Becky Davis reports: Over the remains of the Chinese-style Passover banquet – soups with bamboo and huge chunks of fresh tofu, steamed fish and platters of crisp greens in mustard sauce – Li Penglin, 16, lifted a glass of Israeli wine from his place at the head table. Quietly but without faltering, he read out a Chinese translation of a Hebrew prayer.
About 50 guests, including several local government officials, responded with a chorus of amens, downing their thimblefuls of wine while self-consciously leaning to the left. Some poked neighbors who, unfamiliar with the Jewish custom, had neglected to incline.
It was an atypical scene on an atypical occasion: a Chinese celebration of Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.
“There’s no conflict between Passover and Qingming. They’re both about remembrance of ancestors – very similar, just with different methods.”
In a hotel dining room festooned with purple garlands for a coming wedding, Chinese of Jewish descent in the central city of Kaifeng came together on Friday night for a Seder, the traditional Passover meal over which the Exodus story is recounted. Just two days before Qingming, the “tomb-sweeping” festival when Chinese traditionally pay their respects at family graves, they had gathered to recall ancestors even more ancient and a world away.
The millennium-old Jewish population of Kaifeng has witnessed a surprising revival in recent years, a phenomenon all the more notable for the tolerant eye that the Chinese government, which does not count Judaism among state-sanctioned religions, seems to have turned toward it.
Eight clans in Kaifeng claim to be able to trace their lineage back to a small number of Sephardic Jews who made this fertile region their home in the 12th century, when Kaifeng was the capital of the Northern Sung Dynasty and a bustling hub on the Silk Road. But intermarriage, assimilation and isolation eroded their numbers over time. Floods and fires repeatedly destroyed the city’s synagogue, which was not rebuilt after a flood in the 1850s. The Cultural Revolution in the 1960s further quashed any lingering expressions of religious practice. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo/AFP Norwegian Muslims create a human peace ring around the synagogue in Oslo, Norway on February 21, 2015. More than a 1,000 joined a peace vigil in Oslo Saturday, hosted by young Norwegian Muslims in a show of solidarity with Jews a week after fatal shootings in Denmark targeted a synagogue and free speech seminar.
“We want to show our support to the Jews after what happened in Copenhagen.”
As the small mainly elderly Jewish congregation filed out of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves, formed a symbolic ring outside the building to roaring applause from a crowd of more than 1,000 people.
“This is the best possible response we can give to the polarisation we’ve seen in debates after the attacks in France and Denmark.”
“This shows that there are many more peacemakers than war-makers,” 37-year-old Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the organisers told the crowd.
“There is still hope for humanity, for peace and love across religious differences and background,” he added, before a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air with many demonstrators adding their voices to the Hebrew chants.
Norway’s chief rabbi appeared visibly moved when he said it was the first time the ceremony had taken place outdoors with so many people.
“It is unique that Muslims stand to this degree against anti-Semitism and that fills us with hope… particularly as it’s a grassroots movement of young Muslims,” said Norway’s Jewish community leader Ervin Kohn, adding that the rest of the world should “look to Norway”.
“Working against fear alone is difficult and it is good that we are so many here together today.”
There was a heavy police presence at the event and sharp shooters placed on surrounding buildings but no incidents were reported. Read the rest of this entry »
Chagall: Love, War and Exile
Exhibition at the Jewish Museum
Ivan Kenneally writes: It’s a testament to the breadth of an artist’s body of work that more than one school of interpretation claims it, especially when those claims seem to be issued on mutually exclusive grounds. Marc Chagall (1887-1985) has inspired impressively schizophrenic critical accounts of his artistic efforts, at once called the “quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century” and a “pioneer of modernism.” He is often characterized as both a chronicler of provincial Jewish folklore and an urbane, cosmopolitan aesthete. Treatments of Chagall’s artistic achievements typically either highlight his nostalgic depictions of rural Jewish life in his Russian hometown, Vitebsk, or the sophisticated European universalism he imbibed in Paris.
The apparent polarity of Chagall’s influences often translates into a wild cacophony of images inhabiting the same canvas: Christian and Jewish, Russian and Parisian, urban and rural, sectarian and secular, ancient and modern. It has become increasingly common for his critics to find only unresolved conflict as the abiding theme in his work, the result of which are paintings over-teeming with cramped symbolism, or what the art historian James Sweeny called “curious representational juxtapositions.”
This untidy melange of influences seems to issue from one perceived incongruence: Chagall’s Judaism, and the emphasis on his attachment to a particular community of people, and his modernism, or his magnetic attraction to a universal conception of mankind. The rise of the modern state dictated a split between church and state, relegating religion to a matter of conscience, a private affair conducted by individuals out of the public square. But traditional Judaism defies this compartmentalization, asserting itself primarily as a public practice, authoritative for the whole body politic. While individual Jews generally enjoyed a greater measure of freedom within this new configuration, the cost was the expression of an authentic Judaism which refuses to be numbered merely one pursuit among many, bereft of public power. The eminent Jewish historian Jacob Katz, writing about the tension between Jewish practice and modern German culture, articulated the conundrum for Jews with concision: “Jews had been emancipated, Jewishness was not.”
A few weeks ago, when French Jewish actor Elie Semoun was a prime-time guest on one of the main French television channels, Canal Plus, the words of Sebastian Thoen, a standup comedian who introduced him may have been meant to be to be laudatory, but took quite a different turn: “You never plunged into communitarianism [Jewish activism] … You could have posted yourself in the street selling jeans and diamonds from the back of a minivan, saying ‘Israel is always right, f*** Palestine, wallala.’ You show that it is possible to be of the Jewish faith without being completely disgusting.” [VIDEO]
Semoun was obviously ill-at-ease, but did not react. A couple hours after the show, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) issued a statement denouncing a “dangerous trivialization of anti-Semitism.” The President of the TV channel responded by saying that the Jewish community had “no sense of humor.” The incident occurred, however, in a context where the French Jewish community has no reason to have a sense of humor.
At the end of 2012, Jewish France was republished. The book is a tirade of extreme anti-Semitism, originally published in 1886 by the author Edouard Drumont, and reprinted repeatedly until after World War II and the fall of the Vichy regime.
via sharia unveiled
For the third morning in a row, Arabs rioted on the Temple Mount, attempting to attack groups of Jews who sought to visit the holiest site in Judaism during the Sukkot holiday. Police again Thursday deployed large numbers of officers to keep the Arabs from attacking the Jews.
Police have reported that there were mild protests during recent days, but video footage showed dozens of young Arabs actively trying to attack Jews who were visiting the Mount. In one video, a Wakf official is seen threatening to break the camera of a Jew filming footage of the Arab rioters.
Earlier in the week, Arutz Sheva reported on a large Arab riot that greeted Jews who attempted to visit the Temple Mount on the first day of Chol Hamo’ed, the intermediate days of Sukkot. “When we went up on the Temple Mount, we were greeted with cries of ‘Allah is Great,’” said Asaf Fried, one of the members of a group that visited the Mount Tuesday. “The police again did nothing, even towards the end of the visit when the Arabs really came close to us and blocked our exit, shouting, ‘We will expel the Jews in blood and fire and will butcher Jews.’ The police still did nothing,” and the group of Jews escaped without harm, Fried said.
During the rioting, police arrested five Arabs for attacking a police officer. One Jewish worshipper was detained as well, police said, for failing to listen to their instructions.On Tuesday, police arrested Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, along with another Israeli, for attempting to pray at the site. On Wednesday, Rabbi Yehuda Leibman, director of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva was taken into custody for allegedly praying at Judaism’s holiest site. Later in the day, 87-year-old Dr. Menachem Ben-Yashar, a long-time activist for Jewish rights on the Mount was arrested. Also detained was Elyashiv Sherlo, son of Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, head of the Petach Tikva yeshiva.
Jewish activists once again called on police to learn how to respond more effectively to Arab riots, and to establish a procedure at the Temple Mount similar to that at the Machpelah Cave – allowing Jews access to the site, at least on Jewish holidays.
By David Lev >> via Security – News – Israel National News
- Israel: Islamists Riot On Temple Mount, ‘We Will Expel The Jews In Blood And Fire And Will Butcher Jews’ (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)
- Arabs Riot for Third Day on Temple Mount (menorahblog.typepad.com)
- Arabs riot at Temple Mount for third consecutive day (israelnationalnews.com)
- Video of Muslims harassing peaceful Jews on Temple Mount (ifaynsh.wordpress.com)
- Confrontation on Temple Mount leads to arrests of five Arabs, one Jew (timesofisrael.com)
- Temple Mount Closed to Jews (jewishpress.com)
- More Jews Arrested for Praying on Temple Mount (jewishpress.com)