Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Archive for the ‘Bay-ond the Pale’ Category

Righteous Gentile Irena Sendler

Posted by Oyster on March 11, 2014

Every year there are fewer living witnesses to the Holocaust. Memorial organizations such as Yad Vashem are working feverishly to collect as many testimonies as possible to memorialize the names of the victims and honor the Righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jewish lives. These activities demand a tremendous amount of time and effort. Sometimes however, information comes in unexpected ways. This was the case regarding the story of Irena Sendler who was honored for her role in saving over 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto in 1963 by Yad Vashem and then forgotten. It was only when a group of non-Jewish schoolgirls from Uniontown Kansas pursued a rumor of Sendler’s activities that the incredible story of her bravery was publicized to the world.

Irena Sendler was a young social worker in Warsaw when the Nazis invaded in 1939. She joined the Zagota underground which specialized in assisting persecuted Jews. She helped find hiding places for these Jews and obtained false papers which allowed them to integrate into the Polish society. When the Nazis created the Warsaw ghetto in 1940 Sendler procured papers that identified her as a nurse who specialized in infectious diseases. She was then allowed to enter and exit the ghetto freely.

At first Sendler smuggled food and medicines into the ghetto but it quickly became apparent that such aid was a drop in the bucket. Together with her Zagota comrades she decided that she could save more lives if she could smuggle people out of the ghetto. As the head of Jewish child welfare division of Zagota Sendler decided to concentrate on smuggling children out of the ghetto. Children, Zagota felt, were easier to smuggle out, easier to move from place to place and easier to hide in Polish orphanages and convents.

Sendler began to pick up street orphans. She sedated them and hid them in luggage, toolboxes. Beneath her tram seat and in carts under garbage and barking dogs in order to smuggle them out of the ghetto. Older children were led under the ghetto walls through underground tunnels and sewers. As time passed Sendler started to approach Jewish parents to ask them to allow her to take their children out of the ghetto. Sendler went door to door within the ghetto in her quest to bring children to freedom. The parents were distraught — many refused Sendler because they believed that their children would have a better chance of survival if they stayed together. Others couldn’t bear being parted from their children.

Sendler herself remembered those interactions as excruciatingly painful “I talked the mothers out of their children” she reminisced. “Those scenes over whether to give a child away were heart-rending. Sometimes, they wouldn’t give me the child. Their first question was, ‘What guarantee is there that the child will live?’ I said, ‘None. I don’t even know if I will get out of the ghetto alive today.”

Sendler carefully recorded all of the names of the children that she rescued on slips of tissue paper, along with the locations in which they were hidden. She placed these pieces of papers in glass jars and buried them in her garden. She hoped that, after the war, the children would be reunited with surviving family members or, at the very least, with their Jewish community. Some children were hidden with
sympathetic Polish families while others were placed for safekeeping in institutions.

In October 1943, after the Warsaw ghetto had been destroyed, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo. She was tortured in the notorious Piawiak prison but she withstood the torture and didn’t reveal any information about the whereabouts of the children, or about her Zagota comrades. The Nazis sentenced Sendler to death but Zagota was able to bribe a German guard and smuggle Sendler out of the prison. Sendler remained in hiding throughout the final months of the war.

Yad Vashem honored Sendler in 1963 but after the awards ceremony she returned to Warsaw and her wartime activities were forgotten. In 1999
a group of Kansas high school students researched Sendler’s actions during the war and developed a project, Life in a Jar, which honored Sendler’s heroism and bravery. The project has evolved into a book, a website and a performance which has been viewed by thousands of people worldwide.

Posted in Antisemitism, Bay-ond the Pale, Oy Bay! | 2 Comments »

March 12: PresenTense Zionism Panel in San Francisco

Posted by Oyster on March 10, 2009

Yes, you heard us right. A panel on Zionism, in San Francisco.

Yes, you heard us right. A panel on Zionism, in San Francisco.

San Francisco: Zionism Now!

Four leaders speak on the present and future of Zionism, with Ariel Beery

Thursday, March 12, 2009
6:00pm – 7:00pm
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA

Facebook Event (click here to RSVP)


Is the Zionist tradition alive and well? What is the future of Zionism in Israel and the Diaspora?
Come hear four prominent panelists speak on living Zionism– in today’s worlds of arts and culture, media, politics and social entrepreneurship.


Zack Bodner is the Pacific Northwest Regional Director for AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, America’s pro-Israel lobby that works to ensure American support for Israel remains strong.

Jonathan Carey is the Executive Director of BlueStarPR, a San Francisco- based non-profit that promotes Israel within communities and campuses challenged by anti-Israel sentiments. Through positive posters, billboards and DVDs designed to build knowledge and understanding, BlueStarPR highlights Israeli successes in the areas of democracy, innovations, freedom of the press, assembly and speech and minority rights.

Ariel Beery is co-director and CEO of the PresenTense Group, which is growing a new generation of halutzim–social entrepreneurs who are developing infrastructure for the Jewish People in the 21st century. As a widely published columnist, Ariel frequently writes about the future of Zionism and the Jewish People.

Alan Kaufman is a San Francisco-based author and artist. His recent books are the widely acclaimed JewBoy: A Memoir, and Matches, a novel about soldiers serving in the West Bank. Alan is a co-founder of Miriam Books with Polly Zavadivker, and his paintings are the subject of its first publication,Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art.

Panel will be moderated by Polly Zavadivker, a graduate student in Jewish History at UC Santa Cruz, and Program Officer at The Jewish Community Foundation/Federation in Oakland.

Editor’s Note: Oy Bay is a digital publication of the PresenTense Group.

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Communities, Events, Israel, On-Campus, Politics, San Francisco, Young Adults | Leave a Comment »

The Josh Nelson Project: New. Jewish. Rock.

Posted by Oyster on January 2, 2009

The Josh Nelson Project is on tour. Check to see if he's coming to your town!

The Josh Nelson Project is on tour. Check to see if he's coming to your town!

I was fortunate to meet Josh when we were stuck in NY waiting to fly to Israel for ROI 120. He’s mad talented and is creating great Jewish music that doesn’t suck. Be sure to turn out and catch him live! Click here to check out the JNP website & hear a sampling of his innovative sound.


1/5/09 -1/7/09

ACC, CA, and GTM Convention Artist in Residence

Palm Springs, CA  http://www.accantors.org/


Friday Night Live @ Sinai Temple

(with Craig Taubman)

Beverly Hills, CA http://www.atidla.com


One Shabbat Morning @ Adat Ari El

(with Craig Taubman)

Valley Village, CA http://www.adatariel.org

1/16/09 – 1/17/09

Limmud NY Artist in Residence

Ellenville, NY http://www.limmudny.org/


Park Avenue Synagogue Havdallah Service and Concert

New York, NY http://www.pasyn.org


Jewish Educators Assembly National Conference

Scottsdale, AZ http://www.jewisheducators.org/


We’re proud to announce an innovative and unique concept in Jewish music distribution. Launching in early 2009, 12SONGS will offer fans new insights and a closer look into the inspiration and motivation behind Josh’s music. Each month, we’ll write and record a new song that will be posted on the 12SONGS website. Fans will have an opportunity to interact, comment, and maintain an open dialogue. Details on the program will be released soon, so stay tuned for more information.

Wishing you a sweet Hanukkah,

-the josh nelson project

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Events, Judaism, Music | Leave a Comment »

Pass The Candle: Rosh HaShanah Girl and the Jewish Robot

Posted by Oyster on December 10, 2008

… at it again. 🙂 Check out PassTheCandle.com for more info.  Happy Hanukah!

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Humor | 1 Comment »

Cartoons Here, Cartoons There

Posted by shanamaidel on August 5, 2008

In the United States, the offensive cartoon of the hour was the cover of the New Yorker Magazine from a few weeks back.  You know the one, where Barak Obama looks like he is out of the Middle East, and his wife, Michelle, dressed like a Black Panther.  it was meant to match an internal article about the political rise of Barak Obama along the Gold Coast and Hyde Park. (Which is why most people found the cover outrageous rather than slyly funny.  Then again, I get to count myself among the few to have spent a good deal of time in Hyde Park, so I saw Louis Farrakhan– and Bill Ayer-type references, both of whom live/work locally to me, across the cover and found it hilarious.).

In France, a similar controversy over a cartoon is brewing loudly.  The cartoonist, known as Siné, is a self-professed anti-Semite and Communist.  His target is the newly engaged Jean Sarkozy (yes you are reading that last name right).  He’s engaged to a lovely Jewish girl, Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress to one of the largest fortunes in France, the Darty Electronics Chain.

If I were a hopping mad cartoonist anti-semite, of course I would butt into a lovely private moment!  Which is exactly what happened.  Sine published a very anti-semitic cartoon, which claimed that Jean was converting and marrying her primarily for political reasons.  (It seems that he is seen as a sort of political heir apparent in France).

Being France where there are a large amount of literary establishments, and a much larger leftist establishment, no one noticed for about a week.  Suddenly it came to pass that a radio-station picked up on the anti-Semitic the cartoon was.  It has since been pulled from the paper it was published in and scrubbed from the Internet , which is why we are unable to attach it to this post.

This is the way the story stands now.  The New York Times is covering it with a lovely editorial about freedom of the press issues, and freedom of religion issues, while the UK Guardian has a lovely summary of what has happened until now.

However I have a serious question for the French Jewish community.  Not that I advocate violence (in fact I prefer the Gandhi and MLK way of making a point), but I am starting to wonder.  Right now, because of essentially hooliganism, you cannot wear a kippah in the streets of Paris.  And now this.

What would happen to all of us if ignored all but the worst of Antisemitism.  If we made a point, as a society, to make it outcast behavior, something that only the lowest tiers of people do?  Right now, it seem as if Parisians are behaving as if it is something in the background that is always there.  But there is something to be said for a large social science experiment where these sorts of things become unacceptable. We made it something to stare at, because someone who would perpetrate such behavior would become beyond the pale odd.  The Siné situation proves that these situations, in our hearts of hearts, we still fear and expect these forms of virulent antisemitism.  If we made them odd, strange, would they disappear?

Would we scrub out a little more hatred with our stares, or am I a little naive?

(And a Mazel Tov to the Couple.  May You Build a Bayis Ne’eman B’ France. and B’Yisrael)

Ps Definitely the best post on the websephere is by the fellow UChicago-er (shoutout) Phoebe Maltz. I’m kvelling.

Posted in Antisemitism, Bay-ond the Pale, Politics | 5 Comments »

My baby daddy: “F#@K Your Blog!”

Posted by Oyster on July 25, 2008

Akh, such nakhes! That’s my Marty. Sigh, how I miss him from ROI 120 ’07… You can catch him on late-night cable funnies, on Jewcy, and with his new book.

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Humor | Leave a Comment »

Hail to the Chief (not Bush)

Posted by shanamaidel on July 16, 2008

Congratulations to the University of California System!  They’ve chosen a new president, and he’s a member of the Chosen people: Mark Yudof .  He’s not just any member of the Tribe, he’s the ex-chancellor of University of Texas system.  His two professional specialties: Cleaning up the budgets and administrations of universities and the limits of free speech.  The UCs seem like they need both, badly.

Like many smaller universities and colleges in today’s economy, the UC system is facing a budget crisis.  There is already a pay freeze in place for staff, but rumor has it that the central administrative office alone already consists of around two thousand employees for the 220,000 students at ten campuses.  This is already before the local administration at each campus.  (For Comparison: University of Texas has nine university campuses,  and another six exclusively medical campuses for nursing, medical, and dental education.  However, UT manages to at least fit their organizational flowchart onto one page, whereas the UCs needs two.  Already a bad sign.)*  Cuts are coming, but with one of the most ornery, persnickety, and interfering Board of Regents in the country, necessary cuts is going to be hard.  Cuts to both administration/faculty also might come at the expense of students (and their parents) pocketbooks, with a tuition increase: a hard though in an already tight credit  market.  If something isn’t done, the UCs, jewels as major research and teaching institutions, will find themselves run into the ground.

Turning the UCs back to a mission of being educational and research schools hurts no-one, particularly the Jewish students at different campuses.  Campuses maintain some in loco parentis rights and responsibilities on behalf of their students.  With such administrative sprawl, responsibility has become too diffuse.  When I read that the Hillel president of UC Irvine is not made uncomfortable by the fact that there is a lack of accountable free speech spaces at UC Irvine, and therefore there is no way of adequately reporting that a swastika was drawn on her Israeli flag outside of her dorm room, then the administrative system there has a problem.  In comparison, at the University of Chicago, where I go to school, when there have been issues involving race or religion there is accountability, including risk of suspension or getting kicked out of housing.  The system as it stands in the UCs has no accountability for what and how their students talk.   Not to say that any system is perfect Hopefully by bringing in Yudof , whose specialty is that gray line- when the new, leaner administration have to face the students and tell them No for the first time about the way they talk to each other.

I wish you hatzlocha President Yudof.  It looks like you need it.  If you need a sandwich to help you deal while hanging out here- try the SF-NY Deli.  Kosher too.

*Those org charts are always useful if you want to do devious art and need to contact the administration first. 😀

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Judaism, On-Campus, Young Adults | 1 Comment »

The Jewish New Media Network

Posted by Oyster on July 9, 2008

Some of you might be wondering where I’ve been as of late. I haven’t written much lately. And I have so much to tell! With a recent trip to Brazil, and participation in this year’s ROI Summit in Jerusalem, I have no shortage of stories to impart upon our loyal readers.

The short answer is that I’ve been working hard to try to take Oy Bay to the next level. A year and a half ago, I was discussing the state of Oy Bay with some close colleagues of mine. I realized that I had reached a cusp where at the same time that our readership & significance as a news source in the Bay Area Jewish community was growing apace, so was the responsibility and time-commitment involved. I realized that either I had to do something to make Oy Bay a more substantial organization, or I would just maintain the status quo, the site wouldn’t grow and I would most likely lose interest as some other project won my attention, and allow the site to slowly die.

Thankfully for you, the former prevailed. 🙂

I haven’t been writing because with the paucity of time I have to moonlight on this (yes, sports-fans, I do have a day-job!), I’ve been devoting more & more of my time to what might be called “business development”. Though don’t get any hasty notions; we are non-profit (queue the broke jokes) and strongly believe in carrying on a mission of Jewish news media that is independent, non-profit, and in a digital medium.

The so-called parent organization for Oy Bay is known as the Jewish New Media Network. From there we will blog about new blogs & websites that are joining our team, along with any updates about our organization. We might even throw in a few articles that do some belly-button gazing about the state of Jewish journalism (especially of the online kind). What is the point of the JNMN? Well, imagine it like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but for heebs.

One of the goals of the JNMN is to create “Oy Bay-like” sites in different Jewish neighborhoods & regions throughout the US (and eventually in other countries). With that in mind, we are aggressively seeking out new talent in those markets to help us establish legitimate & authentic local media. If you can write or can manage a mean website, definitely drop us a line at jnewsie<at>jnmn.org.

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Group Introduction, Jewspapers | Leave a Comment »

Miami Chabad House Burned, Arson Suspected

Posted by Oyster on April 24, 2008

This is a guest post from my friend Liora. I’m really pained to hear about the destruction of a Chabad House that was so dear to her. In a choice between two miseries, I hope that it wasn’t an act of Antisemitism (though there is some indication), but just an accidental fire…

[video] [NY Times] [Miami Herald] [Miami Herald] [Local Ch. 10]

“Fire destroyed our shul please help”

“Fire destroyed our shul please help” was the title of the email I received from my Rabbi in Miami, Rabbi Zeev Katz on Wednesday April 23. The desperate plea in his voice expresses how many of us, congregants of Chabad on Wheels in Miami Beach, feel today. I found out yesterday afternoon that my Jewish home and sanctuary for over two years, a place that had been integral to the development of my Jewish identity, had been devastated and its interior destroyed by an overnight fire. The fire is believed to have started around 2 am and cleared at around 7 am Tuesday morning, and the area is now under complete investigation as a potential arson / act of anti-Semitism. See below article about the incident for more info and a video at the scene.


Below is the Chabad website with images of the destruction and information on how to donate:


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Antisemitism, Bay-ond the Pale, Communities, Judaism | 1 Comment »

Happy Passover!: 20 Things to Do with Matzah

Posted by Oyster on April 18, 2008

Oh, my wily friends Michelle (aka Rosh Hashana Grrl) & Will (aka the Jewish Robot) are at it again!

From all of us here at Oy-Bay.org,

Wishing you and your families & loved ones a

Shabbat Shalom, v’Khag Pesakh Same’akh v’Kasher!

Looking for Passover stuff to do that’s not lame? Check out these offerings:

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Humor, Judaism, Oy Bay! | 1 Comment »