February 3rd, 2016

Western Wall prayer fight ends with compromise

The size of the non-Orthodox section of the Western Wall will double and a single entrance will lead to both sections

By BEN SALES

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel’s government on Sunday approved a compromise to expand the non-Orthodox Jewish prayer section of the Western Wall, putting to rest the decades-long fight between Women of the Wall and Israel’s haredi Orthodox religious establishment.

The deal achieves what had been an elusive goal: an interdenominational consensus on Judaism’s holiest site with official recognition. The non-Orthodox prayer section at the wall will become much larger and more accessible. But haredi control of the Orthodox section will also be solidified, though non-Orthodox leaders have long protested that monopoly.

The deal, a copy of which JTA obtained ahead of the Cabinet vote, still contains a few unknowns. It is unclear how long construction will take. It does not say whether clear signage will direct visitors to the non-Orthodox section. Nor does it say exactly when Women of the Wall, an embattled women’s prayer group, will move its monthly services from the Orthodox Jewish main prayer section to the non-Orthodox one.

The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on a rainy day, Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images)

The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on a rainy day, Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images)

Still, the Conservative and Reform movements can declare victory. The size of the non-Orthodox section of the Western Wall will double to nearly 10,000 square feet — half the size of the Orthodox main section just to its north. A committee of non-Orthodox leaders and government officials will manage the non-Orthodox section. And a single entrance will lead to both sections.

The Western Wall’s haredi Orthodox management, called the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, also safeguarded its interests. Non-Orthodox leaders had campaigned for a share of control of the Orthodox section of the wall, but the Heritage Foundation will retain full authority over it and the larger plaza behind the prayer sections. And when the plan is implemented, Women of the Wall will move to the non-Orthodox section, one of the Heritage Foundation’s long-standing demands.

“They all came to the conclusion that they must make serious compromises because they want it to remain one Kotel for one people,” Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky told JTA, using the Hebrew term for the site. “It’s the place that must unite us more than anything else, and it turned into the most ugly war.”

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February 3rd, 2016

Five questions Jews should be asking after Iowa

There are some known unknowns for the Jewish and Middle East obsessed

By RON KAMPEAS

(JTA) — The Iowa caucuses are over — and the first real test of the presidential candidates’ viability gave us more questions than answers.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won the Republican caucus on Monday night, relegating Donald Trump, the real estate billionaire, to second place. Both Trump and Cruz ran insurgent anti-establishment campaigns. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made a strong showing for third place, well ahead of the other “establishment” candidates.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., effectively tied for first.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Aug. 14, 2015 (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images); and Hillary Clinton participating in a town hall forum at Drake University in Des Moines on Jan. 25 (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images).

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Aug. 14, 2015 (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images); and Hillary Clinton participating in a town hall forum at Drake University in Des Moines on Jan. 25 (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images).

The New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9, with Nevada and South Carolina later this month.

By March 2, the day after Super Tuesday, when 14 states and a territory select favored candidates, we should have some answers — like who among the 11 GOP candidates is serious, how much stamina Sanders has and what the general election might look like on Nov. 8.

In the meantime, here are some of the known unknowns for the Jewish and Middle East obsessed. Keep reading →

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February 3rd, 2016

Growing up Madoff: Living with a notorious name

I’m not changing my name just because someone else sullied it

By JON MADOF and LISA KEYS

NEW YORK (JTA) — True story: Back in 2008, one of my son’s favorite games was one we called “Bernie Madoff.” It was basically cops and robbers — I played a police officer and Elie, 3, was Bernie. The object of the game was that I chased him until I caught him.

It was silly fun — but it was also a way to make light of the crazy situation that was unfolding around us. Because when the notorious Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff made international news for swindling investors out of a staggering $65 billion, my family’s name became equated with evil incarnate.

The absence of a single “f” — we spell it Madof but pronounce it “made-off,” just like Bernie does — is what separated my family from this monster. All at once, we were getting dirty looks at restaurants, doctors’ offices, car mechanics. Alongside “nice to meet you,” the standard greeting from the Madof family included the disclaimer “no relation.”

Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Madoff in the upcoming ABC miniseries Madoff, which premieres tonight, Feb. 3. (Photo: Giovanni Rufino / ABC via Getty Images)

Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Madoff in the upcoming ABC miniseries Madoff, which premieres tonight, Feb. 3. (Photo: Giovanni Rufino / ABC via Getty Images)

Over the years, the sniggers and glares lessened in intensity and frequency. But now I’m worried they’ll return. ABC is premiering a two-night miniseries, “Madoff,” starring Richard Dreyfuss (see below), and HBO has a movie coming down the pike with Robert De Niro. The news apparently has trickled down to elementary school children. Last week my son, Jacob, 9, excitedly told me, “Abba! There’s a TV show coming out called ‘Madoff!’”

I smiled at him but was filled with dread. Memories of the mad “Madoff years” came flooding back — and most of them were unpleasant.

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February 3rd, 2016

Speaker to discuss anti-Israel protest at LGBTQ event

Temple of Aaron will host Laurie Grauer from A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel organization building bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North American allies, as part of its TAXY Shabbat discussion on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the synagogue, 616 S. Mississippi River Blvd., St. Paul.

Laurie Grauer

Laurie Grauer

Grauer will speak during services and at Kiddush lunch about the recent events at the Creating Change Conference in Chicago, where activists from A Wider Bridge were shouted down and forced from the stage by anti-Israel protestors.

In a letter to congregants, Rabbis Jeremy Fine and Avi Strausberg said they felt “called to support the work of A Wider Bridge.”

“As we have been in the past, Temple of Aaron remains committed to human rights and the diversity of the State of Israel, and find it to be our obligation to keep all of you as best informed and educated about serious issues that affect our people,” the rabbis wrote.

The discussion will be co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) and Executive Director Steve Hunegs will joined Grauer during Kiddush lunch.

For information, visit: www.templeofaaron.org.

Here’s a video of the anti-Israel protest at the Creating Change conference in Chicago:

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January 28th, 2016

Shoah survivor and writer Robert Treuer dies at 89

Treuer wrote extensively about northern Minnesota and the history of Leech Lake Ojibwe

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

Robert “Bob” Treuer seemed like an unlikely person to write about the Leech Lake reservation. But Larry Aitkin, tribal historian for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, told the Star Tribune that Treuer knew “very much about the history of Leech Lake” and tribal leaders often borrowed from Treuer’s extensive papers.

Treuer — who called Minnesota’s Northwoods home for more than six decades and was ceremonially adopted by two Ojibwe families — was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1926. He narrowly escaped the Nazis in 1938 and came to the United States with his parents in 1939, where he became involved in the civil rights movement, and later worked as a labor organizer and advocate for American Indian rights.

Robert Treuer planted a tree farm on 200 acres of land near Bemidji — the inspiration for his first book, The Tree Farm. (Photo: Courtesy of Anton Treuer)

Robert Treuer planted a tree farm on 200 acres of land near Bemidji — the inspiration for his first book, The Tree Farm. (Photo: Courtesy of Anton Treuer)

“I think from his experience with the Nazi Holocaust, he could not suffer any kind of injustice,” Treuer’s son, Anton, told the Star Tribune. “He was like that with everything he saw later in life.”

Treuer, a longtime Bemidji resident, died Jan. 8 in Duluth. He was 89.

At the age of 17, Treuer enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received specialized training in Japanese at Yale University and was stationed in the Philippines, where he organized food distribution for the city’s starving residents.

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January 27th, 2016

A rabbi’s 80th birthday

Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui, of Sharei Chesed Congregation, has built a legacy of spiritual leadership and Jewish education

By ROBIN DOROSHOW

If you were a student at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis sometime in the last 50 years, you probably knew Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui, either as a teacher or as its executive director. If you run into him today, he will likely greet you with a big smile and a hearty “Shalom,” followed by your Hebrew name. He may or may not know your English name, but he remembers you as one of his many students.

On Feb. 6, Rabbi Ettedgui will celebrate a milestone birthday, his 80th. But far from being retired, he continues serving the Jewish community as a teacher and spiritual leader.

Rabbi Ettedgui was born on Feb. 6, 1936, in what was then Port Lyautey, Morocco (it was renamed Kenitra in 1956 after the country gained independence from France and Spain). Ettedgui was the fourth of 10 children born to Channah Estagasi Ettedgui, who was born in Marrakesh, and Yoseph Ettedgui, who was born in Essaouira.

Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui first began teaching at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis in 1963. He has served Sharei Chesed Congregation since 1999. (Photo: AJW Archive)

Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui first began teaching at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis in 1963. He has served Sharei Chesed Congregation since 1999. (Photo: AJW Archive)

While it is unknown how long their families had been in Morocco, it is believed to have been many generations. Yosef Ettedgui supported the family as a barber, while Channah cared for the children at home.

Ettedgui studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle (in Hebrew, Kol Yisrael Chavarim) in Port Lyautey. Founded in 1860, the school’s mission was to advance the Jews of the Middle East through French education and culture, and emancipation from oppressive and discriminatory laws. At the age of 15, he and several of his classmates, accompanied by French shlichim (Israeli emissaries), left an increasingly anti-Semitic Morocco for a better education at Ohr Yosef Yeshiva in Paris, from where he received his rabbinic ordination.

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January 27th, 2016

He’s ‘The Pitbull of Comedy’

Journeyman comic Bobby Slayton returns to the Twin Cities for three nights, including a Valentine’s Day show

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

Minneapolis is “a really hip town,” comments comedian Bobby Slayton, who returns to the New Hope Cinema Grill for three nights of stand-up, Feb. 12-14.

The veteran, raspy-voiced comic with the New York accent recently chatted by phone with the Jewish World from his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks — “a very Jewish enclave,” he said.

Bobby Slayton, Feb. 12-14
New Hope Cinema Grill

“I live in a really nice neighborhood,” Slayton said, “but literally a quarter-mile away is Beverly Hills; and once you hit the other side of Mulholland… because of the address, my house would be double the money — it’s the same neighborhood, it’s just three blocks away.”

That’s the L.A. real estate part of the story.

Bobby Slayton: But these comedy clubs, the audience is getting younger, they’re getting dumber.

Bobby Slayton: But these comedy clubs, the audience is getting younger, they’re getting dumber.

Slayton — branded as “The Pitbull of Comedy,” although he’s completely pleasant in conversation — has trod the boards of comedy clubs for several decades, done stand-up on TV, including The Tonight Show and his own comedy specials, and also appeared in a few films (Get Shorty, Ed Wood, Bandits, Dreamgirls, The Rat Pack).

He’s the proverbial “comic’s comic,” respected by his peers in comedy; Penn Gillette, of Penn and Teller, called him “one of the best stand-ups alive.” However, Slayton hasn’t yet become a household name.

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January 27th, 2016

How marvelous to be British

Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War, by Ian Buruma, Penguin Press, 305 pages, $26.95

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

The “use it or lose it” cliché comes to mind in this charming story of Bernard Schlesinger and Winifred Regensburg, children of well-to-do German Jewish immigrants, more intent on being British than in showing Jewish life to their children.

“Devotion to ‘the family’ was perhaps the most Jewish thing about them,” says grandson Ian Buruma in his book, Their Promised Land.

Not that Bernard and “Win” denied being Jewish. They “were easily embarrassed by Jews,” acutely aware of who else was or wasn’t, and saw how it limited physician Bernard’s professional opportunities.

Promised-Land-cover

“They were British and had the perfect right to insist on it, and yet their sense of belonging was never simply to be taken for granted,” says Buruma, a Bard College professor.

In an apparently ideal marriage, “my grandparents… were English in the way that their German Jewish ancestors were German,” Buruma says, “at least more self-consciously so than the ‘natives.’”

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January 13th, 2016

Seeking an Administrative Assistant

The American Jewish World has an immediate opening for a person to work part-time (15-20 hours per week), M-Th, as an Administrative Assistant. The ideal candidate will be proficient with Sage (Peachtree) bookkeeping and MS Access database software. Other attributes include a pleasant phone and personal presence, a great attention to detail, and, of course, a sense of humor. The job duties are varied, and the office setting is hardworking but casual.

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We seek someone who is attuned to what’s happening in the world, and would like to be part of a beloved community newspaper that has been publishing for more than 100 years.

Please send a cover letter and resume to: editor [at] ajwnews [dot] com. No phone calls please. Thanks.

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