Special Sections

Unabsorbed

Late last year Israel accepted what’s set to be the final wave of Ethiopian immigrants. But the country is still struggling to integrate the 120,000 who’ve arrived over the past three decades.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

Malkamu Chani spent 10 years in a camp in Gondar, Ethiopia, waiting for permission to move to Israel. In early January, he finally flew to the Promised Land and moved with his wife and child to a spare, two-room immigrant-housing apartmet in Mevaseret Zion outside Jerusalem. His neighborhood was a sea of clotheslines strung across modest backyards. The acrid smell of green coffee beans roasting in nonstick frying pans filled the tiny space that serves as his living room and kitchen.

Activities at a JDC-sponsored day camp for Ethiopian olim, Israel, 1991. Courtesy of the  American Jewish Joint Distribution Com

Thou Shalt Not Curse The Deaf

One woman’s struggle to make Jewish life accessible for herself and others.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

I was fortunate to be born into a Jewish family with three generations of deaf members. Both of my parents are deaf, as were my paternal grandparents. This was an ideal situation for a deaf child, as I considered myself fortunate to have parents who made sure I had full access to language through sign language at home. Given that I was a typical member of my family, I considered myself the same as everyone else.

Harriet Finck One Thing I Have Asked, 2011, acrylic paint on paper and collage, 4’6”x 5’.

Silent Minority

How Jewish tradition marginalized the deaf.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

In July 1936, one of Warsaw’s Yiddish dailies, Moment, described the wedding of two Jewish deaf-mutes. An arranged marriage of a well educated boy from an affluent family to a “poor, but beautiful” bride, the story made special note that the groom’s parents, who owned a successful hat-making company, had a “strange pall hanging over them.” All three of their children were unable to hear or to speak.

Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The Convert’s Contribution

A Jew by choice brings a needed outsider’s perspective to the community.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

Last week when I went to the Israeli consulate to get a visa for my upcoming trip to Israel, the security guard, after taking in my kipa and tzitzit, asked me “Atah yehudi?” Are you Jewish? On my replying “bevadai,” of course, he persisted in asking “Atah yehudi mimakor?” “Were you born Jewish?”

Harriet Finck, Round the Mountain II, 2010, acrylic paint on paper and collage, 6’ 6”x 4’ 6”.

Let My People In

Is the Jewish community changing its attitude and actions toward people with disabilities?
07/04/2011 - 20:00

‘I am disability incarnate,” she states in her self-described, “cerebral palsy accent,” whose honeyed, faintly plaintive tone belies her blunt proclamation. She gets around in a motorized wheelchair. She frets about Access-A-Ride’s frequently unreliable pickup times.

But Sharon Shapiro-Lacks doesn’t want your chesed.

Israel Day Parade, 2011. PHOTO: Michael datikash

Jews of Many Colors

Intermarriage, conversion and adoption are creating an ever more racially diverse Tribe.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

At the end of the 19th century, members of the Jewish establishment in America — mostly Jews of central European origin — took aim in the pages of the Jewish press at another group of Jews who had more recently arrived on the scene and whose appearance, customs and habits seemed totally foreign to their Jewish sensibilities.

Religious studies. Yemen, 1992. Courtesy of the  American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

’A Nation Unto Themselves’

The ’othering’ of women has left its mark on contemporary Judaism.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

In the feminist classic, “The Second Sex,” Simone de Beauvoir, the French feminist writer, opined that men cast women in the role of the Other. That “othering” emphasized the differences between men and women who might otherwise be categorized simply as “human.” Since “othering” is a means of constituting self-identity, it generally results in one seeing oneself as the norm and the Other as deviant. Thus for de Beauvoir, women would always be the deviant “second sex” as long as “male” was the norm.

From Elisha Ben Abuyah To Morris, The Golfer

Hearing the voice of the Other.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

As I checked in to the Florida hotel the day before Rosh HaShanah, the manager looked suspiciously at the large, spiral shofar in my bag. I explained what it was, told him I was a rabbinical student there to lead High Holy Day services at the local temple and mentioned that I would need to practice. He was quick to suggest that I use the golf course behind the hotel. Maimonides teaches that the shofar is intended as an alarm, to wake us from the slumber of our sins. For the hotel manager, though, this wasn’t quite the wake-up call he had in mind for his other guests.

Bette Alexander Human Condition #1, 2010, oil stick and oil paint on paper, 24” x 30”.

Editor’s Note

07/04/2011 - 20:00

For those who prefer their summer reading to be provocative, we chose to wrestle with some challenging questions. We look at how those Jews who may not be like everyone else, who are considered “other” for any number of reasons, are viewed by the community, and we also explore their self-perceptions.

HARRIETT FINCK. Summer, 2006, paint on paper  collage, 14” x 10”

Lighting A Candle For Sammy Davis Jr.

A half-century after the black singer’s conversion, the post-ethnic Judaism by choice he represented is in full flower.
07/04/2011 - 20:00

Late in the spring of 2010, just about the time of his yahrzeit, Sammy Davis Jr.’s menorah went up for auction. It was a silver menorah, given to Davis in 1965 by the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation in New York. The owner, a collector of Judaica, had set a bidding floor of $10,000. Yet when the day of the auction arrived, only two potential buyers pursued it, and the highest offer came in at $8,500. So the menorah headed back into a safe-deposit box, and the whole episode took on a pathetic cast.

ISAAC PETERSON Hymn, 2000, enamel and mixed media on canvas, 96”x 72”.
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