‘I Disagree With Him But I Love Him’

Niece of man saved by Dutchman who returned Yad Vashem medal says, ‘He is a righteous man’

Henk Zanoli, 91, who returned his Righteous Among the Nations medal to Yad Vashem last week. (Twitter)

If it weren’t for the efforts of Rivka Ben-Pazi, the role Henk Zanoli played in saving her uncle Elhanan Pinto Hameiri’s life during the Holocaust might never have come to light, nor would the Dutchman and his late mother have been awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal from Yad Vashem in 2011 for his courage.

So when news broke last week that 91-year-old Zanoli had returned the award in protest of Israel’s operation in Gaza after six relatives of his were killed in an Israeli air strike in July, Ben Pazi was torn.

“He is a tzadik (a righteous man). He saved my uncle and I dont want to judge him during his pain and mourning,” Ben-Pazi told me in the first interview given by a relative of Hameiri’s. “I don’t agree with him, but I’m trying to understand him during this moment.” (more…)

Etgar Keret on the Language of the Gaza War

The Israeli novelist says we should use the word ‘compromise,’ not ‘peace’

Etgar Keret. (Yanai Yechiel)

Etgar Keret was interviewed by Granta last week, and the Israeli writer and Tablet contributor shared some characteristically sharp insights about fiction, his family, and the recent Israeli operation in Gaza.

He admitted to London-born writer and editor Sophie Lewis that since the conflict began more than a month ago, he hasn’t had any of his usual whimsical ideas for stories. In fact, all he has written are opinion pieces, originally published in Hebrew outlets and republished in places like the New Yorker and the L.A. Times. (more…)

Lauren Bacall, I Love You

And after years not caring about such things, I loved learning you were Jewish

Screen legend Lauren Bacall on September 13, 2007 in Toronto, Canada.(Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images)

When I was growing up in the 1950s, I knew all the movie stars who were Jewish but just somehow weren’t showing it in their names. Maybe that was because my family lived in L.A., home of the movies and a Jewish community absolutely catapulting itself into stellar new realms of achievement.

But it wasn’t the Jewish scientists or violinists or businessmen I was most aware of. It was the movie stars, and those who had changed their names, who most fascinated my mother, Pearl.

I don’t mean Eddie Cantor and Jack Benny and folks like that where it’s obvious. I’m talking about Tony Curtis (Bernie Schwartz) and Kirk Douglas—get ready for this one: Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch—and so forth. (more…)


Sam Harris reminds Andrew Sullivan to choose his words wisely on Gaza

An Israeli army armoured personnel carrier drives along Israel's border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on August 4, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, as the fighting in Gaza was raging on, Sam Harris posted a thoughtful essay titled “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?”. Andrew Sullivan replied. Sensing the possibility of a robust conversation, and neither man having a reputation for shying away from confrontation, Sullivan and Harris got on the phone for a 90-minute chat about Gaza. What followed was one of the finest pieces of contemporary theater I’ve read in years, equally remarkable for Harris’s level-headed and intelligent replies as it is for Sullivan’s rants, defying logic and morality in a wild effort to portray the Jewish State as a genocidal demon. (more…)

Man Returns Yad Vashem Medal Over Gaza War

Dutch Righteous Among the Nations cited death of relatives in Israeli strikes

Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel(Yad Vashem)

In 2011, Henk Zanoli received Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations award for saving a Jewish child during the Nazi occupation of Holland. On Monday, Haaretz reports, the 91-year-old Dutch attorney returned the medal and certificate given to him by the Israeli institution, citing the death of six of his relatives in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Zanoli and his late mother, Johana Zanoli-Smit, received the medal for hiding Elhanan Pinto, born in 1932, in their home from the spring of 1943 until Holland’s liberation in 1945. (more…)

Warsaw Will Return 1,000 Gravestones to Jewish Cemetery

The looted matzevot had been used to build a structure in a city park

Warsaw's Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery(Wikimedia)

The city of Warsaw has announced plans to recover 1,000 gravestones, or matzevot, that were taken from the city’s Jewish cemetery and used to build a structure in a city park. The gravestones, JTA reports, are “currently part of a pergola and stairs at a park in Warsaw’s Praga district.” The city plans to return the matzevot to the Jewish cemetery.

The city’s change of heart was the result of months of campaigning by an organization called From the Depths, whose Matzeva Project locates and restores misused Jewish gravestones across Poland.

The practice of removing Jewish gravestones from cemeteries and using them for other purposes was actually quite common in Poland since the 1940s. (more…)

A Map of Jewish Literary New York City

Graphic pinpoints iconic scenes from novels, writers’ homes, and more

Scene from All-of-a-Kind Family outside the New York Public Library. (Helen John, from All-of-a-Kind Family, Random House)

So much of Jewish literary culture—the writers, the scenes, the references–are rooted in New York City, it’s a wonder no one ever thought to map it all out before. The Jewish Book Council has taken the project on, producing a Jewish Literary Map, an impressive graphic that “marks the landmarks, descriptions, and allusions found in the works of some of our heritage’s greatest writers.”

Highlights are Isaac Bashevis Singer’s longtime home in the Belnord on West 86th Street (the block now bears the Yiddish writer’s name), the All-of-a-Kind Family’s East River, the Williamsburg synagogues of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, and Portnoy’s City Hall. More recent entries skew delightfully female, and come courtesy of authors Nicole Krauss, Dara Horn, and Molly Antopol. The map also pinpoints Nathaniel P’s hyper-contemporary Brooklyn, as rendered by novelist Adelle Waldman. (more…)

Europe’s Jews: Endangered But Empowered

The climate is tense, but Europe’s Jewish leaders are more engaged than ever

A girl waves an Israel national flag and a French national flag during a pro-Israel demonstration organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) outside the Jewish state's embassy on July 31, 2014. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

For many observers, Europe is once again on a path to becoming Judenrein. Rocked by a series of ugly attacks targeting Jews and the rise of political extremism, the fatal shooting of four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels, and widespread riots as the war between Israel and Hamas raged, all the signs point towards a possibly significant departure of Jews. Government leaders, commentators and Jewish organizations laudably demand high-level interventions and the need to protect Jewish facilities and Jews themselves from the onslaught.

Yet there is another fascinating and important side to this dynamic—Jewish empowerment on a scale never imagined after the Holocaust and decades of Communist oppression. In fact, for the last three decades, Europe’s emerging Jewish leaders have been molded at a Jewish summer camps, educational and leadership development classes, synagogues, holiday festivals, and other activities that were created and invested in, by the tens of millions, by organizations and philanthropists who wanted to help revive Jewish civilization in this part of the world. (more…)

ADL: Surge in Global Anti-Semitism

Report lists anti-Semitic incidents outside the U.S. during Gaza operation

Man removes 'Free Gaza' graffiti from Holocaust memorial in Gorinchem, Netherlands. (gp-foto)

The Anti-Defamation League has issued a report citing a “dramatic surge” in global anti-Semitic incidents and attacks on Jewish institutions during Israel’s operation in Gaza in July and August. “From France to the Argentina, from Canada to Chile, synagogues were attacked, Jewish cultural centers were vandalized, Jewish shops were threatened and identifiably Jewish individuals beaten on the street,” ADL National Director Abe Foxman said.

The report, which lists anti-Semitic incidents outside the United States over the past two months, paints a bleak picture of the current global landscape for Jews. While it’s not entirely surprising that anti-Semitic incidents spike during an Israeli military operation, particularly one in which the Palestinian casualty count is so high, or that anti-Israel protests devolve so quickly into anti-Semitism, the scope of countries included on the list is certainly troubling. (more…)

My Complicated Relationship With ‘Annie Hall’

I know Woody Allen’s 1977 film is a classic, but I just can’t seem to enjoy it

(Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in 1977's Annie Hall)

My relationship with Annie Hall got off to a rocky start. Last January, home with a cold on a Sunday morning during winter break, I figured I’d use the opportunity to relax, curl up in bed, and watch the film that I had heard so much about. When I finished, though, I felt worse than when I’d started.

There were parts that I really enjoyed, such Keaton’s performance as Annie, but any enjoyment I had was clouded by Alvy’s portrayal of the neurotic New York Jew, which I found irksome and headache-inducing. I realized that this may have been the point, that the character wasn’t supposed to be entirely likeable, but nevertheless, I couldn’t get past my annoyance. I wrote the movie off as a particular shtick that many might love but that just didn’t appeal to me.

But this past week, as I asked around for recommendations of the next Jewish classic to write about, all anyone could talk about was Annie Hall. (more…)

Writer and Activist Leonard Fein Dies at 80

Longtime Forward columnist co-founded Moment magazine with Elie Wiesel

(Leonard Fein)

Leonard Fein, prominent Jewish activist, author and thinker, died Thursday morning at the age of 80, the Forward reports.

A longtime columnist for the Forward, Fein was still writing for the publication as recently as last week. Fein was also responsible for several significant contributions to American Jewish life. While teaching political science, social policy and Jewish studies at Brandeis in 1975, Fein worked with Elie Wiesel to co-found Moment magazine, a publication of Jewish politics, culture and religion; he also served as the magazine’s first editor. In 1985 Fein founded Mazon, a national Jewish nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the U.S. and Israel, and in 1997 he founded the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, a group that fights against illiteracy by organizing volunteer tutoring programs for at-risk children. (more…)

Last Call: Apply for a Fall Internship at Tablet

We’re hiring two paid, part-time editorial interns at our New York office


Tablet is hiring two paid, part-time fall editorial interns. If you have experience in journalism and are familiar with the landscape of American Jewish life, we’d love to hear from you. (more…)

LA Memorial for U.S.-Born IDF Soldier Killed in Gaza Draws 1,000

Max Steinberg, 24, was killed in July during gunfire with Hamas in Gaza City

Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade Max Steinberg, draped with Israel's national flag, during his funeral on July 23 2014 at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

A Los Angeles memorial for Max Steinberg, the 24-year-old IDF soldier from Southern California who was killed last month in Gaza, drew a crowd of 1,000 as family, friends, and strangers gathered to honor the lone soldier, who had moved to Israel two years earlier. Steinberg was killed during the second week of Operation Protective Edge in July, when his unit, the Golani Brigade, exchanged heavy fire with Hamas gunmen in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya. The confrontation led to 13 Golani casualties, a major blow for the IDF and to the Israeli public.

Steinberg’s funeral in Jerusalem drew 35,000 people, many of whom were moved by his personal story: He went on Birthright in 2012, made aliyah one year later and joined the IDF. (more…)

Tiny French Hamlet is Called ‘Death to the Jews’

Simon Wiesenthal Center wants La-Mort-aux-Juifs to change its name ASAP

La-Mort-aux-Juifs in France. (WSJ)

A tiny hamlet 60 miles south of Paris has a very strange name, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center wants them to change it. La-Mort-aux Juifs, which translates to ‘Death to the Jews,’ consists of a farm and three houses, and according to the Wall Street Journal has been so named since the 11th century.

Perhaps inspired by the Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios’ (‘Camp Kill Jews’) recent vote to change its name in response to public pressure (they went with the rather uninspired ‘Hill of the Jews’), the LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has written to France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve asking him to consider a new name for the hamlet. (more…)

The Little League Legend Who Lied

‘Kid Danny’ opens up in filmmaker Andrew Cohn’s new ESPN documentary

Danny Almonte (C) and other members of the Rolando Paulino All-Stars Bronx Little League baseball team hold their keys to the city during a ceremony honoring the team August 28, 2001 in New York City.(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Andrew Cohn’s new 30 for 30 short film, Kid Danny, which was posted today on Grantland, tells the story of Danny Almonte, a Dominican-born little league pitcher whose unstoppable slingshot arm helped his team from the Bronx reach the U.S. Little League World Series Championship in 2001.

Almonte was an absolute force on the pitcher’s mound, striking out 62 of the 72 batters he faced​, and pitching the first perfect game in Little League World Series competition since 1957. His team became known as the “Baby Bombers” for their proximity to the Yankees, and even received a key to the city from then-mayor Giuliani.

Along the way, however, Almonte’s record-setting performances raised questions about his age and ultimately his eligibility. (more…)

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