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Tel Aviv ranked as world’s happiest city

By Jerusalem Post Staff, June 15

 Tel Aviv’s “rich cultural heritage, kind people, and abundance of food, shopping, and learning” were cited as the reason for the ranking.

TheTravel cited the White City’s “rich cultural heritage, kind people, and abundance of food, shopping, and learning,” noting that Tel Aviv has become “a global hot spot for spring break and vacationing as a whole.”

The travel blog also noted Tel Aviv’s progressive ideologies as a reason for its high ranking, pointing to the large LGBTQ community in the city and the draw for LGBTQ visitors. Tel Aviv was followed by Madrid, Fremont, San Jose, Stockholm, Toronto, Amsterdam, Reykjavík, Bergen and Copenhagen on the list.

This massive collection of 11 million postage stamps represents every life lost in the Holocaust

Forward, By Beth Harpaz, July 10

 The stamps, collected by children, are on display at the American Philatelic Society with letters from survivors and victims.

A teacher’s quest to help students understand the enormity of the Holocaust has culminated in a mind-boggling exhibition of 11 million postage stamps — one for each of the Nazis’ victims, including Jews and non-Jews.

The permanent exhibition, A Philatelic Memorial of the Holocaust, opened last month at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

The project began when teacher Charlotte Sheer read the Newbery Award-winning children’s novel “Number the Stars” with her fifth grade class at a K-12 charter school in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The book tells the story of a Danish family that hides a Jewish child from the Nazis.

“I could count on one hand how many Jewish students I had in all the years I worked there,” said Sheer, who is herself Jewish. But “the kids were very moved by the essence of the story. They were really captivated.”

To help students understand the magnitude of the Holocaust, Sheer showed a video about a Tennessee school that collected 6 million paper clips between 1998 and 2001 to represent Jewish victims.

When the students asked if they could collect paper clips too, Sheer encouraged them to come up with their own idea. Eventually they decided on postage stamps.

The logistics worked: Stamps were easy for kids to get, weren’t too heavy and didn’t take up a lot of room.

And the symbolism worked: “Postage stamps carry value when initially purchased, but then they’re thrown away as worthless trash — exactly what Nazi Germany was doing with human lives,Sheer said.

They aimed for 11 million stamps to represent all the Nazis’ victims, rather than 6 million representing Jews alone, in part because of the school’s diversity.

“Among the children in my class were kids from diverse cultural, racial and religious backgrounds, including some with learning disabilities,” said Sheer. “It resonated with them in a big way when they realized, ‘Yikes, why do these things make us so different that someone might want to kill us?’”

They climbed mountains to escape Nazis. Now their great-grandchildren are making the same journey

 By Oliver Briscoe, CNN, July 17

For many, the journey up through rocky boulder fields and frozen glaciers was the final stretch in a long and fraught journey across wartime Europe, hiding from German military, Gestapo secret police and SS paramilitary forces.

This month, the route which starts in France’s Ariege Pyrenees, once again echoed to footfalls as 87 people climbed their way from France to Spain, including descendants of those who made their escape, walking to honor their relatives.

The Freedom Trail, whose final ascent is attacked in a zig-zag path through an ice sheet, is an annual “walking memorial,” as Englishman Paul Williams, a mountain guide and guardian of local history, puts it.

Formally recognized by French presidential decree in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings that began the liberation of France, the trek remembers those who fled to Spain during the war.

Among previous hikers is Luke Janiszewski, a 25-year-old from the Baltimore area.

“I didn’t have Nazis on my tail, I wasn’t climbing for my life,” he told CNN. But, he adds: “I tried many times to think ‘Wow, my great-grandfather did this with  “X” amount of food,’ and he was driven solely like ‘I need to get into neutral Spain and get back over to England so I can do what I got to do.’”


The cast of Broadway’s ‘Parade’ says Kaddish before each show, says star Micaela Diamond

By Jackie Hajdenberg, JTA, June 9 

Eight times a week, audiences at Broadway’s “Parade” see the curtain rise on a retelling of an act of antisemitism. What they don’t see is the Jewish ritual that comes first.

The 23-year-old star Micaela Diamond notes that before almost every performance, the cast members stand in a circle and say the Mourner’s Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. “It is an expression of community as we tell this hard story,” writes Diamond, who plays Lucille Frank, the wife of Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank.

It’s not the only prayer recited every night: Ben Platt, playing Leo Frank, recites the Shema just before he is killed by a lynch mob, in the final moments of a musical dramatizing his 1913 arrest and 1915 murder. The historical consensus is that Frank was innocent of the rape and murder charges against him.

Diamond shares what she has learned from playing Lucille Frank, to whom she feels connected. “I can relate to Lucille — her Jewishness, her lack of Jewishness, her insistence on assimilation.” On the opening preview night of the “Parade” revival in February, neo-Nazis rallied outside the Bernard Jacobs Theatre.

“A play that was meant to be a revival of a century-old story suddenly had contemporary implications,” Diamond writes, echoing Platt’s take offered on Instagram that night. “It was a haunting reminder of this story’s immediacy.”



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