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Synagogues exit pandemic with reflection, determination and hope for the future – Ynetnews

Posted By on September 29, 2022

The COVID pandemic is over, at least according to U.S. President Joe Biden in his recent declaration. But the past two and a half years have been a time of personal and professional struggle for many, including synagogues where those two worlds more often than not collide.

Synagogues, like other centers for communal gathering, found themselves closed and later severely restricted by measures taken to counter the spread of COVID-19 after the outbreak began in early 2020. Working to ensure their communities were safe and supported has proven a challenge for religious leaders all over the world.

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Jewish ceremonies via zoom, 2021

(Photo: Andrew Lichenstein, Corbis by getty images)

So how did these houses of worship for many the center of rites of passage, communal life and comfort in dark days fare when forced to consider huge compromises to keep serving their community or even shutting their doors altogether? How do they feel now, when life is finally returning to a form of normal, even if it is a new normal, on the eve of a New Year in the Jewish calendar?

Its been an enormous challenge holding the community together during the pandemic when everything is about isolation and separation. The whole role of synagogues is to hold community together, says Rabbi Michael Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon.

And it was a problem that was not unique to American congregations. Faced with the prospect of closed synagogues, fragmented congregations, and lonely congregants, rabbis, and other clergy swung into action to keep their communities together on holy days and regular ones.

The first word that comes to mind is challenging, claimed Rabbi Joseph Dweck of the Bevis Marks Orthodox Sephardi synagogue in London. Its been very difficult because we went through a period of two years in which the community and congregation simply could not come together physically.

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Rabbi Joseph Dweck of Bevis Marks synagogue in London delivering a lesson via Zoom, June 9, 2020

(Photo: Screenshot, The Media Line)

Creativity immediately came into play, with rabbis adapting traditional prayers and services for members who were no longer able to share the same space. In a nutshell, thank God for Zoom.

We had to adjust tremendously, and we reached out and maintained connections and cohesion with the community and that entailed everything from doing shopping, making phone calls to members, making sure that they were okay, Rabbi Dweck recalls. We did programming for our members so that there was a whole bunch of things that we do on Zoom.

We really had to be able to innovate and to anticipate how we hold the community and support the community in this very difficult time, he says.

Keeping a sense of community was also vital to Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe of the Orthodox Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City.

We in our shul [synagogue] really shifted fast, she said. We had many Zoom things [and] we offered meals and we ordered and delivered communally hundreds and hundreds of Pesach [Passover] meals.

Unlike their Orthodox counterparts who cannot use technology on the sabbath and holy days, Zoom was a useful tool for Reform and Conservative synagogues.

We closed the doors but we didnt miss any services, Rabbi Jason Rosner of Reform synagogue Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock in Los Angeles recalls of the first year of the pandemic.

When we closed, that weekend we were on Zoom. I edited together a customized siddur [prayer book] just for our community that was usable for Zoom. We changed the service to reflect a service that you would do on your own, he says.

For Rabbi Cahana, it meant adapting technology that was already in use on a regular basis.

We created lots of new programming that was really responsive to the needs of that time and how to directly communicate and have the kind of more intimate experience, he says.

One of the things that we found was that although weve been streaming for a long time, Zoom really allowed us to be much more intimate than we normally are; we moved our streaming into our homes so we were streaming from our living room into your living room and it created a very intimate feeling that we got a very, very positive response from.

With no Zoom option, Orthodox synagogues found other ways to balance COVID regulations and worship.

The nature of Orthodox shuls is that were not doing Zoom, so theres an upside and downside to that, says Rabbi Hyim Shafner of Kesher Israel synagogue in Georgetown, Washington.

The upside is you dont get wedded to Zoom and coming back in person is easier; the downside is that we couldnt use Zoom during COVID and so it was a little bit harder to really retain cohesion, he says.

With the Yamim Noraim [High Holy Days], we did things that we have genuinely never done before, because we had to keep a great deal of social distancing, and even with the social distancing we could not spend a good amount of time in the same space, says Rabbi Dweck.

I had to edit the prayer services, so I had to decide what was essential prayer and what was added prayer and to remove aspects of the service that would make the service longer and we had to innovate in terms of what we did, he shared.

We did a service of family bubbles; families could come with their children and sit all together but distanced from another family, he says. We did that for two years in various ways.

We had to be creative, Rabbi Shafner also says of keeping the sense of a communal celebration during restrictions.

We had shofar blowing in the national park thats about one block from the shul. That first year we had 100 people that came to the park for the shofar blowing for Rosh Hashanah.

At Shavuot instead of indoor learning at night, we used three peoples backyards, he says. We moved classes from one place to another, so people were learning all night but it was in the backyards outside.

Rabbanit Bracha says some of the changes they made for the first Rosh Hashanah lasted as time went on, and extended to every event in the Jewish calendar.

When people were alone for Pesach we buddied people up, we had teshuvot [rabbinical decisions] about being able to turn on your Zoom before chag [the holiday] so that you could Zoom in with your family if you didnt actually touch the computer if you had to, she says.

We had all sorts of things to do to make your Shabbat meaningful, spiritual, and feel less lonely, she says. So we actually offered a lot of ways for people to feel connected [despite] not coming to shul.

In that first Rosh Hashanah of uncertainty and isolation, Rabbi Cahana truly endeavored to make his Portland congregants still feel part of their community as they were forced to mark the festival at home.

We actually filmed the entire [Rosh Hashanah] service separately, he explained. It was a very complicated and strange experience because we were filming in the middle of the summer. We had a professional crew come in and do it, but we filmed everything out of order because we wanted to minimize the amount of time that people were together.

We spread the choir out throughout our sanctuary seating area so that they were far apart and then filmed all of the things that they were doing and filmed all of the things with our volunteer choir separately and then the clergy leading different parts of the services.

It was filmed like a movie and it was all edited together and the whole thing was filmed so that the experience of the people when we sent it out live for the people who were experiencing it, it was seamless.

To Rabbi Rosner, the key was making people feel that although some things had changed, it was still the same faith and same customs.

I think what we did to make people embrace [the COVID-induced changes] was that we really pivoted hard into different kinds of Jewish rituals that could be done without necessarily gathering in person, he says.

We attempted to do things that were similar, like a shofar wave where people blew the shofar across the city at the same time, he says. For Passover, we had a Seder on Zoom. It was crazy because it didnt sync up perfectly, but people really appreciated having that. We did High Holidays on Zoom as well and I read Torah on my inherited grandparents dining room table, which was quite touching.

The rabbi also leaned into the energy and youth of his congregation.

We really moved quickly to restructure our programming, rather than trying to force a square peg into a round hole, he says.

There was the sense that the people re-appropriated a lot of the home-based Judaism, the personal kind of hands-on stuff that had fallen by the wayside, the rabbi recalls.

A lot more people built a sukkah in their yard during the pandemic that had not done so before. We want to do hands-on stuff, so the idea of building a little backyard booth was very appealing. People used tools and they could collect their own schach [material for the roof of a sukkah] and so that was very fun for people.

Adapting familiar events to an unfamiliar situation was something that Rabbi Cahana also encountered.

Bnei mitzvah [bar and bat mitzvah service] was an interesting experience at the beginning of the pandemic, he says. We wound up bringing a Torah scroll to peoples homes and they would have the service in their home with the technology, and we would be in our home leading services and someone else would have an aliyah [call to read from the Torah] from their home so it was a kind of wild experience. But actually, kind of wonderful, people really enjoyed having that experience. Very different simchas [celebrations] but still it was something that was very unique and special.

Rabbanit Bracha recalls that at times her own home life took second place to the needs of her community, but, she says, that was her role.

I dont want to make it about me, its not about me but its about us as clergy who were there for other people, she says.

After more than two years of improvisation and adjustment, many now have what Rabbanit Bracha calls COVID keepers a phrase she adopted from a member of her congregation to refer to habits that were acquired during the pandemic that were worth maintaining.

I think its a beautiful term because its things that happened to us during COVID that we actually do want to keep, like having a Zoom for a funeral or for shiva or for smachot [festive occasions], she says.

For Rabbi Dweck of London, that means expanding his educational efforts well past the borders of his community, city, and even country.

Before COVID I wanted to do my classes on Zoom and it really didnt fly very well because people didnt know how to do it! he says.

And now because its the same thing as just getting on a phone call for most people, I started an entire learning platform called the chavurah [a small group gathering for Jewish learning or prayer] that basically has teachers from around the world and students from around the world studying the classical Sephardi approach to Judaism and Torah.

We have at this point almost 400 paid members in 20 countries around the world and the average subscriber is 25 years old. That would not have happened if it were not for COVID, he says.

Rabbi Cahana also sees the value in his synagogue continuing its emphasis on technology as an outreach tool.

Weve been streaming for years but it was in many ways an afterthought, he says. Weve now invested a lot in upping the technology and making it a more engaging experience. Because there are going to be people for whom its going to be a long time before they are comfortable being in large crowds and there are people for whom the accessibility issues are going to remain.

Rabbi Shafner says that his synagogue has adapted a Tisha bAv tradition to allow members of the congregation to take a more active role.

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Rabbi Hyim Shafner of Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, delivering a weekly sermon via video, July 17, 2020

(Photo: Screenshot, The Media Line)

The first Tisha bAv we did on Zoom because Tisha bAv was one of the few days we could do on Zoom, he says.

I had different people in the congregation take one kina [elegy] and read it through and do a two-to-five-minute reflection, explaining this kina, this set prayer that we say on Tisha bAv or reflecting on a personal aim, he says.

It was the longest kinot we ever did, it was the best kinot we ever did because it wasnt just me saying a few words about a kina and then everybody saying it; it was people from the congregation sharing their thoughts and reflections.

This year, kinot were once again read inside the Georgetown synagogue, but we had members of the congregation, both men and women come up to the bimah before each kina and give their own personal reflection about it. And it was just wonderful.

Rabbanit Bracha also found her congregation stepping up to take a bigger role in services.

We tapped into people who never had led services before or blown the shofar before in shul, she said. And we just said whoever is willing to step up, we will be happy to have you because we have so many minyanim [public prayer services, to accommodate social distancing]. It was in many ways very beautiful because so many people wanted to have some sort of davening experience.

Lockdowns and limited gatherings have also taken their toll on most synagogues, with clergy facing the prospect of diminished attendance as life returns to a routine of unrestricted movement.

Ive spoken with many Jewish leaders and Jewish communities we still for the most part are struggling to meet the numbers we had before COVID, admits Rabbi Dweck. Its getting better, but its not where it was. So that is concerning.

Even so, he asserts, for many, the synagogue was a comfort throughout the pandemic.

One person said outright to me that in all the craziness and change thats going on, the synagogue is the one place thats stayed the same, he says.

And now that the High Holidays are upon them again, few are looking backward to the frustrations and fears of the recent past and are eager to welcome their congregations back with open arms and packed pews.

I firmly believe that people need connections, and human beings need to see other human beings in person, says Rabbi Dweck.

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Rabbi Jason Rosner of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock in Los Angeles giving a teaching about Passover from his kitchen, April 6, 2020

(Photo: Screenshot, The Media Line)

Rabbi Rosner agrees with the belief that humans need social interaction with other humans.

We try to encourage people to come back in person as much as possible, he says. We will be doing a livestream for the High Holidays this year but its really anathema to me personally. I really hate the idea that we would lose the in-person part, which is the preserver of our communities for as long as weve had them.

This year, Rabbi Shafners Georgetown congregation has a choice of Rosh Hashanah services with COVID health measures in place, but few people are taking advantage.

The shul is holding a mask optional service, but in another room in the synagogue we are going to do a mask-only service for the 20 or 30 people who really want that, he says.

Even without all the established history and long-standing congregation of other many synagogues, Rabbi Elie Abadi of Dubai is looking forward to the coming year, as his community also celebrates two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.

Its really very heartening to see that the community has grown, has matured, has diversified, and has given service not just to the Jews who live here but to Jewish tourists who are coming from all over the world to be part of it, he said.

We are looking forward to more growth in the future years to provide more services to the Jewish community, he says. May this year indeed bring peace, tranquility, an embrace between peoples and between nations, and may we not see any more war.

For Rabbi Cahana, the move out of the pandemic means a time to look back and take stock of the experience that the entire world has been through.

What Im looking forward to is understanding how were different, he says. He relates that both he and a cleric from the local Episcopal church discovered that their respective records from 1918 barely mentioned the Spanish flu outbreak.

The overall effect was that they didnt want to remember, they wanted to move past it and I dont want that to be the case. I dont want it to be that we try to pretend that the pandemic didnt happen, he says.

I think weve learned a lot about how important community really is and its easy to take it for granted. I think there are lessons like that that we really have to pay more attention to and its going to take us a while to figure out. I want to keep that present and not just say Oh now everything is back to the way it was. Because its not. Were changed and I want to learn how.

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Synagogues exit pandemic with reflection, determination and hope for the future - Ynetnews

For the Sin We Have Sinned by Making People Feel Unwelcome at Synagogues – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on September 29, 2022

Jeff Rubin

By Jeff Rubin

I have been shocked lately by the number of my friends who have left synagogues because of a pattern of unkind remarks from rabbinic and volunteer leaders. A Jew-by-choice belittled. A twenty-something shamed. A professional demeaned.

Jewish Twitter is full of accounts by Jews by choice or Jews of color who have been challenged, patronized or othered when they show up in Jewish spaces. Essayists lament that too many synagogues dont seem welcoming or sensitive to single parents or dont accommodate people with disabilities.Saying and doing hurtful things is not just ethically wrong, its destructive to organizations and has no place in the sacred communities that congregations strive to be.

As any marketer will tell you, it is far cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one and synagogues cant afford to alienate a single congregant. With the ranks of the unaffiliated growing, according to Pews 2020 study, synagogue leaders need to watch what they say to keep, welcome and attract members.

The Pew study revealed that 7% of American Jews do not attend synagogue regularly because they dont feel welcome while another 4% say people treat me like I dont really belong. During my dozen years as a Hillel professional we invested heavily in training staff to create environments that welcomed and engaged Jewish students of all backgrounds, regardless of how they looked, loved or worshiped. My first encounter with Hillel when I was just a high school senior ended poorly: Visiting Boston Universitys Hillel, I was so put off by a comment that I didnt apply to the school.

Of course, this is a problem as old as Judaism itself.

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read the story of Hannah, the distraught woman who came to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to pray for a cure for infertility. Eli the Priest, seeing her pray silently heretofore an unknown practice accused her of being drunk. The priest said to her, How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Sober up!Hannah replied, Oh no, my lord! I am a very unhappy woman. I have drunk no wine or other strong drink I have only been speaking all this time out of my great anguish and distress.

Then go in peace, said Eli, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.

What if Hannah couldnt muster the strength to defend herself and simply walked out of the Tabernacle and out of Judaism? What if Eli did not have the compassion to correct himself? Would Hannahs son, Samuel, have been raised to become a Jewish leader recognized by the three Biblical faiths as a prophet? How would Elis thoughtless remark have changed history?

The rabbis recognized the toxicity of insults and cited such remarks as a transgression in one of the oldest elements of the Yom Kippur service, the confessional, or Vidui. During the Vidui, worshippers strike their breasts and acknowledge that they have smeared others, dibarnu dofi. Medieval commentator Rashi said the word dofi means slander and that it derives from casting off as if by definition defamation leads to alienation. One prayerbook perceptively renders the phrase as, We have destroyed a reputation, a relationship, a communal bond.

Jewish literature is full of guides to proper communication and avoiding evil speech, or lashon hara from the Psalmists admonition, Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully, to the Talmudic Let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your own, to Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagans masterwork, the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, to Rabbi Joseph Telushkins excellent book, Words that Hurt, Words that Heal.But how do congregations turn wise words into action?

Linda Rich, a New York-based leadership coach who counsels synagogues and nonprofits, regards respectful communication as a core behavior for a successful congregation, and a congregation that lives the Jewish values it espouses. Discussion and disagreement are the signs of a healthy group, but in the Jewish context they should be civil and lshem shamayin, for the advancement of sacred work, not for other motives.

She recommends that volunteers and staff study the principles that are fundamental to Jewish life, and sign a covenant to uphold them. When individuals fail to do so they should be reminded politely, clearly and directly that they are a valued member of the congregation, but this behavior is unacceptable. Try to be positive: Point out that they can be even more effective leaders if they watch what they say and adjust their approach. The congregation should sponsor periodic surveys or other forms of evaluation to determine how well the group is fulfilling its duties and covenants.

On Yom Kippur, we reflect on our personal shortcomings, but we atone as a group. We do not seek forgiveness for the sin that I have committed through my words, but for the sin that we have committed through our words. Our individual words have collective impact. The High Holidays provide a golden opportunity to rethink how those words affect others and to take steps to change as individuals and congregations. JE

Jeff Rubin is a writer in the Baltimore-Washington area.

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For the Sin We Have Sinned by Making People Feel Unwelcome at Synagogues - Jewish Exponent

The tragedy of Jews who can’t stand with Israel – JNS.org

Posted By on September 29, 2022

(September 29, 2022 / JNS) We stand with Israel.

That is the sign in front of my Conservative synagogue and many other synagogues. What could be less controversial? What could be more fundamental to Jewish identity?

Alas, at too many synagogues, standing with Israel is too much for some. On Rosh Hashanah, my rabbi felt compelled to defend the sign after a congregant complained. He later admitted to me that hes not sure such a sign could be put up in the Bay Area where he previously lived.

Even worse, the problem is no longer surprising.

A year ago, while thousands of Hamas rockets were bombarding Israel, dozens of American non-Orthodox rabbinical students signed a letter criticizing Israels response to the attacks. It could have been written by the PLO. For example, it omitted any mention of Hamas or Israeli civilians.

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Its hard to know whether the letter was a result of the quality of the education the students received or just appalling ignorance. The signatories claim, for example, that Israel is engaged in racist violence and their comparison of it to Afrikaner South Africa raise the question of whether they ever read a dictionary.

The letter spoke of a spiritual crisis. Clearly, the students are in the midst of one. Indeed, it appears that they would rather see Israel destroyed than defend itself, because its enemies might be injured. Perhaps the students were depressed by their inability to remake Israel in their image. But the most depressing thing is that these morally conflicted people, with so little compassion or understanding of Israelis, will be future teachers and leaders of Jewish congregations. Together with Israels non-Jewish detractors, they will seek to erode the relationship between Jews and their homeland, and between the United States and its ally.

Its possible that I am naive. Sitting in my synagogue, I thought, In our polarized nation, is there nothing we can all agree on? I looked around at the packed sanctuary with some optimism as Democrats, Republicans and independents, liberals and conservatives, supporters of J Street and AIPAC, more and less observant sat together in harmony. On this one day, at least, we truly were one. We were joined in peoplehood and praying in a common languagethe vernacular of the only Jewish state.

Was it impossible for these people to agree that we stand with Israel, the birthplace of our faith and the homeland of our people?

Our rabbi acknowledged that Israel is flawed. It would be easy to enumerate its imperfections. But what about our nation? The U.S. has not solved its problems in 246 years. Yet some Jews expect Israel, which unlike the U.S. is surrounded by people who wish to destroy it, to create a utopia in less than 75.

I thought back to the Cold War and it occurred to me that people under 40 probably dont remember the Berlin Wall. While the Wall stood, there were fools, many teaching in universitiesand some still doing sowho lauded the virtues of communism. The communism that was so wonderful a wall had to be built to keep people from escaping it. It was hard to find anyone tunneling under the wall to get into East Germany.

I realized that this is analogous to Israel. For all its faults, there is no mass exodus from the Jewish state. On the contrary, people are clamoring to get in. If you believe the student rabbis, the U.N. Human Rights Council and other detractors, Israel is the worst country in the world. Yet thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war and Russian domination are seeking Israeli citizenship. If Israel is exactly like Afrikaner South Africa, please tell me why so many people are flocking to live under such a system.

Ah yes, the detractors say, but its only the privileged white Jews who feel that way. This ignores the hundreds of thousands of non-white Jews who came to Israel fleeing persecution in Muslim countries. Having experienced life in those societies, these Jews reject American liberal suggestions that they should be happy to live under the rule of Palestinian Muslims. They do not dismiss the threat posed by a nuclear Iran and Islamist terrorism in general.

But, of course, those who cant stand with Israel claim that its Palestinians who are treated like black South Africans. But theyre not.

When Israel built its security fence, it was meant to keep terrorists out, not keep its people inunlike the Berlin Wall. And in which direction did Palestinians choose to go? Did they want to be on the side controlled by the Palestinian Authority? No. Most of them wanted to be on the Israeli side of the barrier.

A declining number of Israeli Arabs support a two-state solution, and few would move to a Palestinian state if it were established. Whenever peace negotiators have suggested incorporating the Arab triangle in the Galileewhere most Israeli Arabs liveinto Palestine, the residents have ferociously objected. Polls have found that most Israeli Arabs are proud to be Israelis. When asked how they identify themselves, only 7% said Palestinian, a majority said Arab-Israeli and an even larger percentage said they feel like a real Israeli. According to a Palestinian poll, 93% of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem prefer to remain under Israeli rule.

Can you imagine blacks in Afrikaner South Africa expressing such views?

What does all this say about Jews who cant stand with Israel? Who have less regard for the Jewish state than Palestinians and Israeli Arabs?

I stand with Israel. You should too.

Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islams War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

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The tragedy of Jews who can't stand with Israel - JNS.org

Fellowship in Their Golden Years – International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Posted By on September 29, 2022

The Fellowship | September 28, 2022(Photo: FJC/Victor Adjamsky)

Rain or shine, through the bitter Eastern European cold and snow, for decades Issac walked through the streets to synagogue early each morning. His day never properly began without heartfelt fellowship with God in prayer, as well as heartwarming fellowship with friends in his congregation, many of them old-timers like himself.

But those days are no more, due to health problems for 88-year-old Issac, as well as the ongoing war along the Russian-Ukraine border where he and his wife Zoya live.

Now too weak and unstable to walk to synagogue, even without the threat of war in his hometown, he prays alone each morning in his living room, his eyes filled with tears and his heart filled with sadness and gratitude.

You see, Issac is grateful, despite his difficulties. He is grateful that he and Zoyas children were able to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. While their son died from cancer, their daughter and their grandchildren are living lives of faith in the Holy Land.

Issac is also grateful that he and Zoya are still around to observe the cherished Jewish customs and holidays, a life he never could have imagined when, as a boy, his family escaped the Nazis by fleeing across the Caspian Sea.

And Issac is grateful for friends of The Fellowship, especially this time of year, when Fellowship volunteers bring a High Holy Days food box, as well as much needed fellowship for this lonely couple.

We are living out our older years, struggling, Issac says. But the help of The Fellowship is much appreciated. It relieves the burden, and allows us to live our golden years in peace and joy. We are deeply grateful for your help and generosity.

This High Holy Days season, you can provide friendship, fellowship, and life-giving aid to elderly Jewish people like Issac and Zoya.

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Fellowship in Their Golden Years - International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Aurora rabbi joins other faith leaders in call for peace and progress – Daily Herald

Posted By on September 29, 2022

In advance of Rosh Hashanah, the leader of Aurora's only Jewish synagogue joined with other faith leaders to unite for peace and progress in the state's second-largest city.

"Bless us all together with peace and well-being," said Rabbi Edward Friedman of Temple B'Nai Israel as he led an InterFaith Unity Prayer joined by leaders of other faiths.

More than 50 Aurora religious leaders convened on World Peace Day to focus on peace and faith.

Leaders of Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other faiths convened at the Aurora Interfaith Breakfast to discuss ways to strengthen the city's interfaith presence.

The group held an open, honest dialogue about faith, peace and ways to help Aurora progress.

The city officially launched the new Aurora Interfaith Alliance, an advisory body comprised of leaders from different faiths.

More information is available at http://www.aurora-il.org/InterFaithAlliance.

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Aurora rabbi joins other faith leaders in call for peace and progress - Daily Herald

Jews on the move: The geographic dimension of Jewish survival in North America – eJewish Philanthropy

Posted By on September 29, 2022

Throughout history, Jews have been a people on the move, from the nomadic Abraham and Sarah to Moses wandering in the desert, to the massive relocations of the modern era often spurred by antisemitic violence and poverty. This last contributed significantly to the creation of the two Jewish population mega-centers that exist today: Israel, an intentionally created Jewish state, and the United States, where Jews constitute an accepted and respected minority.

As roughly 90% of all Jews now reside in these two centers, it can be argued that in the 21st century the Jewish people at last achieved a level of demographic stability, that the wandering Jews now wander no more. Yet, a closer look at the demographic trends in one of these centers, the U.S., reveals that within this population concentration, Jewish inter-regional migration rates are on the increase.

This level of geographic change poses critical challenges to Jewish continuity, particularly as preliminary research suggests that migration frequently results in reduced Jewish engagement and affiliation. National, strategic intervention, supplemented by detailed local initiatives, could help communities respond effectively to the demographic changes at play in their areas. But for such a plan to be developed and implemented, data on the extent and character of the moving populations needs to be gathered and analyzed.

GENERAL TRENDS IN MOBILITY IN THE USA

The general population of North America is fairly mobile. According to the US census, until recently, 14% of the population moved home each year, although only around 1% moved out of state. Of those that indeed move out of state, the overall trend is a movement from the NorthEast and Midwest to the South and the West. The growth states are Vermont, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida, while those declining are New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut and California. The main reasons people move according to the American Community Survey are career changes, the need for better housing, family circumstances and the cost of living.

When Americans move, they not only take their household possessions, but also their incomes and their savings. Hence the IRS has considerable data on relocation. For example, the states that gained the most income and assets in recent years were in the South, notably Florida and Texas, while the states that lost the most income and assets were all located in the Northeast.

THE COVID-19 FACTOR

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated some of these trends and altered others. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020 alone, 8% of the U.S. population moved, attributing the move to the pandemic, although mainly staying within their home state.

Over the years, a pursuit for more affordable housing has been a typical causal factor of Americas high mobility rates. The pandemic increased threefold the rate by which families moved from large, expensive metro areas to smaller, more affordable destinations.

Aided by digital technology, the pandemic altered the nature of domestic migration. Firstly, in 2021, the Current Population Survey ASEC, a joint effort between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, reported that the number of housing-related reasons surpassed employment-related for the first time since 2005. With more employers offering remote work and the number of job openings at its highest since 2001, motivations for migration have shifted to factors affecting housing and lifestyle, such as a desire to live near open spaces with a temperate outdoor climate. Additionally, some jobs are moving to where the talent has transferred to, as in South Florida with the phenomenon of Wall Street South. A second change is the increased need to be closer to family. And the third important change is in the demographic profile of movers as older people are retiring earlier or partially retiring.

As a result, between March 2020 and February 2022, the top ten metro areas gaining the most out-of-metro homebuyers consisted of more affordable interior markets and Southern beach destinations. Such that the biggest and older cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are shrinking the most, while the cities with the highest growth are those that have ballooned only more recently such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Austin, Portland and Jacksonville.

As urban life is being transformed, new patterns started during COVID-19 may well endure. The modern industrial world created spatial divisions between home, school, work, shop, pray and play. Now these are converging again and changing geographic communities accordingly.

THE IMPLICATIONS FOR JEWISH MOBILITY IN NORTH AMERICA

Against this context of changes in mobility in the general population, a better understanding ofJewish population mobility is emerging. Jews tend to be more mobile than the general population. According to 2009 research from the Jewish Federations of North America, one third of the Jewish population has moved into their current community between four and nine years previous. That averages to a moving rate of around 5% a year. Given that some move within their communities, a fair estimate is that at least 2-2% of the total Jewish population of the U.S. move each year compared with 1 % of the general population who move out of state. That amounts to around 140,000-175,000 Jews are on the move annually (2- 2% of 7 million), equivalent to the Jewish populations of Cleveland and Baltimore combined. That is a lot of movers. The sheer volume of movers raises the first concern of what that means to the exit communities and to the arrival communities.

The majority of Jewish movers are leaving the NorthEast for the South, SouthWest and West, to areas such as Austin, Florida, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle etc. They are mostly either young professionals or retirees who are moving into mid-size cities and cluster areas such as South Florida. Their reasons for moving were similar to those of the general population, namely work, family, housing and lifestyle and cost of living.

Since the height of the pandemic, the patternof Jewish migration has also changed somewhat. Out migration has been more from the larger and denser communities such as New York and Chicago, and the profile of movers has expanded to include younger retirees (in their 50s), and more young professionals and young families. Additionally, many snowbird families in Florida and Arizona have chosen to become year-round residents. The reasons for these changes arise from the ability to work remotely coupled with the strengthened desire for a more outdoors lifestyle.

This magnitude of Jewish movers raises the second important concern. Families that move are less connected and less engaged with the organized Jewish community, according to the 2009 JFNA study. Newcomers are less likely to send their children to Jewish day schools, less likely to attend or become synagogue members, less likely to participate in JCCs, less likely to donate to federation and so on. In fact, in the process of moving there is a switch from greater engagement and affiliation in former communities to lesser engagement and lower rates of affiliation in the arrival communities. To state it bluntly, this means that in the process of moving, the organized Jewish community in North America is losing tens of thousands of active participants every year. This may help explain the lower rates of affiliation in many growth communities such as Austin, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Portland as compared to the more traditional communities such as Chicago, Cleveland and Baltimore.

So far, little hard data exists on the reasons behind these losses in affiliation, but there are possible explanations for each of the two main demographic groups older movers and young professional movers. Older movers and retirees probably were more engaged in their former communities and either still retain those connections, and/or with children grown up, there is less of a need for active engagement.

Young professionals and young families in general do not have a propensity to join organizations and become members. Rather they tend to be more selective and engage in particular activities as needed. Additionally, for many younger Jews, doing Jewish is less important than for their parents.

OPPORTUNITIES IN GROWTH COMMUNITIES

The wave of Jewish newcomers in growth communities presents a significant opportunity. During the initial period of acculturation, newcomers are the most open to receiving help. During the acculturation and acclimatization process immediately after arriving in a new community, newcomers are in a liminal phase of adjustment. Socially, they can be somewhat bewildered, vulnerable and even needy until they reach a point when they can navigate their new environment on their own. Initially, they need to understand the lay of the new land, connect with new schools, find new friends, doctors, hair stylists, sports facilities, cultural activities and so on and they desire to grow local roots.

Therefore, it is at this critical moment that Jewish communal organizations, especially federations, JCCs and synagogues, should be reaching out to new arrivals and providing them with information, guidance, introductions and support. Many communities have such newcomers welcome, concierge or Shalom programs (including the comprehensive newcomers program that the author initiated in New Orleans and elsewhere). Such outreach programs do not require vast resources and can be most effective at generating engagement during the transition period. These connections can endure over time and help reverse the trend of disengagement. The benefits of such programs if designed correctly and in a strategic and comprehensive manner can not only reverse the trend but actually lead to increases in active participants, community leaders and donors.

TRADITIONAL AND DECLINING COMMUNITIES

Sadly, the large but now slowly declining communities may not be aware of the gradual outflow of community members. Out-movers tend to be less visible and less vocal than in-movers. Leaders and professionals of such traditional communities in the NorthEast may not be looking at this process. But over time, one can expect to see Jewish institutions (such as day schools), losing critical mass, some stagnant or declining synagogues, aging populations, a decline in fundraising and a lack of next generation donors.

These phenomena can be dealt with if local communal leaders take stock, consolidate and recalibrate. COVID already highlighted the issue of too much Jewish communal real estate as some activities are staying virtual; such that the decline in numbers of the community will act to exacerbate this problem. Specifically, traditional communities should:

INTERVENTION AT THE CONTINENTAL LEVEL

At the continental level, there is a need for both research and active intervention. With 140-175,000 or so Jews moving to a new city each year, significant numbers will be decreasing their engagement with the mainstream Jewish community. In essence, over time we may be moving from a somewhat more affiliated American Jewish community to a less and less affiliated one. While it may be hard to buck this trend, some actions are called for to mitigate the impacts, such as:

The great migration of Jews across America is taking place at a faster pace than most people realize. Its cumulative impacts are significant and may well ultimately change the face of the Jewish community in America. Its not too late to intervene. We need more facts and figures about who is moving, from where to where, and why. And we need concerted action both locally and nationally.

Michael Weil is a British born strategic planning consultant based in Jerusalem and Phoenix, Arizona. Until recently he was the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and led the rebuilding process of the community post Hurricane Katrina. Previously, he was a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and held senior positions at World ORT and at the Israel prime ministers office.

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Jews on the move: The geographic dimension of Jewish survival in North America - eJewish Philanthropy

The Jewish word that no one uses anymore – Religion News Service

Posted By on September 29, 2022

(RNS) There is a Yiddish word that our grandparents used that has fallen out of use.The word is shanda shame.

Some would say: Good riddance.

For several generations, the idea and living reality of shandaserved as fuel in our personal and communal Jewish engines.

Consider the way that we used that word.

If something was a shanda fur die goyim what did that mean?

It meant that whatever it was it was something that would bring shame, disrepute or embarrassment to the Jews and it was something that we should not let the gentiles see.

Why?

Because we feared antisemitism. Shanda was our internalized sense of powerlessness.

We screamed shanda about any number of people:

These were all Jews who brought disrepute to the Jewish people. Hence, shanda!

A new book by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, the feminist author and activist (co-founder of Ms. magazine) takes the idea of shanda to a new, deeper level. The book is, appropriately, Shanda: A Memoir of Shame and Secrecy.

The best term I can invent for what Letty does is family archaeology. She digs into her family stories, generation by generation, level by level. She discerns the layers of fables and outright fictions that undergird her narrative all as a way of getting real, getting clear and getting whole.

She writes: Every family has its underbelly. Mine was fat with pretense, the denied, the obscured, the unsaid. Hiding is my heritage, she says.

There is something very Jewish about hiding and secrecy. Over the years, I have ruminated on the essential Jewish nature of the superhero with a secret identity superheroes invented by Depression-era Jews who wanted to assimilate, who understood secrecy and hidden identities.

Letty reminds us that biblical figures often disguised themselves. The entire Book of Genesis is one long masquerade party for example, Jacob disguises himself as Esau, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute, and Joseph disguises himself as an Egyptian overlord. On the holiday of Purim, masks have a starring role.

Letty embarks on a journey into her familys past, which includes her own past.

Among the things she unearths and confesses:

In particular, and most poignantly, there are the stories about Lettys father, Jack Cottin. He was a communal leader, apparently successful, dashingly handsome.

But, it turns out that Jack Cottin was hiding something. Beneath the faade, under the masks, he was a financial failure. All of his outward success turned out to be mere posturing, a mirage.

Was it possible that my fathers unilateral decision to sell our house and relegate me to a daybed in his new apartments entry hall was not born of selfishness and insensitivity to my feelings of loss and abandonment, but of shame and his refusal to admit that he was unable to afford an apartment with a second bedroom?

Could it be that the reason he didnt give me any spending money in college was not to teach me financial independence but because he didnt have a dollar to spare? What a great relief it would be, even these many years later, were I able to believe that his actions sprang from a paucity of resources, not of love. Was he performing prosperity to save face? If so, I would sympathize with him retroactively and forgive him posthumously.

Few things could shame a husband or father more than being unmasked as an inadequate provider. I knew that. But I never imagined my self-assured dad would wear any kind of mask in the first place. Looking back, I recognize now that compelling social forces in his upwardly mobile Jewish community namely masculine pride and the loom of the shanda were enough to make my father, or any man of his generation, lie about his finances.

As Letty put it, knowingly: In the Jewish world of the 1950s, a man who couldnt support his family was not a man.

What gets me about this wonderful, lyrically written book is that it proves something we all know: The more personal a story, the more universal it is. Every reader will find themselves in these pages. These are all of our stories.

But, this leaves me with a question about the future of Jewish identity.

Once upon a time, our parents and grandparents could, and would, complete the following sentence: Jews dont (fill in the blank).

We had our list of answers:

I once gave a sermon on that last statement Jews dont hunt in a Southern congregation.

During the oneg Shabbat, a few congregants approached me to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that Jews do, in fact, hunt.

Is it still possible to make the statement: Jews dont ?

I wonder.

And, I wonder what happens to a culture when there are no longer taboos.

I believe the era of shanda has vanished if only because our children and grandchildren will lack the ethnic Velcro to see Jewish bad actors as somehow inextricably linked to them.

While shanda has evaporated, another Yiddish word might be experiencing a renaissance though perhaps not in the original Yiddish.

I am talking about past nischt that there are things Jews should not do.

Shanda was about what others might think. The Other has the power to define you and evaluate you.

Past nischt is about what we in the form of Jewish history, Jewish values, and we might even dare to say, God might think. We, or our surrogates, have the power.

I feel that sense of past nischt all over the place, and I suspect Letty would agree with me.

In particular, I feel that sense of past nischtnot only in an ethical sense, but increasingly in the sense of what is going on in our world today.

I know Letty knows this, because of her leftward leanings on Israel. She might think Benjamin Netanyahu was a shanda, but a more concise critic of Israeli policies might hope a people that has been powerless would say, about the gratuitous use of power: Past nischt.

Sometimes, I agree with her.

I will go beyond that.

When I encounter Jews who behave badly, it is not only a case of shanda; it is a case of past nischt.

As in: They should know better and be better and act better.

As in: A people that has a covenant with God should know better, be better and act better.

In the words of my friend, colleague and teacher, Rabbi Lauren Berkun of the Shalom Hartman Institute, in her interpretation of the teachings of Rabbi Donniel Hartman (whose father, the late Rabbi David Hartman, Letty cites in this book):

We answer to a higher authority, we answer to a higher standard, and that is the standard thats worthy of who we perceive we ought to be. A standard that embraces exceptionalism, not in any sense of arrogance, but in the sense that you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is what you must work to become. If we fail to do so, we are failing to live up to our mission as a nation charged to be Gods covenantal partners and consequently to be a light that sanctifies Gods name and enables God to be the God of the world.

If we fail in doing that well, that would be a shanda.

I love this book, and I suspect I will be returning to it frequently.

You will love it as well probably because you will see yourself, and your family, and your own complicated narrative in its pages.

With that, may we all live in such a way that our names appear in the Book of Life.

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The Jewish word that no one uses anymore - Religion News Service

Jewish students fight hate in the High Holy Days with education – KPBS

Posted By on September 29, 2022

The Jewish community across San Diego County continue to celebrate High Holy Days.

This week marks Rosh Hashanah, the New Year 5783 on the Jewish calendar.

On the campus of Patrick Henry High School, students have organized themselves in a group they call the Jew Club. It's an untraditional name they said honors their very traditional faith. They meet once a week at lunchtime. Zoe Linden,17, is a senior who has attended the club since she was a freshman.

Every year, there are incidents of hate speech and discrimination against the Jewish community.

It makes me not want to embrace my religion and be open about it. It makes me not want to tell people, she said.

The club is supported by Rabbi Devorah Marcus, leader of the nearby Temple Emanu-El in Del Cerro.

Marcus was a guest speaker, Wednesday, and brought gifts of apples and honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. The rabbi also mentors the students on the harsh reality of remaining faithful in the current political climate.

[Theres a problem] when we allow ourselves to identify anyone who we dont like as a Nazi or analogize people who we find to be politically unappealing, we desensitize who and what the Nazis actually were, Marcus said.

Jews are now in a period known as the Days of Awe. The time between the new year and the holiest day of atonement is Yom Kippur. Rabbi Marcus told KPBS News it is a time for the Jewish community to be most open, vulnerable, and honest. It is also a time for forgiveness and to educate those who are against them.

Memories of Pittsburg and Poway are still fresh. In 2019, one woman was killed and three other people injured at the Chabad of Poway by a self-proclaimed white supremacist on the last day of Passover.

A year earlier, there was an antisemitic terrorist attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania. Eleven people died in the attack and six were wounded, including several Holocaust survivors.

Ben Mathews,17, is another senior at Patrick Henry High School who is active in the weekly Jew Club meeting. He said, Ive had more friends who were more curious rather than abrupt with their conversation and language towards me. Im really excited to be out there educating and being part of the holidays.

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Jewish students fight hate in the High Holy Days with education - KPBS

Kandinsky painting returned to Jewish family as Netherlands shifts approach to looted art – St. Louis Jewish Light

Posted By on September 29, 2022

(JTA) A Dutch committee charged with assessing and acting on claims about artwork stolen from Jews before and during the Holocaust has determined that a painting by Wassily Kandinsky should be returned to the family of the Jewish woman who likely owned it prior to the Holocaust.

The family of Johanna Margarethe Stern-Lippmann, who was murdered in 1944 at Auschwitz, should regain possession of Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche, or View of Murnau with Church, an abstract work that the Dutch city of Eindhoven has owned since 1951 and has displayed at its art museum, according to the Dutch Restitutions Committee.

The decision reverses an earlier one, in 2018, in which the committee determined that there was not enough evidence to show that Stern-Lippmann had possessed the painting after the Nazis assumed power to prove that she had given up ownership under duress.

Earlier this month, the committee ruled that new evidence had emerged to support the familys claim to the painting. Because Stern-Lippmann, a prominent art collector and trader before the Holocaust, was Jewish, without any evidence that she had sold the painting voluntarily prior to the Nazi invasion, it was appropriate to assume that View of Murnau with Church had been expropriated during it, the committee concluded.

We are thrilled that the Kandinsky has been returned to us, descendants of Stern-Lippmann in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States said in a statement. The family, which has previously had works restored to it by France, had protested against the committees 2018 decision.

The Stolpersteine, or Stumbling Stone, for Johanna Margarethe Stern-Lippmann is set outside the home she fled in Potsdam, Germany, in 1938. The art collector was murdered in the Holocaust. (Courtesy of PantherStix/Wikipedia)

The painting used to have a prominent position hanging in our (great) grand-parents house and represents much of our familys story, the family members said. Its coming back to us now marks an important moment. It wont bring back the nine immediate family members who were so tragically murdered, but its an acknowledgment of the injustice that we, and so many like us, have endured.

The return of the painting is the latest in a string of decisions in the Netherlands in favor of the descendants of Jews who lost precious art during the Nazi regime. A famous marine painting was removed from the halls of the Dutch parliament in May pending an ownership claim, while the Stedelijk Museum earlier this year restored possession of one of its Kandinsky paintings to the family of the Jewish woman who said she owned it prior to the Holocaust.

The question of how to handle artwork with ownership claims by the families of Jews persecuted by, and in many cases murdered by, the Nazis has long vexed the art world and legal authorities.A 1998 conference brokered by the United States sought to achieve consensus on how to handle looted art; at the time, the conferences organizer, U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstadt said France possessed 2,000 looted works and had returned only three.

The Netherlands where in 1940 the invading Germans and their collaborators found many Jews who had fled Nazi Germany years earlier had already formed its first restitution committee in 1997, but it adopted the principles laid out during the Washington Conference when it convened the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications in 2001.

The committee has made about 170 recommendations, most of them binding rulings, pertaining to some 1,500 items. Among the binding rulings, 84 were fully or partially in the applicants favor and 56 were to reject the claim in full.

Over time, the Netherlands once-strong reputation in returning looted art has suffered because of the Dutch judiciarys unique approach of balancing the interests of heirs with those of museums interested in displaying important works of art that happened to be stolen by the Nazis.

The weighted interest approach has drawn criticism in a country where widespread collaboration was a key reason for the highest death rate achieved by the Nazis in occupied Western Europe. Several prominent collections that were widely understood to have been looted from Jews remained in the possession of Dutch museums as a result of the approach.

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In December 2020, the committee announced a recalibration and intensification of its efforts to provide justice in matters related to looted art, including conducting systematic research into the wartime history of artworks, and especially ones in the possession of museums and public institutions.

The four rulings announced since then have all been in favor of Jewish families seeking to reclaim possession.

View of Murnau with Church is the latest and most significant among them. Painted by the famed Russian-French abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, it was a centerpiece of the collection at the Eindhoven Museum, beginning when the museum acquired it in 1951 from a trader known to have trafficked in looted art. The picture is no longer visible on the museums website, although descriptions of several exhibits that featured it still are.

Exactly how many pieces of artwork were looted in the Netherlands and beyond remains unclear. Luckier Jewish families sold valuable art at a pittance to generate funds to flee the Nazis, or left their works behind while escaping. Other families lost their art as Jewish families were stripped of their belongings, then murdered. About 80% of Dutch Jews, many of them wealthy Germans who had fled the Nazis there, were killed during the Holocaust.

The Restitutions Committee is not the only effort underway in the Netherlands to determine the provenance of possibly looted art. A task force investigating the origins of the 3,500 pieces of art owned by the Dutch government has flagged some works as requiring investigation.

In one notable case, the task force called attention to Fishing Boat Near the Shore by Hendrik Willem Mesdag, a well known marine painter, which long hung in the Dutch parliament as a reminder of the Netherlands complex relationship with water.

The painting Fishing Boats Near the Shore at the Dutch parliament in the Hague, Netherlands. (Courtesy of the Eerste Kamer)

But the 1891 painting of ships braving high winds was removed last spring from the walls of the Eerste Kamer, the upper house of the Dutch parliament, pending an investigation into its provenance, the Omroep West broadcaster reported in May.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Vera Bergkamp, said the investigation was a moral duty and that, after obtaining information suggesting it had been stolen from a Jewish family, she had decided to have the painting put into storage pending the result of the probe.

The voluntary removal represents a powerful symbol of the shifting tides related to the repatriation of art with public value. In March, the Stedelijk Museum, a municipal institution of the City of Amsterdam, finally returned one painting that had been looted but that a judge said can remain in the possession of the museum as per the weighted approach.

The work, Painting with Houses also by Kandinsky, had become a symbol for the perceived injustice of the weighted approach, which acknowledged the theft but denied the rightful owners possession of what their family had lost.

Tourists view a disputed Wassily Kandinsky work, Painting with Houses, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, July 10, 2019. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

The Stedelijk, acting on the order of the mayors office, returned it following a protracted legal fight to descendants of the late Holocaust survivor Irma Klein. Her family had sold the painting directly to the Stedelijk during the Nazi era under duress for the equivalent of $1,600. It is now believed to be worth an eight-figure sum.

While it was by far the most well-known case of looted art on display in the public domain in the Netherlands, it is hardly the only one. According to RTL, provenance checks are underway with regard to additional works in parliament and in museums across the Netherlands.

The repatriation of looted works is continuing in other European countries where large swaths of artwork may have been stolen from Jewish collectors before and during the Holocaust. In Germany, in a move unrelated to the investigations in the Netherlands, three museums in July returned five paintings to heirs of Carl Heumann, a Jewish banker and art collector from Cologne who did not survive World War II, the Br23 news site reported.

The post Kandinsky painting returned to Jewish family as Netherlands shifts approach to looted art appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Kandinsky painting returned to Jewish family as Netherlands shifts approach to looted art - St. Louis Jewish Light

Alarming letter referencing Nazis delivered to Staten Island Jewish man on Rosh Hashana – SILive.com

Posted By on September 29, 2022

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. A Jewish man from Staten Island expressed outrage after an individual put a flyer referencing Nazis in his mailbox during the Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashana.

Charlie Greinsky of Dongan Hills told the Advance/SILive.com that he received the disturbing flyer on Monday.

This guy shows up to my house, I see him looking through my door and he walks away, Greinsky recalled. I open the door and I ask him, can I help you? He says no and tells me he put something in my mailbox.

Greinsky provided a photo of the flyer to the Advance/SILive.com. It refers to pro-life people as Nazis and fascists who are against democracy, are a threat to the republic and are against abortion.

The flyer was put in the mailbox of a Jewish resident on Rosh Hashanah.

The flyer also alludes to Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island): What does it matter if there is no country left, Michael Cusick, pro-abortion, name caller.

Greinsky said he called the police, officers from the 122nd Precinct took the flyer and are currently investigating the situation. He also said the incident was reported to the district attorneys office.

A spokesperson from the Staten Island D.A.s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I feel like Im being targeted I was the only one who got this, Greinsky said. Why did you come to me on Rosh Hashana? It is really disheartening, especially during this time of year.

Mondays incident marks the second anti-Semitic incident in recent days. Last week, a Max Rose campaign sign was defaced with a swastika in West Brighton, just feet away from a local temple.

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Alarming letter referencing Nazis delivered to Staten Island Jewish man on Rosh Hashana - SILive.com


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