April 16, 2015

Being with Ghetto Fighters on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day

Detail from Yad Layeled children's museum and memorial, Israel

I joined more than 6,000 people at the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day Annual Assembly at Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot (Ghetto Fighters) in the Western Galilee. In 1949, Holocaust survivors from Poland and Lithuania, the last remaining survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, partisans, prisoners of concentration camps, those who went into hiding using a false identity, and those who escaped to the USSR founded the kibbutz.

I captured this image at the kibbutz Yad Layeled museum, which guides young visitors from age 10 through experiences of children who lived during the Nazi's ghastly genocide plan against European Jews, the Final Solution. Never again. Remember.

Related post
In Tel Aviv: Holocaust (Shoah) Remembrance Day

April 10, 2015

Passover and Easter in Neve Zedek Quarter, Tel Aviv


During these Passover and Easter spring festivals — with their rich traditions and meanings, "Father" Yakir feeds matzot to pigeons. We found a package of this seasonal unleavened bread on a bench with minimal, uh, droppings on the seat. 

March 04, 2015

"There is a balm in Gilead" — in Israel's Arava desert


Biblical balm of Gilead bush in Israel's Arava desert
"Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?" (Jeremiah 8:22)

"There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul." (African American spiritual, chorus)

This young biblical balm of Gilead bush is growing in experimental fields of Israel's Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. (The Arava is the sparsely populated long desert valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, a northern extension of the Red Sea.)
Today, some medical and botanical researchers and biblical and archeological scholars believe that the balm of Gilead, or "golden" balsam oil, was one of the most expensive commodities in the ancient world and prized above any metal. Its sap turns golden color when processed, and has been used for millennia (like frankincense and myrrh) in perfumes and as holy oil, offerings, and health remedies.

January 19, 2015

On Dr. King's birthday: What Selma meant to Jews like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, right, marches with Dr. King
and other civil rights leaders / Getty Images

Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). A model of nonviolent liberation from oppression, Reverend Dr. King opened a door, inviting all Americans to join in unity against segregation and racism.

On the historic march from Selma to Montgomery (March 18, 1965), under U.S. Military protection, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel joined spiritual leaders of multiple races, religions, and creeds marching abreast with Dr. King, Ralph Bunche, John Lewis, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Rev. C.T. Vivian, and followed by 2,300 citizens. Heschel famously said, “For many of us the march was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”

Heschel's daughter, Dr. Susannah Heschel, writes in the Jewish Daily Forward what that march signified to King, to Jews like her father, and to all who sought (and seek) justice. And who call for accuracy in depicting history.

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December 19, 2014

Jewish-Arab Kindergarten in Israel



I first published this post on January 11, 2008.

The backstory on my video
From Jerusalem, Judith's email served as inspiration.
Forget all the dark things in the news about the ME [Middle East]. This recording of my friend's nephew Shlomi's little girls outshines them all. Shir and Shaked attend the Jewish-Arab kindergarten in Beersheba [in Israel's Negev desert]. Shlomi recorded them singing
in Arabic, Hebrew, and English the classic English-language nursery song Put your hands on your head while he played the keyboard. I am attaching a sound file that you can put on your blog, with proper recognition of the artists! 

Remembering Asher Green with love
I dedicate this post and video to the memory of Asher Green (whose mother sent the email and sound file). Asher's multiple talents and adventurous spirit led him to study at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York City. He had also studied stage design in London, and film and art in Jerusalem. Asher was planning to volunteer in Southeast Asia as part of a project to teach street children restaurant skills. He had hoped to open a similar program in Jerusalem for low-income Israeli and Palestinian teens.

אשר בן יהודית וג'ף. יהי זכרו ברוך
Asher ben Yehudit v'Jeff. Yehi zichro barukh.
Asher, son of Judith and Jeff. May his memory be a blessing.

Related Post
An Israeli Arab "Profile in Courage": Marwan Amer