World

Seeking Kin: Honoring those who assured Nazi loot’s return

Harry Ettlinger, right, and Dale Ford, U.S. soldiers who served in the Monuments Men, are shown in 1945 or 1946 inspecting a Rembrandt self-portrait in a salt mine where the Nazis stored stolen and hidden art. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration)

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost friends and relatives. BALTIMORE (JTA) — Like many immigrants from Germany who fought in the U.S. military during World War II, Harry Ettlinger served his adopted country by translating captured materials and interpreting during interrogations of enemy prisoners. But within… Read more »

In France, Marseille Jews look to Paris and worry that their calm may be fleeting

Elie Berrebi, director of the Jewish Consistory of Marseille, at the city's Great Synagogue, Oct. 14, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

MARSEILLE, France (JTA) — At a time when Jewish institutions across France resemble military fortresses for their security, entering the great synagogue and main Jewish center of this picturesque city on the Mediterranean coast is as easy as pushing open the front door. The only obstacles on a recent… Read more »

Medieval Jewish banquet in small Italian town resurrects forgotten menus

Bar-Ilan University historian Ariel Toaff being served a double-roasted goose and baked onion salad by a "medieval" waitress in Bevagna, Italy. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

BEVAGNA, Italy (JTA) — In a medieval tavern in 21st century Italy, waitresses in archaic costumes served a tepid, chalk-white substance the texture of oatmeal to tables filled with slightly skeptical diners. Sweet yet salty, and flavored with a mix of unexpectedly tangy spices, it turned out to be… Read more »

20 years on, El Al crash in Amsterdam still spawns conspiracy theories

Rabbi Raphael Evers speaking with spectators at the commemoration ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the crash of an El Al plane in Amsterdam, Oct. 4, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Chemical weapons, nuclear debris and Mossad agents in biohazard suits all have played prominent roles in the dozens of conspiracy theories surrounding the crash of an El Al airplane here 20 years ago this month. But Rob Oudkerk, vice chairman of the Dutch parliament’s inquiry into… Read more »

In Ukraine, new funds for survivors brings high — some say unrealistic — expectations

Holocaust survivor Larisa Rakovskaya in her Odessa apartment, Sept. 14, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

ODESSA, Ukraine (JTA) — In her dilapidated apartment, Larisa Rakovskaya examines a stack of unpaid heating bills. Sick and alone, the 86-year-old Holocaust survivor and widow is preparing for another encounter with the cold, her “worst and only fear.” Rakovskaya says her hope of staying warm this winter lies… Read more »

Man with a mission: Italian pianist revives music created in concentration camps

Dancers outside the 13th century Scolanova synagogues in Trani, during the Lech Lecha Jewish culture festival, September 2012. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

TRANI, Italy (JTA) — Francesco Lotoro resurrects the music of the dead. Since 1991 the Italian pianist has traveled the globe to seek out and bring to light symphonies, songs, sonatas, operas, lullabies and even jazz riffs that were composed and often performed in Nazi-era concentration camps. “This music… Read more »

In Scandinavia, kipah becomes a symbol of defiance for Malmo’s Jews

Jews from Copenhagen and Malmo attending a Holocaust commermoration ceremony in Malmo's Jewish cemetary, Sept. 23, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

MALMO, Sweden (JTA) — Across Scandinavia, the kipah is becoming a symbol of Jewish defiance. On Sunday, about 70 Danish Jews took a double-decker bus from Copenhagen on a 10-mile bridge across the Strait of Øresund, on the Baltic Sea, to go to Malmo in a show of solidarity… Read more »

Rabbinic ordination highlights contrasts for today’s German Jews

Left to right, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu and newly ordained Rabbis Dani Fabian, Reuven Konnik, Naftoly Surovtsev and Jonathan Konits, following their ordination ceremony at the Synagogue Community Center in Cologne, Germany, Sept. 13, 2012. (Photo by Uri Strauss)

(JTA) — For four men in Germany, this Jewish New Year will be like no other. It will be their first year as ordained rabbis, working to help build Jewish life in the very country that nearly succeeded in wiping out European Jewry. In ceremonies held Thursday at the… Read more »

Poland’s reviving Jewish communities come (way, way) out

Right to left: Jakob Staszevski, Tyson Herberger and Rebecca Herberger at Kalatowki Lodge in southern Poland, Sept. 6, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

ZAKOPANE, Poland (JTA) — In southern Polish woods, an unfamiliar blast alarms hikers and wildlife as it pierces the still of a misty morning. It has been a long time since a shofar echoed in these mountains. At the narrow end of the traditional Jewish horn are the puckered… Read more »

Latin America’s Jewish communities grow, confront challenges

Participants celebrating during services at the World Union for Progressive Judaism Conference of Jewish Communities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August, 2012. (Diego Melamed)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — When the Sao Paulo Hebraica Sports Club and Community Center in Brazil opened the Aleph School earlier this month, it welcomed 450 students and had 120 more on the waiting list for next year. Hebraica, which is similar to an American Jewish community center,… Read more »

From under police protection, Europe’s Jewish gems try to shine

Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament, speaking at the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels, March 2012. (Courtesy European Parliament)

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Under the gaze of a dozen police officers, a single file of Belgians forms outside the Great Synagogue of Europe. Waiting to enter the shul on its annual “open day” — when the synagogue throws open its doors to the public — many on this Sunday… Read more »

Europe’s Jewish and pro-Israel groups pushing EU to classify Hezbollah a terrorist group

Wim Kortenoeve, a pro-Israel Dutch lawmaker, in his office at the Dutch Parliament in The Hague. (Courtesy Wim Kortenoeve)

THE HAGUE (JTA) — With little time to prepare his next move in trying to get the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist group, Dutch lawmaker Wim Kortenoeven studies a copy of Lebanon’s trade agreement with Europe over a late-night dinner of Italian salad and German beer. The… Read more »

New Dutch translation of Talmud a tribute to Friesland’s nearly vanished Jews

Frisians in traditional garb celebrating Fisherman's Day in Harlingen, Aug. 31, 2012. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

LEEUWARDEN, Netherlands (JTA) – When Jacob Nathan de Leeuwe found himself returning nearly two decades ago from his home in a suburb of Amsterdam to this isolated idyll he calls “the end of the world,” it undoubtedly was the pull of his roots. De Leeuwe’s family had lived in… Read more »

Holocaust reparations: The back story

(Jewish Ideas Daily) — On July 10th, dignitaries from the U.S., German, and Israeli governments attended a celebratory ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum marking the 60th anniversary of the first agreement between the West German and Israeli governments and the Jewish “Claims Conference” to grant modest financial… Read more »

Hungarian intellectuals relieved to see anti-Semitic play scrapped

A demonstrator outside the New Theatre in Budapest was part of a crowd of more than 1,000 protesting the appointment of the theater's new director, Gyorgy Dornerr, Oct. 22, 2011. (B. Molnar/latogato.blogspot.nl)

(JTA) – It’s a relieved Judit Csaki from Budapest that calls journalists with the anticlimactic news: The dramatic news conference on state-sponsored anti-Semitism that she had scheduled for next week is canceled, as Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos has just announced the scrapping of plans to stage an anti-Semitic play… Read more »

Awareness of Ludwig Guttman, the ‘angel of the Paralympics,’ is undergoing a revival

Portrait of Sir Ludwig Guttman, founder of the Paralympic Games (Photo via Stoke Mandeville)

LONDON (JTA) — In 1917, Ludwig Guttmann, a young German Jew volunteering as an orderly in the local Accident Hospital for Coalminers, came across a strong miner with a broken back. The patient, he was told, would be dead within three months. In fact, he died after five weeks.… Read more »

New generation of Russians now making its mark

(N.Y. Jewish Week) — They’ve moved beyond the chess games on Ocean Parkway and the Brighton Beach boardwalk strolls, those clichéd markers of the Russian immigration wave of the 1980s and ‘90s. “We’re night and day from our parents’ generation,” said Esther Lamm, a native of Lvov who leads… Read more »

Down under, a furor over a Jewish publisher’s attack on boat people, Muslims

Australian Jewish News publisher Robert Magid stirred controversy with his article arguing that Muslim boat people deprive sanctuary to legitimate refugees. (Australian Jewish News via AJDS)

SYDNEY (JTA) – An article on illegal boat people by the publisher of Australia’s main Jewish newspaper has ignited a storm of protest, with some critics savaging it for “vilifying Muslims” and promoting “xenophobic, Islamophobic and heartless sentiments.” Titled “Curb your compassion,” Robert Magid’s article published in the Aug.… Read more »

Australian court’s failure to extradite alleged ex-Nazi raises ire, questions

Marika Weinberger, a Holocaust survivor and former president of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. (Henry Benjamin)

SYDNEY (JTA) — In a court ruling that is bringing new attention to Australia’s failure to prosecute alleged Nazi-era war criminals, the government will not surrender to Hungary the man believed to be the country’s last World War II war crimes suspect. The nation’s High Court ruled Wednesday that… Read more »

Jewish glory, frustration mark London Games

Israeli-American men's basketball coach David Blatt led the Russian national team to the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. (Christopher Johnson via CC)

(JTA) – The London Olympics may have “lit up the world,” as organizing committee head Sebastian Coe put it, but for Jews the 2 1/2 weeks offered healthy doses of frustration and glory. On the plus side, new medalists such as America’s Aly Raisman gained the spotlight with her… Read more »