JWeekly

  • Gaza is a tragedy, and everyone must share some blame
    Anyone who has ever been in the Gaza Strip knows how miserable it is there. With nearly 2 million people crowded into 141 square miles, hungry, poor and wretched, governed by a terrorist organization and hemmed in by blockades on all sides, Gaza is a hellhole. No wonder its population is angry. They have every right to protest. But what has been happening at the border with Israel in the past weeks is not a peaceful demonstration against these deplorable conditions. It’s a war, with the stated intention of bringing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to the border fence in order to break through and enter Israel to, in the words of organizers, take back their ancestral land. Breaching another nation’s borders in order to occupy its territory is an act of war. And the threatened nation’s military has the right — indeed, the duty — to defend its sovereignty and its people. Add to that the reports that protesters were being urged to kill Jews, with videos circulating that showed young Palestinian men shouting their murderous intent as they approached the border, and the war takes on an even more sinister character. Defending Israel’s territorial integrity is a solemn ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-17
  • California Senate and Assembly pass resolutions honoring Israel at 70
    Both chambers of the California State Legislature this week unanimously passed resolutions honoring the State of Israel on the 70th anniversary of its founding. On May 14, the State Senate passed SR 109 with a vote of 37-0. The resolution, which “commends and congratulates the people of Israel for their remarkable achievements,” salutes Israel’s “advanced, entrepreneurial economy” and acknowledges the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding between California and Israel, which has spurred technological and environmental cooperation between the two nations. In comments on the floor, San Francisco’s Sen. Scott Wiener said, “The State of Israel is not just another country. For my community it is a place where as Jews we are always welcome, we can always go for safety and refuge.” Said Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel, “The establishment of [Israel] provided refuge for people seeking persecution, a beacon of hope and life and respect for life and human rights.” Senators noted that the resolution passed the same day as violence broke out at the Gaza-Israel border, which resulted in dozens of Palestinian deaths and multiple injuries. “Today I’m pained and troubled to see the continued conflict in the region,” Monning added. “It’s incumbent upon all of us in ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-16
  • Robocall refers to Sen. Feinstein as ‘traitorous’ Jew
    A robocall against California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein used anti-Semitic slurs and urged listeners to support the Senate campaign of her neo-Nazi challenger. The 90-second call refers to Feinstein as a “traitorous” Jew and “an Israeli citizen pretending to be an American.” Patrick Little, who is running as a Republican, is polling at 18 percent behind Feinstein, a Democrat who has served more than four terms in the Senate. Feinstein is polling at 39 percent in the race, which will pit the top two vote getters in the June 5 primary against each other in the general election in November. Mainstream Republicans have not put up a serious challenge in what is considered a safe seat for a Democrat. Patrick Little“To rid America of the traitorous Jews like Dianne Feinstein, vote for Patrick Little for U.S. Senator for California,” the call said. “He’s a patriot, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and he’s vowed to end Jewish control over America, starting with Dianne Feinstein, an Israeli citizen pretending to be an American while she takes our money for her real country, Israel, and kills our children for it, too.” The call also says: “He’s going to get rid of ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-16
  • This artist says #MeToo with talking butt sculptures
    Allison Bouganim, 19, is an award-winning artist who caught the public’s eye in fall 2017 with her installation of butt sculptures around San Francisco. She has shaped her own education, starting a jewelry business at 15 and a nonprofit at 17 to support homeless women and children. She started the butt sculpture project in Miami, where she grew up, and hopes to bring it to other cities. J.: Your art installation caused a stir in San Francisco last fall. Can you describe it for our readers? Allison Bouganim: “Wax That Ass” is an interactive sculpture series made from molds of actual women’s butts. It’s meant to be satirical and super in-your-face. The sculptures are made from plaster and wax, and there are six interactive buttons on each one. When you press a button, a phrase comes out. The phrases are recorded from the woman that I molded, and every phrase is a part of her story that she’s shared with you about her experience with harassment or rape. This not only helps these women share their stories, but ensures that their stories are heard in a way that can’t be ignored. Allison BouganimThese aren’t really installations because you are often ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-16
  • Friends all over the pro/anti-Israel spectrum, we need to talk about May 14
    First, to whom am I speaking? To my J Street colleagues, friends in JVP, acquaintances at StandWithUs, friends in AIPAC and to those who are not formally part of any one of these groups. Second, with what do I speak? With my head and my heart. To my J Street colleagues: As dysfunctional for Israeli-Palestinian peace as we may deem the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, we must continue to advocate in Congress to support legislation that will sustain the vision and possibility for a negotiated agreement for two states — that is, for an agreement that both Israelis and Palestinians deem just and viable. To my friends at JVP: Indeed, the murder of Palestinians on the Gaza border is beyond egregious. The violent response of the IDF is dysfunctional for Israeli security and tragic for Palestinians, for those who have died, for their families and for the Palestinian nation as a whole, conflicted from within as it is. To acquaintances in StandWithUs: I hope you can for a moment be open to the Palestinian experience of frustration, despair and anger as they have negligible access to the basic necessities for normal daily life, limited (or no) access ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-15
  • Embassy move to Jerusalem rights a longstanding wrong
    May 14 loomed large in 1948. It was the date the modern State of Israel was born. It was a time of ecstasy. Nearly 19 centuries had passed since the last chance for Jewish sovereignty was destroyed, but the prayers for a return to the ancestral land — and to Jerusalem, the heartbeat of the Jewish people — had never stopped through all the years of wandering, exile and persecution. Fast-forward 70 years to May 14, 2018. This day will be remembered, above all, for another celebration — the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to its rightful place in Jerusalem. I have been in Israel’s capital city this week to join in the festivities and express appreciation, on behalf of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee, to the Trump administration for its bold decision. It shouldn’t have had to be so bold. Every country ought to have the right to choose its own capital. But that basic political rule applies to each nation on Earth, save one. Think about it. The other 192 U.N. member states pick the site for their capital and it’s no one else’s business. But Israel, and Israel alone, has found itself in the ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-15
  • Han Solo is a Jew, Michelle Wolf is not
    On the big screen “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which will open widely at many theaters on May 25, is described as a “space Western.” The film covers Han Solo’s early days as a smuggler and his friendship with Chewbacca, a Wookiee. We also find out how he met Lando Calrissian. Alden Ehrenreich, 28, plays Solo, with Donald Glover playing Calrissian. Ehrenreich, who was discovered at a bar mitzvah reception by Steven Spielberg, 71, told Collider.com that the young Solo “was more of an idealist” than the one in the original films. He also added that he consulted with the “original Solo,” Harrison Ford, 75, about how to play the role. Ford’s late mother was Jewish. The script is by Lawrence Kasdan, 69, and his son, Jonathan Kasdan, 38. The elder Kasdan previously co-wrote two of the best “Star Wars” films: “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “The Force Awakens” (2015). The younger Kasdan has a small role in “Solo” as Tag and Jon Favreau, 51, provides the voice of Rio Durant (whom PR people for the film are describing as a very cool and important alien character). “Book Club” is a comedy focusing ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-15
  • Gaza protests delayed as funerals take place for at least 58 dead
    Palestinians delayed protesting at the Gaza border fence on Tuesday afternoon as funerals for the at least 58 victims of the previous date’s violence took place. Of the dead in Monday’s violent demonstrations, one is reported to be a baby who died of inhaling tear gas. At least five of the dead were minors. Some 1,360 Palestinians were wounded by gunfire, including 130 who were in serious or critical condition, the Gaza Health Ministry told Israeli media. Palestinian sources told Israeli media that at least 13 of the dead were Hamas operatives, while Israel said that 24 were affiliated with Hamas. Some 50,000 Palestinians protested at the border on Monday. The Hamas terrorist organization, which runs the Gaza Strip, today closed protest tents near the Gaza border and called on civilians to not protest, Haaretz reported. Protests could still take place later in the day, following the funerals, according to reports. Israeli troops are prepared for more violent protests, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. “We have prepared for this in the last three weeks,” said Lt. Col. Motti Sahar, logistics officer of the Gaza Division, in a statement. Tuesday’s delayed demonstrations could grow since May 15 is the ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-15
  • Israel memories inspire Moth-style storytelling event at Marin JCC
    “Are you an American Jew, or a Jewish American?” The teacher’s question, posed to Marty Friedman 33 years ago on a teen trip to Israel, totally threw him. He could not answer. But ultimately, it was one of two “gifts” he received during the tour, he told a crowd at the Osher Marin JCC on May 11. “I was a good processor [of information], not a good thinker,” he realized. Friedman, president of the Brandeis Marin board of directors and past board president of the Marin JCC, was one of seven speakers at “70 Years: Telling Our Israel Stories.” The event, modeled after “The Moth” radio show and podcast and attended by over 100 people, capped an evening of Shabbat services and dinner at the San Rafael campus of the JCC, Congregation Rodef Sholom and Brandeis Marin day school. Tiburon’s Congregation Kol Shofar also joined the community celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut. Storytellers were selected in advance and each had five minutes for their spiel. Organizers were looking to present “as broad a perspective as possible” on Israel, said Heidi Sanders, director of the JCC’s Center for Jewish Peoplehood. Rodef Sholom Rabbi Lara Regev nostalgically recalled the summer of 2009, when ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-14
  • US dedicates embassy in Jerusalem as violence rages on Gaza border
    The United States dedicated its new embassy today in Jerusalem, reversing decades of American policy as tensions flared on Israel’s Gaza border. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin during the Monday afternoon ceremony pronounced Shehechyanu, a prayer said when one is thankful for a new or unusual experience. “Today we officially open the United States embassy in Jerusalem. Congratulations, it’s been a long time coming,” President Donald Trump said in a video greeting. He added: “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other nation to determine its own capital.” “Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem,” Trump said. He added that it is opening “many, many years ahead of schedule.” Tens of thousands of Gazan Palestinians massed on the border with Israel, sparking reaction from Israeli soldiers posted there. At least 41 Palestinians were killed on Monday and hundreds injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Thousands of Palestinians also marched in protest in the West Bank. A large stage with an American flag motif was erected in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, where the existing U.S. consular headquarters will take on many of the Embassy functions. ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-14
  • Get your fill of all-night cheesecake and Torah at these Shavuot events
    Shavuot is for celebrating both the grain harvest of the late spring and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, the Israelites are believed to have overslept for the latter event, so it’s on us to compensate by studying Torah all night. This year the fun begins the evening of May 19, which works out well for the 9-to-5 crowd since that’s a Saturday. It’s also traditional to commemorate Shavuot feasting on dairy products, so if you like staying up all night and eating ice cream, this might just be your favorite holiday. Here are a few of the public Shavuot events around the Bay Area this year. All events are free and take place on May 19, unless noted. East Bay Congregation Beth El will host a dinner and service led by this year’s b’nai mitzvah students, with presentations by high schoolers speaking about “What I Believe.” After the 6 p.m. dinner and 7 p.m. service, attendees are invited to join the JCC East Bay all-night study event. At Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. The JCC East Bay will be hosting its 30th annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an all-night Torah study beginning at 6 p.m. and ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-14
  • Cantor Barry tales: After 51 years, Reich says goodbye
    One place Barry Reich didn’t expect to end up parking himself for a half-century was at a Reform synagogue. “I thought I was going to be a music teacher,” he admitted. But Reich, the scion of a long line of cantors, and a former Orthodox yeshiva student, has just retired after 51 years at Burlingame’s Peninsula Temple Sholom, where he combined his love of the powerful music of Jewish tradition with a true openness and joy of spirit. “He deeply loves the Jewish people, he deeply loves serving the Jewish people, it’s in his soul,” PTS’ Rabbi Dan Feder said. “It is so much more than his role, his profession; it is an expression of his self.” Cantor Barry Reich, the biker cantorReich, 71, has the kind of background most cantors could only dream of. He represents the fifth generation of cantors in his family, raised in L.A.’s old Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Reich was a yeshiva kid until his father, Israel Reich, switched to the Conservative movement. The family moved around for a few years, and Barry Reich got his cantorial start as a child singing in overflow services at his father’s synagogue in Miami. But by senior ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-11
  • The liberty to acquire possesions is not liberty at all
    Behar-Bechukotai Leviticus 25:1–27:34 Jeremiah 16:19–17:14 When the Founding Fathers proclaimed “liberty throughout all the land” and imprinted that pledge on the Liberty Bell, they were inspired directly by Parashat Behar. The Israelites are commanded to declare every seventh year a shmita, a sabbatical of complete rest for the land. More dramatically, every 50th year was to be a yovel, a jubilee year, when the land not only rested but was returned to its ancestral holders, along with indentured servants, who were likewise restored to their families in a great display of “liberty and justice for all.” Why? “The land is Mine,” said God. “For you are but sojourners and residents with Me” (Lev. 25:27). This profound reminder that we are but transient visitors on God’s created Earth seems self-evident, yet how often we forget this stunning truth. We strive for permanence in a world of fleeting shadows, knowing deep within that the illusion of “owning” anything — objects, houses, land, even people we love whom we claim as “ours” — is just that, an illusion. But who could blame us? We yearn to make a lasting impression, to claim “this is mine. I am here.” In the process, we often hold ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-11
  • Senate candidate Patrick Little hates the Jews. Here’s why that matters.
    Patrick Little is more than an hour into an anti-Jewish tirade that doubles as the centerpiece of his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein when he issues a blunt warning. “The longer the Jews try to hold onto power in a country where the public’s waking up to them … the harsher the reprisal is,” the Albany resident and former U.S. Marine told J. this week. “It’s Jewish behavior that gets people angry at Jews. What you call anti-Semitism is caused by Jewish behavior.” Little, 33, calls himself a White Nationalist. He rejects the labels of White Supremacist and neo-Nazi, saying the latter would just play right into the hands of the Jewish media. During the interview, he rattles off some familiar anti-Semitic tropes: that the Holocaust is a hoax, that Israel played a major role in the 9/11 terrorist bombings, that Jews controlled the African slave trade before the Civil War, that “Jews kill Christians —they do it a lot historically.” He adds a few more contemporary charges, such as that President Donald Trump is being held hostage by Jews and that media organizations including Fox News are mouthpieces for Israel. He says one of his major goals ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-10
  • Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria kill 23, watchdog group says
    An Israeli airstrike on Iranian military installations in Syria left 23 people dead, according to a watchdog group. Five of those killed are reported to be Syrian soldiers, and the other 18 from forces allied with it, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has closely followed Syria’s civil war. It is not known if any of the foreign nationals killed were Iranian. The Syrian military denied the watchdog’s report, saying that three were killed and two wounded in the Israeli airstrikes. The airstrikes were in response to a barrage of missiles fired at Israel late on Wednesday night, which Israel blames on the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran has denied firing the missiles. Four of them were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, and the rest landed in Syrian territory. In uncharacteristic fashion, Israel took responsibility for the airstrikes, some 50 attacks against Iranian targets, including intelligence centers, weapons depots, storage facilities, observation posts and logistics centers in Syria, as well as the rocket launcher that carried out the missile attacks. “We hit almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said today at the Herzliya Conference, a ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-05-10