Nicky’s Family movie screening Dec 8th

In memory and honor of those whose lives were irreparably destroyed by “the Night of Broken Glass” Kristallnacht” 75 years ago, the film Nicky’s Family will be screened on Sunday December 8th, 2013 4 PM at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca.

Nicky's family

For synagogue members and families, tickets are free, and available on a first-come first-served basis.

Please reserve tickets after November 18th at the Temple Office.

Sponsored by Temple Beth El Sisterhood, Adult Education and the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund.

Breif synoposis from movie web site:

Nicky’s Family tells the nearly forgotten story of Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II.

Winton did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His exploits would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn ́t found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans.

NYT review here

The silence from this individual about his heroism, even to his wife is remarkable. I wonder if it has anything to do with one of the admirable cultural character traits of the British, namely discretion, non-volubility and an aversion to intimacy that is so different in the US.

I am wondering if this movie would be suitable for a mature almost 10-year old. Any thoughts?



Buying books and other stuff

Unable to take advantage of the wonderful TBE book fair last Sunday?

Book buying opportunities that benefit Sisterhood are ongoing until November 23rd.

This covers sales on ALL BOOKS or ANYTHING ELSE sold on-line at Barnes and Noble.

Free shipping on all orders over $25.

Visit using bookfair ID 11194917 at checkout.


Clifford Orwin talk today

Clifford Orwin

Professor of Political Science, Classics and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

“Will not the judge of all the earth deal justly?” Abraham’s confrontation with God over the fate of Sodom (Genesis 18:19)

Monday November 11th 5.30PM

103 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University

Cosponsored by Freedom and Free Societies, History and Jewish Studies

This event is free and open to the public

Lot and his daughters, painting by Lucas van Leyden 1520. The background shows the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh.

Lot and his daughters, painting by Lucas van Leyden 1520. The background shows the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh.

Kristallnacht November 1938

November 9-10th is the 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, the public orgy of violence as the Nazis set their campaign against the Jews into full motion.

The US Holocaust museum has an online exhibition about Kristallnacht that can be viewed at this link. The personal testimonies are compelling. Many German Jews were completely assimilated, viewing themselves as more German than Jewish. Dealing with the shock of the violence and as Jews were being rounded up and deported to concentration camps, Jews had to comprehend the full scale of the murderous intent of the German state, the general acquiescence of the German population, together with the necessity for escape as possibilities for emigration were fast dwindling.

From the vantage point of 2013, what have we learned?  In the video testimonies, the survivors point to the need to stay vigilant and to the necessity of not being a bystander to injustice.

What should we teach our kids?  Last year, the Bnai Mitzvah class were introduced to the subject of the Holocaust and these are their questions:

what do we want to know copy

At this point in time, there is one particular aspect of Kristallnacht I am thinking I should discuss with my kids – the fact that the destruction of Jewish owned businesses during Kristallnacht was preceded by a boycott of Jewish enterprises. As the USHMM explains it:

Though only partially successful, it (the boycott) served as a harbinger of more drastic policies to come. Throughout the 1930s, German Jewish businessmen were pressured to close their enterprises or sell them to “Aryans” at a fraction of their true value. By April 1938, the number of Jewish-owned businesses had declined from about 100,000 in January 1933 to 39,552

Looking through the lens of history it is impossible to ignore the fact that at the present day efforts to boycott Israel are contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism. The documentary Anti-Semitism Today: How Hostile is Germany towards Jews? states the case very clearly (see this link for additional reporting on the documentary). I would guess that the situation is similar throughout European countries (see this article reporting on a recent survey of European Jews) even though Germany is home to the most actively growing vibrant Jewish community in Europe.

Is it alarmist to suggest that efforts to boycott Israel will legitimize attacks on Jews? What about efforts to ban circumcision? Efforts to ban Shechita currently enacted in Poland?  Yes, the US is a bastion of freedom, but, as “trendy” ideas spread worldwide, these sentiments are espoused on our doorstep (see this link for a local example). We need to be vigilant in challenging the BDS movement.

Our family discussion has touched on one other lesson for our lives today which is that, from the comfort and security of our homes, we should stand ready to take in refugees without thought or hesitation. After Kristallnacht it became increasingly difficult for Jews to escape Nazi Germany. The role of the international community in providing visa sponsorship, pressuring governments to facilitate Jewish emigration etc, was very helpful although sadly insufficient in terms of the demand. These types of activities are reminiscent of the 12th century problems of Maimonedes in his capacity as a Jewish communal leader, who had to raise funds for the rescue of captured Jews held to ransom. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh. My grandparents z”l were assimilated Jews who lived in the UK. I never thought to ask them about how they responded as individuals during this period in history. Did they have the possibility of hosting a child on the kindertransport? In a globalized world, I hope we are able to discern the concrete actions necessary to help others and are ready to sacrifice our own comfort to respond.


ETA The Methodist Church in the UK recently conducted an open survey of their participation in the BDS movement. Check out this Commentator article and keep an eye out for other opportunities to engage in constructive dialog.

אדום and Parashat Toldot

For obvious reasons I meant to share this last week, but rather than wait another year and forget again(!) I thought I would go ahead anyway.

pulp in pan photo

This is Gary’s recipe. In our family we have named this dish “Pulp” from the look of the end result. It won’t win any prizes in the aesthetics department but it has a wonderful flavor and reheats really well.

Pulp (a hearty vegetarian stew)


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 small parsnips chopped
  • 1 12 oz. can tomatoes
  • 2 cups red lentils, washed and picked over
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: extra vegetables such as turnips, frozen peas for garnish

1. Sauté the onion in a little olive oil over a medium heat until golden brown. Turn the heat down and add the garlic. Sauté for 5 mins. Add the carrot, parsnip and extra vegetables if using. Continue to sauté for another 5 mins.

2. Add the tomatoes and allow to amalgamate with the vegetables a little. Add the lentils, water and soy sauce and bring to the boil.

3. Add the dill, marjoram, salt and pepper and simmer for around 45 min, until the lentils have thickened.

4. Serve with fresh crusty bread and some hot sauce on the side. The kids like to add in frozen peas straight from the bag!



ETA it turns out that I am not the only person with the idea of pairing recipes with the week’s Parasha. Check out Leket Israel’s new weekly ”Soul Food” Parasha Project.

Limmud 2013 registration opens up

Limmud 2013

WHAT:  Limmud NY’s 10th Annual Conference
WHEN:  February 14-17, 2014
WHERE:  Hilton Stamford Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut

Register BEFORE 11/15/13 for the chance
to win 
FREE registration for one person.Register BEFORE 11/25/13 for the chance to win
50% OFF the price of registration for one person.

This is the place for some serious reJEWvenation for everybody, from young to old. Highly awesome, I can’t recommend it enough.

For a sampling of some of the intellectual and cultural richness plus the plain old fun, watch the JDOV talks from last year and look at a sampling of the myriad of fabulous presenters who will be there this year.

Please let me know if you are interested in attending, it would be wonderful to have an Ithaca group presence!!!

Financial aid is available and there are special discounts for families and students.