JBUZZ MUSINGS: ISRAEL/JEWISH CULTURAL BUZZ
JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS
- January 7, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 7, 2014
Source: NJ Jewish News, 5-20-13
Professor Jonathan Marc Gribetz questioned whether permanently holding the city of Jerusalem is an attainable goal.
Photo by Debra Rubin
“The history of Jerusalem is the history of conquest,” said Jonathan Marc Gribetz, “and that past has demonstrated that it is a place where religion and politics are almost inextricable.”
Gribetz, assistant professor of Jewish studies and history at Rutgers University, spoke May 6 about the conflicting identities of Jerusalem during a program at Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 20, 2013
Source: Vatican Radio, 4-30-13
Pope Francis on Tuesday received in audience at the Vatican the Israeli President Shimon Peres and held talks on a variety of issues concerning the Middle East. President Peres also met the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertoni and Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, Secretary of Relations with States.
Please find below an English translation of the official communique on the talks released afterwards by the Holy See’s Press Office:
“During the cordial talks, the political and social situation in the Middle East—where more than a few conflicts persist—was addressed. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that, with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region. Reference to the important issue of the City of Jerusalem was not overlooked. Particular worry for the conflict that plagues Syria was expressed, for which a political solution is hoped for that privileges the logic of reconciliation and dialogue.
A number of issues concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between state authorities and the local Catholic communities were also addressed. In conclusion, the significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission, which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest, was appreciated and its rapid conclusion is foreseen.”
Following Tuesday’s meeting between Pope Francis and President Peres, Israel’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Zion Evrony spoke to Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges about their talks and in particular about the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Syrian conflict and the long-standing bilateral talks between Israel and the Holy See on tax and economic issues.
Ambassador Evrony says Israel “really hopes” for an early resumption of the stalled peace process between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. “There’s nothing that that the people of Israel want more than peace … peace with our Palestinian neighbours is one of our main goals,” he says.
Ambassador Evrony also talks about Israel’s concerns over the Syrian conflict, saying the crisis there “is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis.” “It is tragic,” he continues, “to see the bloodshed and human suffering and see a brutal dictator massacre his own people.” The Israeli Ambassador also spoke of his country’s concern about the issue of chemical weapons in Syria and said he is worried that “these chemical weapons could end up in the wrong hands.”
Turning to the question of the bilateral discussions between Israel and the Holy See over various economic and tax issues, Ambassador Evrony said “there was reason to be optimistic” concerning these long-standing issues although he added “there is still some work to be done” before a final conclusion can be reached.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 30, 2013
Source: Ynetnews, 4-5-13
Entitled “uprising and rebellion in the Holocaust” and on the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Sunday evening will open Holocaust Remembrance Day activities and the main ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad VaShem….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2013
Israel becomes world’s largest Jewish center, with six million Jews; United States in second place, France third. ‘World’s Jews on decline,’ expert says
Source: Ynetnews, 3-28-13
The remainder of the population is comprised of 1.6 million Arabs, 350,000 non-Arab Christians and others, mostly olim or relatives of olim from the former USSR, whose religion is not listed in the Interior Ministry‘s census.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 28, 2013
Source: NYT, 3-26-13
via Yad Vashem
Rabbi Herschel Schacter leading the Shavuot prayer service for survivors in the Buchenwald camp in Germany in 1945.More Photos »
The smoke was still rising as Rabbi Herschel Schacter rode through the gates of Buchenwald.
Rabbi Herschel Schacter in 1999.
It was April 11, 1945, and Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army had liberated the concentration camp scarcely an hour before. Rabbi Schacter, who was attached to the Third Army’s VIII Corps, was the first Jewish chaplain to enter in its wake.
That morning, after learning that Patton’s forward tanks had arrived at the camp, Rabbi Schacter, who died in the Riverdale section of the Bronx on Thursday at 95 after a career as one of the most prominent Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States, commandeered a jeep and driver. He left headquarters and sped toward Buchenwald….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 27, 2013
Source: AP, 3-26-13
President Barack Obama marked Monday night’s start of Passover with a private Seder at the White House.
Obama started the tradition as a presidential candidate in 2008 when he joined Jewish staffers celebrating on the campaign trail. He’s continued it every year since with a small group of aides and friends. He told Israelis during a visit last week he wanted the tradition at the White House so his daughters could experience it.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 27, 2013
Source: WH, 3-25-13
As we prepare for our fifth Seder in the White House, Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover here in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world.
Tonight, Jewish families will gather with family and friends to celebrate with songs, wine, and food. They will read from the Haggadah, and retell the story that makes this holiday so powerful.
Last week, I visited the state of Israel for the third time, my first as President. I reaffirmed our countries’ unbreakable bonds with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I had the chance to speak directly with young Israelis about the future they wanted for their country, their region, and the world. And I saw once again how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from Hatikvah, lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu, “To be a free people in our land.”
Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won. But even as we give thanks, we are called to look to the future. We are reminded that responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins. As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continuing the hard work of repairing the world. Chag sameach.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder Dinner for family, staff and friends, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, March 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 25, 2013
Source: JTA, 2-28-13
Five authors from three countries were named the finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
The Jewish Book Council on Wednesday announced the nominees for their works of Jewish fiction.
The nominees are Shani Boianjiu, for “The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid”; Ben Lerner for “Leaving Atocha Station”; Stuart Nadler for ” The Book of Life”; Asaf Schurr for “Motti,” translated by Todd Hasak Lowy; and Francesca Segal for “The Innocents.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 28, 2013
Source: JTA, 12-18-12
The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 18, 2012
Canadian Professor Target of anti Semitic Vandalism Canadian Political Science Professor Julien Bauer was the target of anti-Semitic vandalism this week….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 22, 2012
The vote shift from 2008 to 2012 was “nothing huge and dramatic,” said Ira Sheskin, of Cooper City, a geography professor at the University of Miami where he’s also director of the Jewish Demography Project….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 11, 2012
Source: NewsMax.com, 10-17-12
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 17, 2012
From big balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to a big Christmas tree at Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, the Big Apple is known for going big around the holidays. And on Tuesday, the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, New Yorkers went big again, lighting a massive menorah outside the south side of Central Park.
The nine-branched candelabra is 32 feet tall, 28 feet wide, weighs 4,000 pounds, and is considered the world’s biggest, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman, director of the city’s Lubavitch Youth Organization, said the gold-colored steel structure is equipped with oil lamps and has special glass chimneys to protect the flames from wind.
The Brooklyn-based group has coordinated the lighting ceremony since it began in 1977, then coinciding with the administration of Abraham David Beam, the first Jewish mayor of New York City.
The massive structure was designed by renowned Jewish artist Yaacov Agam, according to Butman.
During the celebration, one candle is lighted the first night, and an additional candle is lighted each subsequent night for eight nights, earning Hanukkah the name “The Festival of Lights.”
“The menorah is a symbol of inspiration not only for the Jewish people, but all people, regardless of race, color or creed,” Butman said.
In the nation’s capital, a special lighting ceremony near the White House also marked the start of the holiday.
“Tonight, as families and friends come together to light the menorah, it is a story that reminds us to count our blessings, to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “To believe that through faith and determination, we can work together to build a brighter, better world for generations to come.”
The White House menorah lighting dates to 1979 with President Jimmy Carter.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 20, 2011
Source: JTA, 7-12-11
A fire has badly damaged one of New York City’s most prominent synagogues.
The four-alarm fire broke out in Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at around 8:30 on Monday night, according to the Associated Press.
The fire caused the synagogue’s roof to collapse and severely damaged the building’s top floors. The New York Fire Department reportedly is concerned about the massive 110-year-old building’s structural integrity.
The fire was brought under control an hour after it began. Four firefighters sustained minor injuries quelling the blaze, The New York Times reported.
The cause of the fire, which fire officials think began on the roof or top floor, has not yet been determined.
The synagogue building had been undergoing renovations. Religious articles had been removed prior to construction, so no Torah scrolls were damaged in the fire.
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun is an Orthodox synagogue and one of the city’s most prominent Jewish congregations. It is led by Rabbi Haskell Lookstein, a leading figure in American Modern Orthodoxy.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 12, 2011
Source: Boston Globe, 6-27-11
The Museum of Fine Arts has agreed to pay restitution to the heir of a Jewish art dealer killed at Auschwitz after determining that a 17th-century Dutch painting in its collection was once owned by him and was probably plundered by the Nazis.
With the deal, which culminates a more than decade-long investigation by the museum, the MFA remains at the leading edge of an emerging museum practice to proactively research works with little ownership history and make amends if they are found to have been acquired under questionable circumstances. Since 2004, the MFA has returned three other works seized during World War II.
In this case, the MFA agreed to pay an undisclosed sum and, in exchange, the heir of Walter Westfeld agreed to allow the museum to keep the oil portrait of a man and woman by Eglon van der Neer.
“They should be commended for both acknowledging there might be some questions in this work and seeking information about them, and then pursuing the questions until they were resolved,’’ said James Cuno, the director of the Art Institute of Chicago who will become president of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles in August….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 27, 2011
Source: NY Jewish Week, 6-15-11
(Photo: Peter Morehand)
This Tuesday, Manischewitz daringly went where no other matzo maker has ever gone. The company attempted to bake (or should we say build?) the largest matzo in history — 336 times a regular matzo sheet — in honor of the opening of its new headquarters, in Newark, N.J. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz (pictured above), chief rabbi of Manischewitz, shows us just how big the giant matzo was (that’s a regular sheet of matzo his holding, folks). Israel’s chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, blessed the plant and the town’s mayor, Cory A. Booker, joined the event. The matzo, which was baked in a 200-foot-long oven, was divided up after the ceremony for everyone to sample.
Manischewitz is currently in the process of registering the matzo with the Guinness World Records, which will decide if it’s actually the biggest ever made. So what does it take to make a claim of the world’s largest matzo? See the details, below.
Flour: 27.6 lbs.
Water: 8.3 lbs.
Total weight of matzo: 25.3 lbs.
Width: 41 in.
Length: 24 ft.
Surface area: 11,808 sq. in. (82 sq. ft.)
Baking temperature: 620°F
Cooking time: 204 seconds
Handlers required: 6 people
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 15, 2011
When Pope Benedict XVI writes that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus, what’s important is less the passage itself than the man who set it down on paper.
By tackling the subject in a book to be published March 10, Benedict, who has struggled in his relations with the Jewish community, doesn’t so much state something new — the affirmation that the Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for the crucifixion is an old one, uncontroversial in the modern Catholic Church — as lend the idea the ecclesiastical equivalent of a celebrity endorsement. “The significance is in the author,” says Joseph Sievers, professor of Jewish history at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. “He brings together an awareness of the issues in the texts themselves with the history of how these texts have been interpreted through the last 2,000 years.”
Indeed, the Catholic Church has considered the Jewish people free from blame since at least 1965, when the Second Vatican Council wrote that while “the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.”
The difference this time is that rather than being buried deep in a document of dense text, where it can easily be overlooked or ignored, the argument is being laid out by a man whose every word is pored over as an indication of church doctrine. “Most Catholics don’t read the church’s documents,” says Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs at the New York–based American Jewish Committee. “The book will certainly be far more widely read.” Benedict’s most recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, was a best seller when it was published in 2007. The passage about the crucifixion will appear in its sequel, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2011
Facing a looming deadline to pay off $30 million in tax-exempt bonds, the Center for Jewish History has raised every dollar needed to settle its outstanding debt, the organization’s leadership announced on January 24. It is no small accomplishment for any not-for-profit in the current economic climate, particularly for one that, in recent years, has dealt with management woes and struggled to avoid a merger.
“We feel secure that we’ve gotten our message out to a substantial number of people,” Bruce Slovin, the center’s founder and chairman, said in an interview. “We’re going to embark on new projects and can work on the substance of the center.”
The center is a consortium of five organizations: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Its campus, near Manhattan’s Union Square, opened in 2000.
With 150,000 square feet of on-site archive space, and another 10,000 square feet off-site, some 100 million individual documents and artifacts, and 500,000 volumes in its library, the center, which bills itself as the Jewish version of the Library of Congress, is the largest Jewish historical collection outside Israel.
But it has also had vocal critics, including the prominent American Jewish historian and Forward columnist Jonathan Sarna. Yet, Sarna said that the success of the center’s fundraising campaign has changed his perspective.
For many years, Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University and a member of the AJHS’s academic council, argued that building the institution was a mistake. “The money, I said then, should have gone into scanning the documents [owned by the respective consortium members] rather than creating bricks and mortar as a memorial to the donors,” he said. “Now that it’s financially viable, it’s perfectly clear that it has found a place. One goes there and sees a variety of scholars and interested New Yorkers doing research.”
Sarna called the center “unquestionably the most important Jewish archive in the country and one of the most important in the world.”
Before raising the $30 million, which took 15 months, the center faced a debilitating financial burden. Terms for renewing its letter of credit were poor, and paying the required principal and interest on the existing credit line necessitated taking $1.5 million from its endowment each year. All this interfered with the center’s ability to raise operating funds — funds that otherwise might go toward creating new public programs and making archival materials available online….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 2, 2011
The National Yiddish Book Center, amid a change in focus, has laid off four employees and closed its bookstore.
As part of its strategic change from saving and restoring ancient Yiddish texts to educating people about them, the center in Amherst, Mass., made the layoffs in December, the Amherst Bulletin reported.
The cut positions include the director’s personal assistant, a major gifts officer, the bookstore manager and a designer of the center’s magazine, according to the newspaper. The center’s vice president and program director also resigned, leaving the center with 16 employees.
A rise in administrative costs was a part of the reason for the layoffs, center president Aaron Lansky told the Bulletin.
The center, in operation since 1980, has collected more than 1 million Yiddish volumes.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 3, 2011
Experts at Cambridge University have made a major discovery about the history of the Bible.
Researchers have been studying ancient biblical manuscripts in the University Library, and have found that a version of the Bible written in Greek was used by Jewish people for centuries longer than originally thought.
The documents, known as the Cairo Genizah manuscripts, were discovered in an old synagogue in Egypt and were brought to Cambridge at the end of the 19th century.
They have now been brought together digitally and posted online, enabling scholars worldwide to analyse them for the first time.
Prof Nicholas de Lange, professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, has been leading a three-year study into the ancient fragments.
He said: “The translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek is said to be one of the most lasting achievements of the Jewish civilization – without it, Christianity might not have spread as quickly and as successfully as it did.
“It was thought that the Jews, for some reason, gave up using Greek translations and chose to use the original Hebrew for public reading in synagogue and for private study, until modern times when pressure to use the vernacular led to its introduction in many synagogues.”
Prof de Lange’s research has discovered that some of the manuscripts contain passages from the Bible in Greek, written in Hebrew letters. The fragments date from 1,000 years after the original translation into Greek – showing that use of the Greek text was still alive in Greek-speaking synagogues in the Byzantine Empire, the Greek-speaking eastern part of the Roman Empire.
Prof de Lange said the research offered a rare glimpse of Byzantine Jewish life and culture, and also illustrated the cross-fertilisation between Jewish and Christian biblical scholars in the Middle Ages.
He said: “This is a very exciting discovery for me because it confirms a hunch I had when studying Genizah fragments 30 years ago.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 30, 2010
The number of American Jews is growing, not declining, according to a new study from Brandeis University.
Leonard Saxe, a professor at Brandeis’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute, found that the number of Americans who identify themselves as Jewish has risen from 5.5 million in 1990 to 6.5 million.
Mr Saxe made his estimate by analysing data from 150 surveys taken by the US government and polling organizations. It challenges the finding made in a 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey conducted by the Jewish Federations of North America, which estimated that the US Jewish population had declined by 300,000 over a decade.
The new research project which Saxe unveiled last week in Boston also examined a sample of 1,400 Jews surveyed by Knowledge Networks, a polling firm, and found that 80 per cent identify as Jews on the basis of religion, while the remaining 20 per cent choose another criterion to define themselves as Jewish.
Those who identify on the basis of religion were far more likely to marry a Jewish partner and to participate in Jewish events like barmitzvahs, Jewish weddings and shivahs, the survey found.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 29, 2010
President Richard M. Nixon at his desk in the Oval Office, where a secret taping system had been installed.
Richard M. Nixon made disparaging remarks about Jews, blacks, Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans in a series of extended conversations with top aides and his personal secretary, recorded in the Oval Office 16 months before he resigned as president….
These tapes, made in February and March 1973, reflect a critical period in Nixon’s presidency — the final months before it was “devoured by Watergate,” said Timothy Naftali, the executive director of the Nixon Library.
Mr. Naftali said that there were now only 400 hours of tapes left to released, and that those would cover the final months before the tape system was shut down in July 1973 after Alexander Butterfield, who was a deputy assistant to Nixon, confirmed its existence to the Watergate committee.
Mr. Naftali said he intended to have those tapes — actually, given changing technologies since Nixon’s time, CDs, and available for listening online at the library’s Web site — released by 2012.
An indication of Nixon’s complex relationship with Jews came the afternoon Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister, came to visit on March 1, 1973. The tapes capture Meir offering warm and effusive thanks to Nixon for the way he had treated her and Israel.
But moments after she left, Nixon and Mr. Kissinger were brutally dismissive in response to requests that the United States press the Soviet Union to permit Jews to emigrate and escape persecution there.
“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger said. “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
“I know,” Nixon responded. “We can’t blow up the world because of it.”
In his discussion with Ms. Woods, Nixon laid down clear rules about who would be permitted to attend the state dinner for Meir — he called it “the Jewish dinner” — after learning that the White House was being besieged with requests to attend.
“I don’t want any Jew at that dinner who didn’t support us in that campaign,” he said. “Is that clear? No Jew who did not support us.”
Nixon listed many of his top Jewish advisers — among them, Mr. Kissinger and William Safire, who went on to become a columnist at The New York Times — and argued that they shared a common trait, of needing to compensate for an inferiority complex.
“What it is, is it’s the insecurity,” he said. “It’s the latent insecurity. Most Jewish people are insecure. And that’s why they have to prove things.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 10, 2010
The University of Toronto has come under fire for accepting a master’s thesis that calls two Holocaust education programs “racist.”
Written by Jenny Peto, a Jewish activist with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, the thesis attacks the March of Remembrance and Hope, through which young adults of diverse backgrounds travel with Holocaust survivors to sites of Nazi atrocities in Poland, and March of the Living Canada, part of an international program that takes young Jews and survivors to Poland and Israel.
Peto argues the programs cause Jews to believe they are innocent victims. In reality, she writes, they are privileged white people who “cannot see their own racism.”
The “construction of a victimized Jewish identity,” she argues, is intentional; it produces “effects that are extremely beneficial to the organized Jewish community” and to “apartheid” Israel.
She further questions “the implications of white Jews taking it upon themselves to educate people of color about genocide, racism and intolerance.”
Irving Abella, a well-known Canadian historian and former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told the Toronto Star that the thesis is “not scholarship, it’s ideology. It’s totally ahistorical; I found it full of untruths and distortions and held together by fatuous and very flabby analysis. It borders on anti-Semitism.”
Abella added, “I’m appalled that it would be acceptable to a major university.”
Holocaust survivors involved in both programs also have denounced the paper as hurtful.
In a letter to University of Toronto President David Naylor, retired University of British Columbia sociology professor Werner Cohn said the thesis “makes wild charges against [Peto’s] fellow Jews without a shred of evidence,” the Canadian Jewish News reported.
Peto, who was part of a group that tried to occupy Toronto’s Israeli Consulate in 2009, said the controversy is a smear effort by “right-wing, pro-Israel groups and individuals.”
“This is not the first time I have been dragged through the mud by pro-Israel groups,” she told the Star, “and I am sure it will not be that last.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 7, 2010
Ms. Goodman is the Editor of JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Judaic Studies at Concordia University.
Ben Retik lights the Menorah as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama take part in the Hanukkah Candle Lighting ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 2, 2010 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 6, 2010