Archive | August, 2017

Dallas rabbis address crowd at counter-protest

Dallas rabbis address crowd at counter-protest

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Andrew Paley at the rally.

Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Andrew Paley at the rally.

By Rafael McDonnell
Special to the TJP

Two Dallas rabbis were among the faith leaders who addressed an anti-white supremacy rally held on the Dallas City Hall plaza Aug. 19. Rabbi Nancy Kasten, co-chair of the group Faith Forward Dallas, and Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom spoke to a crowd estimated by Dallas police at over 2,500 people.

Counter-protesters descend on the Dallas City Hall plaza.

Counter-protesters descend on the Dallas City Hall plaza.

Rabbi Kasten remarked that the rally coincided with the end of Shabbat, and urged the attendees to use the event as an opportunity to “take yourself out of the external world and turn inward…give yourself permission to acknowledge that you are suffering. (Let go) of the fear, the anger, the frustration, the confusion that led you to be here tonight.
“We cannot possibly erase or ease the pain in our world if we do not acknowledge the pain in our hearts,” she added. “I have faith that the outward symbols of white supremacy will be removed from our city. But the bigger tasks will still remain. For Jews, this was a mighty wake-up call to that fact. Our ability to be agents of healing and transformation depends on our determination to continue once the tip of the iceberg has been removed, to melt the structural underpinnings of that iceberg for everyone.”

Rabbi Andrew Paley speaks to a crowd of approximately 2,500 people.

Rabbi Andrew Paley speaks to a crowd of approximately 2,500 people.

Rabbi Paley opened his remarks by saying that the rally visibly demonstrated that “no one is supreme over anybody else.” He then quoted lyrics from the 1965 song Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds, which are based in part on the book of Ecclesiastes.
“Lately, it seems we are in the season of hate that has emerged from the periphery, closer to the mainstream now more than I can ever remember in my lifetime …we are here tonight to clearly and loudly proclaim that the time for love and the time for peace, that season is at hand,” he said.
Rabbi Paley continued, interrupted by cheers from the crowd, “Nothing that (white supremacists) could ever say or do will ever, ever make me hate you. You are safe in my home and in my temple. If you are in need of shalom, of peace and wholeness, our arms and doors are always open.”
The rally was held one week after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the planned removal of a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. One of the counter-protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Nineteen other people were injured. As for the Dallas rally, police report there were no arrests.

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Friendship, community gateways to learning skills

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Dear Families,
It’s time to go back to school. As many have heard me say, “Camp is a more important experience than school.”
My reason is that it is in a social setting where we learn skills that will carry us through life. The knowledge we can always get. At camp, we make friends. Friendship — chaverut — is an important value in Judaism because friendship helps one to become the best person we can be. We learn from, through and with our friends. The rabbis insisted that study be done in pairs called chevruta, because they knew this was the best way to learn. It says in Pirke Avot (1:6), “Acquire for yourself a friend.” We can have many people with whom we spend time, but a true friend is unique.
A true friend is a partner, one who shares our journey. The rabbi asked his students how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun. One said, “When you see an animal in the distance and can tell if it is a horse or a cow.”
“No,” said the master.
Another said, “When you look at a tree in the distance and can tell if it is a fig tree or a peach tree.”
“Wrong again,” said the master.
“Then when?” asked the students. And the master replied, “When you look at the face of a man or woman and see that he is your friend. For, if you cannot do this, then no matter what time it is by the sun, it is still night.”
Rabbi Wayne Dosick writes, “In every friendship, you can see and reflect a vision of hope for the entire world: the time when billions of individual people will seek each other in kinship and friendship, and weave a multihued fabric of respect, goodwill and affection.”
Here are a few questions to think about when talking about friendship:

  • What does it mean to be a friend? Talk about your friends and why each one is so special to you.
  • Have you ever been “left out” by friends? How does it feel? Have you ever not included someone else?
  • How can you be a friend to yourself? Why is this important?
  • Talk about the meaning of this special song: “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend, and together we will walk in the ways of Hashem.”

SHABBAT DISCUSSION: Many Jewish prayers are written using a form called an acrostic. The rabbis took a special word and each letter of the word was the first letter of each sentence. Write an acrostic poem with the word “friend” as the key word.

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US mayors’ group, ADL agree to combat hate

US mayors’ group, ADL agree to combat hate

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

By Ben Sales
JTA

NEW YORK — The mayors of America’s largest cities are launching a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League to combat hate and bigotry.
Nearly 200 mayors have joined the agreement, which was announced Friday, since it was first circulated Tuesday night among the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The mayors are agreeing to explicitly condemn racism, white supremacy and  bigotry, and to implement educational and public safety programs to safeguard vulnerable populations and discourage discrimination.
“There is absolutely no place for racism, hate, extremism, or bigotry in Fort Worth,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement. “As we mourn the tragic events that transpired in Charlottesville Virginia, it is more important than ever that mayors across this nation stand up against any and all extremist groups that attempt to divide us. In Fort Worth, we are a compassionate community that celebrates our diversity.  I’m proud to work with over 250 mayors across the United States to heal our nation, and change the conversation back to love and respect for one another.”

The Anti-Defamation League has partnered with the mayors of several American cities to combat hate in the United States.

The Anti-Defamation League has partnered with the mayors of several American cities to combat hate in the United States.

Signers include the mayors of New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and Phoenix.
“For decades, America’s mayors have taken a strong position in support of civil rights and in opposition to racism and discrimination of all kinds,” the Mayors’ Compact reads. “We are now seeing efforts in our states and at the highest levels of our government to weaken existing civil rights policies and reduce their enforcement. We have seen an increase in hate violence, xenophobic rhetoric, and discriminatory actions that target Muslims, Jews and other minorities.”
The compact sets out a 10-point program that includes publicly condemning bigotry; ensuring public safety while protecting free speech; training and funding law enforcement to enforce hate crime laws; working with community leaders to combat bigotry; and strengthening anti-bias education programs in schools.
Many of the points echo a plan of action that the ADL called on the White House to adopt earlier this week. The group proposed the plan following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and President Donald Trump’s response, which the ADL and many others have slammed.
“The events in Charlottesville once again showed us we have much work to do to bring Americans together,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director on a conference call with reporters. “We know that hate is on the rise. ADL can’t wait any longer for the president to act. ADL is ready to work with communities across the country to combat hate.”
The announcement of the compact comes during a high-profile week for the ADL, which combats anti-Semitism and bigotry. The group received $1 million donations from Apple and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, and announced a partnership with Bustle, a dating app, to block bigoted profiles.
Other mayors also portrayed the compact as a response in part to the president’s equivocation of white supremacists and those who oppose them. Steve Adler, the Jewish mayor of Austin, Texas, who has volunteered for the ADL in the past, said during the call that “mayors don’t need a teleprompter to say Nazis are bad.”
“There’s a clear lack of a moral compass,” Mayor Shane Bemis of Gresham, Oregon, a city of 100,000 east of Portland, said on the call. “This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, how he has continued to divide us since the election. It is clearly, in my view, an absence of any sort of moral leadership from the president.”
But mayors were divided on a couple of contentious issues, including the removal of Confederate monuments from cities and how to strike a balance between protecting civil liberties while guarding against incitement and threats to public safety. Tom Cochran, CEO of the mayors’ conference, said policy on how to deal with Confederate memorials should be left up to individual cities.
“This discussion is not about monuments,” he said in the call. “This conversation is about coming together to denigrate all acts of hate wherever they occur, and making sure we protect public safety while making sure that the right to free speech will always be protected.”

 

*****

List of Texas mayors

  • Steve Adler, Austin
  • Karl Mooney, College Station
  • Mike Rawlings, Dallas
  • Chris Watts, Denton
  • Betsy Price, Fort Worth
  • Sylvester Turner, Houston
  • Harry LaRosiliere, Plano
  • Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio
  • John Thomaides, San Marcos

To read the full document, go to www.mayorscompact.org.

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Dallas Doings: Eclipse watch, preparing for High Holidays

Dallas Doings: Eclipse watch, preparing for High Holidays

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Data of Plano’s Soul Shift will inspire for the High Holidays

If you read Rabbi Yogi Robkin’s biweekly TJP column, you know this is a guy who loves to teach Torah and Judaism. The DATA of Plano co-director has been busy preparing his latest set of classes in preparation for the High Holidays. The three-part series will run from 8 to 9 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays beginning Aug. 30 at DATA of Plano, 3251 Independence Pkwy. in Plano.
Robkin explained that sometimes it’s disappointing that we enter into the High Holidays with the intention of transforming ourselves but that oftentimes we are left wanting because the change doesn’t last for very long. The question is how do you create change that will take root. “The goal of the class is that the change you make through the wisdom of the class will last beyond the High Holidays,” he says.

Rabbi Yogi Robkin

Rabbi Yogi Robkin

The class is accessible to everyone from the secular Jew to the Torah-observant.
“Regardless of where we are on the religious spectrum, there are things we all want to change that we aren’t comfortable with. Whether it’s character traits, self-image, anything that we’ve noticed that we want to change about our lives.”
To engage those considering the class, Robkin has produced three short videos tackling some of the basics of change to whet the appetite. They can be viewed on YouTube by searching Soul Shift with Rabbi Yogi or at Facebook.com/rabbiyogirobkin. “There is a dearth of really high-quality videos on Jewish wisdom. What I want people to think about whether it’s a column or a video is that it should be fun, dynamic, meaningful and hopefully transformational.”
Rabbi Robkin hopes that his class will be engaging and transformational. He said this is not a class about halachah. The class is based on two key sources: Rabbi Reuven Leuchter, who has a new book called Teshuvah: Restoring Life, and the Mahahral of Prague (often credited with creating the Golem), who also wrote a book on teshuvah.
“My classes are taught in a way that’s really understandable for the beginner, but also challenging for a person who’s not a beginner. If it wouldn’t feel fresh and compelling to me, I wouldn’t teach it.”
Cost of the class is $18. To sign up, email yrobkin@dataofplano.org. He’ll be thrilled to hear from you.

Enjoying the eclipse at The Legacy Willow Bend

The Legacy Willow Bend had an amazing solar eclipse watch party Monday. The community hosted a viewing of the eclipse for residents to commemorate the event, and attendees used NASA-approved eclipse glasses or pinhole viewing devices to safely watch the sun disappear.

Suzanne Mayo, Gilda Hesdorffer and Stephanie Jones

Suzanne Mayo, Gilda Hesdorffer and Stephanie Jones

Win and Joanne Smith

Win and Joanne Smith

For one resident of The Legacy Willow Bend, Dr. Roger Rian, the moment was of particular interest as he viewed a solar eclipse for the first time. With a lifelong interest in astronomy, the former radiologist even led a presentation in advance of the eclipse, to provide fellow residents with background information about the astronomical event and what it means scientifically.
Rian believes this eclipse was incredibly impactful for the scientific community, and he’s excited to see what discoveries and observations will be made. He explains that the sun’s corona was visible for almost two hours as the path of totality moved across the country. That’s an astounding amount of time for scientists to make observations about the sun, which they normally don’t have the opportunity to see. He is looking forward to poring through the photos and data compiled after the eclipse.

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In struggle to change, start from bottom

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Change is difficult!
That much is abundantly clear to all of us. For if there is one thing we humans are, it is creatures of habit, and change is all about disrupting equilibrium. I’ve thought a lot about change over the years, what needed change and how to get there, and pursued personal transformation with sincere and ambitious resolve. And while I have, no doubt, experienced my fair share of personal successes in the game of change, far too many of my attempts suffered from failure to thrive.
As many of you can most likely relate to, my endeavors in personal change seemed to frustratingly follow a similar course and pattern. The outset, marked with a burst of excitement and optimism, propelled a change of course for a good few days, weeks — or, in the best-case scenario, months. Inevitably, though, time and nature exerted their influences and a reversion to the mean pronounced the end to the experiment.
The fact that a return to one’s “normal” is, well … normal, doesn’t make what feels like a colossal individual failure and a confirmation of personal inadequacy any easier to take, and it certainly makes any and all subsequent attempts at change harder to justify. After all, why go through all the exertion and pain that change requires if you’ll end up back at square one anyways?
I knew there had to be a better way to create meaningful, long-lasting change; I just didn’t know what it was.
It was a chance vaad (ethical discourse) with one of the leading ba’alei mussar (ethicists) of our generation, Rabbi Reuven Leuchter Shlit’’a, that first reformed my understanding of the nature of change as well as the nature of change’s counterpart, teshuvah, repentance.
R’ Leuchter shared with us a piece of Aggadata (non-legalistic rabbinic literature) that I must have heard dozens of times before, and yet his interpretation of the composition was fresh, revelatory and indeed life-changing!
The Talmud under discussion was a portion in Tractate Menachos (29b) that discusses the letters God used in creation:
“This world was created with the letter hey and the world to come was created with the letter yud. And why was this world created with the letter hey? Because… anyone who wants to leave this world (in sin, by falling out of the bottom opening of the hey) may do so. And what is the (significance) of the upper opening on the side? To teach us that anyone who desires to return in teshuvah (‘repentance’) can elevate himself and enter through it. And why can’t he simply return through the bottom opening (of which he initially descended)? (Answer:) That will surely not succeed.”
Rabbi Leuchter explained that this Talmudic teaching isn’t merely informing us that human failure and the ever-present possibility of repentance are hardwired into creation, but also what successful and unsuccessful teshuvah looks like. The Sages’ admonition that failure will meet all who attempt to return through the very hole they fell from serves as a strong warning against fighting one’s compulsions head-on and apprises us of the futility of this brand of teshuvah. There is a mighty gravitational pull that our sin of choice exerts upon us that keeps us returning to our old ways and it’s our imagining that we can overcome this compulsion by sheer force of will that has us stuck in this tired cycle of frustration (sin, repent, repeat). The Talmud is encouraging us to reckon with this dynamic force for what it really is, a substantive, compelling and spiritually deadly force that cannot be overcome in head-to-head battle.
So what is the way to topple this intimate, intangible adversary? By rising above it and re-entering the spiritual world through the upper opening in the letter hey. In other words, true, long-lasting teshuvah can only be found through the process of changing and redirecting our higher selves, by changing from the top! In dedicating study time to the areas of the Torah that examine any particular mitzvah or aveira (sin) we slowly find ourselves more closely aligned with that spiritual ideal or repelled by that spiritual pitfall in such a way that an organic mindshift around the matter noticeably develops.
It is particularly through this very process that we create the weaponry strong enough to succeed in spiritual battle, for our concentrated efforts in the study hall have borne a potent anti-gravity that elevates us above our powerful gravitational pull toward vice.
As Rabbi Leuchter writes in his newly published book Teshuva: Restoring Life — “The work of teshuvah is carried out on a much deeper level — it is not about using tactics to change our actions. It is rather about working on ourselves to the point where our drives and desires, and indeed all of our being, are in line with the world of the Torah” (pp. 26-27).
For the first time in my life I felt like I had the winning methodology of teshuvah in my hands, and it did indeed work! I must admit, though, that as my microfocused Torah study slowly came to an end, much of my newly formed mindshift eroded. I had to learn the hard way that for many of us there is a secondary process needed to seal the teshuvah deal — change from the bottom!
Next time we’ll discuss change from a more detailed look at change from the top.
To contact Rabbi Yogi Robkin, email him at yrobkin@dataofplano.org.

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Around the Town: scholarships, 90th birthday

Around the Town: scholarships, 90th birthday

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Garsek Lodge presents annual scholarship awards

On Aug. 11, the Isadore Garsek B’nai B’rith Lodge No. 269 of Fort Worth presented their annual scholarships to two extremely talented recent high school graduates.AwardeesandParents

The awardees pictured with their parents (from left) Marcy Paul, Isaac Narrett, David Narrett, Steve Imber, Jared Imber, Jill Imber and Barry Schneider of the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith

The awardees pictured with their parents (from left) Marcy Paul, Isaac Narrett, David Narrett, Steve Imber, Jared Imber, Jill Imber and Barry Schneider of the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith

The academic scholarship is competitive and is awarded principally based on academic achievement and accomplishments; demonstrated interests and participation in both school-oriented and outside activities are also important considerations. The BBYO participation grant is based solely on participation in BBYO at the local, regional and national level.
This year’s Academic Grant winner is Jared Imber, son of Steve and Jill Imber of Fort Worth. Jared graduated from Fort Worth Country Day School in May with a 99.68 GPA. He was a member of the High Honor Roll, Cum Laude Society, Spanish Honor Roll and Math Honor Roll. Additionally, he received the National Spanish Exam gold and silver medals, Outstanding Undergraduate in Science Award, and the Unniversity of Pennsylvania Book Award for exemplifying the qualities and characteristics of Benjamin Franklin — a scholar, innovator, and one who serves the community.
He was awarded a grant by Fort Worth Country Day of the American Revolution for good citizenship and the Beth-El Men of Reform Judaism. If this was not enough, he is an avid competitive golfer serving as team captain in grades 11 and 12. In 2014 he placed second in the Fort Worth City Junior Championship and the JCC Maccabi games. For fun, he participates as a member of the debate team and the volleyball team and plays sax in the jazz band. Jared is also active in BBYO, where he helped relaunch the Fort Worth chapter of AZA. He has been a teacher’s aide at Beth-El.
Jared will attend Tulane University in New Orleans this fall in a pre-med program majoring in biochemistry and Spanish.
This year’s winner of the BBYO Participation Award goes to Isaac Narrett, son of David Narrett and Marcy Paul, both of Fort Worth. Isaac also graduated from Fort Worth Country Day School in May with a GPA of 97.64. He is a member of the High Honor Roll and the Cum Laude Society, and is a Bass scholar and a Whiz Quiz participant. He plays volleyball, baseball and basketball. Isaac has been a member of AZA since ninth grade. He served as the region’s eighth-grade recruitment chairman. This involved over 1,200 members. He attended the International Leadership Training Conference in Pennsylvania and served as vice president of Membership, vice president of Treasury, vice president of Judaism and vice president of Community Service.
Isaac uses the leadership skills he learned in AZA throughout the Fort Worth community. He represented Fort Worth Country Day School at the American Legion’s Boys State prestigious education program of government instruction. He served as a counselor at Camp Impact for four years and was a Counselor in Training at Greene Family Camp. He helped keep the grounds around the temple clean, served as a teacher’s aide at Beth-El for two years and worked this summer as a counselor at Greene Family Camp.
Isaac will attend the University of Michigan this fall studying statistics, economics and international relationships.
Congratulations to all of the winners and their families.
Scholarship applications are available in the spring of each year. Look for announcements in your synagogue’s newsletter and the TJP.

Sandler’s 90th birthday one to remember

Mazal tov to Bernice Sandler, who celebrated her 90th birthday Aug. 12. Bernice is joined in the photo by her fellow members of the “90 and Over Club.” Pictured (standing, from left) are Joyce Slagle, Rachel Greenstein and Joy Schroeder. Seated are Sandler and Pearl McFarland.Sandler's party

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Can pen truly be mightier than sword?

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

I am not now, and have never been, a political person.
I vote — but I don’t talk about whom I vote for. I support organizations and causes I agree with by lending my name and writing my checks, but I don’t attend rallies. I still, in this time of guns and violence, continue to believe in the power of words.
That’s why I’m using this space today to present a poem:

This is the land where hate should die —
No feuds of faith, no spleen of race,
No darkly brooding fear should try
Beneath our flag to find a place.
Lo! every people here has sent
Its sons to answer freedom’s call;
Their lifeblood is the strong cement
That builds and binds the nation’s wall.
This is the land where hate should die —
Though dear to me my faith and shrine,
I serve my country well when I
Respect beliefs that are not mine.
He little loves his land who’d cast
Upon his neighbor’s word a doubt,
Or cite the wrongs of ages past
For present rights to bar him out.
This is the land where hate should die —
This is the land where strife should cease,
Where foul, suspicious fear should fly
Before our flag of light and peace.
Then let us purge from poisoned thought
That service to the State we give,
And so be worthy as we ought
Of this great Land in which we live!

Yes, I know it’s old-fashioned poetry. It should be, because it’s almost 100 years old. It was written in 1920 by Denis McCarthy, born in 1870 in Ireland, an immigrant who arrived in America at age 15 and fell in love with his new homeland. He became a teacher, and his poem was widely used in acculturation classes for newcomers from many places, for many years.
I first read this as a high school senior, back in 1950, and never forgot it. For all the years since, I could have recited it from memory. But I never had a reason to — until now. Suddenly, this old poem seems to speak directly to every major problem we’re having in America today: immigration, religious conflicts, racial conflicts, fears of “others,” whomever they may be. And there is also this irony: The poet’s name harks back to another McCarthy, who in his Communist witch hunts silenced many.
Can the pen be mightier than the sword?
I was a child during World War II. Then, we knew patriotism, but we never learned the realities of war. When the State of Israel was born in 1948, the Jewish population of our neighborhood cheered, and our high school responded by adding Hebrew to its standard language offerings: Spanish, French and — yes — German. We didn’t see the irony in the latter yet; we knew little or nothing of the Holocaust for years to come. We grew into adulthood in college years that ended for me just as Korea exploded; later, the newspaper I worked for assigned me to compile a column about servicemen; it was killed itself when most of what I had to report each week was the deaths of local young men who had been fighting in Vietnam.
Then, I never understood why we were involved in either of those far-away places. And I still don’t…
But I understand that our country is now confronting problems that have simmered under its surface for many long years, bursting out then with full force only occasionally. Now, those problems are our everyday occurrences. That’s why I’m putting the words of this poem in front of you, and asking you to read it again, and to pass it on to others. Denis McCarthy lived through the era of “No Irish Need Apply” to write his dreams for his country.
Now: “This is the land where hate must die.” That is not political. It is our only hope for America.

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Hate in Charlottesville: The day the Nazi called me Shlomo

Hate in Charlottesville: The day the Nazi called me Shlomo

Posted on 18 August 2017 by admin

By Ron Kampeas
JTA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The white supremacists, for all their vaunted purpose, appeared to be disoriented.

Some 500 had gathered at a park here Saturday to protest this southern Virginia city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the park. Pressured by the American Civil Liberties Union, Charlottesville had allowed the march at Emancipation Park — or Lee Park, the protesters’ preferred name.

White supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. (Ron Kampeas) Holding Nazi flags, white supremacists march at a park in Charlottesville, Va., protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Aug. 12, 2017. (Ron Kampeas_

White supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. (Ron Kampeas)
Holding Nazi flags, white supremacists march at a park in Charlottesville, Va., protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Aug. 12, 2017. (Ron Kampeas_

That worked for an hour or so, and then the protesters and counterprotesters started to pelt one another with plastic bottles — it was unclear who started it. Gas bombs — mildly irritating — seemed to come more from the white supremacists. Finally the sides rushed each other headlong and there were scuffles.

So Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and, heeding the police, the white supremacists filed out of the park and started walking, north, but to where no one seemed sure. There was talk of meeting at a parking lot, but which parking lot, no one was sure. As they approached the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, a bucolic hill overlooking an overpass, they sputtered to a stop for consultations and did what marchers on a seasonably warm day do: They sat on the grass, sought shade and chatted.

I had been following at a distance with a handful of journalists and folks who were there not so much to counterprotest but to deliver an alternative message. Zelic Jones from Richmond bore a poster with a saying by Martin Luther King Jr., “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

I climbed the hillock to see if anyone would be willing to talk. On the way, the marchers had studiously ignored reporters, but I thought, at rest, they might be more amenable. It was not to be. One man, wearing black slacks, a white shirt, sunglasses and black baseball cap, shadowed me. He moved to stand between me and anyone I had hoped to interview.

I looked him directly in the eye.

“How’s it going, Shlomo?” he asked.

“My name is Ron,” I said. I hadn’t identified myself as Jewish.

“You look like a Shlomo.”

“You want to talk?” I offered.

“I don’t talk to the press,” he said. “They just lie.” He scampered away.

The exchange was jarring in how personal it was. I’ve been hated directly for many things (try being a journalist, anywhere), but it had been a while — I’d have to cast back to early childhood — since I’d faced visceral hatred just for, well, looking Jewish.

A year ago I had attended at a hotel in Washington, D.C., the unveiling of the “alt-right,” convened by one of its lead theorists, Richard Spencer, who also was in attendance in Charlottesville. That news conference — an expression of white supremacy argued in plummy tones that disguised its hateful content — was at a remove from the hatred stalking the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday. Spencer was polite and helpful after the fact. His ideas are toxic, but in the airless corridors of a Washington hotel, they seemed denuded of malice; they seem to be the imaginings of an intemperate toddler.

Here in Charlottesville, the hatred was present and real and would before the day ended apparently kill someone, when a car driven by a 20-year-old Ohio man plowed through counterprotesters.

Among the 500 white supremacists were men and women bearing signs like “Goyim know!” (Know what?) and “Jews are satans children.” There were Nazi flags. There were men all in black, T-shirts and slacks and army boots and helmets, jogging along with plastic shields. There were the men who sang of “blood and soil” as they marched to the Emancipation Park event. And when the white supremacists got their act together and gathered in McIntire Park, they shouted “Jew” every time the name of Charlotteville’s Jewish mayor, Michael Signer, was mentioned.

Of course, the hostility was not confined to Jews: As targets, Jews were not even preeminent; blacks were. There were the “White lives matter” T-shirts. Marching along McIntire Road, the white supremacists shouted the N-word at drivers passing by. More prominent than the Nazi flags were the Confederate flags and their variants.

The focus on Jews was anomalous: This was supposed to be about the Confederacy and Southern heritage, and defenders of the Southern cause are not always identified with hostility toward Jews. About an hour’s drive away, Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, a Confederate monument, has a carefully tended Jewish section.

And yet here it was, the chants of “Jews will not replace us” (as?). I had two more personal encounters. At the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, a man wearing a floppy beige sunhat started following me and explaining the lie of the Holocaust, the evil of the Jews, the value of DNA in determining purity. I retreated as he ran after me, screaming, “My mother says I’m a Jew! My MOTHER! Does that mean I’m entitled to something?” (I resisted replying, “Your mother’s love.”)

And earlier, filing out of Emancipation Park, a group of youths surrounded and shouted at me, “Take that wall in Israel down! An open border for everyone!” — a reference to a popular theory on the far right that Jews are engineering open borders to bring the United States to ruination while keeping Israel pure. They moved on.

Anomalies like these tend to bemuse, at least me. What the racists believe to be hurtful jibes come across more as non sequiturs, as mouthings of the deluded or the possessed. Why Shlomo of all names? What was that about DNA? A wall in Israel?

And then the car rammed the crowd, and there was a fatality, and some 35 injured, including five critically, and it was harder to pick out the absurd and use that as a way of keeping an emotional distance from the hate speech. I counted the wounded, rushed by stretchers into the back of ambulances, the less seriously injured patched up with torn cloths, leaning on friends’ shoulders and wincing.

I retreated to a cafe that was open only to clergy and the media dispensing free water and beer. I filed a story, and on the large wall TV, CNN said President Donald Trump was ready to speak.

The cafe fell silent. There was, it seems, even among this crowd of liberal clergy, a thirst for a message of unity from a president who has pledged, and more often than not failed, to lead us all.

Trump engaged in some throat clearing about the Veterans Administration, and then began, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence, on many sides.” At “on many sides” the room erupted into shouts of anger. On cue, Trump repeated, “On many sides.”

There was only one side visibly and overwhelmingly gripped by hate on Saturday in Charlottesville.

As the day wore on, the White House refused to retreat from Trump’s many sides comment, and the president’s tweets didn’t add clarity.

“Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!” was his last tweet of the day.

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Lying a sad fact of life

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

Show me a person who believes that he or she has never, ever told a lie and I will show you a very rare bird indeed — either that or a liar.
Given the fact that we are in the midst of a prolonged post-election investigation involving a foreign power and possible collusion with one or more members of the president’s staff, the subject of lies and ascertaining “truth” belches at us every time we turn on the news.
In all fairness to the politicians, the group of people generally rated high on the lying scale, the public itself is guilty of lying, no matter what their occupation.
My column today barely scratches the surface of this topic of deception. Checking Amazon’s book catalog, I found over 50 different titles before I quit counting those dealing with lies and detection techniques.
Among the many reasons people lie are to fulfill a wish, to avoid the truth, to avoid punishment, to “get back” at someone, to heighten or maintain self-esteem, to put one over, to change the behavior of others, or to be treated in a certain way.
While the study of human behavior has been investigated for hundreds of years, it has been only in the last 50 or more years that the study of detecting deception has undergone scholarly research.
Here are some of the major findings. Children start lying as early as six months, primarily to get attention. Most people assume avoiding eye contact is a sign of lying, but it is not. It is normal for people to keep eye contact for just a small percentage of time.
People are lied to as many as 100-200 times a day and fail to detect lies 54 percent of the time. One slightly positive sign is that one quarter of the time, our lies are for another person’s benefit.
Amazingly, 75-80 percent of lies go undetected. The people who really need to detect deception — juries, police, and judges — fare poorly at detecting lies. Only the Secret Service scores high on lie detection.
In addition to law enforcement and intelligence, the group most interested in lie detection, as you might expect, is the corporate world of industry, business and finance.
Much research and analysis on the subject of lying and lie detection is available for any and all liars and lie detectors to read.
Pamela Meyer, the author of Liespotting, Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, is one of the most sought-after speakers and consultants on this “deceptive” subject.
In little more than 200 pages, she describes the techniques of detecting lies from the face, body, and words of those being interviewed. A very useful read for those who need to detect lies, and, of course, those not wanting to be caught lying.
Not that you would, but the next time you consider telling a lie, remember one of Mark Twain’s thoughts on why it’s easier to tell the truth. … “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

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Many far-right groups protest in Charlottesville

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

By Ben Sales
JTA

Some believe the “white race” is in danger. Some believe the United States was built by and for white people and must now embrace fascism. Some believe minorities are taking over the country. And some believe an international Jewish conspiracy is behind the threat.
These are the people who were rallying in Charlottesville.
The “Unite the Right” rally Saturday saw hundreds of people on America’s racist fringe converge in defense of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and brawl with counterprotesters. The rally ended after a white supremacist, James Fields, rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the rally.
The rally was the largest white supremacist gathering in a decade, according to the Anti-Defamation League, but it wasn’t the work of one extremist group or coalition. Spearheaded by a local far-right activist named Jason Kessler, the rally saw several racist, anti-Semitic and fascist groups, new and old, come together.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups, the rally included “a broad spectrum of far-right extremist groups — from immigration foes to anti-Semitic bigots, neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, Patriot and militia types, outlaw bikers, swastika-wearing neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members.”
Many of the attendees, says the ADL’s Oren Segal, were young men who became radicalized on the Internet and were not affiliated with any particular group. While some protesters belonged to the “alt-right,” a loose movement of racists, anti-Semites and nativists, others were part of older white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
At the rally, protesters were seen carrying Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as signs with racist and anti-Semitic slogans. They chanted “Sieg heil,” gave Nazi salutes and shouted derogatory phrases at passers-by.
“They really believe they have to save the white race, and to do that, they have to achieve some sort of white ethno-state,” Segal said. “They tend to be young, more frenetic in terms of their use of social media, while older more traditional groups like the Klan are in decline. Regardless of differences, it’s all the same hate.”
Here’s a guide to a few of the most prominent hate groups who showed up in Charlottesville.

Vanguard America

James Fields joined this relatively new fascist white supremacist group at the rally. On the homepage of its website, Vanguard America declares, “Our people are subjugated while an endless tide of incompatible foreigners floods this nation.”
The group trumpets the concept of “blood and soil,” an idea championed by the Nazis claiming that the inherent features of a people are the land it lives on and its “blood,” or race. In addition to opposing multiculturalism and feminism, Vanguard America’s manifesto calls for a country “free from the influence of international corporations, led by a rootless group of international Jews, which place profit beyond the interests of our people, or any people.”
According to the ADL, the group has posted dozens of fliers on campuses in at least 10 states. Its posters bear slogans like “Beware the International Jew” and “Fascism: The next step for America.” This year, the group defaced a New Jersey Holocaust memorial with a banner reading “(((Heebs will not divide us))).” Its signs at Saturday’s rally bore the fasces, a traditional fascist symbol depicting a bundle of sticks with a protruding axe blade.

Ku Klux Klan

One of the country’s oldest and most infamous hate groups, the Klan has primarily targeted black people, along with Jews, Catholics and other minorities. The KKK throughout its history has been responsible for lynchings, bombings, beatings and other racist acts of murder and abuse.
Group members have historically worn white hoods, to hide their identities and to mimic ghosts. Its leaders, including white supremacist activist David Duke, take on bizarre titles such as grand wizard and exalted cyclops.
The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans following the Civil War to harass black people, and at its height in the 1920s it had some 4 million members, according to the SPLC. An ADL report this year said the Klan has shrunk to about 3,000 total members spread across 40 groups in 33 states, mostly in the South and East.
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said in a video at the rally Saturday. “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back, and that’s what we got to do.”

Identity Evropa

A new group that affiliates with the alt-right, Identity Evropa seeks to promote “white American culture,” and also has posted fliers on college campuses. The group, which works with white supremacist pseudo-intellectual Richard Spencer, claims there are inherent differences among races and that white people are more intelligent than others. Identity Evropa sees itself as “identitarian,” a far-right European ideology seeking to reassert white identity.
The group supports a policy of “remigration” of immigrants out of the United States. Some of its posters bear the slogan “You will not replace us,” a chant that Charlottesville protesters paired with “Jews will not replace us.” Identity Evropa does not allow Jews as members.

League of the South

If the rally’s proximate goal was to preserve the statue of Lee in Charlottesville, the most obvious participants were the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group. The organization supports Southern secession from the United States and “believes that Southern culture is distinct from, and in opposition to, the corrupt mainstream American culture.”
The group envisions a Christian theocratic government that enforces strict gender norms. It opposes immigration as well as Islam. League of the South defines the “Southern people” as being of “European descent,” calls itself “pro-white” and states that it “has neither been the will of God Almighty nor within the power of human legislation to make any two men mechanically equal.” Duke gave the keynote address at one of the organization’s gatherings this year.
According to the SPLC, the group founded a paramilitary unit in 2014.

National Socialist Movement

This one is pretty self-explanatory — America’s version of the Nazi Party. It is a white supremacist organization that would either deport “non-whites” — including Jews — or strip them of citizenship and subject them to a discriminatory regime (the group’s manifesto proposes both). The group is also anti-feminist and homophobic.
The National Socialist Movement idolizes Adolf Hitler, who it says “loved and cared deeply for the average person.” Until about a decade ago, the group would protest in full Nazi regalia, which it has swapped out for black uniforms.
Its crest features a swastika superimposed on an altered version of the Stars and Stripes.

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