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December 10, 2010

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 10, 2010 PAGE 15A American Yiddish 'shuln' authority reveals its hidden history By Dan Pine j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California ;:;. Grojing up in Los Angeles i!he i960s, Marti Krow- Lhcal xe6eived a thorough Jewisheducation. Mostly in - -:.Yiddish, :; Two afternoons aweek, she -attended a Hollywood kinder- ,hul and then, as ayoung teen, an all-Saturday mitlshul, both of which offered Yiddish les- sons and a socialist take on Jewish history. Those schools were among the last of a dy- ing breed: the secular shuln ("schools" in Yiddish) that had once dotted North America. Though she never attained true fluency, Krow-Lucal re- tained her love of the Yiddish language and culture. Today, the Harvard-trained linguist oversees the Secular Yid- dish Schools of America Special Collection at Stanford University Library. She will share her knowl- edge in a presentation Sunday at ihe Bureau of Jewish Edu- cation's Jewish Community Library in San Francisco. She calls her talk "The Hidden History of American Yiddish " Shuln." Hidden, because thd kinder- shul, with its emphasis on the workers movement, was the stepchild of American Jewish education, second to religious schools in synagogues and yeshivas. Hidden, also, because early 20th-century Jewish society movement, what do you need Yiddish for? Just put money in the pushke and you're fine." The shuln were largely the creation of the Arbiter Ring (also known as Workman's Circle), a Jewish socialist group that still exists, largely as a club for Yiddish speakers. By the 1930s, records show that some 30,000 Jewish children attended shuln in the United States and Canada. All offered classes in Yiddish language and culture. "There were choruses, athletic clubs, mandolin orchestras, reading circles," Krow-Lucal says. "These cultural groups con- tinued to contribute money outgrew its shtetl origins and to kee.=lse schools going." became part of the modern In ture, Krow-Lucal American dream. ': Will d'ome of the archi- Says Krow-Lucal, "As Jews val rnalils from her Stan- became more affluent, and ford collection, which fills moved away from the workers 100 boxes. Those materials include curricula, songbooks, puppets, report cards, diplo- mas, textbooks, even a Yiddish Bingo game. She notes that some of the Yiddish language curricula suggest that by t, he 1920s and '30s, the offspring of Jewish immigrants had begun losing interest in maintaining the Mamaloshen. "There was a strong preju- dice against Yiddish," she says of those first-generation Jewish Americans. "As far as America goes, we didn't have any more native speakers, or very few, after 1924, so who was going to teach it?" Another factor in the de- cline of the shuln was the founding of modern Israel. Yiddish took a backseat to Hebrew as the language of choice in the Jewish world. Though Yiddish is still spoken among some Chas- sidic sects in the United States and Israel, Krow- Lucal doubts a single secular Yiddish school remains open in this country. She remembers her schools in L.A. as fun places to learn about her Jewish roots, though she insists attending class twice  a week is no way to learn a language. "I learned to read [Yiddish] very slowly, learned to write very slowly and I learned to [use] glossaries, dictionaries and grammar books," she recalls. "But it was not until I was an adult at a New York institute for a summer that I became a little fluent. I can speak some if I have to." She did go on to become fluent in Spanish, having studied it at Harvard and then teaching the language at the college level. She moved to the South Bay in 1981 and taught Spanish at San Jose State University, U.C. Davis and U.C. Berkeley. Though the heyday of the kindershul is long gone, Krow-Lucal hopes to keep that history alive through herarchive, presentations and the broader-based revival of Yiddish and klezmer music. Speaking of her personal experience in the shuln, she has nothing but fond memories. "Usually you hear people say 'I hated Hebrew school,' but there was never a time we felt that way," Krow- Lucal notes. "It was always engaging." Dan Pine is a staff writer for j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California from which this article was re- printed by permission. Israel faces new threat, ex-Spanish PM says By Sheldon Kirshner The Canadian Jewish News TORONTO--Israel faces a new and insidious threat to its existence as a sover- eign nation, says Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain. "It's not a conventional war as in 1948, 1956, 1967 or 1973," he told a UJA Fed- eration of Greater Toronto dinner on Sunday night. "It's not the kind of terror- ism [Israel] endured during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and after 2000." Describing the threat as "a war against the idea of Israel," Aznar said, "We're dealing with a new form of attack against Israel's legiti- macy, against Israel's right to exist." Branding it a campaign of delegitimization, he ob- served, "It's a 'soft war' in which the enemies of Is- rael use legal tricks, exploit multilateral bodies and use dubious non-governmental organizations to portray Israel as an illegal state, a barbaric state, one that must be isolated and turned into a pariah state," Aznar, Spain's prime min- ister from 1996 to 2004, pledged to combat efforts to Maru Sapriza/flickr Jose Maria Aznar delegitimize Israel and its right to live in peace within secure borders. "I have always thought that apoBticiaffs :actions speak ihder than words," he declared, unveiling a plfi to counter such attempts. Aznar launched the Friends of Israel Initiative in Paris at the end of last May, on the day a pro-Palestinian flotilla approached the coast of the Gaza Strip in an at- tempt to breach Israel's siege. "It was a real coincidence that convinced us even more about the need to fight against the increasing delegitimization of Israel," said Aznar, a conservative politician whose final days in office were marred by an Islamic terrorist attack on a commuter train in Madrid that killed 191 people. By all accounts, the bomb- ing was in retaliation for Spain's decision to send troops to Iraq and Afghani- stan. Aznar said his initiative is supported by private donors and was founded under his leadership by such figures as John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Na- tions, and Alejandro Toledo, the former president of Per u. "We don't defend nor do we justify specific policies of current governments in Je- rusalem, nor do we promote the particular interests of any political party," he said in a prepared speech. "What we aspire to defend is the State of Israel, its right to exist peacefully and to be treated with fairness--not h- ing more, nothing less." Currently executive presi- dent of a Spanish think-tank known as the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis, Aznar said the Friends of Israel Initiative is guided by several principles: Israel's right to exist should not be questioned, and that Israel is an integral part of the West, shares Western values and should not be weakened. In an opinion piece in the Times of London shortly after the group's formation, Aznar--a board member of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and of the Atlantic Council--wrote, "Israel is our first line of defense in a turbulent region that is con- stantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism." He added, "If Israel goes down, we all go down ... The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and, Israel is lost, then we are lost, too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably in- tertwined." In his article, Aznar as- cribed "the real threats" to stability in the Middle East to the rise of radical Islamism. Speaking a day before the 63rd anniversary of the 1947 United Nations Palestine partition plan, Aznar said his initiative has [opened] "a space" in which "reason" and "decency" prevail. He noted that the initia- tive has enjoyed "remarkable Orthodox woman has leadership role within clergy at her shul By Frances Kraft The Canadian Jewish News TORONTO--Elana Stein Hain is one of a handful of Orthodox women filling synagogue leadership roles that have traditionally been reserved for men. Although her title at New York's Lincoln Square Syna- gogue is "community scholar," she is listed on the synagogue's website as one of the clergy. Her role comprises a pas- toral element and includes shivah visits, attending fu- nerals (albeit not officiating, other than to sometimes read psalms), counseling, teaching and delivering sermons on Shabbat mornings after the service ends. Stein Hain, 29, spoke to The CJN at Ulpanat Orot Girls School on Nov. 19, a Friday. She had just addressed students at the school be- ginning a packed weekend as scholar-in-residence at Shaarei Shomayim Congrega- tion and also guest speaker at Torah in Motion. After Lincoln Square hired Stein Hain three years ago to bring young people into the shul, she started a monthly young professionals minyan, which now averages between 40 and 60 people each week, she said. A rabbinic intern runs the service. In forging a relatively new path for Orthodox women, Stein Hain has kept in mind advice from her father, Martin Stein, a lawyer:"My dad always said, 'Do what you think is right ... just be yourself.' "I sort of see myself as just being myself. I enjoy what I do. It's my skill set, and my community's so lovely." Last year, Stein Hain was named one of the New York Jewish Week's "36 Under 36," young adults who are having an impact on the Jewish com- munity. Stein Hain, who .was born in New York and raised in Teaneck, N.J., also has a Cana- dian connection. Her mother, Mindy Silverberg Stein, na- tional president of Emunah of America, is from Toronto, and Stein Hain's grandparents still live here. As a community leader, she said any change is "much more about what the community needs than some abstract'ob- jective standard. "I think every community needs to set parameters for itself ... You might be able to be one step ahead of the com- munity, butyou have to respect the process." Only a handful of women have full-time leadership posi- tions in Orthodox synagogues, but female scholars-in-resi- dence are "going everywhere," she said, Stein Hainl who is a gradu- ate of Yeshiva University's graduate pr6gram in advanced Talmudic studies, is pursuing a doctorate in religion at Colum- bia University. She is writing her dissertation on halachic loopholes. Growing up, she wanted to be a lawyer, but eventually she decided she "liked Torah stuff more." Frances Kraft is a staff reporter for The Canadian Jewish News. success" in terms of interna- tional support. Having already brought it to the United States, Britain, Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina and Italy, he in- tends to bring it to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain. "Our desire is to continue defending Israel, because, in that way, we think we're contributing to better defend the entire Western world-- something we find vital and urgent." Aznar suggested that sharp critiques of Israel lack nuance. "It's easy to denounce the harshness of Israel's military actions," he said, pointing out that Hezbollah and Hamas want to destroy Israel. "It's easy to denounce the [security] fence that partially separates the West Bank from Israel," he said. Yet Israel's barrier has drastically re- duced the number of terrorist attacks in Israel and allowed Israelis "to go out for pizza, to the movies, or send their children on the same school bus ..." "It's easy to condemn Israel and portray it as a new apartheid regime," he said. But Israeli Arabs sit in the Knesset and some hold "high-ranking positions in several state institutions." Israel is not only a nation enmeshed in conflict and wars, he added. Characterizing Israel as "a land of opportunity" with a future, Aznar said it has been admitted into the Organiza- tion for Economic Coopera- tion and Development, has a thriving economy and enjoys diplomatic relations with many countries. "Nonetheless, the auto- matic response to blame Israel for almost everything bad happening in the Middle East doesn't want to recede. It's quite the contrary." Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is "the new George W. Bush" in that he is blamed "for everything."" Aznar blasted Turkey, a NATO member and Israel's former ally, for having backed "aggression" by endorsing last May's flotilla. "By contrast, very few re- member the plight of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was abducted more than four years ago by the Hamas militia." In closing, Aznar ex- pressed outrage that Canada did not win a temporary seat on the United Nations Secu- rity Council. "But you don't need to feel sorry. On the contrary, you must be proud of having principled leaders like Mr. [Stephen] Harper as prime minister." He voiced hope that Harp- er would join his initiative. Sheldon Kirshners a staff reporter for The Canadian Jewish News. EXCELLENCE IN ELDER CARE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES River Garden Hebrew Home- Traditional Long-Term Care, Short Stay Rehabilitation, Alzheimer's and Dementia Care The Coves - Independent Living t,tirement Community at River Garden The Theral Center- 7 days a week RIVER GARDEN Excellence in Adult Care and Services