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Chabad Jewish Center of Troy to Open School this Fall Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on July 6, 2022

In time for the upcoming school year, Chabad Jewish Center of Troy is launching a brand-new Hebrew School of the Arts. The school will service preschool and elementary level children to provide them Jewish education in a fun and meaningful way.

At the Hebrew School of the Arts we have developed exactly this, said Rabbi Menachem Caytak of Chabad Jewish Center of Troy. The curriculum, called Super Jew, is an immersive and transformative curriculum that will enable our children to form deep attachments to Judaism on practical, emotional and spiritual levels.

Classes will run from 10 a.m.-noon Sundays starting Fall of 2022-2023.

Each week, the teacher will broach an exciting Super Powers framework to introduce a new dilemma, scenario or challenge to the students. These scenarios will be relatable to their day-to-day lives. Using clues, the students will be taken on an exploratory journey with facts, and how-to information from the Torah that will lead them to gain a full understanding of the subject matter.

In addition, at the Hebrew School of the Arts, the students will learn how to read Hebrew with an award-winning program called Aleph Champ.

At Hebrew School of the Arts we strive to stress the beauty and warmth of Judaism and its mitzvot, providing a learning experience in an atmosphere of joy and liveliness, Caytak said.

Chana Caytak, the schools director. said, Education is at the core of everything. What we teach children in their formative years creates an indelible impact and foundation for their entire adult lives. And not only are the students themselves transformed, but the positive impact of their learning extends to their families and friends.

The Hebrew School of the Arts is also proud to offer scholarships to families in need. Through the generosity of Jamie Blumenthal and the team at Long Lake Plaza in Troy, its policy is that no child is turned away due to lack of funds.

For more information and to register, visit or contact Chana Caytak at or (248) 877-5781.

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How have Jewish summer camps changed throughout the years? Experts explain – Yahoo Canada Shine On

Posted By on July 6, 2022

Jewish summer camps have a rich history dating back to before World War I. (Photo: Getty Creative)

The Jewish summer camp experience has become a beloved summer memory for many Jewish families and communities. But these summertime programs have not always been the Jewish summer camps of today. Through the decades, summer camps have varied between everything from an experience that excluded Jewish people to one that was used to protect and support Jewish children from the effects of war.

Jonathan Krasner is a professor of Jewish education at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. who reports that in the very early years of summer camp in the U.S., Jewish people and other minority communities were left out of these traditional summertime activities.

"Camps often had Christian influences," he explains, "and while some were officially non-denominational, many camps were restricted which means that Jews, Black people and other marginalized people were not permitted to enroll."

Krasner says as a result, Jews started creating their own parallel institutions to traditional American summer camps, beginning in 1893. As Jewish organizations began to open facilities all their own, they followed the two different traditional structures for American summer camps: private camps and "fresh air" camps.

"Private and institutionally-affiliated camps were for middle-class and wealthy kids," says Krasner. "And, fresh air camps were for children of immigrants and other at-risk populations."

"For middle and upper-class families, the growth of summer camps at the turn of the 20th century was part of a wider cultural reaction to urbanization and industrialization," he adds. "Nostalgia was palpable for what was imagined as a simpler time, when humans were more connected to the land and to nature."

For the children of immigrants, fresh air camps were touted for their health benefits. According to Krasner, parents saw the value of relocating kids from hot, overcrowded city neighborhoods and exposing them to nature, fresh air, hearty food and wholesome play.

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"Camps were [also] agents of Americanization: teaching immigrant kids how to play American sports and encouraging them to develop a taste for American cuisine and enjoy popular American pastimes," he says, adding that these early Jewish summer camps gave Jewish children a camp they could attend, but werent much different from their non-Jewish counterparts. If any Jewish culture was presented, like Friday evening services and a Shabbat dinner, it was minimal.

"After World War I, a new type of Jewish summer camp developed," says Krasner, "the Jewish culture camp."

"These camps had many of the same activities as the general camps, but the atmosphere was distinctly Jewish," he continues. "The emphasis was on spending the summer immersed in Jewish culture and living rich, joyfully-Jewish lives."

These newer Jewish summer camps were not only a place for fun and cultural discovery. In some cases, they were a safe haven for Jewish children in high-risk areas of the country during World War II.

"While camps in picturesque remote locations always had a cache with the rich, parents found a new reason to favor these camps during World War II," Krasner tells Yahoo Life. "[Parents] fearing U-Boat attacks (a type of naval submarine operated by Germany during the first and second World Wars) on East Coast population centers, packed their kids off to camp in remote locations like the Adirondacks and central Maine."

As World War II came to an end in 1945, Jewish summer camps, along with many other Jewish institutions, saw massive amounts of growth throughout the U.S.

Daniel Olson, director of strategic initiatives and research at the National Ramah Commission in New York, says in 1947 when the first Camp Ramah (Jewish summer camps affiliated with the Conservative Movement of Judaism) opened, it was just the beginning of the second stage of Jewish summer camps.

"There were camps organized around using Hebrew, using Yiddish, teaching socialist values or being early Zionists supporting Jewish state-building in Palestine," he tells Yahoo Life. "At that time, the American-Jewish community was more established with less concerns about assimilating into mainstream American culture so, the post-World War II period is when you saw Jewish denominations getting into the summer camp game and having a much more self-conscious focus on Jewish education for leadership development."

Olson says 75 years later, stories of that first summer at Camp Ramah, so close to the end of the atrocities of the Holocaust and World War II, are still remembered to this day. And, while some American children had been protected from potential attacks by Jewish summer camps, refugees new to the country found comfort and community in these summer experiences after the war had ended.

Today, Jewish summer camps continue to be a part of the Jewish experience in the U.S. and around the world, a phenomenon experts believe may be tied to a third wave of camping, focused on individuality.

Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow is the New York-based vice president of innovation and education at Foundation for Jewish Camp. Orlow says Jewish summer camps have entered into a new phase, paving the way to continue the tradition of the Jewish summer camp experience.

"Now it's how do we make them good Jews?" he says "Even if there are many different flavors of what a good Jew could look like. The third phase happened about 13 years ago an enterprise to build new specialty camps, to bring new kids to the market who would not necessarily be going to Jewish camp otherwise"

"Reform science camps, farm-to-table camps how do we take these niches of human existence and integrate Jewish into that space and bring new people into the camp environment?" Orlow adds.

Olson agrees, and says in recent decades, Jewish summer camps have learned not only how to share a more authentic, full Jewish life, but also how to be more inclusive.

"We've learned a lot in the last generation," Olson says. "People who come to camp learn how to live in a community and how to have respect for lots of different people. Disability inclusion has been a part of Ramah for the last 52 years and is now a part of many many other Jewish summer camps as well."

"Respect for difference and the full diversity of our communities is a really important outcome here," he adds. "When you're living an an immersive especially for the overnight camps 24/7 environment, surrounded by other people, there's an incredible opportunity to not just learn about Jewish values, traditions, rituals and customs, but also to live them out all the time. That, I think, is one of the most special pieces that Jewish summer camps provide for kids and staff members."

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Boris Nayfeld, the Jewish Gangster-Survivor, and the Birth of the Russian Mob in Brooklyn – CrimeReads

Posted By on July 6, 2022

I shouldnt be alive today.

That was one of the first things Boris Nayfeld told me when I met him four years ago.

On a sweltering Saturday in late June 2018, we sat outdoors at Tatiana Grill, a popular restaurant on the Brighton Beach boardwalk, tossing back shots of Russian vodka chased by the warm salty Atlantic breeze, surrounded by young women from St. Petersburg and Kiev and Odessa who wore more makeup than clothes.

Known to his friends and family as Biba and described in the New York tabloids as the last boss of the original Russian Mafia in America, Boris had every right to marvel at the fact that he was alive and smiling and talking into my digital recorder. Hed survived multiple assassination attemptsshot point-blank by that Uzi submachine gun in 1986; he also escaped unscathed in 1991 when a grenade planted under his Lincoln Town Car failed to detonate. At age eighteen, he served three years of hard labor in a Soviet prison camp; after emigration to the United States, he spent a substantial portion of his life in various federal penitentiaries.

Now seventy-four, Boris is still an imposing figure with a shaved head, piercing blue eyes, and a burly physique covered in prison-inked tattoos. Four macabre skulls. A menacing tail-rattling scorpion. A massively hooded king cobra. A Star of David inset with a Hebrew Bible topped by an elaborate crown. To initiates in the world of Russian organized crime, the blue ink on his upper body can be read like a pictorial storybook, rendering Nayfelds entire rsum as a professional criminal: its a rap sheet that includes convictions as a racketeer, a heroin trafficker, a money launderer, and an extortionist. Hes also been suspected of orchestrating several high-profile gangland murders, though he was never charged or indicted and hasof courserepeatedly denied complicity.

Few of his contemporaries from the Soviet migr underworld in Brighton Beach made it to his advanced age. Many, though not all, died public and violent deaths. Boris is virtually the last mobster of his generation standing.

The ultimate survivor.

His life story offers us a window into a singular moment in modern historywhen a wave of Jews fleeing Soviet oppression in the 1970s arrived in the United States and, following in the footsteps of a previous generation of young hoodlums like Meyer Lansky, Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, and Louis Lepke Buchalter, applied both brains and brawn to making their fortunes as outlaws in America.

But that wave of Soviet migr criminals in the 1970s and 80s was unlike any that had come before. They were cosmopolitan, sophisticated, often university-educated men whod survived for years in the Soviet Union by applying their ingenuity and daring to bilk the corrupted state. They settled in the decaying South Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach, for generations a haven for immigrant Jews, and refashioned it as their own Little Odessa.

Almost immediately, criminals like Boris Nayfeld distinguished themselves for their fearlessness. They partnered with, but were never cowed by, the Italian American Mafia. They joked about how easy it was to steal in America. They scoffed at the cushiness of U.S. penitentiaries in comparison to the starvation conditions in the forced labor camps theyd experienced in the Soviet Union. They displayed a ruthlessness and casual use of violence that shocked even jaded members of U.S. law enforcement. In contrast to more established organized crime groupsas Boris never fails to remind metheir power lay in the fact that they felt they had fuck all to lose.

Yes, they were tough, but their intellect, creativity, and global ambitions truly distinguished them among the ranks of American gangsters. The schemes concocted by Boris and his fellow criminals from the Soviet Union seem, even today, remarkable for their ingenuity and brazenness. These were guys whod survived in a totalitarian state that normalized illegal activity, one that viewed crime as a form of anti-communist rebellion and even elevated it to an art form.

In the United States, their illicit ventures escalated from audacious and theatrical jewelry swindles to the most sophisticated financial fraud, stock manipulation, and international money laundering. In a few short years, the Brighton Beach mobs tentacles stretched over to Antwerp and Berlin, from Bangkok to Sierra Leone. As youll read, Boris Nayfeld and his partners were among the first to spot and exploit the untold fortunes to be made in the economic chaos after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union began its inexorable collapse.

They also targeted many routine aspects of daily life that we all take for granted in the United Statesfrom putting gas in our cars to the credit cards we use to pay for it. Soviet-born criminals, and their Italian American mob partners, stole billions of dollars in gasoline excise taxes through daisy-chain schemes that have become the stuff of underworld lore. And it took FBI and IRS agents years to figure out how they were doing it. They pioneered and perfected new forms of bank fraud and myriad health insurance scams; they counterfeited everything from hundred-dollar bills to Marlboro cigarettes.

Their criminal genius lay in exploiting the unseen weaknesses within the economic system right under our noses.

When I met Boris Nayfeld, he was seventy years old and on parole for his final felony convictiona bizarre murder-for-hire plot turned into an extortion scheme that was splashed all over the tabloids for weeks; at the sentencing hearing in the Southern District of New York in July 2016, the prosecutor described Boris as an extremely complicated person with a rich criminal history whod spent most of his adult life in Russian organized crime.

Extremely complicated is an understatement.

In the four years Ive known Borisinterviewing him at his home, hanging out in noisy Brooklyn restaurants and scorching banyashis personality remains a conundrum. Hes at once chilling and charming; cunning and street-smart, and, somehow, remarkably nave.

Ive watched him describe with utter detachment scenes of extraordinary violence committed to him, around him, by him. Ive also listened to him talk with passion and sophistication about reading Dostoevskys novels while locked up for eight straight months of solitary confinement in the notorious Special Housing Unit (or Shoe) at the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in Lower Manhattan.

Boris has said repeatedly that he has no regrets for anything hes done in his life. Yet across his stomach, tattooed in massive blue Hebrew letters, are the words God Forgive Me.

Its hard to reconcile many of these internal contradictions; but this duality is, I believe, what makes Boris Nayfeld a uniquely fascinating character.

His story provides the first authentic insiders perspective on the birth of modern Russian organized crime and its continuing ramifications in our contemporary world. Vladimir Putins Russia has often been described as a virtual mafia state; the criminal career of Boris Nayfeld, a man roughly the same age as Putin, offers us a unique, granular insight into how the former Soviet Union became the largest kleptocracy in history.

On one level, this is a classic immigrant story: in the early 1950s, Boris Mikhailovich Nayfeld was just some abandoned Jewish kid in a backwater city in the Byelorussian Republic of the USSR. In 1979, he managed to escape to the West, and by the early 1990s hed become a Bentley-driving multimillionaire whod clawed his way to a top perch in the New York City underworld.


Almost from the first moment I met Boris Nayfeld, he fascinated me. In part, this could be because our family roots are so similar. Though one of my grandfathers hailed from Warsawbefore the Holocaust the largest Jewish community in the world, outside of New Yorkmy other three grandparents came to the United States from Bialystok, then a predominantly Jewish city within the Russian Empire, located approximately four hundred miles to the west of Boriss hometown of Gomel.

White Russia.

Thats the literal translation of Byelorussiatodays independent Republic of Belarus.

Though the borders were constantly shifting, in my grandparents era, the Jews of White Russia lived within the Grodno Governorate, a far western province of Czar Nicholas IIs empire, abutting on Poland and home to some of the largest citiesBialystok, Grodno, Minsk, Brestin which Jews were allowed to live and work under the restrictive laws of the Pale of Settlement.

Unlike Boriss family, my grandparents were lucky to get out of Russia in time.

Still teenagers, traveling alone, sometimes lying in the official paperwork about their ages, they escaped the pogroms and the Czarist conscription of World War I and, later, the scorched-earth devastation of the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the Shoah that took the lives of almost all their older siblings and their familieslanding in Ellis Island several years before the 1917 Revolution.

The Nayfelds were the ones who stayed behind.

Citizens of the USSR, they were subject to the incomprehensible collective sacrifice of the Great Patriotic War against Hitler. Boriss grandparents survived the Nazi invasion only by escaping into the interior of the Soviet Unionsettling in Kazakhstan. After the war, returning to Gomel, they lived through the decades of official antisemitism under the repressive Stalinist state.

My grandparents, on the other hand, like many working-class Russian Jewish immigrants, had their youthful values shaped in the cauldron of the Pale of Settlement; even before the Bolshevik Revolution, they embraced the utopian ideals of Marx and Engels. Well into their golden years, in retirement in Chicago and Miami Beach, I remember them reading Der Morgen Freiheit (The Morning Freedom), the far-left Yiddish-language newspaper published daily in New York City.

Lifelong progressive idealists they may have been, and Yiddish was always the mama loshenthe mother tongueyet they all became proud American citizens.

Throughout the last century, the immigrant experience bred a wide variety of tough Jewish types. It produced infamous gunmen, gangsters, and labor racketeers. Also: anonymous hardworking men like my maternal grandfather, Willie Smithborn Velvel Schmidwhod fled from Bialystok in 1914 to avoid the Czars draft at the start of the First World War. Even as a teenager, he was highly politicized, considering himself an anarchist (not a communist); he was a short, powerfully built guy with an explosive temper who often had to use his fists to fend off antisemitic insults when he arrived for the morning shape-up as a longshoreman on the Brooklyn waterfront during the Great Depression.

After leaving Russia, he and my grandmother settled in a small apartment on West Twenty-First Street, Coney Islandthat was where my mother was born in 1930a short walk from where Boris Nayfeld and his family, a half century later, would find their first modest American home, in the housing projects, on Neptune Avenue and Thirty-Sixth Street, near Seagate.


One morning in 2019, while staying at Boriss sprawling house in Staten Island, I awoke to find him whipping up some scrambled eggs and lox and blini. Hes a very good cook; when I asked, he explained that hed spent a few semesters at a culinary school in Gomel in his early twenties.

But before breakfast, we both needed to swallow our morning levothyroxine pills on empty stomachswe learned, with mild amusement, that we shared the autoimmune disease of hypothyroidism, and we had the exact same dosage of medication prescribed to correct it.

In the brilliantly sunlit kitchen, Boris smiled and offered me a glass of hot tea.

It reminded me of how my Grandpa Willie drank his tea.

Black. In a water glass. Not a mug.

I remembered how he, too, had been able to read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and Babel in the original Russian. How he, too, loved to play cards and gamble with his Yiddish- and Russian-speaking friends, though their game of choice was pinochle and Boriss game is clabber.

Of course, none of my grandparents were convicted criminalslet alone headline-making heroin traffickers, money launderers, or suspected murderers. But in the years that Ive been hanging out with Boris Nayfeld, Ive often wondered what my grandparents would have made of him. Would they have regarded him with revulsionas a shtarker, a gonif who made a fortune preying on his fellow Jews? Or would theyif even begrudginglyhave recognized a familiar character in Boris Mikailovich Nayfeld: The Jew with the indomitable spirit? The Jew whom absolutely nothing could break?

For me, Boris represents a throwback: a walking reminder of the hardscrabble origins of Russian Jewry in Americathe world that produced a cohort of muscular, savvy, steely-eyed men, men for whom survival often meant doing the things that were necessarydifficult, unsavory, oftentimes outside the law.


Over the past four years, Ive listened to Boris describing mind-boggling tales of greed and violence and betrayal.

Breathless accounts of daylight shootings in Brooklyn. Audacious heists in the diamond districts of Manhattan and Antwerp. Mountains of pure China White heroin smuggled from Thailand through Warsaw into JFK Airport. Suitcases stuffed with millions in counterfeit U.S. currency. Marathons of high-stakes gambling over cards in West African beach resorts. Escapades with young call girls in Moscow casinos and onboard the yachts of oligarchs in the Black Sea.

Id only been talking to Boris for a few hours that first afternoon at Tatiana in Brighton Beach when I jotted down a phrase in one of my spiral notebooks that seems, in hindsight, as appropriate an introduction as any to this book:

Welcome to the dark side of the American dream.


Excerpted from The Last Boss of Brighton: Boris Biba Nayfeld and the Rise of the Russian Mob in America, by Douglas Century. Published by William Morrow & Company. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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Meet the student rabbi who will join a New Haven-area pro-Palestinian Jewish group – New Haven Register

Posted By on July 6, 2022

While her German grandfather was incarcerated at Dachau concentration camp by the Nazis, Ye is half Chinese-American, and that led many to reject her as a Jew.

When I began rabbinical school is when I observed my first Shabbat, is when I observed my first Rosh Hashana, my first Yom Kippur, my first Passover, she said. All of these experiences I had for the very first time as a rabbinical student.

Growing up in Waterville, Maine, in a secular household, Ye, 27, wanted to explore her Jewish roots, but when she asked people if she could join a Sabbath meal or a Rosh Hashana service, I was met with no, I was met with, Youre not Jewish, she said.

To me, I am absolutely Jewish. And Im also half Chinese, which, you know, the Jewish world has feelings about that. But I maintain that Im fully Jewish.

Mending Minyan, a 4-year-old community, is pleased Ye didnt give up. She moved to New Haven three weeks ago to become the groups rabbinical intern, a year before she graduates and is ordained a rabbi.

Ye has been involved for two years with the mostly home-based Mending Minyan, which describes itself on its website as a group of Jews and friends of Jews in/around New Haven who are practicing joy based Jewish ritual decoupled from zionism and in service to building radical Jewish practices in support of struggles against white supremacy, capitalism, and colonization.

You wont find an Israeli flag at this years Rosh Hashana service, which Ye will lead at the Palestine Museum US in Woodbridge. The members dont say Next year in Jerusalem at the end of their Passover Seder.

But they might say, Next year without racism or Next year in fabulous queerness.

Mending Minyan members say they are filling a need for Jews who dont feel welcome in traditional congregations that support Israel but may not support LGBTQ Jews.

When Mikveh Warshaw came to the Yale School of Nursing, I was seeking out connections with other Jews who were non-Zionist, anti-Zionist and diasporic to pray together to do Shabbats. Also queer Jews.

They became connected to Jewish Voice for Peaces Havurah Network, which supports anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian Jewish leadership. At a gathering at the Isabelle Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, she met Ye and Sarah Lipkin, who co-founded Mending Minyan with Warshaw.

Since Ye has been attending school in Pennsylvania, Its been a long relationship-building process from afar, Warshaw said. While other student rabbis have led High Holy Days services, Ye is our first to be a part of us, Warshaw said. Ye also will be a chaplain intern at Yale New Haven Hospitals St. Raphael campus in the fall.

Besides welcoming anyone who feels similarly about Israel/Palestine, Mending Minyan is engaged in racial justice and immigration justice work in the community, Warshaw said. Its also a place where we can really wrestle with what does it mean to be Jewish? How do we pray?

It felt like people were doing that in little pockets, but we just wanted to bring people together to do it more intentionally together and to have joy and to be able to celebrate and complicate what it means to be Jewish, she said.

Lipkin also was raised in a secular home, with a Jewish father and Catholic mother. I have felt very disconnected from both my Jewish ethnic and cultural and religious connections. And I would say that Ive always had that longing of wanting spiritual community, wanting a place to pray and be with people, they said.

Since Ive been young Ive also been engaged in social justice movements, they said. And that feels very connected to my spiritual life and practice, and as I started learning more about whiteness, and sort of its connection to colonization and slavery, I started looking at myself and really wanting to be grounded in my cultures.

Bringing on Ye as a rabbi was not a simple decision, Warshaw said. Weve had a lot of meetings because theres many other people that are part of an admin team and that group had a lot of intentional meetings about what does it mean to bring a rabbi when we describe ourselves as lay-led, she said.

Weve had a lot of different people with different Jewish experience, she said. Weve had some people who are children of rabbis. Weve had some people that have been, this is my first Jewish ritual. And we want to make space for both of those people to be able to feel ownership and engaged in Jewish ritual. So it was big questions.

By Ye felt the same about not wanting to just be the ruler of what is Jewish and this is how you do it, but to be a teacher and to be a supporter of the committee, Warshaw said.

I think thats how itll always work, Ye said. I joined this community knowing that historically it has been a lay-led community and that moving into the future, it should remain a lay-led community. And there are complications with that with me joining as a rabbi with inherent power dynamics.

But I still strive to ensure that all services all programs, all events are planned by the community and led by the community, Ye said.

Weve had new people that come in, and within a few months they lead a Shabbat, Warshaw said. Thats beautiful. Weve been trying to build it in a way where theres scaffolding for people to lead, such as optional prayers.

Ye was well on my way to be a concert pianist but decided to take Hebrew at Middlebury College and saw the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Colleges website.

It strikes me as some sort of maybe social justice-oriented Judaism, she said. I ran upstairs to my parents and I said, Hey, I could be a rabbi. And every single one of us, including myself, laughed, because there was no way that it wasnt a joke. There was no way, you know.

The she saw the college had a Prospective Student Institute, and they would fly me out and put me up and I walked back to my parents and I said, Hey, theres this thing. And we decided, well, we still think this is a joke, but theres nothing to lose, right?

So she went and the first day of the institute was the day Donald Trump was elected president. The school canceled classes. A classmate was crying in the restroom. She thought, Oh, this is an OK place to be who I am.

But she had doubts as a secular, anti-Zionist, Chinese-American Jew. So she called her mentor, Rabbi Brant Rosen of Tzedek Chicago, who encouraged her.

Its kind of miraculous to me that Im about to start my sixth and final year, Ye said.

Lipkin, a co-founder of Mending Minyan, told Ye how much she is welcome in New Haven. There is a huge community of people here who want to be participating in a kind of Judaism that you are bringing to our community, they said. And that doesnt exist in New Haven. Theres nowhere else that you can sort of bring your full self, bring your politics and bring your spirituality in this way, I think. And I think theres like a real longing everywhere, but specifically here. Im just really excited that youre here.

Shelly Altman, a leader in Jewish Voice for Peace in New Haven, said JVP chapters, which are political anti-Zionist groups, have held services. Some of that happens within the chapters themselves, whereas were incredibly lucky enough to have this happening in New Haven as a completely focused spiritual community, he said. There will be more.

Ye and others say that being anti-Zionist is not being antisemitic, though she has been called that.

But Ye is working to build relationships with other rabbis and congregations. I think its important for us to have relationships in the community, she said. And its important for us to have relationships with people who we dont agree with. But events that we co-sponsor we will not be saying the prayer for the State of Israel, and if were co-sponsoring, were going to collaborate and its going to be a safe space for me and my community.

They need to learn from us, Altman said. I feel like the work that Ive been doing with Jewish Voice for Peace for the last nine years, has really been education work. You know, sometimes its out in the streets. Sometimes its bringing Palestinian teenagers here to dance, and having events about Palestinian culture. Its all education.

He said when he writes an op-ed, he sees the same people attacking him personally. Jewish congregations in Connecticut need to learn from what were doing rather than trying to vilify us, Altman said. I think that the way you do that is by building the relationships, even if you dont agree with each other. The vilification has to stop.

Altman became involved in the pro-Palestinian movement when he went to the Middle East with a delegation from Eyewitness Palestine.

As we took a bus from the Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem in the first half-hour that I was there, it just changed my world, changed my life, he said. As an American, as a Jew, I couldnt possibly not take this on as the most important thing in my life. I saw more of the oppressive conditions that exist there and have learned so much more about them in the intervening eight years.

Ye has become well enough known in New Havens social justice arena that she was asked to speak at the rally protesting the Supreme Courts decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Mending Minyan has raised enough money through its GoFundMe page, Help Mending Minyan Reach New Heights, to pay Ye $6,000, matched by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Their total goal is $18,000, which will pay Ye to lead High Holy Days services, as well as the admin team and other expenses.

People find their place in Jewish life for different reasons, said Rosen, Yes mentor in Chicago. For her, its a function of who she is in a very deep way. Its also part of her ethnic and moral sensibility.

Rosen said when Ye joined Tzedek Chicago and then led a High Holy Days service as an intern, it was really the first Yom Kippur service she had ever attended and she was leading it. She took to it very, very powerfully.

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Why young Australian Zionists are backing the pro-Palestinian Greens – Haaretz

Posted By on July 6, 2022

Why young Australian Zionists are backing the pro-Palestinian Greens  Haaretz

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NYC’s Holocaust museum uses personal objects to tell the story of lives lived and lost – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on July 6, 2022

An enamel bowl, on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, was carried through three concentration camps by the Burbea family from Libya, even serving as a vessel to carry their youngest son to his circumcision when he was born in Bergen-Belsen in 1944. (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

By Julia Gergely

(New York Jewish Week) A young childs diary, a favorite doll, a cookbook of family recipes, a report card, a Torah scroll smuggled to the United States and a silver spoon found among the rubble at a concentration camp.

All of these objects are on display in The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do,an expansive new permanent exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan that opened over the holiday weekend. The exhibit emphasizes the individual human stories and the Jewish lives lived before, during and after the Holocaust.

The 12,000-square-foot, two-story exhibit attempts to shed new light on Holocaust education by creating a compelling narrative of the Holocaust, antisemitism, Jewish resistance and perseverance. The exhibit weaves together the individual stories of 750 objects and artifacts, as well as first-person testimonies, photographs and text.

For Judy Baumel-Schwartz, the exhibits curator and Holocaust scholar at Bar-Ilan University, working on the exhibit has been one of the high points of my professional career.

As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, I have always taught my students, through stories and documentation, about what happened, and why it happened, she said in a press release. Here, for the first time, I can actually show peoplehowit happened andto whomit happened through hundreds of objects and graphics.

One such object on display is a white enamel bowl that belonged to the Burbea family who were first sent to theGiado concentration campfor Libyan Jews. They were only allowed to take a few objects with them when they were then deported to the Civitella del Tronto camp in Italy and, from there, sent to Bergen-Belsen in Germany. The bowl stayed with them when their youngest son was born in Bergen-Belsen in 1944, the family used it to carry the boy to the mohel for his circumcision.

Baumel-Schwartz donated the bowl for the museum to use in the exhibit it was given to her more than 40 years ago by the mother of the Burbea family, who had survived. She looked at me and said, Youre starting to teach this for all of us. The bowl had done what it needed to for me. We dont need it anymore. But I want you to take it. I want you to show it to your students and tell our story, Baumel-Schwartz recalled.

A pot belonging to the Farber family, confined to the Vilna Ghetto, whose daughter wasabducted in a childrens action, one of the roundups periodically organized by the Nazis. It is inscribed in Hebrew: In this pot kosher food was cooked in the Vilna ghetto for a girl who was taken to be annihilated. (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

The goal of displaying these types of objects is to animate and intensify the narrative of the Holocaust with first-person stories,said Michael Berenbaum, a Holocaust scholar and advisor on the exhibit. We believe in a story-telling museum, he said, noting that the exhibit draws upon the full name and mission of the museum: Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

For survivor Toby Levy, who, as part of the museums Survivors Speakers Bureau, travels around the city sharing her story, the exhibit is a reminder to bear witness. Though she does not have any personal objects in the exhibit, Levy still commended its power in sharing Holocaust narratives.

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Poland in 1933, Levy and her family went into hiding in 1942, taken in by a non-Jewish friend. She and her eight family members remained in hiding until 1944, and in a displaced persons camp until 1949, when they were able to immigrate to the United States.

Every time I talk about [my story], I relive it, she said. The museum has created this perfect exhibit in a time to teach.

In order to develop a full narrative of the Holocaust, the exhibit first paints a picture of Europes thriving Jewish communities prior to the Nazi rise to power; a vibrant, vital, living community that has no idea that their time is limited, that they are on the brink of destruction, Berenbaum said.

In one section, the exhibit homes in on the month of April 1943, spotlighting several narrative arcs: that month,Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto resisted their captors; Hitler and Nazi collaborators were busy implementing their Final Solution by building crematoria at Auschwitz; Americans and British authorities stood by with empty words and half-hearted actions at the Bermuda Conference.

To provide context for the Holocaust, the exhibit works hard to define who the Jewish people are and how much culture and community was lost all around the world in the Holocausts wake, from Iran and Libya to Greece and Eastern Europe.

Another section connects Nazi antisemitism with antisemitic campaigns throughout history, including the Crusades, the Inquisition and Russian pogroms. In other sections, Nazi propaganda andantisemitic caricaturesare on display to showcase the obsessive and insidious quality of Nazi antisemitism.

At a press conference at the Museum of Jewish Heritage launching its new permanent exhibit are, left to right, exhibition designer Paul Salmons, consultant Michael Berenbaum, museum chairman Bruce Ratner, Holocaust survivor Toby Levy and museum president and CEO Jack Kliger, June 30, 2022. (Julia Gergely)

The exhibits title, What Hate Can Do, invites the viewer to consider the manifestations of hatred in todays world, and how devastating the effects can be if they are not combated.

What we have seen over the last five or six years is something that I, and all of us, thought we would never see again whether it bewar in Ukraine, whether it be refugee camps, whether it be mass murders or genocides, we always thought never again, and now were seeing it, Bruce Ratner, the chairman of the museums board of trustees, said at a press conference previewing the exhibit. Unfortunately the Holocaust is a yardstick against which all of todays events are measured, but it makes the purpose of the museum to tell the story all the more important.

The remembrance of the past was meant to transform the future, said Berenbaum. Tragically, we live in a world in which this has taken on greater urgency in our day, in our time, in the very months in which we were putting this exhibition together.

Resistance has taken on new meaning, immigration has taken on new meaning, invasion has taken on new meaning, and human solidarity in the wake of evil has taken on new meaning, he added.

The exhibit is accompanied by a narrative audio guide available on the Bloomberg Connects app, which is available for free to remote listeners.Ticket information and visiting hours are available at the museums website.

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NYC's Holocaust museum uses personal objects to tell the story of lives lived and lost - Jewish Exponent

Where to See Art in Philly This Summer – Philadelphia magazine

Posted By on July 6, 2022


From grand celebrations of movement forefathers to up-and-comer shows to puppets, heres what to see at the citys galleries and museums this summer. (Plus, a sneak peek for fall.)

Jayson Musson, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, His History of Art, 2022 / Photograph by Carlos Avendao.

Philly is known for its plethora of inspiring murals and public art. But its a destination for great art programming on the gallery walls as well, beyond just the PMA. (Though, theydo have some exciting stuff coming this fall, too.)

Wild/Mild: Vox Populis 17thAnnual Juried ExhibitionThrough July 10th

This year, the contemporary gallery and artist collectives juried exhibition explores both unremarkable and unhinged moments from the last two years. From hundreds of applicants, 19 selected artists of various forms practicing in and around the city present two different rooms of paintings, prints, sculptures that consider what its like to live in extremes.Vox Populi, 319 North 11th Street #3

A Brand New End: Survival and Its PicturesThrough July 16th

This exhibition is just one piece in a five-component undertaking by multimedia mastermind Carmen Winant, to investigate how images and self-representation intersect with domestic violence and feminism. The genre-bender and intense researcher uses imagery from the archives of Women in Transition and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for many of the new pieces in the centers galleries. And if youre a fan, keep an eye out for Winants book including materials from the showcase, coming this fall.The Print Center, 1614 Latimer Street

Keith Haring: A Radiant LegacyThrough July 31st

Born in Reading and raised in Kutztown, the instantly recognizable style of Keith Haring is one of the most prominent of the AIDS crisis and the 80s at large. Until the end of the month, this exhibition will contain over 100 colorful works produced during his brief career in uniting NYC street art and queer counterculture with art aristocracy.Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown

Derrick Adams: SanctuaryThrough August 28th

Multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams brings a reimagination of the Green Book, a series of Jim Crow era travel guides for Black motorists, to the African American Museum. Inspired by the life of the texts creator, Victor Hugo Green, the exhibit will contain over 50 works by Adams that bring to life the archive of sanctuaries from Greens directories.African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street

Pool: A History of SegregationThrough August 30th

For the past 20 years, Black children have had a higher rate of accidental drowning than white children by 50 percent an undeniable result of racially discriminatory public pools. This free show at Fairmount Water Works delves into the ties between water and social issues through photography, murals, rarely seen archival footage and an animated film from recent Pulitzer Prize winner James Ijames.Fairmount Water Works, 640 Waterworks Drive

Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in AmericaThrough September 5th

If youre seeking art for arts sake rather than the more stiff collar stuff, this is it. The over 50-piece exhibition pays tribute to post-WWI artists who crossed boundaries and rose in prominence without formal training, such as West Chester-born Horace Pippin and Anna Mary Robertson Grandma Moses.Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford

Installation view from the entrance of the Weitzman / Photograph by Robert Hakalski

The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition By Johnathan HorowitzThrough December

Curated by artist Johnathan Horowitz, this collaboration with the Lowell Milken Center at UCLA will supplement the Weitzmans existing collection of pieces interpreting over 360 years of Jewish life. Alongside a series of installations from Horowitzs own sociopolitically probing body of work, the exhibition includes contributions from big names like Jenny Holzer, Adrian Piper and art-rock legend, Kim Gordon.Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall East

Sunny Days & Lonely NightsJuly 8th, 6-9 p.m.

The Corridor Contemporarys three floor gallery contains work from the likes of Warhol, KAWS, and coming this Friday night, Bronx-born painter Anthony Rondinone. Stop by this Fishtown solo exhibition for pieces reminiscent of a less gruesome, pop-culturally aware Francis Bacon.Corridor Contemporary,1315 Frankford Ave

Women In Motion: 150 Years of Womens Artistic Networks at PAFAJuly 9th to 24th

Once upon a time, Cecelia Beaux, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts first full-time female painting professor, hoped for the day that the work of women in art would be as normal as commonplace as men in art. This month, the exhibition will introduce viewers to the artist networks created among women like Beaux, her peers like the acclaimed Mary Cassatt, and more who produced work at the academy.Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 118-128 North Broad Street

Jayson Musson: His History of ArtJuly 22nd to November 13th

Going to the art museum doesnt have to be a humorless, no-nonsense trudge down silent, ice-cold hallways. Yes, art can be fun. Funny, even. In the early 2010s, UArts and UPenn grad Jayson Musson made a name wittily criticizing elitism of the art world through his YouTube series ART THOUGHTZ. Coming later this month, Musson turns it up to 11 and takes aim at the fields male domination issues with an exhibition featuring costuming, props, puppetry and inspiration from nun-turned-BBC-art-critic Sister Wendy Beckett. A selection of workshops and lectures with Musson will also be available at the museum throughout the fall.The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch Street

nkwiluntmn: I long for it; I am lonesome for it (such as the sound of a drum)October 8th to October, 2023

From the curators of 2019s holographic Ghost Ship exhibition by the riverfront, comes a new immersive installation to Pennsbury Manor. Opening on Indigenous Peoples Day weekend, multidisciplinary artist and recipient of a Pew Center for Arts & Heritage grant, Nathan Young will transform the historical sight into a meditative space to consider colonialism, Indigenous agency, and the artists own connection to his ancestral Lenape homeland. The experience will feature original music, personal narrative and environmental recordings.Pennsbury Manor, 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville

Matisse in the 1930sOctober 20th to January 29, 2023

The largest collection of the famed father of fauvism is making its first stop in Philly, where Matisse visited during a pivotal decade in his career. This vast, multi-room collaboration with the Muse de lOrangerie and the Muse Matisse Nice will explore this period in the 1930s, displaying over 100 items from his most renown works to seldom seen paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and a documentary film.Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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Where to See Art in Philly This Summer - Philadelphia magazine

DNI Haines Welcomes 15 New Americans at Town of Vienna Naturalization Ceremony – Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Posted By on July 6, 2022

DNI Haines Welcomes 15 New Americans at Town of Vienna Naturalization Ceremony

Story and photos by Annika Moody, ODNI Office of Strategic Communications

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines welcomed new U.S. citizens as they took the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in Vienna, Virginia, July 2.

To our newest citizens, congratulations on reaching this final step in the naturalization process. I suspect you'll remember this occasion for the rest of your lives, and I am truly honored to be among those here to witness it and to celebrate you joining us as fellow Americans," said Haines. "And a community center, frankly, strikes me as the perfect setting for this ceremony as you are truly joining our community--and no better place to do so than in the state of Virginia where Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, lived--and on the very weekend that we celebrate the 246th anniversary of its adoption."

The event was held by the Town of Vienna in conjunction with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as a part of Viennas Liberty Amendments Month.

Started last year, Liberty Amendments Month is celebrated from Juneteenth to July 19 as a way to bring together the greater Vienna community and celebrate its rich and diverse heritage. Each week focuses on one of the Constitutional amendments that extend rights and liberties to U.S. citizens who originally were excluded from the Constitution.

This event celebrated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and welcomed 15 new citizens from 15 countries including Afghanistan, Bolivia, Canada, El Salvador, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam.

In Haines' keynote address, she shared her family's immigration history. Her paternal grandmother, who was Episcopalian, moved to the U.S. from the Isle of Man; and her maternal grandparents were Jewish and arrived in New York City from Russia in the early 1900s. "They were enthralled by a government that vest power in the people and that understood that the Constitution to which you've now sworn allegiance confers both rights and duties to those who are bound by it."

Holding American flags and with family and friends in attendance, the candidates reflected on their stories as Haines continued.

"I'd love to hear about the path that brought each of you to this moment as I'm certain every one of you have an incredible story to tell, and--as of today--your story is now a part of our story," said Haines.

In a press release, Vienna Parks and Recreation event coordinator, Lily Widman, spoke about how inspiring it is to see people reach the conclusion of the long process in becoming a U.S. citizen and how happy she was to coordinate this ceremony.

Im so glad we were able to coordinate this event and time it for Liberty Amendments Month, said Widman. Through this ceremony, we get to be a witness to history as people take the same Oath of Allegiance that has been administered for generations. It also gives us a chance to reflect on what makes our country so special.

As USCIS holds more than 120 naturalization ceremonies all across the U.S. welcoming over 9,000 new citizens, we are reminded this Fourth of July that America was founded as a nation of immigrants, and through our diversity we find our greatest strength.

Congratulations to each of you, my fellow citizens, and Happy Independence Day, Haines concluded.

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DNI Haines Welcomes 15 New Americans at Town of Vienna Naturalization Ceremony - Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Yom Kippur: History & Overview – Jewish Virtual Library

Posted By on July 4, 2022


Yom Kippur is one of the most important holidays of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri.

The name Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement, and it is a day set aside to afflict the soul, to atone for the sins of the past year. During the Days of Awe, God inscribes all of our names in either the book of life or death. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed.

Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, some religious Jews practice a ritual known asKapparah ().

Yom Kippur is a Sabbathday; no work can be performed on the day of Yom Kippur. During the holiday Jews fast for approximately 24hours, from sundown to sundown. In addition to dietary restrictions, he Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and/or a rabbi for advice.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. More religious people then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.

The origins of Yom Kippur are unclear. It is not mentioned in the list of holidays to be observed when the Temple destroyed by the Babylonians was rebuilt. Zecharia omits Yom Kippur from the fast days Jews are to follow after their return from captivity, and Ezra says nothing about it in his instructions on preparing for Sukkot.

Elon Gilad argues that the biblical references to the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11 and Leviticus 16:1-34; 23:26-32) were inserted by priests during the Second Temple period to validate new rites added to purify the Temple in advance of Sukkot. He also posits that Yom Kippur may have been inspired by Akitu, a Babylonian festival marking the beginning of the new year, which has several similarities to the Jewish holiday.

The fifth day of Akitu was the only day the king entered the sanctuary of the Babylonian temple. Similarly, the Day of Atonement was the only time the high priest of the Israelites would enter the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant was kept). The Babylonian king would tell his deity that he had not sinned; by contrast, the Jewish priest would confess the sins of the Israelites over the head of a live goat. The animal would then be sent away into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21). This type of ritual performed by Jews and others gave rise to the term scapegoat.

Fasting is the practice most associated with Yom Kippur, but the Bible does not explicitly call for Jews to refrain from eating or drinking. The phrase ye shall afflict your souls is used, which is interpreted to mean fasting because that is the meaning elsewhere.

Yom Kippur has its own candlelighting blessing. If the holiay coincides with Shabbat, the words in parentheses are added:

After the candles are lit, the Shehecheyanu prayer is recited.

The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. Kol nidre means all vows, and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d, such as If I pass this test, I'll pray every day for the next 6 months!

This prayer has often been held up by anti-Semites as proof that Jews are untrustworthy (we do not keep our vows), and for this reason the Reform movement removed it from the liturgy, but it was eventually reinstated. In fact, the reverse is true: we make this prayer because we take vows so seriously that we consider ourselves bound even if we make the vows under duress or in times of stress. This prayer gave comfort to those who were converted to Christianity by torture in various inquisitions, yet felt unable to break their vow to follow Christianity. In recognition of this history, the Reform movement restored this prayer to its liturgy.

There are many additions to the regular liturgy. Perhaps the most important addition is the confession of the sins of the community, which is inserted into the Shemoneh Esrei (Amidah) prayer. Note that all sins are confessed in the plural (we have done this, we have done that), emphasizing communal responsibility for sins.

There are two basic parts of this confession: Ashamnu, a shorter, more general list (we have been treasonable, we have been aggressive, we have been slanderous...), and Al Chet, a longer and more specific list (for the sin we sinned before you forcibly or willingly, and for the sin we sinned before you by acting callously...) Frequent petitions for forgiveness are interspersed in these prayers. There's also a catch-all confession: Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us.

It is interesting to note that these confessions do not specifically address the kinds of ritual sins that some people think are the be-all-and-end-all of Judaism. There is no for the sin we have sinned before you by eating pork, and for the sin we have sinned against you by driving on Shabbat (though obviously these are implicitly included in the catch-all). The vast majority of the sins enumerated involve mistreatment of other people, most of them by speech (offensive speech, scoffing, slander, talebearing, and swearing falsely, to name a few). These all come into the category of sin known as lashon ha-ra (lit: the evil tongue), which is considered a very serious sin in Judaism.

The concluding service of Yom Kippur, known as Ne'ilah, is one unique to the day. It usually runs about 1 hour long. The ark (a cabinet where the scrolls of the Torah are kept) is kept open throughout this service, thus you must stand throughout the service. There is a tone of desperation in the prayers of this service. The service is sometimes referred to as the closing of the gates; think of it as the last chance to get in a good word before the holiday ends. The service ends with a very long blast of the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

After Yom Kippur, one should begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, which begins five days later.

Sources: Judaism 101;Kapparot, Wikipedia;Elon Gilad, The Obscure Origins of Yom Kippur, Haaretz, (September 30, 2014).

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Yom Kippur: History & Overview - Jewish Virtual Library

The rise of the anti-Zionist Jews and heretical messianism –

Posted By on July 4, 2022

(July 4, 2022 / JNS) Anyone involved in the discourse on Israel and Zionism is aware of the fact that the words as a Jew always presage something distinctly monstrous. As a Jew is inevitably followed by ferocious denunciations of Israel, Zionism, the Israel lobby, the pro-Israel American Jewish majority and more or less everything elseexcept, of course, for hardline Palestinian nationalists, left-wing anti-Semites and Muslim pogromists.

It would be a mistake, however, to see anti-Zionist Jews as wholly alien to us. They are, in fact, part of our historical legacy and a phenomenon that has recurred throughout the history of the Diaspora: that of radical Jewish messianism.

Messianism is, of course, fundamental to Jewish belief, and is not by definition a bad thing. At its best, it can be what philosopher Eric Hoffer called a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the deadan instrument of resurrection. Indeed, even secular Zionists are Messianists to one degree or another. In its radical form, however, Jewish messianism has remarkable destructive potential.

Radical messianism, generally speaking, has followed a consistent pattern over the centuries, and usually occurs in four stages. The formulation that follows is my own, but it stands on the formidable shoulders of the great scholar of the Kabbalah Gershom Scholem, particularly his book The Messianic Idea in Judaism.

Antinomianism: After declaring the arrival or imminent arrival of the messianic age, the Messianists assert that Jewish tradition and law have been superseded, transformed or completely vitiated, and often engage in behavior that directly challenges Jewish norms. The most famous example is the 17th century movement surrounding the false messiah Sabbatai Zevi.

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Spiritualization: As part of this rejection of the law, Messianists spiritualize it. The rabbinic tradition is rejected as too much of this world to wield practical authority in the next, and is declared to be, at best, an expression of spiritual truths. Practice, in effect, becomes faith.

Heresy: Antinomianism and spiritualization inevitably lead to outright heresy. For example, the person of the messianic claimant is often declared Divine, contrary to Jewish prohibitions on idolatry. The ultimate result is usually a complete break from Judaism itself through conversion or even the founding of a separate religionthe most obvious example being Christianity.

Retaliation: Having split from Judaism, the now independent Messianists turn on it, denounce and demonize their former brethren and often incite or commit acts of considerable violence. The long history of Christian anti-Semitism is the best-known example, but cults like the 18th century Frankistswho aided in a blood libel case after abandoning Judaism en massehave also followed this pattern.

In the case of the anti-Zionist Jews, we are seeing this process repeat itself. First, the anti-Zionist Jews are proudly antinomian. They reject, in whole or in part, the moral consensus of the Jewish peoplewhich is, whether the anti-Zionist Jews like it or not, profoundly Zionist. Indeed, if it were not, the anti-Zionist Jews would have no reason to exist, given that they base their entire identity on violating that particular norm.

Spiritualization is most notable in phenomena like the use of the term Tikkun Olam by radical Jewish activists, but it is by no means confined to them. All anti-Zionist Jews employ Jewish terminology and concepts, but abstract them out so that they stand in for transcendental concepts like justice, rights, liberation or resistance. Traditional Jewish practice is, in effect, superseded by pure thought.

The question of heresy is more difficult, in that most anti-Zionist Jews are not religious in the formal sense. However, out of their antinomianism, they are creating something like a heretical faith. Being an anti-Zionist Jew is taking on a systemic form that defines personal and spiritual identity much as formal religion does. In effect, the anti-Zionist Jews undergo a conversion, though in a distinctly secular age, formal conversion is no longer necessary. Political submission is all that is required.

The issue of retaliation is so obvious as to go without saying. If anything defines the anti-Zionist Jews, it is their remarkably hateful and poisonous rhetoric. To them, the Jewish people are a force for pure evil. As a result, they accuse us of all possible sins: racism, genocide, settler-colonialism, political and financial corruption and undue influence, control of the media and the public discourse and so on.

Moreover, the intention behind their discursive venom is obvious: not just to defame the Jews, but to break them. This is, in fact, the ultimate essence of their ideology. They know that they cannot break Israel without also breaking the Jews, and this, they hope, will be their ultimate vengeance.

In quite another context, Scholem wrote: Whether or not Jewish history will be able to endure this entry into the concrete realm without perishing in the crisis of the Messianic claim which has virtually been conjured upthat is the question which out of his great and dangerous past the Jew of this age poses to his present and to his future.

In an age in which, to some degree, Jewish redemption and Jewish destiny have been realized in Zionism and the State of Israel, we must also ask this question. But if anything is certain, it is thateven though they are part of a long and often dark tradition that is nonetheless oursthe anti-Zionist Jews have already perished in the crisis of the messianic claim. It is incumbent upon the rest of us, who have made the choice to stand firm in our sense of redemption and destiny, to see that we endure it and them.

Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor living in Tel Aviv. Read more of his writing on Substack and his website. Follow him on Twitter @benj_kerstein.

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