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A Record of Events and Trends 

in American and Wbrld Jewish Life 




YEAR BOOK, the 96th in the se- 
ries, continues to offer a unique 
chronicle of developments in areas 
of concern to Jews around the 

This year's volume features two 
special articles. In "Jewish Experi- 
ence on Film — An American Over- 
view," Joel Rosenberg offers a 
novel analysis from the perspec- 
tive of current film criticism, exam- 
ining the ways in which Jews are 
both reflected in film and have 
helped to shape it. He discusses 
films, personalities, and trends, in- 
cluding the growth of independent 
filmmaking and Jewish film festi- 

"Israelis in America," by Steven 
J. Gold and Bruce Phillips, pro- 
vides a wide-ranging sociodemo- 
graphic profile of an immigrant 
group that differs in important 
ways from any other in the Ameri- 
can Jewish experience. The au- 
thors discuss the controversial 
subject of how many Israelis there 
are in the U.S. and provide data 
about their economic and social 
adjustment. They also shed new 
light on Israelis' identity conflicts 
and their creation of a distinctive 
Israeli-American community. 

(Continued on back flap) 




Year Book 

The American Jewish Committee acknowledges with appreciation the 
foresight and wisdom of the founders of the Jewish PubHcation Society 
(of America) in the creation of the American Jewish year book in 
1 899, a work committed to providing a continuous record of develop- 
ments in the U.S. and world Jewish communities. For over a century JPS 
has occupied a special place in American Jewish life, publishing and 
disseminating important, enduring works of scholarship and general 
interest on Jewish subjects. 

The American Jewish Committee assumed responsibility for the 
compilation and editing of the year book in 1908. The Society served 
as its publisher until 1949; from 1950 through 1993, the Committee and 
the Society were co-publishers. In 1994 the Committee became the sole 
pubHsher of the year book. 


Year Book 1 




Executive Editor 





All rights reserved. No part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in 
writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer 
who may quote brief passages in a review to be 
printed in a magazine or newspaper 

ISBN 0-87495-110-0 

Library of Congress Catalogue Number: 99-4040 




J. his year's volume features two special articles. Continuing our series 
on aspects of American Jewish culture, Joel Rosenberg contributes "Jewish Experi- 
ence on FiIm~An American Overview," a penetrating review and analysis of films, 
personalities, and trends. Sociologists Steven J. Gold and Bruce Phillips provide an 
update on a subject of continuing interest, "Israelis in the United States." The 
authors review demographic data and discuss Israelis' sense of marginality, their 
creation of a distinctive subgroup culture, and their relationship to American Jewish 
life, among other topics. 

Jewish life in the United States is covered in two articles: "National Affairs," by 
Richard T. Foltin, and "Jewish Communal Affairs," by Lawrence Grossman. 

David Horovitz provides extensive coverage of events in Israel. Reports on Jewish 
communities around the world include Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Great Britain, 
the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria, East-Central Europe, the former Soviet 
Union, Australia, and South Africa. 

Updated estimates of Jewish population are provided-for the United States, by 
Barry Kosmin and Jeffrey Scheckner of the North American Jewish Data Bank; and 
for the world, by U.O. Schmelz and Sergio DellaPergoIa of the Hebrew University 
of Jerusalem. 

Carefully compiled directories of national Jewish organizations, periodicals, and 
federations and welfare funds, as well as religious calendars and obituaries, round 

We note with sorrow the death of Uziel (Oscar) Schmelz, at the age of 77, on 
September 20, 1995, in Jerusalem. Co-author of the annual article on "World Jewish 
Population" since 1982, Prof Schmelz was on the staff of Israel's Central Bureau 
of Statistics and professor of Jewish demography and statistics in the Hebrew 
University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry. In addition to his research on world 
Jewish demography, he published studies on immigration and absorption in Israeli 
society, the population of Palestine during the Ottoman period, and the polyglot 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the city that was his great love. The Vienna-bom scholar 
was a humanist of the European school and an expert on both Western and Middle 
Eastern cultures. 

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of our colleagues Cyma M. Horowitz 
and Michele Anish of the American Jewish Committee's Blaustein Library. 

The Editors 


DEIDRE BERGER: Reporter, National Public Radio; Frankfurt, Germany. 

HENRIETTE BOAS: Dutch correspondent, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Israeli 
newspapers; Amsterdam, Holland. 

SERGIO DELLAPERGOLA: Chairman, A. Harman Institute of Contemporary 
Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. 

RICHARD T. FOLTIN: Legislative director and counsel. Office of Government 
and International Affairs, American Jewish Committee. 

ZVI GITELMAN: Professor, political science, and Tisch Professor of Judaic Stud- 
ies, University of Michigan. 

STEVEN J. GOLD: Associate professor, sociology, Michigan State University. 

MURRAY GORDON: Consultant to NGOs and international organizations; ad- 
junct professor, Austrian Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria. 

LAWRENCE GROSSMAN: Director of publications, American Jewish Commit- 

RUTH ELLEN GRUBER: Veteran foreign correspondent and author, specialist in 
European and Jewish affairs; Morre, Italy. 

DAVID HOROVITZ: Managing editor. The Jerusalem Report, and author; Jerusa- 
lem, Israel. 

IGNACIO KLICH: Teacher, Latin American history. University of Westminster, 
London, England. 

LIONEL E. KOCHAN: historian, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, 
Oxford, England. 

MIRIAM L. KOCHAN: freelance writer, translator; Oxford, England. 

BARRY A. KOSMIN: director, Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American 
Jewish Data Bank, City University of New York Graduate Center; director of 
research. Council of Jewish Federations. 

BRUCE A. PHILLIPS: Professor, Jewish communal studies, Hebrew Union Col- 
lege-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. 

JOEL ROSENBERG: Associate professor. Judaic studies and world literature. 
Tufts University. 



HILARY RUBINSTEIN: Honorary research associate, University of Melbourne, 
Australia; freelance historian; Aberystwyth, Wales. 

JEFFREY SCHECKNER: Administrator, North American Jewish Data Bank, 
City University of New York Graduate Center; research consultant. Council of 
Jewish Federations. 

U.O. SCHMELZ: Late professor emeritus, Jewish demography, A. Harman Insti- 
tute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. 

MILTON SHAIN: Associate professor, Hebrew and Jewish studies, and director, 
Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research, University of Cape Town, South 

DINA SIEGEL: Executive director, Tribuna Israelita, human-relations agency, 
Mexico City, Mexico. 

HAROLD M. WALLER: professor, political science, McGill University; director, 
Canadian Center for Jewish Community Studies; Montreal, Canada. 







Jewish Experience on Film — 

An American Overview 

Joel Rosenberg 


Israelis in the United 


Steven J. Gold 

and Bruce A. Phillips 



National Affairs 

Richard T. Foltin 


Jewish Communal Affairs 

Lawrence Grossman 


Jewish Population in the 
United States, 1995 

Barry A. Kosmin 

and Jejfrey Scheckner 171 





Harold M. Waller 





Great Britain 

The Netherlands 


Federal Republic of Germany 

East-Central Europe 
Russia/Former Soviet Union 



Sergio DellaPergola 

Dina Siegel 


Ignacio Klich 


Miriam and Lionel 



Henriette Boas 


Ruth Ellen Gruber 


Deidre Berger 


Murray Gordon 


Ruth Ellen Gruber 


Zvi Gitelman 


Hilary Rubinstein 


Milton Shain 


David Horovitz 






United States 467 

Canada 52 1 


United States 525 

Canada 536 


United States 537 

Canada 547 



5756-5760 (Sept. 1995-Aug. 2000) 568 


5755-5758 (1995-1998) 570 



INDEX 612 


Jewish Experience on Film 
An American Overview 

by Joel Rosenberg 

r OR ONE FAMILIAR WITH THE long history of Jewish sacred 
texts, it is fair to characterize film as the quintessential profane text. Being 
tied as it is to the life of industrial science and production, it is the first truly 
posttraditional art medium — a creature of gears and bolts, of lenses and 
transparencies, of drives and brakes and projected light, a creature whose 
life substance is spreadshot onto a vast ocean of screen to display another 
kind of life entirely: the images of human beings; stories; purported history; 
myth; philosophy; social conflict; politics; love; war; belief. Movies seem to 
take place in a domain between matter and spirit, but are, in a sense, 
dependent on both. Like the Golem — the artificial anthropoid of Jewish 
folklore, a creature always yearning to rise or reach out beyond its own 
materiality — film is a machine truly made in the human image: a late-bom 
child of human culture that manifests an inherently stubborn and rebellious 
nature. It is a being that has suffered, as it were, all the neuroses of its mostly 
20th-century rise and flourishing and has shared in all the century's treach- 
eries. It is in this context above all that we must consider the problematic 
subject of Jewish experience on film. 

In academic research, the field of film studies has now blossomed into a 
richly elaborate body of criticism and theory, although its reigning schools 
of thought — at present, heavily influenced by Marxism, Lacanian psycho- 
analysis, and various flavors of deconstruction — have often preferred the 
fashionable habit of reasoning by decree in place of genuine observation and 
analysis. Even so, the resources have grown immensely since the 1970s for 
developing a more sophisticated approach to the study of Jewish experience 
on film. This designation for the subject is preferable to the more colloquial 
term "Jewish film," for several reasons. First, film is not just the neutral 
instrument of various national cultures expressing themselves in art — it is 
a powerful creation of human imagination and technology that has, in some 
sense, drawn these cultures into its ongoing life. Then, too, film is a vastly 
collaborative art that is inherently multinational and multicultural in its 
practical operations. Scan the credits of any film and you will see that even 
the most nationally or culturally identified films are indelibly international, 
as are film's visual language and aesthetic choices. 


Finally, the film of Jewish experience is intimately bound up with the 
non- Jewish world's use of Jewish experience for its own reflection. Jews in 
some sense participate in that reflection and have shaped it in significant 
ways — but we are dealing, in any case, with an intercultural realm, with 
the larger civil society in which Jews dwell, which has cultural claims of 
its own. Jewish film in the strict sense of the term is a component of that 
whole. But the representation of Jewish experience on film, which extends 
far beyond Jewish film as such, is an important subject of inquiry in its own 
right, which is only now gaining the serious attention of Jewish studies.' 

Clearly, there is a need for widening our conception of "Jewish film" to 
mean more than simply a discourse of either Jews or Gentiles; more, let us 
say, than an "image" of the Jew, considered as a prepackaged object submit- 
ted for Gentile approval or disdain; more, even, than the cultural output 
of various Jewish societies. Rather, the presence of the Jew in film needs 
to be rethought in the context of cinema history as a whole and set against 
the major crises and disasters of the 20th century, especially the Jewish 
catastrophe in Europe. 

Film grew up, as it were, as an older sibling of modem totalitarianism, 
and of the Holocaust itself. The ideological exploitation of film by Nazi 
Germany and, throughout the same era, by the Soviet Union, was only a 
more conscious instance of a process long in place in the cinema of the 
bourgeois democracies. In those societies, film worked, usually uncon- 
sciously, in harmony with existing social institutions, and the dictates of 
censorship (typically motivated by churches, schools, and civic and political 
groups) were fairly early internalized in film practice by the film industry 
itself. One can of course learn a great deal by studying the representation 
of the Jew in the cinema of Nazi Germany.^ But cinema outside of Nazi 
Germany, and on other subjects than the Holocaust or Jewish life, must be 
studied as well — not so much to weigh the accuracy or inaccuracy, the 
degree of sympathy or hostility, in its representation of Jews (these issues 
have predominated in an older generation of Jewish film studies), but for 
its systematic connections to the unfolding of 20th-century history, to the 
development of the film medium itself, and to the broader problems of race, 
class, nation, and ethnicity in modern times. 

'See, e.g., Charles Berlin, ed., Jewish Film and Jewish Studies: Proceedings of a Conference 
Held at Harvard University on November 13 - 14, 1989, on the Role of Jewish Film in Teaching 
and Research in Jewish Studies (Cambridge, Mass., 1991); idem, ed.. Guide to Judaica Video- 
tapes in the Harvard College Library (Cambridge, Mass., 1989); Matthew Stevens, ed., Jewish 
Film Directory: A guide to more than 1200 films of Jewish interest from 32 countries over 85 
years (Westport, Conn., 1992); Charles Lawrence Gellert, ed.. The Holocaust, Israel, and the 
Jews: Motion Pictures in the National Archives (Washington, D.C., 1989). For general intro- 
ductions to the subject in its American setting, see note 4. 

^On the Jew in German film of the Nazi era, see, e.g., David Welch, Propaganda and the 
German Cinema, 1933-1945 (Oxford, 1983), pp. 238-306. 


What one needs to study is immense. The subject encompasses the world 
output of cinema, and extends all the way back to the era of primitive 
cinema, when, in 1903, the image of a Jew first appeared on screen. It 
requires some familiarity with film theory, past and present — a vast and 
often daunting thicket of reflection that draws on linguistics, semiotics, 
psychoanalysis, psychology of perception, optics, aesthetics, art history, and 
other disciplines. It properly requires a knowledge of several languages, and 
of film scholarship in those languages. It entails familiarity with particular 
Jewish film industries, such as Yiddish-language and Israeli film.' It in- 
volves examination and comparison of changing trends in fiction film, docu- 
mentary film, and political propaganda film. It entails consideration of key 
junctures in film history when technological developments, economic and 
geopolitical realities, and changes in production methods, stylistic fashions, 
audience composition, and public tastes and moods decisively shaped what 
was seen on screen and how it was seen. It involves the concurrent histories 
of the film representation of other national, ethnic, and social groups. And, 
of course, it requires knowledge of modem Jewish and world history, of the 
history of anti-Semitism, of the rise and fall of Nazism, of the planning, 
enactment, and aftermath of the "Final Solution," of survivor experience, 
and the vast realm of postwar reflection and debate on the Holocaust and 
its representation. 

Moreover, beyond the immense range of subjects and disciplines de- 
ployed, several kinds of understanding are required, including intuition. 
One must develop a feel for the nuances of individual films in their sensuous 
immediacy — of directorial style and gesture, of the impact of specific 
actors, of an era's peculiar visual and auditory patina. It is impossible, for 
example, to evaluate the meaning and satirical impact of Ernst Lubitsch's 
anti-Nazi burlesque. To Be or Not To Be (1942), without savoring the 
particular comic genius of Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Felix Bressart, and 
Sig Ruman. It is impossible to separate the meaning of The Jazz Singer 
(1927) from specific choices in the casting and playing of it — Jolson's 
spiritedly flirtatious hyperactivity. May McAvoy's wide-eyed, nubile sweet- 
ness, or Eugenie Besserer's flustered stammers of maternal delight — and 
from the film's choppy interplay of orchestral theme music, sound perform- 
ance, dialogue, and intertitle. It involves reconstructing what an audience 
might have heard when they were told by Al Jolson: "Wait a minute 
. . . wait a minute. . . . you ain't heard nothin' yet!" 

'These two important topics are beyond the scope of the present essay, which will focus on 
English-language American film. On Yiddish film, see J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish 
Film Between Two Worlds (New York, 1991); Judith N. Goldberg, Laughter Through Tears: 
The Yiddish Cinema (Rutherford, N.J., 1983); Eric A. Goldman, Visions. Images, and Dreams: 
Yiddish Film Past and Present (Ann Arbor, 1983). On Israeli film, see Ella Shohat, Israeli 
Cinema: East /West and the Politics of Representation (Austin, Tex., 1987). 


Some film theoreticians assert that intellectually rigorous work on film 
(of the sort purportedly introduced by the revolution in film theory that 
started in the late 1960s) is a fundamentally different labor from that of the 
cinephile — that is, the critic, historian, or film interpreter who proceeds 
chiefly from a love of film art and an interest in the oeuvre of particular 
filmmakers. But it is precisely the love of film art — in its full range and 
variety, in its historical specificity, in its susceptibility to the individual 
genius of particular directors, actors, scenarists, cinematographers, editors, 
and scorers, in its abihty to foster enhanced perception and empathy in its 
viewers, to capture the minds and hearts of audiences, to epitomize the 
mood of an era, and to focus moral and ethical attention on the stream of 
human experience — that is vital to any informed writing about it. 

Film Representation of Jews: The American Setting 

Historical study of the film representation of Jews is indebted to two 
works in particular that have laid a useful groundwork, at least for under- 
standing the American component of the subject: Lester D. Friedman's 
Hollywood's Image of the Jew (along with its coffee-table counterpart, 
Friedman's The Jewish Image in American Film, an illustrated popular 
history) and Patricia Erens' The Jew in American Cinema.* Both authors 
cover a vast range of film examples from the silent era to the early 1980s 
and attempt to periodize the subject, largely by decades, at least for the 
latter half of this history. These works serve as a valuable inventory of 
historical examples and a useful compendium of conventional wisdom on 
the historical forces shaping cinematic representation of the Jew. The de- 
mands of comprehensiveness have led both authors to sacrifice much depth 
and specificity, offering little in the way of sustained analysis and interpreta- 
tion of an individual film as text, and virtually no attempt at systematic 
correlation of their insights with the problematics of general film history 
and theory. Their studies, properly speaking, belong to an older trend 
in ethnic and feminist film studies, generally characterized as the "images 
of . . . " approach, which weighed the relative degrees of accuracy or 
stereotype in depiction of Jews, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, women, and 
others in given films and eras, usually animated by an informal partisanship 
on behalf of the group, class, or gender being studied.' 

'Lester D. Friedman, Hollywood's Image of the Jew (New York, 1982); idem. The Jewish 
Image in American Film (Secaucus, N.J., 1987); Patricia Erens, The Jew in American Cinema 
(Bloomington, Ind., 1984). See also Sarah Blacher Cohen, From Hester Street to Hollywood: 
The Jewish-American Stage and Screen (Bloomington, Ind., 1983); David Desser and Lester 
Friedman, American Jewish Filmmakers and the Jewish Experience (Urbana, 111., 1992); and 
the filmography of Stuart Fox, Jewish Films in the United States: A Comprehensive Survey and 
Descriptive Filmography (Boston, 1976), as well as sources cited in notes 1 and 7. 

'On image studies and their premises, cf. David Bordwell, Making Meaning: Inference and 


The organizing premise of such studies is therefore somewhat simple and 
misleading, but their importance in the history of discourse about ethnicity 
in film, both in stimulating popular and scholarly interest in the subject and 
in providing a broad inventory of examples and trends, should not be 
underestimated. Moreover, in some situations it is indeed still vitally impor- 
tant to reflect on film images, provided the wider issues of cultural history 
are kept in view. In fairness to Friedman and Erens, it should also be noted 
that both authors are aware of the limitations of their format and the 
provisional nature of their conclusions. 

Our indebtedness to both Erens and Friedman is, in any case, considera- 
ble, for both authors have articulated, for better or for worse, what could 
be called a consensus view of the Jewish presence in American film and 
filmmaking, as mapped out by numerous investigators in film history and 
media studies over the past several decades, and that view has proven thus 
far a reasonably durable one.' For a convenient overview, we may borrow, 
for the time being, Friedman's and Erens' rather simplified decade periodi- 
zations, which we shall have reason to qualify further on. Friedman divides 
his discussion into the following chapters with, it turns out, obligatorily 
alliterative names: "The Silent Stereotypes," "The Timid Thirties," "The 
Fashionable Forties," "The Frightened Fifties," "The Self-Conscious Six- 
ties," "The Self-Centered Seventies," and (appropriately tentative for two 
years into the decade) "The Emerging Eighties." Erens' periodization is a 
bit soberer and more articulated, but in other respects similar: "The Primi- 
tive Years (1903-1919)," "The Silent Era (1920-1929)," "The Early 
Sound Years (1930- 1940)," "The War and Postwar Era (1941 - 1949)," 
'The Fifties (1950- I960)," "The Sixties (1961 - 1969)," "The Seventies 
(1970- 1979)," and "Recent Films (1980-1983)." Although more non- 
committal than Friedman's in its characterization of decades, Erens' peri- 
odization by specific years at least shows that the notion of "decade" has 
a sliding definition. 

From a film-historical standpoint, in any case, these categories are of 
merely provisional value. Major changes in film production, cinematic 
styles, ideological perspectives, and patterns of audience reception, among 
other factors, often cut across decade boundaries, and it is probably more 
accurate, though pedagogically messier, to reckon in five- to seven-year, 
rather than ten-year, cycles. Erens is justified in defining her fourth period 
in terms of World War II and its aftermath, even though that period 

Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), pp. 89 - 90; Robert Stam, 
"Bakhtin, Polyphony, and Ethnic/Racial Representation," in Unspeakable Images: Ethnicity 
and the American Cinema, ed. Lester D. Friedman (Urbana, 1991), pp. 251 - 76, esp. 251 - 

'Much of the present discussion is indebted to the useful overview in Frank Manchel, Film 
Study: An Analytical Bibliography, vol. 1 (Rutherford, N.J./London, 1990), pp. 818-51 
("The Jew in American Film"). 


encompasses a major ideological reversal (as a consequence of events lead- 
ing to the Hollywood blacklist) and even though the roots of the war itself, 
and its attendant cinematic expression, go back at least two decades earlier. 
An even simpler schema than either Friedman's or Erens', though con- 
gruent with the substance of their analysis, has been offered by Stuart 
Samuels in his essay "The Evolutionary Image of the Jew in American 
Film," which correlates cinematic representation of the Jew with four 
specific stages in 20th-century American Jewish history: ahenation, accul- 
turation, assimilation, and acceptance.' This schema, or its substance, is 
shared, in one form or another, by a wide variety of investigators who 
regard the motion-picture industry as a central force in the socialization of 
immigrant Americans, virtually down to our own day, and it has influenced 
to some degree the present survey. But all existing paradigms require 
qualification and refinement, as we shall see. 

Alienation and Its Pleasures 

The earliest phase, which Samuels has dubbed a period of "alienation," 
corresponds to the period of New World immigrant life in the early decades 
of this century, when the mainly Yiddish-speaking East European Jews 
lived as a ghettoized minority among other immigrant minorities, in large 
urban areas, often in conditions of severe poverty, pursuing small-scale 
entrepreneurship and trades, and representing a bold contrast both to the 
Anglo-Saxon mainstream of American culture and to the largely assimi- 
lated and prosperous German and Sephardic Jews who had been absorbed 
into American life decades earlier. During this period, filmmaking was still 
in an experimental phase, an amusement-park or nickelodeon entertain- 
ment whose production was still largely controlled by the Edison trust, a 
monopoly tied to patents on motion-picture technology.' 

In this earliest phase, stereotyped images of Jews, often borrowed from 
literature and theater, appeared frequently in the primitive narratives of 
one- and two-reeler diversions: the pawnbroker, the money-lender, the 
haberdasher, and the like. These Jews, obviously enough, were shown as 
"outsiders," but perhaps no more so than other ethnic types displayed in 

'Stuart Samuels, "The Evolutionary Image of the Jew in American Film," in Ethnic Images 
in American Film and Television, ed. Allen L. Wohl and Randall Miller (Philadelphia, 1978). 
Cf. Manchel, Film Study, p. 819. 

Tor discussion of the primitive period of American film history, see Charles Musser, The 
Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, vol. 1 oi History of the American Cinema, 
ed. Charles Harpole (Berkeley, 1990); Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in 
American Silent Film (Cambridge, Mass., 1991), esp. pp. 23 - 59; John Fell, ed.. Film Before 
Griffith (Berkeley, 1983); Larry May, Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and 
the Motion Picture Industry (Chicago, 1980), pp. 3-21. 


the films, and to some degree all film characters in these early films were 
stereotypes.' The nickelodeons and exhibition houses, moreover, were often 
filled with immigrant audiences who eagerly devoured the entertainment 
fare, taking great pleasure in beholding the screen images of their respective 
ethnic kinfolk. While the notion of "immigrant entertainment" has often 
been overemphasized in descriptions of this period (primitive cinema was 
in fact already targeted as much to native-born, middle-class recipients as 
to an immigrant and working-class clientele),'" the success of early films 
with immigrant spectators played a decisive role in shaping the ensuing 
phases of American film history. 

Architects of Acculturation: The Studio Moguls 

A second phase, which Samuels has dubbed a period of "acculturation," 
corresponds to the beginning of a long period of upward social mobility for 
the offspring of immigrant Jews, from about 1907 onward, and it seems 
inseparable from two important developments in the entertainment indus- 
try: the rise of Jewish entertainers in vaudeville, theater, film, and radio 
(these eventually included Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice, Eddie 
Cantor, George Jessel, George Burns, and the Marx Brothers);" and the rise 
of a small group of ambitious Jewish entrepreneurs who helped to break the 
grip of the Edison trust and created a powerful system of film production 

'Cf. Lester D. Friedman, "The Conversion of the Jews," Film Comment 17, no. 4 (July- 
Aug. 1981), p. 42; Manchel, Film Study, p. 823; Charles Musser, "Ethnicity, Role-Playing, 
and American Film Comedy: From Chinese Laundry Scene to Whoopee (1894- 1930)," in 
Friedman, Unspeakable Images, pp. 39-81, esp. 47. 

'"See Hansen. Babel and Babylon, pp. 68 - 70. 

"See, among others, Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European 
Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made (New York, 1 976), pp. 556 - 73; Stephen 
J. Whitfield, Voices of Jacob, Hands of Esau: Jews in American Life and Thought (Hamden, 
Conn., 1984), pp. 1 15 - 39; Stanley Green, The Great Clowns of Broadway (New York, 1984); 
Darryl Lyman, The Jewish Comedy Catalog (Middle Village, N.Y., 1989); Steve Seidman, 
Comedian Comedy: A Tradition in Hollywood Cinema (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1981); William 
Novak and Moshe Waldoks, The Big Book of Jewish Humor (New York, 1981); Jack Benny, 
with Joan Benny, Sunday Nights at Seven: The Jack Benny Story (New York, 1990); Herbert 
G. Goldman, Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl (New York, 1992); Barbara W. Grossman, 
Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice (Bloomington, Ind., 1991); Martin Gott- 
fried, George Burns and the Hundred-Yard Dash (New York, 1996); Eddie Cantor, The Way 
/S'ee//,ed. Phyllis Rosenteur(Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1959); George Jessel, with John Austin, 
The World I Lived in (Chicago, 1975); James Fisher, Al Jolson: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, 
Conn., 1994); Herbert G. Goldman, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life (New York, 1988); Wes 
D. Gehring, The Marx Brothers: A Bio-Bibliography (New York, 1978); Kyle Samuels Crich- 
ton, The Marx Brothers (Garden City, N.Y., 1950); Michael Friedland, Sophie: The Sophie 
Tucker Story (London, 1978). For the impact on American film, see Henry Jenkins, What 
Made Pistachio Nuts? American Sound Film and the Vaudeville Aesthetic (New York, 1992). 


and distribution through the founding and running of the great Hollywood 
studios.'^ These included MGM (Marcus Loew, Joseph Schenck, Samuel 
Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer), Paramount (Adolf Zukor, Jesse Lasky, B. P. 
Schulberg), Columbia (Harry and Jack Cohn), Warner Brothers (Jack and 
Harry Warner), Universal Pictures (Carl Laemmle, and his celebrated un- 
derling Irving Thalberg), and 20th Century (Joseph Schenck), later merged 
with Fox (William Fox). These founders were immigrants or children of 
immigrants, and all were Jews. One other major studio formed in this 
period. United Artists, was the creation of non-Jews: Charlie Chaplin, 
D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and the half- Jew Douglas Fairbanks — 
performers whose role in both studio and cinematic history was similarly 
crucial, especially as a force for shaping the film star system. 

Possessing little formal education but a vast amount of experience as 
entrepreneurs (Goldwyn had started as a glovemaker and salesman; Mayer 
as a scrap-metal and junk dealer; Zukor and Harry Cohn as furriers; Jack 
Warner as a cobbler, butcher, and bicycle merchant; Laemmle as a book- 
keeper and clothier; Fox as a sundries peddler and, later, as a clothier; 
Schenck as a drugstore-chain owner and amusement-park impresario; 
Schulberg as a reporter and trade publisher), the studio pioneers were quick 
to sense the mass appeal of films, and they correctly understood that the 
success of the industry depended on building a viable system of distribution, 
through firm links between studios and theater chains, as well as important 
financial links, largely with Jewish-owned banking houses — among others, 
Warner Brothers with Goldman Sachs, Paramount with Kuhn and Loeb, 
and Universal with S. W. Strauss." In the heyday of the studio system, from 
the 1920s to the 1950s, the studio heads maintained a legendarily despotic 
control over the careers of actors, directors, and screenwriters, severely 
reining in artistic freedom and retaining an often fatal final say about what 
survived on screen. 

Much has been made of their boorish sensibilities and Philistine tastes 
(Harry Cohn was notorious for his ruthlessness, vulgarity, and lechery; 

'^See, among others, Jan-Christopher Horak, Dream Merchants: Making and Selling Films 
in Hollywood's Golden Age (Rochester, N.Y.: International Museum of Photography at 
George Eastman House, 1989); Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented 
Hollywood (New York, 1988); Bernard F. Dick, The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry 
Cohn of Columbia (Lexington, Ky., 1993); A. Scott Berg, Goldwyn: A Biography (New York, 
1989); Diana Altman, Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System 
(New York, 1992); Samuel Marx, Mayer and Thalberg: The Make-Believe Saints (New York, 
1975); Bosley Crowther, Hollywood Rajah: The Life and Times of Louis B. Mayer (New York, 
1980); Jesse Lasky, What Ever Happened to Hollywood? (New York, 1975); Irwin Will, The 
House That Shadows Built (Garden City, N.Y., 1928); Roland Flamini, Thalberg: The Last 
Tycoon and the World of MGM (New York, 1974); Bob Thomas, Thalberg: Life and Legend 
(Garden City, N.Y., 1969); Cass Warner Sperling, Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner 
Brothers Story (Rocklin, Calif., 1994). See also Manchel, Film Study, p. 820fr. 

"See Manchel, Film Study, p. 821. 


Samuel Goldwyn, a Polish Jew who never mastered English well, spawned 
a vast folklore of "Goldwynisms," often apocryphal malapropisms such as 
"Include me out," and "Anyone seeing a psychiatrist should have his head 
examined").''' But it is also true that the studio pioneers played a crucial 
role in defining and refining the storytelling function of film, which, prior 
to 1907, had been mixed with such nonliterary amusements as travelogue 
and natural-history lectures, live musical entertainment, circus perform- 
ances, vaudeville acts, and the like. Zukor, for example, traveled to Europe 
to survey filmmaking art and explored the potential of film to adapt theatri- 
cal and literary classics." Recent research on American film history has 
placed strong emphasis on 1907 to 1915 as the years of transition from 
primitive to classical narrative film, to that crucially influential form of film 
expression known as "the classical Hollywood style," and this period coin- 
cides with the rise of the Jewish film moguls and the studio system." 

During this period, two-reelers became three-reelers. Film entertainment 
was disengaged from live entertainment and largely constrained to single- 
and double-feature exhibition in darkened theaters before (mostly) quiet, 
attentive audiences, and later supplemented by newsreels, cartoons, and 
short subjects. Film editing was refined to facilitate narrative continuity and 
to preserve unities of space, time, and action. Film music (at first an impro- 
vised art of skilled theater organists and other musicians; later, in the 
transition to the sound era, a formally composed score as a fixed part of the 
soundtrack) was developed to underscore carefully movements and mo- 
ments in the plot. In general, film spectatorship as such, in familiar contours 
that have persisted to the present day, was born. The methods of film 
production as a complexly collaborative art, and film distribution as a 
mass-market enterprise, were decisively shaped. It was during this period 
that Hollywood, California, became the capital of the American film indus- 
try, and, indeed, a world capital of film art. It was the seat of a highly 
coordinated system ruled by the mostly Jewish studio moguls; in a certain 
sense it was an industry ideally susceptible to the genius of ambitious 
immigrants, Jewish and otherwise, and later of other European emigres of 
many nationalities, who populated all echelons of the film-production sys- 

"These examples are from Ephraitn Katz, The Film Encyclopedia (New York, 1979), s.v. 
"Goldwyn, Samuel," p. 491. 

"Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, p. 28. 

"The most comprehensive overview of the classical Hollywood style is David Bordwell, 
Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode 
of Production to 1960 (New York, 1985). On the period of transition from primitive film, see 
Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907- 1915, vol. 2 o( History of the American 
Cinema, ed. Charles Harpole (Berkeley, 1990), and the sources cited in note 8. 

"On European emigres in Hollywood, see Graham Petrie, Hollywood Destinies: European 
Directors in America, 1922 - 1931 (London, 1985); John Russell Taylor, Strangers in Paradise: 


It is highly misleading to see in this phenomenon merely the formation 
of a Jewish cabal of ruthless and powerful business interests acting, as it 
were, in a vacuum — sealed off from broader currents in American history 
of the time. It should be seen in the context of the Progressive Era and 
against the background of European immigration to America in the great 
age of open doors between the 1880s and the early 1920s." Film art fortui- 
tously coincided with the complex formation of bourgeois ideology in 
Europe and America in this period — it was in some sense its inevitable 
harvest." The birth of the film spectator was an integral part of this process, 
and, in the United States, bespoke the formation of a genuinely cross- 
cultural (though surely also distorted and problem-laden) American iden- 
tity. The rapidly maturing film theater, soon to blossom into the ornately 
architectured and furnished "film palace," became a great leveler of race, 
ethnicity, and gender — creating an audience mostly invisible and anony- 
mous to one another, set into a kind of temple where hght shone in the 
darkness, where people went, as they continue to do today, to escape the 
prisons of identity and constraints of reality, to forsake their bodies and 
merge themselves with screen idols in tales of romance, adventure, comedy, 
and tragedy. 

Clearly, film catered to fundamental human yearnings, to the power of 
fantasy as such. In this manner, it was a potent vehicle of acculturation in 
an America undergoing an intolerably rapid pace of economic development 
and urbanization, with inexorably painful ethnic, class, and familial disloca- 
tions and proximities. Film entertainment in this sense was surely a medium 
of escape, but also, to be fair to its premises, potentially an arena of healing, 
of mediation, of consensus, of ideological experimentation, empathizing and 
ethical reflection, and, at times of confrontation — a place for the articula- 

The Hollywood Emigres. 1933-1950 (London, 1983); John Baxter, The Hollywood Exiles 
(New York, 1976). 

"See, among others, Howe, IVo rid of Our Fathers, pp. 31-34, 50-57, 395-413; Richard 
Hofstadter, The Age of Reform from Bryan to F. D. R. (New York, 1955), pp. 1 74 - 86; Gerald 
Sorin,/4 Time for Building: The Third Migration. 1880- 1920 (Baltimore, 1992); MaldwinA. 
Jones, American Immigration (Chicago, 1992); Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History 
of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (New York, 1992); George E. Pozzeta, ed.. 
Assimilation. Acculturation, and Social Mobility (New York, 1990); Oscar Handlin, The 
Uprooted, 2nd ed. (Boston, 1990); Moses Rischin, ed., Immigration and the American Tradi- 
tion (Indianapolis, 1976); Leonard Dinnerstein, Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration 
and Assimilation (New York, 1975). 

"See, among others, Peter Gay, The Bourgeois Experience from Victoria to Freud, 4 vols. 
(New York, 1984 onward); Carolyn Howe, Political Ideology and Class Formation: A Study 
of the Middle Class (Westport, Conn., 1992); Joan Shelley Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow 
Culture (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1992); Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the 
Postmodern (Berkeley, 1992), esp. pp. 15 - 106; Walter Benjamin, "A Berlin Chronicle" and 
"Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century," in idem, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobio- 
graphical Writings, ed. Peter Demetz (New York, 1978), pp. 3-60, 146-62. 


tion, as philosopher Stanley Cavell has suggested, of a democratized 
"poetry of the ordinary," which Cavell equated with the noblest tasks of 

That the Jewish film moguls sensed this possibility in its wider intellectual 
and cultural ramifications is highly unlikely, but they did sense it instinctu- 
ally and devoted their life energies to its realization. As talented immigrants 
who had dissolved and rebuilt their own cultural identity, they were opti- 
mally suited to be the Promethean shapers of this newest art, and they were 
situated at an appropriate distance from American culture that enabled 
them to manipulate, usually with extreme caution, its prevaihng symbols 
and myths. It is in this context that we must understand their profoundly 
assimilationist stance. The America created by the Jewish movie moguls 
was, especially in the sound era, a WASPA'ankee paradise of small towns 
and picket fences, of milk bottles on doorsteps, of crowing roosters and 
friendly neighbors, of cantankerously upright justices of the peace, of 
Horatio Algerish boys with slingshots in their back pockets, of soldiers 
marching off to distant war — an America of Norman Rockwell paintings, 
of Life, Liberty, and the Saturday Evening Post. Whatever non-Anglo 
ethnicity was portrayed — and it was extensively portrayed — throughout 
Hollywood film's formative period, from the Golden Age of the silent screen 
(1915- 1928) through the great classic era of talkies (ca. 1928- I960), it 
was usually as counterpoint to a mainstream, or, more properly. Main 
Street, American type, whose fabled decency triumphed over all obstacles 
and toward whom all identities flowed and merged. The material capital of 
American film was Hollywood, but its spiritual capital, as Cavell has sug- 
gested for screwball comedy, was a mythical land known as Connecticut,^' 
that Eden of the Yankee social register. In the same era, a comparable aura 
surrounded Kansas, the American heartland, most memorably in the 1939 
classic The Wizard of Oz}^ 

Still, American film, particularly of the silent era, was deeply preoccupied 
with the tale of the immigrant — of Cohens and Kellys, of Abie's Irish 
Rose, of industrious street urchins and sweatshop maidens, of ruthless 
landlords, enterprising marriage brokers, and hand-wringing balabustas, 
and above all, of the ambitious seeker of prosperity, the parvenu in the 
making, the urban newcomer who by pluck and providence crosses ethnic 

"Stanley Cavell, "The Thought of Movies," in idem. Themes from Out of School: Effects 
and Causes (San Francisco, 1984), pp. 3-26, esp. 14-19. 

"Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1981), p. 49. 

"Cf. Paul Nathanson, Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America 
(Albany, 1991). 


and class lines to realize the American Dream. A classic example of this 
story is The Jazz Singer (1927), usually remembered as the first sound film 
(sound and dialogue were in fact used only for the musical numbers, though 
memorably in one semi-improvised exchange of talk), but whose engrossing 
tale of the rise of a cantor's son to show-business stardom captured the 
hearts of American audiences just as the Jew was largely about to disappear 
from the American screen." 

An interesting evolution in the tale of the Jewish immigrant seems to have 
occurred from 1920 to 1928 — it can be seen by contrasting the remarkable 
1920 film Hungry Hearts with The Jazz Singer. In the former, a Jewish 
immigrant mother, living in a squalid New York City tenement, is gouged 
repeatedly for rent money by her cruel, stony-faced landlord, who threatens 
to evict her. In a gesture of stark despair, the woman goes berserk and 
destroys her apartment, chopping the walls into pieces with an axe. She is 
later arrested, tried, and acquitted, but the haunting power of her despair 
lingers, and her strikingly Luddite form of rebellion (here directed not at 
the machines of production but at property) cannot be erased from mind. 
Acculturation clearly had its price, and this story was meant to show it. In 
The Jazz Singer, entertainer Jake Rabinowitz (Al Jolson) is torn between 
appearing in the opening night of a Broadway show on Yom Kippur (his 
first and best chance at stardom) and filling in for his dying cantor father 
by singing Kol Nidre in the synagogue. The film solves the dilemma by 
having him do both: first cantoring and, on a subsequent night, resuming 
his role in the Broadway show. The film seems to say that one can have it 
all, that America is willing to cut some slack for the assimilating Jew as long 
as he or she gets the overall priorities straight — namely, an appropriately 
proportionate wedge of the American Dream. Between the desperate ambi- 
ence of Hungry Hearts and the sunny affirmation of The Jazz Singer is a 
crucial eight years of burgeoning American prosperity — and with it Amer- 
ican immigrant prosperity. But, as we know from hindsight, that circum- 
stance was rapidly headed for a time of crisis. 

The Jazz Singer should not be seen in isolation from other comparable 
approaches to ethnicity in films of the period. The ancient Judean prince 
Judah Ben Hur, in the 1925 Ben Hur, is arrested and sold to a slave galleon 
but gains his freedom after rescuing a Roman general. He subsequently rises 
to stardom in Rome as a champion charioteer in the Roman games, who 
then challenges his Roman ex-friend and enemy in a chariot competition, 
which he enters as "the Unknown Jew." He arguably anticipates Jake 

"Cf. Friedman, Hollywood's Image of the Jew, pp. 50-52, 57-85; Erens, The Jew in 
American Cinema, pp. 101 - 107; for a good overview of the literature on The Jazz Singer (in 
an otherwise dreadfully wrongheaded article), see Michael Rogin, "Black Face, White Noise: 
The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice," Critical Inquiry 18, no. 3 (Spring 1982), pp. 417 - 
53. Still more useful is Robert L. Carringer, The Jazz Singer (Madison, Wis., 1979). 


Rabinowitz's metamorphosis into Jack Robin. The Jazz Singer can also be 
meaningfully compared to the portrait of a San Francisco Spaniard among 
American Anglos in the film Old San Francisco, directed by the same 
director, Alan Crosland, in the same year (the latter film even uses the same 
snatches of Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" that are present in The Jazz 
Singer); to the portrait of an assimilated Chinese man ("Chinaman," in the 
era's parlance) in San Francisco, played by Jewish actor Edward G. Robin- 
son, in The Hatchet Man (1932); and to evocations of black life in the South 
in King Vidor's 1930 film Hallelujah, as well as to the whole industry of 
"race movies," films tailored for black audiences in the '30s and '40s." 

The lives and careers of the movie moguls have been engagingly chroni- 
cled by Neal Gabler in his book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews 
Invented Hollywood." Despite its unfortunate subtitle (which, much to 
Gabler's later dismay, seemed to bolster the anti-Semitic canard that "Hol- 
lywood and the media are controlled by Jews," thus lending his book to 
considerable misuse), this is an absorbing account, drawing on numerous 
prior sources but greatly enriched by archival oral-history material. It 
covers the history of American film into the 1950s, when the studio system 
began to come apart. The book is perhaps justly criticized for its overem- 
phasis on an ad hominem approach to American film history, its minimiza- 
tion of the vital influence of non-Jews, and its general lack of scholarly 
method, but the book's richness of anecdote and fluency of narrative make 
it an indispensable resource for one pursuing the subject. It contains an 
especially illuminating account of the political conflicts between left and 
right that developed in Hollywood in the 1930s and '40s, in the struggle of 
writers and directors with censorship by studio heads and by the Hays 
Office regulations (a code of censorship adopted by the film industry as a 
form of self-policing to ward off boycotts by conservative political and 
religious organizations)." Alongside these events Gabler recounts anti- 

"On African Americans in American cinema, cf. Thomas Cripps, Slow Fade to Black: The 
Negro in American Film (New York, 1993); Nelson George, Blackface: Reflections on African 
Americans and the Movies (New York, 1994); Chris Vieler-Porter, Black and Third World 
Cinema: A Film and Television Bibliography (London, 1991); Daniel J. Leab, From Sambo to 
Superspade: The Black Experience in Motion Pictures (Boston, 1975); Donald Bogle, Toms 
Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films 
(New York, 1973). On Hispanics in American cinema, cf. Gary D. Keller, Hispanics and 
United States Film: An Overview and Handbook (Tempe, Ariz., 1994); Alfred Charles Richard, 
The Hispanic Image on the Silver Screen: An Interpretive Filmography from Silents into Sound, 
1898-1935 (New York, 1992). On Asians in American film, cf Gina Marchetti, Romance 
and the Yellow Peril: Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction (Berkeley, 
1994); Eugene F. Wong, On Visual Media Racism: Asians in the American Motion Pictures 
(New York, 1978). 

"See note 16. 

"On the Hays Office and American film censorship, see Leonard J. Leff" and Jerold L. 
Simmons, The Dame in the Kimono (New York, 1991); Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. 


Semitically motivated attacks on Hollywood by congressional investigators, 
which began in 1940 - 41 and were interrupted, but not quelled, by the war 
years." But to understand these events properly, we should turn our atten- 
tion to a third phase, that which Samuels has termed a period of assimila- 

Assimilation and Its Discontents 

In truth, assimilation, and with it ethnic self-denial, was an integral 
premise of American film from its beginning — at least from the start of its 
development under the studio pioneers, and earlier, in implicit ways, 
through the whole of the preceding primitive period. Film producers in the 
era of transition discovered fairly quickly the penalties for overly blatant or 
stereotypic ethnic representation, and thus the Jewish image, like the Irish 
image, was often muted or placed in disguise.^' Some films rewrote Jewish 
stage characters as Anglo-Saxons. Others put Jewishness into soft focus by 
using non-Jewish actors for Jewish roles, a practice that has persisted well 
into our own time. 

A more interesting strategy, made possible by the star system, was 
Charlie Chaplin's use of the Tramp as the quintessential newcomer — and 
thus as a kind of allegorization of ethnicity. Chaplin, himself a non- Jewish 
emigre who never became a naturalized American, created a semantically 
plastic antihero, one who precisely eluded firm ethnic identification but still 
was dark-haired, curly-haired, mustachioed, and arguably Mediterranean 
or Jewish — easily at home among the hordes of Ellis Island arrivals and 
a conspicuous oddball when set against Main Street." It would be a mistake, 
however, to overlook the equally convincing Englishness of Chaplin's per- 
formance, its rootedness in the vaudeville of Liverpool and London — an 
essentially stage performance whose contours were to become more appar- 
ent in the late, post-tramp Chaplin, in the sound era. Chaplin thus softened, 
allegorized, and universalized the newcomer, made him applicable to the 
experience of many immigrant groups while claimable by none. Still, Chap- 
lin's image went out to the world as an American image, which, by virtue 
of its improvised invention during a lunch break on a Hollywood set, it was 
in fact. The tramp was surely as American as Ellis Island, and soon became, 
as had Ellis Island itself, a logo for America. When the tramp became a 

Black, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II 
Movies (London, 1987), esp. pp. 1 - 47. 

"See Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, pp. 311 - 86. 

"See Musser, "Ethnicity, Role-playing, and American Film Comedy" (see note 12), pp. 52- 

"Cf. Musser, p. 54. 


Jewish barber in The Great Dictator in 1940, it was a believable permutation 
of the tramp's long-familiar image, but still the tramp as Jew (in this case, 
as Jewish barber), a self-consciously allegorical statement rather than a 
truly Jewish tramp. And, of course, it was a tramp who talked. 

Assimilation, at any rate, was an actively touted ideal throughout the 
silent era, and stories often portrayed entrepreneurial zeal, upward mobil- 
ity, intermarriage, show-business fame, and similar apotheoses of the 
remade self. The late silent era was the beginning of the age of radio, and 
radio's golden era, in the 1930s and 1940s, underscored this trend by 
featuring a bevy of increasingly Americanized Jewish stars such as Molly 
Goldberg (speaking in dialect), Fanny Brice, Jack Benny, Mary Living- 
stone, and, as noted earlier, George Burns, Eddie Cantor, and the Marx 
Brothers. Benny, in particular, was, like Chaplin, a figure of semantic 
plasticity. He embodied a kind of Everyman, an American Main Street type, 
but was also the classic schlemiel — the carping, debunking, worldly-wise 
hero of Yiddish folklore — as well as the preener, the pretender to high- 
brow culture, the hideously out-of-tune violinist, and often, in a wryly 
self-deprecating parody, the Jewish miser. In To Be or Not To Be, Benny 
was a reassuringly American presence in a Nazified Europe while playing 
a Pole of ambiguous ethnicity and remaining implicitly an assimilated 
American Jew throughout.^" 

The Marx Brothers, for their part, represented, as an ensemble, four 
stages of Americanization: the mute, wildly gesticulating newcomer 
(Harpo), the dialect-speaking street vendor/entrepreneur (Chico, in this 
case using an Italianized English), the fast-talking urban con artist or 
crackpot professorial pretender (Groucho), and the wholly Americanized 
youngest brother (Zeppo), who was invariably the straight man of the act. 
The zany, anarchic energy of the Marx Brothers, their subversive wordplay 
and dizzying nonsequiturs, suggest a kind of Melting Pot meltdown, a 
camivalesque transformation of the American (and, in Duck Soup, fanta- 
sized European) landscape that was to have important reverberations in 
American comedy and satire far beyond its era. Its roots perhaps go back 
to the centuries-old tradition of the Purimshpiel, itself a parody of assimila- 
tion, which grew from the great biblical tale of assimilation, the Book of 

It is in this context that one should examine the contributions of Ernst 
Lubitsch to American film.'' A German Jew born and raised in Berlin, 

"I deal with this matter at length in a forthcoming article in Prooftexts: "Shylock's Revenge: 
The Doubly Vanished Jew in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be." 

"On Lubitsch's rootedness in the Purimshpiel, cf. Sabine Hake, Passions and Deceptions: The 
Early Films of Ernst Lubitsch (Princeton, 1992), pp 29 - 30. The best studies of Lubitsch are 
James Harvey, Romantic Comedy in Hollywood from Lubitsch to Sturges (New York, 1987), 


Lubitsch left his father's haberdashery business while still a teenager and 
made his mark initially as a player in Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater, 
the foremost German theater company in the first third of this century. 
Soon he was directing one- and two-reelers, and eventually feature-length 
films, often featuring a Jewish schlemiel character (played by Lubitsch 
himself) who went by such names as Meyer from Berlin, Sigi Lachmann 
from Rawicz, and Sally Pinkus. As Enno Patalas notes of Lubitsch's Jewish 
antihero: "Like Charlie [Chaplin], he is hungry, counts his pennies and 
chats up the ladies. The roots in popular art, the slapstick origin in vaude- 
ville films, remained alive in Lubitsch's later films, too, as they did with 
Chaplin, Keaton, the Marx Brothers, and [eventually] Jerry Lewis."" 

By the early 1920s, Lubitsch had become an internationally distinguished 
director, "the European Griffith," whose grandly costumed historical spec- 
tacles {Madame Dubarry in 1920 is a key example) easily alternated with 
wry satires and bittersweet domestic chamber-dramas. He lived in the 
United States from 1922 onward and became one of Hollywood's foremost 
directors. Almost all of his films were portraits of Europe, a fanciful, 
dreamlike Europe of the past or present, mixed with pointed hints of the 
impact of modernity. 

Lubitsch wore his Jewishness unselfconsciously, and he had direct or 
indirect ties with various classic films of Jewish experience. One filmogra- 
phy lists him, perhaps apocryphally, as an uncredited director of certain 
scenes in Der Golem — which is not implausible, given Lubitsch's close 
association with the film's co-director, Paul Wegener, another Reinhardt 
alumnus, during Lubitsch's period in Germany (Wegener starred in several 
Lubitsch films)." Lubitsch also had a strong interest in Samson Raphael- 
son's story "The Day of Atonement," prototype of the stage play of The 
Jazz Singer. (Lubitsch was a close collaborator with Raphaelson on other 
films.)" He wanted to direct The Jazz Singer on film, and almost had the 
opportunity, but he left Warner Brothers when the film was still in the 
planning stages. 

Most of the films of Lubitsch's American period lack identifiably Jewish 
characters, but they are present, I think, as "implicit Jews" in many of the 

pp. 3 - 59, 367 - 401, 477 - 508; and Hans-Helmut Prinzler and Enno Patalas, eds., Lubitsch 
(Munich, 1984), in German. A useful biography is Scott Eyman, Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in 
Paradise (New York, 1993). 

"Enno Patalas, "Ernst Lubitsch: German Period," in Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, vol. 
2, ed. Richard Roud (New York, 1980), pp. 639 - 43; remarks quoted are on p. 640. 

"On Lubitsch's possible connection to Der Golem, see the filmography in Robert Camnger 
and Barry Sabath, Ernst Lubitsch: A Guide to References and Resources (Boston, 1978). 

"Raphaelson's remarkable memoir of his association with Lubitsch, "Freundschaft: How 
It Was with Lubitsch and Me," is found in Samson Raphaelson, Three Screen Comedies 
(Madison, Wis., 1983), pp. 21-47. 


non-Jewish characters of his films: one thinks of Jean Hersholt's Dr. Jiitt- 
ner, the kindly, bespectacled, and mustachioed tutor of Prince Karl Hein- 
rich in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1926), and the portrayals by 
Felix Bressart in Ninotchka (1939) and The Shop Around the Corner (1940). 
Bressart, an East Prussian Jew, was part of the stream of Jews and liberals 
who emigrated from Central Europe in the 1930s, many of whom settled 
in Los Angeles and worked on Hollywood films. Lubitsch himself was 
active in campaigns on behalf of European Jewry during this period, and 
he eventually cast Bressart as the first unambiguously Jewish character in 
Lubitsch's American period, the unforgettable Greenberg in To Be or Not 
To Be. Greenberg, the Polish Jewish stage extra who yearns to play Shy- 
lock, represents (alongside Chaplin's Jew in The Great Dictator) one of the 
few truly bold uses of a Jewish character in American films of this period, 
and himself presents an eloquent plea, entirely through the words of Shake- 
speare, for mobilization against Hitler. 

All of the above examples suggest that the alleged era of assimilation 
(which includes Friedman's "Timid Thirties") was in fact marked by at 
least some subversive approaches to ethnicity and Jewishness in film at a 
time when it was a highly sensitive matter. Audience interest in ethnic 
characters had, to be sure, waned considerably with the onset of the Great 
Depression, and the wave of nativism that hard times brought on made the 
studio moguls very timid indeed. During the same era, the Hays Office 
regulations, known as the Motion Picture Production Code, exercised tight 
censorship over the sexual, political, and moral content of American films, 
prohibiting film images of nudity, profanity, adultery, homosexuality, and 
even married couples in the same bed. Portrayal of ethnicity was tightly 
reined in by the stipulation that "[t]he just rights, history, and feelings of 
any nation are entitled to most careful consideration and respectful treat- 

In practice, this last regulation was not as fair-minded as it purported to 
be. Blacks, Asians, and decidedly non-Anglo foreigners (Slavs, Hungarians, 
Turks, Arabs, Gypsies) were continually stereotyped in American film of 
the 1930s, and the plight of European Jewry was largely ignored during a 
time when some attention to it might have made a diiFerence." Studio heads 
were reluctant to invite the ire of the U.S. Congress, where diatribes against 
Hollywood, and especially against Hollywood's Jews, were becoming fash- 
ionable, and where a spirit of isolationism on American foreign policy 

"Leff and Simmons, The Dame in the Kimono, p. 292; for a full text of the Code, see ibid., 
pp. 283-92. 

"Cf. Friedman, Hollywood's Image of the Jew, pp. 84 - 85; Manchel, Film Study, pp. 828 - 
30. Also see Harry Popkin, "The Vanishing Jew of Our Popular Culture: The Little Man Who 
Is No Longer There," Commentary 14, no. 1 (July 1952), p. 52. 


prevailed. The political and economic consequences of alienating Nazi Ger- 
many were carefully — indeed, too carefully — weighed in Hollywood, and 
the strongly conservative, isolationist, and perhaps anti-Semitic personnel 
of the Hays Office often sent back for revision film scripts critical of the 
Third Reich or identifiably pro-Jewish in outlook. Hollywood's middle 
echelon — the writers, directors, and some producers who often did battle 
with the Hays Office and studio heads over the representation of Nazi 
Germany — were by and large a markedly liberal, antifascist, and pro- 
Jewish element, many of them emigres and refugees, and of course many 
of them Jews themselves. 

In short, far from being merely an era of "timidity," the period from 1928 
to 1942 was an arena of intense ideological battle, in which a few confident 
dissidents, such as Chaplin and Lubitsch, as well as a number of performers 
popularly associated with explicit or implicit Jewishness, occasionally 
scored significant victories. But the overall effect on American public opin- 
ion, let alone on American officialdom, was, unhappily, minimal. It took the 
Pearl Harbor attack, on December 7, 1941, and the consequent U.S. decla- 
ration of war, to spark a partial reversal of this trend in film of the time; 
even then, a true breakthrough to honesty about European Jewry was not 

The War and Its Aftermath 

Identifiably Jewish characters began reappearing in American films in the 
war years, usually alongside, among others, Irish, Swedes, Italians, Polish 
Americans, and Anglo-Saxons in sanitizedly multi-ethnic "platoon" films 
— members of the "Melting Pot" dutifully serving abroad in the struggle 
against the Axis." In addition to those mentioned already, two films of this 
period deserve somewhat closer attention by film historians: The Man I 
Married (1940), the story of an American woman (Joan Bennett) whose 
husband, a German emigre (Francis Lederer), becomes increasingly pro- 
Nazi when the couple visits the German homeland, only later to learn of 
his own mother's Jewish identity; and Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), the 
story of a romance between an American reporter (Gary Grant) and a 
former American burlesque queen (Ginger Rogers), who is at the outset 
married to a Nazi ideologue (Walter Slezak). The film features a brief, 
remarkable scene in a concentration camp where the Hebrew prayers of 
Jewish inmates are overheard. Again, in both films, these were rare expres- 

"Cf. Erens, The Jew in American Cinema, pp. 170 - 73; Friedman, Hollywood's Image of 
the Jew, pp. 95 - 96. On the relation of American war policy to Hollywood filmmaking, see, 
in general, Koppes and Black, Hollywood Goes to War (see note 26), and Thomas Doherty, 
Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II (New York, 1993). 


sions of candor quite out of key with mainstream ideology. 

It is symptomatic of this entire period that Al Jolson, star of The Jazz 
Singer, never estabHshed a successful film career." It was Jolson's life and 
public image that had inspired Raphaelson's story in the first place (Jolson 
was himself a cantor's son), but Jolson was picked for the film role only after 
George Jessel was dropped over a contract dispute. After Jolson's successful 
film portrayal of Jake Rabinowitz, he rarely appeared in films of the sound 
era, though he continued to perform live to enthusiastic theater and night- 
club audiences throughout the same period and entertained troops during 
the war. 

The great drama of assimilation portrayed in The Jazz Singer (although 
it likewise traces a journey of return to the Jewish fold, in however qualified 
a way, and is all too often ignored as such) acquired a special poignance in 
occurring at the threshold of sound film. Sound, after all, made English rise 
to a new prominence in film art. "Garbo talks!" was a cause of hullabaloo 
among film fans, and in her case it proved as beneficial to her image as silent 
film had been. In the case of many other foreign-born stars of American 
film, it had the reverse effect. Sound exaggerated both foreignness and 
homebom ethnicity, and this coincided with the other forces of the 1930s 
that made ethnicity a sensitive matter. Although it had been Jolson's privi- 
lege to declare "You ain't heard nothin' yet!" Jolson himself was heard very 
little on screen from then on. Perhaps by way of tacit atonement, the film 
The Jolson Story was released in 1946, four years before Jolson's death, with 
Larry Parks as Jolson. Jolson himself, his voice dubbed into the musical 
numbers throughout, appeared in blackface in one performance within the 
story. The film also generated a sequel, Jolson Sings Again (1949). 

The postwar years brought certain important changes in Hollywood — 
most notably, as a consequence of the Cold War, the withering effects of 
renewed congressional investigation into alleged Communist subversion in 
the film industry. The issue divided Hollywood bitterly, and the most 
notorious effect was the Hollywood blacklist, which ended or interrupted 
the careers of a significant number of producers, directors, screenwriters, 
and performers, many of them Jews." (The non-Jew Chaplin was likewise 
hounded into exile.) Simultaneously, the revelations of Nazi war crimes, 
through the Nuremberg trials and widespread media attention to the death 
camps (including newsreel film footage of the piles of bodies and the ema- 
ciated survivors) evoked a new soul-searching about the fate of the Jews, 

"See Herbert G. Goldman, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life (New York, 1988), pp. 21 1 - 

"Among other sources on these events, see Victor Navasky, Naming Names (New York, 
1980); Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund, The Inquisition: Politics in the Film Community, 
1930-1960 (Garden City, N.Y., 1980), esp. pp. 478-504. Cf. note 27. 


at least for a time, and some of this concern found its way into cinematic 

Films like Body and Soul (1946), the tale of a Jewish prizefighter who 
defies his gangster promoters. Crossfire (1947), a film-noir tale portraying 
an investigation into the murder of a Jewish civilian by an anti-Semitic war 
veteran, and especially Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Elia Kazan's film 
based on Laura Z. Hobson's novel about a Gentile reporter (Gregory Peck) 
who disguises himself as a Jew in order to investigate anti-Semitism in 
American life, focused attention on anti-Semitism in a manner not possible 
in previous years. The last-mentioned film won several Academy Awards, 
including Best Picture. But these films are notable as well for their absence 
of any endorsement of ethnicity. Jews are portrayed as participants in an 
American civil religion, whose members attend either the church or syna- 
gogue of their choice but are not otherwise marked by great differences of 
appearance, speech, custom, or behavior. The Holocaust, not yet widely 
known by that name, was almost totally ignored. Only later did European 
imports, such as the landmark 31 -minute French documentary by Alain 
Resnais, Night and Fog (1955), attempt to deal honestly with the legacy of 
the European death camps. 

Jews were about to become, in any case, far more visible on the American 
screen than in the previous two decades, both as Jewish actors playing 
Jewish or implicitly Jewish roles and as Jewish roles played by Gentile 
actors. As if in belated tribute to the legacy of Jolson and The Jazz Singer, 
the show-business bio-pic flourished, often dealing with Jewish performers 
— including, as noted earlier. The Jolson Story (1946) and Jolson Sings 
Again (1949); plus The Eddie Cantor Story (1953); The Benny Goodman 
Story (1956); and, inevitably, an updated remake of The Jazz Singer (1953), 
this time featuring Lebanese- American Danny Thomas as Jake Rabinowitz. 
Although a significant market for these films was American Jews, who were 
by now moving to suburbs in large numbers and were quite happy to see 
Jews universalized as American success stories, a comparable interest in the 
subject among American filmgoers at large is equally significant. Films 
about Jewish refugees in Palestine, Sword in the Desert (1949) and The 
Juggler (1953) — the latter starring Kirk Douglas, a Jewish-born actor who 
was an "implicit Jew" in several films (see below) — drew some attention 
to the legacy of the war and to Israel's battle for independence. (Douglas 
would eventually portray Gen. David D. "Mickey" Marcus, American war 
hero turned Haganah soldier, in Cast a Giant Shadow, in 1966.) Sinister 
Jews made notable appearances here and there — Alec Guinness's Fagan 
in the British import Oliver Twist (1948); Kirk Douglas's implicitly Jewish 
"bad boy" roles in Out of the Past (1947) and The Bad and the Beautiful 
(1953); and Rod Steiger's memorably ruthless film mogul in The Big Knife 


(1955). All of these films warrant close analysis of their style, outlook, and 

The late 1950s and early '60s brought about some change in the predomi- 
nant silence on the Holocaust, with the release of such films as The Diary 
of Anne Frank (1959), which focused attention on the Nazi occupation of 
Holland through the viewpoint of its posthumously renowned Jewish vic- 
tim; Exodus (1960), which celebrated the formation of the State of Israel 
and began to confront realities of Holocaust-survivor and refugee experi- 
ence; and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), which dramatized, albeit in a 
fairly schematic and bowdlerized fashion, the war-crimes trials in Germany. 
(The capture and Jerusalem trial of Adolf Eichmann between 1960 and 
1962 was a further stimulus of interest in these matters.) These three films 
in particular helped to inaugurate what could be called, according to Stuart 
Samuels' schema, an era of "acceptance," although a full-blown confronta- 
tion with the Holocaust was still far from realized, and, properly speaking, 
as with the era that preceded, it is the evasions and circumlocutions of these 
films that are as interesting and illuminating as their good-faith efforts. Still, 
it is all too easy to sit in judgment of cinema and far more useful to 
understand the halting return of ethnicity to American film (whether it was 
ever absent in the first place is, to be sure, a legitimate question) in the 
context of the larger history of the medium and broader developments in 
international cinema as a whole. 

It is impossible, for example, to understand the period of the 1940s and 
'50s without examining certain pivotal films, such as Frank Capra's memo- 
rable /r's a Wonderful Life (1946). Here ethnicity is not explicitly an issue, 
but a clash between mainstream American optimism and more pessimistic, 
essentially film-noir conceptions of the world (more or less the artistic 
parameters of Gentleman's Agreement and Crossfire, respectively) is al- 
lowed significant attention.*" It is also useful to explore foreign films of the 
period that reflect on American identity and its relation to ethnic cosmopol- 
itanism. I have in mind, for example, the films of British director Michael 
Powell and his Hungarian Jewish co-director and scenarist Emeric Press- 
burger, who in A Canterbury Tale (1944) and Stairway to Heaven (1948) 
explored Anglo-American relations and the multi-ethnic heritage of both 
Britain and America. Films such as these could be meaningfully compared 
with, say, French films of the National Front era and its aftermath; or of 
the Occupation and postwar periods, where issues of French identity in an 
era of tyranny, or of life and collaboration under fascism, were dealt with, 
usually metaphorically. The film output of many other countries and re- 
gions during the era of fascism and its aftermath — including the former 

'°Cf. Robert B. Ray, A Certain Tendency in the Hollywood Cinema, 1930 - 1960 (Princeton, 
1985), pp. 179-215. 


Soviet Union, Japan, China, India, the Middle East, Australia, Africa, and 
Latin America — is all highly relevant to the situation of American film, 
as well as of Jewish experience on film, and comparative study of this sort 
could prove immensely useful. The experience of each film-producing na- 
tion with the conflicting claims of civil society and ethnic unity, and of 
ethnic unity and national unity, as these shaped film art, bears close exami- 
nation, as does the experience of individual peoples within nations.*' 

Ethnicity Comes of Age 

As we come closer to the present era, we find a period marked by 
revolutionary changes in American film, beginning in the 1960s and '70s. 
The breakup of the studio system and the consequent expansion of indepen- 
dent production companies played a major role in this transformation, as 
did the wider changes in American politics and society. It is widely ac- 
knowledged that ethnicity as such gained a new respectability in the '60s 
as the freedom marches in the South, the worldwide decline of European 
colonialism in Africa, the Black Power movement, four major political 
assassinations (including that of Malcolm X), the growth of New Left 
student politics in Europe and America, and the U.S. entry into war in 
Vietnam began to reshape American life and culture. A widespread respect 
for Israel marked that country's sweeping victory in the Six Day War of 
1967, and most American Jews were proud to identify with Israel, which 
had already been shown favorably in film and other media since its early 
years of Arab besiegement. 

A new acceptance of the textures and idiosyncrasies of Jewishness was 
reflected in films, including period pieces, that celebrated Borscht Belt 
humor and East Coast Jewish culture {Hello, Dolly!; Funny Girl; The Night 
They Raided Minsky's; Bye, Bye, Braverman; I Love You, Alice B. Toklas). 
Jewish and Holocaust motifs were drawn upon for black comedy (The Little 
Shop of Horrors; The Fearless Vampire Killers; The Twelve Chairs; The 
Producers); as well as for historical tales and literary classics {Operation 
Eichmann; Freud; Judith; The Pawnbroker; Ship of Fools; Cast a Giant 
Shadow; Ulysses; Tobruk; The Fixer; Oliver!). The biblical film and the 
Christian tale of Jewish antiquity continued in this period {The Story of 
Ruth; Esther and the King; King of Kings), following upon well-known 

"See, e.g., Keith Reader, Cultures on Celluloid (London, 1981); Vieler-Porter, Black and 
Third World Cinema (see note 24); Teshome H. Gabriel, Cinema in the Third World (Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1982); Duncan Petrie, ed.. Screening Europe: Image and Identity in Contempo- 
rary Europe (London, 1992); Pierre Sorlin, European Cinemas, European Societies, 1939- 
1990 (New York, 1991); Wimal Dissanyake, Colonialism and Nationalism in Asian Cinema 
(Bloomington, Ind., 1994); idem. Cinema and Cultural Identity: Reflections on Films from 
Japan, India, and China (Lanham, Md., 1988). 


examples of the '50s {David and Bathsheba; The Ten Commandments; 
Samson and Delilah; Solomon and Sheba; Ben Hur). 

Toward the end of the '60s, the look of American movies began to 
change. The Production Code, as a consequence of Supreme Court deci- 
sions on obscenity and civil liberties, was revised in 1966 to permit a new 
frankness in language, sexuahty, and story line in films. And the influence 
of certain European-bom trends, such as classic French cinema, Italian 
Neo-realism, the French New Wave, and Eisensteinian montage techniques 
— some of whose stylistic hallmarks had previously influenced American 
film noir — began to register more powerfully on mainstream American 
filmmaking. The classical Hollywood style had long tended to simplify the 
screen image, to mute or neutrahze background visual information, to set 
story lines into a tight, goal-oriented structure, and to portray clear-cut 
struggles of good and evil. Film art now became more steeped in hyper- 
realism, ambiguity, irresolution, skepticism, and spontaneity, and deepened 
these traits throughout the 1970s and '80s. 

Along with a new frankness in language, sexuality, violence, and moral 
complexity came a similar openness in the representation of race and eth- 
nicity. Interracial romance became more common in film stories, though 
still charged with meaning and mystique. Supposed ethnic traits that had 
once been considered impolite to discuss publicly were now embraced un- 
apologetically — for example, notions of the Jew as rude, pushy, ruthless, 
or subversive became the model for certain Jewish "bad boy" types (Rich- 
ard Dreyfuss in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz; Dustin Hoffman in 
Lenny; Mark Rydell's violent Jewish gangster in The Long Goodbye; even 
Ron Leibman's decidedly honorable union organizer in Norma Rae). Also, 
the Jew as oversexed, neurotic, narcissistic, or strung out found expression 
in portrayals by Woody Allen {Annie Hall and Manhattan, among many 
examples), Richard Benjamin {Diary of a Mad Housewife; Portnoy's Com- 
plaint; The Sunshine Boys), George Segal {Bye, Bye, Braverman; Where's 
Poppa?; Blume in Love), Ron Leibman (memorably as Segal's older brother 
in Where's Poppa?), and of course Dreyfuss and Hoffman, as in the exam- 
ples already cited and even in not explicitly Jewish roles (Dreyfuss, say, in 
American Graffiti and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Hoffman 
in The Graduate, and playing an Italian- American street person, "Ratso" 
Rizzo, in Midnight Cowboy). 

Black comedy and parody continued, notably in the further work of 
actor/director Mel Brooks {Blazing Saddles; Young Frankenstein; High 
Anxiety; and, in the '80s, The History of the World — Part I, as well as 
Brooks's not wholly successful remake of Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be) 
and Woody Allen. The Jewish gangster was played in notable depth and 
historical detail in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfa- 


ther, Part II, the latter featuring a crime boss (Lee Strasberg) somewhat 
modeled on Meyer Lansky. A much- neglected film of this era (indeed, not 
released until two decades later, then largely ignored). The Plot Against 
Harry (1970), is a puckishly jaundiced look at a Jewish gangster, Harry 
Plotnick (Martin Priest), who runs small rackets in New York City but also 
lives life as a parolee, an ex-husband, a father, a frequent attender and 
celebrator at family occasions like weddings and bar mitzvahs, while he 
copes with health problems, tax woes, and various family preoccupations. 
The film is played as a comedy and suggests the ultimate bourgeoisification 
of the Jewish gangster, in urban New York terms. 

A newly visible type of feisty, aggressive Jewish woman was brought to 
the screen at star level chiefly by Barbra Streisand in her many variations 
on a tough, unabashedly ethnic New York Jew in many films, including 
Funny Girl, Funny Lady, and The Way We Were. Though often schmaltzy 
and sentimental, often in some sense confessional, Streisand's persona was 
a welcome change from the Jewish American Princess featured in films of 
the '50s and early '60s, often portrayed by non- Jewish actresses (Natalie 
Wood in Marjorie Morningstar; Ali McGraw in Goodbye, Columbus). Her 
emergence to prominence, as in the case of the Jewish male comedian in the 
'50s and '60s, should be seen in the context of comparable emergences of 
self-assertive Jewish women in television and live entertainment — one 
thinks, among others, of Selma Diamond and Joan Rivers on TV talk shows 
and the pop concert career of Bette Midler. No less interesting on screen 
in the same period is Melanie Mayron's understated New York Jewish 
photographer in Girl Friends (1979), a version of her later television charac- 
ter in thirtysomething , and the muted self-assertion of Carol Kane in Hester 

One would welcome, in any case, more systematic study of the situation 
of Jewish women in American film — with regard both to Jewish and 
Gentile actresses playing Jewish roles and to the roles themselves and the 
narrative and cinematic strategies that give them meaning. (In theory, the 
ethnicity of an actor or actress should be irrelevant to the role — acting, 
after all, is just that: acting — but broader ideological factors influence 
casting decisions, and these in turn become relevant to the film depiction 
of ethnic experience.) Integrating these and comparable areas with the 
broader issues of feminist and gender-oriented film studies is an important 
task, on which meaningful work, at the time of this writing, is only just 

The way toward a more unvarnished sense of Jews and Jewish life had 
in truth already been paved by films of the late classical era — one thinks 

"See, e.g., Sonya Michel, "Jews, Gender, American Cinema," in Feminist Perspectives on 
Jewish Studies, ed. Lynn Davidman and Shelly Tenenbaum (New Haven, 1994), pp. 244 - 69. 


of Kirk Douglas's "bad boy" roles and Rod Steiger in The Big Knife, both 
mentioned earlier. But a more fundamental measure of this change is that, 
to a degree not seen since the 1920s, it had become possible to show 
something more like Jewish experience rather than simply images of Jews. 
This is not to suggest that the category "Jewish experience" is irrelevant to 
the intervening eras. Often it is there by its absence: silence, disguise, 
implicit Jewishness, allegorization, sentimentalization, the soft focus of 
Gentile actors in Jewish roles — all such evasions of Jewish realities are 
likewise part of Jewish experience, even when it is the larger society that 
has dictated or encouraged the evasion. 

But the situation is not as monolithic as it may seem. If Jews were scarce 
or merely counterpoint presences in classical American sound film, they 
were plentiful in radio and television in the same period, media that thrived 
on the continuous productivity of theater and nightclub venues, and they 
were present as Jews, not concealing (though not always announcing) their 
Jewishness: Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Sam Levenson, Henny Youngman, 
Danny Kaye (himself a film star), and many others, including Jerry Lewis, 
whose fame abroad, especially in France, was of the legendary proportions 
accorded Chaplin and Tati. On the other hand, when non- Anglo ethnicity 
became more visible and popular as a film subject in the 1960s, it was by 
no means free of stereotype, nor of a certain labored earnestness — a glitzy, 
at times candied Holly woodization of Jewry and other groups that did not 
always add up to a genuine effort to view Jewish or other ethnic experience 
on its own terms. Friedman's notion of "The Self-Conscious Sixties" thus 
rings true for this period. 

While this trend continued well into the '70s {Fiddler on the Roof was 
perhaps its culmination), other approaches during this period promised a 
more unassuming but also more focused gaze on actual cultural and histori- 
cal experience. Joan Mecklin Silver's Hester Street (1975), mentioned ear- 
lier, brings alive realities of New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the 
century and includes segments in subtitled Yiddish. Bob Fosse's Cabaret 
(1972), based on Christopher Isherwood's 1935 double novel Berlin Stories, 
captures the early days of the Third Reich via the life of emigres in Berlin, 
and has, as a subplot, the tale of a pair of star-crossed Jewish lovers. The 
whole is assembled with a pungently Brechtian evocation of cabaret satire. 
Like the other characters in the film, the Jews here are stylized representa- 
tions, but Fosse's gift for creating discontinuous alternations of story and 
music showed that classical narrative was not the only available structure 
for framing Jewish experience. A similar vision informs Fosse's Lenny 
(1974), where the life — and later the disintegration — of "bad boy" come- 
dian Lenny Bruce is intercut with the work, Bruce's nightclub act, and the 
film includes a powerful portrayal of Bruce's mother by Jan Miner. 


In Herbert Ross's film version of Neil Simon's play The Sunshine Boys 
(1975), two aging Jewish vaudeville comedians (Walter Matthau, George 
Burns) call a truce in an ongoing estrangement to rehearse their act for 
television. The film is, in a sense, an admirable sequel to The Jazz Singer 
(far more than the 1980 remake of that film), in its rounding out of the 
historical destiny of the vaudeville entertainer. Burns represents that seg- 
ment that found its way to the suburbs and to placid respectability; Matthau 
the resplendently shabby remnant that remained in the urban backwater to 
ply the theatrical trade. Jews are never identified as such in the film, but 
this is no evasion, for Jewishness of a sort is everywhere present in the story. 
Like the Jewish comic tradition to which this film is a tacit tribute, Matthau 
and Burns seem to capture opposed alternatives of character formation in 
ghetto tenements of a former era, where privacy was impossible, and where 
people grated on one another because they knew each other too well. 
Matthau's Willie Clark had learned to yell and be aggressive; Burns's Al 
Lewis to shrink from yelling and be passive-aggressive. Their combination 
here is the same typical match of contrasts — in truth, a form of biblical 
sibling battle — that shaped the classic vaudeville act, Jewish and Gentile 
alike, with its perennially self-debunking presentation of self 

The act's comedy, however, like the story as a whole, masks a more 
serious underlying theme: that of growing old, which was to become a 
frequent topic of Jewish experience in films of the ensuing years — notably. 
Going in Style (1979), which likewise featured Burns, here alongside Lee 
Strasberg, as two elderly Jews with their Irish-American cohort (Art Car- 
ney), in an unusual version of the "heist" film; and Tell Me a Riddle (1980), 
Lee Grant's film version of Tillie Olson's acclaimed novelette, which ex- 
plores the experience of an elderly Jewish couple (Lila Kedrova and Melvyn 
Douglas) who leave behind their suburban East Coast home and travel to 
the West Coast in a state of failing health. 

Bob Fosse's use of camera and story discontinuity, noted earlier, points 
to the impress of European filmic models — say, of Eisenstein, Lang, Truf- 
faut, Fellini, and Bergman — on many American directors of the '70s. This 
trend was markedly influential on Woody Allen.'*' Allen's satirical comedies 
of the '60s had revived the spirit of Lubitsch, Benny, the Marx Brothers, 
and Sid Caesar of television's Your Show of Shows, injecting a distinctive 
blend of parody, fantasy, and schlemiel in such films as What's New, Pus- 
sycat? (1965), Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), Play It 
Again, Sam (1972), Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were 
Afraid to Ask (1972), Sleeper (1973), and Love and Death (1976). Starting 

"On Woody Allen, see Sam B. Girgus, The Films of Woody Allen (Cambridge, 1993); Eric 
Lax, Woody Allen: A Biography (New York, 1992); Maurice Yacowar, Loser Take All: The 
Comic Art of Woody Allen (Oxford, 1991). 


with Annie Hall (1977), Allen began to experiment more boldly with cine- 
matic styles, including neo-realist and surrealist modes, and increasingly 
playing a version of himself. He interspersed Felliniesque, surreal fantasy, 
in parts of Annie Hall, Zelig (1983), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio 
Days (1987), Oedipus Wrecks (part of the 1989 triptych New York Stories), 
and Alice (1990); parody, in Zelig and Shadows and Fog (1991); and 
Bergmanesque preoccupations, in taut chamber dramas such as Interiors 
(1978), September (1987), and Another Woman (1988); in Stardust Memo- 
ries (1980), A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982; a tribute to Berg- 
man's Smiles of a Summer Night), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and, 
more recently. Husbands and Wives (1993), which recalls Bergman's Scenes 
from a Marriage (one should also remember Paul Mazursky's 1990 film. 
Scenes from a Mall, which co-starred Allen with Bette Midler). Many of 
the above titles, as well as the critically acclaimed Hannah and Her Sisters 
(1986), represent a focus of Allen's creative energies on bittersweet, urbane 
comedies of yuppie life in contemporary New York. But Allen's more 
experimental forays into nostalgia for the past — specifically, for America 
of the '30s and '40s — are something of a personal obsession, especially 
successful in films like Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Radio Days. 
One should also keep in mind Allen's portrayal of a friend of a group of 
blacklisted screenwriters during the McCarthy era who allows them to sell 
their scripts under his name, in Martin Ritt's The Front (1976). 

Zelig, in any case, is perhaps Allen's most explicit reflection on Jewish- 
ness and ethnicity, one that in recent years seems to have left a significant 
impression, both positive and negative, on ethnic film studies."" Leonard 
Zelig, Allen's persona in this film, is a Jazz Age Jewish misfit who undergoes 
a form of psychosis causing him to metamorphose into a copy of whoever 
he converses with — taking on, in the course of the story, the physical 
appearance and dress of cigar-store Native Americans, black jazz musi- 
cians, Chinese opium smokers. Republican presidents, Babe Ruth's team, 
a Mexican mariachi band, and Greek restaurateurs, as well as the behav- 
ioral characteristics of his Gentile analyst (Mia Farrow). 

The film, as one can see, does not present ethnicity so much as icons of 
ethnicity. Its tale is audaciously narcissistic, combining Allen's own nostal- 
gia for a simpler America, his then-flourishing romance with Farrow, and 
a quite thoughtful parody of the style and structure of historical documen- 
tary, including nearly poker-faced filmed commentaries by such pundits as 

"See, e.g., Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, "Zelig and Contemporary Theory: Meditation on 
the Chameleon Text," Enclitic 9, nos. 1 - 2 (1985); Janet Staiger, Interpreting Films: Studies 
in the Historical Reception of American Cinema (Princeton, 1992), pp. 196-209; and cf. my 
own article, "Xeroxosis? A Review of Woody Allen's Zelig" Moment 9, no. 1 (December 
1983), pp. 42-44. 


Irving Howe, Saul Bellow, Bruno Bettelheim, and Susan Sontag (all playing 
themselves) on what made Leonard Zelig an American Melting Pot phe- 
nomenon. Zelig's most extraordinary adventure is his brief and near-disas- 
trous identification with German National Socialists during Hitler's rise — 
which essentially happens when he skips therapy. But he is summarily 
rescued, then turns rescuer, flies upside-down across the Atlantic, is eventu- 
ally paraded in ticker tape down Broadway, and marries his analyst. 
Throughout his career as a standup comic, actor, and filmmaker, Allen took 
impressively big risks by making his inner life seem so central to his public 
persona and film stories. It is rooted in the way that nightclub comedians 
habitually make themselves a part of their jokes, and, as in the case of Lenny 
Bruce, it is subject to the normal occupational hazards of this most danger- 
ous of professions. Comedians are gadflies and typically invite public ire. 
Jewish comedians invite Jewish ire, and Allen has often been accused, I 
think wrongly, of being a "self-hating Jew." This conception jars with 
Allen's wholehearted willingness to make his Jewishness an issue, to pre- 
sent, like Benny, the classic schlemiel in American idioms, and, going 
beyond Benny, to declare it Jewish, and specifically New York Jewish, 
openly and explicitly. All his other preoccupations — old jazz, old movies, 
classic radio, baseball. New York life, yuppie morality, European cinema, 
and the unfinishable Moby Dick — flow from that emphatic claiming of 
New York Jewish home ground. What it excludes is a legitimate matter for 
reflection, but what it encompasses is important. 

What most of the foregoing film examples from the '70s onward have in 
common is a tendency to make a character's (or actor's) Jewishness some- 
thing other than the main point of his or her presence in the story. We savor 
a character's Jewishness not because it explains Jewishness but because it 
helps to explain the character. While such a strategy would seem to deem- 
phasize Jewish experience, it can also enhance it by rooting it in complexi- 
ties of character and circumstance. Jewishness is not a problem but rather 
a natural component of a wider social landscape. In this way, these films 
anticipated the present era's consciousness of multiculturalism, of a multi- 
ethnic America, of difference without otherness. Whether they also antici- 
pated an era of cultural struggle and rivalry is less clear, but the multi-ethnic 
America of these films is in any case not a Garden of Eden, and Jewishness 
is neither evaded nor trumpeted. 

At times, however, where the Jew is portrayed in mortal struggle with 
enemies, as in Marathon Man (1976), Black Sunday (1977), or The Boys 
from Brazil (1979), it is part of a cameo ("Jew vs. Arab" in the second 
example; "Jew vs. Nazi" in the first and third) that has itself become an 
American cultural icon. Dustin Hoffman is once again a Jew in Marathon 
Man, this time not as a "bad boy" but as a kind of Kafkaesque antihero 


battling forces he does not comprehend. This film and Black Sunday are 
both gripping thrillers, but in all the foregoing cases there is an implicit 
reminder that the struggle of Jew vs. Nazi, or of Jew vs. Palestinian could 
threaten the peace of civil society even when the Jewish cause is sympatheti- 
cally portrayed. In Black Sunday, the one potential victim that perhaps 
inspires the greatest emotional identification is the annual Super Bowl 
game. The film's Israeli protagonist (Robert Shaw) saves the game's specta- 
tors from disaster, but he is unable to head off postponement of the game 
itself, which may, within the film's ideological horizons, be considered the 
greater loss. Friedman's rubric of "The Self-Centered Seventies" may be 
most applicable to this film, but it has some validity, often at an implicit 
level, for many other films of the period, including those not specifically 
dealing with Jewish experience. 

Paradoxes of the 1980s 

By way of introducing certain films of the early 1980s, attention may be 
drawn to a barely noticeable moment in Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Blade 
Runner (1982), a film that portrays, with extraordinary detail and sense of 
style, life in a futuristic Los Angeles of the 21st century. This film, whose 
depiction of the future as a time of squalor and chaos is a hallmark of the 
style and vision we have come to call "postmodern," presents Los Angeles 
as an economically stratified, multi-ethnic, and multi-tongued Babel whose 
street life includes such familiar sights as Asian food stands, a downtown 
Casbah district, "Hare Krishna" chanters, and, notably, a Hassidic Jew 
going about his daily business. Jews are otherwise not explicitly present in 
this film's story, but the image of the Hassid is a familiar cultural icon of 
a multi-ethnic, urbanized America, one that could serve equally well an 
ideology of tolerance (as a sign of the thriving vitality of American urban 
life) or intolerance (as part of the cultural detritus of a "mongrelized" 
America, of an imperial nation in decline). 

This ideological ambivalence is itself a hallmark of the postmodern out- 
look, but the film, in any case, positions the Hassid at a key moment in the 
unfolding of the plot, when the protagonist, police detective Dekkard (Har- 
rison Ford) is about to hunt down and "retire" (i.e., execute) an escaped 
"replicant." The replicants are exceptionally intelligent and gifted human- 
oids, outwardly indistinguishable from ordinary humans, possessing emo- 
tions and existential angst, who have been ghettoized in off-world colonies 
and are forbidden to live on earth. In its way, then. Blade Runner has 
clearly absorbed the legacy of the era of European catastrophe — when 
forbidding an entire people to live on earth was perhaps first definitively 


Or has it? The universalization and metaphorization of the Holocaust is 
another feature of postmodern vision (although, in this respect, the film 
does not differ significantly from earlier films such as The Diary of Anne 
Frank and The Pawnbroker), and it bears directly on our assessment of 
Jewish experience on film in more recent times. This film's brief, incidental, 
almost hieroglyphic use of the Hassidic image is the hint of what Fredric 
Jameson has called "a new depthlessness" in the culture of the postmod- 
ern,'" reflecting a cybemetically saturated era when one can effortlessly 
change decades or nations by inserting a different cassette into a VCR, and 
therefore when one no longer perceives time, history, or geography in the 
hitherto customary ways. The film's image of the Hassid is arguably no 
different in depth from its overall implicit analogy between replicant retire- 
ment and Hitler's Final Solution. To some degree, such transfer of meaning 
is praiseworthy. Many Holocaust survivors, notably Elie Wiesel, have ar- 
gued that the lessons of the Holocaust must apply today in places like 
Bosnia and Rwanda, and the broader question of the Holocaust's historical 
uniqueness is still far from settled. What is suspicious here is the ease of 
iconographic ascription by which the analogy is effected. Is this admirable 
restraint or callous fudging? It is hard to tell, precisely because the film 
depicts a world in which historical memory as such is no longer possible. 

And yet, paradoxically, this newly laid-back sense of historical and cul- 
tural relativity has as often worked to the advantage of Jewish experience 
on film as to its detriment. Films of the 1980s and '90s have essentially 
continued the 1970s trend of unselfconscious representations of Jewishness, 
while also occasionally making possible deeper and more nuanced treat- 
ments of specific themes. This has coincided with the prominence of a new 
generation of Hollywood or sometime-Hollywood Jews (directors like 
Steven Spielberg, Barry Levinson, Lee Grant, Barbra Streisand, Paul Ma- 
zursky, Rob Reiner, and David Mamet; performers like Streisand, Richard 
Dreyfuss, Ron Silver, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others), many of 
whom, unlike the Hollywood moguls of a former era, have openly identified 
with Jewishness and have repeatedly portrayed Jewish themes and charac- 
ters. These developments by no means freed Hollywood from classical 
paradigms of Jewish experience, nor from the continuance of stereotypes, 
evasions, and banality in the representation of Jews. But they call into 
question any hastily conceived litmus tests of authenticity in evaluating this 
output, such as Patricia Erens' faulting of Tell Me a Riddle (1980) for its 
absence of "specifically Jewish issues,'"" or of Alan Pakula's 1982 film 
version of William Styron's novel Sophie's Choice for its "Christian solution 

"Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, 
N.C., 1995), p. 6. 
"Erens, The Jew in American Cinema, p. 368. 


of a Jewish problem."*' Tell Me a Riddle, on the contrary, brings alive 
Jewish experience precisely by not making it an issue, by allowing it to 
emerge in a natural and unforced manner as part of the landscape of 
character and historical memory. And although Sophie's Choice allowed a 
Gentile survivor of Nazi concentration camps (Meryl Streep) to occupy the 
focus of its survivorship theme, it dealt with the psychological scars and 
moral complexity of survivorship in a newly direct and unvarnished way 
that eventually proved fruitful in stimulating other film treatments dealing 
more directly with the Jewish survivor. Films of the early 1980s that deal 
with Jewish experience, at any rate, manifested somewhat of a new histori- 
cal depth and psychological resonance, which were to undergo further 
maturation later in the decade and into the present. 

Jeremy Paul Kagan's 1982 film version of Chaim Potok's The Chosen has 
been cited by Lester Friedman as "one of the most interesting pictures of 
Jews ever to emerge from Hollywood.'"" This is perhaps a bit overstated, 
but the film certainly deserves mention in the present context. It deals with 
the friendship, in Brooklyn of the 1940s, between a young man of Orthodox 
but otherwise liberal upbringing (Barry Miller) and a Hassidic Jew (Robbie 
Benson) who is the son of a local rebbe (Rod Steiger). The film is especially 
interesting for the chunk of historical time that it isolates (wartime and 
early postwar New York), for its ability to capture the awakening of Ameri- 
can Jews to the birth of the Jewish state, and for its close look not only at 
Hassidic life but at a liberal Orthodox milieu rarely, if ever, portrayed on 
film. Intellectually open but traditional in religious practice, this milieu has 
been a significant historical presence in American Jewry. The film's drama 
covers otherwise fairly obvious ground in obvious ways, but the fact that 
a story set almost wholly within the parameters of the traditional Jewish 
world was now possible in American mass entertainment was itself signifi- 

Part of the same trend is Barbra Streisand's Yentl (1983), a musical 
version of Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Yentl the Yeshivah Boy." 
Streisand had long sought to do a film version of this story, and her produc- 
tion spent some $20 million realizing this goal. It eventually earned her an 
acerbic denunciation from Singer himself for what he held to be its schmaltz 
and self-promotion, and it was not, in any case, a box-office hit. But it has, 
perhaps, aged well. The film reflects Streisand's own genuine respect for 
Jewish tradition, and the loving camera attention to the artifacts of Jewish 
domestic and religious life, often in honey-colored lighting, is especially 
striking. Two back-to-back musical numbers, one set in the yeshivah, the 
other in the well-furnished home of a prosperous Jew, effectively take apart 

"Ibid., p. 381. 

"Friedman, The Jewish Image in American Film, p. 243. 


the differing worldviews of men and women in traditional Jewish Hfe and 
belong to the history of reflection on that issue. Streisand has a good- 
humored sense of paradox, which inhabits this meditation from start to 
finish. The much criticized final scene of the film, showing Yentl in transat- 
lantic passage to New York, belting out a traditional Streisand number, is 
at least significant as offering a cultural, spiritual, and ideological genealogy 
of Barbra Streisand. It is simultaneously deeply personal and resoundingly 
public. It points from the East European shtetl westward toward Ellis 
Island, and by pointing westward also points to California and the West 
Coast. That a Jewish theme could become a mass-market filmmaker's per- 
sonal obsession was not new, if we take note of Lubitsch's deep emotional 
investment in To Be or Not To Be. But its scale was new and served perhaps 
as a precedent for Steven Spielberg's eventual obsession with Schindler's 

Other films of this period that touch on Jewish experience include Rich- 
ard Fleischer's flaccid 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer, which stars Neil 
Diamond and Lucie Arnaz, with Sir Laurence Olivier as the cantor father; 
Ralph Bakshi's animated feature American Pop (1981), which traces four 
generations of a Jewish immigrant family alongside the development of 
American popular music; Peter Yates's Eyewitness (1981), an international 
thriller that features a villainous Israeli diplomat (Christopher Plummer), 
perhaps the first such portrayal of its kind in American film; Henry Hud- 
son's Chariots of Fire (1981), a British film that won the 1982 Academy 
Award for Best Picture, portraying two athletes — one a Scotsman, the 
other a Jew — who ran in the 1924 Olympics; Sidney Lumet's Daniel 
(1983), a well-wrought film version of E. L. Doctorow's novel The Book of 
Daniel, whose story is loosely based on the trial and execution of Ethel and 
Julius Rosenberg; Martin Scorsese's King of Comedy (1983), whose protag- 
onist, Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro), clearly an implicit Jew, is an 
autograph hunter and aspiring comedian who contrives a desperate but 
fiendishly clever scheme to convince a late-night TV talk-show host (Jerry 
Lewis) to feature him on his program (the film features a memorable 
performance by Sandra Bernhard as his acid-tongued, floridly wacko, and 
explicitly Jewish co-conspirator); George Roy Hill's The Little Drummer 
Girl (1984), based on John Le Carre's novel, which explores moral ambigui- 
ties of Israeli antiterrorism activity in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian con- 
flict; Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club (1984), which deals with the 
multi-ethnic scene of American gangsters in 1920s Harlem and includes a 
memorable performance by James Remar as the Jew, Dutch Schultz; Sergio 
Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984), which again brings Jewish 
gangsters into focus, this time in an epic tale that runs for over three hours 
in its unabridged version; and Bruce Beresford's King David (1985), a 


disappointingly shallow effort at a biblical period film. 

What do these examples have in common? For most of them, historical 
distance; for some, geographical distance, or the social marginality of their 
characters (spies, gangsters, losers). But one should not make too much of 
this phenomenon — as suggesting a distancing or marginalization of the 
Jew, for it is likewise a way of incorporating the Jew, writing the Jew into 
a collective history. Assimilation, in a sense, moves in two directions. Just 
as newcomers assimilate to a mainstream culture, the mainstream assimi- 
lates its component cultures by incorporating their historical experience and 
in this way gradually comes to look more like them. 

The Impact of "Shoah" 

1985 is a watershed year in one important sense. It is the year that Claude 
Lanzmann's monumental nine-hour documentary Shoah was shown to 
American audiences. Film on Holocaust themes had been relatively dor- 
mant for some time, and now a French film was opening up the realities 
of the death camps and their survivors in an unprecedented manner. 
Though the film did not have a widespread popular impact (one compara- 
ble, say, to the 1977 TV miniseries Holocaust), it did have an effect on 
filmmaking. Here again was the filming of an obsession, which explored the 
memories and after-effects of the Holocaust through the eyes and words of 
its survivors and onetime bystanders and perpetrators. 

Filmed chiefly in Germany, France, Poland, and Israel, Shoah, unlike 
traditional documentary film on the Nazi era, contains no archival newsreel 
footage, no images of bodies or newly liberated death camps, no Hitler 
orations or marching troops. Instead, it reads the Holocaust in the faces and 
voices of survivors, in the often self-serving and self-incriminating anecdotes 
of Polish villagers and German war criminals, in the shabbiness and desola- 
tion of the undismantled Auschwitz barracks and death factories, in the 
disarming beauty of the Polish countryside, and in long, hypnotic takes of 
the camera as it surveys railway lines, rivers, forests, and unmarked grave 
sites. It is an intensely and unsettlingly quiet film, single-mindedly focused 
on issues of moral responsibility, remaining steadfastly focused on the 
irreparable damage of the Holocaust, to its victims and to the wider world. 
And yet it likewise captures the ever-present reality of silence and forget- 
ting, both for the survivor victims and for the one-time perpetrators and 
bystanders — captures it in motion as a yawning void that threatens to 
swallow every conversation, every testimony, every remembered anecdote. 
The film insistently asserts a rational standard, measured in the Holocaust's 
toll in human lives, civility, sanity, and peace of mind. And yet, in showing 
the pain and ethical difficulty of uncovering dormant memories, it know- 


ingly displays the insanity at the heart of the investigative process itself. 

It is hard to calculate the effect of this film on popular filmmaking, but 
some register of its impact can perhaps be detected in films from the late 
'80s onward — most notably, on The Wannsee Conference (1987), a Ger- 
man film, first aired on German television, which dramatized, through a 
tautly written 90-minute tale, the original 90-minute meeting of Nazi high 
officials that resulted in approval of the Final Solution. Far from a mere 
effort to duplicate that meeting moment by moment, the film presents a 
freely roving narration as it moves in and out of conversations, zeroes in 
on individuals and their mannerisms, portrays backroom political maneu- 
vering, and allows dramatic tensions to emerge unconstrained by a docu- 
mentary or docudrama format. The film, in its way, was an important 
testimony of public reflection in Germany on the war, emphatically declar- 
ing German responsibility for the death camps and acknowledging those 
events as crimes."' In addition to the film's implicit debt to Lanzmann's 
Shoah, it should be seen as a partial reply to Hans Jiirgen Syberberg's 
seven-hour surreal fantasy Hitler: A Film from Germany (1975), which set 
Nazism into a distinctly "postmodern" aura, embracing irrationality as a 
fact of life and providing a disturbingly quietistic normalization of German 
experience in the context of an inhumane world. Lanzmann's Shoah itself 
had very likely been mustered, in part, as a reply to Syberberg. 

Echoes of Lanzmann's film are perhaps discernible in a different way in 
Paul Mazursky's seriocomic Enemies, a Love Story (1987), based on Isaac 
Bashevis Singer's novel, which placed the experience of Holocaust survivors 
into a newly intimate context. This is possibly Mazursky's best film, explor- 
ing the tragicomic domestic entanglements of a Holocaust survivor, Her- 
man Broder (Ron Silver), living in the New York City of 1949. The fore- 
ground of this film — Singer's tale itself, respectfully rendered into a tautly 
competent screenplay by Mazursky, and well acted by a superb cast (which 
includes Mazursky himself in a key supporting role) — is perhaps less 
interesting than the re-created setting of midcentury New York's bustling 
Jewish life: a world of kosher dairy restaurants, religious-articles mer- 
chants, ubiquitous Orthodoxy, thriving Yiddish presses, bus trips to spare 
but heymish Catskill resorts, and the vast thicket of personal ads from 
survivor refugees seeking family members. This is a Jewish New York that 
appeared, as if out of nowhere, in the late '40s, unique by its complicated 
blend of newly arrived refugees and long-settled homeborn. This extraordi- 
nary commingling would be witnessed only once in this century and within 
a few years would lose much of its form and presence. This would be an 

"On postwar German cinema's relation to the Nazi years, see, in general, Anton Kaes, From 
Hitler to Heimat: The Return of History as Film (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), and Eric Santner, 
Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany (Ithaca, N.Y., 1990). 


intriguing subject for a documentary film to explore in depth, but Ma- 
zursky's selective and stylized treatment of it is well crafted, respectful, and 
a perfect foil to the story. 

A major accomplishment of the story itself was to demonstrate how 
realms touched by the Holocaust could be approached through comedy. 
Lubitsch had already shown this in 1942, in To Be or Not To Be, before the 
world knew fully of the destruction under way, but Lubitsch's film was a 
flop in its time, and humor related to the Nazi era was thereafter largely 
quelled or confined to black comedy (as in Mel Brooks's The Producers) and 
cabaret satire (as in Bob Fosse's Cabaret). But Singer wrote extensively 
about survivors, and his peculiarly mordant vision of the world translated 
surprisingly well to their experience. As a disciple of Gogol, Dickens, and 
other 19th-century masters of storytelling. Singer knew how to universalize 
his characters without departing from his own cultural universe, and Ma- 
zursky preserved the Singeresque rhythms. Enemies, at any rate, is a tale 
in which tragic and comic are inseparable, a storytelling and filmic ideal, 
and Mazursky's thoughtful creation of the midcentury New York milieu 
allows the film to say a great deal, not just about survivors' experience as 
such but about the historical setting of their survival. 

Film on the Holocaust and survivor experience should, properly speak- 
ing, be set in the context of a now vast harvest of discussion on the represen- 
tation of Nazism and the Holocaust, discourse that amounts to a virtual 
cultural explosion, which has grown notably intense from the late '80s 
onward: explorations of the Holocaust's historical uniqueness;'" literary and 
artistic dimensions of Holocaust writing and art;" problems of historiogra- 
phy and historical comprehension;" consideration of the task of remember- 
ing and the nature of memorials;" the history of acknowledgement and 

"See asp. Steven T. Katz, "The 'Unique' Intentionality of the Holocaust," in idem, Post- 
Holocaust Dialogues: Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought (New York, 1985), pp. 287 - 
317; idem, The Holocaust in Historical Context, vol. 1 (New York, 1994); Berel Lang, Act and 
Idea in the Nazi Genocide (Chicago, 1990). 

"See, e.g., Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, By Words Alone: The Holocaust in Literature (Chicago, 
1980); Saul Friedlander, Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death (New York, 
1984); Janet Blatter and Sybil Milton, eds.. Art of the Holocaust (New York, 1981); Lawrence 
Langer, The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination (New Haven, 1975). 

"See, e.g., Dominick La Capra, Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma 
(Ithaca, N.Y., 1994); Saul Friedlander, ed.. Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and 
the "Final Solution" (Cambridge, Mass., 1992); Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust in History 
(New York, 1989); Berel Lang, Writing and the Holocaust (New York, 1988); James E. Young, 
Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation 
(Bloomington, Ind., 1988); Hayden White, "The Politics of Historical Representation," in 
idem. The Content of the Form (Baltimore, 1987); and Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The Holocaust 
and the Historians (Cambridge, Mass., 1981). 

"See, e.g., Edward Tabor Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's 
Holocaust Museum (New York, 1995); Geoffrey Hartman, ed.. Holocaust Remembrance: The 


denial of the Holocaust;'" of the representation of disaster in Jewish and 
other literature, past and present;" and matters of theology and belief in the 
aftermath of the Holocaust." 

This trend has also spawned research and evaluation of film on Holocaust 
subjects, most notably, Annette Insdorf 's Indelible Shadows: Film and the 
Holocaust, the most comprehensive overview of the area up to the 1980s." 
Her wide-ranging essays on many topics, her willingness to consider certain 
individual films or themes in depth, her involvement with the international 
output of film, her engagement both with film's cinematic language and 
with the ongoing state of discussion and reflection on the Holocaust, and 
above all the compelling moral purpose that motivates her to write, make 
InsdorflTs study a valuable resource. Also useful is Judith Doneson's The 
Holocaust in American Film, which confines its scope to certain representa- 
tive films in the American milieu that marked what Doneson calls "the 
Americanization of the Holocaust."" Some helpful emphasis is placed on 
idioms of popular culture and on questions of ideology, public opinion, and 
historical reception. 

Somewhat less successful than these works is Ilan Avisar's Screening the 
Holocaust: Cinema's Images of the Unimaginable,^'' which is marred by 
exceptionally awkward writing, by a seemingly random progression of top- 
ics, and by numerous questionable turns of argument. Even so, the book 
gets into some interesting areas, including chapters on Czech cinema, on the 
relation of modern and postmodern, and on Chaplin's The Great Dictator. 

Shapes of Memory (Oxford, 1994); Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, eds.. Anatomy 
of the Auschwitz Death Camp (Bloomington, Ind., 1994); Saul Friedlander, Memory, History, 
and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe (Bloomington, Ind., 1993); James E. Young, The 
Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven, 1993); Sybil Milton, 
In Fitting Memory: The Art and Politics of Holocaust Memorials (Detroit, 1991). 

"See, e.g., Deborah Lipstadt, Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the 
Holocaust, 1933 - 1945 (New York, 1986); idem. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault 
on Truth and Memory (New York, 1993); Walter Lacqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression 
of the Truth About Hitler's "Final Solution" (Boston, 1980); and David S. Wyman, The 
Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941 - 1945 (New York, 1985). 

"See, e.g., David G. Roskies, Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modem 
Jewish Culture (Cambridge, Mass., 1984); idem, ed.. The Literature of Destruction: Jewish 
Responses to Catastrophe (Philadelphia, 1988); Alan L. Mintz, Hurban: Responses to Catastro- 
phe in Hebrew Literature (New York, 1984). 

"See, among many sources, John K. Roth and Michael Berenbaum, eds.. Holocaust: Reli- 
gious and Philosophical Implications (New York, 1989); Emil L. Fackenheim, To Mend the 
tVorld: Foundations of Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought (New York, 1982); Richard Rubinstein, 
After Auschwitz: Essays in Contemporary Judaism (Indianapolis, 1966). 

"Annette Insdorf, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1989). 

"Judith E. Doneson, The Holocaust in American Film (Philadelphia, 1987). 

"Ilan Avisar, Screening the Holocaust: Cinema 's Images of the Unimaginable (Bloomington, 
Ind., 1988). 


Avisar's overall thesis, in any case, should be evaluated in the light of the 
considerations of the preceding pages. In his own words: 

Genuine works on the Holocaust are rooted in the necessity to furnish truthful 
pictures of the unprecedented horrors, and they attempt to convey to the beholder 
the unsettling degrees of human suffering and human evil in the Nazi universe 
of atrocities. . . . [W]e need to define the critical principles which can contribute 
to the avoidance of inadequate representations in the form of compromising 
distortions or reprehensible falsifications.'" 

This is essentially a restatement of the old "images" approach, which, in 
truth, is impossible to expunge from any study of Jewish experience on film. 
Avisar's thesis, to be sure, is rooted in a special context, one influenced by 
the overwhelming flood of survivor testimony that began to reach a wide 
readership from the '60s onward. The writings of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, 
Jean Amery, and others have made "testimony" a principal imperative of 
postwar literature and film on the Holocaust, and Lanzmann's Shoah, 
which receives extensive and respectful comment by Avisar, is surely an act 
of testimony carried to its moral and artistic limits. But the fact that a film 
like Shoah cannot be seen out of the context of other important films with 
which it interacts, or which in turn it influences, means that one cannot 
address to these films the simple questions that Avisar asks: Is it "genuine"? 
Are its pictures "truthful"? Does it contain "compromising distortions" or 
"reprehensible falsifications"? This approach is in danger of making discus- 
sion of film on the Nazi era and the Holocaust into little more than a moral 
report card. In any case, given the close intertwining of the history of film 
with the history of 20th-century tyranny, there is virtually no film that/a//^ 
to be a "genuine" Holocaust film. We can learn as much from a putatively 
reprehensible film as we can from an impeccable one. 

Recent Trends 

It is too early to evaluate the present, to assess the shape and direction 
of the films of Jewish experience in the past ten years. To some degree, we 
find a continuation of the trends toward unselfconscious representation of 
Jewish experience that have prevailed since the 1970s, with a deepening and 
expansion of their possibilities. In other ways, we find a continuation of the 
classical themes and preoccupations of a former era. These trends have 
affected both mainstream, mass-market films and the much broader tide of 
low-budget, independent, and foreign films that comprise the programs of 
Jewish film festivals. The festivals, which are now an annual event in major 
cities, have multiplied impressively around the United States and abroad in 
recent years and are themselves an institution worthy of study. 

'"Ibid., p. 1. 


Among mass-market films that come readily to mind as subjects for 
future study are Mazursky's Enemies, a Love Story, discussed earlier; Chris 
Menges' A World Apart (1988), a foreign import based on the lives of Joe 
Slovo and Ruth First, respected but embattled South African anti-apartheid 
activists of Jewish origin (this latter fact not mentioned by the film), seen 
from the vantage point of their daughter, Shawn Slovo, who wrote the 
screenplay; Paul Bogart's Torch Song Trilogy (1988), based on Harvey 
Fierstein's semi-autobiographical account of a Jewish drag-queen enter- 
tainer, superbly played by Fierstein himself; Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss 
Daisy (1989), about the slowly developing friendship between a well-to-do 
Alabama Jewish widow and her black chauffeur, tracing their story from 
the 1940s to the recent past; Avalon (1990), Barry Levinson's saga of Jewish 
family life in Baltimore in the '40s; Barbet Schroeder's Reversal of Fortune 
(1990), based on Alan Dershowitz's memoir, detailing the Jewish attorney's 
defense of socialite Claus von Bulow, on trial for attempted murder of his 
wife; Billy Crystal's Mr Saturday Night (1992), featuring Crystal as a 
Borscht Belt and TV comedian, whose career over several decades is re- 
counted; Frank Pierson's HBO film Citizen Cohn (1992), based on Nicholas 
von Hoffman's biography of "bad boy" Jewish attorney Roy Cohn, famous 
for his role in the McCarthy era, featuring an extraordinary performance 
by James Woods as Cohn; Robert Mandel's School Ties (1992), about a 
Jewish kid from Scranton on athletic scholarship at a New England prep 
school, who encounters the anti-Semitism of his classmates; and most nota- 
bly, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), based on Thomas Keneally's 
acclaimed docu-novel about Oskar Schindler, the Czech-German entrepre- 
neur and war profiteer who sheltered over 1,100 Jews from deportation to 
death camps. 

American films of the above list, which had separate destinies at the box 
office, provide, for better or for worse, a composite portrait of mainstream 
America's present-day attitudes toward Jewishness, or at least toward those 
themes of Jewishness that have attained a certain "classical" respectability: 
"bad boy" success stories; the Jewish presence in modern history; Jews seen 
through the lens of nostalgia; anti-Semitism in the cradle of Yankeedom, 
New England; and Holocaust survivors and near-victims. Again, the fact 
that most of these films deal with the period of the 1940s to the early '60s, 
and that the remainder (Torch Song Trilogy and Reversal of Fortune) are 
set in a recent past now seen in historical hindsight, is surely significant. 
While it could suggest that Hollywood is still uncomfortable about narrat- 
ing the Jewish present, or that Jews are somehow seen as synonymous with 
"pastness," or with historical memory as such, the process likewise demon- 
strates a reverse assimilation, that of mainstream culture to its marginal 
components. Although this is a trend long rooted in Hollywood custom, 


recalling the show-biz biographies in 1950s cinema, several of the above 
films, especially Enemies, a Love Story, Avalon, Citizen Cohn, and Schind- 
ler's List, are told with a deeper respect for the historicity of their subjects 
than was possible in a previous generation of cinema. 

Schindler's List in particular represents something of a milestone in the 
depiction of Holocaust themes, as well as marking a distinctive turn in that 
director's output. Filmed superbly in black-and-white by cinematographer 
Janusz Kaminsky, Schindler's List is mostly quiet, respectful, and dignified, 
a genuinely moving film, solidly rooted in the wartime milieu of Krakow, 
Poland, and nearby Zwittau, Schindler's home town in Czechoslovakia to 
which he moved his factory after its Krakow operations were closed down. 
The enthusiastic reception of this film, however, should prompt caution in 
evaluating its cultural impact. Its visual sophistication, superbly crafted 
story, and fine performances do not conceal the fact that the film, in some 
respects, has more in common with the TV miniseries Holocaust than with, 
say, Lanzmann's truly groundbreaking Shoah .*' It comes close at points to 
sentimentalization of Holocaust realities and an assimilation of the wartime 
milieu to idioms of the classical Hollywood style. On the latter grounds, the 
film can, and should, be savored and appreciated, but it would be a mistake 
to allow it to stand as the last word on the subject, as the Holocaust film 
par excellence. Were such a lionization to occur, Schindler's List could very 
likely recapitulate the fate of the 1927 Jazz Singer (with which it has much 
else in common): to be the preface to a long era of silence on Jews and 
Jewish experience. 

Beyond the Mass Market 

Schindler's List is a case where we must uncouple the excellence of a film 
from the problematic nature of its enthusiastic reception. In light of this 
problem there are grounds for arguing that mass-market film should not be 
seen as the sole, or even main, arena for the films of Jewish experience. One 
should look, rather, to low-budget and independent filmmaking, and to 
imported films, both domains that have manifested a richer and more 
variegated approach to Jewish realities. Among these films, some of which 
had their principal airings in the United States on public television or in 

"Lanzmann's own criticisms of Schindler's List were voiced in an interview for BBC2 
Television's "Moving Pictures," Dec. 4, 1993. See also Claude Lanzmann, "The Twisted Truth 
of Schindler's List," London Evening Standard, Feb. 10, 1994. Cf. Alvin H. Rosenfeld, "The 
Americanization of the Holocaust," David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs, 5 
(Ann Arbor, Mich., 1995), pp. 24-32. Rosenfeld, appropriately, concentrates less on the 
film's obvious artistic merits than on certain ideological presuppositions endemic to American 
understanding of the Holocaust. For an evaluation of the film and its impact in the broader 
context of film on Holocaust subjects, see the article by Thomas Elsaesser cited in note 69. 


urban (not specifically Jewish) film festivals, one should keep in mind Eli 
Cohen's The Quarrel (1991), a Canadian film based on Chaim Grade's short 
story "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner," about two Holocaust survivors, 
one an atheist writer, the other a Hassid, who had been yeshivah students 
together in Poland and now meet by chance and argue about God's justice; 
David Mamet's Homicide (1991), about a Jewish cop in New York investi- 
gating the murder of a Jewish doctor; Anthony Drazan's Zebrahead (1992), 
the story of a Jewish kid in an interracial romance in Detroit's inner city; 
and Fires in the Mirror (1993), the public-television airing of Anna Deavere 
Smith's live one-woman drama about tensions between Jews and blacks that 
exploded in Crown Heights after a Hassidic driver fatally struck a black 
child in an auto accident and another Hassid was murdered in a revenge 
attack. While not, strictly speaking, a film. Smith's play is intercut with film 
and still-shot sequences and represents an important document on contem- 
porary Jewish-black relations in an urban setting. 

This is the place to mention the fine work that has been done in documen- 
tary films in recent years, some of which has been aired on public television. 
These include Lodz Ghetto (1989), Kathryn Taverna and Alan Abelson's 
extraordinary assemblage of rare footage, in color and black-and-white, of 
life in the Nazi-era ghetto, with narrative based on Lucien Dobroszycki's 
A Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto and on individual diaries from the ghetto; 
The Partisans of Vilna (1986), Josh Wiletzky's film about Jewish resistance 
fighters in and around the Jewish ghetto in Lithuania, including some 
interesting focus on the role played by the women fighters; and Martin 
Ostrow's America and the Holocaust (1994), a scathing indictment of U.S. 
immigration policy in the era of the European catastrophe, based largely on 
David Wyman's historical work. Although Holocaust subjects probably 
account for the bulk of the output of Jewish-related documentary film, there 
have been some worthwhile films on contemporary Jewish culture. Michal 
Goldman's y4 Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden is an intriguing explora- 
tion of the contemporary art of Klezmer music, the Yiddish musical idiom 
that has undergone an impressive revival in recent years. 

Documentaries have formed one important component of the Jewish film 
festival movement, which has burgeoned in the past decade in the United 
States and abroad. Jewish film festivals have become annual events in 
several North American cities, usually extending over a period of two or 
three weeks. The emphasis at these events is usually on lesser-known Amer- 
ican and foreign films (from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Israel, North 
Africa, and other lands), and on independent filmmakers in several coun- 
tries, including the United States." 

"For a partial listing of films shown in such festivals, see Deborah Kaufman, Janis Plotkin, 
and Rena Orenthal, eds., A Guide to Films Featured in the Jewish Film Festival (Berkeley, 
Jewish Film Festival, 1991). 


Here is a sampling from one such program held in the San Francisco Bay 
Area in July 1993. Among documentaries and short subjects, there were 
Connie Marks's Let's Fall in Love: A Singles Weekend at the Concord Hotel 
(U.S., 1993), a thoughtful and good-humored look at a thriving Jewish 
social scene in the Catskills; Jonathan Herman's The Shvitz (U.S., 1993), a 
richly textured study that features patrons, staff, and neighbors of the few 
remaining public Russian-Jewish steambaths in New York City, with reflec- 
tion on the cultural meaning of this cherished but dying institution; Babak 
Shokrian's A Peaceful Sabbath (U.S., 1993), a dramatic short, set in Los 
Angeles's Iranian and Iranian-Jewish communities, that explores relations 
between the sexes in a particularly disenchanted light; Ruggero Gabbai's 
The King of Crown Heights (U.S., 1992), a 58-minute look at the Lubavitch 
community in Crown Heights and its charismatic leader, Rebbe Menachem 
Mendel Schneerson (since deceased); and Steve Levitt's Deaf Heaven (U.S., 
1992), a 29-minute film drama featuring a conversation at a health club 
between a young homosexual man whose lover is dying of AIDS and an 
elderly Holocaust survivor (played by David Opatoshu) who gives him a 
reason to go on living. Films more directly on Holocaust themes included 
Pavel Lozinski's remarkable Birthplace (Poland, 1992), a documentary 
chronicling Holocaust survivor Henryk Grynberg's trip back to Poland to 
find out who murdered his father during the war; and Jack Kuper's A Day 
in the Warsaw Ghetto: A Birthday Trip in Hell (Canada, 1992), a 35-minute 
display, with narrative commentary, of the extraordinary photographs ille- 
gally taken by a Wehrmacht sergeant during a visit on his 42nd birthday 
to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941. 

Among foreign-made feature films, there were Assaf Dayan's Life Ac- 
cording to Agfa (Israel, 1992), an award-winning, if uneven, fiction film set 
in an all-night bar in Tel Aviv, whose staff and patrons bring with them the 
full array of social and political tensions in contemporary Israel; Jacek 
Bromski's 1968 — Happy New Year (Poland, 1993), a fiction film about 
Communist Poland's anti- Jewish purges in 1968; Andrzej Wajda's The 
Promised Land (Poland, 1974), an epic film about the partnership of a Pole, 
a German, and a Jew who team up to build a textile factory in Lodz, Poland, 
in the late 19th century; Wajda's Korczak (Poland, 1990), a tender but 
unblinkeredly lucid portrait of Janusz Korczak, the Jewish physician who 
ran an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto and who perished at Auschwitz 
with the children under his care; and Jens Carl Eblers' Republic of Dreams 
(Germany, 1993), a surrealistic fantasy depicting a contemporary artist's 
efforts to commune with the late Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz by 
traveling to Schulz's hometown of Drohobycz, Poland. 

There were, as well, two classic films in the festival program: a beautifully 
restored version (with live organ accompaniment) of Frank Borzage's Hu- 
moresque (U.S., 1920), based on Fannie Hurst's novel, the melodramatic 


tale of a young Jewish man who is pressed by his mother to become a 
concert violinist, then is injured in World War I and later enabled, through 
his mother's devoted love, to resume his career; and Robert Rossen's Body 
and Soul (U.S., 1947), mentioned earlier, which starred John Garfield, the 
story of a Jewish boxer from the Lower East Side who must deal with the 
efforts of a local crime boss to fix his fight. 

What is especially intriguing about this array, apart from the intrinsic 
appeal of the films themselves, is its relative freedom from classical film 
paradigms of Jewish experience, as discussed in the foregoing pages. In all 
but the last two festival films mentioned, Jews are comfortably "out" in a 
variety of senses: as urban singles, elderly, liberated women, gays and 
lesbians; as working-class, ultra-Orthodox, Yiddish speakers, immigrants, 
refugees, survivors; as seekers of vindication, of bodily pleasure, of mes- 
sianic redemption. If the festivals themselves have an ideological underpin- 
ning it is that of multiculturalism, except that here multiple cultures are 
shown to thrive within Jewish life itself. There is, to be sure, preoccupation 
with the Jewish catastrophe of the Holocaust, but it is not permitted to 
engulf the life of the present. One way or another, the film festivals have 
resulted in a refreshingly varied and richly informative selection of films, 
a format that will, in time, prove influential to future film of Jewish experi- 
ence and to study of the subject. 

One should also mention here important archives and collections in 
Jewish film that have been founded in recent years, notably the National 
Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University in Boston, which has main- 
tained a generally close connection with the film festivals. Under the direc- 
tion of Sharon Rivo, the center has pursued restoration work on film 
materials in danger of disintegration, has amassed an important collection 
of films of Jewish experience (including silent film, Yiddish film, documen- 
taries, and American film of the classical era), which it makes available 
through videotape and exhibition rentals, and has served as a valuable 
archive for researchers in film studies. 

Also important in this context are the National Jewish Archive of Broad- 
casting, at the Jewish Museum in New York City, which has collected more 
than 2,000 television programs on Jewish subjects, and the closely allied 
Jewish Heritage Video Collection, a project of the Jewish Media Fund, 
sponsored by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, in New York City. The 
project has developed courses, programs, and video-library materials for 
Jewish community centers, Hillel organizations, the Jewish Y, family edu- 
cation curricula, public libraries, museums, synagogue youth groups, and 
adult education programs. This institutional maturation and productivity 
in Jewish media studies will eventually prove immensely helpful to the 
study of Jewish experience on film. 


Conclusion: The Future of Jewish Film Research 

The foregoing pages have aimed at providing a broad overview of films, 
film personnel, and trends that have played a major role in shaping Ameri- 
can cinema of Jewish experience in this century. Some further reflections 
are in order on the tasks facing the investigator of Jewish experience on film, 
in the context of the disciplines of film studies and Jewish studies. It would 
be impossible to discuss in the present space the full range and depth of 
problems that await elucidation by the historian or theoretician of the 
subject, but a few brief suggestions can be offiered. 

First, much room exists at present for study in depth of particular films. 
This approach has, for good reasons, been called into question by some film 
scholars, both for its tendency to imitate slavishly the methods of literary 
textual study and for the film interpreter's frequent use of the individual film 
as a proof-text for some preconceived theoretical doctrine that the film is 
alleged to exemplify or confirm." But close study of the individual film can, 
in fact, serve as a disciplining groundwork for understanding the full range 
of factors that create filmic meaning in a given historical era, and, as noted 
earlier, such study has been largely absent from existing histories of the 
Jewish image in film. Provided attention is given to the many dimensions 
that make up a film — its concrete devices of cinematic art; its historical 
and ideological context; its production and reception; its relation to other 
films of its era, genre, or subject; and the various philosophical and cultural 
problems arising from its interpretation — the individual film can serve as 
a vitally important focus for understanding the historical tensions and 
preoccupations that find their way to cinematic expression.'" For Jewish 
film historians, this is true whether one is dealing with canonically momen- 
tous films like Der Golem, The Jazz Singer, Gentleman's Agreement, The 
Diary of Anne Frank, Exodus, Shoah , or Schindler's List, or with neglected 
or forgotten films like Hungry Hearts, The Man I Married, or The Plot 
Against Harry . Addressing the question of how it was possible for a particu- 
lar film to be made and released (or withheld, or ignored) at a particular 
moment in history can shed light on important areas of Jewish history in 
the countries and environments where Jews have lived. 

Second, the historian of Jewish experience on film will sooner or later 
have to confront the vast thicket of film theory and explore its usefulness 
for Jewish film studies." As noted earlier, there is much that is wrong- 

"See, most recently, David Bordwell, "Contemporary Film Studies and the Vicissitudes of 
Grand Theory," in Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, ed. David Bordwell and Noel 
Carroll (Madison, Wis., 1996), pp. 3 - 36, esp. 24 - 26; Noel Carroll, "Prospects for Film 
Theory: A Personal Assessment," ibid., pp. 37-68, esp. pp. 41 -44. 

"Cf. Tom Gunning, "Film History and Film Analysis: The Individual Film in the Course 
of Time," Wide Angle 12, no. 3 (July 1990), pp. 4-19. 

"Major collections of essays in earlier and contemporary film theory include Gerald Mast, 


headed about contemporary film theory, and many of its voguish postures, 
stale dogmas, and esoteric excesses well deserve to be called into question." 
But the philosophical ambition of this body of reflection is praiseworthy 
nonetheless, and its contentions have thus proven immensely challenging 
and stimulating. Integration of film study with the insights and preoccupa- 
tions of linguistics, semiotics, psychoanalysis, anthropology, economic and 
social theory, philosophy, aesthetics, literary criticism, gender studies, and 
so forth should continue to be encouraged, and many of the dubious and 
unquestioned contentions of contemporary theory should be polemically 
challenged. Moreover, there is a great deal to be learned from rereading 
earlier film theoreticians (Eisenstein, Balasz, Bazin, Kracauer, et al.), by 
way of illuminating the horizons of film practice in former eras and by way 
of discovering unresolved problems that contemporary theory has mistak- 
enly declared solved or obsolete." Special realms of film theory can help us 
to illuminate certain specific areas — such as spectator identification with 
screen characters and situations; film's role in the shaping or undermining 
of belief and prejudice; film representation of gender, family relations, 
childhood, adolescence, and elderly experience, ethnicity, and social class; 
and ways that the historical reception of a film mirrors larger social forces 
— that have direct relevance for understanding the film of Jewish 

Thirdly, study of Jewish experience on film must seek to place its insights 
in the context of ethnic film studies as a whole and the study of various 
national cinemas, both for comparative purposes and for the sake of under- 

Marshall Cohen, and Leo Braudy, eds., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, 4th 
ed. (New York, 1992); John Ellis et al., Screen Reader 1: Cinema, Ideology, Politics (London, 
1977); Bill Nichols, ed.. Movies and Methods, 2 vols. (Berkeley, 1976 and 1985); Philip Rosen, 
ed.. Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader (New York, 1986); Pam Cook, ed.. 
The Cinema Book (London, 1993). 

"See esp. the articles by Bordwell and Carroll cited in note 63, and David Bordwell, Making 
Meaning: Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema (see note 5), esp. pp. 249- 
74. More sympathetic critiques have been offered by D. N. Rodowick, The Crisis of Political 
Modernism: Criticism and Ideology in Contemporary Film Theory (Berkeley, 1994), esp. pp. 
271 - 302, and Robert B. Ray, The Avant-Garde Finds Andy Hardy (Cambridge, Mass., 1995), 
pp. 1 - 23. Cf. Robert B. Ray, "The Bordwell Regime and the Stakes of Knowledge," Strategies 
1 (1988), pp. 142-81. 

"See, among others, Sergei Eisenstein, The Film Sense (New York, 1942, 1947), and idem. 
Film Form: Essays in Film Theory (New York, 1949); Bela Balasz, Theory of the Film: 
Character and Growth of the New Art (New York, 1970); Andre Bazin, What Is Cinema? 2 
vols. (Berkeley, 1967, 1971); Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical 
Reality (Oxford, 1960). A 1936 essay by Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of 
Mechanical Reproduction," in idem. Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York, 1969), 
pp. 217-51, has come increasingly to haunt contemporary film studies. Cf Ray, The Avant- 
Garde Finds Andy Hardy, pp. 16- 17. Contrast Bordwell, "Contemporary Film Studies and 
. . . Grand Theory," pp. 9, 21, 33. 


Standing the broader relation of minority cultures to a cosmopolitan civil 
society." Attention to the latter problem will enable ethnic film studies to 
escape the confines of narrow interpretive bailiwicks, defined by the life of 
a particular people, and will thereby unite specialists in individual cultures 
on questions of common interest. The problems America faces as a multi- 
ethnic society are not far different from those facing the bourgeois democ- 
racies abroad, and they must, as well, be evaluated in relation to the experi- 
ence of various less bourgeois and less democratic nations that have recently 
come unmoored from their Cold War alignments. The ethnic and religious 
fanaticism that has shaken Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, 
for example, in the aftermath of the Cold War clearly demonstrates that the 
establishment of a viably cosmopolitan society is very much an open ques- 
tion for any nation, even for the most stable democracies. In such a context, 
current doctrines of multiculturalism, such as those popular at present in 
contemporary film studies, have been both a help and a hindrance. They 
have helped by widening the playing field, by insisting that the whole social 
tableau of a modern nation, and in particular its most marginalized compo- 
nents, be made relevant to that nation's cultural history. They have hin- 
dered by often reducing that history to a power game, to a scenario of 
subjugation and dominance; by failing to see a nation's mainstream culture 
as a flexible and protean organism; and by viewing films and other cultural 
artifacts as little more than ideological tracts. These difficulties can, I think, 
be transcended, and historians and interpreters of the film of Jewish, Afri- 
can, Hispanic, and Asian experience, among others, have much to teach one 

This is true even where certain historical events, such as the Holocaust, 
have, as some might argue, placed Jewish experience beyond the pale of 
translatability. That very abyss of apparent incommensurateness puts the 
Jewish film scholar, more than ever, in need of common ground with other 
ethnic film studies specialists. Fortunately, film on Holocaust subjects has 
proven to be of interest to film scholarship at large, and forms a central 
subject for those interested in film's comprehension of 20th-century his- 
tory.*' Sooner or later, such study will prove useful for exploring the cine- 

"Useful (and often faulty) theoretical essays on the subject by various authors have been 
offered in Friedman, ed., Unspeakable Images: Ethnicity and the American Cinema (see note 
5). See also Wohl and Miller, Ethnic Images in American Film and Television (see note 7). 
A fine theoretical discussion on the relation of minority cultures to civil society is offered by 
Louis Menand, "Diversity," in Critical Terms for Literary Study , ed. Frank Lentricchia and 
Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago, 1995), pp. 336-53. 

"See, e.g., the recent important essay by Thomas Elsaesser, "Subject Positions, Speaking 
Positions: From Holocaust, Our Hitler, and Heimat to Shoah and Schindler's List," in The 
Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event, ed. Vivian Sobchack (New 
York and London, 1996), pp. 145 - 83. 


matic response, if it exists, to the mass slaughter of Armenians, Gypsies, 
Kurds, Bosnian Muslims, Rwandan Tutsis, and other peoples, and for 
understanding the moral, ethical, psychological, and philosophical prob- 
lems of comprehending atrocity-survivor experience in modern society at 
large. This could lead to firmer insights about the role of cinema in both 
jeopardizing and enhancing human rights and intercultural understanding. 

Finally, the film of Jewish experience should be plumbed for its specifi- 
cally Jewish historical meaning. Jewish peoplehood has long evolved ac- 
cording to its own internal dialectic. It is perhaps to the historian Gershom 
Scholem that we are most indebted for that insight, and Scholem spent his 
life elucidating the texts of Jewish mysticism that manifested this process. 
Scholem, however, was deeply interested in the material circumstances of 
Jewish history, in secular Jewish culture, in the interaction of Jews with 
their environment, and in the emergence of a post-traditional Jewish society 
in modern times. He advocated close attention to what he called the "base- 
ment" areas of Jewish experience, such as the life of the Jewish underworld 
and other areas banned from the "salon"-centered history of the major 
19th-century Jewish historians. As Scholem observed: "Such matters were 
simply disregarded [by the historians]. Today, we have to collect them with 
the greatest difficulty in order to gain a reasonably complete picture of how 
the Jewish organism functioned in relation to its actual environment."'" The 
film of Jewish experience is a rich register of such "nonofficial" areas of 
Jewish history, and Scholem would perhaps have welcomed it as a serious 
topic of Jewish studies. 

Only a few themes of classical Jewish tradition and folklore have found 
their way to filmic expression. This very scarcity is a problem of historical 
importance, and the few themes that have appeared are thus, for better or 
for worse, magnified in importance and suggestiveness. In particular, the 
legend of the Golem and that of the Dybbuk have spawned several film 
classics (the 1920 German film Der Golem ; the 1937 French film Le Golem; 
and the 1938 Yiddish film from Poland Der Dybbuk). Understanding the 
shared preoccupations of these films, and the ways in which their respective 
legends served as parables or metaphors of modern history and of the film 
medium, and generated permutations in more "secular" film stories of 
Jewish experience, is a vitally important task. The 1920 Golem , for example, 
makes the golem figure a parable of film art itself (a parable facilitated by 
the traditional belief that the Golem's inventor, the 16th-century mystic 
Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, was also the inventor of the camera obscura, 
predecessor to both photographic and motion-picture camera), and Paul 
Wegener, the film's co-director and star (who played the Golem), can be 

'"Gershom Scholem, "The Science of Judaism — Then and Now," in idem, The Messianic 
Idea in Judaism, and Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality (New York, 1971), p. 309. 


shown to have exhibited a remarkable prescience, conscious or otherwise, 
about the relation of film to modern catastrophe. Wegener himself would 
later make films under Nazi aegis, during the years of the Third Reich, and 
in some sense he already foresaw film's troublesome servitude to demonic 
forces in Der Golem . 

Both the Golem and the Dybbuk legends, and their filmed portrayals, 
manifest interesting uses of motifs of disguise and metamorphosis, and these 
have had meaningful reverberations in the film of Jewish experience gener- 
ally. So many Jewish film characters undergo disguise or temporary meta- 
morphosis that deeper factors seem to be at play: Ben Hur as "the Unknown 
Jew"; Jake Rabinowitz as Jack Robin, Jack Robin as blackface minstrel; the 
Golem as a household servant; Khonnon as the Dybbuk; the Marx Brothers 
as four variegatedly costumed facets of a single personality; Bressart's 
Greenberg as Shylock; Ari ben Canaan as a British colonial official; Strei- 
sand's Yentl as a yeshivah boy; Schindler's Jews as wartime munitions 
workers; Woody Allen's Zelig as everybody. This fascination with disguise 
is not unique to the film of Jewish experience — it has affected other ethnic 
films' affinity for tales of "passing" in an alien society, or, in the case of 
Yentl and much screwball comedy, an alien gender, and underlies, as well, 
science-fiction film's fascination with androids, changelings, and liquid cy- 
borgs. The preoccupation could, I believe, if investigated with appropriate 
caution and skepticism, be meaningfully connected with Jewish mysticism's 
themes of messianic disguise and apostasy, and the closely related Hassidic 
theme of "the descent of the Tzaddik," motifs that prompted Gershom 
Scholem to associate the failed 17th-century messianic movement of Shab- 
batai Sevi with the dawning of Jewish modernity — to Emancipation, Re- 
form, Zionism, historicism, revolutionary politics, and Jewish secular cul- 
ture." The broader issues of exile, catastrophe, and redemption that helped 
to shape early modem Jewish messianism, all major preoccupations of 
Jewish life and thought from the Middle Ages onward, have had, in their 
way, considerable impact on film history, both in general and in the film 
of Jewish experience, and more systematic and reflective attention to these 
connections is an important task for the Jewish cultural historian. 

The early Hollywood moguls were themselves distant recipients of these 
vast historical tides. The East European immigrants who founded and 
shaped the studio system may not have known directly the stories and lore 
of a messiah's apostasy, the journey of disguise, or the exile of God. But they 
had it, as it were, in their bones. It was in the shrug of the schlemiel and 
in the haberdasher's trade; it was in their own assimilation to America, and 
ultimately it was in American film. It encompassed America's vision of 

"See Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York, 1941, 1961), pp. 
287-324, esp. 306ff. Cf. Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism, pp. 78- 175. 


picket -fence respectability and small-town values, of Yankee decency, and, 
too, however muted, of Melting Pot harmony. These were messianic fanta- 
sies of a sort, but they were also a serious vision of America, and, more 
important, they helped open up a public space where fantasy, belief, and 
thought about America could thrive. The studio moguls were perhaps 
simply selling another kind of clothing, a clothing for the mind. But they 
had inadvertently helped to create something of incalculable value to civil 
society: a national cinema. Like Rabbi Judah Loew's troublesome Golem, 
however, it was a product haunted by catastrophe, and it did not weather 
innocently an era of catastrophe. These events, at a point of intersection 
between Jewish history, American history, and film history, form a signifi- 
cant part, though by no means the totality, of the complicated subject we 
call the film of Jewish experience. 

Israelis in the United States 

by Steven J. Gold and Bruce A. Phillips 

X he subject of Israeli Jews coining to settle in the United States 
is one that has generated considerable controversy over the years, focusing 
on two primary issues: the actual number of Israelis who have come here, 
and their acceptance by the American Jewish community. The first, al- 
though it might appear simple, is in fact extremely complicated, in part due 
to lack of adequate data but equally because of the very difficulty of deciding 
whom to include in such a count. In the words of Israeli demographer 
Sergio DellaPergola, "The problem of 'Who is an Israeli?' is no less, and 
probably quite more, complex than the issue of 'Who is a Jew?' " Depending 
on the definition used and on the available sources of data, "possibly as 
many as 15 or 20 different estimates can be reached."' 

The second issue, how American Jews relate to Israeli immigrants, is also 
complex. While American Jews have a long and impressive record of assis- 
ting newly arrived landsmen from overseas, their attitude toward the Israe- 
lis who have come to settle in the United States has been characterized by 
a mixture of suspicion, coolness, and even condemnation. Only recently has 
that attitude begun to moderate into something more accepting. It is true 
that every new immigrant wave has posed problems for earlier generations 
of Jews, with the already estabUshed, Americanized Jews typically viewing 
the newcomers as "wretched refuse," uncivilized, uncultured individuals 
who are likely to arouse anti-Semitism. The Israeli immigration, however, 
has presented an entirely novel situation. 

For one thing, unlike nearly all Jews entering the United States before 
or since World War II, the Israelis could in no way be construed as "refu- 
gees," people who needed to be "rescued" or who were unable to return to 
their countries of origin. There were, apparently, no objective reasons why 
Israelis should come to this country or merit support from American Jews. 
To the contrary. American Jews had a large financial and emotional invest- 

Note: This research was supported by the Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies, the 
Whizin Institute, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. Research 
assistance was provided by Debra Hansen and Michal Shachal-Staier. We wish to thank Yoav 
Ben-Horin, Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Yinon Cohen, Sergio DellaPergola, Pini Herman, Lilach Lev 
Ari, Michael Lichter, Eran Razin, Michael Rubner, Nama Sabar, and Roger Waldinger for 
providing materials, information, and suggestions. 

'Personal communication. 



ment in the new Jewish state, which assumed almost sacred status as both 
a refuge for persecuted Jews and the fulfillment of the centuries-old Zionist 
dream of return to the biblical homeland. While most American Jews chose 
not to participate personally in the "ingathering of the exiles," they saw 
themselves playing a vital role by contributing money and insuring political 
support. The complementary role of Israelis, in this view, was to inhabit and 
develop the land and defend it. Thus, the very act of leaving the Jewish state 
was seen as abandonment and betrayal of both the Zionist dream and the 
unspoken compact between American and Israeli Jews. 

Israel, too, has always viewed emigrants negatively. People who leave the 
country are commonly referred to as "yordim " — a stigmatizing Hebrew 
term meaning those who "descend" from the "higher" place of Israel to the 
Diaspora, as opposed to immigrants, or "olim ," who "ascend" from the 
Diaspora to Israel. During the 1970s, Israeli politicians were especially 
vitriolic on this issue. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin calling Israeli emi- 
grants "the fallen among the weaklings," others referring to them as "moral 
lepers" and "the dregs of the earth."^ 

Faced, thus, with a Jewish immigrant population that did not fit into the 
"refugee" category and about which it had considerable ambivalence, and 
bolstered by the Israeli government's hostility, the organized American 
Jewish community's reaction was "part denial and part outrage,"^ leading 
to a communal policy that effectively ruled out official contact with Israeh 
migrants. (Although the Soviet Jewish immigration of recent decades also 
prompted objections from Israel and its supporters, who believed all Soviet 
Jews should go to Israel, Soviet Jews were seen as unequivocably meriting 
a warm welcome and maximum support.) 

Most of the literature on Israeli immigrants asserts that members of the 
group themselves accepted the negative "yored" stereotype, choosing to 
depict themselves as temporary sojourners, students, tourists, "anything but 
Jewish settlers seeking to build new lives for themselves and their families 
in the United States."" As a result, they remained marginal both to Israel 
and to the American Jewish community, having little contact with Jewish 
institutions, and relatively little is known about them. As two researchers 

^Paul Ritterband, "Israelis in New York," Contemporary Jewry 7, 1986, pp. 1 13 - 26; Shaul 
Kimhi, "Perceived Change of Self-Concept, Values, Well-Being and Intention to Return 
Among Kibbutz People Who Migrated from Israel to America," Ph.D. diss.. Pacific Graduate 
School of Psychology, 1990. 

'Steven M. Cohen, "Israeli Emigres and the New York Federation: A Case Study in 
Ambivalent Policymaking for 'Jewish Communal Deviants,' " Contemporary Jewry 1, 1986, 
pp. 155-65. 

•■Sherry Rosen, The Israeli Corner of the American Jewish Community (American Jewish 
Committee, New York, 1993). 


put it, "If Jews have been the proverbial marginal people, Israeli emigrants 
are the marginal Jews."' 

The official Israeli view of yordim began to change in the mid-1980s to 
a more constructive position of both encouraging "re-aliyah" (return to 
Israel) and simply establishing good relations with American Israelis. In a 
1991 interview Yitzhak Rabin recanted his earlier statement: "The Israelis 
living abroad are an integral part of the Jewish community and there is no 
point talking about ostracism.'" The change in Israel's attitude in turn 
opened the way for federations, Jewish community centers, and other orga- 
nizations in this country to reach out to Israeli families — albeit still with- 
out official approval from national headquarters — "attempting to treat 
these Israelis and their families as members, or at least 'associate members,' 
of the American Jewish community with a shared stake in its future.'" 

By the mid-1990s, several demographic trends were in evidence: a contin- 
uing stream of IsraeH immigrants to this country, a rise in the number of 
Israelis returning to Israel to live, and the emergence of a new category of 
"transnational," i.e., individuals with footholds in both the United States 
and Israel. In the social/psychological sphere, Israeli emigres showed evi- 
dence of growing self-acceptance along with signs of willingness to identify 
with American Jewish communal life. 

This article presents a profile of Israelis in the United States based on a 
wide range of demographic and sociological studies, focusing on three 
related topics. The first is the demographics of the migrant population — 
its size and composition in terms of age, family structure, occupational and 
ethnic characteristics, and the like; the second is the motivation of those 
who choose to leave Israel. The third area concerns the adaptation of 
Israelis to American life. Are they becoming a viable American-Jewish 
subgroup, or do they remain marginal men and women who see their 
presence here only as a temporary sojourn? 

Sources of Data 

The primary quantitative data used in this article come from our own 
analyses of three sources: (1) The Council of Jewish Federations 1990 
National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS); (2) the 1991 New York Jewish 

'Drora Kass and Seymour Martin Lipset, "Jewish Immigration to the United States from 
1967 to the Present: IsraeHs and Others," in Understanding American Jewry, ed. Marshall 
Sklare (New Brunswick, N.J., 1982), p. 289. 

'Cited in Matti Golan, fVitfi Friends Like You: What Israelis Really Think About American 
Jem (New York, 1992). 

'Rosen, The Israeli Corner, p. 3. 


Population Study conducted by New York UJA-Federation (N.Y. Study); 
and (3) special tabulations run from the 1990 U.S. Census, using the 5-per- 
cent Public Use Microsample ("PUMS") files for New York and Los An- 
geles (New York City and Los Angeles County).' 

Each of these sources has advantages and limitations. The NJPS, a na- 
tional survey, has a relatively small sample of Israelis; the N.Y. Study a 
significantly larger one. Both NJPS and the N.Y. Study asked only place 
of birth, not country of last residence, thus excluding Israelis born outside 
the State of Israel. (Methods for compensating for this are discussed below.) 
However, these studies ask several questions regarding Jewish behavior and 

The U.S. Census is rich in a variety of information, but is not very well 
suited to the accurate counting of small, tightly cloistered, recent migrant 
populations, like Israelis. In the words of demographer David Heer: "When 
American population statistics are inadequate, they will normally be found 
to be so in terms of underenumeration and underestimation of minority 
groups, defined in terms of race or national origin and concentrated in 
specific neighborhoods."'" The census also includes the responses of non- 
Jewish Israelis (e.g., Armenians and Palestinians) along with Israeli Jews. 
(How this is dealt with is discussed below.) Further, while the census 
provides data on economic status, it does not ask about religion and thus 
offers no information about Jewish behavior. 

We also rely on the small number of published studies of Israelis that 
have been carried out, which are useful but suffer from various shortcom- 
ings." Surveys with large samples of Israelis are built on problematic sample 
designs,'^ while surveys that employ reliable probability samples include 

'The census files with the best data on Israehs are available only for Standard Metropolitan 
Statistical Areas, "SMSAs." We chose New York and Los Angeles because these two cities 
have the largest populations of Israelis and also can be used to compare Israelis on the West 
and East coasts. 

'See Barry Kosmin et al.. Highlights of the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey 
(Council of Jewish Federations, New York, 1991) and Bethamie Horowitz, The 1991 New 
York Jewish Population Study (UJA-Federation, New York, 1993). 

'"Heer, David M., Readings on Population (Englewood CliflFs, N.J., 1968), p. 174. 

"Zvi Sobel, Migrants from the Promised Land (New Brunswick, N.J., 1986); Moshe Sho- 
keid. Children of Circumstances: Israeli Immigrants in New York (Ithaca, N.Y., 1988); Dov 
Elizur, "Israelis in the U.S.," AJYB 1980, vol. 80, pp. 53 - 67; Pini Herman, "Jewish-Israeli 
Migration to the United States Since 1948," paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the 
Association of Israel Studies, New York, June 7, 1988; Ritterband, "Israelis in New York"; 
David Mittelberg and Zvi Sobel, "Commitment, Ethnicity and Class Factors in Emigration 
of Kibbutz and Non-Kibbutz Population from Israel," International Migration Review 24, no. 
4, pp.768 - 82. 

"Snowball samples, for example, which rely on obtaining additional respondents through 
referrals from persons already contacted; and convenience samples, which fill a numerical 


only a small number of Israelis. For example, the few studies devoted 
exclusively to the study of Israelis that have applied some form of random 
sampling techniques identified Israelis through records of persons who had 
become U.S. citizens." Because migrants from any nation who become U.S. 
citizens tend to be among the most established members of their group, 
these studies do not represent the totality of their population in the United 
States. In addition, because people tend to change residences with some 
frequency (causing address records to become rapidly outdated), respon- 
dents to these surveys were selected from those who had become citizens 
in the years immediately prior to data collection — thus excluding long- 
term residents. 

A study sample drawn exclusively from the boroughs of Brooklyn and 
Queens in New York — areas of heavy Israeli settlement but with a lower 
socioeconomic standing than other parts of metropolitan New York (with 
the exception of the Bronx) — excludes Israelis who live in more affluent 
neighborhoods.'" Thus, these sampling frames effectively exclude large frac- 
tions of the marginal (noncitizens) and the most successful (long-natural- 
ized Israelis and residents of affluent communities). 

Most studies of Israelis in the United States have been conducted in New 
York City," a few in Los Angeles '* and Chicago." New York and Los 

quota of the needed type of respondent. Consequently, both of these sampHng techniques are 
hkely to include a selection bias. 

"Pini Herman and David LaFontaine, "In Our Footsteps: Israeli Migration to the U.S. and 
Los Angeles," MSW thesis, Hebrew Union College, 1983; Mira Rosenthal, "Assimilation of 
Israeli Immigrants," Ph.D. diss., Fordham U., 1989. 

"Rosenthal, "Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants." 

" Shokeid, Children of Circumstances; Elizur, "Israelis in the U.S."; Nira H. Lipner, "The 
Subjective Experience of Israeli Immigrant Women: An Interpretive Approach," Ph.D. diss., 
George Washington U., 1987; Ritterband, "Israelis in New York"; David Mittelberg and Mary 
C. Waters, "The Process of Ethnogenesis Among Haitian and Israeli Immigrants in the United 
States," Ethnic and Racial Studies 15, no. 3, 1992, pp. 412 - 35; Rosenthal, "Assimilation of 
Israeli Immigrants." 

"Steven Gold, "Israelis in Los Angeles" (Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies, Los 
Angeles, 1992); idem, "Patterns of Economic Cooperation Among Israeli Immigrants in Los 
Angeles," International Migration Review 28, no. 105, 1994, pp. 114-35; idem, "Israeli 
Immigrants in the U.S.: The Question of Community," Qualitative Sociology 17, no. 4, 1994, 
pp. 325 - 63; Naama Sabar, "The Wayward Children of the Kibbutz — A Sad Awakening," 
Proceedings of Qualitative Research in Education (College of Education, U. of Georgia, 
Athens, 1989); Herman, "Jewish-Israeli Migration"; Herman and LaFontaine, "In Our Foot- 
steps"; Michal Shachal-Staier, "Israelis in Los Angeles: Interrelations and Relations with the 
American Jewish Community," MBA thesis, U. of Judaism, Los Angeles, 1993. 

"Natan Uriely, "Israeli Immigrants in Chicago: Variations of Ethnic Attachment Across 
Status Groups and Generations," Ph.D. diss., U. of Illinois, Chicago, 1993; idem, "Rhetorical 
Ethnicity of Permanent Sojourners: The Case of Israeli Immigrants in the Chicago Area," 
International Sociology 9, no. 4, 1994, pp. 431 -45; idem, "Patterns of Identification and 


Angeles account for roughly half of Israelis in the United States. The other 
half are dispersed throughout the United States, living in mid-sized and 
smaller Jewish communities. It may be that Israelis who gravitate to smaller 
communities or those furthest from the largest Jewish centers are different, 
that they have weaker ties to Israel and Jewishness than those in the large 
cities, and thus that studies including them would yield different findings. 

Finally, much existing research on Israelis in the United States was 
carried out during the 1970s or early 1980s when (and often because) the 
relationship between both the Israeli government and the American Jewish 
community and Israeli emigres was more hostile than currently. Such stud- 
ies tend to overemphasize the role of conflict between Israelis and American 
Jews and slight the extent of communal organization and cooperation that 
has developed over the last decade. 

The profile we provide also relies on qualitative data, much of it from 
work conducted in Los Angeles by Steven Gold emphasizing ethnic solidar- 
ity and adaptation strategies. It draws upon 94 in-depth interviews with 
Israeli immigrants and others knowledgeable about the Israeli community; 
participant observation data gathered at a variety of Israeli community 
activities; and a convenience-sample-based survey of Israeli immigrants 
collected during 1991-92." Natan Uriely and Moshe Shokeid have also 
conducted field studies of Israeli emigrants in the United States; Zvi Sobel 
studied departing Israelis in Israel." 

All told, the present study seeks to cast a wide net, encompassing and 
analyzing as broad an array of available data as possible. 


In 1981, Jewish Agency executive director Shmuel Lahis issued a report 
citing up to 500,000 Israeli emigrants in the United States, based on his own 
investigations.^" A major study of Jewish immigration reported 300,000 
Israelis in the United States in 1979, and revised this estimate upward to 
350,000 Israelis by 1981.^' A few years later the Jewish Federation Council 
of Los Angeles's Commission on Israelis put the number of Israelis in that 

Integration with Jewish Americans Among Israeh Immigrants in Chicago: Variations Across 
Status and Generation," Contemporary Jewry 16, 1995, pp. 27-49. 

|*N = 96. Gold, "Israelis in Los Angeles." 

"Uriely, "Rhetorical Ethnicity of Permanent Sojourners"; idem, "Patterns of Identification 
and Integration"; Shokeid, Children of Circumstances; Sobel, Migrants from the Promised 

"Shmuel Lahis, "The Lahis Report" (Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, 1981), reprinted in Yisrael 
Shelanu, Feb. 1, 1981. 

^'Kass and Lipset, "Jewish Immigration," pp. 272 - 94. 


city in the range of 80,000 to 100,000." During the 1980s, common wisdom 
had it that New York had well in excess of 100,000 Israeli residents. 

As the current debate about the impact of immigration on the larger 
American society demonstrates, it is virtually impossible to come up with 
an accurate and specific enumeration of any foreign -bom population." 
Although paucity of data — including the noted deficiencies of the census 
— presents problems for the study of all immigrants, especially for the 
smaller groups, in the case of Israelis there is also a problem of definition. 
As noted earlier, different definitions of "Who is an Israeli?" — depending 
on the availability of data sources — will yield quite different estimates. For 
Jewish purposes, for example, a count of Israelis should distinguish between 
Jews and non-Jews, since many Israeli Arabs (Christians and Muslims) as 
well as Armenians have come to this country over the years. But even 
definitions limited to Jews may be more or less inclusive, for example: 
Israeli-bom Israelis ("sabras," as the native-born are dubbed) who come 
here as immigrants, Israeli-born Israelis who come here as students or as 
professionals for unspecified periods of time; children born in Israel who 
come here at a young age; individuals born in Europe or elsewhere who 
lived for a year or two in Israel; individuals born in Europe or elsewhere 
who lived for many years in Israel; American-born individuals who lived 
in Israel for a year or more; Americans married to Israelis; American-born 
children of Israelis, and so on. Estimates based on any of these definitions 
could be considered legitimate, based on the researcher's assumptions and 

The approach of the present authors will be to present several estimates 
derived from analyses of different data sources. These are the entrance and 
exit data collected by Israeli border control; entrance and exit data collected 
by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); the U.S. Census; 
and demographic studies of Jewish communities in the United States, in 
particular the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey and the 1991 New 
York Jewish Population Study. The estimates presented here provide what 
can be considered a plausible range for the number of Israelis in the United 

Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (Border Control Data) 

The Israeli Border Police record the exits and entrances of Israeli resi- 
dents. However, since there is no legal definition of a "yored," it is impossi- 

"Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Council on Jewish Life, Report of 
Commission on Israelis, June 1983, p. 2. 

"Michael E. Fix and Jeffrey S. Passel, Immigration and Immigrants: Setting the Record 
Straight (Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., 1994). 


ble to know who has left permanently and who is traveling as a tourist, a 
student, or on business. The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics analyzed the 
border control data and computed a "gross balance" of 581,000 Israelis 
living abroad during the period 1948- 1992." In other words, there were 
581,000 more exits from Israel than re-entries on the part of Israeli residents 
(i.e., persons living in Israel whether native-bom or born elsewhere). About 
half of the persons leaving Israel named the United States as their destina- 
tion. Assuming that they stayed in the United States, and that no other 
Israelis came to the United States via other countries, the "gross balance" 
of Israelis residing in the United States would be 290,500. 

But not all "Israelis" are Jews. As Israeli sociologist Yinon Cohen has 
observed, there are significant economic pressures inducing Israeli Arabs to 
emigrate to the United States." How many of the emigrants to the United 
States from Israel were Jews and how many were Arabs, Armenians, or 
other non-Jews? Zvi Eisenbach, working from Israeli data, has calculated 
that about 74 percent of American Israelis are Jews." Thus, the gross 
balance of Israeli Jews in the United States over the period 1948 - 1992 is 
adjusted down to 216,000. 

From this number the present authors subtracted 25,000 persons who 
would have died, leaving 191,000. Since the gross balance subtracts re- 
entrances to Israel from exits out of Israel, the authors subtracted 18,400 
more persons who may be assumed to have returned to Israel in 1993 (the 
number that re-entered Israel in 1992), for an adjusted gross balance of 
172,848 Jewish Israelis living in the United States. 

U.S. Immigration 

As noted, the Israeli exit/entrance data do not distinguish between trav- 
elers abroad and actual emigrants. On the other side of the Atlantic, the 
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) does make this distinc- 
tion. Israelis arrive in this country by ship or plane, and their arrivals are 
recorded by one or more official documents. Israelis who arrive on tempo- 
rary visas are recorded separately from Israelis who apply for some sort of 
immigrant status. The "Application for Immigration Visa" is handled in 
Israel by the Consular Service of the State Department. After the arrival 
of the immigrant in the United States, the INS processes the "Immigrant 

""Indicators of the Number of Israeli Residents Abroad, 1992," Supplement to the Monthly 
Bulletin of Statistics, Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, no. 6, 1994. 

"Yinon Cohen, "Self-Selection and Economic Progress of Immigrants: Arab and Jewish 
Immigrants from Israel and the Territories in the U.S.," Israel Studies, forthcoming, 1996. 

"Zvi Eisenbach, "Jewish Emigrants from Israel in the United States," in Papers in Jewish 
Demography 1985, ed. U.O. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola (Jerusalem, 1989). 


Visa and Alien Registration" form. The INS also processes and documents 
permanent residence through the "Memorandum of Creation of Record of 
Lawful Permanent Residence" form. These are all applications for some 
kind of permanent residence status. Israelis can also apply for citizenship 
using the "Application to File Petition for Naturahzation." Some Israelis 
who arrive as tourists and students overstay their visas and remain as 
"illegal immigrants." Conversely, some proportion of Israelis who have 
applied for permanent residency return to Israel. 

Researcher Pini Herman, an expert on INS data, has estimated 93,000 
Israelis in the United States." He started with a figure of 140,500 Israelis 
who appUed for immigrant status between 1948 and 1990. From this num- 
ber he subtracted the estimated number of returnees to Israel, which he 
derived from two longitudinal studies of Israeli immigrants. In one study 
the return rate was 47 percent, and in the other it was 33 percent (which 
Herman considers too low). From this he derived a range of between 74,465 
and 94,135 Israelis who remained in the United States after applying for 
immigrant status. Drawing upon other research on illegal immigration to 
the United States, Herman estimated 23,000 Israeh "illegals" who over- 
stayed their visas for a resulting estimate of between 97,465 and 117,135 
Israelis. Herman considers this an upper limit because it does not adjust 
downward for mortality. 

Both the INS data and the Israeh border control data share a common 
source of uncertainty: how many Israelis returned to Israel after a sojourn 
in the United States? This uncertainty in the quantitative data is paralleled 
by a comparable uncertainty in the quaUtative research. Many Israelis 
interviewed were uncertain about whether they wanted to live in the United 
States permanently, and if not, about how long they would remain before 
returning to Israel. 

U.S. Census 

The U.S. Census provides data on place of birth. In 1980 there were 
67,000 Israeli-bom persons enumerated who had Uved in the United States 
for six months or more.^' In the 1990 census this number had increased by 
almost 34 percent to 90,000.^' The 90,000 figure must first be adjusted down 

"Pini Herman, "A Technique for Estimating a Small Immigrant Population in Small Areas: 
The Case of Jewish Israelis in the United States," in Studies in Applied Demography , ed. K. 
Vaninadha Rao and Jerry W. Wicks (Population and Society Research Center, Bowling Green, 
Ohio, 1994), pp. 81-99. Herman was the first to examine data from the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service on Israelis. 

"Eisenbach, "Jewish Emigrants from Israel." 

"U.S. Census, Special Tabulations, Foreign Born Population By Place of Birth, downloaded 
by Pini Herman from the U.S. Census "GOPHER" site on the Internet. 


to exclude non- Jewish Israelis and then upward again to include an estimate 
of non-native-bom Israelis. The census does have a question on "ancestry," 
in which non-sabras can identify themselves as Israelis and Arabs can 
identify as "Palestinians." However, these data were not available nation- 
ally,^" so other sources were used for these estimates. 

Using data which differentiate between Jews and Arabs leaving the coun- 
try, Eisenbach found that the proportion of non-Jews in the Israeli popula- 
tion abroad was highest in the 1950s and 1960s, when Arabs who left 
Palestine in 1948 made their way to the United States" (many settling, for 
example, in "metro" Detroit). Overall, he estimated that between 69 per- 
cent and 73 percent of the Israeli-born population in the 1980 census were 
Jews. In his analysis of the 1980 U.S. Census data, Eisenbach also calculated 
the proportion of non-native-born Israeli Jews for each period of immigra- 
tion up through 1980. The present authors applied his procedures to the 
1990 census for each period of immigration through 1990 and arrived at an 
estimate of 193,000 Jewish Israelis living in the United States as of 1990. 

NJPS and N. Y. Study 

The CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey included a question on 
place of birth. Phillips and Herman analyzed this data set to come up with 
an estimate of close to 90,000 Israeli-born persons — almost identical to the 
number in the 1990 census." To estimate the number of non-native-bom 
Israelis, they used the question on time spent in Israel. They assumed that 
all North African-, Middle Eastern-, and European-born Jews who spent 
a year or more in Israel were emigres, and came up with an additional 3,500 
Israelis. However, the question was asked only of respondents, and thus 
spouses or other household members who may have lived in Israel were not 
counted. Assuming that the estimate of non-native Israelis was off by half, 
the Herman-Phillips estimate for the total number of Israelis would be 

For the present article Phillips did a similar analysis using the 1991 New 
York Jewish Population Study, which had a larger overall sample than the 
NJPS and, because Israelis are concentrated in New York, a larger absolute 
number of Israeli interviews to work with. The N.Y. Study did not have a 
question on time spent in Israel, so a different technique had to be employed 

"They were used to identify Israelis in the analysis of the New York and Los Angeles 
"PUMS" files. 

"Eisenbach, "Jewish Emigrants from Israel." 

"Pini Herman and Bruce Phillips, "Israeli Jewish Population and Its Percentage of the 
American Jewish Population in the United States," paper presented to the Population Com- 
mission of the International Geographic Union, Los Angeles, Apr. 6, 1990. 


to estimate the number of non-native-born Israelis. Each household with an 
Israeli-born person was examined individually. A foreign-born person mar- 
ried to a sabra who had married that person prior to moving to the United 
States was counted as an Israeli. This procedure produces an estimated 
27,000 Israeli Jews living in the greater New York Jewish community — 
22,000 Israeli-bom persons, plus 5,000 non-native-born Israelis and chil- 

An estimate of the total number of Israelis in the United States can be 
arrived at from the N.Y. figures, as follows: Start with a figure of 30,000 
in New York (knowing that the 27,000 figure is a conservative one); add 
15,000 for Los Angeles (based on Herman and Phillips estimate that there 
are twice as many Israelis in New York as in Los Angeles"; double that 
figure, since New York and Los Angeles account for half of the Israelis in 
the United States, to arrive at a national estimate of 90,000. 

Although the estimates cited above use divergent data sources and em- 
ploy different methods of calculation, they are all based on a common 
strategy. Each estimate begins with a known number from a primary data 
source that is relevant to, but not a direct or comprehensive count of, the 
Israelis in the United States. In each case, the source is missing some vital 
information. For example, estimates based on the "gross balance" of exits 
and entrances from and to Israel include both Jews and non-Jews and don't 
distinguish between emigrants and temporary travelers; estimates using the 
U.S. Census have only the number of native-born Israelis; and so forth. 
Each procedure then derives an estimate of the total number of Israelis in 
the United States by filling in the missing information from a separate and 
unrelated secondary data source. 

There are two sources of divergence in the estimates. The first is the lack 
of comparability among the primary data sources (e.g., exits and entrances 
enumerated in Israel versus persons listing Israel as their place of birth in 
the U.S. Census). The second is the accuracy of the secondary data sources 
(e.g., the ratio of native-born Israelis to non-native-born Israelis), all of 
which have limitations. 

The primary and secondary data sources for each estimation procedure 
are summarized in table 1. Given the number of steps where error is 
inevitably introduced, it is remarkable that the estimates fall into a rela- 
tively compact range of between 100,000 and 200,000 Israelis in the United 
States. Even the largest estimate is considerably smaller than the figures 
once widely publicized and accepted. 

"P. Herman and B. Phillips, paper presented to meeting of the Population Commission of 
the International Geographical Union, Los Angeles, Aug. 6, 1992. 




Adjustments Made on 

No. of 


the Basis of 




Secondary Data Source 

Gold & Phillips 


NY Study 

(1) Distribution of 
Israelis nationally 

Phillips & Herman 


NJPS, 1990 

(1) % Sabra 


97,465 - 


(1) % Jewish 


(2) % who returned to 

(3) Estimated number 
of illegal 

Gold & Phillips 


Israel Central 

(1) Proportion in 

Bureau of 

United States 


(2) Proportion Jewish 


(3) Adjustment for 

Police Data) 

(4) % who will return 
to Israel 

Gold & Phillips 


US Census 1990 

(1) % Jewish 

(2) % Sabra 


Analyzing data from the NJPS, Phillips and Herman were able to break 
down the Israeli-American population by generation status in Israel and to 
identify American-born children of Israeli parents. They estimate that there 
are 12,000 Israeli-born children in the United States as compared with over 
3 1 ,000 American-born children of at least one Israeli parent. The former 
are presumably included in the figures cited above. Should the latter be 
counted as Israelis? One argument for counting them is that they are being 
raised in an Israel-derived household, are exposed to Israeli influences, have 
Israeli relatives, and are often thought of by their parents as "Israeli." The 
data analyzed by Phillips and Herman suggest that this is not entirely the 


case, however, since two out of three American-born children of Israelis 
have one American-born parent. 

Patterns of Migration 

The major data sources all show a steady acceleration of Israeli immigra- 
tion, particularly after 1970. According to census data from New York and 
Los Angeles, one-third of Israelis came since 1985, and roughly two-thirds 
since 1975. Of the two communities, Los Angeles Israelis are more recent 
arrivals. (See table 2.) The growth of Israeli immigration is also evident in 
the INS data on arrivals from Israel and applications for citizenship. A 
review of 26 years of the flow of legal migration from Israel to the United 
States found that number slowly increasing from about 1,000 per year in 
1948 to almost 6,000 a year by 1979." 

It is much harder to measure the rate of return of Israelis to Israel, 
because there is considerable movement back and forth between the two 
countries and a growing class of "transnationals," sometimes referred to as 
"birds of passage," individuals who are citizens or legal residents of both 
countries and whose business or work has them living in both countries for 
longer and shorter periods of time. 

Israeli government sources report that the number of Israelis returning 
home has increased substantially since 1992 — the year that marked the 
election of the peace-oriented Labor Party in Israel and a major economic 
recession in the United States — aided undoubtedly by an intensified official 

"Herman, "A Technique for Estimating," pp. 90-91. 



Los Angeles 

New York 

1985 - 90 



1980 - 84 



1975 - 79 



1970 - 74 



1965 - 69 



1960 - 64 






Pre- 19 50 



Source: 1990 Census. 


outreach policy toward expatriates. During 1985 - 1991 the annual average 
number of returnees was 5,500; during 1992- 1994, 10,500 returnees; and 
14,000 returned in 1993 and in 1994." A booming economy in Israel has 
clearly encouraged this increased return migration. 

Motives for Migration 

When asked why they came to the United States, most Israelis offer one 
of three overlapping responses: economic opportunities (including educa- 
tion), family factors, and a need for broader horizons." A fairly large 
number, generally women and children, came to accompany their husbands 
and fathers who sought economic betterment and educational opportunity. 
Another family-based reason for migration was for unification with rela- 
tives already living in the States. Several respondents had links to America 
prior to their emigration, which initially made them consider moving and, 
once they did, facilitated the adjustment process. Among these were Israelis 
married to Americans. 

Israelis who were self-employed prior to migration and retain their entre- 
preneurial pursuits here assert that the United States is a better location for 
capitalistic endeavors than Israel, because there are fewer regulations and 
controls and lower taxes." 

While most Israelis enter the United States with specific goals of educa- 
tion, economic and career advancement, or family unification, some arrive 
as part of a "secular pilgrimage" of world travel that is a common rite of 
passage among Israelis following their military service." This pattern has 
been less commonly observed in Midwestern locations like Detroit and 
Chicago than in coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles, because the 
former are unlikely stopping points for international travelers. Instead, 
migrants come to these "backwaters" for specific reasons: to take a job, 
attend school, or join friends or relatives." 

Israelis interviewed in Los Angeles and New York described how they 
had come to the United States as part of their travels, picked up a job to 
earn some cash and then had "gotten stuck" — because of economic oppor- 

""Going Home," supplement to Yisrael Shelanu , 1995 (Hebrew). Produced in cooperation 
with the Office of Returning Residents, Israel Ministry of Absorption. 

"Rosen, The Israeli Corner; Sobel, Migrants from the Promised Land; Herman, "Jewish- 
Israeli Migration to the United States Since 1948." 

" Uriely, "Rhetorical Ethnicity of Permanent Sojourners"; Steven Gold, "Patterns of Eco- 
nomic Cooperation Among Israeli Immigrants in Los Angeles," International Migration 
Review 28, no. 105, 1994, pp. 114-35. 

"Ilan Ben-Ami, "Schlepers and Car Washers: Young Israelis in the New York Labor 
Market," Migration World 20, no. 1, 1992, p. 22. 

"Uriely, "Rhetorical Ethnicity of Permanent Sojourners." 


tunities, relationships, or other factors — for a period longer than they had 
initially planned."" Isaac described this: 

Israel is a country that is not easy to live in. Everybody finishes the army after 
three or four years. After the army, you understand life diflferently. So you are 
ready to try something else. I came to Los Angeles, and then I met my wife and 
that's how I started. I got into the clothing business and I stayed. We had kids. 
Since then, I'm in clothing. I haven't done anything but clothing.*' 

In Los Angeles, a number of Israelis commented that their travels to 
Latin America prior to arrival in the United States had allowed them to 
become competent enough in Spanish to communicate easily with Latino 
workers." This was a definite asset and an inducement to stay on, since 
many found work in labor-intensive industries such as garments or con- 
struction, which have a predominantly Spanish-speaking labor force.*' 

Finally, like various groups in both previous and current migrant flows, 
Israelis are involved in chain migration. The presence of established co- 
ethnics in the host society is an attraction as well as a valuable resource for 
later migrants.** Israelis also ease their resettlement in the United States by 
residing in the Jewish neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn in New York 
City, and Beverly-Fairfax, West Hollywood, Pico-Robertson, and the San 
Fernando Valley in Los Angeles; North Miami Beach, Florida; Troy and 
Farmington Hills, Michigan, and Devon and Skokie in the Chicago area.*' 


An additional explanation for Israeli emigration is the desire to get away 
from the confines of the Jewish state. Because direct criticism of the Jewish 
state is regarded by those living beyond its borders as disloyal, it is voiced 
relatively infrequently by emigres. However, in explaining why they left 
Israel, certain migrants describe feelings of disillusionment or a general 
attitude of not being able fit into the social order. According to an Israeli 
government estimate, about 5 percent of all permanent emigrants do so for 
ideological reasons.*' 

"Ben-Ami, "Schlepers and Car Washers"; Gold, "Israelis In Los Angeles." 

"Quoted extracts are from interviews conducted by Steve Gold. 

''One building contractor placed ads in the Spanish-language press to hire helpers. 

"Gold, "Patterns of Economic Cooperation." 

"Michael J. Piore, Birds of Passage (New York, 1979); George J. Borjas, Friends or Stran- 
gers (New York, 1990); Ivan Light and Edna Bonacich, Immigrant Entrepreneurs (Berkeley, 
1988); Douglas S. Massey, Rafael Alarcon, Jorge Durand, and Humberto Gonzalez, Return 
toAztlan (Berkeley, 1987). 

"Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Claudia Der-Martirosian, and Georges Sabagh, "Middle Easterners: 
A New Kind of Immigrant" (Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, UCLA, 1995), mimeo; 
Herman and LaFontaine, "In Our Footsteps"; Rosen, The Israeli Corner. 

""Going Home." 


Several respondents asserted that they left Israel in order to avoid the 
constant threat of war and violence. This motive was mentioned in terms 
of both the Yom Kippur War and the invasion of Lebanon, as well as by 
the descendants of Holocaust survivors. A Los Angeles-based Israeli psy- 
chotherapist describes many of her co-national patients as war refugees; 

Those who come to my office now are the result of the first Lebanon war. This 
is a wounded group. For them, the idealism, the Zionist goals are gone. Now they 
are saying "I want to make money. I need time out, [away from] the pressure 
cooker [atmosphere]. How many more times am I going to go to war? I am sick 
and tired of going to the army, the reserves and everything." 

Another reason for leaving is perceived ethnic discrimination. As a na- 
tion of immigrants, Israel is ethnically diverse. A significant distinction 
exists between the higher-status Ashkenazic (European-origin) group and 
the lower-status Oriental and Sephardic Jews, whose origins are North 
Africa and the Middle East."' Most Israelis assert that ethnic discrimination 
against Sephardic and Oriental Jews has been reduced significantly since the 
1950s; however, "[t]he ethnic factor does play a role of some importance 
in some departees' decision to move.""' A Yemeni-origin Israeli woman 
with a degree in education explains her decision to exit: 

I remember one time my brother came to my mom and he asked her, "What is 
Ashkenazy?" And "What is Temany?" Another time we went to visit my aunt 
in Tel Aviv. And there the kids were telling us, "Black, black, you guys are black. 
Go from here, go from here." 

I was trapped between the two worlds and I really had a rough time. Socially it 
was terrible for me. I did not find myself. I think that in a way I was afraid to 
face [Israeli] society. I was afraid not to fit in. Even though I had the knowledge 
and the education, I was afraid of not being accepted. ... I didn't have the support 
system around me to fit me in. . . . discrimination was part of it. I just did not 
see myself teaching in Israel. I just thought that America would be better. I did 
not know too much about it. I just decided to come. 

And an Oriental Jew in Chicago describes his motivation for leaving: 

I am of Kurdish origin, and in Israel, the Polish elite treated us as trash. They 
acted as if they were better than us. Being Sephardic was associated with being 
primitive or being Chah-Chah [riff-raflp. When I came to Chicago, I left all of this 
behind. Nobody treated me as an inferior Sephardic. Here I see Polish people who 
are lower than me. I see a different reality, and it makes me angry about what 
I went through in Israel."' 

Finally, some emigres maintain that they simply felt uncomfortable 
within the Israeli environment, that the nation is too small, conformist, 

"'Uriely, "Patterns of Identification"; Sammy Smooha, Israel: Pluralism and Conflict 
(Berkeley, 1978); U. O. Schmelz, Sergio DellaPergoIa, and Uri Avner, "Ethnic Differences 
Among Israeii Jews," AJYB 1990, voi. 90, pp. 80-111. 

"Sobel, Migrants from the Promised Land, p. 217. 

"Uriely, "Patterns of Identification," p. 35. 


competitive, and socially demanding for their liking. In his book on Israeli 
emigration, Zvi Sobel asserts: "Repeatedly I was struck by the extent and 
depth of frustration expressed by a wide range of individuals with respect 
to this factor of limited opportunity that is tied to a natural and unassailable 
limitation of smallness — physical and demographic."'" 

Israeli Emigration in World Perspective 

On the level of the individual, a decision to leave Israel can be explained 
in terms of personal situations and choices. On the societal level, emigration 
can be understood not merely as the sum of individual decisions but as part 
of a larger "world system" perspective that connects the experience of 
Israelis with the broad flows of contemporary international migration. In 
this view, isolated individuals moving from one place to another are part 
of a large-scale interconnected process wherein shifting social, economic, 
and demographic realities yield fundamental changes in social and eco- 
nomic relationships both between and within nations. Especially in recent 
years, the expansion of international links in capital, technology, transpor- 
tation, and communication has accelerated the cross-national movement of 
information, finance, goods — and migrants." 

For a number of macrosociological reasons, Israelis can be considered 
likely candidates for international migration. First, because they are rela- 
tively recent arrivals to the Jewish state, their numbers probably contain 
many individuals with a propensity to move on." Second, as Jews, many 
Israelis have access to a long tradition as middlemen, entrepreneurs, and 
the like — skills that can be plied in various national settings. Third, many 
have direct connections to the United States — through relatives, educa- 
tion, the military, and work. These provide both information about oppor- 
tunities and assistance in resettlement. Finally, the State of Israel has many 
social, economic, cultural, and political links with the United States which 
contribute to a sense of familiarity and and make integration relatively 

Israeli demographer Sergio DellaPergola has shown that the post- World 
War II migration of Jews has generally followed a pattern of movement 
from less developed areas of the world (the periphery) to more economically 
central, advanced regions, demonstrating that economic improvement 

'"Sobel, p. 77. 

"Douglas S. Massey, Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino, and 
J. Edward Taylor, "Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal," Population 
and Development Review 19, no. 3, pp. 431 - 66. 

"Herman and Phillips, analyzing data from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, 
found that the majority of the Israeli-born Jewish population (69 percent) were themselves the 
children of immigrants to Israel. 


ranks with nationalism as a major force behind Jewish migration. Since, in 
this analysis, the United States and other Western nations are more devel- 
oped economically than Israel, emigration of Jews from Israel to the United 
States is consistent with the general trend in Jewish migration." DellaPer- 
gola further suggests that the pattern of Israeli emigration does not appear 
"to reflect any major crisis that might have occurred" but is characterized 
"by frequent and short-term ups and downs, broadly comparable to those 
of the typical business cycle."'" 

Given the incentives for migration, the proportion of immigrants who 
subsequently re-migrate from Israel is not as high as one might expect. It 
is comparatively lower than for countries like the United States, Argentina, 
Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, which also experienced large-scale 
immigration. While the absolute number of Jewish emigrants from Israel 
has tended to increase over the years, the rate of emigration has been 
relatively low and stable, between 3 and 4 per 1,000 inhabitants per year." 


Age, Sex, and Marital Status 

Israelis are a young population. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, 79 
percent of Israelis in New York and 81 percent of Israelis in Los Angeles 
are under age 45. The 1991 New York Jewish Population Study shows an 
almost identical age profile (table 3). Israelis in the New York survey are 
the youngest Jewish nationality group as well: 89.6 percent of Israelis in 
New York are under 50, compared with 75.2 percent of native-bom Jews 
and 50.5 percent of the rest of the Jewish foreign-born population. On both 
coasts, there are more males than females. New York's community is 55 
percent male, while Los Angeles's is 54 percent male. 


Based on 1990 data (N.Y. Study), Israeli households" in New York are 
more likely to consist of married couples than are foreign-born or native- 

"Sergio DellaPergola, "Israel and World Jewish Population: A Core-Periphery Perspec- 
tive," in Population and Social Change in Israel, ed. Calvin Goldscheider (Boulder, Colo., 
1992), pp. 39-63. 

"Sergio DellaPergola, "World Jewish Migration System in Historical Perspective," paper 
delivered at the International Conference on "Human Migration in a Global Framework," U. 
of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 1994. 


"Defined as household headed by an Israeli or with an Israeli spouse. 




































Age Group 

65 + 

Sources: 1990 Census, PUMS; 1991 NY. Jewish Population Study. 
Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. 

bom Jewish households (67 percent for Israelis as compared with 62 per- 
cent of non-Israeli foreign-born households and 52 percent of native-born 
Jewish households). Conversely, only 13 percent of Israeli households are 
single-person households as compared with 28 percent of other foreign-born 
as well as native-bom households. The differences are even more dramatic 
when children are considered. Israeli households are more than twice as 
likely as other foreign-born households or native-born Jewish households 
to consist of a married couple with children under 18 (55 percent versus 23 
percent for both foreign- and native-born). 

Marriages between Israelis and Americans are fairly common. In 1986, 
over a third of all Israelis with immigrant status in the United States were 
married to an American citizen. "One out of four Israelis married the U.S. 
citizen outside the U.S., probably in Israel, and the rest married in the 
U.S."" A survey of naturalized Israelis in Los Angeles found that of the 
80 percent who were married, 35 percent were married to American Jews; 
49 percent were married to other Israelis; 8 percent to European or South 
American Jews; and 8 percent to non-Jews." 

"Herman, "A Technique for Estimating," p. 92. 
"Herman, "Jewish-Israeli Migration," p. 20. 


Ethnic and National Origins 

Different studies have found different proportions of Ashkenazim and 
Sephardim among Israelis in this country. The 1980 New York Jewish 
Population Study reported that 7 percent of Israeli-born immigrants were 
Sephardic/Oriental Jews, while the 1980 census data showed 16 percent." 
In another New York study, 45 percent of respondents reported themselves 
as Ashkenazic, 42 percent as Sephardic/Oriental, and 13 percent as a 
mixture of both.'" In one Los Angeles study, 58 percent of naturalized 
Israelis were of Ashkenazic origin, while 37 percent were Sephardic/Orien- 
tal, and 2 percent were mixed." 

While Israelis of diverse ethnic origins associate with each other in the 
United States, several studies suggest that patterns of social interaction, 
religious participation, economic cooperation, and adjustment to the States 
often take place within ethnic boundaries." (See "Subgroup Relations," 

Education and Mobility 

Israelis in the United States are a relatively well-educated group. Accord- 
ing to the 1990 census, 56 percent of men and 52 percent of women in New 
York and 56 percent of men and 62 percent of women in Los Angeles have 
at least some college, while fewer than 20 percent in either city are not 
high-school graduates. Moreover, Israeli women are as educated as Israeli 
men. The Israelis in the N.Y. Study have a higher educational attainment 
profile than those in the New York census file: 71 percent of Israeli men 
in the N.Y. Study had one or more years of college vs. 56 percent in the 
census data. Among Israeli women, the disparity between the survey and 
the census data is smaller, but in the same direction: 65 percent of the Israeli 
women in the N.Y. Study had completed one or more years of college as 
compared with 52 percent of Israeli women in the census file. The differ- 
ences in educational attainment between the N.Y. Study and census data 
may reflect the studies' different sampling frames. The study includes only 
Jews and only Israeli-born Israelis, groups that are likely to have higher 
levels of education than the census sample, which includes Israelis bom 
outside of the Jewish state as well as non-Jews. (See table 4.) 

Israeli immigrants frequently report that they came to the United States 
in order to increase their education. This seems to be borne out by the data. 

"Ritterband, "Israelis in New York." 
"'Rosenthal, "Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants." 
"Herman, "A Technique for Estimating," p. 95. 

"Uriely, "Israeli Immigrants in Chicago"; Gold, "Patterns of Economic Cooperation" 
Ben- Ami, "Schlepers and Car Washers," pp. 18-20. 





























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In one study of Israelis in New York, while 28 percent of those responding 
had a bachelor's degree or greater before leaving Israel, the proportion 
increased to 39 percent in the United States. Similarly, of respondents' 
spouses, the fraction with a college-level education increased from 28 per- 
cent in Israel to 45 percent in the United States." 

Occupational and Economic Status 

In both New York and Los Angeles, almost half of Israeli men are 
employed as managers, administrators, professionals, or technical special- 
ists. Another quarter in either city are employed in sales. Other important 
occupational categories are gender-based: craft work (frequently in con- 
struction) for men and clerical occupations for women. On both coasts, the 
most common occupational category for Israeli women is professional/ 
technical. In both New York and Los Angeles, female Israelis are profes- 
sionally employed at nearly double the figure of their male counterparts: 41 
percent of Israeli women are professionally employed in New York, 33 
percent in Los Angeles. This reflects the large fraction of Israeli women who 
find employment in Jewish communal occupations, such as teaching in day 
schools and synagogues. (See table 5.) Recent studies have shown that 7 
percent of all Hebrew school teachers in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Mil- 
waukee and 25 percent in Los Angeles were born in Israel." 

While the image of the Israeli taxi driver in New York was a popular 
stereotype in the 1980s, census data reveal that this is no longer a major 
calling among the community (if in fact it ever was). According to the 1990 
census, only 4 percent of Israeli men in New York and 2 percent in Los 
Angeles are employed in the field of transport. By the mid-1990s, taxi 
companies, for example, that were owned by Israelis, tended to employ an 
ethnically diverse labor force. 

The occupational profile of Israelis in New York diflFers somewhat in the 
census data and the N.Y. Study. The latter shows many more Israeli males 
concentrated in the professional/technical categories than the former (44 
percent vs. 21 percent) and many fewer in sales (8 percent vs. 29 percent). 
The N.Y. Study also shows more women in professional and technical 
occupations than does the census (63 percent vs. 41 percent) and fewer in 
sales (8 percent vs. 16 percent) and clerical (8 percent vs. 23 percent). The 
rest of the distributions are nearly identical. (See table 5.) The diflFerences 

"Rosenthal, "Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants," p. 67. 

"Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education, "Policy Brief: Background and Professional 
Training of Teachers in Jewish Schools," n.d.. Box 1; Bruce Phillips and Isa Aron, "Teachers 
in Jewish Schools in Los Angeles," unpublished report, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, 





























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in occupational distribution between the N.Y. Study and census data may 
reflect the studies' different sampling frames, as discussed above, with the 
less educated more likely to be employed in clerical and sales occupations. 
Further, since teaching Hebrew is a common professional occupation for 
Israeli women in the United States, we might surmise that non-native 
speakers of Hebrew (and non-Jews) are less likely to be working in this field, 

The occupational profile of Israeli males in New York is very similar to 
that of other foreign-bom Jewish males as well as of American-bom Jewish 
men with two minor exceptions: Israelis are less likely than native-bom 
males to be employed in sales and more likely to be employed in skilled 

Research suggests that Israeli immigrants are extremely entrepreneurial. 
The 1990 census found that around a third of Israeli men in both New York 
(3 1 percent) and Los Angeles (36 percent) were self-employed. Nationally, 
Israelis have the second-highest rate for self-employment of all the national- 
ity groups in the 1990 census. Only that of Koreans was higher. The rates of 
Israeli self-employment in the N.Y. Study are consistent with those tabulated 
in the 1990 census for New York City: 36 percent for males and 20 percent 
for females in the former; 3 1 percent and 14 percent in the latter. (See table 
6.) Further, Israeli males and females are more likely to be self-employed 
than other foreign-born and native-born Jewish New Yorkers. 

Other surveys have estimated the Israeli rate of self-employment to be 
even higher. A researcher in Los Angeles found that 77 percent of Israeli 
men and 37 percent of Israeli women in Los Angeles were self-employed; 
a New York study found that 63 percent of Israeli men and 23 percent of 
Israeli women in New York were self-employed; and an analysis of 1980 
census data for California showed Israelis with the highest rate of entre- 
preneurship of any nationality in the United States." Given that immigrants 
generally have higher rates of self-employment than the native-bom, and 
that Jews — foreign-born and native-born alike — are also characterized by 
high rates of self-employment, this is not surprising." 

"Michal Shachal-Staier, "Israelis in Los Angeles: Interrelations and Relations with the 
American Jewish Community," MBA thesis, U. of Judaism, Los Angeles, 1993; Josef Kora- 
zim, "Israeli Families in New York City: Utilization of Social Services, Unmet Needs, and 
Policy Implications," Ph.D. diss., Columbia U., 1983; Eran Razin, "Social Networks, Local 
Opportunities and Entrepreneurship Among Immigrants: The Israeli Experience in an Inter- 
national Perspective" (Hebrew U. of Jerusalem, Dept. of Geography, 1991), mimeo. 

"John Sibley Butler and Cedric Herring, "Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship in America: 
Toward an Explanation of Racial and Ethnic Group Variations in Self-Employment," Socio- 
logical Perspectives 34, no. 1, 1991, pp. 79 - 94; Frank A. Fratoe, "Abstracts of the Sociological 
Literature on Minority Business Ownership (with additional references)" (Research Division, 
Office of Advocacy, Research and Information, Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. 
Dept. of Commerce, 1984); Ivan Light, "Disadvantaged Minorities in Self-Employment," 
International Journal of Comparative Sociology 20, nos. 1-2, 1979, pp. 31-45. 
































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High rates of self-employment are maintained by extensive economic 
cooperation involving co-ethnic hiring, subcontracting, and ethnic eco- 
nomic specialization. In Los Angeles, Israelis are especially active in con- 
struction, jewelry and diamonds, retail sales, security, garments, engineer- 
ing, and media." One illustration of Israelis' entrepreneurial orientation can 
be found in the "Jewish/Israeli Yellow Pages of Los Angeles." Originally 
started as an offshoot of the Hebrew weekly Hadshot LA , the bilingual 
(Hebrew and English) directory grew to over 300 pages, advertising some 
1,500 Israeli-owned businesses. The publisher estimated that there were 
closer to 3,500 Israeli-owned businesses in Los Angeles in 1995." 


Israelis in New York and Los Angeles have generally high rates of 
employment and low rates of welfare use. Men have very high rates of 
labor-force participation, but a large fraction of Israeli women are not in 
the labor force." (See table 7.) One survey of naturalized Israelis in New 
York found that "only 4 percent of the women indicated 'housewife' as their 
occupation in Israel, while 36 percent did so in the United States.'"" An- 
other study found that while 30 percent of Israeli migrant women had not 
been in the labor force in Israel, 56 percent were not in the labor force in 
New York." 

Further, many Israeli women who work do so only part time. Israelis are 
different in this regard from many other immigrant women, who maintain 
high labor-force participation rates." While this trend may be an indicator 
of the migrants' improved economic status, it also undoubtedly reflects the 
decision of Israeli women to stay out of the labor market in order to 
compensate on the domestic and communal fronts for the support networks 
and services they enjoyed in Israel but find lacking in the United States. (See 
below, "Gender and Family Adaptation.") 

"Bozorgmehr et al., "Middle Easterners: A New Kind of Immigrant"; Gold, "Patterns of 
Economic Cooperation." 

"Personal communication, Jan. 1996. This figure accords with 1990 census data, which 
show some 14,000 Israelis living in Los Angeles, about 29 percent (4,000) of them self- 

"This despite the fact that — as of 1984 — the United States had a higher female labor-force 
participation rate (44 percent) than Israel's (38 percent). 

™Mira Rosenthal and Charles Auerbach, "Cultural and Social Assimilation of Israeli Immi- 
grants in the United States," International Migration Review 99, no. 26, 1992, p. 985. 

"Korazim, "Israeli Families in New York City," p. 79. 

"Silvia Pedraza, "Women and Migration: The Social Consequences of Gender," Annual 
Review of Sociology 17, 1991, pp. 303 - 25; Andrea Tyree and Katherine Donato, "A Demo- 
graphic Overview of the International Migration of Women," in International Migration: The 
Female Experience, ed. Rita James Simon and Caroline B. Brettell (Totowa, N.J., 1986), pp 








































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The earnings of Israelis in New York and Los Angeles are considerable, 
exceeding the average for the foreign -born and approaching those of native 
whites. Employed Israeli men residing in New York City were making 
approximately $35,000 annually in 1990, while their counterparts in Los 
Angeles were making almost $49,000. For purposes of comparison, the 
average income for all employed foreign-bom men was about $26,000 in 
New York and $24,000 in Los Angeles in 1990, while employed, native- 
born white men in New York and Los Angeles earned approximately 

Employed Israeli women made about $25,000 in New York and approxi- 
mately $22,200 in Los Angeles. For purposes of comparison, the average 
income for employed, foreign -born women in New York in 1990 was 
$19,000 and $16,400 in Los Angeles; employed, native-bom white women 
eamed about $31,000 in New York and $26,000 in Los Angeles." 

While the average income of former Israelis suggests a generally success- 
ful merger into the American middle class, it should be noted that the 
economic circumstances of this population cover a wide range, from pov- 
erty to significant wealth. In 1990, according to the census, between 1 and 
2 percent of Israelis in New York and Los Angeles were on welfare. Also, 
when length of residence is taken into account, incomes tend to rise. In Los 
Angeles, Israeli men who had been in the country for ten years averaged 
almost $72,000 a year. (Figures are for persons aged 24-65.) 

Residential Distribution in New York 

Israelis tend to live in older, established Jewish neighborhoods. In the 
New York area, Israelis are concentrated in Brooklyn and Queens." 

Different kinds of Israeli households live in different parts of New York. 
Israeli singles, even more than native-born Jewish singles, are attracted to 
Manhattan (50 percent versus 40 percent). Married couples in which one 
or both partners are Israeli gravitate toward Brooklyn (39 percent) and 
Queens (20 percent), as do married couples in which one or both partners 
is foreign-bom (but not Israeli) (39 percent to Brooklyn, 18 percent to 
Queens). Jewish couples in which both partners are American-bom, by 
contrast, are most likely to live in the suburbs (40 percent), particularly 
Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. 

Israelis in Brooklyn and Queens tend to have the lowest socioeconomic 
status, and in this regard they are like other Jews in these boroughs. Israeli 

"PUMS for New York City and Los Angeles County, 1990 Census. 
"The 1991 New York Jewish Population Study. 


males in Brooklyn and Queens, like other foreign-bom as well as native- 
bom Jewish males, are the least likely to be employed in management, 
administrative, professional, or technical occupations, compared to Jews 
living in all areas of New York City. The more affluent areas of Manhattan 
and Riverdale (in the Bronx) are the most likely to have Jews in higher- 
status occupations. This is also true of the suburbs, though Israelis in 
affluent areas may be self-employed rather than professionals. 

A similar pattern is observed for females. Employed Jewish females in 
Brooklyn and Queens are the least likely to work in high-status occupations, 
regardless of their place of birth. Israeli women in the suburbs, however, 
have a decidedly higher occupational profile than suburban Israeli men. 
This is probably due to the fact that Israeli women often find jobs as 
teachers or other kinds of Jewish communal professionals. 

Another difference between suburban and urban Israelis in New York has 
to do with religious observance. Israeli families in Brooklyn and Queens are 
the most likely to have moved there to be near a Jewish day school or 
yeshivah or a synagogue that appeals to them. Israelis in Brooklyn and 
Queens are more likely than suburban Israelis to engage in Jewish rituals, 
including attending synagogue one or more times per week, using separate 
dishes for milk and meat, fasting on Yom Kippur, refraining from using 
money on Shabbat, and observing the Fast of Esther. Suburban Israelis, on 
the other hand, are more likely to have attended a Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Israel 
Independence Day) celebration. 


Israelis make exceptionally good progress at learning English. One analy- 
sis of 1990 census data for Los Angeles found that only 5 percent of Israelis 
do not feel confident in their English ability. In interviews with over 100 
Los Angeles Israelis representing all walks of life, Steve Gold encountered 
only one — a recently arrived Persian-born Israeli who worked in the heav- 
ily Iranian garment district — who could not speak fluent English. About 
80 percent of Israelis in Los Angeles report speaking Hebrew at home, a 
figure that reduces to 60 percent for the generation of Israelis who came to 
the United States as young children and spent many years here." 

In general, Israelis speak Hebrew at home, but the percentage who report 
speaking Hebrew at home declines with length of time in the United States. 
Israelis in New York are far more likely than Israelis in Los Angeles to 
report Yiddish as one of the languages spoken at home. (See table 8.) 

"Bozorgmehr et al., "Middle Easterners," pp. 3 1 - 32. 


YORK (percentages) 

Language Los Angeles New York 

Hebrew 75.0 67.0 

English 11.0 15.0 

Yiddish 0.7 13.0 

Armenian 4.3 — 

Arabic 2.3 — 

Persian 1.2 — 

French 1.1 1,3 

Spanish — 1.2 

Sources: 1990 Census, PUMS. ~ 


Social Adaptation 

Much of the literature on Israeli immigrants cited in this study asserts 
that, despite their economic well-being, many members of the group accept 
the negative yored stereotype, suffering from feelings of shame, guilt, and 
alienation, making frequent mention of their plans to return home, and 
refusing to call themselves Americans. The ambivalence experienced by 
many Israelis is reflected in interview comments such as these by a man 
living in a mostly Israeli apartment complex in the San Fernando Valley: 

An Israeli is torn apart the minute he is leaving Israel [to come to the U.S. for 
an extended period]. It's not like people from other countries who come here and 
settle down, hoping for better life. An Israeli is torn apart the minute he leaves 
Israel and that's when he begins to wonder where is it better — here or there. 

We Israelis come here and organize our lives as if we are going to stay for a short 
period and our life here is a make-believe. The reality is that we live here and at 
the same time we don't live here. That leaves the question for which I don't have 
an answer — what will happen and where are we? 

According to one view, the kind of ambivalence just expressed blocks the 
formation of a viable Israeli ethnic community, making Israelis in this 
regard "out of tune with the mainstream of ethnic behavior in America." 
They remain marginal both to Israel and the American Jewish community 
because of their "problem concerning the legitimacy of their emigration, 
their self-definition and self-esteem."'' 

"Moshe Shokeid, "One Night Stand Ethnicity: The Malaise of Israeli-Americans," Israel 
Social Science Journal 8, no. 2, 1993, pp. 23-50; idem, Children of Circumstances. 


Without denying that many Israelis feel ambivalent about being in the 
United States, our research suggests that feelings of nostalgia and homesick- 
ness can function as an incentive for co-ethnic cooperation rather than only 
as a source of shame that discourages the maintenance of ethnic ties. 

In New York, Los Angeles, and other locales the desire of Israelis to 
interact with each other and to maintain their ties to Israel is expressed in 
various ways: Israelis socialize with each other, live near co-nationals, 
consume Hebrew-language media (originating in both the United States and 
Israel), patronize Israeli restaurants and nightclubs, attend formal social 
events and celebrations, observe Israel Independence Day together; they 
work in jobs with other Israelis, consume goods and services provided by 
Israeli professionals and entrepreneurs, keep funds in Israeli banks, send 
children to Israeli-oriented religious, language, recreational, and cultural/ 
national activities; they raise money for Israeli causes (e.g., the Macabees/ 
L.A. Kings fund-raising basketball game), call Israel on the phone, host 
Israeli visitors, and make frequent trips to Israel. 

They patronize Israeli-style day-care centers. In Los Angeles there are 
two types — one run as a social service by formally organized groups, such 
as the Gan-Chabad Israeli Center; the other, home-based day-care busi- 
nesses organized by Israeli women. The 1992 - 1993 Los Angeles Israeli 
Yellow Pages lists ten such centers, among them Ariella's Day Care, Dorit's 
Day Care, Hila Day Care, and Kids' Gym. 

And they belong to a variety of associations. In addition to synagogues, 
these include clubs of various sorts and Hebrew-speaking chapters of Amer- 
ican or international organizations such as ORT, B'nai B'rith, and WIZO 
(the latter reportedly brought to Los Angeles by Israelis)." The 1993 - 1994 
Jewish Yellow Pages of Los Angeles devotes six pages to 30 such organiza- 
tions. While some of these groups, such as ADL or the Simon Wiesenthal 
Center, are clearly not limited to the immigrant community, a number are 
exclusively oriented toward immigrants. 

Among these are the Israeli Flying Clubs (there are two), the Israeli 
Musicians' Organization, the Israeli Organization in Los Angeles (ILA), 
the Israeli- Yemenite minyan at Temple B'nai David Judea, the Summit 
political club, YELI (an organization of Israeli mental health professionals 
who assist co-nationals), several sports organizations, and Israeli folk-dance 
groups. These, as well as various informal networks of business people, were 
created by immigrants themselves. Youth activities like Hetz Vakeshet 
(summer in Israel program) and Tzofim (Israeli scouts) are sponsored by 
the Israeli government. Still other activities — the Jewish Community Cen- 
ter's Israeli program, the AMI (Israeli Hebrew) school, the B'nai B'rith 
Shalom Lodge, the Jewish Federation's Israeli Division, the Chabad Israeli 

"Shachal-Staier, "Israelis in Los Angeles: Interrelations and Relations"; Gold, "Israelis In 
Los Angeles." 


Program, and WIZO Shaked — are linked with American or international 
Jewish organizations. Regardless of their affiliations, these groups reflect 
Israelis' desire to interact with each other and enjoy being in a setting where 
they can exchange information, share social and economic support, and 
develop common perspectives on life in the United States. 

A case can be made that the sizeable Israeli population in Los Angeles, 
along with the many institutions that serve it, constitutes what Canadian 
sociologist Raymond Breton calls an "institutionally complete" commu- 
nity.'* Within this collectivity, an Israeli immigrant or visitor can satisfy 
nearly all of his/her needs in Hebrew. 

While Los Angeles may well have the most organizationally active Israeli 
community in the United States, other communities reveal a similar if less 
intensive communal pattern." Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and New 
York all have Tzofim and Tzabar programs (the latter involves "education 
in Jewish tradition without an emphasis on religion") and a variety of Israeli 
associations and clubs. With the exception of Miami, each city also has an 
Israeli-oriented Hebrew school program. Further, these cities, along with 
Detroit, have all made efforts to include Israelis within the local Jewish 
Federation and other communal activities.'" 

Israelis clearly possess a desire to associate with and help one another. 
They become each other's families — celebrating holidays together, for 
example — and helping each other get established. But the examples cited 
above demonstrate a stronger communal orientation than was believed to 
exist, contrasting with the image of the conflicted j^orerf who is too ashamed 
to make contact with his or her co-nationals. 


While Israelis in the United States cooperate among themselves and with 
other Jewish groups, various subgroups of the Israeli immigrant population 
(based upon common background, outlook, and the like) have developed 
more extensive forms of cooperation than exist in the Israeli community as 
a whole." For example, in Los Angeles, groups based on ethnicity — such 
as Persians and Yemenis — organize many of their own social events and 
religious activities and occupy economic niches that they share with others 
of a common background. This is how one Israeli of Persian (Iranian) origin 

"Raymond Breton, "Institutional Completeness of Ethnic Communities and the Personal 
Relations of Immigrants," American Journal of Sociology 84, 1964, pp. 293 - 318. 

"Mittelberg and Waters, "The Process of Ethnogenesis Among Haitian and Israeli Immi- 

'"Rosen, The Israeli Corner, p. 14. 

"Uriely, "Rhetorical Ethnicity of Permanent Sojourners"; Shokeid, Children of Circum- 
stances; Gold, "Patterns of Economic Cooperation." 


describes the high level of economic cooperation that exists among members 
of his group: 

For us it is very easy to find out a job only on the downtown. Before I went 
downtown, I tried to look at the ads in the American newspapers, like the Times. 
My son was looking with me. But I couldn't get into the business. But the minute 
I went to downtown L.A., there are a lot of Israelis and Persian guys, we contract 
between each other and start business. 

While Yemeni- or Persian-origin Israelis tend to know their co-ethnics, 
their social networks and community knowledge do not extend to promi- 
nent Ashkenazi Israelis. Another strong network is made up of former 
kibbutz members who cooperate in economic and social activities." For 
example, Avi, a former kibbutz member who now runs a large construction 
company, describes his motives for hiring other Israelis: 

I think that it hurts me and it takes away from my power to see another Israeli 
without work and without any way to make his living and that's why we are 
helping them. My company now has at least 35 to 40 "children" and "grandchil- 
dren" in various aspects of the business. I had many foremen who decided to go 
on their own and they even got a job from me as a subcontractor. 

Long-established Israelis have their own social circle, which revolves 
around a Hebrew-speaking lodge of B'nai B'rith; and the more recently 
arrived are involved with WIZO and a federation-affiliated business associa- 

Finally, the boundaries between subgroups also reflect some of the ethnic 
prejudices carried over from life in Israel. For example, a Hungarian-born 
graduate student confides that he did not want to attend a Yom 
Ha'atzma'ut (Israel Independence Day) celebration because "too many 
Chach Chachim" (a Hebrew slang term for a flashy, working-class person, 
often of Oriental ethnicity) would be there. While he explains that "there 
are white Chach Chachim," most are Oriental or Sephardic. For their part, 
Moroccan, Yemeni, and Persian-origin Israelis in Los Angeles, New York, 
and Chicago, who made a relatively easy transition to Orthodox and Has- 
sidic synagogue life in the United States, often criticize the antireligious 
outlook of secular Ashkenazi Israelis.'* A Chicago study found that Sephar- 
dic Israelis had higher rates of synagogue membership, attendance at High 
Holy Day services, and keeping a kosher home than did Ashkenazim." 

"Gold, "Patterns of Economic Cooperation"; Naama Sabar, "The Wayward Children of the 
Kibbutz — A Sad Awakening," Proceedings of Qualitative Research in Education (College of 
Education, U. of Georgia, 1989); Ben-Ami, "Schlepers and Car Washers." 

"Steven Gold, "Israeli Immigrants in the U.S.: The Question of Community," Qualitative 
Sociology 17, no. 4, 1994, pp. 325-63. 

"Uriely, "Patterns of Identification"; Shokeid, Children of Circumstances; Gold, "Israelis 
in Los Angeles." 

"Uriely, "Patterns of Identification," p. 37. 


Similarly, Middle Eastern-origin Israelis are active participants in Chabad 
activities in New York.*' In fact, judging by the number of photographs of 
the late Lubavitcher Rebbe displayed in Israeli businesses and other immi- 
grant settings, Chabad has made strong connections with Israelis in Los 
Angeles as well. 

Gender and Family Adaptation 

In nearly every study of Israelis in the United States, including our own 
field interviews, one finds that while migration was a "family decision," and 
the family as a whole enjoys economic benefits as a result of migration, the 
decision to migrate was made by the men seeking the expanded educational 
and occupational opportunities available in the United States." In the 
words of Rachel: 

For most of the people that came here, the men came and the women came after 
them. Like when I came, my husband came for a job. I had to leave my job and 
I had to find a new job and it was very painful. I think more and more now there 
are women coming on their own, but if you look at most cases, it is the men 
coming after jobs and it means that the women are the ones that have to take care 
of finding apartment, finding schools for kids and they get depressed, very badly 

A study of Israeli immigrant women in suburban New York found that 
all 22 of "the women who left Israel with their Israeli spouses, except one, 
put the onus of the decision on 'his' education, 'his' career or business plans. 
As a group of immigrant women they can in fact be seen as adjuncts to their 
spouses' immigration."*' 

Once in this country, men often enjoy the benefits of their expanded 
opportunities and accordingly feel more comfortable with the new environ- 
ment. One study of former kibbutzniks found that women, especially those 
with children and established careers, have more negative views of the new 
society, are less satisfied with America, and retain a stronger sense of Israeli 
and Jewish identity than men, who increasingly see themselves as Ameri- 
can. Even when these Israeli women work in the United States, they have 
less of a professional identity than men and would prefer to return home." 

These findings appear to apply to a large segment of the Israeli popula- 
tion. Once in the United States, through their immersion in education and 
work, men develop a social network and a positive sense of self Women, 

"Shokeid, Children of Circumstances . 

"Kimhi, "Perceived Change of Self-Concept"; Lipner, "The Subjective Experience"; Rosen- 
thal, "Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants"; Rosenthal and Auerbach, "Cultural and Social 
Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants." 

"Lipner, "The Subjective Experience of Israeli Immigrant Women," p. 142. 

"Kimhi, "Perceived Change of Self-Concept," p. 95. 


however, because they are responsible for child rearing and many of the 
family's domestic and social activities, are the family members who most 
directly confront alien American social norms and cultural practices — but 
without the knowledge or the family, friendship, and neighborhood re- 
sources to which they had access at home. Thus, Israeli immigrant women 
find their domestic and communal tasks — such as building social net- 
works, finding appropriate schools and recreational activities, dealing with 
teachers and doctors, obtaining day care, and the like — to be quite difficult. 

According to one researcher, an Israeli woman's family status and prior 
work involvement have much to do with her feelings about being in the 
United States. Younger women who had few social attachments prior to 
migration (i.e., no children or established careers) looked forward to mi- 
grating and enjoyed being in America. However, women who had children 
and who were forced to give up good positions in Israel to come to the 
United States had a much harder time, experiencing their exit as "devastat- 

The presence of young or school-age children in Israeli immigrant fami- 
lies often heightens their ambivalence about being in the United States. The 
New York women in Lipner's study experience the environment in which 
their children are growing up as entirely antithetical to the Israeli one in 
which they were socialized. Essentially, they see the dominant values of the 
adult world, competition and individualism, replicated in the children's 
reality, and they are critical of it." 

In reflecting on their experience, many Israelis contrast this country's 
positive economic and occupational environment to its communal and cul- 
tural liabilities: immigrants almost universally regard Israel as a better place 
for children. It is safer, they maintain, has fewer social problems, and does 
not impose the generational conflicts IsraeHs confront when raising children 
in the United States. Further, in Israel, Jews are the culturally and reli- 
giously dominant group. The institutions of the larger society teach children 
Hebrew and Jewish history and help them to shape their basic national, 
ethnic, and religious identity. (More on this below.) 

Role reversals sometimes occur between parents and children, with the 
younger generation gaining in power at the expense of the older. This is 
because children generally become Americanized and learn English much 
faster than their parents. One woman reported that her teen-age son would 
react to her advice by saying, "What do you know about it? You're from 

Another source of conflict occurs when family members disagree over 
their country of residence. These problems are most dramatic when one 

'"Lipner, "The Subjective Experience of Israeli Immigrant Women," pp. 144 - 145. 
"Ibid., p. 232. 


spouse is American-born or has many American relatives, while the other's 
family resides in Israel. Similarly, children who have spent much of their 
lives in the United States often prefer to remain, while their parents may 
wish to return to Israel. Conversely, parents may wish to remain in the 
United States for career opportunities, while children may wish to return 
to Israel. Such is the case for Dan, an active member of the San Fernando 
Valley Tzofim chapter: 

On Yom Kippur, we went to the synagogue and it was so different because we 
prayed and then we went home and people were driving by on the street and 
people were eating in restaurants and it was very hard. It was very different. I 
felt that I am not in the right place; I shouldn't be here. I told my parents and 
they said "You are in the United States, you are not in Israel. You should expect 

Israeli vs. American Jewish Identity 

For many Israelis — particularly those with children — the issue of their 
basic identity as Israelis and as Jews is a highly charged one. The identity 
of many Israelis is ethnic, secular, and nationalistic. While they appreciate 
Jewish holidays and speak Hebrew, they connect these behaviors to "Israeli- 
ness" rather than Jewishness. They are not accustomed to participating in 
organized religious activities and depend on the larger society and public 
institutions to socialize their children. But the very fact of living in a 
non-Jewish society presents new challenges, as the following anecdote illus- 
trates. It was told to research assistant Debra Hansen by Gili, who was 
stationed in Los Angeles by an Israeli company. 

Gili's oldest daughter, who attended a Jewish day school, was asked by 
her teacher if she would marry a non-Jew. She replied "yes," because her 
parents had taught her not to judge people by their background but only 
by their character. When informed of this reply by their child's teacher, Gili 
and his wife were shocked. They had imparted their principle in the context 
of Israel, so that she would not judge people according to their Ashkenazi 
or Oriental/Sephardic origins, but they never intended her to apply it in a 
non-Jewish environment. 

While Israeli parents may seek to impart a Jewish/Israeli identity to 
children whom they see assimilating quickly to the non-Jewish folkways of 
American life, they find no easy way to do so. The "synagogue-based, 
ethno-religious identity of Diaspora U.S. Jews"" is foreign to them (particu- 
larly those identified with the Ashkenazi elite), and they are unfamiliar with 
the uniquely American forms of Judaism, specifically, the Reform and 

"Mittelberg and Waters, "The Process of Ethnogenesis Among Haitian and Israeli Immi- 
grants," p. 416. 


Conservative movements, with which the great majority of American Jews 
affiliate, because those movements have only a small presence in Israel." 
The dilemma of many Israeli parents is described by Batia, a psychologist 
and mother of two teenagers: 

Israelis are bom secular citizens. Most of us are raised secular, non-religious. And 
that's the point. Because if we're not rehgious, we are not identifying ourselves 
with the Jewish community here. Therefore, we are not Jews, we're Israelis. 

So, Israehs send their kids to public school and they have this little American 
running around at home that is not Jewish. And remember, the Israelis also are 
not Jewish, so where do we meet in the family? On what value system do we meet? 
There is no value system that Israehs can give to their children as Americans 
because they don't know it. The children bring home the American culture, their 
parents don't know it. None of them meet on the Jewish arena, which is the 
healthiest, because it gives you a value system and lifestyle and it does not exist 
in Israeli family and that's why the breakdown occurs. 

Many Israeli parents feel forced to choose between having their children 
socialized in either (or perhaps both) of two unfamiliar cultural traditions 
— those of non-Jewish Americans and those of Diaspora Jews. Those Is- 
raeli parents who try to remedy the situation by enrolling children in 
parochial day schools and other American Jewish institutions are con- 
fronted with a foreign culture and identity, one that is religious rather than 
nationalistic. Some are troubled by what they describe as the excessive 
religiosity of day schools. They object to the children's school-inculcated 
demands for a kosher kitchen, family synagogue attendance, and strict 
Sabbath adherence. Committed to secularism, such parents comment on 
their own dislike of the growing power of religious parties in Israel and do 
not want to raise their children to become supporters of Orthodoxy. But 
they are torn between their rejection of too much religion in Israel and the 
threat posed in America by too little. 

Thus, despite complaints about excessive religiosity, and about the high 
cost of Jewish day schools and synagogue membership, some secular Israe- 
lis decide that the only reasonable means of resolving the gap in generation 
and culture is to raise their children as religious American Jews. As a result, 
some Israelis who present themselves as having been radically secular prior 
to migration claim that they are more religiously observant in the United 
States than they ever had been in Israel. 

It is important to point out that the desire of Israeli parents to expose 
their children to Israeli or Jewish culture is only partly because they value 
these traditions. Many also want their offspring to understand "where they 
are coming from," so that there can be some shared experience that permits 
Americanized children to relate to their parents and relatives. Added to 

"Ritterband, "Israelis in New York.' 


this, parents' fears about public schools and the perceived negative elements 
of American youth culture (drugs, individualism, excessive sexuality, low 
achievement motivation) also make Jewish schools look like desirable alter- 

The solution for many Israeli immigrant families who wish to escape the 
polarities of assimilation and Orthodoxy,'" but want to give their children 
some form of Jewish and/or Israeli training, is to establish connections with 
Israeli and/or Jewish life through special family activities of their own 
creation or involvement in specially designed Israeli-American programs. 

Many Israeli youngsters attend after-school Hebrew programs and vari- 
ous Israeli clubs that seek to provide Israeli-American children with some 
notion of an Israeli identity. Starting in 1983, New York's Board of Jewish 
Education, with UJA-Federation funding, developed "a secular experimen- 
tal educational program" that eventually resulted in a number of after- 
school programs throughout the city as well as an array of cultural activities 
for all ages: folk-dance groups, parent workshops, summer camps, even 
bar/bat mitzvah training. Ghana Silberstein, director of the program, esti- 
mates that some 2,500 Israeli families have been involved in Jewish educa- 
tional programs. She stresses the need of Israelis living outside of Israel "to 
redefine their Jewish identity, making the necessary transition from being 
part of a Jewish majority to part of a Jewish minority."" 

An Israeli staff member in a Los Angeles Hebrew school program ex- 
plained her goals this way: 

When I put the program together, I was trying to think what does an Israeli 
... a child that was born to an Israeli family that lives in the United States 
. . . when he graduates this school, what does he need in order to feel comfortable 
in his community? So, one of them, of course, is Hebrew ... to feel comfortable 
at home. They must know about the culture in which ... we grew. Like the poems 
and the riddles and the rhymes and the stories that these parents recite at home. 

They should be able go to a synagogue and feel comfortable with the Jewish 
community so we have lessons for the Holy Days and Shabbat. Of course, they 
have to know about the geography of Israel to know what's going on political 
wise. They have to know the history and they should know about the dilFerent 
Jewish heroes from the Biblical time to modern history. Who was Trompeldor, 
Hanna Senesh, all the way . . . back to Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Hillel. And we 
celebrate the Holy Days the way we would in Israel. 

Tzabar, the American branch of Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) has groups for 
youngsters aged 10- 19 in eight states and a membership of some 1,500. 
Each summer, 200 Israeli- American youth spend a summer in Israel as part 

"While they exist between the polarities of assimilation and Orthodoxy, "middle ground" 
approaches to Judaism such as Reform and Conservative are very American and, accordingly, 
may have little more appeal to recently arrived Israelis than the extremes. 

"Rosen, The Israeli Corner, pp. 18-19. 


of Hetz Vakeshet, a program that combines "elements of summer camp, 
Outward Bound, and army training all in one."" 

Jewish Involvement 

Although the issue of identity is clearly central for many Israelis, it 
remains to be seen how and to what extent they will become involved in 
the American Jewish community. One school of thought suggests a growing 
trend toward assimilation to non- Jewish cultural patterns. Largely secular 
and unaccustomed to American Jewish life, Israeli emigres' very departure 
from the Holy Land signifies a move away from the Jewish ideal. Even their 
participation in ethnic activities is limited and oriented toward secular 
pursuits with little religious content — meals, parties, dancing, and sports. 
Moreover, their poor relations with, and social and cultural distance from, 
American Jews suggests little potential for integration into the larger com- 

Another school of thought sees Israelis increasingly participating in 
American Jewish life and becoming involved in a variety of Jewish institu- 
tions. While survey data on the Jewish involvement and behavior of Israelis 
are limited and overrepresent the well-established, existing studies indicate 
that Israeli emigres engage in many Jewish behaviors at higher rates than 
those of American-bom Jews. 

When comparing Israeli immigrants' observance of Jewish customs — 
lighting candles on Shabbat and Hanukkah, attending synagogue on the 
High Holy Days and Shabbat, and fasting on Yom Kippur — with their 
patterns of practice in Israel, several studies of naturahzed IsraeHs in New 
York and Los Angeles found that these practices increased in this country. 
A study of Israelis in Los Angeles that did not draw from a sample of those 
with U.S. citizenship noted a slight reduction in these religious practices. 
Overall, based on the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), it 
appears that Israelis are more likely than American Jews to observe the 
above-mentioned Jewish practices, both in Israel and in the United States. 
(See table 9.) 

In Los Angeles, 80 percent of Israeli parents provide their children with 
some form of Jewish education; 50 percent of Israeli youth in Los Angeles 
attend day schools." In one New York study, over 30 percent of Israeli 
children in Brooklyn and Queens attend day schools. This latter rate is quite 
high, considering that Israeli residents of Brooklyn and Queens are among 

"Rosen, The Israeli Corner, p. 10. 
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the least affluent Jewish New Yorkers, and that many come from secular 

Communal Response 

Until the 1980s, much of the organized American Jewish community and 
the Israeh government either ignored or actively condemned the Israeli 
population in the United States. One top Israeh government official referred 
to the emigres as zevel (garbage) and urged consulates worldwide to have 
"little if anything to do with them." In order to discourage further emigra- 
tion and to foster re-immigration, from the early 1970s until the mid-1980s, 
the Israeli consulate in New York "repeatedly urged the federation to 
provide no special services to Israelis."""' 

In the late 1980s, however, this relationship began to change. Subtly and 
without grandstanding, the Israeli government encouraged its consular 
officials to initiate the development of relations between Israeli immigrants 
and American Jewish institutions. Yossi Kucik of the Jewish Agency re- 
ported that he attended a 1985 meeting wherein "it was agreed that the 
State could no longer afford to ignore these citizens abroad." A consular 
official asserted, "It is preferable to see these Israelis participating in Ameri- 
can Jewish life rather than for them to be isolated Jewishly." Early in 1990, 
Los Angeles consul-general Ron Ronen approached the Jewish Federation 
(which had been offering some outreach activities since 1984) to develop a 
new and more inclusive policy toward Israeli emigres."" 

In 1992 the Israeli government announced that "because of the impor- 
tance it attaches to the re-emigration of Israelis to Israel," it was taking 
responsibility for "rt-aliyah" from the Jewish Agency and estabhshing an 
Office for Returning Israelis in the Ministry of Absorption. It offered 
emigres a package of benefits including cash assistance, low-cost air fair, 
suspension of import duties, education, assistance in finding jobs and hous- 
ing, financial aid for schooling, and reduction in military duty for Israelis 
and their families who return.'"^ 

Following Israel's lead, American Jewry took steps to acknowledge both 
the existence of an Israeli immigrant community and the importance of 

"Rosenthal, "Assimilation of Israeli Immigrants." On the other hand, given the poor 
reputation of urban public schools and the many Jewish day schools located in these neighbor- 
hoods, Israelis living in Brooklyn and Queens may have both the motive and the opportunity 
to provide their children with a religious education. 

'"Steven M. Cohen, "Israeli Emigres and the New York Federation: A Case Study in 
Ambivalent Policymaking for 'Jewish Communal Deviants,' " Contemporary Jewry 7, 1986, 
p. 159. 

'"'Rosen, The Israeli Corner, p. 3. 

'""Going Home." 


outreach. Since that time, major American Jewish communities — New 
York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and the San Francisco Bay Area — 
have supported a series of programs to aid and incorporate Israelis. These 
include social activities, secular Israeli-style education, and Israeli divisions 
of federations.'" However, because of the ongoing controversy surrounding 
the presence of Israelis in the United States, these services are sometimes 
provided with little official acknowledgment, even though federation dollars 
support them.'"* 


Significant differences between Jewish Israelis and Jewish Americans are 
normally obscured because of the limited and selective nature of contact 
between these two groups. Despite their common religion and often shared 
ancestral origins in Eastern Europe, Israelis and American Jews speak 
different languages, maintain different cultural norms and practices, eat 
different kinds of food, have contrasting political outlooks, and like different 
kinds of sports, music, and entertainment. Further, although both support 
Israel, they have differing national allegiances. Finally, the two groups often 
express their common religious identification in disparate ways."" 

Existing literature and our own research indicate that as individuals, 
Israelis and American Jews often get along well in social, workplace, and 
organizational settings, but on the group level some friction exists. For 
example, Israelis and American Jews create good friendships and happy 
marriages, hire each other, and work together. Major Jewish organizations 
have Israeli employees and members, and Israeli students attend institu- 
tions of Jewish learning. 

American Jews admire Israelis' chutzpah, idealism, and military prow- 
ess. However, they often consider them to be boorish, arrogant, and overly 
aggressive. In Rosenthal's study of naturalized Israelis in Brooklyn and 
Queens, 47 percent had been invited to American Jews' homes fewer than 
three times, and, while 1 8 percent of Israeli- Americans reported their two 
closest friends to be American Jews, 78 percent said their best friends were 
fellow Israelis. Given that these Israelis had become U.S. citizens, and 
therefore had lived in the United States at least three to five years and knew 
English, this would appear to be a low rate of interaction."" 

'"'Shokeid, Children of Circumstances; Gold, "Israelis In Los Angeles"; Uriely, "Rhetorical 

'"'Rosen, The Israeli Corner. 

""Avi Kay, Making Themselves Heard: The Impact of North American Olim on Israeli 
Protest Politics (American Jewish Committee, New York, 1995). 

""Rosenthal, "Assimilation of Israeh Immigrants," pp. 113- 14. 


Just as American Jews have mixed feelings about Israelis, Israelis are 
ambivalent about their American cousins, whom they sometimes portray as 
affluent but soft Diaspora Jews who exist as a minority in a bland and 
potentially hostile Christian country."" In Israeli eyes, "Diaspora Jews are 
plagued by a 'galut' (exilic) mentality that precludes them from freely 
expressing themselves as proud, self-confident and self-respecting Jews."'"* 

An IsraeH perspective on American Hfe is summarized in the following 
quote from Yoram, an engineer employed in Detroit's auto industry. Yoram 
and his family speak fluent English, have an impressive suburban home, 
belong to a temple, and are active in the federation. Further, his children 
are popular campus leaders in the high school and university they attend. 
Nevertheless, Yoram expresses distance from his adopted country. 

I would say that I feel more like an outsider. I've never been discriminated 
against, at least that I have felt it. I was sometimes treated like an oddity, you 
know, "You come from the Middle East where they are still riding camels." But 
basically, we lack the understanding and the feeling of being an American. An 
apple pie is just a cake; Halloween is an American version of Purim and Thanks- 
giving is a little bit like Succot. Thank God there is Hanukkah. 

I don't have a problem with feeling like a minority because I have my roots. I 
think American Jews have it in a much more difficult way. They might feel as 
a minority — to cry for more opportunities or to say that they have been dis- 
criminated against. But I always have the option. I mean, I can always get up and 
go and whenever I go, I go home. 

And I'm not the only one. I think what you'll find very interesting is that Israelis, 
the majority of them always maintain their house in Israel. They never sell their 
house in Israel. 

American Jews' view of Israeli immigrants is often conflicted. On the one 
hand, at least until recently, many American Jews felt that Israelis should 
return home to support the cause of Zionism."" At the same time, when 
confronted with Israelis' ambivalence about being in the United States — 
expressed in refusal to call themselves Americans, praise their new country, 
accept American social codes, and participate in American-style Jewish 
communal life — American Jews resent the newcomers' lack of patriotism 
and reluctance to assimilate. One federation leader in a Midwestern city 

'"'Lipner, "The Subjective Experience of Israeli Immigrant Women"; Sobel, Migrants from 
the Promised Land. 

'"Steven M. Cohen, "Israel in the Jewish Identity of American Jews: A Study in Dualities 
and Contrasts," in Jewish Identity in America, ed. David M. Gordis and Yoav Ben-Horin 
(Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies, Los Angeles), p. 122. 

'"Cohen, "Israeli Emigres and the New York Federation"; Sobel, Migrants from the Prom- 
ised Land. 


We have several thousand Israelis and there's minimal involvement. It's very, 
very frustrating. They get involved in those things that the community does for 
them that are Israel focused — like Israel Independence Day or if we bring an 
Israeli singer. But we've really outreached and we haven't been very successful. 

Israelis are often sensitive to the negative views held by the American 
Jewish community. Some feel rejected, even bitter, complaining that they 
are viewed as stereotypes, not as individuals. On the level of personal 
interaction, some Israelis describe being initially impressed by American 
Jews' politeness. However, they also feel that Americans are fundamentally 
less friendly and sincere than Israelis."" Israelis see themselves as being 
open to spontaneous sociability. To them, Americans appear distant and 
reserved, people who socialize only formally and infrequently. However, as 
Israelis live in the United States longer, they often find themselves taking 
on similar social patterns, at least partly because of demanding work 
schedules. Nevertheless, the open sociability of Israelis seems to be a deeply 
rooted norm. 

Interestingly, Israelis see both Americans and themselves as materialistic, 
but in different ways. Young Israelis may view affluent American Jews as 
snobbish and more concerned with possessions than with human relation- 
ships. This is the opinion of a second-generation Israeli-American in Chi- 

There is something that I don't like in American Jews. They are so . . . "JAP" 
[Jewish American Princess]. They have money and that is very important for 
them. They are spoiled kids who think about themselves most of the time.'" 

Poorer American Jews, while considered by Israelis as more "down to 
earth," are seen as being "not very Jewish," perhaps because their lack of 
income deprived them of a Jewish education. At the same time, Israelis see 
their own peers as nouveaux riches — constantly trying to impress each 
other with shows of extravagant consumerism. Taking a psychoanalytic 
tack, some respondents in our studies attribute this behavior to Israelis' 
need to compensate for the status loss and insecurity associated with life in 
the "Golah" (outside of Israel). 

As these examples suggest, Israelis feel significant social distance from 
American Jews in language, values, sociability, and life-shaping experi- 
ences. One of the most revealing differences between Americans and Israelis 
involves the observance of Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day, 
which occurs the day before Israel Independence Day. Although religiously 
identified American Jews typically know all about Jewish holidays and have 
visited Israel, they have little awareness of or feeling about Yom Hazikaron, 

""Lipner, "The Subjective Experience of Israeli Immigrant Women." 
'"Uriely, "Patterns of Identification," p. 41. 


which to Israelis is one of the most solemn and moving occasions of the 
year, when they remember the Israelis whose lives were sacrificed in combat 
— many of them friends and relatives — during their nation's short history. 
Accordingly, it is at the time of Yom Hazikaron that many Israelis feel most 
distanced from American Jews and closest to each other. 

Recognizing these differences with American Jews, nearly all Israelis 
hope nevertheless for improved relations. In the words of David, an Israeli 
community activist: 

The Israelis here have to come into the Jewish community. I don't Hke the fact 
that some of them want to be independent. I'm not against them organizing, but 
we should become a part of the mainstream of Jewish-American life because we 
are not separate. 

Take for example my own family. I don't see that somebody's grandmother left 
the same village in Poland that my grandmother lived in 80 years ago and came 
to New York, and my relatives came to Israel, that I'm that different from that 
person. So, since we are the same people, we should not have a separate Israeli 
Federation. For two reasons. The main reason to me is that most Israelis will not 
admit that most of them will stay here forever. Most of them will end up living 
here, and 90 percent of their children will end up living here. 

I mean, all Israelis somewhere harbor the hope that they will go back to Israel. 
But the truth is that all of them are here temporarily, and then they die. And that's 
the reality. I've been here 1 8 years, I would like to go back, I don't know if I will. 
You have your businesses, people have families, you know, they cannot just pick 
up and leave. And they have gotten used to the way of Hfe here and that's their 

So these two communities need each other. And I'm not saying the Israelis should 
assimilate into the Jewish community and become Americans because they won't. 
Their children probably will, but they won't. And they can keep their uniqueness, 
but in total cooperation. I think that instead of having their divisive or divided 
Jewish community, we need to have one strong united community, because here, 
you're bringing new Israeli, precious Israeli blood into the Jewish Federation. The 
Federation will get stronger and I'm going to tell you that some of the nicest 
people I know work in the Federation and it will do a hell of a lot of good for 
Israelis to meet these people and become one community. Not show the resent- 
ment of Americans to Israelis and IsraeHs see themselves as outsiders. I mean it 
will take time. This is not a process that will happen overnight, but it will happen. 

Reconsidering Israeli Immigrants' "Unique Status" 

While various studies have made much of Israelis' mixed feelings about 
being in the United States, even a cursory review of the literature demon- 
strates that the ambivalence of immigrants is far from unusual. The "so- 
journer" (temporary) perspective of Israeli migrants resembles that of many 
American immigrants, ranging from 19th-century Italians and Chinese to 


today's Caribbeans and Latin Americans."^ Indeed, the image of the patri- 
otic "new American," Stars and Stripes in hand, is far from the norm, even 
if it is a dominant cultural myth. 

A perceptive scholar noted recently that the popular notion that immi- 
grants came to the United States ready to assimilate "is a myth. The specter 
of 'Americanization' troubled more immigrants than historians have been 
willing to admit."'" Accordingly, if Israelis maintain a desire to return 
home, this outlook is neither unusual nor — judging from the experience 
of other migrant groups — does it preclude the possibility of their creating 
viable ethnic communities in the United States. 


Transnationalism, a new approach in the field of migration studies, en- 
ables us to understand better international migrant communities, which, 
like Israeli-Americans, maintain social, cultural, and economic links to 
other countries on a more or less permanent basis."" From the perspective 
of transnationalism, migration is a multilevel process rather than a discrete 
event consisting of a permanent move from one nation to another. This 
theory suggests that by retaining social, cultural, and economic links with 
multiple settings, people can avoid the impediments traditionally associated 
with long distances and international borders and remain intensely involved 
in the life of their country of origin, even though they no longer reside there. 

A number of factors make the movement of Israelis from the Jewish state 
to the United States relatively easy and suggest that Israelis might be 
considered a transnational people. They are well educated, often possessing 
occupational and cultural skills that are useful in both countries. They 
generally have access to networks in both countries that can provide a broad 
variety of services ranging from pretravel information to job opportunities, 
child care, housing, and social life. While some Israelis in the United States 
lack legal-resident status, as a group they are likely to become naturalized 
and are among a select few allowed to have dual citizenship.'" Even prior 
to migration, Israelis are apt to be familiar with American society from their 

'"Leonard Dinnerstein, Roger L. Nichols, and David M. Reimers, Natives and Strangers: 
Blacks, Indians and Immigrants in America, 2nd ed. (New York, 1990); Alejandro Portes and 
Ruben Rumbaut, Immigrant America: A Portrait (Berkeley, 1990). 

'"Dinnerstein et al., p. 139. 

'"Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, and Cristina Blanc-Szanton, "Transnationalism: A 
New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration," in Towards a Transnational Perspec- 
tive on Migration: Race, Class, Ethnicity and Nationalism Reconsidered, ed. Schiller, Basch, 
and Blanc-Szanton (New York, 1992), pp. 1 - 24. 

'"Guillermina Jasso and Mark R. Rosenzweig, The New Chosen People: Immigrants in the 
United States (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1990). 


exposure to popular culture, American visitors, and intergovernmental rela- 
tions. As Sobel put it, "America, it might be posited, has become the alter 
ego of Israel in political, economic, and cultural terms.'"" 

A large proportion of the Israeli population has resided in the Jewish 
state for fewer than two or at most three generations. Accordingly, their 
family lore and cultural background are rich in stories of life in other 
settings as well as techniques for coping with the challenges that displace- 
ment presents. Many emigres we interviewed had lived in other countries 
— as wide-ranging as Japan and Hong Kong, Switzerland, England, Italy, 
South Africa, and Latin America — prior to their settlement in the United 
States. This group included not only professionals and high-level entrepre- 
neurs but also less skilled and educated migrants such as carpenters and 
restaurant workers. Hence, many Israelis possess a cultural orientation and 
life experience compatible with an existence beyond the borders of the 
Jewish state. 

Finally, while the hterature asserts that transnational groups are often 
lacking a vocabulary to describe their experience — "Individuals, commu- 
nities, or states rarely identify themselves as transnational" — Jews are in 
fact accustomed to seeing themselves in this way.'" "Extranational" iden- 
tity is expressed when non-Israelis proclaim themselves to be Zionists, when 
Jews say "next year in Jerusalem" during the Passover Seder, when they 
refer to "world Jewry," or when Jewish famihes who had lived in Poland 
for generations refuse to identify themselves as Polish. 

Further facilitating Israeli-American transnationalism are the good polit- 
ical relations and extensive links between the United States and Israel. The 
U.S. government and American Jewish agencies have developed an active 
presence in the Jewish state. American firms have branches there, and 
American companies sometimes hire professional and skilled workers di- 
rectly from Israel. At the same time, Israeli government agencies, banks, 
and industrial enterprises have offices in New York, Los Angeles, and other 
American settings. These not only inject an Israeli flavor into the American 
environment but also provide employment for migrants."* At the same 
time, we noted a variety of Israeli-oriented activities that allow migrants to 
maintain a semblance of Israeli life in the United States. 

Travel between the two countries is easily arranged. Israeli immigrants 
often report making frequent trips from the United States to Israel, and it 
is not uncommon for children to return to Israel to spend summer vacations 
with relatives. A Los Angeles obstetrician describes the great value he 
places on his trips back to Israel: 

'"Sobel, Migrants from the Promised Land. 

'"Schiller, Basch, and Blanc-Szanton, "Transnationalism," p. 8. 

'"Sobel, Migrants from the Promised Land, p. 196. 


I was talking to my accountant two days ago — he is also an Israeli — he says 
"What is going on?" And I said "What can I tell you, we are in a concentration 
camp." Okay — this is the way you describe it, and it is so true. We are in a 
concentration camp and we get a relief once a year when we go to Israel for a 
vacation. This is the bottom line. 

Sociologist Zvi Sobel, in his 1981 - 1982 pretravel survey of 117 Israeli 
emigrants (most of whom planned to enter the United States), found evi- 
dence of a transnational outlook. About half denied "that leaving Israel and 
moving to the U.S. was an act of emigration." Instead, they defined the 
travel as "temporary" or "commuting." Moreover, "almost all interviewees 
denied that their leaving meant a cessation of contributing to the develop- 
ment of Israel. . . Almost all saw their departure as ... to Israel's good.""" 

In all of the ways cited, the context, history, and culture of Israel have 
prepared its citizens for transnationalism. For some individuals, at least, the 
distinction between being an Israeli or being an American may not be nearly 
as clear-cut as the literature on international migration generally suggests. 
Instead, such factors as flexible notions of ethnic and national identity, 
access to and participation in social and occupational networks, and the 
ability of people to sustain cultural competence and legal status in more 
than a single society allow these individuals to maintain meaningful forms 
of involvement in multiple national settings at one time. 

While transnationalism is a reality for many Israelis, this does not mean 
that it is an easy way of life. Even as these migrants build communities and 
networks that help them cope with the social and cultural dimensions of ties 
to two places, and enjoy the economic benefits of migration, most are not 
quite comfortable with this status. In the words of a Los Angeles accoun- 
tant: "Israel is my mother and America is my wife, so you can imagine the 
way I must feel." 


The presence of Israeli immigrants in the United States provides the 
world Jewish community with unique challenges. While American Jews 
have achieved a long and enviable record in aiding their co-ethnics, Israelis 
have been largely excluded from this tradition. This is linked to American 
Jews' support for Israel as the national home of the Jewish people — a 
country that fellow Jews should go to but never think of leaving. The 
emigres themselves, who seldom conceive of themselves as permanent im- 
migrants, have also discouraged being incorporated into the American 
Jewish community. During the late 1970s, hostile statements and inflated 

"Ibid., p. 209. 


population estimates reflected the low esteem with which Israelis in the 
United States were regarded by both the Israeli authorities and the Ameri- 
can Jewish establishment. 

Differences in religious, national, and cultural identity, language, and 
other factors also separate American Jews and Israelis. However, following 
the recent change in Israeli government policy toward its expatriates, the 
American Jewish community has become more open to these migrants. As 
a result, several informal and formal programs to both support and include 
these migrants have been established. 

This new perspective has also permitted the American Jewish community 
to notice that, in contrast to statements depicting Israeli emigres as a 
marginal and ahenated noncommunity, Israelis have already become in- 
volved in American Jewish life — living in Jewish neighborhoods, working 
in traditionally Jewish occupations, supporting communal institutions, and 
serving as teachers and communal functionaries. 

An important contribution made by Israelis, along with other Jewish 
immigrants, is the role they play in retaining the Jewish character of older 
Jewish neighborhoods. Recent arrivals occupy real estate, patronize shops, 
purchase existing neighborhood businesses, and create new ones. They 
attend neighborhood synagogues and public and day schools and congre- 
gate in local parks. For example, in Los Angeles, directly across Robertson 
Boulevard from the Workmen's Circle building (Workmen's Circle is a 
fraternal secular/socialist organization created by European Jewish immi- 
grants early in this century) is located the relatively new Orthodox Gan 
Chabad Israeli program, staffed by a Yemeni rabbi. In like manner, Hebrew 
and Farsi conversations echo Yiddish ones of decades past in the garment 
center and jewelry districts. One can see Israelis and other Jewish migrants 
talking over news of American Jewish life, just as East Europeans did early 
in this century. In this way, they are maintaining but also transforming the 
institutions of Jewish life, changing the nature of the American Jewish 

Despite the sometimes stigmatized status of Israelis and their own reluc- 
tance to consider themselves immigrants, Israehs as a group have done 
relatively well in their social and economic adjustment to the United States. 
Their community has many accomplishments to show in entrepreneurship, 
the arts, the professions, and the academy. Further, they have created a 
number of community organizations, some of which benefit not only Israelis 
but the larger American Jewish community as well. For example, the Israeli 
film festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and elsewhere are 
important events for Israelis, American Jews, and film buffs of all stripes. 
This is but one example of Israelis providing a vital communal service to 
the entirety of a Jewish community. As Jewish fund-raisers discover that 


Israelis are both affluent and strongly Jewish, the notion of an Israeli 
division of the local Jewish federation no longer appears to be an oxymoron, 
as it did only a decade ago. 

Despite their presence in the United States, Israeli emigres tend to main- 
tain a strongly positive view of their country of origin. They keep abreast 
of Israeli issues, maintain contact with Israeli friends and relatives, and visit 
frequently. When they become U.S. citizens, eligible to vote in U.S. elec- 
tions, their central political concern is supporting Israel. 

Given the accomplishments of Israeli immigrants in the United States 
and the newly benign attitude with which they are regarded by both Israel 
and American Jewry, it is not unreasonable to predict a positive future for 
them, one yielding many benefits for the relations between Israel and Amer- 
ican Jews — in contrast to the negative feelings surrounding their presence 
in the recent past. 

Finally, as we evaluate the place of Israeli immigrants in American 
society, it might be worthwhile to look for parallels in the long history of 
Jewish migration to the United States. Throughout the 19th century and 
into the 20th, the European Jewish elite — including both its rabbinical and 
intellectual wings — condemned America as a place unsuited for Jews. 
Their reason? American Jews were not concerned with religious traditions 
but only with personal gain. Writing from San Francisco for a journal 
published in Russia in the 1880s, Hebrew scholar Zvi Falk Widawer as- 
serted, "Jews came here only to achieve the purpose which occupied their 
entire attention in the land of their birth. That purpose was money." A few 
years later, a similar report appeared in an Orthodox journal from Galicia, 
railing that "[t]he younger generation has inherited nothing from their 
parents except what they need to make their way in this world; every 
spiritual teaching is foreign to them."'^" 

As these quotations indicate, two of the major accusations leveled at 
Israeli emigrants in the 1970s and 1980s — that they were obsessed with 
material gain and that their children would lose their Jewish identity — 
were leveled at European Jews in the United States by the elites in their 
home countries a full century before. During the same period, voices were 
also raised in both Europe and the United States against Jewish migration 
to what would eventually become Israel. In the 1920s and '30s, Elazar 
Shapira, a European Hassidic leader, preached that both America's materi- 
alism and Jerusalem's secular Zionism were "gates to hell."'^' 

'"Arthur Hertzberg, The Jews in America: Four Centuries of an Uneasy Encounter: A History 
(New York, 1989), pp. 156-57. 
'^'Ibid., p. 158. 


These historical observations highlight the fact that international migra- 
tion has always presented a major challenge to the Jewish status quo, and 
that while it seldom occurs without acrimonious debate, it also opens new 
horizons of growth and potential. 






United States 

National Affairs 

X HE PERIOD 1994 AND the first half of 1995 was a watershed for many 
of the core concerns of the American Jewish community. Not least of the portents 
of change was the upheaval in the U.S. Congress, with Republicans taking control 
of both houses for the first time in 40 years. Troubling rumblings continued during 
this period in the relationship between the black and Jewish communities, most 
especially — from the Jewish perspective — in the inadequate response of many black 
leaders to expressions of anti-Semitism by Nation of Islam spokesmen and others. 
Also on the agenda were church-state issues, relations with other religious and 
ethnic communities, and terrorist attacks in Israel, the United States, and abroad. 


Congressional Elections 

Throughout 1994 there were indications that the pohtical chmate was unusually 
volatile. A growing number of incumbents, in what would turn out to be near-record 
proportions, dechned to seek reelection. One of the most notable of these was Sen. 
Howard Metzenbaum (D., Ohio), a longtime champion of many foreign and domes- 
tic issues important to the Jewish community. 

As the 1994 elections approached, polling data suggested an increase in the 
general population's disaffection from the administration and the Congress. Many 
commentators suggested that one or both houses of Congress might be turned over 
to Republican control. In the end, the conjectures about possible changes in congres- 
sional leadership were vastly understated. On November 8, 1994 — for the first time 
in 40 years — the electorate handed over control of both houses of Congress to the 
Republican Party. As the smoke cleared, and before taking into account the switch 
by several members in both houses from the Democratic to the Republican column 
(a phenomenon that began immediately after the election with Alabama senator 
Richard Shelby's change of party on November 9 and continued throughout 1995), 
Republicans had a majority of 230-204 — with one independent — in the House of 
Representatives and 52-48 in the Senate. 



The 104th Congress elected in 1994 included a total of nine Jewish senators and 
23 representatives, as compared to ten senators and 31 representatives in the 103rd 
Congress. The four Jewish senators up for reelection — Dianne Feinstein (D., 
Calif), Herbert Kohl (D., Wis.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Joseph Lieber- 
man (D., Conn.) — all managed to survive sometimes tough races, with the reduc- 
tion by one ascribable to Senator Metzenbaum's retirement. In the House, however, 
there were a significant number of losses: Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D., Pa.), 
who lost to Republican Jon Fox, the only new Jewish member in the 104th Con- 
gress, Eric Fingerhut (D., Ohio), Dan Hamburg (D., Calif), Herb Klein (D., N.J.), 
Lynn Schenk (D., Calif), Dan Glickman (D., Kan.), and David Levy (R., N.Y.), 
who lost to a challenger in the Republican primary and ran as a third-party candi- 
date in the general election. Jewish returnees to the Congress whose races had been 
in doubt included Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) and Martin Frost (D., Tex.). Two Jewish 
members — Jane Harman (D., Calif) and Sam Gejdenson (D., Conn.) — prevailed 
with such slim margins that their victories were subjected to challenge after the 
election, but ultimately their claims to retain their seats were upheld or the chal- 
lenges withdrawn. 

The Republicans elected to the 104th Congress were, of course, not monolithic. 
Nevertheless, the broad policies and principles of that group, elaborated in the 
ten-point "Contract with America" on which many of them ran, made it immedi- 
ately evident that there would be a struggle between the Clinton administration and 
the Congress as to the future of domestic and foreign policy. For the Jewish commu- 
nity, which by and large voted Democratic and was politically active as part of a 
liberal-leaning coalition of ethnic, religious, urban, liberal, and labor groups, the 
election raised questions about the future of its domestic and foreign agenda. Some, 
in particular Jewish Republicans, argued that the election results presented another, 
even more fundamental question — whether the time had come for the Jewish com- 
munity to rethink some of the positions and alliances to which it had long been 
committed. They urged that more Jews begin to support the GOP or "be left 


The Republican majority's ascension to power was marked in its first half-year 
by marathon sessions, particularly in the House of Representatives, as leaders of that 
body moved to make good on their pledge to hold floor votes within the 104th 
Congress's first 100 days on the items described in the "Contract with America." 
While many aspects of the contract were not high on the Jewish community's 
agenda, pro or con, there were several items, such as proposals for welfare reform, 
as to which that community had substantial concerns. In addition, it was expected 
that various other troubling issues not part of the contract would arise later in the 
session, among them school prayer, repeal of the assault weapons ban passed by the 
103rd Congress, immigration reform, and foreign aid. 


To be sure, there were several areas in which the Jewish community had reason 
to hope for support in the new Congress, such as aid for Israel, antiterrorism 
legislation, and the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. Further, that part of the 
Jewish community which supported vouchers for parochial and other private educa- 
tion had reason to expect support from the 104th Congress. Some argued that 
representative Jewish agencies had become too identified with a liberal agenda, and, 
in particular, that of the Democratic Party. At the February 1995 plenum of the 
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC), an umbrella 
organization encompassing 117 local and 13 national agencies, a past chairman of 
one local council complained that "our organization is viewed as the liberal wing 
of the Democratic Party, and as such we are less and less relevant." 

The Religious Right 

The rising political strength of the religious right was tellingly demonstrated by 
the results of the 1994 election. Even before 1994 it was widely accepted that the 
role of the religious right in the Republican Party was a significant reason why 
American Jews, alone among non-Hispanic whites, continued to vote by such strong 
majorities for Democrats. Nothing about the campaigns of 1994 nor the clear role 
of the religious right in its result alleviated those concerns. 

Thus, 1994 saw Christian "religious right" groups achieve substantial success 
within state Republican parties in procuring the nomination of candidates represent- 
ing their viewpoints, most notably the nomination of Oliver North as the Republican 
candidate for senator from Virginia. The Republican National Committee estimated 
that persons affiliated with the religious right constituted as much as 25 percent of 
the party's active members, even though they were not even 12 percent of the total 
party membership. 

Jewish concern over the increased influence of the religious right within the 
Republican Party was not simply a function of differences over particular political 
issues. Rather, there was a substantial fear that the religious right's apparent opposi- 
tion to the principle of separation of church and state — articulated by some in the 
religious right as a belief that the United States is a "Christian nation" — constituted 
a threat to religious pluralism in America. Of course, these concerns were not solely 
those of the Jewish community. With the growing strength of the religious right, 
the opposition attempted to better mobilize at the grassroots level, including projects 
to identify candidates for school-board seats and other local bodies with ties to the 
religious right. Increasingly, these grassroots efforts were undertaken by local 
groups in coordination with national groups as part of a unified strategy. 

Leaders of the Jewish community, both within and without the Republican Party, 
sought assurances during the summer of 1994 from Republican National Committee 
chairman Haley Barbour that the Republican leadership shared their concerns. 
Instead, Barbour denied that there was any danger of a "takeover" of the Republi- 
can Party. In another forum, he asserted that those raising alarms of an assault on 


the Republican Party by the religious right were themselves engaged in a "Christian- 
bashing campaign," seeking to use the religious right as a wedge issue to drive voters 
away from the Republican Party. 

This response was exemplified by the controversy that arose in the summer of 
1994 after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published The Religious Right: The 
Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America. Conservative columnists and reli- 
gious-right groups accused the ADL of anti-Christian bigotry and of working on 
behalf of the Democratic Party to undermine Republican candidates. For its part, 
the Christian Coalition — a political organization founded by Pat Robertson in 1989 
that is closely identified with the religious right's agenda — steadfastly maintained 
that it was, in any event, not a partisan organization, and that its members would 
support candidates from either party so long as those candidates' views were consist- 
ent with the coalition's policy positions. In August the Christian Coalition cir- 
culated to its membership, members of Congress, and the media a 29-page docu- 
ment, "A Campaign of Falsehoods: The Anti-Defamation League's Defamation of 
Religious Conservatives," refuting the ADL report. 

Questions as to the implications of religious-right activism for the Republican 
Party did not all come from outside the GOP. In a late October speech before the 
Anti-Defamation League, Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), who is Jewish, warned of 
far-right excesses as exemplified when delegates to the 1994 Texas Republican 
convention held up signs saying, "A vote for [a named candidate] is a vote for God." 
He also took on Christian Coalition president Pat Robertson when, in April 1995, 
he disputed as "flatly untrue" Robertson's claims that he had never called the 
United States a "Christian nation." Nevertheless, Specter indicated at various points 
his difference with many in the Jewish community in his estimate that what he 
termed the "far-right fringe" constituted no more than 5 percent of Republican 
voters. In addition, he criticized the ADL's 1994 report as "painted with too broad 
a brush in comments that could be construed as critical of religious citizens' partici- 
pation in politics and public life." Senator Specter's differences with the religious 
right became a theme of the campaign for president that he launched in 1995. 

Not all Jewish groups perceived the Jewish community's interests as antithetical 
to those of the religious right. Americans for a Safe Israel pointed to the religious 
right's support for Israel as a reason for American Jews to adopt a less confronta- 
tional attitude toward that political movement. On August 2, 1994, a group of 75 
Jewish conservatives, many of whom were aligned with the Christian Coalition on 
such issues as efforts to limit the size of government and opposition to teaching about 
homosexuality in public schools, signed onto an advertisement in the New York 
Times that called the ADL publication "defamation" and "bigotry." The advertise- 
ment was taken out by Toward Tradition, a group founded by Rabbi David Lapin 
to provide a forum for Jewish conservatives. Rabbi Lapin regularly appeared at 
meetings of the Christian Coalition, and Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition's 
executive director, appeared at the Toward Tradition conference held in Washing- 
ton, D.C. in October 1994. 


A separate but related issue was the accusation made by some Jewish leaders that 
the religious right was linked to anti-Semitic elements. Thus, the ADL report cited 
writings and statements of Pat Robertson in which he attacked Jews for persecuting 
Christians and warned that they were endangering Christian support for Israel. 
Another much-cited article by Robertson had him making a comparison between 
the "plight" of evangelical Christians in the United States and that of Jews under 
the Nazi regime. In a June 22, 1994 letter, Robertson asserted that what he described 
as "false charges of anti-Semitism" were "an obvious attempt to discredit the role 
of people of faith in the civic process." ADL national director Abraham Foxman 
responded in a letter of July 1 3 that his organization's focus was "on pohtical 
positions and statements held by the Coalition and other religious right groups on 
certain issues — not with the role of religious people in the civic process." 

An attempt to clear the air, or at least lower the level of rhetoric, took place in 
late November in the form of a Washington, D.C. "summit" between representa- 
tives from approximately 30 mainstream Jewish and rehgious right organizations. 
The conference was sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and 
Jews. At the end of the session, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the fellowship, 
said, "We agreed to disagree without maligning or impugning the motives or charac- 
ter of others," and also agreed to work on "finding a middle ground between 
theocracy and a naked public square." Representatives of Jewish organizations 
came away from the session feehng, for the most part, that it provided an opportu- 
nity for each side to Hsten to the other but not to arrive at agreement on the policy 
issues that divided them. (See also below, "Evangelical Christians.") 

In addition, during the first half of 1995, Ralph Reed, executive director of the 
Christian Coahtion, spoke before large gatherings of the Anti-Defamation League 
and the American Jewish Committee in an attempt to move the relationship of Jews 
and evangelical Christians "beyond the pain of the past and the uneasy tolerance 
of the present towards a genuine friendship in the future." Reed asserted that, while 
the coalition supported "voluntary, ecumenical and nondenominational" prayer at 
school functions, his organization did not favor prayer in classrooms because that 
is a "compulsory setting"; he also renounced the notion that the United States is 
a "Christian nation," stating that "the separation of church and state as an institu- 
tion is inviolable." Still, leaders of the Jewish organizations continued to express 

The prominent role of the religious right in the Republican Party was once again 
underUned when, on May 17, 1995, the Christian Coalition unveiled its "Contract 
with the American Family" at a Capitol Hill press conference. Sen. Phil Gramm 
(R., Tex.) and Speaker Newt Gingrich (R., Ga.) were among the Repubhcan leaders 
who appeared at that event to endorse the ten-point "contract." Modeled on the 
prior year's "Contract with America" and intended to press the Christian Coali- 
tion's social-issues agenda, the "Contract with the American Family" called for, 
among other things, a "religious equality" constitutional amendment, vouchers for 
private school education, a $500 per child annual tax credit, dismantling of the U.S. 


Department of Education, and anti-abortion measures. 

Many Jewish organizations and a number of other religious and civil-liberties 
groups, together with Democrats and some Republicans (including Senator 
Specter), were quick to condemn many of the "contract's" provisions. The Ameri- 
can Jewish Congress, at a press conference called by religious leaders opposing the 
initiative, termed the document a "Contract with Some of America's Families" that 
"runs roughshod over the diversity of American family and religious life." Orthodox 
Jewish groups, however, indicated that they would deal with the "contract" issue 
by issue, as they had in the past supported at least of some of its particulars. The 
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, for instance, supported vouchers even 
while it joined other Jewish organizations in opposing the constitutional amendment 
that the "contract" proposed. 

The Clinton Administration 

A sign of the friendly relationship between the Jewish community and the Clinton 
administration was the fact that President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham 
Clinton attended Rosh Hashanah services at a Martha's Vineyard synagogue in 
September 1994. The president, believed to be the first chief executive ever to attend 
a High Holy Days service, wished congregants "Shana Tovah," sang along with 
several of the prayers — using a transliterated prayer book — and listened as the 
congregation's rabbi blew a long blast on a shofar. It's "sort of like a Jewish 
saxophone," Rabbi Joshua Plaut explained to the president. 

In early December, President Clinton named Robert Rubin, one of his chief 
economic advisors and director of the National Economic Council, to replace Lloyd 
Bentsen as secretary of the treasury. This was followed later that month by the 
designation of Dan Glickman, who had been defeated in his bid for reelection to 
a Kansas congressional seat, to succeed Mike Espy as agriculture secretary. Taken 
together with sitting labor secretary Robert Reich, these appointments brought the 
number of Jewish members of the cabinet to three. Perhaps the most noteworthy 
aspect of the number of Jewish members at this high level of the administration was 
the lack of note that anybody — in the Jewish community or in the community at 
large — seemed to take of it. 

Also noteworthy was the Senate's confirmation in March 1995 of Martin Indyk, 
by voice vote and with no debate, as U.S. ambassador to Israel. The first Jew ever 
to serve in that position, the Australian-born Indyk was a former consultant for the 
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and founding executive direc- 
tor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank. 

(See also "Supreme Court Appointment," below.) 



On April 19, 1995, a car bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal 
office building in Oklahoma City, injuring hundreds and killing 177 in the worst act 
of terror committed on American soil in the nation's history. The casualties included 
15 dead children who attended a day-care center located on the second floor of the 
nine-story building. For days after the blast, the nation and the world watched, 
collective breath held in the agonized hope that survivors would be found in the 
building's ruins. 

While law-enforcement officials and Jewish agencies were quick to caution against 
any rush to judgment as to responsibility for the blast, there was immediate specula- 
tion — based in part on similarities to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — of 
some connection to radical Islamic fundamentalism. But there were other specula- 
tions as well. Nine days before the attack, the American Jewish Committee, in a 
report issued by Kenneth Stem, its program specialist on anti-Semitism and extrem- 
ism, had warned that April 19 — the two-year anniversary of the raid that led to the 
destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas — "is a day of 
extreme importance to the militia movement." Stern's warning proved sadly pre- 
scient, as, within days of the attack, federal authorities arrested a suspect, Timothy 
McVeigh, a man with links to paramiHtary groups. Also held for questioning were 
Terry and James Nichols, brothers and friends of McVeigh, the former of whom 
was ultimately charged as well. 

The Oklahoma City bombing focused public attention on the militia movement, 
which claimed the loyalty of more than 10,000 members in at least 13 states. Many 
of these groups subscribe to a virulently antigovernment ideology linked to paranoid 
theories of conspiracy. This ideology — which Stern characterized as "really a re- 
write of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in which "anti-Semitism is recast as 
anti-govemmentalism" — views the federal government as fundamentally illegiti- 
mate and engaged in a concealed eff"ort to cede American sovereignty to interna- 
tional authority. Although the militia leaders were to some extent allied with such 
hate groups as the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan, their ideology targeted 
the U.S. government and not necessarily blacks, Jews, or foreigners. 

The need to address the threat of terrorism and the desire to strengthen the hand 
of law-enforcement authorities — if necessary — in combatting the activities of ter- 
rorists were on the agenda of Jewish groups and public officials even before the 
events in Oklahoma City. In March 1994 the House Banking Committee approved 
an amendment sponsored by Rep. Douglas Bereuter (R., Neb.) and Peter Deutsch 
(D., Fla.) to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation with access, for investiga- 
tory purposes, to the credit reports of terrorists and terrorist groups. These questions 
were also taken up by the Clinton administration, which, in the latter part of 1994, 
began to seek ways to stop the flow of millions of dollars annually from the United 
States to Islamic extremist terrorists in the Middle East. At the same time, an 
eight-agency federal task force formed after the World Trade Center bombing — 


including representatives of the State Department, FBI, Justice Department, and 
White House — was charged with putting together a proposed package of antiterror- 
ism legislation to deal with those areas for which it concluded the law was inade- 

As 1995 began, the Clinton administration acted on the work done by its inter- 
agency task force. With pubHc attention heightened by the terrorist bombing at Beit 
Lid Junction in Israel on January 22, the administration announced a ban on 
charitable contributions to 12 Middle East terrorist groups and the freezing of their 
assets in the United States. The action, applauded by many in the Jewish commu- 
nity, encompassed Arab groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and two Jewish 
militant groups, Kach and Kahane Chai. At about the same time, the administration 
unveiled its proposal for omnibus antiterrorism legislation intended to strengthen 
the hand of law-enforcement authorities. 

Formally introduced in Congress on February 10, 1995, the omnibus bill included 
provisions for expanding federal jurisdiction over terrorist acts in the United States 
and abroad; special closed-door handling of classified information in deportation 
hearings for aliens accused of terrorist activity; restricting transfer of funds to 
organizations designated by the president as engaged in terrorist activities; and 
relaxing of the standards under which law-enforcement officials may launch and 
continue investigations of persons suspected of supporting terrorist activity. Even 
as the bill was introduced, its sponsors noted that there were constitutional concerns 
about certain of the initiative's provisions and promised to address those as hearings 
went forward. Many Jewish groups expressed their support for the initiative, al- 
though some noted civil liberties concerns about certain aspects of the legislation, 
Those concerns were expressed more vociferously by a variety of civil rights and 
ethnic organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Na- 
tional Association of Arab Americans, which urged that the bill should be defeated 
as a blatant violation of constitutional protection. 

The smoke from the Oklahoma City bombing had not yet cleared before calls 
issued for swift passage of the pending legislation, and the administration proposed 
a revised version of the bill, with additional provisions intended to strengthen the 
ability of law-enforcement authorities to counter domestic terrorism. 

As the legislation moved through the hearing and mark-up process in both 
houses, new versions were substituted by the House and Senate leadership for those 
introduced at the behest of the administration. The Anti-Defamation League and 
the American Jewish Committee were among the most prominent voices in the 
Jewish community calling for strong legislation to respond to the threat of terrorism, 
both following up on their respective initiatives in late 1994 in which each had 
proposed a multipoint program of responses at international and domestic levels. 
The two organizations had different approaches, however, to the specific legislative 
packages moving through Congress. The ADL urged certain changes in response 
to the constitutional concerns that had been raised, but wanted to see the antiterror- 
ism legislation enacted whether or not those changes were made. The AJCommittee 


more strongly expressed its civil-liberties concerns, noting in testimony before Con- 
gress that there were many urgently needed provisions in the bills but that other 
provisions it could not support "as written." 

On June 7, 1 995, the Senate passed a substantially revised version of the legisla- 
tion, introduced by Sen. Bob Dole (R., Kan.) and shepherded by Sen. Orrin Hatch 
(R., Utah), that went some distance in addressing civil-liberties concerns. By the 
reckoning of some in the Jewish community it went too far in that direction, raising 
doubts, for example, that the bar on fund-raising by or for "designated" organiza- 
tions would even be enforceable. On the other hand, many in the Jewish community 
were alarmed at the Senate-passed bill's inclusion of provisions that would vitiate 
the role of the federal courts as a protector of constitutional rights in state criminal 
proceedings. On the House side, on June 20, the Judiciary Committee approved a 
substitute prepared by Chairman Henry Hyde (R., 111.) by a vote of 23- 12, a tally 
that reflected support and opposition from both sides of the aisle. As with the Senate 
bill, it made improvements vis-a-vis some civil-liberties concerns but left others 

Soviet Jewry, Refugees, and Immigration 

The organized Jewish community continued its long-standing commitment to 
maintain legislation that allowed Jews from the former Soviet Union to obtain 
asylum in the United States without, in each case, having to satisfy the individual- 
ized burden of proof that is usually applicable to those who seek refugee status. The 
legislation in question, first enacted in 1990 and generally known as the "Lautenberg 
Amendment," afforded this eased standard to refugees considered members of 
"historically persecuted groups," a status that encompassed not only Soviet Jews but 
also, among others, some Indochinese. The amendment was extended through fiscal 
1 996 by Congress in 1 994, but by mid- 1 99 5 a proposed extension through fiscal! 997 
had not yet been passed. 

At the same time, because of a $100-million budget shortfall, the U.S. Immigra- 
tion and Naturalization Office announced in June 1994 that beginning on July 1, 
the number of refugee interviews would be nearly halved from 84 a day to 48. By 
June 1995 it was noted that some 25,000 Jews were expected to arrive over the 
course of the year from the former Soviet Union, as compared to the 32,000 permit- 
ted entry under prevailing law. 

For the first time ever, Russia was declared by the president in 1994 to be in 
compliance with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, thereby exempting Russia from 
the annual presidential review of its emigration practices that the statutory provision 
would otherwise require. Although Jewish groups had earlier in the year opposed 
a repeal of Jackson-Vanik, they by and large supported the president's September 
action as "appropriate." "It's about recognizing progress when progress takes 
place," said Mark Levin, executive director of the National Conference on Soviet 
Jewry. It was noted by Jewish representatives that Jackson-Vanik would remain in 


effect should the improvement in treatment of Jews by the Russian government not 

The 104th Congress brought Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.) to the chair of the 
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, with Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Tex.) 
chairing the House's counterpart subcommittee. From the start, both men pushed 
proposals to cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States each year 
by more than 50 percent, with substantial reductions also contemplated for the 
number of immigrants to be allowed into the country and the elimination of certain 
relatives of American citizens from eligibility for family reunification. Alarmed at 
the impact these initiatives would have on Jewish refugee programs and motivated 
by a long-standing general commitment to fair and generous immigration policies, 
the Council of Jewish Federations and a number of other Jewish organizations 
mobilized in opposition. 

Jewish concern about U.S. treatment of refugees was not limited to those fleeing 
persecution in the former Soviet Union. A coalition of 1 6 Jewish local and national 
organizations supported the efforts of Haitian refugees fleeing from their island 
country's military regime to be granted status as political refugees or, if not ulti- 
mately granted asylum status, to be afforded "safe haven," possibly in a third 
country. The situation changed completely, and these urgings were largely mooted, 
when, in September 1994, the ruling junta — in the face of an imminent American 
invasion — agreed to depart the country and allow deposed president Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide to return to power. 

The widely shared view within the Jewish community that the world generally, 
and the United States in particular, was not responding adequately to the atrocities 
in Bosnia — heightened by that community's sense of a special obligation to speak 
out because of the Jewish people's experiences during the Holocaust — continued to 
manifest itself throughout 1994 and into the next year. Thus, the National Hillel 
Foundation conceived, and played a leading role in organizing, a national day of 
education on college campuses early in the year about the Bosnian civil war and its 
implications. On February 1 6, 1 994, approximately 200 Jews gathered outside the 
White House and listened to the blowing of shofars intended to draw greater 
attention to the ongoing crisis. The American Jewish Congress used the occasion 
to reiterate its call for stronger U.S. action to combat the "ethnic cleansing" being 
carried out by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims. The American Jewish Committee, 
which had earlier sought a more direct and active U.S. involvement, urged in 
December 1994 that the U.S. government and the international community take a 
more active role in ending "ethnic cleansing" and Serb military aggression. 

In the meantime, Jewish organizations engaged in efforts to help victims of the 
violence in Bosnia. Some of these initiatives, such as Hesed International's, were 
meant to provide general relief for the populace at large, while others, such as 
American ORT's, were intended to assist Jewish victims of the conflict. The Hebrew 
Immigrant Aid Society and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago estab- 
lished a joint program to resettle Bosnian Muslim refugees in Chicago. 


Foreign Aid 

Much of the Jewish community was committed to the maintenance of foreign aid, 
both out of concern to preserve aid to Israel at its prevailing $3-billion-a-year level 
and in the belief that the modest level of U.S. foreign aid serves the national interest. 
Throughout 1994, the pro-Israel constituency kept a close watch over proposals by 
the Clinton administration to overhaul the nation's foreign aid program so as to link 
the aid to broad international concerns, as opposed to the existing practice of 
designating specific amounts of aid for specific countries. By year's end, however, 
there had been little movement in the direction sketched out by the administration. 

With the arrival of a new Congress, the weight of concern over the future of 
foreign aid shifted to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. There seemed little 
danger that Israel would be denied the $3 billion in direct assistance recommended 
by the administration in February 1995, but other portions of the foreign aid 
package were quickly placed in question. The Jewish community, generally support- 
ive of foreign aid, was split as to how to respond to legislation that gave the 
community what it wanted on aid to Israel but not in other crucial areas. AIPAC 
urged Congress to vote for the package; the American Jewish Committee, in con- 
trast, advised legislators that, notwithstanding the provision for aid to Israel at 
current levels, the agency could not support a bill that so slashed foreign aid. By 
June 1995 the U.S. Congress had passed an authorization bill that drastically cut 
foreign aid other than to participants in the Middle East peace process. In an 
unusual turnaround, it carried only because of Republican support. Many Demo- 
crats, including the pro-Israel Congressional Black Caucus and Jewish House mem- 
bers, voted against it, arguing that, together with its other flaws, it would undermine 
future aid to Israel. The president vetoed the authorization bill, leaving Congress 
to set foreign aid levels for the coming year in the foreign aid appropriations bill. 

Arab Boycott 

As the peace process continued, there were signs that the Arab boycott against 
Israel, in place since the Jewish state's founding in 1948, was beginning to deterio- 
rate, particularly the "secondary" and "tertiary" boycotts directed at companies 
doing business with Israel and not at the state itself Nevertheless, it remained 
necessary for the U.S. Commerce Department to bring enforcement actions for 
violations of American law prohibiting cooperation with the boycott. In May 1994 
the Atlanta branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro paid a civil fine of $475,000 for 
providing information to Iraqi banks about foreign companies' relationships with 
Israel and for its failure to report to the Commerce Department on requests for 
boycott-related information from various Arab countries. At various times through- 
out the year, the Commerce Department continued to announce the levy of fines 
assessed against U.S. companies for allegedly complying with the boycott. 

A sign of the times: in October 1994 the American Jewish Congress announced 


that after 18 years it would be ending publication of its Boycott Report , a newsletter 
that kept tabs on the Arab boycott and steps taken against it. "We think the boycott 
is on its last legs," said AJCongress general counsel Will Maslow, the guiding hand 
behind the newsletter from its beginning. AJCongress indicated that it would instead 
be issuing a new publication, this time focused on radical Islamic fundamentalism. 
Similarly, the inclusion of antiboycott provisions in the House-considered version 
of legislation to ratify the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade drew only 
cursory support, if at all, from Jewish groups. 


Assessing Anti-Semitism 

The Anti-Defamation League released its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents 
in early 1994 and 1995. The 1,867 incidents reported for 1993, as compared with 
1985's 1,044 incidents, was the highest number since 1980, the year ADL began 
preparing the audit; the 1 994 report saw yet another increase, this time to 2,066 
incidents. A particularly troublesome trend was the increase in numbers of incidents 
reported on college campuses: 122 incidents on 81 campuses for 1993 and 143 
incidents on 79 campuses for 1994, as compared to 114 incidents on 60 campuses 
in 1992. 

While the number of incidents reported in these audits reached a new high, the 
number of reported incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and violence declined in 1993 
for the third straight year — only to rise to 869 in 1994, a higher number than in 
recent years. Commenting on the 1994 numbers, Jerome Chanes, co-director for 
domestic concerns of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, 
asserted that, notwithstanding the new high in overall incidents, "you have a very 
dramatic, well-documented decline in attitudinal anti-Semitism over many years 
which continues. [But] the relatively few individuals who harbor anti-Jewish atti- 
tudes have had in recent years a greater propensity to act out their views." 

Also released in the first part of 1994 was the annual Hate Crimes Report of the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation for the year 1992, according to which Jews were 
by far the most frequent targets of hate crimes based on religion. Crimes against 
Jews constituted an overwhelming 87 percent of all reported crimes motivated by 
bias against religious groups, with crimes motivated by religious bias making up 15.4 
percent of all hate crimes reported. Anti- Jewish crimes made up 13.4 percent of all 
hate crimes of any category, followed (not very closely) by anti-Protestant crimes 
at 0.4 percent and anti-Mushm crimes at 0.2 percent. 

The process by which the FBI compiled its report was open to criticism. Collected 
pursuant to the directive of the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act, the information 
upon which the report relies was collected from state and local law-enforcement 
authorities on a voluntary basis. Fewer than half the nation's law-enforcement 


agencies provided information on hate crimes for 1992. Moreover, for some states 
the numbers were so low as to suggest that the standards propounded by the FBI 
as to what does and does not constitute a hate crime had not been fully understood 
and applied by the responsible agencies. 

Notwithstanding the apparent recent upward trend in acts of anti-Semitism, there 
were other indications of a long-term favorable trend. A report published by the 
American Jewish Committee in June 1994 indicated that anti-Semitism in the 
United States had decreased appreciably over the last half-century, and that circum- 
stances were not ripe for its resurgence. The author of the report, Tom W. Smith, 
director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center, 
University of Chicago, reviewed public-opinion polls going back to 1948 and found 
that, while "virulent anti-Semitism persists among fringe hate groups," it lacked a 
"critical mass" to become significant in the general population. Rather, the indica- 
tions were that over the decades there have been "direct or indirect decreases in 
anti-Semitism." Nevertheless, the report cautioned that "Jews are still recognized 
as an ethnic and religious group and are evaluated as such. While stereotypes have 
ebbed and social distance has narrowed, anti-Semitic prejudices still survive and 
anti-Semitic activities are all too common." 

Acts of Violence 

There was substantial concern about the potential for violence against Jews after 
the February 25, 1994, murder by a Jewish settler of over 40 Arabs praying in a 
mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Security was tightened at Jewish 
institutions around the country in the wake of the shooting, especially so in New 
York, where jury deliberations had begun in the trial of several of the persons 
accused in the World Trade Center bombing. 

The validity of these fears seemed borne out the very week after the massacre with 
the drive-by shooting attack on a van of Lubavitch Hassidim en route to Brooklyn 
from Manhattan, reportedly by an Arab male who shouted "Death to the Jews" as 
he fired. Of four victims injured in the shooting, one, 15-year-old Ari Halberstam, 
later died; another, 18-year-old Nochum Sossonkin, was injured so seriously that 
his later substantial (if not complete) recovery and return home were hailed as 
nothing less than a miracle by his community. 

Police quickly arrested and charged Rashid Baz, a 28-year-old Lebanese national, 
in the shooting. There was immediate concern that the American Arab community 
not be stigmatized by this incident. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stressed that "this act 
of evil is not the act of a people, it's the act of a person or persons," a point that 
was made by the Jewish community as well. Baz was convicted of murder and 
attempted murder at trial, and in January 1995 was sentenced to a total of 141 years 
and eight months. 

A Torah academy in suburban Chicago was gutted in a late January 1994 arson, 
a crime in which three Palestinians were charged. The fire was allegedly set in 


protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians. It was one of five separate acts of 
vandalism and arson that took place on the same date, but no connection was 
conclusively established. The incident was condemned by local public officials and 
community organizations, including local Arab leaders. 

In March 1994 Kansas City police arrested three young men who had engaged 
in a two-month rash of anti-Semitic vandalism. These acts of vandahsm included 
spray-painting graffiti at two synagogues and a shopping mall and planting a Molo- 
tov cocktail — that failed to explode — at a local Chabad House. While there was no 
initial evidence that the arrested youths (two of them young enough to be referred 
to juvenile court) were connected to any hate group, the spray-painted slogans 
reflected awareness of the organized white supremacist movement (these included 
a shield, the symbol of the Aryan Nations movement, and the words "White Power" 
with a line through the "o"). 

Two members of local skinhead gangs in Eugene, Oregon, were arrested in April 
for their role in a drive-by shooting in which bullets went through two stained-glass 
windows of a local synagogue. Representatives of several local churches and com- 
munity groups, including the NAACP and the Eugene Human Rights Commission, 
made a show of support at a press conference held the day after the shooting, and 
local Christian leaders held nightly vigils at the synagogue for several days thereaf- 
ter. In other incidents, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated twice in two months in 
Bayside, Queens, in New York City, with approximately 50 headstones knocked 
over and anti-Semitic epithets such as "kill the Jews" and "hate Jews" scrawled on 

A long-standing, but declining, Jewish community was dealt a harsh blow when, 
in July 1994, the Congregation Derech Emunoh synagogue in the Arveme section 
of Queens, New York, was gutted in an early-morning arson fire. That same week, 
a synagogue on Chicago's North Side was hit by a makeshift bomb, with minimal 
damage, yet another in a series of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism in that neighbor- 

An 18-year-old case of anti-Semitic murder was resolved in November 1994 when 
a white supremacist, already sentenced to life in prison for the murder of four other 
people, confessed to the 1977 killing of a Jewish St. Louis resident. Joseph Paul 
Franklin admitted that he had killed Gerald Gordon as he left a synagogue and 
wounded two other men in the attack, because he had "planned to kill as many Jews 
as he could that day." Franklin was charged with murder and related counts after 
the confession and could face the death penalty if convicted. Franklin was a former 
member of the Ku Klux Klan and a neo-Nazi party. 


On January 25, 1994, U.S. attorney general Janet Reno announced that the 
Justice Department was willing to empanel a federal grand jury to investigate the 
murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, the Hassidic scholar who was stabbed to death 


during the 1991 Crown Heights riots. This announcement received an ambivalent 
reaction from the New York Jewish community. While welcoming it as a step 
forward, many agreed with the comment of Judah Gribetz, president of the Jewish 
Community Relations Council of New York, that the inquiry was but an "important 
first step into the long overdue federal civil rights inquiry" into not just the Rosen- 
baum murder but also the Crown Heights riots generally. 

Similar ambivalence greeted the report in August 1994 that Lemrick Nelson, Jr., 
had been indicted on federal criminal charges of violating Rosenbaum's civil rights. 
Nelson, who was the only person ever arrested in connection with the Rosenbaum 
killing, was acquitted on state murder charges in 1992. Some in the Crown Heights 
community questioned whether, notwithstanding the indictment, federal investiga- 
tors were pursuing leads and interviewing witnesses vigorously enough. In addition, 
a spokesperson for the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, joined by a 
number of national Jewish organizations, called for indictments for the "hundreds 
of [other] acts of violence" that were committed against "Jewish citizens of Crown 
Heights" in the course of the riots. 

The continuing disappointment in the handling of the Rosenbaum case deepened 
in April 1995 with the decision by U.S. district court judge David Trager that 
Nelson would be tried as a juvenile. Various Jewish groups, area congressional 
representatives, and other local political leaders weighed in with statements asser- 
ting that the court had failed to treat this offense with the appropriate seriousness. 
If convicted after trial as a juvenile, Lemrick would be subject to a maximum 
sentence of five years, whereas if tried and convicted on all counts as an adult, he 
would receive a mandatory life sentence. In May 1 995 the Justice Department filed 
an appeal from Judge Trager's decision. 

Extremist Groups 

High-technology had come into play as a new means for promoting anti-Semi- 
tism, according to reports issued in 1994 by the London-based Institute of Jewish 
Affairs (IJA). The IJA report asserted that electronic dissemination of anti-Semitic 
material through computer networks and bulletin-board systems and distribution of 
anti-Semitic computer games, video cassettes, and radio and television programs 
had increased substantially. The IJA also indicated that the National Socialist 
German Workers Party -Overseas Organization, an American neo-Nazi group, was 
distributing its publications by computer to Austria, Germany, France, and the 
Netherlands. Much of the anti-Semitic material that found its way into Europe 
originated in the United States, which, unlike many other countries, had not enacted 
restrictions on hate speech. 


Holocaust Denial 

Responding to the practice of many university newspapers of accepting ads for 
publication that denied the Holocaust or distorted its extent, the Synagogue Council 
of America (SCA) joined together with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops 
(NCCB) in March 1994 in a statement that described the notion that there is any 
obligation to publish this material as a "perversion of the First Amendment." 

Some university newspapers published the advertisements based on the premise 
that even Holocaust deniers have a right to express their views, while others pub- 
lished the text of the advertisements accompanied by an editorial refutation. In their 
statement, the SCA and NCCB urged that neither of these responses was appropri- 
ate, that newspaper advertisers should simply refuse to run these ads and not operate 
on the basis of misguided notions of freedom of speech. "If someone has stated that 
the world is flat, we don't have to give it publicity as an alternative view," said Rabbi 
Shel Schiff"man, executive vice-president of the Synagogue Council. 

In January 1995 advocates of Holocaust education considered their cause 
strengthened when House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced — and quickly with- 
drew — the appointment as House historian of an educator who had opposed fund- 
ing a Holocaust education program for not reflecting "the Nazi point of view." 
Gingrich fired Christina Jeff"rey within hours of learning that she had opposed a 
middle-school and high-school Holocaust curriculum as "biased." The Speaker's 
action, said Benjamin Meed, president of the American Gathering of Holocaust 
Survivors, "sends an important message that there's no place for this type of view 
in the country." Jeff"rey denied being a Holocaust denier and vowed to seek vindica- 

Bigotry on the Campus 

The ongoing controversy over Prof Leonard Jeff"ries continued to unfold. Jeffries 
was discharged in March 1992 from his position as chairman of the Black Studies 
Department of the City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) 
because of the anti-Semitic content of a speech given by him in 1991. The speech 
was part and parcel of a racist and anti-Semitic ideology that he had been expound- 
ing for years, but it received greater attention because of the public forum in which 
it was delivered. Jeff"ries was reinstated to his post, one he had occupied since 1972, 
when a federal trial court ruled that the university had violated his First Amend- 
ment rights. This determination was upheld in April 1994 by a federal appeals court. 
The appeals court reversed, however, the earlier determination that JeffHes was 
entitled to $360,000 damages. 

In November 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a two-sentence ruling that 
required the appeals court to reconsider its ruling in light of a decision earlier that 
year by the high court suggesting that public employers have some latitude in 
disciplining employees whose speech disrupts the workplace. Jewish groups ap- 


plauded the Supreme Court's action, expressing their belief that a university has the 
right to deny a bigot a position that makes him or her, in effect, the institution's 
spokesperson. During the period between the appeals court's and the Supreme 
Court's rulings, the City University announced the creation of the CUNY Institute 
for Research on the Diaspora in the Americas and Caribbean. This new black 
research institute was to be operated independently of Jeffries' department and to 
be headed by Edmund Gordon, the professor who led the Black Studies Department 
during the period between Jeffries' ouster and reinstatement. 

Against the backdrop of this Supreme Court ruHng, in April 1995 the federal 
appeals court for the Second Circuit reversed the earlier ruHng reinstating Jeffries 
as head of City College's Black Studies Department. Samuel Rabinove, legal direc- 
tor of the American Jewish Committee, noted that this decision reflected an appro- 
priate distinction between a professor and a department head: "Department heads 
represent the university much more visibly, so a university should have much 
greater latitude in terms of deciding who will lead a department." In June 1995 the 
department faculty announced that it had elected Prof. Moyibi Amodo to succeed 
Jeffries as its head. Jeffries indicated that, while he would continue as a tenured 
professor at the university, he would not seek another term as department chair. 
Representatives of various Jewish organizations noted their satisfaction that there 
was now some closure to this long-standing controversy. 

Howard University, generally recognized as the nation's leading black university, 
received some unwelcome attention in 1994, in February as host— by invitation of 
a student group — for one of Khalid Muhammad's fiery racist diatribes, and then 
in April as the site of a series of anti-Semitic presentations, as Muhammad, Jeffries, 
and Wellesley College professor Tony Martin spoke at a student-sponsored event 
to an enthusiastic crowd of 2,000. University officials indicated that they had con- 
sented to the event only because they felt bound to do so by the First Amendment. 
With hatred of Jews a leitmotif of the evening, the already famiUar accusations of 
Jewish dominance of the slave trade were joined by fresh rhetoric diminishing the 
horrors of the Holocaust and claiming that Jewish Holocaust memorials were 
nothing more than an effort to divert attention from the "black Holocaust" of 
Africans under slavery. 

In the aftermath of these events, Howard University officials were left to fight the 
perception in some quarters that its student body supported the views of anti- 
Semites and racists. The controversy was heightened by the news in early April that 
Yale University historian David Brion Davis, an expert on the history of slavery, 
who happens to be Jewish, was asked to postpone a scheduled lecture because of 
fear that he would be heckled. Local Jewish groups criticized the university for not 
moving quickly enough to distance itself from the views expressed by Muhammad, 
Jeffries, and Martin. The university was faced with threats from various sources of 
cutoffs in personal or institutional support. University officials insisted at a press 
conference held after the Muhammad- Jeffries-Martin event that most of those at- 
tending the speeches were not students but area residents, and that the views 


expressed by the speakers did not enjoy widespread student support. 

Clear across the country, San Francisco State University was the scene of perhaps 
the year's most widely reported clash between Jewish and black students. On May 
19, 1994, a black student group unveiled an on-campus mural of Malcolm X, which 
included Stars of David surrounded by dollar signs, skulls and crossbones, and the 
words "African blood." Jewish students attacked the mural as anti-Semitic and 
called for removal of the offending portion; African-American students responded 
by closing ranks in support of what they asserted was a symbol of the black struggle 
for self-determination. In the end, university president Robert Corrigan declared 
that "if we were to allow the mural to remain as it is, we would be contributing to 
a hostile campus environment, one which says to students: 'We tolerate intolerance; 
we are silent in the face of bigotry.' " He directed that the mural be painted over. 

Legislative and Judicial Activity 

Legislation to establish hate-crime prevention programs in schools around the 
country was approved in March 1994 as an amendment to the House of Representa- 
tives' major education bill. Under this legislation, sponsored by Rep. Nydia Ve- 
lazquez (D., N.Y.), the Department of Education would award grants to local 
education and community groups to develop training programs and curricula to 
fight prejudice. 

In a decision that surprised virtually nobody, the New Jersey Supreme Court 
overturned the state's hate-crimes law in May 1994 on the grounds that it violated 
the First Amendment's protection of free speech, while upholding another law that 
allows for enhanced penalties for individuals who harass others on the basis of racial 
or ethnic bias. The stricken law, which made it illegal to burn a cross or display a 
swastika or any other symbol on another person's property if it exposed that person 
to increased fear of physical harm caused as a result of ethnic bias, tracked in many 
respects the statute overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1992 opinion. The 
law the New Jersey high court upheld, in contrast, was substantially similar to a 
Wisconsin municipal regulation upheld by the U.S. high court in 1993. Rather than 
punishing the expression of hate, the upheld New Jersey law increases the level of 
the crime and the penalty when an individual acts on such beliefs and intentionally 
carries out an act of harassment based on the victim's race, religion, or ethnic 

The controversial $30-billion federal crime bill signed into law by the president 
in 1994, while containing some provisions to which many Jewish groups were 
opposed (in particular, its expansion of the death penalty), included measures 
directed at terrorism and hate crimes. One provision, the Hate Crime Sentencing 
Enhancement Act, enhances the penalty for federal crimes in which the victim of 
the offense is selected by reason of such categories as religion or race. The bill also 
establishes new categories of federal crimes associated with terrorism and makes it 
a crime to provide "material support" for carrying out designated terrorist offenses. 


These antiterrorism measures, while not widely noted, drew opposition from Irish- 
American and civil-liberties groups concerned that the portions directed at fund- 
raising activities would penalize Americans who want to support the legitimate 
charitable activities of groups that also engage in (depending on one's point of view) 
terrorism or armed resistance. In the end, in response to the advocacy of those 
groups, certain of those latter provisions were somewhat weakened. 

Other Anti-Semitic Incidents 

There were, as usual, a number of instances in which prominent persons let slip 
comments invoking anti-Semitic stereotypes that generally resulted in an apology 
from the offender when protested. Thus, after a complaint from the ADL, country 
singer Dolly Parton apologized for asserting in a magazine interview that she had 
abandoned the idea of doing a television series about a gospel singer "because most 
of the people out here [in Hollywood] are Jewish, and it's a frightening thing for 
them to promote Christianity." 

In another case, Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton denied remarks attributed to him 
to the effect that "the elders of Zion rule the world." The reporter who made these 
comments public stood by his story, and Carlton stood by his denial. In the end, 
Jewish groups, while reacting with concern to the nature of the reported remarks, 
described as a positive development Carlton's rejection of the legitimacy of racist 

Michael Jackson's June 1995 album was not even in the stores when it was 
enveloped in controversy. The lyrics of "They Don't Care About Us," a song in the 
album, included the phrases "Jew me" and "kike me." Jackson's initial reaction, 
when questioned about the lyrics, was to assert that the song symbolized all victims 
of prejudice. He soon apologized and promised to include a paragraph with all 
copies of the album not already shipped expressing regrets "to anyone who might 
have been hurt," and stating that "unfortunately, my words have unintentionally 
hurt the very people I want to stand in solidarity with." By the end of the month, 
it was announced, later editions of his album would be revised so as not to include 
the objectionable lyrics. 

Ed Rollins, the well-known political adviser and a senior consultant to Senate 
Majority Leader Bob Dole in the latter's presidential run, was strongly criticized 
by Jewish groups when, in May 1995, he referred to Representatives Howard 
Herman and Henry Waxman, both Democrats from California, as "those two 
Hymie boys." RoUins apologized for his remarks as without "justification or ex- 
cuse," but sought to mitigate the offense by asserting that the comments were made 
"with great irreverence and attempt at humor." The Dole campaign apologized for 
Rollins' comments as "totally inexcusable" and then, within days, Rollins resigned 
from his role in the campaign. 


Black-Jewish Relations 


1994 saw the further unfolding of a theme that had been a discordant note in 
black-Jewish relations for several years — the disappointment of the organized 
American Jewish community at the legitimacy afforded the Nation of Islam (NOI) 
and its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, by much of the black community, not- 
withstanding the rampant anti-Semitism and racism of that movement's teachings. 

Late in 1993, Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Muhammad delivered a speech 
at New Jersey's Kean College in the course of which, along with other anti-Semitic, 
anti-white, anti-Catholic, and anti-gay comments, he referred to Jews as "the blood- 
suckers of the black nation," claimed that they controlled the White House, the 
media, and the Federal Reserve, and said that they had brought the Holocaust on 
themselves. These remarks initially received little attention outside of the Jewish 
community, but the picture changed dramatically when, on January 16, 1994, the 
Anti-Defamation League ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times with 
extensive verbatim excerpts from Muhammad's speech. 

Almost immediately there was a chorus of condemnation from many leaders in 
the black community. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (R., Md.), who, as chairman of the 
Congressional Black Caucus, had some two months earlier spoken of a "sacred 
covenant" with the Nation of Islam, condemned Muhammad and called on Farra- 
khan to disavow him. Benjamin Chavis, Jr., executive director of the National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, asserted that he was "appalled 
that any human being would stoop so low to make such violence-prone anti-Semitic 
statements." Jesse Jackson described the speech as "racist, anti-Semitic, divisive, 
untrue and chilling" and called on Farrakhan to distance himself from its assertions. 

Farrakhan did nothing of the sort. Instead, during a speech given in late January, 
he made his own conspiratorial accusations of Jewish plotting against him, suggest- 
ing in response to black condemnation of Muhammad that his enemies "want to use 
some of our brothers and some of our brothers are willing to be used." Any hope 
that Farrakhan would distance himself from the repugnant ideology of his lieuten- 
ant was given its final interment at a press conference held on Thursday, February 
3. Announcing that he was disciplining Muhammad, "not for the message but for 
the manner in which it had been delivered," Farrakhan went on to deliver remarks 
that were themselves racist and anti-Semitic. These included a substantial dose of 
conspiratorial allegations explicitly directed at the Anti-Defamation League, claim- 
ing that the ADL "seeks total control of the Jewish people, many of whom would 
have dialogued with us if it were not for the wicked aim and purpose of the ADL 
and its leadership." David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Com- 


mittee, characterized Farrakhan's comments as "the same old bone-chiUing hate 
delivered with a smile." 

The day before the press conference, Mfume announced that the Congressional 
Black Caucus disavowed the "sacred covenant" with the Nation of Islam, citing "a 
question by some of our membership about the NOI's sensitivity to the right of all 
people and all religions to be free from attacks, vihfication and defamation." That 
same day, the Senate voted 97-0 to pass a resolution, sponsored by Senators John 
Danforth (R., Mo.) and Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.), condemning the Muhammad 
speech. The House later adopted a similar resolution by a vote of 361-34, as did 
the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by a unanimous vote of its eight-member 

If the day before the Farrakhan press conference offered evidence of the distanc- 
ing from the Nation of Islam leader for which the Jewish community had long been 
arguing, the days after his remarks were a letdown. Many African-American leaders 
declined to respond to Farrakhan's espousal of hateful views as forcefully as they 
had those of Muhammad. The starkest example of this was the statement of Benja- 
min Chavis that the NAACP was "satisfied" with Farrakhan's disciplinary action 
against Muhammad. "The NAACP is prepared to beheve Minister Farrakhan's 
statement that he is neither anti-Semitic nor racist," said Chavis. The American 
Jewish Committee, in an unusually direct criticism of the actions of the leader of 
another civil-rights organization, sharply criticized this statement, asserting that the 
NAACP's failure to repudiate Farrakhan's speech "not only turns a deaf ear to 
bigotry, but also seeks to rehabihtate the bigot." 

There were, to be sure, contrary voices in the black community, as witnessed by 
those who, together with representatives from a diverse array of racial, ethnic, and 
religious groups, signed on to an ad, placed by the American Jewish Committee in 
the New York Times on February 25, that condemned the racism of the NOI and 
reminded readers that "with all our differences, we are indeed united, as Ameri- 

At the same time, some within the Jewish community suggested that an ongoing 
confrontation with the black community over Farrakhan detracted from more 
productive aspects of black-Jewish relations, such as coahtional work on pressing 
public-policy issues. "We should not allow Farrakhan to define relations between 
Jews and African Americans," commented Karen Senter, co-director of national 
concerns for NJCRAC. "It's time to move on." 

In the weeks and months following the Farrakhan press conference there were 
ongoing attempts by many in the Jewish community to do exactly that. Leaders of 
the ADL and the NAACP met for two-and-a-half-hours in mid-February, but 
emerged with little to say except that both organizations wished to continue to work 
together on "issues of mutual concern." At the annual plenum of NJCRAC later 
that month, a number of Jewish communal officials questioned the wisdom of 
pressing black leaders to condemn Farrakhan, since blacks who denounced anti- 
Semites in their community came to be seen as bowing to outsiders and therefore 


lost credibility. Instead, it was suggested, it might be best not to raise a fuss when 
mainstream civil-rights organizations reached out to Farrakhan, but instead make 
the point that the relationships of those organizations with the Jewish community 
were long-standing and secure. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious 
Action Center of Reform Judaism, suggested at the NJCRAC plenum that it was 
necessary for the Jewish community "not to legitimize and give attention to 
propagators of hate," on the one hand, and "not allow bigotry to be sanctioned by 
silence," on the other. 

The Jewish community attempted a tempered response to the NAACP's June 
1 994 African-American leadership summit in Baltimore. Farrakhan was invited by 
the NAACP, along with some 100 other black community, political, and religious 
leaders, to participate in this conference on strategies for economic development, 
community empowerment, and moral and spiritual renewal in the black commu- 
nity. Jewish groups expressed their distress at the inclusion of Farrakhan in this 
meeting of mainstream black leaders, while not treating his inclusion as a "line in 
the sand," the crossing of which would damage black-Jewish relations. 

Nevertheless, protests were held outside the conference, led by Michael Lemer, 
editor of Tikkun magazine. The tensions between blacks and Jews arising out of 
Farrakhan's continuing leadership role did not go unremarked upon at the Balti- 
more summit, notwithstanding that Jewish protests of Farrakhan's participation in 
the conference had been relatively muted. Reportedly, the word "Jew" was not 
spoken at that meeting, but there were allusions by summit organizer Benjamin 
Chavis to "intimidations and threats," and Chavis stated at a concluding press 
conference that "never again will we allow any external forces to dictate to the 
African-American community who we will meet with." Some Jewish observers were 
disturbed by these remarks, reflecting as they did the focus on an external "enemy," 
without so much as a condemnation of all bigotry and hate, whatever its source. 

A particular sore point for the American Jewish community was the ongoing 
assertion by the Nation of Islam that Jews had played a disproportionate role in the 
slave trade, a claim made by Muhammad and Farrakhan in their speeches and 
"documented" in The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a 334-page 
book published by the Nation of Islam in 1991 and cited by Farrakhan at his 
February 3 press conference. Substantial evidence was adduced by a number of 
experts to disprove the NOI's charges, showing, instead, that Jews had played a very 
minor role when compared with their Christian counterparts. Critics, including 
prominent black leaders, pointed out that the NOI's claims were an attempt to 
distort history so as to suit the movement's political agenda. Nevertheless, the 
libelous charges had, by all reports, gained an unfortunate level of legitimacy within 
the black community, even influencing many unaffiliated with Farrakhan. 

The 104th Congress brought with it renewed attention to the security-services 
business run by Nation of Islam-affiliated organizations, serving federally funded 
public-housing projects, with contracts valued at an estimated $10 million. Several 
Jewish organizations had, without success, earlier called for the U.S. Housing and 


Urban Development Department (HUD) to investigate whether these NOI security 
agencies discriminated against whites and Jews in their hiring practices and prosely- 
tized on the premises of the housing projects. In January 1995, apparently respond- 
ing to pressure from the new leadership in Congress and the ongoing urgings of 
Jewish organizations, HUD secretary Henry Cisneros announced that there would 
be an investigation to identify any such discriminatory conduct. 

The initial results of that investigation, announced by Cisneros at an early March 
oversight hearing by a House banking subcommittee, far from satisfied those Jewish 
organizations or several of the members on the subcommittee, notably Rep. Peter 
King (R., N.Y.). Cisneros asserted that his department's inquiry had found no 
evidence of wrongdoing and that continuing the investigation "would simply be 
using government resources to persecute" the Nation of Islam, and questioned 
whether HUD had authority to deal with claims of employment discrimination by 
the security services. Jewish groups testifying at the hearing diflFered with the assess- 
ment, asserting, in the words of American Jewish Congress counsel Marc Stern, that 
this is "an HUD responsibility" and that "HUD did not ask the right questions." 
Secretary Cisneros backed oflF somewhat from the positions asserted at the hearing 
when, in communications with the World Jewish Congress and B'nai B'rith approxi- 
mately one month later, he denounced Farrakhan's injection of hatred into the 
"national discourse" and pronounced HUD's investigation of alleged violations of 
contracts with NOI security agencies to be "ongoing." It was also reported at about 
the same time that the Department of Health and Human Services had begun its 
own investigation into allegations of patient discrimination at the NOI-Hnked Abun- 
dant Life CHnic, an AIDS treatment facihty in Washington, D.C., that received 
federal funding through contracts with the District of Columbia. 


The tensions between the Jewish and black communities aroused by Farrakhan's 
continued, even increased, prominence threatened to eclipse other, more concilia- 
tory voices and the ongoing day-to-day cooperation between Jews and blacks on a 
variety of issues at national and local levels. 

Hugh Price, who became president of the National Urban League in July 1994, 
began his tenure by immediately praising Jews as "long-standing allies" of the black 
community and by stressing that a weakened economy and a lack of communal 
infrastructure — not white racism — were the major obstacles to progress for poor 
blacks. While calling for measures to promote economic self-sufficiency that, at least 
in broad strokes, recalled some of the themes struck by Farrakhan, Price clearly 
referred to Farrakhan in emphasizing the importance of denouncing racism, what- 
ever its source. Price diflFered, however, with those who suggested that blacks ought 
not to be engaged in dialogue with all segments of their community, however 
objectionable some of their views. Price's appointment and the themes he struck, 
notwithstanding the obvious disagreement by many in the Jewish community on the 


issue of meeting with Farrakhan, drew praise and support from Jewish organiza- 
tional leaders. 

Among his other outreach eflForts, Price met in October with the National Jewish 
Community Relations Advisory Council, at which time he stressed his "agenda of 
racial inclusion" and called for focus on public education and the needs of young 
people as an area in which NJCRAC member agencies and the Urban League could 
work together. He expressed his hope that he would "not have to make a career out 
of" talking about Farrakhan. 

Jesse Jackson paid a six-day visit to Israel in April 1994 during which he was 
greeted with significantly greater warmth by Israelis and representatives of Ameri- 
can Jewish organizations than had been the case with his disastrous trip 15 years 
earlier. The 1979 trip, which included a snub by Menachem Begin and a famous 
embrace between Jackson and Yasir Arafat, contributed greatly to the sense of 
distrust that many in the Jewish community felt about Jackson for a number of 
years. In contrast, in 1994 he was afforded the trappings of an official visit by both 
the Israeli government and its now recognized negotiating partner, the Palestine 
Liberation Organization. For Israel, Jackson's visit presented an important opportu- 
nity to cultivate a relationship with one of the best-known figures in the increasingly 
important black leadership. For Jackson, the trip provided an opportunity to claim 
a leadership role in moving the Mideast peace process forward, and to lay another 
building block in the more positive relationship with American Jews that he had 
established in recent years. 

American Jewish groups distanced themselves from the NAACP in the first part 
of 1 994, largely because of executive director Benjamin Chavis's outreach to Farra- 
khan. Relations improved, however, after Chavis was ousted by the agency's board 
of directors in August, with questions about his handling of the NAACP's financial 
affairs as the precipitating factor. 

This brightening outlook was reinforced in March 1995 with the election of 
Myrlie Evers- Williams as NAACP chairwoman. Evers- Williams, widow of slain 
1960s civil-rights leader Medgar Evers and widely seen as a proponent of close 
cooperation between the Jewish and black communities, narrowly defeated Dr 
William Gibson in his bid for reelection. Gibson had brought Chavis on as executive 
director and sided with him in the vote that led to the latter official's ouster 
Nevertheless, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of 
Reform Judaism and a member of the NAACP board, took pains to assert that the 
March vote had not been cast on the question of future relations with the Jewish 
community. "Dr. Gibson was always very friendly with the Jewish community," he 
said. "These were not policy issues. These were internal administrative issues," 
largely having to do with the need to repair the NAACP's disastrous financial 

Not everyone agreed on the road to follow in dealing with the tensions between 
the black and Jewish communities. Murray Friedman, director of the American 
Jewish Committee's Philadelphia chapter and a former U.S. civil rights commis- 


sioner, argued at an intergroup conference held in New York in September 1994 — 
anticipating themes articulated in a book he would pubHsh in 1995 (What Went 
Wrong? The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance) — for a "cooling- 
off" period of "separation" between the communities. Asserting that the "black- 
Jewish alliance that once existed is gone," he suggested that blacks and Jews should 
simply work jointly on issues of common interest and agree to disagree on other 
issues. This approach was rejected by the Reverend Calvin Butts, senior minister 
of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church; he argued against the notion that there is 
"strong anti-Semitism among African Americans" and urged not disengagement 
but joint efforts to improve social conditions. 

A study conducted by the American Jewish Congress in 1994 indicated that at 
the congressional level black and Jewish members remained closely aligned on key 
issues. The voting patterns of the 39 members of the Congressional Black Caucus 
and the 32 Jewish members of the House of Representatives on issues such as foreign 
aid, public funding of private schools, and school prayer showed that "Jewish 
members of Congress were far more likely to support votes by the [Caucus] than 
the other members of the [House]." And, similarly, black members were more Hkely 
than members in general to support the positions of the "Jewish community." Jesse 
Jackson, speaking at the press conference announcing this report, stressed the 
importance of the black- Jewish coalition outside the halls of Congress as well, 
asserting that David Duke would have won his 1991 race for governor of Louisiana 
if not for the "black-Jewish coalition." 


While the black and Jewish communities continued to cooperate in many areas, 
the Jewish community was far from of one mind on two issues viewed by many 
African-Americans as crucial to their interests: redistricting and affirmative action. 

In redistricting decisions handed down in 1994 and 1995, in both instances on the 
last day of the term, the U.S. Supreme Court cast in doubt the practice of dehneating 
election districts so as to promote minority representation. Those decisions brought 
a mixed reaction from the Jewish community, with some supporting limitations on 
race-based districting practices while others agreed with Justice Ruth Bader Gins- 
burg's assertion in the 1995 case that the Court had imposed an unmanageable 
standard that would spawn endless challenges to state districting decisions. 

As with developments on redistricting, the Jewish community was divided over 
the implications of the Supreme Court's June 1995 ruHng that racially conscious 
federal affirmative-action programs are presumably unconstitutional unless the gov- 
ernment is able to show a "compelling state interest" for the challenged practice. 
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, 
termed the decision "disappointing," while noting that the import of the case was 
"an affirmation of affirmative action, but a limitation of the circumstances where it 
is appropriate to apply it." The ADL saw the decision as consistent with its position. 


that "government preferences or benefits based upon race, religious beliefs or ethnic 
origin are as threatening to the American ideal as the historic discriminatory pra^ 
tices used to justify those preferences." 

In both the redistricting and the affirmative-action cases.the close decisions of the 
Court and the lack of clarity about the types of practices that would be upheld left 
the door open for continuing litigation. 


Interactions between Jewish and black students on high-school and college cam- 
puses were not all confrontational. At a grass-roots level, nearly 200 teenagers from 
around the world, including 90 Jewish high-school students attending under the 
banner of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO), attended a gathering in 
Washington in February 1994 to promote understanding and tolerance among 
various ethnic groups. The convocation, taking place under the banner of "Stop the 
Hate" and initiated by BBYO, conducted interviews about prejudice with members 
of Congress, spoke out against hate in various public locations, and attended a 
discussion about the ethnic conflict in Bosnia. 

Similar efforts by young people at intergroup understanding took place through- 
out the year. In March 1994, 12 Jewish undergraduates from Yeshiva University 
and 12 black undergraduates from the City College of New York met to exchange 
views on the recent tensions between the black and Jewish communities. In the 
course of the discussion, some of the CCNY students expressed disagreement with 
the ideas presented by Khalid Muhammad at various college campuses and rejected 
the notion that he spoke for the African-American community. Students from both 
schools agreed on the need for further communication and for blacks and Jews to 
learn more about each other's histories. 

A joint effort of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and several Jewish 
educational institutions, including the World Jewish Congress, the World Zionist 
Organization, and the Israeli Consulate Office of Academic Aff"airs in the United 
States, was undertaken to implement an exchange program between Jewish and 
black college students. The program was carried out during the 1994-95 academic 
year through a number of components: student summer and full-semester ex- 
changes; a faculty exchange; expansion of the National Center for Black-Jewish 
Relations at Dillard University in New Orleans; a UNCF mission to Israel; and a 
college-level "Operation Understanding," a long-standing program under which 
black and Jewish students travel together to Africa and Israel. 

Asian-Jewish Relations 

Ongoing efforts to maintain, and expand upon, relations between Jewish and 
other ethnic groups continued throughout the year, with trips by leaders of non- 
Jewish groups to Israel often a focal point for building understanding and relation- 


ships. Thus, in February 1994, 1 1 Asian-Americans of varying backgrounds, includ- 
ing Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese, traveled to Israel under the aus- 
pices of Project Interchange and the Pacific Rim Institute, divisions of the American 
Jewish Committee. Jews and Asian-Americans had long been coalition partners on 
such issues as immigration, responses to hate crimes, and civil rights, and it was 
hoped that this might be expanded to support by Asian-Americans for Israel-Asian 
political and trade relations. 

Interreligious Relations 


In a dramatic development in the evolution of Christian teachings about Jews and 
Judaism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America announced on April 18, 
1994, that it had formally rejected the anti-Semitic writings of Martin Luther, the 
communion's founder. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the largest branch of 
the Lutheran denomination in America. 


As relations between the Christian Coalition and its supporters, on the one hand, 
and the organized Jewish community, on the other, continued to simmer, represen- 
tatives of Jewish and evangelical Christian organizations met in Washington soon 
after the 1994 elections. The meeting, convened by Yechiel Eckstein, president of 
the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, was intended as a vehicle "to 
shatter stereotypes." "There is a common ground," he said, "even on moral values 
between evangelicals and Jews which hasn't been discerned yet." 

The delicate nature of relations between evangelical Christians and Jews was 
underlined, however, when, in March 1995, the National Jewish Coalition (NJC) 
pulled out of a conference on Israel scheduled for May on the grounds that several 
of the Christian groups participating "have as their chief purpose the conversion of 
Jews to Christianity." The action of the coalition, an organization representing 
Jewish Republicans, followed withdrawal by the Israeli embassy from the same 
Washington-based conference. "Their active support of missionizing," wrote NJC 
executive director Matthew Brooks, "is, in practice, a determined effort to destroy 
the Jewish people. I cannot in good conscience participate in an event, even one 
dedicated to support for Israel, which includes organizations whose primary goal 
I vehemently oppose." Rabbi Daniel Lapin, on the other hand, director of the 
conservative group Toward Tradition, indicated that he had no concern in working 
in common cause with missionizers, asserting that "to whatever extent they succeed, 
the indictment is not on them, but on us." 


A dispute between Jewish Holocaust survivors and the Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-day Saints was resolved when, in April 1995, the church agreed to halt 
its practice of posthumously baptizing Jews. Mormon tenets call upon that faith's 
adherents to research their own ancestry and to have their forebears baptized; some 
adherents have gone further, however, collecting the names of, and then baptizing, 
prominent people and Holocaust victims. Ernest Michel, chairman of the American 
Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and a son of Jews murdered at Auschwitz, 
approached the Mormon leadership upon discovering that his parents had been 
listed as members of the Mormon faith in this fashion. With apologies for any 
unintended offense to Holocaust survivors, the church agreed not only to cease the 
practice but also to expunge from its records the names of all Jews who were 
"improperly included." 


In a series of interviews and public statements. Pope John Paul II placed Catholic- 
Jewish relations high on his ecumenical agenda, terming Jews "elder brothers in the 
faith" to Catholics and attacking anti-Semitism as "anti-Christian." While building 
on the foundations laid down by the Second Vatican Council some 30 years earlier, 
the pope broke significant new ground when, in an interview given shortly before 
Easter 1994, he recognized the right of Jews to settle in Israel — this following only 
a few months after the Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations. In 
addition, 1994 saw the first official Vatican commemoration of the Holocaust, in the 
form of a Yom Hashoah concert on April 7 in Rome, attended by dignitaries from 
around the world. Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs for the 
American Jewish Committee, hailed these developments as having removed what 
had been stumbling blocks in the relations between Catholics and Jews. What is 
significant. Rabbi Rudin commented, is that the pope is "not talking to Jews about 
the Jewish people; he's speaking to Catholics." 

In February 1995, Pope John Paul II met in private audience with leaders of the 
American Jewish Committee, who urged that he issue a formal encyclical against 
anti-Semitism. At the meeting, which took place in commemoration of the 30th 
anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's "Nostra Aetate" declaration, AJCom- 
mittee president Robert S. Rifkind expressed gratification for the strides made since 
1965 in Jewish-Catholic relations, with hopes that the two communities would 
continue to build "on the foundations already laid." 


In February 1994, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, head of the Appeal of Conscience 
Foundation, brought together a convocation in New York of Jewish, Eastern Ortho- 


dox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim clergy for an interfaith Conference on Peace and 
Tolerance, with a major focus on the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The 
convocation was cosponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Bartholomew I, 
leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Although reportedly faced with significant 
division on a number of issues, the conference did issue a statement condemning 
"ethnic cleansing" and rejecting "the concept that it was possible to justify one's 
actions in any armed conflict in the name of God." 

A series of interfaith initiatives followed the Hebron massacre the same month. 
Interfaith services were held at a church, a synagogue, and a mosque in New York, 
and in Los Angeles Jewish and Arab organizations held a joint memorial service 
and press conference. Jewish students at colleges throughout the nation condemned 
the killings and held interfaith services and vigils with Muslim students and others. 
The Reform movement sent out packets to its member congregations urging, among 
other things, that Jewish leaders make condolence calls to Muslim leaders and write 
letters to local newspapers condemning the attack. 

In a further development in Jewish-Muslim relations, a ground-breaking confer- 
ence on "Women, Families and Children in Islamic and Judaic Traditions" was held 
in Denver in late October 1994. Although the conference was framed as an academic 
event, broader issues of intergroup relations were addressed. The conference was 
organized by Rabbi Rudin of the AJCommittee and Salam al-Maryati, director of 
the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council. As part of the program, 
participants began to explore public-policy issues of common concern on which 
their respective communities might work together. 

Although interest in building a relationship had increased with developments in 
the Middle East peace process, there were still tensions arising out of differences on 
fundamental issues. Muslims viewed government investigations of American Mus- 
lim groups for possible links to Mideast terrorism, with the intent of cutting off the 
flow of American funds to Hamas, as a form of scapegoating. American Jewish 
groups largely supported those efforts, while urging that they should be undertaken 
with due regard for civil liberties and due process concerns. 


Legislative Activity 

In 1994 the organized Jewish community continued its long-standing battle to 
preserve separation of church and state. Dissenting positions were taken by the 
Orthodox, not on the broad commitment to that principle but on certain specific 
applications, in particular the Jewish community's opposition to federally funded 
school vouchers for parochial and other private schools. 

Throughout much of the year, Jewish organizations worked together with such 
coalition partners as the Baptist Joint Committee and Americans United for Separa- 


tion of Church and State to oppose efforts, spearheaded by Sen. Jesse Helms (R., 
N.C.), to add a school-prayer amendment to major education legislation. The 
amendment would have subjected schools to cutoffs of their federal funding if they 
did not protect the rights of students voluntarily to engage in "constitutionally 
protected prayer." After an initial defeat — the Senate adopted the Helms amend- 
ment in March as part of the "Goals 2000" education bill — the coalition succeeded 
in blocking the initiative from being enacted into law. "Goals 2000" emerged from 
conference without any school-prayer amendment, and the education appropria- 
tions legislation enacted into law later in the year included, instead, a far less 
problematic alternative sponsored by Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R., Kan.). (The 
Kassebaum language subjects a school to a funds cutoff only if it violates an actual 
court order with respect to religious expression.) 

Less threatening but still problematic was the Senate's passage in February, by 
a vote of 78-8, of a resolution supporting a moment of silence during the school 
day that would allow students a moment for voluntary prayer. No action was taken 
in the House on this initiative, which was, in any event, a nonbinding resolution. 
Richard Foltin, legislative director and counsel for the American Jewish Commit- 
tee, suggested that the provision served little purpose as, in any event, "there is no 
serious question of a school's right to provide for a truly voluntary moment of 
silence and of a student's right to engage in nondisruptive prayer during such a 
moment, or, in fact, at any other time during the school day." Rabbi Abraham 
Shemtov, national director of the American Friends of Lubavitch, on the other 
hand, endorsed the initiative. "A moment of silence brings about the awareness in 
children of the existence of the Supreme Being," he said. 

An initiative introduced in both the 103rd and 104th Congresses by the bipartisan 
team of Senators Joseph Lieberman (D., Conn.) and Dan Coats (R., Ind.) would 
allow federal funds to be used to support parochial and other private schools on a 
pilot-project basis. Opposed by most Jewish groups, among others, as a violation of 
separation of church and state and a threat to the public-school system, it was 
supported by the Orthodox Jewish community as an important resource to enable 
children to attend religious schools. The bill failed to win approval in the 1994 
session and had not moved by midyear 1995. 

As the 1994 congressional year closed out, and even before the election returns 
had come in, advocates of separation of church and state were concerned about the 
future of their cause. After all, even though ultimately defeated in both cases, the 
Helms school-prayer provision was attached to the "Goals 2000" education bill— 
in a Democratic Senate — by a 75-22 vote, and was accepted as part of another 
education bill in the Democrat-controlled House by a landslide vote of 345-64. 
These votes suggested that "we have a lot to do as far as educating members of 
Congress about school prayer in particular and the separation of church and state 
in general," commented Mark Pelavin, Washington representative of the American 
Jewish Congress. 

That work was clearly expanded by the election results. Within days of the 


dection, soon-to-be House Speaker Newt Gingrich alarmed the Jewish community 
when he indicated that he favored a vote by July 1995 on an amendment to the 
Constitution permitting officially sanctioned school prayer. President Clinton 
touched oflFa firestorm when, later in November, he made a statement that appeared 
to express a willingness to consider a school-prayer constitutional amendment. 
Shortly thereafter, the president clarified that he was against any school-prayer 
amendment to the Constitution, although he was prepared to consider legislation 
providing for a neutral moment of silence — a position he had long held. 

By the end of November, the organized Jewish community had joined together 
with a broad-ranging group of religious and civil-liberties organizations to form the 
Coalition for Preservation of Religious Liberty, the mission of which was to oppose 
the proposed amendment. The coalition, co-chaired by Rabbi David Saperstein of 
the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Reverend Brent Walker of 
the Baptist Joint Committee, included organizational representation from all the 
major movements of American Judaism, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish 
Congregations. Agudath Israel of America also spoke out in opposition to a school- 
prayer amendment to the Constitution. 

As the 104th Congress began, the coalition, with Jewish groups continuing to play 
an important leadership role, urgently began its task of trying to keep on top of what 
the school-prayer initiative would look like and of canvassing the new Congress in 
a search for allies on both sides of the aisle. The new year had hardly begun when 
Rep. Jon Fox (R., Pa.), the only Jewish freshman, announced that while he would 
support a moment of silence in schools, he would oppose amending the Constitution 
to allow school prayer. 

The new Congress saw several school-prayer initatives put forward, but given the 
other priorities established by the Republican majority in the "Contract with Amer- 
ica" and the opposition of a number of Republican moderates to any quick action 
in this area, it seemed unlikely that there would be early votes on any of these 
initiatives. Perhaps most crucially, early in 1995 reports began to filter out that 
proponents of a constitutional amendment were rethinking exactly what form an 
amendment ought to take. 

That rethinking received a public airing when the Christian Coalition included 
as an item in its ten-point "Contract with the American Family" a call for a 
"religious equality amendment," and no reference to a "school-prayer amendment." 
The premise of this amendment was that religion had somehow become the subject 
of unfair discrimination, both in the courts and by virtue of government practice, 
and that the drastic measure of amending the Constitution was necessary to alleviate 
the situation. The proposed amendment would allow for prayer at graduations, for 
student-led prayers in schools, and for religious symbols in public places, protection 
of other forms of religious speech, and equivalent funding of sectarian and secular 
institutions. By mid-1995 the "religious equality amendment" remained a work in 
progress. Although there were no votes in either house, whether on the floor or in 
committee — and, in fact, not yet even a proposed text — initial hearings were held 


on "religious liberty issues" before the House Judiciary Subcommittee in June I995, 
with more to follow. The hearings demonstrated that advocates of the amendment 
were at loggerheads over what its final language should be and even, to some extent, 
over just what aspects of existing church-state doctrine ought to be revisited. 

If the proponents of the amendment had not come to agreement by midyear, there 
was, for once, strong consensus virtually across the spectrum of the Jewish commu- 
nity that the "religious equality amendment" was a dangerous and unnecessary 
initiative packaged with an attractive name. Thus, even though it opposed much of 
the rest of the Jewish community in its support for vouchers, the Union of Orthodox 
Jewish Congregations joined with its coreligionists in opposition to the constitu- 
tional initiative. And, for the most part, those who did not join in the opposition, 
such as Agudath Israel of America, took a "wait-and-see" attitude rather than 
weigh in on the side of the Christian Coalition. 

Judicial Action 

In March 1994, on one of the middle days of Passover, the U.S. Supreme Court 
heard arguments in Board of Education ofKiryas Joel v. Grumet. The result of this 
case was somewhat comforting to the "strict" church-state separationists, but it also 
demonstrated the thin margin by which any Court decision in this area was likely 
to be rendered. In addition, the case demonstrated the divisions within the Jewish 
community as to the principles on which these issues ought to be decided. 

The case involved a challenge to New York State's creation of a special school 
district, its borders congruent with those of the existing village of Kiryas Joel, in 
order to provide remedial educational services for handicapped Hassidic children. 
The school district was created because the state was prohibited by Supreme Court 
precedent from providing the federally funded remedial services on the premises of 
Kiryas Joel's parochial schools, even while the Hassidic parents asserted that they 
could not send their children to nearby public schools for these services because they 
believed the children would be harassed. 

The state and the Satmar Hassidim, represented by Washington lawyer Nathan 
Lewin, argued that creation of the school district was a constitutionally appropriate 
accommodation of the needs of a particular religious community. The two taxpayers 
bringing the challenge countered, and the New York Court of Appeals held, that 
the state's action had created a "religiously segregated environment" that violated 
the constitutional prohibition on government establishment of religion, and that 
there were other, more appropriate, means of accommodating the concerns of the 
Hassidic parents. Orthodox groups, including Agudath Israel of America and the 
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, filed friend-of-the-court 
briefs in support of the district's creation, with briefs on the other side filed by the 
American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Religious 
Action Center of Reform Judaism, among others. 

As the Supreme Court neared the end of its term in June 1994, it issued a 6-3 


ruling sustaining the lower courts' finding that the Kiryas Joel school district was 
unconstitutional. Most Jewish groups other than the Orthodox hailed the ruling. 
Even so, those claiming victory acknowledged that the problem yet remained as to 
how to accommodate the needs of the Hassidic children in a fashion that would not 
violate separation of church and state. 

Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence 
Thomas dissented from the majority opinion and would have ruled in favor of the 
school district. Their opinions reiterated a theme from earlier cases — their view that 
it was time to revisit a church-state doctrine that they viewed as hostile to religion. 
Of the remaining justices, four — Justices Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, 
Sandra Day O'Connnor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — joined in the majority opinion 
of Justice David Souter that struck down the district. They did so, however, on a 
relatively narrow basis, that civil authority may not be delegated on the basis of 
religious criteria. Broader questions with respect to traditional church-state analysis 
remained unresolved. The concurring opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 
remaining justice in the majority, revealed that he had voted to strike down the 
district not out of Establishment Clause concerns, but because he opposed the 
creation of the district as equivalent to the creation of election districts on the basis 
of race, a practice whose constitutionality he questioned. 

Justice Souter's opinion for the Court, stressing that the ruUng did not prevent 
appropriate accommodations of religious practice, set forth a number of ways in 
which the Hassidic children might receive the remedial services without the Consti- 
tution being violated. Instead of following Justice Souter's suggestions, the New 
York State legislature, pointing to language in Justice O'Connor's concurrence 
which found a problem in the Kiryas Joel district because it was created by the 
legislature to benefit Hassidic children directly, passed a law — within a week of the 
decision — that allowed any village to form a school district if certain conditions 
were met. Opponents challenged this enactment as a subterfuge, claiming that these 
supposedly generic conditions were in fact applicable only to Kiryas Joel. They 
warned that this step would invite a Balkanization of communities in which diverse 
religious, racial, ethnic, and sexual groups would all want their own school districts. 

A challenge to the constitutionality of the new statute was turned back in March 
1995 by a New York State trial level court, the same court whose decision overturn- 
ing the earlier legislation had earlier found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This 
left the Kiryas Joel Village School District in place as the case once again began to 
wend its way through the appellate process. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court 
heard argument on two new church-state cases and, on the last day of the term in 
June 1995, rendered potentially ground-breaking decisions. 

One case, Rosenberger v. Rectors of the University of Virginia , involved a challenge 
by the editor of a student-run Christian magazine to the university's refusal to 
allocate it funds generally available to student publications on the grounds that this 
action violated his freedom of speech. The university had refused the funding 
because, in its view, to do otherwise would violate church-state separation. Voting 


5-4, the majority held that the "viewpoint discrimination" on the part of the 
university was not justified, even if the motive of the school officials was to avoid 
a violation of the establishment clause. The opinion of the Court, written by Justice 
Kennedy, made much of the fact that the funding program was "neutral toward 
religion," not a general tax levied "for the direct support of a church." He also 
referred to the fact that the funds would be paid to the printer and not to the 
religious club. Justice Souter wrote for the dissenters, contending that the Court had 
"for the first time, approve[d] direct funding of core religious activities by an arm 
of the State." Evenhandedness in distributing benefits, he asserted, was not sufficient 
to overcome the constitutional ban on such an action by the state. 

The other case, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette, argued in 
April, saw the Court hold by a 7-2 vote that the Ku Klux Klan had a free-speech 
right to display an unattended wooden cross on the Ohio statehouse lawn because 
other religious and nonreligious displays had been allowed. There was no majority 
opinion, however, as to the rationale for this decision. Justice Scalia, writing for four 
of the majority justices, argued that purely private rehgious expression that occurs 
in a "pubhc forum" open to all on equal terms is, by definition, not a violation of 
the Estabhshment Clause. Justices Stevens and Ginsburg dissented, contending, 
among other things, that a reasonable observer would infer government endorse- 
ment of even a private religious expression. 

Faced with complex questions about the relationship between the Constitution's 
prohibition on establishment of religion and its protection of free speech, the orga- 
nized Jewish community seemed nearly as spht as the Supreme Court on these two 
cases, particularly with respect to Pinette . "These two cases together shrink the 
Estabhshment Clause," asserted Samuel Rabinove, legal director for the American 
Jewish Committee. "Thomas Jefferson, who disestablished the Anghcan Church in 
Virginia and who founded the University of Virginia must be turning over in his 
grave." The American Jewish Congress expressed less alarm about the long-term 
impact of the cases even though it had filed on the same side as AJCommittee, 
Attorneys for the Orthodox community, in contrast to both of the AJCs, hailed the 
decisions as a welcome recognition by the Court that, in the words of attorney 
Nathan Lewin, "rehgious expression is entitled to the same respect as secular 
expression " Agudath Israel general counsel David Zwiebel argued as well that the 
Rosenberger case was "a step closer" to the upholding of voucher programs as 


With the retirement of Justice Harry Blackmun at the close of the U.S. Supreme 
Court's 1993 term (in the summer of 1994), the organized Jewish community lost 
a strong supporter of its positions on such issues as rehgious hberty and abortion 
rights. In naming Justice Blackmun's successor — his second appointment to the 
high court — President Clinton once again named a Jewish jurist, this time Judge 


Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Justice Breyer 
was confirmed in July 1994 by a Senate vote of 87-9. The Harvard Law School- 
educated Breyer brought with him a reputation for high legal competence, even 
brilliance, and for consensus building. 

Following nearly two-and-a-half decades in which no Jew sat on the Supreme 
Court — a period that ended only with the 1993 appointment of Ruth Bader Gins- 
burg — Justice Breyer's appointment meant that, for the first time since 1938, there 
were two Jewish justices. In the view of many Jewish commentators, Chnton's 
second Jewish appointment was particularly gratifying because the decision had 
clearly been made based on merit and not on religion. In addition, they were 
reassured by statements made by Judge Breyer at his confirmation hearing that 
placed him firmly in support of the principle of separation of church and state. 

"Free-Exercise" Developments 

Rehgious harassment in the workplace became an issue, starting in March 1994, 
when the Christian Coahtion attacked guidehnes proposed by the Equal Employ- 
ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to protect employees from harassing and 
derogatory slurs targeted at them because of their religious beliefs. 

The Christian Coahtion and other conservative Christian groups claimed that, 
rather than protect employees from harassment, the guidehnes would push employ- 
ers into making their workplaces "religion-free," so that any form of rehgious 
expression would be prohibited. The guidehnes opponents quickly garnered support 
from a number of senators in their attempt to have the guidelines withdrawn, with 
hearings held on the issue before a Senate committee. Many Christian and civil- 
liberties groups, joined by a virtually unanimous Jewish community, differed sharply 
with this attack on ihe EEOC guidehnes, viewing them as an important protection 
of rehgious free exercise — even while conceding that the guidehnes ought to be 
revised so as to make clear that they were directed only at truly harassing and 
derogatory behavior. Abba Cohen, Washington representative of Agudath Israel of 
America, stressed that Orthodox Jews are often harassed by questions or comments 
concerning their mode of dress or their observance of the Sabbath. Supporters of 
the guidehnes were championed by Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, who asked, "What 
kind of signal would that send? That we abhor racial or sexual slurs, but that 
rehgious slurs are somehow less abhorrent, or even acceptable?" 

In September 1994, following the inclusion in appropriations legislation of lan- 
guage that restricted EEOC autonomy in dealing with religious harassment, the 
EEOC withdrew the entire set of guidelines, including the portions deahng with 
other forms of harassment. Given the changes in Congress following the November 
election, it was unhkely that the EEOC would soon reissue guidehnes on this subject. 

Not to be confused with — but related to — religious harassment is the issue of 
rehgious accommodation. In the closing days of the 103rd Congress, Rep. Jerrold 
Nadler (D., N.Y.) introduced the Workplace Rehgious Freedom Act, legislation 


that would protect the right of employees to practice their religion without the fear 
of losing their jobs or being passed over for promotions. A 1972 amendment to the 
Civil Rights Act of 1964 ostensibly provided religiously observant employees with 
a right to religious accommodation. However, the courts had so narrowly inter- 
preted that amendment that it left employers with relatively little obligation. The 
Workplace Religious Freedom Act, American Jewish Committee legislative direc- 
tor and counsel Richard Foltin argued, "would give the protection the weight 
Congress intended in the first place." 


Holocaust-Related Matters 

There were further developments in the case of John Demjanjuk, the man who 
may not have been "Ivan the Terrible" but by all the evidence was an Ivan culpable 
for many horrors visited upon Jewish men, women, and children during the Holo- 
caust. Following his return to the United States in September 1993, after the Israeli 
Supreme Court reversed his conviction on the grounds that the prosecution had not 
met its burden of proof, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 
Sixth Circuit overturned Demjanjuk's extradition, thus allowing him to remain in 
the United States. That decision was affirmed by the full Court of Appeals in 
February 1994. 

The three-judge panel found, in issuing its ruling, that the Justice Department's 
Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had committed fraud in the 1985 proceedings 
in which Demjanjuk's extradition to Israel was initially ordered, and that OSI had 
been unduly influenced by Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, 
in its bringing the action in the first place. Neither of these findings was set aside 
in the full court's reconsideration of the matter, even though they ran counter to 
the 1992 conclusions of U.S. district court Judge Thomas Wiseman, Jr., who, as a 
special master appointed by the appellate court, had exonerated OSI on these points. 

OSI filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asserting that the government 
had acted in good faith. OSI's petition to have the case heard by the high court was 
supported by the World Jewish Congress, among others, whose brief asserted that 
the lower court's decision perpetuated a "vicious stereotype" of Jews. On Monday, 
October 3, 1994, the opening day of a new term, the high court declined to hear 
the case. 

The Supreme Court's decision did not end the case. The Sixth Circuit determina- 
tion had not overturned the 1981 ruling by U.S. District Judge Frank Battisti that 
denaturalized Demjanjuk on the grounds that Demjanjuk had lied about his activi- 
ties during the war in his application for citizenship. The Justice Department filed 
a motion with the district court in December 1993 asking that this finding be 


reaffirmed, an action that would provide the basis for Demjanjuk's deportation. 
Judge Battisti had stayed action on that petition pending resolution of the appeal 
to the high court. The month was not out, however, before Judge Battisti died, thus 
assuring further delay on a final resolution of the matter. 

With far less public attention, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investi- 
gations continued its work in other cases of gathering and presenting evidence of 
alleged involvement in World War II atrocities by persons who had obtained U.S. 
citizenship after the war. In late January 1994, OSI filed new documents in its 
ongoing attempt (dating back to 1992) to denaturalize Jonas Stelmokas, a Lithua- 
nian-American residing in Philadelphia, on the grounds that, among other things, 
he had allegedly been a platoon commander of a Lithuanian police battalion that 
participated in the liquidation of the Kovno Jewish ghetto on October 29, 1941, in 
which 9,200 Jews, almost half of them children, died in mass executions. 

In March 1994, within a week of being served with notice of an OSI deportation 
proceeding, Peter Mueller — a Colorado resident and German national who was 
alleged to have served as an armed Nazi concentration-camp guard in France during 
World War II — voluntarily left the United States for Germany. In April a federal 
immigration judge in Milwaukee ordered the deportation of Croatian-born Anton 
Tittjung, a former guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, on the 
grounds that he had lied about his wartime record to gain entry to the United States 
and, later, to obtain citizenship. And in September OSI brought citizenship-revoca- 
tion proceedings against two men accused of war crimes in Lithuania, including 
Aleksandras Lileikis of Norwood, Massachusetts, who was said to have been the 
chief of the Lithuanian Security Police — the Saugumas — for the entire Vilnius 
(Vilna) Province during the German occupation. The Saugumas were responsible 
for some of the most brutal atrocities against Jews and others during World War 

Actions were brought by OSI against other war criminals throughout 1994 and 
into 1995, as well. In all, OSI reported in September 1994, 50 Nazi war criminals 
up until that time had lost their citizenship because of OSI cases, and 42 of those 
had been removed from the United States. As of that date, OSI was investigating 
more than 300 additional possible war criminals. 

OSI's top leadership changed in 1994. Director Neal Sher left OSI, after 15 years 
of government service, to become executive director of the American Israel Public 
Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Sher's departure, taken together with the accusations 
leveled at OSI by an appellate court in the wake of the unfavorable result in the 
Demjanjuk case, raised some concern that the Justice Department office might see 
its mission compromised or its very existence threatened. For the Jewish commu- 
nity, however, there was a general conviction that the OSI's mission was more 
essential than ever, given the new flow of information from a democratizing Eastern 
Europe that was likely to mean new opportunities to identify, and take action 
against, war criminals. 


Eli Rosenbaum, a longtime attorney on the OSI staflf, was appointed acting 
director upon Sher's departure and director in February 1995. He was generally 
regarded by the Jewish community as a capable lawyer and passionate advocate of 
OSI's work. 

Pollard and Manning 

Late in 1993, outgoing defense secretary Les Aspin advised President Clinton that 
Jonathan Pollard, who was serving a life sentence for delivering sensitive U.S. 
classified material to Israel, had tried to send out top secret information in 14 letters 
from his prison cell. 1994 began with a rebuttal to this charge by spy novelist 
Howard Kaplan, who released a censored letter he had received from Pollard some 
six years earlier, in order to demonstrate that all of Pollard's correspondence was 
subject to heavy censorship and that Pollard knew that it was. 

The controversy over Aspin's allegations was related to an ongoing controversy 
within the administration over whether Pollard should be granted clemency, with 
the State and Justice Departments reportedly for and the Defense Department and 
intelligence agencies reportedly against. 

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and several American Jewish organizations 
appealed to President Clinton to reduce Pollard's life sentence on humanitarian 
grounds, the effect of which reduction would be to make Pollard eligible for immedi- 
ate parole. The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, after 
years of avoiding the fray, wrote to the president, urging that there be a review of 
the case and that, if the president found the sentence improper, he consider reducing 
the sentence to time served. 

On March 23, President Clinton announced his decision to deny clemency to 
Pollard, noting that this decision reflected "the unanimous views of the law enforce- 
ment and national security agencies," including Attorney General Janet Reno, 
based on "the grave nature" of Pollard's crime and "the considerable damage that 
his actions caused our nation." Pollard's attorneys, as well as his supporters in the 
Jewish community, who had long argued that he committed his crimes out of love 
for Israel, and that the fruits of his espionage were shared only with a friendly 
nation, expressed their disappointment and anger at this determination. 

Pollard's supporters now focused their attention on a campaign to win him parole 
on humanitarian grounds when he first became eligible in November 1995. In the 
meantime, in May 1994, Pollard married Elaine Zeitz, the head of a Canadian 
support group seeking his release. The wedding took place at a federal correctional 
institution in Butner, North Carolina, where Pollard was serving his term. 

California-born Robert Manning, a dual Israeli-American national, was sen- 
tenced by an American court to life imprisonment — without possibility of parole 
for 30 years — for his role in the 1980 mail-bomb death of a Los Angeles secretary. 
Manning had been named as a suspect by Los Angeles authorities in a number of 
cases involving attacks against Arab- Americans and neo-Nazis, but the sentence in 


this case was for a crime with no apparent political or religious connection. His wife, 
Rachel Manning, also a dual national, was ordered extradited to the United States 
by Israel for her role in the same crime, but died of a heart attack on March 1 8, 
1994, while still in Israeli custody. 

Richard T. Foltin 

Jewish Communal Affairs 

XVeverberations of the SEPTEMBER 1 993 mutual-recognition agrw- 
ment between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) continued to 
divide American Jewry throughout 1994 and early 1995. A vocal minority of 
American Jews, convinced that the peace process would prove fatal to the Jewish 
state, used public protest and political action to frustrate the stated policy of the 
Israeli government. The ramifications of the peace process, in turn, led to intensified 
debate about the future of American Jewish-Israeli relations and the impact of that 
relationship on the future of Jewish life in the United States. Other issues that 
attracted attention were the death of the Rebbe of Lubavitch, Menachera M. 
Schneerson, the renewed questioning — in light of the 1994 elections — of Jewish 
political liberalism, the fate of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and the ongoing 
relevance of Holocaust memory. 

Debating the Peace Process 

While a solid majority of American Jews, along with most of their major organiza- 
tions, supported the Israel-PLO agreement with varying degrees of enthusiasm, a 
determined minority opposed it on security or rehgious grounds, or both. Another 
minority — less aggressive and vociferous, to be sure, since it basically agreed with 
Israeli policy — urged the Jewish state to be even more forthcoming in addressing 
Palestinian concerns. 

On January 4, 1994, Lester Pollack, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of 
Major American Jewish Organizations, delivered an address in Jerusalem on 
"American Jewry, Israel, and the Peace Process." Acknowledging that American 
Jews felt "growing concern and apprehension about violence and terror" in Israel 
since the Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn almost three months 
earlier, he denied any "real diminution" of American Jewish support for the peace 
process. Chiding the media for paying too much attention to the dissenters in the 
American Jewish community. Pollack declared that those dissenters "should ex- 
press their views in responsible and effective ways." 

Early the next day, bombs were left outside the New York offices of two organiza- 
tions that had long and vocally supported the peace process. A security guard found 
the bomb intended for Americans for Peace Now (APN), and the police disarmed 
it. The bomb left in front of the New Israel Fund went off, but caused no damage. 
Both had notes attached condemning Israel's peace pohcy and signed by Maccabee 
Squad and Shield of David, hitherto unknown groups. 

The entire spectrum of American Jewish organizations, including those opposed 



to the peace process — even the Jewish Defense Organization, a successor to the late 
Rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League — denounced the attacks. Neverthe- 
less, Israel's consul in New York, Colette Avital, interviewed on CBS's "60 Min- 
utes," said that the bombing attempts were the inevitable result of extreme state- 
ments against the Israeli government and the verbal and physical abuse heaped upon 
Israeli representatives by certain American Jewish audiences. Letty Cottin Pogre- 
bin, chairwoman of Americans for Peace Now, specifically blamed "supporters of 
the Likud and other rightist parties" for "using words like 'traitor' to delegitimate 
the Rabin government and its supporters." Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak 
Shamir added fuel to the fire when he asserted that even had the bombs gone off, 
the damage would have amounted to less than that caused by Peace Now. The 
Conference of Presidents was about to condemn the comment, but executive vice- 
chairman Malcolm Hoenlein put in a call to Shamir, who explained that his state- 
ment had come out the opposite of what he intended. 

In February the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council 
(NJCRAC), the umbrella organization reflecting the views of national and local 
Jewish bodies, took up the subject of the peace process. For the first time, it heard 
presentations not only from an Israeli government spokesperson — in this case. 
Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin — but also from opposition leader Benjamin 
Netanyahu. After listening to both sides, the delegates almost unanimously affirmed 
support for the peace process and resolved to mount an educational campaign "to 
broaden American public understanding of the peace process and risks related to 
it" and "to discourage divisive and inflammatory rhetoric" within the Jewish com- 


On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician, 
opened fire on Muslims at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the heavily Arab 
West Bank city of Hebron. At least 29 were killed and many more wounded before 
Goldstein was subdued and beaten to death. The act was universally condemned in 
the American Jewish community, as both rabbis and Jewish organizations called it 
antithetical to Jewish values. In several American communities, Jews joined with 
Christians and Muslims at interfaith services to mourn the victims and pray for 
peace. Nevertheless, Jews differed with each other over the massacre's implications 
for the ongoing peace process. 

The mainstream umbrella organizations supporting Israeli policy warned that the 
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must not fall victim to this atrocity. Lynn Lyss, 
NJCRAC chairwoman, hoped that "today's tragedy will spur a renewal of efforts 
to bring peace and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians." Lester Pol- 
lack, the Conference of Presidents chairman, said: "We must not allow this or other 
acts of violence to undermine peace negotiations, incite tensions in the area, or 
provoke further bloodshed." The conference's regularly scheduled annual mission 


to Israel began two days later. The talks that took place between the Jewish leaders 
on the mission and the Jews and Arabs they met focused on the fate of the peace 
process. Executive vice-chairman Hoenlein summed up the conclusions of the 
Americans: "There is a threat of polarization, both Palestinian and Israeli. The 
challenge for the Israeli leadership is to ensure that polarization not be allowed to 

Groups to the left and the right of this mainstream had other ideas. Those 
ardently committed to furthering the peace process argued that Goldstein had been 
able to act because Israeli poHcy was too soft on militant Jewish settlers. Americans 
for Peace Now, for example, urged the Israeli government to "remove Jews from 
the heart of Hebron where their presence inflames relations and poses a danger to 
all residents of the area." And several weeks later, APN joined with the National 
Association of Arab Americans in a formal statement calling for the evacuation of 
all Israeli settlers from Hebron and Gaza. But on the other side of the political 
spectrum, Americans for a Safe Israel, affiliated with the Israeli Likud, blamed 
Israel's peace policy for letting Arabs "get away with murder," thereby nurturing 
the "frustration" among Jewish settlers that led to Goldstein's act. During the 
Conference of Presidents' mission to Israel, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist 
Organization of America, publicly challenged a Palestinian leader to match Jewish 
condemnation of the Hebron massacre by condemning Palestinian killings of Jews. 
When he declined to do so, Klein called it a "frightening message about his insincer- 
ity in wanting to live in peace with the Israeli people." 

Of all American Jews, it was the Orthodox who had the most difficulty coming 
to grips with the Hebron killings: Baruch Goldstein had been raised in a Brooklyn 
Orthodox home and educated in well-known yeshivas. Since those who knew him 
had only good things to say about Goldstein — "he was as nice a boy as you'll ever 
find," recalled one teacher — many could only explain his act as an outburst of 
irrationality. Shlomo Riskin, the American-born rabbi of the West Bank town of 
Efrat, said, on a visit to New York, that Goldstein was "a very compassionate doctor 
who just went insane." 

Others were not willing to leave it at that and called for critical scrutiny of the 
kind of Orthodox Judaism that could produce a Goldstein. Rabbi Louis Bernstein, 
his Jewish history professor at Yeshiva University, recalled with regret the failure 
of modern Orthodox circles to ostracize Meir Kahane. "Ashamnu" he said, "we 
are guilty, we have tolerated this phenomenon of Kahanism in Jewish life." Ze'ev 
Chafetz, writing in the Jerusalem Report (March 24, 1995), claimed that "anyone 
who has visited Orthodox synagogues in America" knows the extent of Kahanist 
influence. And Shlomo Sternberg, an Orthodox rabbi, in a letter to the New York 
Times (March 9, 1994), asserted that "there is something rotten" at the core of 
modern Orthodox education. "Literalism, fundamentalism, and obscurantism," he 
wrote, had taken over the curriculum, ultimately producing a Goldstein. In re- 
sponse, 1,700 students from 22 yeshiva high schools paid for a full-page ad in the 
Times (March 18) deploring the massacre, but at the same time expressing "dis- 


tress" at "the silence of Arab leaders in the face of wanton violence against Jews" 
and "concern" over the stereotyping of all Jewish settlers on the basis of Goldstein's 

Even as the Hebron massacre evoked renewed calls both in Israel and the United 
States to curb the activities of militant Jewish settlers in heavily Arab parts of the 
West Bank, most Orthodox organizations — many of whose members had relatives 
living in the tei'ritories — continued to express skepticism about the peace negotia- 
tions. Orthodox fund-raising for the settlements in the territories continued, with 
a number of synagogues "adopting" specific Jewish settlements. Rabbi Pinchas 
Stolper, executive vice-president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, 
explained: "Our position is that the security and safety and development of the 
Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria must be protected and enhanced." Those 
within the Orthodox community who favored the peace process — they would form 
an organization later in the year called Shvil Hazahav (The Middle Way) — de- 
scribed themselves as a beleaguered minority, and some reported receiving death 

The organized American Jewish community found itself in the unaccustomed 
position of differing with the government of Israel over a proposed UN Security 
Council resolution condemning the Hebron massacre. While no one opposed the 
condemnation itself, the resolution had a problematic preamble that included Jeru- 
salem as one of the "territories occupied by Israel in June 1967." American Jewish 
groups reacted with alarm, fearful that U.S. acquiescence with this wording might 
mark a retreat from the American position that Jerusalem is not "occupied terri- 
tory." The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the administration 
to exercise its veto. Both the Conference of Presidents and the American Israel 
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were about to endorse the call for a veto when 
they were informed that the Israeli government wanted the resolution passed as 
worded, so as to bring the Palestinians back to the bargaining table to continue the 
negotiations broken off after the massacre. Thus, only the Zionist Organization of 
America (ZOA) and — at the last minute — the Anti-Defamation League called for 
a U.S. veto. The UN resolution passed unanimously on March 18, with the Ameri- 
can delegate abstaining on the objectionable language in the preamble, an act having 
no legal bearing on the validity of the resolution. Afterward, the American Jewish 
organizations that knew full well in advance that Israel had opposed a U.S. veto 
issued pro forma denunciations of the preamble. 

In April the ZOA, whose official policy supported peace negotiations along with 
an insistence on meticulous PLO adherence to its undertakings under the agree- 
ment, announced the creation of a Peace Accord Monitoring Group in Congress to 
keep tabs on whether the PLO was adhering to the accords. Israeli authorities 
expressed no opinion about this move. Eager to establish and enhance their pro- 
Israel credentials, 45 senators and representatives joined the group over the next 
several months. 

Through the spring and summer, there were numerous signs of rapprochement 


between mainstream American Jewish organizations and the Arab world. In April 
the American Zionist Movement held its first meeting ever with the PLO observer 
at the UN. In May delegates to the American Jewish Committee's annual meeting 
in Washington, D.C., for the first time visited the embassies of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, 
and Tunisia and the PLO office. Also that month, the AJCommittee met with the 
Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, the first time that any Kuwaiti leader had sat 
with representatives of an American Jewish organization. And in June the United 
Jewish Appeal added Jordan to the list of countries to which it sent organized 
missions. The generally sympathetic attitude of the American Jewish public toward 
Israeli policy was reflected in a poll conducted in May by an organization affiliated 
with the Israeli Labor Party: 88 percent of respondents favored the peace process, 

The Israeli government, however, recognizing the determination of the opposition 
within the American Jewish community, continued to use the powers of persuasion 
to reassure the doubters. In May 1994, both Uri Savir, director-general of Israel's 
Foreign Ministry and one of the architects of the Oslo accords, and Foreign Minister 
Shimon Peres came to New York to defend the peace process before the Conference 
of Presidents. 

The annual Salute to Israel Parade in May 1994, which featured some 60,000 
young marchers, managed to avoid political polarization. The parade chairperson 
said afterward, "We refused to get bogged down in any extraneous issues, such as 
'Are you for the government peace plan or are you against it?' " Nevertheless, 
dissident factions on the right and the left made their presence felt. Those of a dovish 
persuasion carried signs calling for dismantling Jewish settlements in the territories 
and the establishment of a Palestinian state, while the Betar Youth Organization, 
affiliated with Likud, chanted antigovernment sentiments, and the followers of Meir 
Kahane held up signs calling Yitzhak Rabin a traitor and Baruch Goldstein a hero. 
After the parade, 20,000 people attended a rally in Central Park "in solidarity with 
the settlements," sponsored by the National Council of Young Israel, an Orthodox 
synagogue group. 


Over the course of the summer, the three ideological camps within the community 
— followers of the Israeli line on the peace process, those favoring a more forthcom- 
ing Israeli stand, and those opposed to concessions — all tried to influence U.S. and 
Israeli government policy. 

In June, as the U.S. Agency for International Development prepared to set up 
an office to dispense funds for assistance to the autonomous Palestinian districts of 
Gaza and Jericho, AIPAC, seconded by pro-Israel members of Congress, warned 
that the office should not be located in East Jerusalem, since that would "erode 
Jerusalem's status as Israel's undivided capital." Americans for Peace Now dis- 
agreed, arguing that such an office in East Jerusalem would not set any precedent 
for the future. 


The next issue of controversy, later that month, was Prime Minister Rabin's 
statement that Yasir Arafat would be allowed to pray in Jerusalem. The Likud 
mayor of Jerusalem urged Diaspora Jews to join him in demonstrations against any 
such visit, and some American Jewish groups hostile to the peace process indicated 
a willingness to come. The Conference of Presidents declined to take sides, but 
NJCRAC issued a letter supporting the right of Arafat to pray in Jerusalem. 

In early July, the Golan Heights also became a focus of controversy. Americans 
for a Safe Israel and other American Jewish groups opposed to the peace process, 
in alliance with a number of Christian pro-Israel organizations, pushed aggressively 
for the U.S. Senate to bar appropriations for any possible deployment of U.S. troops 
for peacekeeping on the Golan Heights in the event of a peace agreement between 
Israel and Syria. Though this move was ostensibly motivated by concern for the 
safety of American GIs, Israeli officials termed it a blatant attempt to stymie a deal 
with Syria by foreclosing the option of an American peacekeeping role. In Prime 
Minister Rabin's words, "This is simple stupidity, a distorted presentation by the 
Israeli right and the American Jewish right." With AIPAC espousing the official 
Israeli position and lobbying against the proposed Senate restrictions on U.S. peace- 
keeping, they did not pass. 

Eventually, tensions between the mainstream Jewish bodies and those more skep- 
tical of the Israeli peace policy flared into open war. On July 29, at an all-night 
session of a congressional conference committee seeking to finalize the U.S. foreign 
aid bill, ZOA president Morton Klein appeared, urging the conferees to endorse the 
Shelby-Specter Amendment, which conditioned aid to the PLO on that organiza- 
tion's compliance with the peace accords. The amendment passed, to the great 
chagrin of the conference committee chairman. AIPAC, long acknowledged to be 
the community's designated pro-Israel lobby, expressed outrage, charging that 
Klein, by failing to consult and coordinate with AIPAC, had acted in "an amateur- 
ish and hostile fashion" that "put the entire pro-Israel agenda at risk." AIPAC 
called on the Conference of Presidents to take disciplinary action against the ZOA. 
Klein, for his part, charged that AIPAC was just jealous that its turf had been 
invaded. "One organization," he said, "cannot possibly represent community con- 
sensus on every issue, and I have a responsibility to speak out." 

Rejecting Klein's request for a public hearing on AIPAC's charges against him, 
the Conference of Presidents held a closed-door session of its leadership, which 
Klein refused to attend. What emerged was a set of guidelines for the future, 
reiterating that all Israel-related lobbying had to be cleared first with AIPAC, which 
voices the consensus of the community. Klein reacted by denying that there was any 
American Jewish consensus on Israel's policies, arguing: "If the community is split 
50-50 on an issue, how can AIPAC reflect a consensus of the Jewish people?" 
AIPAC responded that American Jewry as a whole backed Israel's course, and that 
the organization was therefore justified in speaking for the community. 

Meanwhile, American Jews eager to accelerate the peace process also pressed 
their case. In July Project Nishma sent a delegation to Syria, where it met for two 


hours with President Hafez al-Assad and discussed the prospects for a Syrian-Israeli 
peace. In August the American Jewish Congress sent a similar delegation to speak 
with Assad. This trip was officially under the aegis of the Council of Foreign 
Relations, whose U.S./Middle East Project director, Henry Siegman, was the for- 
mer AJCongress executive director. With the approach of the High Holy Days, the 
Israel Policy Forum, a pro-peace group, compiled a resource guide to traditional 
Jewish sources about peace, which it sent to some 4,000 American rabbis along with 
a cover letter suggesting that it be used for sermons. Not one of the 13 rabbinic 
signatories of the letter was Orthodox. 

On September 1 3, to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration 
of Principles between Israel and the PLO, Prime Minister Rabin participated in a 
teleconference with American Jews in over 70 cities, a number of whom described 
to Rabin what their communities had done to further the peace process. This was 
also the theme of a booklet issued by the Conference of Presidents. The same day, 
the American Jewish Committee released the results of a survey of American Jewish 
opinion about the peace process that showed continuing strong support for the 
negotiations. However, comparisons with a similar AJC poll taken immediately 
after the signing a year before indicated some slippage in enthusiasm. "People 
responded in a less euphoric, more realistic manner," explained AJC executive 
director David Harris. Significantly, while in 1993 no subgroup in the sample 
opposed the accords, in 1994 a majority of the Orthodox registered opposition. 

When the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations (GIF) con- 
vened in Denver in November, it heard not only from Prime Minister Rabin but 
also from Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu. This marked the first time that the 
leader of the Israeli opposition had been invited to speak. In his address, the prime 
minister lashed out at Israelis opposed to his peace policies, who, he charged, had 
been lobbying members of Congress to bar the stationing of American troops on the 
Golan. Such lobbyists, he said, were damaging Israel by strengthening isolationist 
tendencies in American poHtics. Netanyahu, in his speech, denied that he had 
anything to do with lobbying on Capitol Hill and proceeded to criticize the notion 
of using Americans to patrol the Golan. The CJF Board of Delegates approved a 
resolution endorsing the official Israeli peace policy. 


Several aspects of the November 8 congressional elections were noteworthy from 
a Middle East perspective. For one thing, donations to pro-Israel PACs dropped 
precipitously — 50 percent since the 1992 election. Observers attributed this to the 
lack of any sense of imminent danger to Israel, as evidenced by the peace negotia- 
tions and the friendly stance of the Clinton administration toward the Jewish state. 
For another, the huge Republican landslide brought numerous freshman member? 
to Congress, and AIPAC geared up to educate them about Israel-related issues. And 
since both houses of Congress would be Republican, American Jews hostile to the 


peace prcx:ess looked forward to key congressional committee chairmanships falling 
into the hands of foreign-policy hard-liners who would demand more of the Pales- 
tinians and the Arab nations than did the Clinton administration, or, for that matter, 
the government of Israel. 

A clash emerged even before the new Congress convened. On December 1 , a State 
Department report on PLO compliance with the peace accords unleashed another 
round of bickering within the American Jewish community and attempts by the 
competing factions to influence Congress. The report — which the Shelby-Specter 
Amendment required once every six months as a condition for American funding 
of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho — concluded that the PLO was 
sufficiently in compliance to merit the funding. Nevertheless, it cited numerous PLO 
words and deeds that seemed to contradict its professed commitment to peace with 
Israel. The ZOA, skeptical of the peace process to begin with, termed a "whitewash" 
the State Department conclusion that aid was merited and said it would use evidence 
in the report to lobby Congress against such aid. An official of Americans for Peace 
Now, on the other hand, while acknowledging that the Palestinians had not com- 
pletely lived up to their obligations, was "encouraged by their progress." 

Striving to build a middle-ground position, AIPAC president Steven Grossman 
announced that his organization continued to back aid for the Palestinian Authority 
while expressing sharp criticism of the PLO leader: "The time has come for Arafat 
to ratchet up his compliance with his commitments. If the Israeli people, the 
American people and Congress are going to have full faith in Arafat, then he needs 
to be more assiduous and steadfast in his efforts." This language proved too harsh 
for the Israeli government, which feared that it might give aid and comfort to those 
eager to cut off aid, a move that could sabotage the peace process. Israeli ambassador 
Itamar Rabinovich placed phone calls to American Jewish leaders urging them not 
to emphasize the negative aspects of the State Department report. Congress voted 
to renew funding. 


Meanwhile, the dovish critique of Israeli policy found its way onto the op-ed page 
of theA^ew York Times (January 26, 1995). In the wake of a suicide bombing that 
left 21 dead Israelis and induced Israeli president Ezer Weizman to call for a 
moratorium on the peace process, Henry Siegman argued, to the contrary, that only 
an Israeli decision to remove the settlements in the territories and a commitment 
to a Palestinian state would provide the reassurances that would pacify the Palestini- 
ans. Phil Baum, Siegman's successor as AJCongress executive director, and David 
V. Kahn, the organization's president, responded with a letter to the editor counter- 
ing that Siegman's proposal would "confer on the fanatics a legitimacy the peace 
process wisely denies them" (February 1, 1995). 

As the 104th Congress opened, attention shifted back to the issue of using U.S. 
troops to insure peace on the Golan. A new Coalition for a Secure U.S.-Israel 


Friendship, made up of Jewish and Christian groups opposed to any peace treaty 
in which Israel relinquished control of the strategic Golan Heights, lobbied aggres- 
sively for legislation barring such use of American forces. The lobby's message fit 
well with a popular disinclination to place American boys at risk in foreign countries 
and the isolationist tendencies evident in the new Republican Congress. Some 25 
members of Congress — including the new chairperson of the House International 
Relations Committee — signed on to a statement urging a full debate and vote before 
American forces were sent to the Golan. The Israeli government, which explicitly 
included the possibility of an American peacekeeping force in its negotiations with 
the Syrians, found itself on the defensive. 

After consultation with Israeli officials, the Conference of Presidents sought to 
defuse the matter. It issued a letter to two Republican senators pronouncing it 
"premature" to discuss a troop deployment that Israel had not yet even asked for 
and that would remain theoretical till Israel and Syria reached agreement. Some 
member organizations of the conference complained that the letter had been sent 
without their knowledge. Meanwhile, NJCRAC notified local community relations 
councils to influence their congressional representatives to back delay of any debate 
on the issue. And AIPAC sent a letter to all members of Congress urging that "no 
public position nor any legislative action, for or against U.S. personnel on the 
Golan" be taken. No congressional hearings were held for the time being. 


Like the question of American forces on the Golan, the perennial issue of moving 
the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had the potential to derail the peace 
process. The official policy of a long line of U.S. administrations was that the 
embassy did belong in the Israeli capital but could not be moved there until a peace 
treaty clarified the legal status of the city. In early 1995, with the Israeli government 
fearful that any movement of the embassy under current conditions would lead the 
Palestinians to break off negotiations. Senators Alfonse D'Amato (R.) and Daniel 
Moynihan (D.) of New York sought to skirt the problem by sponsoring a letter 
giving the State Department a deadline of May 1999 to move the embassy — exactly 
the date that Israel and the PLO had scheduled for the conclusion of final-status 
talks. AIPAC applauded this formulation, but the ZOA's Morton Klein said, 
"Move the embassy now. Who knows what it will be like in five years?" Although 
93 senators signed on to the D'Amato-Moynihan resolution, an alternative proposed 
by Sen. Jon Kyi (R., Ariz.), calling for an immediate transfer of the embassy, 
attracted the support of the ZOA, Americans for a Safe Israel, and the Jewish War 

In a speech to the AIPAC annual policy conference in May 1995, Senate majority 
leader and presidential hopeful Robert Dole (R., Kan.) announced that he was 
proposing legislation to begin construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem by the 
end of 1996, with the ambassador to move in there no later than 1999. While Israeli 
officials at the conference, including Prime Minister Rabin, studiously avoided 


comment, AIPAC announced its support. Americans for Peace Now and Project 
Nishma, however, attacked the proposal as inimical to the peace negotiations, the 
same position taken by the Clinton administration. NJCRAC, at a loss to reconcile 
its support for the Israel-PLO negotiations with its backing for moving the embassy, 
said: "We support the goal of the legislation. We also support the Middle East peace 
process and reconciliation between Israel and her Arab neighbors." 

A new poll of American Jewish attitudes toward the peace process was conducted 
in May by Luntz Research Companies, a firm associated with the Republican Party 
that had also done some work for Likud. While three-quarters of those polled 
approved of Israel's negotiating policies in general terms, less than half considered 
the Israel-PLO agreement of 1993 a success. The survey also indicated that Ameri- 
can Jews were almost evenly split over whether U.S. forces should monitor the 
Golan in the event of an Israel-Syria peace treaty. 

The annual Salute to Israel Parade on May 21, 1995, was overshadowed by an 
ugly incident that occurred earlier in the day, which showed once again the potential 
for intra-Jewish violence over the peace process. At the behest of Israeli officials, 
Israel's minister of communications, Shulamit Aloni, an outspoken dove and secula- 
rist, addressed a pre-parade breakfast for dignitaries and big givers — many of them 
religiously traditional and unsympathetic to Israel's peace policy. After a barrage 
of heckling and insults, the parade chairman charged the stage and, according to 
Aloni, punched her. He later denied the charge, claiming instead that, fearing for 
her safety, he had sought to clear the stage. While there was universal condemnation 
of the alleged assault, many observers also faulted the Israeli diplomats who insisted 
that Aloni speak before an audience that was sure to be hostile. 

In June, with funding for the Palestinian Authority once again up for renewal, 
Jewish groups opposed to the peace process argued that the PLO had broken its 
commitments and lobbied hard on Capitol Hill for a cutoff of funds. Reflecting their 
perspective. Senator D'Amato proposed legislation that would require the PLO to 
amend its covenant that still called for Israel's destruction, stop terrorism, and take 
steps against accused terrorists before it could receive aid. While the Israeli govern- 
ment and its American Jewish backers would have preferred legislation renewing 
PLO funding for another six months, they had to settle for a 90-day extension. 

On June 21, a group calling itself the International Rabbinical Coalition for Israel, 
claiming a membership of 3,000 Orthodox rabbis, issued a statement in New York 
declaring that Israel's peace policy violated Jewish law. One rabbi, Abraham Hecht, 
president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, said that it was permissible to 
assassinate Israeli leaders who sought to hand over Israeli land to non-Jews. 

American and Israeli Jews 

The reorientation of relations between the Israeli and American Jewish communi- 
ties, sparked in part by the prospect of a "normalized" Israel at peace with its 
neighbors, continued amid considerable controversy. 

Early in 1994, Yossi Beilin, Israel's deputy foreign minister, told a visiting Zionist 


women's group that Israel should no longer be the object of Diaspora philanthropy. 
"If our economic situation is better than in many of your countries," he said, "how 
can we go on asking for your charity?" The women reacted angrily. The World 
Zionist Executive quickly issued a statement saying that "the greatest mistake Israel 
can make is to separate Diaspora Jewry from the State of Israel and to callously stop 
the contribution of Diaspora Jewry to the ingathering of the exiles and building of 
the State of Israel." Unfazed, Beilin stuck to his guns, explaining that, in his view, 
Israel had matured to the point where it need not rely on outside economic aid. 
Therefore, he suggested, the entire structure of Israel-Diaspora relations had to be 
reevaluated, and monies previously donated to help the Jewish state perhaps put to 
better use in strengthening Jewish education in the Diaspora and sponsoring trips 
to Israel for young Jews. 

Inundated with irate inquiries from American Jewish leaders. Prime Minister 
Rabin repudiated Beilin's views as unrepresentative of his government. Quite aside 
from the economic benefit to Israel from Diaspora philanthropy, he noted, this 
transfer of money was also "the key to reinforcing the relationship between us and 
deepening the connection of Diaspora Jews with Israel." Rabin also noted that a 
diminution of Diaspora philanthropy to Israel might prompt second thoughts in the 
U.S. Congress about the $3 billion in aid it sent to Israel each year. He did add, 
however, that fund-raising should be supplemented by investment in the IsraeH 
economy and by cultural activities that could draw the two Jewish communities 

Ezer Weizman, the president of Israel, sought to deal with the emerging issues 
of Israel-Diaspora relations by announcing plans for a two-day conference at his 
official residence in June 1994. The more than 200 invitees — one-third Israelis, 
two-thirds Diaspora Jews — included not only leaders of Jewish organizations, but 
also intellectual and cultural figures. The president's purpose in convening this 
gathering was clearly to counter Diaspora criticism over his repeated delegitimiza- 
tion of their Jewish viabiHty and his call for massive aliyah (immigration). 

Weizman said that his plans had been formulated before the Beilin controversy 
and were independent of it. Nonetheless, it was Beilin who provided the fireworks 
at Weizman's conference by calling for the replacement of the Jewish Agency and 
the World Zionist Organization with a new democratic entity, Beit Yisrael, which 
would fund aliyah , visits to Israel by young Diaspora Jews, and Jewish education 
in the Diaspora. Beilin's proposal was ridiculed by the Diaspora Jewish leaders in 
attendance, who commented that the established organizations were already doing 
these things. The Diaspora participants were also highly critical of President Weiz- 
man, who, they felt, showed a shocking ignorance of Jewish Hfe outside Israel. One 
by one, in their presentations to the conference, the American Jews sought to 
counter dismal stereotypes of Jewish life in their countries and suggested that many 
Israelis had at least as great a problem acknowledging their Jewishness as American 
Jews did. Shoshana Cardin, the former Conference of Presidents chairwoman and 
newly elected chairwoman of the United Israel Appeal, charged that it was insulting 


for American Jews to be viewed as nothing more than "fodder for aliyah ," and that 
Israelis must learn "to respect the integrity of Diaspora communities." 

Although the only practical outcome of the conference was President Weizman's 
creation of a 12-person committee to devise ways for Israel to enhance Jewish 
continuity in the Diaspora, the publicity the conference generated, coming in the 
wake of the BeiHn incident, thrust the question of Israel- Diaspora relations into the 
forefront of American Jewish communal life. 

In February 1995, the American Jewish Committee board of governors, meeting 
in Jerusalem, issued a policy statement on the subject that stressed the mutual 
responsibility and interdependence of the two communities. It firmly rejected the 
Beilin view that philanthropy was outmoded, praised American Jewish immigrants 
while recognizing that mass aliyah from the United States was unlikely, supported 
programs that bring young Diaspora Jews to Israel, and suggested greater coopera- 
tion between IsraeH and American Jews in devising ways of insuring Jewish continu- 
ity in both countries. 

A more analytical treatment of the subject was provided by Samuel Norich, the 
former director of YIVO, in an exhaustive 86-page study, fVhat Will Bind Us Now? 
A Report on the Institutional Ties Between Israel and American Jewry, sponsored 
by the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. After tracing the 
steady decline in American Jewish philanthropy for Israel and American Jewry's 
mounting interest in its own cultural survival, Norich analyzed five proposals — one 
of them Yossi Beilin's — for shifting the institutional relationships between the two 
Jewish communities. 

In June 1995, one of the five proposals discussed by Norich on the basis of hearsay 
— a plan to merge the operations of the Council of Jewish Federations and the 
United Jewish Appeal — was made pubHc for the first time. The result of a two-year 
joint study by the two organizations, it suggested that UJA end its tie to the 
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and become the fund-raising arm 
of the federation network for international, national, and local causes. Although this 
merger plan had the clear benefit of streamlining costs, it raised the concern that 
broadening UJA's focus from Israel-oriented to all-purpose fund-raising could lead 
to a further diminution of the percentage of the philanthropic dollar going to Israel, 
a danger underlined by a provision that GIF, whose major concern was domestic 
Jewish causes, would control at least 40 percent of the new UJA board. For the 
moment, however, this proposal was only in the discussion stage. 


The choice of a new chairperson for the Jewish Agency — the body that receives 
and disburses the money collected by UJA for Israel — turned into a naked power 
struggle between the Israeli government and Diaspora fund-raisers. In February 
1994, chairman Simcha Dinitz, under indictment for financial irregularities, took a 
leave of absence, and Israel's governing Labor Party, with the approval of the 


Diaspora leaders, chose Yehiel Leket, head of the Youth Aliyah department, to 
replace him on an interim basis. But a year later — to the chagrin of the Rabin 
government — the "advise and consent" committee of the Jewish Agency board of 
governors, controlled by the Diaspora leaders, rejected Leket for the permanent 
position, choosing instead Avraham Burg, a Labor Party member of the Knesset 
who was extremely popular in the United States. Leket withdrew his candidacy, 
making Burg's election in June 1995 by the World Zionist Organization meeting in 
Jerusalem a foregone conclusion. Burg, espousing the slogan "one people, one 
body," announced his support for a merger of the WZO and the Jewish Agency. 
At the Jewish Agency Assembly, which was held at the same time. Burg distributed 
a booklet entitled Brit Am, detailing his ideas for joint educational programs to 
enhance the Jewishness of Israeli and American Jews, including a Jewish open 
university, satelHte linkages, and a Jewish peace corps. 

The Continuity Debate 

The prominence of Jewish identity issues in the reevaluation of American Jewish- 
Israeli ties underscored the ongoing concern of American Jewry about its declining 
numbers. Ever since the CJF-sponsored 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, 
which showed an over-50-percent intermarriage rate for young Jews and other 
unmistakable signs of demographic erosion, many in the Jewish community ago- 
nized over what to do. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin stated the challenge 
at the 1994 CJF General Assembly: With the opening of free Jewish emigration from 
the former Soviet Union, the slogan was no longer "Let My People Go," but "Let 
My People Be Jewish." 

Ironically, one of the ways suggested to attack the problem was an American 
version of the Yossi Beilin approach, a strategy that would turn American Jewish 
energies inward. "Burden of Peace: American Jews Grapple with an Identity Crisis 
as Peril to Israel Ebbs," was the front-page headline in the Wall Street Journal 
(September 14, 1994). Emphasizing that "American Jewish leaders are casting about 
for a new way for the U.S. Jewish community to define itself, apart from Israel," 
the article noted that many Jews wanted philanthropic dollars diverted away from 
Israel and devoted, instead, to domestic Jewish continuity causes. But the reporter 
found no consensus either on which non-Israel-related issues could enhance the 
Jewishness of young people or on how to address them. 

The organized Jewish community sponsored conferences and pubhshed reports 
arguing for changes to revitalize American Jewish life. The Wilstein Institute of 
Jewish Policy Studies released a pamphlet of essays about the need for federations 
and synagogues to cooperate and pool their talents to provide compelling Jewish 
programming. The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University 
published a report by Gary Tobin, its director, that sharply criticized the panoply 
of American Jewish organizations, arguing that they should reorient their priorities 
to Jewish continuity or else consider going out of business. Responding to Tobin's 


challenge, leaders of the major organizations agreed with him in principle, while 
insisting that their own agencies were already in the process of changing to meet 
the new challenges. 

Much was expected from the North American Commission on Jewish Identity 
and Continuity, an 88-member body of experts created by the Council of Jewish 
Federations in 1992 to prepare a series of recommendations for presentation to the 
GIF General Assembly in November 1994. The 36-page draft report distributed at 
theGA asserted that Jewish identity was "the bedrock of Jewish continuity." Its 
suggestions for improvement included maintaining Jewish identity as a top commu- 
nal priority; research and evaluation to find out which Jewish-identity programs 
were most effective; greater focus on the needs of individual Jews rather than on 
institutional imperatives; a balance between "formative" and "transformative" Jew- 
ish experiences; and taking steps to insure that young Jews maintain Jewish involve- 
ment even after bar/bat mitzvah. 

A distinct lack of enthusiasm greeted the report. For one thing, it made no 
attempt to define Jewish identity. For another, critics charged that it lacked specif- 
ics. As Rabbi David Elcott, academic vice-president of CLAL (National Jewish 
Center for Learning and Leadership) put it: "If the report was talking about enhanc- 
ing health, we would expect recommendations, such as 'don't smoke, exercise.' " 
Defending the work of the commission, Jonathan Woocher, executive vice-president 
of the Jewish Education Service of North America, who supervised the preparation 
of the report, said that specific priorities could not be dictated by a national body, 
but would have to emerge from local Jewish leaders familiar with the situation in 
specific communities. Martin Kraar, executive vice-president of CJF, agreed: "We 
have federations going in a variety of directions, and CJF has not addressed the 
effort except to do some networking of heads of local continuity commissions." 


There continued to be considerable interest in promoting trips to Israel as a means 
to kindle a Jewish spark in American Jewish teenagers and young adults. Under 
large grants from the CRB Foundation and other organizations and individuals, the 
UJA sponsored programs and ran media advertisements in several Jewish communi- 
ties to interest young Jews in visiting Israel. In addition, fully 45 percent of the 
money spent by the WZO Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education went for 
subsidizing programs in Israel for Diaspora young people. So impressed were many 
American Jewish leaders with the Israel experience as a key to Jewish transforma- 
tion that UJA executive vice-president Brian Lurie suggested that the State of Israel 
itself allocate $10 million — to be matched by both the Jewish Agency and American 
Jewry — toward the creation of a $30-million "megafund" that would guarantee a 
trip to Israel for every American Jewish teenager. 

There were skeptics. For one thing, it was noted that all the publicity and 
subsidies encouraging visits to Israel had not augmented the number of young 


people going. As Howard Weisband, secretary general of the Jewish Agency, ex- 
plained, children growing up in homes remote from Jewish life were indifferent to 
Israel and had no desire to visit there, no matter how low the cost (Jerusalem 
Report, July 27, 1995). And even for those who could be prevailed upon to go, the 
impact would surely be greatest on those who already came with some Jewish 
consciousness and knowledge. Those landing in Israel without previous exposure to 
anything Jewish were all too likely to react like the teenager who told a reporter: 
"When I got off the plane in Israel, I felt just Uke I do when I go to Florida. Everyone 
told me I would feel an instant connection, but even when I visited the Wailing Wall, 
I still didn't feel anything special" (Wall Street Journal, September 14, 1994). 

Another suggested antidote to the erosion of Jewish identity was Jewish educa- 
tion. Like trips to Israel, proposed innovations in the transmission of Jewish knowl- 
edge and commitment had received considerable new funding from federations, 
Jewish foundations, and individual philanthropists since the disturbing results of the 
1990 National Jewish Population Survey became known. Leading the way were the 
Cleveland federation — which was spending one-third of its domestic budget on 
education — Morton Mandel's Council on Initiatives in Jewish Education, and the 
Wexner Foundation. 

The relationship of Jewish education to Jewish continuity was the subject of a 
major 1994 study by Seymour Martin Lipset, The Power of Jewish Education, 
sponsored by the Wilstein Institute. Analyzing data from the 1990 NJPS, Lipset 
found not only a clear correlation between Jewish schooling and Jewishness, but also 
what he called "the iron law of 'the more the more.' " By that he meant: "The longer 
Jews have been exposed to Jewish education, the greater their commitment to the 
community, to some form of the religion, and to Israel." Lipset cautioned, however, 
that this did not necessarily establish a causal relationship, since the families that 
gave their children more Jewish education might have done so because they were 
already Jewishly committed. Nevertheless, Lipset concluded, "the evidence is con- 
gruent with the hypothesis that Jewish education makes a difference." 

Yet despite all the attention paid to the subject, an analysis of American Jewish 
education by J. J. Goldberg concluded that "countless Jewish kids have yet to see 
their schools made any more engaging; so far, the revolution hasn't reached them" 
(Jerusalem Report, October 6, 1994). Noting that Jewish all-day schools seemed to 
be the most successful in transferring the tradition to the next generation, Goldberg 
pointed out that the great majority of Jewish parents rejected such schools for their 
children, not primarily because of the cost, but on the ground that such a "segre- 
gated" education would hamper the students' entry into the American mainstream. 
As for supplementary Jewish education, one reason for its shortcomings was the 
teachers' lack of training. A study conducted in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Milwaukee 
by the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education found that most of the teachers 
had had virtually no Jewish schooling since their own bar/bat mitzvahs. 

The community's new focus on Jewish continuity also highlighted Jews on the 
college campus. Efforts over the previous few years to reinvigorate Hillel, the 


association of Jewish college students, bore fruit at the beginning of 1995 when the 
Board of Delegates of the Council of Jewish Federations voted overwhelmingly for 
local federations to accept "collective responsibility" for Jewish campus activities 
— in much the same way that the federations had allocated responsibility for the 
absorption of Soviet Jewish immigrants in the United States. In practical terms, this 
meant that communities would contribute to Hillel on the basis of their size and 
income. While the vote was officially nonbinding, it was likely to be implemented 
by almost all the federations. In addition, total funding for Hillel, from federations 
and other sources, was expected to rise from $21 million to $50 million over the next 
seven years. Richard Joel, Hillel's international director, thanked the Board of 
Delegates "for triggering a Jewish renaissance." 

Symptomatic of the growing interest in supporting Jewish cultural and spiritual 
renewal through higher education, two institutions — neighbors on New York's 
West Side — announced major developments. In October 1994, the Jewish Theologi- 
cal Seminary received a gift of $15 million for a graduate school of Jewish education. 
And in May 1995, Columbia University broke ground for a projected $6-million 
Center for Jewish Life. 

Whether Jewish institutions should reach out to intermarried families remained 
a controversial aspect of the Jewish continuity debate. Despite the misgivings of 
some Jewish leaders, who felt that the limited resources available should be used 
primarily to reinforce the Jewish loyalties of those already affiliated to some degree 
with the Jewish community, others — including powerful figures in the federation 
world — opposed consigning the intermarried to Jewish oblivion. It was this second 
school of thought that dominated the CJF Task Force on the Intermarried and 
Jewish Affiliation, which issued a report in 1994 warning that failure to engage the 
intermarried in Jewish life meant "disfranchising a significant segment of the popu- 
lation." According to the report, which described what some communities were 
already doing for the intermarried, the Jewish community needed to show greater 
sensitivity, respect, and understanding of such families, or else risk losing them and 
their financial contributions. The chairperson of the task force noted that almost all 
its members had intermarried relatives. 

For all the undoubted successes registered under the banner of Jewish continuity, 
it remained to be seen whether such efforts would make a significant difference in 
the pattern of American Jewish life. In a study of American Philanthropy in the 
1990s, Brandeis sociologist Gary Tobin found that "Jewish continuity" did not 
excite potential donors, who could see no concrete evidence that the money already 
put into building Jewish identity had had any impact. In fact, many suspected — 
in Tobin's words — that "continuity" was "only the latest in a long series of crises 
generated by the fund-raising system." 

Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, in Jews and the New American Scene 
(Harvard University Press, 1995), questioned the entire rationale of continuity 
campaigns, suggesting that the integrative forces of American life could turn out to 
be too strong for Jewish "social engineering" to combat, especially in Jewish circles 


devoid of spiritual roots. They foresaw a 21st-century American Jewish community 
substantially reduced in numbers, albeit made up of Jews "strongly and visibly 
committed to the tribal and religious depth of Jewish tradition." 

Religious Developments 

If Lipset and Raab were right, and the community's Jewish future depended 
largely on the continuing power of the Jewish tradition, the Jewish religious move- 
ments had a vital role to play in insuring continuity. Yet each of those movements 
was plagued with internal conflict over basic issues of theology and practice. 


In 1994 Congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati apphed for membership in the 
Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). This 
congregation, whose rabbi was a graduate of Reform's Hebrew Union College 
(HUC) and a member of its Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), called 
itself "humanist," and had removed all references to God from the services. The 
Reform movement was now faced with a fundamental challenge: Did the Reform 
principle of the freedom to practice Judaism as one saw fit include the right to 
exclude God? When four Reform synagogues located near Beth Adam urged a 
rejection of its application, the congregation responded that it was "being castigated 
for exercising the freedom of worship." An opinion issued by the CCAR Responsa 
Committee and written by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut argued that, while Reform 
accepted diversity, Beth Adam had overstepped the limit and should not be admit- 
ted. But a minority opinion authored by Prof Eugene Mihaly countered: "Exclu- 
sion, ostracism, mindless stringency to appease the traditionalists, institutional coer- 
cion, are alien to Reform Judaism." In June the UAHC board overwhelmingly 
rejected the apphcation. 

A survey of "Emerging Worship and Music Trends in UAHC Congregations," 
released early in 1995, confirmed the widespread impression that many Reform 
synagogues had readopted certain traditional practices that Classical Reform had 
eliminated. There was now more Hebrew in the service, wearing of kippah and tallit 
was more widespread, singing along with the cantor had become popular, and a 
two-day Rosh Hashanah was catching on. Suggesting that the influx of members 
brought up in Orthodox and Conservative homes had something to do with these 
changes, the author of the study also cited the changing needs of Reform Jews: 
"Expressions of personal spirituality are far more acceptable in America today than 
they were 30 years ago. If we perpetuated a 19th-century model, we'd be failing." 

Another symptom of turning away from Classical Reform was the CCAR deci- 
sion in June 1994 to develop a comprehensive new statement on the relation of the 
movement to Israel and Zionism. There was a clear need for this: early Reform had 
been sharply hostile to the Zionist movement, and, while the bulk of the Reform 


rabbinate and laity had come to support the Jewish state, there was no authoritative 
Reform document on the subject. 

However, even in its contemporary pro-Zionist incarnation. Reform objected 
strongly to the lack of religious pluralism for Jews in Israel. In the fall of 1994, when 
the Labor government in Israel sought to bring the Orthodox Shas Party into the 
coalition so as to broaden its mandate for securing Middle East peace, the Reform 
movement, both in Israel and the United States, reacted with fury. Despite its own 
strong support for the peace process. Reform felt it more important that Labor not 
succumb to the Shas request for a law nuUifying any Supreme Court decision 
challenging the Orthodox monopoly of Israeli Judaism. Soon thereafter, the Associ- 
ation of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) announced a campaign to raise $2 
million to persuade the IsraeH government to recognize Reform marriages per- 
formed there. 

In January 1995, ARZA managed to get the American Zionist Movement to pass 
a resolution favoring religious pluralism in Israel. That March, 200 Reform rabbis 
holding their annual CCAR convention in Israel insisted on conducting a Reform 
prayer service, men and women together, at the southern edge of the Western Wall 
(they were interrupted only by the news media). Afterward they presented the case 
for religious pluralism to the leader of the Likud opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, 
who disappointed them by affirming his support for the status quo. 

In 1995 Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the president of the UAHC since 1973 — 
known for his flamboyant style and such controversial policies as outreach to the 
unchurched and acceptance of patriUneal descent as a sufficient criterion for Jewish- 
ness — announced his retirement. Elected to replace him was Rabbi Eric Yoflie. 
While the contest between Yoflie and Rabbi Peter Knobel, his closest competitor, 
was portrayed in the media as a choice between Reform's social-action thrust 
(Yoflie) and the new interest in deepened spirituality (Knobel), Yoflie insisted after 
his election that matters of the spirit would be given high priority. 


The role of sexuahty in Judaism continued to divide the Conservative movement. 
In April 1994, an 1 1-member commission on human sexuality set up by the Rabbini- 
cal Assembly two years earher sent its draft report to the movement's Committee 
on Law and Standards. While the creation of this commission had been triggered 
by a controversy over reevaluating the traditional negative Jewish attitude toward 
homosexuality, the report focused on the broader issue of nonmarital sex. 

Frowning upon casual sex, the report suggested that teenagers "need to refrain 
from sexual intercourse, for they cannot honestly deal with its implications or 
results." Sexual relations between unmarried adults were deemed acceptable if they 
were part of "an ongoing, loving relationship" in which sex was not "simply pleasur- 
able release" but reflected the realization that people are created in the image of 
God. Partners were called upon to remain faithful to each other for the length of 


the relationship. To prevent the spread of AIDS, partners should have themselves 
tested and use condoms. Adherence to these guidelines, the report concluded, could 
give nonmarital relations "a measure of holiness, even if not the full portion availa- 
ble in marriage," which creates the families that insure the Jewish future. 

As for the specific issue of homosexuality, the report urged maintaining the status 
quo "until further study": sexually active homosexuals should not be allowed to 
become rabbis or cantors; rabbis should not perform ceremonies recognizing rela- 
tionships between homosexuals; gay and lesbian Jews nevertheless should be wel- 
comed in Conservative synagogues. In a letter appended to the report, the chairper- 
son acknowledged that the commission had been unable to resolve the "fundamental 
tension" between traditional teachings and current reality. 

The draft report was discussed intensively at the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) 
annual convention in May, and recordings of the discussions were made available 
to the members of the Committee on Law and Standards, which would, in turn, 
determine movement policy. At the convention, however, rabbis sympathetic to gay 
rights offered a resolution calling on the RA placement committee not to discrimi- 
nate against gay rabbis seeking pulpits — a matter not dealt with by the report. The 
resolution was withdrawn, however, when more traditionalist members challenged 
it. In the weeks following the convention, the report on nonmarital sexuality was 
strongly attacked by Orthodox groups as well as by the Union for Traditional 
Judaism, a group made up of formerly Conservative Jews who had left the move- 
ment because of discomfort with what they felt were its deviations from tradition. 

The role of women also aroused controversy among Conservative Jews. A decade 
after the movement began to ordain women as rabbis, there were persistent com- 
plaints of gender discrimination. The issue came to a head in September 1994 when 
47 female rabbis and cantors formally charged that the Canadian Conservative 
movement had refused to distribute an issue of the Camp Ramah magazine because 
it featured an article about female former campers who were now rabbis and cantors. 
The coordinator of the protest claimed that the leadership of the U.S. movement 
had allowed this to happen out of fear of losing financial contributions from north 
of the border, a charge denied by the Jewish Theological Seminary. At its 1995 
annual convention, the Rabbinical Assembly passed a resolution acknowledging a 
pattern of discrimination against its female members and instructed the movement's 
Placement Commission to treat men and women equally. 


Marking the 40th anniversary of its official founding and the 20th year since the 
establishment of its rabbinical seminary, the Reconstructionist movement published 
a new prayer book for Sabbath and holidays. Compiled by a committee comprising 
an equal number of rabbis and lay people and termed "the first post-modern prayer 
book" by the editor-in-chief, the prayer book included selections from contemporary 
Jewish and non-Jewish sources. Theologically, the compilation maintained Recon- 


structionist tradition by omitting any reference to the doctrines of the chosen people 
and the personal messiah. On other controversial concepts, readers were presented 
options to choose from, including traditional formulations that had been dropped 
in the first Reconstructionist prayer book. 

The movement continued to experience difficulties in defining itself, even as the 
number of its congregations increased across the country. At a Reconstructionist 
conference in November 1994, at which the reasons for the lack of clarity were 
debated at length, some suggested factors were the large numbers of members who 
were brought up in other movements or with no Jewish background, the fact that 
other movements had appropriated certain practices instituted by Reconstruction- 
ism — inclusion of women in ritual, equality for homosexuals, and Hturgical open- 
ness, for example — and the difficulty of squaring the individualist impulse with 
Reconstructionism's quest for community. Developments in Reconstructionism 
were not without their critics. The son-in-law and daughter of movement founder 
Mordecai Kaplan — Rabbi Ira Eisenstein and Judith Kaplan Eisenstein — insisted 
that Kaplan, a rationalist, would have been appalled at the turn to mysticism evident 
in parts of the movement, and, as a strait-laced Puritan on sexual matters, would 
have been shocked at the acceptance of homosexuality. 


The success of Orthodoxy since the 1960s in holding its young people, influencing 
outsiders, and providing a model of intensive Jewish life had also generated internal 
tensions over whether to cooperate with — and risk legitimizing — non-Orthodox 
groups, or to "go it alone." The 1994 collapse of the Synagogue Council of America 
— which had, if only in a nominal sense, collectively represented all the American 
Jewish religious movements — marked a major victory for the Orthodox separatists, 
who had for over 40 years called for the Orthodox to shun it. Thus, in November, 
at the national convention of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of 
America (UOJCA) — itself a member organization of the defunct Synagogue Coun- 
cil — executive director Rabbi Pinchas Stolper publicly recited the traditional 
sheheheyanu benediction on its demise, blessing God "who has kept us alive and 
sustained us to reach this day." While the immediate cause of the Synagogue 
Council's demise was lack of funding, many observers believed that the Orthodox 
veto on decisions had hampered the council's functioning and rendered it ultimately 

The sense among many that Orthodoxy was strong enough to distance itself from 
umbrella organizations that offended its sensitivities led the three Orthodox organi- 
zations in the American Zionist Movement to "suspend" their membership in AZM 
in January 1995, after it passed a resolution urging the recognition of non-Orthodox 
forms of Judaism in Israel. When a similar resolution had been brought up by the 
UAHC at the NJCRAC plenum in February 1994, the UOJCA threatened to quit, 
a move that would have left NJCRAC with no Orthodox representation at a time 


when the peace process was at the top of the agenda. The motion was not brought 
to a vote. 

The rightward shift in Orthodoxy's center of gravity was felt even in the Rabbini- 
cal Council of America (RCA), the organization of modern Orthodox rabbis. In 
early 1995, it expelled one of its members, a rabbi from Atlanta, for cochairing the 
rabbinic fellowship of the Union for Traditional Judaism, many of whose members 
were not Orthodox. RCA leaders denied that this was the start of a "witchhunt." 

The internal Orthodox tensions also affected Yeshiva University. Years before, 
the university's secular graduate schools had been legally separated from the rab- 
binical school so that they might be ehgible for government funding. In late 1994, 
it became known that homosexual clubs existed at some of the graduate schools, 
and, like other student clubs, they were receiving funding from student-activity fees. 
Caught between the traditional Jewish aversion to homosexuahty and the prospect 
of loss of funds from government and private sources if gays could claim discrimina- 
tion, university president Norman Lamm decided: "As a rabbi, I cannot and do not 
condone homosexual behavior, which is expressly prohibited by Jewish law. But as 
president of a nondenominational institution that must accommodate people who 
reflect a wide range of backgrounds and behefs, it is my duty to assure that the 
procedures of Yeshiva University conform to the applicable provisions of secular 
law." His decision brought a storm of protest from both outside and within the 
institution, as Orthodox critics charged that Lamm had subordinated religious 
values to political correctness and financial expediency. A New York Times article 
(May 10, 1995) contrasting Yeshiva's approach with Notre Dame's refusal to coun- 
tenance gay clubs had the effect of making it seem, to many in the Orthodox world, 
that Yeshiva was less devoted to rehgious doctrine than was a Catholic university. 

The sectarian Orthodox community, for all its attempts to avoid those modern 
values deemed inimical to Judaism, could not help but be influenced by the social 
forces undermining the institution of marriage. The rising incidence of divorce 
among the Orthodox was complicated by the halakhic requirement that the husband 
give the wife a Jewish divorce document {get) of his own free will before she was 
allowed to remarry, a situation that enabled unscrupulous men to extort money or 
custody rights as a condition for issuing the get. In the spring of 1995, the news 
broke of a new, spiteful tactic being used by a few husbands against their estranged 
wives. Based on a provision in ancient Jewish law that had been a dead letter for 
centuries, these men claimed that they had married off their young — below age 12 
— daughters in absentia, and would not disclose to their wives or to the girls the 
identity of the "husband" or the witnesses to the act. The practical effect was to 
prevent any of the girls from marrying — without a "divorce" from the unknown 

While there was considerable controversy over the exact number of such cases, 
the tactic — called in Hebrew kiddushei ketanah — was greeted with universal con- 
demnation by the community. Yet Orthodox rabbinical circles could come up with 
no clear strategy to combat it till the end of June, when an oral decision by a noted 


Jerusalem rabbinic scholar — since deceased — became known, stating that the fa- 
ther in such cases had no credibility, and that the claim to have married off his 
daughter could safely be ignored. 


It was the cover story in New York magazine (February 14, 1994): "Holy War: 
Ego. Ambition. Fanaticism. As the Lubavitcher rebbe — the Messiah to many — lies 
grievously ill, the faithful fight over the future." Menachem Schneerson, the 92-year- 
old charismatic leader of the Lubavitch Hassidic sect, had been incapacitated by a 
1992 stroke, unable to speak and paralyzed on his right side. Since he was childless 
and had never appointed a successor, the future of his movement — whose outreach 
activities inspired Jews around the world and whose political clout was taken 
seriously in both Israel and the United States — was unclear. Some were proclaiming 
the Rebbe as the messiah, while many of his closest lieutenants, agreeing in principle 
that their master might be the promised messiah, opposed such public statements, 
partly because they tended to alienate potential donors. 

In early March the Rebbe had a cataract removed and the next week was hospital- 
ized after suffering another stroke. Lubavitch messianists interpreted the turn of 
events as a sign of approaching redemption: "This is the intensification of darkness 
which signals the coming light," said one. Even the fact that this second stroke 
occurred two years to the day after the first was viewed as providential. 

The Rebbe died on the morning of June 12, 1994, and an estimated 35,000 
attended the funeral that afternoon, including the mayor of New York City and 
leading Israeli diplomats. Even as his casket was being brought to the cemetery, 
there were those who spoke of his imminent resurrection and messianic emergence. 
In the weeks and months that followed, these "resurrectionists" answered charges 
that they had appropriated Christian theology by claiming that the idea of a messiah 
who returns from the dead was an original Jewish notion. A New York Times article 
(November 8, 1994) describing how the movement was slowly getting used to the 
absence of the Rebbe elicited a letter from the chairperson of the International 
Campaign to Bring Moschiach (November 14), asserting that "the time we have to 
endure without the Rebbe's physical presence will be very short, and very soon the 
Rebbe will lead us to the great and final redemption." 

The Lubavitch mainstream, however, was critical of such speculation, and the 
established leadership charged those raising hopes of resurrection with disrespect 
to God and to the late Rebbe. What was needed, instead, was redoubled dedication 
to the task set out by the Rebbe: spreading the word of God. Indeed, Lubavitch 
emissaries all over the world — very few of whom had gotten caught up in the 
messianic frenzy — insisted that they would carry on as before, because that is what 
the Rebbe would have wanted. Indeed, contrary to the predictions of some that the 
movement would undergo a crisis without a charismatic leader at the helm, there 
was no indication that the organization was in any danger of collapse. And specula- 


tion over possible successors to the Rebbe began to be replaced by suggestions that 
Lubavitcher Hassidim — who had access, after all, to extensive videotape libraries 
of Rabbi Schneerson in action — might not need another rebbe. 

On October 19, both houses of Congress unanimously voted the Lubavitcher 
Rebbe the Congressional Gold Medal. And on June 19, 1995, New York magazine 
once again succinctly summed up the situation: "Beyond Belief: A year after his 
death. Rabbi Menachem Schneerson is still treated as a living presence by the 
Lubavitcher faithful. Indeed, his grave site has become a place of uncommon holi- 
ness, where thousands of pilgrims seek his blessing and an answer to the question, 
Is he really the Messiah?" 

Jewish Liberalism Under Siege 

Notwithstanding the intensity of their religious fervor, the number of American 
Jews who venerated Rabbi Schneerson paled in comparison to the number who 
associated their Jewish identity with liberal politics. Indeed, by early 1994 President 
Bill Clinton was more popular in the Jewish community than any other president 
in recent memory, primarily due to his supportive stance toward Israel and his 
domestic agenda. In the words of Jason Isaacson, the American Jewish Committee's 
director of international and government affairs; "There seems to be a genuine focus 
by this president on the civic environment of the nation, with much greater attention 
to relations between groups and tolerance for diversity." Mainstream Jewish groups 
backed the administration in opposing a balanced-budget amendment and support- 
ing health-care reform, abortion rights, and gay rights. The increased clout of the 
"rehgious right" within the Republican Party — which differed fundamentally with 
the strict interpretation of church-state separation espoused by most Jews— pro- 
vided an added incentive for continued Jewish adherence to the Democratic admin- 

The November 1994 elections, then, came as an unpleasant shock to most Jews. 
With both houses in Congress now in Republican hands, Jerome Chanes, codirector 
for domestic concerns at NJCRAC, said: "The entire domestic agenda is clearly in 
trouble." Matthew Brooks, executive director of the National Jewish Coalition, 
which had been founded to attract Jews to the Republican banner, warned: "The 
Jewish community will lose influence if it does not start to support the party. There's 
a choice — to get on board or be left outside." 

Jewish conservatives were buoyed by the Republican sweep. Toward Tradition, 
a Jewish organization that sought common ground with the religious right, ran an 
ad on the op-ed page of the New York Times (December 16, 1994) under the 
headline "Mazel Tov Speaker Gingrich — We Know All About 10 Point Con- 
tracts." Signed by over 50 Jews — politicians, communal figures, intellectuals, and 
Orthodox rabbis — the ad claimed that classical Jewish teachings favored hmited 
government, lower taxes, and the traditional family. 

Jewish Democrats responded with a Times ad of their own in the same spot in 


the paper two weeks later (January 3, 1995), asking "Toward What Tradition?" This 
ad, endorsed by a similar number of liberal rabbis and other activists, argued that 
social justice was the hallmark of Jewish values — "justice, equity, and compassion" 
—and pointed out that 78 percent of Jewish voters in the 1994 elections had 
apparently agreed by bucking the national trend and voting Democratic. 

TheNJCRAC plenum, held in Washington in February 1995, provided proof that 
the great bulk of the organized Jewish community sympathized with the second ad 
rather than the first. Despite the verdict of the election, the delegates from around 
the country heartily endorsed the administration's domestic program. In the discus- 
sion on a balanced-budget amendment, one frustrated conservative publicly com- 
plained. "The NJCRAC process does not allow minority views to be heard on 
economic and social programs. Our organization is viewed as the liberal wing of the 
Democratic Party, and as such we are less and less relevant." So publicly identified 
was the Jewish community with the liberal cause that Hillary Clinton invited 
representatives of Jewish organizations to the White House in March to organize 
opposition to congressional budget cuts. 

A perceptive front-page article in the Wall Street Journal (March 8, 1995) 
analyzed the new sense of unease among secular, liberal Jews, many of whom had 
the feeling of being outsiders in a Republican-controlled America, one in which any 
public display of Christianity — as advocated by the religious right — was by defini- 
tion anti-Semitic. Sure enough, when, in May, Republican leaders endorsed the 
Christian Coalition's "Contract with the American Family," the mainstream Jewish 
organizations recoiled in protest. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform 
movement's Religious Action Center, for example, declared that this contract was 
"wrong-headed, misguided, and divisive" and "runs roughshod over the diversity 
of American family and religious life." Only the Orthodox organizations withheld 
blanket condemnation, declaring that they would assess each issue in the contract 
on its own merits. 

In June 1995, Norman Podhoretz announced his retirement as editor-in-chief of 
Commentary, the editorially independent magazine of opinion sponsored by the 
American Jewish Committee. Over the course of the 35 years that he ran the 
magazine, Podhoretz moved away from his original liberal leanings and turned 
Commentary into the primary organ of neoconservative thought in America. In 
accomplishing this, Podhoretz made a profound impact on the course of American 
political and cultural life. 

The Pollard Case 

Jonathan Pollard, convicted in 1987 of passing U.S. classified information on to 
Israel, was still serving his life sentence, despite the feeling of many in the Jewish 
community that the sentence was disproportionate to the lighter prison terms meted 
out to others who had spied for friendly countries. In February 1994, as President 
Clinton considered whether to grant clemency, NJCRAC — which had, until then. 


consistently avoided involvement — for the first time took a position on the case. It 
sent Clinton a letter that did not go so far as to suggest clemency, but did note that 
"substantial elements" in the Jewish community considered the sentence excessive 
and had "great concern with respect to the fairness and the prospect of the sen- 
tence." If, it went on, the president's review of the case showed that the sentence 
was unfair, he should consider reducing it to time already served. The letter's 
delicate phraseology reflected tensions between the considerable misgivings of many 
Jewish leaders over getting involved in the case and the significant grassroots sup- 
port for freeing Pollard. 

In March the president turned down Pollard's clemency request because of "the 
grave nature" of his crime and "the considerable damage that his actions caused our 
nation." This disappointment only stimulated a new round of rallies by Citizens for 
Pollard, a national network of activists in 350 communities, now joined by several 
Hollywood celebrities such as Jon Voight, Jack Lemmon, and Whoopi Goldberg. 
But, in a new twist to the Pollard story, the convict, who had divorced his wife, 
Anne, in 1991, announced his prison marriage to Elaine Zeitz, the head of the 
Canadian pro-Pollard organization. Eschewing the careful diplomacy of the Pollard 
family and refusing to cooperate with his lawyers' strategy, Zeitz harshly attacked 
President Clinton for refusing clemency, comparing him to the biblical Pharaoh. 

With Pollard eligible for parole in November 1995 — the tenth anniversary of his 
arrest — rumor had it that Israel might arrange a deal whereby it would free an 
imprisoned Russian spy, Russia would release an American, and the United States 
would let Pollard go. In the spring of 1995, both NJCRAC and the Conference of 
Presidents sent letters to President Clinton and the U.S. Parole Board requesting 
that parole be granted. Seymour Reich, president of the American Zionist Move- 
ment and a leader of the movement to free Pollard, said: "The trick now is for the 
president to understand that this is a key issue for the Israeli government and the 
American Jewish community. And it's the latter that has been lacking." 

Holocaust Legacy 

The two major American events of 1993 memorializing the Holocaust — Steven 
Spielberg's film Schindler's List and the successful opening of the U.S. Holocaust 
Memorial Museum in Washington — continued to reverberate in 1994. 

On January 24, Schindler's List — about a German industrialist who saved over 
one thousand Jews during the Holocaust — won the Golden Globe Awards for best 
dramatic film, director, and screenplay. Two months later, the movie garnered seven 
Academy Awards, including best picture and best director — the first best-director 
award for Spielberg after three previous nominations. In accepting one of the 
awards, Spielberg said: "I implore all educators, do not let the Holocaust remain 
a footnote in history. Listen to the words, the echoes, the ghosts." 

Yet the theme of Spielberg's film, that of the Righteous Gentile, remained contro- 


versial. On the one hand, it was surely important to teach the message that individ- 
ual goodness can make a difference, that, in the words of American Jewish Commit- 
tee executive director David Harris, "We're not all powerless in a world where we 
may feel powerless." On the other hand, there were potential dangers. While no one 
denied that Schindler and other non-Jews had saved Jews, there was some concern 
that people seeing the movie and knowing nothing else about the Holocaust might 
focus more on the heroism of Schindler and the good fortune of the Jews he rescued 
than on the multitudes of Jews who went to their deaths as Gentile neighbors stood 
by, or even participated in the killing. 

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum continued to attract huge crowds. It also 
expanded its activities. In 1994 it launched a Center for the Study of Holocaust 
Resistance, which would collect evidence about Jews who fought back against their 
enemies. In 1995, the museum council voted to take on the responsibility of acting 
as a "committee on conscience" that would "influence policy-makers and stimulate 
worldwide action to bring acts of genocide to a halt." Asked if this did not entail 
making political judgments, council chairman Miles Lerman replied: "We do not 
plan to become a perennial fire hose that runs to every fire. We do not plan to become 
a shadow State Department. We are above politics. We deal with morality only." 

Cornell University professor Steven Katz, chosen to be the director of the Holo- 
caust Memorial Museum in January 1995, withdrew in March after disciplinary 
measures taken against him at Cornell became public. In May, Walter Reich, a 
prominent psychiatrist and author, was chosen as his successor. Himself a Holo- 
caust survivor, Reich was considered an expert on the subject. 

The central role that Holocaust remembrance had come to play in American 
Jewish life was underlined by a nasty dispute over the scheduling of the 1995 Salute 
to Israel Day Parade in New York City. The date originally chosen coincided with 
Holocaust Memorial Day, and when that was pointed out to the planners, they 
suggested holding Holocaust commemorations in the morning so that everyone 
could be at the parade in the afternoon. Many survivors reacted furiously when this 
became known in September 1994. Reflecting their feelings, Benjamin Meed, presi- 
dent of the American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, pub- 
licly charged that the Holocaust commemoration was "under attack — not by fas- 
cists, nor by deniers, but by Jewish organizers of the Salute to Israel Parade." The 
organizers' offer to share the day he described as a demand to "make an early 
minyan and quickly recite Kaddish for our six million so that we can rejoice and 
dance in the afternoon. How rude and disrespectful." He threatened that if the 
parade were held on that day, the marchers would have to step over the bodies of 
Holocaust survivors. They got their way: the parade date was shifted. 

Another incident, this in January 1995, proved that sensitivity to the Holocaust 
had penetrated far beyond the Jewish community into the precincts of government. 
As soon as House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whose Republican Party had won less 


than a quarter of the Jewish vote — had to confront charges from Jewish groups that 
his choice for House historian had, years earlier, opposed federal funding for a 
proposed Holocaust curriculum on the ground that it did not present the Nazi point 
of view, he fired her. 

Lawrence Grossman 

Jewish Population in the United States, 1995 

JDased on local community counts — the method for identifying 
and enumerating Jewish population that serves as the basis of this report — the 
estimated size of the American Jewish community in 1995 was 5.9 million. This is 
about 6 percent more than the 5.5 million "core" Jewish population estimated in 
the Council of Jewish Federations' 1990 National Jewish Population Survey 

The difference, small though it is, between the national and aggregated local 
figures is partly explained by the lag in data gathering and reporting on the local 
level. As more local communities conduct studies over the next few years, declines 
and increases that have already occurred will be documented, and the updated 
statistics may show national and regional patterns more in line with NJPS findings. 
However, since there are definitional issues as well as a lack of uniformity in local 
research, which often relies on outdated lists for population projections, the aggre- 
gate counts may never exactly match the NJPS national totals. 

The demographic results of the NJPS suggested that the population was growing 
slightly due to an excess of Jewish births over Jewish deaths during the late 1980s. 
However, extrapolation from the age structure suggests that for the mid-1990s, zero 
population growth in numbers is being realized, with a balance between the annual 
numbers of births and deaths. At the same time, some growth in numbers is achieved 
through Jewish immigration into the United States. The most obvious example is 
that of refugees from the former Soviet Union, for whom the annual quota is 
currently set at 40,000 Jews each year. 

The NJPS used a scientifically selected sample to project a total number for the 
United States, but could not provide accurate information on the state and local 
levels. Therefore, as in past years, in this article we have based local, state, and 
regional population figures on the usual estimating procedures. 

While the Jewish federations are the chief reporting bodies, their service areas 
vary in size and may represent several towns, one county, or an aggregate of several 
counties. In some cases we have subdivided federation areas to reflect the more 
natural geographic boundaries. Some estimates, from areas without federations, 
have been provided by local rabbis and other informed Jewish community leaders. 
In still other cases, the figures that have been updated are from past estimates 
provided by United Jewish Appeal field representatives. Finally, for smaller commu- 
nities where no recent estimates are available, figures are based on extrapolation 
from older data. The estimates are for the resident Jewish population, including 

'See Barry A. Kosmin et a!.. Highlights of the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey 
{Q)uncil of Jewish Federations, New York, 1991). 



those in private households and in institutional settings. Non-Jewish family mem- 
bers have been excluded from the total. 

The state and regional totals shown in Appendix tables 1 and 2 are derived by 
summing the individual estimates shown in table 3 and then making three adjust- 
ments. First, communities of less than 100 are added. Second, duplicated counts 
within states are eliminated. Third, communities whose population resides in two 
or more states (e.g., Kansas City and Greater Washington, D.C.) are distributed 

Because population estimating is not an exact science, the reader should be aware 
that in cases where a figure diflFers from last year's, the increase or decrease did not 
come about suddenly but occurred over a period of time and has just now been 
substantiated. Similarly, the results of a completed local demographic study often 
change the previously reported Jewish population figure. This should be understood 
as either an updated calculation of gradual demographic change or a correction of 
a faulty older estimate. 

In determining Jewish population, communities count both affiliated and nonaf- 
fihated residents who are "core" Jews as defined in NJPS.^ In most cases, counts 
are made by households, with that number multiplied by the average number of 
self-defined Jewish persons per household. Similarly to NJPS, most communities 
also include those born and raised as Jews but who at present consider themselves 
as having no religion. As stated above, non-Jews living in Jewish households, 
primarily the non-Jewish spouses and non-Jewish children, are not included in the 
1995 estimates presented in the appendix below. 

Local Population Changes 

The largest change was in Buff'alo, New York, where a recent demographic study 
revealed a Jewish population of 26,000, which is more than 9,000 higher than the 
previous estimate. While the Jewish population in Buff'alo in the mid-1960s was 
beUeved to be about 25,000, there had been an assumption of gradual decline. The 
new study, however, indicates stability and some minimal growth over the last 30 

Four other communities reported population increases of greater than 1,000, and 
all were in the South: Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; and 
Richmond, Virginia. While each of these communities is believed to be growing, 
only Richmond substantiated its increase through a recent demographic study. 

Two Midwestern communities, St. Louis, Missouri, and Toledo, Ohio, posted 
modest gains, which were documented in recently completed studies. Other commu- 
nities that had Jewish population increases were mainly in the South or the West: 
Bakersfield, California; Lakeland, Orlando, Sarasota, and Winter Haven, Florida; 

'Born Jews who report adherence to Judaism, Jews by choice, and bom Jews without a 
current religion ("secular Jews"). 


Alexandria and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Salt Lake City, Utah; Newport News- 
Hampton and Winchester, Virginia. Other communities outside these regions that 
reported gains included Flemington, New Jersey; Warren, Ohio; and Altoona, 
Pennsylvania. Three locales with recently developed Jewish communities are listed 
for the first time: Bend, Oregon; and Stowe and Woodstock, Vermont. 

Two communities in Pennsylvania indicated the largest decreases: Reading and 
Lancaster; however, these losses were less than 1,000. Even smaller decreases were 
reported by a number of communities in different areas of the country: Little Rock, 
Arkansas; Stockton, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Lawrence, Kansas; 
Monroe, Louisiana; Augusta, Maine; Annapolis, Maryland; New Bedford, Massa- 
chusetts; Saginaw, Michigan; Vineland, New Jersey; Niagara Falls, New York; and 
Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Barry A. Kosmin 
Jeffrey Scheckner 











of Total 

Alabama 9,000 

Alaska 3,000 

Arizona 72,000 

Arkansas 1,700 

California 922,000 

Colorado 51,500 

Connecticut 97,000 

Delaware 9,500 

District of Columbia 25,500 

Florida 641,000 

Georgia 77,000 

Hawaii 7,000 

Idaho 500 

Illinois 268,000 

Indiana 18,000 

Iowa 6,000 

Kansas 14,000 

Kentucky 11,000 

Louisiana 16,500 

Maine 7,500 

Maryland 211,000 

Massachusetts 268,000 

Michigan 107,000 

Minnesota 42,000 

Mississippi 1,400 

Missouri 62,000 

Montana 800 

Nebraska 7,000 

Nevada 21,000 

New Hampshire 9,500 

New Jersey 436,000 

New Mexico 9,000 

New York 1,645,000 




























State Population 

North Carolina 21,500 

North Dakota 600 

Ohio 129.000 

Oklahoma 5,500 

Oregon 19,500 

Pennsylvania 330,000 

Rhode Island 16,000 

South Carolina 9,000 

South Dakota 400 

Tennessee 1 8,000 

Texas 110,500 

Utah 3,600 

Vermont 5,700 

Virginia 73,000 

Washington 34,000 

West Virginia 2,200 

Wisconsin 35,000 

Wyoming 500. 

U.S. TOTAL **5,900,000 






of Total 







































N.B. Details may not add to totals because of rounding. 
♦ Resident population, July 1, 1994. (Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Cur- 
rent Population Reports, series P-25, no. 1 106.) 

** Exclusive of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which previously reported 
Jewish populations of 1,500 and 350, respectively, 
(z) Figure is less than 0.1 and rounds to 0. 



Total Percent Jewish Percent 

Region Population Distribution Population Distribu tion 

Northeast 51,396,000 19/7 2,824,000 47T~ 

New England 13,270,000 5.1 404,000 6.8 

Middle Atlantic 38,125,000 14.6 2,420,000 41.0 

Midwest 61,394,000 23.6 689,000 11.7 

East North Central . . 43,184,000 16.6 556,000 9.4 

West North Central . . 18,210,000 7.0 132,000 2.2 

South 90,692,000 34.8 1,244,000 21.1 

South Atlantic 46,398,000 17.8 1,070,000 18.1 

East South Central. . . 15,890,000 6.1 39,000 0.7 

West South Central . . 28,404,000 10.9 134,000 2.3 

West 56,859,000 21.8 1,145,000 19.4 

Mountain 15,214,000 5.8 159,000 2.7 

Pacific 41,645,000 16.0 986,000 16.7 

TOTALS 260,341,000 100.0 5,900,000 100.0 

N.B. Details may not add to totals because of rounding. 


table 3. communities with jewish populations of 100 or more, 1995 


State and City Population 

State and City 


State and City 



*Binningham .... 5,200 
Decatur (incl. in Flor- 
ence total) 

Dothan 150 

Florence 150 

Huntsville 750 

••Mobile 1,100 

♦•Montgomery ... 1,300 
Sheffield (incl. in 
Florence total) 

Tuscaloosa 300 

Tuscumbia (incl. in 
Florence total) 


•Anchorage 1,600 

♦Fairbanks 540 

Juneau 285 

Kenai Peninsula . . . 200 
Ketchikan (incl. in 
Juneau total) 


Cochise County 260 

♦Flagstaff 350 

Lake Havasu City 


•Phoenix 50,000 

Prescott 250 

Sierra Vista (incl. in 

Cochise County) 
♦Tucson 20,000 

Yuma 125 


Fayetteville 150 

Hot Springs 1 30 

••Little Rock .... 1,250 


•••Antelope Valley . 700 
Aptos (incl. in 

Santa Cruz total) 

County 2,200 

Berkeley (incl. in 
Contra Costa County, 
under S.F. Bay 
Carmel (incl. in Mon- 
terey Peninsula) 

•Chico 500 

Corona (incl. in 
Riverside total) 

•Eureka 500 

Fairfield 800 

Fontana (incl. in 
San Bernardino 

•Fresno 2,500 

Lancaster (incl. in 
Antelope Valley) 
Long Beach (also 
incl. in Los Angeles 

total)"^ 13,500 

Los Angeles Metro 

Area 490,000 

•Merced County 190 

•Modesto 500 

Monterey Peninsula 


Moreno Valley (incl. in 

Riverside total) 
Murietta Hot Springs 


•Napa County 950 

Oakland (incl. in 

Alameda County, 

under S.F. Bay Area) 
Ontario (incl. in 

Pomona Valley) 
Orange County . 75,000 
Palmdale (incl. in 

Antelope Valley) 
Palm Springs'^ . . 9,850 
Palo Alto (incl. in 

South Peninsula, 

under S.F. Bay Area) 
Pasadena (incl. in 

L.A. Metro Area 

Petaluma (incl. in 

Sonoma County, 

under S.F. Bay Area) 
Pomona Valley"^ . 6,750 

•Redding area 150 

Redwood Valley ... 200 

Riverside 2,000 

Sacramento"^. . . 21,300 

Salinas 750 

San Bernardino area 


•San Diego 70,000 

San Francisco Bay 

Area"^ 210,000 

See Notes below. 'Includes entire county. ••Includes all of 2 counties. •••Figure not 





State and City Population 

State and City Population 

State and City Population 

Alameda County 

Colorado Springs 

New London*^. . . 4,000 



New Milford area. . 600 

Contra Costa County 

Denverf^ 46,000 

Newtown (incl. in 


Eagle (incl. in Vail total) 

Danbury total) 

Marin County. 18,500 

Evergreen (also incl. in 

Norwalk*^ 9,500 

N. Peninsula . . 24,500 

Denver total) 

Norwich (also incl. in 

San Francisco. 49,500 


New London total) 

San Jose 33,000 

*Fort Collins 1,000 


Sonoma County 9,000 

♦Grand Junction. . . . 250 

Rockville (incl. in 

S. Peninsula . . 21,000 

Greeley (incl. in 

Hartford total) 

*San Jose (listed under 

Ft. Collins total) 

Shelton (incl. in 

S.F. Bay Area) 

Loveland (incl. in 

Valley area) 

*San Luis Obispo. 1,450 

Ft. Collins total) 

Southington (incl. in 

*Santa Barbara 4 500 

Pueblo 250 

Meriden total) 

*Santa Cruz 4,000 

Steamboat Springs . 160 

Stamford/New Canaan 

^^^411^^4 ^k^ > \*M^ . . » . . VfV^VrU 

Telluride 125 


Santa Monica (also 

**Vail 500 

Storrs (incl. in 
Willimantic total) 

incl. in Los Angeles 


Torrington area 580 

total) 8,000 

Bridgeport'^.... 10,250 

Valley area^ 550 

Santa Rosa (incl. in 

Bristol (incl. in 

Wallingford (also incl. 

Sonoma County, 

Hartford total) 

in Meriden total) . 500 

under S.F. Bay Area) 

Cheshire (incl. in 

WaterburyN 2,700 

Sonoma County (listed 

Meriden total) 

Westport (incl. in 

under S.F. Bay Area) 

Colchester 300 

Norwalk total) 

South Lake Tahoe . 150 

Danbury*^ 3,500 

Willimantic area ... 700 

♦Stockton 1,000 

***Danielson 100 

***Sun City 200 

Darien (incl. in 


Tulare & Kings 

Stamford total) 

Dover'^ 650 

counties 300 

Greenwich 3,900 

Wilmington (incl. 

Ukiah (incl. in Redwood 

Hartford*^ 26,000 

rest of state) . . . 9,500 

Valley total) 

Hebron (incl. in 

Vallejo area 900 

Colchester total) 


♦Ventura County . 9,000 

Lebanon (incl. in 

Greater Washington 

Visalia (incl. in 

Colchester total) 
Lower Middlesex 


Tulare and Kings 

counties total) 

County'^ 1,650 


Manchester (incl. in 

Arcadia (incl. in 


Hartford total) 

Port Charlotte-Punta 

Aspen 450 

Meriden f^ 3,000 

Gorda total) 

Breckenridge (incl. in 

Middletown 1,300 

Boca Raton-Delray 

Vail total) 

New Britain (incl. in 

Beach (listed under 

Boulder (incl. in 

Hartford total) 

Southeast Fla.) 

Denver total) 

New Haven f^... 24,000 

Brevard County . 4,500 


State and City Population 

♦••Crystal River 100 

••Daytona Beach . 2,500 
Ft. Lauderdale (listed 
under Southeast Fla.) 

••Ft. Myers 5,000 

Ft. Pierce 1,060 

Gainesville 1,600 

Hollywood-S. Broward 
County (listed under 
Southeast Fla.) 
••Jacksonville .... 7,300 

Key West 500 

Lakeland 1,000 

•Miami-Dade County 
(listed under 
Southeast Fla.) 
Naples-Collier County 


New Port Richey 
(incl. in Pasco 
County total) 
Ocala-Marion County 


Orlando'^ 21,000 

Palm Beach County 
(listed under 
Southeast Fla.) 
Pasco County . . . 1,000 

••Pensacola 650 

Pinellas County. 24,200 
••Port Charlotte-Punta 

Gorda 900 

*St. Petersburg- 
Clearwater (incl. 
in Pinellas County) 

••Sarasota 13,800 

Southeast Florida 


Boca Raton-Delray 

Beach 83,300 

Ft. Lauderdale*^ 


Hollywood-S. Broward 
County^ . . . 63,000 

State and City 


State and City 


Miami-Dade County 


Palm Beach County 
(excl. Boca Raton- 
Delray Beach) 


***Stuart-Port St. Lucie 
(portion also incl. 
in Ft. Pierce total) 


Tallahassee 1,640 

•Tampa 15,000 

Venice (incl. in 
Sarasota total) 

•Vero Beach 300 

Winter Haven 300 


Albany 190 

Athens 400 

Atlanta Metro Area 


Augusta*^ 1,400 

Brunswick 100 

••Columbus 1,000 

••Dalton 180 

Macon 900 

•Savannah 2,800 

••Valdosta 100 


Hilo 280 

Honolulu (includes 
all of Oahu) . . . 6,400 

Kauai 100 

Maui 210 


••Boise 220 

Lewiston (incl. in 

Moscow total) 
Moscow 100 


Aurora area 500 



Carbondale (incl. in 

S. 111. total) 


Chicago Metro Area*^ 


•♦Danville 100 

•Decatur 140 

DeKalb 180 

East St. Louis (incl. 
in S. 111.) 

Elgin*^ 600 

Freeport (incl. in 
Rockford total) 

•Joliet 500 

Kankakee 100 

•Peoria 800 

Quad Cities'^ ... . 1,250 

••Quincy 105 

Rock Island (incl. in 
Quad Cities) 

Rockford*^ 1,000 

Southern Illinois'^. . 700 

•Springfield 1,060 

Waukegan 400 


Bloomington 1,000 

Elkhart (incl. in 
South Bend total) 

Evansville 400 

**Ft. Wayne 950 

* *Gary-North west 

Indiana 2,220 

** Indianapolis. . . 10,000 

••Lafayette 700 

•Michigan City 300 

Muncie 160 

South Bend*^ .... 2,000 
•Terre Haute 250 


Jewish Jewish 

State and City Population State and City Population 

State and City 



Ames (also incl. in 
Des Moines total). 200 

Cedar Rapids 420 

Council Bluffs (also 
incl. in Omaha, 

Neb. total) 150 

Davenport (incl. in 
Quad Cities, 111.) 

*Des Moines 2,800 

♦Iowa City 1,200 

**Sioux City 520 

♦Waterloo 170 


Kansas City (incl. in 
Kansas City, Mo.) 

Lawrence 100 

Manhattan 150 

♦Topeka 500 

Wichita^ 1,300 


(incl. in Cincinnati, 
Ohio total) 

Lexington^ 1,850 

♦Louisville 8,700 

Paducah (incl. in S. 111.) 


Alexandria^ 350 

Baton Rouge^... 1,500 
Lafayette (incl. in 

S. Central La.) 
Lake Charles area. . 200 

Monroe 260 

♦♦New Orleans.. 13,000 

♦Shreveport 870 

♦♦♦South Central La.^ 


Augusta 140 

Bangor 1,000 

Biddeford-Saco (incl. 

in S. Maine) 
Brunswick-Bath (incl. 

in S. Maine) 
Lewiston-Auburn . . 500 

Portland 3,900 

Rockland area 180 

Southern Maine (incl. 

Portland)^ .... 5,500 
♦Waterville 200 


Annapolis area . . 1,800 

♦♦Baltimore 94,500 

Cumberland 265 

♦Frederick 900 

♦Hagerstown 325 

♦Harford County . 1,200 
♦♦♦Howard County 


Montgomery and Prince 
Georges counties 


Ocean City 100 

Salisbury 400 

Silver Spring (incl. in 

Montgomery County) 
Upper Eastern Shore^ 


Amherst area . . . 1,300 

Andover^ 3,000 

Athol area (also incl. 

in Worcester County 

total) 300 

Attleboro area 200 

Beverly (incl. in 

Lynn total) 
Boston Metro Region*^ 


Brockton^ 8,000 

Brookline (also incl. in 

Boston total).. 26,000 

Cape Cod-Bamstable 

County 3,000 

Clinton (incl. in 

Worcester County) 
Fall River area . . 1,100 
Falmouth (incl. in 

Cape Cod) 
Fitchburg (also incl. 

in Worcester County 

total) 300 

Framingham (incl. in 

Boston total) 
Gardner (incl. in 

Athol total) 
Gloucester (also incl. 

in Lynn total) 450 

Great Barrington (incl. 

in Pittsfield total) 

♦Greenfield 1,100 

Haverhill 800 

Holyoke 600 

♦Hyannis (incl. in 

Cape Cod) 
Lawrence (incl. in 

Andover total) 
Leominster (also 

incl. in Worcester 

County total) .... 300 

Lowell area 2,000 

Lynn-North Shore 

area^ 20,000 

♦Martha's Vineyard . 260 
New Bedford'^ . . 2,600 

Newburyport 280 

Newton (also incl. in 

Boston total). . 34,000 
North Adams (incl. in 

N. Berkshire County) 
North Berkshire County 


Northampton 850 

Peabody (incl. in 

Lynn total) 


State and City Population 

County 3,300 

Plymouth area 500 

Provincetown (incl. in 
Cape Cod) 

Salem (incl. in 
Lynn total) 

Southbridge (also 
incl. in Worcester 
County total) 105 

Springfield"^.... 10,000 

Taunton area. . . . 1,300 

Webster (also 
incl. in Worcester 
County total) 125 

Worcester area"^ 10,100 

♦Worcester County 


♦Ann Arbor 5,000 

Bay City 150 

Benton Harbor area 


♦♦Detroit Metro Area 


♦Flint 1,710 

♦Grand Rapids .. . 1,600 

♦♦Jackson 200 

♦Kalamazoo 1,100 

Lansing area .... 2,100 

Midland 120 

Ml. Clemens (incl. in 
Detroit total) 

Mt. Pleasant"^ 100 

♦Muskegon 220 

♦Saginaw 140 


♦♦Duluth 485 

♦Minneapolis 31,500 

Rochester 550 

'♦St. Paul 9,200 

State and City 


Winona (incl. in 
La Crosse, Wis. total) 


Biloxi-Gulfport 140 

♦♦Greenville 160 

**Hattiesburg 130 

♦♦Jackson 550 


Columbia 400 

Hannibal (incl. in 

Quincy, 111. total) 
Kansas City Metro 

Area 19,100 

♦St. Joseph 265 

♦♦St. Louis 54,000 

Springfield 300 


♦Billings 240 

Butte 100 

Helena (incl. in Butte 

♦Kalispell 150 

Missoula 200 


Grand Island-Hastings 
(incl. in Lincoln total) 

Lincoln 800 

Omaha"^ 6,500 


Carson City (incl. in 
Reno total) 

♦Las Vegas 20,000 

♦♦Reno 1,400 

Sparks (incl. in 
Reno total) 


Bethlehem 100 

Claremont area .... 140 

State and City Population 

Concord 450 

Dover area 600 

Exeter (incl. in 

Portsmouth total) 
Franconia (incl. in 

Bethlehem total) 
Hanover-Lebanon . . 500 

♦Keene 300 

♦♦Laconia 270 

Littleton (incl. in 

Bethlehem total) 
Manchester area . 4,000 
Nashua area .... 1,890 
Portsmouth area . . . 950 
Rochester (incl. in 

Dover total) 
Salem (also incl. 

in Andover, Mass. 

total) 150 


Asbury Park (incl. in 

Monmouth County) 
♦♦Atlantic City (incl. 

Atlantic and Cape May 

counties) 15,800 

Bayonne (listed under 

Hudson County) 
Bergen County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total) .... 83,700 

Bridgeton 200 

Bridgewater (incl. in 

Somerset County) 
Camden (incl. in 

Cherry Hill total) 
Cherry Hill-Southern 

N.J."^ 49,000 

Edison (incl. in 

Middlesex County) 
Elizabeth (incl. in 

Union County) 
Englewood (incl. in 

Bergen County) 


State and City 


State and City 


Essex County'^ (also 
incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total) 76,200 

East Essex 10,800 

Livingston. . . . 12,600 
North Essex . . 15,600 
South Essex. . . 20,300 
West Orange-Orange 


♦Flemington 1,250 

Freehold (incl. in Mon- 
mouth County) 

Gloucester (incl. in 
Cherry Hill-Southern 
N.J. total) 

Hoboken (listed under 
Hudson County) 

Hudson County (also 
incl. in Northeastern 
N.J. total) .... 12,340 

Bayonne 1,740 

Hoboken 1,100 

Jersey City 6,000 

North Hudson 
CountyN .... 3,500 

Jersey City (listed under 
Hudson County) 

Lakewood (incl. in 
Ocean County) 

Livingston (incl. in 
Essex County) 

Middlesex County'^ 
(also incl. in 
Northeastern N.J. 
total) 51,000 

Monmouth County 
(also incl. in 
Northeastern N.J. 
total) 33,600 

Morris County (also 
incl. in Northeastern 
N.J. total) .... 33,500 

Morristown (incl. in 
Morris County) 

Mt. Holly (incl. in 

Cherry Hill-Southern 

N.J. total) 
Newark (incl. in 

Essex County) 
New Brunswick (incl. 

in Middlesex County) 
Northeastern N.J.'^ 


Ocean County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total) 9,500 

Passaic County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total).... 15,000 
Passaic-Clifton (also 

incl. in Passaic 

County total) . . 8,000 
Paterson (incl. in 

Passaic County) 
Perth Amboy (incl. in 

Middlesex County) 
Phillipsburg (incl. in 

Easton, Pa. total) 
Plainfield (incl. in 

Union County) 
Princeton area. . . 3,000 
Somerset County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total).... 11,000 
Somerville (incl. in 

Somerset County) 
Sussex County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total) 4,100 

Toms River (incl. in 

Ocean County) 

Trenton*^ 6,000 

Union County (also 

incl. in Northeastern 

N.J. total) .... 30,000 

Vineland'^ 2,000 

Warren County 400 

State and City Population 

Wayne (incl. in 
Passaic County) 

Wildwood 425 

Willingboro (incl. in 
Cherry Hill-Southern 
N.J. total) 


♦Albuquerque 6,000 

Las Cruces 525 

Los Alamos 250 

Rio Rancho (incl. in 
Albuquerque total) 

Santa Fe 1,500 

Taos 300 


♦Albany 12,000 

Amenia (incl. in 


Dutchess County) 

Amsterdam 150 

* Auburn 115 

Beacon (incl. in 


Dutchess County) 
*Binghamton (inc). al) 

Broome County) 


Brewster (incl. in 

Putnam County) 

♦Buffalo 26,000 

Canandaigua (incl. 

in Geneva total) 

Catskill 200 

Corning (incl. in 

Elmira total) 

♦Cortland 150 

Dunkirk '00 

Ellenville l.^* 

ElmiraN 950 

Fleischmanns '20 

Fredonia (incl. in 

Dunkirk total) 





State and City Population 

State and City Population 

State and City Population 

Geneva area 310 

Niagara Falls 150 

Goldsboro 120 

Glens Falls'^ 800 

Glean 120 

♦Greensboro 2,500 

♦Gloversville 380 

**Oneonta 300 

Greenville 240 

♦Herkimer 180 

Orange County 

♦Hendersonville 200 

Highland Falls (incl. 
in Orange County) 


♦♦Hickory 1 10 

High Point (incl. in 

Pawling 105 

♦Hudson 500 

Plattsburg 260 

Greensboro total) 

♦Ithaca area 1,700 

♦♦♦Port Jervis (also 

Jacksonville (incl. in 

Jamestown 100 

incl. in Orange 

Wilmington total) 

Kingston'^ 4,600 

County total) 560 

Raleigh-Wake County 

Kiryas Joel (also 
incl. in Orange County 

Potsdam 200 



Whiteville (incl. in 

total) 10,000 

County 3,600 

Wilmington total) 

Lake George (incl. in 

Putnam County. . 1,000 

Wilmington area . 1 ,200 

Glens Falls total) 

♦♦Rochester 22,500 

Winston-Salem 485 

♦♦♦Liberty (also incl. in 

Rockland County 

Sullivan County 
total) 2,100 



Rome 150 

Fargo 500 

Middletown (incl. in 

Saratoga Springs . . . 600 

Grand Forks 130 

Orange County) 

Seneca Falls (incl. in 

Monroe (incl. in 

Geneva total) 


Orange County) 

♦♦Schenectady 5,200 

**Akron 5,500 

Monticello (also incl. 

South Fallsburg (also 

Athens 100 

in Sullivan County 

incl. in Sullivan County 

Bowling Green (also 

total) 2,400 

total) 1,100 

incl. in Toledo total) 

Newark (incl. in 

Sullivan County . 7,425 


Geneva total) 

Syracuse'^ 9,000 

Butler County 900 

Newburgh (incl. in 

Troy area 800 

♦♦Canton 1,580 

Orange County) 

Utica'^ 1,900 

Cincinnati'^ .... 23,000 

New Paltz (incl. in 

Walden (incl. in 

♦♦Cleveland^ . . . 65,000 

Kingston total) 

Orange County) 

♦Columbus 15,600 

New York Metro Area'^ 

Watertown 120 

♦♦Dayton 5,500 


Woodstock (incl. in 
Kingston total) 

Elyria 175 

Fremont (incl. in 

Bronx 83,700 

Brooklyn.... 379,000 

Sandusky total) 

Manhattan. . . 314,500 


Hamilton (incl. in 

Queens 238,000 

Asheville^ 1,300 

Butler County) 

Staten Island. . 33,700 

♦♦Chapel Hill-Durham 

♦Lima 185 

Nassau County 


Lorain 600 

Charlotte"^ 6,000 

Mansfield 180 

Suffolk County 

Elizabethtown (incl. in 

Marietta (incl. in 


Wilmington total) 
♦Fayetteville 320 

Parkersburg, W. Va. 

Westchester County 



Gastonia 210 

Marion 125 


Jewish Jewish 

State and City Population State and City Population 

Middletown (incl. in 

Butler County) 
New Philadelphia 

(incl. in Canton total) 
Norwalk (incl. in 

Sandusky total) 
Oberlin (incl. in 

Elyria total) 
Oxford (incl. in 

Butler County) 

♦♦Sandusky 130 

Springfield 200 

♦Steubenville 140 

Toledo"^ 6,000 

Warren (also incl. in 

Youngstown total) 


Wooster 135 

Youngstown"^ . . . 4,000 
♦Zanesville 100 


Norman (also incl. 
in Oklahoma City 

total) 350 

♦♦Oklahoma City 


♦Tulsa 2,750 


Ashland (incl. in 
Medford total) 

Bend 175 

Corvallis 175 

Eugene 3,000 

Grants Pass (incl. in 
Medford total) 

♦♦Medford 1,000 

Portland 14,000 

♦♦Salem 530 


Allentown (incl. in 
Lehigh Valley total) 

♦Altoona 525 

Ambridge"^ 250 

Beaver Falls (incl. in 

Upper Beaver County) 
Bethlehem (incl. in 

Lehigh Valley total) 
Bucks County (lower 

portion)"^ 14,500 

♦Butler 165 

♦♦Chambersburg. ... 125 
Chester (incl. in 

Phila. total) 
♦♦♦Chester County (also 

incl. in Phila. total) 


Coatesville (incl. in 

Chester County) 
Easton (incl. in Lehigh 

Valley total) 

♦Erie 850 

Farrell (incl. in 

Sharon total) 
Greensburg (also incl. 

in Pittsburgh 

total) 425 

♦♦Harrisburg 7,000 

Hazleton area 300 

Honesdale (incl. in 

Wayne County) 
Jeannette (incl. in 

Greensburg total) 

♦♦Johnstown 400 

Lancaster area. . . 2,500 

♦Lebanon 350 

Lehigh Valley . . . 8,500 
Lewisburg (incl. in 

Sunbury total) 
Lock Haven (incl. in 

Williamsport total) 
McKeesport (incl. in 

Pittsburgh total) 

New Castle 200 

Norristown (incl. in 

Philadelphia total) 

State and City Population 

"Oil City 100 

Oxford-Kennett Square 

(incl. in 

Chester County) 
Philadelphia area"^ 


Phoenixville (incl, in 

Chester County) 

Pike County 300 

Pittsburgh^ .... 45,000 

Pottstown 650 

Pottsville 225 

♦Reading 2,200 

♦Scranton 3,200 

Shamokin (incl. in 

Sunbury total) 
Sharon (also incl. 

in Youngstown, Ohio 

total) 260 

State College 550 

Stroudsburg 400 

Sunbury"^ 200 

Tamaqua (incl. in 

Hazleton total) 
Uniontown area ... 250 
Upper Beaver County 


♦♦Washington (also 

incl. in Pittsburgh 

total) 175 

♦♦♦Wayne County ..500 
Waynesburg (incl. in 

Washington total) 
West Chester (also 

incl. in Chester 

County) 300 

Wilkes-Barre"^... 3,200 

♦♦Williamsport 350 

York 1.500 


Cranston (incl. in 
Providence total) 


State and City Population 

Kingston (incl. in 

Washington County) 


Providence area 


Washington County 


Westerly (incl. in 

Washington County) 


•Charleston 3,500 

••Columbia 2,500 

Florence area 220 

Georgetown (incl. in 
Myrtle Beach total) 

Greenville 1,200 

Kingstree (incl. in 
Sumter total) 

••Myrtle Beach 425 

Rock Hill (incl. in 
Charlotte, N.C. total) 

•Spartanburg 330 

Sumter"^ 160 


Sioux Falls 175 


Chattanooga 1,350 

Knoxville 1,650 

Memphis 8,500 

Nashville 5,750 

Oak Ridge 250 


Amarillo"^ 150 

•Austin 6,400 

Bay City (incl. in 
Wharton total) 
•••Baytown 300 

Beaumont 500 

•Brownsville 450 

State and City Population 

•••College Station-Bryan 


•Corpus Christi . . 1,400 

••Dallas 35,000 

El Paso 4,900 

•Ft. Worth 5,000 

Galveston 800 

Harlingen (incl. in 
Brownsville total) 

••Houston"^ 42,000 

Kilgore (incl. in 
Longview total) 

Laredo 130 

Longview 1 50 

•Lubbock 480 

Lufkin (incl. in 

Longview total) 

Marshall (incl. in 

Longview total) 

•McAllen"^ 500 

Midland-Odessa ... 1 50 

Port Arthur 100 

•San Antonio . . . 10,000 

South Padre Island (incl. 

in Brownsville total) 

Tyler 400 

Waco"^ 300 

••Wharton 100 

Wichita Falls 260 


Ogden 150 

•Salt Lake City... 3,500 


Bennington area . . . 300 

•Brattleboro 350 

••Burlington 3,000 

Manchester area . . . 250 

Montpelier-Barre . . 550 

Newport (incl. in 
St. Johnsbury total) 

Rutland 550 

••St. Johnsbury 140 

State and City Population 

Stowe 150 

Woodstock 270 


Alexandria (incl. 

Falls Church, 

Arlington, and Fairfax 

counties) 35,100 

Arlington (incl. in 

Alexandria total) 

•••Blacksburg 300 

Charlottesville . . . 1,000 
Chesapeake (incl. in 

Portsmouth total) 
Colonial Heights (incl. 

in Petersburg total) 


Hampton (incl. in 

Newport News total) 
Harrisonburg (incl. in 

Staunton total) 
Lexington (incl. in 

Staunton total) 
Lynchburg area. . . . 275 

••Martinsville 100 

Newport News- 
Hampton"^ .... 2,400 
Norfolk-Virginia Beach 


Petersburg area .... 400 

(also incl. in Norfolk 

total) 1,900 

Radford (incl. in 

Blacksburg total) 
Richmond"^ .... 12,000 

Roanoke 1,050 

Staunton"^ 370 

Williamsburg (incl. in 

Newport News total) 
Winchester"^ 280 


Jewish Jewish Jewish 

State and City Population State and City Population State and City Population 


Bellingham 400 

Ellensburg (incl. in 

Yakima total) 
Longview-Kelso (incl. 
in Portland, Oreg. 

♦Olympia 450 

***Port Angeles .... 100 
Pullman (incl. in 
Moscow, Idaho total) 

•Seattle*^ 29,300 

Spokane 1,300 

*Tacoma 1,250 

Tri Cities'^ 300 

Vancouver (incl. in 

Portland, Oreg. total) 
••Yakima 110 







. 110 

Fairmont (incl. in 

Clarksburg total) 




. 160 


. 130 




Appleton area .... 



. 150 

Fond du Lac (incl. 


Oshkosh total) 

Green Bay 


Janesville (incl. in 

Beloit total) 
•Kenosha 180 

La Crosse 120 

•Madison 4,500 

Milwaukee"^. . . . 28,000 

Oshkosh area 170 

•Racine 375 

Sheboygan 140 

Waukesha (incl. in 
Milwaukee total) 

Wausau"^ 240 


Casper 100 

Cheyenne 230 

Laramie (incl. in 
Cheyenne total) 



Long Beach — includes in Los Angeles County: Long Beach, Signal Hill, Cerritos, Lake- 
wood, Rosmoor, and Hawaiian Gardens. Also includes in Orange County: Los Alamitos, 
Cypress, Seal Beach, and Huntington Harbor. 

Palm Springs — includes Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, 
and Rancho Mirage. 

Pomona Valley — includes Alta Loma, Chino, Claremont, Cucamonga, La Verne, Mont- 
clair, Ontario, Pomona, San Dimas, and Upland. Portion also included in Los Angeles 

Sacramento — includes Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, and Sacramento counties. 

San Francisco Bay Area — North Peninsula includes northern San Mateo County. South 
Peninsula includes southern San Mateo County and towns of Palo Alto and Los Altos 
in Santa Clara County. San Jose includes remainder of Santa Clara County. 


Denver — includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson counties. 


Bridgeport — includes Monroe, Easton, Trumbull, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Shelton, Stratford, 
and part of Milford. 


Danbury — includes Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Brookfield, Sherman, Newtown, Red- 
ding, Ridgefield, and part of Wilton; also includes some towns in neighboring Putnam 
County, New York. 

Hartford — includes most of Hartford County and Vernon, Rockville, Ellington, and Tol- 
land in Tolland County, and Meriden area of New Haven County. 

Lower Middlesex County — includes Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Old 
Saybrook, Old Lyme, Durham, and Killingworth. Portion of this area also included in 
New London and New Haven totals. 

Meriden — includes Meriden, Southington, Cheshire, and Wallingford. Most included in 
Hartford total and a portion also included in New Haven and Waterbury totals. 

New Haven — includes New Haven, East Haven, Guilford, Branford, Madison, North 
Haven, Hamden, West Haven, Milford, Orange, Woodbridge, Bethany, Derby, Ansonia, 
and Cheshire. 

New London — includes central and southern New London County. Also includes part of 
Lower Middlesex County and part of Windham County. 

Norwalk — includes Norwalk, Weston, Westport, East Norwalk, Darien, Wilton, part of 
Georgetown, and part of New Canaan. 

Valley Area — includes Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Oxford, Seymour, and Beacon Falls. Por- 
tion also included in Bridgeport and New Haven totals. 

Waterbury — includes Bethlehem, Cheshire, Litchfield, Morris, Middlebury, Southbury, 
Naugatuck, Prospect, Plymouth, Roxbury, Southbury, Southington, Thomaston, Tor- 
rington, Washington, Watertown, Waterbury, Oakville, Woodbury, and Wolcott. 


Dover — includes most of central and southern Delaware. 


Greater Washington — includes Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland; 
Arlington County, Fairfax County, Falls Church, and Alexandria in Virginia. 


Ft. Lauderdale — includes Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Tamarac, 
Margate, Coral Springs, and other towns in northern Broward County. 

Hollywood — includes Hollywood, Hallandale, Cooper City, Dania, Davie, Pembroke Pines, 
and other towns in southern Broward County. 

Orlando — includes all of Orange and Seminole counties, southern Volusia County, and 
northern Osceola County. 


Augusta — includes Burke, Columbia, and Richmond counties and part of Aiken County, 
South Carolina. 



Chicago — includes all of Cook and DuPage counties and a portion of Lake County. 
Elgin — includes northern Kane County, southern McHenry County, and western edge of 

Cook County. 
Quad Cities — includes Rock Island and Moline (Illinois), Davenport and Bettendorf (Iowa). 
Rockford — includes Winnebago, Boone, and Stephenson counties. 
Southern Illinois — includes lower portion of Illinois below Carlinville, adjacent western 

portion of Kentucky, and adjacent portion of southeastern Missouri. 


South Bend — includes St. Joseph and Elkhart counties and part of Berrien County, Michi- 


Wichita — includes Sedgwick County and towns of Salina, Dodge City, Great Bend, Liberal, 
Russell, and Hays. 


Lexington — includes Fayette, Bourbon, Scott, Clark, Woodford, Madison, Pulaski, and 
Jessamine counties. 


Alexandria — includes towns in Allen, Grant, Rapides, and Vernon parishes. 

Baton Rouge — includes E. Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, St. Landry, Iberville, 

Pointe Coupee, and W. Baton Rouge parishes. 
South Central — includes Abbeville, Lafayette, New Iberia, Crowley, Opelousas, Houma, 

Morgan City, Thibodaux, and Franklin. 


Southern Maine — includes York, Cumberland, and Sagadahoc counties. 


Upper Eastern Shore — includes towns in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Annes, and 
Talbot counties. 


Andover — includes Andover, N. Andover, Boxford, Lawrence, Methuen, Tewksbury, Dra- 
cut, and town of Salem, New Hampshire. 

Boston Metropolitan Region — includes all towns south and west of Boston within approxi- 
mately 30 miles, and all towns north of Boston within approximately 20 miles. All towns 
formerly part of Framingham area are now included in Boston total. 

Brockton — includes Avon, Brockton, Easton, Bridgewater, Whitman, and West Bridgewa- 
ter. Also included in Boston total. 


Lynn— includes Lynn, Saugus, Nahant, Swampscott, Lynnfield, Peabody, Salem, Marble- 
head, Beverly, Danvers, Middleton, Wenham, Topsfield, Hamilton, Manchester, Ipswich, 
Essex, Gloucester, and Rockport. Also included in Boston total. 

New Bedford — includes New Bedford, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Mattapoisett. 

Springfield — includes Springfield, Longmeadow, E. Longmeadow, Hampden, Wilbraham, 
Agawam, and W. Springfield. 

Worcester — includes Worcester, Northborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Boylston, W. 
Boylston, Holden, Paxton, Leicester, Auburn, Millbury, and Grafton. Also included in 
the Worcester County total. 


Mt. Pleasant — includes towns in Isabella, Mecosta, Gladwin, and Gratiot counties. 


Omaha — includes Douglas and Sarpy counties. Also includes Pottawatamie County, Iowa. 


Laconia — includes Laconia, Plymouth, Meredith, Conway, and Franklin. 


Cherry Hill — includes Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties. 

Essex County — East Essex includes Belleville, Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Newark, 
and Nutley in Essex County, and Kearney in Hudson County. North Essex includes 
Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair, North Caldwell, 
Roseland, Verona, and West Caldwell. South Essex includes Maplewood, Millbum, Short 
Hills, and South Orange in Essex County, and Springfield in Union County. 

Middlesex County — includes in Somerset County: Kendall Park, Somerset, and Franklin; 
in Mercer County: Hightstown; and all of Middlesex County. 

Northeastern N.J. — includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, 
Union, Hunterdon, Sussex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. 

North Hudson County — includes Guttenberg, Hudson Heights, North Bergen, North Hud- 
son, Secaucus, Union City, Weehawken, West New York, and WoodclifT. 

Somerset County — includes most of Somerset County and a portion of Hunterdon County. 

Trenton — includes most of Mercer County. 

Union County — includes all of Union County except Springfield. Also includes a few towns 
in adjacent areas of Somerset and Middlesex counties. 

Vineland — includes most of Cumberland County and towns in neighboring counties adja- 
cent to Vineland. 


Elmira — includes Chemung, Tioga, and Schuyler counties. Also includes Tioga and Brad- 
ford counties in Pennsylvania. 


Glens Falls — includes Warren and Washington counties, lower Essex County, and upper 
Saratoga County. 

Kingston — includes eastern half of Ulster County. 

New York Metropolitan Area — includes the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, 
Nassau, and Suffolk counties. For a total Jewish population of the New York metropoli- 
tan region, please include Fairfield County, Connecticut; Rockland, Putnam, and Orange 
counties. New York; and Northeastern New Jersey. 

Syracuse — includes Onondaga County, western Madison County, and most of Oswego 

Utica — southeastern third of Oneida County. 


Asheville — includes Buncombe, Haywood, and Madison counties. 
Charlotte — includes Mecklenburg County. Also includes Lancaster and York counties in 
South Carolina. 


Cincinnati — includes Hamilton and Butler counties. Also includes Boone, Campbell, and 

Kenton counties in Kentucky. 
Cleveland — for a total Jewish population of the Cleveland metropolitan region, please 

include Elyria, Lorain, and Akron totals. 
Toledo — includes Fulton, Lucas, and Wood counties. Also includes Monroe and Lenawee 

counties, Michigan. 
Youngstown — includes Mahoning and Trumbull counties. Also includes Mercer County, 



Ambridge — includes lower Beaver County and adjacent areas of Allegheny County. Also 
included in Pittsburgh total. 

Bucks County (lower portion) — includes Bensalem Township, Bristol, Langhome, Levil- 
town. New Hope, Newtown, Penndel, Trevose, Warrington, Yardley, Richboro, Feaster- 
ville, Middletown, Southampton, and Holland. Also included in Philadelphia total, 

Philadelphia — includes Philadelphia City; Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, and Bucks 
counties. For a total Jewish population of the Philadelphia metropolitan region, please 
include the Cherry Hill, Salem, and Trenton areas of New Jersey, and the Wilmington 
area of Delaware. 

Pittsburgh — includes all of Allegheny County and adjacent portions of Washington, West- 
moreland, and Beaver counties. 

Sunbury — includes Shamokin, Lewisburg, Milton, Selinsgrove, and Sunbury. 

Wilkes-Barre — includes all of Luzerne County except southern portion, which is included 
in Hazleton totals. 



Sumter — includes towns in Sumter, Lee, Clarendon, and Williamsburg counties. 


Amarillo — includes Canyon, Childress, Borger, Dumas, Memphis, Pampa, Vega, and Here- 
ford in Texas, and Portales, New Mexico. 

Houston — includes Harris, Montgomery, and Ft. Bend counties, and parts of Brazoria and 
Galveston counties. 

McAllen — includes Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen, Mission, Pharr, Rio Grande City, San 
Juan, and Weslaco. Portion of Harlingen also included in Brownsville total. 

Waco — includes McLennan, Coryell, Bell, Falls, Hamilton, and Hill counties. 


Fredericksburg — includes towns in Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, and Orange coun- 

Newport News — includes Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, James City, York 
County, and Poquoson City. 

Richmond — includes Richmond City, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County. 

Staunton — includes towns in Augusta, Page, Shenandoah, Rockingham, Bath, and High- 
land counties. 

Winchester — includes towns in Winchester, Frederick, Clarke, and Warren counties, Vir- 
ginia; and Hardy and Jefferson counties, West Virginia. 


Seattle — includes King County and adjacent portions of Snohomish and Kitsap counties. 
Tri Cities — includes Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick. 


Huntington — includes nearby towns in Ohio and Kentucky. 


Milwaukee — includes Milwaukee County, eastern Waukesha County, and southern 

Ozaukee County. 
Wausau — includes Stevens Point, Marshfield, Antigo, and Rhinelander. 







National Affairs 

J. HE country's two LARGEST PROVINCES held elections in 1994 and 
mid- 1995. In September 1994 Quebec elected a Parti Quebecois (PQ) government 
with a razor-thin plurahty in the popular vote. The new government committed 
itself to hold a referendum on independence in 1995 and reaffirmed its intention to 
make Quebec a separate country. The Jewish community of Montreal, which is 
overwhelmingly federahst, found the results unsettling, though the news was re- 
ceived more calmly than the first PQ victory in 1976. 

Salomon Cohen ran unsuccessfully as a PQ candidate in Outremont. Lawrence 
Bergman and Russell Copeman were elected as Liberals in neighboring Montreal 
districts. Another Liberal winner was Yvon Charbonneau, a militant anti-Israel 
union leader in the 1980s. Liberal leader Daniel Johnson claimed that Charbonneau 
had moderated his views, but he participated in a March 1995 rally against Israeli 
activities in Lebanon, provoking a protest from Canada-Israel Committee Quebec 
chair Thomas Hecht. 

Ontario's June 1995 election also saw a change in the government, with the 
Progressive Conservatives (PC) ousting the New Democrats. In a closely followed 
race in Willowdale, incumbent Charles Hamick (PC) defeated former Canadian 
Jewish Congress president Les Scheininger (Liberal). Liberals Monte Kwinter and 
Elinor Caplan were reelected in Toronto districts, while their fellow partisan Steven 
Offer lost his seat in Mississauga. 

Following its electoral victory in Quebec, the PQ government set up a series of 
commissions to examine options for "sovereignty," the label that it used for indepen- 
dence. The Quebec regions of both B'nai Brith Canada (BBC) and Canadian Jewish 
Congress (CJC) submitted briefs that vigorously opposed the sovereignty project. 
BBC argued that independence would not give the people of the province anything 
they did not already have, and that the effects of secession would be highly negative, 
leading to a further exodus of Jews from Montreal. CJC reaffirmed the federalist 
preference of the Jews of Quebec and was joined by representatives of the Greek and 
Italian communities. 

The House of Commons passed a new hate-crimes bill in June 1995, which 
increased the punishments for crimes motivated by racial or religious hatred. Both 



BBC and CJC supported the bill, which generated controversy because of its protec- 
tion of gays and lesbians against crimes motivated by bias. 

Israel and the Middle East 

Canada and Israel began negotiations on a free-trade pact in November 1994. The 
envisioned deal would give Canadian companies greater access to the Israeli market 
and to the Middle East as a whole. As of 1993, trade between the two countries 
amounted to about $300 million, a small fraction of Israel's foreign trade. 

Ontario signed an economic agreement with Israel in April 1994, in order to 
facilitate collaboration between companies in the two jurisdictions. A new venture, 
the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, was an- 
nounced in May 1994. It had funding of $6 million from the industry ministries of 
the two countries, as well as private sources. It will encourage cooperative research 
for commercial purposes. 

Air Canada inaugurated twice-weekly nonstop service between Toronto and Tel 
Aviv in June 1995. The competition on the route with El Al brought fares down 
from previous levels. Earlier in the year El Al had threatened to abandon its service 
to Canada because of anticipated competition from a charter company. But that did 
not materialize and both El Al and Air Canada enjoyed high loads during the 
summer of 1995. 

Refugee claims by Israehs who wanted to move to Canada — claiming that Israel 
persecuted them or denied them equal rights — caused consternation to the Israeli 
government and the Canadian Jewish community. In 1992 and 1993, for example, 
over 3,000 people from Israel applied for refugee status in Canada, the largest 
number from any democratic state. Most of the claims were ultimately rejected, 
though they were less hkely to be rejected in Quebec than in Ontario. The countries 
that produced more claimants were Iran, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The 
number of applicants declined in 1994, but 380 Israeli claims were granted, more 
than in the previous five years combined. There was still a backlog of unresolved 
claims at the end of the year. 

The numbers, which increased substantially from 1991 to 1992, included many 
ex-Soviets, not all of them Jewish. The fact that Canada gave credence to some of 
the claims was very embarrassing to Israel, which maintained that Canada was the 
only country that accepted Israeli citizens as refugees. Ambassador Itzhak Shelef 
asserted that "it is an insult to one democracy that another democracy should accept 
its citizens as refugees." His government lodged an official complaint with Canada 
on the matter. In August 1994 the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) held 
hearings on conditions in Israel, providing a forum for Israeli lawyer Lynda Brayer 
to pillory Israel for alleged apartheid-like policies. Another Israeli lawyer, Jonathan 
Livny, and Canadian law professor Irwin Cotler attacked Brayer's testimony and 
attested to Israel's protection of human rights. 

Legal rulings added to the controversy. The Federal Court upheld the IRB and 

CANADA / 197 

ruled in December 1994 that a Russian couple of mixed ancestry did not face 
persecution in Israel and therefore did not qualify as refugees. In November 1994 
the IRB held in another case that a Jewish woman from Azerbaijan did not qualify 
as a refugee because she had the option of seeking refuge in Israel and receiving 
citizenship there. Jewish immigration advocates were concerned that by that logic 
no Jew could ever qualify as a refugee in Canada. However, in May 1995 another 
IRB ruling did admit a Russian Jewish woman, expressly refuting the previous 

Canada prepared to deport a Soviet Christian family that had become Israeli 
citizens and then come to Canada as visitors and stayed after a claim for refugee 
status was denied. The Davidov family asserted that they could not fit into Israel 
because they were Christian, but Israeli officials promised them otherwise and 
assured them that they would not be returned to their native Tajikistan. In February 
1994 Immigration Minister Sergio Marchi responded to expressions of support for 
the family by allowing them to apply for permanent residence status and remain in 
their Ste. Foy, Quebec, home while the application was processed. 

On an unrelated matter, after two years of deliberations, the IRB rejected the 
refugee claim of Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a Palestinian terrorist 
convicted in Greece for attacking an El Al plane in 1968. He had been granted 
permanent residence in Canada on false pretenses and then claimed refugee status 
after his immigration permit was revoked. 

The UN held a North American Non-Governmental Organizations Symposium 
on the Question of Palestine in Toronto in July 1994. Former Jerusalem city council- 
lor Sarah Kaminker attacked Israeli policy in the capital, asserting that the goal was 
to "turn it into a Jewish city with only isolated Arab neighborhoods." 

Also in July, 17 Canadian university presidents visited Israel, led by CJC presi- 
dent Irving Abella. They toured the country, visited its universities and research 
institutes, and met with their Israeli counterparts. 

Chief Justice Antonio Lamer visited Israel in November 1994, where he met with 
Justice Meir Shamgar, his Israeli counterpart. There was a diplomatic incident when 
Canadian ambassador Norman Spector objected to Lamer's intention to visit Beth- 
lehem and the Old City of Jerusalem, accompanied by Shamgar, on the ground that 
it would imply recognition of Israel's occupation. Lamer finally did visit the Western 
Wall without notifying anyone. Shamgar and his judicial colleagues boycotted a 
reception at Spector's home as an expression of their displeasure. 

The government of Israel honored Toronto community activist Judy Feld Carr 
at a ceremony in Jerusalem in April 1995. Speaking to the assembly. Foreign 
Minister Shimon Peres said, "I wish to express our gratitude for the outstanding 
job you did . . . enabling the Jewish community of Syria to find a safe haven." Carr 
had worked tirelessly on behalf of Syrian Jews for 20 years. 

David Berger, a former MP, was appointed ambassador to Israel in 1995, succeed- 
ing Norman Spector. Itzhak Shelef completed his posting as the IsraeH ambassador 
in Ottawa in the summer of 1995. As the fruits of his five years in Canada, he could 


point to strong Canadian political support, the improvement of trade relations, 
high-tech cooperation, and a strong Canadian presence in Israel. His successor was 
Robbie Sabel. 

Jehudi Kinar was appointed consul-general of Israel in Toronto, succeeding Dror 
Zeigerman, while his new counterpart in Montreal was Daniel Gal, who succeeded 
Itzhak Levanon. 

Anti-Semitism and Racism 

The Supreme Court of Canada decided in October 1994 to consider the govern- 
ment's appeal of the 1993 decision of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in the 
Malcolm Ross case. Ross had been removed as a public-school teacher because of 
his anti-Semitic writings but had prevailed in the Court of Appeal. Subsequently he 
published a book in which he accused Jewish physicians of threatening "Christian 
civilization" by performing abortions — The Real Holocaust: The Attack on Unborn 
Children and Life Itself. 

Wolfgang Droege, leader of the racist Heritage Front, was in court on several 
occasions. He was acquitted in January 1994 of violating the terms of his bail by 
continuing to speak publicly about the Front. But he and two followers were found 
guilty of contempt of court in June 1994 for flouting a court order to desist from 
playing racist telephone hotline messages and were given three-month jail sentences. 
In early 1995 he was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in a 1993 brawl. 
In December 1994 a government committee revealed that the Heritage Front had 
targeted some 22 Canadians, including several Jews, in a 1993 plot. One of those 
selected for murder was CJC official Bernie Farber. The report also noted harass- 
ment of some Jewish leaders by racists involved with the Front or similar bodies. 

Anti-Semitic publisher Ernst Zundel encountered setbacks in his efforts to use the 
broadcast media. One of his television shows was dropped by a Texas station early 
in 1994; another was accepted by a station in upstate New York in January 1995 
but was canceled after protests. He did appear for an interview on an Albany area 
radio station in March. On May 7, 1995 — the eve of VE Day — fire destroyed half 
of Zundel's Toronto house, probably due to arson. The perpetrator was not identi- 

Former teacher James Keegstra's 1992 conviction for hate mongering was re- 
versed by the Alberta Court of Appeal in September 1994 by a 2-1 vote, because 
of errors by the trial judge. 

Prof Robert O'Driscoll was reprimanded by the University of Toronto for his 
anti-Semitic writings. The decision was based on two reviews of his performance. 
The university decided that he had to satisfy conditions related to physical and 
mental health in order to continue teaching there. 

B'nai Brith reported an increase of nearly 12 percent in incidents of anti-Semitic 
harasssment and vandalism in 1994 compared to the previous year. The 290 inci- 
dents represented the highest total in 13 years of reporting. The increase was in the 
category of harassment (from 151 to 198), while vandalism incidents declined from 

CANADA / 199 

105 to 92. About half of the incidents were reported in the Toronto area. 

A Quebec City synagogue was defaced in March 1 994, and swastikas were painted 
on a Montreal Jewish school in May. The Beach Synagogue at Winnipeg Beach was 
defaced with swastikas on Halloween; two teenagers were arrested and later apolo- 
gized. Swastikas were also daubed on Jewish-owned businesses in Toronto in De- 
cember. Anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate School in 
Winnipeg in March 1995, while two campuses of the Associated Hebrew Schools 
in Toronto received similar treatment later that month. 

American black radical Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) spoke at the Univer- 
sity of Manitoba in February 1994, expressing his usual anti-Zionist ideas. In May, 
Nation of Islam member Khalid Muhammad was barred from Canada when he 
tried to enter for a speaking engagement at the University of Toronto. CJC president 
Abella denounced him as a "racist agitator." Muhammad spoke to the crowd over 
a phone line and was cheered for his attacks on whites and Jews. 

A Toronto radio station affiliated with the University of Toronto broadcast 
interviews with two officials of the Nation of Islam in the spring of 1994. One of 
them was allowed to harangue CIUT's listeners with an anti-Semitic diatribe about 
alleged Jewish subjugation of blacks. The station's program director acknowledged 
that the statements were defamatory and carried a retraction twice daily for two 
weeks. A Polish-language newspaper in Edmonton published excerpts of the infa- 
mous Protocols of the Elders of Zion in August 1 994. 

Montreal researchers Jean-Francois Nadeau and Gonzalo Arriaga found that 
prominent Quebec nationahsts had assisted French collaborators such as Jacques 
Duge and Georges-Benoit Montel, both associated with Klaus Barbie in Lyons, to 
settle in Quebec after World War II. The head of the Quebec network that facilitated 
their immigration was historian Robert Rumilly. He was assisted by Montreal 
mayor Camilien Houde and Father Lionel Groulx, a leading nationalist figure. 
Political scientist Esther Delisle found that the collaborators enjoyed the protection 
of a number of prominent Quebecers, including Louis St. Laurent and Maurice 
Duplessis. She claimed, too, that the Canadian embassy in Paris was connected with 
the escape operation. 

Nazi War Criminals 

Legal action against Nazi war criminals living in Canada continued to move 
slowly, with Citizenship and Immigration Minister Sergio Marchi going back and 
forth on the matter of funding for the process. In February 1995 the government 
announced the initiation of proceedings against four accused war criminals, but said 
that there were insufficient resources available to proceed with eight additional cases 
simultaneously. In April 1995 the head of the Justice Department's war-crimes unit, 
Peter Kremer, finished his term of office. By June, the government, having decided 
to accelerate the pace, was prepared to proceed against six elderly men, mainly of 
Latvian origin. 

Among the accused were Erichs Tobiass, a member of the notorious Arajs Kom- 


mando in Latvia from 1941 to 1943; Konrads Kalejs, a visitor to Canada who also 
served in the Kommando; Joseph Nemsila, reportedly a member of the HIinka 
Guard in Slovakia; Helmut Oberlander, who served in the Einsatzkommando in the 
Soviet Union in 1941; and Johann Dueck, a policeman in Ukraine between 1941 and 

Nazi collaborator Jacob Luitjens, who had been deported from Canada to his 
native Holland, was released from prison there in March 1995, after serving two 
years of a life sentence. In the case of Imre Finta, who had been acquitted in 1991 
and again in 1993, in March 1994 the Supreme Court refused to grant the govern- 
ment a new trial. It did, however, uphold the constitutionality of the war-crimes 
legislation under which Finta was tried. Again in June, following additional govern- 
ment appeals, the court refused to reopen the case. BBC's League for Human Rights 
then petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a declaration 
that Canada had violated its international obligation to bring Nazi war criminals 
to justice and that the Finta decision contravened international law. 



The number of Jews in Canada, based on the 1991 census, was 356,315.' 

Toronto was by far the largest Jewish community in the country, with 162,605 
Jews, according to an analysis of 1991 census data. About 45 percent of Canada's 
Jews lived in Metro Toronto, which was the eighth-largest Jewish community in 
North America. Although religious identification with Judaism among Toronto's 
Jews was strong, intermarriage was increasing. About one-seventh of the Jews 
between 25 and 34 lived in intermarried families. Also, nearly one-seventh of the 
Jewish children lived in homes where one parent was not Jewish. 

Toronto Jewry's rapid growth in recent years was fueled by immigration, with 
nearly a third of the population born in other countries. About half of the immi- 
grants had arrived during the past 20 years, primarily from the Soviet Union, Israel, 
or South Africa. Toronto was also a magnet for Jews from other parts of Canada, 
especially Montreal, with the community absorbing over 7,000 such people between 
1986 and 1991. 

A study by the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto showed that 39 percent of 
the affiliated Jews belonged to Conservative synagogues, 24 percent to Reform, and 
10 percent to Orthodox, though only about half the community belonged to a 
synagogue at all. About two-thirds had visited Israel at least once. In terms of age, 
the senior group (over age 65) at 15 percent was about 50 percent larger proportion- 

'See Jim L. Torczyner and Shari L. Brotman, "The Jews of Canada: A Profile from the 
Census," AJYB 1995, pp. 227-60. 

CANADA / 201 

ally than the comparable group in the general population. Although this was a 
common situation for Jews throughout Canada, the under- 15 age group was also 
growing (from 19 to 21 percent between 1981 and 1991), a hopeful sign for the 

Montreal remained the second-largest community, with 101,210 Jews, according 
to an analysis of the 1991 census. This was a higher total than most observers had 
expected, with immigration from overseas offsetting moves to Toronto and other 
parts of Canada. About 22 percent of the Jews were over age 65, creating a growing 
challenge for community planners. 

A Federation-Combined Jewish Appeal study found an increase in the intermar- 
riage rate between 1981 and 1991, from 5.5 percent to 9.3 percent of married Jews 
with non-Jewish spouses, though that was still the lowest rate in North America. 
The likelihood of intermarriage increased with education and income. 

The Sephardic community of Montreal numbered between 14,500 and 20,500, 
according to McGill University analysts Jim Torczyner and Shari Brotman. The 
limitations of the census data make it difficult to be more precise. The Sephardim 
had more young people than the Ashkenazim and fewer aged, their educational 
attainments were slightly lower, they had larger families, and they were less affluent. 

Intermarriage continued to be a major problem in Vancouver, with over 32 
percent of Jewish families including a non-Jewish spouse. The Jewish Federation of 
Greater Vancouver estimated the 1994 population at 21,170, up from 19,375 in 
1991. Most of the influx into Vancouver was from other provinces rather than from 
foreign countries. 

Communal Affairs 

The crucial issue in Toronto was the financial failure of the Jewish Community 
Center, which ran up a debt of approximately $18 million (Canadian) from expan- 
sion and questionable management practices, compounded by the failure of donors 
to pay pledges due to deteriorating economic conditions. With three campuses that 
served much of the community facing closure, the problem was serious indeed. In 
February 1994, the JCC defaulted on its major bank loan and risked having its assets 
seized. The Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto (JFGT), which had been paying 
the interest on the loan, stopped doing so because of the uncertainty. The saga 
continued well into 1995, with the key questions being the precise size of the debt, 
originally estimated at $10 million, what role the Federation would play in any 
rescue package, and what would happen to programs, buildings, and staff. The 
problem of finding the necessary resources was acute in an environment of at best 
stable community budgets. 

After various attempts to arrive at a solution fell through, the Federation an- 
nounced in July 1994 that it had borrowed $5 million, most of which was turned 
over to the bank to cover part of the debt. The JFGT received a first mortgage on 
the property. United Israel Appeal agreed to pay the interest on the JFGT's loan. 


The Community Endowment Fund also loaned the JCC $700,000. The Federation 
then took control of the JCC in August. The executive director, central administra- 
tive staif, and some of the program staff of the JCC were let go, and programming 
cutbacks were announced. On the community's Super Sunday in September, many 
of the cashiered JCC employees picketed the Federation to protest the loss of their 
jobs. Eventually severance arrangements were concluded, the creditors agreed to the 
restructuring plan in December, and a judge approved the deal in January 1995. 

A special task force of the JFGT reported in mid- 1994 on continuity in the 
community. It recommended new spending of $1.2 million per year for staff and 
programming to combat assimilation and intermarriage. The report asserted that 
the central question is "whether being Jewish will continue to be important to Jews, 
or whether it will become a peripheral and ultimately meaningless part of their 
lives." Key recommendations of the task force included emphasis on family-life 
education, programs for young adults, and Jewish education. 

In 1994 the United Jewish Appeal in Toronto raised about $33 million net, The 
conservative budget allocation for 1994-95, allowing for potential collection prob- 
lems, was Overseas — $16.1 million. National — $3.0, Community Service— $3.6, 
Jewish Education — $7.4, and JFGT — $1.8. In 1995 the UJA established a new 
division for Israelis living in the area. 

In Montreal, the Combined Jewish Appeal raised about $31.5 million in its 1994 
campaign, with net proceeds amounting to $27.5 million, up about $150,000 from 
the previous year. In the 1995-96 budget, the allocations were as follows; Overseas 
— $12.3 million. National — $2.5, Local Services — $12.7. Montreal was now spend- 
ing more on local services than it sent to Israel (contrasting with the roughly 60 
percent it sent to Israel 10-15 years ago). 

In 1992 the Montreal Jewish community and the Quebec government made an 
agreement to bring about 100 Jewish families to Montreal from the former Soviet 
Union. For its part, the government agreed to accelerate the immigration process, 
while the community, through the Federation and Jewish Immigrant Aid Services, 
covered the immigrants' basic living expenses for a year and assisted them in 
integrating into the Quebec milieu. The program was particularly successful in 
finding employment for the immigrants, who came mainly from Russia or Ukraine, 
but because of cost factors was limited to the 100 families. Many other Soviet Jews, 
perhaps as many as 5,000, had come to Quebec outside of the special program, b 
May 1994 the program was renewed to cover an additional 100 families before 1996. 

The new president of the Communaute Sepharade du Quebec (CSQ), Joseph 
Gabay, announced his intention to foster rapprochement between his own constitu- 
ency and the Ashkenazi majority in the Montreal Jewish community. This effort was 
endorsed by the Federation and the Quebec Region of CJC. At a seminar held under 
the auspices of the three groups in March 1 994, Michel Chokron, a former president 
of the CSQ, warned of a possible exodus of young professionals if Quebec separated, 
similar to what happened after Morocco became independent in 1956. Other speak- 
ers, such as Maxyne Finkelstein of Federation CJA and Jack Jedwab of CJC, did 

CANADA / 203 

not share his apocalyptic view. According to Prof. Jim Torczyner of McGill Univer- 
sity, his data showed Montreal to have a stable and vital population, with immi- 
grants from overseas replacing those Jews who left. To him, the more pressing issues 
were how to deal with growing numbers of the elderly and poor and how to integrate 
Sephaidim into the community's political structure. Steven Drysdale, the Federa- 
tion's executive vice-president, noted the increase in Sephardim on his professional 
staff and foresaw a time when they would be well represented in key lay posts as 

The CSQ received a great deal of praise from Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc Quebecois 
whip in the House of Commons, speaking at a panel discussion in January 1994. 
After participating in the annual CSQ meeting, the separatist legislator praised the 
Sephardim for being active in Quebec society and for exemplifying the best of 
community involvement. However, Duceppe warned the Jewish community and 
other ethnic groups against trying to preserve intact their separate cultures, which 
could encourage a "siege mentality." He concluded that "all residents of Quebec, 
regardless of the cultural origin, are fully Quebecois." 

When most of McGill University's teaching hospitals agreed in principle to a 
merger that would create a new super hospital, the Jewish General Hospital decHned 
to participate, preferring to retain its separate identity. The decision was based on 
considerations of how best to serve the hospital's clientele and was not expected to 
affect its affiliation with McGill's Faculty of Medicine. 

Canadian Jewish Congress observed its 75th birthday with a gala celebration at 
Montreal's Monument National Theater in March 1994. President Irving Abella 
reviewed the history of the organization and that of Canadian Jewry, pointing out 
just how far the community had come in 75 years. He said that CJC's greatest 
strengths were "elasticity" and a "resolute and fiercely democratic spirit." He also 
praised the unified voice with which Congress had represented the community. 

In May 1995, CJC held its triennial Plenary Assembly in Montreal. The highlight 
was a bitterly contested election for the presidency between Goldie Hershon and 
Thomas Hecht. Hershon won by 16 votes out of 847 that were cast. The election 
was marked by charges and countercharges of electoral irregularities, questionable 
credentials, organizational problems, manipulation, lack of neutrahty on the part of 
staff, and attempts to pack the election. Specific allegations were that the Hecht team 
paid the registration fees of some delegates, especially youth, and that the Hershon 
forces questioned Hecht's integrity in the media. The news about the conflicts 
surrounding the election was carried by the general media, adding to the sense of 
embarrassment felt by many members of the community. 

Hershon promised to emphasize national unity, the welfare of small communities, 
combating anti-Semitism, and integrating youth into community affairs. She also 
appealed to the Council of Jewish Federations (Canada) for a larger budgetary 
allocation to offset the cuts of recent years. Hecht averred that he wanted to open 
Congress to wider participation, "but Congress insiders opted for the status quo." 
An issue in the election that was not generally addressed directly was Hecht's 


avowed support for the Israeli Likud Party, which some people apparently fdt 
disqualified him from representing the community. In the aftermath of the election. 
Justice Herbert Marx of Quebec Superior Court was asked by Hershon to head a 
commission to review the organization's by-laws in order to prevent abuses of the 
system in the future. The particular focus would be the rules governing the registra- 
tion of delegates and the conduct of elections. 

In Winnipeg, the Jewish Community Council was reexamining its structure and 
its relationship to the many Jewish organizations in that city. In October 1994 it 
announced plans for a new campus that would house the Jewish Museum of Western 
Canada, the YM-YWHA, the Jewish Community Center, the Joseph Wolinsky 
Collegiate School, the Ramah Hebrew School, and community offices. The cost 
would be $26 million, with part being covered by federal and provincial grants 
toward the museum. 

Rabbi Meyer Krentzman of Montreal, who held a number of key community 
positions over many years, was arrested in January 1994 and charged with traffick- 
ing in narcotics. In particular he was accused of attempting to sell cocaine and 
heroin to an undercover police officer, possession, intention to traffic, and conspir- 
acy. Another man charged in the case, Andar Galandauer, was an officer of a local 
synagogue. Subsequently, both were also charged with the production of fake pass- 
ports and breaking and entering, and Galandauer was charged with possession of 
prohibited weapons. Krentzman faced two fraud charges as well from 1993. He had 
held executive-director posts at the Jewish Education Council, the Canadian Zionist 
Federation, and the Jewish National Fund. 

At the end of February, Rabbi Krentzman pleaded guilty to several of the charges 
relating to drug trafficking, fraud, and issuing false declarations. The other charges 
were dropped. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but was paroled in the spring 
of 1995. Galandauer pleaded guilty in March 1994 to ten charges and was sent to 
prison for five years and eight months. 


At the National Jewish Education Conference in Winnipeg in April 1994, Rabbi 
Irwin Witty, executive director of the Board of Jewish Education of Toronto, 
defended the Jewish schools against charges that they were not doing enough for 
Jewish continuity, arguing that the home, synagogue, and community had major 
roles to play as well. "The school is supposed to replace the parents. The results are 
ignorance, indifference, alienation, intermarriage, and conversion." Witty also made 
a clarion call for "a massive infusion of funds" from the local communities as "the 
only realistic approach." 

Federation CJA in Montreal decided to finance an afternoon school for the first 
time. The school, which opened in September 1994 for children aged 6-12, was 
designed to fill the gap caused by the closing of congregational afternoon schools. 
In Ottawa a community-funded high school also opened in September 1994. In 

CANADA / 205 

addition, a new campus of the Reform Leo Baeck Day School opened in Thornhill, 
a rapidly growing Toronto suburb. 

In July 1994, the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the view that 
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms required the government to finance religious 
education "for all the diverse religious groups within Ontario." This was another 
bitter disappointment for the Toronto Jewish community, which had been striving 
for years to obtain government funding for its day schools but had been rebuffed 
at every turn. 

Community Relations 

When Ontario's Jewish children in the public-school system faced the prospect 
of the first day of school in September 1994 coinciding with Rosh Hashanah, most 
boards were persuaded by Jewish communal bodies to delay their openings. This 
included virtually all boards in the Toronto and Ottawa areas. 

The policy of the Royal Canadian Legion on the wearing of head coverings in 
Legion halls was a source of continuing difficulty. After disputes in 1993 with Sikhs 
who had been barred, the Legion's Dominion Command issued a directive to permit 
the wearing of headgear required by Jewish and Sikh religious practices. However, 
at the biennial Legion convention in June 1994, delegates voted overwhelmingly to 
reject the national policy and leave the matter up to the local branches. The explana- 
tion of opponents of the policy was that heads must be uncovered out of respect for 
fallen comrades. Both CJC and the World Sikh Organization condemned the vote. 

In February 1994, the House of Commons adopted a new opening prayer that 
omitted the Lord's Prayer and three references to Jesus that had appeared in the 
previous one. Jewish MPs welcomed the change. 

In June 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that three Jewish teachers who worked 
for a school board outside of Montreal were entitled to have Yom Kippur off with 
pay. The school board had docked their pay when they took the day off to observe 
the holiday. 

The presence of a congregation of messianic Jews located close to a synagogue 
in the Montreal suburb of Dollard des Ormeaux led to tensions between the two 
groups. The Jews for Jesus group used a church made available to them by the 
Salvation Army. Rabbi Mordecai Zeitz of Congregation Beth Tikvah contended 
that the group had been targeting local Jews for conversion, that it "preys on Jews 
and its raison d'etre is to convert Jews." CJC tried to persuade the Salvation Army 
to oust the congregation, but without success. Conflict erupted in December 1994 
when the messianic Kehilat She'ar Yashuv put out a sign with Jewish symbols next 
to its Christmas nativity scene. Angry Beth Tikvah members interrupted their 
Shabbat Hanukkah service, trespassed on the church property, tore down the sign, 
and trampled it. Rabbi Zeitz claimed that his worshipers were provoked by the 
posting of the sign, which was a "flagrant violation" of a gentleman's agreement 
reached the previous summer. 


Montreal's YM-YWHA won a reprieve from a $10-million property tax bill when 
the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in March 1995 that it deserved to 
be tax-exempt. Three different municipalities in which the Y had property had taken 
the view that it was not entitled to such status and had assessed taxes since 1983. 
The bill had threatened to bankrupt the Y. The issue was whether the Y was truly 
a pubHc institution. After the Quebec Municipal Commission ruled in 1984 that it 
was not, because admission was only available through annual membership, the Y 
began to offer day passes. 


The issue ofagunot, women who cannot remarry under Jewish law because their 
husbands refuse to authorize a Jewish divorce, a get, achieved increasing promi- 
nence. The Canadian Coalition of Jewish Women for the Get held vigils in seven 
cities in February 1 994 in order to publicize their case and encourage synagogues 
to adopt policies that would impose penalties on recalcitrant husbands. At the 
March 1995 vigil in Toronto, Rabbi Mark Dratch equated those who refused to 
grant a get to rapists or abusers. He contended that such behavior was "an abuse 
of Torah and tradition." In 1994 CJC adopted a series of resolutions to facilitate 
solving the problem of the agunot. For example, it expressed its opposition to 
leadership roles or honors for recalcitrant husbands. 

In a bizarre twist to the agunah issue, the father of an 1 1 -year-old Montreal girl 
arranged her betrothal — a tactic that is permitted by Halakhah (Jewish law) but 
has been in disuse for centuries — in order to pressure his wife with respect to their 
divorce. Since a betrothed girl would not be permitted to marry without a get of 
her own, this created a grave halakhic problem. A great Israeli sage, the late Rabbi 
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ruled that the betrothal was invalid for technical rea- 
sons, thereby resolving the immediate issue. 

Conservative Judaism in Canada continued to be troubled by the view of many 
of its rabbis that the movement in the United States was liberalizing in a manner 
that compromised fundamental Jewish values. The Rabbinical Assembly's drafi 
report on human sexuality, circulated in May 1994, created controversy because it 
countenanced sexual relationships outside of marriage under certain circumstances. 
The question of holiness in nonmarital relationships was hotly debated among 
Toronto-area Conservative rabbis, many of whom were also troubled by the report's 
ambivalent stand on homosexuality. 

When the final version of the document was issued in 1995, Rabbi Wayne Allen 
criticized it for legitimizing social practices that do not necessarily conform to 
religious principles. "This seems to be a surrender to the sexual laxity of our society 
rather than an attempt to restate the ideals," he said. Rabbi Henry Balser and Rabbi 
Allen suggested that it might not have been wise to take a public stance on the issue 
of sex outside of marriage. On the other hand. Rabbi Kenneth Katz praised the 
report for stimulating study and inquiry. 

CANADA / 207 

Another matter that accentuated differences between Conservative Jews in Can- 
ada and the United States was the refusal of Camp Ramah in Canada to distribute 
the Summer 1994 issue of Ramah — the Magazine, which is published in New York, 
because of an article about former female campers who have become rabbis and 
cantors. Rabbi Mitch Cohen, the camp director, stressed that Conservatives in 
Canada did not accept many of the egalitarian changes that now characterized the 
Conservative movement in the United States. 

The Montreal suburb of Laval, which had been declining in Jewish population 
for about 20 years, experienced growth through francophone Sephardic influx. 
Congregation Or Sepharade de Laval appointed the Moroccan-born Rabbi Moshe 
Nahon as its spiritual leader soon after his graduation from Yeshiva University. 
Another congregation in the area, le Centre Sepharade de Torah de Laval, led by 
Rabbi David Banon, founded in 1993, was planning to build a synagogue. 

In an unusual experiment. Temple Shalom and the Westminster United Church 
of Kitchener, Ontario, agreed to build and share a new facility in nearby Waterloo. 
The building will house both a sanctuary and a community center. 

A relatively new congregation in Vancouver, Shaarey Tefilah, affiliated with the 
Union for Traditional Judaism and engaged Rabbi Mordechai Scher. It was the first 
UTJ-affiliated synagogue in the area. Orthodox rabbis from Halifax, Fredericton, 
and Moncton formed Atlantic Canada's first Beth Din for the purpose of arbitra- 
tions and kashrut supervision. 

Canadian Reform Jews debated Rabbi Alexander Schindler's call for more ag- 
gressive conversion efforts and more involvement of non-Jews married to Jewish 
members in synagogue activities. The Reform movement in Canada seemed more 
skeptical of the UAHC president's views than its U.S. counterpart. For example. 
Rabbi Michael Stroh, a leading Reform rabbi in Toronto, emphasized the bounda- 
ries imposed by tradition between Jews and non-Jews. Rabbi Daniel Gottlieb, 
executive director of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, expressed similar 
views. Several other Toronto-area rabbis stressed the differences between Reform 
practices in Canada and the United States, with the Canadians more to the right 
of the movement. 

Israel's Ashkenazic chief rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, visited Vancouver in August 
1994 on his first trip to Canada. He spent a weekend at Congregation Schara 
Tzedeck and also spoke at Chabad House. 


Musica Beth Tikvah presented a concert by Trio Lyra in May 1994 in Toronto 
featuring the world premiere of Touchpoints for Flute, Viola and Harp by Harry 
Freedman. Other works performed were by Ben Steinberg, Srul Irving Glick, and 
Milton Barnes, all local composers. Ben Steinberg's new composition. In Memoriam 
Prima Levi, had its premiere at Toronto's Temple Sinai in January 1995 as part of 
a Holocaust and Remembrance Concert. A concert by female cantors at Holy 


Blossom Temple in Toronto in April 1995 featured Roslyn Barak and Faith Gurney, 
In Montreal, the Canadian Society for Jewish Music presented a series of events in 
March 1994, including a concert of great Jewish works and a scholarly symposium 
on aspects of Jewish music. 

The Leah Posluns Theater in Toronto was closed and its season canceled in 
September 1 994 because the Jewish Community Center, of which it was a part, was 
on the verge of bankruptcy. Also closed were the Institute for Jewish Learning, the 
Leah Posluns Theater drama school, and dance and music programs. 

Barbara Lebow's A Shayna Maidel had its Canadian premiere at the North York 
Performing Arts Center in April 1994. Al Waxman directed. The Friends of Yiddish 
at Harbord Collegiate performed Der Yiddisher Mikado in March to raise funds for 
Yiddish studies at the University of Toronto. Jason Sherman's one-act ^XzyReadini 
Hebron premiered at Toronto's Theater Center East in February 1995. Gordinin 
America, a new play by Beth Kaplan, based on the life of Yiddish playwright Jacob 
Gordin, who died in 1909, was presented at the Bloor JCC in Toronto in April 1995. 
It won the 1994 Canadian Jewish Play writing Contest. 

Toronto's Jewish Film Festival was held in April and May 1994 at the Bloor 
Cinema. Over 30 features and shorts from 1 1 countries were screened, most of them 
recent films. The May 1995 Festival, also at the Bloor Cinema, presented 23 films 
from nine countries. Harry Rasky's documentary film Prophecy, about the role of 
prophecy in major religions, had its Canadian premiere in December 1994 in 

Artists, art historians, curators, and other specialists participated in a two-day 
symposium on "Visual Art and Jewish Identity: A Contemporary Experience" at 
Montreal's Saidye Bronfman Center in March 1994. One of the discussions con- 
cerned the large stylized sculpture of a bull's head, Sacrifice, by Israeli artist Han 
Averbuch, which stands at the entrance to the SBC. It had been a source of 
controversy during its six years on the site because some people saw it as sacrilegious 
or even idolatrous. Several discussants gave their own interpretations of the meaning 
of the sculpture. Another presentation was an analysis of the work of Bamett 
Newman by Matthew Baigell, as an attempt to determine just what makes art 
"Jewish." Other sessions dealt with "Time and Memory; On the Influence of Jewish 
Memory on Art" and "Anti-Semitism, Persecution and Art: A Complex Relation- 

Toronto's Jewish Book Awards were presented in June 1994 to Esther Delide, 
Rabbi Chaim Nussbaum (posthumously), Gerald Tulchinsky, Ariella Samson, 
Abraham Boyarsky, Szloma Renglich (posthumously), and Ivan Kalmar, 

Tobi Asmoucha's photographic exhibit "Home and Homeland: Jewish Images 
from Toronto to Israel" was shown in September at the Beach Hebrew Institute in 

Garth Drabinsky's Live Entertainment company was building a $24-million thea- 
ter in Vancouver with seating for 1,800. The architect was Moshe Safdie. 

The second International Conference of Yiddish Clubs met in Toronto in October 

CANADA / 209 

1994. Ashkenaz, a festival of new Yiddish culture, was held at Toronto's Harbour- 
front Center in July 1995. It included presentations of music, theater, dance, story- 
telling, and film. 


Mordecai Richler contrasts his childhood memories of Zionist activities and his 
Montreal family with his observations during a 1992 visit to Israel in This Year in 
Jerusalem. He is outspoken about Jews, Palestinians, and Israelis as he depicts a 
range of colorful characters, many from his own youth. Canadian reporter Bronwin 
Drainie spent several years in Jerusalem on assignment and produced My Jerusalem: 
Secular Adventures in the Holy City. Neil Caplan published another volume of 
diplomatic history, The Lausanne Conference, 1949: A Case Study in Middle East 
Peacemaking, in which he chronicles an early attempt to bring the enemies together 
and points out the opportunities that were missed. In Theodor Herzl: From Assimila- 
tion to Zionism, a provocative psychobiography, Jacques Kornberg argues that it 
was not the Dreyfus affair that made Herzl a committed Zionist, but mainly his 
long-term effort to work out the nature of his Jewish identity. 

Among new works relating to World War II and the Holocaust were Czestochov: 
Our Legacy, a remembrance of Hfe in the PoHsh city during the Nazi period by 
survivors and their offspring, edited by Harry Klein; Invasions Without Tears, in 
which former Montreal federation president Monty Berger recounts his wartime 
experiences with the Royal Canadian Air Force, including the liberation of Bergen- 
Belsen; and Tecia Werbowski and Irene Tomaszewski's Zegota: The Rescue of Jews 
in Wartime Poland. Zegota was a Polish resistance organization that saved Jews 
from the Germans. The authors point out that at least 3,000 Poles were executed 
for helping Jews, and thousands more were imprisoned and tortured. 

In the area of Judaica, new works included Moses Cordovero's Introduction to 
Kabbalah: An Annotated Translation of His Or Ne'erav by Ira Robinson; On Being 
a Jew: A Reform Perspective, a collection of essays by Rabbi Dow Marmur; Volumes 
1 and 2 of the English-Hebrew Dictionary by David Mendel Harduf and Eleanor 
Harduf; The Mystical Study of Ruth, edited by Lawrence Englander and Herbert 
W. Basser; Shoshana Zolty's fVomen and the Study of Torah in Jewish Law and 
History; Judaism, From the Religious to the Secular by Abe Arnold; and To Comfort 
the Bereaved: A Guide for Mourners and Those Who Visit Them by Aaron Levine. 

A number of new works related to Canadian Jewry and individual Jews, among 
them Renewing Our Days: Montreal Jews in the 20th Century, a scholarly account 
of the development of the Montreal Jewish community, edited by Ira Robinson and 
Mervin Butovsky; Ruth Frager's Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity and Gender in 
the Jewish Labor Movement in Toronto; Garth Drabinsky: Closer to the Sun, an 
autobiography with Marq de Villiers; Walter Stewart's tale of the Reichmann 
family, Too Big to Fail, Olympia and York: The Story Behind the Headlines; Goldie 
Grafstein's autobiography. Just About Me; Breaking New Ground: The Struggle for 


a Jewish Chaplaincy in Canada by Rabbi Gershon Levi; Sanctuary Denied, Gerhard 
Bassler's book on Newfoundland's immigration policy; and Heritage of a Patriarch: 
A Fresh Look at Nine of Canada 's Earliest Jewish Families by Anne Joseph. 

Two other noteworthy new books were Approaches to Anti-Semitism: Context and 
Curriculum , edited by Michael Brown; and Holocaust Denial: Bigotry in the Guise 
of Scholarship by Sol Littman. 

In the area of belles lettres, there were two new studies of A.M. Klein: A.M. Klein: 
La Reconciliation des Races et des Religions by Naim Kattan, and A.M. Klein: The 
Story of the Poet by Zailig Pollock. Two recently published novels were A Gift of 
Rags by Abraham Boyarsky and Lovers: A Midrash by Edeet Ravel. Found Trea- 
sures, edited by Frieda Forman, Ethel Raicus, Sarah Silberstein Swartz, and Margie 
Wolfe, is a collection of Yiddish stories, while Gifts of Our Fathers: Heartfelt 
Remembrances of Fathers and Grandfathers, edited by Thomas Vemy, is a collec- 
tion of short stories and poetry. Judah Denburg's Old Roots New Trees is a collection 
of his poetry on biblical and historical themes. The Old Brown Suitcase by Lillian 
Boraks-Nemetz won the B.C. Book Prize for the best children's book. 

Two new journals were launched in 1994-95. Canadian Jewish Studies, edited 
by Richard Menkis, is an interdisciplinary journal that will focus on the Canadian 
Jewish experience in its totality. The other is Jewish Women 's Forum , edited by 
Dorothy Lichtblau. 


Among the recipients of the Order of Canada in 1994 and the first half of 1995 
were Irving Abella, Joe Segal, Judith Hammerling Gold, Saul Chemiak, Edith Delia 
Pergola, Arnold Steinberg, Arthur Fouks, Edith Lando, Paul Brodie, Srul Irving 
Glick, Arthur Gelber, Joseph Rotman, Alan Gold, Harold Greenberg, Albert 
Cohen, Sorel Etrog, David Lepofsky, Joe Schlesinger, Edith Strauss, Lyonel Israels, 
Leila Getz, Peter Oberlander, Israel Asper, Garth Drabinsky, Murray Koffler, 
Sheila Kussner, Ronald Melzack, Ofra Harnoy, Cyril Kay, and David Mirvish. 

John Laskin was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Ontario while Henry 
Steinberg joined the Quebec Court of Appeal. Sylviane Borenstein became the first 
Jewish woman judge in Quebec when she was appointed to Quebec Superior Court. 

Alan Rose, Ian Kagedan, Melissa Singer, Patricia Rucker, Mindy Skapinker, 
Max Wolpert, and Max Schecter were all appointed to the Immigration and Refugee 
Board. Michael Goldbloom became publisher of the Montreal Gazette, Jacques 
Bensimon the managing director of TV Ontario's French network, Frederick Lowy 
the rector of Concordia University, Ruth Goldbloom the chancellor of the Techni- 
cal University of Nova Scotia, Sanda Rodgers the dean of law at the University of 
Western Ontario, and Louis Lenkowski was appointed vice-chairman of the Ontario 
Human Rights Commission. In politics, Jacquelin Holzman was reelected mayor of 
Ottawa, while Bernard Lang won his sixth mayoralty term in Cote Saint-Luc. 

Martin Friedland won the 1994 Canada Council Molson Prize in the Social 

CANADA / 211 

Sciences and the Humanities. Abe Arnold received the Manitoba Human Rights 
Achievement Award. Mark Wainberg won the Canadian Foundation for AIDS 
Research Industry Research Award. Phyllis Lambert was awarded the Prix Gerard- 
Morisset, while Ronald Melzack won the Prix Marie- Victorin and Henry Saxe 
received the Prix Paul-Emile Borduas. All three awards are part of the Prix du 
Quebec competition. Irving Ungerman was elected to the International Jewish 
Sports Hall of Fame. 

Within the community, the following assumed leadership positions: Sandra 
Brown, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto; Renee Bellas, chair- 
woman of the national executive of Canadian Jewish Congress; Donald Aronovitch, 
president of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council; Jack Chisvin, president of 
Canadian Technion Society; Sheila Engel and George Wasserstein, members of the 
executive committee of the Council of Jewish Federations; Edna Edelberg and 
Phyllis Angel Greenberg, members of the board of directors of the Federation of 
Reconstructionist Congregations; Harry Bick, Ted Greenfield, Phil Leon, and 
Moishe Smith, officers and board members of B'nai B'rith International; Stephen 
Victor, national chairman of the Canada-Israel Committee; and Rabbi Wayne 
Allen, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis. Among those assuming profes- 
sional appointments were Gerry Weiner, national executive director of the Canadian 
Society for the Weizmann Institute of Science; Jack Jedwab, executive director of 
CJC, Quebec Region; Robert Libman, BBC Quebec director; and Mordechai Ben- 
Dat, editor of the Canadian Jewish News. Among those leaving community posts 
were Patricia Rucker, editor of the Canadian Jewish News, and Ian Kagedan, 
director of government relations for BBC. 

Samuel Bronfman Medals for distinguished service were presented by CJC to 
Alan Rose and David Satok. Judy Feld Carr won the Saul Hayes Human Rights 
Award and Donald Carr received the Sam Filer Distinguished Service Award. 

Elaine Zeitz married Jonathan Pollard at his prison in North Carolina in May 

Among leading members of the community who died during 1994 were Sammy 
Taft, hatter to the rich and famous, in January, aged 80; pioneering labor leader 
Harry Simon, in January, aged 84; Rabbi Norman Frimer, scholar and former Hillel 
director, in January, aged 77; microbiologist and cancer researcher Prof Hannah 
Farkas-Hinsley, in February, aged 76; longtime York alderman Ben Nobleman, in 
February, aged 69; Dr. Martin Breitman, geneticist and cancer researcher, in Febru- 
ary, aged 41; Matt Ages, businessman, in February, aged 74; world-renowned Torah 
scholar Rabbi Abraham Price, in March, aged 94; businessman and philanthropist 
Sam Rotman, in March, aged 84; Michael Solomon, author, journalist, and editor, 
in March, aged 84; former Toronto Symphony concertmaster Hyman Goodman, in 
March, aged 81; Goodwin "Goody" Rosen, former Brooklyn Dodger, in April, aged 
81; high-school teacher and Holocaust specialist Susan Soberman, in April, aged 48; 
Ben Himel, businessman and passionate supporter of Yiddish education, in April, 
aged 90; Mayer Lewkowicz, Montreal's bagel king, in April, aged 65; noted restau- 


rateur Israel (Izzy) Shopsowitz, in May, aged 71; Rabbi Chaim Nussbaum, educa- 
tor, author, and Talmud scholar, in June, aged 84; businessman and Winnipeg 
community leader Saul Simpkin, in June, aged 78; David Reichmann, executive in 
the Reichmann organization, in August, aged 34; businessman and philanthropist 
Arthur Pascal, in August, aged 86; Wilferd Gordon, rabbi, lawyer, and educational 
leader, in August, aged 85; Dr. Irvine Israel Glass, physicist who worked on space- 
craft reentry problems, in October, aged 76; businessman and philanthropist Israel 
Koschitzky, in November, aged 89; Carl Cole, founder of one of Canada's largest 
bookstore chains, in December, aged 82; Elias Silverman, founder of a Toronto 
kosher bakery, in December, aged 78; and Sephardi community leader Salomon 
Benbaruk, in December, aged 74. 

Those who died in 1995 included Henry Steinberg, justice of the Quebec Court 
of Appeal, in January, aged 58; Sydney Maislin, trucking executive and community 
leader, in February, aged 72; senior-citizen advocate Sara Wayman, in March, aged 
84; photographer Allan Anshan, in April, aged 45; Louis Lenkinski, union leader 
and CJC leader, in June, aged 74; journaHst and playwright Ted Allan, in June, aged 
79; Saidye Rosner Bronfman, philanthropist, patron of the arts, and matriarch of 
the community's premier family, in July, aged 98; and Alan Rose, recently retired 
executive vice-president of Canadian Jewish Congress, in July, aged 74. 

Harold M. Waller 

Latin America 


National Affairs 

J. HE PERIOD 1994 AND EARLY 1995 in many ways marked a turning 
point in the history of contemporary Mexico and in the development of its Jewish 
community. Dramatic changes occurred in the country's economic, political, and 
sociocultural structures, impelled by a newly activist and sophisticated populace 
pushing for reform and greater democratization. At the same time, elements critical 
of the regime and the slow pace of reform were the source of violence and turmoil. 
Even as the government of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari was about 
to reap the major gains of the radical reforms it had implemented — most signifi- 
cantly the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, 
the United States, and Canada — on the very day that the treaty went into effect, 
January 1, 1994, Mexican society was shaken by news of guerrilla warfare in the 
southeastern state of Chiapas. 

Major gaps in wealth distribution, an unjust division of land, and the continuing 
oppression of the mainly Indian population by local authoritarian regimes were 
some of the causes behind the uprising, but they struck a chord nationally. The 
uprising exposed the deep socioeconomic and ethnic rifts in Mexican society, which 
only periodically resulted in open conflict and urgent calls for greater democratiza- 
tion. Mexican society embraced the previously unknown National Liberation Zapa- 
tista Army (EZLN) with ambivalence, the most conservative elements urging the 
government to act forcefully against the rebels, the intellectual and political leaders 
of progressive circles welcoming the Zapatista army's activities as a spur to the 
development of a more open and pluralistic system. 

Although the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) — which had gov- 
erned Mexico for over 60 years in an essentially one-party system — had since the 
late 1980s seen the emergence of a reform element committed to implementing 
serious structural change, the minor uprising in Chiapas showed that the system was 
unable to keep popular opposition movements in check. At the same time, the 
assassination in March 1994 of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI's presidential candi- 



date, while campaigning in northern Mexico, was generally acknowledged to be 
linked to the conflicts within the PRI between reformers and "dinosaurs," or 
conservatives, reflecting the deep spHt in the party. In fact, at the beginning of I995 
suspects were charged in the case who had close links to the antireform faction. 

Federal elections for president and Congress on August 21, 1994 proved to be a 
htmus test of the system's willingness and abiUty to implement democracy in the 
country. Fear of what change could imply was apparently behind the almost 50- 
percent figure that put Ernesto Zedillo of the PRI in power, while the candidate of 
the moderate rightist National Action Party (PAN) came in second, and combative 
"leftist" Cuauhtemoc Cardenas third. The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, 
which had been almost exclusively under the PRI's control, now opened their doors 
to a significant number of opposition representatives (more than 40 percent), forcing 
the government to build alliances in order to implement its program. 

Mexican society was shocked once again, in September, by the murder of Jose 
Francisco Ruiz Massieu, general secretary of the PRI and leader of the party's 
majority faction in the Chamber of Deputies, which was to be sworn in in Novem- 
ber. This time the investigation pointed clearly to an open conspiracy. Ruiz Massieu 
was a prominent ideologue for reform and a key liaison with the opposition. On the 
last day of February 1995, Raul Salinas, brother of Mexico's former president Carlos 
Salinas de Gortari, was arrested on charges of plotting the murder. 

Upon taking office in December 1994, President Zedillo stated his willingness to 
promote an ongoing dialogue with the opposition and took important steps to seek 
a peaceful solution in Chiapas. However, in a reprise of events at the beginning of 
the year, the end of 1994 was characterized by turmoil. With speculative foreign 
investment and unrestricted imports flooding the market, Mexico's commercial 
balance showed a distressing deficit. The peso had been subsidized artificially for too 
long, and a major devaluation, resulting in a volatile currency and a sharp rise in 
prices, shocked rich and poor alike. The bottom line was a loss of confidence in 
government institutions and the prospect of an acute financial and political crisis. 

The U.S. government put together a $20-billion loan as part of an international 
bailout package of $52 billion, but the tough conditions imposed by the Interna- 
tional Monetary Fund to insure repayment halted economic growth and froze 
government spending. The administration concentrated its efforts on stabilizing the 
peso, putting a brake on inflation, which was expected to rise beyond 40 percent, 
and attracting foreign investment through high yields. These severe measures, which 
included hikes in the prices of gas and public utilities and higher taxes, harmed 
President Zedillo's standing, especially as he was unable to rally the public behind 
his efforts to restore the country's finances. 

In the political arena, dialogue was reestablished in Chiapas. However, opposition 
forces demonstrated continually against the terms of international loans, the han- 
dling of the Chiapas conflict, and the lack of accountability of the previous adminis- 
tration, which they viewed as having betrayed — through mismanagement and cor- 
ruption — the great expectations most Mexicans had for poHtical stability and 

MEXICO / 215 

economic development. Hence, the national mood in mid-1995 was not at all opti- 

Israel and the Middle East 

In December 1991, Mexico had been one of 85 countries cosponsoring the initia- 
tive to revoke the United Nations "Zionism is racism" resolution. This act signaled 
a growing disposition on the part of the Mexican government to reconcile its 
bilateral and multilateral relations with Israel. For the last four decades, close 
economic and cultural hnks were promoted at the federal level and by local groups, 
such as many associations of friends of Israeli universities and the Israel-Mexico 
Cultural Institute. These ties, which had been tested during the 1973 embargo, when 
Mexico sold oil to Israel despite Arab threats, contrasted sharply with Mexico's 
consistent anti-Israel voting pattern in international forums, especially during the 
1970s, when Third World and nonaligned anti-Zionist rhetoric pervaded the UN 
and associated agencies. Mexico's policy, according to both official and nonofficial 
sources, was intended as a statement of opposition to the United States and had 
nothing to do with an anti-Israel bias. However, it was a continuing source of 
contention with the Israeli government and the Mexican Jewish community. Al- 
though Mexico did officially denounce the bombing of the Jewish community build- 
ing in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, and the terrorist attacks against Jewish 
institutions in London in July and against civihans in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street 
in October, its continuing support for the self-determination of the Palestinian 
people kept the government from openly condemning anti-Semitism, Palestinian 
extremism, and Islamic fundamentalism. 

Another irritant, though on a bilateral scale, was Israel's trade deficit with Mexico 
and the fact that until very recently no serious effort was put forth to close the gap. 
In 1994, however, Israel increased and diversified its exports to Mexico in the area 
of communications and agricultural technology. 

Despite the problems in the diplomatic and economic spheres, Israeli culture was 
much in evidence in Mexico — both within the context of the Jewish community and 
outside it. (See "Israel-Related Activities," below.) The Israel-Mexico Cultural 
Institute, working very closely with the Israeli embassy, presented at its downtown 
Mexico City premises an array of concerts, art and photo exhibits, lectures, and 
Hebrew classes, all aimed at acquainting the Mexican public with different aspects 
of Israeli life. 

At the beginning of 1994 and again in 1995, the Mexican Association of Friends 
of the Hebrew University presented programs titled "Three Women, Three Expres- 
sions," with lecturers from the university speaking on a wide range of subjects in 
academic and community forums. 

In February 1995, in connection with the 35th anniversary of the Israel Museum, 
the exhibit "Treasures of the Holy Land" — the largest collection of antiquities to 
travel outside of Israel to date — was shown in one of Mexico City's most prestigious 


museums, the Cultural Center of Contemporary Art. Teddy Koliek, the former 
mayor of Jerusalem and acting honorary chairman of the Association of Friends of 
the Israel Museum, attended the exhibition opening. In conjunction with the dis- 
play, several conferences on Mexican and Israeli culture were organized by local 
archaeology museums. 

Several Israeli public figures visited Mexico during 1994. On May 26 and 27, 
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met in Mexico City with President Salinas, Finance 
Minister Pedro Aspe, and his counterpart, Manuel Tello. He also delivered a talk 
at the Jewish Sport Center and had dinner with some of Mexico's leading intellectu- 

Israel's Ashkenazic chief rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, met with President Salinas at the 
end of June 1994 at the president's official residence in Los Pinos. During the first 
week of November, Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin took part in the Confer- 
ence of Latin American Jewish Communities, organized by the World Jewish Con- 
gress and the Jewish community of Mexico. His talk emphasized the need for a 
change in the dynamics of Israel-Diaspora relations, with an emphasis on reciproc- 
ity and acknowledgment that the ties could not be exclusively financial. In this 
session, Yehiel Leket, chairman of the Jewish Agency, presented a different view, 
based on his institution's traditional position. 

Anti-Semitism and Extremism 

Attitudes toward Jews in Mexican society stem from a variety of sources and are 
often contradictory. A legacy of intolerance dating back to the 16th-century Inquisi- 
tion contrasts sharply with the warm welcome bestowed at the beginning of this 
century upon new immigrants, who found in Mexico a hospitable promised land, 

In modern Mexican history, except for the 1930s, anti-Semitism has never been 
sponsored or promoted by the government, nor has it been central to the agendas 
of political parties or organized movements. Nevertheless, a certain level of anti- 
Semitism persists in society at large. The extreme right, for example, has formed 
clandestine cells, some of which — based mainly in the city of Guadalajara — express 
their anti-Jewish messages through publications available by subscription, though 
these have limited circulation. One such is Salvador Abascal's La Hoja de Combaie 
(Combat Newsletter). This newsletter publicized a myriad of books by former 
journalist Salvador Borrego, who is undoubtedly the most prolific anti-Semitic 
author in Spanish, his books being distributed in Latin America and the southern 
United States. 

Mexico is among the most active publishers and distributors of anti-Semitic 
literature on the American continent. Classic anti-Jewish works such as Henry 
Ford's The International Jew and the Protocols of the Elders ofZion are part of an 
extensive collection that is published locally and circulated in Mexico and abroad. 
With the strengthening of racism and neo-Nazism worldwide, the extreme right in 
Mexico has found fertile ground for promoting its pernicious messages. References 

MEXICO / 217 

to an international Jewish conspiracy as well as the deicide accusation even appear 
from time to time in respected media. 

Although Holocaust revisionist movements have not developed in Mexico, the 
Institute for Historical Review, a revisionist group based in California, has tried to 
get a foothold in the country through the distribution of propaganda in strategic 
places and the introduction of works by British revisionist David Irving. Lyndon 
LaRouche's political cult has been active as well through the Movement for 
Iberoamerican Solidarity, which publishes a newspaper that continually emphasizes 
a "British Zionist conspiracy." Popular movements containing remnants of the 
extreme left have at times expressed anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist messages. These de- 
rive from traditional Marxist ideology or from an anti-imperialist posture. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, a major anti-Israel propaganda effort was launched 
by the local Arab camp — Arab embassies and Arab communities, the Arab League, 
the PLO office, and PLO-supported groups — which at times included anti-Semitic 
references. With Mexico now seeking to change its international profile and aban- 
doning Third World rhetoric, and with the developments in the Middle East peace 
process, this activity was toned down. 

In the last few years, a potential center of Muslim fundamentalist activity was 
detected in the northern city of Torreon, which boasts the only Shi'ite mosque in 
the country. Torreon is the headquarters of propagandist Augusto Hugo Pena, who 
sent a steady stream of virulent anti-Semitic letters to the daily Excelsior, denounc- 
ing Israel as a terrorist state and questioning Mexican Jewry's loyalty to the country. 

Viewed against this general background, and in the turmoil that prevailed in 1994 
and the first half of 1995, anti-Semitism in Mexico actually remained at a signifi- 
cantly low level. Several factors may account for this: (1) Mexican society's preoccu- 
pation with the presidential succession and the political crises occurring throughout 
the year; (2) developments in the Middle East peace process, which neutralized one 
of the main sources of anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic propaganda; (3) Mexican Jewry's 
enhanced status in the new climate of tolerance of diversity and pluralism (see 
below); (4) public-relations activity conducted by Tribuna Israelita, the commu- 
nity's official human-relations and antidefamation agency, aimed at sensitizing polit- 
ical, religious, media, and intellectual circles to the legitimate concerns of Mexican 
Jewry and building alliances based on national issues. 

On the positive side, the media, traditionally open to presenting anti-Semitic 
expressions and views, were almost completely free of this type of material during 
this period. Analysts and editorial writers preserved a balanced outlook on develop- 
ments, even at critical moments. Whether it was Hebron, Buenos Aires, or Tel Aviv, 
the vast majority of Mexican commentators remained staunch supporters of the 
peace negotiations and firm critics of terrorism and fundamentalism. Moreover, the 
appearance of anti-Semitic "letters to the editor," previously commonplace, de- 
creased significantly. 

On the negative side of the ledger, the traditional tactic of singling out Jews for 
blame during times of crisis was adopted by advocates of a new ideology that took 


root in Mexico in the early 1990s and became increasingly overt and aggressive. 
Dubbed "Neo-Mexicanism," its adherents promoted an idealized image of Mexico's 
Indian past and scorned Europe's role in forging the national identity. In this 
context Jews were singled out as the culprits, blamed for the acute problems haunt- 
ing Mexico and other Latin American nations. Its most vicious proponent, the 
Mexican Eagles Party (Partido de las Aguilas Mexicanas), which daily covered the 
outer walls of Mexico City's cathedral with anti-Jewish graffiti, claimed that Mexi- 
can Jewry (which ostensibly includes the former and present presidents of Mexico 
as well as many other government officials) controlled the politics and finances of 
the country and should be held accountable for, among other things, the conflict 
in the state of Chiapas and for exploiting the poor. Spokespersons for other right- 
wing radical groups — among them LaRouche's Dennis Small during one of his 
lectures at the beginning of 1994 — also blamed the Jews, especially Sephardic Jews, 
for involvement in the Chiapas uprising (presumably on the assumption that because 
the guerrilla leaders had Spanish names, they must be related to Sephardic Jews!). 

The signs of recession evident even before the December devaluation increased 
social tensions, producing a gloomy outlook for Mexico's future only partially 
mitigated by peaceful elections in August. Throughout the year there was a signifi- 
cant increase in the appearance of swastikas and anti-Jewish graffiti, especially in 
Jewish residential areas; however, this often occurred during election campaigns in 

The further deterioration of the Mexican economy in the first half of 1995 and 
the severe measures imposed on the population by the international bankers pro- 
voked a rash of popular demonstrations in Mexico City's main thoroughfares. Jews 
were one of the targets, based on the alleged link between Jews and the International 
Monetary Fund, which was blamed for Mexico's diminished sovereignty. 

With future perspectives still uncertain, with Mexico immersed in economic 
recession and political and social instability, the Jewish community was closely 
monitoring anti-Semitic indicators. 



According to a sociodemographic study conducted by the Hebrew University of 
Jerusalem and El Colegio de Mexico in 1991, sponsored by the Mexican Association 
of Friends of the Hebrew University, the estimated Jewish community of Mexico 
numbered 40,000. Most of Mexico's Jews lived in the capital and its suburbs in the 
state of Mexico, while the rest (about 2,500) resided in the cities of Guadalajara, 
Monterrey, and Tijuana. 

MEXICO / 219 

Community Relations 

Although Mexican society as a whole was beset by crisis and uncertainty in the 
period under review, Mexican Jewry, somewhat paradoxically, actually felt itself 
strengthened. Its legitimacy within the national context gained in validity, and its 
self-image as an integral and active part of civil society was enhanced. In a meeting 
with delegates to the Conference of Latin American Jewish Communities in Novem- 
ber 1994, outgoing president Salinas asserted that "the Jewish community of Mexico 
is an integral part of our national family. We share a deep respect for differences. 
Jewish presence contributes to diversity which enriches our homeland, enabling all 
of us to push jointly toward national goals." 

Two important developments opened the way for the more visible and dynamic 
participation of Mexican Jewry in the country's public life. One was the growing 
acceptance of pluralism as a social ideal for modern Mexico. Although the legal 
status of Jews in Mexico had been — since the first waves of immigration at the 
beginning of the century — beyond question, their status as a legitimate, integral part 
of Mexican society had never been entirely settled. Now, however, on both a 
collective and an individual basis, Jews faced unique opportunities. There was a 
clear acknowledgment of the important role that the Jewish minority could play in 
contributing to a tolerant environment. At the same time, young Jewish technocrats 
had become increasingly active in public administration up to the ministerial level. 
(See "Personalia," below.) 

A second development was the opening of the poHtical structure to greater 
participation by nongovernmental entities, as political parties and some institutions 
were discredited. This allowed many previously marginal segments of society, like 
the Jews, to have input in the decision-making process, to become actors rather than 
observers. This change had an impact on the agenda of the Jewish community of 
Mexico, which now saw itself as capable of influencing issues pertaining to its 
well-being and survival. As Mexican Jewry's feeling of belonging was strengthened, 
it was able to take a more visible and assertive stance. This was seen in the unprece- 
dented meetings that Jewish leaders held during the first half of 1 994 with most of 
the candidates for the presidency, presenting them with a specific agenda of concerns 
that included both national and Jewish issues. Among the latter were the presence 
of anti-Semitic groups in Mexico and the pressing need for antiracist legislation. 

The significance of these meetings was reflected at a later stage with the publica- 
tion in July 1994, in Mexico's leading newspapers, of an open letter condemning 
anti-Jewish terror and anti-Semitism in Buenos Aires, Panama, and London. Under- 
taken at the initiative of Tribuna Israelita, the letter was signed by more than 1 50 
political, intellectual, and social leaders, including the nine candidates for the presi- 
dency. Because of this broad sponsorship — up to that point in the campaign, this 
was the only document signed jointly by the nine candidates — the letter effectively 
declared a national consensus against anti-Semitism. 

The changing profile of Mexican Jewry was underscored in other encounters 


between Jewish leaders and government officials and influential figures. At the 
beginning of 1995, President Ernesto Zedillo requested a meeting with Jewish 
leaders to exchange views on the country's present and future direction and to 
encourage their support for the national effort to overcome the crisis. Mexico City's 
attorney general, Jose Antonio Gonzalez Fernandez, was invited to a luncheon at 
the headquarters of the Ashkenazi community in February 1995 to discuss govern- 
ment measures to halt and deter the crime wave that had become a major cause of 
social instability. In March 1995, Oscar Espinoza Villareal, Mexico City's mayor, 
urged Jewish representatives to support development programs for this urban center 
of 20 miUion inhabitants, with its dramatic contrasts between haves and have-nots. 

As part of the growing activism of nongovernmental organizations, especially 
those pushing for democratic reform, the Jewish community participated in forums 
with groups and sectors that shared similar concerns. The wide range of Jewish 
women's organizations devoted to social, cultural, and philanthropic work played 
a dynamic role in national as well as community projects. The Mexican Council of 
Jewish Women sent food and clothing to the displaced Indian population of Chiapas 
as well as to that of the state of Chihuahua, hard-hit by drought. Other women's 
organizations, like the Jewish Mexican Volunteers, Wizo, and Na'amat increased 
their work in the spheres of education and health. 

At the beginning of 1995, the Jewish community launched a series of meetings 
with opinion shapers, including religious figures, to discuss issues that affect the 
whole nation but that have a special bearing on minority groups. During the first 
meeting in February, Dr. Nathan Lerner, renowned international jurist and author- 
ity on human rights, exchanged views on the status of minorities with journalists, 
social scientists, and representatives of Baptist and Jesuit groups. One of the topics 
discussed was the harassment of Jesuits for espousing liberation theology as well as 
for their supposed hnks to Bishop Samuel Ruiz, spiritual leader of the Chiapas 
Indians, who was accused of fostering violence in that state. 


During 1993 the "Jewish religion of Mexico," together with up to 2,000 local 
"reUgious associations," was officially recognized by the Mexican government and 
granted legal status. The constitutional amendment making this possible was an 
effort to ease the hostihty to reUgion embodied in the liberal constitution of 1917, 
which made Mexico — officially, at least — a secular state. Under the new law, 
members of the clergy could participate as voters and candidates in the electoral 
process and their associations could own and transfer property. Although public 
education in Mexico was legally "secular," Catholic schools had always been al- 
lowed to include religious instruction; most Jewish schools had courses in Judaic 
studies and tradition and sometimes even reUgion. 

MEXICO / 221 

Jewish-Christian Relations 

Even though there had been contacts between the Catholic Church and Protes- 
tant groups and the Jewish community since the 1960s, conducted primarily by 
B'nai B'rith, Mexican Jewry was trying to find different approaches to interfaith 
dialogue, based more on mutual national concerns than on theological issues. 

Despite three decades of efforts to promote interfaith dialogue in the country, the 
Mexican Catholic Church had never condemned anti-Semitism openly and in gen- 
eral refrained from political pronouncements relating to the Jewish community. 
Some Catholic leaders did, however, agree to sign the open letter condemning 
anti-Semitism and terrorism that was published in leading newspapers after the 
bombing in Buenos Aires. 

In February 1994, Tribuna Israelita sponsored the participation of Dr. Manuel 
Olimon Nolasco, head of the history department of the Pontifical University, in a 
conference in Jerusalem on "Religious Leadership in a Secular Society." Olimon 
was accompanied by Rabbi Marcelo Rittner of Mexico's Bet-El Community. The 
two joined more than a thousand Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders from all 
over the world to deliberate on such topics as genetic engineering, religious educa- 
tion in pluralistic societies, and ethnicity, multiculturalism, and integration. 

In June 1994, a conference on "The Role of the Churches in Today's Mexico" 
was organized by the Interior Ministry and the Center for the Study of Religions. 
It was the first effort to bring together representatives of the country's different 
religions in order to create a common agenda based on tolerance and the acknowl- 
edgment of pluralism. Mauricio Lulka, president of Tribuna Israelita, participated, 
along with more than 50 religious leaders. 

Communal Affairs 

The Jewish Central Committee (Comite Central Israelita de Mexico), the political 
arm and representative body of Mexican Jewry, continued to foster the active 
participation of Jews in national affairs and to promote cordial and open relations 
with the government. Seminars and lectures were organized to increase awareness 
of the changes taking place in the Mexican political system and to examine the role 
that the community could play in the new order. 

As the socioeconomic status of Mexican Jews became increasingly strained by the 
recession, the Central Committee undertook the creation of a credit union with rates 
indexed to each debtor's financial situation. Also, through its International Rela- 
tions Commission, it explored the possibility of working with American Jewry on 
joint projects and participated in conferences organized by the American Jewish 
Committee and the Council of Jewish Federations. 


Following the bombing of the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires in July 
1994, all Latin American Jewish communities experienced a sense of increased 
vulnerability and awareness of the ever-present threat to their physical and emo- 
tional well-being. In this atmosphere, the establishment of effective channels of 
communication between communities for the exchange of experiences, information, 
and strategies assumed greater importance than ever. An expression of this need was 
the Conference of Latin American Jewish Communities that took place in Mexico 
City, November 7-9, 1994, under the auspices of the regional branch of the World 
Jewish Congress and hosted by Mexican Jewry. Over 250 leaders of Jewish commu- 
nities in ten countries exchanged views on the role of Latin American Jewry in the 
future development of the continent and in the strengthening of liberal principles. 
The gathering was also a forum for denouncing anti-Semitism and terrorism. 

Enrique Iglesias, president of the Interamerican Development Bank, and the 
renowned Mexican writer Hector Aguilar Camin took part in a session devoted to 
analyzing the future of the continent. Workshops focused on the multiple faces of 
anti-Semitism, the presence and participation of the Jewish communities within the 
general society, and the Jewish quality of life in the region. The final document 
produced by the meeting reinforced the commitment to Jewish continuity, to 
strengthening the links between Israel and the Diaspora, and to building alliances 
in the fight against intolerance, racism, and anti-Semitism. 

As it had done for almost two decades, Mexican Jewry continued to support the 
Jewish community of Cuba in its efforts to maintain Jewish identity and life on the 
island. In addition to providing ritual objects and educational materials, Mexican 
Jewish community leaders made frequent visits, and Mexican university students 
established ties with Cuban youth who shared common interests, such as Israeli folk 
dance. Mexican rabbis were available to perform essential life-cycle rituals, and, as 
in previous years, the community shipped matzah and pareve foods to Cuba for 
Passover, in quantities greater than required for the festival, because of the chronic 
Cuban food shortage. 


Mexico's ambassador to Israel, Rafael Rodriguez Barrera, met with the Jewish 
Central Committee of Mexico in October 1994 to provide an overview of the present 
state of relations between both countries and to urge them to share in his efforts to 
promote Mexican culture in Israel. 

In the area of science and technology, the Mexican Association of Friends of the 
Weizmann Institute provided scholarships and awards on a yearly basis to outstand- 
ing Mexican high-school students to spend time in Rehovot doing advanced work 
in their particular fields of interest. The organization also coordinated lectures 

MEXICO / 223 

featuring Mexican and Israeli scientists speaking on subjects of current interest. The 
Haifa Technion, for its part, had developed projects in rural areas for utilizing 
Mexico's natural resources to generate energy. 

During the period under review, ORT followed up on its efforts to train 4,000 
low-income Mexicans for technical jobs and to work with government and nongov- 
ernmental agencies to implement the latest technological advancements. It also 
continued to aid local Jewish schools that have ORT workshops where students are 
taught diverse trades and are exposed to the most advanced computer technology. 

As in previous years, more than 200 high-school juniors and seniors from Jewish 
schools, as well as university students, joined thousands of Jewish young people 
from all over the world in the "March of the Living" organized by the Jewish 
Agency-Keren Hayesod in April 1994. The participants traveled to Poland to visit 
centers of Jewish life before the Holocaust and also Treblinka, Majdanek, and 
Auschwitz. From Poland the group traveled to Israel to join in that country's 
Independence Day celebrations. 


Twenty synagogues provide religious services to Mexican Jewry, all but two of 
them — which belong to the Conservative movement — Orthodox. The synagogues 
are also organized along ethnic lines — as is the Central Committee — that is, divi- 
sion into "sectors" {kehillot, in Hebrew) based on the place of origin of the members' 
forebears. There are also more than a dozen yeshivas and kolelim associated with 
various kehillot. Liturgical or ideological disputes are relatively rare, based on a 
consensus that community solidarity is primary. Each "sector" has its own rabbi 
or rabbis, day school, kashrut supervisor, rabbinical court, publications, and ceme- 


One of the outstanding assets of the Mexican community is its network of schools. 
Eight day schools, attended by up to 75 percent of Mexican Jewish children, 
combine the official state school curriculum with Judaic studies. The oldest of these 
schools, the Colegio Israelita de Mexico, also known as the Yiddishe Shul, and part 
of the Ashkenazic sector, turned 70 in 1 994. Its founders were Jewish immigrants 
who sought to maintain Jewish continuity while integrating into the larger society. 
It served as a model for other Jewish educational options seeking to instill in young 
people an awareness of their complementary and complex identities. 

Instruction in the schools belonging to the Ashkenazic sector originally reflected 
the ideologies of their founders, such as Bundism and secular or religious Zionism; 
some remnant of this remains in the teaching of Yiddish or the inclusion of religion 
in the curriculum. The schools belonging to the "Arab" (Syrian) and Sephardic 


sectors emphasize origins over ideology. Since private schools receive no govern- 
ment funding, Jewish schools are financed by their sponsoring communities or by 
student fees and philanthropists. 

A program of Judaic studies was established at the Iberoamericana University in 
Mexico City in 1985, to satisfy a growing interest in Judaism in Mexican society 
at large and to make up for the absence of any courses on the subject on the campus. 
With the financial and academic support of Israeli universities, the program offers 
a degree in Judaic studies, from which three classes of students have now graduated. 


Since the creation 80 years ago of Alianza Monte Sinai (Mount Sinai Alliance), 
the first communal Jewish institution in Mexico, three generations of Mexican-bom 
Jews have built a thriving community, with a myriad of institutions relating to 
almost every aspect of modern Jewish life. This organizational framework has given 
rise to a native culture reflecting the synthesis between the Mexican and Jewish 
identities and has stimulated efl'orts, using a variety of approaches, aimed at examin- 
ing what it means to be a Mexican Jew. During the last decade in particular, serious 
research on the history of Mexican Jewry has intensified, eliciting much interest on 
the part of Jews and non-Jews alike. 

In 1992 the Jewish Central Committee of Mexico and Tribuna Israelita, in con- 
junction with the National Autonomous University of Mexico, published Imageries 
de un Encuentro: La Presencia Judia en Mexico durante la Primera Mitad del Sigh 
XX (Images of an Encounter: The Jewish Presence in Mexico During the First Half 
of the 20th Century). The research team, under the direction of Judit Bokser 
Liwerant, produced a graphic documentary history combining sociohistorical analy- 
sis in an artistic format. In 1993 the book received an award from the prestigious 
Mexican Chamber of Publishers. 

In 1994 the Ashkenazic community published a work on its history and develop- 
ment: Generaciones Judias en Mexico: La Kehila Ashkenazi (1922-1992) (Jewish 
Generations in Mexico: The Ashkenazi Kehila [1922-1992]), coordinated by Alicia 
Gojman de Backal. Similar studies were undertaken by the Maguen David (Aleppo), 
the Monte Sinai (Damascus), and the Sephardic (Balkans) sectors, and by the 
Colegio Israelita de Mexico (Yiddishe Shul in Meksike). 

Jewish life in Mexico was also recorded on film and video. Keren Hayesod 
videotaped highlights of the "March of the Living" experience of Mexican Jewish 
youth. A documentary on the origins and evolution of anti-Semitism in Mexico was 
produced by Tribuna Israelita in 1 994. The same year, Daniel Goldberg's documen- 
tary Un Beso a esta Tierra (A Kiss to This Land) was aired. Part testimony, part 
dramatization, the film chronicles the travails and first impressions of Jewish immi- 
grants arriving in Mexico during the first decades of this century. 

Over time, a number of cultural programs had become fixed traditions in the 
community. The annual Tuvie Maizel Music Festival was named for its founder. 

MEXICO / 225 

Yiddish writer and professor Tuvie Maizel, the creator of the local Holocaust 
Museum, housed in the building of the Ashkenazic community and a landmark for 
those interested in the subject. 

The Fernando Jeno literary awards were presented in 1994 to Eli Schechtman 
(U.S.A.), Boris Blank (Argentina), and Margalith Matitiahu (Israel). For 18 years 
Jewish writers from all over the world have submitted works to this competition for 
appraisal in three categories — Yiddish, Hebrew, and Spanish — the winner in each 
receiving $2,000 (U.S.) dollars. 

More than 1,500 young people representing Jewish schools, youth movements, 
and community institutions competed in the 20th and 21st annual Aviv Dance 
Festivals in April 1994 and 1995. A major community event considered the best of 
its kind in the international Jewish world, the festival is organized by the Jewish 
Sport Center — a social, cultural, and athletic institution whose membership in- 
cludes up to 90 percent of Mexican Jewry — and is attended by some 4,500 people. 
Each festival featured dozens of groups performing dances based on Jewish religious 
and historical themes, including semiprofessional troupes from Canada, the United 
States, Israel, Latin America, and Mexico itself 

Among the prominent personalities who visited from abroad in 1994 and early 
1995 were renowned sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who spoke at the Bet-El 
Community (Conservative) on the subject of "Sexuality in Judaism." Author Chaim 
Potok lectured on "How I Came to Write The Chosen," also at Bet-El Community. 
In addition, literally dozens of lectures, concerts, art exhibits, and workshops were 
held at diverse institutional facilities, reflecting the cultural interests of the different 
segments of Mexican Jewry. 


A variety of periodicals — magazines, newspapers, and newsletters — reflected the 
different political, cultural, and ideological trends in the community. Among these 
v/ere Maguen David, La Voz de la Kehila, Emet, Presencia Judia, WIZO, Desa/io, 
Periodico CDI, and Desde Bet-El. There were also two independent publications 
catering to the general community, Kesher and Foro. 

Recent years saw a spate of publications by well-known first- and second-genera- 
tion Jewish writers about the experience of growing up as Jews in Mexico. Among 
these were Rosa Nissan's short novel Novia que te Vea (Ladino expression, "I hope 
to see you as a bride"), which was turned into a movie by director Guita Schifter; 
Jose Woldenberg's Las Ausencias Presentes (The Present Absences); Sabina Ber- 
man's La Bobe (Grandmother, in Yiddish); Gloria Gervitz's Kadish ; and various 
works of fiction and poetry by Esther Seligson. 



At the beginning of 1995, Alfredo Achar assumed the position of president of the 
Jewish Central Committee of Mexico, while Jorge Salamonovitz became president 
of Tribuna Israelita. They replaced Simon Nissan and Mauricio Lulka, respectively, 
who headed these institutions during the previous four years. 

Several Mexican Jews were named to positions in President Ernesto Zedillo's 
administration: Arturo Warman, secretary of agrarian reform; Santiago Levy, un- 
dersecretary for expenditures; Jaime Zabludovsky, undersecretary for international 
commercial negotiations; Aaron Dichter, undersecretary for communications; 
Jacques Rogozinsky, director of Fonatur, the government office for the promotion 
of tourism. Esther Koleteniuk was elected a representative on Mexico City's Coun- 

Jose Woldenberg was named one of six "citizen advisers" to the Federal Electoral 
Institute, charged with overseeing the integrity of the 1994 federal elections and 
implementing basic electoral reform in Mexico. 



National Affairs 

THE PERIOD 1994 AND THE FIRST half of 1995 saw a continuation of relatively stable 
democratic government under President Carlos Menem. He was reelected with a 
convincing majority in May 1995, his Justicialist Party (PJ) also increasing its 
representation in both houses of Congress. While such triumphs were accomplished 
on the strength of the degree of economic stability achieved since 1991 (notwith- 
standing the economy's poorer performance in 1995 and/or the social costs of the 
economic adjustment measures), they also occurred against a backdrop of rising 
voter apathy. 


The changes in Argentina's political situation, along with the country's interna- 
tional realignment in recent years, have had important beneficial consequences for 
Jews. Additionally, Menem's almost complete abandonment of Peronist nationalist 
baggage has forced those rank-and-filers who lacked an affinity for Jews (or Jewish 
matters) to conceal and/or revise their views, or risk marginalization. 

Economic hardships notwithstanding, certified manifestations of Judeophobia 
have fallen since 1983 (though certainly not disappeared), especially if one interprets 
— as many have done — the March 1992 bombing of the IsraeU embassy and that 
of the Buenos Aires Jewish community building in July 1994 as primarily anti- 
Israel, rather than anti-Jewish, incidents. Nevertheless, for the time being, such a 
fall is far from irreversible. Long-lasting changes in political cultures are not con- 
solidated overnight, and the 19th-century liberal architects of Argentina's immigra- 
tion policy tended to equate newcomers' integration with a measure of uniformity 
on various levels, including the religious one. Moreover, the claimed drop in anti- 
Jewishness is accompanied by relatively high levels of bigotry vis-a-vis migrants 
from neighboring countries, Koreans, and Middle Easterners. 

This said, a 1992 public-opinion survey commissioned by the American Jewish 
Committee (AJC) and Argentine Jewry's political roof organization, the DAIA 
(Delegation of Israelite Associations in Argentina), and conducted several months 
after the Israeli embassy attack, revealed significant pluralist attitudes among inter- 
viewees. For instance, 69 percent of respondents considered it better that Argen- 
tina's inhabitants had diverse origins, customs, and religions, while 46 percent 
declared that Jews had made a positive contribution; 7 percent supported the notion 
that the country would be better off without Jews. While corroboration of such 



results would require successive comparable polls, the outcome of this one can be 
reasonably attributed to changes going back to 1983 and the end of military rule. 

Menem's first term in office (1989-1995) also brought about constitutional re- 
form that had important political repercussions for Jews. As important as was the 
antidiscrimination legislation initiated by President Raul Alfonsin and passed by 
Congress in 1988, with bipartisan support, the constitutional reform of Menem's 
presidency may well be a longer-term legacy for Jews and other non-Catholics. Best 
known for allowing incumbent presidents to seek a second term in office and for 
reducing the presidential term from six to four years, the reform also enfranchised 
non-Catholic aspirants to leadership of the government. The original magna carta 
prescribed that the chief executive and his deputy must be Catholic. (Gen. Roberto 
Levingston, one of Argentina's de facto rulers in the early 1970s, was the grandchild 
of a Prussian Jewish immigrant, but a Catholic.) Such a requirement has now been 
dropped, although government support for the Catholic Church remains in place 
in the new constitution. 

The removal of a formal hurdle for non-Catholic politicians is relevant for the 
relatively large number of Jewish participants in elected and appointed positions 
since 1983 (many of whom openly declare their Jewishness, unlike some of their 
predecessors during this century's earlier Radical (UCR) and Peronist govern- 
ments). However, the opening of the chief executive's office to non-Catholics is not 
likely to find one of them voted into the presidential palace any time soon. In the 
aforementioned 1992 AJC/DAIA-sponsored opinion survey, 45 percent of respon- 
dents indicated they would not support a Muslim presidential candidate, while 41 
and 39 percent, respectively, held similar views in respect of a Jew and a Protestant. 
Using this measuring stick, it is clear that a sizable proportion of the Argentine 
public is not yet ready for a head of state who is formally non-Catholic. 

Even though Menem's Syrian-Muslim ancestry did not bar his way to the top, 
his baptism in 1963 did not prevent a mainstream opposition legislator from refer- 
ring to him as "a Muslim deity," nor a key public-opinion molder and a former 
political friend from portraying him, among other derisive ethnic labels, as a "wall" 
and a "caliph." Because of the local media's historical equation of Arab with Islamic 
(despite the fact that most Middle Eastern immigrants in Latin America were 
Christian), and possibly influenced by other considerations as well, it is not surpris- 
ing that Argentina's Federation of Arab Entities (FEARAB) should have petitioned 
the elected reformers to retain the Catholic imperative for presidential hopefuls in 
July 1994. 

Israel and the Middle East 

With few modifications until the 1990s, Argentina's governments traditionally 
adhered to a foreign policy that sought to avoid the appearance of being aligned with 
one or another party to remote conflicts, including the Arab-Israeli one. Initiated 
by Juan Peron in the 1940s, such a pragmatic approach to relations with Israel and 


the Arab world was generally endorsed by his civilian and military successors, UCR 
politicians, and members of the mass movement Peron had created as well as 
nationalist and liberal army officers. During the second half of the 1970s and early 
1980s, this approach resulted in important Argentine acquisitions of military hard- 
ware from Israel. This was a contentious issue for the Argentine and Israeli relatives 
of the several hundred Jewish desaparecidos , those who disappeared during the 
years when such deals were concluded. (An estimated 450 Jews were reportedly 
secretly helped by Israeli envoys to leave the country in the same period.) The 
Argentine approach also resulted in intense courtship of the Arab states in interna- 
tional forums. Arab support was sought at first to quash resolutions condemning 
the human-rights record of the then military regime (1976-83), with its thousands 
of disappeared, and later for the Argentine case in the Malvinas (Falklands) conflict 
with Britain. 

Only after Menem's 1989 election triumph did efforts to align the country firmly 
with the United States — thereby overcoming the distrust which successive Argen- 
tine administrations had elicited in Washington and among U.S. public-opinion 
molders — have important repercussions for Argentine foreign policy in the Middle 
East. During Menem's first term Argentina left the nonaligned movement, aban- 
doned the German-brokered association with Egypt (and indirectly with Iraq) in the 
Condor missile project, was the sole Latin American state to participate in U.S.-led 
operations in the Persian Gulf, endorsed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and 
scrapped a nuclear servicing contract with Iran. 

Government awareness of Saudi-Iranian competition for the hearts and minds of 
Argentina's Muslims — estimated at between 8,000 and more than 650,000, depend- 
ing on whether one considers projections based on census data, ethnic self-estimates, 
or other sources — and the fact that the sole Buenos Aires mosque was built in the 
1980s with Iran's sponsorship, apparently impelled the government to send a bill 
to Congress granting Saudi Arabia a Buenos Aires site for the erection of a mosque 
and community center. The initiative followed a visit by Menem to the Wahabite 
kingdom in May 1992. However, once approved by the upper house in the first half 
of 1994, it unleashed an adverse campaign by the right-wing Tradicion, Familia y 
Propiedad (TFP) group, which considered the notion of such a Muslim religious and 
educational facility "an insult to the Catholic conscience of the Argentine Nation." 
Although the TFP campaign was launched before the bombing of the Jewish com- 
munity building and speculation about Iranian involvement, it sought to blur the 
distinction between Iran and Saudi Arabia: it suggested that the Quranic school that 
would be part of the project was likely to be staffed by Iranians, thereby turning this 
center "of anti-Christian fanaticism" into "a terrorism school." 

Argentina's earlier concern for equidistance in the Arab-Israeli conflict gave way 
to a definite shift in Israel's favor, whether at the UN or in other multilateral 
organizations. A further symbol of the country's clear alignment with the United 
States, this tilt led to Argentina's intercession, for example, with Damascus on 
behalf of Syrian Jewry, and with Brasilia in support of the repeal of the UN 


resolution equating Zionism with racism (a resolution, inter alia, which Argentina, 
unlike Brazil, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, and Mexico, had failed to support in 1975 
during Peron's third term in office). Moreover, the man who predicted Israel's 
disappearance in a 1963 Arab League periodical, when Nasserism had caught the 
imagination of the politically aware among Argentine Arabs, and who also por- 
trayed the opponents of Arab unity as allies of imperialism and accomplices of 
Zionism, in 1991 became the first Argentine head of state ever to visit Israel. 
Consistent with his political mutation. President Menem eventually also toured the 
conservative Arab states, but the symbolism of Tel Aviv as his first Middle East 
destination was not lost on the Syrians — undoubtedly a possible reason for their 
refusal to welcome a Syrian-descended Argentine head of state until late in 1994, 

The Bombings 

Despite Argentina's attempts to preserve a semblance of evenhandedness — as 
highlighted, for example, by Menem's offer of Buenos Aires as an alternative venue 
for the Madrid Peace Conference and his expensive touring of the Middle East- 
one cannot dismiss the possibility that the changes in Israel's favor may have had 
something to do with the devastating car bomb that demolished the Israeli embassy 
in March 1992 and the more deadly device that reduced to rubble the AMIA 
building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. This building housed the headquarters 
of AMIA, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, the central social welfare and 
cultural body of Buenos Aires Jewry, and the headquarters of DAIA, the Jewish 
political umbrella organization, as well as offices of other organizations, a library, 
and a theater. Whereas Israeli embassies in El Salvador and Guatemala had been 
previously targeted by local opponents of Israeli foreign policy in Central America, 
and two unaffiliated Palestinians attacked the embassy in Paraguay in 1970, none 
of these incidents was as violent as the bombings of the diplomatic representation 
and Buenos Aires Jewish community building. Indeed, while an embassy clerk was 
killed in Asuncion, the toll of the first Buenos Aires blast included up to 30 deaths 
and 250 injured, with up to 86 killed in the second outrage and more than 200 
injured. Some government and other analysts hastily — though not altogether un- 
realistically — connected such terrorist operations with the displeasure caused in 
Iranian circles, as well as among Tehran-supported Shiites in Lebanon, by the 
Middle Eastern ramifications of Argentina's international realignment. This is con- 
sistent with the fact that several Middle Eastern parties had recourse to powerful 
car bombs, and more specifically with a claim on Lebanese TV that an otherwise 
unknown Muslim group, Ansarallah, was responsible for one of the attacks. 

In practice, though, it has been impossible to turn into convincing and/or convict- 
ing evidence the presumed responsibility of Islamic militants — who may have sub- 
contracted parts of, if not the whole of, these operations to local anti-Jewish ele- 
ments, or to others. Thus far, the sole detainee is the man who delivered the van 
used in the second attack, despite investigating magistrate Juan Galeano's by now 


exclusive devotion to the case and his SO-man team. In turn, the inability to resolve 
both cases has fueled intense speculation about the bombers, their motives, and their 
connections with well-placed Argentines, past and present, especially as Argentina's 
State Intelligence Agency (SIDE), as well as the federal and Buenos Aires province 
police forces, are not particularly known for their Judeophilia. However, the patent 
lack of progress suggests that Argentina's investigative failures are equivalent to 
those of countries far more experienced than Argentina with Middle East-related 
terrorism, which have quite a few unsolved cases on their books. Unwilling to accept 
this reality, a number of people have tended to equate the obvious and imagined 
imperfections of the probes with a sheer political unwillingness on Argentina's part 
to identify the culprits, even suggesting that the cases are hard to solve given the 
strength of Arab influence in Argentina today. However, the sober conclusion of the 
Antisemitism World Report 1995 (Institute of Jewish Affairs and American Jewish 
Committee) in respect of the second attack may well be relevant for both: "In the 
absence of solid evidence to substantiate any hypothesis, speculation on the motives 
and actual perpetrators of this outrage has been rife, with some claims reflecting 
better on their authors' political agendas than on the facts on the ground." 

Clearly, if the bombings were meant to provoke a shift in foreign policy, they 
failed. Instead, they led to strained relations with Iran and Lebanon and made life 
more uncomfortable for Argentina's population of Syrian and Lebanese parentage, 
self-estimated at around 2.5 million. On one level, an accumulated trade surplus 
with Iran of more than $10 billion since 1984 helps explain the government's 
obvious reluctance to consider downgrading relations, especially without more solid 
evidence of Tehran's involvement than that stemming from a dubious Iranian 
informer. On another level, and irrespective of creed, Lebanese and other Arab 
nationals, as well as non-Arab Muslims, have found it harder to visit relatives or 
tour Argentina and two of her neighbors, because of stricter visa requirements. 
Additionally, Arab-descended Argentines have witnessed a rise in anti-Arab and 
anti-Muslim expressions in the country's media. 

On a different level, both bombs gave rise to a spate of anonymous telephone 
threats against Jewish institutions, with fears of a third attack, some of them plainly 
feeding on reckless press sensation-mongering, leading to the installation of anti-car- 
bomb devices in front of Jewish public facilities and other security measures, a 
temporary halt of interinstitutional sporting competitions at Jewish venues, and a 
perceptible increase in the Jewish sense of vulnerability. Without minimizing such 
consequences for Jews, one should also not lose sight of the public expressions of 
sympathy for the Jewish community, highlighted, for instance, by multipartisan 
support in Congress for a lower-house statement strongly condemning the 1992 
embassy attack, and the presence of Menem and members of his cabinet, former 
President Alfonsin and opposition legislators, as well as the city's archbishop. 
Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, among the up to 1 30,000 participants in a march to 
repudiate this blast. The AMIA attack reportedly drew not less than 150,000 
marchers in solidarity with the victims, some of the same public figures included. 


Among the latter demonstration's banners were some proclaiming "We are all 
Argentine Jews," in line with press comments that the embassy and AMIA attackers 
had violated Argentine sovereignty. 

A novel feature in both cases were messages repudiating the attacks and/or 
supporting the victims by Argentine Arab institutions and local personalities of 
Arab descent. Among the factors helping to account for such pronouncements one 
could point to developments in the Middle East, the Menem administration's own 
role in seeking to translate advances toward an Arab-Israeli peace into something 
tangible locally, and concern about possible backlash attacks on Argentine Arabs. 
The embassy bombing was condemned by the Tucuman Pan Islamic Association 
and Buenos Aires Islamic Centre, two Syro-Lebanese institutions; the Palestine 
Information Office, a locally created precursor of the Palestine National Authority's 
diplomatic representation; as well as a score of personalities of Arab ancestry. Two 
years later, the leader of an Iran-supported Buenos Aires mosque repudiated the 
AMIA bombing, while a FEARAB leader expressed his solidarity with the shocked 
Jewish community (quite unlike FEARAB's attitude vis-a-vis the Israeli embassy 
blast, when it had raised the possibility that it was due to explosives stored at the 
diplomatic representation). Against the backdrop of such a sea change, it is perhaps 
unsurprising that Menem should have attended the 60th-anniversary celebrations 
of the DAIA's founding in July 1935 in the company of the president of FEARAB, 
an umbrella organization for a host of institutions created by Syrian and Lebanese 
immigrants, whether Christian, Muslim, or nondenominational, which was inspired 
by Syria's ruling Baath party. 

Nazi War Criminals 

Having embarked upon a neo-liberal economic program and adjusted the coun- 
try's foreign policy accordingly, Menem's government aligned Argentina with the 
United States in a way his predecessors — whether civilian or military, Peronist(PJ) 
or Radical — plainly resisted. Such resistance was at the root of many caricatures 
of Argentina as a former Axis asset and den of leading war criminals, and of Juan 
Peron himself as a "megalomaniac Nazi," as he was inaccurately described by U.S. 
assistant secretary of state Spruille Braden in the 1940s. The effort to persuade U.S. 
public opinion, not just the Washington administration, that Argentina was un- 
deserving of the Nazi stigma attached to the Peronist movement's founder and his 
following can be seen as lying behind President Menem's announcement in February 
1992 that he was releasing official files on the postwar influx of Nazis into the 
country, a measure that paved the way for his government's later grant to Argen- 
tina's Holocaust Foundation of a centrally located Buenos Aires building where a 
museum is being set up. 

The Argentine government's decision has yielded easier access to a mass of 
documents that were already in the public domain (and that were studied without 
fanfare by Argentine, Israeli, and other scholars long before this announcement). 


as well as allowed consultation of a smaller number of recent files, e.g., that of 
Abraham Kipp, a Dutch collaborationist war criminal (sentenced to death in ab- 
sentia), whose extradition was requested by Holland during President Raul Alfon- 
sin's incumbency (1983-89). During the early months of Menem's first term, a 
judge ruled that Kipp would not be sent back to the Netherlands, among other 
reasons, because of loopholes in the Argentine-Dutch extradition treaty of 1893. The 
same magistrate, though, decided in June 1995 to grant an Italian request for the 
extradition of Erich Priebke, a fomer Gestapo officer in Rome who fled to Argentina 
in 1948 and was identified in 1994 by ABC News. Priebke would be the country's 
third deportee: the first was Gerhard Bohne in 1966; the second, Josef Schwamm- 
berger in 1990, both to Germany. 

Priebke's detention prompted then Interior Minister Carlos Ruckauf to announce 
that a police unit would be set up to investigate whether other Nazis on the run were 
still living in the country. In reality, even if the relevant personnel worked with 
unrivaled zeal to track down war criminals among a dwindling population of 
octogenarian Nazis and collaborators, their effort was unlikely to result in a signifi- 
cant number of detentions and extraditions. By way of contrast, Nazi-hunting units 
in Austraha, Britain, Canada, and the United States were being scaled down or 
closed altogether, among other reasons because of the difficulties presented by such 

Academic and other experts have yet to agree on the number of Nazi and 
collaborationist war criminals who may have taken refuge in postwar Argentina. 
Two things are clear, though. Firstly, the memoirs of some of the beneficiaries 
suggest that, regardless of numbers, Argentina warmly welcomed former Nazis, 
especially — though not only — those with scientific and technical skills, who arrived 
during the short interregnum between the demise of the Third Reich and the onset 
of the Cold War. Thereafter things changed. Since 1949, no Allied policies pre- 
vented the departure of former Nazis to Argentina (as had been the case with 
Eastern Europeans since 1947), but the slowing down of Argentine economic 
growth forced many of those hired by the Peron government to look for employment 
opportunities elsewhere. Secondly, irrespective of the revisionism under way, the 
sensationalist estimate of 60,000 fugitive Nazi war criminals in Argentina has been 
seriously questioned, explicitly or otherwise. A headline-grabbing report in the New 
York Times (December 14, 1993) alluding to a list of more than 1,000 Nazi and 
collaborationist war criminals, compiled on the strength of the Argentine files, was 
cautiously declared by the Antisemitism World Report 1994 as being subject to 
verification. The topic was discussed by an array of Argentine and other specialists 
at two international academic events held in Buenos Aires in 1993-94. One was 
organized by, among others, the head of Testimonio, the research project on Argen- 
tina's Nazi files set up by DAI A in 1993, and has already yielded a Spanish-language 
volume of proceedings; the second enjoyed the academic sponsorship of three for- 
eign-based Jewish bodies: London's Institute of Jewish Affairs (IJA), the Latin 
American Jewish Studies Association, and the Agudat Mehkar Yahadut Amerika 


HaLatinit in Israel — with Spanish- and English-language collections of papers in 

Reservations about the actual number of Nazis are not meant to cast doubt on 
Argentina's documented participation in the race for the academic and scientific 
spoils of the Third Reich, or the reception of Nazi and collaborationist war crimi- 
nals. For the time being, though, Menem's friendly attitude on this and other issues 
of Jewish concern won him favor in Jewish circles. The World Jewish Congress 
awarded him its Nahum Goldmann Medal in late 1991, in the course of a visit to 
New York during which he met with representatives of major Jewish organizations, 
while the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith excluded his country — this was 
before the discovery of Priebke — from its list of Latin American states harboring 
Nazis evading justice. 



The absence of serious demographic studies, as well as unscientific assessments 
of real and purported flaws in national statistics, and the notion that the larger a 
group's numerical strength the greater its entitlements to influence and/or other 
benefits have tended to skew self-estimates by Argentina's ethnic and religious 
groups, whether Jews, Muslims, Ukrainians, or others. Not surprisingly, until the 
1970s, self-estimates of Argentina's Jewish population were particularly inflated, 
only diff"ering in the scope of exaggeration from some of the extravagant figures 
off"ered by sources inimical to Jews. The first major demographic study of Argentine 
Jews was carried out in the 1970s by the Hebrew University's Institute of Contempo- 
rary Jewry (ICJ). It established that Argentina's Jewish inhabitants, Ashkenazic in 
their majority, numbered some 225,000 souls. Ahhough this figure is based on 
substantial research, it is not beyond refinement. In some respects, Argentina is a 
country like France, with a large and growing proportion of marginal Jews, i.e., 
those born into Jewish households who, whatever their reasons, are unaffiliated. 
Hence, following French sociologist Dominique Schnapper's methodological con- 
siderations, it is legitimate to suggest that the ICJ's estimate could be higher. Indeed, 
if the French case is anything to go by, an upward revision of up to 20 percent may 
well be justified. 

Be that as it may, ICJ demographers unwittingly lent an important degree of 
credibility to Argentina's national censuses, whose figures were considerably closer 
to the mark than many had been prepared to believe. After 1960, though, these no 
longer included an item on religious affiliation. Whereas the 1947 census identified 
249,000 Jews, ICJ demographers now think that the real number was 285,800. The 
gap between these figures is partly explained by. an estimate of individuals who 
legalized their situation as a result of a Peron government amnesty of 1948, aimed 


at all extralegal arrivals. Although the number of its Jewish beneficiaries was cal- 
culated on the basis of local Jewish records to be in the region of 10,000, it was 
originally estimated to be more than three times bigger by sources as politically 
divergent as the American Jewish Committee and the Peronist Organizacion Isra- 
elita Argentina. If the latter were correct, the gap with those quantified by the census 
looks definitely closed. Additionally, whatever the real number of those who had 
to enter the country in unorthodox ways (the latter due to a decreasing interest in 
Jewish and other atypical and unwanted immigrants by Argentina's elites and 
governments after the late 1920s), and who, once there, lived relatively unharassed, 
Jews no doubt were one of the groups for whom the amnesty, which also benefited 
Nazis and others, was most rewarding. 


Over the years, political and economic turmoil fostered emigration. This, together 
with assimilation and intermarriage, generally accounts for the decreasing Jewish 
presence in Argentina. Israeli statistics reveal that some 50,000 Jews from Argentina 
moved permanently to the Jewish state during 1948-93, where they far outnumber 
all those hailing from the rest of Latin America. Although Argentine Jewish emigra- 
tion to countries outside Israel — whether other Latin American states, the United 
States, Europe, or elsewhere — remains unquantified, direct observation and oral 
accounts support the assumption that it is substantial. Most Jews, however, have 
chosen to remain in Argentina. 


Although generally perceived as urban middle-class, Argentine Jewry cannot be 
treated as a homogeneous group. An illustration of this is the occupational profile 
of the 1,317 Jews who enrolled with the job center of the Buenos Aires Jewish 
Community (AMI A) in the course of a six-week period during April-May 1995. 
Rather than an exclusive sample of people looking for work as accountants, business 
administrators, computer experts, engineers, journalists, psychologists, social work- 
ers, and sociologists, i.e., persons equipped with higher educational degrees, there 
were many seeking nonprofessional jobs as beauticians, carpenters, cashiers, clerks, 
hairdressers, locksmiths, nurses, plumbers, receptionists, salespersons, sales repre- 
sentatives, and telephone operators, as well as a third group consisting of bricklay- 
ers, cooks and kitchen helpers, drivers, maintenance workers, messengers, and 

Like fellow Argentines of similar socioeconomic standing, Jews have been affected 
by economic changes going back to 1975. These include the serious erosion of 
possibilities for upward mobility and the reality of downward mobility resulting 
from the growing gap in income distribution, and the associated rise in poverty and 
social marginalization that accompanied adjustment policies aimed at overcoming 


the economic instability of the 1980s. Indicative of this are the following AMIA 
figures: whereas an average of 400 job seekers registered monthly with AMIA 
during March 1993-June 1994, that number more than doubled by 1995. 

At the same time, the Jewish community's social structure, different from that 
of Argentina as a whole, helps explain the comparably small number of needy Jews. 
This is illustrated by the fact that AMIA's social-welfare department assisted some 
2,000 have-not families in 1986, a number that has since reached an internally 
estimated level of over 2,500 families. Adding the smaller numbers aided by Sephar- 
dic and German-Jewish institutions, it appears that aid recipients did not exceed a 
maximum of 3,000 families in 1995, or some 12,000 needy Jews in the community. 


At the beginning of the 1995 school year, scholarships were granted to 6,000 
students attending Jewish schools, about a third of the Jewish school population in 
the federal capital and greater Buenos Aires. Such scholarships, together with the 
mergers of smaller and less viable educational establishments, helped prevent a 
sharp drop in the level of school enrollment in an area encompassing some 80 
percent of the country's Jews. Enrollment in kindergarten, primary, and secondary 
education institutions rose 14.2 percent from 1980 to 1989, to 18,023 Jewish school 
students, but that number had fallen to some 17,600 by 1995. Still, the above- 
mentioned measures helped to maintain a level of enrollment that was higher than 
that of 1980. 

Communal Affairs 

The bombings of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA building exacerbated some 
long-simmering internal tensions in the Jewish community. Since local Jewish lead- 
ers openly discuss these matters in the Argentine media, and the country's press has 
shown a hitherto unrivaled interest in Jewish community affairs, these tensions can 
hardly be swept under the carpet. 

One source of controversy was the Israeli embassy. Since it had been initially 
acquired and furnished by members of the Jewish community — as clearly recalled 
in the rich memoirs of Israel's first diplomatic representative in Buenos Aires, Jacob 
Tsur — it is hardly surprising that its destruction was followed by a fund-raising 
drive to erect a new building. This well-meaning effort was deemed unwarranted by 
many, however, especially those aware both of the difference in Israeli circum- 
stances in the 1940s and 1990s and the Jewish community's diminishing ability to 
assist its neediest without the injection of funds from foreign donors. While such 
criticism did not prevent the purchase of a plot in a residential quarter that hosts 
other diplomatic representations, Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Aviran objected to the 
site, the project design, and other elements. As a result, the initiative was abandoned 
after an official ground-breaking ceremony was attended by, among others, Foreign 


Minister Guido Di Telia and Argentine Jewish leaders. The apparently insurmount- 
able differences between the ambassador and the Argentine Jewish donors may be 
taken as an indication of developing changes in Israel-Diaspora relations. 

After the second bombing, the president of the DAIA (whose headquarters were 
in the destroyed building), Ruben Beraja, came under attack by some frustrated with 
the slow pace of the government's investigation. Public criticism of Jewish leaders 
is nothing new. Accusations of indifference, if not worse, were leveled at the DAIA 
by the Argentine and Israeli relatives of the "desaparecidos," in the latter half of 
the 1970s, when many more Jews — largely (though not only) unaffiliated — were 
killed than in the two recent bombings or in any other anti-Jewish incidents since 
Argentina's independence (the 1919 Tragic Week possibly excepted). In fact, some 
of those most unhappy with the DAIA's record during 1976-83, with the small 
number of officers prosecuted under Alfonsin for their involvement in human-rights 
violations (their cases still being without precedent in the annals of Argentine 
history), and with Menem's pardons, were the most critical of the Jewish umbrella 
organization's president. So far, evidence of Beraja's closeness to Menem and other 
political figures within the ruling PJ was not any stronger than that regarding the 
ties of other Jewish leaders to earlier military and civilian rulers. Nor was there 
evidence that Beraja had compromised Jewish community interests, as was report- 
edly the case with some episodes in the 1976-83 period. Insinuations against him 
need to be understood in the context of Argentine Jewish political culture and the 
fact that Beraja is only the fourth non-Ashkenazi to head the DAIA since its 
inception in 1935. Unlike Ashkenazic contenders for leadership of the community, 
who have traditionally been aligned with Israeli political parties, many Sephardic 
Jews in Argentina and elsewhere have historically been lukewarm toward political 
Zionism, more at home with Sephardic religious institutions than with the more 
traditional sources of Israeli influence. Thus, whatever the merits or demerits of the 
anti-Beraja claims, he is clearly an economically successful Jew of Syrian parentage, 
well-rooted in Argentina, but in certain respects viewed as an outsider by the 
traditional Ashkenazic establishment. 

When all is said and done, the bombings, especially the second one, promoted 
stronger links between Argentine Jewry and Jewish bodies abroad, whether in Israel 
or the Diaspora. This is attested by the compilation of a collection of press reports 
on the second bombing by the Madrid-based Hebraica as well as in the more 
practical trilateral linkage between the Buenos Aires and Chicago Jewish communi- 
ties and the Tel Aviv municipality. 

iGNACio Klich 

Western Europe 

Great Britain 

National Affairs 


lS the popularity of the Conservative government continued to 
decline in 1994 and early 1995 — despite signs of further economic recovery— that 
of the opposition Labor Party and to some extent also that of the Liberal Democrats 
continued to rise. Tory unpopularity was shown in massive losses in local elections 
in May 1 994 and May 1 995 and in the elections for the European Parliament in June 
1994. Evidence from polls suggested that since the summer of 1994, not only were 
Conservatives abstaining but also they were switching their support to Labor. The 
government's one major success, following secret negotiations, undeniably lay in the 
decision of the Irish Republican Army in August to declare an "unconditional" 

Manifest disunity in the government and in the Conservative Party — most obvi- 
ous in the case of policy toward the European Union — as well as recurrent scandals 
involving sex and money and professional lobbyists, cumulatively created an atmo- 
sphere of sleaze that discredited the integrity of people in public life. Standards of 
care in the National Health Service and educational resources were also perceived 
to be deteriorating. The national budget, presented in November 1994, pledged cuts 
of £28 billion in public spending and was widely held to be associated with the 
decline in pubhc services. 

The counterpart to Tory decline was the rise of Labor. The latter party did indeed 
suffer a grievous blow with the sudden death of its popular leader, John Smith, in 
May 1 994. After a period of maneuvering, Tony Blair was elected leader in July and 
immediately undertook a campaign to modernize the party and to forge a new 
relationship with the trade unions. Meanwhile, Paddy Ashdown, leader of the 
Liberal Democrats, was attempting to move his party closer to Labor and discard 
its earlier policy of "equidistance" between the two major parties. This move, if 
adopted by the Liberal Democrats, would certainly increase the pressure on the 



Israel and the Middle East 

"Our political relationship . . . has never been so warm, has never had so much 
content and common ground," commented Prime Minister John Major after meet- 
ing with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel in Jerusalem in March 1995. This 
closeness was already apparent in May 1994, when the British government lifted its 
12-year embargo on sales of arms to Israel; in June, when Israel and Britain set up 
a joint science and technology research fund; in August, when Foreign Office 
minister Douglas Hogg stated Britain's readiness to allow Israel full participation 
in the European Union's high-tech research program; and in September, when 
Major, visiting Saudi Arabia, attempted to secure the end of the Arab trade embargo 
against Israel. 

October marked a high point: General Ehud Barak became the first Israeli chief 
of staff to visit Britain, and Malcolm Rifkind the first British defense secretary to 
visit Israel officially. (Rifkind, Tory MP for Edinburgh Pentlands and a strongly 
identifying Jew, was appointed to his post in 1992.) Major described Israel's peace 
agreement with Jordan as an "extraordinary achievement" during a warm and 
productive meeting with Prime Minister Rabin on a visit to London that was 
abruptly curtailed because of a suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv; and Queen Eliza- 
beth's consort. Prince Philip, visited Jerusalem to receive the "Righteous Gentile" 
award presented posthumously to his mother. Princess Alice, who had hidden 
Greek Jews from the Nazis during World War II. In November, Major, the first 
British prime minister to address the Joint Israel Appeal's (JIA) main fund-raising 
event in London, endorsed the unprecedentedly close ties between Britain and 

Some points of contention remained, including the future of Jerusalem. A state- 
ment by Major in May 1994, emphasizing that Britain did not recognize Israeli 
sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, was thought untimely but representing no 
shift in policy. The statement was issued when the Likud-backed Campaign for a 
United Jerusalem asked Major to send greetings to a Jerusalem Day dinner in 
London. In March 1995, Jerusalem's mayor, Ehud Olmert, attacked the decision 
to send a Foreign Office diplomat to the PLO's Jerusalem headquarters. Orient 
House, during Major's visit. Speaking at the opening of Anglo-Jewry's celebration 
of 3,000 years of Jerusalem, he criticized Major and other British officials for faihng 
to grasp Israeli and Jewish anxieties about the city's future. 

Another point of dispute was Israeli settlement policy. In April 1994, Foreign 
Office minister Hogg announced that, in an effort to prevent extremists from scut- 
tling peace efforts, Britain was making regular representations to the Israelis to 
"cease the construction of settlements which we regard as illegal . . . and an obstacle 
to peace." 

The British government showed its support for Palestinian control over the 
autonomous areas of Gaza and Jericho in various ways. Following the massacre of 
Palestinians in Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs by a Jewish settler in February 1 994, 


Prime Minister Major wrote to PLO leader Yasir Arafat denouncing the act and 
promising to provide £34,000 in aid for those wounded in the attack. In May, when 
Britain warmly welcomed the Cairo signing of the Israel-PLO agreement to with- 
draw Israeli forces from Gaza and Jericho, the government announced the provision 
of £70 million in assistance in the year ahead. In July, after warnings from Foreign 
Office officials that delay in bringing law, order, and prosperity to Gaza and Jericho 
would play into the hands of extremists opposed to the peace process, the figure was 
raised to £75 million. In July it was reported that senior Palestinian police officers 
were receiving training at Bramshill, Britain's national police training college, while 
Whitehall-backed experts were advising Arafat's officials on setting up a civil service 
and independent judiciary and on the development of financial institutions. 

In January 1994, Britain agreed to export arms to the Lebanese government in 
order to strengthen its control over the country; in October, Hogg, returning from 
a visit to Damascus and Beirut, called on Lebanon to stop Iranian-backed funda- 
mentalist guerrillas from attacking Israel. Addressing an Institute of Jewish Aifairs 
(IJA) meeting in London the same month. Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd called 
Iran the world's most dangerous exporter of terrorism. In March 1995, in an 
interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Major reaffirmed Britain's determination to 
confront extremist violence by groups supported by Iran and other countries. Brit- 
ain, he said, had not changed its position on Iraq, nor its "concern" about Iran, both 
of which were opposed to the peace process. 

The London-based Committee to Free Mordechai Vanunu, the imprisoned Isradi 
nuclear spy, pressed its cause at a Jerusalem meeting with Israeli president Ezei 
Weizman in December 1994 and published simultaneously an appeal signed by 
leading politicians, actors, and writers in newspapers in London, Tel Aviv, New 
York, and Cairo. 

Islamic Terrorism 

The threat from terrorist attempts to disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process 
caused the Board of Deputies of British Jews to put the Jewish community on the 
alert, first in March 1994 after the Hebron massacre in Israel and again after the 
Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was bombed on July 18. 
However, nothing could prepare the community for the two horrifying car-bomb 
attacks that took place on July 26, one outside London's Israeli embassy, the other 
outside the offices of the Joint Israel Appeal (JIA). No fatalities resulted, but 19 
people were injured, and the buildings were considerably damaged. A pledge that 
Britain would do its utmost to catch the perpetrators was given by Foreign Secretary 
Hurd to Israeli ambassador Moshe Raviv and by Home Secretary Michael Howaid 
to community leaders. 

Immediately following the attacks, armed police, backed up by Scotland Yard's 
antiterrorist squad, mounted guard on key Jewish institutions. In August Scotland 
Yard officials meeting with Board of Deputies security officers considered that the 


community was still under "significant threat," and in September Home Secretary 
Howard agreed to maintain a nationwide antiterrorist guard on Jewish communal 
institutions. In November a communitywide security operation was launched after 
Assistant Commissioner David Veness, in charge of Metropolitan Police specialist 
operations at Scotland Yard, cautioned community leaders against becoming com- 
placent. British Jewry was facing a long-term threat from extremist terror gangs 
"motivated by a rejection of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East," Veness said. 
In January 1995, five Palestinians, bom in either Lebanon or Jordan, were ar- 
rested and held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in connection with the 
bombings. Between January and March, three of the five (Nadia Zekra, Samar 
Alami, and Jawed Mahmoud Botmeh) were charged at Bow Street magistrates court 
with conspiring with others to cause explosions. In April Botmeh and Zekra were 
committed to stand trial at the Old Bailey, and in May Zekra and Alami were freed 
on bail totaling £1 million. 

Anti-Semitism and Racism 

The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the United Kingdom increased 
to 346 in 1993 from 292 in 1992, according to figures released by the Board of 
Deputies of British Jews in June 1994. An annual report published the same month 
by the London-based Institute of Jewish Affairs (IJA) placed the rise in the preced- 
ing year at over 20 percent. Entitled Antisemitism World Report 1994, the 270-page 
document assessing anti-Semitism in more than 70 countries named the United 
Kingdom as one of ten countries where manifestations of anti-Semitism were in- 
creasing. Incidents had risen steadily over a five-year period, and "the cUmate has 
definitely deteriorated," it stated. IJA executive director Antony Lerman expressed 
"great concern" at the increase in "electronic Fascism," the distribution of anti- 
Semitic and Holocaust-denial material through computer networks and bulletin 
boards, computer games and videos, telephone networks and hot lines, most of 
which, Lerman claimed, came from the United States. 

The Board of Deputies reported that anti-Semitic incidents rose sharply after the 
July car-bombings of the Israeli embassy and Joint Israel Appeal offices (see above). 
More than 50 incidents — double the monthly average — occurred between July 26 
and August 26, including threatening telephone calls, assaults, and abusive behav- 

Although Jews in Britain had not been subject to physical violence in the way that 
other minorities had, according to Mike Whine, Board of Deputies defense director, 
the continued high level of desecration of communal property — 21 percent of total 
attacks — was cause for serious concern. In February 1994 an attack on Grimsby 
cemetery was reported; in April there was a burglary and arson attack on the 
Machzikei Hadass mikveh (ritual bath) at Preston, Manchester; in October a nur- 
sery school in Stamford Hill, North London, was burned down; in November an 
arson attack at Stamford Hill's Yesodey Hatorah school was reported, and Pardes 


House grammar school, Finchley, North London, was ransacked; in December, 
Mamlock House, Manchester's Zionist headquarters, was broken into; in April 1995 
an arson attack severely damaged Reuben's Kosher Restaurant in Central London. 

The IJA report found the distribution of anti-Semitic material "disturbing." This 
included leaflets sent to Jewish and non-Jewish homes in North-West London 
referring to Jewish ritual murder and accusing Jews of pedophilia, a pamphlet 
distributed among far-right activists urged them to kill Jews and nonwhites, and a 
leaflet sent to some 20 London nursery schools with the message "Avoid Orthodox 
Jews— child ritual murder outbreak feared." In February 1995 a Board of Deputies 
delegation told Prime Minister Major that it was "puzzled and angered" at the lack 
of prosecutions against the publishers and distributors of hate literature. In March 
80-year-old Dowager Lady Birdwood received a three-month suspended prison 
sentence at the Old Bailey for inciting racial hatred by the publication and distribu- 
tion of 15,000 copies of a leaflet, "The Longest Hatred," alleging a Jewish conspir- 
acy to undermine society and claiming that the Holocaust never happened. 

The fears aroused by the first electoral victory of the far-right British National 
Party (BNP) in London's East End in September 1993 persisted throughout 1994, 
because the party was deemed responsible for many racist episodes. In January 1994 
Liberal-Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown called on all main political parties to 
unite against BNP in May local elections. In March the Board of Deputies, the 
Anti-Racist Alliance, the Churches Commission for Racial Justice, and the Liberal- 
Democrat and Labor parties launched the United Campaign Against Racism with 
a rally in the East End, organized by the Trades Union Council and attended by 
more than 35,000 people. In April Home Secretary Howard pledged the support of 
the Conservative Party and the government for the campaign. In April, too, the 
Board of Deputies' defense committee mounted its biggest preelection campaign in 
years in an effort to mobilize British Jews against racist candidates in the elections. 

Although BNP lost its sole local government seat in the May elections, far-right 
candidates increased their share of total votes to a national average of 6.8 percent 
(from between 2 and 4 percent in 1990 local elections). However, in June European 
Parliament elections, the 14 extreme right candidates averaged below 2 percent of 
the total votes; and BNP candidates polled only 562 and 360 votes, respectively, in 
East London by-elections — at Tower Hamlet in December and Newham South in 
February 1995. 

Even though the government claimed to take racial attacks and racial harassment 
"extremely seriously," a February 1994 report by the Commission on SocialJustice 
found that current laws urgently required improvement. The government's response 
came with the introduction in May and June of two amendments to the Criminal 
Justice and Public Order Bill: one making the production and distribution of racist 
publications an arrestable offense; the other imposing a jail sentence of up to s« 
months or a fine of up to £8,000 on those "causing intentional harassment, alarm 
or distress." By October-November both amendments had received royal assent. In 
April 1995, following an investigation into racist literature distributed to police 


forces around the country, police were able to arrest two people under the terms 
of the first amendment. 

The report of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on Racial 
Violence was published in June 1994 following a year's deliberations and more than 
100 written submissions. The committee, chaired by Jewish Conservative MP Sir 
Ivan Lawrence, made 38 recommendations, which it urged the government to 
implement "without delay" in view of the rapid spread of racism. In July Home 
Secretary Howard dismissed the report's suggestion of a new law against racially 
motivated assault, reiterating his belief that there was "already more than enough 
legislation to deal with such offenses." Howard's 20-page reply to the report in 
November supported some of its recommendations, including giving the police extra 
powers to prosecute those responsible for racial harassment and improving the 
response by the police and courts. 

In January 1995 Union of Jewish Students (UJS) campaigns officer Paul Solomon 
told the Board of Deputies that Islamic fundamentalists constituted an unprece- 
dented threat to Jewish students, that the rise of the fundamentalist group Hizb-ut- 
Tahrir "strikes at the very root of Jewish campus experience." Its message, conveyed 
by leaflets around campuses, mixed anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial with a call 
to kill Jews, Hindus, and homosexuals and contempt for Western democratic ideals. 
Despite repeated appeals to the Home Secretary from MPs, the Board of Deputies, 
and student leaders, the government was reluctant to take legal action against Hizb 
operating on university campuses. 

Nazi War Criminals 

In January 1994 the Scottish Office announced that there was insufficient evidence 
to proceed with the case expected to be brought against Lithuanian-born Anton 
Gecas, although "the file would remain open." Gecas, aged 77, a police officer in 
a Lithuanian battalion, was charged with involvement in the massacre of Jews in 
Soviet territory occupied by the Germans in World War II. 

The following month, the decision was made to wind down the work of the 
Scottish war-crimes unit. Addressing the concerns of some MPs, peers, and Jewish 
groups, assurances were given throughout the year that the decision to close the 
Scottish unit would have no effect on inquiries in England and Wales. Although 
questions were raised at the end of the year about continued funding of the Scotland 
Yard war-crimes unit. Home Office minister Baroness Blatch said in February 1995 
that cases would be investigated "as long as there is a possibility of evidence being 
made available." "Parliament is determined that these cases be pursued." To date, 
investigations had cost just over £5 million. Of the 369 cases investigated, the Crown 
Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed in 239, and over 100 suspects had 
died in the interim. In March the attorney-general revealed that government lawyers 
had completed their examination of seven cases thought most likely to result in 
prosecution. In May he said that 20 suspected Nazis were still under investigation 


by Scotland Yard's war-crimes unit. In a May issue of the London Independent on 
Sunday, legal-affairs correspondent Stephen Ward predicted that Britain's first 
war-crimes trial in 1 996 would be that of 84-year-old Siemon Serafimowicz, who 
came to Britain in 1947, worked as a carpenter, and now lived in Banstead, Surrey. 
As a senior police official in Mir, Belorussia, during the German occupation, Serafi- 
mowicz was allegedly responsible for shooting Jews, a charge he denied. 

Also in May 1995, consideration of a bill calling for a statute of limitations on 
war-crimes trials, introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Campbell of AUoway 
in November 1 994, was suspended by the House of Commons and no new date for 
discussion set. The bill, which would have effectively prohibited further war-crimes 
trials, had passed through all stages in the Lords. 



The number of synagogue marriages in 1 994 showed its largest annual decrease 
since 1975-76, according to statistics issued by the Board of Deputies' Community 
Research Unit. The 10-percent drop— to 914 in 1994 from 1,015 in 1993— reflected 
a decline in the number of marriages in the general population. Figures for com- 
pleted divorces fell to 236 in 1994 from 275 in 1993. 

Burials and cremations under Jewish auspices dropped to 4,069 in 1994 from 
4,359 in 1993. Estimated figures for births, based on totals for circumcision, rose 
to 2,847 in 1993 from 2,808 in 1992. 

Regional figures showed considerable variation. Leeds Jewish Historical Society 
calculated the local community at 8,900 in January 1994, as compared with 17,800 
at its first survey in 1 964. A five-yearly census by the Representative Council of 
North-Eastern Jewry, published in March 1 994, showed a rise in the ultra-Orthodox 
Gateshead community to 1,420 from 1 ,200; and the Newcastle Reform congregation 
increased to 227 from 179. By contrast, Newcastle's United Hebrew Congregation 
had fallen to 729 from 910 and Sunderland to 166 from 291, while the Middles- 
borough congregation showed a loss of 40 souls. The preliminary results of a census 
by Merseyside Jewish Representative Council published in June 1994 suggested a 
population of between 3,300 and 3,400, against 5,750 ten years earlier. 

Communal Affairs 

Fears that Lord Young's new Central Council for Jewish Community Services 
(CCJCS) — the former Central Council for Jewish Social Services and an umbrella 
body for 41 organizations — could erode the Board of Deputies' position as the 
community's leading lay organization dominated the last months of Judge Israel 
Finestein's term as board president. 

Finestein retired in April 1 994, disappointed at the rejection of many of the 


reforms proposed during the session but confident that the board's machinery had 
been improved and its strategy to some extent rationalized. In May the Federation 
of Synagogues — a grouping of right-of-center Orthodox synagogues formed in 1887 
—decided not to renew its affiliation with the board. This was in part an economy 
measure, but also because federation president Arnold Cohen no longer considered 
the board relevant; individual federation synagogues were free to affiliate in their 
own right. 

In June Eldred Tabachnik, a 50-year-old barrister, became the youngest president 
in the Board of Deputies' history. In a drive to reassert the board's central role, 
Tabachnik pledged in July to take the lead in discussions of the chief rabbi's review 
of the role of women and to set up a working group to consider how the board could 
be more responsive to the concerns of women deputies. In October he launched an 
initiative for a wide range of consultations with communal leaders and organizations 
to be held under board auspices. In January 1995, to indicate the importance the 
board attached to communities outside London, its leaders began a series of visits 
to major Jewish centers, including Bournemouth, Leeds, and Glasgow. 

The inaugural meeting took place in March 1994 in Kidderminster, North 
Midlands, of the National Jewish Youth Assembly, sponsored by the Board of 
Deputies together with the Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade, the Association of 
Jewish Youth, Maccabi Union, and the Zionist Youth Council. Between them, these 
groups provided activities for up to 20,000 young Jews weekly, but they operated 
with a total deficit of £400,000. Speakers at the conference claimed that young Jews 
were entitled to financial support as an investment for the future and demanded that 
the assembly be represented on "all major decision-making bodies, including the 
Board of Deputies." A commission of inquiry into the funding of youth services, 
under the auspices of CCJCS and headed by high court judge Sir Bernard Rix, issued 
its report in August 1994, pinpointing the need for improved funding, marketing, 
and planning of youth services. In October the organizations involved agreed to 
meet under the auspices of the Board of Deputies to discuss a follow-up to the Rix 

In April 1994 a Holocaust survivors' center opened at Sinclair House, the Jewish 
youth and community center in Redbridge, East London. A year later Sinclair 
House announced plans to merge with Jewish Care, Anglo-Jewry's largest domestic 
charity, giving Jewish Care its first direct involvement in youth and community 
work. In May 1994, Nightingale House, the home for aged Jews in South London, 
benefited financially from a bequest of property in Charleston, South Carolina, by 
Alec Davidson, a Londoner who had emigrated to the United States. 

The 50th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day in May 1995 was observed 
with services of commemoration of the dead and thanksgiving for peace in syna- 
gogues throughout the country. Prior to VE Day, a newspaper poll found that fewer 
than 40 percent of 1 1 - 14-year-olds in state schools had heard of the Holocaust. This 
brought appeals from the chief rabbi and Israeli ambassador Moshe Raviv for a 
national Holocaust Museum to be created in London. 


British Jewry's efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry were divided between groups like 
the 35s, the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry, which stressed resettlement in 
Israel, and programs like Exodus 2000, which worked with youth in the former 
Soviet Union to create new communal structures and train future leaders. Exodus, 
run by the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain in conjunction with the Israel-based 
World Union for Progressive Judaism, reported in September 1994 that, after two 
years' operation, 1 2 congregations in Britain were twinned with counterparts in the 
former Soviet Union. In addition, visiting British rabbis had held seminars and 
taught in the newly formed Institute of Advanced Jewish Studies in Russia, and 
exchange visits and summer camps had been organized. 

January 1994 saw an active campaign on behalf of Ron Arad, the missing Israeli 
airman thought to be held hostage by Tehran-based gunmen in Lebanon since he 
disappeared in 1986. Simon Pollock, chairman of the Free Ron Arad Campaign, 
sent a direct appeal for help to Iranian diplomats in London, and some 850 people 
demonstrated outside the Iranian embassy to show solidarity with Arad. British 
diplomats, including Foreign Secretary Hurd, took up Arad's case in talks with 
Syrian and Iranian officials. And Prime Minister John Major, presented with a 
petition with 25,000 signatures, assured Arad's family that Britain would play a 
leading role in the international campaign to secure Arad's freedom. 

In April 1994 a seder for Bosnian Jewish refugees was held at the North- Western 
Reform Synagogue, in Golders Green, North- West London. In June Belgrade Jews 
received an emergency consignment of medical equipment and food sent by the 
Central British Fund (CBF)- World Jewish Relief and the British-Israel Forum, a 
London-based Jewish volunteer network. CBF- World Jewish Relief changed its 
name to World Jewish Relief in March 1995; in April it sent Passover food to the 
Jewish community of Sarajevo. 


Even as Jews worried about Arab terror and Islamic fundamentalist activity on 
campuses, there were eflForts to bring Jews and Muslims closer together. Jews, 
Muslims, and Christians attended memorial services in March 1994 at the West 
London Reform Synagogue for victims of the Hebron massacre and in November 
at London's Yakar for victims of the Tel Aviv bus bombing, the latter arranged by 
Palestinian peace activist Saida Nusseibeh. In October a Jewish-Muslim community 
forum was set up in Manchester to "promote good relations and mutual understand- 
ing," while in London the Institute of Jewish AflFairs organized an interfaith meeting 
at which Dr. Zaki Badawi, chairman of the U.K. Imams and Mosques Council, 
shared a platform with Board of Deputies vice-president Rosalind Preston. In 
November North London's Leo Baeck College joined with the Calamus Foundation 
to present a lecture series, "Where Muslim and Jewish Civilizations Meet." 




In June 1994 women took seats for the first time on the United Synagogue (US) 
Council, the central policy-making forum of 66 central Orthodox British syna- 
gogues. Based on a formula drawn up by Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks in 
consultation with the Bet Din (religious court), two women per constituent syna- 
gogue, appointed or elected by their local boards of management, were enabled to 
join the council. New US plans announced the previous February also foresaw 
reducing the council in 1996 from 300 to around 150 members, split equally between 
men and women. At the local level, synagogue boards of management would elect 
nine men and nine women (compared with the previous 12 and 6, respectively), in 
addition to the synagogue officers, though men would retain right of veto. Syna- 
gogues would have five officers, including an elected male chairman and vice- 
chairman. The reforms were disappointing, said Sheila Cohen, chairwoman of the 
Association of US Women. 

The review of the status of women in Anglo- Jewry, the first practical initiative 
of Chief Rabbi Sacks's "decade of renewal," was published in June 1994. It found 
strong consensus that women's needs had been ignored for too long, causing them 
to feel marginalized in communal and religious life, especially in central Orthodoxy. 
They wanted greater participation in prayer services and greater spiritual involve- 
ment through study, special prayers, and rituals to mark major events in life. Sacks 
named Syma Weinberg, education consultant to Jewish Continuity, as special ad- 
viser for the review's overall implementation and urged all communal bodies to 
investigate means to carry out its recommendations. In October the Board of 
Deputies established a standing committee on women's issues. 

The review was based on a statistical survey and a series of discussion groups with 
Jewish women nationwide, conducted by the Board of Deputies' Community Re- 
search Unit. Of the 1,350 respondents to the survey, of whom 1,125 were affiliated 
with synagogues, only 43 percent of US-affiliated women had found synagogues that 
satisfied their needs. This compared with 51 percent of Orthodox women outside 
the US; 69 percent of Reform women; 79 percent of Liberals; and 81 percent of 
Masorti (Conservative). The survey's findings showed a gradual shift taking place 
toward the left of the religious spectrum: only 61 percent of the daughters of 
Orthodox parents belonged to Orthodox synagogues. 

The popularity of women-only services grew. In January 1994, Manchester's 
Yeshurun Synagogue sanctioned a women's prayer group on the Sabbath in a 
private home, provided it followed the chief rabbi's guidelines, and in February, 
Pinner, North- West London, held its first women-only Shabbat service. However, 
when women-only services using a Torah scroll took place at Yakar, the indepen- 
dent Orthodox congregation in Hendon, North-West London, in March and Au- 


gust, and at the Limmud education conference in Oxford in December, Rabbi Sacks 
warned that use of a Torah scroll by women could "put at risk the entire effort to 
improve the position of women in accordance with the principles and spirit of Jewish 

In November 1994, Fraybin Gottlieb was appointed assistant registrar to the Bet 
Din, the first woman to hold a senior post in that body. 

The Jewish Women's Network, aiming to create a framework for dialogue for 
women throughout the community and to improve their position in Jewish life, held 
its first annual meeting in March 1995. Since its beginning in January 1993, it had 
held five major events around the country, said newly elected chairwoman Sharon 
Lee. Membership was growing, and hundreds of women were participating in 
debates, study sessions, and workshops. 

In February 1 995 the chief rabbi called in Dayan Berel Berkovits of the Federa- 
tion of Synagogues to work out a new draft of the prenuptial agreement (PNA). This 
had been proposed by Sacks in 1993 to prevent Orthodox women being trapped in 
failed marriages when husbands refused to give them a religious divorce (get). 
However, questions regarding the document's practicality and halakhic (Jewish 
legal) validity had delayed implementation. 


The United Synagogue continued to make structural changes, implementing the 
recommendations of the 1992 Kalms Report. Among other changes, it set up an 
Agency for Jewish Education to replace its own education department, so as to 
reduce the US head office's role. An independent, self-financing Orthodox body, the 
new agency would conduct teacher training, carry out inspections, and produce 
educational material. The agency began functioning in January 1995. 

During much of 1994 the US grappled with financial problems: in March it 
announced that it owed £8 million to its banks, mostly due for repayment within 
three years. In June seven synagogues were named as having had "chronic deficits" 
in 1993: Cricklewood, Dollis Hill, Finsbury Park, Hackney and East London, South 
Tottenham, South- West London, and West Ham. Four others presented "the most 
difficult situation," requiring "special action": Edgware, Finchley, Ilford, and Rich- 
mond. In October Edmonton and Tottenham Synagogue closed due to declining 
numbers. In December Finsbury Park Synagogue was sold to a right-wing Orthodox 
nursery; male membership had declined from 700 in 1970 to 130, 61 percent of 
whom were over 71, and 41 percent over 76. This, said US treasurer Leslie Elstein, 
was the path the US had to take, realizing assets from declining congregations and 
making them available for new communities. In April 1995, Dollis Hill Synagogue 
closed, following its sale in February to the North Finchley Torah Temimah pri- 
mary school; membership had fallen from a peak of 600 families to some 300, half 
of whom were over 70. 

In September Environment Secretary John Gummer ended three years of public 


debate by agreeing to establish the British community's first eruv — a symboHc 
boundary designed to permit Orthodox Jews to carry on the Sabbath — in North- 
west London. In January 1995 there were calls for a judicial review of the eruv 

On the death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn in September 1994, Prime 
Minister John Major sent the Lubavitch Foundation a message commiserating on 
its loss of "an inspirational, and perhaps irreplaceable" leader. A £5-million fund 
was set up in the Rebbe's name to further his work in Britain, and Chief Rabbi Sacks 
gave the inaugural Lubavitcher Rebbe Memorial Lecture. 

In October, Shmuel Boteach resigned as Lubavitch rabbi in Oxford after being 
suspended by the Lubavitch Foundation in Britain for his refusal to withdraw an 
invitation to Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to speak to his L'Chaim Society, 
which Boteach continued to head. 

In November 1994 leading Orthodox rabbis in Manchester, alarmed at the spread 
of the Masorti movement to northern England, pledged action to prevent a congre- 
gation being established in the city. Masorti services were held in Bradford in 
January 1995 (the first in northern England) and in Manchester in March. 

In December 1994 the Office of the Chief Rabbi made it clear that it did not accept 
as valid any conversion or marriage conducted under Masorti auspices. Rabbi Dr. 
Julian Shindler, director of the marriage authorization department, told the Jewish 
Chronicle that he issued the clarification because of claims to the contrary by the 
Masorti movement, following the Manchester controversy. In January 1995 Chief 
Rabbi Sacks aroused considerable discussion when he described the Masorti move- 
ment as intellectual "thieves" posing a danger to the future of British Jewry. Writing 
in the right-wing Orthodox Jewish Tribune , he accused Masorti of making "mislead- 
ing" claims to being Orthodox and stated that anyone not believing that the Torah 
was dictated by God to Moses had "severed links with the faith of his ancestors." 

The ensuing outcry from the Jewish public and many communal organizations 
partially abated after Sacks wrote in the Jewish Chronicle that, while resolute in his 
support of an Orthodox Jewry firm in its faith and practice, he was equally commit- 
ted to "tolerance, warmth and intellectual openness." Speaking at the February 
1995 opening of the US's 125th anniversary celebrations. Sacks said, "The successes 
of the US represent one of the greatest achievements of modern Jewish life," and 
warned that those representing "less traditional alternatives" threatened to turn 
Britain into the fragmented community seen in America. 

In February 1995, police were called when ultra-Orthodox Jews protested at 
Manchester's Jewish cultural center, claiming that the speaker, the chief rabbi of 
Efrat, Israel, Shlomo Riskin, was a "heretic." 

The Reform Synagogues of Great Britain published a Calendar of Torah and 
Haftarah Readings, 5755-5757, and a new Pilgrim Festivals Machzor; the Union 
of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues issued a new prayer book, Siddur Lev Ha- 



In July 1994, Jewish Continuity — Chief Rabbi Sacks's fund-raising plan for 
Jewish education — announced a partnership with the Joint Israel Appeal (JIA), 
British Jewry's central fund-raising organization, which pledged at least £12 million 
to Continuity over the ensuing three years. Said JIA president Sir Trevor Chinn, 
"JIA has always been involved in saving Jewish lives and in the social development 
of Israel and will continue to do so. But you can not look at the national priorities 
of the Jewish people today without recognizing that Jewish continuity in the dias- 
pora is a major element." In September the chairman of the Jewish Agency, through 
which JIA funding for Israel is channeled, sharply criticized the agreement with 
Continuity, stating that this "unilateral, almost secretive decision breaks the rules 
of the partnership between us." Agency officials were particularly concerned about 
whether donations to Israel would suffer. 

In February 1995, Continuity gave £250,000, its largest single grant, for Israel 
programs for Anglo-Jewish youth, supplementing JIA's own contribution of 
£500,000 to Zionist youth programs. 

Fears that Chief Rabbi Sacks's remarks about the non-Orthodox would affect the 
policy of Jewish Continuity were partially allayed in January 1995 when chairman 
Dr. Michael Sinclair confirmed that Continuity remained a "community-wide" 
initiative. Continuity grants in April 1995, in fact, included £26,000 to the new 
Masorti Academy, £23,000 to Leo Baeck College, the Progressive rabbinical train- 
ing institute, and £18,200 to the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues. The 
safeguard for this even-handed policy was the Independent Allocations Board, 
which Continuity set up specifically to reassure the Progressive section in May 1994. 

In June 1994 it was announced that Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sinclair would succeed 
Rabbi Dr. Irving Jacobs as principal of Jews College. In August the Masorti move- 
ment launched the Masorti Academy, an institution for training rabbis for the 
movement as well as offering an adult education course leading to a diploma In 
December the British Sephardic community decided to establish a seminary to train 
future Sephardic rabbis, naming Dayan Dr. Pinchas Toledano, Av Bet Din of the 
Sephardic congregation, as principal. 

At secular institutions, the Centre for Modem Hebrew Studies was established 
at Cambridge University in February 1994. In March the Stanley Burton Centre for 
Holocaust Studies was founded at Leicester University. In May Oxford University 
announced that it would offer a B.A. in Jewish studies. In July Rabbi Dr. Norman 
Solomon, director of Birmingham's Centre for the Study of Judaism and Jewish- 
Christian Relations, was retrenched due to a funding crisis. In January 1995, Prof. 
Philip Alexander resigned as president of Oxford's Centre for Hebrew Studies 
(OCHS). A six-month dispute over the autonomy and financing of Yiddish studies 
at OCHS ended in April 1995 with the resignation of leading Yiddishist Dovid Katz, 
who became director of research of a new Oxford Institute for Yiddish Studies, 
which he had launched in October 1994. 



The European Jewish Publication Society was established in London in February 
1995, its aim to subsidize the publication of manuscripts on subjects of Jewish 
literary, educational, or historic interest that might not be taken up by commercial 

South African-bom Ronald Harwood received the 1994 Jewish Quarterly Prize 
for fiction for his novel Home; the nonaction award went to Leo Abse for fVotan 
My Enemy, a psychoanalysis of Germany and the Germans; the poetry prize was 
awarded to Ron Taylor for an unpublished poem, "The White Jew of Cochin." 

New literary studies included Tradition and Trauma: Studies in the Fiction ofS.J. 
Agnon, edited by David Patterson and Glenda Abramson; and Construction of "the 
Jew" in English Literature and Society by Bryan Cheyette. 

New works on local British history were London Jews and British Communism, 
1935-1945 by Henry Felix Srebnik; Uniting the Tailors: Trade Unionism Amongst 
the Tailors of London andLeeds, 1870-1939 by Anne J. Kershen; The Northampton 
Jewish Cemetery by Michael Jolles; A Documentary History of Jewish Immigrants 
in Britain, 1840-1920, edited by David Englander; The Jewish East End: Then and 
Now by Aumie and Michael Shapiro; Living Up West: Jewish Life in London '5 West 
End by Gerry Black; The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry, 1841-1991 by David 
Cesarani; Minerva or Fried Fish in a Sponge Bag: The Story of a Boarding School 
for Jewish Girls, edited by Zo Josephs; A Good Jew and a Good Englishman: The 
Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade, 1895-1995 by Sharman Kadish; and We're Not All 
Rothschilds, Leila Abrahams' account of Brighton and Hove Jewry. 

The plethora of works inspired by the Middle East peace process included Gaza 
First: The Secret Norway Channel to Peace Between Israel and the PLO by Jane 
Corbin; From War to Peace: Arab-Israeli Relations, 1973-1993, edited by Barry 
Rubin, Joseph Ginat, and Moshe Maoz; 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians 
by Benny Morris; Handshake in Washington: The Beginning of Middle East Peace? 
by John King; two books by Shimon Peres: Battling for Peace and The New Middle 
East; and Building Bridges: The Arab-Israeli Multilateral Talks by Joel Peters, who, 
with Keith Kyle, also edited Whither Israel?; and Israel at the Crossroads: The 
Challenge of Peace, edited by Efraim Karsh and Gregory Mahler. Karsh also edited 
a new quarterly journal, Israel Affairs, which first appeared in autumn 1994. 

Books about Israel included The Gates of Gaza: Israel's Road to Suez and Back, 
1955-1957 by Mordechai Bar-On; Press and Politics in Israel by former Jerusalem 
Post editor Erwin Frenkel; and The Supreme Court Building Jerusalem by Yosef 
Sharon. Major works on political themes were Democracy and Arab Political Cul- 
ture by Elie Kedourie and On Modern Jewish Politics by Ezra Mendelsohn. 

Three Yiddish works were published by Three Sisters Yiddish Press: DreiShvester 
(Three Sisters) by Menke Katz; Der Flacher Shpitz (Flat Peak) by Heershdovid 
Menkes (alias Dovid Katz); and Moscover Purim Shpielen (Moscow Purim Plays) 
by Gennady Estraikh. 


Holocaust literature contained several books concerning Poland, such as Did the 
Children Cry? by Richard Lukas, an account of the sufferings inflicted on Polish 
children by the German invaders; A Survivor's Saga by Richard Stem; and Konin: 
A Quest by Theo Richmond. Other new works touching on the Holocaust were 
Crimes of War by Roger Hutchinson, detailing the libel case alleged Nazi war 
criminal Antanas Gecas brought against Scottish Television; Rescuers of Jews Dur- 
ing the Holocaust by Eva Fogelman; Auschwitz and After: Race, Culture and "the 
Jewish Question" in France, edited by Lawrence D. Kritzman; A Cat Called Adolf 
by Trude Levi; The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination by Tony Kushner, a 
history of the British and U.S. governments' responses to the Holocaust; The Final 
Solution: Origins and Implementation , edited by David Cesarani; and Weekend in 
Munich, Robert Wistrich's analysis of the manipulation of the arts to political ends 
in the Third Reich. 

New and noteworthy works of fiction included Kolymsky Heights by Lionel 
Davidson; The Marble Kiss by Jay Rayner; The Stamp Collector by David Benedic- 
tus; The Far Side of Desire by Ralph Glasser; Moo Park by Gabriel Josipovici; Dr. 
Clock '5 Last Case by Ruth Fainlight; and Dreamers by Elaine Feinstein, who also 
published Selected Poems. Two books of short stories were Amy Bloom's Come to 
Me and Frederic Raphael's The Latin Lover and Other Stories. Gabriel's Palace: 
Jewish Mystical Tales and Elijah 's Violin and Other Jewish Fairy Tales by Howard 
Schwartz, and Broken Bridge by Lynne Reid Banks aimed at a younger readership. 

Poetry published during the period included Wordsounds and Sightlines by Mi- 
chael Horovitz; You Are, Aren't You by Michael Rosen; Treasury of Jewish Low. 
Poems, Quotations and Proverbs by David C. Gross; A Weekly Scotsman by David 
Daiches; Voices from the Dolls' House by Adele Geras; Hebrew Poems by David 
Prashker. Translated verse was represented by Flowers of Perhaps: Selected Poem 
of Ra'hel, translated by Robert Friend; and Modern Poetry in Translation, edited 
by Daniel Weissbort. 

Progressive rabbi Sidney Brichto published Funny . . . You Don 't Look Jewish: 
A Guide to Jews and Jewish Life. Works on religious subjects were Moses of Oxford 
by Shmuel Boteach; and Faith in the Future and Will We Have Jewish Grandchil- 
dren? Jewish Continuity and How to Achieve It by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. 

Works on the arts included Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine, 1880- 
1948 by Jehoash Hirshberg. 

Biographical and autobiographical studies included Sacred Games by Gerald 
Jacobs, a biography of Hungarian Jew Miklos Hammer; Fromental Halevy by Ruth 
Jordan; Isaiah Berlin by John Gray; and Berlin's own work. The Magus of the 
North , an introduction to the work of 1 8th-century German thinker Johann Georg 
Hamann; A Lesser Child by Karen Gershon; Troublesome Boy by Harold Rosen; 
Summing Up: An Autobiography by Yitzhak Shamir; A Giant Among Giants, in 
which Samuel C. Melnick tells the story of his grandfather. Rabbi Shmuel Kalman 
Melnick; Overview, a collection of occasional writings by Steven Berkoif; Remem- 
bering My Good Friends by George Weidenfeld; As Much as I Dare by Arnold 


Wesker; Intermittent Journals by Dannie Abse; and The Electronic Elephant: A 
Southern African Journey by Dan Jacobson. 

Two anthropological works were Jewish Identities in the New Europe, edited by 
Jonathan Webber; and Eat and Be Satisfied: A Social History of Jewish Food by John 


Knighthoods went to Leslie Tumberg, professor of medicine at Manchester Uni- 
versity and president of the Royal College of Physicians, for services to medicine; 
and Hans Singer, emeritus professor at Sussex University, for his contribution to 
economics. Nobel Prize winner Cesar Milstein, deputy director of Cambridge Medi- 
cal Research Council's laboratory, was made a Companion of Honor. 

Among British Jews who died in 1994 were Jack Brenner, secretary of the London 
Board for Shechitah and National Shechitah Council from 1948 to 1977, in January, 
aged 86; Jon Kimche, journalist and Middle East expert, in March, aged 83; Nakdi- 
mon Doniach, Hebrew scholar, in April, in Oxford, aged 89; Harry Farbey, AJEX 
general secretary, in April, in London, aged 72; Rudi Friedmann, communal worker 
and Zionist civil servant, in April, in London, aged 81; Clive Labovitch, Jewish 
communal worker and publisher, in April, aged 61; Alec Nove, Soviet scholar, in 
May, aged 78; Julius Emmanuel, prominent in "In Manchester" Jewish theater, in 
May, in Manchester, aged 78; Monty Modlyn, media personality and charity 
worker, in May, aged 72; Sidney Somper, Jewish educator, in June, aged 85; Stanley 
Segal, Jewish educator specializing in children with special needs, in June, aged 74; 
Shmuel Pinter, principal, London's Yesodey Hatorah schools for 40 years, in June, 
in London, aged 75; David Lewis, Oxford University professor of ancient history 
and Oxford communal figure, in July, in Oxford, aged 66; Elsie Lady Janner, 
oustanding Jewish communal worker, in July, in London, aged 88; Bernard, Lord 
Delfont of Stepney, one of the three Winogradsky (Grade) brothers powerful in the 
entertainment business, in July, in Angmering, Sussex, aged 84; Frank Muller, 
Institute of Jewish Affairs librarian for 25 years, in August, in London, aged 80; 
Rabbi Isaac Bernstein, controversial minister of Finchley Synagogue, in August, in 
London, aged 54; Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize winner in literature (1981), in August, 
in Zurich, aged 89; Chaim Raphael, Jewish historian, author of mystery stories 
under the nom de plume Jocelyn Davey, and former treasury spokesman, in Octo- 
ber, in London, aged 86; Mary Mikardo, active socialist and Zionist, in October, 
in Manchester, aged 88; Marjorie Moos, Progressive Hebrew teacher, in November, 
in London, aged 100; Julian Symons, crime writer, in November, aged 82; Me- 
shulam Aschkenazi, Hassidic rabbi, in November, in London, aged 92; Haskell 
Isaacs, medical doctor and oriental scholar, in November, in Cambridge, aged 80; 
Keith, Lord Joseph, former Conservative cabinet minister, in December, in London, 
aged 76. 

British Jews who died in the first six months of 1995 included Lord Kagan, 


clothing manufacturer and friend of former prime minister, Harold Wilson, in 
January, in London, aged 79; Harry Golombek, international chess expert, in Janu- 
ary, in London, aged 83; Joseph Grizzard, journalist, in January, in London, aged 
73; Sam Goldsmith, London editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 1958-75, in 
January, in London, aged 84; Miriam Karalova, Yiddish theater leading lady, in 
February, in London, aged 92; Bernard Olivestone, Federation of Synagogues 
staunch supporter, in March, aged 9 1 ; Salli Kesten, founder of the Judaica Philatelic 
Society, in March, in London, aged 84; Dorothy Stone, communal personality, in 
March, in London, aged 86; Sydney Simone, bandleader, in March, in London, aged 
8 1 ; Jacob Weingreen, Hebrew scholar and grammarian, in April, in Dublin, aged 
87; Arnold Abraham, Lord Goodman, British public servant and active patron of 
Jewish causes and Israel, in May, in London, aged 8 1 ; Nathan Rubin, former United 
Synagogue secretary, in May, in Guernsey, aged 74; Harold Berens, comedian, in 
May, in London, aged 92. 

Miriam & Lionel Kochan 

The Netherlands 

National Affairs 

X HE PERIOD UNDER REVIEW — 1994 and the first half of 1995 — en- 
compassed significant local and national elections and the 50th anniversary of the 
liberation of Holland from German occupation in World War II. 

The elections for the Municipal Councils on March 12, 1994, revealed the declin- 
ing popularity of both Labor (PvdA) and the Christian Democrats (CD A), partners 
in the government's ruling coalition for the previous four years. This trend was 
confirmed in the elections for the Second Chamber of Parliament on May 8, in which 
both Labor and the CDA lost considerably. Labor dropping from 49 to 37 seats, 
and the CDA from 54 to 34 seats, thus losing its place as the largest party. The 
center-left D'66 gained spectacularly, going from 12 to 24 seats, and the center-right 
Liberals (WD) from 12 to 21 seats. The extreme right-wing Centrum Democrats 
went from one to three seats, and the more extreme-right C'86 got no seats at all. 

With CDA and PvdA no longer holding a majority in the Second Chamber, a 
new coaHtion was formed, this time of PvdA, D'66, and the WD, with former 
Labor deputy prime minister Willem Kok succeeding Ruud Lubbers (CDA) as 
premier, and Hans van Mierlo of D'66 as deputy prime minister and foreign minis- 
ter. The composition of the new government was rather surprising, since the views 
of Labor and the WD on social issues had always been diametrically opposed. 
Although the PvdA and D'66's campaign slogans called for change, in fact the 
policies of the new government were very similar to those of the previous one. 

Three members of the new Second Chamber, of different parties, were born to two 
Jewish parents, but did not stress their Jewish identity. The new cabinet had no 
members of Jewish origin. 

A lamentable event was the disappearance from political life of Ed van Thijn, a 
Jew, who had been a Labor interior minister in 1981-82, parliamentary Labor 
chairman in 1982-83, and mayor of Amsterdam since 1983, a position he greatly 
loved. When the then Labor minister of the interior died unexpectedly in January 
1994, Labor leader Willem Kok urged Van Thijn to succeed her and to give up his 
position as Amsterdam's mayor. Van Thijn acceded to this appeal, but in May 1994, 
after the parliamentary elections, he and the minister of justice had to resign in 
connection with an alleged scandal in the Amsterdam police for which both men 
were held ultimately responsible. In the meantime, someone else had been appointed 
mayor of Amsterdam, and Van Thijn was not included by Kok in his new cabinet. 

The economy in general showed favorable growth, with low inflation, though 
unemployment remained high, particularly among new immigrants. 



The arrival of persons from Third World countries seeking political asylum in 
Holland continued unabated, in particular after July 1994, when Germany, Bel- 
gium, and France made admission to those countries more difficult. 

V-E Day Anniversary 

Plans for commemorating the end of World War II in May 1945 engendered 
debate over a role for Germany in the events. Fifty years after the end of the war, 
relations between the Netherlands and Germany were still problematic. Public- 
opinion polls showed that prejudice against Germans was prevalent even among 
young people and their parents bom after 1945. At the same time, Germany was 
the main trading partner of the Netherlands. 

In the end, German representatives were not invited to the memorial for the war 
dead on May 4, 1995, nor to the celebration of liberation on May 5, but were invited 
to an international symposium in The Hague on the future of Europe, on May 8. 

German chancellor Helmut Kohl paid an official visit to Holland on May 22- 
23, 1995, primarily to Rotterdam, whose center had been destroyed by German 
Luftwaffe bombardment on May 13, 1940. In his address at the Erasmus University 
in Rotterdam, he called the bombing a crime, as was the entire war unleashed by 
Hitler; he also mentioned the Jewish victims of the Nazis in Holland. 

Numerous events marked the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Nether- 
lands from Nazi occupation — ceremonies, exhibitions, symposia, a large number of 
books (most of them in Dutch), plays, TV and radio documentaries, and the like, 
Some dealt with local history, others with such aspects of the occupation as resist- 
ance, hiding, collaboration, Nazi reprisals, and various battles. 

Many commemorative events paid special attention to the fate of the Jews, 80 
percent of whom — over 102,000 — perished at the hands of the Nazis. One of the 
themes dealt with was the inadequate help given by the large majority of the Dutch 
people. This point was stressed by Queen Beatrix in her official address in The Hague 
on May 5, as it was in her address in the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 28. In her 
speech on May 5 she said, inter aha: "In remembering the Second World War, a 
particular feeling of shame befits us that we did not do more for our Jewish fellow- 
citizens." (See more about her address in the Knesset, below.) Another theme 
presented in many documentaries and programs was the hostility, or at least indiffer- 
ence, with which many of the survivors were met after their return from the camps 
or from hiding, and the difficulties they had regaining their possessions and prop- 

The Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, RIOD, held an interna- 
tional symposium in Amsterdam, April 26-28, 1995, on "Memory and the Second 
World War in Comparative Perspective," with the participation of several scholars 
from abroad. 

(See also "Holocaust Commemoration," below.) 


Israel and the Middle East 

Queen Beatrix and Prince-Consort Claus paid an official three-day visit to Israel, 
March 27-29, 1995, after having made a similar visit to Jordan in December 1994. 
This was the first official visit by a Dutch royal couple to Israel. Beatrix and Claus 
had visited when she was still crown princess, and her mother, Juliana, had visited 
when she was no longer queen, with her husband, Bemhard. But in view of the 
hostile relations between Israel and the Arab world, successive Dutch governments 
had thought it inadvisable for a Dutch head of state to visit Israel. After the signing 
of the Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO, the objections vanished. 

The highlight of the visit was Beatrix's address to the Knesset, which was simulta- 
neously broadcast in full on Dutch TV. Referring to the fact that the large majority 
of the Jews of Holland had perished during World War II, she acknowledged that, 
while many Dutch non-Jews had tried to save Jews at the risk of their own lives, 
they were the exception rather than the rule. (This was intended to debunk the myth 
still current among Israelis and others that nearly the entire Dutch population had 
helped to save the Jews.) The same observation was made by Shevach Weiss, the 
Knesset chairman, in his welcoming address, and had been made the night before 
by President Ezer Weizmann at the official dinner for the royal pair. 

In what was described as a private visit, Beatrix and Claus, at their explicit wish, 
toured the holy places in the Old City of Jerusalem — the Church of the Holy 
Sepulchre, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and the Western Wall. At the same time, Dutch 
foreign minister Hans van Mierlo, who accompanied the royal couple during the 
official part of the trip, visited Yasir Arafat in Gaza and later met with Faisal 
Husseini in Jerusalem. The latter had wanted the meeting to take place in Orient 
House — thePLO's headquarters — but the Israeli authorities objected. The meeting 
took place at the private residence of the Dutch representative to Jericho, who 
resides in Abu Tor, on the border between west and east Jerusalem. 

The Netherlands Department for Development Aid to Third World countries 
paid for 20 Palestinian policemen from the Gaza Strip to undergo training in 
Holland in peaceful methods of riot control. It also donated Fl. 6 million for their 
maintenance in the Gaza Strip, as well as Fl. 6 million for the Palestinian Authority 
and Fl. 1 million for Palestinian universities, primarily Bir Zeit in the West Bank. 

PLO head Yasir Arafat visited Holland on February 17-18, 1994, primarily to 
meet with Nelson Mandela, who was in Holland on an official visit. Arafat visited 
Prime Minister Lubbers, whom he asked to mediate between Israel and the PLO, 
and addressed a meeting of Dutch industrialists, whom he asked to invest in the 
autonomous areas. 

The commission of the Netherlands Aviation Council (RLD) investigating the 
cause or causes of the disaster in which an El Al Boeing 747 cargo aircraft crashed 
over the Bijlmer District of southeast Amsterdam on October 4, 1992, published its 
conclusions on February 24, 1995. The main cause, it found, was the breaking off 
of engine number 3, which in turn dragged with it engine number 4. Israel was 


satisfied with this conclusion. Boeing took full responsibihty; 43 persons had lost 
their lives (including four Israehs — three crew members and a passenger) and four 
had been seriously wounded. Boeing paid damages, some extremely high, to 600 
claimants, many of them recent immigrants. A Dutch joumahst, Vincent Dekker, 
who had followed the disaster from the beginning, pubhshed a book titled Going 
Down, Going Down — the last words of El Al pilot Yitzhak Fuchs before crashing 
— in which he accused El Al of hiding part of the truth. 

At the end of April 1995, the Netherlands ended its participation in the Multina- 
tional Force of Observers in the Sinai, which it had maintained since 1982 with 
communications personnel and mihtary pohce. During these 13 years, some 2,400 
Dutchmen had served in Sinai. 

Anti-Semitism and Extremism 

The extreme right, as represented by the Center Democrats (CD), CP'86, and the 
Nederland Volksfront — the latter two spht-offs of the CD — were, as shown by the 
above-mentioned election results, relatively unimportant and far less influential than 
the Front National in France and the Volksfront of Fihp Dewinter in Belgium. The 
CP'86, which was much more extreme than the CD, tried to stir up anti-immigrant 
sentiment through street demonstrations and marches. In May 1995, the Hague 
district court sentenced five members of the executive of CP'86 to fines of Fl. 10,000 
each for racial discrimination and inciting xenophobia, but did not ban the party 
as such. 

No serious cases of anti-Semitism occurred during the period under review. 
Neither the STIBA (Foundation for Combating Anti-Semitism) nor the CIDI (Cen- 
ter for Information and Documentation on Israel), which was also concerned with 
anti-Semitism, found much occasion for taking action. 

Considerable attention was paid to a controversial book by Evelien Gans, Goyish 
Envy, Jewish Narcissism. Gans, a woman of Jewish origins with strong left-wing 
leanings who had recently regained interest in her Jewish roots, charged that there 
was considerable anti-Semitism in Holland, largely inspired by non-Jewish envy of 
Jews enjoying and exploiting their status as victims. A large part of her book was 
devoted to the columnist Theo van Gogh, whose writings in various media habitu- 
ally ridiculed persons of Jewish origin, primarily the youngish Jewish author Leon 
de Winter, who had brought lawsuits against van Gogh on and off for the past ten 

Van Gogh in turn attacked Gans in his column in the weekly of the University 
of Amsterdam, Folia , using offensive language that led to his dismissal from the 
paper. Van Gogh continued, however, as a columnist for other media, including 
television, claiming his right to "freedom of expression." 



The Netherlands Ashkenazic community (NIK) reported its membership at the 
end of 1994 at 5,620, against 5,703 at the end of 1993. Three fifths, or 3,032 
members, were living in the Amsterdam area, 387 in the Rotterdam area, and 382 
in the Hague area; the remainder were scattered in 9 middle-sized and 2 1 very small 
communities. The membership of the Sephardic community, largely based in Am- 
sterdam, was about five hundred, including recent immigrants from Middle Eastern 
countries. The membership of the Liberal Jewish community (LJG), with six con- 
gregations, was about 2,500. 

Since the total number of Jews or persons of Jewish origin in Holland was 
estimated at between 25,000 and 30,000, this meant that only about one-third 
belonged to the organized religious community. Some 10 percent or so were mem- 
bers of general Jewish groups, such as Maccabi or WIZO. Still others limited their 
Jewish contacts to making use of the services of Jewish welfare organizations to 
apply for benefits to war victims. 

Communal Affairs 

Within the NIK, Rabbi Lody van de Kamp, who had been a communal rabbi of 
The Hague since 1981 and of Amsterdam since 1988, became the rabbi of the 
Ashkenazic community in the Rotterdam area in August 1994. The board of the 
Amsterdam Ashkenazic community (NIHS) decided not to appoint a third rabbi 
as Van de Kamp's successor but to leave the number of communal rabbis at two. 
Sam Behar, age 62, a member of the Sephardic congregation and a former army 
chaplain, was appointed to do pastoral work for 12 hours a week. 

The stability of the NIK and the NIHS was threatened by a rift between a small 
group of ultra-Orthodox Jews, led by former chief rabbi Meir Just and communal 
rabbi Frank Lewis, and the majority, which supported the Orthodox character of 
the community but was more tolerant of different views. The conflict was expressed 
in various issues, one being the institution of more stringent conditions for the 
conversion of a non-Jewish partner in a mixed marriage. 

The conflict between Rabbi Just and the executive of the NIK over the funds 
received by the chief rabbinate for supervision of kosher slaughter was resolved in 
1995. Rabbi Just had claimed that he was entitled to use these funds at his own 
discretion, specifically to finance a preparatory yeshivah for two 14-year-old boys 
who later were to attend a yeshivah abroad. The parties agreed that the money 
belonged to the NIK as such and not to the chief rabbinate, but that the NIK should 
use it mainly for strengthening religous activities among Dutch Jewry (though not 
to educate the two boys). 

Rabbi Shmuel Katzmann, age 27, originally from New York and a son-in-law of 


Rabbi Isaac Vorst of Amsterdam, was appointed a second Ashkenazi rabbi in The 
Hague, primarily in charge of the Scheveningen congregation and the recently 
opened Jewish old-age home there. Katzmann and the earlier appointed rabbi 
Pinchas Meijers, and Rabbi Vorst all belonged to Chabad-Lubavitch. Meijers and 
Katzmann both received their training at Chabad institutions abroad. 

In Amsterdam, the small synagogue in Linnaeus Street in the eastern part of the 
city was closed down for lack of worshipers. Most of the congregants had moved 
to the south of the city, where the suburb of Amstelveen now had the main concen- 
tration of Jews. For the same reason, the Sephardic community bought a house in 
Amstelveen where services could be held. The Sephardic community appointed 
24-year-old Mordechai Enekar, born in Morocco, as assistant rabbi. He received his 
training at the Gateshead Yeshivah in England. 

The David Henriques de Castro Foundation was established to raise money for 
the restoration of the tombstones in the nearly 400-year-old Sephardic cemetery at 
Ouderkerk, southeast of Amsterdam. Henriques de Castro was the author of a 
monumental work on the tombstones of this burial ground, written a century ago. 

A conflict arose in the Liberal Jewish synagogue in Amsterdam about the wearing 
of a tallit (prayer shawl) by women during services. A number of women, largely 
from the United States or otherwise newcomers to the community, had introduced 
this custom, to which the majority of the established members objected. It was 
agreed that Rabbi David Lilienthal would help decide each case individually. 

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Liberal Jewish monthly Levend 
Joods Geloof, a symposium was held in Amsterdam in January 1995 on the theme 
"Europe, A Many-coloured Coat," on the contributions Jews have made to Euro- 
pean civilization. 

The new building of the Cheider, the strictly Orthodox Jewish school, was oi- 
cially dedicated on February 2, 1994, at an impressive ceremony attended by Prin- 
cess Margriet. It had been unofficially in use since November 1993. 

A new Jewish old-age home, the Mr. L.E. Visser Home, was opened in Schevenin- 
gen near The Hague, to replace the Jewish old-age home in Rotterdam. It contains 
a synagogue that also serves residents and tourists in this seaside resort and replaces 
the former synagogue at the Harstenhoekway, which was closed down. Many 
months after the official opening of the Visser Home, some 20 rooms were still 
unoccupied for lack of candidates. 

JMW opened a second house in Amsterdam for the temporary accommodation 
of Jews applying for asylum in Holland whose applications had not yet been acted 
on. At the same time, beginning in December 1994, JMW ceased giving legal 
assistance to applicants for asylum in Holland who came from Russia and claimed 
to be Jews but were not, having made use of forged papers or of papers they bought. 

WIZO Holland was host to the European WIZO conference, December 11-12, 
1994, which had as its theme "Equal Rights for Women." With funds collected in 
Holland, WIZO opened a center in the Arab village of Rihaniyah in Galilee. 

The European branch of the International Council of Jewish Women held a 


conference in Amsterdam in the Liberal Jewish Center in March 1995, with the 
participation of women from 22 European countries, on the theme "Jewish Identity 
Under Pressure." 

Holocaust Commemoration 

The centralJewish commemoration of the end of World War II and the liberation 
of Holland, organized jointly by the three Jewish communities — Ashkenazic, 
Sephardic, and Liberal — was held in the Sephardic Esnoga in Amsterdam on 
Sunday afternoon May 7, 1995, almost 50 years to the day that the first synagogue 
service in liberated Amsterdam took place in the same sanctuary, which, as a 
protected monument, had been left untouched by the Germans. Those taking part 
then, with the late Rabbi Justus Tal conducting the service, had just emerged from 
their hiding places in the Amsterdam area, largely still unaware of the fate of their 
dear ones. 

The Esnoga was also chosen for the present event because it is the largest syna- 
gogue building in Amsterdam — to its 1 , 100 seats were added benches so that overall 
it could accommodate 1 ,400. Tickets were no longer available a fortnight before the 

Although Yizkor and Kaddish were recited, as well as prayers for the royal family 
and for the State of Israel, this was not a religious service. Former chief rabbi Meir 
Just had objected to participating in a reUgious service together with representatives 
of the Liberal Jewish community and had even forbidden Chief Cantor Hans Bloe- 
mendal to officiate. The solution found was to have Bloemendal sing as a soloist in 
the synagogue choir, but not as hazzan . The dispute received much publicity, in the 
general as well as the Jewish press. 

The impressive ceremony was attended by Prince-Consort Claus, by Crown 
Prince Willem-Alexander, by Premier Willem Kok, who was one of the speakers, 
and by the Israeli ambassador. The entire event lasted over an hour and was shown 
in full on Dutch television. Other speakers were Rabbi Barend Drukarch, of the 
Sephardic community, who as a young man had survived in hiding in Amsterdam, 
and former mayor of Amsterdam Ed van Thijn. 

The commemoration of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) on April 26, 
1995, took place, as it had for many years, in the courtyard of the Hollandsche 
Schouwburg, the former Amsterdam theater that was used by the Germans from 
September 1942 to September 1944 as a collecting point for Jews who had been 
rounded up and were awaiting transport to Westerbork, a concentration camp. The 
annual ceremony, which is organized jointly by several Jewish congregations and 
organizations and is always attended by representatives of the civil authorities, 
including the present mayor of Amsterdam, Schelto Patijn, was unusually well 
attended this time. 

A few weeks earUer, on April 12, a ceremony took place at Westerbork, in the 
east of the country, to commemorate its liberation exactly 50 years earlier by 


Canadian soldiers. Among those present were survivors, representatives of the 
Israeli and German embassies, and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. At the time 
of liberation only 800 Jews were still in the camp. The other nearly 100,000 who 
had stayed there at one time or another had all been deported to extermination 
camps in the east, and only 6,000 of them survived. Also memorialized were the 245 
Gypsies who in June 1943 had been rounded up and taken to Westerbork and then 
to the east, of whom only a few dozen survived. 


In connection with the 50th anniversary of liberation, a number of memorial 
tablets were unveiled for local Jews who had perished. These were, among others, 
in The Hague at the site of a former Jewish center; in Dinxperlo, at the site of the 
former synagogue; in Bois-le-Duc, for the pupils of the Jewish school who had 
perished; and in the village of Gennep. 

In November 1994, the small synagogue of Middelburg, which had been de- 
stroyed 50 years earlier by a British shell during the battle for the island of Walch- 
eren, was renovated, thanks to the efforts of a local, largely non-Jewish, committee. 
As very few Jews now lived in the entire province of Zealand, it would also be used 
as a cultural center. On January 30, 1995, the 18th-century synagogue of Amers- 
foort, which had been in bad repair and been renovated, likewise largely through 
local efforts, was rededicated. 

Among many exhibitions related to the war were "Children in Westerbork" at 
the Westerbork Center; "Rebel mijn hart" (Rebel, my heart) at the Resistance 
Museum in Amsterdam, devoted to artists who lost their lives during the German 
occupation either in the resistance or because they were Jews; and an exhibition of 
art by Art Spiegelman for his Maus books at the Jewish Historical Museum in 

A number of documentaries on the suffering of the Jews from Holland during the 
years 1940-45 were presented by various Dutch broadcasting companies, both on 
TV and radio. Some had been shown earlier, such as these two by Willy Lindwer: 
The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank and Child in Two Worlds, about the reactions 
of Jewish children to their stay with non-Jewish foster parents. 

A new production by Willy Lindwer was The Fatal Dilemma, a balanced look 
at the much maligned "Joodsche Raad" (Jewish Council) that was established by 
order of the Germans and that was accused after the war of having collaborated and 
cooperated in the deportation of most Jews from Holland. A book on the subject 
was published simultaneously. 

Settela , a documentary by Aad Wagenaar, a journalist, contended that the girl 
in a well-known picture — wearing a head scarf and looking out of a train wagon 
in Westerbork just as the doors were about to close — was not Jewish but a Gypsy 
girl, Settela Steinbach. On June 16, 1944, she was deported from Westerbork, 
together with 244 other Gypsies. The picture was a still from a film about Wester- 


bork made at the order of the Nazi camp commander by the German-Jewish 
filmmaker Rudolf Breslauer, who himself was deported on September 4, 1 944. 

Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List was the most popular film in Holland in 1994. 
It was launched at a gala premiere, the proceeds of which went to the Anne Frank 
Foundation to help fund the worldwide showing of its documentary The World of 
Anne Frank. 

The Survivors of the Shoah Project of the Spielberg Visual History Foundation, 
which records the personal stories of survivors, was launched in Holland in Febru- 
ary 1995. Some 120 interviewers were selected from 200 applicants, most of them 
non-Jewish. The goal was to interview about a thousand survivors from Holland, 
but by the end of May only 85 persons had shown an interest in being included. 

The Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem continued to honor Righteous Gentiles 
in Holland. The ceremony held on June 6, 1995, at which 19 awards were presented, 
10 of them posthumously, had a very special character, because of the 50th anniver- 
sary of liberation. It took place in the Sephardic Esnoga in Amsterdam, which was 
filled to capacity, and was jointly organized by the Israeli embassy, the Ashkenazic, 
Sephardic, and Liberal Jewish communities, and the Friends of Yad Vashem Soci- 
ety. The awards were presented by the director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, A. 
Shalev. The speakers were Minister of Defense Joris Voorhoeve and Rabbi Be- 
nyamin Jacobs. A special feature of the event was a video presentation in which each 
of the rescuers, or one of his or her children , and one of the Jews he or she had helped 
to survive, told of their shared experiences. 

The much disputed proposal to give a Yad Vashem award to Alfons ZUndler, the 
German guard at the Hollandse Schouwburg in 1942-43 who had helped several 
Jews to escape but who had been a member of the SS, continued to arouse protest 
from an ad hoc action committee. Yad Vashem eventually decided to send him a 
letter of thanks but not to give him an award. 

At the end of April 1995, a reunion took place in Amsterdam between Luba 
Tryczynskaja, now living in Miami, Florida, and the 50 or so Jewish children she 
had helped to survive in Bergen Belsen, after their parents had been deported from 
there in December 1994. "The angel of Bergen Belsen," as she was called, received 
the Silver Medal of the Municipality of Amsterdam. 

On May 7, 1995, prior to the central Jewish commemoration of VE-Day in the 
Esnoga, the Genootschap voor de Joodse Wetenschap, the Jewish Historical Soci- 
ety, organized a symposium on "Dutch Jewry 1945-2020," which was attended by 
some 180 persons. The symposium was also held to celebrate the 75th anniversary 
of the society, which was established in 1919 by a small group of Jewish scholars 
engaged in Jewish studies. The society was now open to all interested Jewish 
university graduates and had a membership of about 350. Meetings were held about 
eight times a year. 

The Jewish women's organization Deborah, in connection with the commemora- 
tions of the 50th anniversary of liberation, organized a symposium on "Jewish 
Women in the Resistance Movement." 


Other Holocaust-Related Matters 

Following the lead of the Second Chamber of Parliament, the Senate voted on 
July 7, 1994, to cease giving permanent payments under the Law for Payments to 
War Victims (WUV) to members of the second and later generations, those born 
after World War II. Financial support for psychiatric treatment would be con- 
tinued, however. The Jewish Social Welfare Foundation (JMW), the Organization 
of Second Generation Victims, and the three main Jewish communities protested, 
as did the Organization of Jewish War Victims from Holland in Israel, Ayalah. 

JMW began organizing programs for Jews still feeling the effects, in one way or 
another, of their experiences during the years 1940-45. In March 1994, it offered 
a well-attended conference on "The Jewish Child During the War," for members 
of the first, second, and third generations. In May it presented a conference in The 
Hague for the same constituency on "Speaking About Silence," which was attended 
by some 400 persons and was opened by the minister of social welfare. The confer- 
ence received much attention in the media. 

The Anne Frank Foundation, which is not a Jewish institution, received permis- 
sion from the Amsterdam municipality to expand the Anne Frank House by demol- 
ishing some adjoining houses. The Anne Frank House had become much too small 
to accommodate the thousands of visitors a day (some 600,000 a year), with long 
queues always waiting outside. The costs of the reconstruction, which were es- 
timated at some $ 10 million, would be defrayed partly by the Amsterdam municipal- 
ity and partly, it was expected, by sponsors. 


The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam continued to receive a large num- 
ber of visitors. In the period under review, it opened one semi-permanent exhibition, 
which would be on view for the next five years, on the participation of Jews in the 
economic life of the Netherlands since 1796, and four temporary exhibits. One 
offered some 40 paintings by the German-Jewish painter FeHx Nussbaum (1904- 
1944), organized with the cooperation of the Kulturgeschichtliches Museum in 
Osnabruck, where he was born and grew up. His parents moved to Amsterdam after 
Kristallnacht in 1938 and were eventually deported; the artist and his wife lived in 
Brussels, from where, in 1944, he too was deported. Another temporary exhibition 
was of sketches by Art Spiegelman for his cartoon novels Maus I and II, and a third 
consisted of photographs of monuments and posters created by Dutch- Jewish artist 
Ralph Prins, born in 1926, both for Jewish memorials and for Amnesty Interna- 

The fourth and most important of the temporary exhibitions was titled "The 
Marginal Great," featuring works of some 60 Dutch-Jewish painters who were 
active between 1845 and 1940. The works were either on loan for the exhibition or 
were in the possession of the museum but not usually shown to the public. There 


were paintings by both well-known and lesser-known painters, and only some of the 
works had explicit Jewish subjects. 

An International Jewish Music Festival was held in Amsterdam, November 16- 
29, 1994, with special attention to klezmer music. Among the performers was the 
American Klezmer Conservatory Band. 


A large number of books published in 1994 and early 1995, nearly all of them 
in Dutch only, were personal accounts by Jews of their wartime experiences. 

Two new noteworthy books not related to the Holocaust, written entirely or 
partly in English, were From Peddlers to Factory Owners: Jewish Enterprises in the 
Netherlands 1796-1940, edited by Hetty Berg and others, a companion to the 
exhibition in the Jewish Historical Museum; and Treasures of Jewish Booklore, 
containing 50 contributions by specialists in their own fields on rare books in the 
possession of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, the Hebraica and Judaica department 
of the Amsterdam University Library. The magnificently produced, illustrated vol- 
ume was published on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Leeser 
Rosenthal (1794-1868), whose library forms the nucleus of the present Bibliotheca 
Rosenthaliana and was presented by his heirs to the Amsterdam municipality. 

Geoffrey Wigoder's Joodse Cultuur, a richly illustrated work, appeared in Dutch 
translation before its publication in the original English. 

Popular novelist Leon de Winter was invited by the Commission for the Promo- 
tion of the Dutch Book (CPNB) to write the "Book Week Present" for 1995, a 
96-page paperback given free of charge to anyone spending a specified amount 
during the annual Book Week. Like previous works, his new novella. Serenade, 
deals with a Jewish theme. It is about a Jewish woman, the mother of the "I" who 
is more or less the alter ego of the author, a survivor of the Holocaust, who suddenly 
disappears into Bosnia where she wants to help the victims — a most improbable plot 
in which sex plays a large part. Despite some protests over the sexual content, the 
Ministry of Education distributed 200,000 copies to high-school students — linking 
it to the 50th anniversary of Dutch liberation. 


Gerhard L. Durlacher received the 1995 Anne Frank Prize of the Anne Frank 
Fund in Basle as well as the AKO Prize (Dutch booksellers) for his novel Quaran- 
taine, based on his experiences on returning from the concentration camps to 
Holland. A sociologist by profession, who began writing about his wartime experi- 
ences when he was in his fifties, he was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the 
University of Amsterdam. 

OttoTreumann, aged 75, a graphic designer, was honored by the Foundation for 
the Graphic Arts for his life's work. In addition to commissions for non-Jewish 


organizations, he designed a "logo" for El Al and designs for many Jewish organiza- 
tions in Holland, such as the Jewish National Fund. 

In the Queen's Birthday List for 1995, the award of Officer in the Order of 
Orange-Nassau was given to, among others. Prof Hans Bloemendal, chief cantor 
of the Ashkenazic congregation of Amsterdam; Mrs. R. ("Ted") Musaph (nee 
Andriesse), inter alia chairwoman of the board of governors of the Jewish Historical 
Museum; and Rabbi Avraham Soetendorp, the Liberal rabbi of The Hague. 

Mrs. Anna Cohn (nee Erwteman) became chairwoman of the European branch 
of WIZO. Jaap Meijers and Herman Menco were succeeded as chairman and 
honorary treasurer of the United Israel Campaign by Joseph Elburg and Dick 
Bruinsma, respectively. 

Among prominent Dutch Jews who died in 1994 and the first half of 1995 were 
Prof Ivo Samkalden, a former minister of justice and from 1967 to 1977 mayor of 
Amsterdam, aged 82; Manuel Ph. Menco, for 23 years chairman of the Jewish 
community of Groninguen and at the time of his death a member of the executive 
of the Netherlands Ashkenazi community, aged 68; Edna Rafaelowitz, Polish-bom, 
with her late husband one of the champions of Yiddish in Holland, aged 82; 
Hermann Bleich, Polish-born journalist who came to Holland in 1938 and after 1945 
became Dutch correspondent for many Swiss and German papers and for the Israeli 
Ma'ariv as well as chairman of the Association of Foreign Correspondents in 
Holland, aged 78; and in Israel, Aaron Schuster, chief rabbi of Amsterdam from 
1953 to 1972, a founder of the Conference of European Rabbis, aged 89. 

Henriette Boas 


National Affairs 


Italian public life in 1994 and early 1995 was marked by tempest 
and turmoil. Italians went to the polls in the wake of three years of corruption 
investigations and political upheaval that destroyed the political parties that had 
ruled the country since World War II and disgraced numerous luminaries. Parlia- 
mentary elections were held March 27, 1994, coinciding with the first day of Pass- 
over. Following Jewish and other protests, state authorities extended voting until 
after sundown on March 28 so that observant Jews could vote. 

The elections caused grave concern in the Jewish community. They brought a 
stunning victory to a center-right "Freedom Alliance" coalition headed by media 
magnate Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi, who only entered politics in January 1994, 
allied his new Forza Italia party with the federalist Northern League and the 
National Alliance — a new right-wing party based on the neofascist Italian Social 
Movement (MSI) and led by MSI leader Gianfranco Fini. National Alliance candi- 
date Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of II Duce, trounced her opposition to 
win a Parliament seat in Naples. Berlusconi's 25-member cabinet included five 
members from the National Alliance, three of whom were MSI members. This 
marked the first time in postwar Europe that members of a neofascist party entered 
government, and the development drew protest and warning from many quarters 
within Italy and abroad. Italian officials went out of their way to play down this 
concern and reiterate their belief in the democratic process. In May, for example. 
Foreign Minister Antonio Martino met with Jewish leaders in Washington to reas- 
sure them that the government was not extremist. 

The new president of the Chamber of Deputies, Irene Pivetti, also caused some 
initial concern. A fundamentalist Catholic, Pivetti had been cited for anti-Semitic 
writings in the Institute of Jewish Affairs' 1993 Anti-Semitism World Report. Two 
months after she took office in April, Pivetti met with Rome chief rabbi Elio Toaff 
and Israeli ambassador Avi Pazner, who also met with Foreign Minister Martino. 

In August, Labor Minister Clemente Mastella sparked accusations of anti-Semi- 
tism against Berlusconi's government when newspapers quoted him as blaming the 
weakness of the lira at least partly on New York Jewish financiers. "The presence 
of the National Alliance in the government worries New York's Jewish lobby," 
Mastella was quoted as saying. "Jewish high finance still does not get the distinction 
between the old [neo-fascist] Italian Social Movement and the National Alliance. 
We should explain to them that the evolutionary line carried forward by Gianfranco 
Fini is increasingly distant from the old concept of a static and nostalgic right." 



Mastella apologized for his remarks, saying that they had been taken out of 
context and misinterpreted by the media. He had what the Labor Ministry termed 
a "long and friendly conversation" with Chief Rabbi Toaff to "[clarify] the sense 
of the words which when distorted provoked an unjustified row." Toaff accepted the 
explanation but warned of what he believed was rising anti-Semitism in Italy. 

Berlusconi was forced to resign in December, after being notified that he was 
under investigation for corruption and after the Northern League pulled out of the 
coaUtion. A government of technocrats headed by banker Lamberto Dini, which did 
not include neofascists, took over. Meanwhile, in a national convention in late 
January 1995, Fini formally cut National Alliance links with the MSI and declared 
the National Alliance a mainstream rightist party that rejected racism and extrem- 
ism. Some hard-line MSI members refused to go along and maintained their own 
small party. 

Jews tended to remain skeptical of the change in the National Alliance and wary 
of Fini, however. In February 1995, the Martin Buber-Jews for Peace group, a 
political-cultural organization dedicated to combating racism and anti-Semitism 
and promoting Jewish cultural activities and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, issued an 
open letter to American Jewish groups urging them not to meet with Fini if he 
traveled to the United States. 

In regional elections in April 1995, right-wing forces, including the National 
Alliance, did far worse than expected, with center-left candidates scoring impressive 
victories. Jewish leaders expressed satisfaction at this. 

Israel and the Middle East 

The dramatic changes in Italy's political system and ruling elite in the wake of 
the wide-ranging corruption scandals combined to create a closer relationship be- 
tween Italy and Israel. The foreign poHcy of Italy's previous governments, domi- 
nated by the Christian Democratic Party, was overtly pro- Arab and pro-Palestinian, 
and the left-wing Communist opposition was also strongly anti-Zionist. 

The evolution of a new poHtical leadership — paralleUng the positive evolution of 
the Middle East peace process — influenced a change in foreign policy direction to 
one noticeably friendlier to Israel. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign 
Minister Shimon Peres both visited Italy in 1994. In the late spring and early 
summer of 1995, Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli arranged to host secret Israeli- 
Palestinian negotiations in several locations in Italy. 

Vatican-Israel Relations 

Events unfolded rapidly following the agreement between Israel and the Vatican 
to estabUsh full diplomatic relations, signed December 30, 1993. Three weeks after 
the agreement was signed. Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo was 
named the Vatican's first envoy to Israel, and veteran Israeli diplomat Shmuel 

ITALY / 269 

Hadas was named Israel's first envoy to the Holy See. Italian-born Lanza di Mon- 
tezemelo, 68, had considerable experience in the Middle East and at the time of his 
nomination was serving as the Holy See's Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and 
Palestine and as the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Cyprus. 

In early February 1994, a huge interfaith conference brought 750 Christian and 
Jewish leaders from 92 nations to Jerusalem, among them senior Vatican officials. 
Israeli prime minister Rabin met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in March 
1994 and asked him to use the Vatican's influence with the PLO and Arab states 
to get the Middle East peace process back on track. At the meeting Rabin also 
renewed Israel's invitation for the pope to visit Israel. No specific dates were 
mentioned, but a Vatican spokesman said the pope accepted the invitation "with the 
sincere hope that circumstances will permit him to make this desired visit." Foreign 
Minister Shimon Peres also reiterated the invitation during a meeting with the pope 
at the Vatican in November 1994. During 1994 and early 1995, John Paul several 
times said he wanted to visit Israel and the Holy Land and walk in biblical footsteps, 
particularly as the year 2000 approached. 

Full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel were finally formalized 
in June 1994, and Lanza di Montezemolo and Hadas were confirmed as ambassa- 
dors. Two weeks later, the Dead Sea Scrolls went on display at the Vatican, marking 
the first time the scrolls had been exhibited in Europe, and the first time that an 
official Israeli exhibition had gone on show at the Vatican. 

Meanwhile, the Vatican also improved its relations with the Arab world. The 
Vatican established diplomatic relations with Jordan on March 3, 1994. In mid- 
January 1994, a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization met with 
senior officials at the Vatican in a move to open more regular contacts between them, 
which led to formal diplomatic ties being established in October. The links fell short, 
however, of full diplomatic relations. 

Racism and Anti-Semitism 

Racist attacks, skinhead activities, and manifestations of anti-Semitism worried 
Jews and non-Jews alike. Concern was also raised by a form of revisionism mani- 
fested in a growing trend to depict wartime fascists as victims on a par with the 
victims or opponents of fascism. The reevaluation of fascism and its legacy became 
a subject of widespread debate in the media and in political and intellectual circles. 

In December 1994, for example, an organization of fascist war veterans put up 
about 1,000 posters bearing a large portrait of Mussolini on Milan walls. This was 
to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the ItaHan Social Repub- 
lic, Mussolini's fascist puppet state set up in 1944 in northern Italy after the Allies 
took over the southern part of Italy. The placing of the posters was approved by 
city officials but sparked protest from opposition parties. Independent Milan city 
councilman Nando Dalla Chiesa branded the posters an example of the "irresponsi- 
ble institutional legitimization of those who were accomplices of the tragedy of the 


Holocaust." In March 1995, a group of 11 Italian historians touched off a related 
debate in some intellectual circles by writing a letter to La Stampa newspaper 
defending the right of Holocaust deniers and revisionists to publish their beliefs, 
calling it a free-speech issue. The letter was in response to the decision by the French 
government, following other governments, to ban such publications. 

Numerous incidents of racist violence and vandalism and skinhead activity were 
publicly condemned by Jewish leaders. In February 1994, the Union of Italian 
Jewish Communities (UCEI) issued a strong denunciation of "the acts of racism 
against immigrants and refugees that take place almost every day in Italy." Most 
racist incidents involved dark-skinned immigrants, but there were also some specifi- 
cally anti-Semitic episodes. In one such episode, in early January 1994, a local priest 
in Rome, Don Curzio Nitoglia, delivered a sermon with a strong anti-Semitic 
message during a service held to commemorate the killing of three neofascist youths 
16 years earlier. The priest's remarks were in sharp contrast to the overall positive 
developments in Jewish-Christian relations and came just a few days after Israel and 
the Vatican signed an agreement paving the way to full diplomatic relations. Also 
in January, a Rome court sentenced a 22-year-old youth to four months in jail for 
anti-Semitic vandalism amounting to "apologizing for genocide," then released him 
on conditional liberty. His conviction was for actions in November 1992, when a 
group of skinheads stuck up adhesive signs bearing a star of David and slogans such 
as "Zionists out of Italy" on a number of shops belonging to Jews in a Rome 
neighborhood. A Norwegian Jewish woman living in the central Italian town of 
Assisi was attacked twice — once in August 1994 and again in January 1995— in 
assaults apparently motivated by anti-Semitism. 

In May 1994, a rally by 300 skinheads was held in the northern city of Vicenza 
with the authorization of Vicenza's police chief, prompting outrage and protest both 
locally and nationwide. The police chief and another official were removed from 
their positions. One week after the skinhead rally, about 3,000 people staged an 
antiskinhead demonstration in Vicenza. The demonstration, however, was maned 
by violent incidents between ultra-left-wing demonstrators and rightists, despite a 
heavy police presence. 

In 1995, a bar owner in Bolzano in northern Italy touched off a furor by selling 
bottles of red wine labeled with the pictures of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. 
Bolzano is the capital of Italy's Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, region, which was part 
of Austria until World War I and has a mixed German and Italian-speaking popula- 
tion. The South Tyrolean People's Party, which represents German speakers in Alto 
Adige, tried to have the bar owner prosecuted for selling his Mussolini wine, but 
a judge ruled that the wine label did not contravene Italian laws against fascist 

Researchers at the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDEQ in 
Milan kept careful track of racist and anti-Semitic trends, manifestations, and 
publications. A research center largely devoted to studies and documentation on the 
Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Italy, CDEC marked its 40th year of operation in 

ITALY / 271 

Nazi War Criminals 

The case of Erich Priebke and efforts by Italian authorities to have him extradited 
to Italy from Argentina to face war-crimes charges was a developing issue of major 
concern. Priebke, an SS captain and deputy to Herbert Kappler, the Gestapo chief 
during the Nazi occupation of Rome, was tracked down in early May 1994 in the 
Argentine Andean town of San Carlo Bariloche by ABC News. Italy asked that 
Priebke, 81, be extradited on charges of involvement in the massacre at the Ardea- 
tine Caves of 335 Romans, 75 of them Jews, carried out in March 1944 in reprisal 
fora partisan attack that killed 33 German storm troopers in Rome. Priebke escaped 
from a British prisoner-of-war camp in 1948, just before he was to appear before 
a war-crimes tribunal, and fled to Argentina. As of May 1995, Argentine authorities 
said Priebke would be extradited, but no date was set. In the wake of the Priebke 
case, an Italian magazine claimed in late May 1994 that nine Nazi war criminals 
either currently lived or had lived at one time in Italy with impunity since World 
War II. 



Some 35,000-40,000 Jews lived in Italy. There were more than a score of orga- 
nized Jewish communities, only one of them, Naples, south of Rome. Most Italian 
Jews lived in the country's two main cities: 15,000 in Rome and 10,000 in Milan. 
The other communities ranged from a few dozen to just over 1,000 Jews, and a 
number of other Jews lived scattered in towns and cities without organized commu- 
nity facilities. 

Communal Affairs 

In July 1994, delegates from all Italian Jewish communities gathered in Rome for 
the Congress of the Rome-based Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), the 
umbrella organization of Italian Jewry. The congress is held every four years to elect 
officials and chart Italian Jewry's official policy for the next four years: policy within 
the community, relations with Italian society at large, and formal relations with 
state institutions. The three-day congress was given wide coverage in the Italian 
media. Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro opened the meetings with a speech 
underlining the importance of Jewish culture in Italian life. 

Delegates elected a new council and retained Tullia Zevi as president of the union. 
The first woman president of the organization, she had served in that office since 

Delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling for vigilance against right-wing 
extremism and neofascism in Italy and urging international Jewish organizations to 


consider local Jewish opinion before meeting with right-wing Italian politicians. The 
resolution warned that "the theory of historical revisionism today finds grounds for 
legitimization in the creation of a 'gray zone' in which the struggle for liberation 
and Nazi-Fascism, and thus democracy and barbarism, are being placed on the same 

Other resolutions dealt with financial matters and fund-raising; urged decentrali- 
zation of UCEI activities; reiterated support for Israel in the peace process; recom- 
mended a solution be found for small communities that have no rabbi and few 
Jewish facilities; proposed plans for enhancing Jewish cultural and educational 
activities; and urged greater collaboration between the Beth Dins (rabbinical courts) 
in Milan and Rome, particularly on such matters as dietary laws and conversion. 
Resolutions also dealt with the problems (financial and other) of safeguarding the 
Jewish cultural heritage in Italy, suggested compilation of a catalogue of Jewish 
artistic and cultural treasures, and urged formal coordination among the growing 
number of Jewish museums in Italy. 

The year 1 994 saw the growth of Jewish community centers in Italy, particularly 
the center in Rome, which programmed many activities, courses, lectures, and social 
events. There was also a strengthening of relations and activities linking Italian Jews 
and other Jewish communities in the Mediterranean region. This took place within 
the framework of a Mediterranean regional group sponsored by the European 
Council of Jewish Communities and initiated at the end of 1993. 

Numerous Jewish organizations of all types operated in Italy. These included 
WIZO, ORT, Hashomer Hatzair, Keren Hayesod-Hamagbith (UJA), Keren 
Kayemeth Leisrael (Jewish National Fund), the Union of Young Zionists, the 
Italian Jewish Youth Federation, the Italian Sephardic Federation, and the Martin 
Buber-Jews for Peace group, a politically active organization of young adults. 

In addition, there were organizations specifically dedicated to relations between 
Italy and Italians, Jewish or not, and Israel. The Federation of Italy-Israel Associa- 
tions, founded in 1989 to spread knowledge of Israel in Italy, included 50 chapters 
throughout the country, with a total of 2,000 members. The Europe-Israel Associa- 
tion, formed informally during the Gulf War to disseminate correct information 
about Israel, was officially constituted in 1992. It sponsored a wide range of events 
and initiatives aimed at making Israel and the Jewish experience better known in 

Principal Jewish publications included Shalom, the magazine of the Rome Jewish 
community; The Bulletin of the Milan Jewish community; Ha Kehilah , the newslet- 
ter of the Turin Jewish community; and Rassegna Mensile d'Israel, an intellectual 
and literary monthly published in Rome, which celebrated its 70th year of publica- 
tion in 1995. 

Italian Jewish communities faced a number of challenges, many of them related 
to the small size of the community as a whole. An officer of the Rome Jewish 
community described assimilation and intermarriage as a "serious problem," but 
said that many children of mixed marriages were brought up as Jews. (The intermar- 

ITALY / 273 

riage rate was about 50 percent, comparable to the rest of Europe.) In March 1994, 
about 70 people from European countries and Israel took part in a strictly kosher 
Jewish singles weekend at a Milan hotel, organized by Armonia, Italy's first Jewish 
matchmaking organization, set up 18 months earlier. Among many other Jewish 
youth activities sponsored by communities and organizations was a gathering of 70 
young people from Rome, Milan, and Barcelona at a thermal resort in Tuscany, 
April 29-May 1, 1995, for a seminar on "Friendship and Sexuality," organized by 
the Jewish community of Milan. Speakers included a rabbi, a doctor, and a psychol- 


The ritual orientation of Italian Jews was Orthodox, with communities divided 
among Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Italian Jewish rites. Many of the Sephardim in 
today's communities, particularly in Rome and Milan, immigrated over the past 30 
years from North Africa and the Middle East. There was no chief rabbi for all of 
Italy, but Rome's chief rabbi, Elio ToafF, was a nationally known figure, highly 
respected among non-Jews as well as Jews. 

Chabad Lubavitch, which had a decades-long presence in Italy, became accepted 
as a more "mainstream" part of the Italian Jewish scene, thanks to a change in 
policy by the Italian Rabbinical Assembly, which accorded a seat in the assembly 
to a Lubavitch rabbi and sought to foster better relations. Chabad's activities were 
mainly in Milan and Rome (Chabad marked 1 8 years of activity in Rome with a 
gala dinner in March 1995). In Venice, home to only 500 or so Jews, a Lubavitch 
rabbi and his wife had opened a Chabad house in the Ghetto in the early '90s, selling 
books and kosher supplies. During Hanukkah, they set up a huge menorah in a 
gondola and took it around Venice's canals. 

Jewish-Catholic Relations 

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah), on April 7, 1994, Pope 
John Paul II hosted an unprecedented concert at the Vatican to commemorate the 
Holocaust. Some 7,500 people, including cardinals, diplomats, Jewish Holocaust 
survivors, and numerous political and religious leaders, attended the event at the 
modernistic Pope Paul VI Hall, where the pope holds general audiences, and mil- 
lions more saw it on international television. The concert was conceived and con- 
ducted by American Jewish maestro Gilbert Levine, who for several years was 
conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic in Poland. The actor Richard Dreyfuss 
recited Kaddish in an excerpt from Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony. Other 
musical works performed were by Beethoven, Bruch, and Schubert. At the conclu- 
sion of the concert the pope spoke eloquently about the Holocaust and called for 
a long moment of silence in commemoration 

Two new American cardinals appointed by the pope in October 1994, William 


Keeler of Baltimore and Adam Maida of Detroit, were considered friendly to the 
Jewish community. Keeler, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bish- 
ops, had long been involved in Catholic-Jewish dialogue. 

In July 1 994, the pope angered and perplexed Jews by naming former Austrian 
president Kurt Waldheim a "papal knight." Waldheim, a former secretary-general 
of the United Nations, was a Nazi intelligence officer in the Balkans during World 
War II and had been implicated in the deportations of Jews and reprisal killings of 
anti-Nazi partisans in the region. 

On the occasion of the Day of Christian- Jewish Dialogue, January 16, 1994, a 
meeting was held in the northern city of Bergamo to launch a campaign to create 
a forest of 10,000 trees in Israel in memory of Pope John XXIII and Jules Isaac, 
a French Jewish historian who lost his family in the Holocaust and who after the 
war promoted Christian-Jewish dialogue. The meeting was sponsored by the diocese 
of Bergamo, Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (Jewish National Fund), and the Federation 
of Italy-Israel Associations. 

The year 1995 marked the 30th anniversary of the landmark Vatican document 
"Nostra Aetate," which opened the way to modem Catholic-Jewish dialogue. In 
February 1995, American Jewish Committee leaders met with the pope at the 
Vatican to mark the anniversary. At the meeting they asked him to issue an encycli- 
cal condemning anti-Semitism. 

Holocaust-Related Matters 

Educating young Italians about Judaism and recent history, including the Holo- 
caust and World War II, was a continuing concern of Italian Jews. In early 1995, 
a survey of 1,000 Italian young people between the ages of 16 and 24, carried out 
by the Italian Federation of Psychologists and the Jewish Museum in Casale, 
showed them to be ignorant of recent history, including the Holocaust and Italy's 
World War II experience. According to reports of the survey published in the Italian 
press, 28 percent of those questioned thought a "pogrom" was a Jewish holiday, 
nearly 12 percent thought it was a Jewish prayer, and only 4 percent knew what 
it really was. Only a little more than 38 percent knew that there had been racist 
anti-Semitic laws in Italy during World War II. About half the young people said 
they would like to know more about history. They blamed their lack of knowledge 
on schools and mass communication. 

To this end, two videos were produced to help teachers educate high-school 
students about Judaism, the Jewish experience, and the Holocaust and motivate 
them to oppose anti-Semitism and racism. The first, a 70-minute film entitled "Who 
Are the Jews," was prepared by the Ministry of Education and the Union of Italian 
Jewish Communities and released in February 1994. It was prepared as part of a 
package of other course material and documentation. The second was a 20-minute 
film in the form of a music video entitled "Vernichtung Baby" (Extermination 
Baby), which used rap and rock music, computer graphics, and fast-cut film clips 

ITALY / 275 

in music-video style to teach about the Holocaust in Italy and warn that racism 
could happen again. Prepared by the Lazio Region and the Union of Italian Jewish 
Communities, it was unveiled in April 1995 at a one-day seminar for educators in 
Rome on teaching about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. 

In addition to these videos, the Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center in 
Milan (CDEC) maintained a large video library of commercial and documentary 
films on the Jewish experience and the Holocaust, which it made available to 


A growing interest in Judaism and Jewish culture among non-Jewish Itahans was 
reflected in the publication of numerous books on Jewish topics and the presentation 
of many concerts, plays, exhibitions, and other cultural events with Jewish themes. 
Newspapers and magazines published many articles on Jewish and Holocaust 
themes, and there was ample coverage of commemorative events related to the 50th 
anniversary of the end of World War II. There were also a number of conferences 
and seminars on issues related to Judaism, Jewish culture, Israel, and the Middle 

On March 9, 1994, "La Tutela dei Beni Culturale Ebraici," a major conference 
on the care and management of Jewish cultural monuments, Judaica objects, ar- 
chives, archaeological remains, and the like, took place in Bologna under the aus- 
pices of the Institute for Cultural Heritage of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the 
Union of Italian Jewish Communities, the city of Bologna, the Italian Senate, and 
the Italian Culture Ministry. The conference discussed a wide range of topics, 
including the current lack of nationwide coordination of activities aimed at preserv- 
ing Jewish relics and the issue of the Jewish catacombs in Rome. There was also 
a major conference on the Jewish history of Pisa. One of the most important 
conferences on Italian Jewry took place in London at the end of April 1995. Held 
under the auspices of the Institute of Jewish Studies, University College, London, 
the three-day international conference on "The Jews of Italy, Memory and Iden- 
tity," examined the history, archaeology, and culture of the Jewish communities. 

In February 1995, a gala ceremony took place in the little Tuscan hilltown of 
Pitigliano to rededicate the totally reconstructed Baroque synagogue. Originally 
buih in 1598, the synagogue collapsed after World War II. Reconstruction, funded 
by the municipality, took nearly ten years. The structure will serve as a Jewish 
museum but also will remain consecrated as a house of worship. Pitigliano had an 
important Jewish community from the 16th century until the war, but only a 
handful of Jews live there now. Also in February, a ceremony unveiled a plaque 
commemorating the Jewish presence in the small town of Lugo di Romagna, near 

Moni Ovadia, a Milan-based Jewish performer whose cabaret-style musicals em- 
ploy Yiddish culture and lore, won rave reviews with two shows — Oylem Goylem 


in 1994 and Dybbuk in the spring of 1995 — and there were numerous other per- 
formances by a variety of Itahan and foreign performers on Jewish themes. They 
included Pitchipoi, Stones from the Warsaw Ghetto, whose national premiere was 
May 3, 1995, in the central Italian city of Terni, and a concert of Catalan Jewish 
songs sung by Lidia Pujol in Rome in March 1995. 

The numerous Jewish-interest exhibits included an exhibition of Jewish book 
plates that opened in September 11, 1994, in Soncino, site of Italy's most famous 
Hebrew publishing house. A major exhibition on racism and anti-Semitism under 
fascism, "La Menzogna della Razza, documenti e immagini del razzismo e dell 
antisemitismo fascista," was shown in Bologna the last three months of 1994 and 
then traveled to other cities. A major exhibition on the Dreyfus affair opened in 
Rome in December 1994 and then traveled to Forh. More than 100,000 people saw 
a big exhibition of Marc Chagall's works in Milan in early 1995, and in February 
1995, the Bordone gallery in Milan hosted an installation on Auschwitz by German 
artist Joachim Seinfeld. 


Well over 100 books on Jewish topics were pubhshed in 1994/early 1995. They 
included fiction, poetry, history, sociology, religion. Holocaust and other memoirs, 
and art books, by Italian authors as well as translations of Israeli and other foreign 
Jewish writers. Among them were several books detailing the art and history of 
Jewish communities in specific Italian towns and regions. 

Rome chief rabbi Elio ToafFs book Essere Ebreo (To Be a Jew) became a major 
best-seller, and La Sinistra e Gli Ebrei in Italia (The Left and the Jews in Italy), 
by Maurizio Molinari (1995), raised important political issues. Erri De Luca'snew 
translation of the Book of Exodus was also a big success. 


Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff was feted on his 80th birthday with ceremonies, tributes, 
and celebrations, including a gala ceremony on May 14, 1995, at Rome's city hall, 
the Campidogho, hosted by Rome mayor Francesco RuteUi. Italian president Oscar 
Luigi Scalfaro conferred on Toaff the award of Knight of the Great Cross of the 
Italian Republic to mark the occasion. 

At a solemn ceremony at Rome's city hall in May 1995, five Itahans were honored 
by Israel as Righteous Gentiles for rescuing Jews during World War II. 

Two non-Jews who died in 1994 had a special relationship with Jews and Israel. 
Former Prime Minister Giovanni Spadohni, a longtime leader of the Republican 
Party, died of cancer August 4, 1994, at the age of 69. A journalist and historian 
who turned pohtician, in 1981 he became Italy's first prime minister who did not 
come from the Christian Democratic party. He held various other government 
positions and served as president of the Senate from 1987 until early 1994. In 

ITALY / 277 

writings, speeches, and other activities throughout his career, Spadolini staunchly 
defended Israel, often representing a minority view among Italy's political leader- 
ship, who were largely pro-Arab. He visited Israel often and had close ties with 
Italy's Jewish community. The Federation of Italy-Israel Associations launched a 
drive to raise funds for a forest in Spadolini's name in Israel. 

Guelfo Zamboni, an Italian diplomat who saved nearly 300 Jews during World 
War II by giving them false papers, died in Rome in March 1994, at the age of 97. 
As Italian consul in Salonika in 1943, under Nazi occupation, he was able to provide 
documents enabling 280 Jews to flee to Athens, which was under Italian military 
occupation, thus saving them from deportation to Auschwitz. In October 1992, 
Israeli ambassador to Italy Avi Pazner conferred on Zamboni the medal of honor 
from Yad Vashem, and 280 trees were planted in Jerusalem, one for each of the Jews 
he saved. 

Ruth Ellen Gruber 

Central and Eastern Europe 

Federal Republic of Germany 

National Affairs 

A HE PERIOD 1994 THROUGH the first half of 1995 was marked by a 
number of significant events. Germany's ruling conservative coalition survived a 
turbulent election in 1994, but lost ground to center-left parties. Far-right parties 
became politically insignificant, due to dropping voter support and internal strife. 
The pullout of most foreign troops from German soil gave new political weight to 
unified Germany, prompting the government to start redefining the country's inter- 
national role. The country's worst postwar recession ended, but recovery was un- 
even, and unemployment remained at close to 10 percent. Finally, a multitude of 
50th-anniversary commemoration ceremonies marked the last stages of World War 
II and Germany's defeat and surrender. 

In the summer of 1994, all Russian troops withdrew from Germany, and the 
Western allied troops pulled out of Berlin. In July, U.S. president Bill Clinton visited 
Germany to assure the Germans of the strength of the U.S.-German partnership. 
In Berlin, Clinton visited the reconstructed New Synagogue in the eastern part of 
the city (see "Religion," below). 


The growing interest in recent years in Germany's Nazi past was reflected in the 
thousands of commemorative events marking the 50th anniversary ofthe end of the 
war, including events related to the destruction of the Jews. Lectures, exhibitions, 
concerts, panel discussions, and official ceremonies were organized by government 
authorities as well as by private groups. There was also extensive media coverage 
of events, including hundreds of radio and television programs focusing on the 
Holocaust and Jewish topics. This led some observers to express concern that the 
volume of programs could lead to oversaturation, alienating instead of informmg 
the audience. 

The commemorations began in December 1993, with a seminar to mark the 30th 



anniversary of the Auschwitz trials held in Frankfurt between 1963 and 1965. The 
seminar, organized by the Fritz Bauer Institute, was held in the same civic center 
in the Frankfurt city district of Gallus where the trials were held. Numerous 
Auschwitz survivors shared their experience as witnesses at the mass trial of former 
Auschwitz personnel, describing a climate in Germany at the time of the trial of 
indifference and silence. During the conference, a monument by Michael Sander was 
unveiled in front of the civic center — a steel stele symbolizing the fences and 
smokestacks of Auschwitz. 

On August 1, 1994, on the 50th anniversary of the uprising against the Nazis by 
the people of Warsaw, German president Roman Herzog apologized to the Polish 
people for German atrocities committed during the war. At a ceremony in Warsaw, 
Herzog said it filled Germans with shame that their nation and people would forever 
be linked to the pain and suffering inflicted a millionfold upon the Poles. 

On January 26, 1995, the German Parliament marked the 50th anniversary of the 
liberation of Auschwitz. Chancellor Helmut Kohl termed the Nazi era "the darkest 
and most horrible chapter in German history." German president Roman Herzog 
attended the commemoration in Poland, at Auschwitz, on January 27. There were 
Jewish-Pohsh tensions over the official Polish ceremony, which did not emphasize 
Jewish suffering, and Herzog instead attended the parallel Jewish memorial service 
at Birkenau. 

The German Catholic bishops issued a statement in connection with the anniver- 
sary, acknowledging that Catholics share guilt for the extermination of the Jews. 
They asserted that the historical anti-Jewish stance among many in the Church 
"contributed to the fact that Christians during the Third Reich did not put up 
adequate resistance to the racist ideology of anti-Semitism." The bishops called for 
a reexamination of relations between Catholics and Jews, stressing Pope John Paul 
II's message that anti-Semitism is a sin against God and humanity. 

In Frankfurt, the Fritz Bauer Institute organized an intensive two-week program 
of Holocaust remembrance on the occasion of the Auschwitz anniversary. Almost 
all events, including concerts, discussions with survivors, films, and lectures, were 
sold out. At the central ceremony in the Frankfurt Schauspielhaus on January 29, 
German pariiamentary president Rita Siissmuth told the audience, "There must not 
be and can not be an end to remembrance." Those who deny the Holocaust, she said, 
"extinguish the suffering of the victims and rob them even after their death of their 

An interdisciphnary colloquium, "Echo of the Holocaust," was organized by the 
University of Hamburg's education department on January 24-26, 1995, drawing 
more than a thousand participants. Scholars and museum educators from the 
United States, Israel, and Western Europe presented current research on the Holo- 

The commemoration of the liberation of concentration camps on German soil 
began April 8, 1995, at Buchenwald, with hundreds of former prisoners and U.S. 
army veterans attending the ceremony. The first large-scale monument in Germany 


to the half million Sinti and Roma (Gypsies) murdered by the Nazis during World 
War II was unveiled at the site. A new, more comprehensive exhibition on the 
history of Buchenwald was also opened, dealing with camp life, resistance efforts, 
and collaboration with camp authorities. The exhibition includes a 1943 telephone 
book from the nearby city of Weimar with the entry "Konzentrationslager Buchen- 
wald" ("Concentration Camp Buchenwald"). 

The weekend of April 22, more than 20,000 people — including more than 3,000 
former prisoners — commemorated the liberation of the Ravensbriick, Sachsen- 
hausen, and Flossenbiirg camps. Speakers at the different ceremonies called for 
tolerance, civil courage, and active remembrance of the crimes of the Nazis. 

The central German government event in honor of concentration-camp victims 
was a ceremony in Bergen-Belsen on April 27, coinciding with Yom Hashoah, the 
Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day. More than 6,000 visitors attended. Ignatz Bubis, 
head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, thanked individuals who had 
helped Nazi victims to survive, as well as the AUies who Hberated Germany at the 
cost of many of their own as well as many German lives. President Roman Herzog 
and former Israeli president Chaim Herzog — who was an officer in the British army 
unit that Hberated Bergen-Belsen — were also among the speakers. 

About 5,000 people attended the commemoration at Dachau on May 1, and on 
May 4 about 800 former prisoners gathered at the former camp at Neuengamme, 
near Hamburg. In addition to official government events on Holocaust commemora- 
tion, there were numerous private initiatives. In Passau, for instance, local historian 
Anna Rosmus organized a return on May 1-3 of former Passau Jewish residents, 
as well as inmates and U.S. liberators of the forced-labor camp in Pocking-Passau. 


The spring of 1995 saw a bitter political debate about whether May 8 — the date 
of German surrender — symboHzed defeat for the Germans or Hberation from fas- 
cism. A group of leading conservative politicians and intellectuals, including mem- 
bers of the right-wing Republican Party, published a manifesto arguing that May 
8 was a day of liberation only for those persecuted by the Nazis. They claimed that 
for most Germans, May 8 meant the division of the country, the onset of Communist 
rule, and the expulsion of 12 million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe. How- 
ever, a poll conducted in April by the Mannheim Forschungsgruppe Wahlen found 
that 80 percent of Germans (and 87 percent of those under 30) regarded May 8 as 
a symbol of liberation rather than of defeat. 

May 8, 1995, the 50th anniversary of VE Day, of Nazi Germany's defeat by the 
Allies, was marked by a state ceremony at the Berlin Schauspielhaus, attended by 
U.S. vice-president Al Gore, British prime minister John Major, French president 
Francois Mitterrand, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, German presi- 
dent Roman Herzog, and German chancellor Helmut Kohl. (Bonn had rebuffed an 
invitation request from Polish president Lech Walesa, who pointed out — with some 


justification — that Polish forces under Allied command had played a significant role 
in helping to defeat Germany. The diplomatic rift was settled when Polish foreign 
minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a survivor of Auschwitz, was invited to address 
the German Bundestag in late April.) 

At the ceremony on May 8, President Herzog said that Germans were fully aware 
of their responsibility for the Holocaust. The Germans did not become democrats 
overnight, he said, but they had matured to become reliable and peaceful partners 
in Europe and in the world. In a newspaper interview several weeks later, Herzog 
announced that the "fight against forgetting," referring to the Holocaust, would 
remain one of the central tasks of his remaining four years in office. 

Also on May 8, at the Berlin city hall, federal and state officials announced that 
a "House of Memory" would be built on the Prinz-Albrecht-Gelaende, site of the 
former SS headquarters in Berlin. The building, by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, 
would house exhibitions and archives relating to Nazi victims. Since 1987, there had 
been a temporary exhibition on the site called "The Topography of Terror." 

In Berlin, the 50th-anniversary events to commemorate the end of World War 
II began on May 7, with a peace march. Several thousand demonstrators marched 
through the Scheunenviertel, Berlin's traditional Jewish quarter. The same day, the 
19th-century New Synagogue in Berlin was reopened after seven years of recon- 
struction work (see "Religion," below). The more than 3,000 guests at the opening 
ceremonies included former Jewish residents of Berlin, as well as dignitaries such 
as Chancellor Kohl and President Herzog. Josef Burg, the former Israeli interior 
minister, who was born in Berlin, talked about the long history of Jews in Germany. 
Berlin mayor Eberhard Diepgen said the contribution of Jews to Berlin was an 
inextricable part of the city's history. 

Chancellor Kohl attended VE-Day ceremonies in London, Paris, and Moscow. 
The invitations came after the German government had signaled its displeasure at 
being shut out of D-Day ceremonies in June 1994 in France. Shortly before his 
arrival in London, Kohl caused a stir among Jewish organizations and veterans 
groups with a written statement that made little distinction between the suffering 
of Jewish concentration camp prisoners, German soldiers, and expellees from East- 
ern Europe. 

In Moscow, on May 9, Chancellor Kohl made a clearer statement about German 
responsibility for the war than in the statement issued prior to his arrival in London. 
He said, "The historical responsibility remains: The National Socialist regime in 
Germany launched the Second World War. It planned and executed a campaign of 
annihilation, first directed against Poland, then in the genocide of European Jewry." 

Israel and the Middle East 

Although the 30-year diplomatic relationship between Germany and Israel was 
marked with great ceremony in 1995, and included visits to Israel by the German 
president, pariiamentary president, and chancellor, the relationship was still far 


from normal. The Israeli government did not send a representative to attend May 
8 commemoration ceremonies in Germany — despite an invitation from Chancellor 
Helmut Kohl to Israeli president Ezer Weizman — undoubtedly because anti-Ger- 
man sentiments remain strong in Israel, home to about 300,000 Holocaust survivors. 
However, there was widespread coverage in Israel of ceremonies in Germany to 
mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, and in May 
1995, the Hebrew University held a well-attended four-day symposium on National 
Socialism, with presentations by German and Israeli historians. 

Although the shadow of the past was an inevitable presence, Israeli diplomats 
sought to improve relations with Germany, whom they viewed as Israel's most 
important economic and political partner in Europe. 

In October 1994, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel traveled to Israel. In December, 
the newly elected German president, Roman Herzog, made a brief visit, demonstra- 
tively choosing Israel as the site of his first trip outside Europe. Herzog emphasized 
Germany's special responsibility to Israel, trying to counteract the continuing mis- 
trust in Israel of unified Germany. The trip was praised by most Israeli media. 

In May 1995, members of the environmental Green Party visited Israel and the 
West Bank. Previous trips of the left-wing party had ended disastrously, because of 
the open sympathy of some delegation members for the Palestinians. But this trip, 
headed by the party's pragmatic parliamentary leader, Joschka Fischer, was more 
successful. During a visit to Yad Vashem, Fischer emphasized that Germany must 
keep the books open on Holocaust remembrance, and comments by delegation 
members on the peace process were considered more balanced than in previous 
years. Representatives of Holocaust survivor groups thanked the Green Party for 
its help in trying to settle unresolved compensation claims. 

In June 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Helmut Kohl 
Institute for European Studies, a sign of the growing importance of Europe — and 
Germany — for Israel's future. Kohl was also awarded an honorary doctorate by 
Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheba. Kohl was accompanied on the trip by leading 
German businessmen, who until this time had made almost no investments in Israel. 
There was a breakthough on the trip when representatives of Volkswagen signed an 
agreement to set up a magnesium production factory with the Dead Sea Works and 
a magnesium research institute in Beer Sheba at Ben-Gurion University. 

During his visit. Kohl promised to try and reduce European trade barriers for 
Israel. A point of disagreement during the visit was German-Iranian relations, with 
Kohl denying that Germany delivered weapons to Teheran and defending ties to 
Iran as the best means of reaching peaceful solutions with the Islamic state. Israeh 
prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Kohl agreed to have more frequent telephone 
contact, as a step toward improving intergovernmental ties. Israeli officials also 
pressed Germany to take a more active role in the Mideast peace process, which so 
far had been limited largely to the opening of a diplomatic office in Jericho in August 
1994. Kohl visited Yasir Arafat during the trip, which began with stops in Egypt 
and Jordan. 


The Israeli government was upset with Bonn when the German press reported 
in February 1995 that Germany was trying to free long-missing Israeli aviator Ron 
Arad from prison in Iran. The Israelis felt the negotiations should be kept secret. 
Shortly after the story broke, Israeli prime minister Rabin flew to Bonn for an 
unannounced meeting with Chancellor Kohl. 

In July 1994 an Israeli army chief of staff visited Germany for the first time, on 
an invitation from German chief of staff Klaus Naumann. Gen. Ehud Barak in- 
cluded Sachsenhausen on his tour, where he called on German politicians to "stop 
with an iron hand" all forms of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and nationalism. 

Anti-Semitism and Extremism 

For the second consecutive year, there was a decline in right-wing violence, 
according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In 1994, 1,489 violent 
attacks were attributed to right-wing extremists, down from 2,232 in 1993. The large 
majority of the attacks were against foreigners and minorities, but 41 were against 
Jewish targets. 

The most alarming incidents for the Jewish community were two firebombing 
attacks on the synagogue in Liibeck. The first, the night of March 24, 1994, caused 
considerable damage to the two front rooms of the synagogue. The next day, 
thousands of local residents gathered spontaneously to protest the attack, the first 
synagogue burning in Germany since the Nazi era. 

In late April 1994, four young male suspects, all from broken homes in a poorer 
district of Liibeck, were arrested. During the trial, they eventually confessed and 
were convicted of arson, receiving sentences of between two-and-a-half and four- 
and-a-half years. The court ruled that there was insufficient proof to convict them 
of attempted murder. The nearby Hamburg Jewish community, among others, 
criticized the ruling as insufficient. 

On May 7, 1995, there was a renewed arson attack on the same synagogue, and 
an adjoining shed burned down. No immediate arrests were made in the case. Jewish 
leaders said the attack may have been planned to coincide with the opening the same 
day of the reconstructed New Synagogue in Berlin. 

In one of the few cases of anti-Semitic-motivated violence, in February 1 994 three 
people were convicted of murder and sentenced by the Wuppertal court to 8 to 14 
years in prison. The three were accused of murdering a man in a bar in 1992 who 
said he was Jewish, although he was not. 

Nonviolent anti-Semitic incidents increased dramatically. Federal authorities re- 
ported 1,366 anti-Semitic propaganda offenses in 1994, more than double the num- 
ber of the previous year. Most of the incidents involved the distribution of anti- 
Semitic literature and hate letters against Jews. Law-enforcement authorities 
attributed the rise in part to increased awareness of anti-Semitic propaganda and 
a greater readiness to report its existence. For instance, numerous complaints were 
filed after an 85-page anti-Semitic brochure entitled German Manifest was mailed 


to hundreds of public figures. Prosecutors believed the pamphlet was written by a 
69-year-old Essen man who claimed to be a former SS officer. 

Helping to put these events somewhat in perspective, the Aliensbach Institute of 
Opinion Research reported in September 1994 that anti-Semitism in Germany had 
steadily declined since the end of World War II. In 1949, every third German still 
held strong anti-Semitic beliefs. In 1994, 15 percent of the population was anti- 
Semitic, according to the most recent poll, which had not yet been published. The 
institute said older people are more anti-Semitic than younger Germans. 

Attacks on former concentration camps continued. In July 1994, at Buchenwald, 
a group of 23 drunken right-wing extremists destroyed display cases and threatened 
an employee. There was public outrage at the lack of intervention by police, and 
disciplinary measures were later taken against several policemen. All 23 hooligans 
were indicted on charges of property damage, illegal display of Nazi symbols, and 
breaching the peace. As of mid-1995, three trials resulted in 16 convictions. One 
young man was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail, the others received 
suspended sentences or juvenile detention. 

The three major right-wing political parties — the Republicans, the German Peo- 
ple's Union, and the National Democratic Party of Germany — had jointly lost 
nearly 10,000 members since 1993 (according to the 1994 Report of the Office for 
the Protection of the Constitution). Their combined total membership was 44,500. 
In their 1995 annual report on constitutional threats, federal intelligence authorities 
for the first time designated the Republican Party as extreme right-wing, with 
anticonstitutional views. 

The ebb in right-wing voter support could be explained by several factors. One 
was the lower number of refugees coming to Germany — "foreigners" were a major 
source of irritation to the right — as a result of the 1993 constitutional amendment 
restricting political asylum. Another was the greater eflFort by German authorities 
to crack down on right-wing extremism. Since November 1992, 11 right-wing 
parties and organizations had been banned by state and federal authorities. The 
value of such banning was disputed, however. Supporters saw it as an important 
signal that extreme right-wing ideology was unacceptable to a democratic society. 
Critics, including many law-enforcement officials, charged that banning forced 
groups underground, where they were harder to monitor. The 1994 Report of the 
Office for the Protection of the Constitution noted a slight drop in the number of 
militant right-wing extremists (5,600 to 5,400), but an increase in the number of 
active neo-Nazis (an estimated 3,000, up from 1,700). 

In place of registered organizations, a loosely affiliated cell structure had emerged 
among neo-Nazis, raising concern about a potential right-wing terrorist network, in 
which groups and individuals communicate through electronic mail boxes, mobile 
telephones, and telephone information networks. An increasingly popular meeting 
place was skinhead rock concerts, registered as private parties in order to circum- 
vent authorities. Federal authorities estimated that there were at least 40 right-wing 


Right-wing music publications and other neo-Nazi propaganda literature was 
flourishing, much of it printed in countries like Denmark, Spain, and the United 
States, where laws do not forbid publishing hate literature. In March 1995, Danish 
authorities arrested a major publisher of right-wing material, U.S. neo-Nazi Gary 
Lauck, and were considering an extradition request from Germany, where Lauck 
was wanted for the dissemination of hate literature. In general, German authorities 
were pushing for more international cooperation in the fight against neo-Nazi 

A disturbing development was the publication of "hit lists." The neo-Nazi maga- 
zine Einblick published names and addresses of more than 200 opponents of right- 
wing ideology, encouraging the use of violence against political opponents. Two men 
were sentenced to prison for publishing the list, one for two years, the other for one 

Public discussion about the causes of right-wing extremism started to focus on 
the concept of nationhood being expressed by some conservative and neoconserva- 
tive intellectuals. Among these were German novelist Martin Walser, who called 
right-wing extremism "the answer to our neglect of nationalism," playwright Botho 
Strauss, who criticized the antiauthoritarianism of the left, and Rainer Zitelmann, 
a former Maoist who now wrote for the conservative daily newspaper Die Welt. 
Numerous law-enforcement officials expressed concern that the new right provided 
a socially acceptable sanction for extreme right-wing activities. 

Holocaust-Related Matters 

A 1994 poll commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (conducted by the 
Emnid Institute) showed that factual knowledge in Germany about the Holocaust 
is extremely high: 92 percent of Germans know that Auschwitz, Dachau, and 
Treblinka were concentration camps, and 91 percent can identify the yellow star as 
the symbol Jews were forced to wear on their clothing during the Nazi regime. 
However, more than 1 in 3 think the Holocaust is no longer relevant because it 
happened more than 50 years ago. Western Germans have far more negative atti- 
tudes toward Jews than eastern Germans: 44 percent of Jews in the west believe that 
Jews are exploiting the Holocaust for their own purposes, in contrast to 19 percent 
of Germans in the east; and 24 percent of Germans in the west think that Jews have 
too much influence in German society, compared to only 8 percent of eastern 

One of the survey's more disturbing findings is the high degree of animosity 
expressed toward many minority groups: 22 percent of Germans would prefer not 
having Jewish neighbors, but 68 percent reject having Gypsies (Sinti and Roma) as 
neighbors, 47 percent Arabs, 39 percent Poles, 37 percent Africans, 36 percent 
Turks, and 32 percent Vietnamese. 

The Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg reported 
that 1,163 cases were opened in 1994, based largely on newly available archive 


material from the former East German secret service. However, most of these cases 
would take years to investigate, because of serious understaffing problems in Lud- 
wigsburg. Thirty-five cases were currently under active investigation; 64 other inves- 
tigations were completed in 1994 and turned over to law-enforcement officials. 

A four-year-old war-crimes trial against a former member of the SS was stopped 
by a court in Miinster in February 1994 because of the defendant's poor health. The 
90-year-old Latvian, Boleslav Maikovskis, chief of a Latvian police unit during Nazi 
occupation, was accused of participating in the shooting of 170 people in the village 
of Audrini and the execution of a Jewish person. 

Spanish authorities arrested former Nazi general Otto Ernst Remer in June 1994, 
but had not yet ruled on Germany's extradition request. Remer, who denies the 
Holocaust, had fled to Spain in March, after a German court sentenced him to 22 
months in prison on charges of incitement to racial hatred. 

On July 1, 1994, U.S. authorities handed over administration of the former Berlin 
Document Center to German officials. The documents remain open to view by the 
general public, including U.S. citizens. However, German law requires a 30-year 
waiting period after death before personal documents are released. A project to 
microfilm all documents for the National Archives in Washington had not been 

Although German schoolchildren learn the basic facts about the Third Reich, 
there is no systematic approach to Holocaust studies in most German high schools. 
Individual teachers, however, sometimes pursue local history projects with their 
students. In Liibeck, a group of 1 5-year-old students researched the history of 
Jewish children in their city who were murdered by the Nazis. In the spring of 1995 
the students convinced the school administration to change the school name to the 
"Sibling-Prenski-School," in honor of three children from Liibeck murdered during 
the Holocaust. 

In April 1995 a federal court in Berhn reaffirmed the principle of the unrestricted 
return of property in eastern Germany to former Jewish owners. The court awarded 
a centrally located piece of property, part of the former Checkpoint Charlie, to the 
heirs of a Jewish businessman. 

The American Jewish Committee handed over to the German government in May 
1995 a list of 4,500 Holocaust survivors in the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, 
Poland, Slovakia, and Romania who had not gotten compensation. The AJC urged 
the German government to give these survivors access to a special fund set up in 
1992 by the German government for hardship cases among survivors. 

The Bonn government's reply was evasive. German officials were reportedly 
worried about possible claims from millions of uncompensated Nazi victims in 
Eastern Europe if individual payments were made to Jews there. In Latvia, for 
example, the government was demanding compensation not just for 120 Jewish 
Holocaust survivors but for 11,000 Latvian "legionnaires" who fought for the 
German Wehrmacht and the Waflfen SS. The Green Party proposed setting up a 
national foundation that would pay monthly pensions of at least 500 marks to all 
Nazi victims who were never compensated. 


A longtime employee of the German National Tourist Office in New York, Elke 
Berg, was fired in May 1995 for her extreme right-wing views. The newspaper 
Tageszeitung uncovered her translation work for an article denying the Holocaust 
in the nght-v/ing Journal of Historic Review. Her husband, Friedrich Paul Berg, is 
a leading Holocaust revisionist. The tourist office also came under fire for a 1984 
study of the U.S. market that recommended that Jews, blacks, Latinos, and Asians 
be excluded as target groups for German tourism. 

The German Tourist Office denied using the study, citing in its defense a pamphlet 
published in 1987, "Germany for the Jewish Traveler." But the brochure also came 
under fire. Aufbau , the German-Jewish newspaper in New York, criticized a section 
describing the cultural life of the German Jewish community between 1933 and 1938 
as "flourishing." The brochure concluded that "in the midst of unprecedented 
persecution, German Jews produced a vibrant community." The tourist office said 
it would remove the passage when it reprinted the brochure. 

A series of mild court rulings in the well-publicized case of Holocaust revisionist 
Giinther Deckert triggered widespread outrage. The ensuing public pressure 
prompted the government to pass a law in September 1994 making Holocaust denial 
a criminal oflFense, punishable with up to a five-year jail sentence. Previously, courts 
had to convict defendants on charges of racial hatred, or incitement to public 
disorder, which are more difficult to prove. 

The case involved the leader of the right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD), 
Giinther Deckert, who arranged for U.S. Holocaust revisionist Fred Leuchter to 
deliver a speech in Weinheim in 1991 — translated into German by Deckert — 
presenting his pseudo-scientific theory that gas was used only for delousing — not 
killing — at Auschwitz. The Mannheim prosecutor's office filed charges against 
Leuchter and Deckert for disseminating lies about the Holocaust. A lower court 
convicted Deckert in 1992 of incitement to public disorder, giving him a suspended 
one-year sentence. Leuchter was briefly arrested in 1993 by German authorities 
when he returned to Germany to appear on a television talk show, but was released 
by a judge on a technicality. 

On March 15, 1994, the First Senate of the Bundesgerichtshof (the federal court) 
overturned the Deckert ruling, a judgment that caused considerable public conster- 
nation. The judges ruled that the lower court had not proven that Deckert shared 
Leuchter's views on Holocaust denial and ordered a retrial. At the retrial, the 
Mannheim judges again convicted Deckert on charges of incitement of racial hatred 
and defamation and denigration of the dead and reimposed a one-year suspended 
sentence. The mild sentence, as well as the open sympathy of the judges for Dec- 
kert's right-wing opinions, stirred nationwide outrage. In the verdict, the judges 
sympathized with Deckert's "desire to strengthen opposition forces in the German 
nation against Jewish claims stemming from the Holocaust." The judges said they 
could not ignore the fact that crimes of other nations remained unpunished, while 


Germany continued to face political, moral, and financial obligations stemming 
from the persecution of the Jews. 

The ruling was condemned by top government officials, including the justice 
minister, and there were widespread calls for the dismissal of the three judges who 
wrote the opinion. However, the Mannheim court refused, on the grounds that 
decisions made under public pressure could threaten the independence of the courts. 
Two judges were put on an extended leave of absence, ostensibly for health reasons. 
Presiding judge Rainer Orlet eventually took early retirement. 

Deckert lost his second appeal. The federal court in Karlsruhe ruled that the 
Mannheim court conviction on charges of incitement of racial hatred was valid, 
ordering a different court to set the sentence. In April 1 995, the Karlsruhe court 
imposed a two-year prison sentence. Deckert again appealed, but the federal court 
was unlikely to overturn the decision. The Mannheim prosecutor filed a new indict- 
ment against Deckert, for organizing a lecture by British historian David Irving, a 
leading denier of the Holocaust. 

Another court sentence on Holocaust denial provoked widespread criticism. The 
state prosecutor indicted two men for a message on a right-wing telephone network 
that criticized the film Schindler's List for "keeping alive the Auschwitz Myth." A 
Hamburg court ruled that "Auschwitz Myth" is a neutral term that does not 
automatically imply a denial of Holocaust atrocities. The Hamburg prosecutor's 
office filed an appeal against the judgment. 


The plan of a private foundation to build a national Holocaust memorial in Berlin 
engendered nationwide controversy. The foundation's prize-winning design, created 
by a Berlin artists group headed by Christine Jackob-Marks, consisted of a gargan- 
tuan slab of dark gray concrete covering an area roughly the size of two football 
fields, to be inscribed with the names of millions of Holocaust victims. The original 
plan to raise funds by selling the names was scrapped after protest by the Jewish 

Among other objections to the design, some Jewish leaders feared that the absence 
of a complete listing (many Holocaust victims have not been identified and may 
never be) could encourage right-wing extremists to continue questioning the reality 
of the Holocaust, or that the sight of millions of names would generate a sense of 
anonymity, instead of individual identity, as the artists intended. Many art experts 
questioned whether a monument of this scale could convey a sense of reflection and 

Even in the face of all this criticism, the private foundation backing the memorial 
refused to reopen the competition. However, the monument was also being funded 
by the federal government and the city of Berlin, and top officials on both levels 
rejected the Jackob-Marks design. No decision was expected until late 1995. 

In May 1994, a monument to German-Jewish writer Walter Benjamin wasun- 


veiled in Port Bou, the city on the French-Spanish border where Benjamin commit- 
ted suicide on his flight from the Nazis. The monument, designed by Israeli artist 
Dani Karavan, is dedicated to all refugees who fled the Nazi regime. The project 
was nearly stopped after the Federal Press Office canceled its funding, but Ger- 
many's state governments agreed to pay for the monument, together with the 
Catalonian government. 

The German federal and state governments pledged to spend DM 30 million on 
the conservation and maintenance of the memorial site at Auschwitz in Poland. An 
initiative launched by the public television station NDR, called "Against Forget- 
ting," also collected funds for the preservation of Auschwitz. The Polish govern- 
ment appealed for funds to stop deterioration and help maintain buildings and 
grounds on the enormous site. 

The maintenance of former concentration camps in eastern Germany was also 
endangered. The budget for the memorial sites at Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck 
had been significantly reduced, forcing job dismissals and the postponement of all 
renovation work. The only current project was the reconstruction of the Jewish 
barracks in Sachsenhausen, which burned down in a 1 992 arson attack by right-wing 
extremists. The directors of the memorial sites said they no longer had enough staff" 
to fulfill all requests for guided tours. 

Several Holocaust memorials were dedicated in this period after extensive contro- 
versies were settled regarding their location, size, and artistic merit. In Hannover, 
a memorial near the opera house was erected in memory of the city's 1,882 Jewish 
citizens murdered by the Nazis. And in Berlin, a Holocaust monument in the district 
of Steglitz was dedicated, with the names of the 1,723 Jewish residents deported by 
the Nazis inscribed on a 30-foot-long reflective steel wall. The municipal city council 
tried to stop the project, which was designed by Joachim von Rosenberg and 
Wolfgang Goeschel, but was overruled by Berlin city officials. 



The Jewish community grew substantially in this period, due largely to the 
continued immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. In December 1994, 
the community had 47,133 registered members (up from 40,917 in 1993). The 
estimated number of unaffiliated Jews was up to 20,000. 

Most regional and local communities reported a growth in membership compared 
to 1993: Baden 2,411 (up 338); Bavaria 6,500 (up 750); Berlin 9,840 (up 357); 
Brandenburg 162 (no change); Bremen 396 (up 88); Frankfurt 5,715 (down 62); 
Hamburg 2,359 (up 564); Hesse 2,575 (up 275); Cologne 2,167 (up 171); Mecklen- 
berg- Western Pomerania 166 (down 5); Lower Saxony 2,828 (up 1,793); North 
Rhine 5,819 (up 1,095); Rhineland Palatinate 534 (up 27); Saarland 525 (up 101); 


Saxony 232 (up 19); Saxony- Anhalt 244 (up 84); Thuringia 180 (down 39); West- 
phalia 3,052 (up 630); Wurttemberg 1,428 (up 30). 

Soviet Jews 

The German government continued its policy of controlled immigration of Jews 
from the former Soviet Union (FSU), under which about 5,000 had entered each 
year since 1990. However, an estimated 20,000 more emigrants, whose applications 
had been approved by German consulates in the FSU since 1990, did not come to 
Germany, probably because applicants moved to other countries. In March 1994, 
the German government instituted a rule that emigration approval was only valid 
for one year. The approval process usually took from one to three years. 

The German government instituted an organized system of distributing the refu- 
gees proportionally among the German states, according to the size of the state, 
While this policy served to revive Jewish communities throughout the country, it 
also kept many ex-Soviet Jews far from the centers of Jewish life in Germany, thus 
limiting their exposure to Jewish religious and cultural experience. 

The newcomers received an unlimited residence permit, which gave them access 
to most social benefits, including health insurance, six months of language training, 
job training, and subsidized public housing. But as there were long waiting lists in 
Germany for such housing, many of the immigrants still lived in cramped refugee 

Integration into German life and into the established Jewish community remained 
difficult for many of the recent arrivals. Eighty percent were professionals, but most 
had not found jobs, because training and job experience rarely corresponded to 
German standards. This was a particular problem for doctors. Since 1993, many 
younger family members had been joined by parents and grandparents, whose poor 
health further complicated integration. 

The small Jewish community structures in Germany were nearly overwhelmed 
by the task of integrating the immigrants into the community. Many of the Jews 
from the FSU spoke neither German nor Yiddish, creating language difficulties. 
Teaching the immigrants the fundamentals of Judaism was complicated by the low 
number of rabbis and religious teachers in Germany, as well as the lack of teaching 
materials on Jewish religion in both Russian and German. The larger communities 
tried to send religious leaders on a regular basis to communities composed mainly 
of ex-Soviet Jews, to teach them how to participate in Jewish religious life. Several 
dozen Jewish communities in Germany now consisted primarily of Jews from the 
former Soviet Union. New communities included Loerrach and Emmendingen, in 
southwest Germany, near the Swiss border, and Dessau, in eastern Germany. 

The Central Jewish Welfare Office offered integration seminars for ex-Soviet Jews 
at its kosher hotel in Bad Kissingen. The one-week seminar exposed the immigrants 
to Jewish traditions and prayer, as well as to the basics of the German social system. 
To date, approximately 600 people had attended. Some of the immigrants started 


attending worship services regularly, and a number were elected to leadership 
positions within local Jewish communities. 

Communal Affairs 

The continuing stability of postwar German democracy and the growth in the size 
of the Jewish community were changing the character of the postwar Jewish com- 
munity profoundly. Many of the Holocaust survivors who settled in Germany after 
the war assumed that the resumption of Jewish life was only a temporary phenome- 
non. However, younger Jews in particular were starting to seek a modem, more 
permanent approach to Jewish communal life. The hostility of Jewish communities 
elsewhere to the renewal of Jewish life in Germany was also declining. 

The Central Council of Jews in Germany announced that it was shutting down 
the only national Jewish newspaper in Germany, the Allgemeine Jiidische Wochen- 
zeitung, because of the paper's continual deficit. However, the decision was re- 
scinded after considerable public protest, including an appeal by prominent Jewish 
journalists. Supporters said the journalistic quality of the paper had improved 
considerably in recent years and argued that a growing Jewish community required 
a national publication. To save money, the newspaper was cut back from a weekly 
to a biweekly format, and the newly opened Berlin office was shut down. 

An Orthodox Jewish group in Berlin, Adass Yisroel, won its court case against 
the state of Berlin for recognition as the lawful reconstitution of the prewar Adass 
Yisroel community. Berlin appealed the October 1994 ruling to a district court. If 
the ruling were to be confirmed, the community could reclaim the considerable 
property holdings of the prewar Orthodox community. 

The case had important implications, because it challenged the exclusive owner- 
ship rights of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to 
prewar Jewish-owned property in Germany. In 1952 the Bonn government desig- 
nated the Claims Conference as the legal successor to Germany's prewar Jewish 
communities, with rights to all property. The postwar communities were considered 
newly constituted communities without property claims. After unification, the Jew- 
ish Claims Conference filed numerous claims on former pieces of Jewish property 
in eastern Germany. The outcome of the Adass Yisroel suit could affect some of 
these claims. 


The rapid growth of the Jewish community had forced into the open the long- 
repressed issue of religious pluralism. The decades-long insistence of Jewish officials 
on maintaining exclusively Orthodox institutions was increasingly being called into 
question, especially as the vast majority of Jews in Germany were not practicing 
Orthodox Jews. Groups of younger Jews, as well as communities with large numbers 
of Russian immigrants, were trying to launch more religiously liberal frameworks. 


(The Reform Jewish movement began in Germany in the 19th century, but most 
of the Jews who remained in Germany after the war were displaced Eastern Euro- 
pean Jews, unfamiUar with the German Reform movement.) Possibilities for attend- 
ing regular Reform services in BerUn and Frankfurt ended with the withdrawal of 
U.S. forces there. 

At the same time, older Jews as well as many younger Jews and Soviet immigrants 
preferred to maintain the traditional structures, arguing that the spread of Reform 
Judaism would lead to a deterioration of knowledge about the religion, eventually 
endangering the community's viability. There were also concerns that the formation 
of separate liberal congregations would spHnter the existing communities, diminish- 
ing their capacity to administer a broad range of social and educational institutions. 
However, some Jewish officials signaled a willingness to consider offering Reform 
worship services, in addition to Orthodox ones, to prevent division of the unified 

Some of the newly founded communities, such as Oldenburg and Gottingen, 
constituted themselves as Conservative or Reform congregations. This was not 
possible in cities with existing communities, which were all Orthodox. In Heidel- 
berg, for instance, the community briefly tolerated simultaneous Reform and Ortho- 
dox services within the synagogue, but the Reform services were stopped by the 
regional rabbi, and the group began to meet outside the synagogue. In Frankfurt, 
the liberal Kehila Chadasha group began holding biweekly Reform services and 
Torah discussion groups. 

Other groups, such as the Jewish Forum in Cologne, focused more on culture than 
religion. This rapidly growing organization offered concerts, lectures, discussion 
groups, and Sabbath get-togethers. A monthly Sabbath service was also instituted. 

On June 18, 1995, a national body, the Working Group of Reform Jewish and 
Conservative Communities and Organizations, was founded by 1 1 constituents: the 
Jewish communities of Gottingen, Bamberg, Braunschweig, and Oldenburg; and the 
following organizations: Derech Chadascha, Heidelberg; Kehila Chadasha, Frank- 
furt; Jiidische Gemeinschaft Kadima, Hannover; Klub Progressives Judentum, Ber- 
lin; Rosh Chodesh, Berlin; Jiidische Forum, Cologne; and a group in formation in 
Kassel. A membership meeting in October was expected to ratify the decision to 
found the council. 


The desire for more permanence and the influx of ex-Soviet Jews combined to 
produce a boom in synagogue construction. An unusual circular-shaped synagogue 
in Heidelberg, designed by architect Alfred Jacoby, was dedicated in January 1994. 
The British-born Jacoby also designed the synagogue that opened its doors in May 
1995 in Aachen, with an auditorium, a mikveh, a library, and schoolrooms. The 
architect's next project was to be a new synagogue in Offenbach. Jacoby was praised 
by critics as the first postwar architect in Germany to develop a distinctive Jewish 


vernacular for synagogue buildings. Altogether, about 30 new or reconstructed 
synagogue projects were currently under way, financed by German state and local 

The Frankfurt West End Synagogue's original turn-of-the-century interior, with 
elaborate oriental motifs, was restored after six years of renovation. The synagogue, 
built in 1910, was damaged during the Nazi era and hastily repaired during the 
1950s in the then current modern style. 

The northern German city of Oldenburg gave the town's newly constituted Jewish 
community a former church to use as a synagogue and cultural center. The reno- 
vated building was opened in 1995. The community appointed Bea Wyler, a Swiss 
graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, as rabbi. She became 
the first woman rabbi to work in Germany since World War II. 

After eight years of reconstruction, Berlin's New Synagogue on Oranienburger 
Strasse in east Berlin, with its hallmark golden dome, was reopened on May 7, 1995. 
The original Reform synagogue was completed in 1 866, damaged during Kristall- 
nacht in 1938, and partially destroyed in an Allied bombing raid during World War 
II. The main sanctuary, which once seated 3,000 people, was not rebuilt, but a small 
room was open for services. The building now housed the Stiftung Neue Synagogue 
Berlin-Centrum Judaicum (Berlin New Synagogue Foundation-Center for Jewish 
Studies), a museum and research center focusing on the contributions of Jews to 
German history. The first exhibition reviewed the 749-year history of Jews in Berlin. 
Other Jewish institutions were also starting to open offices or branches in the area, 
which had been the center of BerHn's Eastern European Jewish community in the 
19th century. 


Trips to Germany by delegates of American Jewish organizations continued. In 
April 1994, members of the World Jewish Congress met with Chancellor Helmut 
Kohl to express concerns about racially motivated violence in Germany and Europe 
and other matters. 

American Jewish Committee delegations visited Germany on several occasions. 
In March 1994, a delegation traveled to Bonn to present the results of a survey 
commissioned by the AJC on German attitudes toward Jews and other minorities 
(see "Holocaust-Related Matters"). In February 1995, AJC members met with 
high-ranking German officials, including Chancellor Kohl and President Herzog, to 
discuss the Middle East peace process. Islamic fundamentalism and international 
terrorism, the export of arms and dual-use materials and technology, extremist and 
neo-Nazi violence, and German-Jewish relations. On a second visit in May to Bonn 
and Berlin, sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (the political foundation run 
by the Social Democratic Party), discussion partners talked about German-Israeli 
relations, right-wing extremism, unification, and compensation for Holocaust survi- 


In August 1994, seven members of the New York Board of Rabbis toured Ger- 
many for the first time. In a statement, the rabbis said they were impressed by what 
they saw of the country's energy, efficiency, productivity, and creativity. Their 
concerns about Germany's renewed dominance in Europe were allayed by observa- 
tions that Germany was haunted by its past and determined to steer its future in 
a radically different direction. 

Jewish-Christian Relations 

More than 70 local and regional Christian- Jewish societies in Germany par- 
ticipated in the annual Brotherhood Week, held every March, scheduling hundreds 
of lectures, seminars, exhibitions, and concerts. Despite continuing controversy over 
the value of Brotherhood Week for interfaith relations, many of the events in 1994 
and 1995 were well attended. 

Two topics dominated the May 1995 annual meeting of the national Christian- 
Jewish Society: the fight against attempts by free churches to proselytize among 
former Soviet Jews and the issue of whether Christian-Jewish groups can exist 
without Jewish members. The proselytizing attempts date back 20 years to the first 
wave of Soviet Jewish immigrants to Germany, but had been stepped up with the 
large number of new arrivals. 

In smaller towns, especially, Christian-Jewish societies helped to integrate ex- 
Soviet Jews. In the Wuppertal suburb of Elberfeld, the local Christian- Jewish soci- 
ety, together with church groups and youth groups, launched a Jewish social center 
in 1994 that became an important meeting point for Jews and Christians. Activities 
included lectures, exhibitions, study groups on local Jewish history, and biblical 
Hebrew classes. Because 80 percent of the Jewish community was from the former 
Soviet Union, brochures were printed in German and Russian. 

In Cologne, the Christian-Jewish Society's dialogue with Muslims proved popu- 
lar. For two years running, at least 300 people attended a seminar on "Jews, 
Christians, Muslims in One World." In addition to theological discussions, attention 
was devoted to anti-Semitic tendencies among some Muslim groups and the dangers 
of cooperation between German neo-Nazis and Islamic fundamentalists. 


The boom in postsecondary Jewish studies continued. The Moses Mendelssohn 
Center for European-Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam launched a Jewish 
studies department in November 1994. Also in 1994, the University of Duisburgset 
up a new program focusing on the history and culture of Judaism. The University 
of Oldenburg began offering a secondary major in Jewish studies. 

There was discussion about moving the Academy for Jewish Studies from Heidel- 
berg to Berlin, to attract more Jewish students. However, no concrete decision was 
made due to concerns over the possible loss of state funding. The academy received 
permission in 1994 to start awarding doctorates. 



Interest among Germans in Jewish culture remained strong. In February 1994, 
the city of Frankfurt sponsored a five-day symposium, "Jewish Culture in Frankfurt 
from the Beginning to the Present." There were numerous lectures on Frankfurt 
Jewish history, including a talk by "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer about her experiences 
growing up as a Jewish child in Frankfurt. There was also a highly praised produc- 
tion of an 18th-century Frankfurt Purim play, staged by director Aryeh Eldar with 
amateur actors. 

In March 1994, the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt sponsored an Israeli 
Culture Festival, with more than 70 events, including Israeli dance groups and an 
exhibition in Magdeburg on the history of the Jews in Saxony-Anhalt. In September 
Frankfurt held a two-week Jewish cultural festival, with events ranging from con- 
certs by the Israel Philharmonic to a show by American comedian Jackie Mason. 
In November Berlin held its eighth annual Jewish Cultural Days, focusing on Jewish 
life in Paris. Numerous French-Jewish performers came to Berlin for the monthlong 
festival, which included exhibitions and a film series. 

In late 1994, the city of Saarbriicken held its third Jewish cultural festival, with 
more than 20 events, including a three-part play on the fate of children in ghettos 
and concentration camps. Saarbrucken's German-Israeli Society sponsored "Israeli 
Days," in June 1995. Bremen held a two-month Israel Festival in the spring of 1995, 
including a concert of works by composers murdered in the Holocaust. In April 
1995, Leipzig held its first "Week of Jewish Culture." 

Several prominent theater productions in this period were based on Jewish 
themes. In January 1994, the so called "Jewsical," Meschugge Vor Hoffnung (Crazy 
with Hope), opened in Hamburg at the Kammerspiele. The depiction of Eastern 
European shtetl culture was based on Joseph Green's 1 938 film A Brivele der Mamen 
and on Isaac Bashevis Singer's story "The Man from Cracow." Critics called the 
production unimaginative and poorly staged. 

A more successful production, in Hamburg, a month later, was Unheilbar 
Deutsch (Terminally German). The play was adapted from a book of interviews with 
German right-wingers by the Austrian Jewish journalist Peter Sichrovsky. Israeli 
director Joshua Sobol, whose work is popular in Germany, staged the premiere in 
June 1994 in DUsseldorf of Love/y Toni, a play based on a book by Peter Finkelgruen 
that describes his attempt to bring to trial the SS men who murdered his grandfa- 

One of the most important recent cultural events in Germany was the opening 
of the film Schindler's List. Director Steven Spielberg came to the gala opening in 
Frankfurt on March 1, 1994, which was attended by the German president and 
numerous German and Jewish dignitaries. The movie got overwhelmingly positive 
reviews. Within a year, an estimated six million Germans saw the film, including 
large numbers of schoolchildren. 

Four films of Jewish interest were presented at the Berlin Film Festival in Febru- 
ary 1994. The French production Im Talder Wupper (In the Valley of the Wupper), 


by director Amos Gitai, based on an actual incident (see "Anti-Semitism and 
Extremism," above), explores the murder by skinheads in a bar in Wuppertaiofa 
man they wrongly suspect is Jewish. American musician Yale Strom presented his 
film The Last Klezmer, a moving profile of Leopold Kozlowski, one of the last 
klezmer musicians in Poland. In Choice and Fate, Israeli director Tsipi Reibenbach 
chronicles her parents' response to her endless questions about the Holocaust. 
Balagan (Chaos), by German director Andres Veiel, presents young Israeli and 
Arab actors who perform a play attacking what they consider to be a cult of the 
Holocaust in Israel. 

There was a special showing of Israeli films at the 1995 Berlin Film Festival, and 
because of the strength of the entries, the showings were sold out. The films included 
Sh'Chur, Shmuel Hasafri's look at the role of North African culture in Israel; 
Aharey Hahagim, by Amnon Rubinstein, a critical story about Israel's pioneer 
generation of the 1920s; Leonid Gorovets's Coffee with Lemon, about a Russian 
actor in Israel; Michal Bat Adam's reflections on her childhood, Autobiographia 
Dimyonit; the comedy. The Song of the Sirens, by Eytan Fox; and Assi Dayan's 
Smicha Hashmalit, the second part of his trilogy about an aging prostitute. 

The most important exhibition about Jewish life was that of the Frankfurt Jewish 
Museum on the history of the Rothschild family, which opened in October 1994 and 
continued for six months. In February 1994, more than 70 members of the Roth- 
schild family — most from the British and French branches — came to Frankfurt in 
honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of family patriarch Meyer Amschel. 
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and other dignitaries attended a reception for the family 
at the Jewish Museum. 

A second exhibition at the Frankfurt museum chronicled the rescue of several 
hundred German Jewish children during World War II by the Rothschild family, 
who arranged their escape to England and Palestine. In January 1995, a private 
group brought back several dozen of the former children to Frankfurt, to visit their 
home town and view the two Rothschild exhibitions. 

There were dedication ceremonies in Berlin in May 1995 for that city's new 
Jewish museum. The building, in the shape of a lightening flash, was designed by 
well-known Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind. Building completion was scheduled 
for 1996. Director Amnon Barzel planned exhibitions on current Jewish themes, 
integrating multimedia resources. In the still unfinished building, the museum 
opened its first exhibition in May 1995 on Jews in Sarajevo, with photographs by 
American photo-journalist Ed Serotta. 

German-Jewish composer Berthold Goldschmidt, who fled from the Nazis in 
1935 to England, celebrated a musical comeback in Germany. The 1994 annual 
Berlin Festival opened with a performance of Goldschmidt's 1949 opera, Beatrice 
Cenci. And the Komische Oper in Berlin staged a premiere of Goldschmidt's first 
opera, Der Gewaltige Hahnrei (The Powerful Cuckold). The Nazis canceled the 
original premiere, scheduled at the Berlin City Opera the winter of 1933-34. 



In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, numerous works 
related to the Holocaust were published. One of the most important was a new 
translation by musician Wolf Biermann of Jitzchak Katzenelson's Grosser Gesang 
mm Ausgerotteten Judischen Volk {The Great Hymn of the Exterminated Jewish 
People). The poem about Jewish suflFering and resistance was the last testament of 
Polish poet Katzenelson. In remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the end of the 
Holocaust, Biermann was invited to present his translation of the poem in the 

Holocaust survivor Amo Lustiger published the first comprehensive book in 
German documenting Jewish resistance to the Nazis: Zum Kampf auf Leben und 
Tod! Das Buch vom Widerstand der Juden 1933-1945 (The Fight for Life and 
Death! The Book of Jewish Resistance 1933-1945). Lustiger was also the curator 
of an exhibition in June 1995 at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt on Jewish resist- 

Amo Lustiger and Yitzhak Arad were coeditors of the first German edition of 
Das Schwarzbuch — Der Genozidan den Sowjetischen Juden (The Black Book — The 
Genocide of the Soviet Jews), a compilation of eyewitness accounts collected in the 
1940s by Ilja Ehrenburg and Wassili Grossman that was heavily censored by Soviet 
authorities. The German edition is based on the original uncensored manuscript, 
which Lustiger found in Moscow in the archives of the former Soviet secret service. 

Holocaust researcher Raul Hilberg published his autobiography in German, 
Unerbetene Erinnening — Der Wegeines Holocaust-Forschers (The Politics of Mem- 
ory — The Path of a Holocaust Researcher). The classic two-volume work by Her- 
mann Langbein, Der Auschwitz-Prozess; eine Dokumentation (The Auschwitz Trial: 
A Documentation), was reissued. Martina Kliner-Fruck collected stories of Holo- 
caust survivors in "Es Ging Ja Um '5 Uberleben ": Judische Frauen zwischen Nazi- 
Deutschland, Emigration nach Paldstina und ihrer Ruckkehr ("It Was a Matter of 
Survival": Jewish Women Caught Between Nazi Germany, Emigration to Palestine, 
and the Return Home). Ilka Quindeau, of the University of Frankfurt's Institute for 
Psychoanalysis, published Trauma und Geschichte — Interpretationen Autobiogra- 
phischer Erzdhlungen von Uberlebenden des Holocaust (Trauma and History — 
Interpretations of Autobiographical Accounts of Holocaust Survivors). 

Frido Mann, a grandson of Thomas Mann, authored Terezin: Der FUhrer schenkt 
den Juden ein Stadt — Eine Parabel (Theresienstadt: The Fiihrer Gives the Jews a 
Qty — A Parable), a novel based on Czech composer Victor Oilman's opera The 
Kaiser from Atlantis, written and performed in the Theresienstadt ghetto. Mann's 
great aunt was interned in Theresienstadt, and his uncle was with the American unit 
that liberated the ghetto. 

Micha Brumlik's Schrift, Wort und Ikone — Wege aus dem Bilderverbot (Script, 
Word, and Icon — Ways out of the Ban on Pictures) analyzes the roots of Judaism. 
The letters of philosopher Hannah Arendt and her close friend Kurt Blumenfeld 


are contained in Keinem Besitz Verwurzelt ( . . . Not Attached to Property). 

Since 1960, more than 2,000 monographs had been published in Germany profil- 
ing former German Jewish communities and personalities. In 1994 and early 1995 
books were published on former Jewish life in the states of North Rhine- Westphalia 
and Lower Saxony, and in the cities of Hamburg, Leipzig, Niimberg, Soest, and 
Emmerich. In Suhl, in eastern Germany, a local historian spent decades collecting 
information on the town's former Jewish community, but could only publish the 
information after the collapse of the Communist regime. 

A group of German and Israeli writers who had been meeting regularly since 1989 

published a collection of stories, Der Vogel Fdhrt empor ah kleiner Ranch Ein 

Deutsch-lsraelisches Lesebuch (The Bird Flies Heavenward as a Puff of Smoke— 
A German-Israeli Reader). 

Richard Chaim Schneider's Between Worlds: A Jewish Childhood in Contempo- 
rary Germany presents a highly mixed picture of postwar Jewish life in Germany. 
Schneider concludes: "Nowhere in the world do Jews hve with such fractures in 
their souls as in Germany. Jews in Germany live with an oppressive past and face 
an uncertain future." The soul-searching of Schneider's book is a recurrent theme 
of the essays in Jewish Voices, German Words, edited by Elena Lappin, the first 
Enghsh-language anthology of works by the emerging group of postwar German- 
Jewish writers. Two other Enghsh-language anthologies of essays about Jewish life 
in Germany are Susan Stern's Speaking Out: Jewish Voices from United Germany, 
and Uri Kaufmann's Jewish Life in Germany Today. 

The short stories by the young Jewish author Maxim Biller in Land der VHter und 
Verrdter (Land of the Fathers and Traitors) portray European and German Jewish 
life in the 20th century. The latest book by the eastern German-Jewish writer Chaim 
Noll, who hved in Rome, was the essay Leben ohne Deutschland (Life Without 
Germany). A group of Jews from the former East Germany write about their 
Communist convictions and their recent discovery of Judaism in Zwischen Thora 
und Trabant (Between Torah and Trabi). East German writer Stefan Heym's latest 
novel, Radek, is based on the life of Polish Jew Karl Radek, a fascinating figure in 
the Bolshevik revolution. Heym was now a member of Parliament for the reform 
Communist Party. 


The Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic 
of Germany) was given to Edita Koch, founder and pubhsher of the magazine ijt/7, 
for her commitment to disseminating German emigre Hterature. Koch's parents are 
Czech Jews who moved to Germany in 1968. Other recipients included Alfred 
Rosenthal, the former director of the Jewish National Fund office in Germany. 
Historian Arno Lustiger, one of the founders of the Frankfurt Jewish community, 
was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of 
Germany. Dr. Simon Snopkowski, president of the Bavarian Jewish community. 


received the Knight Commander's Cross (Badge & Star) of the Order of Merit for 
his outstanding service to the Jewish community. 

The city of Oldenburg awarded the Carl-von-Ossietzy Prize to Israel Gutman, the 
former director of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, for his 
publication oi Encyclopedia of the Holocaust: The Persecution and Murder of Euro- 
pean Jews. Frankfurt am Main awarded an honorary medal to German-Jewish 
theologian and philosopher Pinchas Lapide, for his renewal of the interfaith dia- 
logue launched in the early part of the century by Martin Buber and Franz Rosen- 

The Medal for Art and Science of the Hamburg Senate was awarded to the 
German-bom Israeli historian Naftali Bar-Giora Bamberger for his research on 
Jewish history in Germany. The city also gave the Senator Biermann Ratjen Medal 
to singer Esther Bejarano, a concentration camp survivor, for her special contribu- 
tion to the city's cultural life. Her music group "Coincidence" specializes in songs 
of Jewish resistance and peace. 

The Heinz Galinski Foundation gave its annual award to former German presi- 
dent Richard von Weizsacker for his courageous personal and public confrontation 
with German history. Von Weizsacker donated the DM 50,000 prize money to the 
Berlin Jewish community, for use in the absorption of Jews from the former Soviet 
Union. German- Jewish writers Inge Deutschkron and Heinz Knobloch received the 
1994 Berlin Moses Mendelssohn Prize for their promotion of tolerance and civil 

American lawyer and novelist Louis Begley was awarded the city of Bremer- 
haven's 1995 Jeanette Schocken Prize for Literature, for his account of his survival 
during World War II as a Jewish child in Poland, Wartime Lies. The 1995 literature 
prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation went to German-Jewish writer Hilde 
Domin, who began writing during her years of exile from Nazi Germany. 

Among prominent Jews who died in 1994 and early 1995 were several founding 
members of the postwar community: Max Willner, head of the Hessen Association 
of Jewish communities and a former director of the Central Jewish Welfare Office, 
who, after surviving four concentration camps, helped refound the Offenbach Jewish 
community after the war, in January, 1994; Josef Fraenkel, who refounded Darm- 
stadt's Jewish community in 1946, also in January 1994; and Rafael Scharf-Katz, 
the head of the Jewish community ofThuringia, who helped rebuild Erfurt's Jewish 
community after German unification, in early 1995. 

Deidre Berger 


National Affairs 

X. HE PERIOD 1993 THROUGH the middle of 1995 brought a number of 
important developments: Austria's entry into full membership in the European 
Union (EU); a decline in the popularity of the ruling coalition and a rise in that of 
the right; an increase in right-wing violence; and a long-awaited decision by the 
government to compensate Austrian Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 

The referendum in June on Austria's admission into the European Union and the 
national election in October dominated the Austrian political scene in 1994. The two 
governing parties, the Socialist Party and its junior coalition partner, the People's 
Party, favored admission into the EU, while the right-wing Freedom Party (Frei- 
heitliche Partei Osterreichs, FPO) was opposed. Supporters of membership argued 
that a vote in favor would keep Austria in Europe's political and economic main- 
stream and give it a voice in determining its policies. Chancellor Franz Vranitzky 
and Foreign Minister Alois Mock, who was largely responsible for negotiating the 
terms of Austria's admission, warned that a negative vote would isolate Austria and 
prompt foreign investors to bypass it in favor of other EU countries. Freedom Party 
leader Jorg Haider, in opposing entry, warned that membership in the 12-nation 
organization would result in a loss of national identity and a threat to Austria's 
long-standing policy of neutrality. Two-thirds of the electorate voted in favor of EU 
membership — it entered into force on December 30, 1994 — which provided a 
strong boost for the government and was widely seen as a severe defeat for the FPO. 

As it turned out, neither of the two ruling coalition partners proved able to 
capitalize on the EU outcome in the general elections that took place on October 
9, 1994. Both suffered heavy losses — largely to the Freedom Party and to two 
smaller parties — with their joint share of the vote plummeting by 12 percent, their 
worst showing in 50 years. The outcome, political observers agreed, represented the 
most radical change in Austrian national politics since the establishment of the 
Second Republic in 1945. 

Overall, the Social Democrats won 65 seats in Parliament, a loss of 15 seats; the 
conservative People's Party managed to win 52 seats, a loss of 8. Jorg Haider, the 
populist FPO leader who dominated the campaign with tirades against foreigners, 
corruption, and the entrenched party rule, attracted enough votes to become the 
main opposition leader. His party won 42 seats in the 183-seat legislature, 9 more 
than in 1 990. The environmentalist Greens, who succeeded in becoming a cohesive 
political force under the leadership of Madaleine Petrovic, increased their represen- 
tation from 10 to 1 3 seats, while the Liberal Forum, a breakaway faction of the FPO, 
won 10 seats. 


AUSTRIA / 301 

After seven weeks of postelection bargaining over ministerial seats, the Socialist 
Party and the Peoples' Party agreed to reestablish a coalition government. There 
were few cabinet changes in the new government that was sworn in on November 
29, 1994. Chancellor Vranitzky continued to head the government, and Alois Mock 
again took up the foreign ministry portfolio. The coalition government. Chancellor 
Vranitzky pledged, would strive for "continuity and stability." 

Although many people undoubtedly voted for the Freedom Party as a protest 
against the perceived complacency and corruption of the ruling parties, others were 
attracted to it because of its strident populist stance. Haider had promised that 
should he become chancellor, illegal immigrants would be expelled and jobless 
foreigners would be sent home. These views were emblematic of Haider's party, 
which had become a nesting ground for right-wing extremists and old Nazis. 

Haider lost the governorship of his home province of Carinthia in 1991 after 
effectively praising the "orderly labor policies during the Third Reich" and gave his 
critics more fuel when he insisted that Romas (Gypsies) had been taken to "work 
camps," not concentration camps, during World War H. Also troubhng was 
Haider's political philosophy, which favored subordinating Parliament to a strong 
executive and weakening or even abolishing political parties in favor of a plebiscitary 
form of popular rule. 


Anti-immigrant sentiment sharpened as large numbers of foreigners entered the 
country following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the continued fighting in 
Bosnia. In response, the government tightened legislation, making it difficult for 
asylum seekers to gain entry and setting quotas for new immigrants. As a result, 
the number of asylum seekers allowed into the country fell drastically. In 1993, only 
1,193 persons were admitted, out of a total 15,885 seeking asylum, an approval rate 
of 7.5 percent. Official figures counted 600,000 foreigners in Austria in 1994, fewer 
than 8 percent of the 7.6 million population. More than 10 percent of them were 
Unemployed, compared with 5.5 percent of the overall work force. 

Seeking to capitalize on growing public resentment toward foreigners. Freedom 
Party leader Haider proposed a ten-point popular initiative (Volksbegehren) that 
would severely curtail immigration and place certain restrictions on foreigners living 
in the country. The initiative's supporters garnered 416,000 signatures in January 
1993, far short of the million that Haider had initially predicted but a not insignifi- 
cant number favoring restrictive immigration pohcies. 

Israel and the Middle East 

Relations between Israel and Austria improved significantly after Thomas Klestil 
succeeded Kurt Waldheim as president of Austria in 1992. The following year. 
Chancellor Franz Vranitzky made an official visit to Israel, the first ever by an 
Austrian head of government. The chancellor spoke of "a new beginning" in rela- 


tions by addressing still unresolved issues of the Nazi past. He publicly acknowl- 
edged that Austria had to own up to its responsibility for the crimes of Nazi 
Germany but rejected the idea that his country bore collective guilt for this past. 

Vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek, who also served as minister of science and tech- 
nology, made a follow-up visit in February 1 994 and signed a wide-ranging agro- 
ment with the Israeli government on scientific cooperation. The agreement involved 
the Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, and theTechnion. 
There were, as a result of these and other agreements, 30 ongoing projects in the 
fields of medicine, physics, other natural sciences, and the humanities. In the 
humanities, two projects were approved, one, dealing with the history of the Jews 
in Austria and the other with Austrian-Israeli relations after the Holocaust. In 
addition, a chair in Austrian studies was established at the Hebrew University. 

Reflecting this good relationship was a continuing traffic of high-ranking officials 
between the two countries. The president of the Austrian Parliament, Heinz Fischer, 
paid an official visit to Israel in March 1 994. In return, a number of leading Israeli 
government officials, including Minister of Trade and Industry Micha Harish, came 
to Vienna in November, at the invitation of the Austrian government. Of particular 
significance was the unofficial visit in June 1994 of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, 
who met with Chancellor Vranitzky and with his Austrian counterpart, Alois Mock. 

This exchange in political visits culminated in the official visit to Israel on Novem- 
ber 13, 1994, of Federal President Thomas Klestil, the first ever by an Austrian head 
of state. Included in his entourage were Foreign Minister Mock, Minister of Educa- 
tion Rudolf Scholten, and Minister of the Environment Maria Rauch-Kallat. Lead- 
ing members of Austria's Jewish community also made up the official party, notably 
the president of the Jewish community, Paul Grosz, Chief Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg, 
and Simon Wiesenthal. 

In an address before the Knesset, President Klestil, while failing to offer an official 
apology to the Jewish people for Nazi atrocities, acknowledged the complicity of 
many Austrians in these acts. "We know full well," the Austrian president stated, 
"that all too often we have only spoken of Austria as the first state to have lost its 
freedom and independence to National Socialism, and far too seldom of the fact that 
many of the worst henchmen in the Nazi dictatorship were Austrians. . . . And no 
word of apology can ever expunge the agony of the Holocaust. On behalf of the 
Republic of Austria, I bow my head with deep respect and profound emotion in 
front of the victims." Rejecting the idea of collective guilt, Klestil said that it was 
wrong to hold all Austrians responsible for the Nazi regime and its deeds. And while 
raising the subject of compensation for Austrian Jewish Holocaust victims, he did 
not say whether the government was prepared to do anything about it. 

President Klestil's state visit pointed up the solid political ties between the two 
countries. Vienna, which strongly supported the Madrid peace process, welcomed 
the agreement between Israel and the PLO for the creation of a Palestinian authority 
in Gaza and Jericho. The government pledged 200 million schillings ($ 10 million) 
over a five-year period for the strengthening of schools and health and sanitation 

AUSTRIA / 303 

facilities in the territories under the Palestinian Authority. It also took an active role 
in the five multilateral regional meetings linked to the peace process, dealing with 
energy, refugees, water resources, the environment, and disarmament. 

Chancellor Vranitzky and Finance Minister Ferdinand Lacina, along with mem- 
bers of the Austrian business community, attended the three-day Middle East and 
North Africa economic summit that was held in Casablanca at the end of October 
1994. Austrian companies evinced a strong interest in participating in investment 
programs in national and regional projects once peace in the region was firmly 

In the United Nations, Austria followed a policy that was generally favorable to 
Israel. A similar attitude was in evidence in regard to Israel's interests in the 
European Free Trade Association (EFT), where it held associate member status. As 
a member of the European Union, Austria was expected to be favorably disposed 
toward Israeli interests in this more important community of Western European 

Trade between the two countries increased over previous years, with the total 
annual amount estimated to be $200 million. Austria's exports were made up largely 
of manufactured goods, metals, and machinery, while imports from Israel included 
textiles, agricultural goods, and medical equipment. 

Tourism between Israel and Austria continued to show gains, with an estimated 
28,000 Austrians visiting Israel in 1994 and 55,000 Israehs travehng to Austria. The 
national carriers, Austrian Airlines (AUA) and El Al, maintained regular service 
between the two countries. The Jewish Welcome Service, a branch of the Austrian 
Tourist Office, assisted tourists from abroad to become acquainted with Jewish life 
in Vienna and arranged individual tours from Austria and Israel. Its director. Dr. 
Leon Zelmann, a prominent personality in the Jewish community and a survivor 
of the Mauthausen concentration camp, frequently addressed students on the Holo- 
caust and Austria's treatment of Jews during the Nazi period. 

Holocaust-Related Matters 

In ceremonies observing the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, 
President Klestil, in a speech dehvered in April 1995, adopted a more forthright 
position on Austria's wartime role by depicting it as an ally of Nazi Germany. He 
urged Austrians to acknowledge "Austria's participation in the war on the side of 
Hitler's Germany." 

In June 1995 the Austrian Parliament voted to pay compensation to an estimated 
30,000 victims persecuted during the period of Nazi rule. The government-spon- 
sored bill, which was supported by lawmakers across the political spectrum, estab- 
lished a $50-minion fund to compensate those who were sent to concentration camps 
because they were Jews, Communists, or homosexuals, and those who fled into exile. 
The government reported that it had the names and addresses of 12,000 people who 
were eligible to receive compensation. 


Although the bill gained wide support in Parliament, it was strongly attacked by 
the Greens, who called the 50-year delay in setting up the fund a disgrace and 
criticized the amount offered as falling far short of what should be paid out. Instead 
they demanded the government make $150 million available over five years. Also 
critical of the measure was Jewish community president Paul Grosz, who expressed 
concern because the bill did not specify the amount of money each person would 
receive and whether former victims could claim additional compensation in special 


Despite a rising tide of xenophobia, there were no major incidents of anti-Semi- 
tism in the country. While anti-Semitic prejudice in the population at large appeared 
to have declined, it remained alarmingly high among those who expressed support 
for the Freedom Party. A poll conducted by the Gallup Institute of Austria for the 
American Jewish Committee, between January 17 and March 1, 1995, showed that 
FPO supporters — who accounted for 21 percent of all respondents in the survey- 
were much more likely than other Austrians to harbor negative feelings toward 
Jews. Thus, 41 percent of FPO supporters, as against 27 percent of other Austrians, 
beUeve that "now, as in the past, Jews exert too much influence on world events." 
In addition, 36 percent of FPO supporters, as compared with 24 percent of other 
Austrians, "prefer not" to have Jewish neighbors, and 28 percent — versus 17 per- 
cent of other Austrians — think that Jews have "too much influence" on Austrian 

A similar pattern holds for Holocaust-related issues, with 43 percent of Freedom 
Party supporters, as against 3 1 percent of other Austrians, believing that 50 years 
after World War II, "... it is time to put the memory of the Holocaust behind 
us." In addition, 41 percent of FPO supporters, as against 25 percent of other 
Austrians, believe that "Jews were exploiting the Nazi Holocaust for their own 
purposes." Finally, 17 percent of FPO supporters, versus 5 percent of other Austri- 
ans, maintain that it "seems possible that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never 

Overall, attitudes toward Jews had improved since the last comparable poll in 
1991. In the new survey, 19 percent of all Austrians, as compared with 28 percent 
in 1991, see Jews as having "too much influence" in Austrian society; 29 percent 
of all Austrians in 1995, versus 37 percent four years earlier, maintain that "now, 
as in the past, Jews exert too much influence on world events"; and the percentage 
of Austrians who "prefer not" to have Jews as neighbors declined to 26 percent from 
31 percent. In addition, 28 percent of Austrians in 1995, compared to 32 percent 
in 1991, beUeve that "Jews are exploiting the Nazi Holocaust for their own pur- 

The findings concerning supporters of the Freedom Party were particularly dis- 
turbing, given its growing political importance at the national, regional, and local 

AUSTRIA / 305 

levels. One encouraging sign was the decision of the FPO to vote with the govern- 
ment in supporting compensation for Jews, Communists, homosexuals, and others 
who were persecuted during the Nazi period. On the negative side were the party's 
continued strident attacks against foreigners and Haider's utterances about the Nazi 

Right-wing Extremism and Neo-Nazism 

A relatively new and threatening development was the mailing of letter bombs 
to public figures known for their liberal and pro-foreigner sentiment. The most 
prominent target was Vienna's Mayor Helmut Zilk, who suffered severe injuries 
from a bomb explosion in December 1993. Letter bombs were also sent to a 
Slovenian publisher in the southern city of Klagenfurt and a Tyrolean paper factory 
that employed many foreigners. Although these two bombs failed to go off, another 
that was mailed to a school for Slovenian children in Klagenfurt in August 1994 
exploded, causing a police bomb expert to lose both hands. The level of violence 
escalated in February 1995 when, in the worst incident of racial terrorism in 50 
years, four Romas (Gypsies) were killed by a pipe bomb in the town of Oberwart. 
A shadowy neo-Nazi group calling itself the Bavarian Liberation Army claimed 
responsibility for most of the attacks. 

An Austrian court sentenced neo-Nazi Gottfried Kuessel to 10 years in prison 
(later increased to 1 1 years) following his conviction in September 1993 for founding 
an extreme right-wing organization called the People's Loyal Extraparliamentary 
Opposition (Volkstreuer Ausserparliamentarisch Opposition, VAPO), which pub- 
licly espoused neo-Nazi sentiments. After he was first arrested in January 1992, 
Kuessel's deputy and other members of VAPO were imprisoned for neo-Nazi 
activities. Kuessel had once described Hitler as one of the greatest Germans of all 
time; his group was thought to have links to the neo-Nazi underground active in 
Germany and across Europe. The long prison sentence imposed on Kuessel reflected 
a trend in the Austrian judiciary to adopt a tougher stance toward those convicted 
of right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi activities. 

After the jailing of their leader, Gottfried Kuessel, many right-wing and neo-Nazi 
groups began to operate in small underground cells that the police were unable to 
penetrate. It was widely believed that the right-wing political climate fostered the 
growth of neo-Nazi and extreme right-wing militancy, and that the militants main- 
tained strong, clandestine ties with neo-Nazi groups in Germany, aided at times by 
shared computer networks. 

A book titled Handbuch des Oesterreichen Rechtsextremismus appeared in 1993, 
detailing the names and activities of far-right organizations. The book attracted a 
good deal of public attention when Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider sought an 
injunction to stop its publication because it showed his picture on the cover. A court 
ruled that the publisher would no longer be allowed to circulate copies of the book 
that featured Haider's picture. 



The Jewish population of Austria was undergoing changes in size, age, and 
composition. It was getting larger and younger and becoming more varied, but its 
growth was almost certain to slow down, if not stop, due to newly enacted restrictive 
immigration and asylum laws. There were 8,000 Jews registered with the Israeliti- 
sche Kultusgemeinde, the official Jewish communal body, but knowledgeable ob- 
servers claimed that the actual number in the country was at least twice that figure. 
Many Jews chose not to be counted as members of the community and hence did 
not figure in the official count. 

Reflecting past demographic residential patterns, the overwhelming majority of 
Jews were concentrated in Vienna, with only about 300 to 400 making their homes 
in the large provincial cities of Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, and Linz. 

Whereas in the past, the main source of population growth had been immigration 
from the former Soviet republics, this had virtually come to a halt; the small but 
steady growth was now due to increased fertility rates, mainly among the Sephardic 
and Orthodox Jews. (Most of the Sephardic Jews came from the former Soviet 
repubUcs of Georgia and Uzbekistan (Bukhara), and a smaller number from Tajikis- 
tan.) It was generally agreed that the faster-growing Sephardic community, which 
accounted for roughly a quarter of the registered community membership, would 
outstrip the Ashkenazic community in size in the not too distant future. The mainly 
Russian-speaking Sephardic Jews were already making their voices heard in com- 
munal councils by requesting more funds to promote their integration into Austrian 

Communal Affairs 

The Austrian Jewish community conducted its affairs through an elected Board 
of Deputies of the Kultusgemeinde, made up of 24 members representing its main 
religious and social groupings. Its chief duties were to allocate the community's 
112-million schilling ($11 million) budget and select a president. In May 1993, the 
board selected Hofrat (Counselor) Paul Grosz for a second four-year term as 
community president. In this capacity, he was the Jewish community's acknowl- 
edged spokesperson and was responsible for implementing the board's decisions. 

Elections in 1993 revealed a deep split within the board over the allocation of 
funds. Two groups, the Alternative List and the Young Generation, which had 
merged in 1992, continued to hold half the seats; the other 12 were divided among 
five different groups: the Bund, Sepharadim, Mahazikai Hadat, Mizrachi, and Tik- 
kun. These groups banded together to present a united front, mainly in support of 
increased funding for religious activities. For a while, this faction, which called itself 
the Jewish Platform, boycotted board meetings when their demands went unheeded. 

AUSTRIA / 307 

The rift was healed when the board agreed to allocate more funds for religious 

The Sephardic Center, which opened it doors for religious services and social 
activities in 1993 amid great ceremony, continued to show signs of vitality. By the 
end of 1994, its membership had grown to 3,000. Located in the second district — 
the center of Vienna's prewar Jewish population — the Sephardic Center was home 
to two synagogues, one for Bukharan Jews and the other for Georgian Jews. Both 
synagogues had daily services. An indication of the growing influence of the Se- 
pharadim in community affairs was the size of their representation on the Board of 
Deputies, where they held three seats. 

Or Hadash Synagogue, founded in 1990, conducted Sabbath and holiday services 
and maintained a small religious school (talmud torah) for its approximately 1 50 
members. The congregation, which is affiliated with the World Union for Progres- 
sive Judaism, was serviced by visiting rabbis following the departure of its resident 
rabbi at the end of 1992. The worship services and religious practices are comparable 
to those of left-wing American Conservative Judaism. Or Hadash's development 
had been slowed because of the refusal of the Kultusgemeinde to grant it recogni- 
tion. Orthodox groups had reportedly threatened to withdraw from that communal 
body if it recognized the fledgling congregation. 

A new house of worship, the Rambam Synagogue, was opened in 1994. The 
synagogue is located in the Maimonides Center, the geriatric institute of the Kultus- 
gemeinde, home to 1 SO elderly residents. 


Despite its small numbers, the Jewish community supported a growing network 
of all-day and part-time schools and a yeshivah. The leading day school, the Zvi 
Peretz Chayes School, with an enrollment of 3 1 7 boys and girls, offered classes from 
kindergarten to the 12th grade. The Chabad-Lubavitch School, with a kindergarten 
and grades five through eight, had an enrollment of approximately 220 pupils. A 
major aim of both schools was to integrate the children, a great many of whom came 
from the former Soviet Union, into the life of the Jewish community. A third day 
school, known as the Orthodox School, with classes ranging from kindergarten to 
eighth grade, had an enrollment of about 200 pupils. Or Hadash, the Progressive 
synagogue, ran its own afternoon Hebrew school, in which some 12 children were 

An Adult Education School offered a wide range of evening courses on Jewish 
topics to the general public. The school, which was largely supported by the city 
of Vienna, attracted a growing number of non-Jewish as well as Jewish students. Its 
main purpose was to make accessible to non-Jews opportunities to learn about 
Judaism and Jewish history. 



Austria experienced a strong revival of interest in Jewish history and culture. 
Numerous exhibitions, lectures, film festivals, literary events, and television pro- 
grams were devoted to Jewish topics. A regular feature of the Vienna cultural scene 
were the Jewish Culture Weeks held in May and November. These events included 
concerts, literary gatherings, poetry readings, and films about Jewish life. A Jewish 
film week was held in October 1 994 in Vienna on the theme of Jewish humor in film. 
The annual cantorial concerts were held in 1993 and 1994 in Vienna's Stadttempel 
and continued to attract leading cantors from many different countries. 

An Institute for the History of the Jews in Austria was established in St. Polten, 
on the premises of the former synagogue of that city. An international symposium 
involving scholars from Israel, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria was held 
at the institute in May 1994 to discuss the history of the Jews in Austria. 

A major cultural event was the opening in November 1993 of the Jewish Museum 
of Vienna, located in Palais Eskeles in Vienna's first district, at Dorotheergasse 11. 
The museum's opening exhibition, "Teitelbaum Once Lived Here," presented a 
history of Jewish Vienna; there were also two photographic exhibitions on Sigmund 
Freud. The museum subsequently offered a display of early works of Marc Chagall 
and a show of works by the Austrian Jewish painter Max Oppenheim, as well as 
other exhibitions. The Chagall exhibition, presented in the spring of 1994, showed 
little-known works of the renowned artist that were created in his native Russia. The 
40 paintings were on loan to the Jewish Museum from various museums and 
galleries in Russia. The museum held an exhibition marking the centenary of the 
birth of Joseph Roth (1894-1939), one of Austria's foremost writers. Another 
exhibition, "Workers and Revolutionaries," opened in November 1994, on loan 
from Tel Aviv's Beth Hatefutsoth (Diaspora Museum). It portrayed through pic- 
tures, film, and artifacts the history of the Jewish labor movement from the 19th 
to the mid-20th centuries, in Austria, England, Palestine, Russia, Poland, and the 
United States. In addition, the museum presented an exhibition on the history of 
the Jewish community of Sarajevo. The museum's library, which holds 30,000 
volumes and manuscripts on Jewish topics in German, Hebrew, Yiddish, and En- 
glish, was opened to the public on November 24, 1994. Following its opening, the 
museum quickly became a major cultural center of Vienna; in the first year, it 
attracted 120,000 visitors. 


Simon Wiesenthal, whose efforts at tracking down Nazi war criminals had 
brought him international renown, was the recipient of numerous honors. In 1993 
he was awarded the Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, by the Austrian 
government. He received the University of Gratz's Human Rights Prize and was 
awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the University of Innsbruck. 

AUSTRIA / 309 

Thomas Moskowitz, the president of Bank Winter, was responsible for the sale 
of a record SI 24 million of Israeli development bonds to a number of Austrian 
banks. A ceremony marking the event was held in the Palais Schwarzenberg in June 
1994 and was attended by numerous personalities from Austria's financial commu- 
nity, as well as by Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Israeli foreign minister Shimon 
Peres. Moskowitz organized the ceremony in memory of his father, Simon Mosko- 
witz, founder of Bank Winter and a prominent philanthropist, who died early that 

Murray Gordon 

East-Central Europe 

X HROUGHOUT 1994 AND EARLY 1995, the revival of Jewish communi- 
ties in East-Central Europe continued apace. A number of communities registered 
growth in numbers, and hundreds of young people who did not have a Jewish 
upbringing, or who may not have known about their Jewish heritage, or who had 
only one Jewish parent (not necessarily the mother) flocked by the hundreds to 
increasingly well-organized classes, schools, and other formal and informal pro- 
grams about Judaism and Jewish life. 

Efforts to promote cross-border cooperation among the various Jewish organiza- 
tions and communities in the region and beyond took more concrete shape. The 
European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) took particular lead in coordinat- 
ing a number of conferences, seminars, get-togethers, and exchanges. Relations 
between East-Central European countries and Israel also continued to develop in 
a positive way. 

Among the issues of concern were the rise of nationalism and right-wing extrem- 
ism — including violent skinhead groups, extremist political parties, and continuing 
attempts to rehabilitate local wartime fascist or pro-Nazi figures — and the question 
of restitution of Jewish property taken over during or after World War II by the 
state or private individuals. 


In December 1994 elections, the former Communists, now called the Bulgarian 
Socialist Party, won 43.5 percent of the vote and an absolute majority of 125 seats 
in the 240-seat National Assembly. Although industrial output grew and financial 
indicators were up sharply, economic conditions continued to be rough for Bulgari- 
ans, with December 1994 inflation topping 120 percent and 1994 unemployment 
topping 17 percent. 

Bulgaria was honored on the world stage in 1994 for the role it played in rescuing 
its 50,000 Jews during World War II. In April President Zhelyu Zhelev attended 
a ceremony in Paris, organized by the permanent delegations of Bulgaria and Israel 
to UNESCO, along with the European Jewish Congress, commemorating the rescue 
of Bulgarian Jews during World War II. Zhelev said he hoped for a Europe where 
anti-Semitism and xenophobia would not be tolerated. Several months earlier, Zhe- 
lev received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University, awarded in recogni- 
tion of Bulgaria's actions in World War II. At a ceremony in New York in May, 
King Boris III of Bulgaria was posthumously presented the Moral Statesman 
Award by the Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers of the Anti-Defamation 



Although there were no serious episodes of anti-Semitism in the period covered, 
in February 1995 leaders of the Bulgarian Jewish community told President Zhelev 
they were concerned over "increasingly frequent anti-Semitic and xenophobic publi- 
cations." During the year there were also several incidents of vandalism against 
Jewish targets. 


There were some 4,500-5,000 Jews in Bulgaria, most of them living in Sofia and 
Plovdiv. The community's large proportion of professionals — more than 60 profes- 
sors, more than 80 lawyers, and about 75 medical doctors, as well as artists, re- 
searchers, and the like — gave it high visibility. 

Shalom, the main organization of Bulgarian Jews, operated in 1 7 towns and cities. 
Bulgarian community leaders took a more active role in international Jewish com- 
munity affairs than previously. The vice-president of the Shalom organization, 
Nansen Behar, was appointed to the European Council of Jewish Communities' 
1995 executive committee. 

A major event in 1994 was the arrival and installation of a rabbi — Behar Kaha- 
lone — in Sofia. The holidays were celebrated communally, including Purim parties 
and community seders. A Jewish kindergarten and elementary school in Sofia met 
in classrooms allocated in government schools. There were various other Jewish and 
Israeli-oriented organizations, including a Bulgaria-Israel friendship society, many 
of whose members were not Jewish. 

Restoration work was completed on the exterior of the magnificent Great Syna- 
gogue in Sofia, but the interior scaffolding stayed in place. Money remained a 
problem, and in September 1994 the Bulgarian Jewish community launched a 
$4-million international appeal for funds to complete major restoration. Several 
exhibitions and other cultural events commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 
salvation of Bulgarian Jews, and the Jewish community's "Simcha" orchestra, 
founded in 1993 and led by Giu Levy, gave performances in various cities. 

The Jewish publishing house Shalom, founded in 1993, continued operation. The 
first book to be translated was Theodore Herzl's The Jewish State. Other books 
published were Bulgarian translations of Amos Oz's My Michael and a collection 
of short stories by Ephraim Kishon. A Sephardic cookbook was planned, as well 
as a book on anti-Semitism in the Balkans. The publishing house was funded in part 
by CBF-World Jewish Relief. 

Czech Republic 

The Czech Republic consolidated its position as the post-Communist country 
with the strongest economy and most stable democratic system. Inflation in 1994 
at 1 1 percent was the lowest in the former Communist world, and unemployment 
was only 3.5 percent. The gross domestic product grew by 2.5 to 3 percent. 


There was rising concern at the activities of extreme right-wing groups directed 
mainly against Romas (Gypsies) and Jews. In February 1994, Vladislav Plechaty, 
the head of a special police squad aimed at countering the rise of right-wing extrem- 
ists, estimated that there were 400 skinheads active in Prague alone and at least ten 
different skinhead factions in operation in the Czech Republic. In July 1994 a 
commemoration at Terezin concentration camp was disrupted by right-wing ex- 
tremists who scuffled with and threw eggs at ceremony participants. The incident 
provoked a furor because police failed to take immediate action, but in January 
1995, five men were charged with disorderly conduct in the affair. 

In April 1995, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) criticized plans to erect aplaque 
memorializing Emil Hacha, the Czechoslovak president who signed protocols al- 
lowing Germany to occupy the country in 1938. Hacha was imprisoned after the 
war for his alliance with Hitler and died in jail on June 1, 1945. 

A number of events marked the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and 
the Holocaust. The most important Holocaust commemoration was a three-day 
series of ceremonies and concerts at Terezin, May 21-23, 1995. 

In February 1994, the town of Svitavy decided to honor native son OskarSchin- 
dler with a plaque, in the wake of the success of the moyie Schindler's List . Schindler 
was bom in Svitavy in 1907. In October 1994 a memorial to the victims of the first 
transport of 900 Czech Jews to Poland was unveiled at the site of the former Jewish 
cemetery in Ostrava. President Vaclav Havel, Czech chief rabbi Karol Sidon, and 
the ambassadors of Israel and Poland attended the ceremony, at which Havel 
warned of the dangers of racism and anti-Semitism. An exhibition and conference 
on the Holocaust were part of the commemoration. 

In the autumn of 1994, the Czech Parliament passed legislation awarding finan- 
cial compensation to current Czech citizens who had been prisoners in Nazi camps 
during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. The money would be derived 
from the sale of former Communist-owned property. 


About 5,000 to 7,000 Czechs identifying with the Jewish community lived in the 
Czech Republic, about 1,300 of them in Prague. In addition, the large foreign 
community that had settled in Prague since the Velvet Revolution in 1989-90 
included an estimated 1,000 Jews or more, mainly from the United States, Canada, 
and Great Britain. Some estimated that the number of foreign Jews exceeded the 
number of local Jews in Prague. 

Since some 60 percent of (local) Prague Jews were over the age of 65, community 
efforts necessarily focused on relief and social aid for needy elderly Jews. Social 
welfare in Prague provided 40 to 60 meals-on-wheels a day, and the community 
operated the Charles Jordan nursing home. 

For younger Jews wanting to learn about Jewish life and become full memben 
of the community, there was a range of educational programs. In the spring of 1994, 
two British rabbis organized a three-day seminar for would-be teachers of Judaism. 


In September 1994, the Ronald S. Lauder Kindergarten, the first Czech Jewish day 
school to operate since 1939, opened in Prague. It was funded by the Ronald S. 
Lauder Foundation, with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) 
helping to train staff. Initially serving 12 children in a facility on the premises of 
a state-run kindergarten, it taught Jewish culture, tradition, and Hebrew language 
and provided the children with kosher meals. 

Under the Czech chief (and only) rabbi, Karol Sidon, the religious orientation of 
the Czech Jewish community was Orthodox. This caused some friction, particularly 
among children of mixed marriages who identified as Jews but were not Jewish 
according to Halakhah (Jewish law), and among members of the foreign Jewish 
community, most of whom were Reform or Conservative. Prague-bom Sylvie Witt- 
mann, who ran a Jewish travel agency, led an alternative, Havurah-type group, 
called Bet Simcha, at her home. In addition, American Lisa Frankenberg, publisher 
of the English-language Prague Post, helped found a group called Bejt Praha, aimed 
both at the foreign Jewish community and the public at large. Bejt Praha sponsored 
a big public event in celebration of Purim, as well as other well-publicized events. 

At the initiative of Bet Simcha and Bejt Praha, the High Holidays 1994 saw the 
first non-Orthodox services held in Prague since World War II. The services, held 
in the High Synagogue and led by Reform rabbi Douglas Charing of Leeds, En- 
gland, were conducted in English and Hebrew with a Czech translation, accompa- 
nied by a tape-recording of choral singing. At the time of Bejt Praha's inception, 
there was some tension with the official Prague Jewish community, but by the spring 
of 1995 it was accepted as an associate member of the community. 

Numerous cultural events with a Jewish flavor took place, including concerts, 
exhibitions, lectures, and dramatic performances, many attended by non-Jews. Ef- 
forts were under way, sometimes carried out by volunteer groups, to restore several 
historic synagogues and to clean up various abandoned Jewish cemeteries around 
the Czech Republic. The New York-based Jewish Heritage Council of the World 
Monuments Fund, in a report to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of 
America's Heritage Abroad, published a detailed survey of Jewish monuments in 
the Czech Republic in January 1995. 

In July 1994, participants in a camp held by the Czechoslovak Union of Jewish 
Youth carried out some repairs on the 16th-century synagogue in Holesov, also used 
as a Jewish museum, and conducted the first prayer service there since the 1920s. 
In March 1995, Jews from Prague and abroad danced in the streets of Prague's old 
Jewish quarter as a Torah scroll that had just been repaired by two Israeli scribes 
was ceremonially returned to Prague's historic Old-New Synagogue. President 
Havel, Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid, and various ambassadors also took part in the 
ceremony, during which the two scribes completed their repair work by inscribing 
the last words of the Torah in the open scroll. The rolled-up Torah, adorned with 
a golden crown that had been donated to the Prague community in the 18th century, 
was escorted from the Jewish Town Hall to the Old-New Synagogue in a joyous 
procession including musicians and dancers. 

On April 29, 1994, the Czech Parliament passed a property restitution law that 


would enable individual Jews who are Czech citizens to claim return of their former 
private property seized by the Nazis. Other legislation provided for the return of 
202 properties, mostly synagogues and cemeteries, owned by the Jewish community 
before World War II. By the spring of 1995, only about half of the communal 
properties had been returned, and Jewish representatives and others sharply criti- 
cized the government for stalling on the matter. 

In the most notable example of property restitution, the Czech government 
officially returned the Prague Jewish Museum, one of the world's largest collections 
of Judaica, to the Prague Jewish community at a ceremony on October 13, 1994. 
The ceremony was attended by President Havel and other government officials, 
Israeli ambassador Moshe Yegar, and Czech Jewish leaders. Leo Pavlat was named 
new director of the museum, which includes the historic Old Jewish Cemetery, 
several old synagogues used as exhibition halls, and other buildings. Two of the 
synagogues, the Old-New Synagogue and the High Synagogue, were separated from 
the museum and placed under the administration of the Jewish community as 
houses of worship. 


In the second free elections since the peaceful ouster of the Communist regime 
in 1989, Hungarian voters in May 1994 dealt a decisive defeat to the conservative, 
nationalist-tinged right that had ruled the country for four years and elected a 
left-wing government. 

The Hungarian Socialist Party, the legal heirs to the old Hungarian Socialist 
Workers (Communist) Party, won an absolute majority in Parliament, but it entered 
into coalition with the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats, which had become the 
second largest party and which had several prominent Jews among its leaders. 
Gyula Horn, foreign minister in the old Communist government, became prime 
minister. The Hungarian Democratic Forum, which had headed the ruling coalition 
since it became the largest parliamentary party in the 1990 elections, was crushed, 
winning less than 10 percent of parliamentary seats. The voters also decisively 
rejected far-right nationalist parties. High-profile right-wing, anti-Semitic extrem- 
ists, such as writer Istvan Csurka, who had been expelled from the Democratic 
Forum because of his extremism, and Izabella Kiraly, a vocal mentor of skinhead 
groups, failed to be reelected to Parliament. Csurka, in an article in the far-right 
weekly Magyar Forum, said, "Israel directed the results of the Hungarian elections 
by remote control." 

The resounding defeat of the right was largely based on voter dissatisfaction with 
inflation, unemployment, and other economic hardship under the conservatives, but 
it also apparently demonstrated that Hungarians had turned their backs on the 
nationalist nostalgia for the past — including the interwar and wartime regime of 
Admiral Miklos Horthy — that characterized Democratic Forum thinking. Hungar- 
ian Jews expressed satisfaction with the electoral results. 

The new government made a radical break with the past, publicly apologizing to 


Jews for Hungary's role in the Holocaust and for Hungarian persecution of Jews 
before World War II. In July Prime Minister Horn issued such an apology in a 
message marking the 50th anniversary of the deportation of Hungary's Jews to 
Auschwitz. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, speaking in Horn's name, repeated the 
apology in a statement read to a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in New York 
in October. "It is a self-deception if anyone shifts responsibility for the genocide in 
Hungary solely and exclusively to Nazi Germany," he said. He added, "The shut- 
ting out of society and even persecution of Jews of Hungarian citizenship did not 
begin on May 19, 1944, when the Germans occupied the country. We should not 
forget about the murders committed by the White Terror Squads in 1919, [the 
quotas] in the 1920s and the shameful anti-Jewish laws. . . . Consequently it has to 
be stated unambigously that history obliges us to apologize." 

Although anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi skinhead activity were cause for concern 
—there were estimated to be about 5,000 skinheads in Hungary — most of the 
violence was directed against Romas (Gypsies), with rare attacks against Jewish 
targets. In January 1995, for example, two skinheads were arrested in the eastern 
city of Debrecen on charges of setting fire to Torah scrolls at the synagogue there. 
According to an attitude study, Anti-Semitism Among Hungarian College and Uni- 
versity Students, published in July 1994 by the American Jewish Committee, 25 
percent of students were anti-Semitic to a greater or lesser degree, 32 percent shared 
some common negative stereotypes about Jews, and 43 percent were free of all forms 
of anti-Semitism. 

There were numerous commemorations of the Holocaust in Hungary throughout 
1994 — the year that marked the 50th anniversary of the mass deportation of Hun- 
garian Jews — and the spring of 1995. In January 1994, and again in 1995, large 
crowds including Jews and high-ranking Hungarian officials gathered to observe the 
49th and 50th anniversaries of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto. There were also 
ceremonies in tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who rescued tens 
of thousands of Jews and who later disappeared in the Soviet Union. 

On March 18, 1994, the 50th anniversary of the Nazi occupation, Hungary paid 
tribute to victims of the Holocaust. A government statement vowed to fight any 
resurgence of extremism and said the "coolly premeditated, organized, massive and 
indiscriminate extermination of Hungarian Jews can never be forgotten. . . . The 
government believes the eternal remembrance of the Holocaust and stable democ- 
racy can jointly strengthen Hungary to resist any threat to human dignity and 

Numerous ceremonies throughout Hungary marked the 50th anniversary of the 
deportations of Jews from specific towns and cities, which began in the spring of 
1944. At the beginning of July 1994, Hungarian officials, Jewish leaders, and inter- 
national dignitaries attended a commemorative ceremony in Budapest. "We are here 
to recall dark days and dark deeds," President Arpad Goncz told the gathering. 
New prime minister Gyula Horn sent a message saying, "Hungarian Jewry is owed 
an historic apology." 

At the end of 1994, Christian churches in Hungary issued a joint statement, 


calling the Holocaust "the most shameful event of the 20th century" and asking 
forgiveness for Christians "who failed to act against the deportation, persecution 
and killing of 600,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust." In January I995 
President Arpad Goncz represented Hungary at a ceremony in Poland com- 
memorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where most of 
Hungary's prewar Jewish population was exterminated. 

In late 1994 Israel appointed a new ambassador to Hungary, Hungarian-bom 
Yoel Alon. (Alon, a victim of the infamous experiments on twins carried out by Josef 
Mengele at Auschwitz, left Hungary for Israel in 1949 with his family, who had 
survived the Holocaust.) Talks were under way on a free-trade agreement between 
Israel and Hungary, expected to be implemented in 1996. Malev Hungarian Airlines 
sponsored a Budapest Culture Week in Jerusalem in April 1995, the first such event 
in that city. Budapest and Tel Aviv are "sister cities," and previous Budapest 
Culture Weeks had taken place in Tel Aviv. 

At the end of 1994, ten Hungarian Christians were honored by Israel as Righteous 
Gentiles, for saving Jews during the Holocaust. In December the Jewish Agency for 
Israel honored Hungary for its role in aiding the transit of more than 200,000 Jews 
from the former Soviet Union to Israel between 1989 and 1992. 


Estimates of the number of Jews in Hungary ranged from 54,000 to 130,000. The 
reason for the wide estimate is that only a minority of Hungarian Jews were 
registered with the Jewish community or had formal contacts with other Jewish 
bodies. Some 90 percent of Hungarian Jews were in Budapest, the rest scattered in 
about 30 other towns and cities. 

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary was mainly concerned with 
communities outside Budapest, while the Association of Jewish Communities in 
Budapest encompassed most Hungarian Jews. Both organizations operated under 
a single joint executive director and were supported by the Joint Distribution 
Committee (JDC) in carrying out religious, social-welfare, and education activities. 
About 200 Hungarian Jews settled in Israel in 1994, a 25-percent increase over 1993. 
Almost half of them were young Hungarian Jews who had gone to study in Israel 
and decided to remain. 

The majority of Hungarian Jews were nonobservant. Most practicing Jews were 
Neolog (Conservative/Reform), as were the chief rabbi and Rabbinical Seminary. 
There was, however, a small Orthodox community with its own administrative 
organs. Sim Shalom, a small progressive Jewish group independent of the official 
Jewish institutions, began operation in early 1994. Its members met for study and 
worship and brought in Liberal rabbis from England to conduct holiday services and 
give lectures. 

A large percentage of Hungarian Jews were elderly, many of them needy. The 
JDC supported cash grants and food programs including meals-on-wheels. Some 


550 elderly Jews attended five day-care centers in Budapest and Szeged. Two of the 
centers opened in 1994. 

A new Jewish community center, the Balint Center, sponsored by the JDC and 
financed in part by a $300,000 grant from World Jewish Relief as well as grants from 
the World ORT Union and the Doron Foundation, opened October 16, 1994. 
Welfare Minister Pal Kovacs spoke at the inaugural ceremony, which was attended 
by the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Hungary. The new center, the biggest of its 
kind in East-Central Europe, is housed in a downtown building that was owned by 
the Jewish community before World War II and was recently returned to the Jewish 
community by the Hungarian government. The center offers a wide range of activi- 
ties— educational programs, art shows, a club for Holocaust survivors (of which 
there were about 30,000 in Hungary), a social club, library, and computerized 
education system with access to the Internet. In December 1994, the center was the 
scene of a Hanukkah celebration and carnival that drew more than 500 people. 

Jewish educational programs flourished. In September 1994, Ronald S. Lauder, 
head of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, took part in a ground-breaking ceremony 
in Budapest for a new campus for the Lauder- Yavneh school, due to open in 1996- 
97. Founded in 1990, the Lauder-Yavneh school had more than 550 students from 
5 to 18 years of age, who attended classes in three separate locations. The Lauder 
Foundation provided more than $4 million toward the construction costs of a new 
school building that would permit the school's kindergarten, elementary school, and 
high school to operate on the same premises. The five-acre site was provided rent- 
free on a 99-year lease by the Budapest municipality. The Anna Frank Jewish 
Community High School had an enrollment of 250 in 1994-95, up from 190 the 
previous year. In 1994, its fifth aniversary year, the Lauder- JDC International 
Camp at Szarvas drew more than 1,800 Jewish children and family members from 
former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and 
several different republics of the former Soviet Union. Although new construction 
increased camp capacity by 1 5 percent, children still had to be turned away for lack 
of space. 

The European Council of Jewish Communities held its annual General Assembly 
in Budapest, November 19-20, 1994, which included a seminar on "Hopes and 
Fears: Jewish Identity in the New Europe" and a professional workshop on "The 
Jewish Family Before the Year 2000." Representives of Jewish communities in more 
than a score of European countries took part in the gathering. 

There were numerous Jewish and Jewish-interest cultural events. An enlarged 
Budapest Jewish Museum, part of a complex of buildings attached to the Dohany 
Street Synagogue, was inaugurated at the end of February 1995 with an art exhibi- 
tion on "Victims and Killers," including drawings both of Hungarian Jewish victims 
in the Budapest ghetto and the war-crimes trials of Hungarian Nazis after World 
War II. President Arpad Goncz attended the inaugural ceremony. Also on exhibit 
were more than 1 80 gold and silver ritual objects and other treasures worth more 
than $250 million that had been stolen from the Jewish Museum in December 1993. 


Most of the objects were recovered in Romania in August 1994 after a joint investi- 
gation by Hungarian, Israeli, and Romanian police. The three suspects in the theft 
included two Romanian citizens and one Romanian-born Israeli. The last 30 missing 
items were found in Romania in February 1995. 

The Maccabi Publishing House, Hungary's first publishing house specializing in 
Jewish books, issued the first line-by-line bilingual edition of the Hebrew Bible 
printed in Hebrew and Hungarian on facing pages. Among many Jewish-oriented 
concerts and performances, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Buda- 
pest as part of a tour of Europe. A concert of klezmer and Hungarian folk music 
was presented in Budapest at the beginning of December. The Yavneh-Lauder 
Youth Theater drew audiences of 200 to 300 people for performances in Budapest 
and the provinces, including at a Jewish Culture Week in the western Hungarian 
town of Tata. All their plays had Jewish themes, and the group had begun work 
on a play about wartime heroine Hannah Szenes, using original archival material. 


Poland's economic indicators, fueled by a flourishing private sector, were up in 
1994, with a 4.7-percent growth in Gross Domestic Product. The private sector 
accounted for 56 percent of the GDP. The unemployment rate began dropping but 
was still about 16 percent at the end of the year. The inflation rate was 29 percent 
in December, down from 37 percent a year earlier. 

Auschwitz survivor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 73, was named foreign minister in 
a cabinet reorganization in March 1995 that brought in a new left-wing government 
coalition led by Prime Minister Josef Oleksy. Bartoszewski, a Roman Catholic 
writer and historian, was an honorary citizen of Israel and one of the first people 
honored as a Righteous Gentile for helping organize the Zegota organization, a 
resistance group that braved harsh reprisals in order to help save Jews in Poland 
during the Holocaust. He was described by Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal as the 
"most sincere friend Polish Jews ever had in this century." 

Throughout 1994 and early 1995 there were numerous events commemorating 
the last years of World War II, and monuments to Holocaust victims were set up 
in a number of different towns and cities around the country. 

In April 1994, more than 6,000 Jewish teenagers from over 35 countries traveled 
to Holocaust sites in Poland as part of the fourth biennial "March of the Living," 
sponsored by the World Zionist Organization. On Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memo- 
rial Day, the young people marched in silence from Auschwitz to Birkenau. After 
their stay in Poland, they flew on to Israel. A smaller "mini" march took place in 
April 1995. Despite its worthy intention, to teach young Jews about the Holocaust 
and instill a stronger sense of Jewish identity, the march raised some criticism 
among Polish Jews and non-Jews. Critics contended that it fostered a negative basis 
for Jewish identity and that it perpetuated negative stereotypes of Poles, ignoring 
recent developments in Polish- Jewish relations. In April 1994 and 1995, ceremonies 


were held in Warsaw to mark the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 
April 1943. 

A central commemorative event for all Poles was the 50th anniversary of the 
anti-Nazi Warsaw uprising of August-September 1944. That battle — which took 
place more than a year after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising — was the high point of 
Polish resistance to the Nazis and a major factor in Polish hatred of the Soviets. In 
more than 63 days of fighting against the Nazi occupiers, 200,000 Poles died — most 
of them civilians — and Warsaw was devastated. Throughout the fighting, the Soviet 
Red Army stood on the other side of the Vistula River from downtown Warsaw, 
refiising to lend assistance. About 1,000 Jews (out of the 7,000 to 30,000 Jews 
estimated still living then in Warsaw) fought in the uprising. 

Fighters in the uprising are regarded in Poland as untarnished heroes, but there 
was also a "dark side" to the historic episode. This was brought to light in January 
1994 when the leading newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published an article describing 
anti-Semitic acts carried out by some resistance fighters. These included the murder 
of 25 to 100 Jews by Polish criminals, members of a rabidly anti-Semitic organiza- 
tion whose units took part in the fighting against the Nazis. The article also detailed 
instances when Jews were helped by resistance fighters, including the liberation of 
348 Jewish prisoners from a fortified prison. The article opened the door to a 
wide-ranging debate over Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. 

In August 1994, several hundred Jews from around the world gathered in Lodz 
to mark the 50th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto. There was also 
a ceremony at Chelmno, the site of the death camp where many of the 200,000 Lodz 
Jews who died in the Holocaust were killed. 

The 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was com- 
memorated on January 26-27, 1995, but the event was marked by conflict between 
Jews and Poles over how Auschwitz should be remembered and its symbolic mean- 
ing for each of them. Some Jewish groups charged the Polish organizers with 
attempting to "Polonize" or "Christianize" Auschwitz by minimizing or ignoring 
the magnitude of the Jewish losses (some 90 percent of the estimated 1.1 to 1.5 
million people killed in the camp complex were Jews). Bitterness over this led to 
Jews staging a separate memorial ceremony at Birkenau on January 26, the day 
before the official commemorations at Auschwitz and Birkenau. The latter were 
attended by heads of state and representatives of more than two dozen countries and 
were televised internationally. Pressure by Jews, including Nobel Peace Prize win- 
ner Elie Wiesel, convinced the Polish organizers to change the program and begin 
the main official ceremony with the Kaddish and other Jewish prayers. And only 
pressure by Wiesel and others induced Polish president Lech Walesa to include 
reference to the Jewish dimension of Auschwitz in his speech at the main event. In 
two earlier speeches during the commemorations, Walesa failed to make specific 
reference to the Jews. 

A public-opinion survey released on the eve of the anniversary commemorations 
underscored the different perceptions of Poles and Jews that clouded the ceremo- 


nies. The survey, conducted for the American Jewish Committee, showed that Poles 
are highly knowledgeable about some aspects of the Holocaust, and that the vast 
majority of Poles — more than 85 percent — strongly favor keeping the memory of 
the Holocaust alive. At the same time, Poles feel their own suffering in World War 
II was equal to that of the Jews, and also take a generally positive view of Polish 
behavior toward Jews during the Holocaust. 

Anti-Semitism in Poland remained a concern, although there were no violent 
manifestations of anti-Semitism reported in 1994 and early 1995. Several ultrana- 
tionalist parties operated in Poland, as well as skinhead gangs, but they were 
considered a fringe phenomenon and isolated politically. Boleslaw Tejkowski, the 
leader of one of these tiny groups, the Polish Nationalist Party, was sentenced in 
October 1994 to a one-year suspended sentence for inciting ethnic strife and slander- 
ing Polish authorities, bishops, and Jews. In Wroclaw in March 1994 there were 
scuffles between skinheads and antiracists, and in April 1995 about 80 ultranational- 
ists, most of them skinheads, demonstrated in central Warsaw, chanting anti- Jewish 
and antiliberal slogans. Police did not intervene, asserting that there was no violence 
and that the demonstration was legal. Some episodes of vandalism were reported, 
including the scrawling of anti-Semitic graffiti at Warsaw's Jewish cemetery in 
January 1994 and on the Warsaw Ghetto memorial in February 1995. At the end 
of 1994 a seemingly anti-Semitic advertisement, showing a caricature of a money- 
grubbing Jew, appeared in the in-flight magazine of Poland's Lot airlines. Lot's 
North American manager apologized for it. Several extremist publications with 
anti-Semitic content were published in Poland. 

There were a number of educational, cultural, and other initiatives aimed at 
combatting anti-Semitism and promoting information about Jews, Jewish history, 
and Judaism. Hebrew and Jewish studies classes were introduced in some Krakow 
and Warsaw high schools. Fifty Polish guides at the Auschwitz Museum went to 
Israel for a three-week course at Yad Vashem in order to study Judaism, Jewish 
history, the Holocaust, and facts about Israel, to provide them with a better back- 
ground for their job. 

In July 1994, the International Council of Christians and Jews held a conference 
in Warsaw, attended by participants from 23 countries. At the conclusion of the 
conference, the Polish Council of Christians and Jews presented its Man of Recon- 
ciliation Award to Father John T. Pawlikowski, professor of Social Ethics at the 
Catholic Theological Union at the University of Chicago. Pawlikowski had been 
long involved in promoting Catholic-Jewish dialogue and had visited Poland on 
eight lecture tours, during which he spoke to students and professors in Warsaw, 
Lublin, and Krakow. In October President Lech Walesa awarded Nazi-hunter 
Simon Wiesenthal the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and 
Wiesenthal also received an honorary doctorate from Krakow's Jagiellonian Uni- 

In June 1994, Krakow was the scene of its fourth Festival of Jewish Culture, a 
weeklong extravaganza of concerts, exhibits, films, and theatrical performances 


rooted in Jewish heritage. Most of the performers were Jews from Israel, the United 
States, and Western Europe, but the overwhelming majority of the audience was 
made up of non- Jewish Poles. Interest was so high that a second Jewish Culture 
Festival, organized by the Austrian Consulate in Krakow, ran in that city during 
the same time period. At the end of September, Jewish groups from Ukraine as well 
as Poland took part in the second Festival of Poland's National Minorities held in 
Gdansk, which included a conference on minority cultures in Central and Eastern 


It was difficult to quantify the number of Jews in Poland. Estimates ranged from 
the 7,000- 8,CXX) officially registered with the community or receiving aid from the 
JDC, to 10,000-15,000 people of Jewish ancestry who showed interest in rediscov- 
ering their heritage, to as many as 30,000 to 40,000 people of Jewish ancestry. Events 
over the year demonstrated growing interest among younger Jews seeking to recover 
or claim a Jewish identity. Education and youth programs run by the Ronald S. 
Lauder Foundation and the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) increased in scope, 
attracting hundreds of participants. 

The JDC made a policy decision to devote more of its budget to education and 
less to its traditional welfare services. By 1994-95, two-thirds of the JDC Poland 
budget was devoted to welfare, down from 90 percent just two years earlier. The 
JDC maintained support of the Jewish religious organization, the Union of Polish 
Jewish Religious Communities, and had eight social workers covering the country, 
providing social services and financial aid for more than 2,000 needy elderly Jews. 
But about 300 people were dropped from the JDC social-welfare case load and 
integrated into the state system. 

One-third of the JDC budget went to educational programs, most of them techni- 
cally run by local Polish Jewish organizations, primarily the Union of Polish Jewish 
Religious Communities and the Jewish Socio-Cultural Association (TSKZ). Major 
education initiatives included the arrival in Warsaw in May 1 994 of Yossi Erez as 
resident JDC Consultant on Community Organization, Jewish Education and Cul- 
ture. Erez concentrated much of his work on training staff and teachers to work in 
communities, such as 17 Polish youth instructors ages 19-30. The Jewish Educa- 
tional Resource Center opened in Warsaw by the JDC provided materials for 
teaching and learning. 

The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation expanded its educational and youth activities, 
which included youth clubs and educational centers in Warsaw, Lodz, Wroclaw, 
and Krakow, plus programming in Katowice, Walbrzych, and Gdansk. The clubs 
in Lodz and Wroclaw were opened in 1994; the club in Krakow opened in January 
1995. The opening ceremony for the club in Krakow was held during commemora- 
tions of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and was attended by 
RonaM S. Lauder, Elie Wiesel, and Speaker of the Knesset Shevach Weiss, among 


Others. The youth club and educational center in Warsaw housed and supported a 
youth club, Jewish library, the Polish Union of Jewish Students, a student monthly, 
Jidele, and the Makabi sports club. In addition to daily educational activities, there 
were social events and Shabbat and holiday dinners. Summer and winter retreats 
attended by more than 500 people were held at the Lauder camp in Rychwald, 
where Jewish families learned the fundamentals of Jewish religion and tradition. 

In September 1994 the Lauder-Morasha School opened in Warsaw, the first 
primary school under Jewish auspices in Poland in more than 25 years. The school 
opened with 18 first-graders, and there were plans to expand to grades 2-3 in 1995. 

Besides educational and youth activities, there were other indications of Jewish 
revival. The Jewish community of Gdansk reestabished itself just before Passover 
1994 and drew 80 Jews to its first event, a seder. The community obtained permis- 
sion to hold some of its events in the former synagogue. In April 1994, a Jewish 
wedding took place in the courtyard of the historic Remuh Synagogue in Krakow. 
It was beheved to be the first Jewish religious wedding in Krakow in at least 40 years. 
The bride was English and the groom Austrian. A Jewish wedding between an 
Israeli man and a Polish woman took place in Warsaw's Noszyk Synagogue. Over 
the year more than a dozen Jewish men and boys were circumcised. 

Efforts to restore Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were undertaken by private 
individuals and foundations, as well as the state-sponsored Remembrance Founda- 
tion, founded in 1993. Several Holocaust memorials also were dedicated in Jewish 
cemeteries, some of them constructed out of fragments of tombstones. The Founda- 
tion took the initiative in a program of affixing granite memorial plaques on extant 
synagogue buildings no longer used as synagogues. By March 1995, plaques had 
been affixed to 1 1 synagogues in various parts of Poland. In January 1994, the New 
York-based Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund published the 
first comprehensive survey of existing Jewish relics in Poland, a work encompassing 
more than 1,000 sites, mainly synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. 

Toward the end of 1 994, ambitious plans were announced by the Jewish Histori- 
cal Institute to erect a Museum of the History of the Jews in Poland, in Warsaw, 
with a planned opening in 1997. Former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, German 
president Roman Herzog, and the Hon. Ronald S. Lauder were named chairmen 
of the international honorary committee for the project. 

An important historical discovery was made in Warsaw in early 1994, when a 
cache of documents and everyday objects detailing life in the Warsaw Ghetto came 
to light during renovation work on the building housing the Lauder Foundation and 
other Jewish organizations. The finds included personal papers and memorabilia of 
the four-member Melchior family, all believed killed during the Holocaust. Publicity 
over the finds led an Israeli woman who had escaped from Poland in 1939 to contact 
the Lauder Foundation. She proved to be the sister of the father of the Melchior 
family, and the discovery of the documents was the first news she had had of her 
family in over 50 years. 



Romania's economic situation stabilized somewhat in 1994. For the first time in 
five years real wages increased, although they remained well below what they were 
five years before, and gross domestic product grew by 3 percent. The exchange rate 
of the leu against the dollar was also stable, and annual inflation fell to 62 percent, 
compared to 300 percent for 1993. 

The political front was marred by the formal entry of an extreme nationalist party, 
the Party of Romanian National Unity (PRNU), into the government, and also by 
continuing efforts to rehabilitate both Romania's wartime fascist dictator. Ion An- 
tonescu, who was executed as a war criminal in 1946, and the Nazi-like Iron Guard 
movement. The Party of Romanian National Unity formally joined the cabinet on 
August 18, 1994. Before that, the government of the ruling Party of Social Democ- 
racy in Romania was kept in power by the informal support of the PRNU and two 
other extreme nationalist parties. 

In January 1994, President Ion Iliescu sent letters to the Anti-Defamation League 
and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) giving his personal assurance that he would 
"use all my constitutional powers to prevent and, if the case, to put an end of any 
action [designed to] revive anti-Semitism in Romania. . . . The Romanian people and 
the government of Romania have nothing in common with extremist attitudes." The 
letters were written in reaction to concern in the United States over the efforts to 
rehabilitate Antonescu, including recent dedications of statues and streets in his 
honor. In November 1994, a new bust of Antonescu was unveiled in the northern 
town of Piatra Neamt at a ceremony attended by local officials and war veterans. 
Rabbi Andrew Baker, head of European Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, 
registered a complaint about the new bust with Romanian ambassador to Washing- 
ton Mihai Horia Bodez. 

In the spring of 1994, a Council of Europe Mission to Bucharest expressed 
disappointment with Romania's record on human rights. Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen, 
in a statement to the Council of Europe, said, "There are growing insults and threats 
apinst us. . . . We need a law which clearly punishes such xenophobia and anti- 
Semitism." In the fall. President Iliescu met in London with British Jewish leaders 
who told him of their concern about the rehabilitation of Antonescu and reports of 
rising anti-Semitism in Romania. Iliescu, whose accompanying delegation included 
Nicolae Cajal, the president of the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities, 
reiterated his criticism of the efforts to rehabilitate Antonescu. 

In the spring of 1994, senior Romanian government representatives and church 
leaders joined with Jewish leaders and members of the Jewish community at a 
ceremony in the city of Oradea to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the depor- 
tation of Jews from Transylvania. Victor Opalski, personal representative of Presi- 
dent Iliescu, read a message from Iliescu that referred to the 1,300 towns and villages 
devastated in the region. "Out of the 166,601 Jews [deported] only 25,000 returned," 
Opalski said. This marked the first time that a Romanian official publicly cited 


figures of how many Jews were killed and from how many towns. 

In September 1994, Alfred H. Moses, a 65-year-old lawyer, president of the 
American Jewish Committee, and a longtime advocate of Romanian Jewry, was 
appointed U.S. ambassador to Romania. Since the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu, 
Moses had spoken out several times against rising anti-Semitism and the attempted 
rehabilitation of Antonescu. His appointment was covered widely in the Romanian 
media, and many newspapers profiled him as a well-known representative of Ameri- 
can Jewry. But his appointment also infuriated the Romanian extreme right. Seven 
right-wing extremist Romanian parliamentarians — ignoring the fact that many 
right-wing and other Romanian political leaders had been close supporters or aides 
of Ceausescu — sent a letter to U.S. senator Jesse Helms protesting the Moses 
appointment on "moral grounds," charging that Moses "was, for a long time; 
associated with the Ceausescus; this disqualifies him in the race for the position of 
ambassador in Romania." 

In February 1995, Romanian police recovered the last 30 items of the Judaica 
objects stolen from the Budapest Jewish Museum. Most of the stolen treasure had 
been found and returned to the Budapest Jewish community in the summer of 1994 
(see "Hungary"). 


Fewer than 15,000 Jews in Romania were officially affiliated with the Jewish 
community. More than half of them were over 60 years of age, and fewer than 8 
percent of them were under 20. About 500 elderly Romanian Jews died in 1994, and 
roughly the same number, mainly young people, emigrated to Israel. At the same 
time, about 400 to 1 ,000 Israelis of Romanian origin were reported to have returned 
to Romania, many of them maintaining dual homes and dual citizenship. 

The JDC continued to be a main support of the Romanian Jewish community, 
directly assisting 2,500 families. The JDC's assistance program provided 1,200 daily 
meals-on-wheels and about 2,800 food parcels distributed several times a year. It 
also provided funds to support four nursing homes and other medical and social- 
assistance programs. 

The Jewish community suffered a severe blow when Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen 
died on May 6, 1994, at the age of 81, nearly four weeks after suffering a series of 
strokes. Rosen had served as chief rabbi since 1948 and as president of the Federa- 
tion of Romanian Jewish Communities (FEDROM), Romanian Jewry's secular 
organization, since 1964. Throughout the Communist period he conducted a diffi- 
cult and potentially dangerous political balancing act, trading off public support of 
the Communist regime — some called it servility — for religious and communal 
rights for Romanian Jews. These included the right to emigrate, at a price secretly 
agreed upon by Romania and Israel, reportedly $1,000 to $5,000 per person. He thus 
oversaw the exodus of almost all the nearly 400,000 Romanian Jews who survived 
the Holocaust. In addition, he won concessions that allowed scores of synagogues 


and Jewish communal services to function and Jewish aid organizations, primarily 
the JDC, to operate. 

After the revolution that overthrew and executed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu at 
the end of 1989, Rosen became the lightning rod for increasingly open and virulent 
anti-Semitic attacks by extremist political parties and politicians. He also led the 
drive to have Romania and Romanians recognize Romania's complicity in the 
Holocaust and initiated protests against the growing efforts to rehabilitate An- 

President Iliescu, Jewish religious leaders, senior diplomats, including the Israeli 
ambassador to Romania, and hundreds of Jews attended a memorial service for 
Rosen at Bucharest's main synagogue, before his body was flown to Israel for burial 
in Jerusalem. "As head of state, I express appreciation for Rabbi Rosen, the man 
who led the Romanian Jewish community for so many years, a loyal Jew and a loyal 
Romanian citizen," Iliescu said. Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York called Rosen 
"a great patriot, a man who built bridges between Romania and Israel in the most 
difficult times." Rosen's widow, Amalia, who had worked closely with her husband 
over the decades, died seven months later, in December 1994. 

In mid-June, five weeks after Rabbi Rosen's death, 75-year-old microbiologist 
Nicolae Cajal was elected head of the Romanian Federation of Jewish Communities. 
Cajal, president of the medical science branch of the Romanian Academy, a vice- 
president of the Academy of Medical Science, and president of Romania's Consulta- 
tive College for Applied Research and Development, was elected to serve as an 
independent senator in the country's first postrevolutionary Parliament in 1989. He 
had served for many years as one of Rosen's chief advisers, and his election to head 
the FEDROM was welcomed by the Jewish community. It also was reported on 
Romanian television and radio. 

After assuming his new position, Cajal became a familiar public figure through 
television appearances. Departing from Rosen's overt denunciations, he took a less 
confrontational stance on issues such as anti-Semitism, presenting it as a more 
isolated, fringe phenomenon in Romanian society and stressing the importance of 
combatting it through education. He also moved to decentralize the operation of the 
FEDROM and to democratize Jewish community leadership. A key element in this 
was his own election as Jewish lay leader, separate from the office of chief rabbi. 
(Rosen had held both offices.) Cajal also announced in July 1994 that the Jewish 
community planned to run a candidate for the Chamber of Deputies in elections in 

On May 28, 1995 — Rosen's Yahrzeit, as it happened — Romanian-born Israeli 
rabbi Yeheskel Mark, 67, was elected the new chief rabbi. 


The political situation in 1994 was tumultuous. Three different governments held 
power; Prime Minister Vladimer Meciar's government lost a vote of confidence in 


March and was replaced by a new government led by Jozef Moravcik. After incon- 
clusive parliamentary elections September 30 and October 1, Meciar eventually 
became prime minister again in December. His government coalition included the 
far-right Slovak National Party, which raised concern. Thousands of people took 
part in two big demonstrations in Bratislava protesting the political situation. 

Efforts continued to rehabilitate Father Jozef Tiso, the leader of the wartime 
Independent Slovak State that was set up by the Nazis, and Andrej Hlinka, a prewar 
separatist leader. About 2,000 people rallied on March 14, 1994, in Bratislava, in 
the largest of demonstrations in several cities marking the 54th aniversary of the 
founding of the Independent Slovak State. In October there were several demonstra- 
tions marking Tiso's birthday. In September 1994, the decision by the Bratislava 
City Council to rename the city's central square after Andrej Hlinka was denounced 
by Jewish leaders and several politicians from both left and right. 

Occasional episodes of anti-Semitism were reported, including anti-Semitic arti- 
cles in the media. In April 1994, vandals overturned about 60 tombstones in the 
Jewish cemetery in Vrbove, northeast of Bratislava. Local authorities apologized, 
and the youths convicted of the vandalism were sentenced to community service. 

Senior government officials as well as Jewish organizations condemned anti- 
Semitism. In September 1994, President Michal Kovac warned against the "forces 
of extreme nationalism and anti-Semitism pushing themselves forward." In Decem- 
ber Prime Minister Meciar said his government denounced "all manifestations of 
intolerance, above all chauvinism, aggressive nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism 
and xenophobia." The American Jewish Committee helped organize, in association 
with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a conference on tolerance in Eastern and 
Central Europe, held in Bratislava in July. In August 1994, an Israeli delegation 
took part in ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Slovak National 
Uprising; for the first time, Jewish participation in the uprising was officially recog- 
nized and also written about in detail in many publications. In February 1995, 
Slovakia's Jewish leaders protested when Parliament named Maros Puchovsky, 
editor of the anti-Semitic weekly Zmena, to the council that operates the state radio 

In August 1994, Slovakia and Israel signed an agreement to open links between 
airports and transport authorities in the two countries. It was signed by Israeli 
transport minister Yisrael Kessar and Slovak foreign minister Eduard Kukan. On 
November 24, 1994, Moshe Yegar, Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic, 
bestowed a posthumous Righteous Gentile award on a Slovak couple. At a cere- 
mony at the Israeli embassy in Prague, the award was presented to the daughter of 
the late Vojtech and Anna Mjartus, who hid three Jews in their home in a small 
Slovak village during World War II. Yegar noted that in the same village, 18 other 
Jews were hunted down and executed by the Nazis. 


There were an estimated 3,000 Jews in Slovakia, mainly in Bratislava and Kosice. 
American-bom rabbi Baruch Myers, a Chabad Lubavitch Hassid who arrived in 
Bratislava in 1993, became a focal point for renewed Jewish religious life in Bratis- 
lava. Among other activities, he organized Sabbath dinners and ran a kindergarten 
and Sunday school. In July 1994 he initiated a two- week summer day camp for 
about two dozen children, financed by Chabad and JDC. He distributed colorful 
Chabad pamphlets giving simple explanations of Jewish holidays, their history and 
observance, as well as recipes for traditional holiday foods, all translated into 
Slovak. This project was financed by private sources in Chabad and by the JDC. 
Plans were under way to open a full-time Jewish day school, and a new mikveh was 
opened in Bratislava in June 1995. 

Myers was not sent by Chabad to Bratislava, but was hired by the Bratislava 
Jewish community. He came under criticism from some members of the mostly 
secular Jewish community, however, who found his Orthodoxy too strict and too 
oriented toward Chabad. A nonreligious focus of Jewish life was the Jewish Forum, 
which programmed regular lectures and other programs that were well attended. 

In the spring of 1994 the Union of Slovak Jewish Communities fired Lazar 
Kleinman from his position as rabbi in Kosice. He was accused of professional and 
personal activities and behavior that harmed the community, including involvement 
in politics. Kleinman charged that his dismissal was not carried out according to 
Slovak law and brought suit against the Slovak Jewish Union. As of one year later, 
he was still fighting his dismissal and still remained in Kosice. 

In July 1994 the Czechoslovak Union of Jewish Youth had a camp at Liptovsky 
Mikulas, hosted by the Christian Youth of Slovakia. In a shared program called 
"bridges," the 50 or so Jews and 35 Christians helped restore both a synagogue and 
a small church. They concluded with a special concert in which Jewish musicians 
played in the synagogue while Christian musicians performed in the church. The 
two locations were linked by a broadcast network so that the audience in both 
places, totaling about 1,000 people, could hear both concerts. 



As war continued to ravage Bosnia-Herzegovina for the third year, the Sarajevo 
Jewish community's social aid organization. La Benevolencija, gained in stature — 
and international recognition — as one of the most respected conduits of humanitar- 
ian aid to Sarajevo residents, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Working in 
conjunction with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and 
Britain's World Jewish Relief, La Benevolencija distributed more than 350 tons of 


food and ran a soup kitchen that handed out 360 meals a day. Its medical team 
clinic, and three pharmacies (a fourth opened at Passover 1995) fulfilled a crucial 
service for the entire city. It also ran a post office and cultural programs. In 1994 
"Friends of La Benevolencija" societies formed in Austria, Belgium, France, Ger- 
many, and the Netherlands to raise funds and collect goods for La Benevolencija 
distribution. At the beginning of 1995, the JDC convened the first donors' confer- 
ence of European aid societies supporting La Benevolencija in order to coordinate 
their donations and activities. 

In February 1994, a six-bus convoy organized by the JDC and La Benevolencija, 
in cooperation with other organizations, brought nearly 300 Jews, Croats, Serbs, and 
Muslims out of Sarajevo to the JDC-run refugee center at Makarska on Croatia's 
Adriatic coast. About 100 of the evacuees were Jewish. Among the evacuees was 
an elderly Muslim woman, Zajniba Hartaga-Susic, who was designated a "Righ- 
teous Gentile" and invited to live in Israel. 

In recognition of the service carried out by La Benevolencija and the Sarajevo 
Jewish community thoughout the war, Sarajevo Jewish community leader Ivica 
Ceresnjes was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in October 1994. 


In the spring of 1995 there were an estimated 900 Jews in Bosnia — an astonishing 
number considering that 1,800 Jews had left the country since the outbreak of war, 
and that before the war broke out there were believed to have been only 1,200 Jews 
in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The "surplus" consisted of people who before the war had 
not affiliated with the community or identified themselves as Jews suddenly coming 
forward and joining the community. Most Bosnian Jews were in Sarajevo, but there 
were small, isolated communities in six other locations, both in Bosnian govern- 
ment-controlled and Serbian-controlled areas. One of these communities, Banja 
Luka, in Serbian-controlled territory, saw its Jewish community grow from seven 
before the war to 70 by the spring of 1995. Auschwitz survivor Edita Kasikovic,a 
Banja Luka Jewish community leader who was a source of strength for other 
community members, died in April 1995. 

In Sarajevo, there were about 75 Jews under the age of 25, and a Jewish Sunday 
school opened with a student body of 20 Jewish children and 20 non-Jewish chil- 

At Passover in April 1995, the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah was taken from its 
secret storage place and displayed at the community seder in Sarajevo. Bosnian 
president Alija Izetbegovic brought it to the seder at the request of the Sarajevo 
Jewish community, to dispel rumors that it had been sold to purchase weapons. 
Bosnia's National Museum director, Munever Imamovic, in a letter to the newspa- 
per Oslobodjenje , said he had resigned in protest over the display, which he viewed 
as too great a risk for the priceless book. The Haggadah was handwritten and 
illustrated in northern Spain in the late 14th century and brought to Sarajevo in the 


15th century by Sephardic Jews fleeing the expulsion from Spain and Portugal. 

At the seder, which was held at noon Saturday for security reasons, Izetbegovic 
joined Jews as well as the heads of the city's Muslim, Orthodox, and Roman 
Catholic faiths, including Cardinal Vinko Puljic. Izetbegovic urged Jews to stay in 
Sarajevo. "I appeal to you to stay in the country because it is your country too," 
he said. "Our aim is that this be a country of tolerant nations and religions." 

Many tombs and monuments in the Sarajevo Jewish cemetery, on the front lines 
of the fighting, were reported to have been ravaged and destroyed by shell fire, and 
the terrain of the cemetery was riddled with trenches. 


President Franjo Tudjman and the Croatian government came under criticism by 
Jews, Serbs, and Western human-rights groups for several actions that critics said 
minimized the crimes of the fascist Ustashe regime that ruled the Independent 
Croatian State during World War II. Among these was the substitution of the kuna 
for the dinar as the unit of Croatian currency. The kuna was the currency used by 
the wartime Croatian state. Croatian authorities fended off criticism, saying that the 
kuna's origin as a unit of value dated back to medieval times. Kuna means "marten" 
— an animal whose valuable furs were used as units of exchange. 

Tudjman attended the Zagreb premiere of Schindler's List on March 25, 1994, 
and also publicly apologized to Jews for their treatment during World War II. In 
February 1994 he also apologized for sections of his book. Wastelands of Historical 
Reality, that were widely viewed as anti-Semitic. In a letter to international B'nai 
B'rith president Kent Schiner, he said that negative reaction to his book since its 
1989 publication "has affected me deeply and has caused me to re-examine my 
statements and to re-evaluate those parts of the book in which I cited documents 
and personal views of some writer or participant." He wrote: "It is in terms of my 
evolving relationship with and increased understanding of the Jewish people that 
Inow realize the hurtfulness of certain of the portions of this book and the misunder- 
standing they have caused. For this I offer an apology, both as the president of a 
newly independent state which wishes to forge a firm and enduring friendship with 
the Jewish people, and as a human being who desires to make amends in furtherance 
of such a friendship." He pledged that he would "work toward an ever better 
understanding between the Jewish communities and the Republic of Croatia." He 
made similar remarks in April at a ceremony honoring Branko Lustig, a Croatian- 
bom Jew who was a producer of Schindler's List. Lustig was awarded the Croatian 
Order of Duke Trpimir. 

The prime minister, speaker of Parliament, and archbishop of Zagreb attended 
Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies on April 8, 1994, organized by the Zagreb 
Jewish community in the Jewish cemetery. At the end of April 1995, Croatians 
marked the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jasenovac death camp, where 
Croatia's wartime regime killed thousands of Jews, Serbs, Gypsies, and Croatian 


antifascists. About 300 Jews gathered for a commemorative ceremony at the Zagreb 
Jewish community center. 

In June 1994, a Croatia-Israel Society was established in Zagreb. In March 1995, 
Israel honored nine Croats as Righteous Gentiles for their role in saving Jews during 
World War II. The ceremony at the Zagreb Jewish community center was the first 
of its kind to take place since Croatia declared its independence in 1991. More than 
50 people in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina had been honored as Righteous 


Fewer than 2,000 Jews lived in Croatia, about 1,500 of them in the capital, 
Zagreb. Others were mainly in and near Split, on the Adriatic coast. Supported by 
the Joint Distribution Committee and other organizations like British-based World 
Jewish Relief, about a dozen elderly Jewish refugees lived in an old-age home in 
Split, and about two dozen were being cared for in a hotel in nearby Makarska. 

There was no rabbi in Croatia, but the JDC sent a full-time Jewish educator to 
Zagreb in January 1995. A Jewish education and computer laboratory was also 
opened in Zagreb. There was a wide range of organizations and activities, including 
the Menorah Club — an association of refugees from Sarajevo housed in Makarska, 
Split, and Zagreb — who made money by knitting kippot (skull caps) and selling 
them internationally. In 1995 the club also began producing Jewish New Year's 

Serbia and Montenegro {Yugoslavia) 

The Jews of the Yugoslav Republic (Serbia and Montenegro) tried to maintain 
a normal life against the backdrop of the Bosnian war, but due to sanctions and 
global opposition to Yugoslavia's role in the four-year-old conflict, they felt cut off 
from the Jewish world at large. The Jewish community tried to maintain a clear 
distance from political involvement, but some community leaders expressed fears 
that critical statements by foreign Jews about Serbia's role in Bosnia could be used 
to harm local Jews. 

Economic sanctions and other difficult conditions connected with the war in 
Bosnia affected Jews as well as other citizens. Support from the JDC, Britain's 
World Jewish Relief, and other organizations was essential, both for normal com- 
munity operation and humanitarian and social aid, including aid for refugees and 
food, financial, and medical aid for Jews living in Bosnian communities under 
Serbian control, such as Banja Luka and the Grbavica neighborhood near Sarajevo. 
The Jewish community pharmacy in Belgrade at its peak issued 1,600-1,700 pre- 
scriptions a month to Jews all over Yugoslavia. 

Various ceremonies took place commemorating the Holocaust, particularly in 
Vojvodina province, which had been annexed by Hungary during World War II. 
The biggest of these ceremonies was the two-day commemoration July 10- 1 li 1994, 


of the 50th anniversary of the deportation to Auschwitz of 4,000 Jews from the town 
of Subotica, on the Hungarian border. The ceremony included an ecumenical prayer 
service in the town's former synagogue, a special session of the town government, 
and the unveiling of a monument, as well as the opening of an exhibition on local 
Jewish history. 

Jews were concerned over isolated manifestations of anti-Semitism. These in- 
cluded the appearance of reprints of the Protocols of the Elders ofZion and other 
anti-Semitic works issued by the Velvet editorial house, anti-Semitic material on 
computer networks, and anti-Semitic articles in some publications. The Belgrade 
Jewish community pressed charges against the publisher and editor of the Protocols 
reprint, and copies of a small-circulation newspaper that ran excerpts from it were 
confiscated by police. Serbian Orthodox church leaders condemned anti-Semitic 
articles, including one that appeared in an Orthodox student newspaper. 


There were about 3,000 Jews in Yugoslavia, with more than 2,000 in the capital, 
Belgrade, among them at least 200 Jewish refugees from Bosnia who chose to remain 
in Yugoslavia. Some outlying communities saw their membership grow as people 
who had not previously identified as Jews reclaimed their Jewish identity, and 
several new Jewish communities were formed. This was particularly dramatic in 
Pristina, the capital of Kosovo province, where a community of 37 people was 
reported. Before the war broke out, no Jews were reported to live in Kosovo. Nearly 
half of Belgrade's Jews were over 50, but about 20 percent were children. 

Despite the difficult conditions, the Jewish community in Serbia and Montenegro, 
the largest and liveliest of the Jewish communities in ex- Yugoslavia, enjoyed a wide 
range of religious, educational, and cultural activities involving all age groups. 

The top floor of Belgrade's synagogue was transformed into a youth and educa- 
tion center, where some 150 children a week attended five separate youth and 
student clubs. In April 1994, the comunity's "Braca Baruh" choir marked its 1 15th 
anniversary with a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms accompa- 
nied by the Belgrade Philharmonic. Holidays such as Passover and Purim were 
celebrated with community festivities in various locations. As many as 300 people 
attended the 1994 Purim celebration in the city of Novi Sad. For Passover 1995, 
a Serbo-Croatian translation of the Haggaddah, sponsored by the JDC, was availa- 
ble for use. 

A major event in the life of the community was the arrival in February 1995 of 
a rabbi, Itzhak Asiel, a local man who trained for more than six years in Israel, 
supported by the JDC. He replaced the former rabbi, Cadik Danon, who retired in 
frail health. Danon's daughter was being trained by the JDC to be an assistant to 
Asiel. Asiel was based in Belgrade but traveled regularly to scattered smaller com- 
munities in Subotica, Novi Sad, and elsewhere. He also reintroduced kosher slaugh- 
ter into Yugoslavia. 

The Belgrade-based Federation published a lively monthly bulletin, and several 


other Jewish communities published newsletters. In various towns efiforts at r^ 
storing or documenting Jewish monuments, including cemeteries, took place, and 
there was repair work on the Jewish Museum in Belgrade. On March 25, 1995, 
Friday-night services were held in the synagogue in Novi Sad for the first time in 
decades. On March 30, the synagogue was the scene of an ecumenical "Prayer 
Service for Peace." 

The community suffered the loss of two prominent members. Ladislav Kadelburg, 
the longtime president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, 
died, as did internationally noted Jewish scholar Eugen Werber. 

Ruth Ellen Gruber 

Russia/Former Soviet Union 

National Affairs 

± HE YEARS FOLLOWING THE collapse of the Soviet system were difficult 
for the USSR successor states and their inhabitants, and the 1994-95 period was 
not exceptional. Aside from ecological and natural disasters — an oil pipeline rup- 
ture in the Arctic and a major earthquake that killed 1,200 people in Sakhalin — 
economic and social problems continued to plague the former Soviet Union (FSU). 

In Russia, life expectancy for men dropped from 64 years in 1990 to 59 in 1993 
(lower in rural areas) and from 74 to 72 for women. The birthrate declined to 1.3 
children per woman, while the rates for abortions, infant mortality, and suicide 
increased dramatically. Little wonder that there was a population decline in two- 
thirds of Russia's regions and that the overall population declined by 124,000. 

Some of these developments could be attributed directly to the economic situa- 
tion. In 1990 in Russia, people spent about 38 percent of their income for food; in 
1993, they spent 70 percent. At the end of 1994, the average monthly wage in Russia 
was SlOO, considerably higher than in Ukraine and many other successor states. A 
quarter of the population was said to be living below the poverty line. Economic 
reformers Yegor Gaidar and Boris Fyodorov resigned from the government, and 
economic power seemed to lie in the hands of directors of large state-owned enter- 
prises, collective farms, and their political patrons. There was widespread discontent 
with Western aid, much of which did not seem to filter down to the population. This 
fed a growing resentment of the West, based partly on the perception that Russia 
was no longer a major actor in the international arena and that Western mass culture 
was capturing much of the younger population. 

Still, there were some hopeful signs: increasing privatization, a slowing of infla- 
tion, and the emergence of some wealthy strata in the population. Some of these 
gains were vitiated by large-scale criminality; one estimate was that organized crime 
controlled 50,000 enterprises (Izvestia, October 22, 1994). 

Ukraine began to move in new directions. It agreed to destroy its entire nuclear 
arsenal, thereby gaining about a billion dollars from the sale of reprocessed nuclear 
fuel. This was desperately needed, since inflation in 1993-94 ran between 70 and 
100 percent a month. Ukraine, which once had supplied a quarter of the Soviet 
Union's grain, now imported grain; its gross domestic product declined by 25 
percent in 1993, and the average wage was $18 a month. In parliamentary elections 
in June 1994, Communists got the largest bloc of votes. In July, Leonid Kuchma, 
a former Communist Party organizer and director of a missile factory, beat out 
Leonid Kravchuk for the presidency of the republic. Kuchma was perceived as a 



conservative pro-Russian, but he moved to improve relations with the West and 
promised serious economic reform and privatization. 

In Belarus, the most conservative European republic, Alexander Lukashenka was 
elected president in July 1994. He had pledged to "halt predatory privatization" and 
to integrate Belarus's currency with Russia's. Other signs of some reintegration of 
former states were military agreements signed between Russia and Georgia and 
between Kazakhstan and Russia, the latter gaining control of four military bases in 

The Armenian-Azerbaijani war continued. Armenian forces occupied 20 percent 
of Azerbaijan, which had 1 . 1 million refugees from the fighting and was expending 
about 70 percent of its budget on the struggle. On the other hand, Armenia had no 
working industry, constant fuel shortages, and high inflation. 

By the fall of 1994, the last Russian troops had left Estonia and Latvia, having 
previously evacuated Lithuania. On August 31, 1994, the last Russian troops left 
Germany. Since 1991, about 700,000 soldiers and half a million dependents had 
returned from Eastern Europe and Germany. Employing and housing them was a 
major challenge, primarily for Russia. 

The most dramatic event of the period was the war in Chechnya, a region in the 
North Caucasus, part of the Russian Federation, inhabited largely by the Muslim 
Chechens, which declared independence in 1991. While Moscow dealt successfully 
with similar claims by Tatarstan and other regions, it failed to reach agreement with 
the rebel government in Chechnya and instead backed the pro-Russian faction. 
Fighting between the two Chechen groups broke out in September 1994; on Decem- 
ber 11, Russian forces launched a massive attack on the Chechen capital, Grozny, 
in order "to preserve the Federation." The attack, which involved heavy air bom- 
bardment of Grozny, failed to subdue the Chechen resistance. At the same time, it 
aroused massive domestic and foreign opposition and criticism. Only on January 19, 
1 995, did the presidential palace, a symbol of resistance as well as its mihtary center, 
fall to Russian troops, who by then had destroyed much of the city. Chechen fighters 
retreated to mountainous regions and continued to fight the Russians. 

President Boris Yeltsin's traditional supporters, reformers and democrats, criti- 
cized him severely for the war, while his erstwhile political enemies. Communists 
and nationaUsts, supported the attack on Chechnya to preserve the integrity of the 
Russian Federation. Some fighting continued into the spring and summer of 1995, 
though Chechen and Russian negotiators were trying to work out a settlement. 

Israel and the Middle East 

Political, commercial, and tourist relations between Israel and many of the former 
Soviet republics continued to expand. In 1994, there were about 60,000 tourists from 
the FSU who visited Israel, 7,000 of whom changed their status to immigrants. A 
growing number of Israeli immigrants from the FSU were doing business with their 
native countries. In 1993 Israel exported $115 milHon worth of goods to Russia and 


imported $57 million worth. Israel formally agreed to reduce its requirements for 
licenses, tariffs, quotas, and duties on imports from Russia. 

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin became the first Israeli head of government 
to visit Russia when he went to Moscow in April 1994. He met with Yeltsin and 
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and with Jewish leaders. Also in 1994, Prime 
Minister Sergei Tereschenko of Kazakhstan visited Israel, which had exported over 
$35 million worth of goods to Kazakhstan and had also provided agricultural and 
other expertise, as well as constructing "turnkey" enterprises there. The president 
of another Central Asian republic, Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Niyazov, visited 
Israel in May 1995. The same month, Israeli president Ezer Weizmann went to 
Moscow for the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi 
Germany, during which he met with Russian president Boris Yeltsin. 

When Lithuanian prime minister Adolfas Slezivicius visited Israel in October 
1994 and signed several agreements, he stated that Lithuania would restore property 
rights, not to individuals, but to religious communities. He apologized for the 
collaboration with the Nazis by some Lithuanians. In a statement shown on Lithua- 
nian television, Slezivicius said, "We should recognize that hundreds [there were 
actually thousands — author] of Lithuanians took direct part in this genocide. 
This obligates us to repent and ask the Jewish people for forgiveness for the unique 
suffering inflicted on our fellow citizens." This aroused considerable discussion in 
Lithuania, where some argued that Jews should apologize to Lithuanians for sup- 
posedly having "collaborated" with the Soviets in the imposition of Communism 
on Lithuania. Nevertheless, when Lithuanian president Algirdas Brazauskas visited 
Israel in March 1995, he pledged that war criminals would be prosecuted. 


Jews in the former Soviet republics seemed to be accepting anti-Semitic expres- 
sions and activities with greater equanimity than in years past, perhaps because none 
of the governments of the successor states pursued anti-Semitic policies. Anti- 
Semitic manifestations were most visible among radical, marginal, nationalistic 
groups, many of whom disseminated their ideas to far wider circles. Among the 
more bizarre anti-Semitic tracts in circulation was one charging that the October 
1993 confrontation between President Yeltsin and Parliament was a Jewish plot to 
destroy Moscow by making every Russian "rush to defend his capital and become 
involved in a fratricidal war, which would cause the death of Russia." Another 
leaflet claimed that behind the confrontation was an "anti-Russian, Zionist and 
American plot" involving Israeli armed forces and local units of Betar, the Zionist 

An unexploded bomb was found at the entrance to Moscow's Choral Synagogue 
in January 1994, and a fire of unknown origin had destroyed the Marina Roshcha 
Synagogue in the same city a month earlier. On May 10, 1995, a bomb was thrown 
at the only synagogue in Riga. A bomb threat forced postponement of the opening 


of a lecture hall for the Samara National Jewish Center. Jewish tombstones were 
damaged in Krasnoyarsk and Omsk (Siberia), Chisinau (Moldova), Bishkek 
(Kyrgyzstan), Kazan (Tatarstan), Kaunas (Lithuania), and Tambov (Russia), 

Russian president Yeltsin fired Boris Mironov as chairman of the Russian Federa- 
tion's Committee on the Press after Mironov demanded the resignation of his 
deputy, Sergei Gryzunov, who had officially warned four publications to desist from 
inciting pogroms. The newspaper Al-Quds, which promoted a neo-Stalinist, anti- 
Semitic, and anti-Israel line, was closed in December 1994 on the grounds that its 
owner was a Jordanian citizen and Russian press law forbids ownership of newspa- 
pers by foreigners. Viktor Korchagin, director of a publishing house that published 
fiercely anti-Semitic materials, was fined but given amnesty soon after. In March 
1995, politician Alexei Vedenkin, a leader of the neofascist Russian National Unity 
Party, was arrested for "arousing ethnic enmity and discord." He had threatened 
on television to shoot two parliamentary deputies. 

Author Zoya Krakhmalnikova, a convert to Russian Orthodoxy, gave a long 
interview in Literaturnaya gazeta (September 28, 1994) in which she charged that 
the Russian Orthodox Church was infested with anti-Semitism. Local and foreign 
Jewish organizations and individuals criticized a CBS "60 Minutes" segment, "The 
Ugly Face of Freedom," shown on October 23, 1994, which reported on anti- 
Semitism in Ukraine, particularly Western Ukraine. Yosef Zissels and Ilya Levitats, 
heads of two Ukrainian Jewish national organizations, and Yaakov Bleich, chief 
rabbi of Ukraine, said the program gave an unbalanced and highly exaggerated 
account of anti-Semitism in that country. 



The constant flow of emigrants, on one hand, and some re-identification as Jews 
by people who had not been so identified previously, on the other, made it difficult 
to ascertain the size of the Jewish populations in the successor states. The Jewish 
Agency for Israel released a demographic analysis that estimated the Jewish popula- 
tion in the former Soviet Union at 1,434,800. Of these, 656,000 were said to be in 
the Russian Federation; 474,000 in Ukraine; and 98,000 in Belarus. The criteria used 
were not those of Jewish law (Halakhah), but self-identification and/or estimates by 
Agency emissaries in the FSU who were using the criteria of the Israeli Law of 
Return, which allows non-Jewish relatives of Jews to immigrate to Israel and 
acquire citizenship almost immediately. (For quite different estimates and a discus- 
sion of the difficulties involved in estimating Jewish population in the FSU, see 
"World Jewish Population, 1994," elsewhere in this volume.) 



For the first time, in October 1994 the U.S. National Conference on Soviet Jewry 
recommended that President Bill Clinton issue a determination that Russia was in 
compliance with the requirements of the 1974 Jackson- Vanik Amendment — linking 
U.S. trade benefits to free Soviet emigration — and that there was no need for a 
presidential review of Russia's emigration practices. In Ukraine, there were some 
problems with emigration. In April 1994, Ukraine's minister of justice charged that 
the Jewish Agency had exceeded its mandate by "stimulating mass departures to 
Israel." The tension was soon dissipated, and there was a substantial increase in 
emigration from Ukraine in 1994 compared with the previous year. 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry protested Canada's practice of granting refugee 
status to FSU immigrants who had gone to Israel but later sought refuge in Canada 
on the grounds that they were being discriminated against in Israel as non-Jews. 

In 1994, 98,849 Jews emigrated from the FSU. Of those, two-thirds (66,067) went 
to Israel and 32,664 to the United States. Only 28 percent of the immigrants to Israel 
were academics and scientific professionals, down from 40 percent in 1990. Ora 
Namir, minister of labor and welfare, created a stir when she suggested that Israel 
should be more "selective" in accepting immigrants from the FSU, claiming that 
among recent arrivals, one-third were elderly, one-third were single parents, and 
another third were handicapped. The minister for immigrant absorption scoffed at 
her description, claiming that only IS percent of the immigrants were over 65, and 
that a quarter were 18 or younger. He said further that only 10 percent were single 
parents and that the proportion of handicapped was far lower than claimed by 

Israel took in 103 Jewish refugees from Chechnya, and the Jewish Agency was 
processing 200 more candidates for aliyah in 1995. 

The Israeli Ministry for Immigrant Absorption reported in April 1995 that 17 
percent of those who had immigrated from the USSR since 1989 were not Jewish. 

Communal Affairs 

Foreign organizations and individuals continued to play major roles in the organi- 
zation of Jewish communal life in the FSU. This was due to the lack of experience 
and resources of local Jews, attempts by world Jewry to reintegrate ex-Soviet Jews 
into the global Jewish community, the desire of some foreign Jewish organizations 
to enhance their prestige and fund-raising efforts, and the difficulties local Jews were 
having in organizing themselves. 

In October 1994, five of twelve members of the presidium of the Russian Va'ad, 
the umbrella organization of Russian Jewry, resigned, questioning the disappear- 
ance of funds intended for distribution to local communities. Nevertheless, in May 
1995, the second congress of the Russian Va'ad was held, with about 1 80 delegates 
coming from many cities. Dr. Mikhail Chlenov, who ran unopposed, was reelected 


president for a two-year term. Delegates agreed that the Va'ad needed to be reorga- 
nized and that accountabihty should be strengthened. 

In 1995 the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) assisted 139 
welfare societies in 1 27 cities. Over a thousand welfare workers from 42 cities were 
trained in the new Institute of Communal and Welfare Workers in St. Petersbure, 
sponsored by the JDC. The local welfare organizations, which had been formed just 
in the past few years, played a growing role in Jewish communal life as emigration 
and the economic troubles of the republics increased the proportions of elderly and 

St. Petersburg was one of the better organized communities in Russia. That city 
had a Jewish "umbrella" organization, the Jewish Association of St. Petersburg, 
with which were affiliated the local Jewish university, the Institute for Research on 
the Jewish Diaspora, Holocaust Research Group, Association of War Veterans and 
Ghetto and Blockade Survivors, Ami — a Russian-language Jewish newspaper, two 
Jewish day schools, the "Hesed Avraham" welfare center, and the Harold Light 
Aliyah and Emigration Information Center. There was also a Federation of Jewish 
Organizations, staffed mostly by elderly volunteers. The Association received finan- 
cial assistance from the JDC, while the Federation was funded mostly by the Jewish 

The European Council of Jewish Communities admitted Ukraine to membership 
in November 1994. The council set up a Jewish Crisis Fund to assist communities 
in need — most of them in the former Soviet Union. 

After fighting broke out in Chechnya in the fall of 1994, about 100 Jews fled 
Grozny for Nalchik, capital of the Kabardino-Balkar republic in the Russian Feder- 
ation. Many others had fled the community, which numbered about a thousand, in 
1992-93, in the wake of the 1991 kidnapping and murder of Viktor Kan-Kalik,a 
Jew who was rector of the local university. Following the Russian invasion in 
October 1994, the remaining 50 families departed with assistance from the Jewish 

The Agency spent $15 million in the FSU in 1994, double what it had expended 
in 1993. The JDC spent $12.3 million, up from $10.3 million in the previous year. 

Jewish organizations around the world began to hold meetings in the FSU, 
something unthinkable until recently. Three hundred Jewish women from the West 
and FSU met in Kiev in May 1994 to discuss women and the Jewish tradition, 
women and Torah, anti-Semitism, and other topics. At the same time, the first 
scholarly conference on Jewish culture in Belarus was held in the capital, Minsk. 

In June 1994, the board of trustees of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish 
Culture met in Riga, Latvia. In August the Seventh World Conference for Yiddish 
met in Kiev, with 1 50 people in attendance. The following month, the International 
Federation of Secular Humanist Jews held an international meeting in Moscow. The 
organizers claimed that 80 participants from 26 groups in the FSU were in attend- 
ance. The following month saw a meeting of the Conference of European Rabbis 
in Moscow. 



Ground was broken in August 1994 for a new synagogue building in the Marina 
Roshcha section of Moscow, to replace the previous synagogue, which burned down 
at the end of 1993. 

Vladimir Fedorovsky, president of the Moscow Jewish Religious Community, 
based in the Choral Synagogue, emigrated to Germany after being removed from 
office by the synagogue board on charges of embezzlement. 

Communal Passover seders were widely celebrated throughout the FSU in 1994 
and 1995. In Moscow there were four Orthodox seders and two Reform. The JDC 
and Jewish Agency sponsored many others in dozens of cities. 

Education and Culture 

As of mid- 1995, an estimated 22,000 children in all of the former Soviet Union 
were enrolled in 226 Jewish schools, a dramatic increase from 1990, when 109 
children were enrolled, and, of course, from the years previous to that when there 
were no Jewish schools of any kind in the USSR. It was estimated that about 1 2,000 
children, about 3 percent of the Jewish school-age population in Russia and 
Ukraine, were enrolled in 86 Jewish schools, most of them Sunday schools. Moscow 
had seven day schools, nine Sunday schools, and three kindergartens. The National 
Jewish Day School in Moscow was funded by the Ministry of Education and 
included ten hours a week of Judaica instruction in its curriculum. Small cities 
usually had only a Sunday school. In Uzbekistan and Kharkov (Ukraine), local 
officials prevented the opening of Jewish schools, but day schools opened in L'viv 
(Ukraine) and in Gomel (a state school) and Minsk, both in Belarus. The latter 
republic had 13 Sunday schools. School funding came from a variety of sources, 
including the government, JDC, Chabad, the Conservative movement, the Union 
of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, other foreign organizations, the 
Israel Ministry of Education, the Jewish Agency, local organizations, and tuition 

The Jewish Agency claimed an enrollment of 20,000 in its Hebrew-language 
ulpanim in 1994. It also enrolled 20,000 children in 92 summer camps, spread over 
44 cities. In the summer of 1995, enrollment was estimated at 15,000. Despite the 
fact that the Agency had Israeli representatives in 30 cities and local aliyah coor- 
dinators in about 200, its officials estimated that all the activities of the various 
Israeli organizations in the FSU reached no more than 10-15 percent of the Jewish 

Higher education in Judaica was expanding. A new institution, named for 
Maimonides, opened in Moscow in 1995, and the "International Solomon Univer- 
sity," which has a Judaica curriculum alongside general curricula, opened in Kiev, 
Ukraine, in 1994. Fifty students were enrolled in the Judaica program at the Russian 
State University for the Humanities in Moscow. The 19 fourth-year students in the 


program spent the 1994-95 academic year either in New York, at the Jewish 
Theological Seminary and YIVO Institute, or in Jerusalem, where they took courses 
at several institutions and worked in archives and libraries. The Jewish universities 
in Moscow and St. Petersburg continued their operations. The first Hillel Founda- 
tion in the FSU opened in Moscow. 

In Moscow, the archival branch of the JTS/YIVO Project Judaica had entered 
1,400 collections into the archival survey's data base. 

An exhibit, "History of the Jews in the USSR," opened in July 1 994 at the Central 
Building of Artists in Moscow. It was organized by the Hebrew University's Center 
for Research and Documentation on East European Jewry and featured rare materi- 
als, few of which had ever been seen in public in the FSU, documenting all aspects 
of Soviet Jewish life. 

The movie Schindler's List opened in Moscow on September 12, 1994, and was 
scheduled to be shown in 20 Russian cities. 



National Affairs 


"URING 1994-95 AUSTRALIA CONTINUED to be ruled by the Aus- 
tralian Labor Party (ALP) government of Prime Minister Paul Keating, and the 
country appeared to be slowly edging out of the grip of severe economic recession. 
In May 1994 the Liberal Party replaced its largely ineffectual leader, Dr. John 
Hewson, with Alexander Downer, the youngish product of a distinguished political 
family; but he committed a series of gaffes and was replaced in January 1995 by John 
Howard, a former party leader of unequivocably right-wing outlook. Speculation 
that Keating might call an early election was dampened in May 1995 with the 
release of a public-opinion poll showing the opposition coalition of Liberal and 
National parties, under Howard's robust leadership, running 8 percent ahead of the 

The federal Racial Hatred Bill passed the House of Representatives in November 
1994 by 71 votes to 59. It contained a series of criminal and civil sanctions against 
racism that would complement the program of public education on racial issues 
administered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Department of Immigra- 
tion and Ethnic Affairs. With the opposition hostile to it — demanding "a whole lot 
less interference and intervention, regulation and bureaucracy" — its ultimate fate 
in the Senate rested mainly in the hands of two Green Party senators, whose support 
was by no means assured. They agreed on the need to combat racial vilification but 
opposed prison sentences to punish threats of racial violence, damage to property, 
or intentional incitement of racial hatred. In May 1995, Attorney General Michael 
Lavarch told a television interviewer, "Maybe a version of the bill will ultimately 
pass which has the civil provisions and not the criminal provisions" opposed by the 
West Austrahan Greens. 

hrael and the Middle East 

Australia remained committed to Israel's right to exist within secure borders and 
firmly supported the Middle East peace process. In April 1995, opposition leader 
John Howard, addressing the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Mel- 
boume, said that any government he led would be "uncompromising" in its friend- 



ship for Israel and committed to that nation's "well-being and territorial integrity." 

In March 1994 the federal government upgraded AH Kazak, the PLO's represent- 
ative in Australia, to "head" of the "General Palestinian Delegation." But it did not 
grant him the full diplomatic privileges or immunity that he sought, causing Kazak 
to claim that the government had been "scared by the Israeli lobby." Government 
officials explained that any future diplomatic status would depend on the outcome 
of the peace process. 

In August 1994, Israel's Justice Minister David Libai and Australian attorney- 
general Michael Lavarch signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal 
matters, which took effect in June 1995. A separate treaty signed by Australia and 
Israel in 1976 covers extradition and the transfer of people in custody to serve 

In September 1994, Department of Foreign Affairs head Michael Costello ar- 
ranged a luncheon at which Dr. Nabil Shaath, planning and economic cooperation 
minister of the interim Palestinian Authority, was guest of honor. Luncheon guests 
included PLO representative in Australia Ali Kazak and Zionist Federation of 
Australia officials, including president Ann Zablud and immediate past president 
Mark Leibler. Discussion at the two-hour event ranged from the future of Jerusa- 
lem, through the need for cooperation on water supplies, to the lack of a political 
and bureaucratic infrastructure of the interim Palestinian Authority. Shaath was in 
Australia to canvass economic and political support for the authority. He revealed 
that he had asked Foreign Minister Sen. Gareth Evans if Australia could send 
between 25 and 100 police and army experts to advise and train the Palestinian 
security force in the Gaza-Jericho area. He hoped that Australia would contribute 
aid totaling A$10 million a year. A spokesman for Senator Evans said later that the 
government would consider Shaath's "informal" requests after it received them 

On April 24 to 28, 1995, AustraHa played host for the first time to a meeting 
connected with the multilateral Middle East peace talks, a workshop arranged by 
Australian Foreign Affairs officials on rain-making techniques, held at the New 
South Wales coastal resort of Terrigal. The workshop involved 29 scientists and 
other experts from Australia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, the Pales- 
tinian Authority, Hungary, and the United States. The same month, Defense Minis- 
ter Sen. Robert Ray named Israel as an important potential supplier of military 
technology to Australia. During a four-day visit to Israel he discussed defense issues 
and the peace process with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Ministry 
director-general David Ivry. Asked by a reporter whether openly dealing with the 
Israeli defense industry might be controversial in terms of Australian trade with 
surrounding Arab states, Senator Ray replied, "It might be just as controversial to 
be trading and buying into those particular countries." 

A survey of knowledge of Israel and the Middle East among non- Jewish students 
on university campuses around Australia, carried out by the Australian Institute of 
Jewish Affairs and the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, found high levels of 


neutrality and indifference: 61 percent of the 700 respondents supported neither 
Israel nor the Arabs in the Middle East conflict, 27 percent said their sympathies 
lay with Israel, 12 percent with the Arabs; 37 percent of respondents believed that 
the Israel-PLO accord would lead to lasting peace in the region, while a comparable 
percentage expressed grave doubts. A clear majority of respondents supported the 
proposition that the Palestinians should have an independent state, although 42 
percent had no opinion on the matter. Despite recent widespread media coverage 
of Middle Eastern affairs, only 30 percent of respondents accurately identified 
Yitzhak Rabin as Israel's prime minister. An analysis of results showed a generally 
positive correlation between conservative voting tendencies and support for Israel 
and a parallel correlation between left-of-center voting tendencies and support for 
the Palestinian cause and Arab countries in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism 

Although anti-Semitism, often disguised as anti-Zionism, continued to be peddled 
by the Australian League of Rights and its various outlets, its impact on mainstream 
politics and on the Australian population remained minimal. The Australian section 
qS Antisemitism World Report 1994, issued by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in 
London, reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Australia had risen 
by some 50 percent during 1993. But two of AustraHan Jewry's leading antidefama- 
tion experts. Prof W.D. Rubinstein, research consultant to the Australian Institute 
of Jewish Affairs, and Prof Bernard Rechter, chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti- 
Defamation Commission, urged caution in evaluating that figure. Rubinstein said 
that "a few anti-Semitic remarks by extremists" did not indicate an upsurge in 
anti-Semitism among Australian opinion-makers or the general community. 
Rechter observed that "it is important to stress that the majority of the incidents 
are relatively minor on the scale of anti-Semitic incidents in other parts of the world. 
Many of the incidents were abuse and a bit of vandalism and not mob violence as 
in Europe." Petty vandalism in fact typified anti-Semitism in Australia during 

Separate Molotov cocktail attacks late in 1994 on Melbourne's Yeshivah Center 
in East St. Kilda and on the nearby Reb Zalman-Brocha Jewish Lending Library 
were, police believed, probably the work of a Jewish person with a grudge. In 
January 1995, a fire, apparently deliberately lit, damaged the Adass Israel Syna- 
gogue in the Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea. In February an attempt to light a fire 
inside Temple Beth Israel, St. Kilda, was foiled by a cantor, and the Elwood 
Synagogue in Melbourne suffered minor vandalism. It was unclear whether these 
incidents were the result of deliberate anti-Semitic targeting or of random hooligan- 

In May 1994, ALP federal parliamentarian and veteran Jew-baiter Graeme 
Campbell, defending the policies of the anti-Asian Australians Against Further 
Immigration (AAFI), wrote in the Canberra Times that "it is indeed a pity that the 


narrow ideologues of Judaism seem to have such an influence in Australian public 
life ... the immigration policy of AAFI is very tolerant in comparison to what is 
practiced in Israel." In November 1994, during a debate on the Racial Hatred Bill 
in the federal House of Representatives, Campbell (one of a handful of government 
members who opposed the bill) attacked Jewish "influence," based on "a combina- 
tion of money, position, relentless lobbying and the manipulation of their victim 
status. . . ." 

As in past years, relations between the Jewish community and National Party 
leader Tim Fischer, deputy leader of the opposition coalition, were often strained 
over his views on Israel. On March 22, 1994, Fischer observed, "There's a certain 
bitter irony that on the day Schindler's List dominates the Oscars coverage with its 
portrayal of the horrific Holocaust, that the Israeli Army has killed and wounded 
Lebanese schoolchildren in southern Lebanon, well beyond the boundary of Israel." 
He was referring to an attack the previous day by Israeli forces on Hezballah 
positions in southern Lebanon, which left a schoolgirl dead and 22 children injured. 
Israeli ambassador to Australia Yehuda Avner commented, "It takes a particular 
kind of prejudice to draw a comparison by association between the premeditated 
doctrine of Nazi extermination . . . and Israel's actions of self-defense ... in the 
course of which a number of persons tragically fell victim." Zionist Federation of 
Australia president Mark Leibler and Dr. Colin Rubenstein, editorial chairman of 
Australia/Israel Publications, denounced Fischer's remarks as "outrageous." In 
letters to the National Party's federal president and to the New South Wales 
National Party chairman. Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Isi 
Leibler urged that the dispute with Fischer not be permitted to drive a wedge 
between the party and the Jewish community. In September, as a result of the 
controversy, Fischer resigned from the advisory board of the Middle East Center 
at Macquarie University, Sydney. 

Controversy followed the awarding in June 1995 of Australia's most prestigious 
literary prize, the Miles FrankHn Award, to Helen Demidenko's novel The Hand 
That Signed the Paper, which many Jews and non-Jews claimed oflFered an apologia 
for Ukrainian atrocities against Jews under Nazi occupation. In the novel, the 
"half-Ukrainian, half-Irish" author uses alleged oral testimony from her Ukrainian 
relatives, who justify their complicity in the Holocaust as reprisal for Jewish atroci- 
ties against Ukrainians in the Bolshevik era, including the great famine. When 
Demidenko was revealed to be plain Helen Darvill, daughter of English immigrants 
to Queensland, the aflfair blew up into a cause celebre in Australian literary circles 
and in the Jewish community. Claims and counterclaims were hurled back and forth 
by those who accused Demidenko of gross anti-Semitism and demanded that the 
award be rescinded and by her defenders, who likened her case to that of Salman 
Rushdie. The controversy continued well into 1995. 


Holocaust-Related Matters 

Results of a survey entitled What Do Australians Know About the Holocaust? 
conducted in June 1994 among a random sample of 1,010 Australians by Irving 
Saulwick Associates on behalf of the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs and the 
American Jewish Committee, revealed fairly high levels of awareness. For example, 
asked "What were Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka?" 85 percent correctly re- 
plied "concentration camps," 72 percent knew that Jews were forced by the Nazis 
to wear "a yellow star," and 96 percent could identify Hitler as the leader of Nazi 
Germany. At the same time, "Holocaust denial" was rejected by the overwhelming 
majority of respondents. Asked "Does it seem possible to you that the Nazi extermi- 
nation of the Jews never happened?" over 93 percent replied that they "feel certain 
that it happened," while only 3.7 percent responded that it "seems possible that it 
never happened." However, only 12 percent believed that Holocaust deniers should 
be penalized, while 8 1 percent favored freedom of expression. A majority of the 
Australians surveyed found that "the Holocaust makes clear the need for the state 
of Israel as a place of refuge for Jews in times of persecution." 


In May 1994, Minister for Immigration Sen. Nick Bolkus announced that a visa 
application by British Holocaust revisionist historian David Irving, who sought 
entry to Australia to promote his latest book, had been rejected "on the basis that 
he does not meet the public criterion of good character in the migration regulations. 
. . . For example, a deportation order or exclusion from another country for national 
security reasons." Bolkus pointed out that Irving was deported from Canada in 1 992 
and banned from Germany in 1993. 

In January 1994, the Australian Press Council dismissed a complaint against the 
Melbourne Age brought by Melbourne Holocaust revisionist John Bennett, who 
claimed that the paper had failed to allow space to David Irving's views on the 
Holocaust. In its finding the Press Council reaffirmed a newspaper's right to choose 
what to publish so long as fairness and community interest were not ignored. That 
same month Irving had a letter in The Weekend Australian (January 22-23, 1994), 
in response to an article by regular columnist Beatrice Faust who, he wrote, "has 
fallen for much of the mythology of the Holocaust" concerning the use of Zyklon 
B at Auschwitz. 

Nazi War Criminals 

In February 1994, Graham Blewitt, the last director of the Special Investigations 
Unit (SIU) — which from 1987 until its disbandment in 1992 probed 841 alleged war 
criminals (mainly Baits and Ukrainians) living in Australia — accused the Aus- 
tralian federal government of trying to suppress two major reports on the investiga- 


tions. Both documents reportedly contain either evidence against suspects who were 
never charged or evidence that was suppressed in court hearings (there were three 
prosecutions in Australia, all unsuccessful). One report apparently describes how 
former federal attorney-general Michael Duffy refused to allow the SIU to pursue 
the investigation of a Melbourne man whose alleged crimes were said to exceed those 
of people who were charged. A spokesman for federal attorney-general Lavarch 
claimed that publication of the documents could lead to defamation suits and revive 
accusations against people the courts deemed innocent. 

In November 1994, the book Occupation Nazi Hunter: The Continuing Search for 
the Perpetrators of the Holocaust, authored by Simon Wiesenthal Center director 
Ephraim Zuroff, was released in Australia coincidental with a visit by ZurofF. In his 
book Zuroff alleged that Australian Jewish leaders, especially Isi Leibler and Aus- 
tralian Jewish News editor Sam Lipski, had "gone soft" on war-crimes trials. This 
charge was supported by ZurofTs host in Australia, Rabbi Laibl Wolf, director of 
the Melbourne-based Institute for Jewish Development, which, with the Council of 
Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, sponsored a public lecture by ZurofF. Lipski said 
ZurofTs accusation was a "complete distortion." Speaking from Jerusalem, Leibler 
said it was "outrageous for someone like Zuroff to come from overseas and accuse 
Australia of being soft on Nazis. No Jewish community has been more resolute than 
ours in a campaign to bring about legislation to try war criminals." Leibler said the 
work of the SIU had been handicapped by the "endless and unnecessary lists" with 
which Zuroff furnished it. Acknowledging that there were some Nazi war criminals 
still living in Australia, Leibler said he was prepared to do everything possible to 
bring them to trial, but little could be done where there was insufficient evidence 
to insure a conviction. The Melbourne Age (November 9, 1994) quoted former SIU 
director Robert Greenwood as saying, "I never received from the Wiesenthal Center 
one worthwhile witness. ..." 

In March 1995, right-wing Liberal senator Nick Minchin, during the discussion 
of the Attorney-General's 1993-94 report on the operation of the War Crimes Act, 
told the Senate that war-crimes investigations had been "an extravagant waste of 
taxpayers' money and an irresponsible exercise on the government's part. ... All 
we had were prosecutions launched . . . against three old men living in Adelaide" 
(his constituents). 

A conference entitled "Without Prejudice: Racism and Anti-Semitism in Contem- 
porary Australia," sponsored by the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs and B'nai 
B'rith, was held in Melbourne in June 1994. International speakers included Prof 
Kathleen Mahoney, Canadian law academic and human-rights activist, and Antony 
Lerman, director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, London. The conference was well 
attended by representatives of various religious and ethnic groups and its proceed- 
ings were published. 



The estimated Jewish population of AustraHa was 105,000. 

A study entitled People and Place, edited by Bob Birrell, published in 1994 by 
the Center for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, Melbourne, 
reported the following data on intermarriage: "In 1981, 14 percent of Jewish males 
and 11.2 percent of Jewish females had married out. Between 1981 and 1991 the 
intermix rate for males and females increased only slightly to 14.5 percent and 1 1.6 
percent respectively. The overall rate of outmarriage for Jews now stands at 13.1 
percent." The study concluded that this was a "strikingly low" level. Intermarriage 
percentages for people of other faiths in Australia were as follows: Muslims, 6 
percent; Greek Orthodox, 12.1 percent; Hindus, 13.5 percent; Buddhists, 15.6 per- 
cent; Catholics, 29.9 percent; Anglicans, 34.7 percent. 

Jewish lay and religious leaders expressed surprise and some skepticism about the 
intermarriage figure, but Jewish demographers felt that the study vindicated their 
own analyses, which showed consistently lower intermarriage rates than communal 
leaders claimed. A recent study by John Goldlust entitled The Jews of Melbourne: 
A Community Profile, produced under the auspices of the Jewish Welfare Society, 
showed a Jewish intermarriage rate in Melbourne of 8.5 percent. 

According to a report entitled Community Profile 1991 Census: South African 
Born , released by the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research in 1 994, Jews 
comprised between 12 and 15 percent of the total 49,000 South African-bom people 
living in Australia in 1991. More than half of the South African-bom Jews lived in 
New South Wales; as a group, they represented about 20 percent of all South 
African-bom people in that state. An estimated 10 percent of Sydney Jewry was 
from South Africa, as was about 4 percent of Melboume Jewry, and 30 to 40 percent 
of Perth's 6,000-strong Jewish community. 

Communal Affairs 

British writer Chaim Bermant, one of many distinguished overseas Jews who paid 
communally sponsored visits to Australia during 1994, concluded, "If there is one 
comer of the Diaspora which does have a future, and a promising one at that, it 
is Australia. It is also the one Diaspora community still growing and I have no doubt 
that it will become the goldeneh medineh of the 21st century." 

In August 1994, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the commu- 
nity's paramount umbrella organization, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its 
founding. At the ECAJ annual conference in December, Ann Zablud, who had 
succeeded Mark Leibler as president of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) 
in July, reportedly officially ended a period of intense rivalry with the ECAJ for the 
right to lobby the federal govemment on general Jewish concems by conceding the 


supremacy of the ECAJ. That rivalry had erupted during Mark Leibler's presidency, 
but appeared to have subsided during the last months of his tenure. Subsequently 
claiming that she had been misreported, Zablud nevertheless appeared to acknowl- 
edge the ECAJ's exclusive right to represent the community on issues not involving 
Israel with her statement that "the ZFA is a roof body representing Australian 
Jewry in all matters concerning Zionism. ..." 

It was reported in March 1995 that Israeli expatriates living in Melbourne were 
considering forming a social and cultural center offering Hebrew-language material. 
Yakov Ekstein, head of the Victorian Aliyah Center, estimated the number of 
Hebrew speakers in Melbourne (native Israelis and their children) as between 8,000 
and 10,000. Many did not identify with the local Jewish community, and attempts 
were being made to involve them. 

The Israel-Diaspora Identity Crisis: A Looming Disaster, by ECAJ president Isi 
Leibler, was published in 1994 by the World Jewish Congress and Australian 
Institute of Jewish Affairs in both English and Hebrew versions. It was selected by 
the Israeli-based Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education as a mandatory text 
for intending shlihim (emissaries) to Diaspora communities. 

Circumcision Controversies 

In January 1994 Jewish communal leaders around Australia expressed concern 
at the Queensland Law Reform Commission's surprise request to the local Jewish 
community to explain the rite of brit milah . The commission asked for the number 
of Jewish ritual circumcisions performed in Queensland each year, the procedures 
and precautions adopted by mohelim (ritual circumcisors) in Queensland, details of 
any complications arising, and details of any differences of opinion within the Jewish 
community regarding circumcision. This was believed to be the first time any 
governmental authority in Australia had questioned brit milah . Queensland Jewish 
Board of Deputies president Laurie Rosenblum deplored the "offensive inquiry" but 
noted that the law obliged him to cooperate. He subsequently placed before the 
commission 16 papers from medical and rabbinical authorities, including Chief 
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of the British Commonwealth, explaining and justifying the 
practice. Rosenblum said he hoped that the weight of the evidence he had amassed 
would insure that brit milah was never again questioned in Queensland or anywhere 
else in Australia. 

To general dismay and disgust on the part of Jews, the commission's request 
prompted a bitter attack on brit milah in the Australian Jewish News (January 28, 
1994) by features editor Dr. David Bernstein, a South African-bom expatriate 
Israeli whose idiosyncratic opinions on a number of Jewish and Israeli topics had 
often inflamed mainstream communal opinion. Bernstein characterized male cir- 
cumcision as a "barbarity," "mutilation," and "primitive" and linked it to the 
practices of female labial excision or infibulation performed by some ethnic groups, 
which had been the focus of widespread concern. Bernstein's remarks were publi- 


cized in March by Melbourne Age columnist Pamela Bone, who attacked male 
circumcision along with female genital mutilation. 

In March 1995, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that a Liberal member of the 
South Australian Parliament, Peter Lewis, had labeled draft legislation that would 
ban female genital mutilation "blatantly sexist" and said that he would oflFer an 
amendment banning male circumcision. During the debate on the bill in April, 
Lewis moved that all forms of genital mutilation regardless of sex should be banned, 
but that male circumcision would be exempt. That exemption clause had been 
included by Lewis in his amendment after consultation with Rabbi Ian Morris of 
the Beit Shalom (Progressive) Synagogue. 


In August 1994 the controversial and outspoken Rabbi Boruch Zaichyk resigned 
as chief minister of the Mizrachi Congregation in Melbourne, after eight years of 
service and following a rift with the majority of the lay leadership. In September 
1988, despite formidable opposition from other Orthodox rabbis in Melbourne, 
Zaichyk had established an eruv (an area defined by a physical boundary, usually 
constructed of wires or cables, within which Orthodox Jews may carry on the 
Sabbath and push baby carriages) centering on the Caulfield-East St. Kilda heart- 
land of Jewish residence. From January 1, 1995, amid protests from its mainly 
Mizrachi users, the eruv was suspended by the congregation's executive on the 
advice of Rabbi Feitel Levin of the Brighton Hebrew Congregation in Melbourne, 
who was associated with the Chabad movement. He claimed that the eruv contra- 
vened halakhah and was accordingly invalid. It was estimated that some 300 to 400 
households were aflFected by the suspension. Plans to reestablish an eruv with the 
help of overseas experts were quickly announced by the Mizrachi Congregation. 
Rabbi Shimon Eider of Lakewood, New Jersey, was due in Melbourne in February 
to help Rabbi Levin reinstate that city's eruv. 

At the same time (January 1995), the New South Wales Rabbinical Council was 
exploring the possibility of introducing an eruv in Sydney. A Rabbinical Council 
executive member said that plans to establish an eruv in Sydney could be hastened 
if an overseas expert, such as Rabbi Eider, were consulted and a feasibility study 
undertaken. Unlike Melbourne, where some rabbis would remain adamantly op- 
posed to an eruv regardless of its overseas rabbinical imprimatur, all of Sydney's 
rabbis were expected to accept the ruling of an authority of Rabbi Eider's standing. 
Meanwhile, measures were in hand to insure the long-term viability of the eruv in 
Perth, Western Australia, which relied heavily on power lines: by the year 2010 all 
power Unes in Perth were scheduled to be underground. 

The death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in 
June 1994 in New York, received much publicity in the Australian general media. 
Tributes were paid by lay and rabbinic spokespersons, and by special arrangement 
members of the Melbourne Lubavitcher community crowded into the studios of 


television station Channel Seven to view a satellite relay broadcast of the rabbi's 
funeral. Rabbi Yitzhok Groner of the Melbourne Yeshivah Center, an American 
whose brother Leibl was a close aide to Schneerson in New York, was widely 
regarded as a possible successor to the Rebbe. 

In July 1994, a long-simmering dispute between Rabbi Groner and another 
Chabad leader, Joseph (Yossl) Gutnick, scion of a prominent Australian rabbinic 
family and an extremely wealthy businessman, boiled over on ABC television, 
Gutnick, who had reportedly agreed to help the yeshivah out of its financial deficit 
of about A$12 million by a donation of A$500,000, said on the "7:30 Report" that 
no such aid would be forthcoming if Groner brought "Melbourne into the [Luba- 
vitch] politics of the United States" or promoted the idea that the Rebbe might 
return from the dead to be the Messiah. Groner had told the program, "The sages 
say [the Messiah] could be a living person or could be a person who passed away."