Stephen Schwartz


Traces of Trotsky, Remnants of a Rebbe: A Hunt for Icons

By Stephen Schwartz

Democracy took a half-step forward in Kazakhstan when the September 19 parliamentary elections resulted in victory for Otan, the party that supports President Nursultan Nazarbayev and is expected to take seven of the 10 seats in the lower house. True, monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe declared that the electionRead More


Philadelphia Story

By Stephen Schwartz

For someone who has searched out the traces of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, the story is hauntingly familiar: a cemetery “neglected, vandalized, and filled with trash, listed on the City’s roster of abandoned properties,” as the words of a fundraising appeal put it. Nestled among the almost total disarray are toppled memorial stones,Read More


Ex-Soviet Republic Counts Many Critics, Few Friends

By Stephen Schwartz

The ex-Soviet republic of Uzbekistan is the largest and wealthiest of the core states of Central Asia, and it is home to 23 million citizens, 88% of whom are Muslim. Few Americans can find it — or its capital, Tashkent — on a map, a point that was highlighted in a popular American TV sitcom, “The George Lopez Show,” in which a teenagerRead More


Historic Cemetery in Serbia Desecrated

By Stephen Schwartz

BELGRADE, Serbia — A firestorm of commentary has broken out in the Serbian media, stoked by a former president of the Bosnian Jewish community who is raising an alarm over the desecration of a historic Jewish cemetery in the city of Nis.Ivan Ceresnjes, who served as president of the Jewish community in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war of 1992-95,Read More


Balkan Dreams, Modern Realities; Sarajevo, Center of Sephardism

By Stephen Schwartz

Of the friends I have made in my Balkan travels, there is nobody alive who is dearer to me, in certain respects, than professor Muhamed Nezirovic´ of the University of Sarajevo. Born in Sarajevo in 1934, in the mixed Muslim and Serb mahala, or neighborhood, of Nadmlini, Hamo — as he is universally known — and his family had strongRead More






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    • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
    • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
    • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
    • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
    • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
    • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
    • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
    • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
    • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
    • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
    • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
    • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
    • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
    • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
    • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
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