Jordan’s King Hussein, addressing rumors about his sickness, declared himself to be “in good health, thank God,” and pledged to spend the rest of his days trying to transform the warring Middle East into a region of peace and economic cooperation that includes Israel.
Carole Basri stood in the bright sunshine in front of the Isaiah Wall, only blocks from the United Nations headquarters. She clutched a black-and-white picture of her white-bearded great-grandfather — the former chief rabbi of Baghdad.
“I come here as a Jew and an Arab,” she told a small gathering of reporters and Jewish officials Monday. “My family had lived there for 2,500 years, before the rise of Mohammed and Islam. I want to see Iraq someday, see the home of my parents and my legacy.”
Sandi DuBowski’s new project is a kind of cinematic thumb in the eye to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian president famously announced last year while speaking at Columbia University that there are no gays in Iran. A new documentary, “A Jihad for Love,” about the struggles of gay Muslims from Egypt to India, in South Africa and yes, in Iran, shows a different story.
In Mick Fine’s classroom, the sixth-graders are creating cartoons and board games and posters for their family’s upcoming seders. In the classroom of Nicole Levy and Vanessa Miller, the kindergarteners are putting the finishing touches on artworks that will be bound together into mini-Haggadot to be shared with their families next week. Throughout the classrooms of the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, the K-8 students are learning about the traditions of Passover in other non-traditional, hands-on ways.
The ongoing hunt for Nazi war criminals made news last week when evidence emerged that Aribert Heim, the wartime “Dr. Death” in Mauthausen who conducted experiments on prisoners, was given haven in Egypt and presumably died there. Efraim Zuroff has been searching for information about Heim throughout his two decades as director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.
An Islamic elementary school from the South Bronx tours the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Lower Manhattan. Muslim students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore invite Jewish students to a Ramadan break-the-fast banquet. A Pakistani man invites 100 Muslims and Jews to an interreligious dialogue meeting in his Washington, D.C., home.
For a forthcoming television documentary and DVD about contemporary anti-Semitism, New York producer Andrew Goldberg interviewed academicians, theologians and journalists on four continents. Many of the experts were Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, because, as the documentary shows, that region is the source of most anti-Semitism today.
For another, less-intellectual, perspective, Goldberg also wanted a look at public opinion, the “Arab street.” So he went to an Arab street.
These weeks before Passover are in one coincidental way like the ancient Jews’ exodus from Egypt: everything is done in a hurry. There’s chametz to remove, boxes of dishes to shlep, food to buy, seder guests to invite, etc.
With time at a premium, who has the leisure to prepare for the spiritual purpose of Pesach — removing the chametz from us, imagining ourselves as part of the throng of ex-slaves entering an unknown wilderness? If your meals are ready for yom tov but you’re not, what have you accomplished?