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November 14, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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November 14, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 14, 2014 PAGE 15A From page 1A on Jews and attacks on syna- gogues, Jewish-owned shops and other Jewish institu- tions. The differences with Kristallnacht are stark and significant, but the similari- ties cannotbe ignored. Not on this anniversary--not at a time of great insecurity among Jewish communities in Europe. Two synagogues were at- tacked during anti-Israel demonstrations this summer in Paris. In one case, 200 Jews were trapped inside, while a mob, armed with bats, tried to invade the synagogue. Roger Cukierman, the head of the French Jewish com- munity, made the connec- tion explicit: "We've never seen anything like that. It resembled Kristallnacht in 1938 in Germany." And in Germany, where people chanted "Jews to the gas" at anti-Israel rallies and where Molotov cocktails were thrown at synagogues, Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews of Germany said, "These are the worst times since the Nazi era." The British Jewish commu- nity's security agency, CST, said that July 2014 had the highest number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in any one month since it began keeping records three decades ago. Highly esteemed and hardly alarmist former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote at Yom Kippur that the Jewish community suffers "a degree of apprehension I have not known in my lifetime. Anti- Semitism has returned to Europe within living memory of the Holocaust." European Jews were ter- rorized by Kristallnacht, and among elements of society in Europe today they are being terrorized once again by anti- Semitic hatred, especially, but not only, linked to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The terror is not from one night, but from an accumulation of incidents over the past years. During Operation Protec- tive Edge this summer, and during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, ADL reported on anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric around the world, related to the Israel-Hamas wars. We saw incitement to violence, demonization of Jews and Israel, blood libels and other anti-Semiticvitriol. Too often these words led to assaults and vandalism. And those attacks have caused vast numbers of Eu- ropean Jews to no longer feel free to live openly as Jews. The European Union's human rights agency surveyed eight major Jewish communities in Europe in 2012 and found widespread insecurity. One in five Jews had been the victim of an anti-Semitic insult, ha- rassment or assault, and one in three worried about being physically attacked over the next 12 months. Two out of five Jews always or frequently avoided wearing a kippah or Star of David in public. Anti-Semitism never left the continent, but its recent transformation from rhetoric to violence, including mur- ders at a Jewish school in Tou- louse and the Jewish museum in Brussels, has caused a sea change in the confidence of Jewish communities across Europe. Most European politi- cal leaders have condemned the anti-Semitic incidents in their countries, but the indifference among the public is shocking and dismaying. If the hatred espoused and acted out by the anti-Semites and the apathy of European citizens overtake the efforts of the well-intentioned politi- cal leaders, European Jewish communities will have a dim future: communal self-segre- gation, individual withdrawal from Jewish communal life or emigration. "Neveragain" stands. There will notbe another Holocaust. But Kristallnacht is another story. Let us learn its lessons, not to avoid another Holo- caust but to avoid a different disaster, the slow terroriza- tion of Europe's Jews into permanent fear, faced with the awful choice of abandoning their identity or fleeing. German Federal Archives via Wikimedia Commons Kristallnacht shop damage in Magdeburg, Germany, November 1938. Cnaan Liphshiz In the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, pro-Palestinian rioters broke shop windows and set Rres on July 20, 2014. From page IA be done 50 years after the Civil Rights Act. Judge Thompson spoke about growing up in Jacksonville amid the KKK in the era of the civil rights movement. Commissioner Ings shared his relationship with the Jewish community and Israel. Professor French gave an interesting talk about the ties of the abolitionist movement to the civil rights movement, sharing a story of a Jewish business owner in the Panhandle during the time of the abolitionist movement. There has been a long- standing history of Jewish merchants being the only business people willing to allow African-Americans to shop in their stores. Rabbi Steven Engel agreed with this, and spoke about the civil rights movement in the South, and how closely the Jewish and African-Amer- ican communities worked together. Rabbi Engel went on to speak about the rift that has developed in this relationship, explaining that much of it comes from the Jews moving out to the suburbs, leaving behind the African-American commu- nity in the urban areas. This created a sort of geographi- cal segregation. Both Judge Thompson and Rabbi Engle pointed out that without time spent together learning about each other and learn- ingwith each other, divisions and misunderstanding occur due to pure lack of knowledge of the other. Judge Thomp- son went on to talk about going to the University of Florida, and being the only black man in his classes. He realized that he had never met Jews, or other people, and had never had the op- portunity to form friend- ships outside of the African American community. Once he began to meet different people, he realized that we are not all that different. All of the panelists spoke of the need for continued work in bringing equality to the African-American commu- nity. All are hopeful that this will be the start of a renewed relationship in our Central Florida community between the Jewish and African- American community. From page 4A Masada, donned kippot and tallitot, and the young man read a portion of the Torah with other prayers appropri- ate to a bar mitzvah. I've spoken to our friends about the Koreans in our own family, and advise them to get ready for Israeli in-laws. Pessimists fear the in- cidence of intermarriage throughout the Jewish world. Optimists note the vibrant varieties of Juda- ism and Jewish culture in Israel and overseas, as well as unprecedented access of Jews to ranking positions in governments, international business, science, and aca- demia. A number of the other issues recall the writing of Josephus, who described a truly bloody war on matters not all that different from what bothers present day re- ligious, ultra-religious, and secular Israelis. Josephus' war facilitated the even more bloody conquest by the Ro- mans, the destruction of the Temple, and the exclusion of Jews from their Holy City. There has been an uptick in our concern for the Temple Mount, associated with fever among our Muslim neighbors that a tiny movement of Israe- lis threatens their monopoly on a holy place. Never far from the agenda are issues that represents dif- ferences in religious demog- raphy. Liberal congregations prevail in the United States, while here the Orthodox in- sist on their monopoly. The hottest confrontations have been alongside the Western Wall, where the Women of the Wall, some of them attired in kippot and tallitot, insist on reading from the Torah and practicing the rite of bat mitzvah as it is done in non- Orthodox congregations. There are also periodic concerns with ultra-Or- thodox education. Must it include elements of math, science, and other matters that might help young people earn their own living? Yair Lapid's party, There is a Future, has heightened concern for ultra-Orthodox education as well as the equitable recruitment of ultra-Orthodox young men to the IDF or other national service. Both planks have fallen victim to political calculations, watered down and their implementation postponed for several years. Lapidniks say they must give the ultra-Orthodox a chance to adjust. Cynics say that postponements will push the reforms beyond the life of this government, give the ultra-Orthodox a chance to join the next government, and scuttle the reforms or postpone them into the never to be reached future. Other items are always on the agenda of one or another ultra-Orthodox rabbi. They include the sale ofnonkosher food, violations of Sabbath, the discovery of graves in the way of a construction project, or women who dress or otherwise do things considered immodest. Each can be made the subject of a inflammatory campaign thatwill produce demonstra- tions at rush hour in key intersections, scuffles with the police, burned garbage bins, curses, the throwing of sticks and stones, and an overseas campaign to raise money for the sake of pre- serving Judaism from Israeli anti-Semites. Josephus would say that he told us so. Ira Sharkansky is a pro- fessor (Emeritus) of the Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From page 11A Jewish grandparent for an immigrant for automatic citi- zenship. Varsanyi's maternal grandfather was unambigu- ously Jewish. But when Israel's Interior Ministry saw a document concerning her great-grand- mother's conversion, they refused to register her as Jewish, claiming she was raised Christian. To be recog- nized as Jewish, the ministry told Varsanyi, she needed to convert. Except Varsanyi can't convert because she is al- ready Jewish according to Jewish law, which doesn't recognize conversions to other religions. The chief rabbinates of both Israel and Hungary consider Varsanyi, her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother to be Jewish. "It's hard to imagine any- body more committed to the Jewish people than someone like Anna," said Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, an Israeli organization that guides people with religious status issues through Israeli bureaucracy. "They're simply not looking at the facts. This woman's basic rights are being violated, and those of her unborn child are being violated." At first, the Interior Min- istry's decision had little effect. Varsanyi already had citizenship and was mar- ried, the two areas in which issues of personal religious status are most likely to cause problems. But last year she began petitioning the ministry for a change in status, worried that her future children would not have their marriages rec- ognized by the government. "I think it's ridiculous," Varsanyi said. "Why would they force me to convertwhen I'm Jewish? If I didn't have principles or problems I'd say let them win. But I wouldn't be able to face myself." The ministry has rebuffed her requests, claiming that her mother converted from Judaism before she was born. Varsanyi says this is not true, that it was her great- grandmotherwho converted. The ministry also has refused to rely on the Chief Rabbinate's recognition of Varsanyi as Jewish, despite a 2012 law allowing it to do so. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told JTA that the ministry has asked the rabbinical court that declared Varsanyi Jewish for an explanation but has yet to receive a re- sponse. After several rejections, Varsanyi has come to feel like the ministry's employees "don't give a crap." She said she once met with a ministry official, who after reading her papers said, "I don't know what you want because you're not Jewish." "It was traumatic--I al- most cried," she said. "Like, 'Welcome to Israel: You're not a Jew.'"