Grapevine: Staying positive

"The Gifted Experience" seeks to "strengthen the positive and honest approach to life experiences" through "networking with the online community."

rabbi dov lipman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
rabbi dov lipman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
■ EVERYONE HAS his or her own perspective of life, but boiled down to the simplest explanation, it’s whether the cup is half empty or half full. Among those who prefer to look at the positive is Mandy Broder of Efrat, who has launched an Internet group under the heading of The Gifted Experience “so that networking with the online community can strengthen the positive and honest approach to life experiences.” Members of the group recognize that even when they receive a few hard knocks, they should be grateful to the Almighty for all the positive things that happen in their lives.
So far, there are more than 3,300 members – among them Daniel Mush Meyer, executive director of the International Young Israel Movement; Fiona Kanter, executive director of Friends of Art Israel; Joseph Gitler, founder of Leket Israel; Rabbi Dov Lipman, director of public diplomacy at the World Zionist Organization; Prof. Jeffrey Woolf of Bar-Ilan University; Sherri Mandell, co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation; and numerous others in the US and elsewhere.
■ HISTORIANS AND curators, no matter how well-meaning, don’t always get it right. Bonnie Gurewitsch, former archivist and curator at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, is scheduled to deliver a lecture at the city’s OU Center on January 26 on “Youth Aliya in Germany 1935-1942.” She will cover how it began, how it developed in Germany during a worsening situation, and how it went “underground” after the war began and became a source of strength and spiritual resistance for those who remained in Germany.
However, according to Susan Caine – granddaughter of Recha Freier, who founded Youth Aliya in Germany – it began not in 1935, but in 1932, when Freier arranged for the migration to British Mandatory Palestine of a small group of German Jewish students. This was the informal beginning of Youth Aliya, which was formally founded by Freier in January 1933.
Caine says that despite all that has been written about her grandmother as well as Youth Aliya and the situation in Germany in the period leading up to and during the Holocaust, nothing can do full justice to this extraordinary chapter in contemporary Jewish history in a language other than German. Fluent in German, she has spent considerable time at Yad Vashem reading everything related to her courageous grandmother, who personally smuggled Jewish children across European borders, eventually reaching Jerusalem in 1941.
Due to differences in personality, Freier was unable to work with Henrietta Szold, who was in charge of Youth Aliya in Jerusalem. Aside from that, her daring and creative methods of rescue were criticized in both Germany and Jerusalem. Szold unjustly reaped most of the kudos for Youth Aliya, and Freier did not receive the credit due to her until she was already at an advanced age. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem conferred an honorary doctorate on her in 1975, and she was awarded the Israel Prize in 1981, three years prior to her death. A square in Katamon is named in her memory.
■ THE CONFLICT between religious and secular residents in Kiryat Hayovel is intensifying as the neighborhood’s community council continues to defy the instructions of Mayor Nir Barkat to maintain the religious status quo – namely, to avoid public Shabbat desecration. But it seems the community council sees nothing wrong with screening movies at the community center on Shabbat, if they’re screened for free. Of course, this does not rest well with the religiously observant community – although prior to the influx of haredi families, there was less friction and the status quo was one of live and let live.
Dov Kalmanovich, who holds the culture portfolio on the City Council, has spoken out against the screenings, but his protest is so far a voice in the wilderness, regardless of the fact that community councils are supposedly responsible to city hall and should abide by directives from the mayor or his appointee. Last Sunday, Kalmanovich hosted a conference aimed at strengthening religious observance in the capital. Among those who attended were Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern and Petah Tikva Chief Rabbi Micha Halevy. Also present was Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads the network of Bnei Akiva yeshivot.