Culture and Jewish Life: Latest news from Israel, the world Jewish and Culture and Life Jewish

Jewish heroes

Book on Jewish heroes inspires

By Sammy Kempner and Jonny Singer | Haaretz : As Yossi Katz tells Michael Levin's story, the room fills with a collective sense of awe and inspiration.

It is this, in a nutshell, which Katz has set out to achieve in his new book, 'A Voice Called: Stories of Jewish Heroism', launched last month.

Katz, a former National Boxing Champion, long-time Jewish educator, and - like Levin - a native of Philadelphia, has created a book which seeks to rejuvenate the ideals which he sees as vital to the youth of today.

The book itself is a collection of 32 chapters on 32 Jewish heroes, ranging from Herzl to two former students of the author. It is 'the realization of a lifelong dream', both for the author and for the publisher, Ilan Greenfield.

Greenfield and Katz share the view that today's youth both in Israel and across the Western world are looking to the wrong type of role model ('the national hero is no longer Queen Esther, but rather Daisy Duke').

Full Story

Abraham Sutzkever

Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever, 96, dies in Israel

:: By Yahoo News :: JERUSALEM Abraham Sutzkever, a Yiddish poet and partisan fighter during World War II, has died in Tel Aviv. He was 96, his daughter Mira said.

Sutzkever began writing in Vilna, Lithuania, in the early 1930s.

After the Nazi invasion, he was interned in the town's ghetto. In 1943, he escaped to the forests with his wife and fought against the Nazis as a partisan. During this time, he wrote over 80 poems, publishing them after the war.

After the war, he was a witness at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

In 1947, he moved to Israel, resuming his literary career, and founding and editing a prominent Yiddish literary journal, Di Goldene Keyt.

Sutzkever died Jan. 20 and was buried in Tel Aviv. He is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.

Full Story


Study: Holocaust survivors battle depression

:: By Yahoo News :: JERUSALEM A majority of Israel's Holocaust survivors suffer from depression, sleeping disorders or other emotional distress, according to a survey released Tuesday by a leading advocacy group.

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel issued its report on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in the waning days of World War II.

The survey found that two-thirds of Israel's 220,000 survivors experience some form of distress. The study, conducted by the Center for Research on Aging of the Israeli Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, was based on comprehensive government data on all the survivors.

A smaller sample of 400 survivors who receive home care showed that half suffered from depression and 80 percent complained of sleep disorders.

About 6 million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Full Story

Israelis anti-Semitism

Israelis says anti-Semitism peaked in 2009

:: By Yahoo News :: JERUSALEM The findings of an Israeli report released Sunday says 2009 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents in western Europe since World War II.

The report by an Israel-led umbrella of organizations dedicated to the combat of anti-Semitism outlined hundreds of violent incidents in Britain, France and Holland.

It said the number of incidents in the first three months of 2009 in western Europe surpassed that of all of 2008. That followed Israel's invasion of Gaza, which evoked harsh reactions.

In France, for example, there were 631 anti-Jewish incidents in the first half of 2009, of which 113 were violent, according to the report. Worldwide, eight people were killed in attacks last year.

Full Story


Jewish communities mobilize following Haiti earthquake

:: By Haaretz Service and DPA :: The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) launched a campaign to collect donations following Tuesday's massive earthquake in Haiti, which registered a 7.0 on the Richter scale.

Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday after the powerful earthquake flattened the president's palace, the cathedral, hospitals, schools, the main prison and whole neighborhoods. Officials feared thousands - perhaps more than 100,000 - may have perished, but there was no firm count.

With a per capita income of $3.60 per day, Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, its population is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, such as this massive earthquake. Based on initial reports of widespread devastation and a high number of casualties, AJWS anticipates that the immediate and long-term needs will be profound and is coordinating with its in-country representatives to respond immediately.

Full Story

Anne Frank's

Israel pays tribute to Anne Frank's savior Miep Gies

:: By Haaretz Service and DPA :: President Shimon Peres on Tuesday sent the Dutch queen condolences following the death of Miep Gies, the woman who helped the family of Anne Frank during World War II and preserved her diary.

The Israel Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem also expressed its regret over Miep Gies' death in a statement saying "we were saddened to learn this morning that Righteous Among the Nations Miep gies has passed away."

Miep Gies, who died Monday night at the age of 100, was the last living person in the group who had helped hide Anne Frank's German Jewish family, who had sought refuge from the Nazis in Holland. They lived hidden in a back house in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944.

Hours after the Franks were betrayed and seized by the Nazis on August 4, 1944, Miep Gies crept back into the hiding place and collected Anne Frank's diary.

In the prologue to her book, Anne Frank Remembered, Miep Gies wrote that she was not special and not a hero.

Full Story

nazi leaders

Nazi resistance leader dies at 98

:: By DPA | Haaretz :: A member of the German resistance, whose husband was executed by the Nazis in 1945, has died at the age of 98 in her home in the U.S. state of Vermont, her family confirmed Sunday.

Freya von Moltke, widow of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, died Friday of a viral infection, her son, Helmuth Caspar von Moltke told the German Press Agency DPA.

She was born in 1911 to a prominent banking family and met her future husband when she was 18. They married in 1931 and together founded the Kreisauer Circle, which became a center of resistance against Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Helmuth von Moltke was executed for treason in January 1945.

Freya von Moltke went on to publicize and write about the work of the resistance during World War II.

In 1989 she received a literary prize from German booksellers that is named in honor of renowned resistance figures Hans and Sophie Scholl. The family's former estate has been turned into a center for German and Polish youth.

Full Story


Ultra-Orthodox Jews make rare visit to Gaza

:: Yahoo News :: GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A small group of ultra-Orthodox Jews were preparing Friday to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath in Gaza, in an unlikely show of support for Palestinians in the Hamas-run coastal territory.

Bearded and wearing black hats and coats, the four members of a tiny Jewish group vehemently opposed to Israel's existence were a rare sight in the poverty-stricken Palestinian territory.

Members of the Neturei Karta group have expressed support for the Iranian regime and for others who oppose the Jewish state, which they believe was established in violation of Jewish law. They made a similar visit to Gaza last year.

"It's crucial that the people of Gaza understand the terrible tragedy here is not in the name of Judaism," said one of the men, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of New York City, as the four prepared to observe the Sabbath at a Gaza City hotel.

Gaza is still recovering from Israel's devastating military offensive a year ago, which was aimed at halting rocket fire from the territory.

Full Story


The Immigration and Absorption Ministry

:: By MATTHEW WAGNER | JPOST :: The Immigration and Absorption Ministry launched an educational project Tuesday to teach Judaism and Zionism to new immigrants and their children.

In the first stage of the project the ministry will provide NIS 7 million, while private Jewish philanthropists, including the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund the project.

In later stages the budget for the project is expected to grow to tens of millions of dollars, according to a ministry official.

"There are today in Israel 1.3 million new immigrants, one million of whom are Jewish," a ministry press release said.

"According to Immigration and Absorption Ministry data, a large portion of this population still does not feel a sense of belonging and has not fully integrated into Israeli society. Immigrants' experience with a Jewish environment produces a sharp conflict between personal identity developed at home and Jewish-Israeli society and culture they confront today."

Full Story


Women risk arrest to pray

:: YNET :: Once a month a group of Jewish women risk arrest and brave a crowd of angry ultra-Orthodox men calling them Nazis, to pray at the Western Wall, the holiest place in Judaism.

In this Holy City, where the focus of differing opinions is more often on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, these religious Jews say they face discrimination just because of their gender.

Their adversaries, including the rabbi of the Wall, say the women have no business wearing such religious garments as yarmulkes and prayer shawls, or carrying the Torah, the Jewish holy book.

Such things, the ultra-Orthodox Jews say, are reserved for men. Worse yet, the women have also come under fire for singing, with some rabbis complaining this could provoke feelings of lust among the men praying on the other side of the partition.

On a recent Friday, about 200 members of the Women at the Wall (WoW) showed up to pray at the main Jewish pilgrimage site despite pouring rain and insults hurled from across the partition that separates the men's section from the far smaller one reserved for women.

Full Story