Steve Lipman's blog

Fallen Halos And The Perils Of Silence

I came across an upsetting story last week, the latest in a series of stories on an upsetting topic. Some respected community leaders were accused of molesting children. Their superiors failed to act on the accusations or go to the police. They feared the financial or public relations consequences. They did not limit the accused pedophile’s access to children. Trust us, the superiors cautioned.

I’ve read such stories far too often in recent years in connection with the Orthodox community, both the Modern Orthodox and so-called black hat sections.

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A Vintage Siddur's Value Is Not In The Cards

The siddur was obviously old, its back cover tattered, the pages yellow and crumbling, the book bordering on moldy, but it was an object of pride to its owner. I was visiting a friend a few weeks ago, and he pulled the prayerbook off a shelf to show to me.

It was printed more than a century ago, in Hebrew, in some once-intensively Jewish city in Eastern Europe’s Pale of Settlement whose name I have since forgotten.

A vintage Cy Young baseball card.

Can The Swastika Be Rehabilitated?

What do you do if you see someone wearing a swastika?

Do you confront the offender? Inquire why the person is displaying the hated sign of the regime that perpetrated the Holocaust? Educate? Walk away?

The decision is harder if the person in question obviously means no harm and is apparently oblivious to the Swastika’s emotional impact on Jews, if not on anyone who grew up in the era of World War II or has some historical consciousness.

I faced this dilemma a few weeks ago.

Message from the Raelians.

Cherry-Picking Israel's Greatest Inventions

 You’ve probably popped a cherry tomato into your mouth, but did you know its Jewish history?

You can learn about it this summer at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem.

The PillCam, enabling easy imaging of your innards, is the proud invention of an Israeli firm.

Poles And The Holocaust: Another Side Of The Coin

Have you ever heard of Wincenty and Lucja Baranek, Adam and Bronislawa Kowalski or Josef and Wiktoria Ulma?

If not, you’re not alone.

They’re not well-known either in Poland, their homeland, where each of the couples risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Poland has taken a step to recognize the heroes, recently issuing commemorative coins to honor them: all Catholics, all killed for their actions.

The significance of the gesture transcends the world of numismatism.

A Polish coin honors Irena Sendler, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Matylda Getter for saving Jews.

Beyond Semantics: 'Polish Death Camps' And The Suffering Of A Nation

In Poland last year to help the small Jewish community of Poznan lead its Pesach seders, I spent some time in a small café down the street from the city’s former synagogue (serving since communist times as a municipal swimming pool) with the director of a small art gallery.

Polish camp, or Nazi camp in occupied Poland?

The True Face Of Polish Jewry

The latest artistic news about Poland’s small-but-emerging Jewish community centers around Pawel Bramson, a skinhead-turned-Orthodox-Jew who’s featured in a new documentary, “The Moon is Jewish,” which premiered here this winter, won an award at last month’s Jewish Motifs International Film Festival in Warsaw, and subsequently has garnered heavy coverage,

“From neo-Nazi skinhead to black-hatted Jew,” was the headline in JTA this week.  And this on worldjewishdaily.com: “From Malicious to Mashgiach.”

For The Munich 11, A Snub Of Olympic Proportions

The upcoming Summer Olympics in London – officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad – will last approximately 25,000 minutes. Apparently the organizers can’t spare one to remember 11 Israelis who were murdered at the Summer Games 40 years ago.

That’s what a group of activists, headed by the CEO of the Jewish Community Center in Rockland County, are hearing from International Olympic Committee.

Obama: A Second Truman?

In an early election-season speech, in a campaign that finds the presidential incumbent often under attack as – at best – lukewarm to the interests of Israel, Vice President Biden delivered what he considered a knockout punch last week.

President Obama, Biden declared during a speech at New York University marking Israel’s 64th anniversary, is second only to the commander-in-chief widely considered the Jewish State’s best friend ever in the White House.

Polish Jews: This Land Is Our Land

To read the recent headlines from what most Americans blithely refer to as Eastern Europe -- an expanse of territory that more accurately is Central and Northern and Southern and parts bordering on Western Europe -- one might think that the cauldron of Nazi-era anti-Semitism is boiling over again.

A Hungarian legislator invoking the centuries-old blood libel accusation. Neglect of a small Jewish cemetery in the former Yugoslavia. Restaurant patrons in Ukraine who get hats with attached side curls that mock payot.

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