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Jewish housing for disabled adults adds two residences in S.F. J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on October 19, 2022

Heather Ostrau has lived in the Gary Shupin Independent Living Community, described as an urban kibbutz for adults with developmental challenges, since fall 2019. Prior to that, she was active in the Shupin Social Club, which offers activities and services to nonresidents.

Its a very nice community, and I like how supportive the staff are, Ostrau said.

Ostrau is autistic, which she said makes living alone difficult. At Shupin, she maintains her own apartment, cooks her own meals and holds a job, while also having access to support and services when needed.

Weve always wanted her to be as independent as possible, Heathers mother, Sandy, said. This program provides the assistance to get her to be as independent as she can be.

Now the Shupin Community is growing nearly doubling its capacity to accommodate 24 residents when it opens two new residences in the coming year. The program, run by S.F.-based Jewish Family and Childrens Services, is the only one of its kind in San Francisco.

Its a very nice community, and I like how supportive the staff are.

[We create] a supportive, nurturing community for people who have various kinds of developmental challenges and people who dont to be together, and to help those individuals who need the help to achieve their highest level of independent functioning, said JFCS executive director Anita Friedman.

About 150 individuals in all are served by the program, both the live-in residents and members of the Shupin Social Club.

With the addition of the two new buildings, Shupin will have a total of four residential units in the Laurel Heights neighborhood. The existing homes, Shupin House and Garys Place, accommodate 13 residents. Shupin House is open to men and women with experience living independently, while Garys Place welcomes men ages 18 to 34 living outside the family home for the first time and therefore requiring more day-to-day support. The level of support residents receive depends on their individual needs, Friedman said. They cook together, play games, go on outings and attend Shabbat services.

We wanted to not create a building that felt institutional, Friedman said. We wanted it to feel like a home.

The new residences, Adys Place and Gersons Place, will provide single-gender housing. Adys Place will be home to seven women, while Gersons Place will house four men.

The Shupin Community was established in 2009 with the donation of Shupin House by the Barbara and Gerson Bakar Foundation. It is in memory of Gerson Bakars nephew Gary Shupin, who lived with developmental disabilities. Shupin is an extension of JFCS disability services program, which works to provide social and educational aid to the Bay Area community. Services for adults with disabilities are often lacking, Friedman said, and JFCS and the Jewish community have stepped up to help fill the gap.

Adys Place and Gersons Place are being added to the Shupin Community with more help from the Bakar Foundation.

Ostrau is excited about the changes coming to her home. I think that it will be nice, because it will expand our friendship circle and will add more opportunities. she said. Well be able to serve more people.

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Jewish housing for disabled adults adds two residences in S.F. J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

Simchat Torah is the best Jewish speed-dating event – Forward

Posted By on October 19, 2022

Simchat Torah in Netanya Courtesy of Getty Images

By Mira FoxOctober 17, 2022

Tu BAv is supposed to be Jewish Valentines Day. But really, the day to meet your future spouse or your ex, or your current partners ex, or anyone youve ever had a crush on is Simchat Torah.

The final day of the autumn Jewish holidays, Simchat Torah marks the end of the yearly cycle of Torah readings called the parsha. Congregations read the last portion of Deuteronomy, then go back to the beginning of Genesis.

This is not obviously a romantic occasion.

But part of the celebration of the parsha cycle includes singing and marching the Torah around the synagogue in an often raucous, ecstatic dance that can spill onto the streets. (Theres also usually a lot of booze.) Its contagious and joyful, and the perfect place to meet your beshert.

The holiday is, even in its most traditional roots, about love of Torah, but also of community and of the Jewish people. It seems only natural to also find love for a specific Jewish person on the same day. Communal religious experiences were, after all, developed as a way to create feelings of connection to God, to community, so why not to your future spouse?

Temple Beth Shalom fondly known as the Tremont Street shul in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was my graduate school synagogue, and I still trek back for its famed Simchat Torah celebrations, which sometimes draw over 1000 people. Its the ultimate place to see and be seen in the Boston Jewish community.

Every minyan comes together as do several other congregations in Cambridge and Somerville, who all bring their Torahs over to join in with the festivities. Since the 1970s,Harvard and MITs Jewish undergraduate and graduate students have also made the trek to celebrate on Tremont Street and boost the pheromone quotient.

The police shut the block down and the people circle each Torah, belting out celebratory songs. (Its not too hard to manage to end up holding hands with your crush as you dance the hora.) Unlike many Jewish rituals, Simchat Torah is uninhibited and light on structure, with fewer words to know or prayers to mumble through. Its easy to fit in and be welcomed as a Jew of all experience and observance levels; the songs are repetitive and largely formed of nonsense syllables, so all you have to do is follow the crowd.

Then you take a break, sit on the steps, and, at least in times before COVID, pass around flasks and jars and even entire bottles of wine or whiskey someone somehow produced from within their coat.

An incomplete list of people Ive run into amidst the Simchat Torah drunken revelry includes: my roommates friends from college, a group of Harvard undergraduates from my Hebrew class, a podcast host I like, a friend of a friend Id met once, months before, and my old Israeli roommates boyfriend, who I hadnt seen since I lived in Jerusalem. (The friend of a friend became a short-lived fling.)

Of course, your mileage may vary with your congregation. Some Orthodox communities dont include women in the dancing or allow them to hoist Torah scrolls, which puts a kibosh on the flirting. And other aging congregations dont always have the knees for exuberantly jumping around.

But given that many Simchat Torah celebrations spill out onto the streets West End Avenue in New York is known to gather a crowd you can probably follow the noise to something raucous and joyful and maybe a little flirtatious. And if youre lucky, maybe youll find more than dancing.

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Simchat Torah is the best Jewish speed-dating event - Forward

Women of Vision | Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on October 19, 2022

National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan (NCJW|MI) will host its annual fundraising event Women of Vision on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. The event features Juju Chang, the Emmy award-winning co-anchor of ABC News Nightline and a regular contributor to ABC Television Networks Good Morning America and 20/20.

Changs highly visible reporting on Asian hate is the culmination of decades of covering everything from natural disasters to terrorism, mass shootings, immigration, violence against the LGBTQUIA+ community and inequities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This years Women of Vision benefit luncheon returns to an in-person event for the first time since the pandemic started and includes boutiques on site and a raffle.

One of the most prominent Asian-Americans in broadcast news, Chang leveraged her position to become a much-admired champion of social change. She made U.S. broadcast history co-anchoring the 2021 ABC News Live special Stop the Hate: The Rise in Violence Against Asian-Americans with fellow Korean American co-anchor Eva Pilgrim and a cast of Asian-American and Pacific Islander journalists, thought leaders, lawmakers and celebrities. Changs husband, Neal Shapiro, is Jewish, and she describes herself as a Jew by choice, bringing up her three sons as Jewish. Chang is also a powerful voice against antisemitism and all forms of discrimination, scapegoating and persecution.

With the rise of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, Ms. Chang will be discussing the historical parallels between Asian hate and antisemitism, having raised her children in a blended cultural environment, referring to them as 50% Korean and 100% Jewish, said Sallyjo Levine, NCJW|MI President.We are thrilled that Ms. Chang will be sharing her personal story that has so many underlying themes of civil rights and social justice.

The event will also honor three local women. Carolyn Krieger, founder of CKC Agency, a public relations company in Farmington Hills, will be awarded The Woman of Vision Award because of the trusted relationships she has developed with media, her clients and the corporate world in a 35+ year career. To be recognized by the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan, an organization I deeply respect and have supported for many years, personally and professionally, is a profound honor and truly humbling, Krieger said.

The Josephine S. Weiner Award for Community Service will be awarded to Carrie Kushner and Marilynn Sabin for their unstinting volunteer work, especially their dedication to providing Kosher Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors.

The fundraising event will support NCJW|MIs many community-service projects and social justice advocacy work. Recent projects of the 131-year old organization include the Back 2 School Store, which in August provided free clothing and school supplies to 900 Detroit children in need, literacy outreach, fleece blankets for hospitalized children, a program providing backpacks and school supplies to 900 homeless students in Oakland County schools and 450 children in need identified through Jewish Family Service and Kosher Meals on Wheels. The organization is also at the forefront of voter advocacy and womens reproductive rights, holding programs and educational initiatives to promote these issues.

Tickets for the Women of Vision event are available at several donation levels, starting at $54. Registration is from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.; boutiques are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; meet-and-greet with Juju Chang is from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 11:45 a.m. onwards will be awards, the guest speaker, lunch and the raffle.

For more information on the program and to buy tickets, go to

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Women of Vision | Detroit Jewish News - The Jewish News

Why Hungarys Jews Are the Safest in Europe – The American Conservative

Posted By on October 19, 2022

Turning down Krystalgade, the security barrier sticks out like a sore thumb. It resembles a military checkpoint, out of place in a cobblestoned neighborhood ofCopenhagen. Surely the machine guns, the bollards, and the security cameras must indicate the residence of a senior politician or royal family member.

It is actually something far less noteworthy: the simple presence of Danish Jews. The Great Synagogue of Copenhagen had twice been the target of terrorist attacks. Palestinian militants bombed the shul in the 1980s, and thirty years later an Islamic fundamentalist shot and killed a community member. Copenhagens renowned synagogue is now a militarized place of worship.

There is nothing exceptional about Copenhagen.As I learnt during my recent travels across a dozen European countries, the securitization of Jewish life across the continent is the norm, not the exception. Every Shabbat service I attended, whether it was in Prague or London or Majorca, required submitting passport photos, documentation of my connection to the Jewish community, and sometimes even a rabbinical reference. Today, European Jews can effectively only practice their religion behind a defensive fortress. I call it Stockade Judaism.

And for good reason. Virtually every one of the countries I visited has experienced violent outbursts against local Jewish communities. Swedish synagogues have been firebombed. A 16-year-old Syrian migrant and three accomplices planned to attack the Jewish community in Hagen, Germany, on Yom Kippur. Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Frenchwoman, was thrown from her Paris flat to her death to shouts of Allahu Akbar. The courts ruled that the assailant was not responsible for his actions because his consumption of marijuana had induced a psychotic episode. British authorities dropped charges against men driving through London screaming Fuck the Jews, Kill the Jews, and Rape their daughters. To be a Jew in Europe these days looks rather grim.

That is, apart from Hungary.

Viktor Orbns Hungary has become a polarizing issue across the American political spectrum. For many, he represents nothing more than an articulate and calculating fascist. However, among a growing and influential cohort of American conservatives, Orbn has come to represent a valuable counterpoint, a muscular and unapologetic alternative to an ossified Republican Party stuck on corporate tax rates.

It is here amidst debates over immigration, identity, religion, and sexual politics that many have turned to the Jewish Question as a key barometer of Orbns success. Despite what even his most vociferous critics might say, Orbn has seemingly stumbled upon the secret sauce for keeping his countrys Jews safe during a time when virtually every other European country is inundated with skyrocketing levels of antisemitism.

Rod Dreher was among the first commentators to draw attention to the unique absence of antisemitism in Hungary, pointing to the now-famous 2018 European Union report on antisemitic experiences and attitudes. Hungarian Jews reported the lowest levels of fear when it came to verbal abuse or physical violence amongst the dozen European countries polled. Compared to the enlightened Western European countries of France, Germany, and Belgium, Hungarian Jews seemed to living in a completely different universe. Nearly 60 percent of French Jewish respondents worried about being the victim of antisemitic abuse themselves, and 70 percent worried that a family member would be. Germany was marginally better with rates hovering between the high 40s to low 60s. Hungary boasted numbers in the low teens to high 20s.

Reality bears out these concerns. Hungarian Holocaust researcher Lszl Bernt Veszprmy argued in Newsweek recently that while many European nations were shattering their antisemitic records, Hungary was generally placid. Different organizations measure different numbers, but they all agree that in 2020 no more than 70 such events happened, of which only one was physical, Veszprmy wrote.

For perspective, in 2021, the UK experienced 2,255 antisemitic attacks. Germany eclipsed its 2020 antisemitic incident rate only ten months into 2021, totaling 1,850. Neighboring Austria went from 257 antisemitic episodes in 2020 to 562 in the first half of 2021 alonethis with a Jewish community numbering between 8,000 and 15,000 people. Hungary, by comparison, has a Jewish community estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000.

When I visited Budapest this summer amid a sweltering European heatwave, I was pleasantly surprised not to be greeted by the over-militarized presence I had come to know when walking through other European Jewish communities. Such a phenomenon, in and of itself, would be unthinkable for the Jews of France, Germany, or the UK. Tourists can usually spot when theyve unwittingly stumbled upon a citys Jewish Quarter by the visible military presence in the neighborhood, but not in Budapest.

Budapests Jewish Quarter is anchored by three synagogues corresponding to different factions of Hungarian Jewish life that emerged following a theological schism in 1869. Today it forms what is popularly called synagogue triangle. The most famous is the Dohny Street Synagogue of the Neolog movement, positioned theologically between Masorti and Orthodoxy, built in the mid-nineteenth century. It is the largest synagogue in all of Europe (and second largest in the world) renowned for its Moorish architectural inspiration.

I spoke with the synagogues Chief Rabbi, Rbert Frlich, at Solinfo Caf in the heart of the Jewish Quarter on a sunny August Tuesday morning. The rabbi had beat me to our meeting and was gracious despite my running behind. Before I could get out a single question, Frlich insisted, First, what do you want? Do you want a coffee or drink or something? Choose something! I ordered a cappuccino and we kibbitzed about my trip until our drinks arrived. Frlich is big and gregarious, comfortable professing his unabashed love for Las Vegas (a first among rabbis I know) in one breath and joking about Hungarian politics in the next.

I asked the rabbi what he made of American conservatives recent fascination with his beautiful little country. Was there really such little antisemitism? Is Viktor Orbn as scary truly as many make him out to be? They [Jews] are afraid, Frlich asserted, saying it was a misconception to see Hungarian Jews safely nestled in Budapest. Theres no violent antisemitism here. That means there are no physical attacks against Jews or synagogues. But the verbal antisemitism is growing. When the economic system is down, hatred grows. And they always have somebody to blame. The main enemy is the Jewish banker, the Jewish tradesman.

When I asked Frlich to explain why, when much of Western Europe was experiencing record-shattering levels of antisemitism, Hungary was rather tranquil, he wasnt sure what explained its unique success. I cannot find any reasons for that. Maybe we just got lucky. Maybe the zero tolerance [policy] the [Orbn] government says it has against antisemitism is at least useful in preventing physical attacks.

I found out that the stereotypical joke about the Jewish penchant for disagreementyou ask two Jews and get three opinionswas an understatement in Hungary. It was more like ten opinions. One man with whom Frlich has had an on-again, off-again relationship is Andras Heisler, the vice president of the World Jewish Congress and president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), the representative body of the local community. They have butted heads on various occasions, recently over Hungarian legislation concerning gay marriage.

To my question of whether there was any relationship between Muslim immigration and violent antisemitism, Heisler felt the premise limiting. I do not consider the situation of countries with large Muslim community (comprising several million people sometimes), with significant national minorities from their former colonies comparable to Hungary, he wrote to me over email.

Heisler sees Jewish life in Budapest in more comfortable terms than Frlich. In Budapest, where 90 percent of the countrys Jewish population lives, we can walk freely, wear our yarmulkes and celebrate, observe our holidays. However, Heisler echoed Frlichs ambivalence about Orbns efforts to combat antisemitism. Prejudiced views are strongly present in Hungarian society, and often politicians use ambiguous language that helps the growing far right to gain further ground. Much remains to be done by the society and our politicians as well in order to achieve the zero tolerance proclaimed by Viktor Orbn.

The coarsening of public discourse remained a point of concern for both men. The prime ministers long-running public feud with Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros has led many to accuse Orbn of dabbling in antisemitic tropes. In one notable speech leading up to the 2018 parliamentary elections, Orbn described Soros efforts encouraging multiculturalism and Muslim immigration along such lines. We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world. Others, however, have challenged what James Kirchick calls the sanctification of Soros whereby any criticism of the man is labelled antisemitic.

Orbns ongoing tiff with Soros wasnt the first time he had waded into territory that frightened Hungarian Jews. Two weeks before my arrival in Budapest, Orbn gave a speech in which he decried the bastardization of cultures. We do not want to become a mixed race, Orbn stated during a stump speech in neighboring Romania. Debates over the context of Orbns statement as well as its translation remain contested. Hungarian Jews were not pleased. Nonetheless, such rhetoric is in line with earlier statements Orbn has made describing Muslim migrants as invaders despoiling the countrys cultural roots.

Consequently, many remain skeptical of the governments latest efforts to restore old synagogues and cemeteries as mere window dressing obscuring deeper intolerance. During my conversations with members of the Jewish community, many pointed to the tough economic moment having brought displays of swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti out into the open. Heisler feared that although violent antisemitism may have abated, Hungarian authorities were drawing a not-so-subtle distinction between good Jews and bad Jews.

The part of the good Jews is played by the Orthodox Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) led by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Slom Kves. Community statements condemning Orbns mixed race speech are telling. Frlich denounced the speech as a violation of human dignity and morals, while his Orthodox counterpart Kves walked a more delicate line, calling his choice of words unfortunate. These small nuances bely a more foundational rift pitting the communitys historic Mazsihisz leadership against the newer and increasingly dynamic upstart EMIH. In recent years, the movements have found themselves at cross-purposes over their support for the Orbn government, Holocaust commemoration, and Muslim migration.

At many turns where Frlich and Mazsihisz go one way, EMIH often goes the other, inflaming communal tensions. In 2019, joint Israeli-Hungarian plans to retrieve remains of Holocaust victims in the Danube River left the two communities on opposite sides of the debate. The Orthodox supported the initiative, backing the repatriation of victims bodies to Israel, while Mazsihisz believed such rescue attempts were unproductive.

Two years later, the groups came to blows over the citys $30 million new Holocaust museum. Known as the House of Fates, construction was completed back in 2015 but it still has yet to open its doors to the public because of infighting between Mazsihisz and EMIH over Hungarys complicity in the Holocaust and its portrayal within the museum. Boycotted by the former, Orbns government handed over control of the project to the latter in 2018.

Compounding theological differences are yawning political ones. When I spoke virtually with Kves before the Jewish High Holidays this September, his prognostication of the situation sounded completely different than Frlich or Heislers. For Kves, the improvement of Jewish life in Hungary directly flows from Orbns policies. Everyday opinions have changed thanks to Orbns embrace of Israel, making Hungary one of the Jewish states staunchest defenders in the EU.

Unlike his co-religionists, Kves felt strongly that the absence of Muslim immigrants in Hungary had a huge impact, which you cannot underestimate. Kves pointed to the German governments antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein warning Jews in 2019 to avoid wearing kippot everywhere all the time in Germany. Kves felt the causation was clear. Why is it? Clearly because there were over a million Muslims that came into Germany. By comparison, The fact that the Orbn government made it very clear [not allowing the migrants], I think definitely had a huge impact. We have to admit this. Political correctness, Rabbi Kves felt, was obstructing many peoples ability to acknowledge this basic reality. In conversations hed had with liberal Hungarian friends, they had said as much to him.

The 2018 EU survey gave a resoundingly clear answer to the question of who is committing antisemitic attacks in Europe. When asked by researchers to identify perpetrators, the average across the dozen sampled countries for Muslim extremist was 30 percent, followed by left-wing political at 21 percent. Right-wing political was in the bottom four answers at 13 percent.

This shouldnt have come as a surprise to many politically reasonable people. But progressive shibboleths have tarred basic observations about reality as xenophobic and racist.

What would a fair accounting of the spike in antisemitism in Europe really look like?

For starters, we might look at polling data on widely held Islamic beliefs about Jews. Gnther Jikeli, a leading scholar of antisemitism, combed through data from a 2014 Fondapol survey compiled in France and the results are shocking. Of the sampled French Muslims, a majority believe that Jews exploit the Holocaust for political gain, Jews wield too much financial power, too much media power, and too much political power. Slightly less than half believe there is a Zionist conspiracy on a global scale.

Even French extremists on the left and right dont hold such views to the same extent. Across these basic questions, French Muslim usually are two to three times more likely to agree with an antisemitic statement than the general population.

These views appear to be a significant characteristic of European Muslim communities in general, and recent immigrants from the Middle East in particular. Over half of 800 migrants surveyed in Bayern, Germany, in 2018 expressed similar support for conspiracies of Jewish global power. A 2017 research study from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research found that a quarter of British Muslims believed the Jews exploit the Holocaust for selfish reasons, 14 percent feel the Holocaust is exaggerated, and eight percent believe it is an outright myth. These are multiples higher than the general population and skew heavily by religious observance. Lszl Bernt Veszprmy compiled many such polling figures in an article on this subject for The European Conservative.

Hungary represents the mirror image of what is unfolding across Western Europe. The notable finding of the 2018 EU survey (which few still truly appreciate) is that Hungarian Jews are actually the most likely to identify someone with a right-wing political view as the assailant in antisemitic attacks. Thats due to the largescale absence of Muslim communities in Hungary. Fittingly, the countries with the highest shares of rapidly growing Muslim communitiesFrance, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UKhave become incubators of the most violent displays of antisemitic attacks since the end of the Holocaust.

The cyclical nature of European antisemitism, clustering around times of conflict, explains why Hungary has been largely immune to the worst aspects of European antisemitism in 2021. When Rod Dreher interviewed a French journalist whod been in Hungary during the 2021 Israel-Gaza conflict, the man noted that life in Budapests Jewish Quarter was business as usual. When the violence started, I expected to see police guarding the synagogues and Jewish businesses. None showed up. I saw men wearing kippahs walking down the street looking unworried. Then it hit me: it doesnt happen here.

Thats not always the case.

Getting to the bottom of my cappuccino, I asked Rabbi Frlich whether Hungarian Jewish life had become more precarious in recent years. Now they [Jews] take their kippahs off. Theyre more afraid. They put on a hat and not just because of the sun, Frlich joked. They dont speak so loud when they talk about their Jewishness. I heard similar sentiments when I spoke with another member of the Mazsihisz community who wished to remain anonymous. If you see someone wearing a kippah, its an American, Israeli, or Chabadnik, the man noted: in other words, the uninitiated new arrivals. Its not because there are so many violent attacks but because I am a third generation Holocaust survivor. When a Jew tells a fellow Jew such things its difficult not to take those fears seriously.

I left Budapest ambivalently. The brutal heat wave had begun to flag, and the thermal baths were still calling my name. As I boarded my BB train at the Keleti train station bound for Graz, Austria, and five hours of rolling Hungarian countryside, I didnt know what to make of Hungary, its Jewish community, or Orbn. On one hand, many Hungarian Jews were clearly worried about the eroding political discourse in Hungary that is causing the community, overwhelmingly left-leaning, to remain skeptical of Orbns entreaties.

Any yet I couldnt help but consider the other half of the coin. Perhaps Rabbi Kves and the Orthodox community werent simply political opportunists and court jesters as their enemies claim. Setting aside the broader socioeconomic policies of the Orbn government, and looking specifically at the matter of antisemitism, it seems statistically indisputable that Orbns policies have enabled Hungarian Jews to avoid the horrendous terrorism of Western Europe. Returning to the 2018 EU Study, Hungary ranked number one of a dozen member states in terms of Jews not avoiding wearing, carrying, or displaying in public things that could identify a person as Jewish. France, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark were among the worst. This is more than happenstance: it is the largescale absence of Muslim communities in Hungary.

Such findings are deeply unpalatable for many Hungarian Jews to contemplate. Especially for a community emerging from the embers of the Holocaust, there is a tragic irony: Yes, we were once strangers in a strange land and so should reciprocate and be kind to newcomers and refugees. But what if those newcomers dont take such a shine to you? What if they come with religious and cultural baggage that directly endangers your community?

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The answer, as one Jewish acquaintance I interviewed in Budapest noted, depends on which Chief Rabbi you ask. The only problem, he joked, is that almost all rabbis in Budapest call themselves Chief Rabbis.

I confess, after my travels, on this specific question I fall in the Kves camp. That doesnt translate into a wholesale endorsement of Orbns policies. Hungary isnt a utopia that we should look to uncritically. But, as a growing number of American intellectuals have argued, perhaps there are some merits to learning from a proudly Christian and explicitly conservative country.

Rather than listening to the predictable headlines of hard-right and fascist, more commentators should visit this landlocked country with an open mind. That might lead them to see an imperfect country navigating the defining questions of our age, one worthy of a fair shake before its thrown in the basket of deplorables alongside Belarus, Iran, and North Korea.

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Why Hungarys Jews Are the Safest in Europe - The American Conservative

This would be the only national park telling the story of a Jewish American – Forward

Posted By on October 19, 2022

Julius Rosenwald with students from a Rosenwald school. Courtesy of Fisk University, John Hope and Aurelia F. Franklin Library, Special Collections

By Mark I. PinskyOctober 17, 2022

A coalition of Blacks, Jews and others are lobbying for a new national park to honor the Rosenwald schools, which were founded by a son of German Jewish immigrants to serve rural Black communities in the Jim Crow era.

Julius Rosenwald made a fortune investing in the Chicago-based Sears, Roebuck and Co. He ultimately bought out the companys founders and turned the famed catalog business into a retail behemoth not unlike todays Amazon.

Rosenwald was inspired to create the schools after reading Booker T. Washingtons 1901 autobiography, Up from Slavery, and meeting with him. The schools are viewed as one of the most ambitious examples of Black-Jewish cooperation in U.S. history.

More than 5,000 Rosenwald schools were built in rural areas in 15 Southern and border states between 1912 and 1932. The schools many distinguished alumni include the late civil rights activist U.S. Rep. John Lewis and poet-novelist Maya Angelou.

The campaign for the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park is led by Dorothy Canter, a retired biophysicist who worked for the federal government for 29 years. Canter is Jewish, but had never heard of Rosenwald until she saw Aviva Kempners 2015 documentary, Rosenwald.

A self-described National Parks junkie, Canter realized that not one of the more than 400 parks told the story of a Jewish American. Not one gave an historical perspective into the Jewish values Rosenwald embodied that brought hope and change to so many African American communities and lives.

In 2018, Canter and other like-minded activists gathered to establish the Rosenwald Park Campaign. They courted a diverse group of religious and civic groups many predominantly Black or Jewish to support the project. Congress in 2020 authorized a study, which is underway.

Its not easy to establish a new national park only Congress can bestow the designation and the National Park Services criteria are exacting. But the Rosenwald campaign appears to be on the fast track. It has the support of the park systems National Register for Historic Preservation, and a month-long period for public comment ended in July.

As envisioned by its backers, the park would include a visitors center in Chicago and five representative schools around the country. Ten of the 500 Rosenwald schools still standing are under consideration as park sites, including the Russell Rosenwald School outside Durham, North Carolina.

The Russell School is the last Rosenwald school in Durham County out of an original 17. The school closed in 1945 but was preserved by the Cain Creek Missionary Baptist Church next door, which used it as a social hall for years. Today, at least as many Russell School alumni are buried in the cemetery between the church and school as are still alive.

This is my legacy, said Phyllis Mack Horton, director of the nonprofit Friends of Russell Rosenwald School, her pride palpable as she pointed out the flooring, chalkboard and lone students desk on an informal tour. The two-room, century-old wooden structure is illuminated by natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows, a hallmark of the Rosenwald design, though electric lights were later added.

Rosenwald and Washington met in 1911. Washington wanted to build small schools in African American communities across the South, each staffed with two to four teachers. Initially, Rosenwald funded the schools himself. Beginning in 1917, a philanthropy he created, the Rosenwald Fund, provided between a fifth and a third of the money for each school. Another third came from local communities contributing land, labor, materials or cash. The final third came from local and state governments, which saw the project as a way to keep African Americans a cheap local labor force from joining the Great Migration out of the South.

The schools were state of the art, designed by a team of Black architects led by Robert R. Taylor, MITs first Black graduate and the first accredited African American architect. By 1928, Rosenwald schools served a third of Black children in the rural South.

Rosenwalds interest in helping Black Americans was inspired not only by the eras rampant racism but also by its antisemitism. As the son of German Jews who fled centuries-long persecution in Europe, the park proposal says, he was aware not only of the recurring pogroms against Jews in Europe but also anti-Semitism in the United States. This led him to strongly identify with the plight of African Americans.

He was also influenced by Rabbi Emil Hirsch, a founding member of the NAACP and leader of the Reform synagogue Chicago Sinai, which Rosenwald belonged to.

Rosenwalds interest in fostering racial equality was not confined to education. The Rosenwald Fund also provided fellowships in the arts and humanities to poet Langston Hughes, singer Marian Anderson, novelist James Baldwin, folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, photographer Gordon Parks and many other distinguished African Americans. And between 1917 and 1958, the Rosenwald Fund contributed $33,500 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which helped defend the Scottsboro Boys and later bankrolled legal challenges to segregation, including Brown v. Board of Education.

The national park proposal comes during a renaissance in civil rights activity and renewed interest in African American history across the South, with recently established museums in Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

But while the pragmatic partnership between Rosenwald and Washington has been compared to the more activist bond between Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, the Rosenwald schools ostensibly avoided politics and activism. This was partly because they received government funding.

In practice, though, the schools helped empower Black communities. When classes ended, partitions between classrooms were rolled back to create auditoriums where the Black community could gather without prying white eyes, said Joanne Abel, who wrote about the schools in Persistence and Sacrifice. There they could discuss anything the community wanted to talk about. Rosenwald alumni include the civil rights leaders Medgar Evers and Vernon Dahmer, both of whom were murdered for their activism.

Harry Boyte, a political philosopher and activist, would like the park proposal to include more about this aspect of the schools history. Specifically, he thinks the proposal should include the story of the so-called Jeanes Teachers who set up and ran many of the Rosenwald schools. They functioned as community organizers, Boyte writes in Library Quarterly, working with thousands of communities across the South to build schools and libraries and many other community empowering groups and institutions. The teachers corps, made up primarily of Black women, was named for Anna Jeanes, a white Quaker woman who left $1 million to fund Black education in the South.

Boyte and others would also like to see the surviving schools evolve into contemporary spaces for community development, reviving the self-help spirit of their origins, rather than focusing on historic preservation alone.

My personal lean would be toward development of new civic spaces, said Ernest Comer, a Georgia-based social impact consultant who focuses on African American communities. I would prioritize that over creating spaces that only exist to display what was. Our nation is in a season where investment in existing civic spaces as well as the development of new civic spaces could really have a massive impact on the quality of relationships across cultures. Making investments in the quality of those relationships is more important than investing in spaces that only create exposure to what existed historically.

While Rosenwald schools were of critical importance in large Black communities, they were equally important in small, isolated places like Long Ridge in Madison County, North Carolina, a four-hour drive west of Durham in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There the exquisitely restored Anderson Rosenwald School served an African American community of about 100 families.

There was a sense of community there, said David Lloyd Briscoe, a University of Arkansas sociology professor and Anderson School alumnus. When I say community, I mean not only within the school but in the community supporting the school. Without a doubt there was a sense of ownership.

He added: The teachers knew that we were living in a society that didnt place value on Blackness.

Russell Mack, a graduate of Durhams Russell Rosenwald School, recorded an interview, now on the schools web site, reflecting on the lasting significance of the program.

If we can bring that history out how we started and where we come from I think it would help motivate some folks. If you see where you come from, you know where you are going.

Mark I. Pinsky has covered Southern politics since 1972 and isthe author of A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Continued here:

This would be the only national park telling the story of a Jewish American - Forward

Simchat Torah: A Jewish holiday of reading, renewal and resilience – The Conversation

Posted By on October 19, 2022

Reading can cause many different emotions. For some people, beginning a new book produces excitement about where the narrative will take them. Then theres the pleasure of the plot itself, watching how events unfold. Finally, theres the sense of joy at the end: satisfaction, gratitude and anticipation at the prospect of beginning the journey of reading all over again.

The Jewish holiday known as Simchat Torah, which begins at sunset on Oct. 17, 2022, encompasses all these emotions. During the festival, Jews celebrate another year of reading and studying Torah: the first five books of the Bible Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which, according to Jewish tradition, were divinely revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai.

As a scholar of the Bible and the ancient Near East, I am struck by the ways in which Simchat Torah cultivates a sense of humility and resilience in the midst of profound joy.

Simchat Torah is Hebrew for the joy of Torah. It is a celebration, often accompanied by dancing and singing, to mark the completion of the annual reading of this section of the Bible. Each week of the year, congregations around the world read a particular portion of the Torah, called a parashah, in a specified order.

On Simchat Torah, the scrolls that contain this literature are removed from the ark, the special place where they are kept at the front of the synagogue. While one or two scrolls are taken out during readings in the usual weekly service, Simchat Torah is one of the few times of year that all the scrolls are taken out of the ark.

Celebrants circle seven or, in some traditions, three times around the bimah, the stage where the scrolls are read during services, while holding these scrolls and dancing. This dancing, called hakafot in Hebrew, occurs both in the evening and the morning of Simchat Torah.

In some Jewish communities, people say they become the very feet of the scrolls, carrying them so the scrolls themselves can participate in the dancing and joy. The rejoicing can extend into the streets.

The last liturgical section for the year is read, from the Book of Deuteronomy. During the same service the first section of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, is also read. In this fashion, Simchat Torah connects the ending of the reading cycle with the beginning of the new one.

In 2022, Simchat Torah will take place from sundown Oct. 17 to sunset Oct. 18 in most of the world, immediately after a holiday called Shemini Atzeret the day before. In Israel and for Reform Jews, however, both holidays are combined on the same day. In either case, the celebrations come on the heels of another weeklong festival called Sukkot, or the festival of booths, when Jews commemorate the ancient Israelites wanderings in the desert after fleeing slavery in Egypt.

Unlike Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, the celebration of Simchat Torah does not appear in Bible.

Aspects of divinely ordained rejoicing and regular reading of the Torah do, however, appear in the book of Deuteronomy. For example, Deuteronomy 16 commands the Israelites to rejoice in the festival of booths. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses commands the priests to read the law, or Torah, to all Israel during Sukkot.

The origins of the celebration of Simchat Torah as known today are likely medieval. One of the most influential compilations of Jewish laws is called the Shulchan Aruch, written by a 16th-century Spanish rabbi named Joseph Karo. The overall features of the holiday, or yom tov in Hebrew, are set forth there.

For modern Jewish thinkers, the celebration of Simchat Torah embeds some of the most profound aspects of life, including themes of humility and strength even amid suffering and a troubled world.

Writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, for example, saw in Simchat Torah a reminder that we never know everything, and much less than we think we know. Even for a text as familiar as the Bible, an entire lifetime of reading the Torah week after week, year after year cannot begin to yield all the possible interpretations.

So, according to Wiesel, Simchat Torah is a time to take joy not only in completing the liturgical reading cycle, but in the reminder that we always need to look again, and be willing to begin again even stories that we think we know so well.

As Wiesel observed, this aspect of Simchat Torah could transform a person and how that person lives with others. He famously once said that people become the stories they hear and the stories they tell. The celebration of Simchat Torah had profound significance, in Wiesels view, since the very act of reading could make a better world.

Likewise, the biblical scholar Baruch Schwartz calls attention to a prayer spoken during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days, which take place weeks before Simchat Torah. The words of the prayer speak the desire for the discernment and understanding needed in order to comprehend the Torahs deepest mysteries. For Schwartz, this prayer anticipates the deeper meanings of Simchat Torah, and prepares celebrants for them.

There is joy in ending and once again beginning the Torah because of its many puzzles. Bringing intellectual energy to interpreting these texts opens windows into the seemingly unending dimensions of the Bible and also into what it means to be human. Simchat Torah underscores the importance of revisiting the familiar, and, in so doing, cultivates humility.

The biblical command to have joy in reading the Torah also lays a framework for resilience in the midst of troubled times. Wiesel, himself born on Simchat Torah in 1928, recounted witnessing Jews who had no Torah scrolls and lived amid unthinkable horror in a concentration camp. Yet, during Simchat Torah, one adult picked up a child and delightedly danced with him as though he were a Torah scroll.

Simchat Torah represents renewals in endings almost as though Jewish communities are receiving the revelation from Moses again for the first time, starting with the book of Genesis.

Such a cycle is not redundant, but instead can promote resilience. As Wiesel notes, the biblical command to rejoice becomes the means through which tragedy can be endured helping to explain Simchat Torahs power and vitality today.

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Simchat Torah: A Jewish holiday of reading, renewal and resilience - The Conversation

Kanye West Seeks Reconciliation With Jewish Cabal To Collab On Yeezy X Jews Streetwear – The Onion

Posted By on October 19, 2022

LOS ANGELESApologizing for the antisemitic comments in his recent shocking Twitter rants, rapper and fashion designer Kanye West reportedly sought reconciliation with the worldwide Jewish cabal Thursday in order to collaborate on his new idea for a Yeezy x Jews streetwear brand. I am truly sorry for what I said about Jewish peopleI actually think that if we combined my power as an aesthetic visionary with your power as puppet masters of the global economy, this new fashion line could be a hit, said West, noting that much of his violent, inflammatory rhetoric was the result of mental health issues, and that he had now achieved the clarity needed to see how working with the international conspiracy of bloodsucking Jews would be beneficial. I hope the secret evil Jewish syndicate can forgive me, because I have already drawn up concepts for a Ye-branded yarmulke called the Ye-mulke. Thanks to the Jewish peoples control over the markets and every aspect of society, we could have a Yeezy tallit in every home. Please, let me stop by your underground mountain lair with some of the fake children you placed in my house so I can apologize in person at Shabbat dinner. Then I can also show you how dope I look wearing the Yeezy off-white shtreimel. At press time, sources reported West was inquiring if the Jewish cabal could point its space laser at Pete Davidsons house.

Original post:

Kanye West Seeks Reconciliation With Jewish Cabal To Collab On Yeezy X Jews Streetwear - The Onion

New opinion poll illuminates growing challenges of polarization and …

Posted By on October 19, 2022

(October 12, 2022, JNS Wire) A poll conducted by the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV) and OneMessage Public Strategies reveals that self-identified Progressives and Very Liberals carry views far removed from the rest of the electorate, particularly on the Jewish community.

In addition to domestic issues, those polled were asked their views on Israel and the current state of anti-Semitism in America. Seventy eight percent of self-identified Progressives and 81% of self-identified Very Liberals believe Jewish Americans have unfair advantages that need to be addressed. Seventeen percent of self-identified Progressives and 20% of Very Liberals believe American Jews have too much power. Additionally, 21% of self-identified Progressives and 25% of self-identified Very Liberals believe Jews benefit from privilege.

Regarding views on the Jewish State, 45% of self-identified Progressives view Israel as an occupier/colonizer, and 47% of self-identified Progressives believe Israel has too much power.

The poll indicates that most likely voters see cancel culture as a problem, are tired of extremism on both sides, and believe that free and open conversations are the first step to solutions. Most voters across the political spectrum are primarily concerned with issues such as the economy, crime, inflation, and immigration, while self-identified Progressives top three concerns are universal healthcare, climate change, and structural racism.

Progressives and Very Liberals consistently have the strongest, and most independent views in relation to Moderates and Conservatives, according to the poll. Their views have led them to make sacrifices to their immediate social circles, with 67% of Progressives and 54% of Very Liberals claiming to have effectively cancelled a friend or family member due to their political views.

On the results of the poll, JILV CEO, David Bernstein shared, This poll confirms some of the worst fears of the Jewish community that a dogmatic commitment to critical theory and a social justice lens can contribute significantly to anti-Semitism. While the majority of Americans support freedom of speech, oppose hyper-partisanship, and support traditional liberal values, the far left continues to view politics as a zero-sum game dividing the world into oppressors and oppressed, and willing to expel those they disagree with from their social circle and the results arent good for Jews.

JILV convened a series of focus groups in the summer of 2022 to hear directly from Black, Asian, and Jewish American communities about how they perceive and understand political trends and cultural conceptsand how these changing social mores affect their daily work. These focus groups informed the creation of the poll. The nationwide poll surveyed 1,600 likely voters. It was conducted from July 30-August 3, 2022 and was stratified to reflect historical turnout. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.5%.

The full polling results are available here.

About the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values

The Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV) aims to support liberal principles of free thought and expression, advance viewpoint diversity, counter the imposition of the Critical Social Justice (CSJ) ideology in the Jewish community, and highlight and oppose novel forms of antisemitism emerging from this ideology.

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New opinion poll illuminates growing challenges of polarization and ...

Meng, Fitzpatrick, Manning, Weber, Veasey, Granger, Lieu And Smith Call For Update From State Department On Its Investigation Into Instances Of…

Posted By on October 19, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today,U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Brain Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Randy Weber (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Kay Granger (R-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), all Co-Chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism, led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an update on the investigation into instances of antisemitism at the State Department.

The letter highlights three occurrences that have taken place over the past 21 months:

Congresswoman Meng secured language in the Fiscal Year 2023 House State and Foreign Operations report requiring the State Department to report to Congress on the status of the investigations into these incidents, including recommendations for how the Department can improve tolerance and non-discrimination among its staff.

These instances of antisemitism at the State Department are unacceptable, and I thank Secretary Blinken for his commitment to conducting a thorough investigation,said Congresswoman Meng, Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. As recently as July of this year, the same employee who was found to be running an antisemitic website was still employed by the State Department, and has continued his antisemitic rhetoric. We must get to the bottom of these hateful acts. As a Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Anti-Semitism and Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, it is not only my duty to call out all instances of antisemitism whenever they occur, but also to ensure that our State Department is free from this hateful rhetoric.

"As a co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, I strongly condemn the various antisemitic incidents that occurred at the State Department's headquarters,"said Congressman Fitzpatrick."We must know what steps are being taken to address these occurrences to ensure that future acts of hatred do not happen again."

Antisemitism has absolutely no place within our government or anywhere else in the world,said Rep. Lieu.Im pleased to join my fellow co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism in urging the State Department to report to Congress on the status of its investigations into multiple antisemitic incidents at the Department. These egregious acts are deeply concerning, and Im grateful to Secretary Blinken for immediately taking action and calling for an investigation. As antisemitism is on the rise, we must do more to protect the Jewish community. I look forward to the State Departments response.

When a swastika was found in an elevator at the State Department, President Biden and Secretary Blinken unequivocally condemned this incident and made clear that there is no place for hate at the State Department or anywhere,"said Congresswoman Kathy Manning."We appreciate their strong commitment to fighting antisemitism and look forward to continuing working together to combat all hate in a united front.

Antisemitism, hatred, and discrimination cannot be tolerated in the workplace, and the federal government has a special obligation to take a strong stand against such toxic and unacceptable workplace behavior as the nations model employer,said American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley. But it is not enough merely to condemn antisemitism. Officials must go beyond words and take decisive action to root out this behavior and ensure all federal employees are able to serve their country in a safe, welcoming workplace where they are treated with dignity and respect without regard to individual difference.

At a time when antisemitism is rising at home and around the world, it is troubling to see antisemitic incidents happening within the walls of the State Department, the United States face to the world,said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. We welcome the statements made by President Biden and Secretary Blinken condemning these incidents and urge the internal review to continue and its progress to be shared. ADL stands ready to assist the State Department and other federal agencies as they work to ensure that Jewish American employees are fully included, supported, and protected in government service.

Data gathered by the Anti-Defamation League shows that antisemitism and antisemitic incidents have been on the rise, both in the U.S. and around the world. In order to accurately recommend how the department can proactively prevent such instances, an update on the investigations is needed.

A copy of the letter can be viewedhereand below. It was signed by a total of 75 Members of Congress.


Dear Secretary Blinken,

We write to express our continued concern overthe antisemitic graffiti found at the State Departments headquarters in Washington, D.C. and at the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, as well as reports of State Department staff espousing antisemitic views online.We are grateful that immediately following these incidents one year ago, you clearly expressed that these egregious acts are not representative of the State Department or its values and called for an immediate investigation. As the Anti-Defamation Leagues (ADL) data shows, antisemitism and antisemitic incidents are on the rise in the United States and around the world. This past year alone, ADLs Audit of Antisemitic Incidents recorded 2,717 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment in the United States, an average of more than seven incidents per day. Given this marked increase in antisemitic incidents, we urge you to update Congress on the status of your investigation into these incidents.

Last year, it was discovered that U.S. Foreign Service Officer Fritz Berggren was running a website where he regularlydisparagedJews. In July 2021, over 70 State Department employees sent you a letter expressing their concern and feelings of insecurity at Mr. Bergmans continued employment. As they said, Not only is his propagation of antisemitic ideas highly disturbing and offensive to Jewish and non-Jewish employees alike, but as Jewish employees, we feel his presence at the Department is threatening.Despite these pleas from your employees, and his outrageous antisemitism and bigotry, Mr. Berggren remains employed by the State Department. This is beyond alarming.

Additionally, a swastika was found carved in an elevator at the Harry S. Truman building last summer,and another was foundpainted on a window inside a secure area of the U.S. Embassy in Bulgariaearlier this year.Together, these incidents appear to paint a troubling picture within the State Department.

We appreciate the steps taken immediately by you and President Biden following these incidents to make clear that antisemitism has no place in the State Department, in the Biden Administration, or anywhere in the world. However, more can and must be done to protect the Jewish community, and other religious minorities, at the State Department. We understand and are grateful that an internal review of these incidents is underway. We urge you to continue to investigate and address any and all incidents of antisemitism and hate within the Department.

The Fiscal Year 2023 U.S. House of Representatives State and Foreign Operations Appropriations report included language requiring the State Department to report to Congress on the status of the investigations into these incidents, including recommendations for how the Department can improve tolerance and non-discrimination among its staff. However, this issue is too urgent, and it cannot wait for the appropriations process to finish. Instead, it needs immediate attention.

We call on you to report back to Congress on the status of your investigation into these incidents, and on the general existence of antisemitism within the State Department. We also call on you to report on what your office plans to do toimprove tolerance and non-discrimination, including working with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to institute targeted training and promote better understanding.State Department employees are our representatives to the world. We must ensure that hate, in all forms, is not present within the Department.

We stand ready to assist the State Department as you work to ensure that Jewish American employees are fully included, supported, and protected in government service.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

# # #


Meng, Fitzpatrick, Manning, Weber, Veasey, Granger, Lieu And Smith Call For Update From State Department On Its Investigation Into Instances Of...

Anti-Semitism and the Socialist Workers Party – World Socialist Web Site – WSWS

Posted By on October 19, 2022

This article was originally published in the Bulletin on September 18, 1984. It was written by David North, then the national secretary of the Workers League, the predecessor organization of the Socialist Equality Party (US). North is currently the national chairman of the SEP and the chairman of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS.

The article was written as a polemic against the defense of anti-Semitism by the Socialist Workers Party, which had long since broken with Trotskyism. The Workers League was founded in 1966 on the basis of the struggle waged by the International Committee of the Fourth International against the SWPs capitulation to the politics of petty-bourgeois nationalism and Pabloism.

The WSWS is republishing the article now as it addresses critical historical and political issues in the fight against anti-Semitism, which is again on the rise in the United States and is being actively promoted by Trump and the Republican Party.


There are no limits to the political degradation of the virulently anti-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. The transformation of this police-infested organization [1] into an agency of imperialism within the workers movement has found a particularly grotesque expression in a recent innovation in its political line: the explicit defense of anti-Semitism.

In a series of articles which have appeared in its newspaper, The Militant, the SWP has vigorously defended the anti-Jewish demagogy of the ex-calypso singer Louis Farrakhan. These articleswhich are explicitly based on the recently adopted political perspectives of the Socialist Workers Partypresent a justification for the Farrakhan statements that proceeds from premises and conceptions that are saturated with the outlook of anti-Semitism.

The SWPs ostentatious defense of Farrakhan is made all the more revolting by the fact that this charlatan achieved an insidious notoriety 20 years ago when he acted as Elijah Muhammeds principal hatchet man against Malcolm X and issued inflammatory denunciations which helped to create a favorable political environment for those who carried out the assassination of the black leader in February 1965.

In its issue of August 3, 1984, The Militant criticized the apologetic speech given by Jesse Jackson at the Democratic Convention, singling out for particular criticism the civil rights leaders call for a progressive alliance between blacks and Jews.

It is a myth that Blacks and Jews have shared blood and shared sacrifices, as Jackson claimed, wrote Malik Miah, the national cochairman of the SWP. Blacks are an overwhelmingly working-class oppressed nationality; Jews today are mostly middle-class and professionals. Under the rightward drift of capitalist politics, most Jews have become more conservative as reflected in their opposition to issues of great importance to Blacks and all working people such as affirmative action programs that use quotas.

One week later, in The Militant of August 10, Miahs arguments were reiterated by Mohammed Oliver, who cited statistics to substantiate Miahs claim that the Jewish population plays a predominantly reactionary role in the United States.

Until World War II, Jews in the United States were mostly workers. They were, for example, a significant proportion of workers in New Yorks garment industry.

This is no longer true. Since the war, US Jews have become increasingly middle class. Those Jews who still are workers tend to be older, skilled workerssuch as cutters in the garment industry.

Most Jews today are part of the middle class. Tens of millions of people in their middle class and professional layers directly benefit from government social policies, tax breaks and support for the employers antilabor offensive. This class composition of US Jews helps explain why many of them oppose affirmative action quotas and other demands for Black equality. Such demands threaten the privileged status of the middle class and professionals.

Both articles are squarely based on the political resolution of the SWPs Political Committee, issued in July 1984. This resolution denounces

... the myth that Blacks as a group and Jews as a group in the United States share a common oppression and thus have common interests. This is false. It ignores the evolution of the class composition of Blacks and Jews in the United States since World War II. In the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, a substantial majority of the Jewish population in this country were workers. This is no longer the case. Today the Jewish population in the United States is made up overwhelmingly of middle class and professional layers ...

The change in the class makeup of the Jewish population in the United States since World War II is the basis for the rightward political direction of the major Jewish organizations, and major sections of the Jewish population. Within this class framework, Zionism and the defense of the national dispossession of the Palestinians by Israel provides an added impulse to the adoption by many Jews of right-wing positions against national liberation struggles, backing racial discrimination against peoples of color, and support for US imperialism. (SWP Information Bulletin, No. 4, July 1984)

Combining inaccurate history with bad sociology, the Socialist Workers Party arrives at a justification for anti-Semitic politics. What is palmed off as a class analysis for the supposed rightward political direction of the Jews has nothing whatsoever in common with Marxism, whose dialectical and historical materialist method is utterly hostile to the vulgar and mechanical logic employed by the SWP theoreticians. The Jews, we are told, were once predominantly working class and oppressed. Now, however, they are predominantly middle class professionals, allied with the capitalist oppressors, and therefore it is a myth that blacks and Jews share common interests.

This attempt to portray the Jews as enemies of the working class on the basis of their supposed economic interests is hardly original with the SWP. This has always been the stock-in-trade of the fascists and anti-Semites of all descriptions. However, we must make note here of the incredible ignorance of history which underlies the arguments of the SWP. Its reference to the evolution of the class composition of Jews suggests that the large percentage of professionals among their population is a new phenomenon and thus accounts for their alleged hostility to the blacks.

In point of fact, however, the sociological phenomenon noted, albeit in a grossly distorted form, by the SWP is not new at all and cannot provide any substantiation for the claim that the Jews are not an oppressed people.

For profound historical reasons, related to the economic and social complexities of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the Jews have been mainly an urban people with a large petty bourgeois and artisan strata. Moreover, the specific structure of the Jewish working class assumed a distinctive character, developing a high percentage of professional workers (which the SWP crudely labels middle class).

What has been called the Jewish anomaly is the fact that a comparatively small percentage of Jewish workers were employed in heavy industry. Rather, Jewish wage earners tended to be found with far greater frequency in light industries associated with the production of consumer goods and in white collar jobs.

Utilizing statistics available in the 1930s, the late Abram Leonwhose tragic death in Auschwitz deprived the Trotskyist movement of one of its more promising cadrewrote the following in his brilliant study on The Jewish Question:

The number of Jewish workers, relatively low in the backward countries like Poland where it reaches about 25% of all persons economically active, reaches 46% in America. The professional structure of the Jewish working class still differs greatly from that of the proletariats of other peoples. Thus white collar workers form 30 to 36% of all Jewish wage earners, which is a proportion three to four times as great as among other nations. ... Sixty to 70% of the Jewish workers employed in industry are in reality worker artisans (in Eastern Europe 80% of the proletarians work in shops and not in factories) whereas among the workers of other nationalities, 75 to 80% are factory workers (The Jewish Question, Pathfinder, p. 219).

So, what the SWP declares to be a new development in the economic evolution of the Jews is, in fact, an historical phenomenon observed long ago. What is significant, however, is the SWPs blanket use of the term middle class to characterize the hundreds of thousands of professional workers to be found among the Jewish people.

In fact, they form a significant component of the labor force in precisely those areas where trade unionism has expanded most dramatically during the last 25 yearsi.e., teachers, social service employees, legal aides, health care workers, etc. Despite the claims of the SWP, masses of American Jews are directly connected with the trade union movement and identify themselves socially and politically with the aspirations of the working class.

Furthermore, this identification is not to be explained merely by establishing the exact number of workers and petty bourgeois within the sum total of the Jewish population. The whole historical development of the Jews has produced social circumstances which led significant numbers of them to participate actively in the labor and socialist movementsthough the extent of this involvement has often been either exaggerated or explained in idealist terms.

It is, at any rate, entirely false and un-Marxist to base an analysis of the social and political status of the Jewish people merely on simplistic, and, we might add, careless descriptions of their income levels. Such vulgar materialism simply plays into the hands of the fascists and disguises the social essence of anti-Semitism.

As long as there is capitalism, the position of the Jews remains precarious. Whatever its myriad forms in different countries, anti-Semitism retains its social base in the hopeless position of the petty bourgeois in capitalist society. It is the malignant and inchoate expression of the ruined petty bourgeois outrage against the capitalism which he hates, but against which he is powerless.

The false identification of the Jew with capital, which lies at the base of anti-Semitism, lingers on as a form of distorted historical recollection of the feudal past. That the Jewish money lender of the Middle Ages long ago gave way to the modern Christian bourgeois is an historical nuance not easily grasped by the hysterical petty bourgeois who readily blames his economic misfortunes on the Jews. As Leon correctly explained:

Historically, the success of racism means that capitalism has managed to channellize the anti-capitalist consciousness of the masses into a form that antedates capitalism and which no longer exists except in a vestigial state; this vestige is nevertheless still sufficiently great to give a certain appearance of reality to the myth (p.237).

In counterposing the middle-class Jews, as allies of imperialism, to the exploited workers, the SWP legitimizes the outlook of precisely those elements of the petty bourgeoisie that embrace anti-Semitism. It is simply a disguised form of the old anti-Semitic canard that the Jews are the principal agents of international capital.

In practice, this argument has been used to justify pogroms against such powerful representatives of capital as ... the Jewish tailor or grocer. This is the basis for the SWPs infatuation with Farrakhan, whose outlook as a Black Muslim is that of an embittered petty bourgeois who resents Jewish competition, which he identifies with capitalism. It is not without sufficient reason that Engels referred to anti-Semitism as the socialism of fools.

Regardless of the income level of any particular strata of the Jewish population, they remain an oppressed people whose interests are most definitely bound up with the struggle of all sections of the working class against capitalism. It should hardly be necessary to refer to the many Jewish people from both working and middle class backgroundssuch as Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwernerwho played an exceptionally active role in the struggle for the civil rights of black workers. Let us simply note that despite our profound and irreconcilable political differences with the reformist views of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, his acknowledgment of the shared blood and shared sacrifices of blacks and Jews expresses a far deeper knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement than that of the anti-Semites in the SWP leadership.

But what about the SWPs claim that Zionism and the defense of national dispossession of the Palestinians by Israel provides an added impulse to the adoption by many Jews of right-wing positions against national liberation struggles, backing racial discrimination against peoples of color, and support for US imperialism.

Unlike the SWP, which identifies the growth of Zionist influence with the improvement in the social and political position of the Jews, Marxists insist that the temporary strengthening of Zionism is the historical outcome of the catastrophic defeats of the European labor movement that led to the annihilation of six million Jews by the fascists. Without the combined betrayals of Stalinism and Social Democracy which prepared these defeats, the Zionists could never have attained the influence they acquired during the post-World War II period.

For Zionism to win a mass base, it was first necessary for the Jews to lose confidence in the perspective of World Socialist Revolution. As an ideology, Zionism is the outcome of the oppression of the Jews by imperialisman attempt to resolve on the basis of petty-bourgeois nationalism the problems of the Jews within capitalist society. Its politically horrific implications were predicted long ago by Marxists, who have always been the most indefatigable opponents of the reactionary petty bourgeois doctrines of Herzl and his truest political progeny, Begin, Sharon and the Rabbi Kahane. However, Zionism is incapable of resolving the problems of the Jewish people and its disintegrationclearly foreshadowed in the present social and economic eruptions within Israelis absolutely inevitable.

The position of the SWP is just the opposite. Writing that Zionism and defense of the national dispossession of the Palestinians by Israel provides an added impulse to the adoption by many Jews of right-wing positions against national liberation struggles ... and support for US imperialism, the SWP anti-Semites imply that Zionism has solved the historical problems of the Jewish people. The claim that Jews benefit from the Zionist oppression of Palestinians is an argument that will be advanced only by those who identify Judaism with Zionism, who claim that Zionism is the expression of the historical aspirations and interests of the Jewish people, and that the struggle against Zionism means a struggle against Jews. This reactionary position has been repudiated by the PLO and its chairman Yassir Arafat. Significantly, it surfaced during the Syrian-backed rebellion against Arafat led by the right-wing stooge Abu Musawhose anti-Jewish statements were welcomed by the Shamir regime at a time when pressure was growing within Israel for negotiations with the PLO.

The significance of the SWPs flirtation with anti-Semitism goes beyond the personal views of the dubious individuals within its leadership. Never has Zionism been in greater crisis than it is today. Within Israel itself, mass opposition has developed against the genocidal policies pursued by the regime in Lebanon and on the West Bank. For thousands of Israelis, the surfacing of anti-Arab terrorist organizations and the activities of Rabbi Kahane have shaken their commitment to Zionist ideology. Joint demonstrations of Jews and Arabs have already taken place. At the same time, the catastrophic economic crisis has intensified the fundamental class contradictions within the Jewish State.

Under these conditions, only the interests of the State Department and the Zionist regime are served by new attempts to fan the flames of anti-Semitism. Such efforts are all the more pernicious when they are carried out by an organization such as the SWP which people mistakenly assume to be socialist.

Furthermore, within the United States, any attempt to sow differences between black workers and the masses of Jewish working people, to deny that Blacks as a group and Jews as a group in the United States share a common oppression and thus have common interests, is to consciously sabotage the efforts to unify all sections of the working class and oppressed minorities in the struggle against capitalism. When the SWP claims that it is false to assert the identity of the blacks and Jews as victims of racist oppression, when it denounces as a Myth the reference of Jesse Jackson to the shared blood and shared sacrifices of blacks and Jews, it is working in the interests of the anti-Semites and the enemies of the socialist revolution.

The Workers League, in political solidarity with the International Committee, has not only demonstrated that the SWP has broken all connections with Trotskyism and with the entire political heritage of Marxism. We have, as a result of our decade-long investigation into police infiltration of the SWP, identified the presence of agents in the highest levels of its leadership. In its justification of anti-Semitism, we find yet another example of how the SWP agents create political provocations aimed at undermining Trotskyism and advancing the interests of the State Department. However, they will not succeed. The historical traditions of the Fourth International, the analytical weapons of Marxism and the worldwide movement of the working class are far more powerful than the provocations of political police.

The implacable opposition of the Trotskyist movementembodied in the Workers League and all the sections of the International Committee of the Fourth Internationalto Zionism, is inextricably linked to our struggle against world imperialism in all its political, economic and ideological forms. The formation of the state of Israel was an historical tragedy for the Jewish as well as the Palestinian people. For the former, the belated nature of its impact will not make its consequences, unless averted through revolutionary struggle, any less catastrophic. The only way out for the Jewish masses in Israel lies in the common struggle with the Palestinian masses against Zionism and imperialism, for the establishment of a secular and socialist Palestine.

On the subject of the struggle against anti-Semitism, the Trotskyist movement can speak with authority. No other political movementleast of all Zionismcan compare its record with ours. In the darkest days of World War II, when the American Zionists were advising Jews to maintain a cowardly silence on the fate of the Jews, so as not to embarrass their imperialist patron Roosevelt, the Fourth International demanded action in defense of the victims of fascist genocide. It is not uncommon today for American Zionists to claim that the extent of the slaughter of European Jews was not known until after the war. But this lie is best refuted by citing a statement by the Executive Committee of the Fourth International, dated February 28, 1943:

Hitlers mass murders of the Jewish people of Europe arouse in every class conscious worker a feeling of fury against this arch-sadist evil spawn of decaying capitalism.

The full brunt of Hitlers insane violence falls against the Jewish toilers: workers, artisans and small tradesmen who make up the huge majority of the Jews in Europe and the world. The wealthy Jews have been able, in large measure, to escape or to buy privileges the trapped poor Jews cannot secure.

Anger against Hitler and sympathy for the Jewish people are not enough. Every worker must do what he can to aid and protect the Jews from those who hunt them down. The Allied ruling classes, while making capital of Hitlers treatment of the Jews for their war propaganda, discuss and deliberate on the question endlessly. The workers in the Allied countries must raise the demand: Give immediate refuge to the Jews and all those being hounded for racial or religious reasons or for advocating social progress, who are pounding desperately at the gates. Quotas, immigration laws, visasthese must be cast aside. Open the doors of refuge to those who otherwise face extermination! The right to asylum is an elementary democratic right, which the workers and all honest democrats must support.

The Fourth International, leader of the workers in the struggle for world socialism, welcomes the Jewish toilers into its ranks. Only by world socialism can the Jews, above all the Jewish workers, and all the oppressed nations and races be saved from the terrible fate world capitalism has inflicted on them and the even worse fate it has in store for ever-increasing numbers of them. Only in world socialism will human brotherhood become a reality and anti-Semitism a hideous memory.

The words in the concluding paragraph are as true today as they were 40 years ago and they remain inscribed on the banners of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

In depth

History of the Fourth International

The International Committee of the Fourth International is the leadership of the world party of socialist revolution, founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938.

Excerpt from:

Anti-Semitism and the Socialist Workers Party - World Socialist Web Site - WSWS

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