Rabbi Snir Gueta, once a promising player in Israel’s national Under-21 team, is now a rabbi who teaches prominent soccer players the Torah. The 31-year-old former midfielder discusses his personal journey and explains why playing on weekdays, instead of Shabbat will increase the number of soccer stars in Israel.
He grew up in the Maccabi Haifa’s youth department, played for Maccabi Netanya, and Israel’s national Under-21 team. Today, Rabbi Snir Gueta is considered one of the most recognized rabbis among Israel’s younger generation.
Seven years ago, the promising midfielder decided to retire from soccer. Driven by his religious beliefs, he chose to forgo the sport he loved in order to uphold further the halachot (Jewish laws) surrounding the Jewish sabbath. Today, he is a married father of three. He receives such a large volume of inquiries that he has been helped by an assistant to help respond to the people seeking his advice. Committed to helping others learn the Bible as he has, he dedicates his time to give lessons every evening, throughout the country.
The Rabbi’s lessons are mostly about virtues, courtesy, faith, and what it means to be god-fearing. Yeshiva students sitting amongst well-known soccer players of Israel’s Premier League are a common sight. “Struggling with the modern balance of today’s personal and professional lives, these motivational speeches help us to gain clarity,” said Rabbi Gueta.
When explaining his decision to quit soccer, the Rabbi said, “It was a very long process. Through lessons of various righteous rabbis, I realized that I was not on the right track as a Jew. I found myself at a crossroads. One choice was to wait until I’m 35, finish my career, then begin my path to becoming the rabbi I knew I could be. The other option was to follow my heart and do what I felt G-d wants for me, beginning immediately.” Rabbi Gueta continues, “In the last year of my career, I had plenty of offers from soccer clubs, but I made the decision to retire. I salute my wife – without her, it would have been more difficult to make the decision; she would have been willing to go anywhere with me.”
“Giving up a soccer player’s salary and retiring was not an easy thing to do, especially for those who were in the position I was in, at the time.” When discussing what he feels when thinking of the life he left behind, Rabbi Gueta quickly answered “I’m not missing anything. It must have been the right decision for me. When Football games are scheduled on a Saturday, it automatically keeps a large religious fanbase away from the sport. Who knows, maybe a few more soccer stars are hiding in the religious sector, and it’s not worth losing them”, added Rabbi Gueta.
Turn your Israeli beach vacation up a notch at one of these fabulous hotels in the Red Sea Resort of Eilat in Israel’s sunny south.
Eilat is the southernmost city in Israel and its undisputed holiday capital, thanks to its prime location on a Red Sea gulf boasting one of the most spectacular coral reefs anywhere.
Combine that with mountain desert scenery, year-round sunshine, beaches and watersports, nightlife, hiking and biking trails, international music festivals, tax-free shopping and attractions such as the Dolphin Reef and Coral World Underwater Observatory Park, and you can see why Eilat attracts millions of visitors every year.
The Reef is a Herbert Samuel hotel in Eilat. Photo: courtesy
The Reef Eilat, next to the Coral Reef Nature Reserve and beach, offers 79 deluxe room and suites for families and couples – some near the main pool, others with adjoining private pool (for adults only). Each room is furnished with a large bath, sitting area and large LCD TV, plus balconies overlooking the Red Sea.
Address: Almog Beach, Eilat Amenities: kosher dining room, gym, complimentary bicycles and snorkeling equipment, swimming pool, wading pool, children’s club (in August), spa, water activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, diving, wind surfing, water skiing, sailing.
The 14-story, 481-room luxury hotel overlooking the Red Sea, Edom Mountains and Eilat Lagoon features a dome-topped entryway spilling natural light on a floor decorated with animal mosaics symbolizing biblical King Solomon’s ability to communicate with animals. The swimming pool is surrounded by animal statues and fountains symbolizing the legendary Queen of Sheba, who brought Solomon exotic spices from her country and was charmed by his wisdom.
Address: 8 Antibes St., Eilat Amenities: Karibu Kitchen & Bar, Makeda Guest Restaurant, Axum Lobby Bar & Restaurant (all kosher), spa, swimming pool, executive lounge, conference and meeting facilities
View from Eilat’s King Solomon Hotel. Photo courtesy of Eilat Information Center
If there’s a queen there must be a king. Across the road from the Queen of Sheba is Isrotel’s King Solomon Hotel comprised of 415 suites and rooms with balconies overlooking the pool or the Edom Mountains. This hotel puts an emphasis on family vacations, while the uppermost “King’s Floors” (10-12) are geared to business travelers and include free access to the King’s Lounge and its sun terrace as well as an exclusive café. The King’s Wharf at the foot of the hotel offers leisure, shopping, and watersports activities.
Address: 1 Antibes St., Eilat Amenities: Café Royale, Angelina Restaurant, The King’s Table, lobby café and espresso bar (all kosher), gym, outdoor swimming pool with waterslides, kiddie pool, Kids Kingdom, services for guests with disabilities
The Fattal U Magic Palace in Eilat is a family resort. Photo: courtesy
The 322-room U Magic Palace is designed as a pampering all-inclusive family resort, with on-site live entertainment, children’s club, teen cooking workshops and poolside shows – something to keep everyone entertained day and night.
Address: 2 Kamen St., North Beach, Eilat Amenities: outdoor swimming pool, indoor heated swimming pool, toddler pool, spa, gym, lobby bar, kosher Blue Lagoon Restaurant, beauty salon, Welcome Baby service, kids’ club, accommodations for guests with disabilities
Isrotel Royal Garden suite hotel in Eilat. Photo: courtesy
The Royal Garden offers 331 suites set on an “enchanted island” with tropical gardens and several swimming pools, including one designed to look like the beach – although the real beach is close by as well. Every suite includes a bedroom, living room, kitchenette and dining area. Next door, the Isrotel Theater features Las Vegas-style shows.
Address: 5 Antibes St., Eilat Amenities: Swimming pool and children’s pool with waterslides, gym, spa, shopping boulevard, minimarket, kosher Mediterranean grill and dairy café, Playzone & Kiddos Club, services for guests with disabilities
Herods Eilat Hotels complex by Yoav Igra. Photo: courtesy
Situated on the promenade and beach, the 91-room Herods Boutique is part of a deluxe triple complex designed by architect/entrepreneur/sailor Yoav Igra, also including Herods Palace for families and Herods Vitalis spa hotel. Herods Boutique is geared to business travelers and features a décor rich with sculptures, arches, mosaics and paintings. Guests can take advantage of amenities at the sister hotels such as live entertainment, spa and children’s club.
Address: 7 HaYam St., Eilat Amenities: Kosher restaurant and lobby restaurant, swimming pool, pool bar, business lounge, gym, windsurfing and snorkeling
The Dan Eilat Red Sea Hotel. Photo by Yehuda Sharoni
The Dan Eilat Red Sea Hotel, chosen as one of the top 10 hotels in the Mediterranean and Africa by Condé Nast Traveler, is located downtown minutes away from the beachfront and across from the large Mul HaYam mall (remember: there is no sales tax in Eilat!). Recently redesigned guestrooms and suites, 375 in all, offer Red Sea-view balconies.
Address: North Beach, Eilat Amenities: Dining room, lobby lounge, juice bar, poolside restaurant (all kosher) outdoor swimming pool (heated in winter) with waterslide, relaxation pool, children’s pool and playground, Danyland children’s day play center, gym, beauty salon, drugstore, executive lounge, squash court, conference facilities, airport shuttle
The Central Park is so named because of its location in the city’s main park, a short walk from the beach and the promenade. The hotel has 170 rooms, among them garden rooms, rooms with balconies, and roomy suites, as well as 27 new efficiency apartments.
Address: Gan Binyamin St., Eilat Amenities: Kosher restaurant, poolside bar, lobby bar, half-Olympic swimming pool, shaded toddler pool, gym, spa, children’s club, arcade, accessible rooms available
Lobby of Soleil Boutique Hotel, Eilat. Photo via Facebook
The Soleil boutique design hotel has 73 rooms decorated in a sea palette, including a junior suite with private sun porch. Guests have all-day access to personalized services to help plan sightseeing in Eilat, book beauty and spa treatments, buy tickets for events, exhibitions, concerts and theater, get reservations in Eilat restaurants, rent a car, and more.
Located on Eilat’s promenade, enabling easy access to the beach as well as recreation and shopping centers, Astral Maris offers a variety of 96 recently renovated rooms and suites with pool or sea views, geared to both family and romantic vacationers. Deluxe rooms feature spa steam bathtubs.
Address: 6 Durban St., Eilat Amenities: Sea Bell Restaurant, lobby bar (both kosher), Astraland kids’ club, outdoor swimming pool with shaded beds on deck
American Jewry is split over whether Donald Trump is the most pro-Israel or pro-Jewish president in the history of the USA. It illustrates how divided and antagonistic the different parts of the so-called United States and the Jewish community are.
Before Trump, most people who knew anything about history would have said it was Truman who in 1947 supported the idea of partitioning the Palestine Mandate into a Jewish and Arab territories. He then voted to recognize Israel at the United Nations, following Israel’s declaration of Independence after the Arab states rejected compromise and declared all-out war. And this, against the overwhelming opposition of his advisors, the State Department, the WASP establishment and the antisemitic lobbies.
I have just been reading George Marshall; Defender of the Republic by David L Roll. Marshall was one of the most powerful and influential of American Generals, diplomats and political figures at that time. He was the man who organized and facilitated the invasion of Europe. He was the father of Marshall Plan that rebuilt Germany and Europe after the war, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954. We might also mention how his directives rehabilitated millions of Nazis and how that was excused as necessary to stop the communists. He was also Secretary of State over the period of negotiating the future of the Jewish State.
When I got to the pages in this biography that related to the emergence of the State of Israel, I could see how strongly he and the top echelons of the USA were opposed to a Jewish State and did all they could to block it. Incredibly Truman stood up to them and won. But it was a very close-run thing and he outcome quite miraculous.
The British were eager after the Second World War to get out of the Mandate for Palestine. It had been created by the League of Nations and assigned to Britain in April 1920 as part of the carve up of the Ottoman Empire. The rise of Arab Nationalism, the massacres by Arabs of Jews in Hebron in 1929 and the failure of the British army and police to deal with the conflict was proving a burden too heavy to bear. Especially for a country so weakened by war as it was trying to divest itself of much of its Empire and responsibilities.
After the war Truman, who as vice president succeeded Roosevelt in April 1945, asked the British to roll back their ban on Jewish immigration to Palestine and allow 100,000 holocaust survivors in. But they refused.
Instead in 1946 they agreed to an Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry. My late father Kopul Rosen who was then the Principal Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues gave evidence to it. One of the American members, Bartley Crum, wrote in his memoirs how impressive and influential his evidence had been.
The Committee recommended that Britain relent on immigration and recommended that both Jew and Arab should run their own communities, eschew violence and the ban on immigration lifted. But it advised against either a Jewish or an Arab State. Britain would not agree. The matter was handed to the United Nations to deal with.
In the summer of 1947 the United Nations Anglo-Palestine Committee recommended by seven to four that the area should be partitioned into two States, Jerusalem should be an international city under UN Trusteeship and Jewish immigration ( banned by the British Mandate Government) should be permitted). The Jewish Agency welcomed the proposal even if the land offered to them was far less than they had hoped for. Something was better than nothing.
George Marshall as the senior American politician and Secretary of State had to decide whether the US should support partition or not. He convened a meeting of John Foster Dulles, UN Ambassador Warren Austin, Loy Henderson State Department General John Hildring and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt . The meeting was antagonistic to Jewish interests and overwhelmingly opposed to partition. Only Hildring and Mrs. Roosevelt spoke in favor.
Marshall was neutral. Although he tried to placate the Arabs by switching the Negev from Jewish hands to Arab. In Truman’s circle only Roosevelt, Clark Clifford Truman’s lawyer and David Niles, were in favor of partition. Marshall very reluctantly agreed to the President’s wish to support partition.
On 29 November 1947,the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was passed, by 33-12 votes. It called for separate Jewish and Arab states operating under economic union, with Jerusalem being transferred to UN trusteeship. Jamal al Husseyni nephew of the Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem announced that they rejected the vote and said “ We will defend every inch to the last drop of blood.” He swore to drive the Jews out. King Ibn Saud wired Truman that “ the dispute between Arab and Jew will be violent long lasting will lead to the shedding of much blood.” The British Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones announced that the British were washing their hands and the Mandate would terminate on 15 May 1948. The British incidentally provided men and arms to the Jordanian Arab Legion who soon captured the Old City of Jerusalem and razed the Jewish Quarter.
Immediately George Kennan and the State Department tried to annul the idea of partition. They argued that Truman would be in danger of losing the upcoming 1948 Presidential election because he would be seen as favoring the Jews. On the other hand Truman knew that no Democrat had ever won the Presidency without New York and New York Jews were on this issue very pro the Jewish State. Truman tried to buy time. He promised Marshall and Dean Rusk that he would not support an independent Jewish State. Marshall and his allies seemed to be winning.
Into this stepped Eddie Jacobson, Truman’s army buddy, business partner and friend from Kansas City. On March 13thhe turned up unofficially at the White House on a Saturday when most staffers were away. For two hours he sat with Truman and tried to persuade him to meet Chaim Weizmann to hear his point of view. Something Truman hitherto had refused. Truman reacted negatively. Complained the Jews were pressurizing him. Jacobson recalled “ Truman at that moment was as close to being an anti-Semite as a man could possibly be.” Jacobson persevered and Truman capitulated. Weizmann came in secretly and convinced him to support partition and to vote to recognize a Jewish State if one was declared.
Meanwhile Marshall’s office leaked news on March 19th that the US was backtracking on partition in favor of trusteeship. Truman was furious at being blindsided. Once again on April 11th Eddie Jacobson went back to remonstrate with Truman who promised him that he would recognize the Jewish State
Marshall and Lovett ( who had succeeded Dean Acheson) heard that Truman had ordered his representative at the UN to recognize the Jewish State before the Soviet Union or any other nation did. Marshall was furious. May 12th at a crucial meeting Lovett shouted at the President that he should resign. Marshall himself threated to resign. The meeting ended in deadlock. Truman gave Marshall time to cool down and then approached him privately and Marshall finally agreed not to oppose him. His words, when asked why should be pasted over the entrance to the White House today were “You don’t accept a post and then resign when the man who has the constitutional authority to make a decision, makes one you do not like !”
12.01am on My 15th Ben Gurion declared Independence. At 6:11 pm in the USA “The United states recognizes the provisional and De Facto authority of the New State of Israel.” The USA did not recognize Israel De Jure until January 13th, 1949.
Was Marshall antisemitic? Clark Clifford and Richard Holbrooke in a book “Counsel to the President” in 1991 wrote that Marshall was indeed amongst the anti-Semites who opposed the establishment of Israel. Roll claims not. He argues that both Marshall and the State Department were concerned with strategic factors alone. Oil, the huge Arab population, and the number of Muslim States at the United Nations. But he agrees that antisemitic sentiment played a large part in the whole issue.
Who knows for sure? I am sure the State Department like the UK Foreign Office in London, were not favorably disposed towards the Jews at best. Indicative of the times and the attitude to Jews was that Truman’s wife had always refused to have a Jew step across the doorstep of her house, even Eddie Jacobson his close friend and partner. So who was the hero and who the villain? Either way, Jews are treated much better in Washington now than then.
drama, comedy, storytelling, dance, stand-up, music, multi-media, 90 min.
Think Orphan Annie meets the NFL meets “Fiddler on the Roof” meets Cinderella. One woman overcomes being abandoned in an orphanage to find “family” – first as a Raiders cheerleader in the NFL, then as a devout Orthodox Jew, and finally as a wife and mother who would never forsake her child. A touching and hysterical true-life story.Recommended for: all audiences.Links: show, video, related.
2019 United Solo is the world’s largest solo theatre festival, currently in its 10th anniversary season. All shows are staged at Theatre Row: 410 West 42nd Street, New York City. TICKETS, with a price of $45 (plus a $2.25 Theatre Restoration Charge) are available at the Theatre Row Box Office and online through Telecharge at www.telecharge.com. You may also call Telecharge at 212-239-6200. When placing your reservation, please provide: the FESTIVAL name (United Solo Theatre Festival), the name of THEATRE (Theatre Row – The Studio Theatre), and the specific DAY and TIME of SHOW you would like to see.
Today’s Kosher Wines Stand Up to Any Other Top-Rated Wine, Says Noted Wine Expert
Rosh Hashana, the holiday that marks the New Year on the Jewish calendar, is around the corner, bringing with it a new wave of world-class kosher wines.
Blogger and wine expert Gabriel Geller, Director of PR and Wine Education Manager for Royal Wine, recently shared insights and observations from inside the wine industry. He reports that the new releases, produced by innovative newcomers and venerated estates alike, are really something to get excited about.
“Whether we’re talking about Herzog wines from California, Terra di Seta wines from Tuscany, Elvi wines from Spain, or Netofa from Israel, it’s clear that today’s kosher wines can compete with any other top-rated label. Quality is everything. Drinking kosher wine is no longer a compromise in quality.”
For example, the Herzog winery, a state-of-the-art facility in Oxnard, California, has produced award-winning wines from some of the most prestigious American vineyards for decades. And since the 1980s, the company has been cultivating and acquiring vineyards of its own. “These producers have introduced some of California’s finest and most well-regarded wines,” says Herzog’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Jay Buchsbaum. “Kosher is just something we ‘happen to be.’”
Herzog Wine Cellars has responded to the sparkling wine boom with the latest addition to its award-winning Lineage value line: Herzog Lineage Momentus, an elegant, refined, off-dry white sparkling wine ($19.99). Also new is the festive and semi-sweet Jeunesse Belle Rouge ($14.99).
Herzog has also demonstrated that 2016 was also a notable year for California Cabernet Sauvignons. The Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016 and the Herzog Special Edition Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford District 2016 feature outstanding balance, quality, power, and panache.
On the Bordeaux front, Château Guiraud is expected to release a 2017 kosher cuvée by the end of the year. This premier Classé Sauternes had not made kosher wine since 2001. Château Gazin Rocquencourt will also release the second kosher vintage of its award-winning red wine. Equally exciting is the release of Gazin Rocquencourt Blanc 2018, made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. “Royal had foreseen the growing interest in premium, complex kosher white wines,” says Geller, “and took action. It’s now coming to fruition with a stellar Graves white produced at this great estate which is owned and operated by the celebrated Château Malartic-Lagravière.”
Also notable are wines from Netofa Winery, which recently made a major comeback to the United States. This estate boutique winery in the Lower Galilee prides itself on growing grape varieties well-suited to the local limestone-rich soil and Mediterranean climate. Its wines are praised by consumers and critics alike. “Netofa demonstrates that wines from a hot climate like Israel’s can be complex, full of character, well-structured, and easy to drink at the same time,” says Geller. He describes the Netofa Tel Qasser White 2017 as “a remarkable expression of Roussanne” and the Netofa Dor 2016 as “an astonishing take on Tempranillo.”.
Geller also notes that Israeli wines are making quite the buzz this year. That’s largely due to the rollout of Wines of Israel, a campaign targeting members of the trade and wine enthusiasts across the U.S. Initiatives include a Grand Tasting event in New York City on September 10, 2019, and presentations at all key industry events throughout the year. Wines of Israel is joint effort of Israel’s Export Institute, 27 Israeli wineries (11 of which are represented by Royal Wine Corp.), and their American distributors.
In short: whether you’re kosher or not, whatever your budget, no matter what style of wine you enjoy, there’s much to look forward to at this year’s holiday table. Royal Wine wishes all a sweet New Year.
About Royal Wine/Kedem
Founded in 1848, Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia. Today,Royal Wine’s portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina.
Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.’s spirit and liqueur portfolio offers some of the most sought-after scotches, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs.
The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities.Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.
During a visit to Spain in 1989, His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco met with the leaders of the Spanish Jewish and Spanish Muslim communities that originated in Morocco. In this meeting, the King delivered a powerful statement:
“I do not consider you Jews of Moroccan descent because Moroccan nationality is never lost. We consider you and all your brothers who live from Israel to Canada, in Venezuela, France, England, America, Latin America, and elsewhere, as Moroccan subjects who enjoy all the rights that the Moroccan Constitution grants you… Your rights are guaranteed by the Constitution because there are two events in the reign of my father Mohammed V and mine… Mohammed V made you Citizens. In my Constitution, I made you full Moroccans.”
The speech, in which King Hassan II invoked the national identity of Moroccan Jews in the diaspora, was made in Spain after almost the entire population of Jewish nationals had migrated out of, or were forced to flee, Morocco between the 1950s and the 1970s, due to spreading Arab nationalism and opposition to the State of Israel within Moroccan society.
In the late 1990s, the Foundation of Jewish Moroccan Cultural Heritage (FJMCH), a Jewish community organization, pushed to establish the Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca, Morocco, in order to raise awareness of Jewish identity in Moroccan national public discourse.
Today, despite the absence of Jews in Morocco — with only approximately 2,000 living primarily in the city of Casablanca — and some lingering anti-Semitism throughout the country, the Museum of Moroccan Judaism and other initiatives are attempting to rehabilitate the memory of the Jews of Morocco as indigenous Moroccan nationals and equal subjects of the Kingdom.
The modern history of Jews in Morocco
Moroccan Jews from Fez, circa 1900. From the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. Via Wikimedia Commons.
The Jewish Virtual Library estimates the Moroccan Jewish population was at a height of 265,000 in 1948, when the State of Israel was established. Only approximately 60,000 Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel after its founding, with the vast majority staying in the next decade to come.
However, the independence of Morocco from France in 1956 brought clashing ideas of national identity to Moroccan society that obligated non-Muslims, particularly Moroccan Jews, to justify their Moroccanness. In a time when advocates of Pan-Arabism — the ideology of unifying all the Arabic-speaking countries in one nationalist union — had begun to instigate anti-Jewish sentiments across the region, Moroccan Jewish members of government took to newspapers such as La Voix des Communautes, a Jewish newspaper for public servants, to write in their defense.
Approximately 200,000 Moroccan Jews still remained in the Kingdom following Morocco’s independence in 1956. However, Morocco’s entrance into the Arab League in 1958 led to more pressure from Pan-Arabists like Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nassar to define Moroccan national identity as Arab and Muslim. The result of this ideology on Moroccan society was the mass migration of Jews from Morocco, leaving only 50,000 in 1968, 18,000 by 1978, 4,000 by 2011, and 2,150 by 2018.
A little history on the Museum of Moroccan Judaism
The Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca, the only Jewish museum in the Arab world, was founded in 1997. The old villa where it is located, far from the center of the city, was originally established in 1948 as a home for Jewish orphans, constructed in memory of Murdoch Bengio by wife Celia Bengio.
Courtyard just beyond the villa’s main entrance. The museum wall reads “Dar al-atfaal Murdoch Bengio” (Arabic) and “Home enfants Murdoch Bengio” (France), which translates as “Murdoch Bengio children’s home”
In the late 1970s, the orphanage became a yeshiva, an Orthodox Jewish seminary or religious school, for approximately ten years. In 1995, Simon Levy, Jacques Toledano, Boris Toledano, and Serge Berdugo, founding members of the Foundation of Jewish Moroccan Cultural Heritage (FJMCH) not only helped to turn this site into a Museum of Moroccan Judaism, but also began restoring and protecting the vanishing structures and culture of Moroccan Jewish communities around the Kingdom of Morocco.
Today, Zhor Rahihil, a Moroccan Muslim woman who studied the anthropology of Muslim-Jewish relations in Morocco, serves as museum’s curator. Although most of the funding for the museum comes from multiple private sources, the curator position is funded by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture.
Author Pablo Jairo Tutillo Maldonado alongside museum curator Zhor Rahihil
The Museum of Moroccan Judaism has provided a space that is not steered by the nationalist attempt to expel the Jewish minority from Morocco’s national history but is rather working to re-emplace it in its memory, building a contemporary narrative of a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society in Morocco, indicating that Jews were, are and could again be a visible part of Moroccan society.
The museum is working to reconstruct a national identity for Moroccan Jews because this identity has faded. Contemporary Moroccan society predominantly views Moroccan Jews as foreigners, and unfortunately some members of the current generation have developed anti-Semitic views. I’ve selected a few items to analyze that reflect the intentions of the museum.
Emphasizing national identity and traditions in the museum
The contents of the 700-square-meter museum include a variety of sections. There are numerous pieces of metal work produced by Moroccan Jews, artifacts that belonged to synagogues, and different types of traditional attire for Jewish wedding celebrations.
Keswa lakira, velvet embroidered with gold thread, from 19th-century Marrakesh
Representations of traditional dress that appear throughout the museum demonstrate its narrative of national unity. Wedding ceremonies are a particularly special life cycle event that brings family members and different generations together.
Artifacts from weddings represent an important form of national unity, and exemplify the museum’s intention to show that Moroccan Jews embody the same traditional attire and customs as Moroccan Muslims. The chairs used in marriage celebrations, decorated with eight-pointed stars, and traditional Moroccan motifs and colors reflect the Moroccanness of the Jewish community.
Black velvet caftan embroidered with gold thread, from Fes
The keswa lakbira (“big dress”) and the caftan offer an example of the traditional elements that have helped maintain the feeling of Moroccanness for Jews. The green velvet bridal dress is very unique to the traditions of weddings in Morocco, both in color and in the use of belts. The long shawl to cover the head and shoulders of the bride also signals a quintessentially Moroccan wedding celebration.
To the visitors of the museum, both foreign and local, the impact is significant. The clothes look identical to what any Moroccan Muslim bride would wear. The impact on Moroccan Muslim audiences, regardless of their generation, is a feeling of familiarity. It feels as if they are seeing themselves, creating a sense of mutual belonging of Jews and Muslims to the Moroccan nation.
Missing narratives: Migration and geopolitics
While the Museum of Moroccan Judaism provides a platform to join Arab, Muslim and Jewish groups into a unified Moroccan national identity, it also neglects the various historical narratives that divided those groups. The absence of narratives of everyday social and political life of Moroccan Jews from the museum seems to serve a purpose, portraying the nation as multicultural and pluralistic, without considering the negative and dark parts of its history.
Andre Levy’s book “Return to Casablanca: Jews, Muslims and an Israeli Anthropologist,” delves more deeply into the special history of Moroccan Jews in the 20th and 21st centuries, revealing an isolated existence for modern-day Jews in Morocco, and strained Jewish-Muslim relations that make a unified, multicultural Moroccan national identity uncertain. Still, while the museum represents a constructed, even artificial united national narrative, it supports the renegotiation of national identity for a critical purpose: to advance the incorporation of Jews into the past, present and future of Morocco.
Reviving a multicultural Morocco
Contemporary Morocco is grappling with its Jewish history. But organizations like FJMCH and Association Mimouna, a group of Moroccan Muslim students, have taken the initiative to rehabilitate and preserve Jewish traditions, history and memory in Morocco. They deserve recognition for commemorating the existence of Moroccan Jews and promoting coexistence.
Museum plaque highlighting the 2011 Moroccan constitution preamble.
The modern Kingdom of Morocco is itself playing a major role in asserting the indigenous presence of Moroccan Jews, and in reconstructing a unified, multicultural national identity in contemporary Moroccan consciousness. In 2011, the Moroccan government enacted a new addition to the constitution, acknowledging Morocco’s “Hebraic” legacy alongside that of other ethnic groups. Still, the legacy of Jews’ forced migration from Morocco, and continuing anti-Jewish sentiments as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, continue to influence the most recent generation of Moroccans.
While these continue to be difficult topics, there is a pocket of Moroccan Muslims who are working within civil society in to build stronger ties with fellow citizens (and former fellow citizens) of other faiths. In Fez and other cities, historic Jewish cemeteries and synagogues are guarded by Moroccan Muslims, and in Marrakesh, a revived Sephardi synagogue hosts local Moroccan Muslims for activities and community projects. In Casablanca, university students are researching Moroccan Muslim-Jewish relations.
Those involved in civil society initiatives that promote coexistence and integration, and those involved in research and initiatives like the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, are the future of a multicultural and pluralist Morocco.
Thank you to Kara Schoonmaker for exceptional support with the editing of this article, and to Dr. Kathie Friedman and Dr. Arzoo Osanloo for their input on the subject.
Note: The opinions expressed by faculty and students in our publications reflect the views of the individual writer only and not those of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.
About the Author:
Pablo Jairo Tutillo Maldonado is a second-year MA student in Middle East Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Pablo obtained his BA in International Relations and a minor in Arabic Studies from Connecticut College. Pablo has studied at Alexandria University in Egypt and at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. At the University of Washington, Pablo has been researching the intersection of history and politics in countries in the Middle East, particularly the political and historical narratives of Jewish refugees, Syrian refugees and other forced migrants from the Arab world.
“Music saved my life. I was in the camps, the ghettos and the forest. Music gave me strength.” Leopold Kozlowski (1918-2019)
Clarinet, accordion, saxophone, bandoneon, percussion instruments and more came together on 20 August for the 13th annual “Mashiv Haruach” concert of Jewish soul music, which took place in Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square. Over one thousand Holocaust survivors, members of their families and Yad Vashem supporters filled the festively lit plaza, enjoying
classic Klezmer pieces played by 19 veteran and novice Klezmer musicians from Israel and around the world.
Child musician at the annual “Mashiv Haruach” concert at Yad Vashem
The light and sound extravaganza was the finale of the “Clarinet and Klezmer in Jerusalem” international masterclass students, under the musical direction of Hanan Bar-Sela. Every year, the artist classes culminate at Yad Vashem, with a festive performance in honor of the Klezmer musicians who were murdered during in the Holocaust – some of whom are immortalized in the Pages of Testimony stored in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names.
Comedienne and actress Odaya Koren emceed the evening:
“Klezmer and comedy usually go together. Just as the Klezmer accompanied the Jews throughout the life cycle, so, too, did humor accompany this people in its joys and troubles – even in the darkest moments.”
The “Mashiv Haruach” concert took place at the Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem
Koren also paid tribute to Holocaust survivor Leopold Kozlowski, also known as the “Last Klezmer of Galicia” who passed away in March this year at the age of 100. Hailing from a family of Klezmer musicians, Kozlowski taught many students in the tradition of his ancestors, helping them diverge from arranged music. “The notes in Jewish music are in one’s heart,” he told them. “It will tell you how to play.” A multitalented man, Kozlowski also played the theme music of the famous Holocaust feature film, Schindler’s List.
“This performance here at Yad Vashem brings full closure to the Jewish musical tradition. After all, it was here in Jerusalem that it all began. As we were driven out of this country, we packed our piccolo with us. We took the hymns that the Levites sang here with us everywhere we settled: in Yemen and Lithuania, in Poland and Morocco. And when we came back, we brought with us all the wonderful traditions we created there. There is therefore no more appropriate place than Yad Vashem to celebrate Jewish music, which will remain forever,” concluded Koren.
Comedienne and actress Odaya Koren emceed the “Mashiv Haruach” concert
The concert took place with the support of the Ministry of Education and in cooperation with the Clarinet and Klezmer in the Galilee Association.
Chabad Shlucha Nechama Libersohn talks about the return of Judaism to Spain
With its charming stone alleyways and stunning ocean views, Barcelona is one of Europe’s most visited cities. Tourists pour in to enjoy the sunshine, sports and stunning architecture. Yet the city’s ancient archways bear silent testimony to more than 1,000 years of rich Jewish life, snuffed out by the Spanish Inquisition and the Expulsion in 1492.
Since 1999, Rabbi Dovid and Nechama Libersohn have directed Chabad activities in the city. In an interview with Chabad.org, Mrs. Libersohn shares how she, her community and her family have grown in these past two decades.
Q: You are from France, and your husband is from Mexico City. How did you end up in Barcelona?
A: It began before my husband and I even met. He traveled through Spain for two summers as part of Chabad’s Merkos Shlichus Roving Rabbis program. Together with Rabbi Avrohom Lapidus, now of Yeshivas Toras Emes in Jerusalem, he visited many cities, including Barcelona, where he made many connections. He even returned one year to run a camp during winter vacation for Jewish children.
After we married in 1998, we settled in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., where my husband continued his rabbinical studies.
One day, he picked up a Spanish-language newspaper and saw an ad for a Jewish teacher in Barcelona. He called the number and discovered that the person on the line was someone he knew from his visits.
That was 20 years ago, and we’ve been here ever since.
Q: What was it like for you? Was it difficult to adjust?
A: When I look back to how it was when we first began, I am so filled with gratitude to G d for how far our community has advanced. When we arrived, there was a small store, which sold kosher meat and other basics, a credit to the hard work of local community leaders. But there was much more to be done. Today, thank G d, there is a wonderful restaurant and high-quality kosher catering, both under my husband’s supervision.
Before we left, we were visited by the late Rabbi Binyomin Klein and his wife, Leah. Rabbi Klein told us always to remember that the Rebbe was going with us, and that’s something I’ve truly felt here. We experience miracles all the time. Things grow and develop in ways we could not have ever imagined.
Mrs. Leah Klein, a dear friend, gave me a bread machine. She told me that I would be living in a place with no pas Yisrael food items to buy, and this would allow us to have fresh bread every day. She was so right, but I could not even imagine at that time what it meant that we were moving for the rest of our lives.
We arrived a little more than two months before Purim, and we prepared 15 mishloach manot packages to distribute. Someone called to thank us for the gift and ask why we gave it to her. She, like so many others, had no idea how Purim is celebrated. Today, I am glad to say that dozens of people give us mishloach manot every year, many taking care to pack them with Israeli products and other foods they know to be kosher. We’ve really come a long way as a community! We see the Rebbe’s blessings every single day.
I also had to adjust to the Spanish language. Many people here don’t really know anything other than Spanish or Catalan, so I had no choice but to pick it up.
Q: What’s the community like?
A: Of course, there are no Jews here with very deep roots in the community since practicing Jews were banned from living here from 1492, and Jewish life wasn’t officially allowed to resume here until 1968.
We believe that there are at least 4,000 Jews living here, mostly immigrants from Morocco and Argentina. We know many of them, but there are still more we have yet to meet.
At our Pesach Seder, we host 800 guests, and we have many hundreds at High Holidaysand other events at our Chabad House.
When we came, there weren’t even three families keeping kosher. All the events we were invited to, bar mitzvahs, weddings etc., were non-kosher. Today, 90 percent of them are kosher, thank G d (many of them supervised by my husband). Today, some of the most religious families have relocated to cities with better Jewish education, so there has been a lot of progress on that count.
Two years ago, we inaugurated our new Chabad House, which we thought would have ample room for everything we do. Thank G d, we’ve already outgrown it.
Q: What makes your work different from that of the thousands of Chabad emissaries around the globe?
A: In many ways, it is very similar to what our colleagues are doing. We teach Torah, run programs, help people through the cycle of life. One thing that is different here are the waves of Jewish tourists.
When we moved, there was one direct flight to Israel every week. Now, there are five flights a day.
Just yesterday, we hosted 40 Israeli tourists for breakfast, and that’s an ordinary occurrence here. One of the women opened up her wallet and showed me a dollar she received from the Rebbe. She has carried it with her for the past 30 years.
Tourists take a lot of work, and sometimes they require a lot of patience, but I am reminded over and over again that everyone is special, and everyone has a story.
Q: Barcelona is famous for its Jewish history. Great Jewish leaders like the Ramban and the Rashba lived there, and then there were the dark days of the Inquisition. Is that felt in the city?
A: The truth is, you need to dig deep to find the city’s Jewish past. It’s there, but it’s not obvious as it is in other cities.
For this reason, it’s especially poignant to see Jewish life blossom in the very same place where Judaism was so brutally snuffed out. When we first arrived, I remember seeing the Spanish names on the mailboxes. They were the same family names I knew from the Jewish historical novels I read as a child. I asked the neighbors if they knew anything about the city’s Jewish history and its tragic end, and they said they didn’t. It was painful to see how Jewish history had been erased from the city.
Every year, we hold a large Chanukah menorah-lighting in El Calle, the historic Jewish quarter. Jews were once burned at the stake here for clinging to Judaism; today, we celebrate Judaism on those very same streets. That touches me very deeply.
My husband does a lot of work with the youth, our future. Sunday school, winter “camp,” programs and trips are just some of the ways we educate the next generation.
As we speak, he is in Poland leading a group of 35 local Jewish teens who have just graduated high school on an 11-day tour that will continue in Israel. Many of them have been in our Sunday Hebrew school from age 4 until adolescence, and he makes sure to keep them involved and inspired.
Q: What’s it like for your children?
A: They hardly have friends of their age in the city. But for them, this is the only life they’ve ever known. The kids are an integral part of what we do. They help with our programs, attend events and really take responsibility for the success of Chabad and the community here. As difficult as it may be in some ways, their childhood is very special, and I hope they will treasure it when they grow up.
I have the utmost appreciation for the Nigri International Online Shluchim School, which has given our children a stellar Jewish education right here in Barcelona. We speak Hebrew at home, the language of instruction in the European division of the school. Through the school, the kids have developed friendships with children of Chabad emissaries all over Europe. The kids “live” on the computer, where they chat with their school friends. They socialize, sing together, dance together and just have fun as if they were in the same room. Thank G d for technology!
For every child’s bar or bat mitzvah, we surprise them by flying in a school friend—a friend they know so well but have never seen in person. The most recent time, our daughter was speechless when her friend surprised her at the door. I just stood and cried.
Once they reach high school, the children go to Israel. Our oldest has been away from home now for six years. For me, this is the most difficult part, having to part from my children. I take comfort in the Rebbe’s assurance that he personally took responsibility for the children of shluchim.
Q: What are your expectations for the future?
A: When we first came, I remember someone told me that we would not last a year. That was 20 years ago. We now direct a lively and beautiful Chabad center. We recently broke ground for a new mikvah. People used to tell my husband not to wear his black hat in public since they were afraid for his safety. Today, there are rabbinical students working with us, and no one thinks twice. Our boys have walked in Barcelona’s streets with a yarmulke and tzitzit from the youngest age.
We’ve become a natural part of the cityscape. When we came, the only shluchim here were Rabbi Yitzchok and Shifra Goldstein in Madrid. Now, we are also blessed to have fellow Chabad couples operating centers in Valencia, Ibiza, Girona and Marbella.
With G d’s help, we will continue to grow and mature as a community in the years ahead.
An award-winning playwith music and song–Based on her own diaries and poems, thestory of a heroic young woman who risked everythingto save Jews fromthe Holocaust–
Fresh fromthe stellarsuccess of Fiddler on the Roofin Yiddish, theNational Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF), winner of a 2019 Drama Desk Award,will present Hannah Senesh, an award-winning play based on the diaries and poems of a heroicyoungwoman who risked her life to save European Jews from the Holocaust, and who paid the ultimate price.Hannah Seneshwill be performed from July 29 throughAugust 18at the Museum of Jewish Heritage –A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, NYC. Tickets for previews start at $39, regular season tickets start at $49and are available at www.nytf.org.Hannah Seneshwill be performed in English.The performance is part of NYTF’s season of “Spiritual Resistance,” which featuresartistic and theatrical works that explore themes of struggle against oppression. The programming provides artistic expression concurrent withthe exhibition Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away.being presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage –A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
Lexi Rabadi stars in the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene’s one-woman show, ‘Hannah Senesh (a play with music and song)
The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbienewon a 2019 Drama Desk Award for its work last season.Presented with music and song, this one-woman show tells the true story of Hannah Senesh, one of many Jews who escaped from Axis-allied Hungary in 1939 to the safety of British Mandate Palestine. There she joined Haganah and then bravely volunteered for a daring Special Operations mission to parachute back into Europe to save Jews from Nazi hands. She was ultimately caught by Nazi forces, tortured, and executed at the age of 22. Despite these circumstances, she refused to betray her companions.Hannah’s story and indomitable spirit, along with the moving diary and poetry that she left behind,serve as an enduring inspiration to people everywhere standing up to the powers of hatred and oppression.
The play, written and directed by David Schechter, wasoriginally developed in collaboration with Lori Wilner, the actress who first played Hannah onstage in 1984. The script, adapted from Hannah Senesh’s diaries, was translated from the Hungarianby Marta Cohn and Peter Hay. Music for HannahSeneshwas composed and arranged by Steven Lutvak.
Lexi Rabadi plays Hannah Seneshin this production. A graduate of Pace University, with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a minor in Arts & Entertainment Management, her credits include roles as:Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast(Fulton Theatre), Chava in Fiddler on the Roof(Maine State Music Theatre), Belle/Mrs. Fred in A Christmas Carol(Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), and Rabbi in Angels in America(Pace University). “This astonishing true story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit,”saidNYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek. “I can think of no better work to embody our current season’s theme of Spiritual Resistance.” “This production is, in essence, about the willpower of a single human being”said NYTF Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner. “Lexi Rabadi is the perfect actor to channelthe real-life Hannah Senesh’s courage and force of will in the face of overwhelming evil.”
The Creative Team includesCourt Watson, Scenic Designer; Izzy Fields, Costume Designer; Vivien Leone,Lighting Designer; Kenneth Goodwin, Sound Designerand Stephanie Gonzalez, Props Master. Jamibeth Margolis, CSAis the casting Director/General Manager. EmilyPaigeBallouis the AEA Stage Managerand Britni Serranoisthe Production Manager.NYTF’sproduction of Fiddler on the Roofin Yiddish sold out for six months before moving to an Off-Broadwaytheater uptown. It has won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a New YorkDrama Critics’ Circle Award special citation and has been nominated for Lucille Lortel Awards, Drama League Awards, a Chita Rivera Award, and an Off-Broadway Alliance Award.Hannah Seneshwill preview on July 24 -28, with21performances July 29 –August 18, 2019.Hannah Seneshwill be performed in English.
For tickets to Hannah Senesh, andother performancesin NYTF’s season of “Spiritual Resistance,” visit NYTF.org or call 212-213-2120 Ext. 200. For group sales and membership call212-213-2120 Ext. 204
Rising musician studies with nationally recognized performers through scholarship named for West Orange educator and accountant
Ori Chen, a 23-year-old student pianist from Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, became the first young artist to receive the Robin Hodes Jacobs Scholarship, an annual award granted by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Department of Arts Education and the Jacobs family of West Orange.
The scholarship was created earlier this year in tribute to the late Robin Hodes Jacobs, and commemorates her lifelong love of music and arts in education. Mrs. Jacobs, who died in 2018, is survived by her husband Roger and their children Rachel and Joshua.
“She loved Gershwin and Broadway shows, and she could play all of those,” Mr. Jacobs recalls, noting that he gave Mrs. Jacobs a baby grade piano for her 30th birthday, which she played daily. Although she never performed professionally, music was a way for Mrs. Jacobs to relax and to connect with family, Mr. Jacobs says.
The scholarship in Mrs. Jacobs’ name is dedicated to assisting young people in the study of music. Chen, who will enter the New School and Conservatory of Tel Aviv’s joint BFA program in jazz this Fall to pursue her career as a jazz pianist and composer, was granted a scholarship that allowed her to attend NJPAC’s All-Female Jazz Residency in Newark this summer. There, she studied with acclaimed performers including pianist Ellen Rowe and jazz violinist and MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow Regina Carter, the program’s Artistic Director.
“This program was a huge step forward in my musical abilities and skills,” says Chen, who spent the residency living on the campus of Rutgers University-Newark, with a dozen other aspiring musicians.
“I feel like I’ve gotten the most precious gift by this scholarship. The future of a young artist can be completely changed when someone decides to help them fulfill their dreams. I know this scholarship did that for me,” she says.
After seeing Chen perform at the residency’s final showcase, Mr. Jacobs decided to announce a new effort to raise an additional $50,000 for the Robin Hodes Jacobs Scholarship. The first $5,000 donated to the scholarship fund will be matched by Mr. Jacobs. Those who wish to make a contribution in support of the scholarship fund may call (973) 353-7566.
An accomplished pianist and choral singer, Mrs. Jacobs began her career in special education, and also worked for many years as a certified public accountant. She played piano throughout her life, even during her final illness.
“She had many favorites. She loved Leonard Bernstein and ‘West Side Story,’ and she played and listened to many show tunes,” Mr. Jacobs says.
“She would have enjoyed seeing the NJPAC students perform. It really was inspirational,” he says.
Next season, the scholarship will enable a young pianist to attend NJPAC’s year-long Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program, which offers weekly lessons and ensemble rehearsal, as well as a program of performances in the city and beyond. As the scholarship’s underlying fund grows, more students from underserved communities will be assisted in pursuing musical studies through annual grants from the fund.