StandWithUs celebrates 19th anniversary of its founding – San Diego Jewish World

Posted By on May 24, 2020

May 22, 2020

Other items in todays column include:*Yiddish theatre faces obstacles*San Diego County Jewish community pandemic news*Jewish American Heritage Month*San Diego County Jewish clergy*Recommended reading*In memoriam

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO StandWithUs celebrated the 19th anniversary of its founding on Thursday with an international webcast that showcased its growth and successes helping students on college campuses, high schools and middle schools learn about Israel and defend against anti-Semitic attacks. The program was emceed by comedian Elon Gold and also featured the singing of Hatikvah, Israels National Anthem, by Rabbi/ Cantor Alison Wissot of Temple Judea of Tarzana, California, and a popular, optimistic Hebrew song by Israeli singer David Broza on the theme of things will get better.

Roz Rothstein, the CEO and co-founder of the pro-Israel organization, recalled that during the Second Intifada in 2000 and 2001, she was very frustrated that American Jewish organizations didnt rise to the level of Israels defense that she thought necessary to counter Palestinians anti-Zionist propaganda. On May 8, 2001, Koby Mandell, 13, and Yosef Ishran, 14, were murdered while hiking near the Israeli settlement of Tekoa. Koby has both U.S. and Israeli citizenship, his family having immigrated to Israel five years earlier.

Those murders precipitated the founding of StandWithUs by Rothstein, her husband Jerry Rothstein, and Esther Renzer. The budding organization along with Mandells grieving parents Seth and Sherri Mandell successfully called on the U.S. Congress to take action against Palestinian terrorists who harm American citizens. The Mandells also founded the Koby Mandell Foundation, which support families bereaved by terrorism.

During the webcast, Seth Mandell said they started the Foundation to give meaning to Kobys and Yosefs lives. Sherri Mandell related that after someone is killed by terror, the family feels alone. Had her son lived, she said, he might have become a lawyer or a judge because he loved to argue.

From that introduction, the program pivoted to a presentation about the work StandWithUs has been doing since then. Maddy Gunn told of a time while a student at Michigan State University a mezuzah was snatched from the door of her apartment. At first police were unresponsive, but when she obtained video footage of the vandal, the police identified the perpetrator. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, she said, she had learned that one should act in the face of anti-Semitism, not stand by. She said through the entire process, she was aided by StandWithUs.

Yael Lerman, representing StandWithUss Saidoff Legal Department, said with the help of 100 pro bono attorneys, StandWith Us has participated in 1,000 cases in behalf of students and professors, with 100 cases in process this year so far.

StandWithUS created a Center for Combating Antisemitism, which was represented on the webcast by Carly Gammill, a Gentile. She said the Center helps identify anti-Semitism wherever it occurs; has sought to bring about a consistent definition of Anti-Semitism to aid law enforcement; has produced educational videos, and, drawing on the resources of the Saidoff Legal Department, has helped to assure legal rights are protected of pro-Israel professors and students who find themselves in hostile university environments. The Center also posts rewards for people providing information leading to the successful prosecution of hate crimes.

Rena Nasar First, who heads StandWithUss program for college and university students, said that during the coronavirus pandemic after many colleges switched from in-person classroom learning to distance learning, StandWithUs thus far has hosted 125 webinars on such subjects as combating anti-Semitism, the history of Israel, and Israels humanitarian aid efforts around the world. The program also enrolled 151 students to serve as Emerson Fellows organizing pro-Israel activities on campuses throughout North America.

Miri Kornfeld said approximately 250 webcasts reached 4,000 high school students across North America, providing them with crash courses about Israel, and a taste of the controversies they might encounter once they enroll at college campuses. He said 125 high school interns will lead pro-Israel gatherings at schools across the continent.

Mina Rush said she is currently working with nearly 200 middle schools across the continent, providing home learning programs about Israel. After viewing the content, middle school students write essays about Israel that are judged by well-known journalists. Winners receive Amazon gift cards.

Besides its programs in the U.S., StandWithUs has operations in Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, and Israel, the latter headed by Michael Dickson. He reported that after people in Israel were required by the pandemic to quarantine at home, his office launched a web conference in which 150 Israel fellows participated. He estimated that through social media platforms StandWithUs has reached 28 million people with its messages.

In a project still to be completed, StandWithUs is making Minority of One, a documentary about Hussein Aboubakr, an Arab Muslim who grew up in Cairo, Egypt, where he was taught to hate Israelis and Jews, but after educating himself did a complete turnaround.

San Diego is one of the North American cities in which StandWithUs maintains a permanent staff headed by Yosef Condiotti, the regional director, and Yael Steinberg, the associate director. Among those who gave brief greetings on the video wasJenny Josephson, an active member of StandWithUs regional board.

*Yiddish Theatre faces obstaclesPlaywright and author Nahma Sandrowwas the special guest Friday on a webinar sponsored by the San Diego-based Yiddish Academic and Arts Association of North America (YAAANA) moderated by the organizations founder Jana Masurkiewicz Meisarosh.

The author of the bookVagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theatre said that although there are serious, elevated works in Yiddish theatre, the medium is beset with expectations from audiences and producers that Yiddish theatre is meant to be comedic and to have music.

Whereas in the 19th Century, Yiddish theatre in crowded Jewish neighborhood offered opportunities for informal familial outings, in which people felt free to unwrap their candies and talk back to the actors, in the 20th century more serious forms emerged, intended not just as a show but for a glorification of Yiddish culture. Audiences would remain quiet and respectful during the performances, but many would write letters to the editor afterwards commenting on the subject matter.

She said, however, that there is a tendency of some theatre companies to add vaudeville style shtick to serious works. She watched one serious play, in which the local theatre company kept inserting spitting tu, tu, tu into the dialogue, even though it didnt belong.

Asked what impactFiddler on the Roof, which was adapted from the stories of Yiddish writer Sholem Alechem had on Yiddish theatre, Sandrow said to the effect that it popularized the shtetl experience with Gentile audiences, probably helped to promote Yiddish theatre.

However comedian Goldie Hoffmanwho also participated in the Zoom call, suggested that as a result ofFiddlerssuccess both as a long-running Broadway play and a movie, now people expect that and if a Yiddish production isnt like that, it doesnt sell it.

Yiddish is so tied to nostalgia, Hoffman said.

Agreeing Sandrow said after she wroteVagabond Stars, she received a letter from a young man who said the book had helped him rediscover his Jewish roots not a religious book, but one on theatre.*

Jewish American Heritage Month

* Over the last two days, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) has honored pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and journalist Charles Krauthammer.

*San Diego County Jewish clergy

*Rabbi David Castiglione of Temple Adat Shalom of Poway was among 500 rabbis and Jewish communal letters who signed a letter urging the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to lead the way by adopting a policy of barring from its activities any Jewish organizational representative who has committed sexual harassment or assault. Such a policy would set an example of leadership on this critical issue and for zero tolerance of sexual harassment or abuse in Jewish communal life. It would also ensure that the Jewish community can have full confidence in the integrity of those who represent our interests.

*Cantor Cheri Weiss, founder of the San Diego Outreach Synagogue, will be ordained as a rabbi on Monday, May 25, at the Academy for Jewish Religion California, a seminary based in Los Angeles.

*Cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro, formerly of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego and now of Congregation Beth El in Vorhees, New Jersey, was among 35 female cantors who together sang a stirring rendition of Yerushalayim Shel Sahav (Jerusalem of Gold)in honor of the 53rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during Israels 1967 Six Day War. The video of the assembled cantors may be seen above. Thanks to Frieda Barkin of San Diego for forwarding it to us.

*Rabbi Joshua Dorsch of Tifereth Israel Synagogue reports that his congregation will hold its first Zoom bat mitzvah on Sunday, May 24, whenYael Broudy and her family will webcast the rite. Yael will lead us in our service, chant Torah, and share words of Torah, Dorsch said.


San Diego County Jewish community pandemic news

*Jeanne Shenkman, our correspondent at Seacrest Village Retirement Community, reports that seniors in the Jewish community-run facility, were able on Friday to go on their first outing since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing their masks, they went by van for a sightseeing tour along the Pacific Coast Highway.

*Mimi Pollack, who along with friends in the Small Movement has been arranging for headbands and masks to be sewn and delivered to health care workers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, sent along a photo of the appreciative staff. At right is Dr. Frank Kalmar, who coordinated the effort for the hospital.

*Recommended reading*Barbara Henry of The San Diego Union-Tribunereports that the Encinitas City Council unanimously approved a one-year extension of the Jewish Family Service program providing parking and assistance for homeless people living in their cars at Leichtag Commons. The story said that a majority of people emailing comments to the City Council were supportive of the project in contrast to meetings months ago when opponents were the majority in the audience.

*Jerry Klingerreports in The Times of Israel about a sculpted tribute to Anne Frank that is being placed in Israel and other countries around the world at his expense.

*In memoriamBrian Irving Pearl, 86, died Thursday, May 21, Am israel Mortuary reported. Rabbi David Kornberg of Congregation Beth Am will conduct graveside funeral services at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 24, at El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego.

*Donald H. Harrison is editor ofSan Diego Jewish World.He may be contacted via Free obituaries in memory of members of the San Diego County Jewish community are sponsored onSan Diego Jewish Worldby Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg.

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StandWithUs celebrates 19th anniversary of its founding - San Diego Jewish World

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