Archive for January 25, 2010

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, March 19, 1954, Part III

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Gail Umeham

B.J. Sisterhood Holds Purim Party Mar. 23
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 4

The Beth Jacob Sisterhood will hold its luncheon-meeting Tuesday, March 23, at noon, at the Beth Jacob Center.  All members and guests are invited to attend a social afternoon with Purim favors, planned by Mrs. Jack Brisker, program chairman.   Mrs. William Penn and committee are in charge of the luncheon.  Mrs. Julius Penn will give a report on the card parties held the first week of March.

Rehearsals for the Gay Nineties Revue and Cabaret Night to be held May 22 and 23 have begun.  Mrs. Leon Solomon is chairman of the event and has started casting.

Federation Agencies Seek Less Subsidy
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 4

Budgets of local Jewish welfare agencies in the sum of $40,373.88 will be presented to the United Jewish Fund at its April board meeting for inclusion in the 1954 campaign, according to Carl Esenoff, president of the San Diego Federation of Jewish Agencies.

The composite budget is $1,408.14 less than the amount requested by the same agencies in 1953.

It is anticipated that the Jewish Social Service Agency, Harry Mallen, president, will need $4,988.76 from the United Jewish Fund.  It will receive $14,525.00 from the Community Chest.

The other Jewish agencies, which are part of the Federation, are non-Chest members and will receive their entire deficit from the Federation out of the United Jewish Fund campaign.  They include the Hebrew Home for the Aged, Victor Schulman, president, which will need $6,140.00, the Jewish Community Center, Edward Breitbard, President, $17, 405.43; the Community Relations Council, Harry Wax, chairman, $2,500.00; the Émigré Program of the Fund, with Dr. Walter Ornstein as chairman, $6,000; and cost of year-around administration of the Federation, $3,339.69.

The Federation budget committee, which made a careful and exhaustive study of the budgets submitted by each of the agencies, consisted of Morris Douglas, chairman; Louis Steinman, Mack Esterson, Alex Newman and Mrs. Milton Roberts.

Bowler Wins 5 Trophies
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 5

The (accompanying) picture proves that Sam Bennett has accomplished one of the most outstanding feats in San Diego bowling history.  Representing B’nai B’rith Lasker Lodge team at the National B’nai B’rith Bowling Tournament held in Los Angeles on March 6 and 7, Sam won the above trophies, competing against 510 bowlers in the District 4 Championship.

His prizes are as follows:  Singles, High Game, 291, National Trophy; High Series, 715 (3 games); All Events, 2nd place, 1397 (6 games).  The ball pictured above is the one that Sam used and the only reason that there are only 5 trophies is because Sam neglected to enter the sixth contest.

Besides the many cash awards, Sam won an all-expense trip to Detroit to compete in the Nationals District Competition of the U.S. and Canada.

Lasker Lodge, B. B. sent 15 men and 3 teams of 5 each.  All three teams finished in the first ten.  San Diego can be well proud of Sam Bennett and his valiant team members.


Lasker Lodge News
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 5

By Lou Levitt

Harry Zell, Father and Child Night committee chairman, is busily completing plans for the big night April 12.  Jack Lowenbein, Jerry Aronoff, Bob and Ed Breitbard, and Lou Levitt are his assistants.

At the next meeting there will be an exciting Gin Tournament at which prizes will be given to the winners.  Be certain you attend because there may be additional nominations for the delegates to the San Francisco Convention.  All delegates will be voted on at this next meeting and it will be important that you attend to see that your choice wins.

Gold Menorah cards are still available to members who pay their 1954 dues before April 1st.  Let’s make it unanimous and have every Lasker member a Gold Menorah card holder.


Synagogue Men’s Club Holds Dinner
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 6

The annual Tifereth Israel Men’s Club Installation Dinner, planned, cooked, and served by the men themselves, will be held at the Tifereth Israel Synagogue Center on Sunday eve., April 4.  New officers to be sworn in that night will be Simon A. Rich, president; Joseph Spatz, 1st V.P.; Joseph Kader, treasurer; Ben Levenson, financial sec.; and Jerry Weissman, recording sec.

One unique feature of the Installation Dinner is that all paid-up members and their wives pay nothing for the dinner.  The only admission fee is the membership card for 1954.  A committee under Moe Hershey is preparing the entire dinner.

After the dinner, the formal installation service will be held in the synagogue proper.  The public is invited to attend the installation service, which is slated for 8:30 p.m.  Following the installation there will be a social in the new education building.  Edward Breitbard and Alex Newman will be the installing officers.


Birdie Stodel To Honor Past Presidents
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 6

The Past Presidents of the San Diego Birdie Stodel Chapter No. 92, B’nai B’rith Women, are sponsoring a luncheon  Monday, March 22nd, noon Temple Center.  As a culmination of the celebration of its 25 years of existence they will honor those charter members over 20 of the original 55, who are still members of the chapter.  A class of 17 will be installed honoring the services of Past Presidents Cele Schwartz and Bess Schissell.

A social afternoon will follow, and al members of B’nai B’rith are invited.

A Card Party will be held at Beth Jacob Center Sunday evening, March 28th.  Chairman Ann Kolkey assisted by Serena Schonfeld.  This will be the last affair of this term, so please come, and help us finish out our year.


Young Couples Club Square Dance
Southwestern Jewish Press March 19, 1954 Page 6

Mr. Dan Delaney, District Supervisor of the Department of Parks and Recreation, a very capable instructor and caller in the art of square dancing will conduct a series of square dancing sessions for the Y.J.C.  On the program preceding the first of these series, guest speaker, Dr. Edward H. Abrams will speak on “New Frontiers in Medicine.” The date is Saturday, March 20 at 8:15 p.m.  The place, the Center of the Tifereth Israel Synagogue.  All are welcome, bring your friends!  A social half hour and refreshments will follow the entertainment.

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

San Diego Opera announces scholarly lecture series on the historic ‘Nabucco’

January 25, 2010 2 comments

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)– Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco is based on the exile to Babylon of the Jews from Jerusalem.  In the Bible, the Babylonian King Nabucco is known as Nebuchadnezzar.  San Diego Opera will be presenting “Nabucco” Feb. 20, 23, 26, 28 at the San Diego Civic Theatre.

Prior to that time, Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for the San Diego Opera, will team up with the Judaic Studies programs of SDSU and UCSD, as well as with the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art in Balboa Park to present a four-part series relating to the Babylonian exile.

The lecture series will include these presentations:

Wednesday, January 27, 7 p.m., at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Charmaine & Maurice Kaplan Theatre: “Nabucco, Israel and Babylon:The Impact of Exile on the Birth of Judaism and Christianity” Speakers:  Dr. Reveles and Dr. Risa Levitt-Kohn, Director of the Judaic Studies Program at San Diego State University

Dr. Reveles and guest Dr. Risa Levitt- Kohn will discuss the role that the Babylonian Exile had to play in the shaping of modern Judaism and Christianity. Dr. Kohn will trace the effects of the Exile on the generations of Jews that followed this transformative event.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010; 7:00pm, at Congregation Beth Israel, 9001 Towne Centre Drive, San Diego:  “Lessons from Exile: Babylon Revisited:” Speakers:  Dr. Reveles and  Rabbi Michael Berk of Congregation Beth Israel

Dr. Reveles and Rabbi Michael Berk will look at the Exile from a historical and theological point of view. Emphasis will be placed on our understanding of Exile today: politically, culturally, personally and spiritually.

Monday, February 8, 2010, 7;30 p.m.,  Garfield Theatre, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive La Jolla: ” By the Rivers of Babylon: Judaism, Empire and Exile.” Speakers: Dr. Reveles and Dr. William Propp, Director of the Judaic Studies Program, University of California San Diego, and Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal of Tifereth Israel Synagogue.

Dr. Reveles and guests Dr. William Propp and Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal will discuss the events leading up to the Exile, the political atmosphere of the time and the various cultures involved, especially Babylonian and Assyrian as well as that of the ancient Israelites. Special mention will be made of the Kings of Judah who found themselves in direct conflict with Nebuchadnezzar II.

Wednesday, February 10, 7:00pm, at  San Diego Museum of Art: “Nabucco: The Jewish Story in Art and Opera,” Dr. Reveles and Dr. John Marciari, Curator of European Art and Head of Provenance Research at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Dr. Reveles and guest Dr. John Marciari will discuss the depiction of Jews and biblical scenes in Western art, with emphasis on Italian artists. The development of the images will be traced from Medieval and Renaissance times up to the early 19th century, contemporaneous to the premiere of Nabucco in 1842.

Preceding provided by the San Diego Opera

Music writer Amos in Athenaeum series on classical composers

January 25, 2010 1 comment

 LA JOLLA, California (Press Release)–David Amos and Erica Miner, on-air personalities for classical radio station XLNC1, will present a series of lectures at the Athenaeum in April on “crossover composers.” These two experts will examine the different genres in which Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky worked.

Amos also is a music critic for San Diego Jewish World.

April 5 – Ludwig van Beethoven  Beethoven composed only one opera, but the music in Fidelio is arguably as sublime as any of his orchestral and chamber repertoire. David and Erica examine the Leonore Overture #3 and Florestan’s Act Two aria as well as symphonic and chamber works with similar “heroic” themes.
April 12 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Mozart set the standard for all genres of music, but his operas tower majestically over his other works. Erica compares the Don Giovanni Overture with similar music in the Commendatore scene, while David contrasts piano and orchestral works of both dark and light character.

April 19 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  Tchaikovsky’s ballets and orchestral works may be more popular than his operas, but the dance music and poignant arias in Eugene Onegin are every bit as compelling as his symphonies, tone poems and chamber works. David and Erica provide examples both familiar and not so familiar.
Tickets are available by calling the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library at (858) 454-5872.

Preceding provided by the Athenaeum

Yemen’s Foreign Minister briefs Rothman on anti-terror efforts

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– Dr. Abubakr al-Qirbi, the Foreign Minister of Yemen, briefed Congressman Steve Rothman (Democrat-New Jersey), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense and State and Foreign Operations, on the situation and counterterrorism efforts in Yemen.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world and has one of its fastest growing populations. It is widely believed that this combination may lead to a volatile environment that could threaten regional security and allow terrorist networks to grow. As Congressman Rothman works to develop the Fiscal Year 2011 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the Foreign Minister assured Congressman Rothman that the government of Yemen remains committed to fighting Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Yemen is a fledgling democracy that faces monumental security challenges and it is encouraging to see that the government of Yemen has reiterated its commitment to fighting terrorists. As the U.S. continues to seek out and destroy terrorists and their support networks, we need as many partners as possible in this fight – especially in the Middle East,” said Congressman Rothman.

“I am hopeful that Yemen will follow through on its promise to remain fully committed to its counterterrorism efforts and I will continue to monitor the situation in this important region.”

In 2009, Congress provided Yemen with a total of $52.5 million in economic and counterterrorism assistance.

Preceding provided by Congressman Rothman

U.S. insurance companies put profits ahead of health

January 25, 2010 1 comment
By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–For those who are not sure that the devil is in the details, here’s an example. An American insurance company and hospitals are arguing about an administrative procedure. It has reached the point where one state legislature has enacted a law about the clerical details to be allowed in its jurisdiction, patients are being warned that they may have to change physicians, and there is a court case that could affect one million people who think they have health insurance.

Meanwhile, Congress is marking time while the administration ponders a strategy appropriate to the loss of that Massachusetts Senate seat. The proposals on the table amount to more than two thousand pages of patchworks that will add to the efforts of insurance companies and HMOs to find opportunity in the muddle. We all may hope that some patients will be better off, but no one should bet a lot of money on the prospect. Those who guess about such things are saying that the administration will have to reduce the number of people to be newly insured in order to get some Republican cooperation. What is happening in that squabble between the insurance company and hospitals provides ample indication that insurance companies will be looking after themselves while they say they are looking after patients.
The economic concerns of insurance companies should come as no surprise. That’s capitalism, and they are in business to make a profit. That they pursue profit via a concern for what they are willing to pay for medical services, and check thoroughly to be sure that each patient does not get more service than appropriate (by their criteria) means considerable outlays for administration.
They also spend a great deal on public relations, most recently to attack the president’s proposals on the grounds that it would make government a rationer of health care.
For those having trouble seeing the irony, you are on the wrong page.
The greater irony is that many Americans–enough to frustrate the president–share a fear of big government. Some of my correspondents have written about the threat of being governed like European countries as if they have not absorbed anything about that enlightened continent since the descriptions of Germany in the 1930s.
My bet is that none of them has experienced serious medical treatment that is paper free for patients. Not money free, but with fees and co-pays deducted from salaries or bank accounts, with the care providers and institutions that pay them sorting out the transfers. It helps that the rules are hammered out between the peak associations of care givers, insurance companies, and government departments. The process is not without demonstrations by groups of patients with special needs, complaints and criticisms prominent in the media. But with the ultimate decisions made by elected officials and senior bureaucrats, the process is more open to scrutiny, and arguably more fair than when decisions are taken by insurance companies concerned with their profits, and those who object must complain to their families, and seek the attention of someone who might help. Systems that suffer the label of “socialist” are simpler for patients to understand than when hundreds of HMOs and insurance companies define their own rules about coverage, co-pays, and how patients must seek care, and decide how to apply those rules to individual cases.
For those who sing the song of free enterprise, may you enjoy the paper work. You have my wishes for good luck next time it is necessary to dial an 800 number. Those of us in Israel  with the benefits of health care dominated by government will get by with a plastic card that does the work for us.
And remember that residents in the bastion of free enterprise and individual freedom rank 48th on life expectancy.
Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

January 25, 2010 1 comment


Compiled by Garry Fabian

Peer Protest moves to Melbourne

MELBOURNE, 20 January – A small group of  Palestinian supporters held a protest outside the  Australian Open on Tuesday afternoon (January 19).

The Australians For Palestine group, which  numbered fewer than 10, singled out Israel’s top tenns player Shahar Peer for criticism. The  protest was peaceful, but after a time, the demonstrators were asked by police to leave.

The group, most of who were dressed in corporate  attire, held placards with a photo of Peer in her  Israel Defence Forces uniform. The slogan on the  placard read:  “Shahar Peer serves for apartheid Israel”.

According to a flyer distributed by Australians  For Palestine, Peer has been singled out because  she “has shown no understanding of the oppressive
conditions under which Palestinian athletes are  forced to live, but rather sees herself as a victim of discrimination”.

Peer, who refrains from making political  statements, has been the target of anti-Israeli  protests. Most recently, she was heckled at a  tournament in Auckland. She also came to global  attention last year when the United Arab  Emirates, host of the Dubai Tennis Championship, refused to issue the Israeli citizen with a visa.
Peer advances to second round

MELBOURNE, 21 January – Israeli tennis player  Shahar Peer has won through to the second round  of the Australian Open after defeating Czech  player Lucie Hradecka 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday (January 20).

Peer, the 29th seed, looked sluggish in the  opening set and struggled to find her rhythm  against Hradecka, who served powerfully in the early stages of the match.

Peer gave up an early break in the first set when  she failed to hold serve in the eighth game. The  rest of the set went on serve to the tie-break,  where Peer quickly fell behind 5-1. She clawed  her way back to 5-6, fending off a set-point in
the process, before Hradeka produced another big serve to take it 7-5.

However, Peer found her range midway through the  second set and began to dominate proceedings from  the back of the court. She broke in the fifth and
eighth games of the second set, with Hradecka  gifting her the latter with four double faults.

Peer dominated in the third set, and was further aided by a hefty unforced error and double-fault  count from Hradecka, who was beginning to become frustrated.

With little help from her booming first serve,  Hradecka was unable to match Peer’s superior ground strokes.

At the post-match media conference, Peer said: “I  played her [Hradeka] last year and lost in  straight sets. She is a good player and has a big  serve, but she is not always consistent and I  think that’s the main thing with her.

“I had to play good and be aggressive, because  she tries to dominate points pretty early, so my  main goal was to be solid but also aggressive. I
tried to combine those two and return well too  and I think I did it quite well.”

Peer will play unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

At the media conference, Peer talked down threats  to her security when asked whether the recent  spate of anti-Israel protests had affected her preparation.

“There is security going on around me, I don’t  know exactly how much but I feel really safe,” Peer said.

“I’m just focusing on playing tennis and I’m not  here to focus on my security or what’s going on outside the court.”

Youth movements safe despite GFC

MELBOURNE, 21 January — Amid reports that Jewish  youth movements worldwide had gone cap in hand to the Israeli government to save them from
financial collapse, the Zionist Federation of  Australia (ZFA) this week insisted that the  future of local organisations was secure.

However, ZFA president Philip Chester cautioned  that the groups for children and teenagers were surviving “hand-to-mouth”.

Chester voiced his concerns just days after  leaders of world Zionist youth movements met with  the Knesset Education Committee to plead their
case for increased funding. It followed extensive  budget cuts by the Jewish Agency for Israel last year.

Chester ­ who ultimately oversees Betar, Bnei  Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Hineni and  Netzer ­ said  “People would be shocked at the  small budgets some of the movements are running on.”

The organisations, run by youth leaders, most of  who are under 21, are largely responsible for their own funding. Most rely on parents,  supporters or movement alumni for week-to-week  activity and camp funding. Traditional
fundraising methods, such as film and trivia nights, are common.

Increasingly, movements are also having to raise  money to support shaliachs (emissaries), who are  sent to Australia by the Jewish Agency, but are
only partially financially supported.

The movements’ roof body ­ the Australian Zionist  Youth Council ­ receives some funding from the ZFA, but only for large-scale programs, such as  leadership camps. For some movements the model works.

Bnei Akiva, for example, has strong support from  the Mizrachi community and is savvy in its  fundraising ­ organising a mishloach manot sale  at Purim and a lulav and etrog sale at Succot.

Other movements, particularly the smaller ones, have less success.

The ZFA is working with them to attract support,  but according to Chester, it is not easy.

“We haven’t yet worked out the magical formula to do it,” he said.

Community philanthropists have been approached to  ascertain whether they would be interested in  assisting, and Chester has also been in  discussions with the NSW Jewish Communal Appeal  (JCA) to garner support for the Sydney movements.

And while JCA support for youth movements was not on the short-term agenda, he said he was more hopeful in the longer term.

Meanwhile, Chester said he was confident of the survival of local chapters.

“The numbers are good and to their undying  credit, the kids do it for nothing and run functions on the smell of an oily rag.

“The truth is, no matter how little they have, they will never stop doing it.”
Dudi Sela blows lout of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, 20 January – Israeli tennis player Dudi  Sela has crashed out of the Australian Open in  the first round, losing to Ukrainian qualifier  Ivan Sergeyev 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.

Israel’s top-ranked male player ­ ranked 41 in  the world ­ came into the match with a virus and never found his rhythm, despite displaying patches of brilliance.

The match lasted three hours and 22 minutes.

The Israeli was broken in the first game of the match and there were two more breaks of serve in  the set, one to each player. Sergeyev served out the set with a love game.

The second set went on serve to a tie breaker,  which Sergeyev dominated with some big serving, winning 7-3.

Sela regained his composure and took the third set 6-4.

There were consecutive service breaks in the  second and third games of the fourth set as the intensity went up a notch.

The set then went on serve until the tie break,  and it was a brilliant passing shot on the  forehand that eventually gave Sergeyev his hard-fought win.

Australian Jewry rallies for Haiti

SYDNEY, 21 January – Australian Jews are being urged to step up their support for the international aid effort in Haiti.

In the wake of the earthquake that has ravaged the Caribbean island, claiming an estimated 200,000 lives, two community charities — Jewish Aid Australia (JAA) and Magen David Adom (MDA) — have launched appeals.

In three days, JAA had already raised $70,000 for  the relief effort. It is directing its donations towards CARE Australia — a non-partisan, non-political Australian charity on the ground in Port-au-Prince.

JAA chief executive officer Gary Samowitz said: “The response has been fantastic and we’ve been inundated with calls and emails.”

Among the donors are AJN owner Robert Magid and his sister Nora Goodridge, who made a $40,000 pledge.

“Bob and Nora’s donation is an inspiring example to the rest of the community,” Samowitz said. “The more money raised, the more services will be  provided to those suffering the aftermath of the earthquake, and every donation counts.”

The Pratt Foundation, meanwhile, run by Jewish philanthropist Heloise Waislitz, has made an initial donation of $50,000. The foundation’s  CEO, Sam Lipski, said the 5000 workers at the  family company, Visy, had also been invited to give funds to the people of Haiti. He said donations made by staff would be matched by the foundation.

Ron Raab, president of Insulin for Life Australia,  added that his organisation had sent emergency shipments of insulin to assist Haitian diabetics
who were struggling to get access to lifesaving medication.

Local MDA branches are also running an appeal to support the work of their Israeli colleagues on the embattled island. As part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, MDA sent a paramedic delegation to Haiti immediately upon hearing of the earthquake.

According to MDA-Red Cross coordinator Dudi Abadi, all the money raised by the ambulance and first aid service will be used to fulfill the most urgent needs — medical equipment, blankets, water, food, hygiene items, purification tablets and sheets of plastic.

Encouraging the community to give generously to the appeals, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said: “The earthquake
claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and has left many of the survivors without homes, food, water, medical and hospital services, and
other basic necessities. I urge everyone in our community to dig deep and support the recognised international aid organisations, which have
workers on the ground in Haiti, including Jewish organisations such as Jewish Aid Australia Limited, Magen David Adom and ZAKA.”
Israeli Torah scholar sets up new Kollel

SYDNEY, 21 January – Despite success stories in Melbourne and Perth, Sydney has struggled for years to establish a viable kollel.

But this time around the Jewish Learning Centre  (JLC) is hoping that the outcome will be different.

Next month, JLC plans to bring four Israeli  bochers (Torah scholars) to set up Australia’s third Torah MiTzion Kollel.

Once established, it will be one of 25 religious-Zionist kollels dotted around the world under the umbrella organisation of Torah MiTzion in Israel, including one in Melbourne, based at Mizrachi shul and another in Perth.

Rabbi Daniel Eisenberg, who will be heading the project, said: “Jewish life is very dependent on the vibrancy of its institutions and every additional source of inspiration that can be provided to the Sydney community will help advance stronger Jewish identity.

“This is a prime example of that kind of institution.”

Traditionally, a kollel is an institute for  advanced Torah studies, which provides married men with housing and a regular monthly stipend to study Judaism’s classic texts.

However, this Torah MiTzion Kollel will run slightly differently.

For starters, these bochers are not married. Further­more, while they will undertake intensive studies at JLC’s beit hamedrash, the men will also perform outreach work.

Other shuls run similar initiatives for unmarried  bochers, but this is the only program to officially be called a kollel in Sydney.

“The focus here is to work in the traditional sense of the kollel, as well as to strengthen the Jewish nature of the community,” said Rabbi
Eisenberg, who is still raising some of the $180,000 in funds needed to operate the project in its first year.

This is not the first time an organisation has tried to establish a kollel in the area.

In 2006, the Adass Israel congregation brought out seven rabbis and their families to set up Sydney’s first full-scale kollel. But two years later, it closed down because of funding and organisational issues.

Rabbi Eisenberg, however, believes this time they will succeed.

“It’s not like bringing a group of married men and their families. It’s a very big difference in proportion. It’s more sustainable,” he said.
Can Pakula make the trains run on  time?

MELBOURNE, 21 January – Jewish MP Martin Pakula  has been handed Victoria’s poisoned chalice – the transport portfolio.  The state’s transport minister Lynne Kosky resigned from parliament on Monday, citing family health problems.

Pakula who was voted in by his caucus colleagues  yesterday, will inherit a range of problems, which include over crowded trains, transport cancellations and a troubled over-budged new  electronic ticketing system, and technical
problems with the public transport system.

The 40-year old who was elected to Parliament in  2006, had a Jewish upbringing, and is a son of a Holocaust survivor. He also adds industrial relations to his portfolio.

He is one of three Labour MP’s in the Victorian Parliament. The others are Marsha Thomson and Jennifer Huppert.

Pakul caught the train to work recently, taking time out to hear complaints from frustrated commuters.

Mr Pakula chatted with passengers on the 8.17am  from Sandringham, hearing their complaints about punctuality and cancellations on the network.

He said most people had been welcoming, but had a lot to say about their morning commute.

“What they want is reliability and punctuality. That’s the absolute key message from today,” he said.

A casual user of the system Mr Pakula said he caught the Sandringham line a couple of dozen times a year and sometimes caught the bus home from the station.

“Like all commuters, I’ve had times when the train I’ve been on has been extremely crowded, or it has been extremely hot or there’s been delays
and I understand why people would be frustrated by that,” he said.

But from today he is expected to be a regular  traveller, getting out on public transport every day.

Mr Pakula also indicated that he would be considering the future of W-Class trams, saying they would most likely eventually end up servicing only the city circle.

“I don’t think anything is forever (and) I don’t think they are designed for large-scale commuter transportation any more,” he said.

“I think people want a more modern, more comfortable tram these days, and so I think the W-class tram, their use will be confined to (the city circle).”

Country music with a slice of kugel

TAMWORTH, NSW. 21 January – Every year at about this time, country music flows down the streets of Tamworth just about as freely as the cold beer
flows from the taps of their pubs.

It’s the Tamworth Country Music Festival in the city that’s described as the Nashville of the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s also the city home to musicians who go by the curious names of 8 Ball Aitken and Bird.

“Come on in, we’ve made a kugel for you,” 8 Ball Aitken says when we meet at his home. The Queensland native, who sports a long bright red beard and speaks in a soft voice, performed at the festival, which ran until January 24

Aitken has led an interesting life. The Golden Guitar nominee went from picking mangoes and bananas, to picking the strings on his guitar. Though not Jewish himself, his fiancee and manager Bird Jensen are, and Judaism has come to influence his music.

Aitken is a welcome friend at Brisbane’s Beit Knesset Shalom Progressive Synagogue; he has played at synagogue functions and filmed part of a music video there.

Over the past six years, he’s released three albums and toured in towns all over Australia as well as 15 countries.

“[His music] is not strictly country,” Jensen says. “It’s part blues, folk, country and indie rock,” she explains.

The pair’s hard work has finally paid off. “We earn our living through our own original music,” Jensen says. “A lot of people can’t do that.”

Many artists in Australia, including Aitken, are partially supported by the Australian Business Arts Foundation (ABAF).

To get more funding, business-minded Jensen even  makes her own “8 Ball shmattehs” — T-shirts and other tour merchandise — and says she is willing
to go the extra mile in ways other managers probably never considered.

“If anyone [donates enough money to get 8 Ball  Aitken back into the studio], I’ll personally make them a shabbat dinner in their home,” Jensen enthuses, “and it will be good.”

8 Ball Aitken performed at the Tamworth Country Music Festival through January 24.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Israel needs to address Goldstone Report seriously

January 25, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–Those in the know say that the Goldstone report is deeply flawed, but not entirely wrong. Some believe it would have been much less wrong had Israel cooperated with Judge Richard Goldstone when he was compiling it for the United Nations and that, even now, it’s important that the allegations about Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war be properly investigated by a public inquiry in Israel. The fact that the government has rejected it has been used as an uncritical argument in favour of the whole report. The inference is that Israel must have much to hide. Government action has become extremely counterproductive by giving the report more credence than it may deserve.

Instead of dealing with the allegations, spokespersons for Israel and their echoes in the Jewish world have chosen to discredit the report and brand its author with the usual label of self-hating Jew. That has in no way diminished Goldstone’s standing in the world, but it has opened Israel to the accusation that it’s shooting the messenger instead of listening to the message.

All this and much more will be reopened later this week when Israel submits its critique of the report to the United Nations. In anticipation Ha’aretz, the sane voice of Israel and the country’s leading newspaper, published an editorial last Sunday that once again calls for an Israeli investigation both for intrinsic reasons and as damage control. The final passage of the report reads thus in the official English version:

“But an Israeli investigation is needed not only out of fear of the International  Criminal Court and of the arrest of Israelis abroad; the Israeli public has the right to know whether the country’s leaders and military obeyed the laws of war and  moral principles during the operation in Gaza. That is the way to avoid the next  Goldstone report.”

The government of Israel is shooting itself in the foot. It’s a sovereign democratic state that rightly wants and needs to be part of the family of nations, even if some members of that family are less than friendly. The current official Israeli attitude resembles much more a ghetto mentality that assumes that everybody is against us. It rules out the possibility that the world out there could, at least occasionally, be right.

This attitude is consistent with the right-wing politics of the present coalition which in its exaggerated nationalism ends up with the contrary image: Israel as a ghetto. But unlike the previous ghettos this one is said to know how to defend itself and how to brand every form of criticism as anti-Semitism, whether it’s articulated by sworn enemies or by committed Jews, and all in between. The settlers celebrate it and many of their rabbis interpret Jewish history for them in that key. There’re reasons to fear that this will be the language in which Israel’s response to Goldstone’s report will be couched.

Ironically, Jews in the Diaspora are less and less inclined to see themselves as living in ghettoes, but some of their leaders like to view Israel (!) as a ghetto state which they must defend in the name of the Jewish Diaspora experience. As a result, instead, of exerting pressure on Israel to act as a sovereign state in our post-ghetto history, too many Diaspora Jews will no doubt regurgitate the official government line.

Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He new divides his time between Canada and Israel.

Israeli left says Gaza entitled to Haiti-style aid

January 25, 2010 1 comment

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Media in Israel and overseas have described in the most positive of terms the aid that a team of IDF and Magan David Adom (Red Star of David) personnel have provided in Haiti. An article in the New York Times adds to the praise, but also reports on Israelis who lament that their country does not do next door in Gaza what it does across the ocean in Haiti.

It would be a surprise if there were not such Israelis. It is an argumentative society, where any view held by a majority or anything more than a tiny minority is an open invitation to dispute. The left wing remains active, even if recent election results and polls indicate that its numbers are in the realm of the insignificant. The resignation from the Knesset of one left wing member of the Labor Party, and the announcement of another that she would not enter her party’s next primary are further signals that their slice of the polity is in extremis.

Left-wing Meretz currently has three members in Knesset and left-of-center Labor 13. Both are historic lows for those parties. A poll has shown Labor likely to drop to six members. Critics who remain within its Knesset delegation have been quieted by the futility of their protests against party leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

If the left is well represented anywhere, it is in the op-ed page of the prestigious Ha’aretz, which supplied some of the material quoted in the New York Times article about Israelis who lament the lack of aid to Gaza. The left also remains lively in the social science and humanities faculties of the universities. One of my friends and political science colleagues was quoted in a recent headline–again in Ha’aretz–criticizing the decision of the Defense Minister to advance the status of a college located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Each weekend for the last year or two, Israeli activists (some of them claiming the label of anarchists) along with Palestinians and colleagues from overseas have demonstrated against a segment of the security barrier near the village of Bilin. Initially they sought to prevent the construction of the barrier, and now they try to dismantle it. Every weekend we hear how many were arrested or injured by the army, and how many soldiers were injured by the demonstrators. Some of the same people, or those who think like them, have demonstrated, been arrested, and have protested their arrest in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, where their target is a structure that a number of Jews claim as their own.

I have no data to judge the incidence of Israelis who lament that their country does not do in Gaza what it does in Haiti. There has not been coverage of any such protest on the prime time discussion program that I have watched, or the radio talk shows I have heard since the earthquake.

There was a segment of the discussion program that coupled a retired senior officer of police and the leader of an Israeli civil rights organization who was arrested for demonstrating against the Jews who have moved into the Arab neighborhood. Their quarrel focused on the right of demonstration, as well as the activist’s assertions against ownership by Jews of a disputed building. The police officer said that the activist had been arrested because his behavior was not as dignified during the demonstration as it was in the television studio.

It appears to me that the New York Times correspondent was going beyond political realities when he wrote:

. . .  Israelis have been watching with a range of emotions, as if the Haitian relief effort were a Rorschach test through which the nation examines itself. The left has complained that there is no reason to travel thousands of miles to help those in need — Gaza is an hour away. The right has argued that those who accuse Israel of inhumanity should take note of its selfless efforts and achievements in Haiti.

His introductory paragraph is closer to what I have perceived, i.e., a pride in the activity and attention given to Israelis in Haiti, without linking it to domestic quarrels.

The editorial cartoon in Thursday’s mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot showed American soldiers digging among the ruins of Haiti. From within the rubble, a voice calls out, “Would you mind checking to see if the Israelis are available?”

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Differential wages becoming the norm on kibbutzim

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

HAIFA (Press Release)–Over the course of 2009, five more kibbutzim converted to the “renewing kibbutz” model (paying its members differential wages) bringing the percentage of such kibbutzim up to 72% of all the kibbutzim in Israel.

“It is highly probable that by the end of 2012 the number of kibbutzim shifting to alternative models will be higher than the number of the kibbutzim that did so over 2009,” says Dr. Shlomo Getz, Head of the Institute for the Research of the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea at the University of Haifa who carried out the survey.

The kibbutzim can be classified by three methods of compensation: The ” collective  kibbutz” (kibbutz shitufi), where members are compensated equally regardless of what work each member does; the ” mixed model kibbutz” (kibbutz meshulav), where each member is given a  small percentage of his salary alongside a basic component that is given equally to all members of the kibbutz, and sometimes a seniority factor is added to that; and the “renewing kibbutz” (kibbutz mithadesh) where the member’s budget is entirely comprised of his individual income from work and sometimes includes income from other sources as well.

Surveys examining kibbutz compensation models were begun in 1996, when it was observed that four kibbutzim had begun compensating members by the new kibbutz system and another six were using the mixed model budgeting system. In 2002, the collective kibbutzim constituted 50% of all kibbutzim, but from 2004 the differential system took the lead.

By the end of 2009, 188 kibbutzim (72% of all kibbutzim) had become “renewing kibbutzim”, while 9 kibbutzim (3%) were ” mixed model kibbutzim” and 65 (25%) maintained the original and familiar model, where each member contributes according to his or her ability and is given according to his or her needs.

According to Dr. Getz, another 4 kibbutzim shifted over to the new model on the first day of 2010, while 15 more were deliberating the possibility of adopting the differential wages system.

The survey further shows that changes are also occurring in the  collective kibbutzim: eighteen of them (28%) use different forms of payment for work that members carry out beyond their regular jobs (such as rotation duty in the dining room or operating kibbutz services on Shabbat), and the members of five of the  collective kibbutzim have partial ownership of manufacture property or of their home, while a similar number of kibbutzim are discussing the possibility of adopting such ownership status for their members. The dining room is also shared much less than in the past: at half of the collective kibbutzim members must pay to eat in the central kibbutz dining room.

Preceding provided by University of Haifa

San Diego Jewish Film Festival preview: ‘William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe’

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

By Paul Greenberg

LA JOLLA, California– The documentary film, William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, about the life and times of the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) Jewish attorney who is best-known for trying to help the oppressed in American society through the legal system, as well as defending rapists, terrorists, and assassins later in his career, should be re-titled, albeit lengthily: William Kunstler:  Disturbing the Universe and (Sometimes) Particularly Disturbing Two Of His Younger Daughters During His New York Criminal Defense Years.

The filmmakers are two of Kunstler’s daughters from his second and final marriage:  Emily (born in 1978), who narrates, and Sarah (born in 1976), who weren’t around during his civil rights advocacy heyday but were nevertheless deeply and negatively affected and also perplexed by some of his later criminal defense cases. 

This fast-paced film mixes intimate home movies and archival footage with interviews with an assortment of prominent attorneys, wives, other daughters, colleagues, people he defended, and a juror in one of his cases, to provide a complex portrait of a man deeply immersed in defending and helping the oppressed and some quite unpopular figures who, at the same time, was almost addicted to grabbing the spotlight. 

The  film devotes most of its time to focusing on Kunstler’s biggest causes and cases that are divided between his pre-1976 civil rights years and his post-1976 New York criminal defense years:

— 1960’s defense of the Freedom Riders
— defense of Vietnam War  protesters in 1969 who burned draft files
— defense of the Chicago Seven, who were charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention
— serving in September 1971 as negotiator for the prisoners of Attica who took nine guards hostage to pressure authorities to address a list of practical demands involving living conditions, but which ended tragically due in part to Kunstler’s own miscalculations when police moved in and killed all guard hostages and 32 inmates
— defending leaders of the American Indian Movement who, along with the  Oglala Sioux, began occupying Wounded Knee, South Dakota on February 1973 for 71 days to force the federal government to honor long-standing Native American treaties and whose charges of illegal occupation were dismissed after a trial by a judge because of egregious governmental misconduct
–representing accused cop shooter Larry Davis, who wounded six cops but was acquitted of all charges based on self-defense
–representing El-Sayyid Nosair,  a Palestinian who was accused of shooting at point-blank range and killing Rabbi Meir Kahane, an extremist who advocated violence against Arabs, but was acquitted because of lack of proof that he was indeed the shooter
–representing Joey Johnson before the United States Supreme Court, who was charged with the crime of flag burning at the Republican National Convention in 1984 , but was acquitted because the court ruled that flag burning was expressive conduct protected by the Constitution
— representing Yusef Salaam, one of the rapists charged in the Central Park Jogging Case who, along with all other defendants in the case, had their guilty verdicts set aside many years later.

Many of  Kunstler’s post-1976 cases in the film were accompanied by Emily’s  complaints that they (the sisters) just didn’t understand why their dad was taking such cases and justifiable fear for her and Sarah’s safety. 

Emily: “I thought what he was doing was important and dangerous. All his cases were causes, we just couldn’t always figure out what he was fighting for. He told us everyone deserves an attorney, but sometimes we didn’t understand why that lawyer had to be our father.  Dad’s clients gave us nightmares. When his mind was made up, no one could stop our father.”

After  Kunstler  took the Nosair case  he was considered by some Jews to be a traitor to his own people and Emily and Sarah lived in constant fear.  “We received bullets in the mail  and dad opened all packages in the basement in case of explosives.  There were staged daily protests outside our home, our front windows were shot out with red paintballs, and dad was called a self-hating Jew.  My mom wouldn’t let us outside.  Why was I being punished for something I didn’t do?” 

Attorney  Kunstler also defended a house cat against a charge of crimes against humanity  in a mock trial on television.  Lamented Emily: “It was official,  Sarah and I agreed. Our father had completely lost his mind.”

Tellingly, both Emily and Sarah express in the film that they didn’t want to be lawyers.

Disturbing the Universe also touches on the pre-attorney life that shaped Kunstler’s later liberal views, including his life of privilege in New York where the family’s black maids ate meals in the kitchen and used separate bathrooms, and his uneasiness in not speaking out when he was in the Army after realizing  there were segregated living quarters and blacks had to perform menial jobs in the service of white soldiers.

I found the civil rights cases that were illuminated to be most intriguing, and the archival footage of the shootings at Attica to be quite haunting and extremely disturbing.  This must-see film will probably give the public as well as the filmmakers a better understanding of the most perplexing William Kunstler.

As one person in the film so succinctly put it:  “You either loved him or hated him.  There is nothing in between.”   There is also no denying that William Kunstler significantly changed the legal landscape in America forever, and probably for the better.

William L. Kunstler was born on July 7th, 1919, in New York, New York, and died on September 4th, 1995 in New York City.

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe will be showing  at the UltraStar La Costa on Sunday, February 14, at 4:00 p.m.  as part of the 20th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival that is sponsored by The Mizel Family Foundation.


Paul Greenberg is a freelance writer based in San Diego.