Blogs
04/23/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

As we celebrate this Yom Ha’atzma’ut, the sixty-seventh birthday of the State of Israel, I share a treasured Israel memory.

04/21/2015 | | Staff Writer | Lens
Getty Images

Not much is known about the early history of München 12 246.

Like other German railway cars, it was built there early in the 20th century and was used to transport cattle.

04/21/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View
Ted Merwin

Although I have a beard, mustache and a Semitic cast to my face, only twice in my life have I been mistaken for a terrorist. The first time was on an Alitalia flight from JFK to Milan when I was 13, my very secular parents having decided that we would take a family vacation to Europe in lieu of a bar mitzvah. As we settled into our seats, a representative for the airline rushed onto the plane and approached my father. “Mr. Meerwin, your luggage is teeking,” he blurted out. My face fell; I had bought an alarm called a “panic button,” which you could hang on the back of your hotel door and it would go off if someone tried to open the door in the middle of the night. The man took us to a hangar filled with baggage, and, indeed, it was my suitcase that was, if not ticking, then certainly ringing with loud whoops. I disarmed the device, and we were on our way.

04/21/2015 | | Travel Writer | Travel
The arty, eclectic Little Five Points neighborhood.  Hilary Larson/JW

Many cities like to promote themselves as collections of neighborhoods — enclaves that are distinctive and yet still meld, harmoniously, into a cohesive metropolis.

04/21/2015 | | The JW Q&A
Naomi Firestone-Teeter is new exec at Jewish Book Council.  JTA

On April 1, Naomi Firestone-Teeter became executive director of the Jewish Book Council, which promotes the reading, writing, publishing and distribution of English-language Jewish books. Firestone-Teeter, whose predecessor Carolyn Hessel has been called “the Jewish Oprah” for her success at promoting books, has been working her way up in the organization since graduating from Emory University in 2006, serving most recently as its associate director. JTA recently caught up by email with the 31-year-old exec. The interview has been condensed and edited.

04/17/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

In the mid-1980’s, just a few years after I began my rabbinate at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, I traveled to Poland with a UJA-Federation Rabbinic Cabinet mission. It was shortly after my two older children were born, and from the moment that I entered the gate of Auschwitz and saw a display of clothing stripped from infants and toddlers who had been brought there for extermination, I was forever changed. Before that visit, the harsh reality of the Holocaust had been an abstract set of numbers and grainy images. When I returned, I had gained what I now understand to be an intuition of an infinitesimal fraction of the horror of what had transpired. I was shaken to the core.

04/15/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person
Hugh Pollack

We came to Poland expecting to find death. And death we found in the death camp of Majdanek. It was situated with prewar homes and parks all around it, as if it were just any business in full view of the town’s population, which could never claim innocence.

04/14/2015 | | Staff Writer | Lens
Ishbel Szatrawska

For some elderly Polish Jews, a bike ride from Auschwitz to Krakow that began last year ended last month in Israel.

The 30 Polish seniors, most of them Holocaust survivors, visited the Jewish state in March as guests of a trip financed by a 2014 “Ride for the Living” under the auspices of Krakow’s seven-year-old JCC (jcckrakow.org). Nearly 20 riders, some of them from abroad, took part in the 55-mile trek through the Polish countryside last spring, from the infamous death camp to the American-style JCC, which has become a symbol of new Jewish life in the country.

The leaders envisioned the ride as a consciousness raiser, about Poland’s ongoing Jewish revival, and as a fund-raiser, to pay for the aging Polish Jews’ weeklong trip to Israel this year. Many of the participants in the trip, members of the JCC’s Senior Club, set foot in Israel for the first time; for others, it was a last chance.

The now-annual bike ride takes place under the patronage of Michael Schudrich, Poland’s Long Island-born chief rabbi. It was inspired by Robert Desmond, a JCC member who had ridden his bicycle 1,350 miles from London to Auschwitz, stopping at World War liberation sites along the way. He decided that future bike rides should end in a place of life, not death.

Last year’s bikers joined Krakow’s small Jewish community for Shabbat, then took part in the annual 7@NiteFestival, a cultural celebration organized by the Joint Distribution Committee.

04/14/2015 | | Editor And Publisher | The JW Q&A
Isaac Zablocki: Quality of a film, not its political message, is the main criterion.

Isaac Zablocki, 38, plays a key role in determining which Israeli films, and others dealing with the Mideast conflict, are shown in New York. As a result his choices are the subject of praise and criticism, often based more on a viewer’s politics than sense of aesthetics. Born in New York and raised in Israel before settling here, he is director of film programs at the JCC in Manhattan; director and co-founder of the ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, which had a successful run last month; founder and director of the Israel Film Center; and executive director of The Other Israel Film Festival, which seeks to bridge the Arab-Israeli cultural divide through film. Zablocki was interviewed at the JCC. This is an edited transcript.

04/14/2015 | | Travel Writer | Travel
Maya Lin’s black-granite Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery. Wikimedia Commons

The rain came down steadily, at times in torrents, other times in a chilly drizzle under leaden skies. But the legions of marchers on their way from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., to commemorate the recent 50th anniversary of that legendary civil rights march were undaunted by a little precipitation.