The Eternal Flame memorial in Baku, Azerbaijan

Yom HaShoah: A Day of Remembrance and Reflection


We recently took in the news of chemical weapons used to murder children in Syria, an act few considered possible since a time 70 years ago, when over 1 million children were murdered by the Nazis. Our shock and outrage as a global community never fades, and our understanding of history seems to grow with the decades between then and now. But the sheer brutality with which these attacks have occurred reminds us of the true nature of evil and contempt for human life, as well as the capacity of intolerance to rearrange the human condition and spirit. The attack in Syria weighs on our minds, and is an important reason why we must never let the memory of a great tragedy as the Holocaust slip into the annuls of history past.

Yom Hashoah begins on the evening of April 23, 2017, a day to remember the 6 million Jews, the 5 million others, and the heroes that risked everything to save lives from the perpetrators and accessories to the Holocaust.

In my homeland of Azerbaijan, the remembrance of the Holocaust has always felt personal and close to home. Azerbaijan has always stood against hatred and fascism, and this was the case during the time of Nazism, as it is true today. History remembers Hitler’s vain attempt at capturing Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, which was key to his eventual defeat, when en route, his army endured Stalingrad. Azerbaijan was then, as it is today, a haven for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe and neighboring regions.

In 2016, the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism and Baku Slavic University organized a roundtable of high level scholars to discuss the implications of the Holocaust today, and to do so through the lens of our own national tragedy, the Khojaly Massacre. This massacre was committed against innocent Azerbaijani civilians, including hundreds of children, women and elderly in February 1992 by invading Armenian troops. The Human Rights Watch called it the “largest massacre” in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and condemned the “unconscionable acts of violence against civilians” by the Armenian forces.

The said 2016 memorial in Baku for the 6 million Jews was mostly attended by Muslim students of the Baku Slavic University. And it is no coincidence. Holocaust studies are a part of the majority-Muslim Azerbaijan’s educational system, and with our strong Jewish population, deep ties to the State of Israel for 25 years, and our own experience during World War II, the Holocaust has, in many ways, left a permanent impression on Azerbaijan.

The Holocaust is one of many connections that tie Azerbaijan to the Jewish people. Jewish communities have also shown immense support to Azerbaijan for the endurance of our own tragedy. For the past several years, the Khojaly Massacre has been memorialized in Los Angeles, with Rabbis and synagogues leading the way in this compassionate, cross-cultural effort. Survivors that have participated in these remarkable memorials have noted the impact of feeling cared for by another, and how especially meaningful the memorialization of their tragedy was under the leadership of Jewish communities, to whom such tragedy is unfortunately very familiar. But it is precisely in that space of familiarity that remembering atrocities such as the Holocaust yields hope for a future free from the evils of hatred that made the Holocaust, and many other tragedies, possible.

Remembering the Holocaust is a truly universal undertaking. And yet, it should be looked at in context for a new generation of young people that have no connection to the experience of the past.  With so few survivors left to tell their stories, with few children of the children of survivors feeling the direct connection to a page in history in a world driven by 15 minutes of fame relegates this important time to ancient history.

No matter where you come from, no matter your religion or culture, every human life is precious and deserving of freedom and dignity. If we can cross the barriers of difference to memorialize such a tragedy, we can surely cross it for many other reasons and on many more days.

Elie Wiesel memorial statue proposed by Congress members


Several U.S. congressmen introduced resolutions to honor the life and work of Elie Wiesel, including a proposal to create a memorial statue to be placed in the U.S. Capitol building.

Three members of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council — Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; Patrick Meehan, D-Pa., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla. — offered a resolution Friday in praise of Wiesel’s contributions to the American understanding of the Holocaust.

On the same day, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., proposed a bill for the statue to memorialize the activist and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner because his “moral leadership served as a beacon across our country and around the globe,” Cohen was quoted as saying in a release.

His bill as of Monday had 14 cosigners, both Democrats and Republicans.

“Elie Wiesel was one of the greatest examples of good the world has ever seen,” Steve Israel said of Wiesel, who died July 2. “He educated the world about the atrocities of the Holocaust, taught us the true meaning of ‘never again,’ and devoted his entire life to ridding the world of hate and intolerance. I am proud to introduce this resolution to honor Mr. Wiesel’s life and acknowledge the indelible mark he has made on the Jewish community and the entire world.”

“Elie Wiesel was a giant,” Meehan said. “His writings brought the truth about the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald to the rest of the world and for decades he was a tremendous messenger for peace.”

Wiesel had been awarded numerous honors from the United States, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, the National Humanities Medal and the Medal of Liberty.

Temple Mount memorial mourns slain 13-year-old Israeli girl


At least 50 people ascended the Temple Mount for a memorial with the family of slain West Bank teen Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

It was the largest group of Jews permitted to visit the Temple Mount in the past year, according to Haaretz.

About 200 supporters gathered afterward at the Western Wall plaza to support the family. They sang and danced in memory of Hallel, a 13-year-old who was stabbed to death while sleeping in her home in the Kiryat Arba settlement by a teenage Palestinian.

“Thank you to all who came,” Rina Ariel, the girl’s mother, told supporters on the Temple Mount. “We did not come this morning to cry. We have cried a lot and we will cry more. We came to be strengthened and to strengthen others.”

Ariel called for the Mughrabi Gate, through which non-Muslim visitors may enter the Temple Mount, to be renamed Hallel Gate.

Lawmakers who came to support the family were prohibited by police from ascending the Temple Mount, including Yehuda Glick and Oren Hazan of the Likud party and Bezalel Smotrich and Uri Ariel of  Jewish Home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered lawmakers not to visit the Temple Mount in order to prevent inflaming tensions with the Muslim community.

The 17-year-old who killed Hallel was from a nearby Palestinian village. Civilian guards shot and killed the attacker.

Mother of slain Israeli girl asks permission to hold memorial on Temple Mount


The mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the 13-year-old Jewish girl killed in her bed by a Palestinian teenage attacker, requested permission to have a memorial ceremony on the Temple Mount.

Rina Ariel in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked to bring 250 people to the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims and the source of much tension over the years. The group that would ascend to the Temple Mount on Tuesday would include the Ariel family and a group of friends and supporters, Ynet reported.

“We and Hallel have always felt a deep connection to the Temple Mount. We visited it and will continue to do so, as we believe that it is the house of God, and that it gives strength and life to each and every house in Israel,” Rina Ariel wrote to Netanyahu late last week, Ynet reported. “And as it is only from there that all deficits can be filled, it is only from there that we will receive any sense of solace. For this reason we are asking to perform the mitzvah of visiting the Temple Mount and praying there for the ascent of Hallel’s soul this coming Tuesday, with 250 people who have pledged to join and comfort us. It is very important to me that the event be coordinated with the police and not carried out in any manner of confrontation.”

“Just recently, 200,000 Muslims performed a mass prayer at the site. Would a Jewish group comprised of a tenth of that number not be allowed to convene there for a single hour?”

Jews can only ascend the mount during limited visiting hours and are forbidden from doing anything resembling worship such as kneeling, singing, dancing or rending their clothes.

The Jerusalem District’s police chief, Yoram Halevi, met last week with the family to organize the visit but requested the prime minister’s final approval, according to Ynet.

Hallel was stabbed to death on the morning of June 30 as she slept in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba by a 17-year-old assailant from a nearby Palestinian village. Civilian guards shot and killed the attacker.

Theo Bikel: A memorial


How did I meet Theodore Bikel? Me, a country rabbi? Well, Theo met and befriended many country rabbis and he was sort of a country rabbi himself.

The real story, however, is that one Rosh Hashanah, years ago, about midway through the service at UCLA Hillel, a man with a big presence arrived; it was Theo. He was there participating, singing, davening while wearing a thick old woolen tallis like one my father, a”h, wore and holding a worn machzor (holiday prayer book) with ivre teitsch (Yiddish translation). When I called the Kohanim for the priestly blessing, he rose to the front of the congregation and proceeded to chant — he was after all of priestly descent; or as I preferred to refer to him, he was Kohen Gadol (High Priest). It was a memorable, unforgettable chant; more like a roar! As the service drew to a close, I went over to introduce myself, and I asked Theo: “Where did that come from?” (I didn’t yet know about the depth of Theo’s spiritual connection.) He proceeded to explain that his father loved chazanut and that when Theo was young, his father took him to hear many chazanim, whence he learned the classical prayers.

And so it was that the universal peace-seeking folk singer who inspired us in the ’60’s was also ne’im zemirot yisrael, a sweet singer in the Davidic tradition, a modern-day psalmist, singing the traditional prayers of his people so as to celebrate their joyous moments and bemoan their suffering. I loved this image of a Jewish humanist who, in his essence, was intensely Jewish and simultaneously universally human. His being defied simple definition, and his life encompassed it all. He lived rapturously and ravenously. And his capacity to translate from one language or culture to another was unparalleled. He was the complete human with an expansive soul, a grand neshama.

Nothing Jewish was alien to him, nor was anything human! As Leon Wieseltier said so well in his encomium to Theo upon his receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award from YIVO on June 18, 2015: “We live in a golden age of partial Jewishness, … Religious Jews know almost nothing of our secular traditions and secular Jews know almost nothing of our religious traditions. Jews who live in Hebrew know almost no Yiddish and Jews who live in Yiddish — now there is a saving remnant! — know almost no Hebrew, and the overwhelming majority of American Jews anyway live, arrogantly and ignorantly, in no Jewish language at all. Jews who are fluent in the siddur are strangers to Bialik and Amichai. Jews who still sing the old Zionist songs are dead to klezmer, and Jews who are devout about klezmer sometimes act as if their music is all that is required for Jewish continuity. How many students of Jewish film are also students of Talmud, and how many students of Talmud have a shred of an acquaintance with the history of Jewish art? An alarming number of poor souls among our brethren seem to feel that all they require for a genuine Jewishness is Woody Allen and Philip Roth and Jerry Seinfeld.”

But not our Theo. He not only did it all, but he was as comfortable chanting a Chasidic nigun as he was a modern Hebrew ballad and a Russian or Greek folksong. He was in Wielseltier’s words, “a son of Vienna and a son of Tel Aviv and of New York and L.A. — of the center and the peripheries, the homeland and the dispersion.” He cherished and possessed all the songs and all the cultures. He was diversity personified. And his many agitations on behalf of human rights and social justice were always conducted in a Jewish vocabulary. Again, Wielseltier: “He was an ambassador of our ethics to the world.”

Last week we celebrated the festival of Shavout. A glaring puzzle that has drawn commentary through the ages is the absence in the Torah of both a specific date for the holiday and a reference to the revelation that is being commemorated.  The Chasidic master R’ Zri Elimelech of Dinov, with whose work Bnei Yissaschar Theo was certainly familiar, explained famously that since the Torah’s teachings are eternal, Torah cannot be limited or constrained by time. Therefore, no explicit date for the revelation. Torah itself is timeless, beyond the bounds of any moment or community.

So too, I add, was dear Theo. He touched eternity in his lifetime and we were blessed to accompany him on his grand journey. Yehi Zichro Baruch!

Rabin: A hero’s life’s work


If a hero's life's work is subsequently rendered largely irrelevant, is he or she still a hero?

20 long years since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, Israelis have accepted the thesis of their leadership that peace is a far-flung, undesirable goal.  Though the state of Israel, the greatest experiment in Jewish history, has proven its ability to survive, Rabin believed it could achieve more – he believed it could thrive. 

Tonight we celebrate his life not because he helped engineer the euphoric triumphs of the War of Independence and the Six-Day War as a chain-smoking soldier with the weight of our people’s lives on his shoulders, but because he sought more than military victories.

The young Yitzhak Rabin was famously hawkish in his dealings with Israel’s Arab neighbors.  As Chief of Staff he led their humiliation in 1967, and in the 1970s, as prime minister, he began setting the West Bank. As defense minister in the 1980s, he commanded soldiers to break Palestinian bones during the intifada.

Despite the heroic narrative, Yitzhak Rabin did not turn an about-face, dramatically reversing the momentum of his life's work from war to peace – as always he researched, analyzed, and anticipated developments with discipline and a clear mind; simply put, he led.  This modus operandi spurred him to act on his long accumulated belief that the occupation was undemocratic and un-Jewish. 

Looking at Yitzhak Rabin’s last speech on the night of his demise, in front of an unprecedented surge of 100,000 supporters, he seems strikingly driven by the earnest hope to leave behind his gruesome duties as a warrior. With white hair and a widow’s peak, this 70-something-year-old man moved beyond animosity for Arabs, shrewdly treating hatred as a sunken cost.

Rabin's legacy, maimed as it was by his assassination, hobbled one last time ten years later when Ariel Sharon fought to withdraw Israel from the Gaza Strip.  Sharon, a less affable member of the first, war-weary sabra generation, faced similarly vocal critics as Rabin; ultimately, he ran circles around them with his tactical magic, outmaneuvering them in the back rooms and hallways of the Knesset.

As Sharon faced down the others, Benjamin Netanyahu had an air of desperation, trying to thrust himself in front of the public eye.  Ultimately, Sharon and his wiles engulfed Bibi and won the vote.  Even if Sharon saw fit to carry on Rabin's mantle, his brain did not cooperate.  His eventual stroke gripped the grief-weary nation with severe apathy…and opened the door for a previously outmatched leader.  

The apathy that surrounded their demise was opportunistically pounced upon by Benjamin Netanyahu.  

Always waiting for a chance to thrust himself into the public eye, he has remained remarkably consistent in fomenting this apathy and an existential fear of Israel's destruction.  Sometimes the word “peace” appeared in one Bibi election slogan or other, but always cynically.  It should be noted that both Rabin and Sharon held Bibi at bay during their lifetimes.  Bibi was never as smart as they. 

The success of Bibi's formula, consistently resonating with the majority of Israeli voters for so long as it has, is impressive…and damaging to the soul of the State of Israel.  His tenure has defined the twenty years since Rabin, and so it seems fair to put a substantial chunk of blame for the violence and fear on his shoulders.  There's a security wall and a huge Shabak presence in the West Bank to protect Israel from the angry Palestinian populace, so it takes all the more antagonization to incite East Jerusalem's normally demure residents.

Whether with Iran, the current East Jerusalem intifada, or mufti-gate, he is a boy who cried wolf, and we can only sit and wait for our comeuppance. 

The limpid sprit de corps that Netanyahu cultivates amongst Israelis is dangerous, lacking any sense that a better fate exists.  Yitzhak Rabin's vision was apparently not achievable, but it was more than empty hope – it was philosophical.  He posited that Hatikvah, the Hope – to be a free people in our land – להיות עם חופשי בארצנו – is not enough.  HaHalom, החלום, the Dream, is to live in peace on that land.

Far from a lofty Oseh shalom bimromav – a dreamy peacemaker – we had a grounded leader in our midst.  We appreciated his deep voice, his humility, his social awkwardness, his calm authority, and his grandfatherliness.  But mindfulness and gratitude are not enough; appreciation of these qualities is not bullet-proof. 

Now, tonight, this occasion is the opportunity to answer the question about heroes.  A hero's sacrifice is not in vain if a minyan can memorialize it.  Rabin’s life's work was a credit to the Jewish people, even if we feel powerless to carry out his vision.

Ben Lehrer received an AB in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University – he works in architecture and sings the Song of Peace with his son, Gabriel.

Remembering, honoring IDF’s lone soldier Steinberg, comrades


“I just want to say, Max was my best soldier, and I loved him so much, and to be with you is like closure for me. It’s something you can’t explain in words.”

But Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 1st Lt. Ohad Roisblatt did his best. He told an audience of about 90 people at Beth Jacob Congregation on Aug. 15 that he came to know Max Steinberg, the IDF lone soldier from Woodland Hills who was killed during an ambush in Gaza last year, as his commander in the Golani Brigade.

Roisblatt, an early 20-something who was wounded during the same battle that took Steinberg’s life, said he lost seven soldiers during the war in Gaza. He drew applause when he said he recently rejoined the IDF following a year of rehabilitation work.

His appearance at the Orthodox shul in Beverly Hills coincided with that of retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedy; Steinberg’s parents, Stuart and Evie; and more than 30 bereaved family members of Israeli soldiers. 

Stuart Steinberg spoke briefly during services while Shkedy provided the keynote. Serving as Beth Jacob’s Shabbat scholar-in-residence, Shkedy spoke on “The State of Israel and the Jewish People: It’s All About Optimism,” drawing upon a 33-year career in Israel’s air force, as well as his stint as CEO of El Al Airlines from 2010 to 2014, in his remarks. 

If people in the pews were hoping to hear the scholar-in-residence speak about the much-discussed Iran deal, they were disappointed; he left the controversial topic for a Q-and-A that occurred later in the day during a reservations-only luncheon. 

“I always take our enemies serious all the time. … We have to do all we can to prevent our enemies from having nuclear capabilities,” Shkedy said at the luncheon, where Israeli flags hung on the walls and blue and white tablecloths and napkins decorated the tables. “How do we do it? I don’t know.”

While discussing how seriously Israel takes its own security, Shkedy said El Al planes will soon be equipped with missile defense systems. 

Shkedy and Roisblatt appeared on behalf of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization, which was established one year after Israel’s founding and works to increase public awareness of the plight of wounded soldiers and raises funds to help their rehabilitation. Shkedy is chairman of Friends of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization.

The bereaved family members attended as part of a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) program, which brought them to Los Angeles for a variety of events. Fred Gluckman, FIDF national board treasurer, delivered brief remarks on the delegation’s behalf during morning services. 

Several of the male members of the FIDF group, wearing military garb, helped carry the Torah around the sanctuary during services. The female members of the group looked on from the other side of a mechitzah. The FIDF group wrapped up its L.A. visit with an evening event in Calabasas on Aug. 17, according to a spokesperson for the group. 

Beth Jacob has been holding a variety of weekday and Shabbat events all summer long. The Saturday luncheon drew philanthropists Naty and Debbie Saidoff; Jacob Segal, executive board member of the Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce; and Beth Jacob Rabbi Kalman Topp, who introduced Shkedy during the luncheon.

Activities extended into the evening with a meet-and-greet with Shkedy after Shabbat concluded. That event took place at the home of Lydia and Harry Weisman, according to Beth Jacob Associate Rabbi Adir Posy.

Memorial held for teen killed in gay pride parade stabbing


Hundreds gathered in Jerusalem for a memorial to Shira Banki, the teen who died from injuries suffered in a knife attack at the city’s gay pride parade.

Friends and supporters of Banki and the LGBTQ community held the tribute on Sunday night in Zion Square. Banki, 16, a high school student from Jerusalem, had died hours earlier at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, where she had been fighting for her life after being stabbed in the chest and stomach on Thursday. She was one of six stabbing victims.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, told the vigil participants that Banki was murdered due to “extremism, because we don’t know how to accept the other.”

“Students in Israel need first of all to know: Don’t be afraid to be who you are and what you are,” he said.

Banki was marching to support her gay friends, her family said in a statement. The family agreed to donate her organs, Hadassah hospital announced.

“Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose,” the family statement said. “For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl.”

The statement also expressed “hope for less hatred and more tolerance.”

Israeli politicians from across the spectrum expressed sorrow about the teen’s death.

Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank, remains in police custody after being deemed psychologically fit to stand trial on Friday, a day after he allegedly stabbed the marchers. Schlissel had been released from prison three weeks earlier after serving 10 years for a similar attack at Jerusalem’s 2005 gay pride parade.

Locals remember victims of Paris terror attacks


Seventeen yahrzeit candles were displayed on the bimah at Sinai Temple on Jan. 14, where about 300 people gathered to pay homage to lives lost too soon. Each wick represented a victim of the recent attacks in Paris.

“Living in Los Angeles, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re part of a greater Jewish people,” Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which organized the event, said in a later interview with the Journal.

But he said the previous week’s events in France — the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and subsequent killings at a kosher supermarket — evoked a sense of “global responsibility” in Jews around the world and that “a memorial service felt like the right response.” 

The intimate service began with opening remarks by Les Bider, Federation board chair. 

“We feel responsible for every Jew, from Los Angeles to Paris to Tel Aviv,” he said.

Immediately following the attacks, Sanderson said he and fellow community leaders started a dialogue with the Jews of Paris. In collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel and other Federations across the country, the L.A. Federation helped donate approximately $100,000 to Parisian Jewish institutions.

“It was assessed that the immediate need was to ensure that every Jewish institution [in Paris] was safe and secure,” Sanderson told the Journal. 

Bider’s speech was followed by the American and French national anthems, performed by Cantor Tifani Coyot of Temple Isaiah. Axel Cruau, consul general of France in Los Angeles, and David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, also took the stage.

The French diplomat said the best answer to terrorism is staying united and true to our values, and he saluted recent remarks made by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“He spoke the truth,” Cruau said. “He said that France was at war — not at war with religion, not at war with Islam, but at war with terrorists, jihadists and radicalists of Islam.”

Siegel focused on acts of darkness and light. 

“It is a dark day when the simple act of going to work in a magazine, attending a Jewish day school or shopping at a grocery store becomes an act of courage,” he said. 

But amid this darkness, he continued, there were extraordinary heroes: the French security personnel who rescued hostages; Yohan Cohen, a young Jew who was killed while trying to grab a terrorist’s gun; and Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali, who saved Jews by hiding them in the supermarket freezer.

Continuing the theme, Sinai’s Rabbi David Wolpe recited the 23rd Psalm. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” After the recitation, Wolpe said, “The most important word in this beautiful psalm is ‘walk.’ … We do not stay there; we grieve, we mourn, but we don’t give up.”

He continued, “Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not be afraid because to be afraid is to give into the darkness.”

Sanderson led the candle-lighting ceremony, calling out the names of elected officials and community leaders to light the yahrzeit candles. One by one, individuals, including Los Angeles Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Assemblyman Richard Bloom, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz and Temple Akiba Rabbi Zach Shapiro, walked onto the stage. The room fell silent, filled only with the sound of a lighter catching flame.

After all the candles were lit, Clara-Lisa Kabbaz, school president of Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles, read the names of the 17 victims. Rabbi Sarah Hronsky of Temple Beth Hillel, Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein of University Synagogue and Rabbi Eli Herscher of Stephen Wise Temple also took part in the service. Cantor Emeritus Joseph Gole of Sinai Temple sang “Hatikvah” and “Oseh Shalom” with the audience as his choir.

Sitting in that audience was Danielle Salusky, a congregant of Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades. Born and raised in Paris, she reminisced after the memorial service about her personal connection to the tragedy, which took the lives of two cartoonists she knew.

“I grew up with this magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, and I’ve known them since 1968,” she said. “I knew [Jean] Cabu and [Georges] Wolinski, the two oldest cartoonists from the magazine, and it’s terrible and it’s horrible.”

Salusky and her husband were in Paris not long ago, visiting family. 

“We came back from Paris Monday night and this happened Wednesday morning, and I wanted to go home and I wanted to be there with everybody. I’ve been crying for the whole week,” she said. 

Emotional and silent, she finally added, “So we’re here.”

Steven Sotloff memorial at Young Israel of Beverly Hills


None of us can imagine what life was like for Steven Sotloff, all  alone in the den of terror, held captive by ‘inhuman’ beings isolated from his family and friends. How we wonder, did he maintain his sanity during those terribly lonely days and nights? Who can imagine his anguish and suffering — the words he wanted to convey to his parents and loved ones before he was so savagely beheaded?

As Jews, our faith teaches us that every human being has a purpose and a mission in life, that irrespective of station we each have a task to fulfill. The great Talmudist Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, once observed that the ordinary tour guide whose name we do not even know, who encountered a lost Joseph looking for his brothers and told him where exactly he would find them, is in fact the real ‘Shadchin’, the enabler who set in motion and made possible the great events of the Exodus. Because clearly without him, Joseph would never have met his brothers, would not have been bartered to Egypt and would never have become its prime minister.

When his murderers posted the horrific beheading of Steven Sotloff, just a few weeks after beheading James Foley, they did not know that that would be another 9-11 moment in 21st Century history that awakened the conscience of the world to the threat posed by ISIS, the most fanatical branch of the growing Islamic fundamentalist movement.

Sometimes at crucial moments, ordinary people become the vehicle for transmitting important messages with great consequences for the future of mankind. That this is so, we know from one of the strangest incidents ever recorded in the Torah, the story of Eldad and Medad, who prophesized outside the tent in direct violation of Moses instructions that legitimate prophesy can only be transmitted in the tent where the divine spirit was present. Eldad and Medad, who were nowhere near the tent said that, “Moses our leader will soon die and Joshua will lead us into the land.” An argument then ensued whether the prophecy could be accurate. But Moses intervened on their behalf and said, ‘if only everyone could be a prophet.’ But why was that considered prophecy at all when everyone knew that Joshua, Moses’ disciple, would be the likely successor? The answer is that Joshua was selected not only because he was Moses’ disciple, but because Israel was entering the promised land and there were tyrants and despots there, the forerunners of ISIS, Al-Qaida and Hamas, and only a leader with a military background would be capable of confronting themsuccessfully. As the Torah tells us previously, “And Joshua weakened Amalek by the sword.”

My friends, when you confront ultimate evil, people who commit massacres and destroy religious shrines, crash planes into buildings, fire rockets from hospitals, who use children as human shields, then you are confronting people whose G-d loves death, and who hate us primarily because our G-d commands that we choose life.

You can’t talk to people like that. The only time ISIS, Al-Qaida and Hamas will listen is if you are prepared to surrender. On this day, September 11th, more than any other, we need to be resolute and remind ourselves not only about what happened on that day, but about the terrible price the world paid for failing to confront evil in the 30s. Had we heeded the lone voice of Winston Churchill in 1937 and in 1938, and confronted Hitler, than 50 million human beings would have been spared.

That’s why the Torah expresses memory in two ways. One is positive – Zachor — to remember, when you are dealing with an adversary that it is possible to resolve your differences peacefully, but when you are confronting fanatics who live in the 12th century and seek your total submission, then the only word for memory is Lo Tishkach — do not forget to act decisively and destroy them, because the real purpose of these terrorists and rogue nations is to end western civilization and lead our world to Armageddon.

That is what I take away from Steven Sotloff’s beheading. As his killer stood over him with a knife, Steven looked up at all of us and wrote his final and most important story as a reporter, not with his pen, but with his eyes, imploring us, for your sake, not mine, act now and act decisively and save mankind from these terrorists.

Rabbi Marvin Hier is the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, its Museum of Tolerance and of Moriah, the Center's film division.

Obituaries Oct. 4 – 25, 2012


Linda Axelrod died Oct. 23 at 72. Survived by daughter Lori (Deo); sons Glenn, Guy; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Bernard Barsky died Oct. 18 at 87. Survived by wife Marion; daughter Hadas Laureano; son Jeffrey; 2 grandchildren; niece Sheri Schrage. Mount Sinai

Helen Bolsky died Oct. 19 at 88. Survived by daughters Debbie, Francine; 1 niece. Mount Sinai

Harold Brown died Oct. 22 at 94. Survived by daughter Sandie (Dennis) Kay; sons Larry (Judy), Ed (Jennifer); 7 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Edythe Dobkin died Oct. 20 at 90. Survived by sons Gary (Bonita Oehlke), Mark (Renee); sisters Myrna (Percy) Marcus, Marlene Safe; 3 grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Pearl Rub Finck died Oct. 22 at 90. Survived by husband Samuel; daughters Lonnie Turner, Diana Teller, Sally (Peter) Jackson, Julie (Don) Downs, Ruthie (Tom) Sheffield; son Sanford (Stella); 17 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; brother Robert (Frances) Rub. Mount Sinai

Nathan Golden died Oct. 25 at 89. Survived by daughter Dayna Lee; son Joshua (Rebecca); 2 grandchildren. Hillside 

Michael Hadash died Oct. 22 at 89. Survived by wife Rose; daughter Sandy (Jeffrey) Hadash Cohen; son Bruce (Ellen Beck); 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Louis Hoffman died Oct. 17 at 104. Survived by daughters Beverly (Ronald) Flintrop, Delores Crecenzo; 7 grandchildren; 1 nephew. Mount Sinai

Rosalyn Jenner died Oct. 18 at 84. Survived by daughters Marcie (Cheryl Procaccini), Jodi; son Mitch (Carol); 3 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; sister Renee (Eddie) Solomon. Mount Sinai

Arnold Michael Kalick died Oct. 18 at 64. Survived by wife Rochelle; daughters Lisa (Todd) Schultz, Carrie (Michael) Kalick Caroll; 1 granddaughter; sister Sandy (Danny) Brager. Mount Sinai

Shirley Klasky died Oct. 20 at 86. Survived by son Steven (Marti); daughter Judy Smith; 2 grandsons; 1 step-grandson; 2 great-grandsons; 1 niece. Mount Sinai

Judson H. Laff died Oct. 4 at 78. Survived by wife Violet; daughters Elene (Daniel) Whalen, Fern Burg, Stephanie (Dean) Laff-Hunt, Rebecca Beaver; 9 grandchildren; sister Barbara (Arnold) May. Mount Sinai

Berta Liebshard died Oct. 25 at 100. Survived by daughter Francine (Bill) Baker; son Leonard (Emik) Baker; 1 grandchild; 2 great-grandchildren; brother Zigmund Teba. Mount Sinai

Philip Malakoff died Oct. 20 at 83. Survived by wife Florence; daughter Wynee; sons Gilbert (Michelle), Merle (Tina); 7 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Hillside

Lawrence Meyers died Oct. 24 at 79. Survived by wife Marlene Silverman; daughter Deborah Kimbrell; sons Nathan (Vicki), Daniel (Donna); stepdaughter Beth (Mark) Ruben; stepsons Brian (Janna) Cutler, Russell Silverman; 8 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Lotte Newman died Oct. 25 at 89. Survived by daughter Judy (Edward) Green; son Fred; 5 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Mack Novak died Oct. 25 at 87. Survived by wife Frances “Geri”; daughters Karen, Lorie, Patricia; 5 granddaughters; brother Joe. Mount Sinai

Sharlene Roth died Oct. 23 at 74. Survived by husband Michael; daughter Robyn; son Jeffrey (Teri); 2 grandchildren; mother Grace Gottlieb; brother Alvin Gottlieb. Mount Sinai

Helen Rothbart died Oct. 25 at 88. Survived by sons Robert (Angie), Stanley (Miriam); 4 grandchildren; 2 step-granddaughters. Mount Sinai

Bella Sang died Oct. 23 at 84. Survived by daughter Irene (David Levy); sons Steven, Andrew, Jacob; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Mark Schaffer died Oct. 25 at 51. Survived by sister Janet (Warren) Albin; 1 niece; 1 nephew. Mount Sinai

Gerald Schwartz died Oct. 20 at 82. Survived by wife June; daughter Randee Rothenberg; sons Rick, Bruce; 7 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Gloria Seidman died Oct. 19 at 85. Survived by sons Mitchell, Steven; 1 granddaughter; 2 great-granddaughters; sisters Sheilah (Marvin) Zweier, Bella (Ben) Riff. Mount Sinai

Mae Sheff died Oct. 25 at 96. Survived by daughters Sharon (Donald) Mercado, Sharleen Rohm, Tina Shaps; son Leslie Shaps; 3 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren. Hillside 

Mary Sheres died Oct. 24 at 88. Survived by husband Joseph; son Sidney (Celeste); 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Ruth Singer died Oct. 24 at 79. Survived by husband Maurice; sons Anthony (Cathy), Rick Chanin; brother Ed Lazarus; 7 grandchildren. Hillside 

Sara Skidelsky died Oct. 19 at 101. Survived by niece Maureen Balter; 2 great-grandnephews. Hillside 

Mona Weis died Oct. 22 at 95. Survived by nieces Deborah (Bruce) Ellis, Pamela Landrum. Mount Sinai

William L. Zlot died Oct. 21 at 83. Survived by daughters Debra (Warren) Kay, Linda Pearson; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Louis Zucker died Oct. 23 at 84. Survived by wife Evelyn; daughter Shari (David) Bithell; son Larry (Jackie Henry); 3 grandchildren; brother Abraham; sisters Miriam Harrison, Rochelle (Gene) Moore. Mount Sinai

Obituaries: Sep. 14-20, 2012


Phillip Binen died Aug. 7 at 83. Survived by sons Jack, Perry; stepson Lawrence Bizzell. Hillside

Joseph Borden died Aug. 11 at 93. Survived by wife Florine; daughters Deborah Goldstein, Marla (Jeffrey) Michaels; sons Scott, Jack (Debbie); 5 grandchildren. Hillside

Ronni Bregman died Aug. 9 at 61. Survived by daughter Marni (Kevin) Reinhardt; son Lee; 2 grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Lynnette Briskin died Aug. 13 at 93. Survived by daughter Jerilyn (Raymond Ornstein) Ruben; sons Jeffrey (Deborah), Donald (Margaret); sister Chickie Feldman; 10 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Frieda E. Cohen died Aug. 11 at 96. Survived by son Harvey (Bonny); 2 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Mardene Conrad died Aug. 9 at 78. Survived by husband Allan; daughters Wendy, Lynn (Greg) Range; son Michael (Tina); sister Barbara Berger; 4 grandchildren. Hillside

Melvin Epstein died Aug. 9 at 82. Survived by daughter Nancy; son David Sidney. Malinow and Silverman

Irving Fein died Aug. 10 at 101. Survived by wife Marion; daughter Tisha; son Michael (Beni); stepson Dan Schechter; 3 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Charlotte Fisher died Aug. 8 at 91. Survived by son William. Malinow and Silverman

Alvin Friedkin died Aug. 9 at 82. Survived by daughter Shoshana (David) Finacom; son Peter; 4 granddaughters; brother James (Joy). Mount Sinai

Rodney Friedman died Aug. 6 at 63. Survived by wife Viviene; daughter Hayley; son Justin; sister Laraine Ross; brother Colin (Hedy). Mount Sinai

Sylvia Ginsling died Aug. 9 at 92. Survived by nephew Jeffrey (Lori) Marks; niece Lori (Stephen) Love. Mount Sinai

Dorothy Goldberg died Aug. 6 at 95. Survived by husband Louis; daughter Debbie Taylor; sons Jeff (Debby), Eugene; 4 grandsons; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Judith Fine Hailpern died Aug. 9 at 75. Survived by husband Solomon; daughters Michele, Nancy; son Jeffrey; brother David Fine. Malinow and Silverman

Ruth R. Kaptan died Aug. 9 at 85. Survived by daughter Lana (Daniel) Neal; son Martin; 4 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

George Kujawski died Aug. 7 at 90. Survived by wife Audrey; daughters Teresa Nield, Sylvia (Andrew) Corwin; son John; sister Teresa Komender; stepson Hank (Beth) Arkin; stepdaughter Linda (Al) Albala; 5 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Bernice Lewis died Aug. 12 at 88. Survived by daughter Marcia (Mark) Smith; son James; 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Bernard Lieberman died Aug. 12 at 94. Survived by daughter-in-law Barbara (Doug) Lieberman-Jones; son-in-law Barry (Beverly) Brotman; 3 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Bernice Lockfield died Aug. 12 at 89. Survived by daughter Joanne (Norman) Nadel; son Dennis (Andrea); 4 grandchildren; sister Rhoda Smithkin. Mount Sinai

Victoria Yomtow Mandel died Aug. 12 at 92. Survived by daughters Rosie, Susie (Ilan) Zollinger; sons Benjamin (Olga), Ignaz; 7 grandchildren. Hillside

Beatrice K. Meyers died Aug. 11 at 91. Survived by daughter Maureen (Rudy) Romero; 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Robert Morgan died Aug. 13 at 55. Survived by wife Fang; daughters Diana, Sophia; brother Seth (Sally). Hillside

Elin Pittler died Aug. 5 at 74. Survived by husband Burton; daughter Karen (Gary) Semler; sons Steven (Kathleen), Gregg (Julie), Kenny (Melinda); 8 grandchildren. Hillside

Ilan Postelnik died Aug. 8 at 55. Survived by daughter Alexandra Post; son Adam Post; mother Odette; brothers Naor, Adi; sister Hagar Grimberg. Mount Sinai

Elaine Rosenfeld died Aug. 10 at 84. Survived by daughter Nada (Larry) Feiwell; sons Ken (Marsha); Keith (Mara); 5 grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Muriel “Midge” Schainblatt died Aug. 5 at 93. Survived by husband Jacob; daughters Shelly (Robert) Malinow, Alison (Peter) England; 3 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Joan Ann Schechter died Aug. 11 at 81. Survived by daughter Claudia (Jeffrey) Silverman; son Stuart (Niel); 2 grandsons; sister Terry Sachs. Mount Sinai

Leon J. Shapiro died Aug. 11 at 91. Survived by wife Sylvia; daughters Sandy (Roland) Terranova, Nikki (Chris) Cotton; 4 grandchildren; 1 step-granddaughter; 1 step-great-grandson. Mount Sinai

David Turken died Aug. 10 at 54. Survived by mother Deborah; brothers James (Karen), Donald (Julie); 4 nieces. Mount Sinai

Beatrice Wasserman died Aug. 5 at 86. Survived by husband Gilbert; son Jack. Malinow and Silverman 

Irving Weitzler died Aug. 6 at 100. Survived by wife Florence; son Jay (Linda); daughter Maxine (Glenn) Farber; 3 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Harvey Wolf died Aug. 11 at 79. Survived by wife Sondra; sons Mitch (Laura), Randy (Gabby); 4 grandchildren; sister Elaine Levy; brothers Ron (Roberta), Larry. Mount Sinai

Rachel Yanofsky died Aug. 7 at 99.  Survived by son Julius (Matthew). Hillside

Rogge expected to get heat at Munich 11 Jewish memorial service


Jewish speakers are expected to criticize International Olympics Committee president when he attends a memorial ceremony for Israeli coaches and athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Monday’s service, which is a Jewish community event, has created a “dilemma” for organizers, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

IOC president Jacques Rogge refused international appeals including from that of President Barack Obama to the Israeli widows of the Munich 11 to legislators around the world to hold a moment of silence during last week’s opening ceremonies of the London Olympics for Israelis slain by Palestinian terrorists during the Munich games.

British Jewish leaders said they did not feel that they could withdraw an invitation to Rogge because they did not formally offer one, according to the Chronicle. Rogge has said he will attend the event and he has met privately with two widows of the murdered Israelis.

One of those women, Ankie Spitzer, told the Chronicle, “I have been asked to speak. What I am going to say to the IOC will not be nice. But that’s too bad. I do not want to see them there … I will tell them they are two-faced hypocrites and should have stayed at home. ”

Her husband, Andre, was the Israeli fencing coach in 1972. Jewish Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said that Rogge should be present to see the intense emotions surrounding the issue.

“It’s good that he should be there to see how people feel and he should witness it. It will bring the message home to him,” she told the Chronicle.

Arrests made in Israeli Holocaust memorial vandalism


Israeli police said on Tuesday they had arrested three ultra-Orthodox Jews on suspicion of having spray-painted anti-Zionist slogans at the national Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial two weeks ago.

The men, aged 18, 26 and 27, belong to an ultra-Orthodox group opposed to Israel’s existence and admitted to the vandalism, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. They were due to be arraigned in court later in the day.

Some of the graffiti, all written in Hebrew, accused Israel’s founders of secretly encouraging the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War Two to hasten the creation, in 1948, of the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the slogans outrageous and said after the incident it was hard to believe “a human being could be capable of writing such things”.

Some ultra-Orthodox Jews regard modern-day Israel as an abomination, believing the establishment of a Jewish state must await the coming of the Messiah.

Yad Vashem, a museum and memorial, was established on a Jerusalem hilltop in 1953 and is often visited by foreign leaders who lay wreaths in its stark Hall of Remembrance.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller, editing by Diana Abdallah

Belarus Holocaust memorial vandalized


A Holocaust memorial in eastern Belarus was vandalized.

Brown paint was poured over about 60 percent of the marker, on the site of the Jewish ghetto in the Belarusian city of Mahileu, according to Radio Free Europe.

It is not known who damaged the memorial.

Jews have lived in Mahileu since the 16th century, Radio Free Europe reported.

Budapest Holocaust memorial defaced


A Holocaust Memorial on the banks of the Danube in Budapest was defaced just days after unknown vandals hung pigs’ feet on a statue of Raoul Wallenberg.

Hungarian media on Friday published a photo of the monument with spray-painted stars of David and the phrases “This is not your country, dirty Jews” and “You are going to be shot there,” with an arrow pointing to the river.

Many Hungarian Jews were shot on the banks of the Danube by local Arrow Cross fascists during World War II.

The memorial, erected by the then-communist government in 1986, is a copy of a memorial statue at the Mauthausen camp in Austria. It honors “resistance fighters, deserters and persecuted ones who were murdered on the bank of the Danube in the winter of 1944-45.”

The vandalism apparently took place Thursday night, just days after the defilement of the statue of Raoul Wallenberg that is the centerpiece of a monument honoring the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Shoah.

Memorial to Ethiopians to be built on Mount Herzl


A memorial to Ethiopian Jews who died en route to Israel will be established on Mount Herzl.

Israel’s Cabinet on Nov. 27 approved the memorial, which will list the names of the approximately 4,000 members of the Ethiopian community who died while traveling on foot to Israel.

“Establishing the memorial closes a cycle for 130,000 members of the Ethiopian community whose family members — men, women, children and the elderly — left on the long and arduous journey to Israel and some of whom perished after suffering shortages of food and water, and from diseases,” read a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The memorial will commemorate the names of those who perished and serve as a fitting place that enshrines the memory of those who did not realize their dream of coming to the Land of Israel.”

The monument will cost approximately $125,000; the Jewish Agency will pick up some of the cost.

Canadian gov’t funding Jewish veterans memorial


Canada’s government said it will help fund a memorial honoring Jewish war veterans.

A grant of up to $28,700 will go toward the construction of the monument on the central Sherman campus of the United Jewish Appeal Federation in Toronto, the country’s minister of veterans affairs said at an event Monday announcing the funding.

“It is gratifying to know that younger generations have a special place like the Jewish War Veterans of Canada Memorial to reflect on our country’s proud military history,” Steven Blaney said.

The total cost of the monument is about $70,000.

The black polished granite memorial, surrounded by a 20-foot-diameter pad of interlocking brick, commemorates and honors Jews who served and perished in the Canadian forces during World War I and II, the Korean War, Afghanistan and all peacekeeping missions.

One side is etched with the names of 570 Jewish members of the Canadian armed forces who died in World War I and II and in Korea. The other side carries the names of 470 Jewish servicemen and servicewomen who survived those conflicts.

The monument will be dedicated on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, which also is Veterans Day in the United States.

9/11, 10 years later


When I was in New York last week, I prowled Ground Zero. I couldn’t actually touch it — the entire site is now a massive construction zone, a concatenation of Shanghais, encircled in chain link, surrounded by uniformed officers of the New York City Police Department.

I crossed Church Street from the subway station to get a better view of the memorial pools, and an officer quickly barked at me to move along. 

A self-styled tour guide, an elderly black man with no indoor voice, had appointed himself the unofficial one-man welcome wagon for the throngs of visitors. He waved souvenirs and shouted at us.

“How many buildings were at Ground Zero?!” he called out. No one answered. “It was two! You need to know how many buildings were at the site of Ground Zero on the day of the attack!”

Perhaps he had been a little unbalanced before, or maybe he was like Scarlett O’Hara’s father, turned batty by the shock of loss.

One of the cops posed with a couple of English tourists.  A friend took their picture, then they switched places for the next set.  The officer handled it all with matter-of-fact hospitality.  “Yes, ma’am.  Yes, sir.”

The “tour guide” and the cop were reminders that 9/11 had turned America both crazy and sober.  We indulged in folly and fantasy, and we have faced hard truths that have required all of our intelligence and resolve.  We both overreacted, and we reacted judiciously.  We were impetuous and impatient, and deliberate and relentless.  Tragedy, they say, doesn’t change you as much as it brings out your essence.  For a country of multitudes, 9/11 unleashed all our best and worst attributes, and reflected our complexity.

One of our worst attributes is our desire for simple answers. Do you remember, starting about 10 a.m. on Sept. 11, how the media started asking: “Why?”

And instead of taking time to investigate the facts and come up with the answer,  the left — generally speaking — presented a ready-made one: “They hate us because of what we’ve done.”  And the right, generally speaking, countered with, “They hate us because of who they are.”

The European and Arab press especially promoted the former view, pointing to all the things America had done to “deserve” the attacks — especially our support for Israel and our various interventions in the Middle East, whether for oil or democracy. The implication was that if we would just knock these things off, the terrorists would lay down their arms, send us a Teleflora bouquet and go home.

From the opposite extreme came the idea that hate and violence are built into Islam.   It seems like every day for the past decade, I’ve been forwarded e-mails “proving” how the Quran demands every Muslim destroy the West. That anti-Islam hysteria reached a fever pitch during the controversy over whether to build an Islamic center several blocks from Ground Zero, when activists and politicians managed to equate religious tolerance with weakness.

Ten years later, it’s worthwhile to look at how those dominant “answers” fared: not well. The pundits of the left and right, with their simple certainties and gullible constituencies, were wrong.

Story continues after the jump

Late last week, I called Brian Michael Jenkins, the Rand Corp. terrorism expert, whose new book, “The Long Shadow of 9/11,” is a collection of heavily researched, thoughtful essays on the attack’s aftermath.  I had heard Jenkins speak just after 9/11, and back then he was one of the unflappable, sober-minded voices cautioning against hysteria and rash action — a voice crying in the wilderness.  How, I wondered, did he think the go-to explanations held up?

“If the U.S. were to suddenly withdraw forces from the Middle East and suspend support for Israel,” Jenkins told me, “al-Qaeda would not put up a banner saying ‘Mission Accomplished’ and quit. They see themselves in endless conflict, until Judgment Day.”

As for the second line of reasoning, Jenkins said al-Qaeda represents not Islam, but, “an interpretation of the religion by a small group of people.”

The real cause of the ongoing terrorism threat — which Jenkins takes pains to point out does not threaten us as individuals in any statistically significant way — is a small tribal warrior subculture with access to modern weapons and technology.

“Al-Qaeda has become an organization for individuals to prove their manhood, do ‘good’ for God and reap the rewards of the hereafter,” Jenkins said. “Discontents and anyone whose soul is running on empty can join al-Qaeda and find resonance.”

That’s right, we are fighting testosterone, nihilism, boredom, opportunism, archaic notions of tribalism — the stuff that gangs around the world are made of.

Why, 10 years later, does it still matter that we all understand the “why” of 9/11?

The “why” matters because we don’t have the luxury of either withstanding numerous attacks, or the ability to engage in many more wrong-headed reactions to attacks.

The consensus of the intelligence community, Jenkins said, is that the Iraq War was one of those blunders, a tragic “huge diversion” of resources that actually “gave al-Qaeda a lift” in the Arab world.

“9/11 cost us $3.8 trillion,” Jenkins said.  “We can’t spend $3.8 trillion in the next decade, so we’re going to have to get smarter about how we do this.”

If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can and should get angry, but we should never let ourselves go mad.

Time-lapse video showing eight years of 9/11 Memorial construction


Video courtesy of DigitalLifeMag.

Memorial to be built for Israeli New Zealand quake victims


A memorial will be built in memory of the three Israelis killed in the recent earthquake in New Zealand.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Monday in Christchurch that Israel would pay for the memorial to backpackers Gabi Ingel, Ofer Levi and Ofer Mizrachi, who were among the more than 165 victims of the Feb. 22 disaster.

Rivlin toured the quake-stricken city on the south island with Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.

“There is a covenant of blood between Israel and New Zealand,” Rivlin told Parker, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Many Israelis felt genuine pain, not just solidarity, when we saw the terrible images.”

Rivlin was joined by Likud lawmaker Haim Katz, search-and-rescue personnel, and members of the local Jewish community, including Chabad of New Zealand director Rabbi Mendel Goldstein. They lit candles, recited Psalms and laid wreaths at the places where the Israelis perished, as well as at the local Chabad house, which was heavily damaged in the disaster.

Rivlin is on the first official state visit by an Israeli to New Zealand since 1986.

Debbie Friedman: Memorial donations


To all of Debbie’s beloved fans who have inquired about making donations in her memory:

A number of years ago, Debbie established the Renewal of Spirit Foundation with the goal of manifesting her life’s work and all that she stood for. Now, donations to the Renewal of Spirit Foundation will enable the projects that Debbie was working on at the time of her death to be completed. These funds will also support future projects reflecting her passions and commitments. In a note to her fans on her website, Debbie wrote, “Remember, out of what emerges from life’s painful challenges will come our healing.” The tragedy of Debbie’s death presents a deeply painful challenge and it is our hope that your support of the Renewal of Spirit Foundation will help to begin your healing.

Donations may be made online at

Munich bids on Olympics as memorial fight continues


Munich, Germany has thrown its hat into the ring to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, as widows of victims of the 1972 games massacre fight for an opening ceremonies memorial.

Munich’s 2018 Winter Olympics bid committee on Tuesday handed over its bid book to officials from the International Olympic Committee. If accepted it would be the first city to host both a winter and a summer games.

Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were killed when Palestinian terrorists from the Black September group broke into their barracks in the Olympic vlllage of the Munich summer games in 1972 and held them hostage. During an unsuccessful rescue attempt, all of the hostages were killed.

The families of the athletes have tried unsuccessfully for decades to hold an opening ceremonies memorial service for the victims of the 1972 terrorist attack, but have been told by the IOC that it is not willing to mix politics and sport, or to offend delegates from the 40 Arab and Muslim countries.

President of the Israel Olympic Committee Zvi Vashaviak told the Jerusalem Post that he believes if Munich wins the games it will agree to hold the memorial ceremony.
The other two cities being considered for the 2018 games are Annecy, France and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Netanyahu heckled at Carmel fire memorial


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heckled and an Israeli government minister was forced to leave a state memorial ceremony for the 44 people killed in the Carmel fire.

The relatives and friends at Wednesday’s memorial at Kibbutz Beit Oren, which sustained damage in the fire, allowed President Shimon Peres to speak but began heckling Netanyahu when he began his turn.

Bodyguards had to protect Netanyahu as some of the hecklers advanced toward the stage. The hecklers blamed Netanyahu for the fire and their relatives’ deaths.

The partner of Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer, a fire victim, stood up and said that he would not let Netanyahu speak until Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas Party, who also has been blamed for the lack of firefighting preparedness, left the room, calling his presence “a slap in our face.” Yishai did leave the ceremony.

“The fire that did not rest for a moment turned dozens of our families into bereaved, grieving, pained families,” Peres said before the incident. “No tribute and no memorial ceremony will ever return to their loved ones.

“In those moments, when the firefighters stood in front of that wall of fire and today, as we mark 30 days since the disaster, we stand here as a shocked nation, unprepared for the disaster. This is the truth, painful though it may be: We weren’t prepared for the fire, we couldn’t imagine that this would happen. Thus the flames scorched the hearts of the families and the confidence of a nation—a nation that followed the efforts to enlist foreign aid and which cherished those efforts. Now we must learn our lessons.”

Netanyahu in his speech promised that dealing with fires and other natural disasters will happen more quickly in the future.

Memorial held for Ethiopian Jews


A memorial service was held for the some 4,000 Jewish Ethiopians who died making their way to Israel.

The annual state service was held Wednesday near a memorial erected on Mount Herzl by the Absorption and Immigration Ministry in memory of those who died during the trek to the Jewish state.

Speakers included family members of those who died, as well as Israeli President Shimon Peres and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.

“This journey is the closest to the story of the exodus from Egypt,” Landver said at the ceremony. “The price of the exodus from Ethiopia was especially high. I do not ignore the problems, but many members of the community, who not too many years ago were immigrants themselves, became the ones to absorb immigrants.

Landver said Israel’s aliyah operation has yet to be completed and that she will soon fly to Ethiopia in an effort to expedite their arrival.

“Some of the Jews of Ethiopia are still held in camps under very difficult conditions,” she said.

Designs sought for Jewish Babi Yar memorial


The Jewish community of Ukraine has announced an international architectural contest for a memorial complex in Babi Yar.

After many years of speculation and argument, the community has been granted permission from the Kiev city administration to build a memorial in the ravine outside of Kiev where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed by Nazi gunmen and local collaborators, the majority of them in September 1941.

The land for the memorial was purchased by the Babi Yar Foundation, according to Yosef Akselrud, executive director of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine.

“Before this was done, numerous attempts to grab the land had been taken,” Akselrud told JTA. “We had to go to the court several times. After the last trial was won, we decided to build the memorial as soon as possible to prevent further trouble.”

Applications for participation in the contest will be accepted through late August. Five to seven semifinalists will be chosen to present their detailed projects by the beginning of next year. The winner, who will be awarded $50,000, is to be announced in February.

The first monument in Babi Yar was built in 1976 and dedicated to “Soviet soldiers killed by the German invaders.” In 1991, another monument in the form of a menorah was erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the massacre.

Day at the beach – Omaha Beach


June 6, 1944, may have been the most important day of the 20th century. The Allied invasion of France breached Hitler's Atlantic Wall and decisively turned the war against the Nazi regime.

The invasion itself was a combination of great leadership, detailed planning and a brilliant campaign of deception to convince the Germans that the attack would come at Calais instead of the Normandy beaches. But the final ingredient was the courage of the invasion forces, of which 75 percent were American soldiers. To the Americans fell the nightmare beach to attack: Omaha. It was the most heavily defended and dangerous beach, and it cost by far the most lives.

Had D-Day failed, what would have happened? Would the war effort in the West have become exhausted? Would the concentration camps have been liberated by 1945? Fortunately, these questions will never have to be answered.

Last month, my wife, my daughter and I went to Omaha Beach. We have been in France since September, and this is a trip that I had longed to take. Each semester I spend a full class session on D-Day, because I think it reveals so much — not only about world history but also about the American character.

The Omaha Beach memorial has three important pieces: a creatively designed museum with audiovisual displays, the American cemetery and a path that winds down to the beach itself. The whole D-Day story unfolded at beaches to the north and south, as well, because the attacks took place for miles up and down the coast at other beaches named Juno, Utah, Gold, Sword.

British and Canadian troops joined Americans on those beaches. Attacks on German installations inland were already under way in coordination with the invasion by the French resistance, alerted by coded radio messages from the Allied command.

The museum traces all the intricacies of the invasion planning and execution. The intense secrecy of the invasion plan was dictated by the need to divert the strongest German forces away from the landing site.

Massive deception fooled the German high command right up until the attack and even in the first few days after. The planning was not perfect; in a training exercise for the full invasion force on the English coast, German submarines sneaked in and attacked, costing the lives of more than 700 Allied soldiers.

Even with these snafus, the depth of the planning and training process comes through. This was a well-led project. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's recorded talk to the troops before the invasion is simple and moving, as are accounts of his visit to paratroopers on the way to Normandy.

The decision to attack (moved from June 5) during a break in the stormy weather on June 6 was critical and was, after all, based on something as tricky as a weather forecast. Bad weather would have doomed the invasion.

From the museum you go down to the beach on a winding path. There you can see some remnants of abandoned equipment left as a visual display.

But the real shock is to see how open the beach is, with no real cover or protection for the incoming soldiers. Looming behind you are the hills where the Germans had their guns, with months to set up their lines of fire.

Despite horrific losses in the first wave, the soldiers just kept on coming and somehow made it up the hills and cliffs to silence the German positions. Bold parachute drops behind enemy lines helped turn the tide, but ultimately young American soldiers led by junior officers (taking over for higher-ranking officers who had been killed) had to get their men off the beaches and up the hills.

The cemetery is extremely simple and quiet, as it should be. In neat rows are crosses and Jewish stars with very simple descriptions, all of Americans buried far from home on the soil they had died to liberate. Some are dated June 6, but others are as late as July, a reminder that it took well more than a month to break out of the region and begin in August the push toward Berlin.

Still to come after D-Day were the awful battles of the French hedgerows and the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge. Paris was only liberated in late August.

The French have carefully maintained a network of museums and displays all up and down the Normandy coast. Memories of the American GIs who fought and died to liberate Europe and who marched through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris are still strong.

I thought of all those still with us or who have passed on who served in uniform in that war — including my father, my father-in-law, my uncles (two of whom fought in France and helped liberate concentration camps) — and of my mother, my aunts and the many women who served overseas but mostly on the home front.

Much has happened in the U.S.A. and in the world since that day in June 1944. Our relations with Europe have gone up and down, although our alliance remains strong.

Things may never be quite as crystal clear as they were then, when the fate of the world hung in the balance. I listened again this week to the sober address that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to announce the invasion — in the form of a prayer:

“Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.”

No one knew what the outcome would be.

In facing tough times, Americans have historical resources to fall back upon. Those soldiers who fought their way onto French soil had already lived through the worst of the Great Depression. With great leadership, careful planning and a worthy goal to aim for, Americans have a way of getting there.

It is worth remembering.

Raphael J. Sonenshein, a political scientist at Cal State Fullerton, is the 2008 Fulbright Tocqueville Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the Institut Français de Geopolitique at the University of Paris VIII.

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Part of the memorial at Omaha Beach

Obituaries


Our thoughts go to the families of the men and women who were killed in the Metrolink Train 111 crash in Chatsworth on Friday, Sept. 12.

We also send our prayers to the families of the men, women and children who were killed when a passenger jet, en route from Moscow to Perm in central Russia, crashed Sunday, Sept. 14, during its descent. All 88 passengers, including members of the local Jewish community, were killed: Yevgeny and Lyudmila Sankin, 50 and 53; Anna Spivak and Yakov Spivak, both 32; Sergei Yudin and Valeriya Yudin, 41 and 3, and Ifraim Nakhumov and Golda Nakhumova, 36 and 24, with their children, Ilya Nakhumov, 7, and Eva Nakhumov, 5.



Rea Altman died Aug. 12 at the age of 102. She is survived by her daughter, Phyllis Gelb. Sholom Chapels

Bernardo Azernitzky died Sept. 10 at 82. He is survived by his son, Richard. Sholom Chapels

Sylvia Braun died Aug. 24 at 83. She is survived by her son, Jay; and grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Victor Clafin died Sept. 10 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Paulette; son, Jacques; and granddaughters, Alison August and Ashley. Mount Sinai

Ruth Epstein died Sept. 4 at 95. She is survived by her son, Earl (Helen); grandson, Eric; and granddaughter, Danielle Gebhardt. Hillside

Elias Eshagian died Aug. 8 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Parvin; sons, George, Gilber, Joubin and Roger; 14 grandchildren; brothers, Ezatollah, Mehdi, Benjamin and Maurice; and sisters, Shokat Mishkanian and Farideh Bamshad. Chevra Kadisha

Marvin Freeman died Sept. 7 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Natasha; daughters, Linda Rauch, Traci (Roy) Salter and Karen (Jeffrey) Shapiro; and seven grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Elizabeth Grossinger died Aug. 25 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Susan (Zev) Bogan. Sholom Chapels

Semo Filbert died Aug. 18 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Helen; daughter, Billie (Jack); and two grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Edwin Otto Guthman died Aug. 31 at 89. He is survived by his sons, Gary, Les and Edwin; and daughter, Diane Jo Cincino. Hillside

Evelyn Halpern died Sept. 8 at 90. She is survived by her children, Robert (Anneta Posner) and Deena (Jerry Epstein); eight grandchildren; nephew; and nieces. Groman

Eli Barry Hirsh died Sept. 4 at 41. He is survived by his wife, Irit; mother, Toni; and friends, Adina and Moshe Melnick. Hillside

Celia Lillian Kahlenberg died Aug. 27 at 91. She is survived by her sons, Edward (Deana), Robert (Janice) and Sherwood (Rita); daughter, Ruth (Jacob) Bloom; and sister, Rose Lewis. Hillside

Mildred Golick Kauffman died Aug. 27 at 94. She is survived by her son, Ken Golick; and daughter, Gale Gould. Hillside

George Klasser died Aug. 28 at 73. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; son, Kenneth; daughter, Sandra (Steven) Greenough, and brothers, Alan and Edwin. Hillside

Florence Kaminsky died Sept. 3 at 84. She is survived by her daughters, Karen (Nate) Hoffman and Linda (Michael) Johnson; and brother, Herbert Kapsky. Hillside

Hugo Kren died Sept. 6 at 94. He is survived by his wife, Rosa; daughter, Jeanette (Gary) Lachman; and granddaughters, Heather and Stephnie Lachman. Mount Sinai

Shirley Lane died Sept. 8 at 84. She is survived by her son, Rod; daughters, Laura and Barbara; and three grandchildren. Groman

David Langer died Aug. 30 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Florence; daughter, Andrea; son, Barry; daughter-in-law, Janet; and grandchildren, Robert and Bethany. Hillside

Mira Langer died Sept. 4 at 78. She is survived by her husband, Nathan; sons, Dennis (Susan), David (Melissa) and Bruce (Stefani); seven grandchildren; and sister, Rachel Jaskowitz. Malinow and Silverman

Stuart Levin died Aug. 29 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Jane; sons, Peter (Ruth) and Michael (Lisa); and brother, Maurice LeCove. Hillside

Marion Norma Levinson died Sept. 2 at 79. She is survived by her husband, Bill; and daughters Dharma Khalsa and Nancy Retinoff. Hillside

Robert “Bobby” Mallon died Sept. 10, at the age of 89. He is survived by his daughter, Judith Rojas. Mount Sinai

Joanne Marcus died Aug. 26 at 58. She is survived by her husband, Robert; daughters, Ariane and Alexander; and son, Harry. Hillside

Marvin Marmelstein died Sept. 4 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Roberta; daughter, Wendy Rose; grandson, Bryan Raber; and his partner Jordan Katnik. Hillside

Al Mishkin died Sept. 7 at 95. He is survived by his son, Robert; and daughter, Joyce Saltz. Hillside

Elizabeth Anne Morgan died Sept. 2 at 40. She is survived by her husband, Jack; daughter, Tabitha; and father, Jack Morgan. Hillside

Aaron Peck died Sept. 13 at 69. He is survived by his wife, Linda; son, Anthony (Gayle); daughters, Dena (Shane) Gertsch and Jessica; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Gerald Peck died Sept. 1 at 82. He survived by his wife, Elaine; sons, Bennett and Lawrence; brothers, Robert (Ann) and Burton (Rona); sister, Beverly (Leo); nieces; and nephews. Mount Sinai

Matilda Frances Penny died Sept. 2 at 84. She is survived by her son, Theodore; daughters, Jeanne and Helen; sister, Joyce; and seven grandchildren. Groman

Fanny Pomeranc died Sept. 11 at 86. She is survived by her son, Dennis. Mount Sinai

Bernard Reder died Sept. 6 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Serena; sons, Martin (Susan), Glen (Orly) and Paul (Sherri); daughter, Marina (Spencer) Misraje; seven grandchildren; sister, Gloria (Rudy) Diamond; and half-sister, Kathy (Ed) Stacy. Mount Sinai

Julio Roberts died Aug. 6 at 90. He is survived by his wife, Helen; daughter, Paula (Larry); and three grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Shirley Rocklin died Sept. 3 at age 98. She is survived by her sons, Ted and Milton; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Groman

Michael Alan Rosenaur died Aug. 30 at 30. He is survived by his father, Leonard (Martine) Rosenaur; mother Hope (Richard) Shaw; sisters, Lara (Kyle) Polvy and Chanel Rosenaur; aunt, Sybil Bergman, and cousins, Jayand Lance Bergman. Hillside

David Schwartz died Sept. 2 at 86. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa Leffton; and son, Howard. Malinow and Silverman

Ruth Simon died Aug. 29 at 86. She is survived by her sons, Andy, Peter, Michael and Howard. Hillside

David Slobin died on Aug. 9 at 93. He is survived by his wife, Evelene; children, Myron (Mary Ann), Ellen (Gershon) and Barry (Carol); and 14 grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Adolf Joseph Snyder died Sept. 9 at 89. He is survived by his wife, Marian; son, Larry (Bobbie); daughter, Michelle (Henry) Wisch; and grandchildren, David and Robin. Mount Sinai

Esther Terry died Aug. 31 at 89. She is survived by her daughters, Elaine Dreyfuss, Shane Cronenweth and Lori Erlendsson; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Joseph Weiner died Aug. 1 at 92. He is survived by his son, Jerry (Patti); daughter, Miriam (Steve) Kosberg; seven grandchidlren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Sarah Weinstein died Sept. 7 at 95. She is survived by her daughters, Lois (Rabbi Moshe) Rothblum and Marilyn (Alex) Ehrlich; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Thelma Yaffe died Sept. 11 at 90. She is survived by her daughters, Lois Bloch, Arlene (Marvin) Garfield, Roberta (Barry) Zwick and Martha (David) Uslaner; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Obituaries


Harold Ackerman died July 30 at 96. He is survived by his son, Jerrold; and daughter, Tobi Chinsky. Hillside

David Alper died Aug. 2 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Estelle; daughters, Elizabeth Keran and Joan; and sons, L. Andrew and Robert. Hillside

Jeanette Brauner died July 22 at 91. She is survived by her daughters, Sharon Mathes and Gail; two grandchildren; and brothers, Milton and Mervin Koplof. Malinow and Silverman

Mae Brenner died July 30 at 99. She is survived by her daughters, Lori Keir and Judy Kutchai. Hillside

Dorothy Chait died July 22 at 93. She is survived by her daughters, Judy Standel and Rose; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Sophie Chudacoff died Aug. 4 at 97. She is survived by her daughter, Rhea Clinton, and her grandchildren, Evan and Arthur. Mount Sinai

Eugene Hugh Costin died Aug. 1 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Mitzi; daughter, Cathy; and sons, Rob and John. Hillside

William Cotlow died July 28 at 90. He is survived by his wife, Rosalie; and daughters, Judy (Richard) Julien, Marion (Dwayne) Morris and Leslee. Hillside

Arthur Alan Diamond died July 10 at 72. He is survived by his uncle, William; and cousin, Andrea (Martin Suart). Mount Sinai

Edward Efron died Aug. 4 at 69. He is survived by his wife, Vida; daughters, Elizabeth (Randall) Redondo, Tamara (Mathew) Palumbo, Shoshana (Bruno) and Jennifer (Sig Summer); sons, Daniel and Louis (Evie); one grandchild; and brother, Albert. Malinow and Silverman

Phyllis Fannie Engel died July 27 at 83. She is survived by her husband, Morris; sons, Micheal and Hartley; and brothers, Jack and Allan Chisuin. Hillside

Harris Solomon Frankel died Aug. 1 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Esther; son, Mark (Jodi); daughters, Rycilly Lynch and Eileen; and eight grandchildren, Guthrie, Cody, Kendrick, Danny, Evan, Jason, Bryan and Joel. Mount Sinai

Cyrille Friedman died July 23 at 94. He is survived by his daughter, Sandy Weimer; son, Sam (Laurie Stein); two grandchildren; and brother, Oscar Schwartz. Malinow and Silverman

Robert “Bob” Friedman died July 12 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Eleanor; sons, Alan (Vivien), Mike and Ben (Barbara); eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Dr. Marvin Gilbert died Aug. 4 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter, Tamara (Surja) Tjahaja; sons, Randall and Jason (Barbara Fain); and five grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Jack Goldberg died July 27 at 95.He is survived by his son, Loren Gould; sister, Selma Mannheim; and friend, Dwight Griffith. Mount Sinai

Sally Goldberg died July 31 at 69. She is survived by her husband, Leon; sons, Mark (Becky) and Craig (Sandy); three grandchildren; sister, Beverly (Stan) Berlowitz; and brother, Elliot (Linda) Weinstein. Malinow and Silverman

Sarah Goldberg died Aug. 2 at 101. She is survived by her daughters, Fana Spielberg and Devorah; son, Jack; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Florence Goldstein died July 19 at 93. She is survived by her son, Barry (Keng Wah); daughter, Linda (Gary Brown); grandchildren, Lisa Faite and David; and sister, Renee Pyle. Mount Sinai

Lea Halpern died July 25 at 83. She is survived by her daughter, Leora (Alan) Lanz. Malinow and Silverman

Norma Hammer died Aug. 1 at 82. She is survived by her daughter, Lynne (Elliott) Smith; son, Matthew (Teri) Haymer; five grandchildren; and brother, Leonard Kolkey. Mount Sinai

Victoria Horowitz died July 21 at 89. She is survived by her husband, Harry; sons, Stanley and Lawrence (Diane); grandson, Josh; and sister, Lily Weiwrich. Mount Sinai

Katrina Kane died July 18 at 27. She is survived by her father, Andrew (Sarah); mother, Maggie (Ron) Jacobs; brothers, Nick Forland and Brad; sister, Sabrina Jacobs; grandmother, Valerie; and uncles, Robert Garson and Peter. Mount Sinai

Howard Katchen died July 25 at 72. He is survived by his daughter, Tracey. Malinow and Silverman

Ethel Kipperman died July 17 at 98. She is survived by her son, Steven (Stephanie); grandchildren, Gia and Lara; and great-grandchildren, Alyssa and Cassie. Mount Sinai

Bette Korber died July 20 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Sue (John) Benco; son, Richard; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and brother, Sid Clayman. Mount Sinai

Paul Krasne died July 27 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Nan; daughters, Susan (Steve) Nozet and Linda (Marvin) Dratsinsky; grandchildren, Dana and David; sister-in-law, Jane (Chuck) Fedalen; and brother-in-law, Lloyd (Mary) Goldwater. Mount Sinai

Lucy Israel died July 22 at 86. She is survived by her husband, Joseph; daughters, Rosalind (Larry) May and Sharon (Charlie) Balot; and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Eliahou Moshe Irani died July 8 at 89. He is survived by his wife Florine; sons, Moshe and Abraham; daughters, Carmella and Vera; and eight grandchildren. Eden Memorial Park

Edith Lane died July 30 at 89. She is survived by her son, Robert. Hillside

Rubin Lazar died Aug. 1 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Serene; sons, Mark (Rachel) and David (Sascha); daughter, Robin; and eight grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Charles Lewis died July 26 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Hilda; daughter, Gail (Ken) Jacobs; son, Mark (Fiorenza); and grandchildren, Evan and Sloane. Mount Sinai

Jennee Marks died July 28 at 35. She is survived by her daughter, Breanna; parents, Maxwell and Sophia Litt; and sisters, Tracy (Troy) Christman and Lissa (Lee) Bass. Malinow and Silverman

Eva Nadel died July 28 at 83. She is survived by her son, Harry; and two grandchildren. Groman

Solomon Oziel died July 19 at 85. He is survived by his cousin, Clara. Groman

Said Pakravan died July 11 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Mary; sons, Uri, Danny and Pejman; daughter, Dalia; brothers, Sion and Amir; 12 grandchildren; sisters, Farokh and Toura. Chevra Kadisha

Dr. Jordan Matthew Phillips died July 29 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Mary; and stepdaughter, Vanessa Page. Hillside

Leon Pitson died July 28 at 96. He is survived by his nephew, Jack (Miriam); niece, Pearl (Dr. Rick) Syres; and cousin, Stella (Albert) Soulema. Malinow and Silverman

Else Reissman died July 27 at 91. She is survived by her niece, Susen Kay; and nephew, Mark Herschthal. Malinow and Silverman

Arthur Rubenstein died July 18 at 94. He is survived by his son, Howard (Lauri) Roberts; daughter, Sue (David) Northrup; granddaughter, Rachel (Tim) Davidson; and great-granddaughters. Mount Sinai

Richard Sagerman died July 22,at 73. He is survived by his wife, Audrey; son, Eric; daughter, Nancy; brother, Marvin; and four grandchildren. Groman

Jean Schrager died July 30 at 101. She is survived by her son, Sheldon; and granddaughter, Lisa Elkin. Hillside

Pauline Seewack died Aug. 2 at 100. She is survived by her daughter, Marilyn Katleman; son, Larry (Lois); seven grandchildren and their spouses; and nine great-grandchildren. Hillside

Blessing Semler died Aug. 3 at 92. She is survived by her sons, Allen (Sherry) Haynes, Ronald (Lisa) and Barry; ex-daughter-in-law, Mary; 16 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Marilyn Shapiro died July 20 at 77. She is survived by her good friends, Bonnie Franklin and Judy (Dr. Michael) Bush. Mount Sinai

Dr. Jack Sinder died July 25 at 88. He is survived by his daughter, Penny; son, Marlon; and friend, Nira Roston. Malinow and Silverman

Stuart Speiser died Aug. 3 at 65. He is survived by his wife, Elaine; sons, Jeremy and Robbie (Claudia); granddaughter, Sophie; and brothers, Arnie and Franklin (Liz). Mount Sinai

Allan Summit died July 30 at 92. He is survived by his daughters, Rennie (Rudy) North, Susan Rem and Laurie (Barry) Weichman; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and brother, Aaron (Beverly) Sumetz. Mount Sinai

Pauline Surks died Aug. 2 at 95. She is survived by her daughter, Maxine; and son, Brian. Malinow and Silverman

Melvin Zwicker died Aug. 3 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Helen; daughter, Erica; one grandchild; and sister, Ella. Groman

Obituaries


June Walker, Presidents Conference Chair and Hadassah Leader, Dies at 74

June Walker was in working mode two weeks ago.

On July 21, she presided over a farewell reception for outgoing Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman. Two days later she led a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which she chairs.

Late in the week, however, tests revealed the cancer she had fought for seven years had advanced too far to allow for a new round of treatment. Walker, of Rockaway, N.J., died Tuesday at 74.

“She was such a remarkable fighter,” said Walker’s rabbi, Amy Joy Small. “She did not let it stop her. She had things to do.”

Walker, a former president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, became only the second female to lead the conference last year when she replaced investment banker Harold Tanner as chairperson.

“Leaders of the United States and Israel held her in high regard and respected the person even more than the positions she held,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the Presidents Conference’s executive vice chairman, in a statement. “They, as we, recognized immediately her integrity, her intelligence and the sincerity of her advocacy. I am personally, as is the conference collectively, devastated by her passing.”

Walker’s nomination in April 2007 as chairperson was something of a departure for the Presidents Conference, the main communal umbrella body on foreign policy, which in recent years has been headed by prominent businessmen.

A respiratory therapist, former college professor and health-care administrator, Walker was a longtime community activist whose involvement with Hadassah began as a teenager.

In June, Walker was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa in recognition of her years of work on behalf of Israel, and in particular her devotion to health care in the Jewish state. Walker was one of seven honorees, including a former director of the Mossad intelligence agency and three university professors, but was chosen to deliver remarks on behalf of the group.

“She told me that she was determined she was going to be strong and healthy to get to Haifa and receive this award because it was for her symbolic of her lifetime achievement, something that represented for her a culmination of her accomplishments,” said Small, who accompanied Walker to Israel for the ceremony.

Small recalled that the honorees were to walk across a balcony and down a flight of stairs, a feat that she knew would be challenging for Walker, who was suffering back and leg pain as a result of her disease.

“She held herself with such dignity and such honor you would never have known that she was suffering,” Small recalled. “And she was beaming.”

Later, Small wrote that Walker was “this generation’s Golda Meir” in an article published on the Web site of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.

Walker rose through a succession of positions at Hadassah before assuming the presidency in 2003, a post she held for four years. Under her leadership, the organization raised $75 million for a $210 million inpatient tower at its hospital at Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, and completed a $48 million emergency medicine facility in Jerusalem.

She also grew the student body at the Hadassah College of Technology in Jerusalem from 600 to 2,000 students.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we begin to mourn June Walker, a unique leader and a wonderful friend to many,” said Walker’s successor as Hadassah president, Nancy Falchuk. “June once said that Hadassah embodied everything she was interested in: Israel, women’s empowerment, Judaism, education, medicine and Zionism. But June personified values that Hadassah stands for: pride, dedication, and spirit enhanced by her own personal grit.”

Walker is the first Presidents Conference chairperson to die in office. The group says it has no succession plan.

“We’ve never had it,” Hoenlein said, adding that when top officials have become incapacitated in the past, former chairmen have temporarily stepped in.

Walker taught at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey and was the director of inservice education for pulmonary medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. She is also a member of the Citizens Committee for Bio-Medical Ethics, the American Lung Association and the Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Hatikvah of Summit, N.J., according to her official Hadassah biography.

She is survived by her husband, Barrett; son, Davi; daughters, Julie Richman and Ellen; and six grandchildren. The funeral was held Aug. 31.

— Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency



Oluwaninse Abhay Charan Adeyemi died July 8 at 11. He is survived by his father, Ayodele; mother, Adrienne Liberman; sister, Parama Liberman; and brothers, Manjari and Daniel Liberman. Hillside

Jacob Barad died July 12 at 75. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; and sons, David and Glenn. Hillside

Irene Barton died July 15 at 85. She is survived by her sons, Fred and Mark. Hillside

Mervyn Max Becker died July 21 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Yetta; son, Aaron; daughter, Carla; one grandchild; and sister, Elaine. Groman

Lynda Belasco died July 21 at 61. She is survived by her husband, Steven; son, Joshua; and uncle, Irving (Charlotte) Nudell. Malinow and Silverman

Dr. Murray Gill Boobar died July 7 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Helen; and daughters, Robin Lappen and Mindy Cahan. Hillside

Larry Chalfin died July 20 at 68. He is survived by his wife, Vicki; son, Charles; and daughter, Leah Gordon. Hillside

Edward Chersky died July 17 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; and sons, Robert, Barry and Stewart. Hillside

Mania Sara Cymer died died July 12 at 97. She is survived by her sons, Harry and Max. Hillside

Ilse Erlanger died July 13 at 97. She is survived by her daughter, Susan (David) Leveton; and grandchildren, Steven Leveton and Stephanie Kinedale. Hillside

Frances Gordon died July 15 at 97. She is survived by her nephew, Peter Spring. Hillside

Dr. Lawrence Gosenfeld died July 19 at 67. He is survived by his friends. Hillside

Victoria Harris died July 21 at 100. She is survived by her sons, Godfrey (Barbara), Micheal and David. Hillside

Philip Kozin died July 20 at 96. He is survived by his daughter, Gail (Stan) Holander; and son Howard. Hillside

Anna Landsberg died July 12 at 92. She is survived by her sons, Abe and Raymond. Hillside

Charles Robert Lever died July 16 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Pamela; and stepson, Mark Neilson. Hillside

Diane Rita Mehlman died July 17 at 75. She is survived by her son, Lon; and daughter, Dina. Hillside

Emily Bell Miller dies July 14 at 93. She is survived by her daughter, Joyce (Stephen) Ranger; and granddaughter, Courtney Ranger. Hillside

Terry Lee Miller died July 12 at 69. She is survived by her daughters, Allison and Julie; four grandchildren; and companion, Norman Lieberman. Hillside

Gerald David Novorr died July 13 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Pearl; son, James; and daughter, JoAnn. Hillside

Bernard Rumack died July 21 at 87. He is survived by his daughter, Robin; and sister, Vella Bass. Hillside

Lillian Schafer died July 13 at 86. She is survived by her daughters, Sue Sanders, Lyn Caron and Elaine Thomassian. Hillside

Rubin Schieren died July 21 at 93. He is survived by his daughter, Phyllis (Ben) Berkley; son, George (Ellen); and seven grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Ira Schulman died July 20 at 81. He is survived by his sons, Alan and Russell; daughter, Leslie Mendoza; sisters, Davida Racine and Diane Friend; and partner, Nora Graham. Hillside

Mike Simon died July 10 at 75. He is survived by his wife, Angela; sister, Billie Evenas; and stepdaughter, Patricia Garza.

Harry Talsky died July 17 at 93. He is survived by his children, Leland and Martha. Hillside

Marla Lynn Waldman died July 20 at 51. She is survived by her father, Gerald; mother, Barbara; and brothers, Ron and Craig. Hillside

Hilda Weiner died July 15 at 93. She is survived by her sons, Arnold (Elaine) and Edward (Susan). Hillside