While the last several thousand Falash Mura — Ethiopians with Jewish roots — in Africa await entry into the Promised Land, Ethiopian Jews already in Israel took to the country’s streets last week to protest what they consider growing signs of racism.
The framed posters on the walls of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, now part of history, were the face of social activism in this country a generation ago.
During the height of the Soviet Jewry movement in the 1970s and ‘80s, the signs demanding that the USSR grant its Jewish population the right to live and leave as Jews were carried in protest demonstrations around the United States and mounted on the walls of synagogues and Hillels and other Jewish institutions.
Before Jan. 20, 1942, the name Wannsee meant luxury in Germany.
It was the name of a lake with a bordering beach in a Berlin suburb, where the country’s upscale citizens vacationed.
Since that date, the name means tragedy.
An infamous conference of 15 top Nazi officials, who came together that day to make “necessary preparations in regard to organizational, practical and material measures requisite for the total solution of the Jewish question in Europe,” took place at 56-58 Am Grossen Wannsee, across from the beach.
Fifty years after Israel — for the only time in its history — imposed the death penalty, some never-before-seen artifacts about the life and death of Adolf Eichmann went on public exhibit there.
“Revealing the Operation to Capture Eichmann,” at the entrance to the Knesset before it moves to the Museum of Jewish People on the campus of Tel Aviv University, includes the bulletproof glass booth in which Eichmann, the “Architect of the Holocaust,” sat during his trial in 1961.
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, senior spiritual leader of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue, has blessed uncounted congregants during his decades as a pulpit rabbi.
One recent afternoon he had the chance — for the first time — to bless some dogs and cats. And other animals.
Rabbi Rubinstein lent an interfaith aspect to the annual Blessing of the Animals at Christ Church on the East Side, sponsored by the ASPCA, Live Oak Bank and newspaper columnist/animal lover Cindy Adams.
Fifty Jewish kids with cancer spent a few days in Orlando, Fla., last week under the auspices of Brooklyn-based Ohr Meir (ohrmeir.org), an 18-year-old organization named for Meir Friedman, a child who lost his life to leukemia. Ohr is Hebrew for “light.”
But last week’s trip could be called Ohr Mickey. As in Mickey Mouse.
The roots of the Ethiopian Jews’ Sigd holiday — it may date back to the sixth or 15th century — are shrouded in mystery, but its celebration now is contemporary. Marked 50 days after Yom Kippur in remembrance of the date, according to Ethiopian belief, when God first revealed Himself to Moses, Sigd was observed in Ethiopia with fasting and praying on a mountaintop.
Its official name is the Forest Hills Spa, but to most of the people who come to the small building on a Corona side street for a massage or a shvitz, it’s the Russian banya.
That’s Russian for steam bath.
The spa, one of a half-dozen such vestiges of the former Soviet Union in New York City, is a reminder of home for the émigrés who grew up with frequent visits to a banya, where they would lie on wooden benches while steam rose from water poured over hot rocks and a masseuse would flay away with leafy branches.
Murray Koppelman, a money manager who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, visited the Iranian city of Isfahan recently on a “pleasure trip,” went to the city’s main synagogue for Friday night Shabbat services and photographed this scene of Iranian Jewish life shortly before sundown.
At the bima, in the traditional Iranian sanctuary of the Yaakov Synagogue, one of three Jewish houses of worship he visited in Isfahan, stands a young member of the congregation.