Rally recap

If there was any conclusion to be drawn from the Jewish community’s Rally for Israel this evening, it was that Jewish organizations around the Valley are united in their support of Israel.

More than 60 Jewish organizations sponsored the rally, which filled the gym at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale.

As Stuart Wachs, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix, said during his closing remarks, despite the cease-fire, “Israel remains at extreme risk.” The rally was called before the cease-fire.

Several speakers, including Dana Erlich, Consul of Public Diplomacy with the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, emphasized that Nov. 29 was the date 65 years ago that the United Nations approved the partition plan that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. Now, in 2012, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Palestinian Authority’s bid to be recognized as an observer state. Erlich was adamant that this move was not a road to peace and that peace (and Palestinian statehood) could only achieved through negotiations between Israel and the PA. There was a big impromptu round of applause for that statement.

An audio-video segment allowed the mayors of Kiryat Malachi (where three died in a rocket attack last week) and Hof Ashkelon to send thank you messages for American support — particularly support from the association through its TIPS partnership. (TIPS stands for Tucson, Israel, Phoenix and Seattle, with the Jewish communities of the American cities giving financial support to social programs in Kiryat Malachi and the Hof Ashkelon region.) In addition, former community schlicha (emissary) from Israel Sharron Topper-Amitai provided an audio message recalling her years here, when she stood with the local community at a similar rally when Israel was embroiled in Operation Cast Lead.

Rabbi Darren Kleinberg read passages from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “Israel: An Echo of Eternity,” which described how our tradition views bloodshed as an abomination and offered a vision of Israel as a bountiful place that could be shared if all parties pursued peace.

Rabbi Pinchas Allouche tied Operation Pillar of Defense to Hanukkah, noting that when the rabbis of the Talmud asked, “What is Hanukkah?” The answer wasn’t the military victory of the Maccabees over King Antiochus but the miracle of the oil that lit the Temple for eight days. “What about the military victory? Isn’t that much more important?” No, he said, the rabbis emphasized the supernatural, the soul. “This is what connects us (to Israel). It is this soul that we must ignite and celebrate.”

As Wachs, the closing speaker, stressed, “(Israel) is part of all of us.” If there were no Israel, he asked, “Where would our people have the experience of being in a Jewish country?”

Wachs’ speech was followed by a prayer for Israel led by at least a score of rabbis and cantors, and a Pardes Jewish Day School students who sang “Oseh Shalom” and “Am Yisrael Chai.” The Jewish people live indeed.


See you at the Rally? Join the conversation

The Jewish News editorial staff will be covering the Jewish community Rally for Israel tonight at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale. (For details on the event, click here.)

One of our perennial problems when we worked exclusively in “old media,” publishing a weekly newspaper, was how to cover events that took place shortly after our paper went to press. We could only write up events that happened on Wednesday or Thursday in the paper that came out on Friday of the next week. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, such a long lag between event and publication seemed not only old-fashioned but made our coverage of timely events seem irrelevant.

Tonight will be different. Our staff will be there to gather comments, photos, details and impressions — all the usual stuff of journalism — but we’ll also be tweeting about the rally in real time as the night goes on using the hashtag #PhxIsraelrally — and we invite you to join the conversation using that hashtag.

My Twitter feed is @scaputophx and my tweets will also be posted at www.facebook.com/CaputoJewishNews.

I also plan to post here as soon as I can after the rally.

You can follow my colleagues as well.

Leisah Woldoff’s Twitter is @LeisahPhx and her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/LeisahJewishNews.

Marilyn Hawkes’ Twitter is @hawkesphx and her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/HawkesJewishNews.

We are very excited to have these new options for coverage at a time when community solidarity is so critical. Am Yisrael chai.

Thanksgiving and Gaza

As you know, we’re a small media organization and we’re pretty much taking off from this afternoon through the weekend from our job of covering news that’s crucial to our community.

This morning, two breaking news stories — one on a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict and one about a bus explosion in Tel Aviv – came in, but we’ve already put our Friday paper to bed.

As you’ll see when our newspaper reaches your door and/or when the latest stories go live at our website at jewishaz.com, we have many local connections in Israel whose lives are endangered by the rocket fire and other acts of terror.

We offer a link to jta.org where JTA News & Features will post the latest breaking news on the conflict, and to JNS.org, which does the same. For news directly from Israel, if you don’t already know, Jerusalem Post and Ynet offer a range of perspectives. Feel free to comment on our Facebook page to let readers know which sources you’re consulting.

With any luck a cease-fire will hold while we enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, but we know there are no assurances, so that’s why we offer these tips for keeping abreast of what’s happening.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day and let us give thanks for even a momentary silence in the conflict. Shalom.

Chabad of Arizona to hold Thanksgiving prayer service for Israel

In response to the current situation in Israel, Chabad of Arizona will host a community prayer service at all of its locations 8:30-9:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving. May there be peace in Israel soon.

Here’s the note from Chabad, as posted on Facebook:

This Thursday, as Americans celebrate and Thank G-d for all the blessings He has bestowed and continues to bless us with, let us join together in Prayer for our brothers & sisters in Israel.

We see the miraculous ways of G-d on a daily basis, watching & protecting us from all of our enemies. Over 1,000 missiles have landed in Israel! Thank G-d, the casualties and deaths have been few. Yet, there is the physical damage and injuries they have caused, as well as the trauma and emotional effect the live rockets have upon all those who experience them.

Kol Yisrael Araivim Zeh BaZeh – All of the Jewish people are responsible for one another. We can and must do for our brothers and sisters living in the Holy Land!How? What?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe OBM has taught us that every good deed we do, even from miles away, has a positive effect that helps beyond our wildest dreams.

So, let us join together this Thursday from 8:30am – 9:30am, at all Chabad Locations in Arizona, for a special Prayer service to do our part in helping the Soldiers and Our Brothers & Sisters in the Holy Land, Israel. Let us join in prayer and beseech G-d to continue with his miracles, and that we should merit the revelation of the Moshiach now to bring peace in Israel & throughout the World.
The joint prayer services are for Men, Women & Children. For More Information call 602.944.2753At Chabad of Arizona,  Rabbi Mendel Lieberman, Director of Chabad of Ashkelon, will give a firsthand update, as well as behind the scenes info about what it means to live under the constant rain of rocket attacks. He will share with us words of inspiration on how to draw faith and strength in the face of constant shelling and terrorist attacks.
The following are a list of addresses for you to join:

Chabad of Arizona (Phoenix) – 2110 E Lincoln Dr Phoenix
Chabad of Anthem – 41332 N Hudson Trail Anthem
Chabad of North Phoenix – 22044 N 44 ST #102 Phoenix
Chabad at ASU – 971 S Ash Ave Tempe
Chabad of Chandler – 3875 W Ray Rd. Chandler
Chabad of Fountain Hills – 11010 N Saguaro Blvd #105 Fountain Hills
Chabad of Gilbert – 1154 S Portland Ave Gilbert
Chabad of Glendale – 7227 W Bluefield Ave Glendale
Chabad of Goodyear – 2508 N 134 Ave Goodyear
Chabad of Mesa – 941 S Maple St Mesa
Chabad of Scottsdale – 10215 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale
Chabad of Flagstaff – 1254 W University Ave. Flagstaff
Chabad of Tucson – 2443 E 4th St Tucson
Chabad on River (Tucson) – 3745 E River Rd Tucson
Chabad at UofA – 1025 N Euclid Ave Tucson
Chabad of Oro Valley – 611 W Cassidy Pl Oro Valley

That’s a wrap — for this week, anyway

For a variety of reasons, Jewish News had an early deadline this week, and while it’s generally not cool to talk about how the staff sweats to get an issue done, I’ve got to tip my hat to my colleagues on the editorial and production staffs who worked together seamlessly.

It wouldn’t matter enough for me to mention it here, except that you might call this our Jewish music issue because of two articles that I wrote — an appreciation of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen’s late career success that includes reviews of their respective 2012 albums “Tempest” and “Old Ideas” and a first-person account of attending the Songleader Boot Camp held at Temple Solel this past weekend. (Check out video from the SLBC on Facebook.)

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep because I spent two late nights trying to get every word and comma just right in those stories – like when I misspelled “peace” as “piece,” yikes — but this Nov. 16 edition of Jewish News, which will go live online tomorrow afternoon at jewishaz.com and will begin arriving in Valley mailboxes on Friday, is very dear to my heart.

It’s no secret that I was The Arizona Republic’s pop music reporter – which basically meant I covered any type of music except classical — from 1990 to 1997. I have missed that role and audience a lot, too much in fact, but two recent bits of advice have helped me finally get past the sense of loss.

One came from my co-worker Julie Goggin, who said something like, “If the life you have now doesn’t suck, then they did you a favor letting you go. Get over it, dude.”

The other came from musician Rick Recht, who founded Songleader Boot Camp, who told me and my fellow boot recruits last weekend that the most important performance you’ve ever done is the one you’re about to do. This applies to so much in life and creates an attitude of real Thanksgiving.

Thanks for checking out our paper and this blog. Thanks to the readers who are so kind and supportive of our work. I’ll certainly keep these things in mind as we head into Shabbat and Thanksgiving week.

Kosher Living: Health & Safety Fair

Updates keep coming on this weekend’s Kosher Living Health & Safety Fair, which will be held this Sunday, Nov. 18, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Phoenix Hebrew Academy.

There will be a variety of health and wellness opportunities – including a 12:30 p.m. Zumba class by the VOSJCC – keynote speakers (Topics include “Raising Confident Children,” “Water Safety” and “How we Became Kosher Vegans”), children’s activities (a petting zoo from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., carnival games, crafts with PJ Library) and a Healthy Kosher Eating sampling buffet.

Here are some updates of featured items of the sampling buffet, which is partially sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Vaad Hakashruth:

  • FOMZ, a nondairy fruit-based replacement for whipped cream
  • Alpine Valley Breads will distribute a free loaf of Nine Grain Organic Bread to the first 300 people (RSVP to reserve one – 1 per household).
  • Tomchei Shabbat will be holding a food drive – bring a nonperishable food item to the fair, which will be distributed by Tomchei Shabbat to local families.
  • Some of the local companies that will be providing food are: Karsh’s Bakery, King Solomon’s Pizza, Levi Catering, Segal’s Oasis Grill, Scottsdale Cafe and a new company, Healthy Kosher Cactus which is celebrating its grand opening at the fair.
  • TIPS, the Jewish Federation of Tuscon, Phoenix, and Seattle, is sponsoring a children’s story hour at 3 p.m. with Dr. Adina Bar-el who is visiting from Moshav Nir and has published 18 children’s books. She speaks English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Story hour will be in English with a touch of Hebrew.
  • A limited supply of Levana Kirschenbaum’s new cookbook “The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen” will be available for sale at 25 percent off the list price.

Come visit the Jewish News booth at the fair and click here to see the schedule.

‘Lincoln’ brings Honest Abe to life

It’s a foreign concept today, but once upon a time, U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle came together to pass legislation that forever changed the course of America.

Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln.”

True, the path to the ratification of the 13th Amendment was paved with cronyism, back-room deals, coercion and truth-stretching, but it was worth it, because we got the abolishment of slavery out of it, right?

That’s the message in “Lincoln,” the soul-stirring new biopic by Steven Spielberg.

“Lincoln,” based partially on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s nonfiction book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” covers the final months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life, beginning in January 1865.

At that time, as the Civil War waned, Lincoln, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, finds himself in a dilemma: Lincoln, who wants the 13th Amendment to pass because he believes in it, is portraying it as a way to end the war. However, the war is close to ending anyway, and Confederate emissaries are on their way to Washington to discuss a negotiated truce.

If the war ends before the amendment is voted on, it will surely fail, because a lot of the country and its Congress don’t actually want blacks to be legally equal to whites. But if Lincoln and his political allies can hold off the Confederate negotiators and turn enough votes their way before the deadline, they’ll make history.

Anyone who paid attention in history class knows what happened, of course, but it doesn’t really detract from the sense of urgency in the movie, which does a really good job of making political debate among men with waistcoats and beards compelling and entertaining. Tony Kushner’s script includes both moving speeches by men passionate about their political positions and plenty of amusing 19th-century insults.

I can’t overstate the quality of Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. Like he usually does for his roles, Day-Lewis did extensive research and stayed in character nearly all the time while filming “Lincoln,” and it pays off: About halfway through the movie, I stopped seeing Day-Lewis and only saw Lincoln. I doubt the Academy will give him a third Best Actor Oscar, but it’s certainly a performance deserving of one.

Many of the secondary male actors, including Tommy Lee Jones as Senator Thaddeus Stevens and David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, are also excellent. The supporting cast includes a large number of character actors, but I won’t mention them because it’s fun to recognize them as the movie progresses (I call it playing a round of “Who’s Under That Beard?”).

The one misstep in casting is Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Her acting is good, but she just turned 66 and in “Lincoln,” she looks it. She’s unbelievable as the mother of a son who can’t be more than 12.

I overheard members of the preview audience complaining that “Lincoln” was “cheesy” (their words, not mine), to which I say: This is Spielberg! What did you expect, cynicism? Spielberg’s work is always good-hearted, always straightforward, always values-oriented. “Lincoln” is no different. And that’s not a bad thing. As I sat in the theater and watched “Lincoln” the week before the election, I was proud of my country. And I couldn’t wait to go vote.

“Lincoln” opens today (Friday, Nov. 9). Check out the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJVuqYkI2jQ, then go see it.

Have you been to the Jewish Book and Cultural Arts Fair yet?

The Valley of the Sun JCC’s Jewish Book & Cultural Arts Fair is well under way this week – have you attended any of the programs yet?

So far there’s been a one-woman play, a women’s symposium, a program about Jewish baking, and a community read and coffee talk.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Friday, there is an  author luncheon with Amy Ephron. 11 a.m. Cost is $25 JCC members, $30 nonmembers. Co-sponsored by Brandeis National Committee and Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Community Association.

This Sunday, there will be a 3 p.m. concert with Theodore Bikel that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. Tickets are $15.
Next week:

7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12: “Before a Canyon” featuring Jeremy Tucker with Victor Villaneuva. This event is co-sponsored by Temple Solel, NFTY Southwest Region, BBYO and Jewish Youth Alliance. Tucker’s memoir is set over the 1997-98 school year at an inner-city Phoenix middle school. Villaneuva was one of Tucker’s students. Cost: $5.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13: “Yiddish Between Two Wars” featuring Israeli author Adina Bar-El. Free.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14: David Misch, author of “Funny the Book: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Comedy.” His first screenwriting job was “Mork and Mindy” and he co-wrote “Leave it to Dave,” the pilot for David Letterman. Cost: $8 members, $12 nonmembers.

6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15: “Girls Night Out: Cupcakes & Cosmos!” featuring Stacey Ballis, author of “Off the Menu: A Novel.” Co-sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Community Association and Hadassah Valley of the Sun. Cost, which includes cupcakes and cosmos, is $15 JCC and Hadassah members, $20 nonmembers.
For more information on any of these programs, click here to see the brochure.