RABBI OF THE HALF

JEWISH NEWS
THE CHICAGO
February 20 - 26, 2015/1 Adar 5775
www.chicagojewishnews.com
One Dollar
RABBI OF THE
HALF-CENTURY
Chicago
Rabbi
David Spitz
celebrates
50 years
in the
rabbinate
Jews running for office
in Chicago
Special Focus on
Education section
Larry Layfer on living,
giving as a Jew
Mormon
Jewish
deli
2
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
In Salt Lake, a Mormon Jewish deli
By Anthony Weiss
JTA
SALT LAKE CITY – Going
back to his very first bite of a
Reuben more than 50 years
ago, Randy Harmsen has always
loved deli food. So when he decided to open his own restaurant,
the Salt Lake City native followed in the footsteps of his heroes, who founded establishments
like Katz’s in New York, Langer’s
in Los Angeles and Zingerman’s
in Ann Arbor, Mich.
But although Harmsen’s 9th
South Deli is stocked with deli
classics like succulent pastrami
and crunchy pickles, it differs
from the predecessors who inspired it in at least one key regard: Unlike the Jewish founders
of Katz’s, Langer’s or Zingerman’s, Randy Harmsen is Mor-
mon and a former bishop in the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
Harmsen first sampled deli
food as a teenager in 1963 at the
delicatessen of Lu Dornbush, a
Dutch-born Holocaust survivor
who maintained a shop in downtown Salt Lake City, and was immediately taken with the cuisine.
As he subsequently traveled for
work – he ran an engineering
firm – Harmsen always made a
point to seek out delis in whatever city he happened to be in
and try their offerings.
Part of the appeal, of course,
was the taste. In addition,
as Harmsen learned more about
the history of Jewish immigrants
and their foods, he came to see a
parallel between deli food and the
fare of the early Mormon pioneers.
“It was a low-priced soul
food for the Jewish popula-
tion,” Harmsen said. “When it
first came they were quite a poor
population, so they learned to
make delicious food out of very
simple things. We did the same
thing with very basic foods and
try to make them savory by using
some spices.”
However, Harmsen says,
Mormon food – famously heavy
on casseroles and Jell-O molds,
along with starches and boiled
meats – wasn’t always as much to
his liking.
Like many Mormons, Harmsen also sees deeper connections between the Mormon experience and that of the Jews.
Harmsen’s great-great-grandfather, William Clayton, was part
of the original Mormon settlement of Navuoo, Ill. Clayton accompanied Brigham Young in the
wagon train of Mormon pioneers
who fled persecution and ulti-
Randy Harmsen came to see a parallel between deli food and the fare
of the early Mormon pioneers. (JTA)
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(“If I were in Israel, I’d be a
sabra,” Harmsen quipped.) That
migration is known as the Mormon Exodus.
Harmsen and his wife are also
deeply involved in the Mormon
church. He has twice served as a
bishop, a volunteer position overseeing approximately 500 people.
They lead the music for a Mormon children’s group for ages 3 to
11, with Harmsen playing piano
and his wife leading the singing.
Harmsen has eaten his way
through delis across the country,
and he rates the original kosher
Second Avenue Deli, which was
on New York’s Lower East Side,
as the best he’s tried. But the
most important deli he visited on
his journey to restauranteur was
Zingerman’s. He was introduced
to its fare by his son, who attended the nearby University of
Michigan. Harmsen tried the
Reuben and was floored. He became a devotee, and when he decided to sell his engineering
business a few years later and
thought about opening his own
Jewish-inspired deli, he returned
to Zingerman’s for advice.
“They said, ‘You want to
make a million dollars in a delicatessen?’ and I said, ‘Well, that
would be nice.’ They said, ‘Start
with 2 million,’” Harmsen recalled. But they agreed to help
Harmsen launch his dream. He
studied the deli business at
Zingerman’s for about 30 days
over the course of a year, then
hired a general manager and sent
her to train there for two weeks.
Harmsen also took research
trips to New York and Los Angeles to find the best source of pastrami, and ultimately found his
favorite at Langer’s Deli, which
directed him to its supplier, RC
Provision. He then leased a space
in a renovated Victorian house
in the eclectic shopping district
SEE DELI
ON
PAG E 1 6
3
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Last Jews of Yemen eye exodus
By Mohammed Ghobari
Reuters
A few worried families are
all that remain of Yemen’s ancient Jewish community, and
they too may soon flee after a
Shi’ite Muslim militia seized
power in the strife-torn country.
Harassment by the Houthi
movement – whose motto is
“Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to
Islam” – caused Jews in recent
years to largely quit the northern
highlands they shared with
Yemen’s Shi’ites for millennia.
But political feuds in which
the Jews played no part escalated
last September into an armed
Houthi plunge into the capital
Sanaa, the community’s main
refuge from which some now
contemplate a final exodus.
Around six Yemeni Jews
from the same family arrived in
Israel recently.
“Since last September, our
movements have become very
limited for fear of the security situation, and there are some members of the community who
preferred to leave Yemen,” sighed
chief rabbi Yahya Youssef, sitting
in his apartment within a walled
compound next to ministry of
defense.
Dressed in the traditional
Yemeni flowing robe, blazer and
headwrap, Rabbi Yahya’s lined
face is framed by two long curls
on each side. Along with Hebrew he and his co-religionists
speak Arabic, value local customs and are wary of life beyond
home.
“We don’t want to leave. If
we wanted to, we would have
done so a long time ago,” Yahya
said as his infirmed old father
rested in the sun outside their
home.
Jews evacuated from the
Houthi stronghold of Saada
province in 2009 to the government-guarded compound have
dwindled from 76 to 45. A group
of 26 others live in a city north
of the capital.
Their total number is down
from around 200-300 just a few
years ago and now makes up a
tiny fraction of Yemen’s 19 million-strong population.
Yemen’s Jewish community
numbered over 40,000 until
1949, when Israel organized their
mass transfer to the newly-established state. Those who stayed
say they had lived in peace with
their neighbors in the Muslim
Arab country.
Boredom and isolation reign
at the Jews’ lodgings in their unlikely ghetto in a luxury enclave
called “Tourist City” near the
now-evacuated United States
embassy.
Cut off from the carpentry
and metalworking shops that
were their renowned trade for
centuries, residents now subsist
on small government allowances
that they say barely meet their
living costs.
Young men who venture
into the souk often tuck their
distinctive curls up into their
headwraps for fear of bullying.
Boys are no longer eager to grow
them in the first place.
Israel-linked organizations
have in the past repeatedly
helped whisk Jews out of Yemen,
but Israeli government spokespeople declined comment on the
matter, citing reluctance to endanger Yemen’s Jews by association with Israel.
“There are certainly discussions going on over options
available regarding the Yemenite
Jews,” said an Israeli official
briefed on immigration matters.
Yemeni Jews demonstrate outside of the Cabinet office in Sanaa.
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Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Jewish News
■ French Prime Minister Manuel Valls excoriated a former
minister from his party for suggesting that Valls was under Jewish “influence” because his wife is Jewish. The statements made
about Valls and his wife by Roland Dumas, a Socialist former
foreign minister, “do nothing to honor the republic,” Valls said.
In an interview aired on BFMTV, Dumas said about Valls, “He
has personal alliances, everyone knows he is married to someone
– a distinguished person – who has influence over him.” Valls is
married to Jewish violinist Anne Gravoin, and in 2011 he said
during a public appearance that his marriage connected him “in
an eternal way” to Israel and the Jewish people. Many French
Jews admire Valls for his outspoken opposition to anti-Semitism
and executive actions to prevent it.
■ A former SS member, now 93, was charged in Germany as
an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people, mostly Jews, at
the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The district court
of Detmold must now decide whether to allow the prosecution
to proceed after charges were filed. The man, one of several former guards who have been investigated and charged in recent
months, has not been named. The man reportedly has admitted
to being stationed at the camp from early 1942, but he denies
having any involvement in murder, according to the state prosecutor of Dortmund. Investigators say the accused was involved
in murders from January 1943 to June 1944 involving Jews deported from Hungary, mass shooting operations and the “selection” of ill and weak deportees on the arrival ramp for
extermination, the German broadcasting agency WDR reported. He also allegedly knew that the systematic murder could
not have taken place without assistants like him, according to
the charge. It is possible that the accused will not be tried due
to his age.
■ A woman in Boise, Idaho, allegedly harassed and physically
attacked her Jewish neighbor in order to convince her to convert to Christianity. Marguerite Haragan, 58, was charged with
two counts of malicious harassment in the attack, which police
have labeled a hate crime, the KTVB television station in Boise
reported. She could face up to five years in prison for each count.
Haragan first harassed the alleged victim, who was identified in
court as A.G., with phone calls. She went to A.G.’s home and
banged on her window while shouting that she “better believe
in Jesus,” and that she would not leave until A.G. did, the Idaho
Statesman reported, citing a recording of Haragan’s arraignment.
When AG opened the door to get Haragan’s license plate number, Haragan slapped her in the face, pulled her hair and threw
her to the ground, then kicked her in the stomach before pressing her foot into A.G.’s throat until the Jewish woman said she
would believe in Jesus. Haragan returned to the home two days
later and wrote “death” on A.G.’s mailbox. The court barred
Haragan from talking to A.G. or going near her, according to
KTVB.
■ Rabbi Barry Freundel secretly recorded more than 150
women undressing at the mikvah adjacent to his Washington
synagogue, prosecutors reportedly told a meeting of victims. The
meeting at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington for Freundel’s alleged victims was the first time women from the community learned of the scope of the peeping Tom videos, The
Associated Press reported. Only six of Freundel’s alleged victims
have been identified by name. Freundel, 63, was arrested last
October on six charges of voyeurism after investigators discovered secret cameras installed in the mikvah shower room and
additional recording devices in his home. His Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel, immediately suspended him and later fired
him, ordering him to vacate the shul’s rabbinic residence. But
Freundel, who reportedly separated from his wife after his arrest,
has refused to leave the residence, and the congregation has
taken the case to the Beth Din of America. Freundel has pleaded
not guilty to the charges against him.
■ Taylor Swift reportedly has been offered as much as $2.5
million to perform in Tel Aviv likely in June, when the American pop singer’s new concert tour arrives in Europe. No contracts have been offered. Swift’s representatives have been
holding talks in recent weeks with four producers and agents to
have the Grammy Award winner play Tel Aviv. Swift, 25, has
sold more than 30 million albums and 80 million digital single
downloads.
JTA
Contents
THE CHICAGO
JEWISH NEWS
Vol. 21 No. 20
Joseph Aaron
Editor/Publisher
6
Torah Portion
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Senior Editor/
Israel Correspondent
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Cover Story
12
Focus on Education
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Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Why there is no Chabad house in Havana
a Lubavitch publisher. Aisenbach said he had strong ties with
Adath Israel’s former president,
Alberto Silverstein, who welcomed his emissaries into the
congregation.
But by 2007 Silverstein had
By Josh Tapper
JTA
HAVANA – On the freshly
painted, salmon-colored walls of
Alberto and Rebeca Meshulam’s
apartment, two portraits of the
late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson,
frame the entranceway leading to
a wide, airy vestibule.
Miniatures of the same portrait sit atop a glass-covered
countertop near an image of the
Meshulams’ son, Moises, taken at
the Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva
in Buenos Aires that he attended
for a decade. Despite the iconography, and their kosher kitchen,
the Meshulams are not strict adherents of the Hasidic movement.
But in Cuba, a country without a permanent Chabad outpost, the Meshulams – he’s a
retired physician, she’s a homemaker – are proud supporters.
Their home in this city’s tranquil
Nuevo Vedado neighborhood
has become a de facto headquarters for the handful of mostly
Latin American Lubavitch emissaries who visit the island on
major Jewish holidays.
The Meshulam family home
is, according to Rebeca, the
“beit Chabad for Cuba.”
There are reasons Chabad
doesn’t have a house of its own,
stemming from a years-long dispute with Cuba’s 1,500 member
Jewish community. Indeed, over
the past eight years, relations between Chabad, the haredi Orthodox outreach organization,
and Cuban Jewish leadership
have deteriorated to the point
where Lubavitch emissaries will
not step foot in the city’s Orthodox synagogue, Adath Israel.
Meanwhile, Havana’s Conservative Beth Shalom, the largest
synagogue in Cuba, decries
Chabad’s ongoing presence here
as illegal.
The roots of the hostilities
lie in differing interpretations of
halachah, or Jewish law, especially over the question of who
should be considered Jewish.
While exact figures are unknown, there is a high rate of intermarriage inside the Cuban
Jewish community, according to
Beth Shalom president Adela
Dworin, who knows of only 20 or
so Cubans – including herself –
born to two Jewish parents.
But since 1992, when the
country changed its constitution
to allow for freedom of religion,
hundreds of Cubans have been
converted by visiting Conservative rabbis, Dworin said. Chabad,
however, does not recognize
non-Orthodox conversions.
Shimon Aisenbach, the director of Chabad’s Cuba operation, Chabad Friends of Cuban
Jewry, or CFCJ, acknowledged
that emissaries have barred
stepped down and a conflict had
arisen with the synagogue’s new
leaders. Aisenbach said members
of Adath Israel told him flatly
they didn’t care if their religious
leaders were not halachically
Jewish.
Do you experience the intense pain,
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Rebecca and Alberto Meshulam, 70 and 78, respectively, in front of a
portrait of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
The Meshulams host Lubavitch emissaries at their Havana apartment
throughout the year. (JTA)
Cubans they don’t consider halachically Jewish from their programs – a practice Dworin called
“discriminatory.”
In recent years, Chabad has
also drawn the ire of some in
the Jewish community here for
skirting a Cuban law that requires all visitors on religious
missions to carry religious visas.
Each year, dozens of American
and Canadian Jewish missions –
sponsored by synagogues and
Jewish organizations such as
B’nai B’rith – arrive in Cuba lugging bags of clothing and medical
supplies.
The Lubavitch emissaries
who enter Cuba from across
Latin America and Canada come
instead with tourist visas.
Máriem Martinez Laurel,
the press secretary and cultural
attaché at Cuba’s embassy in Ottawa, acknowledged that religious travelers sometimes sneak
into Cuba on tourist visas by deceiving their local consulate.
“If they are going to do religious work, this is not correct,”
said Martinez Laurel, who had
not previously been aware of
Chabad’s work on the island.
“They cannot do any religious
work with a tourist card.”
Aisenbach, who runs CFCJ
out of a basement office at his
home in a suburb north of
Toronto, said his group submitted religious visa applications in
the past but they were never
processed in a timely fashion.
When asked why CFJC no
longer applies for religious visas
for its emissaries – or attempts to
establish a permanent residence
on the island – Aisenbach said
he believes that Cuba’s Office of
Religious Affairs would rule
against Chabad, given Dworin’s
close ties to the government.
“The government knows
about me and knows about my
work,” Aisenbach said.
CFCJ has worked in Cuba
since 1991, the same year that
many international Jewish organizations, including the American Joint Distribution Commit-
tee, rushed in to provide aid following the collapse of the Soviet
Union, Cuba’s chief benefactor
at the time.
According to Aisenbach,
that first year Chabad shipped
nearly 2,000 pounds of clothing
and medicine, shoes and Spanish-language prayer books to Jews
across the island. In 1998,
Chabad reported that it had imported seven tons of kosher food
over the previous five years.
In those early years, Chabad was
tolerated, even embraced.
At Adath Israel, a two-story
building behind a barbed-wire
gate in Old Havana, pictures of
Lubavitch emissaries posing with
synagogue members adorn the
foyer walls and many of the synagogue’s prayer books come from
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Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Torah Portion
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T h e Je wi s h N ew s pla ce in cybe rs pace
Living, giving as a Jew
Our work must
be a help to the
whole community
By Lawrence F. Layfer
Torah Columnist
Torah Portion: Terumah
Exodus 25:1-27:19
“Speak to the children of Israel
that they give to Me an offering,
everyone whose heart is willing …
and let them make Me a Sanctuary
that I may dwell among them.”
(Exodus 25:1-8)
“In our scripture reading of
the morning, we are once again
reminded that G-d commanded
the children of Israel to make
contributions to the Holy Tabernacle and for its sacred worship.
When this part of the Bible was
written, contributions were made
regularly, not only to the sacred
Tabernacle, but also for the purposes of local charity, which Jews
have always regarded as one of
the most important features of
community life.
“In those times, also, Jews
gathered contributions to free
slaves and to redeem captives,
granting them assistance, until
they were completely restored as
happy human beings. The giving
of all these contributions was regarded as a sacred duty on the
part of the people. Today, even as
in ancient times, our charities are
as varied as they are many. Now,
even as then, they have not only
a local but also a world-wide
character.
“We, too, have the duty of
redeeming captives from the
shattered and hate filled lands of
Europe and Asia, and from the
poverty-stricken ghettos of
North Africa, from Arab-owned
countries to the free and hopefilled land of Israel. They look to
us, their people, for help, for our
money, our machinery. Ours is
the duty to give so that they may
live. Organized relief is the only
possible solution for their problems. Contributions of material
gifts and of effort and time are
desperately needed from all of us
who are prepared to give willingly with our whole hearts.”
The above is quoted from
words my wife spoke on this
Lawrence F. Layfer
Torah portion at her bat mitzvah
51 years ago, for which she graciously thanks her father for
“some help with editing.” It
spoke to the communal need to
give, through a willing and generous spirit, in order to create a
group ready to be responsible for
one another.
A start on this lesson was
given to the newly liberated Israelites by Moses when they were
asked to donate for the building
of the Tabernacle in the desert.
After donations of precious metals, jewels, woods and skins, the
gifts were used to construct and
decorate the structure by those of
talent amongst the Israelites.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks considers
the “most effective way of transforming individuals into a community … (is by) setting them a
task they can only achieve as a
group.”
Both the desert Tabernacle
and its heir, the Temple in
Jerusalem, are lost to us, and the
sacrifices offered are no longer a
current part of Jewish life. The
structures have been replaced by
local synagogues, and the sacrifices by prayer and acts of kindness, for in Proverbs (21:3) it is
taught: “Charity and justice is
more acceptable to the Lord than
sacrifices.” The buildings may
have changed, but the sense of
community and commitment remains, re-developed fresh every
generation.
Rabbi Warren Goldstein
writes in an article titled “Klal
Mensch: The dependence of
community on individual commitment, that “the Community
of Jews is such a fundamental
principle that Maimonides writes
one who separates from the paths
of the community … has no portion in the World to Come. Attachment to the Klal (commu-
The “most effective way of transforming individuals into a community … (is
by) setting them a task they can only
achieve as a group.”
nity) means entering into their
troubles. It means talking responsibility for the welfare of Klal
Yisrael in every respect, from its
physical to its spiritual needs …
to give and to help others in all
areas of life. The ultimate goal of
living a Torah life is to become a
giver. The Torah says that ‘the
boy (Moses) grew up … and
Moses grew up and went out to
his brothers and saw their suffering.’
“The Maharal explains the
repetition of ‘grew up’ as the first
time it appeared it referred to
Moses’ physical growth and the
second time to his moral and
spiritual growth … going out of
his way to see the suffering of his
brothers (when) he could have
remained in the privileged and
protected environment of the
palace, yet he gave it all up for
Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Solomon
Wolpe explains that becoming a
Klal Mensch is achieved by taking more and more responsibilities throughout life … to assume
communal responsibility. According to Rabbi Simon Shkop,
the definition of holiness is to
give to others, and in doing so we
emulate G-d who does everything for the benefit of His creatures … included in G-d’s
commandment ‘you shall be
Holy’ is that all our work and toil
should benefit the community, in
imitation of G-d, for all gifts and
blessings are given by G-d to the
individual as a custodian who is
duty-bound to share these gifts
… to be a Klal Mensch is to believe and participate in the future destiny of Klal Yisrael.”
My bar mitzvah was on the
same day and year and in the
same city as my wife’s, and my
speech was also “edited” by my
father, who defined his hopes for
me on that day as “entering manhood in my religion. I realize that
with this comes many obligations
and many responsibilities … I
hope and pray to the Almighty
that He may direct my future by
granting me the wisdom and
foresight … to take advantage of
all the opportunities available to
me to direct my development so
that I may become learned so as
to seek knowledge, and be kind
and charitable.”
The lesson of parsha
Terumah, as my wife and I
learned, calls to both the individual and the community. As
Hillel said (Avot 1:14): “If I am
not for myself who will be for me,
but if I am only for myself, what
am I?”
Lawrence F. Layfer M.D. is
vice chairman of medicine at North
Shore University Health System,
Skokie Hospital.
7
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Arts & Entertainment
An innovative ‘Property’
Lyric presents
a world premiere
klezmer opera
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
Managing Editor
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s upcoming (Feb. 24-March 15)
mainstage production, a 40-yearold opera called “The Passenger,”
centers on several Polish citizens
haunted by their past roles in the
Holocaust, including a former SS
officer at Auschwitz and a possible prisoner of hers who meet on
an ocean liner in the 1960s.
“It’s a story of the Holocaust,
but it’s not a Jewish story,” says
Cayenne Harris, director of Lyric
Unlimited, a three-year-old initiative that encompasses company activities that are not part
of Lyric’s mainstage season and
reaches out to various Chicago
communities. So the leaders of
the organization decided to commission a work that would focus
on the Jewish story as a companion piece to “The Passenger.”
“We started out knowing we
wanted to do a klezmer opera,
but we had no idea of a story,”
Harris says. “We began having
conversations with Eric Einhorn,
who is directing the opera and is
Jewish. He was interested in
thinking about second and third
generation Holocaust stories and
he looked at any number of possibilities.”
Eventually he and librettist
Stephanie Fleischmann came
across a graphic novel by Israeli
author and illustrator Rutu
Modan of the same name. They
thought it might be right for a
small-scale opera, Harris says.
“With a novel there are too
many words, how can you choose
which ones to use?” she says.
“But a graphic novel adapted
well to a musical setting.” The
result was a 90-minute chamber
opera (six singers, six musicians),
also titled “The Property,” with
music by upcoming young composer Wlad Marhulets and libretto by Fleischmann.
It runs Feb. 25-27 at the
Reva and David Logan Center
for the Arts in Chicago, with two
additional performances March 4
and 5 at the North Shore Center
Wlad Marhulets
for the Performing Arts in
Skokie.
The story takes places in the
early 2000s and centers on a recent widow, Regina Segal, who
after her husband’s death, travels
from her Chicago home to Warsaw, her birthplace, along with
her granddaughter, Mica. Her
goal is to reclaim the family
apartment that was seized by the
Nazis.
Mica, meanwhile, is eager to
connect with the past, which her
grandmother refuses to speak
about.
It soon becomes clear that
there is more at stake than property as Regina meets a former
lover and her granddaughter finds
her own love interest in a Polish
tour guide. Ultimately Regina
shares secrets with her granddaughter and both women come
away from the experience with a
renewed understanding of the
Holocaust and each other.
“It’s really about the granddaughter beginning to understand
more about her grandmother and
what the experience of having to
flee Poland meant,” Harris says.
Musically, she says, “it’s a fusion of klezmer and opera. It’s not
just a set of traditional klezmer
favorites.” Composer Marhulets
was born in Belarus and raised in
Poland, then came to the United
States to study composition. He
has had some major commissions
from orchestras and written some
music for films but, Harris says,
klezmer is his first love.
As for “The Property,”
which is in English with a little
Polish and Hebrew, Harris calls it
“quite an intimate piece. The set
and costumes are quite simple
but very effective. This is not a
piece about the Holocaust, it’s a
family story, and people from
many different backgrounds
might appreciate it but especially
Jewish families, but it has a huge
Polish element as well.”
In Chicago, Harris says,
there is a “healthy relationship”
between the Jewish and Polish
communities. “The story is a celebration of both cultures.”
She’s hoping the work will
draw audience members who
don’t normally go to opera, including fans of graphic novels,
she says, “to see what happens
when you turn one into opera.
And for people who love
klezmer, it’s an opportunity to
hear klezmer in a new way. It is
priced quite affordably so it can
be accessible to everyone. It’s not
your usual high-priced opera
ticket. There is something here
for everyone.”
“The Property” runs Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 25-27 at the Reva
and David Logan Center for the
Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago and
Wednesday-Thursday, March 4
and 5 at the North Shore Center for
the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie
Blvd., Skokie. Tickets start at $20
at both venues. For tickets, visit
www.lyricopera.org/property.
THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 8:00 | FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 1:30 | SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 8:00
BEETHOVEN
TRIPLE
CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | RICCARDO MUTI conductor | STEPHANIE
JEONG violin | KENNETH OLSEN cello | JONATHAN BISS piano | LIGETI Lontano
| BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto | TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian)
Beethoven’s noble Triple Concerto artfully
showcases the lyrical expressiveness of the
violin and cello, beautifully played by CSO
members Stephanie Jeong and Kenneth Olsen
and world-renowned pianist Jonathan Biss.
JONATHAN BISS
CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | RICCARDO MUTI Zell Music Director
CSO.ORG / 312-294-3000
Artists, prices and programs subject to change.
These performances are generously sponsored by the
Randy and Melvin Berlin Family Fund for the Canon.
Global Sponsor of the CSO
8
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Arts & Entertainment
Oscar nominee ‘Ida’ traces void left by Poland’s murdered Jews
By Anthony Weiss
JTA
For the past few decades,
Holocaust films have been common – and often victorious – fare
at the Academy Awards.
But this year, the Polish
nominee in the Foreign Language Film category ventures
into the less frequently explored
territory of the Holocaust’s aftermath.
“Ida,” writer-director Pawel
Pawlikowki’s stark black-andwhite film, is an unsparing look
at the discomfiting void left behind after the obliteration of
Poland’s Jews.
Set in 1962 Poland, the film
tells the story of Ida, a young
Catholic novitiate living a life of
simple devotion at a rural
monastery as she prepares to take
her vows as a nun. But the
rhythm and ritual of her life
is disrupted when she learns that
she must visit her previously absent aunt before she can be initiated. Against her will, and
wearing her habit like armor, Ida
journeys to Warsaw.
The aunt, Wanda Gruz, is
the diametric opposite of Anna –
a worldly, disillusioned Stalinist
now devoid of faith of any kind.
From the start, Wanda cannot
resist taunting Ida for her piety
and innocence. For Wanda, life
is pain, leavened by alcohol, cigarettes, music and an anonymous
parade of men. She is also Jewish
– and so, she reveals, is Anna,
born Ida Lebenstein, whose family was killed in the Holocaust.
Almost despite themselves,
Ida and Wanda find that they
share a mutual affection, and
Wanda agrees to take her
niece to search for the remains of
their family. The contrast between the traveling companions
could not be more stark. Passing
a roadside shrine, Ida stops to
kneel and pray while Wanda
lounges against the car smoking. Reaching a village, Ida goes
to the church, Wanda to the bar.
What they find is a Poland
determined not to remember or
to care. From the occupier of the
family’s old house they meet hostile denial. From villagers in the
family’s old hometown they meet
shrugs and blank stares. In a
hitchhiking young saxophone
player they find the drifting, sensuous pursuit of whatever comes
next.
But Ida and Wanda also
force one another to confront
things with which they, too,
have failed to reckon. For all her
disapproval of Wanda, Ida cannot fail to see all that the larger
world offers. And Wanda, in her
growing connection with Ida, is
forced to excavate long-buried
memories, loves and agonizing
losses.
Of all the movie’s great
voids, perhaps none is greater
than Judaism itself. For Ida, the
discovery that she is Jewish is an
odd, almost incomprehensible
piece of trivia, one of the few
threads tying her to a past she
never knew. Wanda, twisted by
pain and grief, neither seeks nor
desires any connection with Jewish life. She is a modern communist, devoted to the party but
stripped of belief in anything but
the perfidy of man.
Yet these two wounded vessels are the sole Jews in the
film. Beyond them there is nothing. No rabbi, no community, no
culture, no memory – only an
abandoned graveyard.
Given this, it is little surprise that “Ida,” like its characters, has an uneasy relationship
with Poland. The film has been
Agata Kulesza, left, and Agata Trzebuchowska co-star in the Polish film
"Ida,” an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film about an aunt
and niece looking for family lost in the Holocaust. (JTA)
widely hailed as a masterpiece
and lavished with critical praise
and awards, including Best Foreign Language Film from the
British Academy of Film and Television Arts. But it has also met
with criticism from Polish nationalist groups that have accused the film of tarring Poland
with the sins of the Nazi invaders.
Pawlikowski also shares another element with his characters, namely a Jewish past. His
Gil Shaham violin
David Michalek visual artist
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and Partitas
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Artists, prices and programs subject to change.
father’s mother was Jewish and
was murdered at Auschwitz. Like
Ida, Pawlikowski didn’t learn this
history until he was an adult. His
father, an avowed secularist,
never discussed it.
“Everyone talks of it as being
about Jewish-Polish relations,”
Pawlikowski told the Guardian
newspaper last year. “I don’t want
to step into that minefield. For
me, the film is about what it is to
be Polish.”
GIL
SHAHAM
BACH
SIX SOLOS
WITH
ORIGINAL
FILMS BY
DAVID
MICHALEK
CSO.ORG / 312-294-3000 / Group Services 312-294-3040
9
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Arts & Entertainment
Does Brian Williams’ punishment fit the crime?
Labor Day, a time of new starts.
That’s actually a good time for
By Uriel Heilman
JTA
know what his path to return is.
SEE WILLIAMS
ON
PAG E 1 6
JOIN US FOR THE LYRIC AND MIDWEST PREMIERE OF
A POWERFUL AND HAUNTING REDISCOVERED WORK
Weinberg
The Passenger
Brian Williams
reader of the news – because
that’s really what anchors do
these days – then what does a
six-month suspension do? It’s
long enough for NBC to lose its
position as the leader among networks in the nightly newscasts,
and for viewers to get accustomed to a new anchor. But then
why bring Williams back in six
months?
Stories about helicopter-gate
(is anyone else using this term?)
will just crop up again ahead of
his return, and I don’t understand how six months of sitting
in the corner facing the wall
(and foregoing a paycheck) will
make Williams more honest or
trustworthy.
If NBC really wants to take
a stand, why not get rid of
Williams for good?
If it’s that the network wants
to be seen as punishing Williams
but doesn’t want to lose an anchor who has been good for business, then wouldn’t a shorter
punishment make more sense? A
month, say, would be enough
time that it would be more than
a slap on the wrist but short
enough that the broadcast conceivably could move beyond the
scandal in a few weeks’ time.
I called a couple of Jewish
guys I know who deal in crisis
PR, among other things, to see
what they thought about NBC’s
handling of the Williams affair.
“Six months is shocking,”
said Stu Loeser, a former
spokesman for New York Mayor
Michael Bloomberg. “I think it
surprised everyone. It’s attention
getting. It shows that Brian
Williams’ NBC bosses take this
seriously. This is a big deal. This
is not stepping down for two
weeks, this is not taking a vacation.”
Loeser, who now runs a
media strategy firm in New York,
said he believes six months is
perfect amount of time.
“You need something that
breaks through. If it’s two weeks,
people won’t buy it,” Loeser said.
“Six months puts him back in
play at the end of summer, before
Feb 24 - Mar 15
A gripping story about the Holocaust,
told from the perspective of victim and
perpetrator. New York Classical Review calls
the production “strong and unaffected”
with “breathtaking melodic and structural
invention...The Passenger stands as proof
of the need to perform important works
like this to a wider audience.”
KARL FORSTER/BREGENZ FESTIVAL
By now, anyone interested
enough to have read about the
issue knows the basic facts: Longtime NBC anchor Brian
Williams lied about having been
on a helicopter that was shot
down in Iraq in 2003. In truth,
he was on a different helicopter
that landed unimpeded about a
half hour after the other chopper
was forced down by hostile fire.
The apology Williams offered when the truth of the matter became impossible to ignore
(thanks to a reporter from Stars
and Stripes) was deemed insufficient by the commentariat and,
eventually, by NBC. Williams essentially said it was an honest
mistake – “I made a mistake in
recalling the events of 12 years
ago,” was how he put it. But critics said it was an outright lie and
that his failure to own up compounded the original lie with a
dishonest apology.
Now NBC has suspended
Williams without pay for six
months and is undertaking its
own internal investigation to determine what else Williams has
said doesn’t hold up under
scrutiny.
There are a couple of things
that are confounding to me
about this whole turn of events.
The first is the most obvious:
that a man this likable, this
good-looking, this … tall could
have peddled this untruth for so
long. Who could ever have imagined he was lying through those
picture-perfect white teeth? (Except for the ignored military veterans who have been grumbling
about Williams’ dishonesty for
years, of course.) Shame on you,
Williams, for ruining what had
been up till now a happy relationship.
Not that I watch “NBC
Nightly News,” of course.
Though I grew up on Tom
Brokaw and still find his South
Dakota lilt and peculiar staccato
the ultimate authoritative voice
in news, as an adult I don’t think
I ever sat down to watch the
early evening TV news, and now
I don’t even own a TV. But I did
like Williams’ cameos on “30
Rock,” stints on “Saturday Night
Live” and guest appearances on
the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart (whose just-announced retirement from the show is a real
tragedy, if we’re already bemoaning the loss of a news anchor).
What really confounds me
about the Williams affair is this
ill-conceived punishment.
I just don’t get it. If the guy
lied and is no longer a credible
him to come back into the public
consciousness. I don’t exactly
Lyric Opera presentation generously made possible by Richard P. and Susan Kiphart,
Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation,
Sidley Austin LLP, Manfred and Fern Steinfeld, and Helen and Sam Zell, with additional
support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music program.
3 1 2 82 7 56 00 | LY RI CO PER A .O RG
LO NG LIVE PASSION
10
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
RABBI OF THE
HALF-CENTURY
Chicago Rabbi David Spitz celebrates
50 years in the rabbinate
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
Managing Editor
It was a different world
when Rabbi David Spitz graduated from the Reform movement’s rabbinical school 50 years
ago.
All of his colleagues were
male. Reform congregations operated in the classical mode in
synagogues built to look like
cathedrals, with old-style Germanic music at services. Reform
Jewish camps didn’t exist. The
government of the United
States, and many of its citizens,
didn’t look favorably on the
young State of Israel.
Rabbi Spitz, in retirement
now, reflects on the changes that
have occurred since that longago day. Many of them he welcomes with delight. Others worry
him.
Spitz also reflects on his varied career as both a chaplain for
the Veterans Administration and
a congregational rabbi, most of it
spent in and around Chicago.
He’ll be honored for his 50 years
in the rabbinate by the Reform
movement’s Central Conference
of American Rabbis at its convention March 15-18 in
Philadelphia, along with other
rabbis who have attained that
milestone.
F
or Spitz, the path to the
rabbinate began in an
apartment in the Bronx,
N.Y. and the Reform congregation across the street, where his
family was active. After graduating from the City College of New
York, Spitz attended the Reform
movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
and was ordained in 1965.
He went on to serve as a
U.S. Army chaplain, a stint that
included time at a base in Kansas
and two years in Ouijongbu,
Korea, where he covered the entire country ministering to
American soldiers, Marines and
Air Force personnel of all religions.
Spitz also worked with two
groups of Korean civilians
through the U.S. Information
Service, an enriching experience
for him, the warm, animated
rabbi said in a wide-ranging tele-
phone interview from his winter
home in Florida.
“The armistice was still in
effect, with occasional outbursts,” he says. The U.S. government “was eager to have
better relations with the people
of Korea, so they used to have
these groups.” There was a high
school group and a college group.
“They would practice their English and have discussions, and
they would basically talk about
life in Korea, and ask me what
life was like in the United States.
It was an experience I found very
worthwhile,” Spitz says.
Back home, he embarked on
a path that put him in contact
with the pioneers of the Reform
Jewish camping movement,
which, he says, began with the
Chicago-based Olin-Sang-Ruby
Union Institute in 1950 but didn’t reach the East Coast until the
late 1950s and early 1960s.
He was then serving at a
small temple and in the summers
directing the arts and crafts program at the Reform movement’s
Camp Harlam in Pennsylvania,
where he was among the first
camp employees to develop an
arts and crafts program that related to themes of Jewish values,
history and Hebrew language.
The notion that Jewish
camps and schools could use the
arts to help teach Jewish values
was a new one, he says, and he
wrote several articles on the
topic and tried to inspire other
school and camp directors to include the arts in their curriculum. The small religious school
he taught at in Hollywood “was
way ahead of the curve,” he says.
“I was able to convince the
school to get a really sophisticated art program, something
that was not being done and that
even today is not widely done in
the schools.”
Spitz then served at several
congregations, including Temple
Beth-El in Hammond/Munster,
Ind., for several years and eventually moved on to a congregation in Rochester, N.Y., where,
he says, momentous changes in
his life and career occurred.
He was elected president of
the local ministerial association,
through which in turn he enrolled in the Colgate Rochester
Divinity School’s program lead-
Rabbi Spitz preparing to bring Passover supplies to U.S. Army troops stationed in "Freedom's Frontier," the
demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, 1967. With him is a Korean chaplain.
ing to a degree in pastoral counseling, and found a new career as
a chaplain.
“It was an important transition period in my life. I had been
serving congregations for 10
years and then I got my doctorate in counseling,” he says. “But
I felt I needed to do something
‘rabbinic’ with my time, so I took
(a position at) any little congregation that came along.”
That happened to be a congregation in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
At this point Spitz was still
a bachelor. That was soon to
change.
“In the congregation there
was one woman who was available,” he says with a chuckle.
“She was the ritual chairperson,
and she was going through a divorce. We got together, started
dating, one thing led to another.”
They ended up marrying on
the eve of a rabbinic convention,
which proved convenient for
their honeymoon – their hotel
was tax-deductible.
Rabbi Neil Brief, longtime
spiritual leader of Ezra Habonim,
the Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie, is Spitz’s
lifelong friend and colleague (all
the way back to their childhoods
in, respectively, Brooklyn and
the Bronx), and he was slated to
perform the ceremony. But the
wedding came just at the infamous moment when a neo-Nazi
group was threatening to march
in Skokie, and Brief didn’t feel
he could leave with such a grave
threat to his community looming. Spitz found a Toronto classmate to perform the ceremony
instead.
Sue Spitz had a young daughter, Ellesa from her first marriage;
together the couple raised two
more children, Tammi and Marc
(“Is the world ready for another
Marc Spitz?” Spitz asks with a
laugh, referring to the Olympic
swimmer of the same name) and
now have five grandchildren, who
they clearly dote on.
In fact, Spitz tells a delightful story about his daughter putting on the Grateful Dead and
his toddler granddaughter asking
to hear Mozart instead. “(Grandchildren) skip a generation in
many ways,” he says, noting that
he introduced a grandson to the
joys of building model trains and
a granddaughter to opera.
W
ith his new bride, Spitz
came to Chicago,
where he found an en-
during career as a chaplain with
three VA hospitals in the area,
remaining in that position for 26
years until his retirement in
2003. He also served as the first
rabbi of Congregation Or
Shalom in Vernon Hills for the
congregation’s first four years; led
a havurah, B’nai Chai, for more
than 30 years; and served as the
rabbi of Temple Menorah in
Chicago for eight years, until it
closed its doors in 2011.
But it was as a military chaplain that Spitz feels he provided
his greatest service. At the VA
hospital, he provided care to all
patients and their families, not
just Jewish ones, although he specialized in working with Jewish
patients and held religious services for them and their families.
As he got to know and work
with Muslim patients, “I had a
special attachment to the Muslim community,” he says. “I felt
that Judaism is closest to Islam”
of all other religions. He came to
know Muslims’ requirements for
halal meat, so close to kashrut,
for prayer carpets on the floor
and “all the different type of
things that go into the spirituality of being a Muslim,” he says.
As a chaplain, he naturally
had to deal with returning vets
11
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and says the VA has been a
leader in research into the syndrome.
‘We’ve been moving in the
right direction in recent years,”
he says of the attitude toward
and treatment of troubled returning veterans. “Once we left
off having compulsory military
service and worked with a volunteer army, the public would be
cut off from what it’s like to be a
vet. They are beginning to realize
these are the people that ensure
the freedoms we enjoy. The
world is a dangerous place, and
we need a strong military to keep
us free.”
He is still disturbed, however,
by high suicide and divorce rates
among returning vets and feels
these problems need to be addressed more strongly by government. And everyone can help, he
says, by simply saying to a vet,
“Thank you for your service.”
Spitz continues to serve as
vice-commander of North Shore
Post #29 of the Jewish War Veterans, one of the largest posts in Illinois. The group meets monthly to
hear a speaker and plan ways to be
of help to veterans, he says, and
members do some service work at
VA hospitals.
Historically, he says, the
Jewish War Veterans organization played a major role in combating American anti-Semitism
by showing that Jews served in
the military in proportion to
members of other religions.
“There were rumors that
Jews weren’t patriotic, didn’t
want to serve,” he says. “That
was completely false and we
backed it up with history.”
Which of his two duties –
chaplain or congregational rabbi
– did he prefer? Spitz answers
with good humor.
“I had a ball, just a wonderful time in whatever I did professionally,” he says. “In terms of
influence, large numbers of people, creating an environment to
produce future rabbis, cantors
and educators, nothing can beat
the congregation.”
But, on the negative side,
“there’s a lot of politics, a lot of
appeasing of ego to raise the
funds you need. Chaplaincy also
has its pluses and minuses,” he
says. “You are dealing with people caught in a crisis situation.”
Yet, when working as a
chaplain, “I never took any work
home with me. I had time with
my wife, my kids, days off, time
to travel. In a congregation I felt
constantly tethered to my responsibilities.”
L
ooking back at the
changes that have occurred in the Jewish world
in the last 50 years, Spitz recalls
an article published around 1960
in Newsweek, predicting that “by
the end of the 20th century there
would be no Orthodox Judaism,”
he says. “Of course they were
wrong. We’ve seen a rejuvenation of interest in tradition. And
whoever thought the Chasidic
movement would gain the relevance it has gained in the Jewish
community?”
Yet outside of the Orthodox
world, “we’re faced today with
problems of commitment,” he
says. “Unless we find good ways
of doing it we’re going to lose this
generation of Jews who support
Jewish causes, support Israel,
congregations. (Younger Jews)
are very much into a general spirituality and often that’s at the expense of making a commitment
to their own history and roots. It
puts a tremendous pressure on
the new leadership to find ways
that are exciting” to draw Jews
back into organized Jewish life.
“Everything I can think of
has evolved,” he says. “Take Jewish music. When I was a youngster growing up, it was the old
Germanic style, operatic. Today
it’s much more toward folk
music, more modern types of
melodies,” a sea change he attributes to the Jewish camping
movement and singer-songwriters like the late Debbie Friedman.
And he wistfully recalls a
trip he took to Germany sponsored by a foundation dedicated
to helping American Jews and
rabbis find out more about the
Germany of today. Attending
services in a Berlin synagogue, he
enjoyed “the music of the synagogue, the feeling of the synagogue. It was a magnificent
building, with an organ and the
old-style classical Reform type of
service. It just filled my heart
even though it is not what we do
today. I remember it with a
tremendous amount of fondness.”
In America, “many synagogues are having trouble with
attendance,” particularly in the
liberal Jewish community, Spitz
says. “They’re constantly doing a
soft shoe with all kind of programs to bring people in, but attendance is certainly very low.
We’re constantly looking for
ways to change that trajectory.
It’s not easy, but it has made us
creative.”
His modest prescription:
“There’s a search for spirituality.
Synagogues have to find a way of
showing that what they have to
offer will heighten spirituality,
connectedness with the infinite,”
he says. Younger Jews “are not
going to be impressed by a cathedral type service. The younger
generation wants to be in smaller
groups, where they can sing
along, not have a cantor who
sings for them. Religious institutions either have to meet these
needs or suffer the consequences
of perishing or being irrelevant.”
There is one change in the
Jewish landscape that Spitz can
heartily endorse: the ordination
of women as rabbis. In fact, he
says, “I thought it was one of the
best things that ever happened to
the rabbinate.”
With the caveat that he
doesn’t mean to stereotype, he
Rabbi Spitz with a clay sculpture he did of his grandson.
says, “All of my classmates were
male. Women coming into the
rabbinate gave it a much softer
feeling than it had been in the
days when I was a student – less
competitive, more cooperative.”
Women rabbis, he says,
“asked different questions. They
are more concerned about how a
particular practice or law might
affect an individual.”
He is also impressed at how
“women created their own
midrashim, their own stories that
tell about who (in history) were
just glossed over.”
A sermon he heard about
Asenath, Joseph’s wife, impressed
him. “She is not widely known,”
he says. “(Joseph’s) generation
perpetuated Judaism and she had
a tremendous influence, but she
is just glossed over, she is just a
name, we don’t know anything
about her.”
Another midrash that interests him is about Sarah, Abraham’s wife. “What was Sarah
doing when Abraham was taking
Isaac up to the mountain?
Women are asking the questions
we should have all been asking
all along,” he says.
But it’s not just the reputation of biblical women that benefitted from women joining the
rabbinate, Spitz says. He believes
that the phenomenon has
changed the whole nature of the
institution.
“I can’t get over what has
happened,” he says. “In my generation you became a professional and you were pretty much
married to your career. You
worked it exclusively. Now you
have women saying, I can take
this position but I do have small
children, I have to be with them
at bedtime, I need to be able to
give my husband the type of attention he needs. Make it a
three-quarters time job so I can
honor the other responsibilities
that are important to me.”
That attitude, he believes,
“has freed us all. It’s made the
rabbinate a better place for the
men too. I think it’s the greatest
thing that has happened. Men
are devoting more time to their
families too. We have stay-athome dads. Men want to have
more quality time and help in
every aspect of rearing their children. I think because women
have become more free, men
have become more free. It’s a
win-win situation for all of us.”
R
abbi Spitz is fully retired
now and he and Sue
spend the coldest six
months of the year in a condo in
the Florida sunshine. He has renewed an interest in arts and
crafts from his earliest days as a
Jewish educator and is working
on several projects.
Meanwhile, out of long
habit, he ponders the Jewish future.
“You do see a certain amount
of straying away, but you also see a
certain amount of return, people
coming back whose parents had
strayed away, but they are more
interested,” he says. “It is part of
the whole dynamism. I think we
will continue as a people.”
He sees many positive signs
in Jewish life. “Whoever thought
that Israel would play such a vital
role in the non-Jewish community?” he says.
“Most Americans are sympathetic to it. I remember when
it wasn’t that way. John Foster
Dulles (Secretary of state under
President Dwight D. Eisenhower) and his State Department were not very sympathetic
to Jews. Now it’s just the opposite. There is sympathy across
party lines. The U.S. has come to
an awareness that the future of
our American way of life is
strongly dependent on a strong
Israel. Talk about changes! That
to me was a big one, and it’s great
to watch.”
In addition, he finds cheer
in the fact that Judaic studies are
much more accepted in universities than previously, and in the
Hillel movement. “Another generation would not consider sending their child to a Jewish day
school,” he says. “Now it is a possibility for many Jews. I think
we’re going to be strong.
“We’re seeing some amazing
things that just keep on unfolding,” he says. “Just as you think it
can never happen, it does happen. I’m very bullish on the future. The young people coming
out of HUC are different from
my generation. They are wonderful. I think we have a very
nice future ahead of us.”
12
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Focus on Education
In Japan, the Holocaust provides a lesson in dangers of nationalism
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA
FUKUYAMA, Japan – In
the auditorium of this country’s
main Holocaust education center, a teenage actor explains the
dilemma that faced a Japanese
diplomat during World War II.
“My conscience tells me I
must act a certain way, but doing
so means defying my commanders,” says the actor portraying
Chiune Sugihara, the Empire of
Japan’s wartime vice consul in
Lithuania. In 1940, Sugihara rescued 6,000 people by granting
them transit visas to Japan in de-
fiance of Tokyo’s orders. Some of
them survived the war.
To Western ears, the play’s
message of placing independent
thought above blind obedience
may seem banal. But in an increasingly militaristic Japan, Sugihara’s story is instructive – a tool
for sensitizing children to the
dangers of nationalism not only
in Europe, but also in Japan.
“It’s a bold position to take
in a society that has remained
ultra-conservative and extremely
hierarchical,”
said
Alain
Lewkowicz, a French Jewish journalist who has studied Japanese
society’s attitudes toward the
Holocaust.
Since it opened in 1995, the
Fukuyama Holocaust Education
Center – situated just outside
Fukuyama and about 60 miles
from Hiroshima, the site of an
atomic bomb in 1945 – has welcomed tens of thousands of Japanese schoolchildren. Founded by
Beit Shalom, a Kyoto-based
Christian pro-Israel organization,
the center relocated in 2007 to a
larger, donor-funded 20,000square-foot facility.
(Beit Shalom’s theater
troupe’s is now preparing for its
first international tour in nine
years. The group, which will perform in the United States this
spring, is composed of 20 Japanese girls who sing in Yiddish and
Hebrew about such themes as life
Members of the Small Hands choir of the Beit Shalom congregation
speaking about Anne Frank at the Holocaust Education Center in
Fukuyama. (JTA)
The next Chicago cohort
begins March 8.
For more information,
visit spertus.edu/certificate
Shout-Out
A Public Expression of Thanks, Admiration, and Respect
The Certificate in Jewish
Leadership, jointly sponsored
by Spertus Institute and
Northwestern University, is a
prestigious program that prepares
participants to skillfully lead
Jewish organizations, fostering a
bright and vibrant Jewish future.
Participants in the third Chicago
cohort recently completed
their work. These outstanding
professionals and lay leaders
will be awarded their certificates
at Spertus Institute on April 21.
We congratulate them on
Uheir accomplishment.
Becky Adelberg
Manager of JCC 20s & 30s and
JCC PresenTense, JCC of Chicago
Peter Bensinger, Jr.
Partner, Bartlit Beck Herman
Palenchar & Scott LLP and Trustee,
Spertus Institute, Lurie Children’s
Research Institute, and Chicago
Sinai Congregation
Issac Brubaker
Day & Overnight Camp Director,
Jewish Council for Youth Services
—Camp Henry Horner
Steven Dishler
Director of International Affairs,
Jewish United Fund/Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Anne Greenstein
Executive Vice President of the
Board, Board of Jewish Education
of Metropolitan Chicago and
Trustee, Institute for Jewish
Spirituality and Quest Academy
Rabbi Zev Kahn
Executive Director,
Jewish Education Team
Aleeza Lubin
Director of Jewish
Enrichment, BBYO
Debra Weiner
Associate Director, Donor
Relations and Marketing, Keshet
Lora Zygman
Spertus Institute is a partner in serving our community, supported
by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Assistant Project Manager,
Hebrew Union College
in wartime Jewish ghettos.)
At the heart of the building
is a Holocaust museum with a
display about the buildup of hate
against Jews in Germany and
replicas of the infamous Arbeit
Macht Frei sign at the Auschwitz
gate. The center also features a
replica of the Amsterdam room
inside the annex where Anne
Frank hid from the Nazis, as well
as objects that belonged to her
family. The garden is home to a
statue of the teenage diarist and a
sapling that is actually a cutting
from the tree that once grew outside the building where the
Frank family hid.
While Anne Frank is well
known in Japan, the strong alliance and similarities that connected the island nation to Nazi
Germany – during World War II,
Japan, Germany and Italy made
up the Axis alliance – are rarely
taught in schools here. Similarly,
speaking about Japanese war
crimes of the 1930s and ‘40s – including mass murder in Nanking,
China, and the forced sexual
slavery of tens of thousands
of Korean women – is largely
taboo in a country whose rightwing prime minister, Shinzo
Abe, has repeatedly visited a
shrine that was built for some of
the perpetrators.
Abe’s visits to the Yasukuni
shrine remains a major point of
contention between Tokyo and
the capital cities of Beijing and
Seoul. China and Korea have
warned Abe not to backtrack on
his partial admission to Japan’s
wartime atrocities when he delivers a speech on the occasion of the
70th anniversary of the war’s end.
Abe has promised “a departure from the postwar regime”
and said he regretted that he had
not visited Yasukuni sooner.
Meanwhile, he has been expanding Japan’s military capabilities
to unprecedented levels after
ending in July a ban on operations abroad that had been established soon after World War
II ended. His government is also
encouraging military recruitment
and exploring for the first time in
decades the possibility of acquiring offensive weapons.
Against this backdrop, independent NGOs like the Holocaust Education Center are
“taking up the educational task
that the government is neglecting on purpose because it wants
to promote a more nationalistic
agenda,” said Naoki Maruyama,
a professor of history at Japan’s
Meiji Gakuin University.
The passage in 2003 of controversial education reforms that
reintroduced such nationalistic
elements as obligatory anthem
singing, patriotism lessons and
the flying of the national flag in
schools, he added, suggests that
it might be a while before schools
tackle any of these divisive issues
in a manner comparable to what
has been done in postwar Germany.
“We have not given much
attention to educating children
to think about why the war happened and how to prevent a reoccurrence,”
said
Makoto
Otsuka, a reverend at Beit
Shalom and the center’s director.
“More than anything else, this is
what the Holocaust Education
Center tries to do.”
Japanese educators, he
added, typically teach about the
use by the United States of
atomic weapons in Japan to
“show how much Japan suffered
as the victim,” but have failed to
follow the example of Germany,
where “it is now required to look
back objectively at the facts of
history.”
Neither the Holocaust nor
Japan’s wartime occupation of
CONTINUED
O N N E X T PAG E
13
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Focus on Education
CONTINUED
F RO M P R E V I O U S PAG E
Asian countries and human rights
abuses against prisoners of war are
mandatory subjects in the national
history curriculum of schools.
And the Holocaust Education Center here does not deal
directly with Japan’s war crimes
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either, said Akio Yoshida, the
museum’s deputy director, citing
the “need to focus on that
uniqueness of the Holocaust to
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Japanese troops in Korea and
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S E E E D U C AT I O N
ON
PAG E 1 4
Instead, Yoshida said he
hopes that teaching the Holocaust in Japan “will expose chil-
dren to the process of indoctrination that preceded the murders, and leave it to them to
make the final conclusion about
which path they want their society to take.”
BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY:
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Improving electric
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Prof. Zaban and his team at Bar-Ilan University’s
Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials
have developed an affordable, longer-lasting AluminumAir battery for electric cars.
He has sold this battery technology to the Israeli start-up
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To learn more about Prof. Zaban’s research,
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Jewish and Zionist values are central to Bar-Ilan’s initiatives in the
sciences, law, nanotechnology, engineering, business, the humanities
and its Medical School in Safed.
14
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Focus on Education
Education
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
13
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15
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
CHICAGO ELECTION 2015
Three Jews running for office in Chicago
Re-elect
DEBRA SILVERSTEIN
Our Alderman • 50th Ward
Real Progress, Real Results
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
Managing Editor
The lament that few Jews
are entering local politics continues to ring true. In the upcoming Feb. 24 city of Chicago
contests, just three Jews are running for office, two for aldermanic posts and one for mayor,
of course, as Rahm Emanuel
seeks reelection to a second term.
In the 50th Ward, which includes the heavily Jewish West
Rogers Park neighborhood, Ald.
Debra Silverstein, who first won
her office four years ago after a
runoff with the ward’s longtime
alderman, the late Bernie Stone,
is running for reelection.
Silverstein says she has accomplished change for the better
in many areas of the Far North
Side ward, considered to be the
most diverse in the city in terms
of ethnicity and religion.
“I’m very proud of what the
50th Ward looks like four years
after I became alderman. There
are huge improvements,” she said
in a recent phone interview.
She cited improved relationships with police commanders in the ward and said she
attends every CAPS (Chicago
Alternative Policing Strategy)
meeting. “We have business
owners meeting with the police
commander monthly. We go
through issues and encourage
everybody to call the police” if
they witness suspicious activity,
she said.
She also cites a liquor moratorium, in which businesses can’t
sell alcoholic packaged goods in
the ward.
Silverstein said she has also
taken measures to curtail antiSemitic incidents in the ward
after several synagogues and
homes were targeted with antiSemitic graffiti.
“I’ve met with the rabbis of
all the synagogues multiple times
and called in the principals of
the day schools, encouraging
them to be in touch with the police and give the police blueprints of their building so the
police know how to get in,” she
said. “The (police) commander
says the first step in being safe is
to have a plan, and we’ve accomplished that and are continuing to build on that. Everybody
should be aware, be careful and
call the police” when necessary.
One particularly contentious issue under Stone’s
tenure was the condition of
Devon Avenue, which is home
to numerous ethnic restaurants
and shops. Silverstein said she
has made many positive changes
there, including a multi-milliondollar streetscape improvement
• Fighting Crime
• Developing Our Community
• Fostering Educational Improvement
• Improving Our Economy
Mark #51
Partial List of Endorsements:
• Chicago Sun Times
• Chicago Federation of Labor
• Fraternal Order of Police
• Citizen Action/Illinois
• Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle
• Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
• Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
• State Senator Ira Silverstein
• State Representative Lou Lang
• Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin
Developing a Community for All
Ald. Debra Silverstein
Mark Thomas
that includes widened sidewalks,
space for restaurants to have outdoor cafes, newer lighting,
bumpouts (sidewalk extensions
so pedestrians have more room)
and increased safety measures.
“For the past 30 years nothing has been done on Devon,”
she said. “Now it’s a national
marketplace. If you drive down
Devon, you see license plates
from all over the Midwest. We’re
trying to get more businesses to
come and showcase the street.
For the past two years it’s continued to grow. There’s a farmers
market but we consider it a community market.”
To decrease crime in the
ward, Silverstein said, she regularly holds multi-jurisdictional
task force meetings with Chicago
police, Evanston police and the
Cook County sheriff’s office.
“Officers are checking on
parolees, issuing warrants for outstanding arrests, conducting
prostitution stings and checking
stores for problems with selling
cigarettes or liquor illegally.
These efforts have been very successful,” she said.
In the educational area, “I
have very strong relationships
with all the principals in the
ward,” she said. “All of the (public) schools have received a Plus1 (highest) rating, and I was able
to allocate over $7 million to the
public schools. Each one of the
schools got something – air conditioning, new lockers, new
lighting or playground equipment.”
In addition, she said, all
eight parks in the ward received
new equipment, and at Indian
Boundary Park, a state-of-the-art
nature center replaced a dilapidated zoo.
“Before I became alderman,
only about five streets had been
resurfaced in three years,” Silverstein, formerly an accountant
and owner of a tax service, said.
“I have resurfaced over 100
streets and obtained $1 million
in state funding for piggyback
lighting,” streetlights that have
two lighting sources.
For the future, if reelected,
Silverstein said she wants to
“continue moving in the right direction and make the 50th Ward
an even better place. I plan to
work on economic development,
get all of our businesses filled and
eliminate any vacant storefronts
and buildings, and also make sure
the community stays safe. We
have mosques, temples, synagogues – it’s a very diverse area,
and we need to make sure everybody stays safe.”
In the last four years, “people realized I have an open door
policy,” she said. “I have open office hours Monday evenings and
I’m out in the community all the
time.” She urged residents to
contact her office with any issues
they may have.
Opposing Silverstein on the
ballot is Peter Sifnotis, a 28-yearold former Marine who is currently a student at Northeastern
Illinois University.
In the 44th Ward, which encompasses the Lakeview neighborhood, Mark Thomas is
challenging Ald. Tom Tunney, a
restaurant owner who has been
alderman for 12 years.
Thomas is the longtime
owner of The Alley, Taboo
Tabou and other “counterculture
lifestyle” shops in the Belmont
and Clark area and has been a
Lakeview resident, entrepreneur
and community activist for
decades.
In a recent phone interview,
Thomas said that in previous
campaigns he supported Tunney
and helped him get his campaign
signs up. He said he has been
friendly with Tunney for 25 years
and invited him to be on the
board of the Lakeview Merchants Association, which
Thomas said he started 25 years
ago.
The relationship with Tunney began to fray, he said, about
three years ago when Tunney
SEE ELECTION
ON
PAG E 1 6
Visit Debra at www.DebraSilversteinForAlderman.com
or call 773.465.1216
16
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Election
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
15
tried to bring a Wal-Mart to the
community, a move that Thomas
said 88 percent of residents were
against. “That was the beginning
of when Tom and I came to a
parting of the road,” he said.
Thomas said the main reason he is running is to cut down
on crime in the ward.
“The community is in trouble. Crime is horrible,” he said.
“Belmont and Clark is the third
worst CAPS area on the North
Side of Chicago. Business has
gone down. What is causing all
the empty stores in this community?”
He said the neighborhood
has lost its sense of community,
and “everything comes back to
that. The biggest issue in the
election is the single fact that for
us to fix the economy for the
44th Ward is that the first thing
to do is clean up the crime,” he
said.
To help give residents more
of a voice, Thomas said, he has
developed a website in which all
registered voters in the ward
could vote on issues. “It would
return a sense of democracy to
the people,” he said. “The community would speak up about
what they want in their community.”
In terms of crime, he said, he
would hire off-duty police, “put a
four-way camera on the roof of
their car and have them drive
around during high-crime periods, and dial 911 when they saw
people acting up. This is a district of crimes of opportunity –
somebody grabbing an iPhone or
purse, somebody forgetting to
lock their garage door, somebody
climbing in a window.”
He said he would also
launch a trolley service running
through the whole neighborhood
so people wouldn’t have to drive,
easing congestion and parking
problems. “We can rebuild foot
traffic once people believe it is
safe,” he said.
On the controversial Wrigley
Field renovation project, much of
which Tunney has opposed,
Thomas said that although “the
Cubs need to be more polite to
their neighbors,” he would have
tried to reach a private compromise over the plans rather than
the “battle” Tunney got into.
“This (running for alderman) is the last thing I wanted to
do,” Thomas, whose family attended Anshe Emet Synagogue
when he was growing up, said.
“But I am watching my community be in terrible, terrible straits
– crime, empty storefronts. (Tunney) has run unopposed since
2003, and all he seems to be interested in is big developers,
while small business is suffering.”
Also in the race in the 44th
Ward is Scott Davis, a project
manager and Republican committeeman for the ward.
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Deli
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
2
of this city’s hip 9th and 9th
across the street from a yoga studio, and decorated with assistance from his wife. The 9th
South Deli opened in February
2011 and promptly earned positive reviews from local publications (albeit with complaints
about the “New York prices”).
Sustaining a deli in Salt
Lake City is no simple task, especially given that the Jewish population in all of Utah is under
6,000. Dornbush retired in 1978,
Williams
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
9
Does he do it straight in the anchor
chair or reporting from wherever
the breaking news story of the day
is? That remains to be seen.”
In the meantime, Williams
has to think hard about what he
does with his time, Loeser said.
“He is a multimillionaire
who has been given six months
of penance,” Loeser said. “He
can’t just be seen in the social
scene. You can’t just do rest and
relaxation. The narrative matters, and he’s got to have a good
answer for what he did on his
spring and summer vacation.”
As for NBC, the six months
buys the network some important flexibility, Loeser said. NBC
executives can use the time to
Education
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
13
that the creative process of
midrash–learning, seeking, excavating, interpreting, wrestling
with, and rereading Jewish
text–empowers one to read and
write the text of one’s own life.
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In our partnership with the
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shutting down his place. The city
had trouble maintaining a deli
afterward. The Chicago Deli,
which opened in 1994, lasted
only a few years before closing.
The market became even
more crowded when Feldman’s
deli opened in late 2012. (A
third Jewish deli, Kosher on the
Go, largely caters to observant
Jewish customers.) Feldman’s
owner, Mike Feldman, who is
Jewish and grew up in Newark,
N.J., said that a visit to 9th
South left him convinced that
there was still an opening in the
city for a truly traditional deli.
“The difference is that we
grew up with deli, so we do all
the traditional things the oldfashioned way,” Feldman said.
“There’s a couple times when
I’ve been in his deli, and I could
tell he didn’t grow up with it.”
Feldman cited the rye bread
and the mustard, in particular, as
not meeting his standard for authenticity. (9th South offers a
choice of dijon, yellow or whole
grain mustard, while Feldman’s
uses a spicy brown deli-style mustard.)
Harmsen acknowledges that
the opening of Feldman’s has
likely cut into his business.
“I think Salt Lake is a little
small to have two Jewish delis, but
our doors are still open,” he said.
run trials for a replacement anchor without locking into a longterm contract. It’s a strategy,
Loeser observed, that NBC could
have used for “Meet the Press,”
which still hasn’t found the right
permanent replacement for the
late Tim Russert.
Steve Rabinowitz, a former
media strategist for President
Clinton and now president of
Rabinowitz Communications, a
Jewish-heavy PR shop in Washington, said that by issuing such a
harsh suspension, NBC executives showed how seriously they
take the credibility of their news
operation and their responsibility to the public.
But Williams’ response fell
short, Rabinowitz said. “The onair apology was the right thing to
do, but then he went into radio
silence,” Rabinowitz said.
“What he did wrong was he
didn’t make himself available for
aggressive interviews, where people could really see his angst, the
pain, his remorse, the regret,”
Rabinowitz said. “They should
have called Letterman or gone
on a competitor’s air or done an
interview with the media critic
for The New York Times.”
As for whether Williams’
original apology for distorting
the Iraq War story was dissembling or not, Rabinowitz said he’s
not so sure.
“When I read his apology, I
thought it was plausible,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s possible that
over time he started out telling
the story accurately and then it
muddled and then it became outright untrue.”
Whether or not Williams
can reestablish the public’s trust
– and whether NBC will give
him the chance to do so – remains to be seen.
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online. Visit us at spertus.edu.
17
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
By Joseph Aaron
CONTINUED
F RO M PAG E
18
returned from the Munich Security Conference where I met with some
very senior U.S. officials. The way they describe it they are ballistic
about Netanyahu. This mindset is common wall-to-wall in all corridors
of the [U.S.] administration; the Armed Service Committee, the intelligence community, the State Department, the Defense Department.
I heard only one thing, and that is that this shouldn’t happen.”
Bibi’s speech will not change one mind. Bibi’s speech will say
nothing he hasn’t said before. All Bibi’s speech has done is alienate
Democrats, enraged the Obama administration, worried Israelis, and
made him seem like a conniving thug oblivious to the feelings of even
his most ardent supporters.
And yet, while it’s bad enough that Bibi is damaging Israel’s standing in the world, even worse is that he is portraying Israel as a place
to run away to, trying to scare Jews into making aliyah, alienating both
European governments and European Jews in the process.
Barely had the terrorist attack at a synagogue in Copenhagen occurred that Bibi went into full fear mode. “Jews have been murdered
again on European soil only because they were Jews and this wave of
terrorist attacks – including murderous anti-Semitic attacks – is expected to continue ... We are preparing and calling for the absorption
of mass immigration from Europe.”
It didn’t take long for true Jews to respond. Jews should come to
Israel out of desire, not fear, said former Israeli president Shimon Peres.
“Come because you want to live in Israel.“
“Terror is not a reason to move to Israel,” said Denmark Chief
Rabbi Yair Melchior. “People from Denmark move to Israel because
they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism …
If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all
run to a deserted island,” Melchior said.
Danish Jews were angry, just as French Jews were when Bibi did
the same thing after the terrorist attack at a kosher supermarket in
Paris, because they have seen that, this time, their governments are
with them, all the way.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt visited the synagogue, laying a bouquet of flowers at its gate, and vowing that Denmark “will do everything” it can to protect its Jewish community. “Jews
are a very important part of Danish society,” she said. “I say to the Jewish community - you are not alone … The Jewish community have
been in this country for centuries. They belong in Denmark, they are
part of the Danish community and we wouldn’t be the same without
the Jewish community in Denmark.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said “My message to French
Jews is the following: France is wounded with you and France does not
want you to leave … I regret Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks. Being
in the middle of an election campaign doesn’t mean you authorize
yourself to make just any type of statement.”
French president Francoise Hollande called Netanyahu encouraging European Jews to move to Israel, “crude electioneering … The
comments are not helpful and I think people will ignore them …
We’re not prepared to tolerate a situation in this country or in any
country in Europe where any Jews feel they have to leave.”
Bibi has turned Israeli into such a corrupt, coarse place, one where
he spends lavishly on himself while millions live in poverty, where he
ignores the law, where he alienates its best friend for his own political ends, where he promotes aliyah by trying to terrify Jews.
He also doesn’t seem to get that if you scare Jews into leaving,
many, as have a lot of French Jews, go to Australia and Quebec and
the United States, and that many of those who do move to Israel make
“Boeing Aliyah,” meaning they live in Israel on the weekends but fly
to France each week to their job.
But Bibi isn’t about what is Jewishly right or what is the smart
thing to do. Bibi is all about scaring Jews, whether it’s Jews in Europe
about anti-Semitism or Jews in America about Iran. His only concern
is himself, his only way of operating is spreading fear, not inspiration.
In hearing Bibi call for a mass exodus of Jews from Europe, Jewish journalist Rob Eshman called his words “cowardly.”
“The idea that when trouble comes, we run to Israel just doesn’t sit
right for many reasons. First, Israel is not safer for Jews. I can think of
many good, positive reasons to immigrate to Israel, but avoiding terrorism isn’t one of them. Statistically, you are far less likely to die violently from war or terror in Denmark, Paris or London than in Israel …
“If Bibi were concerned solely with the safety of Europe’s Jews, he
would urge them to go to the United States, where anti-Semitism is
negligible, and where, since 1948, some 330,000 Israelis have found
safe, comfortable homes. It surely doesn’t help Bibi’s cause to be
spending half his time telling Jews to run to Israel, and the other half
warning that any day now, an Iranian nuke could obliterate Tel Aviv
… The civilized world has faced down fanaticism before on European
soil, and it can do so again. If the battle is not yet lost, why does Netanyahu sound like he’s surrendering?”
Because Bibi is, in fact, a coward. And that’s the nicest thing I can
think to say about him.
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The Chicago Jewish News
gratefully acknowledges the generous support of
RABBI MORRIS
AND
DELECIA ESFORMES
18
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Death Notices
Nina Batterman, beloved
daughter of Irene (Dr. Sheldon) Siegel and the late
William Zev Battermen. Loving sister of Alyssa Rocke and
Pamela (Jarrod) Spadino.
Cherished aunt of Marlee
Rocke, Kori (Ronnie) Aquino,
Julian Greenwell, Chase, and
Wylie Spadino. In lieu of flowers remembrances to Lakeside Congregation 1221
County Line Rd., Highland
Park, IL 60035 or Ann &
Robert H. Lurie Children’s
Hospital of Chicago, 225 East
Chicago Avenue, Box 4,
Chicago, IL 60611 or your preferred charity would be appreciated. Arrangements by
Mitzvah Memorial Funerals.
Robert S. Brody, age 86,
passed away peacefully of natural causes with his family by
his side. He is survived by his
beloved wife of 60 years Eda
(nee Josephs), his four children, David (Barbara Mendelson), Richard (Beate Dafeldecker) Joan (Thilo Garkisch)
and Michael (Cheryl). He will
be missed dearly by his ten
grandchildren
Elizabeth,
Rachel, Adam, Emma, Isaac,
Leo, Mimi, Felix, Josephine
and Aaron. Born in Chicago,
he later moved to Skokie to
raise his family, where he
made many lifelong friends.
He enjoyed the practice of law
for more than 50 years, read-
ing World War II histories and
eating butter pecan ice cream.
Quite the extrovert, Bob had a
quick wit and was known for
his outgoing, easy personality.
In lieu of flowers, donations
in Bob’s name can be made to
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Arrangements by Mitzvah
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Lester Charmatz, age 86.
Beloved husband of Joyce Kagan Charmatz, nee Simon
and the late Patricia Charmatz, nee Sadie. Cherished
father of Andrew Charmatz
(Sara Witt) and James Char-
matz. Loving step-father of
Irv (Ali) Kagan and Jeffrey
(Amy) Kagan. Devoted grandfather of Phoebe, Peri,
Sammy, Joey, Benjamin, Sophie and Noah. Dear brother
of the late Arthur (survived
by Barbara) Charmatz. Contributions in Lester’s name to
the Jewish National Fund or
Keep Chicago Beautiful
would be appreciated. Arrangements by Mitzvah Memorial Funerals.
Sarane E. Katz (nee Engberg).
Devoted and loving wife of
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Proud mother of Dr. Aron (Diane), Robin (residing in Israel)
and Marty (Kathy) (residing in
California). Adoring grand-
mother of 8:
Gaby and
Michael Katz, Rabbi Zak,
Adam and Zoe Kaplan, Kayla,
Talia and Brooke Katz. Dear
sister of Stephen Engberg. Dr.
William Kayen, devoted family
friend. Contributions may be
sent to Keshet, The Chicago
Botanic Garden or North Shore
Congregation Israel. Arrangements by Mitzvah Memorial
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By
Joseph
Aaron
Bibi is terrifying
It is hard to exaggerate how destructive to Judaism Prime Minister Netanyahu is being, both internally and externally.
Yes, here I go again pointing out how the leader of the Jewish state
is doing such damage to us. Lots of Jews are concerned today about
ISIS. But the fact is the far greater threat to the well-being of the Jewish people is BIBI.
No, I’m not being unfair and no I’m not overblowing it. Bibi
trades in fear, wallows in the negative, behaves without a trace of concern for what is right, what is moral, what is Jewish.
Let me point to two trivial examples to show how, in ways big and
small, Bibi acts the opposite of how we have a right to expect the
leader of the Jewish people to act.
The first example: it is against Israeli law to feature children under 15 in political ads. And yet the first ad Bibi released in the current campaign featured four children well under the age of 15. When
it was pointed it that he broke the law, Bibi said the commercial wasn’t meant to be aired, was released by mistake.
Liar. It was a commercial that was very slickly produced by his
campaign. If it’s against the law to use kids, and if he in fact didn’t intend to release it, why did he make it in the first place? And yet there’s
Bibi himself standing in a kindergarten class with all those kids. And
to make it even worse, when Israel’s election commission ordered him
to remove the ad from the internet, he did not. Beyond that, he released another commercial showing him sitting on a sofa, eating popcorn and watching on TV the very commercial with him and the kids.
And there he sits laughing.
Maybe a small thing but here you have the prime minister of Israel shamelessly violating the law, then lying, then mocking his own
criminality. Some example that sets for the people of Israel. One of the
reasons that in the last month alone, more than eight top commanders of the Israeli police have been arrested for corruption and sexual harassment.
Example two. A report has just been released showing the incredible amount of money Bibi and his wife spend on their makeup,
their hair, on takeout food and drink. Taxpayer money. Showing just
how fast and loose he plays with the peoples’ money, the report revealed that patio furniture paid for by the state and intended to be
used at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, instead
wound up at one of Bibi’s private homes, in the superrich city of Caesarea. Yes, named after Caesar.
But far more serious, Bibi seems to relish insulting and deceiving
Israel’s best friend in the world, the United States. This week we
learned from John Boehner’s own lips that he purposely didn’t tell
Obama administration officials about his invitation to Bibi to address
Congress and that Bibi went along with the subterfuge.
Does Bibi not see that going behind the back of the president of
the United States, colluding with his political enemies, is not the way
to win friends and influence people? What is nuts is that Bibi claims
he is duty bound to come talk to Congress because Iran is such a threat
to Israel. Does he really think doing what he’s doing is the way to get
the United States to agree with him? Did he not see a CNN poll which
showed that 63 percent of Americans side with Obama, and believe
that Boehner should not have invited Netanyahu without first informing the president?
Does Bibi not see how the senior Democrat in the Senate, two
Jewish senators, Rep. Charlie Rangel, a longtime supporter of Israel,
House icons John Lewis and James Clyburn, all are intending to boycott his speech, as is Vice President Biden?
Does alienating supporters of Israel help his case or hurt it? And
what can Bibi possibly say that he hasn’t said a million times before?
Everyone knows his views on Iran. All his giving the speech is doing
is turning friends into foes.
As former U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Jew, Martin Indyk put
it, “One has to think about what exactly is going to be achieved by
this speech. Is it really going to turn around the minds of the president
of the United States and his negotiators? Will they suddenly wake up
and say, ‘Oh we’re negotiating a bad deal here, silly us, we’ll change
our minds’? Will it convince a veto-proof majority in the Senate that
they should act in a way to sink the deal? … The speech is not going
to be able to achieve anything.”
Added Indyk, Israel’s enemies are currently “celebrating because
they love to see a split between the United States and Israel.”
And a split Bibi has wrought. Reported one Israeli journalist, “I just
SEE BY JOSEPH
AARON
ON
PAG E 1 7
19
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
Community Calendar
Saturday
seum.org or (847) 967-4800.
February 21
Congregation Beth Shalom
holds Dancing With The
Stars dance competition. 7
p.m., 3433 Walters Ave.,
Northbrook. $18 advance,
$25 door. (847) 498-4100.
Beth Hillel Congregation
Bnai Emunah shows film
documentary, “This Old
Song” about the Bene
Menasha and “The Matchmaker.” 7:30 p.m. 3220 Big
Tree Lane, Wilmette. $10.
(847) 256-1213.
Sunday
February 22
Congregation Beth Judea
Men’s Club holds World
Wide Wrap followed by
complimentary breakfast.
8:15 a.m., Route 83 and
Hilltop Road, Long Grove.
[email protected]
or (847) 634-0777.
Jewish Child and Family
Services presents Help and
Healing Workshop: Jewish
Mindfulness led by Rabbi
Jordan Bendat-Appell, Orot
Center for New Jewish
Learning. 10:30 a.m.-noon,
location to be determined.
[email protected] or
(847) 745-5404.
Jewish Genealogical Society
of Illinois holds meeting
featuring Zalman Usiskin
speaking on “Making a
Family Tree Coffee Table
Book.” 2 p.m., Temple BethEl, 3610 Dundee Road,
Northbrook. (Facility opens
12:30 p.m. to use library
materials and ask questions.) (312) 666-0100.
Spertus Institute for Jewish
Learning and Leadership
presents Yohanan Petrovsky-Stern speaking on
“The Golden Age Shtetl: A
New History of Jewish Life
in East Europe.” 2 p.m., 610
S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
$18, $10 Spertus members,
$8 students. spertus.edu or
(312) 322-1773.
Illinois Holocaust Museum
and Education Center hosts
“Through Soviet Jewish
Eyes,” exhibition opening
event and book signing. 2-4
p.m., 9603 Woods Drive,
Skokie. Free with Museum
admission. Reservations required. ILHolocaustmu-
Temple Sholom of Chicago
presents concert featuring
its Shir Shalom Choir joined
by Kol Zimrah and the Jewish Community Singers of
Metropolitan Chicago honoring Cantor Aviva Katzman’s 25 years at the
temple. 3:30 p.m., 3480 N.
Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
RSVP, [email protected]
JUF/Jewish Federation hosts
“PJ Shares: Helping Our
Community,” Purim program for families of children 2-8 with intellectual/
developmental disabilities.
4-5:30 p.m., Takiff Center,
999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe. $10 family.
juf.org/pjshares.
Moriah Congregation hosts
former U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations John R.
Bolton at its Biennial Distinguished Speaker Event.
5 p.m., 200 Taub Drive,
Deerfield. $40. moriahcong.org or (847) 948-5340.
Federation of Jewish Men’s
Clubs hosts Man and Youth
of the Year Dinner for
Chicago/Milwaukee area
honorees. 5-8 p.m., Beth
Hillel Congregation Bnai
Emunah, 3220 Big Tree
Lane, Wilmette. $45. Registration, http://www.midwestregionfjmc.org/event-r
egistration.
Seymour J. Abrams Cheder
Lubavitch Hebrew Day
School and Philip and Rebecca Esformes Cheder
Lubavitch Girls School hold
“Celebration 36,” honoring
David and Lois Temkin, Eyal
and Lee Sigler and Rabbi
Dovid and Rivky Flinkenstein. 5:30 p.m., Loews
Chicago O’Hare, 5300 N.
River Road, Rosemont.
$150. Reservations, (847)
675-6777.
Yeshiva University Torah
Mitzion Kollel of Chicago
hosts annual dinner with
shiur by Rabbi Steven Burg.
5:30 p.m., Holiday Inn
Chicago North Shore, 5300
W. Touhy, Skokie. $125, $90
under age 30. RSVP, (773)
973-6557.
Continuum Theater presents staged reading of “I’m
Not Like You” by Itta Chana
Englander. 7 p.m., Stage
773, 1225 W. Belmont,
Chicago. $10. Tickets, continuumtheater.org or (800)
838-3006 Ext. 1.
Monday
February 23
Congregation Beth Judea
Men’s Club holds informal
get- together for adult
males. 7 p.m., The Beer
Market, 1270 S. Milwaukee
Ave., Vernon Hills.
[email protected]
com or (847) 634-0777.
SPOTLIGHT
Temple Jeremiah holds Purim Carnival
for Families with Special Needs
followed by Purim Shpiel based on the
theme of “Frozen.” 10-10:45 a.m.
Sunday, March 8, 937 Happ Road,
Northfield. RSVP encouraged to Caren, [email protected] Include
name, number attending, age of the individual with special needs
and nature of the special needs.
7:30-9 p.m., Glenview
Grind, 989 Waukegan Road,
Glenview. (847) 729-0111.
Tuesday
February 24
Keturah Hadassah holds
Game Day Party to raise
funds for Sarah Wetsman
Davidson Hospital Tower
surgical equipment fund. 1
p.m., Mayer Kaplan JCC,
5050 Church St., Skokie.
$18. (773) 761-6862.
Thursday
February 26
CJE Senior Life presents
“Policy, Advocacy and You:
Success in Community Living” celebrating Jewish Disability Awareness Month
highlighting success stories
from older adults and people with disabilities in Illinois. 8:30 a.m.-noon,
National Louis University,
5202 Old Orchard Road,
Skokie. Registration and
special accommodations,
(773) 508-1121.
Northbrook Community
Synagogue’s Women’s
Havurah hosts ChallahMaking Event with folk
dancing while dough rises.
Ingredients and bread-making bags provided. 12:30
p.m., 2548 Jasper Court,
Northbrook. $5. [email protected]
northbrookcommunitysynagogue.org or (847) 5099204.
Saturday
February 28
Beit Yichud presents “Shir
Share Shabbat,” a new davening experience. 10 a.m.,
6932 N. Glenwood Ave.,
Chicago. [email protected]
org.
Debbie Sue Goodman, Jewish author and comedian,
presents An Evening of
Comedy and Spoken Word.
Sunday
March 1
Ezra-Habonim, the Niles
Township Jewish Congregation presents Purim Shpiel,
“Lil Orphan Esther.” 8 p.m.,
also 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1
and Sunday, March 8. 4500
W. Dempster, Skokie. $20
adults, $10 children under
12, advance; $25 adults, $12
children under 12, door.
(847) 675-4141.
Congregation Beth Judea
presents Purim Shushan
Wonderland for pre-K and
younger members and nonmembers (with adult); wear
costumes for grogger making and Purim play followed by special tot hour.
10 a.m. Route 83 and Hilltop Road, Long Grove.
RSVP [email protected] bethjudea.org
or (847) 634-0777.
Libenu Foundation hosts
5th annual “Share the
Dream” Gala featuring musical guests Rogers Park. 811 p.m., private residence.
$125, $65 Young Leadership. Reservations and location, libenufoundation.org
or (847) 982-0340.
Beth Hillel Congregation
Bnai Emunah holds Purim
Playstation Carnival. 11:30
a.m.-2 p.m. Dress as your
favorite video hero. Lunch
available for purchase. 3220
Big Tree Lane, Wilmette.
(847) 256-1213.
20
Chicago Jewish News - Feb. 20-26, 2015
THE ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST
MUSEUM & EDUCATION CENTER
IS DEDICATED TO PRESERVING THE
LEGACY OF THE HOLOCAUST BY
HONORING THE MEMORIES OF THOSE
WHO WERE LOST AND BY TEACHING
UNIVERSAL LESSONS THAT COMBAT
HATRED, PREJUDICE AND INDIFFERENCE.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015
5:30pm
6:30pm
R ECEP T ION
DI N N ER
H YAT T R E G E N C Y C H I C AG O
2015
Humanitarian
Awards Dinner
HONOR I NG
Renée and Lester Crown
H U M A N I TA R I A N S W H O H AV E M A D E
A S I G N I F I C A N T I M PAC T
O N C H I C AG O A N D O U R N AT I O N
KEYNOTE SPEAKER
WALTER ISAACSON, CEO, THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N
& R E S E RVAT I O N S
CALL
847.967.4821
EMAIL
[email protected]
V ISIT
HUMANITARIANAWARDSDINNER.ORG
DINNER CHAIRS
RENÉE FLEMING
JOHN W. AND JEANNE M. ROWE
WALTER ISAACSON
BUD SELIG
HANK PAULSON
MSGR. KENNETH VELO
J.B. PRITZKER
MILES WHITE
THE ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST MUSEUM & EDUCATION CENTER IS A PARTNER IN SERVING OUR
COMMUNITY, SUPPORTED BY THE JEWISH UNITED FUND/JEWISH FEDERATION.