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Ellen R. Portnoy

Our recent European adventure had the added delight that our daughter and her fiancé came with us for the cruise section of the trip. They live in Israel, so we do not see them very often. In fact we were looking forward to getting to know our future son-in-law a bit better.

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Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn

Standing behind Rabbi Cukierkorn

The board of directors and congregants of Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City stand behind our rabbi, Jacques Cukierkorn. He has been a steady, strong and inspirational leader since our founding four years ago. We appreciate him and his family for staying with us when it would have been easier, in many respects, for them to leave. Our congregation’s warmth and inclusiveness owes much to Rabbi Cukierkorn’s values and leadership. We look forward to his service as our rabbi for many years to come. 

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Mary Greenberg

The recent bout of commentaries on fighting anti-Semitism fall far short of what needs to be done.

We Jews need to proactively address the critical problem of anti-Semitism. In his wisdom, Rabbi Hillel asked three questions: “If I am not for me, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? If not now, when?” 

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“Drawn From Water: An American Poet, An Ethiopian Family, An Israeli Story” by Dina Elenbogen. (BkMk Press, 2015.)

In the past few months the problems facing Ethiopian Jews in Israel have been regularly in the headlines. An Israeli policeman beat an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, and his actions were caught on video. Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis began protesting in Tel Aviv, calling attention to Israel’s biased treatment of its Ethiopian citizens. Like African-Americans in the U.S., Ethiopian-Israelis primarily live in low-income housing. Few of them have been given college opportunities. A large percentage of Ethiopian Jewish men are in prisons. Dina Elenbogen’s memoir of her friendship with some Ethiopian families over 25 years presents readers with a more nuanced view of the experiences of Ethiopian immigrants to the Holy Land.

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Rabbi Mark H. Levin

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

When you were a guest of the United States Congress in March, you insisted that the American Congress listen and respond to the words of Iranian leaders that threaten the State of Israel. You were adamant that we take words seriously.

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Rabbi Mark H. Levin

No one lives by biblical law. No one. If they did men would be allowed to marry multiple wives simultaneously, stubborn and rebellious sons could be stoned by communities (Deuteronomy 21:18), and anyone gathering sticks on Shabbat could be legally killed (Numbers 15:32). Everyone would celebrate the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

What, then, do people mean when they say, “The Bible prohibits people from doing that,” if they don’t observe what the Bible commands in other aspects of their lives?

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Rabbi Rick Shapiro

The last week in May saw us riding a roller coaster of emotions in our Beth Torah community. First we had the joy of honoring and paying tribute to Rabbi Reice and Aaron Nielsenshultz for their service to Beth Torah, but then had to say goodbye to Aaron and his family who left two days later for Philadelphia. We celebrated the festival of Shavuot and rejoiced with nine young members of our community as they celebrated their confirmation. Then, the very next day, I had to officiate at the funeral of a 20-year-old member of our congregation — Jason Arkin — who had taken his own life after suffering for eight long years with mental illness.

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Evan Traylor

So, what exactly is your background?”

“Both of your parents aren’t Jewish, are they?”

“Wait, so you’re just like a Jewish Barack Obama!”

Growing up as a half-black and half-white person who is also Jewish definitely raised some interesting questions and responses upon “revealing” my identity to my friends.

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Recently, the Israeli consul, based in Chicago and the German consul met at the Jewish Community Campus. They discussed the diplomatic relationship between their respective countries which was established in 1965. They agreed that Germany is a strong supporter of Israel. It was an event not to be missed. Thanks to the Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee CRB for presenting the discussion.

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Over the years Chronicle contributing reviewer Andrea Kempf has reviewed several books about Jews of Iraq. The list below may whet the appetite for the subject for those planning to visit the exhibition “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” currently on display at the National Archives through Aug. 15, or may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this Jewish community. Viewing hours for the exhibition, which is free and open to the public, are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

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Don’t ever run again

Rabbi Levin’s article in The Jewish Chronicle’s July 2 edition provides an important consideration of Judaic pluralism. It brought to mind a short tale told by Rabbi Margolies, ohav shalom, known in this community for his forceful initiation and subsequent fostering of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. He tells the story of his village Kiryat Moshe Montfiore (now in Israel) in 1929 when it was suddenly surrounded by Arabs.

As a youngster of 8 years of age, he remarked, “We had to make a run for it, from our house into the interior of the village on foot. 

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Incomplete picture of events

In his cogent — and mostly impartial — analysis of former Ambassador Michael Oren’s new book about the American-Israeli relationship, Mr. Cohen (“With ‘Ally,’ Michael Oren lifts the veil on U.S.-Israeli relations, June 25, 2015) ignores one cogent fact that is central to understanding Ambassador Oren’s point of view. In his years prior to making aliyah, Michael Oren worked for a political establishment that has spent the last eight years doing nothing but vilifying President Obama and his family. Apparently he carried that perspective with him when he made aliyah, and it pervades his perception of the relationships between the United States and Israel. Indeed, if any additional evidence of this were necessary, one need only read his June 19, 2015, piece in Foreign Policy purporting to explain President Obama’s attitude toward Muslims, an article that has been disavowed and condemned both by multiple Israeli officials and retiring ADL National Director Abe Foxman. In counterpoint to Oren’s invective, we would be well served to listen to the likes of current U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Secretary of State John Kerry, who it would seem have a much more complete picture of the events than Ambassador Oren describes.

Rabbi Rick Shapiro

Interim Rabbi

Congregation Beth Torah

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