Friday, September 17, 2021

From Ian:

Interview‘People Love Dead Jews,’ says Dara Horn, but the living ones don’t fare as well
Author Dara Horn surprised herself by choosing “People Love Dead Jews” as the title of her new collection of essays. She was even more amazed that her publisher agreed to let her keep it.

Horn’s testing the limits of good taste is not gratuitous. It’s a justified provocation that draws readers into the incisive analysis that she weaves through the book’s 12 individual but thematically-linked pieces.

To be clear, Horn isn’t talking about dead Jews in the literal sense… at least not entirely.

“It’s not dead Jews, as in people wanting to see Jews die,” Horn explained in a recent interview with The Times of Israel from her home in New Jersey.

Rather, she said, it’s about the insidious ways in which non-Jewish societies — including contemporary America — pressure or gaslight Jews into modifying, glossing over, or erasing their own identity altogether.

Horn noticed this particularly with regard to how the general public uses dead Jews — from Anne Frank, to Hasidic Jews killed in a terror attack on a kosher market in Jersey City in December 2019, to fictional Jewish characters — to accomplish this.

“The role dead Jews play in non-Jewish civilization is not the same as the one that they play in Jewish civilization,” Horn said.

A scholar of Jewish history and literature, Horn has until now preferred to focus her work on how Jews lived in different places and eras, rather than on how they died.

But her observations made her want to “unravel, document, describe and articulate the endless unspoken ways the popular obsession with dead Jews, even in its most benign and civic-minded forms, is a profound affront to human dignity,” as she writes in the book’s introduction. ‘People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present’ by Dara Horn (W. W. Norton & Company)

After writing five well-received novels grounded in different eras in Jewish history, Horn, 44, turned her attention to “People Love Dead Jews” (and her parallel podcast, “Adventures With Dead Jews,”) after being asked to write opinion pieces and articles responding to events such as the fatal shooting attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018.

“I started noticing in the past several years that every time my editors from mainstream publications would ask me to write something, it was about dead Jews or antisemitism,” Horn said.

“I became the go-to person for this emerging literary genre — synagogue shooting op-eds. I did not apply for this job,” she said with the kind of dark humor that she laces throughout the essays in the book, some of them previously published.
Education Minister urges IHRA adoption
[Australian] Federal Minister for Education Alan Tudge addressed Jewish community leaders on Monday night, voicing his support for a nationwide implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

During the Zoom hosted by president of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) Jeremy Leibler, Tudge told his audience that the IHRA definition is currently being considered by the Morrison government and that he is “determined to see this implemented and adopted as government policy” – hoping that it would then be adopted by key institutions, including universities.

Earlier this year, addressing an Executive Council of Australian Jewry online forum, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese pledged that a future Labor government would endorse the IHRA definition.

Tudge went on to note that while the public universally calls out “filthy antisemitism” from the far right, his “equal concern to that antisemitism is the antisemitism which is emerging very rapidly and very aggressively, from the left”.

“Instead of it being done in the dark, at night when no one’s watching, it’s often done quite proudly, as if it’s a virtue signal from some on the extreme left,” he commented, recalling Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside’s recent tweets equating the actions of Israel to those of the Nazis.

Tudge recognised universities as a channel for what he called antisemitism “under the cloak of anti-Zionism”.

Acknowledging the discrimination some Jewish students experience on campus, he added that anti-Zionism is “the same as any other form of antisemitism”.

He said his greatest concern is that this “open left-wing antisemitism starts to infiltrate more broadly into our mainstream political parties”, suggesting that it already has in relation to the Greens and is starting to creep into the Labor party, noting what happened with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.
The Omar I knew: What ‘The Wire’ actor Michael K. Williams taught my Jewish students at NYU
Awe and humility are my abiding memories of the evening. A packed room of Jewish students were thinking deeply about what incarceration and freedom could look like, and about how justice could be structured around atonement for crimes and self-improvement rather than around punishment. Without exception, the students who spoke to me afterward — none of whom came from an activist background — expressed how much they would be bringing from the evening to their seder tables.

Michael, Dominic, Derrick and Dana stayed on for dinner after the event sharing stories, taking pictures, answering questions. Schmoozing. In addition to telling their critically important stories, they had also come to meet the audience, hear their stories and find common ground. A friend of mine — a rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in the U.K. — saw my Facebook posts about the event and brought Derrick and Dana to speak to his community.

After the event, Michael said to me that “if the Black and Jewish communities could work together, nothing would be able to stop us.”

Michael wished to tell the story of his own community, but simultaneously expressed a genuine curiosity about the Jewish community. We spoke about doing a series of conversations with one another on the book of Exodus — the original story of slavery and liberation — and its relevance to our times. One day he was in the building at the same time as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, and expressed an interest in meeting the man I had described to him as “the premier Jewish thinker, a man obsessed with justice.” The students’ meeting with Rabbi Sacks ran overtime, otherwise the King would have met the Lord.

Michael was open about his struggles with addiction and passed away from a suspected drug overdose. His passing has been in my mind throughout this week of preparation for Yom Kippur. It feels appropriate to reflect on what we can all learn from those who face similar battles to Michael.

Maimonides lists the threefold requirement of teshuvah, or repentance, as confession (vidui), regret (charata) and determination for the future (kabala l’atid). I have seen no greater lived example of the struggle to live those three elements than those who struggle to overcome addiction.

Those people I have been privileged to know, such as Michael, for whom every day is a challenge, show us the truth that we would all do well to remember, that teshuvah is not something that is “achieved,” a destination arrived at. Rather teshuvah, like the recovery from addiction, is an ongoing process and struggle that is never over but requires constant work and regular re-examination.

As Michael went through many struggles, he simultaneously used his story, fame and innate brilliance to help others. And he did this with humility and a smile.

No matter how great Omar Little is, Michael K. Williams was infinitely greater. May his memory be a blessing.

Antisemitism Masked as Anti-Israel Bias at Berkeley
Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, took the top spot in the annual Forbes rankings of America’s top colleges. The business magazine offered a whole host of reasons as to why Berkeley had been awarded the coveted title, including its “world-class academics, great sports, a stunning Bay Area setting, reasonable costs and a storied history.”

Despite these plaudits, the college has been struggling with a deeply unpleasant problem for some years now: namely, rising antisemitism and a culture of anti-Israel bigotry on campus.

Just this month, Berkeley’s Chancellor Carol Christ was forced to issue an apology in response to revelations by the Anti-Defamation League that Hatem Bazian, an Islamic law and theology scholar who teaches in the university’s Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, had retweeted a gruesome cartoon depicting an Israeli soldier holding up the heart of a Palestinian man.

Bazian, who was apparently not censured over his social media use, has a long history of antisemitic outbursts.

He previously retweeted an image of a Jewish man celebrating alongside the caption: “I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians.” Another image shared by the academic depicted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un wearing a kippah and saying: “I converted all of North Korea to Judaism. Donald Tlump [sic]: Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare.”

In an email, Bazian later claimed he had not been “careful enough” in reading the image text. He deleted the posts and added: “The image in the tweet and the framing relative to Judaism and conversion was wrong and offensive and not something that reflects my position, be it in the past or the present.”

Just months later, Bazian, who is also a leader in Students for Justice in Palestine, which has accused Israel of “genocide” and whose rhetoric has included complaints of “Judaization,” retweeted several comments that used the hashtag #PalestinianHolocaust and compared the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to a “concentration camp.”

Despite Bazian’s virulent antisemitism, his position at Berkeley does not appear to be in jeopardy.
20 Years Later: Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle East Studies in America - Martin Kramer
Published six weeks after 9/11, Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers on Sand rebuked professors of Middle East studies who championed one failed intellectual orthodoxy after another – even as they missed the real story, such as the rise of Islamism. Have Middle East studies improved or further degenerated since 2001? What can outsiders do to help?

Salma Yaqoob, Lowkey and staffers at CAGE and MEND claim Bristol’s David Miller is being censored from criticising Israel
700 Muslims from around the world, led by the divisive British politician Salma Yaqoob, rapper Lowkey and leaders of the controversial CAGE activist group, have signed an open letter claiming that Prof. David Miller is being censored from criticising Israel.

The letter states that “as British Muslims” the supposed “orchestrated pile-on by pro-Israel groups, politicians and public figures against Professor David Miller is a tactic we recognise very well.”

Prof. Miller, a Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol, is a conspiracy theorist with a history of controversy relating to Jewish students. In his latest outburst, which is under investigation, he asserted that “Zionism is racism”, declared his objective “to end Zionism as a functioning ideology of the world” and accused the Bristol University Jewish Society of being part of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy, adding that it is “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”. At the same online event, Prof. Miller also observed that the Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students are Zionist, thereby implying that Jewish students (and the wider Jewish community) inherently “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”.

He also portrayed the International Definition of Antisemitism as an attack on free speech and accused the Israeli Government of engaging in an “all-out attack” on the global Left as part of an “attempt by the Israelis to impose their will all over the world”. In comments reminiscent of the darkest years of the United Nations, Prof. Miller insisted that “Zionism is racism” and asked how “we defeat the ideology of Zionism in practice”, “how is Zionism ended” and about the way “to end Zionism as a functioning ideology of the world”.

The letter goes on delusionally to declare that Prof. Miller’s “work on Islamophobia is among the most highly respected in the world” and that “the campaign against Professor Miller is about censoring speech on Islamophobia and Israel. This campaign is carefully calibrated to muddy the waters between anti-Zionism (opposition to a dangerous, racist political ideology) and hatred of Jews. The attacks on Professor Miller are an example of how the IHRA Working [International] Definition of Antisemitism is being weaponised by supporters of Israel and by Islamophobes.”
Labour councillor reported to the Party after joining antisemitic “from the river to the sea” chant at Liverpool rally populated by controversial figures
Labour Party councillor has been reported to the Party after video footage emerged that seemingly showed him partaking in the antisemitic “from the river to the sea” chant at an anti-arms rally in Liverpool.

Sam Gorst, Labour councillor for Liverpool’s Cressington ward, is believed to have been one of the protesters leading the crowd on Saturday. At one point, the crowd can be heard chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

The chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, only makes sense as a call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state – and its replacement with a State of Palestine – and is thus an attempt to deny Jews, uniquely, the right to self-determination, which is a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism.

Labour Against Antisemitism said on Twitter that in light of Mr Gorst’s alleged behaviour at Saturday’s demonstration, as well as his reported membership in the now-proscribed Labour fringe groups, Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) and Labour in Exile Network (LIEN), the group has reported the Labour councillor.

Mr Gorst released a statement on Twitter in response to the backlash of his supposed appearance at the rally which stated that his record “stands for itself” and that “bullies will always be bullies”. He added: “They will not break me with their nastiness especially when all I am doing is showing opposition to injustices of the world.”

Dame Louise Ellman, the former MP for Liverpool Riverside – who was allegedly branded a “disgrace” by Mr Gorst for quitting the Labour Party due to antisemitism – condemned Mr Gorst’s reported involvement and said: “I was appalled to see a Labour councillor singing Hamas chants about annihilating Israel. This brings the Labour Party into disrepute.”

It has also been reported that Mr Gorst was recently reinstated after being suspended from the Party for twelve months, though the reason is not publicly known. In 2019, Mr Gorst was cleared of antisemitism accusations, later claiming that he was the victim of a “smear campaign”.
Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial liaison to Jewish community under investigation by Labour over alleged antisemitism denial, while JVL plans fringe event after spate of expulsion threats
Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial liaison to the Jewish community is under investigation by the Labour Party in connection with alleged antisemitism-denial.

Heather Mendick’s appointment to the role by Mr Corbyn in 2019 was criticised by Jewish groups due to her views, which included that antisemitism claims had been “weaponised” and opposition to Labour’s adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism. She also joined disgraced MP Chris Williamson on his “Democracy Roadshow” and expressed “solidarity” for Jenny Manson, a Chair of Jewish Voice For Labour (JVL), an antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation. Ms Mendick even signed a letter in The Guardian claiming that Mr Corbyn was a “formidable” opponent of antisemitism after Luciana Berger resigned from Labour over its institutional antisemitism.

Ms Mendick was a member of Momentum, the pro-Corbyn campaign group, and worked as a research consultant and Secretary of Hackney South Labour Party. Despite her unfitness, Mr Corbyn appointed her to the role, which reportedly involved working in his office one day a week.

She now faces scrutiny by the Labour Party over a litany of claims that she has made in relation to antisemitism, which have been set out in a letter to her. According to the letter, she is alleged to have described antisemitism allegations as a “smear” and a “false narrative”, among other outrageous claims.

The letter to Ms Mendick is part of a wider crackdown by the Labour Party on members who have affiliated to proscribed factions or expressed views that are either antisemitic or deny the Party’s institutional antisemitism problem. This crackdown has affected members of various factions, including JVL and Labour Against the Witchhunt, the latter of which has been proscribed.
Moazzam Begg and Yvonne Ridley Discuss “The Future of Afghanistan”
Former resident of Afghanistan & of Guantanamo Bay, Moazzam Begg discussed with a former captive of the Taliban, Yvonne Ridley the future of Afghanistan. The star of the show was meant to be Mullah Abdus-Salam Zaeef the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan but he didn’t show up. Instead the two of them had a chat. Here’s some of what they said:

“There are so many people, who are traditionally supporters of anti-imperialism…who support the concept of fighting / defeating a foreign invader / occupier…why the reluctance of some people who are anti-imperialists to…welcome a Taliban victory and the withdrawal / defeat of the United States of America against a…poor group of people who are nowhere as advanced as them?” —Moazzam Begg (21:38–22:28)

“I’m a feminist, and I just don’t know how feminists around the world can wring their hands and bemoan the NATO forces leaving” —Yvonne Ridley (23:25–23:40)

“What I would do, if I was them [the Taliban]…I would get a rebuttal unit in place, to call out and factcheck every little bit of fake news that’s there” —Yvonne Ridley (33:22–33:36)

“They [the media] can’t bear to say anything nice…or anything…not even nice, just factual…about the Taliban” —Yvonne Ridley (38:42–38:55)

“Having seen how innovative and enterprising the Palestinians in Gaza are when it comes to [military] equipment and getting things up and running, I’m quite confident they’ll [the Taliban] probably do the same” —Yvonne Ridley, when asked by Begg about the US weaponry left behind in Afghanistan following withdrawal (45:19–45:35)
Time Magazine Includes Palestinian Terrorist-Supporting El-Kurd Twins in Top 100 List
Notorious anti-Israel activists Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd, who each have a record of supporting terrorism, have been included in TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most-influential people in the world.

Mohammed, in particular, has repeatedly disseminated baseless anti-Israel smears and clear-cut antisemitic tropes while inciting violence on social media. Mona, too, has posted undeniably antisemitic, terror-supporting content, including at least one image of Hitler.

For example, Mohammed earlier this month rejoiced as six Palestinian terrorists broke out of Israel’s maximum-security Gilboa Prison. “I am going to bed with a smile on my face and dreaming of the day all prisons are abolished,” he tweeted, calling the incident “excellent.”

Mohammed’s support for Palestinian terrorists dovetails with his long history of shockingly antisemitic remarks. For instance, in May he called the Israel Defense Forces “sadistic & bloodthirsty,” a slanderous charge reminiscent of medieval blood libels. Similarly, he shared an Instagram post that promoted claims that the Jewish state deliberately kills Palestinians to harvest their organs.

He has furthermore said that Israel “kills,” “blows up,” “burns” and “tortures” Palestinian children in order to “instill terror” in them. Mohammed, who was recently hired by The Nation as its “Palestine” correspondent, has gone so far as to describe Israel as a “child killing entity” — an overt example of Jew-hatred according to the widely adopted IHRA definition.

Related Reading: From Terror Supporter to ‘Palestine Correspondent’: Meet Mohammed El-Kurd, The Nation’s Latest Hire

In an equally repulsive Twitter post, Mohammed claimed — without proof — that “Holocaust survivors” threw Molotov cocktails at his home. He also accused a Hong Kong-based Jewish author of “ethnically cleansing” and “Kristallnachting” Palestinians, the latter being a reference to the Nazi-initiated pogrom in Germany in 1938 that various historians mark as the beginning of the genocide of some six million Jews.

In a similar vein, Mohammed El-Kurd in June praised the “eloquence” of black nationalist Kwame Ture, who in 1970 called Adolf Hitler a “genius” and the “greatest white man” in history. In Ture’s words, “The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.”

In July, Mohammed retweeted a video in which Ture accused Zionists of being “followers of the Satan.”
Four incidents of Gaza rocket fire get twelve words from BBC News
Late on the evening of September 10th terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at the Eshkol region in the Western Negev which was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. As was the case in August when the first incident of rocket fire since May took place, the BBC did not bother to report that breach of the ceasefire that brought Operation Guardian of the Walls to a close.

On the evening of September 11th another rocket was fired at the Sderot area and it too was intercepted.

“A 29-year-old man sustained a light head wound after he fell while running to a bomb shelter. He was taken to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center for treatment, medics said.”

The following evening – September 12th – saw yet another incident, with the rocket again successfully intercepted.

“Shortly before 9 p.m. on Sunday night, one rocket was fired toward the town of Sderot near the Gaza border, triggering sirens there and in the surrounding community. Three Israelis were lightly injured as they scrambled for shelter, according to medics. Another two Israelis were treated by medics for acute anxiety attacks, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.”

In the early hours of September 13th the Eshkol region was targeted once again.

“Rocket sirens went off in the Gaza border area communities of Kissufim and Ein Hashlosha after the rocket was fired and was intercepted by Iron Dome, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. That rocket marked four days in a row that rockets were fired from the enclave into Israel, and the fifth rocket fired since the conclusion of Operation Guardians of the Wall in May.”

BBC audiences did not see any stand-alone coverage of those attacks. However, those reading a report titled “Naftali Bennett makes first visit to Egypt by an Israeli PM in a decade” published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on the afternoon of September 13th found a euphemistic reference to the May ceasefire having been “tested” in a photo caption.
New London play tells real-life story of American Nazi summer camp
What could be more American than summer camp? It has fresh air, sailing, cookouts — and, in Bess Wohl’s new play, swastikas.

“Camp Siegfried” is based on a real-life camp on Long Island in the 1930s that indoctrinated young German-Americans into Nazi ideology. The play has its opening night Friday at London’s Old Vic Theatre, the venue’s first show to full-capacity audiences since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Photos from the era show brown shirt-wearing teenagers parading with Nazi flags, 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Manhattan. Like many Americans, Wohl was unaware of that piece of hidden history — until she found herself pandemic-stranded in a rental house on Long Island, close to the site of the camp.

“It was the pandemic, I was home and I just got really obsessed with the fact that there had been this camp 10 minutes away from where we were staying,” said the New York-born writer, whose plays include “Small Mouth Sounds” — set in a silent retreat — and the divorce comedy “Grand Horizons,” which had a Broadway run just before the virus struck.

“I started driving around the streets, which, of course, looked like these banal Long Island suburban streets. But that, I had found out, were once named Hitler Street and Goebbels Street and all of these things that just sounded incomprehensible to me.”

Camp Siegfried was one of several sponsored by the German-American Bund that aimed to seed Nazi ideology on American soil. The area later became a quiet neighborhood, with bungalows lining streets named for leaders of the Third Reich. The names are long gone, but rules requiring properties to be sold to people of German descent persisted into the 21st century.

New Anne Frank Statue in Guatemala Features Famous Quote From Her diary
A statue honoring Holocaust victim and teenage Jewish diarist Anne Frank was unveiled in Antigua, Guatemala, earlier this month, reported the San Diego Jewish World.

The Anne Frank Children’s Human Rights Memorial, which was dedicated on Sept. 3, rests in the San Sebastian Park across the street from the National School for Girls No. 2, Antonio Castro y Escobar. Saint Sebastian was murdered as a youngster by the Romans for being Christian.

The site for the statute was chosen by Antigua Mayor Victor Hugo del Pozo.

After a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bronze statue was delivered to the Jewish community of Guatemala two months ago. It was created by Jerusalem-based sculptor Sam Philipe and was funded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (JASHP).

One stone panel of the sculpture holds a quote from Frank’s famous diary that was found by her father, the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. It says: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

The second panel states that of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, 1.5 million were children, and “Anne Frank was one of them.” The third stone panel says: “Children are the ultimate victims of adult hatred, bigotry and ignorance.”
Israeli ‘antibacterial weapon’ arms good germs to kill bad germs
A Tel Aviv lab has equipped good bacteria with “poisoned arrows,” which they fire at bad bacteria, dealing them a fatal blow.

“We have built an antibacterial weapon that enables ‘good’ bacteria to attack bad bacteria with toxins and neutralize them,” Dr. Dor Salomon, the lead researcher of the Tel Aviv University project, told The Times of Israel.

His team at the Department of Clinical Biology and Immunology has published an article about its success, in lab conditions, in the peer-reviewed journal EMBO Reports.

It wants to try the technology in fish farms within months, and says that within a few years it could become part of doctors’ arsenal against infections in humans.

Salomon said that since antibiotic resistance is an ever-growing worry to the medical profession, solutions like his that fight infection without deploying drugs have the potential to save many lives.

One of the most effective systems that bad bacteria have for eliminating other bacteria is called the Type 6 Secretion System, discovered around 15 years ago.

Salomon’s team, which also includes researchers Biswanath Jana and Kinga Keppel, has removed this system from bad bacteria. It “installed” the system in harmless bacteria which have been “programmed” to recognize pathogens and attack them, while not harming other microbes.
More than three million Israelis have received a third COVID vaccine
The data also showed that the booster offered 20 times more protection against serious disease and that people who get the booster dose become only 5% as likely as unvaccinated people to get sick. In other words, the vaccine efficacy for individuals who got a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine stands at about 95% - similar to the original “fresh” vaccine efficacy that was reported against the original Wuhan strain. Top FDA members have been split on the necessity of the boosters, with interim head Janet Woodcock backing them and some of the agency's top scientists arguing they are not needed yet.

If the FDA goes ahead and approves the booster, a separate panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet next week to recommend which groups should get them.

The White House said it was ready to roll out boosters next week if health officials approve the plan.

In total, more than 6 million Israelis have already been vaccinated with at least one shot, including more than 5.5 million who have received both doses.

The Health Ministry reported on Friday that 3,227 people were diagnosed with coronavirus the day before - 6.33% of the roughly 55,000 people who screened.
NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Calls Atonement, Repentance the ‘Foundation of Any Humane Civilization’ in Yom Kippur Message
NBA icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke about the important of atonement and repentance in a Yom Kippur message released after the end of the Jewish holiday on Thursday.

Speaking against a backdrop that featured the Jewish Star of David with the Hebrew word shalom in its center, the former professional basketball player called Yom Kippur “the holiest of Jewish holidays, because it asks believers to atone for their sins and seek repentance.”

He continued, “For me, atonement and repentance are the foundation of any humane civilization. Through prayer, meditation or simply self-reflection we admit our failings and try to do better. This is humanity at its noblest and our only hope for a just society.”

He concluded by wishing his Jewish friends a “g’mar chatima tova,” the customary Jewish greeting said during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Abdul-Jabbar, who converted to Islam from Catholicism in 1971, played 20 seasons in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. In July 2020, he denounced the lack of outrage against antisemitism in the sports and entertainment industries, and how it “perpetuates racism,” following incidents involving athletes and artists who made remarks that targeted Jews.

Siberian Jews inaugurate a huge new Jewish education center in Tomsk
A century ago, communists shuttered the synagogues of Tomsk, one of the oldest cities in Siberia.

It was a painful blow, especially to the local community of Jewish Cantonists — former soldiers who had been recruited against their will or abducted into the Russian Tsar’s army and forbidden from practicing their faith. After many years of forced service and persecution, many of them returned to Judaism in Tomsk, a city of about 500,000.

This week, local Jews feel a circle has been completed, as the city opened a Jewish education center, the largest currently in Siberia — the area of Russia that is east of the Ural Mountains and has been home to tens of thousands of Jews.

The building, which has a floor space of about 25,000 square feet, was inaugurated on Sunday with the help of leaders from the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The festive ceremony was attended by about 400 people, including Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who flew in from Moscow, which is situated about 2,000 miles west of Tomsk.

The new center, where 200 Jewish children will attend various classes and workshops, features a kindergarten with three classes of children. With 15 children per class — half of the average at public kindergartens — it’s the only Western-style institution in the city of 500,000, with a robotics lab, modern furnishings, pottery workshops and table tennis stations.

“This whole building was built with donations from Jewish philanthropists, and that’s impressive,” Rabbi Levy Kaminetzky, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s emissary to Tomsk, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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