Volume 3, Number 133
"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

Today's Postings:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

{Click on a link to jump to the corresponding story. Or, you may scroll leisurely through our report}

In defending against Islamist terror, Israel has been more successful than the U.S. in keeping casualties down ... by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem
In the context of rising tensions between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, it is appropriate to look at some details. READ MORE

Denouncing the racists in our own Jewish community ... by Gary Rotto in San Diego
I'm waiting folks. See, my friend Henry warned me about the video. "Vile, racist rhetoric is being spewed forth from the mouths of drunk Jewish students in Jerusalem," he said.READ MORE

International, national news and publicity of Jewish interest

Two groups file briefs to reinstate cross as veterans memorialREAD MORE
Muslim women must be permitted to wear their head scarves, new Justice Department suit asserts READ MORE
New tunnels to be built under Hudson in $8.7 billion projectREAD MORE
Cardin, Hastings express worry over far-right gains in Europe READ MORE
Feinstein, Schumer and others introduce 'Cash for Clunkers' Act READ MORE
RJC to Obama administration: Will you honor past American agreements with Israel?READ MORE

Theology often divides, but ethics can unite humanity... by Rabbi Dow Marmur in Toronto
Jews recently celebrated Shavuot, which in the Christian calendar became Pentecost. Though originally an agricultural festival, Judaism knows it mainly as the anniversary of receiving the Torah, God's teaching.READ MORE

The Jews Down Under... a roundup of Australian Jewish news by Garry Fabian in Melbourne
Australia can to do more to stop nuclear Iran, Levitt tells council READ MORE
Court gives Toben more time READ MORE
Blog offers different Jewish community voices READ MORE
Community welcomes Government tough stance on Race Hate crimes READ MORE
Limmud-Oz offers variety of topics READ MORE

In Search of The Partisans of Vilna, Part III ... by Laurel Corona in Vilna, Lithuania
We set out on one last mission for the day—to find Zawalna Street and the house where Michael’s mother, Zenia, lived before the war.  As we walk down Spitalna Street, still inside the ghetto boundaries, our guide says “Look up!”READ MORE


Used book sale will benefit Astor Library at Lawrence Family JCC READ MORE
Rides & Smiles for seniors expands to College/ Del Cerro areas of SD READ MORE
College Avenue Older Adult Center tells July special events schedule READ MORE
An autograph to remember READ MORE

A modern story we can recall at our Passover seders ... review of Slave ... by David Strom in San Diego
Slavery is “alive and well” in different parts of the globe.  Mende Nazir lost her freedom at the age of twelve. READ MORE


The Bible in Pop Culture
Bring forth living creatures. Genesis 1:24 SEE IMAGE


Remembering Hal Wingard, who was the definition of a mensch ... from Mo Bailey in San DiegoREAD MORE
Jewish Cyber-Referrals ... from Gerry Burstain in Escondido and Dan Schaffer in San Diego READ MORE

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History

Deceased {Louis Singer; Max Feinberg and Beatrice A. Silerman}READ MORE
B.I. Sisterhood Mother-Child Lunch READ MORE

Local Women Attend National Convention
Luncheon Honors Ida Nasatir-VIEW PHOTO
J.W. V. Aux., No. 185 READ MORE
Calendar READ MORE
Historic Ad-Balboa Hairdressers VIEW AD

We continue our examination of Jewish entertainers

Sarah Ramos is the new girl in school in "Runaway" TV series VIEW VIDEO
Daryl Sabara in the "Wizards of Waverly Place" with Selena Gomez VIEW VIDEO
Evan Sabara, Daryl Sabara and Dmitry Salita do a promo for Chabad's" One Shabbat, One World.VIEW VIDEO
Adiel Stein plays a Catholic boy (ironically) who tries to convert a dying Jewish boy in "Stolen Summer"VIEW VIDEO


Gary Rotto's story in this issue denouncing Jewish racists was right on the mark. The video in question, showing inebriated Jewish youngsters denouncing President Obama in the crudest slurs made those of us who saw it feel nothing but revulsion.

America's Vacation Center
Balloon Utopia
Congregation Beth Israel
Jewish Family Service; Car Mitzvah
Lawrence Family JCC
Math Is Easy
Ohr Shalom Synagogue
San Diego Community Colleges
San Diego County Library
San Diego Jewish Arts Festival
San Diego Jewish Chamber
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School
Therapy in Motion Inc.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
United Jewish Federation
XLNC-1 Radio

Each day's issue may be dedicated by readers—or by the publisher—in other people's honor or memory. Past dedications may be found at the bottom of the index for the "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" page.

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In defending against Islamist terror, Israel has been more successful than the U.S. in keeping casualties down

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM-In the context of rising tensions between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, it is appropriate to look at some details. They may not convince Obama enthusiasts to question whether the president is on the right track. They will not overturn the view held by many that the settlements represent all that is short-sighted and wrong-headed about the Israeli regime. Facts are only one of the things considered by partisans. Nonetheless, they are worth something.

They indicate that Israel has been more successful than the United States in dealing with its security, at less cost to the people who consider themselves enemies of Israel.

One estimate of civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since American and coalition operations began after 9-11-2001 is above 700,000. An estimate admittedly low and partial counts more than 44,000 civilians killed in Iraq alone, only since 2006.

About 4,600 Palestinians defined as "civilians" have been killed since the onset of the most recent intifada in September, 2000. The same source counts 731 Israeli civilians killed.

That makes the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli civilians killed at 6 to 1. The ratio of Iraqi and Afghans civilians killed to the Americans killed on 9-11 is in the range of 233 to 1, or 17 to 1, depending on whether high or low estimates are employed.

Israel is a long way from declaring victory in its war against Arab terror, but the picture is one of relative quiet since the IDF entered and left Lebanon in 2006, entered and left Gaza earlier this year.

The record shows nine Israeli civilians killed in the most recent 12 months. Twenty-four Israeli civilians died by terror in 2008. This compares with an annual average of almost 300 Israeli deaths from terror during the peak intifada years of 2001-03.

The United States is further from accomplishing its aims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Casualties have dropped in Iraq over the last 12 months, but still accounted for about 200 US military deaths and (from the more conservative source) almost Iraqi 3,300 civilian deaths. In the same time frame there have been 316 US military deaths in Afghanistan.

Recent items in the New York Times suggest dismal failure in Afghanistan.

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It isn’t just Taliban violence that Afghans need shielding from. Errant American fire has taken an unacceptably high toll, especially from the airstrikes that American commanders came to rely on . . . One particularly deadly episode last month killed dozens of civilians (the Pentagon says 20 to 30; the Afghan government says 140).

With respect to American efforts to improve Afghan security forces: Among the Afghans, mass illiteracy, equipment loss, crime and corruption . . . have blunted readiness. Immaturity and ill discipline bedevil many units. Illicit drug use persists, and some American officers worry about loyalty and intelligence leaks.

Against this record of greater Israeli than American success, we should ask why the Obama administration is pressing Israel to change course in relation to its dealings with the Palestinians. Charles Krauthammer finds it especially disturbing that the administration is making a point of engaging several prominent antagonists in dialogue, but that it is dictating to Israel.

America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating." An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone -- Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."

Over the years, Israel has also provided a better life for the minority within its borders than has the United States. The Obama family and other minorities who have moved into the economic, social, and political elites during the most recent 40 years should make Americans proud. However, the incidence of American minorities in poverty, incarcerated, with poorer than average health and shorter than average life spans makes the United States an outlier among western democracies, and less admirable than comparable statistics from Israel.

A useful summary measure is life expectancy. Israeli statistics show that it is 79.5 years for Jewish males and 75.3 for Arab males. Comparable American figures show it to be 73.6 years for white males (less than for Israeli Arab males), and 68.9 years for minority males. For Palestinians in the West Bank the life expectancy of males is 71.7 years, and in Gaza 70.7 years. Figures for all races and both sexes in Egypt are 63.3 years and in Syria 68.5 years.

All this helps to explain the responses to a popular internet poll that asked for Israeli responses to the President's Cairo speech. Of the more than 46,000 answers, 7 percent thought the speech inspiring and 11 percent said that only Obama would bring peace. However, 14 percent judged the speech was more favorable to Arabs than to Israel, and 58 percent responded that Israel must look after itself because it could not rely on the United States. (www.walla.co.il, June 8, 2009)

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University. His email: msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

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Denouncing the racists in our own Jewish community

By Gary Rotto

SAN DIEGO—I'm waiting folks.

See, my friend Henry warned me about the video. "Vile, racist rhetoric is being spewed forth from the mouths of drunk Jewish students in Jerusalem," he said. "Gar, if you expect to have something to eat in the next couple of hours, don't because you will be truly disgusted."  The video was made on the eve of President Obama's visit to Cairo.

The youngsters horrifyingly called upon vile stereotypes of blacks to express their anger against President Obama. One wanted to have watermelon with the president. "He deserves to get shot" proclaimed another, who I hope in some fashion will be sternly disciplined  "White Power and F... the N..r," sneered another.  "He's like a terrorist," asserted a college aged girl from South Florida.  By the way, this genius is a political science major ... who, though interviewed in Jerusalem, did not know that Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel.

It's not enough for me, or for San Diego Jewish World, to repudiate such sentiments--as we most certainly do. It's important that the Jewish community, through its various organs, also join in the condemnations.

I was also disgusted to see these Jewish youngsters proudly displaying how many cuss words they can utter in 30 seconds and how their parents wasted money on them to either visit Israel or go to college or both.

If any of these kids were my son or daughter, they would be walking around with a bar of good old fashioned Ivory Soap in their mouth for the next day and a half.  I was taught that cussing was a lazy person's way of expressing himself.  These kids were sloths akin to a slug.

I'm still waiting.

The reason why I am waiting is that within five minutes of such a video from Skinheads, our community would be up in arms

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demanding to know who these people were, expecting condemnations and decrying the parents who would bring up
such racists.  The absolute shame is that these boys and girls are American Jews in Israel.  Sure, they are only a few idiots who were exposed on a video. But if these were black kids saying such things about Jews, we would talk about latent anti-Semitism in the African American community.

Although the video has been circulating for some time, I didn't want to just assume that either the American Jewish Committee or the Anti-Defamation League were aware of the video. So yesterday I left messages with their offices about the video. We'll see if there will be mention of the video on either the AJC or ADL website.  So far, racist Jews are either running under the radar or are not important to our community.

Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Monthly is quoted as saying "...the things these pathetic kids say are repulsive and the yeshivas that sent them to Israel are due for a serious soul-search this Yom Kippur. Their children are an embarrassment to Judaism."

There will be those who excuse this as "only a few idiots and not representative of young Jews." But we would still be all over them if they were skinheads talking about Jews as having big noses and being cheap.  We would be demanding arrests and prosecutions if non-Jewish young people threatened to kill an Israeli leader visiting North America.

There are those who will point out that one of the videographers is part of a Taayush, an Arab-Jewish group that seeks "A future of equality, justice and peace begins today, between us, through concrete, daily actions of solidarity to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and to achieve full civil equality for all Israeli citizens."  They will trash the videographers as lefitsts and self hating Jews.

But the trashing of the messenger can't obscure the fact that it was all too easy to find young racist Jews who proudly spewed filth with out much prompting.

So I'm still waiting ... for these parents to cancel their kids
credit cards, grab them by the ear lobe, throw them on the next plane back to the US and shove that bar of soap into their son's and daughter's mouths and to teach them about respect for life, proper public discourse and how what it really means to be a Jew.

I'm waiting for that video.

Rotto's email: rottog@sandiegojewishworld.com

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International, national news and publicity of Jewish interest

Two groups file briefs to reinstate cross as veterans memorial

WASHINGTON, D.C (Press Release)— A brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday asks the court to reject the contention of the American Civil Liberties Union that veterans’ memorials in the form of crosses are unconstitutional. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed the friend-of-the-court brief, which argues for the lifting of a court order that covered a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial in California’s Mojave Desert with a large box.

“One person’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by America’s veterans and families,” said ADF Legal Counsel Tim Chandler. “Americans want these memorials to be protected. What is more important: the feelings of a single ‘offended’ person or honoring the memory of thousands of American heroes in a way that has been considered constitutional throughout our nation’s history? If the Mojave cross is not allowed to stand, then numerous other veterans’ memorials are vulnerable to legal attack.”

In 2001, the ACLU sued the National Park Service on behalf of a retired park employee because other permanent religious displays had not been erected at the site. Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it on what was then VFW property. In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW, a private organization, in exchange for five acres of other land. The ACLU argued that the land transfer was unconstitutional, and a federal district judge agreed.

ADF funded a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Legal Foundation in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision. On Feb. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they would accept review of the case, Salazar v. Buono. In the meantime, the memorial remains covered by a plywood box.

The brief filed Monday states, “Every man and woman who fought our Nation’s wars and died in service is remembered in local, state, and national war memorials. It is disheartening to think that these memorials may be gutted because there are those who ignore the unique way the cross has universally honored the choice our soldiers made to lay down their lives for the good of the rest of us.”

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion, and Liberty Legal Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts.

* *

In a separate statement, the Liberty Counsel announced it had filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a 75-year-old National World War I Memorial with an 8-foot cross, located in the Mojave Desert of California. In Salazar v. Buono, the ACLU filed suit to remove the cross. Following the lower court ruling, the cross was covered with a cloth and now is boxed in with plywood so it looks like a blank sign. It remains that way pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The memorial was originally erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as a wooden cross with a plaque stating, “The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars” and “Erected 1934 by Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Death Valley Post 2884.” Beginning in 1935, people gathered intermittently at the site for Easter services, and those services became a regular occurrence in 1984.

According to the National Parks Service, those gatherings by private parties somehow transformed the war memorial into a religious shrine of sorts and disqualified it from being included in the National Register of Historic Places. Congress then enacted a series of laws aimed at preserving the monument, including, most recently, a land exchange that would transfer ownership of the land upon which the monument rests to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in exchange for its donation of an equivalent piece of property to the Parks Service. But the ACLU insisted that the cross be torn down.

Liberty Counsel’s brief advocates that the Supreme Court adopt a new test that better comports with the intent of the First Amendment. Under this proposed test, a display that (1) comports with history and (2) does not objectively coerce participation in a religious exercise or activity would be permissible.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Passive displays like the World War I Memorial, the Ten Commandments, Nativity scenes, or statements like the National Motto do not force anyone to participate in a religious exercise and, thus, do not establish religion. This case reveals the extreme lengths the ACLU will go to in order to erase religious monuments. For 75 years this cross in the Mojave Desert did not disturb anyone. It stood as a memorial to the heroes of World War I. Removing this memorial would be an insult to our war veterans. Doing so under the guise of the First Amendment is an insult to the Framers of the Constitution.”

Preceding items provided respectively by Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty Council

Muslim women must be permitted to wear their head scarves, new Justice Department suit asserts

NEWARK, New Jersey (Press Release)— The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Monday against Essex County, New Jersey., alleging that it discriminated against a Muslim corrections officer on the basis of her religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit alleges that the county refused to permit Yvette Beshier to wear a religiously mandated headscarf while working as a corrections officer.

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion. Its religious discrimination provisions require employers to make a reasonable accommodation of employees’ religious observances and practices. The Justice Department enforces Title VII’s prohibitions against employment discrimination with respect to state and local governments.

According to the complaint, the Essex County Department of Corrections (DOC), first suspended Beshier and then terminated her on the ground that her wearing of a khimar (a head scarf) violated its uniform policy for corrections officers. The complaint alleges that Beshier had requested a religious accommodation that would permit her to wear her khimar, but the DOC denied her request.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark seeks a court order requiring Essex County to adopt a policy that reasonably accommodates the religious observances and practices of employees and prospective employees subject to the Essex County DOC’s uniform policy for corrections officers. The suit also seeks monetary damages and other relief for Beshier.

"Employees should not have to choose between their religious beliefs and their economic livelihood," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Federal law requires all employers, even those having policies regarding the wearing of uniforms, to reasonably accommodate the religious observances and practices of their employees."

The filing of this lawsuit reflects the Civil Rights Division’s ongoing commitment to actively enforce Title VII’s prohibitions against religious discrimination. In February, the Division obtained court approval of a settlement agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority requiring the authority to adopt a religious accommodation policy to its uniform requirements for bus drivers, and providing relief to a prospective Apostolic Pentecostal employee and two Muslim employees who required religious accommodations. The Division also has a pending suit against the New York City Transit Authority alleging it has discriminated against Muslims, Sikhs and other employees through its uniform policy.

Preceding provided by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice

New tunnels to be built under Hudson in $8.7 billion project

NORTH BERGEN, New Jersey (Press Release). - Building upon the region’s rich legacy of major public transportation assets, Governor Jon S. Corzine, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and a group of other federal, state and local officials on Monday broke ground on the Mass Transit Tunnel project, the largest transit public works project in America.

“Today’s groundbreaking represents an historic $8.7 billion dollar transit infrastructure project, the largest in the nation,” Governor Corzine said “It will create thousands of jobs for hardworking families across the region, promote better mobility and provide enormous environmental benefits. Thanks to Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s champions of mass-transit and infrastructure, for securing this funding that is a transportation imperative for the state, the region and the nation.”

The $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel (MTT) project, being built in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs through the construction phase of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded New York Penn Station and other key elements, reinvigorating the link between New Jersey and New York and benefiting the regional economy with improved mobility. It is expected to create 44,000 permanent jobs.

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U.S. Senators Lautenberg, Menendez and Governor Corzine also announced a major funding agreement with the Obama Administration that enables the initial phases of the project to advance with federal funding support.

The Early Systems Work Agreement (ESWA) provides $1.35 billion in funding for the early phases of the project, about half of which is from federal sources including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Preceding was provided by Senator Frank Lautenberg

Cardin, Hastings express worry over far-right gains in Europe

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)—Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (Democrat, Maryland), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (Democrat, Florida) released the following statements Monday following the European Union parliamentary elections.

The elections yielded gains for far-right and extremist parties in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and the United Kingdom.

“Many of these parties openly ran on xenophobic, racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic platforms,” said Chairman Cardin. “At a time when we are already seeing increased incidents of violence and discrimination towards minorities in Europe, I am greatly concerned that the growth of these parties will only make the situation worse. This is a worrying trend.”

“The outcome of these elections sends the signal that it is OK to be blatantly racist. It is ironic that at a time when Americans have elected our first African-American President, Europe seems to be backsliding and becoming less accepting of its diverse population,” said Co-Chairman Hastings, who earlier this year co-hosted the first Black European Summit in Brussels to discuss minority representation in European politics.

“This has potential ramifications for immigration, discrimination, and other policies in Europe, and could build a greater acceptance for anti-Semitism and other negative attitudes towards minorities.”

Preceding provided by Senator Cardin

Feinstein, Schumer and others
introduce 'Cash for Clunkers' Act

WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release)– U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California), Susan Collins (Repubican, Maine), Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York.), and Tom Carper (Democrat, Delaware) on Monday formally introduced legislation to establish a “Cash for Clunkers” program that incentivizes the purchase of more fuel- efficient vehicles and would achieve at least 32 percent more oil savings than a House version of the bill. Senators Feinstein, Collins, and Schumer previously outlined the basic concepts in this bill on May 15.

The legislation introduced (S.1200) by Senators Feinstein, Collins, Schumer, and Carper makes three key improvements on the House proposal -- which is favored by the auto industry and would allow consumers to purchase new gas guzzlers.

First, the legislation would require that the purchased vehicle achieve 2 miles per gallon better fuel economy per class of vehicle than the industry-favored proposal. This would ensure that the program is consistent with the fleetwide fuel economy increases mandated by the 2007 fuel economy law.

The industry-backed proposal, on the other hand, would allow for the purchase of new gas guzzlers and would negatively impact fleetwide average fuel economy.

Second, the legislation would require that the trade-in vehicle have a fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) or less. This would target the least efficient 47 million vehicles on the road.

The industry-backed proposal requires the traded-in vehicle have 18 mpg fuel economy, and would therefore achieve lower oil savings.

Third, it would allow certain used cars to qualify, in order to encourage greater participation by lower-income consumers. The program would also include leased vehicles.

The industry proposal, on the other hand, excludes used vehicles or vehicles leased under typical terms (3 to 5 years).

Preceding provided by Senator Feinstein

RJC to Obama administration:
Will you honor past American agreements with Israel?

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)-- The Republican Jewish Coalition calls on the Obama administration to give a clear and unambiguous answer to the question of whether they will honor the understanding established by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon regarding settlements.

In a 2004 exchange of letters, an agreement was reached by the two countries about conditions under which Israel could build new housing within certain existing settlement areas. The Obama administration has taken the position that Israel must implement a "total freeze" on settlement activity, including natural growth in large population centers, which raises the question of whether the administration will adhere to the agreement made by the United States and Israel.

Commentators have noted that administration spokesmen have refused to answer this question as many as 21 times in the last two weeks. According to journalists who participated in recent press conferences with State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, deputy spokesman Robert Wood, and Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, these State Department officials have danced around this question nearly two dozen times [1].

RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said, "We are seeing a steady, step-by-step withdrawal by the Obama administration from key elements of the U.S.-Israeli alliance. The President who promised 'transparency' in his administration should be forthcoming about his intentions, his position, and his policies regarding these very sensitive issues. It is time for a clear and unambiguous answer to the question of whether the U.S. will stand by its past agreements and stand with our ally Israel."

Background: Dov Weissglas, a senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the New York Times about the agreement. Weissglas recounts that an agreement reached by the two countries in a 2004 exchange of letters stated that housing could be built within the boundaries of certain settlement blocks as long as no new land was taken from Palestinians, no special economic incentives were offered to move to settlements, and no new settlements were built. Those exceptions were key to Israel accepting the Road Map and taking the extraordinary risks involved in the disengagement from Gaza.

President Bush's letter to Prime Minister Sharon noted: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." This formal recognition by the U.S. was endorsed by a joint resolution of Congress and was incorporated into Israel's disengagement plan.

The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to state whether or not it will honor that understanding.

Preceding provided by the Republican Jewish Coalition

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Theology often divides, but ethics can unite humanity

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

TORONTO—Jews recently celebrated Shavuot, which in the Christian calendar became Pentecost. Though originally an agricultural festival, Judaism knows it mainly as the anniversary of receiving the Torah, God's teaching. The biblical book of Exodus tells how, after the Israelites escaped from Egyptian slavery, God summoned their leader Moses to Mount Sinai to instruct him on what to do and how to transmit it to the people.

The best known image is that of Moses holding the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments are engraved. Most religious people understand it as a metaphor that's open to countless interpretations. One rabbinic source even dares to imagine that God told Moses that it's less important to believe in God than to follow God's teaching. The vision at the burning bush was private to Moses; the Torah at Sinai is there for everybody.

Too many people are caught up in speculation about the nature of God instead of seeking to follow the teachings. The temptation to think theologically can obscure the responsibility to act ethically.

Once we stop confusing speculation with action, we may be better able to live by the teachings of God. Living by the Ten Commandments, for instance, can make us practise religion whether or not we fathom its source. In the words of the French-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, ethics comes before metaphysics.

In turn, practising religionists discover that, whatever their formal affiliation, they have much in common with those who belong to other traditions. Theology is usually divisive whereas ethical behaviour unites humanity.

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Actions aimed at reflecting what happens between God and humanity we often call rituals. Though these usually differ
between religions – and within religions – they point more to the distinct nature of each than to fundamental differences
between them. That's why religious people find it much easier to be guests at each others' ceremonies than to debate each others' theologies.

For example, during his recent visit to Jerusalem, the Pope went to Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, while avoiding theological confrontations. We know from other occasions that having spent much of his academic career as a theologian, he has made pronouncements that have offended adherents of other faiths.

Seen from this perspective, those who describe themselves as secular may find little cause for atheism when they share the ethical practices of their religious neighbours. Though they may wish to distance themselves from the rituals, they not only come to respect but also to share the ways of committed religionists.

Of course, aberrations in the name of religion are abhorrent, but so are many actions by those who despise religion, as attested, for example, by atheist totalitarian regimes of not long ago. Human beings have a talent for turning noble aims into despicable acts. It's as menacing within religions as outside them.

Similarly, in this scheme of things, ardent adherents of one faith will find common ground with their counterparts in other religions. Interfaith should be about that: less talk, more action.

The way I celebrate Shavuot is distinctly Jewish, neither secular nor interchangeable with other traditions. But remembering that the Torah was given in no man's land at Sinai to make it accessible to all people, I know how close I can be to both my secular and my non-Jewish religious neighbours – if they only let me show it.

Dow Marmur is rabbi emeritus at Toronto's Holy Blossom Temple. This column appeared originally in the Star of Toronto and is reprinted here.

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The Jews Down Under ... a roundup of Australian Jewish news by Garry Fabian

Australia can to do more to stop nuclear Iran, Levitt tells council

MELBOURNE - Australia can do more to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear weapons program, according to counterterrorism expert Dr Matt Levitt.

Dr Levitt, director of The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, was brought to Australia by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council for a whirlwind tour of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Speaking in Melbourne last week, he praised the Rudd Government's sanctions against Iran, but said there was more Australia could do.

He recommended adding Bank Melat to the list of
Iranian banks banned from conducting transactions with Australia.

Bank Melat, along with two other banks on the banned list, played a key role in financing Iran's nuclear program, he said.

"Australia could also use its leverage with countries like South Korea, where Bank Melat has its Asian branch," Dr Levitt said.

It could use its leverage with Malaysia [where] small Malaysian banks are picking up some of the international bank transfer services for some of the Iranian banks."

Speaking the day after Iran had successfully test-fired a medium-range missile, he said it was not too late to give up using diplomacy as a persuasive tool.

Dr Levitt said no-one knows whether "targeted sanctions, military presence in the Gulf or engagement ... will work on their own", but what is certain, he added, is that "it is not an
either or it really is a package deal."

Dr Levitt, who formerly worked as a senior official in intelligence and analysis in the US Treasury, said US President Barack Obama was going into negotiations with Iran with his "eyes wide open".

He said the US wanted to create leverage for diplomacy by using sanctions and added that "ratcheted up" sanctions were more likely to succeed now that Iran was feeling the effects of the financial crisis.

"In terms of targeting the Iranian economy, especially now the international financial crisis has hit Iran as well -- oil is now far below US$100 a barrel, and when oil was over $US100 a barrel Iran could legitimately say it could
weather the storm, now it is not clear they can," he said.

Dr Levitt, who met with government advisers and
counterterrorism experts in Australia, said despite Iran not being in Australia's immediate sphere of interest, the federal Government was aware of the dangers.

"The consequences of a war with Iran, of any type, or strike against the nuclear facilities, would be significant and would be felt worldwide, much the same way that a housing crisis in middle America now affects you in Melbourne no less than
it does me in the suburbs of Washington."

Court gives Toben more time

ADELAIDE - A decision on whether Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben will serve a three-month jail term for contempt of court will have to wait until at least August 13

The Federal Court in Sydney last week gave leave to Toben to appeal to a full bench of the Federal Court in Adelaide on that date. Toben will appeal against a contempt finding and jail sentence for being in contempt of court by posting anti-Semitic material on his Adelaide Institute web site. If his appeal fails he will serve three months in prison, which he was sentenced to on May 13 after being found guilty of 24 charges of contempt.

But Justice Anthony Besanko ordered Toben, who lectured in Iran and was arrested and detained in London last year, not to leave his home state of South Australia until the appeal, except to consult his Melbourne lawyer.

Meanwhile the Adelaide Institute's web site continues to flagrantly publish Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic material in violation of a 2002 Federal Court order.

Blog offers different Jewish community voices

MELBOURNE - Arguing has been described as the Jewish national sport. Two Jews, the saying goes, three opinions. If so, the argument in Melbourne's Jewish community has become a bit more lively. The Sensible Jew wants a say.

Elbowing into the argument, The Sensible Jew says it's time for Australian Jewish moderates to be heard ­ in Jewish affairs, in representing the community to the rest of society, and in the wider debate about issues affecting Jews, like Israel.

The Sensible Jew, a blog launched by two Melbourne women, doesn't hold back. It attacks established Melbourne Jewish leaders like Danny Lamm and Colin Rubenstein as "unrepresentative swill." Their heavy-handed response to perceived anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel wins the
Jewish community no friends and instead reinforces anti-Jewish prejudice, they say.

As evidence, the blog highlights what it says was the bumbling, incompetent response of Jewish leaders to last month's performance in Melbourne of the play Seven Jewish Children, which leaders branded anti-Semitic.

Nor are the bloggers keen on radical Jewish critics of Israel ­ like the Sydney writer Antony Loewenstein ­ who they label "lunatic leftists".

What the community needs, The Sensible Jew says, is modern spokespeople who can present a "likeable Jewish face" ­ perhaps, as one commentator wrote on their blog, someone like Waleed Aly, the Muslim academic.

The blog has brought into the open a debate that until now has been in-house ­ confined to the dinner table and the pages of The Australian Jewish News.

While Dr Rubenstein dismisses the bloggers as "starry-eyed novices," community observers are watching closely. An editorial in The Australian Jewish News sees in the blog early signs of a "changing dynamic" in the Jewish community.

If so, the Sensible Jew may be an embryonic challenge to existing leaders. It may also send a fissure through the facade of uncritical support for Israeli governments that Australian Jews have presented to the rest of the community.

The Sensible Jew bloggers opened on May 12 with an anonymous salvo declaring they were "tired of bitching at family dinners about unrepresentative swill (i.e. communal leaders) and Loewensteinian lunatic leftists".

Since then, they they have had more than 7500 views and 291 comments. One of the bloggers has also outed herself ­ the writer Yvonne Fein.

She and her co-blogger challenge the view that Jewish representatives are masters of public relations, able to sway national debate. When it comes to PR, they say community leaders can be stuttering bunglers who reinforce prejudice by appearing to stifle debate.

When they launched The Sensible Jew, the bloggers said they were anonymous in case their community profiles prejudiced responses. Last week, following criticism from readers, Fein outed herself as the blog's public face.

She says they founded The Sensible Jew because they believed purported Jewish spokesmen were unrepresentative, un-elected and did not speak for all Jews.

They describe themselves as committed Jews and Zionists ­ but they fear their leaders aren't helping Jews or Israel. "When they make PR mistakes, and believe me they do almost every time they speak, the entire Jewish community is implicated," Fein says.

"What we hear so much of is aggressive and confrontational talk from our leaders, and at The Sensible Jew what we try to represent is the inclusive, moderate point of view, placing
ourselves within values that are representative of the Jewish mainstream, like mainstream Australia.".

Two issues finally triggered their venture into cyberspace. One was the decision, since overturned, by Maccabi Australia, the Jewish sports body, to ban non-Jews from Jewish sporting teams.

The second was the response of Jewish representatives to Seven Jewish Children. While the play, in The Sensible Jew's view, was "rubbish", the reaction of Jewish representatives
was absurdly counter-productive. TV news images of Jewish students protesting outside the play alienated Australians who "don't like rabid, ethnic sloganeering from anyone".

Worse was the performance on ABC's Lateline of Zionist Council of Victoria president Danny Lamm, who was "a stuttering mess and thoroughly inarticulate".

The blog also takes aim at leaders of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) for labelling the play anti-Semitic, without having seen it. The Sensible Jew said the council bungled its response as the media rounded up "the
usual Jewish suspects to have them say things that offend the Australian intelligentsia."

Fein agrees there's an irony in the community, seen by many non-Jews as a powerful lobby, mishandling its media relations. "If we were such great lobbyists, wouldn't everybody love us, wouldn't we be doing a much better job than we're doing?"

Dr Lamm sees no problem with the existence of the new group. "The fact that people want to encourage discussion and thinking is all positive," he says.

But he denies community leaders are losing the PR battle or that they are unrepresentative.

The council is the umbrella body for 51 organisations, which send delegates to the council's annual general meetings and elect the leadership.

"It's up to them, if they want to part of the process," he says of the bloggers. "If somebody says they can do a better job, there would be no issue for them to put their hand up and say 'I want to be part of the action, too.' "

This would require commitment, Dr Lamm says, "not just a couple of hours on a blog".

John Searle is president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the peak body representing 56 religious, social, cultural, sport, educational and welfare organisations.

He, too, insists the leadership is elected and representative. Mr Searle also denies community leaders are losing the media battle, and says support for The Sensible Jew "would be absolutely minuscule." Instead, he suggests the critics have
ruled themselves out of working through mainstream community bodies.

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Dr Rubenstein, executive director of AIJAC, says of the bloggers: "If they're enthusiastic, that's fine, and good luck to them."

But he's dismissive of the bloggers' understanding of how community representatives operate. "They're a little jejune and starry-eyed and novices in terms of public affairs and their complexity," he says.

All of this may be just another spat in the Jewish national game, but The Australian Jewish News wonders if something bigger isn't happening. In an editorial, it describes The Sensible Jew as part of "a changing dynamic" that is moving the Jewish community towards the centre.

"What is also emerging is a desire for the community to debate each issue affecting our community ­ and Israel ­ on its merits, rather than for the discussion to start from a predetermined ideological position.

". We might have it wrong. But our sense is that our community, emboldened by new media, is beginning to move more towards the centre in outlook. For now, it is merely a ripple, but we'll be watching keenly to see whether it becomes a wave."

Community welcomes Government tough stance on Race Hate crimes

MELBOURNE - Atter years of inaction, the Victorian Government announced this week it would strengthen the laws against racially motivated crime.

Attorney-General Rob Hulls said last week that the Sentencing Act would be amended so judges were required to take into account whether the motive of the crime was hatred or vilification.

This amendment will bring Victoria into line with NSW, Western Australia and South Australia. The Government is also considering introducing a specific hate crimes law.

Hulls announcement was made in light of international condemnation of violent attacks on Indian students studying in Melbourne, which have left a number of young men seriously injured.

The attacks were widely condemned, including by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull in parliament .

Hulls said: "Obviously Victorians have a right to feel safe in their community and we abhor any kind of violence.

"We've been working on this for quite some time."

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president John Searle welcomed the changes.

He said the JCCV had been campaigning for years for harsher penalties against perpetrators of hate crimes and would like current racial vilification legislation reviewed.

He condemned the Indian assaults in the strongest possible language, saying they were no different to anti-Semitic attacks.

"The parallels are very clear, these appear to be racially motivated attacks," Searle said.

"Whether they are attacks committed on Jewish people because they are Jews, or Indians because they are Indian ... it is unacceptable," Searle said.

"It is unacceptable to have attacks that are committed purely because of the race of the victim."

The JCCV president also continued the push for Victoria Police to establish a hate crimes unit -- similar to that in NSW.

"I would be very concerned if the police were refusing to acknowledge that these may very well be racially motivated attacks," he said.

"We called, a while ago, for the establishment of a hate crimes unit and I have maintained those calls. It is something I will take up again with the new chief commissioner."

The wider multicultural community is supporting the JCCV in its push for a police hate crimes unit.

Ross Barnett, executive officer of the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria, said the organisation did not support the police's current approach to hate crimes.

"We do believe there is a need for police to have a desk or unit to deal with crimes that are racially based," Barnett said.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) also condemned the Indian attacks, with Victorian president Stefan Oberman saying the group was standing by its fellow students.

Oberman attended a rally in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday run by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia.

He said he had also spoken with the federation's president Amit Menghani to express "solidarity with the students of the Indian community".

In addition, Jewish MP Mark Dreyfus welcomed Hull's announcement, saying the Jewish community, through the work of community organisations and crime victim Menachem Vorchheimer, have contributed to the Victorian Attorney-General's decision.

The Government's sentencing amendment means that if the Ocean Grove footballers, who assaulted Vorchheimer -- an Orthodox man walking home from synagogue with his children in 2006 -- were tried again, their penalties could potentially be harsher.

Limmud-Oz offers variety of topics

SYDNEY- From learning the "Dance of the Hebrew letters." the dynamics of reincarnation and Kabbalah meditation, to discussions on Seven Jewish Children, the Jews of Rhodes, censorship and new counter-terrorism laws, this year's Limmud-Oz has an eclectic and vast range of sessions for all tastes.

The two-and-half-day festival of Jewish learning and creativity ran last weekend at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney.

The festival, which offered more than 200 sessions, was launched last week at Shalom College, by former US ambassador to Israel Dr Martin Indyk.

Peta Jones Pellach, education director of the Shalom Institute, said: "This year, we will have more variety than ever before. Not just outstanding overseas scholars, of which we have plenty, but the best of interstate and local talent, and some very interesting panels where they all come together."

Pellach mentioned several sessions that were popular, including the first session on June 7 on "Communal censorship: Do we allow alternative views?" with Jonathan Pearlman, Angela Budai, Jeremy Jones and Ehud Yaari.

Others included a discussion of "The Ethics of The Reader" with scholars Mark Baker, Bettina Cass and Alan Saunders.

Despite the tough times, Pellach said there had not been a drop in bookings, which may have been helped by the volunteer component this year offering discounted rates.

"It's such a buzz working with dozens and dozens of enthusiastic volunteers, so this really is an event that belongs to the community and we hope people really feel that when they come in."

Limmud-Oz's After Dark program offered a series of sessions, as well as entertainment with local musicians performing alongside international guest Y-Love, an African-American Orthodox Jewish rapper. Y-Love performed on the last evening

Other musicians included Melbourne-based composer Adam Starr, soul, folk-rock and reggae band Three-Quarters Hazel, percussionist Nicola Ossher, jazz musician Mark Ginsburg and punk rockers Yidcore.

Limmud-Oz co-ordinator Michael Misrachi said: "The way the community comes together for Limmud-Oz to engage, learn and celebrate Jewish life is inspiring.

"I genuinely don't believe there is anything like Limmud-Oz in the world -- the vibrancy, the diversity, the stimulation is extraordinary. This is a Jewish experience like no other."

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In Search of The Partisans of Vilna, Part III

This is the third of eight installments of a journal by author Laurel Corona describing her 2004 research trip to Vilna in connection with the award-winning book Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance (St. Martin’s Press, 2008). While writing the book, Corona traveled to Lithuania with coauthor Michael Bart to gather information about his parents, whose activities in the Jewish resistance form a major element in the book. 

By Laurel Corona

VILNA, Lithuania—We set out on one last mission for the day—to find Zawalna Street and the house where Michael’s mother, Zenia, lived before the war.  As we walk down Spitalna Street, still inside the ghetto boundaries, our guide says “Look up!” Visible over the roof of the Jewish hospital, which formed part of the wall of the ghetto, is the silver dome of the Choral Synagogue on Zawalna Street.  Just in front of the dome of what is now the only remaining synagogue in Vilna are the marble tablets of the law. 

“When the Torah entered the world, freedom entered it also,” the Shabbat service reminds us. Here that seems the cruelest of paradoxes. Any ghetto resident could have seen these tablets and this dome gleaming just out of reach over the wall.  Would people have come to stand here and look, or would they have tried to avoid the sight?  Would it have made them feel scorned by God, or would it have seemed like a beacon, reminding them that captivity even as deep and desperate as that of the Israelites in Egypt eventually came to an end? That even in the ghetto they each retained an essential self the Germans could not touch? That they continued to have some choice about what kind of person to be? Leizer and Zenia, and their friends in the resistance, must have seen it that way, but I wonder if they would have called it freedom.

I think of the Mother Superior who hid resistance leader Abba Kovner for several months in a cloister outside Vilna, risking her own life in the process. When asked why she threw her fate in with the Jews in this way, she replied, “In these times the only honorable thing to be is a Jew.”  It occurs to me, as I think of the moral bankruptcy of the Nazis, that there is a perpetual and unbreakable link between personal integrity and any true and profound sense of freedom.

As I turn to continue our walk, I see graffiti on the wall across the way.  I’ve already noticed that graffiti in Vilna tends more towards homilies than the vulgarity so common at home.  Walls are spray-painted with expressions like, “It is good to keep your mind open,” or “Friendship begins with peace.”  This one, however, gives me pause: “It is a good time to finish up old tasks.”  Found where it is, inside the ghetto boundaries, it feels ominous. I think of the tiny Jewish population of Vilna and hope the creator of the message has simply chosen an inopportune spot to say something so downright perky.

Only a few blocks from the Choral Synagogue on the “free” side of Zawalna Street, we find Zenia’s grandmother’s home, or at least we think we do.  There, as in many other places in Vilna, street numbers have been changed since the war, not just because of reconfigurations of streets after the bombing, but, I have been told, to make post-war claims on confiscated property more difficult.  Based on descriptions and photos of the house, we decide that 31 Zawalna Street is the most likely candidate, a hunch we are later able to confirm. Michael’s grandmother owned a feed and grain store, and many of her family, including Zenia, lived above it. The entryway at number 31 is big enough for wagons, and the ground floor shop space resembles descriptions Michael has brought with him. 

Looking around to observe what Zenia would have seen out the front windows of her grandmother’s home, I realize she would have noticed workers boarding up doors and entryways to create the

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ghetto wall just across the street. She could not have gone out to investigate, since Jews were forbidden by edict to set foot on the major thoroughfares of the city.  Nazi decrees would have forced her to walk in the gutters of side streets, if she went out at all in the increasingly dangerous city, because sidewalks were forbidden to Jews.

I wonder what she would think if she were told that a writer would someday travel over ten time zones just to get a sense of her world, or that well over a half a century later, her son would be staring up into the window where, in my imagination, she now stands. She is a girl getting ready to graduate from high school as the sound of hammers fills the street.  Graduation will never come.  The march she and her school friends will soon make is of another sort altogether, without music, new dresses, or parties.  It will be years before she has any of those things again.  Most of her friends never will. 

Corona is a professor of humanities at San Diego City College and an author of several books.


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Editor's Mailbox: S.D. County news of Jewish interest

Used book sale will benefit Astor Library at Lawrence Family JCC

LA JOLLA, California (Press Release)-- A used book sale to benefit the Samuel and Rebecca Astor Judaica Library at the Lawrence Family JCC will be conducted on premises tomorrow through Friday and on Sunday.

Those wanting an "early bird" opportunity may pay $10 to be eligible for the special-hours sale from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Thousands of titles, ranging from classics to recent releases, will be available. There will be children's books, Judaic, general fiction and non-fiction, hardcover and paperback and even some books autographed by their authors, according to a flyer on the event.

For more information, or to volunteer, email hfark@pacbell.net, or phone (858) 362-1134.

Preceding provided by the Lawrence Family JCC

Rides & Smiles for seniors expands to College/ Del Cerro areas of SD

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)--Rides & Smiles® is expanding to the College and Del Cerro areas of San Diego. Rides & Smiles®, a volunteer program of On the Go, provides transportation for older adults to medical and social appointments. The program, sponsored by Jewish Family Service, recently expanded to the University City/La Jolla/Clairemont area and has been running successfully in the Rancho Bernardo/Poway area for five years.

Transportation for older adults is a great concern throughout San Diego County. Can you open the car door for an older adult?

Rides & Smiles® volunteers use their own car to transport older adults to medical and personal appointments. You choose who, where, and when you drive. Mileage reimbursement is available.

Volunteer Trainings will be held on the following days and times at the Turk Family Center (8804 Balboa Avenue, San Diego 92123). RSVP to Melinda Wilkes at (858) 637-3050 or melindab@jfssd.org.

Thursday, June 18 at 10:00am; Tuesday, July 7 at 4:30pm;
Thursday, July 23 at 10:00am; Thursday, August 6 at 4:30pm;
Thursday, August 20 at 10:00am; Wednesday, September 2 at 4:30pm; and Thursday, September 17 at 10:00am

College Avenue Older Adult Center tells July special events schedule

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)--The College Avenue Senior Adult Center, operated by Jewish Family Service inside Beth Jacob Congregation at 4855 College Avenue, has announced its special programming for July:

Tuesday, July 7, 2-4 pm— Summertime, Patriotic Dance.
Celebrate the Red, White & Blue! Come kick up you heels with other fun loving adults at our popular Ballroom Dance Class with Sharon Emerson as you DJ. (There will be no instruction.) No partners are necessary. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, July 16, 12:45 pm —David Amos, the conductor of the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra will introduce us
the lives and music of three influential Jewish composers of the 20th Century: Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.

Copeland is known for evoking visions of our American homeland. His tunes are famous and recognizable to all. Gershwin embodied the new spirit of American music in the 1920’s and 30’s. He started composing in Tin Pan Alley and then worked his way up to composing Broadway shows and memorable concert pieces such as Rhapsody in Blue.Bernstein, was not only a brilliant conductor, he composed many orchestral pieces.

Friday, July 24, 12:45 pm: Summertime “Front Porch Stories”
with Linda WhitesideWe have a special afternoon program planned for young and old alike! Bring your family, friends, kids and grandkids to enjoy a unique storytelling event.
Whiteside received her Masters of Education degree in Storytelling Arts from East Tennessee State University in 1999.
She spins her tales to a wide variety of audiences in schools, libraries, museums, businesses and hospitals. Linda is the Storyteller in the Healing Arts Department at Children’s Hospital in San Diego. There will be another performance Thursday, August 13.

Monday, July 27, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Celebration of our Nutritional Salad Bar Opening. As part of the College Avenue Older Adult Center’s philosophy to promote healthy aging among older adults, the Center will begin offering a new soup and salad bar as a lunchtime meal choice. Funded by a grant from the County of San Diego, Aging & Independence Services. This new offering joins the healthy philosophy that exists throughout the College Avenue Older Adult Center’s programming, including fitness, yoga, and healthy living classes.

The new soup and salad bar will be available as a lunch option on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Food is also available “To Go”, and will include all

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the fixings for a nutritious and flavorful mid-day lighter meal, including soup, salad greens, fruit, vegetables, dressings, protein and bread. The soup and salad bar complements the hot kosher lunch served Monday – Friday at 12:00pm.

Wellness Presentations

Monday, July 27, 11:15 am— Fruits, Veggies for a Healthier Body are full of Color! Vickie Velasco is well known in San Diego for her involvement in Senior Advocacy. She retired from Aging and Independence Services in San Diego and currently has a radio talk show on 1700 AM called “IN FOCUS”, which is dedicated to discussing Senior Issues. This upbeat program will help you pick the healthiest “colored” foods that improve our overall health.

Tuesday, July 28, 12:45 pm—How to Reclaim Your Sleep.
Novia Baxter, Wildfire Intensive Case Manager with Jewish Family Service, will give us valuable information on Obtaining a better night’s sleep. In order to stay healthy, you must not only exercise and eat right, you must get a good night’s sleep.
Novia will discuss sleep hygiene tips that emphasizing mental health and sleep induction practices involving breathing and senses to both fall and stay asleep.

Thursday, July 30, 12:45 pm
Film Presentation: Jerusalem: The Holy City. In remembrance of of Tish’a B’av, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem (58 BCE and 70 CE) and other significant and sad historical events for the Jewish people. This film presentation will explore the city’s rich history, geography, and architecture.

The College Avenue Older Adult Center is a program of Jewish Family Service of San Diego. The College Avenue Older Adult Center also offers hot Kosher lunches served Monday - Friday at 12 Noon Seniors: Suggested donation of $3.50; All others: $6.00 fee. For more information, call (619) 583-3300.

Preceding provided by Jewish Family Service

An autograph to remember

103-YEAR-OLD'S AUTOGRAPH—UCSD Professor Charles Chamberlain is all smiles as Laura Simon, 103, using a magnifying glass to see the page, autographs her autobiography, "I'm Still Here." Chamberlain had helped edit Simon's book, and had a copy on his computer, but until a visit to her home on Monday, he never had a copy of the published version. The book is being serialized in the Sunday-Monday editions of San Diego Jewish World.

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A modern story we can recall at our Passover seders

Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis; Virago, 2005, 350 pages.

By David Strom        

SAN DIEGO—Slavery is “alive and well” in different parts of the globe.  Mende Nazir lost her freedom at the age of twelve.  She was stolen by a band of men who had come into her small idyllic village in the Sudan to pillage, rape, and murder any and all who opposed them.  Mende’s father and family were not able to protect themselves, let alone her, from the marauding Arab fanatics. From that night onward Mende was a slave.
About thirty-one other girls from her village were taken and over time, were sold into slavery.  Prior to her being purchased and still living under the rule of the slave snatchers, an older black woman slave quickly educated the frightened young girls on the best ways to survive as a slave!   The rules were simple: 1.  Listen closely to the master and do exactly as s/he says.  2.  Do not talk back.  3. Always call them master.  4.  Forget your personal feelings.  They no longer exist. 
Eventually a wealthy Arab Moslem woman who lived in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, purchased Mende. Whenever she made a misstep, she was severely reprimanded or beaten. Mende was subjected to appalling physical, sexual and mental abuse.  The masters humiliated her by not using her name and just calling her “black slave” so her sense of personhood became lost and doubted her self-worth and dignity.  Yes, she was a slave, but she felt lower in status than even the animals in the house.  She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers.  Their life became her life. 
As she grew into womanhood she saw men beginning to eye her sexually.  She was aware the master of the house began to show an interest in her.  Since he was a “religious” Moslem and she a religious Moslem as well, she was able to use the laws of the Koran to keep him sexually in line. After seven years of abuse, with no freedoms or rights and no life of her own, her owner decided to send her to work for her sister in London.
This helped Mende to escape from her slavery. While in the employ of the new “master” in London, she was allowed to leave the house and do some shopping, get the mail, and enjoy some small freedoms. Though still frightened and working as a slave, Mende tried to reach out to others she thought might be from the same area of Africa.  She approached people on the street, surreptitiously listening to their conversations and hoping to hear her native language spoken. One day she heard a car mechanic speaking her language.  She approached him and talked with him about her situation as a slave.  He was shocked that she was working as a slave.  He immediately told her that slavery was against the law. Although a virtual stranger, this compassionate man contacted a friend involved in immigration law and let Mende tell her story to him.
The Sudan immigration network went into action.  Mende was whisked away and taken to a safe house.  She never returned to work but immediately applied for asylum.  She was refused.  The London immigration office said she could return safely to Sudan and would not be mistreated by the Sudanese government.          
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In 2000, when the British newspapers began to learn about the Mende Nazer case, they had a field day.  Overnight, Mende Nazir became a celebrity. A prominent woman member of the House of Lords said she would go “on a hunger strike” until the Immigration Office changed their decision in Mende’s case. Eventually the government reversed its policy to deport Mende and she was allowed to remain in England.

Mende’s story of enslavement and her quest for freedom is remarkable.  Her will to survive, her courage, and her willingness to speak up help in the eventual defeat of the modern-day slave traders.  For Mende, her worst form of slavery began when she almost completely internalized and accepted her “master’s” view that she wasn’t even a human being who deserved to be free.  Fortunately she had a loving family prior to her capture and the memories of her family’s love and caring for her helped her maintain her sense of human dignity.
The book Slave is a memoir that serves as a sobering reminder that all forms of slavery need to be stamped out, even in today’s world where slavery is outlawed, yet still practiced in insidious forms in many parts of the world.

Strom is professor emeritus of education at San Diego State University

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Bible in Pop Culture: Bring forth living creatures

Genesis 1:24

God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures, each according to its kind: animal, and creeping thing, and beast of the land each according to its kind." And it was so.

Do you have a photo that you think illustrates how a biblical verse has worked its way into pop culture. Please send it to us for possible publication in this series, "The Bible in Pop Culture."

You may send your jpg photo for posting online to us at San Diego Jewish World, emailing it to editor@sandiegojewishheritage.com.

If possible, please send it at 72dpi resolution and 400 pixels wide. Please include the name of the photographer, the date and place the photo was taken, and any other relevant caption information.

For our growing "Pop Bible" collection please see
Bible in pop culture index

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Remembering Hal Wingard, who
was the definition of a mensch

Editor, San Diego Jewish World

I am compelled to write after receiving the news of Hal Wingard's passing (May 25, at age 83) from his daughter and my long-time friend, Myla.

Having attended a variety of festivities and funerals with the Wingard family, this one to date is the saddest for me personally. Hal lives on as a wonderful spirit with his clever songs and musings, yet I know will be missed greatly by all who knew him. This man is the definition of mensch and heart with fun and joy!

Eileen Wingard is a strong and vibrant woman, yet after the loss of her mother and now her husband, life will take on a new chapter for her. I write to ask others in joining me to hold a place of prayer for her ease during this time, along with her children and extended family.

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The Wingards are good people - and I'm sure all who knew him will think of Hal during occasions when we don't hear the latest ditty - yet I know this man's in heaven, and they're getting quite a show and lots of laughs today!

Mo Bailey
San Diego

Editor's Note: The Wingard family has elected to permit us to continue presenting Hal's songs each week until we complete the canon. To hear them, click here, or go to the author's pulldown menu below the masthead, and then click on Hal's name.

Jewish Cyber-Referrals

Two readers sent in links to material cirulating on the Internet dealing with Israel.

From Gerry Burstain in Escondido: A "Dear World" video clip prepared during the 1st Lebanon War by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane reciting the history of abuse and persecution endured by the Jewish people

From Dan Schaffer in San Diego, a link to a story in Jewish World Review, reacting critically to President Obama's speech in Cairo.


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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History
With thanks to Gail Umeham for the transcription

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

Dr. Seymour Kuntz left on April 25th by plane for Chicago with a two-fold purpose in mind.  He is attending the Great Lakes Visual Training Conference being held in Chicago, and visiting his father, Hyman Kuntz, whom he hasn’t seen in several years.  Rose stayed behind this time to take care of the twins.

Mrs. Morton Thaler and children, Linda and Larry, flew to Jersey City for a six weeks visit with Mort’s mother, Mrs. Annie Thaler.  Mort will join them later for two weeks.  Grandma Thaler will be a loving baby-sitter while Mort and Gert take in as many shows as possible in New York.

Back from a 5 ½ month automobile trip through Mexico are the Harry Goodwins.  They claim this is the only way to really see this friendly country to the south.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Leonard have moved into their new home at 4943 Date St.

A baby boy, George Walker Scott, Jr., was born to Mr. and Mrs. George Scott last week.

Mr. and Mrs. Max Rabinowitz sail on May 7th for Honolulu.  Their headquarters while on the Islands will be the Surf Rider Hotel, but they plan to visit several of the other islands.

Leaving on May 8th for a month’s stay in New York are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Juster.  It seems that New York is the place to meet San Diegans this spring.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris Rubel had as their guests recently Lucille’s sisters, Mrs. M. Friedman of Minneapolis, and Mrs. Herbert Schlesinger of Palisades Park, N. J.  The visitors came especially to help the Rubels celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. 

Sidney A. Stokes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Stokes, has left for the Navy Officers Training School in Newport, R. I.   Sidney is a graduate from the University of California at Berkeley.  He also attended State College for two years.  While there, he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau and president of Hillel.

Mrs. Harris Stokes wishes to thank her many friends for the kindnesses shown her during her recent illness.

Miss Merle Goldman was complimented at a luncheon and kitchen shower at the home of Mrs. George Borushek on April 25th.  Co-hostess was Mrs. William Davis.  This is the first of a series of bridal parties to be given in honor of Merle who will become the bride of Mr. Merlin Henry, formerly of Long Beach and San Francisco on Sunday, June 21st. 

Mrs. Veitzer and Mrs. J. Rasnick, of Los Angeles, after making stop-overs at Omaha, Chicago and New York, sailed on the S. S. Flandre for Paris where they will visit with Mrs. Rasnick’s family and then go to Israel where many of Mrs. Veitzer’s relatives are eagerly awaiting her arrival.

Deceased {Louis Singer; Max Feinberg and Beatrice A. Silerman}

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

Louis Singer, 78, passed away on April 21 in a local hospital.  Born in Austria, he came to America when he was 28 and had been in the clothing business in San Diego for 40 years.
Services were conducted on April 22 by Rabbi Monroe Levens in the Lewis Colonial Mortuary with burial in the Home of Peace Cemetery.

Survivors are three daughters, Mrs. Lillian Newman, Mrs. Ruth Newman, and Mrs. Sadie Berenson, and a son, Irving Singer, all of San Diego.

Max Feinberg, 74, passed away on April 20 in a local hospital.  He had lived in San Diego for 40 years and was a member of the
Workman’s Circle and the Jewish Labor Committee.

Survivors include a son, Allen Berg; a daughter, Mrs. Beatrice Barrie, and a brother, Ben Feinberg, all of San Diego.
Private family services were held on April 24 in the Berge-Roberts Mortuary Chapel.

Beatrice A. Silverman, 44, of Coronado, passed away April 25.  Services were conducted in the Coronado Mortuary by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn on April 26.  Rabbi Cohn also held graveside services in the Home of Peace Cemetery on April 28.
Survivors are her mother, Mrs. Fannie Silverman, Coronado, two brothers, Milton Silverman, Coronado, and Sol Silverman, New York.

B.I. Sisterhood Mother-Child Lunch
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

Temple Berth Israel Sisterhood announces that its annual Mother-Child luncheon will be held on Saturday, May 2 in the Temple Center.  The lunch will start at noon following the monthly Junior Congregation Saturday Services led by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn in the Temple proper.

A “Peter Pan” motif will be carried out with favors and prizes to be distributed to the younger guests.  Movies will be shown as well as entertainment provided by the “Padre Puppeteers.”

Mrs. Victor Selten is chairman and serving on her committee are Mesdames:  Ray Lieberman, Seymour Rabin, Sam Cohen, Marty Ernest, David Miller, Irvin Kahn, Joseph Kwint and Sam Slaughter.

For reservations, phone immediately Mrs. Selten or Mrs. Cohen.

Local Women Attend
National Convention

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

More than 1,000 delegates from all parts of the United States and abroad gathered in New York for the 40th Anniversary Convention of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, Sunday, April 19.

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Delegates from San Diego Temple Beth Israel included Mrs. J. H. Gruenberg and Mrs. J. Drogin.

The five-day convention of the Sisterhoods marked 40 years of continuous service to Jewish and humanitarian causes.

J.W. V. Aux., No. 185
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

The first regular meeting to be conducted by the newly installed corps of officers of the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary No. 185, will be held on Monday, May 4th, at 8:30 p.m. in the War Memorial Building, Balboa Park.

Items of utmost importance are on the agenda, amongst them being the forthcoming Jewish War Veterans convention to be held here in San Diego in June.  All members are urged to attend.

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 4

2nd—Beth Israel Sisterhood Mother-Child Luncheon—Temple Center—12 noon.
3rd—Birdie Stodel B.B. Installation Dinner—El Cortez Hotel.
4th—United Jewish Appeal—“W” Day.
6th—Hebrew Home for the Aged Donor Luncheon—El Cortez Hotel—12 noon.
9th—T.I. Men’s Club—Mother’s Day Dinner Dance, El Morocco.
14th—City of Hope Mother’s Day Luncheon—El Cortez Hotel—12 noon.
17th—U.J.A.—Magic Carpet Day.
24th—Beth Israel Family Picnic—Balboa Park—11:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m.

“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" series
will be a daily feature until we run out of history.

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