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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Community Center’

Vandals Spray Paint Portland Jewish Institutions

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Vandals defaced a Portland synagogue and a community center with racist graffiti. “White power” was written in red spray paint on promotional banners at Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Neveh Shalom, a conservative synagogue, police said, according to The Oregonian.

Both institutions are located in southwest Portland, and authorities are seeking a man in his early 20s who was spotted in the area shortly before the graffiti was discovered.

Teen Synagogue Firebomber Charged With Another Attempt

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The teen loner awaiting trial for the firebombings of two northern New Jersey synagogues has been charged with an additional arson attempt at the Jewish Community Center of Paramus.

Anthony Graziano, 19, was arrested on January 23 and charged with nine counts of attempted murder, bias intimidation, and arson in two attacks in early January – a January 3 Molotov cocktail assault on Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus and a January 11 attack on Congregation Beth El in Rutherford.

Authorities leveled additional charges against Graziano on Friday after finding several Molotov cocktails in the woods near the Jewish Community Center of Paramus and finding internet searches on Graziano’s computer on how to assemble the potentially lethal homemade bombs as well as searches on news coverage of the bombings. Empty spray paint cans and an abandoned bicycle were also found near the scene. Graziano also owns a firearm purchaser ID enabling him to buy a rifle or shotgun, according to a report by Fox News.

Graziano has pled not guilty to all charges. Prior to the discovery of the bombs outside the Paramus community center, Graziano faced up to 80 years in prison. Now, he faces 95.

This week, Graziano’s attorney will attempt to reduce his $5 million bail and have the trial venue moved because of high levels of media coverage.

Pesach In Poland

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Every year, Pesach is one of the most celebrated holidays throughout the world – and Pesach in Poland is no exception. This year there were numerous private and public sederim around the country.


The Birkat HaChamah celebration on erev Pesach, which attracted over 50 people in Warsaw, was an added feature. The Jewish community’s publication of a special pamphlet for the occasion included all the appropriate prayers, as well as a detailed explanation of the rare occurrence.


Here are the Pesach-related activities that took place throughout Poland:


Warsaw:


To prepare for Pesach, the chametz was burned in the courtyard of the Jewish Community Center of Warsaw. The Seder was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in the spacious Opera Room, with preparations for over 200 people and tables set for those fluent in English, Hebrew and Polish.

 

 


Rabbi Zarczynski burning the chametz in the courtyard of the Jewish Community Center of Warsaw.


 


Rabbi Pinchas Zarczynski of Warsaw

 

 

 


(L-R) Yitzchak Moshe Krakowski, Warsaw Kollel member; Rafi Minc, an oleh who returned for Pesach to be with his family; and Mikhael Hermon, head of Kol Polin, Hebrew language program on Radio Polska.

 

 

 

 


 (L-R) Steven Goldstein, director of Superpharm Poland; Minc; and Hermon dancing at the Birkat HaChamah ceremony’s conclusion. (photos by Piotr Sadurski)

 


Poznań:


For the first time since this community was decimated at the hands of the Shoah, a Seder was held in the Poznan Jewish community.


Wrocław:


A large Seder was held in the city’s Jewish community center.


Krakow:


Krakow’s large communal Seder took place at the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow.


Lublin:


For the first time since the Shoah, a Seder – with approximately 100 people in attendance – was held at Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. This followed the chametz’s burning before Pesach in the yeshiva’s courtyard. As a background note, Warsaw’s Jewish community received ownership of the yeshiva building in 2003. Since then, parts of the building have been gradually renovated in order to serve as a holiday gathering venue for the small number of local Jews. Other events take place there, as well.

Torah MiTzion Kollel In Warsaw

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

          Every time I come to Poland there is some new sign of the resurgence of the religious Jewish community. This past August, while sitting in the garden of the Jewish Community Center of Warsaw on my first day, I overheard a family talking in Hebrew. At first I thought they were tourists who had quickly built a nice rapport with the other members of the community whom they were talking to. But then I was introduced to Rabbi Ephraim and Efrat Meisels of Torah MiTzion Kollel.

 

         Rabbi Meisels had just arrived a week earlier and was busy getting to know the people that came to the Community Center. I asked him what his plans were and he surprised me by saying that he came to Poland from Israel, as a shaliach of Torah MiTzion, to open a Kollel.

 

         Intrigued, I sat down with Rabbi Meisels to find out more. Is there a need for a kollel in Warsaw? How many people does he expect will join him in his program? What courses of study will he offer? Who will pay for the salaries and what exactly is Torah MiTzion.

 

         A kollel is usually an advanced Jewish study program for married men on a full-time basis. Kollelim are usually connected to large yeshivot and considered a continuance of ones education. Unlike most other institutes of higher learning, a person in a kollel does not aim for a degree but learns for the sake of its own merit. Comprised of married men, who would normally have to work to earn a living, the kollel gives a stipend to its students and is supported by the community in which it is located.

 

         The initiative for Torah MiTzion originated from the Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Har-Etzion with the support of its Roshei Yeshiva – Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav Yehuda Amital. The first kollel in the U.S. was set up in Cleveland, Ohio, with Rabbi Binyamin Tabory as the first Rosh Kollel. At the same time, Rabbi Jonathan Glass made a dream come true by establishing the Yeshiva of Cape Town, South Africa. Today there are over 25 kollelim, on five continents, under the auspices of Torah MiTzion.

 

         The aim of the program is to assist local leadership strengthen Judaism in their communities, through the creation of a unique Torah atmosphere, which includes Judaism and Zionism. The kollel students divide their time between intensive studies in the beit midrash, under the leadership of a charismatic and scholarly rosh kollel, and participation in local community life.

 

         Time is invested in shiurim (classes), study in the chavrutah (one-on-one tutoring and learning) format together with members of the community, and general educational activities in the community from school to shul (synagogue), during the week and Shabbat – all aimed at strengthening Jewish identity and Torah knowledge among all sectors of the Jewish community.

 

 


Rabbi Ephraim Meisels giving his morning Torah class in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw.

 

 

         The kollel wives are also a crucial part of the system – they teach formally in the schools, arrange special shiurim for girls and women of the community, host families at their homes and are involved on all levels with the kollel activities.

 

         There is no single model for a kollel program. The kollel can consist of a rosh kollel and young married men (avreichim) or unmarried students (bachurim). Each program strives to meet the specific needs of that community.

 

         In Warsaw, Rabbi Meisels has, since I met him, set up daily classes after every prayer session, and regular classes at all levels, as his students have hardly had a chance for regular Torah classes, until now. He also travels to other cities, outside Warsaw, to bring them a higher level of learning.

 

         One Shabbat, while in Poland, I was privileged to be in the city of Lodz at the same time as Rabbi Meisels and I enjoyed his classes. He has also taken an interest in the practical needs of the community and works closely with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, in many other matters.

 

         At first, Rabbi Meisels spoke no Polish and very little English. But after one month, he was already picking up both languages. It is remarkable to watch his two children running around Warsaw with his wife Efrat rushing after them.

 

         Since I have come back to the U.S., I have learned that there is a new member in the Meisels family, as Efrat has given birth to a third child, a boy (I will pass on the name of the baby as soon as I get it). The Meisels are an amazing family, willing to travel to a foreign country, to enrich and enhance Jewish communities around the world by promoting the lofty ideals of Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.

Vandals Desecrate Cemetery

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

       Last week, Mr. Sigmund Rolat visited his birthplace in Poland, the city of Czestochowa. As he does on every trip, he took time out to pay his respects to the local Jewish cemetery. On this last trip, he made the horrible discovery that approximately 100 matzevot (gravestones) had been marked with anti-Semitic phrases and Nazi symbols. The markings included the letters SS, swastikas and the slogan “Jude Raus” (“Jews Out” written in German).

 

         Mr. Rolat was particularly upset because he has been working tirelessly for the past number of years to build an understanding between the Poles and the Jews. He has sponsored many events that enabled the local population to better understand, not just the Jewish experience, but also to realize that Jews were an important part of Polish society before the Shoah. Jews contributed in every way. They were involved in the arts, politics, agriculture, economics and commerce.

 

         One project of which Mr. Rolat is especially proud is connected with the local art school, where they created art through different mediums, inspired by Jewish themes.

 

         But the newest act of vandalism shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.

 

         Along with the work that Mr. Rolat has done with the townspeople, he also has done much to restore and maintain the cemetery in which the desecration took place. Just recently, at the beginning of the summer – as reported in this column – Mr. Rolat presided over a dedication of a new Jewish Community Center in the town.

 

         The day after the vandalism was discovered, 20 students from the local art school joined the chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and the mayor of Czestochowa, Tadeusz Wrona, in attempting to clean the heavy black paint from the tombstones. Using caustic chemicals and heavy gloves they made some progress but decided to stop and call in professionals, at the city’s expense, so as not to damage the stones.

 

         Schudrich praised the mayor and the students’ efforts as a show of support for Poland’s Jewish community, and for tolerance.

 

 


Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and Czestochowa Mayor Tadeusz Wrona cleaning one of the 100 tombstones desecrated by vandals in Czestochowa.

 

 

         “The fact is, there is anti-Semitism everywhere. But what is also important is the reaction of the rest of society,” Schudrich said. “Too often the rest of society tolerates these things. But in this case, the mayor and the young people didn’t sit at home and wait for someone else to come clean it up. They came out and made a physical, not just verbal, reaction.”

 

         Poland’s president also decried the recent desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Czestochowa.

 

         “This act of aggression is unusually shocking, especially because the Czestochowa graveyard belongs to one of the most impressive Jewish cemeteries in Poland,” Lech Kaczynski wrote in a letter to the head of the Jewish Cultural and Social Association of Czestochowa, Halina Wasilewicz.

 

         Kaczynski went on to say that the “. . . act of hate serves not only as an act of aggression against the place and respect for the dead, but against the heritage of Czestochowa, against the common history of its Polish and Jewish residents.”

 

         Local police are investigating the incident as a criminal act. “We have visited the crime scene and documented the damage. A tracker dog was used too. An investigation led by our criminal section is under way, so far unfortunately, with no results,” Officer Stanislawa Gruszczynska from the Czestochowa City Police Headquarters said.

 

         “It should also be noted,” Mr. Rolat said in a telephone interview that “The local Catholic cemetery was also desecrated about three weeks ago. In Czestochowa, which is an especially holy city for Catholic Poles, it was a very shocking event. We don’t know exactly when the desecration in the Jewish cemetery took place but both desecrations could have taken place at the same time and are only an act of hooliganism and not anti-Semitism.”

 

         But the use of Nazi words and symbols make the desecration especially disturbing.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/vandals-desecrate-cemetery/2007/08/15/

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