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(l-r) Exec. Vice Chairman/CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein, Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Minister of Education Hon. Naftali Bennett, CEO, UJA-Federation Eric Goldstein & Chairman of the Conference of Presidents Arthur Stark

NEW YORK -- Representatives of the member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and other local and national Jewish leaders gathered together to discuss the aftermath of the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the state of anti-Semitism in the United States, and steps to enhance the protection of American Jewish communities and institutions.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, MK, discussed Israel’s commitment to assisting Jewish communities around the world and in the US, and ways to enhance cooperation. He outlined measures his ministry has instituted and wanted to know what the leaders felt and further areas of cooperation.

COP Chairman Arthur Stark chaired the meeting, and opened with a presentation by CEO Malcolm Hoenlein that assessed the current situation, the imperatives the community faces, including finding the resources and, together with government at all levels as well as communal resources, to enhance security of Jewish communities around the country. This theme was addressed by the National Director of the Secure Community Network, Michael Masters, who talked about the resources, programs and measures that they are working on with local institutions and communities. The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League,

Jonathan Greenblatt, provided a comprehensive review of the patterns of anti-Semitism, including the sharp increase in recent years in the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported. Mr. Stark summoned the group to a moment of silence while Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation, read the names of the eleven victims. It was noted that the first funeral was being held simultaneous to the gathering.

The participants engaged in an intensive discussion of the problems they encounter in the security realm, their concerns about the rise of extremism and the polarization of American society, and practical approaches and programs that have been implemented in various parts of the country.

Mr. Hoenlein said that “the age of innocence of American Jews may have ended in Pittsburgh. While we have seen these kinds of attacks in Europe, and some in the United States, few believed that it would come to mass casualties in a synagogue during Sabbath services. He outlined pending legislation that should be supported, including a standardized definition of anti-Semitism for all government agencies and universities, the passage of the anti-BDS legislation, and greater efforts to counter the anti-Semitism rising on college campuses across the country.” He described this as a war on evil in which everyone must take sides. “There can be no fence-sitting and no obfuscation, no exceptions and no excuses. It is time to hold everyone to account for what they do or what they fail to do.”

Minister Bennett pointed out that life is a balance between security and living. He offered to make Israeli resources, intelligence and guidance available, but noted that the leadership needs to be taken by American Jews. He said that their global anti-Semitism center tracks hostile actions and expression around the clock. He said that they came to listen to the concerns and the idea of the Jewish leaders, and will take their message back to his Ministry and government.

Speaking from an influential conference in the Gulf, Michael Masters noted that recent events are a wake-up call that we must all heed. He noted the progress that has been made and the many programs SCN has initiated, but the need for organizations to develop threat assessments, to develop training and protocols, and to prepare for any eventuality. He urged a unified reporting system, and noted the increased cooperation among the organizations toward this end.

The speakers all focused on the need for increased vigilance in dealing with the threats in cyberspace, the ability to recognize threats more quickly, and to close down sites that encourage anti-Semitism and hate, and while also identifying the purveyors.

In the discussion, many organizations offered suggestions of programs that they have implemented, resources that are available, and the importance of establishing relationships with police, homeland security, and other law enforcement agencies, building coalitions with other groups, increasing the ability to preempt and identifying resources from private and public sources to help finance the proposals put forward.

Mr. Greenblatt pointed out that a vast majority of the American people do not harbor anti-Semitic feelings, with recent polls showing that number at 14%. He noted that acts of vandalism, violence and harassment directed at Jewish organizations and individuals have increased sharply, some 57% this year. The trend is of concern, he noted, and noted a recent spike in threat against Jewish journalists. He warned against complacency against the normalization of anti-Semitism and urged that people put aside differences to act together against this threat.

The meeting was held at the UJA-Federation building in New York.



The infamous Kristallnacht pogrom on 9-10 November 1938 was a pivotal event in the lead up to the Holocaust. In a few short hours, mobs across Germany and Austria swept through Jewish communities leaving in their wake devastation and death. As Holocaust survivor and historian Prof. Zvi Bacharach z"l testified: "German Jewry was so much a part of German society that the Nazi blow hit it from within. Until 1938, my parents never thought of leaving Germany."

Eighty years after the Kristallnacht pogrom, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will upload a new online exhibition entitled "It Came from Within", and will also host three commemorative events.

Lore Mayerfeld (née Stern) was born in 1936 in the city of Marburg, Germany. In 1938, her father, Markus Stern, was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. On the evening of 9 November 1938, the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom broke out. In just a few hours, antisemitic mobs broke into and vandalized Jewish homes and businesses across Germany and Austria. During the pogrom, 91 Jews were murdered, more than 1,400 synagogues across Germany and Austria were torched, and Jewish-owned shops and businesses were plundered and destroyed. In addition, the Jews were forced to pay “compensation” for the damage that had been caused. Approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps many of who never returned home.

During the pogrom, non-Jewish neighbors offered to hide Marcus's wife Kaetchen and their infant Lore in their house, to protect them from the anti-Jewish violence raging in the town. Lore, already in pajamas, hid with her mother at the neighbors' until the pogrom was over. When they returned home, they found that their house had been destroyed, forcing them to move in with Kaetchen's mother, Lena Kahnlein-Stern. Markus was released six weeks later from Buchenwald, thanks to a US visa he possessed, on the condition that he leave Germany right away.

After arriving in the US, Markus immediately set about getting his wife and daughter out of Germany. Eighteen months later, Kaetchen and Lore finally obtained US visas. In August 1941, they sailed from Portugal on the Mouzinho. Lore took Inge, the doll she had received for her birthday from her grandmother Lena, with her on her voyage. She dressed Inge in the pajamas she had worn the night of Kristallnacht. On 9 September, the ship reached New York, and the Stern family were finally reunited. Many members of Lore's family who remained in Germany were murdered during the Holocaust.

Throughout the years, Lore kept Inge close to her. Even when she became a mother, she would not let her children play with the doll – which represented the life Lore left behind in Germany. In 2018, she donated Inge, as well as personal letters and documents, to Yad Vashem for posterity as part of the "Gathering the Fragments" project to rescue Holocaust-related personal items from being lost forever.

Lore's story is one of the personal accounts featured in Yad Vashem's new online exhibition marking 80 years since the Kristallnacht pogrom – "It Came from Within" All eleven stories featured in the exhibition represent a microcosm of the shocking experiences of the German and Austrian Jewish community that terrible night. Through the use of personal testimonies, stories, documents, photographs and artifacts the exhibition depicts the brutal blow suffered by the Jews during the Kristallnacht pogrom: the physical violence, the property damage, the synagogue desecration and destruction, and the horrifying sight of holy books and Torah scrolls in flames. The precious artifacts featured in the exhibition provide a window into the lives of those who experienced the events of 9 November 1938, and give a glimpse of German and Austrian Jewry before WWII. Some of the stories displayed are being told for the first time.

 Yad Vashem will be hosting a series of events marking the 80th anniversary of the November pogrom, "Kristallnacht":

 Monday, 5 November 2018 the International Institute for Holocaust Research will be conducting a day symposium entitled "The Voices of the Time: Commemorating 80 Years for the Kristallnacht Pogrom". The event will begin at 9:30 and take place in the Constantiner Lecture Hall of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem and will be conducted in Hebrew and English.  Click here for a complete program of this event.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 18:30, Yad Vashem will host a special screening of the award-winning film The Invisibles, directed by Claus Räfle. The event will also include a lecture by Naama Galil of Yad Vashem's Commemoration and Community Relations Division on the topic, "Shattered Hope: Kristallnacht from the Perspective of Germany Jewry."

Thursday, 8 November 2018 at 9:30, Yad Vashem will host a joint event with the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin, which will include a memorial ceremony in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance and a program in the Auditorium. The program will include greetings from Association Chairman David Boaz and a lecture by Yad Vashem Researcher and Online Content Coordinator Yona Kobo, who will present the new online exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, "It Came from Within."  

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education.


BEVERLY HILLS – More than 1,200 supporters attended the FIDF Western Region Gala, which raised a record $60 million for the well-being of Israeli soldiers, and celebrated Israel’s 70th anniversary Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) raised $60 million at its annual Western Region Gala on Thursday, Nov. 1, held at the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The figure represents the most money raised at any single FIDF event in the organization’s history. The sold-out gala, which has become one of Los Angeles’ premier charitable events, united over 1,200 supporters from across the country to support the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

For the 12th year, FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala. Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Ashton Kutcher; Pharrell Williams; Gerard Butler; Andy Garcia; Fran Drescher; Ziggy Marley; David Foster; Katharine McPhee; David Draiman; A. C. Green; Ralph Sampson; Robert Horry; Josh Flag; Israeli actress and star of hit Netflix show Fauda Rona-Lee Shim'on; Israeli actor Yaakov Zada Daniel, also of Fauda and an FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipient; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; business magnates and philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, Serge Azria and Florence Azria; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc. Robert Book and his wife, Amy; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle; GUESS Founders Maurice and Paul Marciano; FIDF National Chairman Rabbi Peter Weintraub; FIDF National President Robert Cohen; FIDF National Board Member and Western Region President Tony Rubin and his wife, Linda; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.
“We are thrilled that so many members of our community, including major Hollywood figures, are coming together to help us support the brave men and women of the IDF,” said Haim Saban. “Cheryl and I are extremely proud to chair this event for the 12th year, and to be part of this incredible organization that inspires more and more supporters and contributions every year.”

The top donations announced at the event were $10 million from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson and $10 million from Haim and Cheryl Saban.

Rabbi Eckstein, who has contributed more than $45 million to FIDF in the last few years, donated $5 million at the gala. “We are so deeply grateful to FIDF for the commendable support they provide the real heroes of Israel, the men and women on the front lines, and The Fellowship is proud to be their partner in this vital mission.”

The event featured a special performance by Pharrell Williams. Presiding as the evening’s master of ceremonies was Staff Sgt. (Res.) Izzy Ezagui, an American who moved to Israel, became a decorated squad commander in the IDF, and returned to the battlefield after losing an arm in combat.

The gala presented a moving program, which told the 70-year history of Israel through the eyes of its heroes, including the multigenerational story of the Duvdevani family, whose members are commended for their heroic actions protecting Israel. The experiences of the IDF’s paramedics – the heroes behind the heroes – were shared through the stories of Staff Sgt. Yotam, a paramedic in the Paratroopers’ Brigade, who helped an American soldier in need of critical medical treatment during Operation Swift Response, an international exercise in Poland; Staff Sgt. Erez, who served as a combat medic in the “Egoz” unit of the Golani Brigade during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, and supported his unit in the Shuja’iyeh neighborhood of Gaza, arriving at the scene under heavy fire and saving the life of his severely injured commander; and Lt. Noam, a paramedic in the Armored Corps who attempted to perform resuscitation on a critically wounded soldier during Operation Protective Edge, despite his low chances of survival.

Finally, guests celebrated the triumph of the human spirit as Col. Shai Siman-Tov, who was critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge, shared his story. His injuries left him paralyzed and in need of a wheelchair; however, undeterred by his injury, Shai returned to the IDF and is now a team leader at the Tactical Command College. In 2017, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Funds raised at the gala will provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in-need, support for Lone Soldiers throughout their service and upon release, crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities. The evening presented a rare and exclusive opportunity to pay tribute to the state of Israel and its brave men and women in uniform.

pp --BBCi

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                            27 Cheshvan-3 Kislev, 5779                                 Nov. 5-11, 2018 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  614th Web Ed.