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
In France, the projects don’t look like ghettoes, but they’re filled with a poisonous mix of conspiracy theories and a some support for murderous jihadis.
SEVRAN, France — As more than 1.5 million people, including 40 world leaders, converged on Paris on Sunday to rally for unity after terrorist attacks that left 17 innocent people dead, three young men in tracksuits and hoodies lounged outside a fast-food restaurant 10 miles north of the city in Sevran, one of France’s poorest suburbs.
Mehdi Boular, 24, who said he was married with two children, and two of his friends, did not attend Sunday’s rally.
“We’re Muslims,” Boular said. “They might have killed us if we’d gone.”
But even though the flags of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia were flying at the rally in Place de la République and Muslims were well represented among the marchers Sunday, Boular said the attacks in Paris were part of a plot masterminded by Jewish conspirators.
“The Kalashnikovs, the identity cards the [killers] supposedly left behind, it was all staged,” said Boular, as his friends nodded in agreement. “It was a conspiracy designed by the Jews to make Muslims look bad. We’d rather just stay where we are.”
No use arguing. No use pointing out that one of the terrorists murdered four Jews. Conspiracy theories have their own unassailable logic, and this is a world apart from the displays of unity in Paris after the carnage of last week. French newspapers reported that some students in these neighborhoods—as well as other heavily Muslim areas near cities like Lille—refused to participate in Thursday’s national moment of silence for the victims of the terror attacks. One teacher said up to 80 percent of his students didn’t want to observe the silence, and some said they supported the attackers. “You reap what you sow,” a student who refused the moment of silence told his teacher in reference to the terrorists’ victims, according to Le Figaro.
Sevran is one of the many notorious banlieues just outside Paris that are home largely to second- and third-generation immigrants from former French colonies in North and West Africa. The town is studded with cement and brick public housing, mostly built in the 1960s and ’70s. Unemployment rates are as high as 35 to 40 percent. Sevran often is lumped in with places like Saint-Denis and nearby Clichy-sous-Bois, the epicenter of weeks of rioting and car burning in 2005. Riots here back in the summer of 1981 led to some of the first mass demonstrations to illustrate the plight of immigrant Algerians, Tunisians, and Moroccans in France.
The 19th arrondissement in Paris has also become synonymous with immigrant frustration and despair after it became known that the Kouachi brothers, Chérif and Saïd, who died in a hail of gunfire last week after killing 12 people, including eight journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, moved there as teenagers and were recruited by a jihadi network. Born in France, the Kouachis were the orphaned sons of Algerian parents.
The popular narrative is that France’s minority populations, specifically those of North African descent, are marginalized and isolated in what are invariably called “gritty,” or “hardscrabble” areas. Shunned by the French majority, reports often say, the children of North African immigrants are frustrated and resentful because they are blocked from traditional routes of advancement.
But many of the Parisian banlieues appear to an outsider much tamer than gun-ridden American ghettoes and bear no resemblance to, say, a typical favela in Rio de Janeiro or the mafia-run Scampia ghetto in Naples. Much of the 19th arrondissement in Paris, where Cherif Kouachi joined the Buttes-Chaumont terror network 10 years ago, looks about as rundown and sketchy today as Brooklyn’s Park Slope.
This delightful quote is included:
On Christmas Eve, Christians will be gathering with families, feasting and opening presents and maybe even attending church services. Meanwhile, what will Jews be doing? Some will be tearing toilet paper. In a 2009 piece, Benyamin Cohen explained the history of Nittel Nacht. The article is reprinted below.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, Jews were playing dreidel, being celibate, and tearing toilet paper. Allow me to explain. Please.
The Jewish community has long had a tense relationship with Christmas. You wouldn’t know it by the two main customs observed by many 21st-century Jews on Dec. 25: eating Chinese food and being the first to see the Christmas blockbuster. But less well-known are the more historic—and, to be blunt, more bizarre—Christmas Eve customs that Jewish communities have kept secret, even from most Jews. As a public service announcement, I’m here to let you in on what the rabbis thought about Christmas Eve. Gather round, little ones. This is a scary tale.
The Talmud, with its share of rabbinic repudiations against Jesus, was never a big fan of Christmas. Call it the Grinch. Indeed, the rabbis looked at it as a day of mourning—perhaps due to the suffering that Jews encountered in Jesus’ name throughout history. And Christmas Eve—named “Nittel Nacht” by Jewish scholars in the 17th century—took on a life of its own. Some Jewish mystics were under the impression that many apostates were conceived on Christmas Eve (which is one reason the rabbis forbade sex on Dec. 24; more on that later). In Europe, the Jewish community was victim of more acts of violence on this night. All in all, it didn’t end up being a festive evening for Jews.
And so the rabbis decreed that the public study hall be closed and that no Torah learning take place on this night. I guess it’s our version of “Silent Night”—literally. The edict came about partially because of pogroms, but the leaders were also concerned about the popularly held belief in Judaism that studying the Torah brings spiritual benefit to the world at large. Many didn’t want to make this positive contribution on what they considered a “pagan” night.
Although there is no exact demarcation as to the genesis of this odd holiday, the renowned Talmudist Rabbi Samuel Eides (commonly known as the Mahrasha in Torah circles) observed Nittel Nacht as early as the late 1500s. The Baal Shem Tov, a famous Jewish mystic and the founder of Hasidism, popularized the holiday in the 1700s. Many rabbis after him added on their own special rules. By the mid-1900s, when Judeo-Christian relations matured, the Christmas Eve customs fell mostly by the wayside as the Jewish community wanted to show their support for their Christian neighbors. While there are still some Orthodox groups that observe Nittel Nacht, these are not widespread customs among modern Jews. Indeed, in doing research for this article, I found that asking for information on Nittel Nacht was sort of equivalent to asking for directions to the nearest Freemasonry.
Although Torah study was forbidden, some privately studied what’s called Toledot Yeshu—a medieval manuscript that tells the story of Jesus from a non-Christian perspective. A few didn’t even sleep on Christmas Eve for fear that they might dream about Torah study. It’s probably the only time the rabbis would prefer visions of sugarplums dancing in your head. Hassidic legend says that dogs, often and quizzically seen in ancient Jewish texts as a symbol of evil, appear to those who study Torah on this night.
Beautiful photos of Menorahs around the world.
EUROPE’S LARGEST MENORAH, IN GERMANY:
VICIOUS BABUSHKA’S FAMILY MENORAH
Over the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jews across America, Israel, and the world will remember an ancient triumph of freedom over oppression, and renew their faith in the possibility of miracles large and small.
Even in the darkest, shortest days of winter, the Festival of Lights brims with possibility and hope. The courage of the Maccabees reminds us that we too can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. The candles of the Menorah remind us that even the smallest light has the power to shine through the darkness. And the miracle at the heart of Hanukkah – the oil that lasted for eight nights instead of only one – reminds us that even when the future is uncertain, our best days are yet to come.
May this Hanukkah embolden us to do what is right, shine a light on the miracles we enjoy, and kindle in all of us the desire to share those miracles with others. From my family to yours, Chag Sameach.
Here’s the original tweet I saw that alerted me to this story, The picture was not included in the article.
I’m glad Adam Everett Livix was caught. who knows how many innocent lives had been saved. Certainly this terrorist attack had it been successful would have been another sad addition to the Palestinian Israeli conflict.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel says it has indicted a 30-year-old American Christian for plotting to blow up Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.
The Ministry of Justice said Tuesday that a court had indicted Adam Everett Livix in connection with the plot.
It said that Livix had cooperated with his roommate, a serving soldier in the Israeli military, to obtain 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) of explosive material to use to blow up the unidentified Jerusalem holy places. The ministry said the plot was discovered by a police agent in October.
It said that Livix was indicted on Monday and is currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
Livix’s indictment comes at a time of rising tensions in Jerusalem, mostly over a disputed holy site that is holy both to Muslims and Jews.
Jerusalem - Clergy representing Christians, Jews and Muslims met Wednesday near the Jerusalem synagogue where five people died in a grisly Palestinian attack to plead for tolerance amid spiking regional tensions.
The group stood in a sun-dappled courtyard outside the synagogue where two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers, knives and a pistol killed four worshippers and a policeman Tuesday. After a brief gun battle, security forces shot the assailants dead.
Absent from the meeting were Muslim authorities from Jerusalem and senior Israeli rabbis. [VB: Except here is a photo of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Imam Mohammed Kiwan==>]
“People from all religions which are here in the Holy Land want to express the common belief that this is not the way,” said Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli legislator who is active in interfaith efforts. “We can have our differences, political differences, our religious differences, but this is not the way.”
Melchior’s moderation seems an increasingly scarce commodity in this region, which in recent weeks has been riven by religious tensions. During that time 11 people have died at the hands of Palestinian attackers — most in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.
The ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood is uniting to mourn the Druze police officer killed in the terror attack at a synagogue on Tuesday.
Postings on social media are urging ultra-Orthodox community members to attend the funeral of Zidan Nahad Seif, who was critically wounded while trying to stop the attack at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue.
Seif succumbed to his wounds after being hospitalized in critical condition and his funeral is scheduled to take place Wednesday at 2 P.M. in his Western Galilee village of Yanuh-Jat.
At least one bus departed from the Jerusalem International Convention Center at 12 P.M. that was carrying mourners to Seif’s funeral.
“We are asking anyone from the ultra-Orthodox community who is able to attend the funeral of the police officer who protected our praying brothers with his body,” the post on social media read. “Come show him your gratitude,” it added, describing his actions - being killed while protecting Jewish worshipers - as kiddush hashem.
Ariella Sternbuch, one of the organizers of the drive to honor Seif, told Walla! news that she was touched by a photograph of him with his baby daughter. “I was moved by the thought that he chose to sacrifice his life for the Jewish people,” she said. “Haredim [ultra-Orthodox Jews], who were the main victims of this attack, should come pay him their last respects.”