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Pepe the Frog declared a hate symbol by Anti-Defamation …

Posted By on September 28, 2016

The Anti Defamation League is now calling ‘Pepe the Frog’ a form of hate speech. Time

Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character turned Internet meme, has been added to the Anti-Defamation Leagues database of hate symbols.(Photo: Screenshot)

Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character turned Internet meme, has been added to the Anti-Defamation Leagues database of hate symbols.

The character was added to the database Tuesday, after Pepe the Frog was depicted as a slew of racially charged caricatures including Hitler and a Klansman, according to the group.

Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO said in a statement.

Greenblatt said many had abused the image to harass and spread hatred on social media.

But Pepe the Frog wasnt always considered a hate symbol.

The frog first appeared in Matt Furie’s Boy’s Clubcartoons in 2005.

Known as the sad frog, Pepe was often depicted as a mellow characterwith the slogan feels good, man, among others. Just a year ago, celebrities like Katy Perry shared the meme alongside many other Americans.

ADL notes that Pepes Internet meme famedomtook a turn for the worstwhen the character spread to 4chan, 8chan and Reddit, where a subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas.

The meme was also recently dragged into politics. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump’s son, who likely had no idea of Pepe’s new-found fan base,posted aphotoshopped photo depictinghis father and Pepe the Frog as The Deplorables.

In response to the photo, Hillary Clinton’s campaign posted anin-depth explainer on Pepe the Frog and his ties to white supremacy.

Furie recently told the Atlantic the politicalization of Pepe and Clinton’s explainerdownplaythe importance the mellow character holdsfor many young people.

He believes the demonization of Pepe will be a “passing phase.”

“Pepe is more than, whatever is happening in the news today, especially to younger people and to teenagers,” he told the Atlantic.”For example, I get emails pretty regularly, from kids, from high schools, who need my permission to use Pepe in their senior shirts, or their clarinet club, or their photography clubs, and I tell them to go ahead as long as they sell me a shirt.”

Follow @MaryBowerman on Twitter.

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Pepe the Frog declared a hate symbol by Anti-Defamation …

April is What National Month Calendar –

Posted By on September 24, 2016

How Businesses Celebrate the Month of April Thomas Barwick/ Stone/ Getty Images

Updated September 08, 2016

April Fool’s Day Business Humor

For years BMW has run print ads (mostly in Europe) announcing special features not found in other cars. How many were duped is anyone’s guess. But you have to love a car maker that can poke fun at itself and its drivers — and still keep its brand in tact. Read more…

Many countries adopt causes or a special interest group to promote during a calendar month. The United States is particularly prolific at creating “national month” events to promote business interests.

April is one of the few months that does not contain a long list of ridiculous observations (“July is Lasagna Awareness Month.”)

The following events are observed calendar month-long (unless otherwise indicated):

Is there a way your business can benefit by promoting itself during “April is” national month?

Other National Months:

January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December

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Why Orthodox Jews are Opposed to the Zionist State

Posted By on September 14, 2016

The People of Israel oppose the so-called “State of Israel” for four reasons:

FIRST — The so-called “State of Israel” is diametrically opposed and completely contradictory to the true essence and foundation of the People of Israel, as is explained above. The only time that the People of Israel were permitted to have a state was two thousand years ago when the glory of the creator was upon us, and likewise in the future when the glory of the creator will once more be revealed, and the whole world will serve Him, then He Himself (without any human effort or force of arms) will grant us a kingdom founded on Divine Service. However, a worldly state, like those possessed by other peoples, is contradictory to the true essence of the People of Israel. Whoever calls this the salvation of Israel shows that he denies the essence of the People of Israel, and substitutes another nature, a worldly materialistic nature, and therefore sets before them, a worldly materialistic “salvation,” and the means of achieving this “salvation” is also worldly and materialistic i.e. to organize a land and army. However, the true salvation of the People of Israel is to draw close to the Creator. This is not done by organization and force of arms. Rather it is done by occupation to Torah and good deeds.

SECOND — Because of all of this and other reasons the Torah forbids us to end the exile and establish a state and army until the Holy One, blessed He, in His Glory and Essence will redeem us. This is forbidden even if the state is conducted according to the law of the Torah because arising from the exile itself is forbidden, and we are required to remain under the rule of the nations of the world, as is explained in the book VAYOEL MOSHE. If we transgress this injunction, He will bring upon us (may we be spared) terrible punishment.

THIRD — Aside from arising from exile, all the deeds of the Zionists are diametrically opposed to the Faith and the Torah. Because the foundation of the Faith and Torah of Israel is that the Torah was revealed from heaven, and there is reward for those who obey it and punishment for those who transgress it. The entire People of Israel is required to obey the Torah, and whoever doesn’t want to, ceases to be part of the congregation of Israel.

FOURTH — Aside from the fact that they themselves do not obey the Torah they do everything they can to prevent anyone they get under their power from fulfilling the commands of the Torah, the claims to freedom of religion are lies. They fight with all of their strength to destroy the Faith of Israel.

The Zionists claim that they are the saviors of Israel, but this is refuted by twelve things:

FIRST — If one contemplates the two thousand years of our exile, take any hundred years even the hardest, one will not find as much suffering, bloodshed, and catastrophes for the People of Israel in the period of the Zionists, and it is known that most of the suffering of this century was caused by the Zionists, as our Rabbis warned us would be the case.

SECOND — It is openly stated in books written by the founders of Zionism that the means by which they planned to establish a state was by instigating anti-Semitism, and undermining the security of the Jews in all the lands of the world, until they would be forced to flee to their state. And thus they did – They intentionally infuriated the German people and fanned the flames of Nazi hatred, and they helped the Nazis, with trickery and deceit, to take whole Jewish communities off to the concentration camps, and the Zionists themselves admit this. (See the books Perfidy, Min Hameitzor, etc.). The Zionists continue to practice this strategy today. They incite anti-Semitism and then they present themselves as the “saviors”. Here are two replies given by Leaders of the Zionists during World War II, when they were asked for money to help ransom Jews from the Nazis. Greenbaum said “One cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Poland.” (G-d forbid). Weitzman said, “The most important part of the Jewish people is already in the land (of Israel) and those who are left, are unimportant” (May we be spared).

THIRD — We see that most of world Jewry lives in security and under good physical conditions, and have no desire to go live in the Zionist State. Whereas many people have left the Zionist State to live under better conditions in other lands.

FOURTH — The Zionists make a great deal of propaganda to induce people to immigrate to their state. If their state is so beneficial why do they have to make so much propaganda.

FIFTH — Because nobody wants the Zionists to “save” them. The only way they can get immigrants is by promising poor people material benefits, and even then very few people respond.

SIXTH — The Zionist State is always threatened by the dangers of war. Whereas the rest of world Jewry live in peace and security, (Except in a few places where the Zionists have undermined their security and fanned the flames of hatred)

SEVENTH — The Zionist State could not continue to exist without economic support from Jews living outside of the Zionist State.

EIGHTH — The Zionist State is on the verge of economic collapse, and their money is nearly worthless.

NINTH — The Zionist State persecute all Jews who are loyal to their Faith.

TENTH — They start wars that endanger the Jewish People, for the sake of their own political interests.

ELEVENTH – According to the Torah the path of safety is following ways of peace not starting fights with other nations, as the Zionists do.

TWELFTH — Even if the Zionists could and would provide physical security it would be at the expense of our Faith and Our Torah the true People of Israel prefer death rather than life at such a cost.

It is therefore clear that Zionism is not the savior of the people of Israel. Rather it is their greatest misfortune.

Even though there are some observant Jews and rabbis, who approve of the Zionists, this is not the opinion of the Torah.

The Zionists have enough control over the American news media to make sure that only their side of the story is heard.

They make it look like all Jewry and their rabbis are Zionists, but this is false propaganda.

The most important Rabbis and the majority of religious Jewry are opposed to Zionism, but their voice is not heard because of Zionist control of American news media.

The Zionists terrorize everyone who speaks out against them.

That part of the Jewish masses which is fooled by Zionist propaganda puts pressure on their Rabbis not to speak out.

Between the terror and the pressure of the masses most of the Rabbis are prevented from speaking out.

We bring three testimonies of the true opinion of the Torah.

1) In the past two thousand years of the dangers and sufferings of exile not once did any of the Sages of Israel suggest that we make a state to protect ourselves. In every generation we had thousands of Sages well versed in the Torah.

2) We have thousands of legal work of Torah law that have been handed down to us by the Sages of all generations. Not once do we see a word suggesting the establishment of a state. What we do find is warnings against it.

3) The founders of Zionism were all atheists who denied the Torah. All the Torah Sages of that time opposed them and opposed Zionism, saying that Zionism would lead only to destruction.

However the true People of Israel will never change their nature or give up their Faith because of the strength the Creator gives them.

Zionism is a foreign growth in the body of the Jewish People. The end will be that it will rid itself of this foreign growth and remain pure.

Zionism has overcome the Jewish people by force, fraud and terror, but none of this will help them because the truth will always remain with the help of the Creator.

Zionism will not replace the Jewish People. The Jewish People will remain strong in their faith and the Zionist State will cease to exist.

It is therefore, our demand that the State that calls itself ISRAEL, should cease to exist. Since this won’t be done, we demand that they cease to call themselves “Israel”, because their entire being is in complete opposition to the true People of Israel. The true People of Israel deny them permission to call themselves by that name. The Zionist leaders have no right to set themselves up as the representatives and spokesmen of the true People of ISRAEL.

Since we know they will not fulfill this demand either we feel that at least we cry out the truth. The truth will always remain the truth. By no means or force can the truth be changed. Even if all the world would say that one and one is three, the truth will remain that one and one is two.

Let the truth be declared. The use of the Name “ISRAEL” by that State is a complete falsification. The People of Israel have nothing to do with that State. Zionism and its State have no share and no part in the true ISRAEL.

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Why Orthodox Jews are Opposed to the Zionist State

B’nai B’rith Europe | Facebook

Posted By on September 3, 2016

On February 3rd 2016, a Bnai Brith delegation, formed by Bnai Brith Europe President, Daniel Citone, Bnai Brith Europe Vice-President, Valerie Achache and Bnai Brith International Director of EU Affairs, Benjamin Naegele met with European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnurbein.

Ms. von Schnurbein has been appointed at the end of 2015 by the European Commission as Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism. A German national, she has bee…n coordinating the Commission’s dialogue with Churches, religions, philosophical and non-confessional organisations and was part of former Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso’s advisory team. She has been appointed at the same time as Mr.David Friggieri who is the Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred

During the meeting, Daniel Citone gave a presentation of Bnai Brith as Ms. von Schnurbein enquired on everyone cultural background. She proved very interested in the young Jewish leaders opinion about how Jews felt and lived nowadays in Europe. The conversation was frank and open.

Among the other issues discussed were the challenges Jewish communities in Europe face as well as ways to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The recent labelling of Israeli settlement products, the lack of an official definition of anti-Semitism and hate speech online were also discussed.

The next step in this dialogue will be the organisation of a follow up working meeting, such as the one held in Bnai Brith premises on 1st October 2015, with fellow Jewish and pro-Israel associations. This time the meeting should be presided by Ms. von Schnurbein.

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Israel – B’nai B’rith International

Posted By on September 1, 2016

The first Bnai Brith lodge in Israel was established in 1888. Now there are approximately 70 lodges, organized into regional councils. Each lodge plans its own activities, some include: helping schools, kindergartens, hospitals’ clubs for the blind, and recent immigrants; delivering food and clothes to needy people; providing housing for soldiers who have completed military service and wish to attend college; organizing Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations for boys and girls from deprived families; and assisting special scholarship programs and institutes for special education. Some lodges have kitchens that daily serve hundreds of meals to the needy.

In Haifa, B’nai B’rith Israel sponsors a Parents Home, which provides housing for needy senior citizens.

>Read the Center Stage e-newsletter from the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem

Through educational programs and well-established relationships with political leaders of all parties, the diplomatic corps, and leading academic institutions, the World Center works to strengthen Israel-Diaspora relations and interprets developments concerning the Jewish state for our members and supporters around the world.

The establishment of the World Center was B’nai B’rith’s answer to United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 that in August 1980 called on all member states to remove their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. Established that same summer, the World Center is an ongoing expression of B’nai B’rith’s active commitment to the State of Israel.

In advancing its mission, the World Center:

The kits were shipped to Israelby Bnai Brithand the delivery was made by Alan Schneider, Director of the Bnai Brith World Center in Jerusalem and delivered to community leaders in Sderot by Schneider and Aron Katz.Young leaders in Israel added messages of support to the package.

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Welcome to the B’nai B’rith Europe website

Posted By on August 26, 2016

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Russia’s military made a fresh effort to crush Daesh and other terrorist groups by launching its first airstrikes against them from an airbase in Iran, in a move which reinforced the two powers’ collaboration in Syria and was met with strong reservations from Washington.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested the Daesh terror group could be behind the overnight bombing of a wedding in Gaziantep, in a statement published Sunday. MOSCOW (Sputnik) The president wished a speedy recovery to 94 people who were wounded in the bombing that shocked the mostly-Kurdish populated city in southeastern Turkey. The blast killed at least 30 people, according to the province governor.

Russian use of Iranian air base shows Moscow’s renewed military might Russia’s use of an Iranian air base to bomb rebel targets across Syria for the first time this week has allowed Moscow to show off sophisticated weaponry as it seeks to cement ties with Tehran and expand its influence in the Middle East. While the tactical effect was unclear, Russian President…

Isis child suicide bomber kills 51 at Kurdish wedding Hannah Lucinda Smith, Istanbul August 22 2016, 12:01am, The Times

At least 51 people have been killed and 69 injured after a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 targeted a Kurdish wedding party in southern Turkey. The child bomber, believed to be an Islamic State follower, detonated his device on Saturday evening as crowds of revellers danced in the streets of Gaziantep, a city close to the border with Syria. It is the deadliest attack in Turkey this year. The bride and groom, who have been named as Besna and Nurettin Akdogan, were injured but are in a stable condition in hospital. The death toll looks set to rise…

Mourning families gathered outside a medical centre in Gaziantep yesterday. The suicide attack was the deadliest in Turkey this year and the death toll may riseSEDAT SUNA/EPA

UN Watch Briefing Latest from the United Nations Vol. 603 | August 18, 2016The op-ed below by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer appears in the latest edition of The Jerusalem Report by By Hillel C. Neuer.

The aid workers aiding Hamas

The UN and NGOs that have been infiltrated by terror organizations must mend their ways or have their funding frozen

Accused Hamas agent Mohammed El-Halabi, the Gaza director of the giant Christian aid group World Vision, appears in court, August 4. The UN featured him on its website as a “humanitaran hero.”

The arrest of Palestinian humanitarian officials in Gaza from two separate international organizations – charged with siphoning aid resources to support Hamas terrorism – along with allegations about at least two other entities raises troubling questions about the culture within the United Nations and non-governmental agencies that allowed such crimes to take place.

First there was the announcement by Israel’s Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on August 4 that Mohammed El-Halabi, director of the Gaza branch of World Vision a billion-dollar Christian aid agency was indicted for systematically diverting tens of millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas.

According to the Shin Bet, El-Halabi admitted to being a lifetime Hamas member who was dispatched in 2005 to infiltrate World Vision.

El-Halabi had a good chance of being accepted because he had already worked for UNDP, the UN Development Agency where he also helped Hamas and because his father, Khalil al-Halabi, holds a senior post at UNRWA in Gaza which he, too, uses to support Hamas.

Once in World Vision, El-Halabi employed a sophisticated apparatus for transferring funds and resources to Hamas. Over several years, El-Halabi helped Hamas construct terror tunnels, pay their salaries, and build military bases.

In addition, according to the charge sheet, in 2014 Halabi recruited a Palestinian aid worker from Save the Children, a major NGO based in the UK, to join Hamas’ military wing.

After the revelations, Australia and Germany froze their funding to World Vision, and the organization suspended its Gaza operations. Save the Children, for its part, is “making inquiries into this matter.”

The 30-page document failed to mention Hamas once. Discussion of damage to Gaza buildings omitted that Hamas used them for rocket launching against Israeli civilians, deliberately jeopardizing Palestinian civilians.

How can we expect UNDP to remedy internal “processes” when its leaders openly broadcast a see-no-evil approach to Hamas terror?

The latest arrests ought to be a wake-up call. Palestinians deserve to be helped, but Hamas an organization that exults in murdering Jewish children is the opposite of humanitarianism.

If the UN and NGOs fail to correct their ways, taxpayers in the US, Canada and Europe should do it for them, by demanding a permanent freeze to the funding of terror.

Hillel C. Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch in Geneva.

Palestinians: The “Country” Where Crime Is an Official Job by Yves Mamou August 7, 2016 at 5:30 am

In this small piece of land, headed by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), every killer of a Jewish Israeli citizen is called “martyr.” This word “martyr” means that each time a Palestinian stabs a Jew, he accomplishes an act of pious virtue. And because the killer is a good Palestinian Muslim, his family becomes eligible for regular payments from the Palestinian Authority’s “martyr’s fund.” This fund is used financially to compensate Palestinian prisoners and the families of “martyrs.”

After a 17-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Tarayra, stabbed to death a sleeping 13-year-old Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in her bed in the town of Kiryat Arba, the terrorist’s house was decorated with Fatah and PLO flags. No doubt the family will be soon on the list of payments from the Palestinian “martyr’s fund.”

According to an analysis by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake:

“The origins of these payments goes back a long way. Before the Palestinian Authority was established in the 1990s through the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization paid the families of ‘martyrs’ and prisoners detained by Israel. That practice became standardized during the Second Intifadah of 2000 to 2005. The Israelis even found documents in the late Yasser Arafat’s compound that showed payments to families of suicide bombers.”

The money the Palestinian killers make is not small change. Evelyn Gordon reported in Commentary:

“The PA has for years paid above-market salaries to the perpetrators of anti-Israel terror attacks. The salaries range from 2,400 to 12,000 shekels a month ($600 USD to $3,000 USD) and are paid for the duration of the perpetrator’s jail sentence in Israel (people killed while committing attacks get other benefits). The lower figure is roughly equivalent to the average not minimum wage for people who actually hold jobs in the West Bank, and about 40 percent higher than the average wage in Gaza; figures at the higher end of the range are the kind of salaries most Palestinians can’t even dream of. In short, the PA has made terror far more lucrative than productive work.”

Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), submitted testimony to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 6, 2016. He gave interesting details.

First: the payments are highly structured by law. “This financial support for prisoners is anchored in a series of laws and government decrees, chiefly Laws No. 14 and No. 19 of 2004, and Law No. 1 of 2013…” According to these laws, the PA must provide prisoners with a monthly allowance during their incarceration, and salaries or jobs upon their release. They are also entitled to exemptions from payments for education, health care, and professional training. Their years of imprisonment are calculated as years of seniority of service in PA institutions. It should be noted that whoever was imprisoned for five years or more is entitled to a job in a PA institution. Thus, the PA gives priority in job placement to people who were involved in terrorist activity.”

Technically, the PA transfers the funds through two PLO organizations:

Families of “martyrs”: The PLO’s Institute for Care for the Families of Martyrs… allocated just under $173 million for families of martyrs and the wounded within the homeland and outside it. The Institute’s operating expenses comes [sic] to about $1.5 million. … The budget also states that the Institute provides allowances “without discrimination” — in other words, also from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and so on. In 2016, not less than $300 million (between 7 and 10% of the budget) are going to be allocated to prisoners and families and to “martyrs’ families.”

The United States and the European Union, which finance the Palestinian institutions year after year, deliberately close their eyes to the “martyr’s fund” to which they contribute.

PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake, speaking at a rally in November 2013, defends the use of EU aid money to pay “salaries” to imprisoned terrorists, saying “The Europeans want their money that comes to us to remain clean — not to go to families of those they claim to be terrorists. [They] need to renounce this occupation mentality.”

(Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)

But things might begin to change. Warning signs are in the air.

1) The recent Report of the Middle East Quartet (European Union, United States, Russia and the UN) does not talk money but “incitement to terror” — which is exactly the same thing. “Continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, and incitement to violence are greatly exacerbating mistrust and are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution.” The Quartet added: “Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks are often glorified publicly as “heroic martyrs.” Many widely circulated images depict individuals committing terrorist acts with slogans encouraging violence.”


High-rise construction leaps in Israel

IDF continues pounding Hamas targets into night Ynet|Last update: 22.08.16 , 00:08

As tensions mount in wake of rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, IDF continued a combined artillery and air assault on Hamas targets into the night; IDF: ‘Hamas is the sovereign power in the Gaza Strip and it is therefore responsible.’

Israel strikes 50 times in Gaza after rocket attack

Israeli official urges calm as Hamas blames Jewish state for escalating violence; 2-5 people lightly injured in raids


The Israel Air Force conducted 50 airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip late Sunday night, following a rocket fired into Israel by Palestinian terrorists earlier that day, but was not seeking an escalation in hostilities, an Israeli official said on Monday.

“There were approximately 50 airstrikes within two hours. There is no intention to escalate the situation further, and that is basically where the situation falls at this time,” a senior military official told The Times of Israel.

Palestinian security sources in Gaza said several targets in the northern Strip were struck by Israeli fire, and that a reservoir in Beit Hanoun was damaged. Israel also hit a base belonging to Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in nearby Beit Lahiya, witnesses said. Palestinian health and security sources said between two and five people were lightly wounded by Israel’s retaliatory fire.

Palestinians look at a water tower that was first damaged during the 2014 Gaza war and appears to have again been struck by Israeli fire on August 21, 2016 in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

This was the second Israeli bombardment of the day. Immediately following the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, Israeli aircraft and tanks also targeted Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip. After the late-night airstrikes, the Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip blamed Israel for escalating tensions in the Palestinian enclave.

“The escalation shows Israel’s desire to change the status quo in the Gaza Strip,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday night.

“We hold Israel responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip and we stress that its aggression will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or dictate the terms of resistance,” Zuhri said. The Hamas spokesman was speaking hours after the terror group paraded missiles through the streets and threatened renewed violence against Israel.

On Monday, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that Israel was not interested in an escalation of violence with Hamas, but said the army would “respond appropriately if necessary.”

The response marks the most intense Israeli reprisal attack on Gaza since the sides fought a bloody war in 2014, and could signal a shift in policy by newly installed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The rocket fire was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and other small Islamic State-linked Salafist groups, but Israel says it holds Hamas the Strip’s de facto rulers responsible for any attacks emanating from Gaza and routinely responds to such launches with strikes against the terror organization.

The rocket launch on Sderot on Sunday struck inside the border town, but caused no casualties or damage. It landed between two homes on Hanehalim Street, near Sapir College and the city’s train station. Locals said it was “a miracle” that nobody was injured.

Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display Qassam home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade on August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)

The attack was the second serious rocket strike from Gaza since Liberman took office in May, following a strike that hit an empty preschool in July.

The IDF said it was the 14th rocket launched from Gaza into Israel in 2016.

On Sunday night, a Hamas official told Israel Radio the group was not interested in a renewal of violence. But earlier, Hamas held a large rally in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, parading rockets through the streets and threatening to renew fighting if Israel did not lift a decade-old blockade on the enclave.

Israel says the blockade, also imposed by Egypt, is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups from re-arming or rebuilding military infrastructures used in previous wars with Israel.

A Palestinian member of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, takes part in a anti-Israel military parade on August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

Launches from Gaza are infrequent and usually carried out by small fringe groups, at times without the approval of Gaza’s Hamas rulers and even at times as a means for pressuring the group by raising tensions between it and Israel.

Sweden: The Silence of the JewsPart IV of a Series: The Islamization of Sweden by Ingrid Carlqvist August 16, 2016 at 5:00 am

One of the most visible effects of Muslim mass immigration into Sweden is that anti-Semitism is very much on the rise in the country. Swedish Jews are being harassed and threatened, mainly in the Muslim-dense city of Malm, where in January 2009, the friction deepened during a peaceful pro-Israel demonstration. Demonstrators were attacked by pro-Palestinian counter demonstrators, who threw eggs and bottles at the supporters of Israel. The mayor of Malm at the time, Ilmar Reepalu, failed to take a clear stance against the violence, and was accused of preferring the approval of the city’s large Muslim population to protecting Jews. He remarked, among other things, that “of course the conflict in Gaza has spilled over into Malm.”

Germany to tell people to stockpile food and water in case of attacks Reuters|Published: 21.08.16 , 19:08

Following two attacks last month, Germany has instructed its citizens to prepare emergency supplies of food and water in case of a major, wide scale attack or catastrophe; this is the first time such an order has been issued since the Cold War.

BERLIN – For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in case of an attack or catastrophe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

Germany is currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager last month. Berlin announced measures earlier this month to spend considerably more on its police and security forces and to create a special unit to counter cyber crime and terrorism.

“The population will be obliged to hold an individual supply of food for ten days,” the newspaper quoted the government’s “Concept for Civil Defense” – which has been prepared by the Interior Ministry – as saying.

The paper said a parliamentary committee had originally commissioned the civil defense strategy in 2012.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the plan would be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday and presented by the minister that afternoon. He declined to give any details on the content. People will be required to stockpile enough drinking water to last for five days, according to the plan, the paper said.

The 69-page report does not see an attack on Germany’s territory, which would require a conventional style of national defense, as likely.

However, the precautionary measures demand that people “prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future,” the paper cited the report as saying.

It also mentions the necessity of a reliable alarm system, better structural protection of buildings and more capacity in the health system, the paper said.

A further priority should be more support of the armed forces by civilians, it added.

Germany’s Defense Minister said earlier this month the country lay in the “crosshairs of terrorism” and pressed for plans for the military to train more closely with police in preparing for potential large-scale militant attacks.

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Senior Living – Peoria, IL – B’Nai B’Rith Apartments

Posted By on August 26, 2016

If you’re looking for a great place to come home to after your retirement, look no further. Our friendly staff at B’nai B’rith Apartments will help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. We offer affordable senior housing in the Peoria area. Rent will be approximately thirty percent (30%) of the adjusted monthly income of all residents in the units. All of our properties are clean, safe, and come with great amenities at a price you can afford. Come see for yourself, call us today at (309) 676-0041 or (309) 673-6744 to request a tour of our properties. B’nai B’rith Apartments is committed to providing top-quality senior homes for residents in the Peoria area. Our properties come with accessibility features designed to give you safety and convenience. Let us partner with you to give you the best home you can spend your retirement in. Our housing network consists of 33 complexes in 23 communities. These communities include over 3700 apartment units and serve more than 5000 residents. And it doesn’t stop there, our network keeps on growing.

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Ku Klux Klan — Extremism in America – ADL: Fighting Anti …

Posted By on August 14, 2016

The Ku Klux Klan is a racist, anti-Semitic movement with a commitment to extreme violence to achieve its goals of racial segregation and white supremacy. Of all the types of right-wing hate groups that exist in the United States, the Klan remains the one with the greatest number of national and local organizations around the country.

More than 40 different Klan groups exist, many having multiple chapters, or klaverns, including a few that boast a presence in a large number of states. There are over a hundred different Klan chapters around the country, with a combined strength of members and associates that may total around 5,000.

After a period of relative quiet, Ku Klux Klan activity has spiked noticeably upwards in 2006, as Klan groups have attempted to exploit fears in America over gay marriage, perceived assaults on Christianity, crime and especially immigration.

At first, the Ku Klux Klan focused its anger and violence on African-Americans, on white Americans who stood up for them, and against the federal government which supported their rights. Subsequent incarnations of the Klan, which typically emerged in times of rapid social change, added more categories to its enemies list, including Jews, Catholics (less so after the 1970s), homosexuals, and different groups of immigrants.

In most of these cases, these perceived enemies were minority groups that came into direct economic competition with the lower- and working-class whites that formed the core constituency of the Klan in most of its incarnations.

The Ku Klux Klan was overshadowed in the late 1990s and early 2000s by growing neo-Nazi activity; however, by 2005 neo-Nazi groups had fallen on hard times, with many groups collapsing or fragmenting. This collapse has helped create a rise of racist skinhead activity, but has also provided new opportunities for Klan groups.

In addition, in the early 2000s, many communities in the United States began to experiences a significant influx of immigrants, especially Hispanics, for the first time in their histories. A single-issue movement opposing immigration has helped create fear and anxiety about immigration in the minds of many Americans.

Many Ku Klux Klan groups have attempted to take advantage of that fear and uncertainty, using anti-immigration sentiments for recruitment and propaganda purposes, and to attract publicity.

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Heritage Florida Jewish News Homepage

Posted By on August 10, 2016

By Christine DeSouza, News Editor

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Poland Jewish Heritage Tours – Jewish Tours & Travel …

Posted By on August 10, 2016

It’s a sunny morning in early July, and I’m having breakfast at an outdoor cafe table in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of Krakow. I have been sitting at cafes in and around Szeroka Street, the main square of Kazimierz, for nearly 20 years, watching the paradoxical Jewish components of post-communist Poland unfold, and Kazimierz itself evolve from a deserted district of decrepit buildingssome with grooves on their doorposts from missing mezuzahsinto one of Europe’s premier Jewish tourist attractions, a fashionable boom town of Jewish-style cafes, trendy pubs, kitschy souvenirs and nostalgic shtetl chic.

As Poland’s historic royal capital, Krakow is one of central Europe’s most beautiful cities and was one of the few major Polish metropolises to escape wholesale destruction in World War II. Once Kazimierz was a center of Jewish life and learning, but after the Holocaust only its architectural skeleton remained: Krakow’s 64,000 Jews (among three million of pre-war Poland’s 3.5 million Jews) perished, but seven synagogues and a score of former prayer houses, stores, homes and cemeteries survived. After the war, under the communists, Kazimierz slid into ruin, and only in the early 1990s did the neighborhood begin to take on new life. Even before Steven Spielberg came here to shoot his 1993 film Schindler’s List, set in the wartime Krakow Ghetto and the city’s concentration camp, Plaszow, Kazimierz was beginning to rediscover its Jewish soul.

Although Krakow is now home to just a few hundred Jews at most (Poland itself has maybe 5,000 to 15,000 out of a population of 40 million), the streets beyond my cafe are crowded with people here for the annual nine-day extravaganza known as the Festival of Jewish Culture. There are Jews from within Poland and from outside: Rabbis, tourists, earnest seekers of family history, writers, filmmakers, bureaucrats, philanthropists, academics, musicians and artists wander the square and surrounding cobbled streets. The vast majority of visitors, however, are non-Jewish Poles who have come to celebrate both the Polish Jewish life that once was and the contemporary Jewish culture that is still very much alive around the world. Some of them have helped bring about the renaissance of Kazimierz and a revival of public interest in Jewish culture throughout the country. Newcomers and regulars, Jews and non-Jews, come together at the cafes that line Szeroka and other streets and squares, turning Kazimierz into a moveable feast of drink, food and conversation that migrates from cafe table to cafe table.

I am waiting for Stanislaw and Monika Krajewski, among my oldest friends in Poland, who live in Warsaw and whom I met on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1980. Back then, I was a young American reporter, in Warsaw to cover the birth of SolidarnoscSolidarity, the anti-communist labor movement that spawned a peaceful revolution and was the harbinger of the collapse of communism. I am not a religious Jew, and I rarely go to services. But in Warsaw, on that erev Yom Kippur, I looked for a shul. The only one to be found of what once were hundreds, was the Nozyk synagogue, built in 1902 and used by the Nazis as a stable.

In 1980, the synagogue stood dilapidated and empty. My search took me to a shabby room nearby where paint was peeling from the walls but Jews were gathered for prayers. There was no rabbi: there was not one in Poland at the time. Perhaps three dozen people, almost all men, almost all elderly, stood swaying over well-worn prayerbooks. Among them was a sprinkling of people my own age, and a couple of toddlers running about and making noise. Some of the elderly congregants shushed themloudlyand I remember thinking, “How can you shut them up? You should encourage them; be happy that there are children here among you.”

After the prayers, a young married couple came up to me, eager to know who I was and why I was there. “It’s simple,” I told them, “I’m an American reporter covering Solidarity; I’m Jewish; it’s Yom Kippur, so I came to synagogue. It’s normal.” But “simple” and “normal” had different meanings in their lexicon. They came closer. “Oh, you’re a real Jew!” they exclaimed. This put me on the spot. A “real Jew”? After all, I don’t speak Hebrew, I don’t go to synagogue, I don’t keep kosher. “No,” they insisted. “You’re a real Jew; you’ve known all your life that you are Jewish. We are just learning. Come back home with us and tell us what to do.”

That couple was Staszek, as Stanislaw is known, and Monika. They were among the organizers of the “Jewish Flying University,” a semi-clandestine study group of Jews and non-Jews in communist Warsaw who met informally to teach themselves what they could about Judaism. This meant the rituals, customs, traditions and history but also the memories and inflections that are often innate in even the most secular of Jews who grew up in freedom.

Monika, an artist and teacher, and Staszek, a writer and professor, wend their way around tables through the cafe garden of my hotel, the Klezmer Hois, a rambling, peak-roofed building that used to house a mikvah. We greet each other with hugs. Monika, as usual, wears a flowing skirt and distinctive earrings. A deeply religious man, Staszek is active in interfaith relations and is the Poland consultant for the American Jewish Committee. His books range from commentaries on the Torah to scholarly works on mathematics and logic, his academic field, to essays on Jewish life in contemporary Poland, where every step toward the future can feel weighted down by the memory of the past.

The Krajewskis and I catch up on news, and I ask about their sons. Both children celebrated their bar mitzvahs in the Nozyk synagogue, the synagogue that was too dilapidated to be used when we first met but is now fully restored and functioning. The bar mitzvah of their younger son, in 2004, was particularly moving. Daniel, who has Down syndrome, carried the Torah, but instead of giving a speech, he showed pictures he had painted: Jacob’s blessing to Joseph’s sons; the burning bush; the parting of the sea; the golden calf; the breaking of the tablets. The last picture showed his entire family at the Sabbath table, a scene he has known all his life. Other friends come by and we chat. Then Monika and Staszek are off. Both of them are giving talks or teaching workshops in the festival this year.

In a way, the struggle for the soul of Kazimierz can be seen in the differences among the cafes on Szeroka Street. Venues drawing on Krakow’s Jewish history were the first to open on the square. But on Szeroka today things are different. There is an Indian restaurant and an Italian one, as well as chic new bars blaring hip hop. Still, critics love to hate Szeroka for its commercial exploitation of Jewish heritage as a saleable commodity and for what some call the “Disneylandization” of Jewish culture and tradition through an emphasis on stereotype and artifice.

The Klezmer Hois, where I often stay, is my favorite Jewish-style venue. Located at one end of Szeroka, it has the bygone coziness of an old world family parlor, with doilies and tablecloths covering mismatched tables, chairs and sofas. It was opened by my friends Wojtek and Malgosia Ornat. Though both have Jewish roots, neither was raised Jewish or with any awareness of Jewish family connections: Malgosia, a petite woman with wide eyes and short-cropped blonde hair, was 19 when she learned that her maternal grandmother was Jewish, a story that is not unusual in Poland.

Now in their 40s, the Ornats opened the first Jewish-style cafe in Kazimierz, the Ariel, in 1992. Then the only cafe on Szeroka Street, the Ariel was a lonely outpost amid a grimy wasteland of vacant lots and empty buildings. I vividly remember how Wojtek and I, sitting at an umbrella-shaded wicker table, fantasized that some day people would come. And they have. The Ariel touched a nerve that somehow connected commerce with commemoration and spearheaded the creation of a Jewish-style cafe culture which by now has spread far beyond Krakow. As the first to evoke (and capitalize on) a literary image of a lost Jewish world in their cafe decor, the Ornats’ visual and atmospheric take on what is “Jewish” has been important in shaping the experience and expectations of locals and tourists, Jews and non-Jews. Like a sepia-tinted memory, “Jewish” is now a brand that symbolizes a time and place that is bygone but fondly remembered. This idea plays on nostalgia but also on the imagination: It represents what some people wish the Jewish world was really once like.

Today, half a dozen venues on Szeroka Street present a Jewish theme or make reference to Kazimierz’s Jewish heritage, in their name or signs, which are sometimes written in Hebrew-style letters, or in their menus, which feature foods like gefilte fish. There’s the Ester hotel and the Noah’s Ark restaurant. The Crocodile Street Cafe is named for a short story by the writer Bruno Schulz, who was killed in the Holocaust. The Rubinstein hotel reflects the fact that the cosmetics queen, Helena Rubinstein, was born here. The exterior of the Once Upon a Time in Kazimierz restaurant is mocked up to look like a row of pre-war shops, with weathered-looking signs fronting the street announcing Benjamin Holcer’s carpentry shop and Chajim Cohen’s general store.

One reason I like Klezmer Hois is that it is low key. There is klezmer music but no kitschy curios for sale or on display, no garish commercial exploitation of a neighborhood whose Jewish population was murdered. Instead, the Ornats use the profits from the Klezmer Hois to run a Jewish publishing house, Austeria, which issues books by Polish and foreign authors. They also run a Jewish bookstore on the ground floor of one of the old Kazimierz synagogues, now used for Jewish art exhibits.

Klezmer Hois is a sharp contrast to the Ariel, which still operates on Szerokamuch expanded and under different management. With dramatic signage depicting big plaster lions flanking a giant menorah, the Ariel is the most conspicuous landmark on the square, aside from the gothic Old Synagogue, which is now a Jewish museum. Catering largely to tour groups, it sells an off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter “Jewish” experience the way a sushi bar sells Japan or a folk-style restaurant uses hokey traditional music to sell ethnicity. Dozens of paintings of rabbis cover the walls: bearded and sad-eyed, with yarmulkes and sidecurls, they read, lay tefillin, pray and count money. There are also refrigerator magnets: Stars of David, menorahs and disembodied Jewish heads, some of them with exaggerated features right out of Nazi caricature. I once asked an Ariel waiter why these were on sale. He shrugged. “They’re Jewish,” he replied.

For many people, tourists and locals alike, Kazimierz became a major destination with the Festival of Jewish Culture, which was founded in 1988, one year before the ouster of communist rule. By 1992 the Festival had already grown so much that some called it a “Jewish Woodstock.” Performers over the years have included Theodore Bikel, Shlomo Carlebach, Chava Alberstein and the Klezmatics. One local entertainer who takes part, and whom I often see at the Klezmer Hois, is the Polish Jewish pianist Leopold Kozlowski, now nearing 90, who was the subject of the movie The Last Klezmer. Nowadays, the Festival features more than 200 concerts, lectures, art exhibits, workshops, guided tours, performances, film-showings and street happenings. Most of the events are sold out, and the final concert, called “Shalom on Szeroka,” draws upwards of 15,000 people, most of them Catholic Poles.

The festival’s founders were two non-Jewish intellectuals, Janusz Makuch and Krzysztof Gierat. Like many other young Poles in the waning decades of communism, Makuch and Gierat became fascinated with Jewish history and culture. Delving into the Holocaust and other Jewish topics was a means of both seeking the truth of their country’s past and helping inform their own identities. Like members of the Jewish Flying University in Warsaw, they sought to fill in the blanks left by communist-era taboos that prevented an objective public analysis of history itself, including the thousand-year history of Jews in Poland.

“It was like a discovery of Atlantis that people lived here and created their own original culture and had such a deep influence on Polish culture,” Makuch, who still directs the festival, once told me over coffee at the Klezmer Hois. An intense man with deep eyes, a full, dark beard and a perpetually troubled-looking brow, Makuch peppers his speech with Hebrew and Yiddish words such as “shalom” and “meshuga;” he has been asked more times than he can remember what it means for a non-Jew to run a Jewish festival for an audience mainly composed of other non-Jews. His reply is often to describe himself as a Shabbos goy, keeping alive the torch of Jewish culture.

Since 1998, non-Jews like Makuch, who preserve and promote Jewish culture and heritage, are honored each year at an awards ceremony during the Festival, presided over by the Israeli ambassador. So far more than 150 people all over the country have received the award. Some, like Makuch, run Jewish cultural events; others cut the grass and clean up cemeteries, teach classes, rescue tombstones, organize little museums. Some have the support of their communities; others work in isolation or even encounter hostility.

Until recently, Jews were largely absent from the enthusiastic crowds who throng Festival events. “Many Jewish people come to Poland, fly into Warsaw, go straight to Auschwitz, then want to get out,” the Krakow-born American philanthropist Ted Taube told me once. “But until the war, Poland had the most prolific, culturally diverse, creative Jewish population anywhere, ever. We can’t afford to relegate those people to a postscript in history.” Although they are still a minority, more and more Jewish fans and tourists have been turning up in recent years, in part because of special tours run by organizations such as the Taube Foundation and the American Jewish Committee.

“I love it here,” Cantor Benzion Miller, a Bobover Hasid who lives in Borough Park, Brooklyn, tells me. We are ensconced in armchairs in the crowded little lounge of the Hotel Eden, a kosher establishment opened in the 1990s by an American, Allen Haberberg, in a restored 15th century building in the heart of Kazimierz. The Eden has a mezuzah on every door, both a pub and a private mikvah in the basement, free WiFi Internet and an umbrella-shaded outdoor “Garden of Eden.”

A roly-poly man with a full white beard, Miller has been a fixture of the Festival of Jewish Culture for the past 15 years, both performing and holding workshops on topics ranging from Hasidic chanting to ritual slaughter. Miller was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany where his parents met after World War II. His father, who had lost his first wife and children in the Holocaust, came from Oswiecimthe town nearly 40 miles from Krakow outside of which the Nazis built Auschwitz. Before World War II, Oswiecim was home to about 12,000 people, more than half of them Jews. Miller’s grandfather was a hazan, a cantor, there.

Miller always participates in a sometimes riotous public Havdalah ceremony, held in the grandiose Tempel Synagogue, the only 19th-century synagogue in Poland to survive the Holocaust intact. Used by the Nazis as a stable and warehouse, it languished in sad repair until the 1990s, when, with funding from the state and sponsorship from the World Monuments Fund, it underwent a full restoration and is now used for concerts as well on religious occasions. It is filled to capacity, mainly with local Poles, for the Festival Havdalah, which features a mix of hazanut, klezmer and tisch singing that has rabbis in streimels and spectators in summer attire dancing together in the aisles. “I see what is going on here as a continuation of what once was; you try to continue,” Miller says.

Over the past 20 years, most attention has been paid in Krakow to rediscovering the city’s “lost” Jewish culture and promoting it to a non-Jewish public, through tourism and entertainment or through various educational institutions such as the Center for Jewish Culture or the Galicia Jewish Museum. But contemporary Jewish life in the city is now also getting a boost.

Over tea in the garden of the Eden, I talk with Rabbi Edgar Gluck, who, in black hat and long wispy beard, can often be seen walking Kazimierz streets like a pre-war patriarch. A politically savvy, German-born Orthodox rabbi in his 70s, he divides his time between Brooklyn and Poland. In New York City, he is known as the co-founder of the orthodox Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “I was in the World Trade Center, taking people out, as the building was coming down,” he tells me, recalling the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here he is the Chief Rabbi of Galicia, a symbolic honorific given to him by Krakow’s Jewish community, whom he serves on occasion as hazan. He spends much of his time, though, working toward the preservation of Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust mass graves. But Gluck has rabbinic company and lots of it. “In Krakow now,” goes one joke, “there are now five rabbisfor three Jews and 20 opinions.” One rabbi, brought in by Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based group that works with “lost Jews” around the world, is the “official” Jewish community rabbi. Then there is a rabbi who runs the Chabad operation and an American female rabbi who operates a small, offshoot Reform group.

There’s also the new JCC, financed by Britain’s World Jewish Relief and the Joint Distribution Committee, which occupies a sleek five-story building on the grounds of the Tempel Synagogue. Like so much else in Krakow’s Jewish universe, the initiative for the JCC came from a non-Jewish sourceBritain’s Prince Charles, who was moved by the plight of the poor and aging Jews of the city during a 2002 visit. Charles returned to Krakow in 2008 for the JCC’s inauguration: Wearing a kippah, he helped affix a mezuzah to the door.

“Jewish life is more open and safer here than anywhere else I’ve been in Europe,” says Jonathan Ornstein, the director of the JCC. I meet Ornstein, a 39-year-old self-described “atheist Jewish vegetarian” for a cappuccino at a cafe on the hip Plac Nowy, the pre-war Jewish market square whose central building was a kosher poultry slaughterhouse. Plac Nowy, now a booming center of nightlife, is full of music clubs and trendy bars, which Ornstein prefers to the “Jewish-style” cafes on Szeroka. “We have kids from the Sunday school playing in the courtyard with the gate open; we feel no danger, no fear.”

Born in New York, Ornstein moved to Israel as a young man and relocated to Krakow seven years ago, teaching Hebrew at the Jagiellonian University. The Jagiellonian has a Jewish studies program that was launched in the 1980s; its outgrowth, the Center for Jewish Culture, opened in 1992 in a renovated former prayer house off Plac Nowy. Ornstein rejects nostalgia for the city’s past and focuses on stimulating contemporary Jewish expression. The bulletin boards in the JCC’s lobby flutter with announcements for clubs and social events: a Hanukkah party this year lasted until dawn, and the JCC’s Facebook group boasts more than 360 members. “People talk about Kazimierz as being the “former” Jewish quarter of Krakow. But I say, why former?” says Ornstein. “It is the present Jewish quarter of Krakow. You can’t measure it in numbers but in feeling. Jews live freely; people know things about Judaism and Jewish traditions; there’s a Jewish studies program at the university; there’s the Festival.” As he sees it, “Nobody alive today has a memory of Kazimierz when it was better than it is now.”

Back at the cafe at the Klezmer Hois, I spot my friend Konstanty (Kostek) Gebert. “This is where I hold court,” jokes Gebert, an award-winning author and a veteran of the Jewish Flying University. As an underground Solidarity activist, he deliberately chose a Jewish-sounding pen nameDawid Warszawskito write in the dissident press. In 1989, Gebert was at the Round Table talks between the communist authorities and Solidarity that facilitated the peaceful ouster of the old regime. He was the founding editor of Midrasz, a Jewish cultural and intellectual monthly, and today he heads the Warsaw-based Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Culture in Poland.

In addition to Krakow, small active Jewish communities are found in Warsaw, Lodz, Wroclaw and several other Polish cities. I’m far from sure that there is a solid enough critical mass to ensure their long-term survival. Nonetheless, in many senses, to be Jewish here and to accept Jewishness as a positive identity choice now is increasingly normal. Or at least much more normal than it was 10, 20 and certainly 30 years ago. “Today’s Jewish children in Poland, whatever else the future holds in store for them, will never grow up knowing, as their parents did, that to be Jewish means to be alone and vulnerable,” Gebert wrote in his 2008 memoir Living in the Land of Ashes.”Hopes have been successfully built on much more shaky foundations.”

He was not always this certain. He likes to joke about how, in the mid-1980s, he told a pair of Polish journalists that he didn’t think Jews in Poland could survive. The journalistswriter Malgorzata Niezabitowska and photographer Tomasz Tomaszewskiwere working on an article for National Geographic that eventually became a book called Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland. They asked Gebert how he saw the future for Jews in the country. “I believe we are the last ones,” he replied. “Definitely.” Today, he puffs his pipe and straightens his kippah. “Ugh. Never talk to the media!” he says laughing. And Krakow’s moveable Jewish feast of drink and food and conversation goes on.

Ruth Ellen Gruber has chronicled European Jewish issues for more than 20 years. Her books include National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe and Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe.

Soliman Lawrence is a Berlin-based photographer who is documenting the renaissance of Jewish Poland.

July 2, 2009 Jewish Choir Aids $100 Million Polish Heritage PlanlinkBy Nathaniel Espino

July 2 (Bloomberg) — As Ivor Lichterman led prayers at Warsaws only pre-war synagogue, he was overcome with awe to be standing where his father led the last services before the Holocaust wiped out 1,000 years of Jewish history.

Lichterman, 55, of Tucson, Arizona, is visiting Poland with a group of 70 cantors who want to help rebuild those traditions, singing at venues including the future site of Warsaws Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the National Opera and the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow.

This synagogue had a great musical legacy; it was famous around the world, Lichterman said in an interview after the service. He remembers his father Jakub Lichterman telling him how they used to pack people in and how it was standing room only.

More than 3 million Polish Jews were murdered in Nazi death camps, many of them on German-occupied Polish soil. About 100,000 survivors stayed in Poland after the war. Following a 1968 anti-Semitic campaign by Polands communist government, that number shrank to 30,000 to 40,000 today, according to statistics cited by the U.S. State Department.

Lichterman, who led the prayers together with his brother Joel of Denver, says the service raised a lot of mixed feelings. I kept looking up over there, where a 60-member choir stood before the war. Theyre probably all gone. Almost nobody survived.

Golden Age The cantors tour is sponsored by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. The foundation uses north of $100 million to support projects in Poland including museums, cultural centers, schools and synagogues that are rebuilding the infrastructure of Jewish life from a 1,000-year golden age, its chairman Tad Taube, 78, said by telephone.

The map of Jewish life disappeared from Poland as synagogues, cemeteries, cultural centers, libraries and archives were destroyed by the Nazis, Taube said.

The entire gamut of Jewish culture became a target of the Holocaust, as well as the people that were murdered during that period, Taube said.

Thats obscured the story of the previous millennium, when the Jews of Poland — including those living in what is now Lithuania and Ukraine — built up an enormous resource in literature, philosophy, mathematics, the arts, the theater that laid the foundations of Jewish life in the U.S., Israel, and around the world, Taube said.

Rescuers Honored Nathan Lam, president of the Cantors Assembly Foundation, an organizer of the trip, is making his ninth or tenth visit to Poland. He said that in addition to teaching people to sing prayers using the melodies that actually emanated from here, part of the groups mission is to honor the lives of Poles who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

I love being here, he said after singing in the June 29 service. I love the fact that Jews are reconnecting here in Poland, and Im going to do my best to help them come back again, many, many times.

Taube was born in Krakow in 1931. He left in July 1939, months before the Nazi German invasion in September of that year, after his parents, on a business trip in the U.S., became aware of the growing danger and decided to emigrate.

After working as a real-estate developer and serving on the board of Koret of California, a clothing producer, Taube began his first significant involvement in philanthropy in 1979, as a founding director of the Koret Foundation.

Taubes decision almost two decades later to throw his weight behind the cause of Jewish life in Poland was an evolutionary process inspired partly by billionaire Ronald S. Lauders philanthropic work in the country after the 1989 fall of communism, and it didnt have an awful lot to do with the fact that I happened to have been born in Poland, Taube says.

Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, says Taubes efforts are bearing fruit.

In the last few years, hes been incredibly supportive, not only in the material sense, but also in the spiritual sense, as we try to recapture what weve lost.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nathaniel Espino in Warsaw

Oct. 30, 2009

David Propis and his daughter Dena sang the Retzei at the Poland National Opera this summer. Propis, president of the American Cantors Assembly, led 70 colleagues on a tour of Poland and Israel.

As a child, David Propis, the Jewish liturgical singer of Houston’s Congregation Beth Yushurun, adored singing prayers with his father, Dov Propis, at his congregations in the Northeast.

His favorite was their first duet, a piece called the Retzei that asks God to accept one’s prayers. And Propis still recalls the Sabbath performance when his father wrapped his prayer shawl around him, and with it a feeling of protection.

The prayer was made famous by Gershon Sirota, who sang at Warsaw’s Tlomatzka Synagogue and was killed, along with his family, in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

So when Propis, the new president of the Cantors Assembly, the world’s largest body of professional cantors, helped lead about 70 of his colleagues and hundreds of congregants on a two-week tour through Poland and Israel recently, he once again performed the Retzei. This time, it was with his daughter, about 100 yards from where the Tlomatzka Synagogue once stood.

Their duet was part of the Cantors Assembly concert with the Polish National Opera, a symbolic evening that honored the life of Irena Sendler, a Pole who rescued 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

The group traveled to Poland to commemorate the Holocaust, but also in spite of it. They wanted to honor Poland’s significant number of Righteous Gentiles, the non-Jewish Poles who risked their lives and those of their families to save Jews, said Propis, the child of Lithuanian Jews whose families were murdered in the Holocaust. And they also went to learn about the Jewish heritage of Poland, the center of European Jewish life and home to 3.5 million Jews before the war.

In that spirit, the cantors’ tour, which marked the largest assembly of cantors in Poland since before WWII, reflected a message of gratitude and a quest for healing, reconciliation and their own heritage.

The Poland portion of the trip was sponsored in large part by the San Francisco-based Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, which aims to reconnect Jews with their vibrant history in Poland, where Jews lived for 1,000 years. Some 75 percent of American Jews trace their roots to Polish lands, according to the foundation, an area that extends to parts of Ukraine, Austria and Hungary.

Meanwhile, Poland, in the wake of 20 years of democracy since the fall of communism, is seeking to reclaim its own Jewish heritage by way of preservation and cultural activities. The renewed interest in Jewish culture has helped spawn an emerging Jewish community as Poles uncover their own Jewish roots. But in most cases, Jewish activities appear to be organized by non-Jews, supported by government agencies and enthusiastically received.

Perhaps the most shining example was Krakow’s 19th Jewish Culture Festival, a nine-day panoply of Jewish culture. The program featured hundreds of Jewish classes and concerts including a prayer service by the Cantors Assembly before a nighttime throng of thousands.

At its concert with the National Opera, sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister of Poland, the Cantors Assembly received a standing ovation from a crowd of 2,000.

That kind of reception helped undo some of the stereotypes held by those on the tour.

They welcomed us as cultural and musical ambassadors, Propis said, describing the Polish appreciation like a hunger.

Propis said he initially felt uncomfortable about visiting Poland.

As a child of survivors, many of us harbor difficult feelings, he said. Propis’ mother, who was sent to a forced-labor camp, was the only member of her family to survive; his father escaped with two brothers.

However, it was important that basically a new narrative be created, he said. We know the harshness and the horrors that have happened, but I think not enough is being said about the goodness in Poland, he said. I think this trip kind of cleared the clouds away.

Still, the group’s visit to the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau marked a seminal moment on the tour.

At Auschwitz, the cantors held a prayer service and unfurled the Torah scroll around Holocaust survivors and their children. And at Birkenau, the group’s visit coincided with a tour by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, who marched down the rail tracks.

It’s very hard to put in words, said Steve Lee, reflecting on the trip.

These ceremonies, combined with the religious singing, strengthened his Jewish identity, said Lee, a member of Congregation Beth Yeshurun, whose paternal grandparents emigrated from Poland. At the same time, Lee says the tour changed my entire view of Poland, explaining that he began to see Poles also as Nazi victims and not only as Nazi collaborators.

Some 3 million Poles were killed during World War II.

For his part, Propis also came to new realizations. He marveled at the extent of Poland’s Jewish and cantorial heritage and its current friendship with Israel, along with the Polish interest in Jewish culture and the stories of Righteous Gentiles.

And the National Opera, of course, provided him with his own kind of homecoming.

I had a dream come true, Propis says of performing the Retzei with his daughter, Dena, a junior at Northwestern University who sings at a Chicago synagogue.

It just came full circle.

July 2, 2009 Scent of San Francisco, stench of Los Angeles (excerpt) link By Leah Garchik

Tad Taube, co-honorary consul with Christopher Kerosky for the Republic of Poland, jetted off to Krakow for today’s ceremonies cementing the new sister-city relationship between Krakow and San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom originally was scheduled to go, said Krakow-born Taube, but “his schedule got fairly tight because of his political plans and the baby.” Supervisor Bevan Dufty will be representing the city, along with the Office of Protocol’s Matthew Goudeau.

Krakow ceremonies will include the formal document signing, by Dufty and Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski, and culminate with an evening reception for 150 guests. Taube is leading the trip with Shana Penn, executive director of the Taube Foundation.

July 13, 2009 Piecing together Jewish pasts in Poland link By Rachel Pomerance

WARSAW (JTA) — Like many children of Jews who grew up in Poland after World War II, Anna Makowska-Kwapisiewicz was sheltered from her Jewish provenance for much of her life.

There were clues, of course. Her exotic dark eyes and hair occasionally drew remarks about her Gypsy or Spanish beauty. Her grandmother would constantly teach her the catechism so she could recite it when they return. And her grandfather told stories of hiding in the forest.

A performance from the 2008 Krakow Jewish Festival, which with its array of Jewish culture attracts tens of thousands of visitors — mostly non-Jews. (limaoscarjuliet/Creative Commons)

But it wasnt until she repeated an anti-Semitic joke she heard in high school that her mother broke down and confessed that her father was, in fact, a Jew.

The news set Makowska-Kwapisiewicz on a path of discovery from Jewish study to ritual observance. Now she is a Jewish educator building a Jewish home and life — complete with plans for Jewish schooling for her year-old daughter, Nina.

Makowska-Kwapisiewicz is part of a Jewish awakening taking place in Poland.

Like a country of amnesiacs waking up from the trauma of Nazism followed by the silence and historical whitewashing of communism, Poles are now trying to piece together their collective memory. In doing so they are discovering, often in quite personal ways, their Jewish roots.

We are so much interconnected, the former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told JTA at a dinner in Warsaw. I feel that part of my heritage is Jewish tradition, he said, explaining that his grandmother lived in Vilnus, a heavily Jewish city, and she knew about Jewish dishes like cholent, the Sabbath stew.

If a Pole says he has not one even drop of Jewish blood in this body, then he is not right, Kwasniewski said.

While for Poles this awakening is about discovering their Jewish roots, for Jews worldwide its about discovering their Polish Jewish roots.

Karen Underhill, a doctoral student in Polish literature at the University of Chicago who is a former bookstore owner in Krakow, says Jews visiting Poland used to come by her shop seeking information about their heritage. Poland, she says, has become a place for Jews to rediscover their Jewish roots, particularly those who do not have a strong connection to contemporary Jewish communal life or Israel.

This month, American Jewish visitor Jeff Wachtel said he saw his own family when visiting the Galicia Jewish museum, which houses an exhibit of Mayer Kirshenblatts paintings of his boyhood Polish town.

I had no sense of what their life was like, said Wachtel, a senior assistant to the president of Stanford University. But when he heard Kirshenblatt talk of his Poland, it reminded him of his own family.

When I was listening to it, I was sure that thats where my mother grew up, Wachtel said. For the first time, part of my past became very understood in my mind.

Three-quarters of American Jews trace their roots to Greater Poland — including Poland and parts of Ukraine, Austria and Hungary — according to Tad Taube, the San Francisco-based philanthropist who is funding a variety of efforts to connect American Jews to their Polish Jewish heritage.

Taube, a Krakow native, argues that worship of the Holocaust has prompted Jews to foresake the 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland that preceded it, even though it was a golden period of Jewish life that gave rise to important religious and cultural development. Ashkenazi Judaism, in fact, was codified in Warsaw.

Approximately 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland before the war; more than 90 percent disappeared in the Holocaust.

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