A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘jews

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the emergent evidence for exomoon Kepler-1625b-I.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the future of technological civilizations: what if they do not always ascend, but stagnate?
  • D-Brief takes issue with the idea of the “digital native.” Everyone needs to adopt new technology at some point.
  • Are Elon Musk and Space-X backing away from the Mars colony plans? The Dragon’s Tales notes.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map of massacres of Aborigines on the Australian frontiers.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if widespread roboticization really will increase productivity much.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on the traditional rum of Newfoundland.
  • Drew Rowsome likes a new Toronto show, Permanence, in part for its take on male sexuality and sexual presence.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes that Russia leads the world in cat ownership.
  • Strange Company reports on coin-collecting 1920 cat Peter Pan Wass.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the potential conflicts between “contingency” and “explanation.”
  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at how a Nassau County legislator wants to block a Roger Waters conconcert because of his support for an Israel boycott.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Chinese outnumber Jews in the Far East’s Jewish Autonomous Oblast. (Not many of both, mind.)

[LINK] “Refugees: That Time Everyone Said ‘No’ And Bolivia Said ‘Yes'”

At NPR, Jasmine Garsd notes how, in an increasingly closed South America in the 1930s, Bolivia stood out for its continued welcome of refugees.

Consulates were under orders to stop giving visas. Ships carrying refugees were turned away. The most famous case is the St. Louis in May 1939. It was carrying 937 refugees. In Cuba, where the ship first attempted to dock, political infighting, economic crisis and right-wing xenophobia kept the passengers on board. The U.S denied the ship too, as did Canada. The St. Louis turned back to Europe.

All in all, Latin American governments officially permitted only about 84,000 Jewish refugees between 1933 and 1945. That’s less than half the number admitted during the previous 15 years.

There were exceptions — again, often in countries that were far from well-off. The Dominican Republic issued several thousand visas. In the ’40s El Salvador gave 20,000 passports to Jews under Nazi occupation. Former Mexican Consul to France Gilberto Bosques Saldivar is known as the “Mexican Schindler.” Working in France from 1939 to 1943, he issued visas to around 40,000 people, mostly Jews and Spaniards.

In South America, Bolivia was the anomaly. The government admitted more than 20,000 Jewish refugees between 1938 and 1941. The brains behind the operation was Mauricio Hochschild, a German Jew. He was a mining baron who had Bolivian President Germán Busch’s ear (and who wanted to help his fellow Jews for humanitarian reasons).

This was a time of economic crisis and uncertainty for the whole world, but Bolivia was in particularly bad shape. The Chaco War, fought against Paraguay until 1935, had just ended. Ironically, Bolivia’s weakness was why the government agreed to open those doors wide open. Even though Busch flirted with Nazi ideology, he hoped that that immigrants would help revitalize the economy.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

[LINK] “Bukhara Jews Thrive in New York but Are Almost Gone in Bukhara”

Tara Isabella Burton of National Geographic describes life for the vanishingly small remnant of Bukharan Jews who remain in their homeland of Uzbekistan. The near-totality of the community has emigrated, to Israel and New York City.

Under the secularist Soviet Union, remembers Abraham Ishakov, cantor at the old town’s synagogue, carrying out the yushvo—mourning rituals central to the faith and culture of Bukharian Jews—was strongly discouraged. When his own father died, “we used to have to sneak into the synagogue and pray in secret.”

Now, caring for the dead in Bukhara is no less challenging an affair, albeit for different reasons. There is almost nobody left to mourn them.

Ishakov points out a plaque from 2000, commemorating the donors who paid for the most recent renovation. “Rafael Davidov. He moved to America. Jacob Rafaelkov. Off to Israel. Hasimov Sharimov. Israel. Isaac Abramov. New York. Soson Priyev. USA.”

Once, Central Asia was home to 45,000 Bukharian Jews: an ethno-religious group—speaking a dialect known as Judeo-Tajik—centered in this city. They worked as merchants and craftsmen, trading along the Silk Road.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, waves of Jews emigrated abroad—mostly to America and Israel—some for economic reasons, some because of fear of persecution, should an Islamist government should come to power in Uzbekistan.

Today, around 100 Jews are left in Bukhara, the community’s heartland. In the New York City borough of Queens, alone, there are about 50,000.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 5, 2015 at 5:25 pm

[LINK] “The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews”

Back in March, The Daily Beast‘s Emma Beals had a nice article about Judy Feld Carr. A Canadian Jewish musicologist, Carr was responsible for the successful flight of Syria’s remnant Jewish community to safety. (Her prediction that, if Syrian Jews had stayed, they would have risked slaughter seems sadly correct.)

In the late 1970’s, Feld Carr, a Canadian mother and musicologist, was reading a newspaper when she was struck by an article about 12 SyrianJewish men who tried to escape into Turkey overland from Qamishli, in the north of the country. They stepped on a land mine and Syrian border guards watched them die.

She was so moved by the story that she decided to track down members of Syria’s Jewish community. She began cold-calling numbers in Syria until she eventually hit upon a contact. “I sent a telegram to the Rabbi in Damascus asking if he needed religious books and prepaid [for his response].” she explains. “Who would have ever believe, an answer came back with a shopping list! That was the beginning, the first opening since 1948.”

In the decades following the creation of the state of Israel, Syria’s Jewish community had become isolated, says Sarian Roffe, a historian of the Syrian Jewish community. “After Israel’s creation that was it. They shut the doors because they didn’t want people to go to Israel and fight against them,” she says. “So the doors to leave Syria were closed and there was increased persecution.”

There was also enforced segregation—Jewish residents of Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli were forced to live only in certain neighborhoods and initially had to seek permission to travel further than three kilometers from their homes.

Feld Carr’s relationship with the Damascus Rabbi started to develop into more frequent coded telegrams and secret messages written into religious books. Eventually, she says, some members of the community managed to leave the country and meet with her. To do so, they had to leave family members behind as ‘collateral’. “This one older couple came to meet me and told me what was happening in Syria.” she explains. “Then somebody went to Aleppo in the north and asked me, ‘Is there any way to get my brother out?’ And that’s how I started. It was crazy. I ransomed him. I started buying people!”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2014 at 8:32 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • io9 links to a map showing the Milky Way Galaxy’s location in nearer intergalactic space.
  • The Big Picture has pictures from the Sochi Paralympics.
  • blogTO shares an array of pictures from Toronto in the 1980s.
  • D-Brief notes the recent finding that star HR 5171A is one of the largest stars discovered, a massive yellow hypergiant visible to the naked eye despite being twenty thousand light-years away.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes recent studies suggesting that M-class red dwarfs are almost guaranteed to have planets.
  • Eastern Approaches argues that the lawsuits of Serbia and Croatia posed against each other on charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice will do little but cause harm.
  • Far Outliers explores how Australian colonists in the late 19th century feared German ambitions in New Guinea.
  • The Financial Times World blog suggests that, in its mendacity, Russia is behaving in Crimea much as the Soviet Union did in Lithuania in 1990.
  • Geocurrents notes that the Belarusian language seems to be nearing extinction, displaced by Russian in Belarus (and Polish to some extent, too).
  • Joe. My. God. notes the protests of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in New York City against mandatory conscription laws in Israel that would see their co-sectarians do service.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, in pre-Israeli Palestine, local Arabs wanted to be part of a greater Syria.</li?
  • Otto Pohl notes the connections of Crimean Tatars to a wider Turkic world and their fear that a Russian Crimea might see their persecution.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Venezuela has attacked Panama in retaliation for a vote against it by confiscating the assets of its companies there. In turn, Panama has promised to reveal the banking accounts of Venezuelan officials in Panama.
  • John Scalzi of Whatever is unimpressed with the cultic adoration of Robert Heinlein’s novels by some science fiction fans.

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • io9 shares wonderful illustrations of Titan’s methane showlines.
  • The Atlantic Cities notes that the coastline of Louisiana is receding so quickly mapmakers are hard-pressed to keep up.
  • BusinessWeek wonders how great cities, like New York City or Rome, reconcile change and tradition.
  • Christianity Today features a Philip Jenkins article noting that the origins and alliances of the Crimean crisis can be traced back at least as far as the Crimean War.
  • Ha’aretz notes that Israelis are moving to Tel Aviv, abandoning peripheral areas (with large Arab population) like Galilee and the Negev.
  • MacLean’s notes that condo construction is set to boom in Toronto.
  • Tablet Magazine notes that Crimea, immediately after the Second World War, was positioned as a potential homeland for Soviet Jews.
  • According to Time, changes in Canadian immigration law may be discouraging rich Chinese immigrants.
  • Universe Today notes that China’s Yutu moon rover can’t properly move its solar panels.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that, to cut costs for its Ariane 6 rocket, the European Space Agency is no longer going to try to source parts for the Ariane 6 across its member-states, insteading aiming for more efficient distribution of suppliers.
  • Geocurrents’ Asya Pereltsvaig wonders about the consequences Spain’s offer of citizenship to the descendants of Jews deported in 1492 might have. How many will take up Spain on the offer?
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen is not a locavore at all.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla wonders, with others, just what Mercury’s unique hollows are.
  • Strange Maps chronicles the “hippie trail”, a route popular with backpackers in the 1960s and 1970s that stretched from Europe through Turkey and Afghanistan towards Southeast Asia.
  • Towleroad notes the vicious homophobia of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little chronicles the not-entirely unreciprocated sympathy of Karl Marx for the liberator Abraham Lincoln.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that immigration is unlikely to increase the size of the American welfare state. (If anything, as European rhetoric suggests, it might decrease it.)

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

Today’s post is a big one.

  • Acts of Minor Treason’s Andrew Barton photographs a small-town Ontario vestige of the now-defunct Zellers retail chain.
  • Crooked Timber’s Ingrid Robeyns writes about the new kings of the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Will Baird at The Dragon’s Tales has a few links to interesting papers up: one describes circumstellar habitable zones for subsurface biospheres like those images on Mars; one argues that Earth-like planets orbiting small, dim red dwarfs might see their water slowly migrate to the night side; another suggests that on these same red dwarf-orbiting Earth-like worlds, the redder frequency of light will mean that ice will absorb rather than reflect radiation and so prevent runaway glaciation.
  • Eastern Approaches reflected on the Second World War-era massacres of Poles by Ukrainians in the Volyn region.
  • Geocurrents examined the boom in export agriculture in coastal Peru and the growing popularity of the xenophobic right in modern Europe for a variety of reasons.
  • GNXP argues that language is useful as a market of identity and that the term “Caucasian” as used to refer to human populations is meaningless.
  • Itching in Eestimaa’s Palun argues that, given Soviet-era relocations of population into the Baltic States, much emigration might just be a matter of the population falling to levels that local economies can support.
  • Language Log has a series of posts examining loan words to and from East Asian languages: Chinese loans in English (too few?), English loans in Japanese (too many?), Japanese loans in English (quite a lot).
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that not only is the United States not trying to prolong the Syrian civil war, but that the United States should not arm them for the States’ own good. (Agreed.)
  • Registan’s Matthew Kupfer approves of the selection of Dzhohar Tsarnaev’s photo on the front page of Rolling Stone as being useful in deconstructing myths that he, and terrorism, are foreign.
  • Savage Minds considers how classic Star Trek seems out of date for its faith in an attractive and liveable high modernity.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs examines the concept of the eruv, the fictive boundary used by Orthodox Jews to justify activity on the sabbath.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes writers who wonder if Central Asian states might continue to break up and suggest that Tatarstan might have been set for statehood in 1991 and should continue to prepare for future events.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell argues that human bias as expressed in opinion polls is, depressingly, not just a matter of easily-remedied ignorance.

[PHOTO] Yiddish and Yinglish in the window of John’s Italian Caffe, 29 Baldwin Street

I was walking with a friend late last month around Baldwin Street when I saw, in the window of John’s Italian Caffe at 27-29 Baldwin Street, this Hebrew script. I didn’t recognize what it was. I naturally uploaded the picture to Facebook and asked my friends.

Erin found a February 2013 post by Walking Woman that identified the language as a mixture of Yiddish and Yinglish, Anglicized Yiddish; David translated this as “Puter, kez, krim, eygs, frish jeden tag”, i.e. Butter, Cheese, Cream, Eggs, fresh every day.” (The “eygs” and “frish” are the Yinglish words.) The window’s lettering thus dates back a century to a time when this building was in the middle of Toronto’s first Jewish neighbourhood, kept by the current occupants of this building.

Yiddish and Yinglish in the window of John's Italian Caffe, 29 Baldwin Street

Written by Randy McDonald

June 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

[LINK] “A tale of two passports”

Efrat Neuman’s Haaretz article of the 15th of April describing how many Israelis who have ancestral claims to citizenship in one European Union member-state or another are trying to claims these citizenships, for reasons of personal advantage or security. Needless to say, it can be rather fraught, especially for Israelis whose ancestors–or who themselves–fled those member-states.

In the past few years, arranging a European passport has become a flourishing industry in Israel, with a plethora of websites explaining the rights one can expect to receive and explaining the factors that might facilitate the process. There are attorneys who specialize in the issuing of passports by different countries and check entitlement to naturalization, as well as translation and notary services.

The upsurge began about 10 years ago. Until then, most Israelis did not consider a Polish, Hungarian or Romanian passport to be of any value. These countries were not considered attractive targets for emigration, and their passport was no better than the Israeli one. But in 2004, 10 states were inducted into the European Union, mainly from Eastern Europe. The new member states included Poland, Hungary, Latvia and the Czech Republic. Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007. Ever since, a Romanian passport, for example, is no longer considered merely a Romanian passport: Now it is a European passport that opens the door to life on the Continent, facilitating free passage between countries, easy movement of workers in EU member states ‏(subject to some restrictions‏), free university studies ‏(in some countries‏) or low tuition fees, entry without a visa to the United States and most other countries, and also commercial advantages.

[. . .]

Not everyone wants to receive a foreign passport, even if they meet the requirements. Seven years ago, when Romania joined the EU, Michaela’s children tried to convince her to apply for Romanian citizenship so that they, too, would benefit from citizenship and a foreign passport that would grant them free access to EU states. But she refused. As a Holocaust survivor whose family was expelled from the village in Romania where she grew up, she wanted nothing to do with the place where she was born and raised.

Not long afterward, the children traveled with their mother on a “family roots” trip to Romania. Her daughter recounts that after seeing up close the places where she spent her childhood and hearing at length what happened there, they for the first time identified with Michaela’s refusal to turn the clock back.

Similarly, the 60-year-old father of Gabi vehemently refuses to accept a foreign passport. However, after Gabi pressed and begged − on the grounds that it was worth having an option if something bad ever happened in Israel − his father reluctantly began the process. He traveled to the village in Romania where he was born to obtain his birth certificate, inquired as to the cost of submitting the request − and then regretted the decision.

Interestingly, the reason he gave was his children: He did not want them to have any incentive to leave Israel. Gabi’s father claimed that his own mother, who survived the Holocaust, had not relinquished her life and citizenship in Romania so her descendants could later do the same vis-a-vis Israel. The family disagreement has been raging for 10 years, and Gabi is still trying to persuade her father to change his mind.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2013 at 3:56 am