April 15th, 2015

Sholom to preview ‘Alive Inside’

Sholom will host a free movie screening of Alive Inside, a documentary that showcases music’s capacity to reawaken our souls, 1 p.m. Sunday, April 26 in the Mains Auditorium at the Shaller Family Sholom East, 740 Kay Ave., St. Paul.

The event will also discuss how Sholom is enriching the lives of its residents through iPods and music.

Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. The documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

To make a reservation, contact Barb Gutzmann at 651-328-2117.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 15th, 2015

What you may not know about Israel’s past

Here are 10 little-known aspects of the Jewish state’s history in honor of its 67th birthday, including when El Al flew to Tehran

By URIEL HEILMAN

Editor’s note: The Twin Cities Jewish community is invited to a celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) — marking Israel’s 67th year — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26 at the St. Paul JCC, 1375 St. Paul Ave. Family activities will include an Israeli DJ dance party; Krav Maga, cooking and dancing demonstrations; live musical performances; food and more. For information, contact Corey Kirshenbaum at 651-255-4733 or: coreyk@stpauljcc.org.

(JTA) — Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, falls on April 23. In honor of the Jewish state’s 67th birthday, we present, in no particular order, 10 little-known aspects of its history.

  1. El Al used to fly to Tehran

Iran and Israel enjoyed mostly good relations up until the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979. Iran recognized Israel in 1950, becoming the second Muslim-majority country to do so (after Turkey). Iran supplied Israel with oil during the OPEC oil embargo, Israel sold Iran weapons, there was brisk trade between the countries, and El Al flew regular flights between Tel Aviv and Tehran.

All that ended a week after the shah’s ouster, when Iran’s new rulers cut ties with Israel and transferred its embassy in Tehran to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Even after 35 years of hostilities, however, Iranians have less antipathy toward Jews than any other Middle Eastern nation. A 2014 global anti-Semitism survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 56 percent of Iranians hold anti-Semitic views — compared to 80 percent of Moroccans and 93 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. For more on Israelis in Iran, check out the 2014 documentary Before the Revolution.

El Al’s Tehran office (Photo: Screen shot from Before the Revolution)

El Al’s Tehran office (Photo: Screen shot from Before the Revolution)

  1. Israel is home to hundreds of Nazi descendants

At least 400 descendants of Nazis have converted to Judaism and moved to Israel, according to filmmakers who made a documentary about the phenomenon several years ago. In addition, others converted to Judaism or married Israelis but do not live in the Jewish state – such as Heinrich Himmler’s great-niece, who married an Israeli Jew and lives overseas.

In Israel’s early years, the state was roiled by a debate over whether to accept German reparations for the Holocaust (it did), and Germany remained a controversial subject. From 1956 until 1967, Israel had a ban on all German-produced films.

  1. Ben-Gurion invented Israeli couscous (sort of)

The tiny pasta balls known as Israeli couscous — called ptitim in Hebrew — were invented in the 1950s at the behest of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who asked the Osem food company to come up with a wheat-based substitute for rice during a period of austerity in Israel.

The invention, which Israelis dubbed “Ben-Gurion’s rice,” was an instant hit.

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 15th, 2015

Holocaust radio documentary available online

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s radio special, “Confronting Hatred: 70 Years after the Holocaust,” was broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio’s KNOW 91.1 and on other affiliates around the state on Thursday, April 16.

The hour-long radio special, which aired during this year’s Days of Remembrance, is based on the long-running Voices on Antisemitism podcast series produced by the museum

“Confronting Hatred” brings together a broad range of voices to talk about racism, anti-Semitism and the ways in which hatred can grow. It features personal stories from a former skinhead, an imam and a prosecutor for the Rwandan genocide trials, as well as heavy metal singer David Draiman, filmmaker Errol Morris, and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel.

The documentary also examines the ways in which the Holocaust continues to inform contemporary discussions about hate speech, propaganda and human rights.

The program can  be heard on the museum’s Web site at: ushmm.org/confronting-hatred as well as on iTunes, and at: www.mprnews.org/topic/mpr-news-presents.
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 15th, 2015

Shir Tikvah to welcome Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

Shir Tikvah Congregation will welcome Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), as its Lou Wiener Memorial Scholar on April 24 and 25.

Liebling will present “The Shmita Revolution: Forgiveness, Fallowness and Fecundity” during Shabbat services 8 p.m. Friday, April 24 at the synagogue, 1360 W. Minnehaha Pkwy., Minneapolis. He will also join the Torah study 9 a.m. Saturday, April 25, followed by Shabbat services at 10:30 a.m.

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

Liebling is the first to direct the unique Social Justice Organizing Program, which invests rabbinical students with the clarity of purpose, vision and voice to become effective, spiritually strong leaders in the drive toward social justice and environmental sustainability. It is the first Jewish seminary-based initiative to offer a specialized certificate in justice organizing for rabbis.

He has also spoken out for justice for people with disabilities, and his family was the subject of the award-winning documentary film Praying With Lior.

Recently, Liebling traveled to Ferguson, Missouri — along with Shir Tikvah’s Rabbi Michael Adam Latz and more than 20 other rabbis — to join the protesting for a weekend of solidarity.
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 15th, 2015

Artist Paula Leiter Pergament to host art sale

Paula Leiter Pergament’s art studio is moving and she is selling original artwork and other items. The sale will take place during the St. Paul Art Crawl 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 24; 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25; and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 26 at Studio #715 in the Rossmor Building, 500 Robert St. N., St. Paul.

Among the items available for sale will be ceramic sculptures; drawings, paintings and mixed media artwork (framed and unframed); baskets filled with natural found objects; art materials and studio furniture.

Proceeds will support three Twin Cities nonprofit organizations: Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, an initiative of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, the Sabes JCC Arts and Culture Department, and the Animal Humane Society.

Payment will be by cash or check only. Light refreshments will be served.
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 8th, 2015

‘The Crucible': Witch hunts, then and now

The Guthrie’s Joe Dowling will direct Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, an allegory of America’s hysteria about Communism in the 1950s

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

The renowned playwright Arthur Miller visited Salem, Mass., in November 1991, as the city was preparing for the 300th anniversary of the infamous Witch Trials. Some 40 years earlier, Miller had visited Salem, in the course of doing research for his play The Crucible.

In remarks at the Essex Institute (now the Peabody Essex Museum) — which can be watched on You Tube — Miller discussed Salem, in the context of his masterpiece, The Crucible, an allegory of a period of political repression in America: the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy hurled wild and unfounded allegations about the Communist affiliations of individuals in government and society.

The Crucible at the Guthrie
April 11–May 24

“I was at my wits’ end about how to counteract what I thought was a hysteria sweeping this country,” said Miller, regarding what’s become known as McCarthyism. “To put it in a few words, [the United States] seemed to be a dangerous place in which to hold an opinion which certain senators disapproved of.”

Miller continued, “What my play is really about, and what Salem means, or should mean, is that here some people refused to compromise with the government and tell lies in order to save their lives.”

Joe Dowling: The Crucible is a brilliant allegory for so much of what passes for political discourse in our contemporary world. (Photo: Courtesy of the Guthrie Theater)

Joe Dowling: The Crucible is a brilliant allegory for so much of what passes for political discourse in our contemporary world. (Photo: Courtesy of the Guthrie Theater)

For the first time in four decades, the Guthrie Theater will present The Crucible, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage, from April 11 through May 24.

Joe Dowling, who will end his 20-year tenure as the Guthrie’s artistic director this summer, recently talked with the Jewish World about Miller and his play.

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 8th, 2015

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

The systematic slaughter of the Armenians, beginning in 1915, was a precursor of the Holocaust

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

On Aug. 22, 1939, on the eve of his invasion of Poland, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler made a statement to explain, or perhaps justify, his decision: “I have placed my death-head formations in readiness… with orders to them to send to death, mercilessly and without compassion, men, women and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Armenians in Minnesota and around the world will commemorate the centennial of that “annihilation” on April 24, the date in 1915 that is generally seen as the beginning of the genocide, when the Ottoman Turks targeted Armenian elites and intellectuals.

This state-sponsored policy of extermination sought to eliminate the entire Armenian population, who were a Christian minority living as second-class citizens in the Ottoman state alongside the majority Turks, who practiced Islam.

According to Richard G. Hovannisian, author of Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide, the Ottoman government “came to regard the Armenians as alien and a major obstacle to the fulfillment of its political, ideological and social goals.”

Rev. Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan: History repeats itself and if you don’t know the history of what happened 100 years ago, it’s hard to deal with the problems that the world is facing today. (Photo: Erin Elliott Bryan)

Rev. Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan: History repeats itself and if you don’t know the history of what happened 100 years ago, it’s hard to deal with the problems that the world is facing today. (Photo: Erin Elliott Bryan)

From 1915 to 1923, when the Ottoman Empire was replaced by the Republic of Turkey, more than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred — 75 percent of the entire population of Armenians in the world at the time.

Several events are planned to mark the centennial in the Twin Cities. They are sponsored by St. Sahag Armenian Church, the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota, World Without Genocide, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 8th, 2015

MJTC’s ‘Jericho’ addresses 9/11 tragedy

The final show of MJTC’s 2014-15 season deals with grief, family and community

By DORIS RUBENSTEIN

A universal experience for residents of the Twin Cities was the I-35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007. All of us remember when and how we learned of this tragedy that brought to national attention the crumbing and dangerous conditions of our country’s transportation infrastructure. Some of us who cross the bridge on a daily basis felt like we had a close call. Another subset knew people who were victims of the disaster. It affected us all to a greater or lesser degree.

Then, where were you when you learned about the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11, 2001? It was the defining moment of a generation, similar to “Where were you when John Kennedy was shot?” or “Where were you on V-E Day?”

Did you cry then? Do you still cry when you see a video of the tragedy? I do, and I didn’t know a single person who died that day. How awful it must be, then, for the families of those who perished in such a tragic, violent way. How do they deal with their memories or other people who don’t share them, or the emotions attached to them?

Jack Canfora: How do individuals deal with loss when their entire community cannot face its grief? (Photo: Courtesy of MJTC)

Jack Canfora: How do individuals deal with loss when their entire community cannot face its grief? (Photo: Courtesy of MJTC)

These are the questions asked by playwright Jack Canfora in the upcoming production of his play Jericho, which will premiere at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company beginning April 18.

Much of the action in Jericho takes place at the Thanksgiving dinner table of a Jewish family living in Jericho, Long Island, N.Y. That family dysfunctions have ample opportunities to surface at this all-American ritual is an old chestnut in theater, film and television. What distinguishes Jericho from those worn-out plots is its focus on real and penetrating grief that is both national and personal in nature.

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

April 8th, 2015

‘A Good Place to Hide': Peace on the plateau

A Good Place to Hide, by Peter Grose, Pegasus, 323 pages, $26.95

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

Books and an acclaimed documentary film have made the French Huguenot village of Le Chambon and Pastor André Trocmé well known for sheltering Jews from the Nazis and their Vichy France collaborators.

But some books have been criticized as inaccurately portraying how Le Chambon and its surrounding villagers and farmers saved thousands.

Author Peter Grose
to speak April 20

Peter Grose seeks to set things straight in A Good Place to Hide, a very readable account — out on April 15 — benefitting from corrections by two wartime residents, Catherine Cambessédès and Nelly Trocmé Hewitt, the pastor’s daughter, who lives in St. Paul.

There’s “no reliable way of knowing when Jews… began arriving on the [Vivarais-Lignon] plateau in significant numbers,” Grose says. “No records were kept, official or unofficial; nobody asked questions; nobody gossiped; nobody was in charge; nobody had a policy, a plan, or a piece of paper laying down the rules. The process was haphazard, spontaneous, clandestine, burgeoning and unstoppable.” Nobody asked for payment, either.

A-Good-Place-to-Hide

Pacifist Trocmé’s determination to save lives was endorsed by his congregants and helped by the cohesiveness and isolation of the plateau, which “straddled no strategic route from anywhere to anywhere,” and wasn’t occupied.

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

March 25th, 2015

When revolution was in the air

Al Milgrom’s new film, The Dinkytown Uprising, looks at a 1970 social protest and its reverberations

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

A playful trailer for Al Milgrom’s new film, The Dinkytown Uprising, begins with a dramatic trumpet fanfare from Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A minor (“Tragische”). The trailer proclaims: “TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING.”

However, the documentary film portrays the course of a tumultuous 1970 protest against a proposed fast-food burger joint. Led by U of M and University High students, and a colorful cast of hangers-on in the famed commercial hub adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus, protesters occupied four storefronts on the 1300 block of 4th Street S.E., over a span of several weeks.

The loose-limbed, entertaining documentary — which will have its premiere April 12, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) — is actually 45 years in the making.

Al Milgrom: I’ve got some other things I want to get done. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

Al Milgrom: I’ve got some other things I want to get done. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

In 1970, Milgrom was a junior instructor in the university’s humanities program.

“I was teaching film history… I always wanted to get into film,” he explained during an interview last week at the Jewish World offices.

The original footage for The Dinkytown Uprising was shot on an Eclair 16mm movie camera.

“I had it sitting on my basement shelf, until about 1990, and I thought, ‘Well, gee, I better start doing something with this,’” said Milgrom, about the old Dinkytown footage, which features interviews with protest leaders and street-level scenes from the “uprising.”

Keep reading →
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Follow MNJewishWorld on Twitter