May 25th, 2016

Democrats name platform drafting committee

Panel includes friends and critics of Israel — and a BDS backer


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Democratic Party platform drafting committee is top heavy with veterans of political battles over Israel – some friendly, some critical, and including at least one major backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The Democratic National Committee named the committee on May 23, a day after reports emerged that Bernie Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, wants the platform to elevate the issue of Palestinian rights.

The names signal that the robust debate on Israel that has rattled the party’s relationship with the mainstream pro-Israel community over the past two years will continue through the party convention in Philadelphia in July.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, embracing philosopher and social activist Cornel West in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 14, 2015. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests, named five of the committee’s members, while Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and front-runner in the party’s presidential primaries, named six. The remaining four were named by the DNC’s chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., among the most prominent Jewish leaders in the party.

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May 25th, 2016

Interfaith Amigos to appear in St. Paul

The Interfaith Amigos — Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman — will discuss their books at Common Ground Books, 38 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, at 7 p.m. Monday, June 6.

The authors, who began working together in Seattle immediately following the events of 9/11, have written three books. In 2009, they published, Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, A Rabbi and an Imam.

Their second book: Religion Gone Astray: What we Found at the Heart of Interfaith was published in 2011.

In July, Finding Peace Through Spiritual Practice: The Interfaith Amigos’ Guide to Personal, Social and Environmental Healing will be published. This book examines the specific issues faced in a pluralistic society and the spiritual practices that can help transcend roadblocks to effective collaboration.

The authors appearance is sponsored by the St. Paul Interfaith Network. For more information visit or

May 25th, 2016

Next P’Chotchka set for June 6

P’Chotchka, an evening of art, food, and storytelling, will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, June 6 at the Metropolitan Ballroom, 5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley.

The event, presented by Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council for the fifth consecutive year, will feature eight artists, who will talk about what informs and inspires their art work. In the event’s fast-paced format, each artist has just 18 images, with 18 seconds of narrative per image, to get their point across.

The event offers an opportunity to interact with the artists and in some cases to purchase signed copies of their work.

“It really is comparable to the VIP passes that are so popular these days. The main difference is that P’Chotchka provides access to eight different artists, and admission is only $54, which includes food and a beverage,” said Rimon’s Executive Director David Jordan Harris.

Alan Berks. Photo courtesy of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council.

Alan Berks (Photo: Courtesy of Rimon)

This year’s artists include:

• Playwright Alan Berks. Berks is the co-founder and editor of, Minnesota’s trade publication for the performing arts, and co-Artistic Director of Wonderlust Productions.

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May 18th, 2016

New sorority at U of M

Kappa Lambda Epsilon, a Jewish sorority founded last month, is expected to be active for the university’s fall semester


Two fraternities — Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Alpha Mu — provide a sense of community for male Jewish students at the University of Minnesota.

After arriving on campus last fall, first-year student Margarita Lyadova, a Hopkins High School graduate, attended several events of those fraternities.

About 20 students have committed to starting a Jewish sorority at the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Kappa Lambda Epsilon).

About 20 students have committed to starting a Jewish sorority at the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Kappa Lambda Epsilon)

“I noticed a strong bond among the guys,” said Lyadova. “I noticed there wasn’t anything for Jewish women on campus. A friend and I talked that we should start something for women. And, we said ‘Why not now?’”

Over the next several months, Lyadova and Tracey Warsett studied whether to start a sorority.

“We had to make sure there was a demand,” said Lyadova, whose family moved to Minnesota from the Ukraine when she was nine years old. “We took the fall to see if there was. We want to create a sisterhood for our members.” Keep reading →

May 18th, 2016

To catch a war criminal

The Nazi Hunters, by Andrew Nagorski, Simon & Schuster, 393 pages, $30

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

One virtue of Andrew Nagorski’s overview of people who exposed Nazis long after the world lost interest is that we learn of important pursuers not well known in America.

One was Polish prosecutor Jan Sehn, who brought to trial Nazis including Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss – hung in 1947 on Auschwitz’s gallows.


Sehn cooperated across the Iron Curtain with German prosecutor Fritz Bauer. Bauer, whose 1957 information led Israeli agents to find Adolf Eichmann, later gained a reputation as “the chief legal challenger of the Nazis,” putting 22 Auschwitz officials and guards on trial in 1963.

The unpopular trial “can and must open the eyes of the German people to what happened,” Bauer said. Keep reading →

May 18th, 2016

Captivated by flamenco guitar

Juanito Pascual caught the guitar bug as a teenager, then followed his muse to Spain and lessons from the flamenco masters


A Dakota Jazz Club date for the Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio might not jump out as a possible Jewish World story.

However, a tip led to further investigation and a phone chat with Pascual, who’s now living in Los Angeles. His Minneapolis friends remember the flamenco guitar ace as Jonathan Gordon. And those friends include classmates from Seward Montessori, Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, Anderson Open School and South High.

Further, a 2010 notice in the AJW, ahead of his show at the Cedar Cultural Center, mentioned that “one of his middle names, Pesach, was the basis for the name Pascual.”

Juanito Pascual: I was just a guitar nut my whole life.

In any case, Pascual, 42, has become a dazzling guitarist in the flamenco tradition, and his current national tour includes a May 26 stop at the Dakota. He will be accompanied by bassist Brad Barrett and percussionist José Moreno. (The trio’s regular percussionist, Tupac Mantilla, who is heard on the group’s 2014 album, Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio, will not perform in Minneapolis.)

Pascual’s journey into flamenco music began with lessons during high school. After his junior year, he and a friend, Mikhail Davies — son of flamenco guitarist Scott “Mateo” Davies, who played with Voices of Sepharad, the Sephardic dance and music ensemble — traveled to Spain. Pascual took his first flamenco lessons from Scott Davies, who encouraged the teenagers to visit Spain.

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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.

AJW logo-color 040207

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.