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January 16, 2017 / 18 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Eastern European’

Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman Sees New Era In Holocaust Restitution

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

“We feel that this is a critical moment in the history of property restitution,” Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, told The Jewish Press last week, after returning from a weeklong trip to Europe.

Berman spent the waning days of January in Brussels, attending and speaking at an event marking the ascendancy of Belgium to the presidency of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research – which is being renamed the International Holocaust Remembrance Organization.

Berman sees the organization’s new name as significant in itself. “A task force sounds relatively temporary and ad hoc. Now, they’re formalizing the institution.”

What Berman is especially excited about, however, is the attitude he observed at a World Jewish Restitution Organization briefing that same week for members of the European Parliament, where he also spoke. “What I found remarkable is that they were listening – you should excuse me – to the mussar to really [get serious about restitution for Holocaust-era assets]. There were people from the EU that got up and really started talking tachlis.”

Berman said that while Germany has given close to $70 billion in restitution, Eastern European countries have been much slower to offer compensation. Two years ago, though, 46 countries gathered for the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets – a meeting that Berman now regards as a major turning point. “The mere fact that there’s going to be a meeting near the end of the year to see what results have come down the pike since [the Prague conference] gives us the feeling that now business is business…. That conference evidently is a real new demarcation point.”

He added: “Of course, if you ask me, ‘Well, does that mean the money is coming around the corner?’ we know the answer is no. We know Eastern European countries are still [going to plead] poverty and claim there’s too much money involved and that if we give the Jews, we have to give the others too. But we’re just going to have to keep pushing away. This is the new front.”

Elliot Resnick

‘That’s How I Was Raised And I Turned Out Okay!’ (Conclusion)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

“What do you mean, ‘controlling’? This is called parenting! I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m being responsible. I’m parenting my children the same way my parents parented me. If it worked then, there’s nothing to question; it’ll work now. Besides, look at me; I turned out okay!”

Some people emulate their parents’ controlling behaviors such as yelling, criticizing, threatening and/or putting down their child. Their reaction is usually rapid and their reasoning is often rather simple. They are responding to an automatic program in their brain, an emblazoned imprint of instructions. Unfortunately, such parents may not necessarily realize that, in the process of using such conduct, there may be adverse effects on one or any number of their children. In the long run, they may be losing a great deal more than they perceive they are gaining (in the present), that is, a loving relationship.

That leads me to the following questions: “Why do so many parents use external control and why is it so difficult for them to break away from that approach?

Of course there are many possible answers and they vary. In Part I, we touched upon one issue: beliefs that are associated with Eastern European authoritarian parenting (although these beliefs are not exclusive to this one culture). In this concluding segment, other factors will be presented.

Fears and Anxieties; Second-Guessing, Projections and Future-Tripping:

In the past 10 years or so, fears and anxieties related to parenting have taken on a new dimension. With a rise in adolescents who are living emotionally unhealthy lifestyles, and who are veering from their family’s religious orientation, many parents have been beset with fears and anxieties as early as their children’s pre-school years. With the proliferation of community awareness, some parents have become overly concerned with what they perceive as early warning signs for teenage at-risk behavior. This concern often leads to the creation of assumptions and presumptions and a great deal of second-guessing.

Future-tripping is often also an accompaniment as parents begin to worry about their children’s future, based on little or no information. And with the purpose of preventing their children from moving toward future unwanted negative behaviors, some parents may use a tough and controlling approach, believing that control will head off an unwanted outcome. Their logic is noble and replete with positive intentions. However, their desire to provide self-assurance can easily lead them to a belief that they have the power to “fix” their children.

Expectations and Loss of Parents’ Dreams:

From the time a child is born, parents envision their child’s future where all their expectations and dreams are met. However, when a child does not follow in the path of the family’s religious ways and/or is not living as a productive member of society, the original dreams come to a full stop, often referred to as a lost dream. Some of the teen’s lifestyle choices intensify the parents’ feelings of grief. Concurrent feelings of disappointment, frustration, impatience and intolerance further reinforce the parents’ feelings of loss. At various points throughout the child’s struggles, parents may try to halt their child’s negative lifestyle choices by using various elements of external control. Thinking they can stop this downward spiral, the use of control usually intensifies the process. And ironically, the teen’s fall often progresses more rapidly.

Note: The majority of parents I have worked with have admitted to a belief that using external control will bring their child back on course and into the mainstream of “normal” religious society. With that achieved, their original expectations and dreams will have returned.


Many people have a need to conform to what identifies them in their society. This translates into: “My child has to be, act and dress in the same way as my neighbors and community people in order that we fit in. Keeping up with the Joneses is important if we are to belong and be accepted within our community.” They believe using external control will guarantee achieving these results.

Comparing One’s Family to Other Family Members, Friends and Neighbors:

When parents are not seeing the desired results in their child, and they observe seemingly successful families, there is a tendency for them to believe they are doing something wrong in their parenting approach. Observing another family who is achieving success with the use of external control easily generates self-doubt. The self-doubt can influence parents to emulate a controlling approach which may be a far cry from that which is applicable and appropriate for their family situation.

Keep in mind: It is easy for forget that every child is different, as is every family dynamic.

Habit and Comfort:

For those who are using a more empowering approach, positive results may not necessarily be apparent immediately. At such a point, due to frustration and possible impatience, there is a tendency to revert automatically to previous behaviors and parenting methodologies (i.e. control). After all, old ways are familiar and easy, and since we human beings have a need to be doing ‘something,’ it makes sense to attach ourselves to that ‘something’ that will provide us with comfort and security. Besides, a part of us believes the old way worked. And perhaps it did. However, either we did not pay attention to the repercussions or we forgot how our behaviors impacted negatively on ourselves and our family.

A controlling (tough) approach may have been suitable at a time and place referred to as Eastern Europe, before and after the turn of the 20th century. With a new land on the horizon, there was no reason to believe the same methodology would not work. And generations later, still there was no reason to believe the same approach would be ineffective.

That was then and this is now.

“Z’chor yemos olam, binu shnos dor v’dor…(Devarim 32:7) (Remember world history, understand the generational epochs).” Rashi interprets the word, “shnos” as generations; however, the word can also be derived from shinuy, which is change. With this different explanation, the following perspective can shed light on the theme of this article.

The Torah suggests we look back into out history. Study the changes and the differences that existed in the previous generation. Human interaction has similarities and differences in each generation. And the changes that must be made in each generation in order to effectively live within that time are specific and may not necessarily relate to the previous period. Therefore the application of techniques used in a previous time may be totally inappropriate for the current time.

Today’s society would greatly benefit by making adjustments, reassessing and re-evaluating its current systems and approaches in both the educational and parenting realms. The effect of world societal issues on our culture must be taken into consideration in order to understand and implement more effective parenting approaches that would suit current challenges.

Remember, external control may have worked in the previous generation in its cultural context. This does not necessarily follow that this approach would work for all families in our current period of history.

Debbie Brown is a certified life coach specializing in parent coaching. She is available for private, confidential phone coaching sessions as well as lectures and group workshops. For further information or to express feelings regarding the Parental Perspective topic, Debbie may be contacted at lovetoughcoach@aol.com. If you would like to read Debbie’s archived articles, log on to www.jewishpress.com, and in the search box on the home page, type in Debbie Brown.

Debbie Brown

‘That’s How I Was Raised And I Turned Out Okay!’ (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

There is something to be said about hearing a story with a yiddishe ta’am (taste). However, when the context changes, and the cultural inflection and accent are omitted, the panache wanes. Such was my recent experience after having heard a well-known tale modified to suit the eclectic assemblage of the audience. For you, my dear readership, though, I offer the original version as I heard it many years ago (for a deeper experience, as you read the text imagine how these characters would sound and look). If the lilt resonates, feel free to nod in agreement or smile with a sense of familiarity. So please indulge me these few paragraphs as I share this known anecdote.

A young balebuste was about to cook dinner. As she was preparing to put a large piece of meat in the pan, she grabbed a sharp knife and cut off a small chunk from the end. Her friend, baffled by this action, questioned the behavior and wondered whether a chumrah (strict religious adherence to Law) was being enacted. Querying her balebuste friend about this curious culinary preparatory step, the balebuste replied in a rather unequivocal, “I don’t really know. I do it because my mother did it, and I never thought of asking why she did it. Why don’t I call her now; I’m sure she’ll give me the answer.”

Without delay, the balebuste called her mother and posed that same question. Thinking she would gain clarity, to her astonishment, her mother’s words were almost identical to that of hers: “I don’t really know. I do it because my mother did it and I never thought of asking her for an explanation. She pauses. You know what, I’ll ask bubbie; I’m sure she’ll have a really good answer for both of us.”

And so the scenario repeated itself as the same question was presented to bubbie. Well guess what, there were no surprises! Bubbie’s response was similar to that of her daughter and granddaughter: “I don’t really know,” she exclaimed. “It’s what I did all these years; I just followed what my mother did in the kitchen. She pauses. Let’s ask my mother, der elter bubbie, zol zein gezunt (great-grandmother, she should live and be well). I’m sure she’ll have an answer for all of us.”

The next day, three generations of women visited the 90-something matriarch of the family. A resident of the local nursing home where she had been residing these past several years, der elter bubbie always had much to say. Being prepared to hear some wise words from this spirited, religious woman of valor, the family members patiently awaited an answer after having presented their question.And although hard of hearing, the elter bubbie who was very much in control of her faculties, responded in a serious tone of certainty and resolve. In her heavy polish-Yiddish accent, she stated: “Yuh, avadeh ich gedenkt gantz git (yes, of course I recall very well)!” She continued explaining that the only pots her family owned were too small in which to cook a large cut of meat. So she cut off the end piece and cooked it in another small pot.

What profound mystery! What a revelation! What a lesson!

Following a family’s culinary-related tradition rarely produces harmful effects. However, sometimes the stakes (excuse the pun!) are a lot higher. In such cases, when one emulates a behavior without evaluating the merits of the action, the consequences can be potentially devastating. I refer to the use of external control by parents as a way for them to achieve cooperation and compliance from their child, especially when their child is a struggling adolescent.

[Parenthetic note: External control refers to controlling behaviors such as criticism, threats, put-downs, yelling, hitting, punishing, bribing and evoking guilt, among other means of manipulation. This topic was the focus of my two-part article, “Bet’ya Can’t Make Me! – The Impact of External Control” (January 9 & 16).]

Some parents believe that using a tough and controlling methodology is the most effective way for them to rear healthy, cooperative children. However, they may not necessarily recognize that, in the process, there may be adverse effects on one or any number of their children. In these instances, parents may be losing a great deal more (in the long run) than they perceive they are gaining – a loving relationship. That being said, the questions I present in this two-part article are, “Why do so many parents use external control and why is it so difficult for them to break away from that approach?”

Other than a rather simplistic and proverbial justification, such as, “that’s how I was raised and I turned out okay!” or “because it worked back then,” let’s explore other possible reasons why many parents tend to use elements of control. We’ll begin with a socio-historical perspective based on observations of Eastern European Jewry (although these factors may also share commonality with other cultural backgrounds).

There existed a variety of beliefs associated with Eastern European authoritarian parenting, beliefs that still seem to be in use today. As the patriarch, the father was considered to be master of the home. This unspoken title embodied within it a role within a power position, an attitude, a mind-set and certain behaviors. These elements seemed to have had a lasting effect on the male children. Time moved on. When these children became parents, they easily slipped into the position and emulated that which was associated with the title. Perhaps that would explain why many parents today believe they are master “over” their children.

And what would the role of master be like without having in place a methodology to maintain the position? This translates into entitlement. Entitlement generates beliefs that children must dutifully meet the demands and expectations of their parents. Entitlement also fosters beliefs that children owe their parents nachas. When I think of children “owing” nachas to their parents, I cannot help but conjure up in my mind an image of an assembly line where the machinery is titled, “nachas-producing children.”

Here are a few more beliefs that may ring a bell, especially if you are of Eastern European descent.

Children have no or minimal rights, and their feelings and opinions do not count. Since they are young and unknowledgeable, they have little or nothing of value to contribute to adult issues affecting the home. (I wonder whether the expression, “Children should be seen and not heard,” has its roots in this belief!)

When a child does not cooperate or meet the parents’ expectations, the child “does not deserve” the love or respect of his/her parents.

It is the parents’ job and/or responsibility to “turn” their child into a responsible person, a mentsch and a shomer Torah u’mitzvos (religiously observant individual).

And in order to accomplish these goals, parents may use any means they perceive is necessary to ensure achieving their desired outcomes.

Such was the accepted norm of Eastern European authoritarian parenting in a generation that seems eons away from today’s world. However, that which may have worked at a different time and place may not necessarily be applicable to a percentage of today’s families.

In Part Two we will continue discussing reasons why many parents tend to use external control.

Debbie Brown is a certified life coach specializing in parent coaching. She is available for private, confidential phone coaching sessions as well as lectures and group workshops. For further information or to express feelings regarding the Parental Perspective topic, Debbie may be contacted at lovetoughcoach@aol.com. If you would like to read Debbie’s archived articles, log on to www.jewishpress.com and, in the search box on the home page, type in Debbie Brown.

Debbie Brown

Tzimmes Chicken

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

     Come Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, there are extra guests for dinner; I am always looking for a tasty family meal that everyone will enjoy. This tzimmes chicken combines the traditional ingredients in one pot.

      I looked up the definition of tzimmes and it means to make a fuss over someone or something. It is the sense of the word that gives this dish its name, a lot of things mixed together.

    The classic tzimmes is an Eastern European recipe for honey-baked carrots. In Yiddish, the word “meren” means “carrots” and  “to increase.” On Rosh Hashanah we often use carrots as they symbolize our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year. Another reason for eating them is that the sliced carrots look like golden coins – we wish that our pockets should never be empty in the year to come! Tzimmes recipes vary considerably but all of them are sweet and contain the vital ingredient of carrots.
Preparation Time:  15 minutes; Cooking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Serves: 6- 8 people
1 large chicken (5 pounds)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 sliced, unpeeled cooking apples
1 pound carrots, peeled, sliced into discs
2 cups pitted prunes, cut in half
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1-½ cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-inch fresh ginger root – peeled and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: 2 oranges, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Place the chicken in a large ovenware dish.
3. Mix the potatoes, apples, carrots and prunes together and place round the chicken.
4. Combine the chicken stock, wine, zest and juice of an orange, honey, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Pour over the chicken.
5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken as desired.

     To serve the stylish way: Dust the serving platter with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and garnish with sliced oranges.
     Denise Phillips is a Professional Chef and Cookery Writer. She may be contacted at: her e-mail – denise@jewishcookery.com and website: www.jewishcookery.com

Denise Phillips

The Rav Davens ‘Too Slow’

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

In the early 1970’s, my father, HaRav Moshe Aharon Shapiro, z”l, served as rabbi of a kosher, shomer Shabbos hotel in the Catskills. During one of those summers, my brother-in-law invited us to use his bungalow over the July 4th weekend. On Sunday we drove from the bungalow colony to visit my parents, arriving at the hotel between Minchah and Ma’ariv.

My wife and children visited my mother in the lobby, and I went to the shul where my father was giving a shiur (lecture) between Minchah and Ma’ariv. Not wanting to disturb the shiur, I sat in the back and waited for its conclusion. Immediately after the recitation of Kaddish De’Rabbanan, we began Ma’ariv.

At the end of Krias Sh’ma, the ba’al tefillah waited for the rabbi to finish before continuing. After I finished the silent Shmoneh Esrei, a young man standing next to me harrumphed, “This rav – I love him. His shiurim and drashos are excellent. But when it comes to Krias Sh’ma and Shmoneh Esrei, he doesn’t know Ivreh [how to read Hebrew]. He davens too slow!”

“Let me tell you a short story,” I rejoined.

“The rav of a large Eastern European city had passed away,” I said. “The three-man rabbinical search committee had heard of a rabbi from a distant village who [they believed] would be perfect for their city. So they traveled to the village, arriving just before Ma’ariv.

“The village rabbi’s minhag [custom] was to recite Krias Sh’ma aloud, word by word. When everyone completed the tefillah the entire congregation was silent, permitting the committee to hear the rabbi say aloud, ‘L’ma’an yirbu y’meichem vee’mei v’neichem – That your days and your children’s days be prolonged’

“The committee members were stunned. Such a brachah, given twice daily, gave them no doubt that this was their rabbi. So after Ma’ariv, they hired him on the spot – to start in two weeks.

“Two weeks later, the new rabbi arrived in the big city. At his first Shacharis service, as was his custom, he recited Krias Sh’ma aloud, word by word. But in his new shul the congregants davened faster, and finished saying Krias Sh’ma earlier.

“As the congregation became silent, they heard the rabbi saying, ‘v’charah af Hashem bachem – The wrath of Hashem will blaze against you’ ”

Being no fool, the young man said to me, “You may be right; perhaps I was davening too quickly.”

My father later told me that the young man did indeed daven slower – and with more kavanah – after this incident.

Abraham Shapiro

You Can’t Go Home: Digital Art By Shulamit Tibor

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Through the Curtain: Digital Art by Shulamit Tibor
Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012; (212) 824-2205
Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Selected Sundays
Free Admission: Until June 25, 2004


We all attempt to reap sustenance from the past. Our collective heritage acts as a foundation of cultural values necessary for us to build into the future. But what happens if we are cut off from that past? “Past the Shoah there is a black hole,” comments Shulamit Tibor, an Israeli artist whose new digital prints confront the memory of the Yiddish Theater in an attempt to
pierce the silence and reclaim that which is rightfully hers.

Tibor’s unusual images are constructed from scanned photographs of productions at the Yiddish Theater of Warsaw (1920’s), the Moscow Yiddish State Theater (1920’s), the Vilna Troupe (1920’s), and the Yiddishpiel Theater of Tel Aviv (1990’s). With this diverse source material, she has constructed a series of eighteen large and dramatic Lamda Prints in which the
images are edited, cut, pasted, manipulated and reconstructed to simultaneously represent a largely vanished Jewish theatrical world and our inaccessibility to it. She has worked on this project for the last two years, and the current exhibition at the Hebrew Union College Gallery, curated by Laura Kruger, represents a selection of the 45 artworks created.

After 25 years of painting a wide variety of subjects and styles, Tibor turned to the computer as a new means of expression, creating images that manipulated light and photographs in the creation of interior and exterior environments immediately recognizable and yet totally fabricated. Using the raw material of the Yiddish Theater, some of which is on display to provide a startling comparison, Tibor has again fabricated a totally remarkable world.

This constructed visual world represents for her the collective memory of the Yiddish Theater that was almost totally erased after the war. She remembers vividly her parents’ tales of the Yiddish Theater in Europe that slowly faded in an Israel that turned its back on the Eastern European past, a past that felt shameful and filled with tragedy. The Yiddish Theater in Israel in the late 1940’s and 1950’s was performed only in Hebrew, and Eastern European culture was generally shunned in the Israeli secular public schools where she was educated. She feels that her current work is “closing the circle” of memories lost to the next generation of youth and Sephardim.

Distance and longing are central to her vision in the image of The Dybbuk. A spectral female figure commands the center stage surrounded by a crowd that fills the middle ground. She is frozen in mid-step, a luminous outsider passing through the glum reality behind her. The figure is created digitally by cutting and transposing one figure over an existing image. The entire mysterious scene is further removed from the viewer by the transparent curtain that distorts our vision. S. Anksy’s great masterpiece of Yiddish Theater thus haunts us, invading our consciousness and disturbing our dreams as a dybbuk in search of a resting place.

Mirele Efros is also glimpsed behind a curtained image. Here also Tibor has rearranged the figures and, through the means of the partially transparent scrim, has manipulated the characters to her own ends. The relationship between the mother and her daughter-in-law (played by Ida Kaminska and her daughter Ruth Turgow) is strangely shifted as the daughter-in-law is emphasized by her centrality and light, even as the scrim obscures her face. This is echoed by the fact that each of the characters is partially obscured and immersed in their own thoughts. The psychological drama is thus vividly evoked as playing out on the other side of a visual barrier imposed by the artist. The viewer feels as trapped on this side of the scrim as the frozen characters on the other side.

Tibor breaks through this barrier in three singular images from Chomesh Songs. The material she uses is from the contemporary Yiddishpiel Theater in Tel Aviv in 1990. Each is a radically different image showcasing the artist’s skills. In one (40 x 20) a girl in a colorful costume is distantly glimpsed through a crack in a digital door. She and a black and white companion peer out at us as if we were on stage, expected to perform. The next image shatters a scene of four players with a vertical slicer as if the theatrical reality had been shredded to conceal its identity. Even though all the parts are properly arranged, the viewer must constantly reconstruct the image much in the same way that Yiddish Theater performed today feels like an oddly reconstructed vision of the past.

The past looms even more emphatically in the third image (40 x 30) of Chomesh Songs. Two costumed figures face us bravely in the midst of speaking or singing directly to the audience. In the context of the other exhibition prints, they are alarmingly direct, perhaps because looming behind them Tibor has placed their negative images, devoid of color and twice their size. This negative presence completely alters our understanding of the stage performance by suggesting that in the Yiddish Theater, each actor and each character casts a kind of negative shadow of performances and performers long gone. It is almost as if no matter how contemporary a performance may seem, the past with its glorious memories haunts the present day stage,
confusing and complicating what we witness.

Shimale’s Dream brings us to the very edge of pathos by placing the lead character, seen in what must be heartfelt song, between two stately columns. This formal frame, coolly lit in the foreground with a bluish light, isolates, flattens and emotionally crushes the performance we glimpse. The artist has made us painfully aware of two distinct worlds that may never coincide.
Today’s theater, represented by the realistically lit columns, is seen as pristine and empty. Seen behind the contemporary reality is an emotional performance that we know would move us to tears, if we could only reach it.

Shulamit Tibor’s remarkable prints explore the complexities of the contemporary audience’s relationship with the Yiddish Theater. Fueled by childhood memories of that which was already out of reach, Tibor’s longing to connect with the Yiddish Theater is the engine of her creativity. For us, the curtain may never be fully opened. Indeed, no matter how much we may try, it seems you can’t go home anymore.

Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at www.richardmcbee.com.

Richard McBee

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/you-cant-go-home-digital-art-by-shulamit-tibor/2004/04/14/

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