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Theatre: Harmony and hard times combine in The Times They Are A Changin – Montreal Gazette

Posted By on February 21, 2020

The sound of silence gives way to the sounds of the 60s at the Segal next week, as a musical show starring husband-and-wife team Louise Pitre and W. Joseph Matheson moves in just as the silent-retreat drama Small Mouth Sounds moves out.

The Times They Are A Changin, which plays from March 1 to 22, and which originated at Torontos Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company in 2017, is a celebration of protest songs from songwriters of Jewish heritage such as Carole King, Paul Simon, Mama Cass, Arlo Guthrie and, of course, Bob Dylan.

Segal audiences will still have searing memories of four-time Dora Award-winning Pitres astonishing portrayal of dith Piaf in The Angel and the Sparrow a couple of years ago. That show also featured Matheson, as most of the men in Piafs life. The two also performed together in Could You Wait?, a musical written by Matheson based on the wartime romance between his parents.

But The Times They Are A Changin offers more than a stage reunion featuring fondly remembered hits expertly sung. The songs have been carefully chosen to run the gamut from 60s idealism to disillusionment and anger.

Says Pitre, joining Matheson on a phone call with the Montreal Gazette: When the Harold Green theatre asked us to create the show, and when Joe and I got to researching, I think what surprised us the most was how heartbreaking it was that a lot of these songs could have been written today that they still apply.

Matheson agrees that some of the content can be a bit more sombre than how people expect, but adds we still feel theres a lot of hope in the show.

In addition to a five-piece band, Pitre and Matheson will be accompanied by video imagery from Dan Bowman. We really felt we didnt want to just stand there singing songs, says Pitre. So theres a fair bit of video, which is a huge part of the show.

That became our accessory, says Matheson, in the sense that we could sing what everybody thinks is a lovely, hopeful song, but the video shows you the other side. (You get) what could have been and where we actually are.

Summing up a decades worth of classic protest songs in 90 minutes naturally presented a logistical challenge for Pitre and Matheson. Inevitably, many favourites fell by the wayside. For Pitre, the most painful omission was Simon and Garfunkels The Boxer. But the choices they made are by no means obvious ones. I confess I had to Google the three songs Pitre cites as the ones she feels most encapsulate the themes of the show (One Tin Soldier, Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream and Save the Country).

As the show arrives at the Segal, one question that might be on an audiences mind is how many songs, if any, are we going to get from the rich catalogue of Montreals favourite son. As it happens, there is a Leonard Cohen component, though perhaps not so much as the performers would have liked.

Part of the issue, says Matheson, was that Avery Saltzman, one of the artistic directors of the Harold Green (and the director of this show), was particularly determined not to go outside the lines. Hed say, Thats an incredible song, but its not really a protest song. I love Leonard Cohen, but unfortunately a lot of his songs didnt fit in. But we do reference him throughout the show as one of the voices of the 60s.

Keeping within the lines also meant that the songwriters had to be of Jewish heritage to qualify, though, as Pitre and Matheson point out, this in no way led to a narrowing of the field. Like the Golden Age of Broadway that came before, the 60s boasted an astonishing abundance of Jewish songwriters and singers, especially ones who raised their voices in protest.

Theres an inherent sense of activism in that community, says Matheson. On the one hand they support one another, but they move that sense of activism in the community to the world at large. Jewish songwriters of the era, he adds, had a gift for expressing the difference or otherness of people in general. Which is why their songs are so universal.


The Times They Are A Changin is presented from March 1 to 22 at the Segal Centre, 5170 Cte-Ste-Catherine Rd. Tickets: $67; student and under-30 discounts subject to availability. Call 514-739-7944 or visit


The puppet shows presented by the Festival de Casteliers include Giraffe, the tale of a special money box that changes hands with surprising results.Hop Signor

Next month sees the opening of the Festival de Casteliers (March 4 to 8), a feast of puppet shows from around the world for adults and children alike, now in its 15th year.

As an early taster, the festivals traditional exhibition Marionnettes en vitrines! has already taken up residence in shop windows on Bernard and Van Horne Aves., and at Thtre Outremont (1248 Bernard Ave. W.) and the Maison internationale des arts de la marionnette (30 St-Just Ave.). This year it features the work of Louis Bergeron, whose company Marionnettes du bout du monde is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

As well as the 10 shows in the festival, there are talks, exhibitions, workshops, a puppetry playroom for toddlers (at the Ges, 1200 Bleury St.) and screenings, including a version of Mulan from the Shanghai Puppet Theatre (at Thtre Outremont), which had to cancel its visit because of the current situation in China.

Finnish company Livsmedlet explores the migrant crisis in Invisible Lands, using a combination of body parts, miniature objects and video trickery.Pernilla Lindgren

Giraffe (March 5 to 7, 11 a.m., Petit Outremont, 1248 Bernard Ave. W.): Greek company Hop Signor brings its story of a giraffe-shaped money box that passes from hand to hand with surprising results. Age five and up

Invisible Lands (March 5 at 8:30 p.m., March 6 at 5 and 9 p.m., March 7 at 1:30 p.m., Maison internationale des arts de la marionnette): Finlands Livsmedlet uses miniature objects and projections of body parts blown up to look like landscapes in this wordless exploration of the harrowing experiences of migrants. Age 13 and up

High Water (March 6 at 3 p.m., March 7 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Oboro, 4001 Berri St.): Macromatter, from Vancouver, uses a slowly filling fish tank and startling effects to create an epic drama about historical civilizations. Age five and up

Anywhere (March 7 at 8:30 p.m., March 8 at 1 p.m., Thtre Aux curies, 7285 Chabot St.): This francophone show from Frances Thtre de lEntrouvert includes a gradually melting ice puppet representing the daddy of tragic heroes in a version of Henry Bauchaus novel Oedipus on the Road. Age 12 and up

LoveStar (March 8, 3 p.m., Thtre Outremont): The festivals closing show is a collaboration between Lavals Thtre Inclin and Bonaventure, Que.s Thtre de la Petite Mare, and is a wordless dystopian love story about birds, a scientist and her troublesome assistant. Age eight and up


The Festival de Casteliers runs from March 4 to 8. For more information, call 514-270-2717 or visit

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Theatre: Harmony and hard times combine in The Times They Are A Changin - Montreal Gazette

Labour’s next leader has already betrayed the left – Middle East Eye

Posted By on February 21, 2020

In recent years the British Labour party has grown rapidly to become one of the largest political movement in Europe, numbering more than half a million members, many of them young people who had previously turned their backs on national politics.

The reason was simple: a new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had shown that it was possible to rise to the top of a major party without being forced to sacrifice ones principles along the way and become just another machine politician.

But as Corbyn prepares to step downafter a devastating election defeat, statements by the three contenders, Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer, for his crown suggest that his efforts to reinvent Labour as a mass, grassroots movement are quickly unravelling.A politics of cynicism dressed only loosely in progressive garb -has returned to replace Corbyn's popular democratic socialism.

A politics of cynicism dressed only loosely in progressive garb has returned to replace Corbyns popular democratic socialism

Leadership candidates are once again carefully cultivating their image and opinions along with their hairstyles, clothes and accents to satisfy the orthodoxies they fear will be rigidly enforced by a billionaire-owned media and party bureaucrats.

Labours lengthy voting procedure for a new leader begins this weekend, with the winner announced in early April. But whoever takes over the party reins, the most likely outcome will be a revival of deep disillusionment with British politics on the left.

The low-point of the candidates'campaigning, and their betrayal of the movement that propelled Corbyn on to the national stage, came last week at a "hustings"jointly organised by the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel. These two party organisations are cheerleaders for Israel, even as it prepares to annex much of the West Bank, supported by the Trump administration, in an attempt to crush any hope of a Palestinian state ever being established.

Asked if they were Zionists, two of the candidates Nandy, the climate change secretary, and Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, who is widely touted as representing "continuity Corbynism" declared they indeed were.

The third candidate Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, and the man favoured by the party machine stated only slightly less emphatically that he supported Zionism.

Nandys response was particularly baffling. She is the current chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, while the other two are supporters of the group.It is exceedingly difficult to find a Palestinian Zionist.And yet the Palestinian cause is now officially represented in the Labour parliamentary party by someone who has declared herself a Zionist.

This is no small matter. For good reason, Zionism is rarely defined beyond the vaguest sentiment about creating a safe haven for Jews following the Nazi genocide committed in Europe.Zionisms political implications are little understood or analysed, even by many who subscribe to it. By the standards of modern politics, it is an extremist ideology.

For decades western states have preferred to promote an inclusive, civic nationalism that embraces people for where they live, not who they are. Zionism, by contrast, is diametrically opposed to the civic nationalismthat is the basis of modern liberal democracies.

In the Middle East, Zionism has fuelled a racial politics that was once familiar across Europe

Rather, it is an ethnic nationalism that confers rights on people based on their blood ties or tribal identity. Such nationalisms were at the root of a divisive European racial politics in the first half of the last century that led to two cataclysmic world wars and the Holocaust.

In the Middle East, Zionism has fuelled a racial politics that was once familiar across Europe. It has rationalised the mass dispossession of the Palestinians of their homeland through ethnic cleansing and illegal settlement-building.It has also conferred superior rights on Jews, turning Palestinians into an ethnic underclass segregated from Jews both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

Progressive post-war politics of the kindone might assume the Labour party should upholdhas sought to rid the West of the menace of ethnic nationalism.It is true that race politics is reviving at the moment in the US and parts of Europe, under figures such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Hungarys Viktor Orban. But ethnic nationalism is and always has been the preserve of right-wing, authoritarian politicians.

It should be an abhorrence to the left, which subscribes to universal rights, opposes racism and promotes principles of equality.But Labour politicians have long made an exception of Israel and Zionism.

Originally, that blind spot was fuelled by a mix of Holocaust guilt and a starry-eyed excitement over Israels brief experiments with socialist-inspired though exclusively Jewish collectivist agricultural communities like the kibbutz, built on stolen Palestinian land.

Then, as Labour fully abandoned socialism, culminating in its reinvention as New Labour under Tony Blair in the 1990s, the party began to champion Israel for additional, even more cynical reasons.Labour leaders dressed up colonial ideas of projecting western power into the oil-rich Middle East in modern attire, as a supposed Judeo-Christian "clash of civilisations"against Islam in which Israel was on "our"side.

Corbyn never accepted the exception made for Israel. Consistent with his universalist principles, he long championed the Palestinian cause as an enduring colonial injustice, instituted by the British government more than a century ago with the Balfour Declaration.

It is worth recalling, after years of being pilloried by a hostile media, the wider reasons why Corbyn was unexpectedly and twice elected by an overwhelming majority of Labour members and why that provoked such a backlash.Decades on the backbenches choosing to represent the concerns of ordinary people had made it clear Corbyn would not pander to establishment interests.

Jeremy Corbyn and the truth about Tom Bower's book

His track record on offering the right answers to the great questions of the day spoke for itself, from decrying South African apartheid in the early 1980s to opposing Britains leading role in the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq.

He refused to bow to neoliberal orthodoxies, including the too big to fail rationalisations for the bank bailouts of 2008, that nearly bankrupted the global economy. He had long campaigned a more equitable society, and one accountable to working people rather than inherited wealth and a self-serving corporate elite.

He was genuinely anti-racist, but not in the usual lip-service way. He cared about all oppressed people whatever their skin colour and wherever they lived on the planet, not just those that might vote for him or his party in a UK election.For that reason he was also fiercely against the legacy of western colonialism and its endless resource wars against the global south. He had long been a prominent figure in the Stop the Warmovement.

But equally, though it did not fit the narrative that was being crafted against him and so was ignored, he had been a committed supporter of Jewish causes and his Jewish constituents throughout his career on the backbenches.

In declaring their support for Zionism or worse, saying they were Zionists Long-Bailey, Nandy and Starmer betrayed the left.

In declaring their support for Zionism or worse, saying they were Zionists Long-Bailey, Nandy and Starmer betrayed the left

They did so at a time when the foundations of the explicit racism of the resurgent right needs confronting and challenging, not accommodating. After all, the white supremacists who are the key to this resurgence are also among the biggest supporters of Israel and Zonism.

Everyone understands why the three candidates signed up enthusiastically as Zionists at the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israels hustings. They have watched Corbyn slowly destroyed by a four-year campaign of smears promoted by these two groups and echoed by the corporate media claiming the party has become institutionally antisemitic on his watch.

Each candidate has faced demands that they distance themselves from Corbyn. That culminated last month in an ultimatum from theBoard of Deputies of British Jews that they sign "10 pledges"or face the same onslaught Corbyn was subjected to.

The 10 commitments are designed to ensure that successful moves made in the Labour Party by the board and the Jewish Labour Movement to redefine antisemitism will become irreversible. That is because the pledges also make these two Israel advocacy groups judge and jury in Labours antisemitism cases.

They have already foisted on the party a retrograde and ahistorical definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance that is specifically designed to ring-fence Zionism from any debate about what it means as an ideology.

It shifts the focus of antisemitism from a hatred of Jews to strong criticism of Israel. Seven of the IHRAs 11 examples of antisemitism refer to Israel, including this one: Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour".

Labour contenders are wrong to have signed up to these antisemitism pledges

And yet the Zionist movement designed Israel to be a racist state one that privileged Jewish immigrants to Palestine over the native Palestinian population. And if that wasnt clear from its founding as an ethnic nationalist Jewish state on the Palestinians homeland, it was made explicit two years ago when those founding principles were set out in a Basic Law.

That law defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people that is, all Jews around the world, rather than the people who live in its territory, including a fifth of the population who are Palestinian by heritage.

The three leadership candidates all hurried to back the Board of Deputies pledges.But these 10 commitments do more than just make serious criticism of Israel off-limits. They create a self-rationalising system that stretches the idea of antisemitism well beyond what should be its breaking point.

Under these new terms, anyone can be automatically denounced as an antisemite if they try to challenge the changed definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel, or if they acknowledge that a pro-Israel lobby exists. In fact, this was exactly why Chris Williamson, an MP close to Corbyn, was expelled from the party last year.

How McCarthyite this has become was again illustrated this week when a candidate for Labours National Executive Committee (NEC) elections, Graham Durham, was suspended for antisemitism over comments in which he accused Long-Bailey of "cuddling up to the Jewish Labour Movement and the chief rabbi, a well-known Tory.

As explained here, Durhams "antisemitic"comment was barely more than a statement of fact. It included an additional reference to the efforts of Britains chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, a public supporter of Boris Johnson, to damage Corbyns chances in the run-up to Decembers general election by accusing the Labour leader of being an antisemite.

The decision by Long-Bailey and the other two candidates to back the Boards pledges has effectively turned the pro-Israel lobby into an executioner-in-waiting. It empowers these groups to destroy any of one of them who becomes leader and tries to promote a Corbyn-style progressive platform.

Neither the Board nor the JLM could have imposed these demands on Labour in a vacuum. It would not have been possible without the support both of a corporate media that wishes Labour cowed and of the Labour bureaucracy, which wants the status quo-embracing, Blairite wing of the party back in charge, even if that means alienating a large section of the new membership.

For the Israel lobby, the media and the party machine the goal is to have a Labour leader once again entirely beholden to the current western economic and imperialist order

For all three the Israel lobby, the media and the party machine the goal is to have a Labour leader once again entirely beholden to the current western economic and imperialist order. A candidate who will once again commit to business as usual and ensure voters are offered a choice limited to two parties of capital.

And the simplest and most double-dealing way to achieve that end is by holding the antisemitism sword over their heads. Corbyn could not be tamed so he had to be destroyed. His successors have already demonstrated how ready they are to be brought to heel as the price for being allowed near power.

At another hustings, this time staged by the BBC, all three candidates agreed that their top priority, were they to become party leader, would be to tackle Labours supposed antisemitism crisis.Thats right the top priority. Not changing the public discourse on austerity, or exposing the Tory governments incompetence and its catastrophic version of a hard Brexit, or raising consciousness about an impending climate catastrophe.

Or tackling the rising tide of racism in British society, most obviously targeting Muslims, that is being fomented by the right.

No, the priority for all three is enforcing a so-called zero tolerance policy on antisemitism. In practice, that would mean a presumption of guilt and a fast-track expulsion of members accused of antisemitism as recently redefined to include anything but softball criticism of Israel.

It hardly bears repeating so hard-set is the media narrative of an "institutionally antisemitic" Labour party that there is a complete absence of evidence, beyond the anecdotal, to support the so-called "crisis".

Much less than 0.1 percentof members have been found guilty of antisemitism even given the new, much-expanded definition designed to entrap anti-racists who criticise Israel or question the good faith of the pro-Israel lobby.That is far less than the prevalence of old-school antisemitism the kind that targets Jews for being Jews found in the wider British population or in the Conservative Party, where all types of racism are publicly indulged.

So confident is Boris Johnsons government that it wont suffer Corbyns fate, either from the media or from pro-Israel lobby groups, that this week it stood by an adviser who was revealed to have approved of eugenics and argued that black people have lower IQs.Notably, Andrew Sabisky was not sacked by the party after his views were outed. He stepped down to avoid becoming a "distraction".

Nor were there headlines that his employment by Johnsons chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, proved the Conservative Party was "institutionally racist". In fact, Sabiskys worldview has become increasingly mainstream in the Tory party as it lurches rightwards.

Conversely, though rarely mentioned by the media, several prominent incidents of antisemitism in Labour that caused problems for Corbyn relate to Jews and Jewish party members who are staunch critics of Israel or define themselves as anti-Zionists.

There has been little attention paid to the prejudice faced by these Jews, who have set up a group inside the party called Jewish Voice for Labour to counter the disinformation. It has been maligned and ignored in almost equal measure.

These Jewish party members who support Corbyn are regularly dismissed as the "wrong kind of Jews" paradoxically, an example of real antisemitism that those peddling the antisemitism smears against Labour have depended on to maintain the credibility of their claims.

Anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism. Heres why conflating the two could be problematic

Also unreported by the British media is the documented role of the partys pro-Israel partisans in the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel in seeking to foment a revolt against Corbyn filmed by an undercover reporter for Al-Jazeera over his strong support for the Palestinian cause.

This incontrovertible evidence of efforts to subvert the party from within has been ignored by Labour Party bureaucrats too. The assumption of some who bought into the antisemitism crisis was that once the Labour party was rid of Corbyn the smears would fizzle out. They would become unnecessary. But that was to misunderstand what was at stake and what role the accusations served.

The antisemitism allegations were never really about antisemitism, except presumably in the minds of some members of the Jewish community whose perceptions of events were inevitably skewed by the media coverage and the hostility from Jewish leadership organisations that have made Israel their chief cause.

Antisemitism was a tool one for preventing Corbyn from reaching power and threatening the interests of the ruling elite. His opponents in the media, inside his own party and among pro-Israel groups chose antisemitism as the battlefield because it is much easier to defeat a principled opponent in a dirty war than in a fair fight.

Antisemitism served a purpose and continues to do so. In Corbyns case, it tarnished him and his general policies by turning reality on its head and making him out to be a racist posing as an anti-racist.

Now the same allegations can be used as a stick to tame his successor. Antisemitism can be wielded as threat to make sure none contemplates following his path into a principled, grassroots politics that champions the weak over the powerful, the poor over the fabulously wealthy.

This week the antisemitism allegations surfaced again in a leadership TV debate staged by Channel 4.

The next leader of the Labour party is already a prisoner to the 'institutional antisemitism' narrative

Perhaps aware of how craven they risk appearing by backing Israel and Zionism so enthusiastically, and of how many party members may conclude that the Palestinians are being thrown under the proverbial bus, all three stated that there was no contradiction between opposing antisemitism and standing up for Palestinian rights.

In theory that is true. But it is no longer true in the case of Long-Bailey, Nandy and Starmer. They have accepted the ugly, false premises of the pro-Israel lobby, which require one to make just such a choice.

The lobby requires that, like the candidates, one must declare ones support for Zionism, and Israel as a Jewish state, or be denounced as an antisemite. This is the flipside of the mischievous conflation of anti-Zionism opposition to a political ideology with antisemitism hatred of Jews.

That conflation is based on the quite obviously false assertion that Israel represents all Jews, that it speaks for all Jews and that its actions including its war crimes against the Palestinians are the responsibility of all Jews. The pro-Israel lobbys intentional conflation is not only deeply problematic, it is deeply antisemitic.

One cannot stand up for a Palestinian right to self-determination while also embracing a political ideology, Zionism, that over more than 70 years, and as shared by every shade of Israeli government, has worked tirelessly to deny the Palestinians that right.

The fact that so many people in the West Jews and non-Jews alike have for so long evaded making that choice does not alter the fact that a choice has to be made. The lobby has made its choice. And now it has forced the Labour Partys leadership candidates as it tried to force Corbyn himself into making the same choice.

The next leader of the Labour Party is already a prisoner to the institutional antisemitism narrative. That means their hands are chained not only to support for Israel, but to the reactionary politics in which Israel as a Jewish state makes sense a worldview that embraces its style of ethnic, chauvinist, militaristic, segregationist politics.

A world, in fact, not so unlike the one we are being driven towards by the right-wing parties of Europe and the US.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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Labour's next leader has already betrayed the left - Middle East Eye

History will remember Abbas as peace rejectionist – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Posted By on February 21, 2020

(JNS)Even before the Trump administrations Middle East peace plan was revealed earlier this month, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was planning his trip to New York City, where he plans to address the United Nations and protest the plans outline, which the P.A. has rejected outright.

That has been the Palestinian leaders modus operandi for the past 17 years, and it has kept him on the wrong path of sparing no effort to fight Israel in the international arena, which at times seems to be his primary goalsomething far more important to him than promoting Palestinian interests that could facilitate statehood.

But the Abbas era will soon end, and when he steps down from the world stage, history will remember him as the greatest peace rejectionist that ever was.

Years of historic opportunities to strike a peace deal, including and especially President Donald Trumps deal of the century, have come and gone, thrown away in favor of United Nations speeches and political terrorism against Israel in every forum and all over the world.

An individual who dedicates himself to incitement against Israel, to the indoctrination of children with hatred toward Israel and the Jews, and who backs and sponsors the pay-for-slay policy, paying tens of millions of dollars to terrorists and their families, cannot be called a partner for peace.

Hundreds of anti-Israeli resolutions have been adopted by the U.N. General Assembly over the past decade, most at the behest of the Palestinians and Abbas. During this time, Abbas has agreed to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only once. Thats right: once.

There is no doubt that as long as Abbas heads the P.A., peace is not feasible.

On Monday, we again proved that the rules of the game at the United Nations have changed. After much effort by Israel vis--vis many U.N. member-states, the Palestinian gambit to have the U.N. Security Council adopt a resolution condemning the U.S. Middle East peace plan was thwarted.

When Abbas addresses the Security Council on Tuesday, he will find no fans. Unlike before, the international community has had enough of censures and condemnations. Now it expects a direct dialogue between the parties.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tends to boast that he held direct negotiations with Abbas. But even the close relationship between the two did not change Abbass pathhe rejected even Olmerts far-reaching peace proposal, opting instead to malign Israel at the United Nations.

Despite this, the former prime minister has chosen to back the Palestinian leaders brand of political terrorism.

We must not encourage a man who rewards terrorism and violence against Israel. Olmert would be wise to come to his senses and stand by his countrynot undermine it for the whole world to see.

A statement in a press briefing will do little to help the P.A. or Israel. The road to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not run through New York, but only through in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Danny Danon is Israels ambassador to the United Nations.

This article first appeared inIsrael Hayom.

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History will remember Abbas as peace rejectionist - Heritage Florida Jewish News

How two Boston women became legends in the sport of cycling – The Boston Globe

Posted By on February 21, 2020

They lived just a few blocks from each other, at the same time, said author Lorenz J. Finison, who has written two books about Bostons cycling history.

The fascinating stories of how these two female cyclists overcame discrimination and challenged the status quo are highlighted in a new exhibit called Cycling Legends of the West End, which runs through May 30 at the West End Museum.

Several programs are planned to complement the exhibition. The first one will take place Saturday, Feb. 22, when Finison gives a talk about the history of African-American cycling in Boston. On Feb. 29, a reception will be held in the afternoon followed by a West End Heritage Night celebrating the life of Kittie Knox and her contributions to the sport of cycling.

Knox confronted racism head-on" and promoted womens independence ... by daring to don pantaloons while riding instead of the heavy, long skirts of her day, museum officials said in a press release. She bravely challenged race and gender roles in cycling, forever changing its future and advancing equality for African Americans and women alike.

Born in Cambridge in 1874 to a Black father and a white mother, Knox was a seamstress and an accomplished cyclist who belonged to the League of American Wheelmen (also known as LAW).

When some chapters of LAW sought to ban Black cyclists from joining the league, Knox didnt back down. In 1895, she attended the leagues national meet in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where she did not exactly receive a warm welcome.

There was quite a bit of controversy at that summer meet in Asbury, said Finison.

Knox got turned away from hotels, but eventually found a place to stay and made her presence known throughout the meet. She made national headlines for challenging the leagues color bar."

This afternoon Miss Knox did a few fancy cuts in front of the clubhouse and was requested to desist, the New York Times reported on July 9, 1895. "It is thought that this episode will result in temporarily opening the color line question.

On July 10, 1895, the San Francisco Call ran a story about Knox attending the meet and how league officials refused to give her a credential badge. When Miss Knox, whose appearance and dress had been objects of admiration all day, walked into the committee-room at the local clubhouse and presented her League card for a credential badge, the gentleman in charge refused to recognize the card, and the young woman withdrew very quietly. Ninety-nine out of every hundred members interviewed express the heartiest sympathy for her and condemnation of the hasty action of the badge committee.

According to that story, one LAW official from Boston said he considered the refusal entirely unwarranted.

Finison said Knox stayed at the meet and even danced at the evening ball.

About two weeks later, Knoxs name and the issue of race came up in the July 26, 1895 edition of the LAW Bulletin. In the Q and A section of the leagues weekly journal, a member asked: How can a negro be a member of the L.A.W. as it appears Miss Knox of Boston is? In response, league officials said: Miss Katie J. Knox joined the League, April 1, 1893. The word white was put into the constitution, Feb. 20, 1894. Such laws are not and cannot be retroactive.

Today, Knox is viewed as a hero. Just last month, the Smithsonian Libraries highlighted some of her accomplishments in a series of tweets, noting that she continued to participate in meets around the country" and "helped democratize cycling - for both women and cyclists of all races.

Around the same time, another West End woman was gaining international fame as she pedaled around the world. Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, who used the alias Annie Londonderry, was a Latvian/Jewish immigrant who lived on Spring Street in Bostons West End. In June 1894, she bid goodbye her husband and three young children and embarked on an epic bike ride around the globe that took 15 months to complete.

She earned money during the trip by pinning advertisements to her clothes.

At one point on her journey through France, she said three masked men tried to rob her. According to her story in the San Francisco Examiner, the robbers knocked her off her bike and she was thrown down to the ground. Thats when she pulled out a revolver from the holster on her belt and aimed it at her assailants. One of the men backed off but another got behind her and grabbed her throat. She said they wrestled the weapon from her hands and rifled through her pockets, but she only had three francs, and she managed to escape.

The fall from the wheel sprained my ankle and my shoulder was bruised considerably, but I had enough vitality left to continue the journey, she told the San Francisco Examiner.


Cycling Events at the West End Museum

A History of African-American Cycling in Boston

Saturday, Feb. 22, 4-6 p.m.

Author Lorenz J. Finison will discuss his first two books, Bostons 20th Century Bicycling Renaissance: Cultural Change on Two Wheels, and Bostons Cycling Craze, 1880-1900: A Story of Race, Sport, and Society," which includes a section on Kittie Knox.

Cost: $10 / Free to museum members. Pre-registration is required at

Cycling Legends of the West End Reception

Saturday, Feb. 29, 2-4 p.m.

Cost: Free

West End Heritage Night

Saturday, Feb. 29, 4-6 p.m.

The West End Museum will proudly honor Kittie Knox.

Cost: Free. Pre-registration appreciated, but not required; Light refreshments will be served.

The West End Museum is located at 150 Staniford St. in Boston. For more information call 617-723-2125 or visit

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.

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How two Boston women became legends in the sport of cycling - The Boston Globe

New Life in the Dead of Winter –

Posted By on February 21, 2020

New Life in the Dead of Winter

One of the first things that my husband and I did when we bought our home in Israel was plant fruit trees in our new garden.

What a blessing it was! Trees in Israel are different from those anywhere else in the world. They are subject to biblical laws, such as God's directive to wait three years before eating the fruit of a new tree (Leviticus 19:23), and not to work the land or prune trees during the Sabbatical year (Leviticus 25:1-7).

Trees of the Holy Land are also part of biblical prophecy, such as the promise in Micah 4:4 that once again the people of Israel will sit under their fig tree and grape vine, or Isaiah 27:6, which says that Israel will blossom and fill the world with fruit. Our trees are not just a source of delicious fruit they are the Bible come alive in our own backyard!

Earlier this month, Jews around the world celebrated trees on a holiday called Tu B'Shvat, which marks the New Year for Trees. It might seem strange to celebrate trees in the dead of winter, when they look almost lifeless and don't really provide us with any benefits. Yet, this irony is what gives the holiday its meaning.

To the naked eye, a winter landscape looks dreary. If we didn't know better, we might think that the trees, bare of leaves, flowers, and fruit, have reached the end of their life. Yet, just beneath the frozen ground, life is beginning anew. The tree's roots have absorbed the winter rains, and now new sap begins to flow, starting the process of life all over again. We will see the buds and blossoms in spring, and enjoy the fruits in summer and fall.

In the same way, there are seasons in our lives that feel and look like winter. A situation might appear hopeless or a dream might seem dead. But it is precisely during these times that, beneath the surface, God is at work and new life is pouring through our veins. In due time, we will see the resurrection of our dreams and new blessings in our lives even though it may be hard to see in the moment.

I am so grateful to God for putting these powerful messages into nature where we can see and experience them every year. Anytime we are faced with a challenge or confronted with doubt, all we need to do is look at a tree and know that if God can make it blossom and bloom after it lay naked and bare, he can do anything in our lives.

In Israel, I see this idea expressed doubly. Our whole land was barren and appeared to be lifeless less than a century ago. Yet, now it is an oasis in a desert. Israel has made the desert bloom! Moreover, we have seen the people of Israel rise from the ashes of the Holocaust into a reborn nation, against all odds and reason. Like Ezekiel's prophecy, we have seen dry bones turn into flesh and life return in full force to the once desolate streets of Jerusalem.

I hope you embrace these faith-inspired teachings as your own. Christians and Jews have a common heritage, and it is my honor to share these Jewish teachings with you. Together, let us all praise God for his great work behind the scenes, and trust His promises for the best seasons yet, in our lives and in our world.

Photo courtesy: Thinkstock

Yael Ecksteinis the president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. As President, Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the organizations international spokesperson. She can be heard on The Fellowships daily radio program airing on 1,500 stations worldwide. Before her present duties, Yael served as global executive vice president, senior vice president, and director of program development and ministry outreach. Based in Jerusalem, Yael is a published writer, leading international advocate for persecuted religious minorities, and a respected social services professional. As President of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of Americas largest religious not-for-profit organizations.

Continued here:

New Life in the Dead of Winter -

‘An Innocent Man Was Lynched’: Reporting exonerated Leo Frank in the murder of Mary Phagan – Tennessean

Posted By on February 21, 2020

In 1982, Tennessean reporters led efforts to posthumously exonerate Leo Frank, who was wrongfully convicted of killing Mary Phagan in 1913 in Atlanta. Frank, a Jewish factory manager, was lynched amid a wave of anti-Semitism after his conviction.

On Sunday,March 7, 1982, The Tennessean printed a10-page special section titled "Justice Betrayed: A Sin of Silence," in which a key witness in the Leo Frank case, Alonzo Mann, said false testimony led to Frank's conviction.

The main story from that special section, written by Jerry Thompson, Robert Sherborne and Frank Ritter under the headline "An Innocent Man Was Lynched," is republished here.

Leo Frank, convicted in 1913 and lynched in 1915 in one of the most notorious murder cases in American history, was innocent, according to a sworn statement given by a witness in the case.

Leo Frank(Photo: Tennessean archives)

The testimony used to convict Frank was perjured, and the real killer of 14-year-old Mary Phagan was the man who gave that false testimony, the witness has disclosed to The Tennessean.

Alzono Mann of Bristol, Va., is the witness. Now 83 and ailing with a heart condition, he was Frank's office boy in 1913 at the National Pencil Co. factory in Atlanta. It was there on Confederate Memorial Day in April that little Mary Phagan was slain when she went to collect the $1.20 she was owed for 10 hours of work the previous Monday.

"Leo Frank did not kill Mary Phagan," Mann said. "She was murdered instead by Jim Conley."

Mann's memory is not perfect when he is recalling people, places and events of nearly 70 year ago. But he remembers vividly the confrontation with Jim Conley, who had the limp form of Mary Phagan in his arms.

Mary's battered body was found face down on a pile of sawdust shavings in the factor basement. A cord was knotted around around her neck and there was massive bleeding from a deep wound to her head. Cinders were found under her fingernails, showing she had clawed the ground in her struggles. Her underclothing was ripped but there was no evidence indicating she had been raped.

The slaying shocked Atlanta and, after an investigation, police arrested Frank, the Jewish superintendent of the factory. The prosecution's star witness was Jim Conley, who worked at the factory as a sweeper. He said Frank committed the murder.

But Mann has told The Tennessean that he saw Conley on the day of the murder with the limp body of Mary Phagan in his arms. He believed he saw this only moments after Mary had been knocked unconscious, but apparently before she was murdered. And he believes that if he had yelled out, he might have saved Mary's life.

But Mann says he did not yell out, and that Conley told him:

"If you ever mention this, I'll kill you."

He was frightened and ran out, Mann says. After riding a trolley home, he told his mother what had happened. She directed him to remain silent and told him not to get involved. He obeyed her.

Visiting Mary Phagan's grave for the first time, Alonzo Mann reads the tombstone inscription. This photo ran in a special section about the killing of Phagan and lynching of Leo Frank in The Tennessean on Sunday, March 7, 1982.(Photo: Nancy Warnecke / Tennessean archives)

Mann's statement puts him in direct conflict with the testimony to which Conley swore during the trial. Conley testified he was ordered by Frank to dispose of Mary Phagan's body by burning in the basement's furnace. He said he and Frank were together the whole time they took the body from the second floor of the factory directly to the basement, using the elevator. He said he was not on the first floor with the body.

Mann, however, says he saw Conley along with Mary Phagan on the first floor of the building, standing near the trapdoor that led to the basement. It later became apparent after the trial that the elevator did not go to the basement that day. This fact was cited as crucial by Georgia Gov. John Slaton when he commuted Frank's sentence in 1915 to life imprisonment.

There is no way that what Mann says today can be reconciled with the version of events which Conley related in court in 1913. Either Conley lied then, or Mann is lying now.

Mary Phagan(Photo: Tennessean archives)

Because of the historical significance of what Mann is saying, The Tennessean asked him to submit to both a lie detector test and a psychological stress evaluation examination procedures designed to determine if someone is lying. The tests were given by the Ball Investigative Agency here, and investigator Jeffery S. Ball provided the newspaper with a formal statement saying Mann responded truthfully to every question he was asked.

The Tennessean, after an extensive investigation which included the examination of files and records in several states and interviews with people knowledgeable about the case, concluded that Mann's story needed to be made public.

This is the first time that Mann has spoken publicly about what he knows of the brutal murder which led to the most blatant display of anti-Semitism in the nation's history and to a revival of the Ku Klux Klan an irony because Conley, the chief witness, was a black man.

Mann says he told relatives and friends about what he knew. Once, while in the Army, he got into a fight with another soldier who disputed his statement that it was Conley and not Frank who killed Mary Phagan. And he once tried to tell his story to an Atlanta reporter.

For nearly 70 years his story has been a secret, and it has preyed on his mind. Now that he perhaps does not have long to live, it is vitally important that the truth come out, he told The Tennessean.

"I was the world to know the truth, Mann, explained in a series of interviews with the newspaper. "The testimony which Conley gave at the trial to convict Frank was a lie from the beginning to the end."

Jim Conley(Photo: Tennessean archives)

That trial, surrounded by mob hysteria and violent anti-Jewish sentiment, was the most sensational in Atlanta's history. No other trial even comes close, except perhaps that of Wayne Williams, convicted a week ago in the deaths of two young Atlanta blacks and suspected of being the mass murderer who terrorized Atlanta for months.

Although Mary Phagan was not raped, Frank was denounced as a sexual pervert; however, Conley was the only witness to suggest that.

The start prosecution witness made four separate statements to police in connection with the case, the first one saying nothing to implicate Frank. However, each of the three statements that followed increasingly involved Frank.

During the trial, it was the fourth and last statement that that formed the basis for Conley's court testimony. On cross-examination he repeatedly acknowledged that he had made numerous mistakes in his earlier statements to police, but efforts by the defense to break down his tale were largely unsuccessful.

Frank was found guilty and sentenced to hang, but appeals delayed the execution. Two years later his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the case had created a furor across the nation. At that point August 1915 a group of vigilantes stormed the prison where Frank was being held, abducted him and lynched him.

Four black had been lynched in Georgia in the month before.

Although he possessed information in 1913 which he believes would have cleared Frank, Alonzo Mann did not tell authorities what he knew. He says he did not speak out because Conley threatened to kill him if he did and because his mother and father convinced him he should keep silent.

Now, finally, he has come forward with his story.

Alonzo Mann in 1982.(Photo: Tennessean archives)

"I wish I had done it differently," he says. "I wish I had told what I knew. But I never thought Mr. Frank would be convicted. And once he was convicted, I was sure he would eventually get out of it. I knew he was not guilty.

"I never fully realized until I was older that if I had told what I new Leo Frank would have been acquitted and gone free. Instead he was imprisoned. After he was convicted, my mother told me there was nothing we could do to change the jury's verdict. My father agreed with her. I continued to remain silent. Later, Frank was lynched by a mob from Marietta, Ga. I know, of course, that because I kept silent Leo Frank lost his life.

"I have spent many nights thinking about that. I have learned to live with it.

"At last I am able to get this off my heart. I believe it will help people to understand that courts and juries can make mistakes."

Mann first told his story to Tennessean reporter Jerry Thompson. Over a period of several weeks he repeated it many times to a team of Tennessean staff members including reporter Robert Sherborne. The reporters and the Tennessean chief librarian, Sandra Roberts, then began a thorough investigation of the Mary Phagan-Leo Frank case, checking the information which Mann had given to see whether it challenged the historical record.

Alonzo Mann's story is vastly important because it corrects history and it also makes history. Many legal scholars and writers who have researched the case have come away convinced that Frank was innocent and that a tragic miscarriage of justice occurred in Atlanta in 1913.

And many who have examined the case have suspected that it was Jim Conley who murdered Mary Phagan. At least three persons later were quoted as saying he confessed to them he was the killer.

An artist's interpretation of the confrontation between Alonzo Mann, then 14, and Jim Conley, holding the limp form of Mary Phagan on the first floor of the National Pencil Co. This drawing appeared in the March 7, 1982, edition of The Tennessean.(Photo: Drawing by Pat Mitchell / Tennessean archives)

Researchers and scholars have speculated in books and articles over the years as to how the murder might have occurred.

But what has always been lacking has been that crucial piece of evidence the eyewitness account to refute Conley. Mann's testimony today, contained in a sworn affidavit accompanying this story, provides that vital evidence.

Mann was called as a witness for the defense at the trial of Frank, but he testified he left the factory at or shortly before noon on the day of the murder. He was not asked if he returned, and he did not volunteer that key piece of information. Nor did he tell anything else that he knew of the crime.

Had he spoken out then, the course of history in the South could have dramatically different. The aftermath of that crime shocked the region.

The murder of Mary Phagan and the trial of the man accused of killing her had immediate consequences. Members of the mob that lynched Frank were active in the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan The wave of anti-Semitism which swept the South as a result of the case led to creation of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

The chief prosecutor in the Frank case, HughDorsey, was elected governor; Tom Watson, whose newspaper condemned Frank as "a Jew Sodomite," was elected to the US. Senate. Gov. Slaton was exiled to political obscurity.

It all started with Mary Phagan's staying.

Atlanta police, under extreme pressure to solve the case, accused Leo Frank of having murdered Mary Phagan. Sex was implied as the motive.

The evidence was flimsy and circumstantial except for the detailed testimony of the prosecution's chief witness, Jim Conley.

Frank, 29, was from New York and was Jewish a Yankee Jew. Georgians, in the main, disliked Northerners and distrusted Jews. During the trial hundreds of people gathered in the street outside the courthouse, and there were frequent catcalls of "Kill the Jew!"

The family of Mary Phagan, like many others in Georgia, had moved to Atlanta from the farm to seek a better life. In those days it was not unusual for a girl as young as Mary Phagan who was within about five weeks of her 14th birthday to work full time. She worked for 12 cents an hour, fitting metal tips on the end of pencils.

Mary was a beautiful girl 4 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing about 105 pounds. She had long, reddish-blond hair that hung down her back when it was not braided.

The community was outraged by her murder. In life she had been anonymous. In death she became a symbol of Southern womanhood.

She became a symbol of all those Georgians who felt they had been victimized by the system. If Mary Phagan became the symbol of ravished innocence, Leo Frank became a symbol of all that was perceived to be wrong with the South of 1913 lust and perversion, greed and exploitation.

Before Atlantapolice finally decided on Frank as their prime suspect, they arrested six other persons,including Conley, in connection with the murder. In retrospect it appears investigators ignored evidence which pointed compellinglytoward Conley's guilt.

Scholars who have studied the events of 1913 in Atlanta have tried to figure out why this happened. Some have thought they found the answer in the words of the late Lutheran Otterbein Bricker, pastor of First Christian Church in Bellwood, Ga., who was Mary Phagan's minister. Some 10 years after her death, in a letter to a friend, he wrote:

"When the police arrested a Jew, and a Yankee Jew at that, all of the inborn prejudice against the Jews rose up in a feeling of satisfaction, that herewould be a victim worthy to pay for the crime. From that day on, the newspapers were filled with the most awful stories, affidavits and testimonies, which proved the guiltof Leo M. Frank beyond the shadow of a doubt.

"The police gotprostitutes and criminals, on whom they had something, to swear anything and everything they wanted them to swear to. And reading these stories in the paper day by day,there was no doubt left in the mind of the general public but that Frank was guilty. And the whole city was in a frenzy. We were all mad crazy, and in a blood frenzy. Frank was brought to trial in mob spirit. One could feel the waves of madness which swept us all."

So Frank was convicted. The court sentenced him to hang. His numerous appeals wound their way through the courts for another two years.

The commutation of his death sentence to life in prison by then-Gov. Slaton came five days before expiration of Slaton's term of office. It was an act of amazing courage. But it caused an uproar in Georgia. Armed mobs roamed the streets of Atlanta for days as Jewish store owners closed their businesses and hid behind boarded-up doors and windows. Some fled permanently from the city.

At one point a crowd of some 5,000 persons,armed with revolvers, rifles, saws, hatchets and dynamite, surrounded the governor's mansion. They were routed by the state militia before they could do harm to Slaton.

Within day of the announcement of the commutation order, a group of about 75 men, calling themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan, met at the site of the little girl's grave and vowed to avenge her death. Twenty-five of them were picked to exact vengeance against Frank.

Late one night a couple of weeks later, the vigilantes stormed the prison farm at Milledgeville, Ga.,where Frank was being kept. Frank was sleeping. He was dragged from bed, handcuffed, tossed into a car and driven 175 miles to an oak grove just outside Marietta within a stone's throw of where Mary Phagan was born.

There they knotted Frank's neck in a noose and hanged him from an oak branch facing in the direction of the Phagan home.

No one was ever arrested for the lynching of Leo Frank. A grand jury, called to investigate the case, failed to indict anyone. Tom Watson, a formidable political figure who controlled the populist movement in the state by preaching hatred of Jews, Catholics and blacks, wrote in his paper, The Jeffersonian:

"In putting the Sodomite murderer to death, theVigilance Committee has done what the Sheriff would have done if Slaton had not been of the same mold as Benedict Arnold. LET JEW LIBERTINES TAKE NOTICE! Georgia is not for sale to rich criminals."

The Mary Phagan-Leo Frank case was over. The murder had been avenged and that was the end of that. Or, so some thought at the time.

But it was not over. Today, nearly70 years later, the case still lives.

"I believe in the sight of God that Jim Conley killed Mary Phagan," says Alonzo Mann, who has brought the case back to life.

"There will be some people who will be angry at me because I kept all this silent until it was too late to save Leo Frank's life. They will say that being young is no excuse. They will blame my mother. The only thing I can say is that she did what she thought was best for me and the family.

"Other people may hate me for telling it. I hope not, but I am prepared for that, too. I know that I haven't a long time to live. All that I have said is the truth.

"When my time comes, I hope that God understands me better for having told it. That is what matters most."

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'An Innocent Man Was Lynched': Reporting exonerated Leo Frank in the murder of Mary Phagan - Tennessean

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month: What synagogues offer – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities. Many communities offer various programs for those with disabilities, and Northeast Ohio is no exception.

27501 Fairmount Blvd., Pepper Pike, OH 44124


What services does your congregation provide to those with disabilities?

Bnai Jeshurun Congregation has an active inclusion committee which is constantly monitoring for new ways for our synagogue to be both physically and emotionally accessible to everyone. A 30-minute inclusion Shabbat, geared to those who are mentally and physically other-abled and their families, is held every two months. Out next inclusion Shabbat is scheduled for March 27. Other projects have included the installation of a handicapped-accessible main entry and vestibule, large print prayer material, special seating for those who need it, hearing loops, and remodeling one of the bathrooms to be ADA compliant and gender neutral.

What makes your congregation different from others?

Bnai Jeshuruns uniqueness is its ongoing and very active attempt to ensure that our synagogue is a welcoming and spiritually satisfying experience for everyone. We are constantly on the lookout for what changes can be made to remove all barriers. Several changes have been made, others are in progress, and we have an open mind to new ideas from anyone who has found an obstacle to their being comfortable at our synagogue.

Do you accept volunteers for your programs?

All 20 members of the inclusion committee are volunteers and everyone is welcomed to join. In addition, all the members of our usher corps, all of whom are volunteers, are active partners in providing for those with special needs.

In what ways can people get involved in your congregation to work with others who have disabilities?

We are very open to the idea of getting others involved. Please contact Dr. Gerry Erenberg ( or Dale Nash ( for further information.

3246 Desota Ave.

Cleveland Heights, OH 44118


Beth El-The Heights Synagogue worships in an older building, which we have greatly altered so those with special needs will fit seamlessly into the congregation without calling attention to their conditions. We removed the long exterior stairway and installed a new entrance foyer with a handicap accessible, Shabbat-compliant elevator with stops at all three of our public floors. The entrance to the foyer is flat, but for a low door sill, and all three floors are flat.

We remodeled the sanctuary-level restroom, adding an ADA-height toilet and a grab bar and moving the sink, so as to make the bathroom more accessible to those with walkers or canes. It is not wheelchair accessible, because we were not able to enlarge the two door frames involved in entering it.

When we remodeled the sanctuary, we invested in wide chairs with thick cushioning that would suit everyone and eliminate any need for specially designated extra wide chairs.

We have purchased prayer books in large print for persons with visual impairment.

We offer assistance to attendees including escorts on an as-needed basis.

What makes your congregation different from others?

We are an independent, unaffiliated synagogue that welcomes all in traditional, egalitarian, and participatory Jewish worship and learning. Although we draw congregants from throughout the metropolitan area, we are rooted in Cleveland Heights, a long-standing center of Jewish life in Cleveland.

Do you accept volunteers for your programs?

Yes, we accept volunteers enthusiastically. We operate with only three part-time employees. Volunteers are essential to all facets of synagogue life.

In what ways can people get involved in your congregation to work with others who have disabilities?

Our social action committee affords opportunities for congregants to pursue a diverse range of initiatives, including working with those with disabilities.

14308 Triskett Road, Cleveland, OH 44111


What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

We have installed a ramp leading up to our back door, a handicapped restroom, as well as a lift inside to take people with mobility issues up to the second floor sanctuary.

26811 Fairmount Blvd, Beachwood, OH 44122

216-765-8300 ext. 101

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Congregation Shaarey Tikvah has one specific program we do each year with YouthAbility and the Jewish Family Service Association Ascentia program. It is called A Very Special Seder. This year it will happen from 5 to 8 p.m. March 25. It is a full seder meal using an abbreviated and colorful Haggadah using lots of interaction. The meal is followed by singing and dancing. I do not believe any other congregation has a program like this. We have about a dozen Shaarey Tikvah congregants who volunteer as greeters, table hosts and servers. About 50 people attend though we have had as high as 80 in recent years.

2049 E 115th St., Cleveland, OH 44106

What services does your congregation provide to those with disabilities?

We will have a JDAIM Shabbat dinner as part of an international JDAIM Shabbat initiative.

This year the Shabbat dinner will focus on mental health. We will launch a wellness initiative which will be planned and executed by a students. That may include things we do already and new programs like Jewish wellness events, classes and workshops, care packages etc..

Jennie and Jacob Sapirstein Synagogue

27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

216-831-6500, ext. 7708

What services does your congregation provide to those with disabilities?

Services in the Orthodox tradition are offered at 9:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. daily.

What makes your congregation different from others?

The synagogue at Menorah Park caters to aging adults who live on the campus and welcomes the general community. The synagogue is handicap accessible and large-print books are available. Campus residents enjoy interacting with visitors who often attend the daily minyans, Shabbat and holiday Services and weekly oneg Shabbat.

Do you accept volunteers for your programs?

Menorah Park seeks volunteers to engage with residents and clients with disabilities under our care. Adult volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and experiences bring their time, talent and energy to make a difference in the lives of residents and clients on our campus. Whether you have just a few hours a month to volunteer or are available for a weekly assignment, we have an opportunity that is right for you.

East Campus

27500 Shaker Blvd., Pepper Pike, OH 44124


What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Park Synagogue children and teenagers are ensured a Jewish education that is tailored to their individual needs through our center for individualized learning program. This includes using human resources, specially designed learning tools and specialized bar/bat mitzvah training.

What makes your organization different from others?

CommunityUnity is a program for Jewish adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. It is open to the entire Jewish Northeast Ohio community and includes participants with or without synagogue affiliation. It is a true adult learning community of Torah study and holiday celebrations with a sprinkling of mitzvot. The members are 20 to 60 years old.

26000 Shaker Blvd. , Beachwood, OH 44122


What services does your congregation provide to those with disabilities?

The Temple will have a special TGIS (Thank God Its Shabbat) service at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at to recognize Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. Led by Rabbi Stacy Schlein and temple arts director Rob Ross, this service will include sign language interpreting by congregant Karen Schiller, large print and Braille prayer books, and the services music and readings projected on a large screen. Wheelchairs are available in our lobby and our building and bimahs are accessible. It is our hope that this special inclusion Shabbat will enable all persons to participate fully. Following a multi-million dollar renovation to The Temple in 2016, the building is fully ADA compliant providing handicapped access throughout the building and bimahs, gender-neutral bathrooms, a hearing loop in the sanctuary and chapel, wheelchairs in lobby, projection of prayers on a large screen for the visually impaired, and a service once a month providing sign language interpretation and Braille prayer books, which are both available upon request for other services.

What makes your congregation different from others?

The Temple created an inclusion task force in 2017 to examine issues of inclusion and accessibility. The work of that group is now being implemented by a newly-formed, board-sponsored committee comprised of clergy, staff and lay leaders.

Do you accept volunteers for your programs?

The Temple welcomes volunteers for programs and our services and programs are open to the community. For information or to volunteer, contact The Temple at 216-831-3233.

In what ways can people get involved in your congregation to work with others who have disabilities?

For information, contact The Temple at 216-831-3233.

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Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month: What synagogues offer - Cleveland Jewish News

Man admits he lied about being stabbed outside West Bloomfield synagogue – The Oakland Press

Posted By on February 21, 2020

A Farmington Hills man has pleaded guilty to making a false police report, in which he lied about being stabbed by an assailant making anti-Semitic remarks.

Sean Samitt, 26, entered his plea Feb. 20 before Judge Phyllis McMillen of Oakland County Circuit Court. Sentencing is scheduled for April 8.

According to police, it was Dec. 15, 2019 when Samitt reported that he was leaving Temple Kol Ami synagogue in West Bloomfield Township where he was employed when a man confronted him in the parking lot, making anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant statements.

Samitt said the man attacked him but he fought back and was stabbed in the process. Police were contacted by security staff at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital when Samitt arrived at the emergency room with a stab wound to the abdomen.

Though police reportedly suspected right away that Samitts account was fabricated, the parking lot and area around the synagogue was searched by officers and police dogs. Samitts self-inflicted stab wound didnt require stitches, as reported by Fox 2 Detroit.


Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard has been named to President Donald Trumps commission on law enforcement the first such presidential co

A semi-annual public hearing of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission is scheduled for March 19 in Southfield.

A Lyon Township woman pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge related to the baseball bat beating of a man who once considered her his girlfri

A 35-year-old Commerce Township man was taken to the Oakland County Jail on Monday night after allegedly chasing an occupied vehicle while hol

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Man admits he lied about being stabbed outside West Bloomfield synagogue - The Oakland Press

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in Parkland, believes 2020 ‘is the most crucial year in this country’s history’ – JTA News

Posted By on February 21, 2020

NEW YORK (JTA) Two years ago, Fred Guttenbergs daughter Jaime headed to school as usual. She never came back.

Jaime, a bright-eyed 14-year-old who loved dance and wanted to be a pediatric physical therapist, was one of the 17 people killed in the mass shooting at the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018.

Normally people look at life milestones with children, and they smile and they laugh and they get excited, Guttenberg said in a phone interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency hours after visiting his daughters grave on the second anniversary of Jaimes burial. And I am recognizing my daughters life milestone today, her burial, by having gone to her cemetery this morning.

Less than two weeks earlier, Guttenberg had been ejected from President Donald Trumps State of the Union address after yelling out in protest as Trump spoke about gun rights. The moment offered a stark reminder of how dramatically his life had changed.

Before the shooting, Guttenberg had sold a company that owned 19 Dunkin Donuts franchises and was dabbling in a number of fields, including real estate and auto brokerage. He also was caring for his brother, who was suffering from cancer.

Everything changed after Jaime was murdered in one of Americas deadliest school shootings. Guttenberg set aside his business plans. He also stopped attending synagogue, finding it impossible to understand how his daughters death could have been part of Gods plan.

And he emerged as one of the nations most vocal gun reform activists in a country where guns cost nearly 40,000 people their lives the year before the Parkland shooting.

He spends all his time on the cause, traveling to meet with elected officials across the country, doing media interviews and writing to his more than 250,000 followers on Twitter. His wife, Jennifer, and son, Jesse, also have spoken out on the issue.

Guttenberg says he tries to remain calm while speaking about his daughter and his anger about the lack of national policies to stem gun violence.

But sometimes, like when he listened to Trump declare an intention to protect gun rights at the State of the Union, his anger cant help but spill through. He later apologized and said he should not have yelled out.

I dont ever want to do things that detract from what my purpose is, which is to lower the gun violence death rate, he told JTA when asked about the incident.

Guttenberg with his daughter Jaime, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting. (Courtesy of Guttenberg)

As the general election looms in November, Guttenberg says he has a singular focus: putting in office a president and lawmakers who will flout the countrys powerful gun lobby and instead enact laws that keep Americans safe from gun violence.

The way I see it, this is the most crucial year in this countrys history, he said. This is the year that can determine whether or not this country will ever be able to pass real gun safety legislation.

Guttenberg says local gun reform measures give him hope, but he blames the countrys most influential senator, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for a lack of broader change. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said he would not allow any gun-related legislation to be put up for a vote unless Trump says he would sign it into law.

Its the job of the House and the the Senate to pass legislation to the president and to force the president to either sign it or not, and Mitch McConnell has refused to do his job, so we need to fire him, Guttenberg said. And I am confident and optimistic that were going to, and I am confident and optimistic that after the next election, we will see gun safety legislation pass on a national level.

Though Guttenberg has yet to endorse any presidential candidate, he has praised several Democratic contenders on Twitter and appeared in campaign ads for Joe Biden, the former vice president who, like Guttenberg, has experienced searing losses.

Biden lost his first wife, Neilia, and infant daughter Naomi in a 1972 car crash and his son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015. He called Guttenberg after the shooting, and the two later met and talked about how to cope with grief.

Ive talked openly and publicly about how, to be quite honest, some of the things he said to me have been the most important parts of my path forward in terms of healing and mission and purpose, so Ive been very thankful to him, Guttenberg said.

One Democrat he isnt a fan of is Bernie Sanders, the Jewish senator who is considered the front-runner for the partys presidential nomination. Guttenberg has criticized the Vermont senators track record on guns, and in turn has been harassed by Sanders supporters.

Sanders has drawn criticism for not doing more to disavow backers who have gone after progressives who do not support him. Guttenberg says he has reached out to Sanders campaign but has not been satisfied with the response.

Guttenberg has also struggled with his faith. Raised in a Conservative Jewish family, Guttenberg and his family used to belong to Temple Beth Chai, a liberal independent synagogue in Parkland, a heavily Jewish suburb about an hour north of Miami.

But Jaimes death, which came just months after Guttenbergs brother passed away, made him question God. Though hes still on good terms with his rabbi, Guttenberg decided to leave the synagogue.

Ive not yet come to peace with my struggles with religion, he said. What I will say is my faith is stronger than ever, but its placed elsewhere. Its placed in the people around me. Im so amazed by how amazing people have been that my faith in humanity is strong.

Guttenberg says his optimism and activism shouldnt be mistaken for healing.

It doesnt mean that Ive gotten over what happened, he said. It doesnt mean that it gets easier, but every day I find new ways to get through my day that have meaning to me, that I can be proud of and happy over.

Read more here:

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in Parkland, believes 2020 'is the most crucial year in this country's history' - JTA News

Temple Israel of DeLand is 66 and steadily growing – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Posted By on February 21, 2020

There is a thriving Jewish community in DeLand, Florida and it's growing by leaps and bounds.

Temple Israel of DeLand has been in existence since the late 1940s, not to be mistaken for Temple Israel in Winter Springs or Temple Israel of Daytona. They are separate entities.

The synagogue is situated 22 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and is less than five miles from the St. Johns River. DeLand is located in Volusia County, which is the county seat, and it's near Stetson University, a highly reputable liberal arts college founded in 1883.

The founders of Temple Israel were merchants in the area and they made up a small professional community who settled in a town whose population the year the synagogue opened in 1954, was a little over 8,650.

In the early 1950s, segregation defined the landscape. Black and white schools and bathrooms existed in a time only those of a certain age can remember. Jews were tolerated. However, there was a line that wasn't crossed socially. Jews living in DeLand had to stick together.

A small group of families collectively purchased a piece of property located on East New York Avenue. Miami developer John Bigman partnered with developer Max Weiss, and both contributed $500 each and agreed to build the property at a very low cost to its founding members. The Avins, Bauns, Fishers, Gibbs, Greenbergs, Shapiros, Snitzers, Speirers, and Weiss families pitched in $500 each to help make their vision a reality.

"It was called a 'social center.' One could make the point that it was the forerunner of today's Jewish community center. Harry Shapiro, who was a dressmaker at the time, was the first spiritual leader during its early years," Bob Sharff, past president of Temple Israel, explained.

They played cards, held life events like bris ceremonies and b'nei mitzvahs, and they worshiped together. No one knew for sure when it transitioned from a social center to a full-time synagogue. But they didn't have to drive to Daytona Beach to attend services anymore.

The 1954 building has remained unchanged. No major renovations have been done to the property. Names of past congregants and their families who were active in the temple in the last half of the twentieth century are enshrined on the walls.

"Its original structure is where we worship today. When you walk in here you sense the love... their love has never gone away. You can feel it when you walk through the door. I firmly believe it's the reason for the success of our congregation," said David Weinstein, current president of Temple Israel.

In the 66 years that Temple Israel has stood, their mostly Christian neighbors accepted them into the community. Temple Israel and its members have lived through some of the most prolific social and technological advancements in American history.

A small bimah is elevated at the end of the room. Behind it is an ark holding two Torah scrolls. During high-holiday services a choir consisting of eight to 10 members sits to the left-hand side of the platform. They sing traditional tunes accompanied by the rabbi on guitar.

The history of the congregation between the years 1951 and 1969 has not been adequately researched and recorded. That generation is mostly gone. In 1969 Jacob "Jack" Levinson became the spiritual leader of Temple Israel. He was a bus driver in New York City before coming to Deltona. He became the spiritual leader who did everything. He was a beloved figure who helped grow the congregation to more than 80 members. Over the years the synagogue has had various spiritual/prayer leaders.

Rabbi Reuven Silverman has been the spiritual leader of the congregation since 2007. Prior to assuming his role at the synagogue, Silverman was in the insurance business. "I owned a Nationwide Insurance franchise from 1981 until 2017." Rabbi Silverman said.

"I, however, have always had 'a calling,' to the rabbinate. I was the Saturday morning spiritual leader at Temple Shalom of Deltona way back in the 1980s, as they had no rabbi at the time.

"After that I was the Shabbat Gabbi for the Chabad of Daytona for approximately eight years. My wife and I bought a house over there so we could walk to Shul. I appeared on a radio program called The Jewish Sound. I learned a lot about my own spirituality during that time."

The rabbi is proud that his ordination is on the wall in the Oneg room of the Shul. "I remember the ordination ceremony was held in Boynton Beach, Florida," he recalled, "and from then on, my life's direction has changed dramatically. This, coincidently, occurred during the 60th anniversary of Temple Israel in 2014."

"We love him," is the consensus of all of Temple Israel's members. Rabbi Silverman is "genuine, knowledgeable, caring and a hoot."

They're known as a 'Reformadox Synagogue'-as they have elements from all over the traditional Jewish spectrum.

Between prayers at one Saturday morning service, the rabbi began telling a story about his trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles the day before. "Did you ever notice how excruciatingly long it takes to get through the DMV?" he observed. He told about the conversations he had with the people he had met with that morning. He continued on with the Saturday morning service, praying, and at times singing the prayers accompanying himself and the congregation while strumming chords on his guitar, pausing from time to time to interject his continuing saga at the DMV. Everyone in the congregation was engaged by his exploits, and reveled in his observations on human nature. His stories were hysterical. He managed to teach a lesson of what it is to be a Jew both morally, spiritually, doing everyday mundane things.

Temple Israel has a very active Men's Club and Sisterhood. Renee Kristall a member of the sisterhood said, "It's all about my sisters. We have a great time together. We have a book club, we've held fundraisers for Breast Cancer, we play mahjong weekly at the synagogue. And once a year our biggest fundraiser is our rummage sale. Many of us in the congregation contribute. We put the donated merchandise on tables and tents outside for an end of the week event. People in the community now look for it each year as it's become so popular. There is so much to do and you can get involved as little or as much as you want."

On Sunday mornings the Temple Israel Men's Club members get together for coffee and breakfast at Boston's Coffee house in downtown DeLand. "Perhaps someone will get the idea of opening a really good Jewish deli in downtown DeLand. The name would have a ring to it, you know-Downtown DeLand Deli. It's a natural!" They all commented and agreed if it ever happened, they would support it wholeheartedly.

"We have a Passover Seder at the temple each year. The food is fantastic and the coming together of our congregants is just wonderful. Everyone pitches in. All the food is prepared Kosher for Pesach by our president, David Weinstein. I kosher the kitchen. The kids are home from college, many of them grew up and were bar/bat mitzvah at the temple, so to them it's a homecoming. We're one big family," Rabbi Silverman said.

"On Wednesday evenings, we get together for Torah study. Every congregant is welcome. I prepare for this every week and we all learn together. The Wednesday Torah study is something that I love to do," Rabbi Silverman said.

Tables set at Temple Israel of DeLand for Tu B'Shevat seder.

Last year Stetson University built a beautiful new Hillel center on its campus. Currently the Jewish population at Stetson is estimated to be over 11 percent, which means there are over 300 Jewish students on campus. Temple Israel welcomes the Stetson students.

During Chanukah, a Chavurah dinner was held at the Victoria Gardens Clubhouse, a 55-plus development that has been in existence for approximately 17 years. The attendance of the Chavurah dinner exceeded 70 people. Several attendees said that Jews from all over are moving into the Victoria Gardens development now being developed by Kolter Homes. They joked that "It feels like we're living in a modern-day shtetl."

"If you live in DeLand, or are in the area for Shabbat, be sure to check out Temple Israel of DeLand. You'll find a warm, welcoming, hamish group of people who will make you feel at home!" said Rabbi Silverman.

For more information about Temple Israel of DeLand, call 386-736-1646.

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Temple Israel of DeLand is 66 and steadily growing - Heritage Florida Jewish News

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