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"555 Days of Prayer to Save America" Says End of 2013 Brings...

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 22:59

Planning now accelerates for the September 11, 2014 "Great Wave Offering," scheduled to conclude "555 Days of Prayer to Save America" "Save America Gathering" and One...

(PRWeb December 29, 2013)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11451610.htm

Pete Seeger Gave Folk Music Life — and So Much More

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 16:35

Pete Seeger gave new life to folk music in this country. And he gave us our heritage, which might well have languished without his dogged energy and endless talent, Leonard Fein writes.

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ADL's Foxman Calls Pollard Incarceration 'On the Verge of Anti-Semitism'

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 14:52

The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, criticized the continued imprisonment of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, calling it “on the verge of anti-Semitism.”

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ADL’s Foxman: Pollard incarceration verges on anti-Semitism

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 13:11

(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, criticized the continued imprisonment of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, calling it “on the verge of anti-Semitism.”

Foxman was quoted on the Pollard case in several Israeli news outlets on Tuesday, and echoed a statement he issued earlier this month.

Someone is trying to teach the American-Jewish community a loyalty lesson, Foxman asserted in an interview Tuesday with Israel’s Army Radio.

“That to me is on the verge of anti-Semitism,” he said.

In a Jan. 16 statement, Foxman said that when Pollard was sentenced in a plea bargain 28 years ago, many claimed that the sentence was anti-Semitic. An ADL investigation concluded, however, that there was no basis for such an accusation.

Still, Foxman said, the fact that Pollard remains in prison despite having spied for an ally shows that there is an “ongoing vendetta” against him.

Foxman added, “If it were only a vendetta against one individual it would be bad enough. But it has now become one against the American Jewish community.”

The statement was in response to an editorial in Tablet Magazine calling for clemency for Pollard.

Foxman called for Pollard’s parole on humanitarian grounds and said his continued imprisonment was “an effort to intimidate American Jews.”

“And it is an intimidation that can only be based on an anti-Semitic stereotype about the Jewish community,” he said, “one that we have seen confirmed in our public opinion polls over the years, the belief that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, the United States.”

An increasing number of figures involved in government when Pollard was given a 1987 life sentence for spying for Israel now believe his sentence should be commuted and have been calling for clemency.

Pete Seeger's 7 Most Jewish Songs

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 13:00

For secular Jewish children, some of us felt most spiritual listening to Pete Seeger. In honor of his memory, Adam Langer offers the legendary folk singer and activist’s 7 most Jewish songs.

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Nearly half the Israeli parliament marks Holocaust remembrance day at Auschwitz

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 12:59

Fifty-eight Israeli lawmakers marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz, Jan. 27, 2014. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

OSWIECIM, Poland (JTA) — Watching thousands of Poles dance to Klezmer music just 50 miles from the Auschwitz death camp, Johnny Daniels could feel an ambitious plan taking shape.

The experience last year at Krakow’s annual Jewish Culture Festival prompted Daniels, a 28-year-old Israeli and Holocaust educator, to organize the largest-ever Knesset delegation to Auschwitz.

Nearly half the Israeli parliament was in Poland Monday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 69th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. They also conducted a joint session with counterparts from the Polish parliament.

“At the festival, I realized the Holocaust had a huge impact also on Polish society, and I decided to do something connected to how we relate to each other,” said Daniels, the director of From the Depths, a nongovernmental education organization.

At the camp, the Israeli delegation — which comprised 58 Israeli lawmakers, including several ministers — marched to the Birkenau death complex in formation, flanked by the Knesset guard and flying Israeli flags. Amid the snow-filled crematoria, they stopped to sing the Israeli national anthem in the freezing wind before breaking into smaller groups, many of them praying and remembering murdered relatives.

Unlike during previous Israeli events in Auschwitz — including the 2003 flyover by Israel Air Force fighter jets — the visitors heard family stories from Poles like Piotr van der Coghen, whose father, a resistance fighter and medic, treated his Jewish fellow prisoners as an inmate at the Plaszow camp.

Another Polish lawmaker, Ewa Wolak, spoke at the joint inter-parliamentary session in Krakow about a growing awareness among Polish priests and farmers of the need to demarcate the countless mass graves of Jewish Holocaust victims that dot the Polish countryside.

For Poles, the Knesset delegation arrived as Polish interest in the Holocaust and Jewish culture continues to grow, yielding a slew of recent books and movies and the opening of several Jewish museums and culture festivals. Foremost among the new museums is the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, whose core exhibition is due to open later this year in Warsaw. The number of annual visitors to the Auschwitz museum has more than doubled since 1988, from 600,000 to 1.4 million.

There is a “growing recognition of how the Holocaust was an enormous loss also for Polish society,” said Shevah Weiss, a Poland-born Holocaust survivor and former Israeli ambassador to Warsaw. “Gradually, more and more Poles are discovering the enormity of that loss and are moved to attempt to recover some of it.”

Holocaust studies and interest in Polish Jewry’s heritage is growing in Israel, too. Israel’s education ministry last year announced a new program for teaching first graders about the Holocaust. Currently, the subject is not taught until junior high. Some 25,000 Israeli teenagers are sent to Poland each year, at a cost of $30 million annually.

Joining the Israeli lawmakers was a delegation of 24 Holocaust survivors, including Noah Kliger, who recalled reciting the Kaddish mourning prayer with other Jews while sitting on a heap of corpses in a Nazi railway car. They agreed to pray only after the son of one of the dead agreed to share his bread with them.

“Eating the bread, I asked where his father was,” Kilger said in his speech. “He said, ‘Somewhere under all these corpses.’”

Several U.S. politicians joined the ceremony as well, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who spoke of “a profound emotional experience,” and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential candidate.

“As we’re standing here in our warm coats and still cold, I can’t imagine the suffering of those who were forced to work here in pajamas,” Huckabee told JTA. “The Knesset stands here as testament that the will of good is better than the will of evil. Their flag signifies how, had there been a Jewish state, there would’ve never been a Holocaust. That’s why there must always be a secure Jewish state.”

Sending the Knesset members cost Israeli taxpayers $130,000, according to The Marker daily. Another $400,000 was raised by From the Depths, Johnny Daniels’ outfit, to cover events surrounding the inter-parliamentary session in Krakow.

A large chunk of the organization’s budget for producing the event came from Stewart Rahr, an American philanthropist who grabbed some tabloid headlines last year after he reportedly sent a video to friends showing him having sex with three women in a limousine. Knesset spokesperson Yotam Yakir and Daniels both denied a New York Post report earlier this week that Rahr had covered the Knesset members’ travel costs as well.

“He’s a good man and a major donor to Jewish causes and also to this organization,” Daniels said.

Elizabeth Banks will direct ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 11:32

For her feature directorial debut Elizabeth Banks will take on “Pitch Perfect 2,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film is a follow-up to the 2012 musical comedy about a college a capella group. Banks, who co-starred in and produced the original, will once again play commentator Gail. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson “are likely to return” as well.

Insiders (okay, fine–we) are hoping for a cameo from the Maccabeats.



Pete Seeger, Voice of Movement, Dies at 94

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 07:53

Pete Seeger, who helped create the modern American folk music movement, co-wrote enduring songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and in turn became a leading voice for social justice, died on Monday at the age of 94.

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Worship Without Music?!

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 06:00

By Jerry Kaye

Can you imagine a worship service these days without a cantor, a song leader, or even a band? There is nowhere in the liberal Jewish community where music isn’t an integral and heartening part of worship. Today, Jewish music is readily available on CDs and MP3s, and even on YouTube, which hosts thousands of new Jewish music recordings as well as the classics.

Were worship and music always intertwined? Is music as important in the traditional community? Can you pray without a guitar or keyboard? As far back as biblical times, Psalms describes praising God with the harp, lute and timbrel, thus giving us a great musical inheritance. However, we don’t know the melodies that David sang or the songs that surrounded Solomon.

Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory, transformed the music of the bimah and Jewish camps. There were many before her – including Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and a group of United Synagogue Youth grads called Arba Kolot (Four Voices)-who took language from the prayer book and generated it into music. Theo Bikel, Geula Gil, and Chava Alberstam made “Israeli music” feel like the ‘new’ Jewish music. But Israeli music, engaging as it is, really never took the bimah like Debbie Friedman.

Musical change was in the air when Debbie Friedman, Jeff Klepper, and Rabbi Dan Freelander joined liturgy with melody. Debbie may have been the first to bring Hebrew and English together in her songs, which made her music accessible whether you spoke Hebrew or not. Danny, Jeff and the entire NFTY community imprinted the new music first on records, then on cassettes, and ultimately as downloads.

Today, the list of Jewish composers, performers, and service leaders has grown long, and includes notables like Josh Nelson, Rabbi Ken Chasen, Cantors Rosalie Boxt, Arik Luck, Ellen Dreskin, and Shira Klein.

The bedrock of Jewish music can be found in the musical history of our URJ camps. Since our camps don’t have pipe organs, the front lines of Jewish folk music were acoustic guitar. Campers – teens and tweens – could pick up guitars and learn the minor chords of Jewish melodies. Even those who weren’t good pickers found that it sure was fun to sing along. Scores of kids who resisted piano lessons at home were excited to enthusiastically sing after camp lunch, and many signed up for guitar chug (club) before they even got off the camp bus.

As a result, Hebrew music and Jewish themes became embedded in the culture of Jewish camp. Camp services evolved from being peppered with Hebrew words here and there, to being imbued with Hebrew. This musical sea change at camps led to the cantorial resistance of the 60s and early 70s, when campers returned home and wondered why temple services weren’t as friendly as their camp services had been.

Although that generation of chazanim can’t be held responsible for what they were taught and what their congregations accepted as familiar, those young camp song leaders redirected their focus to become cantors and music directors themselves, and the change transformed Reform congregations everywhere. So it is that the music of Jeff and Danny and Debbie and so many more have made camp come alive with the strings, the flute and the timbrel.

Jerry Kaye is the Director of the URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and was one of just 30 people from around the world invited to join the International Task Force on Jewish Peoplehood, under the auspices of the Jewish Agency. This past year he was appointed to a prestigious national panel on Jewish Educational Leadership as the only camp director among university professors and other practitioners of work in Jewish life.

"555 Days of Prayer to Save America" Planners Say "We...

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 03:36

As Their Intercessory Prayer for the United States Reaches Day 40, Christian Non-Profit, "Save America Gathering," Explains That Their 555 Day "Monument in Prayer to God is Designed to...

(PRWeb December 24, 2013)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11439804.htm

N.Y. State Bill Would End Funding to Schools With BDS Ties

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 19:44

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly would suspend funding to educational institutions which fund groups that boycott Israel.

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Helena Bonham Carter, Ephraim Mirvis Named to British Holocaust Commission

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 19:39

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis were among those chosen for the new British Holocaust Commission.

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Women of the Wall Nearing Agreement With Israeli Government After Months of Negotiations

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 19:30

Women of the Wall is close to approving an agreement with the Israeli government to move the group’s monthly prayer service to a new egalitarian area.

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N.Y. State bill ends funding to schools linked to boycott groups

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 17:33

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly would suspend funding to educational institutions which fund groups that boycott Israel.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and first reported by Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist news site, would ban state funding to colleges which fund groups that boycott “in countries that host higher education institutions chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.”

A number of New York-based universities have Israel branches, and Silver made clear in a statement that the target was groups that boycott Israel.

The Democratic lawmaker said he initiated the measure “in response to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel and its academic institutions.”

“Colleges should not use funds to support boycotts, resolutions or any similar actions that are discriminatory and limit academic opportunities,” he said in the statement.

The ASA was one of three U.S. academic groupings to boycott Israeli academic institutions last year.

The bill, which currently has 48 sponsors out of 150 members, would cut funding to institutions that pay dues to groups such as the ASA or which subsidize travel to its conferences.

Bonham Carter, Rabbi Mirvis named to British Holocaust panel

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 16:47

(JTA) — Actress Helena Bonham Carter and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis were among those chosen for the new British Holocaust Commission.

Members of the commission, which will investigate ways to educate Britons about the Shoah, were announced Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron, the London Jewish Chronicle reported.

The commission was set to meet on Monday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with more than 50 Holocaust survivors at a reception at the prime minister’s residence.

Cameron called on the public to provide evidence of Nazi atrocities and survivors’ artifacts to the commission through the end of May.

He announced plans for the commission last September at the Holocaust Educational Trust’s 25th anniversary dinner, according to the Chronicle.

The commission’s findings are expected to be presented to the government in time for the 70th anniversary of the British liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 2015.

Bonham Carter’s grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejon, was posthumously recognized for helping to save hundreds of Jews during World War II.

“I am very honored to be asked to join this commission and do so in particular memory of those members of my family who died in the Holocaust and as an inherited responsibility to my grandfather who made a significant personal sacrifice to save hundreds of lives,” the actress said in a statement. “It is our generations’ legacy to create a living memory that will survive the survivors and forever remind future generations of the inhumanity man is capable of committing to its own kind.”

Report: Women of the Wall nearing agreement with Israeli gov’t

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 15:30

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Women of the Wall is close to approving an agreement with the Israeli government to move the group’s monthly prayer service to a new egalitarian area.

The report Monday in Haaretz was corroborated on the organization’s Facebook page.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the organization and an Israeli government committee.

In October, the Women of the Wall presented 16 conditions under which the group would move its monthly prayer service to an egalitarian section of the Western Wall’s plaza now under construction.

The conditions pertain to the section’s size, appearance, management, accessibility, budget and name. Taken together, the conditions mandate that the new section be treated as equal to the existing Western Wall plaza.

Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman said in a letter sent to key supporters of the organization that a special government committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit had agreed to most of the conditions, reported Haaretz, which obtained a copy of the letter.

The letter reportedly said the committee’s recommendations would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks and that the egalitarian area would be ready in “a year or more,” Haaretz reported.

The site will have a mobile, temporary mechitzah for the monthly prayer services since some of the members are Orthodox and do not pray with men, according to the letter.

The committee also reportedly agreed to allow group members to jointly oversee administration of the egalitarian space, according to Haaretz.

Hoffman said in the letter that the group will continue to work to gain permission to bring its own Torah scroll to the site once the negotiations are completed. She also said, according to Haaretz, that the group will continue to pray in the women’s section “until the full implementation of the report’s agreed-upon recommendations.”

A group of Women of the Wall supporters, mostly from the United States, have split off over the negotiations. The women have named their splinter organization Original Women of the Wall, or O-WOW, and plan to hold their own services at the Wall.

The Benefits of a Woman's Place

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 14:00

The liberal push to give women more of a role in Jewish ceremony ignores something very important, writes Avi Shafran — the benefits of being able to stay in the background.

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Pig heads sent to synagogue, Israeli embassy and museum in Rome

Sun, 01/26/2014 - 07:56

(JTA) – Boxes containing the head of a pig were sent to Rome’s main synagogue, the Israeli embassy in Rome and a museum showing an exhibition on the Holocaust.

The packages, sent via a courier service, were delivered Friday,  just days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

All three packages were turned over to Italy’s special terrorism and major crime police, who opened an investigation. The packages contained no message and had no information about the sender.

At the close of Shabbat on Saturday, Renzo Gattegna, the president of the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the incidents “disturbing threats” that “arouse indignation and dismay.”

The “repugnant action,” Gattegna said in a statement, “recalled typically Mafia methodology.” He declared that whatever the intent of the action, “Italian Jews are not frightened now and will never be so in the future by those who demonstrate, with such blatant evidence, the profound ignorance and barbarism of their own behavior.”

He expressed gratitude for “the immediate and effective action by the forces of order that always, with great professionalism and commitment, ensure the safety of our institutions and communities.”

Daniele Nahum, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Milan, tweeted that the delivery to the synagogue was “an insult to those who identify with the values of our Constitution.” His tweet came before the other two incidents were made public.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino condemned what he called a “disgraceful act” and expressed solidarity with the Jewish community. “Whoever sent it,” he said, “committed an offense against the entire city.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed on January 27, is marked throughout Italy with commemorative ceremonies, educational programs, special broadcasts and publications, and other events, including organized student study and commemoration trips to Auschwitz.

In another development, graffiti declaring that the Holocaust was “a lie” and “’Hanna Frank’ was a liar” were found Saturday on walls in an outlying district of Rome.


David Krakauer Gets 'The Big Picture'

Sun, 01/26/2014 - 06:00

At first, musician David Krakauer was skeptical of the idea of interpreting Jewish-themed music scores. But then, he decided to embark on one of his most adventurous projects yet.

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Pig's Head Dumped at Italian Synagogue, Israeli Embassy in Rome

Sat, 01/25/2014 - 14:41

Offences against Jewish targets in Rome including a pig’s head sent to the city’s main synagogue caused outrage in Italy on Saturday in the run-up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day next week.

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