Jews of the Ukraine in the Cross Hairs

Dear Friends,

This is a post from the World Union of Progressive Judaism about the situation in Ukraine.  This morning another synagogue was vandalized.  It seems history is repeating itself.  Please read below and consider helping. 

Dear World Union Family:

 This morning, as our community members arrived at the synagogue center in Simferopol, they discovered anti semitic slogans stating “Death to the Jews” painted all over the doors of the synagogue, as well as damage to windows and other parts of the building.  

 

As the unrest in Ukraine unfolds, concerns for the safety and well being of our communities in the Ukraine is growing steadily, especially in the rural areas and Crimea.

 

As seen on the news, the Crimean peninsula is considered of strategic importance to Russia, and at the time of this newsflash it seems that Russian troops have occupied the main airports and centers of power in the capital and surroundings. This violent atmosphere has quickly given rise to harassment and attacks on our communities.

 Rabbi Michael Kapustin says:” The city is occupied by Russians. Apparently Russians intend to take over the Crimea and make it a part of Russia.  If this were the case I would leave the country. In this case I will leave this country since I want to live in democratic Ukraine. In the meanwhile, in spite of all  our hesitation,s my family has decided to stay. If anyone comes tonight I will be in the synagogue to light the candles. Wider Shabbat services will not take place due to security reasons.  

 According to Anatoly Gendin, chair of the community, “Clearly, it was important for the anti-Semites to commit this crime. Since the crisis began prices went up by 30%, pensions aren’t being paid.  As usual, Jews are blamed  reason of these disasters and Jews are held responsible. I am afraid to think how this will progress. “

  As the situation is unsafe, the community has instructed all members to stay indoors and stock up on food and supplies.

 The WUPJ has initiated an emergency campaign to support our communities through this crisis, and hope to provide  in hope to provide urgently needed security measures, supplies and equipment to the communities. If you are interested in joining this effort please click here http://www.wupj.org/Contribute/Giving.asp

 

We hope and pray that quiet will return soon to the streets of Ukraine, and as Shabbat settles in on the streets.

 Ose Shalom Bimromov – May the One who makes peace in the heavens, help bring peace here on earth, for all the Household of Israel and for all God’s creations.

 Shabbat Shalom

 Mike Grabiner, Chairman of World Union for Progressive Judaism

Anne Molloy, Chair of WUPJ FSU Committee

Alex Kagan, Director of WUPJ FSU Program

 UKRAINE  EMERGENCY RESPONSE FEBRUARY 28, 2014

 TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION, PLEASE GO TO:

http://www.wupj.org/Contribute/Giving.asp 

IF USING A CREDIT CARD, in box that says, “ENTER DESCRIPTION” Please indicate Ukraine APPEAL

 

FOR ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS, PLEASE CALL RABBI GARY BRETTON-GRANATOOR, 212-452-6531 or email gary@wupj.org

 

 

 

DNA links prove Jews are a ‘race,’ says genetics expert – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

This is an amazing story about a new book on the DNA of Jews.  There really is something  that makes us a family!    Read on.

DNA links prove Jews are a ‘race,’ says genetics expert – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

Palin’s Offensive Remarks

So Sarah Palin calls those who link her to Saturday’s murders and violence in Tuscon a “Blood Libel”.  Is she understanding what she said?  A Jewish Congresswoman was almost murdered. It was an assassination attempt.  Rep. Giffords was shot point-blank in the head. It is a miracle that she survived.  And she was one of the congress members that Palin’s PAC literally aimed a bullseye at-in the cross hairs.  A JEWISH Congresswoman.  And now Palin uses further incendiary language of a “Blood Libel”.

A “Blood Libel” was exactly what the Church in the middle ages used against JEWS.  This was their target of lies  at the Jewish community especially around Passover that Jews would murder the innocent Christian babies and use their blood to make matzah.   This lie was used to incite violence and pogroms against Jewish communities throughout Europe around Passover and Easter. Furthering Church aims to wipe out Jews as non-believers in Jesus as the Messiah.  Jews were blamed for Jesus’ death and then heaped on top of this was the “Blood Libel” that would bring great violence against the Jewish communities throughout Europe.

And now Sarah Palin uses that very heated phrase. Does she think before she speaks?  Or does she say this on purpose?

In either case it is deeply offensive.  She needs to apologize to the Jewish community but primarily Rep. Giffords and her family and the victims of Saturday’s shooting and their families.

A few more words on the Mosque

A few more words on the Mosque and Cordoba Initiative community center controversy.  One of the major issues for Islam is that there has never been any great Reformation.  Christianity went through it with Martin Luther. Judaism has had several reformations.  Further American Islam must send it young leaders outside the U.S. for religious training.  There aren’t the equivalent of Islamic seminaries here. Although there is a new university that is just getting started that is Islamic and they hope to establish a seminary.  This would be a great thing for America and for interfaith dialog. So often Islamic religious leaders, Imams come from other than Western culture.  They don’t understand our form of democracy.

That is not to say they can’t.  But culturally the Islamic world is very diverse and adding American diversity to its mix will be a good thing I believe. For as much as there is wrong with our country-there is still much good!  And American political values have shaped both Judaism and Christianity as much as our religious values have shaped American culture.  So to will Islam add its voice to the mix and be influenced by its interaction with Jews and Christians.

Dialog between the three Abrahamic Faiths  Judaism, Christianity and Islam is important because we share roots in common even as we have developed differently.  That is why I am proud to be the President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis that engages in dialog with both our Christian and Muslim neighbors.  It does matter.

Fred Phelps at it again–this time its Easter and the Jews

It’s Easter morning.  My Christian friends are observing their most holy day of the year celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

For Jews this was never a good time of year. Historically the charge of Christ-killer surfaced during the days and weeks leading up to Easter day.  Passion plays filled with anti-Semitism performed at this season and priests’ sermons often riled up the people into such hatred that it would spill over into pogroms throughout Europe in a different time.   When Passover and Easter overlapped  as they do this year-blood libels spread as accusations against Jews stealing Christian babies and using the blood to make matzah would often cause massive killings of Jews and retaliation for imagined wrongs. 

So even though today Easter is filled with sweet furry bunnies and yummy chocolate candies and jelly beans the truth of Easter and the Jews is a history of hurt and hate and pogroms and murder.

This year is no different.  Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church members from Topeka, Kansas are at it again. They are whipping up accusations of the Jews as Christ killers.  It is not enough that they preach a gospel of hatred toward gay people.  They show up with their “God Hates Fags” signs and protest gay community events. Phelps rose to particularly infamy more than 10 years ago when he protested at Mathew Shepherd’s funeral in Wyoming. Mathew Shepherd was the young man who was brutally beaten and left for dead tied to a split fence like Jesus to the cross who died from his injuries became the focus of their theology of hate. Phelps exported that everywhere around the country spewing his homo-hatred for everyone to see. 

But now in recent months Phelp’s thirst for hatred has grown and his focus is increasingly the Jewish community.  Phelps and his sick followers (often just his family members) travel from community to community protesting outside synagogues and Jewish community events.  They whip up old-fashioned anti-Semitism based on these old-time gospel canards. 

This week I received in the mail an offering from Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church in the form of a DVD mailed to the synagogue.   On the outside it said “Obama Hates Israel”  written in white letters on a black DVD holder in the midst of a Jewish star.  There is a lot of debate in the Jewish community about the Obama administrations position on Israel.  But when you open the box and pull out the DVD–the DVD says “Jews Killed Christ”. 

To be honest I didn’t play the DVD because the ADL sent warnings to many synagogues about the DVD and they were afraid that it was filled with viruses to infect computer systems.  But in truth the infection was the brand of sickness that Phelps and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church foment.

Phelps picked this week of Passover and Easter to try to whip up those horrid memories. 

He can try. But we are stronger than his hatred.   Happy Passover. Happy Easter.

Today is the fifth day of counting the Omer.