Meir Y. Soloveichik: Hanukkah Unbound
It is with this in mind that the central ritual of Hanukkah today—the kindling of several small flames in commemoration of a Menorah that burned in the Temple for eight miraculous nights—must be understood. The story of the flask of oil has been mocked by bigoted anti-Jewish writers who celebrate the intellectual achievements of Hellenism. Thus did Christopher Hitchens sneer that “Epicurus and Democritus had brilliantly discovered the world was made up of atoms, but who cares about a mere fact like that when there is miraculous oil to be goggled at by credulous peasants.” But such a critique, like most of Hitchens’s commentary on biblical religion, entirely misses the point. The contrast between the fire of Greece and the flames of the Talmud allows us to understand that for Jews, to light the menorah is to do more than mark a miracle; it is to look at those small flames and ponder what biblical monotheism bequeathed to a pagan world, and the miraculous endurance of the tiny people that brought this message to humanity.
We are indeed forever indebted to Athens for its intellectual achievements, but the menorah’s flames remind us of the insights found not in Athens but Jerusalem—that human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore precious and inviolable; that history has purpose; and that countries stand under the judgement of a good and just God. The Nazi effort to seize the Olympian mantle ought to remind us of the dangers of rebelling against this biblical message, as Germany in the early 20th century was, in a sense, the Athens of its age. This point was made by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in a speech delivered at a congressional Holocaust memorial:
You will have missed the most frightening aspect of it all, if you do not appreciate that it happened in one of the most educated, most progressive, most cultured countries in the world. The Germany of the 1920s and early 1930s was a world leader in most fields of art, science, and intellect….Berlin was a center of theater.…German poets and writers included Hermann Hesse, Stefan George, Leonhard Frank, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Mann.…In architecture, Germany was the cutting edge.…And in science, of course, the Germans were preeminent.
The right response to what happened in Germany, Scalia reflected, “can be achieved only by acknowledging, and passing on to our children, the existence of absolute, uncompromising standards of human conduct. Mankind has traditionally derived such standards from religion; and the West has derived them from and through the Jews.”
This, in the end, is what Hanukkah is all about, and the holiday therefore speaks particularly to us today. Throughout much of the West, biblical faith has waned profoundly. No one still sacrifices to Zeus, but given the approach of many to the sanctity of human life and the worshipful embrace of nature, the prospect of a repaganized Europe is all too real a possibility. In a season marked all too often by holiday kitsch, it is worth remembering the clash of cultures that brought Hanukkah into being—and the profound message that the menorah’s flames have to teach us.
In a previous piece, I told the tale embedded in Jewish-American folklore of the Hanukkah story inspiring George Washington during the Revolutionary War. And as President Reagan remarked at a 1983 Hanukkah celebration: “[the holiday] is of great importance to the meaning of America. … Hanukkah is symbolic of the Jewish struggle to resist submission to tyranny and to sustain its spiritual heritage.”
President Obama got it right at the 2013 White House Hanukkah Reception, when he said that Hanukkah is about “a people who surmounted overwhelming odds to reclaim their historic homeland … Jewish communities around the world kept alive a light that would not be extinguished. The hope that freedom would triumph over tyranny.”
The sources above demonstrate that Hanukkah is a tale of unyielding resistance to government despotism, of fighting and dying for freedom, of religious conservatism, of sovereign independence, of civic virtue, of risking everything, of right makes might, of seeing God’s hand in history, and of believing miracles are still possible.
Unfortunately, these ideals have loosened their grip on the hearts of modern man and woman. Some deny them outright. Adam Smith observed that “every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges the like faculty in another. I judge of your sight by my sight … of your love by my love.”
When the motivations that stirred the Maccabees to battle mean little to us, so does Hanukkah. Can we be inspired by martyrs for a cause we hold in ambivalence?
However, if this brand of Hanukkah feels uncomfortable, this year, ask yourself why.
Media companies are just as guilty. The Hallmark Channel is famous for its month+ of heartwarming Christmas movies, and in recent years they’ve included some token Hanukkah-themed stories as well…but the results indicate that the writers neglected to consult anyone knowledgeable about Judaism. The movies often feature a Jewish main character with no Jewish knowledge who needs to be educated about the holiday. Expect lots of dreidel decorations and a “happily ever after” with a couple from different faiths coming together to show the value of cultural diversity.
It’s as if these creators sat around and asked themselves, “How can I take my Christmas merchandise and market it to Jews who celebrate Hanukkah despite my lack of knowledge about Hanukkah? I’ll make a ‘Jewish’ elf-on-the-shelf! Or a Jewish Christmas movie!” These creations indicate the mistaken assumption that Jews don’t have a rich enough culture and are looking to incorporate Christmas traditions into their celebration of Hanukkah instead of celebrating the unique characteristics of their own winter holiday without connection to anything else. Of course, these artists and companies think that if they use these symbols or a few Jewish words, it makes everything kosher and Jewish. And frankly, it’s insulting.
I understand that this trend to use Jewish signs and symbols in holiday merchandise stems from a desire to include Jews in a Christmas-oriented society, who often feel left out of the holiday excitement. By including a token nod to other cultures’ winter holidays, these businesses demonstrate a level of cultural sensitivity that indicates that they understand. They make attempts at humor with puns using Jewish words, thinking they’re making a humorous joke, but in reality, they’re making a bad ethnic joke by those who aren’t part of the ethnic group, and that is culturally offensive.
Hanukkah celebrates Jews refusing to assimilate to an occupying culture that tried to define what their culture should be. It’s sadly ironic that this celebration of Jewish freedom from outside cultural influences has turned into a celebration of assimilation.
Perhaps I’m being too sensitive since I am an educated Orthodox Jew familiar with the background of our holidays. I guess what is truly tragic is that for some American Jews, Jewish Christmas is exactly what they’re seeking, and they miss the true meaning of Hanukkah.
The major instigators of antisemitism today come from the radical right, radical left and radical Islam. Even though these three major groups despise each other, and would like to destroy each other, they are united in their irrational hate of the Jewish people.
These haters of Israel and Jews, are distorting and manipulating the important concepts of advancing human rights, fighting foreign occupations, pursuing peace and equality, in order to make them fit into a new narrative of “intersectionality.” Meaning, antisemites and antizionists are “hijacking solidarity” by joining other minority groups, in order to use them to amplify their hate towards Israel.
Many books have been written about this phenomenon, but it seems that the most recent wave of antisemitism has gained momentum due to a deceptive, multimillion-dollar, “influence machine” that is targeting and supporting the pernicious denial of the well documented right of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland in the land of Israel. The overwhelming majority of Jews are considered to be supporters of Israel, and therefore all Jews are being targeted.
This “influence machine”, is working overtime to paint the Arab-Palestinian Authority and Hamas terror group as being the underdogs, instead of being called out for what they really are. Entities that brainwash children and adults with a hatred of Jews, pay salaries to terrorists, all while Hamas continues to build a terror infrastructure designed to kill Israeli civilians and destroy the State of Israel.
The reach of this “influence machine” extends to universities, print and online media outlets, and the Western public at large, without being challenged in an adequate manner. To make the war on this misinformation even worse, there are many oblivious and naïve Jewish students and adults, who think that if they stand against their Jewish sisters and brothers and against the only Jewish State, that they will be respected by these antizionists groups. They are so wrong.
Surely, I am as guilty as the next person about taking Israel for granted. We forget the miracle, that there she stands, for all of us, risen from the ashes, a Biblical dream come true.
So obsessed by politics, we forget what Israel means for our glory, our tradition, our safety, and our deliverance from the hands of our enemies, who, to this day, hate us without cause.
So here they come again, Richard Gere and more than 100 other movie notables to sign a letter not to bless, but to curse the precious land and its holy people.
You heard this before? Yes…once a year they come to remind us that it ain’t over…the world’s oldest hatred still lives, even among the fancy people.
You would think to be rich and famous would keep them busy counting their money and their luck, but no, as throughout history, there is always time for the Jews.
What is it this time? It is about…well…the Palestinian Arabs, and how lovely they are compared to the Israelis.
Fortunate for them to have the Palestinian Arabs as their darlings.
Otherwise they would have to look themselves in the mirror and admit that it is a mindless, brutish ancient grudge that motivates and enrages them.
Big question. Where would they be without Israel…to blame?
Bigger question. Where would we be without Israel…to cherish?
— The Mossad: The Social Media Account (@TheMossadIL) November 24, 2021
— Emily Schrader – ????? ?????? (@emilykschrader) November 24, 2021
U.K. — David Hirsh: Antisemitism on the left — Ep. #27
David Hirsh is a senior lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the author of the book CONTEMPORARY LEFT ANTISEMITISM, published in 2017, in which he provides a sociological understanding of contemporary antisemitism.
UJS and @QMULJSoc are disgusted at a motion that passed at @QMSU to repeal the IHRA definition of antisemitism and adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, without any consultation with Jewish students. pic.twitter.com/2JqFU19WZh
— Union of Jewish Students (@UJS_UK) November 23, 2021
This former congresswoman says she hates Israel not Jews. But she can’t help herself from bringing up bigoted lies like “Jews ran the slave trade.” That conspiracy has nothing to do with Israel.
She is using Israel as an outlet for her hatred of Jews – as many do. https://t.co/ENyeHKzIzX
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) November 23, 2021
Richmond, VA- based William Bass explained why he thought Jews killed during a synagogue shooting deserved it: “Those ppl weren’t Jews and that’s why the Lord allowed them to be destroyed for being imposters…”https://t.co/btLYTZX4FY pic.twitter.com/cU9Wg8bOqI
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) November 23, 2021
.@UCBerkeley philosophy grad and @jvplive activist Paul Michael Irvin wants Jews to just get over deadly violence targeting them: “Palestinian resistance to this apartheid regime, whether it be stones or rockets, is justified.”https://t.co/QX0Ssmn4ZU pic.twitter.com/tvJrKFSLAA
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) November 24, 2021
In the New York Times this month, reporter Patrick Kingsley tells a tale of a Gaza poetry professor who breaks down boundaries.
Professor Refaat Alareer, readers are told, “add[s] nuance” to the contrasting narratives of Palestinians and Israelis. He offers students “an appreciation” of Israeli poets. He admires the way an Israeli poet blurs divisions between the two sides. In spite of his hardships — imposed by Israel — Alareer is a surprising “champion” of Israeli poetry, who uses poetry to teach about the “humanity” of Israeli Jews.
It’s lovely. It’s unexpected.
But it’s fiction.
On social media, Alareer reveals himself as a man overflowing with hate. One might call his relentless slurs puerile — “Zionists are dumb”; “to be a Zionist is to be a heartless twat and a piece of shit”; “Zionists are the ugliest, unfunniest, and most untalented people on the globe” — but to evoke childishness, as that word does, would be to gloss over dangerous bigotry and dehumanization.
“Zionists are scum,” he insists.
“Zionists are the most despicable filth.”
“Zionism is a disease.”
He is undeterred by the fact that, to antisemites, “Zionist” is a euphemism for Jew. He is undeterred, too, by the fact that to Jews, the Z-word refers to the majority of Jews worldwide. (In the U.S. alone, over 8 in 10 Jews say caring about Israel is essential or important to their Judaism.) He is even undeterred by the fact that the Nazis famously described their Jewish victims as filthy, subhuman, viruses — a form of dehumanization believed to be a precursor to genocide.
2/ When weighing whether Refaat Alareer would teach sympathetically of Israelis if he didn’t know it was for a sympathetic write-up in the NYT, consider what else this literary maven has had to say about the average Jew:
— Gilead Ini (@GileadIni) November 16, 2021
New York Times Senior Commissioning Editor Christine Kecher was clearly thrilled about her first feature about Israel since her appointment as head of the newspaper’s Op-Docs series (short documentaries that are part of the New York Times opinion department).
The short film, by screenwriter/director Rona Segal, titled “Mission: Hebron,” portrays Israel’s military presence in Hebron as inherently evil, meant to support and protect an equally evil foreign implant of Jews (identified as “settlers”) in a “Palestinian city”. It is no wonder Ms. Kecher leapt at the opportunity to acquire this film: It adheres to the newspaper’s mandated narrative of vilifying the Jewish state, its leaders, society and institutions. As the NYT editor enthused:
When our team saw ‘Mission: Hebron’ during its U.S. premiere at AFI Docs, we knew we wanted to collaborate with the filmmakers to bring this film to a larger audience. Rona’s fearless filmmaking and personal experience serving in the IDF, as well as the honest and harrowing first-person accounts given by the ex-soldiers she interviewed, provides a powerful and unprecedented view into life on the ground in the occupied West Bank.
Kecher credulously accepts and promotes the film as indisputable truth. In her NYT column introducing it, Kecher gushes over the “award-winning documentary” by an “acclaimed Israeli director and screenwriter” and celebrates the film as investigative journalism at its best — a “powerful documentary experience” that provides an “eye-opening” and “unique” exposé of the brutalization of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers that is purportedly a routine feature of Israel’s military presence in Hebron. She earnestly suggests the film’s interviewees are ingenues who speak – some for the first time — with “astonishing candor” and she lauds the film’s accompanying “on-the-ground footage that provides rare glimpses into life in central Hebron.”
But contrary to what the New York Times editor would have viewers believe, the movie is not about neophyte whistleblowers reluctantly divulging stories of Israeli abuse they witnessed. The protagonists/interviewees are seasoned employees, former employees, and activists with Breaking the Silence (BtS) (or Peace Now, a funder of BtS) whose mission and goal is to slander Israel in the international public arena with hearsay and uncorroborated stories of villainy. As for those who are credited with providing “on-the-ground footage,” they include the International Solidarity Movement, that infamously supports deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews; anti-Israel activist/propagandist Issa Amro and his Youth Against Settlements; the anti-Zionist group B’tselem that notoriously echoes Nazi propaganda to promote the concept of Jewish supremacy, and other activist groups affiliated with BtS that labor to defame and delegitimize Israel.
Who knows the actual context of the film clips and how they were edited and manipulated (with added sound effects) to fit the filmmaker’s pre-existing narrative?
The Post’s Nov. 22 story, titled “Highway of Hope and Heartbreak,” was clearly a major project. The dispatch was authored by Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Hendrix, and reporters Shira Rubin and Sufian Taha, and ran an astonishing 4,494 words. It contained more than 40 photographs and a video—all to chronicle “how remote the prospect of a Palestinian state—and a resolution of the Middle East conflict—has become.”
The story’s concept centers around a road trip along Route 60, which the Post claims “reveals how distant” the prospect of a two-state solution really is. The 146-mile journey “begins and ends in Israel,” but “most of it … traces the spine of the occupied West Bank.” Should “Palestinians ever achieve statehood,” the Post tells readers “Route 60 will be its national road.”
Despite expending thousands of words and dozens of glossy photographs, the Post can’t bring itself to tell readers the truth about why there isn’t a Palestinian state.
As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has documented, Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous offers for a Palestinian state if it means living in peace next to Israel.
In 1937, the Arab community in British-ruled Mandate Palestine rejected the findings of the Peel Commission, which recommended the creation of an Arab state and a Jewish one from land that had originally been set aside for the recreation of a Jewish homeland. In 1947, they joined Arab nations in rejecting the U.N. partition plan, which would have created a Palestinian Arab state out of portions of land originally provided for Jewish settlement, choosing instead to declare war on the fledgling Jewish nation.
The Associated Press has repeatedly demonstrated identification with rogue journalists who last May called for reporting the “contextualized truth” — that is filtering coverage through the distorting prism of “Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.”
Forcing facts to artificially fit into a predetermined partisan narrative is antithetical to ethical journalism as defined by the longstanding Code of Ethics of the Society for Professional Journalists, and necessitates discarding information that counters the “contextualized truth.”
Tia Goldenberg’s Nov. 23 Associated Press dispatch, “Back in power, Israel’s Left finds its influence is limited,” embodies the wire service’s unethical partiality for the partisan, anti-Israel frame championed by the group of journalists against ethical journalism.
Thus, writing about the limited influence of left-wing parties in the broad Israeli government coalition on Palestinian-related issues, Goldenberg finds only Israeli blame “as hopes for a Palestinian state slip further away under their watch, with settlement construction booming and peace talks a distant memory.” The left-wing coalition members “are finding their influence is limited, with coalition partners who support Jewish West Bank settlement showing little appetite for compromise and the country’s decades-long occupation churning on.”
CAMERA’s Israel office prompted correction of a New York Times story Monday which erroneously described the Western Wall as “the last remaining part of an ancient Jewish temple that was destroyed in antiquity” (“Israeli Is Killed by Palestinian Near Holiest Site in Jerusalem,” by bureau chief Patrick Kingsley and Myra Noveck).
The characterization is wrong for two reasons. First, the Western Wall was not a part of the temple itself; it was a retaining wall for the Temple Mount, the plaza on which the temples stood.
Second, the Western Wall is not the last remaining part of the Temple Mount complex. In fact, there are many extant remains from the temple complex including the southern, eastern and northern retaining walls. Extant features abutting the southern wall include a broad stairway leading up to the Temple Mount’s entrance and two gates, known as Huldah Gates, which provided access to the Temple Mount (Hershel Shanks: Jerusalem: An Archeological Biography, p. 143). Some of the interior part of the Herodian Double Gate (which is one of the Huldah Gates) is also still intact. In addition, an area called “Robinson’s Arch,” in the south-western corner of the Temple complex, still remains. In his book, Shanks provides details concerning numerous other remnants.
In addition to the structural remains that are still in their original locations, items from the temple and activity that took place there have been recovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem. Established by archeologists, the project invites members of the public to sift through the 6,000 tons of dirt and remains which the Muslim Waqf recklessly, without any archeological care, removed with a bulldozer in 1999 and subsequently dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley.
Previously we looked at coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem on November 21st on the BBC News website and in the afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’, both of which included contributions from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman:
Just hours after the attack had taken place, ‘Newshour’ producers decided that what listeners to its evening edition most needed to hear was a Palestinian point of view on the topic of the murder of one Israeli and the wounding of four others.
Presenter Julian Marshall introduced that nearly five-minute-long item as follows:
Marshall: “A member of the Palestinian movement Hamas opened fire in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning, killing an Israeli and wounding three others before being shot dead by police. The attack occurred near one of the gates to the Al Aqsa compound, which has been a regular flashpoint. The man who was killed has been identified as Eliyahu David Kay, an Israeli immigrant originally from South Africa. The attacker has been named as Fadi Abu Shkhaydam. Hamas confirmed that he was a member of the group’s political wing in East Jerusalem.”
As we see, Marshall promoted the myth of separate ‘wings’ to Hamas (as was the case in the BBC News website report), using the bland term “movement” to describe that terrorist organisation. He erred on the number of people wounded in the attack and breached the BBC’s style guide by referring to Temple Mount as “the Al Aqsa compound”.
According to Lena Rubenfeld, co-founder of CentrALT with her husband, some Poles view buying “Lucky Jews” as “a tribute to the community.”
“This is a problematic stereotype but people don’t see it as a problem. They see it as a positive thing and buy them for their friends,” Lena Rubenfeld said.
To challenge people’s perception of “Lucky Jews” in Krakow, CentrALT is launching a public competition to designate the city’s “official” new Jewish souvenir. According to Rubenfeld, the market for Jewish figurines and paintings became so overheated that some manufacturing takes place in China now.
“We are trying to bring the society along,” said Michael Rubenfeld. “We want to change the consciousness of the buyers and sellers.”
In cyberspace, there has been a stunning proliferation of “Lucky Jew” marketing in recent years. According to a recent study on the topic, the “financial success” connotations of purchasing “Lucky Jews” has fueled the trend, which includes offering buyers elaborate “positioning” instructions for new paintings.
According to researchers, “The phenomenon of trading figurines of Jews on the internet is truly contemporary, capturing the transformative journey of Poland from a socialist command economy to private facing capitalist enterprise, along with current tastes, purchasing trends, and new methods of marketing.”
The figurines are also sold by a handful of Polish merchants on Etsy, suggesting a market outside of Poland for what some of the sellers call “wedding cake toppers.” In general, Poland’s Jewish-themed tchotchkes produce a host of reactions in people, depending on the individual, said CentrALT’s Michael Rubenfeld.
“To be honest, if you look at most of the images with money, the Jews are rarely portrayed as malicious or ‘money grubbing’ — and where a Jew will look at an image of a Jew with money, they will instantly see something negative, a non-Jew in Poland might just see a Jew,” he said.
An outspoken Catholic priest and professor at one of Poland’s leading universities will face a disciplinary hearing later this week where he will be asked to justify his comments excoriating a colleague who promoted the infamous antisemitic “blood libel.”
Fr. Alfred Wierzbicki — a professor at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin — will appear before a university disciplinary committee on Friday to answer the allegation that he “violated the duties of a teacher in the church faculty of a Catholic university” by vociferously condemning antisemitism, homophobia and racism in a series of interviews with the Polish media.
One of the six charges brought against Wierzbicki concerns his trenchant criticisms of his colleague Fr. Tadeusz Guz, a professor of philosophy who endorsed the antisemitic “blood libel” in a 2018 public lecture. Guz is also known for comparing mass vaccination programs to counter the COVID-19 pandemic to the Nazi regime’s crimes against humanity.
“We know, dear people, that the facts of ritual murder cannot be erased from history,” Guz told an audience in Warsaw during a May 26, 2018 public lecture. “Why? Because we, the Polish state, in our archives, in the surviving documents, have had over the centuries — when Jews lived together with our Polish nation — we have legally valid sentences for ritual murders.”
Asked about the stances taken by Guz in an interview last April, Wierzbicki responded: “You can be a university professor, but you can also be a total fool.”
VK, a Russian social media platform with an active user base of at least 60 million, is reportedly rife with antisemitism, online watchdog Fighting Online Antisemitism has said.
Some examples of the alleged content include offensive caricatures that evoke classic antisemitic tropes of Jews with exaggerated facial features, as well as portraying Jews in positions of power over the media.
Comparisons between Jews and rodents and leeches were also made, and it was even reported that content promoting Holocaust denial and admiration for the Nazis were present.
Allegations that Jewish people have masterminded the COVID-19 pandemic to further their own gains were also not uncommon. Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination networks have become known as hotbeds of antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes.
It was also reported recently that VK was fined 3 million roubles for not deleting banned content, though it is not known whether this content relates to the antisemitic posts reported.
A white supremacist has been sentenced to 19 months imprisonment by a court in Brooklyn for urging the murder of US Senators he claimed were serving the “Zionist Occupation Government.”
Brendan Hunt, who resides in the Queens borough of New York City, was sentenced on Monday by Judge Pamela Chen, who told him that the length of his term reflected the gravity of his actions.
“You are going to have to grow up and reflect on your actions,” Chen admonished Hunt, who is the son of retired New York City family court judge John Hunt. The 37-year-old Hunt had been “infantilized and coddled for a good part of his life,” she added pointedly.
On Jan. 8, 2021 — two days after militant supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Congress in Washington, DC — Hunt posted a video titled “KILL YOUR SENATORS” that included the summary “Slaughter them all,” to BitChute, a video sharing site.
Urging viewers to “get your guns and show up to DC” to prevent the inauguration of President Joe Biden, whom he called a “f__ communist,” Hunt said he would readily participate in any armed insurrection.
“If anybody has a gun, give me it, I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them … [W]e have to take out these Senators and then replace them with actual patriots. This is a Zionist Occupied Government,” Hunt ranted.
A former Columbus, Ohio resident has received six months in prison, a $50,000 fine and one year of supervised release after being convicted of subjecting his Jewish neighbors to antisemitic harassment.
Douglas G. Schifer, 66, was sentenced by a federal court on Tuesday. A statement announcing the conviction from Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, noted that Schifer — now a resident in Bucyrus, Ohio — “threatened neighbors and their guests because of their religion during an outdoor gathering at the neighbors’ residence on Nov. 7, 2020.”
Schifer showered guests with antisemitic abuse, telling them, “all you f***ing people, it’s no wonder Hitler burned you people in ovens,” “f***ing Hitler should have gassed you,” and “Jews burn, you belong in ovens.”
Schifer’s victims — Nick and Tiffany Kinney, a Jewish couple from California who had recently moved to the Olde Towne East neighborhood of Columbus — spoke out in March this year about their ordeal with Schifer.
Schifer had repeatedly targeted the couple, they recalled.
“He’s tired of us liberals,” Nick Kinney said of Schifer’s verbal barrage. “Horrible things about Hitler, ‘It’s no wonder Hitler burned our people’ — he knows we are Jewish.”
Schiffer threatened that “I’ll put a bullet through your head like Hitler,” Tiffany Kinney recalled.
Border Police Cpl. Jeanne d’Arc Hissan, a Christian Arab from Jerusalem, is expected to break a glass ceiling when she not only becomes one of the 550 men and women to complete the 16-week combat training course but is also named the battalion’s outstanding soldier.
“She’s a fighter and a pistol. You don’t meet someone like her every day,” senior Border Police officers said.
Hissan chose to enlist in the military despite resistance from some of her family.
“When I was 16, when all my friends received a first draft notice, I didn’t,” Hissan told Israel Hayom on Tuesday.
“I went to the Jerusalem conscription office and applied to enlist in the military. When they asked me where I wanted to serve, I answered ‘the Border Police,’ without hesitation.
“My mother’s dream was to join the Border Police, but she couldn’t. Two years ago she died of cancer. As far as I’m concerned, this is the fulfillment of my mom’s dream. She raised us with values, love for the homeland and the country, to help others and always think positive,” Hissan said.
Tamar Schwarzbard is grateful for getting to tell Israel’s story to the world every day—not through lectures or opinion columns, but via social platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
A U.S. native who immigrated to Israel eight years ago, Schwarzbard isn’t just any online advocate for Israel. As head of new media at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it’s her job to communicate with global audiences about her adopted home.
Depending on the day, Schwarzbard oversees between 20 and 30 employees at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Jerusalem. She is in charge of the ministry’s branding and digital ecosystem, which operates in six languages. Schwarzbard works primarily in English, but she supervises work carried out in Hebrew, Farsi, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. The Jerusalem-based ministry team works with over 100 Israeli missions and embassies worldwide.
“For me, the excitement is less about the social media and more about the worldwide reach and the opportunity to shape hearts and minds,” she said.
This 31-year-old Jerusalemite is one of a growing number of American immigrants to Israel playing increasingly prominent and important roles in Israeli government or business. Schwarzbard sees her success as a combination of luck and good timing — and an example of how Israel is capitalizing on the value and unique contributions of new immigrants who come with university degrees or professional track records.
A new episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that aired Tuesday focused on Amar’e Stoudemire and the retired NBA star’s embrace of Orthodox Judaism.
Stoudemire, who has played for the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, converted to Judaism while living in Israel in August 2020. From 2016 to 2019, he played for the Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem and later for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He remains a part owner of the Jerusalem team.
He has since moved back to the United States and lives in Brooklyn, where HBO filmed him at morning prayers in his local synagogue.
On the show, Stoudemire spoke about the transformation he underwent from NBA star to Israeli citizen to Orthodox Jew.
“It’s very intense, you’re leaving your old way of thinking, you’re leaving your old way of action to a new concept,” Stoudemire said.
Stoudemire has spoken before about his difficult upbringing, including the death of his father when Stoudemire was just 12, and learning from his mother about his family’s Hebrew Israelite roots at a young age. Ever since learning about his connection to the Hebrew Israelites, who believe they are descended from the ancient Israelites, Stoudemire began reading about Judaism and studying Jewish history.
Former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire has spent nearly two decades on a spiritual journey and now leads a devout Jewish life, completing a conversion to Modern Orthodoxy while living in Israel. A new episode of #RealSports premieres Nov 23 on @HBOMax. pic.twitter.com/YfWYa4oMkE
— Real Sports (@RealSportsHBO) November 17, 2021
The Genesis Prize Foundation on Monday posthumously awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to the late chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Sacks served as head rabbi amid a long struggle against antisemitism in the Labour Party and a rise in anti-Jewish incidents in Britain and Europe. Following his passing in November 2020, he was widely mourned for his eloquence, moderation, and strong belief in social justice and interfaith solidarity.
The award is intended to recognize Sacks’ role as a teacher, activist for ecumenical dialogue, and inspiration for the young generation of Jews, the Foundation said.
It was presented to the late chief rabbi’s widow, Lady Elaine Sacks, at a ceremony attended by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, current UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and famed Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, among others.
“Rabbi Sacks became a masterful articulator of the Jewish foundation of universal values, while unapologetically verbalizing a proud, dignified Jewish identity,” Herzog commented at the event.
“His innate, God-given power of expression gave voice to the contribution of Judaism and the State of Israel to humanity at large,” Herzog said. “He reached across the aisle and across different religions. He brought the Torah down from the heavens to the smartphone generation. This is Rabbi Sacks’ legacy.”