Posts Tagged ‘Jew’

When I ask myself

May 2, 2010

When I ask myself “Who am I”?
I’m a little Sphardi, a little Ashkenazi
A little Israeli, a tiny drop of galuti (exile),
maybe I’m religious, maybe secular
But to myself,
I am a Jew and that’ special.
Not better than another, not worse,
Simply a Jew.

Sometimes a soldier, sometimes a student,
I have a lot of past and see future.
Sometimes a Mitnaged, and sometimes a Chasid,
Maybe materialistic, maybe spiritual, but always, always
I am a Jew and that is special.
Not worse, not better, a bit different,
Simple a Jew Jewish.

Suddenly I came back from afar, so we can be here together.
I will be secure, I’ll return to laugh,
live comfortably without fear.
I am a Jew and that is special.
Not worse, not better, a bit different,
Just a Jew.

Nothing will break me my brother,
My soul is a part of Eternal Light Above.
To repair the world – that’s my motto,
I was born this way. I am a Jew.

Basically, Jews, just like other religions,
have festivals, Shabbatot, customs and Mitzvot.
Even though everyone says that He is right
In the end we are all Jews before the Heavenly Throne.

I am very afraid of baseless hatred,
Love my land and love my nation.
I was here and there all over the world,
I have two opinions on what to ask and a third opinion,
Because I am a Jew and that is unique.
Not worse, not better, a bit different,

Simply a Jew

How one man is helping his country to remember

April 1, 2010

A controversial project aims to write the Jewish people back into Polish history, says Louis Jacob

Sunday February 21 2010

IN Poland, it’s never really a good time to bring up the Jewish thing. It is present always, but only as an illusive undertone, one which seems at times to have been lost to the whispers of ghosts on the haunted tracks from Krakow to Auschwitz and from Warsaw to Treblinka.

So when large murals with the bold statement ‘I Miss You, Jew’ began to appear on the walls of once Jewish neighbourhoods in Poland, people were a bit confused. Some were downright insulted.

In a cafe not far from Prozna, the only surviving street of the Jewish ghetto where thousands of Jews lost their lives in the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, I meet the creator of the murals, Rafal Betlejewski, a Warsaw-based artist.

His desire to create his own narrative, one which he hopes will ultimately lead him to a greater understanding of his own ‘Jewish complex’, inspired him to create the project. After six years of preparation, the ‘Tesknie za Toba Zydzie’ (I Miss You, Jew) project and website were launched on January 27, to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial day.

The aim is to create an accessible online archive. Rafal’s idea is simple.

“Local people in those towns and neighbourhoods once populated by Jewish people, will gather around an empty chair and declare ‘I miss you, Jew’. The photos of these actions, along with testimony and old photos from anyone who wishes to contribute, will be posted on the website. It has already been a notable success. It’s amazing how many Poles want to write warm letters to the long gone Jews.”

Rafal sees the slogan and the murals as an attempt to reclaim a language which he feels has been turned over to anti-semitism and to recast the memory of the Jews in the minds of the Polish people.

“When you understand that Poland had been the main Jewish country for six or seven centuries and that it had produced such an enormous load of cultural content, suddenly you realise that the holocaust was actually ‘our great loss’. Poland is poorer now. We are not the same nation. Our cities don’t have the same flavour or poetry and literature is less vibrant,” Rafal says.

Ten years ago, Jan Tomasz Gross, a professor of history at Princeton University and a Polish Jew, published a controversial book entitled The Neighbours. It told the story of the village of Jedwabne in north east Poland, where on July 10, 1941, the Jewish inhabitants were rounded up and locked into a barn which was then burned to the ground, killing up to a thousand people. Gross’s shocking contention was that contrary to popular belief, it was the Polish people of the village who perpetrated this crime, and not the Nazi occupiers.

According to Rafal, it demolished an accepted narrative that he and so many others had been made to believe in school.

“No one wanted to believe it, me included. Because of this book and the whole public outcry surrounding it, I suddenly realised how little, if anything, I knew about the Jews in Poland. Being just a regular student of the pre-1989 Polish education system and a reader of mainly Polish literature, a sheep to Polish Catholic culture if you like, I had no idea whatsoever as to the role the Jews had played in the history of Poland,” he explains.

Like many Poles of his generation, Rafal felt little empathy with the Jews, whose plight had simply not played a part the shaping of his own consciousness. He feels that he had no way of knowing that they used to live here in such numbers.

“I did not know their customs, language, philosophy, poetry, tradition etc. And I absolutely had no idea of the holocaust and its gravity,” he says.

He decided to travel to Jedwabne.

“I realised that it was a no-man’s-land, a place where no Polish person could truly define themselves, because everything they pertained to know was wrong. The repression of the Jewish memory, if you will, had not been accidental, it had been a concerted political effort and it is my opinion that the Jews had been tragically wiped out for a second time, in being removed from the national myth.”

He hopes that the project, which runs for a year, will represent a positive platform on which Poles can communicate repressed feelings, a place where a nation can begin to “break the spell of statistical truth, the numbers, and the dates. I hope that we can begin to connect to what used to be the real Polish-Jewish experience: the face-to-face, next-door kind of coexistence. In many ways I feel we really do ‘want’ to miss them.”

Sarkozy’s first grandson, circumcised according to Jewish tradition

March 12, 2010

Feb 02, 2010
Paris, France – Bris Performed on French President’s First Grandchild

President Sarkozy with son Jean

Paris, France -French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s first grandson, Solal, was circumcised according to Jewish tradition.

Solal, the son of Jean Sarkozy and Jessica Sebaoun, was born January 13 in the western Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

“It happened like all circumcisions, with a rabbi and a mohel,” Jean Balkany, the president’s friend, who was present at the brit for Solal, told Jewish radio Radio J.

President Sarkozy did not attend the brit, apparently because of work-related obligations, but Balkany said the president’s entire family was present, including his parents and brother.

Jessica Sebaoun is “a very observant Sephardic” Jew and the French president “sees no problem with that,” said Balkany, a member of the French parliament and mayor of Levallois-Perret, a town northwest of Paris.

Balkany, who is a Jew (his father was deported to Auschwitz), said that when he met Sarkozy more than 20 years ago, one of their first conversations was about their shared “Jewish origins.”

Sarkozy’s first grandchild was named Solal, after the hero of a novel by Swiss writer Albert Cohen. The first name Solal comes from the Hebrew ‘Solel’ which means “to carve a path,” showing the way for others and leading by example.

Jean Sarkozy is a law student and regional councilor west of Paris. He married former high-school classmate Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress of a Jewish family that founded the electronics retailer group Darty. The Darty family founded what became an eponymous nationwide chain of big-box home appliance stores, now owned by Britain’s KESA Electricals group.

The French president, who turned 55 last month, has two sons from his first marriage – Jean and Pierre – and a third, 12-year-old Louis, from his second.

Nicolas Sarkozy has Jewish roots as his mother Andrée was born to the Mallah family, one of the oldest Jewish families of Salonika in northern Greece.