Muslims And Jews Spent A Day Of Prayer Together And The Result Was Beautiful
Muslims And Jews Spent A Day Of Prayer Together And The Result Was Beautiful
The British leaders of a major Chasidic sect have declared that women should not be allowed to drive.
In a letter sent out last week, Belz rabbis said that having female drivers goes against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and against the norms of Chasidic institutions.
It added that, from August, children would be barred from their schools if their mothers drove them there.
According to the letter — which was signed by leaders from Belz educational institutions and endorsed by the group’s rabbis — there has been an increased incidence of “mothers of pupils who have started to drive” which has led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions”.
They said that the Belzer Rebbe in Israel, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, has advised them to introduce a policy of not allowing pupils to come to their schools if their mothers drive.
Dina Brawer, UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said that “the instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women. In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic imperative is shameful and disturbing.”
While many Chasidic women do not drive, this is thought to be the first formal declaration against the practice in the UK.
In response to coverage of the story, the local Belz’s women’s organisation Neshei Belz issued a statement to say that they felt “extremely privileged and valued to be part of a community where the highest standards of refinement, morality and dignity are respected. We believe that driving a vehicle is a high pressured activity where our values may be compromised by exposure to selfishness, road-rage, bad language and other inappropriate behaviour.”
This backward trend among all major religions is very disturbing.
The news from Garland, Texas, last week was appalling. Two depraved young men, possibly motivated by ISIS propaganda, opened fire on people at an exhibit of cartoons and caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vicious actions of these criminals. As rabbis, we regard this attack as utterly sinful and indefensible. We commend the law enforcement officers who subdued the assailants, and we pray that the private security guard wounded by the attackers has a speedy and full recovery, body and spirit.
At the same time, we are deeply disturbed by the actions of the organizers of this event: Pamela Geller and her associates at the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative. While we do not dispute Ms. Geller’s First Amendment right to trumpet even the most heinous of views, as Jewish religious leaders we feel compelled to speak out against her decision, in the name of free speech, to publicly insult and demean another religious tradition.
We express solidarity with the many American Muslims who feel wounded by this malicious disregard of their sacred heritage. Further, we are dismayed that a member of the American Jewish community led this incendiary effort. We can only imagine how upset we would be if a group set up a public display of cartoons mocking Jews, offering (as was the case here) a $10,000 prize for the “best” rendering.
Our long history as a persecuted and often taunted minority does not allow us to stand by in silence when such an act is perpetrated against another religious community in our society. Jewish history and teaching compel us to denounce such offensive and inflammatory behavior.
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — Beth Olem Cemetery is like many aging, final resting places, with assorted tombstones in varying condition, sizes and styles, encircled by a brick wall and iron gate.
Yet surrounding it on all sides is an unusual neighbor: a massive automotive plant.
The serene, green oasis is enveloped by the steel and concrete structures and grounds of General Motors Co.’s Detroit Hamtramck Plant, which makes Chevrolet Volts, Cadillacs and other cars. To maintain plant security, public access to the cemetery is limited to a couple days a year — typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover — and some special requests. This year, the opening around Passover was postponed a month until this past Sunday, when a couple dozen people showed up.
The 2.2-acre, 1,100-grave Jewish cemetery with burials ranging from the late 1860s to the late 1940s, has survived through historical quirks. The biggest was an agreement ironed out about 35 years ago to preserve the cemetery when GM got Michigan Supreme Court approval of its contentious bid to demolish roughly 1,500 homes and businesses, several churches and a hospital so it could build a new plant.
Visitors who clear GM security and drive about a mile around the plant are welcomed by an iron arch with partly rusted letters that reads, “BETHOLEM CEMETERY.”
Given the passage of time and infrequent access, cemetery officials say visitors with no connection to the deceased outnumber descendants. Still, Sunday’s guests included Susan Brodsky, who saw for the first time the grave of her great-grandfather, Chlavno Cantor, who died in 1909. The connection was made through her daughter, Olivia Brodsky, who was working on a college genealogy project, then confirmed by an elderly male cousin.
“He said it was in the Cadillac plant,” said Susan Brodsky, standing next to the headstone that read “Cantor” in English and the rest in Yiddish. “At first, I’m sitting there going like, ‘Where? Where? What is he talking about?’ Then I started Googling ‘old Jewish cemeteries in Detroit’ and it was pretty obvious. … This was it.”
The cemetery’s existence isn’t widely known, but those searching online can find some information. Local historic and Jewish organizations as well as a weekly Jewish publication occasionally write about it, and some learned about the cemetery opening from those websites and social media.
In the early 1860s, members of what’s now called Congregation Shaarey Zedek secured the burial ground, according to a 1992 article published by the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. Beth Olem’s bucolic setting soon gained industrial neighbors as the auto industry ascended at the turn of the 20th century. The Jewish community moved in subsequent decades, and the cemetery had fewer burials as other cemeteries opened.
Ralph Zuckman is executive director of Shaarey Zedek’s Clover Hill Park Cemetery, a suburban Detroit cemetery overseeing Beth Olem, which is also spelled Beth Olam and means “house of the universe” or “house of eternity.” He said the synagogue shared oversight with other congregations in the 1980s but assumed full responsibility when it came time to negotiate with GM.
“We realized we had an interest in that cemetery and wanted to make sure it remained,” he said. “In Hebrew, going onto a cemetery property is like walking into a synagogue. You’re walking on holy ground.”
While the arrangement is unconventional, Zuckman described the relationship between the automaker and cemetery officials as “very good.” Some landscaping work and headstone repairs are needed, but the grounds and graves are in generally good shape given their age. Clover Hill Park is responsible and pays for upkeep, though GM has access in case of emergency.
I used to work at GM back in the ‘90’s and frequently performed tech support at the Hamtramck facility. My g-g-grandfather’s obituary in the Detroit News in 1910 said that he was carried to “Beth Olem” on Chene Street so a co-worker and I were allowed into the cemetery.
Here is where the story gets really freaky.
When my youngest (6th) son was born in 1985, we had completely run out of family names. We went over booklets of Baby Names and finally, a week after he was born, we decided on a Hebrew name.
We knew my g-g-grandfather’s name was Louis but we thought his Hebrew name was Isaac since his nickname was “Ike”
But it turned out that his name was Aryeh Leib, the same name we gave our son. (Although now he goes by “Bob”)
On Monday, April 27, President Obama welcomed a delegation from Chabad-Lubavitch into the Oval Office to commemorate Education and Sharing Day, USA. Established by Congress in 1978 to honor the life’s work of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1902-1994), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Education and Sharing Day provides an opportunity to focus on education’s importance and recognize the contributions Rabbi Schneerson made during his lifetime in the fields of education and morality, ethics and justice.
Since the establishment of Education and Sharing Day, which occurs on the Rebbe’s birthday, every President has issued an annual Proclamation marking “Education and Sharing Day, USA”. This year’s Education and Sharing Day Proclamation acknowledges the emphasis Rabbi Schneerson placed on the education of girls, noting: “In an era where a woman’s education was not valued the same as a man’s, the Rebbe worked to tear down barriers that stood in the way of girls who wanted to learn.”
In addition to issuing an annual proclamation, every President since the establishment of Education and Sharing Day has invited a delegation from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement into the Oval Office. The delegation included the leadership of American Friends of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbis Abraham and Levi Shemtov; Rabbi Yossy Gordon from Chabad on Campus; Rebbetzin Chave Hecht, a pioneers in girls’ education who has been teaching for more than 70 years; and Menachem Benjaminson and Chaya Goldstein, two children who are leaders in Chabad-Lubavitch children’s service organization, the Jewish Children’s Corps.
President Obama presented the nine-person delegation with a framed, commemorative copy of this year’s proclamation, which was signed on March 31, 2015, noting his appreciation for the Rebbe’s lifetime of work and recognizing that education is among many shared Jewish and American values - values that have shaped and strengthened his own connection to the Jewish community.
The President called combating rising anti-Semitism a moral obligation and emphasized that he will continue to raise the issue with other world leaders.
Finally, the delegation recited the blessing typically made upon meeting a head of state and presented the President with a menorah bearing an inscription, which reads in part:
Mr. President, you represent the middle flame, which stands on a higher plane, dedicated in service to others and the greater good, carrying the dreams and aspirations of an entire nation upon your shoulders.
Worst. Anti-Semite. Ever.
Oh man, the religious right, is going to hate Brittney Cooper if they ever read this. She debunks the idea that being a Christian means that you will automatically support their extreme hate filled, Un-American agenda. I’ll bet that Bryan Fischer would never consider her a “true Christian” and would persecute her, if he ever got his way. Cooper is not someone people like him would like. She supports genuine religious freedom for people of all faiths, She’s a feminist and she supports the rights of people in our gay and lesbian community to be who they are.
Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, Mike Huckabee (Credit: AP/Reuters/Susan Walsh/Michael Conroy/Joe Skipper/Photo montage by Salon)
Just in time for Holy Week, the State of Indiana has passed a new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law explicitly permits for-profit corporations from practicing the “free exercise of religion” and it allows them to use the “exercise of religion” as a defense against any lawsuits whether from the government or from private entities. The primary narrative against this law has been about the potential ways that small businesses owned by Christians could invoke it as a defense against having to, for instance, sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding.
Any time right-wing conservatives declare that they are trying to restore or reclaim something, we should all be very afraid. Usually, this means the country or, in this case, the state of Indiana is about to be treated to another round of backward time travel, to the supposedly idyllic environs of the 1950s, wherein women, and gays, and blacks knew their respective places and stayed in them. While the unspoken religious subtext of this law is rooted in conservative anxieties over the legalization of same-sex marriage in Indiana, Black people and women, and all the intersections thereof (for instance Black lesbians) should be very afraid of what this new law portends.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby decision that corporations could exercise religious freedom, which means that corporations can deny insurance coverage for birth control. Now this same logic is being used to curtail and abridge the right of gay people to enjoy the same freedoms and legal protections that heterosexual citizens enjoy.
Berlin - Rabbis and Imams biked together throughout Berlin Sunday evening in a show of solidarity between Jews and Muslims.
The group took part in Bicycle Week with the motto “Cycling Unites,” riding tandem bicycles with one rabbi and one imam on each bike, reports the Berliner (bit.ly ).
Cyclists started at the Brandenburg Gate and visited Jewish and Muslim institutions throughout the ride.
Project meet2respect, a campaign that promotes bringing together different faiths and providing education, with a specific focus on bringing together Jewish and Muslim faiths, led the ride (bit.ly ).
Cyclists Ferid Heider, an imam in various Berlin mosque communities, and Daniel Alter, a Berlin rabbi, work together via meet2respect and tour education and community events in Berlin promoting peace.
Hundreds of cyclists joined the rabbis and imams in the ride and followed them on their tour.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -
A man is facing charges after harassing a rabbi outside the Ohev Shalom Congregation in Miami Beach, police said.
According to the arrest report, Diego Chaar, 24, first yelled out “Allahu akbar,” which is translated from Arabic as “God is great” or “God is greater.”
Police said the Rabbi David Weberman and a witness ignored Chaar, at which point he yelled, “Heads will be cut off” and “I will cut your head off.”
The victim feared for his life at that point and called 911. The witness followed Chaar in his vehicle while the victim followed him on foot. Police officers located the suspect hiding behind a car, filled out an incident report and released him at the scene.
The report states Chaar walked by the synagogue again and again began to scream “Allahu akbar.” Police were called for a second time, at which point Chaar was taken into custody.
Local 10 News reporter Roger Lohse spoke to Chaar, who admitted saying “Allahu akbar” but said he never threatened anyone.
“This is not a hate crime,” Chaar said. “This has nothing to do with them being Jewish. I just want to help them find peace within themselves.”
Chaar said he converted to Islam three years ago while serving time in prison on drug charges.
“Christians say ‘Jesus saves’ all day, every day,” Chaar said. “I was a Christian before until I converted. I’m trying to convert these people, but they seem scared. They want to be scared. They want to call the police.”
Chaar said the allegations that he threatened them are a lie.
“There’s no proof I said I was going to cut their heads off,” Chaar said.
Lohse asked Chaar why he would scream “Allahu akbar” in the first place.
“Because I don’t want them to burn in eternal hell forever,” Chaar said. “I want to help. They’re good people.”
Religion—you’re doing it wrong.
DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.
A Letter to Ish Entertainment and the Producers of “Kosher Soul”:
I got a tweet Monday night I should probably pass on to you:
I was mortified. It’s official, the thing I have railed against in my crusade for culinary and cultural justice had come for me: my name, established long before someone got the bright idea for a merger of ethnic stereotypes, has been compromised by your “sense” of “koshersoul.”
Appropriation—the big word that seems to have been repeatedly hurled from London to Tokyo—un-reciprocated and unwelcome borrowing, or if you will outright theft of the cultural and artistic production of “others” seems too obvious to even whisper here so I will leave it up to my readers to decide whether you in bad faith decided to nab my moniker for your own purposes or if you just carelessly decided to ignore my work when naming your program.
The “others” I mention above are we the people who in our struggles to make this a more perfect Union, are often marginalized and robbed of our ability to rise and achieve by being denied the same platform as those appropriating our creations. There is a difference between respectful quoting, acknowledging sources and origins and sharing words, genres, styles and modes on the one hand and lifting them wholesale and using them in ways that diminish and demean originators.
The promo trailer for “Kosher Soul” shows a classic collision of cultures- and who could be more different than “the Blacks” and “the Jews?” What could be funnier than a Black man passing out from the sacred ritual of hatafat-dam-brit (blood drop circumcision)? Ooh his baseball cap says “Kosher” in thug motif! Her mother is skeptical, the Jews and their customs are so bizarre that it’s a guilty pleasure you can’t wait to shmear your eyes with. Goodness gracious glory be to Hashem-this TV show sho’ do “look so funny.” (How easy the sarcasm flows…)
Because it “look so funny,” (sic) things will be slow to change. We will go on believing that to be Black is monolithic and to be Jewish only means Ashkenazi; or that Blacks have to be invited into Jewish civilization, not that we have always been a part of it from the Jews of Ethiopia to Harlem synagogues in the 1920’s and far beyond. Despite this we we have to remind the entertainment media that we’ve done this stereotype/archetype game before, it’s so tired, so boring, so basic. In the shadow of Ferguson, in the clearing haze of the Chapel Hill shooting, television seems to have abdicated making cross-cultural understanding possible in exchange for preserving Old World demons and New World canards. Because the world believes what it sees, and perception “is reality,” it means that real people suffer because their vision and their truth rarely make it to the screen or page.
Michael Twitty’s eloquent response to his carefully-nurtured unique cultural heritage being misappropriated and ridiculed by an idiotic sitcom full of lame stereotypes is simply heartbreaking.
When Michael Twitty was growing up outside Washington, D.C., the treat in his house every weekend was challah—a taste his Lutheran mother developed during her childhood in Cincinnati, where the only baker open on Sundays was Jewish. When Twitty was 7, after seeing the film adaptation of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, he informed his mother that he was Jewish. She humored him for a week, before warning him that he’d need another circumcision if he really wanted to be Jewish. Twitty backed down, for the time being.
But his attraction to Judaism, and Jewish food, remained. At his Jewish friends’ homes, he would seek out the grandmothers, because they were the ones feeding him. Watching their hands, he would learn their recipes—and the differences between various Jewish communities. As Twitty grew older, he wanted to connect more deeply with Judaism.
After college, Twitty was working as an intern at the Smithsonian, and he was tasked with developing “Jewish foodways” programming for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He approached Jewish cooking expert (and Tablet contributor) Joan Nathan for help. One day, she sent Twitty to a Sephardic synagogue—Magen David in suburban Maryland—in search of a recipe. The first person he saw there was a young African-American man like himself. “That was an ot, a sign,” Twitty told me recently. He didn’t initially intend to convert, but slowly became part of the synagogue’s community, which was particularly welcoming to people of color. About two years later, when he was 25, he went to the mikveh and completed an Orthodox conversion.
At 37, Twitty wears a yarmulke and tzitzit, and he’s taught at Hebrew schools across the religious spectrum. And he has carved out an idiosyncratic culinary niche for himself, concocting fresh fusions that bring together elements of African-American and Jewish cuisine, and sharing his ideas around the world. “I am so glad that Michael has had the strength to pursue his passion,” Nathan said in an email. “I am glad that he found his own voice.”
When I met Twitty in Israel last month, he was a guest of the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s Delicatessen Culinary Festival, where he gave a talk about “Afro-Sephashkenazi” cuisine and led a master class on kosher soul food. (This was before his widely reported, infuriating and humiliating experience at Ben-Gurion Airport security, when he was trying to board his flight back to the States.) Next weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he’ll prepare a Shabbat dinner of BBQ chicken and matzo ball gumbo for some 200 attendees at Congregation Beth Emeth in Northern Virginia, to be followed by Shabbat services featuring music by Joshua Nelson, the “prince of kosher gospel music,” who’ll give a full concert the next day. And in March, Twitty will give a lecture on “Kosher/Soul” at the San Francisco JCC. He also writes the blog Afroculinaria and has a book forthcoming from HarperCollins next year.
In addition, Twitty regularly holds cooking events at historical plantations in the South where, in full period dress, he recreates the food his enslaved ancestors once ate, demonstrating the huge debt Southern cuisine owes to African Americans. In Jerusalem, he told me about the unexpected Jewish parallels: “There’s not a thing that the Southern white folk did that black men and women did not touch, influence, revolutionize to the point that they did not know where they began and we ended,” he said. “And it’s the same thing with Yehudim. You can’t throw a stone in Europe without finding the Jewish influence, or Jewish genes. It’s funny how people that are oppressed tend to end up being everywhere and everything. You can’t get rid of us, you can’t put us down. We use our food to empower ourselves. What I do with kosher soul food is combine the survival gene in the Jews with the survival gene in black folk, and I make it work.”
Combining Jewish cuisine with African-American cooking yields some unexpected recipes. “I just mix it all up,” said Twitty. “The Jewish and African diasporas are all around the world, so you have this amazing access to almost every cuisine the human race has to offer. I make Senegalese chicken soup with peanut butter and matzo balls. The spices give it the context of Shabbos or Yom Tov.” He rattled off more combinations: roast chicken with the Nigerian spice suya, fried chicken with matzo meal, black-eyed peas and kishke. For a larger meal, he makes a kosher spin on feijoada, the Afro-Brazilian stew. For dessert, he’ll bake sweet potato rugelach, or hamantaschen with teacake dough; instead of poppy seeds and apricots, he uses sesame candy, peach preserves, and blackberry preserves all mashed together.
Follow Michael Twitty @KosherSoul