Spotlight on Ms. Magazine

Not long ago, I wrote here about an issue that I have had to grapple with more and more in recent times: the conflict between my liberal-leaning background and the anti-Israel tendencies of too many people who claim the label of “liberal.”

So I can’t say that I’m as surprised as some people–feminists who are also pro-Israel–seem to be by Ms. magazine’s blatantly anti-Israel behavior (and its lame attempt at damage control). If I were a Ms. subscriber, I’d cancel my subscription right now. And you can bet that I’m regretting the fact that once upon a time I paid a fee for the privilege of having my fiction considered for a contest it ran.

On the other hand, as a gesture of support for Lilith editor Susan Weidman Schneider’s role in speaking out against the decision made by Ms., today I renewed my subscription to her magazine.

A Visit to the Center for Jewish History

Last Sunday my parents and I headed downtown to the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street. We had two goals: to visit the exhibit on “Alfred Dreyfus: The Fight for Justice,” and to see the one on “Jewish Chaplains at War: Unsung Heroes of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ 1941-45.”

For those new to it, the CJH is, according to its Web site, “a unique partnership of five major institutions of Jewish scholarship, history, and art: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.” The Dreyfus exhibit belongs to the Yeshiva University Museum segment; “Jewish Chaplains at War” is linked with the AJHS.

Since the exhibit on the chaplains was on the main floor, we started there. The story of Jewish chaplains in World War II is not entirely new to me. Still, I was incredibly moved by the photographs and objects on display. One photograph of a Jewish chaplain leading services for Buchenwald survivors was overwhelming. (Although much of the exhibit appears to be online, that piece of it does not seem to be.)

Then we continued on to the Dreyfus exhibition. According to the brochure I picked up there, the exhibition was organized by the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris. Which might explain the fact that I was able to read/understand much more of what was on view than were my (non-French-speaking) parents.

I’ve known a lot about this historical episode for a long time. And yet, it still affects me profoundly. Maybe it affected me even more this time, seeing some of the actual fabric ripped from Alfred Dreyfus’s uniform during his dégradation in January 1895.

It’s an extensive exhibition, one that will take you much more time to absorb than you’ll need for “Jewish Chaplains at War.” You can catch it until February 17. And while it will help you to have some facility with French, that’s really not required. Je vous le promets.

Notes from Around the Web

This week PBS debuts a new series on “The Jewish Americans.” Look for more information on the series Web site.
I’m grateful to Gershom Gorenberg and Hadassah magazine for introducing me to Israeli poet Haim Gouri, in a profile published in the January 2008 issue.
Last month AJC Executive Director spoke in Berlin about “The U.S.-Israel Relationship: Fact and Fiction.” We can now read the text of his speech online.

Wishes for Tom Lantos

Sad news broke today:

“U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor elected to the U.S. Congress, is retiring because he has cancer.”

Read the entire story here.

I remember well Congressman Lantos’s visit to our Temple in New Jersey back when I was in religious school. He was inspirational. I wish him all the best, and will recite a Mi Shebeirach for him.