WBEZ | Jewish http://www.wbez.org/tags/jewish Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en This Isn't The First Time Americans Have Shown Fear Of Refugees http://www.wbez.org/news/isnt-first-time-americans-have-shown-fear-refugees-113888 <p><div id="res456922619" previewtitle="The Statue of Liberty, as seen through windows on the south side of the Great Hall at Ellis Island."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Statue of Liberty, as seen through windows on the south side of the Great Hall at Ellis Island." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/21/ap_341703699854_wide-69453f4b153ef88326af0668a54bb88f2f31ef0f-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The Statue of Liberty, as seen through windows on the south side of the Great Hall at Ellis Island. (Julie Jacobson/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>Political leaders in the national and state capitals this week began raising barriers against refugees coming to the U.S. from Syria and Iraq. They were responding to a sense of fear in the land that refugees might bring with them some of the dangers they were fleeing.</p><p>Such fears escalated sharply after the deadly terror attacks in Paris on Friday, the 13th&mdash; a November night of random slaughter that took at least 130 lives and wounded hundreds.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-11-18/bloomberg-poll-most-americans-oppose-syrian-refugee-resettlement">Polls</a>&nbsp;throughout the week showed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.langerresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/1173a1AfterParis.pdf">clear majorities</a>&nbsp;of Americans supporting at least &quot;a pause&quot; in the resettlement of refugees from the region being roiled by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.</p></div></div></div><div id="res456915278" previewtitle="The Bloomberg/Selzer poll asked about the best approach to dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis — proceeding with a plan to resettle 10,000 in the U.S., to filter by religion or accept none."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-11-18/bloomberg-poll-most-americans-oppose-syrian-refugee-resettlement" target="_blank"><img alt="The Bloomberg/Selzer poll asked about the best approach to dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis — proceeding with a plan to resettle 10,000 in the U.S., to filter by religion or accept none." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/21/take-in-syrian-refugees-_chartbuilder_custom-b76bae834062bab36cded85e3cd7059368b5a42d-s400-c85.png" style="height: 294px; width: 500px;" title="The Bloomberg/Selzer poll asked about the best approach to dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis — proceeding with a plan to resettle 10,000 in the U.S., to filter by religion or accept none. Domenico Montanaro/NPR/Bloomberg/Selzer poll, conducted Nov. 16-17, margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent" /></a></div><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>For all that America prides itself on being &quot;a nation of immigrants&quot; symbolized by the Statue of Liberty with her lamp beside a golden door, the U.S. is also a nation of people &mdash; subject to human insecurity and fears for safety heightened over the past decade.</p><p>Within 48 hours of the attack,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456713306/governor-who-started-stampede-on-refugees-says-he-only-wants-answers">Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder&nbsp;</a>had called for a pause in refugee resettlements. The Republican&#39;s state is home to a significant Muslim population and might have been a logical destination for many new arrivals. Within a day, a majority of the nation&#39;s governors had joined Snyder or gone even further. In Tennessee, a GOP legislative leader called for Syrians already resettled in Nashville to be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456502693/tennessee-lawmaker-calls-for-national-guard-to-round-up-syrian-refugees">rounded up</a>&nbsp;and turned over to federal authorities.</p><p>On Thursday, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to suspend the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until each and everyone could be certified as safe by the heads of the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security.</p><p>&quot;From a law enforcement perspective, the bill presents us with an impracticality,&quot; Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. And FBI Director James Comey, one of the three officials charged with certifying the refugees as safe, noted, &quot;It would be very, very difficult to say of anyone coming into the country that there is zero risk.&quot;</p><p>Despite the big bipartisan majority vote, perhaps no one expects this House bill to become law. It will be altered in the Senate, and it has drawn a veto threat from the White House. Nonetheless, it had to happen &mdash; if only to defuse the explosive atmosphere of anxiety even on Capitol Hill in the wake of the horrors in Paris. All these politicians were giving voice to the powerful popular impression &mdash; visible in much of the media &mdash; that lax policies and porous borders could expose Americans to the same sort of violence visited on the French.</p><p>Prosecutors said Friday they determined that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/20/world/europe/ap-eu-paris-attacks-the-latest.html">two of the suicide bombers</a>&nbsp;at France&#39;s national stadium had passed through Greece last month. Greece is a common European entry point for many refugees because of its proximity to Syria. It scarcely seems to matter, however, that the core of the Paris problem is that principal players were European nationals &mdash; or that the supposed mastermind was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456683674/suspected-planner-of-paris-attacks-took-conventional-journey-to-radicalization">radicalized in a French prison</a>.</p><p>This is not, of course, the first time Americans have confronted a sudden influx of refugees. And it is not the first time the impulse has been to raise the drawbridge:</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_100112020274.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Rescuers work to free trapped survivors and find dead victims in a four story building that collapsed in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)" /><strong>2010 &mdash; Haitians:&nbsp;</strong>The earthquake in Haiti in 2010 increased the already strong incentives for Haitians to attempt the hazardous seaborne transit to the U.S., whether legally or illegally. Given the new devastation in the island nation, the U.S. relaxed its usual policy of deportation for undocumented Haitians already in the U.S. illegally, granting them Temporary Protected Status. Similar status had been granted to arrivals of other Latin American countries after earthquakes and hurricanes. But the idea of accepting new Haitian immigration because of this disaster was strongly resisted both in Florida and beyond.</p><p><strong>1980 &mdash; Cubans:</strong>&nbsp;In the summer of 1980, an economic crisis in Cuba led the Communist regime of Fidel Castro to allow thousands of Cubans to leave the country. Over the course of months, perhaps 125,000 Cubans made the trip from Cuba to the U.S. in a massive, but haphazard, flotilla known as the &quot;Mariel boatlift.&quot; Public opinion was positive at first, but soured at reports that Castro had salted the exodus with an admixture of inmates from prisons and hospitals. Partly as a result, relocation was slowed while the &quot;Marielitos&quot; arrivals were vetted and processed at military reservations in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and Arkansas, as well as South Florida. In Arkansas, there were riots at the camp and escapes. The political fallout caused the defeat that fall of the state&#39;s young first-term Democratic governor, Bill Clinton.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_7501250109.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A little girl in a pedicab, and her driver stare as they pass a demonstration of nine anti-war activists before the United States embassy in Saigon, Friday, Jan. 25, 1975. The activists, led by David Harris, left, of Menlo Park, Calif. former husband of folk singer Joan Baez, passed out leaflets demanding the end of U.S. intervention in South Vietnam. (AP Photo)" /><strong>1975 &mdash; Vietnamese:</strong>&nbsp;The fall of Saigon sent hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese fleeing from the triumphant new Communist regime. Some had the means to travel, while others were forced onto flimsy vessels that were barely seaworthy. They came to be known as &quot;boat people.&quot; Many had the U.S. as their ultimate destination, and a young Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California resisted their relocation. He even tried to prevent planeloads of refugees from landing in his state at Travis Air Force Base. Brown eventually relented, and Vietnamese have assimilated successfully in California and elsewhere since. Returning to the governorship in 2011, Brown has been a vocal supporter of accepting Syrian refugees.</p><p><strong>Mid-1950s </strong>&mdash;<strong> Post-WWII Europeans, including Jews who survived the Holocaust:</strong>&nbsp;When the Soviet Union was tightening its grip on Eastern Europe through proxy governments run by the Communist Party, President Dwight D. Eisenhower released a plan to bring a quarter-of-a-million asylum-seekers to the U.S. But the end of World War II in 1945 sent waves of refugees in multiple directions. Here again, the popular reaction was resistance. A Gallup poll in 1946 found 59 percent of Americans disapproved of a plan to accept those displaced by the war &mdash; including Jews, who had survived the Holocaust. President Harry Truman directed that 40,000 refugees be admitted in December of that year, a number that barely registered against the magnitude of human movement at the time.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_781671446777.jpg" style="height: 224px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="In this Aug. 22, 1939 file photo, the S.S. Parita, with 700 European Jewish refugees on board, lists after it was beached near the Ritz Hotel in Tel Aviv, an all-Jewish town in Palestine, under British mandate. The state of Israel declared independence in 1948. (AP Photo)" /><strong>Late 1930s</strong><strong> &mdash; European Jews before the Holocaust:</strong>&nbsp;Those seeking political asylum from the rise of Nazism in central Europe often wanted to come to the U.S., and some with the necessary means or connections managed to do so. Still, others were turned away. A Fortune magazine poll in 1938 found 67 percent opposed to allowing &quot;German, Austrian and other political refugees&quot; to come to the U.S. That same year, a troubled President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a 29-nation conference to discuss the Jewish refugees in particular, who were fleeing Hitler&#39;s rise.</p><p>As one account put it, &quot;If each nation [present] had agreed on that day to take in 17,000 Jews at once, every Jew in the [German] Reich could have been saved.&quot; But the conference, which was held in France, accomplished little. The U.S. and Great Britain were not willing to lead the way in accepting substantially higher numbers of Jewish refugees. In one especially notorious case, the ocean liner&nbsp;St. Louis&nbsp;arrived at Miami in 1939, but was not allowed to disembark more than 900 passengers &mdash; nearly all of them Jewish refugees. The ship returned to Europe, where many of the 900 would die in the Holocaust. That same year, a Gallup Poll found 61 percent of Americans opposed to taking in 10,000 refugee children, most of them German Jews.</p><p><strong>1918 &mdash; Post-WWI Europeans:&nbsp;</strong>Hundreds of thousands of people tried to come to the U.S. after the end of World War I in 1918. Their efforts merged with the surging immigration that had characterized the decades before the war, bringing waves of Italians, Greeks, Eastern Europeans and Russians to America. These populations found assimilation more difficult than Northern Europeans had before them.</p><p>This same convergence of concerns is evident in the current panic over Syrians, which bleeds into a more general public unease over immigration in general. For Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others, the threat of terrorists arriving among refugees is an extension of a larger resistance to immigration. And that story is nearly as deeply woven into American history as the idea of immigration itself.</p><p><strong>In the </strong><strong>1850s</strong><strong> it was the Irish, </strong>driven onto the sea by famine, dispersing to the New World and the Australia. America also greeted many Germans in those same years before the Civil War, fleeing turmoil at home and arriving in force in New York, the Midwest and even frontier Texas.</p><p><strong>The late 1800s and early 1900s brought the first big waves of Italians, </strong><strong>Greeks</strong><strong> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/poland-elsewhere-why-so-many-poles-came-chicago-113578" target="_blank">and Poles</a>,</strong> as well as many Jews from Russia and from eastern and central Europe. Chinese, many of them refugees from political unrest in Asia, came in great numbers in this era as well.</p><p>The U.S. set up a processing camp on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay that operated from 1910 to 1940. Arriving immigrants from Asia stayed there for vetting and processing that could take many months. The rates of exclusion for arrivals here was far greater than for Ellis Island, the processing site in New York Harbor, hard by the Statue of Liberty.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/21/456857350/this-isnt-the-first-time-americans-have-shown-fear-of-refugees" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/isnt-first-time-americans-have-shown-fear-refugees-113888 "We were an unlikely match" http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/we-were-unlikely-match-112659 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 150814 Janice Jordan bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Janice and Jordan have been together for three years. They went to college together in Kentucky, then moved to Chicago. Now their relationship is entering a new phase as Janice heads back to India for a year and Jordan moves to an apple orchard in Baltimore. They stopped by the Cultural Center a few months back, and stepped in the StoryCorps booth on a whim.</p><p><em>StoryCorps&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/we-were-unlikely-match-112659 Muslims and Jews sing, talk and protest their way to interfaith cooperation http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 <p><p>A program inside a theater on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side feels a little like a talent show, or maybe a family reunion. Performers step up from the audience to recite original poetry, do interpretative dance or sing.</p><p>The sound quality&rsquo;s spotty. The pacing&rsquo;s a little off. But this isn&rsquo;t about slick production values or seamless performances. The goal here is far more ambitious: to bridge the divide between Jews and Muslims in Chicago.</p><p>The show is called &ldquo;Café Finjan,&rdquo; after the Hebrew and Arabic words for a metal coffee pot. It showcases Muslim and Jewish poets, musicians, painters and more. It&rsquo;s one of several interfaith events that share the goal of getting Jews and Muslims to move past historical tensions and distrust so they can work together and help solve some of the city&rsquo;s urban problems.</p><p>But they&rsquo;re finding it&rsquo;s not always easy.</p><p>&ldquo;The paradigm that we&rsquo;re trying to create is that we have an interest in what kind of society we have here, even though we also have strong concerns and interests about what happens to our brothers and sisters, to our cousins and to our friends in other places in the world,&rdquo; said Asaf Bar-Tura, formerly of the <a href="http://www.jcua.org/">Jewish Council of Urban Affairs</a>. He spent five months with an interfaith team planning the café.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="Gerald Hankerson, the outreach coordinator for CAIR-Chicago [left], chats with JCUA board member Kalman Resnick [right], and several others." />He acknowledged those political differences over Palestine and Israel remain painful and deep.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a tension there,&rdquo; Bar-Tura said. &ldquo;But we can&rsquo;t overcome these tensions, we can&rsquo;t discuss the issues, without getting to know each other first. You don&rsquo;t dive into &lsquo;Oh, tell me what your ideology is.&rsquo; You first (say), &lsquo;Tell me about your family, tell me about what you do, what does your day look like, what do you want for your kids?&rsquo; And then we can get into these deeper discussions.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://jmcbi.org">JCUA started working closely with Muslim groups</a> more than a decade ago, after noticing rising Islamophobia following the Sept. 11 attacks. Their most popular event is &ldquo;Iftar in the Synagogue,&rdquo; where Jews and Muslims share a meal to break the fast during Ramadan. In just four years, attendance jumped from 90 people to more than 500.</p><p>&ldquo;We started this program to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters to say, &lsquo;We feel your pain, and we are going to help you fight against discrimination,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Judy Levey, JCUA&rsquo;s executive director. &ldquo;Because that&rsquo;s what we do. That&rsquo;s who we are.&rdquo;</p><p>The events are about more than poetry and hummus. The JCUA, the <a href="http://www.juf.org/cbr/">Chicago Board of Rabbis</a> and the <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/">Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago</a> sponsor periodic rabbi-imam dialogues. They&rsquo;ve discussed things like the role of Shariah law in a democracy and their shared dietary traditions.</p><p>Jewish and Muslim activists have lobbied to demand immigration reform, to stop foreclosures and to protest anti-Muslim bus ads. After a baby was fatally shot in Chicago last spring, they went together to her funeral. There&rsquo;s even been &nbsp;<a href="http://jcuanews.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/jewish-and-muslim-cyclists-will-ride-together-narrowing-the-distance-between-faiths/">Jewish-Muslim bike rides</a>.</p><p>Activists on both sides hope these events will lessen suspicion and lead to partnerships in the city they share and call home.</p><p>But some say the results are mixed.</p><p>&ldquo;Qualitatively, in some ways, I would say maybe they are better,&rdquo; said Aaron Cohen, the spokesman for the <a href="http://www.juf.org/">Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicag</a>o. &ldquo;Quantitatively, in terms of seeing vast numbers of people engaging, I wouldn&rsquo;t say that needle has moved much either way.&rdquo;</p><p>Cohen&rsquo;s a hopeful guy, and well-liked by Jewish and Muslim activists. He&rsquo;s been part of Jewish/Muslim dialogues, and he took an interfaith trip to Turkey.</p><p>But he says there are stumbling blocks to interfaith cooperation. Unlike the JCUA, the Federation won&rsquo;t formally work with the <a href="http://www.cairchicago.org/">Chicago office of the Council of American Islamic Relations</a>, a civil rights agency well regarded by the Muslim community. Cohen said that&rsquo;s because many were offended by anti-Semitic signs spotted at a CAIR rally a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s crossing a very big red line,&rdquo; Cohen said, adding that statements demonizing Jews or Israel can&rsquo;t be tolerated. &ldquo;History delivers on our doors an awful lot of baggage, and we really need to make conscious choices about how much of that baggage we&rsquo;re going to schlep with us into the future.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%203.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="The annual Iftar in the Synagogue event drew more than 500 people this year." />&ldquo;Obviously, we can&rsquo;t control every single individual in a massive rally,&rdquo; said Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of Chicago&rsquo;s CAIR chapter. &ldquo;However, the facts are that when we saw the sign, we removed it as organizers, because it does not mesh with our values.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We stand against anti-Semitism,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rehab said he believes his strong critique of Israeli policy, not the signs, is the real issue &ndash; which federation leaders deny.</p><p>Rehab said he thinks some federation leaders are out of touch with younger Jews:</p><p>&ldquo;Especially the new generation, it&rsquo;s not intuitive for these young men and women to look at each other through a fence, or see each other as enemies or rivals,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because they do have a shared common culture; they share the same appreciation for music, for movies. They were born and brought up here.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the challenges, Rehab is hopeful. He believes more Jewish and Muslim youth want to work together, and that cooperation is the wave of the future.</p><p>That seemed to be the case back at Café Finjan. Muslim girls wearing headscarves nodded along with a klezmer band. Gray-haired Jewish activists applauded warmly for a student who recited a poem about being a Pokemon master and a Muslim</p><p>One of the attendees, software developer Najim Yaqubie, is Muslim. He said he and his best friend &ndash; who&rsquo;s Jewish -- care more about their friendship than politics.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re both human, we&rsquo;re both American, we&rsquo;re both young and we&rsquo;re just trying to have some fun,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter who or where you&rsquo;re from.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 17:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 Local synagogue joins effort to make bar mitzvah celebrations less flashy http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/local-synagogue-joins-effort-make-bar-mitzvah-celebrations-less-flashy-109441 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sam.png" alt="" /><p><p>It was a few days after Noah Barkoff&rsquo;s turned 13. He&rsquo;d studied Hebrew for months, and dressed in a suit and tie, he stood at the front of his synagogue, ready to lead his congregation in prayer.</p><p>His voice echoed through the sanctuary at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe. He was one of about 100 kids to mark a bar or bat mitzvah here this year.</p><p>The temple&rsquo;s a soaring, mid-century gem of white archways and wood, by the same architect who designed the World Trade Center. It&rsquo;s easy to feel small in this big place.</p><p>But education director Roberta Goodman hopes kids like Noah won&rsquo;t get lost here &ndash; or drift away when the party&rsquo;s over.<br /><br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s actually often a fall-off after bar and bat mitzvah, because they feel like it&rsquo;s an ending, when it&rsquo;s really a beginning,&rdquo; Goodman said.<br /><br />Her synagogue is one of 13 around the nation that&rsquo;s part of &ldquo;B&rsquo;nai Mitzvah Revolution.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s Reform Judaism&rsquo;s latest effort to bring renewed meaning to the bar and bat mitzvah, a religious ritual that&rsquo;s a rite of passage for adolescents.</p><p>Some in the Jewish community fear the bar mitzvah has become more of an excuse for a big party than a deeper commitment to the values of the faith. As just one example, they point to an elaborate party for a Dallas bar mitzvah boy that became a YouTube sensation in August. With his name in lights behind him, he appeared to descend from a chandelier and did a routine with a team of professional dancers in sparkly mini-dresses.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/g-ByhUDUllM?feature=player_detailpage" width="640"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a problem,&rdquo; said Rabbi Evan Moffic of Congregation Solel in Highland Park. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to try to disguise it. It&rsquo;s a big problem.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rabbi Moffic is watching the effort to see what works. He already reminds parents that the focus of the ritual should focus on building Jewish identity, self-esteem and a sense of community, but not everyone gets the message.<br /><br />&ldquo;We had one family who wanted to come in, and they had a bar mitzvah date two years away,&rdquo; the rabbi explained.</p><p>&ldquo;And we said, &lsquo;Well, actually, we already have a bar mitzvah that day. We could have your ceremony the next weekend.&rsquo; And they said, &lsquo;Oh, we&rsquo;ve already booked our party venue so we can&rsquo;t do it. We&rsquo;ll have to look at another synagogue.&rsquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;m thinking to myself: &lsquo;I understand. I&rsquo;m not thrilled. But that&rsquo;s the reality.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br />B&rsquo;nai Mitzvah Revolution isn&rsquo;t just about toning down the swanky parties. Roberta Goodman at North Shore Congregation Israel said something critical is at stake: the future of Jewish identity. Three out of four Jewish kids quit synagogue soon after their bar and bat mitzvahs. A recent Pew study reported that half of Reform Jews marry outside the faith, and about one in five say they aren&rsquo;t religious at all.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our approach is that we are looking at changing a culture, and not creating a program,&rdquo; Goodman said. &ldquo;And in order to do that, you have to do that on many levels and in many ways over a long period of time.&rdquo;<br /><br />The temples in the national pilot project are trying different methods. Some might drop Hebrew; others may raise the age of the ceremony or make kids do more social service. At North Shore, the revolution is all about camp.</p><p>Upstairs in the religious education building, a dozen fourth-graders sat on a classroom floor.</p><p>These kids are years away from their bar and bat mitzvahs, but Goodman said it&rsquo;s important to reach them young. Studies show that kids with Jewish friends are much more likely to stay affiliated with the religion, and by the time kids get to middle school, it&rsquo;s too late.</p><p>With desks pushed aside and lights dimmed, the kids sat in a circle around a fake campfire plugged into a wall. They took turns adding to an unfolding story.<br /><br />&ldquo;Because where do you tell stories at camp? You tell them around the campfire,&rdquo; Goodman said. &ldquo;So when we are telling the story of the Jewish people, they do it around this campfire.&rdquo;<br /><br />So students &ndash; er, campers &mdash;&nbsp; get matching T-shirts. Teachers are called &ldquo;counselors.&rdquo; The schedule is flexible to accommodate busy North Shore lives, and they do drama, art and music to keep it fun. It&rsquo;s only two years old, but mother Amy Sclamberg of Highland Park thinks it&rsquo;s already working. Her youngest son loves it. She sent her older son to traditional religious school, and after his bar mitzvah he didn&rsquo;t come back.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s different than it used to be,&rdquo; Sclamberg said. &ldquo;They reach out, they want to find out kids&rsquo; interest to make them interested. And no one seems to dread it, really.&rdquo;<br /><br />Downstairs after camp, her fourth-grade son Leo pulled out his guitar and started to sing the tune, &ldquo;Hey, Soul Sister.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s 9, with blond hair and a charming grin. He brings his guitar every Sunday, and he plays in a band at the synagogue during the week.</p><p>Leo was thrilled when a high school student taught him some Jewish songs.<br /><br />&ldquo;He runs out the door to come here when he has his guitar,&rdquo; said his mom, Amy. &ldquo;For that reason alone, not to have to hear complaining about going to Sunday school and actually want to go. And if it&rsquo;s because he has his guitar in his hand, fine. Great.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />North Shore Congregation Israel isn&rsquo;t stopping with the younger kids. The high school students are another key piece of the revolution. The cantor started a band to stop the exodus of teens.</p><p>About 15 of them &mdash; many who wouldn&rsquo;t have considered attending more religious school &mdash; meet for an hour on Sunday morning to practice. They perform at services monthly.</p><p>Isaac Goldstein, a 13-year-old Highland Park eighth-grader with a Walter Payton jersey and Clark Kent glasses, plays lead on acoustic guitar and a host of other instruments. He had his bar mitzvah in June, but he&rsquo;s back at synagogue three times a week.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve found a very good way for me to be involved and do what I love,&rdquo; Isaac said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very unique way to connect spiritually with my religion. I just love it so much.&rdquo;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s unclear yet how much the difference the pilot project is making. And there are obstacles. Kids are busy, and religious education competes with soccer tournaments, music lessons, dance classes, tutors and schoolwork.</p><p>But at least one family was paying attention. Olivia Harris Barkoff of Glencoe said she purposely kept Noah&rsquo;s party low-key: no grand entrances, no expensive party favors, no professional video montage in homage to her son. It was just dinner in the temple social hall, and little girls in sparkly shoes dancing to a Klezmer band with white-haired grandmas.</p><p>Barkoff wanted to keep the focus on family.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s wonderful to be surrounded by your family. It feels like a big hug. All the time,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Her son Noah said he loved the family party, especially one game where he entwined arms with a friend.<br /><br />&ldquo;And then while the music&rsquo;s going you spin around, and if you fall over you&rsquo;re out, and if the music stops you have to find a new person,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s fun.&rdquo;<br /><br />Noah admitted he&rsquo;d like a bit of a break. Learning all that Hebrew was hard work, and he wants to hang out with his school friends. But there&rsquo;s a sign that the reform effort&nbsp; may be working: He signed back up for religious school this year.</p></p> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 05:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/local-synagogue-joins-effort-make-bar-mitzvah-celebrations-less-flashy-109441 Palestinians and Jews both lay claim to Mandela’s legacy http://www.wbez.org/news/palestinians-and-jews-both-lay-claim-mandela%E2%80%99s-legacy-109375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 11.25.41 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">As memorials continue for Nelson Mandela this week, many groups are claiming Mandela as a champion of their cause, including Palestinians and Jews. Mandela&rsquo;s support for national self-determination garnered the appreciation and support of both sides in the intractable Middle East conflict. But while they share a common hero, they take away different lessons from his struggle.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We do consider Nelson Mandela to be our leader,&rdquo; said Hatem Abudayyeh, a Palestinian-American and the Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a sort of replication of that anti-apartheid movement in Palestine and across the world for those that are doing Palestine advocacy and Palestine support work.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Abudayyeh points to the <a href="http://www.bdsmovement.net/">Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement</a>, started in 2005 by supporters of the Palestinian cause. The campaign aims to build international economic and political pressure against Israel, to secure withdrawal of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories and a dismantling of the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank, among other demands. &ldquo;That is something that we learned from the anti-apartheid movement and that we&rsquo;re incorporating into our own movement,&rdquo; said Abudayyeh. An international divestment campaign helped to formally bring South Africa&rsquo;s apartheid era to an end in 1991.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Israel is your apartheid, pariah state, just like South Africa was your apartheid, pariah state in the &lsquo;70s and &lsquo;80s and during the movement,&rdquo; said Abudayyeh.</p><p dir="ltr">Other high-profile figures have compared Palestinian conditions to that of black South Africans under apartheid &mdash; and found themselves at the center of significant controversy as a result. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter sparked a fierce debate with the 2006 publication of his book, &ldquo;Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.&rdquo; South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a similar comparison. Mandela himself, however, never publicly used the word &ldquo;apartheid&rdquo; when speaking of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Arafat is a comrade in arms, and we treat him as such.&rdquo; Mandela famously said of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat in 1990. During an interview with ABC&rsquo;s Ted Koppel on Nightline, Mandela defended this position, even when Koppel pressed him to consider whether it could alienate American Jews from his cause in South Africa.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It would be a grave mistake for us to consider our attitude toward Yasser Arafat on the basis of the interests of the Jewish community,&rdquo; Mandela explained. &ldquo;We sympathize with the struggles of the Jewish people and their persecution right down the years. In fact, we have been very much influenced by lack of racialism amongst Jewish communities.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Mandela noted that many white leaders in the African National Congress party were Jewish, and that his first job as a lawyer was with a Jewish firm. For many Jews, Mandela&rsquo;s support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination did not mean he was against Israel.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There was no contradiction for Mandela of his also embracing Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people,&rdquo; says Aaron Cohen of the Jewish United Fund in Chicago. &ldquo;He supported Israel&rsquo;s right to exist as a Jewish state.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cohen says comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa are false, and that they attempt to delegitimize Israel&rsquo;s right to exist. While Mandela reportedly called Israel a &ldquo;terrorist state&rdquo; in 1990 for offering military and arms support to South Africa&rsquo;s apartheid government, Cohen said that criticism was borne out of Mandela&rsquo;s belief that all people have a right to self-determination. It did not mean that Mandela was anti-Israel.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When he became president of South Africa, Mandela went out of his way to also assure Israel and the Jewish world that he supported Israel&rsquo;s safe and secure existence in the Middle East,&rdquo; said Cohen, &ldquo;and that furthermore, the Arab world should do the same.&rdquo;</p><p>Cohen says instead of being mired in the past, Mandela felt Israelis and Palestinians could resolve their differences if they simply looked to the future. The two sides may draw very different lessons from Mandela&rsquo;s legacy, but as they prepare for Mandela&rsquo;s burial this Sunday, they&rsquo;ll mourn together.</p><p><br /><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 18:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/palestinians-and-jews-both-lay-claim-mandela%E2%80%99s-legacy-109375 Jewish emergency response service expands into ambulance transport http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/jewish-emergency-response-service-expands-ambulance-transport-109063 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Hatzalah.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A medical emergency response service for Orthodox Jews is expanding into ambulance transport.</p><p>Hatzalah Chicago is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/orthodox-jews-launch-emergency-service-93709">about two years old</a>, and so far has relied on its team of trained volunteers to use their own personal cars to respond to low-level medical emergencies. But now, using donations, the service has purchased two ambulances and it soft-launched the ambulance response service last weekend.</p><p>Simcha Frank, a co-founder of Hatzalah Chicago, was able to respond to WBEZ questions by text message. He said since Hatzalah Chicago started its work, its volunteers saw many cases where patients declined to call 911 for ambulances because they were afraid they would not be taken to the hospitals where their doctors and personal files were.</p><p>&ldquo;The patients were either refusing to go to hospital with local EMS,&rdquo; wrote Frank, &ldquo;And some didn&rsquo;t even call EMS because of that.&rdquo;</p><p>Hatzalah primarily serves people in Skokie, Lincolnwood and Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side.</p><p>Frank said Hatzalah Chicago will take patients to the hospitals they specify, and he anticipates that will mostly be hospitals in the North Shore.</p><p>&ldquo;And that improves anxiety and sometimes patient outcomes,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p>Hatzalah has about 40 trained emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and 20 dispatchers. Frank hopes about a dozen of the EMTs will go through advanced training to become paramedics to staff the ambulances.</p><p>Currently, the vehicles, which cost about $150,000 each, are equipped to transport patients that are in stable condition. Frank hopes in about a year some of his volunteers will receive certification in advanced life support to provide transport for more critical cases.</p><p>John J. Stroger Jr. Hospital in Cook County is the service&rsquo;s resource hospital, providing medical direction. According to Frank, Hatzalah service received approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health in mid-October.</p><p>Many other major U.S. cities, especially New York City, already have extensive Hatzalah emergency response services.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 19:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/jewish-emergency-response-service-expands-ambulance-transport-109063 Chinese Roots of Mah Jongg http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/chinese-roots-mah-jongg-107392 <p><div>In this discussion, the Chicago Chinese community shares its history and rich connection with Mah Jongg, the game they warmly refer to as &ldquo;M. J.&rdquo; We also talk about differences in methods of play, and the game&rsquo;s important role in both the Jewish and the Chinese American communities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This program was created in collaboration with the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago and generously supported by The Covenant Foundation.</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CHM-webstory_14.jpg" title="" /></div><div>Recorded live on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at the Chicago History Museum.</div></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 14:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/chinese-roots-mah-jongg-107392 Elana Drell Szyfer on Global Vision, Jewish Leadership, and a Woman’s Journey to the Dead Sea http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/elana-drell-szyfer-global-vision-jewish-leadership-and-woman%E2%80%99s-journey-dead <p><div>Elana Drell Szyfer is CEO of AHAVA North America and Deputy CEO of AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories, Inc. An expert marketer with a successful history of launching and repositioning prestigious brands, she has increased AHAVA&rsquo;s North American sales by as much as 50 percent. Among her varied roles, she promotes AHAVA products on the Home Shopping Network, oversees the Dead Sea Essentials line sold exclusively at Target, speaks publicly about counteracting anti-Israel propaganda, and serves as a mentor for the Fashion Institute of Technology&rsquo;s Graduate Program.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before joining AHAVA in 2011, Ms. Szyfer was Senior VP of Global Marketing for Estée Lauder Brand, where she led the re-launch of Advanced Night Repair, introducing it to a new generation of now loyal fans and helping to double the brand&rsquo;s annual sales. Ms. Szyfer has also held top-level positions at L&#39;Oreal&#39;s Lancôme Division, Avon, and Prescriptives, a division of Estée Lauder Companies.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ms. Szyfer is a graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University and the Stern School of Business at NYU. She is on the board of the Women&rsquo;s Philanthropy Division of the MetroWest Jewish Federation. In 2011, she received the National Council of Jewish Women&rsquo;s &ldquo;Woman Who Dared&rdquo; award. In 2012, she was honored by Jewish Women International as one of JWI&rsquo;s &ldquo;Women to Watch&rdquo; and was selected by The Forward as a member of the &ldquo;Forward 50,&rdquo; putting her among the most influential Jewish Americans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ms. Szyfer was introduced by Roz Varon, Emmy Award-winning Traffic/Transportation Anchor for Chicago&rsquo;s top-rated ABC 7 News This Morning. She also hosts the station&#39;s Weekender entertainment round-up and writes Roz on the Road, a blog that covers topics from construction challenges to life challenges. Ms. Varon is a breast cancer survivor who works diligently to help heighten cancer prevention and awareness. Recently, the Girl Scouts honored her as a role model with their &quot;Smart Cookie&quot; award.</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SI-webstory_6.jpg" title="" /></div><div>Recorded live Sunday, May 5, 2013 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.</div></p> Sun, 05 May 2013 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/elana-drell-szyfer-global-vision-jewish-leadership-and-woman%E2%80%99s-journey-dead Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/ballots-babies-and-banners-peace-107639 <p><p>At the turn of the twentieth century, American Jewish women were consistently and publicly engaged in all the major issues of their day, including suffrage, birth control, and peace. The activism of American Jewish women was grounded in their gender, religious, cultural, and ethnic identities. No history of these movements in the United States is complete without analyzing the impact of Jewish women&#39;s presence.</p><p>Dr. Melissa R. Klapper is the professor of history and director of women&#39;s and gender studies at Rowan University. Dr. Klapper&rsquo;s research has received awards from sources including the American Jewish Archives Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Her latest book is <em>Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: &nbsp;American Jewish Women&#39;s Activism, 1890-1940</em>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SI-webstory_5.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Recorded live Thursdsay, May 2, 2013 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.</p></p> Thu, 02 May 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/ballots-babies-and-banners-peace-107639 Reconciling Lives - German-Jewish Dialogue http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/reconciling-lives-german-jewish-dialogue-107234 <p><p>Chair of the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin, Ambassador (retired) <strong>Reuven Merhav</strong>&nbsp;gives a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion and presentation of the book &ldquo;<em>Reconciling Lives</em>&rdquo;. Panelists include Ambassador Reuven Merhav, author and photographer <strong>Alvin Gilens</strong>, AJC Chicago Board Member <strong>Phil Dunn</strong> and German ARSP volunteer <strong>Pia Kulhawy</strong>, who will discuss the current status and future of German-Jewish Dialogue and Reconciliation.</p><div>The Jewish-American author Alvin Gilens presents his new book &ldquo;<em>Reconciling Lives</em>&rdquo;. This book features the stories of young German volunteers sent by Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) to the US, Great Britain, Czech Republic and Israel, and the relationships they built with Holocaust survivors during a year of service. When Alvin Gilens first learned about ARSP over twenty years ago he found a healing force that moved him deeply. Hearing the powerful stories from German volunteers about their experiences of reconciliation with survivors of Nazi Germany, he recognized that those are stories that must be told.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GI-webstory_3.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at&nbsp;Goethe-Institut Chicago.</p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/reconciling-lives-german-jewish-dialogue-107234