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Rock star Alanis Morissette uncovers her family’s Holocaust history on PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’

(JTA) — Seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette explores her family’s Jewish past, which she said was kept a secret from her for most of her life, on Tuesday night’s season premiere of the PBS celebrity genealogy series “Finding Your Roots.”

“I think I found out that I was Jewish in my late 20s. I didn’t know,” Morissette tells host and Harvard University history professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in the episode, a snippet of which was shared exclusively with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Morissette, 49, was raised Catholic and is now a practicing Buddhist. But her mother, Georgia Mary Ann Feuerstein, was born in Hungary to two Holocaust survivor parents, Imre Feuerstein and Nadinia Anna Lauscher/Gulyas.

As Gates explains, the family’s experience in the Holocaust was so traumatic that they kept their Jewishness a secret for many years.

“I think there was a terror that is in their bones and they were being protective of us and just not wanting antisemitism,” Morissette says. “So they were doing it to protect us, sort of keeping us in the dark around it.”

Morissette, who has sold more than 85 million albums worldwide and has performed in Israel multiple times, is the latest in a long list of celebrities to explore their Jewish ancestry on the show, which is returning for its 10th season. Past guests have included Pamela Adlon, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and Paul Rudd.

Later this season, the show will spotlight Jewish comedians Lena Dunham and Iliza Shlesinger; Jewish actor Michael Douglas; and “Hamilton” star Anthony Ramos and “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin, both of whom have Jewish heritage.


The post Rock star Alanis Morissette uncovers her family’s Holocaust history on PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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