Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

The Origins of the Jews exchange, part 2: On the gaps between the Jewish public and the scholars – Jewish Journal

Steven Weitzmanis the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literaturesand the Ella Darivoff Director of the Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Weitzman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University after completing his B.A. at UC Berkeley and spent several years teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, where he served as director of its Jewish Studies program for six years. Before moving to Penn, he was the Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and the director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Professor Weitzman is the author of several books, including Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity (Harvard University Press, 2005);Religion and the Self in Antiquity(Indiana University Press, 2005);The Jews: A History(Prentice Hall, 2009); and a biography of King Solomon (Yale University Press, 2011).

The following exchange will focus on Professor Weitzmans new book,The Origins of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age(Princeton University Press, 2017). You can find part 1 right here.

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Dear Professor Weitzman,

At the end of your last answer, you said the following:

I must acknowledge that the book will probably frustrate some readers, especially those who want a clear-cut answer or want to be reaffirmed in what they already believe. If I was to offer an accurate and comprehensive depiction of the scholarship, I would have to introduce readers to theories and information at odds with how some Jews see themselves and consider some challenging ideas and ways of thinking.

My second-round question: where, in your opinion, are there the biggest and most substantial gaps between the general Jewish publics perception of their origins and the scholars? What information and debates are most at odds with how some Jews see themselves?

Yours,

Shmuel

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Dear Shmuel,

For decades, archaeologists from places like Tel Aviv University have been challenging the conventional understanding of Jewish origins by calling into question the existence of Abraham and the other ancestors described in Genesis, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshuas conquest of Canaan and other events known from the Bible. Archaeologists have also challenged the Bibles claim that the earliest ancestors of the Israelites came to Canaan as outsiders by uncovering continuities between ancient Israelite culture and earlier indigenous Canaanite culture. Many archaeologists now hold that the earliest Israelites were in fact Canaanites who came to see themselves as non-Canaanites for some reason.

This kind of research isnt exactly new, but it remains unfamiliar to many people and continues to upset and provoke opposition because of the way it challenges Jewish self-understanding. This challengethe clash between how people see themselves and how their history has been reconstructed by scholarshipis part of what can make it difficult for readers to have an open-mind about some of the scholarship I am describing in the book.

The problem here isnt just that people are working with different understandings of what counts as a fact or who counts as an expert: the real gap runs deeper than that, reflecting a clash between different ways of thinking about origins.

My understanding of my own origin as a Jew is one I absorbed as a child. Why do I attend the Passover meal every year and try to visualize myself as if I had been present during the Exodus? Why do I feel kinship with Jews in Tel Aviv or Paris who I have never met? It is in part because of an origin story I learned as a child from parents and Hebrew school teachers who taught me that Jews share ancestors who went through the Exodus and were present at Sinai together. This answer to the question is something I imbibed early on from the people who shaped my sense of identity, and it is tied up with my feelings for them.

Secular scholarship, on the other, tends to be skeptical of the kinds of origin stories told by earlier generations, and this is true not just of how it accounts for the origin of the Jews but for how it explains the creation of the universe, the origin of humanity, and so forth. Apart from wanting to be true to reason and the evidence, scholars initially embraced such theories because they were seeking to liberate themselves from the grip of religion and tradition, of having to think in certain waysbecause the Church or rabbinical authorities told them they had to think in that way. To challenge the biblical accountto argue that the world originated in a way that was different from what religious tradition taughtwas to challenge religions power to define what was true and to assert ones freedom from its control.

The clash between these approaches to originreligious/personal versus secular/scholarlyis one reason why I expect the research I am reporting on will provoke frustration and anger from some readers: some of this scholarship challenges their religious beliefs or their beliefs about who they are, and it can be hard to think clearly about the subject because the scholarship can feel like an attack on ones sense of identity and feeling of connection to ones forbearers.

Another reason for a divide between the scholarship and some parts of the public is political, the way the scholarship has become part of Israels conflict with the Palestinians.

In one chapter, I look at a book entitledThe Invention of the Jewish Peopleby Shlomo Sand which provoked controversy a few years ago because of its critique of Zionism. Sand makes his argument against Israel by trying to disprove the origin story which he believes underpins Zionisms claim to the land of Canaan and justifies Israels mistreatment of the Palestinians. I subject Sands approach to critique, but it should be noted that the right has produced its own share of origin stories that can be critiqued on the same grounds. I just read a report about a book calledA History of the Palestinian Peoplethat was a best-seller on Amazon last week before it was removed from the site. What was offensiveabout the book is that it is completely blank, the authors way of arguing that the Palestinians are not a real people and have no real historyan argument that other scholars have made in more conventional ways. This is Sands argument in reverse, applied to the Palestinians instead of the Jews, and it is wrong for very similar methodological and historicalreasons even though it is coming from the other side of the political spectrum and makes its argument in a different way.

Here I am sympathetic to those who want to keep their distance from the scholarship. To me, it is fair to be skeptical of scholarship that wants to be accepted as true because of its appeal to the facts and yet so clearly misrepresents those factsor buries themto advance a particular political argument. This book is not an attempt to convince the public to accept thescholarship: it is an effort to present its pros and cons to helpreaders form their own informedopinions.

The scholarship I review can never answer the question of Jewish origin in the personally satisfying way that religion canin truth, it may never be able to answer the question at alland that may be a reason for some readers to simply ignore it. But for me, as a scholar and as a Jew committed to learning as a supreme value, I think the best way to counter objectionable or confusingscholarly ideas is not to brush them off but to learn about them and engage them.

Steve Weitzman

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The Origins of the Jews exchange, part 2: On the gaps between the Jewish public and the scholars – Jewish Journal

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Author of mysterious Voynich manuscript was Italian Jew, says scholar – The Guardian

Literary whodunnit a page from the Voynich manuscript. Photograph: Alamy

One of the worlds most confounding literary mysteries may finally be, in part, solved: the author of the mysterious and as-yet untranslatable Voynich manuscript has been identified as a Jewish physician based in northern Italy, an expert in medieval manuscripts has claimed.

The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated book printed on vellum written entirely in an indecipherable script, leaving scholars and code-breakers scratching their heads since it re-emerged a century ago.

Writing in the foreword of a new facsimile of the 15th-century codex, Stephen Skinner claims visual clues in each section provide evidence of the manuscripts author. If proved true, Skinner believes his theory will help unlock more secrets of the coded manuscript.

The scholar draws evidence for his theory of the authors identity from a range of illustrations in the manuscript, particularly a section in which naked women are depicted bathing in green pools supplied by intestinal-like pipes.

The doctor, whose work includes editing the spiritual diaries of the Tudor mystic John Dee, believes the illustrations show communal Jewish baths called mikvah, which are still used in Orthodox Judaism to clean women after childbirth or menstruation.

Pointing to the fact that the pictures show only nude women and no men, Skinner told the Guardian: The only place you see women like that bathing together in Europe at that time was in the purification baths that have been used by Orthodox Jews for the last 2,000 years.

He believes the drawings were of an invention designed by the mysterious author that aimed to ensure an efficient supply of clean water to a mikvah. I think there is no other explanation for what they are: it is either rank fantasy by the author which doesnt really fit with the medical, herbal and cosmological sections of the manuscript or it is a mikvah, he said.

Other evidence Skinner uses to support his theory include the lack of Christian symbolism in the manuscript unusual at a time of deep religious superstition, as the Inquisition enforced orthodox religion and punished any hint of heresy. There are no saints or crosses, not even in the cosmological sections, he said.

Considered in addition to the absence of religious symbolism, Skinner said, visual clues in the manuscript suggest its author was a Jewish physician and herbalist. Many of the plants depicted, alongside astrological charts, are medicinal herbs, such as opium and cannabis. In those days, doctors had to be astrologers as well, so they could determine the nature of an illness and treatment.

Although Jews were persecuted in the Inquisition, they were in demand as doctors due to their knowledge of Mediterranean botany, he added.

A visual clue to the geographical origin of the manuscript in northern Italy lies in a sketch of a castle with a swallow-tail on one page. The unusual design, Skinner believes, is a Ghibelline fortification found only in castles in northern Italy in the 15th century. Many of the regions towns, such as Pisa, had significant Jewish populations and could have inspired the Germanic style of some of the illustrations because the ruling family was allied to the German Holy Roman Emperor, instead of the pope.

He admitted his theory will have to be rigorously tested by other scholars, but added that he felt 85% certain he was right. Skinner, who is an expert in medieval esoteric manuscripts, said he was now searching European Jewish books from the period for similar language, codes, scripts or linguistic patterns to those in the Voynich.

Should he succeed, Skinner will have solved a problem that has frustrated academics, cryptographers and computer programming experts since it was discovered in 1912 by the Polish collector Wilfrid Voynich.

Although there were allegations that Voynich had faked the book, the vellum and ink has been carbon dated to between 1404 and 1438. The authorship of the manuscript has led to heated debate with characters as varied as Dee and Leonardo da Vinci being posited as responsible for the manuscript.

Dee has also been suggested as a possible owner of the Voynich manuscript, a claim refuted by Skinner because the Tudor doctor and mystic was a notorious vandal of manuscripts that came into his hands. The ladder-like symbol of his ownership is not on there and he hasnt written anything on it, he said, adding: A temptation is always to find a name that everyone recognises, but I think it is unlikely to be by anyone famous.

Skinner is hopeful that facsimiles of the manuscript will help decode it. If it is in bookshops, someone might pick it up and recognise something in it that they are working with in another field of scholarship, he said.

Asked what secrets he hopes it will reveal, he cited the medieval use of willow bark which provided the basis of aspirin: It would be lovely if the herbalist section provided cures for things that we have forgotten about.

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Jew | people | Britannica.com

Alternative Titles: Yhdh, Yehudi

Jew, Hebrew Yhdh, or Yehudi, any person whose religion is Judaism. In the broader sense of the term, a Jew is any person belonging to the worldwide group that constitutes, through descent or conversion, a continuation of the ancient Jewish people, who were themselves descendants of the Hebrews of the Old Testament. In ancient times, a Yhdh was originally a member of Judahi.e., either of the tribe of Judah (one of the 12 tribes that took possession of the Promised Land) or of the subsequent Kingdom of Judah (in contrast to the rival Kingdom of Israel to the north). The Jewish people as a whole, initially called Hebrews (Ivrim), were known as Israelites (Yisreelim) from the time of their entrance into the Holy Land to the end of the Babylonian Exile (538 bc). Thereafter, the term Yhdh (Latin: Judaeus; French: Juif; German: Jude; and English: Jew) was used to signify all adherents of Judaism, because the survivors of the Exile (former inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah) were the only Israelites who had retained their distinctive identity. (The 10 tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel had been dispersed after the Assyrian conquest of 721 bc and were gradually assimilated by other peoples). The term Jew is thus derived through the Latin Judaeus and the Greek Ioudaios from the Hebrew Yhdh. The latter term is an adjective occurring only in the later parts of the Old Testament and signifying a descendant of Yehudhah (Judah), the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, together with that of his half brother Benjamin, constituted the Kingdom of Judah.

In the modern world, a definition of Jew that would be satisfactory to all is virtually impossible to construct, for it involves ethnic and religious issues that are both complex and controversial. In daily life, for example, those who consider themselves Jews are generally accepted as such by Jews and non-Jews alike, even though such persons may not observe religious practices. While all Jews agree that a child born of a Jewish mother is Jewish, Reform Judaism goes beyond Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism in affirming that a child is Jewish if either one of the parents is a Jew.

From a purely religious standpoint, Gentile converts to Judaism are accepted as Jewish in the fullest sense of the word; but in Israel the rabbinate has often placed obstacles in the registration of Jews who were not converted under the supervision of Orthodox rabbis. For this reason the chief rabbinate of Israel has been confronted in recent years with perplexing problems regarding the religious status of certain immigrants. The Supreme Court of Israel, however, has been making incursions into rabbinic interpretations of personal status. Citizens of the State of Israel are called Israelis, a term carrying no ethnological or religious connotations.

…idea greater than the sum of the policies of which it was composed, Christendom best represents Europe as envisaged by those who thought and wrote about it. The existence of vigorous Jewish communitiesat times persecuted, as in Poland in 1648, but in places such as Amsterdam secure, prosperous, and creativeonly serves to emphasize the essential fact: Europe and…

Before the 11th century the Jews faced little persecution, lived among Christians, and even pursued the same occupations as Christians. The Jews restricted status after that time encouraged many of them to turn to moneylending, which only served to increase Christian hostility (Christians were forbidden to lend money to other Christians). Because the Jews often undertook on behalf of rulers…

The 16th century also witnessed a continuing deterioration in the status of western Jews. They had been expelled from England in 1290 and from France in 1306 (the first of several expulsions and readmissions). Riots and killings accompanying the Black Death (the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells) had pushed the centres of German Jewry (the Ashkenazim) to the east, into Poland, Lithuania,…

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Jew | people | Britannica.com

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Synagogue membership drops to lowest level in 30 years as … – Telegraph.co.uk

Membership of synagogues has fallen below 80,000 for the first time in 30 years as “mainstream” Jews marry out of the community, a report has found.

Despite a growing number of synagogues membership numbers have fallen by 20 per cent in a generation as more Jews become secular after marrying non-Jewish partners.

The report, by The Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, found that declining birth rates and increasing intermarriage mean the Jewish community is shrinking.

It said: “For certain sections of the community, the age at which people are choosing to have children is increasing and the number of children being born is declining.

“The overall effect of such trends may reduce the tendency of Jewish people to join synagogues.

Intermarriage also impacts on decisions about joining a synagogue, raising the question as to whether non-Jewish partners are welcomed by communities.

“Other factors also play their part: for example, the rise of more individualistic approaches to life and sceptical attitudes about the role of organised religion in society.

“Such shifts have led to Jewishness increasingly becoming a matter of choice rather than of birth, and making Jewish identity far more fluid’.”

While less observant communities are getting smaller, the report also found that strict Orthodox communities, also known as haredi, are growing, in part due to high birth rates.

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Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson holds secret meeting with Manchester Jews – Jewish Chronicle


Jewish Chronicle
Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson holds secret meeting with Manchester Jews
Jewish Chronicle
Members of Manchester's Jewish community held a secret meeting with Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League. The controversial meeting, which took place in Prestwich last week, was billed as a charity fundraiser, but …

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PM Modi visit holds special meaning for Indian Jews in Israel – Times of India

RAMLA: At a curry house in central Israel, a poster welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets patrons even before they encounter the rich scent of spices wafting from the kitchen.

Modi’s three-day visit+ beginning Tuesday the first ever of an Indian PM to Israel is a landmark moment for the Jewish state, a country seeking the friendship of powerful allies and customers for its advanced military equipment.

But for members of the small Jewish Indian community in Israel, the trip is a cause of genuine excitement and a unique opportunity to increase their visibility.

“There’s not a single (Indian) household that’s not talking about it. This is all people are talking about,” said Elazar Ashtivker, owner of the Maharaja restaurant in the city of Ramla, south of Tel Aviv.

“It’s historic,” he said.

The fast-talking 33-year-old’s parents, who were born in India, opened the restaurant in its first incarnation in the 1980s because they felt “the community was in decline”.

Initially, the restaurant served the Indian community nearly exclusively.

But in the 1990s the trend of Israelis travelling to Asia after completing their military service became wildly popular, and many returned home with a taste for the Maharaja’s spicy delicacies.

The restaurant serves what Ashtivker calls “mainstream Indian food” but also sells peppers, vegetables and imported spices.

The wording on the poster is in the colours of the Indian flag and invites members of the Indian community, in Hebrew and English, to a July 5 meeting with Modi in Tel Aviv.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Ashtivker said. “Everyone has signed up and everyone is going.”

“If you looked for Indians in Israel on the 5th you won’t find any. They’ll all be at the convention centre,” he said with a laugh.

Estimates put the number of Jews of Indian origin in Israel at about 100,000, according to Eliaz Dandeker, a historian and author documenting the community.

Even those of Indian-origin born in Israel maintain a “deep connection” to their ancestral homeland, said Dandeker, including through music, cinema, food and cultural events.

Events in Israel have featured appearances by Indian actors.

Jews made their way to India over the course of the last 3,000 years, and by and large have not suffered religious and racist persecution in the country.

They began coming to Israel en masse in the late 1940s and early 1950s for religious and other reasons.

Many of them settled in rural communities to become farmers, while others moved to peripheral towns throughout the country.

In the first years following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, many Indian immigrants abandoned their names and traditions as part of the era’s “melting pot” ideal.

“There’s more openness today” to Indian culture, the 34-year-old Dandeker said. “The younger generations want to know more.”

In his spice shop near the Maharaja, Shaul Divekar, who emigrated from India as a child, scoops red lentils from a sack into a plastic bag, chatting from behind his counter with two customers.

The conversation fluctuates between the goods that arrived from India and the prime minister who is about to.

Divekar proudly notes he is in charge of one of the seven buses taking Indian Israelis from Ramla to Wednesday’s meeting with Modi.

“He’s special,” Divekar said of PM Modi, a Bollywood music video playing on a laptop behind the cash register.

“He likes Jews,” proudly offers a tall bearded man in his 30s standing nearby the Indian DVD collection in Divekar’s store, his Hebrew heavy with an Indian accent.

Dandeker, the historian, notes that Jewish Indians in Israel have been called the “invisible Jews” since they are neither Ashkenazis from Europe nor Sephardis from Africa and the Middle East.

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California hate crimes up; blacks, Jews, gay men targets – The Mercury News

By DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The number of hate crimes in California increased about 11 percent last year, the second consecutive double-digit increase, but the overall number still was a third lower total than a decade ago, the states attorney general reported Monday.

Blacks, Jews and gay men were among the most frequent targets.

There were 931 such crimes reported statewide, nearly 100 more than in 2015. That equated to about one for every 42,000 Californians.

By comparison, there were 1,426 hate crimes reported in 2007, when the state had about 3 million fewer people than the more than 39 million in 2016.

More than half the crimes reported last year were based on the victims race or ethnicity. Hate crimes involving a victims sexual orientation increased about 10 percent, to 207 last year, with about three-quarters of those targeting gay men.

Less than 20 percent were because of the victims religion, and the number declined last year. Jews, not Muslims, were the most common targets even amid heated rhetoric by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign regarding potential terror threats from Muslims.

There are no statewide statistics on hate crimes in California since Trump took office in January.

Its the first back-to-back increase in hate crimes reported in California since 1996, though the number is less than half the spike that occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, when Jews also were the leading religious target, said criminologist Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The good news is we have a lower number of hate crimes than we have in the past. The bad news is the trend is up, he said. People feel disenfranchised, and theres a tribalistic tone that has come out.

He speculated that gay men may be seeing a spillover effect from the increased prominence of the LGBT community and discussions of same-sex marriages.

Trump has been blamed by many for coarsening the political rhetoric. Those on both sides of the political spectrum agree angry tweets from him and at him could lead some to violence.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said as much in a statement released with the annual statistics that are submitted to his office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorneys offices.

Words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk, he said.

Racially motivated attacks spurred much of the overall increase last year. They increased more than 20 percent, from 428 in 2015 to 519. Those targeting whites increased from 34 to 56; those against blacks from 231 to 251.

Nearly two-thirds of all the hate crimes reported last year were violent, while the rest were property crimes.

About 40 percent of crimes categorized as violent involved intimidation and 30 percent simple assault. About a quarter were aggravated assaults. Ninety percent of the property crimes involved vandalism.

More than 300 hate crime cases were forwarded to county prosecutors last year, and they filed charges in 220 of them. Of the cases completed by years end, more than 80 percent resulted in convictions.

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NC Pride On Yom Kippur Excludes Jews The Forward – Forward

Like many in the Jewish community, I was deeply troubled to see that the Chicago Dyke March kicked out three women for carrying pride flags adorned with the Star of David. The star, a proud symbol of Judaism, reportedly made some marchers feel unsafe. One ejected marcher told the Chicagoist, Being removed from this march because of my visible Jewish symbol actually makes me feel unsafe. I will wonder aloud if marchers would ever be kicked out of a pride event for carrying pride flags that include a Christian cross or Islamic star and crescent.

At pride events across the country, Jewish organizations and congregations march with pride flags that include the Star of David to represent LGBTQ and Jewish pride. It should go without saying that Jews who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer deserve to be supported, valued and included in LGBTQ events.

In my home state of North Carolina, NC Pride chose to schedule their 33rd annual LGBT festival on September 30, 2017, which is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of Judaism. Carolina Jews for Justice responded to this grossly inappropriate scheduling choice with a statement which read in part, No group of people, Jewish or otherwise, should have to choose between our LGBTQ identities and the other identities that are important to us and shape our lives. Would NC Pride ever schedule the pride festival on another religious holiday, such as Easter, Christmas or Eid Al-Fitr?

As the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill, Jill Madsen, told me, It is very upsetting that this was the date selected for this year. For the past few years the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community has had a large presence at the event [We] hosted a booth and had a float in the parade. Last year alone we had over 100 people marching with us. We continue to encourage people to send letters [to NC Pride] as it is important they hear from the community. We are working with our community partners to host a separate Pride event in October connected to Sukkot, so there is still an opportunity for the Jewish community to join together and show our support.

A longtime Jewish member of the LGBTQ community in North Carolina added, I am furious. It would be awful any year. But given the kerfuffle over the Chicago Dyke March, and the rise of anti-Semitic expression during the Trump campaign and administration, it feels like a body slam. I am deeply disappointed.

The NC Pride website states that inclusiveness and acceptance are the real gifts that we give to one another when we participate. However, not only is NC Pride holding their annual pride festival on Yom Kippur, but, as Rabbi Jen Feldman of Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill noted, Lets take a step back and recognize that the Pride parade is held every year on Shabbat and therefore by its nature may not be truly inclusive of the LGBTQ Jewish community.

As a longtime ally to the LGBTQ community, I have marched in pride celebrations and have supported LGBTQ family members and friends. I belong to a synagogue with a strong, public record on supporting the LGBTQ community and opposing HB2, the anti-LGBT statewide law. My synagogue and other local synagogues promote NC Pride in our newsletters and spaces. For example, at my synagogue, congregants are encouraged to participate in NC Pride and to practice Tolerance. Equality. Family. Jewish Values.

I am proud to be part of a Jewish community that promotes and embraces inclusion. I look forward to taking my children to pride celebrations and I expect to be included, not excluded, from Pride events. I strongly urge NC Pride and the larger LGBTQ community to be more inclusive, tolerant and respectful of their Jewish members and allies.

Peter Reitzes is a Jewish husband and father in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a person who stutters, a speech-language pathologist and writes on Jewish issues.

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

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Jews, Arabs to Gather in Jerusalem to Discuss ‘The Jordan Option’ – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Shay Levy / Flash 90

A Jewish-Muslim alliance which now has morphed into the International Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Center (IJMDC) is launching the first international-interdenominational conference to be held in Jerusalem this October. The gathering will focus on the heated topic of The Jordan Option: The Ultimate Alternate Solution with the alliance issuing a call for papers this week that describe ways to support such a solution.

IJMDC believes that peace will come to Arab and Jew alike through making Jordan into what it always intended to be, the rightful home for the Arabs of the British Mandate for Palestine and leaving the lands west of the Jordan to the Jews said Michael Ross, IJMDC director.

Jerusalem-based organizer Ted Belman, publisher and editor of the Israpundit Israeli blog, is slated to chair the event.

The list of speakers includes internationally known Jewish and Arab experts. Dr. Mudar Zahran, president of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition, is slated to be the keynote speaker.

David HaIvri, an independent geopolitical strategist who resides in Samaria Jewish community of Kfar Tapuach, said on Sunday (July 2) that he will speak on A realistic visions for utopic peace in the region.

HaIvri told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview, After over twenty years of being stuck in the loop of the two-state delusion and failed concepts of the Oslo peace process it is about time that decision-makers make room on the table for other proposals that might actually work.

Those who wish to divide the land of Israel and establish a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) state in its middle dont have a monopoly on wanting peaceful relations between Israel and her neighbors, or dreams normal and safe future for children of this land, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, he added.

Ross noted the event will be unique both for the content and the diversity of its speakers: We will be hearing from Arabs, Palestinians and Jordanians who will make the case for a much hoped-for change in Jordan. The timing could not be better, he added. President [Donald] Trump is hoping at this point to make the ultimate deal to solve the conflict which we believe this to be.

Ross said the call applied to legitimate, meaningful and thought-out papers outlining a wide range of issues, from how to foster or implement peace to how Jordan can be transformed into Palestine.

The event is set to take place in Jerusalem in the last part of October 2017. It will also be broadcast over the Internet. Paper submission is free but the price of entry costs NIS 100. Live internet participation is estimated t o cost approximately $7.50.

There are 12 confirmed speakers, with more expected. Their presentations fall into three categories: (1) Stating Facts; (2) The Solution and (3) The Pathway To Peace: How to Materialize a True Solution. In addition to Mudar Zahran, confirmed speakers include Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Scholar and Lecturer at Bar Ilan University; Martin Sherman, political analyst at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies; David Bedein, director of Israel Resource News Agency / Center for Near East Policy; David HaIvri, independent geopolitical strategist; former Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad, journalist Rachel Avraham and others.

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The Origins of the Jews exchange, part 2: On the gaps between the Jewish public and the scholars – Jewish Journal

Steven Weitzmanis the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literaturesand the Ella Darivoff Director of the Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Weitzman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University after completing his B.A. at UC Berkeley and spent several years teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, where he served as director of its Jewish Studies program for six years. Before moving to Penn, he was the Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and the director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Professor Weitzman is the author of several books, including Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity (Harvard University Press, 2005);Religion and the Self in Antiquity(Indiana University Press, 2005);The Jews: A History(Prentice Hall, 2009); and a biography of King Solomon (Yale University Press, 2011). The following exchange will focus on Professor Weitzmans new book,The Origins of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age(Princeton University Press, 2017). You can find part 1 right here. *** Dear Professor Weitzman, At the end of your last answer, you said the following: I must acknowledge that the book will probably frustrate some readers, especially those who want a clear-cut answer or want to be reaffirmed in what they already believe. If I was to offer an accurate and comprehensive depiction of the scholarship, I would have to introduce readers to theories and information at odds with how some Jews see themselves and consider some challenging ideas and ways of thinking. My second-round question: where, in your opinion, are there the biggest and most substantial gaps between the general Jewish publics perception of their origins and the scholars? What information and debates are most at odds with how some Jews see themselves? Yours, Shmuel *** Dear Shmuel, For decades, archaeologists from places like Tel Aviv University have been challenging the conventional understanding of Jewish origins by calling into question the existence of Abraham and the other ancestors described in Genesis, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshuas conquest of Canaan and other events known from the Bible. Archaeologists have also challenged the Bibles claim that the earliest ancestors of the Israelites came to Canaan as outsiders by uncovering continuities between ancient Israelite culture and earlier indigenous Canaanite culture. Many archaeologists now hold that the earliest Israelites were in fact Canaanites who came to see themselves as non-Canaanites for some reason. This kind of research isnt exactly new, but it remains unfamiliar to many people and continues to upset and provoke opposition because of the way it challenges Jewish self-understanding. This challengethe clash between how people see themselves and how their history has been reconstructed by scholarshipis part of what can make it difficult for readers to have an open-mind about some of the scholarship I am describing in the book. The problem here isnt just that people are working with different understandings of what counts as a fact or who counts as an expert: the real gap runs deeper than that, reflecting a clash between different ways of thinking about origins. My understanding of my own origin as a Jew is one I absorbed as a child. Why do I attend the Passover meal every year and try to visualize myself as if I had been present during the Exodus? Why do I feel kinship with Jews in Tel Aviv or Paris who I have never met? It is in part because of an origin story I learned as a child from parents and Hebrew school teachers who taught me that Jews share ancestors who went through the Exodus and were present at Sinai together. This answer to the question is something I imbibed early on from the people who shaped my sense of identity, and it is tied up with my feelings for them. Secular scholarship, on the other, tends to be skeptical of the kinds of origin stories told by earlier generations, and this is true not just of how it accounts for the origin of the Jews but for how it explains the creation of the universe, the origin of humanity, and so forth. Apart from wanting to be true to reason and the evidence, scholars initially embraced such theories because they were seeking to liberate themselves from the grip of religion and tradition, of having to think in certain waysbecause the Church or rabbinical authorities told them they had to think in that way. To challenge the biblical accountto argue that the world originated in a way that was different from what religious tradition taughtwas to challenge religions power to define what was true and to assert ones freedom from its control. The clash between these approaches to originreligious/personal versus secular/scholarlyis one reason why I expect the research I am reporting on will provoke frustration and anger from some readers: some of this scholarship challenges their religious beliefs or their beliefs about who they are, and it can be hard to think clearly about the subject because the scholarship can feel like an attack on ones sense of identity and feeling of connection to ones forbearers. Another reason for a divide between the scholarship and some parts of the public is political, the way the scholarship has become part of Israels conflict with the Palestinians. In one chapter, I look at a book entitledThe Invention of the Jewish Peopleby Shlomo Sand which provoked controversy a few years ago because of its critique of Zionism. Sand makes his argument against Israel by trying to disprove the origin story which he believes underpins Zionisms claim to the land of Canaan and justifies Israels mistreatment of the Palestinians. I subject Sands approach to critique, but it should be noted that the right has produced its own share of origin stories that can be critiqued on the same grounds. I just read a report about a book calledA History of the Palestinian Peoplethat was a best-seller on Amazon last week before it was removed from the site. What was offensiveabout the book is that it is completely blank, the authors way of arguing that the Palestinians are not a real people and have no real historyan argument that other scholars have made in more conventional ways. This is Sands argument in reverse, applied to the Palestinians instead of the Jews, and it is wrong for very similar methodological and historicalreasons even though it is coming from the other side of the political spectrum and makes its argument in a different way. Here I am sympathetic to those who want to keep their distance from the scholarship. To me, it is fair to be skeptical of scholarship that wants to be accepted as true because of its appeal to the facts and yet so clearly misrepresents those factsor buries themto advance a particular political argument. This book is not an attempt to convince the public to accept thescholarship: it is an effort to present its pros and cons to helpreaders form their own informedopinions. The scholarship I review can never answer the question of Jewish origin in the personally satisfying way that religion canin truth, it may never be able to answer the question at alland that may be a reason for some readers to simply ignore it. But for me, as a scholar and as a Jew committed to learning as a supreme value, I think the best way to counter objectionable or confusingscholarly ideas is not to brush them off but to learn about them and engage them. Steve Weitzman

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Author of mysterious Voynich manuscript was Italian Jew, says scholar – The Guardian

Literary whodunnit a page from the Voynich manuscript. Photograph: Alamy One of the worlds most confounding literary mysteries may finally be, in part, solved: the author of the mysterious and as-yet untranslatable Voynich manuscript has been identified as a Jewish physician based in northern Italy, an expert in medieval manuscripts has claimed. The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated book printed on vellum written entirely in an indecipherable script, leaving scholars and code-breakers scratching their heads since it re-emerged a century ago. Writing in the foreword of a new facsimile of the 15th-century codex, Stephen Skinner claims visual clues in each section provide evidence of the manuscripts author. If proved true, Skinner believes his theory will help unlock more secrets of the coded manuscript. The scholar draws evidence for his theory of the authors identity from a range of illustrations in the manuscript, particularly a section in which naked women are depicted bathing in green pools supplied by intestinal-like pipes. The doctor, whose work includes editing the spiritual diaries of the Tudor mystic John Dee, believes the illustrations show communal Jewish baths called mikvah, which are still used in Orthodox Judaism to clean women after childbirth or menstruation. Pointing to the fact that the pictures show only nude women and no men, Skinner told the Guardian: The only place you see women like that bathing together in Europe at that time was in the purification baths that have been used by Orthodox Jews for the last 2,000 years. He believes the drawings were of an invention designed by the mysterious author that aimed to ensure an efficient supply of clean water to a mikvah. I think there is no other explanation for what they are: it is either rank fantasy by the author which doesnt really fit with the medical, herbal and cosmological sections of the manuscript or it is a mikvah, he said. Other evidence Skinner uses to support his theory include the lack of Christian symbolism in the manuscript unusual at a time of deep religious superstition, as the Inquisition enforced orthodox religion and punished any hint of heresy. There are no saints or crosses, not even in the cosmological sections, he said. Considered in addition to the absence of religious symbolism, Skinner said, visual clues in the manuscript suggest its author was a Jewish physician and herbalist. Many of the plants depicted, alongside astrological charts, are medicinal herbs, such as opium and cannabis. In those days, doctors had to be astrologers as well, so they could determine the nature of an illness and treatment. Although Jews were persecuted in the Inquisition, they were in demand as doctors due to their knowledge of Mediterranean botany, he added. A visual clue to the geographical origin of the manuscript in northern Italy lies in a sketch of a castle with a swallow-tail on one page. The unusual design, Skinner believes, is a Ghibelline fortification found only in castles in northern Italy in the 15th century. Many of the regions towns, such as Pisa, had significant Jewish populations and could have inspired the Germanic style of some of the illustrations because the ruling family was allied to the German Holy Roman Emperor, instead of the pope. He admitted his theory will have to be rigorously tested by other scholars, but added that he felt 85% certain he was right. Skinner, who is an expert in medieval esoteric manuscripts, said he was now searching European Jewish books from the period for similar language, codes, scripts or linguistic patterns to those in the Voynich. Should he succeed, Skinner will have solved a problem that has frustrated academics, cryptographers and computer programming experts since it was discovered in 1912 by the Polish collector Wilfrid Voynich. Although there were allegations that Voynich had faked the book, the vellum and ink has been carbon dated to between 1404 and 1438. The authorship of the manuscript has led to heated debate with characters as varied as Dee and Leonardo da Vinci being posited as responsible for the manuscript. Dee has also been suggested as a possible owner of the Voynich manuscript, a claim refuted by Skinner because the Tudor doctor and mystic was a notorious vandal of manuscripts that came into his hands. The ladder-like symbol of his ownership is not on there and he hasnt written anything on it, he said, adding: A temptation is always to find a name that everyone recognises, but I think it is unlikely to be by anyone famous. Skinner is hopeful that facsimiles of the manuscript will help decode it. If it is in bookshops, someone might pick it up and recognise something in it that they are working with in another field of scholarship, he said. Asked what secrets he hopes it will reveal, he cited the medieval use of willow bark which provided the basis of aspirin: It would be lovely if the herbalist section provided cures for things that we have forgotten about.

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Jew | people | Britannica.com

Alternative Titles: Yhdh, Yehudi Jew, Hebrew Yhdh, or Yehudi, any person whose religion is Judaism. In the broader sense of the term, a Jew is any person belonging to the worldwide group that constitutes, through descent or conversion, a continuation of the ancient Jewish people, who were themselves descendants of the Hebrews of the Old Testament. In ancient times, a Yhdh was originally a member of Judahi.e., either of the tribe of Judah (one of the 12 tribes that took possession of the Promised Land) or of the subsequent Kingdom of Judah (in contrast to the rival Kingdom of Israel to the north). The Jewish people as a whole, initially called Hebrews (Ivrim), were known as Israelites (Yisreelim) from the time of their entrance into the Holy Land to the end of the Babylonian Exile (538 bc). Thereafter, the term Yhdh (Latin: Judaeus; French: Juif; German: Jude; and English: Jew) was used to signify all adherents of Judaism, because the survivors of the Exile (former inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah) were the only Israelites who had retained their distinctive identity. (The 10 tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel had been dispersed after the Assyrian conquest of 721 bc and were gradually assimilated by other peoples). The term Jew is thus derived through the Latin Judaeus and the Greek Ioudaios from the Hebrew Yhdh. The latter term is an adjective occurring only in the later parts of the Old Testament and signifying a descendant of Yehudhah (Judah), the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, together with that of his half brother Benjamin, constituted the Kingdom of Judah. In the modern world, a definition of Jew that would be satisfactory to all is virtually impossible to construct, for it involves ethnic and religious issues that are both complex and controversial. In daily life, for example, those who consider themselves Jews are generally accepted as such by Jews and non-Jews alike, even though such persons may not observe religious practices. While all Jews agree that a child born of a Jewish mother is Jewish, Reform Judaism goes beyond Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism in affirming that a child is Jewish if either one of the parents is a Jew. From a purely religious standpoint, Gentile converts to Judaism are accepted as Jewish in the fullest sense of the word; but in Israel the rabbinate has often placed obstacles in the registration of Jews who were not converted under the supervision of Orthodox rabbis. For this reason the chief rabbinate of Israel has been confronted in recent years with perplexing problems regarding the religious status of certain immigrants. The Supreme Court of Israel, however, has been making incursions into rabbinic interpretations of personal status. Citizens of the State of Israel are called Israelis, a term carrying no ethnological or religious connotations. …idea greater than the sum of the policies of which it was composed, Christendom best represents Europe as envisaged by those who thought and wrote about it. The existence of vigorous Jewish communitiesat times persecuted, as in Poland in 1648, but in places such as Amsterdam secure, prosperous, and creativeonly serves to emphasize the essential fact: Europe and… Before the 11th century the Jews faced little persecution, lived among Christians, and even pursued the same occupations as Christians. The Jews restricted status after that time encouraged many of them to turn to moneylending, which only served to increase Christian hostility (Christians were forbidden to lend money to other Christians). Because the Jews often undertook on behalf of rulers… The 16th century also witnessed a continuing deterioration in the status of western Jews. They had been expelled from England in 1290 and from France in 1306 (the first of several expulsions and readmissions). Riots and killings accompanying the Black Death (the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells) had pushed the centres of German Jewry (the Ashkenazim) to the east, into Poland, Lithuania,…

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Synagogue membership drops to lowest level in 30 years as … – Telegraph.co.uk

Membership of synagogues has fallen below 80,000 for the first time in 30 years as “mainstream” Jews marry out of the community, a report has found. Despite a growing number of synagogues membership numbers have fallen by 20 per cent in a generation as more Jews become secular after marrying non-Jewish partners. The report, by The Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, found that declining birth rates and increasing intermarriage mean the Jewish community is shrinking. It said: “For certain sections of the community, the age at which people are choosing to have children is increasing and the number of children being born is declining. “The overall effect of such trends may reduce the tendency of Jewish people to join synagogues. Intermarriage also impacts on decisions about joining a synagogue, raising the question as to whether non-Jewish partners are welcomed by communities. “Other factors also play their part: for example, the rise of more individualistic approaches to life and sceptical attitudes about the role of organised religion in society. “Such shifts have led to Jewishness increasingly becoming a matter of choice rather than of birth, and making Jewish identity far more fluid’.” While less observant communities are getting smaller, the report also found that strict Orthodox communities, also known as haredi, are growing, in part due to high birth rates.

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Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson holds secret meeting with Manchester Jews – Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Chronicle Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson holds secret meeting with Manchester Jews Jewish Chronicle Members of Manchester's Jewish community held a secret meeting with Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League. The controversial meeting, which took place in Prestwich last week, was billed as a charity fundraiser, but …

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PM Modi visit holds special meaning for Indian Jews in Israel – Times of India

RAMLA: At a curry house in central Israel, a poster welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets patrons even before they encounter the rich scent of spices wafting from the kitchen. Modi’s three-day visit+ beginning Tuesday the first ever of an Indian PM to Israel is a landmark moment for the Jewish state, a country seeking the friendship of powerful allies and customers for its advanced military equipment. But for members of the small Jewish Indian community in Israel, the trip is a cause of genuine excitement and a unique opportunity to increase their visibility. “There’s not a single (Indian) household that’s not talking about it. This is all people are talking about,” said Elazar Ashtivker, owner of the Maharaja restaurant in the city of Ramla, south of Tel Aviv. “It’s historic,” he said. The fast-talking 33-year-old’s parents, who were born in India, opened the restaurant in its first incarnation in the 1980s because they felt “the community was in decline”. Initially, the restaurant served the Indian community nearly exclusively. But in the 1990s the trend of Israelis travelling to Asia after completing their military service became wildly popular, and many returned home with a taste for the Maharaja’s spicy delicacies. The restaurant serves what Ashtivker calls “mainstream Indian food” but also sells peppers, vegetables and imported spices. The wording on the poster is in the colours of the Indian flag and invites members of the Indian community, in Hebrew and English, to a July 5 meeting with Modi in Tel Aviv. “There’s a lot of excitement,” Ashtivker said. “Everyone has signed up and everyone is going.” “If you looked for Indians in Israel on the 5th you won’t find any. They’ll all be at the convention centre,” he said with a laugh. Estimates put the number of Jews of Indian origin in Israel at about 100,000, according to Eliaz Dandeker, a historian and author documenting the community. Even those of Indian-origin born in Israel maintain a “deep connection” to their ancestral homeland, said Dandeker, including through music, cinema, food and cultural events. Events in Israel have featured appearances by Indian actors. Jews made their way to India over the course of the last 3,000 years, and by and large have not suffered religious and racist persecution in the country. They began coming to Israel en masse in the late 1940s and early 1950s for religious and other reasons. Many of them settled in rural communities to become farmers, while others moved to peripheral towns throughout the country. In the first years following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, many Indian immigrants abandoned their names and traditions as part of the era’s “melting pot” ideal. “There’s more openness today” to Indian culture, the 34-year-old Dandeker said. “The younger generations want to know more.” In his spice shop near the Maharaja, Shaul Divekar, who emigrated from India as a child, scoops red lentils from a sack into a plastic bag, chatting from behind his counter with two customers. The conversation fluctuates between the goods that arrived from India and the prime minister who is about to. Divekar proudly notes he is in charge of one of the seven buses taking Indian Israelis from Ramla to Wednesday’s meeting with Modi. “He’s special,” Divekar said of PM Modi, a Bollywood music video playing on a laptop behind the cash register. “He likes Jews,” proudly offers a tall bearded man in his 30s standing nearby the Indian DVD collection in Divekar’s store, his Hebrew heavy with an Indian accent. Dandeker, the historian, notes that Jewish Indians in Israel have been called the “invisible Jews” since they are neither Ashkenazis from Europe nor Sephardis from Africa and the Middle East.

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California hate crimes up; blacks, Jews, gay men targets – The Mercury News

By DON THOMPSON SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The number of hate crimes in California increased about 11 percent last year, the second consecutive double-digit increase, but the overall number still was a third lower total than a decade ago, the states attorney general reported Monday. Blacks, Jews and gay men were among the most frequent targets. There were 931 such crimes reported statewide, nearly 100 more than in 2015. That equated to about one for every 42,000 Californians. By comparison, there were 1,426 hate crimes reported in 2007, when the state had about 3 million fewer people than the more than 39 million in 2016. More than half the crimes reported last year were based on the victims race or ethnicity. Hate crimes involving a victims sexual orientation increased about 10 percent, to 207 last year, with about three-quarters of those targeting gay men. Less than 20 percent were because of the victims religion, and the number declined last year. Jews, not Muslims, were the most common targets even amid heated rhetoric by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign regarding potential terror threats from Muslims. There are no statewide statistics on hate crimes in California since Trump took office in January. Its the first back-to-back increase in hate crimes reported in California since 1996, though the number is less than half the spike that occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, when Jews also were the leading religious target, said criminologist Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. The good news is we have a lower number of hate crimes than we have in the past. The bad news is the trend is up, he said. People feel disenfranchised, and theres a tribalistic tone that has come out. He speculated that gay men may be seeing a spillover effect from the increased prominence of the LGBT community and discussions of same-sex marriages. Trump has been blamed by many for coarsening the political rhetoric. Those on both sides of the political spectrum agree angry tweets from him and at him could lead some to violence. Attorney General Xavier Becerra said as much in a statement released with the annual statistics that are submitted to his office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorneys offices. Words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk, he said. Racially motivated attacks spurred much of the overall increase last year. They increased more than 20 percent, from 428 in 2015 to 519. Those targeting whites increased from 34 to 56; those against blacks from 231 to 251. Nearly two-thirds of all the hate crimes reported last year were violent, while the rest were property crimes. About 40 percent of crimes categorized as violent involved intimidation and 30 percent simple assault. About a quarter were aggravated assaults. Ninety percent of the property crimes involved vandalism. More than 300 hate crime cases were forwarded to county prosecutors last year, and they filed charges in 220 of them. Of the cases completed by years end, more than 80 percent resulted in convictions.

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NC Pride On Yom Kippur Excludes Jews The Forward – Forward

Like many in the Jewish community, I was deeply troubled to see that the Chicago Dyke March kicked out three women for carrying pride flags adorned with the Star of David. The star, a proud symbol of Judaism, reportedly made some marchers feel unsafe. One ejected marcher told the Chicagoist, Being removed from this march because of my visible Jewish symbol actually makes me feel unsafe. I will wonder aloud if marchers would ever be kicked out of a pride event for carrying pride flags that include a Christian cross or Islamic star and crescent. At pride events across the country, Jewish organizations and congregations march with pride flags that include the Star of David to represent LGBTQ and Jewish pride. It should go without saying that Jews who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer deserve to be supported, valued and included in LGBTQ events. In my home state of North Carolina, NC Pride chose to schedule their 33rd annual LGBT festival on September 30, 2017, which is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of Judaism. Carolina Jews for Justice responded to this grossly inappropriate scheduling choice with a statement which read in part, No group of people, Jewish or otherwise, should have to choose between our LGBTQ identities and the other identities that are important to us and shape our lives. Would NC Pride ever schedule the pride festival on another religious holiday, such as Easter, Christmas or Eid Al-Fitr? As the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill, Jill Madsen, told me, It is very upsetting that this was the date selected for this year. For the past few years the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community has had a large presence at the event [We] hosted a booth and had a float in the parade. Last year alone we had over 100 people marching with us. We continue to encourage people to send letters [to NC Pride] as it is important they hear from the community. We are working with our community partners to host a separate Pride event in October connected to Sukkot, so there is still an opportunity for the Jewish community to join together and show our support. A longtime Jewish member of the LGBTQ community in North Carolina added, I am furious. It would be awful any year. But given the kerfuffle over the Chicago Dyke March, and the rise of anti-Semitic expression during the Trump campaign and administration, it feels like a body slam. I am deeply disappointed. The NC Pride website states that inclusiveness and acceptance are the real gifts that we give to one another when we participate. However, not only is NC Pride holding their annual pride festival on Yom Kippur, but, as Rabbi Jen Feldman of Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill noted, Lets take a step back and recognize that the Pride parade is held every year on Shabbat and therefore by its nature may not be truly inclusive of the LGBTQ Jewish community. As a longtime ally to the LGBTQ community, I have marched in pride celebrations and have supported LGBTQ family members and friends. I belong to a synagogue with a strong, public record on supporting the LGBTQ community and opposing HB2, the anti-LGBT statewide law. My synagogue and other local synagogues promote NC Pride in our newsletters and spaces. For example, at my synagogue, congregants are encouraged to participate in NC Pride and to practice Tolerance. Equality. Family. Jewish Values. I am proud to be part of a Jewish community that promotes and embraces inclusion. I look forward to taking my children to pride celebrations and I expect to be included, not excluded, from Pride events. I strongly urge NC Pride and the larger LGBTQ community to be more inclusive, tolerant and respectful of their Jewish members and allies. Peter Reitzes is a Jewish husband and father in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a person who stutters, a speech-language pathologist and writes on Jewish issues. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Jews, Arabs to Gather in Jerusalem to Discuss ‘The Jordan Option’ – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Shay Levy / Flash 90 A Jewish-Muslim alliance which now has morphed into the International Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Center (IJMDC) is launching the first international-interdenominational conference to be held in Jerusalem this October. The gathering will focus on the heated topic of The Jordan Option: The Ultimate Alternate Solution with the alliance issuing a call for papers this week that describe ways to support such a solution. IJMDC believes that peace will come to Arab and Jew alike through making Jordan into what it always intended to be, the rightful home for the Arabs of the British Mandate for Palestine and leaving the lands west of the Jordan to the Jews said Michael Ross, IJMDC director. Jerusalem-based organizer Ted Belman, publisher and editor of the Israpundit Israeli blog, is slated to chair the event. The list of speakers includes internationally known Jewish and Arab experts. Dr. Mudar Zahran, president of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition, is slated to be the keynote speaker. David HaIvri, an independent geopolitical strategist who resides in Samaria Jewish community of Kfar Tapuach, said on Sunday (July 2) that he will speak on A realistic visions for utopic peace in the region. HaIvri told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview, After over twenty years of being stuck in the loop of the two-state delusion and failed concepts of the Oslo peace process it is about time that decision-makers make room on the table for other proposals that might actually work. Those who wish to divide the land of Israel and establish a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) state in its middle dont have a monopoly on wanting peaceful relations between Israel and her neighbors, or dreams normal and safe future for children of this land, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, he added. Ross noted the event will be unique both for the content and the diversity of its speakers: We will be hearing from Arabs, Palestinians and Jordanians who will make the case for a much hoped-for change in Jordan. The timing could not be better, he added. President [Donald] Trump is hoping at this point to make the ultimate deal to solve the conflict which we believe this to be. Ross said the call applied to legitimate, meaningful and thought-out papers outlining a wide range of issues, from how to foster or implement peace to how Jordan can be transformed into Palestine. The event is set to take place in Jerusalem in the last part of October 2017. It will also be broadcast over the Internet. Paper submission is free but the price of entry costs NIS 100. Live internet participation is estimated t o cost approximately $7.50. There are 12 confirmed speakers, with more expected. Their presentations fall into three categories: (1) Stating Facts; (2) The Solution and (3) The Pathway To Peace: How to Materialize a True Solution. In addition to Mudar Zahran, confirmed speakers include Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Scholar and Lecturer at Bar Ilan University; Martin Sherman, political analyst at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies; David Bedein, director of Israel Resource News Agency / Center for Near East Policy; David HaIvri, independent geopolitical strategist; former Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad, journalist Rachel Avraham and others.

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