At this time of year you are probably getting used to hearing Happy New Year, Shana tova, and the words Rosh Hashanah bandied about and wondering what is this exactly. Rosh Hashana is a combination of penance and joy. It is hard to explain so I will share a short (2 1/2 min.) video I recently discovered that explains this weird holiday, and also contains the blowing of the shofar – the ram’s horn – which I will talk more about after the video.
Now you are probably wondering what is the meaning of the shofar? The shofar is a ram’s horn which is reminiscent of human vocal expression and is supposed to awaken us to do the work of self-evaluation and introspection regarding the world and our place in it during the month prior to Rosh Hashanah, and also integral to the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) services. And by the way it’s harder to get a sound out of it than it looks. (Yes I tried and failed). But here are some examples of people who succeeded.
The longest shofar blast.
And a totally new initiative, the shofar flash mob, groups who got together at different places in the world to blow shofar together.
And last but not least, here is an adorable video of my nieces and nephew wishing you all a happy Rosh Hashanah. Shana Tova!
I have written many posts about antisemitism because it is so infuriating. Lies about Jews and Judaism and Israel spoken with authority, such that one is easily deceived.
Here is a brief history by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.that I am reprinting so that you can never say that you were not warned.
Antisemitism is a form of senseless irrational hatred towards Jews couched as truth. And that is the infuriating aspect of it that it is no longer politically incorrect to espouse antisemitic views, longstanding irrational hatreds against Jews.
What are these irrational ideas about Jews? Is it true that all blacks are lazy? Is it true that all Jews are rich? that Jews control the media and US foreign policy. That jews are treacherous and disloyal? That Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzo on Passover? Many people in the world in the past and the present espouse these beliefs about Jews.
If Jews are so rich and so powerful, how did Hitler manage to murder 6 million of them in such a short space of time? and what is this obsession with Israel described as an immoral, apartheid driven genocidal entity? Why did an obscure academic organization called the American Studies Association recently vote to endorse a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli universities. The self-appointed moralists were purportedly outraged over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Given academia’s past obsessions with the Jewish state, the targeting of Israel is not new. Yet why do the professors focus on Israel and not Saudi Arabia, which denies women the right to drive and only recently granted them the right to vote? Why not Russia, which has been accused of suppressing free speech, or India, which has passed retrograde anti-homosexual legislation? The hip poet Amiri Baraka (aka Everett LeRoi Jones) recently died. He was once poet laureate of New Jersey, held prestigious university posts and was canonized with awards — despite being a hateful anti-Semite. After Sept. 11, 2001, Baraka wrote a poem that suggested Israel knew about the plan to attack the World Trade Center. One of his poems from the ‘60s included this unabashedly anti-Semitic passage: “Smile, jew. Dance, jew. Tell me you love me, jew … I got the extermination blues, jewboys. I got the hitler syndrome figured.” Yet that did not preclude The New York Times and National Public Radio from praising him after his death. Trendy multicultural French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is known for his anti-Semitic provocations and for making a gesture that has been described as an inverted Nazi salute. He recently quipped of a Jewish journalist: “When I hear him talk, you see … I say to myself, gas chambers … a pity.” Auschwitz is now a joke? Not only do people talk of it as a joke, they say the Jews are using the Holocaust for personal gain, and even lying about its extent. Several years ago, David Irving, an English historian was convicted of libel in an English court for publishing that there were no crematoria at Auschwitz and that the murder of 6 million by the Germans is greatly exaggerated. Sadly it was the Germans themselves who were so sure of the correctness of their hatred towards jews that they kept careful records of their evil deeds. Antisemitism has existed since ancient times because the Jews have always been different, adhering to their own peculiar laws, and always a minority among world powers such as Rome, Egypt and Persia. As Christianity gained ascendance over Rome, the church was obsessed with negating Jewish theology and demonizing Jews. Mohammed also had to explain why Jews did not accept his prophesy. And so he compares them to apes and monkeys and antisemitism is used to fuel Arab hatred away from their despotic rulers. Real life Jews and Israelis have multiple identities and multiple attitudes towards the state of Israel, towards the Jewish religion but the anti-Semites paint all Jews and Israel with the same negative brush. Oh and yes even some Jews agree with them. Even that does not make their mythical fantasies about Jews true. What is true is that immediately after the Holocaust, it became politically incorrect to express antisemitic thoughts or ideas. Sadly since about 1995, it has become more and more fashionable and even politically correct to express hostility towards Israel, to question its right to exist, to smear it with a Nazi and genocidal apartheid label and we see the rise of antisemitic attacks on Jews and their property and their human rights to dignity. We see these thoughts and ideas propagated on the internet and in books and films and Youtube videos and also in rising antisemitic attacks on Jews and their property, all over the world. It is this acting out that is most worrying. We see the extent to which antisemitism has become politically correct in the responses to Harper’s visit to Israel in Canada in the Canadian papers. Many of them were shocked and disappointed by his support of Israel asking whether his stance was “balanced”. He is the only world leader who has grasped the insidious nature of the Arabs’ hatred of Jews, and how that is what is keeping a state of war alive between Israel and the Arab population: a hostility that Israel has been contending with since it inception during the war of 1948 and 1967 and the continuing violence against Israel which the Palestinians have not abjured. to this day. It is hardly anti-Semitic to focus on problems between Israel and the Palestinians, or even to pressure the Israelis. It becomes so, however, when problems elsewhere are simply ignored, and Israel alone is singled out to be chastised. The record of the United nations vis a vis Israel amply demonstrates this. I have the statistic but I won’t bore you with them. Has the United Nations ever focused on the 13 million Germans who were ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe about the same time that thousands of Palestinians left what became Israel? Would the American Studies Association boycott Chinese universities over the absorption of Tibet? Is the world really troubled about divided capitals such as Jerusalem? If so, why not an international conference on the Turkish occupation of a divided Nicosia on Cyprus? Can’t Mr. Kerry use shuttle diplomacy to settle who owns all those disputed rocky islands that have led China and Japan to the brink of war? Nazis and racists in our time, spearhead Jewish hatred, based on ancient crackpot defamations that date back to the Jewish Diaspora in Europe since the Roman destruction of Judea. Victor Davis Hansen, a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University writes in his blog “the cowardice of political antisemtism: “ lately, anti-Semitism has become more a left-wing pathology. It is driven by the cheap multicultural trashing of the West. Jewish people here and abroad have become convenient targets for those angry with supposedly undeserved Western success and privilege. Aside from the old envy, and racial and religious hatred, I think cowardice explains the new selective anti-Semitism. Mr. Kanye West would not dare slander radical Muslims, given the violence and threats against European cartoonists and filmmakers who have dared to create work perceived as insulting to Islam. The American Studies Association would not call for a boycott of Russia despite its endemic persecution of homosexuals. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin is as unpredictable as Israeli politicians are forbearing. Mr. Kerry is not rushing into Damascus to stop the bloodletting that has claimed far more lives than all the Palestinians lost in 70 years of conflict with Israel. Syrian President Bashar Assad, Shiite terrorists and al Qaeda would not listen politely to Mr. Kerry’s pontificating sermons. The sort of anti-Semitism we see from buffoons such as Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is appalling, but the double standard to which Israel is held in matters of foreign policy by those who should know better is in many ways even more galling.” What is to be done about it? We need to talk about it and expose it as we are doing here. Silence is aquiescence and we dare not be silent. We know where that leads.
As Hemingway wrote;
Ask not for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee. And don’t think this does not include you: As martin NieMoller, a German pastor says: First they came for the communists And I did not speak out, Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. The they came for the Jews But I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me And there was no one left to speak for me.
The Industry of Lies is about antisemitism today: one of the greatest frauds of recent decades – a fraud of historic, even epic, proportions. When almost half of all Europeans believe that Israel treats the Palestinians just like the Nazis treated the Jews, when leading politicians assert that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the central cause of violence in the world, and when prominent intellectuals argue that Israel is an apartheid state, the unfortunate reality is that the lies are winning.
As a result, Israel has become the devil incarnate in the eyes of many otherwise good and reasonable people – people who genuinely want to see peace but inadvertently contribute to the continuation of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The tragedy is that they are neither helping the Palestinians nor promoting agreement or reconciliation. Instead, they lend legitimacy to the most fallacious claims of the most extreme activists, thereby empowering radicals who have no interest in attaining peace.
Israel is not free from flaws. However, this book draws a clear distinction between legitimate criticism and the “industry of lies” that has emerged from two unlikely sources – the media and academia, undermining their reputations as bastions of truth and knowledge. Ben-Dror Yemini presents an in-depth analysis of the many inaccurate and malicious accusations leveled against Israel and refutes them one by one in this thought-provoking and well-researched volume that invites us to rethink the causes and consequences of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Today is Yom Hashoa ve Hagvura – The day Jews both mourn and celebrate. They mourn the destruction of more than six million innocent men, women, and children, hunted down for the sole reason that they were Jews (the Shoa) and the Gvura (courage and heroism), they celebrate the courage of all those who fought to survive. Every moment of continuing life every day required courage everywhere during this period and great courage was required and offered by many, many who died and many who survived: all of them fought to defeat the enemy and some lived to see the defeat of the vicious enemy – Nazi Germany and her vicious antisemitic policy.
This day always comes shortly after celebration of the Passover holiday, commemoration of the miraculous Jewish liberation from slavery three thousand years ago. Regardless of whether you believe the exodus from Egypt actually happened or not, we have to acknowledge with the reader of the Passover Hagada that “if we had not been freed, we and our children and our children’s children would still be enslaved: but tonight we celebrate as free men and women.”
Last night I attended the annual shoa commemoration project of the Montreal community. Every year, six survivor families are chosen to light a candle and to share their story. Each survivor, flanked by their families, tell their story on a short prerecorded video. No matter how often one attends these programs one is consistently awed by these stories of survival and redemption.
When I returned home I saw two programs on PBS ((Public Broadcast Station). One program (Nova) visits the city of Vilna/Vilnius to attempt to find the underground traces of the Great Synagogue of Vilna over which a school has been built. This documentary tells the story of the destruction of the culture of Vilna, which was also known by Jews as the New Jerusalem, and the murder of the 70,000 Jewish residents of Vilna, and the heroic survival of 8 of the 80 last Jews of Vilna – 76 men and 4 women who were tasked with burning the bodies of their brethren, while imprisoned in a deep pit over several months, just before the arrival of the Russians. These 76 men and four women who realized that they too would be executed at the end of their task, succeeded in creating a secret underground tunnel which led from the pit in which they were imprisoned into the forest for a last ditch effort at escape. Only eight of the eighty persons survived this escape through the tunnel. And the whole episode became a legend which survived only as a “tale” told by the survivors. A group of scientists returns to the site and succeeds in uncovering the remains of the tunnel thus verifying their story. At the end of the show, we see the eight survivors, now living in various parts of the world, reunited with each other.
The next program was a 90 minute production called GI-Jew, which told the story of the 500,000 Jewish American men and 20,000 Jewish American women who enlisted and fought in the American army to destroy the Nazi scourge and to save whoever could be saved from the Nazi onslaught. Among them were 1,000 Jewish American Rabbis who served as American army chaplains. Throughout the war they accompanied the troops and organized services for soldiers, and upon liberation for survivors. And victory was not at all assured over 5 long years of war in Europe and the Far East.
Whether you believe in the G-d of Israel or not, something has enabled the Jewish people to survive every attempt at destruction and to continue to thrive for the last three thousand years. I believe what has enabled them to survive and to thrive is the ideology of the Torah, which lays out a vision of justice and compassion for all living beings, individually and in community, and for the planet itself.
Yes, I was born a Jew to parents who lived through the terrible time of the Shoa in Europe. I have struggled with the issues of the Shoa (Holocaust in Hebrew) my whole life. What have I learned from this over the course of my lifetime? The lesson I take away from this is that the ideas of Torah are mightier than the sword. What are these ideas? First, the idea of a G-d interested in humanity, who has “an eye that sees and an ear that hears”. It is a G-d who prescribes rules for communal living, which include prohibitions against murder and theft, and also legislates that one is not to covet the goods and assets of one’s neighbor, including his wife. Also one where individuals and communities struggle with the right path that will conform to this G-d’s ideas of truth, justice, and compassion. And in this Jewiish world, there is also room for human error and correction without resorting to violence. The torah prescribes economic principles as well as how to deal with murderers and those who may kill accidentally. It prescribes a code of behavior for the common man, for the King and for the priest and it tells us how to regulate time, weekly, monthly, and by the year. The laws of Sabbath and dates of the holidays are thus prescribed. And the Torah does this while also giving us a narrative history of the Jewish people from their beginnings as a family to the creation of the nation in the dessert following the exodus and laws for dealing with the settlement of the land of Israel, whose boundaries are also described in the Torah.
We see that those who have missed out on the precepts of truth justice and mercy described in the Torah and who revel in the power of the sword, have repeatedly been doomed to the ash bin of history. This is evident in the demise of the powerful empires that did not know G-d or mercy or justice, such as the Assyrian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, The French Empire, the German Reich, the Soviet Empire, etc. What is the remedy to all this fighting and destruction? One thing and one thing only: for every one to lay down their arms and to acknowledge that life, liberty, and happiness can only come to those who lay down their arms and struggle to improve the lot of their human compatriots. This is the most powerful idea, and the idea of redemption prescribed by the Hebrew prophets. It is what we pray for at the end of the seder – for everyone to lay down their arms and to acknowledge the rule of the G-d of justice and compassion. Jews of course are aware of vengeance but we are admonished to leave retribution and vengeance up to the Almighty alone. Our duty is to get on with our lives in a productive way. We leave vengeance to the Almighty as is discussed in this blog regarding Jewish views on vengeance. blog.
…The prophet rehearses the classical Jewish teaching that even a merciful and patient God will ultimately wreak powerful, unanswerable retribution upon the enemies of His chosen people.
Following Torah prescriptions would work much better than war crimes trials, and better than hollow statements often made by politicians and human rights activists regarding peace and “never again”. Only organized actual disarmament by all rulers and civilians and working towards improving the lives of all, as prescribed in the Jewish Bible (Torah) will bring us to a just world where violence is renounced and the lion can lie down with the lamb as detailed in the biblical book of Micah chapter 4 verses 2 and3
verse 2: Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the house of the G-d of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
verse 3; And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war.
Redemption lies in getting the agreement of all peoples to lay down their arms in the name of justice and compassion and the rule of the Transcendent Law: And I believe that the amazing thing is that this actually lies within our power today but we do have to start the ball rolling: the right hashtag? – the right call to all leaders and to all individuals to lay down their arms? to embrace love between man and man via the amazing instrument of the internet ? Is it possible? I am envisioning setting a date in the near future for this to happen at the same moment all over the world – Like New Years Day during World War one when both sides spontaneously lay down their arms on the battlefield and celebrated together – “Peace on earth good will to men”. The Rabbis have said that if all the nations were to observe one Sabbath, at the same time, it would be a signal that the Messianic times had arrived.
Who will join me in this project? How long can we all continue to deal with the effects of hatred, war and destruction? Wouldn’t a world focused on feeding the hungry and clothing all of the poor be a much better kinder world for all of us!
As i shared this post with my friends, many responded “its too idealistic, it will never work”. I believe that it can work and will work. Who could have dreamed seventy years ago that we would have a Jewish State that is not only able to defend itself but has become the strongest nation in the Middle East and a powerhouse for agriculture, water purification, medicine, pharmacology, technology, and humanitarian aid, – truly “a light unto the nations”.
The story of young women at the outset of their lives who, when challenged by history, responded with remarkable courage. The Jewish “Couriers” who were real life “Wonder Women”.
The three couriers (from the left) – Tema Sznajderman, Bella Chazan, Lonka Korzybrodska (Photo – Ghetto Fighters House Archives)
During the Holocaust, Jewish resistance groups employed women as messengers to communicate with the world outside the ghettos. Daniel Seaman tells the story of three daring young women—Tema Schneiderman, Lonka Kozybrodska, and Bella Chazan—who risked their lives to help their people:
In December 1941, Tema, Lonka, and Bella were. . . invited to the Christmas party at Gestapo headquarters in the then-Polish city of Grodno, disguised as Polish Catholics. . . . [Before the war, all three had been] members of their local chapters of the [Zionist-socialist] He-ḥaluts Dror Jewish youth movement. . . . Once the war broke out, the youth movements, with their elaborate network of connections, proved to be an unexpected asset for the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe that were deliberately isolated [from one another] by the Germans.
Tema, Lonka, and Bella, like several other female members of the youth movement, were the natural choice to serve as the link between the communities, known as the “couriers” (k’shariyot in Hebrew). Disguised as non-Jews, they risked their lives to move from ghetto to ghetto, traveling through treacherous territory, transporting documents, papers, money, ammunition, and weapons across borders and into ghettos. . . .
Not long after that evening, the dangers of the tragic era would inevitably catch up with them and their luck would run out. First Lonka, who in June 1942 was caught at the border crossing at Malkinia. She was interrogated as a member of the Polish Underground, [her captors not realizing that she was a Jew], and held in the [notorious] Pawiak prison in Warsaw. When she failed to arrive at her expected destination, Bella set out to look for her. She too was captured at the same border crossing and also sent to Pawiak. Bella and Lonka never revealed their identities, never broke, never exposed secrets though tortured severely. They never broke character either, [maintaining the ruse that they were Polish Gentiles].
Of Tema’s fate, it is known that she was transferred to the Treblinka extermination camp after being captured in the Warsaw Ghetto on January 18, 1943, during one of her many daring excursions to the place. She most likely perished there.
While Lonka died in Auschwitz, Bella survived and lived to the age of eighty-two in Israel.
And this was a comment posted following this article by Nancy Rexin Evans who shares the story of her own Mother who also had risked her life and joined and underground movement.
This article was heart-wrenching and brought tears to my eyes as I read about this brave young woman and brought memories of my own mother, a 19 year-old non Jewish woman with a huge Jewish heart and a lot of ‘chutzpa getting angry at this ‘new fangeld upstart Adolph and his brown-shirts, a group of thugs going about, beating up people and going after Jews, her own friends included. She and others joined an underground movement where they started to print and distribute anti fascist flyers. She was caught after being betrayed by her best friend and room mate, arrested and interrogated for several months yet never gave away any names. Subsquently, she was sent to Ravensbrueck, outside of Berlin, afterwards to a labor camp from where the Americans liberated her. One of the soldiers became my dad. Two things stayed with me when Grandmother told me that the Jews were God’s chosen and to always remember that. The night before she died she made me promise to never forget the Jews and always stand up for them and Israel which we visited shortly before her passing, overwhelmed how beautiful Israel was. She would speak to schools, churches, the media, etc. about what happened and how survivors rebuild their home land. “Am Yisrael Chai” indeed. May we always remember! Never Again!. Thank you for this article and the bravery of those young women who should make us ashamed whenever we complain about little inconveniences.
Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, was the darling of the anti-Israel left for supporting the Arab narrative about the Palestine creation myth in 1948.
In this lecture, an update of his views presented on Thursday November 12th. 2016, at McGill University, in addition to describing both sides of the war, the players and their motivations, He asked the question: “Was the war by the Arabs against the establishment of the State of Israel (1947-1948) in the area that was called Palestine during the governance of the English Mandate, an Islamic Jihadi war?” He has uncovered evidence that it was. He has uncovered broadcasts from the Allimah of Al-Azhar University, one of the the highest Islamic authorities, calling for a Jihad against the Jews immediately after the partition announcement in the United Nations.
At the same time, he pointed out how the armies that were unleashed against the nascent State of Israel, in addition to their Muslim anti-Jewish motivations, each nation fighting Israel had its particular agenda. Israel alone was fighting for survival. And this is why she had the absolute motivation to win at all cost, and did win her battle for survival. This war of 1948 which was long and brutal is called by israeli historians, the Israeli war of Independence.
This lecture brought out the largest audience ISGAP has ever had at Mcgill. Hecklers showed up prior to the lecture objecting to Prof. Morris giving his talk. They shouted loudly and we were not sure whether he would be able to speak, but finally they were persuaded to leave.
After the talk there was a lively question period. One question that I found very interesting was a question from someone, who could have been a professor, asking Why ISGAP, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism invited Benny Morris, a professor of Israeli history. Unfortunately Israel’s history then and now on college campuses everywhere is filtered through the lens of Jew-hatred. Even though critics of Israel love to proclaim that “criticism of Israel is not antisemitism”. The BDS movement’s focus on destroying the Jewish State is very close to it. And this person’s objection to even hearing the scholarly talk of a historian speaks for itself.
And by the way, Benny Morris has been vilified by both sides for his historical analysis and it is a credit to the Institute that they invited him to speak.
What is the source of antisemitism in Islam? What is the cause of Muslim antisemitism? Why have Arab countries and the Palestinians been so adamantly against accepting and acknowledging the Jewish narrative, the continuous Jewish presence in the Holy Land, and the Jewish state of Israel? Professor Mordechai Kedar, explains this very well:
This was one of a series of talks on antisemitism sponsored by ISGAP – Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism at McGill University in January 2015.
Prof. Kedar explains that Mohammad borrowed extensively from the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians but when Jews and Christians refused to accept his doctrines, he systematically attacked their communities with his mercenaries for the denial of his message. Islam makes the claim that only the Islamic version of G-d is permissible anywhere in the world: That all messages of Jews and Christians are deceptive and invalid: That Islam is the one and only true religion i.e. the true version of reality. This very conveniently self serving doctrine has been followed up by Mohammad and his successors by the murder of Jews and Christians. This has been the source of Islamic precepts of Jew hatred and animosity towards Jews and Christians and Pagans throughout the centuries.
As Professor Kedar pointed out Muslims have a different view of history, and different values than those that have developed in the western democracies. Their concept of peace is “the peace of Sharia”, and Sharia can brook no compromise with other religions or cultures. For Westerners this is a hard lesson to accept: but it has to be faced if we are to understand the current state of conflict in the middle East between between Islam and the West, and between Islam and Israel, and between Islam and Jews.
In addition to the Islamic precepts demeaning Jews and infidels, European/Nazi ideas of Jew hatred have also permeated the Arab world via the Mufti of Jerusalem, an ally and friend of Hitler.
A living monument to European anti-Jewish hatred and misunderstanding is enshrined in the many publications of the forged Russian document: “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion“. Prof. Kedar pointed out that this document is being widely published and disseminated all over the Arab world and has been published widely there since the 1920’s. Apparently, no one has told the Arabs of the Middle East that this was and is a forged antisemitic document published by the Russians. The Egyptians have been misguided to the point that when they opened the New Library of Alexandria in Egypt, The Protocols of the Elders was chosen as one of the two most important books representative of Jews and Judaism. It was only removed when the Israeli ambassador, who was present at the opening advised them about the origins of this book which never had any reality connection whatsoever to any living Jews in the world or to Judaism.
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion is an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. The Protocols purports to document the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies.
Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the US in the 1920s. Adolf Hitler was a major proponent. It was studied, as if factual, in German classrooms after the Nazis came to power in 1933, despite having been exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921. It is still widely available today in numerous languages, in print and on the Internet, and continues to be presented by some proponents as a genuine document.”
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other similar books such as Mein Kampf, written by Hitler himself formalized the rampant antisemitism of Europe in the 19th century and made it sound rational and authoritative. These two works formed the basis of the irrational Jew hatred (otherwise known as antisemitism) in Europe and Russia of the 20th century. These books disseminated irrational notions about “The Jews” which lead directly to the acceptance of the genocidal murder of at least six million “Jews” identified as such by the third Reich. Publication of both texts has been banned in many countries due to their libelous and destructive nature.
This fraudulent book, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is considered to be G-d’s truth in the Arab World as evidenced by the many publications and republications in the last several years. Some of the covers of these publications are reproduced here:
Even if you do not read Arabic, the cover pictures associating Jews and Judaism with snakes and worse is clear.
Alongside antisemitic publications, one can find hundreds if not thousands of videos on you-tube espousing these ideas.
As unpleasant as this is, it has to be faced if anyone wants to understand the sources of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment in the Muslim world, and also in the ranks of the non-Muslim, European, anti-Jewish, antisemitic ranks. This virulent antisemitism, finds its voice amplified and easily spread on the internet.
Sadly few Western pundits or journalists have faced this dark truth about Islam when discussing Israel or the Middle East.
When hate depends on a specific cause, it ends once the cause disappears. Causeless, baseless hate, – irrational hate – can last forever.”
After 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why. Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A crime? An act of war? It did not seem to fit the pre-existing paradigms. And why had it happened? The question most often asked about Al Qaeda was, ‘Why do they hate us?
Just like the surprised Americans who woke up the day after the 9/11 tragedies asking “Why do they hate us?” Jews have asked the same question – “Why do they hate us?”. Antisemitism, the hate unjustly directed at Jews can and has morphed to meet the political needs of various regimes and religious groups. It has become a cutting edge tool to advance aspirations for power and dominance. In the middle ages it was used as a tool by the Catholic Church: In Russia: It was used as a tool by the Russian Czar: in Nazi Germany, Hitler used it to advance his ideology, and Islam has also used it, since its beginnings to assert dominance. None of these tyrants knew or understood anything about Jews or Judaism. They were all spinning their Jew-baiting tales as a means to an end.
As Ruth Wisse has so ably pointed out, “antisemitism has nothing to do with Jews: it has everything to do with the antisemites. Antisemitism has very little to do with the realities of Jews or of Israel. It has everything to do with the power of irrational hatred as a self aggrandizing tool, and as an instrument for political dominance. Ruth Wisse, below analyzes very well, antisemitism and its effects not only on Jews but also on how it affects those who practice antisemitism.
He points out that the Arab Jew-hatred did not start with World War II, but preceded it, and the Farhud, the Arab governing organization of the time, allied with Hitler, whose need for oil coincided with the Nazi and Arab Arab desire to eliminate the Jews. Few people are aware that Palestinian Arabs fought alongside Hitler all over Europe and in the Middle East: while England pandering to the Arab presence blocked any Jewish immigration to the area then known as Palestine, now known as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as the area currently known as the West Bank and Gaza. Edwin Black removes the veil of ignorance about a nasty and unpleasant topic, the anti-semitism of the Arab world from 1850 to the present, which we ignore at our peril. He has researched a book on the subject and here lectures about it to a University audience. After listening to this talk, you will never again be able to close your eyes to the anti-semitism that pervades the middle east today and you will understand why there is no peace there now, nor will there be peace in the near future as long as the current Islamic leadership persists in their anti-semitic, anti-Jewish beliefs that have been inculcated for years:
And this is not to say that Jews and Islam have never been able to co-exist or that all Muslims hate Jews just that the road to peace between Israel and its neighbors needs to address these issues head on and so do the do-gooders in the West.
Today while perusing blogs from The Other A Word – The Jewish Journal Blogs,I came across this moving recording by liberated prisoners of Bergen Belson broadcast by the BBC in 1945.
Listening to these survivors singing what came to be the national anthem of Israel, before there was a state of Israel, moved me to tears but it also pointed out the connection to Zion which we Jews have carried with us since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. I scrolled through the youtubes following this one and discovered Barbara Streisand introducing Israel’s national anthem, a year ago, in Israel, speaking about Israel’s national anthem, the same song, with minor variations that became also the national anthem of the State of Israel “Hatikva/Hope”. The last line translates as – the hope of the Jewish people to be a free people in our country, the land of Zion and Jerusalem – Hebrew- Tikvateinu, Lihyot am hofshi b’artzeinu, b’eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim”.
Then I discovered this video “The best Hebrew Songs” a four minute medley of Hebrew songs performed by a band with Russian roots in a big band rock style. What are the songs they choose? 1.They start with “Shalom Aleichem – Peace/shalom to you” 2. It is closely followed by “May the One who makes peace in the Heavens bring peace to us and to all Israel. In Hebrew “Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yayseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael.” 3. Then we are treated to the most popular Jewish wedding song with a pantomime wedding couple: “May this be a good omen and bring good luck to us and all Israel. Hebrew – “mazel tov ve siman tov, siman tov vemazal tov, yeheh lanu v’l’kol Yisrael.” 4. Then we are treated to an article of faith going back hundreds of years: “I believe with full faith in the coming of the Messiah. And although He tarry, I will wait for Him to come every day. Hebrew – Ani ma’amin b’emunah shlaima b’viyat Ha Mashiach: V’af al pi sh’yitmamaya, ahakeh Lo b’chol yom sh’yavo” 5. And they conclude with: “We bring you peace: Hebrew – “Haivainu shalom aleichem”. What I find so unusual about these songs is that Three out of the five are taken from traditional and ancient prayerbook texts. Only the last one and the first one, “Shalom aleichem” and “Haivainu shalom aleichem” is a more contemporary formulation. And yet these are the songs that a contemporary and modern band chooses as the “most popular” Jewish songs.
I thought these three You-tube videos illustrate how Jewish people all over the world, for thousands of years have always been, and continue to be bound together, with the fate of the land of Israel and Jerusalem, by communal text and by communal song.
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. André Vanasse, a prolific writer, professor and well known Quebecois literary figure. Recent developments in the world arouse thoughts of concern about world order, migrations, religions, commerce, and how they affect the individual. André Vanasse’ expansive historical novel, La flûte de rafi deals with the themes of migration, both physical and cultural between Europe and the New World. It tells the story of several generations and permutations of a family. The protagonist is a young Jewish man from Poland whose father is a “shochet”, a Jewish slaughterer, i.e. a man who is well versed in the laws and regulations prescribed for the slaughter of animals for food as prescribed in the “Mishnah” and “Talmud” – the compilation of the Jewish code of life.
The project JQ-Mtl was conceived and executed by Sonia Sarah Lipsyc. She is the interviewee. Below is the video interview in French with English subtitles.
Project executed by AskAbigail productions
This is the first of a series of similar interviews with authors, scholars, and artists whose books, works and oeuvres touch upon Jewish culture in Quebec , conceived and executed by Sonia Sarah Lipsyc in collaboration with AskAbigail Productions for the JQMTL/videos website – the JQMtl Quebec’s Jewish Arts and Culture Magazine, Le Magazine des culture juives du Québec.
The next one will be an interview with Marc Alain-Wolf about his current work Histoires de famille, histoires de guerre, which also has autobiographical elements about the search for identity in contemporary Quebec.Sonia Sarah Lipsyc est directrice de ALEPH, le Centre d’Études Juives Contemporaines de la Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec (CSUQ), depuis sa création en 2009.
For those of you who are not aware of medieval theology and its imperial struggles, Talmudic books were burned in the public square from the early to the late middle Ages by Christian Papal authorities all over Europe. The Talmud was first condemned by Pope Gregory IX and burning Talmudic books were first burned at the stake in 1240 AD.
In 1236 a Jewish apostate, Nicholas Donin, submitted a memorandum to Pope Gregory IX listing 35 charges against the Talmud. These included allegations that it contained blasphemies of Jesus and Mary, attacks on the Church, pronouncements hostile to non-Jews, and foolish and revolting tales. They asserted that the Jews had elevated the Oral Law to the level of divinely inspired Scripture, and that this impeded the possibility of their conversion to Christianity. Gregory thereupon ordered a preliminary investigation, and in 1239 sent a circular letter to ecclesiastics in France summarizing the accusations and ordering the confiscation of Jewish books on the first Saturday of Lent (i.e., March 3, 1240), while the Jews were gathered in synagogue. Any other persons having Hebrew books in their possession who refused to give them up were to be excommunicated. He further ordered the heads of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Paris to ensure that “those books in which you find errors of this sort you shall cause to be burned at the stake.”…The last auto-da-fé of the Talmud took place in Poland, in Kamenets-Podolski in the fall of 1757.
What do you make of the above quote “Any other persons having Hebrew books in their possession who refused to give them up were to be excommunicated.“. Yes, non-Jews were reading and owning Hebrew texts in Hebrew at the time.
The question comes up “Why”. Why burn Talmudic books?
Christian dogma asserted that since Jews were the original Christians, their continuing practice of the Jewish religion negated Christianity as the superior religion. Moreover, it was posited that the Second coming of the Messiah could not arrive until the whole world, but especially the Jews were converted to Christianity. For as as long as Jews continued to practice their Jewish religion, this negated Paul’s idea that the Jewish religious law was no longer necessary and was superseded by the Christian faith which no longer required the performance of Jewish Torah Law known to Jews as “mitzvot”. “Mitzvot” are what Jews think of as G-d’s direct behavioral demands first stated in the Torah, often translated as “laws”. These “mitzvot” were first written down in the “Torah” which is known to Christians as the Five books of Moses. These Torah laws were interpreted and elaborated on and discussed over the centuries by the rabbis and these discussions are known as the “oral law”. “Jewish Law” that is referred to in the Christian New Testament is this oral law debated in rabbinic seminaries and Jewish courts of the 1- 3rd century AD. This Rabbinic Oral Law, was first compiled in written form 300 AD as six tractates of Talmud. It was written down because following the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Rabbis feared that this lore would be lost. Jews believe that both the Torah and the Oral Law were handed down at Sinai. i.e. The written Torah and the Oral Law are not separable, but together comprise the understanding of the normative Jewish tradition that has survived over the last two thousand years since the destruction of the Temple. The first written Talmud was put together and written down in the land of Israel and is known as the Jerusalem Talmud. The second version of the Talmud was compiled in ancient Babylonia (currently know as Iraq) and is designated as the Babylonian Talmud. It was compiled in the 6th century AD. Both of these texts continue to form the groundwork of normative Jewish religious tradition.
Avant la Shoah /l’Holocauste, une majorité de Juifs en Europe parlait le yiddish. Apres la decimation des juifs pendant la deuxieme guerre mondiale, la culture yiddish – la langue, la littérature et le théâtre – a été pratiquement, entièrement détruite. Le sort de la langue yiddish était menacée et nul n’osait croire que le yiddish allait revoir le jour. Ce film, crée a Montreal, est un documentaire sur la survie du Yiddish après la Shoa par la route du theatre. Comprenant qu’est-ce que c’est de perdre sa culture, les Quebecois français était des grands amis du theatre Yiddish a Montreal et cela est clairement démontré dans le film.
Ce documentaire se concentre sur trois générations d’artistes yiddish qui examine l’état du yiddish dans le 21e siècle.
Arrivé au Canada en 1950 avec deux jeunes filles, Dora Wasserman, a réussi à créer une troupe de théâtre yiddish composé d’étudiants et de leurs parents, de nombreux survivants de la Shoah. Son travail a été réalisé par sa fille Bryna Wasserman, qui a récemment présidé le cinquantième anniversaire de la Yiddish Dora Wasserman Troupe en lançant le tout premier Festival international de théâtre yiddish à Montréal.
Milena Kartowski, une étudiante de 23 ans qui a exploré la danse, le jazz et l’opéra à Paris, une petite-fille de survivants de la Shoah, a récemment découvert la langue yiddish et sa culture d’origine. Elle est «tombée en amour» avec le théâtre yiddish et sa chanson. Milena comprend non seulement l’essence de la culture yiddish, mais aussi l’importance de préserver une culture qu’elle craint être menacée d’extinction.
Voici Milena chantant à Montreal, 2011 à la Festival Internationale de Theatre Yiddish.
Il y a vingt-cinq ans, Shmuel Atzmon, un survivant de la Shoah, a commencé à faire renaître le théâtre yiddish en Israël. Il a pris les jeunes acteurs de langue hébraïque et leur a enseigné la langue yiddish, sa musique et sa culture. Il est maintenant responsable du yiddish Repertory Theatre à Tel Aviv, appelé Yiddishspiel.
Abigail Hirsch est née dans une famille juive qui a survécu à la Shoah en Europe. Abigail est arrivé au Québec à l’age de cinq ans, finit l’école à Montréal et parle plusieurs langues, mais pas le yiddish. Elle écrit : « J’ai redécouvert la beauté et la profondeur du yiddish à travers le Festival international de théâtre yiddish qui a eu lieu à Montréal en 2009. J’ai été inspirée et je me suis lancée dans ce documentaire. Partout où je suis allé en Israël, aux États-Unis et au Canada, j’ai partagé ce projet avec des gens de toutes les langues, juifs et non-juifs, qui se sont montrés très intéressés par ce sujet.»
Jeudi, le 22 mai, Le documentaire sera presenter sur le canal PBS Mountain Lake à neuf heure du soir.
Après avoir vu la bande-annonce, vous serez sans doute d’accord avec Abigail, comme c’est important de préserver le francais c’est aussi un projet important de continuer à faire des efforts pour préserver l’héritage yiddish pour le monde.
Merci pour Abigail !
Pour plus d’information ou pour contacter Abigail…