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7-13 Tishrei 5781 • September 25-October 1, 2020 Connect. Inform. Inspire.

THE BOOK
OF RUTH
Remembering the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

INSIDE: Experiencing a Deeper Yom Kippur by Rabbi Mordecai Finley


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INSIDE THE JOURNAL


» HONORING A HERO Throughout this issue, there are multiple 31 » BREAKING THE FAST WITH SWEETNESS The
tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sephardic Spice Girls share their Yom Kippur break-fast recipe for biscotti and a
Sept. 18 at the age of 87.
special coffee.
9 » COLUMNISTS Tabby Refael on why she’s jealous of the Abraham 32 » COMMUNITY REMEMBERS GINSBURG Local
Accords; Dr. Dan Stone on the “mask madness” during the pandemic; Dan
Schnur on the enormous stakes involved in selecting RBG’s successor; community leaders share the lessons and legacy of the Notorious RBG.
Reyna Gentin on sending her son to college; and Judea Pearl on RBG’s Compiled by Esther D. Kustanowitz.
contribution to the book “I Am a Jew,” honoring his late son, Daniel.

15 » RBG’S IMPACT ON WOMEN Randi Braun on the 34 » A LAWYER’S TAKE ON RBG UCLA law professor Peter
enormous influence Justice Ginsburg had on her life and the lives of women Reich on the impact Justice Ginsburg had on lawyers and law students
everywhere. worldwide. Managing Editor Kelly Hartog reports.

16 » A DEEPER YOM KIPPUR Rabbi Mordecai Finley’s deep dive 36 » YIZKOR GARDEN Unable to meet in person for Yom Kippur, IKAR
into how to get the most out of Yom Kippur.
has created an experiential garden where mourners can connect and remember
»
18 JUDAISM FOR NONBELIEVERS Rabbi Bradley Shavit loved ones. Esther D. Kustanowitz reports.

41 » TOVAH FELDSHUH ON MEETING RBG The actress


Artson argues that regardless of our beliefs, we can grow into better versions of
ourselves by dialoguing with Jewish wisdom.

21 » A MINI KOTEL AT BETH AM Rabbi Adam Kligfeld was who has performed as Ginsburg, shares details of her private meeting with the
late justice in her chambers. Managing Editor Kelly Hartog reports.
searching for greater human connection during the pandemic. He found it by

42 » THE MOSSAD IN IRAN Apple TV + new thriller “Tehran,” depicts


inviting congregants to spend time in Temple Beth Am’s new Holy Ark.

25 » HOLIDAY FEVER Political Editor Shmuel Rosner on the fear, anger a dangerous mission inside of the Iranian capital. Gerri Miller reports.
and frustration that marked the start of the High Holy Days in Israel.

29 » TABLE FOR FIVE: YOM KIPPUR Judy Gruen and Rabbis 58 » YOM KIPPUR ‘CORONA CONFESSION’ Comedian
Joel Chasnoff on his irreverent coronavirus video set to the tune of the traditional
Lori Shapiro, Elchanan Shoff, Michael Barclay and Ari Segal share their insights
on the meaning of Yom Kippur. Vidui. Kylie Ora Lobell reports.

SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING


» Fri September 25 6:26 p.m. 9 » Columnists 31 » Food 46 » What’s Happening
Shabbat ends September 26 7:29 p.m.
25 » Rosner’s Domain 32 » Community 55 » Jonathan Fong Style
YOM KIPPUR CANDLE LIGHTING
» Sun September 27 6:24 p.m. 30 » Blog Bytes 41 » Arts 58 » Just Asking
Yom Kippur ends Monday September 28 7:18 p.m.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 5


Election season.
Pandemic times.
Latest news.
And so much more.

More urgent. More useful. More human.


The New JewishJournal.com
EDITOR’S NOTE

Volume 37, Number 28


September 25-October 1, 2020
jewishjournal.com

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief David Suissa

Ruth Bader Ginsburg On Friendship and Unity


EDITORIAL
Managing Editor Kelly Hartog
Senior Political Editor Shmuel Rosner
Book Editor Jonathan Kirsch » by David Suissa
Copy Editors Sharla Etkin-Ives, Steven Mirkin,
Linda Whitmore, Chris Woldt THERE’S PLENTY TO LOVE ABOUT Ginsburg and Scalia were colleagues for Their relationship was so special it
Contributing Editors Tom Tugend, Salvador Litvak Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing lib- years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals spawned an opera, “Scalia/Ginsburg,” in-
Contributing Writers Bradley Shavit Artson, Michael eral Supreme Court justice who died on before Scalia was nominated to the high spired by their court rulings. After Scalia
Berenbaum, Steve Greenberg, Larry Greenfield, Sept. 18 at the age of 87. court in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan. died, Ginsburg said: “Toward the end of
Esther D. Kustanowitz, Kylie Ora Lobell, Gerri Many of her fans love her because she “I have missed Ruth very much since leav- the opera ‘Scalia/Ginsburg,’ tenor Scalia
Miller, Gina Nahai, Ari Noonan, Judea Pearl, Thane was a champion of their cherished causes, ing the Court of Appeals,” Scalia, who died and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: ‘We are
Rosenbaum, Dan Schnur, Ben Shapiro, Ryan Torok, from abortion to immigration to health in 2016 at the age of 79, told an audience different, we are one,’ different in our in-
Michelle K. Wolf, David Wolpe care to women’s rights to gender equality, years after he was appointed. terpretation of written texts, one in our
JEWISHJOURNAL.COM among others. reverence for the
Digital Team In the Jewish world, there is obvious Constitution and
Aaron Bandler, Armando Koghan pride in having a Jewish woman on the the institution we
Digital Content Manager Erin Ben-Moche highest court in the land. serve. From our
Social Media Director Nicole Behnam Even in popular culture, Ginsburg cap- years together at the
Podcast Producer Shanni Suissa tured the nation’s imagination. Her nick- D.C. Circuit, we were
ADVERTISING name, the Notorious RBG, is a play on the best buddies.”
Executive Director, Advertising name of rap star the Notorious B.I.G. She In that statement
Martin Finkelstein earned it by tirelessly defending human is a pearl of wisdom.
Senior Account Executives rights, through her grueling workouts and Ginsburg and Scalia
Shoshana Cohen, Arlyn Isen through her tenacity in surviving several differed in their in-
Traffic Manager David Fox bouts of cancer. terpretation of writ-
Sales Coordinator Angela Hay “Throughout Justice Ginsburg’s entire ten texts, but they
Style Director Jonathan Fong career, there was sort of like nothing that shared a reverence
PRODUCTION could ever take her down,” Julie Cohen, for the Constitution
Art Director Lynn Pelkey the co-director of the Oscar-nominated and the institution
ADMINISTRATION documentary “RBG,” told Yahoo News. “If they served.
Chief Financial Officer Adam Levine she got rejected, if she got discriminated In other words,
Bookkeeper Andrea Alonso against, if she got kind of dismissively
pushed aside, her response to that was al-
Israel Advertising Partners ways just to push right past that.” Considering how strongly Ginsburg felt

Their friendship
Imp Group Ltd about her liberal views, how could she be
POB 7195, Jerusalem 91071 ISRAEL so friendly with someone who so sharply

was not simply


Tel: 972-2-625-2933 disagreed with her? And how could Scalia

We all value
Fax: 972-2-624-9240 himself reciprocate such an extreme level

an expression of
E-mail: info@impmedia.co.il of tolerance?

friendships, but
One possibility is that they didn’t see

their humanity.
Legal Counsel/Accountants their ideological differences as something

we usually stick
Jonathan Kirsch of Law Offices of Jonathan Kirsch to “tolerate” — like a bitter medicine or

It rested on a
O’Melveny & Myers LLP a nasty flu. Rather, they separated their

to like-minded
(pro bono legal services on employment law matters) ideology from their humanity. Easier said

fundamental pillar
than done, right?
Past Publishers
friends. It feels In our era of vicious political division,

they shared.
Richard Volpert (1985-1986) it’s almost impossible to conceive of ideo-
Ed Brennglass (1986-1997)
Stanley Hirsh (1997-2003) more enjoyable, logical rivals becoming such close friends.
We’ve become so attached to our political
Irwin S. Field (2003-2011)
Rob Eshman (2011-2017) less stressful. worldviews it’s hard to even fathom a deep
friendship with someone from the “other
their friendship was not simply an expres-
sion of their humanity. It rested on a fun-
TRIBE MEDIA CORP. Ginsburg and Scalia side.”
Maybe that’s why in the eulogies of
damental pillar they shared.
Can we find pillars today that we share

transcended that
3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1250,
Los Angeles, CA 90010. (213) 368-1661 Ginsburg, we don’t hear much about her with our ideological foes? If anything,
friendship with her ideological opposite we’re going in the other direction. We’ve
thinking.
Annual subscription rate: $75 for home delivery
(restricted in certain areas); $160 for mail both — it’s too hard to relate to. It’s easier to fo- become geniuses at finding the things that
in California and out of state; $350 outside of the cus on Ginsburg’s legacy, her remarkable divide us. Those pillars we thought we
United States. For all subscription services, visit shared are crumbling beneath us.
Perseverance and resilience, then, are character and her many legal accomplish-
JewishJournal.com or call (213) 368-1661, ext.129.
The Jewish Journal does not endorse the goods things we can learn from Ginsburg in this ments. After all, compared to the crucial As we honor the extraordinary legacy of
and services advertised in its pages, and it makes horribly challenging pandemic year. But issues of the day, a friendship doesn’t Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as we recall her trail-
no representation as to the kashrut of the food there is something else, something per- seem like much of an accomplishment. blazing accomplishments, as we sit shivah
products and services in such advertising. haps even more critical in these divisive We all value friendships, but we usually for a Jewish and American hero, let us not
Published weekly by TRIBE Media Corp.
times that we can learn from her. stick to like-minded friends. It feels more forget the part of her legacy that speaks di-
All rights reserved. © 2020
It’s well known that Ginsburg had a enjoyable, less stressful. Ginsburg and Sca- rectly to our divisive times.
close friendship with a colleague who was lia transcended that thinking. They found a Of all the things to love about RBG, “We
her ideological opposite, the late Supreme way to stay true to their convictions while are different, we are one” may be the one
Court Justice Antonin Scalia. honoring the timeless value of friendship. we need most. n

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 7


YO U R T U R N
Don’t be shy. Send your letters to letters@jewishjournal.com

W
The Court Without Ginsburg Netanyahu, with all the legal and political economy in the world. California teachers
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader issues surrounding his tenure, is the best would be better off guided by a factual

t
Ginsburg, America has lost a pioneer and representative Israel has to strengthen its and objective, not Marxism-driven, ethnic
icon of the movement for equal rights for standing in the world. These new study curriculum.
women, and the Supreme Court has lost agreements are convenient for Israel’s Vladimir Kaplan
one of its most renowned and respected new allies as they face the Iranian threat via email
jurists. but it doesn’t diminish what Netanyahu
Ginsburg, who died on erev Rosh has helped to achieve. »
Hashanah, also was one of eight Jewish Allan Kandel
justices, and the first female Jewish justice, Los Angeles
to serve on the nation’s highest court. sig
In a 2004 speech at the U.S. Holocaust Music to Their Ears be
Memorial Museum, she connected her The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Em
heritage with her passion for justice: “I Foundation would like to thank the on
had the good fortune to be a Jew born and Journal for its wonderful conversation Letters should be no more than we
raised in the U.S.A. ... My heritage as a Jew with Ben Bram (“Ben Bram on Creating 200 words and must include a valid pa
and my occupation as a judge fit together A Cappella During a Pandemic,” Sept. name and city. The Journal reserves th
symmetrically. The demand for justice 18). We have happily helped support his A the right to edit all letters.
runs through the entirety of Jewish history Capella Academy, offering “camperships” letters@jewishjournal.com. an
and Jewish tradition. I take pride in and to talented young singers. Ella Fitzgerald SFSU: Aiding and Abetting I c
draw strength from my heritage.” would be so proud. Terrorism ha
Ginsburg was a feminist, a Zionist, Fran Morris Rosman San Francisco State University, by to
a proud Jew, a lawyer, a judge and a Executive director, inviting Leila Khaled, a known terrorist Ira
devoted wife and mother. She will The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable and member of the Popular Front for the I have much more power than anyone,
be remembered as someone who Foundation Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), to participate And I control the land — Mi
fought injustice and left the world a Pacific Palisades in a forum on Sept. 23, could be in violation In any accomplishment man has made, br
better place for her having been here. of 18 U.S. Code 2339A, “Providing material I have had a hand. Za
May we all find inspiration in the example Ethnic Studies Are Unfair support to terrorists.” wi
she set, the values she embodied and the The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum SFSU, if it does include Khaled in this So take a load off your shoulders, be
legacy she leaves us. (ESMC) presents a limited view of forum, is raising Khaled’s profile, thereby And depend on me a bit, las
Stephen A. Silver California history, as being exclusively assisting her efforts to raise funds for the The last thing you should do now,
San Francisco dedicated to minorities’ suffering and PFLP, a possible violation of 18 U.S. Code Is throw up your hands and quit. on
disenfranchisement, mostly in the past, 2339A.
Israel, the UAE and Bahrain with the implication that nothing has Richard Sherman You must believe I’m watching,
During the signing ceremony of changed in the present. The ESMC’s Margate, Fla. And I guide you, when I can.
agreements normalizing relations between
Israel, the UAE and Bahrain on Sept. 15,
authors have stated: “Ethnic studies
teaching is grounded in the belief that A Letter From God
You certainly also must realize,
That I’m your biggest fan! A
I had a sickening feeling in the pit of my
stomach because previous accords always
education can be a tool for transformation,
social change, and liberation.” That sounds
Forgive me please for allowing you,
To sink to this emotional low. So tonight when you are sitting,
th
have been bittersweet, with Israel trading
land for an obscure peace arrangement.
very similar to Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels’ “Communist Manifesto.”
Believe me, I’m not testing you,
To see how low you’ll go !
Feeling lonely as can be.
At least have the satisfaction of knowing,
p
I felt that way until I realized Israel
wasn’t giving away anything but instead,
Our educators deserve a much more
appropriate model in a state comprising I know that you believe in me.
You’re sitting there with me.
Alan Ascher
m
hopefully gaining new friends. dozens of ethnic groups that have Maybe more than most folks, too. via email B
b
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin participated in creating the sixth largest But Faith must be 100%,
You see what less will do. We Have A Dream
U
My father, Nachman, a Jew From Wlodawa
I’ll decide if the mistakes you make His friend, Berman, who died on the way

a
need punishment or not, Uncle Victor, bad boy from Vienna
And from what I’ve seen the past few My mother — all the others
days, Who came before and after
You’ve punished yourself a lot. Had a dream for two thousand years wa
to return home to Zion tar
You sometimes feel alone in life, ter
And wonder why you’re here — They didn’t hate or want to destroy ca
But I really don’t understand that, But to share, to build up Am
What is it that you fear? To leave behind pogrom winters sp
Walk free among the orange blossoms ye
There are a lot of people on Earth, you Like anybody else
know, sa
And in order to be fair, So, in America, in the Diaspora, for
I try to answer all requests, we don’t need to feel ashamed hi
That are asked of me in Prayer. Or on “the wrong side” pr
When we speak out for Israel th
Only I can help you, Proudly, despite Her imperfections no
To really have peace of mind. Can’t we, too, have a dream? fre
Belief in yourself — or anyone else, Mina Stern we
Will pull you further behind. Venice
to

8 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September25-October 1, 2020 Se


COLUMNIST

Why I’m Jealous of


the Abraham Accords
» by Tabby Refael
WATCHING THE LIVE VIDEO OF THE and buy flowers at the famous Tehran
signing of the historic Abraham Accords bazaar. I want to return, only this time as
between Israel and the United Arab an annoying tourist who won’t be fooled

I AM THE
Emirates and Bahrain at the White House by local merchants. I want to haggle with
on Sept. 15 was like attending an ex’s them in perfect Persian until their hair falls
wedding. There they were, the happy out. That’s how I’ll know I’m truly back.
parties, joined in peace and unity. And But more than anything, I want to visit
there I sat, seething with jealousy. the graves of my paternal grandparents,
As a Zionist, I love this new era of peace whom I lovingly called Babachi and
and what it means for Israel. But inside, Nanechi, but never saw again after my
I coveted it with a passion that would immediate family escaped Iran. If an
have left Abraham mortified. Is it normal Israeli now can sunbathe in Bahrain, is it
to be jealous of the UAE? Yes, if you’re an too much to ask that I be able to place a
Iranian Jew. stone on my Nanechi’s grave in Tehran?
I watched “the groom,” Israeli Prime During the ceremony, when bin Zayed Life, I am the new year.
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and “the passed on “the regards of the UAE people” I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
bride,” UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin to millions of Israelis, I broke down. Peace I am your next chance at the art of living.
Zayed al-Nahyan, stand together and I is so hard-earned and yet so attainable. I am your opportunity to practice
wished I was the bride. There should have Many Iranians don’t hate Israel. They hate what you have learned about life
been a Persian bride at the White House the Iranian regime. I believe the Iranian during the last twelve months.
last week. It should have been Iran. people do send their regards to the people
For 41 years, my community — which of Israel. All that you sought
once boasted 100,000 Jews in Iran — has Trump said that “other countries will and didn't find is hidden in me,
follow” and pursue peace with the Jewish waiting for you to search it out
state. At that point, he was just teasing me. with more determination.
Yes, other countries probably will follow
All the good that you planned
As a Zionist, I love (according to some analysts, Morocco
might be next), but not Iran. It’s too busy.
and didn't achieve

this new era of


is mine to grant
All that uranium won’t enrich itself.
If Morocco and Israel normalize
when you have fewer conflicting desires.

peace and what it relations, I expect to attend a peace


agreement party hosted by local Moroccan
All that you dreamed but didn't dare to do,
all that you hoped but did not will,
means for Israel. Jews, who’ll cheer and toast with cups of
arak while I sit on an ottoman and seethe.
all the faith that you claimed but did not have—
these slumber lightly,
But...is it normal to Sure, I’ll clap, but it will be hard to watch. waiting to be awakened

be jealous of the
Does that make me self-centered and by the touch of strong purpose.
petty? Yes. But I really loved my Nanechi.
I am your opportunity
UAE? Yes, if you’re
Israel and some Arab states are aligning
to thwart Iranian power in the region, and to renew your allegiance to Him who said,
'Behold, I make all things new.'
an Iranian Jew.
last week’s ceremony sent a clear message
to Tehran. Will there be peace between
I am the new year.
Israel and Iran in my lifetime? I don’t know.
watched helplessly as the regime has The bigger question is whether there will
targeted Israel through a campaign of be a free, democratic Iran in my lifetime. Warmest wishes for a year filled with light and love;
terror, demonization and proxy wars. You It’s something I pray I’ll live to see. Maybe with health and happiness; with peace and prosperity.
can’t imagine what it’s like as an Iranian one day, the president of a free Iran will The RVW Team
American Jew watching Iranian leaders stand alongside the Israeli prime minister
sponsor Holocaust cartoon contests every at the White House. Can you imagine that? Selwyn Gerber, Jonathan Gerber, Stephen Seo, Jesse Picunko  
year. Nothing will keep me away from that Loren Gesas, Mary Ann Moe, Mike Chen, Simon Liu, Lisa Blackledge  
In his remarks, President Donald Trump ceremony. Shelly Moore, Kristen Gunn, Abigail Huffstatler, Kelly Richardson
said the Abraham Accords “open the door During his remarks on Sept. 15,
for Muslims around the world to visit the Netanyahu imagined a future where Jews We are grateful for another year of strong growth
historic sites in Israel and to peacefully and Arabs “live together, pray together and in the number of client families we serve and the
pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the dream together.” Until a president of a free assets entrusted to our stewardship.
third holiest site in Islam.” And Israelis Iran offers such messages of peace and
now can visit Bahrain and the UAE in total friendship at the White House, it’s still just
freedom. Such sweet words, and yet, they that — a dream. But I won’t stop hoping. n
were like salt on a wound. RESILIENT INVESTING FOR TURBULENT TIMES
I want that. I want to be able to go back Tabby Refael is a Los Angeles-based writer, 310.945.4000 • RVWWealth.com
to Iran. I want to swim in the Caspian Sea speaker and activist.

September 25-October 1 , 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 9


COLUMNIST

Mask Madness
» by Daniel Stone
AS AN INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST, benefit has increasingly shifted over the
I spend my days treating patients with decades. Sixty years ago, President John F.
all sorts of illnesses, including COVID-19. Kennedy told the nation: “Ask not what your
That may be one reason why I was so country can do for you — ask what you can
annoyed a few weeks ago when I walked do for your country.” Two decades later, the
by a crowded Pilates studio on the Westside fading of that communal ethic could be seen
and noticed 20 people exercising barely 6 in presidential candidate Ronald Reagan
feet apart and without masks. Thinking of asking Americans, “Are you better off now
my elderly COVID-19 patients, I rapped on than you were four years ago?”
the large window and bellowed, “I hope you This emphasis on individualism rather
don’t have grandmothers at home! If you than the greater good also can be seen in
do, you could bring back a virus and kill the arguments of anti-maskers. Many deny
them!” The instructor flashed a look to her the government’s authority to restrict their
assistant, who headed outside to meet me. personal freedom by compelling public
I looked across my mask at the assistant mask use. These advocates of extreme
as he approached me and mumbled, libertarianism don’t understand that self-
disapprovingly, “Free speech, you know.” determination was never a blank check. The
Why do many Americans still shun the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell
safety measures that produced coronavirus Holmes Jr. noted memorably that the right
success stories in Korea, Taiwan and to free speech “would not protect a man
elsewhere? The unfortunate answer falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing
A Time to Remember probably relates to two American cultural
trends: contempt for science and extreme
a panic.” Libertarians may wish otherwise
but, like freedom of speech, the “right” to

Kever Avot V’Imahot Service libertarianism.


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s lead-
avoid a mask is constrained legally and
morally by the imperative for public safety.

Sunday, September 27, 2020 ing infectious-disease expert, recently com-


mented that “science is truth.” Unfortunate-
The experiences with COVID-19 in Tai-
wan, Korea and elsewhere demonstrate that
ly, Fauci’s view of science meets resistance effective leadership and cultural values can
Service Led By Rabbi Calvin Dox-DaCosta, when it brings unwanted personal or po- overcome resistance and ensure compliance
with mask wearing and the other practices
Temple Israel of Hollywood
that can stem this pandemic. Unfortunately,
Joined by Rabbi-Cantor Alison Wissot, Temple Judea the federal government continues to miss
Cantorial Soloist Shelly Fox, Temple Israel of Hollywood
Cantor Patti Linsky, Leo Baeck Temple and Unfortunately, the opportunities to alter public behavior and
save lives. From the beginning of the pan-

Congregation Kol Ami federal government demic, the Trump administration acted as
though an appeal for changes in personal
Musical Accompaniment by Michael Alfera and Simone Vitucci
Shofar - Michael Gropper, Hebrew Union College
continues to miss behavior would underscore the seriousness
of the situation and sabotage the message

opportunities that we now are “great again.”


In the short six months of this pandemic,
For many centuries, the Jewish people have upheld the tradition
of visiting the gravesites of loved ones during the High Holidays. to alter public less than 10% of the population has been

behavior and save


infected, yet we have lost nearly 200,000
Although our world is quite different these days, American lives, more than three times the

lives.
death toll of the Vietnam war. The potential
Hillside Memorial Park is committed to bringing the community for further loss of life remains enormous,
together with a memorable and meaningful service. particularly because so many states
litical implications, as in climate science and continue to see resurgences of COVID-19
We invite you to join us for a very special online service of song, vaccinations. Last year, State Sen. Dr. Richard cases and hospitalizations.
prayer, and remembrance, available to view from the comfort of Pan’s common-sense bill to improve school Hundreds of thousands of lives still
vaccine compliance faced surprisingly strong can be spared if we all finally adopt the
your home beginning at 9:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2020 anti-science opposition. At a recent UCLA simple measures proven to work elsewhere.
symposium, Pan expressed extreme frustra- It’s time to stop the mixed messages on
www.hillsidememorial.org/kever-avot tion with his opponents. They told him that masking and social distancing. All public
they heard his facts, but had their own opin- servants should model appropriate behavior
ions. He realized that rational discourse is by wearing masks in public. They should tell
useless when opinions become independent their constituents that to defeat this enemy,
of the facts. we must practice public health measures
The “dirty secret” of mask wearing is that we know will save lives.
Rafael Ochoa, General Manager, 6001 W. Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045
it protects others better than it protects the For vulnerable Americans like my senior
(888) 820-9950 hillsidememorial.org FD 1358
A Community Service of Temple Israel of Hollywood wearer. When everyone masks, we’re all patients, death is knocking at the door. The
protected. To the extent that others benefit, time to act is now. n
the motivation depends on an investment in
/hillsidememorialpark
others’ well-being. Unfortunately, the social Daniel Stone is a medical doctor practicing
@hillsidemempark @hillsidememorialpark
balance between personal and collective in Southern California.

10 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


COLUMNIST

A Lesson From
Ginsburg, Mandela
and Scalia
» by Dan Schnur
BECAUSE IT’S UNLIKELY THAT THE When the dust settles, almost exactly half
United States will elect a Jewish president the country’s population will be dreadfully
in the foreseeable future, the passing of disappointed, not just at the final outcome
Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18 will mark but with a process they will believe has
the most impactful death of an American swindled them out of what they know they
political figure to this community that many deserved. Almost exactly half of our fellow
of us will experience in our lifetimes. Because Americans will believe that their country has
of an unusual combination of demography, been stolen out from under them, and will
ideology and cultural iconography, Ginsburg immediately began plotting resistance and
had taken on, in the minds of her admirers, revenge. The only questions are whether that
a status well beyond those of most Supreme aggrieved faction will occupy the political
Court justices and most elected officials. The right or left, and whether the equally angry
result has been an outpouring of grief among victors will be progressive or conservative.
most American Jews. Either way, the chasm that separates
That doesn’t mean to suggest that every Americans will grow wider and the acrimony
Jewish American supports the aggressive and anger will worsen.
liberal agenda for which Ginsburg fought At that point, we will have two choices.
throughout her career. A sizable minority of Either our society can continue to turn on
Jewish voters will cast a ballot for Donald itself, with ever-increasing consequences as
Trump this fall, and most of them are rooting a downward cycle of fear, rancor and retali-
heavily for Trump’s nominee to the high ation accelerates. Alternatively, whichever
court to be quickly confirmed. But it should side prevails could decide that absolute sub-
be possible to disagree with Ginsburg’s jugation and humiliation of the defeated is
judicial philosophy while still admiring her unlikely to lead to any productive accom-
plishments and forward progress, let alone
any actual healing.
When Nelson Mandela was sworn in as

The stakes involved


South Africa’s first Black president, many
of his allies were eager to seek retribution

in selecting her
against the leaders of the apartheid state
they replaced. Mandela instead called for

successor are colossal.


conciliation, and argued to his colleagues
that their country could not reunite if
their primary goal was to subjugate those
accomplishments, and shivah should be a they had defeated. “If you want to make
time to share fond memories rather than peace with your enemy, you have to work
revisit old disagreements. with your enemy,” Mandela said. “Then he
The stakes involved in selecting her becomes your partner.”
successor are colossal. In a less polarized Such magnanimity seems unlikely in
and less angry political climate, it would these troubled times. But it will be necessary.
have been considerate to Ginsburg’s loved In the weeks ahead, I will do my best
ones and respectful to her memory if to provide analysis on how this critically
political combatants allowed a decent important nomination might play out. But
amount of time for mourning before for today at least, let us think about our
moving into a high-stakes bloodletting obligation after the battle is done. During
over the court’s future. But in a bitterly their time together on the bench, Ginsburg
divided country, only weeks from a bruising and her conservative compatriot Antonin
election, that is simply not conceivable. Scalia forged a close friendship across deep
And so, the battle has been joined. ideological divisions. Now that both are
The debate will infiltrate almost every gone, perhaps this is one lesson that those
corner and crevice of the nation’s politics, on both sides can take from our respective
governance and culture, and will dominate heroes. n
the remainder of the presidential campaign
and beyond. No matter which man wins Dan Schnur teaches political communica-
the election, and which woman is sworn tions at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. He
in to fill Ginsburg’s seat, this fight will scar hosts the weekly webinar “Politics in the Time
our nation even more deeply than the past of Coronavirus” for the Los Angeles World Af-
several years of partisan warfare. fairs Council & Town Hall (lawac.org).

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 11


COLUMNIST
Jewish Contributions to Humanity
#56 in a series

Their Work Struck Averting a Meltdown


a Chord With During the Big Move
Music Lovers. » by Reyna Marder Gentin
THIS FALL, MY SON BEGAN HIS the luggage onto the truck, then we
freshman year at a college too far from went inside the house, lost in thought,
our home in New York for us to load the wondering what to do with ourselves until
car with all his stuff and drive him, which his departure the following Sunday.
we had done for his older sister each year. On Wednesday night, after dinner, my
Instead, he decided to fly, and because son opened the freezer and, after looking
New York’s COVID-19 regulations would around for a minute, asked, “Where’s my
have required us to quarantine for 14 days ice cream?”
upon our return, we sent him by himself. “I don’t know. Did you buy ice cream?”
His luggage would be picked up at our I asked.
house, placed in a gigantic U-Haul, and “Yes. I bought a pint of Häagen-Dazs
driven 16 hours to the Midwest, where it when I went to the CVS for my shampoo
would sit in a warehouse in the summer and stuff.”
Billy Joel Bob Dylan Debbie Friedman heat for nearly a week until he arrived to A look of confusion passed over his face,
claim it. I lamented that I wouldn’t be able then understanding, then horror. He had
BILLY JOEL (1949-). b. New York, New York. The piano man. to make up his bed in his dorm room. He packed the ice cream in his clothes trunk.
One of the most successful singer-songwriters in American music history, Billy Joel is said I shouldn’t worry; he’s not planning to My son, an honors physics student in high
the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the U.S. He has make his bed — ever. Cringe. school, calculated the volume of frozen
written each of his 33 Top 40 hits, has won six Grammy Awards, sold 150 million records, His impending independence notwith- versus melted ice cream and contemplated
and is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born in New York standing, my son was grateful when I of- how the container would expand in the
to a German-Jewish father and British-Jewish mother, a young Joel took piano lessons at fered to pack the duffle bag with linens, heat. I retreated to my bedroom to run a
his mother’s insistence. He was so talented that he was playing piano bars in high school, blankets, towels and various other sun- Google search: Does melted ice cream in a
and didn’t technically graduate until 1992, having fallen short by a few credits in his senior dries for his room. I explained the usage closed space explode? All week, I imagined
year in 1967 when he overslept a final exam due to his having a late-night piano gig. Over the of the new white mattress pad and pillow every permutation of what that ice cream
next five years, Joel hopped between multiple bands in New York, failing to gain commercial protectors, and he looked at me blankly. He was doing in my son’s luggage.
traction with any of his songs. Moving to Los Angeles, in 1973 Columbia Records offered
him a recording contract after his song “Captain Jack” was picked up on radio. The next
year, his song “Piano Man”, and the album by the same name, launched him into stardom.

BOB DYLAN (1941-). b. Duluth, Minnesota. Nobel Prize in Literature, 2016.


He changed the times. I smiled when I noticed he’d packed a
An American cultural icon for five decades, musician and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has
sold more than 100 million records, and has won a Grammy, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize in suit for yom tov and teared up when I
saw he’d left at least a few of his beloved
Literature. Dylan was raised in a religiously active and Zionist family, and his love for music
was nurtured by listening to blues, country and rock and roll on the radio. His music career

Mets shirts behind.


began in earnest when he dropped out of the University of Minnesota as a freshman to move to
Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. There, in 1961, he played harmonica with Harry Belefonte in his
first professional recording session. After a positive review of one of his public performances in
The New York Times, Columbia Records signed Dylan, whose work became hugely influential politely declined the washcloths, wonder- By Thursday, my son announced he
thanks in large part to the ‘60s counterculture. Songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times ing aloud what they’re for. I added a surge was “over it.” It will be what it will be.
They Are a-Changin’” were anthems for the anti-Vietnam War movement. Since then, though, protector and a small fan, and congratu- He left on the plane Sunday morning,
Dylan has greatly expanded his repertoire, incorporating folk, blues, country and jazz into his lated myself on providing some items that and I sat on my hands so I wouldn’t flood
work, and playing the guitar and keyboard in addition to his signature harmonica. will be useful but wouldn’t have occurred him with texts upon his arrival. In the
DEBBIE FRIEDMAN (1951-2011). b. Utica, New York. d. Mission Viejo, to him. I tossed in a collapsible lawn chair mid-afternoon, he finally posted a video
California. in the hopes he’ll socially distance out- in our family group chat. I watched as he
Coined as “the Joan Baez” of Jewish song, Debbie Friedman was one of the Jewish musical doors while the weather holds. approached the bag, nose-first, announcing
world’s most prolific artists and performers of the past generation. The singer-songwriter’s work I left him to pack his clothes — he was that from the outside, there was no
fused ancient Jewish texts with modern melodies, often with a folksy twang. Her classic rendition way too grown up for me to choose his smell. He methodically opened the trunk,
of Mi Shebeirach is used by hundreds of synagogues across America and throughout the pants or count his underwear. I smiled removing layers and pausing to sniff, until
English-speaking world. Friedman recorded more than 20 albums and sold about half-a-million when I noticed he’d packed a suit for yom he uncovered the paper CVS bag. He reached
copies. Born in New York, but raised in Minnesota, Friedman taught herself guitar by listening to tov and teared up when I saw he’d left in and pulled out the pint of ice cream. It
Peter, Paul and Mary. She wrote many of her early songs as a song leader at a Jewish summer at least a few of his beloved Mets shirts was entirely intact, dry and odorless. He
camp. Her inspiration to set classical texts to original melodies came to her sitting in synagogue behind. On Sunday night, he managed to raised a fist in triumph and declared with a
one night and feeling bored listening to the choir. Her first album, “Sing Unto God,” was released stuff all of his clothes and shoes into his confident smile, “We’re all good.”
in 1972. That album’s collection of Shabbat songs put Friedman on the map and, over the next old, soft-sided camp trunk. I don’t know And we are. We’re all good. n
four decades, she toured extensively, encouraging audiences to sing-along during her concerts, whether he had to sit on the top to close
and stirring countless people with her themes of healing and renewal. the zipper; I was afraid to ask. Reyna Marder Gentin is a graduate of
On Monday morning, two friendly Yale Law School. Her debut novel is titled
Original Research by Walter L. Field Sponsored by Irwin S. Field Written by Jared Sichel and efficient young men arrived to pick “Unreasonable Doubts,” a romantic legal
up the bags. We watched as they loaded thriller (with a Jewish bent).

12 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


COLUMNIST
Rebbe’s Teachings

Ha’azinu:
RBG on “Being Jewish” The Poem of
» by Judea Pearl
IN 2003, WHEN MY WIFE, RUTH, AND For example, I say who I am in certain visible
Testimony
I were editing the book “I Am Jewish: signs. The command from Deuteronomy

T
Personal Reflections Inspired by the appears in artworks, in Hebrew letters, on
Last Words of Daniel Pearl” (Jewish Light three walls and a table in my chambers.
he tenth section of the Book of Deuteronomy, Parashat Ha’azinu, is com-
we Publishing, 2004), we asked more than “Zedek, Zedek tirdof,” “Justice, justice shalt posed of the Poem of Testimony that God instructed Moses to teach the
ht, 300 prominent Jewish personalities to thou pursue,” these art works proclaim; Jewish people. In it, God directs them to hearken (Ha’azinu, in Hebrew)
til contribute an essay, a note or a paragraph they are ever present reminders to me of to His words and to learn from history, recalling humanity’s past mistakes and
on what the words “I am Jewish” what judges must do “that God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. He warns of the consequences of
my meant to them. they may thrive.” There is violating the covenant, and reminds them that the purpose of the vicissitudes of
ng Some responded with outright also a large silver mezuzah history is to bring them to their ultimate goal, the final Redemption.
my rejection, saying that in a world mounted on my doorpost. All this, of course, rings familiar, since three parashiot ago, in parashat
heading toward globalization, It is a gift from the super Tavo, the consequences of violating our covenant with God were spelled out
?” there is no point dwelling bright teenage students at
quite graphically. What does Ha’azinu add that was not covered in the admo-
on ethnic distinctions. Some the Shulamith School for Girls
nitions in parashat Tavo?
zs apologized for not being able to in Brooklyn, N.Y., the school
oo treat such complex question in one of my dearest law clerks
The answer may lie in the fact that the Ha’azinu admonitions are cast as a “poem,”
less than two or three volumes. attended in her growing-up a literary form whose use the Torah usually reserves for joyous praises to God. Later
e, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did years. use of the Ha’azinu poem, in the Temple ritual, bears out this conception:
ad not hesitate for a moment and A question stated in various Every Sabbath, while the musaf sacrifice was offered up, the Levites would
k. sent us a 300-word piece we knew right ways is indicative of what I would like to sing a segment of the Ha’azinu poem, completing the entire poem over the
h away will strengthen the spines of Jewish convey. What is the difference between a New course of six weeks. Inasmuch as it is expressly forbidden to be sad on the
n youngsters for generations to come. York City Garment District bookkeeper and Sabbath, the fact that the Ha’azinu poem — which concerns punishment and
ed We assured her that she would be a Supreme Court Justice? One generation. retribution —was recited while the Sabbath sacrifice, which expresses the joy-
he remembered by that piece, especially by My life bears witness, the difference ous essence of the day, was offered up seems perplexing, to say the least.
a the millions who will forever associate between opportunities open to my mother,
True, the opening and closing passages of this poem are mostly “positive,”
a Jewishness with the biblical command a bookkeeper, and those open to me.
describing God’s benevolent providence and His promise for a bright future.
ed “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” (Justice, justice, you I am a judge, born, raised and proud of
m shall pursue ...) (Deuteronomy 16:20). being a Jew. The demand for justice runs
But the intervening passages are largely “negative,” so why were they recited
Now that Ginsburg no longer is with us, through the entirety of the Jewish history by themselves on their designated Sabbaths, detached from the redeeming
and Jewish tradition. I hope, in all the years I optimism of the poem’s opening and closing passages?
have the good fortune to serve on the bench It appears that the point of reading the poem over a span of six weeks,
of the Supreme Court of the United States, I thereby dividing it into six sections, is precisely to emphasize this point —
“What is the difference will have the strength and courage to remain
steadfast in the service of that demand.
that even the retributive content of the poem is meant to be understood as
part of the whole, a paean of praise to God.
between a New York This becomes even clearer when we note that the finale of the poem is
A
City Garment District somewhat
s I reread this essay in 2020, there
is one sentence that strikes me as
ironic: “[We] are fortunate to ...
God’s promise of messianic redemption. From this perspective, all our turbu-
lent history can be seen as leading toward our ultimate radiant destiny. Thus,
the fact that this review of past failings ends on this positive, hopeful note
bookkeeper and a live at a time when Jews residing here face
few closed doors and do not fear letting
transforms the entire poem from a dirge into an exultant, joyful hymn.
The same applies to our own personal histories: we learn from Ha’azinu that
Supreme Court Justice? theHaving
world know who they are.”
been involved in a few campus all phases of our life, even those marked by embarrassing failures or suffering,

One generation.”
he incidents lately, I can’t help but imagine are necessary stages in personal growth, all leading to our eventual maturation as
RGB’s disappointment upon finding out her human beings fully devoted to our Divine mission and equipped to fulfill it.
g, grandchildren are becoming increasingly But more than that, the fact that Ha’azinu is a poem of praise teaches us
od — Ruth Bader Ginsburg hesitant to let the world know who they that the highest form of returning to God (teshuvah, the overall theme of the
he are. Had they applied to UCLA or USC, Book of Deuteronomy) is the return motivated by joy and performed in joy,
eo it is time for us to fulfil our promise and for example, they might well be deemed focused optimistically on the happy ending awaiting us at the conclusion of
he make her essay available to the general unfit to serve in student government by
the drama we are all living.
ng public. virtue of being Jewish, highly suspect of
Thus, this last, concluding section of Moses’ review of the covenant is his
no The following is the essay Ginsburg Zionist affiliation, beliefs or aspirations.
k, wrote for “I Am Jewish,” a book inspired by And Zionism, so university administrators
reminder to us to keep its significance at the forefront of our consciousness.
til the murder of my son by terrorists in 2002 tell us, is not a word their lawyers would In this way, our entire lives—past, present, and future—take on true meaning,
ed in Pakistan: permit them to spell, let alone respect or true vitality, and true direction. Our triumphs and our sufferings, our personal
It protect in public. and national identities, all combine to form our song of destiny, all flowing
He Former Supreme Court Justice Arthur May history remember Ginsburg for the toward the ultimate goal of making the world into God’s home. u
a Goldberg once said, “My concern for ideas she affirmed, the values she pursued
justice, for peace, for enlightenment stems and, not the least, her understanding of
From the writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.
from my heritage.” Justice Stephen Breyer the power of heritage in shaping values The Rebbe’s inspirational teachings on the Torah portion can be found in the Kehot
and I are fortunate to be linked to and ideas. n Chumash, produced by Chabad House Publications.
of that heritage, and to live in the U.S.A.
Sp ons o re d by Cha ba d o f Ca lif o rnia , in lov ing m e m o ry o f Ra bbi Tze m a c h
ed at a time when Jews residing here Judea Pearl is a professor emeritus at Yeh osh u a Cunin, E m is s a ry o f the Re bbe a nd Dire c to r o f Cha ba d o f Ce ntury City.
al face few closed doors and do not fear UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foun-
letting the world know who they are. dation (danielpearl.org).

20 September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 13


A makeshift memorial MY TURN
for Supreme Court Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg in
front of the U.S. Supreme fought and least-appreciated revolution in deciding he does not need it any more since
Court on Sept. 19 in modern American history: the emancipa- he is dry. But her dissents extended beyond
Washington, DC. tion of women. Aside from Thurgood Mar- the bench. In 2016, for example, Ginsburg
Photo by Samuel Corum shall, no single American has so wholly got into trouble for calling President Don-
advanced the cause of equality under the ald Trump a “faker” and had to apologize.
law.” Her last public statement, dictated to her
How did she get from there to here? De- granddaughter Clara Spera, was, “My most
spite her qualifications, Ginsburg couldn’t fervent wish is that I will not be replaced
obtain employment as a lawyer because of until a new president is installed.”
her religion and gender. Instead, she began Like Shimon ben Shetah, however,
work at Columbia University on a com- Ginsburg also miscalculated and erred.
parative project, which required that she Many who urged her to retire in 2012,

RBG and
learn Swedish and spend time in Sweden. when President Barack Obama could have
Ultimately, Ginsburg wrote a treatise on nominated a new justice who would have
Swedish civil law, which remains a leading been approved by the Democratic major-

the Lone Dissent


work. More importantly, she witnessed a ity in the Senate. However, this calculation
society that was more equitable than the comes with great hindsight. Although RBG
United States. Feminism was flourishing seemed to have mastered popular cul-
in Sweden, child care was readily avail- ture, she missed the shift in culture that
» by Aryeh Cohen able, and it was not unusual for women to was represented by the Black Lives Matter
combine their parenting and professional movement. She spoke disparagingly of Co-
roles. As they say, “You can’t be what you lin Kaepernick’s protest, and she was part
can’t see.” of the majority (with Sonia Sotomayor the
IN THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD, THERE always retained loyalty to her heritage. After this period, Ginsburg embarked lone dissent) in Kansas v. Glover, a case
is a tale about King Yannai and Shimon As she said in a speech to the American on her feminist legal career, teaching law that legitimated traffic stops for no dis-
ben Shetah, a prominent sage and head of Jewish Committee in 1996: “I am a judge, at Rutgers and then at Columbia. Outside cernible reason.
the Sanhedrin (the high court), who both born, raised and proud of being a Jew. … of the classroom, Ginsburg handled dis- We are at another moment when it
lived — at least in the rabbinic imaginary The demand for justice, for peace and for crimination cases for the American Civil seems that “you can’t be what you can’t
— around the first century before the Com- enlightenment runs through the entirety Liberties Union. One of the more notable see.” Activists in the streets, especially
mon Era (Sanhedrin 19a). In the story, one of Jewish history and Jewish tradition.” cases she worked on — although she didn’t Black activists, are showing us that there
of King Yannai’s servants killed a person, Her mother, Celia Bader, supported her argue the case in front of the court — was is a new vision — a vision of a different
so Shimon summoned him for judgment. daughter’s intellectual ambitions, and she Reed v. Reed. The case challenged an Idaho kind of safety that is not dependent on
But Shimon also summoned Yannai as the set aside money so her daughter could at- statute that gave preference to men in ex- armed police and an out-of-control car-
ultimately responsible party and ordered tend college. Ginsburg married young and ecuting estates. In writing the majority de- ceral system. That vision is not yet in the
him to stand and give testimony. followed her husband, Martin Ginsburg, to cision, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger used court, and if the Senate is able to confirm
The king was insulted that he was his military post and then to Harvard Law Ginsburg’s now famous phrase, proclaim- Trump’s choice for a new justice, that vi-
forced to stand in front of 71 seated jus- School. Martin Ginsburg became an officer ing, “The choice in this context may not sion may be denied. Without the vision
tices. So Yannai refused, saying that he to fulfill his ROTC requirements, and she, lawfully be mandated solely on the basis and the courage of Shimon ben Shetah to
would testify only if all of Shimon’s col- being pregnant, was allowed only to be a of sex.” Ginsburg also co-authored a first- back it up, the court will be a subsidiary of
leagues on the court ordered him to do secretary because any other job would re- of-its-kind textbook on sex discrimination the executive branch — a rubber stamp to
so. Yannai had hoped that not every judge quire that she travel for training. An often- and law. By the time she was nominated the president’s will.
had Shimon’s spine — and he was right. Ginsburg’s legacy is that brilliance, te-
When Yannai looked at each judge, they nacity and vision matter. And as Ginsburg
all buried their heads. Realizing that the showed in her Ledbetter dissent, it is cru-
rest of the court had not backed his de-
cision, Shimon cursed them, and the an- As Jill Lepore recently wrote, “Ginsburg cial for justices to understand the lived re-
ality of impacted peoples (Ginsburg, for in-
gel Gabriel smote them. For this reason,
the Talmud mandates that a king neither bore witness to, argued for, and helped to stance, had suffered pay discrimination).
This humanity is also part of her legacy.
judges nor is he judged.
This story is obviously not the reason
constitutionalize the most hard-fought and The law cannot be so distant from the peo-
ple that it loses touch.
for this law. The law instead grew out of least-appreciated revolution in modern As we enter this new year, it seems

American history: the emancipation of


the tension between a justice system that we may have a Yannai that threatens
and a monarch. In the story, though, the the justices and has no regard for justice.

women.”
Mishnah’s authors captured the limits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy must live on
jurisprudence, the fragility of judicial in- in the form of courage, a courage that all
stitutions and the danger of relying on the justices must muster to protect our de-
courage of one justice. The fact the sages told anecdote recounts that at the end of and confirmed as a Supreme Court justice mocracy against our president. We must
inscribed this story as the law’s origin sto- her first year at Harvard, Ruth Bader Gins- in 1993, she was able to rule from prece- show that courage, too. We must take to
ry demonstrates the weakness of law in burg and the eight other women in her dents in cases that she had argued in front the streets to demonstrate that we will
the face of raw power. The sages all were class were summoned to the dean’s resi- of the court. not abide a cowed and cowering Supreme
killed. Shimon ben Shetah miscalculated, dence for dinner. At that dinner, the dean However, the political winds shifted, Court, that we will have the backs of jus-
and he lost. The law lost. asked the women to justify why they were and Ginsburg attained her “Notorious tices like Sotomayor, who can voice dis-
On the first night of Rosh Hashanah taking a man’s place at the school. Gins- RBG” moniker from her scathing dissents. sent. This will be the way we honor Ruth
this year, Shimon ben Shetah died. burg replied that she was studying the She called out the conservative wing of Bader Ginsburg’s memory. n
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March law to understand her husband’s profes- the court for gutting the Voting Rights Act
15, 1933, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to an immigrant fa- sion better. To many, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Shelby County v. Holder); for not recogniz- Aryeh Cohen is professor of rabbinic litera-
ther and a first-generation American mother. seemed destined to fulfill the role that ing the realities of employment in the Lilly ture at American Jewish University, the rabbi-
As the second female on the Supreme Court, many white Jewish women filled in mid- Ledbetter pay-discrimination case, which in-residence at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action,
she became a legend and an icon of the femi- century America — housewife with a pro- led to new congressional legislation; and Kogod Research Fellow of the Shalom Hartman
nist movement. However, this was not the fession secondary to her husband’s. on and on. She was fearless in calling out Institute and immediate past co-chair of the
obvious trajectory of her life. Yet, as Jill Lepore recently wrote, “Gins- power in her dissents. In the Shelby case, Board of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Jus-
Ginsburg grew up in an immigrant Jew- burg bore witness to, argued for, and Ginsburg likened the majority opinion to a tice. His latest book is “Justice in the City: An Ar-
ish neighborhood in Flatbush, and she helped to constitutionalize the most hard- person holding an umbrella in a storm and gument From the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism.”

14 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


MY TURN

She personally
broke the rules
for women in the
workplace, then
rewrote them for a
nation. We should
be obligated to
follow them — and
her.

Living Life According to Justice Ginsburg


» by Randi Braun

“A JEW, A WOMAN AND A MOTHER, Let’s tell her stories and celebrate her life intersection of grief, memory, celebration On hope: “So that’s the dissenter’s
that was a bit much. Three strikes put me with reverence. and legacy? hope: that they are writing not for today,
out of the game,” Justice Ruth Bader Gins- Through reverent tears, many of the Look no further than RBG herself. Hon- but for tomorrow.”
burg once recalled. Jewish women I’ve spoken with in recent oring her legacy daily and in perpetuity On persistence: “Real change, enduring
Ginsburg’s life meant a lot of things to days are overwhelmed because they just feels like a tall order, but it was she who change, happens one step at a time.”
a lot of people. To Jewish working women can’t imagine the Supreme Court, the taught us the power of seemingly “small” On women in leadership: “Women be-
and mothers, she was our patron saint. country or the world itself without her. actions. Famous for chipping away at the long in all places where decisions are be-
Before we the term “glass ceilings” was That’s why we should be obligated to take wall of gender bias instead of toppling it, ing made. It shouldn’t be that women are
coined, she shattered them. Before we RBG’s legacy with us into our daily lives — the petite associate justice taught us the the exception.”
conceptualized intersectionality or a di- which is in and of itself a very Jewish idea. power of winning the war by winning On being allies as Jewish Americans:
versity, equity and inclusion movement, “Perhaps I should start by saying, I grew up in
she defined them. the shadow of World War II, and we came to
On the morning of Sept. 19, Rosh Ha- know more and more what was happening

Famous for chipping away at the wall of


shanah morning, I came down the stairs. to the Jews in Europe. The sense of being an
Before I even reached the last step, my outsider — of being one of the people who

gender bias instead of toppling it, the petite


husband called out to me, his voice shak- had suffered oppression for no sensible rea-
ing, “Randi, I have terrible news.” I thought son. It’s the sense of being part of a minority.

associate justice taught us the power of


somebody we loved had died — and in- It makes you more empathetic to other peo-
deed, she had. ple who are not insiders, who are outsiders.”

winning the war by winning small battles.


As we dwell in the 10 Days of Awe be- On goals and expectations: “You can’t
tween Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, have it all, all at once.”
we’re asked to seriously consider our On being our best self: “I would like
mortality and stand in awe of life itself: If to be remembered as someone who used
we’re inscribed into the Book of Life this As we say l’dor v’dor, we don’t just honor small battles. Kabbalah similarly teaches whatever talent she had to do her work to
year, what will we do with this life? RBG’s legacy as the most influential Jewish us that each one of us has the ability to tilt the very best of her ability.”
This year, as we dwell in the Days of American woman of the 20th century. We the energy of the universe toward good or As we say zichronah livrachah, we know
Awe, we also are in awe of Ginsburg. Not remind ourselves that it is our responsibil- evil with each of our thoughts, words and her memory will indeed be a blessing. It’s
just of what she accomplished, but what ity to write the next chapter. One of us will deeds. also a call to action. She personally broke
she meant to us. For many of us, that is be the RBG of the 21st century: The most So why not tilt it toward that RBG side the rules for women in the workplace,
overwhelming — and that’s OK; awe is, by influential and beloved Jewish American each day? then rewrote them for a nation. We should
its very definition, overwhelming in all its woman of a century. As we move from As we consider how to honor her lega- be obligated to follow them — and her. n
wonder and reverence. So as we sit a com- generation to generation, many more of us cy, let’s look to her words for inspiration:
munal shivah for RBG (as she was nick- will touch and change the lives of others On being more than what you do: “If Randi Braun is an executive coach, consul-
named) during these Days of Awe, let’s in the process. you want to be a true professional, do tant, speaker and the founder of Something
take time to wonder and marvel at her. So where do we go from here, at this something outside of yourself.” Major. somethingmajorcoaching.com

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 15


YO M K I P P U R

What Does it
Mean to
Have a Deeper
Yom Kippur?
» by Rabbi Mordecai Finley

Rosh Hashanah begins the work. Yom Kippur seals it. But only if you are willing to go deep.

IN MY 40 YEARS OF LEADING HIGH movies, and created great work with pod- even from a distance. Even if we are not Holy Days are what set us on the path to
Holy Days services, many people have giv- casts, YouTube, TikTok and other platforms. sure what to believe, we are drawn there. do the digging.
en me reasons for why they were at Yom We have scheduled time to talk in groups Because so much of the familiarity of Yom Rosh Hashanah begins the work. Yom
Kippur services, even though they are non- and one on one with our friends. There Kippur is not there — the physicality, the Kippur seals it. But only if you are willing
believers. Each year, congregants approach have been Zoom minyans, Zoom weddings, immediacy — it seems we are more ready to go deep.
me and tell me they are excited for Yom Zoom study groups and Zoom counseling. than ever to experience the true meaning
Kippur because it is “the annual meeting of People have told me they are amazed at the of Yom Kippur. We are prepared to seek ‘Deeper’ is different for each person
the Jewish people.” Some congregants say depth of the other people in their online depth. A deeper Yom Kippur depends on how
they enjoy “being in the presence of their groups, whom they never would have met What are those depths? If we take into honest and courageous we can be with
community.” Others tell me they “don’t be- had it not been for social distancing. account the power of the liturgy, the Kol ourselves. For each person, a deeper Yom
lieve in God, sin or a God who punishes,” Kippur will look different. We all have
but they “still belong at services.” depth, and we all have distinct things
We may have been deceiving ourselves in our depths: brilliant coral reefs but
these past 40 years — and possibly much, also stark, lonely sunken ships; prayers
much longer. Yom Kippur isn’t the annual
meeting of the Jewish people. We don’t sit
Even if you don’t believe in God, you can never uttered; lives yet to be lived; words
we can’t take back, tossed into the deep.
around tables and decide policy; we typi-
cally sit quietly with books in our hands
suspend your disbelief for a moment and These depths are unavoidable. If not sal-
vaged, they will haunt us.
and listen. Nor is God the entire reason
for being there; if that were the case, then
know God is on to you. On this day, there is For me, the basis of Yom Kippur is that
the day assumes things are hiding in your
why would nonbelievers bother to show
up? And if we celebrated Yom Kippur just
nowhere to hide. depths. Maybe you know what they are,
and maybe you don’t. One of God’s names
to be around other people, then is the day on Yom Kippur is “Chacham Ha-Razim,”
canceled for those of us quarantining? We also have become much closer to Nidre, the many confessionals, the con- “Wise to the Secrets.” Even if you don’t be-
What, then, is the point of participating in Judaism. I’ve heard only a few people say stant sense of urgency to do teshuvah, we lieve in God, you can suspend your disbe-
Yom Kippur services? they won’t attend an online High Holy see an insistent push to face the parts of lief for a moment and know God is on to
I think the answer lies in the vast num- Days service. Instead, many of us are turn- us that hide and resist change. We see a you. On this day, there is nowhere to hide.
ber of ways people have experienced the ing inward — as we have in our day-to-day push to go deep. Consider Jonah, the book we read on
recent shutdown. We have not only dis- lives — to the High Holy Days. We don’t On this deepest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. Jonah took a ship to run from
tanced, we have also experienced inward- want a screen-sized version of services; at the core of our souls, we seek to con- God, and a storm threatened to sink the
ness: People have learned new skills and we want services that will match our deep front our inner disruptions — the darkest, ship until the sailors threw him overboard.
practiced old ones, read and reread great experiences from these past months. scariest parts of ourselves — and carve Eventually, Jonah ended up in Nineveh,
books, watched amazing TV shows and Most of us know we belong at services, paths to truer, authentic selves. The High whether he liked it or not.

16 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


ety, fear, hatred, anger and resentment;
alcohol and drug abuse; severe domestic
strife—the list goes on. And even if these
issues are not happening to you, they are Even without an idea of God, imagine
happening to someone close to you, and
there is the most authentic version of you
You must intend
we seek the wisdom to help. We have a day
for that.
The issues you are passionate about just beyond the horizon. It is a version
the words of the
will continue to go on, even if you think
about something else for the 24 hours of living your deepest values — not just
Yom Kippur. There are things at stake
within us that will determine our well- having them, but being them.
confessional so being until we change. Ignore what is hap-
pening in you at your peril.
Perhaps start by focusing on your fam- relationships with others and ourselves How to dig

strongly that they


ily or friends. Maybe you don’t quite know toxic. Our paths to transformation begin How do we dig and find our true selves
what they’re thinking or feeling. Maybe by clearly identifying our disruptions and on Yom Kippur? One way is the confes-
you close your eyes or shut your ears be- marshaling up a tenacious and unremit- sional. Every speaker at a 12-step meeting
cause if you really knew what they are ting will to change our lives. begins with a confession: “I am an alcohol-
break your heart, going through or how they perceive you,
you’d have to change your life. Or maybe
Let’s take God out of the equation for
a moment. Even without an idea of God,
ic”; “I am a drug user”; “I am a gambler.” It
takes some courage to do that. Now imag-
you’d be grateful for the opportunity to imagine there is the most authentic ver- ine your own meeting: I am a hater. Liar.

causing you to change. The Jewish tradition has a day for


that.
sion of you just beyond the horizon. It is a
version living your deepest values — not
Poser. Bully. Coward. Confused. Victim. Un-
organized. Mean Spirited. Whatever your
Someone once asked me how they can just having them, but being them. It is a demons are, do you have the honesty and

mourn the wasted indulge going in deep with all the dreadful
things going on out there. I instructed this
you beyond the horizon, without excuses.
Clear — with integrity, humility, wisdom
courage to say it? Out loud to yourself?
Yom Kippur has a confessional for that.
person to imagine they are walking a sca- and depth. Now list what stops you from Several of them.

time, the wasted


brous path through the time and terrain of becoming that person you have yet to be- The confessional, though, is only a ver-
our lives. Under this terrain, though, min- come. We gather on Yom Kippur — physi- bal prompt. The confessional requires you
ers are digging a shaft deep inside of you cally or virtually, but certainly spiritually take these words seriously and intend these
— and they have found a precious stone. — to share our lists, share our sadness, words to pierce your avoidance. You must
energy of excuses. Astonishingly precious. With this stone,
you can see the secret of your soul and see
and share our hopes for the future.
Try to identify what stops you from be-
intend the words of the confessional so
strongly that they break your heart, causing
into the Heart of the Universe. Through ing your authentic self. It probably seems you to mourn the wasted time, the wasted
this precious, crystalline quartz, the Heart like bad habits. But when you attempt to energy of excuses. And out of the depths
of the Universe makes its love known to change those habits, you will find they of this brokenness, a new will and new self
you and knows you have arrived. have dug in deep into “the shadow of your- shall appear. The will to change, and the self
How do you find this mineshaft? You self,” as Jungian tradition would say. who will lead you beyond the horizon.
start by creating a clearing. Our lives are “Go ahead, try to change your habits,” Now, let’s put the idea of God back into
We are not as lucky as Jonah. God will full of debris and clutter. Misspent emo- a voice from the shadow laughs. Your bad our thinking. Consider not only the most
not chase us down. We can avoid our spiri- tions of anger, resentment and fear pile habits will fight back. They don’t want to authentic versions of ourselves that exist
tual work, shut our ears, avoid the voice, up. Debris consisting of lack of empathy, be changed. They’d rather destroy you, or beyond the horizon, but also a Divine who
close our eyes and not see the truth. I have resistance to grieving and moving on, not at least your potential for becoming your is seeking you, calling you — a God who
— and I’m sure you have — met people forgiving or forgiving too quickly. Stub- authentic self. You are not just missing is seeking your heart of truth. Even those
like that. Those who are not wise to the bornness and procrastination. Taking on the target; something inside you is tearing who don’t believe in God can find sacred-
truth of who they are. Other people, how- irrational obligations. Giving in to destruc- apart that target. ness in the depths of the broken heart. It
ever, can see through them. Other people tive guilt. Being an addict or an enabler. A deeper Yom Kippur involves con- does not matter what you call the sacred-
can see through you, too. ness of that experience. The main thing is
On Yom Kippur, imagine God sees you. that you have arrived.
You show up to services, physically or A deeper Yom Kippur is a moment of
virtually, to be seen. We belong to people truth — a day to be truthful with your-
who, at least once year, agree not to hide,
not to run, but rather, to go deep. A deeper Yom Kippur involves confronting self. It is as if this is your only life; as if
you don’t have all the time in the world to

Digging for true depth your resistance to moral and spiritual get it right; as if you have debris of regret
and needless pain littered behind you; as
Yet feeling deeply on Yom Kippur is
not the same thing as depth. We all feel excellence. if you desperately want to create a clearing
ahead of you, to dig down, break through
things deeply. We are deeply angry, afraid the resistance and find your heart of truth.
and confused, and maybe feel some dread These piercing calls into our depths are
about the things going on outside of us. Not holding back your tongue. There is lit- fronting your resistance to moral and not unique to this year’s Yom Kippur. Per-
There truly are great problems to solve, so- ter of being needlessly hurt and defensive spiritual excellence. With a deeper Yom haps, though, on this Yom Kippur, when
cial justice issues to work out and political because others are needlessly insensitive Kippur, you will understand those ob- our lives are shorn of attractions to the
agendas to pursue. and hurtful. But look over yonder —you stacles as not just bad habits, but instead nonessential, we can be especially tilled
I can tell you, though, what every coun- might see someone else making a clearing as an organized alienation from your true for the “light that is sown to the righteous.”
selor knows about these difficult times: on Yom Kippur, too. potential as a human being. In Judaism, Find the Heart of the Universe, who is
People are suffering, and politics play no Many people don’t want to call these we call that alienation the yetzer harah. waiting for your arrival and readies you for
favorites. I counsel people of just about ev- inner disruptions “sins” because, they tell The word “yetzer” is from the Hebrew the next mine to dig. That is a deeper Yom
ery mainstream political view. Their opin- me, “Jews don’t believe in sin; just in miss- word “to make” or “shape.” The yetzer ha- Kippur. n
ions on how to repair the world differ, but ing the mark, missing the target.” But just rah, then, is a pattern with a will of its
their suffering is pretty much the same: because someone doesn’t believe in some- own, defying and resisting our highest Rabbi Mordecai Finley is the spiritual leader
trouble in relationships, especially spous- thing doesn’t make it untrue. If we don’t values. It is an inner entropy, waiting for of Ohr HaTorah and professor of Jewish Thought
es and teenagers; internal senses of anxi- face our disruptions, they can make our us to fall apart. at the Academy of Jewish Religion, California.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 17


M Y TUR N

Judaism Is for
Nonbelievers, Too
» by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

THIS IS THE TIME OF YEAR FOR JEWS and more soaring than any articulation holy days. If we’re honest with ourselves, solitude, it’s what we do with the people in
to feel like hypocrites. We come to syna- of faith. In the Jerusalem Talmud, God whether or not we are talking to God, we our community.
gogue every year, pick up the machzor says to one of the rabbis, “Would that the love talking and singing with one another. One of my rabbis, Keilah Lebell, high-
and recite words that we’re not sure we Jews abandon me but keep my Torah, its The way that religion can build communi- lighted the need for community with a
believe. Do we really think there’s a mon- light would bring them back.” If God has ty is unequaled in the world. One leading teaching in Mishnah Rosh Hashanah. The
arch in the sky? Does God really shift from to choose between our loving Torah or our manifestation of emotional pain is chronic way the sages used to determine the date
one throne to another? Do we really think believing, God prefers that we engage with of the New Year was by asking people to
that the words we recite will avert an evil the Torah. God is not an egotist. Mitzvot travel to Jerusalem so they could attest
decree? and community matter. that they had seen the new moon. After

Regardless of our
There are good reasons that lead many It may seem like a whopper to claim the rabbis had two witnesses, then they
to reject belief. For example, Elisha ben that Judaism is bigger than belief or re- could proclaim the date for Rosh Hasha-

beliefs, we all can


Abuyah, known as Acher, one of the great ligion, that it has always been the very nah. But what happens if 100 witnesses go
heretics in the Talmud — and one of the breath of the Jewish people. Yes, it is a big to Jerusalem to testify? After finding two

grow into better


greatest rabbis of his generation — experi- claim but it’s true. Just look at the Torah it- witnesses, there are still 98 people who
enced trauma when he witnessed a father self. The Bible doesn’t have a word for “re- took the trouble to get there, expending

versions of ourselves
tell his son to climb up a tree and fetch ligion” because the modern understanding money and energy out of a sense of public
an egg from an elevated nest. The boy of religion — a discrete set of beliefs or ob- duty. Do you say to those 98 people, “Too

by dialoguing with
scrambled up the ladder, shooed away the servances — is not a Jewish concept. The late. Go home?” No.
mother bird — then tripped and plunged Torah understands that Judaism encom- The rabbis of the Mishnah teach that

Jewish wisdom and


to his death. Watching that tragedy, Acher passes who we are and what we do: our even after there are enough witnesses, we
exclaimed, “If this is possible, then there is culture, people, land, values and language. still interview each person because every-

walking a path of
no judge and there is no justice.” Judaism is so much more than just a creed. body represents something unique that
Here’s the background you need: The The Talmud doesn’t just stick to “belief,” it only they embody. Similarly, a Torah scroll

Jewish spirit.
only two biblical commandments that addresses every subject under the sun. is not ritually fit if it is missing even a sin-
explicitly promise long life are “honor- We need religion, whether or not we gle letter. All the letters together make a
ing your parents” and “shooing away the are believers, because there is no human Torah, and Judaism also requires all of us
mother bird.” The boy obeyed both com- enterprise more capable than religion for loneliness. And Americans are more alone together.
mandments and yet he died. building community, teaching compas- than ever. Even before social distancing, There is nothing like religion to build
Despite abundant reasons making it sion, inculcating morality and kindness, we ate meals alone, went to movies alone community. Those of you who are syna-
hard to have faith, so many of us return harnessing education for success, balanc- and longed for people to call us. Religion gogue regulars know that if you don’t
to services year after year. We recite these ing optimism and pessimism and foster- shatters that isolation, turns around and show up on a Saturday, someone will call
old prayers that some of us believe. Others ing creativity. Regardless of our beliefs, we opens up people to the importance of each you and say, “We missed you. Where were
don’t believe them at all. Maybe that’s why all can grow into better versions of our- person. you? Are you OK?”
we sing so many prayers in Hebrew — to selves by dialoguing with Jewish wisdom Consider Judaism’s insistence that a
blur the gap between our words and our and walking a path of Jewish spirit. minyan (10 adult Jews) is needed to recite A story big enough to hold us
convictions. our most sacred prayers. It’s not that God Part of what helps build this commu-
Nevertheless, we return and sing. That A cure for loneliness can’t hear until there’s a 10th person in nity is the extraordinary way that Juda-
is because Judaism is bigger than dogma, Our need for Judaism is made obvious the room, it’s that we need one another. ism repeats its fundamental stories again
more fundamental than metaphysics by the way so many of us feel drawn to the Religion for us is not what we do with our and again. This repetition reminds us that

18 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


M Y T U RN
daism, look no further than our broken stantly achieve the impossible. No people our capacity for joy, grief, hope or empa-
Western education system. I attended in the world have wandered in exile for thy. Imagine a Catholic who goes before
one of the world’s most famous universi- thousands of years, returned to their an- Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” the magnificent
ties, taking history and literature courses cient homeland and rebirthed their an- statue of Mary with the corpse of her son
from leading scholars. In history class, we cient language. But we did. A full heart Jesus on her lap. But you don’t have to be
focused on dates or names, resource allo- and a mature life require a blend of opti- Christian for that poignant statue to break
Religion is too big to cation and the nature of government. Yet
we never asked, “What does this have to
mism and pessimism as well as hope and
acceptance, which is precisely the counsel
your heart. Pondering that image invites
us to visit our own heartbreaks. Gazing at
leave to the believers. do with living a better life today?” Similar-
ly, in literature classes, we learned about
of Judaism.
There is a profound story in the Tal-
the figure of Mary, we realize we are not
the only ones who have suffered.
the life of the author, the nature of writing mud of the rabbis wanting to terminate In many ways, religious song evokes our
and their use of language. But we never in- the yetzer harah (the evil impulse) be- emotions just as religious art does. This holy
quired, “How does this novel change us?” cause it was causing illness, death, lust season is rich in chords that help us soar
These questions are not permissible in and violence. So God permitted the rabbis and in minor keys that soften our grieving
the academic study of literature. But these to isolate the yetzer harah. Shortly after- hearts. How can we not tremble with the
very questions are what motivated the au- ward, the rabbis discovered that chickens yearning in Avinu Malkeinu, whose under-
thors to write in the first place. stopped laying eggs, artists stopped cre- lining minor cadence evokes somebody
In Judaism, we read precisely to an- ating, people stopped falling in love and sobbing, somebody whose desire for pur-
swer questions about meaning. We don’t getting married and nobody had children. pose and wholeness has been repeatedly
read the Torah just to learn about the Iron Reluctantly, the rabbis realized the world shattered? But in Avinu Malkeinu, we hear
Age or to understand ancient syntax. We could not exist without the yetzer harah. that they will not give up, so we know that
read the Torah because we intuit its deep So they returned and asked God to liber- we don’t have to either. We return to these
Image by Kateryna Kovarzh/Getty Images

wisdom speaking to us, elevating us and ate and release the evil impulse. God con- tunes each year because they remind us to
projecting our story on an ancient screen. sented, but the rabbis decided to blind it feel, sob and renew.
When we read the Torah, we are expected in one eye, to weaken its power before re-
to seek what we can learn from those sto- leasing it. Be honest, be yourself, be religious
ries today, what this poetry asks of us and We need both the yetzer tov and the Religion is too big to leave to the believ-
how it plays out in our lives. yetzer harah. We need a dose of optimism ers, and I say this as a believer. I love God
Unlike secular education, in which you and pessimism to lead optimal lives, and God has been a big part of my life. But
read a book once and then never read it which is why Judaism teaches us to man- I don’t write to my fellow believers now.
again, religious education selects a hand- age both through its pervasive blend of I write to those of you who are drawn to
ful of transformative books and then memorializing tragedy and celebrating joy. these holy days because you are honoring
affirms that in each rereading we will That’s rabbinic realism. someone for whom it’s important that you
discover new insights and make them ac- are here. I write to those of you who rever-
we are part of something bigger than our- cessible through repetition. Even though A creative muse berate to the sound of the shofar because
selves, that we are not living isolated lives we know how the story ends, we don’t Beyond inspiring a realistic sense of being a Jew matters to you, and whether
and that we are, in fact, the Children of Is- know how our story will end, so we pre- hope and mobilizing us to bring that hope or not you believe, you know that on this
rael. We discover our best selves through pare for our journey with these timeless to fruition, religion also cultivates art and day, your place is with your fellow Jews. I
the paradigmatic stories of our people: and timely texts. If you read a book, watch imagination. The world’s great museums write to those people who may not believe
creation, Sabbath, Egypt, slavery, freedom, a film or view a piece of art once, they are are filled with religious art. The world’s what’s in the prayer book but do stand
wandering to a Promised Land, command- merely entertainment. But if you engage great cities are crowned with spectacular with the history and the tradition that
ments, trying to build a kingdom of righ- with them repeatedly, they become portals
teousness, failing, getting exiled again and to wisdom that remain accessible during
trying to get it right this time. difficult times. They intertwine with our
That story is not just about one of our
own biological lives. It is not just about our
very selves.
Because of Judaism, our story is as big as our
circle of loved ones and children. Because
of Judaism, our story is as big as our peo-
A balance between optimism, pessi-
mism and resilience people, encompassing all of our values and
ple, encompassing all of our values and
aspirations from generation to generation,
Just as we need Jewish education to di-
rect our vision and fortify our pursuit of aspirations from generation to generation,
linking our heritage to our destiny. It is the
allure of a worthy future that inspires us
meaning, we need Judaism to ground us
in a realistic integration of long-term opti- linking our heritage to our destiny.
to organize our present and to live lives of mism and short-term resilience to get past
purpose. And there is no grander future life’s bumps. religious architecture. And much of the generated it. I write to all who want to join
than knowing we are journeying toward a We live in a culture that values opti- world’s great literature is inspired by re- in the great future that is coming. To all of
Land of Promise together. mism, but the kind of optimism it values ligiosity. Why? Because nothing inspires you, I want to say, you are not hypocrites.
Linking ourselves to this encompassing is often superficial. I can’t count the num- human imagination the way that religion You are heroes. Like the rest of us, you
narrative also means that our story must ber of times someone has told me, “No does. need the growth that can emerge from en-
include other people. The Chasidic mas- worries.” Every time, I want to shriek in Of course, a great deal of contemporary gaging with Torah, with mitzvot and with
ter, Rebbe Moshe Leib of Sassov, taught, response, “Have you read the newspaper art is inspiring. But compare the way we Judaism. So be honest, be yourself and be
“If someone seeks your aid, act as though lately? Of course there are worries.” Exces- look at secular art with the way we relate religious. n
there is no God and you be the one to help.” sive optimism is a drug and a distraction. to religious art. For secular art, people go
Rav Kook used to teach that the danger of For the sake of a false sense of comfort, it to a museum and see an exhibit that is Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson holds the Abner
religion is that you can say, “Well, God will forces us to ignore the needs of others and themed by what period it was made in, or and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler
take care of it.” But Judaism teaches us to the wounds of our hearts. Judaism deflects by a particular artist or school. The pieces School of Rabbinic Studies and is vice president
act as if there’s no God and do something this excessive optimism by asking us to re- are collected in a room together, and visi- of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. A
to fix the problem ourselves. When we call and ritualize tragic moments, opening tors stroll through, looking at the artist’s professor of philosophy, he also is dean of the
step up and take responsibility, we grow in our hearts to grief and consolation. Our use of paint and reading snippets of the Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Germany,
compassion and connect with others, re- memories keep us human. artist’s biography. But at no point does where he ordains Conservative rabbis for Europe.
ducing their loneliness and ours. But excessive pessimism is just as toxic someone turn to you and ask, “What do To dig deeper into this approach to religion, spend
and pervasive in our culture. Jewish histo- you know about yourself or about emo- time with “Jewish Religiosity” by Martin Buber,
An education for character ry refutes the sterile nihilism that it can’t tions differently because of this painting?” “Religion for Atheists” by Alain de Botton, and “A
To truly understand our need for Ju- get better. We are the people who con- By contrast, religious art heightens Common Faith” by John Dewey.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 19


Israeli paratroopers march October 25, FIRST PERSON
1973 along the Suez-Cairo road on the
western bank of the Suez Canal during
the Yom Kippur War.
Photo by Ilan Ron/GPO/Getty Images

Betty recalled that “the night before we


left Netiv HaLamed Hei, Shumach and an-
other kibbutz member came to our volun-
teer shack. We were in bed already; it was
late. I remember they saw us in bed and

The Yom Kippur War:


stood in the doorway and pleaded with us
to return to the kibbutz and become mem-
bers, l’hishtoresh, get rooted there.” We
were deeply touched by that.

A Story of
During the next few months, while
Betty lived at Amir, I worked as an able
seaman in the Persian Gulf. After the Yom

Love and Friendship


Kippur War started, those days in October
after she returned to Amir from Tel Aviv,
the ship I worked on happened to be in
Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
While war was raging, Betty was in Is-
rael, near the Golan, and I was in Saudi
» by Roberto Loiederman, Contributing Writer Arabia.

IN EARLY OCTOBER 1973, MY WIFE, As the bus got closer to Kiryat Shmona, butz gate and he said, ‘What’s going on?’
Betty, was living at Kibbutz Amir in the people got off, leaving fewer and fewer I asked him what he was afraid of. He
Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley, where she
worked half days in the orchards and stud-
passengers. It got dark outside and what
had at first seemed safe became terrifying.
said he doesn’t like to see soldiers coming
into the kibbutz in time of war; it means
It got dark outside
ied at an ulpan during the other half.
On Friday, Oct. 5, 1973 she took the four-
When the bus arrived, there was only one
other passenger — and he lived in Kiryat
they’re bringing bad news — maybe a kib-
butz member has been killed.
and what had at
hour ride from the closest city with a bus
station, Kiryat Shmona, in order to spend
Shmona.
She got off the bus and looked around.
“I remember getting together with some
soldiers who’d been on the front lines in the
first seemed safe
Yom Kippur with her relatives in Tel Aviv.
By early Saturday afternoon, Oct. 6, they’d
“Every window in Kiryat Shmona was
blacked out,” she recalled. “It was scary but
Golan and they’d been given two days off.
The soldiers looked tired, wasted. I had the
became terrifying.
been fasting for 18 hours when, shocking- I had no way of returning to Tel Aviv.” feeling the situation was bad. I remember a
ly, they heard noises: tires screeching, cars There was a war going on, and she was young woman, a kibbutz member, toasted I read Time and Newsweek magazines,
pulling out of driveways. alone. Shakily, she walked toward Amir. them with ‘L’chayim aruchim,’ to a long life but all mention of Israel had been blacked
Sabche, Betty’s aunt, was worried. “She “I don’t remember how I got to Amir, but …. It was very poignant in that situation, in out, pages torn out. I contacted my par-
said something ‘serious’ was happening,” I got there. I probably hitchhiked. It was the middle of a war, with these soldiers on ents, who lived in Baltimore, and they
Betty recalled. “Nobody drives in Israel a 10-minute ride. At Amir, there were no temporary leave, not knowing if they were communicated with Amir. Betty and I re-
on Yom Kippur.” Minutes later, an alarm lights. It was hard to walk around. I made going to survive.” layed our messages via my parents and
sounded. my way by memory to the dining room Betty and I had met in Argentina in assured each other we were OK. We also
The Yom Kippur War had started. and went inside. They’d blacked out all the 1971. As a couple, we wandered Latin made plans on how and where to get back
Betty’s thoughts were with her friends at windows, but inside, there was light. America and Europe with little money. In together.
Amir: those at the ulpan (a school for the in- “When I went in, they looked at me like February 1973, eight months before the Fast forward to July 1974, seven months
tensive study of Hebrew) as well as kibbutz I was an apparition. ‘How did you make it Yom Kippur War, we landed in Israel with later. Betty and I are in New York; she’s
members, including her Hebrew teacher, here? What the hell are you doing here?’ I $20 in our wallets, and became volunteers pregnant with our first child. We aren’t
who’d become a surrogate father to her. She said I felt it was better to come back and at Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hei in the Val- sure what our next move will be. Should
knew most men in the kibbutz would be do whatever’s needed instead of being ley of Elah. we remain in the U.S.? Go back to Argen-
mobilized. By the third day away from the back in Tel Aviv doing nothing. Our closest friends there were Shu- tina? What about Israel?
mach and Yael, members of the kibbutz, We contacted Netiv HaLamed Hei and
a married couple with no children. Every- received tragic news: On Yom Kippur, Shu-
one, including Yael, called him Shumach, mach, our dear friend, was on reserve duty
his last name. We spent a lot of time with in the Sinai and was killed during the first
In February 1973, eight months before the them, and the four of us traveled together
throughout Israel. Once, when Shumach
hour of the war, which lasted Oct. 6-25,
1973.
Yom Kippur War, we landed in Israel with pointed out for the umpteenth time the We remembered that thoroughly hu-

$20 in our wallets, and became volunteers


historical importance of a place we visited, man, loving moment when Shumach
I said, “Does every spot in Israel have a bib- barged in while we were in bed, how he

at Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hei in the Valley


lical connection?” stood in the doorway and pleaded with
“Small country,” Shumach said. “Big us to come back and establish roots. How

of Elah.
book.” could we refuse him now — now that
By June 1973, we’d been at Netiv he had given his life for Israel? We owed
HaLamed Hei for four months. We liked it it to him, owed it to that moment when
kibbutz, Betty felt she had to go back. “At Amir, the windows were blacked but didn’t want to feel that staying there he stood in the doorway and asked us to
“It’s crazy,” Sabche told her. “You’ll out, explosions on the mountains, fires, was our only option. I had received a small come back.
be in a war zone.” Betty reasoned that if planes flying low. There were alarms and tax refund and decided to use it to travel And yes, we did go back. We became
there was a bus going to Kiryat Shmona, it we had to run to shelters, where the chil- overland to an Asian port where, as a members of Netiv HaLamed Hei, lived and
meant things were OK up north. She went dren slept. It was a different feeling from professional deckhand, I could get work on worked there for two years, and our older
to Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, where she Tel Aviv. I wasn’t scared, but it felt like a an American merchant ship. Meanwhile, son, Rafi, was born while we were there.
felt comforted by the crowds, a sign of nor- war zone. Betty was set on going to a kibbutz with an After we left the kibbutz, we lived for
malcy. Buses were leaving, so she caught “One day, I was walking with my ulpan ulpan so she could refresh the Hebrew she more than five years in Jerusalem before
one that was half-full to Kiryat Shmona. teacher. We saw two soldiers at the kib- had learned as a student. moving to Los Angeles. n

20 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


MY TURN
Photos courtesy of Rabbi Adam Kligfeld

Despite the masks,


the physical distance,
the plexiglass and
the otherwise
empty room, these
moments have felt
intimate, grand, full
and pregnant with
meaning. And prayer.

The Ark — In Person


» by Rabbi Adam Kligfeld

WITH THE DOORS TO THE ARK OPEN, The prediction was apt, but it did not articulate what has been painful and dis- the digital world is greater than the human
they came with their hearts open. They account for the coronavirus. As the leader- tressing about this era, yet challenging world. It is not. Virtual reality is impressive,
came with their unexpected tears and ship thought through the worship options them to name one unexpected wonder but it is no replacement for human touch,
their whispered intimacies. They came, we would offer our community over these they have found. Stepping back so their for presence, for true closeness.
broken and battered by COVID-19 and unique holidays (small, truncated services whispered words aren’t audible and thus On Kol Nidre, many communities recite
wildfires and choking air and societal up- outdoors as well as “Zooms galore”), we remain private, and inviting them to turn a piyyut (liturgical poem) whose refrain
heaval and crushing loneliness and finan- also explored creative ways, borne out to one another to articulate any wish or is labrit habet, v’al tefen layetzer. We ask
cial worry. They came with the crevices of God to remember
their souls exposed and they had a chance the covenant and
to place a prayer in the crevices of the Holy not pay attention to
Ark. our wayward urges.
When Temple Beth Am dedicated its
new sanctuary in 2019, just a few weeks
Virtual reality is This year, I sug-
gest we turn those
before Rosh Hashanah, we had no idea
how one spiritually whimsical design de-
impressive, but it is words on ourselves.
Let us not succumb
tail could become so important and pro-
found in 2020. And with our sanctuary so
no replacement for to the urge that
values the virtual
full and robust last year, we couldn’t an-
ticipate how empty and lonely it (and its
human touch, for over the personal.
Rather, let us re-
usual attendees) would be this year.
That one design detail was in our Aron
presence, for true member the cov-
enant of humanity
HaKodesh. Its doors include an array of
iridescent cubes. The sun’s rays stream
closeness. we share and re-
commit — both in
in from the vast window on the east side of this excruciating moment, to serve up creative ways while
of the room, refract through those cubes tastes and feelings related to the High the pandemic rag-
and create a subtly dazzling dappled light. Holy Days. es and in all ways
When one is inside the ark and turns One of those ideas was to invite family once it ebbs — to be
around to face the sanctuary, one can units to spend 15 minutes at and within together, because
see the back of those cubes — hundreds the Holy Ark with one of our rabbis. The feeling welling up inside of them. we need to be together more than we ever
of them. And many are perforated with scene looked like a hybrid between a hock- And then, we turn back to the mini- have before.
small, tubular hollows. ey penalty box and a Catholic church con- Kotel, watching as Jews — who are about So much of human connection has
We intended that our ark would be a fessional, with the rabbi in one “pen” be- to recite a litany of scripted prayers during been wrenched away from us. For all of the
repository not only for God’s words but hind a plexiglass screen and the family in the High Holy Days — write out personal digital davening wonders we will deliver to
for ours. Not just holy writ but our writ- a separate pen on the other side of the ark. ones and place them within our ark. our community as we celebrate 5781, per-
ings. At the dedication last year, members Despite the masks, the physical distance, Zoom is a wonder. Navigating COVID-19 haps nothing will be more important and
wrote small prayers on special colored the plexiglass and the otherwise empty — personally, professionally, education- needed than those 15 minutes by the ark.
paper. They rolled the prayers around a room, these moments have felt intimate, ally — without it is nigh impossible. But And perhaps even some of those prayers
dowel and inserted them into the cubes’ grand, full and pregnant with meaning. Zoom also has limitations in some ways by in our mini-Kotel will be answered. n
hollows. Beth Am’s mini-Kotel, we mused, And prayer. enslaving us even more powerfully to our
had enough space for notes to last several There is such joy in seeing a member of screens. Zoom’s ubiquity and effectiveness Rabbi Adam Kligfeld is the senior rabbi at
generations. your community in person: having them is reinforcing to a young generation that Temple Beth Am.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 21


MY TURN

What
H
to
ru
M

Is
ph
tw
N
O

sa

Judaism?
a
na
ea
jo
st
co

God’s primary ra
w

» by Dennis Prager
demand is that sp
of

people be good. Te

Therefore, correct fo
pa

behavior matters ab

more than correct ul


Th

intentions and more


than correct faith. H
R
G
D
qu
te
SOME THOUGHTS FOR YOM KIPPUR be good. Therefore, correct behavior mat- b) The most important distinction 13. The Torah is from God. If the Torah is H
on the beliefs that define Judaism. Al- ters more than correct intentions and among human beings is not their race, man-made, it will be man-rejected.
though not an “official” list, these beliefs more than correct faith. religion, nationality, class or sex. It is 14. Judaism has a trinity: God, Torah, Is- of
have been widely held by Jews for thou- 6. There is an afterlife. God rewards the their behavior. In the words of Viktor rael (Jewish peoplehood and the Land of Is- vo
sands of years. good and punishes the bad. If good people Frankl, “There are only two races; the de- rael). The removal of any one of these three te
1. There is one universal God. This God and bad people have the same fate, there cent and the indecent.” components is no longer Judaism, and en- H
is the creator of the world; the God of is either no God or God is not just. c) Human life is sacred and animal life is sures the ultimate demise of Judaism. th
all humanity; the God introduced to the 7. Although there is an afterlife, God not — although humans are forbidden from 15. Jewish faith rests on two pillars: Cre- te
world by the Hebrew Bible. wants us to be preoccupied with this life. inflicting gratuitous suffering on animals. ation and Exodus. Judaism cannot survive
2. One universal God means there is denial of either as a divine event. They are th
one universal morality. This was one of the to Judaism what Jesus’ crucifixion and res- so
many radical innovations of the Torah that urrection are to Christianity. D

Although there is an afterlife, God wants us


made moral civilization possible. 16. Judaism is a religion of distinctions. su
3. God is: These distinctions are:

to be preoccupied with this life.


a) Incorporeal (not physical). This a) God and man. ex
means, among other things, that there is a b) Good and evil. id
reality outside of matter (the soul, for ex- c) Man and woman. an
ample). 8. Reward in the afterlife (“heaven”) is 11. God created the world for human d) Holy and profane. Tr
b) Eternal — all matter has a beginning available to all good people, not just good beings. Therefore, there is no purpose to e) Life and death. Pa
and an end; God exists outside of time. Jews. nature without man to appreciate and use 17. Judaism can ennoble anyone. There- de
c) Outside of nature — God is not in na- 9. Human beings are not born basically it (responsibly). fore, any non-Jew is welcome to embrace fr
ture; and nature is not divine. good. Therefore: 12. The Jews are the Chosen People, Judaism and become a member of the Jew- So
d) Personal — God knows each of us. a) Evil comes primarily from within, not chosen to bring mankind to the God of ish people. But one does not need to be- of
e) Good — God is moral and compas- from external causes, such as poverty. the Torah and to the Ten Commandments, come a Jew to enter heaven. si
sionate. b) The greatest battle for most human and to bring the Torah to the world. How- 18. Jews look forward to the coming of po
f) Just — God judges every human be- beings is with their own nature, not with ever, Jews are not obligated to bring people the Messiah or the Messianic Age. n ye
ing. society. to Judaism (though Judaism warmly wel- in
4. God is the God revealed in the Torah c) The most important task of society and comes converts). Chosen-ness has never Copyright 2020 creators.com. Dennis
— the God of Creation, the God of Israel, of parents must be to make good people. meant that Jews are better than anyone Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk M
the God of the Ten Commandments. To a 10. All people are created in the image else. Indeed, the Torah and the entire He- show host; president of PragerU, and author ac
Jew, any other god is not God. of God. Therefore: brew Bible go out of their way to depict the of volume two (“Genesis”) “The Rational Bi- m
5. God’s primary demand is that people a) Racism is theologically impossible. Jews as flawed. ble.” Reprinted with permission.

22 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020 Se


NAT I O N / WO R L D B R IE FS

Honduras to Move Embassy Internet Giants Urged old rapper, also known as Freeze Corleone, en- ’30s” and “couldn’t care less about the Shoah.”
to Jerusalem by Year’s End to Remove French Rapper’s gages in “anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories, Corleone’s album has enjoyed consider-
Honduras will move its embassy to Je- Songs on Hitler, Jews and Money glorification of Hitler and the Third Reich and able commercial success by local standards,
rusalem by the end of this year, the Prime France’s oldest anti-racism watchdog the terrorist Mullah Omar,” a former leader of selling about 15,000 copies since its release
Minister’s Office in Israel announced. group called on internet giants to remove the Taliban, LICRA wrote last week on Twitter. on Sept. 11 — a date some believe he chose
The Sept. 21 statement followed a tele- from their platforms newly released rap songs Corleone sings on his 10th album, “The deliberately. The album’s 17 songs have been
phone conversation the previous day be- that critics say are anti-Semitic. Phantom Threat,” about wanting his children played more than 5 million times on Spotify,
tween Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin The International League Against Racism to “live like Jewish investors” and of being “de- according to the magazine Marianne. Cor-
Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) urged YouTube, termined like Adolf.” leone has a long history of similar statements
Orlando Hernandez. Google, Apple Music and Spotify to remove He also sings “F*** a Rothchild, f*** a Rock- in his previous albums, the magazine showed.
Last year, Honduras recognized Jeru- works by Issa Lorenzo Diakhaté. The 28-year- efeller, I come determined like Adolf in the — Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA
salem as the capital of Israel and opened
a commercial office in the city. The two
nations and the United States had met
earlier in the year in Brazil and issued a
joint statement in which they agreed to
strengthen political ties “and coordinate
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
cooperation on development in Hondu-
ras,” as well as to “pursue a plan of action,
which includes meetings in their three re-
spective capitals, to advance the process
of the decision to open embassies in both
Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem.”
“We hope to take this historic step be-
fore the end of the year, as long as the
pandemic allows it,” Hernandez tweeted
about the embassy move to Jerusalem.
Honduras has the second-largest pop-
ulation of Palestinians in Latin America,
The Times of Israel reported.
— Marcy Oster, JTA

House Passes Bill


Requiring Federal
Government to Act Against
Domestic Terrorism
The federal government would be re-
quired to take steps to prevent domestic
terrorism under a bill passed by the U.S.
House of Representatives.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act
of 2020, which passed on Sept. 21 by voice
vote, would authorize dedicated domestic
terrorism offices in the departments of
Homeland Security and Justice, as well as
the FBI, to analyze and monitor domestic
terrorist activity.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) sponsored
the legislation, which had 179 co-spon-
sors. Sen. Dick Durbin, also an Illinois
Democrat, has sponsored a similar mea-
sure in the Senate.
“Racially/ethnically motivated violent
extremists were the primary source of
Fearless for RBG
ideologically motivated lethal incidents
and violence in 2018 and 2019. From the Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue wears a lace collar in memory of the late Supreme Court Justice
Tree of Life synagogue to a Walmart in El Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 21 in New York City.
Paso, Texas, we have all tragically seen the
deadly effect,” Schneider said on Sept. 21
from the House floor. “According to the
Southern Poverty Law Center, the number
of white nationalist groups rose by 55%
since 2017. And last November, the FBI re-
ported violent hate crimes reached a 16-
year high in 2018. That number went up
in 2019.
“Groups like the Boogaloos, Rise Above Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Movement and white nationalist militias
across the country are organizing, and so
must we.”
— Marcy Oster, JTA

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 23


HUMANS OF ISRAEL

The CEO Creating ‘Joy Ventures’


in the Well-Being Space
» by Deborah Danan, Contributing Writer
WITH A NEUROSCIENTIST MOTHER AND people manage their daily lives more joyfully. pel” is worn on the wrist and creates a silent rently is in a pilot program in the U.S. A
tech entrepreneur father, Miri Polachek grew “It’s a different kind of space to operate vibration that mimics a heartbeat to either portable, interactive “soft and fuzzy” globe
up in a home where Nobel laureates were in,” Polachek said. “You really need to take a reduce stress or increase alertness. San- created by a textile designer turned tech
the ultimate celebrities. Years later, when Po- fresh look all the time at consumer trends, at ga’s unique meditation program features entrepreneur, Reflect uses biofeedback to
lachek found herself in the late President Shi- what people’s pains are and understand the human coaches to help people achieve a monitor and improve its user’s mood.
mon Peres’ Jerusalem residence, she asked One of the perks of working in the con-
him if he would pose with her for a picture sumer space, Polachek said, is that she
alongside his Nobel Peace Prize medal. and her staff get to be the guinea pigs. On
Peres was the visionary who inspired the
now-defunct Israel Brain Technologies, the
“You really need to take a fresh look all the time several occasions, she’s even brought the
products home for her three teenagers to
nonprofit that worked to establish Israel as at consumer trends, at what people’s pains are try.

and understand the different demographics.”


a hub for brain-related innovations. Polachek “It brings awareness to them of how
was the founding director. important it is to be aware of our emo-
Polachek spent the first half of her career tions, to manage them and to develop re-
working in finance for large corporations in different demographics.” stable meditation practice. The Vi Trainer silience to stress and uncertainty — skills
the United States. After moving to Israel, she Emotional well-being has become de ri- app is a conversational fitness coach that that are not always taught at home and
switched to the entrepreneurial domain. She gueur in tech, with apps like Calm and Head- uses GPS and phone movements to moni- school,” she said. Polachek added that her
said the entrepreneurial mindset captures space flooding the booming mindfulness tor progress. children love to cuddle and take a moment to
her imagination and inspires her, adding that market. The advent of COVID-19 has taken a The challenge, Polachek said, is creat- relax with the Reflect ball.
it is the lifeblood of the startup ecosystem. heavy toll on people’s mental health, and the ing a product that is fun, appealing and “It’s actually so natural when you talk to
Today, Polachek is the CEO of Joy Ventures, companies that Joy Ventures supports aim to marketable, while using technology that kids about it,” she said, “that it’s sort of an aha
a company that supports, funds and builds help people get through this period of height- can have a meaningful impact on how moment, that there should be more products
science-backed consumer products in the ened stress. people feel. One product Polachek said has they can use to help them develop those
well-being space, or in her words, “that help Empathic Technologies’ so-called “Dop- achieved this balance is Reflect, which cur- skills.” n

20 YEARS AGO IN THE JEWISH JOURNAL


Top Stories

FTC Report Message of Hope


Some in the entertainment industry acknowledge Iranian minister is optimistic about the Shiraz
that violent content does have an effect. 10 during a visit to a Reseda congregation.

Challenging Content Strike Against Hate


Parents Television Council wages a battle to The ADL joins with Barnes & Noble and
return to family-friendly programming. Scholastic Books to teach tolerance.

Center of Controversy Reaching Out


A year after the North Valley shooting, the Burgeoning groups focus on keeping disaffected
Westside JCC weathers a tidal wave of criticism. 20-somethings involved with Judaism.

Tamales & Tchatchkes No Kidding


Fiesta Shalom organizers hope to smooth a Laugh Factory founder continues a 15-year
rocky patch between local Latinos and Jews. tradition of hosting free High Holy Days services.

24 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


R O S N E R ’ S D O M A IN
Fro m Is ra e l

High Holy Days or


Rosner online
On “Rosner’s Podcast,” you can listen to a conversation with Rachel Azaria, an
Israeli politician and social justice activist, about the need to build coalitions, and

High Fever?
Israel’s search of a new status quo:
“We don’t have any other choice. Israel is the only country we have. If we con-
tinue in this [polarized] way, we will end up having a civil war. And nobody wants
that. In fact, I think we are already in some kind of a cultural civil war. Everything
is almost mean. I think this is because we are trying to understand who we are and
» by Shmuel Rosner what we stand for.”

LESS THAN A WEEK AGO, FOR THE to go to work without having any ar-
first time in my life, I blew the shofar on rangements for the kids — unless they
Rosh Hashanah. I have a short, black sho- leave the kids with a relative who’s not
far that’s relatively easy to blow. I bought sheltering with them. But that violates
it on Sept. 17, the day before the holiday the edicts. Or take them to work. Also
began, at a small Chabad shop not far from a violation. Or send them to a friend’s
where I live. house. Also a violation. So parents end
Because I have some experience play- up breaking the rules by skipping work
ing trumpet, clarinet, flute and other brass or by having contact with a relative
and wind instruments, I figured that the who’s not sheltering with them. Some

Photo by Amir Levy/Stringer/Getty Images


challenge would be manageable. Indeed, it have lost their jobs.
was. On Sept. 20, we climbed onto the roof, Had Israelis been certain that the
recited the blessings, and let the whole lockdown would stem the spread of the
virus, they might be somewhat under-
standing, somewhat cooperative. But
government officials continue to say it’s A protester holds a photo of

In a year like no not enough. They say the policy issued


by the government won’t work. What
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu with a protective face

other, it was a Rosh this means is that Israelis are going to


pay a heavy price — claustrophobia,
mask during a demonstration on
Sept. 20 in Jerusalem.

Hashanah like no economic hardship, job loss, loneliness


— without any benefits. When the High

other. Holy Days are over, the government is go-


ing to tell Israelis that they need to con-
A week’s numbers
tinue the lockdown, or implement strict- What changes in the religious-state arena are the most important to Israelis? A
er rules, or whatever. In the meantime, Hiddush survey provides an answer:
neighborhood know that a new year was hospitals are becoming crowded and the
upon us. death toll rises daily.
In a year like no other, it was a Rosh Israel is spiraling and there’s no pilot.
Hashanah like no other. On the eve of the Or maybe our problem is too many pilots
holiday, Israel was placed on lockdown, at are pulling us in different directions. Or
least officially. Having failed to contain the maybe it’s Israelis — the passengers —
spread of the coronavirus, the government who make it impossible for the pilot to
imposed restrictions on movement, con- take back control.
gregation and activity. Some of these rules That’s probably it. The pilot lost control
were meant to make the synagogues less and, with it, the passengers’ trust. When
dangerous to our collective health. It was Rosh Hashanah ended, thousands pro-
ordered that only small groups could pray tested shoulder-to-shoulder in Jerusalem.
together, preferably outside, or in “cap- Thousands more drove their cars from city
sules” separated by partitions. to city and lied to officers who questioned
I decided not to trust the rules, the them at roadblocks about where they were
government or the synagogue. The road going or where they’d been. Thousands
to hell is paved with good intentions. And more said goodbye to their families, hav-
in Israel’s case, the road to confusion and ing spent the holiday together, against the Insight: It’s good to remember that even Israelis with whom you agree could
insubordination is paved with the same rules. have different priorities about what’s preferable and what’s really urgent (yes,
bricks. I knew from experience that in In short, when the pilot is finally try- Women of the Wall, I’m looking at you).
many synagogues the rules aren’t taken ing to control the plane, Israelis won’t let
seriously. And when they are, they aren’t
strictly practiced. And when they are, they
him. The pilot says, “Lockdown” — and
we say, “Been there, done that”; “won’t
A reader’s response:
are insufficient. People get infected at the work”; “can’t stand it”; “don’t believe you”; Lisa Sanderson commented on my stories about the Israel-United Arab Emirates
synagogue. So the choice was simple: Visit “what about prayers”; “what about pro- deal:
a synagogue at your own peril or avoid it test”; “what about shopping”; “what about “When Trump and Netanyahu are gone, this deal is gone.”
and set up your own holiday show. schools”? The pilot says, “Trust me.” We My response: No, it won’t be. Look at Egypt. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was
Such dilemmas are becoming everyday burst into bitter laughter. The pilot says, assassinated, President Jimmy Carter failed in his reelection bid, Israeli Prime Min-
life in Israel. Workplaces are open (except “There’s a pandemic.” We say, “Where? We ister Menachem Begin launched a war in Lebanon — still, the agreement survived.
for those, like stores or restaurants, that can’t see anything because of our masks.”
must engage with the public), but schools The pilot asks, “Are you finally wearing Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international
are closed. Some people must find a way masks?” We laugh again. n politics, visit jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 25


O U R TU RN
Throughout
her successful

R
career, Ginsburg uth Bader Ginsburg, whose death on the first
night of Rosh Hashanah sent shockwaves

remained deeply throughout the country, was a trailblazer.


She was the second woman to serve on the

proud of Jewish Supreme Court and the first Jewish woman.


Although she came from humble beginnings, she never

tradition and forgot her upbringing or the obstacles she overcame, us-
ing them to drive her pursuit of justice. May we learn from

Jewish history. It her life so we can inherit her spirit, her legacy and her
battle for a better world.

was at the core From Brooklyn to the bench


of her values and Ginsburg’s childhood resembles that of many Jewish
Americans. She grew up in Flatbush with an immigrant

influenced her father and an American-born mother. Her father, Nathan


Bader, came to the United States with his parents at age

immensely. 13 as a part of the great wave of Jewish immigration from


the pogroms. Ginsburg’s mother, Celia Amster, was born
in the United States within months of her parents’ arrival
from Europe. Gifted, Celia graduated from high school at
age 15 but was unable to afford college, working instead
in the garment industry, which was, at the time, a major
source of jobs for Jewish men and women. In Flatbush,
education was the key to advancement.
The Bader family attended East Midwood Jewish Cen-
ter, a thriving Conservative congregation at the heart of
the neighborhood. Although she attended Hebrew school,
Ruth Bader didn’t have a bat mitzvah because that prac-
tice didn’t become mainstream for Conservative syna-
gogues until the 1950s. Remarking on the role of women
in Judaism, Ginsburg once said, “My colleague Elana Kagan
was the first Supreme Court Justice to have a bat mitzvah”
— but that was only after Kagan’s family left their Modern
Orthodox synagogue so she could do so.
But the Brooklyn that Ruth Bader grew up in was a
place where barriers were being broken. When she was
14, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson broke the col-
or barricade in baseball. She intuited his example: to get

THE
ahead, you had to be twice as good, twice as tough, twice
as determined. All around her, fellow students were the
first in their family to speak English, the first to gradu-
ate from high school, the first to attend college, the first
whose horizons were less limited by poverty. After World
War II, America became a land of opportunity, at least for

JEWESS
men.
Based on her academic success in high school, Gins-
burg was able to attend Cornell University, where she met
the man she would marry — Martin Ginsburg. Their love
and marriage would enter lore as the justice achieved
celebrity status. Martin was outgoing and gregarious, his

AND THE
wife shy and reserved. He loved to cook and bake. She was
told by her family never to enter the kitchen. They both
loved music and, above all, each other.
Martin Ginsburg was a confident man who could revel
in his wife’s achievements. Although he was a success-
ful tax attorney, he was willing to adjust his life to make

JURIST
room for her to rise to the top of her profession. Unapolo-
getically, he used all his contacts and clout to advance her
candidacy for the Supreme Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg became an icon of modern femi-
nism — but so did Martin. By witnessing their love, many
husbands are reminded that it takes a real man to be sup-
portive of and empower an accomplished spouse. True to
form, on his deathbed, Martin wrote, “My dearest Ruth …
You are the only person [aside from my parents, children
» by Michael Berenbaum and Edward Gaffney, Jr. and grandchildren] I have loved in my life and I have ad-
mired and loved you almost since the day we first met at
Cornell. What a treat it has been to watch your progress to
the very top of the legal world.”

26 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


After she married Martin, the two moved to Lawton, my doorpost, [a] gift from the Shulamith School for Girls about a woman’s place in a man’s world. Ginsburg persis-
Okla., as Martin had to fulfill his military obligation. Gins- in Brooklyn [a Charedi school] ; on three walls, in artists’ tently applied the two fundamental norms of American
burg was offered a job, but the offer was rescinded after renditions of Hebrew letters, the command from Deuter- constitutionalism — due process of law and equal protec-
her employer learned she was pregnant. Ginsburg had to onomy: “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof” — “Justice, justice shall tion of the laws — to the rules that confined the freedom
accept another job with the government as an entry-level you pursue.” Those words are ever-present reminders of and dignity of women and men. She focused sharply on
GS-2, quite a demotion for a brilliant Ivy League student. what judges must do that they “may thrive.” the gendered roles that laws embedded in virtually all as-
One can hear the echo of those early rejections in her lat- But like her work in the legal sphere, Ginsburg went be- pects of life.
er efforts to achieve equal justice for women. yond respecting Jewish tradition — she sought to change Third, Ginsburg was reasonable in her advocacy of
After their stay in Oklahoma, the Ginsburgs enrolled in it. In the early 1980s, when the chancellor of the Jewish change. She was no dilettante, ready to compromise on
Harvard Law School. When Ruth entered, there were no Theological Seminary said with pride that “we accept any major principle. Her goal was to fundamentally chal-
women on the law faculty and only nine women in her women in a cantorial school,” Ginsburg reminded him lenge the systematic denial of equality in American law.
class of 552. Each woman was challenged by the eminent that the new generation of women didn’t understand why She stated that clearly in her confirmation hearings, and
dean of Harvard Law School — Erwin Griswold — to justify women could not be rabbis. For her outstanding work in the senators appreciated her candor, confirming her ap-
why they were taking “a man’s place.” Ruth Bader Gins- both the legal and Jewish community, Israel sought to give pointment by a vote of 97-3. Ginsburg was, at heart, an
burg never forgot this question. her its Genesis Prize in 2018 (the prize was ultimately not egalitarian feminist. She argued that changing outdated
In his third year of law school, Martin developed tes- awarded to her, because judicial ethics would not permit laws would be better for women and men. Her keen and
ticular cancer. Rather than wallow, Ruth went into over- her to receive a prize from a foreign government.) personal awareness of discrimination against women
drive. She attended her classes, gathered the notes taken Ginsburg also held immense respect for the Jewish enabled her to identify the prior decisions that needed
community. From time to time, I (Michael Berenbaum) reconsideration or overturning. And she understood the
would reach out to her to participate in Jewish events, mentality of many male judges, who were all too com-
where I thought she might truly have an impact. Her an- fortable with the idea that legislatures could make laws

At a seminar on gender
swers were always gracious, and when her schedule per- that appeared to protect women. But she spoke the truth:
mitted, she would make the effort to participate in and putting women on pedestals actually put them in cages.

discrimination led by Justice


advance the work of Jewish women. Fourth, Ginsburg was responsible. She listened care-
fully and imbibed the facts from her clients’ experiences
Ginsburg’s genuine insights
Ginsburg and her husband,
of inequality. She shared with other feminists an under-
For all of Ginsburg’s successes, she did lose one battle. standing of these experiences as a denial of human dig-

both of them exemplified the


She hoped to outlast the presidency of Donald Trump and nity and personhood. In brief after brief, Ginsburg offered
to be replaced by a justice who would advance the cause carefully tailored reasons for invalidating a law for its

duty of attentiveness.
of social justice. Some of her work is at risk of being re- procedural fairness. If government wanted to stop her by
versed. throwing a long list of laws at her, she would address each
But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was focused on the
future — and so should we. Just consider the final words
by Martin’s fellow students, typed them up, and worked from 2004 speech at the Capitol:
with him to get him to graduate on time — all while ex- I was fortunate to be a child, a Jewish child, safely in
celling at her own studies and mothering their daughter,
Jane. Her work ethic and her fierce determination served
America during the Holocaust …. In the aftermath of
World War II, in the civil rights movement of the 1950s As we sit shivah this week
them both well. Many of those who have looked at Gins-
burg have not appropriately recognized the herculean ef-
and 1960s, in the burgeoning women’s rights movement
of the 1970s, “We the People” expanded to include all of for Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
fort it took for her many accomplishments.
When Martin graduated, he took a job in New York.
humankind, to embrace all the people of this great nation.
Our motto, E Pluribus Unum, of many one, signals our ap- we should reflect upon her
This posed a problem for Ginsburg, who still had her last
year of law school left. She approached Griswold with a
preciation that we are the richer for the religious, ethnic,
and racial diversity of our citizens. experiences as a Jew, a law
request that she take her last year at Columbia but obtain
a Harvard degree. Griswold refused such an accommoda-
Despite the considerable progress, a daunting distance
remains to be traveled … student, a law professor,
tion, so she transferred to Columbia. It was a decision that
Harvard lives to regret and one that Columbia continues
While mindful of current realities, the opening of doors
long closed makes me optimistic about a future in which advocate of gender
to celebrate.
After graduating from Columbia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
daughters and sons alike will be free from artificial bar-
riers, free to aspire and achieve in full accord with their equality, and federal
looked for clerkship opportunities, and only after enormous
pressure from her professor was she offered a clerkship for
God-given talents, and their willingness to do the hard
work needed to make their dreams come true. judge and see how we, in
a federal judge. But even that couldn’t compensate for her
her stead, can adopt her
gender. Ginsburg was unable to secure a position in a pres-
tigious law firm. Instead, she went into academia — first
at Rutgers and then at Columbia — and worked with the
A s we sit shivah this week for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we
should reflect upon her experiences as a Jew, a law
student, a law professor, advocate of gender equality, and genuine insight.
American Civil Liberties Union on landmark gender equal- federal judge and see how we, in her stead, can adopt her
ity cases. For her trailblazing legal work, President Jimmy genuine insight. one, one at a time. But Ginsburg also recognized that there
Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for According to the eminent Canadian philosopher Ber- was a way to achieve gender equality without litigating
the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. In 1993, President nard Lonergan, genuine insight requires attentiveness, in- law by law. She advocated strongly and persistently for
Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg, telligence, reasonableness and responsibility. Ruth Bader the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment because
who was excluded from law firms and the bimah, secured Ginsburg had all of these qualities — and more. she saw it as a move “toward a legal system in which each
one of the most exclusive jobs in the country. At a seminar on gender discrimination led by Justice person will be judged on individual merit and not on the
Ginsburg and her husband, both exemplified the duty of basis of an unalterable trait of birth.”
A trailblazing Jew attentiveness. They began each day’s discussion with a fo- In short, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was insightful in the
Throughout her successful career, Ginsburg remained cus on actual experiences of the people they represented most expansive and rigorous meaning of what human
deeply proud of Jewish tradition and Jewish history. It was in these cases. They knew all of their clients by name and understanding entails: being attentive, intelligent, rea-
at the core of her values and influenced her immensely. how their lives had been affected by irrational legislation. sonable and responsible. The best way we can honor her
In a speech at the United States Holocaust Memorial Mu- Justice Ginsburg began the seminar by stating, “The first legacy is to emulate those character traits.
seum in 2004, Ginsburg said: thing Marty and I did was to get to know the client. It is May her memory be a blessing on us all. n
My heritage as a Jew and my occupation as a judge always important to find out what’s happening in the cli-
fit together symmetrically. The demand for justice runs ent’s life …. Our primary role as lawyers is to help this Michael Berenbaum is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute
through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradi- person, not to promote a cause.” and a professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish Univer-
tion. I take pride in and draw strength from my heritage, Second, Ginsburg was intelligent. The facts she learned sity. Edward Gaffney Jr. is a senior scholar at Valparaiso Uni-
as signs in my chambers attest: a large silver mezuzah on from her clients always generated a serious question versity.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 27


» by Toby Klein Greenwald

Efrat settlement
Written during the first intifada, late ’80s

CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
And you came with terror
both of us
and hate
children of Abraham
We answered you
who walked this holy land
with schools
with staff in hand
with doctors
and faith
with hope
Children of Abraham
We beckoned to you
who offered his son
in peace
to God on the holy mount
We screamed from the bottom of our souls:
Together we
who we call Isaac
“Peace!”
and you call Ishmael

could offer
who said to his cousin Lot,
You answered our pleas
“Let us part ways
with Munich
the world
in peace.”
and Maalot
You answered our prayers
a vision
Children of Abraham
with pain in the night
we never left this land
There were eras
when only a handful survived
no more
no more
together.
while nations came and went
Romans and Greeks and Turks
can we turn away Together we
could offer
no more
Byzantian and British
no more
While the children of Abraham
tended fields
Our blood checkered with yours across the fields the world a
dream.
Our children, schoolbags full of hope
wrote in the cities of Safad
passing your little shepherd boy on the road we share
and Jerusalem
your flock mingling with ours
books of wonder and of wisdom
so young, so young
A destiny so old, and so young
Children of Abraham

Photo by kolderal/Getty Images


who fought and succumbed
Together
who fought and won
we could offer the world a vision
each of us claiming:
together
“Chosen”
we could offer the world a dream
We have danced a dance of death
O Children of Abraham
too long
How you will miss
too long
the Children of Abraham
if one day
Children of Abraham
they are gone.
a new age
and we returned home
to the Jerusalem that had never left Toby Klein Greenwald is an award-winning playwright and
our hearts, our prayers, our dreams director of biblical musicals for Raise Your Spirits Theatre.
We came from the death throes of pogroms During the first intifada, Greenwald served as a liaison be-
from Europe’s hell tween various American news organizations and journalists,
from the lands of your brothers as well as the settler community.
who had expelled us, penniless and broken
We returned home to till our ancient land
To water our fragile grains with our ancient tears

28 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


TA B L E F O R F IV E
W EEKLY PARSHA: O NE V ERSE, F IVE VOICES
Edited by Salvador Litvak, Accidental Talmudist

Judy Gruen Rabbi Ari Segal


Author, “The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love With Faith” Head of School, Shalhevet High School
Jews don’t rely on intermediaries to connect with HaShem. It’s up to us to forge these This is an unusual verse in the intensely spiritual context of Yom Kippur. These practicalities,
relationships as individuals. In my life, I have been awed to discover that my attempts to down to the contingencies made in case something goes awry with the Kohen Gadol (high priest),
connect with HaShem have been repaid out of all proportion to my efforts. feel like the equivalent of a caffeine detox before the fast. Sure, it’s part of the process, but why
We also rely on prayers recited on our behalf. Our ancestors, sages, focus on it?
rabbis, teachers, family, friends, Kohanim and even Jews we have never I think the practicality of these contingency plans reveals an important
met pray for us regularly, and additionally in our time of need. With spiritual insight. Even in the most mundane of circumstances, we are all well-
life’s uncertainties, we need all the prayers we can get! The power of served by coming up with “Plan B’s” and “Plan C’s” for our practical goals. This
prayer is bountifully documented in many studies. Sick patients who has become profoundly evident this year, as shuls, synagogues, shteiblach and
are remembered through prayer chains often have improved clinical temples around the world make plan upon plan for observing Yom Kippur in
outcomes over those without that benefit. the time of COVID-19. From in-person davening, to Zoom services, to at-home
The high priest of the Temple days needed to be a man of the world to prayer materials, we’re all being armed with tiers of practical options for this
actualize his full spiritual strength, and being married was vital to these most spiritual time of the year.
credentials; hence the “spare” wife standing by in case of sudden bereavement. Who can begin The same should be true for our personal spirituality. We must explore multiple options for the
to imagine what level of spiritual preparation he needed to perform the Yom Kippur service? challenging work of connecting with God. Maybe praying in shul isn’t working out for you. So what’s
Without the Temple, the avodah of repentance on Yom Kippur became democratized. your Plan B? Do you connect with God better in nature? Through meditation, study or chesed? Don’t
We are responsible for our spiritual assessments and repairs. We confess our transgressions settle for an unsatisfying experience; make the plans that will help you succeed.
in the plural, because even if we are innocent of hard-heartedness or gossip-mongering, The practical contingencies provided for the Kohen Gadol were what enabled him to bring
someone else is guilty. We take it for the team. Israel is a community that demands personal the nation through a spiritually successful Yom Kippur. Emulating this process for ourselves
accountability and collective responsibility. can have a transformative effect on one’s Yom Kippur experience.
May your new year be filled with blessings!

YOM KIPPUR Lori Shapiro


Rabbi Elchanan Shoff Rabbi, Open Temple
Beis Knesses of Los Angeles The Chamber of Parhedrin refers to a
Being married was required of the Seven days prior to Yom Kippur Roman official (“Parhedrin”) assigned to a
high priest in order to serve God properly position of power in ancient Judea for a single
on Yom Kippur. Therefore, a woman was
the Sages would remove the High year. The Parhedrin perpetuated corruption,
waiting for him in case his wife died, so Priest from his house and install exploited power and yielded material reward
that he could be married. But what of love? him in the Chamber of Parhedrin through taxation and price gouging.The rabbis
What of romance? used this term as a cutting commentary on
The Torah obligates … Rabbi Yehuda says they would the Kohen Gadol’s corruption at that time, one
marriage. It is a even designate another wife for who “was more interested in their honor than
mitzvah. A Jewish in the spiritual importance of the position.”
wedding begins with a him lest his wife die. The Talmud continues
blessing affirming that to describe how
God sanctified us with each distinct Kohen
His commandments, occupying this position
instructed us about “redecorated the

Yoma 2a, B. Talmud


relationships and chamber,” illustrating
established marriage. Despite the truism their wealth and
that our sages teach us, that “one who position of authority;
lives without a wife is living without thus the Chamber of
joy” (teaching us the great happiness Rabbi Michael Barclay Parhedrin symbolizes the spiritual egress of
that so many have in successful married Temple Ner Simcha, Westlake Village our Second Temple priests.
life), marriage is nonetheless seen by Yoma is primarily about Yom Kippur preparations and practices for the leaders and The Pharisees triumphed through their
traditional Judaism as an obligation. You people. Beginning with instructions for the high priest, the tractate moves through details recollections of Sadducee failures. These
must get married! You must have a family! to be observed for a meaningful holiday experience. lurid details are fodder for good Talmud. But
This is an obligation, not just a choice. These teachings have never been more important. Although there is no Temple (may it be is this merely about the rabbinic disdain for
Great happiness in life comes from rebuilt speedily), the instructions are especially important this year, with the priestly tradition? Why would Tractate
helping the needy, from hosting guests, so many Jews observing Yom Kippur at home rather than in synagogue. Yoma, dedicated to our most pious of days,
from visiting the sick. Altruism brings These lines remind us how spiritual preparations affect family invite us into a space of moral depravity?
happiness to people, as study after study members. With so many households observing by themselves in front Perhaps it comes to remind us that the
have shown. But that is not the reason of a screen, it is vital to prepare your home properly. Don’t make the leader in question on our holiest of days is
that we help the needy. The reason that mistake of just watching services on a screen while multitasking. Clean just as we are: a flawed mortal. No greater,
we do what is right is because it is our your house; make the area where you are watching services holy and no less.
obligation to do what is right. The most special. Use the days before to create a sacred “set and setting,” and the With Yom Kippur upon us, we are lured
elevated and refined people, those who holiday will be more impactful. into distraction: fires, pandemic, civil
are worthy of guiding us, are people who Our synagogue has been having live, in-person holiday services, but many temples are unrest, economic distress, homelessness,
live up to their obligations. They love only streaming, or even prerecorded their services months ago. But each individual at a the election’s political circus. The Talmud
their families as we all do, and they feel synagogue or watching a screen can make services meaningful on a personal level through chastens us from distraction and back to the
the pain of the afflicted acutely, but their conscious preparation. Spend the week before Yom Kippur like the high priest, preparing for matter at hand: What are our own deeds,
sense of obligation is what guides them the inherent power of the holiday for your entire family. Create a sacred space and make misgivings, transgressions, deceptions,
the most. They know what is expected of this Yom Kippur, in person or online, the deepest Day of Atonement yet. mishandlings? We must enter our own
them. Marriage is wonderful. Obligations May we all be blessed to have the insights of the high priest; to prepare fully; and have chambers and reconcile our artifice with our
always are. an easy fast. aspirations toward moral nobility.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 29


B LOG BYTE S
EXCERPTS F ROM
OUR ONL INE
CONTRIBUTORS

“YourMomCares helps all Edited by Erin Ben-Moche,


Staff Writer
children by creating and funding
innovative, cutting-edge programs and
“I think we can safely say that 5780 came
solutions that have a direct
with incredible challenges. I
impact on children’s mental
can’t think of another time
health. And admirably, its
I so eagerly anticipated a
mental health services are
chance to recharge, renew
provided regardless of a family’s
and re-imagine. Whatever
financial situation, race, gender or sexual
your religion, spiritual path or culture, you
orientation.” — Darren Paltrowitz on YourMomCares (Sept. 15)
probably can use some refocus right now.”
— Rabbi Zach Shapiro on ringing in 5781 (Sept. 18)

“Researchers believe that heat waves


and other extreme weather events will “The traditional imagery of
become more frequent in the wake of the High Holy Days is that of
the climate crisis. As humans, we have a celestial court, where God
various means of dealing with sits on the throne as judge and
intense heat and dryness, each of us stands in court with
such as air conditioning or one angel as our prosecutor and another as
immediate water access.” our defender. All our deeds of the past year are
— Yael Mor discusses climate change in Israel (Sept. 22) presented to the court for God to consider, to
determine, as the Unetaneh Tokef prayer says,
‘who shall live and who shall die.’ ”
— Naomi Ackerman shares her reflections on the Days of Awe (Sept. 22)

“I have enormous hopes for this historic occasion, that it will be far more
than a moment that we celebrate; that we will still witness a profound
and lasting shift in the global tensions surrounding Israel and how Muslim
nations relate to Israel.” — Milikh Yevdayev on the UAE deal (Sept. 22)
C o nt inue rea d ing th e se blog posts an d ot h er s at Jew i sh Jo u r n al .c o m

30 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


SEPHARDIC SPICE GIRLS

CRANBERRY ALMOND
BISCOTTI

SHARON: MY FAMILY IS VISITING


the apartment building in Israel where my
uncles and their families live. I awake in
the middle of the night and hear adult con-
versation in the living room. I jump out of
bed to find my parents and my Uncle Naim
and Aunt Dalia standing by the second-
floor window, looking out onto the main

The Sweetness
road. They’re concerned about the convoy
of military trucks, some loaded with jeeps,
barreling up the main road toward Israel’s
northern border.

of Yom Kippurs Past


I am a little girl visiting from Australia.
I have no concept of geopolitics and the
impending threat of war. I go back to sleep.
The next afternoon, my Uncles Naim
and Eliyahu are pulled away from their
prayers in the synagogue and commanded
to join their units. Four weeks before, we » by Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts
all had celebrated the wedding of my Un- Photos by Alexandra Gomperts
cle Aryeh. Three weeks before, we had cel-
ebrated the brit milah of Naim and Dalia’s them walk purposefully toward the war. after fasting and to start the New Year on starch, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
baby boy Rafi, who, like my older brother Rachel: Every year, after the Kol Nidre a sweet note. Make a well in dry ingredients and in-
service, my brothers and I would gather in After our coffee and cookies, we would corporate egg-and-sugar mixture.
our Los Angeles living room and my par- sit down to eat a hot meal, including soup Add almonds and cranberries and com-
ents would regale us with stories of their and a stuffed chicken and letrea (egg bine well.

We are fortunate childhoods in Larache, a port city in Mo-


rocco. We would laugh long into the late
noodles). Nowadays, we have adopted my
husband’s family tradition of a dairy meal.
Line two baking sheets with parchment
paper. Shape dough into narrow logs.
to know that the hours of the night.
The next day meant long hours in the
And we have a new, very American, very
beloved-by-our-children tradition: creamy
Bake 15-20 minutes. Slice dough with a

meals we eat to
serrated knife.
synagogue. We’d come home and, before macaroni and cheese with crispy sage and Lower temperature to 275 F and bake

break our fasts


resting, my mother and I would set the a crunchy panko topping. until biscotti is golden.
table with pretty linens, the finest china Sharon and Rachel: We are fortunate to Makes 8-10 biscotti.

this year will be


plates and crystal glasses. My mother know that the meals we eat to break our
would proudly display the sterling silver fasts this year will be filled with delicious
PONCHE DE HUEVOS
filled with delicious
cutlery she had brought in her suitcase treats, such as the babka we ordered from
when my family emigrated from Morocco. our good friend Mickey Kahtan. Kahtan is

treats.
When the end of Yom Kippur was sig- from a traditional Iraqi family but, along
naled by the long blast of the shofar, my the way, she perfected the art of the Polish- PONCHE DE HUEVOS
Lithuanian dessert babka. Very popular
in Israel, they are called oogot sh’marim
(yeast cakes). They come with various deli-
cious fillings such as cinnamon, chocolate
and, like the ones Kahtan baked for us,
tangy, creamy, slightly sweet cheese. Fol-
low Kahtan on Instagram @MickeyBakes.
We also share our mothers’ recipes:
Nana Sue’s Cranberry Almond Biscotti and
Maman’s sweet coffee (Ponche De Huevos).
Mickey Kahtan’s Cheese Babka This year, we gratefully celebrate Yom
Kippur basking in the knowledge of a new
peace agreement with our Arab brethren. n

3 large egg yolks


CRANBERRY ALMOND BISCOTTI 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup olive oil Separate yolks into small bowl.
2/3 cup sugar Add sugar and beat briskly with a whisk
1/2 cup brown sugar until sugar dissolved and mix is light pale
2 teaspoons vanilla yellow.
and four other cousins, is named for our mother and I would rush home from the 3 cups unbleached flour Top your favorite coffee with a gener-
late paternal grandfather. synagogue. She would whip egg yolks and 1/4 cup cornstarch ous dollop.
I see my uncles sitting in the kitchen. sugar until they were a creamy pale yellow 1 tablespoon baking powder
They break their fast on simple sandwich- and I would brew coffee. The minute my 3/4 teaspoon salt Rachel Emquies Sheff and Sharon Gomperts
es of white bread spread with homemade father and brothers would walk through 3/4 cup slivered almonds have been friends since high school. They love
strawberry preserves. the door, my mother would pour the coffee 3/4 cup cranberries cooking and sharing recipes. They have collabo-
I see them walking away from their into cups and spoon a generous amount of Preheat oven to 350 F. rated on Sephardic Educational Center projects
homes, wives and young children, through the whipped egg on top. This Spanish Mo- In large bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugar and community cooking classes. Follow them on
the orange orchards, in khakis with back- roccan custom was the only way to end a and vanilla beat until sugar is dissolved. Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook
packs slung over their shoulders. I see long fast: a hot drink to restore the body In another bowl, combine flour, corn- at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 31


Community Voices Yet You Persisted •
• Strength Embodied • W
on the Legacy to Fear • The Thurgood M
of Justice Ruth Rights • A Giant of Her
Bader Ginsburg Took Her Life Bu
• Optimism and Fe
» Compiled by Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer
Combination of
• A Resilient, Defiant Tra
RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S DEATH ON her courage and conscience as she spoke
erev Rosh Hashanah hit the Jewish commu- truth to power. It fills me with hope for the
nity hard. The Journal reached out to local future that our younger generation recog-
Jewish community leaders to ask them how
Ginsburg inspired or impacted them.
nized her for the hero that she was. May her
memory be a blessing. the Greatness o
• She Sought Justice
— Janice Kamenir-Reznik, co-founder, Jewish
World Watch and Jews United for Democracy and
Yet You Persisted Justice; chair, Beit T’Shuvah

Sparks a Great Awakeni


Daughter of East Midwood Jewish Center,
you dissented long before others were will- Strength Embodied
ing. Harvard Law School’s dean asked why She was a living symbol of resistance, a
you were taking the place of a man. Justice
Frankfurter turned you down as an intern. Yet
hero of human rights, the very embodiment
of strength in a tiny frame. Despite well-pub-
Photo by/Getty Image

Confront Ageism • A T
• Restore for U
you persisted. Even as a professor, you were licized battles with cancer and her advanced
paid less than your male colleagues. Yet you age, she somehow seemed superhuman.
persisted. You defended widowers denied And, so, when I learned of her death, it was
pensions, fighting for gender equality before hard to fully comprehend. How could RBG
the law. Your elevation to the Supreme Court die? The truth is, the ideals that Justice Gins-
elevated us all. With the passage of time, you burg fought for are bigger than any one life,
became the living symbol of the dignity of all no matter how extraordinary. We were truly
people. You used the power of your pen and privileged to share the world with her for a from minority religions, like Jews) and
office to force the law to conform. You per- time. Now it is up to us to carry on her dis- much more. I won’t lie — when I think of A Giant of Her Generation
sisted. Through it all, you lived life well. You sent against the status quo. Madam Justice, all of that I feel afraid. But I’m certain of Every night, my 3-month-old goes to
cultivated a loving marriage, raised kind and we are ready. this: We can’t surrender to fear. We must sleep with a stuffed likeness of Justice Ruth
smart children, supported a diverse circle of — Rabbi Adam Greenwald, vice president all find within the Nachshon-like courage Bader Ginsburg in his crib. The proliferation
friends. You lived the Torah’s demand to love for Jewish Engagement, American Jewish Uni- of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. of RBG swag may seem kitschy, but her sta-
your neighbor as yourself, that there must be versity and director, Maas Center for Jewish — Eric Greene, writer, civil rights activist, tus as a pop culture icon reflects a deeper
one law for the citizen and the stranger, that Journeys and the Miller Introduction to Juda- board member of Jewish Multiracial Network yearning in our society: We are hungry for
the land must be allowed to rest, that we are ism Program righteous role models. The non-superhu-
commanded to pursue justice. We will honor
We Cannot Surrender to Fear The Thurgood Marshall man among us find strength and refuge in
you. We will walk your path. Your memory is of Disability Rights the massive shadow cast by an 85-pound
a blessing. As the newly freed Israelites were es- octogenarian. She was a seeker of justice
— Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Abner and caping from Egypt, trapped on the shores The disability rights community lost with a steadfast moral compass and an un-
Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of the Sea of Reeds, one person, Nachshon, a champion in RBG. The NAACP and oth- flinching fight balanced only by a patient in-
of Rabbinic Studies and vice president of American had the courage to step into the water ers have noted that President Bill Clin- tegrity that enabled her to navigate a world
Jewish University first. The waters did not part at first, but ton, when nominating Justice Ginsburg that was decades behind her. She had faith
Nachshon kept going, risked drowning, to the Supreme Court, referred to her as that the world would catch up. I want that
Justice and Equality and inspired the others. Ruth Bader Gins- the Thurgood Marshall of women’s rights. faith. And I want to teach that faith to my
There have been 114 justices on the Su- burg was a modern Nachshon. At her first Often hailed as the legal linchpin of inde- son.
preme Court since 1789. But only one of them appearance before the Supreme Court, pendent living for people with disabilities, — Rabbi Sarah Bassin, associate rabbi,
became a veritable rock star. How remark- she famously quoted Sarah Grimke: “All I her powerful decision [in 1999’s Olmstead Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

Photo by Leslee Komaiko


able that it was the millennial generation ask of our brethren is that they take their v. L.C.] mandated that people with disabili-
that elevated this tiny octogenarian Jewish feet off our necks.” It was chilling to think ties should live in the least restrictive en- Cancer Took Her Life
mother and bubbe into the iconic Notorious about those words just a few short months vironment possible. The centerpiece of the But Never Defined Her
RBG. She may have been the second woman after a knee on the neck of George Floyd opinion is Justice Ginsburg’s recognition of Our late founder, Rochelle Shoretz,
on the Supreme Court, but she was the first again demonstrated the deadly weight of the value and humanity of people with dis- clerked for Justice Ginsburg in 1998, and
feminist. At her core, she was committed to racism and state violence. Her absence abilities, and the danger of shutting us away. the women shared a strong bond of friend-
elevating the powerless, to empowering the leaves the Supreme Court poised to put Justice Ginsburg was known to emphasize ship and respect. Justice Ginsburg served on
vulnerable, and to bringing justice and equal- a knee on the neck of Native American the importance of the Jewish exhortation Sharsheret’s Honorary Advisory Board, and
ity based on the simple concept of fairness; rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, “U’vacharta b’chaim (Choose life).” Her juris- in her 2015 eulogy for Rochelle, she shared:
and she often cited her Jewish heritage as a LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, access prudence gave that choice to thousands of “Rochelle redoubled her efforts to uplift oth-
source for her commitment to and pursuit of to health care, clean air, clean water, the Americans with disabilities. ers battling cancer. Rochelle will be missed
justice. Her rise in popularity coincided with separation of church and state (which has — Matan Koch, director of RespectAbility by legions whose lives she touched. We have
her stinging dissents in which she displayed been vital in protecting the rights of those California and Jewish Leadership a store of memories of her bright spirit. May

32 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Image
COMMUNITY

sted • Justice and Equality


ed • We Cannot Surrender
even believe she had a right to be a lawyer. She Kaddish for our beloved Justice Ginsburg, we
fought for the rights of women to be seen, to must not yet say Mourner’s Kaddish for our
be treated fairly and to use their sensibility to nation — for this fight is not yet over. And Jus-

good Marshall of Disability


change the world. RBG was a classy feminist tice Ginsburg, of all people, would fervently
of the most esteemable order. Thank you, RBG. decry the passive acceptance of predeter-
— Mayim Bialik, actress and neuroscientist mined outcomes. We grieve, and then we pick

of Her Generation • Cancer


up the baton and carry on.
Witness to the Greatness — Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior rabbi, IKAR
of America’s Promise

Life But Never Defined Her Hearing about the passing of Justice Gins-
burg felt like losing a hero, a Jewish biblical
A Shofar Call to Confront
Ageism

and Fearlessness • A Rare


matriarch and a grandmother all at once. As I am especially grateful for the ways Ruth
soon as my daughters were old enough, my Bader Ginsburg was a shofar — an instru-
wife and I read them books on “Ruth” and ment that calls out for change. She [also]

tion of Civility and Intellect


took them to the exhibition about her life at challenged the way we think about growing
the Skirball Center. “Ruth” instantly became older. A common stereotype of older adults is
their hero, too. Justice Ginsburg drew strength that they disengage from life, become physi-

ant Trailblazer • Witness to


from her Jewish values and often spoke about cally frail and withdraw from many of those
her family story. My favorite quote of hers was: activities that had brought purpose to their
“What’s the difference between a bookkeeper lives. Not Justice Ginsburg. Think of her now

ness of America’s Promise in the garment district and a Supreme Court


justice? One generation.” Her life bore witness
famous “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Workout” that
encouraged so many of us older adults. She

ustice for All • A Loss That


to the greatness of America’s promise and kept working at a job she loved, demonstrat-
her life’s work made sure that promise was ing that older adults ought to be able to find
extended to more and more Americans. And meaning whether they continue to work,

wakening • A Shofar Call to


like a good grandmother, she even gave us all explore encore careers or discover volunteer
some good marital advice: “In every good mar- opportunities through which they can make
riage, it helps to be a little deaf.” Baruch Dayan a difference. She was a role model for getting

m • A Trailblazing Advocate Emet. Blessed be the true Judge.


— Sam Yebri, 30 Years After president and co-
good at getting older and a shofar call to con-
front ageism.

e for Us Our Judges of Old


founder — Rabbi Laura Geller, rabbi emerita, Temple
Emanuel of Beverly Hills; co-author, “Getting Good
She Sought Justice for All at Getting Older”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved through her
own incredible life story that nothing stands A Trailblazing Advocate
in the way of those who are determined to I am the first female executive director of
succeed, even if they are from a disadvantaged the Jewish Free Loan Association in its 116-
those memories encourage us to follow in
A Rare Combination of Civility background, or, as was the case during her for- year history because of people like Justice
her way — to love life, and whatever the ob-
stacles, to exert our best efforts to advance
and Intellect mative adult years, a disadvantaged gender. In
1996, she wrote that she was “proud of being a
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spent her life tire-
lessly fighting to ensure equality for all. To-
worthy causes outside ourselves.” Ironi- I wish our public servants would better Jew,” adding that “the demand for justice runs day, millions of women like me benefit from
cally, these words best capture how Justice emulate her rare combination of civility and through the entirety of the Jewish tradition.” her trailblazing work for fair employment
Ginsburg inspired Sharsheret’s community. impassioned intellect. Most famously, this RBG has inspired generations. She had such a practices. We must learn from the strength of
Though cancer took her life, it never defined feat of character appeared in her storied great relationship with her legal nemesis on her convictions and continue to work toward
her. Her dedication to the pursuit of justice friendship with her colleague and ideological the Supreme Court, the late Justice Antonin creating equality for all, while modeling her
and devoted commitment to women and hu- rival, fellow Justice Antonin Scalia. Observ- Scalia. Her greatest quality was that she was dignity and credibility. RBG’s legacy can serve
manity inspire our work. ers often noted her ferocity, particularly on a true mensch. as a guide for everyone and inspire each one
— Jenna Fields, California regional director, women’s and voters’ rights — all the more po- — Rabbi Pini Dunner, Beverly Hills Synagogue of us in our quest to make the world a little
Sharsheret tent for the mildness of her presence and the more just. May her memory be for a blessing.
moderation of her language. At the end of her A Loss That Sparks a Great — Rachel Grose, executive director, Jewish Free
Optimism and Fearlessness life, she emerged as a contemporary hero, em- Awakening Loan Association
I found out that RBG had passed away bodying an Americanized version of Sham- Jewish tradition teaches that when a righ-
just as we started our Rosh Hashanah family mai’s admonition (Avot 1:14-15): “Stick to your teous person, dies, an opening is created for Restore for Us Our Judges
Zoom call. It felt almost like taking a punch to guns; walk the walk; and greet everyone with a moral and spiritual awakening among the of Old
the stomach right at our moment of joy with a friendly disposition.” community of mourners, and even in the Forty-three years ago on my bar mitzvah, I
the new year beginning. While of course her — Joshua Holo, dean of the Hebrew Untion natural world. We pray that Justice Ginsburg’s read the Torah portion Shoftim (Judges), whose
entire life had been dedicated to the pursuit College-Jewish Institute of Religion Jack H. Skirball death, especially in this time of unimaginable opening verse reads, “You shall appoint judg-
of justice, I found her fearlessness over the Campus in Los Angeles and associate professor of loss, especially with the devastating implica- es and officials.”The third verse contains three
Photo by Leslee Komaiko

past four years to be truly awe-inspiring. With Jewish history tions it will likely have for our nation, will in of the Torah’s most famous words: “Tzedek,
everything against her — failing health, a con- fact spark that great awakening. We hold now Tzedek Tirdof — Justice, justice, you shall
servative majority on the bench, ugly public A Resilient, Defiant Trailblazer many layers of grief — first and foremost for pursue.” RBG spent a lifetime following the
discourse — she did not slow down, she did After I emerged from my yontif break from the death of an exceptionally brilliant, fierce Torah’s vision of pursuing justice and creat-
not lose her spirit. In this perilous moment in technology, I read some of the articles on RBG, and courageous Jewish woman, a jurist, a ing a just society. Those famous words were
history, I find comfort in her words from about including those by people who were profes- mother and grandmother, a role model to mil- framed on the wall of her Supreme Court
a year ago: “The progress I have seen in my sionally closest to her, and was struck by what lions, whose steadfast commitment to justice, chambers, and they were etched deeply in
lifetime makes me optimistic for the future.” a woman of few words she was socially. (I equality and basic fairness made this country her heart. As I mourn her loss, I connect to
My hope is that we can carry on with her opti- want to learn from her in this regard, for sure.) and world a better place. And we hold antici- these words even more, as I do to the words
mism and fearlessness. I was reminded how much of her strength as patory grief, as we project the ramifications of recited thrice daily: “Restore for us our judges
— Todd Shotz, executive director and founder, a woman was because of her resilience, her her death and the brazen political maneuver- of old.”
Hebrew Helpers; board co-chair, JQ International defiance and her trailblazing in a field of mi- ings that will likely ensue in her absence. We — Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, Sephardic Educa-
sogynistic men of the legal world who did not must remember: even as we say Mourner’s tional Center and Westwood Village Synagogue

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 33


COMMUNITY

What Ginsburg Meant


The Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel
and Hillel at UCLA Proudly Present to a Jewish UCLA Law
Professor
Black » by Kelly Hartog, Managing Editor

and Jewish IN THE WAKE OF SUPREME COURT


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, social
media has reminded us of how enigmatic
like someone who is carrying the flag
falls and someone has to rush in and
pick up the flag and fill that position,” he

in America
she was. We don’t even bat an eye when said, adding, “that is a duty that not just
we speak of the justice who became a lawyers have but citizens have in terms
pop culture icon and earned the fabulous of achieving a broader notion of justice in
nickname the Notorious RBG. However, she society. I don’t think that law exists simply
was part of a not particularly glamorous to serve the powerful. I think it exists to
profession for those who work in it every day. spread the notion of justice to all people
Thursday, October 1, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM A Jewish professor of constitutional in all situations. That is something she
law, evidence, law of the border and other definitely believed and she connected with
RABBI SANDRA LAWSON legal courses at the UCLA School of Law, Judaism.”
Peter Reich told the Journal that Ginsburg That sentiment resonates with Reich, as
Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life and
Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel at Elon University “was someone who does Ginsburg’s famous
was a model for many quote that she had said
Rabbi Sandra Lawson was ordained by the Reconstructionist Ruth
generations of law Bader before but also used to
Rabbinical College in June 2018. She graduated magna cum laude students and lawyers Ginsburg close her talk in 2001
from Saint Leo University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and — in terms of someone during an address at
holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University. who combined her the National Council
Rabbi Sandra served in the United States Army as a Military Police scholarly precision of Jewish Women titled
person. She later started a personal training business and worked as an Adjunct Instructor with activism for social “Three Brave Jewish
of Sociology at local community colleges. She also served as the Investigative Researcher justice.” Women,” focusing on
for ADL’s Southeast Region, becoming the go-to person on hate groups for southern law Reacting to her Emma Lazarus, Anne
enforcement. She is also a writer for The Forward. Rabbi Sandra’s vision is to help build a more death, Reich said, “It’s Frank and Henrietta
inclusive Jewish community where all are welcomed and diversity is embraced. a huge loss. She was a Szold (founder of
person who spent every Hadassah). The quote
In conversation with day of her working life was: “I am a judge
as though it was her born, raised and proud
last. I feel as though of being a Jew. The
SAMIRA MEHTA

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images


we’ll be missing a demand for justice runs
Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies voice on the court; not through the entirety of
and Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder only a voice of reason the Jewish tradition. I
Samira K. Mehta’s research and teaching focus on the intersections but a voice for various hope that all the years
religion, culture, and gender, including the politics of family life causes.” I have the good fortune
and reproduction in the United States. Her first book, Beyond One of the classes to serve on the bench
Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Blended Family in America (University of North Carolina Reich teaches is U.S. of the Supreme Court
Press, 2018) was a National Jewish book award finalist. Mehta’s current project, God Bless the Constitutional Law for of the United States, I
Pill: Sexuality and Contraception in Tri-Faith America examines the role of Jewish, Catholic, Foreign Lawyers. One will have the strength
and Protestant voices in competing moral logics of contraception, population control, and of Ginsburg’s cases he and courage to remain
eugenics from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Mehta holds degrees from Emory teaches is what Reich steadfast in the service
University, Harvard University, and Swarthmore College. said is probably her of that demand.”
most famous: the 1996 As a member of IKAR,
equality case U.S. v. Virginia that struck Reich has been involved in a slew of social
down the Virginia Military Institute’s justice projects with the community going
Introduction by ban on admitting women, in which she back over a decade and professionally
RABBI AARON LERNER authored the majority opinion. has represented pro bono plaintiffs in
“[Ginsburg] clearly set up a standard for land rights and water rights cases in the
Executive Director, Hillel at UCLA
defining when sex discrimination takes Southwest, particularly involving the cross-
place under the 14th Amendment equal border access to water between the United
protection clause,” Reich said. “This case, States and Mexico. Ginsburg, he said, “has
Registration is free RSVP at uclahillel.org/blackandjewish in a way, was sort of an accumulation of been an inspiration in all of these things.”
the work that she had done as an advocate However, he doesn’t believe all of
Zoom details provided after online registration is confirmed.
for women’s rights and earlier cases Ginsburg’s decisions were uniformly
when she was a lawyer. Equal protection progressive. “I would call her a structuralist
under the law doesn’t just apply to racial with progressive inclinations, by which
minorities; it also applies to women.” I mean she looked to recurring patterns
Reich plans to discuss Ginsburg’s and themes in the Constitution like access
passing with his students. “The way I to justice, the federal-state relationship
look at [her death] is when someone in and equality. She was a careful writer and
the ranks of fighting for justice falls, it’s didn’t overextend herself.” n

34 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


COMMUNITY

Rabbi Takes on County


Over High Holy Days
» by Evan Henerson, Contributing Writer
WHATEVER ELSE MAY TRANSPIRE to demonstrate whether it intends to
during the craziness of 2020, Jewish follow through on its threat to criminalize
Angelenos can be secure in the knowledge the observance of the High Holy Days
that any in-home gatherings they hold at a family’s dinner table or whether its
during the holidays will not be interrupted profoundly disrespectful language was
by raids by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s a mere empty threat. The county must
deputies and subsequent hefty fines in immediately remove all language from
the name of preventing the spread of county policy threatening to police small,
COVID-19. religious gatherings at family homes.”
Could such a scenario have been According to First Liberty Senior Partner
possible? Perhaps not, but a local rabbi was Stephanie Taub, violations of these types of
concerned enough to enlist a well-known orders historically have warranted fines of
legal organization dedicated to religious up to $1,000. Even in the wake of COVID-19,
freedom with an eye toward clarifying however, L.A. County has not been enforcing
the county’s intent and quashing any bans of small gatherings. Taub told the
proposed threat. Journal she did not expect there to be a
crackdown on holiday assembling either.
“That’s what makes this even more
egregious,” Taub said. “Even though they’re

“Our Jewish not enforcing it, they still list it as an


example of prohibited conduct. So along

neighbors are with gathering with friends at the beach,


they list meeting with your extended

strong and resilient family to celebrate the most holy days of


the Jewish calendar.

and simply want to “They haven’t enforced this when they


have had mass protests of 100,000 people

share a table with marching through Hollywood,” she added.


“It just shows a disrespect that they would

their local families single out these Jewish holidays as they


did in this policy.”

during the High Asked for its response to the First


Liberty petition, L.A. County released a

Holidays in peace.” statement emphasizing its commitment


to “protecting the health and safety of its
residents through an unprecedented crisis.
— Stephanie Taub “We recognize that religious services
are central to many of our residents’
Earlier in September, the county had lives, especially in these trying times,”
implemented a coronavirus health order the statement continued, “and religious
that specifically called out having dinner services have been allowed to be held
with extended family and friends “to honor online and outdoors with physical
the high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and distancing and the use of face coverings,
Yom Kippur).” As the holidays approached, and they may continue to be held with
the county changed the language of the those public health safeguards in place.”
order to reference “religious or cultural In a subsequent email to First Liberty,
holidays” instead of calling out the Jewish the county’s legal counsel, Mary Wickham,
observances specifically. addressed Taub’s concern that small, in-
But members of the Jewish community home holiday gatherings might result
still interpreted the order as specifically in raids, fines or other strict measures of
targeting their holiday observances. enforcement.
Agudath Israel California CEO Rabbi “You … have asked whether Los
Yisrael Gelb hired the Texas-based First Angeles County will ‘dispatch Los Angeles
Liberty Institute to file a formal objection County Sheriff’s deputies to the homes
and urge the county to lift the order. The of Jewish families gathered for religious
petition was filed on Sept. 16. meals during the High Holidays inside
The petition stated, in part, “The burden someone’s homes,’ ” Wickham wrote. “The
of this policy is particularly heavy on answer to that question is no.”
members of the Orthodox Jewish tradition. “Our client and the Jewish residents of
… In accordance with millennia-old Los Angeles County can breathe a little
tradition, Rabbi Gelb intends to gather with easier,” Taub said. “Our Jewish neighbors
another family to observe the High Holy are strong and resilient and simply want
Days safely in the host family’s home. Los to share a table with their local families
Angeles County now has the opportunity during the High Holidays in peace.” n

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 35


Dr. Eugene
Rogolsky
June 09,1929 - September 13, 2020

IKAR’s Yizkor
Memorial Garden: A
Space for Memory and
Dr. Eugene Rogolsky was someone who had a passion for
medicine, not only in practicing, but in the teaching as a Keck
Medical Professor and mentoring of other physicians. A pioneer
Community Connection
in the field of HIV healthcare, Dr. Rogolsky never shied away » by Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer
from helping those most marginalized. Rather than turn his back
on those suffering from HIV and AIDS, he became a fighter in
IKAR PUBLISHES A YIZKOR BOOK you’re not touching anything?”
the battle. His compassion and empathy helped those suffering, every year that features members’ stories of The team settled on asking visitors to take
and offered hope when many felt hope was lost. He volunteered loved ones who have died. Reading these re- a stone with them from the entrance and de-
at many healthcare centers and utilized his gift of helping others. flections during Yom Kippur services — along posit it in a mandala’s spiral before they exit.
He was honored for his work many times including The Los An- with the Yizkor service — was a way to con- “When you go to a cemetery, you leave a peb-
geles Jewish Aids Society and AltaMed HIV Services. nect deeply with other IKARites, and to serve ble,” Goldfinger said. “With our stone activity,
In addition to medicine, Gene had an appreciation for the as witnesses to their loss and learn more the idea is to pick one up and carry it through
arts, he had a love for theater and he was a well known art col- about how they became the people they are and put it in a spiral in a sacred community
lector. His gift of about 800 pieces to the USC Fisher Museum of today. of mourners. So even though you didn’t touch
Art was celebrated in 2016 with an amazing exhibit that showed This year, as with everything relating to anyone, you see people mourning with you.”
the High Holy Days in the era of COVID-19, the She added, “The sculptures and mandalas on
his eclectic taste and interest in varied mediums.
space that IKAR carves out for grief had to be the ground do the job of ushering you into the
Friends and family alike would note that Gene always had
rethought. The result is IKAR’s Yizkor Memo- space.”
a twinkle in his eye, and was generous with his appreciation rial Garden, a physical space on IKAR’s patio Hutman said, “We were groping for how
and gratitude to those he held dear. He will be missed by many, off La Cienega Boulevard, with an exhibit that people can be together because it’s been so
and especially by his partner and husband of 28 years, Joseph holds people’s memories and limits the num- painful to mourn in isolation.”
Boutell. ber of visitors at any one time for health and Lebell noted that one guiding idea was the
On June 9, 1929 Eugene Harmon Rogolsky parents, Eva and safety reasons. wall of candles present in many churches.
Israel David Rogolsky, welcomed their son, into their family of IKAR Assistant Rabbi Keilah Lebell, who “You might be completely alone but you light
girls, Lillian (Bickart), Jeanette (Kaufman) and Ann (Lesser). Over created the space with co-chairs and IKAR a candle and see the other candles that are lit
the years, this devoted son was a loving Husband, Brother, Un- members Samara Hutman and Sarah Gold- and know that others have been there,” she
cle, Cousin, friend, and mentor to many. finger, said the goal was to create “a way said. “We are all part of this space together,
for people to come to a physical space and creating connection between community
He is survived by his loving husband Joe Boutell. His many
have a Yizkor moment that didn’t have members.”
loving nieces and nephews, Joan Colman and Eric Colman, Dr.
anything to do with a screen.” On Monday afternoon, the garden was
Martin Lesser and Dr. Linda Ann Groene, Lauren, Max and Ari Feedback from several mourners empty of people, but the breeze carried sounds
Bogren, Madeline and Alek Jeziorek, Steven, Lori, Samantha and shaped a more interactive experience that that you only hear when human voices are ab-
Matthew Lesser, Debbie, Dori, Julia and Elizabeth Nagar, Jeffrey also adhered to safety guidelines. Hutman, sent: air lightly whipping at sheltering tarps,
Debi, David and Jessica Kaufman, in-laws Tina, Harley and who had been a set decorator for years, wind chimes tinkling idiosyncratically, the
Vincent Boutell , first cousins Howard and Elinor Bernstein and suggested a garden, Lebell said, and cre- bubbling fountains creating a spa-like calm.
many members of his extended family and friends. ated “something that’s alive, where people “It is a very holy place,” Hutman said. “I
To donate in his name please donate to Birthright Israel at could visit and spend time there.” Lebell myself have been healed here over the course
https://birthrightisrael.foundation/donate credited Goldfinger for knowing “how to of weeks as we took it from idea to place, to
create sacred space and a sense of beauty.” human space with dimension, and quotidian
“[The experience] had to be something rhythms: pruning the plants and sweeping
touch-free,” Goldfinger said. “How do you the paths; listening to the chimes in the wind;
create a space that feels interactive even if watching fiery skies with worry; welcoming

36 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


COMMUNITY

[the garden is] like a hug.”


Pamela Jacobson, one of the volunteers
who worked to create the space, called it
“incredibly therapeutic after being so iso-
lated for several months. It was an unex-
pectedly powerful and positive experience,”
she said. “Reading the stories, seeing the
images and working with my hands in col-
laboration with others to create something
so beautiful and meaningful was a gift that
brought me a new sense of hope and pos-
Photo courtesy of Samara Hutman sibility.”
Added Hutman, “It is in the symphony
of collected stories and faces, in the aching
tug of loss and the durability of the connec-
tion that remains, that we fully understand
the precious fragility of life and the durable
power of love.”
In keeping with COVID-19 safety guide-
lines, there are sanitizing stations at the
the blue sky and the sun back, and [welcom- entrance and exits, and visitors must wear
ing] purer air back in the last few days.” masks and maintain 10 feet of distance.
At the center of the space, the team in- Only eight people are permitted in the gar-
stalled bulletin boards with 200 photos and den at any one time.
250 written reflections of members’ lost loved “An important facet of the garden is
ones. “We wanted the boards to be the center- the way it has reconstituted, in space and
piece of activity,” Goldfinger said. place, the soul of our community, through
The boards tell stories of parents long the physicalization of our Jewish com-
gone or recently departed; friends tak- mitment to collective memory, grief and
en too soon; beloved grandparents who prayer,” Hutman said. “At a time when we
shared wisdom or took their secrets with are required to be apart, this opportunity to
them; and the children whose heartbreak- gather is a gift for all of us who used our
ing smiles remind you anew of what was hearts and hands to create it, and for all
lost. Together, the words and images begin who will enter and experience it.”
to fill out the contours of community. Be- Seeing my mom in the middle of that

Where do I
cause of these people, we are the people we collage in a bright yellow shirt, smiling,

What
are today. looking slightly off-camera with delight
want to go?
inspires me?
Who
“We were groping for how people can be am I?
together because it’s been so painful to
mourn in isolation.” — Samara Hutman
There’s also an acknowledgment of
more global losses, from the Holocaust to
the COVID-19 pandemic, and the destruc-
tion caused by California’s most recent fires.
By the Monday morning after her passing,
the volunteers had added a section dedi- Find your right direction
on a Gap Year in Israel.
cated to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg.
I took comfort in the silence, and in
knowing no one was pressing me to move
Go to college with confidence in who you are, and
forward. When others arrived, we talked at
a distance, but not in the hushed, reverent upon some grandchild who is just out of purpose to define and achieve your educational goals.
tones of a memorial. We are desperate for frame, I like to imagine that she can see me The essential Israel Gap Year guide
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Jewish Groups Mourn


Ruth Bader Ginsburg
» by Aaron Bandler, Staff Writer
VARIOUS JEWISH GROUPS PAID court for 27 years. May her memory always
homage to the late Supreme Court Justice be a source of blessing.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18 The tweet also featured a cartoon of
at the age of 87 from metastatic pancreatic Ginsburg greeting the late Justice Antonin
cancer. Scalia, who died in 2016. The two had a
Following the news of her death at her close friendship while serving on the high
Washington, D.C., home, Chief Justice John court together.
Roberts said in a statement, “Our nation has J Street tweeted, “If this year has taught
lost a justice of historic stature. We at the us anything, it’s how to mourn as we fight
Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. and fight as we mourn. RBG’s memory
Today we mourn but with confidence that shall be a blessing and her example an
future generations will remember Ruth inspiration as we give our all to defend our
Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and democracy.”

Thanks for Listening


resolute champion of justice.” Jewish Democratic Council of America
The justice became a pop icon and Executive Director Halie Soifer tweeted
earned the nickname the Notorious RBG. that she was “devastated” over Ginsburg’s
“As the sun sets on Rosh Hashanah, death. “#RBG embodied the Jewish value of
we mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tikkun olam & fulfilled the commandment
There’s a wonderful story in Philip Goodman’s “The Rosh Hashanah Anthol-
the first female Jewish SCOTUS Justice,” to pursue justice, which hung in her
ogy”:
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan chambers in Hebrew. May her memory be At the conclusion of the service, the cantor approached Rabbi Vevel,
the maggid of Wilna, to extend New Year greetings and to be complimented
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Berggruen Institute

for the manner in which he led the congregation in prayer.

The rabbi returned the greeting and added:

“She fought fiercely “It says in Pirkei Avot: ‘The world is based on three things: Torah, prayer

and unflinchingly to and deeds of kindness.’ Blessed is our congregation which fulfills these three
requisites. I teach them Torah; you pray for them; and they perform deeds of

advance and defend


kindness by listening to both of us.”

the rights of women


It doesn’t go unnoticed that all of you take many hours over the chagim to
listen to us — your rabbis and cantors, messengers of Torah and messengers of

and minorities.”
prayer. It is with humility in which we offer our gratitude. Thank you for your
trust, loyalty, confidence and partnership.

This year, we endeavor to engage in High Holy Days in ways that feel for-
— Ronald Lauder
eign and strange. Many clergy davening without congregants in the pews;
looking at screens, reaching out to hearts that are miles and miles away. The
journey leading to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 5781 is undoubtedly a
Greenblatt tweeted. “We honor her memory a blessing & may we honor her dying wish.” strange one. And yet, in knowing that we daven together from living rooms
& her words: ‘Fight for the things that you Ginsburg said in a statement to her and backyards all over the world, you give us peace in knowing that we too,
care about, but do it in a way that will lead granddaughter days before her death: are not alone.
others to join you.’ We promise, #RBG.” “My most fervent wish is that I will not be
American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO replaced until a new president is installed.” May this High Holy Days season be one of meaningful prayer, engaging les-
David Harris hailed Ginsburg in a tweet as The Democratic Majority for Israel sons, poignant revelation and strong connections.
“a giant of American jurisprudence, she (DMFI) similarly tweeted, “We will be forever
championed women’s rights & gender grateful for her moral leadership and her
Connection to God, connection to one another and, dare I say, connection
to the internet.
equality. She exemplified courage & fierce advocacy for women’s equality and
conviction throughout her life. We’ll never for justice. This is a profound loss for our
Shanah tovah. Have a healthy and joyous new year.
forget her speeches to @AJCGlobal.” country. May her memory be a blessing.”
His tweet also featured a 1996 New York World Jewish Congress President Ronald
Times adaptation of a speech Ginsburg Lauder called Ginsburg “a trailblazer on be-
gave to the AJC in 1995 in which she said, “I half of gender equality.” His statement went
am a judge born, raised and proud of being on to say, “She paved the way for women
a Jew. The demand for justice runs through in the law and on the courts. She fought
the entirety of the Jewish tradition. I hope fiercely and unflinchingly to advance and
in my years on the bench of the Supreme defend the rights of women and minori-
Court of the United States, I will have the ties, and, in the tradition of Justices Louis D.
strength and courage to remain constant Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo, embodied
in the service of that demand.” the principle of equal justice for all under Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted, the law, as well as the Jewish value of ‘tze-
“We join all Americans in mourning the dek, tzedek, tirdof’ — ‘justice, justice shall
passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth you pursue.’ Her life is a legacy and a tes-
Bader Ginsburg #RBG who brought dignity, tament, and her memory will be a blessing
grace, and brilliance to our Nation’s highest and a lesson forever more.” n

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 39


ART S

Photos by Kevin Parry


Actress Tovah Feldshuh
on Playing RBG and
Meeting the Justice in
Her Chambers
» by Kelly Hartog, Managing Editor
ON SEPT. 18, HOURS AFTER JUSTICE think of on my Steinway, and in my living
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, a memory popped room on my hearth, there are all the pictures
up on my Facebook page. It was a photograph of my family. I don’t claim to be anywhere
I had taken of actress Tovah Feldshuh in the near as extraordinary as Ruth Bader Ginsburg
lobby of the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts but there are certain values that people can
Center in Beverly Hills. The photo was taken share and certain values that people share as Tovah Feldshuh as
after I interviewed Feldshuh on opening night Jews that was clear about her office and was Ruth Bader Ginsburg in
of the West Coast premiere of the play “Sisters clear about my life. It was as if we had come “Sisters in Law.”
in Law” by Jonathan Shapiro — on Sept. 18,
2019.
In it, Feldshuh plays the Notorious RBG op-
posite Stephanie Faracy’s Justice Sandra Day
O’Connor. During that interview, Feldshuh
“I said, ‘Please forgive me. I’m so very moved to meet you, having
told me she was excited because she was go-
ing to meet RBG in her chambers the follow-
spent so much time on you and watching you from afar and with all
ing month. One year later, Feldshuh agreed to
speak about that meeting.
the research I’ve been doing. Seeing you in the flesh is like moving
“Like the country, I was shattered [by Gins-
burg’s death],” Feldshuh said in a phone in-
from a book of illustrations to the real deal.’ ” — Tovah Feldshuh
terview from the Hamptons on Long Island, from the same pod, just a generation apart.” [which] were whatever her roommate from Optional,” which played in New York in Janu-
N.Y. “Obviously, I’m sharing what we all feel — Feldshuh, 66, also recalled when she fi- Cornell [University] had sent her last.” ary and February before COVID-19 shut down
that we’ve lost a humble woman with a great nally met Ginsburg she teared up. “I said, Feldshuh said Ginsburg also spoke about that, too. In that show, she said, “With a wink
sense of profound justice and liberty for all.” ‘Please forgive me. I’m so very moved to the fact that she didn’t have pierced ears, that in my eye, I did a rap as RBG, which is one of
During that 2019 interview at the Wallis, meet you, having spent so much time on she hadn’t cooked since 1980 — that her late the great moments of that concert.”
Feldshuh said, “How do we honor a woman you and watching you from afar and with husband, Marty Ginsburg, was her chef par And, in true Feldshuh style, she broke into
who is soft-spoken, shy, modest and just de- all the research I’ve been doing. Seeing you excellence, and that marrying him was the the rap down the phone, complete with beat-
cent and moral?” It’s something Feldshuh was in the flesh is like moving from a book of luckiest moment of her life. “I also learned she boxing:
deeply concerned about, especially “because illustrations to the real deal.’ ” loved mangos, Granny Smith apples, bananas,
I’m about as shy as a tank coming toward you.” Knowing of the justice’s love of opera, raspberries and strawberries, and that she I’m always optimistic, I never get rattled
It was that tank-like mindset that prompt- Feldshuh went to the Metropolitan Opera didn’t eat ice cream because she didn’t want Each day’s an opportunity to win another
ed Feldshuh to reach out to Ginsburg after she shop and bought Ginsburg a jacket from to digest fat.” battle
landed the role in “Sisters in Law.” ‘Der Rosenkavalier,’ and gave it to her at Feldshuh came to that meeting with Don’t worry about my health, I’m perform-
“I wrote her a very professional loving let- that meeting. “She was thrilled with it,” books for Ginsburg to sign, which she did. She ing at my peak
ter,” Feldshuh said. “I wrote, ‘I know how ex- Feldshuh said, “and told me she was going showed the justice photographs of her grand- You’ll find me on the bench, doing pushups
traordinarily occupied you are with the great to wear it to the opening of the Washington son Raphael. Later, Ginsburg sent Raphael a next week
matters of the United States of America and Opera [season], which she did.” T-shirt that said “Grand Clerk of Justice Ruth
making sure there is justice for all. I, however, So, what did the two women talk about Bader Ginsburg.” According to Twitter I’m notorious
have been given this extraordinary opportu- during that hour in chambers? What stood out most to Feldshuh about I’ve gone viral, ain’t it glorious
nity where I will be playing you. I will be your “We talked about opera and we talked Ginsburg was “that as humble and as quiet as I’ve much in common with B.I.G.
messenger out in the theatrical universe. Is about gender equality,” Feldshuh said. “We she appeared, she was intellectually fierce and We’re homies from Brooklyn, Yo, Jay-Z!
there any way you would meet with me? I just talked about how early in her life she had a not intellectually shy. Ruth was a tiny woman
need to be in the room with you, to have a cel- purpose, and her very intimate relationship but as they say in [Shakespeare’s] ‘A Midsum- “I did what I could to support a great
lular interchange, to take you in.” with her mother and the loss of her mother mer Night’s Dream,’ ‘though she be but little, American soul — a great patriot,” Feldshuh
Ginsburg did indeed respond. “I got an (Ginsburg’s mother died of cancer the day she was fierce.’ She was this voracious learner, said. “I loved her very much and I will miss
email back via her aide,” Feldshuh recalled. It before Ginsburg’s high school graduation), a voracious reader. She entered the minds of her. Considering all the cancer she had, she
said, “ ‘Dear Ms. Feldshuh, I received your love- and [probably] carrying on her mother’s other people the way normal people enter the lived brilliantly and was alert. She never had
ly letter. Please be in my chambers on Oct. 23 torch.” hearts of other people.” dementia. She lived until she died; until she
at 4:30 sharp.’ I just couldn’t believe it.” And although Feldshuh signed a non- On a personal level, Feldshuh said Gins- fell off that cliff. She didn’t diminish except in
It would be the first of at least four occa- disclosure agreement before that meeting, burg “gave me tremendous help in my char- the last weeks.”
sions that Feldshuh spent time with Ginsburg. now that the justice is dead, Feldshuh said acterization of her in “Sisters in Law,” which Despite the great loss of Ginsburg and the
During that first meeting, Feldshuh got to she can talk about “generalities” they dis- was supposed to come to New York but then turmoil now swirling around her potential re-
spend an hour alone with the justice. “Her two cussed, which included “sharing with me COVID happened and that was the end of that placement, Feldshuh said, “I believe in Anne
aides escorted me into this gorgeous mahog- some of the intimate details of her life — for now.” Frank. The world will right itself and this per-
any-paneled room,” Feldshuh recalled, “with the type of perfume she liked, the shampoo However, she has managed to play Gins- son in the White House will be out and we will
all the pictures of her family. And it made me she used, the brands of lipstick she liked burg again in her one-woman show “Aging Is get well again.” n

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 41


Thriller ‘Tehran’
or
su
di

Depicts Dangerous
th

Is

Mossad Mission
pr
lit
am
Zo

Slow down...
Read the Journal.
Inside Iran le
m
hu

» by Gerri Miller, Contributing Writer


NAMED FOR THE IRANIAN CAPITAL price is for trying to break away from them.”
in which it is set, “Tehran” is an edge-of- While it was co-creator Maor Kohn’s origi-

s
the-seat espionage thriller about an Israeli nal idea five years ago, “Everything about Iran
mission to disable a nuclear reactor — a has fascinated me, the ayatollah regime and
task that’s left in the inexperienced hands
of a young Mossad agent and master hacker
the young people who are demonstrating
against the regime in the streets, risking their s
on her first undercover assignment. Things
don’t go according to plan as errors are made
lives,” Zonder said. He endeavored to human-
ize characters like Toub’s security chief Faraz a
and relationships both romantic and famil- Kamali, who has to deal with a personal crisis
ial complicate the operation and raise the as well as a national one. Ta
stakes. “Our biggest challenge was to write the th
From co-creator Moshe Zonder, who Iranian characters; to get under their skin and Sh
wrote the first season of “Fauda,” it stars Niv understand the way they feel, think and act,” da
Sultan in the central role and “Homeland’s” Zonder said. “I was an investigative journal- al
Shaun Toub and Navid Negahban —both ist before I became a screenwriter and it was ta
born in Iran — in supporting roles. The eight- always a challenge for me to cross the border
part Apple TV+ series will premiere three physically and mentally, to learn about my up
episodes on Sept. 25 and one installment per enemy, the one I’ve been told that wants to en
week thereafter. kill me. When we were doing the research se
“Our show is entertaining and full of ac- before writing, we looked at YouTube for ex- ism
tion but we knew that it would be better if ample, and if you put it on mute, they looked im
we [could] integrate the personal side of the Israeli. We are more the same than different.
characters, to make one thing lead to another There are a lot of similarities between us.” in
… [and raise] the stakes to be as high as pos- During their research, he and co-writer w
sible by integrating those two layers,” Zonder Omri Shenhar met and interviewed Mossad ta
told the Journal. “The show is actually about case officers who work counterintelligence la
identity, connection, devotion to your family on Iran’s nuclear program. For obvious rea- in
and your roots and checking out what the sons, they couldn’t go to Tehran at that stage is

42 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020 Se


ARTS

or to shoot the series. Co-creator Dana Eden on working in these kinds of things,” Sultan Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
suggested Athens, Greece, as a stand-in, and said. “I’m hoping to keep on doing things that
director Daniel Syrkin and his team worked interest me and challenge me and make me
their magic. feel alive. I’m hoping for good things to come.”
As for their main character, Iranian-born Zonder’s Polish-born father escaped to Is-
Israeli Tamar Rabinyan, “We wanted our rael in 1935 and his mother, also Polish, moved
protagonist to be a woman. It was a po- to Canada after the war after losing her entire
litical decision to put a young woman, this family in the Holocaust. “She came to Israel
amazing hacker, in this tough macho world,” for a vacation in 1956 and met my father.
Zonder said. They fell in love and she stayed here,” he said.
It’s Sultan’s first international role, and He’s married with two sons, one who recently
learning to speak Farsi and training in the completed his military service and the other,
martial art krav maga were not her only who has just started it.
hurdles. “It’s such a challenging role because Zonder was studying to be a movie and

“She’s not the regular Mossad agent,


saving the day. She’s brave, powerful and
strong, but she’s also afraid and insecure
and she makes mistakes.” — Niv Sultan
Tamar combines so many layers within her,” TV director at the University of Tel Aviv
the actress said. “Her journey is so interesting. when he “realized I was writing the scripts
She’s not the regular Mossad agent, saving the for half of my class,” he said. “I really love to
day. She’s brave, powerful and strong, but she’s direct actors but my heart is in the writing.
also afraid and insecure and she makes mis- I wrote five feature films and then started
takes.” to write TV series.” He’s developing a new
Of Moroccan Jewish heritage, Sultan grew show now and has ideas for a second sea-
up in Jerusalem, where she visits most week- son of “Tehran,” but can’t share any details
ends. “In the middle” between religious and yet about either.
secular, she has a strong connection to Juda- “Tehran” already has aired in Israel, and
ism, her family and her city. “Faith is a very “the reaction was amazing,” Zonder said.
important thing for me,” she said. “Many people saw it and loved it. While it
Although she always dreamed of becom- was airing in Israel, there were mysterious
ing an actress, the Tel Aviv entertainment bombings in Iran. Israel didn’t take respon-
world seemed out of reach. But after her mili- sibility, but everyone was thinking that the
tary service, she moved there to study and Mossad was connected to it.” n
landed TV series roles starting in 2013. She’s
in rehearsals for a new series now. “ ‘Tehran’ “Tehran” premieres on Sept. 25 on Apple
is such an important story and I hope to keep TV+.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 43


ARTS

Albert Dabah Tackles Delicate Family


Material in ‘Extra Innings’
» by Simi Horwitz

WRITER-DIRECTOR ALBERT DABAH idiot savant, he is brilliant in mathematics, unable to know me.” He found it implausible, even though it had
knows he’s treading in delicate territory in classical music, literature and baseball. His Dabah’s father could not reconcile himself actually happened.” In the end, Dabah felt that
“Extra Innings,” an autobiographical debut topics range from Dostoevsky to Ty Cobb. to his son’s love of baseball, early career as a to tell his story the way he wanted, he would
film that dramatizes two family suicides, “Extra Innings” endured 12 revisions over psychotherapist and later his stint as an ac- have to make the film himself.
those of his brother, Morris (Robert Ramos), 20 years. Dabah recalled that in an earlier tor. His son’s disaffection with religion was Asked to what degree he reshaped the
who overdosed on pills, and then five years draft, his Jewish Syrian community was al- further alienation, though Dabah said he very truth in order to make it believable, Dabah
later, his sister Vivian (Mara Kassin), who most a character, clearly defined and vividly much identifies as a Jew. said he changed nothing that was funda-
jumped off a cliff. etched. What now emerges on screen is a At 69, Dabah is mature for a first time film- mentally significant, though he employed
Violating family privacy heads the list of Jewish world but one that is not singularly maker, but he insisted he encountered no age- dramatic license in recounting some of the
challenges Dabah faced, but he felt compelled Syrian. ism. For the past 40-plus years, he has headed more peripheral details. In an effort to hit a
to tell his story nonetheless. The movie was “I wanted the story to be more universal, Simba, his video production company that contemporary note, his late sister’s lover was
not simply a therapeutic outlet for his own but I was also sensitive to Syrian Jews being creates commercials plus educational and portrayed as a woman when in fact it was a
lingering anguish; it also was his way of recog- an intensely private community,” Dabah said. promotional materials, among other services. Black man. Dabah felt the lesbian relation-
nizing and honoring their lives, which seem- “My very religious [surviving] sister who still During the course of his career, he has worked ship would have greater resonance today
ingly were erased almost from the moment lives in that world begged me not to make the with many major names (Meryl Streep, than an interracial love story.
they died. picture. She has seven children and 61 grand- Martin Scorsese) in front of and behind the Dabah would love to write and/or direct
“No one ever talked about them,” Dabah children and was fearful that if the suicides scenes. His experience with casting directors, another film, though at the moment none is
said during a phone conversation from his in our family came to light, her grandchildren for example, showed him what to look for in in the hopper. Recently, he took a life-coach-
New York City home. “It was as if they never would not be viewed as marriageable. Suicide auditioning actors, not least the ability to do ing course, toying with the idea of wearing
existed. I think perhaps I’m the only one who is still that much of a stigma and therefore a scene in more than one way. That was the his therapeutic hat again. His attentions now
ever really knew them, anyway. I had a close not talked about.” stumbling block among the actors he audi- are focused on “Extra Innings” and he hopes
relationship with both.” One major reason for making the film was tioned to play his dad. Even if they resembled that after viewing the film, people are more
Set in the early 1960s in an insular Jewish
Syrian community in Brooklyn, the award-
winning “Extra Innings” is at its core a com-
ing-of-age tale, awash in intergenerational
culture clash. Young David (Aiden Pierce Bren- “I wanted the story to be more universal, but I was also
nan), who attends a religious day school, loves
baseball and has his sights set on a baseball sensitive to Syrian Jews being an intensely private community.
career. But his father (played by Dabah) has lit-
tle tolerance for David’s dreams. His immedi- My very religious [surviving] sister who still lives in that world
ate concern is David’s upcoming bar mitzvah,
and he views baseball as an intrusion. Beyond begged me not to make the picture.” — Albert Dabah
that, he expects David to join the family busi-
ness (though it’s never entirely clear what that to open up the conversation and help lift the him, they didn’t have the acting chops. comfortable talking about mental illness in
is) and marry a Jewish woman. He is not at all stigma. Dabah was careful not to lay blame “Jon Lovett suggested I do it,” Dabah said. general and suicide in particular. It’s not that
pleased with David’s non-Jewish friends (and at anyone’s feet. The family is dysfunctional, “And once I decided I would, I brought on a co- the pain will go away, he stressed.
later, a non-Jewish girlfriend). His mandate is but there are no villains. Even the father, who director [Brian Drillinger]. I didn’t feel I could “There’s no such thing as closure,” he
simple: “You stick to your own kind.” seemingly is the most disconnected, is doing direct myself.” said, debunking the widely held myth. “But I
The family also includes David’s belea- the best he can. Dabah never envisioned himself as a writ- no longer feel guilty for having survived and
guered but empathic mom (Geraldine Singer); “Playing my father did not really change er and director, let alone a co-producer of his having had a good life.” n
a goody two-shoes older sister, Rita (Natasha my view of him, but rather confirmed what I own feature film. But like many new screen-
Coppola-Shalom); Vivian, who is living in Los already knew,” Dabah said. “Yet, when I said writers, he futilely shopped his script around. “Extra Innings” is available on Amazon,
Angeles, a divorced, sexually liberated free the lines to David [the older David is played Responses (from those who bothered to re- iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango, Xbox and
spirit always longing for that elusive love; and, by Alex Walton], as my father said to me, that spond at all) were all over the map. “Typically, InDemand.
most centrally, Morris, a lethargic round man he would disown me if I married my Chris- they wanted me to tell a whole different story
who speaks in a drone when he speaks at all. tian girlfriend, I broke down all over again. I — their story,” Dabah said. “One well-known Simi Horwitz is an award-winning feature
A diagnosed schizophrenic and arguably an was sad for me but also sad for him. He was distributor was turned off by the two suicides. writer and film reviewer.

44 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


BOOK REVIEW

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN GUARAN- of state was (and is) the head of the Church of The defense of freedom of religion fell to religious symbol would feel that it was not
teed the freedom of religion under the First England. As recently as 1986, they point out, Ginsburg and her fellow separationists, who ‘their’ city government.”
Amendment for more than two centuries, the Supreme Court ruled that an Orthodox were always in the minority. “By maintain- To their credit, the authors are plain-
but it’s not a right that we can or should take Jewish psychiatrist who worked for the U.S. ing the Peace Cross on a public highway, the spoken about their own values and aspira-
for granted. Air Force “was required to abide by its uni- [government] elevates Christianity over other tions. The First Amendment, they declare,
That’s the alarming message in “The form dress requirements even though that faiths, and religion over nonreligion,” she “was meant to create a wall that separates
Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating meant he could not wear a yarmulke while wrote in one of the dissents
Church and State” by Howard Gillman and on duty at a military hospital.” for which she is celebrated.
Erwin Chemerinsky, which is the latest title So, the authors find themselves compelled “Memorializing the service of
in the “Inalienable Rights Series” from Ox- by the facts of history to point out that “[v]ir- American soldiers is an ‘ad-
ford University Press. They argue that the tually every recent Supreme Court case about mirable and unquestionably
conservative majority on the Supreme Court the Religion Clauses has involved whether secular’ objective. But the
already has signaled that they “reject the the government can accommodate Christi- [government] does not serve
idea of a wall separating church and state,” anity” — and the answer has been “yes.” But that objective by displaying a
and the authors point out that a tireless when it comes to non-Christian religions, the symbol that bears a ‘starkly

Watching the Wall


Between Church and
State Crumble
» by Jonathan Kirsch
champion of freedom of religion under the high court has rejected legal arguments based sectarian message.’ ”
First Amendment was the beloved dissenter, on the First Amendment. Thus, for example, In a rare moment of per-
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. “the five most conservative justices rejected sonal testimony, the authors
18 from complications of pancreatic cancer. a challenge based on the Religion Clauses” by attest to impact these cases
The freedom of religion in the First upholding President Donald Trump’s travel have on Jewish citizens of
Amendment actually consists of two sepa- ban “even though he repeatedly declared that the United States and, at the
rate principles. The so-called “Establishment his goal was to prevent Muslims from enter- same time, they anticipate
Clause” addresses what the government can ing the country.” and rebut any argument that
and cannot do when it comes to supporting The dismantling of the wall between separationists are necessarily hostile to reli- church and state.” For that reason, “prayer
religion, and the “Free Exercise Clause” ad- church and state by the Supreme Court has gion. should not be part of government activi-
dresses what the government can and can- required some strange moral and intellectual “Both of us grew up mindful that we were ties, religious symbols do not belong on
not do when it comes to limiting religion. contortions. When the court ruled in 2019 Jewish in a Christian-dominated political sys- government property, and the government
Jurists and commentators who are willing to that a 40-foot cross on a war memorial stand- tem and we believed we were as entitled to should be very limited in its ability to give
dismantle the wall between church and state aid directly to religious institutions.” At
are called “accommodationists,” and those the same time, “the government can make
who seek to keep the wall intact are called sure that women have access to contra-
“separationists.” ception and that anti-discrimination laws
Hill and Chemerinsky declare from the
outset of their provocative and deeply well- The authors do not engage in special are enforced,” both of which are issues on
which recent Supreme Court cases — Hob-
informed book that they are separationists.
“Under this view, the government should pleading for the impact of the First by Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop — “were
wrongly decided.”
be secular; the place for religion is in people’s
lives, their homes, and their places of wor- Amendment on Jews, but everything Among their many other credentials and
achievements, Gillman is chancellor of UC
ship,” they write. “We are convinced … that
those who drafted the Constitution, including they write about the freedom of religion Irvine and Chemerinsky is the dean of the
law school at UC Berkeley. Yet they have
the Bill of Rights, overwhelmingly wanted a
secular government.” in America has a special resonance for successfully navigated between scholar-
ship and advocacy in “The Religion Clauses,”
As distinguished scholars — Gillman is a
political scientist and Chemerinsky is a con- the Jewish reader. which serves as a short course in the con-
stitutional underpinnings of freedom of
stitutional law scholar — the authors do not religion and, at the same time, as an acces-
engage in special pleading for the impact of ing on public property in Maryland was not the government’s respect as those who had sible and persuasive argument that, when it
the First Amendment on Jews, but everything a violation of the Establishment Clause, Jus- their Christmas holidays formally recog- comes to the proposition that government
they write about the freedom of religion in tice Samuel Alito argued that that “the cross nized in our school’s calendar, even though must not make any law that impinges upon
America has a special resonance for the Jew- has taken on a secular meaning,” and yet he our Jewish holidays were not,” write Gillman freedom of religion, no law means no law. n
ish reader. Even in a liberal democracy like also argued that removing the cross “would and Chemerinsky. “If there were a large Latin
England, a practicing Jew could not sit in Par- be perceived as hostility to religion,” which cross atop a city hall, those who were not Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing at-
liament until 1858 and, even then, the head would violate the Free Exercise Clause. part of religions that accept the cross as a torney, is the book editor of the Jewish Journal.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 45


WHAT ’ S HAP P E N I N G

Yom Kippur Services, Kever Avot, Sukkot Event


» by Ryan Torok, Contributing Writer
Rebecca
FRI SEPT 25 Guber
SHABBAT SHUVAH SUN SEPT 27
Young adult community NuRoots HIGHER HOLIDAYS
celebrates Shabbat Shuvah at its virtual Organized by Hillel and Reboot, “The
Shabbat table, reflecting on how you may Highest Kol Nidre” features a musical
have missed the mark this year and how performance by Broadway actor Adam
you may improve. Join members in rituals Kantor, plus actor Danny Burstein
and in breakout rooms on Zoom. 5 p.m. delivering a dramatic reading of the Kol
$30. nuroots.org/awe. Nidre text in English, with instrumental
sounds by company members from the
ART IN TIME OF CRISIS award-winning musical “The Band’s
Asylum Arts founder Rebecca Guber Visit.” Also includes Iraqi-Israeli actor-
talks about the challenges of creating art singer Sharone Sayegh, a presentation
in a time of worldwide crisis. She is joined by Rabbi Jessica Kirschner and poetry
by cartoonist Chari Pere in an interview by Blavity’s Aaron Samuels. 2:30 p.m.
and 5:30 p.m. higherholidays.org/kol-
nidre.

SUN SEPT 27 Adam Kantor

‘DAYS OF AWESOME’
“Days of Awesome” is the name of Pico Shul’s High Holy with Rotem Rozental of American Jewish executive director of the Equal Justice
Days services for millennials. Husband and wife Rabbi University. 9:30 a.m. aju.edu. Initiative. IKAR and the Jewish Emergent
Yonah Bookstein and rebbetzin Rachel Bookstein hold Network team for afternoon programming.
Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services together with Cantors SUN SEPT 27 6 p.m. Kol Nidre; 10 a.m. Yom Kippur; 12:30
Yehuda Prero and Tuli Skaist. The in-person garden KEVER AVOT SERVICE p.m. Yizkor; 6:15 p.m. Neilah. ikar-la.org.
services comply with health and rabbinic guidelines. Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary
6 p.m. Kol Nidre; 8:45 a.m. Yom Kippur morning service holds a Kever Avot service led by Temple KOL NIDRE, YOM KIPPUR
and Yizkor; 4 p.m. Mincha (first come, first served); 5:30 Israel of Hollywood Rabbi Calvin Dox- Beth Ohr welcomes members and
p.m. Neilah (first come, first served). Individually wrapped DaCosta, cantorial soloist Shelly Fox, Temple visitors to Kol Nidre services and to four
break-fast items provided. Register at daysofawesome.org. Judea Rabbi-Cantor Alison Wissot and others. events on Yom Kippur with Rabbi Haim
9 a.m. hillsidememorial.org/kever-avot. Beliak and cantorial soloist Andrew Henry.
Separate tickets ($40) are required for
IKAR FREE SERVICES most services. 7:30 p.m. Kol Nidre. For Yom
IKAR’s free and virtual High Holy Day Kippur: 10 a.m. morning service; 3 p.m.
services include Kol Nidre, featuring study and community discussion; 4 p.m.
Chazzan Hillel Tigay’s traditional and not- Yizkor; 4:30 p.m. closing service and virtual
break-fast. bethohr.ontrapages.com.
Bryan
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS’
Stevenson
YOM KIPPUR
Sinai Temple’s Atid group for young
professionals in their 20s and 30s holds
Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services. 6:30-
8:30 p.m. Kol Nidre. Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.
Atid service; 10 a.m. Torah in the Round
service; 10 a.m. family minyan; 11 a.m.
Ziegler Sanctuary service; 1:30-4 p.m.
yoga, meditation, reflection and learning
so-traditional melodies and Rabbi Sharon for young professionals via Zoom; 5-7 p.m.
Brous’ sermon, designed to stretch hearts. Neilah/Havdalah. Email atid@sinaitemple.
On Yom Kippur, the morning service org with questions. For more information, visit
features Bryan Stevenson, founder and atidla.com.

Have an event coming up?


Send your information two weeks prior to the event to
ryant@jewishjournal.com for consideration. For groups
staging an event that requires an RSVP, please submit details
about the event the week before the RSVP deadline.

46 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


MON SEPT 28
‘UNSPOKEN TRUTHS’
Pico Union Project holds two
conversations. In “What’s the
Issue?” Fernando Guerra, director
of the Center for the Study of Los
Angeles, and Jessica Levinson of
the Loyola Law School examine
ballot measures that will
shape Los Angeles in the years
ahead, with Stuart K. Robinson
moderating. In “My Song — The
Art of Art,” musicians Peter
Yarrow, Chava Mirel, Dave Koz
and Gabriel Mann join founder
Craig Taubman. 12:30 p.m. and
2:30 p.m. picounionproject.org/
truths.

MON SEPT 28 audacious hospitality for the Union of Reform


NAVIGATING IDENTITIES Judaism, and Emiliana Guereca, executive
Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills continues director of the Women’s March Los Angeles,
its annual tradition of holding in-depth join Bassin in tackling the quetions, “What are
conversations on contemporary issues. This the common joys, challenges and experiences
of Jews of color? What are the barriers facing
Rabbi Jewish people who are not white?” 2:45 p.m. at
Sarah facebook.com/templeemanuel.
Bassin
TUE SEPT 29 THU OCT 1
CENSORSHIP IN THE ISRAELI ART ‘OFFICIAL UNOFFICIAL
WORLD VOTING STATION’
Israeli artist and gallery curator Abraham The new virtual exhibition
Kritzman in conversation with Rotem “The Official Unofficial Voting
Rozental of American Jewish University about Station” begins a two-month
“Free Speech and Censorship in Israel’s Art run at the Skirball Cultural
World.” 11 a.m. aju.edu. Center. The exhibition imagines
an idealized online polling
WED SEPT 30 place. skirball.org.
‘CONDITIONAL CITIZENS’
Moroccan immigrant Laila Lalami, a
Pulitzer Prize in fiction finalist, talks about
marginalized groups and her new book,
“Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in
America,” with Black Southern writer Kiese
Laymon. 7:30 p.m. skirball.org.

THU OCT 1
GAMES FOR THE SUKKAH
year, the discussion is held virtually with Stacy Katz, co-inventor of the family card
Rabbi Sarah Bassin moderating “Multiple game “Not Parent Approved,” talks to Rabbi
Identities: Navigating Jewish Spaces as a Sherre Hirsch of American Jewish University
Person of Color and Minority Spaces as a about suggested games for the sukkah during
Jew.” April Baskin, former vice president of Sukkot. Noon. aju.edu.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 47


FOR MANY JEWISH ELDERS, FASTING
on Yom Kippur is a religious and cultural
imperative as well as a lifelong tradition.
In fact, many seniors who may not be

Yom Kippur Fasting


traditional in other ways continue the
practice of abstaining from all food on this
holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of
Atonement.
But is it safe for seniors to fast? And

Expectations for Seniors


what does Judaism have to say for those
whose health issues may make fasting
dangerous?
Perhaps not surprisingly, Jewish law
directs sick people to consult a physician.
The priority is always to err on the side
Photo vy Adene Sanchez/Getty Images

» by Dana Gitell, Hebrew SeniorLife of health. For example, if a patient feels


well enough to fast but their physician
disagrees, the patient is directed by Jewish
law to skip the fast. Conversely, if a patient
does not feel well enough to fast but their
physician believes they are healthy enough
to do so, again the patient is instructed
not to fast. Jewish law also offers that
those who need to eat for health reasons

48 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


50 PLUS

may observe the fast by eating in small fluid intake, blood pressure medication and renewal. It’s a time to focus on the Hearts, Who Nurtures Every Living Being:
quantities throughout the day, rather than may need adjustment. Going off these meaning of life — to open up your heart As You know, dear God,
traditional meals. medicines suddenly can be dangerous, so to new possibilities — and set personal Yom Kippur is here,
But even the small-snacks route can consult a professional first. goals for the year ahead.” and I am not able to keep the traditional
cause problems for seniors with certain “Even if you are older, fasting can be This reflection can be achieved in fast — I cannot abstain totally from eating.
health conditions. Dr. Jennifer Rhodes- done safely if it is important to you,” many personal ways beyond the realm On this Day of Atonement, this Sabbath
Kropf, a Hebrew SeniorLife staff geriatrician Rhodes-Kropf said. “The key is making of food, including attending religious of Sabbaths, this year and every year,
and assistant professor of medicine at the decision thoughtfully, considering services, reading reflective texts and it is so central to join the people of
Harvard Medical School, encourages all one’s medical conditions and doctor’s contemplation. “Fasting does not define Israel
seniors to consult a physician before any advice.” Yom Kippur,” she said. in abstaining from food and drink for
fast — especially those with the following Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, director To help nonfasters put their eating one day and to focus on correcting our
specific medical issues: misdeeds,
• Diabetes: “If someone has diabetes on knowing our mortality;
and they are on diabetes medication, they on reaching for a life of Torah, mitzvot and

Is it safe for seniors to fast? And what


absolutely should talk to their physician lovingkindness.
about whether and how to fast safely,” You know, dear God, that it is not my
Rhodes-Kropf said. Taking the usual
medication without eating can induce does Judaism have to say for those intent
to be apart from our people and our
hypoglycemia, a condition in which blood
glucose levels become dangerously low. whose health issues may make fasting tradition.
My current state of health makes it
• Chronic pain: There are certain
pain medications, like nonsteroidal dangerous? unsuitable for me to fast.
So, dear God, I turn to You now in
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and sincerity and openness:
narcotics, that are advisable to take only of spiritual care for Hebrew SeniorLife, in context with the purpose of the day, Help me in the coming year to do my
with a full stomach. NSAIDs include adds there are many ways for seniors to Paasche-Orlow offers a prayer for the best in guarding my health.
common drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and have a meaningful Yom Kippur, fasting holiday, “Before Yom Kippur for One Who I thank You for the breath that is in me
naproxen. or not. “The obligation to fast is about Cannot Fast,” for those who cannot fast as May my eating be as a fast;
• Dizziness: For most seniors, Rhodes- inflicting your soul,” she explained. a possible meditation: May it be dedicated to You, to teshuvah —
Kropf recommends some level of hydration. “While some suffering is intended, the renewal and return. n
Insufficient fluid intake increases the risk idea is to put aside worldly pleasures Ribbono shel Olam / Master of the
of dizziness and falling. during this day such that you can reflect Universe; Creator of All, Source of All Life, A version of this story appeared on
• Hypertension: If you are reducing your on the themes of Yom Kippur: repentance Who Knows What is Deep in Human hebrewseniorlife.org in September 2014.

Senators Assemblymembers
Ben Allen Rebecca Bauer-Kahan
Steven Glazer Richard Bloom
Bob Hertzberg Marc Berman
Hannah-Beth Jackson Laura Friedman
Susan Rubio Jesse Gabriel
Henry Stern Marc Levine
Scott Wiener Jose Medina
Adrin Nazarian
Blanca Rubio

Wishing you and your family a healthy and sweet New Year! Shana Tova!
Senator Ben Allen, Chair
and
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Vice Chair
Paid for by the California Jewish Legislative Caucus Leadership Foundation

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 49


L’SHANA
TOVA

Photo by Natalie Board / EyeEm/Getty Images


Wishing you and your
family a happy and
healthy new year!
Jewish Programming
Innovations — for
(and by) Seniors
» by Julie Wiener
AS BABY BOOMERS AGE, SENIOR you need to be a member of one of the syna-
programming, services and care are evolving gogues,” Geller said. “We’re discovering that
— leveraging technology and adapting to the people who would have left the synagogue
needs and interests of older adults. Many new are staying and others are joining a synagogue
programs are being piloted and developed by because they want to be part of the village.”
seniors themselves. Here are some pioneering To join ChaiVillageLA, individuals pay an-
programs being modeled in the Jewish world. nual dues plus synagogue membership and
commit to doing four hours of community
ChaiVillageLA (Los Angeles) service a month, anything from taking an-
Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (Reform) other member to the doctor, to tutoring with
and Temple Isaiah (Conservative) once saw a literacy organization, to volunteering at one
each other as competitors for members. Now, of the synagogues.
while each synagogue remains independent, ChaiVillageLA leaders already are work-
the two share a “village.” ing with four synagogues in the Los Angeles
With 230 members between the ages of 60 suburbs to help them plan their own villages

MONICA ANDRIACCHI, AU.D. and 92, ChaiVillageLA is the first synagogue-


based member of the Village to Village Net-
and are exploring the possibility of creating a
national network of synagogue-based villages.

Doctor of Audiology work, a nonprofit supporting these grassroots


intentional communities for older adults, in
“We’re not looking to expand ChaiVillageLA
but to offer the model to other synagogues,”
which members provide services for one an- Geller said.
The House Institute Hearing Aid Centers is dedicated other, such as helping with household chores
or running errands, and get together for LGBTQ Seniors Initiative
to providing hearing health care solutions custom-suited shared activities, such as excursions to muse- (Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston)
for your individual needs. ums, art classes and book clubs. Among the souvenirs circulating at the
Villages, which proponents say reduce Boston Pride Parade in 2018 were hundreds of
loneliness and make it easier for members to handmade rainbow-colored potholders, each

Call (424) 272-7480


continue living independently at home, are one with a label that said, “Made with Pride
becoming increasingly popular; as of 2019, the at Hebrew SeniorLife.” And each of the nine
Village to Village Network reported the exis- long-term care facilities in this Harvard-affil-
to schedule an appointment. tence of 240 open villages and more than 100 iated, Boston-area senior care network, which
in development in 41 states and Washington, serves more than 3,000 (mostly Jewish) clients,
D.C. has a rainbow banner displayed outside.
Rabbi Laura Geller, rabbi emeritus of Tem- The message, reinforced by the extensive
ple Emanuel and co-author of “Getting Good training chaplains and staff there now un-
at Getting Older,” was inspired to launch dergo: LGBTQ seniors are welcome and sup-
ChaiVillageLA not just because it filled a need ported.
for a demographic the Jewish community has “I’ve literally had someone look at the ban-
2825 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 103, Santa Monica, CA 90404 long neglected — older adults who are retired ner and then say, ‘Oh, I thought I was going
but still healthy and active — but because she to have to be closeted here,’ ” said Rabbi Sara
househearing.com believed it would strengthen synagogues. Paasche-Orlow, Hebrew SeniorLife’s director of
“In order to be a member of ChaiVillage, spiritual care, who began the LGBTQ Seniors

50 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


50 PLUS
Zoom into Shabbat with Lev
Initiative. about this demographic and how Jewish insti-
Hebrew SeniorLife also has a chaplain tutions can serve them. Saturday, October 3 at 10:00am
dedicated to issues related to the LGBTQ com- First, the network commissioned a land-
munity, provides training for other senior care mark study of Jewish grandparents of children Join Lev Eisha for an interactive,
institutions, and offers various programs to 18 and under, which, according to Hendler,
promote LGBTQ awareness and sensitivity found that “transmitting Jewish traditions
virtual Shabbat service via Zoom
among residents of its facilities. The staff learn matters” to Jewish grandparents, but they with Rabbi Toba August and
to be sensitive to some of the unique challeng- don’t always have the tools or know-how to Cantorial Soloist Cindy Paley. We
es LGBTQ seniors may face. Many have linger- do so.
ing trauma from earlier in their lives, such as Hendler and Raphael have been meeting can’t wait to “see” you there!
experiencing police brutality at gay bars or with a range of Jewish institutions, including
having their children taken away from them the Jewish Community Centers Association
All are welcome; please
because of their sexuality, Paasche-Orlow said. of North America, to help them better engage visit www.leveisha.org to join.
The heightened sensitivity paid off when a Jewish grandparents. That involves everything
male resident arrived and staff found several from making sure they’re offering relevant,
articles of women’s clothing in his suitcase. appealing programs to ensuring that grand-
Whereas “in the past that might have resulted parents feel welcome and are represented on
in the staff giggling about him or maybe taking institutional websites.
those clothes away,” this discovery prompted The two also are engaging StoryCorps, a

ROSNER’S DOMAIN
an open conversation about the man’s iden- nonprofit focused on collecting, sharing and
tity, Paasche-Orlow said, and “between then preserving stories, for help in developing tools
and when he died, he was able to live out his to make it easier for Jewish grandparents to
orientation.” pass on family stories.
“Jewish grandparents matter in family life
‘Experience stations’ for dementia today,” said Hendler, herself a grandmother of
patients (San Francisco Campus for six. “And we need to pay attention to that.”
Jewish Living)
The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Liv- Wise Aging (national)
ing (SFCJL, formerly the Jewish Home), a non- Life doesn’t come with an instruction man- ON THE U.S., ISRAEL, THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE JEWISH WORLD
profit providing long-term residential and ual, but maybe the last third of it does: Linda
short-term rehabilitation care for older adults, Thal and Rabbi Rachel Cowan’s 2015 book,
is developing several “experience stations” — “Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, and
sophisticated virtual reality booths — where Spirit,” which offers a variety of tools, many
jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain
residents with dementia will be able to do of them Jewish, to navigate the spiritual and

“Jewish grandparents matter in family


Need Expensive Dentistry
life today. And we need to pay attention but Cannot affort it?
to that.” — Lee M. Hendler
a variety of things, from playing games to emotional challenges of aging. These include
spending time in simulated pleasant environ- journaling exercises, meditations and other
ments to visiting special places from earlier in activities focused on topics like forgiveness, WE CAN HELP
their lives.
The main goals, said Robert Sarison, SFCJL’s
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YOU !
director of campus programs, are to “improve concerns such as “legacy and stewardship.” BEFORE
quality of life” and provide greater cognitive It’s become the curriculum and founda-
stimulation. He said, “People with dementia tion for Wise Aging workshops throughout
are still capable of learning new things,” add- the United States, many in synagogues or Jew-
ing that mastering a new tool, such as a virtual ish Community Centers, and more than 500
reality game, can be empowering. people have trained to facilitate Wise Aging
groups — some of which meet for eight ses-
Jewish Grandparents Network sions, while others last for years. Participants
(national)
Lee M. Hendler calls grandparents the
are mostly between the ages of 65 and 85.
“While we’re not trying to have a Pollyana- UP TO
“ghosts of the Jewish world.”
For decades, the Jewish community has
ish perspective, we are seeing that [this age]
can be an interesting, challenging and growth-
AFTER 60% OFF
focused obsessively on engaging almost every ful period,” Thal said. “There are developmen-
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In fact, Jewish grandparents often play a lead the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, un-
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critical role in families, with their working der which Wise Aging was launched, died in
children frequently turning to them for child 2018. n
attending academic programs. All programs are supervised by highly skilled
care and financial assistance. So in 2017, Hen- faculty with the assistance of Dr. Bruce J. Crispin, Professor Emeritus, UCLA
dler and her friend David Raphael created the A version of this story appeared on myjewishle- School of Dentistry.
Jewish Grandparents Network to learn more arning.com. 18981 VENTURA BLVD. SUITE 300 TARZANA, CA 91356 -WWW.ESTHETICPROFESSIONALS.COM

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 51


L’SHANA TOVA FROM ALL OF US AT
VALLEY VISTA SENIOR LIVING

WISHING YOU AND YOUR


FAMILY A HAPPY AND
HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

How Seniors
Can Celebrate
Jewish Holidays
Safely in 2020
Valley Vista Senior Living wants to celebrate by
offering you $3,000 in savings applied toward your
first 90 days of residency. Our state-of-the-art
community proudly offers a full suite of senior living
options, including Assisted Living and Memory Care, » by Jewish Family Home Care
in Van Nuys, California.

Call us today at (818) 906-4400 to schedule


a virtual tour, or come see us at our outdoor
Visitor Veranda!

WITH THE HIGH HOLY DAYS UPON • Challah with honey


us and safer-at-home orders still in place, • Fish
many are wondering how they can cel- • Chicken
ebrate the fall holidays with their families. After fasting, a break-fast meal often
The truth is seniors and their loved ones includes (but is not limited to):
still should be able to look forward to cel- • Kugel, eggs
ebrating all the Jewish holidays while keep- • Cheese
ing everyone safe. • Quiches
Seniors and their loved ones can cel- • Bagels
ebrate by:
• Social distancing Sukkot
• Wearing their masks Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles,
• Communicating via video calls
• Getting tested before gathering
• Limiting the gatherings to 10 or fewer
family members and friends
Let’s explore the holidays at hand and
start planning all the activities that still can
be enjoyed at home while social distancing
and following city, county and state orders.
Photo by fizkes/Getty Images

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atone-
Assisted Living and Memory Care ment, begins on the evening of Sept. 27 and
ends the following evening. The highest of
the holy days, it is a time for self-reflection
spent in prayer and fasting to begin the
new year with a clear conscience.
7040 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91405 The holiday traditionally features a begins Friday evening, Oct. 2, and concludes
(818) 906-4400 | valleyvistaseniorliving.com pre-fasting meal, with foods that include on the evening of Oct. 9. It is traditionally fol-
License #197609969 (among others): lowed by Shemini Atzeret (Oct. 10) and Sim-
• Stuffed dumplings chat Torah (Oct. 11).
• Rice The holiday commemorates the He-

52 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020


50 PLUS

Now accepting
new residents!
We know there’s a lot going on. Now, more
than ever, we are here for you. As your trusted
partner in senior living, we have extensive
resources to help you plan ahead.

With Leisure Care’s nearly 50 years of


experience providing exceptional senior
living, we’re ready when you need us.

Call (747) 900-2043 to schedule your virtual tour.

Photo by tovfla/Getty Images

brews’ trek in the Sinai before entering the together, seniors also can share family sto-
Promised Land and serves as a celebration of ries of past holidays and even reminisce
the fall harvest. Sukkot features the building about their own childhood when they
of a sukkah, which can be a perfect activity learned the traditions, as well as enjoying
for families to come together and decorate. the foods prepared and the symbolism be-
hind them.
Celebrating Safely During In situations where seniors are unable
the Pandemic to join family members, video conferenc-
The traditional activities of the holi- ing is a great way to share holiday tradi-
days can continue at home, such as the tions with them. They can prepare the
preparation and cooking of traditional foods and guide young ones, who can fol-
meals, which can be enjoyed with imme- low along in their own homes.
diate family and even close friends. In any instance, families can enjoy

In situations where seniors are


unable to join family members, video
conferencing is a great way to share
holiday traditions with them.
It’s More Than Retirement. It’s Five-Star Fun.
Social distancing should be practiced, reading from the Torah and joining in
protecting seniors from virius infection prayer together, as well as carrying on
8138 Woodlake Ave • West Hills
while allowing them to enjoy the holiday family traditions during Yom Kippur and
traditions with family. Sukkot. n (747) 900-2043 • FairwindsWestHills.com
In fact, older family members likely
would enjoy teaching traditional recipes to A version of this story appeared earlier this
younger family members. During the time month on jfcares.org.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 53


Under existing law, the County of Los Angeles or another
regional entity could raise the Beverly Hills sales tax rate
and collect that incremental revenue. Measure RP ensures
any new sales tax revenue would remain in Beverly Hills
under local control.

DOES MEASURE RP INCREASE TAXES?


Measure RP does not raise taxes unless the County or
another entity imposes an increase to the sales tax.
Measure RP would then be imposed to capture that
revenue for use in Beverly Hills.

HOW WOULD MEASURE RP IMPACT BEVERLY HILLS?


If approved by a majority of Beverly Hills voters, Measure RP would prevent
the loss of local sales tax revenue to regional control and instead retain this
funding for local use under local control.

For more information, please visit beverlyhills.org/measureRP.


J O N AT H A N F O N G S T Y L E

Break the Fast


with Jonah and
the Whale
If y
pro ou ma
ject
, w ke thi
Pos to see e’d lov s

Placemats
t it e
me n soo it!
d c
#JJc ia with ial
raft
s

» by Jonathan Fong
AFTER READING THE STORY OF JONAH ON YOM KIPPUR,
what better way to break the fast than with a meal featur-
ing these Jonah and the Whale placemats?
For this project, I used a drawing of Jonah that I created
for a Jonah and the Whale tissue box a few years ago. You
can download that, draw your own Jonah or substitute
photos of family members so they can be in the belly of
the whale. My favorite part of the placemat is the blow-
hole for the napkin. n

What you’ll need:


Blue construction or poster Glue stick
paper Scissors
White paper

1. Start with a large sheet of blue construction paper or 2. Cut a whale shape out of the paper. You don’t have 3. With the excess paper you cut off, fashion a tail and
poster paper. Mine was 12 inches by 18 inches. to be anatomically correct. Just make a rectangle with attach it to the shorter end of the whale with a glue stick.
rounded corners with one side taller than the other.

4. Cut out an eye and mouth from a white sheet of pa- 5. With the rest of your white piece of paper, cut out an 6. Cut a slit at the top of the whale for the blowhole and
per and glue it to the front of the whale. You also can draw oval shape for the belly and glue it to the middle of the insert a napkin through the opening.
them. whale. Add a drawing of Jonah to the belly.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 55


O B I T UAR I E S

Annette Barnett died Sept. 3 at 94. Sur- David Hirsch died Sept. 12 at 99. Sur- Daniel (Jaymie); stepsons Brad (Shawn) Al- Survived by daughter Sheryl; son Michael; 2
vived by daughters Wendy (Sid) Engel, vived by daughter Susan; sons Robert, Mi- lan, Gregory Phillip Meinhardt; 11 grand- grandchildren. Mount Sinai
Laurell (James Kelty); 1 grandchild; 1 great- chael. Malinow and Silverman children; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Si- Irene S. Stein died Sept. 15 at 98. Sur-
grandchild. Mount Sinai Melvin Kahn died Sept. 14 at 84. Sur- nai vived by daughter Joyce (Richard) Stern; son
Faye Finegood Delson died March 27 vived by daughter Tamara (Michael) Katz; Joshua T. Nimoy died Sept. 4 at 41. Sur- Howard; stepson Joe (Kerri); 1 grandchild; 4
at 93. Survived by daughter Cindy Baron; son Andrew; 1 grandchild. Mount Sinai vived by mother Marijo; father Joseph; great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai
son Kevin (Diane); 5 grandchildren; sister Mark Kushnir died Aug. 26 at 82. Survived brother Marc (Rebecca). Mount Sinai Phyllis Turbow died Sept. 14 at 86. Sur-
Esther Cardinale; brother Samuel (Susan) by daughter Diana (Fima Smelchanskiy); son Enayat Norouzi died Aug. 19 at 89. Sur- vived by husband Bernard; daughter Ellen
Finegood. Chevra Kadisha Yuriy (Helen Moshkovich); 3 grandchildren. vived by wife Mahin; sons Kamyar, Ray; 1 Turbow Parr; sons David (Brianna); Steven; 6
Thalia Garin Faye died Sept. 12 at Chevra Kadisha grandchild; sisters Farogh, Farah, Parvin; grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; brother
82. Survived by son Scott (Ilise); 3 grand- Howard M. Leeds died Sept. 5 at 84. Sur- brothers Bahman, Fred, Hosang, Cirus. Bruce (Beverly) Young. Malinow and Silverman
children; sister Nurit (Benjamin) Herkovitz; vived by wife Elena; sons Jeffrey, Scott; 2 Chevra Kadisha Ruth Waller died Sept. 11 at 89. Survived
brother Avraham (Judith) Garin. Mount Sinai grandchildren; sister Helene Sussman. Hill- Eytan Orlander died Aug. 13 at 62. Sur- by daughter Beth (Edward) Silverman; sons
Selma Myrna Frost died Sept. 10 at side vived by wife Ora Lanzer Orlander; sons Franklin, Jonathan; 3 grandchildren; 1 great-
98. Survived by daughter Lesa (Jerry) Leeds; Roslyn Machlovitz died Sept. 10 at 85. Sur- Etay, Tom; mother Esther; father Mordecai; grandchild. Mount Sinai
1 grandchild. Mount Sinai vived by husband Arthur; daughter Helen; sister Nurit Keshet. Chevra Kadisha Susan Washton died Sept. 8 at 71. Sur-
Roslyn Gerstl died Sept. 14 at 87. Sur- son Michael (Ronda); 5 grandchildren. Hillside Eileen Popkin died Sept. 8 at 83. Sur- vived by husband Martin; daughters Aman-
vived by daughter Michelle Seukunian; 1 Ester Setare Malekan died Aug. 20 at 92. vived by daughters Donna (Bill) Snell, Kim da, Rebecca; son Matthew; 5 grandchildren;
grandchild; brother Sumner Feldman. Gro- Survived by daughters Mahin, Shahnaz, Ja- (Marc) Kroll, Stacey (David) Aucella, Cyndi sister Janet. Hillside
man Eden net; sons Ruben, Aziz, Joseph, Issac, David, (Andre) Pegus; 8 grandchildren; 1 great- Phyllis Wills died Sept. 13 at 90. Survived
Joan C. Gill died Sept. 11 at 89. Sur- Kourosh; 8 grandchildren; sisters Neima, grandchild. Mount Sinai by daughters Amy, Judi (Tim); son Robert
vived by sons Mark, Robert (Patricia Ger- Miryam; brothers Morad, Abraham. Chevra Tanya Rashkovsky died Sept. 8 at 79. (Echo); 2 grandchildren. Hillside
gen). Mount Sinai Kadisha Survived by husband Gregory; daughters Ronald A. Zacky died Sept. 11 at 83. Sur-
Ruth Giller died Sept. 16 at 90. Survived Alfred Maskell died Sept. 11 at 95. Sur- Alexandra (Oleg Lebovich), Ayala (Offer) vived by wife Sandra; sons Brent (Amy),
by daughter Sara; son Paul. Mount Sinai vived by daughter Linda (Larry) Barouch; Cohavy; 8 grandchildren; 2 great-grand- Mathew, Hayden (Michelle); 9 grandchildren.
Marcia Claire Gould died Sept. 7 at 82. sons Randy, Jay (Joice), Kenneth (Jamie); 8 children; sisters Lyubov (Leonid) Berkhin, Mount Sinai
Survived by husband Richard Shontz; grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren. Mount Anna (Yakov) Vaserfirer. Mount Sinai Sara Zand died July 16 at 87. Survived
daughter Valerie (Jeff) Eaton; sons Todd Sinai Eugene Harmon Rogolsky died Sept. by daughters Lenore Lowen, Odelia (Aha-
(Jennifer Barbaro), Alan (Stacy); 5 grand- Alfred Meyer Miller died Sept. 10 at 84. 13 at 91. Survived by husband Joseph ron) Cooper; 3 grandchildren; 2 great-
children; brother David (Lynne) Lertzman. Survived by wife Ann; daughters Deborah Boutell. Mount Sinai grandchildren; brother Yossi Friedman.
Mount Sinai (Carl), Laura (John) Mueller; sons Steven, Janice Schrager died Sept. 8 at 88. Chevra Kadisha

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20 September 25-October 1, 2020 JewishJournal.com Jewish Journal | 57
JUST ASKING

Comedian Joel Chasnoff on His Yom Kippur


‘Corona Confession’
» by Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer
COMEDIAN JOEL CHASNOFF KNOWS THAT YOM KIPPUR IS JJ: How are you keeping people laughing during the pandemic?
going to look a little different this year. Instead of confessing to JC: As of January, I had never touched Zoom but now it’s where
breaking one of the 613 commandments, in his new video “Corona all the comedy is happening. There are also magicians and singers
Confession,” he shows how the Jewish people will be apologizing for on there. There are some advantages, like not having to travel to a
their actions during the pandemic instead. show. I’d travel to the U.S. for a one-hour show. But I very much miss
The video — which as of press time had racked up close to 75,000 a live audience.
views — shows Chasnoff pounding his chest and confessing to some
of the cardinal sins he and others have committed since the onset
of the COVID-19 pandemic. They include Barachnu, which is leaving
a Zoom meeting early under false pretenses; Googalnu, Googling
coronavirus statistics for no reason; Netflixanu, using the pandemic
as an excuse to watch Netflix; and Purellnu, which is finishing the
Purell. Set to the tune of the Yom Kippur “vidui” (confession) tune,
and in the same vein as the Vidui prayer, Chasnoff lists the sins in
alphabetical order.
A Chicago native who now lives with his family in Ra’anana, Israel,
The rabbi Chasnoff spoke with the Journal about why he made the video, what

said, “We’re
it’s been like doing comedy over Zoom and how he’s been surviving
not one but two lockdowns in Israel.

doing services Jewish Journal: Why did you decide to make “Corona

online. Can
Confession”?
Joel Chasnoff: It’s a strange story. I’d done a Zoom comedy show

you make
for a synagogue because a lot of them are doing that a lot nowadays.
The next day, the rabbi said, “We’re doing services online. Can you

something to make something to make it more exciting?” I brainstormed ideas and


it came to me to make a parody of sins we list off in this particular

make it more prayer but [I’d relate them] to corona.

exciting?” I JJ: How many of those things in the video have you actually
done?

brainstormed JC: I’ve done all of them. I’ve certainly made up excuses to leave
Zoom meetings early and I took a neighbor’s dog for a walk because
ideas and it in Israel, one of the only ways you can get outside when you’re on
lockdown is to walk a pet. I’ve certainly touched fruit in the store and put JJ: Did you do outdoor shows when they were allowed?
came to me it back. I can easily say I’ve done all of them because I reflected on my own
misdeeds. A lot of people are emailing me and saying, “I’ve done all these,
JC: I’ve always felt that comedy is an indoor sport. There is
something about comedy that once there’s no roof, a vibe is lost.
to make a too.” I’m not the outlier here. It relieves us of the burden of thinking we Comedy is so psychological. It’s all about energy and having a shared

parody of sins
aren’t behaving so well. sense of laughter and enjoyment. The energy literally vaporizes into
the atmosphere when it’s outside. I have done 10 outdoor shows

we list off in
JJ: When did you make aliyah? since the pandemic began and I’ve made them work, but it’s not the
JC: I made aliyah twice. The first time was when I was 23 and I joined same thing.

this particular
the army. Then I made aliyah 20 years later after I raised a family in the
U.S. Four years ago, we remade aliyah again as an entire family. My wife JJ: How is the comedy scene in Israel?

prayer but [I’d


is a sabra (native Israeli), so it’s not technically aliyah but returning to the JC: Comedy in Israel is taking off. There are many more comedians
country. My wife and I always wanted to try raising the kids in Israel. It than there were 20 years ago. There are more stages where they can

relate them] started out as an experiment and now it’s been four years, so I guess the
experiment is working.
perform. There’s more variety. The comedy used to be very Israeli.
Now you’re getting comedians who are a little more intellectual.

to corona. JJ: How has life been in Israel with the coronavirus?
Israel is coming up with great TV shows. The comedy clubs were
pretty much sold out before the pandemic.
JC: It’s been pretty tumultuous. The first round, we were patting
ourselves on the back. We transitioned too fast and the country is on JJ: How can people stay happy throughout all this?
lockdown again for three weeks. We can’t be more than 500 meters from JC: What I’ve been doing is watching old comedians like Rodney
our homes. All restaurants, gyms and movies are closed again. It’s like the Dangerfield and Steve Martin and Richard Pryor and reminding
first few weeks of the pandemic. The mood here is sour. myself of how funny they were and why I got into this in the first
place. It’s a great thing to do, to appreciate the older comedians
JJ: How are people celebrating the High Holy Days? and just how funny they were. I watch contemporary things, too.
JC: There are rules, like you can have up to 20 people in an outdoor Comics are putting out videos to shed light on this situation. There
space as long as they are 2 meters apart. I think a lot of people will be is content being made, thank God. n
davening at home. It’s a vacation season. It’s a time when many Israelis
go away either to Europe or Cyprus or Greece. It’s a chance to be with their You can watch Joel Chasnoff’s “Corona Confession” video at youtube.
families, so a lot of people are disappointed they can’t go away this year. com/watch?v=yFmPysI3tl0.

58 | Jewish Journal JewishJournal.com September 25-October 1, 2020

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