Archive for the ‘Romania’ Category

Romanian coin honoring Miron Cristea denounced by ADL

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has condemned the decision of the Romanian National Bank to honor an anti-Semitic former Prime Minister and Patriarch with a commemorative coin. The League urged Romania’s President to ensure that information about the anti-Semitic actions of Miron Cristea be included with each coin.

In a letter to Traian Basescu, Romanian President, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director condemned the Romanian National Bank’s decision to honor Miron Cristea, a past Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church and Prime Minister, in its series of commemorative coins of the church’s Patriarchs. 

Foxman urged President Basescu to ensure that the National Bank include an educational pamphlet with each coin that describes the anti-Semitic actions of Cristea.
“We are shocked and disappointed that the National Bank of Romania has decided to honor Miron Cristea, even after consideration of his anti-Semitic actions and statements.  As Prime Minister on the eve of World War II, Miron Cristea called upon Romanians ‘to fight the Jewish parasites’ and stripped 225,000 Jews of their Romanian citizenship.  Having been a Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church does not excuse his anti-Semitism and the crimes he committed against Romanian Jews.
“While we emphatically condemn the National Bank’s decision to persist with the Cristea coin, we hope the effort to promote Holocaust education and remembrance among the Romanian people can benefit from the National Bank’s lapse of judgment.
“Since 2004, Romania has committed itself to Holocaust education and remembrance, and you, Mr. President, have been a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism.  Today you can provide yet another example of that leadership and help fulfill Romania’s commitment by using all authorities at your disposal to ensure that the National Bank includes an educational pamphlet with each coin of Cristea, so that no one who gazes upon him in appreciation can claim ignorance of his crimes.” 
ADL’s partner and affiliate in Romania is “MCA Romania – The Center for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism in Romania.” 

Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

Commentary: Israelis divided on fate of children of foreign workers

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM — The New York Times headlines  its article about a recent Israeli government decision dealing with the children of illegal immigrants, “Israelis Divided on Deporting Children.” Its first paragraph claims that

“Deep divisions emerged here on Monday over the fate of about 400 children of foreign workers who have no legal status in the  country and are slated for deportation. The issue has touched on sensitive nerves in Israel, which sees itself as a nation of Jewish refugees and defines itself as a Jewish and democratic  state.”

The issue does stir emotions. However, the results of one media query seem short of “deep divisions.” The country’s most popular news web site asked about the government decision that would allow approximately 800 children of foreign workers to stay in Israel, and deport about 400.” The criteria employed by the government would take into consideration length of residence, fluency in Hebrew, and enrollment in public school.

Of more than 1500 respondents,  17 percent thought the decision an appropriate compromise, 54 percent chose the option “Disgrace; there is a need to deport them all,” and 29 percent chose “Shameful; the government should allow all to stay.”

The issue of illegal immigration touches the same buttons here that it does in the United States and Western Europe. Israel is the only well-to-do western country having a land border with Africa, and the route from Egypt over the Sinai with Bedouin guides has resulted in substantial illegal foreign worker communities in Eilat and the poorer neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. Official estimates of close to 150,000 illegal residents include these migrants, as well as individuals who came as part of official agreements with several Asian countries (especially the Philippines, Thailand, China), and overstayed their visas. European prostitutes also come over the Sinai, typically  organized by Israeli criminals whose own origins are in the women’s homelands of the former  Soviet Union.

As elsewhere, businesses and families have trouble attracting menial workers who are legal, and provide jobs despite threats of inspections and fines. Egyptian police and soldiers make occasional sweeps against Bedouin traffickers, but their practice of shooting and killing the migrants does not go down well with Israelis.

Israel’s media has cooperated with activists who portray many of the African migrants as refugees seeking asylum from Darfur, although there may be few if any who have documented such origins. The vast majority are economic migrants, with large numbers coming from Eritrea and Nigeria. Efforts to arrange orderly programs of work permits with those governments along with procedures for returning illegals have not succeeded. While Israel’s government was pondering the issue of deporting children and their families over the course of several weeks, the media provided coverage for children who spoke, in Hebrew, about their love of Israel, their aspirations to become Israelis and eventually to serve in the army, and their lack of any connections with any other place. Media personalities press individuals speaking for the government, or Knesset Members in favor of deportation, with questions like, “How can you deport such children?”

Israelis do have sensitive nerves, but it is not clear how they differ from other populations. Perhaps 100,000 have expressed concern for Gilad Shalit, the soldier held prisoner in Gaza more than four years, but there are no overt signs of a movement to undercut the government’s refusal to free all the prisoners demanded as his price by Hamas. 

More likely to be emotional than other events is the death of military personnel. When an IDF helicopter crashed with the loss of six lives during a training mission in Romania, the media devoted extensive coverage of the incident over the course of several days: from the first report of a missing helicopter missing to the funerals of the men on board. There were numerous interviews with experts speculating about the cause of the crash, and reports about the technicians, officers, and military rabbis sent to Romania in order to collect material for inspection and to identify the remains. As has occurred in the case of other military loses, there were stories about each of the individuals, interviews with friends and family members. Thousands of people attend these funerals, many of whom have no direct connection with those killed. 

While there are Israelis who feel strongly about pleasant looking Africans and other children of illegal immigrants, there is no indication that they are able to shape public policy. It is hard to argue with the statement, expressed by several in the government’s majority, who said that an excess of leniency would only add to the problems of a small country, wanting to remain Jewish, and having a border with the poorest region of the world.

Among those quarreling with this sentiment was a prominent television personality who held forth on the value of ethnic variety, and the greater willingness of these immigrants than the ultra-Orthodox to work and to serve in the army.

The government has taken initial steps to build some kind of barrier through the long wasteland that is the border between the  Sinai and Israel, but the Bedouin will be crafty at poking holes in whatever Israel builds. And it is cumbersome at best to deport individuals who have no  documents, may not report truthfully about their origins,  and are not likely to be accepted by whatever homeland Israel would decide is theirs. 
Israel has approached European countries with a request to accept some of these people. So far there are no reports of success. 
Anyone think that the United States would cooperate?

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University.

Jerusalem tourism waxes and wanes with international politics

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–More than two million overseas visitors arrived in Jerusalem during a recent year. The attractions are well maintained places linked to individuals and events featured in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and a functioning Old City enclosed by walls built in ancient times and last reconstructed in the 16th century. The Old City offers sites and shopping for tourists, and four distinctive neighborhoods that are the homes of 30,000 Jews, Muslims, Armenians and other Christians. Only a short ride away is Bethlehem, equally compelling for those wanting to see the roots of Christianity. Jericho is not much further in another direction. It offers winter visitors a chance to dine comfortably in an outdoor restaurant, while ten miles away in Jerusalem it may be raining and close to freezing.
While the numbers coming to Jerusalem are impressive, and often a nuisance to locals having to cope with crowds and traffic, the city ranks lower than 50 others in the numbers of tourists it attracts. London, New York, Bangkok, Paris, and Rome attract from three to seven times the number of international tourists as Jerusalem. Dublin, Amsterdam, and Prague get twice as many, while even Kiev and Bucharest, plus resorts near Bangkok attract 50 percent more international visitors than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have more of a mystic pull than these other places. The “Jerusalem syndrome” is a documented condition whereby some visitors believe themselves to be biblical characters. Jewish and Christian sufferers act as David, Jesus, or some other figure associated with their faith. I am not aware of visitors to London and Paris thinking that they are Henry VIII, Napoleon, or any of the other figures associated with local history.
Why does Jerusalem rank only #51 on a sophisticated ranking of international tourism? 
Distance has something to do with it. Visitors to Western Europe can avail themselves of numerous attractive destinations as part of the same trip from home. There are decent beaches and other features in Tel Aviv and Netanya, but they attract only 60 and 10 percent of the overseas visitors as Jerusalem. Tiberias is on the Sea of Galilee and close to sites important to Christians, but draws only 25 percent of the number of visitors to Jerusalem. 
There are other sites in countries close to Jerusalem, notably Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, but the borders of the Middle East are not as easy to cross as those of Western Europe. For some years now Israeli security personnel have not allowed Israeli Jews to visit Bethlehem or Jericho without special permits, and others have to pass through barriers and inspections meant to protect us.

Politics and tension are more likely to figure in a decision to visit Jerusalem than other cities. The number of overseas tourists to Israel dropped from 2.4 million in 2000, which was mostly prior to the onset of the latest intifada, to a bit over one million in 2003, which was one of the bloodiest years. Numbers increased to 1.9 million by 2005 when the violence had diminished significantly. No other country included in the regions of Europe and the Mediterranean surveyed by the United Nations tourist agency showed comparable variations in the same period. Even on a mundane issue like this, the U.N. is unable to consider Israel part of the Middle East region, which includes all of the countries bordering it and Palestine.

Jerusalem has drawn more tourists that some well-known sites in Europe. It does better than Florence and Venice, and is pretty much tied with Athens. Why less than Kiev and Bucharest? There are mysteries in the world of tourism that may boil down to nothing more than current fashion or a lack of precision in the numbers.

Tourist flows change with politics and economics. Thirty years ago there was virtually no direct travel between Israel, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Now Russian visitors are in second place behind those from the United States; there are sizable numbers from Ukraine and Poland. Thousands come each year from India, Korea, Japan, China, and Nigeria. Indonesia and Morocco receive Israelis and send visitors to Israel, even though there are no formal diplomatic relations. There are even a few hundred visitors annually from Malaysia and Iran, whose officials are usually among our most intense critics .

My latest Jerusalem experience may be part of a multicultural gesture to attract overseas visitors, or it may reflect nothing more than the lack of experience or attention by the person responsible. While I usually pay no attention to the music piped into the exercise room at the university gym, this morning I became alert to something familiar. It was Silent Night, in the English version I was required to sing many years ago at the Highland School. But only in December. Never in July.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, August 6, 1954, Part 3

July 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

Terror in Rumania (Editorial)

Recent revelations regarding the reign of terror conducted by the Communist Government against Zionists there have shocked many in the free world.  Communists in Israel, faced by the news that 200 Zionist leaders in Rumania have been imprisoned, have been reduced to the absurdity of saying that no one has ever been imprisoned for his opinions in a Communist state, and that the whole matter is merely an instance of “United States psychological warfare.”

For those who have followed the history of the Soviet and Communist attitude toward Zionism over the past decades, since before even 1q917, this news comes as no surprise. To Communists, Zionism is merely another form of “bourgeois nationalism” which must be combated just as Moscow combats, for example, the desire of Ukrainians for liberty.  In the Nineteen twenties and Nineteen Thirties tens of thousands of Zionists were sent to Soviet slave-labor camps, and the numbers of these slaves were multiplied still further when the Soviet seizures of Eastern Poland and the Baltic states greatly increased the Jewish population in the Soviet Union.

In Rumania, as in other Communist countries, all those who work for freedom and for release from the Muscovite bondage are “Traitors.” The Zionists now being punished for their effort to free Jews from the general enslavement that is Rumanian life today are martyrs to the common struggle against oppression.  The free world must seek their release, as part of the efforts to support all friends of freedom – of all nationalities, cultures and religions—behind the Iron Curtain.

A Little Known Group (Editorial)

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

Very few people in this community are aware of the work of the Jewish Labor Committee and the important part it plays in the nation’s trade union movement. As far back as 1933 the Jewish Labor Committee began an underground rescue movement that did heroic work in saving thousands of Jewish lives from Hitler’s maniacal grasp.

In addition to their work in fighting prejudice in the A.F. of L. and the C.I.O the Committee carries on a program of child care, food and clothing shipments, and distribution of books to Europe and Israel.

The Committee was the first to recognize, in 1949, the full meaning of Soviet anti-semitism and exposed it in a series of carefully documented studies. It has been a prime mover in the settlement of Jewish restitution claims with Germany and Austria.

The Jewish Labor Committee is the arm of the organized Jewish Community in the trade union movement. To achieve its goal the Committee looks to every community for increased support for the urgent tasks that remain to be carried out. The small but dedicated group that has been devoting itself to this work for many years should be encouraged and supported.

From Where I Sit
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

By Mel Goldberg

Lots of talk about certain clubs around San Diego discriminating against Jews through the quota system … If this matter were deeply checked, it would be discovered that in one case at least, and possibly two, the quota system is in effect largely through the efforts of some Jewish members.  Amidst their zealousness to keep out “unpolished” brethren, they have seen fit to compromise principles by allowing the existence of membership selectivity based on a “religious” rather than an “environmental” background qualification.

Just an afterthought! … We can supply the victim in the following incident, if anyone doesn’t believe it and wants proof.  A Jewish fellow, that we know, applied for a job within the last two weeks. The prospective employer was Jewish too.  At the conclusion of the interview, the “business” man turned to the job seeker and blatantly stated, “You could probably handle the job okeh, but I’ll tell you frankly, I make it a point never to hire a Jew.” … The confused lad didn’t hang around to see if the gentleman carried a Klu Klux Klan card or contributed to the Gerald K. Smith for President drive….

Wouldn’t it be nice if the banks would start spending their money in paying a decent interest rate, rather than by outvying each other in building Taj Mahals on El Cajon Blvd.  Local savings and loan associations, too, give you a big deal … They pay 3% and just 135 miles north in L.A., they pay  3 ½ %… Bet if a vote were taken among the banks’ customers, they’d rather have the ½ % and do business in reconverted dry-docked tuna boats for buildings.

Dan Weinberg claims to have overheard a couple of Texans discussing a mutual friend at Del Mar.  “He says he’s as rich as we are,” said the one oil and cattle and baron.  “Why that four-flusher,” responded the other, “he’s never had over twenty million dollars in his pocket in his entire life.”

Jack Lowenbein tells of a man who came home carrying a large parcel for his wife.  “Look, dear,” he said, “I didn’t forget your birthday.  I bought you a beautiful mink stole”, … “But,” the wife reminded him, “you promised me a new car.” …”I know,” said hubby, “but, where can you buy an imitation Cadillac wholesale.” …

Speaking of fur coats, there’s a woman in Pt. Loma, who owns one and during the hot summer months, she wraps it in a cheap suitcase and stores the whole shebang in her home deep freezer. When chilly weather rolls around, she hauls it out, moth free and looking like a million…

The following vignette is over 6 weeks old. To prevent identification, we have held off comments for the last 3 issues.  Now it can be told … A couple of local matrons flew over to Las Vegas on the Q.T. … It had been assumed hereabouts that they were spending a couple of days shopping in Los Angeles.  Anyway, while in Vegas, the two 40 plus gals had quite a gay time.  They met two guys, real smooth types, who were in their late 20s. Our two women felt proud that with all the pretty things floating about, these handsome young fellows would be attracted to them.

The evening was going along well. … dinner, etc., and then the payoff.  Sometime during the course of the evening the two Romeos disappeared with the galss’ purses…which included all their cash and papers… A couple of collect phone calls to the husbands in San Diego and a wired money order headed the ladies homeward. … We are happy to report that all was forgiven and our two San Diegans are much wiser for it all.

One of the Los Angeles Anglo-Jewish newspapers, “The Voice,” carried the story of an interview with the Governor of Baja California and according to the story, gambling will be legally licensed at Rosarito Beach within the  next 60 days. .. On his visit to England, Groucho Marx was asked by a reporter, “I hear you’re paid $300,000 a year for being rude to people … what would you do if you had Senator McCarthy on your program?”  … Groucho’s instant reply was: “I’d work free for a week.” … Ruth Brody wrote from New York that she saw an English car on Fifth Avenue that was so small, the windshield was a monocle. … Report around that Liberace would like to get married—anybody know where he can find a girl shaped like a piano?

Emergency March of Dimes Drive Begins Aug. 16th
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

San Diego will conduct an Emergency March of Dimes August 16 through 31, Thomas V. Prendergast, chairman of the San Diego Chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, announced recently. The campaign will parallel a similar drive held throughout the nation by the National Foundation during the last two weeks in August.

Following a special meeting Monday, August 2, at Chapter headquarters, 3609 Fourth Ave., Prendergast announced that Jerry Rudrauff and Thomas Sefton will be co-chairmen for the Emergency March of Dimes.  Rudrauff conducted the Chapter’s regular drive in January this year.

No Future
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

The surest way to have no future is to live in the belief that the future is tomorrow.

Jews in American History~300 Years
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 5

By Dr. Philip L. Seman, University of Judaism

In 1852, over one hundred years ago, Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash appealed for the support of Beth Hamidrash, the first Russian-Jewish congregation to be established in the United States, and soon thereafter it became the center of religious orthodoxy and defense against the encroachment of Reform Judaism. This was the only institution in the country at the time when religious studies were pursued according to the traditional East-European patterns. Since 1857 and particularly beginning with 1881 when East European immigration began in large numbers due to the atrocities in Poland and Russia, and again for the same reasons from Rumania in 1892 the orthodox group grew in numbers and consequently in the number of synagogues and institutions to the extent that for some time they represented the preponderant group in this country in most all large cities.

Today this group has two large educational institutions preparing students for the Orthodox Rabbinate, the Yeshiva University and the Hebrew Theological College of New York and Chicago.

The founders of the Beth Hamidrash were few, we are told in an account of the founding of the institution.  They established it in poverty,.  However, they watched over it with loving care. As the record reads, through the members were poor in money, they were prominent with a liberal spirit; they labored hard for their daily bread, and yet set aside from their limited means a portion for the “holy” offering, to support the might of the law.  We further learn from a foot note to this interesting story from Isaac Lesser’ in “The Accident XIV” and in the American Jewish Historical Society Publication 1901, that when Sampson Simson died in 1857, he left $2000 to the Beth Hamidrash, as well as $3000 to Shearith Israel of which he was a member, and $1000 to Columbia College, of which he was an alumnus.

Thus Orthodoxy in the sense as we understand it now was established in this country about 100 years ago.

As the Psychologist Sees You

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

By Irving R. Stone, Psychological Consultant

Regaining Mental Health—Although we have made great strides in our attitude toward mental illness, with greater acceptance of treatment, in the minds of many it is still a disgrace for one to need help with his emotional problems. Why this is so, we do not know, for a person is no more responsible for psychological ill health than he is for physical ill health. Perhaps it is felt that a person can get over a physical illness but not one that is mental.  That is far from the truth.

Regaining mental health is now more possible than ever, especially when we seek the help that is necessary before it becomes too severe. Today there are thousands of persons who once were patients in mental hospitals and are now considered as recovered and even many more thousands who suffered from a psychoneurotic illness and benefitted from out-patient treatment.   When we consider the small number of former patients of mental hospitals who return for further treatment, in comparison to the number discharged each year, we see how effective are our treatment methods.

The prime factor in regaining mental health is the selection of a qualified therapist. In a private consultation with a psychiatrist or psychologist it is necessary to see that these therapists are qualified through board certification or license. Usually, we can assume that the therapists are qualified when we apply to a clinic or hospital, especially those sponsored by governmental agencies.  A county medical society or the local psychological organization often has a list of qualified practitioners in the community.

There are a number of therapies which are used to aid in the recovery of mental health and each is selected in accordance with the age and problem of the patient.  For adults, the most frequently used is that of psychotherapy.  This affords the patient an opportunity to unburden himself of disturbing thoughts, fears, frustrations, and conflicts and at the same time, with the aid of the therapist, to gain insight or understanding into his problem.

With children, play therapy is most frequently used. The child expresses himself I play situations and drawings or rids himself of aggressive feelings through physical activities. Here, again, the therapist allows the child to express himself and interpret, on the child’s level, some of the things which are disturbing him.  At the same time, the child feels that he now has someone who is interested in him as an individual.  Often the therapist takes the place in the child’s mind of an absent father or mother.

For the more severely disturbed, shock therapies are used, the most popular of which is electro-shock. While we do not know as yet how or why electro-shock works, we do know that it usually does work, especially with those severely depressed. Insulin shock is used most frequently with patients suffering from schizophrenia.  The lest used therapy is that of psychosurgery which, while it does alleviate the condition of the patient in many case, modifies or interferes with brain functioning.

The possibility of success in the treatment process is in direct ratio to the early introduction of therapy. Regaining Mental Health is possible but needs public understanding and the acceptance of treatment methods and the individual who has been treated.

Jewish Community Center
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

Camp Jaycee
– Camp Jaycee has exciting plans in store for its campers during the month of August. Plans for the remainder of the month include and over-night camp for the eleven year olds during the seventh week and a special all camp program during the last week of camp.

Camp Jaycee has had many requests from parents to extend the camp season for two additional weeks ending Sept 3, rather than August 20.  All parents interested in the additional camping period are urged to register with the Center before August 13.

Junior High Program –
Monday night has been lounge night at the Jewish Community Center for the Junior High crowd all summer. Program has included square and social dancing and party games.  The parents of the participants have given splendid cooperation and have serve refreshments. A beach party for the group will be held on August 16. All junior high youngsters interested in participating in the program are welcome to attend and should call the Center, AT 1-7744 so that they will receive notices of future activities.

Fiesta Club—Plans for reorganization of the Fiesta Club are now under way. All young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 are urged to contact the Center for additional information. A new and exciting program will be presented if enough interest is expressed in the formation of the new group.

You’ve A Date to Meet Moishe! – On Saturday, August 14, 8:30 p.m. at Beth Israel Center, the Jewish Community Center Teens will present an original musical comedy,” Call Me Moishe!”  Actors, singers and dancers are all hard at work to make this a truly memorable evening.  The Center Teens have written the script, designed the sets and costumes and planned a show to suit every taste.  Mr. Don Merkin of Columbus, Ohio, is directing.

Tickets may be obtained from the Center Teens or by calling AT-1-7744.

Remember the date, Sat., August 14—You’ll remember the show.

Modern Dance Group – A beginners Modern Dance Group has been added to the activities of our Wednesday evening rhythmic exercise class for women. Also conducted by Lilo Berger, this class promises to be a particularly stimulating one – and at no extra cost. The fee covers both activities.

Chaim Weitzmann Poale Zion
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

The annual regional Poale Zion Conference will take place in Los Angeles on August 28 and 29 at the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, 7660 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, and it is hoped a representative gathering from the Chiam Weitzmann San Diego will be present at those interesting sessions.

Happens Every Day
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

Allowances have to be made for some college students and most parents do – weekly.

Please Note!
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

Temple Beth Israel members are asked to reserve Thursday evening, August 26, for a vitally important Semi-Annual Meeting. More details will follow in the August 20 issue of the Southwestern Jewish Press.

(Hebrew Home)

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 6

Application for admission to the Hebrew Home for the Aged may be made through the Jewish Social Service Agency, 333 Plaza, BE-2-5172.


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 “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, July 9, 1954, Part 3

June 24, 2010 1 comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Post Primary Reflections
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, page 5

On reflection, the Primaries, while proving that the Democrats are still alive and kicking, held many disappointments for us. For one thing, the defeat of fluoridation was quite a shock. Even though all the newspapers in the city campaigned for it, we still feel that the fact that you had to vote “no” instead of “yes” to retain it was confusing.  It seems that all you have to do to hoodwink the people – confuse them. There is o other logical explanation.  Backed by all the dentists, medical societies and facts from other cities that have fluoridation, yet San Diego rejected it.

Then there was the sewage bond deal. What shortsightedness!  Could anything have been made plainer that we were a growing city and that we were polluting our bay?  We heard the talk about increase in taxes and the fear of Point Lomans on the choice of the site. But experts were hired, studies made and reports issued to explain the need.  Yet the Bond Issue was defeated.

The last blow was the defeat of the salary increase for the Mayor. Didn’t the people know that the “Honorable” job pays only $5,000 per year?  Can you get a public official for a city of almost 750,000 to act as Mayor for that kind of money?  You can’t hire a good salesman for that figure no less a man of professional training and education.  It is surely no surprise to hear rumors that Mayor Butler will not run again.

Food For Thought

Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, page 5

In another part of the paper you will read a report on our (Mac & Julia Kaufman’s) recent trip to the Northwest. We covered close to 3,500 miles and saw quite a bit of country on our trip to British Columbia.

It is a good experience to get away once in a while, see other cities and towns, and meet their people. It was also an escape from the telephone, newspapers, radio and television. To shut out the troubles of the world for just two weeks was a relief and a change.

America on wheels is an impressive sight.  While on the road, everything to be seen or bought is geared to the automobile.  The cities and towns displaying the most imagination in appealing to motorists attracted the most visitors. Whether a city thrives is not a matter of luck. IT reflects the leadership and civic pride of those who inhabit it. Most of our small towns are a sorry sight of hodgepodge building and indifferent planning.  Like Topsy, they just “growed.”  Only the greatest need would make one stop.

Having passed over mountains and snow; through deserts and heat; we were happy that we lived in San Diego where you can enjoy the sun instead of escaping from it. Our fine beaches are a natural attraction for the landlocked inhabitants who live away from the coast.  Certainly we can be proud of Balboa Park; our world famous zoo; the development of Mission Bay as a recreational area; the Shakespearean Festival; the Star-Light Opera; the Symphonies Under the Stars; the House of Pacific Relations, which is found only in San Diego and historic landmarks too numerous to mention.

But we are in desperate need of a large Convention Hall and a Playhouse, which would attract many more conventions and tourists, at the same time adding a great deal to our cultural life.  If we do not wish to become a smog-filled industrial city, we must concentrate o our natural advantages.

This is not the duty and responsibility of just a handful of citizens bu8t the job of every citizen of San Diego.  Our city can become a world famous attraction all year ‘round if everybody does his share.

From Where I Sit
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, page 5

By Mel Goldberg

Now that summer is really here, assortments of unmarried female relatives are arriving daily from all states of the union to visit local residents. It appears at this time that something should be done to promote better understanding between the summer immigrants and the San Diegans who are courteous enough to accept “blind dates” with them

To begin: there is usually some well meaning person who acts as a central clearing bureau or fixer-upper. You people who have mishpucah that you are trying to marry off—be honest with the fixer. If the niece looks like the back end of a 1922 Stutz Bearcat don’t try to palm her off as a Cadillac El Dorado. This confuses everybody, makes all unhappy, and is the type of thing that leads to long time feuds. Tell the truth, because there are guys who look prehistoric too, and they might be happy to have a date with your Miss Burlap from the West Bronx.

It is no saving grace to book the girl as coming from a “very wealthy family.”  Despite the financial assets of her father, custom decrees that a man pay the tab on at least the first date, so all her popa’s money doesn’t mean one hoot unless you plan to meet the date at the door and slyly slip him two or three ten-spots to cover the evening’s expenses.

If your charge is visiting from one of those sophisticated eastern cities, take her aside before date time and give her a thorough orientation about local conditions. Explain that we do have some of the amenities of civilization here, and if some guy is going to take her to a show or to dinner, don’t let her go bursting out for the evening’s activities in pedal-pushers and sandals.

Seems fantastic but we know of a case that actually happened two weeks ago in that vein. The poor guy told the girl on the phone that they would go dancing and tht he had high hopes of taking her over to the Hotel del Coronado.  He arrived at her relatives’ house, shmoosed with the folks about the usual non-entities for the fifteen minutes while the dame was getting ready. When the little gem made her debut in the living room, she was set to pace a lively mambo donned in Levi’s, a halter, loafers, a rhinestone bracelet and a cocktail watch.  A quick dark drive-in movie made up the agenda that evening.

Also highlight her on the difference between a beach party and a lawn party. We know of another case where a girl from Chicago showed up at a beach party at Old Mission Beach resplendent in a picture hat, organdy dress and five-inch spike heels… Her escort wore a pair of floral pattern swimming trunks by Catalina of California.

Mention to her that she need not fear Indian attacks.  It has been over 105 years since we have had any serious insurgent uprisings locally… She should also be made to understand that it is possible to spend an entire evening at one of the better bistros and not see a movie star… Give her a geography lesson. … If she is from New York, it might help her to understand that a local Don Juan can be as ill-informed about San Francisco as she is about Buffalo or Pittsburg.

If she’s from Chicago tell her to keep quiet about it … If she’s not from either of the above two cities, the coaching you may have to give her may not be so involved. … Girls from Chicago ande New York (and the men from these two concrete and steel monstrosities) are guilty of more social faux-poas’ than are the citizens of any other U.S. community…

In conclusion, impress the words “tolerance of San Diego and San Diegans” upon her. After all, some of us DO like it here, and while we admittedly bow to other cities as being way ahead of us in certain phases of culture, we find enough pleasant about San Diego to be content here and call it home sweet home. It does not make us happy to hear three week refugees from the asphalt jungles cast disparaging remarks on our town… If they really don’t like it here, we hasten to point out that airline and train departure service is most excellent…

One of the most interesting gift shops in town is located at Balboa Park’s Museum of Man. Among their most successful items are the beautiful handcrafts imported from Israel …. Sam Cohen rented an apartment to a musician who practiced on his trumpet till wee hours of the morning. Sam paid him a visit and asked, “Do you know there’s a sick little lady in the next apartment?”  The trumpeting tenant responded with, “No I don’t but hum a few bars, maybe I can pick it up!”….

The cigarette scare may be a good thing.  We even herd of one doctor who was told by HIS doctor to cut down on his cigarette testing … Rose Winnick tells about the perfect Texan—he had a herd of 10,000 cows that gave oil!  Wonder if delicatessens still have “character” customers?  Abe Friedman brought to our attention two of the old stand-bys. The woman who would tell the storekeeper she wanted some corned beef. He’d start to slice and at the same time inquire “how much?”  This lady minced no words. She’d answer “cut!”  The same question and answer would go along till he’d sliced down to about the middle of the eight pound beef.  Then she’d look him coldly in the eye and say, “Awright, give me a quarter pound from the middle.”

Another type was the lady who was the herring barrel inventory taker. She’d make the delicatessen man pull out every herring in the barrel.  After he’d rolled his sleeves up to the shoulder and reached way down to the bottom to search out the one she wanted, she would give it a two minute appraisal, remark “It’s rotten, I don’t want it” and then storm out of the shop.

Jews in American History—300 Years
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 5

By Dr. Philip L. Seaman, University of Judaism

Continuing our story of John Brown and the three Jews who joined him in his anti-slavery efforts; it is noted that suddenly they found themselves in Battle Blackjack, a real battle with bullets whistling dangerously near their heads.  They were somewhat bewildered by the enormity of the adventure into which they had thrown themselves.  During the height of the battle a strangely detached and unheroic conversation, half in Yiddish and half in English, took place between Bondi and Weiner.  “Well, what do you say now?”  “Well, what can I say?  We are up against it. We better not make the ‘old man’ angry.  Let’s finish the job.”  The story goes on that they did finish the job. A little later all three of them, Theodore Weiner, the Polish Jew, Jacob Bernstein, the Bohemian Jew, and August Bondi, the Jew from Vienna, were fighting for the Northern Army together with 8,000 other Jews for the liberation of the slaves.

The record of the Jews in the Civil War was excellent. The record shows some were promoted to generals; seven received the Congressional Medal of Honor; 416 were wounded, 320 were killed, 530 were taken as prisoners of war by the Southern forces. Much of this story came from the Autobiography of August Bondi published by his Sons and Daughters in Galesburg, Ill., in 1910.

Morris U. Schappes in his Documentary History of the Jews in the United States in document 117, page 352, says that August Bondi’s autobiographical account of his participation in the cause of anti-slavery while it may not be fully accurate in some details which undoubtedly became blurred in twenty-five years that passed before he set them down, still conveys the tension, the spirit, the methods and the purposes of the observation of negro slaves on a plantation near New Orleans when he arrived in the United States in 1848 and by instances of the brutal treatment that he witnessed in Galveston, Texas in 1851.  AT the age of seventy, Bondi wrote, “I do not regret a single step or instance of my long life to further and to assist the realization of my devout wishes that tyranny and despotism may perish, and bigotry and fanaticism may be wiped from the face of the earth. Never orthodox but a consistent Jew nevertheless; I believed in the continuance and upholding of all the ceremonial laws.”  (To be Continued)

As the Psychologist Sees You
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 6

By Irving R. Stone, Psychological Consultant

Mental Retardation – It is not often that I pinpoint my remarks in these columns to specific issues and conditions pertaining to one particular place, but this time I shall do so.  Not that the condition does not exist in other parts of the country, for it does, but the conditions as they exist in San Diego can serve as an example of what is present in other areas.

The term “Forgotten Children” has been given to those youngsters whose intellectual level is not on a par with what we consider “normal.”  They are members of a group of more than two million children who are known as the mentally retarded. That this number is so large may surprise many but statistics show that between one and two percent of our population fall in this category.,  Unfortunately, only a small number of them are provided with facilities open to normal children for welfare, training and  recreation.

In the City of San Diego there are special classes in many of the schools for the less severely retarded but only a single school which has facilities to care for only 48 of the more severely retarded for the entire city.  In Chula Vista there is a school that cares for 12 children and a new class is being established for another small group in the La Mesa-Grossmont district. Throughout the county there are only 60 beds for the care of the severely retarded in private boarding homes

It can be seen, therefore, that the great majority are either in state operated hospitals for the retarded, where there is a waiting list of almost two years for admission, or in their own homes, under the care of parents. Naturally, the largest number, by far, will be found in their own homes.  While it is always more advisable to have the latter situation, not always is it possible because of existing family conditions.

The San Diego Association or Retarded Children, a member of the California Council for Retarded Children and the National Association for Retarded Children, has been trying to promote the welfare of these Forgotten Children by assisting in the expansion of the educational and recreational facilities. During the summer they promote, with the assistance of the Board of Education, a school for about 20 children.  They have been trying to get a day care center and nursery school for the retarded, because other facilities do not accept them, and have petitioned the County Board of Supervisors for the use of some of the recently vacated space near Anthony Home.  Here, too, would be found a training program
in simple crafts for the young adult mentally retarded. Another project calls for a Home advisor who will advise on methods for understanding the special needs of this group.

When we realize that mental retardation strikes more than one child in a hundred; that it can happen in any family, whether from the rich or poor, illiterate or highly intelligent parents, we should consider how each of us has a stake in the welfare of these Forgotten Children.

Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 6

John Landesco, aged 63, on June 24. Mr. Landesco was born in Roumania and came to the United States in 1900.  He was head of crime research at the University of Chicago and the author of “Organized Crime,” the result of the Chicago survey.  He was a World War I veteran and was with UNRRA in the Mediterranean and Israel. Mr. Landesco was a life member of the Independence Lodge No. 80 of Milwaukee, San Diego Scottish Rite, Lemon Grove Kiwanis Club, Helix Hi-12, Lemon Grove Men’s Club.

Services were conducted at Bonham Brothers’ Mortuary on June 29 by the Lemon Grove Masonic Lodge, U.D., F.A. & A.M.  The services at Fort Rosecrans where he received full military interment, were conducted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 2082.

Survivors include his wife, Mary G.; 3 sisters, Mrs. Annie Peckarsky of San Diego and Milwaukee, Mrs. Bertha Kaufman of Santa Monica, and Mr. Pearl Ginsburg of Milwaukee; and a borther, A.A. Landesco of Milwaukee.

Mrs. Mildred L. Grossman, 41, passed away on June 26  She had lived in San Diego for 14 years. Services were conducted by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn at Merkley-Austin Mortuary on June 28.  Interment was in the Home of Peace Cemetery.

Survivors are her husband, Sidney, and two sons, Garry and Jeffrey.

City of Hope Aux.
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 6

The  City of Hope Auxiliary is holding its Annual Picnic on Sunday, July 18, at Pepper Grove in Balboa Park.

Delicious home-cooked food will be served from 12 noon. Mrs. Jennie Bloomfield, chairman, and Mrs. Bertha Friedman, co-chairman, will be assisted by Ethel Berwin, Ruth Douglas, Rose Tepper, Gladys Tappan, Fanny Addleson, Anna Lazarowitz, Rose Barr, Esther Schwartz, Jennie Siner, Becky Bard, Marian Resnick, Helen Sparber, Ruth Aronoff, Esther Cole, Edith Belenzon, Liz Gotkin, Rose Miroff, Goldie Kitaen, Lena Penn, Goldie Schusterman, and Jeanne Camiel.

Birdie Stodel B’nai B’rith Women, with Sylvia Adler in charge, is sponsoring the “Sweet Table.”

Proceeds go to the City of Hope Medical Center at Duarte, California, where on Sunday, July 11th, the Dedication of of the new 32-bed Leukemia Wing for Children, will take place. Ethel Berwin, President, will attend with a number of the officers of the local Auxiliary.

Jewish War Veterans
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 6

Bud Samuels, Commander, announced that during July and August the second meeting of the month will be cancelled.

Past Commander Allan Lame has been named chairman to review the projects now carried on by the Post.  Paul Miller will head the ways and means committee.

Yo-Ma-Co News
Southwestern Jewish Press, July 9, 1954, Page 6

Election of officers took place at the last meeting and the following members were elected: Pres., Paul Miller; Vice Pres., Lenny Pearl; Rec. Sec., Evelyn Herman; Corr. Sec., Rae Novak; Treas., Macy Abrams; Sgt-at-Arms, Hy Kitaen; Membership Sec., Binnie Brooks; Auditor, David Brooks.  “Great Expectations” are awaited from this new slate of officers.

By unanimous vote, it was agreed upon by Yo-Ma-Co members to furnish a month’s scholarship to some child to the Jewish Community Summer Camp.

Plans are all set for our Installation Dinner Dance, July 11, at the Don Room of the El Cortez. A program is being arranged and dance music will be furnished by the Forrest Gantz Novelty Orchestra.  Public is invited. For reservations call AT 1-7266.

Yo-Ma-Co picnic is scheduled for July 25th, at Alpine Park.

“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. 

“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. 

‘Chagall’ proves to be an exciting work in progress

June 14, 2010 1 comment

By Sheila Orysiek

Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO–The 17th Annual Jewish Arts Festival, which runs from May 30th to June 21, spans the wide spectrum of the performing arts.  Malashock Dance and Hot P’Stromi brought together modern dance and Klezmer at the Lyceum Space Theatre in downtown San Diego.  I attended the performance on June 13th.

What better way to celebrate art than to bring together artists of different genres to celebrate the life of another artist?  John Malashock – founder and choreographer of Malashock Dance – and Yale Strom – violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, playwright and photographer – combined their significant talents to produce their newest collaboration Chagall.

The Lyceum Space Theatre is a small venue (seating approximately 270) with a square stage jutting out into the audience on two sides.  Thus one is both near enough to feel close to the action, but far enough away to see the design concept as a whole.  Seats are in tiers, so for the most part sight lines are good.  Because of the proximity over zealous amplification can be avoided – for which this observer is grateful.

Strom brings his varied background plus a group of musicians playing Klezmer (and more) under the name:  Hot P’Stromi.   The program opened with several selections of Klezmer from parts of Eastern Europe, such as the vicinity where Chagall was born and spent his childhood, to Romania which is just across the river. 

Love it or not, and I do love it, it is impossible not to respond to Klezmer.   In some ways it is like American jazz – the musicians responding to one another, each in turn picking up the motif – adding, subtracting, clarifying and crafting a specific sound for a specific instrument.  Then, coming all together they go rollicking along.  But, Klezmer also can be winsome and even sad.  The audience reacted to both – some barely able to keep their seats.

John Malashock founded his modern dance company in 1988 and has been a significant presence in San Diego ever since.  His background is impressive and runs the gamut from film (dancing in Amadeus), television specials, choreographing for many other companies – both dance and opera -culminating in four Emmy awards.  He spoke to the audience briefly – but enjoyably – about the work being performed and his plans for it.

Chagall is still a work in progress and Malashock presented three scenes from what will eventually be a full length amalgam of dance, music and imagery.  The first scene was of the village Vitebsk, where Chagall was born in what is now Belarus, but was then Russia and at times Poland.  The second scene is his first significant love who introduces him to her friend who becomes the “love of his life.”  

Michael Mizerany, associate artistic director and senior dancer (with an impressive resume including two Lester Horton Dance Awards) was “Chagall” and brought to the role an understanding of how to portray a painter/artist through the art of dance/movement. 

It is difficult to understand why Chagall would reject his first love, Thea, (Lara Segura) for Bella (Christine Marshall).  But love is not mental – it is visceral and there is no accounting for it.  It is the one emotion we cannot place at the service of reason; however, I think I would enjoy seeing that explored a bit more.  Segura was a lovely Thea.  Costumed in a simple short white sheath she danced passionately while still innocent enough to introduce her friend to her lover.  Marshall, surely a fine dancer, didn’t quite tell me what Chagall saw in her to capture his heart – but perhaps that was not Malashock’s intent.  Or perhaps Chagall didn’t know.

Chagall’s physical love feeds his artistic vision.  He takes his brush and paints her in invisible images upon invisible canvasses.  Then, he uses his brush to explore her body – never vulgarly – but always seeking to understand her outline.  Maybe that is what he really needs.

The pas de deux (this is modern dance so perhaps I should say “dance for two”) is well done – but somehow didn’t convey the depth of passion that must have been there.  However, this is still a work in progress not only for the choreographer, but also for the dancers and they haven’t as yet internalized it.  It is certainly a good beginning.

Tribes premiered in 1996 and has the feeling and confidence of a complete work, completely conceived – much like a Mozart symphony.  It is a dance (again using Strom’s original music) which is described by Malashock as follows:  “….each dancer creates his/her own culture.  These fantastical “tribes” connect, collide, and ultimately share in a blending of the eternal spirit.”

It is always fascinating to see what Malashock does with the music; forming groups and then breaking them apart.  Each twosome or threesome dances to the same music at the same time, but completely differently – bringing to view other aspects of the music.  And each is valid and “true.”  I find myself saying “yes, that is how the music looks.”  He also never falls overly in love with his own invention – it is given, enjoyed and then he moves on, confident in his next vision.  The flow is natural, never contrived, and though one knows of the reality of the endless rehearsal which must have taken place, the movement is fresh, natural and seemingly – what a painter would call – a “happy accident.”

The dance flows from shape to shape, pausing for just a moment to allow the eye to capture it, but still keeping the seams between phrases invisible.  The entire body is used; hands and heads as important as legs and arms as important as spines and breath.  There were a couple of times, when the choreography allowed, I would have enjoyed seeing some eye contact betwixt the dancer and the observer – a living connection; “I am also dancing for you.” 

Dance critic Orysiek is based in San Diego.  She may be contacted at

US lawmakers press Eastern European countries over Holocaust restitution

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Leading US lawmakers have called on Eastern European nations to advance Holocaust-era property reclamation processes. The call comes a year after the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, which declared that “every effort be made to rectify the consequences of wrongful property seizures, such as confiscations, forced sales and sales under duress of property, which were part of the persecution of (victims of the Holocaust), the vast majority of whom died heirless.”

The Helsinki Commission, the congressional branch of a multinational grouping of parliamentary human rights groups, heard testimony Tuesday from Stuart Eizenstat, the special adviser to the U.S. secretary of state on Holocaust issues. “Implementation remains very uneven,” Eizenstat said of the post-communist nations. Western European nations had for the most part resolved such issues by the time the Iron Curtain collapsed.

“Corruption, processing delays, difficulty in obtaining basic documentation and inconsistent information about the application process have marred property restitution in too many countries,” he said. “In some instances, basic legislation is still lacking. No country has been exemplary in this field, and many have been quite the opposite.”

Eizenstat singled out Poland, Romania and Lithuania as nations “where we are awaiting long overdue improvements.” Commission members pressed the faltering nations to accelerate the claims process. “Every major political party in Poland has supported draft legislation on property compensation, and I hope that the prime minister will be able to carry through on his stated commitment to see a general property law adopted,” said commission chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “In Lithuania, the 1995 property law is needlessly restrictive. I hope the government will fulfill its promises to revisit that law and ensure that communal properties, including schools and places of worship, are returned to their proper owners. Making amends for such crimes and atrocities cannot and should not drag out for yet another generation.”

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Cardin’s co-chairman, called on the nations to retreat from applying standard inheritance laws on such exceptional cases. “There is something terribly perverse about applying the normal rules of inheritance to the extraordinary and tragic circumstances created by the Holocaust,” he said. “It is just wrong that a government can prevent a man from retrieving his own uncle’s artwork because a law says that uncle has no direct heirs. When whole families were murdered in the Holocaust, I would think such an exception should be made a part of the law.”


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

ADL lauds walkout on Ahmadinejad’s nuclear speech at U.N. conference

May 3, 2010 Leave a comment
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday praised the countries whose delegates walked out on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at a United Nations conference after he accused the U.S., Israel and an unspecified European country of threatening Iran with nuclear weapons.
The Iranian president was delivering remarks to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:
While there may be legal and diplomatic obligations to grant Ahmadinejad the UN podium, there is also a moral obligation to condemn his words, his actions and what he stands for. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, denies there are homosexuals in Iran, and denies the existence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To this list of lies he added another – that the U.S. and Israel pose a nuclear threat to Iran, when in fact the opposite is true.
“We appreciate the gesture made by those states that walked out, for it sends a strong personal message to Ahmadinejad that his rants do not deserve the respect of an audience. We also appreciate UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s preemptive and public declaration that ‘the onus is on Iran’ to resolve this crisis.
“Ahmadinejad’s presence at the NPT conference is a perfect opportunity for the international community to send him the message that he needs to hear: If Iran doesn’t shut down its nuclear weapons program, there will be severe consequences.”
Representatives from the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom left the room as Ahmadinejad opened his remarks. Canada reportedly boycotted the speech from the outset.

Preceding provided by the Anti-Defamation League


The Jews Down Under… Roundup of Australian Jewish News

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment


Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

The Zentai saga rolls on

PERTH 13 April – The Federal Court in Western Australia will next month begin hearing an appeal from Perth man Charles Zentai against his
extradition to Hungary to face war crimes charges.

The court has postponed the start of a judicial review into the case to April 27; it was supposed to begin last month. A review favourable to
Zentai is widely seen as his final opportunity to avoid extradition.

Earlier this month, lawyers representing Zentai and Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor met inFederal Court over the defendant’s right to see a full version of the documents used by O’Connor in reaching his decision to green-light the extradition.

Zentai is accused of playing a role in the murder of Peter Balazs, a young Budapest Jew who was beaten to death in November 1944.

Zentai, who was arrested in 2005 on a Hungarian warrant, denies the charges.
Remembering Six Million

MELBOURNE, 12 April – Commemorations for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust remembrance day, were held around Australia on Sunday, April 11 and Monday, April 12.

In Melbourne, survivors from the “Buchenwald boys” lit memorial candles at a memorial at
Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall.

Sydney’s Jewish community hosted a number of functions, including a name reading ceremony at
the Sydney Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst. More than 300 people, including consul generals from
Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Britain, Croatia and Romania, joined school
children, many of them from non-Jewish schools, at Sunday’s moving commemoration.

Moriah College hosted a Yom Hashoah event, with a keynote speech from Israel Embassy deputy Eli Yerushalmi, while Masada College had scheduled its own commemoration for Monday night.

Yom Hashoah memorials were also held in Perth, where Associate Professor Mark Baker was keynotespeaker, and in Canberra, where diplomats,politicians and representatives of various faiths
came together to remember the Holocaust.

Goodby to politics but not Jewish Community

SYDNEY, 12 April – After years of involvement, Malcolm Turnbull said his resignation as
Wentworth MP will not see him cut ties with the Jewish community.

Speaking the day after announcing he would not contest the next election, the former Liberal
leader called the local Jewish community “the heart and soul” of his electorate.

“I don’t intend to stop my association with the Jewish community just because I am out of
Parliament. I’ve loved my involvement at so many communal events and just having so many friends in the Jewish community.”

Using the new social medium Twitter, Turnbull announced on Tuesday he would not recontest the
inner-eastern Sydney seat come the next election.

The decision was made, he said, following his loss of the Liberal Party leadership to Tony
Abbott by one vote in December last year. The catalyst for that vote was the emissions trading
Bill, which Turnbull continues to strongly support, but which much of the Coalition opposes.

But he never had trouble keeping the Jewish community on his side ­ even those who weren’t
Liberal voters held Turnbull in high esteem because of his commitment to the community.

It was Chanukah parties that Turnbull highlighted as some of the best memories during his time in
office. “I really enjoyed Chanukah celebrations, whether it was the event at Double Bay that Yanky
Berger does, or the Russian ceremony,” he said, adding he once gave a memorised speech in
Russian, which “amused some of the older attendees”.

One organisation that Turnbull has had a strong involvement with for the past three years is
Sydney’s Montefiore Home, where he is the ambassador.

This week, Montefiore vice-president Gary Inberg said he hoped Turnbull’s role as the home’s
“ambassador, supporter and friend” would continue. “Our residents are always delighted to
see Malcolm and we have enjoyed hosting him at the home on numerous occasions. It is a pleasure
and an honour to be associated with him,” Inberg said.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot also paid tribute to the politician.

“We regret, but understand, Mr Turnbull’s decision. He was a most effective advocate for a
variety of matters of concern for the Jewish community,” Goot said.

In terms of a successor, the Liberal Party has opened nominations for a new candidate to contest
the increasingly marginal seat.

A number of Jewish names have been suggested ­ including party bigwigs Richard Shields and
Julian Leeser, as well as former Turnbull staffer Anthony Orkin and current local councillor
Anthony Boskovitz. The vote is expected to be held within a month.

Turnbull weighed in on the speculation of his successor, but in a non-partisan way.

“People often assume, in a somewhat patronising way, that the Jewish community will always vote
for a Jewish candidate. I think there are a lot of people in the Jewish community who would make
great candidates for Parliament, but ultimately it is the quality of the candidate that matters,” he said

Push for closer diplomatic ties

CANBERRA, 13 April – Ronen Plot, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and
Diaspora Affairs, was in Australia this week in what is seen as part of a larger effort to
cultivate a better relationship between the local community and the Jewish State.

The director-general, who also spent time liaising with Jewish community leaders in Hong
Kong and New Zealand as part of his regional sweep, said that his trip had a dual purpose: as
a fact-finding mission to learn more about Diaspora communities and develop a working
relationship with their leadership, while also looking for opportunities for new collaborative
projects in education and other spheres.

Speaking in Hebrew, Plot said that his visit was considered essential in order to carry out the mission of his department.

“You can’t have a situation where you have an office of Diaspora affairs and run it exclusively
from Israel,” Plot said. “It’s extremely important to meet and get to know people in the
Diaspora communities themselves.”

Dr Ron Weiser, past president of the Zionist Federation of Australia and current committee
member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, was one of the many communal officials
who met with Plot during his Pesach visit.

Dr Weiser said that Plot’s visit represents the beginning of a long-term process to change the
relationship between Jerusalem and the Diaspora. He recalled the words of former prime minister Ehud Olmert in a speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. “[Olmert] said, for the past
60 years, Israel has been the project of the Jewish people. For the next 60 years, the Jewish
people will need to be the joint project of Israel and Jewish communities around the world.”

The current visit is the latest step in that process, Dr Weiser said.Plot dismissed speculation that his trip had any connection to recent allegations that Israel had forged Australian passports.

His visit, he said, was planned well in advance of the scandal and had very clear objectives far
removed from such controversies.

Plot added that, at any rate, there has been no proven link between Israel and the forgeries.

In related news, Plot could not confirm the accuracy of a report in The Jerusalem Post last
Thursday that PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s former bureau chief Ari Harow may accept the position of
deputy director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

Passport report in, but no action to date

CANBERRA, 15  April – Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has said he will not rush his response to
an Australian Federal Police (AFP) report into the alleged misuse of four Australian passports
in the assassination of Hamas terror chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh .

The AFP investigation, which saw three officers travel to Israel, was completed recently, with
Smith receiving the findings last Friday. The Foreign Minister said he had looked at the
report, but was not ready to make any decisions.

“I haven’t yet had the opportunity of very carefully considering that, but it’s clear from a
preliminary assessment of that report that I need to get further advice and see further work and
have further discussion with other agencies,” he told Channel Nine.

He said he would be discussing the report with Australia’s two premier security agencies ­ the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service ­ before making any decisions.

“When that work has been done, and I’ve had the chance to fully consider, not just the AFP
report, but also that further work and advice from other agencies, then I’ll make the detail of
the government’s deliberations about this matter public.”

Responding to whether the Australian investigation was taking too long, Smith said he
wanted to be sure of the facts.

“I need further work done by our intelligence agencies and I’m going to get this right rather
than rush it in any way. It’s a very important issue. It has very significant ramifications for
use of passports and our relationships with a number of countries, and I’m not proposing to be
rushed. I want the exhaustive work to be done carefully and properly.”

The investigation was launched in late February after forged passports in the names of
Australian-born Israelis were discovered by Dubai police. Fingers were pointed at Israel’s Mossad
secret service, with Smith calling Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem to Parliament
for an explanation and asking for his cooperation.

Last month, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat after completing its own investigation into
forged passports in the names of British-born Israelis

Rabbis reach out to youth

MELBOURNE, 15 April – Local Orthodox rabbis are this week launching a range of programs in a bid
to relate better to younger Jews and to become more professional.

Tonight (Thursday), the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) will unveil a number of projects
at a gala reception in the presence of Victorian Government ministers, community dignitaries and young people.

Speaking in the lead-up to the event, RCV president Rabbi Yaakov Glasman said the rabbis
are hoping to offer their expertise to the community in different ways.

“The RCV hopes to work in collaboration with other communal organisations and believes the
Victorian rabbinate has a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer the Jewish, and indeed, wider community,” the North Eastern Jewish Centre rabbi said.

One way it hopes to do this is through the “Mashpia” or mentoring program, which will link rabbis with young Jews.

“The purpose of this initiative is to encourage young Jewish adults, particularly in their latter
formative teenage years, to feel comfortable thinking and speaking about matters relating to
spirituality and religion, which some may feel naturally inhibited to do because of societal norms and expectations,” he said.

Those older than school age will also be catered for, with Rabbi Glasman hinting at a program that
will help young adults entering the workforce find a place in their busy lives for religion.

Some of the community’s most prominent businessmen are being engaged to assist.

The other area the RCV is pushing into is professional development. “We want to be
professional, we don’t want rabbis to deal with crises en route,” the president said.

These initiatives are currently being sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, but
Rabbi Glasman said the community will also be called upon to assist.

“We want communal donors to recognise that investing in the rabbinate is worthwhile.”

Limmud Oz back for another year

MELBOURNE, 15 April – Planning for Limmud Oz, the festival of Jewish learning and culture, is
currently underway, with the conference returning to Melbourne for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.

Held annually ­ this year over three days ­ Limmud Oz gives participants an opportunity to
engage with and learn topics of Jewish interest.

“It will take you another step further in your Jewish journey,” Limmud Oz committee member
Sylvia Urbach said. “It will have some appeal to all people regarding any aspect of Jewish life
and Jewish thought ever considered.”

A host of international presenters are already on board, including executive director of the Israel
Religious Action Centre and Women of the Wall participant Anat Hoffman, Israeli professor of
political studies Efraim Inbar and Dr Aaron Rosen, a research fellow in Jewish history and culture at Oxford University.

Diverse local speakers will also feature on a broad range of topics ­ including Adam Goodvach’s
analysis of Australia’s closest neighbour Indonesia, Victor Majzner talking about art and a
discussion with Lionel Sharpe, one of the community’s foremost genealogists.

“There is a wide array of Jewish topics and speakers from religious to secular in every way,
shape or form,” Urbach said. “What’s important is that it is non-denominational and inclusive, with
subjects and speakers relevant to all Jews.”

Artistic memlories of a bleak place
Detail from the Jewish Museum of Australia’s newest exhibition.

Detail from the Jewish Museum of Australia’s
newest exhibition. Photo: Peter Haskin

MELBOURNE’– Jewish Museum of Australia launched its latest exhibition, titled Theresienstadt:
Drawn From the Inside, last week in the presence of MPs including Victorian Arts Minister Peter Batchelor.

More than 20 years ago, Holocaust survivor Regina Schwarz donated a battered suitcase containing 142 watercolours and drawings created in the Nazi concentration camp at Theresienstadt by her husband Paul and fellow artist Leo Lowit.

The rare collection of artworks was exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Australia in 1990, but has
remained in the museum archives since then.

A year ago curator Mera Brooks started sorting through the collection to select 90 works for the museum’s latest exhibition.

Paul and Regina Schwarz and Leo and Jindriska Lowit arrived in Theresienstadt in December 1941,
among 6000 Jews who arrived at the camp by rail transport from Prague that month. Paul, Leo and Jindriska were killed in Auschwitz in October 1944. Regina survived Auschwitz and settled in
Melbourne after World War II where she died in 1987.

The Theresienstadt: Drawn From the Inside exhibition is at the Jewish Museum of Australia
from April 11 until March 13, 2011.
Nonagenarian still an active athlete
MELBOURNE, 19 April–90 years young and still as active as ever – Simon Shinberg, you are an inspiration! When ‘Friend of Maccabi’, Simon Shinberg called the office this week to RSVP to the upcoming Friends of Maccabi Luncheon, he told me that he was very much looking forward to hearing motivational Special Guest Speaker, Brian Rabinowitz, as Brian was Simon’s Spinning
instructor! I had to find out more…..

Simon Shinberg not only takes 45 minute Spinning classes 4 days a week, he also does a couple of
hours of gym 4 times a week too!

Simon has been involved in sport for as long as he can remember. He was a member of the first
AJAX Athletics Club, focussing on sprints, high jump and shotput. He represented Victoria at both
the 1937/38 Carnival in Melbourne and the 1938/39 Carnival in Sydney, where he won the High
Jump.  He also played soccer for Hakoah when he was 18 years old.

During the many years of running his successful clothing manufacturing business, Simon went for a
run at 6am every morning, keeping him energised for the remainder of the day.

And Simon has no plans to slow down now, saying that keeping active and his wonderful friends
both from Maccabi & other walks of life is what keeps him going each day. Simon Shinberg, you are an inspiration!

Agitating for change at Yeshivah

MELBOURNE, 19 April –  Yeshivah Centre members in Melbourne have called for more democracy in the 52-year-old organisation after accusations the facility’s dayan, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner, censored their newsletter.

The Pesach edition of the publication included three articles discussing the value of removing
or retaining the controversial “Yechi” sign on the wall of the main shul. But by the end of
Pesach, the two pieces calling for a vote on its presence had been deleted from electronic and paper copies. When asked for confirmation, Rabbi Telsner said he knew “nothing about it”.

However, in a letter to Rabbi Telsner, congregant David Werdiger claims that during a discussion
they had had, the dayan admitted that he had instructed their removal.

Werdiger said he objected to the censorship and would, after 40 years, stop praying at the main
Yeshivah shul. “It is sad and ironic that this has happened in our community, many of whose
founders lived under an oppressive regime in Soviet Russia where there was a standard method
for dealing with dissent,” Werdiger said.

The sign, according to an article by YeshivahGedolah head Rabbi Binyomin Cohen, implies that
the late Lubavitcher Rebbe is the messiah and that he never really passed away.

Despite the sign being up for some years, its presence came to the fore in January when Rabbi
Telsner excised a small group of people – the “Moshiach Men” – from the community.

A number of Yeshivah members called for the sign to be removed, claiming it was divisive and
promoted disharmony. Despite securing more than 100 signatures, Rabbi Telsner and the va’ad
ruchni, or committee, ignored the request.

Articles in the recent newsletter continued the debate about the Yechi sign. In the piece that
was retained, Rabbi Cohen argued in favour of leaving the sign because that is what the late
Yeshivah director, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, wanted.

“There should be enough room for all of us, and no-one should feel that his emunah [faith] is
going to be somehow compromised by davvening [praying] together with another Jew who sees
things very differently,” Rabbi Cohen wrote.

Another congregant and one of the organisers of the petition, Yudi New, argued in the original
newsletter that the shul was alienating members of the Jewish community, against its own
philosophy. He called the sign a “slogan” and said there was no room for slogans in a place of
worship, adding its benefits had not been made clear.

On a more general note, New implored the centre’s leadership to welcome mature debate among
members. “Whatever course the leadership and community charters, we must concede that Yeshivah has become a shell of its former self.”

Another member, Pinchas Henenberg, also had his say before the newsletter was censored. “The
issue is not going to go away by itself – responding ‘no comment’ to the public and
instructing mispallelim [congregants] to ‘listen to your leaders and put aside your own thoughts
and concerns’ simply exacerbates the issue,” he wrote, before calling for a public members vote.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

A short overview of Holocaust commemorations

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–The Holocaust leads all other tragedies in the extent of its commemoration. Numerous countries have an annual observance on January 27th, the anniversary of the day in 1945 when the Soviet Army liberated the largest Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Some of them also commemorate Israel’s observance in the Spring. It comes a week before the Memorial Day for soldiers and civilian victims of terror, and then Independence Day, i.e., a week to mark disaster and salvation.

The Holocaust has not entered Israel’s collective memory easily, or uniformly. For many years is was a subject to avoid. Individuals were ashamed of those  led quietly to slaughter, and a people so despised as to have no one to help them. Children born to survivors found their parents unwilling to speak about it. The State of Israel created a Memorial Day and established Yad Vashem, and included in the formal observance a reminder of rebels who resisted the Nazis. Nevertheless, the emphasis continues to be on overwhelming power. Those who opposed deserved heroic stature, but they did not accomplish much.

The figure of six million is an estimate, reflecting other estimates of Jewish populations before and after the Nazi conquests. The figure has entered into ritualistic expressions about the Holocaust, although some researchers cite other numbers that they have calculated.

The Holocaust is not the only case of mass slaughter or attempted genocide in history, but it stands above all others in the extent to which it is commemorated in national memorials and museums, and incorporated into school lessons.

Jews in Israel and elsewhere emphasize their own views of what they think is important to remember.

For some, the Holocaust is a story of Jews who aided the Nazis. They included individuals who served as police in the ghettos, helping the Nazis control or round up Jews for killing, and those who cleaned the gas chambers and crematoria. Israelis continue to debate whether such individuals had any choice, and cite the fate of most collaborators: killed when they could no longer serve.

One of Israel’s few instances of political murder was that of Israel Kastner, a Hungarian who negotiated with Adolph Eichmann for a train load of Jews sent from Budapest to Switzerland. For some he was lionized, but for others he was a scoundrel who favored relatives for places on the train. He was shot on a Tel Aviv street in 1957.

One of my neighbors cannot hear the name of Franklin Roosevelt without comparing him to Hitler for his failure to save the Jews of Europe.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who have yet to recognize the legitimacy of Israel tend not to honor the Memorial Day that the State has declared. While other Jews stand quietly when the sirens sound in mid-morning, they may continue to walk. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis have a biblical explanation for their people’s suffering: God’s punishment for sin. In this case, the sin was the apostasy of Reform Judaism, which developed in Germany during the 19th century.
The media begins to report on Holocaust stories several days before the annual commemoration. There may remain several hundred thousand survivors still living in Israel, and the coverage emphasizes their memories. But now there is substantial attention to what their children remember about growing up in a family marked by tragedy, school groups visiting the death camps, the failure of Israeli programs to care for the needs of aged survivors, or to return resources to those with claims. This year the principal program on public television, immediately after the telecast of the national ceremony at Yad Vashem, featured a conversation between Shlomo Artzi, one of the country’s most popular singers, and Yair Lapid, one of its most prominent newscasters. They spoke about their fathers, both successful politicians, who survived the Nazi regimes in Romania and Hungary, respectively.
For several years now, the Knesset’s session on Holocaust Memorial Day has been devoted to “For everyone there is a name,” with Members reading from the list of individuals who perished. This year Shimon Peres read the names of his relatives burned alive while seeking refuge in a synagogue.

Leftist Jews and others accuse Israel of imposing a Holocaust on the Palestinians, or using the Holocaust as an excuse for occupation and other persecutions.

The Holocaust may be a drawing card for traveling Israeli politicians, but it generally does not figure in policy discussions. More important are simpler concerns to defend against the violence of Palestinians and other Arabs, and frustration at their repeated rejections of what most Israelis perceive to be decent offers.
In recent years, however, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has elicited parallels with Hitler’s intentions as expressed in Mein Kampf for his denial of the Holocaust, obsession with nuclear power, and predictions of Israel’s destruction.  The costs of attacking Iran are well known, but officials and others have also spoken about the costs of not dealing with Ahmadinejad’s threat.

It has become conventional to ridicule the bombast, waffling, and delays associated with Barack Obama’s assertions that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, as well as his ritualized commitments to Israel’s defense. This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day has been an occasion for returning to these themes, as well as remembering, and politicians’ promise of “Never again.”

We’ll see.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University