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Critic’s account of classical music after the Holocaust is named Jewish book of the year

(JTA) — Music critic Jeremy Eichler’s study of how classical composers made music after the Holocaust was named the book of the year by the Jewish Book Council, which presented the National Jewish Book Awards Wednesday at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.

“Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance” was named the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year and won both the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial History Award and the Holocaust Award in Memory of Ernest W. Michel. The book explores how four towering composers who lived through the Second World War transformed their experiences into what Eichler calls “intensely charged memorials in sound.”

James McBride won two National Jewish Book Awards for fiction for his novel “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store,” a sprawling whodunit centering on a small Pennsylvania town whose Jewish and African-American residents find common cause in the 1920s and 1930s.

McBride won the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction and The Miller Family Book Club Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller.

The son of a Jewish mother and African-American father, McBride has said the book is based in part on his Jewish grandmother, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home in a small Virginia town and worked in her family’s store.

The National Jewish Book Awards, in their 73rd year, are an opportunity to “bring to the fore books that may give readers one more way, perhaps a new way, to connect with their Judaism,” said Elisa Spungen Bildner, president of the Jewish Book Council, in a statement.

The awards for books published in 2023 were to be presented Wednesday evening at the JCC Manhattan as part of its Books That Changed My Life festival.

Ruth Madievsky won the the Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction for her novel “All-Night Pharmacy,” about a troubled young woman and the Soviet Jewish refugee who purports to act as her spiritual guide.

Benjamin Balint received the Biography Award in Memory of Sara Berenson Stone for his book “Bruno Schulz: An Artist, a Murder, and the Hijacking of History,” an examination of the life and legacy of the enigmatic Polish writer.

Sabrina Orah Mark’s memoir “Happily: A Personal History—with Fairy Tales” was awarded the Krauss Family Award in Memory of Simon & Shulamith (Sofi) Goldberg for Autobiography & Memoir. The essays in the book use fairy tales as jumping off points to talk about motherhood, family and the challenges of raising mixed-race children.

Elizabeth Graver’s novel “Kantika,” a 20th-century saga about a Turkish-Jewish family and their immigration to America, won the Sephardic Culture Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy. Yariv Inbar won the Hebrew Fiction in Translation Jane Weitzman Award for his book “Operation Bethlehem,” which is self-translated.

The Modern Jewish Thought and Experience Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider was awarded to Jeremy Brown for his book “The Eleventh Plague: Jews and Pandemics from the Bible to COVID-19.”

The book council also presented its annual mentorship award, named in honor of the JBC’s former executive director, Carolyn Starman Hessel, to Altie Karper, who retired this past December as editorial director of Schocken, the venerable Jewish publishing house. The judges said Karper “has been at the forefront of promoting Jewish literature, and truly upholding the history and mission of Schocken Books” while helping to “publish some of the most important Jewish books in recent history.”

Other National Jewish Book Award winners include:

The Nahum Sarna Memorial Scholarship Award: “Fractured Tablets: Forgetfulness and Fallibility in Late Ancient Rabbinic Culture,” by Mira Balber
The Children’s Picture Book Tracy and Larry Brown Family Award: “Two New Years,” by Richard Ho, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
The Young Adult Literature Award: “The Blood Years,” by Elana K. Arnold
The Middle Grade Literature Award: “The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman,” by Mari Lowe. (The three youth awards were announced earlier this week.)
The Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Award for Food Writing and Cookbooks: “Kibbitz & Nosh: When We All Met at Dubrow’s Cafeteria,” by Marcia Bricker Halperin
The Berru Poetry Award in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash: “When There Was Light,” by Carlie Hoffman
The Holocaust Memoir Award in Memory of Dr. Charles and Ethel Weitzman: “The Ghost Tattoo,” by Tony Bernard

See the complete list of the 73rd National Jewish Book Award winners and finalists.


The post Critic’s account of classical music after the Holocaust is named Jewish book of the year appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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South Dakota Passes Bill Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) speaking to legislators during the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024 at South Dakota State Captiol in Pierre. Photo: Samantha Laurey and Argus Leader via REUTERS CONNECT

South Dakota’s state Senate passed on Thursday a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to refer to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating anti-Jewish hate crimes.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) already adopted the definition, which has been embraced by lawmakers across the political spectrum, via executive order in 2021. This latest measure, HB 1076, aims to further integrate the IHRA’s guidance into law and includes the organization’s examples of antisemitism. It now awaits a vote by the state House of Representatives.

“As antisemitism continues to rise across America, having a clear and standardized definition enables a more unified stance against this hatred,” the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), said in a statement. “We appreciate Governor Kristi Noem for making this legislation a policy goal of hers, strengthening the use of the IHRA Working Definition in South Dakota through legislation, following the December 2021 adoption via executive proclamation.”

CAM called on lawmakers in the lower house to follow the Senate’s lead and implored “other states to join the fight against antisemitism by adopting the IHRA definition, ensuring the safety and well-being of their Jewish residents.”

First adopted in 2005 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes a list of illustrative examples ranging from Holocaust denial to the rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The definition is used by hundreds of governing institutions, including the US State Department, European Union, and the United Nations.

Widely regard as the world’s leading definition of antisemitism, it was adopted by 97 governmental and nonprofit organizations in 2023, according to a report Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Antisemitism Research Center issued in January.

Earlier this month, Georgia became the latest US state to pass legislation applying IHRA’s guidance to state law. 33 US States have as well, including Virginia, Texas, New York, and Florida.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post South Dakota Passes Bill Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Columbia University Sued for Allowing Antisemitic Violence and Discrimination

Anti-Israel students protest at Columbia University in New York City. Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon

Columbia University allowed for antisemitism to explode on campus endangering the welfare of Jewish students and faculty, StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice and Students Against Antisemitism (SAA) alleges in a lawsuit announced on Wednesday.

Filed in the US District Court of Southern New York, the complaint recounts dozens of reported antisemitic incidents that occurred after Oct. 7 which the university allegedly failed to respond to adequately because of anti-Jewish, as well as anti-Zionist, bias.

“Columbia refuses to enforce its policies or protect Jewish and Israeli members of the campus community,” Yael Lerman, director of SWU Center for Legal Justice said on Wednesday in a press release. “Columbia has created a pervasively hostile campus environment in which antisemitic activists act with impunity, knowing that there will be no real repercussions for their violations of campus policies.”

“We decline to comment on pending litigation,” Columbia University spokesperson and vice president for communications told The Algemeiner on Friday.

The plaintiffs in the case accuse Columbia University of violating their contract, to which it is bound upon receiving payment for their tuition, and contravening Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. They are seeking damages as well as injunctive relief.

“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews, “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” students chanted on campus grounds after the tragedy, violating the school’s code of conduct and never facing consequences, the complaint says. Faculty engaged in similar behavior. On Oct. 8, professor Joseph Massad published in Electronic Intifada an essay cheering Hamas’ atrocities, which included slaughtering children and raping women, as “awesome” and describing men who paraglided into a music festival to kill young people as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

300 faculty signed a letter proclaiming “unwavering solidarity” with Massad, and in the following days, Students for Justice in Palestine defended Hamas’ actions as “rooted in international law.” In response, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, opting not to address their rhetoric directly, issued a statement mentioning “violence that is affecting so many people” but not, the complaint noted, explicitly condemning Hamas, terrorism, and antisemitism. Nine days later, Shafik rejected an invitation to participate in a viewing of footage of the Oct. 7 attacks captured by CCTV cameras.

The complaint goes on to allege that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

More request to the university went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while Students for Justice in Palestine held demonstrations. The school’s powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events whole no one explained the inconsistency.

Virulent antisemitism at Columbia University on the heels of Oct. 7 was not a one-off occurance, the complaint alleges, retracing in over 100 pages 20 years of alleged anti-Jewish hatred at the school.

“Students at Columbia are enduring unprecedented levels of antisemitic and anti-Israel hate while coping with the trauma of Hamas’ October 7th massacre,” SWU CEO Roz Rothstein said in Wednesday’s press release. “We will ensure that Columbia University is held accountable for their gross failure to protect their Jewish and Israeli students.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Columbia University Sued for Allowing Antisemitic Violence and Discrimination first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of California-Los Angeles Student Government Passes BDS Resolution

Graphic posted by University of California, Los Angeles Students for Justice in Palestine on February 21, 2024 to celebrate the student government’s passing an resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Los Angeles student government on Tuesday passed a resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as false accusation that Israel is committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

“The Israeli government has carried out a genocidal bombing campaign and ground invasion against Palestinians in Gaza — intentionally targeting hospitals universities, schools, shelters, churches, mosques, homes, neighborhoods, refugee camps, ambulances, medical personnel, [United Nations] workers, journalists and more,” the resolution, passed 10-3 by the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC), says, not mentioning that UN personnel in Gaza assisted Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

It continued, “Let it be resolved that the Undergraduate Student Association of UCLA formally call upon the UC Regents to withdraw investments in securities, endowments mutual funds, and other monetary instruments….providing material assistance to the commission or maintenance of flagrant violations of international law.

The days leading up to the vote were fraught, The Daily Bruin, the university’s official student newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“Non-UCLA students” sent USAC council members emails imploring them to vote for or against the resolution and USAC Cultural Affairs Commissioner and sponsor of the resolution, Alicia Verdugo, was accused of antisemitism and deserving of impeachment. The UCLA Graduate Student Association and University of California-Davis’ student government had just endorsed BDS the previous week, prompting fervent anticipation for the outcome of Tuesday’s USAC session.

Before voting took place, members of the council ordered a secret ballot, withholding from their constituents a record of where they stood on an issue of monumental importance to the campus culture. According to The Daily Bruin, they expressed “concerns” about “privacy” and “security.” Some members intimated how they would vote, however. During a question and answer period, one student who co-sponsored the resolution, accused a Jewish student of being “classist” and using “coded” language because she argued that the council had advanced the resolution without fully appreciating the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of antisemitism.

“As a Guatemalan, …my country went through genocide,” he snapped at the young woman, The Daily Bruin’s reporting documented. “My family died in the Guatemalan Mayan genocide. I understand. I very well know what genocide looks like.”

Other council members  voiced their support by co-sponsoring the resolution, which was co-authored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group that has held unauthorized demonstrations and terrorized Jewish students across the country.

Responding to USAC’s decision, Jewish students told the paper that they find the campaign for BDS and the attempts of pro-Palestinian students to defend Hamas’ atrocities myopic and offensive.

“How can anyone dare to contextualize since Oct. 7 without acknowledging that the Jewish people are victims of such a cataclysmic attack?” Mikayla Weinhouse said. “BDS intentionally aims to divide a community. Its supporters paint a complex and century-old conflict in the Middle East as a simplistic narrative that inspires hate rather than advocates for a solution.”

University of California-Los Angeles denounced the resolution for transgressing school policy and the spirit of academic freedom.

“The University of California and UCLA, which, like all nine other UC campuses, has consistently opposed calls for a boycott against and divestment from Israel,” the school said in a statement. “We stand firm in our conviction that a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty and to the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on this campus.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University of California-Los Angeles Student Government Passes BDS Resolution first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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