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A trans Jewish performing artist is throwing a ‘Queer Clown Bat Mitzvah’ on Coney Island for all

(New York Jewish Week) – Growing up in Brooklyn, Dylan Mars Greenberg went to Hebrew school and celebrated Shabbat and holidays with her family. But she never celebrated a bar or bat mitzvah — “it wasn’t something my dad really wanted me to do,” she said. 

Instead, the 26-year-old filmmaker, musician, actor and writer began creating and performing art as a teenager with a group called the Art Stars based in the East Village, launching a varied career as a performance artist. Her current band, Theophobia, performs a “hybrid of music, performance art and comedy” — a mashup that’s right at home at Coney Island USA, a center for visual and performing arts with acts like clowning, circus, burlesque, sideshows and Vaudeville.

This weekend, Mars Greenberg will bring those two paths together, holding a communal Jewish coming-of-age ceremony at Coney Island Shooting Gallery Arts Annex, a gallery and performing arts venue that is part of Coney Island USA.

Queer Clown Bat Mitzvah will feature a live concert with spiritual moments, sideshow acts and spaces for queer expression — as well as a rabbi to coach attendees through the experience.

“The event as a whole is really supposed to be a celebration of identity and acceptance, both Jewish and LGBTQ identities and in particular queer and trans identities,” Mars Greenberg told the New York Jewish Week.

The Queer Clown Bat Mitzvah was partially inspired by how many Jewish and queer performers Mars Greenberg has encountered over the years, including during the period when she came out as transgender. 

“I’ve met a lot of people who are both very openly trans and queer and gay and also very open about Judaism. That is inspiring to me because there was definitely a period where I wasn’t sure how welcome I’d be in the Jewish community,” she said. “I’m realizing now that the Jewish community encompasses so many different things.”

The show will be hosted by the artist Pink Velvet Witch, and the lineup includes Mars Greenberg’s band, Theophobia, as well as the band 95 Bulls and a performance from Maggie McMuffin, a sideshow and burlesque performer. 

Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, the former rabbi-in-residence at HIAS and the founder of Rabbae Jewels, a jewelry business that celebrates queer Jewish and Yiddish culture, will oversee the evening’s explicit Jewish content. Meyer will deliver a short Torah commentary and share a blessing with the crowd. The event will be a new frontier for her, but one that she believes is deeply needed. 

“I was brought in because we’re in a really difficult moment in this country, where trans people in particular, but queer people in general, are really under attack. There was a desire to have a celebration of queer identity and trans identity and to do that through a Jewish lens,” she explained.

In recent years, Republican lawmakers in dozens of states have sought, sometimes successfully, to limit or ban gender-affirming care for trans people, weaken nondiscrimination laws and prohibit drag and other expressions of queer identity, including in books children are allowed to read at school. 

“One of the centerpieces of my Jewish life is the concept of Shabbat or rest. And inherent in that is the concept of Oneg Shabbat, or the joy and celebration of Shabbat. That’s what this is, a rest or a pause from a political moment that’s really devastating,” Meyer said. “This is meant to give people a taste of a different, joyful, celebratory world and a pause from so much of the hatred that is so demoralizing, debilitating and takes away our dignity.”

Meyer characterized the show as designed for Jews who “didn’t have access to or who felt really alienated from gendered rituals as children,” but also emphasized that it is open to anyone, regardless of their religious identity or gender expression.

“I really want to invite people into Jewish culture in ways that are non-proselytizing and show that there are actually ways to live values and to express your identity, whether that’s cultural or religious, that don’t limit or control other people’s behavior,” Meyer said. “I will be blessing everyone and everyone will really be blessing themselves and lifting each other up in community.” 

“I wanted it to be something that anyone can participate in and for people to appreciate Judaism also while having a good time,” Mars Greenberg said.

Queer Clown Bat Mitzvah is on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. at the Coney Island Shooting Gallery (1214 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn). Tickets start at $20. Find more information here.


The post A trans Jewish performing artist is throwing a ‘Queer Clown Bat Mitzvah’ on Coney Island for all appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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European Parliament Denounces UNRWA Role in Inciting Violence and Antisemitism

A boy holds a placard as Palestinian Hamas supporters attend a rally against visits by Israelis to the Al-Aqsa mosque, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 26, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Antisemitic incitement and glorification of terrorism in Palestinian textbooks issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was a cause of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, the European Parliament (EP) declared in a series of resolutions passed last week.

The resolutions mark the latest denouncement of the Palestinian education by the EP and some of the first to address strong evidence that over a dozen UNRWA staff aided Hamas’ raping and slaughtering of Israeli civilians. Together, they rued the possibility that European tax dollars were funneled into Hamas and called for a complete restructuring, as well as increased oversight, of the Palestinian education system to ensure that antisemitic themes are purged from curricula in the Palestinian territories so long as the institutions administering them receive European aid.

“Today the European Parliament condemned the problematic and hateful contents encouraging violence, spreading antisemitism and inciting hatred in Palestinian school textbooks,” German Member of European Parliament (MEP) Niclas Herbst  said in a statement praising the action. “The European Parliament reaffirmed in the context of despicable terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on 7th October 2023 that education to hatred has direct and dramatic consequences on the security of Israelis, as well as the perspectives of a better future for young Palestinians. Therefore, the EP requests the Commission to closely scrutinize that no UNWRA funds are allocated to the use of such hateful materials.”

As The Algemeiner has previously reported, UNRWA textbooks are among the most antisemitic and inciting in the world. No discipline is untouched by the problem. From math to theology, to literature and science, their content promotes blistering hatred for Jews and Israel, indoctrinating students as young as six to commit their lives to “martyrdom” and inter-generational war. Compromise with Israelis is described as betraying Palestinian identity, suicide-bombings as intrinsic to it and a prerequisite for entry into heaven.

“In this bipartisan resolution, the European Parliament has rightly made the inevitable and tragic connection between the horrors of October 7 and the systematic indoctrination which has flourished for too long in Palestinian schools, the majority of which in Gaza are operated by UNRWA,” Marcus Sheff, chief executive officer of Israeli education watchdog Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (Impact-se), said in a press release on Thursday.

He added, “For years, we have warned that the textbooks taught to Palestinian children create the conditions for the barbarism we all witnessed. The EU Parliament is now saying, ‘Enough.’ We need a new Palestinian curriculum.”

Impact-se has been a leading critic of the role Palestinian curricula plays in stoking the embers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fostering religious extremism. In March, the organization unveiled transcriptions of recordings confirming the roles of Yusef Zidan Sliman Al-Hawajri and Mamdouh Hussein Ahmad Al-Qek — both of whom were hired as educators by the organization — in Oct. 7, citing them as evidence that UNRWA has violated its mandate.

Its last report, published in March, revealed that textbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority teach girls that women are inferior to men and demands that they sacrifice their bodies and families for “jihad.”

“The characterization of women as inferior in Palestinian Authority textbooks reflects a broader and worrying narrative of bigotry in the curriculum, which is continuing to shape the outlook millions of Palestinian children,” Sheff said after the report was published. “Furthermore, it contradicts international treaties on gender equality that the PA itself has ratified. In particular, the emphasis on women’s participation in resistance activities as a warped form of gender equality sets a disturbing precedent.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post European Parliament Denounces UNRWA Role in Inciting Violence and Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Does She Really Want to See America Die?’: Rashida Tlaib’s Refusal To Condemn ‘Death to America’ Chants Sparks Bipartisan Backlash

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) addresses attendees as she takes part in a protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza outside the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, US, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis

On Wednesday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) refused to condemn anti-Israel protesters who chanted “death to America” and “death to Israel” during a rally in her district, sparking bipartisan backlash.

At an “Al-Quds Day” rally in Dearborn, Michigan protesters chanted “death to America” and “death to Israel.” A speaker at the event also quoted Malcom X saying “We live in one of the rottenest countries that has ever existed on this earth.”

The speaker continued, explaining that “The chant ‘death to Israel’ has become the most logical chant shouted across the world today.”

Another speaker proclaimed “Israel is ISIS, they are Nazis, they are fascists, they are racists.”

Michigan’s 12th congressional district, which Rep. Tlaib represents, includes Dearborn.

At International Al-Quds Day Rally in Dearborn, Michigan Protesters Chant “Death to America!”; Speakers at the Rally: America Is One of the “Rottenest Countries” on Earth; Israel Is ISIS, Nazis, a Cancer pic.twitter.com/B6hMlaKfi5

— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) April 7, 2024

The initial incident sparked condemnation from both sides of the political aisle. The mayor of Dearborn, Abdullah H. Hammoud, wrote on Twitter/X that, at the rally, people chanted “statements that were unacceptable and contrary to the heart of this city.” 

“We reject all inflammatory and violent statements made at the gathering. Dearborn is a city of proud Americans; the hateful rhetoric heard on Friday does not reflect the opinion of the members of this community,” he continued.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates told The Daily Caller that “The White House condemns these abhorrent and Antisemitic remarks in the strongest terms. As [US] President [Joe] Biden has said, America is the greatest nation on Earth and a beacon to the world.”

Rep. Tlaib was approached by a Fox News reporter on Wednesday, who asked if she condemned the chants. She replied, saying she did not speak to Fox News and that the reporter was engaging in Islamophobic tropes in asking her the question — likely because she perceived the reporter as questioning the patriotism and loyalty of Muslim Americans to the US.

WATCH – Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Gaza) refuses to condemn ‘Death to America!’ chants at a rally in her home district.pic.twitter.com/Ddn9lvnKOn

— The First (@TheFirstonTV) April 11, 2024

The Algemeiner reached out to Tlaib’s office for clarification of her statement, but it did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to The Algemeiner, Democratic Majority for Israel — a group that supports Israel from within the Democratic Party — said “Chanting ‘Death to America’ incites violence and is patently anti-American. All political leaders should be able to join the White House & Dearborn’s Mayor in denouncing this slogan.”

“Congresswoman Tlaib’s refusal to condemn those words is sadly telling,” DMFI added, asking “Does she really want to see America die?”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s national political director, Sam Markstein, had harsh words for Tlaib, telling The Algemeiner, “It’s no surprise that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib would refuse to condemn anti-America and anti-Israel chants.”

He described Rep. Tlaib as “a disgrace” who “should not be representing the people of Michigan’s 12th district in Congress.”

He argued, “House Democratic leadership has coddled and enabled her vicious antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric for years – it’s long past time for them to hold her accountable.”

The CEO of The Jewish Democratic Council of America, Halie Soifer, pushed back on The Algemeiner’s request for comment, saying: “with all due respect, do you ever cover what Donald Trump says about Jews or Israel? It’s antisemitic and incessant — nearly daily at this point.”

Earlier this week, former US President Donald Trump told reporters that Biden “doesn’t know if he is supporting the Palestinians but he knows one thing: he is not supporting Israel. He has abandoned Israel and any Jewish person that votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.”

Trump: “Any Jewish person that votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.” pic.twitter.com/yxNTpAJjoP

— Republican Voters Against Trump (@AccountableGOP) April 10, 2024

Trump’s comments come just a week after she would not give a direct answer when asked if he stands with Israel “100%,” raising questions about what his Middle East policy may look like in a potential second term. He also said a few days ago that American Jews who vote for Biden do “not love Israel” and “should be spoken to.”

The post ‘Does She Really Want to See America Die?’: Rashida Tlaib’s Refusal To Condemn ‘Death to America’ Chants Sparks Bipartisan Backlash first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Peel school board’s move to add ‘Nakba Remembrance Day’ to its calendar spurs objections from Jewish parents—and the Ontario education ministry

Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce is joining calls from Jewish parents and educators urging the Peel District School Board to reverse a decision to list Nakba Remembrance Day as an observance on the board’s calendar of significant days. Arabic for “catastrophe,” the Nakba refers to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, also known in Israel as […]

The post Peel school board’s move to add ‘Nakba Remembrance Day’ to its calendar spurs objections from Jewish parents—and the Ontario education ministry appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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