someday return to Cuba. Illustrative: An Israeli flag hangs on the wall of the Jewish Community Center in Havana, Cuba. (Serge Attal/Flash90) Growing up with their wish hovering in the corners of his house, coupled with the fact that his parents were not affiliated with any religious denomination, further set the young Ortega-Medina looking for his place in the world. In a way I found myself searching for identity in my own household. I wasnt accepting the idea that wed move back to Cuba. When I was 13 I had a deep interest in my religious heritage. My grandmother was visiting and when I came downstairs she presented me with a kippa and said Its really sad youre not a Bar Mitzvah, he said. Jerusalem Ablaze by Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy) His grandmother sent him to Israel after he graduated high school, and he also turned to Chabad and the Conservative movement for guidance and spiritual fulfillment. An Israel State of Mind is perhaps the most biographical story in the collection. In it a recent high school graduate from Southern California arrives in Israel to spend a year working on a kibbutz. He hopes to rid himself of his desires; instead he is reunited with the man he loves. And by the time the sherut [shared taxi] approached the imposing gates of Kfar Vered, Marc was beginning to feel more optimistic about the whole thing. Perhaps having a good time here at Kfar Vered and connecting with his Jewish heritage were not mutually exclusive propositions, writes Ortega-Medina in the story. The character Marc is the closest to an alter ego I have. I do work out some personal things through him, he said. He has long turned to words to work out his own search for self. In elementary school he penned several science fiction, time-travel comic books for himself and a few select friends. He wrote a novel that he set aside, and even tried his hand at a screenplay or two. Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina at the West London Synagogue. (Clare Allen/Courtesy) Jerusalem Ablaze has so far received high marks. Kirkus Reviews described his prose as elegant and potent throughout, with visceral passages bathed in lyricism. And the Irish News wrote the book is beautifully wrought, deeply unnerving Ortega-Medina holds a mirror up to our darkest thoughts and urges while showing the oneness of the human condition. With the positive reviews rolling in Ortega-Medina imagined hosting a dinner for the writers who inspired him. Id surround with Yukio Mishima, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, John Fowles and Anthony Burgess, and wed discuss writing over a glass, or three, of wine Id surround with Yukio Mishima, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, John Fowles and Anthony Burgess, and wed discuss writing over a glass, or three, of wine. No, make that champagne, he said. In fact, Torture by Rose is an homage to Mishimas story Swaddling clothes. It left a lot of questions for me and I answered them in my story. Ortega-Medina studied English Literature at UCLA and then earned a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law. While there he won The National Society of Arts and Letters award for Short Stories. In 1999 Ortega-Medina moved to Canada with his life partner to protest discriminatory policies in the US against same-sex couples, running his San Francisco law practice from Toronto. He and his partner were among the first same-sex couples to marry at Montreals Hotel de Ville in 2005. One of the things we really enjoyed when we moved to Canada was that as a couple we were a non-issue. It was more than acceptance; it was as if us being a couple was a non-issue, he said. Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy) After four years in Canada his partner, who hails from a tropical country, broke the news: he was done the nearly six-month-long Canadian winters. Fortunately, an opportunity arose in the UK and the couple moved to London. With US, Canadian and British citizenship, Ortega-Medina works as an immigration and consular attorney in London, and is managing director of a US corporate immigration practice there. While the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage throughout the nation in 2015, Ortega-Medina said he has no plans to return there. He described his life in London with his husband as quite settled. We live a stones throw from Kensington Palace and we can literally wave to the royal family as they drive by. For a lot of people the civil ceremony would have been enough. Standing under a chuppah was an important milestone for us Several years ago he and his partner married in a religious ceremony at the West London Synagogue, where they belong and are quite active. For a lot of people the civil ceremony would have been enough. Standing under a chuppah was an important milestone for us, he said. Many of the stories in Jerusalem Ablaze explore lifes imperfections and the fragility of the world. These are themes that come from a somewhat overprotective mother, he said. My mother was always very nervous. She worried about whether we would catch a cold and die, or be run over by a car. She worried that anything could happen to us. It made me a bit more daring, a bit more of a risk taker, he said. My leaving the US for Canada to reinvent myself and then again to the UK where we didnt know anybody was risky. And in my writing I take risks. Jerusalem Ablaze author, Orlando Ortega-Medina. (Courtesy) Go here to see the original: Literary world fired up over debut short story collection by gay immigration lawyer The Times of Israel Category: Jewish Heritage Month | Comments Off on Literary world fired up over debut short story collection by gay immigration lawyer The Times of Israel Tags:

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July 28, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Why Jews Need To Fight Trump On Voting Rights 53 Years After ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murders – Forward

(JTA) Andrew GoodmanandMichael Schwernerare about the closest American Jews have to secular saints. The two Jewish civil rights workers traveled south for the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, joining the African-American activist James Chaney in canvassing black churches. All three were kidnapped and murdered by a lynch mob. Forty-three years ago next Friday, Aug. 4, their bullet-riddled bodies were found buried in a dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi, 44 days after their disappearance. The hagiographies of the two Jewish men, both in their 20s, sometimes overlook the specific purpose of their trip to the Jim Crow South: registering African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. Freedom Summer was meant to directly confrontefforts, legal and otherwise, to prevent blacks from voting: poll taxes and literacy tests, fear and intimidation, and as Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney found out, beatings and lynchings. As the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, described the mission, the inability to vote was only one of many problems blacks encountered in the racist society around them, but the civil-rights officials who decided to zero in on voter registration understood its crucial significance as well the white supremacists did. An African American voting bloc would be able to effect social and political change. It was the unfinished business of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney that animated 24 faith groups, 17 of them Jewish, to write a letter to Congress urging lawmakers not to fund the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity the Orwellian name for President Donald Trumps effort to hunt down those 3 million illegal ballots that he claims illicitly cost him the popular vote. Thats Trumps agenda, anyway. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other commission members say they merely want to gauge the extent of the problem and propose remedies. Kobach has already signaled the kinds of remedies he has in mind: imposing strict voter identificationlaws; removing names from voter rolls perhaps using inaccurate or unreliable databases; identifying potential duplicate registration records that use a notoriously misleading instrument; or just failing to enforce existing laws that have expanded individuals right to vote. Sure, such remedies might end up suppressing the votes of poor people, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly (and, what do you know, Democrats) in fact, nearly all reliable studies and multiplecourt cases say they will. But, according to Kobach and company, thats the price to be paid for, well, integrity. The voting commission is a solution in search of a problem. Voting by non-citizens isvanishingly rare. Trumps claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 elections were baseless, as the faith coalition notes. There are no reputable studies to suggest that U.S. elections have been compromised by fraudulent voting by undocumented immigrants, felons, double voters or dead voters. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a Voter Fraud Database it says shows incontrovertible evidence that voter fraud is a real and pressing issue, lists only1,071 instances of voter fraud going back to 1981. Americans have cast over 1 billion votes during that period in presidential elections alone. Rather than pointing to evidence that suggests otherwise because it cant the administration offers something else: doubt.We may never know if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election, Kobach told MSNBC.Responding to reports that more than 40 states rejected intrusive requests for massive amounts of data on its voters, Trump said this month, If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what theyre worried about. The assumption of the commission is that voter fraud is real and widespread; the onus is on everyone else to prove it isnt. Late-night comics giggle at Trumps propensity for creating alternative realities, whether it was his campaign claim that America was experiencing an unprecedented crime wave or this weeks tweetssaying that transgender service members are a financial drain on the military. Fitting this pattern is his and his teams ongoing refusal to accept the conclusion by the top four intelligence agencies that Russian interference in the 2016 election was real and significant. On Monday, top presidential adviser Jared Kushner emerged from his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to declare that accusations of Russian meddling and administration collusion with the Russians are an insult to Trumps voters. Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won, Kushner said. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him. In other words: No matter what the CIA, FBI and National Security Council tell us, Russian interference in the presidential election is a non-issue. But the unfounded reports of voter fraud are worth a federally funded commission. Unlike the talk show hosts, civil rights activists and other fans of representative democracy arent laughing. Taxpayer funds should go towards efforts to encourage voter participation, the faith coalition said in its letter, rather than a commission intended to restrict voting rights. Some have memories of how hard Jews fought alongside blacks to secure voting rights. Others believe, as the coalition put it, that their religion teaches them to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people especially the sacred right to vote. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a federal lawsuit calling the presidents election commission a pretext for the suppression of black and Latino voters. Obviously this is a calamity for Democrats, who already are seeing evidence that laws making it harder to vote are having a disproportionate effect on their constituents. But this should also be an issue for Jews who support the president and wish he would get on with the business of addressing actual problems, from infrastructure to job creation to regulatory overreach. Theres been a debate over the years about whether or not Goodman and Schwerner were part of the Jewish story. At a big Jewish conference a number of years ago, I heard the head of what is now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs declare, When Goodman and Schwerner went south for Freedom Summer, they were doing Jewish! Others questioned then, and still question today, why so many Jewish activists pursue universalist causes in the name of tikkun olam rather than working on issues that will specifically benefit Israel or their fellow Jews. Goodman and Schwerner were of a generation that did not distinguish between policies that were good for them and those that were good for us. Jews were only just emerging from decades in which discrimination against them was both legal and tolerated. They knew that rights won slowly could be taken away quickly, and that if any minority was at risk, then all minorities were at risk. The organizations that backed Freedom Summer understood the power of coalitions in pursuing their own particularist agendas. You can call it enlightened self-interest, but maybe thats just another name for tikkun olam. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Aide Is Arrested (Photos) – Opposing Views

Opposing Views Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Aide Is Arrested (Photos) Opposing Views Wasserman Schultz introduced a resolution, which passed the House of Representatives and called on the President to declare an annual Jewish American Heritage Month ,” notes her webpage on the congressional website. “The President subsequently did … EXCLUSIVE: FBI Seized Smashed Hard Drives From Wasserman Schultz IT Aide's Home The Daily Caller Wasserman Schultz aide arrested trying to leave the country Politico Feds arrest IT staffer for Wasserman Schultz trying to leave country | Fox News Fox News Politico  – The Daily Caller all 139 news articles »

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


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