Yom Kippur Shooting In Germany Adds To Rise In Anti-Semitism

October 31st, 2019|

The shooting that left two dead and several injured in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur is the latest indication of a worldwide rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Reportedly, the Halle attacker shot at the door of a synagogue in an attempt to gain entry. Foiled, he shot at people standing nearby.  Inside, some 50 worshippers were observing the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

In response to the shooting, the Anti-Defamation League reported that violent anti-Semitic episodes in the United States had doubled in 2018. In Canada, the government reported a 4% dip in anti-Semitic attacks last year, but only after a sharp rise in 2017. Anti-Semitism is a top concern in Germany, where data shows reported incidents rose 10% last year, according to Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center, and where the trial of a group of alleged neo-Nazis planning an attack in Berlin is under way. In the United Kingdom, the Community Security Trust charity recently reported a 10% rise in incidents during the first six months of this year. In the Czech Republic, the Federation of the Jewish Communities reported a rise in anti-Semitic incidents last year.

                  In the marketplace in Halle, Germany, people take part in a minute of  silence and a demonstration against anti-Semitism. AP Photo/Jens Meye

Dutch Reckon With National Railroad’s Holocaust Deportations

October 31st, 2019|

According to the historian David Barnouw, many Dutch people regarded the wartime performance of their railway system, the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, as heroic, reported Nina Siegal, The New York Times, Sept. 29, 2019. In September 1944, the Dutch government in exile in London ordered the railway workers to strike, which they did for almost eight months until the end of the war.

This strike, however, came after the Dutch national railroad had already deported some 107,000 Jewish residents of the Netherlands to transit and extermination camps, such as Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, on commission from the German occupying forces. Only 5,100 survived.

Now, new research published in a Dutch book that was released on Sept. 17, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Dutch railway strike, indicates that there were more transports than previously thought, and moreover, that the Dutch national railway had set up special services to facilitate the German-run deportations.

The book, De Nederlandse Spoorwegen in oorlogstijd 1939-1945 (The Dutch Railroad in Wartime, 1939-1945) attempts to clarify the role of the railroad under German occupation, and to offer a comprehensive accounting of the trains and their impact. In all, the researchers found 112 Dutch trains went from the Netherlands to Nazi camps in Germany, Austria and Poland from June 1942 to August 1944.

In 2005, the Dutch national railroad officially acknowledged that it had collaborated with the Nazi occupiers and apologized for its role, The Times said.

[Photo: Jews at Westerbork, a transit camp, northeastern Netherlands, 1942. Westerbork photo]


A Small Uptick In Jewish Population Figures Is Reported

October 31st, 2019|

According to the American Jewish Yearbook 2019, the number of Jews worldwide stands at 14.8 million, compared to 14.7 million last year. About 5.7 million Jews live in the United States, and about 6.7 million live in Israel.

Here are the current Jewish population figures for other countries: France, 450,000; Canada, 392,000; Great Britain: 292,000; Argentina: 180,000; Russia, 165,000; Germany, 118,000; Australia, 118,000; Brazil 93,000; South Africa, 67,000; Ukraine, 48,000; Hungary, 47,000; Mexico, 40,000; Holland, 30,000; Belgium, 29,000; Italy, 27,000; Switzerland, 19,000; Chile, 18,000; Uruguay, 16,000; Sweden, 15,000; Spain, 12,000.

Around 26,000 Jews live in Arab and Muslim states: 15,000 in Turkey; 8,500 in Iran; 2,000 in Morocco; and approximately 1,000 in Tunisia. Countries with 500 or fewer Jews include Bermuda, Cuba, El Salvador, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Surinam; Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia, Bosnia, Indonesia; the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan,  Thailand, Kenya, Congo, Botswana, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe Yemen, Syria and Egypt.


Proposed Abrahamic Family House

October 2nd, 2019|

An aerial night view rendering of the proposed Abrahamic Family House, including, from left, a mosque, a church, and a synagogue, on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. The three houses of worship will stand together as a symbol of the kind of religious tolerance for which the United Arab Emirates wants to be known, and is meant to be seen as a sign of hope.                                             Adjaye Associates image

Diary Of Slain Jewish Girl In Poland Released In English

October 2nd, 2019|

“A Polish teenager in southeastern Poland began keeping a diary months before the advent of WWII,” Joanna Berendt wrote in the New York Times. Berendt explained how the girl, Renia Spiegel, chronicled life under two totalitarian regimes: the Soviets who advanced from the east, and the Nazis who came from the west.

The diary, kept in a safe deposit box in New York City for decades by Renia’s sister, Elizabeth Bellak, has been described as a counterpart to Anne Frank’s diary, a valuable historical document and a poignant coming-of-age story. The sister said she couldn’t bear to read it, knowing that Renia had been shot dead by the Nazis when she and her parents were discovered in hiding. But Elizabeth’s daughter, Alexandra, recognized the historical value of the diary, and sought a publisher.

Now, the 700-page journal, titled Renia’s Diary,  has been published in English and released to bookstores in 13 countries, including Britain, Germany, Russia and the United States.

2,600-year-old Seal Excavated

October 2nd, 2019|

A 2,600-year-old seal bearing a Hebrew name was uncovered recently in earth excavated in 2013 from beneath Robinson’s Arch at the foundations of the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem. The seal bears a name and also a role — the most prominent in the courts of the kings of Judah and Israel. The seal, which was used to sign documents, bears the Hebrew name and title “Adoniyahu asher al habayit.” The term, which means royal steward, is used throughout the Bible to describe the most senior official serving under a king of Judea or Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted the initial excavation. The seal signifies a link in the long chain of Jewish history in Jerusalem, said Doron Spielman of the City of David Foundation, which operates the site where the seal was discovered.

Eliyahu Yanai photo, City of David

Seal of First Temple-Era Royal Steward Found In Jerusalem

October 2nd, 2019|

Bloomberg Philanthropies has partnered with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to expand Hazira, a new effort to advance civic innovation in Israeli Municipalities.

Hazira, currently active in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beersheva, will expand the I-Teams program to 12 new cities in Israel over five years. The aim is to encourage innovation in order to provide city leaders with reliable ways to adapt and implement solutions that improve the lives of residents. “Cities have to find creative ways to address complex challenges with limited resources. Innovation teams help them do that,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies.