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          8-14 Iyar, 5778                                               April 24-30, 2018 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  606th Web Ed.



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HAPMAN HOSTS ITS 19TH ANNUAL HOLOCAUST ART AND

WRITING CONTEST


ORANGE -- Chapman University’s annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest  an event to engage middle and high school students with the stories of survivors and rescuers who experienced the Holocaust at first hand -- will hold its awards ceremony on Chapman’s campus on March 9. Now in its 19th year, a record-breaking 255 middle and high schools from 31 states and 8 countries outside the United States registered to participate in this year’s contest focusing on the theme Messenger of Memory. Chapman University is unique in presenting a Holocaust Art and Writing Contest that has grown to reach middle and high schools both nationally and internationally.

To participate in the contest, students listen to oral testimonies from Holocaust survivors and rescuers, and create entries in prose, poetry, art, and film.  Rather than simply repeating the testimony, students are challenged to truly engage with the individual’s story and to find the aspect that speaks to them and that they want to share with others as “messengers of memory.”

The awards ceremony honoring students, teachers and the Holocaust survivors and rescuers with whom the students have engaged will be held in Chapman’s Memorial Hall on Friday, March 9, 2018, at 11 a.m. with an expected 1,000 students, parents and teachers, and 25 to 30 Holocaust survivors from Orange and Los Angeles counties in attendance―a dramatic decrease from the nearly 100 survivors who were at Chapman’s first contest awards ceremony. The notable highlight of the event for the students who participate each year is visiting with the survivors at the reception following the ceremony.

“Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author, teacher, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, believed that memories of the Holocaust can become messages when that happens, the past becomes present to us and brings us into the world of the survivors and rescuers,” said Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., director of Chapman University’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, which presents the contest.  “Professor Wiesel affirmed that ’when you listen to a witness, you become a witness.’ Through the contest, students make a truly personal connection―history is no longer distant facts and dates but stories that are personal and real.”

Schools in Canada, Israel, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland and South Africa registered for this year’s contest.  Entries were judged by a “blind” panel of judges including Holocaust survivors, local businesspeople, professionals, organization leaders, and Chapman faculty and students.

“Since we began this contest many years ago, it has grown enormously in scope except in one area:  the number of Holocaust survivors in attendance decreases each year, making the passing on of stories and memo

                                                                                                    Ask the Rabbi

YOM ATZMA'UT FEATURES


By RABBI RAYMOND APPLE


ISRAEL AT 70

The 70th anniversary of the State of Israel is celebrated this week.

Israel is one of the great achievements of modern history.

But of course the backers of BDS don’t agree. They can’t be too proud of themselves because they haven’t achieved a thing apart from slogans and stereotypes.

And they have to accept (and enjoy!) Israeli inventions and initiatives. How they must grit their teeth!

Do they use cell phones and computer technology? – mostly Israeli developments.

Do they rely on medical and scientific advances including desalinisation techniques? – mostly worked out in Israel.

Do they live in and enjoy the modern world? So much that they take for granted comes from Israel.

Can their nations compete with Israel in numbers of university graduates, in start-ups, literacy, books, museums, and self-reliance? Israel is small in size but a giant in achievement.

Do they pay even lip service to the Bible and Biblical ethics? Both are products of Israel…

They blame Israel for the world’s problems when they should be praising it for enriching humanity.

They think they’re clever in cooking up such a clever set of initials as BDS, when the three letters really stand for “Back to the Jungle”, “Destroy Civilisation”, and “Smother your Brains”!

TURNING YOM ATZMA'UT INTO A FESTIVAL

70 years since Israel’s founding there is still a debate about the status of Yom Atzma’ut.

In Israel itself some circles mark the day in a religious way with special services, with Hallel (with or without a b’rachah), home observances, and the feeling that a modern-day miracle is being celebrated.

Most, including the national religious groups, go on outings, have picnics and barbecues, and do other less religious things.

Others think the occasion does not require celebration, certainly not in a religious way, and object to celebrating during the S’firah period or creating a new festival.

There is a halachic problem with adding a new festival to the calendar, which is tantamount to adding to the mitzvot of the Torah. The paradox is that there is also an obligation to rejoice when Divine intervention brings salvation to the people of Israel, especially when Israel is delivered from outside powers. According to Nachmanides, we may not postpone such rejoicing until the messianic age, and even if it seems that the deliverance has come through human effort it is G[-]d who made it possible.

It is interesting to see that when Moses and the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, the Torah says, “And G[-]d delivered… and Israel saw… they believed in the Lord… then Moses and the Children of Israel sang…” (Ex. 14:30-31; 15:1). Rejoicing when something exceptional happens is natural and permissible, indeed inescapable and essential.

Yet how can we add a festival to the calendar?

We actually did so with Chanukah and Purim. Though neither occasion is listed in the written Torah, we still say a b’rachah praising G[-]d for commanding us to read the Megillah on Purim and kindle the lights on Chanukah. On both occasions there was a deliverance, even though it was not total or permanent. Yet these festivals came about over time and it took generations for them to win universal acceptance.

Yom Atzma’ut is also an occasion in process. It will find its permanent form in time: according to the last will and testament of a former Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Benzion Uzziel, who died in 1953 and experienced the rebirth of the State, there will come a time when the Jewish people and the world will “know and believe that the hand of the Lord has done this in order to fulfil the message of the prophets for the eternal wellbeing of His people and the whole world, which depends on Israel’s observance of the words of the Torah. Thus all the peoples will learn to know the uniqueness of G[-]d and His faith, which will bring true peace in the world, where no-one will harm his neighbour and the land will be full of knowledge as the waters cover the sea.”

In relation to interrupting the semi-mourning of the S’firah period, another former Sephardi chief rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, ruled that people could have haircuts and hold weddings on Yom Atzma’ut (see “Alei Asor”, issued by Mossad HaRav Kook).

His view was that Yom Atzma’ut is at least equivalent to Lag Ba’Omer when such things are permitted, and he pointed out that the semi-mourning of the S’firah evolved from custom and was not ordained by rabbinic regulation. Since no rabbinic decree proclaimed the period of mourning, no rabbinic decree is necessary to establish Yom Atzma’ut.

What will or will not give Yom Atzma’ut the status of a festival is the will of the people. How long it will take cannot be predicted. Much will depend on whether, like the Israelites who crossed the Red Sea, ordinary people will perceive something spiritual in the establishment and survival of Israel. The sages said, “A handmaid saw more at the Red Sea than did Ezekiel in his prophecy”.

There are signs of a resurgence of Torah in Israel. Until it becomes widespread, those who regard the State as a Divine miracle will continue to celebrate and pray that the day will come when, in Rashi’s words, “Everyone who lives in the Land of Israel will say, ‘This is my G[-]d and I will exalt Him!'”


his year’s guest speaker will be Eva Brettler, a child Holocaust survivor from Hungary. Eva survived the horrific conditions of the Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps because of courageous and compassionate women, fellow prisoners, who looked after her after her mother died.  They refused to allow the lonely little girl to succumb to despair, illness, or starvation.

Students, teachers, and Holocaust witnesses will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face at a reception following the ceremony.

Chapman University’s 19th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest is sponsored by: The 1939 Society, the Samueli Foundation, and Yossie and Dana Hollander with support from the USC Shoah Foundation  The Institute for Visual History and Education, and in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League; the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Orange; Chapman University’s Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies and Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Echoes and Reflections;  Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc., and the Orange County Department of Education.

This event is NOT open to the public, as the auditorium will be filled by participants and invited guests.  Media are welcome to attend and cover. Many of the contest participants and award winners can be interviewed after the ceremony, and the reception offers wonderful visuals of students meeting the Holocaust survivors.

As an academically distinguished center of learning, Chapman University attracts extraordinary students and faculty from around the globe. Its ten schools and colleges foster a vibrant intellectual community, and provide extensive opportunities for students to learn, grow and discover alongside remarkable faculty. The University is home to some 8,000 students pursuing bachelor, master and doctoral degrees, and is alma mater to more than 40,000 alumni found throughout the United States and the world. Now celebrating its 156th year, Chapman is known for its distinguishing strengths in leadership and civic engagement, in the arts and entertainment disciplines, and in specialized sectors of technology and science. The University is comprised of its main campus in Orange, California, and the Rinker Health Science campus for graduate health science programs in Irvine, California.This event is NOT open to the public, as the auditorium will be filled by participants and invited guests.  Media are welcome to attend and cover. Many of the contest participants and award winners can be interviewed after the ceremony, and the reception offers wonderful visuals of students meeting the Holocaust survivors.

As an academically distinguished center of learning, Chapman University attracts extraordinary students and faculty from around the globe. Its ten schools and colleges foster a vibrant intellectual community, and provide extensive opportunities for students to learn, grow and discover alongside remarkable faculty. The University is home to some 8,000 students pursuing bachelor, master and doctoral degrees, and is alma mater to more than 40,000 alumni found throughout the United States and the world. Now celebrating its 156th year, Chapman is known for its distinguishing strengths in leadership and civic engagement, in the arts and entertainment disciplines, and in specialized sectors of technology and science. The University is comprised of its main campus in Orange, California, and the Rinker Health Science campus for graduate health science programs in Irvine, California.
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