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February 24, 2012

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 24, 2012 i A divided town, where the pursuit of bargains brings together Israelis and Palestinians Linda Gradstein Merchant Ali Hamarshi in his shop in the Palestinian portion of Barta'a, which has become a shopping destination for Israelis in pursuit of bargains. By Linda Gradstein BARTA'A, West Bank (JTA) In these days of fro- zen peace negotiations, most Israelis and Palestinians have little contact. Palestinians need a special permit to enter Israel, and Israelis need army - permission to enter the parts of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, just a mile north of this small West Bank town, a large yellow sign reminds drivers that "it is illegal to hand over cars for repair to the Palestinian Authority or to enter Palestinian areas." But in Barta'a, Israelis and Palestinians mix freely. The town is legally divided, with West Barta'a inside Israel and East Barta'a in the West Bank. But there's no physi- cal barrier between the two sides, and East Barta'a has developed a thriving mrket of hundreds of small stores selling everything from coffee sets to sheets to food to special teddy bears forValentines Day. "They have a good selec- tion, and the prices are much cheaper," said Sharon Ben Harosh, a 43-year-ol d Israeli Jew who frequently makes the four-hour trip from Eilat to buy textiles for his shop. "There's a feelingofauthen- ticity here. I buy everything here--rugs, furniture, dishes, curtains," he said."I really feel at home here." Palestinian store ownerAli Hamarshi, 48, grins and nods his head. "I bring things from many countries China, Turkey, Ib aly, the Philipines, Vietnam," Hamarshi said. "India and China make the best kitchen goods, and many Israelis come here to buy." His words are echoed by Yu- suf Zahar-Din, 52, who came to Barta'a from the Israeli Druze village of Usfiyya with his wife Hediye. "We changed the tires on our car, bought some gifts and had a great meal of lamb," ZaharoDin said smiling. "The people here are so nice. I love coming here." He added that prices are 50-60 percentless than inside Israel. But not everyone benefits equally from Me throngs of Israelis driving into Barta'a. says Zidran Badran, the mayor By Rabbi Rachel Esserman The Reporter, Vestal, N.Y. In my capacity as a chap- lain, I was once asked to give a short introduction to kashrut (the Jewish dietary laws). When explaining hechshers (the symbols on food and drink that show they've been certified kosher) to members of the staff. I suggested that most of them had purchased kosher food without realizing it. For example, I noted, some of the food items in the room where we were sitting probably had been certified kosher. Sure enough, we looked at several items, many of which featured a hechsher on their label. An increasing number of businesses that produce food and/or food additives are seeking a hechsher in order to reach a wider market. The wide availability of kosher food is just one of the many topics discussed in Sue Fishkoff's kashrut. "Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers tO a Higher Authority" (Schocken Books). Fishkoff, who writes for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, not only gives an overview of the business aspects in- volved in following kashrut. but examines some of the personal connections behind the increased consumption of kosher food. Fishkoff notes that even though Jews number less than two percent of the American population, one-third to one-half of the food sold in an average U.S. supermarket is certified kosher. While some of these products are ethnic foods mainly served on major Jewish holidays (for example. Passover or the High Holidays), the majority are mainstream food products produced by some of the larg- est food manufacturers in the U.S. (including General Mills, Kraft and Nabisco). The num- Zidan Badran, mayor of the seam that separates the Israeli of the Israeli section of Bar-ta'a. "The commerce is all over there, not here," he said. "We just get all of the dust." Prices are higher in the Israeli section of B'arta'a be- cause store owners there have to pay higher taxes. The shops line a narrow twisty road, and there is no designated parking lot. Badran says an estimated 80 percent of the shoppers are Arab Citizens of Israel and 20 percent are Jewish Israelis. "Before I knew about this place, I was really afraid to come," said Ben Harosh. "Now that ! know about it, I don't want to leave. I don't know any- thing about politics, but this is the way things should be." Most of the citizens of Barta'a are from one large America goes kosher increased: Fishkoffnotes that People with gluten allergies in 2007, "the 'kosher' label was slapped on more new domestic food products than any other label, including 'organic,' 'natural,' and 'premium'.... Nearly one-third of all new food products in this country are kosher certified, including chocolate Easter bunnies and Christmas candies, items clearly not intended for the Jewish consumer." According to Fishkoff, the increase in the consump- tion and sale of kosher food is based on several factor's. Some companies want to ap- peal to the greatest number of consumers,which includes those who keep kosher. Veg- etarians look for food labeled kosher dairy or pareve (food that contains neither meat nor milk productsl in order to maintain their plant-based diet. Those who are lactose intolerant know that kosher meat products or food labeled pareve will contain absolutely will stock up once a year with kosher-for-Passover foods that contain nowheat. Others buy kosher food because they feel it's cleaner or purer than other food products. Each chapter in "Kosher Nation" focuses on different aspects of kashrut. Among the topics covered are: The history of kosher su- pervision in the United States. including stories about kosher meat riots and other scandals that plagued the industry un- til the national certification of food began. Interviews of mashgichot (kosher supervisors) work- ing during a grape harvest. supervising factories in China and slaughterhouses in the U.S.. and kashering (making kosher) a kitchen in a large hotel. The new rules for deciding whether or not particular fresh fruit and vegetables are kosher due to the possibility Linda Gradstein Israeli portion of the Arab town of Barta'a, stands on the part of town from its West Bank portion. clan, the Kabaha clan. On the Israeli side. there are al- most 4.000 residents; on the Palestinian side, about 6,000. From 1948 to 1967, East Barta'awas partofJordan, and families here were divided. In 1967, when Israel took over the West Bank, families were reunited; many families are mixed, with one spouse from Israeli Barta'a and the other from the Palestinian side. Rafat Kabaha, the head of town schools on the Israeli side, says about one-third of the students come from the Palestinian side. If one par- ent is an Israeli citizen, the children can study in the local Israeli school even if they live on the Palestinian side. Kabaha says 62 percent of the high school students receive a matriculation cer- tificate, which enables them to attend university. That figure is almost double the overall rate ofotherArab citizens of Israel. "Both our teachers and our students live here in the vil- lage, and our teachers are very committed," Kabaha says. Barta'ais easy to reach it is just a few minutes away from a major Israeli highway. Badran hopes that Israelis will continue to come but that Israeli Barta'a will develop as well. "I have a dream," he said. "I'd like to see people from all nations over the world coming here. In China they've already heard about Barta'a because we buy so many Chinese goods. We could even build a hotel here." The dynamics of ritual slaughter, the problematic example of Agriprocessors (whose owner was arrested and found guilty of illegal business practices) and the new, very smallattempts to provide organic kosher meat. The increased number and types of wine available from kosher vineyards. One underlying theme of "Kosher Nation" is the hum- raization of kashrut. (The Hebrew word humra means stringency or taking the strictest approach.) At one time. it was enough for meat to be kosher. Now. Fishkoff notes, most stores will only carry glatt kosher meat so even the ultra-Orthodox will buy the food. (Glatt kosher meat means the lungs of the animals are smooth.) She quotes rabbis who remember when an Orthodox Jew would eat cold food in restaurants or at someone else's home, some- thing that rarely happens in use light boxes to examine fresh food or declare particu- lar fruits and vegetables to be unkosher since, according to the strictest interpretation, it's impossible to guarantee that they are completely bug free. Fishkoff does an excellent job providing an in-depth look at the kosher food in- dustry. For those who know nothing about the subject. reading "Kosher Nation" will be an eye-opening experience. The sheer amount of details covered in its more than 300 pages is impressive. My one quibble is that the author takes a journalistic approach to the subject: I would have liked more commentary or analysis on her part. What Fishkoff does instead is in- terview experts and present their opinions. Anyone look- ing to find .out how American food has come to answer to a higher authority will get all the background they need in in=depth journalistic look at ber of items available has also nodairyordairyby-products, of bug infestations, the 21st century. People now "Kosher Nation." Museum of Jewish Heritage presents 'From Hollywood to Nuremberg' New York Jewish Week vens: From Hollywood to Trials and other World War which many of the films on Their documentary work in this exhibit. The museum NEW YORK Except for anniversaries, timing is an overlooked quality in the museum world. Perhaps this is understandable-- with exhibits planned years in advance, there's no predicting how culturally relevant a show might be when it finally opens. Yet when the Museum of Jewish Heritage opens its main spring show (March 22 to Oct. 14), "Filming the Camps: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Ste- Nuremberg," they may still be able to ride the coattails of this year's Oscars, which are celebrating retrograde filmmaking. The year's major nomi- nees "The Artist," a silent film, and "Hugo," about the birth of cinema in France have made many movie fans look hack at the cinema's past. The Museum of Jew- ish Heritage's exhibit will too: it focuses on the little- known documentary films about liberated concentra- tion camps, the Nuremberg II events by mid-century titans of American film. Filmmakers like John Ford, whose Oscar-winning movies such as "Stage- coach" (1939), which made a star f John Wayne, enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. Famously, he was there for D-Day, when the'U.S. and Allied forces stormed Normandy beach. Footage he took there and at other wartime locations have landed in the Library of Congress archives, from view have been borrowed. George Stevens, another Oscar-winning director one for "A Place in the Sun" (1951), another for "Shane" (1953), and a nominee for best director with "Diary of Anne Frank" (1959) also did his part in the war. He joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps, heading its film unit, documenting iconic and harrowing footage like the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. He also filmed the trials at Nuremberg. will be on view, as will wartime work of the Jewish filmmaker Samuel Fuller (n Rabinovitz). Before the war, Fuller's films were widely admired, but McCarthy- era blacklisting did him in. However, to critics pnd film auteurs like Jean-Luc Godard, Wire Wenders and Quentin Tarantino, he has remained an icon. Perhaps his most admired work, "The Big Red One" (1980), a semi- autobiographical film about World War II, is an apt intro- duction to the work on view will showcase amateur RAW footage Fuller took of the Nazi death camp at Falkenau, which Fuller helped liber- ate as an enlisted American solider. It is because of that footage that the world has been able to bear witness to some of the most haunting, visceral images ever made of the Nazi death machine. And it is because of the museum's new show that we will be able to witness it once again. Reprinted by permission of The New York Jewish Week.