JUF News Express
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In this Issue:

• Chicago African-Americans, Jews join to continue Dr. King's legacy

• Students rally against new BDS drive at Northwestern

• Murder of Argentinian prosecutor draws strong JCRC rebuke

• Sara Crown Star chairs JUF's 2015 Annual Campaign

• Israel Solidarity Day returns to Ravinia May 3

• JCRC commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

• Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim signup almost here

• From JUFNews.org and around the web

 

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Chicago African-Americans, Jews join to continue Dr. King's legacy

For the second consecutive year, Chicago’s Jewish and African-American communities stood shoulder to shoulder at a Baptist church – once a prominent West Side synagogue – for a rousing tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Entitled “Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Strengthening the Bonds between the African-American and Jewish Communities,” the Jan. 19 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day program answered that question with a resounding “yes.” Leaders from both communities gave stirring speeches about the continued need to help one another and build on Dr. King’s vision.

“We did not come here just to have a celebration of life; we came here to reignite the dream of a man who was a dreamer,” said Bishop Derrick M. Fitzpatrick, pastor at Stone Temple Baptist Church, which hosted the morning’s event.

JUF, along with the Firehouse Community Arts Center, Sinai Health System and the North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society, co-sponsored.

In welcoming attendees, JCRC Chair Skip Schrayer introduced the theme that echoed throughout the program. “Dr. King asked us to look out for our fellow man, to be our brother’s keeper, and to join with him in the pursuit of full equality and justice for all humankind,” Schrayer said. “Today, as we reflect on his life and legacy, we must acknowledge that this work is not yet complete.” (Watch a video of his remarks.)

Other speakers included musician and motivational speaker Taylor Moore, Rabbi Wendi Geffen of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, State Rep. Art Turner Jr., and Maury Fertig, grandson of March on Washington speaker Rabbi Uri Miller. Videos of their speeches are here.

Photo: Rabbi Wendi Geffen. By Robert Kusel.

Students rally against new BDS drive at Northwestern

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement opened a new front this week, on the Northwestern University campus. Within 24 hours, students from NU Hillel and other campus groups launched their own campaign to counter the effort.

This latest drive, paralleling BDS campaigns on the DePaul, Loyola and other campuses in Chicago and around the country, was initiated by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Hillel leaders noted that, while the development is unwelcome, it was not unexpected, and they were prepared to act quickly. Working with JUF’s Israel Education Center and other pro-Israel groups, they formed the Northwestern Coalition for Peace.

In its initial statement, the coalition said “We reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement , which is an international campaign to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel. We believe in Israel’s right to exist with safe and secure borders alongside a secure and independent state of Palestine.

“…the BDS movement (is) a campaign whose goals will not result in a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or promote human rights for all in the region, but rather in the demise of Israel as a Jewish state. … The necessary and just call for a Palestinian state cannot come with a systematic denial of the same right for Jews.”

Emily Briskman, executive director of the IEC, said "the Chicago Jewish community, through IEC, will support student activists and Hillel in the fight against divestment at Northwestern."

Murder of Argentinian prosecutor draws strong JCRC rebuke

JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council has expressed “great dismay” at the suspicious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman and the Argentinian president’s response to it.

In a letter to Marcelo Suarez Salvia, Argentina’s consul general in Chicago, JCRC Director of International Affairs Steven Dishler said the death of Nisman – who spent the last decade investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 – “is but one more dark cloud, of which there have been many, that have plagued the investigation. … Adding more insult, President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner’s quick assessment that it was a suicide, which she later amended into a personal attack on Nisman’s character, was very disappointing.

“The Argentine people,” the letter continued, “owe a great debt to Nisman for the extraordinary investigation he led for 10 years, overcoming government corruption and blunders, to uncover the culprits behind the heinous attack. Consul General, we call on the Government of Argentina to thoroughly investigate Alberto Nisman’s death and finally bring the Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists responsible for the murder of 85 citizens to justice.”

Nisman was found shot to death (link may require subscription) less than a day before he was to present details of his probe, which linked the president and other government officials to efforts to cover up Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in the bombing. Large protest demonstrations followed, and one of the country’s leading rabbis, Abraham Skorka, known as the Pope’s Rabbi, urged calm.

In an apparently separate development, several Israeli tourists were hurt during a lengthy anti-Semitic attack on a hostel in another part of the country.

Photo: Alberto Nisman/JTA

Sara Crown Star chairs JUF's 2015 Annual Campaign

During a trip to Israel in 2001, Sara Crown Star found herself a witness to the aftermath of a suicide bombing where 15 civilians were killed, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and 130 were wounded.

She sat on the doorsteps of her Jerusalem hotel, watching 90 ambulances drive to the bomb site, counting whether the 120 members of her group returned safely. In the face of such a tragedy, she told herself how important it was to do something to strengthen the Jewish community at home, in Israel and around the world.

Since then, Star has devoted herself to serving the local Jewish community and Israel. This year, she is taking on one of the largest annual fundraising efforts in the country as chair of the 2015 Annual Campaign of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. The recently concluded 2014 Campaign raised $82.1 million.

“I feel honored to be working with JUF because of its ability to do so much for so many,” Star said. “JUF works to strengthen the next generation of Jews and build a strong Jewish future. If there is a need at home or halfway across the world, JUF is there. This is possible because our Chicagoland community is willing to work together.”

Israel Solidarity Day returns to Ravinia May 3

Save the date. JUF's Israel Solidarity Day, featuring the Walk with Israel, returns to Ravinia Festival in Highland Park on Sunday, May 3.

Chicago's annual celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) will be packed with food, music and festivities of all kinds, starting with an 11 a.m. Young Family Concert featuring Rick Recht.

The main event runs from noon 'til 4 p.m. and includes the three-mile Walk with Israel fundraiser and entertainment featuring The Maccabeats, Israeli hip hop/funk band Hadag Nachash and the Jamman Drum Circle.

Chairing this year's ISD are Jennifer and Joshua Herz. TOV Volunteer co-chairs are Eve and Richard Biller.

To get more info, call 312-444-2905 or email IsraelSolidarity@juf.org.

JCRC commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council is sponsoring two programs to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held each year on Jan. 27, the day Auschwitz was liberated.

At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center hosts a discussion with Auschwitz survivors, moderated by Northwestern University History Prof. Benjamin Frommer. This program is co-sponsored by JCRC, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The event, at 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, is free, but reservations are required at holocaustsurvivors.eventbrite.com.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, the Lycee Francais (French School) will host a program for its high school students, featuring a discussion with a woman who was a “Hidden Child” in France and a survivor of the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Remarks will be given by French Consul General Vincent Floreani, Israel Consul General to the Midwest Roey Gilad, and JCRC Director of International Affairs Steve Dishler. The program is open to parents and the Jewish community. 613 W. Bittersweet Place, Chicago.    

Also in connection with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 21 American survivors of Auschwitz -- ranging in age from 81 to 94 -- will return to the concentration camp next week to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation.

Meanwhile, Italian Jews are protesting a proposal to charge admission at Risiera di San Sabba, a former Nazi concentration camp in Italy.

Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim signup almost here

Experience the ultimate adventure with Israelis. This summer, all flights for Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim-JUF Chicago Community Trips will fly out of Chicago.

As the only trip provider with Chicago departures this summer, it is now easier and more convenient than ever for Chicagoans to take advantage of the gift of a free trip to Israel.

Spread the word to your eligible friends and family members by referring them to Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim. Check our Summer 2015 dates and mark your calendars: registration opens 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 2, for returning applicants and 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, for new applicants. Sign up at israelwithisraelis.com.

Questions? Contact Shorashim at info@shorashim.org or (312) 267-0677.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

News

At a U.N. General Assembly session called to combat rising anti-Semitism, 57 Islamic nations issued a statement denouncing all words and acts that lead "to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia." French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy addressed the same session, saying “The United Nations was founded to fight this plague (of anti-Semitism). This assembly was given the sacred task of preventing those terrible spirits from reawakening. But they have returned.”

The increasing attacks on Jews around the world struck Israel, as well, this week, as 12 passengers were stabbed by a Palestinian man who ran through a Tel Aviv bus.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an invitation to address a Feb. 11 joint session of Congress about the Iranian nuclear issue.

There they are, Miss Universe hopefuls from Israel and Lebanon, standing side by side in a selfie. Now it's an international incident.

Tablet Magazine ran a translation of the eulogy given by Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur at the funeral of Elsa Cayat, one of the victims of the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

A new study by Baylor University finds that Jewish Americans who attend synagogue enjoy better health.

Melvin Gordon, CEO of Chicago-based Tootsie Roll, died at age 95.  

Come Super Bowl Sunday, super singer Idina Menzel gets to remind the world that she really does know more than one song. She’s doing the National Anthem.

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