The desecration, vandalism and redevelopment of Jewish cemeteries in Europe has prompted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press local governments abroad to preserve those sites.
In a letter Tuesday to Clinton, Gillibrand said she was acting on behalf of constituents who have expressed concern “about the threats faced by historic cemeteries, such as those in Lithuania, Poland and Malta.”
This year’s edition of the New York Jewish Film Festival has been an instructive experience. Even a program as large as this one cannot claim to be representative; there are simply too many Jewish filmmakers working in too many different political, socioeconomic and even geographical contexts to be given voice. However, a few tentative conclusions can be drawn, with the final handful of movies serving nicely to underline our findings.
Born Uriah Rapoport in Minsk, my grandfather changed his last name to Harris when he immigrated to the United States in the late 1870s at the age of 9. I was told he stayed with the Harris family only for one night, but kept their name for the rest of his life.
I have nothing against the name Harris, but “Rapoport” connects me to a past before my grandfather. I looked up the name. There were many distinguished Ashkenazi rabbis named “Rapoport” in Eastern Europe, even in Minsk. My great-grandfather was not one of them: he was in the lumber business.
Theodore Bikel says he identifies so closely with his stage role as Tevye the Milkman that he sometimes lapses into character. And, Bikel told an audience in New York this week, "people still approach me on the street to ask, 'How are things in Anatevka?' ": the fictional shtetl where "Fiddler on the Roof" is set.
Somewhere, someone is holding a Torah scroll. Somewhere, a new parchment scroll is finding a new home. Somewhere, in other words, a Torah dedication ceremony is taking place.
The participants, as in a religious neighborhood of Jerusalem, below, may wear black hats. Or, like Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Jesse Kopelman, right, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the Norfolk, Va., harbor, they may favor white caps.
Yossi Goldberg played soccer and basketball as a boy growing up in Israel, but figure skating was in his blood — his mother was a figure skater in Lithuania.
That, says Goldberg, founder and president of the Israeli Figure Skating Association, is why he has devoted a dozen years to a winter sport in a Mediterranean country.
The new top leadership team of the embattled World Jewish Congress will head to Eastern Europe soon to re-energize stalled negotiations over Holocaust-era restitution payments, Michael Schneider, the group’s next secretary general, said this week.
The political discussions will represent a return by the WJC, perceived as rudderless in recent years, to the activity that cemented its reputation as a representative of Jewish interests.