July 20th, 2017

Christian Zionists still uncertain about Trump — but know they’re glad Obama is out

By RON KAMPEAS

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Barack Obama is gone and the relief among the Christian Zionists and their Jewish friends who peopled certain corners of Washington, D.C., this week was palpable.

Pastor John Hagee, left, founder of Christians United for Israel, shaking hands with Vice President Mike Pence at CUFI’s annual conference, July 17, 2017. (Kasim Hafeez/CUFI)

Gary Bauer, the veteran evangelical activist, laid it out at the opening session of Christians United for Israel’s annual conference on Monday.

A year ago, “from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the next, we had people who were not blessing Israel, they were cursing Israel,” said Bauer, who was recently named director of CUFI’s Washington office. Keep reading →

July 20th, 2017

Uganda’s Jews are down to one meal a day because of East Africa’s famine

By BEN SALES

(JTA) — Uganda’s 2,000 Jews have long maintained a modest existence. They live in the east of the country in a hilly, rural area that lacks paved roads, consistent electricity and freely running water.

But this year, the situation for Uganda’s Jewish community, called the Abayudaya, has worsened.

The central synagogue of the Abayudaya Jewish community in rural Uganda. (Ben Sales)

Twenty million people across Africa and the Middle East are now at risk of illness and death due to a famine that is centered in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan. Caused by a mix of factors, including civil wars, underdeveloped infrastructure and a drought, the famine is “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.,” Stephen O’Brien, the emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations, said in March.

“People look dehydrated and starving,” Gershom Sizomu, the community’s rabbi, told JTA on Tuesday. “People got sick and weak, and there are people who died because of complications because of the food shortage. People were already sick, so without food they become weaker and weaker.” Keep reading →

July 18th, 2017

Jews against deportation

The story of Luciano Mejia Morales, a Latino community organizer in Minneapolis, strikes home with members of the Jewish community

By MAXWELL KENT

On a beautiful late-June morning, Miriam Garland, a St. Louis Park resident and Darchei Noam congregant, marched outside the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis.

A Donald Trump rally in San Diego, Calif., on May 27, 2016, attracted a huge crowd of protesters, many of them carrying pro-immigrant signs. As part of the long-running campaign for immigration reform, activists have condemned cases involving what is seen as untoward cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities. (iStock)

Chanting “No deportation for Luciano, save his life,” she was not alone in the local fight for justice in what is considered a sanctuary city.

“I attended this rally because I couldn’t not attend,” says Garland. “Luciano’s life is potentially on the line. He is an example of how immigrants contribute so much and make this country stronger and better.” Keep reading →

July 12th, 2017

Yael Rasooly: ‘They must do their art’

Israeli performer and puppeteer Yael Rasooly brings one-woman show to Minnesota

Puppetry is unique among the performing arts in that it allows one performer with two suitcases of props to create an entire stage play.

Performer Yael Rasooly, as an example, working in the space between two rooms in an Israeli apartment, created Paper Cut, in which a secretary rummaging through her desk is able to act out a cinematic fantasy of romantic love, using cut-outs from movie magazines, desk lamps, and anything else that she can spontaneously turn into a character.

Yael Rasooly, who can create an entire stage play from two suitcases. (Daniel Tchetchik)

Rasooly, who was born in Jerusalem but spent part of her childhood in Toronto and was educated in London, started out musically. “I started as a classical pianist,” she told American Jewish World, “and then, for a while, I thought I would be quite happy being a theater designer.

“But the stage beckons,” she added. Keep reading →

July 12th, 2017

When cantors were stars

Puppeteer Lisa Sturz digs into her own family history

by MAX SPARBER

This is an unusually busy month for Jewish puppetry in the Twin Cities. There is Israeli puppeteer Yael Rasooly’s one-woman show Paper Cut, also featured in this issue, as well as Lisa Sturz, a puppeteer from Asheville, N.C., who will be at Open Eye Figure Theatre on July 23.

Cantor Izso Glickstein, the subject of a show at the Open Eye Figure Theatre. (Courtesy Lisa Sturz)

Sturz has a long background in puppetry, including having received an MFA in the discipline from UCLA in 1985. She has performed as a puppeteer in live theater, as well as having done quite a bit of film and television work, including with the Jim Henson Productions company, DreamWorks and Lucasfilm. She is also the founder of her own critically acclaimed company, Red Herring. Keep reading →