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Friday, September 4, 2015

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The Yavneh student movement

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It was with great interest that I read Martin Lockshin’s review of Benny Kraut’s new book on the Yavneh student movement of the 1960s, The Greening of American Orthodox Judaism: Yavneh in the 1960s (“History of Orthodox student group captures the vibrancy of the 1960s,” May 17). It brought back vividly those days I spent on the Barnard-Columbia campus when Rabbi Yitz Greenberg collected a group of students to found the Yavneh organization. At the time, a program to ease the life of religiously observant Jews on campus was a major breakthrough, both spiritually and logistically.

However, there is one historical point that was missing. The students who gravitated to Yavneh came from New York homes that were often Orthodox but also what I choose to call old time Conservative, that is, shomer Shabbat and observant of kashrut. When it came time to choose the official name for the newborn organization, especially when letterheads had to be printed, there were some heated arguments. A group of us maintained that the term “Orthodox” would be too exclusive and we requested that a term like “religiously observant Jews” should replace it. Many of us were studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary and so described ourselves. A compromise was reached by naming Yavneh a “Jewish Religious Students Association.” I no longer have in my possession any of the early Yavneh mailings or publications, but I do know that the term Orthodox was not part of the official name of that wonderful student organization.

At the same time, I am well aware that times have changed and understand, for better or worse, why “Orthodox” is now the accepted designation.

Gita Segal Rotenberg

Toronto

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Anti-Israel boycotters

 

 I was astonished to read “Les combats pro-Israël d’Éric Duhaime” (April 26, http://bit.ly/KCmL1x). I find Duhaime’s commitment to Israel praiseworthy, but with respect to the anti-Israel boycotters on St. Denis in Montreal, he appears to be misinformed. The article quotes him as saying that the boycotters had suffered a resounding defeat, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

I am the owner of the Naot shoe store on St. Denis. My store has been the target of the anti-Israel boycotters for more than a year and a half. Every Saturday, many passersby avoid the area in front of the store when they see the large black banners and Palestinian flags. My business and those of my neighbours have been severely affected by this ongoing harassment, resulting in the loss of jobs.

One would do well to ask why Duhaime and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, whose members he quotes, appear to celebrate such a situation. In reality, it was precisely at the moment in June 2011, when the boycotters began to focus on my shop, that CIJA began claiming that “victory” had been achieved. To proclaim victory at the very moment when the boycotters began to unrelentingly harass a boutique that carries almost exclusively Israeli products seems to be a rather strange way to support Israel.

Fortunately, a large group of Quebecers, many of them non-Jews, provide my shop and the other affected businesses with strong and loyal support every week. These Amis Québécois d’Israël, as they call themselves, help by reducing the potential harm caused by the boycotters and they appeal to the public to buy in my shop and those of my neighbours. Their active presence prevents the boycotters from monopolizing the space in front of our stores.

Corinne Lissoos

Concord, Ont.

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The motorcycle rider

 

I am looking for a man whose last name may have been Greenberg and who would have been about 16 to 25 years old in 1930-32. He rode an Indian Chief Motorcycle, which was not too common around 1932, and may have been interested in the theatre or worked in the theatre, especially vaudeville shows. He likely lived in downtown Montreal. I am hoping that someone will read this and recall a grandparent who may fit this description. Maybe they knew someone who was Jewish and in the 1930s owned a motorcycle. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has any information.

Sue Diamond

Toronto

E-mail: storeybook82@sympatico.ca

 

 

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