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Blue and White leaders divided over Netanyahu’s proposal – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on December 14, 2019

The leaders of the Blue and White party are in disagreement as the Knesset is set to be dissolved and some members of the party wish to explore the possibility of forming a unity government.

Kan 11 News reported on Sunday evening that MK Gabi Ashkenazi is pressuring his colleagues in the party leadership to consider Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's proposal to form a unity government.

A source in the party said that Ashkenazis biggest opponent is MK Yair Lapid who strongly opposes the idea and is vetoing any contacts with the Likud.

Blue and White responded to the report and said, "Blue and White is united in an attempt to prevent Netanyahu from dragging the State of Israel into unnecessary elections for the third time."

Meanwhile, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz spoke about the political situation on Sunday and said he had a moral problem in reaching a compromise with Netanyahu.

"I recognize many people in recent days who believe that corruption can be forgiven, for political and other reasons. The support for a diplomatic and political path has blinded some of the people who are seeking to protect the Prime Minister from public criticism. We must not agree to this. This was wrong at other times, and it is also wrong these days, Gantz said at the Makor Rishon conference.

"Part of the perception of the deep partnership between the camps in Israel should be that opposing corruption should not belong to one particular side. Standing against leadership that leads in unworthy ways must not stem from a political position. The demand for clean leadership must be part of the common story of us all," he added.

I do not rejoice over Netanyahus legal situation. I worked with him as Chief of Staff, and we looked each other in the eye hundreds of times, and we knew how to make difficult decisions for the security of the State of Israel. I remind Netanyahu that despite his rights, and he has many, the State of Israel was strong before him - internally as well as externally. I deeply disapprove of a leader who exaggerates his name, and diminishes those who came before him or whoever comes after him."

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Blue and White leaders divided over Netanyahu's proposal - Arutz Sheva

Around the world in 11 puddings – SBS

Posted By on December 14, 2019

Australian sourdough bread pudding

Maybe the bread pudding started with the British, but Australia has beautiful bakeries, and we all love sourdough! So what do we do when it goes stale or we have off-cuts? This is a great warming dessert or sliced and served with tea. Rich, flavoursome and very economical to make.

Savoury pudding? Absolutely! Very similar to the Ashkenazi Jewish dish kugel, from which it is almost certainly derived, it is also typically made from potato. It is important that you use particularly starchy ones here if you cant find any, then add some cornflour (cornstarch) to the mix as its important that everything binds together well. Commonly served with apple or lingonberry preserves, this also tastes delicious reheated.

Known asSaint Johns pasta pudding, this dessert from Ibiza is synonymous with the midsummer celebration of Sant Joan at the end of June. Theres even a small white-washed village called Sant Joan de Labritja.This pasta-based version of rice pudding was originally made to use up homemade pasta before the heat of summer spoiled the batch. It used to be served with water, as milk was considered a luxury, but thankfully, nowadays, milk is the standard, which makes this a much creamier and more delicate treat.

This chilled rice pudding is spiced with the classic Lebanese aromatics of cinnamon, nutmeg, caraway and anise! It can be made ahead of time, which is handy for entertaining. Serve with strong black coffee or tea to balance out the creamy sweetness.

Served warm or cold, these sweet Sri Lankan puddings are perfect as a year-round snack. Enjoy it like the Sri Lankans with an aromatic spiced tea as an afternoon pick-me-up!

Tiramisu is easily the most exported Italian dessert. Many dont know that it was first devised in Treviso, at the restaurant Le Becchiere. A recent dispute between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia has put a question mark on its actual authorship, stating that there are actually four original versions: two Venetian (from the Treviso area), and two from the neighbouring region, and that all are legit.For tiramisu, Italian-style percolated (Moka pot) coffee is best. A concentrated cafetire brew works, too, while filter or instant coffee wont stand up to the task.

Every single Cantonese restaurant in the world has mango pudding on the menu. This recipe from Dan Hong gives this classic more texture and puts his own stamp on it by adding tapioca, those mouth-popping balls that you eat with frozen yoghurt, fresh pomelo and mango, as well as passionfruit granita to accentuate the tropical fruit vibe.

This traditional English pudding is quintessential nursery food nurturing, soul-warming and economical. Feel free to replace the mixed berry jam with raspberry, plum or strawberry to ensure the sweet but subtle middle layer suits your tastes.

Derived in name and form from German kugel puddings, the Jewish kugel, a bake of various grated vegetables and egg, is a popular side dish made during festive holidays. For Passover Seder, grain products of noodles or pasta are often replaced with matzo meal.

Vegetable pudding (kugel)

Often served on Good Friday, this golden Mexican bread pudding consists of chunks of bread soaked in a sweet sherry mixture, and topped with queso Oaxaca, a stringy Mexican cheese that is similar to mozzarella.

Bread pudding (capirotada)

South Africans are renowned for their sweet tooths and many different types of poedings (puddings) feature among their line-up of traditional desserts. This classic vinegar pudding is not nearly as sour as the name would suggest the vinegar (asyn) in the sugar syrup simply adds a nice balance in flavour and counteracts the intensity of the sweetness.

Vinegar pudding (asynpoeding)

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Around the world in 11 puddings - SBS

3 Hanukkah gifts for the liturgy lover in your life – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 14, 2019

For some people on your holiday shopping list, a standard gift just wont do it. Im talking about the erudite, shul-going Jew with shelves of Judaica and Jewish texts. For these discerning folks, I recommend three recent siddurs, each with unique features and looks: a practical, daily siddur, a new Renewal siddur and the worlds first egalitarian Sephardi siddur (my favorite).

For your woo-woo aunt in Berkeley, I recommend this new slim paperback volume with a vibrant cover that recalls the now-ubiquitous rainbow tallis made popular by Reb Zalman (of blessed memory). Given the enormous influence his memory and teachings hold in contemporary lefty American Judaism, its a surprise a siddur like this didnt already exist.

Reb Zalman, who founded the Jewish Renewal movement while living in the East Bay, approached prayer with head and heart, from the perspectives of textual tradition and radical creativity. In this siddur, both of those angles are present. In structure, editors Rabbis Emanuel Ben-David and David Zaslow present a complete, traditional service. But in place of typical translations, they offer Reb Zalmans soulful, often surprising poetic takes on the prayers.

One of the more uncommon inclusions is Kgavnah, an esoteric kabbalistic prayer about the mystery of Oneness that concludes Kabbalat Shabbat. Personally, Im enamored of Reb Zalmans translation of my favorite evening prayer, Maariv Aravim, about creation and the cosmos. His version begins: We connect with You Our God, Cosmic Majesty. You speak out pleasant evenings. In opening the gates of nighttime awareness, You help us understand the rhythms of time.

There are also a number of Reb Zalmans English-language meditative songs.

For the Renewal Jew or anyone who admires Reb Zalman, this siddur is a must.

When the Koren Sacks siddur was first introduced a decade ago, it immediately became the siddur of choice for Modern Orthodox Jews in America. It was the first English-language edition of the Israeli Koren Siddur. Like the Israeli edition, the Koren Sacks is beloved for its clear, modern translations; thoughtful, elegant layout; and use of Eliyahu Korens gorgeous proprietary Hebrew fonts. Sacks refers to the commentary included from former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

The Koren Shalem edition expands on the original Sacks by adding in the text of holiday Torah readings, full text of the five megillot and the like. (To be honest, its not as new as the others in my list. It came out in 2017.) It comes in multiple sizes, hard- and soft-cover editions and several cover colors. But heres the best part, the reason Im recommending this siddur: tabs!

For years, I have wondered why the compact, comprehensive siddurs marketed to daily daveners dont have little tabs to help users flip quickly to the service or section they need. Finally, my prayers have been answered. Koren continues to lead in user-friendly siddur design.

For the siddur power user in your life, this is the holiday gift for them.

This last one is my favorite new siddur in years, a must-have for any lover of Jewish liturgy. The sturdy hardcover volume the first ever gender-egalitarian Sephardi siddur is visually stunning inside and out. I was slack-jawed the first time I saw it. Editors Adam Zagoria-Moffet and Isaac Treuherz have created something truly special and unique.

Each two-page spread includes four columns of text: Hebrew, translation, transliteration and commentary. The text is presented in black and muted shades of red, blue-green and yellow, each indicating different emphases and aspects of the text. Small swoops hover over words where the worshipper should bow.

The aesthetic is almost like an illuminated manuscript, with subtle ornamental illustrations and borders throughout; its striking without detracting from the text. The Shema and Barchu pages in particular are vivid, creative delights.

As a Sephardi siddur, it includes a number of selections that will be unfamiliar to the experienced Ashkenazi davener (like myself), and are fun to discover as you flip through.

On the egalitarian front, it is a marvel. In addition to standard adjustments in wide use for decades, such as including the names of the matriarchs alongside the patriarchs, there are some up-to-the-minute new touches as well. In the translations, God is referred to exclusively with they/them/their gender-neutral pronouns. And, even more exciting, this is the first siddur to incorporate the suggestions of the Nonbinary Hebrew Project, which has put forth adaptations to Hebrews gendered grammar for use by gender-neutral speakers. For example, with the first-person prayer Modeh Ani, many siddurs offer modeh (masculine) and modah (feminine). But Siddur Masorti offers a third option, modet (gender-neutral).

I have only one complaint: The transliterations are overwrought. (See above: that upside down and backward e representing the Hebrew shva vowel in the siddurs title.)

Be warned: This is only Vol. 1 weekday prayers only. Im praying for the success of a second crowdfunding campaign so the editors can get to work on a second volume for Shabbat.

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3 Hanukkah gifts for the liturgy lover in your life - The Jewish News of Northern California

Native Earth Performing Arts to Present THIS IS HOW WE GOT HERE – Broadway World

Posted By on December 14, 2019

Native Earth Performing Arts will present its production of the 2018 Governor General-nominated play This Is How We Got Here, written and directed by Keith Barker, featuring Kristopher Bowman, Tamara Podemski, James Dallas Smith and Michaela Washburn on January 26-February 16, 2020.

Lucille, Paul, Liset, and Jim - best friends, sisters, spouses stumble in the dark one year after a tragic loss. They struggle to find each other again, until a mysterious fox shows up with a curious gift. Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Got Here is a complex and hopeful story of letting go.

"Entirely relatable, heart-wrenchingly frank, and dazzlingly honest. What makes it special is how deftly Barker navigates emotional sucker punches, while each of his characters deals with their own shortcomings and gifts, and utterly without judgement from the author." - Tara Beagan, acclaimed theatre artist and co-founder of ARTICLE 11.

The Algonquin Mtis playwright and director Keith Barker is a multi-awarding winning artist and the current Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, originally from Northwestern Ontario. He was the finalist for the Governor General Literary Award for English Drama for This Is How We Got Here, and won the Saskatchewan and Area Theatre Award for Excellence in Playwriting for his play, The Hours That Remain, as well as a Yukon Arts Award for Best Art for Social Change. This Is How We Got Here was recently produced at Magnus Theatre and was previously at SummerWorks in 2016 (Continuum Theatre/New Harlem Productions).

The production features an incredible cast of Indigenous performers, including television and film actor Kristopher Bowman (Haudenosaunee) who recently finished his third season at the Shaw Festival in dark British farce The Ladykillers and Mae West's Sex, and will be returning next year for Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms and George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple. He also wrapped up his latest feature film role as Detective Doyle in the 80's set comedy/horror Vicious Fun.

Tamara Podemski (Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi) is an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist, whose film and TV credits include: Dance Me Outside, North of 60 (CBC), and Heartland (CBC). She is most notable a member of the Original Canadian cast and the Broadway Company of Rent, and received the Special Jury Prize for Acting for her role in Four Sheets to the Wind at the Sundance Film Festival. Her most recent theatre performance was in Colleen Wagner's Governor General Award-Winning play The Monument, directed by Jani Lauzon (Factory Theatre). Tamara currently stars in the CBC primetime drama Coroner, as well as the HBO comedy-thriller Run, both set to air in 2020.

James Dallas Smith (Anishinaabe) most recently appeared in Daniel David Moses' play Almighty Voice and His Wife, directed by Jani Lauzon at Soulpepper Theatre. Other theatre credits include: Ipperwash (Blyth Festival; Native Earth), Our Town, King Lear (Soulpepper), Drawer Boy (Centaur), Hard Times For These Times (National Arts Centre), Drawer Boy (Centaur), as well as five times at Native Earth's Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival.

Michaela Washburn (Mtis) was also in Almighty Voice and His Wife (Soulpepper), as well as Guarded Girls (Tarragon/Green Light Arts), Grace (Nightwood), Animal Farm (Soulpepper) and Confederation Series (VideoCabaret, Soulpepper), for which she won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Actress. She will be performing this summer in the Stratford Festival production of Tomson Highway's The Rez Sisters. She was also nominated for the Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award and K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Theatre.

Native Earth Performing Arts PresentsTHIS IS HOW WE GOT HEREWritten & Directed by Keith Barker

Starring Kristopher Bowman, Tamara Podemski,James Dallas Smith, Michaela Washburn

Lighting Designer Jennifer LennonSet Designer Shannon Lea DoyleSound Designer Christopher StantonCostume Designer Isidra CruzStage Manager Heather ThompsonProduction Manager Suzie Balogh

Aki Studio, Daniels Spectrum585 Dundas Street East, Toronto

January 26-February 16, 2020OPENING NIGHT: Wednesday, January 29, 2020Tuesdays - Saturdays @ 8 pmSundays @ 2 pm

Tickets: $20-$30 | Previews: $15-$20 | Tuesdays Pay-What-You-CanAvailable online at, or by phone at 416.531.1402.

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Native Earth Performing Arts to Present THIS IS HOW WE GOT HERE - Broadway World

Bringing a Torah to Tanzania – The Jewish Standard

Posted By on December 14, 2019

How does it feel to give a sefer Torah to a Jewish community that needs it?

It would have to feel deeply moving, no matter where the community is.

But what if that community is in Tanzania?

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What if its a very small Jewish community, remote from the rest of the Jewish world? What if the last maybe the only sefer Torah it had owned was burned deliberately in the 1970s, destroyed along with the ark that held it and the synagogue that held the ark? What if that fire was set at the suggestion if not the actual command of the countrys government, made up then of zealous, missionary-minded fundamentalist Christians?

What if the scattered community had been brought together only recently, and had longed for a Torah scroll?

Although she couldnt have imagined what it would feel like to bring that community a sefer Torah before it happened, now Stefanie Diamond of Teaneck knows exactly how it feels, and that feeling leaves her feeling transformed.

Last month, Ms. Diamond, who is a professional photographer, and her husband, Matt Diamond, joined a group of 36 other people, led by her brother-in-law, Rabbi Eytan Kenter of Kehillat Beth Israel in Ottawa, in bringing a Torah scroll to the Jewish community of Arusha, Tanzania.

The community and its visitors, above. (STEFANIE DIAMOND)

While everyone suspected that the trip would be emotional, none of the travelers including Rabbi Kenters wife, Staci Zemlak-Kenter, Ms. Diamonds sister had any idea of how profoundly moving, how absolutely world-shaking the act of handing over that Torah scroll would be.

The North American part of the story began in Ottawa. Rabbi Kenters Conservative shul, within the city limits, is the result of a shul merger in 2016, and those synagogues, too, were the results of earlier mergers, as the Jewish population of Canadas capital city moved out to the suburbs, or even farther away. Long story short, we found that we were in possession of 34 Torah scrolls, Rabbi Kenter said. Most of them were somewhere between 30 and 50 years old, and few of them had any documentation or provenance.

Also, they were not all kosher, Rabbi Kenter said. When I arrived that also was in 2016, as he moved from being associate rabbi in a shul in Atlanta to undertake the responsibilities of being the senior rabbi for the first time I saw an overwhelming number of them awkwardly stacked on a table, one on top of another.

So I called Sofer on Site, a Miami-based company that includes diagnosing and restoring sifrei Torah as part of its mission, to find out how many of them are kosher, and how much it would cost to repair them.

Sofer on Sites Rabbi Moshe Druin flew to Ottawa, looked at the cache of Torah scrolls, and says, I cant help but notice that you have 12 spaces in the ark. What is your plan for the rest of the Torahs?, Rabbi Kenter reported.

The shul was decorated as it is for the High Holidays.

And I said that I would love to find emerging Jewish communities that couldnt afford to buy their own Torah, and donate them. Rabbi Kenter hoped to develop an ongoing relationship with one or more of those communities. In my head, those would be in places like Windsor, a city not far away in Ontario, or, say, a womens minyan in Toronto.

But six to eight weeks later I got a phone call from Rabbi Druin. He says I got an email from a gentleman in Tanzania who is looking for a Torah scroll for his community. He wanted to know if we had one.

Rabbi Druin said I dont have one, but I think I might know of someplace that does.

So Rabbi Kenter decided to give a sefer Torah now repaired, made kosher, and ready for use to the Jews of Arusha. His board agreed You cant dispose of an asset without approval, and we got overwhelming approval, he said.

But you cant just FedEx a Torah, Rabbi Kenter continued. And we wanted to develop a relationship with the community we were giving it to. So he assembled a group of people most from his shul, some local friends of friends, and some from Manhattan, some from Washington, D.C., and his in-laws, Stefanie and Matt Diamond, from Teaneck. Most are Conservative, but the group ran the gamut of Jewish life; some, like Matt, are Orthodox, some Reform, and one is a non-Jew married to a Jew. And they ranged in age too, from their 20s to their 70s; one woman is in her 80s. That was exactly what he wanted, Rabbi Kenter said; If we are trying to develop a meaningful relationship with the community, the bigger the group, the better.

The flight to Tanzania was long; the Canadian travelers went first to Toronto, then to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and finally to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha. The city is the gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, so its a major tourist hub. On all the flights, the Torah scroll, protected in a red duffel bag, had its own seat, between Eytan and Staci. Belted in securely, it enjoyed its own kosher meal, Rabbi Kenter said.

And then we landed in Arusha, made our way through customs, and Yehuda and a couple of other community members were there waiting for us. Yehuda is Yehuda Amir Kahalani, a lawyer and a college professor; he is also the leader of the community, the son of the last leader, and the man most responsible for the ingathering of that group from the places to which theyd been scattered over the last generation or two. (Hes also got another name, Peres Parpaih, which he uses professionally. Its not been safe to be openly Jewish in Tanzania for much of his life.)

Thats when we did the official handing-over of the Torah, Rabbi Kenter said. The way he held it when we gave it to him it was like when you have a newborn child. Its joy and also panic. His smile is humongous but hes also clutching the Torah with both hands, like hes afraid hell drop it. When he went home, he didnt want to put it down.

Everyone was crying. We were all super-emotional about this moment of transition.

But one of the most extraordinary revelations of this trip was that every moment that you thought would be the biggest moment there was another one that felt even bigger.

Rabbi Eytan Kenter reads from the Torah he brought on Thursday. (STEFANIE DIAMOND)

Some history might be in order here.

The Jewish community in Arusha is descended from Yemenite and Moroccan Jews who went to eastern Africa in the 1880s. There was a good number of Yemenite and Omani Jews in Tanganyika, Mr. Kahalani wrote in an email. (Tanganyika was the name of an earlier state; most of it is now Tanzania.) Among them were Jews from Mawza and Sanaa, as well as Jews who immigrated from Ethiopia down south up to Tanzania. In the 1930s, more than 5,000 Polish Jews who came as refugees also added to the number of Jews of Arusha.

Our grandparents first arrived to Arusha from Zanzibar more than 150 years ago, arrived to Zanzibar from Sanaa and Mawza in Yemen, arrived in Zanzibar as traders and later to the mainland seeking for kudus horns for shofars to be sold to Yemenite Jews, later they discovered that there are some Moroccan Jews of Arush families and Luria, hence had to stay and continued the trade, after the First World War, his email continued. Some later left the country and some remained, another waves left soon after independence, yet some remain.

Since then there was also some Beta Israel from Ethiopia, it was easy some how to get wives and husbands, but most Ethiopians also left. Later on majority went undercover and practiced Judaism secretly, some assumed Maasai names and learned even their language as a cover, yet they continued practicing kosher and observed Shabbat and brits milah. (The Maasai are a large tribe; Maasai people are native to Kenya and Tanzania, and they are well known outside there for their distinctive clothing and customs.)

Since then, he continued in his email, the community shrank, and it was scattered in response to the persecutions of the 1970s, but at least some of its members never stopped practicing Judaism, and never stopped hoping for the freedom to be openly Jewish, and to reconnect.

Mr. Kahalani and his wife, Efrat Yosef, are the communitys leaders. Theyre both well educated; both left Africa for college, and met there, Ms. Diamond said. (Ms. Yosefs public name is Lilian Looloitai. In that other identity, she is the managing director of a nonprofit agency called CORDS, which works with rural Maasai villages in Arusha, helping with sustainable development, land-use planning, and womens rights, among other pressing issues.)

Efrat Yosef stands between sisters Staci Zemlak-Kenter, left, and Stefanie Diamond.

They were both born Jewish, and they met at one of the universities, where Efrat was studying and Yehuda had gone to visit a cousin, she said. Efrat met Yosef, and he was wearing a Jewish star, and she asked him what that was. He said Im wearing this because I am Jewish, and she said Oh, Im Jewish too. The question was a test, and he passed it.

The older generations had kept in touch after they were dispersed, Ms. Diamond said, but not all the younger people knew where everyone else was, or even who they were. I heard about another man who didnt know he was Jewish. He knew that his family didnt work on Saturday, and they only ate vegetarian. His family always told him that when he went to a friends house and someone offers you meat, dont eat it. And there were some days of the year when he wasnt allowed to do anything; later, he realized that those days were Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

But Mr. Kahalanis father, who died in about 2010, didnt let his son forget who he was or where he came from. On his deathbed, Yehuda said, he asked his father What do you want from me? How can I live up to your expectations? What can I do to carry on your work?

And his father said I want three things. I want you to gather all the Jews who were dispersed and bring them back. I want you to get a sefer Torah and Yehuda, who had never seen one, thought How would I do that? and I want you to move to Israel.

Yehuda told us this story, with tears in his eyes, Ms. Diamond said. You have helped me fulfill my fathers wishes. I never thought that I would see a sefer Torah.

On the question of whether the community is halachically Jewish a question that it seems callous to ask but incompetent not to ask Rabbi Kenter explained what he knew. Tanzania was a British colony; once the community was discovered, it was accepted into the U.K.-based Commonwealth Jewish Council. Yehuda and Efrat had their bona fides verified by the Council, Rabbi Kenter said. And a lot of the others are all relatives. It didnt matter to us. Many of the community members grandparents had been forced to convert to Islam or Christianity, but they retained their own true identities, hidden under the assumed ones, and they have the family stories and ancestral Judaica to show it.

Meanwhile, back in Arusha, the North Americans who had given the sefer Torah, along with suitcases full of mezzuzot, tefillin, talessim, siddurim, machzorim, books (many childrens books donated by PJ Library), and other necessary Jewish objects to the community on Wednesday, went back the next day to welcome the scroll with a Hachnasat sefer Torah.

The visitors brought children books donated by PJ Library. (STEFANIE DIAMOND)

Our bus pulled up, and we got off on a dirt road, and we heard them singing, Ms. Diamond said. They were walking down the road with a chuppah a tallis on four poles singing and dancing.

They still were carrying the Torah in the bag it had traveled in. They said that they were afraid to take it out of the bag. They didnt know what to do with it. They didnt want to do anything wrong. And Eytan said This is yours. Do with it as you wish.

And they started to sing the first song. They sang Shalom Aleichem. It was one of the only one or two Hebrew songs they knew. Efrat wrote a song in Swahili the local language welcoming us to their home, thanking us for the gift. She sang as the women threw rose petals at us. They took the Torah out of the bag, and the men each took turns carrying it.

And then we marched into the shul. We sang Etz Chayim. We took the lead then; they sang along with us, with tears running down their faces, and the biggest smiles.

Yehuda said that we have heard about Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, where the Israelites received the Torah, for all our lives. This moment is our Mount Sinai. We have now experienced what Moses felt.

That day, Eytan opened the Torah and layned, read from it, for the first time. To see all these children standing around, with their eyes so big in their heads.

Mr. Kahalani studies the Torah portion every week through an online organization called Partners in Torah; it provides learners with study partners, who work together by phone or some form of videoconferencing. Most of the rest of the community know very little about how to practice Judaism, but they want to learn. Theyve been using Xeroxed, stapled-together booklets as siddurim. Now they have the real thing.

Children look out of the window of their shul in Arusha. (STEFANIE DIAMOND)

The next day, Friday, the North Americans toured Arusha. That afternoon, they moved to a hotel within walking distance of the community. That evening, they went to the shul. Yehuda said to Eytan, Rabbi, lead us, and Eytan said It is your shul. You lead us.

Yehuda started singing the kaballat Shabbat in an African chant. I lost it. I cried. As she recounted the story, from her home in Teaneck, a few weeks later, Ms. Diamond began to cry again, just a little bit. This was the first moment when I really realized that across the globe we look different, we do some things differently, but at the heart of it there is so much that is the same. The words are the same. They are our words.

They have their own heritage; they were singing a tribal African chant. And my husband said that you can hear the Arabic call to prayer that you can hear in Jerusalems Old City in their chant too.

That blew me away it was so powerful.

And then Yehuda said, Eytan we want to learn from you, so we sang our tunes. And then Efrat cooked dinner for all of us. The 38 foreigners joined about 25 Tanzanians Efrat and Yehuda had to turn people away, Ms. Diamond said, because there just wasnt any more room for any more people.

On Saturday morning we walked to shul, and we sat all interspersed with them, she continued. My husbnd was sitting between a woman and a little boy, showing them where we were in the siddur. Neither of them could read a word of Hebrew, yet they wanted to see those words.

The children sat in shul for three hours, and they didnt make a sound. And when they held up the Torah for hagbah, the looks on their faces

Each of the men who wanted one had an aliyah, Ms. Diamond said. It was their bar mitzvah for each of them. We didnt realize that wed be doing that, we hadnt thought it through, but what an opportunity it was.

We layned, because they didnt have the skills to do it. We called each one up and Eytan said the words of the brachot, three words at a time, and they would repeat them back, and at the end of the aliyah we said the Shehecheyanu the prayer you say for something new and sang Siman Tov, as you do at a bar mitzvah. The Shehecheyanu and the Simon Tov didnt get old.

I asked Efrat if she wanted an aliyah, and she said no, Ms. Diamond continued. But in the end she dressed the Torah, readied it to be returned to the ark. And how cool would it be if this was her role every week to dress the Torah, or to have the girls dress it. To get to be more hands-on with the Torah.

Rabbi Kenter is Conservative; in his shul, women have aliyot and leyn. The customs in Arusha, however, are an amalgam of the ones the community inherited from their Mizrahi forebears and the ones they learned from the surrounding culture, not Rabbi Kenters. They are so isolated that they can do Jewish however they want to, Rabbi Kenter said. They also dont know what is possible. We were falling all over each other to be respectful to each other.

It is clear that there rarely is a minyan, and they do not count women. If they were to count women, there would be a minyan. It became clear over the course of the weekend that they had no idea that there is such a thing as egalitarianism. What their relationship to it will be is something the community itself will have to figure out.

On Shabbat afternoon, some of the visitors, including Ms. Diamond, stayed; they talked to the adults and played with the children. One woman taught a Hebrew class and another led yoga on the lawn. For Mincha, the group took out the Torah, but they did not read from it. Eytan took it out, and opened it on the table, and gave a dvar Torah with it open, Ms. Diamond said. That was to make clear that there are precedents to be followed, and other precedents to be set. By them. They have a unique position, she said. As the only Jews in the area, however they do what they do is great. They have the opportunity to create Judaism for themselves in an authentic way. We wanted to be sure that we let them do it.

They put off making Havdalah until it was very late, well after Shabbat was over, Ms. Diamond said. No one wanted it to end. And there were no dry eyes.

The trip was planned in two parts first the handing over the Torah, the second a safari. If you are going to schlep all the way to Arusha, you have to stay for at least a week, Rabbi Kenter said. Its more than a days worth of flying, plus all the time hanging around airports, waiting to board. And we couldnt impose on the Jewish community there all that time. And given that Arusha is the gateway to the Serengeti, a safari seemed a no-brainer. At first, in fact, Rabbi Kenter said, it seemed that the Torah part would be more or less the virtuous vegetable, and the safari would be the dessert. And then it turned out to be dessert and dessert.

Or, as Ms. Diamond put it, we were leaving for safari the next morning, and I said to my husband I am so spiritually fulfilled and empowered that I could leave without even seeing an elephant.And then I saw my first elephant, and I said I was kidding.

In fact, she and Rabbi Kenter agreed, the safari, which included large amounts of jaw-dropping beauty, was the perfect complement to the emotional intensity of the first part of the trip.

After they left the Jewish community, the North American visitors went to the Serengeti on safari.

Ms. Diamonds photographs show some of the extraordinary beauty of her trip. The Serengeti is by far the most magical place I have ever seen, she said. The purity and strangeness of what they saw, combined with the emotion of the visit to Arusha, worked to forge the 38 visitors into a tight unit.

Scenes from the safari, another profound experience for the travelers. (STEFANIE DIAMOND)

They plan to work together to help the Jewish community of Arusha, to keep in touch, to help, and to return.

I realize that we did more than bring them an actual physical sefer Torah, she said. What we did was continue to let them live as Jews. To validate them. Remember, she is a photographer. What we did was really see them, she said.

Her brother-in-law agrees that the visit was transformational not only for the Tanzanians but for the North Americans as well. This was more than a once-in-a-lifetime experience, he said. It has not happened before, and it cannot happen again.

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Bringing a Torah to Tanzania - The Jewish Standard

New NY Staging Of Yiddish Operetta ‘The Sorceress’ Is Sure To Charm – Jewish Week

Posted By on December 14, 2019

As the lights dim, the spell is cast. The Sorceress is back, and speaking her mother tongue in lower Manhattan. Written by Avrom Goldfaden in 1878, the operetta was the first Yiddish production in America in 1882. This month, New York audiences are experiencing it just as it was 140 years ago or at least in a close approximation.

Through Dec. 29 at The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (which hangs its hat at the Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust), the classic Yiddish operetta creeps out of the history books and back onto the stage.

Its a simple tale about good and evil, about community and perseverance. Its filled with catchy tunes, dazzling costumes and no shortage of schtick. And its a whole lot of fun.

The charming fairy tale has been revived many times over the years (and is regularly produced in Hebrew in Israel). But this is the first such large-scale staging in Yiddish in America for 80 years.

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How the show got here in the first place is remarkable. A 14-year-old immigrant named Boris Tomashefsky was working in a cigarette factory and heard co-workers humming some lively tunes. When he asked about the songs, they said it was from a show about a young girl whose wicked stepmother uses witchcraft to steal the family fortune and have her abducted. Tomashefsky was so intrigued, he worked to bring a production over from Great Britain. With Jewish immigration exploding in New York, it was perfect timing for a Big Bang of what we now call The Yiddish Theater.

The cast of The Sorceress, with Lexi Rabadi, Dani Apple and Lorin Zackular at top right. Courtesy of the Folksbiene via TOI

This particular production also has a remarkable provenance. Original materials for the show sheet music, staging notes and other papers at the point of near-disintegration were part of the famous Paper Brigade of Vilnas secret mission to rescue manuscripts from Nazi destruction. An effort led by the NYTF restored these documents that were in the flagship American institute for Yiddish research, the YIVO archive.

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is coming off its most successful year in recent memory, with their production of Fiddler on the Roof leaving the nest and flourishing uptown for the entirety of 2019. (It closes in the first week of January 2020, then will travel the world.) A lot of eyes, therefore, are on them for a follow-up.

The Sorceress is not exactly the home run that Fiddler on the Roof is, but then again, what is? That was one of the best musicals of all time in a once-in-a-lifetime package. This production is still a winner, not just for the historical aspects mentioned above, but for the energetic and creative way in which it is presented.

The story opens up with the evil title character working on behalf of a devious woman to bring tumult to a happy, wealthy family. (Whether or not she actually has supernatural powers remains ambiguous, but it wouldnt have been unbelievable to the more provincial audience members of the time.) With the matriarch dead, the usurper finds her way in, and the daughter, Mirele, soon finds herself in misery. A plan is hatched to have her kidnapped and sold into servitude.

Courtesy of the Folksbiene via TOI

The action moves from the upscale Eastern European parlors to a witches den to the shtetl marketplace (where there are marvelous songs about food), then on a boat on the Black Sea and finally an exotic coffee house in Istanbul. While the main characters (like the daughters heroic fiance) play this all as straight drama, theres a counterbalance of humor, oftentimes coming from the local street peddler who seems to always pop up when things get too heavy.

Despite the show taking place adjacent to a museum, this isnt exactly high art. It was popular entertainment of its day. Since the plot mechanics dont occupy too much of your mental capacity, you can focus on the language (oh, so that word means bird, eh?), the music, the performances and the sets. There are English and Russian supertitles projected above the gypsy caravan-like proscenium.

Without giving too much away about the plot, the shows director, Motl Didner (who is also associate artistic director of NYTF), notes how this is a uniquely Jewish fairy tale, with the villains getting their comeuppance by their own deeds.

The show was the first Yiddish production in America in 1882. Courtesy of the Folksbiene via TOI

In the non-Jewish world, Didner told me during a chat after the show, Hansel and Gretel shove the witch into the oven at the end. The Huntsman cuts open the wolf and releases Red Riding Hood. In the Jewish world its not the heroes who have to lower themselves to violence in order to prevail. He cites Haman hanging himself and Pharaoh initiating the worst plague by calling for Hebrew first-borns to be slaughtered.

Its an interesting point, and proof that any rich text can be scrutinized for deeper meaning. Especially one that has stood the test of time.

The Sorceress runs through Dec. 29 at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. In Yiddish with English and Russian subtitles. For tickets, visit

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New NY Staging Of Yiddish Operetta 'The Sorceress' Is Sure To Charm - Jewish Week

‘Miracle’ Door That Prevented Yom Kippur Massacre at German Synagogue to Become Work of Art – Algemeiner

Posted By on December 14, 2019

Flowers and candles are seen outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.

The enormous door at the entrance to the main synagogue in the central German city of Halle that withstood the neo-Nazi gunman who attempted to massacre worshipers on Yom Kippur this year is to be turned into a symbolic art object, the head of the Jewish community announced on Friday.

More than 50 people were attending services on Oct. 9 to mark Judaisms holiest day when the gunman Stephan Balliet tried to break into the building, in an attack that was livestreamed on the internet.

Foiled by the heavy security door to the synagogue, Balliet subsequently murdered a 40-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man who were in the vicinity of the building.

The transformation of the door into an art work was announced by the head of Halles Jewish community, Max Privorozki, who added that the exact nature and location of the project was still to be determined.

December 14, 2019 10:00 am

Maybe we will put the door in the courtyard outside, so that when you come to the synagogue, you can see how this door saved us, Privorozki said.

The door had previously been hailed as the miracle of Halle by Bishop Friedrich Kramer of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany. But other observers took a more critical perspective, arguing that the security doors effectiveness had masked the failure of German law enforcement agencies to properly protect the countrys Jewish communities.

Only one door prevented the death of 50 Jews in the middle of Germany on the most holy day of the Jewish calendar, Israels ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, commented in the wake of the attack.

According to the German news outlet Zeit on Friday, Halles Jewish community is now working with the police to coordinate new security measures for the synagogue.

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'Miracle' Door That Prevented Yom Kippur Massacre at German Synagogue to Become Work of Art - Algemeiner

President and CEO of JFNA Eric Fingerhut goes one-on-one with the CJN – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on December 14, 2019

Eric D. Fingerhut, president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, spoke about FedLab, the global Jewish agenda of JFNA, and his personal affiliations as a Jew, during a wide-ranging interview with the Cleveland Jewish News.

Fingerhut, who was in Cleveland on Dec. 5 to speak at the Jewish Family Service Associations 144th annual meeting, has been with JFNA since August after serving in the same position at Hillel International since August 2013,

Fingerhut is a Cleveland native, who grew up in University Heights and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in Cleveland Heights.

Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Fingerhut lived in Cleveland Heights, Mayfield Heights, Shaker Heights and University Heights and. He was a U.S. congressman and an Ohio senator. He also served as the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents in Columbus.

At the JFNA, Fingerhut presided over an intensive three-track workshop in Washington, D.C., called FedLab from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 for 900 invited volunteers and staff throughout the federation system.

CJN: How did FedLab go?

Fingerhut: I couldnt have been happier. You know, I didnt know how people would react. We tried something completely different. Instead of going to a conference where you go to a different session every 45 minutes and you hear dozens and dozens of speakers and politicians and famous people. We asked people to spend three days in a deep dive with the same couple hundred people on one of the three really critical issues that were facing. And people did it. They leaned in. They came to it with an open mind and a good spirit. And I think we accomplished a lot. I think we accomplished both creating new ideas and approaches to the issues that we discussed, that we studied, but I think we also accomplished a sense of intellectual excitement, that theres really new ideas out there, that we dont have to its not a criticism to say that there have to be new approaches.

In my remarks at FedLab, I quoted one of my favorite Jewish teachings, Rav Kook, who was the chief, the first rabbi of Ashkenazi Israel, (who) famously said, Make the old new and the new holy, and so I feel like we were modernizing, bringing things forward, but we were also bringing holiness to all the new work.

CJN: How often will FedLab take place?

Fingerhut: We dont know yet. Were going to have a GA (General Assembly) next year in Chicago. Everybody should come Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 (2020). The idea will be to see if we can take the learning that we did with 900 people, that excitement, and bring it to 5,000 people. And obviously it wont be identical. Youre not going to do one track for three days, but see how we can bring that same attitude. And then I think well see. ... In the spirit of FedLab, were innovating.

CJN: Where do you live?

Fingerhut: My familys still in Washington. I have a place in New York right by the JFNA office. And well be moving to New York. Its a process. We have two boys in high school. Its a process.

CJN: Where do you belong to synagogue?

Fingerhut: We belong to a synagogue in Washington. We live in Shepherd Park, which is in the city, near the border of Silver Spring, but in the city. We go to a wonderful synagogue called Ohev Sholom, which is also known as the national synagogue. So I grew up in Beth Am Community Temple, and Im now at the national synagogue. Rabbi (Shmuel) Herzfeld. Its a wonderful booming, its as if Cleveland Heights you know had declined in terms of Jewish population, people moved out, but then all of a sudden, it came back. So this had been a Jewish community and then in the 60s and 70s most of the families moved out to Potomac and Rockville and Silver Spring all those places. And then in the last few years, the last decade really, a lot of young families who were living downtown, working on the Hill, davening at something called the D.C. Minyan, started having kids, they didnt want to move all the way out to the suburbs, so they repopulated this beautiful area. And we love it. Actually its very old, even though its in the city, it has the feel of a Cleveland Heights kind of, the older homes and lots of trees. We feel like its where we grew up. We love it.

CJN: Do you have a synagogue in New York City?

Fingerhut: I dont know yet. Thats part of the process of like figuring out where in New York. So, I have found a lovely synagogue thats had so many different names I dont know what they call themselves now down in Tribeca that I can go to for minyan and on the rare occasion when Im there for Shabbos. But were still figuring that out.

CJN: How often do you get to minyan?

Fingerhut: I try to go to minyan in the morning when I can. Its certainly not every day. The good news is, the morning you have to make an effort. Its not uncommon for us to have a group together for afternoon, for Mincha Maariv in the afternoon, but like I said, I dont get there every day, a lot of traveling, a lot of early morning phone calls and such.

You know the other thing thats extraordinary about the federation system is the support of the global Jewish agenda, the Israel Jewish agenda, so of course we are the largest historic partners of The Jewish Agency for Israel, of the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), helping collectively provide over $100 million a year to Jewish Agency, over $50 million a year to JDC, which of course the Jewish Agency is responsible for aliyah, and for the safety of Jews around the world, and the JDC responsible for caring for Jews in need around the world.

And you think about it, what an extraordinary thing, right? This Jewish community in North America provides these funds and often are the people who sit on the boards and govern it. So we have a very significant and I as CEO have a significant responsibility to work with those organizations to help them with their mission. And so theres lots of travel, global travel, and also lots of early morning phone calls, since Israel is seven hours ahead and Europe is six hours ahead, lots of early morning phone calls.

So. like I said, I dont get there every morning, but when I can, I try to.

CJN: Did the FedLab reflect the most pressing issues?

Fingerhut: We knew you couldnt do everything at once. So I dont want to say that we ranked them and picked the top three. But I think in terms of the need for federations to think new or urgently, that was how we chose those three.

So certainly security and anti-Semitism is on everbodys mind. Every federation is looking at what kind of additional investments they have to make in security. Here in Cleveland they increased by several million dollars a year, the investments in security. So we know thats happening. What can we do collectively? How do we help with best practices standards, standards etc. You know we run something call the Secure Communities Network, which actually Steve Hoffman (immediate past president of the Jewish Fderation of Cleveland) played a big role in creating when he was serving in this role. And that is the sort of does the training and coordination of all our security, runs the national duty desk, so theres an instant sharing of information. That was the easy call in terms of the track.

I really feel very strongly that the reason for the Action For Good track was and again here we are at Jewish Family Service. Its a $30 million agency. It is if Im not mistaken receives the largest single allocation of Federation funds every year of any agency from this extraordinary community. its the safety net. And I think that is, unfortunately, often overlooked the role that federations are playing in guaranteeing a social service safety net for our community. And its sometimes harder to make the case for it.

Thank G-d many of our families dont need this, so they dont know, they havent used the service, they dont know it. They may not fully understand how an organization like this works. We do get government funds, Medicare, Medicaid etc., but the philanthropy is the critical thing that provides the service. I thought it would be good to bring together the federation experts from around the country who do this kind of work to share best practices and how do we tell our story, and also what are we missing?

As I said, JFSA isnt the same as it was 50 years ago. Theres substance abuse issues, theres mental health issues, theres lots of issues that communities are tackling. So that felt like an urgent priority to me.

And then also the broad issue of our engagement of our Jewish community. So were so heavily invested. Earlier when we were on camera, I spoke about Hillel and Moishe House and day schools and camps and trips of all kinds. Really, other than synagogue life, which is of course an important part of Jewish life, you know federations are really the single largest investor in all of the areas of engagement in Jewish life.

And so, again, similar to social welfare, we really are the anchors of the community in that way, and I dont think we necessarily think of ourselves that way or leverage the assets we have. So I felt that those were places that were places that were fruitful and ripe for really good discussion.

What we didnt do, and we will do urgently, is the Israel and global overseas Jewish communit agenda.

We didnt do that really for two reasons. One, our two major partners, as I mentioned are The Jewish Agency and JDC. When our predecessors designed this system, they didnt even think of them as separate organizations, right? They thought of Federations and our partners, they thought of it as a coherent system, where we raise money locally. we perform our local needs and we invest overseas in Israel and the organizations that do that for us is the Jewish Agency and JDC.

Both of them actually underwent some significant transition.

The Jewish Agency has a new leader, Bougie Herzog, Isaac Herzog, the former minority leader of the Knesset, became about a year ago, they call it the chairman of the executive, and there you have a new CEO Amira Aharonovich, whos been on the job for about nine months. And they just, just were completing a strategic plan. So it felt like we should give that process a little bit more chance before we delve deeply into it.

And JDC you may know is in a transition process they havent yet completed. they have a search for a new CEO coming on board, coming online. And so it just felt like, lets focus on these three issues, mostly domestic right now and then well do a similar good job on the Israel, overseas issues.

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President and CEO of JFNA Eric Fingerhut goes one-on-one with the CJN - Cleveland Jewish News

20 Biggest Crime Stories of the Year – 24/7 Wall St.

Posted By on December 14, 2019

By John Harrington and Samuel StebbinsDecember 13, 2019 7:08 pm

As 2019 fades into history, America ruefully looks back on another year of mass murders, bias-inspired crimes, child and sex abuse cases, fraud involving the privileged class, and other misdeeds.

Using media sources such as The New York Times, National Public Radio, and The Associated Press, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed hundreds of popular news stories to create a list of the years biggest crime stories. We selected stories that stood out for how many lives they impacted, for being in some respects unprecedented, and for involving people or institutions of great importance to the public. We also aimed for a variety of subjects to cover the wide range of notable 2019 crime stories.

America was shaken by two mass-shooting events in a 24 hour period this past August, renewing the debate over gun control in Washington, D.C. as well as in living rooms and workplaces across the nation. These are the deadliest mass shootings in our nations history.

Crimes such as a shooting in a California synagogue and church burnings in Louisiana reminded us that bias and hate remain intractable problems in the United States.

Other crimes involved the entitled elite, such as the college admissions scandal in which affluent and well-connected people used their status to gain an unfair advantage for their children to get into Americas most exclusive universities. It was a reminder that in a nation that prides itself on merit, the playing field is not level. Here are the worst scandals that shocked Hollywood.

Click here to see the 20 biggest crime stories of the year

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20 Biggest Crime Stories of the Year - 24/7 Wall St.

Chapter 6 From inspiration to action, Sosua75 is conceived – Dominican Today

Posted By on December 14, 2019

Renn Loren

Returning to our ongoing series feature story, we covered a lot of ground in the first 5 Chapters of Hugh Bavers life and his journey to Sosua.

Beginning with his adoption and early childhood years, we learned of his developing love for the sport of baseball and commitment to his Jewish upbringing. Significantly influencing his future steps, now coming more clearly into focus is how the Dominican Republic and the Jewish origins of the region ultimately attracted him here.

We recall that it was on Bavers 2010 and July 2013 World Baseball Classic Championship base donation trip to the Red Sox Academy, where he first learned of the rich history of the North Coast, Hugh eagerly planned his first trip to Sosua in January of 2014.

Baver was invited on that trip to take part in two significant local events; the Friday/Shabbat Synagogue service with a speech given there by then-Israeli Dominican Ambassador Bahij Mansour. And the seaside Holocaust Commemoration ceremony, which took place at Parque Mirador the following evening.

Photo #1 January 2014 photo of historic Holocaust commemoration ceremony at Parque Mirador

On these occasions, Baver was pleased and encouraged to meet Sosua Mayor Ilana Neumann, as well as other Jewish Museum original Jewish settlers and community leaders here. At that time, Baver offered his assistance and asked them if he could be part of a US-based effort to recognize and support the significance of the 75th Anniversary milestone.

Joe Benjamin, one of the Sosua original settlers, even afforded Baver a personalized local tour of the historic synagogue and MuseoJudio where he imparted some incredible inside insights from his experience here, many of which he documented via video.

Photo #2 2014 Photo of the entrance to Museo Judio

Attending these historic ceremonies and taking in the natural beauty of the North Coast region made a profound impact on Baver. Filled with optimism and captivated by his unique Sosua experience, he wanted to share his discoveries with others. So much so that three months later, in April of 2014, Baver was inspired to convert his inspiration into creative action. With its stated mission and tag line of To Educate and Remember in April of 2014, Bavers intrigue manifested in the formal incorporation of; a Boston, Massachusetts based Non-Profit Organization.

With Bavers stated intention of raising global consciousness of the two connected, yet little known, Holocaust episodes of the 1938 vian Conference and the consequent formation of the 1940 Sosua agricultural refugee settlement here, he named the NPO project Sosua75.

The number 75 represented the 75th Anniversary of the original founding and establishment of the Sosua Jewish settlement. The anniversary celebration was scheduled to be held in the following year, 2015.

Part of Bavers overall plan and an essential piece of his Sosua75 project vision was to spearhead the future construction of a Jewish Dominican Cultural Education Center in Sosua. Blending elements of the Jewish and Dominican cultures, both having strongly influenced the development and growth of this area, Bavers goal was to create a captivating international family tourist destination here.

Designed to attract cultural tourists of all ages, he hoped to gain both US and Dominican support for the construction of a municipal or privately funded tourist attraction close to the Puerto Plata airport. Included in the plan was a baseball stadium and training complex, cooperative community farm, Butterfly Conservatory honoring the Mirabal sisters, and the establishment of a year-round education center for University student exchange and Service learning programs.

Sosua75 proposed project vision for Jewish Dominican Cultural Education Center

In May of 2014, a small Jewish community newspaper in Bavers home state of New Hampshire took an interest in his travels. It published an account of his trip entitled Sosua Dominican Republic: A Little Known Story of Jewish Survival.

This piece would be the first of over 20 globally published articles, multiple TV and radio appearances over the next five years chronicling his continuing interest in the history of both the 1938 Conference and the Dominican Republics unlikely role in welcoming fleeing European Jewish refugees when no other country would.

Bavers next step with the project was to schedule his first US public appearance and lecture on Sosua. In September of 2014, before 25 intrigued congregants at a small oceanside Orthodox synagogue situated right on the beach in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Baver enlisted the assistance of Dr. Allen Wells, a local Bowdoin College professor to be his keynote speaker. Wells was the son of one of the original Sosua settlers and the author of Tropical Zion.

First 2014 public lecture with Dr. Allen Wells at Synagogue in Old Orchard Beach, ME

Based on the warm reception for his first program and published article, Bavers excitement for educating others of this history through his NPO continued to grow. He even received an incredibly supportive message sent to him by one of his newfound local friends living in the Seahorse Ranch. They wrote, you incarnate what the local Jewish/Dominican community, and I have dreamed about doing here for years.

However, Bavers excitement and optimism were very short-lived. To his shock and great disappointment on September 10th, 2014, Baver received an unexpected email on official Sosua municipal letterhead signed by Mayor Ilana Neumann and Ivonne Milz, the Director of the Jewish Museum.

The contents read: Dear Mr. Beaver (misspelling his last name), the following is to inform you that we are deeply disgusted where we realized that you have created a website about the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of our Jewish community including even a logo. We, therefore, ask you formally to cease and desist using our celebration as a means to ask for donations, also asking you for the same reasons to immediately eliminate the website Sosua75 and its respective logo.

Soon after, the Boston Jewish Advocate, one of the USs oldest Jewish publications, picked up on the story and published a November 21st, 2014 front-page article entitled: Wartime Jewish Refuge subject of dispute, competing claims mar Sosua Commemoration. The secondary byline read Tropical Jewish Refuge heads for rocky Anniversary.

Reporting fairly and accurately on the associated facts and both sides of the controversy, the Jewish Advocate article was extremely controversial. Creating quite a buzz in the Boston area, the piece generated many comments and opinions from the newspaper readership. The overriding sentiment expressed was that of appreciation for learning of these little known yet contemporarily relevant historical Holocaust episodes.

The broad exposure generated by the Boston Jewish Advocate Article then led to 2015 invitations scheduled at two of the most prominent Synagogues in downtown Boston. The first program held on March 7th at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline featured the Boston premiere of Sosua, Make A Better World, a documentary film created in Washington Heights NYC by Boston filmmakers Peter and Renee Silverman.

Sosua Make A Better World complete event in Boston

Making another Jewish Baseball connection, coincidentally, one of Millers other noted documentaries was Jews and Baseball, An American Love Story, which he inscribed a copy of the DVD and presented it to Baver at the program.

The Boston Israeli Embassy recorded a special video message which was played as an Opening Welcome message to frame the evenings program.

One of the noted attendees who attended and was extremely impressed by this program was the Director of Public Relations for the Boston Dominican Republic Embassy. As the on-air host for the Boston area Latino TV network, La Semana Al Dia, he invited Baver for an exclusive TV interview.

La Semana Al Dia 2015 TV Interview:

Despite the controversial genesis of Sosua75 and the expression of disapproval stemming from the Sosua City Hall, interest in the Sosua75 project, along with his formal invitations to speak, continued to grow.

Bavers hope of getting the word out and informing the general public of the vian Conference and Sosua was beginning to take root.


Next week, setting the stage for relocating from Boston to the North Coast

Link to 2015 Latinas Mujeres Annual Conference in Boston where I was co-recipient of the Padrino Award for outstanding service and volunteering to the Boston Dominican Community


Chapter 6 From inspiration to action, Sosua75 is conceived - Dominican Today

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