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Rabbi's Blog: Vayishlach, Confrontation, Anti-Semitism, CUNY

12/06/2022 01:58:52 PM


Dear OZ family,


With rising Anti-Semitism all around us, I draw your attention to tomorrow’s case that will be presented before a judge regarding the two men who had planned to blow up synagogues in the New York area. They were caught with weapons and materials that indicated clearly that they were on their way to achieve their destructive ends. Thanks to excellent detective work, (including on the part of Herb, who guards our shul on Shabbos morning) they were caught before they had a chance to sow their seeds of destruction.


One of those men, Christopher Brown remains in prison until his trial. The other, Matthew Mahrer lives right here in our neighborhood at 100 W 94th St. with his Parents, who made bail for him. His case comes up tomorrow at 111 Center St. and the community has been asked by Shelly Fine to attend the hearing to show community interest. Shelly can be reached at 917 453-3911 if you can make it. We are meeting at 9:30am in front of the court, and the case is at 10am. We insist that Mr. Mahrer be remanded by the court until his trial. He cannot continue to roam our streets continuing to spend his days on hate-filled websites, and roaming around high-profile Jewish establishments.


Ramban, in his introduction to this week’s Parsha relates that whenever a certain Rabbi traveled to Rome to advocate for his people, he would first read Parshat Vayishlach. That is where Yaacov prepared for a possible confrontation with Esav, with diplomacy, prayer and the possibility for battle. We must combine these elements and demonstrate a combative spirit that we will not tolerate the hatred against us that continues to exist in many circles around us, and that we will not wait for the next tragedy before acting. In the end we realize the need for God’s protection, but we will do our part as well.


I draw your attention as well to the Anti-Semitism that continues to flourish in the CUNY system, masked as Anti-Zionism. Please be aware of a symposium that is open to the public that addresses this issue. Information is attached below.


Have a wonderful and productive day.

Stay well and healthy.


Rabbi Allen Schwartz






Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635





Dear Friends, 

We write to let you know about an important symposium at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York at 7:30, this Thursday, December 8 that can help reverse a trend towards ever-more-irrational demonization of Israel taking hold on university campuses. The symposium will explore the language deployed to describe Israel in many academic circles. The panelists include the Executive Directors of the Academic Engagement Network, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Because the university administration is listening, with important representation at this event, it is important to show that members of the CUNY community and the broader public care about academic freedom with open dialogue free of demonization and inversions of the truth. 

The event is described in the text below and in the attached flyer.  

Please register for the event and let your friends know about it. 


Azriel Genack 
Manfred Philipp 
CUNY Alliance for Inclusion 

A Conversation on the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 
December 8, 2022 
Dining Commons, 8th Floor  
CUNY Graduate Center  
365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th streets) 
This event is free and open to the public. Please register at 
Proof of vaccination is required for entry. 
The Graduate Center is within a few blocks of stops on many subway lines. Parking restrictions on Fifth Avenue go off at 7 PM so there is plenty of nearby parking.  
Meet and Greet Buffet:          6:30-7:30 PM  
Panel Discussion:                   7:30-9:00 PM 
Introduction:   Robin Garrell 
Robin Garrell is the President of the CUNY Graduate Center 
Moderator:      David Brodsky 
David Brodsky is an Associate Professor and the Chairperson of the Department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College. 
Panelists:        Donna Robinson Divine 
                        Miriam F. Elman                         
                        Asaf Romirowsky 
Donna Robinson Divine is the Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Government, Smith College, Emerita 
Miriam F. Elman is the Executive Director of the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) and Associate Professor of Political Science, Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence, Syracuse University (2008-2022) 
Asaf Romirowsky is Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA). 
Open Question Period to Follow Discussion 
Of all the changes that can be documented since the founding of Israel, none is as dramatic and surprising as the country's status as a topic of intellectual inquiry. Once a trope for self-sacrifice and redemption, the Jewish state, today, stands accused of practicing apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and of sustaining itself as a remnant of an outdated and thoroughly delegitimized colonial order. How the change took hold in academia can best be understood by focusing on the vocabulary deployed to study Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians. The panelists will discuss the special issue of Israel Studies they edited on this topic and the storm this created among scholars.  
CUNY             CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences 
Co-sponsors:   History Program at the Graduate Center  
                        Center for Jewish Studies at The Graduate Center 
Judaic Studies Department, Brooklyn College 
We Stand Against Hate, Brooklyn College 
Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities, Brooklyn College  
Hillel: Baruch College, Queens College, City College and other CUNY Colleges   
Additional       Academic Engagement Network/AEN 
Co-sponsors:  Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa/ASMEA 
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East/SPME 
Sponsor:          Antisemitism Education Initiative at CUNY  
Organizer:      CUNY Alliance for Inclusion/CAFI 




Sat, September 30 2023 15 Tishrei 5784