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THE ATTACKS JUST WONT STOP: Hasidic Man Assaulted On 13 Ave In Boro Park – Brooklyn Reader

Posted By on December 30, 2019

THE ATTACKS JUST WONT STOP: Hasidic Man Assaulted On 13 Ave In Boro Park | BK Reader

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The anti-Semitic attacks in New York City just wont stop. Since Chanukah began, YWN has reported three disturbing incidents.

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The anti-Semitic attacks in New York City just wont stop. Since Chanukah began, YWN has reported three disturbing incidents.

The latest attack happened early Wednesday morning.

Boro Park Shomrim tell YWN that it happened at around 1:00AM on 13th Ave near 48th Street.The victim stated he was walking down the street, []

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THE ATTACKS JUST WONT STOP: Hasidic Man Assaulted On 13 Ave In Boro Park - Brooklyn Reader

Talmud Words and Phrases – My Jewish Learning

Posted By on December 30, 2019

The Talmud is a commentary on the Mishnah, a thirdcentury compendium of Jewish law. Its mostly composed of the quoted traditions of hundreds of rabbis from the first to fifth centuries, organized into topical discussions that frequently proceed associatively, rather than systematically. Its written in Aramaic, but quotes many Hebrew text and the two languages are intertwined throughout. When it quotes the Bible, it often does so partially, assuming the reader can complete a biblical verse from memory. In short, the Talmud is text written by insiders, for insiders. Breaking in means getting straight on the Talmuds basic vocabulary. These are common words associated with the Talmud that you should know:

Amora Pronounced ah-MORE-ah (plural Amoraim) this word refers to rabbis in both the Land of Israel and Babylonia in the third through fifthcenturies who are quoted in the Gemara.

Bavli Pronounced BAHV-lee, this refers to the version of the Talmud produced in Babylonia (in English, the Babylonian Talmud). It is one of two Talmuds (the other is the Yerushalmi), and it is the more complete, the more studied, and the more sacred of the two. When people refer simply to The Talmud they usually mean the Bavli. The Bavli is the foundational text of Judaism.

Beraita Pronounced BRY-tah, this refers to a teaching by a Tanna (first-third century rabbi) that is not in the Mishnah. Many though not all beraitas are collected in the Tosefta.

Halacha Pronounced hah-lah-KHAH, from the Hebrew word for walking or path, is the rabbinic interpretation of Jewish law.

Havruta Pronounced khav-ROO-tah, this word refers to a partner with whom one studies Talmud.

Gemara Pronounced ge-MAH-rah, this is the bulk of the text of the Talmud and it is the sum of all the various commentaries on the Mishnah. Sometimes the word Talmud refers to the Gemara alone, though it usually refers to the combination of the Mishnah and the Gemara.

Massechet Pronounced mah-SEH-khet, this word means tractate. The Babylonian Talmud is composed of 63 massechets.

Mishnah/mishnah Pronounced MISH-nah, the Mishnah is a third-century compilation of rabbinic law. It is the core of the Talmud, which is a collection of commentaries on the Mishnah. The world mishnah (small m) refers to a single teaching in the Mishnah.

Rashi Rashi, Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, was one of the greatest expositors and commentators on the Talmud. He lived in 11th-century France and also wrote a classic commentary on the Bible.

Shas Pronounced SHAHS, this is actually an acronym for the Hebrew term shisha sidrei, meaning six orders referring to the six orders of the Mishnah. The term is used, however, as a shorthand for Talmud.

Siyyum Pronounced see-YOOM, this is a celebration that one makes when one has completed a certain defined set of study, often one massechet, or tractate, of the Talmud.

Sugya Pronounced SOOG-ya, this refers to a set of arguments in the Talmud that together discuss a particular issue or mishnah. A sugya is a kind of sustained argument on a subject. These are the building blocks of the Talmud (almost like unmarked chapters).

Tanna Pronounced TAH-nah (plural Tannaim), the Tannaim were teachers who flourished in the Land of Israel in the first two centuries CE and whose views appear in the Mishnah.

Tosafot A set of commentaries to the Talmud that add to Rashis commentary, primarily composed by his grandchildren.

Tosefta Pronounced toe-SEF-tah, this refers to a collection of Tannaitic teachings (from firstthirdcentury rabbis) that follows the same structure as the Mishnah. The teachings that appear in the Tosefta are called beraitas.

Yerushalmi Pronounced yeh-roo-SHAHL-mee, this refers to the version of the Talmud produced in the Land of Israel, and it is less complete, less studied, and less authoritative in Jewish tradition, though still holy.

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Want to know the secret of ‘Jewish genius’? – The Spectator USA

Posted By on December 30, 2019

There I was, watching my old VHS copy ofThe Boys from Brazil, idly reading the lab reports on the swabs I took from my gentile neighbors kids when he wasnt looking, and revising the bassoon part of a concerto Ive been working on, when I saw something alarming trending on Twitter. Not eugenics, but Bret Stephens.

Whats he done now? I asked in six languages, two of them not from the Indo-European language family.

In todaysNew York Times, Bret Stephens discusses Norman Lebrechts excellent new history of the Jews in modern times. Lebrecht describes the unparalleled contributions of notorious underachievers like Marx, Freud, Heine, Disraeli, Herzl, Trotsky, Kafka, Wittgenstein and Einstein but, inexplicably, he fails to mention the contributions of members of the Green family a lacuna that I, with my inherited Ashkenazi acumen, can already see him correcting in the paperback edition.

Lebrecht specifically does not attribute Jewish success to Jewish DNA. He attributes it to environmental factors: the Jewish tradition of Talmudic study, which produced near-universal adult literacy among Jewish males when most Europeans couldnt even write well-poisoner in blood; to the cultural imprint of intellectual labor even among secular Jews; to the Jewish emphasis on hard work, family and education; and to the perennial threat of violence, as nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of your neighbors burning you and your children alive in your home.

There is solid evidence for all these environmental factors, and plenty of evidence that similar factors apply to many other minorities. There is less solid evidence for genetic factors in Jewish achievement, and especially epigenetic factors (changes in gene expression in living organisms, presumably due to environmental factors). Bret Stephens summarizes all this by saying, Jews are, or tend to be smart.

This is not terribly smart. Perhaps it reflects the errors of compression that go into editing. The evidence that we have and it would be interesting to have more is that Jews arent much smarter than any other group. The difference is that they produce high-achieving intellectual outliers at a slightly higher rate. As in athletics, so in the life of the mind: the higher you get, the more marginal the advantages become.

Stephens also refers to a genetic study from 2005. This is an interesting study you see, we read all the time. In particular, it challenges the bottleneck theory (Ashkenazi genes were bottlenecked in the early Middle Ages) and instead focuses on how intelligence in heterozygotes are increased by the well-known clusters of Ashkenazi genetic diseases, the sphingolipid cluster and the DNA repair cluster. I want you to know that I understood that first time round, while making a pastrami sandwich.

The mention of athletics shows how fast the topic of heredity slides into the unsayable. Is there a genetic component to the excelling of Kenyans and Ethiopians at long-distance running? Why are Afro-Caribbeans, who were subjected to a horrific bottlenecking under slavery, better at sprinting than whites from the same geographical zone? Why, returning to safer ground, have Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews not produced the army of Nobel prize winners that the Ashkenazim have?

These are difficult questions, in part because they suggest that what applies to cattle might apply in marginal degree to humans. Nietzsche may have been right when, plagiarizingKelly Clarkson, he said that What doesnt kill me makes me stronger. But to pretend that difficult questions cannot be asked because some people will draw dumb or malicious conclusions is to surrender truth and the advancement of knowledge to the arbitrary moods of the mob and its digital commissars.

These dimwits were out on Twitter within hours on Saturday. In theGuardian, theNew York Timess twin these days in thick virtue-signaling, Edward Helmore wrote that that Stephens had sparked furiouscontroversy online for a column praising Ashkenazi Jews for their scientific accomplishments, which critics say amounts to embracing eugenics. In other words, praising a group for actual accomplishments is racist.

There is nothing obnoxious at all in what Stephens has said. There are obviously obnoxious things in the history of eugenics, and also it appears that one of the authors of that 2005 paper has said some obnoxious things. All of which may be true and regrettable, and none of which discredits social facts and scientific findings.

If you wish to avail yourself of the secrets of Jewish genius, there are two simple courses of action. One is to enlist your children at an early age in the study of the Talmud, and teach them the values of ethics, work and family, which are also the near-universal immigrant virtues. This will be demanding for both them and you: helping them with math homework will be a cinch by comparison.

The other option is to hire Jewish people who show marginal aptitude in their fields of specialization. This is the much less demanding course to take, and it is much more likely to lead to success in the long run. But it does mean refraining from chasing them out of the universities, the professions and the Democratic party. So, be smart like us.

Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor ofSpectator USA.

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Want to know the secret of 'Jewish genius'? - The Spectator USA

Sephardic and Yemenite Chanukah Lighting In a Yeshiva or University Dormitory, Part II – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on December 29, 2019

By Rabbi Haim Jachter | December 26, 2019 Hacham Ovadia Vs. Ribi Messas

Chacham Ovadia (Teshuvot Yechave Daat 6:43) applies the Sephardic practice for only the head of the family to kindle Chanukah lights to even out-of-town yeshiva or university students who reside in an apartment or dormitory. Chacham Ovadia writes that they should not light, as they should rely on their parents lighting, and reciting a bracha in such an instance would be a bracha levatala (a blessing uttered in vain). He insists that Sephardic students do not enjoy the option to opt out of their parents lighting and recite a bracha (based on the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 677:3).

By contrast, the great Moroccan authority Rav Shalom Messas (Teshuvot Tevuot Shemesh Orach Chaim 7 and Teshuvot Shemesh UMagen 2:3) disagrees, and permits those in such a situation to opt out of their parents lighting and recite a bracha on their own lighting. Moroccan Jews are encouraged to follow the ruling of Ribi Shalom especially since students might not feel like they are experiencing Chanukah if they do not light their own lamp in such circumstances. Although Sephardic Jews are accustomed to relying on their parents lighting, they might not feel a part of their parents lighting if they are living at a distance.

I recommend to Sephardic students who live in an out-of-town dormitory (and are not of Moroccan descent) to light their own Chanukah lights but omit the bracha out of respect to Chacham Ovadia. Yalkut Yosef (Orach Chaim 677:4) supports this approach.

There is one scenario in which Chacham Ovadia permits students to recite a bracha on their own lighting. Students who live in a time zone to the east of their parents may recite a bracha since their parents have not yet kindled Chanukah lights. For example, American youngsters learning in an Israeli yeshiva may light their own Chanukah lights and recite a bracha. In such a case, even Chacham Ovadia permits a child to opt out of his parents lighting and recite a bracha (Yalkut Yosef Orach Chaim 677:5).

Rav Shmuel Khoshkerman reports that Rav Ovadia Yosef ruled for the Persian talmidim learning at Baltimores Ner Yisroel yeshiva that they may rely on their parents Chanukah lighting in Iran. This is quite a bold ruling since it is still day in Baltimore when the parents are lighting Chanukah candles in Iran. In such a situation, Rav Moshe Feinstein (as reported by Rav Aharon Felder, Moadei Yeshurun page 21) rules that one does not fulfill the mitzvah of Chanuka lighting with his familys lighting.

Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Kovetz Zichron Yehuda, Sefer Zikaron, vol 1, pg 106-7) rules that yeshiva students whose parents live outside Israel in a different time zone should light and recite a bracha at the yeshiva; otherwise they would not fulfill their obligation (this ruling is also printed in Teshuvot Or LTzion v. 4 p. 281). In Chazon Ovadia (Chanukah page 150), Rav Ovadia writes that in such circumstances the student can either light with a bracha or fulfill the mitzvah with his parents lighting. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo, chapter 14, note 22) also rules that a Sephardic student whose parents live outside Israel in a different time zone can fulfill his obligation with the lighting of his parents.

Rav Ike Sultan of the Yeshiva University kollel adds that for a student attending an institution that does not permit Chanukah candle lighting in the dormitory room, there is an additional reason for him not to recite the bracha and to rely upon his parents lighting. In such a situation it is highly questionable if the student fulfills his obligation by lighting in the institutions dining hall. This is the subject of a great debate between Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Aharon Kotler, as cited by Rav Shimon Eider (Halachos of Chanukah page 37). It is also disputed by Rav Yitzhak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Chanukah 5773 pages 488 and 495) and Rav David Yosef (Torat HaMoadim Chanukah 2:5 p. 49).

Rav Khoshkerman reports that Rav Ovadia also offered the option of fulfilling their mitzvah with the candle lighting performed in the yeshiva at Arvit, as stated in the aforementioned Yechave Daat 6:43.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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Sephardic and Yemenite Chanukah Lighting In a Yeshiva or University Dormitory, Part II - Jewish Link of New Jersey

Were the original Hanukkah latkes really ricotta pancakes from Italy? – The Times of Israel

Posted By on December 29, 2019

This Hanukkah, perhaps you might want to hold off on the potatoes, the applesauce, and the sour cream, and instead think about ricotta cheese specifically, ricotta cheese pancakes from southern Italy, which might be the original Hanukkah latke, or traditional fried potato pancake.

According to some food experts, the Hanukkah latke dates back to 13th-century southern Italy. It was a ricotta cheese pancake sans potato and unlike its Ashkenazi counterpart, the Sephardic creation wasnt even called latkes.

These cheese pancakes were called cassola when the recipe was brought to Rome after Sephardim traveled north from Spanish-controlled southern Italy in 1492 following their expulsion at the onset of the Inquisition.

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Today, multiple food enthusiasts are working on restoring the centuries-old ricotta recipe for the Festival of Lights, rekindling long-forgotten Sephardic traditions.

Each year during Hanukkah, award-winning cooking and lifestyle blogger Tori Avey makes cassola for the holiday, reflecting an enduring interest in the recipe, which she first learned about from the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, by her late friend Gil Marks.

In a newly updated blog post she originally loaded ahead of Hanukkah in December 2010, Avey wrote, Theyre super easy to make and theyll melt in your mouth. Imagine cheesy blintz filling made into a fluffy little pancake. So creamy and delicious! She called them every bit as appropriate for Hanukkah as [potato] latkes.

Cassola, or ricotta pancakes, are a traditional Hanukkah food brought to Rome by Sephardic Jews expelled from southern Italy in 1492. (L.C. Arena)

Avey is a convert to Judaism who has become fascinated by the history of Jewish cuisine, which she writes about on her current website, as well as her previous site, The Shiksa in the Kitchen. She learned from Marks that ricotta pancakes were associated with Hanukkah by medieval Italian rabbi Kalonymus son of Kalonymus, who also connected them with the holiday of Purim.

In southern Italy during the Middle Ages, a tradition developed of eating dairy on Hanukkah because of the dramatic story in which the biblical prophet Judith saves Israel from the Assyrians.

According to the Book of Judith, customarily read on the Sabbath of Hanukkah, the prophet brought gifts of wine and salty cheese to the Assyrian leader Holofernes. When he fell asleep, she beheaded him and his besieging armies fled, and the Israelites were saved which is why many attribute this to be the source of the tradition of cheese on Hanukkah.

Marks wrote that ricotta pancakes, being both dairy and fried, satisfied two of the holidays requirements. Indeed, Avey wrote in an email to The Times of Israel, Frying them in butter makes them even more tasty.

There is some dispute over the origins of these pancakes. When Avey contributed a guest post for PBS Food about the pancakes, Discover the History of Latkes During Hanukkah, one of the comments in response was that the pancakes are at least ten centuries old and slavic (sic), and adopted by slavic jews, but not a jewish tradition. A slavic tradition. Great food, but origins are important.

Food blogger Tori Avey makes cassola for her family every Hanukkah. (Courtesy)

Avey identifies key developments in the history of the ricotta pancake recipe. In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered the countrys Jews to convert to Christianity or face expulsion, which also applied to Jews in the Spanish territory of southern Italy. Jews who left southern Italy brought their ricotta pancake recipe to Rome; it became cassola in the Eternal City and spread throughout northern Italy.

Several centuries later, Avey explained, events in Eastern Europe contributed to the eventual overshadowing of ricotta pancakes on Hanukkah when multiple crop failures in Poland prompted a mass planting of potatoes.

These hearty vegetables helped to sustain the Polish population through the devastating crop failures, and they became a major source of nutrition for Ashkenazi Jews, Avey writes. Many recipes were adapted to utilize potatoes including as latkes!

After some initial resistance, the potato pancake gained respectability and took its place in the pantheon of Jewish foods Since potatoes were much cheaper than wheat flour or cheese, potato latkes became the most widespread eastern European Hanukkah pancake, wrote Marks in his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.

Avey noted, The tradition followed Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants to the United States, where potato latkes firmly took hold. She added, Latkes also became popular in Israel, where several other types of fried treats were celebrated by Sephardic Jews, including keftes [vegetable fritters] and bunuelos,or bimuelos [a type of doughnut].

Bunuelos, a type of doughnut, is often prepared by Sephardic Jews on Hanukkah. (CC-SA/2.0/ Juan Mejuto)

In southern Italy, ricotta pancakes might be poised for a comeback. Rabbi Barbara Aiello, the countrys lone female rabbi and a Times of Israel blogger, will make these pancakes as she welcomes guests for Hanukkah this year at her synagogue in the village of Serestretta, in the region of Calabria the southernmost region of Italy, the toe of the boot, she told The Times of Israel.

While cassola is the Italian vernacular term for the pancakes, the cheese fritters are also called by the Hebrew word levivot, according to Aiello. Marks, in his encyclopedia, identified the term as both a biblical and modern Hebrew word for pancakes.

We fry them up, Aiello said. They look just like latkes. She is planning to serve them to the entire synagogue community on the seventh night of Hanukkah which, she said, is considered the night of women, a tradition to remember Judith, or Yehudit, give gifts of jewelry to women in the family, a little bit different from Ashkenazi traditions for Hanukkah.

Of course, she said, the whole point of eating a latke or sufganiyot or jelly donut is to remember the miracle of the oil. Latkes in Italy have the very same motive behind them.

In this undated photo from recent years, Jews celebrate Hanukkah at Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud in Calabria, the first active synagogue since the areas Jews were expelled in the Inquisition 500 years ago. (Courtesy Rabbi Barbara Aiello)

Aiello cites other parallels with Ashkenazi latkes. Sometimes people will put a little honey, which is almost similar to the way people put applesauce or sour cream on Ashkenazi latkes, she said. Sometimes you can serve them as dessert with a little bit of honey.

Yet differences remain, even beyond the ricotta. Not only are there no potatoes in the recipe, there are no onions, Aiello said. It seems there are also variations within ricotta pancake recipes. Aiello said that 400-500 years ago, we started adding greens and spinach. And, she said, whats used, interestingly enough, in southern Italy is matzo meal, not flour. Who knows why? Its not Passover. Why do we use a Passover flour at Hanukkah time?

Aveys recipe on her blog includes flour but not spinach; Avey also made a few suggestions for modern palates, such as agave nectar for a topping, and a gluten-free option for the flour.

Cassola, while not as popular today as potato latkes, have their own unique charm and a fascinating history, Avey reflected. With eight nights to celebrate, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate this unique dish into a holiday celebration!

Cassola, or ricotta pancakes, for Hanukkah by food blogger Tori Avey. (Courtesy)


1 cup high quality whole milk ricotta cheese3/4 cup flour3 large eggs2 tbsp granulated white sugar1 tsp kosher salt1/2 tsp baking powderNonstick cooking oil spray, for frying


Combine all ingredients (except the nonstick oil spray) in a food processor. Process the mixture for about 45 seconds, pausing here and there to scrape the sides, until the mixture forms a thick batter.

Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking oil and put heat to medium. Use a spoon to scoop up the batter, then pour it onto the hot skillet in a circle the size of silver dollar pancakes, using 1-2 tablespoons of batter per pancake. Spread batter into a thin circle after it hits the skillet.

Fry the latkes for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown, but test one to make sure its cooked all the way through If the latkes are browning faster than theyre cooking, reduce skillet heat. Serve immediately.

These cheese latkes can be eaten plain or topped with a drizzle of honey. Other toppings include jam or preserves, sour cream, maple syrup, yogurt or agave nectar.

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Were the original Hanukkah latkes really ricotta pancakes from Italy? - The Times of Israel

Celebration Set for Boyle Heights on Final Night of Hanukkah –

Posted By on December 29, 2019

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Free public menorah lighting ceremonies will be held at various locations in Los Angeles County Sunday to mark the final night of Hanukkah, including in Boyle Heights, once the main center of Jewish life on the West Coast.

Chanukah on the Eastside, will be held from 7-10 p.m. at Boyle Heights History Tours, 2026 E. 1st St. and will include the lighting of a grand olive oil community menorah.

People planning to attend are asked to bring their own Hanukkah candles to light up the cold and darkness of the winter months with the joy of our collective festival lights, said Shmuel Gonzales, the founder of The Boyle Heights Chavurah, the events organizer which bills itself as a small and close-knit Jewish community.

Traditional kosher Hanukkah foods from diverse Jewish traditions will be shared pot-luck style including latkes, sufganiyot (round jelly doughnuts), sfeng (North Africa-style yeasty and fluffy doughnuts covered in a sweet syrup); and bunuelos (fried dough balls that are among the most common of Sephardic Jewish treats for Hanukkah that are also traditional Christmas treats for Christmas in the Mexican-American tradition).

The liturgy will be led in Hebrew, Spanish and English by Gonzales, a Jewish spiritual leader nicknamed The Barrio Boychik, a chiefly Jewish term of endearment for a young boy or young man.

Other free public menorah lighting ceremonies Sunday are scheduled for New Hope Community Church in Sunland (3 p.m.); The Paseo urban shopping village in Pasadena (3:30-5 p.m.); Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica (5-7 p.m.); The Grove (5:30-7 p.m.); Montage Beverly Hills (5:30 p.m.); Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park (6-9 p.m.) and other locations.

Hanukkah commemorates the temple rededication that followed the Maccabees victory over the larger Hellenist Syrian forces of Antiochus IV in 165 B.C. at the end of a three-year rebellion.

Following the victory, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was rededicated by Judah Maccabee, who led the insurgency begun by his father, the high priest Mattathias.

According to the story of Hanukkah, Maccabee and his soldiers wanted to light the temples ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of their rededication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil, however, burned for eight days in what was held to be a miracle.

Hanukkah which means dedication in Hebrew is observed around the world by lighting candles in a special menorah called a Hanukkiah each day at sundown for eight days, with an additional candle added each day.

The reason for the lights is so passersby should see them and be reminded of the holidays miracle.

Other Hanukkah traditions include spinning a dreidel, a four-sided top, which partially commemorates a game that Jews under Greek domination are believed to have played to camouflage their Torah study, and eating foods fried in oil, such as latkes, pancakes of grated raw potatoes and jelly doughnuts.

Children receive Hanukkah gelt (the Yiddish word for money) from parents and grandparents. The tradition originated with 17th-century Polish Jews giving money to their children to give their teachers during Hanukkah, which led to parents also giving children money.

In the United States, the practice has evolved into giving holiday gifts to children and others.

Unlike on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, or Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observant Jews are permitted to work and attend school during Hanukkah, the only Jewish holiday that commemorates a military victory.

As the Jewish community gathers together to celebrate this special and sacred time of year, we are reminded of Gods message of hope, mercy and love, President Donald Trump said in his Hanukkah message.

Celebration Set for Boyle Heights on Final Night of Hanukkah was last modified: December 28th, 2019 by Contributing Editor

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Celebration Set for Boyle Heights on Final Night of Hanukkah -

A vainikas journey around the world – The Hindu

Posted By on December 29, 2019

Nirmala Rajasekars camaraderie is her strength, be it a concert or conversation. Her passion for music comes through when she talks. After a beaming hello, she says almost in the same breath, Today I am going to play Innamum sandega padalamo... This is only the second occasion I am playing this kriti but I was moved to tears when I practised it. So soulful, believe me.

During her stay and journey both in Europe and the U.S., Nirmala made it her goal to propagate Carnatic music, especially the veena, the Western learners curiosity fuelling the fire. And she works hard for that. I have made my stay in India a six-month affair, to immerse in the musical activities and reach out to more people, she says.

Nirmala has indeed been busy making long strides, collaborating and teaching. After her stint in Europe, Nirmala moved to Minnesota, one of the coldest places in North America. She approached the State Arts Board there for assistance under Folk and Traditional Arts to promote the veenain Minnesota and North Dakota with the help of library systems. With their assistance, she travelled lecturing and performing, often at three or four places on a given day. Later, she invited Thanjavur Murugaboopathi to play percussion for her concerts and also to talk about rhythm. This year, Nirmalas focus is more on varnams and tillanas.

In 2020, Nirmala plans to organise and present concerts on Nature-based compositions to show that our legendary composers have gone beyond devotional and spiritual aspects to highlight the greatness of nature and the need to preserve it. She visited several senior homes, schools and colleges to introduce and promote Indian music with the support from Schuberts Club, Minnesota. This is done mostly as a free service. It was incredible when I realised that I had reached out to nearly 10,000 seniors and children and feel happy that I can do something through music for these two sections of our community, Nirmala adds, because I remember I performed in a place for elders near Kalavai at the behest of Mahaperiyava when I was just eighteen. Elders blessings are important to me, she says.

With the support of the North Dakota Library Group she performed several concerts, one of them was in a chapel, which resembled its famous counterpart at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Nirmala runs a music school Nadarasa - Center for Music, where she teaches veena. With the impetus given by Cleveland Sundaram, she had organised Veena Ganam, a special programme featuring mainly veena, vocal and mridangam in April last. Thanjavur Murugaboopathy, N. Srinivasan and Sriram Natarajan trained the students diligently and the programme was a grand success. The participants, in the six-65 age group, were from nine states. There were 30 veena and 10 mridangam players and 30 vocalists. It was attended by many stalwarts of Carnatic music from Chennai. The next edition is going to be bigger with more participants. The veenas were brought from Minnesota by bus carefully travelling nearly for two days, she adds.

Nirmala is one of the vice-presidents of the Global Carnatic Music Association, which was inaugurated in April 2019. She is supported by other popular musicians of the South. The association is all set to conduct a major event on January 2, 3 and 4 at Vedanta Desikar Hall, Chennai. Participants are coming from the U.S., New Zealand, West Asia and Europe. Log into for details.

Nirmala speaks with enthusiasm about Maithree-The Music of Friendship, album, which represents all genres of music. Launched in October 2018 by Innova Recordings of the U.S., the collaboration has apart from Nirmala on the voice and veena, Thanjavur Murugabhoopathi on the mridangam, ghatam, ganjira and konnakkol, Pat OKeefe on the clarionet and saxophone, Michelle Kinney on cello (both of them are professors) and Tim OKeefe on multi-percussion. A chartbuster, it fell short of the top position in the Grammy race, but was reviewed in the Italian, Spanish, British and American media.

Earlier, Nirmala had made two Carnatic albums with Innova Recordings Into the Raga (Murugabhoopathy, Raghavendra Rao, ghatam Suresh) and the Songs of Veena. Both are kutcheri type of presentations. She singles out the Song of Wonder as a unique collaboration commissioned to present Sephardic music with Sephardic scholars that spanned many cultures. This is a music of the Jews, who had migrated to different parts of the world, including Morocco, Mediterranean, West Asia and even India, explains Nirmala, who found Sephardic music carrying shades of Indian and Hindu traditions. The album explored the wonder of life from creation to destruction. David Harris, a Sephardic scholar was the brain behind this project.

Carnatic Energy was another collaboration in 2000. It was with the famous Jazz player Anthony Cox where Nirmala created a space for the veena, voice and tabla. She had also interacted with popular guitarist, Dean Magraw, composer, arranger, producer. Another partnership was with a Chinese musician, Gao Hong titled Butterfly, who plays an instrument called Pipa. It was an all-woman band and Butterfly starts with something very similar to our Mahaganapthim as Gao Hong was influenced by that kriti. It fetched Nirmala the privilege of playing in the famous Carnegie Hall. She also allies with her daughter Shruthi Rajasekar, trained in both Carnatic and Western music.

Nirmala has been conducting Tyagaraja Aradhana in Minnesota since 1995. Now it has become just Aradhana because we sing the kritis of other vaggeyakkaras too, she says. She has now launched a non-profit organisation Nadha Rasa to take Indian classical music across the world. With Layyaasaaram, U.S., Nadha Rasa conducted a programme on the mridangam with Karaikkudi Mani in January last.

Nirmala does not agree that instrumental music has few takers. My performance at the Sawai Gandharva Festival in Pune recently was attended by young people, many of whom surrounded me asking questions. In Kolkata, Tarun Battacharya, famous santoor player, expressed his happiness to offer a pure Carnatic instrumental concert to their audience notwithstanding the fact that I have done jugalbandis with Tarunji and also with Ronu Majumdar and Gaurav Mazumdar earlier, she says.

The University of Wisconsin has identified Nirmala Rajasekar as the Composer of the Year 2019-20. She will be writing exclusive pieces for the Universitys choir, jazz band and the orchestra. A first generation musician, Nirmala has crossed milestones, talent being her only credential. Her appeal to the audience this Season? Please attend instrumental music concerts in large numbers. Remember, every instrument gives a new dimension to music.

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A vainikas journey around the world - The Hindu

Spain and California find common ground at El Lopo wine bar – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 29, 2019

Food coverageis supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

For many people, the point of foreign travel is to expand horizons and see things in a new way. Thats how it was for Daniel Azarkman on a 2006 trip to Spain, when his horizons expanded specifically around the countrys cuisine.

What was really shocking to me was the ubiquity of good food, said Azarkman, who was an undergrad at UC Berkeley at the time. Where you can walk into any place to use the bathroom and, just to be polite, you order something and its amazing. You can walk around blindfolded in Spain and eat well.

He loved how eateries were unlike American restaurants. Theyre more like neighborhood hangouts, but they really care about the quality of products they serve, both food and drinks, he said. They might have really cheap paper napkins and an old TV with sports on and people smoking inside and throwing their butts on the floor, but the food is always taken seriously.

El Lopo, his relatively new wine bar in Polk Gulch, is based on that model minus the smoking and butts on the floor, of course.

Its a place that takes its product seriously but doesnt take itself too seriously, he said, where you can be a person instead of a diner, and you have more of the open-ended experience that people go to bars for, as opposed to having an appetizer, entre and dessert.

He compared it to reading a magazine instead of a novel, where you can open to any page and start reading. I like for people to come in here without knowing how long theyll be here or what theyll order or how much of it theyll have, he said.

Azarkmans love for Spain and its cuisine may be in his blood his ancestry is 75 percent Sephardic, and his parents are Israeli immigrants who came to Los Angeles. His father left Iran for Israel at age 6; his fathers parents were of Kurdish and Bukharan Jewish lineage. His mothers ancestry is from Bulgaria and Hungary. (Most Bulgarian Jews came from Spain, settling there at the time of the expulsion.) Azarkman and his father hope to some day write a family narrative and cookbook featuring the story of his grandmother, who moved from Uzbekistan to Iran to Israel, and how her cooking evolved out of her migration.

Azarkman, 33, grew up in the very Jewish enclave of Encino in the San Fernando Valley, but says he felt very different from his Ashkenazi peers. He moved north to attend Cal, thinking hed eventually pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy or linguistics. But he was also dreaming about working in the food industry.

I let it just be a fantasy for a long time, until the itch started to bother me to the point where I didnt want to wonder anymore, he said.

While he had intended to return to L.A. after graduating college in 2008, he fell in love with the Bay Area food scene and enrolled in a now-defunct culinary management program at the San Francisco Art Institute.

You can walk around blindfolded in Spain and eat well.

He worked both front and back of house in several restaurants, and during that time he realized he wasnt quite cut out to be a chef.

I had a bit of a romanticized version of it before I got my hands dirty, he said. I like to say Im better with a pen than a knife.

Before opening El Lopo early this year, he spent six years working for Off the Grid, helping to grow the organization that brings food trucks to common spaces and managing an incubator program for food trucks.

El Lopo has an extensive selection of vermouth and sherry-based cocktails, beer and wine. All beverages come from Spain or California.

Small plates include empanadas and glazed sunchokes with persimmon, brown butter and Manchego. This reporter tried the chicken liver mousse with dates and almonds, which was deliciously creamy and, not surprisingly, nothing like Bubbe used to make.

Wednesday is trivia night (when every table is taken), Tuesday is karaoke night, Monday is live music night and Sunday is industry night.

A lot of Jews and Israelis in the neighborhood have found their way to him, he said.

Azarkmans sense of whimsy is all over the place, with a story about an extinct bear-wolf called a lopo on the website, a section of the menu called little snacky things, and a warning to please make us aware of any dietary restrictions so we dont accidentally poison you.

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Spain and California find common ground at El Lopo wine bar - The Jewish News of Northern California

The Fascinating History and Political Lives of Jews in Iran – CounterPunch

Posted By on December 29, 2019

On December 14, 2019, a white male entered the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills, vandalizing the sanctuary. He unrolled Torah scrolls, strewed them across the floor, and tore prayer books. Four days later, police arrested 24-year-old Anton Nathaniel Redding of Millersville, Pennsylvania, and charged him with vandalism of religious property, commercial burglary, and committing a hate crime. As I heard about this latest antisemitic attack, this time on a Persian synagogue, I thought back to my recent visit to the country of Iran this past October.

The first association that comes to mind when invoking Iran is not usually one of synagogues. Most would be surprised to know that after Israel, the Islamic Republic is home to the largest population of Jews in the Middle East. Irans Jewish population numbers somewhere between 9,000 (according to the 2012 Iranian census) and 15,000 (according to an August 2018 interview with the Iranian Jewish community published in USA Today). As I prepared to lead a CODEPINK peace delegation to Iran, one of my goals was to find out more about Irans Jewish community.

Given the Iranian states imposition of Islamic law on its entire population, the crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S., President Trumps travel ban preventing Iranians from visiting their relatives in the U.S., and Israels open invitation to help Iranian Jews immigrate, I was anxious to discover why Irans population of Jews choose to remain.

On the first morning after our arrival, our group of 12, one-third of whom were Jewish, boarded our tour bus to visit Irans largest synagogue, the Yusef Abad synagogue in Tehran. The first thing we noticed was the lack of security. Walk by any synagogue in Manhattan and you will find at least one security guard, usually more. Last year walking by the Kbenhavn synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, I was struck by how the religious sanctuary was like an unwelcoming fortress. The entire building was surrounded by an iron gate, and the entrance had an armed guard and far more defenses than you find in most airports. Irans Yusef Abad synagogue, however, had no security guard, or even a local congregant posted at the front door. The door was unlocked, and we walked right in. The lack of security, we learned, was because synagogues in Iran are safe places.

Our visit took place on the last day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and we were able to witness the ceremony of shaking the lulav, while the worshipers circled around an ancient Torah in the prayer style of Sephardic Jews (Jews from Spain, Portugal, and other places in the Mediterranean).

A woman in the balcony with reasonably good English welcomed us and showed us around, including taking us to the sukkot outside the back door of the synagogue. About 500 Jews had been there the night before, she told us, as we marveled at the tent-like structure, its ceiling adorned with pomegranates, squash gourds, and citrus fruits. The synagogues warmth and hospitality washed over us.

The Yusef Abad synagogue was just the first of several Jewish experiences I had the pleasure of engaging in during the nine days I spent in Iran. In Isfahan, one of my tour guides and I went to a street lined with synagogues. It was dusk, so we popped in and caught the end of a weekday service. What struck me, again, was that there was no security of any kind.

On the last night of our stay in Iran, I was notified that an Iranian Jewish community leader wanted to meet with me. Jon Letman, an independent journalist and fellow Jew on our CODEPINK delegation, joined me as we sat down with Hamed Tavana, an Iranian Jew and manager of interreligious dialogue at the Iranian Ministry of Culture in the city of Shiraz. Speaking through an interpreter, Tavana welcomed us to his country, wished us a happy Rosh Hashanah, and encouraged us to visit some of the 20 synagogues in Shiraz. He explained that Shiraz, home to around 7,000 Sephardic Jews, is also the hometown of the Jewish member of Irans parliament, and that Iranian Jews are free to conduct whatever religious ceremonies and practices they choose. He referred to Shiraz as a second Jerusalem for Iranian Jews.

I asked Tavana, as I had asked in the Tehran and Isfahan synagogues, how safe the Jewish Iranian community feels and if they face any forms of hatred and antisemitism. He replied, like the others before him, that Iranian Jews are completely safe and respected in their country. He also explained that Iran guarantees a seat in parliament for the Jewish community, and invited us to meet with the Jewish representative on a future visit.

Unconvinced by Tavanas assurances that Jews in Iran did not face discrimination, I pressed further, making sure he didnt think that I was suggesting that Iran was more prone to antisemitism than other countries. Antisemitism is rapidly rising right now in America and Europe, I told him. Donald Trump says vile things against Jews. When American Nazis marched after he was elected, he said there were really fine people. He accuses Jews of being obsessed with money and says to American Jews that Netanyahu is your prime minister, I said. I told Tavana and the people I spoke with at the synagogues that our meeting was occurring during the one-year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue massacre, the largest attack against Jews in Americas history.

Tavana expressed sympathy and understanding, telling us he knew about the Pittsburgh killings and giving his condolences for the victims. But he insisted that this kind of hatred and violence against Jews was not a problem his community faces.

Of course, heand the others I met withmay well have been afraid to say anything outside of approved government messaging. The meeting was facilitated by a translator, presumably sent from the Ministry of Tourism. My conversation in the Isfahan synagogue was also facilitated by a translator who was one of our tour guides. Though our host at the Tehran synagogue spoke excellent English and she and I have remained in touch, given her limited knowledge of me and her governments disdain for dissentthink the countrys recent blacking out of the internetit makes sense she has contained her conversations with me to discussions of our shared and diverging Jewish histories, practices, and values.

I did not want to endanger my friends in Iran by pressing further, like asking about the December 2017 vandalization of the Kenisaeh Hadash synagogue in Shiraz or the 1999 arrest of 13 Iranian Jews from Shiraz who were convicted of spying for Israel and spent between two and four years in jail, finally being released thanks to international pressure. While there may well be more discrimination than the Jews I met admitted, it is remarkable that in a country that is such an ardent foe of Israel, Jews live peacefully, side-by-side with their Muslim neighbors.

Jewish history in Iran is long, rich, and varied, stretching back nearly 3,000 years. In 539 BC (3222-3223 in the Hebrew calendar), King Cyrus the Great authored what is widely regarded as the first-ever declaration of human rights. It advocates fighting oppression, defending the oppressed, and respecting human dignity and the principles of justice, liberty and free expression. It also includes an edict allowing the Jews living under his rule to return to their native lands. The Book of Ezra credits Cyrus with the Jews being able to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem, and the Book of Esther provides an early first glimpse of Jewish life in Iran as it chronicles the rise of a Persian Jewish woman in 478 BC (Hebrew years 3283-3284) to the rank of queen, enabling her to save her people from slaughter.

While the stories of Cyrus and Esther ended well for the Jews, by 651 AD (Hebrew years 4411-4412), with the Muslim conquest of Persia, the Jews were not faring well. Non-Muslims, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians (the religion of Cyrus the Great) were assigned the status of dhimmis, meaning inferior subjects. While they were allowed to practice their religions, they had to pay exorbitant taxes, were required to wear clothing distinguishing them as non-Muslims, and could not do such things as ride horses, bear arms, or testify against a Muslim in court.

The Safavid dynasty, from 1501 to 1736often considered to be the beginning of modern Iranian historysaw the treatment of Jews and other non-Muslims deteriorate even further, as they were forbidden from leaving their homes on rainy days, lest their impurity transfer through the water and contaminate a Muslim. Shah Abbas, who reigned from 1588 to 1629, began his rule by relaxing some of the laws against non-Muslims, giving Jews some opportunities to prosper economically and even encouraging them to settle in the new capital of Isfahan. But his goodwill did not last long, and he later expelled Jews from Isfahan, required them to wear distinctive identifying badges (think an early version of the identifying yellow star patch), and ordered forced conversions.

By the middle of the 19th century, Iranian Jews were living in their own quarters in separate parts of towns. In 1830, there was a massacre and forced conversion of Jews in the cities of Tabriz and Shiraz, and in 1839, there was a massacre of Jews in Mashhad. Those who survived were forced to convert to Islam.

In October 1910, the Jewish community of Shiraz was accused of killing a young Muslim girl to obtain her blood. A crowd gathered demanding vengeance, and Iranian troops were sent in to halt the angry mob. But when the soldiers arrived in the Jewish quarter, rather than follow orders, they initiated the violence. The pogrom went on for six to seven hours, resulting in every single one of the 260 Jewish homes in the quarter being looted. Although most of the Jews found safety in Muslim friends homes, mosques, and inside the British consulate, 12 were killed, and 15 were injured by stabbing, bludgeoning or gunshots.

The Iranian Jewish community prospered financially during the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925 to 1979) as the laws and customs that had discriminated against them were lifted. But the dynastys first ruler, Reza Shah, was also an unapologetic fascist who strengthened Iranian ties with Nazi Germany. On the eve of WWII, Germany was Irans biggest trading partner, and Reza Shah accepted from Germany shipments of around 7,500 racist books advocating for greater collaboration between the Germans and Aryan Persians. Nazi newspapers were distributed in Tehran, and swastikas were graffitied on Jewish homes and shops. Inside Germany, there were nightly radio broadcasts in Persian, advocating such things as violent revenge for the 473 BC massacre of non-Jews during Queen Esthers rule.

Maybe it was because of the paralyzing fear that must have gripped the Jewish community as Reza Shah supported Nazi Germany; maybe it was a continuation of Jewish participation in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911) resulting in, among other things, a parliament seat being set aside for a Jewish representative; or maybe it was thanks to the legacy of Cyrus the Greats treatment of Jews, but in 1941 when the leftist socialist Tudeh party was established, Iranian Jews rushed to join.

Although Jews comprised less than 2 percent of the Iranian population [in 1941], almost 50 percent of the members of the Tudeh party were Jewish, as were a large number of the writers for the partys publications. According to Medea Benjamins book Inside Iran: Tthe Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in 1946, the Tudeh party-led Central Council of United Trade Unions organized a strike against the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, winning an eight-hour workday, overtime pay, higher wages, better housing and paid Fridays off. The Tudeh party also introduced the countrys first national labor laws that secured the above-listed rights for all workers, as well as a minimum wage, six annual national holidays, unemployment compensation, the right to organize unions, and the outlawing of child labor.

In 1946, Mohammad Reza Shah, who had replaced his father in 1941, outlawed the Tudeh party and, in 1957, with the help of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad, he established the brutal Iranian secret police, the SAVAK, which censored, disappeared, tortured, and killed anyone who dared criticize the Shahs regime. According to Amnesty International, in 1975, there were between 25,000 and 100,000 political prisoners. The torture used in the prisons and by SAVAK was similar to that used against Jews and others during the Spanish Inquisition. Survivors describe such things as a metal cage torture device and electric cables and wires for flogging my (feet) while I was blindfolded.

Ironically, this period has been described by historian David Menashri as a golden era for Iranian Jewry: Their part in economic, scientific, and professional life was disproportionate to their share in society they may well have been one of the richest Jewish communities worldwide. While undoubtedly some Jews enjoyed their wealth and achievements without feelings of guilt over the Shahs repression, such attitudes certainly couldnt be ascribed to the entire Jewish community. As the tumultuous 1979 revolution was approaching, the Jewish youth of Iran (not unlike young American Jews of today) were engaged in a battle for leadership against the old guard of their community, many of whom were affiliated with the Shahs regime. What had been inspired by King Cyrus and had taken shape during the Constitutional Revolution, and in the Tudeh party became a commitment by many Iranian Jews to a revolution.

In March 1978, Jewish activists Harun Parviz Yeshaya and Aziz Daneshrad, both of whom had been jailed for anti-monarchy activity under the Shah, gathered a dozen leftist Iranian Jews to establish the Association of Jewish Iranian Intellectuals (AJII). A specifically Jewish revolutionary group, AJII had bylaws that declared war against imperialism, and any form of colonialism, including Zionism, and revealing the relationship between Zionism and worlds imperialism and [w]ar against any sort of racial discrimination, racism, and anti-Semitism.

AJII created the weekly publication Tamuz, which quickly amassed high circulation and published prominent non-Jewish intellectuals and leftist figures alike. We formed this group [AJII] in order to show the rest of the people in Iran that we Jews were not woven from a different fabric of society than other Iranians, but that we also supported [the new post-1979 governments professed] goals for democracy and freedom, said Said Banayan, one of AJIIs founders.

AJII wasnt the only Jewish contribution to the Islamic revolution. With the protests and the Shahs violent response came a vital need for medical care in an institution that would refuse to let SAVAK arrest their patients. The Jewish Sapir Hospital became that place.

December 11, 1978, saw one of the largest demonstrations of the revolution, with millions of citizens participating, including record numbers of Jewssomewhere between 5,000 and 12,000. Our signs and chants were: Yahudi-musalman hambastigi-i mubarak [Jewish-Muslims blessed solidarity]. It was so exciting, I could not stop crying, said one Jewish participant. The momentous occasion brings to mind Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschels participation in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery and his reflection afterward: I felt as if my legs were praying.

While it is rumored the Shah requested and received soldiers from Israel to use against the protesters, ambulances from the Jewish Sapir Hospital scoured the streets looking for wounded protesters to pick up, and the Jewish hospitals large staff of volunteer physicians, nurses, and others stayed on for more than 24 hours to treat and protect the injured.

Unfortunately, many of the aims of the revolution did not survive. In her book Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Medea Benjamin describes the struggle between Ayatollah Khomeini and the more liberal and democratic Prime Minister Bazargan over the creation of a new government. We will never know what could have been, she states. Because at that critical moment the United States once again intervened in Irans affairs by admitting the Shah into the United States for cancer treatment. This redirected the Iranian peoples anger from a focus on what the Shahs regime had done to hatred directed at the U.S.:

When Ayatollah Khomeini refused to order the students out of the [U.S.] embassy, Bazargan resigned, and the debate over his and Khomeinis conflicting visions for the constitution and the future of Iran was effectively over. Khomeini had won.

The brutal eight-year Iran-Iraq war, which began in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, enabled Ayatollah Khomeini to take even greater control. The legal age for girls to marry was lowered to 13, publications were censored, textbooks rewritten, and revenge was taken against both confirmed and alleged former supporters of the Shahs regime. Tragically, some of the very same tactics that had been part of the Shahs regimeexecution, torture, the imprisonment of political criticswere then adopted by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran today executes the second-largest number of people in the world, and some of the very same prisons that were built under the Shah, such as the notorious Evin Prison, today operate with similar brutality.

According to Medea Benjamin, the first two years following the revolution, the Iranian government executed 500 political opponents, 93 former SAVAK officers, 205 members of the military and 35 practitioners of the Bahai religion. It also executed a businessman and prominent member of the Jewish community, Habib Elghanian, who was convicted of being a Zionist spy.

After the execution of Elghanian, a delegation of Jewish leaders met with Ayatollah Khomeini. Although he promised that Jews would be protected, saying, We make a distinction between the Jewish community and the Zionists, two-thirds of the community chose to leave30,000-40,000 to the U.S., 20,000 to Israel, and 10,000 to Europe.

The history of Jewish persecution in Iran should be placed within a larger global context. The suffering that Jews have endured in Iran pales in comparison to the treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of pre-WWII Eastern Europe, of course the Holocaust, and the history of Jewish persecution in other Middle Eastern countries, such as Iraq and Yemen.

We must also understand the experience of Iranian Jews within the current context of todays surrounding countries. Iran guarantees one seat in their parliament for a Jewish representative and two seats for Christian representatives (proportional to the populations of each respective religious minority). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabiaa close U.S. allyrequires women to wear a full chador, executes people for leaving Islam, and forbids the construction of any synagogues or churches.

Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the vast majority of Iranian Jews chose not to emigrate to the newly formed state of Israel. According to Trita Parsi, by 1951, only around 8,000 of Irans 100,000 Jews left. Meanwhile, almost all of Yemens Jewish population was transported to Israel, whereas dark skinned Jewsthey faced terrible discrimination, including having their babies kidnapped by the Jewish state to be adopted out to whiter, more refined Western Ashkenazi Jews from Europe. And compared to the status of Palestinians, Jews in Iran today enjoy far more protections and rights than Palestinians living in the West Bank under Israeli military control.

Iranian-American political scientist Majid Rafizadeh wrote for Tablet about the Jews that stayed: Some of the Jews who have stayed in Iran are elderly and unable to tolerate travel or establishing a new home in a foreign country. Some Jews are determined to protect their sacred places and synagogues, or family homes. But, Rafizadehs assessment ignores that elderly Jews in Iran today were 40 years younger at the time of the revolution. Sadly, he negates the political lives of Iranian Jews, limiting the communitys values to only individualism, sectarianism, and materialism and reducing the length and depth of their rich history.

While Rafizadeh and others assume that Iranian Jews today are simply surviving and suffering, I propose that they have much more agency and intention, including participation in civil societys efforts to transform their society.

Protest in Iran does not necessarily look like the demonstrations that take place in the United States, and does not always rise to the scale of the November 2019 demonstrations that rocked Iran and were brutally repressed by the government. Some Iranian protests are subtle and specific: the young woman our peace delegation witnessed singing in publican activity that is illegal for women in Iranwhile her male partner filmed for social media; the white scarf protests against the compulsory hijab; and the pilgrimage for human rights every October 29 (7 of Aban on the Iranian calendar) to the site near Shiraz where Cyrus the Great was entombed. Perhaps Tavana or some of the other Jews I met in Iran participated in that pilgrimage two days after I left the country on October 27.

The U.S. governments insistence that imposing economic sanctions on Iran is somehow benefiting the Iranian people is demonstrably false. The Trump administrations campaign of maximum pressure is preventing life-saving medicines and vital technology from entering the country and emboldening the countrys hardliners. Iranians seeking to reform their government are suffering from this foreign intervention that is crippling their economy and making human rights goals and progressive reforms harder to achieve.

Just as American Jews who identify with social justice, civil rights, progressivism, and tikkun olam (repair of the world) have no intention of leaving their country even ifGod forbidTrump gets a second term, Jews in Iran today are internationally choosing to remain in their country. Perhaps they remain because they feel integrated into Iranian society and political movements, and see themselves as part of a long history of opposition to U.S., Israeli, British and other forms of imperialism. Perhaps they want to be on the ground for the next chapter of Iranian history, one in which they and their Muslim, Christian, Bahai, Zoroastrian, and other Iranian brothers and sisters work hand-in-hand to create an Iran, and an entire Middle East, where all can live together in peace.

Iranian Jews are anything but trapped victims. They are full political actors with rich political histories and valuable interfaith allies. So how best can we support their efforts? As American Jews and non-Jews, we should be outraged at how the Trump administration is endangering Iranian civil society and making their efforts for change much harder. For the sake of all who live in IranMuslims, Christians, Jews, and morewe must push Congress and whoever gets sworn into office in January 2021 to lift the brutal inhumane sanctions, rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, and move toward normalizing relations.

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The Fascinating History and Political Lives of Jews in Iran - CounterPunch

Anti-Defamation League Reward Offered To Fight NYC Attacks –

Posted By on December 29, 2019

From CBS New York:

NEW YORK CITY Another attack on a Jewish man in New York City has prompted the Anti-Defamation League to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

The latest assault was the third violent incident against Jews in 24 hours, including an assault in Manhattan and an incident reported as aggravated harassment in Brooklyn, the ADL said.

Police said a man in a yarmulke was brutally attacked on East 41st Street near Third Avenue just after 11 a.m. in the Murray Hill neighborhood.

The victim said he was looking at his phone when someone yelled anti-Semitic and profane remarks. When he looked up he was punched in the face and then kicked repeatedly while he was on the ground.

Shortly after the Manhattan attack, police arrested 48-year-old Steven Jorge of Miami and charged him with assault as a hate crime.

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Anti-Defamation League Reward Offered To Fight NYC Attacks -

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