jewish federation
Spain honours Ladino language of Jewish exiles
Royal academy sets up Judeo-Spanish branch dedicated to preserving language spoken by people expelled 500 years ago
By Sam Jones

Buen habér para la komunita!  

Agóra kon esfuerso i tiempo la muestra lingua volverá a renaser. I’m crying.

Isaac Querub, the president of Spain’s Federation of Jewish Communities, welcomed the move to recognise what he called the rich and profound cultural legacy of Ladino.

“It’s the language that mothers have used to rock their babies to sleep with for more than five centuries” he said. “It’s the language that’s been used to pass down recipes and the one that is spoken in the intimacy of home. Even after all these hundreds of years, it’s still being used”.

What was the relationship between Sephardim and Ashkenazim on the West Coast?

By Leora Singer, Former Research Intern

This is my second blog post in a series of three posts in which I discuss the theme of Sephardim in the West Coast in the 19th-20th century. You can see my first post here. In this post, I compare and contrast the relationship between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Seattle and San Francisco.


When Calvo and Policar (the first two Sephardim in Seattle) first encountered the Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews living in the city, they weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. These observant Jews didn’t believe that Policar and Calvo were “real Jews” because they spoke Greek instead of Yiddish (Adatto, 56), and their names didn’t “sound Jewish” (Angel, 553). Because they felt ostracized by the Jewish community, Calvo and Policar spent a lot of time with Greek non-Jews living in Seattle (Adatto, 58). Fortunately, the rabbi of Bikur Holim, an Orthodox synagogue, convinced the Orthodox Ashkenazim that the Sephardim were just as observant as they were. The Ashkenazim accepted Calvo and Policar as members of the Jewish people.

The Seattle Sephardic community kept growing as Calvo and Policar brought family members over, and these family members spread the word about the opportunities available in Seattle (Adatto, 60). In 1904, the first Rhodesli Sephardic immigrant came to Seattle (FitzMorris, 29). As the number of Sephardim in Seattle grew, their ties to the overall Jewish community of Seattle grew. Many Sephardim prayed at Bikur Holim. They felt somewhat connected to the Orthodox Ashkenazim because they, like the Sephardim, upheld high religious standards (Adatto, 116). However, the perception was that their cultures were just too different to mix together, so the Sephardim and Orthodox Ashkenazim remained fairly separate. For example, intermarriage between the two groups was highly rare (Adatto, 117).

Despite its rocky nature, the beginning of the relationship between Orthodox Sephardim and Orthodox Ashkenazim was still stronger than the beginning of the relationship between Sephardim and Reform Ashkenazim. The Sephardim distrusted the Reform Ashkenazim because they believed that the Reform Ashkenazim were not following enough of the Jewish traditions. Fortunately, Aubrey Levy from the Reform Temple de Hirsch helped to change this negative view of Reform Judaism by forming a friendship with the Sephardic Jews. As a lawyer, he helped Sephardim with legal work, free of charge. For example, in 1914, he assisted them with the legal logistics in the purchase of the (previously Ashkenazi-owned) Bikur Holim synagogue (Adatto, 118-119). Levy was highly regarded by the Sephardim. By association, his synagogue became highly regarded as well. In fact, many Sephardic children got their Jewish education at the Hebrew School of Temple de Hirsch. However, even after many years, there was still very little intermarriage. The Sephardim still did not feel like a part of Ashkenazi culture.

San Francisco:

There was a temporary Sephardic congregation in the early 1850s (Zerin, 30). The congregation was called Shaar Hashamayim. It was so temporary that it never even had a building because the congregation stopped meeting only a few months after its creation (Zerin, 47). This is likely because the construction of new buildings for two Ashkenazi-run synagogues, Temple Emanu-El and Temple Sherith- Israel, was underway. Since the Sephardim and Ashkenazim in San Francisco were united, (especially in comparison to these sects in other West Coast cities) the Sephardim didn’t want to divide it by having their own synagogue. Also, some members of the Sephardic congregation had been leaders in the other synagogues, because they were so prominent and respected by the Ashkenazim (Stern and Kramer, 47).

Sephardim from San Francisco are sometimes difficult to identify because intermarriage with Ashkenazim and even non-Jews was common (Stern and Kramer, 45). This practice showed a stark difference between the Jews of San Francisco and in other West Coast cities. In the other cities, intermarriage between pretty much anyone that was not a Jew from your home country was frowned upon.


Adatto, Albert. Sephardim and the Seattle Sephardic Community. Seattle: U of Washington, 1939. Print.

Angel, Marc D., Hasson, Aron, Kramer, William M., Maimon, Isaac, Samuels, Beth, Sidell, Loraine, Stern, Norton B. Sephardic Jews in the West Coast States : An Anthology. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Published for the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles by the Western States Jewish History Association, 1996. Print. Western States Jewish History ; v. 28, No. 1-3.

Stern, Stephen. The Sephardic Jewish Community of Los Angeles. New York: Arno, 1980. Print. Folklore of the World (New York).

Zerin, Edward. Jewish San Francisco. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2006. Print. Images of America

Jews in the United States, please call the offices of the Jewish Federations of North America in DC and ask them to issue a public statement condemning Trump’s executive order on refugees.

A denunciation of the executive order from the JFNA (created from a merger of the United Jewish Appeal and the Council of Jewish Federations in 1999) would be of great symbolic importance, a strong message to Trump and the world that American Jews stand with refugees and immigrants.

Between the hours of 9am and 5pm EST, the number to call is 202-785-5900. Politely explain the reason for your call, and when requested give them your name and the city you live in. Remind them that one of their top priorities as an organization is to assist refugees.

If you are unable to reach them during these hours, you can email William Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at and Stephan Kline, Associate Vice President for Public Policy at Tell them who you are, what city you are writing from, request that they issue a public statement condemning the executive order.

Be sure to let family and friends know to do the same.

Remember the St. Louis!

“This poster was created by participants in the Reform Movement’s Urban Mitzvah Corps program for the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, DC.

Submitted by Jordan Rodnizki
2012-2013 Programming Vice President”


Jewish-American Heritage Month

Today is the beginning of May, the Jewish American Heritage Month, and it’s also May Day, which in some countries is a celebration of workers and labor activism. In honor of these two days, I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite Jewish American women activists.

(L-R: Clara Lemlich, Rose Schneiderman, and Pauline Newman; bottom: The Uprising of 20,000, a strike organized by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which all three women were involved in)

Clara Lemlich (1886-1982) Lemlich was born in the Ukraine. As a child, she secretly ran errands and wrote letters for her neighbors in order to earn money for Russian books, against her parents’ wishes. She became a Socialist while in the Ukraine, and moved to the United States with her family following a 1903 pogram in Kishinev. In New York, she worked in the garment industry and was elected to the ILGWU executive board at the age of 22.

Lemlich was known for her bravery. Famously, in 1909 gangsters attacked picketers and broke three of her ribs. She remained on the picket line. Later that same year, when (male) leaders of the socialist movement spent most of a meeting speaking about general actions that should be taken, Lemlich was lifted onto the stage by her fellow female workers, where she pledged herself to the movement and rallied the crowd into immediately approving a motion to strike. This strike became the Uprising of the 20,000.

Because of her union activities, Lemlich was blacklisted from the garment industry. She worked for suffrage, although she frequently clashed with upper-class suffragettes and preferred to work with other working-class women. She married in 1913 and was a mother of three, and frequently organized housewives to her various causes. She worked for the Communist Party, the United Council of Working Class Women, the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs, the Unemployed Councils, and allied with Sojourners for Truth. Her final social campaign was waged from the Jewish Home for the Aged, in LA, where she persuaded the management of the Home to join the United Farm Workers’ boycott and assisted farmers in their organizing. She was then in her mid-eighties, and she died at the age of 96.

Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972) Schneiderman was born in Russian Poland, just north of the city of Chelm. Her parents sent her to cheder, against tradition, when she was a child. When she was eight years old her family immigrated to the United States, and she was forced to drop out of school at age thirteen in order to support her family. She was a capmaker, and she quickly became involved in the union movement.

Standing at 4 feet, 9 inches tall, with flaming red hair, Schneiderman was famous for her passionate speeches, which she delivered across the country, daily, on street corners and in lecture halls, in English as well as Yiddish. Two of her most famous speeches were her August 2, 1911 address in which, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, she lambasted middle and upper class feminists for failing to prioritize labor activism, and a 1912 speech in which she declared that “What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist–the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” This last line became a popular slogan and protest song.

Schneiderman was president of the Women’s Trade Union League, worked with the ILGUW, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and in 1920 launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate on the Labor Party ticket. She became close with the Roosevelts and helped to shape New Deal labor legislation, and in the 30s and 40s she also worked tirelessly in an attempt to bring Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States. Albert Einsteen wrote in praise of her, saying “It must be a source of deep gratification to you to be making so important a contribution to rescuing our persecuted fellow Jews from their calamitous peril…We have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity.”

Schneiderman was in a long-term relationship with fellow WTUL activist Maud Swartz for over twenty years, until Swartz’s death in 1937. Schneiderman herself continued to live in New York City her entire life, until her own death in 1972 at the age of 90.

Pauline Newman (1887-1986) Newman was born in Lithuania. As a child she persuaded her father, a teacher at a cheder, to sit in on her classes, which was the only way she could learn to read and write. She learned Hebrew and Yiddish. At the age of nine, following her father’s death, the family moved to New York and Newman began working in the factory. She worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where she became a socialist at the age of fifteen. She was twenty when she lead her first rent strike in 1908, and a year later she organized 40,000 in a labor strike, which at the time was the largest strike ever organized by American women.

Newman worked with the ILGWU, the WTUL, and the Factory Investigation Commission, and although she never lost her skill for street-level organizing, she was also a skilled lobbyist. She also became the director of the ILGWU’s Union Health Center, the first of its kind, and served in that position for sixty years. Like Schneiderman, she worked for women’s suffrage and with the Roosevelts concerning labor legislation.

Newman was famous for wearing her hair short and often wearing men’s clothes, unlike her more reserved colleagues. She met Frieda Miller, an instructor at Bryn Mawr, in 1918, and wrote a letter to Schneiderman expressing her admiration but ambivalence about whether she should pursue the relationships; Schneiderman, who confessed that she herself was often uncertain about her own romantic life, urged Newman to “grasp at the possibility of joy.” Newman and Miller lived together publicly from 1923 to Miller’s death in 1974. Newman herself passed away in 1986 at the age of 98.



  1. Official Ku Klux Klan banner
  2. Scenic popular tourist attraction of Stone Mountain, GA, 15 September 2007
  3. William J. Simmons, Founder of the Reborn KKK (aka, the meaner, more violent Second Klan), who “re-birthed” the hate group AT STONE MOUNTAIN, in 1915
  4. William J. Simmons lights a cross on Stone Mountain. It was Simmons who introduced cross-burning as a new staple of Klan rituals
  5. Atlanta Constitution article, 28 November 1915
  6. Fulton County physician and Grand Dragon, Dr. Samuel Green, at Stone Mountain, 1946
  7. KKK initiation, Stone Mountain, 1946. The Klan claimed that 600 white men joined on the night this photo was taken
  8. Close-up bas relief showing the three white supremacist confederate leaders who are honored at Stone Mountain: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis
  9. Stone Mountain Memorial commemorative half-dollar, from 1925, struck as a “Memorial To The Valor Of The Soldier Of The South”
  10. Reminder: it wasn’t until the KKK kidnapped and murdered three Civil Rights workers (two of them white, Jewish) that the federal government began to crack down on their murderous activities

The city of Stone Mountain, GA, roughly population 6,000, is 70% African American. Stone Mountain park is a very popular destination for exercise and scenic outings with Black people who live there. The main attraction is the laser light and sound show that is projected onto the mountains huge bas relief memorial to the heroes of the Confederacy.

Yes, they have added something about MLK, Jr. to the show, since he mentioned Stone Mountain in his most famous speech, and because… well, with 70% of the city being Black… it only made sense for them to give Klan Mountain a makeover. But just remember that the Daughters of the Confederacy and the rich Klansmen who founded Stone Mountain as the headquarters of the Second Klan, in 1915, NEVER INTENDED IN THEIR WILDEST DREAMS FOR BLACK PEOPLE TO FIND REST AND RELAXATION ANYWHERE IN THE US - LET ALONE ON KLAN MOUNTAIN.

Some Black folks I know claim thats why they like climbing the mountain; for both the exercise AND the irony. And believe me, I understand that if Black folk decided never to go anywhere that was once hallowed ground for crackers… we’d never be able to leave our homes.

In response to the destructive definition of a Jew now proclaimed by some Orthodox authorities, and in the name of the historic experience of the Jewish people, we, therefore, affirm that a Jew is a person of Jewish descent or any person who declares himself or herself to be a Jew and who identifies with the history, ethical values, culture, civilization, community, and fate of the Jewish people.
—  International Federation of Secular & Humanistic Judaism

MADISON, Wis. -More than two dozen Madison families woke up to vulgar language and ethnic and racial slurs spray-painted on their property Saturday.

At least 30 west side homes – including garage doors, driveways and vehicles - were vandalized overnight, according to Madison Police Officer David Dexheimer. The complaints came from areas west of Gammon Road, including Colony Drive, Millstone Road, Harvest Hill Road and others. The damage is estimated at well over $10,000.

“I think we’re talking about felony types of damage,” Dexheimer said.
While most of the damage included profane language and explicit drawings, several contained racially-based and anti-Semitic slurs and swastikas. Some of that property damage, located on Brule Circle, has neighbors in the community calling the incident a hate crime.

“Everyone in the neighborhood is pretty upset,” says Jim Stein, a neighbor who has lived on the street for 18 years.

Stein woke up Saturday morning to see “F— Jews” written on a garage door right across the street. Later in the day, once the snow cleared, a swastika was visible on the driveway.

"It was, of course, extremely disturbing to me,” said Stein, who is the president of the Jewish Federation of Madison. “This is anti-Semitic to the extent people feel comfortable equating Jewish people or the Jewish religion with sexual terms and sexual parts of people’s bodies.”

Madison officers say the case is not being considered a hate crime at this point.

“It just looks like it’s malicious damage,” Dexheimer said. “While some of the things painted were troubling, we don’t know that was specifically targeted to a particular victim.”

Jim Stein isn’t convinced. He says the vulgar language and swastika just across the street are too close for comfort.

“To me, that reeks of anti-Semitism, and that’s an important wake-up call for the city of Madison,” he says.

This happened within a mile or two of where I live. This is basically being treated as a blurb by local news and as you can see, local law enforcement (and several local news sources) are treating it like regular graffiti and that any racial components or antisemitism as just sort of there and sure, it’s ‘troubling’, but clearly not troubling enough to treat as a potential hate crime.Typical Madison.

I want to emphasize again how much I hate living in the Diaspora. I’m just thankful that it hadn’t happened in my neighborhood, especially since we have a mezuzah outside our door :/

rose-in-a-fisted-glove  asked:

I have a coworker that was either taught completely wrong or wasn't taught at all. I've been working there two years and she still can't comprehend the difference between religious and national holidays. Each year it comes as a shock that I celebrate Thanksgiving and 4th of July and so on but not Christmas and Easter. Somehow without fail she asks me If I'm going to church for Easter and asks why I celebrate a 'not Jewish' holiday each Federal holiday. It's not difficult to understand.

….oh my heavens. Mess with her- we don’t celebrate the Fourth of July. We don’t even recognise July as an institution. We have June and then Son of June.