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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.