Parliamentary elections are held in Austria on Sept. 29 and polls suggest that the far right-wing Freedom Party will achieve one of the best results in its history — and may even shake the governing coalition.
The Freedom Party has mostly been shunned by Jewish voters because it grew out of a federation of former Nazis and has been accused of pandering to xenophobia – with one notable exception.
David Lasar is a Jew, the son of a Holocaust survivor — and a candidate for the Freedom Party. Lasar, 60, of Vienna, was elected a council member for Vienna’s local parliament in 2005 on a Freedom Party ticket, where he focuses on health care issues.
“The FPO is the only party that cares for the man on the street,” said Mr Lasar, a trader by profession .
The Freedom Party holds an anti-immigration stance and is trying to capitalize on surging rejection of bailouts of teetering southern European nations within the European Union.
“Love those that are close to you. To me, those are our Austrians,” one of the party’s current campaign posters reads, featuring party leader Heinz Christian Strache, 44.
It was a Simchat Torah celebration that surely most of the Hasidim walking past had never before witnessed: hundreds of liberal Jews, men and women, young children and the middle-aged, dancing together with Torah scrolls held aloft. Revelers twirled round and round in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, just outside the entrance to Prospect Park.
“Simchat Torah Across Brooklyn,” as the event was dubbed by creator Joshua Breitzer, the cantor at Park Slope Reform Congregation Beth Elohim, became a nexus for Brooklyn Jewry as streimel-topped Satmar Hasidim walked past en route between Williamsburg and Boro Park and fedora-clad Chabad Hasidim walked by — a few stopping to observe the festivities — on their trek from other parts of Brooklyn to Crown Heights.
Close to 300 people responded on the event’s Facebook page that they would come. But several hundred more actually showed up. Many were members of some of the co-sponsoring synagogues and minyamin, which included Reform congregations Beth Elohim and Union Temple, Progressive Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom and Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr to Conservative congregations Park Slope Jewish Center and the Flatbush & Shaare Torah Jewish Center.
Members of independent congregations Kolot Chayeinu and Congregation Mt. Sinai came, like some from Shir Hama’alot, Brooklyn Jews and Moishe House Park Slope, as did folks from congregations and minyans which declined to become formal co-sponsors, some because they are Orthodox and the gathering used musical instruments. There were also many in attendance who aren’t affiliated with a religious community.
You know what happens when someone achieves iconic status? People forget they were a real person before they became an icon. And when people forget this important fact, things can get really ugly.
Case in point: Anne Frank.
I’m referring specifically to the new Hipster Anne Frank (@HipstrAnneFrank) Twitter account. The tagline: “bestselling memoirist/loft dweller/voice of a generation.” (Facebook beat Twitter to it —there’s been a Hipster Anne Frank page since 2011, not to mention the Hipster Hitler page, which has been around since the year before that.)
Yeah, I get it. It’s all about applying the ironic to the iconic. Problem is, it isn’t funny in the least.
Here are some of the posts:
My skinny jeans are the skinniest.
Levi and Yisroel Pekar have asked thousands of people, “Are you Jewish?” in their years of conducting street outreach for the Chabad movement during Sukkot.
Since the twins mainly operate in New York City, it should come as no surprise that they have shaken the lulav with some famous Jews over the years. Like Natalie Portman and Jon Stewart (or so the Pekars claim).
Levi Pekar’s brush with Natalie Portman dates back to 2009, or so he estimates.
“I was walking on Broadway,” said Levi Pekar. “This woman stopped. She was averagely dressed, nothing special.”
Levi Pekar asked her if she’d like to shake the lulav: “She thought about it and said yes.”
“When she was walking away, a guy I was with, his mouth was agape,” continued Levi. “He said, ‘That was Natalie Portman! The famous Jewish Israeli actress.’”
A year later, Yisroel supposedly encountered Jon Stewart in Midtown at Chabad’s “mitzvah truck,” which is billed as the largest mobile sukkah in the world. Stewart walked into the sukkah, Levi recounted, and his brother administered the blessing.
When Yisroel said he recognized Stewart from somewhere, Stewart looked uncomfortable and quickly left, Levi said. A Daily Show fan who happened to be in the truck as well told the brothers whom they had just encountered.
These celebrity run-ins didn’t make much of a difference to the brothers, Levi said. “I don’t care what a person’s financial statement or PR statement is. It’s about sharing the mitzvot.”
At the start of President Barack Obama’s presidency, he announced a “pivot towards Asia” after years of American military and political resources being bogged down in the Middle East.
Obama’s speech Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly shows how clearly the pendulum has swung back. Although he referred to Iran, Syria Israel, and Palestine a combined 71 times, Obama only mentioned China once. He left out other Asian nations such as India, Japan, and North Korea altogether. This imbalance speaks volumes about Obama’s understanding that in the current era it is nearly impossible to avoid the volatile Middle East.
The speech also highlighted his abandonment of democratization and human rights as supreme values, replaced with a Henry Kissinger-style Realpolitik.
When addressing the Syrian crisis, Obama asked rhetorically how the United Nations and United States have handled this delicate affair. His underwhelming response: “We believe that as a starting point the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons.”
Gone was the rhetoric calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate removal from power. The stated root for this policy is also illuminating, “I did so (supported intervention) because I believe it is in the national security interests of the United States and in the interest of the world.” His main focus is American security interests and global norms.
Obama continued by outlying his doctrine using American military power: if America’s allies in the region are attacked, oil flow disrupted, terrorist bases built, or weapons of mass destruction utilized. The president pointedly avoided promising that the U.S. would will use force to prevent genocide or to end a human rights massacre like in Syria. Translation: Obama is giving free rein to Assad to continue slaughtering his own people. Just don’t use chemical weapons or stop the flow of oil to Chicago or Los Angeles.
Many people know the story of how the King of Denmark donned a yellow star to identify with his Jewish subjects. But few people know that the story is a myth.
The tale is probably best known because of a scene in Leon Uris’s “Exodus,” published in 1958, in which an underground radio transmission reports that King Christian X “himself will wear the first Star of David and he expects that every loyal Dane will do the same.”
In 2001, the story made it to Congress, when Rep. Gary Ackerman lauded the Danish king and his fellow Danes for donning a yellow armband to foil the Nazi roundup of Denmark’s Jews.
“They were not Jews,” Ackerman said of Denmark’s citizens. “They were human beings.”
The myth has several versions. The most inspiring image has King Christian riding on horseback through the streets of Copenhagen while wearing the yellow star.
In fact, Danish Jews were never required to wear a yellow armband or a star, so the Danish king had no need to wear the star either.
No one knows where or how the story originated, but it predates by at least one year the attempted roundup of Denmark’s Jewish community.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority who is known as Abu Mazen, met Sept. 23 with American Jewish leaders, at a dinner hosted by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. There were plenty of former ambassadors, members of Congress, diplomats and dignitaries — former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright identified herself as “also a former person” — and even some currently in office. Martin Indyk, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, for instance. Not to forget Wolf Blitzer.
It was a friendly crowd. All but we journalists (who stayed decidedly neutral) went to great lengths to express admiration for Abbas’s attempts at negotiations and support for a two-state solution. Again and again, it was noted that a strong majority of Israelis and Palestinians favor this outcome.
But Abbas has a more difficult task of persuasion within his own family. One of his sons, it turns out, is not a believer.
Sarah Silverman can always figure out how to yank our chains — so what did she do on a recent talk show? For that matter, what did Bob Dylan just do (but not on a talk show)? And what does the new kosher cell phone do? Take the quiz to find out!
Why did the Holocaust fail so spectacularly in Denmark while it succeeded in so many European countries? The peculiarities of the German occupation of Denmark may provide a clue.
Denmark surrendered almost immediately after being invaded in April 1940, and agreed to cooperate with Germany. In return, the Nazis installed a plenipotentiary as supreme commander in Copenhagen, and allowed the Danish government to maintain its sovereignty.
Then, as now, Danes had a strong social democracy. They viewed their well-integrated Jewish neighbors as equal citizens. Any attempt by the Nazis to single out Jews for special treatment was fiercely opposed by the Danish government.
Jews “were never seen as something different from just being Danes,” said Peter Taksoe-Jensen, Denmark’s current ambassador to the United States.
While other European Jews were being deported to death camps from 1942, Danish Jews continued to practice their religion freely and openly through most of 1943.
Bent Lexner, Denmark’s chief rabbi, said his parents had a huge Jewish wedding in Copenhagen in early 1943, something that would have been unimaginable elsewhere in occupied Europe.
Historians disagree on the merits of Denmark’s policy of cooperation with the Nazis.
The Danish historian Bent Bludnikow says that Denmark, in effect, collaborated with Germany. Danish agriculture and industry fed the Nazi war machine. Some Danish firms benefited from Jewish slave labor.
But Bo Lidegaard, editor-in-chief of the Danish newspaper Politiken, says that because Denmark, which sits on Germany’s northern border, had a tiny army, resistance was futile.
Running towards the sound of gunfire with my friend Goran Tomasevic felt familiar; we had worked together in Jerusalem during the start of the Intifada so gunfire and explosions were nothing new; what was different yesterday was that this was Nairobi, my home for the past six years and a place that has grown increasingly affluent and “normal” to anyone used to a middle-class life in any developing country.
And I think that is what was also most shocking on arriving at the mall itself. Already a trickle of people were emerging, either running or being carried. These were not people belonging to one particular “group” (Israelis or Palestinians) when I was in Jerusalem, not black Africans caught in a civil conflict or unfortunate western adventurers or tourists caught up in a hostage crisis, these were “ordinary Nairobians” – the same people I had seen on a very normal Saturday morning just hours before when I was shopping in the Nakumat supermarket store, in the same mall. Everything had just seemed so very “normal.”
And I think that is what has galvanized the country and it is what has caught the attention of the world, this is a normal middle class under attack, its a lifestyle, a form of behavior, that so many of us, so many Kenyans, so many Africans, so many in the developing world, aspire to.
So the people being brought out were regular shoppers and those working in the mall, from Kenyans who might later have been attending the Safaricom 7’s rugby, to members of the Asian community, to UN workers and foreign diplomats as well as waiters, shop assistants, workers. And, if you work at Westgate mall, you are probably a worker with a good future.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
When I set out to write a story on the Catskills — its famed legacy, its tremendous decline and what the future holds — I knew I wanted to spend a couple of days upstate, talking with locals who witnessed the area in its heyday and seeing what’s left of it for myself.
Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld, who has spent the past three years documenting the ruins of the great Borscht Belt resorts and bungalow colonies, agreed to take me around. We decided to visit two of the most widely-recognized resorts, the Concord in Kiamesha Lake and Grossinger’s in Liberty. I imagined setting up shop next to a quiet lake and conducting interviews on gorgeous scenic expanses. My colleague, Yermi Brenner, would film the video.
Little did I know, exploring the ruins of these legendary hotels was not such a simple endeavor.
Rabbi David Ingber is the spiritual leader (and main draw) for Romemu, a fast-growing congregation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Its quest for spiritual meaning can hardly be disassociated from Ingber’s personal journey.
Born and raised in a Modern Orthodox family, Ingber, 44, was drawn to ultra-Orthodoxy while on a gap-year program in Israel in the late 1980s. He described the next five years as “flipping out.”
“I was completely God intoxicated,” he said.
But after years of study at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva in Brooklyn, Ingber decided he’d had enough. “I felt that Orthodoxy with all of its beauty [had made me swallow] all of the bathwater, and it was making me sick,” he explained.
The next 10 years marked a period of soul-searching. After turning his back on Judaism, Ingber looked to Eastern spiritual practices as a way to fill the void. Working nights as a waiter at Carmine’s, a restaurant on the Upper West Side, he would fill his days with yoga and meditation.
True to his openness to other religions, Ingber described his struggle as “the prodigal son myth.”
“I was trying to find a way back to Judaism, but I wasn’t sure I had figured it out,” he said.
“There is a problem in my country… and this problem is the Jew,” Borat chanted famously. But it may as well be David Baddiel singing. Who is David Baddiel, you ask? He is a mid-table British comedian who has initiated a campaign to expunge what he calls the “Y-word” from British football chants. The Y-word, or according to Baddiel, who is himself Jewish, the word that shall not be named, is actually the relatively innocuous, “Yid.”
In origin the Yiddish word for “Jew,” Yid has sometimes been used by anti-Semites to denote displeasure with those of the Jewish persuasion. This appears to have been the case in the early part of the 20th century when a large and concentrated Jewish population was able to take the train quickly and conveniently to Tottenham in North London where Tottenham Hotspur (“Spurs”) played. During the 1960s and 1970s, rival teams’ fans began to call Tottenham the “Yids,” and in an unusual moment of cultural solidarity, Tottenham fans, Jewish and Gentile alike, said, okay, we’ll be the Yids.
With that developed a homegrown, organic sensibility that Tottenham was a “Jewish” team, a sensibility has remained until today. Their fans call themselves the “Yid Army,” chant the same during games, and call each other and the team’s players, “Yiddos.” The use of the term is a whole hog reappropriation of a negative usage, transformed into absolute positivity and brotherhood.
Baddiel is correct to point out that most Spurs supporters are not Jewish. As a result, it may be the first time in history that a large group of Gentiles has willingly taken on, with great pride, a type of Jewish identity. It is, as noted by Sleeper’s Sleep on the fansite cartilagefreecaptain.com, an “I am Spartacus” moment in the face of taunting, bigoted abuse from other team’s fans, the result was, “some of us are Yids? No. All of us are Yids.” This attitude is what has made many of us around the world Spurs fans and frankly, the Jews could have used a lot more attitudes like this throughout their history.
But Baddiel doesn’t think so and he’s convinced the Football Association to look into the matter. Instead of investigating the opposing fans anti-Jewish rhetoric, Baddiel wants Spurs fans to stop calling themselves Yids. Blaming the victim, apparently, is easier than shaming the perpetrators.
Starting Wednesday night, we can all look forward to a week of eating (and in some cases, sleeping) outside.
Sukkahs come in all shapes and sizes. Some people will cobble something in their backyard, others will use the handy space provided by an outdoor balcony, and still more may see it as a chance to show off their creative streak.
From Manhattan’s Union Square to the dark alleys of Venice, here are some pretty striking symbols of one of Judaism’s most festive holidays.
The crisis in Syria, has overwhelmed discussion of other Middle East issues in the past month, not the least of them being the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.
Still, the passage of two decades with little or no progress in the peace process has not passed unnoticed. Analysts and former negotiators from all sides have tried to explain, in articles and think-tank gatherings, why, so long after the signing ceremony on the White House lawn, Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to reaching a peace accord than they were in the moments following Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat’s historic handshake.
“One of Oslo’s best legacies is that the majority of each population now favors a two-state solution, though each is convinced that the other does not share its convictions,” wrote David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in a paper he published on Monday.
But as Secretary of State John Kerry attempts to revive long-dormant talks between the two sides, a surprising side show has also emerged — one that takes on not the question of Oslo’s failure, but the validity of its fundamental premise: the notion of dividing the land into two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestinian state.
Those critical of this premise got their biggest boost last Sunday when the New York Times Sunday Review gave its lead story over to a scathing opinion piece, by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Ian Lustick, who portrayed the major players’ clinging to a two-state solution as one of the main obstacles to finding other, more productive paths to peace.
“The pretense that negotiations under the slogan of ‘two states for two peoples’ could lead to such a solution must be abandoned,” Lustick wrote.
Calls have been voiced in the past to abandon the two-state solution and the peace process whose stated aim is to reach that outcome. But these were largely limited to the margins of the discussion. Scholars such as [Henry Siegman] who have publicly given up on the viability of a two state solution, have been sidelined in the discourse over the future of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
Does the article by Lustick — a longtime skeptic of the two-state solution — herald a breakthrough of his perspective into the mainstream?
Response to the article, in hundreds of comments posted online, seems to suggest otherwise. While a broad sense of pessimism still dominates any policy discussion about Secretary Kerry’s attempts to bring about a peace accord, there is no visible shift within mainstream discourse toward a one-state solution.
That sense of things seemed reinforced during a September 16 debate hosted by Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. The discussion featured author Peter Beinart, who argued in favor of the two-state solution, and Israeli academic Yehuda Shenhav who spoke about the demise of the two state solution and the need to discuss instead the concept of one state in which Jews and Palestinians enjoy equal rights and some form of shared sovereignty.
Here too, the stage and the speakers were as noteworthy as the substance of their discussion: an Ivy League university’s Israel studies center hosting a debate challenging the basic idea of separating Israelis and Palestinians into two states, held between two prominent intellectuals.
But the venue, as it turned out, also provided an illustration of the limits of the one-state solution’s penetration into the broader peace process discussion.
The event, though coming on the heels of the Times’ highlighting of the issue, was held in a small lecture hall that comfortably seated an audience estimated at no more than 100 people. This could suggest that the one state solution is still a topic primarily of interest to a fairly limited coterie concentrated on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and other, comparable districts elsewhere — not a debate ready for prime time.
Some feuding families bury the hatchet around the High Holidays, discarding grudges and grievances in the spirit of renewal.
But that’s not happening for the Greenspun siblings of Las Vegas. Scions of a storied newspaper clan, the Greenspuns have been torn apart by a dispute over the future of the Las Vegas Sun, founded by their parents in 1950. Now, the fate of the paper — and of the family’s legacy — rests in a judge’s hands as one brother battles his siblings.
The dispute has roots in a joint operating agreement the Sun forged with the larger Review-Journal in 1989. Compelled by the Newspaper Preservation Act, which Congress in 1970 enacted to save ailing print dailies, the Review-Journal agreed to publish the weaker Sun as a stand-alone section in its own pages.
But as The New York Times reported last week, the publisher of the Review-Journal wants to dissolve the joint operating agreement. In exchange, the Greenspun family would receive the lucrative LasVegas.com domain name. Sibs Danny Greenspun, Susan Greenspun Fine and Jane Greenspun Gale all voted to accept the offer.
But their brother Brian, the Sun’s president, is suing to prevent it.
“I understand why the Review-Journal is doing this,” Brian Greenspun told the Forward from Las Vegas. “Who wouldn’t like a monopoly? But that doesn’t make it right. And Anti-Trust laws hold that you can’t conspire to have a monopoly in anything you do.”
So is “The Real Rebbetzins” real? How about exploding rugelach and a new holiday involving casseroles? And is it true what they say about Ari Emanuel? Take this week’s quiz and find out!
Will the doors of Israel’s detention centers really open, allowing illegal immigrants to walk free?
According to today’s High Court ruling, this is exactly what should happen over the coming weeks. Israel’s High Court has just struck down a controversial law that allows the state to detain illegal immigrants for up to three years.
Judges decided that administrative detention for illegals violates the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, and therefore the Anti-Infiltration Law that permitted it is invalid. Instead, the state can only detain illegals for far shorter periods.
Excitement is spreading through detention camps, where news of the ruling is just being heard. But the joy on the part of illegals — and the human rights groups that fought the law — may be premature.
Back in 2006 the court overturned another law, which bound migrant workers to their employers during their time in Israel. The state simply ignored the ruling for many months, and a full two years after the court gave its ruling, and in so doing said that the law violated migrants’ basic rights, it was fully in place.
Only since 2008 has it been cancelled gradually, employment sector by employment sector. And alternative legislation that limits migrants’ employment choices has been enacted to replace the cancelled law.
So, the court may have spoken on the Anti-Infiltration Law today, but it’s far from clear how this will translate to action.
You’d notice Marshall Berman, if you saw him. Back when I commuted to the City College of New York from my parents’ apartment in the late 1960s, my father certainly did. He rushed into our apartment to excitedly report that “a hippie” was entering our next-door neighbor’s place, a colleague of Berman’s at CCNY.
Berman drew stares not least because of his unruly Jew-fro, which he sported to the day he died, Sept. 11, at breakfast with a friend at Manhattan’s Metro Diner, an Upper West Side eatery he loved.
Berman, a prolific educator, philosopher, cultural critic and political scientist in the Marxist tradition, became my honors mentor at CCNY. I just saw him last week at the Rosh Hashana services of Ansche Chesed, down the block from the Metro, alongside his wife, Shellie. My experience of him was not great as a mentor, and I didn’t always agree with his views or fully grasp his more theoretical writings on culture, but he was a great intellect.
His doctorate was in political science, but his breadth of intellectual interests and knowledge was remarkable. I recall him first making his mark with front-page New York Times Book Review articles on works by the anti-psychiatry psychiatrist R.D. Laing and the symbolic-interactionist sociologist Erving Goffman.
Israel is getting ready for the hottest and longest Yom Kippur for decades.
Well, not actually longer than normal, but it will feel longer. Israel has long adjusted the clock to wintertime ahead of the fast, so that it finishes some time between six and seven pm, rather than between seven and eight. But following intense controversy in recent years, with critics saying that the practice ushers in dark winter evenings too early, and in doing so wastes electricity on extra lighting, the government resolved to wait this year.
As for the temperature, partly because it’s so early in the secular calendar this year and partly because there is a mini-heat wave, temperatures will hit 100 Fahrenheit in some parts of Israel, making refraining from drinking extra difficult.
But Yom Kippur will be easier than the minor fast day, the Fast of Gedaliah, which fell on Sunday. Though it’s a shorter fast that Yom Kippur — it starts at dawn as opposed to in the evening — some Israelis went in to that fast unprepared.
There was much discussion of the smart phone bug that stemmed from Israel’s decision to delay the clock change. Many smart phones didn’t know that the clocks aren’t changing yet, and switched to wintertime anyway. The result: lots of people woke up late and found themselves late for work.
But for people who were fasting on Sunday, the story was sorrier. Imagine sitting down for your pre-fast meal today only to be told the meal is off — it’d too late to eat.
As Sunday’s fast started at dawn it’s okay to wake up early and eat and drink. But people who relied on their smart phones to wake them up dragged themselves up at an unearthly hour ready to prepare, only to find that their phone had woken them up late, and that it was already light and too late to eat.
As one unhappy faster put it to me, smart hones don’t seem so smart when they send you off to work both late and hungry.