Archive

Archive for February 20, 2010

Revamped Jewish Museum of London to open its doors

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

(Press Release) WJC–The Jewish Museum in the British capital London is to re-open next month following a US$ 15 million expansion project. Based in north London, the original Victorian building was linked with its neighbor, a former piano factory, tripling the museum’s space. Its four main galleries are devoted to: an introduction; history of British Jews; Jewish faith; and the Holocaust.

Among the new displays will be a Medieval mikvah dating from the 13th century, on view for the first time since it was excavated in 2001, and a gallery dedicated to the testimony of British-born Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman OBE. The inaugural temporary exhibition ‘Illumination – Hebrew Treasures from the Vatican and Major British Collections’ opens in June and is scheduled to run through October 2010. It includes manuscripts acquired by the Vatican for its own internal scholarship, but which have never been publicly displayed. Other shows being planned will look at Jewish figures in the entertainment industry, the importance of food in Jewish culture, and comic book super heroes.

Founded in 1932, the Jewish Museum merged in 1995 with the London Museum of Jewish Life. They continued to run on separate sites, but have now been brought together in the expanded building.

For further information visit the website of the Jewish Museum.

*

The preceding provided by World JewishCongress

Jewish refugees from Arab countries discussed in Knesset

February 20, 2010 1 comment

 

(Press Release) WJC–A conference on the rights of Jews who had to flee their Arab home countries after 1948 was held at the Knesset in Jerusalem as Israel’s parliament is set discuss a bill that would make the issue an integral part of future Middle East peace negotiations. Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, US Congressman Eliot Engel, the head of the group Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), Stanley Urman, and leaders of Jewish organizations from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, and other Arab countries took part in the gathering, which was held in the Knesset building.

Originally submitted almost a year ago to the Knesset, the bill passed its first hearing two weeks ago. Now various interest groups are pushing the bill with the Knesset’s 120 members before it is submitted for a second and third reading next week. The bill was sponsored by Knesset member Nissim Ze’ev of the Orthodox Shas party and follows a resolution passed in the US House of Representatives in 2008, which calls for the recognition of Jewish and Christian refugees in addition to Palestinian refugees.

Irwin Cotler said: “We are not just speaking about financial compensation or indemnification. We are talking about justice for Jews from Arab countries. This speaks to the question of, among other things, rectifying the justice and peace narrative of the last 62 years where the question of Jews from Arab countries has not been part of the narrative. There have been more than 160 UN resolutions on the matter of refugees. All 160 dealt with Palestinian refugees only. I am not saying they shouldn’t address Palestinian refugees, but I am saying there is no justice and no truth if it does not also address the plight of Jews seeking justice from Arab countries.”

According to JJAC, some 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established. These include Jews from Syria, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

The speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin of the governing Likud Party, said the issue was an important counterweight to Palestinian demands for a right of return to homes from which they were expelled or had to leave in 1948, and which are now part of Israel.

“The Arab peace initiative, based on the Saudi initiative, has a clause that calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue,” Rivlin told participants at the conference. “Israel is opposed to the right of return… we have to make an appeal today, to say that there is no room for bringing up the Palestinian right of return without the Jewish refugee issue being resolved. This has to be heard in the political discourse in Israel and in the international community.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said there was hypocrisy in the way the international community dealt with the Palestinian refugee community: “The Arabs today, as they have done for 50 years, use the Palestinian refugee population as political pawns. They want them to live in misery. They want them to suffer and then to blame the Jews. The fact of the matter is that the blame lies right at the foot of the Arab states, be it Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Egypt or any of those countries that have lots of petro-dollars and they don’t even spend a shekel to help their refugees.”

*

The preceding provided by World JewishCongress

Malashock: plans and news

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO–On Feb. 17, 2010, I was invited to meet with Founder/Artistic Director John Malashock and Paloma Patterson, Executive Director, of Malashock Dance and The Malashock Dance School. We discussed the many projects they’ve planned as we sat in their spacious office adjacent to the Company’s beautiful studio in a complex which houses several dance and other arts organizations.

Dance Place San Diego sits on land which originally was the U. S. Navy’s historic training center. When the Navy moved out the city created an interesting mosaic of private housing, offices, shops and cultural centers, including a theater – the last still awaiting renovation.

John Malashock came to San Diego in 1988 and has been an important focal point for modern dance in this city. In addition, he participates in a palette of artistic activities such as the San Diego Opera, San Diego Symphony, KPBS-TV, Museum of Photographic Arts, Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Music Society, Mainly Mozart Music Festival, Old Globe Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse.

The Company’s school offers classes in modern dance and other disciplines from beginner through open Company class. Master classes have been taught by Malashock and three guest teachers on four Sundays in February. In addition the school reaches out to the community through classes and workshops in the public schools. To round out the educational program a summer intensive is planned at the intermediate to advanced level.

Malashock has always shown an interest in how dance is seen through the camera lens – both still and in motion. In August 2-14, 2010, a series of classes will be offered bringing together the two often complimentary art forms: film and dance. The series will include producing, shooting and editing an original dance by each student.

Malashock finds inspiration for his choreography from many sources and is now at work on two. The first is “Chagall, A Dance Musical” in which he will renew collaboration with composer/lyricist Yale Strom. The original music will range from Klezmer to Russian folk and French Musette to Russian Avant Garde Classical. Music and dance will explore the art, life and relationships of Chagall. As part of the Jewish Arts Festival 2010, the first three sections of this new work will premiere June 10, 12 and 13 along with “Tribes” a previous collaboration between Malashock and Strom.

A second new dance work “The Floating World” will use original music and video presented in conjunction with San Diego Museum of Art’s exhibition “Dreams & Diversions: 250 Years of Japanese Woodblock Prints.” The premiere is planned for April 2011 and will run four weeks in the Museum’s Copley auditorium. The actual creative process can be viewed at the Company’s studio this coming April 10 & 11, and then as a “work in progress” on May 15 & 16 – 2010.
Malashock has a firm vision for his work, the Company and the school. In these shaky economic times, it’s important to have such a vision and then to translate it into action with a steady hand and eye. Bringing those steadying qualities together with the visionary eye of an artist (quite a different kind of vision) is a delicate act of balance. But, as a dancer, Malashock knows all about balance.

 *

Orysiek is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

The choice we face

February 20, 2010 1 comment

 
 By Jeremy Ben-Ami

WASHINGTON, DC–I’ve just landed in the US following an exhilarating week leading a delegation of five members of Congress to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.  The five members of Congress who traveled with the Congressional Delegation are Reps. Lois Capps (CA), William Delahunt (MA), Bob Filner (CA), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), and Donald Payne (NJ).The trip, sponsored by the J Street Education Fund, exposed key friends of Israel in Congress to complexity on the ground, to divergent opinions and to first-hand controversy.

The Delegation visited Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman, meeting with politicians in and out of government.  We dined and debated with civil society leaders in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.  We heard the first-hand powerful narratives of Israeli settlers, families in Sderot, human rights activists, Gilad Shalit’s father, and descendants of Palestinian refugees.

With one notable exception – as you may know, we were placed under a so-called “boycott” by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.  On the heels of telling the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations that J Street should stop calling itself something it’s not (i.e., “pro-Israel”), Ayalon leaked to Israeli media word of a boycott of the group, supposedly preventing us from meeting with Israeli officials. ( See:   “Deputy FM Ayalon addresses Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 17, 2010.)

Needless to say, the members of Congress were none-too-pleased, holding a press conference to express their shock and issuing a statement demanding clarification from the Government. (See:   “Rep. Delahunt Statement on J Street Education Fund Congressional Delegation,” February 17, 2010.)

For many – from Israeli political insiders and media to American Jewish leaders and politicians – this incident was just the latest in a series of indications that the Foreign Ministry in this Government is less an open front door to Israel than a checkpoint for ideological purity.

This week’s spat between the Ministry and our Delegation deepens concerns about the increasing inability of some in Israel and in the US to distinguish between criticism of or disagreement with Israeli policy and outright hostility to the state itself.(See:  “The Ministry for Isolating Israel,” by Haaretz Editorial Board. Haaretz, February 19, 2010.)

The more supporters of Israel put themselves in a defensive crouch, lashing out at the slightest hint of criticism, the less meaningful their entreaties will be when the threats are real and the enemies truly lethal.

Thankfully, within twenty-four hours, the Government in this case backtracked, apologizing to the Delegation.   (See: “Diaspora Affairs: J Street 1: Ayalon 0,” by Haviv Rettig Gur, and The Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2010.  “J Street: Criticism of Israel does not make us the enemy,” by Barak Ravid. Haaretz, February 19, 2010.)
 

There is much beyond this controversy to share from the visit. We were struck by the disparity between the fierce urgency felt by many whose lives focus on solving the conflict and the lack of urgency felt by many others whose lives are more removed from day-to-day contact with the conflict.

We heard dramatically varying views on the state of American diplomacy – with some unsatisfied with the tactics, pace and results of the Mitchell effort to date, and others expressing great confidence in Senator Mitchell and highly appreciative of his patience, experience and skills.

We heard from those who believe that only if the threat from Iran is dealt with, can Israel with confidence turn to dealing with the Palestinian conflict – and from those for whom action on resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is a step toward dealing with the Iranian threat.

The diversity of opinions is remarkable; the depth of passion unmistakable.

But I take away from the whole experience a troubling sense that beyond any particular issue of the moment – beyond Iran, Goldstone, Jerusalem, settlements, or Danny Ayalon –  there is a fundamental conflict rising up to face the Jewish people as a whole.

There is in our community – and by that I include the whole of world Jewry as one people from Israel to the US and around the globe – a struggle developing between two camps with radically different visions of Jewish expression in the 21st century.

On one side of this struggle are those committed to our vision of time-honored Jewish and democratic values – grounded in respect for “the other,” a tolerance for dissent, and a willingness to sacrifice territory for peace.

On the other side are those who seem willing to muffle dissent, view all conflict as zero-sum, and place retaining captured land and territory at the center of its value system.

For a while now, it has been popular to say that for Israel there is a choice ahead between the land, being Jewish, and being democratic.  Many leading Israelis have come to see that it’s possible only to have two of the three.

I think the choice for world Jewry is similarly profound and stark.  As a people – do we line up with those who seek to hang on to all of “Greater Israel” and watch our Jewish and democratic values erode in Israel and in our community, or do we stand up urgently for territorial compromise and for behavior in Israel and in our community that reflects our cherished and long-held values?

More than ever, it’s clear to me that we’re not fighting simply over Israeli or American foreign policy.  We’re in a larger and more significant battle over who we are as a people in this new century and how our people are defined collectively for ourselves and for others by the behavior of the country that serves as our national expression.

*

 Jeremy Ben Ami is Executive Director of J Street

Clowning around

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO–A few weeks ago I was visiting a congregant at Sharp Grossmont Hospital when someone knocked on the door. A clown and his dog asked if they could come in (actually, it was only the clown who made the request). Although the family was surprised, they did invite him in and we spent several minutes chatting, smiling, and joking until he took his leave. He also left us with souvenirs. Each of us was awarded a “I hugged a clown today” sticker.

He was not an ordinary clown, if there is such a thing, but a “therapy clown.” The clown was a specially trained volunteer who spent much of his free time visiting and lifting the spirits of patients who are often suffering spiritually as well as physically.

Lest you think that a “therapy clown” is a far-fetched idea, the University of Haifa  Medical School recently opened the first official program for “Medical Clowning.” Herzel Ziyoni, one of the 19 students in the pilot program said: “Clowning enables us to open up avenues of communication with patients that the medical staff doesn’t succeed with or doesn’t know how to connect with. We create experiences, we create distractions, so the patient won’t feel his or her pain and can fly with us to fantasy lands. Or allow a kid to undergo a CT without the need for an injection or pill to first calm him down.” (http://www.israel21c.org/health/israeli-degree-in-medical-clowning-a-prescription-for-health)

I thought about the Sharp Grossmont Hospital clown when I read the recent obituary of Dr. Michael Musicant. The Union Tribune reported that Dr. Musicant was met with derision when he said, as the hospital’s chief of staff, that he wanted to focus on “happiness” during his tenure. The laughing stopped when Dr. Musicant’s emphasis on the whole human experience in medicine resulted in improved morale and greater job satisfaction among the hospital staff. One must assume that this also led to a more pleasant experience for the patient as well, and perhaps, the hospital clown. (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/feb/16/michael-musicant-sharp-grossmont-chief-staff-surge/)

Many years before, Jewish tradition recognized the importance of human beings living integrated rather than compartmentalized lives, and of the spiritual complimenting the practical. When God directed the Children of Israel to build the first Aron Kodesh, Holy Ark, to house the Ten Commandments received at Mt. Sinai, God told them: “Make two cherubim [a mythical creature with human, animal, and bird-like features] of gold…[and place them on top of the Ark]…The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, shielding the cover with their wings. They shall confront each other, the faces of the cherubim being turned toward the cover.” (Ex. 25:18-20)

A great rabbi explained: Jews must live their lives through integrating the two directions symbolized by the cherubim. On one hand, “The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above” – they must continually be meditating upon and being attentive to the Will of their Heavenly Parent. But on the other hand, they must also “confront each other, the faces of the cherubim being turned toward the cover” – they must at the same time be concerned with the needs of their fellow human beings. Allegiance to God and allegiance to human beings cannot be separated or prioritized.

The rabbi continued that one can learn this same lesson from the tablets of the Ten Commandments themselves. It is well known that commandments 1 through 5 on the right tablet contain mitzvot between God and humanity (such as observing the Shabbat) and 6 through 10 on the left tablet contain mitzvot between one human being and another (“thou shalt not murder”). However, despite their different content, these two tablets are never displayed separately. They always appear together. Why? To teach us that one must never distinguish between love of God and love of humanity. Both are essential to human happiness and fulfillment.

Although it is tempting to compartmentalize our lives and divide between the sacred and the secular, the body and the mind, we are happier and more fulfilled human beings when we recognize, cultivate, and celebrate the wholeness of human existence.

*
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue

The Broads musical has a narrow perspective

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Cynthia Citron

LOS ANGELES–The four broads get an A for effort.  The writers get a C.  As in Cutesy.  Contrived.  And Cumbersome. 

 The show is Broads! The Musical and it showcases the talents of Ivonne Coll, Leslie Easterbrook, June Gable, and Barbara Niles as four denizens of Millennium Manor, a retirement community in West Palm Beach.  Gable has attitude; Niles, who plays her sister, has a compulsion to make nice.  Easterbrook, the Botoxed glamorpuss, channels Carol Channing.  And Coll makes the most of her Puerto Rican otherness. 

They are an unlikely foursome, but they play well together.  All four of them have strong, well-trained voices and do their best to overcome a lame plot written by Jennie Fahn and largely forgettable tunes composed by Joe Symon.  A rare exception is their opening number, Beautiful Broads which holds out a promise that isn’t quite met.  Instead, the songs devolve into a catalogue of senior citizen pathologies: the effects of gravity on the female body; the side effects of medication; living on Social Security, as in your life is a farce when your income is sparse;  4 oclock earlybird dinners; and the best way to die. 

 The overall theme is long-term friendship as portrayed in the melancholy ballad Just Yesterday We Were Girls and the buddy song You Can Count on Me.  A peculiar contradiction to the theme of women bonding and standing together against the vicissitudes of growing old, however, is that three of the four broads live happily with their husbands (as described in the song My Dear Hubby), which would presumably limit their need for such strong emotional support from their friends. 

 In fact, the upcoming move of Louise (Easterbrook) and her husband to their daughters home in Baltimore provides the crisis point in the story.  The other three women are angry and distressed that her departure will break up their foursome and prevent them from continuing to perform for the community.  What child doesn’t dream of having their mother move back home with them! Elaine (Gable) observes sarcastically.

 A comic touch is added with the dialogue between two backstage voices representing a sort of mother yenta of the community and the announcer of The Broads program.  The voices, though not immediately recognizable, belong to none other than Kaye Ballard and Shecky Greene.

 Director Jules Aaron, the recipient of 24 Drama-Logue awards and long-time artistic director of the Unit Theater in New York, steers his bright ensemble through the lightweight plot and choreographer Kay Cole provides them with a few spirited moves.  Stephen Giffords’  set design is minimal, and Shon LeBlancs’ costumes are glitzy and over the top (what are those huge saddlebags the women wear in one of the numbers!?) 

 To sum up:  the women are terrific.  The production, not so much.  One can only hope to see these broads all together again—in a better show. 

 Broads! The Musical continues Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 at the El Portal Forum Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., in North Hollywood, through April 4th.  Call (818) 508-4200 for reservations.

*

Citron is Los Angeles bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World