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The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s 10 most-read stories of 2022

(JTA) — From the very beginning of the year, 2022 was anything but easy for American Jews. 

The year began with a harrowing crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, during which an armed assailant took a rabbi and three of his congregants hostage during Shabbat services.

From there, Jewish communities across the United States weathered book bans that targeted revered Holocaust stories, and more recently, a high-profile spate of antisemitism by one of the world’s biggest pop stars that has inspired antisemitic extremists.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Jews grabbed starring roles in TV and film, on game shows and on TikTok. Through it all, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tracked each development, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows — and JTA readers came along for the ride. 

Here are our 10 most-read stories of the year.

10. Meet Danielle Finn, the Modern Orthodox high schooler bringing her voice to ‘American Idol’ by Sarah Rosen (Feb. 25)

Danielle Finn, a 17-year-old young Orthodox Jewish woman from Los Angeles, will be featured in the upcoming season of American Idol. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Los Angeles teen Danielle Finn competed in this year’s season of the popular TV singing competition show “American Idol.” The 17-year-old wore a chai necklace to her audition, telling JTA, “I feel like I’m making a great representation of the Jewish community.”

9. The great ‘Maus’ giveaway is on as bookstores, professors and churches counter Tennessee school board’s ban by Andrew Lapin (Jan. 28)

Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, poses in Paris, March 20, 2012. (Bertrand Langlois/AFP via Getty Images)

When a rural Tennessee school board pulled the celebrated Holocaust graphic novel “Maus” from the district’s curriculum, backlash was swift.

A local comic-book store gave away the book for free to every student in the county, a nearby church held a discussion on its themes and a college professor offered free classes on the book to students in the county. Author Art Spiegelman even Zoomed with locals.

8. Comedian who went viral after having beer thrown at her makes a very Jewish TV debut on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ by Caleb Guedes-Reed (Oct. 25)

Ariel Elias makes her TV debut on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Oct. 24, 2022. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Jewish comedian Ariel Elias went viral for her response to a heckler who threw a beer can at her during a stand-up set at a New Jersey comedy club. 

Elias’ fame earned her an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” — her television debut — where she performed a very Jewish set. “I’m Jewish and from Kentucky,” she said to applause. “That’s an insane origin story.”

7. Kanye West’s vow to ‘go death con 3’ on Jews and his antisemitism controversy, explained by Philissa Cramer and Ron Kampeas (Oct. 12)

Kanye West attends the Givenchy Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, Oct. 2, 2022. (Julien de Rosa/AFP via Getty Images)

Perhaps the biggest Jewish narrative of 2022 kicked off in October, when rapper Kanye West, who also goes by Ye, unleashed a series of antisemitic comments on social media, initiating a cascading series of consequences for one of the world’s largest pop stars.

We explained the scandal, and the many responses and subsequent stories that continue to develop. More on West below.

6. Jon Stewart vs. Hannah Einbinder: Jewish comedians weigh in on Dave Chappelle’s ‘SNL’ monologue by Jackie Hajdenberg (Nov. 17)

Jewish comedians Jon Stewart and Hannah Einbinder had opposite reactions to comedian Dave Chappelle’s monologue on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ (Screentshots via YouTube. Image via Getty. Design by Grace Yagel.)

Scandal begets scandal. In the wake of the Kanye West episode, comedian Dave Chappelle hosted “Saturday Night Live,” joking in his monologue about Jews running Hollywood.

Jewish comedian and “Hacks” star Hannah Einbinder said Chappelle’s monologue was “littered with antisemitism,” while fellow Jewish comedian Jon Stewart defended Chappelle.

5. Our breaking news coverage of the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage crisis by Ron Kampeas and Andrew Lapin (Jan. 15) 

The chair and the teacup from the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage crisis will be entering the American Jewish history museum in Philadelphia. (Images courtesy of Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History and Emil Lippe/Getty Images. Photo illustration by Mollie Suss)

On Saturday, Jan. 15, all eyes were on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where a gunman took Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three of his congregants hostage during Shabbat services. 

The standoff lasted 12 hours, and all four hostages left unharmed. The assailant was killed. The incident renewed attention to synagogue security, and to questions of how to balance safety and inclusion.

4. Texas school district orders librarians to remove a version of Anne Frank’s diary from shelves by Andrew Lapin (Aug. 16)

“Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” (Courtesy Anne Frank Fonds)

Less than 10 miles from Colleyville, the school district in Keller, Texas, made headlines last summer when librarians were ordered to remove an illustrated adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” from their shelves and digital libraries.

“It’s disgusting. It’s devastating. It’s legitimate book banning, there’s no way around it,” Laney Hawes, a parent of four children in the Keller district, told JTA. “I feel bad for the teachers and the librarians.”

3. Emma Saltzberg didn’t expect to win on ‘Jeopardy!’ — but criticism of her Israel activism came as no surprise by Philissa Cramer (Feb. 9)

Emma Saltzberg, a Jewish activist from Brooklyn (by way of Philadelphia), won nearly $60,000 on “Jeopardy!” in February 2022. (Screenshot)

From her years of experience in progressive Jewish groups, including IfNotNow, Emma Saltzberg knew that her appearance on one of the most popular TV shows in the United States would likely generate negative comments from those who believe criticizing the occupation is antisemitic.

“That was priced in to my decision to do something public,” she told JTA shortly after winning $60,000. “I was totally expecting it.” What she hadn’t counted on, she said, was her fellow contestants standing up for her. 

2. Michelle Williams, who plays Steven Spielberg’s mother in ‘The Fabelmans,’ says she plans to raise her children Jewish by Philissa Cramer (Nov. 25)

Paul Dano, Steven Spielberg and Michelle Williams attend “The Fabelmans” premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 10, 2022. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Actress Michelle Williams isn’t Jewish, but her children will be.

In press coverage of her latest movie, Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical “The Fabelmans,” she said that she and her Jewish husband, director Thomas Kail, are raising their two young children with Judaism and that she is studying the religion herself.

“I can’t teach it to them unless I learn it first,” said Williams, who was raised Christian.

1. The Nazi history of Adidas, the sportswear giant that took weeks to drop Kanye West over antisemitism by Andrew Lapin (Oct. 24)

(Getty Images)

In the fallout over West’s antisemitism, one of the biggest storylines was the rapper’s lucrative relationship with sportswear company Adidas, which itself has a complex history with antisemitism. 

Adidas ultimately severed ties with Ye, after weeks of criticism and pressure. With the company in the spotlight, we took a look at its Nazi history — something Adidas has rarely addressed publicly. 

From all of us at The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, thank you for reading! We look forward to covering the next chapter of the unfolding Jewish story in 2023. As always, feel free to reach out with tips, questions or feedback, and if you value the journalism we produce, please consider supporting us with a tax-deductible donation.


The post The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s 10 most-read stories of 2022 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means

Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw

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Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs

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