Posted Kate Rudolph, Germany
It´s sunny Sunday morning and I am in Frankfurt on Main.
Immediately after waking up I realize, where I am and why am I here at this very moment.
It`s third October and The 2nd German Israel Congress with about 200 pro-Israel organizations takes place today, It is the biggest event of this kind in Europe and I am excited to take part in it.
I am here for three reasons: I want to represent my organization Action Reconciliation Service for Peace and make some advertisement for our guest house in Jerusalem called Beit Ben Yehuda. Secondly I want to write an article for Jewrnalism and last but not least, I want to meet Mosab Hassan Youssef.
But one after another: Why does this conference take place in Frankfurt? One answer could be: for logistical reasons, It was smart to look for a city easy to get to (by plane, train or car) with a huge Congress Center which can host up to 3.000 persons, that gathered here today. The less obvious (but still important) reason is, that the city of Frankfurt has a long German- Jewish history and that Tel Aviv and Frankfurt are twin cities nowadays.
All greetings everyone underline the special relationship between (just rarely the word friendship appears) Germany and Israel. Also almost everyone of the speakers mentions the release of Gilat Shalit, which is celebrated from the audience with lots of applause.
In all greetings everyone underlines the special relationships (just rarely the word friendship appears) Germany and Israel have. Also almost everyone of the speakers mentions the release of Gilat Shalit, what is greated by the audience with applause.
While I was outside, eating some really good food and talking to some of the people from other organizations, as well as informing myself at information stands of travel agencies, the talks and discussions in the main hall kept on. Then it was Danny Ayalon´s turn to speak. In his speech he mentioned nothing that was new to me, but in the end he was asked, what he would give as a message to the Jewish Youth in Germany. He answered: “To the Jewish Youth in Germany - I would like to say: Your first loyalty belongs to your country, but you also have a responsibility towards Israel. You are privileged to live here and to live in a pro- Israel country.”
At least I have not expected that. No talk about Aliya? Nothing like ambassadors for Israel in Germany? Well, I guess, that question came unexpected also for him.
And finally the speaker I was waiting for all afternoon appeared: Mosab Hassan Youssef, co- author of the New York Times Bestseller “Son of Hamas”. In his autobiographic book he talks about his growing up in the West Bank, his families involvement in Hamas (His father was one of the seven founding members of the terror organization.) and his work with the Israeli intelligence for about ten years.
The one who once was a enemy of the state of Israel now declares: “People came here to say I like Israel I came to say I love Israel!”
Nowadays he lives in the United States and he says: “My people consider me a traitor and yes, they want to kill me.” Talking about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict he states that it is a bad idea to have an own state for Palestine. “Israel has no room for two states and we all see, what had happened in Gaza Strip. Not only Israelis would suffer, but also Palestinians.” He explains how he became the person standing in front of us now : just by following the example of Jesus, who was thought “Love your enemy.” By understanding and suiting the action to the word, his whole life changed.
Later, while buying his book and letting him signing it - still full with all the impressions of his speech- I would love to ask him a thousand questions, but all I hear coming out of my mouth is a stuttering “Thank you!”
Anyway when I met an ex-terrorist leader on a conference, whose topic is “Peace through Security - Security through Peace”I feel strange. No one could have expressed this theme in one person better than Mosab Hassan Youssef. And I start to dream, if there would be just 10 more people like him in the Palestinian - Israeli society, we might keep on going forward in a Peace process. But then I wake up from my daydream and ask myself: but when this story is too good to be true and when he is just a rare exception - what wouyld happen then?
Maybe, I think and I try to convince myself, maybe one day there will be Peace in the Middle East, but not today and not tomorrow. There is still a long way before us to go : education, sharing resources (water, energy etc.), learning each other´s narrative and stopping racism and hatred. I want to close with one last quote of Mosab, who says: “I hope that none of my children will go through what I did.”
In the end, I guess, we are all just human beings and not as different as we think. We want Peace, if not for us, at least for the next generation.
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December 13, 2011 | 1:04 pm
Posted Ian Shulman, Austria
yes wasn’t it miserable wasn’t it grand
when the world had an iron divide
and people could take a political stand
just by singing a song for the opposite side
now nobody cares who you are anymore
and nobody cares what you say
it’s liberty’s curse
but was it really much worse
in the good old bad old days
Daniel Kahn, “Good Old Bad Old Days”, 2011
The newly (re-)invented genre named “Jewish radical music” sounds odd even for those who know something more about Jewish music in general. What can old and lovely Klezmer, sweet and bitter forgotten tunes of Jewish Eastern Europe, fight for today? Veyz mir. Well, we can bring those songs back to life and let everyone enjoy it, after all, Balkan style is popular nowadays. We can even sing about something different. Merry songs about Israel. All right, even sad songs about Holocaust. But how on Earth can Klezmer be radical?
Daniel Kahn knows how. This Detroit-born and Berlin-based singer-songwriter takes Klezmer standards, blends them with some jazz, rock and French chanson flavours and stiffs them with his own lyrics, or at least quite unusual translations. His instruments range from rather Klezmeric accordion to a music box and a megaphone. Yet all of that would never be enough to be truly radical.Daniel brings all your most Jewish conversations right from your small Jewish table packed with your a little bit drunk closest Jewish friends and shouts them out . He sings about a Berlin love-story (“oh my lover, my murderers’ daughter, accoumplice of all of my sins”), recalls a hundred-year old anthem of Jewish workers’ movement, which seems to regain its meaning (“through the city streets we go, idle as a CEO”), recalls Abba Kovner with his after-war revenge plans in a song named “Six Million Germans” (“Can vengeance put upon a shelf be taken out later on someone else?”). Of course, Daniel’s repertoire includes more neutral songs, which are performed live more often - these are generally variations on traditional Chassidic/Klezmer tunes such as “Yesterday is Buried”, Yiddish versions of ‘Lili Marleen’ and ‘The Internationale’ and even a Yiddish-Russian-English cover on ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones, performed together with Russian songwriter Psoy Korolenko.
Kahn keeps on impressing the audience with an elaborate choice of venues - for example in Vienna he performs in a WWII bunker, while in Berlin the gig is taking place in former Nazi airfield, Tempelhof.That’s where I got a chance to meet him in person - a person in a black leather jacket squeezing through the crowd with some boxes shortly before the concert appeared to be the performer himself.
You might say that Daniel is nothing more then a provocateur playing around with his beloved pre- and in- war Jewish topics which are, of course, noteworthy, but irrelevant for the last 70 years. You might even say that this “Jewish radical music” can’t be radical or shocking anymore, at least in Europe. But why then Daniel decided not to sing his “Six Million Germans” live? Will you yourself rather put on your headphones if you like to hear “cause history has its unpaid debts / and is it better if we forget?”. Will you post a song on your classmate’s Facebook wall with such words as “You won’t ever have to leave your nation / You won’t ever have to even try / Just make a secret inner emigration / & you won’t ever have to say goodbye”? It is certainly a matter of one’s attitude. As for me, I probably won’t. It’s not because I am afraid of misunderstandings or being indiscreet. It’s just because Dan Kahn is one of my slightly drunk Jewish friends at my tiny Jewish table. And what is said, proclaimed or sung there is meant to stay there.
December 13, 2011 | 3:10 am
Posted Dana Hadadi Israel/ Hungary
There’s something both confusing and exciting about taking part in a pioneer project. It concerns finding your place, your voice, your impact. The search… My name is Dana, and I’m addicted to the rush of new beginnings. Before I decided to add my personal opinion I have read four articles.
Let’s try it out and see how it goes.
Back in my beloved Jerusalem I took my first steps in the Israeli film industry, but much before I was an active writer and producer in the Tel-Avivian Fringe theater scene. I adore stages, the people standing on them, and the people who took the time out to gather for 2 hours in a collective experience of sharing some social signs of their culture, and exploring their humanity by their reactions to what is presented for them on stage. Signs such as musical notes, a mixture of colors, a sense of humour.
Coming to Budapest I stepped out of my own individual artistic isolation to face the existence of a community. Some eye brows could rose up here: You? An Israeli? Never experienced a sense of a community in the land of all Jews? That’s right. Cynical as I was when I was initially introduced to the concept, it attracted me strongly. And my God, what a wonderful surprising breath-taking life change it was. Could you believe, a very large percentage of my generation is not aware at all of the beauty of the Jewish cultural life in the Diaspora? Most of us are sure that after the Holocaust there’s nothing as the Jewish life in Europe.
Finishing one fantastic year with my new educators in Budapest, I couldn’t just go back to where I was without the need for more. This new tool- a new set of eye-glasses to observe the strongly rising Jewish world with amazement and respect together with my old skills: writing, producing and editing, I bring now together to ease my addiction’s craving for new projects by going out on a journey of searching for the most basic human need to define your culture- laughter.
I start my Journey in Budapet, then Milan, Italy and Poland. I watch local Jewish comedians giving a show in their own language to their own local public about their Jewish lives. I will go on with my journey as long as you will actively support it: Invite me to see your local Jewish comedian with his show; if he/she is a non-professional performer funny friend, you could organize a meeting at home.
My goal is to put together a first remarkable mosaic repertoire demonstrating your community’s culture in its greatest form: Jewish Jokes.
This will be the base of a friendly competition. Candidates’ shows will be uploaded to the web, and the winner will get to go to Jerusalem and perform there in English.
Your main goal is to make me laugh.
My idea is to come with open mind and arms to experience your culture.
* You will be responsible to give translation in sub-titles to the videos I’ll produce.
Please write me: firstname.lastname@example.org; or find me on FB as Dana Int.
Looking forward to meeting you.
December 13, 2011 | 2:20 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
It is the second time JEWRNALISM introduces the contest for the best article. It`s going to be held in December and its aim is to add a spirit of an entertainment to our activity. The task is both simple and difficult in the same time. In the form of an article, photo or video the jewrnalists have to make the Jewish life in the Europe more interesting and closer to all the readers of the Jewish Journal and give them a lot of fun and pleasure. There is no limit to the volume or the subject is not imposed , anyway there are three categories intended to help the reporters. The articles to be evaluated are going to appear on our blog today 13/12/2011 11:00pm. We will take into account the style, the choice of the topic and emotions they awake in the readers. You can add your remarks concerning your opinions or some hints, as well as join the discussion. Your voice would decide which of the articles would be chosen and its author would receive 250$ to take part in any Jewish event in the Europe. Of course we are going to write about it. Join our reporters in discovering the European Jewish diaspora!
1) Story that I should tell about
2) Person that you should know about
3) Event on which you should be ( it was in the past, or it will be)
December 6, 2011 | 3:51 am
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek, Poland
“What matters is only what we do for others and everything else is unimportant”
On November 23rd Oskar Schindler`s Enamel Factory ,the branch of the Krakow Historical Museum held a special evening dedicated to Mietek Pemper. The event was conducted by prof. Aleksander Skotnicki. The meeting enjoyed a considerable interest, both from the history enthusiasts, and students of Cracow secondary and high schools. Besides, there were many distinguished guests - Mieczyslaw Pemper family from Germany, the chairman of the Jewish Community in Cracow Mr Tadeusz Jakubowicz. The curator of the Museum Beata Łabno took care of the whole event. The meeting began with a 10 minute presentaion of a television interview, that Mieczyslaw Pemper gave a few years ago. In this way he was present between us the whole evening.
Mieczyslaw Pemper was born in 1920 in a Jewish family in Podgorze. From an early age he learned to play the violin, he also had a keen interest in history and language learning. He used to spend his free time reading the books. He studied law at the Jagiellonian University and economics at the University of Economics. During the occupation twenty years old Mieczyslaw spoke fluent German, he worked as a clerk in the Jewish Council and after the liquidation of the ghetto he was sent to a camp in Plaszow, where for 540 days he worked as secretary and stenographer of the camp commandant Amon Goeth. During this period he observed the everyday realityt of the camp as well as personality and behavior of his commander (hanged for war crimes in 1946). Mieczyslaw was subjected to daily attacks of fury Goeth, who prosecuted the prisoners mentally and physically, daily sending a few of them for death. They used to say : “Whoever saw Goeth he saw the death”. From the forthcoming correspondence he learnt about threats to Jews and about the detailed plans headquarters prepared for them. In a short time he began to cooperate with Oskar Schindler, a German entrepreneur who often appeared in Plaszow. Pemper spoke about him, ” we, the Jews would never survive but for Schindler’s help. Oscar gave me the courage to resist the violence and all the time he was a support for me. “
Thanks to Schindler’s orders Plaszow camp workshops became essential to the war, which meant not only the production of military uniforms and clothing, but above all military equipment. It was due to contacts with Schindler that Pemper with the whole family got on the famous list and was taken to the factory Brünnlitz in Moravia. Thousand Jews owes their miraculously saved lives also to Pemper.
After World War II Pemper took part as a witness in the process against Goeth. In 1958 he finally left Poland and moved to Augsburg where he spent the rest of his life. Being an honorary citizen of this city till the end of his days he was giving testimony returning twenty five years in time taking an active part in meetings with young people. He was often asked questions about Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” in which he was a consultant. His death at the age of 91 was received all over the world and many flags were put down the masts in Augsburg as a sign of mourning. The newspapers such as New York Times and the German Franfurkter Allegemeine Zeitung wrote a lot abot him and his life.
During the meeting Mieczyslaw Pemper`s niece said : “I often met my uncle often, and he did not say much about Schindler, what`s more he was convinced that the movie will not be a success - and he was wrong! The fact that the archives after 1989 were revealed and wrote a book ” The true story of Oskar Schindler.”
Aleksander Skotnicki strongly urged all participants to remember the words often quoted by Mieczyslaw Pemper ” in vain lives who never helps anyone ...” I think that it was a real history lesson,especially for the young people which will remain in their memory for a long time .
November 25, 2011 | 7:48 am
Posted Claire Barer
I`m walking down the streets of Paris with a cream cheese and salmon bagel in my hand. Yesterday`s hangover - conversation with my husband - comes back to me like a flash: he told me one of those stories about his mom (unfortunately my step mother!). She is the perfect example of “Kvetschen”* : single German women who always have problems without solution. Her mother died year ago. She belonged to the same type except that she’d lived in Germany during the Holocaust. She managed to escape Germany by joining Belgium and then came to France.
As you can see, my family is inseparably bound with what happened during WWII. But all the Jews are, aren’t they? Of course, I think that it’s a part of our identity. As well as Israel? The candelabrum? Bagels?
Everyone has his own definition of what “being a Jew” means. Therefore you get a different one from a French, an Austrian or an English person. It will differ between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Left alone inside and outside the Jewish community… Being a Jew is a very big problem! Another one! Like Facebook, psychoanalysis or relativity… Other famous Jewish concepts!
Every concept is based on reflection, theory and, of course, history. Let’s imagine a woman. In her thirties, green-eyed, wearing a little black dress with a red pashmina covering a stylish hairdo. She’s waiting at the front door of a synagogue and she’s smoking a cigarette on a freezing Friday night. It’s time to drive back home, to have the familiar chicken Sabbath soup. I’m not sure that she thinks of her great grandma who ran out of grilled chicken for want of cash and Kosher food stores in 1946 Romania. But still, this 30 years old woman will have a special dinner on Sabbath night. She also has three children who regularly return from holydays on Jewish youths movements camps ; a husband involved in Jewish renewal in the French community, and friends currently entertaining a blog concerning Jewish pop culture, too.
Like everyone else, she is unique. But, contrary to everyone else, she knows that she has something special about her, because she is Jewish. Maybe it is the way she eats ,or maybe they are the songs she listens to, like “Sound of Silence” she has just downloaded on youtube, maybe it’s in the way she felt when she heard about the liberation of “Guilad Shalit”.
Today she has the choice she did not have yesterday :.the possibility of choosing which way she wants to live her identity. Today, the concept of a “Jew” is more personal and various than it has never been before. The Holocaust is in the memory of every Jew , and will remain there. But Jews are still alive! And everyday small fragments are added to the one million pieces puzzle of the Jewish history.
November 25, 2011 | 7:45 am
Posted Katarina Rudolph
Global Jewish Identity- Utopia?
Does something like the universal Jewish identity exist ?
There are Jewish communities around the world and they definitely aren’t the same.
In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for example, you can see four different kind of synagogues from different countries and different epochs. These synagogues, which are the part of the permanent exhibition, were constructed as smaller models of the four types of synagogues from the places where they had stood before. There are two European models: an Italian and a German (Ashkenazi) one and – on the first glimpse – two more unusual kind of synagogues: an Indian and a Suriname. Obviously these prayer houses vary a lot in architecture and use of colours, because they were highly influenced by the cultural environment in which they were built.. Each of them is really unique and beautiful, but they also have similar symbols such as David star or Menorot. This example shows the versatility of Jewish communities – the possibility to adopt to the environment without forgetting their own roots and traditions.
So when we think about Jewish identity, things that come to our minds, are first of all the Jewish symbols, traditions, prayers and really important ones : Jewish holidays. The Jewish calendar is full of feasts, which are either based on biblical stories (e.g. Pessach, Sukkot) or on Jewish historical events (e.g. Channuka). Each feast has developed special customs , so there are special prayers and sometimes even specific food and clothes.
The Jewish holidays are celebrated all over the world and even Jews, who consider themselves secular, are eager to follow some of the Jewish traditions and rituals. It is celebrating the feasts at the same time for the same reason, that creates a belonging-to-the-Jewish-people-feeling (This, in my opinion, is totally independent from, whether you believe in Jews are the chosen nation or not.).
Another point is, that Jews, who live in the Diaspora still learn and pray the same ancient (sometimes slightly renewed) Hebrew prayers. The Torah reminds the believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. So, even if Diaspora Jews never have set a feet to Israel, most of them feel a strong connection with the country and have the desire to visit it at least once in their lives.
The security fever is one more component for being a Jew – not necessarily in times of war – because Jewish communities all around the world often are required to have high safety systems. So it is quite usual to see security guards or policemen, video cameras and sometimes even detectors around synagogues, Jewish Museums or Jewish and Israeli institutions and organizations buildings.
Some Jewish communities are better connected to their (non-Jewish) surroundings and some of them are rather isolated. But most of the time they are quite well connected within their own circles. Isn´t it clear that these Jewish communities consider themselves part of a bigger, global community?
And how a small nation as the Jews could have survived over 2000 years in the Diaspora, (just being one of the minorities in the countries they lived in) if there didn`t exist something like a Jewish identity that is the same, wherever life brought them?
Statistics say that nowadays there are about 13.428.000 Jews living around the globe, from which over 57 per cent are living in the Diaspora. But every year thousands of Jews from all over the world decide to make Aliyah (to immigrate) to Israel.
So, even if the concept of a global Jewish identity might not be easy to grasp, it isn´t an utopia.
November 25, 2011 | 7:41 am
Posted Dana Hadadi
Yoram Kaniuk, the author of ‘Adam Resurrected’ (Adam Ben Kelev), has recently applied to the court of Israel with the request to delete “Jewish” from his ID and in the Population Registry, as it was turned down by the Ministry of Internal Affairs . His request was accepted, mainly due to his appealing petition, in which he explains that the choice of religion should be the free choice of a man. This historical precedent is somehow revolutionary to the state that was established on the religious background..
On the other hand, in quite distant Hungary, Jewish Community Federation in Budapest appeals to its citizens to add “Jewish” under: religion in the Population Registry.
http://www.enismagyarzsidovagyok.hu/az-legy-aki-vagy/ (watch the video, it’s sweet)
After years of depression suffered during communist regime, the Jewish community in Budapest flourishes regained freedom to practice their religion, and now they want to declare it proudly, as if they were fighting for the honor that was taken away from them long time ago.
First observation of those events, close in time, but far away in geographical conditions might show a contradiction. Two different ideas of Jewish concepts- European Jews wishing to strengthen connections with their religion, by having it legalized it in their documents , and Israel Jews trying to cut off from it in their everyday reality. Nevertheless, both tendencies show, that the core of those two ideas is rooted deeply in the principle of the freedom of choice, and I couldn’t find any more appropriate way to describe the manifest of Judaism in one’s life. These two different concepts tell the stories of two different Jews in the Diaspora or two different Jews in Israel, where people are simply born in - general educational system, constant media feedback, whatever is a Jewish surrounding. A wise friend of mine told me how she sees it: “You learn you are a Jew in two ways: either you define yourself as one, or you become one by the other’s definition of you”.
And this is how I see it: Judaism is a life style, a state of mind, culture, friends with the same common bizarre and lovely customs, only you can be excited about, or magic full of misterious symbolic objects. (preferably shiny ones J). Also, sharing some unique dangerous codes of the Hebrew language (ma ze ma ze), sharing an unexplainable hazardous attraction to Israel, hating your friend’s synagogue just to have something to talk about, celebrating exhausting family dinners on holy days flooded with gossip, and at last but not least, enjoying a segregated taste-less sense of humor and internal jokes. (I’m just kidding, Jewish comedians are the best).
I wouldn`t appeal to a Judaism in ones genes, blood ties, or any of these darvinistic ways of sorting that brought the holocaust into our lives once again, as well as I wouldn’t like spread out the ideas like these to give the others scientificl tools to defind me.
My “half Jewish” friend tells me how cold a conversation at a Shabbaht dinner in the community can get, when suddenly her companions realizes she is not “pure Jewish”. I know these harsh looks, and awkward sighs. These are the same looks and sighs I get when I tell a (non Jewish) European that I was born and raised in Israel.