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Synagogue's Memorial Day ceremony attracts diverse vets, raises questions

Jewish soldiers buried at the
American 
Cemetery in
Normandy, 
France
How many Jews gave their lives defending our diaspora nations? Should America's Memorial Day apply to volunteers for Israel? To civilian casualties of terror?

In Simon Wolf's 1895, "The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen," out of a Revolutionary War era population of 3,000 Jews in the colonies, 46 fought in George Washington's army.  The first Jew ever elected to public office in the colonies, Francis Salvador, became the first Jew killed fighting for America's independence from the British.

Since then, Jewish-North Americans (including Canadians) numbering approximately 1.5 million Jews fought in the regular Allied armies,  according to Yad Vashem 

In many cases, the percentage of Jews fighting was greater than the percentage of Jews in the population.

About 500,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the Red Army during World War II. Some 120,000 were killed in combat and in the line of duty (4.6% of the Jewish population); the Germans murdered 80,000 as prisoners of war. More than 160,000, at all levels of command, earned citations, with over 150 designated “Heroes of the Soviet Union”— the highest honor awarded to soldiers in the Red Army.

Approximately 550,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the US Armed Forces during World War II. They served on all fronts in Europe and in the Pacific. Some 10,000 were killed in combat, and more than 36,000 received citations. Many Jewish soldiers took part in liberating the camps.

Approximately 100,000 Jews fought in the Polish army against the German invasion. They made up 10% of the Polish army, commensurate with the percentage of Jews within the general population. Approximately 30,000 Jews fell in battle, were taken captive by the Germans, or declared missing during the battles defending Poland, 11,000 in the defense of Warsaw. Thousands of Jews later served in various Polish armies fighting against the Germans in the Allied Forces.

During World War II, more than 17,000 Jewish Canadians enlisted. They served in every branch of the armed forces and in the merchant marine. 577 Canadian Jewish casualties in the Canadian Armed Forces include servicemen who died while serving in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. 

About 30,000 Jews served in the British army in 1939-1946, some in special units of Jews from Palestine, such as the Jewish Brigade.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein of
Valley Beth Shalom
On May 25, 2019, L.A. synagogue Valley Beth Shalom commemorated Memorial Day during the Musaf service and afterwards - in a special ceremony which attracted both Jewish veterans and members of the air-veterans fraternity, Wings over Wendy's.
Harvey Keenan organizes
egalitarian ceremonies for

Memorial and Veterans Days

After officiating at the Los Angeles National Cemetery ceremony on Memorial Day, Chaplain Dov Cohen explains annual ceremonies at Valley Beth Shalom, organized by Rabbi Ed Feinstein and Harvey Keenan.


How is African-American, Honor Guard Roscoe Frazier, Jr. an esteemed participant in Jewish-Americans' veterans' activities?
Following the Memorial Day Service at Valley Beth Shalom, Harvey Keenan introduces Roscoe Frazier, Jr. - a 20-year, Army veteran who is also a valued member of the Wings over Wendy's veterans' fraternal association.

Should American Memorial Day include the Anglo volunteers killed in defending the Holy Land? 




Sgt. Bob Stiles, a Christian-raised, former USAF air-traffic controller at Castle A.F.B, discusses his service during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Mr. Stiles, a self-identified, "latter-day Jew" contends that the wars which Americans recognize on Memorial Day - ought to include the wars in which Anglo-Americans (Jewish, Christian, and otherwise) volunteered from around the world to defend the independence of Israel, the Judeo-Christian, Middle-East outpost, against Arab onslaught, beginning in 1947. 


WWII and Korean War veteran, Hy Arnesty, 96,
a former Jewish War Veterans post commander,
attended both Memorial Day veterans' events 
Approximately 1,400 North American volunteers, mostly World War II veterans, participated in the War of Independence, and played particularly crucial roles in the nascent Israeli air force and navy, said Dean Ralph Lowenstein, director of the Machal Archives and Museum at the University of Florida. 

123 Machalniks were killed or went missing-in-action during the War. Many were wounded, and some were taken prisoners-of-war. A Memorial was erected at the entrance to the Burma Road in the Sha’ar Hagai Forest, to commemorate the Fallen Machalniks. A memorial plaque lists the names of the Fallen in Hebrew and English, and the countries from which they came. Most Machalniks returned to their home countries after the War. About 550 Machalniks (16%) stayed on in Israel, or returned later to make their homes here. 


Briton Dr. Jason Fenton enlisted in the fledgling IDF in 1948- now active in Machal, Zionist veterans association (recorded 2012 at Celebrate Israel Festival).



Today, there is an annual constant stream of 150—180 young Jewish volunteers from all over the world who continue to come to Israel to serve in all branches of the IDF, many in combat units, and a number have died in action. (Source: http://www.machal.org.il/)

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History has compiled a list of American Jewish Casualties of Operations Iraqi Freedom (2003), Enduring Freedom (2001), and New Dawn (2003-2011).

"Golda's Balcony" movie illuminates the complexity of navigating existential threats against the Jewish state

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir ,1974
(Photo: AFP / Getty Images)
Feature-length movie, Golda’s Balcony (2019) recreates Tovah Feldshuh's award-winning, theatrical performance as Israeli Prime Minister Golda (Meyerson) Meir in the final masterpiece by William Gibson, who also authored  The Miracle Worker. The movie, edited from a rare, multi-camera shoot from the play’s original off-Broadway run, was recently unearthed and assembled into a new, riveting motion picture.








Golda’s Balcony
charts the rise of Golda Meir from Russian schoolgirl to Prime Minister of Israel, and is one of the most thrilling and amazing stories of the 20th Century. In this new film, Meir’s life has been transformed into a cinematic event of overwhelming power and inspirational triumph. As a play on Broadway, the work sold out over 500 performances, becoming not only the longest-running, one-woman show in Broadway history, but earning accolades far and wide.

Actress, Tovah Feldshuh poses with L.A. Jewish Film Festival director, Hilary Helstein (left)

Actress Tovah Feldshuh and producer David Fishelson brought "Golda's Balcony" from off-Broadway to Broadway and ultimately, now to the big-screen - one decade later. Interviewed by JooTube at the closing night of the L.A. Jewish Film Festival in May 2019,  recounts the dilemma of the journey of how she got involved in portraying Israel's late Prime Minister, Golda Meir.




After screening their "Golda's Balcony" as the finale of the L.A. Film Festival, Tovah Feldshuh's producer, David Fishelson discusses how he produced the play - which they turned into the motion picture touring Film Festivals, eventually heading for O.T.T. (e.g., Netflix) distribution.




Actress, Tovah Feldshuh, actress; producer David Fishelson; interviewer Kelly Hartog (accompanied by Kelly Hartog, managing editor of the Jewish Journal of L.A.) address audience in a post-screening panel about "Golda's Balcony" at L.A. Jewish Film Fest, May 9, 2019.



In this post-screening panel actress, Tovah Feldshuh and producer David Fishelson entertain audience questions.


Audience interacts with Tovah Feldshuh, star "Golda's Balcony" post-premiere at L.A. Jewish Film Fest.

L.A. Jewish Film Festival showing "Skin" - a white-supremacist son's struggle to leave his family's gang

Reformed skinhead, Byron Widner's progressive, facial tattoos' removal 
"Skin" - The story of a father struggling to leave his skin-head parents' gang. From writer/director Guy Nattiv and producer Jaime Ray Newman. Skin is an American biographical drama film following the life of former, skinhead group member, Bryon Widner, and stars Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Daniel Henshall, Bill Camp, Louisa Krause, Zoe Colletti, Kylie Rogers, Colbi Gannett, Mike Colter and Vera Farmiga.



Skin had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018. It is scheduled to be released on June 27, 2019 through DirecTV Cinema before being released on July 26, 2019, by A24. Nattiv's Oscar-winning short film Skin, also released in 2018, is not related to this film.

L.A. Jewish Film Festival post-screening panel includes audience questions and panelists answers of producer, Jaime Ray Newman, director, Guy Nattiv, of Israel, and moderator, Ariella Lowenstein, Deputy Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. 

L.A. Times music critic is Nazi-exiled composer, Walter Arlen, 98, whom Austrians honored with concert, documentary

"Walter Arlen's First Century" US Premiere at - Presented by LA Jewish Film Festival May 2019. Documentary/Austria/2018/94 minutes, English and German with English subtitles. Directed by Stephanus Domanig. 

Exile music is not written by those who life left unchallenged. Walter "Arlen" Aptowitzer is almost 100 years old, and the entire century comes to life in his stories and in his music; from the blue light of the last streetcar of his youth in Vienna to the golden sunsets in Los Angeles. Arlen was forced to flee Vienna in 1938 and immigrated to the United States, a journey that began as one of loneliness and depression. What kept him afloat was his musical talent. He took a job as the music critic for the Los Angeles Times, and stopped composing his own music. He only returned to it years later his works were first recorded and released when Arlen was 92. This sensitive film captures the complex story of a musician exiled, but who finally got to see his works performed late in life.

Watch trailer:


Woman in Gold"-storied attorney, Randy Schoenberg, describes the emigration of Jewish-Austrian creatives' in this interview, post-screening of "Walter Arlen's First Century" at the L.A. Jewish Film Festival:



 Walter Arlen interviewed at same screening: 


Question and Answers with Walter Arlen, director Stephanus Domanig, Randy Schoenberg, and Andreas Launer, the Consulate General of Austria

Mordechai Kedar continues up-ending Palestinian-state advocates in academic lecture at Florida university

Israeli, Dr. Mordechai Kedar stuns a scoffing, liberal academic audience with his expertise in genuine peace for Arabs (and possibly even Jews).


On May 2nd, as the Florida Atlantic University community was pre-occupied with graduation ceremonies, the Florida-Israel Institute (directed by Prof. Daniel Raviv) presented "Why is the Middle East so Problematic?" - by Arabist scholar, Dr. Mordechai Kedar.


To a full lecture hall audience of faculty, students and Zionistic community, Dr. Kedar answered questions regarding his Palestinian Emirates proposal. 



Dr. Kedar believes that as the natural organization of Muslim, Middle East societies is tribal (e.g., Iraq, Syria, Libya, Kurdistan), that peace with Jews (and other Muslim tribes) can best be guaranteed for all when autonomous governance is organized by tribes, instead of politicians-sought, artificial "national" boundaries.

Dr. Kedar responded to JooTube's query, how much faith do you place in Trump's Deal of the Century?




Dr. Kedar's  North American speaking tour will bring him to Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday this week, then onto the East Coast and Toronto.