Page 11234..1020..»

In ‘Parade,’ a tragedy of antisemitism is timely as ever and it wants …

Posted By on March 20, 2023

Parade centers on the 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank. Photo by Joan Marcus

By Rebecca SalzhauerMarch 16, 2023

Theres a moment near the end of Parade when Leo Frank sings the Shema. Surrounded by a mob intent on killing him, he quivers in a nightshirt, a sack tied around his waist for modesty, a noose around his neck. The harsh rattle of a military drumbeat stops, and a tense silence fills the air. Leos prayer cuts through the quiet.

Frank, a Jewish factory manager wrongfully convicted of murder, chooses his last words according to tradition. But in Parade, he sings them to a different melody than he would have in synagogue: the Confederate anthem that recurs throughout the musical. Facing death, Leo, a Yankee pariah to the people of Atlanta, is finally a Jew and a Georgian in the same breath. Ben Platt, the first Jewish actor to play Leo on Broadway, makes the scene all the more poignant, imbuing the familiar Hebrew with a mournful defiance.

At that moment, I became acutely aware that people around me were crying. I thought Id be crying too I teared up listening to the original cast recording on the train earlier this week but I never got there. The house lights glowed dim, as if anticipating the sniffles and sobs from the audience to claim them as part of the show. Yet my lack of tears crystallized what Id been feeling throughout the performance: that while the productions music, staging and design components are, by and large, beautifully rendered, its reach for contemporary resonance gets in the way of the shows emotional landing.

Set in Marietta, Georgia, Parade centers on the 1913 trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager accused of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old employee. With a book by Alfred Uhry and an epic, sweeping score by Jason Robert Brown, the musical examines the legacy of American prejudice. Through false testimonies and sensationalized media coverage, the a communitys grief and confusion erupts into the antisemitic hysteria that fueled Franks conviction and subsequent lynching.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Leo, a neurotic New Yorker, and his genteel, assimilated wife, Lucille, played by a fiercely self-possessed Micaela Diamond. Initially distant in their marriage (he calls her a meshuggener for celebrating Confederate Memorial Day; she disparages his Yiddishisms), the couple falls in love as they fight to overturn his conviction. While Browns choral numbers are breathtakingly sung by the 26-person company, its Leo and Lucilles second act duet This Is Not Over Yet that gets the nights biggest ovation.

Directed by Michael Arden, the revival marks Parades first return to Broadway since its original run in 1998, which closed after only 84 performances. At the time, New York Times criticVincent Canby described Uhrys book as a collection of notes for a show that has yet to be discovered. The current revival, which played a sold-out weeklong run at New York City Center in November, uses the revised script and score from a 2007 production at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The story leaves little room for ambiguity: Leo is a blameless victim, and the people who convict him, like the showboating prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (a spectacularly slimy Paul Alexander Nolan) and the self-righteous newspaper editor Tom Watson (Manoel Felciano) are to blame.

In a landscape of revivals eager to inject old musicals with fresh political relevance, Parade hardly needs to prove its timeliness. The neo-Nazis who rallied outside the shows first preview were evidence enough. Instead, the challenge of Parade lies in calibrating the balance of politics and pathos. Lean too heavily into Browns soaring score and you miss the sinister violence brewing beneath songs of Christian sympathy. Veer too far into the mechanics of the trial or the making of the mob, and the show becomes didactic.

Ardens direction works best when its excavating the musicals murky darkness, where grief makes a communitys latent prejudice vulnerable to radicalization. During the musicals opening number, the white characters wave Confederate flags, beaming at the Memorial Day parade while the Black cast members remain conspicuously silent. In a chilling solo at Marys funeral, her young friend Frankie Epps (Jake Pedersen) resolves to avenge her. By the second act, the teenage factory girls march at the front of a mob calling for Leos death.

The trial sequence that ends the first act is a masterclass in musical storytelling. As witnesses take the stand, each testimony is more damning than the last. In a haunting trio, Marys friends from the factory echo each others accounts of Leo as a sexual predator. The song morphs into the sleazy, ragtime Come Up to My Office, where Leo acts out their false testimony. With Platt as the ravenous puppet-master of their dance, we see Leo the way the rest of Georgia sees him. In another standout moment, the factorys Black janitor Jim Conley (Alex Joseph Grayson, a powerhouse tenor) stirs the crowd into a revivalist frenzy.

Otherwise, the productions fixation on the historical echoes of Parade dampens its emotional impact. At times, its clear that a stage picture is supposed to mean something, its just not clear what. Mary Phagans angelic appearance on a rope swing is a confusing foreshadowing to Leos lynching. In a particularly puzzling choice, Arden stages Leo and Lucilles climactic love scene as a parallel of the shows opening tableau a young couple making out on a picnic blanket before the young man heads off to fight for the confederacy.

Dane Laffreys set makes a courtroom of the stage, with rows of chairs flanking a tall, bare wooden platform at its center. For much of the show, the cast members watch the action onstage from either side, giving an impression of perpetual scrutiny. When the governor and his wife watch Leos trial from the theaters box seats, the courtroom extends beyond the stage, implicating the audience as passive witnesses to the storys injustice. Sven Ortels projections further Ardens Brechtian show-and-tell approach, flashing historical photographs of the characters when they first appear.

The productions sparse aesthetic strips away any theatrical pageantry that might distract the audience from the fraught history at its core. For the most part, this approach lets the story shine, particularly in its richly orchestrated ensemble numbers. Still, when the production pushes too hard for salience, it falls prey to a different set of distractions.

At the end of the show, the company sings a reprise of the Confederate anthem in a stunning harmony, this time ready to defend their way of life in Georgia during World War I. A caption projected onto the platform brings Parade into the present, telling the audience that the Fulton County district attorneys office reopened Leo Franks case in 2019.

The young couple from the beginning returns, this time dressed in jeans, holding iPhones and Bud Light. The lights fall as they picnic in the same spot, leaving only the last words of the caption glowing on the platform: It is still ongoing. Much more of Parade is still ongoing the currents of hate and injustice that killed Leo Frank remain strong but the message would have been clear, regardless.

See more here:

In 'Parade,' a tragedy of antisemitism is timely as ever and it wants ...

Review: A Pageant of Love and Antisemitism, in Parade

Posted By on March 20, 2023

You do not expect the star of a musical about a man lynched by an antisemitic mob to be his wife. Especially when that man, Leo Frank, who was murdered in Georgia in 1915, is played, with his usual intensity and vocal drama, by Ben Platt.

Yet in the riveting Broadway revival of the musical Parade that opened on Thursday at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, its Micaela Diamond, as Lucille Frank, you watch most closely and who breaks your heart. With no affectation whatsoever, and a voice directly wired to her emotions, she makes Lucille our way into a story we might rather turn away from.

True, this alters the balance of the show as originally staged by Harold Prince in 1998, further tipping it toward the marriage instead of the miscarriage of justice. Also toward the rapturous score by Jason Robert Brown, which won a Tony Award in 1999. But since the legal procedural was never the best part or even the point of Parade, the enhanced emphasis on a love story tested by tragedy and set to song is a big net gain.

Its strange, of course, to talk about net gains in relation to such a horrible tale. But Parade has always been strange anyway, seeking to make commercial entertainment out of a violent history and, because hes a victim, a hero of a nebbish.

As Alfred Uhrys book also a Tony winner relates, Leo, the manager of a pencil factory owned by Lucilles uncle, is a misfit in Atlanta: a New York Jew but also a cold fish. In Platts highly physical interpretation, he is scrunched and sickly looking, as if literally oppressed by the gentile society around him. That Lucilles family, longtime Southerners, seems warmly assimilated into that society makes their marriage, at the start, a curdling of cream and vinegar.

Michael Ardens staging, imported with a slightly different cast from the City Center gala he directed in November, rightly relishes such contrasts. He signals the primacy of the love story by starting, in the 1860s, with sex: a young Confederate soldier bidding goodbye to his girl. A foreboding Dixie anthem called The Old Red Hills of Home leaps 50 years forward to connect the white Christian bigotry that fueled the Civil War to the war against Leo as well.

His troubles begin with the murder of Mary Phagan (Erin Rose Doyle), a 13-year-old white employee who works, for 10 cents an hour, fastening erasers to pencil caps. Lacking conclusive evidence and in dire need of a conviction, the district attorney, Hugh Dorsey (Paul Alexander Nolan), railroads Leo by suborning testimony from many sources: friends of Phagan, a cleaner at the factory (Alex Joseph Grayson) and even Minnie, the Frankss maid (Danielle Lee Greaves). After a sensational trial that cynically pits Jewish Atlantans against Black ones, Leo is sentenced to hang.

When the first act ends on that awful note, we still do not know Leo well. His first song, usually in musicals a moment for ingratiation, is instead a bitter snit called How Can I Call This Home? His last before the verdict is Its Hard to Speak My Heart. Whatever that heart really holds is further blurred by Uhrys device of having Leo enact the false testimony of other characters, so we see him as a rake and a maniac before weve grasped him as a man.

Arden begins to correct for that during the intermission, which Leo, now imprisoned, spends sitting onstage with his head in his hands. In Act II, as he recognizes his growing dependence on Lucille, she finally becomes real to him and thus he to us.

Its too bad that some of this enlightenment is achieved through huge elisions and license in relating what is still a contested history. Though its true that Georgias governor (Sean Allan Krill) opened an inquiry that led to the commutation of Leos death sentence but only to life in prison its doubtful he did so as a result of Lucilles buttonholing him at a tea dance. Nor that she accompanied him like a lay detective as he reinterviewed witnesses and obtained their recantations.

Even if true, its unconvincing here, presented almost as a series of Nancy Drew skits. Still, Diamond maintains her dignity, allowing the final phase of the tragedy in which Leo, after two years of appeals that are summarized in one line, is kidnapped from his cell and hanged to commence with the drama righted.

It is never wronged as long as Browns music plays. In this, his first Broadway show, he demonstrates the astonishing knack for dirty pastiche that has informed such follow-ups as The Last Five Years, 13 and The Bridges of Madison County. Pastiche because of his inerrant ear for just the right genre to fit any situation, in this case including Sousa-style marches, work songs, blues, swing ditties for the factory girls, a dainty waltz for the governors party. Dirty because he roughs them up with post-Sondheim technique, scraping the surface to bring up the blood.

And as one of the few musical theater composers to write his own lyrics successfully, he gives singing actors something to act. He also manages to achieve in a rhyme what would otherwise take a scene of dialogue. As the politicians and journalists foment local hysteria and national media interest in the case, he gives two Black workers in the governors mansion a mordant triplet in the song A Rumblin and a Rollin: I can tell you this as a matter of fact/that the local hotels wouldnt be so packed/if a little Black girl had been attacked.

That the Black workers (Douglas Lyons and Courtnee Carter) are otherwise barely characterized is one of the more obvious signs that the shows book was written in the 20th century. (Uhry has made some revisions for this production.) Arden addresses this by keeping the ensemble as particular as possible, never letting it devolve into vague masses making generic gestures. And in minimizing the visual elements the set (by Dane Laffrey) is essentially a high platform on a low one, suggesting a witness box, a cell and a scaffold he keeps our attention on the people and what they sing.

If actual history plays second fiddle to that by the way, theres a terrific orchestra of 17 players, just two shy of the plush original current history steps in as a pretty good substitute. Not just in the guise of revitalized antisemitism, though the shows first preview, on Feb. 21, was greeted by a small gaggle of neo-Nazi demonstrators.

What struck me even more vividly in this well-judged and timely revival is the quick path hysteria has always burned through the American spirit if fanned by media, politicians and prejudice of any kind. When a chorus of white Georgians chants hang im, hang im, make him pay, the words cant help but echo uncomfortably in the post-Jan. 6 air. And another song, a prayer for a return of the day when the Southland was free, sounds a lot like current talk of a second secession.

Our historical wounds never really heal over. Though Franks death sentence was commuted, he was killed anyway and, as Parade points out, never exonerated. That case is ongoing.

ParadeThrough Aug. 6 at the Jacobs Theater, Manhattan; Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

Continued here:

Review: A Pageant of Love and Antisemitism, in Parade

History Repeats Itself in the Broadway Revival of Parade

Posted By on March 20, 2023

How well do modern theatregoers seeing Parade, at the BernardB. Jacobs, know the story of Leo Frank? Its been more than a century since Frank, the Jewish superintendent of an Atlanta pencil factory, was accused of the sexual assault and murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, railroaded into a guilty verdict, tantalized with the possibility of an appeal, then kidnapped from prison and lynched in Marietta, Georgia. At the time, the overt display of Southern antisemitismcrowds outside the courthouse where he was tried screamed Hang the Jew!shocked the country. Some rose up against it: Franks ordeal spurred the formation of the Anti-Defamation League, for example. But it also helped fuel the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of the men who burned a cross on Stone Mountain in 1915 were the so-called Knights of Mary Phagan, who had been in Marietta only a few months earlier, under an oak tree.

Leo Frank, though, is no longer a universally familiar name. The director Michael Ardens Broadway revival of the 1998 musical, with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Alfred Uhry, could have used that ignorance to create suspense; some audience members may expect something celebratoryits called Parade! But this production, which stars Ben Platt and had a short run last fall at New York City Center, deliberately denies itself the power of surprise. Before the show, footage of modern-day Marietta, in which we see the roadside historical marker of the lynching, fills the stages back wall. Arden (nominated for a Tony for his Deaf West production of Spring Awakening and for his revival of Once on This Island) and the projection designer, Sven Ortel, zoom in close to the signs text, which outlines the sequence of events. The projection then highlights one line: Without addressing guilt or innocence, and in recognition of the states failure to either protect Frank or bring his killers to justice, he wasgranted a posthumous pardon in 1986.

Foregrounding that sentence is one of the discomfiting choices in a sometimes contradictory, often impressive show. In a 2021 talk to an online class, Uhry spoke of having a frisson of doubt about Franks innocence, which is widely accepted. We almost know he didnt do it, he said. Uhry, whose grandmother played cards with Franks widow, says hes ninety-nine per cent sure that the real killer was the factorys sweeper, Jim Conley (Alex Joseph Grayson); Ardens production seems to wonder if thats the right proportion. For one thing, theres that phrase without addressing guilt or innocence. For another, when Mary (Erin Rose Doyle), a worker at the factory, goes to Franks office to collect her pay, she holds the string of a white balloona symbol of purity. As she speaks to Leo, she lets the balloon go, and it vanishes into the theatres fly space. Its one of Ardens ickiest touches, and its not in the original script.

But, then, every part of this Parade pulls against itself. The plot is part invented slow-burn love storyFrank, a Northerner, clearly hates Atlanta, and at first his marriage to Lucille (Micaela Diamond) seems sterile and confusedand part true-crime investigation, complete with gotcha moments for lying witnesses. In a clever patchwork, we revisit some moments as they shift from memory to evidence: little Marys meeting with Leo, and various testimonies. I admire that Parade doesnt use a song-as-soliloquy to let us fully understand Frank; after the crime is discovered, we never glimpse into his mind when hes alone. (What happens must horrify us whether we like him or not.) Instead, Uhry keeps diverting our attention to the community: the Black Atlantans (Courtnee Carter and Douglas Lyons) who note that outraged Northerners care only because Mary and Leo are white (they open the second act with the blistering song A Rumblin and a Rollin); the boy who once teased Mary on a streetcar (Jake Pedersen, his voice bugle-bright); the sympathetic governor (Sean Allan Krill) who commutes Franks death sentence to life imprisonment; the wicked prosecutor (Paul Alexander Nolan) who suborns perjury.

Browns spectacular score is also a crazy quilt, a tour of Americana forms, from barrelhouse rags to Charles Ives-influenced symphonic grandeur. It creates its most chilling effects through musical collision. For instance, the erotic, bluesy song that Conley performs with a chain gang is actually a quasi-confession, simultaneously gorgeous and appalling, particularly as sung by the astonishing Grayson. And the musical kicks off with near-cacophony. First, theres a flashback to a young Confederate soldier (Charlie Webb) singing about his love for GeorgiaI go to fight for these old hills behind me/these old red hills of home. Then its fifty years later, and hes an old veteran, swept up in a group of white revellers who sing their own rousing Southern anthem at a Confederate Memorial Day parade. As they shout, Frank, trying to push through the crowd, sings a plaintive ballad of not-belonging. The more patriotic and hectic the Georgians get, the more disturbing it is. But that doesnt stop the audience from roaring its approval. Harold Prince, the shows original director and its co-conceiver, did something similar in 1966 with Tomorrow Belongs to Me, in Cabaret, using a song to step the short distance from nationalism to fascism. Parade gets us to applaud people waving Confederate flags. Whos the mob? Whos easily led?

Platt, the first and dearest Evan Hansen, has a talent for self-redaction, and here, as the shy Frank, he hunches his shoulders, trying to disappear. Leo finds a belated passion with his wife, and Platt and Diamond, whose voices are exquisitely clear and beautifully complementary, sing the hell out of their Act II duets. Theres some queasiness, though, in seeing their conjugal awakening while our minds are occupied by Marys violation. Ardens attention has been caught by these unsavory juxtapositions, too: he uses a picnic-blanket prop to visually connect the Franks, who spread it out for a tryst on a prison-cell floor, to the early-appearing Confederate soldier and his sweetheart, who tumble on that same blanket like lovers on the grass. Georgia earth and the sexual yielding of Southern white women are thus linked in the plays imaginationas are the battles (and atrocities) perpetrated in their names.

Yet, for all this thought-provoking complexity, some crucial part of this Parade passed me by. Its not that it isnt relevant: in February, neo-Nazis protested one of the preview performances, suggesting that anti-Frank propaganda continues to be part of the white-supremacist playbook. But the productions moral landscape still shifts underfoot. What do we owe Mary, beyond that white balloon, and should the very real tragedy experienced by her and the Franks be eclipsed by an invented love story? These questions preoccupied me, but, oddly, they didnt move me. Perhaps my emotions got lost in those scenes with Lucille, which are marred by Diamonds uneasy grasp on a Southern accent. Or perhaps they bumped into Dane Laffreys crowded set, a whole antique stores worth of furniture, with an elevated platform in the center, where most of the action takes place. This arrangement makes the trial scenes difficult to parse, and it physically obstructs what should be the most frightening sequence: Franks abduction by that other parade, the rushing crowd of blood-crazed Knights.

There was, though, one wrenching moment that smashed through my sense of remove. As Leo Frank is standing at the brink, a noose around his neck, he sings the Shma, the prayer meant to be the last words uttered by the dying. Brown sets it to the same melody as The Old Red Hills of Home, a musical sequence that seems designed for Platts magnificently restrained voicehe touches each note as delicately as a robins egg. Its difficult to work out what this strange, serious show means by making the Hebrew prayer sound like the song that sent that Confederate boy off to war. Is Leo experiencing kinship? Defiance? Some shows heal; others are meant to keep a wound open. The scene uncovers an unspeakable mystery beneath the historical facts, conjuring something new out of intertwining, even competing, evocations of faith. There are beliefs that we know are diametrically and morally opposed. Yet in America, with her blood-red hills, the sacred and the dangerously nostalgic can be sung to the same tune.

See more here:

History Repeats Itself in the Broadway Revival of Parade

Military: rocket fired from Gaza lands on southern Israel

Posted By on March 20, 2023

JERUSALEM (AP) The Israeli military said Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel Saturday evening.

The rocket fell and exploded in an open area, triggering warning sirens in the Nahal Oz community to the east of Gaza City.

There were no reports of casualties or damage. The Israeli military usually responds to such rocket fire with airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, raising the possibility of further violence just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rocket attack comes a day before Israeli and Palestinian officials are set to meet in Egypt in a U.S.-backed effort to defuse violence that has soared especially in the West Bank and east Jerusalem for nearly a year.

The meeting in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh is a follow-up to last months meeting in Jordan for the same purpose. However, deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and Palestinian attacks continued since the Feb. 26 meeting in Aqaba. Twenty-three Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the ongoing bloodshed since then.

Since the start of this year, 85 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 14 people in the same period.

According to an Associated Press tally, about half of the Palestinians killed this year were affiliated with militant groups. Israel says most of the dead were militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions, some in their early teens, and others not involved in confrontations, including three men over 60, have also been killed.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to the leading Israeli rights group BTselem. Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that same time killed 30 people.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their future independent state.

Read more from the original source:

Military: rocket fired from Gaza lands on southern Israel

Astonishing: Atwood Responds to The Handmaids Tale Becoming Israeli Protest Symbol – Israel News – Haaretz

Posted By on March 20, 2023

  1. Astonishing: Atwood Responds to The Handmaids Tale Becoming Israeli Protest Symbol - Israel News  Haaretz
  2. Destroying Zionism: Masses protest overhaul; rise in violence against demonstrators  The Times of Israel
  3. Elite officers in Israels military plan walkout on Sunday in protest of judicial system overhaul  PBS NewsHour

Read the original here:

Astonishing: Atwood Responds to The Handmaids Tale Becoming Israeli Protest Symbol - Israel News - Haaretz

The Holy Land and Us review this taboo-busting look at Israel and Palestine isnt afraid of controversy – The Guardian

Posted By on March 20, 2023

The Holy Land and Us review this taboo-busting look at Israel and Palestine isnt afraid of controversy  The Guardian

See the original post here:

The Holy Land and Us review this taboo-busting look at Israel and Palestine isnt afraid of controversy - The Guardian

Ahead of ghetto uprising anniversary, Polish and Israeli flags again fly over Warsaw – The Times of Israel

Posted By on March 20, 2023

Ahead of ghetto uprising anniversary, Polish and Israeli flags again fly over Warsaw  The Times of Israel

More here:

Ahead of ghetto uprising anniversary, Polish and Israeli flags again fly over Warsaw - The Times of Israel

Which side are you on: Jewish American or American Jew?

Posted By on March 20, 2023

(JTA) Earlier this month the New York Times convened what it called a focus group of Jewish Americans. I was struck briefly by that phrase Jewish Americans in part because the Times, like the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, tends to prefer American Jews.

Its seemingly a distinction without a difference, although I know others might disagree. There is an argument that American Jew smacks of disloyalty, describing a Jew who happens to be American. Jewish American, according to this thinking, flips the script: an American who happens to be Jewish.

If pressed, Id say I prefer American Jew. The noun Jew sounds, to my ear anyway, more direct and more assertive than the tentative adjective Jewish. Its also consistent with the way JTA essentializes Jew in its coverage, as in British Jew, French Jew, LGBT Jew or Jew of color.

I wouldnt have given further thought to the subject if not for a webinar last week given by Arnold Eisen, the chancellor emeritus at the Jewish Theological Seminary. In Jewish-American, American-Jew: The Complexities and Joys of Living a Hyphenated Identity, Eisen discussed how a debate over language is really about how Jews navigate between competing identities.

What does the American signify to us? he asked. What does the Jewish signify and what is the nature of the relationship between the two? Is it a synthesis? Is it a tension, or a contradiction, or is it a blurring of the boundaries such that you cant tell where one ends and the other begins?

Questions like these, it turns out, have been asked since Jews and other immigrants first began flooding Ellis Island. Teddy Roosevelt complained in 1915 that there is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans. Woodrow Wilson liked to say that any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of the Republic. The two presidents were frankly freaked out about what we now call multiculturalism, convinced that America couldnt survive a wave of immigrants with dual loyalties.

The two presidents lost the argument, and for much of the 20th century hyphenated American was shorthand for successful acculturation. While immigration hardliners continue to question the loyalty of minorities who claim more than one identity, and Donald Trump played with the politics of loyalty in remarks about Mexicans, Muslims and Jews, ethnic pride is as American as, well, St. Patricks Day. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in announcing her run for the Republican presidential nomination this month.

For Jews, however, the hyphen became what philosophy professor Berel Lang called a weighty symbol of the divided life of Diaspora Jewry. Jewishness isnt a distant country with quaint customs, but a religion and a portable identity that lives uneasily alongside your nationality. In a 2005 essay, Lang argued that on either side of the hyphen were vying traditions or allegiances, with the Jew constantly confronted with a choice between the American side, or assimilation, and the Jewish side, or remaining distinct.

Eisen calls this the question of Jewish difference. Eisen grew up in an observant Jewish family in Philadelphia, and understood from an early age that his family was different from their Vietnamese-, Italian-, Ukrainian- and African-American neighbors. On the other hand, they were all the same that is, American because they were all hyphenated. Being parallel to all these other differences, gave me my place in the city and in the country, he said.

In college he studied the Jewish heavy hitters who were less sanguine about the integration of American and Jewish identities. Eisen calls Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the renegade theologian at JTS, the thinker who really made this question uppermost for American Jews. Kaplan wrote in 1934 that Jewishness could only survive as a subordinate civilization in the United States, and that the Jew in America will be first and foremost an American, and only secondarily a Jew.

Kaplans prescription was a maximum effort on the part of Jews to save the otherness of Jewish life not just through synagogue, but through a Jewish civilization expressed in social relationships, leisure activities and a traditional moral and ethical code.

Of course, Kaplan also understood that there was another way to protect Jewish distinctiveness: move to Israel.

A poster issued by the National Industrial Conservation Movement in 1917 warns that the American war effort might be harmed by a hyphen of disloyalty, suggesting immigrants with ties to their homelands were working to aid the enemy. (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

The political scientist Charles Liebman, in The Ambivalent American Jew (1973), argued that Jews in the United States were torn between surviving as a distinct ethnic group and integrating into the larger society.

According to Eisen, Liebman believed that Jews who make Jewish the adjective and American the noun tend to fall on the integration side of the hyphen. And Jews who make Jew the noun and American the adjective tend to fall on the survival side of the hyphen.

Eisen, a professor of Jewish thought at JTS, noted that the challenge of the hyphen was felt by rabbis on opposite ends of the theological spectrum. He cited Eugene Borowitz, the influential Reform rabbi, who suggested in 1973 that Jews in the United States are actually more Jewish on the inside than they pretend to be on the outside. In other words, were so worried about what Liebman called integration into America that we hide our distinctiveness. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the leading Modern Orthodox thinker of his generation, despaired that the United States presented its Jews with an unresolvable conflict between the person of faith and the person of secular culture.

When I read the texts Eisen shared, I see 20th-century Jewish men who doubted Jews could be fully at home in America and at home with themselves as Jews (let alone as Jews who werent straight or white which would demand a few more hyphens). They couldnt imagine a rich Jewishness that didnt exist as a counterculture, the way Cynthia Ozick wondered what it would be like to think as a Jew in a non-Jewish language like English.

They couldnt picture the hyphen as a plus sign, which pulled the words Jewish and American together.

Recent trends support the skeptics. Look at Judaisms Conservative movement, whose rabbis are trained at JTS, and which has long tried to reconcile Jewish literacy and observance with the American mainstream. Its shrinking, losing market share and followers both to Reform where the American side of the hyphen is ascendant and to Orthodoxy, where Jewish otherness is booming in places like Brooklyn and Lakewood, New Jersey. And the Jewish nones those opting out of religion, synagogue and active engagement in Jewish institutions and affairs are among the fastest-growing segments of American Jewish life.

Eisen appears more optimistic about a hyphenated Jewish identity, although he insists that it takes work to cultivate the Jewish side. I dont think theres anything at stake necessarily on which side of the hyphen you put the Jewish on, he said. But if you dont go out of your way to put added weight on the Jewish in the natural course of events, as Kaplan said correctly 100 years ago, the American will win.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.

Read the original here:

Which side are you on: Jewish American or American Jew?

Anti-Defamation League reports all-time high white supremacist …

Posted By on March 20, 2023

A new report published last week by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism found that an all-time high number of white supremacist propaganda incidents occurred in the United States in 2022, eclipsing the previous years record total of 4,876 by nearly 2,000.

Our data shows, the ADL wrote, a 38 percent increase in incidents from the previous year, with a total of 6,751 the highest number of white supremacist propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.

In addition to an increase in white supremacist incidents, the ADL recorded a more than doubling of antisemitic propaganda incidents, rising from 352 in 2021 to 852 in 2022. These included banner drops on roadways, in-person demonstrations, leafleting neighborhoods and projecting images on buildings and stadiums.

The ADL found that propaganda efforts were undertaken in every US state except Hawaii, with the most active states being Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Utah, Florida, Connecticut and Georgia. These propaganda efforts were organized by at least 50 different white supremacist groups according to the ADL. However, three of themPatriot Front, Goyim Defense League (GDL) and White Lives Matter (WLM)were responsible for 93 percent of the activity.

White supremacist events such as demonstrations at state capitols, parades and local businesses, organized by WLM, GDL, Patriot Front, the Proud Boys and others increased by 55 percent last year, from 108 in 2021 to 167 in 2022.

The only area where ADL recorded a decrease in fascist activity was on school campuses, where the ADL found 219 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, a slight 6 percent decrease from 2021. Fascist propaganda, overwhelmingly distributed by Patriot Front (74 percent of all incidents), was discovered on campuses in 39 different states, led by Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

This is the second report released by the ADL in the last month that has documented an historic rise in far-right agitation and violence in the US.

Last month, the ADL reported that every single extremist mass killing in 2022 was linked to far-right ideology. Notably, the ADL did not mention that every mass killing linked to in their report was directly inspired by Republican Party politicians and their sycophants in right-wing media. This is also the case in the March report, which likewise does not mention Trump or the role of the Republican Party in cultivating these right-wing and openly fascist elements.

While the Republicans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, have advanced some 420 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation so far in 2023, violent Republican rhetoric is translating into threats of real-world fascist terrorist violence.

Last week, less than a week after a heavily armed fascist was arrested after threatening to kill anyone that is Jewish in the Michigan government, another Michigan man, Randall Robert Berka II, was arrested on charges of unlawfully owning guns after he threatened online to kill LGBTQ people and leading Democratic politicians, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and President Joe Biden.

According to the March 9 criminal complaint, Google forwarded the FBI several threats posted by an account linked to Berka that were made between February and March 2023.

Trans freaks and gays lgbt freaks [they] all need [to] die and be genocided its all I talk about anymore is wanting to kill trans freaks, the account linked to Berka allegedly posted online. The complaint included over two pages of threats allegedly made by Berka over the last month.

The complaint noted that Berka had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment in 2012. Despite his previous commitment preventing him from legally owning firearms, Berkas mom, Michelle, according to the complaint, admitted that within the last year she had purchased four guns for her son.

In the complaint, Michelle confirmed with the FBI that her son has ammunition for all of his weapons, which he kept staged at his apartment along with body armor. In the complaint, Michelle said she is scared of her son and that he should be arrested and put in prison.

The day after the FBI arrested Berka, one person was arrested on assault charges at an anti-trans demonstration held in Sacramento, California, on March 10. Police have refused to confirm if the person arrested was part of the small crowd of neo-Nazis or part of the larger group of counter-demonstrators.

Social media video posted online appears to show a woman, identified as Aurelia Moore, pointing a gun at counter-protesters. Separate photos show previously identified neo-Nazis dressed in black and armed with brass knuckles.

Loading Tweet ...

The day after the anti-trans rally in Sacramento, over 100 neo-Nazis, Proud Boys, Patriot Front and White Lives Matter fascists descended on a drag queen story hour held Saturday at Wadsworth Memorial Park in Ohio.

The armed Nazis, led by Chris Pohlhaus from the Nazi group Blood Tribe, wore red sweaters and black pants, and waved black and white flags with swastikas on them, screaming Sieg Heil! There will be blood! Pedophiles get the rope! along with chants of Weimar problems require Weimar solutions.

Loading Tweet ...

Donate to the WSWS 25 Year Fund

Watch David Norths remarks commemorating 25 years of the World Socialist Web Site and donate today.

Photos from the event show the Nazis protected by police as they scream obscenities at the children and parents gathered at the public park.

Loading Tweet ...

The Akron Beacon Journal reported on Monday that at the end of the event, two people were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and arrested after a fight broke out in which an opponent of the neo-Nazis pepper-sprayed a fascist in chain mail. After a brief scuffle, a man pointed what appeared to be a gun into the crowd, although police have since claimed that the metallic object was a not a gun, but a weapon used to shoot pepper-spray balls.

Loading Tweet ...

In Florida, police have yet to announce an arrest after a man attacked the Chabad Jewish Center of Cape Coral shortly after services ended Saturday night. According to multiple witnesses, the enraged man used a brick to try and break into the center, even as worshipers were still inside.

We hear this loud noise, Rabbi Yossi Labkowski told NBC 2, I was approaching the door and I see somebody picking up a brick and just yanking it, throwing it at the door.

Jacob Ben-Haim, who was inside the building at the time of the attack, told NBC he thought someone was shooting through the door.

Four or five loud bangs on the door. So I thought for a moment, somebodys shooting at the door I was looking, wheres the bullets?

Rabbi Yossi said that after the man was unable to break through the door, he proceeded to vandalize a painting of a menorah and smash the windshield of the rabbis vehicle.

He was targeting the Jewish community, Labkowski said.

This past Tuesday, police in Lakewood, New Jersey, arrested 22-year-old Max Sanchez after multiple people reported the man was exhibiting disturbing behavior while armed with a large knife outside the Satmar Shul synagogue. In a statement, police captain Gregory Staffordsmith said that while there were no specific threats made to any of the victims, the area where Sanchez was menacing people is home to a large portion of Orthodox Jewish families.

Sign up for the WSWS email newsletter

Originally posted here:
Anti-Defamation League reports all-time high white supremacist ...

Medical genetics of Jews – Wikipedia

Posted By on March 20, 2023

The medical genetics of Jews have been studied to identify and prevent some rare genetic diseases that, while still rare, are more common than average among people of Jewish descent. There are several autosomal recessive genetic disorders that are more common than average in ethnically Jewish populations, particularly Ashkenazi Jews, because of relatively recent population bottlenecks and because of consanguineous marriage (marriage of second cousins or closer).[1] These two phenomena reduce genetic diversity and raise the chance that two parents will carry a mutation in the same gene and pass on both mutations to a child.

The genetics of Ashkenazi Jews have been particularly well studied, because the phenomenon affects them the most. This has resulted in the discovery of many genetic disorders associated with this ethnic group.[2] The medical genetics of Sephardic Jews and Mizrahi Jews are more complicated, because they are genetically more diverse, and therefore no genetic disorders are more common in these groups as a whole; instead, they tend to have the genetic diseases common in their various countries of origin.[2][3]

Several organizations, such as Dor Yeshorim,[4] offer screening for Ashkenazi genetic diseases, and these programs have done much, particularly by reducing the instance of TaySachs disease.[5]

Different ethnic groups tend to have different rates of hereditary diseases, with some being more common, and some less common. Hereditary diseases, particularly hemophilia, were recognized early in Jewish history, even being described in the Talmud.[6] However, the scientific study of hereditary disease in Jewish populations was initially hindered by scientific racism, which was based on racial supremacism.[7][8]

However, modern studies on the genetics of particular ethnic groups have the tightly defined purpose of avoiding the birth of children with genetic diseases, or identifying people at particular risk of developing a disease in the future.[7] Consequently, some members of the Jewish community have been very supportive of modern genetic testing programs; this high level of cooperation has raised concerns that conclusions may lead to stigmatization of the Jewish community.[6]

Most populations contain hundreds of alleles that could potentially cause disease, and most people are heterozygotes for one or two recessive alleles that would be lethal in a homozygote.[9] Although the overall frequency of disease-causing alleles does not vary much between populations, the practice of consanguineous marriage (marriage between second cousins or closer relatives) has been common in some Jewish communities, which produces a small increase in the number of children with congenital defects.[1]

According to Daphna Birenbaum Carmeli at the University of Haifa, Jewish populations have been studied thoroughly because:[10]

The result is a form of ascertainment bias. This has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations. Carmeli writes, "Jews are over-represented in human genetic literature, particularly in mutation-related contexts."[10]

This set of advantages have led to Ashkenazi Jews in particular being used in many genetic studies, not just in the study of genetic diseases. For example, a series of publications on Ashkenazi centenarians established their longevity was strongly inherited and associated with lower rates of age-related diseases.[11] This "healthy aging" phenotype may be due to higher levels of telomerase in these individuals.[12]

Because of centuries of endogamy, today's 10 million Ashkenazi Jews descend from a population of 350 who lived about 600800 years ago.[13] That population derived from both Europe and the Middle East. Some evidence shows that the population bottleneck may have allowed deleterious alleles to increase in the population by genetic drift.[14] This group has therefore been particularly intensively studied, and many mutations have been found to be common in Ashkenazim.[15] Of these diseases, many also occur in other Jewish groups and in non-Jewish populations, although the specific mutation that causes the disease may vary among populations. For example, two mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene each cause Gaucher's disease in Ashkenazim, which is that group's most common genetic disease, but only one of these mutations is found in non-Jewish groups.[5] A few diseases are unique to this group; familial dysautonomia, for example, is almost unknown in other peoples.[5]

TaySachs disease, which can present as a fatal illness of children that causes mental deterioration prior to death, was historically extremely common among Ashkenazi Jews,[17] with lower levels of the disease in some Pennsylvania Dutch, Italian, Irish Catholic, and French Canadian descent, especially those living in the Cajun community of Louisiana and the southeastern Quebec.[18] Since the 1970s, however, proactive genetic testing has been quite effective in eliminating TaySachs from the Ashkenazi Jewish population.[19]

Gaucher's disease, in which lipids accumulate in inappropriate locations, occurs most frequently among Ashkenazi Jews;[20] the mutation is carried by roughly one in every 15 Ashkenazi Jews, compared to one in 100 of the general American population.[21] Gaucher's disease can cause brain damage and seizures, but these effects are not usually present in the form manifested among Ashkenazi Jews; while those affected still bruise easily, and it can still potentially rupture the spleen, it generally has only a minor impact on life expectancy.

Ashkenazi Jews are also highly affected by other lysosomal storage diseases, particularly in the form of lipid storage disorders. Compared to other ethnic groups, they more frequently act as carriers of mucolipidosis[22] and NiemannPick disease,[23] the latter of which can prove fatal.

The occurrence of several lysosomal storage disorders in the same population suggests the alleles responsible might have conferred some selective advantage in the past.[24] This would be similar to the hemoglobin allele which is responsible for sickle-cell disease, but solely in people with two copies; those with just one copy of the allele have a sickle cell trait and gain partial immunity to malaria as a result. This effect is called heterozygote advantage.[25]

Familial dysautonomia (RileyDay syndrome), which causes vomiting, speech problems, an inability to cry, and false sensory perception, is almost exclusive to Ashkenazi Jews;[26] Ashkenazi Jews are almost 100 times more likely to carry the disease than anyone else.[27]

Diseases inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern often occur in endogamous populations. Among Ashkenazi Jews, a higher incidence of specific genetic disorders and hereditary diseases has been verified, including:

In contrast to the Ashkenazi population, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews are much more divergent groups, with ancestors from Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, Libya, the Balkans, Iran, Iraq, India, and Yemen, with specific genetic disorders found in each regional group, or even in specific subpopulations in these regions.[2]

One of the first genetic testing programs to identify heterozygote carriers of a genetic disorder was a program aimed at eliminating TaySachs disease. This program began in 1970, and over one million people have now been screened for the mutation.[48] Identifying carriers and counseling couples on reproductive options have had a large impact on the incidence of the disease, with a decrease from 40 to 50 per year worldwide to only four or five per year.[5] Screening programs now test for several genetic disorders in Jews, although these focus on the Ashkenazi Jews, since other Jewish groups cannot be given a single set of tests for a common set of disorders.[3] In the US, these screening programs have been widely accepted by the Ashkenazi community, and have greatly reduced the frequency of the disorders.[49]

Prenatal testing for several genetic diseases is offered as commercial panels for Ashkenazi couples by both CIGNA and Quest Diagnostics. The CIGNA panel is available for testing for parental/preconception screening or following chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis and tests for Bloom syndrome, Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis, familial dysautonomia, Fanconi anemia, Gaucher disease, mucolipidosis IV, Neimann-Pick disease type A, Tay-Sachs disease, and torsion dystonia. The Quest panel is for parental/preconception testing and tests for Bloom syndrome, Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis, familial dysautonomia, Fanconi anemia group C, Gaucher disease, Neimann-Pick disease types A and B, and Tay-Sachs disease.

The official recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that Ashkenazi individuals be offered screening for Tay-Sachs disease, Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis, and familial dysautonomia as part of routine obstetrical care.[50]

In the orthodox community, an organization called Dor Yeshorim carries out anonymous genetic screening of couples before marriage to reduce the risk of children with genetic diseases being born.[51] The program educates young people on medical genetics and screens school-aged children for any disease genes. These results are then entered into an anonymous database, identified only by a unique ID number given to the person who was tested. If two people are considering getting married, they call the organization and tell them their ID numbers. The organization then tells them if they are genetically compatible. It is not divulged if one member is a carrier, so as to protect the carrier and his or her family from stigmatization.[51] However, this program has been criticized for exerting social pressure on people to be tested, and for screening for a broad range of recessive genes, including disorders such as Gaucher disease.[4]

More here:

Medical genetics of Jews - Wikipedia

Page 11234..1020..»