Du bow digest germany edition july 26, 2012
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An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

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Du bow digest germany edition july 26, 2012 Du bow digest germany edition july 26, 2012 Document Transcript

  • GERMANY EDITIONJuly 26, 2012Dear Friends:No one can tell me that there is no such thing as Global Warming. We are in themidst of a very hot summer here in New York after a winter wherein we had almostno snow. As one who hates the cold, I’m not complaining but it has been very hothere.Events affecting the Jewish world are also quite heated. The circumcision debate inGermany has created quite a stir even here. The ineffectiveness of the German BfVin dealing with terrorist neo-Nazis has caused unease among those who care aboutGermany (of which I am one)The terrorist attack in Bulgaria has raised the anxiety level of Jews, not only in Israel,but worldwide. If terrorist murder can happen in that part of the world why notelsewhere? There are strong indications that Iran and Hezbollah are behind it. Itseemed very well organized.The big worry as far as I am concerned has to do with Syria. The potential for war isthere. While the revolution in Syria has, thus far, been contained in that nation alone,the possibility of the use of chemical weapons runs the risk of expansion into Israel.Certainly the Israelis are not just going to stand by if those sorts of weapons fall intothe hands of radical groups or are utilized by the current government. The possibilityof spillover into Lebanon would pose another difficult problem. Of course, what ishappening to the refugees is awful but an expansion into a war with Israel would beinfinitely worse and there would be a lot more refugees.Before getting to the rest of the news, a personal note. Since there are quite a fewnew readers on my mailing list at present you all should know that, though I have along (45 years) connection the American Jewish Committee (AJC), my newsletter ismine alone. I write it myself and personally pay for its e-mailing. There is no formalAJC connection. If you’re slandered, sue me – not AJC. If you’re a glutton forpunishment and want to receive both just drop me a note atdubowdigest@optonline.net.In addition to the Germany Edition I also do an American Edition which is totallydifferent in that it mostly reports on things happening in Germany. Both are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.com for you to read.O.K., let’s get on with the news… 1
  • IN THIS EDITIONGEORGE WASHINGTON & THE JEWS – An important piece of history for Jewsand all Americans.CIRCUMCISION – A German court makes a religious matter into a legal one.HUNGARY – If you thought Nazism was dead, you haven’t been reading about orvisiting Hungary lately.UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – When it comes to Israel it doesn’t seem to havemany human qualities.BDS – It’s not a physical disease or an inefficient government organization.However, it’s causing a lot of trouble.WORLD REFUGEE DAY – Only for some refugees.BLACK JEWS – A minority within a minority.GEORGE WASHINGTON & THE JEWSSince July is the month in which we celebrate our “National Day” (July 4th) I think itappropriate to include a piece about the first letter that the first President of theUnited States, George Washington, addressed to American Jews.According to The Times of Israel, “The 1790 letter written by President GeorgeWashington to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, is ,,,on displayat Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History.Regarded as Washington’s most eloquent statement on religious liberty, the letterhas America’s first president pledge to uphold the Constitution’s offer of “invaluablerights of free citizens.” It also affirmed rights and privileges generally unknown toJews elsewhere at the time.The famous Washington letter was sent to Congregation Kahal Kadosh YeshuatIsrael, better known as the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island after thewarden of the congregation [Moses Seixas] had sent a letter to the new Presidentwhen he visited Newport. According to Jewish Virtual Library “Washington’s visit toNewport was largely ceremonial—part of a goodwill tour Washington was making onbehalf of the new national government created by the adoption of the Constitution in1787. Newport had historically been a good home to its Jewish residents, whonumbered approximately 300 at the time of Washington’s visit. The NewportChristian community’s acceptance of Jewish worship was exemplary, although 2
  • individual Jews such as Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizer were unable to obtain fullpolitical equality as citizens of Rhode Island. The Jews of Newport looked to the newnational government, and particularly to the enlightened president of the UnitedStates, to remove the last of the barriers to religious liberty and civil equalityconfrontingNot surprisingly, it is Washington’s response, rather than Seixas’s epistle, which isbest remembered and most frequently reprinted. Washington began by thanking thecongregation for its good wishes and rejoicing that the days of hardship caused bythe war were replaced by days of prosperity. Washington then borrowed ideas – andactual words – directly from Seixas’s letter:“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves forgiving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy ofimitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It isnow no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one classof people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. Forhappily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, topersecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection,should demean themselves as good citizens.”Washington’s concluding paragraph perfectly expresses the ideal relationshipamong the government, its individual citizens and religious groups:“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to meritand enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under hisown vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”Washington closed with an invocation: “May the father of all mercies scatter lightand not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here,and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”The letter, a foundation stone of American religious liberty and the principle ofseparation between church and state, is signed, simply, “G. Washington.” Eachyear, Newport’s Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, now known as theTouro Synagogue, re-reads Washington’s letter in a public ceremony. The wordsdeserve repetition.It goes without saying that such a letter has enormous importance far beyond theJewish community. It was and remains today one of the touchstones of Americanreligious liberty, Sometimes Americans forget about such things. It’s a good thingwe’ve got the words of the father of the country around to remind us.CIRCUMCISION 3
  • I probably do not have to tell you that the practice of circumcision has come underattack in Germany from a District Court in Cologne. The court ruled that it is a bodilyharm and therefore a crime. It has caused an international protest from both Jewishand Muslim groups.Aside from the legality of the practice in Germany which will either be decided in thecourts or the Bundestag by new legislation, there are political, religious and ethnicconsiderations that come into play by virtue of the court decision.Rather than trying to argue the legality of the court’s ruling here, I think, perhaps, itwould be better for me to point out why male circumcision of newborns in Jewishfamilies is such an essential matter. According to The Local.de, “The Los-Angeles-based Jewish group [Wiesenthal Centre] called on German lawmakers to providelegal safety for the practice, saying it would be "a stain on todays Germany" to letthe court ruling stand.Criminalizing circumcision was “an attack on one of the fundamental principles ofJudaism," wrote Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean andassociate dean of the Centre in a letter to Merkel."For 3,500 years, every male child has entered the Jewish people through the rite ofcircumcision. We are not talking about a mere custom, but a biblical principle thathas defined the Jewish people from time immemorial."Wikipedia reports, “For Jews, circumcision is mandatory, as it is prescribed in theTorah: • In the Book of Genesis as a mark of the Covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham: "Throughout all generations, every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old...This shall be my covenant in your flesh, an eternal covenant. The uncircumcised male whose foreskin has not been circumcised, shall have his soul cut off from his people; he has broken my Covenant" and • In Leviticus: "God spoke to Moses, telling him to speak to the Israelites: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy ... on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.In Hebrew the event is call a B’rit Milah, “covenant of circumcision”. It is usuallyaccompanied by a celebration as another male child is welcomed as a member ofthe Jewish people. For more explanation click here.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brit_milahFrom a public relations point of view I cannot fathom an incident such as the court’sdecision that would raise more anger and negative publicity for Germany –especially Germany! 4
  • The Local.de further reported, “They [Wiesenthal Centre] noted that Nazi dictatorAdolf Hitler said "in one of his infamous anti-Semitic rants" that "conscience is aJewish invention, it is a blemish like circumcision.""Since the defeat of Nazism, Germany has come a long way, and worked very hardto successfully chart a new course after the horrific legacy of the Holocaust byguaranteeing religious freedom and democracy," they wrote.As many of us hoped all along, the Bundestag stepped in and took some action. Infact, the American Jewish Committee in a press release noted, “AJC applaudedGerman parliamentarians for reinforcing the legality of circumcision. Germany’slower house of parliament, meeting in emergency session during the parliament’ssummer break, passed a resolution that will overturn a court decision banning theprocedure.“The age-old tradition of male circumcision is an integral part of Judaism and Islam said Deidre Berger, Director of AJC Berlin. “The swift action by Germanparliamentarians reinforcing the right to circumcision underscores the importanceGerman leaders accord to vibrant Jewish and Muslim minorities in Germany.”Chancellor Angela Merkel told party members that Germany would become a“laughing stock” if a way was not found to protect the rights to circumcision.In the parliamentary resolution supported by the governing Christian Democratic andFree Democratic Parties, as well as the opposition Social Democrats, Germanparliamentarians demanded that the government present draft legislation in the fallto guarantee the right to male circumcision.So, we now wait until the fall when the Bundestag will be back in session. I imaginethat some perfectly acceptable legislation will be passed, the matter legally takencare of and male circumcision handed back to the religious authorities where itbelongs.HUNGARYGermany is not Hungary (Thank God!) because what’s brewing in the latter is ugly inits openly anti-Semitic politics. While I normally keep this newsletter focused onGermany, Israel and America Jews Hungary presents such a disturbing picture –and because it is in Europe, I thought I should, at least, devote one article to thesubject.Israel Hayom reports, “It begins with the routine comments regarding “rich, smellyJews,” proceeds onto the vandalism of Jewish symbols, veers into publicdiscussions over “which kind of rope is best suited for hanging Jews,” and warningsover “Jewish control of the homeland.” It has even escalated to the point where the 5
  • chief rabbi was assaulted in the middle of a crowded street. Anti-Semitism inHungary is erupting. The far-right Jobbik party is gaining strength and holding rallies.The Jewish community is apprehensive and the communities in neighboringcountries are fearful that the ugly wave will spread. “The anti-Semites always blameJudaism for Hungary’s troubles,” said a local journalist, who warned that the hatredwill soon turn into hatred on the ground. In the 21st century, Jews in central Europeare afraid, just like it was then.One strange, yet terrifying, aspect of current anti-Semitism in Hungary is that it islargely theoretical. It exists almost entirely without any direct contact between theanti-Semite and the Jew. The Jews of Hungary pose a challenge for the anti-Semites because they are a somewhat transparent community. Nobody knows theexact number of Jews there. Estimates range from 50,000 to 150,000, depending onwhether one asks an Orthodox rabbi or a grandfather who still has a numbertattooed on his arm from Auschwitz.A century ago, many Hungarian Jews changed their surnames to Hungarian namesas a show of patriotism. There are few Rabinowitzes, Greenbergs, or Berkowitzesthere. The names of Jews in Hungary are very much similar to the names ofgentiles.European anti-Semitism doesnt need actual Jews in order to exist. Their violence isaimed at symbols. It is a psychological state.Nonetheless, words are hurtful for a community that has existed for over 1,000years. It is a community that views itself as an inseparable part of Hungary.Ironically, “most Jobbik voters wouldnt even recognize a Jew,” Renyi says. “Thesevoters most likely have never met a Jew, at least not one that they knew was a Jew.Their hatred is more abstract, and it’s aimed at concepts like ‘Jew,’ ‘Zionist,’‘America’ and ‘Europe.’ The Jews are one of three or four main targets, alongsidethe European Union, the Roma and the homosexuals. But there is not one specificJew that Jobbik voters single out.”There is more to the story and you should read it. Click here.http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=4969The problem is, of course, that this sort of anti-Semitism can, first, begin to play itselfout in Hungarian internal and external policy and, second, that it, like a virus (whichanti-Semitism is), can spread to other countries. Unhappily, in Europe anti-Semitismnever seems to go away. Given difficult political and/or economic times it emerges.Of course, it is a genuine danger for Jews in particular; however, it is alsodevastating to democracy and, therefore, a danger for all. 6
  • UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCILTH UNHRC is at it again. Over the years it has singled out Israel as a violator ofhuman rights and has many committees and commissions “investigating” all the“crimes” and assorted other bad things Israel has done vis a vis the Palestinians. Nodoubt that since 1967 when it was captured, the “West Bank” has seen human rightsviolations and poor treatment of Palestinians. However, in both the West Bank andin Gaza the treatment of Palestinians by other Palestinians is not a small problem.Hamas people and Fatah followers are not in love with each other. The violationsare worse than those perpetrated by the Israelis. They are killing each other.While there are really horrible human rights violations in both other places in theMiddle East and Africa, the UNHRC seems fixated on Israel. Of course, the anti-Israel group which is very strong in the Council determines the agenda. Therefore,another investigation is planned.However, this time the Israelis are not at all willing to cooperate. JTA reports, “Israelwill not cooperate with a United Nations fact-finding mission on the West Banksettlements, the foreign ministry announced.The United Nations Human Rights Council on June 6 appointed three independentexperts to conduct a fact-finding mission on how Israels West Bank settlementsaffect Palestinians."The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling outof Israel in the UNHRC and of the uncandid approach that characterizes theCouncils dealing with Israel," the foreign ministry said in a statement."This fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel, and its members will notbe allowed to enter Israel and the Territories. Its existence embodies the inherentdistortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of theimportant human rights agenda by non-democratic countries. The latter, unbotheredby and dismissive of human rights, are taking advantage of their political andnumerical weight in order to distort systematically the proceedings and rules of theUNHRC and to empty its workings of all moral content," the statement continues.Israel suspended its ties with the Human Rights Council in March after it voted toestablish the settlements fact-finding mission.One might ask why Israel is so opposed to the actions and findings of the UNHRC?If you were playing in a card game with a “loaded” deck wherein your opponentswere assured of defeating your every move, wouldn’t you be somewhat reluctant toeven be involved in the game? That’s the situation for Israel and the UNHRC.The name “Human Rights Council” a misnomer because among its members aresuch violators of human rights as China, Cuba, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and 7
  • Qatar. There seems to be only one organization that closely monitors the Counciland that is UN Watch. For purposes of transparency it is underwritten by AJC.Its director, Hillel Neuer fights a lonely battle in Geneva trying to shed some sunlighton the totally anti-Israel stance of the Council. In a July 2, 2012 press release UNWatch noted, “Despite continued killings of civilians in Syria, today the U.N.’s tophuman rights body devoted its entire proceedings to its ritual Hate Israel Day. A dayagainst Israel is a permanent feature of every council meeting, under its onlycountry-specific agenda item, entitled “the Human rights situation in Palestine andother occupied Arab territories.”The meeting opened with Richard Falk, the pro-Hamas 9/11 conspiracist whoserves as the human rights council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of humanrights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” His report was followed bydetailed status updates on the 2009 Goldstone Report, the 2010 Flotilla Report, andthe developing council inquiry and report into settlements.Twenty states and six non-governmental organizations took the floor this morning.UN Watch was the only one to challenge Mr. Falk.”I will not reprint Neuer’s summary which you can read by clicking herehttp://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/07/03/hate-israel-day-at-the-u-n/#more-2470. Norwill I go into Richard Falk’s background. Suffice it to say he is a noted 82 year oldPrinceton professor with many academic credits. However, when it comes to Israelto say he is “anti-Israel” would be an understatement. If you wish you can Googlehim.The point of all of this is to point out that when it comes to the UNHRC there is noway Israel can get a fair shake. The anti-Israel politics of the Middle East and theThird World just do not allow it. I wish it was otherwise.BDSWhat is BDS? When I first heard the term I thought it might be some sort of a socialdisease. Now that I know what it is, I’m convinced it’s some sort of politico-socialdisease – but a disease none the less.BDS stands for, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions but against whom? You guessedit. Of course, it’s Israel. Where did it start and who’s behind it? According toWikipedia, “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a campaign started on 9July 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations in support of thePalestinian cause for boycott, divestment and international sanctions against Israel.In January 2005 the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights AdvocacyInitiative (OPGAI) presented a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) 8
  • against Israel to the 5th World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil (26 January and31 January). The launch of the campaign coincided with the first anniversary of theInternational Court of Justice ruling on the Israeli West Bank barrier.While the component organizations that make up the “movement” all have seem tohave economic goals, there is little doubt that their real intent is so to delegitimateIsrael as a country. It’s not a secret that in the Arab world there are many (many!)who feel Israel is an interloper on Arab land and, therefore, not a legitimate nation.The Wikipedia article (which you can read by clicking here)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott,_Divestment_and_Sanctions lists many supporters ofBDS and spells out the criticism. For instance, it notes, “A number of analysts,journalists, and policy groups have argued that the BDS movement promotes thedelegitimization of Israel. In The Jerusalem Post, Gil Troy argues that the BDSmovement does not target Israels polices, but rather targets Israels legitimacy.[69]Similarly, the Reut Institute argued that by what they perceive as singling out Israeland applying double standards, the BDS movement delegitimizes Israel. Thesegroups and individuals argue that regardless of whether or not the participants inboycotts seek to threaten Israels legitimacy, the movement itself and the organizersbehind it have the same goal: isolate Israel like South Africa. Although BDS hastried to finesse the question of whether the movement is seeking a one-statesolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many of its leaders have gone on therecord as seeking the anathema-to-Israelis "secular bi-national Palestine", includingOmar Barghouti.”BDS has had a few victories but some defeats as well. Just recently, as reported inCommentary by Jonathan S. Tobin, “By the narrowest of margins, the GeneralAssembly of the Presbyterian Church USA defeated a resolution calling fordivestment from companies that do business with Israel’s security forces. The 333-331 vote was the closest the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divest and sanction)movement has come to getting a major American Christian denomination to endorsesuch a measure. The close vote is a victory of sorts for the Jewish groups, such asthe Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) that lobbied hard to defeat the motion.But the narrow margin is a virtual guarantee that divestment advocates will be backnext year with expectations of victory at the Presbyterian conclave as well as atother gatherings of mainline Protestant groups.Though there is little support for Israel divestment among the rank and file membersof Presbyterian congregations, there is no denying the growing appeal amongchurch activists for BDS proposals. The defeat of BDS this week may show that anarrow majority of Presbyterian delegates still understands that a vote for such aresolution involves the church in what amounts to an economic war against theJewish state and a potential break in relations with American Jews. But the closecall may indicate that support for anti-Zionism among liberal Protestant groups such 9
  • as the Presbyterians is on the rise and it may only be a matter of time before theyprevail.I think it goes without saying that the Arab – Israeli conflict is not coming to an endanytime soon. It’s not a conventional dispute. There is nothing more basic thanlegitimacy – who deserves to live and where, especially in the Middle East. This isabout as basic as questions get. Sadly, throughout history Jews have had to facethose who questioned their peoplehood, nationhood and even their individual right toexist. Germany in the 20th Century is, of course, the prime example.I have said before that the best we can hope for presently is a situation of “no war”. Istill think that’s possible, however, I’m convinced that a signed piece of paper will notend the dispute. Jews will not give up easily this time when their legitimacy isquestioned. Make sure your seatbelt is on. It’s going to be a long tough ride.WORLD REFUGEE DAYOn June 20th each year the UN Human Rights Council marks World Refugee Day toraise awareness of the plight of the estimated 42 million displaced people worldwide.I think we should all be on record and do whatever we can to resolve this awfulproblem. I realize that countries involved in wars, civil and otherwise, are tooinvolved in the killing to worry about the poor civilians who flee their homes in orderto stay alive. Syria is the most recent example of what happens when strife breaksout.The Israel – Palestinian refugee situation is probably unique. After, what the Israeliscall the 1948 War of Independence, many Arabs fled to Syria, Jordan (then knownas Trans-Jordan) and Lebanon. And there they have stayed. They continue to live incamps under strict rules and are not accepted as citizens. Now even their childrenand grandchildren and maybe even their great grandchildren remain “refugees”. Forthe last 64 years they have been used as political fodder by Arab leaders in the warof words against Israel.Incidentally, those Arabs that remained in Israel became Israeli citizens. While thereare many complaints about their being second class citizens, they are much betteroff than those in the refugee camps in the surrounding countries.What about the Jewish refugees who lived in Arab countries who, on pain of death,fled to the Jewish State. In an article in Huff Post World Israel’s Ambassador to theUN, Ron Prosser states, “At the end of World War II, 850,000 Jews lived in Arabcountries. Just 8,500 remain today. Their departure was no accident. After Arableaders failed to annihilate Israel militarily in 1948, they launched a war of terror,incitement, and expulsion to decimate their own ancient Jewish communities. 10
  • Within years virtually all of Iraqs 2,500-year-old Jewish community had fled,emptying the country of many of its greatest artists, musicians, and businessmen.Similar scenes played out across the region, from Egypt to Syria to Libya to Yemen.State-sanctioned pogroms descended on Jewish neighborhoods, killing innocentsand destroying ancient synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. New, draconian lawsprevented Jews from public worship, forced them to carry Jewish identity cards, andseized billions of dollars in their property and assets. The total area of landconfiscated from Jews in Arab countries amounts to nearly 40,000 square miles --about five times the size of Israels entire land mass.The vast majority of these Jewish refugees came to Israel, nearly doubling itspopulation. Most entered the Land of Milk and Honey with no milk, no honey, and nomoney. They were embraced with full citizenship rights and ambitious programs forintegration, rising to the highest levels of society.The years have passed, but the injustice inflicted upon these Jewish refugeescontinues. Many around the world have remained silent and complicit as Arabgovernments have sought to erase all memory of their stories.While Arab leaders have found a refuge from reality at the U.N., they have beenunable to outrun the consequences of religious and sectarian persecution,incitement, and violence at home. In the rubble of Aleppos former Jewishneighborhoods, Assads Allawite-led regime continues to brutally suppress SyriasSunni-led uprising. In Egypt mobs burn Coptic Christian churches in the same waythat they attacked synagogues years ago. In Baghdad, where Jews once constituteda third of the population, Sunnis and Shiites remain pitted against each other afteryears of bloodshed.Forging a peaceful future in the Middle East will require Arab governments to finallylearn the lessons of their pasts. They must build inclusive societies that protectminorities and offer everyone a seat at the decision-making table.The first steps toward true pluralism will come when Arab countries acknowledgethe history of persecution and intolerance in their own lands. They should start byunearthing the 850,000 untold stories of Jews ripped from their ancient homes.I fear that Ambassador Prosser is dreaming when he hopes that Arab countries“should start by unearthing the 850,000 untold stories of Jews ripped from theirancient homes” and “build inclusive societies that protect minorities and offereveryone a seat at the decision-making table”. So far, even with the tumult referredto generally as the “Arab Spring”, I don’t see any indications of any Arab countrymoving in that direction. I would be thrilled to be proven wrong. 11
  • BLACK JEWSLet’s start off with a time honored joke that is often told in the Jewish community. Itgoes something like this:A woman on a train walked up to a man across the table. "Excuse me," she said, "but areyou Jewish?""No," replied the man.A few minutes later the woman returned. "Excuse me," she said again, "are you sure yourenot Jewish?""Im sure," said the man.But the woman was not convinced, and a few minutes later she approached him a thirdtime. "Are you absolutely sure youre not Jewish?" she asked?"All right, all right," the man said. "You win. Im Jewish.""Thats funny," said the woman." You dont look Jewish."For many white American Jews the humor above may no longer seem appropriate.The Jewish daily Forward reported recently, “For many mainstream Jews… thedifferences between them and … black Jews, who have long been ignored ordismissed as inauthentic by the Jewish establishment, seems more like one ofculture and ethnicity than Jewish identity.While they once called themselves Hebrew Israelites exclusively to distinguishthemselves from Jews of European extraction, the black Jews now readily countthemselves among the Jewish people without qualification. An increasing numberseek out formal conversion, a practice previously seen only as a concession to theexpectations of mainstream Jews. Some 85% of the members at Beth Shalom havedone so, according to Rabbi Capers Funnye (pronounced Fun-NAY), their spiritualleader, who is himself a member of the mainstream Chicago Board of Rabbis (andcousin to First Lady Michelle Obama).Today, a cadre of teens and young adults have graduated from yeshivas and Jewishday schools, creating educational parity and a shared frame of reference with thewider Jewish community. And last year, Israel’s ambassador to Washington,Michael Oren, paid an unprecedented visit to a black synagogue, Temple Bethel inPhiladelphia, and told them, “We are a single people endowed with the sameblessings and obligations. Israel belongs to us all.”The point of the matter here is that Judaism (at least to me) is both a religious andethnic affair. It is not racial. Jews may look different and, indeed, come from verydifferent backgrounds, but the connection is there. Some of the practices might bedifferent but there is a common set of basic beliefs and a sense of commonresponsibility.The Forward article is very interesting and can be accessed by clicking here.http://forward.com/articles/159587/black-jews-gain-wider-acceptance/? 12
  • utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=The%20Forward%20Today%20%28Monday-Friday%29&utm_campaign=Sunday_Daily_Newsletter%202012-07-22*******************************************************************************************See you again next monthDuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect. 13