Archive for the ‘Jewish’ Category

Jewish Republicans reject Trump’s take on Charlottesville violence – Politico

President Donald Trump addresses the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. Following the president’s remarks on violence in Charlottesville, AIPAC urged officials to “reject moral equivalence.” | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Jewish Republicans rejected Donald Trumps comments in response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, but it doesnt appear the president is facing further consequences from the small but vital GOP constituency over what they saw as a failure to adequately denounce crowds that shouted anti-Semitic chants and hoisted Nazi flags last weekend.

The Republican Jewish Coalition in a statement called for Trump to show greater leadership after he seemed Tuesday to equate neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan demonstrators with those protesting them. Matt Brooks, executive director of the RJC, would not say whether members plan any further steps to warn the president.

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“People are scared and frightened and disgusted by the events of Charlottesville,” Brooks told POLITICO on Thursday. “It’s incredible in this time and place in our American history that we’re dealing with the scourge of vile neo-Nazis and white supremacists. It’s just intolerable.”

Brooks also would not disclose any conversations with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who sits on the RJC’s board but has not personally weighed in.

Still, some Republican strategists are nervous about turning off a group that regularly votes, raises money and donates to candidates. Trumps daughter Ivanka and her family are Jewish, as are several of the presidents top aides. But his statement that there were very fine people amid those protesting the planned removal of a Confederate statue who chanted, among other things, Jews will not replace us shocked supporters and critics alike.

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“Getting this right is life and death for the Republican Party. You can’t have a Republican Party that people believe is a racist party,” said Rick Tyler, a Trump critic and former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz, who aggressively courted Republican Jews in his own 2016 presidential bid. “The Republican Jewish community provides a lot of support for the Republican Party, particularly financial support.”

The RJC which asked Trump to provide greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry, and antisemitism was more direct than the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which issued a statement Thursday urging all elected officials to reject moral equivalence between those who promote hate and those who oppose it.

But AIPACs statement was nonetheless a striking rebuke given the groups past praise of Trumps hawkish stance on Israel and as-yet-unfulfilled vow to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, called on “White Supremacists, the KKK, neo-Nazis and all groups that preach hate” to be “explicitly condemned.” The other, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, followed Trump in placing blame on both sides for violence that culminated in the death of a woman after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

But Zeldin added: “These two sides are not equal. They are different.”

Nonpartisan Jewish groups, like the Anti-Defamation League, have been more direct in criticizing Trump’s rhetoric.

It’s not the first time Trump has angered the American Jewish community. Many were baffled and offended when his White House put out a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of the Jews who were killed.

Fred Zeidman, a member of the RJC board of directors and a former George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, praised his group’s leadership for taking a stand after the Charlottesville violence.

“We know the issues that evolve from remaining silent, and we can’t remain silent,” he told POLITICO on Thursday. “We know what happens when we remain silent.”

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Jewish Republicans reject Trump’s take on Charlottesville violence – Politico

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Why do white supremacists hate Jews? Because we can fight them. – Chicago Tribune

Anti-Semitism is again back in the news.

Some of the posters at the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist demonstrations this past weekend featured a man taking a hammer to a Star of David the biggest threat, the thing that needs to be destroyed. Marchers chanted, Jews will not replace us and Blood and soil! a direct translation of the Nazi slogan blut und boden, which plays on the notion of Jews as powerful, dangerous interlopers.

This comes toward the end of a summer that included the Chicago Dyke March ejecting participants with a Star of David on a gay pride flag on the misguided-at-best grounds that it went against the marchs anti-racist core values and heated debates about whether Gal Gadot, an Ashkenazi Israeli, is a person of color. Particularly in recent years, there has rightfully been increased talk about the ways in which many Ashkenazi Jews in America do have white privilege.

So are we oppressed? Or what? The reasons that question may feel complicated go back around a thousand years. Since the dawn of modern anti-Semitism, hatred toward Jews has been deeply intertwined with the idea of Jews having unique sorts of advantages.

In the Middle Ages, Jews were barred from many trades and professions, and it was sometimes illegal for Jews to own land. It was convenient for local authorities to permit Jews to work in trades that were repugnant to Christians most notably money-lending, which was associated in the Christian world with depravity and sin.

From a Jewish perspective, money-lending was a useful line of work for two reasons. First, it was somewhat portable, and when times were lucky it enabled our ancestors to have liquid assets both of which were practical during an era when expulsions of Jews from villages and even whole countries were not uncommon. It was also profitable. Most late medieval and early modern European polities taxed Jews at jaw-droppingly high rates, so loaning out money was essential for communities survival. A very small subset of Jews began handling money because it was a viable option and a practical necessity. And then they were resented for it and identified with the work in a way that Christian bankers never were. Even as early as 1233, anti-Semitic drawings depicted the usurious Jew, using many of the same themes one might find in a quick Google search.

Most Jews throughout history lived a fairly precarious existence, economically and otherwise. Many times in history we have been tolerated, and even embraced, by the rulers and locals of our host country. But we have also been subject to expulsions, pogroms, inquisitions and genocide many times over often, indeed, fueled by the trope of the greedy, crooked Jew serving as the scapegoat for other stresses and complexities in society. Often, the shift from living in peace to the bottom dropping out happened very quickly.

So here’s the paradox: Anti-Semitism and Jewish privilege are, and have long been, two sides of the same coin. Even now, I feel it keenly.

On the one hand, Jews as a category are thus far shielded from the state violence that a lot of other groups are experiencing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not seeking us out as a group; we are not being barred from the military or being singled out in a travel ban. Although of course there are Jews of all levels of economic security in this country, American Jews as a collective do have a lot more social and cultural capital than many other groups, and we are not as vulnerable as other communities under attack. The reasons are various; a big one, though, is that many American Jews’ families have been established here for a century or more and, over that time, Ashkenazi Jews were able to assimilate into the broader culture and become white.

Yet at the same time, anti-Semitism is functioning as it has for centuries. President Donald Trumps attacks on Soros globalists, White House adviser Stephen Millers claim that a reporter had cosmopolitan bias (a phrase that has longtime anti-Semitic connotations despite Miller’s own Jewish origins), the Star of David superimposed on money in the infamous Trump tweet last year, the dog whistles in the Trump’s final campaign ad and the posters and chants in Charlottesville all depend on a centuries-old, manufactured narrative of Jews as wealthy, powerful and in control. As this rhetoric gets louder, were seeing more targeted hate: Jewish graveyards have been vandalized at least five times this year, and the Holocaust Memorial in Boston was smashed for the second time this summer on Monday.

That shift from relative peace to something else can happen so quickly in the blink of an eye. Some members of the Jewish community are feeling our centuries-deep intergenerational trauma keenly, experiencing this era as nothing short of terrifying, with memories of pogrom torches and swastika flags looming large.

But this isnt the time to hunker down. Its the time to stand up. I, for one, have advantages that my ancestors in Europe never dreamed of, and this includes the social capital to fight bigotry with full force and power. We as a community have an obligation to stand up for those who are more vulnerable to both institutional and random attacks, as well as the powerful image of an 89-year-old woman photographed on Sunday in New York holding a sign that said: I escaped the Nazis once. You will not defeat me now.

The Washington Post

Danya Ruttenberg, of Evanston, is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah, a Jewish service corps, and author of Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting.

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Why do white supremacists hate Jews? Because we can fight them. – Chicago Tribune

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Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor – Intermountain Jewish News

Michael Signer speaks on Meet the Press, Aug. 14, 2017.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Michael Signer, the Jewish mayor of Charlottesville, has one thing in common with the white supremacists who descended on his southern Virginia city over the weekend: He also opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Of course, Signers reasons for preserving the statue would have appalled the supremacists: He agreed with local African-American activists who had argued that preserving the statue was a means of teaching Virginians about the horrors of a dishonorablecause, the Confederacy.

Signer was on the losing side of a 3-2 City Council decision, and the statue is now slated for removal. But his approach has also been evident in his counsel during the rash of protests that have plagued this city: Dont take the bait, he has said.

In giving that advice, Signer has noted that for the first time in his life, he has been the target of intense baiting as a Jew.

I cant see the world through a black persons eyes, he said at a June 13 address at an African-American church, where he urged constituents not to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred.

I can see it through a Jewish persons eyes; the KKK hates Jews just as much as they hate black people. The stuff with this group online about Jews is unbelievable, bloodcurdling. The stuff Ive gotten on my phone at my house, youd think it was done a hundred years ago.

Signer, 44, a practicing lawyer in Charlottesville, also lectures on politics and leadership at the University of Virginia, his law school alma mater. His wife, Emily Blout, is an Iran scholar at the same university, which is located here.

An Arlington native, Signer is the child of journalists, but in his authors autobiography sounds like many other younger liberal Jews who note with pride their grandparents working class and intellectual roots:

My grandfather was a Jeep mechanic for the Army on the European front in WW II and lifetime member of the proofreaders union at The New York Times; he lost part of a finger in an industrial accident as a young man, he wrote.

My grandmother organized seamstresses on her factory floor in New York City and later worked as a secretary to Hannah Arendt at the New School.

In a January speech declaring Charlottesville a capital of the resistance, Signer described his grandfather as a Jewish kid raised in the Bronx who was part of the forces that liberated the world from Nazism and fascism, that laid the groundwork for NATO and the Marshall Plan, and for a country that lived up to the promises of the Statue of Liberty . . .

If he were alive right now, I dont think I could look him in the face and say Grandpa, I didnt fight for the values you fought for.

Before becoming mayor, Signer was known both for his activism in the senior reaches of the Democratic Party he was national security adviser for John Edwards 2008 primary campaign as well as his expertise on a subject that has received much attention recently, demagoguery. He published a book in 2009, Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies.

The book examines successful demagogues left and right. Sen. Joe McCarthy, the 1950s anti-communist firebrand who plagued the American discourse, and Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman and leftist, both come under scrutiny. In December, 2015, before the presidential primaries, Signer predicted that Donald Trump could become a singular menace to our Republic.

Paraphrasing James Fenimore Cooper, Signer wrote then that Trump met all four criteria of an American demagogue: they posture as men of the common people; they trigger waves of powerful emotion; they manipulate this emotion for political benefit; and they threaten or break established principles of governance.

Signer last weekend squarely blamed Trump for stoking the populist white nationalist fervor that culminated in the violence that took the life of one counter-protester, injured dozens of others and led to the death of two state troopers in a helicopter crash.

The rally included Nazi flags, chants of Jews will not replace us, and shouts of Jew every time a speaker mentioned Signers name.

Look at the campaign he ran, the mayor said on CNN.

Signer elaborated on NBCs Meet the Press, saying of Trump, I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to peoples prejudices, to go to the gutter.

Signers tactic has been to organize countering events that celebrate Charlottesvilles diversity, prompting Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow at the ADLs Center on Extremism, to say on Twitter that Signer gets it.

Speaking in May on State of Belief, a radio show produced by the Interfaith Alliance, Signer said it was more productive to focus on the victim than the perpetrator.

Youre trying to ease the pain of someone whos been afflicted rather than focus on the harasser, he said.

He also described the unfamiliar sensation of being in the position of the afflicted, barraged as he was with online assaults from anti-Semites as the Lee statue issue was put before the council.

One tweet, from the account of someone calling themselves Great Patriot Trump, read I smell Jew. If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.

The wave of anti-Semitic attacks Ive seen in the last week, its been a new experience for me, Ive never seen that before, Signer said.

Some of the nightmare historical tropes I thought had been retired after WW II had returned as more disturbing mash-ups of politics today and anti-Semitism.

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City of Graveyards: The Demise of Jewish Newark – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Routledge Publishers

It is a story that should serve as the ultimate cautionary tale for any Jewish community tempted to mistake a period of vibrancy for a guarantee of immortality.

The story is that of the Jews of Newark, New Jersey, who at the midpoint mark of the 20th century had on their side numbers and history and carefully nurtured social, religious and cultural institutions but for whom communal desolation awaited and whose legions of rabbis, businessmen, philanthropists and activists could not, in the end, stave off the deluge.

Curiously, to date there has been just one comprehensive account of the rise and demise of Newark Jewry sociologist William Helmreichs The Enduring Community: The Jews of Newark and MetroWest (Routledge, 1998), a book that is at once meticulously researched, carefully documented and eminently readable as it transports readers to the fields and roads and streets of Newark as it evolves from farmland to village to city.

(The MetroWest in the title refers to the name appropriated by the Federation to represent the municipalities in the general vicinity of Newark to which generations of Newark Jews migrated.)

In Helmreichs well-crafted narrative the sounds, sights and smells of Newarks long-dead Jewish districts come alive: the pushcarts of Prince Street giving way to the bustle of Springfield Avenue and the cash registers ringing up sales at such downtown emporia as Bambergers, Hahnes, Kresges and S. Kleins; ornate synagogues and humbler street-corner shuls marking the movement of Newarks Jews from the Canal Street area to the Central Ward to the leafy neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Weequahic; bakeries, candy stores and luncheonettes all along Bergen Street and Chancellor Avenue; local fixtures like Beth Israel Hospital, the Newark Museum, the Newark Public Library and the YMHA all first rate and all contributing a cosmopolitan ambience to a city that, in terms of sheer physical size, was actually rather small.

But even in Jewish Newarks heyday, a golden age that would stretch, roughly, from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s, social and political forces the decline of the citys once thriving banking, insurance and smokestack industries; the movement of upwardly mobile Jews to suburbia; the steady growth of a black underclass were at work that would, in time, spell catastrophe.

* * * * *

Newarks first Jews were Sephardim, but they were few and unorganized. It wasnt until the 1840s, and the first stages of the mass immigration of German Jews to America, that a definable Jewish presence established itself in Newark, a city in the midst of rapid change.

The former backwater of dirt roads and family farms was fast becoming a center of industry and commerce; in 1870 the citys population stood at better than 100,000 and two years later an estimated 130,000 visitors attended the Newark Industrial Exposition.

Jews from Eastern Europe began arriving in the U.S. in the 1880s. In Newark, as in New York City, there were important religious and cultural differences between the newcomers and the already-settled German Jews, who in many respects seemed more comfortable with their non-Jewish German neighbors than with their brethren from Russia and Poland.

In Newark, writes Helmreich, the relationships between [Eastern European and German Jews] were even more tense than elsewhere because Newark was small enough for people to know each other. For example, the German-Jewish and East European synagogues were located within walking distance of each other. Newark was small enough for youngsters to know which summer camps were for German Jews and which were not, just as their parents knew which country clubs accepted Eastern Europeans and which did not.

The prejudice against Eastern Europeans first showed signs of weakening during the 1920s. By the 1940s, with the Holocaust raging in Europe, it would be reduced to a negligible aspect of Jewish life in Newark, though even then it would not be entirely eradicated.

Meanwhile, the Jewish population of Newark had already topped 45,000 by the mid-1920s more than half that number of Eastern European background. The 1920s were notable in other ways as well: the Conference of Jewish Charities was formed in 1923, giving Newarks Jews a central communal organization and Newark Beth Israel Hospital, which had been founded in 1901, moved in 1929 to its permanent Lyons Avenue location. (Little-known fact: Paula Ben-Gurion, wife of Israels first prime minister, was a trainee at Beth Israels school of nursing).

* * * * *

The growth of Newark Jewrys influence and prestige continued unabated over the next couple of decades the city elected its first (and only) Jewish mayor, Meyer Doc Ellenstein, in 1932 and reached full bloom in the 1940s.

With about 60,000 Jews (or about 12 percent of the citys total population) living in Newark proper, and thousands more in Greater Newark the nearby towns of Irvington, Hillside, Maplewood, the Oranges, Bloomfield, Millburn and Verona the community appeared set for continued growth and success.

Indeed, as Rutgers history professor Clement Alexander Price observes in a 1994 paper for the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest, despite its pockets of poverty and the divisions between the Orthodox and Reform and political conservatives and radicals, Newarks Jewish community became by the end of World War II one of the citys most vibrant entities. It was, in short, emblematic of the ethnic success story.

By the end of World War II, Newarks Jews, having emerged unscathed from sporadic confrontations with local Nazis and Nazi sympathizers found among the large German population of Newark and next-door Irvington a little-remembered tale told with flair by Warren Grover in Nazis in Newark (Transaction, 2003) were more confident than ever, more secure in their status as Americans, more comfortable than they probably ever expected to be.

The center of Jewish gravity at mid-century was the citys Weequahic section, made famous by native son Philip Roth, whose body of work reflects an ambivalence about Judaism and Jewish identity but none about the singular experience of growing up Jewish in Newark. (Roth was one of many prominent American Jews born and/or raised in Newark; some others were Fanny Brice, Ed Koch, Jerry Lewis and Dore Schary.)

Roths conflicted feelings about religion and ethnicity were typical of a generation of American Jews squarely on the fast track to secularization and assimilation. Even so, Newarks Jewish community had a rich religious tradition going back to the citys first three synagogues Bnai Jeshurun (founded in 1848), Bnai Abraham (1855) and Oheb Shalom (1860). All three started out as traditional or Orthodox congregations but each eventually fell away from strict observance.

Over the years Newark was home to a surprisingly large number of prominent rabbis from the three major denominations. (By 1948 there were at least 40 synagogues in the city.) The most widely recognized Reform leader, certainly on a national scale, was Joachim Prinz, who arrived at Bnai Abraham from Germany in 1939 and became a major figure in Jewish organizational life and the civil rights movement.

The Orthodox community was well represented by rabbis such as Hyman Brodsky (his synagogue, Congregation Anshei Russia, was one of Newarks most important); Joseph Konvitz (Brodskys successor); Chaim Glatzer; Mordechai Ehrenkrantz; Jacob Mendelson; Elias Singer; David Singer; Israel Turner; Herman Kahn; Zundel Levine; Louis Weller; Meyer Blumenfeld; the Pittsburgher Rebbe, Avrohom Abba Leifer; Oscar Kline; Zev Segal; Moshe Kasinetz; and Sholom Ber Gordon (a major influence on a young Newark resident who decades later would go on to help make ArtScroll an enormous success story Rabbi Nosson Scherman).

Newarks Orthodox community was a lenient one, Helmreich told this writer in an interview about the book.

In fact, he explained, Newark offers us a very clear understanding of a typical mid-20th century American Orthodox community. What makes it particularly unique is that when American Orthodoxy began its steadily rightward drift, Jewish Newark was already in its decline. And by the time the new, stricter climate had become the norm even in Modern Orthodox circles, Newarks Jewish community had, for all intents and purposes, passed from the scene.

The result is that scholars and researchers can look at Newarks Orthodox community as a specimen frozen in time a community that ceased to exist before it had the chance to change in the manner of other similar communities.

It was a more tolerant Orthodoxy, Helmreich said. The rabbis were willing to work with non-Orthodox leaders for the greater good of the community. There was a greater acceptance of differences. People didnt march in lockstep there were disagreements even on such matters as day-school education.

Helmreich notes in his book that in 1932 a Reform rabbi, Marius Ranson, was invited to address the Yong Israel Sisterhood. Not only was Ranson Reform, writes Helmreich, but he was in the left wing of his movement. People were not permitted to wear a yarmulke or tallis in his temple. Imagine a Young Israel synagogue today tendering an invitation to such a rabbi!

Citing yet another example of changing times, Helmreich told me that as unbelievable as it may sound today, there were Orthodox rabbis back in the 1940s who opposed the formation of what became Newarks most successful day school, Hebrew Youth Academy.

It was a totally different climate and an almost unrecognizable mindset.

* * * * *

The end of Jewish Newark is described by Helmreich in all its sad detail. He makes a point of stressing that, in a larger sense, Jewish Newark had begun its inexorable decline decades before, with a steady stream of Jews slowly making their way out of the city and into the surrounding suburbs.

But it was the escalating tensions between Jews and blacks that added a sense of urgency to Jewish flight. Helmreich is remarkably fair in apportioning blame for the demise of the Jewish community and doesnt hesitate to address such uncomfortable questions as Jewish racism on the one hand and the acquiescence of Jews in the takeover of their neighborhoods on the other.

The racism touched on by Helmreich may come as something of an unpleasant surprise to some the American Jewish community, in Newark and elsewhere, was famous for its support of liberalism and civil rights but it was a painful reality and hardly exclusive to Newarks Jews. Neighborhoods across the country were witness to the seemingly anomalous spectacle of liberal Jews fleeing their homes and neighborhoods at the first sighting of black newcomers while presumably more conservative blue-collar white ethnics stayed put.

The journalist Max Geltman, in The Confrontation: Black Power, Anti-Semitism, and the Myth of Integration (Prentice-Hall, 1970) describes the good Jewish liberals of Newark who mourned the dead in Mississippi, the wounded in Alabama, the uneducated in Little Rock, and every slight to a Negro anywhere outside New Jersey. But in Newark things were different . It was almost three months after I had moved there before I realized that my neighbors always said they when they meant Negroes. My daughter heard the word schwartze for the first time in her life from friends whose parents were members of the A.D.L. and solid supporters of integration in the South.

There was a time when black-Jewish relations in Newark held at least a semblance of promise. Blacks and Jews, writes Professor Price, were among the most prominent of the groups who came to Newark to escape terrible circumstances. Both groups found that the citys racial and ethnic relations were benign when compared to many other cities. There were no race riots or other dramatic forms of racial/ethnic confrontations that would stem the tide of blacks and Jews seeking some semblance of a Promised Land.

But that relatively idyllic state of affairs could not survive the contrasting fortunes of an upwardly mobile Jewish community and a black populace struggling, mostly unsuccessfully, to overcome poverty, prejudice and a series of ill-advised government policies.

The decline of Newark, adds Price, was a part of the general decline of old American cities in the twentieth century . As the old cities decayed, they were surrounded by a glittering array of shopping malls, corporate parks and residential communities whose newness seemingly underscored the inferiority of urban life . Although many old cities experienced much the same decline after World War II, few rivaled the losses which Newark sustained in population, vitality, and prestige.

* * * * *

The riots of July 1967 served as the coffin nails for a Jewish community that had for all intents and purposes died years before. The weeklong explosion of violence, aimed in significant part at Jewish merchants (Geltman describes rioters shouting get Goldberg! as they ravaged business establishments without care whether anyone was in them or not) destroyed the hopes of the few optimists who had dared hold out hope for the citys remaining Jews.

Most of those Jews departed within the next few years, and by the mid-1970s there were few tangible signs left of Newarks glorious Jewish past.

No matter how great a revival Newark may yet experience, writes Helmreich, it will bear little resemblance to the Newark that its Jewish population identified with. After all, Bnai Jeshurun [became] the Hopewell Baptist Church, Anshei Russia [became] home to the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and the Y that was a second home for thousands of Jews became, for a time, the abode of the Citadel of Hope Miracle Temple, now defunct.

For Jews, Newark today is little more than a graveyard, figuratively and literally: The city is home to at most a few hundred Jewish residents and nearly 100 Jewish cemeteries. In the end, there may be no epitaph for Newark more moving or appropriate than that offered by journalism professor Jeffrey Brody, whose observations on the destruction wrought by the rioters of 67 are included by Helmreich in his book:

Walking along the former business section, it seems inopportune to recall the names of former shops (Blausteins Furs, Kartzmans Deli, Kayes Drugs, Manhoffs Fishery, Masurs Furs, and Tabatchnicks the herring king, for example). Repeating their names is like reciting Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

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City of Graveyards: The Demise of Jewish Newark – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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Every Jewish member of Trump’s administration should resign in protest – New York Daily News

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, August 17, 2017, 8:04 AM

The Nazis play the race card, so I’m playing the Jew card: Why haven’t prominent Jewish members of the Trump administration quit yet?

It’s a no-brainer: If you’re a Jew and your boss says nice things about people who marched in the street chanting anti-Semitic and Nazi-era slogans, you have to resign in protest.

You have to say enough is enough to a guy who is so sympathetic to the white supremacist cause that he couldn’t even put out a simple Holocaust remembrance statement that mentioned, um, the Jewish victims of the Nazis.

You have to make the ultimate statement to someone who believes that Nazi thugs are on the same moral plane as the people who stood up to them.

Bushes, McConnell horrified by Trumps Charlottesville response

Yet all we’re hearing from Jews in the Trump administration is silence and acquiescence or, worse, going about their jobs as if nothing has happened.

Gary Cohn, head of the president’s National Economic Council, told his friends to tell the Times he was “disgusted” by the President’s remarks. Yet publicly, he has said nothing.

Steven Mnuchin, the secretary of the Treasury, was literally standing at Trump’s side when the President blamed the violence on the anti-Nazis. He kept smiling. He has said nothing.

Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and key adviser, is so proud of his Jewish faith that he observes Sabbath rules. Yet he has said nothing.

Trump isn’t done blaming people for Charlottesville controversy

Even those who have publicly disagreed with the President frankly, you don’t need much of a spine to condemn Nazis have stopped well short of making the ultimate show of defiance by quitting in protest.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made a big public speech on Wednesday in which he said he was “outraged” by what happened in Charlottesville. Shulkin called it a “dishonor to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged,” as indeed his boss had done.

“I am not going to condone the beliefs of the Nazis or the white supremacists in any way,” Shulkin added. “White supremacists and Nazis have no place in American civil discourse and Americans should be speaking out against that.” He added that “staying silent on these issues is not acceptable.”

And then he looked down at a piece of paper and started to quote the famous anti-Nazi Martin Niemller the guy who wrote the famous poem that begins, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…”

Ivanka’s rabbi denounces Trump’s response to Charlottesville

For a moment, I thought he would do the right thing and resign, not only on behalf of his fellow Jews, but on behalf of America’s dying World War II vets who, lest we forget, saved the world from the Nazis. That’s what usually happens when people nervously look down at a piece of paper and start quoting Niemller. But Shulkin pivoted away.

So it has fallen to non-Jews to tell President Trump like the members of his now-disbanded manufacturing council that he’s wrong about the “good” Nazis.

A prominent defender of President Trump has said that Jews in the administration don’t really have a choice to condemn the President because “It’s a no-win situation for them.”

“If Mr. Mnuchin or Mr. Cohn issues a statement, then what?” Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser, told the Times. “They are supposed to resign? They have a responsibility to carry out their jobs.”

I disagree; members of the government swear their allegiance to the Constitution, not any individual President. And it’s not unprecedented for high-placed government officials to quit when the President does something that anathema to American values. President Ford’s press secretary Jerry terHorst resigned in protest after Ford pardoned disgraced President Nixon. And George Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, stood up to the President when he wanted to expand a warrantless search program.

So why won’t Trump administration Jews do the same? It’s so simple: No one, but least of all, Jews, should stand with anyone who gives aid and comfort to Nazis. And President Trump thinks some Nazis are “good people.”

Resign.

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Every Jewish member of Trump’s administration should resign in protest – New York Daily News

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Exhibit featuring Jewish contributions to North Dakota comes to Bonanzaville – The Dickinson Press

The yearlong exhibit, titled “The North Dakota Jewish Experience:Shvitzing It Out on the Prairie,” explores the history and lives of Jewish homesteaders.

The idea for the showcase was sparked after a May 21 rededication of the Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery in Ashley, N.D., which contains the graves of about 28 pioneer Jewish farmers. The rededication was followed by the July 4 placement of a plaque honoring Jewish settlers in the Dakota Territory next to South Pleasant Church at Bonanzaville.

“Those events really sparked a lot of interest throughout the community,” said Bonanzaville Executive Director Brenda Warren. “We decided to educate our community and our visitors on what great contributions the Jewish immigrants made to North Dakota and our country.”

Bonanzaville’s exhibit, which includes a timeline of Jewish and artifacts of Jewish culture donated by area families, opened to a reception attended by nearly 100 people on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

“The story of North Dakota is a proud saga of hard work and dedication to the community,” said Rabbi Yonah Grossman, who founded the Chabad Jewish Center in Fargo.

Jewish settlers made mark on North Dakota

After the U.S. Homestead Act of 1862, flocks of immigrants made their way west and into the Dakota Territory, and thousands of Jewish settlers made their home in the upper Great Plains.

At one time, North Dakota had the fourth largest number of homesteaders working plats of land, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

At least 800 Jewish individuals filed for land between 1880 and 1916, usually settling in clusters around the state. The first Jewish settlement in North Dakota was in 1882 when about 11 families settled near Devils Lake, according to the Bonanzaville exhibit.

Millions of Jewish families were fleeing the Russian empire’s persecution during that time, including Rabbi Benjamin Papermaster, who arrived in Fargo in 1891 from Kovno, Lithuania.

Papermaster settled in Grand Forks and organized a collection of Russian and German Jewish families into a congregation, serving as the rabbi of the Grand Forks Jewish community until 1934. As a circuit rabbi, he traveled across the area to circumcise babies, and officiate weddings, funerals and other events.

In 1896, the Temple Beth El synagogue was chartered in Fargo. It remains one of only two active synagogues left in North Dakota, along with B’nai Israel Congregation in Grand Forks.

Many settlers farmed or landed in towns created around the railroad lines and operated general stores.

Over the years, many Jewish individuals made great impacts on Fargo and its economy. Myron Bright was a judge on the 8th District Circuit Court of Appeals from 1968 until his death in 2016. The longest-serving Fargo mayor was Herschel Lashkowitz, who stood at the city’s helm from 1954 to 1974. In 1968, Harold Doroshow and his wife opened North Dakota’s first McDonald’s in Fargo.

Many Jewish families left the area after staying the necessary five years to acquire a full land title under the Homestead Act. North Dakota’s Jewish population is now about 400, which is fewer than any other state except South Dakota, according to Robin Doroshow, executive director of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.

Exhibit spotlights diversity in community

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the exhibit will help bring an understanding of different cultures to this area at a time when it is most needed.

“We have to kill the hate,” Mahoney said. ” We all have to love one another, we have to love all of the cultures and the more we show these things about them, the more we can understand.”

The exhibit will remain open until August 2018 and could become a permanent display, Warren said. Bonanzaville is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday through Aug. 31.

The exhibit was created at the Bonanzaville pavilion with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, the Chabad Jewish Center of North Dakota, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. It was designed by Curator Typhanie Schaffer and North Dakota State University professor Angela Smith.

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Exhibit featuring Jewish contributions to North Dakota comes to Bonanzaville – The Dickinson Press

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Howard County Jewish community raises $10K for Jews in Uganda – Baltimore Sun

Famine in East Africa caught the attention of members of the Jewish Federation of Howard County last month when they learned of a small Jewish community in Uganda, known as the Abayudaya, who are suffering from starvation.

In partnership with the Howard County Board of Rabbis, the local Jewish federation started an emergency fundraising campaign to help feed the Abayudaya, raising more than $10,000 in less than a week.

As donations continue pouring in, the federation will keep the campaign open through the end of August, and are urging other communities to share their support. Funds are sent to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee humanitarian organization.

Will Recant, a JDC assistant executive vice president, said they administer the funds through the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, which consists of dozens of Jewish organizations working to provide a united response to disasters or man-made crisis worldwide.

The Jewish Coalition for East Africa Relief was the latest organization created about three months ago. Recant said funding is sent to Be’chol Lashon, a Jewish advocacy organization, which purchases the food for the Abayudaya community and oversees distribution.

“Be’chol Lashon is delighted to partner with Abayudaya leader, Rabbi Sizomu and JDC to help alleviate the immediate need for food in the region, as well as improve agricultural practices and food management to anticipate future need, including collecting rain water, irrigation and storing surplus crops during the growing seasons,” said Diane Tobin, CEO of Be’Chol Lashon.

The Abayudaya, which translates to “people of Judah,” consists of 2,000 Ugandan Jews, who are down to one meal a day because of widespread famine in Uganda, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan, Recant said.

According to the Be’chol Lashon website, the Abayudaya was introduced to Judaism through leader Semei Kakungulu, who was a Christian missionary for the British, but followed the Hebrew Bible. The Abayudaya have practiced Judaism since the early 1900s and formally converted about 15 years ago.

Federations in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Howard County as well as individuals, foundations and other Jewish groups raised about $36,500 as of Aug. 15 to provide food and water to suffering families.

“We anticipate other funds to be coming in in the coming weeks,” Recant said. “We are very grateful to Howard County and the others who are rising up, gaining awareness of the issue and taking the action to provide much-needed assistance. It’s just heartwarming to see how responsive Howard County and the others have been.”

In addition to emergency food distribution, the coalition is reviewing proposals for water purification and agricultural projects to benefit the Abayudaya and their Christian neighbors and better prepare them in the future.

Recant said the food shortage is in large part due to the ongoing drought. Since the community relies heavily on crops, maize flour will be distributed.

“We had the great famine of the early 1980s in Ethiopia, which was the largest famine of the last century,” Recant said. “Every 20 to 30 years, there’s drought and resulting famine in the regions. It’s a result of the weather patterns and conditions in that part of Africa that have been exacerbated by climate change. They’re seeing more severe droughts than we’ve had in the past that last longer.”

Local response

At least two members of the Abayudaya community have died from malnutrition, with 20 million lives at risk of illness and death in East Africa, said Ralph Grunewald, the interim executive director at the Jewish Federation of Howard County.

When Grunewald first heard about the community’s suffering, he said he felt “deep sorrow and sadness” and immediately coordinated with federation President Beth Millstein, the Howard County Board of Rabbis and local synagogues to start a campaign.

A $35 donation can feed one Abayudaya family for a week, he said.

“I felt that as a Jewish community we could do something to alleviate the suffering that’s taking place there,” Grunewald said. “I set a goal of about $10,000 [because] it’s the amount needed to feed that entire community for one single day.”

The Jewish Federation of Howard County kick-started the campaign with a $1,000 donation, followed by donations from Temple Isaiah; Lubavitch Center of Howard County; Bet Aviv; Beth Shalom; Shalom Aleichem; Columbia Jewish Congregation; Union for Reform Judaism; and Bet Chaverim.

“The money is still coming in,” Millstein said. “I think it’s very gratifying that people are willing to step up and help, even for a group that they’ve never met who is halfway around the world.”

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, the chairwoman of the Howard County Board of Rabbis, said the Howard County Jewish community has a personal connection to the Abayudaya through its religious leader, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, a native of Uganda. Sizomu studied with Rabbi Craig Axler, of Temple Isaiah, in Fulton, during their years at Hebrew Union College in New York City.

An ordained rabbi since 2008, Sizomu also studied in the U.S. for five years at the American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, Calif. In 2011, Sizomu ran to represent Uganda’s Bungokho North District in Parliament but lost.

Sizomu ran again in the 2016 election and became the first Jewish candidate to win a seat in the country’s Parliament.

“[Sizomu] is an extraordinarily intelligent, sensitive and dynamic rabbi who works tirelessly to take care of his community,” Scheinerman said. “He recently sent reports to us that people in his community are suffering greatly from food shortages. I’m sure the Abayudaya also has neighbors who we can be helping as well.”

Sizomu said the donations from Howard County’s Jewish organizations and groups are addressing short- and long-term concerns. While funds help avert the food shortage, they also develop food security for the community in the future.

“We are in the process of securing a food store where we will keep food during times of plenty to be used during times of scarcity,” Sizomu said. “We are also looking at starting mini irrigation projects so we can slowly break the over-dependance on rain.”

The people are subsistence farmers and depend on nature and rain for their crops, he said. This season yielded poor crops due to lack of rain and army worm infestation. However, Sizomu said the community planted its second season of crops, which appear well.

“The crops are doing much better and we expect a good yield this October,” he said. “We have received food aid from friends and the situation is under control. I have called upon friends and well-wishers to help and the response is, so far, very good.”

Food is being shared with the Abayudaya’s non-Jewish neighbors, Sizomu said.

Axler said he has stayed in touch with Sizomu over the years, watching him bring the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities together through mutual farming and coffee production. The emergency campaign is a wonderful effort, he said.

“You think that hunger, starvation and famine is something that’s far away, but then it’s happening to somebody who you consider to be your brother and a part of your family,” Axler said.

Rabbi Daniel Plotkin, a rabbi educator at Temple Isaiah, said the synagogue shared the campaign with its members, who quickly responded to the effort.

“It’s a Jewish tradition dating back literally thousands of years: We take responsibility for Jews wherever they are in the world,” Plotkin said. “As the small community in Uganda is threatened, Jews with the financial resources at their disposal have an obligation to help and make sure our fellow Jews, wherever they are, are being taken care of.”

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Howard County Jewish community raises $10K for Jews in Uganda – Baltimore Sun

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Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism Around The Nation Is A Disturbing Trend – NPR

Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism Around The Nation Is A Disturbing Trend
NPR
The American Jewish community has been unsettled by the re-emergence of vocal anti-Semitism, largely believed to be a feature of the nation's past. Facebook; Twitter. Google+. Email. Get The Stories That Grabbed Us This Week. Delivered to your inbox …

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Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism Around The Nation Is A Disturbing Trend – NPR

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A Swiss hotel asks Jewish guests to shower before entering the pool – CNN International

“To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming,” one sign said. “If you break the rules I’m forced to cloes (sic) the swimming pool for you.”

Another sign in the kitchen addressed to “our Jewish guests” said the hotel’s freezer would only be available from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. “I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time,” it read.

Guests spotted the placards at the Paradies hotel in the Swiss resort village of Arosa. The news of the signs spread quickly after an outraged guest posted a picture to Facebook.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the incident “an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind” and demanded the person who posted the signs “be brought to justice.”

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni strongly condemned the placards — while also alluding to last weekend’s white supremacist rally in Virginia. “There is no place in the free world for Nazi flags, Ku Klux Klan masks, or disgusting notices in hotels that are aimed at Jews alone.”

An Israeli guest told CNN affiliate Channel 2 that the hotel manager was nice to his family upon their arrival, and so they were shocked to find the posted signs. “No one addressed her because we didn’t want to start a confrontation,” he said, noting the hotel had many Jewish guests, mostly from the United States, the UK and Belgium.

“It was very strange and the sort of anti-Semitic incident we have not been exposed to before,” he said.

Paradies hotel manager Ruth Thomann did not respond to CNN’s calls for comment. However, Thomann defended herself to Swiss media, saying she is not anti-Semitic.

Thomann told the Swiss newspaper Blick she was trying to address the issue of guests not showering before they used the pool during a period where many Jewish guests were staying at the hotel.

“I made the sign without sensitivity and now I am paying for it dearly,” she told Blick.

She also said the sign limiting the use of the freezer was misunderstood, and that she was only trying to help hotel staff. “As a service we offer to our Jewish guests, they can store their kosher food in our (staff) freezer,” she said.

Thomann said she posted the sign to limit guests’ use of the freezer and to allow staff more privacy, according to Blick.

The signs have since been removed, a representative with the Israeli Embassy in Switzerland said in a statement.

CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Michael Schwartz contributed to this report.

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A Swiss hotel asks Jewish guests to shower before entering the pool – CNN International

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Jewish Republicans reject Trump’s take on Charlottesville violence – Politico

President Donald Trump addresses the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. Following the president’s remarks on violence in Charlottesville, AIPAC urged officials to “reject moral equivalence.” | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images Jewish Republicans rejected Donald Trumps comments in response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, but it doesnt appear the president is facing further consequences from the small but vital GOP constituency over what they saw as a failure to adequately denounce crowds that shouted anti-Semitic chants and hoisted Nazi flags last weekend. The Republican Jewish Coalition in a statement called for Trump to show greater leadership after he seemed Tuesday to equate neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan demonstrators with those protesting them. Matt Brooks, executive director of the RJC, would not say whether members plan any further steps to warn the president. Story Continued Below “People are scared and frightened and disgusted by the events of Charlottesville,” Brooks told POLITICO on Thursday. “It’s incredible in this time and place in our American history that we’re dealing with the scourge of vile neo-Nazis and white supremacists. It’s just intolerable.” Brooks also would not disclose any conversations with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who sits on the RJC’s board but has not personally weighed in. Still, some Republican strategists are nervous about turning off a group that regularly votes, raises money and donates to candidates. Trumps daughter Ivanka and her family are Jewish, as are several of the presidents top aides. But his statement that there were very fine people amid those protesting the planned removal of a Confederate statue who chanted, among other things, Jews will not replace us shocked supporters and critics alike. Sign up for our must-read newsletter on what’s driving the afternoon in Washington. By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time. “Getting this right is life and death for the Republican Party. You can’t have a Republican Party that people believe is a racist party,” said Rick Tyler, a Trump critic and former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz, who aggressively courted Republican Jews in his own 2016 presidential bid. “The Republican Jewish community provides a lot of support for the Republican Party, particularly financial support.” The RJC which asked Trump to provide greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry, and antisemitism was more direct than the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which issued a statement Thursday urging all elected officials to reject moral equivalence between those who promote hate and those who oppose it. But AIPACs statement was nonetheless a striking rebuke given the groups past praise of Trumps hawkish stance on Israel and as-yet-unfulfilled vow to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, called on “White Supremacists, the KKK, neo-Nazis and all groups that preach hate” to be “explicitly condemned.” The other, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, followed Trump in placing blame on both sides for violence that culminated in the death of a woman after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters. But Zeldin added: “These two sides are not equal. They are different.” Nonpartisan Jewish groups, like the Anti-Defamation League, have been more direct in criticizing Trump’s rhetoric. It’s not the first time Trump has angered the American Jewish community. Many were baffled and offended when his White House put out a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of the Jews who were killed. Fred Zeidman, a member of the RJC board of directors and a former George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, praised his group’s leadership for taking a stand after the Charlottesville violence. “We know the issues that evolve from remaining silent, and we can’t remain silent,” he told POLITICO on Thursday. “We know what happens when we remain silent.” Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning in your inbox.

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Why do white supremacists hate Jews? Because we can fight them. – Chicago Tribune

Anti-Semitism is again back in the news. Some of the posters at the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist demonstrations this past weekend featured a man taking a hammer to a Star of David the biggest threat, the thing that needs to be destroyed. Marchers chanted, Jews will not replace us and Blood and soil! a direct translation of the Nazi slogan blut und boden, which plays on the notion of Jews as powerful, dangerous interlopers. This comes toward the end of a summer that included the Chicago Dyke March ejecting participants with a Star of David on a gay pride flag on the misguided-at-best grounds that it went against the marchs anti-racist core values and heated debates about whether Gal Gadot, an Ashkenazi Israeli, is a person of color. Particularly in recent years, there has rightfully been increased talk about the ways in which many Ashkenazi Jews in America do have white privilege. So are we oppressed? Or what? The reasons that question may feel complicated go back around a thousand years. Since the dawn of modern anti-Semitism, hatred toward Jews has been deeply intertwined with the idea of Jews having unique sorts of advantages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were barred from many trades and professions, and it was sometimes illegal for Jews to own land. It was convenient for local authorities to permit Jews to work in trades that were repugnant to Christians most notably money-lending, which was associated in the Christian world with depravity and sin. From a Jewish perspective, money-lending was a useful line of work for two reasons. First, it was somewhat portable, and when times were lucky it enabled our ancestors to have liquid assets both of which were practical during an era when expulsions of Jews from villages and even whole countries were not uncommon. It was also profitable. Most late medieval and early modern European polities taxed Jews at jaw-droppingly high rates, so loaning out money was essential for communities survival. A very small subset of Jews began handling money because it was a viable option and a practical necessity. And then they were resented for it and identified with the work in a way that Christian bankers never were. Even as early as 1233, anti-Semitic drawings depicted the usurious Jew, using many of the same themes one might find in a quick Google search. Most Jews throughout history lived a fairly precarious existence, economically and otherwise. Many times in history we have been tolerated, and even embraced, by the rulers and locals of our host country. But we have also been subject to expulsions, pogroms, inquisitions and genocide many times over often, indeed, fueled by the trope of the greedy, crooked Jew serving as the scapegoat for other stresses and complexities in society. Often, the shift from living in peace to the bottom dropping out happened very quickly. So here’s the paradox: Anti-Semitism and Jewish privilege are, and have long been, two sides of the same coin. Even now, I feel it keenly. On the one hand, Jews as a category are thus far shielded from the state violence that a lot of other groups are experiencing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not seeking us out as a group; we are not being barred from the military or being singled out in a travel ban. Although of course there are Jews of all levels of economic security in this country, American Jews as a collective do have a lot more social and cultural capital than many other groups, and we are not as vulnerable as other communities under attack. The reasons are various; a big one, though, is that many American Jews’ families have been established here for a century or more and, over that time, Ashkenazi Jews were able to assimilate into the broader culture and become white. Yet at the same time, anti-Semitism is functioning as it has for centuries. President Donald Trumps attacks on Soros globalists, White House adviser Stephen Millers claim that a reporter had cosmopolitan bias (a phrase that has longtime anti-Semitic connotations despite Miller’s own Jewish origins), the Star of David superimposed on money in the infamous Trump tweet last year, the dog whistles in the Trump’s final campaign ad and the posters and chants in Charlottesville all depend on a centuries-old, manufactured narrative of Jews as wealthy, powerful and in control. As this rhetoric gets louder, were seeing more targeted hate: Jewish graveyards have been vandalized at least five times this year, and the Holocaust Memorial in Boston was smashed for the second time this summer on Monday. That shift from relative peace to something else can happen so quickly in the blink of an eye. Some members of the Jewish community are feeling our centuries-deep intergenerational trauma keenly, experiencing this era as nothing short of terrifying, with memories of pogrom torches and swastika flags looming large. But this isnt the time to hunker down. Its the time to stand up. I, for one, have advantages that my ancestors in Europe never dreamed of, and this includes the social capital to fight bigotry with full force and power. We as a community have an obligation to stand up for those who are more vulnerable to both institutional and random attacks, as well as the powerful image of an 89-year-old woman photographed on Sunday in New York holding a sign that said: I escaped the Nazis once. You will not defeat me now. The Washington Post Danya Ruttenberg, of Evanston, is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah, a Jewish service corps, and author of Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting.

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Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor – Intermountain Jewish News

Michael Signer speaks on Meet the Press, Aug. 14, 2017. CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Michael Signer, the Jewish mayor of Charlottesville, has one thing in common with the white supremacists who descended on his southern Virginia city over the weekend: He also opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Of course, Signers reasons for preserving the statue would have appalled the supremacists: He agreed with local African-American activists who had argued that preserving the statue was a means of teaching Virginians about the horrors of a dishonorablecause, the Confederacy. Signer was on the losing side of a 3-2 City Council decision, and the statue is now slated for removal. But his approach has also been evident in his counsel during the rash of protests that have plagued this city: Dont take the bait, he has said. In giving that advice, Signer has noted that for the first time in his life, he has been the target of intense baiting as a Jew. I cant see the world through a black persons eyes, he said at a June 13 address at an African-American church, where he urged constituents not to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred. I can see it through a Jewish persons eyes; the KKK hates Jews just as much as they hate black people. The stuff with this group online about Jews is unbelievable, bloodcurdling. The stuff Ive gotten on my phone at my house, youd think it was done a hundred years ago. Signer, 44, a practicing lawyer in Charlottesville, also lectures on politics and leadership at the University of Virginia, his law school alma mater. His wife, Emily Blout, is an Iran scholar at the same university, which is located here. An Arlington native, Signer is the child of journalists, but in his authors autobiography sounds like many other younger liberal Jews who note with pride their grandparents working class and intellectual roots: My grandfather was a Jeep mechanic for the Army on the European front in WW II and lifetime member of the proofreaders union at The New York Times; he lost part of a finger in an industrial accident as a young man, he wrote. My grandmother organized seamstresses on her factory floor in New York City and later worked as a secretary to Hannah Arendt at the New School. In a January speech declaring Charlottesville a capital of the resistance, Signer described his grandfather as a Jewish kid raised in the Bronx who was part of the forces that liberated the world from Nazism and fascism, that laid the groundwork for NATO and the Marshall Plan, and for a country that lived up to the promises of the Statue of Liberty . . . If he were alive right now, I dont think I could look him in the face and say Grandpa, I didnt fight for the values you fought for. Before becoming mayor, Signer was known both for his activism in the senior reaches of the Democratic Party he was national security adviser for John Edwards 2008 primary campaign as well as his expertise on a subject that has received much attention recently, demagoguery. He published a book in 2009, Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies. The book examines successful demagogues left and right. Sen. Joe McCarthy, the 1950s anti-communist firebrand who plagued the American discourse, and Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman and leftist, both come under scrutiny. In December, 2015, before the presidential primaries, Signer predicted that Donald Trump could become a singular menace to our Republic. Paraphrasing James Fenimore Cooper, Signer wrote then that Trump met all four criteria of an American demagogue: they posture as men of the common people; they trigger waves of powerful emotion; they manipulate this emotion for political benefit; and they threaten or break established principles of governance. Signer last weekend squarely blamed Trump for stoking the populist white nationalist fervor that culminated in the violence that took the life of one counter-protester, injured dozens of others and led to the death of two state troopers in a helicopter crash. The rally included Nazi flags, chants of Jews will not replace us, and shouts of Jew every time a speaker mentioned Signers name. Look at the campaign he ran, the mayor said on CNN. Signer elaborated on NBCs Meet the Press, saying of Trump, I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to peoples prejudices, to go to the gutter. Signers tactic has been to organize countering events that celebrate Charlottesvilles diversity, prompting Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow at the ADLs Center on Extremism, to say on Twitter that Signer gets it. Speaking in May on State of Belief, a radio show produced by the Interfaith Alliance, Signer said it was more productive to focus on the victim than the perpetrator. Youre trying to ease the pain of someone whos been afflicted rather than focus on the harasser, he said. He also described the unfamiliar sensation of being in the position of the afflicted, barraged as he was with online assaults from anti-Semites as the Lee statue issue was put before the council. One tweet, from the account of someone calling themselves Great Patriot Trump, read I smell Jew. If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long. The wave of anti-Semitic attacks Ive seen in the last week, its been a new experience for me, Ive never seen that before, Signer said. Some of the nightmare historical tropes I thought had been retired after WW II had returned as more disturbing mash-ups of politics today and anti-Semitism.

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City of Graveyards: The Demise of Jewish Newark – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Routledge Publishers It is a story that should serve as the ultimate cautionary tale for any Jewish community tempted to mistake a period of vibrancy for a guarantee of immortality. The story is that of the Jews of Newark, New Jersey, who at the midpoint mark of the 20th century had on their side numbers and history and carefully nurtured social, religious and cultural institutions but for whom communal desolation awaited and whose legions of rabbis, businessmen, philanthropists and activists could not, in the end, stave off the deluge. Curiously, to date there has been just one comprehensive account of the rise and demise of Newark Jewry sociologist William Helmreichs The Enduring Community: The Jews of Newark and MetroWest (Routledge, 1998), a book that is at once meticulously researched, carefully documented and eminently readable as it transports readers to the fields and roads and streets of Newark as it evolves from farmland to village to city. (The MetroWest in the title refers to the name appropriated by the Federation to represent the municipalities in the general vicinity of Newark to which generations of Newark Jews migrated.) In Helmreichs well-crafted narrative the sounds, sights and smells of Newarks long-dead Jewish districts come alive: the pushcarts of Prince Street giving way to the bustle of Springfield Avenue and the cash registers ringing up sales at such downtown emporia as Bambergers, Hahnes, Kresges and S. Kleins; ornate synagogues and humbler street-corner shuls marking the movement of Newarks Jews from the Canal Street area to the Central Ward to the leafy neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Weequahic; bakeries, candy stores and luncheonettes all along Bergen Street and Chancellor Avenue; local fixtures like Beth Israel Hospital, the Newark Museum, the Newark Public Library and the YMHA all first rate and all contributing a cosmopolitan ambience to a city that, in terms of sheer physical size, was actually rather small. But even in Jewish Newarks heyday, a golden age that would stretch, roughly, from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s, social and political forces the decline of the citys once thriving banking, insurance and smokestack industries; the movement of upwardly mobile Jews to suburbia; the steady growth of a black underclass were at work that would, in time, spell catastrophe. * * * * * Newarks first Jews were Sephardim, but they were few and unorganized. It wasnt until the 1840s, and the first stages of the mass immigration of German Jews to America, that a definable Jewish presence established itself in Newark, a city in the midst of rapid change. The former backwater of dirt roads and family farms was fast becoming a center of industry and commerce; in 1870 the citys population stood at better than 100,000 and two years later an estimated 130,000 visitors attended the Newark Industrial Exposition. Jews from Eastern Europe began arriving in the U.S. in the 1880s. In Newark, as in New York City, there were important religious and cultural differences between the newcomers and the already-settled German Jews, who in many respects seemed more comfortable with their non-Jewish German neighbors than with their brethren from Russia and Poland. In Newark, writes Helmreich, the relationships between [Eastern European and German Jews] were even more tense than elsewhere because Newark was small enough for people to know each other. For example, the German-Jewish and East European synagogues were located within walking distance of each other. Newark was small enough for youngsters to know which summer camps were for German Jews and which were not, just as their parents knew which country clubs accepted Eastern Europeans and which did not. The prejudice against Eastern Europeans first showed signs of weakening during the 1920s. By the 1940s, with the Holocaust raging in Europe, it would be reduced to a negligible aspect of Jewish life in Newark, though even then it would not be entirely eradicated. Meanwhile, the Jewish population of Newark had already topped 45,000 by the mid-1920s more than half that number of Eastern European background. The 1920s were notable in other ways as well: the Conference of Jewish Charities was formed in 1923, giving Newarks Jews a central communal organization and Newark Beth Israel Hospital, which had been founded in 1901, moved in 1929 to its permanent Lyons Avenue location. (Little-known fact: Paula Ben-Gurion, wife of Israels first prime minister, was a trainee at Beth Israels school of nursing). * * * * * The growth of Newark Jewrys influence and prestige continued unabated over the next couple of decades the city elected its first (and only) Jewish mayor, Meyer Doc Ellenstein, in 1932 and reached full bloom in the 1940s. With about 60,000 Jews (or about 12 percent of the citys total population) living in Newark proper, and thousands more in Greater Newark the nearby towns of Irvington, Hillside, Maplewood, the Oranges, Bloomfield, Millburn and Verona the community appeared set for continued growth and success. Indeed, as Rutgers history professor Clement Alexander Price observes in a 1994 paper for the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest, despite its pockets of poverty and the divisions between the Orthodox and Reform and political conservatives and radicals, Newarks Jewish community became by the end of World War II one of the citys most vibrant entities. It was, in short, emblematic of the ethnic success story. By the end of World War II, Newarks Jews, having emerged unscathed from sporadic confrontations with local Nazis and Nazi sympathizers found among the large German population of Newark and next-door Irvington a little-remembered tale told with flair by Warren Grover in Nazis in Newark (Transaction, 2003) were more confident than ever, more secure in their status as Americans, more comfortable than they probably ever expected to be. The center of Jewish gravity at mid-century was the citys Weequahic section, made famous by native son Philip Roth, whose body of work reflects an ambivalence about Judaism and Jewish identity but none about the singular experience of growing up Jewish in Newark. (Roth was one of many prominent American Jews born and/or raised in Newark; some others were Fanny Brice, Ed Koch, Jerry Lewis and Dore Schary.) Roths conflicted feelings about religion and ethnicity were typical of a generation of American Jews squarely on the fast track to secularization and assimilation. Even so, Newarks Jewish community had a rich religious tradition going back to the citys first three synagogues Bnai Jeshurun (founded in 1848), Bnai Abraham (1855) and Oheb Shalom (1860). All three started out as traditional or Orthodox congregations but each eventually fell away from strict observance. Over the years Newark was home to a surprisingly large number of prominent rabbis from the three major denominations. (By 1948 there were at least 40 synagogues in the city.) The most widely recognized Reform leader, certainly on a national scale, was Joachim Prinz, who arrived at Bnai Abraham from Germany in 1939 and became a major figure in Jewish organizational life and the civil rights movement. The Orthodox community was well represented by rabbis such as Hyman Brodsky (his synagogue, Congregation Anshei Russia, was one of Newarks most important); Joseph Konvitz (Brodskys successor); Chaim Glatzer; Mordechai Ehrenkrantz; Jacob Mendelson; Elias Singer; David Singer; Israel Turner; Herman Kahn; Zundel Levine; Louis Weller; Meyer Blumenfeld; the Pittsburgher Rebbe, Avrohom Abba Leifer; Oscar Kline; Zev Segal; Moshe Kasinetz; and Sholom Ber Gordon (a major influence on a young Newark resident who decades later would go on to help make ArtScroll an enormous success story Rabbi Nosson Scherman). Newarks Orthodox community was a lenient one, Helmreich told this writer in an interview about the book. In fact, he explained, Newark offers us a very clear understanding of a typical mid-20th century American Orthodox community. What makes it particularly unique is that when American Orthodoxy began its steadily rightward drift, Jewish Newark was already in its decline. And by the time the new, stricter climate had become the norm even in Modern Orthodox circles, Newarks Jewish community had, for all intents and purposes, passed from the scene. The result is that scholars and researchers can look at Newarks Orthodox community as a specimen frozen in time a community that ceased to exist before it had the chance to change in the manner of other similar communities. It was a more tolerant Orthodoxy, Helmreich said. The rabbis were willing to work with non-Orthodox leaders for the greater good of the community. There was a greater acceptance of differences. People didnt march in lockstep there were disagreements even on such matters as day-school education. Helmreich notes in his book that in 1932 a Reform rabbi, Marius Ranson, was invited to address the Yong Israel Sisterhood. Not only was Ranson Reform, writes Helmreich, but he was in the left wing of his movement. People were not permitted to wear a yarmulke or tallis in his temple. Imagine a Young Israel synagogue today tendering an invitation to such a rabbi! Citing yet another example of changing times, Helmreich told me that as unbelievable as it may sound today, there were Orthodox rabbis back in the 1940s who opposed the formation of what became Newarks most successful day school, Hebrew Youth Academy. It was a totally different climate and an almost unrecognizable mindset. * * * * * The end of Jewish Newark is described by Helmreich in all its sad detail. He makes a point of stressing that, in a larger sense, Jewish Newark had begun its inexorable decline decades before, with a steady stream of Jews slowly making their way out of the city and into the surrounding suburbs. But it was the escalating tensions between Jews and blacks that added a sense of urgency to Jewish flight. Helmreich is remarkably fair in apportioning blame for the demise of the Jewish community and doesnt hesitate to address such uncomfortable questions as Jewish racism on the one hand and the acquiescence of Jews in the takeover of their neighborhoods on the other. The racism touched on by Helmreich may come as something of an unpleasant surprise to some the American Jewish community, in Newark and elsewhere, was famous for its support of liberalism and civil rights but it was a painful reality and hardly exclusive to Newarks Jews. Neighborhoods across the country were witness to the seemingly anomalous spectacle of liberal Jews fleeing their homes and neighborhoods at the first sighting of black newcomers while presumably more conservative blue-collar white ethnics stayed put. The journalist Max Geltman, in The Confrontation: Black Power, Anti-Semitism, and the Myth of Integration (Prentice-Hall, 1970) describes the good Jewish liberals of Newark who mourned the dead in Mississippi, the wounded in Alabama, the uneducated in Little Rock, and every slight to a Negro anywhere outside New Jersey. But in Newark things were different . It was almost three months after I had moved there before I realized that my neighbors always said they when they meant Negroes. My daughter heard the word schwartze for the first time in her life from friends whose parents were members of the A.D.L. and solid supporters of integration in the South. There was a time when black-Jewish relations in Newark held at least a semblance of promise. Blacks and Jews, writes Professor Price, were among the most prominent of the groups who came to Newark to escape terrible circumstances. Both groups found that the citys racial and ethnic relations were benign when compared to many other cities. There were no race riots or other dramatic forms of racial/ethnic confrontations that would stem the tide of blacks and Jews seeking some semblance of a Promised Land. But that relatively idyllic state of affairs could not survive the contrasting fortunes of an upwardly mobile Jewish community and a black populace struggling, mostly unsuccessfully, to overcome poverty, prejudice and a series of ill-advised government policies. The decline of Newark, adds Price, was a part of the general decline of old American cities in the twentieth century . As the old cities decayed, they were surrounded by a glittering array of shopping malls, corporate parks and residential communities whose newness seemingly underscored the inferiority of urban life . Although many old cities experienced much the same decline after World War II, few rivaled the losses which Newark sustained in population, vitality, and prestige. * * * * * The riots of July 1967 served as the coffin nails for a Jewish community that had for all intents and purposes died years before. The weeklong explosion of violence, aimed in significant part at Jewish merchants (Geltman describes rioters shouting get Goldberg! as they ravaged business establishments without care whether anyone was in them or not) destroyed the hopes of the few optimists who had dared hold out hope for the citys remaining Jews. Most of those Jews departed within the next few years, and by the mid-1970s there were few tangible signs left of Newarks glorious Jewish past. No matter how great a revival Newark may yet experience, writes Helmreich, it will bear little resemblance to the Newark that its Jewish population identified with. After all, Bnai Jeshurun [became] the Hopewell Baptist Church, Anshei Russia [became] home to the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and the Y that was a second home for thousands of Jews became, for a time, the abode of the Citadel of Hope Miracle Temple, now defunct. For Jews, Newark today is little more than a graveyard, figuratively and literally: The city is home to at most a few hundred Jewish residents and nearly 100 Jewish cemeteries. In the end, there may be no epitaph for Newark more moving or appropriate than that offered by journalism professor Jeffrey Brody, whose observations on the destruction wrought by the rioters of 67 are included by Helmreich in his book: Walking along the former business section, it seems inopportune to recall the names of former shops (Blausteins Furs, Kartzmans Deli, Kayes Drugs, Manhoffs Fishery, Masurs Furs, and Tabatchnicks the herring king, for example). Repeating their names is like reciting Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

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Every Jewish member of Trump’s administration should resign in protest – New York Daily News

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Thursday, August 17, 2017, 8:04 AM The Nazis play the race card, so I’m playing the Jew card: Why haven’t prominent Jewish members of the Trump administration quit yet? It’s a no-brainer: If you’re a Jew and your boss says nice things about people who marched in the street chanting anti-Semitic and Nazi-era slogans, you have to resign in protest. You have to say enough is enough to a guy who is so sympathetic to the white supremacist cause that he couldn’t even put out a simple Holocaust remembrance statement that mentioned, um, the Jewish victims of the Nazis. You have to make the ultimate statement to someone who believes that Nazi thugs are on the same moral plane as the people who stood up to them. Bushes, McConnell horrified by Trumps Charlottesville response Yet all we’re hearing from Jews in the Trump administration is silence and acquiescence or, worse, going about their jobs as if nothing has happened. Gary Cohn, head of the president’s National Economic Council, told his friends to tell the Times he was “disgusted” by the President’s remarks. Yet publicly, he has said nothing. Steven Mnuchin, the secretary of the Treasury, was literally standing at Trump’s side when the President blamed the violence on the anti-Nazis. He kept smiling. He has said nothing. Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and key adviser, is so proud of his Jewish faith that he observes Sabbath rules. Yet he has said nothing. Trump isn’t done blaming people for Charlottesville controversy Even those who have publicly disagreed with the President frankly, you don’t need much of a spine to condemn Nazis have stopped well short of making the ultimate show of defiance by quitting in protest. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made a big public speech on Wednesday in which he said he was “outraged” by what happened in Charlottesville. Shulkin called it a “dishonor to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged,” as indeed his boss had done. “I am not going to condone the beliefs of the Nazis or the white supremacists in any way,” Shulkin added. “White supremacists and Nazis have no place in American civil discourse and Americans should be speaking out against that.” He added that “staying silent on these issues is not acceptable.” And then he looked down at a piece of paper and started to quote the famous anti-Nazi Martin Niemller the guy who wrote the famous poem that begins, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…” Ivanka’s rabbi denounces Trump’s response to Charlottesville For a moment, I thought he would do the right thing and resign, not only on behalf of his fellow Jews, but on behalf of America’s dying World War II vets who, lest we forget, saved the world from the Nazis. That’s what usually happens when people nervously look down at a piece of paper and start quoting Niemller. But Shulkin pivoted away. So it has fallen to non-Jews to tell President Trump like the members of his now-disbanded manufacturing council that he’s wrong about the “good” Nazis. A prominent defender of President Trump has said that Jews in the administration don’t really have a choice to condemn the President because “It’s a no-win situation for them.” “If Mr. Mnuchin or Mr. Cohn issues a statement, then what?” Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser, told the Times. “They are supposed to resign? They have a responsibility to carry out their jobs.” I disagree; members of the government swear their allegiance to the Constitution, not any individual President. And it’s not unprecedented for high-placed government officials to quit when the President does something that anathema to American values. President Ford’s press secretary Jerry terHorst resigned in protest after Ford pardoned disgraced President Nixon. And George Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, stood up to the President when he wanted to expand a warrantless search program. So why won’t Trump administration Jews do the same? It’s so simple: No one, but least of all, Jews, should stand with anyone who gives aid and comfort to Nazis. And President Trump thinks some Nazis are “good people.” Resign.

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Exhibit featuring Jewish contributions to North Dakota comes to Bonanzaville – The Dickinson Press

The yearlong exhibit, titled “The North Dakota Jewish Experience:Shvitzing It Out on the Prairie,” explores the history and lives of Jewish homesteaders. The idea for the showcase was sparked after a May 21 rededication of the Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery in Ashley, N.D., which contains the graves of about 28 pioneer Jewish farmers. The rededication was followed by the July 4 placement of a plaque honoring Jewish settlers in the Dakota Territory next to South Pleasant Church at Bonanzaville. “Those events really sparked a lot of interest throughout the community,” said Bonanzaville Executive Director Brenda Warren. “We decided to educate our community and our visitors on what great contributions the Jewish immigrants made to North Dakota and our country.” Bonanzaville’s exhibit, which includes a timeline of Jewish and artifacts of Jewish culture donated by area families, opened to a reception attended by nearly 100 people on Tuesday, Aug. 15. “The story of North Dakota is a proud saga of hard work and dedication to the community,” said Rabbi Yonah Grossman, who founded the Chabad Jewish Center in Fargo. Jewish settlers made mark on North Dakota After the U.S. Homestead Act of 1862, flocks of immigrants made their way west and into the Dakota Territory, and thousands of Jewish settlers made their home in the upper Great Plains. At one time, North Dakota had the fourth largest number of homesteaders working plats of land, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. At least 800 Jewish individuals filed for land between 1880 and 1916, usually settling in clusters around the state. The first Jewish settlement in North Dakota was in 1882 when about 11 families settled near Devils Lake, according to the Bonanzaville exhibit. Millions of Jewish families were fleeing the Russian empire’s persecution during that time, including Rabbi Benjamin Papermaster, who arrived in Fargo in 1891 from Kovno, Lithuania. Papermaster settled in Grand Forks and organized a collection of Russian and German Jewish families into a congregation, serving as the rabbi of the Grand Forks Jewish community until 1934. As a circuit rabbi, he traveled across the area to circumcise babies, and officiate weddings, funerals and other events. In 1896, the Temple Beth El synagogue was chartered in Fargo. It remains one of only two active synagogues left in North Dakota, along with B’nai Israel Congregation in Grand Forks. Many settlers farmed or landed in towns created around the railroad lines and operated general stores. Over the years, many Jewish individuals made great impacts on Fargo and its economy. Myron Bright was a judge on the 8th District Circuit Court of Appeals from 1968 until his death in 2016. The longest-serving Fargo mayor was Herschel Lashkowitz, who stood at the city’s helm from 1954 to 1974. In 1968, Harold Doroshow and his wife opened North Dakota’s first McDonald’s in Fargo. Many Jewish families left the area after staying the necessary five years to acquire a full land title under the Homestead Act. North Dakota’s Jewish population is now about 400, which is fewer than any other state except South Dakota, according to Robin Doroshow, executive director of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest. Exhibit spotlights diversity in community Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the exhibit will help bring an understanding of different cultures to this area at a time when it is most needed. “We have to kill the hate,” Mahoney said. ” We all have to love one another, we have to love all of the cultures and the more we show these things about them, the more we can understand.” The exhibit will remain open until August 2018 and could become a permanent display, Warren said. Bonanzaville is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday through Aug. 31. The exhibit was created at the Bonanzaville pavilion with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, the Chabad Jewish Center of North Dakota, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. It was designed by Curator Typhanie Schaffer and North Dakota State University professor Angela Smith.

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Howard County Jewish community raises $10K for Jews in Uganda – Baltimore Sun

Famine in East Africa caught the attention of members of the Jewish Federation of Howard County last month when they learned of a small Jewish community in Uganda, known as the Abayudaya, who are suffering from starvation. In partnership with the Howard County Board of Rabbis, the local Jewish federation started an emergency fundraising campaign to help feed the Abayudaya, raising more than $10,000 in less than a week. As donations continue pouring in, the federation will keep the campaign open through the end of August, and are urging other communities to share their support. Funds are sent to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee humanitarian organization. Will Recant, a JDC assistant executive vice president, said they administer the funds through the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, which consists of dozens of Jewish organizations working to provide a united response to disasters or man-made crisis worldwide. The Jewish Coalition for East Africa Relief was the latest organization created about three months ago. Recant said funding is sent to Be’chol Lashon, a Jewish advocacy organization, which purchases the food for the Abayudaya community and oversees distribution. “Be’chol Lashon is delighted to partner with Abayudaya leader, Rabbi Sizomu and JDC to help alleviate the immediate need for food in the region, as well as improve agricultural practices and food management to anticipate future need, including collecting rain water, irrigation and storing surplus crops during the growing seasons,” said Diane Tobin, CEO of Be’Chol Lashon. The Abayudaya, which translates to “people of Judah,” consists of 2,000 Ugandan Jews, who are down to one meal a day because of widespread famine in Uganda, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan, Recant said. According to the Be’chol Lashon website, the Abayudaya was introduced to Judaism through leader Semei Kakungulu, who was a Christian missionary for the British, but followed the Hebrew Bible. The Abayudaya have practiced Judaism since the early 1900s and formally converted about 15 years ago. Federations in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Howard County as well as individuals, foundations and other Jewish groups raised about $36,500 as of Aug. 15 to provide food and water to suffering families. “We anticipate other funds to be coming in in the coming weeks,” Recant said. “We are very grateful to Howard County and the others who are rising up, gaining awareness of the issue and taking the action to provide much-needed assistance. It’s just heartwarming to see how responsive Howard County and the others have been.” In addition to emergency food distribution, the coalition is reviewing proposals for water purification and agricultural projects to benefit the Abayudaya and their Christian neighbors and better prepare them in the future. Recant said the food shortage is in large part due to the ongoing drought. Since the community relies heavily on crops, maize flour will be distributed. “We had the great famine of the early 1980s in Ethiopia, which was the largest famine of the last century,” Recant said. “Every 20 to 30 years, there’s drought and resulting famine in the regions. It’s a result of the weather patterns and conditions in that part of Africa that have been exacerbated by climate change. They’re seeing more severe droughts than we’ve had in the past that last longer.” Local response At least two members of the Abayudaya community have died from malnutrition, with 20 million lives at risk of illness and death in East Africa, said Ralph Grunewald, the interim executive director at the Jewish Federation of Howard County. When Grunewald first heard about the community’s suffering, he said he felt “deep sorrow and sadness” and immediately coordinated with federation President Beth Millstein, the Howard County Board of Rabbis and local synagogues to start a campaign. A $35 donation can feed one Abayudaya family for a week, he said. “I felt that as a Jewish community we could do something to alleviate the suffering that’s taking place there,” Grunewald said. “I set a goal of about $10,000 [because] it’s the amount needed to feed that entire community for one single day.” The Jewish Federation of Howard County kick-started the campaign with a $1,000 donation, followed by donations from Temple Isaiah; Lubavitch Center of Howard County; Bet Aviv; Beth Shalom; Shalom Aleichem; Columbia Jewish Congregation; Union for Reform Judaism; and Bet Chaverim. “The money is still coming in,” Millstein said. “I think it’s very gratifying that people are willing to step up and help, even for a group that they’ve never met who is halfway around the world.” Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, the chairwoman of the Howard County Board of Rabbis, said the Howard County Jewish community has a personal connection to the Abayudaya through its religious leader, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, a native of Uganda. Sizomu studied with Rabbi Craig Axler, of Temple Isaiah, in Fulton, during their years at Hebrew Union College in New York City. An ordained rabbi since 2008, Sizomu also studied in the U.S. for five years at the American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, Calif. In 2011, Sizomu ran to represent Uganda’s Bungokho North District in Parliament but lost. Sizomu ran again in the 2016 election and became the first Jewish candidate to win a seat in the country’s Parliament. “[Sizomu] is an extraordinarily intelligent, sensitive and dynamic rabbi who works tirelessly to take care of his community,” Scheinerman said. “He recently sent reports to us that people in his community are suffering greatly from food shortages. I’m sure the Abayudaya also has neighbors who we can be helping as well.” Sizomu said the donations from Howard County’s Jewish organizations and groups are addressing short- and long-term concerns. While funds help avert the food shortage, they also develop food security for the community in the future. “We are in the process of securing a food store where we will keep food during times of plenty to be used during times of scarcity,” Sizomu said. “We are also looking at starting mini irrigation projects so we can slowly break the over-dependance on rain.” The people are subsistence farmers and depend on nature and rain for their crops, he said. This season yielded poor crops due to lack of rain and army worm infestation. However, Sizomu said the community planted its second season of crops, which appear well. “The crops are doing much better and we expect a good yield this October,” he said. “We have received food aid from friends and the situation is under control. I have called upon friends and well-wishers to help and the response is, so far, very good.” Food is being shared with the Abayudaya’s non-Jewish neighbors, Sizomu said. Axler said he has stayed in touch with Sizomu over the years, watching him bring the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities together through mutual farming and coffee production. The emergency campaign is a wonderful effort, he said. “You think that hunger, starvation and famine is something that’s far away, but then it’s happening to somebody who you consider to be your brother and a part of your family,” Axler said. Rabbi Daniel Plotkin, a rabbi educator at Temple Isaiah, said the synagogue shared the campaign with its members, who quickly responded to the effort. “It’s a Jewish tradition dating back literally thousands of years: We take responsibility for Jews wherever they are in the world,” Plotkin said. “As the small community in Uganda is threatened, Jews with the financial resources at their disposal have an obligation to help and make sure our fellow Jews, wherever they are, are being taken care of.”

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Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism Around The Nation Is A Disturbing Trend – NPR

Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism Around The Nation Is A Disturbing Trend NPR The American Jewish community has been unsettled by the re-emergence of vocal anti-Semitism, largely believed to be a feature of the nation's past. Facebook; Twitter. Google+. Email. Get The Stories That Grabbed Us This Week. Delivered to your inbox …

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A Swiss hotel asks Jewish guests to shower before entering the pool – CNN International

“To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming,” one sign said. “If you break the rules I’m forced to cloes (sic) the swimming pool for you.” Another sign in the kitchen addressed to “our Jewish guests” said the hotel’s freezer would only be available from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. “I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time,” it read. Guests spotted the placards at the Paradies hotel in the Swiss resort village of Arosa. The news of the signs spread quickly after an outraged guest posted a picture to Facebook. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the incident “an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind” and demanded the person who posted the signs “be brought to justice.” Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni strongly condemned the placards — while also alluding to last weekend’s white supremacist rally in Virginia. “There is no place in the free world for Nazi flags, Ku Klux Klan masks, or disgusting notices in hotels that are aimed at Jews alone.” An Israeli guest told CNN affiliate Channel 2 that the hotel manager was nice to his family upon their arrival, and so they were shocked to find the posted signs. “No one addressed her because we didn’t want to start a confrontation,” he said, noting the hotel had many Jewish guests, mostly from the United States, the UK and Belgium. “It was very strange and the sort of anti-Semitic incident we have not been exposed to before,” he said. Paradies hotel manager Ruth Thomann did not respond to CNN’s calls for comment. However, Thomann defended herself to Swiss media, saying she is not anti-Semitic. Thomann told the Swiss newspaper Blick she was trying to address the issue of guests not showering before they used the pool during a period where many Jewish guests were staying at the hotel. “I made the sign without sensitivity and now I am paying for it dearly,” she told Blick. She also said the sign limiting the use of the freezer was misunderstood, and that she was only trying to help hotel staff. “As a service we offer to our Jewish guests, they can store their kosher food in our (staff) freezer,” she said. Thomann said she posted the sign to limit guests’ use of the freezer and to allow staff more privacy, according to Blick. The signs have since been removed, a representative with the Israeli Embassy in Switzerland said in a statement. CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Michael Schwartz contributed to this report.

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