Holocaust Museum Connects Long-Lost Relatives

Flooded by information requests, D.C. museum researchers scour the archives

Tower of Faces at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of USHMM)

As a child, Beth Rosen heard stories of her father’s first cousin Mary, who jumped off a transport train and survived the Holocaust by pretending she was Catholic. Rosen had written a young adult novel based on Mary’s experiences, and she hoped to visit Mary’s gravestone in Toronto, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to find the gravestone without further information about Mary.

She emailed the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in May with just Mary’s maiden name and year and place of birth. In two days, she received 28 documents from Mary’s past. Among these documents, Rosen found the birth certificate of Mary’s older son, Richard Czerwinski, which stated that he had been born in a DP camp in 1946. Rosen had heard from a relative that Mary had two sons, but she hadn’t known any more than that until seeing the documentation. (more…)

Crisis of Confidence for British Jewry

Britain’s Jews cope with anti-Semitic backlash triggered by Gaza operation

Protesters display placards and banners as they take part in demonstration against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in central London on July 19, 2014 against Gaza strikes. (CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

The British Jewish community is suffering a crisis of confidence, its sense of security shaken by the anti-Semitic backlash triggered by the Gaza war. The last month has produced a spike in recorded antisemitic incidents: in Scotland, more in one week alone than in the whole of last year. Synagogues have been defaced; a protest was even planned (though later called off) opposite Cambridge Synagogue. Signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany have been depressingly commonplace. A branch of the grocery store Sainsbury’s briefly removed its kosher section, for fear the food would be destroyed by protestors outside, as had happened in other supermarkets.

Together, these events have left many Jews scratching their heads, bewildered. (more…)

Football With a Dash of Jewish Stereotyping

N.F.L commentator makes ‘Jews are cheap’ joke during preseason game

Vance McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during a preseason game on August 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Football fans listening to a radio broadcast of Sunday’s preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers got more than the usual color commentary in the final minutes of the game. Deadspin reports that when Chargers play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin commented on how many attendees had left San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium before the game was over, noting the expensive preseason ticket prices, longtime San Diego Chargers radio analyst Hank Bauer responded, naturally, with a Jewish joke.

Here’s how it went. (more…)

Egyptian Actor Kisses ScarJo, Betrays People

Amr Waked’s Lucy smooch lands him in hot water online

Amr Waked attends the 'Il padre e lo stranie' premiere during The 5th International Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 30, 2010 in Rome, Italy. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

There are many ways to betray your people, but making out with a gorgeous movie star is probably the most fun. After the Egyptian actor Amr Waked portrayed a rugged French detective in Luc Besson’s Lucy, he became the target of a social media storm, with commenters from across the Arab world accusing him of being a spy, a traitor, and an Israeli agent.

The reason for this ire was a 12-second scene in which Waked locked lips with his co-star, Scarlett Johansson, she of the SodaStream campaign, which, in the crazy intersection of Internet hyperbole and political idiocy, was enough to make Waked a Benedict Arnold to the Palestinian cause. (more…)

Anti-Semitic Fliers Appear in Sydney Mailboxes

Residents in areas with large Jewish populations receive unsettling letter

Knox Street in Double Bay, Australia. (Wikimedia)

Residents in the Sydney neighborhoods of Bondi Beach and Double Bay received some unsettling mail this week. JTA reports that anti-Semitic fliers were discovered in mailboxes across the two neighborhoods, which both boast sizable Jewish populations.

“Wake up Australia,” reads the flyer. “Jews have been kicked out of countries 109 times through history. … Could it be that having them in a European country is harmful to the host?” (more…)

Entenmann’s Factory Shuttering on Long Island

Kosher-certified baked goods company closing plant after nearly a century

Entenmann's products. (Flickr/Jen Gallardo)

A kosher staple is closing up shop on Long Island. Entenmann’s is shuttering its Bay Shore factory, the baked goods company’s only Long Island facility, after nearly a century of operation, Newsday reports. William Entenmann Jr. opened a bake shop in 1924 in Bay Shore, later expanding the enterprise with a factory on five acres nearby. His father, William Entenmann, opened the first Entenmann’s bakery in 1898 in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

“The bakery was closed because it can no longer effectively compete in the market,” said David Margulies, spokesman for Entenmann’s parent company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, which bought Entenmann’s in 2009. “The transition was smooth, with no disruption to the marketplace.” (more…)

Protesters Disrupt Chicago Pro-Israel Event

Jewish Voice for Peace members heckle Rahm Emanuel and Michael Oren

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks on April 22, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Motorola Mobility)

A “Chicago Stands with Israel” event Thursday featuring speakers like Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren drew more than 600 paying guests, a small group of whom had their own agenda for the evening.

As the speakers addressed the audience, a group of protesters, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up two at a time, shouting things like “We are Jews, shame on you, end the occupation now.” After they were briskly removed by security, another group of protesters would rise, chanting similar slogans while waving orange banners with words like “Shame.” At least five groups stood up, and by the end event-goers started swatting protesters with napkins and throwing water at them. The whole thing was captured on video. (more…)

Letter From an IDF Soldier in Gaza

‘None of us wanted war, but when Israel was under attack we were proud to be able to defend the country we love’

Israeli soldiers walk by foot near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as they return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave on August 4, 2014 during a humanitarian ceasefire. (GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The following is a letter written by Jonathan, a 24-year-old who grew up in suburban Maryland, to his family. He is currently in Israel serving in the Israeli Defense Forces as a sergeant in the Givati Brigade. He is one of hundreds of American volunteer soldiers in the IDF known as “lone soldiers.” His unit has served in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.

August 9th, 2014

I’ve wanted to write this since I left Gaza. (more…)

Temple University Investigating Alleged Anti-Semitic Incident

Jewish student says he was punched at Students for Justice in Palestine booth

Temple University welcome week, 2014. (Facebook)

Temple University is investigating an incident that allegedly involved “physical violence and and anti-Semitic statements,” the Philadelphia university said in a statement.

An altercation broke out last Wednesday near a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) table during a welcome event for freshman students. Daniel Vessal, a member and former vice president of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, told the website TruthRevolt that he approached the table and a discussion devolved into violence. Vessal said he was punched in the face by someone at the SJP table, and was called a “Zionist pig,” “racist,” and “baby killer.” (more…)

Rothschild and Hilton Dynasties to Merge

Socialite Nicky Hilton engaged to Jewish banking heir James Rothschild

Rothschild family coat of arms. (Wikimedia)

Remember how you used to read those the Isaac Bashevis Singer short stories as a kid and there was always someone (usually one of the Wise Men of Chelm) who would talk about how someone else was “richer than Rothschild?”

But who was this mysterious Rothschild? I went to my mother, who explained to me that the Rothschilds were a very famous family of very rich Jews who invented banking and lived all over the world. “They are the fanciest Jews who ever lived,” she said. Might I grow up and marry one someday, I inquired. She shrugged. “Sure! You’re Jewish. Why not? They could do a lot worse!” (more…)

Terror Financing Trial Underway in Brooklyn

U.S. relatives of Hamas terror victims take Arab Bank to court

A picture taken on August 16, 2014 shows the Arab Bank's main offices in the Jordanian capital, Amman. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

This week, after a decade of legal tango, the Jordanian-based Arab Bank found itself on trial in Brooklyn over allegations it funded Hamas’ terror activities that injured and killed American citizens in Israel from 2001 to 2004.

The victims and their families contend that Arab Bank provided funds to people and organizations with known links to Hamas. The Arab Bank denies the claim. (more…)

Remembering Photographer Rebecca Lepkoff

New York City native chronicled the captivating, everyday world around her

14th Street, New York City, 1947. (Copyright Rebecca Lepkoff, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery)

Rebecca Lepkoff was a modern dance student and 23-year-old recent City College graduate when she decided to earn a few extra bucks by dancing at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. She scraped together the money she earned and bought her first camera—a second-hand Voigtlander—and immediately took to the streets of her native city to document the lives of fellow New Yorkers, a lifelong project that resulted in one of the more intimate and personal photographic records of New York’s Lower East Side produced in the last century. Lepkoff died last weekend, a few days after her 98th birthday.

The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Lepkoff grew up in a tenement on Hester Street. Her father was a tailor and the family bounced around various Lower East Side addresses as they struggled to improve their circumstances. She got married in 1941, settling in a nearby tenement on Cherry Street, where she had three children and focused her lens on the world she inhabited, knew, and loved, documenting the ordinary denizens of the city. (more…)

Four-Year-Old Israeli Boy Killed in Mortar Strike

Several more injured when rocket from Gaza struck Ashdod synagogue

A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising from the remains of a mortar fired by Palestinian militants into Israel on August 22, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The rocket fire on Israel continued on Friday, with more than 70 rocket and mortars fired from Gaza by late afternoon.

A four-year-old boy was killed in a mortar strike on a kibbutz near the border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, as rockets and mortars continued to rain into Israel on the 46th day of Operation Protective Edge.

The strike came not long after residents of Gaza border communities began a protest vigil outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, demanding security for themselves and their families. (more…)

Hamas Executes ‘Collaborators’ in Streets of Gaza

18 Gazans murdered in wake of IDF strike that killed top Hamas officers

Armed Palestinian masked militants push back a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque in Gaza City after Friday prayers on August 22, 2014, before executing 18 men for allegedly helping Israel in its six-week assault on the Palestinian enclave. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

18 Gazans were rounded up and summarily executed by Hamas gunmen on Friday on suspicion of collaborating with Israel’s security services, less than two days after two of the top commanders of the Hamas armed wing were killed in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip.

AFP quoted witnesses in Gaza as saying that six of the men were grabbed out of a crowd of hundreds at a Gaza City mosque and were gunned down outside the mosque after being accused of collaborating with Israel. Reuters reported a total of seven men were executed outside Omari mosque on Palestine Square in the city and that another 11 were killed at an abandoned police station outside of town, quoting Hamas security officials. (more…)

Watching ‘The Producers,’ Nearly 50 Years Later

Mel Brooks’ 1968 film evoked laughs in the face of the obscene. It still does today.

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel in the 1968 film, 'The Producers.' (MGM/IMDb)

When I sat down to watch The Producers last weekend, I was prepared for the humor to be somewhat obscene. Having already seen Spaceballs and History of the World Part I, I was familiar with Mel Brooks’ style. But The Producers reached an entirely new level. I love Brooks’ sense of humor, but still I wondered if it was OK to laugh—while wincing—when the female SS officers dance in a Swastika formation during the first performance of Springtime for Hitler. Still, my discomfort was short-lived, and I didn’t find it too difficult to decide to just laugh at and enjoy the film.

My proximity to the film’s subject matter perhaps helped make me feel more comfortable laughing along with The Producers. (more…)

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