July 22nd, 2014

‘A Community Gathering for Israel’ – Thursday

“A Community Gathering for Israel” will take place 7:30 pm Thursday, July 24 at Adath Jeshurun Congregation, 10500 Hillside Lane W., Minnetonka.

Those attending are asked to make reservations (HERE), and to allow additional time for security screening.

This event is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Minneapolis Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and Minnesota Rabbinical Association.Gathering-for-Israel-7.24
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July 16th, 2014

Diaspora soul man

Trumpeter Steven Bernstein returns to Minneapolis on Aug. 6, for a show at the Dakota with Billy Martin’s Wicked Knee

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

Steven Bernstein, an accomplished trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader, was set to head off to Europe last week, for shows with the sensational New Orleans pianist Henry Butler and their group, the Hot 9. They were booked for the Nice Jazz Festival, in France; and on Sunday, they played the North Sea Jazz Festival, in the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Fortunately, before he flew to Europe, Bernstein took some time to talk with the AJW. The phone conversation, from his home in Nyack, N.Y., ranged over a variety of topics, including his Aug. 6 appearance with Billy Martin’s Wicked Knee, a rollicking brass band, at the Dakota Jazz Club.

Bernstein, 52, spent most of his youth in Berkeley, Calif., then moved to the Big Apple at the age of 17. He soon became a fixture in the downtown Manhattan music scene, performing with John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards; with saxophonist Paul Shapiro in a group called Foreign Legion; and with Sex Mob, which covers pop songs, including themes from James Bond movies, and is still performing and recording. (The latter group’s rhythm section, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen, played behind jazz guitarist Bill Frisell at the Dakota last week.)

Steven Bernstein: What’s not to love about a band with a tuba, trombone, trumpet and drummer? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Steven Bernstein: What’s not to love about a band with a tuba, trombone, trumpet and drummer? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bernstein, who plays both trumpet and slide trumpet, also has recorded four albums featuring his idiosyncratic take on Jewish liturgical music for John Zorn’s Tzadik label. The first record in the “Diaspora” series was Diaspora Soul, released in 1999.

He is also the leader of the Millennial Territory Orchestra, a group of top-flight players, which performed in 2008 at the Walker Art Center. The first MTO album features covers of tunes by The Beatles, Prince (“Darling Nikki”), the Grateful Dead, etc. I really like the group’s album, MTO Plays Sly, which covers the songs of funk star Sly Stone, with the help of guest artists, including vocalists Sandra St. Victor, Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), Martha Wainwright and Shilpa Ray.

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July 16th, 2014

‘We would tell what happened’

Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler’s List and the USC Shoah Foundation, text by Diana Landau and Linda Sunshine, 334 pages, Newmarket Press, $50

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

Despite my initial reaction to the subtitle (a movie can create a legacy?), which gave me the notion that this coffee table-size book was merely further glorification of the justly acclaimed Steven Spielberg, I found Testimony to be an engaging work of substance.

The first half is about the making of Schindler’s List — including stills from the film and shots during filming — and how the project affected the participants, especially Spielberg.

“Every single day was like waking up and going to hell,” Spielberg said. “There was sadness on the set every day… actors breaking down from the stress of the recreation” and crew members walking away from the camera in tears. “I cried more making this movie than I cried during any three- or four-month period in my whole life.”

Scenes outside Auschwitz were especially difficult for co-producer Branko Lustig, who began his job interview by pulling up a sleeve to show Spielberg the A-3317 on his arm.

Making the movie gave Spielberg the idea of videotaping 50,000 survivor stories. Lustig was the project’s 50,000th interviewee.

“Sensible people said to me: ‘It’s impossible,’” Spielberg said. But with his reputation, some big-donor backing and enormous volunteer work, it happened. The second half of the book tells how.

Testimony, a 20th-anniversary commemoration by the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, recounts “Schindler Jew” Poldek Pfefferberg’s years of trying to get someone to write the story; of Thomas Keneally producing a book initially called Schindler’s Ark; of Spielberg’s decision to make Keneally’s renamed international bestseller into a movie; and of Spielberg’s choice of black and white, providing a documentary look.

Testimony-cover

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July 16th, 2014

A better day center for the elderly

Millennium Adult Day Care offers engaging activities for seniors, which can allow them to remain independent and delay out-of-home placement

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

Lena Merman was a teenager when she and her extended family — including her grandparents — immigrated to the United States from Russia. While she described the transition as an “exciting move” for the younger generation, it was very difficult for her grandparents, who struggled to learn English and to find a place where they felt they belonged.

Lena went on to attend the University of Minnesota, where she studied occupational therapy. She knew she wanted to work with people, though initially she didn’t want to work with seniors.

“When I was a student, seniors kind of scared me, because I didn’t have any experience except for my personal experience,” Lena told the AJW. “After I graduated, I went to different areas and worked with different populations, and I realized that seniors are really close to my heart, I have a soft spot for this population.”

As her grandparents continued to age, the family grew. Lena spent some time in Israel, where she met Leo, who had immigrated to the Jewish state as a teenager from Minsk, Belarus, and was serving in the IDF. The two eventually married and started their own family.

But Lena and her family were finding it increasingly difficult to balance taking care of all of the physical and emotional needs of her grandparents.

“We have kids, we had jobs, my mom had her work and my uncle also was working,” Lena said. “Even though our intentions were awesome toward our grandparents, we really couldn’t spend that much time with them, and we felt that they were feeling kind of useless.”

And when her grandmother’s health began to decline, the family felt there were only two options: move her into a nursing home or have someone stay at home with her.

Seniors enjoy breakfast at Millennium Adult Day Care before choosing an outing or activity for the day. (Photos: Erin Elliott Bryan)

Seniors enjoy breakfast at Millennium Adult Day Care before choosing an outing or activity for the day. (Photos: Erin Elliott Bryan)

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July 16th, 2014

Hearing set in Hebrew National lawsuit

AJW Staff Report

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit charging that Hebrew National hot dogs are not “100% kosher,” as widely advertised over the years, will be heard July 31 in Dakota County District Court — where the lawsuit was originally filed in 2012.

The defendant, ConAgra Foods, Inc., the parent company of Hebrew National, had the case moved to federal court, which dismissed the lawsuit. Then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled April 4 that the district court erred in dismissing the case with prejudice, and sent the matter back to the state court (4-11-14 AJW).hebrew-national-logo-6221

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case — Wallace, et al. v. ConAgra Foods Inc. — argue that the companies contracted to do kosher slaughtering for Hebrew National employed quotas to determine the percentage of kosher meat being passed through leased facilities at slaughterhouses in the Midwest, and engaged in various slipshod practices that rendered the meat not kosher.

Last month, ConAgra Foods filed a motion in the Dakota County court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended complaint. The plaintiffs will contest that motion in a hearing that will take place July 31 at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings. Keep reading →

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July 2nd, 2014

From the Airplane to Hot Tuna

Renowned guitarist Jorma Kaukonen returns to Minneapolis with his Hot Tuna mates for two nights this month

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

Near the end of A Serious Man, the 2009 film by the Coen brothers (who shot most of it in the Twin Cities), Bar Mitzva boy Danny Gopnik visits the elderly sage Rabbi Marshak.

The rabbi says, “When the truth is found. To be lies.” He clears his throat and continues, “And all the hope. Within you dies. Then what?”

Rabbi Marshak clears his throat again: “Grace Slick. Marty Balin. Paul Kanta. Jorma…”

“Kaukonen,” says Danny.

Hot Tuna at the Dakota July 21-22

“Something,” says Marshak. “These are the members of the Airplane.”

Then Rabbi Marshak hands over Danny’s transistor radio, which had been confiscated during his Hebrew school class.

“Be a good boy,” Marshak advises, in parting.

Rabbi Marshak apparently was captivated by the Jefferson Airplane’s song “Somebody to Love,” which appears on the group’s 1967 album, Surrealistic Pillow. The Airplane exemplified the San Francisco psychedelic rock sound; and Rabbi Marshak was stumbling over the name of the ensemble’s lead guitarist, Jorma Kaukonen (YOUR-mah COW-CO-NIN).

Jorma Kaukonen: There is a vibrant Jewish community around here. (Photo: Scotty Hall)

Jorma Kaukonen: There is a vibrant Jewish community around here. (Photo: Scotty Hall)

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July 2nd, 2014

Symposium will discuss Jewish future

Joint Distribution Committee, Midwest Federations will co-host July 21 event at Hyatt Regency

AJW Staff Report

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) will partner with Jewish Federations from around the Midwest in a July 21 “Global Symposium” titled “Doing Good: The Jewish Community’s Rescue, Relief and Renewal Around the World.”

The daylong symposium — registration begins 11:30 a.m., and the closing event is at 7 p.m. — will take place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis.

JDC — which is popularly known as “the Joint” — is the international relief arm of the North American Jewish community, and is funded primarily by Jewish Federations.

The organization works in more than 70 countries and in Israel “to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters,” according to a statement on its Web site (jdc.org).

The Minneapolis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul are co-hosts of the July 21 symposium, along with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the umbrella group of the federation system.

Alan Gill, CEO of the JDC, will participate in the symposium. He will be joined by young JDC relief workers from Kiev, Ukraine, and Budapest, Hungary.

“At a time of great challenge and opportunity for the Jewish people — from Ukraine to Hungary to Israel — I am looking forward to sharing with the Twin Cities Jewish community the work we are doing together to aid the neediest and infuse the Jewish future with strength and creative vitality,” said Gill, in a message sent to the AJW. “We are honored by our partnerships with the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations and all we do to put into action the ideal that we are all responsible for one another.”

Alan Gill: I am looking forward to sharing with the Twin Cities Jewish community the work we are doing together to aid the neediest and infuse the Jewish future with strength and creative vitality. (Photo: Courtesy of JDC)

Alan Gill: I am looking forward to sharing with the Twin Cities Jewish community the work we are doing together to aid the neediest and infuse the Jewish future with strength and creative vitality. (Photo: Courtesy of JDC)

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