Artwork the victim of Auschwitz Syndrome

gypsyDina Gottliebova Babbitt, who was sent to Auschwitz with her family and fiancé from Czechoslovakia, saved her life in Auschwitz painting for Megele and SS guards. The portraits she made of doomed gypsies were acquired by the Auschwitz Bikenau Museum and Memorial in the 190’s and 70’s and they want to keep them. The LATIMES today has a long and moving story about this elderly Jewish woman, who now lives in Northern California, has been trying for several decades to get them back. Her case has support from congress, community leaders, and even hundreds of cartoonists.

In September, about 450 cartoonists and artists from around the world petitioned the museum to make reproductions and give the originals to Babbitt. Signers include Art Spiegelman, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” graphic novels about his family’s Holocaust experience.

You see after she emigrated to America, she worked for Hanna Barbara as a cartoonist!
The artwork of a slave laborer belongs in Auschwitz says the museum, where else can the horror of the place be better illustrated

. Babbitt and others say, why not hang copies of the originals in the museum and send the originals to the painter.

Nothing can bring back the gypsies who were sent to the gas chambers, but returning the paintings will help heal the wounds and soul of this survivor. Hello, Your Honorable Polish Ambassador Reiter, do you get it?

Just in case you feel like voicing you opinion, here is the contact page from the Polish Embassy.



moshavI want to get closer to you, sings YEHUDAH SOLOMON on the latest MOSHAV release, Misplaced Master. After spinning the disk in our offices for the last week, we all want to get closer: to God, the album, and this wonderfully enchanting and luring melody. Always a fan of this band of master musicians, Moshav have created yet another album that delights the senses.

Each song has a distinct personality and flavor, some playful (Jockey full of Bourbon) and others serious (Cold Cry). There are some wonderful references to great song makers Elton John (Dream Again) and Peter Gabriel (When I’m gone).

There are trances and spirit, some popular tunage, and some clever production. Especially as the song Closer opens up to Yehudah’s Sephardic Chazzanut, which morphs into Subliminalistic hip-hop, only to end up in a wholly new place. Thanks guys for another musical odyssey that will keep me interested for many moons.

Thanksgiving Coffee’s Mirembe Kawomera

The first in a series of posts about Jews and coffee

Those who know me know I love coffee. One of my students from UCLA, Jonathan P. brought me a delicious bag of Ugandan coffee from the Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative and the Thanksgiving Coffee Company. TCC have high moral and ethical ambitions and Jewish roots. Not the kind of Jews that make the international scandal sheets for rigging contracts and bringing down powerful politicians that were on their payroll. But another kind of Jew, the tikkun-olam yid that is out there trying to run an ethical and ecologically sensitive company:

Founded in 1972 by Joan and Paul Katzeff, Thanksgiving Coffee has long been a pioneer in transforming the coffee business. Our philosophy blends business and politics; our goal is to be a force for change in support of social and economic justice, and environmental sustainability.

The light roast coffee deserves it’s name “delicious peace.” According to the website: Mirembe Kawomera (mir´em bay cow o mare´a) means “delicious peace” in the Ugandan language Luganda. It is the name of a Ugandan cooperative of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Real Jews of Kazakhstan

jews  in almatyWith Borat on the minds of most American Jews, a man who cringes at the sight of Jews, one might think that this Central Asian republic is Judenrien. Well, there are Jews in Kazakhstan. As it says on They have 35,000 Jews and two capitals. Sounds very Jewish.On a recent speaking tour, Rabbi Shevach Zlotopolsky of Almaty, Kazakhstan, principal of the Ohr Avner Jewish School, a traditional faith-based school and orphanage in Almaty with 200 Jewish children as enrolled students as well as another 20 orphans spoke to in Sharon, MA.

The organizers of the event in Sharon, a couple that had gone to Kazachstan to adobt, have now become unofficial ambassadors for the country’s small Jewish community.

Our main goals for this presentation and our ongoing efforts overall is raise money and awareness for the school and for the Jewish community in Kazakhstan. Part of this is to let people know even that there is a Jewish community in Kazakhstan,” said Marsha Schaffel at the presentation event.

And who else is going to go to such a far-flung place, and open up a Jewish school and orphanage? Well, what movement would go there… Hmmm.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library:

Today, between 12,000 and 30,000 Jews live in Kazakhstan. They are predominately Russian-speaking and identify with Russian culture. Approximately 2,000 are Bukharian and Tat (Caucasion Mountain Jews). Almaty is the main Jewish center of the country, with approximately 10,000. Smaller Jewish communities are spread out across this large country (four times the size of Texas) in places such as Karaganda, Chimkent, Astana, Semiplatinsk, Kokchetav, Dzhambul, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, Petropavlovsk and several villages.

The JDC, and the Jewish Agency have projects there too, and compete with Chabad. I guess that they have seperate websites too. Jew-baiting is an issue, no matter how much the the Government of Kazakhstan denies this in nice ads in the NY Times.

While the Cheif Rabbi of Kazahkstan said recently there is no anti-Semitism today, the JVL reports that not so long ago, Jews were targets:

While anti-Semitism is not a great threat, it is still prevalent in Kazakhstan. Jews are occasionally beaten and harassed because of their identity. In 1997, after Kazakh KGB agents arrested Leonid Solomin, an independent Jewish labor leader and his associates, the Kazakh newspapers published a slew of anti-Semitic charges warning against “Zionists” and “international Jewry.” One even called upon the people to kill Jews.

No matter what the propogandists say the following are real:

National Games: Kyz Kuu and Kakpar

Kyz Kuu (”Overtake the girl”) is the game where young boys and girls are participants. The girl on the horse does her best to gallop from the young man but as soon as the latter tries to overtake (approach) her she lashes him with a whip. If, up to a certain place, the young boy fails to overtake her she would “reward” him with whipping again. When the luckiest catch up with the girl, he snatches a headscarf out of her teeth. If he is successful he earns a kiss.

Kokpar (”Fighting for a goat’s carcass”) is the most popular Kazakh game. It takes its origin from an ancient tradition according to which, one who wants to get rid of evil, should sacrifice a goat. Up to 1,000 horsemen take part in the game. The game unfolds on an almost infinite steppe range. On the opposite ends of an immense field they arrange goals of teams – adversaries. It is into them that the symbolic carcass of the goat should be thrown, while the throw proper is preceded by a desperate flight between the teams to get hold of the carcass.

Wedding ceremony

In Kazakh traditions wedding lasts 40 days beginning with matchmaking. Either the fiancé sends matchmakers to his bride’s parents, or he abducts his fiancée. In the first case the matchmakers, who are the fiancé’s relatives, bring rich gifts to the bride’s parents and ask their consent to the marriage. This negotiation is called the kudaga tusu. If the bride’ parents agree, then they fix the kalym (ransom) for the bride and the wedding day. Sometimes it is the bride who has the right to choose to accept the offer. Instead of direct refusal, the girl would give man some difficult and almost unrealizable task. A legend tells about such a case. Abylai Khan fell in love with a beautiful girl from a poor family. But she already had her intended – an ordinary warrior. As to not hurt Abylai Khan’s feelings and bring his anger on her family, the girl requested Khan shoot an arrow beyond the mountain near a lake. The girl went to a rock in the middle of the lake to watch the competition. However hard Khan tried to shoot the arrow high in the sky, it would not rise beyond the mountain. Since then, the mountain is called Okzhetpes, which means “unachievable with an arrow”. The girl had decided that if Khan fulfilled her task, she would jump from the rocky island onto the stones protruding out of the water. That is why the lake is called Zhumbaktas, which means “a riddle-stone”.

Kumys is a sour milk beverage made of mare’s milk. In new warm mare’s milk add about 25% of sour-milk bacillus ferment and milk yeast, stir us continuously with a whisk 20 to 30 mins. Let stand 2-3 hours, then stir again. In a little while, pour the blend in bowl, cover tightly and let stand in a cool place.

Finally there comes the capital treat – besbarmak. First they cover a large round or oval dish with small round flat pieces of boiled paste followed by small bars of boiled horse-meat or mutton, then comes onion cut in rings and scalded with hot broth, all this strewn with a green mixture of fennel, parsley and kinza…

Picture from The Weekly Edition of
That is the Kazkh Emb USA.