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Judaism – Wikipedia

Posted By on December 15, 2017

This article is about the Jewish religion. For consideration of ethnic, historic and cultural aspects of the Jewish identity, see Jews.

Judaism (originally from Hebrew , Yehudah, “Judah”;[1][2] via Latin and Greek) is an ancient monotheistic Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text.[3] It encompasses the religion, philosophy and culture of the Jewish people.[4] Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel.[5] Judaism includes a wide corpus of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide,[6] Judaism is the tenth-largest religion in the world.

Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah.[7] Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period;[8] and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic.[9] Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel.[10] Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more “traditional” interpretation of Judaism’s requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews.[11][12] Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary.[13] Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and rabbis and scholars who interpret them.[14]

The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years.[15] Judaism has its roots as a structured religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age.[16] Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions.[17][18] The Hebrews and Israelites were already referred to as “Jews” in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title “Children of Israel”.[19] Judaism’s texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith.[20][21] Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law.[22][pageneeded]Hebraism is just as important a factor in the development of Western civilization as Hellenism, and Judaism, as the mother religion of Christianity, has considerably shaped Western ideals and morality since the Christian Era.[23]

Jews are an ethnoreligious group[24] and include those born Jewish and converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population.[25] About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, and other minority groups spread throughout South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.[25]

Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as unitary and solitary; consequently, the Hebrew God’s principal relationships are not with other gods, but with the world, and more specifically, with the people he created.[26][pageneeded] Judaism thus begins with ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one and is concerned with the actions of mankind.[27] According to the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation.[28] Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God’s concern for the world.[29] He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God’s love for people.[30] These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, which is the substance of Judaism.

Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism (Kabbalah), Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin has characterized normative Judaism as “normal mysticism”, because it involves everyday personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews.[31] This is played out through the observance of the Halakha (Jewish law) and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.

Whereas Jewish philosophers often debate whether God is immanent or transcendent, and whether people have free will or their lives are determined, Halakha is a system through which any Jew acts to bring God into the world.

Ethical monotheism is central in all sacred or normative texts of Judaism. However, monotheism has not always been followed in practice. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) records and repeatedly condemns the widespread worship of other gods in ancient Israel.[33] In the Greco-Roman era, many different interpretations of monotheism existed in Judaism, including the interpretations that gave rise to Christianity.[34]

Moreover, some have argued that Judaism is a non-creedal religion that does not require one to believe in God.[citation needed] For some, observance of Jewish law is more important than belief in God per se.[35] In modern times, some liberal Jewish movements do not accept the existence of a personified deity active in history.[36][37] The debate about whether one can speak of authentic or normative Judaism is not only a debate among religious Jews but also among historians.[38]

Scholars throughout Jewish history have proposed numerous formulations of Judaism’s core tenets, all of which have met with criticism.[39] The most popular formulation is Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith, developed in the 12th century. According to Maimonides, any Jew who rejects even one of these principles would be considered an apostate and a heretic.[40][41] Jewish scholars have held points of view diverging in various ways from Maimonides’ principles.[42][43]

In Maimonides’ time, his list of tenets was criticized by Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo. Albo and the Raavad argued that Maimonides’ principles contained too many items that, while true, were not fundamentals of the faith.

Along these lines, the ancient historian Josephus emphasized practices and observances rather than religious beliefs, associating apostasy with a failure to observe Jewish law and maintaining that the requirements for conversion to Judaism included circumcision and adherence to traditional customs. Maimonides’ principles were largely ignored over the next few centuries.[44] Later, two poetic restatements of these principles (“Ani Ma’amin” and “Yigdal”) became integrated into many Jewish liturgies,[45] leading to their eventual near-universal acceptance.[46][47]

In modern times, Judaism lacks a centralized authority that would dictate an exact religious dogma.[14][48] Because of this, many different variations on the basic beliefs are considered within the scope of Judaism.[42] Even so, all Jewish religious movements are, to a greater or lesser extent, based on the principles of the Hebrew Bible and various commentaries such as the Talmud and Midrash. Judaism also universally recognizes the Biblical Covenant between God and the Patriarch Abraham as well as the additional aspects of the Covenant revealed to Moses, who is considered Judaism’s greatest prophet.[42][49][50][51][52] In the Mishnah, a core text of Rabbinic Judaism, acceptance of the Divine origins of this covenant is considered an essential aspect of Judaism and those who reject the Covenant forfeit their share in the World to Come.[53]

Establishing the core tenets of Judaism in the modern era is even more difficult, given the number and diversity of the contemporary Jewish denominations. Even if to restrict the problem to the most influential intellectual trends of the nineteenth and twentieth century, the matter remains complicated. Thus for instance, Joseph Soloveitchik’s (associated with the Modern Orthodox movement) answer to modernity is constituted upon the identification of Judaism with following the halakha whereas its ultimate goal is to bring the holiness down to the world. Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist Judaism, abandons the idea of religion for the sake of identifying Judaism with civilization and by means of the latter term and secular translation of the core ideas, he tries to embrace as many Jewish denominations as possible. In turn, Solomon Schechter’s Conservative Judaism was identical with the tradition understood as the interpretation of Torah, in itself being the history of the constant updates and adjustment of the Law performed by means of the creative interpretation. Finally, David Philipson draws the outlines of the Reform movement in Judaism by opposing it to the strict and traditional rabbinical approach and thus comes to the conclusions similar to that of the Conservative movement.[54]

The following is a basic, structured list of the central works of Jewish practice and thought.

Many traditional Jewish texts are available online in various Torah databases (electronic versions of the Traditional Jewish Bookshelf). Many of these have advanced search options available.

The basis of Jewish law and tradition (halakha) is the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses). According to rabbinic tradition, there are 613 commandments in the Torah. Some of these laws are directed only to men or to women, some only to the ancient priestly groups, the Kohanim and Leviyim (members of the tribe of Levi), some only to farmers within the Land of Israel. Many laws were only applicable when the Temple in Jerusalem existed, and only 369 of these commandments are still applicable today.[56]

While there have been Jewish groups whose beliefs were based on the written text of the Torah alone (e.g., the Sadducees, and the Karaites), most Jews believe in the oral law. These oral traditions were transmitted by the Pharisee school of thought of ancient Judaism, and were later recorded in written form and expanded upon by the rabbis.

According to Rabbinical Jewish tradition, God gave both the Written Law (the Torah) and the Oral law to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Oral law is the oral tradition as relayed by God to Moses and from him, transmitted and taught to the sages (rabbinic leaders) of each subsequent generation.

For centuries, the Torah appeared only as a written text transmitted in parallel with the oral tradition. Fearing that the oral teachings might be forgotten, Rabbi Judah haNasi undertook the mission of consolidating the various opinions into one body of law which became known as the Mishnah.[57]

The Mishnah consists of 63 tractates codifying Jewish law, which are the basis of the Talmud. According to Abraham ben David, the Mishnah was compiled by Rabbi Judah haNasi after the destruction of Jerusalem, in anno mundi 3949, which corresponds to 189 CE.[58]

Over the next four centuries, the Mishnah underwent discussion and debate in both of the world’s major Jewish communities (in Israel and Babylonia). The commentaries from each of these communities were eventually compiled into the two Talmuds, the Jerusalem Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi) and the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli). These have been further expounded by commentaries of various Torah scholars during the ages.

In the text of the Torah, many words are left undefined and many procedures are mentioned without explanation or instructions. Such phenomena are sometimes offered to validate the viewpoint that the Written Law has always been transmitted with a parallel oral tradition, illustrating the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the details from other, i.e., oral, sources.[59]

Halakha, the rabbinic Jewish way of life, then, is based on a combined reading of the Torah, and the oral traditionthe Mishnah, the halakhic Midrash, the Talmud and its commentaries. The Halakha has developed slowly, through a precedent-based system. The literature of questions to rabbis, and their considered answers, is referred to as responsa (in Hebrew, Sheelot U-Teshuvot.) Over time, as practices develop, codes of Jewish law are written that are based on the responsa; the most important code, the Shulchan Aruch, largely determines Orthodox religious practice today.

Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. Major Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, and Gersonides. Major changes occurred in response to the Enlightenment (late 18th to early 19th century) leading to the post-Enlightenment Jewish philosophers. Modern Jewish philosophy consists of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox oriented philosophy. Notable among Orthodox Jewish philosophers are Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Yitzchok Hutner. Well-known non-Orthodox Jewish philosophers include Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Will Herberg, and Emmanuel Lvinas.

Orthodox and many other Jews do not believe that the revealed Torah consists solely of its written contents, but of its interpretations as well. The study of Torah (in its widest sense, to include both poetry, narrative, and law, and both the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud) is in Judaism itself a sacred act of central importance. For the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud, and for their successors today, the study of Torah was therefore not merely a means to learn the contents of God’s revelation, but an end in itself. According to the Talmud,

In Judaism, “the study of Torah can be a means of experiencing God”.[61] Reflecting on the contribution of the Amoraim and Tanaim to contemporary Judaism, Professor Jacob Neusner observed:

To study the Written Torah and the Oral Torah in light of each other is thus also to study how to study the word of God.

In the study of Torah, the sages formulated and followed various logical and hermeneutical principles. According to David Stern, all Rabbinic hermeneutics rest on two basic axioms:

These two principles make possible a great variety of interpretations. According to the Talmud,

Observant Jews thus view the Torah as dynamic, because it contains within it a host of interpretations[64]

According to Rabbinic tradition, all valid interpretations of the written Torah were revealed to Moses at Sinai in oral form, and handed down from teacher to pupil (The oral revelation is in effect coextensive with the Talmud itself). When different rabbis forwarded conflicting interpretations, they sometimes appealed to hermeneutic principles to legitimize their arguments; some rabbis claim that these principles were themselves revealed by God to Moses at Sinai.[65]

Thus, Hillel called attention to seven commonly used hermeneutical principles in the interpretation of laws (baraita at the beginning of Sifra); R. Ishmael, thirteen (baraita at the beginning of Sifra; this collection is largely an amplification of that of Hillel).[66]Eliezer b. Jose ha-Gelili listed 32, largely used for the exegesis of narrative elements of Torah. All the hermeneutic rules scattered through the Talmudim and Midrashim have been collected by Malbim in Ayyelet ha-Shachar, the introduction to his commentary on the Sifra. Nevertheless, R. Ishmael’s 13 principles are perhaps the ones most widely known; they constitute an important, and one of Judaism’s earliest, contributions to logic, hermeneutics, and jurisprudence.[67]Judah Hadassi incorporated Ishmael’s principles into Karaite Judaism in the 12th century.[68] Today R. Ishmael’s 13 principles are incorporated into the Jewish prayer book to be read by observant Jews on a daily basis.[69][70][71][72]

The term “Judaism” derives from Iudaismus, a Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ioudaismos () (from the verb , “to side with or imitate the [Judeans]”),[73] and it was ultimately inspired by the Hebrew , Yehudah, “Judah”;[74][75] in Hebrew: , Yahadut. The term first appears in the Hellenistic Greek book of 2 Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. In the context of the age and period it meant “seeking or forming part of a cultural entity”[76] and it resembled its antonym hellenismos, a word that signified a people’s submission to Hellenic (Greek) cultural norms. The conflict between iudaismos and hellenismos lay behind the Maccabean revolt and hence the invention of the term iudaismos.[76]

Shaye J. D. Cohen writes in his book The Beginnings of Jewishness:

We are tempted, of course, to translate [Ioudasms] as “Judaism,” but this translation is too narrow, because in this first occurrence of the term, Ioudasms has not yet been reduced to the designation of a religion. It means rather “the aggregate of all those characteristics that makes Judaeans Judaean (or Jews Jewish).” Among these characteristics, to be sure, are practices and beliefs that we would today call “religious,” but these practices and beliefs are not the sole content of the term. Thus Ioudasms should be translated not as “Judaism” but as Judaeanness.[77]

The earliest instance in Europe where the term was used to mean “the profession or practice of the Jewish religion; the religious system or polity of the Jews”[citation needed] is Robert Fabyan’s The newe cronycles of Englande and of Fraunce a 1513. “Judaism” as a direct translation of the Latin Iudaismus first occurred in a 1611 English translation of the apocrypha (Deuterocanon in Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy), 2 Macc. ii. 21: “Those that behaved themselues manfully to their honour for Iudaisme.”[78]

According to Daniel Boyarin, the underlying distinction between religion and ethnicity is foreign to Judaism itself, and is one form of the dualism between spirit and flesh that has its origin in Platonic philosophy and that permeated Hellenistic Judaism.[79] Consequently, in his view, Judaism does not fit easily into conventional Western categories, such as religion, ethnicity, or culture. Boyarin suggests that this in part reflects the fact that much of Judaism’s more than 3,000-year history predates the rise of Western culture and occurred outside the West (that is, Europe, particularly medieval and modern Europe). During this time, Jews experienced slavery, anarchic and theocratic self-government, conquest, occupation, and exile. In the Diaspora, they were in contact with, and influenced by, ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenic cultures, as well as modern movements such as the Enlightenment (see Haskalah) and the rise of nationalism, which would bear fruit in the form of a Jewish state in their ancient homeland, the Land of Israel. They also saw an elite population convert to Judaism (the Khazars), only to disappear as the centers of power in the lands once occupied by that elite fell to the people of Rus and then the Mongols.[citation needed] Thus, Boyarin has argued that “Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity, because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these, in dialectical tension.”[80]

In contrast to this point of view, practices such as Humanistic Judaism reject the religious aspects of Judaism, while retaining certain cultural traditions.

According to Rabbinic Judaism, a Jew is anyone who was either born of a Jewish mother or who converted to Judaism in accordance with Jewish Law. Reconstructionist Judaism and the larger denominations of worldwide Progressive Judaism (also known as Liberal or Reform Judaism) accept the child as Jewish if one of the parents is Jewish, if the parents raise the child with a Jewish identity, but not the smaller regional branches.[clarification needed] All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts, although conversion has traditionally been discouraged since the time of the Talmud. The conversion process is evaluated by an authority, and the convert is examined on his or her sincerity and knowledge.[81] Converts are called “ben Abraham” or “bat Abraham”, (son or daughter of Abraham). Conversions have on occasion been overturned. In 2008, Israel’s highest religious court invalidated the conversion of 40,000 Jews, mostly from Russian immigrant families, even though they had been approved by an Orthodox rabbi.[82]

Rabbinical Judaism maintains that a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, is a Jew forever. Thus a Jew who claims to be an atheist or converts to another religion is still considered by traditional Judaism to be Jewish. According to some sources, the Reform movement has maintained that a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer a Jew,[83][84] and the Israeli Government has also taken that stance after Supreme Court cases and statutes.[85] However, the Reform movement has indicated that this is not so cut and dried, and different situations call for consideration and differing actions. For example, Jews who have converted under duress may be permitted to return to Judaism “without any action on their part but their desire to rejoin the Jewish community” and “A proselyte who has become an apostate remains, nevertheless, a Jew”.[86]

Karaite Judaism believes that Jewish identity can only be transmitted by patrilineal descent. Although a minority of modern Karaites believe that Jewish identity requires that both parents be Jewish, and not only the father. They argue that only patrilineal descent can transmit Jewish identity on the grounds that all descent in the Torah went according to the male line.[87]

The question of what determines Jewish identity in the State of Israel was given new impetus when, in the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion requested opinions on mihu Yehudi (“Who is a Jew”) from Jewish religious authorities and intellectuals worldwide in order to settle citizenship questions. This is still not settled, and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics.

The total number of Jews worldwide is difficult to assess because the definition of “who is a Jew” is problematic; not all Jews identify themselves as Jewish, and some who identify as Jewish are not considered so by other Jews. According to the Jewish Year Book (1901), the global Jewish population in 1900 was around 11 million. The latest available data is from the World Jewish Population Survey of 2002 and the Jewish Year Calendar (2005). In 2002, according to the Jewish Population Survey, there were 13.3million Jews around the world. The Jewish Year Calendar cites 14.6million. Jewish population growth is currently near zero percent, with 0.3% growth from 2000 to 2001.

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions, Rabbinism) (Hebrew: “Yahadut Rabanit” ) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah (Written Law) cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the Law.

The Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th century resulted in the division of Ashkenazi (Western) Jewry into religious movements or denominations, especially in North America and Anglophone countries. The main denominations today outside Israel (where the situation is rather different) are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.

Most Jewish Israelis classify themselves as “secular” (hiloni), “traditional” (masorti), “religious” (dati) or Haredi. The term “secular” is more popular as a self-description among Israeli families of western (European) origin, whose Jewish identity may be a very powerful force in their lives, but who see it as largely independent of traditional religious belief and practice. This portion of the population largely ignores organized religious life, be it of the official Israeli rabbinate (Orthodox) or of the liberal movements common to diaspora Judaism (Reform, Conservative).

The term “traditional” (masorti) is most common as a self-description among Israeli families of “eastern” origin (i.e., the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa). This term, as commonly used, has nothing to do with the Conservative Judaism, which also names itself “Masorti” outside North America. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the ways “secular” and “traditional” are used in Israel: they often overlap, and they cover an extremely wide range in terms of worldview and practical religious observance. The term “Orthodox” is not popular in Israeli discourse, although the percentage of Jews who come under that category is far greater than in the diaspora. What would be called “Orthodox” in the diaspora includes what is commonly called dati (religious) or haredi (ultra-Orthodox) in Israel. The former term includes what is called “Religious Zionism” or the “National Religious” community, as well as what has become known over the past decade or so as haredi-leumi (nationalist haredi), or “Hardal”, which combines a largely haredi lifestyle with nationalist ideology. (Some people, in Yiddish, also refer to observant Orthodox Jews as frum, as opposed to frei (more liberal Jews)).

Haredi applies to a populace that can be roughly divided into three separate groups along both ethnic and ideological lines: (1) “Lithuanian” (non-hasidic) haredim of Ashkenazic origin; (2) Hasidic haredim of Ashkenazic origin; and (3) Sephardic haredim.

Karaite Judaism defines itself as the remnants of the non-Rabbinic Jewish sects of the Second Temple period, such as the Sadducees. The Karaites (“Scripturalists”) accept only the Hebrew Bible and what they view as the Peshat (“simple” meaning); they do not accept non-biblical writings as authoritative. Some European Karaites do not see themselves as part of the Jewish community at all, although most do.

The Samaritans, a very small community located entirely around Mount Gerizim in the Nablus/Shechem region of the West Bank and in Holon, near Tel Aviv in Israel, regard themselves as the descendants of the Israelites of the Iron Age kingdom of Israel. Their religious practices are based on the literal text of the written Torah (Five Books of Moses), which they view as the only authoritative scripture (with a special regard also for the Samaritan Book of Joshua).

Jewish ethics may be guided by halakhic traditions, by other moral principles, or by central Jewish virtues. Jewish ethical practice is typically understood to be marked by values such as justice, truth, peace, loving-kindness (chesed), compassion, humility, and self-respect. Specific Jewish ethical practices include practices of charity (tzedakah) and refraining from negative speech (lashon hara). Proper ethical practices regarding sexuality and many other issues are subjects of dispute among Jews.

Traditionally, Jews recite prayers three times daily, Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv with a fourth prayer, Mussaf added on Shabbat and holidays. At the heart of each service is the Amidah or Shemoneh Esrei. Another key prayer in many services is the declaration of faith, the Shema Yisrael (or Shema). The Shema is the recitation of a verse from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4): Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad”Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God! The Lord is One!”

Most of the prayers in a traditional Jewish service can be recited in solitary prayer, although communal prayer is preferred. Communal prayer requires a quorum of ten adult Jews, called a minyan. In nearly all Orthodox and a few Conservative circles, only male Jews are counted toward a minyan; most Conservative Jews and members of other Jewish denominations count female Jews as well.

In addition to prayer services, observant traditional Jews recite prayers and benedictions throughout the day when performing various acts. Prayers are recited upon waking up in the morning, before eating or drinking different foods, after eating a meal, and so on.

The approach to prayer varies among the Jewish denominations. Differences can include the texts of prayers, the frequency of prayer, the number of prayers recited at various religious events, the use of musical instruments and choral music, and whether prayers are recited in the traditional liturgical languages or the vernacular. In general, Orthodox and Conservative congregations adhere most closely to tradition, and Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues are more likely to incorporate translations and contemporary writings in their services. Also, in most Conservative synagogues, and all Reform and Reconstructionist congregations, women participate in prayer services on an equal basis with men, including roles traditionally filled only by men, such as reading from the Torah. In addition, many Reform temples use musical accompaniment such as organs and mixed choirs.

A kippah (Hebrew: , plural kippot; Yiddish: , yarmulke) is a slightly rounded brimless skullcap worn by many Jews while praying, eating, reciting blessings, or studying Jewish religious texts, and at all times by some Jewish men. In Orthodox communities, only men wear kippot; in non-Orthodox communities, some women also wear kippot. Kippot range in size from a small round beanie that covers only the back of the head to a large, snug cap that covers the whole crown.

Tzitzit (Hebrew: ) (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tzitzis) are special knotted “fringes” or “tassels” found on the four corners of the tallit (Hebrew: ) (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tallis), or prayer shawl. The tallit is worn by Jewish men and some Jewish women during the prayer service. Customs vary regarding when a Jew begins wearing a tallit. In the Sephardi community, boys wear a tallit from bar mitzvah age. In some Ashkenazi communities, it is customary to wear one only after marriage. A tallit katan (small tallit) is a fringed garment worn under the clothing throughout the day. In some Orthodox circles, the fringes are allowed to hang freely outside the clothing.

Tefillin (Hebrew: ), known in English as phylacteries (from the Greek word , meaning safeguard or amulet), are two square leather boxes containing biblical verses, attached to the forehead and wound around the left arm by leather straps. They are worn during weekday morning prayer by observant Jewish men and some Jewish women.[90]

A kittel (Yiddish: ), a white knee-length overgarment, is worn by prayer leaders and some observant traditional Jews on the High Holidays. It is traditional for the head of the household to wear a kittel at the Passover seder in some communities, and some grooms wear one under the wedding canopy. Jewish males are buried in a tallit and sometimes also a kittel which are part of the tachrichim (burial garments).

Jewish holidays are special days in the Jewish calendar, which celebrate moments in Jewish history, as well as central themes in the relationship between God and the world, such as creation, revelation, and redemption.

Shabbat, the weekly day of rest lasting from shortly before sundown on Friday night to nightfall on Saturday night, commemorates God’s day of rest after six days of creation.[91] It plays a pivotal role in Jewish practice and is governed by a large corpus of religious law. At sundown on Friday, the woman of the house welcomes the Shabbat by lighting two or more candles and reciting a blessing. The evening meal begins with the Kiddush, a blessing recited aloud over a cup of wine, and the Mohtzi, a blessing recited over the bread. It is customary to have challah, two braided loaves of bread, on the table. During Shabbat, Jews are forbidden to engage in any activity that falls under 39 categories of melakhah, translated literally as “work”. In fact the activities banned on the Sabbath are not “work” in the usual sense: They include such actions as lighting a fire, writing, using money and carrying in the public domain. The prohibition of lighting a fire has been extended in the modern era to driving a car, which involves burning fuel and using electricity.

Jewish holy days (chaggim), celebrate landmark events in Jewish history, such as the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, and sometimes mark the change of seasons and transitions in the agricultural cycle. The three major festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, are called “regalim” (derived from the Hebrew word “regel”, or foot). On the three regalim, it was customary for the Israelites to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple.

The High Holidays (Yamim Noraim or “Days of Awe”) revolve around judgment and forgiveness.

Purim (Hebrew: (helpinfo) Prm “lots”) is a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of the evil Haman, who sought to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. It is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, mutual gifts of food and drink, charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22). Other customs include drinking wine, eating special pastries called hamantashen, dressing up in masks and costumes, and organizing carnivals and parties.

Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which occurs in February or March of the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah (Hebrew: , “dedication”) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev (Hebrew calendar). The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival’s eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on.

The holiday was called Hanukkah (meaning “dedication”) because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the “Miracle of the Oil”. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible and was never considered a major holiday in Judaism, but it has become much more visible and widely celebrated in modern times, mainly because it falls around the same time as Christmas and has national Jewish overtones that have been emphasized since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Tisha B’Av (Hebrew: or , “the Ninth of Av”) is a day of mourning and fasting commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and in later times, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

There are three more minor Jewish fast days that commemorate various stages of the destruction of the Temples. They are the 17th Tamuz, the 10th of Tevet and Tzom Gedaliah (the 3rd of Tishrei).

The modern holidays of Yom Ha-shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) commemorate the horrors of the Holocaust, the fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terrorism, and Israeli independence, respectively.

There are some who prefer to commemorate those who were killed in the Holocaust on the 10th of Tevet.

The core of festival and Shabbat prayer services is the public reading of the Torah, along with connected readings from the other books of the Tanakh, called Haftarah. Over the course of a year, the whole Torah is read, with the cycle starting over in the autumn, on Simchat Torah.

Synagogues are Jewish houses of prayer and study. They usually contain separate rooms for prayer (the main sanctuary), smaller rooms for study, and often an area for community or educational use. There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. The Reform movement mostly refer to their synagogues as temples. Some traditional features of a synagogue are:

In addition to synagogues, other buildings of significance in Judaism include yeshivas, or institutions of Jewish learning, and mikvahs, which are ritual baths.

The Jewish dietary laws are known as kashrut. Food prepared in accordance with them is termed kosher, and food that is not kosher is also known as treifah or treif. People who observe these laws are colloquially said to be “keeping kosher”.[92]

Many of the laws apply to animal-based foods. For example, in order to be considered kosher, mammals must have split hooves and chew their cud. The pig is arguably the most well-known example of a non-kosher animal.[93] Although it has split hooves, it does not chew its cud.[94] For seafood to be kosher, the animal must have fins and scales. Certain types of seafood, such as shellfish, crustaceans, and eels, are therefore considered non-kosher. Concerning birds, a list of non-kosher species is given in the Torah. The exact translations of many of the species have not survived, and some non-kosher birds’ identities are no longer certain. However, traditions exist about the kashrut status of a few birds. For example, both chickens and turkeys are permitted in most communities. Other types of animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, and most insects, are prohibited altogether.[92]

In addition to the requirement that the species be considered kosher, meat and poultry (but not fish) must come from a healthy animal slaughtered in a process known as shechitah. Without the proper slaughtering practices even an otherwise kosher animal will be rendered treif. The slaughtering process is intended to be quick and relatively painless to the animal. Forbidden parts of animals include the blood, some fats, and the area in and around the sciatic nerve.[92]

Jewish law also forbids the consumption of meat and dairy products together. The waiting period between eating meat and eating dairy varies by the order in which they are consumed and by community, and can extend for up to six hours. Based on the Biblical injunction against cooking a kid in its mother’s milk, this rule is mostly derived from the Oral Torah, the Talmud and Rabbinic law.[92] Chicken and other kosher birds are considered the same as meat under the laws of kashrut, but the prohibition is Rabbinic, not Biblical.[95]

The use of dishes, serving utensils, and ovens may make food treif that would otherwise be kosher. Utensils that have been used to prepare non-kosher food, or dishes that have held meat and are now used for dairy products, render the food treif under certain conditions.[92]

Furthermore, all Orthodox and some Conservative authorities forbid the consumption of processed grape products made by non-Jews, due to ancient pagan practices of using wine in rituals.[92] Some Conservative authorities permit wine and grape juice made without rabbinic supervision.[96]

The Torah does not give specific reasons for most of the laws of kashrut.[92] However, a number of explanations have been offered, including maintaining ritual purity, teaching impulse control, encouraging obedience to God, improving health, reducing cruelty to animals and preserving the distinctness of the Jewish community.[97] The various categories of dietary laws may have developed for different reasons, and some may exist for multiple reasons. For example, people are forbidden from consuming the blood of birds and mammals because, according to the Torah, this is where animal souls are contained.[98] In contrast, the Torah forbids Israelites from eating non-kosher species because “they are unclean”.[99] The Kabbalah describes sparks of holiness that are released by the act of eating kosher foods, but are too tightly bound in non-kosher foods to be released by eating.[100]

Survival concerns supersede all the laws of kashrut, as they do for most halakhot.[101][102]

The Tanakh describes circumstances in which a person who is tahor or ritually pure may become tamei or ritually impure. Some of these circumstances are contact with human corpses or graves, seminal flux, vaginal flux, menstruation, and contact with people who have become impure from any of these.[103][104] In Rabbinic Judaism, Kohanim, members of the hereditary caste that served as priests in the time of the Temple, are mostly restricted from entering grave sites and touching dead bodies.[105] During the Temple period, such priests (Kohanim) were required to eat their bread offering (Terumah) in a state of ritual purity, which laws eventually led to more rigid laws being enacted, such as hand-washing which became a requisite of all Jews before consuming ordinary bread.

An important subcategory of the ritual purity laws relates to the segregation of menstruating women. These laws are also known as niddah, literally “separation”, or family purity. Vital aspects of halakha for traditionally observant Jews, they are not usually followed by Jews in liberal denominations.[106]

Especially in Orthodox Judaism, the Biblical laws are augmented by Rabbinical injunctions. For example, the Torah mandates that a woman in her normal menstrual period must abstain from sexual intercourse for seven days. A woman whose menstruation is prolonged must continue to abstain for seven more days after bleeding has stopped.[103] The Rabbis conflated ordinary niddah with this extended menstrual period, known in the Torah as zavah, and mandated that a woman may not have sexual intercourse with her husband from the time she begins her menstrual flow until seven days after it ends. In addition, Rabbinical law forbids the husband from touching or sharing a bed with his wife during this period. Afterwards, purification can occur in a ritual bath called a mikveh.[106]

Traditional Ethiopian Jews keep menstruating women in separate huts and, similar to Karaite practice, do not allow menstruating women into their temples because of a temple’s special sanctity. Emigration to Israel and the influence of other Jewish denominations have led to Ethiopian Jews adopting more normative Jewish practices.[107][108]

Life-cycle events, or rites of passage, occur throughout a Jew’s life that serve to strengthen Jewish identity and bind him/her to the entire community.

The role of the priesthood in Judaism has significantly diminished since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE when priests attended to the Temple and sacrifices. The priesthood is an inherited position, and although priests no longer have any but ceremonial duties, they are still honored in many Jewish communities. Many Orthodox Jewish communities believe that they will be needed again for a future Third Temple and need to remain in readiness for future duty.

From the time of the Mishnah and Talmud to the present, Judaism has required specialists or authorities for the practice of very few rituals or ceremonies. A Jew can fulfill most requirements for prayer by himself. Some activitiesreading the Torah and haftarah (a supplementary portion from the Prophets or Writings), the prayer for mourners, the blessings for bridegroom and bride, the complete grace after mealsrequire a minyan, the presence of ten Jews.

The most common professional clergy in a synagogue are:

Jewish prayer services do involve two specified roles, which are sometimes, but not always, filled by a rabbi or hazzan in many congregations. In other congregations these roles are filled on an ad-hoc basis by members of the congregation who lead portions of services on a rotating basis:

Many congregations, especially larger ones, also rely on a:

The three preceding positions are usually voluntary and considered an honor. Since the Enlightenment large synagogues have often adopted the practice of hiring rabbis and hazzans to act as shatz and baal kriyah, and this is still typically the case in many Conservative and Reform congregations. However, in most Orthodox synagogues these positions are filled by laypeople on a rotating or ad-hoc basis. Although most congregations hire one or more Rabbis, the use of a professional hazzan is generally declining in American congregations, and the use of professionals for other offices is rarer still.

At its core, the Tanakh is an account of the Israelites’ relationship with God from their earliest history until the building of the Second Temple (c. 535 BCE). Abraham is hailed as the first Hebrew and the father of the Jewish people. As a reward for his act of faith in one God, he was promised that Isaac, his second son, would inherit the Land of Israel (then called Canaan). Later, the descendants of Isaac’s son Jacob were enslaved in Egypt, and God commanded Moses to lead the Exodus from Egypt. At Mount Sinai, they received the Torahthe five books of Moses. These books, together with Nevi’im and Ketuvim are known as Torah Shebikhtav as opposed to the Oral Torah, which refers to the Mishnah and the Talmud. Eventually, God led them to the land of Israel where the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh for over 300 years to rally the nation against attacking enemies. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines to capture the tabernacle. The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet that they needed to be governed by a permanent king, and Samuel appointed Saul to be their King. When the people pressured Saul into going against a command conveyed to him by Samuel, God told Samuel to appoint David in his stead.

Once King David was established, he told the prophet Nathan that he would like to build a permanent temple, and as a reward for his actions, God promised David that he would allow his son, Solomon, to build the First Temple and the throne would never depart from his children.

Rabbinic tradition holds that the details and interpretation of the law, which are called the Oral Torah or oral law, were originally an unwritten tradition based upon what God told Moses on Mount Sinai. However, as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, these oral laws were recorded by Rabbi Judah HaNasi (Judah the Prince) in the Mishnah, redacted circa 200 CE. The Talmud was a compilation of both the Mishnah and the Gemara, rabbinic commentaries redacted over the next three centuries. The Gemara originated in two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Palestine and Babylonia.[109] Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud. It was compiled sometime during the 4th century in Palestine.[109] The Babylonian Talmud was compiled from discussions in the houses of study by the scholars Ravina I, Ravina II, and Rav Ashi by 500 CE, although it continued to be edited later.

Some critical scholars oppose the view that the sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, were divinely inspired. Many of these scholars accept the general principles of the documentary hypothesis and suggest that the Torah consists of inconsistent texts edited together in a way that calls attention to divergent accounts.[110][pageneeded][111][112] Many suggest that during the First Temple period, the people of Israel believed that each nation had its own god, but that their god was superior to other gods.[113][pageneeded][114][pageneeded] Some suggest that strict monotheism developed during the Babylonian Exile, perhaps in reaction to Zoroastrian dualism.[115] In this view, it was only by the Hellenic period that most Jews came to believe that their god was the only god and that the notion of a clearly bounded Jewish nation identical with the Jewish religion formed.[116]

Read this article:
Judaism – Wikipedia

Sephardic Surnames Sephardic Genealogy

Posted By on December 13, 2017

Do I have a Sephardic surname?

Sephardic surnames were invented by a well-meaning, if confused, Ashkenazi amateur genealogist in the 1990s. He argued that if a New Christian or Jew had used a specific surname then theSURNAME was Jewish and therefore people using the surname today are of Jewish descent. This is equivalent to claiming that anyone who has ever eaten Chinese food is Chinese.The claim was plastered across the young Internet in 2001. It has set back Sephardic genealogy by a generation. Every time it seems this nonsense is about to die, someone new picks it up.Now, probably hundredsof people around the world mistakenly believe they are of Jewish descent, and some have even made major life changes as a consequence.

So, whats the truth? If your surname isCohen then you are probably descended from a priest in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. ALevy is probably descendedfrom the tribe of Levi. These are Jewish surnames. Jews were a minority in Spain and Portugal, and adopted the same surnames as everyone else. Sometimes they adopted their Old Christian godparents surname, and sometimes probably a surname was chosen for other reasons. It figures that most people with a specificapellido(surname) today will not be of patrilineal Jewish ancestry. A New Christian or Jew once using your surname does not suggest you have Jewish ancestryunless you can prove your descent from that person.

Depending on jurisdiction, your family surnames may not have been fixed until the late 18th Century. That is to say, the surname you have today may not have been used by your ancestors.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. The surname Israel was reportedly used by some converts to Judaism. I suspectJessurun may be an invented surname.

Most Common Surnames amongst Portuguese Jews

It isreportedthat the most common Sephardic surnames in Portuguese Inquisition documents are:

Rodrigues_________453 people

Nunes____________229 people

Mendes___________224 people

Lopes____________282 people

Miranda__________190 people

Gomes___________184 people

Henriques_________174 people

Costa____________138 people

Fernandes_________132 people

Pereira___________124 people

Dias_____________124 people

These are also common names amongst Portuguese Old Christians. There is no such thing as a Sephardic surname. You need genealogical evidence.

Given/First Names

Various Jewish communities around the world have naming traditions. So, for example some Ashkenazi communities will name a child aftera recently deceased relative, whilst some (not Western)Sephardicand Mizrahi/Magrebi Jewishcommunities name the child for a living one. Some communities have very fixed systems with the first children named after specific grandparents.

Within practising Jewish communities, aboy or man who is very sick may be given the second given name Haim (life, in Hebrew) to confuse the Angel of Death. I am not clear if women were given the name Chaya (female of Haim). The records are much more interested in men, which always strikes me as unjustas it was the women who kept the show on the road.

I am not aware ofevidence that the Western Sephardim who mostly had little knowledge of Judaism during the sixteenth and seventeen centuries knew or followed these tradition. Anyway, most of them had Christian rather than Hebrew names.

On embracing Judaism in Amsterdam it has been arguedthat many first generation male returners took the name Abraham, with their sons being Isaac. I am not clear if it is claimed that first generation women became Sarah. I am not entirely persuaded by all this. Maybe it is what happened for a period in early 17th Century Amsterdam. In my family the male names David and Daniel, Jewish heros, tend to repeat down the generations.

See the article here:

Sephardic Surnames Sephardic Genealogy

Zionism in the Light of Jerusalem – counterpunch.org

Posted By on December 13, 2017

Donald Trumps official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment.

Its a clumsy, all-too-obvious unmasking of decades of bipartisan U.S. policy whose contempt for Palestinians has been cloaked with a smile and a handshake.

As such, its an embarrassment for the Zionist political and media elite that prefers to operate behind smiles and handshakes, and not flaunt their power.

Its an embarrassment to liberal Zionists and peace process promoters everywherein the American political parties and media, in European conservative and social democrat governments, and in Jewish Zionist organizations. For fifty years, they have laser-focused attention on the post-67 occupation, and done all that they can [nothing concrete], in solidarity with the Israeli Jewish peace movement [dwindling to insignificance in an increasingly fascistic political culture], to end the occupation [ minimize its cost to the Jewish state, cause no concessions, no withdrawals, no Palestinian state is already proclaimed Israeli policy].

Its an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project, holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.

Its an embarrassment to those liberals who want to portray Donald Trump as a uniquely evil interloper imposed on American politics by a foreign power, rather than understand him as the product of an American political culture that they helped to create while obtusely refusing to recognize what they were doing.

The only parties who are not embarrassed are the hardthat is, intellectually honest and consistentZionists in Israel and the United States (many liberal Democrats included) and Donald Trump himself, who is immune to embarrassment.

All this embarrassment provides a fine example of the positive repercussions of the Trump-effect that I discussed in a previous essay, which is steadily eroding the thin remaining patina of Americas soft power in the world, an essential support of the Euro-American imperialist alliance.

After all, Israels relentless Judaization of East Jerusalem, consistent with its long-held declaration of sovereignty over the entire city, was proceeding swimmingly, with only the feeblest occasional murmurs of protest, accompanied by massive countervailing deliveries of arms and money, from the peace-process-loving governments of Europe and America. Trumps gratuitous, self-aggrandizing gesture, by unmasking that as the de facto acceptance of annexation that it is, only brings unwanted attention to the whole rotten game, and to the hypocrisy of those governments especially.

Good riddance to the pretense! As Noura Erakat says: Trump has removed the emperors clothes to reveal the farce of the peace process[He] has finally ended the United States double-speak and should have ended any faith that the US will deliver Palestinian independence or that Israel is interested in giving up its territorial holdings captured in war. And Rashid Khalidi: Trump may have inadvertently cleared the air. He may have smashed a rotten status quo of US peace processing that has served only to entrench and legitimize Israels military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land for a quarter-century.

In other words, Trump has suddenly and single-handedly destroyed Americans pose as the honest broker in the Middle east and the Solomonic arbiter of world affairs in general, in a way that forces the European and Palestinian political leaders to make an explicit break from what is now declared American policy. For now, of course, that break is rhetorical, but should it remain soif European and Palestinian leaders do not work a political strategy independent of, and in opposition to, the United Statesthere will be no denying their capitulation and servility.

Indeed, Europe, in the person of the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, has already laid down the markers for itself: Germany can no longer simply react to U.S. policy but must establish its own positioneven after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the U.S. will never be the same. Even after Trump leaves the White House. This is a recognition that the American regimenot just Trump, but precisely what he is the culmination ofis not a trustworthy and reliable partner for the management of global capitalist stability. This is what Trump is wreaking. And its a very good thing.

As excessive and gratuitous as Trumps Jerusalem announcement was, there is no question that it is the culmination of American politics. It is the perfect example of how Trump is the symptom not the cause of long-festering political rot, the product not the antithesis of American political culture. His recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the fulfillment, exactly as Trump says, of a promise thats been de rigueur for presidential candidates, and of the demand of a law (JerusalemEmbassy Act of 1995) passed twenty-two years ago by overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress. Just six months ago, the Senateincluding Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sandersvoted 90-0 to demand that Trump abide by its provisions. Schumer, who believes hes on a mission from God to be the guardian of Israel, had last week criticized Trump for his indecisiveness about declaring Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel and moving the embassy.

Who can forget the scene at the 2012 Democratic Convention, when an amendment to the platform declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital was adopted against the clear opposition of the majority? That was shoved down the partys throat by Obama, who had it shoved down his throat by AIPAC. (It was language Obama had removed from the platform, which AIPAC browbeat him into restoring.) As I discussed in a post at the time, the blithely ignored floor vote was a display of Stalinist party discipline for which Obama was congratulated by an MSNBC roundtable including ODonnell, Maddow, and Sharpton.

It was Obama, too, who (after becoming first American President to give bunker-buster bombs to Israel. He did that secretly, because he didnt want it to be known that his really brave and progressive and highly-publicized peace-process demand that Israel stop settlement construction in exchange for such gifts, which Israel of course ignored, was another empty American bluff. And it was Obama who, in 2013, became the first American President to demand that Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state. That was a new, gratuitous and excessive demand at the time, foisted on everyone by Netanyahu and AIPAC because they knew it would be unacceptable to the Palestinians. Obamas adoption of that requirement, which has become locked into American policy, was no less damaging to the ostensible peace-process, with its infinitely-receding goalpost, than Trumps Jerusalem declaration, and perhaps more contemptuous of the Palestinians. Its the equivalent of demanding that Native Americans must recognize that America is a White Mans state.

Really. Think about it.

So, whatever the problem is with declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, its not Trumps. Its Americas. Its a problem the Democrats share responsibility for, and will not get us out of.

Past Prologue

Lets name it clearly: Its Americas problem with Zionism.

After the You must accept the Jewish State insult and the You must accept Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish State insult, can we dispense with the diversions? Can we recognize that the problem isnt how many settlers are in which part of which city, or how long and where exactly the wall should be located, or the Green Line or the Blue Line, or, indeed, the occupation? Lets, without any more fear or hesitation, name and critique the fundamental problem: Zionism.

Zionism is a colonialist project. Israel is a colonial-settler state. The fault lies in colonialismyou know, that thing where a group of people, who want the land somebody else is living on, take it. By subjugating, expelling, and/or exterminating the indigenous population. Thats what has to be named and opposed. Every other problem in the context is a derivative of that.

Zionism has the particular distinction of being the last major initiation of a blatant settler-colonial project. It was possible at the end of WWII (1945-8) because racism and ethno-supremacist colonialism were still integral parts of the Western worldview. The great world powers could still blithely dismiss the lives, land, and humanity of an Arab population as dispensablesecondary both to the aspirations of the largely European Jews who formed the Zionist vanguard and to the guilty consciences of European gentiles. It was compensatory colonialism, with the compensation paid by an expendable third(world) people.

In the post-WWII, post-holocaust context, Zionism had the further peculiar distinction of being able to conjure about itself an aura of virtue that effectively occluded the blatant injustice of the colonialism it is. Thanks to the consistent and intensive Zionist influence on Euro-American political, media, and cultural institutions, that aura has enshrouded Zionism for Westerners eyes for 69 years, long past colonialisms sell-by date. That aura of virtue is what makes breaking up with Zionism so hard to do, for so many, to this day.

Ive discussed more of the history and arguments about this in a previous essay. At this point, there is so much information available from so many channels, including Israeli scholars, that supporters of Israel who are intellectually-honest have a hard time denying that the Zionist conquest of Palestine was colonialist ethnic cleansing, and Israel a colonial state. Liberal Americans know very well that, if such a project were to be proposed today, they would denounce and reject itno ifs, ands or buts. Today, any person of a modern, secular, liberal cast of mind recognizes the abolition and rejection of colonialism as one of historys irrefutably progressive milestones, and would see any attempt at colonial conquest as an unacceptable historical crime.

Yet that is exactly what Israel is doing. Israel is exactly that attempt.

Attempt is an important word here. Zionists want to think all the nasty work of ethnic cleansing is in the ancent (1948) or at worst early-modern (1967 when liberal Zionists grudgingly acknowledge, colonial aggression was certainly past its sell-by date) past. They present Israel, whatever its nasty origins, as a finished historical product: a liberal democracy filled with juice bars and tech startupswhich would be stable and progressive, if only the fanatical Arabs/Muslims would leave it alone.

Indeed, a favorite Zionists argument Ive heard delivered as if its a killing rhetorical blow packed with irrefutable historical realism, is some version of: So what, youre a colonizer, too. American Indians! Gotcha!

It baffles me that anyone thinks thats an effective argument. Accepting the damining admission that the relationship between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs today is analogous to that between European settlers and Native Americans from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century (and leaving the ethics or that aside), one might start a reply with the following:

Being historically realist and all, we have to recognize that, tragically, over those four centuries, the Native American population was so completely ravaged that it now constitutes less than 1% of the population. If Native Americans were now the majority of the population in North America under white settler control; if they were engaged in a fierce resistance struggle to prevent being expelled or exterminated; if they had the support of hundreds of millions of their neighbors, as well as of populations and governments throughout the world, as well as of an established international ideological and legal framework that forbade and denounced the colonial project the white settlers were still trying to complete (while demanding that everyone recognize America as the White Mans State)then you would have a relevant analogy.

Sorry, but the Zionist project, Israel, is not finished. It is quite unfinished and precarious, and Israeli leaders know it.

Back to the Future

This is so because the Palestinians are not defeated and have not surrendered. Too few of them have been exterminated; they have not been expelled far enough away; they have not been thoroughly enough subjugated. The existence and resistance of Palestinians put the lie to the idea that Israel is a stable, finished state and that the dirty work of Zionist colonialism is in the past. As the rallying cry of many Zionists in Israel today has it, they still have to finish 48.

Israel is profoundly insecure. Not because of any external military threat, but because of the presence of the Palestinians. Their defiant presence is an intrinsic threat to the Zionist project. External threatswhether ideological or economic or military, whether from specific countries or from the international communityderive from the presence of the Palestinians and what that implies about the legitimacy of the Zionist project in an anti-colonial, anti-apartheid world.

Every attack on Gaza, Lebanon, or Syria, all the hair-pulling anxiety over Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, and where the next war will just have to be, and how many Palestinians can be dispossessed or expelled how quickly before somebody in the worldespecially Americans, and most especially American Jewsstarts to push back, demonstrates that Israel is an unfinished colonial project that hasnt quite figured out how to achieve the final submission of its colonial subjects. It was as true in 1999, when Edward Said said it, as it was in 1948, and as it is now: the contest is as alive as ever.

Indeed, the famous loaded question Does Israel have a right to exist? is posed by Zionists so insistently precisely because it is an unsettled question about the future. Its not only about past eventswhether Zionists back in the day had the right to establish the colonial entity they did, but also about a present, aspirational practicewhether they now have the right to establish the colonial entity they would like to. The question, reallyand those hard-core, finish 48 Zionists know itis: Will Israel exist?

The question is also asking us: Do you agree that it is right for Zionists to be establishing a colonial-settler Jewish State, ethnic cleansing and all? Are you going to sign on for that?

Israel will only be finished and stable if it achieves that. One can argue that its almost there or that its a long way off, but done it aint.

Thats why we should take the opportunity that Trumps latest embarrassment of American policy gives us to exit for good the phony two-state peace-process paradigm, to forthrightly name and reject Zionism and the colonialism it is. We need to go back to the future, to a proposal for a single, if bi-national, secular democratic state, a de-colonized polity in the territory of historic Palestine, where Arabs and Jews can live in peace and equality. Something along the lines of the secular, democratic state the PLO called for in 1968 and the full secular democracy that Edward Said championed again in 1999.

Love It Loud

To be sure: I am not sanguine about this. The political way forward is not clear.

On the one hand, the exhaustion of the peace process and the Palestinian Authority is now a done deal, as I hope everyone now recognizes. At least as important, the de-legitimization of Zionism, is already well-advanced. Politically and ideologically, the actions and discourse of Israel and its partisans themselves do as much as anything to discredit Zionism. And, despite its being kept in the cultural shadows, more Americans are aware of the problems with the dominant Zionist narrative. The BDS movement is strong and growing. On American campuses today, Zionism is losing the all-important ideological battle, especially in the crucial constituency of young Jewish-Americans, and the effects of that are radiating throughout the culture. The reality of this effect is demonstrated by the increased anxiety among the guardians of Zionism, with their increasing efforts to censor and suppress criticism of Israel, to define anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, and to outlaw anti-Zionism and the BDS movement. The arc of history is not bending toward Zionist colonialism.

To wax ironic, Zionisms fatal weakness may be the effect of its greatest strengthits tenacious entwinement in our political culture, which is hard to overstate. We live in a country where powerful politicians and the wealthy donors who control them proclaim their fealty to Israel; where Israeli officials enjoy veto power over candidates for office down to the level of State Assembly. where the Secretary of State gives a devoutly Zionist speech and is still criticized for not being obsequious enough to Israel, where the Vice-President declares I am a Zionist, and where a President who was excoriated for avoiding service in the American army can say I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die for Israel, and nobody bats an eyelash.

Really, think about it.

Perhaps most vomit-inducing in the present context, its a country where the Congress has just overwhelmingly passed a bill de-funding the Palestinian Authority (except, at Israeli insistence, the PA security forces) if they give any support to any family member of a Palestinian convicted of what Israel calls terrorism (and others would call anti-colonial resistance), and at the same time that Congress allows the great charitable organization, The Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), to collect $50 million a night, tax-free to itself and tax-deductible to its donors. All that money is needed, over and above the $3.7+ billion the U.S. gives Israel every year, in order to provide extra-comfortable well-being facilities for the beleaguered Israeli coed infantry units who have the tough job of dragging Palestinian families from their homes and blowing them upthose families the PA is now forbidden to support. Friends of the IDF galas are hosted in New York by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and in Los Angeles by Democratic billionaire Haim Saban, and entertained by celebrities like Seal and Israeli-born KISS-er, Gene Simmons (Chaim Witz). Bi-partisanship rocks.

America has become a Zionist country. And it shows. And its discomfiting. For the most powerful people and institutions in the United States, Zionism has become a core component of American ideology and politics, married, like nothing else is, to capitalism and imperialism as a co-equal existential imperative.

Its a peculiar relationship because capitalism and imperialism do not need Zionism, and may even be weakened by it. Zionism is a surplus oppression. The excessiveness and gratuity of Trumps declaration on Jerusalem, which so many people recognize, is only a reflection of the excessiveness and gratuity of Zionism itself, which too many people have for too long taken for granted.

Dragging people from their homes and blowing them up is excessive, an atrocity too far. A partner whose addicted to such behavior will inevitably create trouble for the capitalist-imperialist family, which has enough problems of its own to deal with. Its the U.S who insists, excessively, on including Zionism in a polyamorous arrangement, and who is, as can be expected in such cases, losing its mind over this misplaced affection, and endangering the core relationship.

This is what the German FM and other members of the European Frist Wives Club see in Trumps Jerusalem declaration. This is what a lot of people see in all the state-destroying, jihadi-chaos-creating aggression from Iraq to Syria and heading toward Iranall of which makes no sense until you understand that the American project throughout has been an overcomplicated mnage–trois: capitalism-imperialism-Zionism.

As Shoshana Bryen says: The United States military, then, is a Zionist institution. Bryen is herself a perfect example of the intimate relations between Israel and the American military, having made the rounds as former Director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA,, the prime meeting spot where Israelis entice senior American officers to see the world as Israel does), and as a lecturer at the National Defense University and the U.S. Army War College.

The hope is that its all becoming too obvious and too muchan embarrassment of too many riches for Zionism. Its why Hillary Clintons campaign decided not to highlightexcept to donorsher passionate love for Israel: We shouldnt have Israel at public events. Especially dem (Democratic) activists. What about this as a base, and then she can drop in Israel when shes with donors. While the donors and elite still swoon, the arc of the Democratic base is bending away from Zionismand the Zionists know it.

There Is No Time

On the other hand, we have to recognize the persistent weaknesses of the Palestinians, who suffer constant, horrendous, human and material losses every day at the hands of a Zionist colonial machine. Israel, the Jewish State, has already established an apartheid regime, the late stage of colonialism, and has made clear that it is determined to extend that as far and as long as it can, with all necessary force. The illusion that America would do something to stop or reverse this has been finally shattered. Though its stance may be changing, thanks to the likes of Trump, and it is a medium- to long-term weak spot for Israel, the international community still grants Israel effective impunity.

The Arab countries? Ha! Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, and Egypt will supply the rope and tie the knot. The staunchest Arab supporters of PalestineIraq, Libya, and Syriajust happen to be the countries ravaged by that United States military institution. A weakened Syria and (non-Arab) Iran may give some assistance, but really, nobodys coming to save the Palestinians.

External support in the way of boycott and sanctions will help also, but significant victories can only come from organized resistance by Palestinians themselves. The Palestinian political leadership which, as Noura Erakat says, has abandoned confrontation with Israel as a matter of policy would have to be changed. New leadership would have to emerge that renounces Oslo and forges a militant struggle for equal political and social rights, a multi-level strategy of resistance against colonialism and apartheid. This will be very tough, in a community thats been ground down for decades by the Israeli-PA security apparatus, and the collaborationist mindset and economic interests that support it.

To be thoroughly frank: though militant non-violent civilian resistance must be the core of struggle, it has to be backed by some kind of armed power. The ANCs victorious fight against South African apartheid was not confined to terrorist Nelson Mandelas prison cell; his comrades were busy outside. A movement to defeat colonialism and apartheid must demonstrate the capacity not only to take punishment, but also to inflict it, to hurt the forces and institutions imposing Zionist oppression and to disrupt the normalcy of Zionist daily life. Everywhere, enemies of the IDF. No well-being respite. No justice, no peace. That is the only way victory over colonialism and apartheid ever has, or ever will be, won.

Since the Zionists founding spasm of brutal ethnic cleansingexpelling over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs while killing thousands of othersand since colonialism fell into disgrace, Israel has been constrained to pursue further ethnic cleansing in a fitful series of measures, with levels of brutality adjusted for various international political and ideological exigencies. But it has not ceased to probe those limits. Israel is working very hard to compress political time and make it suddenly possible again to exterminate or expel enough Palestinians (were talking at least tens of thousands) to stabilize Israel for most of a century. Thats one of the things Israels, and its American patrons, support of jihadi chaos in the region, as well as its attempt to foment war with Iran, is all about. The fat lady hasnt sung, but the orchestra is in full swing. The Palestinians dont have forever to stop the music.

So, theres no room for false hope or assumptions of inevitable victory. Theres an opportunity now for a successful fight to defeat Zionism, pitched precisely as struggle against colonialism and apartheid, and it must be seized quickly. It is also not impossible for Zionism to defeat the Palestinians in some effectively irreversible way, as it keeps trying to do.

Its just the casethe practical, utterly realistic political casethat nothing, not a thing, can be gained by trying to revive the zombie two-state peace process that has been killed over and over again by the U.S. and Israel themselves. To seal the deal, Donald Trump just drove a stake through its heart. There is no two-state solution. There is only one state: either the one colonial, apartheid state thats coalescing now, or the one democratic state of equal rights that justice demands.

For American left allies of Palestine, its time, past time, to clearly reject, not just the occupation of Jerusalem or the West Bank, but Zionism tout court.

Back to the future it is. Liberal Zionists like to imagine 48 is finished in some democratically acceptable way. Militant Zionists know they still have to finish 48 as ruthlessly as possible. Principled anti-Zioniststhat is, principled anti-colonialistshave to work very hard to make sure that 48 ends in failure, and that Israel never becomes the finished colonial project it wishes to be.

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Zionism in the Light of Jerusalem – counterpunch.org

They Live : John Carpenter World Message of Zionism [film …

Posted By on December 12, 2017

A detail analysis of “They Live” by John Carpenter. Is it a movie misunderstood by Hollywood or is it a movie very much understood that they wanted it hidden from the Hollywood mainstream?

This is a complete video made from timeman786’s channel:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyu3…

The more political elements of the film are derived from Carpenter’s growing distaste with the ever-increasing commercialization of 1980s popular culture and politics. He remarked, “I began watching TV again. I quickly realized that everything we see is designed to sell us something… It’s all about wanting us to buy something. The only thing they want to do is take our money.” To this end, Carpenter thought of sunglasses as being the tool to seeing the truth, which “is seen in black and white. It’s as if the aliens have colorized us. That means, of course, that Ted Turner is really a monster from outer space.” (Turner had received some bad press in the 1980s for colorizing classic black-and-white movies.) The director commented on the alien threat in an interview, “They want to own all our businesses. A Universal executive asked me, ‘Where’s the threat in that? We all sell out every day.’ I ended up using that line in the film.” The aliens were deliberately made to look like ghouls according to Carpenter, who said: “The creatures are corrupting us, so they, themselves, are corruptions of human beings.”

Nationalist Zionism originated from the Revisionist Zionists led by Jabotinsky. The Revisionists left the World Zionist Organization in 1935 because it refused to state that the creation of a Jewish state was an objective of Zionism. The revisionists advocated the formation of a Jewish Army in Palestine to force the Arab population to accept mass Jewish migration. Revisionist Zionism evolved into the Likud Party in Israel, which has dominated most governments since 1977. It advocates that Israel maintain control of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and takes a hard-line approach in the Israeli-Arab conflict. In 2005 the Likud split over the issue of creation of a Palestinian state on the occupied territories, and party members advocating peace talks helped form the Kadima party.

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They Live : John Carpenter World Message of Zionism [film …

Hasidic Store Targeted In New Jersey Town Of Mahwah The …

Posted By on December 12, 2017

World of Appliances is a small strip mall operation, sandwiched between a Dunkin Donuts and a sushi joint. Four days a week, it sells refrigerators, washing machines and vacuums to residents of a New Jersey suburb.

But since opening this summer, the store has been targeted by a self-styled neighborhood watch group. The group has reported World of Appliances for violating Blue Laws, the prohibitions on retail activity designed to keep people in church on Sunday, and which are still in force on this small patch of the Garden State.

World of Appliances is now the first business to be reported for breaking a Blue Law in Mahwah, New Jersey, in at least ten years. Police have been called there three times since July. The store is unique for other reasons: It is Jewish-owned in a town being sued for discriminating against Jews. And, as it turns out, discrimination against Jews Hasidic Jews in particular was the watch groups main objective.

If [Hasidic Jews have] such blatant contempt for God then why would we ever expect them to honor Mahwahs laws? the groups creator, Vince Crandon, wrote in August. While my past experiences [with them] have been mostly business related, coming to my hometown has now made things personal.

Facebook/MahWatch

Crandon, a businessman who once attempted to buy a defunct casino in Atlantic City from a Jewish developer, founded MahWatch in July.

At a township council meeting that month, he described the group as a community group of people that are gonna look out for all of our community. In posts on MahWatchs Facebook page, however, Crandon made it clear that the group was created to keep Hasidic Jews an ultra-religious, often insular wing of Judaism out of Mahwah.

The owner of World of Appliances doesnt live in Mahwah; indeed, no Hasidic Jews do, according to members of a nearby Hasidic community. But many live right across the border in New York, in towns with fast-growing Hasidic populations, such as Suffern and Monsey.

Mahwah residents have responded to a heightened presence of Hasidic Jews in the township of 25,000 by voicing fears of a soft invasion of the township, as one person wrote online over the summer.

The Mahwah town council then passed a rule effectively prohibiting the installation of an eruv, a ritual fence that Hasidic Jews require to carry objects outside their homes on the Sabbath. In October, the New Jersey attorney general sued the town and its council for discrimination, citing anti-Semitic comments on social media and resident meetings at which local organizers encouraged profiling of Hasidic Jews.

Though the complaints were made anonymously, two township officials said they believe Crandon was behind the calls.

On one occasion, a call resulted in a complaint being filed against the store after an officer entered the store and found a sales representative showing merchandise to a family on a Sunday. It was the first Blue Law complaint filed in Mahwah in over ten years.

The calls appear to have been premeditated in Facebook comments made on the MahWatch page.

Facebook/MahWatch

Vince Crandon, MahWatchs founder, apparently referring to Hasidic Jews as my primary concern.

Just to be one the correct side of things not look like were targeting Hasidics, we should keep an eye on other businesses that might be flouting regulations as well, Vamshidhar Srikantapuram, a Mahwah resident, wrote on the page.

We arent law enforcement, Crandon responded. If we want to hunt down and report one type of violator then we are welcome to.

I have no problem letting anyone know my primary concern, he added.

(Crandon declined to answer questions about his involvement in the watch group. Joel Weiss, the owner of World of Appliances, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

Mahwah is one of several towns in the New York metropolitan area to see a strong backlash to the growth of local Hasidic communities. Communities in the Hamptons, as well as other neighboring towns, have touched off legal battles with administrators of area eruv systems. Leaders of Hasidic communities in New Yorks Rockland County have been trying to extend the areas eruv across a limited portion of northern New Jersey.

An eruv is made of plastic piping and thin wires, and often attached inconspicuously to utility poles. Orthodox Jews are not allowed to carry objects or push strollers outside their homes on the Sabbath. The eruv, an ancient legal loophole, symbolically enlarges the boundary of the home, letting one bring lunch to a neighbors house or go for a walk with the baby.

I dont think you would have had the viciousness of Mahwah if it werent for the Trump-era aura, Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer, former president of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis, told the Forward in October..

The Blue Laws that MahWatch intended to use to target World of Appliances have been on the books in New Jersey since the 18th century. When the state legislature voted to allow counties to repeal the laws in 1959, Bergen County, which includes Mahwah, kept them. In their current form, they prohibit the sale of a wide range of retail items, including appliances.

Though they are more strictly enforced in nearby Paramus, which has several major shopping centers, Bill Laforet, Mahwahs mayor, says the laws are a low priority for the township.

We just dont really have the kind of businesses that would violate those laws, he said, emphasizing that Mahwah does not have any clothing stores or toy stores.

With Crandon at the helm, MahWatch has engaged a mix of political advocacy, petty insults and doxxing. Ahead of election day he organized limousine service to ferry MahWatch members to the polls. He has tried to get signatures for a petition to force Laforet out of office. There is no evidence that the group ever organized a traditional neighborhood watch or ever reported the kind of criminal activity that community watch groups report, such as vandalism or burglaries. (In 2016 Mahwah was included in a list of the 100 safest cities in the U.S.)

The group also published the supposed IP address of the creator of a parody page, MahWatch Watch, which has published satirical articles and memes belittling Crandon and his group.

The founder of the parody group, who asked not to be named, said that though MahWatch purported to be focused on neighborhood safety, in reality they were just using it as a front to focus on being anti-Hasidic and anti-Jewish.

Some residents of Mahwah have reacted indignantly to the charges of anti-Semitic behavior. Laforet has defended the residents concerns. He pointed to Ramapo, New York, which received a designated state monitor in 2015 after years of allegations that the Hasidic community in the area had taken over the school board and favored the private yeshivas over public schools. He also cited the recent FBI sting on 26 ultra-Orthodox Jews in Lakewood, New Jersey, who were accused of defrauding Medicaid.

Mahwahs council has signaled it will challenge the states lawsuit against it, allocating nearly $200,000 for legal fees for the towns defense so far.

So long as I sit in this chair, we will protect this town, the council president said at a town meeting in late October.

Crandon, for his part, says he is discontinuing MahWatch, citing personal grief to me and my family, and has suggested he might leave Mahwah. He was not at the most recent council meeting the first one hes missed since July.

Laforet, the mayor, bemoaned how easy it was for Crandon to harness the fear and intolerance of some residents and target World of Appliances.

How did this particular business come under such scrutiny by the hand of one person? he added. Thats the real conversation here.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter @aefeldman

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Hasidic Store Targeted In New Jersey Town Of Mahwah The …

Swedish synagogue: Burning objects thrown – CNN

Posted By on December 11, 2017

Three men, all in their twenties, have been detained for questioning in relation to the Saturday night incident, police said.

Spokeswoman Ulla Brehm said that police received reports shortly after 10 p.m. local time that burning objects had been thrown into the yard of the synagogue, causing a fire. Brehm said approximately 10 people dressed in black were seen running away after throwing the objects.

No one was injured in the attack and the projectiles thrown did not make it inside the synagogue. Police are not describing the objects as Molotov cocktails.

Authorities used surveillance camera footage to identify the three men who are being questioned. The police are not reporting their nationalities.

A number of people were attending an event at the adjacent Jewish community center when the attack happened. Nobody at the community center was hurt and all the event participants were escorted safely off the premises.

Gothenburg is in southwestern Sweden, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) north of Copenhagen.

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Swedish synagogue: Burning objects thrown – CNN

Neo-Nazis marched past their synagogue chanting Sieg Heil …

Posted By on December 11, 2017

As a Jewish musician sang a prayer for healing, Beth Epstein started to cry.

She didnt realize how broken she felt until now.

Two weeks ago, neo-Nazis marched past her synagogue on Shabbat chanting Sieg Heil while on their way to a white supremacist rally at Emancipation Park, one block away.

Epstein, 51, remembers looking out the window from the room she was now sitting in at Congregation Beth Israel and glimpsing a swastika. Later that day, 32-year-old Heather Heyer would be killed when a man with ties to the neo-Nazi movement allegedly plowed his car into a crowd. Two state troopers who had been monitoring the demonstrations via helicopter would also die that day.

[One dead as car strikes crowds amid protests of white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash]

Congregation Beth Israel is the sole synagogue in Charlottesville, and although the sounds and sights of bigotry and hatred that stirred fear in worshipers as they prayed that day remain fresh, the community is now focused on moving forward.

More than 250 people many more than the usual Shabbat congregation at the Reform synagogue showed up Friday night to draw inspiration and comfort from prayer and from music performed by artists who journeyed there from around the country.

My general feeling is that the Jewish community will come back stronger from this threat just like America will, said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, a member of the synagogue who attended the service.

The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in the town Aug.12 had chanted threats aimed directly at Jews: Blood and Soil! and Jews will not replace us! They held signs reading the Goyim know, a slur referring to non-Jewish people, and the Jewish media is going down.

The synagogue had felt that day that continuing to hold weekly services was important, but leaders took certain precautions, said synagogue President Alan Zimmerman. Services started an hour early, and leaders of the congregation moved Torahs, including a Holocaust scroll they knew was irreplaceable, to a congregants home for safekeeping.

As the ralliers raged, Zimmerman stood outside the synagogue with an armed security guard hired because Zimmerman was concerned for the safety of his congregants praying inside, he said. Men wearing fatigues and armed with semiautomatic rifles passed by, Zimmerman said, and he recalled hearing one shout: Theres the synagogue.

I had no choice but to be out there, Zimmerman said. Im not suggesting I could have done anything, affected anything, but there was no other place that I could be at that moment.

Zimmerman felt close to crying, he said, as he later told the roughly 40 people gathered in the synagogue that it would be best for them to leave through the back door after services and to travel in groups.

Signer said he had requested a police car and an officer at the synagogue that day, but the department was unable to meet the request, the mayor said. There has been intense scrutiny over what many have criticized as an inadequate police response to the eruptions of violence throughout that day.

[Police in Charlottesville accused of slow response to violent demonstrations]

I am very frustrated and have called for accountability for those failures here, Signer said. City Manager Maurice Jones countered in an Aug.17 statement that police were stationed within just a few blocks of the synagogue that day.

As worshipers attended services, Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel stood on the steps of the First United Methodist Church gazing out at the chanting ralliers, as she sought to drown out the hate with music. Wearing her prayer shawl and carrying a guitar, she played more than 20 songs with themes of love and kindness. Despite the outward displays of hate, Schmelkin said she was reassured by the other clergy supporting her, including Rabbi Tom Gutherz, also of Congregation Beth Israel, who was attending services that day, and the broader Jewish community. We arent alone, she recalled thinking.

Two weeks on, she said, Im now thinking of How do we heal? How do we start to heal as a Jewish community?

Schmelkin, Zimmerman and Signer were in the congregation Friday evening enjoying prayer, songs and poems of hope. The artists had traveled to the service in Charlottesville from Los Angeles, New York City, Cleveland and Chicago to help the community with a gift of music.

Our reaction to violence and our reaction to hatred is that we sing louder and we make better music and we just, we throw more love at it, said Los Angeles musician Julie Silver, paraphrasing remarks from another Jewish musician, Leonard Bernstein.

Good and evil exist in the world, she said. We just have to make sure that our good shines, and thats the best we can do.

Although Jews are always aware that anti-Semitism exists, the brazen chants from that weekend seemed to have brought that threat to the forefront of the their collective conscience across the country, said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

In the days after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, the anti-Defamation League tracked instances of anti-Semitism, including a man urinating at a Philadelphia synagogue, a swastika drawn on a California high school campus and a bomb threat written on dorm walls at Washington State University.

[Teen tackled by bystanders after vandalizing Boston Holocaust memorial]

What Charlottesville did was really shake our community to realize its not simply a historical memory or a small thing, Jacobs said. People woke up, as this is something we need to be paying attention to.

Wendy Tanson traveled from Chapel Hill, N.C., with her husband, James Falek, on Friday to participate in the musical service and reflect on what happened. Recent threats to Jewish communities nationwide, such as vandalism at the Boston Holocaust memorial, have shown Tanson, 54, that what happened in Charlottesville can happen anywhere.

This synagogue specifically was threatened in a profound way two weeks ago, in a way that shouldnt happen in 2017, Tanson said. We felt it was important to be here and stand up and be counted.

The events of Aug.12 have reverberated for others who attended the healing service Friday.

Dana Mich, 30, said she has been thinking a lot about her grandfather, who survived the Holocaust. Jan Dorman, 60, said that during walks on the downtown mall, she pictures the violence she saw on the news vs. what she knows about the city shes lived in for decades. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, 47, recalled waking up in the middle of the night before the Friday service, worrying that the synagogue would be a target for anti-Semitic acts this Shabbat.

After a formal prayer service, Silver led the congregation in songs of hope. People stood up, linked hands, smiled and danced around the room, and Silver thought: We are a resilient people.

We have a strong, vibrant Jewish community here, said longtime congregant Fred Epstein, 50.

His wife, Beth Epstein, agreed. Although she was brought to tears earlier in the service, she joined in the dancing by the end. I hope it continues, she said. Its really special.

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Neo-Nazis marched past their synagogue chanting Sieg Heil …

Swedish Synagogue Firebombed; Three Arrested The Forward

Posted By on December 11, 2017

ADAM IHSE/AFP/Getty Images

Police arrive after a synagogue was attacked in a failed arson attempt in Gothenburg, Sweden, December 9, 2017. No one was injured but Jewish community members told local media the synagogue was attacked by a group of masked men who threw multiple burning objects.

(JTA) Three people were arrested in connection with the firebomb attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg in southern Sweden.

The arrests were made early Sunday morning, hours after more than a dozen men hurled firebombs at the synagogue after locals marched in the city against the United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital.

No one was injured in the Saturday night attack, which occurred while the synagogue was hosting a youth group program.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority announced the arrest. No information was provided about the people who were arrested.

Security around synagogues in the Swedish capital of Stockholm was increased, Reuters reported citing the TT news agency.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Sunday condemned the attack and calls for violence against Jews.

The attack against the Synagogue in Gothenburg and calls for violence against Jews in Malmo are deplorable and totally unacceptable. Anti-Semitism, threats and violence have no place in our society, she tweeted in English.

The Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center on Sunday in a statement denounced authorities in Sweden for their serial refusal to act against anti-Semitism.

Invoking the Saturday night attack against the synagogue in Gothenberg, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the centers associate dean, said in the statement: (W)hat more will it take for this democracy to finally deploy the full weight of their law enforcement and judicial powers against anti-Semites and provide full protection for its Jewish citizens?

In October, an administrative court in Gothenberg ordered that a neo-Nazi march scheduled to march past the synagogue on Yom Kippur be rerouted.

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Swedish Synagogue Firebombed; Three Arrested The Forward

Double standard on Holocaust denial – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

Posted By on December 8, 2017

Donald Trump welcomes Mahmoud Abbas to White House in Washington , May 3, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A French political leader who referred sympathetically to a prominent Holocaust denier has been forced to resign in disgrace.

But a Palestinian political leader who referred sympathetically to the same Holocaust denier was welcomed at the White House this week. Why the double standard? Jean-Francois Jalkh, leader of Frances National Front party, resigned in disgrace on April 28 after it was revealed that in a 2000 interview he said it was impossible for the Nazis to have carried out mass murder with poison gas. As his source, Jalkh cited the convicted Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, whom he described as trustworthy.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has referred to Faurisson in similar terms, in a bizarre and disturbing book that Abbas wrote in 1983 called The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.

The central thesis of the book, which Abbas wrote as his doctoral dissertation at Moscow University, is that David Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders collaborated with Hitler and wanted the Nazis to kill Jews, because having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiating table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.

The real number of Jews murdered by the Nazis was much lower than six million and might well have been below one million, Abbas wrote. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.

One of the alleged authorities whom Abbas cited was the same Holocaust denier at the center of the recent controversy in France. In a scientific study published by the French professor Robert Faurisson, he challenges the existence of gas chambers which served the purpose of killing living Jews, Abbas wrote. He claims that the gas chambers were only used to burn corpses, out of fear of spreading plagues and viruses. It would not take a great effort in order to prove and document this aspect of the truth.

Not only has Abbas never disavowed what he wrote in his book, he has reaffirmed it. In a January 21, 2013 interview with the Lebanese television station Al-Mayadeen, Abbas was asked about his Holocaust writings. I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II, Abbas responded, adding that he has 70 more books that I still havent published that supposedly would prove his claims.

Back in 2003, there were rumors that Abbas might visit Israel. Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Isaac Herzog (then a member of Knesset from the Labor Party, today leader of its successor, the Zionist Union) called for any such visit to include a public apology and correction by Abbas for his 1983 Holocaust book. Abbass intolerable accusation against Jewish and Zionist leaders needed to be explicitly retracted, Herzog insisted.

Herzogs point is equally relevant today. The hope of achieving genuine peace rests on the willingness of the PA leadership to sincerely reject the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred of the past. Every time a PA official or media outlet denies, minimizes, or distorts the Holocaust (including comparisons of Israel to the Nazis), they are stoking the old flames of hatred that were supposed to have been extinguished with the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

In France, the National Fronts Jean-Francois Jalkh was compelled to resign because the force of public opinion made it clear that he had crossed a line. Civilized society does not tolerate Holocaust deniers. It should not tolerate Abbass version of Holocaust denial, either.The author is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author or editor of 16 books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.

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Double standard on Holocaust denial – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

About the Holocaust Denial on Trial Project | Holocaust …

Posted By on December 8, 2017

Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

Lipstadt was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and helped design the section of the Museum dedicated to the American Response to the Holocaust. On April 11, 2011, the 50th anniversary of the start of the Eichmann trial, Lipstadt gave a public address at the State Department on the impact of the trial.

She has held and currently holds a presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (from Presidents Clinton and Obama) and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

In addition to Denying the Holocaust andDenial: History on Trial, Lipstadt has authored several books.Her fifth book, Holocaust: An American Understanding, was recently released by Rutgers University Press.

Her previous book, The Eichmann Trial, (Schocken/Nextbook Series) commemoratesthe 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial.Publishers Weekly,called it a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its aftereffects. The New York Times Book Review described Lipstadt as having done a great service by [ . . . ] recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israels history and in the worlds delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust. The Wall Street Journal described the book as a thoughtfully researched and clearly written account of the courtroom proceedings and of the debates spurred by the trial.

She has also published Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust(Free Press, 1986), which surveys what the American press wrote about the persecution of the Jews in the years 19331945.

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About the Holocaust Denial on Trial Project | Holocaust …


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