Posted by Tom Tugend
My only encounter with Nelson Mandela was on June 29, 1990 at the Biltmore Hotel, and the initial impression was more comical than awe-inspiring.
The reserved, soft-spoken Mandela, released only four months earlier after 27 years in South African prisons, stood next to the bouncy Sharansky, towering over the former refusenik by a good foot, while a battery of photographers tried to get the two men’s faces into the same closeup frame.
It wasn’t certain, until the last minute, that the meeting would come off. Mandela had less that 24 hours in Los Angeles, part of a 10-day
tour of the United States, and everybody wanted a piece of the international celebrity.
In addition, though he was allied with many South African Jews throughout his struggle, Mandela had shown little sympathy for the Jewish state in recent statements.
One of the first international visitors to embrace Mandela after his prison release was Yasser Arafat, another short guy and head of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
On this and earlier occasions, Mandela compared the struggle of his African National Congress (ANC) to the Palestinian fight for self-determination against the Israeli occupiers.
To emphasize the point, Mandela had also praised Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Cuba’s Fidel Castro as “comrades in arms.”
However, the Jewish community and Israeli diplomats hoped that a meeting between Mandela and Sharansky, both ex-prisoners of conscience, might mellow the South African leader’s attitude.
After prolonged negotiations, spearheaded the Anti-Defamation League, Mandela consented. Sharansky, who is now chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, caught a plane from New York to Los Angeles.
The meeting between the two men was closed to the press, but Sharansky let it be known that his arguments, including a reminder that Israel had been among the first nations to denounce apartheid, had not changed Mandela’s basic position.
I was covering the press conference for a now defunct Jewish weekly, Heritage, but couldn’t find a copy of the story I filed at the time. Fortunately, an article on the event by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency refreshed my recollections.
At a City Hall reception earlier in the day, Mandela had chatted with Rabbi Harvey Fields in his capacity as chairman of the Black-Jewish Clergy Alliance of Los Angeles.
When Fields noted that the Reform movement’s rabbinical arm had just reaffirmed its support of the ANC and of Mandela personally, the latter responded, “Your support means a great deal, more than you can possibly imagine.”
During the brief photo session, Mandela jokingly apologized for having to look down on his short friend. Sharansky responded that thanks to his diminutive stature, he was able to wrap the oversized prison clothes around his body during the cold Russian winters.
“Where I was, it was very hot,” was Mandela’s comeback.
Mandela left right after the photo session to prepare for an early evening rally at the Coliseum, with 70,000 admirers.
Sharansky stayed on for a short while, then looked at his watch. “I have to leave,” he said. “Shabbat starts in 20 minutes and I don’t want to go by foot for two hours.”
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October 2, 2013 | 3:28 pm
Posted by Julie Bien
I am having a hard time keeping my jaw from hitting the ground—or my head from banging onto my desk, for that matter. Our government just came to a grinding halt over whether or not I have the right to the affordable care-and-keeping of my reproductive organs.
Let me rephrase: The Republican party is so hell-bent on limiting my right to have affordable access to 100% legal medicine that they are willing to shut down the government—close the national parks, close the National Institute of Health, and prevent economically disadvantaged mothers from feeding their children with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
An ideological battle is being waged on my body and the American people. Apparently, it is of little interest to the powers that be that affordable access to hormonal birth control not only costs the country less (fewer unplanned pregnancies) but also boosts the overall health of many women who take it.
Women who take the pill reduce their chances of developing uterine or ovarian cancer. For those who suffer from endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal birth control is one of the only medications that brings relief from the symptoms. The list goes on.
Why isn’t their more outrage among the moderate Republicans? Don’t they realize that their party is being hijacked by the religious-right with many children bearing the brunt of their bullheaded idiocy? Do they think that nothing will win the hearts and minds of the public like children going hungry, or preventing scientists from doing their jobs (which help protect Democrats and Republicans alike from health emergencies?)
I am ashamed of my government. I am livid. I cannot think of a big enough F-You to shout at the petty, hollowed-out shells of human beings that have allowed this to happen.
I, a woman—owner of ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a uterus, demand that I am granted equal access to medical care. If I can’t have affordable access to birth control, then you, owners of XY chromosomes, cannot have access to Viagra. Or testosterone supplements. Or beta-blockers. Does that seem unfair? (The answer is ‘yes’—feel free to take that nugget of information and follow it to its logical conclusion.)
One of the main tenets of Judaism is Tikkun Olam, which literally means “repair the world.” How about we start with advocating for a society that does just that? We can begin by making sure everyone has affordable access to any medical care they need. And let’s shout as loud as we can when anyone gets in the way of that fundamental right.
Maimonides, the highly revered Jewish physician and scholar, listed health care first on his list of the 10 most important communal services that a city should offer its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23).
Instead of doing just that, we have let it become an issue that is debatable. Let me clarify this for you: It is not debatable. It is our duty to provide healthcare. It is our fundamental human right to receive it.
If you truly believe that offering birth control coverage to your employees goes against your deepest beliefs, fine—you’re free to believe that! Don’t use it. No one will force you!
Here in America, we have freedom of religion. But you also need to accept that we have freedom from religion—and that means religious doctrine has no place in any national healthcare debate.
September 12, 2013 | 9:58 pm
Posted by Emily Kane
July 26, 2013 | 11:07 am
Posted by Caroline Lowy
At JDate's 'Must Love Dogs' event, singles brought their most trusted companion to assist them in life's ultimate challenge: finding a date.
First encounter awkwardness between strangers: 0
Be sure to watch these cute creatures interact with each other and maybe find a life partner themselves!
July 19, 2013 | 2:50 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
The White House’s recently-appointed liaison to the United States Jewish community, Matt Nosanchuk, promised to help maintain a “two-way dialogue” between American Jews and the President in a statement released today.
“I am committed to maintaining a robust two-way dialogue, engaging with the community to further the President’s priorities, and ensuring that voices throughout our nation’s proud and diverse Jewish community are heard within the Administration,” he said in a newsletter entitled “Jewish Outreach Update,” which was released by the White House on Friday.
Nosanchuk, a lawyer who has worked in the Obama Administration since 2009, both in the assistant attorney general’s office and in the Justice Department, was named the associate director of Jewish outreach at the White House Office of Public Engagement earlier this month, replacing Zach Kelley, who served as interim Jewish liaison following the departure of Jarrod Bernstein, the last full-time liaison, who resigned in January.
The Jewish Council of Pubic Affairs (JCPA)—which serves “as the representative voice of the organized American-Jewish community,” according to its website—welcomed the appointment.
“We’ll work with [Nosanchuk] to kind of reflect with him on what we’re thinking on, working on, and what our policy positions are, and I think likewise he’ll be reaching out to us to observe and clarify what the White House stance is on political issues,” JCPA Washington Director Jared Feldman told the Journal.
The collaboration between Nosanchuk and American-Jewish organization will likely include a focus on domestic issues. Since 2009, Nosanchuk has proven to be a proponent of gay and civil rights. He “played a key role” on the attorney general office’s Defense of Marriage Act litigation team and in the Justice Department’s implementation of and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to personal biography that was featured in the White House email.
In the letter, Nosanchuk emphasized his desire to continue the White House tradition of reaching out and engaging with a population that has a long history of strong political opinions and clout.
“I look forward to hearing from you and working together to strengthen the strong bonds we already share,” he said.
July 18, 2013 | 3:16 pm
Posted by Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel
A 30-year-old man was hospitalized Friday night after a snake bit his member while he was sitting on the toilet at his parents’ house in northern Israel.
According to a Channel 10 report, the man, a resident of central Israel, paid his parents a visit in the northern town of Nofit. While sitting on the john, he was rudely and painfully interrupted when a snake appeared and bit his penis. The victim “ran from the room in horror” and went to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center for treatment, according to the report.
A blood test found that the snake was not venomous. The man was in good condition, but doctors decided to keep him under medical supervision.
Read more (if you dare) at timesofisrael.com.
July 11, 2013 | 10:07 am
Posted by Jana Banin, JTA
Say what you want about James Franco, but at least you can’t accuse the guy of not being able to laugh at himself. Last night the Jewish uber-overachiever announced via an Instagram video that he will be the subject of an upcoming Comedy Central roast.
“Hey, yo. What’s up? I’m gonna get roasted on Comedy Central. Be sure to check it out. They wanted me to tell you that. All right. Ha ha,” he said.
The special will be filmed over the summer and air Sept. 2.
July 9, 2013 | 11:59 am
Posted by Jana Banin, JTA
Just when you thought it was impossible for the very talented Lena Dunham to be amazing at one more thing, the prodigal filmmaker/author/actress has added another line to her resume: Really great friend.
The “Girls” creator is participating in Miranda July’s “We Think Alone” project, in which stars share their private e-mails. For this week’s installment, participants were asked to contribute “an email that gives advice.”
Dunham’s wise words are directed at her friend “K,” who is in what appears to be a troubled relationship.
You did nothing wrong. He is NOT NICE. He says not nice things in a nice voice so they seem nice but they are not. He isn’t kind or careful with you, he wants to suck the kindness out of you, and if he’s like this after 10 years of group therapy then G-d help us all. He’s not for you bc he’s not for anyone. Do you hear me? Good. I understand SO much the appeal, but he’s not worth your energy and someone like art guy may not be perfect or right but he’s starting on a good foot by offering some of himself to you and wanting to give you pleasureful times.
Not exactly the kind of thing you’d hear self-involved Hannah Horvath telling Marnie, is it? And what’s with the G-d spelling? Did Lena go to yeshiva or something?