‘Silence Is Not Golden,’ Jarvis Says at King Tribute

ON THE GO

By Masha Leon

Published February 06, 2004, issue of February 06, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An inspiring tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. by the Consulate General of Israel, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the Jewish National Fund was hosted by Israel’s consul general, Alon Pinkas, at his residence. The January 22 event honored Rep. Gregory Meeks, former St. Johns basketball coach Mike Jarvis and Baraka Sele, assistant vice president of programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Referring to the trip he took to Israel this summer with Meeks, JCRC of NY executive vice president Michael Miller recalled: “The bus driver announced there’d been a suicide [bombing nearby].… The next day, Meeks visited Hadassah Hospital.… He was a tower of strength.” An angry Meeks said: “I don’t know why people don’t get it! Boys and girls eating in the back of a restaurant for fear of someone coming in and blowing them up.” Citing Rabbi Marc Schneier’s “Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. & the Jewish Community,” Meeks said: “If not for the Jewish people working with Dr. King, America would not be what it is today…. If not for Martin Luther King, I would not be a congressman today.”

Jarvis lamented, “A few days before Christmas, I was given my walking papers.” In an aside, Pinkas consoled him: “Your tenure is longer than Israeli governments’.” On a somber note, Jarvis said: “People watch things happen… atrocities against Jews.… Silence is not golden. We must continue to speak the truth and say things that need to be said and not worry if anyone is going to be offended by it.”

Baraka Sele described the 1968 conflagration “that nearly killed me, my mother and brother in a small white rural community… outside of Detroit… when our white next-door neighbor set fire to our home with us inside and poisoned our dog…. When the fire department and police arrived… no neighbors came forward to incriminate the monster.… So, on that night, an 18-year-old black girl decided that everything Dr. King stood for was, in fact, a nightmare come true.”

“For more than 20 years I have been bringing together artists of cultures from all over the world.… Excellence in the arts knows no cultural, racial, ethnic, religious or social boundaries. I found this to be true in my journeys to Israel.” Sele expressed amazement at “the legacy of trees [for the honorees] to be planted [by JNF] in the Martin Luther King Forest in Israel.”

* * *

After placing a small ad in The New Yorker for her CD “Songs in the Key of Yiddish,” former Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre artistic director Eleanor Reissa received more than 100 replies, including one from an American soldier now serving in Iraq. “Dear meydele,” he wrote in an e-mail to Reissa, “Missed breakfast to go into the field because [the] military found improvised explosive devices.… Missed lunch supervising Kurds installing a fence.… Missed dinner, as spent time in a bunker after seeing incoming fire.… I’ll try to hear it… but it’s lights-out in helmets and vests.”

* * *

Late last month I relished seeing the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players in “H.M.S. Pinafore,” with its spoof of class distinctions, and “The Mikado,” with its bribery-addicted Pooh-Bah whose portrayal of the corrupting influence of power is as relevant in 2004 as it was in 1885. As in the past years, the latter musical included an updated “Little List” of “people who won’t be missed” that included: “trilaterists, spammers… and compassionate conservatives who sing, ‘Give war a chance.’”

Coincidentally, the Gilbert & Sullivan Yiddish Light Opera Company of Long Island was wowing audiences in a seven-city Florida tour of “Di Yam Gazlonim” (based on “The Pirates of Penzance”). When Al Grand, who provided the masterful and hysterically funny translation, called me upon his return from Florida, I passed along regards from Albert Bergeret, artistic director of the New York G&S Players (whose company will be touring cross-country). In English or in Yiddish, try not to miss it!






Find us on Facebook!
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.