JUF News Express
Friday, November 07, 2014Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• Loyola puts anti-Israel student group on probation

• Congress loses Jewish members, Illinois GA gains one

• Terrorists use cars to kill pedestrians in Jerusalem

• JUF leader publishes a quarter century of writings

• Former Shin Bet director talks to local Jewish leaders

• Hundreds attend Ida Crown groundbreaking ceremony

• Remembering Kristallnacht 76 years later

• From JUFNews.org and around the web


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Loyola puts anti-Israel student group on probation

Loyola University has taken disciplinary action against Students for Justice in Palestine. After investigating complaints filed by Jewish students that the group attempted to disrupt the promotion of Taglit-Birthright Israel trips on campus on Sept. 9, the administration placed the group on probation for the rest of the academic year.

SJP is categorized by the Anti-Defamation League as one of 2013’s top 10 anti-Israel groups in America, and is responsible for the majority of anti-Israel activity on college campuses. SJP uses guerilla tactics such as disruptions, mock eviction notices, die-ins and vitriol on social media, not to promote solidarity with Palestinians, but to lob accusations like apartheid and ethnic cleansing against Israel and Israelis with the goal of delegitimization. 

One of the Jewish students staffing the Birthright Israel table, which was organized by Loyola Hillel, said, “the tone that many of these students adopted was harsh, interrogative, overwhelming, and, quite frankly, verbally abusive.” 

As part of the administration’s ruling, SJP is required to undergo intergroup dialogue training. The group filed an appeal of the decision on Monday.

Congress loses Jewish members, Illinois GA gains one

The Democrats are not the only group facing diminished numbers in the 114th Congress after Tuesday’s election; the number of Jewish members is also set to decline come January. Between planned retirements and tight races, the number of Jewish legislators in D.C. will decrease from 34 to 29.

In the Senate, Jewish Democrats Al Franken from Minnesota and Brian Schatz from Hawaii retained their seats. In the House, the surprise defeat of Minority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last June led many to believe there would be no Jewish GOP representation in the new Congress. That changed on Tuesday when Lee Zeldin was elected to succeed Democratic congressman Tim Bishop and represent New York’s 1st congressional district. 

Locally, however, the Illinois General Assembly added a member, Will Guzzardi, to the Jewish caucus. Jewish Federation’s government affairs staff met with State Rep-Elect Guzzardi briefly last summer. A New York native, he shared memories of his bar mitzvah, his thoughts on education reform, and his priorities for his first year in the state House. Guzzardi, 26, won a tight race against incumbent Toni Berrios in Illinois’ 39th district.

Terrorists use cars to kill pedestrians in Jerusalem

Jerusalem has seen a wave of attacks in which private vehicles have been used to strike pedestrians. Two weeks ago, an Arab driver plowed into a light rail station near Ammunition Hill, killing two (including a three-month old baby) and wounding eight. Wednesday, a Hamas member from Shuafat drove into another light rail station (a thousand feet from the previous attack) killing two and wounding 13 people. Also on Wednesday, another Arab driver ran over three Israelis on a road near Gush Etzion, wounding them severely, though this incident is now believed to be unintentional.

The wave of car attacks is not a new phenomenon, writes Ofer Bavly, director general of the Jewish Federation’s Israel office, but the increased frequency is certainly raising an alarm, enough that some media pundits have been quick to suggest a third intifada.

Bavly cites the recent change in atmosphere being set by the Palestinian Authority, which has begun using the language “Al Aqsa (the Temple Mount) is in danger,” as exemplified by a political cartoon the PA has circulated on Facebook. That, and “provocations” from the Israeli side, including certain government policy, Bavly says, are the likely cause of the recent unrest.

These things are “creating a feeling among Palestinians that it is time to act, and it will not take much to spur thousands of West Bank Palestinians to more violent action against Israelis,” Bavly writes.

Photo: The scene where a car crashed into Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill light rail station on Oct. 22. (Credit: Flash90 via JNS.org)

JUF leader publishes a quarter century of writings

Michael C. Kotzin, senior counselor to the president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, has played an integral role in many of the major Jewish events of the past quarter century. From helping frame how public officials, faith leaders and other influentials understand Israel, to fighting what is now known as the new anti-Semitism, to intergroup relations in the city of Chicago, he details it all in his new book, On the Front Lines in a Changing Jewish World

The community celebrated his new book — a collection of essays, opinion columns, speeches, and reviews mostly written between 1988 and 2013 — at a book launch and signing at the Federation. The book covers a dramatic, volatile chapter in the world at large and for the Jewish people, illuminating the times in which these pieces appeared while remaining relevant today, sometimes uncannily so.

The launch party included a panel discussion on 25 years of change in the Jewish world featuring Kotzin, Federation President Dr. Steven B. Nasatir and longtime Federation leaders and board members Midge Perlman Shafton, Alan Solow and Andrea Yablon. (Watch the panel discussion.)

Learn more about Kotzin and the book here, or order it on Amazon.

Photo: Michael C. Kotzin signs copies of 'On the Front Lines' at a book launch on Nov. 5.

Former Shin Bet director talks to local Jewish leaders

Adm. Ami Ayalon, former director of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, spoke at Jewish Federation headquarters on Monday to a small group of local leaders active in the Jewish Community Relations Council. Ayalon was traveling on behalf of the American Society of the University of Haifa, where he is chairman of the university’s executive committee.

Ayalon discussed his work for Shin Bet between 1996 and 2000, his work for the University of Haifa, and his thoughts on the challenges facing modern-day Israel. (Listen to a podcast of Ayalon’s remarks.)

At the University of Haifa, he works to build the institution’s reputation for marine research. He’s also proud of the school’s reputation of coexistence and harmony between Arabs and Jews on campus, as it has the largest number of Arab students at any university in Israel. He called it an “Israeli mosaic,” because it brings together unique pieces to create something beautiful and special as a whole. 

Also, Ayalon discussed Israel from a military versus societal perspective. He called Israel’s military “the most ethical in the world,” while on the other hand he said he frets about Israel's future as a society. “We jump to security and the military front, but we don't touch on society, on the home front," he said.

While at the Federation building, Ayalon passed the bust of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. “Herzl's dream,” he said, “is in our hands.”

Hundreds attend Ida Crown groundbreaking ceremony

Over 500 Ida Crown Jewish Academy supporters, including many students and alumni, gathered at the school's new site in Skokie last Sunday to celebrate the groundbreaking for a state-of-the-art facility at 8255 N. Central Ave. that is set to be finished in January 2016.

Among the dignitaries present for the historic occasion were Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, State Rep. Lou Lang and Michael Lorge, corporation counsel for the Village of Skokie. Ceremony speakers included Steven Landes, chairman of Associated Talmud Torahs; Rabbi Leonard Matanky, dean of ICJA; and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago President Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, who called the occasion “a great day for the entire Jewish people.”

Lester Crown, lead donor for the project, said, “What the Academy has done in crowded corridors and insufficient space is academically and athletically incredible.”

Lead gifts for the project were provided by the Crown and Goodman Family and Rabbi Morris Esformes through JUF’s Centennial Campaign. 

Photo: Ida Crown and Jewish Federation leaders with members of the ICJA senior class at the Nov. 2 groundbreaking.

Remembering Kristallnacht 76 years later

This weekend marks 76 years since Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass. Considered to be the beginning of the Holocaust, on Nov. 9, 1938, thousands of Jewish homes, shops and synagogues were destroyed in Germany and Austria. More than 30,000 Jews were forced into concentration camps. Countless others were beaten or killed.

A video featuring Chicago-area Holocaust survivors, scholars, religious leaders and WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger recalls the heinous crimes of that night, and the lessons to be learned from it. View it at www.juf.org/11-9-1938.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

The New York Times on Sunday called for a prisoner swap with Cuba to secure the return of Alan Gross, who was arrested and imprisoned there in 2009 while working as a subcontractor for the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs continues to work for Gross’ release and is encouraging concerned citizens to write the White House.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case Monday about whether Israel should be listed as the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem. Congress passed a law in 2002 allowing for such wording on request, whereas the executive branch has argued that it has the right not to enforce it.

Army General Martin Dempsey, the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S., said Thursday that Israel went to "extraordinary lengths" to limit civilian casualties in the war in Gaza, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Israel rejected a report released by Amnesty International that accuses Israel of committing war crimes during this summer’s operation.

Jonathan Greenblatt, a special assistant to President Obama, has been named the new national director of the Anti-Defamation League. He succeeds Abraham Foxman, who announced he would step down last February.

FaithStreet has released a list of the 20 most essential comics on religion, and a Jewish entry is No. 1.

Congregation Etz Chaim, which was vandalized two weeks ago, is holding a community gathering of support and solidarity at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night, Nov. 8, at the synagogue, 1710 S. Highland, Lombard.

The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema closes on Sunday with a lineup of five films screening at AMC Northbrook Court, 1525 Lake Cook Road. Highlights include the 1 p.m. showing of “Beneath the Helmet,” a documentary following Israeli teens as they begin the army, featuring an appearance by co-producer David Coleman, and the 8 p.m. closing film, “Magic Men,” a story of a Holocaust survivor and his son who go to Greece in search of the magician who saved the father's life. Writer and director Guy Nattiv will be there.

Hear live stories told by young adults navigating Jewish life in Chicago at “Oy! Let Me Tell You …,” a Jewish live lit and storytelling event, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Matilda, 3101 N. Sheffield Ave. To register, or for more details including cost information, go to oychicago.com/LetMeTellYou.

Attend a one-of-a-kind concert featuring four of the most influential women in Jewish music: Julie Silver, Beth Schafer, Peri Smilow and Michelle Citrin. “FourTelling: Journeys, Stories and Songs” will take place at 7:30 Saturday, Dec. 6, at Congregation BJBE, 1201 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, and will include music and intimate stories from each of the four artists. Purchase tickets here.

The latest JUF News blog posts:  

Paul Wieder looks back on lessons learned from 20 years at JUF.

Chris Lupella recently took up knitting and found that this new hobby results in more than just scarves and sweaters.

With another birthday around the corner, Cindy Sher finds that for every question she’s answered in life, there are more waiting.

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