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Solving the Mystery of the Missing Prophet! – Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin – Video –

Posted By on July 4, 2020

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan is the Spiritual Leader and Executive Director of Chabad Flamingo in Thornhill, Ontario, serving one of Canadas most dynamic Jewish communities. He also serves as Chaplain of the York Regional Police Service. He is an active member of Torontos Vaad HaRabbanim (Council of Orthodox Rabbis), and a voting member of the COR Kashruth Council of Canadas executive rabbinical board. Rabbi Kaplan is featured regularly on many local television and radio shows. He is a sought after speaker, with hundreds of lectures on He and his wife, Faygie, are blessed with eight children. Artistically endowed, the rabbi enjoys drawing, sketching and creating charcoal portraits.

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Solving the Mystery of the Missing Prophet! - Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin - Video -

Is it Permissible to Study Mishneh Torah as a Stand-Alone Work? – Mishneh Torah In-Depth, Article 1 – Introduction to Mishneh Torah –

Posted By on July 4, 2020

The Talmud in Tractate Sotah, asinterpreted by Rashi, makes a startling statement:

It was stated, one who readScripture and studied Mishnah, but did not serve Torah sages, he didnot spend time amongst the scholars in order to decipher the reasoning behindthe commandments. Rabbi Elazar says thathe is considered an ignoramus. Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni says that he is a boor, an individual inferior to anignoramus.

Rashi comments:

Did not serve Torah sages: Hedid not study the Talmud, which explains the rationale of the Mishnah. Thisindividual is considered wicked, since his learning is not thorough. One mustnot study from such an individual, since it is specifically the reasoning [thatgives one the ability] to discern what is prohibited and what ispermitted . . . This person is considered bare.

What seems clear is that one mustnot study halachah in a vacuum. Theevolution and rationale of the law are not merely added elements; they areintegral to understanding the law itself. One who studies halachah in isolation will likely err.

Shortly after the completion ofMaimonides Mishneh Torah in 1180,Maimonides faced a wave of criticism on these very grounds. In creating aclear, systematic and comprehensive code of halachah,he seems to be in violation of the Talmud above. He specifically did not wantto confuse or distract his reader with the minutiae of discussion leading tothe final law. He included nothing more and nothing less than clear,straightforward law. As he articulates clearly in his introduction to Mishneh Torah:

I, Moses,the son of Maimon, of Spain . . . contemplated all these textsand sought to compose [a work which would include the conclusions] derived fromall these texts regarding the forbidden and the permitted, the impure and thepure, and the remainder of the Torah's laws, all in clear and concise terms, sothat the entire Oral Law could be organized in each person's mouth withoutquestions or objections.

Instead of[arguments], this one claiming such and another such, [this text will allowfor] clear and correct statements based on the judgments that result from allthe texts and explanations mentioned above . . .

A personwill not need another text at all with regard to any Jewish law. Rather, thistext will be a compilation of the entire Oral Law . . . a personshould first study the Written Law, and then study this text and comprehend theentire Oral Law from it, without having to study any other text between thetwo.

Maimonides' code, as pure,unadulterated law, is seemingly exactly what the Talmud cautioned against.According to Rashi's interpretation of the Talmud, Mishneh Torahwhen studied as intended by the authorwould do moreharm than good.

Indeed, this concern of the Talmud(as understood by Rashi) surfaced a generation later, as evidenced in theresponsa of Rabbeinu Asher, the Rosh. He was responding to a rabbiwho had written to him regarding a mikvahthat had been filled using a questionable technique.

The law is that water used to fill amikvah must be naturally flowing,either rainwater that falls directly into the mikvah or aspring that flows into the mikvah. Inthis case, a mikvah had beenconstructed alongside a spring. In order to fill it, water was added to thespring, causing it to overflow into the mikvah.

The rabbi writing to the Roshassumed that this mikveh was nowinvalid. He based this assumption on (amongst other sources) the followingstatement of Maimonides in Mishneh Torah:When one digs at the side of a spring, as long as the water emerges because ofthe spring, even though at times, its flow is interrupted, but then it flowsagain, it is considered as a spring (i.e., a kosher mikvah). If, however, it ceased flowing entirely, it is consideredas water collected in a pit.

The assumption of the questioningrabbi was that once the water pooled in the mikvah,it would be considered as if it had ceased flowing and therefore beclassified as water collected in a pit and invalid for use as a mikvah.

The Rosh rejects this, pointing outthat this extrapolation stems from a misunderstanding of Maimonides. Maimonides,explains the Rosh, is actually quoting a section of Tosefta. Seeing the full context of the quote precludes theunderstanding of the Roshs questioner.

The Tosefta is discussing the differences between various categories ofwater that may be used as a mikvah.One difference mentioned by the Tosefta isbetween water pooled in a pit and flowing rainwater. Both are kosher, but waterpooled in a pit is of an inferior level and has certain restrictions regardingits use.

With this context in mind, we canunderstand the error called out by the Rosh. When the water is actively flowingto and from the spring, it is considered to be an extension of the spring. If,however, the water pools in a pit, it is now considered pooled water (notflowing rainwater and not an extension of the spring). This is not to say the mikvah is invalid; it is simply aninferior category, but still a kosher mikvah.

Thus, we have clear, documentedevidence of the Talmuds concern: studying laws bereft of their context leadsto mistaken conclusions. This leads the Rosh to caution against deriving anylaw from the text of Mishneh Torah:

Therefore,all who decide law from the Mishneh Torah,without thorough knowledge of the background, are in error. They make what isforbidden permitted and what is permitted forbidden. This is because Maimonidesdid not follow the convention [established by] all other authors, who citeproofs and sources for their conclusions.

This begs the question, who iscorrect? Do we follow the advice of Maimonides in his introduction, where heencourages one to simply read the Written Torah and then move straight to his Mishneh Torah, or do we follow theopinion of the Rosh, who strongly opposed such an approach?

To demystify this, we must firstresolve an apparent difficulty in the Laws of Torah Study, from the Code ofJewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) by RabbiSchneur Zalman of Liadi.

Initially, he seems to side clearlywith the Rosh:

If one doesnot understand the reasoning behind the law, then he will not be able to fullycomprehend the law. He is called a boor.Therefore, there is a prohibition against deciding law, even for oneself,from halachot without the reasoningincluded [alongside.]

However, later in that same chapterhe encourages individuals who have mastered practical halachah, i.e, they are knowledgeable and fluent in halachah pertinent today, to dedicatetime to study areas of laws not applicable today, such as the laws of thesacrifices. And if, he adds, there is insufficient time to master these areasby first studying the Talmud and its commentaries, then one should study thebasic laws as articulated in the mishnayotand in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah.

Now, if we take into account whatwas quoted earlier, we seem to have a problem. Rabbi Schneur Zalman wrote thatif one does not study the reasoning behind the law, he will not be able tofully comprehend the law. He is called a boor.So what is the point? Why study in such a manner if the study is in vain due toa lack of understanding? Surely it would be preferable to study at a slowerpace while incorporating the background of the law, which would enable a properunderstanding?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in a talkcommemorating the passing of both Maimonides (on the 20th of Tevet) and ofRabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (on the 24th of Tevet), addressed this issue. Basedon a close analysis of the exact wording used by Rabbi Schneur Zalman, which isbased on the Sefer Mitzvot Hagadol, hedraws a distinction between two elements within the obligation to study andknow Torah (yediat haTorah). Oneelement of this obligation is to study the mitzvahs in order to acquire thepractical knowledge necessary to fulfill Torahs precepts correctly. A vastamount of knowledge is needed to properly navigate the complexities ofday-to-day halachah. This elementpertains only to the mitzvahs that have a practical application nowadays.

But there is a second element to themitzvah of yediat haTorah: one mustattain the ability to observe all613 mitzvahs in ones heart. One is obligated to acquire the knowledgenecessary to fulfill even mitzvahs that are not applicable nowadays, withoutthe Temple standing in Jerusalem.

With this distinction, we can betterunderstand why Rabbi Schneur Zalman advises that an individual study mishnayot and Mishneh Torah, even if these works do not articulate the reasoningbehind the law. True, such study is not advisable when it serves as the basefor the practical application of law. However, one is also obligated to knowTorah as it pertains to the mitzvahs that have no practical application today.For this study, it is reasonable that a lighter study course is followed, onethat enables the individual to cover all themitzvahs, albeit on a basic level. Since one is not studying to practicallyobserve these mitzvahs, this study is purely theoretical and we are notconcerned about any erroneous application of law.

Earlier, when Rabbi Schneur Zalmanchastised individuals who study the halachotwithout first exploring the relevant sources in the Talmud and itscommentaries, he was referring to a study that would lead to a practicalapplication of law. In such a case, the Roshs concern is valid; an incorrectruling may well be the result. However, when studying for knowledge alone, toobserve the mitzvahs in ones heart, it is preferable to cover allmitzvahsalbeit on a more basic levelthan to study a few in depth. For suchstudy, Mishneh Torah is ideal.

So while Maimonides failed toactualize the complete replacement of the evolutionary processes of halachah as he envisioned in hisintroduction, Mishneh Torah doesserve an extremely valuable purpose as a work to be studied independently. Itis the only comprehensive and approachable work that covers every single areaof halachah. Thus, it is the workfavored for providing a birds-eye view of all areas of Torah law, a keycomponent of the mitzvah to know Torah.

Learn about the Rebbes initiative encouraging all Jews to studyMishneh Torah dailly.

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Is it Permissible to Study Mishneh Torah as a Stand-Alone Work? - Mishneh Torah In-Depth, Article 1 - Introduction to Mishneh Torah -

A treasure trove of LGBTQ texts from two millennia of Jewish history – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on July 4, 2020

A year before Noam Sienna, 30, earned his Ph.D. in Jewish history at the University of Minnesota last month, he had already published a groundbreaking book. A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969 collects primary sources by and about queer Jews dating back much further than most people would have thought possible. Some are legal documents, others are poetry. They range from shocking to moving. And many have never been published before.

Sienna, who lives in Minneapolis, will discuss the book on July 6 at a virtual event sponsored by the Jewish Community Library, Afikomen Judaica and Congregation Shaar Zahav.

J.: Why this book, and why now?

Noam Sienna: I wish I had published this book 20 years ago, so I could have read it when I was a kid. I loved learning about Jewish history and Torah and Talmud, but as I got older and increasingly understood myself as a queer person, I felt alienated from the Jewish textual tradition. I hope this book is opening a door for Jewish LGBTQ people to connect to the Jewish tradition in some way. Its not a narrative that you read cover to cover. Its a tool box that people can open to find pieces that will help them understand themselves within Jewish history.

You exclude biblical texts because theyve already been extensively mined for queerness. The texts you do include are all over the map poetry, Talmud, journalism, personal diaries and many of them have never gotten attention before. How did you find them?

Some of these sources are very well known Talmud, Maimonides, certain literary texts. But those texts havent always been read through the lens of the LGBTQ experience, so Im inviting people to read them in a new way.

Some texts are documentary sources that have been excavated by scholars of queer history, but havent yet been seen for their relevance in Jewish history. For example, the first gay bar in Paris was run by an Algerian Jew. French historians dug up that story, and what they all note in a small way is that the owner of the bar was a Jew. But theyre not Jewish historians, so they didnt stop to think what it tells us about Jewish history. The end of his story is tragic, as I discovered: In the late 30s he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz where he was murdered. I was in contact with a French historian who was working on this, and he had no idea that he was murdered in Auschwitz. He had never thought to ask, whats the end of that story of a Jew in France at that time.

There are also sources from within the Jewish community talking to the Jewish community, and those have only started to be looked at in the last 10 or 15 years. For example, sources on Jewish same-sex relationships in the Ottoman Empire. Ive tried to take these sources and present them in an accessible English translation that is open to anyone someone in eighth grade in Omaha could pick this up and read the text and feel invited into this history.

About one-third of the sources in this book have never appeared in English before. So thats exciting to me to say, heres raw historical material that is now open for engagement and analysis for people who arent going through original archives themselves. Its collating work by myself and other scholars and putting it in one place for the general public.

Who is this book for?

Its already being used in a number of college classes on gender, sex, religion and Jewish studies. A number of high school teachers have been working with it, and synagogue and camp educators are working with the material. And the texts are also being used by Jewish artists and thinkers as jumping-off points for their own creative work. The play Indecent, which has won numerous awards, is based on the Yiddish play God of Vengeance, which is excerpted in this book. It excites modern audiences, but its based on a historical story on the intersection of Jewish and LGBTQ identities. I think there are more Broadway plays to come from this book. Or graphic novels or PJ Library books or contemporary dance. And I hope theres more of that.

Whats one example of a text that really surprised you?

The story of Ben Rosenstein, a Jewish immigrant who comes to the U.S. in the early 20th century and works in a factory on the Lower East Side, and he marries another Jewish immigrant, Pauline up to that point its a very typical immigrant story. But he gets tuberculosis and a HIAS doctor comes to see him and discovers that he was born and raised as a woman but was now living as a man. He died shortly after. The story was leaked to the papers, and it was front-page news in Chicago in 1915. I was able to find corroborating documents, including Ben Rosensteins death certificate, which lists him under his birth name as female, but his census record from 1910 lists him as male and married to a woman. Finding that census record, it was a huge relief because I was so moved to know that this person had chosen a way to live that felt right to them and they stuck to it. If the doctor hadnt taken his story to the paper, this person might have had a long life as a man, and just slipped through history without leaving a record of their life. How many more people lived like this?

Why the time frame of the first century to 1969?

I started with Hellenistic Jewish literature, written in Greek around the 1st century C.E. its a black hole of Jewish history that people forget about. People jump from the Bible to the Talmud, forgetting that there are five centuries in between. The very first source is a literary text that compares a homoerotic poem by Sappho to the Torah. In the first century, Jews are reading this homoerotic poetry and appreciating it in the same breath with the Torah!

I wanted to end with 1969 because of Stonewall, which is often seen as the catalyst for the gay rights movement; people start the story of LGBTQ issues there, as if in 1969 gay people were invented and Jews tried to figure out what to do with them. But I knew there was material to show Jewish LGBTQ life from before 1969. So the last text is actually about Sappho! It is by this German Jewish classicist named Vera Lachmann. In 1967, she goes on this pilgrimage to the island of Lesbos, the birthplace of Sappho and the origin of the word lesbian. She later published some poetry about her trip. So I wanted to end with this Jew writing about Sappho, just as we started with a Jew writing about Sappho.

I assume theres some Bay Area-relevant material in the book?

Oh yes. For example, in 1961 Rabbi Alvin Fine at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, a Reform rabbi, appeared on TV and made the following statement: Judaism today takes a different view from its Biblical and post-Biblical edicts on homosexuals Such persons are not criminals and should not have punitive action as atonement Judaism believes that the psychological approach is the answer. In 1961, no American rabbi had made anything close to this public statement. It was so radical that it immediately provoked an official response from the Reform movement emphasizing that Rabbi Fine was not speaking as a representative of the Reform movement.

What will people hear about if they tune into your July 6 discussion?

Well look at and read some of these texts and see what they can bring to contemporary LGBTQ Jewish life, and well have an opportunity to put the texts from the book to work and chew over where do we go from here.

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A treasure trove of LGBTQ texts from two millennia of Jewish history - The Jewish News of Northern California

Why the Menorah Is the Most Enduring of All Jewish Symbols – Flux Magazine

Posted By on July 4, 2020

words Alexa Wang

Like other cultures and faiths, Jewish people have developed a rich religious and cultural heritage before four thousand years ago.

All the cultures have their own significant symbols and Judaism has too, such as a tallit, tefillin, kippah, seder plate, kiddush cup, Shabbat candles, etc. Menorah is one of these oldest and recognized symbols of Jewish culture and rituals.

It was a seven-branched candelabrum and constructed with pure gold. According to the bible, after the Israelite left Egypt G-d has spoken to Moses to build menorah and use it in the Tabernacle and Miskhan to worship G-d. the priest lit the menorah with pure olive oil everyday. Later, in the temple of Jerusalem, priests start lighting the menorah during worship services.

As first mentioned in the biblical book, the design of the lampwas revealed by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai.The design of the lamp was forged out of a single piece of the gold shaft andthree branches on each side, totaling six branches. The central gold shaft wasflanked by three lights on each side to signify the Sabbath. Its shape wassuggested to build to signify the tree of life and first it was put in theTabernacle.

The temple of Solomon had ten golden branched candelabras and thesecond temple which was built after the Jews left Egypt has introduced 7 branchedmenorahs. In the 70s century during the destruction of the second temple,menorah disappeared.

The Talmud has reconstructed it in the Jerusalem temple and considers it as the mostuniversal symbol of Judaism. During the early modern times, this most popularsymbol has given way to Star of David but in the 19th century, it wasconsidered as the symbol of Zionists. In the 20th century, it has become theofficial symbol of the state of Israel.

So many myths about seven branches of the menorah. According tothe most popular one, the central light represents the Sabbath and its sixbranches symbolize the world created in seven days.

According to Jewish community the menorah spread the light of G-d. Lets look more into the history and myths of the menorah.

Hanukkah menorah:

Hanukkah is one of the Jewish holidays and some of the mythsalso associate with Hanukkah. When the desecration happened in the Jerusalem temple, they hadonly few quantity of olive oil to burn the flames of the temple. By miracle,the flames burned for eight days with such a less quantity of olive oil and thusthey got time to make new pure oil.

The Talmud states to the Jewish community that it is prohibitedto use seven-branched menorah and raised nine-branched Hanukkah menorah. Talmudsymbolized the central shaft as the Shamash light and used it to kindle theother eight branches of the Hanukkah menorah.

Themodern Jewish menorah!

In the earlier period of modern times, the synagogues hascontinually lit seven-branched menorah and named it as ner tamid. Many of thesynagogues have displayed artistic menorah, appearing in the coat of arms inthe state of Israel.When the menorah symbolized as the symbol of the State of Israel, the Jewishcommunity started lighting 7 branched menorahs in the temples.

For the Jewish people, it is not only a symbol of faith in Godbut they consider it as the lamp ofthe jews. The menorah has both religious and secular roots.Jewish people used to consider olive oil as the purest oil and thats why allthe traditional foods are fried by olive oil in the Jewish community.

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Why the Menorah Is the Most Enduring of All Jewish Symbols - Flux Magazine

The broad wall, 17 Tammuz and a time to play – The Jewish Star

Posted By on July 4, 2020

By Rabbi Binny Freedman

Next week we commemorate the breaching of the Old City walls of Jerusalem by the Roman Tenth Legion on the 17th day of Tammuz in 70 CE, heralding the beginning of the end of the Jewish Second Commonwealth and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. As we gaze upon the ruins of those walls, we will fast, and some of us will cry, remembering how 2,000 years ago, peaceful streets were filled with the triumphant cheers of Roman legionnaires bent on our destruction.

But there is another wall in Jerusalem that is worth thinking about, and that wall pre-dates the Roman destruction by almost 1,000 years. It is covered with moss and seeped with history. Most tourists dont see it.

Twenty-seven-hundred years ago, the neighborhood bully was Assyria, known in the Bible as Ashur. Sargon, the Assyrian general, had been waging a campaign of terror over the entire Middle East and had mustered the largest army the world had ever seen 185,000 men, known in the Talmud as Sancheirev, which comes from the word churban (destruction). After destroying the 10 northern tribes in a violent military campaign, Sancheirev set his sights on the pearl of the Middle East: Jerusalem.

At that time, the southern kingdom of Judea was not much to speak of. Encompassing just 20 to 30 square miles around Jerusalem, with little in the way of a standing army and no natural barriers to rely on, the Jews who managed to stay ahead of the advancing Assyrian army escaped into the walls of Jerusalem.

Soon the city was overflowing with 30,000 Jews, desperate to survive the coming onslaught. The king at the time was Chizkiahu (Hezekiah), who was also a prophet, and the Tanakh tells us how he set about fortifying the walls of the city, which had fallen into disrepair. Especially, how he built a broad wall to encompass all the homes that had sprouted up in the northwestern corner of the city outside the walls. Indeed, in their haste to build this wall ahead of the advancing Assyrians, they built up two outer walls, throwing stone and mud inside to achieve a thick wall against the Assyrian battering rams. One has the sense the last stones were set in place just in time.

What must it have felt like, to see 185,000 men bent on your destruction coming up through the valley and surrounding your home?

There were 30,000 Jews trapped inside the city, and things soon went from bad to worse. There was no food, and the Jews were starving to death. They could not run, nor did they have an army with which to fight, and not for the first time and certainly not for the last, they were not given the option of surrender. So Chizkiyahu did what Jews have always done: he called the city together in prayer.

These Jerusalemites represented the entire Jewish people; no one else was left. The northern tribes had been completely lost, and there were as yet no Jews living in a Western Diaspora. It should have ended there, with a final solution to the Jewish problem.

But the people prayed, and Hashem performed a miracle. In the middle of the night, the entire Assyrian army fell dead before the angel of the L-rd.

(Amazingly, this story which is told partly in the 19th chapter of the second book of Kings, is also described in the ancient writings of Herodotus, the historian of Alexander the Great, who reports that the 200,000 strong Assyrian army was wiped out by a mysterious plague outside the walls of Jerusalem.)

Today, you can see this wall, discovered courtesy of Jordanian mortar fire in the Six Day War. You can see how the wall is built as a broad wall, rising on top of ancient homes and built exactly as the Bible describes.

There are no words to describe what it feels like to stand above such a wall, listening to the wind and the silence. It is almost too much to take in. So you look at one stone, and you wonder where these ancient Jews found the faith to build such a wall and believe they would survive.

Right above this ancient broad wall sits a playground, where the Jewish children of the Old City come to play and laugh in the sunshine.

Twenty-five-hundred years ago, amidst the flames of the destruction of the Temple, the prophet Zechariah (8:4-5) issued an amazing prophesy: There will come a time, so says the Lord of Hosts, when the old will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem, leaning on their walking sticks from length of days, and the city streets of Jerusalem will be filled with the sounds of the children, playing in her alleyways.

These children, playing in that playground, above that wall, are the fulfillment of a centuries old dream. The Jewish dream has never been about armies marching in; it has been that one day the children will come back to play.

After 2,000 years of wandering, we are home. And despite everything, for the price of an El Al ticket, anyone can become a part of this journey begun so long ago in the midst of Egyptian bondage.

And if you come this summer, and walk through the alleys of Jerusalem, you can see it too, this incredible other old wall, waiting for so long for all of her children to come home to play. And while we mourn what we lost, we feel blessed for what we have merited to rebuild.

Originally published in July 2011.

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The broad wall, 17 Tammuz and a time to play - The Jewish Star

I speak for the tribe who followed Carl Reiner – Forward

Posted By on July 4, 2020

When I was growing up on Long Island, our house had a living room with orange-fabric couches (it was the 70s after all) and an upright piano flanked by two dark brown wood cabinets. On one side was a bar where my dad would have a Gin & Tonic (with a Stella Doro breadstick) every night when he got home from his orthodontic practice in Queens. On the other side was a stereo with a load of albums.

Im sure Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett were in there, but the real gold was my dads stash of comedy albums George Carlin, Tom Lehrer, Bob Newhart, and, best of all, The 2000-Year-Old Man and The 2013-Year-Old Man by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Sure, Sinatra had his bobby-soxers, but Carl and Mel had the orthodontists of Long Island. Heck, Jews everywhere loved them.

My dad introduced me to this magic at a young age and, to his amusement, I took to memorizing much of their hilarity. No comedy slouch herself, my mother also had a crush on them. I wish I had a nickel for every conversation over the years where she dropped in the line; We just want to stand here and look at you. Im not even going to give that last line context because if you dont get it right away, go buy the albums and listen to them. As my father-in-law likes to say; those who know, know.

It was my dad and that album I thought of first when I heard about Carl Reiner passing at the age of 98. I told my son, Lev, that one of my comedy heroes had died and he said, too bad he couldnt make it to 2,000. Smart-ass. Too bad indeed.

If you followed Carl Reiner on Twitter you very well might have believed that he could make it to 2,000. His tweet-bursts feisty and opinionated mixed in with smart, cutting, and hilarious lasted until the very end. He was one of the wittiest and most fervent voices in opposition to the president. Carl might be dead, but you should still follow him on Twitter.

Carl was also a master craftsman. I teach comedy writing and one of the examples I use in discussing the importance of the craft is from a book by Garry Marshall (may his memory also be for a blessing), Wake Me When Its Funny. In it, Garry tells the story of getting notes from Carl Reiner on a Dick Van Dyke Show script Carl pointed out that writers need to actually write out the physical comedy bits Dick doesnt do something funny with the cummerbund; you have to tell Dick what to do to make it funny.

Today, Im a 50-something Jewish comedy writer who mourns with his tribe of comedy writers and fans - as we pay homage to the inspiration that was Carl Reiner.

Lines from Reiner-and-Brooks albums are our Talmud, our shorthand. Ive never met a comedian I respected who didnt have that ancient DNA flowing through their veins. I dont need to list all Carls creations but the width and breadth of what he wrote, produced and directed has inspired me as long as I can remember.

I loved my late dad for introducing me to Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, who also raised me. And Ive tried to carry on the tradition. When my twins were born, I stenciled famous comedy sayings above their cribs. They couldnt read, of course, but who knew maybe having the sage and funny words of geniuses look over them might help. Prominently displayed on that wall was Brooks sage insight, As long as the world is turning and spinning, were all gonna be dizzy and were gonna make mistakes.

Maybe it was no Liquid Prell, but I loved that those albums are one of the great inventions that brought my family even closer. And if you dont get that reference, just remember: those who know, know.

Gary Rudoren is the co-author of the McSweeneys humor bible, Comedy by the Numbers, and dressed as the 2,000-year-old man for a recent Halloween party. (He is also married to the Forwards Editor-in-Chief, Jodi Rudoren.)

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I speak for the tribe who followed Carl Reiner - Forward

Emmys spotlight: Why ‘Unorthodox’ star Shira Haas believes in the power of change – Screen International

Posted By on July 4, 2020

As the star of Unorthodox, a show which examines a communitys relationship with its traumatic past, Shira Haas has a valuable perspective on the recent global movement to reexamine cultural history and memorialisation via statues.

The only way to deal with it is to really change things or at least talk about it, says 25-year-old Haas, whose compelling performance as Esty, a young Jewish woman who escapes New York and her oppressive Orthodox neighbourhood for Berlin, has cast her into international awards contention. It needs action. People should say their opinions; people should protest, and make art.

The coronavirus-induced shutdown has helped to trigger the current conversation, she believes. People are questioning their life, their choices, their traumas, their freedom this is definitely the time to do that.

Esty certainly asks those questions. The four-part Netflix miniseries begins with her departure from the Satmar Jewish life into which she was born, and follows her attempts to gain entry to an esteemed Berlin music conservatory, while her husband Yanky and his cousin cross the Atlantic try to bring her back. A flashback timeline reveals the rituals that previously shaped her world, including an opulent, tradition-heavy marriage.

The show debuted on March 26, a time when countries worldwide were going into lockdown; it has been one of the viral successes of the period, alongside fellow Netflix series Tiger King and BBC/Hulus Normal People.

A lot of people wrote to me [to say] that theyre going through a lot of trauma they were thankful because the show made them deal with it and do something with it, she says. I had never thought about Unorthodox in this aspect. If it can give people the courage to stand up and make a change, then Im really the luckiest woman on earth to be a part of it.

The shows success has rocketed Haasto global attention. I always believed in the show, but I did not expect that, she says. People from all over the world: Jewish and religious or non-religious, people from Iran, Argentina, the UK, the US. I cant take it for granted.

However, where such acclaim would typically bring premieres, parties and a packed calendar, instead she has been locked down in Tel Aviv in her native Israel since March.Its bizarre we always want to feel like were controlling our lives, and really, its questioning that, she notes.

Israel went into lockdown on March 19, but with a low number of cases and deaths compared to many western countries, has been reopening in stages since late April.

I cant wait for this pandemic to be over for so many reasons; to be able to fly, to be able to see the people that I work with. We really became this mischpachah [a Yiddish term for family]. We talk and write a lot, but its not the same as to see each other face-to-face or to hug each other, God forbid!

In the absence of a physical get-together, the Unorthodox team did a Zoom party in late April, which she describes as the biggest Zoom Ive ever been to. Haas has, though, had one cast member nearby: Amit Rahav, who shares several intense scenes with her as Estys husband Yanky, lives across the street.

If I go on my balcony and scream his name very, very loudly, he might hear me, she jokes. Were very good friends. Weve met from two metres, socially distanced.

Haas may be new to the Netflix audience, but she has been working in Israel and abroad for five years. Her breakthrough role in Tali Shalom-Ezers 2014 abuse drama Princess premiered at Jerusalem Film Festival and went on to play at Sundance and Karlovy Vary.

Subsequent credits have included The Zookeepers Wife with Jessica Chastain; Foxtrot, Israels submission for the 2018 international feature Oscar; and 2018s Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix.

Describing herself as secular but with Jewish ancestry, she speaks Hebrew but had to learn the (less common) Yiddish spoken by the Satmars for Unorthodox. My connection to my Jewish roots the empathy I have with Orthodox or religious communities that I saw, that I talked to certainly helped the feeling for Esty and connecting with her, she says.

In adapting Deborah Feldmans memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection Of My Hasidic Roots, Haas says writer and creator Anna Winger and co-writer Alexa Karolinski aimed to cast Jewish actors as the Jewish characters.

She understands why, but equally emphasises the value of separation in performing. It never has to be, right? Its part of acting to examine the difference from yourself, Haas offers. I dont think its crucial but its definitely helpful.

Haas devoted two months prior to the shoot to learning the language, taking piano and singing lessons, and exploring her heritage.In return, she got to express her skills in several memorable scenes, including a symbolic head-shaving and bathing in the lake at Wannsee, where senior Nazis had planned the Final Solution in 1942.

Top of the list for Haas was a climactic audition at the conservatory, where, having had her skills as a pianist disparaged, an independent Esty instead sings a Hebrew song typically reserved for marriage.

This show is about a woman finding her voice, and in that scene shes literally finding it, she says. For me, its not a story about whether God exists or not, but about Esty finding her own god.

Haas performed the songs in Unorthodox live; while she has no plans for a debut album, singing is definitely in her future.Last month she signed with CAA in the US. The turbulent travel situation makes concrete plans difficult, but shes open to going where the work is, even if that requires an extended stay.

Im looking forward to coming to the States again, she says. I definitely see myself being there for a while maybe relocating, who knows? But at the same time, it doesnt have to be a move for good. Im just waiting to see how things are rolling.

Even with the travel restrictions, opportunities are appearing, though Haas remains tight-lipped on the specifics. She has signed on for another run of Shtisel, a series with similarities to Unorthodox which follows the lives and relationships in a Haredi Jewish family.Haas plays Ruchami Weiss, the daughter of an ultra-Orthodox couple. The first two series played in Israel in 2013 and 2015, before Netflix picked them up in 2018 and is backing a third into production this year.

She also recently received the best actress trophy from the online 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, for her lead role in Ruthy PribarsAsiaas a teenager struck down by a degenerative disease who must learn to rely on her young mother.

Beyond that, Haas wants the devil to be in the detail. Im kind of a nerd I really love doing research, learning new stuff and new cultures, she says. Im always drawn to drama. I believe it will stay like that but Im also open to different genres.

Given the first half of 2020, flexibility seems the smart choice. These few months really taught us that you can plan anything you want, says Haas. But life has its own plans.

Go here to read the rest:

Emmys spotlight: Why 'Unorthodox' star Shira Haas believes in the power of change - Screen International

Helen Epstein: One real skill and one fake one helped my mother survive the Holocaust – Radio Prague

Posted By on July 4, 2020

Francis War, photo: Penguin Books

Your mother and her parents were sent to Terezn. I must say I learned a lot about Terezn from reading Francis War, for instance that the adults would sometimes adopt children who were unaccompanied. And your mother and her then husband adopted a child.

Right, they did. And that was one of the moving parts, for me, of my mothers memoir.

Because she was a young women then she was 23, 24 she adopted a 12-year-old.

I was always curious about this person and when I was annotating and researching my mothers memoir I went online and asked on various Facebook groups if they had ever heard of this young, orphan girl in Terezn; her name was Gisela.

And much to my surprise somebody turned up with photographs of her, and they are in the book.

Another thing that also struck me about the life in Terezn is that Catholic masses were conducted there because I presume several or many of the interned prisoners had been baptised, as had your mum.

I think one of the unusual things about Czech Jews is how many of them, by the 1920s, were not only secular, but how many of them had converted to either Catholicism or Lutheranism, or the Czech church, because they no longer felt any attachment to Jewish tradition.

Yes. I think one of the unusual things about Czech Jews is how many of them, by the 1920s, were not only secular, but how many of them had converted to either Catholicism or Lutheranism, or the Czech church, because they no longer felt any attachment to Jewish tradition.

Here in the United States when Madeleine Albright came out as having Jewish heritage it was considered this huge scandal.

Nobody believed her when she said she didnt know she was Jewish, but in fact it was very common among Jews in Czechoslovakia in the 20s and 30s not to pay attention to their Jewish heritage.

One of the most powerful stories in the book is about Francis separation from her parents in Terezn. I guess they all knew they wouldnt see each other again. But then her parents learn that she has done something, done a switch, to try to help them, I presume. Could you tell us what she did?

Terezn, photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, public domain

It actually was in conjunction with my mothers and her parents arrest in Pankrc [prison].

They were arrested because somebody had been trading in jewelry; her boyfriends mother had been trading on the black market in jewelry and they were hauled in as a result of her doing so.

When my mother was released from Pankrc she went home and she went through her fathers desk, looking to see if there was any incriminating information about jewelry or anything else there.

And she found a vial of pills.

Both my grandparents apparently were suicidal quite dramatically suicidal and were always threatening to kill themselves.

So my mother took the pills and took them to a pharmacist and found out that they were indeed cyanide pills and she had them exchanged for saccharine pills.

Helen Epstein, photo: Epstanzer, CC BY-SA 4.0

Unfortunately, her father took these pills with him when they were deported, convinced that he had the means to kill himself.

And at the moment when they were separated at Terezn my grandparents were sent further east and my mother was meant to stay in Terezn with her husband my mother revealed to her father that she had done the substitution.

So their last time together was really marred by this terrible sense of betrayal that my grandfather felt.

Was that something she could ever get over? Its so unimaginable that somebody could go through that kind of experience.

It was a really, really horrendous, traumatic experience and I think she never got over the fact that she had denied her father control over his death.

In fact that story has haunted our family and I myself feel very strongly that I want to be in control of my death.

I have told my children this, I have told my husband this, and its very, very important to me because of what happened there.

Auschwitz, photo: archiv Yad Vashem, Public Domain

In the book, when your mum is transferred from Terezn to Auschwitz she switches to the third person. Instead of speaking in her voice, she tells the reader about the fate of prisoner A4116. Why do you think she did that?

I think that many people who have experienced trauma have experienced this state thats called disassociation, or splitting.

What that means is that when you are under great stress or in great danger, your consciousness just removes itself from your body and looks at yourself as though you were another person.

And thats what happened to my mother in Auschwitz.

Her cousin Kitty, who had preceded her to Auschwitz, had just told her what was going on there, that they were actually gassing and then burning human beings, and my mother was in such shock, and she had just been tattooed with the Auschwitz tattoo, and so she looked at her arm and looked at that number on her arm and as she did so, her arm became two arms and body became two bodies.

And for the rest of the book, for the rest of her memoir Francis War, she describes as prisoner A4116.

Czechs really stuck together. She was with a group of Czech women who stayed together, from Terezn to Auschwitz to Hamburg to Bergen-Belsen and were ultimately liberated by the British Army.

She doesnt go back to narrating in the first person until she wakes up after surviving typhus after being liberated by the British Army at Bergen-Belsen and only then does she return to herself.

Did she ever tell you about how she felt she had managed to survive? The things that she describes in the book are beyond hellish. Obviously there was a good degree of luck but did she ever tell you what it was about her personality that helped her to get through that hell?

No, I dont think she ever told me one thing. But there were very many, many things.

The first very important for Czech Jews was that the Czechs really stuck together.

Her real skill was that she could sew anything. That was an incredibly valuable skill, because not only was she assigned to workshop duty she was assigned to workshops, which definitely prolonged her life.

She was with a group of Czech women who stayed together, from Terezn to Auschwitz to Hamburg to Bergen-Belsen and were ultimately liberated by the British Army.

And these women had incredible relationships with each other. Some of them were related to each other, as my mother was with her cousin Kitty, some of them were just good friends, some of them made friends in the camps.

They really supported each other. When one was down, the other was up, and they really shared things with each other both material and spiritual things.

Another big factor was that my mother had one real skill and one fake skill.

Her real skill was that she could sew anything.

Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz (in the middle), photo: Karl-Friedrich Hcker/Yad Vashem, Public Domain

In the camps that was an incredibly valuable skill, because not only was she assigned to workshop duty she was assigned to workshops, which was indoor activity, which definitely prolonged her life.

And also outside of her official work she could turn things into clothes, or she could repair things. That was a valued activity that she could exchange for other services or goods, like bread.

But her second skill, which was totally made up, was because her father was an electrical engineer, she had grown up with a lot of electrical equipment in the house.

Her father had always treated her like a boy, and instead of playing with dolls he gave her electrical equipment to play with.

So when she was selected for work camp by Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz, she was asked what her profession was. And she had the guts and the presence of mind to say, Im an electrician.

That wouldnt fool me, and I dont understand how it could have fooled Dr. Mengele in 1944. However, it did and she was registered as an electrician.

Bergen-Belsen, photo: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

And when she was sent to work camp in Hamburg, she actually worked as an electrician.

For me some of the funniest parts of my mothers book are her descriptions of doing electrical work, without a clue as to how it should be done.

She was saved by the British at Bergen-Belsen. But it must have been quite touch and go, because she had typhus at that stage. I presume she might have died if they had come even a few weeks later?

Correct. She was ill for at least a month and finally she came out of whatever it was she was in; I dont know if it was a coma or whether she was just completely out.

At any rate, she was saved and she recuperated under the surveillance of the British Army, for which her cousin Kitty was an interpreter, and eventually my mother was too.

They stayed there until August of 1945 and didnt return to Prague until then.

My mother was very, very elated to return to Prague and she was devastated by what she found there. First of all, her parents were dead. Second of all, her husband was dead.

How did she find the return to Prague?

My mother was very, very elated to return to Prague and she was devastated by what she found there.

First of all, her parents were dead. Second of all, her husband was dead. All three had essentially been murdered. Many of her friends were dead. She had no place to live.

Her salon, the business that she and her mother had conducted since my grandmother founded it in 1920, was completely gone. Their sewing machines, all their equipment, their material everything was gone.

When she went to visit people with whom they had stashed precious things books, glass, carpets, clothing sometimes people would return these things to her, and some.

And other people would just pretend that they had never received these things.

She describes this peculiar sensation that she had when had dinner with old friends and they would serve the dinner on china that had belonged to her mother, and on a tablecloth that belonged to her mother. And they really didnt seem to realise her discomfort with this.

Kurt Epstein, photo: public domain

At the insistence of your father [Kurt Epstein], who was also a survivor, your parents moved to the US in 1948. Did they ever see Prague again?

My father never returned to Czechoslovakia.

First of all, we had very little money in America. Czechs have this idea that people emigrate to America and become rich. Well, my father was unemployed for a decade.

My mother supported the family as a dressmaker and we really had no money at all, so there was no question of travel. That was the first thing.

But the second thing was that my father was from Roudnice nad Labem. He was very, very much a son of Roudnice and he was an Olympic athlete who had represented Czechoslovakia [in water polo], so he was very, very tied to the Czech nation. He was considered a Czech patriot.

So after the war he went back to Roudnice and HE was so devastated that he said he could never return to Czechoslovakia.

However, my mother in 1964 received German reparation money and she took it and went to visit her cousin Kitty in Prague.

Your mum wrote the book that became Francis War in the 1970s but its only recently come out in the UK, the US, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is coming out in several other countries later in the year. Why is it only being published now?

Photo: Facebook of Stolpersteine Prague

Im not really sure. I think in 1974, when she wrote it, it was so unconventional, so ahead of its time. My mother was extremely candid about everything, including love and sex, and she was also candid about the degree of Jewishness that she grew up with.

I think when an agent sent out the manuscript in America in the early 1970s the mostly male editors must have been offended by the way she talked about sex and the way she talked about being Jewish.

Because she was a Holocaust survivor who had been baptised and there was no room for that concept in peoples minds.

In general, women writing about the camps did not do very well in book sales initially. There were maybe 10 memoirs by women published in the late 40s and early 1950s that sold anything.

In the United States in particular it was very, very difficult for women survivors to have a voice.

I saw a previous interview with you in which you said that sometimes during the Holocaust daughters would sometimes trade sex just to keep their mothers alive.

Because it was very hard to survive the camps, if you were over 40 years old, many daughters just bonded tightly with their mothers and saved their mothers really by establishing relationships with their guards or with kapos.

Right. I dont know how prevalent this is across Europe, but I have been struck by how many mother-daughter pairs I see in Czech families.

Because it was very hard to survive the camps, if you were over 40 years old, many daughters just bonded tightly with their mothers and saved their mothers really by establishing relationships with their guards or with kapos.

And via this arrangement, whether it was overtly sexual or covertly sexual or platonic, several women managed to save their mothers.

My mother actually did not exercise any critical judgement about this. She thought that it was the obvious thing to do if you had your mother with you, as she did not. And this is what you did because you could save a life this way.

In this video testimony, Franci Rabinek Epstein, who died in the United States in 1989, describes an encounter with the notorious Dr. Mengele during an Auschwitz selection.

Excerpt from:

Helen Epstein: One real skill and one fake one helped my mother survive the Holocaust - Radio Prague

How the ADL went from working with Facebook to boycotting it – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on July 4, 2020

It was when Mark Zuckerberg said he would allow Holocaust denial on his platform that the Anti-Defamation League realized its partnership with Facebook wasnt working.

The social media giant and the Jewish civil rights group had been working together for years to curb hate speech online. In October 2017, Facebookheadlined a new ADL initiativeto start a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab in collaboration with Silicon Valleys biggest companies.

Then, nine months later, Zuckerbergtold the tech site Recodethat while he personally found Holocaust denial deeply offensive, he said, I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.

People who monitor anti-Semitism criticized Zuckerberg for what they saw as undeservedly giving anti-Semites the benefit of the doubt as if they were making an innocent mistake rather than propagating a deliberate lie. Thats when the ADL realized that Facebook wasnt going to change on its own and needed to be pressured.

Holocaust denial is somethingthat weve been talking to Facebook about forI think its11 years at this point, Daniel Kelley, associate director of the ADLs Center for Technology and Society, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Weve told them Holocaust denial is hate. It is not misinformation. And they have not only not changed, but in several instances doubled down on treating Holocaust denial as someformof misinformation.

So the ADL has changed tacks as Facebook, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives.

After years of seeing the largest social network in the world as a partner, it is now treating Facebook as an adversary. That shift has culminated in an ADL-led campaignurging companies to stop advertisingon Facebook for the month of July in collaboration with the NAACP and other civil rights groups.

The campaign has attracted a growing list of leading brand names. More than 230 companies have signed onto the pledge, and last week Facebooks stock dipped more than 8%, though it has since rebounded.

Apparently shaken by the boycott, Zuckerberg has announced a series of changes to Facebooks hate speech policies, which he said come directly from feedback from the civil rights community. He also pledged to meet with the organizers of the boycott.

Facebooks changes include labeling posts regarding voting access, flagging posts that target immigrants, banning members of the far-right antigovernmentBoogaloo movementand placing warnings on hateful or false posts from public figures that the network still feels are newsworthy.

Im committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues, because I believe we can make more progress when we hear each other, Zuckerberg wrote Friday in a Facebook post. But I also stand against hate, or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and were committed to removing that no matter where it comes from.

Those moves have not lessened the ADLs commitment to pressuring the company, which makes nearly its entire $70 billion in annual revenue through ads.

Facebook says it will take meaningful steps to address the hate on its platform, Greenblatttweetedafter the announcement. Weve been down this road. Dont let them refuel for another hate-filled trip.

Fighting tech companies is a change for Greenblatt, who came to the ADL job in 2015 following a career as a social entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Greenblatt founded a bottled water company that donated a portion of its proceeds to clean-water access, as well as All for Good, an open-source platform that aggregated volunteer opportunities online.

The ADL had been pushing tech companies to get more serious about combating anti-Semitism for decades. Greenblatts predecessor, Abraham Foxman,complainedin a 2013 interview with JTA about the geniuses at Palo Alto and said, The providers need to take greater ownership. They dont want regulation.

Under Greenblatt, the ADL increased its focus on tech, and at first tried to curb online hate through partnership. The group expanded its presence in Silicon Valley in 2016 and founded the Center for Technology and Society in 2017 to combat cyberhate. Greenblatt said he hoped to collaborate even closer on the threat with the tech industry.

Later that year, the ADL announced its partnership with four tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter to create the Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. The idea was to work with the companies on technical solutions to improve detection and removal of hateful posts, with the ADL providing guidance on how to spot bigotry and address it.

But according to Kelley, the effort went nowhere. Facebook, he said, never acted on any of the advice provided by the ADL.

They were happy to sign onto a press release and to say, well, were working with ADL. We did have several meetings, Kelley said. Its the same story of us coming to the meeting with real ideas for how to approach the problems on their platform and them walking away not promising anything. We tried to work with them.

Facebook did not respond to an email request for comment. But the company has disputed that it has a poor record on addressing hateful posts. It points to arecent studyfrom the European Union showing that Facebook is the quickest among the major social media platforms in addressing notifications of hate speech coming from European users. It found that Facebook assessed 96% of the notifications of hate speech within 24 hours, compared to 76.6% for Twitter. Facebook removed 87.6% of the flagged content, compared to 35.9% for Twitter.

But Kelley said that while Facebook does release transparency reports, it does not give outside researchers access to the data, unlike Twitter. So he said theres no real way to confirm Facebooks claims of transparency.

All these statistics are not vetted by, or verified by, any third party, he said, adding later that The ability to do real research into the nature of hate on Facebook is extremely limited.

As months and then years passed, activists in Myanmar and elsewhere were complaining that Facebook was allowing public officials toencourage human rights violations. In 2018, the shooter at the New Zealand mosques livestreamed the massacre on Facebook.

But while Facebook made some modifications to its hate speech policies, it did not appear to change course philosophically. In October, Zuckerberg said in anaddress at Georgetown Universitythat he was proud that our values at Facebook are inspired by the American tradition, which is more supportive of free expression than anywhere else.

Using the speech, the Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen compared Zuckerberg to a restaurateur gladly serving neo-Nazis.

If he owned a fancy restaurant and four neo-Nazis came goose-stepping into the dining room and were talking loudly about wanting to kill Jewish scum, would he serve them an elegant eight course meal? Or would tell them to get the f*** out of his restaurant? Cohen wrote. He has every legal right, indeed a moral duty, to tell them to get the f*** out of his restaurant.

A month later, the ADL gave Cohen its International Leadership Award. The comic actor used the opportunity to give akeynote addressto excoriate social media companies.

I say, lets also hold these companies responsible for those who use their sites to advocate for the mass murder of children because of their race or religion, he said. Maybe its time to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the CEOs of these companies: You already allowed one foreign power to interfere in our elections, you already facilitated one genocide in Myanmar, do it again and you go to jail.

A wrinkle in this story came a few weeks before Cohens speech. Following the October attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, the ADL accepted a $2.5 million donation from Facebooks COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Greenblatt said, upon accepting the donation, that he was grateful for her commitment to fighting hate in all of its forms.

Sandbergpostedon Facebook that It means so much to me to be able to support this vital work at this critical moment.

Facebooks mostly hands-off approach to posts does have notable defenders.

David Hudson, an advocate of expansive First Amendment rights, said that free speech protections should be extended to Facebook because its size and breadth gives Facebook the power of a government.

Certain powerful private entities particularly social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others can limit, control, and censor speech as much or more than governmental entities, hewrotefor the American Bar Associations Human Rights magazine. A society that cares for the protection of free expression needs to recognize that the time has come to extend the reach of the First Amendment to cover these powerful, private entities that have ushered in a revolution in terms of communication capabilities.

But Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, who spoke out against Zuckerbergs remarks on Holocaust denial, said a boycott was the right way to go.

Facebook is a private entity and no private entity is obligated to post hate speech, she said. Generally I dont like boycotts, but if this is the only thing to which Facebook is going to respond, then you have no other choice. You can choose where you put your money.

This year, intestimony to Congress, Greenblatt cited his work in Silicon Valley in calling on tech companies to work harder. He called tech an amplifier, an organizer, and a catalyst for some of the worst types of hate in our society, and said Facebook and Twitter need to apply the same energy to protecting vulnerable users that they apply to protect their profits.

Despite the measures Facebook has taken, the ADL says that hasnt happened. And thats why, after years of trying to collaborate with Facebook, the ADL is now trying to disrupt its revenue stream in the hopes of forcing change.

Theres a common understanding that Facebook is a company that puts revenue above all else, but I think this is a very clear-cut example, the ADLs Kelley said. All of these changes, the minor tweaks that Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday, were things that the civil rights community have been asking for for years, in addition to larger structural changes to the platform.

It took a massive pause on advertisement by major companies to get them to move an inch.

Read more:
How the ADL went from working with Facebook to boycotting it - The Jewish News of Northern California

Facebook is working to persuade advertisers to abandon their boycott. So far, they aren’t impressed. –

Posted By on July 4, 2020

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