Monthly Archives: April 2010

This Week’s Links

By Michelle Albert

  • Four car bombs exploded in front of Shiite mosques in Baghdad this morning, killing 39 people and wounding 54.
  • The Rabbinical Council of America is meeting this Sunday to discuss the possibility of female leadership in Orthodox synagogues. This comes a few months after a woman was almost ordained as a rabbi by one of the RCA’s members.
  • The XX Factor reviews Sarah Silverman’s new book, The Bedwetter.
  • England’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, answers questions about dealing with anti-Semitism on university campuses, Israeli use of British passports in Dubai and how he feels about being the first British Prime Minister to address the Knesset.
  • Berlin’s Free University has launched an Internet database documenting more than 20,000 works of art deemed “degenerate” by the Nazis and removed from German museums in 1937.
  • In honor of Israel’s 62nd birthday, the Israeli army marched in a formation resembling Zionist founder Theodor Herzl’s head.

Facebook Fan Giveaway!

Facebook Fan Giveaway: Win a Free Copy Of “Pictures At An Exhibition” by Sara Houghteling, winner of our emerging writer award!

Our first in a series of giveaways to celebrate our 35th anniversary, become a fan of Moment by next Friday (April 30) and be entered in our Facebook Fan lottery to win this amazing novel. Moment will send 3 lucky winners the book free of charge (note: only to US addresses).

So spread the word to friends and family. Become a Fan today for your chance to win!

Drawn from the real-life stories of France’s distinguished art-dealing families, Pictures at an Exhibition recounts Max Berenzon’s quest to recover his art dealer father’s collection of fine paintings in the aftermath of the Nazi’s occupation of Paris.  After emerging from hiding in the south of France, Max quickly becomes obsessed with locating the lost canvases, convinced his success will finally prompt his father to grant him inheritance of the family’s gallery.  As he navigates the torn postwar city in search of both his family’s masterpieces and his longtime love, Max discovers the tragic disappearance of his closest friend and reveals the truth behind a long kept family secret.

An Anne Frank for the 21st Century

By Symi Rom-Rymer

For Yom Hashoah this year, PBS devoted a week to films with Jewish themes. Among its many offerings was a revised and “most accurate-ever” adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank.  My initial reaction, I admit, was skepticism.  First of all, done as a tele-play (even by Masterpiece Theater which I love), I was afraid it would be heavy on the schmaltz and light on depth.  But more importantly, I wondered why we needed a new version of what is probably the most well-known story to come out of the Holocaust. Continue reading

This Week’s Links

By Michelle Albert

  • Now that Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court’s only Protestant member, has resigned, who will take his place on the bench? The New York Times shortlisted two Jews and another Protestant.
  • Palestinians from Jerusalem and Palestinians from the West Bank who marry must live in Kufr Aqab, the equivalent of a dusty, somewhat neglected no-man’s land, though technically part of Jerusalem.
  • Jewish rapper Y-Love teamed up with beatbox star Yuri Lane to create an album with tracks for each week of Sefira, the time between Passover and Shavuot. The all-vocal album will enable Jews who do not listen to live music over those seven weeks to get their groove on.
  • South African Judge Richard Goldstone, the former head of the UN commission that investigated last year’s Gaza war, will not attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah. Jewish groups have threatened to protest outside the synagogue during the bar mitzvah if Goldstone attends.
  • The local, sustainable, organic food crowd is revamping New York’s Jewish delis, one pastrami sandwich at a time.
  • Hasidic Jews and hipsters battle for space in Brooklyn.
  • And the strangest thing to read on the internet: Holocaust fanfiction.

Shtetl Life Reexamined

By Symi Rom-Rymer

A picture is worth a thousand words, so goes the old cliché.  But as Alana Newhouse’s recently published New York Times article on Roman Vishniac demonstrates, what that picture is actually saying is often more complicated than it seems.

Her piece focuses on Vishniac’s “A Vanished World,” a pictorial representation of pre-World War II Jewish life in Eastern Europe.  Or at least, that’s how it was marketed and sold.  But through Newhouse’s piece, we come to learn that the photos used in the book showed only one part (the poor and the religious) of that world.  They did not, as Vishniac claimed, represent the totality of shtetl life.  Instead, these photos were taken so that the Joint Distribution Committee–a committee that worked on behalf of impoverished and persecuted Jews around the world–could fund-raise. Continue reading

The Modern-Day Isaiah

By Ben Ganzfried

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (Isaiah 40).

So begins the film, “Making the Crooked Straight,” (airing on April 14, on HBO2) which offers many examples of patients who Dr. Rick Hodes—a modern day Isaiah– has helped in Ethiopia.  The movie provides powerful images and stories of Rick Hodes’ battle against disease, poverty, and despair.  Told from the perspective of Dr. Hodes’ encounters with patients, “Making the Crooked Straight” shows how one man can have a tremendous impact on many lives.

The movie offers many poignant stories.  From the many young kids that Rick Hodes adopted so he could put them on his health insurance plan, to his treatment of young kids with TB of the spine, to the interfaith Shabbat gathering that Hodes hosts in his home—the movie is rife with themes of tikkun olam, menschlakeit, and our shared common humanity. Continue reading

This Week’s Links

By Michelle Albert

Gay Memorial… Just for the Guys?

By Talia Ran

When taught about the Holocaust, we are asked to never forget those who lost their lives during such a tragic time.  However, for some scholars, remembering certain groups may distort history.

According to a recent article by the Sydney Morning Herald, there are Holocaust scholars against a bid to include images of lesbians kissing as part of a Berlin monument dedicated to the thousands of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis.

The current memorial, created in May 2008, is a single concrete pillar with a small window, behind which a video of two men joined in a “never-ending” kiss.  Original plans were for the loop to run continuously for two years, after which it will be replaced by a video of two women.

According to a statement by Alexander Zinn, a board member of the foundation that maintains the former Nazi concentration camps near Berlin, such a move would distort history as there were no known Holocaust victims targeted for being lesbians.

Zinn continues,

Historical truth must remain the focus…Research shows that the persecution of lesbian women by the Nazi regime was not comparable to that of homosexual men.

Zinn’s argument begs the question: Huh? Continue reading

Seders, and the Last Supper, and Jesus! Oh, My!

By Michelle Albert

A recent article on Slate raises the question of a possible connection between the Last Supper and Passover, dredging up a long-standing source for argument and speculation.

On the surface, and indeed to many Jews and Christians, the Last Supper seems to have been a seder. It is generally acknowledged that Jesus was Jewish; in fact, early Christians had to be Jews before they could be Christian. At the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples said blessings over the bread and wine and reclined as they ate. (Though that they ate bread, not matzah, is one mark against the correlation). Three of the four gospels, those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, state that the Last Supper happened after the start of Passover.

We know that the Last Supper and the resurrection happened around Passover – the proximity of Passover and Easter attests to that. But there is plenty of debate whether the Last Supper happened either before Passover started, or on the first night. The fourth gospel, that of John, dates the day before Passover (when the Jews were preparing for Passover) as the time of the crucifixion. And Jesus’ actions, though reminiscent of Passover tradition, also match up with what was done at most Jewish tables at the time. (And remember: bread, not matzah). Continue reading

This Week’s Links

By Michelle Albert

  • President Obama walked out of a dinner at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Petulance and politics probably aren’t a good mix.
  • A Palestinian man who tried to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000 was recently convicted of a hate crime. Though the building was the target, the judge presiding over the case deemed that the real victim was the synagogue’s congregation.
  • War games simulations at the Brookings Institution focused on the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.
  • Axum, an Israeli/Ethiopian/Moroccan hip-hop group, is bringing da jewish funk to the south with a tour of Hillels, Jewish Day Schools and Jewish centers in Georgia.
  • Genetics could be the reason why your Ashkenazi bubbe is 98 years old and still dancing the hora.