web analytics
January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish History’

Exhibition: The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards from Eastern Europe to Downtown Manhattan

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

From 1880 to 1924, one-third of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe left shtetls and cities for the United States, fleeing persecution and seeking economic opportunity. Most settled on the Lower East Side making it the most crowded neighborhood in the world. On these shores, Jewish immigrants found themselves in a new kind of densely urban neighborhood. Still, echoes of the old country could be found in the cries of the marketplace, the plaintive tunes of the synagogue, and most of all in the shared Yiddish language of neighbors.

The Blavatnik Archive and the Museum at Eldridge Street “The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards” exhibition, through March 8, 2017, presents rarely seen images of shtetls in Europe that were wiped out during the Holocaust, and the “Ghetto” of the old Jewish Lower East Side. In captivating color and stark black and white, these vintage postcards provide snapshots of vanished places that are at the heart of the twentieth-century Jewish experience.

People of the Jewish shtetl Racionz, near the more densely populated Mława. Message dated June 23, 1915.

People of the Jewish shtetl Racionz, near the more densely populated Mława. Message dated June 23, 1915.

These early twentieth-century postcards provide important historical perspective of the immigrant experience in America. In captivating color and stark black and white, they recall vanished places that are at the heart of the Jewish immigrant experience. They also suggest how cultural conceptions and types were disseminated in popular culture.

The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards features fifty postcard images, interpretive texts, oral histories, and a digital component that allows visitors to enlarge and examine the postcards and historic materials.

The bulk of the exhibition features images of New York’s Lower East Side, long an immigrant gateway. Images of bustling streets with pushcarts and horse-drawn carriages, a pickle vendor, and a surprisingly beautiful view of tenements with laundry suspended from one tenement to the next recall a by-gone era.

The Lower East Side is described on both the front and back of postcards as “The Ghetto” or “Judea.” During the first decades of the 20th century, the term “the Ghetto” was understood as the place where the Jews lived in New York City. The postcards were collected in albums, sent as a memento from travels, or – as indicated by a message scrawled on one of the featured images – mailed by Progressive-era teachers and workers who wanted to show the atmosphere of the neighborhood where they worked.

The postcards of Eastern Europe depict men with long beards, wooden homes along unpaved streets, and other stereotypical scenes of the shtetl, with captions printed on the cards describing them as “Jewish Types” and the “Jewish Quarter.” Some of these images are snapshots taken by passing soldiers during World War I who were struck by the exotic looking community they encountered.

The Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002, is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Friday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Admission is $14 adults; $10 students and seniors, $8 children 5-17; free for children under 5 years of age. Mondays are Pay What You Wish. Entrance to the Jewish Ghetto in Postcards is included with Museum admission. For more information, visit eldridgestreet.org or call 212-219-0302 / 212.219.0888. Please check the Museum’s website for holiday closings including New Year’s Day.

The caption on this postcard reads "New Jewish Market on the East Side, New York."

The caption on this postcard reads “New Jewish Market on the East Side, New York.”


President Rivlin: Must Employ More Arabs, Haredim

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference on Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin stressed the importance of incorporating different sections of Israeli society in the workforce.

“The Gini index that measures inequality in income distribution finds a very high degree of inequality in Israel in comparison with the rest of the world. This year, however, the gaps narrowed, mainly because of Haredi men and Arab women joining the workforce,” the President said. “The removal of obstacles to Haredi men and Arab women and the integration of the various sectors and tribes into Israeli industry and the Israeli economy is a first step that we must take, and that you, the leaders of the economy, are capable of taking, now.”

“You must understand that if more sections of the population in the State of Israel do not join the circle of work and employment, in the end you will have no way to grow, and nowhere to grow, and there will be nobody able to buy your goods and services,” President Rivlin continued, “We are in the same boat here, and if the gap between one side of the boat and the other becomes too great, it will sink.”

“In the past eighteen months, the President’s Residence, together with leading Israeli companies, have initiated the Collective Impact venture in Israel’s Arab society,” Rivlin told the conference. “We have formulated clear measurements of integration, and in my meetings with heads of the economy, I see how things are happening, how the DNA of companies changes, becomes more diverse, and that is almost always for the better.”

“I’m not saying there are no challenges,” he noted, adding that “sometimes such integration creates pressures, and when tension between the different sectors of the population rises, the pressure in offices and in factories also rises. But, as I said, we have no choice. It is right and good for every commercial company to reach more and more sectors, not just as providers of services, but also as employers.”

In the end, according to Rivlin, “the main challenge we face lies in our ability to adopt scientific change and progress, and at the same time to take appropriate steps to reduce as is reasonably possible our levels of social gaps and to preserve the social fabric and solidarity between the different tribes.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I call on all of you to sign up for the challenge together with me,” President Rivlin concluded. “We shall all make our best efforts to promote the economy of the future, with energy, confidence and daring, and with great faith in the spirit of man.”

David Israel

Do you know a Jew? No?! Rent one!

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

The above headline is actually the greeting at a new German website called RentaJew.org, right below the big, capped WILLKOMMEN.

“Why ‘Rent a Jew?'” says the “About” section, explaining: “Cars can be rented, but Jews? This may initially sound offensive. After all, for hundreds of years, anti-Semites have claimed that Jews are less valuable than other people. We are tired of hearing such suggestions. And we believe that humor mixed with a bit of chutzpah is the best way to refute old stereotypes and prejudices and show how absurd they are.”

There are 250,000 Jews in Germany, but few Germans know a Jew personally, according to Rent-a Jew. They want to change that by creating encounters between Jews and non-Jews – “away from stereotypes and stereotypes.”

“With Rent a Jew it becomes possible to talk to each other instead of about one another,” argues the website, “to answer questions on both sides and to dismantle prejudices.”

An initiative launched by the Munich-based European Janusz Korczak Academy with help from the Jewish Agency for Israel, provides speakers to educational institutions or groups of any size, for school classes, adult education courses, church communities, student groups or cultural associations.

Rent a Jew provides Jews of different ages and backgrounds who are “as colorful as Judaism itself.” They are not professional speakers or experts, they are the Jews next door with their own personal stories and opinions, as well as much else, “from food to music, literature and religion” – anything goes (almost).

Rent-a Jew’s Mascha Schmerling told Deutsche Welle the new service is there ” to provoke, to promote conversation. We want to give people the chance to talk to the Jewish community. We want them to see that we’re completely normal people. We don’t want to be defined purely by history and we don’t want to always be seen through this Holocaust lens.”


‘Jewish Pirates Make Pirates More Interesting’

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

The word Jewish is not a common adjective for pirate. But there was a time when Jewish pirates roamed parts of the world. What those Jewish pirates were seeking was not riches, but retribution, revenge for the displacement and murder of so many Jews by the Spaniards during the Inquisition.

The story is a fascinating one and the Israeli Californian Arnon Shorr wants to share it with the world.

Shorr’s enthusiasm for “The Pirate Captain Toledano” is contagious. He speaks and writes in full, descriptive paragraphs about Hollywood, pirates, the Inquisition, and what makes a good movie. He also speaks eloquently about why the script he’s written is not just a pirate movie and not just a Jewish movie, but a rich, exciting tale that brings history alive and happens to be about Jews who were pirates.

Shorr first became fascinated with moviemaking when he was ten years old. He was dumbstruck when, while watching “Jurassic Park” and seeing the credits at the end, he realized that some people have a job as moviemakers! This realization ignited a lifelong fascination with cinematic story telling.

The recipient of many awards for the films he has made, this latest one, “The Pirate Captain Toledo,” holds a special place in Shorr’s heart. Pirate movies had not been especially intriguing to him, he recently told the JewishPress.com, until a friend gave him the book “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.” Shorr loved the history revealed in that book for several reasons.

One, rather than greed as the incentive for thrills on the high seas, this historically accurate book provided a fascinating motivation for the piracy. These were not just pirates who happened to be Jews, these Jews were pirates precisely because they were Jewish: a people, dispossessed and cast from their homes because of maniacal Jew-hatred. This made the pirates more interesting and the Jews more interesting. The fact that the Jews were sephardic was especially appealing to Shorr, whose mother’s family is from Libya. That these Jews were brave swashbucklers was also a lure. Enough with the Woody Allen neurotic types!

The book proved an inspiration for a film script that Shorr says came to him about a year after reading the book. The entire script struck him as a complete thought:”literally, whole-cloth.”

Shorr never planned to be a movie maker of Jewish films, but he explained why many of his films have had a Jewish narrative – sometimes subtle, sometimes not.

“I grew up in such a multiplicity of Jewish lives and stories, I find that Jewish identities and narratives often find their way into my work. I’ve written screenplays that re-interpret the Golem legend in a contemporary American setting, and that re-tell the Exodus as a post-Apocalyptic action adventure,” Shorr explained. “I even have an outline for a Jewish/Christian Romeo and Juliet story set in rural Iowa.”

But making a pirate film isn’t as easy as making many other kinds of movies. Large ships are expensive, for example. And Shorr couldn’t rely on the usual suspects to have his film made.

Shorr explained why this Jewish-themed story was unlikely to be financed by Hollywood. He doesn’t hold a grudge and he’s not claiming anti-Semitism. It’s just that “Hollywood tends to follow trends, rather than creating them, so until there’s enough market precedent for Jewish narratives working in the mainstream, it’s an uphill battle to convince Hollywood executives to consider such projects.”

So, kind of like his Jewish pirates taking matters into their own hands, Shorr is tackling this project himself. This approach gives him the free hand to develop the storyline without reliance on Jewish shtick – you won’t find a caricature of a charedi Jew or a Judaism-rejecting one in Shorr’s film. His Jewish pirate retains a connection to Judaism while on his quest for revenge.

For funding, Shorr turned to Jewcer.com, a crowdfunding source for Jewish projects. You can see him there in a video describing the project and seeking support.


Shorr believes that if the story is good, audiences will love it. This is so whether or not traditional producers might have shied away from a “Jewish story” that doesn’t feature typical Jewish characters.

“It’s not that there needs to be a Jewish pirate movie because the fact of piracy makes Jews more interesting. There needs to be a Jewish pirate movie because Jewish pirates make more interesting pirates,” the filmmaker continues.

“That this movie gives us an opportunity to refresh a Jewish narrative is an important ancillary benefit, but if a story really is amazing, it can be as ‘Jewish’ as it needs to be – it’ll never be ‘too Jewish,'” says Shorr. And what’s just as fascinating is, just as Shorr described, the story gives far greater texture to the traditional cliched pirate persona.

The Jewcer campaign ends on Nov. 20. The Ocean Institute at Dana Point, an enthusiastic supporter of the project and one on whose ships “The Pirate Captain Toledano” will be made, if all comes to fruition, is also offering special treats for the higher donors to the project. Those goodies include private tours of the ships and even a private catered dinner for 20 (kosher food is a possibility) on one of the tall ships.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

2000 Years of Jewish Culture Exhibition at London’s Shapero Rare Books

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Bernard Shapero of Shapero Rare Books and Sandra Hindman of Les Enluminures are delighted to present 2000 Years of Jewish Culture: an exhibition of books, manuscripts, art, and jewelry.

A selling show, it is the first of its kind ever staged in the UK in a private space, and, accordingly, it will be marked by the publication of a fully illustrated catalogue. The exhibition encompasses every aspect of Jewish life, including philosophy, religion, literature, photography, fine art and jewelry.

Curator Bela Goldenberg Taieb said that “each of the assembled artifacts – the oldest of which is a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls – is representative of a particular field of endeavor, and as such they collectively offer a truly compelling picture of the Jewish contribution to world culture.”

The exhibition, featuring more than 100 objects, will be arranged over the basement, ground and first floor of Shapero’s Mayfair premises. It presents several important rare books, the subjects of which span the tenth to the twentieth centuries, including first editions of some important examples of Anglo-Judaica.

Bernard Shapero said that “the whole exhibition shows the positive side of Judaism. There’s no Holocaust material or anti-Semitic material, which forms a large part of collecting in this field.”

From November 2 to 19, at Shapero Rare Books, 32 St. George Street, London W1S 2EA

Gallery Talk: Beatriz Chadour-Sampson “Jewish Wedding Rings,” Thursday November 3, 7 PM.


Security Upgraded for UNESCO Chief After Death Threats Over Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Security for United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chief Irina Bokov has been ramped up, after she received death threats over her blunt opposition to last week’s resolution erasing the historic Jewish link to Jerusalem.

According to a report broadcast on Israel Radio, “the director-general received death threats and her protection has been reinforced… These threats were made after her criticism” of the resolutions in which Israel was condemned for “violations” at Jewish holy sites and in which the holiest sites in Judaism are referred to solely by their Islamic names, describing them as holy only to Muslims.

Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen described the “appalling conduct” of the Arab countries involved in working on the drafts of the resolution during his interview with Israel Radio.

Hacohen was unsuccessful in convincing the UNESCO board to hold off on ratification of the resolution earlier in the day Monday.

Bokova opposed the motion for the resolution, saying, “Nowhere more than in Jerusalem, do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space.”

Nevertheless, the motion – submitted by the Palestinian Authority – passed in committee last week in Paris and was ratified Monday; it awaits validation by the UNESCO executive board on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the passage of the resolution, “theater of the absurd” and invited the members of UNESCO to take a trip to the Arch of Titus to refresh their knowledge of history and view for themselves the treasures of the Second Holy Temple of Jerusalem that were carted back to Rome after they were plundered from the Jewish holy site.

Bayit Yehudi Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also serves as president of the Israel National Commission for UNESCO, followed Thursday’s passage of the resolution by suspending all professional cooperation with the international body.

Russia’s state-run Sputnik news site said the resolution “acknowledges Jerusalem to be a holy city for Muslims, Christians and Jewish people, but names the Temple Mount a Muslim holy site.” The site posted a piece on Friday (Oct. 14), saying the resolution was a “affront” to Jews, quoting Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.

“I must honestly and explicitly say: the latest UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem is an affront to the feelings of all religious Jews and completely undermines, in our eyes, the credibility of this organization,” Lazar said, as quoted in a news release.

Lazar added that UNESCO was failing in its educational function by failing to recognize the findings of archaeological excavations, which “indicate that Jerusalem for dozens of centuries has been the unquestioned spiritual center of Judaism.” The Rabbi also noted his dismay at the vote of the Russian delegation in UNESCO in favor of the resolution.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Raids in Hebron Following New Terror Wave

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Following the recent terror attacks in Hebron, the IDF Judea Regional Brigade carried out raids around the city which yielded home made weapons, parts for the M16 rifle, bullets and additional military equipment, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office reported.

During the night security forces arrested eight wanted terror suspects.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-raids-in-hebron-following-new-terror-wave/2016/09/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: