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Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2016 begins the evening of Wednesday, May 4 and ends in the evening of Thursday, May 5.

Yom_Hashoah_candleAt the rising of the sun and at its going down,
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

Ani Ma’amin
Also known as the ‘Varshever geto-lid fun frumer yidn’ (Song of religious Jews in the Warsaw ghetto), the song ‘Ani M’amin’ (I believe) takes its words from a prayer written in the 12th century by the great Judaic philosopher Moses ben Maimon (Maimonedes’/ acronymed Rambam for “Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon“). It is a declaration of faith and certainty that redemption will come in the form of the Messiah, even though he may delay. The song was sung by Jews as they rode on boxcars to the camps during the Holocaust. In the face 0f the most unspeakable horror, there was this majestic affirmation of hope.

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson
Ani maamin beemuna shlemah

B’viat hamashiach
V’af al pi sheyitmameha
Im kol zeh achake lo
B’chol yom sheyavo

I believe with a complete belief
In the coming of the Messiah
And even though he may tarry
I will wait for him whenever he comes.

 Personal photos from family visit to Dachau

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Blacks During the Holocaust

We Remember the Afro-German Rhineland Children

agThere, but for the grace of God, go I… ~MochaJuden

Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further “race polluting”, as Hitler termed it.

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder.

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Above: Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. On the right is presumably Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo, was the only black prisoner in Dachau.

 

Gert Schramm, born: November 28, 1928, Erfurt, Germany, Died: April 18, 2016, Erfurt, Germany, was a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was the only black prisoner. He was the son of a German woman and an African-American father and was arrested in violation of Nazi racial purity laws.

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Interview in German. In a nutshell, he is saying he was born in 1928, illegitimate son of an African-American and a white German woman. His father perished probably in Auschwitz, while he himself survived the Concentration Camp of Buchenwald.

Blacks During the Holocaust

bwAbove: Nazi propaganda photo depicts friendship between an “Aryan” and a black woman. The caption states: “The result! A loss of racial pride.” Germany, prewar. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Article: In Germany’s extermination program for black Africans, a template for the Holocaust

l_d16c9f116563b85d875af487dd128c32Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945. In the 1890s Blacks were tortured in German concentration camps in Southwest Africa (now called Namibia) when Adolph Hitler was only a child. Colonial German doctors conducted unspeakable medical experiments on these emaciated helpless Africans. Thousands of Africans were massacred. Regrettably, historians neglected to properly register the slaughter—that is, to lift it from the footnote in history that it had been relegated to— until now.

NEVER AGAIN must remain more than a mere slogan!

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At The Kaleidoscope Project, Vanessa Hidary: Kaleidoscope Founder, Producer, Director and Kendell Pinkney: Associate Producer, are driven by their desire to empower fellow Jews of diverse racial, ethnic, and interfaith backgrounds by giving them the space and tools to tell their own stories. KALEIDOSCOPE. Vivid Reflections – Boldly Diverse – Distinctly Jewish.

KALEIDOSCOPE is a narrative-arts driven initiative that was sparked by a desire to highlight the stories of Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, observance levels, and interfaith experiences. Given the increasing diversity of the greater Jewish community, we feel that highlighting the complex, personal stories of diverse Jewish voices through “edu-tainment” is critically important. As we look to expand our initiative (i.e., developing a KALEIDOSCOPE diversity curriculum for Jewish communities, expanding our presence online, broadening our impact within New York and the northeast) we seek to collaborate with partner organizations in order to create a more complete picture of the diversity that already exists within klal yisrael.

Stop being so Ashkenormative!

by Larry Yudelson, The Times of Israel, December 10, 201515-2-F-hebrew-mamita-635x357

Woody Allen had it easy.

A Jewish mother, a slice of herring, a dab of gefilte fish jelly, a shmear of Martin Buber, and a put-down of mayonnaise on white bread for a punch line. Everyone knew what the Jewish menu and the Jewish joke looked like, 50 years ago.

It was never that simple, of course. New York mythology aside, not all Jews left Russia between 1880 and 1923. And not all Jews spoke Yiddish. But ask around in Syrian communities in New York City and you’ll hear stories of grandparents from Damascus and Aleppo whose Jewishness met with stares of disbelief. “How could you be Jewish if you don’t speak Jewish?” that is, Yiddish, they were asked by their Ashkenazic neighbors.

That was then. Now you can dismiss your Litvak zeidie’s ignorant arrogance with a high-falutin’ put-down: Oh, he’s being Ashkenormative again. A lot of consciousness has been raised in the past decade and half on how much the Jewish community constricted itself with unspoken, unquestioned assumptions about Jews looking a certain way, acting a certain way, eating a certain away. In a multicultural age, it began to make sense that there are lots of Jewish cultures.

And at the forefront of that consciousness raising, holding the mic and posting spoken-word videos to YouTube, was Vanessa Hidary, the self-styled Hebrew Mamita, who will perform at Temple Emeth in Teaneck this Shabbat afternoon.

Ms. Hidary grew up in a Jewishly diverse family – her mother from Syrian stock, her father Ashkenazic. Her grandmother had come from Aleppo, where she never would have heard the term “gefilte fish” – which, after all, is simply how you say “stuffed fish” in Yiddish.

She grew up not in the Lower East Side, or in Jewish Brooklyn, but in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, at 88th and Columbus. She’s a bit vague about exactly when, but has described it as during the “hip-hop era.” She went to a local public school and her best friend was a Puerto Rican whose parents owned the corner bodega. Ms. Hidary discovered what it was like to be seen sometimes as Jewish and sometimes as not. She didn’t always like what she heard people say about Jews when they thought she wasn’t one.

She graduated from the LaGuardia High School of the Arts, studied at Hunter College, and earned an M.F.A. in acting.

When it was time to put on a performing persona, to venture to the East Village performance spaces and even the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe, she dubbed herself the Hebrew Mamita because, she said, “I wanted to represent my neighborhood and how I grew up. I grew up with a very strong Latino culture around me. Mamita is a term of endearment.”

The performance she will bring to Teaneck centers on “modern Jewish identity and race relations, my experience growing up- plus a q-and-a afterward.” Her career has taken her well past New Jersey; she has performed from Alabama to Jerusalem.

“I do sessions that deal with the basics of what does Jewish look like to you. I talk about Jewish living outside the box,” she said.

“When I was growing up, people didn’t know that much about Sephardic Jews, about Jews of different cultures and races. I think the Internet has changed that a lot. They’re starting to have a bigger presence, and the Jewish community is changing. The community is becoming more open to having different faces.”

She can’t quite believe that it has been 15 years since she first worked with Be’chol Lashon, – Hebrew for “in every tongue” – a then-brand-new organization in San Francisco, which imagines “a new global Judaism that transcends differences in geography, ethnicity, class, race, ritual practice, and beliefs.” One of Be’chol Lashon’s premiere activities is an overnight summer camp for racially and ethnically diverse Jewish children.

Locally, Be’chol Lashon’s mission is echoed by Temple Emeth’s Viewpoints committee, which is sponsoring Ms. Hidary. The committee was “formed to celebrate the diversity of the Jewish community and includes programs that highlight the interfaith, interracial, and LGBT communities.”

Ms. Hidary promises that her performance will bring “a lot of humor mixed into poignant things to think about.”

Her latest project has placed her in the director’s chair. It’s a show called Kaleidoscope. She brought together a group of a dozen “ethnically diverse Jews, Jews of color, Sephardic Jews, and had them write their experiences growing up.”

Kaleidoscope’s creation and some performances were underwritten by grants from New York’s UJA-Federation and the 14th Street Y. Now Ms. Hidary is applying for grants to “make that show happen again and attach a curriculum to that.”

Originally posted HERE.

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. The U.N. resolution that created IHRD rejects denial of the Holocaust, and condemns discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity.

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution (A/RES/60/7) condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.

It decided that the United Nations would designate 27 January -– the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp — as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again, and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”, as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

The Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say “never again””. The significance of resolution A/RES/60/7 is that it calls for a remembrance of past crimes with an eye towards preventing them in the future.

Jewish Museum Berlin – Shalechet (“Fallen Leaves”) installation by Menashe Kadishman of Tel Aviv. Occupying a corner space called the “Memory Void”, it consists of 10,000 iron faces strewn thickly across the floor. The faces are coarsely stamped but full of expression, with mouths open in suffering. Visitors are permitted to walk on the work. Doing so creates a loud, “industrial” noise and is quite a unique and moving experience.

Personal Photo –Shalechet (“Fallen Leaves”) Jewish Museum Berlin 2007

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson
Also known as the ‘Varshever geto-lid fun frumer yidn’ (Song of religious Jews in the Warsaw ghetto), the song ‘Ani M’amin’ (I believe) takes its Hebrew words from Maimonedes’ Thirteen Articles of Faith. It is a declaration of faith and certainty that redemption will come in the form of the Messiah, even though he may delay.

Ani maamin beemuna shlemah
B’viat hamashiach
V’af al pi sheyitmameha
Im kol zeh achake lo
B’chol yom sheyavo

I believe with a complete belief
In the coming of the Messiah
And even though he may tarry
I will wait for him, whenever he comes

If you are like most people, you simply have never heard the unbelievable story of Black victims of the Holocaust. You are invited to read about the human spirit’s triump over events that occurred during this horrible piece of hidden history.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

The remarkable story of a black African from a royal lineage in Swaziland who was raised a Christian, converted to Judaism and became a Haredi Litvish Rabbi in Israel. It begins with Rabbi Natan Gamedze’s first visit home in 16 years and traces back his extraordinary spiritual journey from Swaziland to Israel. By following Rabbi Gamedze’s journey to Judaism, this story provides an extraordinary insight into orthodox Jewish thinking from a completely different background. Along the way it gently explores race issues, pre and post apartheid.

Additional information:
http://www.rabbigamedze.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natan_Gamedze

Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future

Ilana Kaufman, Program Officer, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
BE INSPIRED
When Jews count themselves, it matters. So who really counts? Ilana Kaufman issues a challenge to the Jewish community on race.


Racism in the Jewish Community: The Uncomfortable Truth via ELItalks

David Baliaba, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Cameroon, performing Hatikvah. David composes music for the prayer services in Cameroon, and is a professional musician and performer.

 

From Canada to the Judean Hills, from Christianity to Judaism

Azriel Dror from Canada converted to Judaism from Christianity and made aliyah because Israel is “where every Jew needs to be.”
Arutz Sheva continues its series of interviews with some of the 221 olim who arrived in Israel on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight this week.

One of the new olim on the flight was Azriel Dror, 35, who converted to Judaism from Christianity. Dror, along with his wife and five children, made aliyah from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada (a suburb of Toronto) to Susya, a religious community located in the southern Judean Hills area.

“Israel has always been in my heart and in my mind,” Dror said as the flight made its way to Tel Aviv. “The Torah says that Israel is where we should be. You see prophecy happening all the time, and Hashem has put in my heart and in my wife’s heart to go back to the Land of Israel, where every Jew needs to be.”

Dror recalled how he surprised his son, who attended yeshiva in Israel this past year, by arriving in Israel for a visit. The two toured the country from the south to the north and “I fell in love. My soul just came alive. I said, ‘This is where I need to be. This is where I need to live. Every Jew needs to live there.’”

“I still have to pinch myself that I’m here. Hashem, you made this possible. I thank G-d for his miracles. I thank G-d for catching this flight, and I thank G-d for when I land, that I can kiss the ground,” he said.
Originally posted HERE

A Kaleidoscope Of Jewish Identity By Sharon Anstey

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Ahuva in “Kaleidoscope.” Jonathan Pillot.

Cuban, Moroccan, Turkish, Libyan, Israeli, Puerto Rican, British and American influences swirl through the very Jewish stories presented in Vanessa Hidary’s “Kaleidoscope” at the 14th St Y.

Hidary, the actress, solo performer, poet and director known as the “Hebrew Mamita,” and her cast of 4 men and 8 women explore what it means to be Jewish through multiple, shifting lenses. Their compelling monologues in English with notes of French, Hebrew, English, Spanish, Ladino, Amharic and Turkish, highlight pride and joy as well as discomfort with inequalities and, for many, the bittersweet moments when grandparents and grandchildren cannot communicate easily.

Avi Amon — white, male, Jewish, Turkish, Sephardi, American — articulates the fundamental dilemma: How can we check any one box on a survey form? No one box can capture all that we are. We are forced to “shape shift.”

Raised an Episcopalian in the Bronx, Malaika Martin converted to Judaism and lived in Israel for many years. She thinks she was the only black in Beersheva in the 90s and later reigned as the “Black Queen Bee” of Tel Aviv, dispatching any competitors with contempt — to Jerusalem.

Another performer, who goes by the name Ahuva, grew up in the Ethiopian community in Ashdod and recalls that the Ethiopians walked at night and hid by day during their long journey to Israel. Her pride in Israel and having served in the IDF is evident. At the same time, her fury at the derogatory “Cushi” being hurled at members of her community is palpable.

A common thread among these monologues was “don’t tell me how to be Jewish.” As Corey Hennig who closes the evening said, as a Black and as a Jew, “the nice Jewish boy with a little more flavor,” he feels caught in the crossfire too often.

On a personal note, I witnessed a close friend grapple with this question for a long time. She was a black South African, drawn strongly to Judaism. Rabbis here in New York were willing to convert her but counseled against it as she was planning to return to South Africa — they felt that her Jewishness might be hard for her family there to digest. She lived as a Jew but died a Christian.

“Kaleidoscope” opened on Wednesday evening to an enthusiastic reception and the final performance at the 14th St Y is July 19th.

Originally published HERE.

“The duty of the survivor is to bear testimony to what happened … You have to warn people that these things can happen, that evil can be unleashed. Race hatred, violence, idolatries — they still flourish.” — Elie Wiesel

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. Days of Remembrance 2015 Events

The Blessing of the Yellow Candle

We light the yellow candle to rekindle God’s flame,
to shine His light upon the world once again,
to sanctify the memories of millions of souls,
to honor their prayers and all their lost goals,
we bless their existence by being alive,
to light this yellow candle as proof we survived.
~By Ron Adler

“Who Am I To Speak Of A Time?”

Who am I to speak of a time,
of families crushed, of crimes of mankind,
of children in hiding and living in fear,
of mothers trying to hide all their tears,
of fathers praying to an empty heaven,
of people dying again and again?

Who am I to know what it was like
to be persecuted by day and trapped by the night,
to be surrounded by a world turned upside down,
to be starved and tortured and beaten to the ground,
to witness a nation of hate marching past,
to see all their dreams broken and shattered like glass?

Who am I to mention their suffering and pain,
the ghettos, the camps, life and death inhumane?
I wasn’t even born, I wasn’t even there,
it happened long ago, it could never happen here.

Who am I to know what God had in mind
when the virtues of man were buried alive,
when good lost to evil and hope turned to despair,
when hell upon earth seemed everywhere?

Who am I to let their memories be forgotten,
to say and do nothing as if it never happened,
to forsake the loss of our Jewish family,
to live in a world of complacency?
____________________________________

1.5 million innocent children perished in the Holocaust. In an effort to remember them, Holocaust Museum Houston is collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition, currently scheduled for Spring 2013, for all to remember. Learn how you can help at http://www.hmh.org/ed_butterfly1.shtml.

Sam Glaser • A Million Butterflies, about the children of the Holocaust

Educator Leon Bass, January 23, 1935 – March 28, 2015. Former Principal of Benjamin Franklin High School, Philadelphia, PA witnessed Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after its liberation. Read Article: Leon Bass, 90, educator forever changed by the Holocaust


American troops, including African American soldiers from the Headquarters and Service Company of the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 8th Corps, U.S. 3rd Army, view corpses stacked behind the crematorium during an inspection tour of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Among those pictured is Leon Bass (the soldier third from left). Buchenwald, Germany, April 17, 1945.

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson

Blacks During the Holocaust

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder.

Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. On the right is presumably Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo, was the only black prisoner in Dachau.

There but for the grace of God, go I…
Remember the Afro-German Rhineland Children

Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further “race polluting”, as Hitler termed it.

Blacks During the Holocaust

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and other groups.

If you are like most people, you simply have never heard the unbelievable story of Black victims of the Holocaust. You are invited to read about the human spirit’s triump over events that occurred during this horrible piece of hidden history.

After World War I, the Allies stripped Germany of its African colonies. The German military stationed in Africa (Schutztruppen), as well as missionaries, colonial bureaucrats, and settlers, returned to Germany and took with them their racist attitudes. Separation of whites and blacks was mandated by the Reichstag (German parliament), which enacted a law against mixed marriages in the African colonies.

Following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the victorious Allies occupied the Rhineland in western Germany. The use of French colonial troops, some of whom were black, in these occupation forces exacerbated anti-black racism in Germany. Racist propaganda against black soldiers depicted them as rapists of German women and carriers of venereal and other diseases. The children of black soldiers and German women were called “Rhineland Bastards.” The Nazis, at the time a small political movement, viewed them as a threat to the purity of the Germanic race. In Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler charged that “the Jews had brought the Negroes into the Rhineland with the clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily-resulting bastardization.”

African German mulatto children were marginalized in German society, isolated socially and economically, and not allowed to attend university. Racial discrimination prohibited them from seeking most jobs, including service in the military. With the Nazi rise to power they became a target of racial and population policy. By 1937, the Gestapo (German secret state police) had secretly rounded up and forcibly sterilized many of them. Some were subjected to medical experiments; others mysteriously “disappeared.”

The racist nature of Adolf Hitler’s regime was disguised briefly during the Olympic Games in Berlin in August 1936, when Hitler allowed 18 African American athletes to compete for the U.S. team. However, permission to compete was granted by the International Olympic Committee and not by the host country.

Adult African Germans were also victims. Both before and after World War I, many Africans came to Germany as students, artisans, entertainers, former soldiers, or low-level colonial officials, such as tax collectors, who had worked for the imperial colonial government. Hilarius (Lari) Gilges, a dancer by profession, was murdered by the SS in 1933, probably because he was black. Gilges’ German wife later received restitution from a postwar German government for his murder by the Nazis.

Some African Americans, caught in German-occupied Europe during World War II, also became victims of the Nazi regime. Many, like female jazz artist Valaida Snow, were imprisoned in Axis internment camps for alien nationals. The artist Josef Nassy, living in Belgium, was arrested as an enemy alien and held for seven months in the Beverloo transit camp in German-occupied Belgium. He was later transferred to Germany, where he spent the rest of the war in the Laufen internment camp and its subcamp, Tittmoning, both in Upper Bavaria.

European and American blacks were also interned in the Nazi concentration camp system. Lionel Romney, a sailor in the U.S. Merchant Marine, was imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Jean Marcel Nicolas, a Haitian national, was incarcerated in the Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau concentration camps in Germany. Jean Voste, an African Belgian, was incarcerated in the Dachau concentration camp. Bayume Mohamed Hussein from Tanganyika (today Tanzania) died in the Sachsenhausen camp, near Berlin.

Black prisoners of war faced illegal incarceration and mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis, who did not uphold the regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention (international agreement on the conduct of war and the treatment of wounded and captured soldiers). Lieutenant Darwin Nichols, an African American pilot, was incarcerated in a Gestapo prison in Butzbach. Black soldiers of the American, French, and British armies were worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the SS or Gestapo.

Some African American members of the U.S. Armed forces were liberators and witnesses to Nazi atrocities. The 761st Tank Battalion (an all-African American tank unit), attached to the 71st Infantry Division, U.S. Third Army, under the command of General George Patton, participated in the liberation of Gunskirchen, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, in May 1945.


NEVER AGAIN must remain more than a mere slogan

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Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Viñas and his wife Sandra Viñas are a newly wed Cuban and Dominican couple that put a latin twist on some of the traditional Jewish dishes for the holiday. Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel and Sandra Viñas are photographed with some of the symbolic foods they will eat for Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 12, 2014 in their Yonkers home.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

During Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, food is as central to the celebration as prayer. But the kosher meal on the table of one Yonkers family will have a unique flavor: Latin.

Sephardic Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel “Manny” Viñas and his wife, Sandra Nuñez Viñas, have planned a menu that includes Pan de Calabaza (pumpkin bread), Keftes de Prasa (leek and scallion croquettes), Lubiya (black eyed peas) and La Sopa de las Siete Verduras (seven vegetable soup with stew meat).

“My wife, Sandra, is Dominican, so we jokingly call her Jew-minican,” he laughs. “She has a challah recipe, and she’ll put coconut oil instead of regular oil. That will add a little bit of sweetness so that it will be a sweet year.”

As the founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos “Torat Emet,” a Spanish-language Jewish education and spirituality center for Latin American Jews living in the New York area, Rabbi Viñas has a growing contingent of followers. The internet broadcasts of his lectures have brought an international audience to the Spanish Torah.

“It’s Judaism with a little Latin flavor,” says Viñas.

For the coming Rosh Hashana celebration, he and his wife will be joined in by more than 20 members of the Lincoln Park Jewish Center for a traditional meal, and plenty of song, stories and wine.

“We’ll probably have five languages at the table,” he says.

Working with his mother’s original recipes, saved on a handwritten and wine-stained paper from years of use, they will prepare a kosher meal that features some typical items found in Latin cooking, like coconut oil and fried plantains.

“My family left Cuba and I grew up in Miami, and attended primarily Spanish speaking synagogues,” says Viñas. “She sent me these recipes when I moved to New York.”

Each prayer — said in both Aramaic and Ladino, sometimes called Judeo-Spanish — will be accompanied by a dish that signifies desires for the new year, such as black-eyed peas for prosperity or fish for fertility. And guests will enjoy Yarden Mount Hermon red wine from Golan Heights in Israel with the main course. “It pairs really well with the seven vegetable stew.”

“The pomegranate has 613 seeds, so in eating it you’re saying ‘I should have as much prosperity as I have seeds’,” Viñas explains. “And eating it brings the prayer to completion.”

Twitter: @megmccaff15

Rabbi Viñas is the founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos “Torat Emet,” a Spanish-language Jewish education and spirituality center for Latin-American Jews living in the New York area. Visit lpjc.org for more information.
(originally posted here.)

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