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How Jewish Women Fought the Nazis – DW (English)

Posted By on August 3, 2021

It is a short day in February 1943. Winter has a cold grip on the Jewish ghetto in Bedzin, a city in Poland occupied by Nazi Germany.Amid overcrowded houses stands a special building:the heart of the Jewish youth organisation Freiheit(English: freedom)- and the headquarters of Jewish resistance against the Nazis.

On this day, women and men have come together in this building to make a momentous decision. They were able to obtain documents that will permit them to smuggle some of them out of the occupied territories. Should their leader, the Jewish-Polish woman Frumka Plotnicka, use these papers to travel to Den Haag and represent the Jewish people before the International Criminal Court?

All eyes turn to Frumka. "No,"she says. "If we must die, then let us die together. But let us strive for a heroic death."

There is a young woman in the same room: Renia Kukielka. Together, these women will go on to become the face of female Jewish resistance to the Hitler regime in occupied Poland.

This is how the historical events of that night are portrayed by historian Judy Batalion in her book The Light of Days. The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos. Over the course of ten years, Batalion has recovered and analysed countless eyewitness reports, memoires, legacies and archival documents, she has talked to survivors of the Shoah and their children and grandchildren all over the world.

Through this painstaking work, she has managed to reconstruct a history that had been lost for decades,in fact, never been properly told: how Jewish women resisted the Nazi occupation in Poland. With tenacity, courage, and sometimes violence.

Batalion, who is the granddaughter of a Polish-Jewish survivor of the Shoah, lives in New Yorkbut discovered the untold stories of these women at theBritish Library in London. When looking through a number of historical documents, she chanced upon a copy of the Jiddish book Freuen in di Ghettos (English: women in the ghettos). She was expecting another "boring" elegy on female strength and courage. What she found instead were"women, sabotage, firearms, camouflage, dynamite."

The ten years of subsequent research and writing produced remarkable results: A great number of Jewish women were actively resisting the Nazis in occupied Poland, in all senses of the word, fromghettos in Bdzinto Warsaw. They smuggled weapons, sabotaged the German railway and exploded major TNT charges. Frumka Plotnicka died in combat against the Nazis, Renia Kukielka and numerous other women acted as "messengers."Constantly risking their lives, they used their "non-Jewish" appearance to transport people, money, information, munition and firearms in and out of the ghettos.

"The Pianist" by director Roman Polanski tells a poignant story of Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived life in the Warsaw Ghetto thanks to the help of a German officer. He is portrayed by Adrien Brody in the movie. The Ghetto Uprising serves as a turning point in the narrative. Polanski's own mother died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The filming of "The Pianist" took place in Berlin at the Babelsberg studios. Roman Polanski had the set created using a historical template that reconstructed the look of the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Nazis had rounded up and interned the Jewish inhabitants of the city. Polanski similarly experienced this as a child, but in the Krakow Ghetto.

In this documentary about the life of the French-Polish filmmaker, "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir," directed by Laurent Bouzereau, Polanski divulges his life's story in highly personal interviews with his friend, producer Andrew Braunsberg. In it, he speaks of life as a young child in the Krakow Ghetto and his mother's deportation to Auschwitz.

Janusz Korczak was a doctor and the director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, who was transferred to the ghetto in 1940. When the SS evacuated the ghetto in 1942, soldiers drove 200 orphans to the station for deportation; Korczak refused to leave them and boarded the train to the extermination camp Treblinka with his children. In "Korczak," Andrzej Wajda (above) re-staged the dramatic story.

Written by Jewish writer Jurek Becker, the book "Jacob the Liar" was made into a tragi-comic film by director Frank Beyer. In it, he gave a face to the victims of the persecution of the Jews in Poland. Jacob was played by the Czechoslovakian playwright Vlastimil Brodsky (above). The film takes place in 1944, in a ghetto in Poland, shortly before its liberation by the Red Army.

German director Pepe Danquart turned the novel "Run, Boy, Run" into a historical political drama. The film follows Srulik, a small Jewish boy, who has managed to flee the Warsaw Ghetto just in time. To escape the Nazis and the guards, the nine-year-old flees into the nearby forest, where he has to learn to be on his own and survive in the wild.

The life story of literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a Jew in Poland who was deported at the age of 18, was filmed in 2009 by the director Dror Zahavi for television. Together with his wife Teofila, Reich-Ranicki barely survived the Warsaw Ghetto. The young Marcel is played by actor Matthias Schweighfer and Katharina Schttler (right) portrays his wife, Teofila.

Author: Heike Mund (ct)

Other women fled the cities and joined guerillas in the forests, or foreign resistance groups. They built rescue networks to help other Jews to hide or flee and engaged in"moral, spiritual and cultural resistance."

One such example of cultural resistance is provided by Batalion through the biography ofHenia Reinhartz, a young woman in the ghetto of d. Together with other women, she rescued stacks of Jiddish books from the library in the city and smuggled them into the ghetto. "It was an underground library,"she wrote down herself many years later.

Reading was a way to escape into "another world,"a "normal life in a normal world, not one like ours that is all about fear and hunger." Poignantly, Batalion adds,Henia was reading the US-American novel Gone with the Windwhile hiding to escape deportation.

Judy Batalion too seeks to use culture and literature to reinvigorate the memory of the Jewish women resistance fighters. Her book is an achievement:as rigorous as it is gripping. With great acument and firm narrative instincts, she recovers an important part of history that has, for too long, been ignored.

The German translation of the book is published in August 2021 and comes at a time of ongoing debates about how to keep the memory of the Shoah alive as eyewitnesses grow increasingly older and pass away. The translator Maria Zettner underlines how important it is that this history is told in particularly in Germany in a telephone interview with the DW: "While I was translating the book and reading about what the Germans had done to these Jewish women, I felt a great sense of shame. We have a responsibility as Germans to ensure that these memories are not forgotten, that they are passed on to the next generation. We have a responsibility to do all we can so that something like this will never happen again."

The German cover of "The Light of Days" features a quote from the book: "Never say there is only death for us"

In this case, two stories were repressed, as Judy Batalion points out to the DW in a video interview."The first is the story of Jewish resistance in general, in particular in Poland,that is talked about so little," she explains from her flat in New York. "And the second is the experience of women in the Holocaust, which has been addressed more and more in recent years, but certainly not before that."

The historian observes a great hunger for these stories at the current moment: "It is the place where we arein our feminist trajectory, in the history of feminism." When she talks to friends and colleagues, she says her impression is that "we are so excited to learn about these legacies, that we come from this. It is so deeply exciting for women to know that that's what our foremothers did. Women are achieving so much right now."

That she is a woman figured greatly in the genesis of the book, she tells the DW:"I am a historian, I am a woman. There havent been many generations of me." She goes on to explain:My editor is a woman, the editor who commissioned this project, who paid for it, is a woman, my agent is a woman. I am able to do this work because of other women who paid me and supported me professionally to carry out this type of work. Twenty-five years ago, I dont know how many women historians would be pitching to women agents and women editors who would have been supportive."

The hard work of so many women has paid off: The Light of Days is already a New York Times and international bestseller, Steven Spielberg has optioned the film rights, there is interest from documentary filmmakers and playwrights. This is a visible source of pleasure to Batalion, but the historian remains humble in her conversation with the DW:"I just hope this story gets told to as wide an audience as possible."

What does it meanto her to have written the book? The question gives Batalion pause, who has so far been a quick conversationalist, having more to say than could possibly be fitted into a thirty-minute interview. She looks away. A silence ensues. "It just felt like something I had to do,"she finally says. There is a clear sense of what she is thinking: That this isn't about her."I feel grateful to Reniafor leaving such detailed accounts that enabled me to tell the story. I simply did what I felt I had to do."

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How Jewish Women Fought the Nazis - DW (English)

As Lukashenko ramps up antisemitism, will Putin save the last Jews of Belarus? – Haaretz

Posted By on August 3, 2021

Belarus Independence Day is celebrated on July 3rd, commemorating the Soviet army's liberation of the city of Minsk from the Nazis in 1944. This year, the countrys dictatorial leader, Alexander Lukashenko, used the official ceremonies to platform antisemitism.

He declared that, in contrast to the "tolerant" and "kind" people of Belarus, which allows the world to "spit in their faces" regarding the "holocaust of Belurusians," no one today would "dare to raise a voice and deny the Holocaust" because "the Jews have succeeded in making the whole world bow down to them."

Belarus State-linked Media Suggests Jewish Organizations Are Disloyal|Media Empire Heiress Fights Back Against Lukashenko From Tel Aviv

The Israeli Foreign Ministry denounced his "unacceptable" comments and summoned the Belarusian charg daffaires in Israel to discuss them. However, this did not stop Lukashenkos regime from doubling down on the good old recipe of an international Jewish conspiracy.

Just weeks later, the government-controlled media Belarus Today accused Belarusian Jewish groups, and individual Jewish leaders, of deliberate attempts to destabilize the Belarusian state aided by Jewish funders from abroad, including, inevitably, George Soros.

The trigger was an absurd accusation that the Jewish community was consciously, and nefariously, choosing red and white brickwork and concrete for the design of the paths leading up to Holocaust memorials. Those are the colors adopted by the opposition to Lukashenko, in reference to the original flag of independent Belarus. Even the briefest glimpse at the range of Holocaust memorials to the 800,000 murdered Jews of Belarus featured in the community's recent ceremonies shows the emptiness of the claim.

The article directly pointed at Jewish organizations existing "mainly on foreign grants," noted as "interesting" that one of the groups to which the Jewish community's umbrella organization is affiliated was "based in Washington," and listed the names of several Belarusian Jews who had added the white-red-white flag to their social media profile pictures.

Given the history of Jews in the country, this recent antisemitic turn amidst sustained repression against all forms of political opposition warrants attention.

Before the Second World War, up to one million Jews lived on the territory of what now constitutes modern-day Belarus, out of a total population of nine million. Belarus was then one of the principal centers of Jewish life in Europe, if not the world, in the religious, cultural and political realms.

The 'father' of Yiddish literature, Mendele Mokher Sfarim, the artist Marc Chagall, historian Simon Dubnov as well as future Israeli leaders Chaim Weitzmann, Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir all called pre-war Belarus home, illustrating the depth and breadth of this community.

Between 1941 and 1944, up to 80 percent of the community's members were exterminated: 40 percent of them by the German Nazi Einsatzgruppen, while the other half were killed by local pogroms or died of starvation or disease in ghettos.

By 1944, only 9 Jews could recall what was Jewish life like before the war in Brest-Litovsk a city that was once nearly 70 percent Jewish.

After the physical annihilation came the war on memory, and in this battle, the perpetrators were not the Nazis but the Soviets. Public discussion of the "particularist" extermination of the Jews and the testimony of the survivors was rapidly silenced, becoming a taboo subject.

The targeted death of millions of Jews as Jews did not fit in the official narrative revolving around the heroism of partisans and Soviet forces, the tremendous losses fighting fascism and the suffering of the population as a whole.

On monuments erected to the memory of generalized victims of fascism, Jews fell under the overarching label of "peaceful inhabitants" or "Soviet citizens," while the last vestiges of Jewish life were erased. In Brest-Litovsk, a stadium was built over an old Jewish cemetery and the citys main synagogue was turned into a cinema.

It is only after Belarus won independence in 1991 of that Belarusian Jews were able to engage with the memory of the Shoah. With the help of private Jewish funds, they began erecting the first monuments to the memory of Belarussian Jews as victims of the Final Solution. The relative opening of Belarus to the West, starting in the 2010s, and the gradual easing of entry regulations in the country, also facilitated the emergence of memorial and heritage tourism to Belarus by Israeli and American Jews.

This memorial tourism came to a halt in summer 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic was not to blame. Public discontent and protests had intensified in the wake of the August presidential election, widely considered rigged, notably because of Lukashenkos dismissive response to the coronavirus, which he initially dismissed as a "mass psychosis" and then recommended treating by "drinking vodka," playing hockey or driving tractors.

But the pandemic was later useful as an excuse to unleash brutal repression. This year, he effectively closed the country's borders, and shut down internet access, leading to the departure of firms such as the Israeli-founded Viber from Minsk's high-tech park. The strongman accused, variously, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania or NATO of posing an existential threat to the Belarusian nation to legitimate the escalation of his authoritarianism.

When Lukashenko ordered a Ryanair flight be coerced into landing in Minsk, in order to arrest a prominent dissident, he was sending a clear threat to critics of the regime: Both inside and outside of Belarus, they were not safe.

The fear wrought by Lukashenko's violent campaign of intimidation has been keenly felt by the Jewish community. Some members of the Jewish community were already wary of engaging in pro-democracy protests for fear that the regime would single them out as yet another 'foreign' threat.

Sam Kliger, head of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, notes the weight of this fear: "It is better for the [well-being of the] Jews of Belarus to remain loyal to the authorities."

The denunciation of Lukashenko's "repeated" antisemitic language by exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, after a meeting with Kliger, may establish a clear red line between the regime and the opposition, but it's unlikely to cushion Belarus' Jews from retaliation and further accusations of being fifth columnists.

The same concern about the well-being of Belarus' Jews seems to be motivating, and modifying, Israel's official behavior. According to an Israeli government official justifying the decision of then-Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to congratulate Lukashenko on Belarus Independence Day, "Israel shows sensitivity to the well-being of the Jewish community in Belarus and therefore prefers not to confront the Lukashenko administration."

Despite Israel adopting this pragmatic stance, it may be that Lukashenko will not respond to such prudence, just as he has batted away Western sanctions. His regime is in need of yet more domestic and external enemies to legitimize his hard-handed rule, having effectively suppressed all the country's independent media and NGOs - and Jews fit the bill.

Strangely enough, the most powerful potential brakes on Lukashenko unleashing antisemitism as a weapon could be his ultra-supportive neighbor and fellow authoritarian, Vladimir Putin.

Despite his instrumentalization of what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War to assert moral superiority over the West, since the 2000s, Putin has largely has adopted a positive stance towards Russian Jews, leading to a certain, controlled revival of the countrys Jewish life as long as they don't dissent.

The leaders of Russia and Belarus have serially learned from one another strategies and tactics to repress criticism of their rule. It is a painful irony that the safety of the Belarusian Jewish community, numbering barely 10,000 people, and the continued activity of the organizations that have tried over the years to keep alive the historical memory of the countrys once vigorous Jewish presence, may lie in the leverage Putin has over Lukashenko.

Miln Czerny is a graduate student in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford. Twitter: @milanczerny

Boris Czerny is a professor at the University of Caen, Normandy, and a specialist in Jewish culture in the states of the former USSR

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As Lukashenko ramps up antisemitism, will Putin save the last Jews of Belarus? - Haaretz

A Terrain Gardens Wedding With Quaker, Jewish and Muslim Traditions – Philadelphia magazine

Posted By on August 3, 2021


They met at work, then got engaged during an underwater scuba-diving experience.

Wasna Dabbagh and Paul Bookmans Terrain Gardens wedding combined Quaker, Jewish and Muslim cultures. Photography by We Laugh We Love

When two people come together in marriage, they often blend different cultures, practices and backgrounds, and Philly couples set the bar on how to pull it off. One Philly couple incorporated both Vietnamese and Ghanaian traditions, while another included a Chinese lion dance, among many others. Here, this duo melded both Jewish and Muslim practices in their Quaker ceremony. Their Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard wedding was photographed by We Laugh We Love, and you can see how they made it happen below.

Baghdad-born Wasna Dabbagh and Dumont native Paul Bookman met at the dentists office specifically, at Bryn Mawr Dental Associates, which he owns. Wasna had accepted a temporary position as a dental assistant at the office prior to entering the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, which she needed to attend before being able to practice in the United States. You see, she was was also a dentist in her home country of Iraq, which she fled in 2008.

Her first impression: My boss is hot. His: I was completely mesmerized by her smile, beauty, intelligence, and off-the-chart upbeat attitude despite growing up during and being directly affected by the war. And their unofficial first date: dinner at a restaurant near Scranton where they were both taking a continuing education course (in dentistry, natch).

They dated for four years before Paul, an avid scuba diver, asked for her hand underwater. (He made sure early in their relationship that Wasna was certified so she could go with him.) If that wasnt enough, it was a dive with sharks. Twelve of them. After about 30 minutes below the surface, Paul knelt on the ocean floor and waved Wasna over; she eventually came to him thinking sharks were on her tail. (Wouldnt you?) He then pulled up the sleeve of his wetsuit, took a small satin bag out and unzipped it to reveal the engagement ring, which he placed on her finger. She gave him a thumbs-up followed by a verbal yes back on dry land.

The couple was engaged for nine months before getting hitched at Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard in 2019. (But first they took a weeklong pre-moon to unwind on the island of Bonaire, where they went scuba diving and chilled on the beach.) Their three-day bash combined both their Jewish and Muslim cultures. Because it was a second marriage for both of them, they did not want to have a large bridal party. Their initial plan was to have both a rabbi and an imam present to perform the ceremony. They later decided theyd have Wasnas two sisters and Pauls brother and sister officiate and get ordained online, but then they discovered the self-uniting license. Having our siblings take part in the ceremony was special, and they did an amazing job of bringing meaningful traditions together, says Paul of his favorite detail. Among the practices was the mahar sofreh, part of an Iraqi wedding that represents elements and blessings for the couples new life together.

Wasna and Paul made up their own vows on the spot. Theyd initially planned not to say anything but a few minutes before the ceremony they decided to wing it. The words were very short and sweet, but as we stared into each others eyes, we knew there really was no need to speak, they say.

The biggest surprise? The couple had deemed one of their three dogs, Tito (named for their favorite vodka), the ring bearer. He was a champ while walking in with Wasna and during the ceremony until he decided to take a stroll away from the festivities. When it was time to exchange rings, he was nowhere in sight. Tito was eventually found in the bridal suite getting belly rubs from the staff.

Overall the celebration was filled with plenty of laughter, fun and love and the laidback, shabby-chic design leaned into that. There was cozy outdoor seating with couches, a fire pit and plenty of casual food. Appetizers included harvest cheese and spiced tagine displays as well as hot chicken and doughnuts and avocado toast, among other nibbles. Dinner was served family-style, and guests enjoyed the selection of chateaubriand, sea bass and garden pesto pasta. For a late-night treat: an outdoor smores station.

Like the ceremony, the reception beautifully melded Wasnas and Pauls cultures, and it was among the brides most treasured memories. It was absolutely amazing to see all of our friends and family appreciate and respect our backgrounds, she says. The reception began with a traditional Middle Eastern dabka band in full dress. When they were finished, the DJ played a Jewish hora. Seeing the way people from both cultures embraced each other during these dances was truly heartwarming.

THE DETAILSPhotographer: We Laugh We Love | Venue & Catering: Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard | Planning/Design: Debbie LoVerso of Terrain Events | Florals: Hannah Maakestad of Design by Terrain | Brides Gown: RSVP by Sarah Seven from Lovely Bride | Alterations: Courtney Alston of Prim and Perverse | Hair & Makeup: Onlo| Grooms Attire: SuitSupply | Entertainment: Lovesick (DJ); Afrah Events US (zaffa and dabka dancers) | Cake: Nutmeg Cake Design | Invitations: Design by Terrain and Merely Mere by Meredith

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A Terrain Gardens Wedding With Quaker, Jewish and Muslim Traditions - Philadelphia magazine

The Jews of Key West: Making a home again in Margaritaville – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on August 3, 2021

On any given afternoon, hundreds of visitors here patiently line up for selfies next to a brightly painted, 12-foot-high concrete buoy marking the southernmost point in the continental United States.

Just behind this landmark, a less obvious monument overlooks the Atlantic Ocean for a few days a year: a menorah erected during Hanukkah by Chabad Jewish Center of the Florida Keys & Key West. Billed as the nations southernmost menorah, the gimmick is just one way that Rabbi Yaakov Zucker attracts Jews among the 2.5 million tourists who flock to the Keys annually.

For a while, there was also a southernmost Christmas tree and then they stopped putting it there. But Ive continued my menorah tradition. People like these things, said Zucker, 49, who often cruises up and down Duval Street, the epicenter of Key Wests famous party strip, in a modified golf cart, chatting up Jews and trying to convince men to put on tefillin.

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Once Floridas most populous city in the 19th century, Key West today doesnt even rank in the states top 150. But among its 24,000 or so residents are about a thousand Jews, about one-third of whom are Israeli expats, according to Zucker. Another thousand or so Jews are scattered elsewhere in the Keys, mainly in island towns such as Islamorada, Key Largo, Marathon and Tavernier.

When I first came to Key West, I called my dad up and said, They must really love Jews here. Every store has a mezuzah, recalled Sam Kaufman, the vice mayor here and a regular at Chabad services.

That tradition dates back to the 1920s, when the local merchants association ruled that only people who resided permanently in Key West could operate businesses on Duval Street.

The Jews werent full-time residents because there was no rabbi and no kosher food. So they left on Thursday night by boat and came back on Sunday, Kaufman said. After that ruling, the Jews became full-time residents.

The Chabad center, housed in a former Lutheran church on Trinity Drive, is a relative newcomer to Key West. Jews have lived since 1886 in this laid-back fishing town nicknamed the Conch Republic, which has inspired hard-drinking celebrities from novelist Ernest Hemingway to songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Thats the year a massive fire destroyed Key Wests commercial district, creating opportunities for Yiddish-speaking peddlers and shopkeepers from New York, according to Arlo Haskells 2017 book, Jews of Key West: Smugglers, Cigar Makers and Revolutionaries (1823-1969).

In the 1890s, some of these early Jewish pioneers helped buy weapons for Jos Marts anti-Spanish revolution in Cuba, only 90 miles to the south. And in 1899 just two years after Theodor Herzls first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland the Federation of American Zionists opened a Key West branch to raise funds for an eventual Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Congregation Bnai Zion, a nonaffiliated synagogue with about 100 members, is the oldest synagogue in South Florida. Established in 1887, it occupies an entire city block along United Street, not far from its original location at the Sidney M. Aronovitz U.S. Courthouse, named after a prominent Jewish lawyer and third-generation Key West resident.

A lot of Jews come to Key West to disappear from the radar, said the synagogues Israeli-born rabbi, Shimon Dudai, 76. Most of the time they become family.

There can be a disconnect between the Israelis and local Jews, Dudai said.

Local Jews dont mix much with the Israelis, he said. When I first came here, I went to every store and met all the Israelis. I knew they were not the kind of people who would come to a place considered Reform. Thats the reason were not affiliated, although my congregation welcomes all streams of Judaism.

Meir Mergi, 42, is originally from the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Ata. Hes lived here for 20 years, selling T-shirts, other clothing and local souvenirs at his Duval Street shop.

I never planned to stay in America. It was supposed to be a three-month vacation, Mergi said. Key West is the best place to be if you want a quiet life. Im very happy here.

From April to June of 2020, as coronavirus infections spiked across South Florida, Key West and the other islands were closed off to nonresidents. Police blocked the Overseas Highway at the boundary with Miami-Dade County.

If you didnt show an ID that you lived in the Keys, you couldnt get in, said Zucker, who is also a chaplain with the Monroe County Sheriffs Department. To get back into town, I had to write our Israeli guests a letter that they were coming to see me.

These days, Kaufman is optimistic about the future. Crime is low and Key West is packed with visitors.

Theres pent-up demand for tourism, its a safe place and its drivable, Kaufman said. During spring break, hotel rooms were going for $1,200 a night, so were not really suffering.

In fact, some Jewish retirees moved to the Florida Keys during the pandemic to escape public health restrictions up north.

I must have gotten at least 30 phone calls from people wanting to move to the Keys from New York and Chicago, said Zucker, who hosted over 100 people at Chabads Passover seder this year. After coronavirus, they want to be off the grid. They dont want to be in big cities. People saw what happened, and nobody has insurance that some new variant wont happen again.

The congregations president, Joyce Peckman, who settled here in 2003 from New York, said that about half of the 170 member families have second homes elsewhere, with some of them spending only a few weeks a year in the Keys. The JCC once had a Hebrew school with 10 children, but they all grew up and moved away. More than half intermarried, she said.

If I had young children, I would not move here, Peckman said. The vibe here in the Upper Keys is very laid back. People came here for diving, fishing, relaxing and getting away from it all. But there are very few Jews, and if you have kids, you want them to be someplace where there are other Jewish kids.

Gili Sanouf, a 17-year-old senior at Key West High School, agrees. An Orthodox Jew, Sanouf had his bar mitzvah celebration at the local Chabad. He spends his after school hours selling T-shirts, fridge magnets, Mile Zero bottle openers, bathing suits and Christmas ornaments at Happy Rooster, the souvenir shop owned by his parents, who came here 20 years ago.

There are really no Jewish kids my age here. Theres only bars and drugs; its very limiting, the teenager said. After graduating, I want to go to Israel, join the army and focus on cybersecurity.

Sanouf brightens whenever the occasional Israeli tourist walks into his shop and he gets the chance to practice Hebrew. And nearly every day, non-Jewish tourists inquire about his kippah.

They ask me, Whats that thing on your head? he said. I explain to them that theres something above me, and that Im not the only thing that matters.

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The Jews of Key West: Making a home again in Margaritaville - The Jerusalem Post

Daily Kickoff: How the Jewish vote could swing Ohio 11 + The Squad targets nonprofit status of several Israel-related charities – Jewish Insider

Posted By on August 3, 2021

Gold Standard:Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyatplaced firstin the mens floor routine at the Tokyo Olympics, winning Israels second-ever gold medal.

Still In It:Also in Tokyo, Israels national baseball teambeatMexico 12-5 the first Olympic win for an Israeli baseball team. Team Israel thenlostits next game, to South Korea, 11-1. The team will face the Dominican Republic in an elimination game on Tuesday.

Digital Drama:The Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation Leagueboth released reports allegingthat social media companies are failing to stop the spread of antisemitic content acting on as few as one in six reported examples, according to one of the reports.

Teamwork:Hillel International and the ADLwill partneron several initiatives to proactively address the rise in antisemitic activity on campus.

Campus Beat:The George Washington Universitys Graduate School of Education and Human Developmentwill offera two-year, part-time degree program in Israel education, the first university in the country to offer such a program. The Marcus Foundation donated $2.7 million to fund the program.

Damage Control:A publicist for Mel Gibsonsaidthat the actors upcoming project Rothchild, a satire film based on a wealthy New York family, is not connected to the Rothschild family at the core of many antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Found History:Homeowners doing a renovation in Fort Worth, Texas,discovereda nearly century-old mezuzah on one of the houses doorposts and returned the item to the original owners descendants.

Community Response:The Champlain Towers South collapse wasacutely feltby the Jewish community of Puerto Rico, where several victims had grown up and still maintained ties.

Calling Offsides:Billionaire businessmanRoman Abramovich hassuedthe author of a recent book on Russian President Vladimir Putin for writing that Putin ordered Abramovich to buy Chelsea FC, an English Premier League soccer team, in a bid to infiltrate British society.

Facing Justice:A 100-year-old former Sachsenhausen concentration camp guard, who has not been publicly named, willgo on trialthis fall in Germany.

Investigation:The amount of ammonium nitrate that caused the deadly explosion in Beiruts port last yearwas a fractionof the amount delivered in 2013, raising concerns about the whereabouts of the remainder of the shipment and why the material, which can be used to make fertilizer or bombs, was left in an unsecure area.

Deal Debate:Talks between Iran and world powers in Viennaappear to have hit an impassefollowing the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency and Tehrans accelerated efforts to advance its nuclear program.

Keep the Beat:Israel-based Orthodox Jewish rapper Nissim Black is in New York, where heheadlineda concert in Passaic, N.J., last week before traveling to Monsey for Shabbat.

Mazel Tov:The New York Timesspotlightsthe wedding of Mosheh Oinounou and Alex Sall, who had their first date at a Jewish Food Society event in Manhattan.

Transition:Rabbi Gideon Black was named the new chief executive officer of the New York region of NCSY.

Retrospective:AWashington Postobituarylooks at the life of Ruth Pearl who died last month at 85 who moved to the U.S. at the age of 5 following the 1941 Baghdad pogrom and spent her later years bringing awareness to the murder of her son, the journalist Daniel Pearl.

Remembering:Musician Chuck E. Weissdiedat 76. Nicky Langesfeld, 26, and Luis Sadovnic, 28, who met at the University of Florida and married in January, wereamong the victimsin the Surfside, Fla., condominium collapse.

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Daily Kickoff: How the Jewish vote could swing Ohio 11 + The Squad targets nonprofit status of several Israel-related charities - Jewish Insider

ADL, Hillel Working Together to Document Campus Antisemitism – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on August 3, 2021

A view of the University of Iowa campus. The school was the site of a heated debate over antisemitism and anti-Zionism this year. (Wikimedia Commons via

By Ben Sales

Over the last year, Jewish college studentstook it upon themselves to combat antisemitismat their schools. Now, two major Jewish organizations are working together to play a stronger role in fighting antisemitism on campus.

Some of the student activists documented incidences of antisemitism at colleges nationwide, often submitted anonymously, while others have taken a confrontational tone on social media. With someportraying themselvesas the ideological successors to early Zionist activists, the students often argue that anti-Zionism and antisemitism overlap.

In a new partnership, Hillel International and the Anti-Defamation League are aiming to take a more traditional approach to the same issues one that they say will not always treat anti-Israel activity as antisemitism.

Hillel and the ADL will together create a college-level curriculum on antisemitism and jointly document antisemitic incidents on campuses in the United States. But not every student government resolution endorsing the movement to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel, known as BDS, will wind up in the groups database.

Anti-Israel activism in and of itself is not antisemitism, an ADL spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Situations vary widely with BDS, we will carefully evaluate each one and make a determination based on our criteria for antisemitism.

For example, the ADL spokesperson told JTA, a BDS resolution alone would not count as antisemitism, but if a student was excluded from the debate because he or she was Jewish, then it might be counted.

The Hillel-ADL partnership, which will begin in the coming academic year, follows a spike in reported antisemitic incidents on campus. In the school year that ended in 2021, the ADL tallied 244 antisemitic incidents on campuses nationwide, an increase from 181 the previous school year. Hillel has a presence on more than 550 campuses and says it serves more than 400,000 students.

Accusations of antisemitism on campus have received significant attention from large Jewish organizations for years. Some Jewish leaders have longsaidanti-Zionist activity on campus constitutes antisemitism, especially as a string of student governments endorsed BDS.

Hillel Internationalprohibits partnershipswith, and the hosting of, campus groups that support BDS. Anti-Zionist groups have at times targeted Hillel; last week, Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers Universitycriticizedthe schools Hillel in a statement endorsed by other campus groups.

In addition, the ADL has documentedwhite supremacist propaganda campaignson campuses nationwide.

Multiple national groups havefiled complaintswith the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights based on campus antisemitism allegations. In 2019, President Donald Trumpsigned an executive ordermandating robust enforcement of civil rights protections for Jews on campus and including some anti-Israel activity in the definition of antisemitism. Pro-Palestinian activists said the order would have a chilling effect on free speech on campus.

The ADL and Hillel International plan to develop a curriculum about the history of antisemitism and how it manifests currently. They will also survey schools nationwide to provide a better picture of the state of antisemitism on campus, and will create a dedicated system to tally incidents of antisemitism at colleges and universities, including a portal for students to report incidents confidentially.

The ADL did not detail how it would verify whether confidentially submitted incidents actually occurred, beyond telling JTA they would be judged by themethodologythe group uses in its annual audit of antisemitic incidents. The methodology states that ADL carefully examines the credibility of all incidents, including obtaining independent verification when possible.

In recent months, the student activists have formed their own organizations to further their online activism, called the New Zionist Congress and Jewish on Campus. The New Zionist Congress hosts an online book club and discussions about Zionism, while Jewish on Campus records stories of college antisemitism on itsInstagram account, which has posted more than 400 times and has 32,000 followers.

The ADL said its partnership with Hillel would complement student activism and that the group will firmly support well-meaning student-led efforts to push back against antisemitism on campus.

The effort with Hillel is also the third partnership with an external organization that ADL has announced in the past two weeks. It recently launched a partnership to combat antisemitism with the Union for Reform Judaism, and last weekbegan an initiative with PayPalto research how extremists use online financial platforms.

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ADL, Hillel Working Together to Document Campus Antisemitism - Jewish Exponent

Guest Column: Living Jewish Values at Haven Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on August 3, 2021

Editors Note: Jessica Caminker was part of JFS 100 Mensches Essay Contest a year ago, won, and was given a stipend to participate on the Havens Youth Advisory Board. She has written the attached essay about her experience.

As a result of my participation in Jewish Family Services 100 Mensches essay competition, I was offered the unique opportunity to apply for a position on a new Youth Advisory Board at Haven, a local comprehensive program for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Haven does incredibly important work, providing shelter, intervention services, counseling, advocacy education and more to thousands of people each year. These efforts make all the difference for those who take advantage of them and lay the foundation for a future in which they wont be necessary.

I found incredible meaning in the time I spent with Haven. Especially as a young woman beginning to navigate society as an individual for the first time, I feel very connected to the cause of eradicating intimate partner violence and helping heal those who have been affected by it.

The Youth Advisory Board certainly gave me the opportunity to assist in pursuing this goal, as well as deepened my appreciation for and understanding of the Jewish values that go hand in hand with its mission.

Although Haven is not a uniquely Jewish organization, the strides it takes to better the lives of others beautifully reflect values that Judaism holds closely, and my time spent on the board allowed me to personally involve myself in furthering many of these ideals.

The Jewish Family Service mission statement is: Inspired by the wisdom and values of Jewish tradition, we strengthen lives through compassionate service. As part of this mission statement, JFS also highlights and describes several significant examples of such Jewish values. Among them are chesed (compassion and kindness),tzedakah (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

These three concepts serve as a sort of algorithm for much of Havens work: When someone comes to Haven seeking help, they are welcomed immediately with overwhelming compassion in a clear expression of chesed.

Next, the organization takes steps toward securing justice for the individual seeking help. Through interventions, court advocacy, personal protection orders or whatever the situation requires, Haven pursues tzedakah on behalf of everyone it serves.

Finally, even once an individuals immediate needs have been met, Haven continues to provide them with longer-term care such as support groups and counseling, as well as hosting events for educational programming and youth outreach which attack the broader issue. In this way, both directly and indirectly, Haven sets out to repair the world.

The value that I found the most profound in Havens work, however, is that of Btzelem Elohim, viewing every human being equally and as they were created: in Gods image. All of Havens tasks, each with its own specific goals, serve to preserve and empower the humanity and dignity in each individual. In all the support and encouragement that Haven has to offer, the victims it serves are never victimized; Rather, they are reminded of their worth and fundamental importance as people. This elevates Haven to the next level of service: Not only does it help those in need, but it does so with grace, mindfulness and in true recognition of Gods image in everyone.

While I am grateful to have learned many lessons from this experience, my main takeaway is this: The more we can do to remind the world of the holiness found in every single human being, the better suited we will be to combat these difficult issues together going forward. Haven encouraged me to identify the inherent value in myself and in everyone I meet.

And although my personal involvement with Haven ends here, for now, I am confident this is a message that I will carry with me and aim to spread for the rest of my life. Thank you, Haven, and thank you, JFS!

Jessica Caminker was raised in Ann Arbor and West Bloomfield and graduated from the Frankel Jewish Academy with the class of 2021. She is eager to spend a gap year at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem and continue her Jewish learning before returning to the Honors Program at the University of Michigan the following year.

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Guest Column: Living Jewish Values at Haven Detroit Jewish News - The Jewish News - The Jewish News

Exhibition to show 50 contemporary portraits of Holocaust survivors – The Guardian

Posted By on August 3, 2021

When Kitty Hart-Moxon, 97, was recently asked to choose one object that symbolised the horrors she survived at the hands of the Nazis in Auschwitz, Belsen, and on death marches, she had no doubts.

A glass container encasing the preserved tattooed numbers she had cut out of her own arm and also that of her mother, Rosa Lola, which she keeps in a cupboard at her home in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, is a shocking, tangible reminder.

My number was 39934 with a little triangle at the bottom, and my mothers was 39933, she said.

In postwar Britain, while training as a nurse and then qualifying as a radiographer, she was acutely conscious of people staring at the number, clearly visible in her short-sleeved uniform. One doctor remarked he supposed it was her boyfriends number that she couldnt remember. And, that just did something to me. I decided then and there its got to come off.

She was 25. I thought it is better to remove it, and put it in a specimen jar. It will be there forever, whereas I will be gone, she said. And later, after her mother died, she asked for her number to be cut out too.

In a video portrait for an upcoming exhibition by the Imperial War Museums (IWM), she appears, with her tattoos and alongside her grandson, Michael.

It was the story of my life, wasnt it? And I dont think anybody else has got theirs because most people died with them. But I thought it will now be there for ever. Its part of history. Its important.

The exhibition, Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors, which opens at the IWM London on 6 August, brings together over 50 contemporary portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families taken in spring 2021.

Born in Poland, on the border with Germany and Czechoslovakia, Hart-Moxon and her mother survived the Lublin ghetto, many forced labour camps, Auschwitz, death marches and Bergen-Belsen before being liberated. She lost her teenage years, from the age of 12 to 18, along with her father, brother and many other relatives, to the Holocaust.

Photographer Simon Roberts has produced six video portraits of Holocaust survivors for the exhibition. Each incorporates the voice of a younger family member describing the legacy their relatives experience has had on their own lives and upbringing. These family members, often grandchildren, are revealed later in each video portrait standing alongside their relative, as is the object the survivor sees as particularly significant.

Roberts was inspired by a Guardian report of research at New Yorks Mount Sinai hospital on epigenetic inheritance. His video portraits will be exhibited alongside photographs, including three by the Duchess of Cambridge, on the theme of generations and the Holocaust.

Of Hart-Moxon, he said: I asked each of them if they would provide something that was of significance to them. So I didnt know anything about it until she presented it. Initially I wasnt really quite sure what exactly I was looking at. When there was that sudden realisation that this was actually something removed from her own body, it was quite shocking. But, of course, it was a shocking act to be numbered in that way, and so I think it is a very powerful emblem of what humans can do to other humans.

For her, it is an important reminder and, I suppose, she sees it as is something that will live beyond her, which is the importance of part of that story. And, obviously, it has an intensity she wants to convey about what she experienced.

For her this was one of the most powerful ways to convey the graphic nature of what she and her mother experienced.

He said Michael, who speaks of his grandmothers influence in the five-minute lifesize video, knew the numbers by heart. They are ingrained. He wasnt even looking at them when he was talking about them. But he knew the numbers.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors, created in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society, Jewish News, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Dangoor Education, opens at IWM London on 6 August.

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Exhibition to show 50 contemporary portraits of Holocaust survivors - The Guardian

Story of how one Virginia woman survived the Holocaust – ABC Action News

Posted By on August 3, 2021

HENRICO, Va. -- 72 years ago, Halina Zimms wish came true.

I was born in Poland. Lodz, Poland, said Halina. Everybody wanted to come to America. That was something everyone dreamed of.

To reach the U.S., the immigrant living in Henrico endured a road less traveled -- and far more dangerous than most.

I used to watch movies of Shirley Temple all of the time, said Halina.

But unlike Hollywood, the 93-year-olds remarkable tale is true.

When she was just 11, Halina, her parents, and two sisters made a life-or-death decision and fled their home.

In 1939, when the Germans marched into Poland, things changed completely, explained Halina.

As a Jewish family, they were being hunted.

Provided to WTVR

Rumors were going around that the Germans were killing Jews and killing people. People didnt believe it. Nobody believes it, said Halina.

The family lived in a one-room house for two years.

A day was like a month because it was so long, said Halina. Very Scary. Very Scary.

But eventually, the Nazis caught up. Halina knew she had to flee, and she bid farewell to her parents.

That was the worst experience saying goodbye to them. Because I would never see them again, I knew that, said Halina.

With the help of a mother in the village, Halina assumed the identity of her daughter.

She was a wonderful, wonderful Christian woman. If it werent for her, we wouldnt be here, Halina said.

Using an official birth certificate and identification papers, Halina Zimm became Wanda Kazuzick.

Provided to WTVR

For two years, the teen worked as a servant for a wealthy Polish couple in Warsaw, where some were skeptical of Halina.

Ill never forget his words. Get up, and youre a Jew. And you know what we do to Jewish People, said Halina. Youre going to be shot.

War was raging around them.

You could hear the fighting and machine guns and all of that. Then everything suddenly stops, said Halina.

Eventually, Halina escaped again she was 15.

I learned very quickly how to survive, said Halina.

By the wars end, Halina walked for weeks back home. She yearned to see her family -- a reunion with her sisters three years in the making.

Her parents were gone. They perished in the concentration camp at Treblinka.

It was a very dark time in history. Very difficult time in history, Halina said.

In 1949, Halina and her husband immigrated to the United States, settling in Richmond.

"Its been such a long time, said Halina, holding old photographs. Things come back to you when you look at those things.

Halina said her story is too important not to share.

A lot of people who came to this country didnt want to talk about it because it was too painful to talk about it. MMm Mmm. Not me, she said.

She accepts to speak at high schools and service groups.

As long as they ask me. As long as they ask me. I could never say no, said Halina.

Crowds are exposed to an extraordinary history lesson.

They listen. They can relate because Im trying to be honest with them, said Halina.

As a child, Halina Zimm chose a road less traveled to survive.

I was young. I was always going places, said Halina.

In her golden years, this senior is taking you on a journey to remember.

Ive seen so much hate in my life, said Halina. Hate is wrong. It can destroy you. You can never be happy if you have hate in your heart.

Greg McQuade at WTVR first reported this story.

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Story of how one Virginia woman survived the Holocaust - ABC Action News

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day: Systematic marginalisation of Roma needs to be tackled, starting at the local level – Council of Europe

Posted By on August 3, 2021

More than seven decades after the Nazi extermination of thousands of Roma, 2 August needs to be a reminder that discrimination against Roma and Travellers is far from over and anti-Gypsyism must be fought at all levels, said John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma, on the annual Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, on 2 August 2021.

Local and regional governments, in coordination with other levels, need to acknowledge the grim realities of Roma and Travellers across the continent and tackle their systematic marginalisation. Covid-19 recovery strategies are an extraordinary opportunity to engage those left behind, including Roma and Travellers, added John Warmisham.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has launched several initiatives to promote the integration of Roma and combat prejudice. It has published the Human Rights Handbook for Local and Regional Authorities, including a chapter on Roma rights, as well as the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion. Congress has also adopted a Declaration against Anti-Gypsyism, providing local and regional elected representatives with the opportunity to take a stand against discrimination towards Roma. Every two years the Congress also awards the Dosta! Prize to municipalities that have implemented innovative initiatives for Roma inclusion.

On 2 August, we commemorate the genocide perpetrated against the Roma in the Second World War, during which it is estimated that between 220 000 and 500 000 Roma and Sintis, representing between a quarter and half of their entire population at the time, were murdered by the Nazis and their allies.

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Roma Holocaust Memorial Day: Systematic marginalisation of Roma needs to be tackled, starting at the local level - Council of Europe

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