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There were 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, ADL finds

There were 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, ADL finds

Posted on 30 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

The Texoma Region of ADL covers Texas and Oklahoma. Cheryl Drazin is the regional director.

By Josefin Dolsten

(JTA) — Last year saw the third-highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since 1979, despite a decrease from the previous year, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.

Though the 1,879 incidents in 2018 dropped from the 1,986 incidents in 2017, according to the ADL’s annual survey of incidents released Tuesday, the number of anti-Semitic assaults more than doubled, to 39 from 17.

In ADL’s Texoma Region, which covers North Texas and Oklahoma, anti-Semitic incidents increased from the previous year with incidents of harassment at seven up from five in 2017 and vandalism up to two from zero in 2017.

“While we welcome the national decline in overall anti-Semitic incidents, we are troubled by the increase of acts in our region. We know that harassment and vandalism can lead to violence and we must remain vigilant in working to counter that threat in all forms, whatever the source.” said Cheryl Drazin, Texoma regional director.

The report counts cases of assault, harassment and vandalism. The vast majority of the incidents last year were harassment or vandalism — 1,066 and 774, respectively.

According to the report, the last three months of 2018 were “unusually active” in terms of incidents. The shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue at the end of October “likely drew more attention to anti-Semitic activities,” the ADL said.

The highest number of anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 1994 and the second highest in 2017. Last year’s number matches the total for 1991, the third most recorded in one year. The organization has been measuring anti-Semitic crimes annually since 1979.

The report referenced the shooting at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, on Saturday, in which an assailant killed one and wounded three.

“We’ve worked hard to push back against anti-Semitism, and succeeded in improving hate crime laws, and yet we continue to experience an alarmingly high number of anti-Semitic acts,” ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement Tuesday. “We unfortunately saw this trend continue into 2019 with the tragic shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway.”


Remembering Lori Kaye, 60, who ‘thought of others before herself’

Remembering Lori Kaye, 60, who ‘thought of others before herself’

Posted on 29 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Lori Kaye with her daughter, Hannah, and her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye. Photo:

By Dovid Margolin

( via JNS) Lori Kaye loved greeting cards; she had one for nearly any occasion. Whether a birthday, anniversary or condolence, someone leaving on a trip or returning from one, Kaye pulled one out from her vast collection, wrote a message and delivered it.

“She knew what everyone was up to, what was happening in their lives, and she cared to make them feel special,” shares her longtime friend, Teresa Lampert. “She was an incredible person.”

Kaye was killed on Shabbat morning, on the last of the eight days of Passover, during the anti-Semitic shooting attack at Chabad-Lubavitch of Poway that shocked the nation. She had just stepped out into the lobby to check on the children’s group in the playground when the attacker burst into the building and shot her. Kaye, a woman remembered for her kindness, sensitivity, enthusiasm and generosity, spent her last minutes on earth in the lobby of the synagogue and community center she had done so much to see into reality

She personified the meaning of a “true woman of valor,” says Chabad of Poway’s founding director, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein—who, together with two others, including an 8-year-old girl, was injured—and was “a great philanthropist, a kind-hearted person, always there for others.”

It was Kaye’s energy and attention to detail that made her truly unique, says Lampert, who was with her during her final moments.

“She had such little time to rest; she was always doing good, making people happy, that’s who she was,” says Lampert. “Nobody could keep up with her.”

Shabbat at the Kaye home was a thing to behold, with Lori’s table intricately set up for a large number of guests. Her challah was famous in Poway, as was her matzah-ball soup and chicken.

“It was always incredible,” says Lampert of those meals. “And somehow, even when she had all of these guests, if she heard that someone wasn’t feeling well or for any other reason, she found time to deliver challah or a bouquet of flowers to several homes each week.”

Kaye at a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. Photo:

The Lamperts and their two children have joined the Kayes and their daughter, Hannah, at their Passover seder for more than two decades, including this year’s seders less than two weeks ago.

“We said, as we do every year, ‘We need to keep the tradition going,’ ” says Lampert.

The Kaye’s post-Yom Kippur break-fast was another regular event hosted by the couple—a communitywide event that drew everyone.

“You didn’t need an invitation to come,” says Lampert. “It was a given.”

Roots in San Diego

Lori (Leah) Gilbert-Kaye was born in San Diego Aug. 10, 1958—she would have turned 61 this year—and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Aside from college and a short time spent living in Long Beach, California, with her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, she spent most of her life in the San Diego area, to which she returned to be closer to her parents and family.

Kaye was a devoted member of the broader Jewish community and, together with her husband, a pillar of the Chabad of Poway community, which she joined in the early 1990s. Some time after Goldstein and his wife, Devorie, arrived in Poway in 1986, they purchased an empty lot where they hoped to one day build their Chabad House, synagogue and Jewish center.

“When we bought our property in the 1990s, she secured us our very first construction loan so we could build a shul,” recalls the rabbi. “And she has been with us since.”

Chabad of Poway, Calif. Photo: Google Maps.

Today, Chabad of Poway’s sizable campus includes a synagogue, preschool, senior center, mikvah, kosher kitchen and Friendship Circle, serving children with special needs.

“Everyone knew her, and she knew everyone,” says Lampert. “She was a huge part of this community; she participated in all events and was loved by everyone.”

It was through the Chabad community that Lampert met her friend Lori in the first place. Two decades ago, a friend suggested that Lampert, a native of Peru living in California for the last 26 years, check out Chabad. She and her husband did, and they loved it. The rabbi was warm, the community welcoming. That was when Lampert met Kaye.

“Lori and I hit it off,” she says. “It was just one of those friendships that flourished.”

She notes that Kaye’s generosity extended well beyond her own community. Kaye was active with the Hadassah Foundation, Chai Lifeline and other organizations. And, like the little details she always remembered, she was always on the lookout to give more. Lampert is a tour group manager and travels for business. Whenever she would go to a foreign location, Kaye would make sure to send along a check with Lampert to be donated locally.

“She had such little time to rest; she was always doing good, making people happy, that’s who she was.”

“I would go to South America, Spain, Portugal, Alaska, and she would always send a check along with me for the Chabad House there.”

There was always a personal touch to her generosity as well. Lampert’s son serves as a volunteer lone soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. On a recent trip to Israel, Kaye met up with Lampert’s son in Jerusalem, spending time with him and taking him shopping. Kaye reported back to Lampert that her son was doing well, and that they had gone out to a restaurant before parting.

“She told me, ‘I didn’t send him back hungry, I sent him back really full!’ ” recalls the thankful mother. “Lori took care of all the details.”

The last ‘Yizkor’

The eighth and last day of Passover, Acharon Shel Pesach, is one of joy traditionally associated with the Jewish people’s hopes for the coming of Moshiach. It’s when Jews in synagogues around the world hear the words of the prophet, read in the haftarah, regarding the future era of peace when “the wolf will dwell with the lamb; the leopard will lie down with a young goat.” This was precisely the haftarah that Goldstein was preparing to read in his synagogue when he stepped out of the sanctuary to review it one last time. There, in the lobby, he bumped into Lori, who had gone out to check on the children’s program.

The eighth day of Passover is also one of the four times a year when the Yizkor memorial prayer in memory of departed parents is recited in synagogues. Kaye, who lost her mother recently, asked the rabbi what time the prayer would begin. It was to be an emotional first time reciting the sacred words in her mother’s memory, and Lori’s daughter had specially come down from Los Angeles to be with her mother.

“I told her Yizkor was at 11:30,” recalls Goldstein. “I turn around to the banquet hall to wash my hands in preparation [for the haftarah], then I heard the very first shot. I … turned around to try to see what’s going on, and I locked eyes with this terrorist … standing there, he was in position with a rifle [and] turned [it] on me … ”

Things happened quickly after that. Goldstein lifted his hands to protect his face from the gunman’s bullets, losing one finger and badly injuring another one. A second man, Almog Peretz, a guest from Israel, was injured as he and the rabbi ushered children in the area to safety, including Peretz’s 8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan, who was also wounded. Two congregants, one a Marine corps veteran and the second an off-duty Border Patrol agent, charged at the gunman, who fled.

“I went back into the lobby, and I saw Lori laying on the floor,” says an emotional Goldstein, who had grabbed a tallit and wrapped it around his badly injured hand to stem the flow of blood. “Her dear husband, Dr. Howard, who is a Kohen and came to shul to do our birkat kohanim [priestly blessing] fainted and was laying next to … Lori. It was a horrific sight … ”

Kaye, second from left, at the wedding of Baila Goldstein, daughter of Rabbi Yisroel and Devorie Goldstein. Photo:

Lampert was inside the sanctuary during the shooting and ran out to be at her injured friend’s side. She held Kaye’s hand as someone performed CPR, talking to her throughout and hoping that she would respond.

“Lori was always there for everyone, crying with them or celebrating with them, in good times and bad. I take comfort knowing I was with my friend until the end,” whispers a choked-up Lampert.

God should comfort and console Howard, Hershel Nochum ben Yitzchak HaKohen, and their daughter Chana Yehudis [Hannah] … ,” says Goldstein. “Her [soul] should rest in peace in [heaven], and they should be reunited with the coming of speedily in our days.”

Reflecting on the state of his shaken community, Goldstein acknowledges that while they are shaken and scared, they take stock in knowing that, united with the entirety of the Jewish community, they are not alone.

“We all need to stand together, hold hands together, love each other just like the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson] taught us, with unconditional love,” says Goldstein. “… We’re all in this together and we’re going to survive this and we’re going to grow from greater strength to greater strength.”

It’s a theme, says Lampert, that Kaye echoed throughout her life, always stressing the importance of doing acts of kindness for others, even—or especially—for strangers, and teaching the next generation to be proud of their Jewish heritage.

“She believed in teaching our children how proud we need to be and continue our legacy,” she says. “Lori was a proud woman, and she showed that to the entire world.”

This article originally appeared on Original article link




After Poway synagogue shooting, ADL director calls for government to take action against white supremacists

After Poway synagogue shooting, ADL director calls for government to take action against white supremacists

Posted on 29 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director

By Ben Sales

(JTA) — The head of the Anti-Defamation League said Saturday’s synagogue shooting should serve as a “wake-up call” for politicians and business executives to more seriously address anti-Semitism.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the ADL, spoke with reporters on a call from Poway, California, where a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue Saturday and killed one person, injuring three. Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed while shielding the rabbi from bullets. The rabbi, an eight-year-old girl and another adult were wounded.
The shooting took place exactly six months after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, apparently by design, Greenblatt said. He told reporters on a conference call Sunday that President Donald Trump, other politicians and tech executives need to be more proactive in fighting anti-Semitism on social media and in public discourse.
“They need to stand united against hate and address it not only after it happens but by enforcing norms before there is a crisis and by elevating our shared values long before we have to deal with a tragedy,” he said. “And we desperately need our leaders to stop politicizing the issue. Those who dismiss anti-Semitism when it comes from their side of the aisle are only minimizing the issue and perpetuating the problem.”
Greenblatt noted, however, that according to ADL statistics, the vast majority of extremist murders in the United States are committed by right-wing extremists like the Poway gunman, who appeared to have written a white supremacist manifesto. The ADL found that in 2018, 49 out of 50 extremist murders were committed by extreme rightists (including the Pittsburgh massacre of 11 victims), as well as 73 percent of all extremist murders over the past decade.
“Anti-Semitism is not some abstraction,” he said. “Anti-Semitism is not some idea. Anti-Semitism is a clear and present danger right now in this country. This needs to serve a a wake-up call in this country to deal with this kind of hate… We need the president and the White House to direct [the Department of Homeland Security] to take deliberate action to devote resources to analyzing domestic terror threats. These homegrown threats are equal if not more dangerous than Islamist” threats.
Oren Segal, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said the Poway gunman, a 19-year-old college student, participated in an online white supremacist ecosystem where social media activity fuels real-world violence, and vice-versa.
“It’s this vicious cycle,” he said on the conference call. “This propaganda serves as a round-the-clock white supremacist rally by amplifying and fulfilling these white supremacist fantasies.”


Baytown synagogue celebrates 90 years, restoration

Baytown synagogue celebrates 90 years, restoration

Posted on 25 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Bob John Cromeans
Congregation K’Nesseth Israel in Baytown recently celebrated its 90th anniversary.

By Christopher James/Baytown Sun

Baytown — Under a blue and white chuppah, accompanied by jubilant violin music, Torah scrolls were returned to the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Synagogue Sunday, April 7, marking its 90th anniversary in Baytown and the first day of worship in the sanctuary in nearly two years.
After the Parade of Torahs, Mayor Brandon Capetillo issued a proclamation designating April 7 Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Day in Baytown and congratulated the members on the 90th anniversary.
Rabbi Jimmy Kessler — the founder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society and the first native Texan to serve as rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston — who grew up in Baytown and the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Synagogue gave a celebratory blessing.
“In modern-day Jewish communities when we use the ram’s horn for festivals and observances like Yom Kippur, it not only is a symbol of bringing us together, it’s also meant to be a reminder that God is present in this place,” Kessler said. “And we are in a building that represents that. But this ram’s horn is also a thank you to those of you that worked so hard to maintain the congregation.” Moments later, Leah Abbate blew the shofar in celebration of its anniversary and a newly renovated sanctuary. Sunday was the first time since before Hurricane Harvey the Baytown Jewish community was able to worship inside.
“It felt wonderful,” CKI President Joan Teter Linares said of worshiping inside the synagogue. “It really meant a lot to us to be back in there again.”
Water damage to the synagogue, its Torah Scrolls and parts of the community center forced the congregation to worship elsewhere. Due to tremendous flooding throughout Baytown, contractors were scarce and congregation leaders felt it more important that individuals who lost their homes to flooding should have priority in getting the much-needed help.
Because Congregation K’Nesseth Israel has a small membership, the restoration needs for the synagogue and neighboring community building were more than the membership could take on, so they launched a “Save Our Synagogue” fundraising campaign.
Spearheading the campaign was Shana Bauman, CKI Treasurer, and Denise Havenar, project manager for the restoration project.
“Both of these ladies spent the better part of [almost] two years volunteering their time and energy to the restoration project. Their families may get them back now,” Linares said. “Denise handled every aspect of the project and Shana was instrumental in fundraising and accounting for all money spent to the penny.
“If I went into detail of everything they did we would be here another 90 years,” Linares jokingly added. “Suffice it to say, we are forever grateful to Denise and Shana for their dedication to CKI.”
After a long road of fundraising, restoration began in the early part of October and was recently completed in time for the 90th anniversary on Sunday. The Torah scrolls were also restored in Florida and were returned Sunday with the ceremonial Parade of Torahs.
The history of the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel began at the start of the Goose Creek oil field boom in 1917. The population in the area, now known as Baytown, was about 2,000 people who had come from all parts of the country seeking work in the oil fields. Of these, only two families were of the Jewish faith.
By 1920, there had been considerable growth in the area, Goose Creek and Pelly had been incorporated, and the Humble Oil and Refining Co. had begun operation of the Baytown refinery.
The Jewish population had expanded to 12 families. Realizing the necessity for a place of worship, they rented a building and began holding services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. On Nov. 3, 1928, the congregation was incorporated, with 20 incorporating members. Property was purchased for erection of a synagogue. The synagogue was completed in 1930 and was designated a Texas State Historical Landmark in 1992.
Reprinted with permission from the Baytown Sun.


5 Jewish things to know about Joe Biden

5 Jewish things to know about Joe Biden

Posted on 25 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Joe Biden arrives in front of a Stop & Shop store in Dorchester, Mass., in support of striking union workers, April 18.

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joe Biden, a born and raised Roman Catholic who likes to cross himself when making a point, knows what faith he would be if he were ever overcome with doubt about his own.
“If I’m going to switch, I know where I’m going,” the former vice president said in 2016 at an Ohio political event when someone in the audience called him a “mensch.” Biden went on to describe the pile of yarmulkes he had accumulated from attending Jewish events.
Goodness knows, he’s been collecting them for a while, and his Jewish ties run deep: One of his first overseas visits in his long career as a senator was to Israel, on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Which is all the more remarkable considering that Biden represents a state, Delaware, with a Jewish population estimated at 15,000.
How deep is Biden’s Jewish record? So deep that it was hard to pick just five Jewish things to know about him.
Here are his greatest hits, sure to be repeated now that Biden, 76, announced on Thursday that he is entering the stakes for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He learned pro-Israel from his dad.
Biden, born in 1942, likes to recall a childhood memory of his salesman father, Joseph Sr., and the international debate in 1948 over whether to endorse the existence of the new State of Israel. Typically he leavens the tale with details suggesting a raucous Irish-American upbringing in which folks liked talking over one another more than they did eating.
“My education started, as some of you know, at my father’s dinner table,” Biden said at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference in 2013. (“As some of you know” was an understatement: Many folks on the pro-Israel circuit have memorized Biden’s Jewish anecdotes, but that doesn’t diminish the applause.)
“We gathered at my dinner table to have conversation, and incidentally eat, as we were growing up. It was at that table I first heard the phrase that is overused sometimes today, but in a sense not used meaningfully enough — first I heard the phrase ‘Never again.’
“It was at that table that I learned that the only way to ensure that it could never happen again was the establishment and the existence of a secure, Jewish state of Israel. I remember my father, a Christian, being baffled at the debate taking place at the end of World War II talking about it” — baffled, that is, that anyone would consider voting no.
That Golda story
All rumors you’ve heard about a “Golda” drinking game among reporters who cover Biden Jewish events are utterly baseless.
So, that cleared up, here’s the deal: Joe Hearts Golda Meir. A lot. The story he tells about meeting with her in 1973, when he was a 30-year-old senator, is a staple of his Jewish speechmaking.
It was on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. Biden toured Israel and the territories it held and witnessed the chain-smoking, American-raised Israeli prime minister reviewing maps. He could not but notice heightened military tensions.
Meir, meeting Biden at her office, asked him to pose for a photo.
“She said, ‘Senator, you look so worried,’” he recalled, speaking at an Israeli Embassy Independence Day celebration in 2015. “I said, ‘Well, my God, Madame Prime Minister,’ and I turned to look at her. I said, ‘The picture you paint.’ She said, ‘Oh, don’t worry. We have’ — I thought she only said this to me. She said, ‘We have a secret weapon in our conflict with the Arabs. You see, we have no place else to go.’”
Biden has a Jewish family. He jokes about it. But it’s complicated.
Biden has three children who grew to adulthood. (His first wife, Neilia, and a baby daughter, Naomi, died in a car crash right after his 1972 election to the Senate.)
Two of them married Jews: Beau Biden, whose mother was Neilia, married Hallie Olivere. Ashley Biden, his daughter with his second wife, Jill, married Howard Krein.
“By the way, I’m the only Irish Catholic you know who had his dream met because his daughter married a Jewish surgeon,” he said at that 2016 Ohio political event.
This is where it gets complicated: Beau died of cancer in 2015. Hallie subsequently had a romantic relationship with his younger brother (also a son of Neilia), Hunter, who was splitting up with his wife, Kathleen. (It’s not clear if the relationship with Hallie precipitated the divorce.) The Hallie-Hunter relationship reportedly is over.
Added ick factor? According to The Daily Mail, the elder Biden confessed that growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, he had a crush on Hallie’s mother, Joan.
“I was the Catholic kid. She was the Jewish girl. I still tried. I didn’t get anywhere,” Biden said at a Delaware Jewish event in 2015.
Biden-Begin did not go as well as Biden-Golda.
In 1982, Menachem Begin met with senators at the U.S. Capitol. The prime minister fumbled when asked about Israel’s recent Lebanon invasion, but rallied when Biden confronted him about West Bank settlement expansion and suggested that new settlements would undercut U.S. support for assistance for Israel. Biden reportedly banged the table as the exchange grew heated.
Begin’s reply has become lore among his followers.
“This desk is designed for writing, not for fists,” he said, according to an account written by a confidante just after Begin’s 1992 death. “Don’t threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the U.S. lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. ”
Biden was chastened enough that two years later he appeared at the annual conference of Herut Zionists of America (Herut was Begin’s original party) and blamed the impasse in Middle East peace on Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Biden’s pledge then: “My first order of business in the new Senate will be to educate my colleagues on the financial sacrifices Israel has made as a result of Camp David.”
In 2010, a matured Biden figured out passive aggressiveness worked better than fist banging when it came to settlements. On a friendly visit to Israel, Biden was surprised to learn that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had announced new building in eastern Jerusalem. Biden’s payback? He made Netanyahu wait 90 minutes for a dinner meeting.
He knows his audience.
Within two months in 2013, Vice President Biden spoke to AIPAC and then its bete noir, J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. The thrust of his AIPAC speech at the beginning of March? Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, want peace, and the Arabs need to step up.
“Israel’s own leaders currently understand the imperative of peace,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, President Peres — they’ve all called for a two-state solution and an absolute secure, democratic and Jewish state of Israel to live side by side with an independent Palestinian state. But it takes two to tango, and the rest of the Arab world has to get in the game.”
The thrust of his J Street speech, mid-April? Netanyahu was taking the country in the “wrong direction.”
“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and, more importantly, they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,” he said.


Bernie Sanders says he is ‘100% pro-Israel,’ but blasts its ‘racist’ government

Bernie Sanders says he is ‘100% pro-Israel,’ but blasts its ‘racist’ government

Posted on 23 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, answers a question about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a CNN town hall on April 22, 2019. Credit: Screenshot.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders called Israel’s new government “racist,” but also said he is “100 percent pro-Israel.”
Sanders, I-Vt., who is Jewish, was one of five contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination currently performing well in polls and fundraising who participated in CNN town halls Monday evening in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sanders is the leader of the pack in both spheres.
He was the only candidate to field an Israel question: A man noted that Sanders was known for his “outspoken” criticism of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was re-elected earlier this month.
Sanders repeated his longstanding argument that the United States must be more evenhanded in how it approaches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but for the first time also called Netanyahu’s government “racist.”
“The goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing — dare I say — racist government,” he said to applause. Sanders also was applauded for calling Netanyahu “a right-wing politician who, I think, is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”
A number of Democratic candidates blasted Netanyahu for brokering a vote-sharing agreement with Jewish Power, a party whose extremist views were inspired by a rabbi, the late Meir Kahane, who was expelled from Israel’s parliament for “racist incitement.”
Democrats have also criticized Netanyahu for pledging on the eve of the election to annex some parts of the West Bank. Another candidate, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, previously called Netanyahu a “racist.”
Sanders also noted his own attachment to Israel, recalling his time spent on a kibbutz in the country in the 1960s and that he has family there.
“I am 100 percent pro-Israel,” he said. “Israel has every right in the world to exist, and to exist in peace and security and not be subjected to terrorist attacks. But the United States needs to deal not just with Israel, but with the Palestinian people as well.”


Israel offers assistance following bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

Israel offers assistance following bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

Posted on 22 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochcikade, Sri Lanka, one of several sites attacked in coordinated bombing attacks on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep shock over the murderous attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka.”

Netanyahu, in a statement released and tweeted on Sunday in the hours after the Easter attacks which left more than 200 dead, said that “Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time.”

He also wrote: “The entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism.”

At least 207 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in a series of bomb attacks that hit luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

“The attacks in #SriLanka, including those at prayer celebrating #EasterSunday. are a despicable crime. We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all. #Israel sends condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for the recovery of the injured,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin tweeted in the wake of the attacks.

The first six bomb blasts occurred at almost the same time on Sunday morning, four in the capital of Colombo, and the others in the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa. A seventh took place hours later and an eighth, in a residential neighborhood, was determined to be a suicide bomb attack.

About 35 of the victims were identified as “foreigners,” with American, British and Dutch citizens reportedly among the dead, CNN reported.

Seven people were later arrested by Sri Lankan authorities in connection with the attacks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena called the attacks terrorist in nature and blamed religious extremists.

Some 70 percent of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist. Less than 10 percent of the population identify as Christians.


JCRC Interfaith Seder breaks attendance record

JCRC Interfaith Seder breaks attendance record

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin


Multi-faith clergy in attendance
Photo: Laura Biener

DALLAS — The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas held its Seventh Annual Interfaith Seder April 9. With 80 attendees in its first year, this year’s JCRC Interfaith Seder set a record attendance with 580 attendees.
“For seven years now, the JCRC has brought together the interfaith community of the Greater Dallas area. Together, we experience a community interfaith Seder based on a traditional Jewish Passover Seder and reflect on meaningful and relevant issues,” remarked Melanie Rubin, JCRC chair. “The program motivates and inspires us all toward self-reflection, awareness of important issues, building relationships with one another, and social action in our Dallas community and beyond,” she added.
The leaders of the 2019 JCRC Interfaith Seder were Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the Tenth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The JCRC Interfaith Seder Planning Committee was co-chaired by Mandy Golman of Congregation Shearith Israel and Reverend Damon L. Blakeley of Saint Paul AME Church. This year’s seder theme, Building Community Together, brought together faith leaders, elected officials and community members from diverse faith backgrounds. The “VINYL” Booker T. Washington’s Jazz Singers started off the program.
Mark Kreditor, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board chair, welcomed participants. “As the convener and leader of our Dallas Jewish community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas recognizes how important it is for communities of faith to come together to advance important issues within our community. Simply put, we are stronger together,” said Kreditor.
Following the model of a traditional Jewish Passover Seder, the annual JCRC Interfaith Seder draws comparisons between Passover stories and challenges that we face in present times by exploring a social action theme or value that resonates across numerous faiths.
The JCRC Interfaith Seder is a unique opportunity for the Dallas Jewish community to join together with local faith leaders and individuals from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The JCRC Interfaith Seder also gives the opportunity to our non-Jewish friends and neighbors to have a Jewish experience in a Jewish institution. This year’s Seder was presented by the Texas Jewish Post.


Men’s study group celebrates 20-plus years of Torah

Men’s study group celebrates 20-plus years of Torah

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photos: Mark Fisher
“I have students who quote Socrates and Plato in discussions of Torah and it isn’t only the students who learn something each week,” said Rabbi Deon Nathan (left), leader of the Tuesday morning men’s Torah study group.

By Deb Silverthorn

Rumor has it that the true breakfast of champions starts at 7 a.m. every Tuesday. At that time, a community men’s Torah study group gathers at the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) offices on Forest Lane in Dallas. Whether a dozen or four attendees show up on any given morning, the conversation and learning are guaranteed to be spirited, engaging and meaningful.
“This program is a good example of where the movements can meet and learn for the benefit of b’nei Yisroel. I think that it is refreshing to have a program for Reform and Conservative Jewish men that is taught by an observant Orthodox rabbi. It proves that we CAN all get along,” said Mark Fisher, a member of Temple Shalom, who has been attending the class almost since its inception. “Our Dallas Jewish community is very special and we’d love to have more men join us in this really incredible opportunity.”
The class, taught for the last four years by Torah Day School of Dallas CFO and COO Rabbi Deon Nathan, takes place at DATA, but is an unaffiliated program. Participants come from congregations throughout the community and the class — for which there is no charge — is open to men of all ages. The coffee and baked goods (provided by Rabbi Deon’s wife and daughters) deliver a bit of extra get-up-and-go for the early meeting time. But, for most who stop in on their way to work, the inspiration the class provides is more energizing than any caffeine pump.
“The intellectual power of the men in the room is impressive. There are lawyers, and doctors and businessmen in the class — members of the boards of many organizations — but if not for this class, they might never cross paths,” Nathan said. “I have students who quote Socrates and Plato in discussions of Torah, and it isn’t only the students who learn something each week. More often than not, I too become the student.”
Nathan, a Dallas native and the son of Sandy and Michael Nathan, was a member of the first class of Yavneh Academy, before transferring to Rabbi Oscar Fasman Yeshiva in Skokie, Ilinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from Hebrew Theological College in Chicago before moving to Israel. During his 13 years in Israel, he earned his MBA in International Business at Bar-Ilan University and worked in private banking and with Israeli startups. Nathan is a certified mohel, sofer STAM (scribe), shochet and mashgiach kashrus (kashrut supervisor). He is the husband of Yehudit and father of seven.
“Somehow the class always hits notes of politics and religion, but the conversations are open and honest and always of the utmost respect,” Nathan said.
First spearheaded by Joel Shickman, of blessed memory, and Congregation Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Elon Sunshine (no relation to CSI’s current senior rabbi), the group met at a coffee shop. Throughout the years, the learning has been led by many rabbis, including Bill Gershon, Joe Menashe, Adam Raskin and Yoni Sonnenblick.
Nathan provides the group with articles and readings that test the state and future of progressive Judaism, and the group often challenges his observant beliefs in the laws, as they apply to modern Jews.
“I had somewhat of an interest in religious school as a child, but in the last 30 years or so I’ve had a new appreciation for learning more extensively,” said Morton Prager, a member of Temple Emanu-El, who has also studied under that congregation’s rabbis Levi Olan, David Stern and Sheldon Zimmerman. “This class has allowed me to study books of the Bible that aren’t the ‘go to’ or of regular review, and from start to finish, we just keep going and we just keep learning.”
Prager spent much of his career as a medical researcher and a professor of medical ethics and philosophy to medical students, and retired only at the age of 92. He said he enjoys the company of the mix of men in the class.
“We argue and interpret and discuss the modern interpretations,” he said. “We might not always agree, but the conversation is always respectful.”
Many of the students have remained constant throughout the two decades. The group began with study of the weekly Torah portion, but soon embarked on a long-term journey, and completed reading the entire Tanach — Torah, Prophets and Writings — word by word, first in 2012.
They are now revisiting the Prophets and studying Samuel I. Participants say that, even though the material is the same, a new leader means different discussions.
“It’s amazing as we read through how humans haven’t really changed in 3,000 years; issues of trust, of tribes and families,” said Fisher, the group together celebrating simchas and suffering great losses. “We’ve learned to study in new ways together. The beauty of Judaism is to share issues and imperfections and to understand that our religion is a guidebook by which to live a more meaningful life.”
For information on joining in the class, email or or call 214-923-5101.


Dallas sisters to receive DJHS Sikora award

Dallas sisters to receive DJHS Sikora award

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy DHJS
The Weinfeld sisters (above): Melissa Ackerman and Brenda Bliss; the Shosid sisters: (below) Susan Bendalin and Karen Weinreb

By Elena Okowita

The Dallas Jewish Historical Society will host its major annual fundraiser, beginning at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 2, at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. The event, called “Sip & Savor: Sisters in Philanthropy,” will honor two sets of sisters with the Ann Loeb Sikora Humanitarian Award. Karen Weinreb and Susan Bendalin, and Melissa Ackerman and Brenda Bliss, are the honorees.
The award was named for the first woman to serve as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. It is presented every two years by the DJHS, and honors individuals who emulate the humanitarian ideals by which Ann lived her life.
Honorees Weinreb and Bendalin, the Shosid sisters, have had several leadership and advocacy positions in the Dallas Jewish community. Weinreb, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, was a member of the Sigma Delta Tau Sorority. She recently co-chaired the YES event for The Legacy, and is an active member of Temple Emanu-El and a supporter of The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas. Weinreb advocates for and supports several local organizations including The Vogel Alcove, The Jewish Federation, The Family Place, Jewish Family Services and the Dallas Holocaust Society.
Bendalin served as the former campaign associate for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and went on to become the development director for Akiba Academy. Bendalin is an active member of the Jewish Community Center. In addition to serving as a past member of the JCC’s board of directors, she was two-time co-chair of the JCC’s annual “Be” fundraiser, chair of the Jewish Arts Fest and a member of the Maccabi Games steering committee. She was also co-chair of the Women-to-Women Fundraising Luncheon for Jewish Family Services.
Ackerman and Bliss, the second set of honorees, have also made a large impact on the Dallas Jewish community. Ackerman graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a marketing degree, and has been a Dallas Jewish community volunteer for nearly 40 years. She served on boards of the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, Temple Shalom, CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and Jewish Family Service. The Dallas Jewish Federation honored her with the Campaigner of the Year and the Bess Nathan Young Leadership Awards. She served as the vice chair of the Maccabi games in 2005, and as a coordinator and volunteer recruiter for the 2015 Games.
Bliss graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a master’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology. She traveled to many countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and Innsbruck, presenting workshops on auditory-verbal therapy and cochlear implants. In the community, Bliss provides speech and hearing services to many Jewish day schools, including Torah Day School, Levine Academy and Akiba Academy. She also provides therapeutic services for the adults at CHAI, and sits on the board of directors of Jewish Family Service and the Special Needs Partnership.
Event chairs for “Sip & Savor” are Linda Garner and Ellen Ungerman. Individual tickets for the event are $175 with sponsorships starting at $500. Registration information can be found by visiting the Dallas Jewish Historical Society website at


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