Steven Spielberg’s anti-Semitic experiences in Phoenix

From JTA News & Features:

NEW YORK (6NoBacon) — Steven Spielberg knows how to fight anti-Semitism: apply peanut butter. In a revealing interview, he told Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” about the traumas of his childhood in suburban Phoenix, Ariz., where he was bullied and mocked for being Jewish.

“I denied it for a long time, my Judaism,” Spielberg said. “I often told people my last name was German, not Jewish. I’m sure my grandparents are rolling in their graves right now hearing me say that. But I think that I was in denial for a long time.” Spielberg’s mother said, “People used to chant ‘The Spielbergs are dirty Jews.’ ” One day young Steven decided to retaliate. As he recalled, “I took Skippy peanut butter and smeared it all over [my anti-Semitic neighbor’s] windows.”

Spielberg eventually decided to channel his emotions, and his relationship with his parents and religion, into filmmaking. The rest, of course, is history.

Interfaith events: peace-in action, Imam speaks on eradicating extremism

Here are some programs that we thought readers may be interested in:

Experience Interfaith, a Peace-in-Action event, will be held tonight in downtown Phoenix.

The event includes a faith fair reception from 5-5:55 p.m. and a dinner and program 6-8:30 p.m. Many different faith traditions will be represented. Fred Missel will give a shofar-blowing lesson. No proselytizing is permitted.

The dinner is a Sikh Langar, a vegetarian meal that will be prepared by several Indian restaurants, that is eaten by sitting on the ground (chairs will be available if needed). There will also be small group discussions.

Location: 115 N. Sixth St., Phoenix. Cost is $5 students, $15 adults. Purchase tickets here.


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has participated in several interfaith dialogues with rabbis, will be speaking about his new book “Moving the Mountain” at several speaking engagements in the Valley this week.

Wednesday, Oct. 24: He will speak about “How American Muslims Can Help Eradicate Extremism” at the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations.  This talk will be held at the Gainey Ranch Golf Club .  For more information, contact Conni Ingalina at 602-441- 4967.
Thursday, Oct. 25: 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. in West Hall Room 135 at ASU: This will be an interview-style public event followed by a book-signing of “Moving The Mountain.” This Conversation with Imam Feisal Rauf will be moderated John Carlson, the associate director of the ASU Center of Conflict and Religion.  For more information, contact Carolyn Forbes at 480-965-1096.

Thursday, Oct. 25: At 6:30 pm, he will give a reading from his book, “Moving the Mountain” and sign copies of it  at the Barnes and Noble in Scottsdale at Pima Crossing.  For more information, contact  Larry Siegel at 480-391-1509.

Here are some endorsements by rabbis about his book:
“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an inspirational and erudite exponent for the Muslim world. This tale of his journey is a clarion call for a progressive and pluralistic Islam as a bedrock of tolerance and understanding. Believers and adherents of all faiths must stand in solidarity with this global spiritual leader whose cry for religious freedom and human dignity must be heard.”

– Rabbi Marc Schneier (President) and Russell Simmons (Chairman), The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

“Moving The Mountain is wise, authentic, and courageous. Every American needs to read this transforming and spiritually insightful book about the profound hope American Islam offers the world.”

– Rabbi Irwin Kula, President of The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

“Imam Feisal personifies the most noble and sublime teachings of Islam that seek to advance the wellbeing, happiness, and flourishing of all people. At a time when religion is tragically and violently hijacked by those who desecrate its name, the need to hearken to his articulate voice is greater than ever.”
– Rabbi David Rosen, Interfaith Adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel

Here’s more about him, courtesy of a press release:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, visionary behind Cordoba House, Chairman Cordoba Initiative, an independent, multi-faith, and multi-national project that provides innovative solutions to those areas where conflict between Islamic and Western communities undermines local and global security. He is a leading Islamic thinker and author of several books, including his new book:  Moving The Mountain.
Imam Feisal is the go-to talking head every time something happens in the Arab world or with regard to Islam in general. More important, he is a man of faith and a proud American.
Imam Feisal has received numerous awards including Time magazine named him among the 100 most influential people of the world and Arianna Huffington’s “2010 Game Changer” Award, and was listed as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010 by Foreign Policy magazine.
Imam Feisal is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Center of New York, of the Interfaith Center of New York, and a member of the World Economic Forum.

Snapshots from a Brooklyn Sukkot

Hershl Weberman of Phoenix spent time in Brooklyn over Sukkot, both this year and in previous years, and shared his experience in this week’s Religious Life column, aptly named, “Spending Sukkot in Brooklyn.”

Because we only had space for one photo, we’re including additional photos here. While there are plenty of sukkahs built throughout the Valley, you likely don’t see scenes like this here. All photos are by Hershl Weberman, who has had exhibitions on photographs he took in Israel and Ethiopia. Weberman is the founder of Putting Judaism Back into Jewish Singles, a local singles group in which all events have a Jewish context.

Sukkahs are built on staggered terraces so the stars can be visible through the roof of each one. More are built on the roof and in the courtyard.

Four sukkahs are in one corner of a courtyard. There were eight more in other corners.

Many sukkahs have beautiful decorations.

How many sukkahs can you count?

During Chol HaMoed (intermediate days), the rebbes have tishes (literally tables) where they give discourses in Yiddish and their Chasidim sing.