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June 14, 2013

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2013 By Danielle Berrin Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles F. Scott Fitzgerald pro- claimed his distaste for Jews with his cliched portrait of gangster Meyer Wolfsheim in his Jazz Age opus "The Great Gatsby." The crucial but peripheral character is never described in detail, save for an . upfront declaration that he is"a small, flat-nosedJew"with"tiny eyes" and "two fine growths of hair" luxuriating in his deeply enchanting nostrils (which apparently either intrigued or repelled Fitzgerald since he mentions it several times). Indeed, for Fitzgerald, the Jew's most salient and significant feature is his protean nose, at once "expressive" and "tragic" and which possesses the artful ability to "flash ... indignantly." Fitzgerald's 1925 novel has 10ng been criticized for its portrayal of Wolfsheim as more Jewish caricature than character. In the book "An- tiSemitism: A Historical En- cyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution," Richard Levy notes that Fitzgerald's Wolf- sheim memorably and "point- edly connected Jewishness and crookedness" (this one, not of of which, Hindus argued, lent mother's European anti-Sem- "Gatsby," film criticA.O. Scott the nose variety), itselfnicelytoageneralcultural itism. Hindus eventually con- noted, "The gangster Meyer In 1947, Milton Hindus, an wariness of the Jew. cluded that Fitzgerald's dislike Wolfsheim is a bit less of a assistant humanities'professor And as if party crashingof the Jews "was a superficial, cringe-worthy anti-Semitic at the University of Chicago, wasn't distasteful enough, merely 'fashionable' thing"-- caricature than he was in published an article about other prevailing traditions by whichhe meant, that as an 1925." But the New Yorker's "Gatsby" in Commentary that of the time religious and observer and chronicler ofcul- David Denby found the choice declared, "The novel reads literary--also found ways to ture, Fitzgerald's understand- misguided: "[T]he director, very much like an anti-Semitic scapegoat the Jew as the cause ing of Jews would have been perhaps not wishing to be ac- document."Hindusarguedthat of contemporary ills. of the "habitual, customary, cused of anti-Semitism, cast although on thewhole he con- Melding both, Hindus ob-'harmless,'unpoliticalvariety" the distinguished Indian ac- siders"Gatsby" to be an"excel- servedthat"theNewTestament and not the insidious kind that tor Amitabh Bachchan as the lent" novel, he found the story can be~regarded as a drama in resultedinthepogroms, expul- Jewish gangster. This makes and the characters "general which the Jews play the role of sionsandinquisitionsofJewish no sense, since the gangster's and representative rather than villain," a narrative trope that history, name remains Wolfsheim and particular and confined." "The greatly influenced the avant- Thisbrandoftemperateanti- Tom[Buchanan] later refers to Jewwho appears in 'The Great garde writers of Fitzgerald's Semitism has been tempered him as 'that kike.'" Gatsby,' " he wrote, "is easily time--Ezra Pound and T.S. even further by the latest film WhiCh leads one to wonder: its most obnoxious character." Eliot, among others. Equay incarnationofFi~gerald'sclas' Was there no way to portray Hindus attributed this to the incensed by the ascendance of sic.DirectorBazLuhrmannhas Fitzgerald's Jew as a Jew with- prevailing anti-Semitism ofthe the middle class, whose social said he quite purposively cast out the seamy stereotyping? In age.Fitzgeraldwas,afterall, part and economic gains effectively the non-Jewish, Indian actor casting an Indian, Luhrmann of the American avant-garde of denied the literary class--with Amitabh Bachchan in the role effectively usurps the Jewish- the 1920s, an era in which a its superior education and of MeyerWolfsheim. ness of the character and rapidly rising middle class was culturalerudition--its rightful In an interview with Yahoo's manages to avoid the question radically redefining notions of place in the Ahaerican social Wide Screen blogger Will altogether. Savefor his name, privilege andaccess. The power strata, the Jew became a stand- Perkins, Luhrmann admitted Luhrmann's Wolfsheim is not shiftinsocialclasseswas desta- in for the despised bourgeoisie, to a noncontroversial casting identifiable as a Jew in any bilizing, and as the uncultured And in circles whose standards strategy. "I was trying to solve meaningful way. masses began to mix with the for social decorum did not the issue of Meyer Wolfsheim On some level, this con- wealthy elite (consider Gatsby, permit open anti-Semitism, because there's a big ques- stitutes a denial of historical aswellas the legions attending the writers were thus given tion there," Luhrmann said. truth by the director, even as his legendary parties), the old license to "flaunt" in theirwork "Fitzgeralddrawsthecharacter he ethnically (and perhaps guard who disapproved sought the anti-Semitic seething that inwhatsomemightsayisavery creatively) reimagines the role. comfort in "an allegiance to was otherwise "concealed by broad, anti-Semitic manner.". Is Luhrmann trying to tell us tradition and hatred of the the rest of polite society." Indeed, in his New Yorkethnicities are interchange- contemporary bourgeoisie."All But thiswas notyour grand- Times review of Luhrmann's able? That because Fitzgerald's character was sketched in anti-Semitic strokes there's no credible way to still portray him as a Jew? Some may see in this betrayal of the character's es- sence atriumph against stereo- type. But it more convincingly illustrates the director's ample confusion and lack of imagi- nation on the matter (which is stunning, considering how fresh the rest of the film feels). Rather than truly explore what could make Wolfsheim a "less cringe-worthy anti- Semitic caricature" as Scott put it, Luhrmann cowered in the ~ace of potential controversy, determined to avoid that, too. In 1989, when Sir Peter Hall cast Dustin Hoffman as Shake- speare's surly Semitic Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice," his WestEndperformance inspired the compliment: terrible, but no monster. What would have happened if, say, Luhrmann had cast the very talented and very conspicuously Jewish actor Adrien Brody as Wolfsheim? I'm willing to bet Brody would have played the role perfectly--I mean, pointedly crooked--without pandering. Darffelle Berrin is a staff writer for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Small haredi protest, no Torah allowed at Women of the Wall service JERUSALEM (JTA)--Hun- dreds of protesting haredi Orthodoxyouth did notprevent or significantly disturb the Women of the Wall's monthly service at the Western Wall. The women were not, how- ever, abte to read from a Torah scroll during the service as planned. Sunday's service, which ac- cording to Women of the Wall attracted 300 women, was conducted under heavy police protection. The women prayed in a corner of the women's sec- tion of the Western Wall plaza enclosed by a barricade and surrounded by police. ~ A barricade and police line also divided the male haredi protesters from the women and their supporters. Women of the Wall gath- ers at the beginning of the Jewish month for a women's Rosh Chodesh service at the Benjamin Netanyahu Western Wall. Merflbers have been arrested for wearing prayer shawls because of a law forbidding any practice that falls outside of the wall's "local custom." InApril, a judge determined that the group's activities did not contravene the law. Since then, none of the women has been arrested. The group's service last month--the first since the court ruling--attracted thou- sands of protesting haredi girls who packed the plaza. A large group of haredi men also protested last month, some throwing coffee, water, rocks and a chair at the women. This month, only a few hun- dred haredi protesters showed up at the service. Leading haredi rabbis had called on thousands of men to protest Women of the Wall peacefully, but much of the plaza was empty Sunday morning. Behind a heavy barricade, hard'di men chanted and held signs-and a few threw eggs- but the women's prayer often drowned out their protests. While the women were able to complete their service un- hindered, theywere notallowed to read from a Torah scroll. The group had not brought a scroll to the wall for years, but planned to resume the practice following the court ruling. Netanyahu disavows of- ficial's claims against two- state solution John Kerry JERUSALEM (JTA)--Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would work with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to advance peace talks with the Palestinians following an "Israeli government official's assertion that the ruling coalition opposes a two-state solution. "Together we will try to ad- vance a wa2~o find an opening for negotiationswith the Pales- tinians with the goal of reach- ing an agreement,"Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meet- ing. "This agreement will be based on a demilitarized Pal- estinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and on solid security arrangements based on the IDF." Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Israel later this week for his fifth visit to the region in an attempt to revive stallec[Israeli-~ Palestinian peace efforts. Deputy Defe.nse Minister Danny Danon on Sunday , stuck by his statements, made first in an interview on June 5 with the Times of Israel news website, in which he said that the Likud Party and the gov- erning coalitiSn are opposed to a.two-state solution and would block a vote on the creation of a Palestinian state. Last week's interview with the Times of Israel was Danon's first since becoming deputy defense minister. Thousands attend Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade (JTA)--Tens of thousands of people joined in Tel Aviv's annual Gay Pride Parade, the first after arrests were made in the 2009 double murder at a gay community center. Israeli media reported that the parade last Friday was the first time in four years that police did not send undercover detectives to mingle with the crowd. Police sources told Army Radio that the removal of the detectives was connected to arrests made this week in the unsolved murder of two people at a gay community center in Tel Aviv in 2009. A court in Tel Aviv remanded three of the four suspects for 11 days on June 6. In the past, detectives at- tended Gay Pride Parades in an attempt to Spot suspects and glean information leading to suspects. The Jerusalem Post reported that the 16th Gay Pride proces- sion through Tel Aviv kicked off at Gan Meir Park with musi- cal performances, celebrity appearances and speeches by public figures such as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Finance Minister Yah' Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich. Organizers were expecting more than 20,000 foreign tourists to arrive for the pride events, which will carry on throughout June. The parade was scheduled to end with a beach party at Gordon Beach hosted by supermodel Bar Refaeli with live performances by musi- cian Michal Amdursky, FFF, DRECK and AYisa, among others. Last year, an estimated 100,000 people took part in the parade, according to The Jerusalem Post. Dutch school to com- memorate Holocaust despite vandalism concerns. THE HAGUE, the Neth- erlands (JTA)--A Christian school in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood has resumed a plan to unveil a plaque in memory of Holocaust victims, despite concerns of anti-Semitic vandalism. The board of the Paul Krtiger School in The Hague said last week that it would move ahead with the plan, which was shelved in recent years because of what school officials said were "concerns that youths would destroy the monument." Stichting ChristelijkOnder- wijs, the association'that runs the school, said in a statement on June 5 that it is "in talks with the directors of the school about setting up of the plaque." The school, which was named for an Afrikaner na- tional leader, was a Jewish high school before the Holocaust. Budapest Jews aiming to build tallest kosher sand- wich (JTA)--Organizers of a Jewish festival in Budapest said they will try to set a world record for the tallest kosher sandwich. Many dozens of bread slices will be used to construct the tower on Sunday on Kazinczy Street in the Hungarian capi- tal's so-called Jewish Quarter during the sixth Judafest cul- tural street party, organizers said on Facebook. One of the organizers told JTA the plan is to have a 7-foot stack at least. The Guinness World Records website shows no record for kosher sandwiches, but the tallest non-kosher sandwich was made in 2007 in India and measured 50 feet. It contained 100 pounds of cucumbers, 88 pounds of meat and 330 pounds of butter. Judafest is expected to at- tract thousands and is among the largest Jewish events in Hungary. In addition to as- sembling the sandwich, par- ticipants will participate in a cookie-baking contest. In addition to the culinary activities, visitors to the one- day festival will be invited to watch films about Jewish hu- mor, notably by and featuring Woody Allen. There will also , be walks and a rickshaw tour of the Jewish quarter. The Budapest branch of the American Jewish Joint Distri- butign Committee launched Judafest.