In response to the recent anti-Semitic views expressed on social media by an Oberlin College assistant professor that garnered international attention, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, AJC Cleveland, the Anti-Defamation League Cleveland Region and the Cleveland Hillel Foundation met with Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov and several of his senior staff. In a welcoming atmosphere, we discussed, openly and candidly, the potential implications of a professorís personal views on classroom activity and student intimidation. We also discussed our shared respect for academic freedom.
The administration is taking its role seriously. President Krislov and his team are committed to providing a safe environment on campus for all students, regardless of religion. Building on a long and positive relationship, Oberlin College and representatives of the Cleveland Jewish community are working collaboratively to recommend programming that can facilitate a positive discourse on campus to address the consequences and sources of anti-Semitism.
All parties understand and accept that the college is required to follow established academic procedures when addressing questions regarding an individual faculty member. The Jewish community members present were satisfied that Oberlin College is following those procedures and look forward to learning the outcome of that process.
March 3, 2016
Erica G. Starrfield of Pepper Pike has been awarded the 2015 Bennett and Donna Yanowitz Leadership Award by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. The award recognizes and honors an outstanding young individual who has demonstrated commitment, involvement, and leadership within Clevelandís Jewish community. Starrfield was presented the award at the Federationís Board meeting on February 29.
"I have chosen to be actively involved in the Jewish community because it makes me feel more whole, fulfilling a personal desire to be a part of something greater than myself," Starrfield said. "And taking leadership roles is a way to enrich experiences more deeply. It adds more meaning to my life and I hope that as my children get older, it is something they too will find valuable.Ē
Starrfield is a mother of 2 and a Marketing Manager at Nestlť USA. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Georgetown University. She is the immediate past Chair of the Federationís Marketing and Communications Committee. Under her leadership, the organizationís branding initiative became a nationally recognized model for other Federations around the country.
ďI want to see the Jewish community of Cleveland continue to prosper so that it can remain the place that brings the support and enjoyment we have come to know it for," she said.
Starrfield continues to be an active member of the Marketing and Communications Committee, in addition to being a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and the Federationís Board of Trustees. She is also involved in Womenís Philanthropy.
Her involvement extends beyond the Federation. Starrfield is a graduate of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Glass Leadership Institute. She also sits on the Board of Directors at Park Synagogue.
The Bennett and Donna Yanowitz Leadership Award replaced the Marvin and Milton Kane Award, previously known as the Ed Baker Award. The award has been given annually since the early 1960ís. As recipient of the Yanowitz Award, Starrfield is invited to join the Cleveland delegation to a General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
March 2, 2016
The following statement was released (March 2, 2016) by Jewish Federation of Cleveland Board Chair Reneť Chelm in response to anti-Semitic views expressed by an Oberlin College assistant professor, whose statements have garnered international attention.
ďWe are profoundly disappointed to learn of a professor with such hateful, malicious, and anti-Semitic views on such a distinguished campus as Oberlin College. We acknowledge the long standing right to freedom of speech yet this anti-Semitic rhetoric crosses the line into hate speech. The Presidentís recent personal comments resonated and we encourage Oberlin College to seize this teaching moment. ď
Have you seen the new additions to the Hebrew Cultural Garden? There are 6 areas that pay tribute to leading Jewish figures including scientists Einstein, Freud and Salk and authors Rabinovich, Bilaik and Agnon.
WWI Jewish soldiers exhibit at the Slovenian Museum and Archives
Israeli Deputy Consul General Moran Birman is based in Philadelphia and made his first trip to Cleveland to see the exhibition entitled "Forgive Us, Forgive Us, Oh You, the Dead" which is dedicated to Jewish soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian army who fell on the Isonzo Front (Soska Fronta) of World War I in the territory of present day Slovenia.
A total of about 300,000 Jewish soldiers participated in the war and estimates put the number of Jewish soldiers who lost their lives during World War I at around 40,000.
The exhibition is based on historical research of the documents, photos and existing literature and also interviews with people who knew about Jews who fought on the side of the Austrian army in World War I. The exhibition was provided by the Maribor synagogue which serves as a cultural center of Jewish heritage in Slovenia.
Israeli Deputy Consul Moran Birman, Cheryl Davis, Michael Cantor and Slovenian Consul General Andrej Gregor Rode
Jewish Community in Turkey by Joseph Patrick Meissner
This was my second trip to Turkey, a country and people I very much admire and appreciate. Of course, on my second trip I learn how much I have not learned about Istanbul and Ephesus and Mary's place and Ottoman history. It is impossible to relate all that happened on this trip. So I have picked out seven specific episodes and hope these may be thought-provoking as well as encourage you to plan a trip to Turkey, the home of Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet.
'Tell us about communities of Jewish background in Turkey?' It is Attorney Ken Kabb's probing question wherever our group talks to people we encounter in Turkey.
This Country sitting on two continents is very proud of its history involving people of Jewish background. The most famous example is the welcoming of Jewish refugees in 1492 by the Ottoman Empire and its Sultan B after the Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon had conquered all of Spain. The new rulers ordered that all Jewish people, as well as Muslims, had to convert to Christianity or leave the country. (Spain was not the first European power to expel Jewish people. See Appendix for more )
More than 100,000 Jewish people left Spain and sailed on ships of the Ottoman Fleet to resettle in the Empire. The Sultan is reported to have remarked, 'If Spain is stupid enough to deport 100,000 of its best people, we Ottomans are smart enough to welcome them to our lands.'
Ě During this trip, we did visit the small museum dedicated to the Jewish heritage in Turkey which is located near the Galata Tower in Istanbul. The museum, which originated from the large celebration in 1992 in both Turkey and America to commemorate the 1492 events, is not that large. Moreover, the display lights did not work on the upper balcony and I got a shock when I tried to turn these on. Also the video monitors did not seem to work.
But there were a fine display of books and other items from Jewish history and culture. There was also a small but excellent bookstore and gift shop near the Museum entrance. We also observed a synagogue and related buildings undergoing rehabilitation in the city of Izmir.
So what are our conclusions? Certainly Turkey is publicly welcoming to its Jewish peoples. Relations between Israel and Turkey have been good at times, and then strained at other. There is now tension which seems to date to the boarding of the Turkish humanitarian vessel and resulting loss of lives. The ship was stopped while it was taking supplies and medicines for Palestine.
The most worrisome fact we encountered is that at one time there were up to 250,000 people of Jewish background living in the Ottoman Empire. This fell off as the Ottoman empire collapsed and later when Israel because available for settlement. But this does not explain why there are less than 20,000 people of Jewish background now in Turkey. These are mostly older people and the number seems like it is subject to further declines.
It was hard to find any Jewish person we could talk to about this. My impression is that many Turkish people (which include others beside Jewish) are very cautious about dialogue with foreigners and seem to follow a strategy of 'keeping their heads down.'
My recommendation is that Turkey needs to recall that 1492 was more than just words.
Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood
April 10, 2014
The 11th Annual AJC (American Jewish Committee) inter-faith Diplomatic Seder was held at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood.
Each spring, when the world of nature renews itself, the Jewish people reflect upon their emergence from slavery and the meaning of freedom. Our ancestors have celebrated the Passover Seder, with its rich ceremonies, folk songs, and colorful symbols for thousands of years. Through our ritual retelling of the story of Egyptian bondage, we are reminded of the continuing battle for freedom in every generation.
Several speakers were asked to talk about 'What Freedom means to me.'
An orange was placed on the Seder plate because it was once said the idea of women as rabbis is as farfetched as oranges on the seder plate.
If you're wondering why Jews all over the world began eating matzo on Monday night, April 14th, at a big family dinner, I will tell you why.
Everyone thinks that all this holiday is about is eating matzo having this big dinner with a lot of ritual taking place not realizing how much more is involved.
First of all, you must remember that this is the holiday of freedom. Having been slaves in Egypt for many years, this Passover holiday liberates them. That is the most important theme that is emphasized from the very beginning.
Very few people know that the Jewish lunar calendar is lunar, which differs from our calendar because the Jewish one is based on the moon. Passover is the beginning of the New Year. Oddly, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah sometime in the fall and call it "new year." You would think that should be the time for the beginning of the calendar year.
The role of the Passover Seder, as it is called, has changed dramatically since I was a boy. Seder means order. The dinner was to be ritualized in an orderly fashion. It was to be a dinner to bring the family together. It still functions that way. However, modern times have changed some of the rituals for the reform and conservative movements. For the orthodox, the ritual part remains the same.
Remember, I said the theme of this holiday is liberation, freedom. These are not just words. This was an actual occurrence. In order for the participants to better understand its importance, we read the story in a book called the Hagaddah. This is the complete history of that event. It is a compilation of the story, prayers of thankfulness, but most of all, to reenact the bitterness of being slaves and the suffering of the Jewish people before they left Egypt.
When you talk about bitterness, it is much easier to understand it if you try to relive the experience by telling the story and participating the ritual of eating horseradish with matzo.
Everyone who is at the table must eat some small piece of the bitter herbs. In most families, the youngest child at the table asks questions of the leader that refer to the story. It is sort of a remembrance factor to simplify the story so it is easy to relate to. Ordinarily, each participant reads a part of the story. It may differ in many homes, but the main theme will be related.
The more modern version will take on many forms. It is no longer one fast rule. It is changed with each generation. I doubt if every dinner will serve matzo ball soup, but it is a traditional dish. With so many vegans and vegetarians, who knows where this dinner will take you; probably tofu, Tempe, and other substitutions.
The important thing is for the family to come together, year after year, to remember the story and to become a living part of history. This is a holiday of joy. Freedom sings out. The melodies of the story are all joyous. Prayers of thanksgiving follow. For some orthodox participants, there could be singing and eating past midnight. It is truly the happiest occasion of Jewish history. Never mind Purim. Passover surpasses that liberation story of Queen Esther by far.
One of the most interesting changes in the character of this holiday is that it has become number one in bringing the family together. For years, Rosh Hashanah was when students in college would come home. However, Passover has changed the pattern entirely. It is astonishing how that happened. There are so many different ways that today's modern Jew interprets this holiday. It is too hard to imagine because of all the innovation.
In spite of all these changes, Passover still has been able to remind us that we are a people. We are never to forget that our culture, traditions, and our bible has brought much to the world. By our participation in any form, it becomes a creative way to continue to bring our message to the world.
The tradition remains one of the major prayers which says, "Let anyone who is hungry come to our Seder" It is customary to invite friends, single families, and anyone you think would enjoy all the food.
The singing, the sharing of the food, drinking the four glasses of wine, and the joy of this holiday sets the tone for the next generation to take over the banner, which has been carried on for a thousand years or more.
Passover truly is the beginning of the story of the Jewish people. It still lives today.
Maury Feren World War II Yom Kippur story
On Yom Kippur, when a Jew knows he cannot eat for 24 hours, soldiers were given dispensation or pardon because it was so important to keep their strength up. But Maury thought he felt good enough that he could fast anyway. He was in a foxhole on "reserve. Ready to go out of something happened."
He had about 6 hours to go in his fast, and he began to feel faint. There was a barn with food and coffee set up for the soldiers close by and he decided he should stop the fast so as not to get sick.
He had spent the night in the foxhole, but now got up, took of his helmet and put it on the foxhole while he went off for something to eat or drink. Half way to the barn a shell came and took out all of his personal belongings and helmet that he left by the foxhole.
Maury was fine. "It is an amazing Day of Atonement story."
During the high holy day services, it is tradition to have someone blow a shofar. During the Yom Kippur closing service, the rabbi invite anyone to come up and blow their shofar. There might be 10 people all doing it at once. Quite a feat after a day of fasting.
Shofars have played an important role throughout Jewish history. They announced jubilee and sabbatical years, and heralded the beginning of a new Jewish month. Once blown to gather the people for battle, the shofar can be thought to signal the beginning of an inner battle, where good challenges the dark motives within us all.
Rousing and unusual, the sound of the shofar bounces off the ears and lodges somewhere in the heart. Described as the air raid siren for the soul, the alarm clock for the blasť, the shofar is supposed to rouse those who hear it to a higher purpose.
Text and Video from The Temple-Tifereth Israel by Jim Evans
Church Women United in Greater Cleveland is a group of women who gather together to promote the positive similarities of our faiths and accentuate the underlying oneness of the various religious groups and affiliations. This year's theme was "The Myths And Mysteries In Our Religions" and featured speakers from the following faiths: Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim and Sikh.
Mina Saidel and Lee Apple are Mikvah Attendants of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights.
Lee Apple and Mina Saidel
In this video clip, Mina Saidel explained the Biblical origins of the Jewish water immersion ceremony called a mikvah.
Lee Apple then spoke about some of the modern challenges of the mikvah such as how to handle acrylic nails and piercings and a special bridal ceremony.
Philanthropia raised over $145,000 for local charities including Project Seva, the community service end of the Federation of India Community Associations of NE Ohio, or FICA. Kudos to Harlan Diamond and Executive Caterers team, The Singing Angels, Leon Bibb and all involved.