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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Jewish Boxing Champ Defends Her Title

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Carolina Raqucel Duer, a 33 year-old Jewish woman from Buenos Aires, Argentina, defended her World Boxing Organization Super Flyweight title on November 12 by defeating opponent Maria Jose Nunez of Uruguay.  Nunez foreited the match in the third round, after being knocked down by Duer’s left cross.

Duer, known as “The Turk”, is the daughter of Syrian-Jewish immigrants to Argentina.  As a child, she attended Jewish day school and Jewish after-school programs and camp, attended synagogue services and spent time in Israel working on a kibbutz.

The Fiction Of Palestine

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Whatever little remains of the so-called Middle East peace process suffered yet another body blow this month, as two of the largest countries in South America formally recognized an independent Palestinian state.
In a statement posted on its website on December 3, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry declared that the country had recognized “Palestine” based on the 1967 borders that existed prior to the Six-Day War.
Argentina quickly followed suit, announcing three days later that President Cristina Fernandez had sent a letter to this effect to Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
And so, just two months after the Palestinians stormed away from talks with Israel, refusing American pleas to return to the negotiating table, Buenos Aires and Brasilia have now decided to reward Ramallah’s intransigence with full-blown recognition of their national aspirations.
Ironically, both Brazil and Argentina seem to think that preempting the outcome of the process somehow brings peace closer. But precisely the opposite is true.
By reinforcing the Palestinian belief that the world is with them no matter what they do, this step serves merely to harden their positions and reduce their incentive to engage in dialogue with the Jewish state.
After all, if the Palestinians can get everything they want via international pressure, what reason would they possibly have to engage in give-and-take with Israel?
So while Brazil and Argentina may profess to be really interested in advancing peace, they have just taken a monumental step backward toward achieving that goal.
Needless to say, this development is also a major setback to these countries’ relations with the Jewish people, which weren’t all that great to begin with.
Both Brazil and Argentina served as welcoming safe havens for Nazi fugitives and other mass murderers, granting refuge to the likes of Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann for decades after World War II.
So it is perhaps not surprising that they would now choose to formally recognize the spurious claims of Israel’s foes.
To be fair, Brazil and Argentina are not alone in their folly. Some 104 countries have now recognized an independent Palestinian state, and other South American countries such as Uruguay are soon expected to join this dubious club.
But popularity does not trump truth, and that is what makes the decision to recognize “Palestine” so appalling, because it amounts to nothing less than an outright assault on reality.
Here is one simple fact that seems to have escaped the Brazilians, Argentinians and all those other nations out there: there is not, nor has there ever been in all of history, an independent state of Palestine.
“Palestine” is a fiction. It is a ruse, a con and a subterfuge, perhaps the greatest deception ever perpetrated since scam-artist George C. Parker began “selling” New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge to gullible chumps in the late 19th century.
Just take a look at the holy books of the world’s three greatest monotheistic religions: there is no mention of “Palestine” or “Palestinians” in the Torah, nor in the Christian New Testament, nor even in the Muslim Koran.
They all speak of Israel or Judea, not Palestine or Palestinians.
Even the name “Palestine” has nothing to do with Palestinians – it was invented by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to punish the Jews after the Bar-Kochba revolt against his rule. That was over 500 years before Islam was even founded.

To put it quite simply: there is no historical basis to the Palestinian claim to this land.

Just because the United Nations and the Arab states assert otherwise does not make it so.
So whether they realize it or not, Brazil and Argentina have just became the latest dupes to buy the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Consciously or not, they have taken the tall tale told by the Arabs at face value, and conferred legitimacy on a claim with no absolutely no basis whatsoever.
Now just imagine if the tables were turned and Israel decided to meddle in Argentinian affairs the way they have stuck their noses into ours.
Suppose that Jerusalem were to announce that it is formally recognizing the Falkland Islands, which Argentina fought a war over with England back in 1982, as being an integral part of the United Kingdom.
The islands, which Argentina refers to as the Malvinas, have been the subject of a dispute between the two countries since the early part of the 19th century.
So if Israel were to side with Britain on the status of the Falklands, how do you think Argentina would react? By denouncing the Jewish state, of course.
Does this scenario sound silly? Perhaps. But no more so than Buenos Aires’s recognition of a non-existent Palestinian state with imaginary borders.
Sure, Israel’s own government has exacerbated the problem by accepting the principle of a “two-state solution,” making it that much easier for nations around the world to take the next step and recognize “Palestine.”
But that in no way absolves the international community or lends any credence to its behavior.

For no matter how hard they might push to end the conflict by creating a Palestinian state, a peace based on falsehood is not, and never will be, a real peace.



Michael Freund is founder of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that helps “lost Jews” return to Zion. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.

Kupferminc’s Wanderings

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Hebrew Union Collage Museum

One West 4th Street, New York, NY

Mon. – Thurs. 9am – 5pm; Friday, 9am – 3pm. 

Free Admission (Photo ID required)

212 824 2205 – www.huc.edu/museums/ny


Mirta Kupferminc is an artist who has made her artistic mission a search for meaning in a world profoundly unstable, problematic and filled with the terrors of memory not entirely her own.  As the child of Holocaust survivors, uprooted from Europe and transplanted in Argentina, one prevailing motif for her is that of a witness to the Holocaust one generation removed.  A prominent text panel quotes Saul Sosnowski: ” to be a witness who loves unconditionally; daring to judge G-d over Auschwitz and find him guilty; and pray to him still, even there, even in Auschwitz.”

Under the watchful guidance of director Jean Bloch Rosensaft and the curatorial skill of Laura Kruger the Hebrew Union College Museum presents Wanderings: Works by Mirta Kupferminc delving into the artist’s exploration of the quest for Divine knowledge, the Holocaust, and the mysteries of memory.

Kupferminc is an extremely accomplished graphic artist, sculptor and book artist producing limited edition books utilizing texts from Saul Sosnowski, Eliahu Toker and Santiago Kavadloff.  Her book titles include Exodus, Sepharad, Forgotten Memories, Jewish Highlights and Borges and the Kabbalah: Paths to the Word.

From Borges and the Kabbalah we see the particularly intriguing Four Who Entered the Garden.  Referencing the famous passage in Hagigah 14b; “Four men entered the Garden, namely, Ben Azzai and Ben Zoma, Aher, and R. Akiva .Ben Azzai cast a look and died Ben Zoma looked and became demented Aher (Elisha b. Abuyah) mutilated the shoots (became an apostate).”  Even as countless commentaries have plumbed the hidden meanings of this passage, Kupferminc harnesses the visual metaphor of the ladder to sharpen our understanding.  Four ladders are poised to access the fruits, literally, of a supernal paradise.  And yet much is amiss; one ladder has fallen, Ben Azzai’s fate, the other ladders are ensnared and deeply compromised by madness and apostasy and a fifth ladder is glimpsed inside the garden itself indicating that even with spiritual insight there is more beyond.  A sole figure is exiting, Rabbi Akiva who emerged unscathed, and yet we can see graphic echoes of his three companions behind him.  In our quest for the Divine, successful or not, we are all fellow travelers.

Four Who Entered the Garden (2006), 15″ X 24″; etching-aquatint by Mirta Kupferminc

Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum


Many of Kupferminc’s etchings are populated by hordes of little people trudging along the edges of clear-cut shapes, some amorphic, and some human, all mysterious.  In Ghosts at the Lodz Ghetto the figures create an entire universe of Jewish life; children, workers, old men and young, madmen and holy men, all stamped with the compulsory Star of David badge, all memories of the countless victims of terror.



Ghosts at the Lodz Ghetto (2000), 23″ X 35″; etching by Mirta Kupferminc

Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum



Another kind of terror is evoked in the haunting etching On the Way.  Here the initially puzzling image of a march of people, each carrying an uprooted tree yields a painful insight into the condition of exile.  This very uprootedness is a burden exiles must bear even when they find a home.  This condition marks and defines a consciousness that unifies each exile with another, much like the upper branches of the six trees that come together to form one organic whole.  Considering the history of the artist and her parents; Hungarian Jews who survived Auschwitz, exiles from their homeland, first to Italy and finally to Argentina where she grew up as an Argentinean haunted by the disappearances of political dissidents, ordinary citizens and many Jews, this work is deeply personal.



On the Way (2006), 15″ X 25″; etching by Mirta Kupferminc

Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum



Kupferminc’s facility at creating images that encapsulate complex concepts is further demonstrated in Thirty-Two are the Paths, an etching that references the 32 Paths of Wisdom found in the ancient mystical Sefer Yitzirah.  In her image we see a Sefer Torah open and impossibly unrolling in both directions.  The central panels between the Atzei Chaim are obscured by mysterious objects, suggesting a human heart with its blood vessels engaged in the mundane world.  As the Torah text unrolls to the right its margin begins to split into 32 separate strands, a powerful assertion that all wisdom and all secrets to access the Divine are to be found in the Torah itself.



Thirty-two are the Paths (2004), 15″ X 24″; etching by Mirta Kupferminc

Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum


Mirta Kupferminc is a complex artist tackling some of the most vexing questions facing Jews today.  The quest for the Divine, to draw close and attempt to achieve understanding is fraught with fear and trepidation.  G-d is a burning fire and still a constant temptation.  He is our obsession.  And yet we cannot forget the Holocaust itself, how it has profoundly dislocated us in both our relationship with our G-d we incessantly seek and our essential uprootedness whether we are in the Diaspora or even in our precious Land of Israel. Staring into the abyss these are the subjects Kupferminc faces.  She does not blink even as we must.

 Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com

Traces Of Jewish Culture Photo Contest

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

     There is a continuing effort by educational organizations at every level in Poland to bring a better understanding of Jewish culture to the people and especially the youth of Poland. Through education we can bring understanding and through understanding, respect, if not friendship.


    Recently an international photographic contest was sponsored by the Youth Center of Czestochowa, under the auspices of Mr. Sigmund Rolat, Chairman of the North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and chairman of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their descendants, and Mayor of Czestochowa, Tadeusz Wrona. Contest entries came from Poland, Israel and Argentina and had to depict a Jewish theme as well as be artistically pleasing.



“Concentration,” by Ireneusz Tasarz, of Czestochowa, Poland



    The photographs were on display at the Polish Consulate in New York, sponsored by the Honorable Krzysztof W. Kasprszk, Consul General of Poland. Filling the exhibit space the photographs drew on the long history of the Jewish people. It highlighted synagogues in Poland and in Argentina, graves in Poland but also Jews studying in a beit medrash in Israel.


    They portray both the past as well as the living present and hope for the future. An understanding that Jews and Judaism are not a thing of the past, something only to be seen in museums, but that we are still alive for everyone to see. 

The Artistic Side Of Holocaust Art

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

The Ashen Rainbow:

Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust

By Ori Z. Soltes

$23.95, Eshel Books, 2007





         Holocaust art has dominated the news lately for all the wrong reasons. From record-breaking sales of returned Klimt paintings to controversies surrounding lawyers’ fees for retrieving looted works to a notorious auction of Hitler’s paintings, many are seeing the side of Holocaust art that has more to do with politics and legal disputes. Holocaust art, if there is such a field of work, should not be about overpaid lawyers and selling tyrant’s paintings. It should not be about work that happened to have been composed or looted during the Holocaust. Instead it should be about the art itself, as it grapples in an unprecedented manner with traumatic experiences so incomprehensible that some people question if artists could ever produce artistic compositions again.


         For this reason, Ori Soltes’ new book, The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust, is particularly timely. Soltes does devote a good deal of space in his book to Holocaust restitution (his feeling is that property is property, and it must be returned at all costs) and to Hitler’s art plundering, but the real reason to read Soltes’ book is for the insightful “readings” of paintings.



Painting on Book Jacket: Diane Kurz, “Self-Portrait” (1999).




         For those reading this column, the book’s title alone should be enough to send you scrambling for your copy. Professor Soltes, lecturer at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific scholars of Jewish art (though his work is not exclusively about Jewish art), with a slew of publications to his name, including “Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century” (Brandeis UP, 2002).


         Like an attempt to tackle Jewish American painting of the last century in one book, the Holocaust art venture is quite ambitious. Any book of this sort, for better or worse, has to confront Theodor Adorno’s famous statement questioning the rationality of art after Auschwitz. But Soltes is not about to shy away from his thesis. “Well, of course I disagree with Adorno,” he told The Jewish Press. “My whole book is about the need to respond to an event that is as inaccessible as the Creation of the Universe, rather than the impropriety of responding, for fear that any response is overly banal (or even, as he says, ‘barbarous’) by definition.”


Ori Z. Soltes, author of The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust.



         Soltes admits there has been and likely will be banal art that reduces the Holocaust “that cannot get over the hurdle,” but he stresses that there has been “variously great − in the sense of thought-provoking − art that succeeds precisely because it recognizes the essential inaccessible ineffability of such an event.” Not only is Soltes unconcerned that no work of art can fully capture the Holocaust (or any other event or idea, for that matter), but he views that capacity for human error as one of art’s very strengths. “No work of art can fully encompass it, just as no work of art ever fully encompasses whatever its subject [may be],” Soltes says. “Hence the viability of continuing to produce art; never is the subject so definitively covered that the rest of us should simply give up and go home.


         “If the Holocaust is the ultimate symbol of human barbarity,” he continues, “then to consider art after it as barbarous is rhetorically ear-catching but stupid − unless one is so cynical that one believes we can never recover as a species from the Holocaust: we can and have and will ‘recover’ − if for no other reason than that we have committed barbarities for as long as we have been an identifiable species and have also continued to do so since the Holocaust. So while it is a unique event, it is not unique.”


         At the center of Soltes’ research is the diversity of Holocaust art. Many invoke the catch phrase “Holocaust memory” to discuss art about the Holocaust, but to Soltes, the phrase hopelessly misses the “endlessly varied nature of the ‘experience.’ ” The players on the Holocaust art stage include survivor-artists, their children who grew up knowing about the Holocaust, their children who grew up not knowing about the Holocaust, Jewish artists who did not experience the Holocaust and non-Jews like German artist Anselm Kiefer (born 1945). “So memory applies in some cases and not others,” Soltes says, “which is why any of these phrases falls short.”


         In his book, Soltes collects work from many artists, far too many to include each one in these pages. But a few stand out from the pack, especially Peter Zvi Malkin, creator of Argentine Journal. Malkin was born in British-controlled Palestine in 1929, and he was taken as a young baby to Poland, only to return to Palestine after his family’s synagogue was burnt. At age 12 he joined Hagganah, and waited for his older, married sister to earn her exit permits to move to Palestine. She never received her papers, and instead was sent to Auschwitz.


         Malkin could count 150 relatives who perished in the Holocaust, which might very well have accounted for his joining the Mossad at 21 and becoming involved in tracking down and capturing Eichmann in Argentina. Malkin saw a likeness in Eichmann’s six-year-old, blond, blue-eyed son to his nephew who perished in the Holocaust, “my favorite playmate, he was just your son’s age. Also blond and blue-eyed, just like your son. And you killed him.”


         Soltes recounts how Malkin and his colleagues tracked Eichmann, captured him, and used makeup and drugs to pass him off as an El Al crewman to bring him to Israel. “If the rest is history, the rest is also art history,” Soltes writes. “During the time he spent in Argentina, and consistent with his own cover as an artist, Malkin overran every paper surface available with line and color.” Some of the works, like “Hitler” (1960) that Soltes includes in the book, include makeup as materials along with paint and pastels, surely the very makeup to be used to disguise Eichmann.


         Malkin’s “Hitler” has a childish aspect to it, reminiscent perhaps of Georges Rouault’s works portraits with their heavy, bold outlines. Soltes quotes Malkin, “For some reason, I tried my hand again at painting the ‘Fuehrer’ … Every time I painted him, it seemed to me that he was a ‘human,’ a simple person. I tried again and again, and he looked a bit different but always ‘normal,’ with no possibility of expressing evil in his eyes … The truth is that in Eichmann, too, it was impossible to find the evil … Perhaps evil is just impossible to paint?”


         Indeed I have heard many people charge that art is risky, because it will surely depict the human side of the Nazis. Should we entertain Hitler’s paintings as art, given what we know about the artist? “I don’t think that we need to fear this,” Soltes says. “Fortunately, most of Hitler’s aesthetic conceptions were second-rate, but even if they were not, I think that we can and should be comfortable separating him and the horrible creature that he was from his art and his aesthetics views. I love Wagner’s music and T.S. Eliot’s poetry. That does not prevent me from recognizing and despising their small-minded anti-Semitism.”


         But perhaps the most important lesson of Holocaust art is precisely that manner in which it exposes different layers. “Hitler never stands alone; he is at the apex of human ugliness,” Soltes says. “But there is a whole pyramid of human ugliness supporting him − just as Leonardo is at the apex of human creative beauty, with a pyramid supporting him. One might even construe seeing various ‘sides’ of Hitler as important for us because it reminds us how we all have the capacity to be Hitler, in smaller or larger ways. Look again at Primo Levi’s writing. Who among us is absolutely innocent and who absolutely guilty in a world of grey and not of black and white?”


         This revelation ought to feel uneasy to us. How dare we say that there is a capacity for Hitler in each of us? And yet, Soltes is correct. It takes artists creating work from concentration camps, or reflecting upon the Holocaust from memory or research, to demonstrate that fact. Just as the paintbrush has trouble showing the evil of even such a universally recognized monster, so too do people often have trouble identifying evil, because of its many layers and components. Perhaps Hitler will forever look cartoonish in paintings, and perhaps he will look altogether human where he ought to look despicable. But that is what is most frightening about him. He was a man and he did use his humanity to destroy rather than to create.


        Menachem Wecker is a painter, writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. He welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. His painting, “The Windows of Heaven,” will be on exhibit at the JCC of Greater Baltimore as part of an exhibit through June 10. 

Wysokie Mazowiecie

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

        Recently the Jewish cemetery at Wysokie Mazowiecie held a ceremony marking the first stage of its restoration project. The major benefactor, Marvin Brooks, was not able to attend but sent a moving letter that was read at the ceremony. The project is conducted by The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland:


         Dear Major Town Officials, Residents and Students of Wysokie Mazowiecie, FODZ representatives, Members of Jewish Community of Poland and Friends:


         I truly regret not being with you this morning to participate in the re-dedication of the Wysokie Mazowiecie Jewish Cemetery due to a health restriction.


         Wysokie Mazowiecie holds a special place in my heart and in my family history. I believe my family story is representative of many Jewish families in the area.


         Here in Wysokie Mazowiecie my great-grandfather, Akiva Joseph Lipshitz, a poor religious man, who always attended synagogue, struggled to make a living as a Melamed (teacher) of Jewish boys training them for their Bar Mitzvah.


         Family history is that my great grandfather was born in nearby Czyzewo in 1837 and married his first wife, Yenia Mirla, in that town before 1868. They had two children and came to live in Wysokie Mazowiecie. These two children, Ida and Miriam, married, had children and immigrated to the United States in 1889-1902. The fate of Akiva Joseph’s first wife is unknown.


         My great-grandfather married again to Yenta Schrenitz in about 1875 in Wysokie and had six children over the period from 1887-1907. Two children, Dawid and Shefra died at ages of six and 17, respectively, in Wysokie. My grandfather, Schmuel, also trained in religious studies, was sent for further education in Lida or Vilna, where he met my grandmother, Ester, had a child, Miriam – my mother – and immigrated to the U.S. in 1917.


         The three other female children (Lea, Anna and Shenka) remained with my great-grandparents in Wysokie. The family was very poor. Wysokie had a central market where you could buy potatoes, eggs, and fruit. The stores were owned by Christians and Jews. My great-grandmother, Yenta, was the family business lady who would sell aprons and stockings, which she had purchased from others, who had done the manufacturing. She would sell these items at the Wysokie market one to three days a week. This was the major source of income for the family. According to a recorded family history, my great-grandfather died in 1912 (age 75) in Wysokie. After the death of my great-grandfather, my great-grandmother and her three daughters struggled to maintain their lives through  the first World War. 


         In 1921, the older two female sisters, Lea and Anna, immigrated to the United States, followed by their mother (my great-grandmother), Yenta, in 1929. The youngest sister, Shenka, married a man from Jablonka and immigrated to Argentina in 1926. Half of this family remained in Argentina, and the other half later immigrated to Israel.


         My family in Wysokie did not suffer through the Holocaust; unfortunately, my other family in other cities throughout Poland and Belarus were not as fortunate and many perished.


         To me, what personally started as a search to find the grave of my great-grandfather and two of his children in Wysokie has taken on new, more significant meaning. We have uncovered a Lipshitz matzevah (tombstone) in the Wysokie cemetery. Perhaps he was a cousin? He has the exact name as my grandfather, Schmuel, and he died in 1920. From the tombstone we have learned that his father’s name was Eliahu.


         But more meaningful to me presently, is to have provided a more appropriate and respectful holy resting place for the Jewish community in Wysokie. I am hopeful that this small remnant of what was a Jewish community will serve as a memorial to the Jewish soul of Wysokie Mazowiecie.


         In closing, I would like to thank Michael Traison and Wojtek Faszczewski, who initiated this restoration of the “Jewish Forest;” Dora Zitno of Argentina, our major contributor; our other donors (see the donor plaque at the cemetery); Norman Weinberg of the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project; and Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland; along with their responsive staffs for making this restoration possible.



Marvin A. Brooks


         For more information on the work of the foundation, see fodz.pl/?d=1&l=en

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/wysokie-mazowiecie/2006/12/13/

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