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With $73 million and counting, this organization is the backbone of the Jewish aid effort for Ukraine – JTA News – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Almost as soon as Russias bombs began falling in Ukraine, prompting millions of Ukrainians to flee the war zone, Jewish aid groups sprang into action.

Volunteers with the emergency medical services Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah dispatched teams to the area to set up emergency triage centers to treat the wounded, sick and elderly. Tikva Childrens Home, which in normal times cares for neglected, abandoned or abused children in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, began busing kids out of the war zone and into safety in neighboring Romania. The JCC of Krakow, Poland, where over 1 million Ukrainians fled after the outbreak of the war, served as a distribution point for food, medicine and clothing for Jewish and non-Jewish refugees alike.

These humanitarian groups were able to meet the sudden and dramatic surge in need for aid thanks to their partnerships with the Jewish Federations of North America, which since February has raised over $73 million for Ukraine-related needs. That leadership has made federations the backbone of the Jewish humanitarian effort helping Ukrainians not just flee the fighting and find safe haven, but also figure out long-term solutions while their country remains at war.

These have included efforts to resettle refugees in Israel, Europe and the United States, provide refugee children with education and emotional respite, run training programs to help Ukrainian adults find housing and jobs while in exile, coordinate volunteer efforts both in Europe and the United States, and advocate for policies that help refugees find their footing in new communities.

In all, the Jewish Federations have channeled over $61 million so far to some 50 nongovernmental organizations worldwide, often through the Federations main overseas partners: the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and World ORT.

Everything were doing in Ukraine and surrounding countries is made possible by the collective efforts of 146 Jewish federations and, in turn, by the donations of Jewish communities, said Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations. We love individual philanthropists, but this is really grassroots-supported fundraising a collective effort of massive proportions.

Serving as the umbrella organization for some 146 federations and 300 network communities, the Jewish Federations collectively comprise the largest Jewish charity in North America. They often operate as the unseen hand of North American Jewry because most of the aid is delivered via the frontline agencies and organizations with which the Jewish Federations partner.

When Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24, Fingerhut said, we were able to respond right away because we had professionals on the ground, as well as relationships and the expertise to know what to do instantly.

Six months on, the situation in Ukraine is still dire.

The areas under Russian attack are in a very serious crisis. Not only can people not leave, their businesses and homes are destroyed. Its hard to provide humanitarian relief in such places, though our partners are desperately trying to do that, Fingerhut said. And in parts not under attack, you still have shortages of medicines and a collapsing economy.

Although the exodus of refugees fleeing Ukraine has slowed considerably, about 12 million people have been displaced by the war, either within Ukraine or in nearby countries, according to United Nations estimates. So the need for aid remains very high.

Out of Ukraines prewar Jewish population of about 200,000, more than a quarter has left, according to estimates. Most have gone to Israel, with some immigrating and others in the country on tourist visas. Israel also is hosting thousands of war evacuees who are not eligible for immigration but are sheltering in the country for the time being.

In late July, the Jewish Federations announced a $1 million Ukrainian Resettlement Grant Initiative with the support of the Shapiro Foundation to support refugees seeking safety in the United States. The first nine grants, have already been awarded to Jewish federations in Boston, Buffalo, Miami, Philadelphia, Delaware, Atlanta, Richmond, New Yorks Westchester County, and Greenwich, Connecticut. Funds will help build capacity within social service organizations to support displaced Ukrainians in their communities.

Ukrainian children ages 10 and 11 attend a class in Russian at the Kiryat Yearim Aliya Youth Village summer camp in Israel, August 2022. (Larry Luxner)

The grants are one of the many ways the Jewish Federations are operating behind the scenes to coordinate and fund Ukraine aid efforts. Funding for humanitarian aid is going to everything from resilience programs in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to the distribution of hygiene supplies to supporting new Ukrainian immigrants to Israel.

Working together with the Israeli trauma group Natal and the first ladies of Israel and Ukraine, Jewish Federations helped bring 27 Ukrainian therapists to Israel for a week to learn trauma coping techniques.

At the Kiryat Yearim Youth Aliya Village near Jerusalem, an Israeli overnight summer camp called Start.IL run by the Jewish Agency for Israel has used federation funding to welcome some 400 Ukrainian Jewish children displaced by the Russian invasion. The camp held four weeklong sessions this summer of 100 campers each, with 8- to 17-year-olds enjoying sports, singing, games and learning about Israel.

These kids are from Kyiv, Odessa, Mariupol all over Ukraine. Some of them left their houses when the war started, and others ran from their houses the moment bombs started falling on their cities, said camp director Vitalina Latysheva. They still talk about the war, but here they make new friends and have a new life in Israel. The ones who came in February are already speaking Hebrew.

In the United States, the Jewish Federations also have lobbied on Capitol Hill for expedited refugee resettlement. In late July, those efforts paid off when the U.S. government announced a new, streamlined, online process for Ukrainian refugees filing for work permits.

Fingerhut, who has been to the Ukraine border and neighboring Poland several times since the war began, said that Jews can lend a hand no matter where they live.

We have a volunteer hub which is especially looking for Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking professionals, he said. Also, our refugee resettlement program is very vigorous, and requires financial support and commitment. Every little bit helps.

The Federations, along with the Jewish Agency and the JDC, already have placed 90 volunteers in Eastern Europe. Some are in Poland, where the JCC of Warsaw, along with local partners, recently hosted a three-week summer camp for 85 refugee children and teens fleeing the war in Ukraine. The camp operated with funding from the Jewish Federations.

Other volunteers have been helping out at the Israeli Consulate in Budapest, Hungary, including several who themselves were once child refugees.

Ukraine-born Alina Gerlovin Spaulding came to New Jersey in 1979 as a young girl, eventually relocating to Greensboro, North Carolina, where shes a real-estate broker. She said she feels like she has come full circle from being on the receiving end of Jewish communal aid as a child immigrant to helping deliver aid to others as an American adult. The experience demonstrates the collective power of the Jewish community when it operates together, she said.

Tatiana Goldvarg, a counselor at the Start.IL summer camp for Ukrainian youth at Kiryat Yearim, Israel, leads campers in a song, August 2022. (Larry Luxner)

When we left the former Soviet Union, no one asked us what denomination of Jew we were, said Spaulding, 48. The Jewish community worldwide stepped up to rescue hundreds of thousands of us in the 70s, 80s and 90s. They gave us a soft landing and an opportunity for an extraordinary life. And now this war in Ukraine has brought a large portion of that community together once again, because so many of us have roots in that part of the world.

Spaulding spent two weeks around Passover in Hungary, using her fluency in Russian to help potential new immigrants to Israel get their paperwork in order.

Many people couldnt take their passports, so they had no records of who they were. Also because of COVID, a lot of people werent traveling and their records had expired, she said. So we helped them in any way we could.

On the same trip to Hungary, Larisa Svechin, who was born in Belarus and came to the U.S. with her family in 1979, helped greet refugees straight off the bus from Ukraine. A former mayor of Sunny Isles Beach, a mostly Jewish suburb of Miami, Svechin was part of a 12-member team that welcomed new arrivals at a Budapest hotel with everything from diapers to insulin.

While they were filling out paperwork, we acted as their support system from morning to night from making them tea and giving them snacks to playing with their kids. These people were so traumatized, said Svechin, 49.

The experience of those two weeks in Hungary changed her life, Svechin said.

You get to know these people on such a personal level because you know all their details, she said. This experience was so profound. Id do it again without even thinking.

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With $73 million and counting, this organization is the backbone of the Jewish aid effort for Ukraine - JTA News - Jewish Telegraphic Agency

They were forced to sell their beloved synagogue. 7 decades later, they finally have a chance to buy it back – Forward

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Members of the Jewish community in Las Vegas, N.M., are trying to purchase Temple Montefiore, the first synagogue in the New Mexico Territory, from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Photo by Jim Weber/The New Mexican

By Sarah NachimsonSeptember 07, 2022

The Las Vegas, New Mexico, Jewish community is determined to buy back its synagogue.

Its an opportunity few saw coming. The Las Vegas Archdiocese has owned the Montefiore Synagogue for some seven decades, and consistently refused to sell it back to the local Jewish community, despite repeated pleas.

But a $121.5 million settlement related to a Chapter 11 lawsuit about sexual abuse in the New Mexico church has pushed the archdiocese into bankruptcy and forced a sale of the historic building, which Jewish leaders in the city of 13,055 have long aspired to make a new center of Las Vegas Jewish life.

Sure, the community has to drum up the funds to purchase the building. But it will be bought by us, said Zelda McCrossen, treasurer for the Las Vegas Jewish Community. Thats a given.

A GoFundMe page to help the community purchase the Montefiore Synagogue which, per the archdioceses bankruptcy agreement, the archdiocese must sell within 30 days of signing had raised more than $78,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. According to court documents, the Las Vegas Jewish Community and Archdiocese of Santa Fe entered a deal for the community to buy the synagogue and an adjacent house for $200,000 on Aug. 23.

Since the Las Vegas Jewish Community does not have sufficient funds to meet that price on hand, they are crowdfunding to cover the costs.

A history, and a rebirth

The Montefiore Synagogue dates to 1886, a time when a large Jewish community had settled in Las Vegas and nearby Santa Fe. That community grew after Amtrak added a train stop in the city in 1899, making it more accessible.

However, by the 1950s, the Jewish community had dwindled, and could no longer afford to maintain the synagogue. The archdiocese purchased the property, and transformed it into a private facility for students at the nearby public Highlands University for students to learn about Catholicism.

The Jewish community of Las Vegas, which has been growing in the past decade, has, McCrossen said, made multiple offers to buy back the building in the past few years.

John Macken, a representative of the Las Vegas Archdiocese, said the church would be delighted if the synagogue returned to the Jewish community as planned.

The Las Vegas Jewish community today, McCrossen said, is a mixed community without any official denomination. We do have a lot of converso and crypto Jews in northern New Mexico, she said. But, she said, were from all over.

In recent years, the community has hosted major events at the citys Episcopal Church, including Passover seders and Hanukkah celebrations. It also held Hebrew classes over Zoom during the pandemic.

The community does not have an in-person rabbi, but visiting rabbis from Albuquerque regularly help with events.

The community plans to hold High Holiday services this year in the synagogue after reclaiming it, and to use it as a community space. At least for the moment, weekly services dont appear to be in the communitys future, but there are plans in the works for the synagogue to host a museum and community events, and to serve as a center for Jewish education.

The only way were going to fight antisemitism is through education, McCrossen said, and thats part of our goal in wanting to have this building back.

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They were forced to sell their beloved synagogue. 7 decades later, they finally have a chance to buy it back - Forward

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Bombing of Auschwitz – Jewish Journal

Posted By on September 8, 2022

The Roosevelt administrations refusal to strike Auschwitz was among the issues raised in Wolf Blitzers recent CNN special about the Holocaust, and will be discussed in Ken Burnss upcoming documentary film on Americas response to the Holocaust.

During the spring and summer of 1944, as hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being deported to Auschwitz, at least thirty officials of Jewish organizations or institutions urged the Roosevelt administration to carry out air strikes on the railways and bridges over which the deportations were taking place, or to undertake precision strikes on the gas chambers and crematoria themselves.

Nahum Goldmann, head of the World Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Jacob Rosenheim, president of the Orthodox advocacy group Agudath Israel, were particularly active in pressing the Roosevelt administration on the bombing proposals.

Usually such pleas were made behind closed doors. On occasion, however, the bombing idea spilled out into public view.

On July 10, the JTA published a dispatch from London, reporting that recent escapees from Auschwitz were urging: The crematoria in Oswiecim [Auschwitz] and Birkenau, easily recognisable [sic] by their chimneys and watch-towers, as well as the main railway lines connection Slovakia and Carpatho-Ruthenia with Poland, especially the bridge at Cop, should be bombed.

On the day the JTA article appeared, and during the several days before and after that date, eight trainloads of Jewish deportees from Hungary arrived in Auschwitz. More than 30,000 Jews were gassed in that four-day span. Those were the last trains to come from Hungary, but deportations of Jews to Auschwitz from other countries continued.

The JTAs mention of the bridge at Cop is significant because some contemporary pundits have argued that the Germans were capable of quickly repairing damaged railways. But bridges that were bombed could take days, even weeks, to repairwhich is why the Allies frequently bombed bridges throughout Europe.

Four days later, the JTA again highlighted the issue of the railways leading to Auschwitz. It reported that in a radio broadcast to Europe, a leader of the International Federation of Transport Workers had urged railway workers in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia to prevent the deportation of Hungarian Jews to [Nazi] death camps [in Poland] by sabotaging rail equipment being used to transport the Jews.

Wolf Blitzers late father David, who was a prisoner in Auschwitz, remarked on the railways issue in excerpts from his 1983 oral history interview, which were aired in CNNs August 26 program. Every day, thousands of people were burned and gassed in the camps, only because [the Germans] had the possibility to bring those trainloads of people, the elder Blitzer recalled. If those rails had been bombarded, they couldnt have done it so perfectly.

On July 20, 1944, the JTA raised the bombing issue again. This time, it reported that liberal circles [in London] are demanding that Britain and the United States act to save the Jews of Hungary by, first, bombing the extermination camps of Oswiecim and Birkenau in Poland

Some other Jewish publications picked up the cry. Editorials or columns calling for bombing Auschwitz or the railways and bridges appeared in the National Jewish Ledger (in Washington, D.C.), the national Jewish magazine Opinion, the New York City Yiddish-language daily Morgen Zhurnal, the Independent Jewish Press Service, and Jewish Frontier, the monthly published by the Labor Zionists of America.

Unbeknownst to the American Jewish community, however, the Roosevelt administration had already made the fateful decision that would shape U.S. policy on bombing Auschwitz.

In memoranda and policy meetings in early February 1944,senior officials of the War Department (today the Defense Department) decided that as a matter of principle, the U.S. would not use military resources for rescuing victims of enemy oppression. The officials claimed the most effective relief which can be given victims of enemy persecution is to insure the speedy defeat of the Axis.

Four months later, when Jewish leaders first began urging the administration to bomb the railways to Auschwitz, Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy used language directly from the February decision. The most effective relief to victims of enemy persecution is the early defat of the Axis, McCloy wrote. Bombing the railways to Auschwitz was impracticable, he claimed, because it would require diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations.

The truth, however, was that no diversion would have been necessary, because American bombers were already preparing to strike German oil factories located in the Auschwitz industrial zone. On July 8two days before the first of the three JTA articles was publishedAllied planes carried out their fourth reconnaissance mission over the oil factories.

In his book Night, Elie Wiesel described how he and other Jewish slave laborers in the oil factories were filled with joy when U.S. bombers struck on August 20, 1944. Even though the prisoners lives were endangered, they were ecstatic at the possibility that the mass-murder machinery nearby would be destroyed.

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The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Bombing of Auschwitz - Jewish Journal

Do these stats about 21st-century Jewish orgs sound right to you? – eJewish Philanthropy

Posted By on September 8, 2022

No? Thats because they arent right. And theyre wrong because this information is more than a decade old. Without current data we are all flying blind into the future. That must change now.

Starting this week, leaders of contemporary Jewish organizations have an opportunity to bring that data up to date, to have their voices heard, and to document the ongoing revolution that is redefining Jewish life in the 21st century. The 2022 Survey of Contemporary Jewish Initiatives (SCJI) comes at a critical inflection point for our community and the world.

In the decade that has passed since the last comprehensive scan of Jewish startups, much has changed, and much remains unexamined. As documented in The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape (2009) and The Jewish Innovation Economy: An Emerging Market for Knowledge and Social Capital (2010), hundreds of organizations are powering an innovation boom pioneering solutions that the Jewish world desperately needs. And very little data has been collected about how that landscape has evolved over the past 10 years.

Previous research showed that while 20th-century organizations prioritized Jewish literacy and education, identity, peoplehood, Israel-as-homeland and Judaism-as-religion, newer organizations have different priorities. The growth of the Jewish environmental, outdoor, food, farming and related sustainability movements; the renewed interest in social justice and world repair (often in partnership with organizations and coalitions that are not explicitly Jewish); the creativity in Jewish arts & culture (especially in pop culture); the deployment of technology to advance Jewish values and priorities and the recognition of the racial and ethnic diversity among the Jewish people all support a landscape that blurs secular and sacred, links particular and universal and prizes relevance and meaning over rote adherence to tradition.

Jewish consumers are seeking experiences that make sense of their modern lives, help them make their way in the world, navigate careers, be better parents and apply wisdom and traditions to both global and local concerns. The changing desires and DIY impulses of participants in Jewish life have had profound implications for Jewish programming and philanthropy.

The Jewish community needs up-to-date information to make sense of it all. The experience and perspectives of leaders of new Jewish initiatives, whether standalone or hosted within larger established organizations, are vital to plan for the future. The shifting sands of identity and history force us to a new understanding of what Jewish life is, how it is accessed and how being Jewish integrates with all the complexities of our other identities and interests. The 2022 Survey of Contemporary Jewish Initiatives will allow leaders of these dynamic new organizations and communities to share what they are doing, and what they have learned to help each of us and all of us chart a course to the many Jewish futures.

Learn more: | Register your org or nominate one to take the survey:

Joshua Avedon is CEO and co-founder of Jumpstart Labs, Inc.

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Do these stats about 21st-century Jewish orgs sound right to you? - eJewish Philanthropy

The greatest Jewish Hollywood character youve never heard of – Forward

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Maurice Duke was born Maurice Duschinsky in 1910 in Coney Island. Courtesy of Michael Barrie

By Michael BarrieSeptember 07, 2022

You hear the name Duke in Hollywood and you picture a mountain of a man in a weathered Stetson firing his Colt from a speedy horse. Well, this isnt about him. Its about another Hollywood Duke a short Jew in a fedora firing expletives from his mouth. The smoking weapon in his hand was a cheap cigar.

In the mid-1970s, in New York, my writing partner and I worked on a sitcom produced by comedian Alan King. Alan was a hell of a storyteller, onstage and off. Story conferences would sometimes morph into hilarious anecdotes from burlesque, the Catskills, Hollywood. The subject of a few tales was Maurice Duke.

Maurice Duke was a talent manager and film producer. Some tagged him King of the Bs. Though to call his films B-movies would be overpraising them. By a lot. Dukes low-rent productions exploited current fads. When 1940s magazines discovered teenagers, he launched The Teen Agers series. When Top Ten radio arrived, so did his picture, Disc Jockey. The Cold War spawned his Mickey Rooney flick, The Atomic Kid. And the Twist dance craze of the 1960s gave us Twist All Night.

Dukes magnus opus was triggered by the success of comedy team Martin & Lewis. It was called Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Actor Martin Landau called it so bad it made Ed Woods films look like Gone with the Wind. In 1958, UCLA named it The Worst Film Ever Made. Duke beamed and clutched the award to his bosom like it was a golden Oscar.

I made 103 pictures, he said with a foxy grin, All of them st.

Maurice Duschinsky was one of seven born to Hungarian Jewish immigrants Armin and Melani (Weiss) Duschinsky. He was born he mightve called it his release date on Oct. 27, 1910 in Coney Island, New York. It wasnt a strong opening. At 10 months of age, he was stricken with polio. Before it was popular, he would say.

Polio shaped Dukes view of life. After that, no misfortune or defeat could be worse than what hed already faced. It gave him the perspective and resilience to thumb his nose at any setback and say, Next! That became his mantra: Its over. Next!

Duke walked with the aid of a brace and cane. His metal brace was hinged at the knee. To walk, hed lock the joint so the knee couldnt bend, then step forward with the good leg, swing the braced leg, and use the cane to stay upright. You didnt want to distract him. I cant stop once Im in motion! Sometimes if there was a line at the deli, hed say, Make way, wounded veteran!

My friend Duke, the pre-Don Rickles insult comic Jack E. Leonard once said by way of introducing him, the only guy who walks around with his own Erector set.

Duke learned to play harmonica in a bed at Childrens Hospital. He won a contest and formed the Cappy Barra Harmonica Band, a vaudeville troupe, becoming their manager at 21. Eventually, hed go on to manage the careers of Mickey Rooney, Zero Mostel, actor Mike Connors, broadcaster Tom Snyder, and the dog Lassie. But in 1931 his only other client was friend and meshuggenerHenry Nemo (Nuni Bregman). Nemo, who would later write such hit tunes as Tis Autumn, and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart, would do anything for a laugh, so Duke booked him into Borscht Belt hotels as social director or tummler.

Nemo and I were driving to California, Duke once said. I tell him the fresh air is doing wonders for my health. So, every day, when Im napping, the Neem shaves a little off the bottom of my cane, then replaces the rubber tip. When we get to LA, I stand and say, Neem, this climates great, Ive grown 2 inches!

Once, he insisted we stop at the Museum of Science and Industry. He wants to show me the largest magnet in the world. Its the size of a house. So, we get there and he keeps pushing me closer and closer to the magnet. Finally, the magnet pulls my metal brace, and Im hanging upside down.

The man could talk. Hed jab the air with a lit cigar and hed get a lot into a sentence by keeping most words to four letters. At 40, he convinced a stunning 20-year-old Texas model named Evelyn Williams to marry him. The marriage was good, the divorce better. In 1983, their kids hosted a star-studded Hollywood roast for the 25thanniversary of their split.

In 1991, I had a first lunch date with the woman I would take a second shot at marriage with. When I asked Fredde about her parents, she said, You probably never heard of my dad. Hes a producer named Maurice Duke.

The one Alan King talked about? With the brace and the cane?

She was shocked Id heard of him. I was shocked he was alive.

On our next date she said, How would you like to meet my dad?

Sure, I said, unaware he was in Brotman Hospital recovering from a stroke. But this was not your fathers stroke patient. He was taking calls, holding court, ordering the nurse around.

Months later, she asked her father what he thought of me. Nice guy, he said, but hell never marry you. Duke wasnt always right about stuff. In Germany, in 1961, he turned down an offer to manage some group called the Beatles.

But back to 51.

Martin & Lewis were the hottest guys in show business, banging out hit movies for Paramount. Duke had an epiphany: Why should Martin & Lewis be the only ones allowed to make Martin & Lewis pictures? So, he found a skinny kid, a carbon copy of Jerry Lewis named Sammy Petrillo, teamed him with an Italian crooner and hired Bela Lugosi for, er, name value: Lights! Action! Lawsuit!

Jerry Lewis and Paramount got wind of Dukes low-budget knockoff and sued him for theft of intellectual property. (If youve seen Martin & Lewis act, intellectual may not be the word that comes to mind.) Soon, there was talk of a settlement; Paramount would pay Duke to bury his movie. Duke stood to make more by burning the negative than releasing the film. He thought it over for oh, maybe two seconds.

But first, Paramount wanted to see the picture. Duke refused and decamped to Palm Springs. Thats when disaster struck. His producing partner, Jack Broder, agreed to screen Brooklyn Gorilla for Lewis and Paramount.

When the lights came up in the screening room, they knew this cheapo production was no threat. The deal was dead.

Duke was crushed. So close. Woulda been the score of a lifetime. What a heartbreaker.


Michael Barrie was a longtime writer for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the Late Show with David Letterman. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the lovely Fredrica Duke, and various four-legged freeloaders.

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The greatest Jewish Hollywood character youve never heard of - Forward

‘Four Winters’ Reveals Jewish Womens Armed Resistance to Nazis During World War II – Ms. Magazine

Posted By on September 8, 2022

In the stunning new documentary Four Winters, award-winning filmmaker Julia Mintz shatters myths of Jewish passivity during World War II, highlighting stories of Jews who escaped to the forests of Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Belarus and banded together in partisan brigades to fight back against Nazis and their collaborators.

Fleeing from cities and towns, some jumping from trains headed to concentration camps, over 25,000 Jewish partisans, many just teenagers, courageously fought back against the Nazi attacks, all while hiding for four years deep in the forests.

All I owned was my camera, leopard coat, rifle and a grenade in case Im captured the pillow was the rifle, the walls were the trees and the sky was the roof, said partisan Faye Schulman.

Mintzs film interlaces compelling archival images and interviews with eight of the last surviving partisansfive women and three menwho share stories about their lives before, during and after the war.

This film has been a passion project of mine from its conception, said Mintz. I have spent the past 20 years engaged in films on social justice and human rights. As an art activist, telling stories that engage people and create a relatable, empowering and inspiring opportunity for us to find our own connection is really, really important.

While many documentary films on the holocaust feature scholars and historians, Four Winters focuses exclusively on the voices of the partisans themselves, who were in their 80s and 90s when Mintz interviewed them.

What became really evident to me was that this was the final opportunity to hear the actual people who lived this history in their own wordsfor them to tell their truths, their experiences, their stories, said Mintz. I wanted to revisit the raw quality and have them be able to really share. A lot of the partisans told me things they never told their families or other people.

I understood I could not behave as a woman. I had to behave as a partisan, as a soldier.

The partisans describe how they were raised in close-knit Jewish families and communities that were shattered by Hitlers armies and how they transformed from innocent young people into fierce partisan soldiers to fight the Nazis who had murdered so many of the people they loved. They lived for four long years in the forests with no shelter but what they could build from sticks and leaves and with little to eat but what they could gather, hunt or steal from collaborators in nearby towns. They also stole weapons and ammunition and, from the forests, fought campaigns against the Nazis, blowing up trains, burning electric stations and attacking Nazi headquarters. Their stories are poignant, shocking, deeply reflective and sometimes even funny, taking the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions from empathy to awe.

Mintz focuses in particular on the stories of Jewish womens resistance, which she says are often missing from mainstream histories.

I wanted to include the stories that I never heard, that I didnt get to read about as a young person when I learned about the Holocaust. They gave us Anne Frank, and we saw Auschwitz, and then we heard stories of righteous Gentiles. There were three options: Hide in an attic, hide in a wall with some righteous Gentiles or be herded on a train and murdered. That was my perception of what was possible. I needed for myself, and for my daughter frankly, another option, another storythe stories of resistance. This was something that I was really hungry for in terms of what we could pass forward.

As the writer, director and producer of Four Winters, Mintz was fully independent, which posed challenges for fundraising but also gave her the opportunity to delve deeply into questions she really cared about.

Issues I believe are really important had been sidelined in the telling of many of the facets of Holocaust history, where womens resistance stories were just not front and center, said Mintz. I had the privilege of asking the questions that I always wanted to ask. The men had to transform but the women had to transform to become something for which there was no reference. Jewish women were not part of the battles of history that they had been taught about. They learned to use a gun. They learned to adapt and become what they needed to be. Im trying to give these women their rightful place in history.

There were three options: Hide in an attic, hide in a wall with some righteous Gentiles or be herded on a train and murdered. That was my perception of what was possible. I needed for myself, and for my daughter frankly, another option, another storythe stories of resistance.

Mintz has included stories of how women navigated the war years as women, including their experiences of sexuality, abortion and motherhood.

The resiliency and self-determination, the courage, ingenuity and grit these women embodiedits our collective legacy. I hold them as my sheroes. I have learned from them that I am so much stronger, so much more resilient. My goal for the film is that people recognize the depth of their strength and that they can tap into that themselves during challenging and difficult times.

With the recent resurgence of extreme right-wing authoritarianism in the United States and abroad, these critical lessons come not a moment too soon.

These women are an inspiration for their willingness to fight back against fascism and bigotry and hate and oppression, and ultimately fight for their lives.

Four Winters premieres at the Film Forum in New York City on September 16. Ticketshere. Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection pointfrom the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalismreporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all thats at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donationany amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, youll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

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'Four Winters' Reveals Jewish Womens Armed Resistance to Nazis During World War II - Ms. Magazine

Federation invites the community to Town Halls with new Houston Jewish Security Director – Jewish Herald-Voice

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Jewish Federation of Greater Houston CEO Renee Wizig-Barrios believes Houstons Jewish community is at a pivotal point when it comes to security.

We feel it is impossible to have a fully thriving Jewish community if people feel unsafe, Wizig-Barrios told the JHV. We want to help create an environment where we increase safety, security and preparedness.

Earlier this summer thanks to a generous gift from Stanford, of blessed memory, and Joan Alexander the Federation took those first steps by launching the first-ever Houston Jewish Community Security Program and hiring Al Tribble Jr., as Houston Jewish communitys first security director.

Now, the Federation would like to hear the security needs from the community.

The Federation will host two Town Halls Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the West Houston Jewish Community Center and Wednesday, Sept. 21, at The Emery/Weiner School, both at 7 p.m. The meetings will include information on the security program and a Q&A with Tribble and Secure Community Network regional director Dave Humble.

Our Jewish community has always cared about security, and our synagogues, agencies and schools have done their best to create a secure environment for worship, education, socialization and Jewish life, Wizig-Barrios said.

But now, we have this great opportunity to have an organized network and full process that can bring the entire community together around security.

We want to take into account all the different needs of the community whether you are big, small, in The Woodlands, Pearland, Meyerland or elsewhere. This is something that will bring the entire community together.

There are approximately 50 brick-and-mortar Jewish institutions in the Greater Houston area and more than 100 Jewish programs and organizations. Based on its 2016 Demographic Study, the Federation estimates there are 64,000 Jews living in the area, which covers Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Wizig-Barrios said over the next several months, there will be communication with area clergy, heads of schools, executive directors at synagogues, religious school leaders, area leaders and the community at large to assess the needs.

At the center of that will be Tribble, a 27-year FBI agent, recently retired, who has been working in Houston for nearly three decades. Tribble will be employed by SCN (Secure Community Network), but work in and for the Houston Jewish community through the Federation. He will be the primary point of contact for Jewish organizations as he advises on safety assessments and improvements, trainings, and as necessary, provide law enforcement liaison duties.

Tribbles law enforcement experience has been diverse. He has worked to combat human trafficking, as well as violent crimes against children. He was a FBI S.W.A.T. team sniper, a hostage negotiator, special agent recruiter, media spokesperson and he worked on counter-terrorism investigations.

For the past 20 years, Tribble has specialized in civil rights, which included police misconduct and hate crimes investigations with bias-motivated criminal offenses as his concentration.

The cases Ive worked in the area of civil rights were some of the most important investigations that really molded me in wanting to protect and serve, especially focusing on people who were particularly targeted because of their religion or race, Tribble told the JHV.

Those things are innate and to be targeted because of those things is particularly heinous, and I take great pride and delight in working those investigations and bringing folks to justice.

They always say, See something, say something. I believe it needs to go one step further. You see something, you say something, you do something. And, when you do something, I think we have maximized our ability to keep ourselves safe.

Upon retiring from the FBI in 2018, Tribble began working as a training specialist with ADLs Education Division in Houston. He also served as an ADL board member and is a board member of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Tribble believes the new Jewish security directors role fits his skill set perfectly.

The work here is very important, and it is extremely focused. It narrows your scope, and the tools are just about the same for investigating and being proactive, he said.

A lot of the work I did with the bureau was reactive. A lot of the work we will do here in the Jewish community will be proactive, and thats what excites me.

I can be proactive and really help with security, but if something does happen, Im really good at being reactive so we can jump in and respond and take care of the threat.

Tribble sees himself as a liaison, harnessing great relationships with local law enforcement throughout the Houston area, which is helpful to have before you need them in a time of crisis.

His goal is to build community awareness about safety, but not have overshadowing fear.

I want everyone to go about their daily life, not curtailing your religious freedoms and traditions, but carry them on and carry them out knowing you have someone looking out for what you are trying to do, and that is practice your religion freely, Tribble said.

Because the Houston Federations security program is powered by SCN, it will have access to SCNs national security advisors, intelligence analysts and other professionals, in addition to benefiting from SCNs National Jewish Security Operations Command Center in Chicago.

We are excited about how the coordinated efforts can really take it to the next level for our Jewish community, Wizig-Barrios said. I think it is going to be so powerful to have a much more concrete idea on how to increase security and how to get there.

In addition to the Alexanders generous gift, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is one of the first recipients of the Jewish Federations of North American LiveSecure Grant Program. The Federation recently learned it will receive $100,000 to help enhance the Houston program.

We really think this is an exciting and important moment for the community, Wizig-Barrios said. Im really grateful to Joan and Stanford Alexander, of blessed memory, for giving us the initial grant that has allowed us to start the community security program.

Hopefully, this will be an incredibly befitting legacy for Stanford in the way he and Joan have always supported our Jewish community.

* * *

Everyone is invited to the Town Halls, but are asked to register in advance at

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Federation invites the community to Town Halls with new Houston Jewish Security Director - Jewish Herald-Voice

Gesher, the J and Federation Partner on Jewish Agency Career Expo Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Gesher Human Services, The J and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit are working together to hold a community-wide Jewish agency career expo to help Jewish communal agencies connect with more potential candidates and increase hiring opportunities.

Around 15 Jewish agencies are expected to have booths at the career expo where they can meet, screen and interview candidates. Candidates will have the opportunity to receive free professional headshots and resume support.

The Metro Detroit Nonprofit Career Expo will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 2-6 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.

Jason Charnas, director of Business and Career Services for Gesher Human Services, and Katie Vieder, senior director of Teens and Community Partnerships for JDetroit, found themselves with a similar issue. They were receiving almost daily calls and emails from local businesses and Jewish communal agencies who asked if they could help share job postings or if they could help find job candidates.

Over the last few months and years, more and more agencies have had staffing issues. Finding candidates both in quality and quantity has become increasingly difficult. The issue isnt exclusive to the Jewish community, Charnas and Vieder agree, but regardless its a pressing issue in the sector they work in.

Truthfully, there was nothing I felt like I could do besides post it on social media or send it on, which really wasnt effective, and it got to the point where it was happening on an almost daily basis, Vieder said. It felt like a critical need, and we needed to come together as a community to figure out a solution because everyone was struggling with the same thing.

Charnas and Vieder had conversations together and with folks at Federation about how to handle this shared problem. Through those conversations came the idea of the expo.

The expo was this idea that together we can attract more candidates, build awareness around the different agencies with positions open and also that somebody could come to interview with one agency and then think, while theyre there, they might as well talk to these other five agencies present, Vieder said.

Positions available in the community are wide-ranging congregations with religious school openings, development professionals, staff accountants, program coordinators, receptionists, youth advisers, teachers, direct care professionals, janitors, group home staff, home health aides, early childhood professionals, special needs counselors, drivers, social workers, audio/visual technicians, office managers, culinary chefs, marketing and more. Both full-time and part-time positions are available. More than 100 open positions are expected to be available at the expo.

[The staffing shortage] was a trend starting prior to COVID. The pandemic exacerbated it. But the truth is were here now and we have to figure out how to solve this challenge or take a shot at it, Charnas said.

Vieder added, Some of our agencies have 20-plus job positions that are open right now. They cannot fulfill their missions or do good work if they dont have people on the ground to do it. In my opinion, the most crucial need right now is finding staff because without people, we cant do anything.

We want to help our agencies find and hire candidates to fill job positions, and we hope we can get more people invested in working in the Jewish community and seeing that these are meaningful, inspiring careers to hold and that we really want to invest in people to take on those positions.

Registration is preferred but not required for job seekers, but they should bring resumes with them regardless to pass out to employers.

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Gesher, the J and Federation Partner on Jewish Agency Career Expo Detroit Jewish News - The Jewish News

Leaning Into the Difficulty – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on September 8, 2022

Rabbi Jason Bonder

By Rabbi Jason Bonder

Parshat Ki Teitzei

Every Rosh Hashanah, we read the Biblical story called The Binding of Isaac. In that story, Abraham ties up his son, Isaac, lifts a dagger above him and is seemingly ready to end Isaacs life.

A story like this reminds us that the Torah isnt some storybook for children. Mixed with the uplifting stories of our people are some very challenging and frightening ones. It is fun to learn and discuss the inspiring stories, but Jewish tradition challenges us to make meaning of it all. The good stories and the bad stories. The fun tales and the very uncomfortable ones.

The Binding of Isaac is terrifying, but it is hardly the grimmest of stories in the Hebrew Bible because spoiler alert Abraham doesnt go through with it. An angel stops Abraham before he gets the chance to sacrifice his son.

In this weeks Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, however, we are presented with a truly gruesome scene. The Torah tells of a person whose life has already been taken. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we see the following instructions: If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you impale him on a stake, you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to God: You shall not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

There are many, far milder, aspects of this weeks Torah portion. Yet in preparing to write this article, inspired by the upcoming new year and the difficult texts we will read, I wanted to answer the challenge and search for meaning in this passage.

When I began searching the traditional Jewish commentaries, I was delighted to see that I am far from the first to find meaning in such a challenging passage. For every ounce of ink in the Torah that conveys grim images, our great sages spilled a pounds worth of ink to share the wisdom that they found within it the problematic texts.

The 11th-century commentator, Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak, better known as Rashi, presents two lessons that we can learn from these instructions about the impaled person. First, Rashi teaches that this commandment reminds us of how we are created in the image of God. In this passage, the Torah challenges us to see the Divine spark even within those who commit heinous crimes. Even in those who, according to the Torah, are deserving of capital punishment.

The second lesson comes from Rashis close attention to one particular phrase within these verses. He notes that the Hebrew words translated above as affront to God are the word kilelat Elohim. Rashi points out that the word translated as affront is derived from the word kal meaning light as in not heavy. Rashi makes the point that, oftentimes, an affront is when we make light of a person, of a situation or of the Almighty.

In this Hebrew month of Elul, as we engage in Heshbon HaNefesh an accounting of the soul we are to look back on this past year and on our lives in general. It is always so much easier to look at the good things weve accomplished and to simply gloss over the disappointments.

By facing the tough passages of our Torah and finding meaning within them, Rashi shows us that we cannot recoil from the challenging parts of our lives. We must face them with bravery and find meaning in them.

When you review this past year, I hope that you wont gloss over the parts of your life which might be easier to ignore. Take the time to confront the things wed rather not face. There is so much meaning and learning for us in the challenges of our lives.

Rabbi Jason Bonder is the associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen. The Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia is proud to provide diverse perspectives on Torah commentary for the Jewish Exponent. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors own and do not reflect the view of the Board of Rabbis.

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Leaning Into the Difficulty - Jewish Exponent

Cleveland Cop Who Praised Hitler Should Be Punished, US Jewish Groups Say – Algemeiner

Posted By on September 8, 2022

US Jewish groups are seeking an apology and sanctions following news that a Cleveland cop who was revealed to have made past antisemitic comments will keep his job.

Last week, Cleveland officials announced that police officer Ismail Quran, a former Officer of the Year, cannot be fired for saying Let me salute to Hitler the great and Scumbag Yahoodi on Twitter.

Explaining the decision, Mayor Justin Bibb and Chief of Police Wayne Drummond said the actions took place years before he was hired.

On Tuesday, Canary Mission, Stop Antisemitism, and Simon Wiesenthal Center, three groups that track and fight antisemitism around the world, said the outcome allows Quran to skirt accountability.

September 1, 2022 1:20 pm

The absence of action is the best outcome that Quran could have hoped four, the groups said. While he is undoubtedly pleased that his antisemitism was dismissed on a technicality, the Jewish community is left to wonder would officer Quran still be employed if he had posted other forms of bigotry?

The groups urged Quran to apologize and asked the Cleveland Division of Police to strip him of his previous awards and issue a statement of assurance on his fitness for engaging with and protecting the Jewish community.

Quran has apologized, according toCleveland Jewish News. On August 24, he expressed in a public letter shame and his aspiration to show the person I have become. He noted that his posts are from approximately ten years ago.

These comments, resurfaced after being long thought deleted, were hurtful and came from a place of ignorance and pain, he wrote. As I write this letter, I am fully aware of the frustration it has caused members of a community that I have sworn to protect and serve.

Commenting on the letter, the Anti-Defamation Leagues regional director of its Cleveland office, James Pasch, said, It is near impossible to walk back from such hateful rhetoric.

In lieu of firing Quran, the Cleveland Division of Police is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to train officers on best practices for investigating hate crimes and extremists and will require future hiring candidates to participate in behavioral-based interviews. It will also monitor the social media accounts of its officers.

Police stations have fired officers for spreading hate before they were hired. In October 2020, the Lafayette Police Department in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, sacked Joseph Zacharek after receiving a tip that exposed his membership in a global online network of neo-Nazis that disbanded three years before he became an officer.

In 2021, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of London terminated and jailed Benjamin Hannam after learning that he had actively participated in the neo-Nazi group National Action before joining law enforcement in 2018. Hannam concealed his past from background checkers, a crime for which he was charged with fraud. Investigators also discovered that he had procured information on making explosives and possessed prohibited images of children.

In 2015, a police officer, Lt. Josh Doggrell from Calhoun County, Alabama was removed from the force when the Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch blog reported that he joined a neo-Confederate organization as a college student twenty years earlier and continued engaging with it throughout his career. Doggrell sued the local government and contested the decision in court for two years, arguing that it violated his First Amendment Rights. In 2017, a federal judge ruled that his firing was justified.

In last weeks joint statement on Quran, Cleveland officials admitted said his case represents a horrible example of explicit bias in our police force.

We cannot emphasize strongly enough that discrimination of any kind, against anyone, simply will not be tolerated, Mayor Bibb and Chief Wayne continued.

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Cleveland Cop Who Praised Hitler Should Be Punished, US Jewish Groups Say - Algemeiner

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