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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘History’

Breaking the Silence: Teaching Hebron’s Real Jewish History to Young Israelis

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

In recent years, radical-Left NGOs have marked Hebron as a strategic target through which to facilitate and promote international pressure on Israel. Rightwing Jewish movement Im Tirtzu is planning to change that, inviting thousands of Israeli students to visit the city of Hebron on regular tours aimed at strengthening the historical national connection to the city. The program, run by Im Tirtzu and the Jewish Community of Hebron, exposes students to the realities of Hebron, their main goal being “to connect more students to the history of Hebron and to strengthen each student’s deep connection to the place.”

Tour organizers expect a turnout of 5,000 students throughout the academic year.

The first tour takes place on Thursday, leaving from Bar-Ilan University on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. According to Im Tirtzu, the tours provides a balancing point of view in a milieu where radical, anti-Israel groups use tours of the city to slander and delegitimize Israel. They will visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, David HaMelech Street, the ancient Jewish cemetery, Tel Romeda, Beit Romano, and the Hebron Heritage Museum.

The program organizers have discussed potential run-ins with radical anti-Zionist groups during the tour, concluding that “if students on the tour encounter foreign journalists, European MPs, or anti-Israel propaganda tours led by radical Left NGOs, they will be permitted to provide them with educational materials that expose the hypocrisy and double standards of the delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

“Of course,” the organizers stress, “there must be an emphasis on appropriate conduct and politeness.”

The program is expected to run at all the Israeli universities and colleges with Im Tirtzu groups, including Hebrew University, the Technion, and Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion, Bar-Ilan, Haifa, and Ariel universities.

Spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community Yishai Fleisher noted that “Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs are at the foundation of the People of Israel and represent our historical right to the land. It is astonishing that the anti-Zionist narrative brazenly chooses to rip out these deep historical roots – entrenched in Jewish consciousness and borne out by archaeological proof – in their slanderous tours of the city. Apparently, they believe that the Jews and the world have forgotten history, and so they promote a false narrative depicting Jews as foreigners and as occupiers of their own country.”

Fleisher expressed his hope that the Im Tirtzu tours will help “thousands of students to learn the historical truth of Hebron that will strengthen their connection to the city. They will also learn about the heroic spirit of Hebron that is much-needed today. In the end, the program will empower the students, the State of Israel’s presence in Hebron, and the entire Zionist narrative.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg has written the leaders of the Jewish Community of Hebron that “Im Tirtzu recognized that radical organizations are trying to harm one of the most important historical locations of the People of Israel. Bringing hundreds and thousands of students to Hebron this year and in upcoming years is the best answer to all those who are trying to rewrite the history of Israel.”

“These tours,” Peleg continued, “will ensure that the historical connection to Hebron will be passed on to the next generation of Israelis who will see with their own eyes what’s happening in the city and will learn about the lies perpetrated by radical organizations.”

Peleg expressed his commitment that Im Tirtzu would help keep Hebron at the heart of the Israeli consensus “despite the efforts of foreign-agent organizations.” Noting that Jewish history in Israel began in Hebron, with the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs some 3,500 years ago, Peleg promised that Im Tirtzu would help “the future of Israel continue to prosper in Hebron.”


Danger Zone – I Am My Brothers Keeper [audio]

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

The book, “I Am My Brothers Keeper – American Volunteers in Israel’s War for Independence 1947-1949” is the story of the more than one thousand Americans and Canadians, Jews and non-Jews, who fought in Israel’s War of Independence that gave birth to the Israeli Air Force. On today’s show we interview the Author Jeffery Weiss. You will learn a lot and hear things from the war you never knew.

-with Gadi Adelman Danger Zone 31OCT2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Arab Terror in Jerusalem Targets Jewish Homes and Buses

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Stoning and other terrorist attacks by Jerusalem Arabs over the past ten days have seemed to skyrocket around the Israeli capital following passage of a first, and then second resolution by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) erasing ancient historical ties between Judaism and Jerusalem.

The second resolution, passed by the World Heritage Committee, was proposed by Tunisia and Lebanon on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, neither of whom could vote on the measure because neither are members of the World Heritage Committee.

Arab terrorists on Wednesday hurled stones at an Israeli public bus traveling in Jerusalem as the vehicle drove around the Mount of Olives.

It was the second stoning attack in the Israeli capital in a matter of hours, following an earlier attack on an Israeli bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur which resulted in a smashed windshield on the vehicle.

None of the passengers were physically injured in the Mount of Olives attack, nor did the attackers succeed in damaging the bus.

In another attack, Arab attackers hurled stones at the Beit Yonatan apartment building in the ancient Jerusalem neighborhood of Shiloach (Silwan), as well as at a security vehicle that was passing in the area.

Arab terrorists also carried out a third attack on Rehov HaKari in the Old City of Jerusalem, hurling a glass bottle at a pedestrian who miraculously was not injured in the attack.

Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told JewishPress.com, “There was an incident reported of stones thrown near the Old City. Police units searched the area for suspects. General Security measures continue in and around the Old City,” he said.

Rosenfeld added that it is not believed the attacks are related to the UNESCO resolution, nor do they comprise a new, or renewed “wave of terror” beginning in the capital.

Hana Levi Julian

Fiddlers On The Loose: A Short History Of Klezmer

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

They were regarded with disdain, but you couldn’t have a Jewish wedding without them. And when the Holocaust seemed to silence every joyful song, it looked like it was the end of the klezmer musician, too. But klezmer music is the ultimate comeback kid, and its musicians have been bouncing back for more than 400 years.


Fiddling Around

After the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, Chazal placed several restrictions on listening to music. Yet, there are times when we are commanded to be joyful, such as on Purim or at another seudas mitzvah, as well as times when we are commanded to make others joyful, with the prime example being the mitzvah to gladden the bride and groom at their wedding. Therefore, Jewish music never completely died out.

During the early Middle Ages, Jewish singers and musicians in Central Europe were lumped together with dancers and wedding jesters (badchanim) and given the general moniker leyts – which meant public entertainer, but still carried overtones from its earlier meaning, a clown or scoffer. They took a small step up the social ladder in 1558 when Prague’s Jewish musicians were given permission to form their own guild, but being a musician remained a less than prestigious job for centuries.astaire-101416-painting

The first time we find the word “klezmer” – which is thought to be derived from the Hebrew words kli (vessel or instrument) and zemer (song or music) – is in a Krakow manuscript dated 1595, where the term was used to describe a musician. “Klezmer” wasn’t used to describe the actual music until the 1900s; until then the music the klezmorim played was just generally described as Jewish music.

When the early klezmer musicians had to choose a mascot for their new guild, they chose the musical instrument that has been associated with Jewish music for centuries: the fidl, also known as the fiddle or violin. This was because a klezmer band was often led by the man who played the first violin, a position that was usually passed down from father to son, or to son-in-law. The other instruments in the early ensembles were usually a cimbalom (hammered dulcimer), a contra violin, a bass or cello, and a wooden flute. The clarinet made its first appearance in a klezmer band in the early 1800s. Also around this time the frame drum was introduced. Brass instruments became part of the band when 19th-century Jewish soldiers returned home; some of them had played in military bands during their army service and they incorporated the sound into their klezmer ensembles.

One thing klezmer instruments usually had in common was their portability. Jewish musicians didn’t play in concert halls; they played wherever there was work and they needed to be able to easily transport their instruments from job to job. Throughout the centuries, the musicians’ main source of livelihood came from weddings, but they would also be invited to play at celebrations for Purim, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh, as well as on Chol Hamoed Sukkos and Pesach.

Chassidic rebbes would also invite klezmer musicians to play at their courts and some even had their own private group of musicians. Several Chassidic rebbes were themselves musically gifted, such as Chabad’s Baal HaTanya and the rebbes of Modzitz, and their niggunim added a deeply spiritual dimension to the Jewish music repertoire.


Music With a Kretch

Because klezmer musicians usually didn’t write down their compositions – instead they simply passed them down from father to son – only a small portion of the original klezmer repertoire has come down to us. Therefore, much of the music’s early history has been lost.

The music’s roots, of course, go back to Eretz Yisrael and Middle Eastern modes that later found their way into the synagogue ritual music sung by the chazzan. Perhaps that’s why the violin and the clarinet – the two instruments that can best imitate the human voice – have always been the dominant instruments in a klezmer ensemble. No other instruments can capture the laugh or the kretch (sob) that is so often heard in a klezmer song.

But by the time klezmer began to develop as a distinct musical art form, the exile had taken the Jewish people far away from their homeland and it was often non-Jews who were calling the tune. For instance, in Prague, Jewish musicians could only play at Jewish events. In some Bohemian towns the Jews could only play “quiet” instruments, like the fiddle and flute, and were forbidden to play loud drums or horns. Sometimes, they were restricted to certain hours of the day, as well.

astaire-101416-portraitYet there were other places and times where Jewish bands played at non-Jewish gatherings, and as the musicians traveled about they began to absorb influences from the surrounding cultures. The Jewish hora, for instance, has its roots in the popular Romanian circle dance that also found its way into the folk culture of Moldavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Poland added the mazurka to the klezmer repertoire, while the sher, which is Yiddish for scissors and resembles the American square dance, can be traced back to a 16th-century Germany dance, according to ethnomusicologist Moshe Beregovski.

One group that had a particularly strong influence on klezmer musicians were the Gypsies, or the Romani. After the Turks were expelled from Hungary in 1699, some Jewish musicians from southern Poland settled there and began to collaborate with Gypsy musicians. Gypsy ensembles often consisted of many of the same instruments, including the all-important violin, and their music could be lively or sad, like the klezmer repertoire. Sometimes, if a klezmer band had an engagement and one of the regulars couldn’t make it, the Jews would recruit a Gypsy musician to fill the ranks and usually no one knew the difference. Indeed, Romani musicians were so familiar with the songs that after the Holocaust – during which it’s estimated that about 90 percent of Europe’s klezmer musicians were murdered – it was often Gypsy musicians who recalled the old Jewish music and passed it on to a new generation of musicians.


Klezmer Comes to America

When Eastern European Jews arrived in America during the late 1800s and early1900s, they brought along their Yiddish culture, but many of them also came with a desire to become Americanized as quickly as possible. Therefore, even though there were klezmer musicians such as the clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras and bandleader Abe Schwartz who performed live and in the recording studio, popular tastes were changing. Indeed, by the time Moshe Beregovski gave the music a name – klezmerishe musik – in his 1938 book Yiddishe Instrumentalishe Folksmuzik, the music was considered old-fashioned, a relic of a pogrom-filled past that many people wanted to forget. As for the poor klezmer musician, unlike the “muzikant,” he was considered to be an illiterate musician who couldn’t read a single note of music, playing instead by ear.

While some klezmerishe musik would still be played at weddings and other family celebrations, to please the older generation, much more popular were the songs written in the 1930s and 1940s by Jewish musicians like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern. Hebrew folk songs, including the 1920s classic Hava Nagila, also became popular. There were echoes of klezmer in Swing-era hits like Bei Mir Bistu Schein and And the Angels Sing, based upon the klezmer song Der Shtiller Bulgar (The Quiet Bulgar), but when Swing went out of fashion in the 1950s it looked like the last gasps of klezmer were going to expire with it. After all, the destruction of Jewish life and culture during the Holocaust had been so complete it seemed unthinkable that any part of the culture would ever be revived.

But then came the 1970s, a time when many Jewish youth – the grandchildren of the Jewish immigrants who first arrived on American shores – began to explore their Jewish heritage. While the journey of some led them to explore religion and become baalei teshuvah, for others the path led back to secular Yiddish culture, including traditional Jewish music.

According to legend, the new interest in klezmer began when Jewish banjo player Henry “Hank” Sapoznik was once playing bluegrass with Appalachian fiddler Tommy Jarrell and Jarrell asked him, “Don’t you people got none of your own music?” The question sent Sapoznik on a quest to seek out still-living klezmer musicians as well as old ‘78 recordings from the early years of the century. He then formed his own ensemble, Kapelye, that recreated klezmer music from the 1920s.

Those early efforts were followed by the efforts of musicians like Andy Statman and Yale Strom in the United States and Giora Feidman in Israel. By the 1980s, Beregovski’s klezmerishe musik had been shortened to just “klezmer” and groups like the Klezmorim, the Klezmatics and a host of other ensembles were popularizing klezmer throughout the world.


Fiddle Shticks?

By the 1990s, klezmer concerts and festivals were being held in the former Jewish quarters of Krakow, Prague, Berlin and other cities whose Jewish populations had been murdered during the Holocaust. Often, the klezmer groups’ musicians weren’t Jewish and they played primarily to non-Jewish audiences. In Ruth Ellen Gruber’s book Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, she described some Jewish reactions to this “Judenfrei” revival of klezmer: “kitsch that perpetrates offenses reminiscent of blackface minstrel shows.”

Others have objected to the fact that klezmer is now being fused with just about every musical genre under the sun, from bluegrass to electronica to reggae to Norwegian folk music. Can there be anything authentic left in this musical soup?

For many of today’s klezmer musicians, authenticity isn’t the point. In the Internet Age, when everyone’s culture is at the fingertips of everyone else, cultural borrowings and transformations are both positive and the norm. Besides, they would say, klezmer has always absorbed influences from its surrounding culture and so today’s fusions are nothing new.

But Bob Cohen of Di Naye Kapelye (The New Band) is a klezmer traditionalist who disagrees. Indeed, on his band’s website he explains why he doesn’t use the word klezmer to describe his music. “Today klezmer seems to mean just about anything vaguely Jewish with a clarinet … In Di Naye Kapelye, we prefer to tell folks we play Jewish music. Old Jewish music.”

The klezmorim of pre-war Europe would understand.

Libi Astaire

History Of Jews In Golders Green

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

After the Jews were allowed back into England around 1656, they came from Europe by ship into the ports on the English East coast, mainly London, but also to some of the smaller ports, such as Dover.

London during that time period was a small city, bounded by a medieval wall with many gates, some of whose names are still in use today: Moorgate and Aldgate, for example. Indeed in the city itself one of the main streets retains the name London Wall, and the remaining sections of the wall can be seen alongside it.

The Jews who landed at London’s port, located at the eastern end of the city, did not have the wherewithal to go far, and settled in what it still known as the “East End,” like what happened in the Lower East Side of New York.

In 1809, the underground railway was extended to Golders Green and beyond, and many Jews who could afford to began moving in that direction. This was probably the real start of the Jews settling in the NW London areas.



There has been a prominent Jewish community in this part of London since the first half of the 20th century. The Jewish community took root after Hitler’s rise to power, with the first German Jewish immigrants forming the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash. Soon after, Galician Jewish immigrants formed other synagogues. With these shuls came the start of Jewish schools such as Menorah before the onset of World War II.

By the 1950s, the Jewish population had tripled. Today there are close to 50 kosher restaurants and eateries under rabbinical supervision in Golders Green. There are also more than 60 synagogues dotted throughout the area serving the extremely Orthodox to the quite liberal. They continue into neighbouring Hendon. In addition, there are 30 schools (some in outlying areas due to space restriction), many of them private.

Dustan Road

Dustan Road

In 1922, a group of Orthodox Jews consecrated a synagogue at Dunstan Road, Golders Green, and since then many others have joined them in that 2-mile square of space. The synagogue still stands. During the week you will see many Jews dressed in traditional clothing and openly wearing head coverings. As can be found in other parts of the world today, the shuls do have security, but Baruch Hashem there has not been any trouble or difficulty in Golders Green to disturb Orthodox Jews. As a matter of fact, on Shabbat and all holidays, very many walk to shul with their talliseim worn openly over their coat and heads covered by a hat or a shtreimel.

Jews make up 37% of the population according to the 2011 census, whereas Christians made up 26%. Ethnically, the Golders Green ward was 64% white (43% British, 21% other, 1% Irish).

Today, there is also an eiruv and at least one mikvah.

Golders Green is well known as a secure and safe “hub” of the London Jewish community.

Murray Lee

A History of ‘Evenhanded’ Failure

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to Commentary Magazine}

Among those diplomats and journalists who don’t simply blame the Arab-Israeli conflict entirely on Israel, the preferred approach is “evenhandedness.” This approach, epitomized by the “cycle of violence” cliché, holds that both sides want peace and are equally to blame for its absence. Remarkably, this view has persisted despite decades of proving wrong in ways that hurt the very countries which espouse it – as demonstrated yet again by newly released documents from the Nixon Administration.

The documents, which Amir Oren reported this week in Haaretz, include redacted versions of the CIA’s daily presidential briefings on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The agency’s cluelessness is mind-blowing.

On October 5, 1973, one day before the war began, the CIA acknowledged that “The military exercises underway in Egypt seem to be on a larger scale and are being conducted more realistically than previous ones,” but nevertheless insisted that “they do not appear to be preparations for an offensive against Israel.” The agency even dismissed an obvious danger sign as a reasonable response to fears of Israeli aggression: “Cairo may have put its air defense and air forces on alert as a precaution against an Israeli reaction to the initial phase of the exercise.”

On October 6, just hours before the war began, the CIA’s briefing was similarly disconnected from reality:

Tension along Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria has been heightened by a Soviet airlift that is in its second day. Neither the Israelis nor the Arabs seem bent on starting hostilities, but in this atmosphere the risk of clashes is greater than usual. … Both the Israelis and the Arabs are becoming increasingly concerned about their adversaries’ military activities, but neither side seems bent on starting hostilities … A military initiative at this time would make little sense for either Cairo or Damascus.

Once again, the agency seemed to view potential Israeli aggression as the main concern: “Syria’s cautious President [Hafez] Assad appears braced for a possible second blow from Israel rather than seeking revenge for his recent loss of 13 MIGs to Israeli fighters … Nevertheless, the Syrians’ fears could lead to a mobilization of their defenses, which in turn could alarm and galvanize the Israelis. Such a cycle of action and reaction would increase the risk of military clashes which neither side originally intended.”

And once again, it ignored clear danger signs, like the evacuation of Soviet dependents from Egypt and Syria. While admitting that this could be due to “fear of an outbreak of hostilities,” it optimistically suggested that instead, “The Soviets might be using the excuse of rising tensions to reduce their presence without annoying the Egyptians.”

What actually happened on October 6 is history: Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated assault on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. This had serious consequences for America, which I’ll get to shortly. But first, consider the question of why the CIA was so oblivious to the danger signs.

This can’t be attributed solely to its lack of good intelligence sources in Cairo and Damascus, though that lack is evident. First, as Oren noted, America had already received warning from someone with excellent sources in both capitals: King Hussein of Jordan. On September 25, Hussein took the extraordinary step of meeting with Israel’s prime minister, despite the countries’ lack of formal diplomatic ties, to warn that Syria and Egypt would soon attack. Israel relayed this to the White House, which informed the CIA.

Moreover, though the CIA asserted on October 5 that “the Israelis are not nervous” about the Egyptian exercise, on October 6, it acknowledged that the Israelis were now very nervous; they no longer viewed Egypt’s activity as “normal” and Syria’s activity as “defensive.” Since Israel had fought three wars with Syria and Egypt in the past 25 years and monitored its neighbors’ military activity very closely, the fact that Israel now deemed the Egyptian-Syrian activity unusual and worrying was an obvious danger sign, especially against the background of Hussein’s warning. Yet the CIA dismissed it as unimportant, blithely reiterating that “neither side” wanted hostilities and that its main concern was any Israeli move which could provoke “a cycle of action and reaction.”

The only explanation that makes sense is the one that emerges clearly from the briefings’ language: The CIA was so committed to its “evenhanded” approach, in which “neither side” wanted war, that it ignored all evidence to the contrary. Yet in reality, only one side wanted to avoid war. The other side, Syria and Egypt, was in fact “bent on starting hostilities.”

This ideological blindness ended up hurting not just Israel, but also America. Because the CIA insisted that neither side wanted war, and that the real danger was Israeli action, which could provoke a Syrian/Egyptian response, Washington exerted heavy pressure on Israel to refrain not just from launching a preemptive strike, but also even from a large-scale call-up of the reserves. This pressure might have been less effective had Israel’s own intelligence agencies not also blundered, but it nevertheless contributed to the final result: Israel ended up absorbing a two-front attack from two much larger armies without adequate forces in place to meet it. Consequently, it suffered a rout during the first few days and had insufficient weaponry left to launch a counteroffensive.

This was the height of the Cold War, and an American client was already losing to Communist forces in Vietnam; Washington couldn’t afford to have an American client lose to two Soviet clients in the Mideast as well. So Nixon ordered a massive airlift of arms, which enabled Israel to win a decisive victory.

But the airlift had two pernicious consequences. First, it inflamed tensions with America’s European allies, since European countries categorically refused to let the U.S. planes land and refuel (Portugal eventually capitulated to American pressure and permitted refueling in the Azores Islands). More importantly, it inflamed the Arab world, which responded with an oil embargo that inflicted major damage on the U.S. economy.

The oil embargo probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the airlift. The airlift might have been unnecessary had Washington not pressured Israel before the war to refrain from steps that could have helped it win quickly, like a preemptive strike or an earlier call-up of the reserves. And Washington might not have pressured Israel in this fashion had it actually understood that Syria and Egypt were “bent on starting hostilities.” But the CIA, stuck in its “evenhanded” mindset, provided policy makers with egregiously incorrect assessments. And America paid the price.

Forty-three years later, it seems the lessons still haven’t been learned. The Palestinians and Hezbollah have replaced Cairo and Damascus as Israel’s main Arab enemies (Iran is non-Arab), but the world still prates about the “cycle of violence” and insists that “neither side” wants war, no matter how many times the Arabs say otherwise. And Western countries are still suffering from their own cluelessness about the conflict’s real nature.

Evelyn Gordon

The Truth About the UN with Danny Ayalon

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Video of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/video-picks/the-truth-about-the-un-with-danny-ayalon/2016/09/06/

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