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Category: Culture (page 1 of 22)

Local Israeli music, art, theater, celebs and talent. Culture in Israel, Middle East and around the world as it relates to Israel.

The Real Way to Get The Haredi Community Drafted to IDF

As long as there is no Halakha law that allows Haredi Israelis to join IDF we won’t see it happen. The way to get the Haredi community drafted to IDF is not by state law, it requires a perceptual change.

The issue of Haredi Israelis not getting drafted to study Torah, or evading the army as the secular public refers to it, has been a hot topic within Israel for more than a decade. It comes down to, as disagreements tend to be, to different points of view that create a collision and amount to resentment, distance, misunderstanding and especially no results.

Most non Haredi (i.e. religious, traditional, secular and all the wide range of Jewish communities within Israel) will say the Arabic threat is so acute, present and immediate that joining IDF, protecting Israel by military force is the biggest and most meaningful service one should complete. In fact, a large percent of people from these non Haredi communities consider being a soldier in IDF a national duty and support the mandatory drafting in Israel.

According to Haredi belief the Jewish people must learn Torah at all times, if not – the world will come to its end. The phenomena of studding Torah instead of providing ones family, paying taxes or serve the army is actually legitimate among the Haredi community; according to an ancient packet, still valid by Haredi law, between the tribe of Zebulun and the tribe of Issachar, a mutual symbiosis is suppose to be between those who study Torah and those who provide for them.

As Haredi Israelis do not consider the state of Israel as an authority, the Tal’s law will not be efficient in any way. As long as there is no Halakha Law that orders Haredi Israelis to join the army, no Haredi will dare to do so. A change in Halakha orders will only be achieved by a groundbreaking change in the rigid stands taken by the different sides. As do most disagreements, this issue requires a new kind of dialog, being conveyed through a common language between the different points of view.

Most Sexist Commercial Awards: “Take Your Picture Wearing Nothing But a Bra”

To commemorate the International Woman’s Day- WIZO Israel will release the list of the most sexist commercials for 2012. This year the FIX brand has received the dishonor.

A highly professional committee, including media, academy and women organizations representatives, was assembled in order to rate the commercials. The results were revealed on March 6th during a special convention, under the chairmanship of Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely. The event took place in the Knesset in cooperation with the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women.

The convention included a number of speakers, including representatives from WIZO Israel which declared: “selling a bra shouldn’t include undressing young girls”. Hotovely stated: “the degradation of women should be heavily fined”. As discussed in the convention; inviting teenage girls to pose wearing bras to promote your product is sexism.

The campaign which granted FIX with the scarlet letter invited teenage girls to pose wearing bras by the brand and publish the photos in the company’s Facebook page to win prizes. Also in the dishonorable list of most sexist are: Goldstar beer, Proportion – medical center, Do-It kitchens, and AXE Body Spray.

According to the committee: “this advertising crosses a red line as it encourage under aged teenage girls to actively take part in the degrading marketing of a product in a way that objectifies and sexualize women. We fear the pressure to pose in a seductive manner will be misinterpreted by teenagers and will reinforce the notion that the exploitation of the woman body is legitimate”.

This is the fourth year the scarlet letter is published by the VIZO organization. Last year’s “winners” were the Arena Mall and in previous years the honor was bestowed upon “Mey Eden” and the “Fairy” brand.

According to Gila Oshrat, Chairperson of VIZO Israel, The phenomena of depicturing the woman body as a soulless object is too common in the prime time. An advertising agency is indeed not the Ministry of Education but it could show some responsibility none the less and take on creating a balance between freedom of speech and a respectful, appropriate depicturing of the woman body.

Dog Run Over Twice

The face of the generation is like the face of the dog run over twice by a “Dan” bus in Tel Aviv. Alas, this is not where the problem lies; it is within the law, the education and within the lack of public discourse. We have other problems except for Iran.

A week ago we heard the story about a dog being run over – twice. First it was merely injured only to be run over again, this time to death, suspiciously by a “Dan” bus driver. We encounter animal cruelty on a daily basis, but this event has crossed a line. To witness a supposedly run over dog and running it over again demonstrate an indifferent, non compassion capable character.

In Dror Cohen’s opinion, the trampling of animal rights and especially the rights of a Labrador, which size cannot be missed, symbolizes a deep loss of values. Thos who are cruel to animals are prone to be cruel to the elderly, homeless and other helpless groups. According to “Dan” spokesperson:

“The driver was unable to stop the bus or change course due to passenger safety considerations and nearby vehicles”.

This declaration demonstrates the apathy Cohen talks about. It seems as though “Dan” is confused and is under the impression it operates trains which are unable to slow down or change course and not buses.

The Dan Transportation Corporation must be up to standard, arrive on schedule and deliver a vital service. It employs a large staff and is supervised by the department of transportation. But what about decency and keeping the safety of all those who pass by without exception? The driver operating a public transportation vehicle takes on not only your safety but also the safety of those who pass by, including animals.

In order to change the state of animal rights, a wider outlook is needed. If you really wish to fight animal cruelty, you must hand the matter to the law. The charges for the crimes for animal cruelty, abuse and the killing of animals must be more severe. This would allow courts of law to issue more serious and appropriate vertices.
According to the animal rights, a person who tortures or abuses animals in any form will suffer 3 years of imprisonment or be fined 226,000 NIS. None the less, according to the Ministry of the Environment’s website courts of law are far from implicating their authority. They mostly issue verdicts much softer than the maximum penalties. The educational systems must do its share and put recourses aside for the matter. A petting zoo in kindergarten is not nearly enough. Abusers come in all ages and especially teens. Why not take the time and efforts to educate high school students in the matter?

Making Israel More Humane
Naive as it may be, it is time for Knesset members to improve our quality of life by updating the 18 year old animal rights law, even though animals don’t have electoral influence. The charges must be more severe, effective and practical and ones that also limit the courts freedom to dismiss them lightly.

Footnote Gets Oscar Nomination

“Footnote”, a film by Joseph Cedar, has been announced as a nominee in the Best Foreign Film category at this year’s Academy Awards to be held on February 26 in Los Angeles. “Footnote” will compete against “Frida” (Iran), “Dark” (Poland), “Mr. Lazar” (Canada) and “bolhad “(Belgium). “Footnote”, which stars Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi, is about the rivalry between a father and son who are Talmud scholars in Jerusalem. For Joseph Cedar this is the second nomination in three years. His previous film, “Beaufort” was nominated in 2007.

When Cedar was asked about the importance of the award and nomination, he answered:

“to be honest, the movie, “footnote”, is dealing with these exact issues- what happens when we let some kind of big prize or achievement take over our lives and control of our judgment. These are things that “footnote” touches. My feelings right now, are just like in the film, there is great excitement and a sense of pride on the one hand, and on the other hand there is concern that there could be some mistake.”

For the first time, Israel is facing Iran, one of her great enemies. This is the second time that Iran is nominated for an Oscar. The previous time was in 1998 with “Children of Paradise”, they didn’t win the Oscar. So “Frida” can be a huge achievement for Tehran. Cedar referred to this fact by saying that “the Iranian director and I have many things in common”.

May the best movie win!

Oh Boy, it’s a Boycott

A new cultural center was inaugurated in the town of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron on Monday night. As predicted, several high-profile actors have refused to perform at the center. The center was built with public funds from three Israeli government ministries, and of course with moneys from private donators. Altogether, there were more than 500 artists signed a petition in recent days calling for a boycott of the center.

Earlier in the month, actor Rami Baruch said he would not perform in his play “Pollard” at the center’s opening.

“I made a decision, understanding that it could lead to financial ramifications and counter-boycotts…Kiryat Arba is where Baruch Goldstein and Kahane came from, and I asked myself what is my place in this whole story.” said Baruch, who plays the lead role in a drama based on the story of Jonathan Pollard, the civilian U.S. Navy analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel. “

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said at the opening ceremony for the cultural center, referring to the Palestinians’ planned statehood bid this week at the United Nations.

“The opening of a culture center in Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron, is our Zionist and political answer. We are here—we are not strangers in our own homeland,”

Theater professionals signed a petition a year ago stating that they would not be performing in a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel which was built with more than $10 million in public funds.

In 2010, an op-ed on Ynet read:

We’re back to the Middle Ages, to the darkness of boycotts and ostracism on behalf of those who know better than us what’s proper and what isn’t. Their source of authority is their talent, fame, and the limelight. After all, they crowned themselves as “men of letters” and as such they have plenty to say. You better listen to them, or else you would be banished from the space of sanity and from all the goodness offered by this State’s theater district.

They already published a first letter, and now they are issuing another warning. What we have is a theatrical reality here: Artists who boycott those who disagree with them on the political front, and on the other hand a rightist camp that boycotts the artists. All we need now is enthused youngsters on both sides to throw the other side’s texts into the bonfire of enlightenment, and there you have the epitome of progress.

Chillin’ in the Hood: Russell Crow

A proposed ban last November on circumcision in San Francisco is not restricted to just the city on the Bay. Santa Monica could actually be the first American city to see the ban make it onto the ballot.

The nonprofit MGM or Male Genital Mutilation Bill has called for circumcision bans on a national level. Early in 2011, the nonprofit’s regional directors around the country submitted proposed bills to 2,800 different legislators in a host of states and in the U.S. Congress.

Recently, actor Russell Crowe decided to opine about what he calls a “barbaric and stupid” tradition. On Twitter, Crowe slammed those who practice circumcision, saying it is an “immoral” practice.

Responding to those who told Crowe that circumcision was done for hygienic reasons, he retorted “Hygienic? Why don’t you sew up your a** then”

When other twitter followers mentioned the Bris ceremony, when a newborn Jewish boy is circumcised, he wrote:

“Honestly you are comparing sexual mutilation with a Jewish ceremonial act?! F**K that. The Mayans had ceremonial acts too!”

Crowe also wrote:

“I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting your babies @eliroth”

Friendship & Kabbalah The Ever Growing Tradition

Dancing Group of Religious Men in IsraelTwo weeks ago, the New York Times had an article about Kabbalistic dancers, it was a reminder of the ubiquity and diversity of the various forms of this ancient mysticism; today, Kabbalah is not just a red-string on the left wrist of Ashton Kutcher, it connects to various aspects of our lives in ways that are sometimes hard to foretell and are always interesting and enriching.

Two of the main fields Kabbalah has always had a hold in are art and jewelry, spiritual home decor and jewelry engraved with verses or blessed with special meaning for a certain purpose. In such a popular and long-established world it’s hard to create something new, but like the Kabbalah modern dancing group, examples of creativity are out there waiting to be found.

Kabbalah Friendship Bracelet by MIZZE
Mizze Jewelry, a company in Israel recently created a new line of handmade jewelry that combines two very traditional and popular ideas, the red string strand from Rachel’s Tomb and the friendship bracelet we all know and love, the result is what they call the Kabbalah Friendship Bracelet.
How is it done you wonder, well, within the hand knit friendship bracelet given by men and women of all ages throughout the world, runs a single Red String strand believed to offer the wearer protection and ward off spiritual harm.

What caught my eye about the combination is the fact that the idea marries a worldwide cultural tradition to the ancient Kabbalah mystical tradition while managing to preserve the beauty and uniqueness of each, love and friendship are interweaved with good fortune and safekeeping.

UNESCO Shuns Iran with World Philosophy Day

Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, World Philosophy Day has been held on every third November since 2002. The event is:

“An opportunity to make philosophical reflection accessible to all (professors and students, scholars and the general public, the young and the less young), thereby enlarging the opportunities and spaces for the stimulation of critical thinking and debate.”

According to UNESCO.org.

2010 World Philosophy Day TehranIn 2008, UNESCO accepted Iran’s bid to host this year’s World Philosophy Day; but a group of academics, the U.S. and the European Union, demanded a boycott due to Iran’s culture of hatred toward the ayatolla’s domestic opposition, the West and the Jewish State of Israel. The New York Times wrote that UNESCO, by holding the celebration in Tehran risked “turning its ‘school of freedom’ into a propaganda exercise for a brutal regime.”

On November 9th, UNESCOs Secretary General, Irina Bokova made the decision to not hold the proceedings in Tehran, final. She said:

“The conditions necessary to guarantee the effective organization of a UN international conference have not been met.”

Iran, who blames the Jews, refuses to comply with UNESCOs decision and may be holding a little philosophy celebration of their own:

“Despite all attempted sabotage by the Zionists, the World Philosophy Day will be held in a more impressive manner this year than in past years.”

Said Ambassador Mohammadreza Majidi to the Persian service, IRNA last Thursday.

UNESCOs decision is expressed in a letter available here.

Party on Tel Aviv

This week Lonely Planet, a travel guide company released their Top 10 Cities for 2011 and placed Tel Aviv at number three, calling it a “modern sin city.”

New York City came in first and Tangier second.
The report was as follows:

Tel Aviv

“Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill. Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple. Yet, scratch underneath the surface and Tel Aviv, or TLV, reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub. By far the most international city in Israel, Tel Aviv is also home to a large gay community, a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East. Thanks to its university and museums, it is also the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes.”

In other news, the student union at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan is hosting a party on November 4th, at Tel Aviv’s Haoman club, featuring a live performance by national hip-hop superstars, Hadag Nachash.

The party happens to coincide with the 15-year anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

According to a report in Ynet, one Bar-Ilan student said:

“The official memorial day for the prime minister’s assassination is marked according to the Hebrew calendar but the student union should have been more sensitive, especially since the assassin, Yigal Amir, was a student at Bar-Ilan. It’s very embarrassing that of all unions the Bar-Ilan Student Union would hold the party on this date.”

The university’s student union responded:

“We are aware of the public significance of the memorial day for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and on the official, Hebrew memorial day, special panels were held as well as a ceremony at the university… We sent representatives to the memorial rally last Saturday night. We respect the Rabin assassination anniversary. Any attempt to sully the Bar-Ilan University including all its students and present the student union in a negative light is cynical and even ridiculous.”

Cast Down Your Buckets

Those who point fingers at Jewish Settlers and cry, “Colonialists, go back where you belong!” should kick rocks. They are in desperate need of a history lesson, if they are not hopelessly anti-Semitic.

What makes the Israeli “occupation” of the “West Bank” comparison with South African Apartheid false is the fact that the true colonizers of the Holy Land were the British, beginning with their defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. When the Jews were partitioned the land in 1947 – all actual colonizing stopped. Lands acquired after 1967 are no different.

Besides for what is written in the Old Testament – that the Jews were divinely awarded all the land stretching to the Jordan River – archeology can attest to the fact that the majority of the land’s population belonged indeed to Jews, until the Europeans came and destroyed it.

The tomb of Rachel is in Bethlehem, a stone’s throw from Jerusalem. The tomb of Joseph (partially destroyed in 2000 by Palestinians) is in Shechem, near Nablus. And Hebron is famously the resting place of the patriarchs, Abraham, Sarah, Issac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.

The irony is that the Israeli government cannot get the majority of Palestinians to recognize the Jewishness of the country (something Abbas claims actually happened during the 1993 Oslo Accords). The victory of truth would have Palestinians recognizing the right of the Jewish people to the land of the Palestinian Authority.

On May 8, 2007, Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer reported that he had discovered the tomb of Herod the Great, the once-king of Judea (the southernmost division of Judea), above tunnels and water pools at a flattened site halfway up the hill to the ancient town of Herodium, 7.5 miles inside the “West Bank.”

Further excavations from 2009-2010 uncovered near the tomb base a small 450-seat capacity theater with an elaborately decorated royal theater box; excavations of which are currently being continued, under the decried “Jewish Occupation.” Herod’s royal box once loomed over the “nosebleed” seats at the circa-15 B.C. private amphitheater.

“In order to attract people, there were gardens and waterworks, and the place became famous,”

Said Ehud Netzer, a professor emeritus of archeology at the Hebrew University.

“The theater indicates that the experiment worked: there was lots of life there. Hundreds, if not thousands, of guests would visit the place and there was justification to provide them with entertainment.”

Indeed Jewish life was once rich in the “West Bank.” And Arab history has never seen the likes of the annexations and genocide which caused the Jews’ expulsion between two-thousand and one-thousand years ago.

Shortly before the King’s death in 4 B.C – less than ten years after its construction,

“The theater and other structures were dismantled, so that the mountain would have a clean cone shape to host his grave,”

Said Netzer, The mausoleum stood out but all the other structures were demolished.

“The moment a decision was made to dismantle the theater, it was used as housing by site managers and laborers responsible for the reconstruction work…They scrawled graffiti on the walls while they stayed there, mostly in Greek and Aramaic.”

The true magic of the excavations is the artwork on the walls of the amphitheatre.

“Our art history expert said, ‘Hang on, this is something very familiar from Italy,'”

In terms of both style and method, exclaimed Netzer.

“The technique used here was not particularly accepted in this region; it was secco rather than fresco”

That means painted on dry plaster instead of moist.
The pictures are not only Roman style but Roman made. “It was a one-time mission,” perhaps executed in advance of the visit of Roman leader, Marcus Agrippa to Judea, he said.

“The artists came, they painted, and they returned to Italy.”

Also, a synagogue dating to before the year-70 A.D., one of the oldest in the Jewish Country, found at Herodium is of the “Galilean-type,” and features stone benches built along the walls and aisles formed by columns that supported the roof.

In August, a group of Israeli and then eventually Hollywood performers – actors, writers and producers – declared that they would not perform at a brand new theatre of the Cultural Center in Ariel, near the University Center.

The boycott was the brain-child of one Palestinian-rights activist, Harriet Sherwood:

“More than 60 have joined the protest over plans by Israel‘s national theatre, the Habima, and other leading companies to stage performances in Ariel, a settlement 12 miles inside the West Bank…

…Ariel, home to almost 20,000 people, was founded in 1978 deep in the West Bank. Israel wants it to remain on its side of any border resulting from peace negotiations with the Palestinians. All settlements on occupied territory are illegal under international law.”

Prime-Minister Netanyahu complained:

“The State of Israel is under an attack of delegitimization by elements in the international community. This attack includes attempts to enact economic, academic and cultural boycotts. The last thing we need at this time is to be under such an attack – I mean this attempt at a boycott – from within.”

“I do not want to deny the right of any person, of any artist, to hold to a political opinion. He or she can express this opinion, but we, as a government, do not need to fund boycotts. We do not have to support boycotts directed at Israeli citizens in any manner whatsoever.

“I was pleased to hear Culture Minister Limor Livnat announce that the theaters concerned have stated that they would continue to hold their performances in the various communities as planned.”

He continued,

“This is the correct approach, as opposed to the incorrect approach of pushing or trying to promote boycotts against Israeli citizens.”

As it happens, European, Israeli and American activists have a habit of putting the muzzle on those for whom they are protesting. The following is from Ynet:

Some 11,500 students, among them 500 Arab and Druze Israelis, began the academic year Sunday at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, which is located in the West Bank, beyond the Green Line.

“I scored high on my psychometric exam and could have enrolled in Tel Aviv University and other institutions, but here the enrollment process was quicker. This was the first place that accepted me, so I decided to go for it,”

Said 20-year-old Tayibe resident Manar Diuani, who is studying computer science….

Joana Moussa, a 20-year-old behavioral sciences student from Abu Snan, an Arab village in the Galilee region, said politics does play a role.

“All of the students in Ariel fear the day will come when they’ll be told their diploma cannot be recognized because they studied in the territories. But as of today, our diploma is recognized everywhere.

“I am very pleased because the professors give us personal attention and there is no racism here. Perhaps in other places people would have commented on my name or ethnicity, but here I’m accepted for who I am,” She said.

Katharina Wagner Will Be Staying in Germany

Great-granddaughter of German composer Richard Wagner canceled a trip to Israel after the leaked news of the visit prompted criticism over her anti-Semitic ancestor.

Katharina Wagner was scheduled to visit the Jewish Country and invite the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open next summer’s Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

The visit, which according to Haaretz had been kept secret for a year, was leaked to the Israeli media to the reception of hot and cold reactions both from Israel and abroad.

Usually, Wagner’s works are not performed in Israel where he is unloved for his reputation as an outspoken anti-Semite whose work was venerated by Hitler.

Chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, Erella Talmi told Israel’s Army Radio that the orchestra will play in the opening of the month-long festival of Richard Wagner operas.

“The decision was not to break a taboo,”

Said Talmi,

“The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness.”

Hence, she drew a distinction between performing Wagner in Israel and abroad.

The new Austrian conductor of the orchestra, Roberto Paternostro is a friend of Katharina Wagner’s.
Some musicologists date the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Wagner’s Tristan – the Hendrix-esque “Tristan Chord”.

His music is especially known for its early introduction to 20th century atonality.

During the 1870’s, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was part of the composer’s in-crowd – and in fact, Nietzsche (also known to have an anti-Semitic edge, though less sharp) proposed in his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, that Wagner’s music is the “Dionysian rebirth of European culture in opposition to Appollonian rationalist decadence”.

A prolific writer, Wagner wrote a famous essay in 1850, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), a polemic in opposition to Jewish composers in general, and in particular one Giacomo Meyerbeer. He was also well-known for his mistreatment of German-Jewish composer and conductor, Hermann Levi.

Unpublished Kafka to see Light of Day

For more than 40 years, the treasure trove of unseen and unpublished possibly important Franz Kafka works lay stacked in piles in a humid apartment in a Tel Aviv suburb. The cache consisted of thousands of decomposing postcards, letters, manuscripts and drawings by the Czech-born Jewish writer.

Franz KafkaWell, after a legal battle taking more than two years, papers from a collection began to emerge from the vaults, yesterday, of a bank in Zürich, Switzerland.

The amount of works discovered could lead to a re-assessment of the tormented and reclusive writer, who died at age 40 in 1924, from Tuberculosis, whose family was killed in the Holocaust.

Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague – when he died, he was a little-known Jewish writer with a handful of published German stories to his name.

Just prior to his death in a Vienna sanatorium, the writer entrusted his friend, Max Brod with his collection of unpublished handwritten documents, insisting famously that all papers “should be burned unread and without remnant” after his death. Well this never happened and Max Brod’s former secretary was watching over them in the cat infested first floor Tel Aviv suburb.

Brod, after Kafka’s death did not follow his friends wishes and instead published some of the works including The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.

When the Nazi’s invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Brod, a fervent Zionist, stuffed the collection of manuscripts into a suitcase and left for Israel.

Esther Hoffe, Brod’s housekeeper and alleged lover sold an original manuscript of The Trial in 1988 at Sotheyby’s, on behalf of the German literary archive in the city of Marbach. It fetched an estimated one-million dollars. On a separate occasion, when she was arrested at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on suspicion of smuggling, letters and a travel journal by Kafka were found in her bag.

Israel’s state archive was allowed to catalogue Hoffe’s collection, yet there was always a suspicion that she had hidden away the most valuable portions of it.

Now that Hoffe has recently passed away at age 101, many in the Jewish Country are angry about talk of removing some of the papers from the country and selling them to Germany’s Marbach archive. Israel regards the Kafka legacy as a national treasure and a very key to pre-Holocaust European Jewish life.

Flames


Rafal Betlejewski, a Polish performance artist burned down a barn in the central region of the country in a commemoration of the July, 1941 Jedwabne incident.

In this deadly pogrom, in the presence of Nazi German Ordnungspolizei, approximately 340 Jewish people were locked inside a barn and burned alive by gentile Polish nationals.

Betlejewski said:

“Poland is a completely different country than it was 80 years ago when there was a big and significant Jewish minority, which participated in Poland’s cultural, social and scientific development…These people are gone after the Holocaust and later waves of emigration, and I miss them more and more. This performance is addressed to Poles first and foremost, to those ignorant who know nothing about Jews’ input in Poland’s history.”

A typical shtetl, consisting of 757 Jewish people, that is 61.9% of the town’s total population, Jedwabne was established sometime during the 18th century.

More than 1,000 people were present to witness the barn burning ceremony.


Betlejewski read out the names of people who sent in their thoughts and left their notes inside a barn rebuilt outside of the town of Zawada. He poured petrol inside the structure and lit it.

As the wooden bar went ablaze, the Polish artist rushed out of it.

So today I think of the pressure on the Jewish Country to give up its settlements in the Golan Heights and in east Jerusalem.

I think of Helen Thomas’s recent comments; and I think of the post-Nazi Kielce pogrom on July 4th, 1946 when a false tale of child kidnapping and blood libel allegations resulted in the murder of 39 Jewish Poles.

Let us never allow it to happen again and let us never forget.

Am Israel Chai…

Unique Israeli Artist Jack Jaget

Jack Jaget is a graduate of Music and Art High School and the Cooper Union Art School of New York. For some years he was the Art Director at the World Publishing Company. Once, this master designed books for most major publishing companies in the States, for which he won many awards, among these:

Best 50 Books – American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA children’s book selection (A total of 14 books), honor book for the Caldecott Medal, and he was a member of AIGA and the American Heritage of Graphic Arts.

In 1974 Jaget, his wife and three children immigrated to Israel and founded a graphic studio which turned out designs for companies, hotels and banks such as the Sheraton and Carlton Penta, Bank Hapoalim, the BIRD Foundation, and others.
Hebrew Wood Mezuzah Case by Jack Jaget
Wood-working has long been Jack’s great love – so he turned it into an occupation. Each Jack Jaget piece is individually fashioned in various woods and decorated with gold leaf. All of the metallic parts are gold plated. He uses the finest lacquer finishes, to give his creations a unique and mysterious Middle Ages aura.

A number of Jack’s pieces have been presented to CEOs and notable scholars. Among well-known personalities who were the recipients of Jack’s books are, the late King of Jordan, as well as US President George W. Bush.

His work includes; Bibles, Tehillim, Sidurim, Pesach Haggadot, Machzorim, Tzadakah Boxes, Torah Pointers and Mezuzah Cases.

Meet the artist Shraga Landesman

Pomegranate Hebrew Seder Plate by Shraga Landesman

When you visit the Website of artist Shraga Landesman you’ll see this quote:

“My spiritual sources are the Bible and the ancient cultures that lived in the region. A disappearing world that I miss which does not exist anymore. I confront this world my way, trying to decode familiar cultural codes from those magic objects that these cultures left behind”.

Shraga Landesman was born in Israel where he studied sculpture and painting at the Oranim College of Art and Tel-Hai College. There was seemingly no limit to the borders of Landesman’s creative output. In 1982 he won first prize in a documentary photograph competition in Israel. His photographs were widely exhibited in Haifa.

At this successful juncture in Shraga’s career, he traveled through Europe where he was exposed to the origins of Western culture, hints of which were left there by the ruins of ancient civilizations such as that of Greece and Rome. Inspired by this, he enrolled at Haifa University, concentrating on small scale sculptures. A constant itch for creative expression led him to the designing and creation of ceremonial Judaica – this is what he is best known for, and this has been the focus of his artistic output since 1996. Shraga Landesman’s creations in functional Judaica are even featured at several museums, galleries and fine craft-stores throughout Israel, Europe and the United States.

Shraga’s Judaica comes in the form of mezuzot, Hanukkah menorahs, pesach items, candle holders, serving items, havdallah sets, Kiddush sets, and more. Currently his photography focuses on Birds of Israel.

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