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Jewish films head to big screens

Posted on 31 August 2017 by admin

JCC prepares for annual Jewish Film Festival

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

The best of Jewish cinema hits the big screens of Dallas next month when the annual Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, presented by the Jewish Community Center of Dallas and the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, opens. Eleven films of Jewish content, and many from Jewish writers and directors, will play to open audiences Sept. 7-27, almost all at the Studio Movie Grill at Spring Valley and Central Expressway.
Tagged “like Sundance, only Jewsier,” the Film Festival, in its 21st year, is a celebration of film and entertainment, history and talent, all with Jewish flavor, fervor and fascination.
The 2017 entrees, many with Israeli-Arab conflict and post-Holocaust themes, are topical. All foreign language films are screened with English subtitles and, with the exception of the opening-night The Origin of Violence, all films are appropriate for guests in high school and older.
“We just lost Peter and it’s definitely difficult to think about welcoming audiences without him. He loved opening night and he’d always turn around after the start of the films to check out reactions, but I know he’ll always be in my heart. This year, as trying as it was, he’d come home and still screen the films,” said Brenda Marcus. With her husband Peter, who passed away in June, Brenda has chaired the event for the past eight years.
The couple screened over 100 films each year, working with Rachelle Weiss Crane, the J’s director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living and producer of the Festival, and event committee members Judy Borejdo, Andrew Cobert, Alexander Goldberg, Steve Krant, Catherine and Paul Lake, Ann and Steve Meyer, Haiya Naftalie, Gerri Patterson, Micole Pidgeon, Ted Rubin, Carole and Joram Wolanow, and Sissy Zoller.
“We started doing the festival together because I wanted to do it and he wanted to be with me,” said Marcus. “As the years went on, Peter literally lived and breathed the festival. Both of us loved bringing people from all over our community together in a celebration of Jewish culture.”
The festival is dedicated in Dr. Marcus’ memory, recognizing his great contributions. While he appreciated all of this year’s films, Fever at Dawn — which highlighted the courage of Holocaust survivors to embrace life and love —  was at the top of his list, its romantic nature one with which he could identify. He was married to his beloved Brenda for 50 years; the two met as teens at Muizenberg’s Snake Pit Beach in South Africa and lived a fairytale life.
“Peter’s keen eye and intellect and Brenda’s heart and vision for what touches the audience have always made for an incredible experience,” Weiss Crane said. “Peter is already sorely missed but we’re absolutely grateful Brenda will continue to lead this special festival.”
Over 100 individual, family and corporate sponsors, as well as the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, AJC Dallas, American Associates Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Belmont Village Senior Living Turtle Creek, Bnai Zion, Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah’s Chai Lights, Men’s Club and Sisterhood, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Legacy Senior Communities, Southern Methodist University, Temple Emanu-El, and the Jewish War Vets of US Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256, join the Jewish Community Center of Dallas and the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs to bring this year’s festival to the community. Talkbacks will be led by experts on many of the films’ themes.
The Origin of Violence (French), with a talkback session led by Congregation Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Adam Roffman, is based on Fabrice Humbert’s semi-autobiographical novel. Nathan Fabre, a teacher in a French-German school working on his thesis about French resistance to the Nazis during World War II, discovers a photograph of a concentration camp prisoner who strikingly resembles his own father. Haunted by the image, he unsuccessfully asks his father for answers. Intent on discovering the truth, Nathan digs into his family history, complicating his relationship with a German woman whose family history is also unclear.
The Women’s Balcony (Hebrew), with an evening and daytime matinee screening, is the story of a joyous celebration turned disaster when a women’s balcony at an Orthodox synagogue collapses during a bar mitzvah party, injuring a number of people and leaving the senior rabbi in a state of shock. When the younger and charismatic rabbi insists that the accident is a divine warning against female nonconformity, his fundamentalist ways soon divide the close-knit Sephardic congregation.
Keep Quiet, with talkback led by Philip Aronoff, honorary consul for Hungary, follows the three-year journey of Csanád Szegedi, a former member of the Hungarian radical nationalist party Jobbik, who regularly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric. When it’s revealed that his maternal grandparents were Jewish, he is guided by Rabbi Báruch Oberlander to embrace his newfound religion and forced to confront the painful truths of his family’s past, his own wrongdoing and the turbulent history of his country.
1945 (Hungarian), based on the acclaimed short story Homecoming by Gábor T. Szántó, tells of two Orthodox Jews arriving at the town’s train station with mysterious boxes labeled “fragrances.” The town clerk believes them to be heirs of deported Jews and expects them to demand back their property, lost during World War II, while others are afraid more survivors will come, posing a threat to the property and possessions claimed as their own. Dr. Nils Roemer, director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies, will direct 1945’s talkback session.
The Pickle Recipe (also with an evening and daytime showings) follows undisputed king of Detroit party MCs Joey Miller, whose prized sound equipment is destroyed; his own daughter’s simcha is upon the already in-debt single dad. Miller’s Uncle Morty offers to loan him the money — at a price: that he steal his grandmother’s treasured, and top secret, pickle recipe.
Ben Gurion: Epilogue (Hebrew) will feature a talkback by Deborah Bergeron, director of the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Greater Texas Region. Long-lost 1968 interview footage of an 82-year-old David Ben-Gurion, uncovered in the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem, allowed him a hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise. His introspective soul-searching and clear voice provide a surprising vision for today’s crucial decisions and the future of Israel.
Fever at Dawn (Hungarian) is based on Peter Gardos’ novel of the same title. Having been freed from a concentration camp, 25-year-old Miklós is being treated at a Swedish hospital, diagnosed with a terminal disease. Dr. Sarah Abosch Jacobson, senior director of Education at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, will speak about the film and Miklós’ relationship of correspondence with Lili, one of 117 Hungarian girls he writes to, optimistic and hoping for marriage and a long life.
Harmonia (Hebrew and Arabic), set inside a symphony hall, follows a childless Israeli musical couple seeking to form a family, and a musician of French-Arab descent from East Jerusalem, in this contemporary adaptation of the tale of Abraham and Sarah. A talkback with Fred Nathan, retired head of school, Ann and Nate Levine Academy, will follow the story of how two rival prodigies are born, one Jewish and one Arab, leading to a clash of cultures reconciled only through music.
Past Life (Hebrew, English, German and Polish) is a hybrid thriller and emotional melodrama of sisters: a combative liberal journalist Nana and her sister Sephi, a soprano and aspiring composer. Sephi is accosted by an elderly Polish woman, angrily accusing the girls’ father of murder. Traumatized by the encounter, the sisters launch an investigation, attempting to discover what really happened to their father in Poland during the war. Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, returning to Dallas as an adjunct lecturer in SMU’s Jewish Studies Program, will provide the post-screening conversation.
Joe’s Violin (the last with evening and daytime options) provides the improbable relationship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Brianna Perez from the Bronx, brought together by a donated musical instrument, proving the power of music, and acts of kindness, in the darkest of times.
Fanny’s Journey, based on an autobiographical novel by Fanny Ben-Ami, is a suspenseful and poignant coming-of-age drama. Following the arrest of their father in Paris, Fanny and her younger sisters Erika and Georgette are sent to a boarding school in France’s neutral zone, only temporarily as the Jewish students were then sent to another institution under the care of the tough, but tender, Madame Forman. The children’s fate is entrusted to young Fanny, who fearlessly treks through the countryside on a perilous mission to reach the Swiss border. Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies at UTD’s Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, is this film’s talkback leader.
“Our Festival has now, over more than two decades, built a reputation and people want their films to be shared here,” said Weiss Crane, already screening films for the 2018 Festival. “It’s really wonderful that the J allows us to produce such a quality event with fascinating films, such brilliant panelists, and a chance to share — and expand — the Jewish experience.”
Additional details, film trailers, and ticket sales are available at bit.ly/2xy5OpQ. Advance tickets (also available at the JCC) are $13 ($10/student with ID) and $16 at the door.

 

 

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Films

  • The Origin of Violence (7 p.m. Sept. 7)
  • The Women’s Balcony (9 p.m. Sept. 9)
  • Keep Quiet (2:30 p.m. Sept. 10)
  • 1945 (7 p.m. Sept. 11)
  • The Pickle Recipe (1 p.m. Sept. 12 and  9 p.m. Sept. 23)
  • Ben Gurion: Epilogue (7 p.m. Sept. 14)
  • Fever at Dawn (12:30 p.m. Sept. 17)
  • Harmonia (7 p.m. Sept. 18)
  • The Pickle Recipe (9 p.m. Sept. 23)
  • Past Life and Joe’s Violin (3 p.m. Sept. 24: the only showing at Hughes-Trigg Center at SMU)
  • The Women’s Balcony (1 p.m. Sept. 26)
  • Joe’s Violin (7 p.m. Sept. 27)
  • Fanny’s Journey (7 p.m. Sept. 27)
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Hurricane Harvey: Storm swamps Houston, Texas coast

Hurricane Harvey: Storm swamps Houston, Texas coast

Posted on 28 August 2017 by admin

The Jewish Herald-Voice has kept tabs on the historic flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. Here is a sampling of some of their stories:

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Photo: Jewish Herald-Voice

 

Families evacuating to Beren campus

Displaced families from the Willow Meadows subdivision are in the process of taking up shelter on the campus of Robert M. Beren Academy.

School officials were working with police and neighborhood volunteers to open the school on Monday morning, Aug. 28.

“There are 10 families, possibly more, who want to go,” said Jenelle Garner, who is helping coordinate the move, after most of the Willow Meadows subdivision near Brays Bayou in Southwest Houston suffered heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Community assesses challenges caused by catastrophic flooding

Houston’s Jewish community is assessing its damages after large portions of Harris County and surrounding counties were engulfed by floodwaters a day-and-a-half after Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast.

During a conference call with community leaders on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 27, the local office of Jewish Family Service reported that it initially received communications that some 150 neighborhood blocks, where Jewish community members live, suffered flood damage from the storm.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Houstonians wait for rescue

Houstonians near Brays Bayou in Southwest Houston have been stranded for several hours Sunday, Aug. 27, waiting for rescue crews as floodwaters continue to climb a day-and-half after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Robin and Kevin Alter and their two teenage children told the JHV that over the course of four-plus hours, they’ve watched as many as seven rescue boats and jet skies pass by their flooded home on North Braeswood Boulevard near South Rice Avenue.

“They keep saying they know about us and they’ll be back for us,” Robin told the JHV by cell phone at around 12:30 p.m.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Community hard hit by Harvey

Several rescues were performed in the Willow Meadows subdivision during the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 27, as Houston suffered catastrophic flooding a day after Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.

According to early reports, unprecedented levels of flooding are widespread throughout the city and county. Local residents have become first responders.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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HOD performing door-to-door rescue

Members of the Hebrew Order of David are going door-to-door in flood-damaged neighborhoods along Brays Bayou, rescuing stranded residents and bringing them to safety, as Hurricane Harvey continues to pummel the Texas Gulf Coast with record-setting rainfall.

Vincent Wedelich managed to ride his bike into a flooded area near North Braeswood Boulevard and Hilcroft Avenue on Sunday evening, Aug. 27, after receiving an HOD text message that a mother and daughter needed help.

The homeowner, Amy Goldstein and her 14-year-old daughter, had been waiting some 12 hours to be rescued from their flooded home on Cheltenham Drive when Wedelich arrived.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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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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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.”

 

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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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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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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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Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor is an expert on demagogues, and now on anti-Semitism

Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor is an expert on demagogues, and now on anti-Semitism

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

By Ron Kampeas
JTA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Michael Signer, the Jewish mayor of Charlottesville, has one thing in common with the white supremacists who descended on his southern Virginia city over the weekend: He also opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Of course, Signer’s reasons for preserving the statue would have appalled the supremacists: He agreed with local African-American activists who had argued that preserving the statue was a means of teaching Virginians about the horrors of a “dishonorable” cause, the Confederacy.

Charlottesville Mayor oMichael Signer speaking on

Charlottesville Mayor oMichael Signer speaking on “Meet the Press,” Aug. 14, 2017

Signer was on the losing side of a 3-2 City Council decision, and the statue is now slated for removal. But his thoughtful approach, more typical of an academic than a politician, has also been evident in his counsel during the rash of protests that have plagued this city: “Don’t take the bait,” he has said.
In giving that advice, Signer has noted that for the first time in his life, he has been the target of intense baiting as a Jew.
“I can’t see the world through a black person’s eyes,” he said at a June 13 address at an African-American church, where he urged constituents not to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred.
“I can see it through a Jewish person’s eyes; the KKK hates Jews just as much as they hate black people. The stuff with this group online about Jews is unbelievable, bloodcurdling. The stuff I’ve gotten on my phone at my house, you’d think it was done a hundred years ago.”
Signer, 44, a practicing lawyer in Charlottesville, also lectures on politics and leadership at the University of Virginia, his law school alma mater. His wife, Emily Blout, is an Iran scholar at the same university, which is located here.
An Arlington native, Signer is the child of journalists, but in his author’s autobiography sounds like many other younger liberal Jews who note with pride their grandparents’ working class and intellectual roots:
“My grandfather was a Jeep mechanic for the Army on the European front in World War II and lifetime member of the proofreaders’ union at the New York Times; he lost part of a finger in an industrial accident as a young man,” he wrote. “My grandmother organized seamstresses on her factory floor in New York City and later worked as a secretary to Hannah Arendt at the New School.”
In a January speech declaring Charlottesville “a capital of the resistance,” Signer described his grandfather as a “Jewish kid raised in the Bronx” who was “part of the forces that liberated the world from Nazism and fascism, that laid the groundwork for NATO and the Marshall Plan, and for a country that lived up to the promises of the Statue of Liberty. …
“If he were alive right now, I don’t think I could look him in the face and say Grandpa, I didn’t fight for the values you fought for.”
Before becoming mayor, Signer was known both for his activism in the senior reaches of the Democratic Party — he was national security adviser for John Edwards’ 2008 primary campaign — as well as his expertise on a subject that has received much attention recently, demagoguery. His 2009 book, “Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies,” was well received.
The book examines successful demagogues left and right: Sen. Joe McCarthy, the 1950s anti-communist firebrand who plagued the American discourse, and Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman and leftist, both come under scrutiny. In December  2015, before the presidential primaries, Signer predicted that Donald Trump could become a “singular menace to our Republic.”
Paraphrasing James Fenimore Cooper, Signer wrote then that Trump met all four criteria of an American demagogue: “they posture as men of the common people; they trigger waves of powerful emotion; they manipulate this emotion for political benefit; and they threaten or break established principles of governance.”
Without saying “I told you so” outright, Signer this weekend squarely blamed Trump for stoking the populist white nationalist fervor that culminated in the violence that took the life of one counterprotester, injured dozens of others and led to the death of two state troopers in a helicopter crash. The rally included Nazi flags, chants of “Jews will not replace us,” and shouts of “Jew” every time a speaker mentioned Signer’s name.
“Look at the campaign he ran,” the mayor said on CNN.
Signer elaborated on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying of Trump, “I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people’s prejudices, to go to the gutter.”
Signer’s tactic has been to organize countering events that celebrate Charlottesville’s diversity, prompting Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, to say on Twitter that Signer “gets it.”
Speaking in May on “State of Belief,” a radio show produced by the Interfaith Alliance, Signer said it was more productive to focus on the victim than the perpetrator.
“You’re trying to ease the pain of someone who’s been afflicted rather than focus on the harasser,” he said.
He also described the unfamiliar sensation of being in the position of the afflicted, barraged as he was with online assaults from anti-Semites as the Lee statue issue was put before the council.  One tweet, from the account of someone calling themselves Great Patriot Trump, read “I smell Jew. If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.”
“The wave of anti-Semitic attacks I’ve seen in the last week, it’s been a new experience for me, I’ve never seen that before,” Signer said. “Some of the nightmare historical tropes I thought had been retired after World War II” had returned as “more disturbing mashups of politics today and anti-Semitism.”

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Texas A&M cancels white supremacy speaker’s appearance

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

Staff report

Texas A&M has decided to cancel an on-campus white-supremacist speech and gathering just days after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va.
A former student had requested the Sept. 11 speaking venue for Preston Wiginton, who is not a student. Texas A&M did not allow Wiginton access to a speaker hall, but he was granted access to Rudder Plaza in the center of campus for the all-day event.
Texas A&M changed its stance Monday.
“With no university facilities afforded him, he chose instead to plan his event outdoors for Sept. 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline ‘Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,’ ” a press release read. “Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus.”
In December, Richard Spencer, who helped organize the Charlottesville rally, spoke on the same topic at Texas A&M. He was met with heavy criticism and a police presence. Fallout from that incident changed the university’s policy on speakers.
During that event, Members of Texas A&M’s Jewish community found their own ways to counter Spencer’s message. It included a peaceful silent protest and attending an “Aggies United” event at Kyle Field that drew thousands of students and detracted from Spencer’s influence on campus.

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Special ‘bar mitzvah’ at Temple Shalom

Special ‘bar mitzvah’ at Temple Shalom

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

Photo: Winn Fuqua Rabbi Andrew Paley will celebrate 13 years, his “bar mitzvah,” at Temple Shalom, with his family (left to right) Debbie, Sammy, Molly, his congregation and the community beginning this Friday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m.

Photo: Winn Fuqua
Rabbi Andrew Paley will celebrate 13 years, his “bar mitzvah,” at Temple Shalom, with his family (left to right) Debbie, Sammy, Molly, his congregation and the community beginning this Friday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m.

Rabbi Andrew Paley celebrates 13th year with congregation

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

It’s the “Year of Rabbi Andrew Paley” at Temple Shalom and the community is invited to share in the celebrations of the rabbi’s 13th year. Festivities begin with an Oneg social at 6 p.m., and services at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18. The celebration will continue throughout the year, with a Saturday morning bar mitzvah service, Feb. 24, also dedicated to the rabbi’s commitment to Temple Shalom.
At the Aug. 18 service, 1,000 new High Holy Day prayer books, purchased by congregants in Paley’s honor, will be dedicated. Members of the community are invited to share with Rabbi Paley, a “gift of words,” many to be spoken at services throughout the year.
“I could never have imagined the incredibly meaningful and significant journey my career has taken,” said Paley. “From my ordination when the president of Hebrew-Union College, Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, of blessed memory, asked ‘Are you prepared to become a rabbi in the community of Israel?’ until now, I still feel that sense of awe and wonder, excitement and trepidation at the sacred and blessed responsibility of being God’s servant. I see my role and opportunity in the same way I did then, and at the same time very differently.”
Paley is the husband of Debbie Niederman, associate director of the Union for Reform Judaism Leadership Institute and past president of the Association for Reform Jewish Educators, and the father of Molly, a sophomore at Duke University, and Samuel, a junior at Plano Academy High School.
The son of Dr. Leslie and Annette and brother of Steven and Michael, Paley follows family tradition in being a rabbi. His great-grandfather, Eiser Paley, was an Orthodox rabbi. Growing up in Cleveland, Shabbat dinners at his parents’ Conservative home and his involvement in a local Reform congregation’s youth group program made impressions.
“At home, there was always Jewish beauty and love for our traditions. In my youth group, I met kids like me and it was a great social connection, led by young rabbis who were engaging and who took an interest in us,” said Paley. “When I was 17 I had an epiphany during the High Holy Days, realizing that relationship was so important to me, and I wanted to do that for others.”
Paley holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Ohio State University as well as a certificate in marital and premarital counseling and a master’s degree in Hebrew letters from HUC–JIR, where he was ordained in 1995. Before coming to Dallas he served communities in Fairbanks, Alaska; China Lake Naval Air Station; Miami, Florida; and Cleveland.
Paley is a member of the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty; the coordinating committee of Faith Forward Dallas: Faith Leaders united for Peace and Justice — a project of Thanks-Giving Square of Dallas; and the Interfaith Advisory Committee of the North Texas Food Bank, as well as a chaplain with the Dallas Police Department (the first rabbi to serve as such in DPD history).
He’s a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a member of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis, a member and past president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Dallas, and an honorary director of the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association. Paley is a mentor for CCAR and to HUC rabbinical students and is an AIPAC Leffer Fellow mentor. He serves on the national board of the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity; he has edited prayer books — one for Sabbath and one for the High Holy Days — and he’s written numerous articles.
“Rabbi Paley’s warmth for everyone and his presence in good times and bad is a gift. He’s an impeccable teacher, a brilliant teacher of Torah and life, and he infuses his impact by educating and caring in everything he does,” said Josh Goldman, president of Temple Shalom’s board of directors. “He sets an example of living tikun olam, making our congregation, our city, and our world a better place.”
Paley says it’s an honor to have served alongside his team. He calls Rabbi Ariel Boxman an excellent example of love and dedication to serious and creative Jewish education as well as to students and family. He appreciates the laughter and music of Cantor Emeritus Don Croll and his continued loving, committed and indispensable involvement in the congregation. Of Cantor Devorah Avery, he says you cannot find a kinder and gentler soul, and that she reminds everyone of the Jewish teaching, “Whoever sings, prays twice.”
Paley’s memories are vast, including Temple Shalom’s 40th and 50th anniversaries, the commissioning of the Blumin Family Torah, the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, his service to Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square — Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice, and, with heartfelt recollection, his offering of blessings at the July 2016 Dallas Memorial Service to the Fallen Dallas Officers.
“My dream of 2004 continues to be my guiding light in 2017 — to be a place of genuine and deep caring in our Temple and beyond, becoming a place of meaningful gathering; to nurture and support serious lifelong Jewish study, becoming a place of meaningful learning; and coming together in creative and joyful ways for purposeful, uplifting and soulful prayer, becoming a place of meaningful worship,” said Paley. “I see our ability to significantly contribute our namesake — shalom,  wholeness and peace — to our city and our state, indeed our country, as we courageously advocate for the vision of our world, as we learn in our tradition, ‘The world is sustained by three things: truth, justice and shalom.’ ”

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2nd annual Israel Symposium draws 500

2nd annual Israel Symposium draws 500

Posted on 10 August 2017 by admin

Staff report

Temple Shalom hosted the second annual Israel Today Community Symposium Aug. 5, attracting some 500 participants.
Four keynote speakers — Rabbi Andrew Paley, Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman and pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman — each took their turn at the podium throughout the day in four joint sessions. Each brought their own unique perspective to the table, but it was Reverend Dr. Coleman who garnered a standing ovation in her after-lunch keynote. Coleman has made a number of trips to Israel since 2007 through the AIPAC Foundation.

The Israel Symposium would not be possible without Anita Weinstein and Ken Glaser.

The Israel Symposium would not be possible without Anita Weinstein and Ken Glaser.

Keynote Speakers Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

Keynote Speakers Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

“I have come today to let the house of Israel know that you are not alone, you are not alone in your struggles, you are not alone in your prayers, you are not alone in your endeavors to make Israel a free state, one that lives without fear.”
There is a commitment between the Jewish and African-American relationship, said Coleman. She pointed out the long history of Jewish support during the Civil Rights movement and how that relationship had waned at times. “We must come together as one and strive for a better world for us all. … We must walk together and declare that we can do more together than we could ever do apart.”
She stressed that education is the key, as is standing up for what you believe.
“I am clear like never before on what I am called to do during a time such as this. Without question I am a pro-Israel advocate and I am not ashamed to stand for Israel and my Jewish sisters and brothers and I am called to proclaim what I believe:
“I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
“I believe that the United States Embassy should be in Jerusalem.
“I believe that not only does Israel have the right, but it has an obligation, to defend itself when being threatened with annihilation. And don’t ever, ever, ever apologize for defending your heritage, your land and your people.”
In between keynote sessions, participants attended four breakout sessions among 30 choices. A new feature of the symposium was a teen program led by Jesse Stock of Stand with Us.
Ken Glaser and Anita Weinstein were lauded throughout the day for their yeoman’s work in putting together an enriching program. Plans are already underway for next year.

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