It’s May 4th.
To some, this means wookies, stormtroopers and May the Fourth Be With You. To others, it recalls a day in which a very different kind of Empire struck back. 45 years ago today, the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio.
But you knew that. Crosy, Stills, Nash and Young even wrote a song about it. What you may not know, however, is that three of the “four dead in Ohio” were Jewish. In fact, the campus Hillel has played an active role in planning the commemorations that have taken place on campus annually, since 1971.
Allison Krause, 19, out to protest the U.S. military incursion into Cambodia, and Sandra Scheuer, 20, who was walking to class, were both Jewish. As was Jeffrey Miller, 20, whose limp body is shown in the famous picture above. William Schroeder, a 19-year-old innocent bystander, was not.
Nine other people were wounded by the spray of bullets.
Here’s how John Kifner of The New York Times described the events in 1970:
The crackle of the rifle volley cut the suddenly still air. It appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer.
Some of the students dived to the ground, crawling on the grass in terror. Others stood shocked or half crouched, apparently believing the troops were firing into the air. Some of the rifle barrels were pointed upward.
Near the top of the hill at the corner of Taylor Hall, a student crumpled over, spun sideways and fell to the ground, shot in the head.
When the firing stopped, a slim girl, wearing a cowboy shirt and faded jeans, was lying face down on the road at the edge of the parking lot, blood pouring out onto the macadam, about 10 feet from this reporter.
Ashley Manning, a Kent State English major and president of the May 4 Task Force, was in charge of planning this year’s memorial.
“May 4th is an event which carries with it not only tragedy and pain but also an undeniable legacy of persistence, struggles for justice and student activism,” she told the local FOX affiliate. “This is a legacy which we have worked to keep alive all these years by planning the annual commemorations and which, this year, is reflected in our program theme ‘The Persistence of Memory.’”
Happy 90th, Hillel!
The venerable organization may have started in 1923, but they’re saving the party to coincide with the end of the first school year, “more like a graduation anniversary.”
To kick-off the festivities in style, Hillel has launched a (surprisingly fun) website guaranteed to keep you from whatever immediate task you’re meant to be getting done. There’s a “How Jew Are You?” quiz — Golda Meir, Natalie Portman, Albert Einstein are all possibilities — a guess the beard game (Hillel himself should win a prize for his), and memes. Lots of memes.
The site also gives current and former students the chance to send in stories on how Hillel shaped their college experience, a series of e-cards to spread the birthday cheer (“Grumpy Katz” sends his love), and an impressive collection of archival photos sprinkled through a detailed timeline of the organization’s long history.
If you like what you see, you can even “slip a little cash in the birthday envelope,” (ie. donate), ultimately the point of this elaborate production. But hey, at least they make it fun.
Anne Grant collects T-shirts. Not just any T-shirts. Jewish T-shirts.
The 23-year-old has roughly 100 of them, purchased through eBay, donated by friends, gathered from bar mitzvahs.
It all started about a year ago, when a friend showed her the Hillel sweatband she had gotten from the University of Pennsylvania. “I thought the object was really fascinating because it seemed to be appropriating from fraternity culture,” she said.
Slowly but surely, the collection grew, and Grant started to find meaning in the seemingly innocuous items. “I realized that this had potential to be a visual culture project,” she said. And so, Shmattes was born.
This emphasis on cultural Judaism was highlighted in the Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of American Jews,” in October 2013. The “negative” reactions she saw in the American Jewish community spurred Grant to redouble her collection efforts.
“I’m one of those people who identifies as culturally Jewish. It really irked me reading the Pew study and seeing culturally Jewish people getting the shaft from Jewish institutions. I’m of the mind that you can’t throw trips at people in the hopes of molding them into the kind of Jew you want.”
Grant, who says she “wasn’t raised Jewish at all,” actually ended up majoring in Jewish studies at the University of Virginia. She’s now pursuing a PhD at Vanderbilt University focusing on cultural Judaism.
What do fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz Tito, Brazilian soccer star Pelé and financier George Soros have in common? They all share an interest in Esperanto, an invented language whose goal is to unite humankind.
“Nekredebla,” you might be thinking (that’s Esperanto for “incredible”). But not so quick — other well known figures have also supported the language, including Leo Tolstoy, the grand old man of European letters.
On December 15 some 70 Esperanto enthusiasts descended on a building near the United Nations for the Universal Esperanto Association’s Zamenhof Symposium 2010. The meeting drew people from a wide range of ages, religions and backgrounds. Human rights lawyer Ugoji Eze, born of a Jewish mother and Nigerian father and a member of Young Israel of West Hempstead, was not an atypical participant.
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jonathan D. Sarna writes about “Great Jews Since Bible Times” by Elma Ehrlich Levinger.
My first Jewish history book recounted the entire story of “great Jews since bible times” in 160 pages.
One of many children’s books written by the writer and educator Elma Ehrlich Levinger, “Great Jews Since Bible Times,” published in 1926, introduced me to a wide range of fascinating characters, 35 in all, from Akiba to Zangwill, and from the Talmud to the 20th century — complete with illustrations. Individual chapters recounted the story of “Hillel, the poor student,” who, when he had no money to pay the door-keeper of his Jewish school, eavesdropped on lessons from the roof, and almost froze to death in a snowstorm; Abraham Ibn Ezra, “The Happy Traveler,” who traversed the world of his day, composing poetry; the philosophers Philo and Spinoza; even the false messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.
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