Posted Monika Opalińska
Natural resources were always for Africa the biggest blessing but at the same time the most devastating curse. For many hundreds of years Europeans were colonizing African land and getting profits from its wealth as well as forcing aboriginal population into slavery. The second half of the twentieth century raised hope that after reaching independency the situation of the African countries will change for better. However, it wasn’t about to happen, not at all.
Nowadays Africa is mostly governed by dictatorships. Still, African people cannot fully benefit from their goods just for themselves. Africa has many opportunities in the economic field to join the leading and outstanding world potentates. Despite the wide range of natural resources Africa has the most important resource, that is young and ready to work people who want to and intend to explore the whole continent. However children usually do not have the chance to grow up in loving and caring families that could shape them into the strong minded society. Instead of books they too often are given guns…
One of the most horrific examples, not the single one though is the Lord’s Resistance Army – the rebel group of Joseph Kony that since 1987 “stole” around 30 thousands of children. What’s really startling is that young boys are forced to kill with cold blood even the members of their own families and girls are turned into sexual slaves.
This appalling ordeal of breaking human rights and barbarous abusing of children lead to make 30-minute advocacy film created by a nonprofit organization called Invisible Children. Movie’s raising popularity gave the idea to start Kony 2012 Action.
Nowadays It happens to disturb the minds of not only thousands but already millions of people. This thrilling story stays in hearts and wakes conscience so strongly that each day the number of the people involved in the action grows every minute. In the action the most important role play the social internet sites. The very similar situation took place during The Arab Spring, when members of this venture were also using the same ways of communication through the net. Living in the twenty first century people have a great possibility to spread this information all over the world. The main goal of this campaign is to make the issue visible to the eyes of the nations. Hopefully it will bring to justice one of the most atrocious criminal.
The worldwide action shows that when people work as a group they can create a very powerful voice. It raises hope when it can be heard that many famous celebrities, politics and businessmen are joining this action. Many organizations and communities are already involved in the movement and bring on the fame for Kony’s video.
I owe the knowledge about Joseph Kony and this story to “Jewrnalism project”. To be honest if the leader of the group Klaudia Klimek hadn’t posted the video on the facebook, I would never know about this formidable situation. It only proves how great influence and power has the voice of all communities. Especially when it can be derived from such an experienced nation as Jews who keep on trying to help other countries fight with the atrocities of the human race.
I believe that young open minded and full of energy people that connect into groups can become a meaningful strength that will manage to change the world and make it a better place. We all should be concerned about other people’s life and future. We can ever let neither African nor any other children to grow up in fear about their own life. It’s the duty of all the people in the world to provide help in building safe and fair environment for future generations.
So let’s not only stop for a moment and think about how devastating that is but also start doing something about it! Even if it will be only getting the Kony 2012 Action kit and donating a few dollars for the campaign it will still mean a lot for those children who deserve better future and life in a world free of violence and atrocities.
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March 23, 2012 | 4:08 am
Posted Mendelssohn X
Originally posted on Jewdyssee
Recently an Israeli journalist friend of mine posted cartoons from the NY Times that showed a mighty and hideous Netanyahu controlling his American puppet. It is a bit more sophisticated than the usual caricatures we know from Der Stürmer or Al Manar. This is pretty scary although one has to admit that Netanyahu does get more standing ovations in the US congress than Obama and for some reason the Republican nominees who usually don´t agree on anything, all but Ron Paul agree on an absolute support of Israel as if it was their grandmother.
So is it Antisemitic to make a cartoon about that? Probably not by defintion, but given the fact there is a history of anti-Jewish caricatures paving the way towards a genocide this might be the point where us Jews should get in the mood that Muslims are in when some American redneck burns a Quran. I´m not saying we should buy a NY Times and step on it while filming and lighting it up and afterwards put in on YouTube, but we should definitely think about whether these lost sensitivities by a New York newspaper which is seen by many Neonazis as part of the Jewish World Conspiracy, signifies a shift in the harshness that Israel is facing in international spheres even among the closest allies.
Here in Berlin, Germany, it would be unthinkable that a newspaper publishes something like this. Really? Yes, but this is more because it is a taboo. But it´s not an unbreakable taboo like pedophilia, it is more a taboo like tax crimes. You don´t do that because you will cause a discussion about the Nazi past, of which everyone is too bored. It has a lot to do with Germany being part of the Atlantic friendship thing with the US since the times of the Marshall plan and the Berlin Air Lift. The first post-war chancellor Konrad Adenauer said in an interview that reconciliation with the Jews is also needed because of the power they have in the US. This was the 50s. Later the 1968 Generation opened up the discussion about the Nazi past and started loving the Kibbutz and Woody Allen, but it also came along with the New Left and it´s criticism of American Imperialism and everything that America supports, including Israel. It´s kind of like 1967 is for Israel, you gained Jerusalem and access to the Western Wall, but you also got the occupation. In other words, don´t ask me why it works so well. I highly doubt it would stay this way if one day there would be a major split between the USA and Israel. Philip Roth has dealt with this question in his novel „Plot against America“ in which Charles Lindbergh becomes the first openly Antisemitic US president. If Germany would stand alone as Israel´s supporter there would be for sure populists here who understood the political potential in this situation. Freeing oneself from the guilt feelings, and joining in with the majority of the people of the world. This sounds terrible now. It would not happen in the 1938 way, but it would happen in the Erdogan way. So as much as I still hope for Israel returning to the Rabin path and join Obama in policies worthy of the 21st century, I still prefer sometimes to deal with a Republican who likes me, than with caricatures that look life threatening to my existence. But I would not admit that in public. Not because I´m a diaspora Jew who is too fearful to speak out, but just because…come on – Republicans, Christian Evangelicals, Rupert Murdoch, seriously, with all the respect to the coalitions Israel has to engage in, I really would prefer Manu Chao, Christopher Hitchens or Cornel West. Dammit, when I think about it, being Jewish really IS hard. Maybe I should assimilate?
But you cannot escape being a Jew! But that was just Hitler, most Antisemites were not racially oriented and Christians were fine with baptizing. Man, the only things that kept and keep me in is the fact that my mother always sang „Erev Shel Shoshanim“ so I would fall asleep and listen to the Exodus theme all the time. Okay, and the hotness of Israeli women that contributed so much to my early 20s. So much more convincing than the theory. Fuck this, tough times coming up, please Hashem, save your people once more, and please make them understand that although they became tired of the Kibbutz mentality, this secular Zionism was definitely they way to go towards a better future and please give them the strength and the eyes to see that their recent secular self-hatred that makes them say things like “At least the National Religious still know what they are fighting for” is something most of their ancestors would be really ashamed of. It´s okay, we can do this “A Nation that dwells alone”-thing, I got your back, but please work on the marketing. After all the 1990s surfer macho with flip flops and sunglasses was much better and meaningful than those rightwinged self-knotted Kipa guys or Danny Danons you are sending over now. Just because all the Bamba and Bissli is gone afterwards doesn´t mean that anyone is listening to that shit. We cannot help being depicted in cartoons, but at least we should not look like one.
March 22, 2012 | 4:10 pm
Posted Ian Shulman/ Austria
All I knew about the second largest city of Slovakia was that most of Jewish families I have encountered in Vienna have their roots in Kosice. When I told them I was going to visit the town during my Slovakia trip, the reaction was as if I am making a long-awaited journey to the abandoned home, where there are still places to visit and messages to pass. I felt the commitment to bring some news from ‘home’. What I’ve seen in Kosice was the magnificent Habsburg city with some definite Soviet surroundings. The most Jewish element I have encountered was the figure of Golem on the logo of the pub (and brewery) of the same name. I could only guess the ghosts of former synagogues in the shapes of theaters or philharmonics buildings, which still seems to be the most favorable option of a second life.
The doors of the old synagogue building were opened to me by Mark and Martina, two young people from the local Jewish community. Once abandoned building is undergoing a long and thorough renovation at the moment. It is a part of a community centre, hidden in one of the inner yards of the old city. The stripped walls of the temple and pigeons’ scream somewhere under the roof could have persuaded me that Jewish life here has disappeared decades ago. In reality, the true glimmers of life happen here each Thursday, when rabbi Stiefel from Piestany gathers a group of local young people in a tiny room of the community center. He teaches the basics of Judaism, but as important as his classes are, the main thing remains the meeting itself - since that’s probably the only occasion when the young generation of Kosice Jews can spend some time together. Mark confirms, that even though he finds the classes of rabbi Stiefel interesting, the main reason why he and his friends attend the meetings is the social part of it. Such idea first seem strange to him, as neither him, nor his parents were involved in any community activities; now Mark can’t wait for the next Thursday. Probably that’s the best story I can tell about Kosice to my Viennese homesick friends.
March 22, 2012 | 6:25 am
Posted Dana Hadadi Israel/Europe
If you are humanistic (which Judaism in my opinion is), naturally you’ll be startled when someone makes a racist remark. Assigning certain characteristics with ethnicity is not cool. It makes you wonder what if this person wouldn’t agree with elements in MY personality.
People that we love are people that love unconditionally, that accept us with our faults. This is why taking the side of the weaker link in society is fashionable in some circles. For a time Jews served that image. Being persecuted can make you attractive. It could be that our time has come now to be the supporters for other discriminated minority groups, as an act of strength.
RUSHESרעשס festival will carry this humanistic flavor into action by bringing diversity of Jewish voices to Israel in the course of our most critical festival: Purim.
Purim shpiel was always serving a satirical vehicle in our heritage, providing the opportunity to respond to anti-Semitism. The liminal nature of Purim gives us the confidence to ignore the rules, to poke fun and to criticize social structures and norms; Yeshivah students lampoon their Rabbis, communities send up their leaders- Without this annual societal reality check- tensions are ratcheted up without a mechanism to resolve them and become violence.
The first Jewish humor festival in Israel will open its doors in March 2013 and it will promote Jewish culture on its attractive side. We posses grand rich culture of self clever and on the edge humor and we treasured it now into a spectacular collection.
We cannot wait to share it with you and the rest of the world.
Putting it in Israel- the melting pot of contradiction, we wish it will contribute to open access nature of what we want to create- a merge of progressivism with tradition.
But we cannot do it alone. We depend on the generous support of sponsors, donors and partners to continue our work. Take out theoretical debates on human rights into creation and entertainment.
Everyone who takes part as a participant or an audience is a benefactor of this festival.
If you are interested more in our cause, and would like to know in what way you could help to RUSHES רעשס project we are always looking for volunteers, more artists and ideas.
Write your questions to Dana on this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next year in Jerusalem
March 21, 2012 | 4:30 pm
Posted Pavel Pustelnik, Cardiff
‘I was killing because Jews are killing in Palestine’ said the French murder about the killing spree in Toulouse. Peculiar idea about justice isn’t it?
Lack of tolerance towards Jewish people in Europe has been expressed in many different ways. There have been articles about how Israel is unjustly treating Palestine, there were unpleasant situations encountered by local communities… Nevertheless, the situation that took place recently in France has shocked everyone. The murderer has allegedly been trained by al-Quaeda, but this does not really matter. His motivation grounded on a wicked idea what is just or not is simply beyond my comprehension.
It opens eyes to a question: how do we perceive justice? What is justice for us? Is it just a simple equation ‘an eye for an eye’ – you kill our people, we will kill yours? It appears that for the fundamentalists the behavior of this kind is acceptable or even praiseworthy. For them justice is like an instant soup. You can do it yourself, bearing barely any costs, it does not take much time and you can be sure of the results. After all you are the one who decides on the trail’s outcome.
When I hear that the Jewish organizations and elites are over engaged in human rights and quest for justice I cannot understand what is meant by that.Presumably, Israel is not ‘clean’ enough to be a prophetic voice advocating for the rights and righteousness. This kind of thinking based on false premises is surprisingly widespread and vicious. What is more it is increasingly disconnected from the reality. Justice goes beyond securing own interests and having the rule over the discourse. Or at least it should be so.
March 21, 2012 | 6:27 am
Posted Dana Addadi Israel/ Europe
“The hard part is to start, but once you get it going it really flows”, says Masha Vasileva from her dormitory room in Berlin. “I get the ideas everywhere. I don’t know what will inspire me next”. “I can work on a piece for some days or weeks, until I feel that I like it.” “I don’t necessarily except all my costumers to like all of my articles, and this is why I keep a diverse collection to approach many people. Yet, still I have my style, maybe it wouldn’t be the most popular in Bulgaria, where I come from, but here now in Berlin, were people are more open-minded and ready to experience new things, I hope to gradually gain more recognition”.
“I first started making Jewels when I was a teenager. My first acquaintance with the many things you could do with clay was in fact in a Summer Jewish camp, where we had an art work-shop. Later on, I became a madricha on those camps, and a conductor of those art work-shops. I consider Jewish Summer camps to be a significant turning point in my youth. It was fun, and I hold great good memories from this time when I was introduced first to my Jewish identity and also I met people and culture from all over the world”.
“There’s a great deal of influence to my work from my Jewish culture and identity. I wouldn’t call my art Judaica, but it will definitely carry major symbols of our heritage, as they are part of who I am”.
“For the future, I would love to further develop my art, and take it to explore new materials other then clay, but that will require more money and skills.
I sell my Jewels on my site. It is possible to browse the pictures and choose the item you wish to buy, but I also design about orders”.
March 20, 2012 | 3:25 pm
Posted Estera Schreibmann Poland
About 50 people - youngsters, activists, leaders, students and on top of that Jewish, gathered for five days in Warsaw. What for? To discuss, to bond, to see bigger picture. Why? An answer is simple - its all about Jewish continuity. Once again Sochnut (Jewish Agency for Israel) is there for us. This time to strengthen the Diaspora in Central Eastern Europe. And as it appeared there are many things to be done to achieve it. What happened during these couple of days? What made us laugh and what made us cry? Why we are so different and similar all together?
First of all as participant of project called ‘MinYaNim’ I must say - I loved it. Many unexpected things happened during the seminar, the meeting itself was very intensive and rich in information, discussions and activities which were led using different methodologies - most of it according to my beloved “learning by doing” rule. Food was also fine. Weather was not.
- I am here with you guys about two days by now and I feel like it would be two weeks - said one of participants during reflection session. Half way till the end of project we were all tired, stimulated intellectually (meaning also: full of concerns, raising questions all the time - pretty much our job was to avoid silence as much as we could) and having a lot of fun. Together.
Bulgarians, Serbians, Israelis, Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians and one Bosnian speaking same language. Language of friendship. - All in all, my impressions of the seminar are overwhelming. I would have never thought I would meet so many lovely and open people. Also I have never thought that I could grow attached to many of them in such a short period of time – said after seminar Kristof, 25 years old, student from Hungary.
Take of the mask, put on the mask
The part of our program leaded by specialists from Makom and Israeli Cultural Institute in Budapest partially focused on Purim holiday which we had an opportunity to celebrate together. We were at synagogue, we had our party, we made pretty cool masks or make-ups. Everything according to the tradition and for those who lead orthodox way of life - also religion. But actually we did more than that.
- We can interpret a story of Esther’s life in many ways. During our seminar we tried more secular ways of interpretation. Esther took responsibility for her nation, she did anything to preserve her people and in the same time she was hiding her identity. This duality was, aside of discussion about collective responsibility, a reason to ask ourselves two questions:
How Jewish I feel? How we are connected to our Jewish community and what can we do to make it better?– said Jan, 25 years old, an orthodox Jew from Poland during our conversation held after Warsaw meeting.
I am a Jew
It was amazing for me to answer those questions. Actually I did understand exactly where am I in my identity journey. A while ago I ceased to move forward. I was sure I am able to avoid to choose between my Polish life and my Jewish life.I have stopped just before a place where I would be able to make public statement about me being a Jew, in a place where we would have the very uncomfortable talk among my family members.
I took off the mask and understood it is all actually about them. And I was not alone with my impression. That was other incredible thing.
Here the same
- I am taking part in Jewish life in Poland since always, so it was not first time, when I met other young Jews. New thing for me was they were from countries I do not know at all.
Even If we look different, we have a lot in common. I found out, the thing I called “Jewish thing” exists not only in Poland but everywhere. It means when you meet someone who is Jewish too, rapidly both of you feel how similar you are. After two days I already knew I found friendships that will last longer than till our last seminar planned to be in Israel – said Patrycja from my group when I asked what surprised her most during the seminar.
- Honestly, my knowledge was very little about the European Jewish communities outside Hungary. Of course, by knowing the facts and the common history of the region, it is not so shocking that our stories are similar. Deriving from this, it is understandable, but for me it was surprising how similar we are in how we think, how we look at life – wrote to me Kristof.
Actually I was always suspicious about this idea of “Jewish thing”. By my experience in Warsaw Jewish community after some incidents I started to think totally opposite. I have nothing in common with those people – I was pretty sure about it. We have same heritage and very similar stories of what happened to us during Second World War or in 1968. But that is it. Is it?
I was so shocked how quickly I have changed my mind – from small details like setting waking up alarm at the same exact time (7.35 – what are the odds?) through talking about same things in our own languages and than finding out about it to an actual mind reading, saying things in the same time, even liking the same things from the same reasons. I have met people who are not only like me in the matter of favorite colors or music. I have met people who think and feel exactly like I do and I am sure of it.
- The similarity of the stories was surprising. For me, this proves, that a universal human intellect exists, which drives us to react to certain things (in this case mostly trauma) in the same way, regardless to where we live – said precisely what I was thinking about the seminar one of Hungarian MinYanim group members. Only I add up one word: ‘universal Jewish intellect’.
Story one of its kind yet one of many others
My friend Patrycja who is also participating project with found something very unexpected during Warsaw seminar. First of all I feel it is important to mention that we also went together for Birthright Taglit. We were together in a small group where we spoke about our identity. Night before our very first visit in Yad Vashem. I was hearing to Patrycja’s story about her grandfather who was eager to talk to her about Jewish identity. But back than Patrycja was not interested. And with other silent in that matter members of family she has no one to talk to. Just like me.
So imagine dear reader, that in an exercise where we have to choose random person and tell our Jewish story Patrycja have chosen to speak to Emil from Bulgaria. During the conversation they will mention their grandfathers…
-The most surprising for me was that I found someone who has at home video tape called “Survivors of the Shoah”. Mine and his grandfather was interviewed there. It would not be that surprising if not the fact, we both have not seen the recording yet. We promised each other we will watch them together next time – said my friend who thanks to that has made another step in her identity journey.
All the problems we have
But let’s talk what are we here for. The score is to strengthen the Diaspora. To solve problems we have. But how am I supposed to change the situation? Only eight people from my country (Poland is taking part in MinYanim second time in its third edition) have any power to change the Jewish life in here?
I felt it is overwhelming task. That we may be able to change some small parts and than one should pray that it will last longer than one year. I was so worried I did not notice that changes were done since the very first meeting of Polish group. I found myself in a group with people to whom, I am referring to most of them, I would never speak on my own. And once I started I just could not shut up.
Third generation problem? Division among organizations? Siege mentality? So called wall for newcomers in Jewish society? Those are only few issues that slower as down in rebuilding Jewish life in Poland - and thanks to Warsaw meeting we started to see how we can help it. And I mean it.
In the other hand it was again shocking to understand that Bulgaria and Serbia have same problems. What I knew about Jews is Bosnia or Serbia before? Nothing. And now they are my brothers who share same struggle. I understood that Hungary is step ahead of us in rebuilding community after war but Jews are still coping with division issues.
And that Israel also needs us.I will answer those needs – I will help my Israeli friends to implement “Picking up – neighbor project” in southern parts of Eretz. Something I did in my country and it works.
Fast forward to May
This is only a glimpse of what happened in early days of March in Warsaw. Fifty people - their stories, thoughts and energy. Positive energy. I miss them all. The truth is that I just cannot wait to meet my new friends.
So with high hopes in my heart and still little bit in shocked after what happened during Warsaw seminar I say: please fast forward to 8 of May, where we all are going to meet again in Budapest.
March 18, 2012 | 3:56 pm
Posted Ewa Popowska
69 years ago six thousands of Jews living in Ghetto of Krakow in Podgórze were displaced to a work camp in Płaszów. For many of them this four kilometres distance turn out to be a walk to death. Other 2 thousands of inhabitants of Ghetto were sent to Auschwitz. A thousand of the others were shot in the place of Ghetto Heroes Square, where today the Remembrance March was started, to commemorate those, who went the same way the 13th and 14th March 1944 during the liquidation of Ghetto.
Propably never could we find the definition of Holocaust and define the reasons why did it ever happen - said Tadeusz Jakubowicz, president of Jewish Community of Krakow - but I am happy to see how many people come here every year. Jakubowicz went this way 69 years ago with his mother. In the meeting participated primar Rabbi of Krakow Boaz Pash, Rabbi of Chabad Eliezer Gurari and Member of European Parliament Róża Thun. Ambassador of Israel Zvi Rav-Ner reminded of the importance of fighting against the injustice and anti-Semitism - Some people claim that it never happen. Let’s not forget those who died here and in Płaszów, and those who were trying to help them. Among the people gathered on the Square was also prime Rabbi of Galizia Edgar Gluck, vice governor of the Małopolskie Province Andrzej Harężlak and a representative of young generation, Klaudia Klimek.
I came here as a president of Social Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, department Krakow not only as a representative of our organization but also to show that we young Jews in Krakow, remember and want to continue tradition of March. - says Klimek- We live now in different world, time that makes us easily forget about sad, hard history. But this one day makes us think, makes us stop for one moment and come here to this place and see not only bus station, flower shop or restaurant but as it looked like 69 years ago. Place of terrible pain, enormous fear. - she adds.
During the March, participants from Poland, Israel and United States put flowers under the remainings of the wall of Ghetto which was set by Nazis in 1941. On the area, where before war used to live 3 thousands of people, Ghetto gathered about 17 thousands of Jews. It was strictly forbidden to leave this place or to help its inhabitants anyhow. The ceremony ended with Kaddish, under the monument commemorating victims of Holocaust at the territory of working camp in Płaszów.