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Holocaust Deniers and Public Misinformation

Posted By on April 4, 2018

Holocaust denial and minimization or distortion of the facts of the Holocaust is a form of antisemitism.

Holocaust deniers ignore the overwhelming evidence of the event and insist that the Holocaust is a myth, invented by the Allies, the Soviet communists, and the Jews for their own ends. According to the deniers’ logic the Allies needed the Holocaust myth to justify their occupation of Germany in 1945 and the harsh persecution of Nazi defendants. Holocaust deniers also claim that Jews needed the Holocaust myth to extract huge payments in restitution from Germany and to justify the establishment of the State of Israel. Holocaust deniers claim that there is a vast conspiracy involving the victorious powers of World War II, Jews, and Israel to propagate the Holocaust for their own ends.

Holocaust deniers assert that if they can discredit one fact about the Holocaust, the whole history of the event can be discredited as well. They ignore the evidence of the historical event and make arguments that they say negate the reality of the Holocaust in its entirety.

Some Holocaust deniers argue that, since there is neither a single document that outlines the Holocaust nor a signed document from Hitler ordering the Holocaust, the Holocaust itself is a hoax. To make this argument, they reject all the evidence submitted at Nuremberg. They denounce as fabrications the genocidal intention of the Nazi state and the thousands of orders, memos, notes, and other records that document the process of destruction. When they cannot sustain arguments that documents are forged, they argue that the language in the documents has been deliberately misinterpreted. Furthermore, some Holocaust deniers insist that the Allies tortured the perpetrators into testifying about their role in the killing process and that the survivors who testified about Nazi crimes against Jews were all lying out of self-interest.

Some Holocaust deniers claim that those few Jews who perished died from natural causes or were legitimately executed by the Nazi state for actual criminal offenses. They assert that Jews and the Allied powers deliberately inflated the numbers of Jews killed during the war. Holocaust historians have placed the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust between 5.1 and 6 million, based on legitimate available historical sources and demographic methods. Holocaust deniers cite uncertainty about the exact number of deaths within this accepted range as proof that the whole history of the Holocaust has been fabricated and that the number of Jewish deaths during World War II has been grossly exaggerated.

Some Holocaust deniers assert that the Nazis did not use gas chambers to kill Jews. They deny the reality of the killing centers. Deniers have focused their attention on Auschwitz and believe if they could just disprove that the Nazis used gas chambers in Auschwitz to kill Jews, the whole history of the Holocaust would also be discredited.

Holocaust deniers often mimic the forms and practices of scholars in order to deceive the public about the nature of their views. They generally footnote their writings by citing the publications of other Holocaust deniers and hold pseudo-scholarly conventions.

Holocaust denial on the Internet is especially a problem because of the ease and speed with which such misinformation can be disseminated. In the United States, where the First Amendment to the Constitution ensures freedom of speech, it is not against the law to deny the Holocaust or to propagate Nazi and antisemitic hate speech. European countries such as Germany and France have criminalized denial of the Holocaust and have banned Nazi and neo-Nazi publications. The Internet is now the chief source of Holocaust denial and the chief means of recruiting for Holocaust denial organizations.

Further Reading

Evans, Richard J. Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Gottfried, Ted. Deniers of the Holocaust: Who They Are, What They Do, Why They Do It. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2001.

Lipstadt, Deborah. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Free Press, 1993.

Shermer, Michael, and Alex Grobman. Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Zimmerman, John C. Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies, and Ideologies. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000.

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Holocaust Deniers and Public Misinformation

Judaism: The Oral Law -Talmud & Mishna

Posted By on April 4, 2018

The Oral Law is a legal commentary on the Torah, explaining how its commandments are to be carried out. Common sense suggests that some sort of oral tradition was always needed to accompany the Written Law, because the Torah alone, even with its 613 commandments, is an insufficient guide to Jewish life. For example, the fourth of the Ten Commandments, ordains, “Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy” (Exodus 20:8). From the Sabbath’s inclusion in the Ten Commandments, it is clear that the Torah regards it as an important holiday. Yet when one looks for the specific biblical laws regulating how to observe the day, one finds only injunctions against lighting a fire, going away from one’s dwelling, cutting down a tree, plowing and harvesting. Would merely refraining from these few activities fulfill the biblical command to make the Sabbath holy? Indeed, the Sabbath rituals that are most commonly associated with holiness-lighting of candles, reciting the kiddush, and the reading of the weekly Torah portion are found not in the Torah, but in the Oral Law.

Without an oral tradition, some of the Torah’s laws would be incomprehensible. In the Shema’s first paragraph, the Bible instructs: “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.” “Bind them for a sign upon your hand,” the last verse instructs. Bind what? The Torah doesn’t say. “And they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.” What are frontlets? The Hebrew word for frontlets, totafot is used three times in the Torah always in this context (Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18) and is as obscure as is the English. Only in the Oral Law do we learn that what a Jewish male should bind upon his hand and between his eyes are tefillin (phylacteries).

Finally, an Oral Law was needed to mitigate certain categorical Torah laws that would have caused grave problems if carried out literally. The Written Law, for example, demands an “eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:24). Did this imply that if one person accidentally blinded another, he should be blinded in return? That seems to be the Torah’s wish. But the Oral Law explains that the verse must be understood as requiring monetary compensation: the value of an eye is what must be paid.

The Jewish community of Palestine suffered horrendous losses during the Great Revolt and the Bar-Kokhba rebellion. Well over a million Jews were killed in the two ill-fated uprisings, and the leading yeshivot, along with thousands of their rabbinical scholars and students, were devastated.

This decline in the number of knowledgeable Jews seems to have been a decisive factor in Rabbi Judah the Prince’s decision around the year 200 C.E. to record in writing the Oral Law. For centuries, Judaism’s leading rabbis had resisted writing down the Oral Law. Teaching the law orally, the rabbis knew, compelled students to maintain close relationships with teachers, and they considered teachers, not books, to be the best conveyors of the Jewish tradition. But with the deaths of so many teachers in the failed revolts, Rabbi Judah apparently feared that the Oral Law would be forgotten unless it were written down.

In the Mishna, the name for the sixty-three tractates in which Rabbi Judah set down the Oral Law, Jewish law is systematically codified, unlike in the Torah. For example, if a person wanted to find every law in the Torah about the Sabbath, he would have to locate scattered references in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Indeed, in order to know everything the Torah said on a given subject, one either had to read through all of it or know its contents by heart. Rabbi Judah avoided this problem by arranging the Mishna topically. All laws pertaining to the Sabbath were put into one tractate called Shabbat (Hebrew for “Sabbath”). The laws contained in Shabbat’s twenty-four chapters are far more extensive than those contained in the Torah, for the Mishna summarizes the Oral Law’s extensive Sabbath legislation. The tractate Shabbat is part of a larger “order” called Mo’ed (Hebrew for “holiday”), which is one of six orders that comprise the Mishna. Some of the other tractates in Mo’ed specify the Oral Laws of Passover (Pesachim); Purim (Megillah); Rosh haShana; Yom Kippur (Yoma); and Sukkot.

The first of the six orders is called Zera’im (Seeds), and deals with the agricultural rules of ancient Palestine, particularly with the details of the produce that were to be presented as offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem. The most famous tractate in Zera’im, however, Brakhot (Blessings) has little to do with agriculture. It records laws concerning different blessings and when they are to be recited.

Another order, called Nezikin (Damages), contains ten tractates summarizing Jewish civil and criminal law.

Another order, Nashim (Women), deals with issues between the sexes, including both laws of marriage, Kiddushin, and of divorce, Gittin.

A fifth order, Kodashim, outlines the laws of sacrifices and ritual slaughter. The sixth order, Taharot, contains the laws of purity and impurity.

Although parts of the Mishna read as dry legal recitations, Rabbi Judah frequently enlivened the text by presenting minority views, which it was also hoped might serve to guide scholars in later generations (Mishna Eduyot 1:6). In one famous instance, the legal code turned almost poetic, as Rabbi Judah cited the lengthy warning the rabbinic judges delivered to witnesses testifying in capital cases:

“How are witnesses inspired with awe in capital cases?” the Mishna begins. “They are brought in and admonished as follows: In case you may want to offer testimony that is only conjecture or hearsay or secondhand evidence, even from a person you consider trustworthy; or in the event you do not know that we shall test you by cross-examination and inquiry, then know that capital cases are not like monetary cases. In monetary cases, a man can make monetary restitution and be forgiven, but in capital cases both the blood of the man put to death and the blood of his [potential] descendants are on the witness’s head until the end of time. For thus we find in the case of Cain, who killed his brother, that it is written: ‘The bloods of your brother cry unto Me’ (Genesis 4:10) that is, his blood and the blood of his potential descendants…. Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world. Furthermore, only one man, Adam, was created for the sake of peace among men, so that no one should say to his fellow, ‘My father was greater than yours…. Also, man [was created singly] to show the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, for if a man strikes many coins from one mold, they all resemble one another, but the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, made each man in the image of Adam, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for my sake”‘ (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). (One commentary notes, “How grave the responsibility, therefore, of corrupting myself by giving false evidence, and thus bringing [upon myself the moral guilt of [murdering] a whole world.”)

One of the Mishna’s sixtythree tractates contains no laws at all. It is called Pirkei Avot (usually translated as Ethics of the Fathers), and it is the “Bartlett’s” of the rabbis, in which their most famous sayings and proverbs are recorded.

During the centuries following Rabbi Judah’s editing of the Mishna, it was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis. Eventually, some of these rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentaries on the Mishna’s laws in a series of books known as the Talmud. The rabbis of Palestine edited their discussions of the Mishna about the year 400: Their work became known as the Palestinian Talmud (in Hebrew, Talmud Yerushalmi, which literally means “Jerusalem Talmud”).

More than a century later, some of the leading Babylonian rabbis compiled another editing of the discussions on the Mishna. By then, these deliberations had been going on some three hundred years. The Babylon edition was far more extensive than its Palestinian counterpart, so that the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) became the most authoritative compilation of the Oral Law. When people speak of studying “the Talmud,” they almost invariably mean the Bavli rather than the Yerushalmi.

The Talmud’s discussions are recorded in a consistent format. A law from the Mishna is cited, which is followed by rabbinic deliberations on its meaning. The Mishna and the rabbinic discussions (known as the Gemara) comprise the Talmud, although in Jewish life the terms Gemara and Talmud usually are used interchangeably.

The rabbis whose views are cited in the Mishna are known as Tanna’im (Aramaic for “teachers”), while the rabbis quoted in the Gemara are known as Amora’im (“explainers” or “interpreters”). Because the Tanna’im lived earlier than the Amora’im, and thus were in closer proximity to Moses and the revelation at Sinai, their teachings are considered more authoritative than those of the Amora’im. For the same reason, Jewish tradition generally regards the teachings of the Amora’im, insofar as they are expounding the Oral Law, as more authoritative than contemporary rabbinic teachings.

In addition to extensive legal discussions (in Hebrew, halakha), the rabbis incorporated into the Talmud guidance on ethical matters, medical advice, historical information, and folklore, which together are known as aggadata.

As a rule, the Gemara’s text starts with a close reading of the Mishna. For example, Mishna Bava Mezia 7:1 teaches the following: “If a man hired laborers and ordered them to work early in the morning and late at night, he cannot compel them to work early and late if it is not the custom to do so in that place.” On this, the Gemara (Bava Mezia 83a) comments: “Is it not obvious [that an employer cannot demand that they change from the local custom]? The case in question is where the employer gave them a higher wage than was normal. In that case, it might be argued that he could then say to them, ‘The reason I gave you a higher wage than is normal is so that you will work early in the morning and late at night.’ So the law tells us that the laborers can reply: ‘The reason that you gave us a higher wage than is normal is for better work [not longer hours].'”

Among religious Jews, talmudic scholars are regarded with the same awe and respect with which secular society regards Nobel laureates. Yet throughout Jewish history, study of the Mishna and Talmud was hardly restricted to an intellectual elite. An old book saved from the millions burned by the Nazis, and now housed at the YIVO library in New York, bears the stamp THE SOCIETY OF WOODCHOPPERS FOR THE STUDY OF MISHNA IN BERDITCHEV. That the men who chopped wood in Berditchev, an arduous job that required no literacy, met regularly to study Jewish law demonstrates the ongoing pervasiveness of study of the Oral Law in the Jewish community.

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Judaism: The Oral Law -Talmud & Mishna

How The Left, The Anti Defamation League and Media Used …

Posted By on March 30, 2018

Immediately after the police identified the suspect in the Florida high school massacre, as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the media began to scour social media, desperate to find any ties Cruz may have had to the Right. In the medias narrow minds, you cant be a gun ownerand not be tied to the Republican Party. The Republican Party and the NRA must be held accountable, and they must be held accountable at all costs, even at the cost of being accurate or truthful. When the media couldnt find any facts to report, they immediately began to scour social media for hints. What they got was a bunch of social media trolls who thought it would be funny to lead the mainstream media on with lies about the shooter. The mainstream media and the Anti Defamation League (who ironically, claims to defend people who are victims of discrimination, yet works overtime to demonize anyone whose views are to the right of theirs), had to settle for fake ties to the massacre suspect and white supremacist group in Tallahassee, Florida.

Unfortunately, both the media and the Anti Defamation Leagues stories quickly fell apart when they were outed for not having done their homework to properly vet the comments made on an open chat, social media platform called 4Chan.

On Thursday afternoon, the Anti-Defamation League reported that a white supremacist group claimed ties with Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to the shooting spree that killed at least 17 people, including many high-school students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

From the Anti Defamation Leagues website:

A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed tothe Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous days deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group.

UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, following news reports of the alleged association between Cruz and the Republic of Florida, a member of an alt right discussion forum wrote that all of the claims were false and were part of an elaborate attempt to troll a network news reporter and other media outlets. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the Broward County sheriff said aconnection was not confirmed at this time, but that law enforcement was still investigating.

Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, allegedly entered the school Wednesday, February 14 with an AR-15 and opened fire, killing at least 17 people and injuring 14 more. Cruz left the scene but was later captured by police and has been charged with premeditated murder.

Afterself-described ROF members claimed on the discussion forum 4chan that Cruz had also been a member, the Anti-Defamation League spoke with an ROF member who identified himself as Jordan Jereb.

Jereb, based in Tallahassee, is believed to be the leader of ROF. In 2016, he was arrested on charges of threatening a staffer in the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott because he was allegedly angry at the staffers son.

Jereb said that Cruz was associated with ROF, having been brought up by another member. Jereb also claimedthat Cruz had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.

ROF has members in north and south Florida. The alt right white supremacist group borrows paramilitary concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement (not itself a white supremacist movement). ROF describes itself as a white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics and seeks to create a white ethnostate in Florida. Most ROF members are young and the group itself is only a few years old.

Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting.

If Cruzs role is confirmed, the Parkland school shooting would be the second school shooting by a white supremacist in the past two months. In December 2017, another young white supremacist, William Atchison, engaged in a shooting spree at a high school in northwest New Mexico, killing two students before shooting himself.

What we know about ROF (the Republic of Florida):

A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) told the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz [.] was associated with his group, the ADL reported. The ADL quoted a man named Jordan Jereb, who runs the small group, which is based in Tallahassee.

Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting, the ADL wrote in a blog post that was quickly picked up by ABC News and The Associated Press, and later percolated through dozens of other media outlets. Even The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, picked up the claim.

Some outlets reported they had their own conversations with Jereb or classmates of Cruz who allegedly corroborated the association of Cruz with ROF.

But a few hours later, after law enforcement agencies said they had no evidence linking Cruz to ROF, Jereb said his identification of Cruz was a misunderstanding and that he, too, had been the subject of a prank. On online forums and Twitter, trolls and white nationalists gloated at the disinformation they had sowed.

Politicoreports- All of our evidence seems to point to the ADL getting this wrong, said Joan Donovan, a researcher who tracks online misinformation campaigns for Data & Society, a think tank in New York City.The ADL subsequently revised its report, as did many news outlets.

ADL shared information from our experts on extremism and claims from white supremacist that we believed could be helpful to both law enforcement and the public due to the fluid and evolving nature of the events, an ADL spokesperson said in a statement on Friday. Confirmation of whether Cruz was part of ROF is now in the hands of law enforcement, and thats what the Broward sheriffs team is looking into.

The ADL traced its original tip to posts on 4chan, where researchers found self-described ROF members claiming that Cruz was a brother-in-arms. But many of those posts seem to have been written specifically to deceive reporters and researchers.

On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.

Prime trolling opportunity, another user replied.

You have to take advantage of this, a third chimed in.

He asked for proof of the reporters identity, according to posted screenshots from their correspondence. The reporter provided an official email address and sent a photo of an ABC identification badge.

Some on the 4chan thread joked about sending back obscene photos, but others gave concrete tips for tricking the reporter: Keep talking to her so she gains your trust; Keep this going be realistic say you have known him for years you met him on a Liberal Facebook page years ago and you have kept in touch; Say you are scared to tell her in case you get blamed, it will get her excited you know something big.

This particular 4chan user seems to have sent the reporter a racist cartoon and was quickly blocked. Many on the forum ripped into him for missing a a golden opportunity.

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How The Left, The Anti Defamation League and Media Used …

Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire Tablet …

Posted By on March 29, 2018

The Ottoman state encompassed vast territories in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. At its peak, the Danube was its northern border in Europe, Tunisia its western strongpoint, the Caucasus and Iraq in Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula in the south. Above all local differences, there was a certain cultural uniformity in the main cities, the administrative and commercial centers in which Jews tended to reside. As many other Jewries since the early middle ages, that of the Ottoman Empire was also an urban society par excellence. Jews were attracted to the major economic centers such as Istanbul, Edirne, Salonica, and Izmir, Aleppo and Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Alexandria, whose communities constituted the vast majority of this Jewry.

The actual size of the Jewish population remains an open question and is estimated at 150,000. Death rates were high and prevented growth before the 19th century. Moreover, recurrent plagues reduced the number in one city or another significantly, but it would stabilize again within a few years. As the barriers between the various Jewish congregations collapsed and their members mixed one with the other, much of the particularistic customs disappeared, and the pluralism in custom and halakhah was replaced by a new eclectic local Sephardi custom. The Judeo-Spanish (Judezmo, Ladino) became the common language among them. Division and tension between Jewish communities followed other lines since the second half of the 16th centuryinternal strife with Jews of Iberian descent (Sephardim), and social class and economic factorsbetween guild or mostly poor vs. the rich, instead of Karaites or Ashkenazim vs. Sephardim. or between local and itinerant merchants. We have very little information about actual tension between Jews and non-JewsMuslims, Christians, and Gypsies. Feelings of kinship and fraternity were reserved, first and foremost, for relations between an individual and his extended family and only after that for relations between the individual and other members of his ethnic-religious group, guild or other. There were close and at times often ties between the Jewish communities of the empire, manifested in family relationships, business contacts, the mobility of rabbis and correspondence on religious legal matters, the tendering of political and monetary aid, and naturally, a constant sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility. There were also ties between the Ottoman Jewish communities and those outside the empire, mainly in northern Italian cities and the western Sephardim, mostly those of Amsterdam.

The multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman state considered all taxpayers within its borders to be its protected subjects. The principle of justice guided the ruler with regard to all his subjects, and the dhimmi communities generally received fair treatment in accordance with the conditions established by Muslim law and tradition. The Islamic legal system determined the inferior status of the dhimmis and imposed upon them the poll tax (jizye) and other restrictions that were intended to degrade and visually mark them as non-Muslims. There was no uniformity or consistency in the enforcement of the restrictions within this vast empire. As a rule, the central authorities usually did not initiate the enforcement of the restrictions, and constantly protected the rights of the dhimmis. The Muslim masses generally expressed contempt towards non-Muslims and strangers of all types. Greek and Armenian Christians demonstrated towards Jews hatred that had both religious and economic origins. This general state of affairs did not prevent the existence of daily peaceful encounters in the economic sphere and occasionally also of friendship. Only rarely did hatred burst forth violently.

Some Cultural Attributes

In the wake of the 17th century, a hundred years after the expulsions from Iberia, Ottoman Jewry appears to bear several cultural attributes that were maintained, in changing form and intensity, until modernity won in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. They can be summed up as follows.

(a) Ottoman Jewry was a traditional and an observant society. Judaism and Jewish heritage were central factors in defining individual and group identity and in shaping patterns of behavior and lifestyles for the majority of Jews, at least as they knew and understood it. This traditional society included very few individuals (perhaps former marranos) who purposely transgressed religious and communal laws, and showed an ambivalent or even antagonist attitude toward religious scholars and erudition. Yet it was never as serious as in the western Sephardi diaspora.

(b) Private and collective identity: A sense of local pride developed side-by-side with a particularistic identity based on country of origin, this already in the 16th century, after the first generation took root in their new homes. It may be that this was more than mere identification with a geographical location and that the Jewish public expressed a sense of belonging to the city of its residence and of sympathy towards the Ottoman state. This local patriotism reinforced existing competition between communities such as Jerusalem and Safed, Istanbul and Salonica.

The autobiography of Sasson Hai Kastiel of Istanbul written at the turn of the 18th century is a good example of ones consciousness: His memoir is replete with pride in his city, the glorious capital of a great and flourishing empire and the seat of the sultans court. Kastiel is also proud of his community: And the mother of all cities in Rum [i.e., Europe, or the former Byzantine Empire] and all its borders is the excellent city of Istanbul, and within it are found 36,000 Jewish households. He notes Istanbuls antiquity and size and later boasts of its large number of synagogues, their beauty, and the riches they have accumulated. He then goes on to relate the economic status of the Jews in the Empire: And all have wealth and honor, particularly the nation of the holy seed of Israel, for they control it verily like princes.

Salonikas Jews, too, were proud of their city, its Jewish majority, its yeshivot, and famous Talmud Torah. They had good reason to call it a city and mother in Israel and later on Jerusalem of the Balkans. The Ottoman traveler Evliya elebi wrote that the Jews relate to their city as Our Salonica. Similar feelings were widespread among the Jews living in the Holy Landespecially in Jerusalem and Safedwhich maintained their mythical status as centers of learning long after they had ceased to be centers of religious creativity and real influence.

An individuals identity was in practice a cluster comprising religious, ethnic-communal, family, local, class, and cultural identities. Similarly, collective identity, too, was multifaceted. Ones religious identity almost absolutely dictated lifestyle, legal status, social and familial relationships, and more. The form given to individual Jewish identity in the Ottoman Muslim environment was not unequivocal. One attitude, generally found in the rabbinic literature, displays pride in Judaism and faith in its supremacy while looking down upon others and referring to them, within closed Jewish circles, in a demeaning and humiliating manner. Thus, it is understandable why Jews were sometimes warned to stay aloof from local non-Jews who have many vices, are lecherous, and so forth. Private and public life was conducted to a great extent on the basis of the Hebrew calendar. The annual cycle also dictated the rhythm of public life in the congregation. Calendars were also dotted with days that were dangerous calling for special attention, but also with anniversaries: birthdays, and commemorative ceremonies for family members. To these were added state holidays and those of other religious communities, especially Muslim holy days, first and foremost among them the period of Ramadan and its concluding festival. Some days were set as festive days by the state, celebrating victories, or events in the sultans family.

(c) The Jews were a semi-literate society, in contrast to the widely accepted image. The elementary schooling provided by the community in the framework of the Talmud Torah schools resulted in a high percentage of literate males, but most of them were at best able to read the prayers. Only some men knew how to write and many were even unable to sign their names. Until the mid-19th century, women received no formal education and almost all were illiterate. Not surprisingly, the great majority of the diverse types of popular literary works were oral, as was the manner in which they were handed down and consumed.

(d) Jewish culture was a hybrid, with two dominant components: Jewish-Iberian and Jewish-Ottoman added to the early local one, of which we know little. A few more sentences about the first group: Jews whose provenance was in the Iberian Peninsula accounted for the majority of Ottoman Jewry, especially in Anatolia and the Balkans. The exiles brought their written and oral cultural heritage with them, and their descendants preserved it. The continuous stream of immigrants from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant, and their return there to Judaism, served to reinforce the memory of the past and to preserve the ties to the old homeland among the veteran Sephardi population. Those who arrived during the 17th century undoubtedly contributed to keeping those who preceded them abreast of developments in Iberian culture, such as poetry and theater, stories, and the language. Graduates of universities in Spain and Portugal brought with them scientific knowledge, particularly in the field of medicine, together with religious skepticism and a tendency to reject rabbinical authority. With time, the memory of the expulsion, murders, and persecutions faded and nostalgic longing increased for their imagined Iberian past, painted in glowing colors, and more so as time passed. The Spanish heritage could be discerned in several cultural spheres: First and foremost the Judeo-Spanish language that became one of the unifying outward signs of the Sephardi diaspora in the Orient until the 20th century. Other aspects are various genres of folklore, the literary output in various genres, halakhah and customs, beliefs, values and manners of behavior, political and organizational patterns, and to a minor degree material culture and cuisine.

Integration and Acculturation

Whereas from the aspects of social standing and their religion the Jews were a sub-group in the heterogeneous Ottoman society, in effect they formed an integral part of the urban population and were well-integrated into city life. The dynamic reality in the cities encouraged minority cultures integration into the majority civilization and the process of borrowing from it. Several factors were responsible for the deep and variegated influence of Ottoman urban society and its culture on Jewish culture in the domains of Ottoman Islam, notwithstanding the fact that some of them were huge communities, centers of Torah learning, power, and wealth; which might have wished to ghettoize themselves.

First and foremost is the daily encounter with the other. Ottoman cities were definitely a Muslim space, but at the same time the larger cities were arenas of diverse religious and cultural encounters: There was a constant and ongoing social interaction in residential neighborhoods, in the markets, in the harbor, and in guild gatherings, and at the bathhouses (hamam) and coffee houses the last two were the loci of recreation. There are several reasons for this fruitful encounter:

(a) The economic activity of the Jews: In the absence of legal restrictions, and making full use of their knowledge and abilities, Jews were involved in a wide variety of occupations. These included local, national and international trade; acting as intermediaries particularly with European traders; small manufacturers, in which textiles, were especially important; financial and other services to high-ranking officials, among them leasing the collection of taxes and custom duties, providing supplies, minting currency, banking, diplomatic consultation and other services. Many provided more mundane services to the general public including medical care and various entertainmentsas jugglers, acrobats, dancers, singers, and puppeteers; or rendered services within the Jewish congregation.

Ottoman Jews were involved in diverse occupations and it had a few implications, one of which was creating close ties with the majority population. Special emphasis should be placed on the role of guilds whose members were of different religious faiths, at least until the 18th century. In addition to being the scene of social interaction, the guilds functioned also as an agent of acculturation. Cooperation and relations between members of each guild were not limited to routine commercial negotiations, and there is evidence of dhimmis participating in the guilds Muslim religious ceremonies.

Two types of cultural agents can be identified among the Jews themselves: Members of the economic elite with access to the sultans court and the households of leading members of the elite, andon a completely different levelmultitudes of Jewish craftsmen and suppliers of services, especially in the areas of entertainment. The latter served as a viaduct for the transfer of diverse cultural influences (folklore, songs, stories, music) from Ottoman urban society, the target population for most of their activities, to Jewish society, which consumed similar products and services.

(b) The legal status and the social atmosphere: Though legally and politically Jews and Christians in the Middle East belonged to a social category that was set apart from and inferior to Muslims, this generally had no practical effect on daily life due to a general laxity in enforcing the sharia restrictions, and the ongoing obligation of the Sultan to retain the holy law in matters concerning his dhimmi subjects. The fact that Jews trusted the system and knew how to cope with momentary difficulties added to their sense of wellbeing.

In their first encounter with the preponderant culture, Jews in the major cities of the empire sensed security and stability to an extent that they allowed themselves to open up toward the Muslim environment, feel at home within it, and adopt some of its practices, customs, and beliefs. The process of assimilation was irreversible and did not end even when religious zealotry and Islamic isolationist tendencies increased, such as during the last two decades of the 17th century, or in the mid-18th century.

(c) The strong assimilating power of Ottoman civilization was an eminent force in the lives of the non-Muslims. Many, mainly in the European provinces, converted to Islam. The syncretistic and pluralistic character of the Ottoman state encouraged minority religions and cultures to integrate into the majority civilization and the process of borrowing from it was accelerated. It is clear that there was a constant flow of Jewish converts to Islam, but we cannot assess the dimensions of this phenomenonwith one outstanding case, that of Sabbatean believers in the last third of the 17th century: Afew hundred families converted, and became the core of the dnme group whose base was in Salonika until the early 20th century.

The elitist cultural outlook/standpoint of Muslim Ottoman society also had a negative result: Until the early 18th century the Ottomans looked down upon anything European. Disregard of the European achievements and discoveries in science and in industry, in commerce as in the arts, was a sure recipe for intellectual isolationism and contributed to stagnation and degeneration in several spheres among the empires subjects.

(d) The Iberian legacy of openness towards the cultural milieu in which it lived (either Islam or Christianity), and the willingness to receive, to borrow, to adopt, and to acculturate. The arrival of the exiles, and later of many former Marranos from the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, occurred during a time of economic growth, expansion, and prosperity for the Ottoman state. Their first encounter with the preponderant culture had occurred at the best timing, that is the heyday of the Ottomans, mainly the Suleymanic periodwhen culture reached new peaks in literature, music, and fine arts. We do not find restrictive orders, either in Jewish law or in communal regulations, that forbid close contacts with non-Jews or that try to distinguish Jews from their surrounding by various barriers. The dominant Muslim character of Ottoman cities was not conceived by Jews as being as hostile as that of Christian cities, and their atmosphere was more inviting.

The absence of a significant polemic literature, especially after the 16th century, is yet another issue. While in the 16th century we find anti-Christian Hebrew tracts (against the Catholic faith), and in the 19th century, against the Protestant missionaries, we hardly know of similar works against Islam, even though there are remnants of Islamic anti-Jewish polemics. These remnants might attest to the higher status of Jews and Judaism in the 16th century. Throughout the period there were spontaneous discussions between laymen. The only documented high-level formal polemic was initiated by Shabbetai Zevi, who summoned Jewish rabbis to the court of Mehmed IV (r. 1648-1687).

If during the first decades of encounter the Jewish immigrants looked upon Ottoman culture as something altogether foreign or inferior, by the mid-16th-century things had changed. During the second half of that century, Ottoman Jewry became increasingly assimilated into Ottoman urban culture, so much so that by the 17th century it played a leading role in all facets of the individuals daily life. Upper and lower echelons of the Jewish society seem to have been more adaptive, and more apt to acculturate. Thus, increasing involvement in Ottoman society and its culture, unparalleled in Europe, had a far-reaching influence on the character of Ottoman Jewry.

The Ottoman Legacy

Ottoman cities, particularly the larger ones, were arenas of diverse religious and cultural encounters. As mentioned before the intimate acquaintance of wide sectors of Jewish society with Ottoman urban institutions as well as with various strata of Ottoman culture had deep and long-range implications for individual lifestyles and also for Jewish society. It is these contacts that forged the Jewish public into Ottoman Jewry. Recent research reveals more to what extent and how deeply Ottoman society and culture influenced Jewish society, its organizational frameworks, and individuals at all levels of the social hierarchy. Ottoman culture exerted an influence on the Jews way of life, the language they spoke, their folk beliefs, ideals, mentality, and norms, and even on their religious practices. The following are some of the major areas of cultural influence and their most outstanding manifestations.


Ottoman Jews were multi-lingual, or at least bi-lingual: Judeo-Spanish or several variants of Judeo-Arabic were used by both men and women as the common language within their ethnic group. Hebrew was the mens language of prayer, but only scholars were truly fluent in Hebrew, which served them as the language of correspondence and for writing their literary works. There is much evidence that Jewish men spoke some Turkish, and a few could even read and write it with various levels of proficiency. Basic command of Turkish and Greek served the men and women who had dealings with Muslims, Greeks, and Armenians in the daily livesin commerce, as well as for communicating with the authorities, etc. We notice a gradual adoption of words and terms into Judeo-Spanish reflecting many aspects of daily lifefoodstuffs, taxes, architectural terms, names of dresses, objects and furnishings, professions, the titles of officials, and more. Many men and women had Turkish and Arab names and sobriquets, as is mainly attested by literature connected with divorce (shmot gitin, and lists of divorce acts) as well as documents in Ottoman Turkish. Some used Turkish curses while arguing with other fellow Jews.

The high level of proficiency in Turkish among a small circle of Jewish intellectuals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is reflected in surviving remnants of lexicographical works and translations from Turkish to Hebrew or the opposite, including the Bible and the Quran, and works on astronomy, medicine, and history. Historiography needs a special emphasis, as we find more and more works that were composed in this field in the Crimea and in the heart of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Poetry and Literature

The folklore of Ottoman Jewry has not been systematically collected and recorded, and with the exception of a few genres of folk literature, it has almost not been the object of academic research. Nevertheless, I may make some remarks on acculturation in this vast field (see also below).

Jewish folk literature in Judeo-Spanish borrowed folktales, proverbs, and sayings from Turkish folk literature. Most instructive is the manner in which stories about Djoha, the counterpart of the Turkish character Nasr-ad-Din Hoja (Nasreddin Hoca), became part of the folktale repertoire of Ottoman Jews. Though it is as yet uncertain when they made their first appearance in a Jewish context, it is hard to believe that such stories came on the scene only in the 19th or 20th centuries. Their adoption almost without change points to Jewish legitimization of this aspect of Ottoman culture. In this case, too, the point should be made that for Jews to be involved in various entertainment spheres such as dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, and operation of puppet theaters and shadow theaters (Karagz) necessitated intimate knowledge of the language, the literary canon and the taste of the local public. I suspect that the Ottoman milieu had some effect on creativity, especially in the field of poetry, and that its high status among Jewish intellectuals seems to have been a response to mainstream Ottoman culture. The example of a circle of poets in late 16th-century Salonika is well known.

Regarding poetry, there is one more example of parallel genres and phenomena: In the late-16th century Jewish poets in Istanbul, Salonica, Edirne and also in provincial centers such as Damascus, Cairo, and Safed, were involved in an ongoing discourse, exchanging letters which were mostly songs, thus trying to show their creativity and skill. There is evidence that the new poetic genre called coplas was created at the beginning of the 17th century. Fragments from the Cairo Geniza suggest that it might have already appeared in the 16th century The coplas were not intended for use in the synagogue or religious ritual, and were diversified in content matterdealing with family, public, and (past and present) historical events. They probably combine a tradition of Sephardi-Iberian writing with a local Ottoman poetic style. Multi-lingual para-liturgical poetry (in Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish, Turkish, and Greek) was written during the 18th century.


The influence of Ottoman culture on Jewish music appears both in form and in the melodies applied to Jewish texts. Edwin Seroussi has shown that borrowing from Ottoman music was comprehensive, including the form of the maqm, the modi, and technical terms. Ottoman music, particularly that performed in the court in Istanbul or in Edirne and music of Sufi orders (tarikat), completely transformed the para-liturgical music and later on, the liturgical music sung in the synagogues and at other religious convocations, such as special study nights (veglia, nocada, mishmara) or the singing of the maftirin (a special choir of men who used to chant in the synagogue on Saturday afternoon), which had become standard at least from the mid-17th century. Leading examples of collections of poems written in the style of the Ottoman maqm are Zemirot Yisrael by R. Israel Najara (whose songs gained immense popularity and were printed in several editions during his lifetime; d. 1620) and Pizmonim u-vakashot (printed c. 1640) by a liturgical poet of the next generation, R. Joseph Ganso of Bursa. Turkish and Arabic music and singing also infiltrated Jewish folk music, about which we know very little, existing side-by-side with songs and melodies of Iberian provenance. It could be that R. Eliyahu ha-Kohens rebuke of women who sang their children songs about love and passion was directed against this type of singing, and not necessarily against the Spanish love romance.

Norms and Values

Among the norms and values adopted by Jews were the maintenance of social order and strict class boundaries, the values of a patriarchal family, of feminine honor and the place of women in public space and society, of masculine honor and the beard as a sign of virility, keeping the body covered, and so forth. Honor was an exceedingly importantand complexsocial value. Sometimes these norms reinforced existing Jewish values, while at other times they contradicted them. There were norms of behavior that were not commensurate with Jewish halakhah, especially in what related to sexual behavioras is evident concerning homosexuality. I already showed that certain homosexual practices were quite widespread, and those involved were not condemned nor punished. Another example was cohabitation of Jewish men with female slaves, which was considered legitimate by the public at large, much to the chagrin of the rabbis, and sometimes their wives. Not a few proverbs and sayings deal with the importance of close and true friendship and loyalty that stand the test and prove firm.

An example of borrowing aesthetic values is the custom of Muslim men, and evidently, the habit of Jewish men as well, to shave off their body hair, against the explicit orders of some rabbis. There are hints of a similar attitude toward the definition of feminine beauty, which also is far from modern Western ideals.

The Political Sphere

Intimate acquaintance of various sectors in Jewish society with the Ottoman judicial system and bureaucratic procedures helped shape the communal institutions of the kahal and its political culture. The very fact that there was a group of men who served as head of the congregation (cemaat ba, kahya, ihtiyarlar, all titled after the Turkish) or were candidates to fill such positions in the future points to the existence of several dozen persons in the larger communities, who had a good command of Turkish and were familiar with Ottoman administrative terminology and procedures. Another institution imitated was the Muslim waqf (hekdesh, that is a sacred trust, endowment). Many trusts were established for the benefit of the community. This had already been widespread in the Genizah world and later in Iberia prior to the expulsion, but local influence on the manner in which they operated in Ottoman lands can be discerned.

Religious Practice

Jews, Muslims, and Christians took care to exhibit their piety and practice the commandments of their religion, at least in public and in accordance with the orders of the Islamic law. Even though Muslim religious leaders preferred that the dhimmis convert to Islam, for the moment they and the masses of Muslim believers looked positively upon expressions of religious piety on the part of their neighbors, most likely based on the belief that each community prays to God according to its own religion, and so they are all protected from Divine wrath. Cases of public transgression of religious laws (immodesty, smoking during a fast, false swear etc.) were condemned or at least left a negative impression on the population.

In what relates to religious practices, we find cases in which the decisors (poskim, who interpret the halakhah) were aware of Muslim religious law and of public opinion, for example relating to smoking on fast days, breaking oaths, and apparently also concerning the matter of charging interest on loans. Some of them thought the Jews behave in accord with Muslim practice, e.g. considering smoking as food and thus prohibiting it on fast days. Others thought to the contrary. From time to time, a call would arise to adopt Muslim customs such as removing footwear before prayer and greater strictness in matters of ritual cleanness. Even the quiet and orderly prayers of Muslims were a source of envy on the part of Jewish religious leaders who time and again criticized their congregations in this matter. The ziyara (visits to holy sites) and the pilgrimage to the Holy Land were apparently encouraged by the growing importance of the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina) and the popularity of visiting tombs of Islamic holy men. Jewish financial support of holy places, religious scholars, and the poor imitated to some extent the custom of the Ottoman elite to distribute such grants (surra), or at least was reinforced by these practices.

Formal religion did not provide appropriate answers to all the spiritual needs of the individual. Popular beliefs and demonological superstitions supplied explanations for certain phenomena and helped the individual contend with the difficulties of his day to day existence. Many believed in the existence of demonic forces and their diverse powers, either of a negative nature (to harm), or such as could be used in a positive way (to heal, to protect, to cause someone to fall in love). Events that could not be explained away, or illnesses, deaths, and other difficult situations characteristic of the hardships of daily life, were attributed to their powers. In order to defend oneself from these powers, or conversely to turn them to their advantage, persons turned to one of two parallel courses of action. The first was prayer or the giving of charity and the like. The second was recourse to talismans and all sorts of charms, some from kabbalistic sources and others of popular origin, that were set down in writing and passed on from generation to generation, and quack medicines, many of which were prohibited by the halakhah. The Jewish rabbinic and popular sources mention superstitions such as belief in demons and supernatural forces, intensive use of talismans to ward off the evil eye or for the fulfillment of wishes, and more. Talismans and charms were supplied by women and men who specialized in supplying them. Jews did not hesitate to turn to non-Jewish practitioners, and Muslims availed themselves of the services of Jewish sorcerers, witches, and fortune-tellers.

Material Culture and Lifestyle

Jewish men and women adopted the lifestyle and material culture of their neighbors together with the significance attached to various status symbols such as expensive clothing, jewelry, ownership of slaves, etc. We have information about influence on diverse aspects of external appearance such as body ornaments (i.e. with henna) or richly embroidered clothes, and the appearance of the home and its furnishings. Some Jews internalized the restrictions on clothinga well-known means of identification in Muslim landsand valued them as an advantageous measure. Most interesting is the information about attempts by Jews to hide their Jewish identity by means of apparel that would not disclose the wearers religious affiliation. This they did either for the sake of security while traveling or in order to overcome their inferiority, and of course, to boast having the financial means to consume luxury items. Anyone who could afford it tried to climb the social ladder, or at least to show a higher statusadopting attributes (including the manner of dress) of upper classes. A famous Jewish preacher explicitly denounces the practice of many men who did not grow side-locks because they were ashamed to mark themselves as Jews.

Minna Rozen identified a similar influence on Jewish tombstones whose general style and ornamentation are compatible with the artistic style predominant in 18th-century western Anatolia. The Bill Gross collection (Tel Aviv) includes a manuscript prayer book whose artistic style, especially of the opening page, resembles that of Muslim manuscripts, and is similar to that of a rare Karaite book (Seder ha-Tefilot le-Minhag Kehilot ha-Karaim) printed in Kala (Crimea) in 1732.

The recreational patterns of Jewish men and women were quite similar to those of the majority society, including the fundamental insistence on gender separation. Women spent their time in the home and in the courtyard, at the bathhouse, and even on occasion outside the city, drinking coffee, smoking, and partaking of sweetmeats and fruit with their female relatives and friends. Men would for the most spend their recreation time in coffee houses, where they also watched various artistic performances, or simply enjoyed each others company.


Although ones religious identity was the dominant factor in his or her life. But Jews, Muslims, and Christians also shared a similar outlook on life, a sense of common fate in times of duress or rejoicing, similar behavioral patterns, and even common folk superstitions, which I mentioned earlier. All attributed every event to the will of God and believed that every event had a reason and a purpose. Catastrophes such as epidemics, fires, and starvation were believed to be Heavenly retribution for sins. The only defense against evils was through religious and moral correction, prayers, charity and other good deeds. Trouble and distress were to be expected; one should not struggle against fate, and nothing could forestall death. There is much similarity in the submissive manner in which those of both faiths accepted their fatevarious genres of folk literature recommend and teach acceptance of ones fate, for there is no logic in bitterness and non-conciliation with the inevitable. Such an outlook on life is discernible in how they related to sickness and death, which was an everyday matter, in the fact that they saw their difficulties as expressions of Divine Providence and reconciled themselves to accepting tragedies as Divine punishment for sins. To a great extent, religious belief dictated how one related to sickness, death, or even poverty and misery, while religious law dictated behavior when death occurred. Preachers put forward various explanations, all traditional-religious, for death, especially in more exceptional cases such as the death of children, rabbis, and so forth.

In recent years, scholars have evinced some interest in the theme of death in Ottoman society. In view of the lack of sufficient works on the Ottoman conception of death and coping with it, we cannot measure the degree of resemblance between Jews and Muslims, but I tend to believe that it exists. With but few exceptions all believed in the world to come, and many prepared for it by following a pious way of life, doing good deeds, and atoning for their sins before death. We find a common concern of the dying for their commemoration and the fate of their souls in the next world. When the day of their passing drew near, the well-to-do would will money or belongings to causes that would ensure eternal bliss for their soulproper burial, reciting the kaddish prayer, Torah study, kindling memorial candles, andlike their neighborsaid to the poor, and the like. Owners of slaves tended to release them from bondage as a pious act.


To sum up, a sense of security and stability, the close proximity of dwellings and businesses as well as the close relationship in the market as workers, traders, go-betweens and customers and the cultural openness which characterized Jews in the Ottoman cities, together with the dominant status of Ottoman-Islamic culture being at its peak, created the grounds for speedy acculturation processes which transformed Jewish culture and society in so many waysranging from clothing and housewares to synagogue liturgy and adornment and the aesthetics of ritual and ceremonial objects; moreover it manifested in a few literary genres and in popular culture and entertainment. It is important to note that it was not a just one-way influenceJewish astronomers and physicians were writing scientific treatises which were used by Muslim contemporaries. All in all, we encounter an almost unprecedented acculturation, one that might only be equaled to that of famous golden age in medieval Spain under Muslim rule.


This essay is adapted from Urban Encounters: The Muslim-Jewish Case in the Ottoman Empire, in The Ottoman Middle East: Studies in Honor of Amnon Cohen, eds. Eyal Ginio and Elie Podeh (Leiden: Brill, 2014). Reprinted with permission.

Yaron Ben-Naeh is director of Misgav Yerushalayim, The Center for Research and Study of Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage, and the Bernard Cherrick Chair in the History of the Jewish People in the department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Continued here:

Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire Tablet …

Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism Labour Party …

Posted By on March 28, 2018

Progress, the Jewish Labour Movement and the rightwing media have been running a completely cynical campaign, argues Mosh Machover

The whole campaign of equating opposition to Zionism with anti-Semitism has, in fact, been carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government and the far right in the United States. It is easy to explain why.

Over recent years there has been a shift in public opinion regarding Israeli policy and the conflict in the Middle East and the legitimation or otherwise of Israel as a Zionist, colonising state. One factor behind this shift has been the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. When the BDS campaign was very young there was some discussion about whether it could actually overthrow the Zionist regime just as some people thought a boycott of South Africa could overthrow apartheid. Of course, all analogies between South Africa and Israel are misleading, because they represent two different models of colonisation. But, leaving that aside, while sanctions may help to produce favourable conditions, those who think they are going to overthrow the regime in this way are deluding themselves.

The BDS campaign has, however, been a mobiliser of public opinion. Its advantage is that in various trade unions and professional organisations, in every college and university, there is a group of people campaigning, and this has provoked a very useful debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is remarkable is that among the BDS activists there is an overrepresentation of young Jewish people.

That is very worrying for the Zionists and if you read the Israeli press it is clear that there is a determination to halt this erosion of support for the Zionist state by discrediting its critics. This was the situation before there was even a hint that Jeremy Corbyn could become Labour leader. Of course, his election has added to worries, because for the first time ever a leader of the main opposition party in Britain is someone who has a long record of supporting the Palestinian struggle.

And so the Zionists and all their allies decided to launch their Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism campaign. Accidentally or not, the current Israeli ambassador to London is a certain Mark Regev, who has consistently justified Israels crimes. Regev is hardly a normal diplomat he is a propagandist by trade. And, of course, the Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism campaign has been taken up by those who have no particular pro-Israel sentiments, but are looking for ways to attack the left of the Labour Party.

So there is now a coalition between, on the one side, people worried about the rise in support for the Palestinian cause and who would like to discredit the Labour left for that reason; and, on the other, people like the vile blogger, Guido Fawkes, whose real name is Paul Staines a rightwinger who would do anything to discredit the Labour left. He is using anti-Semitism smears for opportunistic reasons, not because he really cares one way or the other about Israel/Palestine.

The campaign has been remarkably successful and, of course, the biggest scalp so far is that of former London mayor and former NEC member, Ken Livingstone. What did he say that got him suspended? Hitler came to power in 1932 and supported Zionism until he went mad. Of course, he got the date wrong, Hitler came to power in 1933. It was also wrong to personalise the shift in policy. But the point he was making about the Nazi regime and Zionism is basically correct, as I shall demonstrate.

Dont mention Zionism

How should the left react under such circumstances? A good friend of mine, who is on the left and has been a co-signatory of some of the statements we have been issuing, said to me that maybe we should not talk too much about Zionism, because people do not understand it and can get confused. Maybe we should just concentrate on the actual evils carried out by Israel.

You will not be surprised to learn that this person belongs to that part of the left which is happy to talk about austerity, but does not want to mention capitalism. Everyone understands austerity and it is good to organise demonstrations against it, but capitalism is too much of a political word.

I fail to see how dropping mention of Zionism can work. Even the Zionists acknowledge that it is acceptable to criticise Israeli policy and would not be too concerned if we criticised, say, Israels continuing colonisation building settlements on the West Bank and so on. But I ask a question: why does Israel persist in this? It is a policy which earns it the most criticism in the United States. Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders have criticised it directly and the British governments official policy is that these settlements are illegal they are an obstacle to peace, etc. So why does Israel do it? How can you explain it?

It can be explained by the fact that it isan essential part of Zionist policy. In carrying out this policy Israel is, if you like, following an imperative of Zionism from the very beginning. Once you accept that this is an integral part of Zionism, then you realise it would be strange if Israel didnotattempt to implement it. It is not as if it were a policy specific to the current government of Binyamin Netanyahu. It has been carried out byallIsraeli governments since 1967 and it took place within the former borders the so-called green line before 1967. It has been an ongoing policy of Zionist colonisation from the very beginning.

You cannot explain why Israel is continuing with a policy that is not winning it any friends without mentioning Zionism. On the contrary, I think what we should do is not apologise; instead we should go onto the offensive and be aggressive: directly attack Zionism.

And you can also attack Zionism precisely because of its collusion and collaboration with anti-Semitism, including up to a point with Nazi Germany. We should not respond to the attacks by saying, We are against anti-Semitism, as we are against all racism, which is to accept that anti-Semitism is actually a problem on the left. While, of course, we oppose such racism, the fact is that its proponents within the left and the Labour Party account for a minuscule proportion. We can deal with anti-Semitism if it shows its head, but we should not make gestures as a kind of apology in the face of the current assault. The handful of people on the left who propagate a version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion carry no weight and are without any intellectual foundation.

The Protocols contained claims of both capitalist and working class conspiracy: Jews were overrepresented among capitalists, but they were also overrepresented in the revolutionary movement. The anti-Semitic slogan in revolutionary Russia was: Sugar Brodsky, tea Vissotsky, Russia Trotsky the first two were magnates and all three were Jews. We can deal with similar nonsense on the left in our own time, but not as an apology in response to attacks on the left. On the contrary, we need to go on the counteroffensive.


We should take the side of the Board of Deputies of British Jews not the current one, but the Board of Deputies of 100 years ago! It put out some very pertinent statements about Zionism and its connection with anti-Semitism. When the negotiations on the 1917 Balfour Declaration were taking place, a prominent member of the Board of Deputies, Lucien Wolf, wrote:

I understand that the Zionists do not merely propose to form and establish a Jewish nationality in Palestine, but that they claim all the Jews as forming at the present moment a separate and dispossessed nationality, for which it is necessary to find an organic political centre, because they are and must always be aliens in the lands in which they now dwell, and, more especially, because it is an absolute self-delusion to believe that any Jew can be at once English by nationality and Jewish by faith.

I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies, which has absolutely no justification in history, ethnology or the facts of everyday life, and if they were admitted by the Jewish people as a whole, the result would only be that the terrible situation of our co-religionists in Russia and Romania would become the common lot of Jewry throughout the world.

About the same time, Alexander Montefiore, president of the Board of Deputies, and Claude, his brother, who was president of the closely associated Anglo-Jewish Association, wrote a letter toThe Times. They stated that the establishment of a Jewish nationality in Palestine, founded on the theory of Jewish homelessness, must have the effect throughout the world of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands and of undermining their hard-won positions as citizens and nationals of those lands.

They pointed out that the theories of political Zionism undermined the religious basis of Jewry, to which the only alternative would be a secular Jewish nationality, recruited on some loose and obscure principle of race and of ethnographic peculiarity.

They went on:

But this would not be Jewish in any spiritual sense, and its establishment in Palestine would be a denial of all the ideals and hopes by which the survival of Jewish life in that country commends itself to the Jewish conscience and Jewish sympathy. On these grounds the Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association deprecates earnestly the national proposals of the Zionists.

The second part in the Zionist programme which has aroused the misgivings of the Conjoint Committee is the proposal to invest the Jewish settlers [in Palestine] with certain special rights in excess of those enjoyed by the rest of the population

In all the countries in which Jews live the principle of equal rights for all religious denominations is vital to them. Were they to set an example in Palestine of disregarding this principle, they would convict themselves of having appealed to it for purely selfish motives. In the countries in which they are still struggling for equal rights they would find themselves hopelessly compromised The proposal is the more inadmissible because the Jews are and probably long will remain a minority of the population of Palestine, and might involve them in the bitterest feuds with their neighbours of other races and religions, which would severely retard their progress and find deplorable echoes throughout the orient.

This turned out to be highly prophetic.

Nazi collaboration

Let us turn now to the Zionist-Nazi connection. In fact it sounds more shocking than it is, because we are talking about the early days of the Nazi regime. Today the holocaust is taught in schools, so people may know when the policy of extermination of Jews actually started officially in January 1942, when a Nazi conference was convened in Wannsee under the chairmanship of Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was second in command to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS.

The minutes of this conference are actually online and in them a change in policy towards the Jews, ratified by theFhrer, was declared. Although it is phrased euphemistically, it is clear that what was being talked about was both deportation to the east and extermination.

This change occurred following the attack on the Soviet Union, when the Nazis felt they had to find different ways of dealing with the Jewish problem. Until that time the official policy was for the exclusion of the Jews from political and civic life, for separation and for emigration. Quite naturally the Zionist leadership thought this set of policies was similar to those of other anti-Semitic regimes which it was and the Zionist approach was not peculiar to the Nazi regime. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted torid themof the Jews. That was the common interest.

In 1934 the German rabbi, Joachim Prinz, published a book entitledWir Juden(We, the Jews), in which he welcomed the Nazi regime. That regime wanted to separate Jews from non-Jews and prevent assimilation as did the Zionists. Philip Roths novel,The plot against America, is based on actual people, including Prinz, who emigrated to America and became a leader of the US Jewish community the fact that he was a Zionist is not mentioned.

Anyway, the Zionists made overtures to the Nazi regime, so how did the Nazis respond? Here are two relevant quotations. The first is from the introduction to the Nuremberg laws, the racist legislation introduced in Nazi Germany in 1935. This extract was still present in the 1939 edition, from which I am quoting:

If the Jews had a state of their own, in which the bulk of their people were at home, the Jewish question could already be considered solved today The ardent Zionists of all people have objected least of all to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg laws, because they know that these laws are the only correct solution for the Jewish people too

Heydrich himself wrote the following in an article for the SS house journalDas Schwarze Korpsin September 1935:

National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations.The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the worldand the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Of course, looking back at all this, it seems all the more sinister, since we know that the story ended with the gas chambers a few years later. This overlap is an indictment of Zionism, but the actual collaboration between the two was not such an exceptional thing, when you accept that the Zionists were faced with the reality of an anti-Semitic regime.

By the way, half of what Ken Livingstone said is not very far from the caricature uttered by Netanyahu in 2016 during an address to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. According to Netanyahu, Hitler didnt want to exterminate the Jews until he met the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941. Netanyahu claimed that Al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, If you expel them, theyll all come here.

Of course, the allegation that the idea of extermination originated with the grand mufti has been rejected with contempt by serious historians, but Netanyahu was at least correct in saying that emigration, not extermination, was indeed Nazi policy until the winter of 1941-42.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisationandcollusion with anti-Semitism. Dont apologise for saying this. If you throw the sharks bloodied meat, they will only come back for more. At the moment the left is apologising too much, in the hope that the right will let up. They never will.

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Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism Labour Party …

Tish (Hasidic celebration) – Wikipedia

Posted By on March 27, 2018

A tish (Yiddish: , pl. , tishn, literally, “table”), also spelled tisch, is a gathering of Hasidim around their Rebbe. In Hebrew a Tish is called Hitveadut (). It may consist of speeches on Torah subjects, singing of melodies known as niggunim (singular niggun) and zemirot (“hymns”), with refreshments being served. Hasidim see it as a moment of great holiness. They are public events that are open to non-Hasidim as well.

Within Hasidic Judaism, a tish refers to any joyous public celebration or gathering or meal by Hasidim at a “table” of their Rebbe. Such a gathering is staged around the blessing of Melchitzedek themed “setting of the table” and so is often referred to in Hebrew as Arichat HaShulchan ( ). Bread and wine are essential elements. The term “Shabbos tish” is also sometimes used in Yiddish regarding the Shabbat meal of any Jewish family.

During a tish, the Rebbe sits at the head of the table and the Hasidim gather around the table. In large Hasidic movements, only the Rebbe and his immediate family, plus a few close disciples, partake of the actual meal, but small pieces of bread, fish, meat, poultry, farfel, beans, kugel, or fruit, as well as small cups of kosher wine or other beverages, are distributed to all present as shiyarim (). In such large courts, there are often bleachers, known as parentches ({) in Yiddish, for observers of the tish to stand on. In smaller courts there is usually more food available for observers to partake. Often, in both large and small tishen, the Rebbe will personally distribute shirayim food to individuals. Hasidim believe that the Rebbe will have a personal blessing for each person who partakes of the food he gives them.

In some Hasidic movements, the Rebbe only eats his Shabbat meals at the tish, often waiting many hours until the Hasidim have finished their meals to begin his meal with the recitation of the Kiddush prayer. In other courts, the Rebbe begins his meal at home with his family, and then comes to join the Hasidim in the synagogue to end the meal. In yet other courts, the entire tish is conducted after the meal has been finished at home. In such a case only dessert, usually consisting of kugel and fruit, is served, as well as soft drinks, usually seltzer-water. Such tishes are known as a Peiros Tish ( ) (“Fruit Tish”).

Sometimes, a Hasidic gathering similar to a tish is conducted without the presence of a Rebbe. This is called a botteh () in Yiddish or a Shevet Achim ( ) in Hebrew. It is often led by a Rabbi who is not a Rebbe, such as a Rosh Yeshivah, Mashgiach Ruchani, or a Rebbe’s son. Often, a botteh will be indistinguishable from a Tish, for the respect that many Hasidim have for their Rebbe’s son is often very close to the reverence for the Rebbe himself, as he is the assumed heir to the throne.

A tish takes place at the meals in honor of the Shabbat, Jewish holidays, yahrzeit (“annual memorial”) for previous rebbes of that dynasty, as a seudas hoda’ah (meal of thanksgiving) to God for past salvations (such as escape from prisons or from the Holocaust), or some other seudas mitzvah.

Some Hasidic movements hold a tish every Shabbat; others do so only on Jewish holidays. The time at which a tish can be held also differs. For example, Belzer Hasidim conduct their tish both late Friday night and on Saturday afternoon for Seudah Shlishit, while Gerrer Hasidim only have their tish on Saturday afternoon or early evening for Seudah Shlishit.

A tish is usually also held on minor holidays such as Lag b’Omer, Hanukkah, Purim, Tu Bishvat, on the minor days (Chol Hamoed) of major festivals such as Sukkos and Pesach, and before and after the fast of Yom Kippur.

Hasidim may also visit the tish of another Rebbe, and non-Hasidic Jews often visit a tish also. Non-Jews sometimes visit a tish as well, particularly dignitaries and politicians during a weekday tish such as on Chol HaMoed.

The nature of the tish differs from group to group but during the tish, the Hasidim intently and silently watch the rebbe eating the meal and are extremely eager to receive shirayim (“leftovers”), cooked alongside the Rebbe’s courses, believing it to be a great merit (zechus) to eat something from the leftovers of a tzadik’s meal. Many Hasidim claim that miracles can take place in merit of partaking of the shirayim, such as miraculous healing or blessings of wealth or piety.

Hasidic songs, or niggunim (), are sung with great gusto. The songs may at times be either joyous or solemnly meditative. The rebbe may teach words of Torah, often mystical passages from the Midrash, Zohar, and the Kabbalah during the tish. He may also tell Hasidic stories, parables, and history. He may also give religious commentary on current events and politics.

Women do not sit with the men (because some communities of Orthodox Jews, especially Hasidim, are very strict about the separation of the sexes) but they are often present to observe the tish from the ezras noshim (“women’s section”) in the main synagogue or hall where it is taking place. The women present do not sing aloud and they generally do not receive the shirayim, although sometimes they do.

A tish can vary in size from a handful to thousands of people. Large tishen are usually held in special rooms in the main building of a Hasidic movement. Sometimes they are held in the main synagogue. Around the holidays, when thousands of Hasidim who live in other cities or countries come to pray and visit with their Rebbe joining the Hasidim who live near the Rebbe and things can get very crowded, they are sometimes held in a large temporary structure. Small tishen are often conducted in private homes, particularly when a Hasidic Rebbe is visiting another community. These events are usually open to the public.

Among Lubavitcher Hasidim, a gathering known as a Farbrengen (, Yiddish for “gathering”) is celebrated, similar to a tish. A Farbrengen may be conducted with or without the presence of a Rebbe, and even with the presence of only a few Hasidim. At a Farbrengen, zemiros are generally not sung (with the exception of the zemiros of the Arizal for each Sabbath meal), but rather only niggunim.

A large number of videos of tishen can be found on Google Videos.

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Tish (Hasidic celebration) – Wikipedia

Hasidic Jews cheer as they cover up TV screen showing in …

Posted By on March 27, 2018

A group of Hasidic Jews cheered as one of their group covered up a screen showing ‘Music and Lyrics’ onboard a flight.

The bizarre video appears to show the group, in traditional dress, arguing with a man who does not appear to be Jewish, on board a flight.

One large screen is showing the 2007 Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore film ‘Music and Lyrics’, but it seems the group were not pleased with the film choice.

After a back-and-forth with one other passenger, one of the group steps forward and uses a black cloth to cover the screen, and is met with cheers of support.

At the end, blankets can be seen hanging from the ceiling, indicating other screens have been covered through the cabin.

The video, shot on a mobile phone, emerged through The Yeshiva World , but there is speculation about whether it was a private jet or a commercial flight.

It isn’t clear where the flight was going from or to, or when the video was taken. One person suggested it had been chartered privately to take the group on a pilgrimage, but one person in the clip doesn’t appear to be a Hasidic Jew .

The clip has sparked a debate online, with some taking the side of the Jewish group but others angry that they chose to cover up the screen without considering if someone wanted to watch the film.

Many have just agreed that no one would want to watch Music and Lyrics.

One person asked: “I dont think there is anything wrong with what they did. It very clearly seems to be a chartered flight, and as long as it isnt affecting other potential viewers, why shouldnt they be able to cover it?”

Another said: “I support the religious freedom of people up and until it infringes on the freedom of others.”

On Facebook, one questioned: “Was the movie that bad? They obviously covered it half way through.”

One person simply said: “I wish someone would cover my screen when I fly.”

Some strict followers of Judaism will choose not to watch films, because it is seen as a waste of several hours, and because of the risk of unsuitable content.

Music and Lyrics is a 2007 film with Hugh Grant and Ms Barrymore, which received mixed reviews, and has 6.5 out of 10 on IMDB.

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Hasidic Jews cheer as they cover up TV screen showing in …

Jobs Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to …

Posted By on March 26, 2018

The Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New Yorks contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. As a place of memory, the Museum enables Holocaust survivors to speak through recorded testimony and draws on rich collections to illuminate Jewish history and experience. As a public history institution, it offers intellectually rigorous and engaging exhibitions, programs, and educational resources. The Museum mobilizes memory to teach the dangers of intolerance and challenges visitorsincluding more than 50,000 schoolchildren a yearto let the painful lessons of the past guide them to envision a world worthy of their futures.

The Museum employs a staff of talented, creative, results-oriented professionals, working in a spectacular setting in Lower Manhattan and committed to the vital mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust.

To learn about how you can join us, please review the opportunities below. The Museum is an equal opportunity employer, and we welcome applications from people of all backgrounds. Send a resum and letter of interest, including salary requirements, to

The Museum also offers opportunities to volunteer. To skip to volunteer positions, click here.

Current Openings Careers

Senior Manager for Security

The Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is looking to hire a Senior Manager for Security. Under general direction s/he will:

This position reports to the Vice President for Operations.



Any combination of education and experience which establishes the required skills and knowledge for successful performance in this position would be qualifying. Typical qualifications would include masters-degree-level coursework in business administration, criminal justice, law enforcement, security and/or a closely related field; experience performing supervisory responsibilities or highly responsible work relating to tasks assigned to this position, and/or military experience.

Must be able to work Sunday through Thursday, 10 AM to 6 PM, evenings as needed.

Knowledge: Principles and practices of security management, including business management practices, personnel practices, administrative practices, security preventative practices, investigatory practices, and related legal responsibilities. Principles and practices of supervision, including assigning, evaluating and modifying work; functions and processes of carrying out programs; and content and formatting of reports.

Skill: Interpersonal communication, verbally and in writing, with a diverse range of people, including the proper handling of emotional situations and needs; effectively using time and resources to accomplish security program operations; supervising others and maintaining effective holistic relationships with those encountered in the course of work; analyzing and independently solving a variety of difficult situations and problems; assessing operational, program, staffing and fiscal needs; identifying and resolving administrative problems; working long irregular hours under pressure; and delegating responsibility and achieving results through subordinates and/or contract personnel.

Licenses: Fire Safety Director, Emergency Action Plan Director.

Send resume and letter of interest, including salary requirements, to Human Resources, Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280; fax: (646) 437-4250; email:

Director of Leadership Giving

This new role requires a dynamic and experienced fundraiser to assume responsibility for growing the Museums active donor pipeline at the $25,000 to $100,000 level. The Director of Leadership Giving will identify, cultivate, solicit, and manage a portfolio of 150+, including current and lapsed Museum donors. The position will be accountable for quantifiable and agreed-upon fundraising goals. Knowledge of the Jewish philanthropic world, and understanding of and commitment to the Museums mission, are key to the candidates success.


To Apply:Send resume and letter of interest, including salary requirements, to:humanresources@mjhnyc.orgor Human Resources, Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280; fax: 646.437.4250

Museum Educator Groups and Speakers Bureau

The Museum is looking to hire a Museum Educator to help with group entry and the Speakers Bureau.



To Apply:Send resume and letter of interest, including salary requirements, to:humanresources@mjhnyc.orgor Human Resources, Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280; fax: 646.437.4250

Museum Educator Jewish Schools

The Museum is looking for a Museum Educator who, under the supervision of the Assistant Director of Education, conducts workshops at the Museum for Jewish school students, conducts outreach to Jewish schools, and others is engaged in Education Department programs.



To Apply:Send resume and letter of interest, including salary requirements, to: or Human Resources, Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280; fax: 646.437.4250

Software Engineer/Developer

This position is with JewishGen, an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

JewishGen is committed to ensuring Jewish continuity for present and future generations. Their free, easy to use website features thousands of databases, research tools, and other resources to help those with Jewish ancestry research, and find family members. The mission is simple: to preserve the collective Jewish family history and heritage, for future generations. They accomplish this by obtaining records, information, and tools that will be valuable for Jewish ancestral research, maintaining an online community for family researchers to connect with relatives, and like minded individuals, and ensuring the JewishGen website continues to offer its resources in an engaging, dynamic, intuitive and easily searchable format.

JewishGens software engineers/developers are critical to their mission, as they develop and maintain the dynamic website which is utilized by hundreds of thousands of people.

Currently they are looking for a passionate Software Developer/Engineer to play a key role in their ongoing efforts to modernize JewishGens technology infrastructure. This includes updating and expanding existing software packages, systems integration and the migration of data to a new IT platform.

At the same time, they also are looking to develop new products, improve the delivery of services to our user community and achieve new efficiencies in all aspects of their work.



Current Openings Volunteer PositionsThe Museum of Jewish Heritage is able to fulfill its mission with the help of outstanding volunteers. If you are interested in any of the volunteer opportunities belowwith the exception of the Speakers Bureauplease fill out a volunteer application or contact To inquire about volunteering for the Speakers Bureau, please follow the specific instructions in that listing.

Gallery Educators

The Museum of Jewish Heritage offers tours six days a week to groups of students, adults, and families. These tours are led by dedicated volunteers who enthusiastically share their knowledge of Jewish history and heritage. Volunteer gallery educators engage diverse adults and students in interactive dialogue and provide meaningful educational experiences. People of all faiths, backgrounds, and ages are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by Monday, April 30 for the class that will begin in September 2018.

Requirements: Once chosen for the program, candidates attend a 12-week course of study followed by an 8-week, in-gallery practice course. Candidates should have an interest in learning how to teach using artifacts and the ability to stand for two hours while leading visitors through the galleries.

Time commitment: Gallery Educators give tours during a four-hour-shift once a week. Each month they must commit to one four-hour shift on a Sunday. Alternate times for weekly shifts are available on an as-needed basis.

Public Program Docents

Volunteers are responsible for welcoming audiences to the Museums theater, escorting visitors to their seats, providing information about public programs and the Museum, and offering any assistance necessary for a pleasant visitor experience.

Requirements: Strong interpersonal skills, friendly and respectful demeanor, and customer service orientation.

Time Commitment: Volunteers are asked to commit to one three-to-four-hour shift per week. One brief training session is required.

Pickman Museum Shop Assistants

Volunteers assist in the day-to-day operations of the shop as well as support visual merchandising, marketing, and special events. Volunteers are needed Sunday through Thursday, including Wednesday evenings.

Requirements: Strong interpersonal skills and customer service orientation. Retail experience a plus.

Time Commitment: One four-hour shift per week.

Administrative Volunteers

Administrative volunteers assist the Museum of Jewish Heritage with the behind-the-scenes work required for the Museum office to run smoothly and support of the crucial mission of representing Jewish life and history before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Requirements: Varies by department.

Time commitment: At least once a week during office hours.

Speakers Bureau

The Museum of Jewish Heritage sends Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, and children of survivors who volunteer for the Speakers Bureau to address a variety of groups, ranging from schools and synagogues to nursing homes and community organizations. Speakers meet thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds and introduce them to the importance of history, memory, and hope. This program is one of the most important outreach activities conducted by the Museum and is extremely effective in generating awareness of the Museum and its Holocaust education mission.

To learn more about the Speakers Bureau, click here. To inquire about volunteering for the Speakers Bureau, contact Elizabeth Edelstein or 646.437.4274.

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Jobs Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to …

Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Leader of Large Hasidic Sect, Dies …

Posted By on March 17, 2018

Like most Hasidim, he believed Israel should have never been created as a state until the arrival of the Messiah. Nevertheless, he recognized that the state was a practical reality and honored those ultra-Orthodox legislators who took part in the Israeli government.

That stance often put him at odds with the Satmar Hasidim, Americas largest and arguably most austere sect and the dominant one in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Viznitz also have a significant presence.

Rabbi Hager did not let himself be bullied by Satmars power. When a Satmar grand rabbi wanted to stretch the length of the Sabbath day as a mark of extra piety, Rabbi Hager refused to go along, indicating that he wanted to be faithful to the traditions of his ancestors.

And he opposed the public school district that was created for disabled students in the upstate Satmar village of Kiryas Joel; he said he was not pleased that the school, because it was public, would not be able to teach its students to say Jewish blessings or explain the concept of a Jewish god.

More recently he was not happy that Orthodox Jews who do not send their children to public school nevertheless dominated the board of the public school district of East Ramapo, N.Y., which embraces Kaser. He viewed the situation as unnecessarily provocative.

He spoke his mind, said Mr. Rapaport, himself a Viznitz Hassid. He did not believe in public confrontation with the secular world. He believed in quiet diplomacy, and if it doesnt work, it doesnt work.

More than anything, Rabbi Hagers Hasidim venerated him for his deep knowledge of the Talmud. He was said to study its volumes and commentaries 18 hours a day, and when diabetes left him blind about 10 years ago, he had teams of volunteers read the rabbinical legal debates to him.

Mordechai Hager was born on July 20, 1922, in Oradea, Romania, known among Yiddish speakers as Grosswardein. His father, Chaim Meir Hager, was the fourth grand rabbi of Vyzhnytsia (Viznitz in Yiddish), the village in the Carpathian foothills in what is today western Ukraine; the village had been the seat of this Hasidic dynasty since its beginnings in the mid-19th century.

During World War I, Russian soldiers wantonly murdered many of Viznitzs Jews, forcing the dynasty to shift its base to Grosswardein, in a region that vacillated between Hungary and Romania. The mother of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize-winning author and teacher, and his grandfather were Viznitz Hasidim, and Mr. Wiesel, though he was not Hasidic, had a deep knowledge of Viznitz melodies.

At an early age, Rabbi Hager displayed maverick traits. Grosswardein did not have a Hasidic yeshiva, and young Mordechai, feeling isolated from schoolmates, ran away to the Hungarian village Satu Mare to study in a yeshiva operated by the Satmar (Satu Mare in Yiddish) dynasty.

When, during World War II, the Germans occupied Hungary Grosswardein was now within its borders the Hager family made its way to Bucharest, Romanias capital, with the help of a Hasidic smuggling network. Bucharest had become a kind of Hasidic Casablanca, with desperate refugees, including the grand rabbis of Skver and Bobov, seeking documents that could take them to the United States or Palestine.

In Bucharest, Rabbi Hager married Feige Malka Twersky, the daughter of the grand rabbi of Skver, whose followers are now clustered in New Square in Rockland County. She died of an infection a few months later, and Rabbi Hager married her sister Sima Mirel.

The couple had eight sons and six daughters. Rabbi Hagers wife died a decade ago. The eldest son, Pinchas Sholom, died in 2015.

The seven surviving sons, each of whom heads a Viznitz congregation in either London, Montreal, Israel, New York City or Kiamesha Lake, N.Y., are Yisroel, Mendel, Yitzchok Yochonon, Aron, Dovid, Eliezer, and Boruch.

The daughters, each of whom is married to a rabbi with distinguished Hasidic pedigree, are Tziporah, Malka Chana, Hinda, Chava Reizel, Golda and Bracha. Rabbi Hager also leaves a sister in Israel, Tziporah Friedman.

His older brother, Moshe, received a certificate to immigrate to British-controlled Palestine. In 1972 he became the head of the other major Viznitz community, centered in the town of Bnei Brak. He died in 2012.

Rabbi Hager could not get a visa to Palestine, but he and his father-in-law were able to immigrate to the United States in 1948.

Rabbi Hager settled in Williamsburg and became the head of the cavernous Viznitz synagogue at 6 Lee Avenue.

With the advent of the 1960s, Rabbi Hager was concerned that the society around him was becoming too free and less modest in dress and behavior. He decided to settle his tribe in the hamlet of Monsey in the town of Ramapo, where Orthodox families were already living and where there was a ready infrastructure of yeshivas, kosher stores and ritual baths.

The Hasidim needed expansive houses and apartments for their large families, but Ramapo zoning laws discouraged such building. Viznitz leaders decided in 1990 to carve out their own village, just as Satmar had done in Kiryas Joel in Orange County and the Skver Hasidim had done in nearby New Square.

The village name, Kaser, is the Hebrew word for crown when spoken with a Yiddish inflection. It became an independent municipality in 1990. With 5,300 residents squeezed into one-tenth of a square mile, it is considered the most densely populated in the state, and the fifth most densely populated in the nation.

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Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Leader of Large Hasidic Sect, Dies …

Are Jews the modern-day Pharisees(Talmud was written by …

Posted By on March 16, 2018

“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world only to serve the People of Israel.

In Israel, death has no dominion over them With gentiles, it will be like any person they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that ones donkey would die, theyd lose their money.

This is his servant Thats why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.

Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat That is why gentiles were created.

Weekly Saturday night sermon in October 2010


One answerer —-Antisemites on this forum think that if they quote one Jew that it represents what other Jews believe.

—— REPLY —If Ovadia Yosef who made that speech against gentiles is given the LARGEST STATE HONORED FUNERAL IN ALL OF ISRAELIS HISTORY, that means all Jews given him that honor endorse that Rabbi’s views


The American Jewish Committee condemned Yosef’s remarks —- Yeah Despite that Israel went ahead and gave him the LARGEST STATE HONORED FUNERAL IN ALL OF ISRAELIS HISTORY… Goes on to show that Israel itself is a RACIST COUNTRY


His old age CANNOT be an excuse for outrageous remarks. If the Rabbi is healthy enough to make a sermon inside a synagogue and tons of jews listen to him, he is surely of sound mind. It is ridiculous to see some anti Christian jews in R&S trying to defend that indefensible creature


Hurricane Katrina as divine punishment for godlessness and American support for the disengagement from Gaza:

There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isnt enough Torah study Black people reside there [New Orleans]. Blacks will study the Torah? [God said] lets bring a tsunami and drown them.

Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God.

Bush was behind Gush Katif [the Gaza settlement bloc]. He encouraged Sharon to expel Gush Katif We had 15,000 people expelled here, and there 150,000. It was Gods retribution God does not short-change anyone.

Weekly Saturday night sermon in July 2005

4) On making peace with Arabs:

How can you make peace with a snake?

Those evildoers, the Arabs it says in the Gemara [Talmud] that God is sorry he ever created those sons of Ishmael.

Weekly Saturday night sermon in August 2000

5) On Muslims:

Theyre stupid. Their religion is as ugly as they are.

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Are Jews the modern-day Pharisees(Talmud was written by …

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