Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tradition –by Peter Eisenstadt

Peter Eisenstadt

The Folksbiene, the National Yiddish Theatre, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in New York City, by holding a tribute to “Fiddler on the Roof” on its 50th anniversary. The Folksbiene is a venerable organization, as its age would indicate, dedicated to keeping alive the tradition of Yiddish theater for an audience that, with a few exceptions, is not Yiddish speaking, accomplishing this remarkable feat through the use of titles, musical programs, the occasional foray into English, and other stratagems. read more

On Reading A Translated Poem—by Barbara D. Holender

On Reading A Translated Poem
Barbara D. Holender

Yiddish poem,
your bones stick through
your borrowed skin.

Poor immigrant,
your relatives are always explaining you
while your displaced persona cries out
in its own voice,
“That’s NOT what I said.”

How anemic you are–
Back in the old country
your blood sang like wine.

You speak to me
of lost family connections,
but in this exchange
I am the poor relation.

The Tower—A Poem by Barbara D.Holender

The Tower
Barbara D.Holender

Imagine a time when everyone
spoke the same language
and everyone knew what
everyone meant and a word
was a word you could bank on.

That was Almighty powerful
but no cause to smash the tower
and scatter the nations

Some ended up with words

defined by the King or
regulated by the Academie

But here we are free
of definitions and regulations
and specifications

and everyone speaks
the same language and
nobody knows what
anybody means

Pope Francis Plants an Olive Tree in the Vatican Garden—by Ayala Emmett

Pope Francis Plants an Olive Tree in the Vatican Garden
Ayala Emmett

Olive tree planted in the Vatican Garden Photo Courtesy of
Olive tree planted in the Vatican Garden
Photo Courtesy of

Pope Francis picked up the peace banner at a time when supporters of a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians have been in despair and disheartened. No one on either side of the conflict seems willing to meet at home. Yet, in Rome this past Sunday two leaders who signed the Oslo agreement in 1993, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined the Pope to plant an olive tree in the Vatican garden together with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Prayers were recited by Jewish, Muslim and Christian clergy and speeches were made in several languages, Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Italian; yet the message was the same in all languages: peace and co-existence. read more

An Israeli (Retired) Soldier’s Thoughts on War and Sgt. Bergdahl—by David Langerman

An Israeli (Retired) Soldier’s Thoughts on War and Sgt. Bergdahl
David Langerman

For three weeks during the Yom Kippur War I lived in the same clothes. There was no distinction between the dirty smelly uniform and my body. Memories of the war in the desert were invoked this week, five days after my surgery, when I finished reading The Yellow Birds, Kevin Power’s novel that draws on his experience in Iraq.

And I felt connected and in awe. I just couldn’t grasp how American soldiers survived Iraq or Afghanistan. For me the war was horrific, but I knew why I was there, it was just a few kilometers from home. I knew that I would go back home and be in the safety and love of family and friends and a job that waited for me. I was then a reserve soldier in the Armored Brigade that was the first to cross the Suez Canal. read more

The BDS Debate In Our House—by Kathleen Kern

The BDS Debate In Our House
Kathleen Kern

My husband and I met because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A progressive Israeli-American, he came to hear me give a presentation called “Eye-witness to the Intifada” in November 2001 and asked good questions. A few months later, we met at another Middle East peace event, talked for hours afterwards and have been together ever since.

While some may view us as an odd couple—a secular Israeli Jew and a religious Mennonite who works with a human rights organization in Palestine—we agree on the most fundamental issues at work in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We believe that Palestinians and Israelis are entitled to the same human rights; no exceptions. We agree that the Israeli military occupation must end. We agree that Israeli leaders, supported by the U.S. Congress, have been most responsible for scuttling effective peace negotiations, but that most official Palestinian leaders have not done well by their people either. read more