December 6th, 2017

Islamic nations warn Trump on Jerusalem

Trump, who campaigned on a promise of moving the embassy, originally walked it back after assuming the presidency

By RON KAMPEAS

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be an act of “naked aggression” that would cause the United States to lose “its mediating role” in the Middle East, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said.

President Donald Trump speaks on Monday in the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

The statement by the group, representing 57 countries, came as President Donald Trump delayed a waiver on moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv that presidents have routinely issued since 1995, when Congress passed a law mandating the move.

The resolution issued Monday after an emergency meeting at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, “warns against recognizing Al-Quds as the capital of Israel, the occupying power, or establishing or transferring any diplomatic mission to Al-Quds, given that this is considered a naked aggression not only on the Arab and Islamic Ummah, but also on the rights of Muslims and Christians alike, and on the Palestinian people’s national rights, including their right to self-determination.”

Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. The Islamic Ummah refers to the worldwide Muslim community.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would cause “the United States to lose the legal and moral ground and its mediating role, and turning it into a biased party to the conflict,” the resolution said.

Trump’s deadline for issuing the waiver, which according to the law must be issued every six months, was Friday. On Monday evening, the White House said it would be delayed; on Wednesday he announced plans to move the embassy.

Trump, who campaigned on a promise of moving the embassy, walked it back after assuming the presidency. Recent reports say that he was unhappy with his first waiver issued in June and wants to go ahead and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as early as Wednesday. There have been conflicting details of what such a recognition would encompass, and whether it would involve moving the embassy. Keep reading →

December 6th, 2017

Okonomiyaki: Japanese-style latkes for Hanuka

Okonomiyaki is a customizable Japanese savory vegetable pancake.

By SONYA SANFORD

(The Nosher via JTA) — The Japanese word okonomiyaki is derived from two words: okonomi “how you like it” and yaki “grill.” Okonomiyaki is a customizable Japanese savory vegetable pancake. Like a latke, it gets cooked in oil in a fritter formation. Unlike a latke, it’s usually made into a large plate-sized pancake comprising mainly cabbage.

Japanese-style latkes (Photo: Sonya Sanford)

Food historians have linked the rise in popularity of okonomiyaki in Japan to World War II, when rice was more scarce and this recipe offered a filling meal or snack with a wheat-based starch. Throughout Japan there are regional differences and countless variations of okonomiyaki, but the most common form of the dish involves a batter made of flour, a variety of mountain yam, eggs, shredded cabbage, green onion, dashi and often the addition of pork belly. It gets topped with its own tangy sweet sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes (katsuobushi).

I first fell in love with okonomiyaki on a trip to Japan. You can find it there in restaurants that specialize in the dish, but it’s also something that is prepared in home kitchens. The cabbage gets slightly crisp, tender and sweet when seared in oil on a flattop or skillet, and then it gets generously slathered with an umami-rich sauce, along with a welcome drizzle of creamy mayo. The richness, sweetness and tanginess of these components all work perfectly together.

A few months after I returned from Japan, I ended up eating at Brooklyn’s Japanese Jewish restaurant, Shalom Japan. I didn’t hesitate to order its Jewish-influenced spin on okonomiyaki. Shalom Japan is known to top the dish with pastrami, or even corned lamb tongue and sauerkraut. It became clear there that okonomiyaki, with its base of humble cabbage and onion, is a perfect fit on a Jewish table. The fried pancake part of it all called out Hanuka.

I am a fan of all pancakes and fritters, and I set out to modify the classic Japanese version for a recipe that didn’t require access to a specialty food store and could be made with kosher ingredients.

Keep reading →

December 6th, 2017

Jewish groups aren’t thrilled about tax bill

Jewish groups hope to snatch small victories from the Republican tax plan

By RON KAMPEAS

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Staring at a massive defeat, Jewish groups dealing with social safety net issues are looking at the tax plan about to reach its final stages in Congress and hoping they can snatch a few small victories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on Nov. 28, as other Republican leaders in the Senate (l to r), John Barrasso, Orrin Hatch, John Thune and John Cornyn, look. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The hope is that lawmakers in reconciling the bills preserve a number of elements of the Senate bill, particularly deductions for medical expenses.

B’nai B’rith International, which advocates for elderly care, cited the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the slashed taxes in the Senate and House bills would increase the deficit to $1 trillion. The measures ostensibly compensate for tax cuts by removing loopholes and deductions, but overall there will be massive losses in revenue.

That could encourage lawmakers to slash medical coverage entitlements like Medicare for older Americans and Medicaid for the poor, according to B’nai B’rith, the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors.

“Many seniors would be at severe risk to not have the funds to cover basic housing, medical and food costs” were Medicare subsidies cut, the group said in its statement.

The House of Representatives passed its bill a month ago, while the Senate advanced its version over the weekend. This week, the chambers are likely to go into conference to reconcile the bills, which President Donald Trump wants on his desk before Christmas.

Keep reading →

December 1st, 2017

AJW Hanuka Cover Contest Winner: Chana Goldberg

We are proud to announce that Chana Goldberg is the winner of this year’s Hanuka Cover Contest. And as it happens, she also won the contest in 2014.

The 26th annual AJW Hanuka Cover Contest, for students in grades 1-8, again inspired young artists in the community to reflect on the meaning of the Festival of Lights.

The judges were challenged to choose a winner from numerous entries that were skillfully executed and creatively reflected our suggestion that drawings “should be visual representations of the meaning of Hanuka.”

(To see artworks by the four runners-up in the contest, click HERE.)

Chana, 13, is in the eighth grade at Lubavitch Cheder Day School in St. Paul. Next year she will attend Lubavitch Girls High School in Chicago.

She’s the daughter of Rabbi Yisroel and Rivkah Goldberg. Her father is the principal of Lubavitch Cheder in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood.

When we last talked two years ago, Chana had four sisters and three brothers (she’s the second oldest). Now she has five sisters, including one-year-old Golda Ita.

Keep reading →

November 29th, 2017

Secret Hanuka: Festival of Lights onscreen

The best place to find Hanuka onscreen is hidden in Christmas movies

By MAX SPARBER
Community News Editor

A Vox article from last year asked why there are so few Hanuka movies, and settled on one theory: the holiday is not festive enough (“all Jewish holidays are oriented around austerity and guilt,” they wrote).

The 1988 Pee-wee Herman Christmas special included a scene revealing that animated characters on the show were Jewish. (Binder Entertainment)

Perhaps, although I expect the answer is simpler: It’s because Jews are too busy making Christmas movies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Christmas movie that doesn’t have significant Jewish involvement (even “It’s a Wonderful Life” had uncredited rewrites by Dorothy Parker), and even the most Jewish-identified actors in Hollywood make Christmas movies, such as Seth Rogen, who made The Night Before in 2015 with fellow Jewish actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lizzy Caplan, Ilana Glazer and a cameo by James Franco as himself.

So where do we find Hanuka in this season? Keep reading →

November 29th, 2017

William and Shirley Siegel Schulman: Marriage and art are a great combination

A lifetime of creativity with William and Shirley Siegel Schulman

By DORIS RUBENSTEIN

Throughout history, there are numerous examples of outstanding artists who are married to other artists: Clara and Robert Schumann in classical music; Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy on Broadway (as well as the Guthrie during its earliest years); and artists William and Shirley Siegel Schulman in Menomonie, Wis.

William and Shirley Siegel Schulman (Photo: Courtesy Sabes JCC)

Bill and Shirley Schulman were a duo who spent nearly a combined century creating and teaching the visual arts in West Central Wisconsin. From our neighbor state’s rolling landscape and dairy farms, their students and arts have traveled and are represented around the region in homes, synagogues and on exhibition center walls.

It has been 22 years since Bill Schulman’s work appeared in exhibit, then at the St. Paul JCC; now Jews and art lovers on the Mississippi’s west bank can have their turn to enjoy this eclectic collection.

To describe Bill’s output as prolific would be an understatement. The exhibition catalog contains 228 pieces, but only a fraction of them are on the walls of the Tychman-Shapiro Gallery, with a few more spilling out onto the walls and hallways of the building. Similarly, to describe his choice of media as varied would only tell a small part of his story.

The story begins in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where William Schulman was born in 1929 and raised. He came south to follow his artistic drive and study at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee. A summer job at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ox-Bow Summer School of Art introduced him to another artist working there that summer, Shirley Siegel. Shirley had fled small-town life in Hawthorne, Wis. (near Superior), to pursue her artistic passions in Milwaukee too. After Bill’s military service in Korea, the couple married in 1956.

Bill’s interest always included art education and he did advanced academic studies at the Ohio State University. After teaching art in Milwaukee schools for six years, he was tapped to develop an art education program at UW/Stout in 1966; he worked there — graduating some 200 art educators — until retiring in 1992. Bill says that his motivation in teaching was “… to take the fire in my stomach for art and put it in theirs!”

Keep reading →