MEYER: Rita Ann Meyer, age 79, beloved sister, aunt, great aunt, and friend, passed away on May 20, 2013 in Youngstown, Ohio after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer for over a year and a half. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1933, the daughter of Rubin and Ida Manes Meyer. She graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1951 and attended Penn State University. She then moved to New York City and lived there for over 40 years. She worked in the advertising and publishing fields for most of her career. More recently, until she became ill, she worked as a volunteer in a private day care. She found taking care of young children to be her most rewarding job. Rita is survived by her loving sister, Norma Meyer Malkoff and her brother-in-law, Dr. Abe Malkoff of Youngstown; her nephew, Daniel Malkoff of Columbus and his loving wife Tamara Malkoff; her loving niece Susan Malkoff Schwartz of Pittsburgh and her husband Aaron Schwartz; and her beloved great-nieces and nephews, Sarah and Jason Malkoff of Columbus and Jessica and Benjamin Schwartz of Pittsburgh. A memorial service will be held in the chapel of Heritage Manor on Friday, May 24 at 1:00 pm. Internment will follow at Beth Shalom Cemetary, Pittsburgh, where she will be laid to rest next to her parents. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Shriver Allison Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home. The family is grateful to Heritage Manor’s Nursing 2 and MVI Hospice for taking such wonderful care of Rita in her last days, and to Levy Gardens for the support given to her family. Contributions may be made to Heritage Manor, 517 Gypsy Lane, Youngstown, Ohio 44504.
Rita Ann Meyer
Kollel to showcase musicians at May 20 benefit concert | 9 days ago The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
88 keys to success | 6 days ago by Andrew Goldstein, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Sightless sisters make a lifetime of music | 6 days ago by Andrew Goldstein, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Martin C. (Marty) Girson | 6 days ago The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Chabad to stage May 29 women’s concert at CMU | 6 days ago by Toby Tabachnick, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Czech diplomat touts culture as way to resolve Jewish-Arab split
by Lee Chottiner, Executive Editor The Jewish Chronicle
Specifically, he organized a model Euro Cup competition for Arab and Jewish school children.
“I invited Arab and Jewish children to one soccer field … and we divided them into soccer teams according to European countries,” Rehak said, “and we gave them T-shirts of the countries [they played for], and we mixed them together … Jew and Arab played on the same team.”
So how did it work out?
“They were a little bit confused,” he recalled, “but when the game started, they started to cooperate and play, and they played very well. In a few minutes it was not important if you were from the Arab or Jewish religion, but it was important if you passed the ball and kicked the goal.”
That, according to the 39-year-old teacher, scholar and now diplomat, is an example of what cultural diplomacy can do to resolve the differences among nations, even nations whose differences seem insurmountable.
“I think such experiences are something that will remain with them for the rest of their lives,” said Rehak, who for the past year has been cultural attaché to the Czech Embassy in Washington.
“I was cultural attache in Israel [from 2005-2009) and I’m now cultural attache here in the United States and I see that culture is actually something that opens the door for the people,” Rehak said. “If you tried to convince somebody in a political meeting that he should change, he wouldn’t probably change. If you do a very nice cultural [event] together with somebody as a joint project — concert, music, exhibition, theater — the people are getting close together; they get to know each other and it’s a connection with people that’s growing for years afterward. I see cultural diplomacy actually as something that should be stressed much more.”
Sadly, he doesn’t think there’s enough cultural diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians today.
“In Israel, I feel there is not enough programs that would try to make the situation better in one or two generations from now. They are just trying to solve the problems, which are now, like how we stop the terrorists from attacking, but there is no long-term vision.”
Rehak came to Pittsburgh Sunday as a guest of Classrooms Without Borders (CWB). He spoke at the Ellis School in Shadyside about the nearly 1,000-year-old relationship between Czechs and Jews.
Fifty-seven people people, including the honorary consul of the Czech Republic in Pittsburgh, teachers and students slated to take CWB trips this year to Berlin and Prague and community residents — Czech and Jewish — were on hand.
• • •
According to Rehak, the earliest mention of Jews in the land that would become the Czech Republic was actually made by a Jew.
In 970, Ibrahim Ibn Yaqub, a merchant traveling with a mission from the King of Spain, reached the country, and he kept a diary of his experiences.
In fact, Ibn Yaqub made the first written mention of the city of Prague, writing in Arabic.
“He wrote, ‘it’s a city built from stone with many nations,’ ” Rehak said.
While anti-Semitism exists in the Czech Republic, Rehak said, it was never as overt as in other central or eastern European countries.
Quite to the contrary, according to Rehak, a scholar, fluent in Hebrew, who has made a study of the history of Czech-Jewish relations.
“From the oldest middle age up to today, there is a very unique relationship between Czechs and Jews, and I think this very special relationship started with one Czech king, Ottokar II of Bohemia (1233-1278), who proclaimed Jews as his own property. Would you like to be the property of the king, likes fields and rivers and trees?
“But there is one great advantage: You’re protected by the king,” he continued. “No one can touch the property of the king, so the Jews became the king’s property and the law says if someone harms a Jew he would be punished.”
The king’s protection even extended to synagogues and cemeteries and shielded Jews from blood libel.
“This is why the Jewish community in Prague started to grow,” he said of the status Jews had.
One physical reminder of that growth is the Altneu (Old New) Synagogue in Prague, a gothic house of worship, which was built around 1270 and still used today, both for prayer and as a Czech historic landmark.
The Altneu Synagogue was the seat of Rabbi Judah Loew Ben Bezalel, one of the most widely known Jewish scholars in Europe (a statue of him stands at Prague’s town hall), who according to legend, created the Golem, the artificial man designed to protect the Jews of the city.
According to Rehak, the Golem legend is considered as much a part of Czech history as Jewish history.
“The legend about the Golem, every child in the Czech Republic knows; everybody knows,” he said.
Pittsburgh played a key role in the birth of Czechoslovakia following World War I. The “Pittsburgh Agreement,” which was signed here on May 31, 1918, by 29 Czechs and Slovaks (including Tomáš G. Masaryk, the first president of the republic), declared the intent of the representatives to create an independent “Czecho-Slovakia,” according to the document, and is often compared to the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Masaryk also included Jews in his first governing cabinet, Rehak said.
Following World War II, Rehak said Czechoslovakia was one of 33 countries that voted for the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan and was the only country to supply large numbers of weapons and airplanes to the fledging State of Israel during the country’s 1948 war for independence. Czechs even trained Israeli pilots inside their own country.
In fact, Rehak together with Petr Gandalovic, Czech ambassador to the United States, opened an exhibition in Philadelphia Monday dedicated to military assistance Czechoslovakia gave to Israel in its early days.
“According Ben Gurion, the first president of Israel, without those weapons and airplanes there would be no chance to win the war,” Rehak said. “It would be great to show the exhibition in such a nice, hospitable and, in Czech and American history, important city as Pittsburgh.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Mining Jewish culture | 27 days ago by Sarah Angrist, Guest Columnist The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
As Mother’s Day approaches, is the Jewish Mother fading from scene? | 15 days ago by Toby Tabachnick, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Evolving icon | 15 days ago The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Metro Briefs May 16 | 6 days ago The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
UJA-Fed’s top exec bucked trends in his tenure | 21 days ago by Gary Rosenblatt The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
For peace, the question really is ‘if not now, when?’
by Alan Elsner, Guest Columnist The Jewish Chronicle
This maxim on the urgency of now is particularly relevant to today's efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to launch a renewed effort to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And yet we hear voices both in Israel and here in the United States saying that now is not the time to try to make peace.
The region is in turmoil, they say. Syria is in the grip of a bloody sectarian war. Egypt is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood and is in an economic meltdown. Jordan has been destabilized by an influx of Syrian refugees. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is trying to acquire more deadly weapons from its Syrian and Iranian allies. And we remain gravely concerned about the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, in Israel, life is pretty good as long as rockets are not falling. In Tel Aviv, the party never stops. In Jerusalem, politicians have enough domestic crises to keep themselves busy. The economy has its problems, but it grew faster than almost every other major industrialized country in the past year.
Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev brilliantly captured the zeitgeist in his recent article, “Of course Israelis want peace, but now's not a good time. Can you come back later?”
In a tone of bitter sarcasm, he wrote, “Israelis speak of peace. They dream of peace. They yearn for peace. ... But let’s not be impatient. Everything comes to he who waits. For almost 2,000 years, Jews prayed ‘Next Year in Jerusalem,’ and in the end — God delivered. (Only after the worst catastrophe in the history of the Jewish people, perhaps, but still.)”
Of course, there is never a perfect time to make peace. And there is never a perfect partner. One makes peace with one’s enemies, not one’s friends.
But the arguments of the detractors that regional instability should deter Israel seem particularly lacking in validity. Making peace with the Palestinians would actually inject an element of stability into the region. It would bolster moderates and weaken extremists. It would be very helpful for Jordan and very unhelpful for Iran.
It goes without saying that any peace deal would have to be approved by the Israeli people and could not be foisted on them against their will. Although there has been a consistent majority for many years in Israel in favor of a two-state solution, Israelis are going to want to examine the security provisions of such an agreement very carefully and would need to be persuaded that their safety would not be compromised. But if those conditions could be fulfilled, why not now?
Kerry seems to be making progress. He has already held multiple meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is the point person for the negotiations. He’ll be going back to the region again next week for another round.
There’s a sense that things may be moving again, reflected in the premature debate that has suddenly erupted in Israel over whether a peace deal should be ratified by a referendum or whether parliamentary approval will suffice. Kerry is probing and nudging, all below the surface, but everyone knows this phase cannot last much longer.
“We are working through a threshold of questions with a seriousness and purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while,” Kerry said after meeting Livni in Rome last week. “And we all believe that we’re working with a short time span. We understand an imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can.”
As Kerry pursues his mission, the voices of those who oppose any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, both in Israel and here in the United States, will grow stronger. We heard them recently when Alan Dershowitz was roundly booed at a policy conference organized by The Jerusalem Post when he proposed an idea for restarting peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
As Dershowitz wrote on Huffington Post, “The right-wing Jewish extremists who boo everyone who wants to make compromises for peace are every bit as dangerous as Jewish extremists on the hard left who also demand a one state solution — a bi-national state that will cease being the homeland of the Jewish people. Both are unwilling to compromise their ideological claims. Both make peace more difficult to achieve. Both boo and jeer any effort to offer compromise in the interest of peace.”
What happened to Dershowitz is just a foretaste of what we can expect if there really is a chance for peace. We know opponents of any deal will mobilize and seek to shout down their adversaries. I’m willing to allow them to outdo me in rudeness and boorishness, in fearmongering and intolerance. But I’m not willing to allow them to outdo me in energy and passion.
It’s going to be up to those of us who want to see an agreement to match them in desire, to out-organize and out-mobilize them and to demonstrate that we are the vast majority both here and in Israel.
(Alan Elsner is vice president of communications for J Street.)
Running rav finishes Pittsburgh Half-Marathon for charity | 14 days ago by Hilary Daninhirsch, Chronicle Correspondent The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Jewish education for teens to mark 60 years here | 22 days ago by Toby Tabachnick, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Temple Sinai celebrates 25 years with Rabbi Gibson | 29 days ago by Toby Tabachnick, Staff Writer The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Rauh program recounts in personal detail bygone Jewish business center | 29 days ago by Matthew Wein, Chronicle Correspondent The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Life on ‘The Avenue’ | 29 days ago by Matthew Wein, Chronicle Correspondent The Jewish Chronicle Copyright 2013 The Jewish Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Art education without ethics does students a disservice
by Ben Schachter, Guest Columnist The Jewish Chronicle
During the Antigravity Parade at Carnegie Mellon University this year, a student participated wearing a pontifical shaped crown and barely anything else. She was naked from the waist down.
Bishop Zubik told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, “This is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race, the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality.”
CMU President Jared Cohon agreed. In an open letter he reiterated the campus free speech policy: “The only limits on these freedoms are those dictated by law and those necessary to protect the rights of other members of the University community and to ensure the normal functioning of the University.”
Public nudity is against the law. Ms. O’Connor, the half-dressed pope, has been charged. But this case is important beyond freedom of expression and misdemeanor charges. It directly shows how college level art education often neglects basic ethical behavior in favor of sensationalism.
Further reporting found that O’Connor had “initially submitted a proposal for a humorous approach for her performance, but was encouraged to ‘develop a concept with a political edge,’ although court documents do not say by whom.”
There are two ethical problems with this case. The first is shame. Jewish law states that he who shames another person is responsible for paying damages. Can the bishop be understood to have felt shame? If so, the student may be
But more broadly, artists are often trained to “challenge the viewer.” Make it edgier. Upset someone. This is nothing new with respect to the avant-garde. Nor is it new that some artists and professors feel that a work has to disturb to be valuable.
But what of the students? They are advised to provoke but are not taught what might happen if they successfully raise the ire of the public. This puts them in harm’s way, something no professor should actively or passively promote. And this is the second ethical problem — nezikin (damages).
One category of damages involves unintentional injury. An example is that of a ladder with faulty rungs. If it was known to have faulty rungs, the owner of the ladder is liable for injuries acquired by the user. If an art professor encourages a student to make work that is clearly against the law, is he (or she) also liable for damages?
Art education has unfortunately focused heavily on political and social commentary to the expense of other media. Art programs include classes on drawing, painting and other materials. Then students are quickly shuttled off to higher-level seminars that encourage political edginess and social practice. But many programs do not recognize the benefits of sustained effort in one material.
Take drawing for example. Once basic proficiency is reached, other skills develop slowly such as objectivity and sharpened visual acuity. I am not arguing that every art program follow a traditional model similar to the French Academy in which students go from copying plaster casts of Greek statuary to drawing from a live model. However, sustained engagement with materials and their properties can teach skills far more versatile than ridicule.
Recently, it has been noted that education should focus on resilience and other character traits. The art education that I support begins with hours and hours of looking to develop hand-eye coordination. Ultimately, it also develops character. Not through long critique sessions that break a student down and then build him up, but through sustained effort. Looking at a subject for hours at a time, over several days leads to qualities that our hyper driven interactive world negates: perseverance, attentiveness and patience.
Even more important, these skills can serve other disciplines and occupations. Everyone must persevere in his or her chosen career. Attention and patience are critical for thoughtful problem solving. Social problems, academic disciplines and, I would say, most employers would benefit from having people like that. College is a time when skills, vision and character are built. Irony and satire are among the tools contemporary art uses, but easy derision and cynicism all too often take the place of thoughtful critique.
At Saint Vincent College’s Commencement this year, Cardinal Donold Wuerl said, “Science without ethics, art without spirituality, technology without human moral values, materiality without transcendence; they are all branches in search of a vine. All the branches have to be connected to the vine of truth, to the wisdom, the human experience of God’s word.” Wuerl spoke of the Catholic tradition. We too have our own traditions. Connecting that tradition, including legal thought such as nezikin to the arts is part of the challenge for today’s professors.
(Ben Schachter is a professor of visual arts at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.)