Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Jew finds himself at a neo-Nazi forum

A Jew finds himself at a neo-Nazi forum

A letter from Eugene


It was a small announcement in the Dec. 11 calendar section of Eugene Weekly: “National Socialist Movement: An insider’s view of America’s radical right.” The venue was a meeting room in the student union of the University of Oregon campus, and the sponsor was Pacifica Forum, a free-speech group that meets weekly and is best known for its embrace of anti-Zionist speakers.

My somewhat naive assumption was that we’d be hearing from a former member of the NSM who had seen the error of his ways. That notion was quickly dispelled when speaker Jimmy Marr, dressed head to foot in full Scottish regalia, began reading a section from a book of Torah that detailed how the Jews became “the Chosen People.” His conclusion: “And what does that make the rest of us? Slaves to the Jews!”

Of the two dozen or so attendees, it soon became apparent that at least eight were NSM devotees scattered through the audience. The giveaway moment was when Marr, quiet-spoken until then, concluded his introduction by inviting everyone to join him in a “sieg heil” (hail victory). More than half a dozen arms were quickly raised to chests and thrust high—“Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil!”

A lone voice in the back called out, “I strongly object to this,” while the rest sat in stunned silence. Comprehension of the true nature of this forum was hindered by a sense of disbelief… “Is this a tasteless joke? Can this seriously be happening in 2009?”

The outward appearance of several NSM members was not encouraging. Marr, sporting a two-pronged beard, formal black jacket and tartan kilt, seemed attired for a meeting of Scottish Nationalists. One chap in front wore a Hitler haircut. Another fellow could have been a stand-in for Col. Klink on the old “Hogan’s Heroes” TV show, minus the monacle.

Normally, such posturing in our proudly eccentric Eugene would not elicit so much as a second glance, but beneath the costumed surface the message being conveyed was disturbing.

We were shown a half hour or so of video footage from a recent NSM demonstration against illegal immigration in Phoenix, Ariz. A couple dozen brown-shirted men marched along a downtown street, separated by a cordon of police from a group of anti-fascist protestors. At a staging area, various NSM speakers took turns spouting their doctrine and haranguing the opposition, calling them “scum,” among other epithets, which the protestors returned in kind.

One on-screen speaker after another screamed a litany of accusations against the Jewish population at large, blaming them for basically every world ill, including the illegal immigration of “inferior races”—go figure. At one point, the man at the mike pointed to an opposition figure and shrieked, “You are a Jew. A traitor Jew.”

The NSM’s style—no surprise here—was confrontational. Smugly aware that their venom-laced words, swastika-embellished American flags, and Nazi-era uniforms are designed to arouse animosity, they clearly thrive on the negative attention. This also serves to “justify” their self-view as victims. “We, the white race, are the vast minority now,” bemoaned Marr.

After the film came slides under the title, “NSM Fights Back.” These were photos of another rally at which police did not succeed in keeping the two sides apart. Men in neo-Nazi apparel were shown swinging fists into opponents’ faces. NSM audience members shared grins during this part of the presentation, clearly elated.

When Marr opened the meeting to questions, the first to speak was the man who’d protested at the earlier “sieg heils,” Billy Rojas, a former comparative religion teacher and founder of The Swastika Club of America, which traces the roots of that once positive symbol of luck back to its ancient Hindu origins. Rojas stated that his group is diametrically opposed to the NSM’s positions and to Nazism, which transformed the swastika into a symbol of malevolence.

Other questions were mild until one person challenged the NSM position of racial superiority by bringing in the science of genetics. Marr snapped back a quick one-liner and then applauded his own wit.

As for Marr’s charge regarding “the chosen people,” I myself had brought that up with Eugene Chabad Rabbi Asi Spiegel several years back, suggesting that it sounded a little arrogant.

Rabbi Spiegel, a friend and mentor on all things Jewish, shook his head. “That’s because the term is so misunderstood. Chosen? Chosen for what? It doesn’t mean higher, better or superior. It means chosen to keep the word of Torah, the law, the commandments, and to endure keeping faith in God no matter how persecuted, despised or ridiculed we become. This is not chosen like winning a lottery. This is chosen as an obligation and sometimes a burden we must carry on, no matter what.”

The NSM lecture or forum was filled with one fallacious insinuation after another. Unable to continue listening, I stood up. “Mr. Marr,” I said as civilly as I could, “I’m glad we live in a country where you’re free to express your views. I don’t think you’re a bad person, and I even understand some of the reasons you believe what you do, but everything—everything about what was presented here today—is just so wrong on every level. I cannot stand to remain another minute.”

Some will disagree with my characterization of Marr as not a bad person, but my words were an homage to Anne Frank’s, written in her diary while in hiding from Nazi persecution: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart.”

The problem comes when individuals gather in a collective that diminishes the better part of their humanity in favor of a group consciousness that exploits their fears and encourages their worst instincts. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and when that entity is devoted to malice toward others, their collective intent becomes sinister, pernicious and inevitably self-destructive. The members of NSM seem content to deliberately overlook how consistently fascism has been on the wrong side of history.

At what point, then, does free speech, an American right, cross over into hate speech designed to incite violence? Was the UO or even Pacifica Forum aware that this meeting would degenerate into “sieg heil” salutes? Could that have been predicted, and if so, would the UO still have legitimized the NSM by offering them this academic platform?

Outside the door, a half dozen campus security guards had gathered, but there were no protestors or opposition to be seen. Hardly anyone seemed to know of the event, or if they did, to think it worth attending. But ignoring evil—even a seemingly insignificant concentration of evil—will not make it go away.

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Group backs Oregon Israel Business Ties

Republican challenger Scott Bruun and Democratic 5th District incumbent Kurt Schrader will appear at public candidate forum on Oct. 18 at the Mittlelman Jewish Community Center.

The free event is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and the Oregon Area Jewish Committee.

Shrader is scheduled to appear from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m..

Bruun is scheduled to appear from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The MJCC is located at 6651 SW Capitol Hwy.

For more information, call Bob Horenstein at 503-245-6496 or visit jewish business and eCommerce world reviews

A reason to hope, if nothing else

A reason to hope, if nothing else


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Two days before the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barak Obama, Reuters reporter Wojciech Moskwa filed a story in which he explained that the five men who comprise the Peace Prize selection committee in Oslo were attempting to re-emphasize the prize’s “activist roots.”

Moskwa began his story thusly: “Wanted—a peace maker or rights activist engaged in a current conflict whose influence would benefit greatly from winning the Nobel Peace Prize.”

He quoted Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the International Peace Institute in Oslo. “It’s quite likely this committee will reward somebody who is engaged in current processes,” said Harpviken. “They want the prize to have an impact on things that are about to happen and want to affect events.”

That statement lent perspective to reminders by many on the morning of Oct. 9 when the prize was announced that Obama hadn’t achieved much yet that was tangible or measurable.

Blogs and media outlets everywhere were abuzz with the news and reactions hours before the president made his remarks about receiving the prize.

At 7:56 a.m. here in Portland on the day of the prize, an email arrived from David Bedein of the Israel Resource News Agency in Jerusalem. He said Israel “had reason to be concerned” about Obama receiving the prize.

Quoting Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Bedein wrote, “‘Someone who gets a peace prize should not force-feed Israel with his version of peace,’ going on to say that he hoped that the peace prize would not inspire the president to ‘dictate a peace accord to Israel.’”

Bedein noted that Norway, home to the Nobel Committee,” remains almost the only European nation to recognize, aid and abet the Hamas regime in Gaza, at a time when Norway sanctions boycotts of some Israel companies, and at a time when Norway openly funds movements in Israel that advocate the expulsion of Jewish communities from Judea, Samaria, the Golan and Jerusalem.”

Bedein added, “…for many Israelis, the Norwegian endorsement of peace initiatives of President Obama reads like a kiss of death for Israel.”

Bedein’s and Rivlin’s are not the only perspectives from Israel.

In a letter of congratulation to Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “Very few leaders if (any) at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such a profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope, with intellectual determination, and a feeling that there is a lord in heaven and believers on earth.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, speaking through negotiator Saeb Erakat, congratulated Obama.

A spokesman for the Hamas terrorist organization was less sanguine. Samir Abu Zuhri joined a worldwide chorus in calling the award premature and said Obama “did not do anything for the Palestinians except make promises (while) …at the same time, he is giving his absolute support for the (Israeli) occupation.”

The Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza was even more pointed. It “shows these prizes are political, not governed by the principles of credibility, values and morals,” said Khaled Al-Batsh in a Reuters report. “Why should Obama be given a peace prize while his country owns the largest nuclear arsenal on earth and his soldiers continue to shed innocent blood in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

When Obama spoke to reporters to acknowledge the prize, he found common ground with many observers who questioned the award. “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize,” said the president.

In this country Republicans agreed with that assessment.

Michael Gerson, who was a speech writer for President George W. Bush, dismissed the award saying that the Nobel Committee “decided to give a ribbon before the race, a trophy for aspiration, a gold star for admirable sentiments.”

On the day of the announcement, Democrats were much less vocal and much of what they did say targeted the Republicans.

Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse told The Washington Post, “The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists—the Taliban and Hamas—this morning in criticizing the president for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.”

The New York Times was out the gate early with a blog summarizing initial world response to the prize. They grouped the responses into four categories: “Couldn’t Have Been a Better Choice,” “That’s Great, But…,” “Deeper Skepticism” and “Absolutely Wrong.”

Times blogger Sharon Otterman kept things in balance by offering approximately equal numbers of perspectives in each category.

By 10:30 on the morning of the award there were about 500 comments posted on the blog and, while there were many that praised the Nobel Committee’s decision, a clear majority at that time questioned the wisdom of the choice.

“Ed of Connecticut” was typical of blog posters who questioned or opposed the choice. “An embarrassment. What on earth where they thinking? This strikes me as nothing more than post hoc Bush bashing.”

Many thought the choice so early in Obama’s administration diminished the prize, while others feared that the prize raised expectations for Obama to unrealistic levels in a difficult world and that however much he may eventually achieve, it will never measure up to the elevated expectations implicit in the prize.

Alfred Nobel stipulated that the prize should be awarded—in the words of his will—“to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

While Obama is short on success as a peace maker yet, I agree with President Peres that Obama’s young presidency has had a significant impact on the world and his leadership appears, at least to many, to offer hope for a better tomorrow.

Finland’s ex-president Maarti Ahtisaari  won the Peace Prize last year. He tied Obama’s award to Middle East peace.

“I think now when President Obama has made it clear that he looks for a solution on a two-state basis during his first two years in office, I think this has to be seen as an encouragement,” said Ahtisaari—a positive if not glowing assertion.

In awarding Ahtisaari the prize last year the Nobel Committee cited “his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts. These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to ‘fraternity between nations’ in Alfred Nobel’s spirit.”

If a man of Ahtisaari’s achievements (Google this guy if you want to feel small and ineffectual) approves of Obama receiving the prize, who am I or we to disagree?

There is, however, a significant difference between Ahtisaari’s 30 years of work on behalf of all humanity and Obama’s nine months in office.

Perhaps, in its rekindled “activist” role, the Nobel Committee made its choice in the same hope that Shimon Peres cited in his letter of congratulation.

Now, we and Israel are left to hope that future history will confirm—in the interest of peace—the wisdom of the Nobel Committee, Mr. Obama and those with whom we seek to come to terms.

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Adopt a family this holiday season

Adopt a family this holiday season


article created on: 2010-12-15T00:00:00

Faced with requests for help which far surpassed the emergency aid funds they had to give out, in 2009 JFCS launched the Adopt-A-Family program to try to provide some holiday happiness for families in our community struggling to survive.

Thanks to community generosity, last year 138 individuals, couples and families were able to be receive all or part of their Adopt-a-Family holiday gift requests.

This year, JFCS is again faced with the same, extreme levels of need. And so, JFCS and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center have merged the Mitzvah Menorah and the Adopt-a-Family programs, and are joining forces to ask the community for help.

You can “adopt” a low income senior, an individual struggling with illness or disability, or a family in need this Hanukah. For a description of the first 18 families who need help, see the list below.

There are many ways to help.
Adopt a Family

Contact Maria at JFCS 503-226-7079 ext. 128 to let her know which family you would like to adopt and discuss what you could do to help meet some of their most critical needs.
Shop for a Wished-For Gift

Choose a gift (or gifts) you would like to purchase from a family’s story.  Contact Maria at JFCS 503-226-7079 ext. 128 to let her know which gift you want to buy and make sure no one else is already purchasing it. Then, buy the gift and drop it off at JFCS, 1130 SW Morrison, Suite 316, attn: Chana, so JFCS can deliver it to the family. Please do NOT drop off gifts at the MJCC.
Send a Donation and JFCS will Shop for You

Choose a gift (or gifts) you would like to purchase from a family’s gift wish list.  Contact Maria at 503-226-7079 ext. 128 to let her know which gift(s) you would like to give. Then, send a donation to cover the cost of the gift(s) to Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gifts, Attn: Chana, JFCS, 1130 SW Morrison, Suite 316, Portland, 97205. JFCS will buy the gift(s) and deliver it to the family.
Pick Up a Gift Card and Pop It in the Mail

All of the families on this holiday list—as well as all those who come to JFCS year-round for help—would greatly benefit from a gift card from a one-stop department store like Fred Meyer or Target. So an easy way to help is to pick up one the next time you’re at the store and mail it to Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gifts, Attn: Chana, JFCS, 1130 SW Morrison, Suite 316, Portland, 97205.
Volunteer to Shop for or Deliver Gifts

Have time to shop for and/or deliver gifts paid for by others? To offer your shopping or delivery services, contact Brian at 503-226-7079 ext. 158 or email with your contact info and availability.

“Working together, we can make the upcoming holidays brighter with compassion and hope,” said Chana Andler, JFCS director of marketing and development.

First 18 Individuals & Families Who Need Help

Family No. 1: Recently homeless, this family of Mom, her sister, and 11-year-old daughter are now are sharing a small apartment, but desperately need kitchen equipment–knives, pots, skillets, spatulas, spoons, casserole dishes—in order to be able to cook. Also wished for are gift certificates to Everything Jewish on Capitol Hwy., a blender, a mezuzah, a “Littlest Pet Shop” for the daughter and a Powell’s gift certificate for books.

Individual No. 2: This young Jewish woman has numerous medical problems that she manages with courage and grace. One thing she can still do is cook kosher, which she loves to do. Her Hanukah wishes are for a crock pot, a zester, a garlic press and a Target gift certificate to get new socks and underwear.

Individual No. 3: This Holocaust Survivor continues to work on an on-call basis to try to make ends meet. But what really keeps her going is her art. So she is hoping for art supplies: water color and acrylic paints, brushes, pads of watercolor and acrylics paper, and/or gift certificates for art supplies.

Individual No. 4: This single Jewish 70-year-old senior lives on SSI, but even on his very limited income, still scrimps to send money back to his relatives in Russia. He is hoping for a juice maker, an electric teapot or a blender or food processor.

Couple No. 5: Senior Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, they recently lost all their belongings in a fire. They are hoping for an electric teapot and a microwave, a warm winter coat (size 1X or XL) for her and a winter jacket (size M) for him.

Couple No. 6: This senior Jewish couple lost their belongings in the same fire that affected Couple No. 5. So, they too are starting over from scratch. He would like a winter jacket (size L) and a queen-sized blanket. She would like a cotton robe (size L or XL), slippers (size 7.5-8) and a winter jacket (petite size 16-18).

Individual No. 7: This low-income Jewish senior is wheelchair-bound and a cancer survivor, but keeps on going. She would like a toaster, a Britta pitcher and water filter, a vacuum cleaner she can operate from her chair, and a gift card to Fred Meyer or Target for some winter clothes.

Individual No. 8: Seriously injured in a car accident, this Jewish 40-year-old squeaks by on disability, but has nothing left for anything extra. He hopes for some shirts (size XL), a gift certificate to Fred Meyer to get socks and shoes, and some cat toys and treats for his beloved cat.

Individual No. 9: After a year of unemployment this young Jewish woman finally found a half-time job. But it’s still a struggle to make ends meet. For Hanukah, she hopes to get a floor lamp, a toaster oven, a winter coat (size XS or S), or a gift card to buy some boots.

Family No. 10: Although Dad has finally found a job, Mom’s prolonged illness has resulted in extensive medical bills and their house is in pre-foreclosure. What they would like for Hanukah is help with her medical bills, gift cards for winter clothes, and socks, puzzles and Jewish books for their boys (ages 3 and 5).

Individual No. 11: This former teacher is legally blind, but still wants to read and learn. What she would like for Hanukah is contributions toward getting a “book sense” device (cost $499) and the e-books that go with it.

Family No. 12: Both parents in this Jewish family are dealing with serious health issues, so it’s been a tough year for their their children (ages 10, 8 and 5). What they would most like for Hanukah is books, art supplies (paint, clay, sketchbooks), science kits, stuffed animals and a telescope for the kids.

Family No. 13: This single parent family—with four kids (ages 18-5) and grandma all in residence—has had a terrible year, including layoffs and the loss of the grandfather. What they would like for Hanukah is Target or Walmart gift cards for clothes, winter coats, music and some DVDs.

Individual NO. 14: Unemployed and with no family to help him, this early 60s Jewish man is also struggling with serious chronic back pain. So what he desperately wants for Hanukah is help paying his utilities and phone bill, which he is behind on.

Family No. 15: This Jewish family with two children (ages 16 and 4) is struggling to make ends meet. Despite the fact that Dad works full-time at a low wage job, they barely get by and have nothing extra for holiday gifts. They would love to have some Target or Fred Meyer gift cards to buy clothes, socks and underwear for the kids.

Family No. 16: This Jewish single mother is hoping for a jackets and bookstore gift cards for her 8 year old son (size 12) and 12-year old daughter (size 14), as well as a Target or Fred Meyer gift card to buy them winter boots.

Family No. 17: Unable to find steady work, this Jewish family has moved around a lot and has only recently been able to get stable housing. Their Hanukah wish is for help to pay the rent and gift cards to Target or Fred Meyer to buy clothes for their 5-year-old, since nothing fits her any longer with the check jewish world review 

Individual No. 18: Over 10 years with severe chronic debilitating disease would take its toll on almost everyone. But despite this ongoing hardship, this Jewish woman keeps her spirits up by creating art. What she would like for Hanukah is a gift card to Michaels, a ukulele (new or used), some cookie sheets and, if possible, a George Foreman grill.








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Adults invited to fun night out

Adults invited to fun night out


article created on: 2010-12-15T00:00:00

Four Broads Entertainment presents Portland’s First Annual adults-only Hanukah Bash, featuring New York City’s critically acclaimed live musical act, “Good for the Jews.” The evening’s festivities begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, at The Blue Monk, Portland’s premier eastside jazz club.

Good for the Jews, a nationally renowned duo who sing about all aspects of modern Jewish life, have appeared on “The Today Show” and National Public Radio, and have played in rock clubs and synagogues across the U.S. They have an especially strong appeal with young Jews, though their following extends to anyone with an unorthodox sense of humor.

After the Good for the Jews’ performance, a live D.J. will cap-off the night by providing the soundtrack for dancing and additional fun and entertainment with the latest jewish review

Organizers hope attendees will support Jewish Family and Child Service of Portland’s Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gift Program by bringing a $10-$30 gift card to Fred Meyer, Target or any other Portland-area store, to help brighten the holidays for those in need.

Four Broads Entertainment consists of four Jewish women in the Portland community (Edie Rogoway Van Ness, Janet Unitan, Marisa Brown and Deborah Reynolds) who want to create a fun, casual evening for Jewish couples and singles in the community to socialize, meet new people and have fun.

“We are all such busy people and many of us rarely get the opportunity to just ‘hang out’ without the constraints of toddlers pulling at our pants, etc.,” said Van Ness. “We titled the event First Annual with the hope that it will be a big success and that people will want more of these social events in the future.”

Brown was contacted by Rob Tannenbaum of Good For the Jews about doing a show in Portland since the duo had planned to be on the West Coast in early December.

“I happen to know Rob and saw the band when they were here a few years back,” said Van Ness. “Marisa and I started talking an instantly knew that we should try to put something together.”

The event is open to all adults and organizers encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to attend. But the Four Broads said that they believe there is a lack of purely social events for the 30s and 40s crowd.

“Most events like this are geared towards 20somethings or singles and those of us a bit older, who love to socialize and dance, don’t get a lot of opportunities to do so with our friends in the community,” added Van Ness.

Good for the Jews were named one of “New York’s Best Emerging Jewish Artists” by the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Samples of the duo’s music can be heard at or at

Tickets for the event are $10 at the door: The Blue Monk, 3341 SE Belmont, 503-595-0575. For more information about the party, contact Van Ness at 503-750-3480.








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