Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

Is Bannon Planning ‘War’ On Jared And Ivanka Or The Jews? – Forward

Steve Bannon is preparing to launch an all-out war against some of President Trumps closest Jewish advisers but he hopes to avoid it being framed as a fight against the Jews.

The ousted chief White House strategist is already back at the helm of Breitbart, the right-wing news website Bannon ran before joining Trumps campaign. According to reports, Bannon is also in talks with Sinclair Broadcasting, Americas largest network of local TV stations. Joining the two platforms could give Bannon an even more powerful pulpit to go after globalist forces in the Trump White House and the Republican Party.

Topping the list of Bannon targets are Trumps daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as the presidents chief economic adviser Gary Cohn. All three are Jewish. Also on Bannons target list are national security adviser H. R. McMaster and his deputy Dina Powell.

Bannons focus on Trumps Jewish advisers has not gone unnoticed and Bannon himself seems to be struggling with the notion that his fight will be frames as a battle against Jewish influence. According to a detailed behind-the-scenes Vanity Fair report, Bannon is especially galled, according to one of his allies, at being called an anti-Semite.

In fact, he credits himself as being the one who had fought for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem (as indicated on his famous whiteboard task list that was captured in a selfie by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach) and of holding a hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Kushner argued for postponing the embassy relocation and has spent his time shuffling between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Bannon refused to even enter the room when Trump met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, telling his aides he does not want to breath the same air as that terrorist.

Could a concerted effort by Bannon against Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Cohn be used to portray him as holding an anti-Jewish bias?

A Jewish Republican source said Bannon will seek to avoid that by stressing the non-Jews on his target list and Jews on his side of the battle line, including senior White House adviser Stephen Miller and Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak.

It may also help to frame the battle as part of a larger struggle for the heart and mind of Trump and his right-wing base.

For some, talking about New York globalists and about Jared and Ivanka will sound like code words for Jews, but for most people this is just part of the culture war inside the White House, said the Republican source.

We are so ridiculously amped up in our condemnation of anything and everyone we dont agree with, said Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Steve Bannon is a hero to some and a villain to others. Hes likely neither of them, but thats the image he wants to project, and the image his detractorswant to promote.

The Vanity Fair report illustrated just how focused Bannon is now on taking his fight against White House moderates to the public sphere. We have a duty to the country to be the vanguard of The Movement, Bannon reportedly told Breitbart staff on a conference call hours after news of his departure spread, singling out Ivanka, Kushner and Cohn, as well as hawks McMaster and Powell. Breitbarts news editor Alex Marlow told Vanity Fair that Bannon wants to beat their ideas into submission.

The mutual animosity between Bannon and Javanka, a nickname describing Jared and Ivanka made popular by Bannon, is no secret. Kushner and Ivanka, alongside Cohn and others in the White House, were engaged in a battle of ideas with Bannon and his allies over the true spirit of the Trump presidency – a mainstream, fiscal conservative one, as the New York wing saw it, or a term defined by populism and economic nationalism.

Bannon had little respect for Javanka, telling his staff, according to the New York Times that the couple had nave political instincts. A Bannon ally used clearer terms, telling Vanity Fair that Bannon called Kushner a dope.

But while the ideological rift between the two rivaling powers in Trumps Oval Office had been clear ever since the inauguration, events in Charlottesville and Bannons ouster highlighted another undertone: the role played by Jared and Ivankas Jewish faith.

A Daily Mail report published over the weekend claimed that Ivanka and Jared pushed out Bannon from the White House, because his far-right views clashed with their Jewish faith. The report was based on unnamed Washington sources and was later denied by the White House as totally false but regardless of its reliability, Breitbart, already under the helm of Bannon, featured the story on its home page.

Breitbarts editorial decisions in recent days offer a peek into the way Bannons war will play out.

The website featured a set of critical reports on General McMaster, on Kushner and on Ivanka. All share a similar theme: these advisers are incompetent and are advancing an agenda that contradicts that of Trump. Bannons challenge would be to intensify this attack line, without being viewed as singling out the Jewish members of the team.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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Is Bannon Planning ‘War’ On Jared And Ivanka Or The Jews? – Forward

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Jerry Lewis Was the Quintessential American Jew – New York Times

Photo Credit Associated Press

Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday at 91, was not a man often overlooked, or pigeonholed. But in reckoning with his legacy, there is often one surprising omission. Hes rarely featured in discussions of the pantheon of mid-20th century Jewish comedy. Possibly this was because of his overwhelming popularity, tending to remove the necessity for any qualifying adjective. Looking at pictures of the crowds flocking to catch a glimpse of him and his partner, Dean Martin, at their hotels, youd think you were witnessing Beatlemania. Only Martin and Lewis were 10 years earlier.

It certainly had something to do with his comedy itself, which was rarely, if ever, identifiably Jewish in the manner of Lenny Bruce, Mel Brooks or Woody Allen. But Mr. Lewiss most successful work was, in its own way, a fundamental part of the great story of Jewish comedy in America a story that also functions as a microcosm of American Jewish life writ large. It was a metaphor for the successes, and the anxieties, of a generation of postwar American Jews of the 1950s: busily engaged, often extraordinarily successful, and trying to prove they were no different than everyone else. They wanted to believe they were the same, and yet their creative success, paradoxically, was borne of the tension that their very real difference created.

The comedians two most accomplished successes are cases in point. The Martin and Lewis partnership worked (spectacularly) in the way most comic duos do: the juxtaposition of opposites. Mr. Martin was the suave, elegant straight man; Mr. Lewis was manic and kinetic. As far as Mr. Lewis got, maybe a part of him couldnt help but feel that he got there because there was a Mr. Martin to show who he wasnt and, in fact, couldnt be.

Maybe Mr. Lewiss aspiration to Mr. Martins genteel gentility while at the same time realizing and fearing that the very reason people adored him was because of his shtick was part of the tension that eventually broke up the team. Not that there werent many other reasons, and the insecurity certainly flowed both ways, but this aspect wasnt particularly subtle. Its certainly significant, for example, that one of Mr. Lewiss post-Martin and Lewis efforts ventured directly into Mr. Martins territory, recording an album of standards called Jerry Lewis Just Sings. But this tension took on a much wider significance when, a few years later, Mr. Lewis re-addressed his yearnings in his comedic masterpiece, a movie that, without a single rabbi anywhere, has almost as much to say about American Jewish life and particularly the hopes for and anxieties about fitting in and making it than any other movie of the period.

The Nutty Professor, is a 1963 comedy about a nebbishy, klutzy college professor named Julius Kelp, who, taking a page from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, drinks a serum he concocts in order to turn into somebody else. But while Stevensons Victorian doctor wants to allow his less socially accepted urges free rein, Mr. Lewiss comical zhlub a kind of Mad magazine parody come to life turns into a cool nightclub singer, Buddy Love. Whether Buddy Love was based on Mr. Martin or not (opinion is divided: Mr. Lewis said he wasnt, and almost everyone else believed he was), he was certainly the apotheosis of a kind of American Jewish yearning: the man women wanted; the man men wanted to be. Julius Kelp (note that weedy early 20th century Jewish name) was who Jews feared everyone thought they were.

After the movie came out, Mr. Lewis admitted he was surprised at that one aspect of its success. He had written Buddy Love as a bad guy, as a way to help Kelp (and audiences) learn that you have to like yourself to have others like you. The movie ends with the love interest confessing she preferred the nutty genius to the sexy crooner. But audiences preferred Love, in a big way.

Mr. Lewiss bemusement about that phenomenon spoke to an essential American Jewish truth of the period, wrought truer in his film than perhaps he knew: Did a collectively imagined American dream appeal more strongly than your personal history? Can you really have both, without a magic potion, or split personality? And if so, which one would you rather give up?

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Dana Milbank: The Trump administration’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Salt Lake Tribune

Theyll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trumps administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not very fine people, as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

1000 Jews Pray at Tomb of Joshua bin Nun – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi / Flash 90

IDF soldiers with the Ephraim Brigade, Border Guard Police and Israel Police all accompanied 1,000 Jewish worshipers on a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Joshua bin Nun in the wee hours of Monday for prayers.

The holy site is located in the Arab village of Kfil Harat in Samaria, near the Jewish city of Ariel.

The village is situated in Area B, whose security is jointly administered by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but whose civil administration falls solely under the Palestinian Authority.

Israelis are technically allowed to enter the village, and it is accessible via roads branching from Highway 60, which leads some people to make the mistake of thinking they can go there on their own which they cant.

One must make arrangements with the IDF and security forces in order to make a trip to the Tomb of Joshua Bin Nun.

It is true that the village is technically accessible to Israelis; but that doesnt make it safe.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Vice Reporter: White Nationalists Were Chanting About Jews, Not Confederate Statues – Haaretz

‘They also are focusing on what they call aesthetics. They want to look middle class, successful, good looking’

The Vice News reporter who documented the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia was on CBS’s “Face the Nation” (a show Trump calls “deface the nation”) on Sunday saying the marchers were chanting about Jews, not the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“Once they started marching, they didn’t talk about Robert E. Lee being a brilliant military tactician. They chanted about Jews. Like, they wanted to be menacing. It’s not an accident,” Elle Reevetold CBS News’ John Dickerson.

Reeve continued, “These guys didn’t live together, hang out together. They just swarmed together online. And so this is a movement to hold physical space.”

“They’ve taken tactics from left wing organizers and show that they’re strong and they have camaraderie. And they also are focusing on what they call aesthetics. They want to look middle class, successful, good looking. They don’t want to look like the old, as they called it, white trash racist of the old times,” she said.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Jews Must Stop Viewing Racial Justice Organizers As A Threat – Forward

The aftermath of the deadly white supremacist violence at the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville over the weekend has left marginalized communities across the country traumatized. It has also resurfaced long simmering debates on racial justice brought to a head in the Trump era.

The stated reason for the rally, a protest of the towns decision to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee in a local park, has prompted increased examinations of the lasting legacy of chattel slavery in the United States, and the removal of several other confederate statues by both government officials and local activists across the country. The virulently anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi slogans, ideology, and imagery of the white nationalist marchers has left many in the Jewish community rightfully alarmed and seeking solidarity with the broader U.S. racial justice movement, led by activist coalitions like Black Lives Matter.

Many in the Jewish community have leaned on existing relationships with communities of color, including Jews of Color living at the intersections of U.S. white supremacy and anti-Semitism, to respond to these events. But some have fallen into disturbing patterns of lashing out at Black and Brown activists or else refusing to do the introspection and relationship-building work needed to meaningfully participate. This type of reaction only solidifies serious issues of racism within the Jewish community, and creates further barriers to meaningful coalition-building between marginalized peoples. And its got to stop.

Take for example an article published in the Washington Post two days after the Charlottesville attack. Written by Yair Rosenberg, the piece argues that racial justice advocates should set aside conversations of Jewish whiteness for the sake of fighting anti-Semitism because the Charlottesville Nazis did. Once the white supremacists are consigned to the ash heap of history, we can return to contesting claims of Jewishness and whiteness, he writes. Until then, however, the question is at best a distraction from fighting racism and at worst a path to perpetuating it.

While Rosenberg is right that Jews deserve a place in interfaith anti-racist struggle, he dismisses and belittles the basic work such a struggle demands. The discussion of varying Jewish access to whiteness in the United States is not an abstract exercise, but an honest and much-needed examination of power and privilege under systems of state oppression.

Rosenbergs piece itself is an example of the necessity of doing such work, as he wrongfully represents Jews as having a single race to debate, rather than having a multiplicity of racial identities and experiences of oppression. This way of discussing Jewish identity erases Jews of color, who have been the primary force pushing these discussions in our community, and implicitly treats white American Jewish identity as the default. His argument isnt a denial of the fact that Jews can be white, but rather a demand that it remain unspoken, and that the crucial questions of privilege that ensue from the debate of whiteness be shunted, at least for now.

The impact of this position is to not only to reject basic tenets of the racial justice struggle, but to steamroll the ongoing racial justice struggle within the Jewish community.

But this attempt to sideline these questions is not unique to Rosenberg. Its part and parcel of some long-held anxieties of some in the Jewish community around issues of intersectionality anxieties which are especially dangerous when some in our ranks have openly taken the side of white nationalists, specifically in opposition to those fighting back against their racism.

Take for example Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus son Yair Netanyahu, who took to Facebook to declare Black Lives Matter a bigger threat than white nationalists. The neo nazis scums [sic] in Virginia hate me and my country, wrote Netanyahu. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out However the thugs of Antifa and [Black Lives Matter] who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger.

Along similar lines, a post in Jews News, an Israeli right-wing news site run by Boston-born Eliyokim Cohen, declared, Im an Orthodox Jew in Israel but liberals have become so deranged with hypocrisy, Im actually standing with the KKK on Charlottesville. Hardline pro-Israel extremist groups like the JDL have also sided with white-nationalists in the past, even at the expense of Jewish communities under attack like those in Richard Spencers hometown of Whitefish, Montana.

Such open identification with white-nationalists over and against the racial minorities targeted by them is obviously at the extreme end of the Jewish political spectrum. There are many shades of grey between arguing that we should put aside the question of whether Jews are white on the one hand, and full on denial of the dangers of white supremacists on the other. But if you deny Jews of Color, and people of color more broadly, the right to point out white privilege even among Jews, you are opening the door the same kind of denial of white privilege thats so rampant in white supremacy.

Indeed, the sad truth is that the extreme right are not been the only ones in the Jewish community to treat Black Lives Matter and other racial justice organizers with suspicion and hostility. Since the outbreak of the Ferguson protests, mainstream and even left-leaning Jewish groups have maligned Black and Brown activists over everything from tactics to political associations.

Jewish community spaces have rescinded support and local JCRCs distanced themselves from broad-based BLM organizing following the Movement for Black Lives Platforms language supporting Palestinian rights, the result of long-standing ties to between Black and Palestinian organizers. This phenomenon has lead to the treatment of Black and Brown communities struggling for justice as a potential threat to Jews, and an almost knee-jerk reaction from some in the Jewish left who view anti-racist organizers as gatekeepers to intersectional struggle, rather than allies to build with.

This week, Jewish television-star Mayim Bialik caused an uproar when she took to Facebook to call out the March for Racial Justice, for scheduling their national gathering on September 30 this year, a day that coincides with Yom Kippur. The stated reason for the date of the POC-led march was to mark the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre, the 1919 mass lynching of over 200 Black people in Arkansas.

Without acknowledging the tragic history behind the marchs date, Bialik called the scheduling absurd and linked to an article about the exclusion of pro-Israel Jews from intersectional protest spaces in solidarity with Palestine. This caused an immediate backlash within the Jewish community, with many condemning the march date as exclusionary without further reflection.

While many spoke up to demand Jewish representation in the march, little of this reaction engaged with the poignant reasons for the events date, causing an outcry from some Jewish activists of color.

After working with Jewish organizers, the March for Racial Justice released a beautiful statement apologizing and acknowledging the meaning behind the Yom Kippur fast, and pledging a number of accommodations for observant Jews unable to attend the March 30th event. In a moving show of grace, much more than theydreceived from some in the Jewish community, organizers declared:

We are marching in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters who are observing the holiest of days on the Jewish calendar. Holding fast to Jewish tradition is also an act of resistance, in the face of growing anti-Semitism. We recognize and lift up the intersection of anti-Semitism and racism perpetrated by white supremacists, whether they wave Confederate flags, don swastikas, beat and kill people on the streets in Charlottesville, deface Holocaust memorials, or threaten and harass members of our communities and our religious and community spaces.

In releasing this statement March for Racial Justice organizers modeled the exact kind of solidarity many in the Jewish community have been asking for but sadly unwilling to engage in themselves. Real racial justice struggle is courageous work that involves self-examination, honest assessments of privilege, and a willingness to admit and be accountable for harm. Black and Brown organizers, both inside and outside the Jewish community, must be treated as partners to build with, and not gatekeepers or potential threats. Anti-racist organizing is not a commodity to be fought over, but something you build with your brothers and sisters in struggle.

Rebecca Pierce is an African-American and Jewish filmmaker, activist and journalist. She is a core member of the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi (JOCSM) Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace, where she is Editor-in-Chief of the racial justice blog Unruly.

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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Why The Solar Eclipse Must Be Bad For The Jews Or So Says The Talmud – Forward

Across the United States, Jews are gathering in anticipation of the historic Great American Eclipse, particularly in cities known as ideal spots to experience the phenomenon.

But at the downtown Brith Shalom Beth Israel synagogue Sunday evening, nestled in the historic southern city perfectly positioned for the Monday event, Dr. Jeremy Brown had bad news for a group who had gathered for a kosher meal on Eclipse Eve: in traditional Judaism, an eclipse is nothing to celebrate.

Eclipses happen because people sin, he said. Theres no getting around it, Brown says. The Talmud – the central text of rabbinic Judaism – is unambiguous in its interpretation of eclipses – both lunar and solar, as a form of divine punishment – a curse to be dreaded and feared, rather than a miraculous wonder of nature.

If that isnt bad enough, Brown told his audience of Charleston locals and Jews who had come to the city for the big event, the four sins specifically blamed by the Talmud plunging the earth into eerie darkness are so notably bizarre and politically incorrect, that nobody really wants to talk about them. skip – eclipse embed

What are they?

The failure to properly bury the leader of a Rabbinic Court

If a betrothed girl cries out as she is being raped and there is no one to save her

Homosexuality

If two brothers were killed at the same time.

If these reasons sound random and unrelated with no possible connection, fear not – said Brown. Even the great medieval rabbi, Rashi, normally relied upon for his clear and concise Talmudic explanation of just about everything, was uncharacteristically clueless in the case of eclipse-triggering transgressions, writing I have not heard any explanation for this.

Brown, a doctor, who wrote the book New Heavens and a New Earth: The Jewish reception of Copernican Thought and recently published an article on halachic and philosophical aspects of the 2017 eclipse traveled from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland to Charleston to fully experience the eclipse first-hand.

For centuries, he notes, rabbis have wrestled with the Talmudic attitude towards eclipse. It contains, he notes, an inherent illogic in the Jewish approach that was clear even hundreds of years ago. Eclipses are a natural occurrence that is utterly predictable, they will take place no matter what any human being does. So how in the world, rabbis and scholars have asked, could they possibly be a result of sin or any form of human behavior?

As far back as 1609, Brown said, the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yehuda Loew tried to justify the Talmudic text by theorizing if we lived in a world without sin, no eclipses would happen. In his view, since human fallibility and sin are both inevitable, so was an eclipse. That attitude, however, leans closer to the Christian concept of original sin than to the traditional Jewish beliefs.

Another big problem with the Maharals theory as far as Jews are concerned, he observed – if there were never any eclipses, it would have to mean that the moon wouldnt ever be able to orbit in the same plane as the sun and the earth. The only way for there to be no solar eclipses in the Maharals imaginary sin-free universe would be for the moon to orbit the earth at 90 to the sun-earth axis. Then it would never come between the sun and the earth, says Brown. This would wreak havoc with the Jewish calendar, which is based on lunar patterns – preventing Rosh Chodesh the beginning of the Hebrew month, that Jews consider a kind of a holiday.

The conundrum continued in the modern era, with famed Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson positing in 1957 that while a solar eclipse was predictable, the local weather was most certainly not. So presumably, if it was a cloudy day and the eclipse wasnt visible, people hadnt been sinful, but if it was clear and the sight was eerily abnormal – that meant the sins had taken place.

Schneerson was emphatic when it came to those who might be inspired to bless the event, writing that it is forbidden to institute a blessing that is not mentioned in the Talmud. And some say that the reason that no blessing was instituted is because the eclipse is a bad omen. Brown says that the rebbe believed that if Jews should pray for anything – it would be that the eclipse shouldnt happen. Or maybe they should just cry gevalt!

But, over the years, he notes it seems attitudes have softened. When Israels current Chief Rabbi David Lau was asked in 2006 was asked whether it wasnt perhaps possible to view such a cosmic occurrence in a positive light and even say a blessing when it occurs if they feel a religious stirring. In his response, Lau admitted that he himself had also been awed when witnessing an eclipse, but that because the rabbis of the Talmudic era had not prescribed a blessing over an eclipse, it was not possible to institute such a blessing today. He added, however, that there was nothing wrong with reciting an appropriately celebratory and worshipful psalm, and even recommended a few for the occasion.

Brown, an observant Jew himself, endorses Laus approach, as do, he says, most of todays rabbis. Even though an official eclipse prayer may technically be out-of-bounds for the faithful, he thinks a memorable celestial event is indeed an occasion joyful attention and wonder – no matter what the Talmud says. ]

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Dana Milbank: The Trump administration’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Chippewa Herald

WASHINGTON What Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner did last week or, rather, what they didnt do is a shanda.

Theyll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trumps administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not very fine people, as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing.

All three let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what Trump said Kushner even got out word that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had counseled Trump otherwise but none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare.

We have seen such a character before in Jewish history: the stadlan. The stadlan, or court Jew, existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king. He would dress like other members of the court, and he would beg the king for leniency toward the Jews but, ultimately, his loyalty was to the king.

I thought we were past the age of the stadlan. So did my rabbi, Danny Zemel. These guys are the princes of American business power, he said. If they cant find an ounce of moral fiber from their own Jewish past, were in a very sorry way.

That past is as ancient as the Bible. Abraham argued with God, urging the Almighty not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the innocent. Moses, seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, struck the offender, buried him in the sand, and fled from Pharaoh. The daily Jewish liturgy includes the 146th Psalm, praying to a God who brings justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry, who lifts up those who are bowed down, who upholds the widow and the orphan and who brings the wicked to ruin.

Certainly, Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner have a particular obligation as Jews, because the violent white supremacists in Charlottesville were targeting Jews with their swastikas and chants of Jews will not replace us and Sieg Heil. One of their leaders told Vice News Tonight it was objectionable that Trump would give his daughter to a Jew. A few stood outside a synagogue brandishing rifles, forcing Sabbath worshipers to slip out a back door.

But Jews, because of our recent history, know what results from silence in the face of any type of bigotry. Before Trump dabbled in anti-Semitism, he made scapegoats of immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos and, especially, Muslims. Two years ago, when I described the many actions that made candidate Trump a bigot and a racist, I noted that he hadnt yet gone after Jews. That followed soon: the tweeted image of a Star of David atop paper money, and the speech and ads linking Jews to a secret global power structure.

This racist demagoguery now comes from the president of the United States. In tweets Thursday, Trump proclaimed his sadness at the removal of our beautiful Confederate statues, and he revived the bogus claim that, a century ago, Gen. John J. Pershing dipped bullets in pig blood before shooting Muslim prisoners.

Why is it so hard to condemn such filth? David Shulkin did. Trumps veterans affairs secretary, who is Jewish (and an Obama administration holdover), said what needed to be said: I do feel like as an American and as a member of the Cabinet, that I can speak for my own personal opinions on this, and I am outraged by the behavior that I have seen with the Nazis and the white supremacists.

Shulkin said he will continue to speak. Staying silent on these issues is not acceptable, he said.

Even the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trumps conversion, Haskel Lookstein, joined in a statement saying he was deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered.

Even Sheldon Adelsons Republican Jewish Coalition called for greater moral clarity from Trump, saying there are no good Nazis.

As I write this, my 13-year-old has come into my office and said the neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville synagogue make her reluctant to return to Hebrew school. She also asks if our family will be a target because people know Im Jewish.

This is what Trump has done to America. And this is what Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner allow with their shameful silence.

Do they prize their appointments so much? Well then, dont quit. Speak out. Let him fire you. But dont play the court Jew.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

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Enemies, a Love Story: North African Jews and Muslims in France – TLV1 Radio

This season of the Tel Aviv Review is made possible by The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, which promotes humanistic, democratic, and liberal values in the social discourse in Israel.

Tel Aviv Review is also supported by the Public Discourse Grant from the Israel Institute, which is dedicated to strengthening the field of Israel Studies in order to promote knowledge and enhance understanding of modern Israel.

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Is Bannon Planning ‘War’ On Jared And Ivanka Or The Jews? – Forward

Steve Bannon is preparing to launch an all-out war against some of President Trumps closest Jewish advisers but he hopes to avoid it being framed as a fight against the Jews. The ousted chief White House strategist is already back at the helm of Breitbart, the right-wing news website Bannon ran before joining Trumps campaign. According to reports, Bannon is also in talks with Sinclair Broadcasting, Americas largest network of local TV stations. Joining the two platforms could give Bannon an even more powerful pulpit to go after globalist forces in the Trump White House and the Republican Party. Topping the list of Bannon targets are Trumps daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as the presidents chief economic adviser Gary Cohn. All three are Jewish. Also on Bannons target list are national security adviser H. R. McMaster and his deputy Dina Powell. Bannons focus on Trumps Jewish advisers has not gone unnoticed and Bannon himself seems to be struggling with the notion that his fight will be frames as a battle against Jewish influence. According to a detailed behind-the-scenes Vanity Fair report, Bannon is especially galled, according to one of his allies, at being called an anti-Semite. In fact, he credits himself as being the one who had fought for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem (as indicated on his famous whiteboard task list that was captured in a selfie by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach) and of holding a hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Kushner argued for postponing the embassy relocation and has spent his time shuffling between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Bannon refused to even enter the room when Trump met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, telling his aides he does not want to breath the same air as that terrorist. Could a concerted effort by Bannon against Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Cohn be used to portray him as holding an anti-Jewish bias? A Jewish Republican source said Bannon will seek to avoid that by stressing the non-Jews on his target list and Jews on his side of the battle line, including senior White House adviser Stephen Miller and Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak. It may also help to frame the battle as part of a larger struggle for the heart and mind of Trump and his right-wing base. For some, talking about New York globalists and about Jared and Ivanka will sound like code words for Jews, but for most people this is just part of the culture war inside the White House, said the Republican source. We are so ridiculously amped up in our condemnation of anything and everyone we dont agree with, said Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Steve Bannon is a hero to some and a villain to others. Hes likely neither of them, but thats the image he wants to project, and the image his detractorswant to promote. The Vanity Fair report illustrated just how focused Bannon is now on taking his fight against White House moderates to the public sphere. We have a duty to the country to be the vanguard of The Movement, Bannon reportedly told Breitbart staff on a conference call hours after news of his departure spread, singling out Ivanka, Kushner and Cohn, as well as hawks McMaster and Powell. Breitbarts news editor Alex Marlow told Vanity Fair that Bannon wants to beat their ideas into submission. The mutual animosity between Bannon and Javanka, a nickname describing Jared and Ivanka made popular by Bannon, is no secret. Kushner and Ivanka, alongside Cohn and others in the White House, were engaged in a battle of ideas with Bannon and his allies over the true spirit of the Trump presidency – a mainstream, fiscal conservative one, as the New York wing saw it, or a term defined by populism and economic nationalism. Bannon had little respect for Javanka, telling his staff, according to the New York Times that the couple had nave political instincts. A Bannon ally used clearer terms, telling Vanity Fair that Bannon called Kushner a dope. But while the ideological rift between the two rivaling powers in Trumps Oval Office had been clear ever since the inauguration, events in Charlottesville and Bannons ouster highlighted another undertone: the role played by Jared and Ivankas Jewish faith. A Daily Mail report published over the weekend claimed that Ivanka and Jared pushed out Bannon from the White House, because his far-right views clashed with their Jewish faith. The report was based on unnamed Washington sources and was later denied by the White House as totally false but regardless of its reliability, Breitbart, already under the helm of Bannon, featured the story on its home page. Breitbarts editorial decisions in recent days offer a peek into the way Bannons war will play out. The website featured a set of critical reports on General McMaster, on Kushner and on Ivanka. All share a similar theme: these advisers are incompetent and are advancing an agenda that contradicts that of Trump. Bannons challenge would be to intensify this attack line, without being viewed as singling out the Jewish members of the team. Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Jerry Lewis Was the Quintessential American Jew – New York Times

Photo Credit Associated Press Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday at 91, was not a man often overlooked, or pigeonholed. But in reckoning with his legacy, there is often one surprising omission. Hes rarely featured in discussions of the pantheon of mid-20th century Jewish comedy. Possibly this was because of his overwhelming popularity, tending to remove the necessity for any qualifying adjective. Looking at pictures of the crowds flocking to catch a glimpse of him and his partner, Dean Martin, at their hotels, youd think you were witnessing Beatlemania. Only Martin and Lewis were 10 years earlier. It certainly had something to do with his comedy itself, which was rarely, if ever, identifiably Jewish in the manner of Lenny Bruce, Mel Brooks or Woody Allen. But Mr. Lewiss most successful work was, in its own way, a fundamental part of the great story of Jewish comedy in America a story that also functions as a microcosm of American Jewish life writ large. It was a metaphor for the successes, and the anxieties, of a generation of postwar American Jews of the 1950s: busily engaged, often extraordinarily successful, and trying to prove they were no different than everyone else. They wanted to believe they were the same, and yet their creative success, paradoxically, was borne of the tension that their very real difference created. The comedians two most accomplished successes are cases in point. The Martin and Lewis partnership worked (spectacularly) in the way most comic duos do: the juxtaposition of opposites. Mr. Martin was the suave, elegant straight man; Mr. Lewis was manic and kinetic. As far as Mr. Lewis got, maybe a part of him couldnt help but feel that he got there because there was a Mr. Martin to show who he wasnt and, in fact, couldnt be. Maybe Mr. Lewiss aspiration to Mr. Martins genteel gentility while at the same time realizing and fearing that the very reason people adored him was because of his shtick was part of the tension that eventually broke up the team. Not that there werent many other reasons, and the insecurity certainly flowed both ways, but this aspect wasnt particularly subtle. Its certainly significant, for example, that one of Mr. Lewiss post-Martin and Lewis efforts ventured directly into Mr. Martins territory, recording an album of standards called Jerry Lewis Just Sings. But this tension took on a much wider significance when, a few years later, Mr. Lewis re-addressed his yearnings in his comedic masterpiece, a movie that, without a single rabbi anywhere, has almost as much to say about American Jewish life and particularly the hopes for and anxieties about fitting in and making it than any other movie of the period. The Nutty Professor, is a 1963 comedy about a nebbishy, klutzy college professor named Julius Kelp, who, taking a page from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, drinks a serum he concocts in order to turn into somebody else. But while Stevensons Victorian doctor wants to allow his less socially accepted urges free rein, Mr. Lewiss comical zhlub a kind of Mad magazine parody come to life turns into a cool nightclub singer, Buddy Love. Whether Buddy Love was based on Mr. Martin or not (opinion is divided: Mr. Lewis said he wasnt, and almost everyone else believed he was), he was certainly the apotheosis of a kind of American Jewish yearning: the man women wanted; the man men wanted to be. Julius Kelp (note that weedy early 20th century Jewish name) was who Jews feared everyone thought they were. After the movie came out, Mr. Lewis admitted he was surprised at that one aspect of its success. He had written Buddy Love as a bad guy, as a way to help Kelp (and audiences) learn that you have to like yourself to have others like you. The movie ends with the love interest confessing she preferred the nutty genius to the sexy crooner. But audiences preferred Love, in a big way. Mr. Lewiss bemusement about that phenomenon spoke to an essential American Jewish truth of the period, wrought truer in his film than perhaps he knew: Did a collectively imagined American dream appeal more strongly than your personal history? Can you really have both, without a magic potion, or split personality? And if so, which one would you rather give up?

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Dana Milbank: The Trump administration’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Salt Lake Tribune

Theyll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trumps administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not very fine people, as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

1000 Jews Pray at Tomb of Joshua bin Nun – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi / Flash 90 IDF soldiers with the Ephraim Brigade, Border Guard Police and Israel Police all accompanied 1,000 Jewish worshipers on a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Joshua bin Nun in the wee hours of Monday for prayers. The holy site is located in the Arab village of Kfil Harat in Samaria, near the Jewish city of Ariel. The village is situated in Area B, whose security is jointly administered by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but whose civil administration falls solely under the Palestinian Authority. Israelis are technically allowed to enter the village, and it is accessible via roads branching from Highway 60, which leads some people to make the mistake of thinking they can go there on their own which they cant. One must make arrangements with the IDF and security forces in order to make a trip to the Tomb of Joshua Bin Nun. It is true that the village is technically accessible to Israelis; but that doesnt make it safe.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Vice Reporter: White Nationalists Were Chanting About Jews, Not Confederate Statues – Haaretz

‘They also are focusing on what they call aesthetics. They want to look middle class, successful, good looking’ The Vice News reporter who documented the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia was on CBS’s “Face the Nation” (a show Trump calls “deface the nation”) on Sunday saying the marchers were chanting about Jews, not the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. “Once they started marching, they didn’t talk about Robert E. Lee being a brilliant military tactician. They chanted about Jews. Like, they wanted to be menacing. It’s not an accident,” Elle Reevetold CBS News’ John Dickerson. Reeve continued, “These guys didn’t live together, hang out together. They just swarmed together online. And so this is a movement to hold physical space.” “They’ve taken tactics from left wing organizers and show that they’re strong and they have camaraderie. And they also are focusing on what they call aesthetics. They want to look middle class, successful, good looking. They don’t want to look like the old, as they called it, white trash racist of the old times,” she said. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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Jews Must Stop Viewing Racial Justice Organizers As A Threat – Forward

The aftermath of the deadly white supremacist violence at the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville over the weekend has left marginalized communities across the country traumatized. It has also resurfaced long simmering debates on racial justice brought to a head in the Trump era. The stated reason for the rally, a protest of the towns decision to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee in a local park, has prompted increased examinations of the lasting legacy of chattel slavery in the United States, and the removal of several other confederate statues by both government officials and local activists across the country. The virulently anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi slogans, ideology, and imagery of the white nationalist marchers has left many in the Jewish community rightfully alarmed and seeking solidarity with the broader U.S. racial justice movement, led by activist coalitions like Black Lives Matter. Many in the Jewish community have leaned on existing relationships with communities of color, including Jews of Color living at the intersections of U.S. white supremacy and anti-Semitism, to respond to these events. But some have fallen into disturbing patterns of lashing out at Black and Brown activists or else refusing to do the introspection and relationship-building work needed to meaningfully participate. This type of reaction only solidifies serious issues of racism within the Jewish community, and creates further barriers to meaningful coalition-building between marginalized peoples. And its got to stop. Take for example an article published in the Washington Post two days after the Charlottesville attack. Written by Yair Rosenberg, the piece argues that racial justice advocates should set aside conversations of Jewish whiteness for the sake of fighting anti-Semitism because the Charlottesville Nazis did. Once the white supremacists are consigned to the ash heap of history, we can return to contesting claims of Jewishness and whiteness, he writes. Until then, however, the question is at best a distraction from fighting racism and at worst a path to perpetuating it. While Rosenberg is right that Jews deserve a place in interfaith anti-racist struggle, he dismisses and belittles the basic work such a struggle demands. The discussion of varying Jewish access to whiteness in the United States is not an abstract exercise, but an honest and much-needed examination of power and privilege under systems of state oppression. Rosenbergs piece itself is an example of the necessity of doing such work, as he wrongfully represents Jews as having a single race to debate, rather than having a multiplicity of racial identities and experiences of oppression. This way of discussing Jewish identity erases Jews of color, who have been the primary force pushing these discussions in our community, and implicitly treats white American Jewish identity as the default. His argument isnt a denial of the fact that Jews can be white, but rather a demand that it remain unspoken, and that the crucial questions of privilege that ensue from the debate of whiteness be shunted, at least for now. The impact of this position is to not only to reject basic tenets of the racial justice struggle, but to steamroll the ongoing racial justice struggle within the Jewish community. But this attempt to sideline these questions is not unique to Rosenberg. Its part and parcel of some long-held anxieties of some in the Jewish community around issues of intersectionality anxieties which are especially dangerous when some in our ranks have openly taken the side of white nationalists, specifically in opposition to those fighting back against their racism. Take for example Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus son Yair Netanyahu, who took to Facebook to declare Black Lives Matter a bigger threat than white nationalists. The neo nazis scums [sic] in Virginia hate me and my country, wrote Netanyahu. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out However the thugs of Antifa and [Black Lives Matter] who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger. Along similar lines, a post in Jews News, an Israeli right-wing news site run by Boston-born Eliyokim Cohen, declared, Im an Orthodox Jew in Israel but liberals have become so deranged with hypocrisy, Im actually standing with the KKK on Charlottesville. Hardline pro-Israel extremist groups like the JDL have also sided with white-nationalists in the past, even at the expense of Jewish communities under attack like those in Richard Spencers hometown of Whitefish, Montana. Such open identification with white-nationalists over and against the racial minorities targeted by them is obviously at the extreme end of the Jewish political spectrum. There are many shades of grey between arguing that we should put aside the question of whether Jews are white on the one hand, and full on denial of the dangers of white supremacists on the other. But if you deny Jews of Color, and people of color more broadly, the right to point out white privilege even among Jews, you are opening the door the same kind of denial of white privilege thats so rampant in white supremacy. Indeed, the sad truth is that the extreme right are not been the only ones in the Jewish community to treat Black Lives Matter and other racial justice organizers with suspicion and hostility. Since the outbreak of the Ferguson protests, mainstream and even left-leaning Jewish groups have maligned Black and Brown activists over everything from tactics to political associations. Jewish community spaces have rescinded support and local JCRCs distanced themselves from broad-based BLM organizing following the Movement for Black Lives Platforms language supporting Palestinian rights, the result of long-standing ties to between Black and Palestinian organizers. This phenomenon has lead to the treatment of Black and Brown communities struggling for justice as a potential threat to Jews, and an almost knee-jerk reaction from some in the Jewish left who view anti-racist organizers as gatekeepers to intersectional struggle, rather than allies to build with. This week, Jewish television-star Mayim Bialik caused an uproar when she took to Facebook to call out the March for Racial Justice, for scheduling their national gathering on September 30 this year, a day that coincides with Yom Kippur. The stated reason for the date of the POC-led march was to mark the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre, the 1919 mass lynching of over 200 Black people in Arkansas. Without acknowledging the tragic history behind the marchs date, Bialik called the scheduling absurd and linked to an article about the exclusion of pro-Israel Jews from intersectional protest spaces in solidarity with Palestine. This caused an immediate backlash within the Jewish community, with many condemning the march date as exclusionary without further reflection. While many spoke up to demand Jewish representation in the march, little of this reaction engaged with the poignant reasons for the events date, causing an outcry from some Jewish activists of color. After working with Jewish organizers, the March for Racial Justice released a beautiful statement apologizing and acknowledging the meaning behind the Yom Kippur fast, and pledging a number of accommodations for observant Jews unable to attend the March 30th event. In a moving show of grace, much more than theydreceived from some in the Jewish community, organizers declared: We are marching in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters who are observing the holiest of days on the Jewish calendar. Holding fast to Jewish tradition is also an act of resistance, in the face of growing anti-Semitism. We recognize and lift up the intersection of anti-Semitism and racism perpetrated by white supremacists, whether they wave Confederate flags, don swastikas, beat and kill people on the streets in Charlottesville, deface Holocaust memorials, or threaten and harass members of our communities and our religious and community spaces. In releasing this statement March for Racial Justice organizers modeled the exact kind of solidarity many in the Jewish community have been asking for but sadly unwilling to engage in themselves. Real racial justice struggle is courageous work that involves self-examination, honest assessments of privilege, and a willingness to admit and be accountable for harm. Black and Brown organizers, both inside and outside the Jewish community, must be treated as partners to build with, and not gatekeepers or potential threats. Anti-racist organizing is not a commodity to be fought over, but something you build with your brothers and sisters in struggle. Rebecca Pierce is an African-American and Jewish filmmaker, activist and journalist. She is a core member of the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi (JOCSM) Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace, where she is Editor-in-Chief of the racial justice blog Unruly. 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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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Why The Solar Eclipse Must Be Bad For The Jews Or So Says The Talmud – Forward

Across the United States, Jews are gathering in anticipation of the historic Great American Eclipse, particularly in cities known as ideal spots to experience the phenomenon. But at the downtown Brith Shalom Beth Israel synagogue Sunday evening, nestled in the historic southern city perfectly positioned for the Monday event, Dr. Jeremy Brown had bad news for a group who had gathered for a kosher meal on Eclipse Eve: in traditional Judaism, an eclipse is nothing to celebrate. Eclipses happen because people sin, he said. Theres no getting around it, Brown says. The Talmud – the central text of rabbinic Judaism – is unambiguous in its interpretation of eclipses – both lunar and solar, as a form of divine punishment – a curse to be dreaded and feared, rather than a miraculous wonder of nature. If that isnt bad enough, Brown told his audience of Charleston locals and Jews who had come to the city for the big event, the four sins specifically blamed by the Talmud plunging the earth into eerie darkness are so notably bizarre and politically incorrect, that nobody really wants to talk about them. skip – eclipse embed What are they? The failure to properly bury the leader of a Rabbinic Court If a betrothed girl cries out as she is being raped and there is no one to save her Homosexuality If two brothers were killed at the same time. If these reasons sound random and unrelated with no possible connection, fear not – said Brown. Even the great medieval rabbi, Rashi, normally relied upon for his clear and concise Talmudic explanation of just about everything, was uncharacteristically clueless in the case of eclipse-triggering transgressions, writing I have not heard any explanation for this. Brown, a doctor, who wrote the book New Heavens and a New Earth: The Jewish reception of Copernican Thought and recently published an article on halachic and philosophical aspects of the 2017 eclipse traveled from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland to Charleston to fully experience the eclipse first-hand. For centuries, he notes, rabbis have wrestled with the Talmudic attitude towards eclipse. It contains, he notes, an inherent illogic in the Jewish approach that was clear even hundreds of years ago. Eclipses are a natural occurrence that is utterly predictable, they will take place no matter what any human being does. So how in the world, rabbis and scholars have asked, could they possibly be a result of sin or any form of human behavior? As far back as 1609, Brown said, the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yehuda Loew tried to justify the Talmudic text by theorizing if we lived in a world without sin, no eclipses would happen. In his view, since human fallibility and sin are both inevitable, so was an eclipse. That attitude, however, leans closer to the Christian concept of original sin than to the traditional Jewish beliefs. Another big problem with the Maharals theory as far as Jews are concerned, he observed – if there were never any eclipses, it would have to mean that the moon wouldnt ever be able to orbit in the same plane as the sun and the earth. The only way for there to be no solar eclipses in the Maharals imaginary sin-free universe would be for the moon to orbit the earth at 90 to the sun-earth axis. Then it would never come between the sun and the earth, says Brown. This would wreak havoc with the Jewish calendar, which is based on lunar patterns – preventing Rosh Chodesh the beginning of the Hebrew month, that Jews consider a kind of a holiday. The conundrum continued in the modern era, with famed Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson positing in 1957 that while a solar eclipse was predictable, the local weather was most certainly not. So presumably, if it was a cloudy day and the eclipse wasnt visible, people hadnt been sinful, but if it was clear and the sight was eerily abnormal – that meant the sins had taken place. Schneerson was emphatic when it came to those who might be inspired to bless the event, writing that it is forbidden to institute a blessing that is not mentioned in the Talmud. And some say that the reason that no blessing was instituted is because the eclipse is a bad omen. Brown says that the rebbe believed that if Jews should pray for anything – it would be that the eclipse shouldnt happen. Or maybe they should just cry gevalt! But, over the years, he notes it seems attitudes have softened. When Israels current Chief Rabbi David Lau was asked in 2006 was asked whether it wasnt perhaps possible to view such a cosmic occurrence in a positive light and even say a blessing when it occurs if they feel a religious stirring. In his response, Lau admitted that he himself had also been awed when witnessing an eclipse, but that because the rabbis of the Talmudic era had not prescribed a blessing over an eclipse, it was not possible to institute such a blessing today. He added, however, that there was nothing wrong with reciting an appropriately celebratory and worshipful psalm, and even recommended a few for the occasion. Brown, an observant Jew himself, endorses Laus approach, as do, he says, most of todays rabbis. Even though an official eclipse prayer may technically be out-of-bounds for the faithful, he thinks a memorable celestial event is indeed an occasion joyful attention and wonder – no matter what the Talmud says. ]

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Dana Milbank: The Trump administration’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Chippewa Herald

WASHINGTON What Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner did last week or, rather, what they didnt do is a shanda. Theyll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trumps administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not very fine people, as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing. All three let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what Trump said Kushner even got out word that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had counseled Trump otherwise but none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare. We have seen such a character before in Jewish history: the stadlan. The stadlan, or court Jew, existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king. He would dress like other members of the court, and he would beg the king for leniency toward the Jews but, ultimately, his loyalty was to the king. I thought we were past the age of the stadlan. So did my rabbi, Danny Zemel. These guys are the princes of American business power, he said. If they cant find an ounce of moral fiber from their own Jewish past, were in a very sorry way. That past is as ancient as the Bible. Abraham argued with God, urging the Almighty not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the innocent. Moses, seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, struck the offender, buried him in the sand, and fled from Pharaoh. The daily Jewish liturgy includes the 146th Psalm, praying to a God who brings justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry, who lifts up those who are bowed down, who upholds the widow and the orphan and who brings the wicked to ruin. Certainly, Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner have a particular obligation as Jews, because the violent white supremacists in Charlottesville were targeting Jews with their swastikas and chants of Jews will not replace us and Sieg Heil. One of their leaders told Vice News Tonight it was objectionable that Trump would give his daughter to a Jew. A few stood outside a synagogue brandishing rifles, forcing Sabbath worshipers to slip out a back door. But Jews, because of our recent history, know what results from silence in the face of any type of bigotry. Before Trump dabbled in anti-Semitism, he made scapegoats of immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos and, especially, Muslims. Two years ago, when I described the many actions that made candidate Trump a bigot and a racist, I noted that he hadnt yet gone after Jews. That followed soon: the tweeted image of a Star of David atop paper money, and the speech and ads linking Jews to a secret global power structure. This racist demagoguery now comes from the president of the United States. In tweets Thursday, Trump proclaimed his sadness at the removal of our beautiful Confederate statues, and he revived the bogus claim that, a century ago, Gen. John J. Pershing dipped bullets in pig blood before shooting Muslim prisoners. Why is it so hard to condemn such filth? David Shulkin did. Trumps veterans affairs secretary, who is Jewish (and an Obama administration holdover), said what needed to be said: I do feel like as an American and as a member of the Cabinet, that I can speak for my own personal opinions on this, and I am outraged by the behavior that I have seen with the Nazis and the white supremacists. Shulkin said he will continue to speak. Staying silent on these issues is not acceptable, he said. Even the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trumps conversion, Haskel Lookstein, joined in a statement saying he was deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered. Even Sheldon Adelsons Republican Jewish Coalition called for greater moral clarity from Trump, saying there are no good Nazis. As I write this, my 13-year-old has come into my office and said the neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville synagogue make her reluctant to return to Hebrew school. She also asks if our family will be a target because people know Im Jewish. This is what Trump has done to America. And this is what Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner allow with their shameful silence. Do they prize their appointments so much? Well then, dont quit. Speak out. Let him fire you. But dont play the court Jew. Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Enemies, a Love Story: North African Jews and Muslims in France – TLV1 Radio

This season of the Tel Aviv Review is made possible by The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, which promotes humanistic, democratic, and liberal values in the social discourse in Israel. Tel Aviv Review is also supported by the Public Discourse Grant from the Israel Institute, which is dedicated to strengthening the field of Israel Studies in order to promote knowledge and enhance understanding of modern Israel.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed


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