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by SA JEWISH REPORT STAFF | Nov 11, 2015

Four years after the tsunami - a look at IsraAID’s work


TOKYO - When ISRAEL21c president Amy Friedkin was touring Japan recently, she met with representatives of IsraAID, The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid.

“I wanted to see for myself what they’re doing in Japan four years after the tsunami and to learn from Yotam Polizer, IsraAID Global Emergencies director, where else they are in the world right now,” Friedkin says.

She met with Polizer at the Japan International Centre for Trauma and Emergency Relief and showed him the Israel Aid Map recently added to the ISRAEL21c home page.

Polizer explained to Friedkin that IsraAID is the only foreign organisation still on the ground after arriving in March 2011 to provide assistance after the tsunami. This is in keeping with IsraAID’s policy of helping communities move from devastation to self-sustenance, he told her. - ISRAEL21c


Australian Holocaust Centre survivor honoured


MELBOURNE -As an eyewitness to Kristallnacht, it is timely that this year’s Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC) commemoration of the 1938 Nazi pogrom will see communal stalwart Shmuel Rosenkranz , now 93, appointed inaugural life governor of the JHC.

The honour was conferred on Rosenkranz at the Betty and Shmuel Rosenkranz Oration at the JHC on November 8. The oration is held annually to commemorate Kristallnacht.

Viennese-born Rosenkranz has vivid memories of November 9 - 10, 1938, when a Nazi onslaught on Jewish communities in Germany and Austria resulted in 91 immediate deaths, the incarceration of some 30 000 Jews in concentration camps and the burning of more than 1 000 synagogues and 7 000 Jewish businesses. As he and his father took shelter in the Vienna Woods, they watched the flames rising from the city’s torched synagogues.

In 2003, Rosenkranz told The AJN: “I still weep today for what I saw on that night… I saw the synagogues of Vienna go up in flames… I was fortunate to escape into the hills with my late father… We saw the skies lit with the fires of the synagogues.” - Australian Jewish News


Study of British synagogues shows what they’re doing right


LONDON -When American sociologist Professor Steven Cohen went there to carry out a study of British synagogues, he had to learn a new word: “rota”. Was it some kind of food, he wondered, “like roti”.

There were kiddush rotas, security rotas and rotas to help make up the weekday morning minyan. Whereas American congregations generally employ a larger professional staff to run them, their British counterparts depend far more on their armies of volunteers.

Prof Cohen’s report, Exploring Synagogue Vitality, commissioned by the Jewish Leadership Council and co-written with London-based researcher Michelle Terret, was released recently. Often reports are produced to address problems. But this one is different. It was produced largely to show what synagogues are doing right.

It took six congregations from across the country and from different religious streams that were recommended to him as models of their kind.

“In the literature on congregational life, I don’t think you will find anything as detailed or rich about the inner workings of synagogues in the UK,” he said.

While surveys have shown that many Jews in the West have become more secular and there is much talk of “cultural” rather than religious Judaism, synagogues remain a vital part of the Jewish infrastructure. They “manage to deliver community and belonging”, said Prof Cohen.

Three facets particularly stood out for him, he said. “The power of the volunteer culture - the readiness of people to give their time to their communities. Secondly, the extent to which the communities take care of people in need. Thirdly, the commitment to youth and young people.” - Jewish Chronicle


Jewish achievement highlighted at Israel Film Festival

LOS ANGELES - The opening night of the 29th Israel Film Festival (IFF) drew nearly 2 000 people to the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills for a star-studded gathering of Hollywood celebrities and Jewish community leaders.

Honorees at the event - which included a gala and a premiere film screening - were Helen Mirren, the star of “Woman in Gold”, who was given the IFF Career Achievement Award; Aaron Sorkin, who received the IFF Achievement in Film and Television Award; and Sharon S Nazarian, who was recognised with the IFF Humanitarian Award.

A screening of the Israeli film “Baba Joon”, Israel’s official entry for best foreign language film at the 2016 Academy Awards, followed a red carpet ceremony. The movie is a story of familial conflict among three generations of Iranian-Jewish men.

Among those present at the gala was Meir Fenigstein, founder and executive director of the IsraFest Foundation, which organises the festival. Others included actress Diane Lane, who presented Mirren with her award and co-stars with the actress in the upcoming film “Trumbo”; Israel Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel; Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) President E Randol Schoenberg; LAMOTH Executive Director Samara Hutman; and philanthropists Naty and Debbie Saidoff and Stanley Black.

The film festival runs through November 19.-  Jewish Journal (Los Angeles)


Comedy that envisions Hitler’s return


TORONTO- The most popular movie in Germany, Er ist wieder da (Look Who’s Back), based on Timur Verme’s bestselling 2012 novel of the same name, is a Borat-style mockumentary that envisions how German society circa 2015 would react to the return of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, played by actor Oliver Masucci.

The term “Borat-style” is used here because, like Sacha Baron Cohen’s uncomfortable masterpiece, it is shot with both actors and bystanders (reportedly) that interact with the freshly-resurrected Hitler, some of whom are Neo-Nazis thrilled to share the screen with the Nazi dictator, and many who are “normal, middle-class people” who are worryingly susceptible to Hitler’s charms. – Canadian Jewish News



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