Monday, February 27, 2006

A look into Jewish American vacations

Nearly 100 years ago, the Jewish Agricultural Society helped Morris and Belle Fidelman purchase a fruit orchard in South Haven, Michigan, and the barber and his wife soon moved their young family to 80 acres in the country.

Yet friends and family members they left behind in Chicago often visited in the summer, contributing money for seeds and equipment. The hospitality business soon proved more profitable than the fruit.

By 1930, the farmhouse was replaced with a building that could accommodate 150 guests, and Fidelman's became one of the many Jewish resorts that drew thousands every year to South Haven, known as "The Catskills of the Midwest."

The story of Fidelman's — and similar resorts and hotels in Atlantic City, Miami Beach and the Catskills — is told in "The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity and the Jewish-American Dream," an exhibit making its debut at the Spertus Museum in Chicago.

"Our logo was 80 acres of Instant Happiness. That was on all of our flyers and our brochures and even our matchbook covers," said Sheila Fidelman at a reception earlier this month for the exhibit.

The petite Fidelman — still glammed up in high heels at age 81 — served as a dance teacher, singer, hostess and secretary at the resort begun by her in-laws and owned by the family until 1985.

The exhibit is colorful and bright, filled with photos, postcards, tacky souvenirs, memorabilia and clothing, such as a modest wool bathing suit from the 1920s and a red negligee taken by a woman on her 1948 honeymoon — but never worn because she deemed it too racy.

A highlight is a rare wicker rolling chair used to roll tourists along the Atlantic City boardwalk in the 1880s.

Reminders of anti-Semitism

But throughout the exhibit are reminders of why many of these traditionally Jewish vacation destinations were created in the first place: anti-Semitism.

The exhibit includes a photo of a vacationer posing in front of a "Gentiles Only" sign. "Catering to a Gentile clientele," reads a matchbook cover for a Miami Beach hotel. A 1938 newspaper placement advertises "restricted clientele," while a postcard for a Michigan resort informs readers, "No Hebrews entertained."

Restrictive real estate covenants forced Jewish families to buy in the southern edge of Miami Beach in the 1920s and '30s, resulting in the development of the "South Beach" area.

Meanwhile, wealthy German Jewish families were initially welcome in the Catskills in the 1870s. But as the Jewish population in America soared with immigration from Eastern Europe, many hotels closed their doors to Jewish guests.

So Jewish entrepreneurs built elaborate resorts in the area as close as 90 miles from New York City. Jewish immigrants moved to the area to try farming but, like the Fidelman family in the Midwest, ended up taking in boarders instead. Socialist worker's groups opened up bungalow colonies and children's camps.

The result was a wide range of options for Jewish tourists, who often returned to the same spot year after year, said Melissa Martens, a curator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, which organized the show.

"Some hotels might be seemingly very mainstream and might help fulfill American notions of equality and democracy and having made it, while other hotels might be a place where everybody speaks Yiddish or everybody speaks German, or there might be a synagogue on the premises or a visiting rabbi," Martens said.

"The Catskills becomes an incubator for Jewish-American culture because it was like a Jewish Brigadoon in the mountains where people could go and be as Jewish as they wanted or they could be as American as they wanted and there would probably be a hotel that suited them perfectly," she said.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Which University enrolls the largest number of Jewish students? YU? NYU!

Washington Square News

February 23, 2006

NYU enrolls the largest number of Jewish students of any public or private university in the nation, according to a recent study by the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
With an estimated undergraduate Jewish population of 6,500, NYU has about 1,100 more than the subsequent ranking public universities, the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Florida at Gainesville, and about 2,500 more than the subsequent ranking private university, Boston University, according to the survey released on Feb. 16.
Hillel also estimated that NYU has approximately 6,000 Jewish graduate students, making the university total 12,500 Jewish students — almost one third of the entire student population.
“It’s not surprising,” said Aviva Levine, program director at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. “New York is a natural location for young Jewish students to think about when they think about college.”
The Bronfman Center’s rabbi, Yehudah Sarna, said the center currently serves about 2,000 students on a regular basis, and nearly a fifth of the students that identify themselves as Jewish participate in activities at the center.
“I think it’s also important to understand the number ‘6,500,’ ” Sarna said. “It’s hard to define what a Jewish student is: someone with Jewish ancestry, someone who believes in the religion, someone who practices the religion or someone who is just interested in the cultural aspects.”
While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many Jewish students attend NYU, the numbers seem to be accurate, undergraduate admissions representatives said.
Levine said the university is composed of several overlapping Jewish communities instead of one definable community. The center tries to expose the university community as a whole to Jewish culture and heritage, she added.
SCPS junior Nicole Pines said the Friday night dinners for students who keep Kosher help foster a sense of community. The dinners usually attract about 300 people between services at the Weinstein dining hall, the Bronfman Center and the Chabad House combined, she said.
“The university and the Bronfman Center have done a great job of making the university attractive to young Jewish students who are seeking a vibrant college experience,” Levine said.
CAS senior Tamara Wenig said the frequent cultural programs and guest speakers offered by the center and the city drew her to NYU.
“I think what drew me was the fact that it was a very intimate community, which was what I was looking for,” Wenig said. “[This] is why New York is so great, because it is a very Jewish city.”
CAS freshman David Gromet said he came to NYU and New York City for their large Jewish communities, even though he does not participate in the Bronfman Center’s activities and services.
“Coming from a place where there was a fair amount of stigma attached to being Jewish, more so than New York, was definitely a reason that I came here — to just be able to be who I am without having to constantly justify myself or be a representative of my religion,” Gromet said.
The community ties and services offered to stricter Orthodox Jews contribute to the survey results, Sarna said.
“For 300 Orthodox students who keep strict kosher Shabbat rules and pray regularly, going to a college with no kosher facility or Orthodox services is virtually a nonoption,” Sarna said. “There are only 15 or so private [colleges] which have orthodox communities.”
NYU has steadily been increasing its Kosher dining options and recently revised the salad bar and meal options with the help of student input, Pines said.
Sarna said the Orthodox community at NYU has tripled in the last five years. Last year, five of the 20 largest feeder high schools to NYU were Orthodox high schools, according to the Bronfman Center. “Our mission is to be a home for Jewish students and a Jewish center for the whole university — Jewish, not Jewish and kind-of Jewish,” Sarna said. “We do that through promoting Jewish values campus-wide, such as the importance of education, community, democracy in the Middle East and social action.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Batiya Miryam Epstein - niece and 2nd wife of the Netziv of Volohzin & Mother of Meir Bar-Ilan

Batiya Miryam, the Rabbi's wife, named in Litvak Yiddish "The Rebetzin Bashe Mirl", was the second spouse of HANAZIV. She was a vital and powerful woman in her nature, character and energy. She stood by her husband's side and was of most significant assistance both in his private life as well as in the Rabbi's public activities, for more than twenty years.
Long before her ascendance to the Volozhin Rabbinical sphere she was already a remarkable person. As a young girl she was very unusual and unlike most young women, she possessed an intense enthusiasm and devotion to the Torah, thoughtful outlook on life and extra ordinary energy.
Bashe Mirl was born in Bobruysk to her father; Yekhiel Mikhael Haleyvi Epstein, the prodigious Rabbi. She was brought up in Novozikow, where her father became the town’s Rabbi. When she arrived to the age of matrimony, several young Jewish men from the wealthiest and most respected families asked for her hand in marriage. It was not surprising since she was good looking, intelligent, well educated and with good manners. She read and spoke Hebrew and knew in a certain measure the Russian language.
It turned out that those men did not impress the young maiden. She told her parents that she does not want a groom who will bring her richness, pleasures, beauty or bravery. Her single desire is to marry a scholar who dedicates his life to the Torah and Holy Scriptures.
Despite her pleas she became engaged and married a decent young man, son of a very well off family in the town of Tshernigov. He promised to dedicate all his time to Torah study according to his young wife's demands prior to their marriage.
A short time passed since the wedding and Bashe Mirl realized that her husband was reading some times in the holy books, but he did not posses any real wisdom inside him, and he had little ambition, he did not wish and maybe was unable to become a erudite scholar. The young wife stood up and told her husband and her father in law, that she is not ready to pass her life in house of richness and honor, but where Torah is absent. So she has to ask for a divorce.
She never wore the jewelry and she did not touch any of the beautiful dresses she received as gifts. When she was asked she perpetually claimed that she has nothing against her husband or his family, she was simply unable to live with an unlearned person. Her husband refused to grant her a divorce. Batiya – Mirl decided to leave his house and his town, and one day she did it.
The Russian law at that time allowed the husband to find and bring home his runaway wife accompanied by police escort. The husband with his father used this law and the police began a search for the rebel wife. She did not return to her parents' home, and she was hiding out for months until she had obtained the divorce. The parents were looking at their daughter behavior as very abnormal.
“Why are you leaving a fortune and a house full of worldly goods without a sufficient reason?”
Her parents and relatives asked “What will your prospective be as a runaway bride?”, Her answer to them was;
- “I would rather marry poor, undistinguished person or even an old man, but never someone who would neglect the Torah studies, because such a person, though he might be honored by some other people, I, Batia-Miryam, despise such people.”
In those days HANAZIV’s first wife passed away. A Yeshiva emissary from Volozhin, rabbi Dov from Slutsk, happened to visit the region where Bashe Mirl’s family lived. He was acquainted with the parents of the now famous divorcee.
Rabbi Dov from Slutsk heard the amazing story of the young woman whom despite her beauty, her youth and her intelligence, would prefer a life of poverty with Torah learned and God- fearing pauper instead of affluent and honored life with a Torah ignorant man. He immediately went to her parents' house to speak with them. He especially pleaded with her mother Mikhla who was the younger sister of the proposed groom, Hanaziv. He laid out his suggestion that their daughter should be married to the renowned Yeshiva head. Both of them, Mother and father became angry hearing the proposition of a match for their beautiful young daughter and an old man, thirty years older than the would be bride. However such a negative opinion on the subject was only expressed in discussions that her parents had.
She had never seen her old uncle, but his knowledge and erudition was renowned over the entire Jewish World, so she knew about him. "I should be dust at his feet; I will be his daughter and servant, should he only spread his wings over me. There cannot be more happiness for me as to be wife of this prodigy. Old age and hard life would do no harm to me if I only had the chance to be this Giant of the Torah – partner in life".
The emissary returned to Volozhin and suggested the marriage before the Rabbi. He did not finish to describe his proposition when he was interrupted by Hanaziv: Is it possible that a woman 30 years younger than I, and accustomed to the life of a big city, would consent to come to me?. I do not want to embark on fresh and altered way of life, and how could I do such evil did to the blood from my blood, to my sister's daughter?
But the emissary was very tenacious; he didn't stop to travel from Volozhin to Novozikov back and forth until a meeting was held in Molodetshno. And that is how a wonderful woman became the wife of a Rabbi of Volozhin – the "Volozhiner Rebetzin", Hanatziv's spouse.
As immense as her love for the Torah, equal became her love for charity work and justice. She was able to seat for many hours without a move hearing the voice and melody of the Torah study. She herself would persevere on the Holy Scriptures. Despite her continuous occupation with her house hold affairs and especially with the Yeshiva, she never subtracted her "day" of Psalms, and at the Shabbat days she would read two pages "Mikrah" and three "Unklos" Translations, also in Russian and German languages.
The Rebetzin was aware of all the troubles that the Yeshiva students encountered. She would always search for solutions to their problems. And when they complained she would comfort the young men by telling them of the bright future that awaited them when they would be rich in spirits and in Torah knowledge.
In case of serious illness, she would invite physicians' specialists from a big town and bring them into Volozhin to cure the sick Yeshiva students. So it's not a surprise that the young woman became renowned for her benevolence and energy.
The affection for the Rabbi's wife was fully demonstrated during her malady. The alarmed doctors could not find a remedy for her ilness. Hundreds of Volozhin men and women mingled with the Yeshiva students in a gathering . They cried, prayed and asked the Almighty who possessed healing gifts to save the beloved woman. A new name was added to her birt name; she was now called Haya-Batia-miryam. The crisis passed during the same evening. Healed she rose up that night.
Soon after their marriage Hanaziv asked her if she would consent to go with him to the Land of Israel. She agreed with enthusiasm, she would go not only to die there but to live in the Promised Land side by side with her great husband.
She came to Erets Israel, but not with him. Bashe Mirl ascended to the Holy Land years after her husband passed away. She lived there surrounded by her children and grand children.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Jim Joseph Foundation To Become One of the Largest Jewish Philanthropies

February 15, 2006
Foundation for Jewish Youth Gets Founder's $500 Million

The Jim Joseph Foundation is poised to become one of the biggest Jewish philanthropies in the country with the addition of more than $500 million in assets, all directed toward Jewish education and youth programs.
The money will significantly increase the foundation's expenditures, which have averaged about $550,000 a year over the last several years. The foundation will now direct about $25 million a year toward causes and programs for Jewish youths.
Mr. Joseph, a West Coast real estate investor and developer, "felt he wanted to try to touch every Jewish child in this country, and his thinking was that by developing programs for youth and children, it would in the future strengthen the Jewish community in the United States," said Alvin T. Levitt, a lawyer and longtime confidant of Mr. Joseph, who will become the president of the foundation's board.
Mr. Joseph started his foundation in 1987. Like most living foundation donors, he financed it annually, spending down each year almost all the money he put into it. But at his death in 2003, the bulk of his multimillion-dollar estate went to his foundation, which has received it only after his estate was settled in court.
Charles Edelsberg, the vice president of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, who will become the foundation's executive director next month, said the huge jump in assets gives the foundation an opportunity to have significant impact in two or three years. "What is appealing to me is that $25 million a year over 8 or 10 years is a quarter of a billion dollars, and that can make an impact," he said.
The foundation will give money not only to formal education programs but also to informal programs like camps and leadership groups.
It may also expand its giving to encompass programs for older youths, like Taglit-birthright Israel, which aims to send every Jewish child in North America between 18 and 25 on an educational trip to Israel.
"Birthright is currently oversubscribed," Mr. Edelsberg said. "Significant numbers of applicants in a given year can't go, so if we could fund it, we would have an immediate impact on hundreds and hundreds of young adults."

Rachel Kaufmann
Mendy Traxler.
Shadchun - Katrina

Sunday, February 12, 2006

'Art' Photo Is Not Subject to Privacy Law, Judge Finds

Nussenzweig v. diCorcia, 108446.05

Not all artists need be starving, a Manhattan judge has ruled.
A dispute between a top photographer and the Orthodox Jew whose picture he surreptitiously took at Times Square -- then sold 10 prints of at $20,000 to $30,000 each -- turned on the question of whether the photograph constitutes commerce or art.
As commerce, the picture would be subject to the restrictions set forth in New York's right-to-privacy laws; as art, it would not.
The disputed photograph, Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische has ruled, is art.
"New York has been fairly liberal in its protection of what constitutes art," Justice Gische held in Nussenzweig v. diCorcia, 108446.05.
New York courts have "recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character," Gische noted. "This analysis recognizes that first amendment protection of art is not limited to only starving artists. ... A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used for trade purposes."
Defendant Philip-Lorca diCorcia's show "HEADS" appeared at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea in September and October 2001. The exhibition featured photographs of 17 people taken without their knowledge in New York, Tokyo, Calcutta and Mexico City.
The photographs, tightly focused on their individual subjects and printed at four-feet-by-five-feet, created uncommonly intimate likenesses.
In addition to the Pace exhibition, the photos appeared in a catalogue and numerous advertisements and reviews.
Plaintiff Emo Nussenzweig, a Hasidic Jew with a deep conviction that the use of his image violates the Second Commandment's prohibition against graven images, learned of the use of his portrait in 2005.
Shortly thereafter, he initiated the present proceeding, alleging that diCorcia and catalogue publisher Pace/MacGill violated his rights to privacy under New York law.
The defendants contended that the one-year statute of limitations precluded the suit: The photographs were published in September 2001, and Nussenzweig filed his suit in 2005. In response, Nussenzweig argued that the statute did not begin to run until he learned of the exhibition.
Gische agreed with the defense, noting that for privacy claims in the First Department, the clock starts with the first unauthorized use. However, noting a split between departments, she opted to consider the merits of Nussenzweig's claim.
The defense conceded that the claim satisfied three of the four requirements of the privacy law: It used Nussenzweig's portrait without his consent within the state of New York. However, the defense contended, the picture was not used for "advertising purposes or for trade," as required by law.
Gische agreed.
"Even while recognizing art as exempted from the reach of New York's privacy laws, the problem of sorting out what may or may not legally be 'art' remains a difficult one," she wrote.
"In Hoepker v. Kruger [200 FSupp2d 340], the court recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character," Gische held. "The analysis in Hoepker is consistent with the primary purpose/incidental purpose doctrines, that have developed in connection with the newsworthy exemptions to privacy protections."
Though she dismissed the case, Gische wrote that she felt sympathetic to Nussenzweig's concerns.
"Clearly, plaintiff finds the use of the photograph bearing his likeness deeply and spiritually offensive," she concluded. "The sincerity of his beliefs is not questioned by defendants or this court. While sensitive to plaintiff's distress, it is not redressable in the courts of civil law. In this regard, the courts have uniformly upheld Constitutional First Amendment protections, even in the face of a deeply offensive use of someone's likeness."
Solo practitioner Georges G. Lederman represented Pace/MacGill.
Kenneth Schacter of Bingham McCutchen and Lawrence C. Barth of the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson represented diCorcia.
The decision "strikes the proper balance between New York's privacy law and the First Amendment's protections for artistic protection," Barth said. "The court understood and reaffirmed the principal that an artist's rights, just like other free speech rights, can't be curtailed by state law. So we're very pleased by the result."
Jay Goldberg represented Nussenzweig.
"I think people have to be very careful when they walk on the street that their tie matches their suit, because people have the right to take pictures no matter how flattering or unflattering," Goldberg said Thursday of the decision. "[Mr. Nussenzweig] has lost control over his own image. It's a terrible invasion to me. The last thing a person has is his own dignity."
Goldberg said that he plans to appeal.
Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund of Lemberg

Dutch stamps with 2 second videos

Click to view

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Reb Chaim Brisker & Einstein

Dr. Jakob Grommer was a student of Reb Chaim Brisker(Soloveichik) He was also a student and assistant to Albert Einstein. [ Making of a Godol - page 738]

Dr. Grommer correspondence - Albert Einstein Archives

Friday, February 10, 2006

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.: Cartoon nonsense

WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- Contemplate this: A Danish newspaper in September publishes some cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Four months later Muslims, mostly Arab, get wind of this event and riot, burning Danish flags and attacking embassies, mostly Danish, but thus far also an Austrian Embassy. Apparently geography is one of the many subjects not studied very attentively in Arab schools. At any rate, as the riots intensify local governments can apparently do nothing. Most of these governments, for instance the Syrian, are famously repressive. Yet in this instance they are impotent against the dirty-necked galoots burning flags and howling in the streets of their cities. Some of the governments issue diplomatic demands to the Danish government.
Now here is the kicker. From Tehran comes word that Iran's best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has announced a cartoon competition. The cartoon competition will endeavor to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust. You might well ask: How did the Holocaust become entoiled in this controversy? What do six-million murdered Jews have to do with Danish cartoonists depicting a Prophet who lived 1,400 years ago? Officials at the Iranian newspaper also dragged America and Israel into their rants. Are America and Israel the real powers behind Denmark?
Analysis of this irrational outburst will continue for weeks. Already the point has been made that there are depictions of the Prophet Mohammad in museums throughout the world and that many of the depictions were created by pious Muslims. So the claims that it is sacrilegious to depict the Prophet are nonsense. And the point has been made that throughout Islam's long history Muslims have joked about religion. So the claims that it is sacrilegious to joke about Islam are nonsense.
Other earnest analysts will tussle with the chronology of these events, the persona involved, and their various explications of the cartoons, of the demonstrations, and, who knows, possibly of the attack on the Austrian Embassy. Back in Tehran, editors at Hamshahri might wonder aloud: "Did not the demonstrators know that the Austrian Embassy is sacred soil? Was not the late Adolf Hitler an Austrian before he met his 72 maidens?" But there is a larger matter to contend with as the mobs of young men rage through the streets, even trying to mount their protests in places such as London. That is that Islam, particularly Islam as practiced in Arab countries, embraces a vast number of very angry young men.
The Islamicist agitators have two sources of power: the lone terrorist willing to blow himself up and the mob of young men willing to riot. It is these two instrumentalities that the Islamicist leaders rely on to acquire influence and power. These two instrumentalities are alarming, but take heart. They are also the conditions of a decadent, dysfunctional culture. Death and destruction do not create civilizations or prosperous societies or even a conquering army. Frankly, though I am no theologian, I doubt they can create heaven on earth. They are the death rattle of a dead culture.
Why so many of the countries dominated by Islam are in such a heap is a good question. Economists claim that it is because Islam does not encourage entrepreneurship. Neoconservatives argue that these countries have been denied democracy because of the rule of tyrants. And there are sociologists who perceive a deeper cause, the ancient patriarchy of these countries.
In places such as Syria, which is mostly Arab, and Iran, which is not, old men rule their families and their clans. They keep women and girls in the background. They keep young men in inferior status, despite the young men's talents and energies. The consequence is a lot of angry, frustrated young men. Such young men are available for riot at the drop of a . well, at the drop of a cartoon.
Whether the economists are right in their analysis or the Neocons or the sociologists, or any other gogues that might offer up an analysis, one thing is eminently clear. The peoples in such a rage over Danish cartoonists are a deeply troubled people. They are incapable of reason or even of governing themselves. They are the enemy of civilization, whether it be Western civilization or some civilized order that might emerge in the Middle East. I hope the Europeans who have been so critical of our military action in Iraq and Afghanistan take note. The Islamofascists are as great a danger as was Hitler, who left Europe in the kind of desolate chaos that the Islamofascists adumbrate.

Original article

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Film: Jewish Life in Krakow - 1939

People going about their everyday lives 6 months before the start of the war.

Click and watch
Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski - Alcohol, Drugs, and Morality Among Orthodox Teens

42:24 minutes

Click and Listen
Mr. Tzig, Thank you for the link.
Steep price drop for the original Making of a Godol

Making of a Godol - Original Edition

Making of a Godol - Improved Edition
News Report of pogrom of 1905 in the Guardian-UK

Days of terror

Barbarous massacre in Odessa Jews wiped out

Monday November 6, 1905

The events in the suburbs of Moldavanka, Slobodka, and Bugaieoka last night were of a most terrible nature. Immense bands of ruffians, accompanied by policemen, invaded all the Jewish houses and mercilessly slaughtered the occupants.
Men and women were barbarously felled and decapitated with axes. Children were torn limb from limb and their brains dashed out against the walls. The streets were littered with the corpses which were hurled out of the windows. The houses of the murdered Jews were then systematically destroyed, not the smallest piece of furniture being left intact. In this way the Jewish population of the district was wiped out.
In the poorest quarter of the town the inhabitants began to massacre the students. The newly formed citizen militia offered some resistance and saved the lives of many of the students. The police, however, appeared on the scene, and after disarming the militia shot them all with their own revolvers, thereby leaving a free field to the hooligans, who behaved more like wild beats than men.
It is impossible to estimate the number of those killed in the rioting, but the total must be enormous. The number of wounded can, however, he ascertained from the number of patients in the various hospitals. In the Jewish Hospital this morning 3,715 cases, most of them serious, were under treatment; in the Municipal Hospital 1,140, and at the different ambulance stations 682.
The number of hooligans killed is roughly 120. A visit to the Jewish quarters of Moldavanka and Slobodka shows how completely the work of destruction has been done. All the Jewish houses there have been destroyed. Yesterday four waggons full of killed, each containing 30 corpses, were driven to the cemeteries, and 189 bodies have been removed to-day.
The magnitude of the outbreak is unprecedented, and a citizens' committee has been organised to relieve the distress. Temporary refuges have been formed for the survivors, and homes are being sought for the orphans.