June 7, 2023

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11/25 Links Pt2: Hitler Intended to Eradicate the Jews of the Middle East; Patriotic Manhattan synagogue has celebrated Thanksgiving since 1789; Jewish A Cappella Group Drops ‘West Side Story’ Hanukkah Parody


From Ian:

Hitler Intended to Eradicate the Jews of the Middle East

As German historians Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers have detailed, Rauff carried out a “reign of terror” against Tunisian Jews that included conscripting 5,000 for forced labour. But with shipping to Europe under constant attack, Rauff could not carry out the larger SS plan to send Tunisia’s Jews to death camps in Europe.

The Nazis’ intentions to carry the war against the Jews beyond Europe never wavered. Ultimately, though, defeat at El Alamein turned the tables and kept the SS from carrying out its plans.

Yet leaving north Africa and the Middle East out of Holocaust history has erased the suffering of many of the Nazis’ victims and obscured the full significance of the victory at El Alamein.

Early in 2021, I received an email from the scientist Michael Bevan, son of Lance Corporal John Bevan of the Second New Zealand Division, who fought and was taken prisoner at El Alamein. “My father always thought they were fighting to preserve the British empire,” he wrote, which for “a colonial was not a high priority.” Only in the winter of 1945 in Germany, when as a prisoner of war his father saw female slave labourers building an airfield, did he fully grasp “the evils he had fought to contain”.

Therefore, the soldier’s son went on, understanding how the Eighth Army “established the El Alamein line”, and thus prevented genocide in the Middle East, “has brought new and deserved honour to the brave men of my father’s generation, who fought and suffered in Egypt.”

For their sake, too, the story must be told.

Giving Thanks in America

When Israel Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot, a theatrical salute to the power of love in modern-day America, made its debut on Broadway in 1908, it brought down the house. How could it not? The production’s melodramatic staging of New World promise had something for everyone—family tension, musical bravura, patriotism, romance—and a host of visual clues to anchor it. Act I, for instance, featured a prominently displayed American flag in the home of a recently arrived Jewish immigrant family—you couldn’t miss it even if seated in the cheap seats—while the drama’s concluding coup de theatre involved the Statute of Liberty.

In the course of their daily lives, America’s immigrants didn’t have too many opportunities to demonstrate their love of country in a forum that felt true, unforced, and from the heart. The Melting Pot provided them with one.

The celebration of Thanksgiving furnished the nation’s newest Jewish arrivals, as well as those of long standing, with yet another. The two communities took eagerly to this most American of holidays, both on its own terms and, most especially, in relation to what some of their number defined as its biblical pedigree. Long before the New World gave rise to Thanksgiving, the Israelites of the ancient Near East, it was proudly said, had celebrated a national “day of gratitude”: Sukkot.

Now and again, flag waving and Thanksgiving went hand in hand. Jewish organizations that helped to familiarize immigrant children and their families with American culture often made a point of linking the two. In 1900, for instance, New York’s Educational Alliance held a “special Thanksgiving service” at which 50 young boys and girls, each bearing two small American flags “crossed on their breast,” marched in formation to the head of the auditorium. One young girl, “slightly larger than the rest,” or so the New-York Tribune reported, then waved an equally large flag, after which the children “in concert” recited the following pledge: “Flag of our great Republic, inspirer in battle, guardian of our homes, whose stars and stripes stand for Bravery, Purity, Truth and Union, we salute thee!” No sooner had they concluded this verbal display then they were once again put through their paces by engaging in a series of calisthenics without dumbbells—proof, it would seem, of their newfound physical dexterity as budding Americans.

Even when it wasn’t Thanksgiving, much was made of Old Glory on the Lower East Side and in other American Jewish immigrant enclaves. At graduation exercises and comparable public assemblies, educators and civic reformers were given to extolling the flag in the hope that those in the audience would come to understand that it wasn’t a “mere piece of bunting,” but a benefaction. “Every time you gaze upon it, every star and stripe should cause you to reflect upon what it means to those thousands of our people who, driven from their homes by persecution, find actual physical shelter beneath its folds,” declaimed the Honorable N. Taylor Phillips, a highly pedigreed New York Jew (his forbears fought in the Revolutionary War) and a dedicated public servant, at one such gathering in 1903. “Order your lives that you will shed lustre upon it in gratitude to the blessings which it gives you.”

Patriotic Manhattan synagogue has celebrated Thanksgiving since 1789

A patriotic Upper West Side synagogue whose leaders fought with George Washington has been celebrating Thanksgiving since the first president proclaimed it a national holiday in 1789.

As a modern and secular holiday, Thanksgiving celebrations are rare in Jewish houses of worship — but that is not the case at Shearith Israel, America’s first Jewish congregation.

On Thanksgiving day, the temple will feature a special holiday-themed liturgy, followed by an address by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and readings from a Torah adorned with Liberty Bells. An English prayer wishing good health and fortune on the president, vice president, governor, and other elected officials has been recited for two centuries. There’s no turkey at the morning gathering, but ample hot chocolate for parade watchers.

The congregation was organized in 1654 by Sephardic Jews fleeing the inquisition in Portuguese-ruled Brazil, and the members of the synagogue at 2 West 70th St. take pride in being not just the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States but eyewitnesses to American history.

“We were around when it was a Dutch colony, and the establishment of the United States of America, and the very first Thanksgiving,” Barbara Reiss, executive director of the synagogue, told The Post. “We felt it was important enough to incorporate that into our service and our prayers from the get go as a day of thanks as American Jews.”

The roots of the Thanksgiving celebration stem from Gershom Mendes Seixas, the temple’s hazzan and first American-born leader of the congregation. He was a devoted patriot of the American Revolution.

Eli Kay memorial agricultural event to be held in Negev over Hanukkah

Thousands of youth will take part in a two-day agricultural event in the Negev during Hanukkah in memory of Eli Kay, the 26-year-old murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday.

The event, named “Lighting Up the Land” was organized by the Shomer Hachadash (New Guardian) organization, which Kay volunteered for prior to his military service. Now in its second year, the event brings together thousands of youth for two days of agricultural work in four different southern towns: Revivim, Retamim, Sde Boker and Maslul.

“During his journey through life, Eli loved the country and did all he could in order to give to others whenever needed,” said Shomer Hachadash CEO and founder Yoel Zilberman. “We are approaching the beginning of Hanukkah, which symbolizes above all else the victory of light over darkness. This is now our chance to spread Eli’s light all over the country and continue his never-ending activism,” he said.

Thousands of shirts with Kay’s image on them were produced for the event, and a memorial ceremony and study circles will be held in his memory. “it was clear to us that our yearly volunteering event would be held in his memory,” Zilberman said. “It will be emotional to see families coming from all over the country to join in the different events and commemorate his life. That is the least we can do in order to continue his legacy.”

Kay was shot to death and four others were injured by a Hamas preacher and teacher near the Temple Mount on Sunday.

Kay was the grandson of Rabbi Shlomo Levin, the rabbi of South Hampstead United Synagogue in London, and the son of Avi and Devorah Kay. He moved to Israel from Johannesburg on his own in 2016 to study at the Chabad yeshiva in Kiryat Gat. A year later, he volunteered to serve in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade in the framework of Machal, the government’s program for overseas volunteers.

From Jerusalem to Harlem: What intersectionality?

The black community will protest police and vigilante-like killings of African-Americans; the ongoing violence within black neighborhoods; criminal trials that resemble kangaroo courts; and over such issues as voter suppression, schools and housing.

Rioting over metal-detectors, though, has not emerged in the Black community’s struggle for social justice.

Yet in 2017, 5,400 miles to the east, Israel proposed installing metal detectors outside the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem to prevent bloodshed, and that move set off violence leaving several people dead, The New York Times reported. Israel dropped the plan, but a fatal shooting in Jerusalem last Sunday prompted Israeli minister Yoaz Hendel to revive the concept.

Sunday’s tragedy offers an opportunity to test the trending theory of intersectionality that claims Palestinian Arabs in Israel and racial minorities in America suffer similar if not identical persecution and oppression. When news broke Sunday that a Palestinian Arab man murdered 26-year-old Eliyahu Kay and wounded four other Israelis near the Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, I searched for comparisons of concerns between Palestinian Arabs in Israel and racial minorities in the United States.

There were none.

Instead, Palestinians veered in different directions from that of racial minorities in America. In the example above, metal detectors have been installed in airports, schools and courthouses throughout the United States without triggering violent outbursts. Metal detectors annoy us all, but all of us understand that detectors are needed to provide security.

Of course, it is those plotting shooting sprees who would most likely object to the detectors – like Fadi Abu Shkhaydem, a 42-teacher from the eastern section of Jerusalem who fired an automatic gun near the Aqsa compound shortly after 9 a.m. in an alley outside the site, according to the Times. Kay, a tour guide at the Western Wall, was killed by a shot to the head, a second civilian was moderately wounded and two police officers and a third civilian were lightly wounded; the compound is known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Anti-Israel Activists Demonize Victim of Jerusalem Terror Attack and Claim Violence Was Justified

In the aftermath of the deadly Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem on November 21, which tragically took the life of 26-year-old Eli Kay and left four others others wounded (two civilians and two police officers), a number of groups and individuals affiliated with the anti-Israel movement intimated this blatant act of terrorism was justified or engaged in rhetoric that disparaged the victim.

A common theme throughout was the instrumentalization of the allegation that Israel is a settler colonial state, and, by extension, Kay a colonizer who had illegally invaded Palestinian lands. This, many strongly intimated, justified this indiscriminate attack on civilians. Still others asserted that the attack, and others targeting Israeli civilians, are simply the “price” Israelis must pay for their alleged actions.

Others demeaned Kay, who had recently immigrated from South Africa to Israel, including by calling him an “Afrikaner,” a reference to South Africans who descend from 17th century Dutch colonists. Several referred erroneously to Kay as a settler, dangerously implying that settlers are more legitimate targets for brazen acts of violence than other Israelis. In a few cases, Kay was labelled a soldier, alarmingly indicating the activists view fatal violence against the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) as legitimate. In fact, Kay was a civilian tour guide no longer serving in active duty in the Israel Defence Forces, and his current place of residence was Modiin, a city in central Israel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The following social media posts either strongly intimate the attack was justified or make explicit attempts at justification: anti Israel Activists

– Activist group Decolonize this Place inaccurately labelled Kay a soldier and commented: “Palestinians like all oppressed peoples around the world have the right to resist their colonizer and to self-defense.”

– Anti-Zionist Palestinian activist and poet Remi Kanazi: “As long as Palestinian oppression continues, Israelis cannot logically expect their own ‘calm’ to remain perpetually intact. The violence of settler colonialism always comes at a price.”

– Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Houston-Clear Lake venerated the Hamas gunman with an image of individuals aiming guns into the distance. Accompanying text labels Israel “the colonizer.”

Cabinet Office anti-racism trainer wished death and mutilation on ‘Zionists’

An anti-racism trainer who ran an inclusivity workshop for civil servants at the Cabinet Office wished death and mutilation on “Zionists”, the JC can reveal.

Mizanur Rahman, known as Mizan the Poet, oversaw a training session at the Cabinet Office in 2019 called “an inclusive Britain”, despite having shared pictures that likened Zionists to Nazis and written: “Israel = white supremacy.”

In 2014, Mr Rahman responded to a tweet about an Israeli soldier who had lost his hands in an attack by Hamas with the tweet: “Hopefully he, and all IDF soldiers and Zionists, will lose more than just their limbs … their lives!!!!”

Another post by Mr Rahman from April 2014 said: “#Israel has no right to exist. Israel was founded on terrorism, ethnic cleansing and practises antisemitism as #palestinians are #semitic.”

He also led an event at the Ministry of Defence in 2019, in which he spoke out against “British Israelis joining the #Israel Defence forces and committing human rights abuses in #Palestine”. After the Cabinet Office workshop, Mr Rahman tweeted:
“I spoke about institutional racism / Islamophobia, the role of the media, Prevent, detention centres and other ways that racism manifests in society.”

He claimed that the feedback was good, adding that he hoped to do more.

Mr Rahman this month lodged a complaint after Labour banned him from its list of potential council candidates. He claimed the decision was based on “institutional islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism”.

Fighting for Jewish Students at Hunter College

When a discriminatory incident occurs on a college campus, it should be met with swift and unequivocal condemnation by the school’s leadership. Targeting and mistreating students based on an aspect of their identity — race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc. — is never acceptable. When members of a campus community experience identity-based attacks, it is imperative that administrators make it a top priority to unambiguously — and publicly — communicate this message.

That can happen in the form of a public statement in which the administration uses its own voice to acknowledge the incident and condemn the bigotry that’s occurred. It can take the form of an administrative-led investigation into the incident, in which administrators afford the targeted student(s) the opportunity to be heard, and then impose appropriate sanctions for any violations that may be discovered.

Administrators can also take the initiative to offer training and education to relevant stakeholders — faculty, staff, and students — about various types of discrimination, the ways they can manifest, and the campus resources available to anyone affected by them. Ideally, university administrations would undertake some combination of these efforts in the wake of a discriminatory incident affecting their students.

Too often, however, when an antisemitic incident occurs on campus, none of these things happens.

A general, “boilerplate” statement condemning antisemitism might be issued (and even this, sadly, is not a given), but an administration’s general statement that fails to acknowledge and condemn antisemitism that has occurred on its campus leaves students, as well as the broader community, with the sense that the issue is not an administrative priority.

Canary Mission: University Diversity Senator Calls to Kill All Zionists

Meet Yasmeen Mashayekh, the student senator in charge of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at USC Viterbi School of Engineering. According to the Student Association, “DEI Senators are student leaders who are committed to helping address social issues on campus, want to promote greater inclusivity within our Viterbi community, and are vocal advocates against racism and discrimination.”

Yasmeen Mashayekh openly supports Hamas, celebrates violence against Israelis, spread hatred of Jews and calls to kill Zionists. Do you think she’s fit for the DEI position?

No Room For Palestinian Terror in AP’s “Contextualized Truth”

Goldenberg apparently does not regard Hamas’s immense and concerted efforts to turn the clock backward to the horrendous days of relentless mass-casualty bombings in the Second Intifada as at all relevant to the present reality in which, as she puts it, “the occupation grinds on.”

(Goldenberg euphemistically refers to the bloody Second Intifada, in which Palestinian terrorists killed more than 1000 Israelis in bombings, shootings, and stabbing attacks as “the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising later that year.”)

On Monday, when news about the large-scale arrest of scores of Hamas members in advanced stages of planning massive deadly attacks emerged, AP subsumed it under a story which the wire service deemed much bigger news: two Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike struck a deal with Israel (“Two Palestinians end hunger strike after deal with Israel“).

Also relevant to “the country’s decades-long occupation churning on” is the fact that Palestinians have rejected multiple statehood offers intended to bring an end to the occupation, as CAMERA’s Sean Durns details. But Goldenberg makes no mention of the Palestinians’ repeated spurning of Israeli offers for statehood. Along with Palestinian terrorism, Palestinian rejectionism does not fit with the “contextualized truth” of singular Israeli wrongdoing.

Flagrantly violating AP’s promise to “expand the reach of factual reporting,” Goldenberg discards facts inconsistent with her predetermined narrative.

Metro apologises after CAA and others call out the newspaper for printing letter telling readers that racism against Jews matters less if it comes from a member of another minority

The Metro has apologised today after Campaign Against Antisemitism and others called out the newspaper for printing a letter yesterday telling readers that racism against Jews matters less if it comes from a member of another minority.

The letter, from “Vytautus” in Sheffield, claimed that “Racism is [exclusively] an attempt by a ‘privileged’ majority to undermine the destiny of a minority individual or group – it can only be applied by the privileged. What we term ‘racism’ by minorities is not racism but ‘prejudice’, as the minority cannot affect the destiny of the privileged majority.”

The letter went on to describe the cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s past antisemitic comments as “prejudicial” but insisted that they were not “racist”, because Mr Rafiq is from a minority community.

As to whether Mr Rafiq’s comments could not be racist also because they targeted Jews, the letter was ambiguous.

Campaign Against Antisemitism and others called out the newspaper for printing a “dangerously irresponsible” letter.

Metro’s editor, Ted Young, tweeted in response to complaints: “The MetroTalk page is carefully edited with all sorts of views coming in from around the country Nicole. Our readers always challenge views that are clearly wrong in the cut and thrust of debate. But In hindsight this should not have made the page. Apologies.”

Mr Young promised an apology in today’s edition, which was duly printed: “Yesterday, we published a letter that argued remarks about Jewish people from cricketer Azeem Rafiq did not amount to racism. The MetroTalk page is carefully edited with all sorts of views coming in from around the country. Our readers always challenge views that are clearly wrong in the cut and thrust of debate. But in hindsight the letter should not have made the page. Apologies.”

‘Eruption’ of Antisemitism in Germany During Israel-Hamas Conflict Shows Need for Authorities to Boost Protection Efforts, Says New Report

The more than 200 antisemitic outrages that occurred in Germany during the two-week conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist Hamas organization last May have “nothing to do with legitimate criticism of Israel” and were fueled by a “new antisemitism,” the head of Germany’s Jewish community said this week.

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, was speaking following the publication on Wednesday of a detailed report into the explosion of antisemitism in Berlin and around the country in tandem with the war.

The joint report by RIAS, a federal association monitoring antisemitism, and IIBSA, a research institute focused on antisemitism, provided a comprehensive picture of what the newspaper Taggespiegel called “the eruption of antisemitic hatred that shook the republic.”

“Enemies of Jews from right to left, of German and non-German origin, used the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas in May for incitement on a rarely seen scale,” the newspaper observed.

The RIAS/IIBSA report documented 22 instances of damage to property, ten violent assaults and more than 200 episodes of antisemitic verbal abuse and harassment during the reporting period.

The report disclosed that 76 of these incidents had occurred alongside pro-Palestinian demonstrations and rallies. According to the report, a total of 121 demonstrations in support of the Palestinians took place in Germany between May 9-24.

An accompanying RIAS/IIBSA report focusing on Berlin specifically documented 12 events in the capital where participants denied Israel’s right to exist, compared Israeli policies with the Nazi Holocaust and called for violence against Jews.

K-pop group’s use of Nazi symbol in photoshoot sparks backlash

K-pop group PURPLE KISS sparked controversy when a picture circulated online of one of the members of the all-female group wearing a Nazi symbol.

The image in question was shared by the group’s label, RBW, as part of their 2022 Season’s Greeting package.

The member in question, Goeun, was seen dressed in what was meant to resemble stereotypical fighter pilot attire. She wore a green top with US Air Force written above the shirt pocket. Underneath, however, was the Pateiadler, a stylized wing-spread eagle with the head facing left and a swastika clutched in its talons.

This sparked backlash on social media against PURPLE KISS and RBW for their perceived insensitivity.

Following this controversy, the pictures were taken down and edited to include a generic eagle in place of the Pateiadler.

“We sincerely apologize for raising concerns by not doing a thorough inspection of all the outfits and accessories worn by the artist during the 2022 Season’s Greetings photoshoot beforehand,” RBW said in a statement on the group’s official fan cafe website.

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel

A Jewish cemetery in Belgrade, Serbia was vandalized Wednesday night, when an axe, hammer and stones were thrown through the window of its chapel.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Belgrade told The Algemeiner that the incident had caused serious material damage, noting that if the chapel had been occupied, it could have resulted in “severe physical injuries or even death.”

The spokesperson said that “this act reminds us of Kristallnacht,” the Nazi-led riots against the German Jewish community in 1938.

On Thursday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote to Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a full investigation.

“It is clear that whoever was responsible has no respect for the dead, never mind the living,” Margolin said in a statement. “We extend our support to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, who must be reeling at this attack, and feeling vulnerable.”

“I have written to Serbian minister of Internal Affairs asking for a robust response to the attack, as well as a full throated condemnation, lest the antisemites that carried out this act believe that it is now open season on Jewish buildings in Serbia.”

Study finds Israeli TV shows improve country’s standing around the world

Israeli TV shows bolster ties between Jews in the Diaspora to Israel, bolster general Jewish solidarity, and even improve Israel’s image among Jews and non-Jews, according to research by the Jewish People Policy Institute.

The study’s findings were recently presented to senior government officials and leading industry figures, who convened to discuss the soft power of Israeli TV series.

For Jews, an Israeli TV series offers an experience similar to that of a journey of discovery of Israel, the study found.

American Jews for whom Israel is a priority want to maintain their connection to Israel on an everyday basis. These TV shows provide a cheap, enjoyable, and relatively simple way to maintain their connection to Israel and the Israeli aspect of their Jewish identity.

The study further found a clear connection between watching an Israeli TV series to reinforcing Israel ties: The stronger the initial bond to Israel, the more the series bolstered that connection.

In addition, Israeli TV series were found to have a positive influence on Jews who did not have a significant connection to Israel. Jews who were unfamiliar with Israel and watched Israeli TV shows were shown to have particularly bolstered their Jewish identity and their opinion of Israel.

Einstein notes with sketches of relativity theory sold in Paris auction

A manuscript co-authored by Albert Einstein, offering a rare insight into the legendary physicist’s thinking leading up to his general theory of relativity, was sold in an auction on Tuesday for 11.7 million euros ($13.17 million).

Auction house Christie’s had estimated the value of the manuscript at between 2 million and 3 million euros.

The 54 pages of paper, around half-filled with Einstein’s handwriting, are one of only two working documents known in which the thinker approaches his famous theory that laid the groundwork for modern cosmology and technology such as GPS navigation.

They had been kept in the custody of the Swiss physicist Michele Besso, a close friend and academic partner of Einstein’s, who co-authored the work between 1913 and 1914.

“That’s also what makes it particularly important given that working documents by Einstein before 1919 are extremely rare,” said Vincent Belloy, an expert at Christie’s who hosted the auction in Paris.

“Einstein is someone who kept very few notes, so the mere fact that the manuscript survived and made its way to us already makes it absolutely extraordinary,” he added.

Cinematheque’s Jewish Film Fest brings range of movies for Hanukkah viewing

Films about Jewish thinkers, artists, activists and other creative types will fill the screens of the Jerusalem Cinematheque for the upcoming Jewish Film Festival, November 27 through December 2.

The six-day event includes films about the Holocaust, documentary portraits of well-known Jewish figures and Israeli films.

This year, Times of Israel readers receive a 20% discount to all films and events with the following code: jjff21.

Many of the films deal with the subject of creating art during wartime, said Daniella Tourgeman, the festival’s artistic director.

“There’s this overarching concept of working passionately on a work of art, theater, literature or music during the most trying times,” said Tourgeman.

She pointed to the opening movie, “The Royal Game” from Nachshon Films, an adaptation of the novel “Chess Novella” about an Austrian attorney who is caught by the Gestapo and placed under arrest in a hotel, and how playing chess subverts his trauma.

Another example is “Charlotte,” an animated film about Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, considered the major female Jewish painter of the 20th century, who created much of her work while hiding from the Nazis.

Jewish A Cappella Group Drops ‘West Side Story’ Hanukkah Parody

The professional Jewish a cappella group Six13 released their annual Hanukkah parody song on Tuesday, inspired this year by Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film reboot of “West Side Story.”

The music video opens with a panorama of New York City, while the George Washington Bridge and nearby buildings appear as a menorah with all nine candles lit. The musical medley then goes on to feature puns on some of the biggest hits from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “West Side Story,” which debuted as a Broadway musical in 1957. The group changed the classic “Maria” to “Menorah,” and recreated “Tonight” as “Eight Nights.”

In a song based on the “West Side Story” track “America,” Six13 sings, “Chocolate money on Hanukkah/Latkes are crunchy on Hanukkah/Presents from Bubbe on Hanukkah/I want a puppy for Hanukkah!”

Six13 group member Michael Boxer told The Algemeiner, “our greatest goal is to spread the joy and pride that we derive from Judaism to as much of the worldwide Jewish community as possible. And to get that kind of traction, it’s absolutely crucial to be relevant.”

“Whenever we’re deciding on what song or theme to base our yearly Hanukkah video on, while there’s definitely an allure to material that’s musically gratifying and challenging, we’re often first and foremost looking to latch on to what’s hot in mainstream pop culture,” he explained.

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