JBuzz News April 30, 2012: Benzion Netanyahu: Noted historian father of Israel’s prime minister, dies at 102

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Noted historian Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israel’s prime minister, dies at 102

Source: JTA, 4-30-12

Benzion Netanyahu, a noted Jewish historian and Zionist thinker, and the father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died.

Netanyahu died early Monday morning at his home in Jerusalem. He was 102.

Benjamin Netanyahu visited his father for the last time on Sunday evening, according to a statement issued Monday from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu was born Benzion Mileikowsky in Warsaw in 1910, and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1920.

Netanyahu studied at the David Yellin Teachers’ College and later at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His research focused on the history of the medieval Spanish Jewish community and the history of Zionism. Among his books are a biography of Don Isaac Abravanel; a history of the Spanish Marranos; and his major work, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.” He also authored “The Founding Fathers of Zionism,” about the lives of the founders of political Zionism — Leon Pinsker, Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill and Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Netanyahu was the editor in chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia for more than a decade beginning in the 1950s. He served as a professor of Jewish studies at various universities in the United States, concluding his academic career as professor emeritus at Cornell University.

From his time as a student in Jerusalem, he was involved in public Zionist activities. Netanyahu was a supporter of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and edited a newspaper that also featured Joseph Klausner and poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg on its staff…READ MORE

JBuzz News April 30, 2012: Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization: A Ten-Volume Look at Jewish Culture

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A Ten-Volume Look at Jewish Culture

Source: NYT, 4-30-12

Yale University Press and the Posen Foundation are embarking on a 10-volume anthology that covers more than 3,000 years of Jewish cultural artifacts, texts and paintings. “This monumental project includes the best of Jewish culture in its historical and global entirety,” the editor in chief, James E. Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a news release. “It will provide future generations with a working legacy by which to recover and comprehend Jewish culture and civilization.”

The series, called the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, is starting at the end, with Volume 10, a collection of works that date from 1973 through 2005 and include cultural figures like the writers Saul Bellow and Judy Blume, the architect Frank Gehry, the sculptor Louise Nevelson, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Harvard law professor Alan M Dershowitz. (Volume 1 will begin in the second millennium B.C.) More than 120 scholars are expected to work on the project, according to John Donatich, director of Yale University Press.

Volume 10 is scheduled for publication in November, as is a companion book titled “Jews and Words” by the Israeli author Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, a history professor.

JBuzz News April 23, 2012: Todd Endelman: Holocaust victims remembered through music, reflection

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ANN ARBOR: Holocaust victims remembered through music, reflection

Source: Ann Arbor Journal, 4-23-12

Holocaust survivor Henry Brysk shares a photo of his family and the story of an aunt who was killed during World War II. Photo by Chris Nelson.

View and purchase photos

Victims of the Holocaust were remembered through prayer, reflection and music on April 19 at the Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor.

The memorial service, the first of its kind in the Ann Arbor area, was created by a group of Holocaust survivors as a way to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

University of Michigan Professor of Judaic Studies, Todd Endelman, gave a keynote address about how the Holocaust is remembered and its effects, so far, on Jewish culture.

Endelman said there are two factions of thought behind Holocaust remembrance. The first is that it is not talked about enough and the second is that it’s talked about too much and has morphed Jewish identity and definition into one of suffering.

The effect of the Holocaust, Endelman said, might be unknown still.

“We don’t know the impact of the Holocaust,” he said. “Maybe because not enough time has passed. Sometimes things are so large, are so horrific, are so transcendent of existing categories of thinking, are so out of the ordinary that it takes a long time for the whole impact to be made.”

Regardless, Endelman said, the important thing for people to do is to be aware.

“I want us to remain, particularly those of my generation and younger, attentive, listening to whatever new themes or emphasis arise,” he said. “Because we want to hear them clearly when they make their appearance and we want to absorb what they have to say to us.”…READ MORE

JBuzz Reviews April 20, 2012: Jonathan Sarna: Jewish vote in elections past and present

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Jewish vote in elections past and present

Source: Brandeis Hoot, 4-20-12

Professor of American Jewish History Jonathan Sarna (NEJS) recently published his new book “When General Grant Expelled the Jews,” discussing the election of 1868 in comparison to today’s political climate.

During the election of 1868, Jewish voters faced a daunting choice. Republican candidate Ulysses S. Grant was the man who had issued Order 11 on Dec. 17, 1862, expelling the Jewish people from Grant’s war zone. While it was eventually exposed that Grant issued his order for partially personal reasons related to his father, it was still viewed as a harsh act. The order was revoked on Jan. 4, 1863, upon reaching the desk of President Abraham Lincoln. It held consequences for the Jewish people both psychologically and physically, as some of them were mistreated in the process of relocating.

As Sarna argues, the election of 1868 presented a dilemma for Jewish liberals. “Domestic policies of the republicans during that time period were very much to their liking, but how could they vote for a man who had expelled Jews from his far zone, in what was the single most anti-Semitic act in the United States,” Sarna said.

Sarna describes this choice for the Jewish liberals as an internal one, a question of whether a person should “vote for a party bad for the country in order to avoid voting for a man who is bad for the Jews.”

Sarna wants to get across that Jewish liberals at this time were in turmoil, trying to measure out the “percent of yourself as an American and sense of self as a Jew” and which percent would overcome the other.

He draws a direct parallel to the 2012 elections, arguing that today, there is a “sense on the part of many Jews that Obama is not as supportive of Israel as his predecessors.” If Jewish liberals do not wish to vote for Obama because they question the strength of his support for Israel, their other choice is to vote for the Romney, whose platform goes against what many liberals believe politically.

Sarna believes that “lots of Jews in both cases will find their situation very parallel to the election of 1868.”

Like the election of 1868, Jewish voters have to consider their obligations as Americans as well as their obligations to the Jewish community. Sarna discussed whether a person can forget they are Jewish in a voting booth, or whether that is an identity that cannot be left outside the voting polls. Making connections to further back in history, Sarna even related the election of 1868 to the Federalist papers—their “concern over factions” and “putting the needs of country first regardless of group interest.”

Sarna does admit that the impact of the Jewish vote in both the election of 1868 and today may be over-exaggerated. Grant won the election of 1868, yet it may have been more because of black voters who approved of his efforts to improve their lives and grant them rights. Indeed, Sarna believes that the “power of the Jewish vote was exaggerated by four to five times,” and that people believed there were more voters than actually existed.

At the time, the media was concerned with the ramifications of Order 11, so the Jewish vote came to the forefront despite the fact that the number of Jewish voters was not as large as imagined.

JBuzz Quotes April 20, 2012: Deborah Lipstadt: New Jersey Holocaust Commemoration Serves as Reminder to ‘Never Forget’

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Holocaust Commemoration Serves as Reminder to ‘Never Forget’

Annual event at Teaneck High School featured author, professor and historian Deborah Lipstadt

Source: Patch.com, 4-20-12

At Thursday’s 32nd Annual Holocaust Commemoration, family, friends and members of the community repeated a promise to the Holocaust survivors in attendance that they would never let the world forget about the murder of 6 million Jews.

The Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration Committee, a division of the Jewish Community Council of Teaneck, hosted the event, which featured a candle-lighting ceremony with survivors, their children and grandchildren, and the reading of the names of those who perished in the Holocaust.

Committee officials describe their event as the largest in Bergen County because it attracts about 1,000 people….

MASTERMIND BEHIND THE DEPORTATIONS

The main speaker for the night was internationally recognized author, professor and historian Deborah Lipstadt, who is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University and author of “The Eichmann Trial,” and other books that focus on the topic of Holocaust denial.

Lipstadt said she attends many Holocaust Commemoration events across the U.S. “But I know of no other community that does it as well and has such a response and such a turnout and a cross-community representation as you do here in Teaneck,” she said.

Lipstadt spoke about the captivating trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, whom she described as the chief operating officer in charge of the deportation of Jews from all of Western Europe.

“And then in the final year of the war when it was clear that the Germans had lost, he personally oversees the decimation, the destruction, the murder of much of Hungarian Jewry, and in approximately 7 to 8 weeks time, the murder of 400,000 Jews at Auschwitz,” Lipstadt explained. “He is in charge of organizing the deportations, getting them out of their homes, moving them into the camps, distributing their possessions; he is the mastermind.”

Sometime after the war, Eichmann eventually ends up in Argentina. He is later found, transported to Israel, charged with “crimes against the Jews and crimes against humanity,” and is found guilty and executed in 1962.

Lipstadt said the most striking thing about the trial was that Holocaust survivors were allowed to be witnesses.

“They told the story of the “Final Solution” in its entirety,” she said. “These people speaking in the first person singular told their story one after another after another.”…READ MORE

JBuzz April 18, 2012: Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012

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Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012

Source: Israel Embassy, 4-18-12

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialised. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan (April 18, 2012) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day – in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit.

 

The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.

Central theme for this year: My Brother’s Keeper – Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust

Documents and testimonies from the Shoah indicate that within the impossible reality into which Jews were thrust, mutual help and a commitment to the other were quite common. The individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and this Jewish unity is what carried people and helped them endure another day.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name”

Six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, were murdered in the Shoah while the world remained silent. The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name” is a unique project designed to perpetuate their memory as individuals and restore their identity and dignity, through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. By personalising the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax.

“Everyone has a name” – Poem by Zelda
[translated from Hebrew]

Everyone has a name given to him by God and given to him by his parents.
Everyone has a name given to him by his stature and the way he smiles and given to him by his clothing.
Everyone has a name given to him by the mountains and given to him by the walls.
Everyone has a name given to him by the stars and given to him by his neighbors.
Everyone has a name given to him by his sins and given to him by his longing. Everyone has a name given to him by his enemies and given to him by his love. Everyone has a name given to him by his holidays and given to him by his work.
Everyone has a name given to him by the seasons and given to him by his blindness.
Everyone has a name given to him by the sea and given to him by his death.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organisations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organisation. The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of the President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres. In Israel, “Unto Every Person There is a Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.

Lists of names

Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints

Auschwitz is universally recognised as the ultimate symbol of evil the worlds largest death factory. It is estimated that approximately 1.1 million people were murdered there, of whom a million were Jews. From a single camp in 1940, Auschwitz was transformed into a massive complex, including 3 main camps and 40 sub-camps. The establishment of the Auschwitz complex was a project that lasted years, and was never completed. In the course of the planning phase, SS draftsmen prepared hundreds of drawings and plans of the construction sites and the various buildings. These included detailed drawings of the gas chambers and the crematoria.

Over 4 million names in Central Database of Shoah Victims

The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names is a unique international undertaking led by Yad Vashem. It is the endeavor to recover the names and reconstruct the life stories of each individual Jew murdered in the Shoah. It is our moral duty to respect their last behest and remember them. We estimate that the number of Jews commemorated in the database to date is 4 million. The database is comprised of Pages of Testimony, historical documentation and additional sources.

Millions of names that appear in historical documents have not yet been identified or recorded in the database; many additional names still linger in the memories of survivors or in their family folklore. Building the database is a work in progress.

The Names’ Database enables visitors to search for the names of any of the over 4 million Shoah victims recorded to date. In addition, it allows users to submit new Pages of Testimony – special forms containing biographical details of individual victims – for those victims as yet unrecorded. About half of the names in the Database were obtained from the more than 2.5 million Pages of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem over the past 50 years, nearly all of which have now been digitised. Other names have been gleaned from additional computerized lists, including deportation, camp and ghetto records.

Holocaust Remembrance Day Books

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) begins in the evening of Wednesday, April 18, 2012, and ends in the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2012 


Defiance

 

JBuzz News April 18, 2012: Historians race clock to collect Holocaust survivor stories

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Historians race clock to collect Holocaust survivor stories

Source: USA Today, 4-18-12

The annual remembrance was observed in Poland and other nations as well, and it took on special meaning this year to historians who are trying urgently to collect the remaining testimonies of eyewitnesses as their numbers dwindle.

One survivor dies in Israel every hour, according to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, a non-profit group based in Tel Aviv that helps care for needy survivors. Today, there are 198,000 survivors in Israel; 88% are 75 or older.

Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial contains the largest archive in the world of historic material related to the Holocaust — or Shoah, as it is known in Hebrew — and it has been intensifying its campaign to record the accounts of survivors. Teams of historians have been dispatched to interview elderly survivors in their homes and collect artifacts.

“We are really racing against the clock to find every survivor and get their stories told before they die,” said Cynthia Wroclawski, manager of the Shoah Names Recovery Project.

Since its establishment in 1953, Yad Vashem, an Israeli governmental authority, has collected 400,000 photographs, recorded roughly 110,000 victims’ video testimonies and amassed 138 million pages of documents on the Nazis’ genocide of Jews in Europe. It was after the Holocaust that the United Nations approved in 1947 what many Jews had sought for decades: a permanent homeland in what is now modern Israel….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 15, 2012: Richard Stamps: Archaeological dig is dusty history lesson at Khirbet Qeiyafa

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Archaeological dig is dusty history lesson

Early starts, hard work are rewarding, but not for those accustomed to cushy vacations

Source: Detroit Free Press, 4-14-12

[+] Enlarge. (3 pictures)   

A volunteer unearths an Iron Age vessel at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is 18 miles west of Jerusalem. Such dig sites are often in need of volunteers and provide an adventurous vacation.

It’s 4 a.m. My eyes feel heavy. Today is my second day of digging.

I’m in Israel for a weeklong archaeological dig – not your regular vacation, but one that brought fulfillment and surprisingly more rest than I’ve gotten sitting on the beach.

Richard Stamps, a professor of anthropology, and Mike Pytlik, a special lecturer of archaeology and Jewish studies at Michigan’s Oakland University, each year lead a group of students on a three-week archaeological dig and tour of Israel.

Pytlik invited me to go along as a volunteer for a week.

Pytlik explained that this vacation wouldn’t have much relaxing, sightseeing or downtime. It would be dusty and messy, and accommodations wouldn’t include the boutique hotels I normally favor.

The sense of adventure and the chance to learn was enough for me to sign on. I filled out an application, included a $50 check and sent it to professor Yosef Garkinfel of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a renowned archeologist and director of the Khirbet Qeiyafa site, our destination.

It sits above the Elah Valley, the same valley where the Bible says David and Goliath met on the battlefield. It is believed to be the ancient city of Sha’arayim, an Israelite walled city that was part of the kingdom of David….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 15, 2012: Germany’s Federal government to fund new centre for Jewish studies in Berlin

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Germany’s Federal government to fund new centre for Jewish studies in Berlin

Source: University World News, 4-15-12

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, or BMBF, is to provide funding for a new Jewish studies centre in Berlin. Several institutions in the Berlin area are supporting the centre, which was launched last autumn.

The BMBF will be supporting Berlin’s three largest institutions – Humboldt University, Free University and the Technical University – as well as the University of Potsdam, Abraham Geiger College and the Moses Mendelssohn Centre for European-Jewish Studies with a total of €6.9 million (US$9 million) over an initial period of five years to establish the Berlin-Brandenburg Centre for Jewish Studies.

“The centre is going to have an impact way beyond Germany,” Education Minister Annette Schavan said. “It follows the great tradition of Jewish scholarship in Berlin.”

The centre is meant to link up and concentrate academic activities in the field of Jewish studies. Also, via visiting professorships and fellowships, it is to boost international exchange with scholars, in particular from the US, Israel, the UK, France and the Commonwealth of Independent States countries. In addition, research posts are to be created for junior scholars.

The centre can count on a suitable environment for interdisciplinary activities.

History and civilisation studies approaches are featured at Humboldt University, while Free University Berlin has a Jewish studies bachelor programme and also runs a masters in conjunction with Berlin’s Touro College, a Jewish-sponsored independent institution of higher and professional education.

Bachelor and masters courses in Jewish studies at the University of Potsdam, just outside Berlin in Brandenburg, focus on religion, history and literature.

Technical University Berlin has a Centre for Research on Antisemitism, which was founded in 1982 to examine not only antisemitism but also, at a more general level, xenophobia and racism.

The Moses Mendelssohn Centre, meanwhile, conducts historical and philosophical surveys and research in literature, religion and the social sciences. Finally, Abraham Geiger College is a rabbinic seminary that was founded at the University of Potsdam in 1999.

The centre is in line with recommendations on theology and religion-related disciplines issued by the Science Council, Germany’s chief advisory body on research policy.

“What is particularly promising is cooperation between non-denominational scholars, for example from civilisation studies and social sciences, with denominationally bound colleagues at the Abraham Geiger College,” Schavan said.

JBuzz News April 9, 2012: Kenneth Libo: Historian of Jewish immigration, dies at 74

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Kenneth Libo, historian of Jewish immigration, dies at 74

Source: NYT, 4-9-12

Kenneth Libo, a historian of Jewish immigration who, as a graduate student working for Irving Howe in the 1960s and ’70s, unearthed historical documentation that informed and shaped “World of Our Fathers,” Howe’s landmark 1976 history of the East European Jewish immigration to the United States, died on March 29 in New York. He was 74.

The cause was complications from an infection, said Michael Skakun, a friend and fellow historian.

Libo’s contribution was acknowledged by Howe and the publishers of “World of Our Fathers,” who listed his name beneath the author’s on the cover of the book: “With the Assistance of Kenneth Libo.”

Scholars familiar with his archival work credit Libo with adding a level of emotional detail, and a view of everyday life in the teeming tenements of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York, that the book might have lacked without his six years of work. “I don’t think ‘World of Our Fathers’ could have been written without the spade work done by Ken Libo,” said Jeffrey S. Gurock, a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University. “He had a certain researching genius, a feel for visceral detail.”

Libo worked with Howe on two more books and shared billing on both as co-author — “How We Lived,” a 1979 anthology of pictures and documentary accounts of Jewish life in New York between 1880 and 1930; and “We Lived There, Too,” an illustrated collection of first-person accounts by Jewish immigrant pioneers who moved on from New York to settle in far-flung outpostsaround the country, like New Orleans; Abilene, Kan.; and Keokuk, Iowa, between 1630 and 1930.

He became the first English-language editor of The Jewish Daily Forward in 1980, lectured widely, taught literature and history at Hunter College, and later in life helped several wealthy Jewish New York families research and write their self-published family histories.

But throughout his life, Libo was known best for his involvement in “World of Our Fathers,” a best-seller that Howe, a socialist and public intellectual, once described in part as an effort to reclaim the fading memory of Jewish immigration from the clutches of sentimental myth, Alexander Portnoy and generations of Jewish mother jokes.

The book was a large canvas — depicting a lost world of tenements, sweatshops and political utopianism — written with elegiac lyricism.

By most accounts Howe gave the book its vision, its voice and its intellectual legs. Libo gave it people and their stories.

He mined archives of Yiddish newspapers like The Forward, Der Tog and Freheit; the case records of social service organizations like the Henry Street Settlement House; the letters of activists like Lillian Wald and Rose Schneiderman; memoirs by forgotten people whose books he found in the 5-cent bins of used bookstores. He interviewed old vaudevillians like Joe Smith of Smith and Dale (the models for Neil Simon’s “Sunshine Boys”) for the story of Yiddish theater.

In an essay about the book, published in 2000 in the journal of the American Jewish Historical Society, Libo wrote that in the summer months “Irving did the bulk of the writing while I remained in New York with an assistant to run down facts.”

Kenneth Harold Libo was born Dec. 4, 1937, in Norwich, Conn., one of two sons of Asher and Annette Libo. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia, his mother American-born. His parents operated a chicken farm, friends said.

He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1959, served in the Navy and taught English at Hunter College of the City University until he began work on “World of Our Fathers” in 1968 with Howe, who died in 1993.

He received his Ph.D. in English literature from the City University of New York in 1974. He never married and no immediate family members remain.