Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Visitors are a rare sight for Setegn Mantegbosh. To reach her home, a mud hut off a main road in the eastern part of Ethiopia's capital, you walk down a dirt path in a warren of mud structures, go left, right, then left again. Watch your step: a rare rainstorm in the country's dry season has turned the trail into muck.
This morning, some Western visitors come.
Victor Markowicz, a Siberian-born philanthropist who grew up in Poland and later moved to the United States, spends much of his time these days asking fellow Jewish philanthropists in the U.S. to contribute to a Jewish museum to be built in Warsaw in the next few years.
Markowicz's friends, in turn, ask him something: "Why in Warsaw? Why in Poland?"
Many American Jews (born here or in the Old Country) support the idea of a museum devoted to Jews from Poland, to which a majority of American Jewry can trace their roots.
Warsaw — Since he first came here from Israel 14 years ago to help rebuild Jewish life here in the Polish capital, Yossi Erez has threatened that his retirement, and his return to Israel, was imminent. A Polish-born Jew who made aliyah with his family in 1947 and served as an Israeli Army psychiatrist, Erez served as the Polish representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, training young community leaders and coordinating educational programs and waiting until he wasn’t needed on a daily basis anymore.
That day came two weeks ago.
Lublin, Poland — On the first two nights of Passover, the ground floor of a former medical academy near Lublin’s historic Old City was crowded by early evening with members of the Jewish community. Children played for hours in the hallways while senior citizens schmoozed in a small office. After sundown, joined by other members of the community and a Jewish choir from Warsaw, they filed into a social hall for the seders; afterward, they stayed to play and shmooze some more.
Three days after the Olympic torch in the center of Turin was extinguished last week, marking the end of the XX Winter Olympics, another Olympic torch relay began in the streets of Italy.
This torch is part of the Paralympics (the "parallel Olympics" for the physically challenged) that will be held in Turin and the nearby Alps March 10-19.
The Paralympics, a 56-year-old sporting institution, at first glance are not a Jewish event; few of this year's participating athletes are known to be Jewish.
Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran who was elected on a reformist platform, has described the Holocaust as a "historical reality," a sharp rebuke to statements by his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that the murder of European Jewry was a "myth" used by the West to justify support for Israel.
The Obama administration’s reassessment of U.S. policy in Afghanistan has generated scant interest in a Jewish community preoccupied with Iran. That inattention could prove costly. How America deals with a worsening situation in the Afghan war, now in its eighth year, will affect U.S. options in Iran, the direction of the war on terrorism and a much broader range of foreign policy matters.
Turin, ItalyIsrael's winter Olympians will have to wait at least another four years to make history.
Ice dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovskiy were given the best chance of winning the country's first-ever medals in the Winter Games. They have been ranked among the world's best pairs since 2000 and won several medals at international competitions.
Then Chait fell.
It was quiet this week in Piazza della Repubblica.
In the streets around Republic Square, the center of the growing Arab neighborhood in this city playing host to the Winter Olympics for two weeks, commerce reigned. In the winding alleys, in the warrens of an open-air market, in front of halal food stores and Arabic travel agencies, flocks of bundled-up tourists, some wearing distinctive blue-and-white Israeli warmup jackets, vied for space with TV crews.