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Best podcasts about American Jewish Committee

Latest podcast episodes about American Jewish Committee

The Greek Current
Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Greek experience, and its relevance today

The Greek Current

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 27, 2023 16:11


Every year on January 27 we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. While this is a story of great pain and sorrow, as the Greek experience shows us, it's also an opportunity to remember the brave individuals who decided to stand up to hate no matter the consequences - the Righteous Among The Nations. David Harris, a lifelong friend of Greece and the previous CEO of the American Jewish Committee, joins Thanos Davelis as we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, the story of Greece during the Holocaust, and its special relevance today given the alarming rise in antisemitism. You can read the articles we discuss on our podcast here:Reserve off Crete is promisingTurkey: Sweden complicit in hate crime, NATO talks pointlessTurkey says it is "meaningless" to restore NATO dialogue with Sweden, Finland 

NEVER AGAIN IS NOW Podcast
Germany -- Remko Leemhuis -- Far right movements in Germany -- Ep. #74

NEVER AGAIN IS NOW Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2023 40:42


Far right groups in Germany -- with their antisemitic beliefs -- are growing in Germany today. What can we elsewhere in the world learn from this discussion with the director of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin that can help us speak up against antisemitism? Check out https://www.ajc.org/translatehate

Seeking Sinai
Addressing Antisemitism: Hanukkah Edition

Seeking Sinai

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2022 32:38


Join Rabbi Natan for a special panel discussion with guests, Dov Wilker, Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee and Eytan Davidson, Regional Director of the ADL, along with our own Rabbi Samantha Trief. Together they will analyze some of the recent, antisemitic events that have taken up the headlines. Brought to you by Sinai's antisemitism task force as a special follow-up to our conversation, Addressing Antisemitism, a few months ago. 

AJC Passport
Celebrating Mizrahi Heritage Month with The Forgotten Exodus: Iran

AJC Passport

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2022 37:56


Too few people know that parts of the Arab world and Iran were once home to large Jewish communities. This Mizrahi Heritage Month, let's change the story, with the final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, the first-ever narrative podcast series devoted exclusively to the rich, fascinating, and often-overlooked history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewry. Thank you for lifting up these stories to celebrate Mizrahi Heritage Month. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to listen to the rest of The Forgotten Exodus, wherever you get your podcasts.   __ Home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, the story of Jews in Iran has been one of prosperity and suffering through the millennia. During the mid-20th century, when Jews were being driven from their homes in Arab lands, Iran assisted Jewish refugees in providing safe passage to Israel. Under the Shah, Israel was an important economic and political ally. Yet that all swiftly changed in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ushered in Islamic rule, while chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” rang out from the streets of Tehran.   Author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian shares her personal story of growing up Jewish in Iran during the reign of the Shah and then Ayatollah Khomeini, which she wrote about in her memoir Journey From the Land of No. Joining Hakakian is Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history who wrote From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of AJC Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants.  In this sixth and final episode of the season, the Hakakian family's saga captures the common thread that has run throughout this series – when the history of an uprooted community is left untold, it can become vulnerable to others' narratives and assumptions, or become lost forever and forgotten. How do you leave behind a beloved homeland, safeguard its Jewish legacy, and figure out where you belong? __ Show notes: Listen to The Forgotten Exodus and sign up to receive updates about future episodes.  Song credits:  Chag Purim · The Jewish Guitar Project Hevenu Shalom · Violin Heart Pond5:  “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Oud Nation”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Haygaz Yossoulkanian (BMI), IPI#1001905418 “Persian”: Publisher: STUDEO88; Composer: Siddhartha Sharma “Meditative Middle Eastern Flute”: Publisher: N/; Composer: DANIELYAN ASHOT MAKICHEVICH (IPI NAME #00855552512), UNITED STATES BMI Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Persian Investigative Mystery”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Peter Cole (BMI), IPI#679735384 “Persian Wind”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Sigma (SESAC); Composer: Abbas Premjee (SESAC), IPI#572363837 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Persian Fantasy Tavern”: Publisher: N/A; Composer: John Hoge “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. ___ Episode Transcript: ROYA HAKAKIAN: In 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. When I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus.  Today's episode: Leaving Iran MANYA: Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. Yes, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2022. Though there is no official census, experts estimate about 10,000 Jews now live in the region previously known as Persia.  But since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Jews in Iran don't advertise their Jewish identity. They adhere to Iran's morality code: women stay veiled from head to toe and men and women who aren't married or related stay apart in public. They don't express support for Israel, they don't ask questions, and they don't disagree with the regime. One might ask, with all these don'ts, is this a way of living a Jewish life? Or a way to live – period?  For author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian and her family, the answer was ultimately no. Roya has devoted her life to being a fact-finder and truth-teller. A former associate producer at the CBS news show 60 Minutes and a Guggenheim Fellow, Roya has written two volumes of poetry in Persian and three books of nonfiction in English, the first of which was published in 2004 – Journey From the Land of No, a memoir about her charmed childhood and accursed adolescence growing up Jewish in Iran under two different regimes.  ROYA: It was hugely important for me to create an account that could be relied on as a historic document. And I did my best through being very, very careful about gathering, interviewing, talking to, observing facts, evidence, documents from everyone, including my most immediate members of my family, to do what we, both as reporters, but also as Jews, are called to do, which is to bear witness. No seemed to be the backdrop of life for women, especially of religious minorities, and, in my own case, Jewish background, and so I thought, what better way to name the book than to call it as what my experience had been, which was the constant nos that I heard. So, Land of No was Iran. MANYA: As a journalist, as a Jew, as a daughter of Iran, Roya will not accept no for an answer. After publishing her memoir, she went on to write Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, a meticulously reported book about a widely underreported incident. In 1992 at a Berlin restaurant, a terrorist attack by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted and killed four Iranian-Kurdish exiles. The book highlighted Iran's enormous global footprint made possible by its terror proxies who don't let international borders get in the way of silencing Iran's critics.   Roya also co-founded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an independent non-profit that reports on Iran's human rights abuses.  Her work has not prompted Ayatollah Khameini to publicly issue a fatwa against her  – like the murder order against Salman Rushdie issued by his predecessor. But in 2019, one of her teenage sons answered a knock at the door. It was the FBI, warning her that she was in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime's operatives in America. Most recently, Roya wrote A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious about the emotional roller coaster of arriving in America while still missing a beloved homeland, especially one where their community has endured for thousands of years. ROYA: I felt very strongly that one stays in one's homeland, that you don't just simply take off when things go wrong, that you stick around and try to figure a way through a bad situation. We came to the point where staying didn't seem like it would lead to any sort of real life and leaving was the only option. MANYA: The story of Jews in Iran, often referred to as Persia until 1935, is a millennia-long tale. A saga of suffering, repression, and persecution, peppered with brief moments of relief or at least relative peace – as long as everyone plays by the rules of the regime. SABA SOOMEKH: The history of Jews in Iran goes back to around 2,700 years ago. And a lot of people assume that Jews came to Iran, well at that time, it was called the Persian Empire, in 586 BCE, with the Babylonian exile. But Jews actually came a lot earlier, we're thinking 721-722 BCE with the Assyrian exile which makes us one of the oldest Jewish communities.  MANYA: That's Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history and the author of From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. Saba's parents fled Iran in 1978, shortly before the revolution, when Saba and her sister were toddlers. She has devoted her career to preserving Iranian Jewish history.   Saba said Zoroastrian rulers until the 7th Century Common Era vacillated between tolerance and persecution of Jews. For example, according to the biblical account in the Book of Ezra, Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian rule, granted all of them citizenship, and permitted them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple.  The Book of Esther goes on to tell the story of another Persian king, believed to be Xerxes I, whose closest adviser called Haman conspires to murder all the Jews – a plot that is foiled by his wife Queen Esther who is Jewish herself. Esther heroically pleads for mercy on behalf of her people – a valor that is celebrated on the Jewish holiday of Purim.  But by the time of the Islamic conquest in the middle of the 7th Century Common Era, the persecution had become so intense that Jews were hopeful about the new Arab Muslim regime, even if that meant being tolerated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmi status. But that status had a different interpretation for the Safavids. SABA: Really things didn't get bad for the Jews of the Persian Empire until the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty, because within Shia Islam in the Persian Empire, what they brought with them is this understanding of purity and impurity. And Jews were placed in the same category as dogs, pigs, and feces. They were seen as being religiously impure, what's referred to as najes. MANYA: Jews were placed in ghettos called mahaleh, where they wore yellow stars and special shoes to distinguish them from the rest of the population. They could not leave the mahaleh when it rained for fear that if water rolled off their bodies into the water system, it would render a Shia Muslim impure. For the same reason, they could not go to the bazaars for fear they might contaminate the food. They could not look Muslims in the eye. They were relegated to certain artisanal professions such as silversmithing and block printing – crafts that dirtied one's hands.  MANYA: By the 19th century, some European Jews did make their way to Persia to help. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based network of schools founded by French Jewish intellectuals, opened schools for Jewish children throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including within the mahalehs in Persia.  SABA: They saw themselves as being incredibly sophisticated because they were getting this, in a sense, secular European education, they were speaking French. The idea behind the Allianz schools was exactly that. These poor Middle Eastern Jews, one day the world is going to open up to them, their countries are going to become secular, and we need to prepare them for this, not only within the context of hygiene, but education, language.  And the Allianz schools were right when it came to the Persian Empire because who came into power was Reza Pahlavi, who was a Francophile. And he turned around and said, ‘Wow! Look at the population that speaks French, that knows European philosophy, etc. are the Jews.' He brought them out of the mahaleh, the Jewish ghettos, and said ‘I don't care about religion. Assimilate and acculturate. As long as you show, in a sense, devotion, and nationalism to the Pahlavi regime, which the Jews did—not all Jews—but a majority of them did. MANYA: Reza Pahlavi took control in 1925 and 16 years later, abdicated his throne to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1935, Persia adopted a new name: Iran. As king or the Shah, both father and son set Iran on a course of secularization and rapid modernization under which Jewish life and success seemed to flourish. The only condition was that religious observance was kept behind closed doors. SABA: The idea was that in public, you were secular and in private, you were a Jew. You had Shabbat, you only married a Jew, it was considered blasphemous if you married outside of the Jewish community. And it was happening because people were becoming a part of everyday schools, universities.  But that's why the Jewish day schools became so important. They weren't learning Judaism. What it did was ensure that in a secular Muslim society, that the Jewish kids were marrying within each other and within the community. It was, in a sense, the Golden Age. And that will explain to you why, unlike the early 1950s, where you had this exodus of Mizrahi Jews, Arab Jews from the Arab world and North Africa, you didn't really have that in Iran.  MANYA: In fact, Iran provided a safe passage to Israel for Jewish refugees during that exodus, specifically those fleeing Iraq. The Pahlavi regime considered Israel a critical ally in the face of pan-Arab fervor and hostility in the region. Because of the Arab economic boycott, Israel needed energy sources and Iran needed customers for its oil exports.  A number of Israelis even moved to Tehran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture, and doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital who had come to teach medicine.  El Al flew in and out of Tehran airport, albeit from a separate terminal. Taking advantage of these warm relations between the two countries, Roya recalls visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins in Israel.  ROYA: We arrived, and my mom and dad did what all visiting Jews from elsewhere do. They dropped to their knees, and they started kissing the ground. I did the same, and it was so moving. Israel was the promised land, we thought about Israel, we dreamed about Israel. But, at the same time, we were Iranians and, and we were living in Iran, and things were good.  This seems to non-Iranian Jews an impossibility. But I think for most of us, it was the way things were. We lived in the country where we had lived for, God knows how many years, and there was this other place that we somehow, in the back of our minds thought we would be going to, without knowing exactly when, but that it would be the destination. MANYA: Relations between the Shah and America flourished as well. In 1951, a hugely popular politician by the name of Mohammad Mosaddegh became prime minister and tried to institute reforms. His attempts to nationalize the oil industry and reduce the monarchy's authority didn't go over well. American and British intelligence backed a coup that restored the Shah's power. Many Iranians resented America's meddling, which became a rallying cry for the revolution. U.S. officials have since expressed regret for the CIA's involvement.  In November 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Shah and his wife to Washington, D.C., to discuss peace between Egypt and Israel, nuclear nonproliferation, and the energy crisis.  As an extension of these warm relations, the Shah sent many young Iranians to America to enhance their university studies, exposing them to Western ideals and values.  Meanwhile, a savvy fundamentalist cleric was biding his time in a Paris basement. It wouldn't be long before relations crumbled between Iran and Israel, Iran and the U.S,. and Iran and its Jews.  Roya recalls the Hakakian house at the corner of Alley of the Distinguished in Tehran as a lush oasis surrounded by fragrant flowers, full of her father's poetry, and brimming with family memories. Located in the heart of a trendy neighborhood, across the street from the Shah's charity organization, the tall juniper trees, fragrant honeysuckle, and gold mezuzah mounted on the door frame set it apart from the rest of the homes.  Roya's father, Haghnazar, was a poet and a respected headmaster at a Hebrew school. Roya, which means dream in Persian, was a budding poet herself with the typical hopes and dreams of a Jewish teenage girl.  ROYA: Prior to the revolution, life in an average Tehran Hebrew Day School looked very much like life in a Hebrew Day School anywhere else. In the afternoons we had all Hebrew and Jewish studies. We used to put on a Purim show every year. I wanted to be Esther. I never got to be Esther. We had emissaries, I think a couple of years, from Israel, who came to teach us how to do Israeli folk dance. MANYA: There were moments when Roya recalls feeling self-conscious about her Jewishness, particularly at Passover. That's when the family spent two weeks cleaning, demonstrating they weren't najes, or dirty Jews. The work was rewarded when the house filled with the fragrance of cumin and saffron and Persian dishes flowed from the kitchen, including apple and plum beef stew, tarragon veal balls stuffed with raisins, and rice garnished with currants and slivers of almonds.  When her oldest brother Alberto left to study in America, a little fact-finding work on Roya's part revealed that his departure wasn't simply the pursuit of a promising opportunity. As a talented cartoonist whose work had been showcased during an exhibition in Tehran, his family feared Alberto's pen might have gone too far, offending the Pahlavi regime and drawing the attention of the Shah's secret police.  Reports of repression, rapid modernization, the wide gap between Tehran's rich and the rest of the country's poor, and a feeling that Iranians weren't in control of their own destiny all became ingredients for a revolution, stoked by an exiled cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini who was recording cassette tapes in a Paris basement and circulating them back home.  SABA: He would just sit there and go on and on for hours, going against the Shah and West toxification. And then the recordings ended up in Iran. He wasn't even in Iran until the Shah left. MANYA: Promises of democracy and equality galvanized Iranians of all ages to overthrow the Shah in February 1979. Even the CIA was surprised.  SABA: I think a lot of people didn't believe it. Because number one, the Shah, the son, was getting the most amount of military equipment from the United States than anyone in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. And the idea was: you protect us in the Gulf, and we will give you whatever you need. So they never thought that a man with a beard down to his knee was able to overthrow this regime that was being propped up and supported by America, and also the Europeans. Khomeini comes in and represents himself as a person for everyone. And he was brilliant in the way he spoke about it. And the reason why this revolution was also successful was that it wasn't just religious people who supported Khomeini, there was this concept you had, the men with the turbans, meaning the religious people, and the you know, the bow ties or the ties, meaning the secular man, a lot of them who were sent by the Shah abroad to Europe and America to get an education, who came back, saw democracy there, and wanted it for their country.  MANYA: Very few of the revolutionaries could predict that Tehran was headed in the opposite direction and was about to revert to 16th Century Shia Islamic rule. For almost a year, Tehran and the rest of the nation were swept up in revolutionary euphoria.  Roya recalls how the flag remained green, white, and red, but an Allah insignia replaced its old sword-bearing lion. New currency was printed, with portraits bearing beards and turbans. An ode to Khomeini became the new national anthem. While the Shah had escaped on an Air France flight, corpses of his henchmen graced the front pages of newspapers alongside smiling executioners. All celebrated, until the day one of the corpses was Habib Elghanian, the Jewish philanthropist who supported all of Iran's Hebrew schools. Charged and convicted as a Zionist spy.  Elders in the community remembered the insurmountable accusations of blood libel during darker times for Iran's Jews. But younger generations like Roya's, who had not lived through the eras of more ruthless antisemitism and persecution, continued to root for the revolution, regardless of its victims. Meanwhile, Roya's Jewish day school was taken over by a new veiled headmistress who replaced Hebrew lessons with other kinds of religious instruction, and required robes and headscarves for all the students.  ROYA: In the afternoons, from then on, we used to have lessons in a series of what she called: ‘Is religion something that you inherit, or is it something that you choose?' And so I think the intention, clearly, was to convince us that we didn't need to inherit our religions from our parents and ancestors, that we ought to consider better choices. MANYA: But when the headmistress cut short the eight-day Passover break, that was the last straw for Roya and her classmates. Their revolt got her expelled from school.  Though Jews did not universally support Khomeini, some saw themselves as members of the Iranian Communist, or Tudeh Party. They opposed the Shah and the human rights abuses of his monarchy and cautiously considered Khomeini the better option, or at least the lesser of two evils. Alarmed by the developments such as Elghanian's execution and changes like the ones at Roya's school, Jewish community leaders traveled to the Shia holy city of Qom to assure the Supreme Leader of their loyalty to Iran.  SABA: They did this because they wanted to make sure that they protected the Jewish community that was left in Iran. Khomeini made that distinction: ‘I am not against Jews, I'm against Zionists. You could be Jewish in this country. You cannot be a Zionist in this country.'  MANYA: But that wasn't the only change. Right away, the Family Protection Law was reversed, lifting a law against polygamy, giving men full rights in divorce and custody, and lowering the marriage age for girls to nine. Women were banned from serving as judges, and beaches and sports events were segregated by gender.  But it took longer to shut down universities, albeit for only two years, segregate public schools by gender, and stone to death women who were found to have committed adultery. Though Khomeini was certainly proving that he was not the man he promised to be, he backed away from those promises gradually – one brutal crackdown at a time. As a result, the trickle of Jews out of Iran was slow.  ROYA: My father thought, let's wait a few years and see what happens. In retrospect, I think the overwhelming reason was probably that nobody believed that things had changed, and so drastically. It seemed so unbelievable. I mean, a country that had been under monarchy for 2,500 years, couldn't simply see it all go and have a whole new system put in place, especially when it was such a radical shift from what had been there before. So I think, in many ways, we were among the unbelievers, or at least my father was, we thought it could never be, it would not happen. My father proved to be wrong, nothing changed for the better, and the conditions continued to deteriorate. So, so much catastrophe happened in those few years that Iran just simply was steeped into a very dark, intense, and period of political radicalism and also, all sorts of economic shortages and pressures. And so the five years that we were left behind, that we stayed back, changed our perspective on so many things. MANYA: In November 1979, a group of radical university students who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seized hostages, and held them for 444 days until President Ronald Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981. During the hostages' captivity, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The conflict that ensued for eight years created shortages on everything from dairy products to sanitary napkins. Mosques became distribution centers for rations. ROYA: We stood in line for hours and hours for eggs, and just the very basic things of daily life. And then it became also clear that religious minorities, including Jews, would no longer be enjoying the same privileges as everyone else. There were bombings that kept coming closer and closer to Tehran, which is where we lived. It was very clear that half of my family that was in the United States could not and would not return, because they were boys who would have been conscripted to go to war. Everything had just come apart in a way that was inconceivable to think that they would change for the better again. MANYA: By 1983, new laws had been passed instituting Islamic dress for all women – violations of which earned a penalty of 74 lashes. Other laws imposed an Islamic morality code that barred co-ed gatherings. Roya and her friends found refuge in the sterile office building that housed the Jewish Iranian Students Association. But she soon figured out that the regime hadn't allowed it to remain for the benefit of the Jewish community. It functioned more like a ghetto to keep Jews off the streets and out of their way. Even the activities that previously gave her comfort were marred by the regime. Poetry books were redacted. Mountain hiking trails were arbitrarily closed to mourn the deaths of countless clerics.  SABA: Slowly what they realize, when Khomeini gained power, was that he was not the person that he claimed to be. He was not this feminist, if anything, all this misogynistic rule came in, and a lot of people realize they, in a sense, got duped and he stole the revolution from them. MANYA: By 1984, the war with Iraq had entered its fourth year. But it was no longer about protecting Iran from Saddam Hussein. Now the Ayatollah wanted to conquer Baghdad, then Jerusalem where he aspired to deliver a sermon from the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim soldiers wounded in the war chose to bleed rather than receive treatment from Jewish doctors. Boys as young as 12 – regardless of faith – were drafted and sent on suicide missions to open the way for Iranian troops to do battle.  SABA: They were basically used as an army of children that the bombs would detonate, their parents would get a plastic key that was the key to heaven. And the bombs would detonate, and then the army would come in Iranian army would come in. And so that's when a lot of the Persian parents, the Jewish parents freaked out. And that's when they were like: we're getting out of here.  MANYA: By this time, the Hakakian family had moved into a rented apartment building and Roya was attending the neighborhood school. Non-Muslim students were required to take Koran classes and could only use designated water fountains and bathrooms.  As a precaution, Roya's father submitted their passports for renewal. Her mother's application was denied; Roya's passport was held for further consideration; her father's was confiscated.  One night, Roya returned home to find her father burning her books and journals on the balcony of their building. The bonfire of words was for the best, he told her. And at long last, so was leaving. With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Roya and her mother, Helen, fled to Geneva, and after wandering in Europe for several months, eventually reunited with her brothers in the United States. Roya did not see her father again for five years. Still unable to acquire a passport, he was smuggled out of Iran into Pakistan, on foot.  ROYA: My eldest brother left to come to America in the mid-70s. There was a crack in the body of the family then. But then came 1979, and my two other brothers followed. And so we were apart for all those very, very formative years. And then, in 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. So, you know, it's interesting that when I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA: While her father's arrival in America was delayed, Roya describes her arrival in stages. She first arrived as a Jewish refugee in 1985 and found her place doing what she had always done – writing in Persian – rebuilding a body of work that had been reduced to ashes.  ROYA: As a teen I had become a writer, people were encouraging me. So, I continued to do it. It was the thing I knew how to do. And it gave me a sense of grounding and identity. So, I kept on doing it, and it kind of worked its magic, as I suppose good writing does for all writers. It connected me to a new community of people who read Persian and who appreciated what I was trying to do. And I found that with each book that I write, I find a new tribe for myself.  MANYA: She arrived again once she learned English. In her first year at Brooklyn College, she tape-recorded her professors to listen again later. She eventually took a course with renowned poet Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry was best known for its condemnation of persecution and imperial politics and whose 1950s poem “Howl” tested the boundaries of America's freedom of speech.  ROYA: When I mastered the language enough to feel comfortable to be a writer once more, then I found a footing and through Allen and a community of literary people that I met here began to kind of foresee a possibility of writing in English. MANYA: There was also her arrival to an American Jewish community that was largely unaware of the role Jews played in shaping Iran long before the advent of Islam. Likewise, they were just as unaware of the role Iran played in shaping ancient Jewish life. They were oblivious to the community's traditions, and the indignities and abuses Iranian Jews had suffered, continue to suffer, with other religious minorities to keep those traditions alive in their homeland.   ROYA: People would say, ‘Oh, you have an accent, where are you from?' I would say, ‘Iran,' and the Jews at the synagogue would say, ‘Are there Jews in Iran?' MANYA: In Roya's most recent book A Beginner's Guide to America, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, she reflects on the lessons learned and the observations made once she arrived in the U.S. She counsels newcomers to take their time answering what might at first seem like an ominous or loaded question. Here's an excerpt: ROYA: “In the early days after your arrival, “Where are you from?” is above all a reminder of your unpreparedness to speak of the past. You have yet to shape your story – what you saw, why you left, how you left, and what it took to get here. This narrative is your personal Book of Genesis: the American Volume, the one you will sooner or later pen, in the mind, if not on the page. You must take your time to do it well and do it justice.” MANYA: No two immigrants' experiences are the same, she writes. The only thing they all have in common is that they have been uprooted and the stories of their displacement have been hijacked by others' assumptions and agendas. ROYA: I witnessed, as so many other Iranian Jews witness, that the story of how we came, why we came, who we had been, was being narrated by those who had a certain partisan perspective about what the history of what Jewish people should be, or how this history needs to be cast, for whatever purposes they had. And I would see that our own recollections of what had happened were being shaded by, or filtered through views other than our own, or facts other than our own. MANYA: As we wrap up this sixth and final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, it is clear that the same can be said about the stories of the Jewish people. No two tales are the same. Jews have lived everywhere, and there are reasons why they don't anymore. Some fled as refugees. Some embarked as dreamers. Some forged ahead without looking back. Others counted the days until they could return home. What ties them together is their courage, perseverance, and resilience–whether they hailed from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or parts beyond. These six episodes offer only a handful of those stories–shaped by memories and experiences. ROYA: That became sort of an additional incentive, if not burden for me to, to be a witness for several communities, to tell the story of what happened in Iran for American audiences, to Jews, to non-Iranian Jews who didn't realize that there were Jews in Iran, but also to record the history, according to how I had witnessed it, for ourselves, to make sure that it goes down, as I knew it. MANYA: Iranian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left their homes in the Middle East to forge new lives for themselves and future generations.  Many thanks to Roya for sharing her family's story and for helping us wrap up this season of The Forgotten Exodus. If you're listening for the first time, check out our previous episodes on Jews from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Go to ajc.org/theforgottenexodus where you'll also find transcripts, show notes, and family photos. There are still so many stories to tell. Stay tuned in coming months. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories.  Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891.1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to theforgottenexodus@ajc.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus.  Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC.  You can reach us at theforgottenexodus@ajc.org. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.

Kehillat Israel Podcasts
Understanding and Responding to Antisemitism

Kehillat Israel Podcasts

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2022 65:33


In trhis capitvating talk, Rick Hirschhaut, Los Angeles Director of the American Jewish Committee, discusses the challenge of antisemitism in today's world. The session was presented by Kehillat Israel via Zoom on November 28, 2022. Hirschhaut is a longtime civil rights advocate and Jewish communal leader who has served in senior executive roles with the Anti-Defamation League, Illinois Holocaust Museum, and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  He has worked to advance human rights and democratic values and promote the security and well-being of Jews and other vulnerable communities in the United States, Israel and around the world. Rick Hirschhaut is introduced by Cantor Chayim Frenkel and Rabbi Daniel Sher.

Kan English
Top AJC official, celebrities need to call out other celebrities who promote hate and violence

Kan English

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 21, 2022 6:57


Amid rising antisemitism in the United States, Rabbi Noam Marans, director of Inter-religious and inter-group relations at the American Jewish Committee, said there needs to be a price when celebrities promote violence and hate. In an interview with reporter Arieh O'Sullivan, Marans called on responsible celebrity voices to call out fellow celebrities who cross the line.  (photo: Susan Walsh/AP)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Unstoppable Mindset
Episode 73 – Unstoppable Visionary and Two-Time Cancer Survivor with Howard Brown

Unstoppable Mindset

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2022 76:06


Yes, Howard Brown is a two-time cancer survivor. As you will discover in our episode, he grew up with an attitude to thrive and move forward. Throughout his life, he has learned about sales and the concepts of being a successful entrepreneur while twice battling severe cancer.   Howard's life story is one of those events worth telling and I hope you find it worth listening to. He even has written a book about all he has done. The book entitles Shining Brightly has just been released, but you get to hear the story directly from Howards' lips.   About the Guest: Howard Brown is an author, speaker, podcaster, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interfaith peacemaker, two-time stage IV cancer survivor, and healthcare advocate. For more than three decades, Howard's business innovations, leadership principles, mentoring and his resilience in beating cancer against long odds have made him a sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses, nonprofits, congregations, and community groups. In his business career, Howard was a pioneer in helping to launch a series of technology startups before he co-founded two social networks that were the first to connect religious communities around the world. He served his alma mater—Babson College, ranked by US News as the nation's top college for entrepreneurship—as a trustee and president of Babson's worldwide alumni network. His hard-earned wisdom about resilience after beating cancer twice has led him to become a nationally known patient advocate and “cancer whisperer” to many families. Visit Howard at ShiningBrightly.com to learn more about his ongoing work and contact him. Through that website, you also will find resources to help you shine brightly in your own corner of the world. Howard, his wife Lisa, and his daughter Emily currently reside in Michigan. About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.   Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards.   https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/   accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/       Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below!   Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app.   Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts.     Transcription Notes Michael Hingson  00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i  capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us.   Michael Hingson  01:20 Hi, and welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to interview Howard Brown, I'm not going to tell you a lot because I want him to tell his story. He's got a wonderful story to tell an inspiring story. And he's got lots of experiences that I think will be relevant for all of us and that we all get to listen to. So with that, Howard, welcome to unstoppable mindset.   Howard Brown  01:44 Thank you, Michael. I'm really pleased to be here. And thanks for having me on your show. And excited to talk to your audience and and share a little bit.   Michael Hingson  01:54 Well, I will say that Howard and I met through Podapolooza, which I've told you about in the past and event that brings podcasters would be podcasters. And people who want to be interviewed by podcasters together, and Howard will tell us which were several of those he is because he really is involved in a lot of ways. But why don't you start maybe by telling us a little bit about your, your kind of earlier life and introduce people to you and who you are. Sure, sure.   Howard Brown  02:23 So I'm from Boston. I can disguise the accent very well. But when I talked to my mother, we're back in Boston, we're packing a car. We're going for hot dogs and beans over to Fenway Park. So gotta get a soda. We're getting a soda, not a pop. So we add the Rs. They call my wife Lisa, not Lisa. But I grew up I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, a town called Framingham. And I'm a twin. And I'm very unusual. But a girl boy twin, my twin sister Cheryl. She goes by CJ is five minutes older. And I hold that I hold that now against her now that we're older and she didn't want to be older, but now she's my older sister, my big sister by five whole minutes.   Michael Hingson  03:09 Well, she's big sister, so she needs to take care of her baby brother   Howard Brown  03:12 says exactly. And she did. And we're gonna get to that because it's a really important point being a twin, which we'll get to in a second. But so Britta she Where does she live now? So she lives 40 minutes away from me here in Michigan.   Michael Hingson  03:25 Oh my gosh, you both have moved out of the area.   Howard Brown  03:27 So she she moved to Albany, New York. I moved to Southern then California, LA area and the beaches, and then Silicon Valley. And then the last 17 years we've all lived close. And we raised our families together here in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.   Michael Hingson  03:40 What got you to all go to Michigan?   Howard Brown  03:43 Well, for me, it was a choice. My wife is from Michigan, and I was in Silicon Valley. And we were Pat had a little girl Emily, who's four. There's a story there too. But we'll we decided we wanted her to grow up with a family and cousins and aunts and uncles and my in laws live here. My wife grew up here. And this made it closer for my parents and Boston suburbs to get here as well. So great place to raise a family very different from Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California.   Michael Hingson  04:12 Yeah, but don't you miss Steve's ice cream in Boston?   Howard Brown  04:15 I do. I miss the ice cream. I missed the cannolis in the Back Bay. I missed some of the Chinese food. So in the north end, but it just it I do, but I have not lived there. I went to college there at Babson College number one school for entrepreneurship. And then when I got my first job, I moved out to Ohio but then I moved back and well there's a whole story of why I had to move back as well but we'll get   Michael Hingson  04:41 there. So are your parents still living in Boston?   Howard Brown  04:46 They are and so my dad I call myself son of a boot man. My dad for 49 years has sold cowboy boots in New England in the in the in the western you know the states New York Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. And that's, you know, anyone who stayed somewhere for 49 years got to be applauded. And he's a straight commission boot salesman and he sold women's shoes prior to that. So he he's, he's a renaissance man.   Michael Hingson  05:15 Wow. So does he sell cowboy boots with snow treads as it were for the winter?   Howard Brown  05:21 No snow trends but, you know, like out west when you're working on, you know, on with cattle and working out west and sometimes it's a fashion statement. Not not too many places in New England like that. But he, he made a living, he enjoyed it. And he's, he's just about to retire at the age of 79. This year.   Michael Hingson  05:39 I remember living in Boston and and when I wear shoes with just leather soles, I slid around a lot on the sidewalks and all that so did get rubber rubbers to go over my boots and then later got real boots.   Howard Brown  05:54 Right. So I have the big hiking boots, the Timberlands, but I too have a pair of a you know, in Boston, we call them rabbits, rabbits, robins. And they basically are slip ons that gave you grip. They slipped right over your leather shoes. And you wore them when anyway in the snow and in those sloshing in the mess. Yeah.   Michael Hingson  06:12 And they worked really well. They did. So you went off to college. And I gather kind of almost right from the beginning you got involved in the whole idea of entrepreneurship.   Howard Brown  06:23 Well, I did I transferred to Babson from a liberal arts school called Connecticut College. I just I found out it wasn't for me and Babson College changed the trajectory of my entire life. i i I knew that I wanted to do sales and then later technology. But Babson was the catalyst for that. They just they support entrepreneurship of all kinds, no matter how you define it, and I just drank it in and I loved, I loved my time there. I love my learning there. And I continue to stay involved with Babson very closely as a past president of the Alumni Association, a former trustee, and very actively recruit students to go there and support student businesses. So it was a big impact on me and I continue to give back to it.   Michael Hingson  07:11 That's pretty cool. So how, how did you proceed as far as a career and entrepreneurial involvement as it were in in sales and all that?   Howard Brown  07:22 So I had an internship, I had wanted cellular one when cellular phones came out and I was basically learning the business. This is really early 1984 And five, and then I got another internship at NCR Corporation if you remember national cash register 120 year old company based out of Dayton, Ohio, and now it's in Atlanta, and it's, it's just not the same company. But I took an internship there a lot of Babson folks work there. And I worked as a trainer, sales installation rep. I trained waitresses, waiters, bartenders, hotel clerks, night audits, how to use cash register computer systems. So I was the teacher and a trainer. And I would, you know, talk to waitresses and waiters and bartenders and say you can make more tips by providing better service. But the way that you do that is you type you the order into a computer, it zaps it to the order station or the back to the back of the house to cook to prepare the foods or for the drinks. And you can spend more time servicing your table which should translate into higher tips. Well, about a third of them said nope, not for me, a third of them were need to be convinced and a third of them are like I'm in. I had a lot of fun doing that. And then after the shift, the either the manager or the owner would come over and they'd give you a savior at a Chinese food restaurant. They give you a poopoo platter to go to take home to your dorm room.   Michael Hingson  08:46 So I had a lot of fun, a lot of fun and a lot of good food.   Howard Brown  08:50 Sure sure. So that's what really started me off and hired me   Michael Hingson  08:55 so did that did that concept of tips and all that and advising people ever get you to translate that to Durgin Park?   Howard Brown  09:03 I actually did install the cashiers to computers area ago Daniel hall so the checkerboard you know draped you know cloth on the table and so you know it's there's a lot of good restaurants in Boston, you know the union Oyster House with a toothpick but I did countless restaurants hotels bars, you know it was I was basically at the whim of the Salesforce and there was a couple of us that went to go train and teach people and take the night shift and make sure everything was going smoothly as they installed the new system of course the no name restaurant and other one but well you know for for your listeners that no name was a place to get, you know, really great discounted seafood but you sat on a park bench. Remember that?   Michael Hingson  09:50 Right? Oh yeah, definitely. It wasn't. Well, neither was Durgin park, but I haven't kept up Is it still there?   Howard Brown  10:00 Yes, I believe it's still there.   Michael Hingson  10:01 Oh, good. I heard somewhere that, that it might not be because of COVID. But we enjoy   Howard Brown  10:07 down it shut down for a while during COVID I hope it's back open. I'm gonna have to go now. Yeah, you're gonna make me go check to see if it's open. But you know, many of them are still there. And obviously restaurants turn over. But that's a mainstay that's got a lot of history.   Michael Hingson  10:19 Oh, it does. And we had a lot of fun with the waitresses and so on at their Compac. I know, once we went there, and you know, the whole story, that Durgan is a place where you sit at family tables, unless we actually have four people then they'll let you sit at one of the tables for for around the outside. Well, there were three of us and my guide dog when we went in one time. And the hostess said, we're gonna put you at one of the tables for for just to give more room for the puppy dog. And she sat us down there. Then the waitress came over and as they are supposed to do at Durgan Park, she said, you're not supposed to sit here. There are only three of you. And I said there's a dog under the table. No, there's not. You can't fool me with that. And the waitress isn't supposed to be snotty, right. And she just kept going on and on about it. And I kept saying there is a dog under the table. She went away. And then she came back a little bit later. And she said, You've got to move and I said no. Why don't you just look, there's a dog under the table. You're not gonna make me fall for that. She finally looked. And there are these Golden Retriever puppy eyes staring back at her. She just melted. It was so much fun.   Howard Brown  11:26 Wouldn't be Boston if you didn't get a little attitude. Well, yeah, that's part of what it's all about your right next seating. And they just they sit you in a and they say, meet each other and be married.   Michael Hingson  11:38 Yeah, yeah. And it was a lot of fun. So how long did it take you to get to Silicon Valley?   Howard Brown  11:44 Well, so the story is that I did. I worked for NCR and I got hired by NCR, but I wanted out of the hospitality business. You know, even though he's young work until two, three in the morning, once they shut the restaurant or bar down or the hotel down, and then you do the night audit and you do the records. It was a hard life. So I looked and I did my research. And I said, you know who's who's making all the money here at NCR in the banking division. And it was really the early days of the outsourcing movement, punch cards, and you're outsourcing bank accounts, over 1200 baud modems. And I said, Well, that's interesting. And so I went to NCRs training at Sugar camp to learn how to be a salesperson were they actually in the early days, they filmed you, they taught you negotiation skills, competitive analysis, Industry Skills, it was fantastic. It's like getting an MBA today. But they did it all in six months, with mixing fieldwork in with, you know, training at this education facility in Dayton, Ohio. And I came out as a junior salesperson working for for very expansive experience, guys. And they just, I knew one thing, if I made them more productive, they'd make me money. And I did. And I, they sent me to banks and savings and loans and credit unions all over New England. And I basically learned the business of banking and outsourcing to these banks. And they made a lot of money. So that was how my career started. You can't do better than that. But to answer the question, because it's a little more complex than that. But it took me NCR in 1988. And then I moved out to Los Angeles in 1991, after a big health scare, which we'll talk about, and then I moved up in 2005. So there's the timeline to get me to Silicon Valley.   Michael Hingson  13:29 So you, you definitely moved around. I know that feeling well, having had a number of jobs and been required to live in various parts of the country when going back and forth from one coast to another from time to time. So you know, it's it's there. So you, you did all of that. And you You ended up obviously making some money and continuing to to be in the entrepreneurial world. But how does that translate into kind of more of an entrepreneurial spirit today?   Howard Brown  14:00 So great question, Michael. So what happened was is that I built a foundation. So at that time when you graduated school, and as far as for technology, the big computer shops like IBM Unisys, NCR, Hewlett Packard, what they did is they took you raw out of college, and they put you through their training program. And that training program was their version of the gospel of their of their products and your competitors and all that. And that built a great foundation. Well, I moved to Los Angeles after this big health scare, which I'm sure we're gonna go back and talk about, and I moved into the network products division. So I didn't stay in the banking division. I looked at the future and said voice data and video. I think there's the future there and I was right and AT and T bought NCR and, unfortunately, this is probably 1992. They also bought McCaw cellular they had just bought all of Eddie computer. They were a big company of five 600,000 employees and I have To tell you, the merger wasn't great. You felt like a number. And I knew that was my time. That was my time where I said, I got my foundation built. It's now time to go to a startup. So your time had come. My time had come. So at&t, offered early retirement for anyone 50 and older, and then they didn't get enough takers. So they offered early retirement for anyone that wanted to change. And so the talk around the watercooler was, let's wait they'll make a better offer. And I was like, I'm 26 and a half years old. I what am I waiting for? So they made a tremendously generous offer. I took early retirement, and I moved to my first true startup called avid technology that was in the production space. And we basically were changing film and television production from analog to digital. And I never looked back, I basically have been with startups ever since. And that, but that foundation I felt was really important that I got from NCR, but I prefer smaller companies and build the building them up from scratch and moving them forward.   Michael Hingson  16:07 Yeah, when you can do more to help shape the way they go. Because the the problem with a larger a lot of larger companies is they get very set in their ways. And they tend not to listen as much as maybe they should to people who might come along with ideas that might be beneficial to them, as opposed to startups as you say,   Howard Brown  16:27 Well, it depends. I mean, you know, you want to build a company that is still somewhat innovative. So what these large companies like Google and Facebook do, and Apple is they go acquire, they acquire the startups before they get too big or sometimes like, it's like what Facebook did with Instagram, they acquired six people, Google acquired YouTube, and they acquire the technology of best of breed technology. And then they shape it, and they accelerate it up. So listen, companies like IBM are still innovative, Apple, you know, is so innovative. But you need to maintain that because it can get to be a bureaucracy, and with hundreds of 1000s of employees. And you can't please everybody, but I knew my calling was was technology startups. And I just, I needed to get that, get that foundation built. And then away away I went. And that's what I've done. Since   Michael Hingson  17:16 you're right. It's all about with with companies, if they want to continue to be successful, they have to be innovative, and they have to be able to grow. I remember being in college, when Hewlett Packard came out with the HP 25, which was a very sophisticated calculator. Back in the the late 19th, early 1970s. And then Texas Instruments was working on a calculator, they came out with one that kind of did a lot of the stuff that HP did. But about that same time because HP was doing what they were doing, they came out with the HP 35. And basically it added, among other things, a function key that basically doubled the number of incredible things that you could do on the HP 25.   Howard Brown  17:58 Right, I had a TI calculator and in high school.   Michael Hingson  18:02 Well, and of course yeah, go ahead HPUS pull reverse Polish notation, which was also kind   Howard Brown  18:09 of fun. Right and then with the kids don't understand today is that, you know, we took typing, I get I think we took typing.   Michael Hingson  18:19 Did you type did you learn to type on a typewriter without letters on the keys?   Howard Brown  18:23 No, I think we have letters I think you just couldn't look down or else you get smacked. You know, the big brown fox jumped over the you know, something that's I don't know, but I did learn but I I'm sort of a hybrid. I looked down once in a while when I'd say   Michael Hingson  18:39 I remember taking a typing course in actually it was in summer school. I think it was between seventh and eighth grade. And of course the typewriters were typewriters, typewriters for teaching so they didn't have letters on the keys, which didn't matter to me a whole lot. But by the same token, that's the way they were but I learned to type and yeah, we learned to type and we learned how to be pretty accurate with it's sort of like learning to play the piano and eventually learning to do it without looking at the keys so that you could play and either read music or learn to play by ear.   Howard Brown  19:15 That's true. And And again, in my dorm room, I had Smith Corona, and I ended up having a bottle of or many bottles of white out.   Michael Hingson  19:25 White out and then there was also the what was it the other paper that you could put on the samosa did the same thing but white out really worked?   Howard Brown  19:33 Yeah, you put that little strip of tape and then it would wait it out for you then you can type over it. Right? We've come a long way. It's some of its good and some of its bad.   Michael Hingson  19:43 Yeah, now we have spellchecker Yeah, we do for what it's worth,   Howard Brown  19:49 which we got more and more and more than that on these I mean listen to this has allowed us to, to to do a zoom call here and record and goods and Bad's to all of that.   Michael Hingson  19:58 Yeah, I still I have to tell people learning to edit. Now using a sound editor called Reaper, I can do a lot more clean editing than I was able to do when I worked at a campus radio station, and had to edit by cutting tape and splicing with splicing tape.   Howard Brown  20:14 Exactly. And that's Yeah, yeah, Michael, we change the you know, avid changed the game, because we went from splicing tape or film and Betamax cassettes in the broadcast studios to a hard drive in a mouse, right? changed, we changed the game there because you were now editing on a hard drive. And so I was part of that in 1994. And again, timing has to work out and we had to retrain the unions at the television networks. And it was, for me, it was just timing worked really well. Because my next startup, liquid audio, the timing didn't work out well, because we're, we were going to try to do the same thing in the audio world, which is download music. But when you do that, when you it's a Sony cassette and Sony Walkman days, the world wasn't ready yet. We we still went public, we still did a secondary offering. But we never really brought product to market because it took Steve Jobs 10 years later to actually sell a song for 99 cents and convince the record industry that that was, you know, you could sell slices of pizza instead of the whole pizza, the whole record out   Michael Hingson  21:17 and still make money. I remember avid devices and hearing about them and being in television stations. And of course, for me, none of that was accessible. So it was fun to to be able to pick on the fact that no matter what, as Fred Allen, although he didn't say it quite this way, once said they call television the new medium, because that's as good as it's ever gonna get. But anyway, you know, it has come a long way. But it was so sophisticated to go into some of the studios with some of the even early equipment, like Avid, and see all the things that they were doing with it. It just made life so much better.   Howard Brown  21:52 Yeah, well, I mean, you're not I was selling, you know, $100,000 worth of software on a Macintosh, which first of all the chief engineers didn't even like, but at the post production facilities, they they they drank that stuff up, because you could make a television commercial, you could do retakes, you could add all the special effects, and it could save time. And then you could get more revenue from that. And so it was pretty easy sale, because we tell them how fast they could pay off to the hardware, the software and then train everybody up. And they were making more and more and better commercials for the car dealerships and the local Burger Joint. And they were thrilled that these local television stations, I can tell you that   Michael Hingson  22:29 I sold some of the first PC based CAD systems and the same sort of thing, architects were totally skeptical about it until they actually sat down and we got them in front of a machine and showed them how to use it. Let them design something that they could do with three or four hours, as opposed to spending days with paper and paper and paper and more paper in a drafting table. And they could go on to the next project and still charge as much.   Howard Brown  22:53 It was funny. I take a chief engineer on to lunch, and I tried to gauge their interest and a third, we're just enthusiastic because they wanted to make sure that they were the the way that technology came into the station. They were they were the brainchild they were the they were the domain experts. So a third again, just like training waitresses and waiters and bartenders, a third of them. Oh, they wanted they just wanted to consume it all. A third of them were skeptical and needed convincing. And a third of whom was like, that's never going out on my hair anywhere. Yeah, they were the later and later adopters, of course.   Michael Hingson  23:24 And some of them were successful. And some of them were not.   Howard Brown  23:28 Absolutely. We continue. We no longer. Go ahead. No, no, of course I am the my first sales are the ones that were early adopters. And and then I basically walked over to guys that are later adopters. I said, Well, I said, you know, the ABC, the NBC and the fox station and the PBS station habit, you know, you don't have it, and they're gonna take all your post production business away from you. And that got them highly motivated.   Michael Hingson  23:54 Yeah. And along the way, from a personal standpoint, somebody got really clever. And it started, of course at WGBH in Boston, where they recognize the fact that people who happen to be blind would want to know what's going on on TV when the dialog wasn't saying much to to offer clues. And so they started putting an audio description and editing and all that and somebody created the secondary audio programming in the other things that go into it. And now that's becoming a lot more commonplace, although it's still got a long way to go.   Howard Brown  24:24 Well, I agree. So but you're right. So having that audio or having it for visually impaired or hearing impaired are all that they are now we're making some progress. So it's still a ways to go. I agree with you.   Michael Hingson  24:36 still a ways to go. Well, you along the way in terms of continuing to work with Abbott and other companies in doing the entrepreneurial stuff. You've had a couple of curveballs from life.   Howard Brown  24:47 I have. So going back to my promotion, I was going driving out to Dayton, Ohio, I noticed a little spot on my cheekbone. didn't think anything of it. I was so excited to get promoted and start my new job. up, I just kept powering through. So a few weeks after I'd moved out to Dayton, Ohio, my mom comes out. And she's at the airport and typical Boston and mom, she's like, What's that on your cheek? What's that on your cheek? And I was like, Mom, it's nothing. I kind of started making excuses. I got hit playing basketball, I got it at the gym or something. And she's like, well, we got to get that checked out. I said, No, Mom, it's okay. It's not no big deal. It's a little little market. Maybe it's a cyst or pebble or something I don't know. So she basically said she was worried, but she never told me. So she helped set up my condo, or an apartment. And then she left. And then as long Behold, I actually had to go speak in Boston at the American Bankers Association about disaster recovery, and having a disaster recovery plan. And so this is the maybe August of 1989. And I came back and that spot was still there. And so my mom told my dad, remember, there was payphones? There was no cell phones, no computers, no internet. So she told my dad, she didn't take a picture of it. But now he saw it. And he goes, Let's go play tennis. There's I got there on a Friday. So on a Saturday morning, we'd go do something. And instead of going to play tennis, he took me to a local community hospital. And they took a look at it. And they said off its assist, take some my antibiotic erythromycin or something, you'll be fine. Well, I came back to see them on Monday after my speech. And I said, I'm not feeling that great. Maybe it's the rethrow myosin. And so having to be four o'clock in the afternoon, he took me to the same emergency room. And he's and I haven't had the same doctor on call. He actually said, You know what, let's take a biopsy of it. So he took a biopsy of it. And then he went back to the weight room, he said, I didn't get a big enough slice. Let me take another. So he took another and then my dad drove me to the airport, and I basically left. And my parents called me maybe three weeks later, and they said, You got to come back to Boston. We gotta go see, you know, they got the results. But you know, they didn't tell us they'll only tell you. Because, you know, it's my private data. So I flew back to Boston, with my parents. And this time, I had, like, you know, another doctor there with this emergency room doctor, and he basically checks me out, checks me out, but he doesn't say too much. But he does say that we have an appointment for you at Dana Farber Cancer Institute at 2pm. I think you should go. And I was like, whoa, what are you talking about? Why am I going to Dana Farber Cancer Institute. So it gets, you know, kind of scary there because I show up there. I'm in a suit and tie. My dad's in a suit down. My mom's seems to be dressed up. And we go, and they put me through tests. And I walk in there. And I don't know if you remember this, Michael. But the Boston Red Sox charity is called the Jimmy fund. Right? And the Jimmy fund are for kids with blood cancers, lymphoma leukemias, so I go there. And they checked me in and they told me as a whole host of tests they're going to do, and I'm looking in the waiting room, and I see mostly older people, and I'm 23 years old. So I go down the hallways, and I see little kids. So I go I go hang out with the little kids while I'm waiting. I didn't know what was going on. So they call me and I do my test. And this Dr. George Canalis, who's you know, when I came to learn that the inventor of some chemo therapies for lymphomas very experienced, and this young Harvard fellow named Eric Rubin I get pulled into this office with this big mahogany desk. And they say you have stage four E T cell non Hodgkins lymphoma. It's a very aggressive, aggressive, very aggressive form of cancer. We're going to try to knock this out. I have to tell you, Michael, I don't really remember hardly anything else that was said, I glossed over. I looked up at this young guy, Eric Rubin, and I said, What's he saying? I looked back out of the corner of my eye, my mom's bawling her eyes out. My dad's looks like a statue. And I have to tell you, I was really just a deer in the headlights. I had no idea that how a healthy 23 year old guy gets, you know, stage four T cell lymphoma with a very horrible prognosis. I mean, I mean, they don't they said, We don't know if we can help you at the world, one of the world's foremost cancer research hospitals in the world. So it was that was that was a tough pill to swallow. And I did some more testing. And then they told me to come back in about a week to start chemotherapy. And so, again, I didn't have the internet to search anything. I had encyclopedias. I had some friends, you know, and I was like, I'm a young guy. And, you know, I was talking to older people that potentially, you know, had leukemia or different cancer, but I didn't know much. And so I I basically showed up for chemotherapy, scared out of my mind, in denial, and Dr. RUBIN comes out and he says, we're not doing chemo today. I said, I didn't sleep awake. What are you talking about? He says, we'll try again tomorrow, your liver Our function test is too high. And my liver function test is too high. So I'm starting to learn but I still don't know what's going on. He says I got it was going to field trip. Field Trip. He said, Yeah, you're going down the street to Newton Wellesley hospital, we're going to the cryogenic center, cryo, what? What are you talking about? He goes, it's a sperm bank, and you're gonna go, you know, leave a sample specimen. And it's like, you just told me that, you know, if you can help me out what why I'm not even thinking about kids, right now. He said, Go do it. He says what else you're going to do today, and then you come back tomorrow, and we'll try chemo. So thank God, he said that, because I deposited before I actually started any chemotherapy, which, you know, as basically, you know, rendered me you know, impotent now because of all the chemotherapy and radiation I had. So that was a blessing that I didn't know about until later, which we'll get to. But a roll the story forward a little more quickly as that I was getting all bad news. I was relapsing, I went through about three or four different cycles of different chemotherapy recipes, nothing was working. I was getting sicker, and they tight. My sister, I am the twin CJ, for bone marrow transplant and she was a 25% chance of being a match. She happened to be 100% match. And I had to then gear up for back in 1990 was a bone marrow transplant where they would remove her bone marrow from her hip bones, they would scrub it and cleanse it, and they would put it in me. And they would hope that my body wouldn't immediately rejected and die and shut down or over time, which is called graft versus host these that it wouldn't kill me or potentially that it would work and it would actually reset my immune system. And it would take over the malignant cells and set my set me back straight, which it ended up doing. And so having a twin was another blessing miracle. You know that, you know, that happened to me. And I did some immunotherapy called interleukin two that was like, like the grandfather of immunotherapy that strengthened my system. And then I moved to Florida to get out of the cold weather and then I moved out to California to rebuild my life. I call that Humpty Dumpty building Humpty Dumpty version one. And that's that's how I got to California in Southern California.   Michael Hingson  32:15 So once again, your big sister savedthe day,   Howard Brown  32:19 as usual.   Michael Hingson  32:21 That's a big so we go,   Howard Brown  32:23 as we call ourselves the Wonder Twins. He's more. She's terrific. And thank God she gave part of herself and saved my life. And I am eternally grateful to her for that,   Michael Hingson  32:34 but but she never had any of the same issues or, or diseases. I gather. She's been   Howard Brown  32:41 very healthy, except for like a knee. A partial knee replacement. She's been very healthy her whole life.   Michael Hingson  32:48 Well, did she have to have a knee replacement because she kept kicking you around or what?   Howard Brown  32:52 No, she's little. She's five feet. 510 So she never kicked me. We are best friends. My wife's best friend. I know. She is just just a saint. She's She's such a giving person and you know, we take that from our parents, but she she gave of herself of what she could do. She said she do it again in a heartbeat. I don't think I'm allowed to give anybody my bone marrow but if I could, would give it to her do anything for her. She's She's amazing. So she gave me the gift, the gift of life.   Michael Hingson  33:21 So you went to Florida, then you moved to California and what did you do when you got out here?   Howard Brown  33:24 So I ended up moving up to northern California. So I met this girl from Michigan in Southern California, Lisa, my wife have now 28 years in July. We married Lisa Yeah, we got married under the Jewish wedding company's wedding canopies called the hotpot and we're looking at the Pacific Ocean, we made people come out that we had that Northridge earthquake in 94. But this is in July, so things are more settled. So we had all friends and family come out. And it was beautiful. We got it on a pool deck overlooking the Pacific. It was gorgeous. It was a beautiful Hollywood type wedding. And it was amazing. So we got married in July of 94. And then moved up to Silicon Valley in 97. And then I was working at the startups. My life was really out of balance because I'm working 20 hours, you know, a day and I'm traveling like crazy. And my wife says, You know what, you got to be home for dinner if we're going to think about having a family. And we're a little bit older now. 35 and 40. And so we've got to think about these things. And so I called back to Newton Wellesley hospital, and I got the specimen of sperm shipped out to San Jose, and we went through an in vitro fertilization process. And she grew eight eight eggs and they defrosted the swimmers and they took the best ones and put them back in the four best eggs and our miracle baby our frozen kids sickle. Emily was born in August of 2001. Another blessing another miracle. I was able to have a child and healthy baby girl.   Michael Hingson  34:58 So what's Emily doing today?   Howard Brown  35:00 Well, thank you for asking that. So, she is now in Missoula, Montana at a television station called K Pax eight Mountain News. And she's an intern for the summer. And she's living her great life out there hiking, Glacier National Park. And she ran I think she ran down to the Grand Tetons and, and she's learning about the broadcast business and reporting. She's a writer by trade, by trade and in journalism. And she likes philosophy. So she'll be coming back home to finish her senior year, this at the end of the summer at the University of Michigan. And so she's about to graduate in December. And she's, she's doing just great.   Michael Hingson  35:35 So she writes and doesn't do video editing us yet using Abbott or any of the evolutions from it.   Howard Brown  35:41 No, she does. She actually, when you're in a small market station, that's you. You write the script, she does the recording, she has a tripod, sometimes she's she films with the other reporters, but when she they sent her out as an intern, and she just covered the, this, you know, the pro pro life and pro choice rallies, she she records herself, she edits on Pro Tools, which is super powerful now, and a lot less expensive. And then, when she submits, she submits it refer review to the news director and to her superiors. And she's already got, I think, three video stories and about six different by lines on written stories. So she's learning by doing, it's experiential, it's amazing.   Michael Hingson  36:23 So she must have had some experience in dealing with all the fires and stuff out at Yellowstone and all that.   Howard Brown  36:31 So the flooding at Yellowstone, so I drove her out there in May. And I didn't see any fires. But the flooding we got there before that, she took me on a hike on the North Gate of Yellowstone. And she's she's, you know, environmentally wilderness trained first aid trained. And I'm the dad, and I'm in decent shape. But she took me out an hour out and an hour back in and, you know, saw a moose saw a deer didn't see any mountain lion didn't see any Grizzlies, thank God, but we did see moose carcass where the grizzly had got a hold on one of those and, and everybody else to get it. So I got to go out to nature weather and we took a road trip out there this summer, it was a blast. It's the those are the memories, when you've been through a cancer diagnosis that you just you hold on to very dearly and very tight. It was a blast. So that's what he's doing this summer. She'll be back. She'll be back in August, end of August.   Michael Hingson  37:22 That's really exciting to hear that she's working at it and being successful. And hopefully she'll continue to do that. And do good reporting. And I know that this last week, with all the Supreme Court cases, it's it's, I guess, in one sense, a field day for reporters. But it's also a real challenge, because there's so many polarized views on all of that.   Howard Brown  37:44 Well, everybody's a broadcaster now whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and all the other ones out there, tick tock. So everybody's sort of a reporter now. And you know, what do you believe, and unfortunately, I just can't believe in something in 140 characters or something in two sentences. Yeah, there's no depth there. So sometimes you miss the point, and all this stuff. And then everything's on 24 hours on CNN, on Fox on MSNBC, so it never stops. So I call that a very noisy world. And it's hard to process. You know, all this. It's coming at you so fast in the blink of an eye. So we're in a different time than when we grew up, Michael, it was a slower pace. Today in this digital world. It's, it's, it's a lot and especially COVID. Now, are we just consuming and consuming and binging and all this stuff, I don't think it's that healthy.   Michael Hingson  38:36 It's not only a noisy world, but it's also a world, it's very disconnected, you can say all you want about how people can send tweets back and forth, text messages back and forth and so on. But you're not connecting, you're not really getting deep into anything, you're not really establishing relationships in the way that as you point out, we used to, and we don't connect anymore, even emails don't give you that much connection, realism, as opposed to having meaningful dialogue and meaningful conversations. So we just don't Converse anymore. And now, with all that's going on, in the very divided opinions, there's there's no room for discussion, because everybody has their own opinion. And that's it, there's no room to dialogue on any of it at all, which is really too bad.   Howard Brown  39:21 Yeah, I agree. It's been divisive. And, you know, it's, it's hard because, you know, an email doesn't have the body language, the intent, the emotion, like we're talking right now. And, you know, we're expressing, you know, you know, I'm telling stories of my story personally, but you can tell when I get excited, I smile, I can get animated. Sometimes with an email, you know, you don't know the intent and it can be misread. And a lot of that communication is that way. So, you know, I totally get where you're coming from.   Michael Hingson  39:55 And that's why I like doing the podcasts that we're doing. We get to really have conversation isn't just asking some questions and getting an answer and then going on to the next thing. That's, frankly, no fun. And I think it's important to be able to have the opportunity to really delve into things and have really good conversations about them. I learned a lot, and I keep seeing as I do these podcasts, and for the past 20 plus years, I've traveled around the world speaking, of course, about September 11, and talking about teamwork, and trust, and so on. And as I always say, if I don't learn more than I'm able to teach or impart, then I'm not doing my job very well.   Howard Brown  40:35 So that's exactly and that's, that's where I'm going after the second health concern. You know, I'm now going to teach, I'm gonna inspire, I'm going to educate. And that's, that's, that's what I do, I want to do with the rest of my time is to be able to, you know, listen, I'm not putting my head in the sand, about school shootings, about an insurrection about floods about all that. You gotta live in the real world. But I choose, as I say, I like to live on positive Street as much as possible, but positive street with action. That's, that's what makes the world a better place at the end of the day. So you sharing that story means that one we'll never forget. And you can educate the generations to come that need to understand, you know, that point in time and how it affected you and how you've dealt with it, and how you've been able to get back out of bed every day. And I want to do the same.   Michael Hingson  41:26 Well, there's nothing wrong with being positive. I think that there is a need to be aware. But we can we can continue to be positive, and try to promote positivity, try to promote connectionism and conversations and so on, and promote the fact that it's okay to have different opinions. But the key is to respect the other opinion, and recognize that it isn't just what you say that's the only thing that ever matters. That's the problem that we face so much today.   Howard Brown  41:58 Right? Respect. I think Aretha Franklin saying that great. She   Michael Hingson  42:01 did. She did. She's from Motown here. There you go. See? When you moved out to California, and you ended up in Silicon Valley, and so on, who are you working for them?   Howard Brown  42:14 So I moved up, and I worked for this company called Liquid audio that doesn't exist anymore. And it was just iTunes 10 years too early on, there was real audio, there was Mark Cuban's company was called Audio net and then broadcast.com used for a lot of money. And so the company went public and made a lot of money. But it didn't work. The world wasn't ready for it yet to be able to live in this cassette world. It was not ready. I Napster hadn't been invented, mp3 and four hadn't been invented. So it just the adoption rate of being too early. But it still went public a lot. The investors made a ton of money, but they call that failing, failing forward. So I stayed there for a year, I made some money. And I went to another startup. And that startup was in the web hosting space, it was called Naevus. site, it's now won by Time Warner. But at that time, building data centers and hosting racks of computers was very good business. And so I got to be, you know, participate in an IPO. You know, I built built up revenue. And you know, the outsourcing craze now called cloud computing, it's dominated by the folks that like Amazon, and the folks at IBM, and a few others, but mostly, you know, dominated there, where you're basically having lots of blinking lights in a data center, and just making sure that those computers stay up to serve up the pages of the web, the videos, even television, programming, and now any form of communication. So I was, I was early on in that and again, got to go through an IPO and get compensated properly unduly, and, but also my life was out of balance. And so before we were called out for the sperm and had a baby, I transitioned out when Silicon Valley just the pendulum swung the other way, I ended up starting to work at my own nonprofit, I founded it with a couple of Silicon Valley guys called Planet Jewish, and it was still very technologically driven. It was the world's first Community Calendar. This is before Google Calendar, this is in 2000. And we built it as a nonprofit to serve the Jewish community to get more people to come to Jewish events. And I architected the code, and we ran that nonprofit for 17 years. And before calendaring really became free, and very proud of that. And after that, I started a very similar startup with different code called circle builder, and it was serving faith and religions. It was more like private facebook or private online communities. And we had the Vatican as a client and about 25,000 Ministries, churches, and nonprofits using the system. And this is all sort of when Facebook was coming out to you know, from being just an edu or just for college students. And so I built that up as a quite a big business. But unfortunately, I was in Michigan when I started circle builder. I ended up having to close both of those businesses down. One that the revenue was telling off of the nonprofit and also circuit builder wasn't monetizing as quickly or as we needed as well. But I ended up going into my 50 year old colonoscopy, Michael. And I woke up thinking everything was going to be fine. My wife Lisa's holding my hand. And the gastroenterologist said, No, I found something. And when I find something, it's bad news. Well, it was bad news. Stage three colon cancer. Within about 10 days or two weeks, I had 13 and a half inches of my colon removed, plus margins plus lymph nodes. One of the lymph nodes was positive, install a chemo port and then I waited because my daughter had soccer tournaments to travel to but on first week of August in 2016, I started 12 rounds of Rockem sockem chemotherapy called folfox and five Fu and it was tough stuff. So I was back on the juice again, doing chemotherapy and but this time, I wasn't a deer in the headlights, I was a dad, I was a husband. I had been through the trenches. So this time, I was much more of a marine on a mission. And I had these digital tools to reach out for research and for advocacy and for support. Very different at that time. And so I unfortunately failed my chemotherapy, I failed my neck surgery, another colon resection, I failed a clinical trial. And things got worse I became metastatic stage four that means that colon cancer had spread to my liver, my stomach linings called the omentum and peritoneum and my bladder. And I had that same conversation with a doctor in downtown Detroit, at a Cancer Institute and he said, We don't know if we can help you. And if you Dr. Google, it said I had 4% of chances of living about 12 to 18 months and things were dark I was I was back at it again looking looking at the Grim Reaper. But what I ended up doing is research and I did respond to the second line chemotherapy with a little regression or shrinkage. And for that you get more chemotherapy. And then I started to dig in deep research on peritoneal carcinoma which is cancer of the of the of the stomach lining, and it's very tricky. And there's a group called colon town.org that I joined and very informative. I there then met at that time was probably over 100 other people that had had the peritoneal carcinoma, toma and are living and they went through a radical surgery called cytoreduction high pack, where they basically debulk you like a de boning a fish, and they take out all this cancer, they can see the dead and live cells, and then they pour hot chemo in you. And then hot chemo is supposed to penetrate the scanning the organs, and it's supposed to, in theory kill micro cell organism and cancer, although it's still not proven just yet. But that surgery was about a 12 and a half hour surgery in March of 2018. And they call that the mother of all surgeries. And I came out looking like a ghost. I had lost about 60 pounds, and I had a long recovery. It's that one would put Humpty Dumpty back together. It's been now six years. But I got a lot of support. And I am now what's called no evidence of disease at this time, I'm still under surveillance. I was quarterly I just in June, I had my scans and my exams. And I'm now going to buy annual surveillance, which means CAT scans and blood tests. That's the step in the right direction. And so again, I mean, if I think about it, my twin sister saved my life, I had a frozen sperm become a daughter. And again, I'm alive from a stage four diagnosis. I am grateful. I am lucky, and I am blessed. So that's that a long story that the book will basically tell you, but that's where I am today.   Michael Hingson  48:50 And we'll definitely get to the book. But another question. So you had two startups that ran collectively for quite a period of time, what got you involved or motivated to do things in the in the faith arena?   Howard Brown  49:06 So I have to give credit to my wife, Lisa. So we met at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles at this young leadership group. And then they have like a college fair of organizations that are Jewish support organizations. And one of them happened to be Jewish Big Brothers, now Jewish Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles. Suppose you'd be a great big brother. I was like, well, it takes up a lot of time. I don't know. She's like, you should check it out. So I did. And I became I fill out the application. I went through the background checks, and I actually got to be a Jewish big brother to this young man II and at age 10. And so I have to tell you, one of the best experiences in my life was to become a mentor. And I today roll the clock forward. 29 years in is now close to 40 years old or 39 years old. He's married with a son who's one noble and two wife, Sarah, and we are family. We stayed together past age 18 Seen, and we've continued on. And I know not a lot of people do that. But it was probably one of the best experiences I've ever done. I've gotten so much out of it. Everyone's like, Oh, you did so much for in? Well, he did so much for me and my daughter, Emily calls him uncle and my wife and I are we are his family, his dad was in prison and then passed away and his mom passed away where his family now. And so one of the best experiences. So that's how I kind of got into the Jewish community. And also being in sales I was I ended up being a good fundraiser. And so these nonprofits that live their lifeblood is fundraising dollars. I didn't mind calling people asking them for donations or sitting down over coffee, asking them for donations. So I learned how to do that out in Southern California in Northern California. And I've continued to do that. So that gave me a real good taste of faith. I'm not hugely religious, but I do believe in the community values of the Jewish community. And you get to meet people beyond boards and you get to raise money for really good causes. And so that sort of gave me another foundation to build off of and I've enjoyed doing that as a community sermon for a long time.   Michael Hingson  51:10 I'll bite Where does Ian live today?   Howard Brown  51:13 Okay, well, Ian was in LA when we got matched. I had to move to San Francisco, but I I petitioned the board to keep our match alive because it was scholarship dollars in state right. And went to UC Santa Cruz, Florida State for his master's and got his last degree at Hastings and the Jewish community supported him with scholarships. And in was in very recently was in San Francisco, Oakland area, and now he's lives in South Portland, Oregon.   Michael Hingson  51:39 Ah, so you haven't gotten back to Michigan yet? Although he's getting into colder weather. So there's a chance?   Howard Brown  51:45 Well, let me tell you, he did live with us in Michigan. So using my connections through the Jewish community, I asked if he could interview with a judge from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a friend of mine, we sat on a on a board of directors for the American Jewish Committee, Detroit. And I said, she's like, well, Howard, I really have to take Michigan kids. I said, You know what? No problem. You decide if he's if he's worthy or not go through your process, but would you take the phone call? So she took the phone call, and I never heard anything. And then Ian called me and he said, I got it. I as a second year loss. Going to be a second year law student. I'm going to be clerking for summer interning and clerking for this judge Leanne white. And again, it just it karma, the payback, it was beautiful. So he lived with us for about four and a half months. And when he came back, and it was beautiful, because Emily was only about four or five years old. And, and he lived with us for that time. And it was beautiful.   Michael Hingson  52:43 But that's really great. That, that you have that relationship that you did the big brother program. And I'm assuming you've been big brother to other people as well.   Howard Brown  52:53 No, no. I have not actually. Because what it did is it trained me to be a dad. So when I had Emily, it was more it was more difficult actually to do that. And so no, Ian has been my one and only match. I mentor a lot of Babson students, and I mentor and get mentored by some cancer patients and, and some big entrepreneurs. Mentorship is a core value of mine. I like to be mentored. And I also like to mentor others. And I think that's, that's what makes the world go round. So when Steve Gates when Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, just donated 123 million to the overall arching Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. And that money will filter to all those, I think that that's such a core value. If a young person can have someone that takes interest in them, they can really shape their future and also get a lot out of it. So mentorship is one of my key values. And I hope it's hope it's many of your viewers and yours as well. Michael,   Michael Hingson  53:52 absolutely is I think that we can't do anything if we can't pass on what we've learned and try to help other people grow. I've been a firm believer my entire life of you don't give somebody a fish, you teach them how to fish and however, and wherever that is, it's still the same thing. And we need to teach and impart. And I think that in our own way, every one of us is a teacher and the more we take it seriously, the better it is.   Howard Brown  54:18 Well, I'm now a student not learning podcasting. I learned how to be a book author and I'm learning how to reinvent myself virgin Humpty Dumpty, version two coming out.   Michael Hingson  54:29 So you had been a national cancer survivor advocate and so on. Tell me a little bit about that if you would.   Howard Brown  54:35 So I respect people that want to keep their diagnosis private and their survivorship private. That's not me. I want to be able to help people because if I would have been screened at age 40 or 42, I probably wouldn't have had colon cancer and I was not, but this is a preventable disease and really minorities and indigenous people as they need to get screened more, because that's the highest case of diagnosis for colorectal cancer. But what I think that that's what his needs now it's the second leading killer of cancer right now. And it's an important to get this advocacy out and use your voice. And so I want to use my voice to be able to sound the alarm on getting screening, and also to help people survive. There's I think, 16 million growing to 23 or 4 million by 2030. Cancer survivors out there, cancer diagnosis, it sucks sex all the way around, but it affects more than the patient, it affects your caregiver, it affects your family affects relationships, it affects emotions, physical, and also financial, there is many aspects of survivorship here and more people are learning to live with it and going, but also, quite frankly, I live with in the stage for cancer world, you also live with eminence of death, or desperation to live a little bit longer. You hear people I wish I had one more day. Well, I wish I had time to be able to see my daughter graduate high school, and I did and I cherished it. I'm going to see her graduate college this December and then walk at the Big House here in Michigan, in Ann Arbor in May. And then God willing, I will walk her down the aisle at the appropriate time. And it's good to have those big goals that are important that drive you forward. And so those are the few things that drive me forward.   Michael Hingson  56:28 I know that I can't remember when I had my first colonoscopy. It's been a while. It was just part of what I did. My mother didn't die of colon cancer, but she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She, she went to the doctor's office when she felt something was wrong. And they did diagnose it as colon cancer. She came home my brother was with her. She fell and broke her hip and went into the hospital and passed away a few days later, they did do an operation to deal with repairing her hip. And but I think because of all of that, just the amount that her body went through, she just wasn't able to deal with it. She was 6970. And so it was no I take Yeah, so I was just one of those things that that did happen. She was 71, not 70. But, you know, we've, for a while I got a colonoscopy every five years. And then they say no, you don't need to do it every five years do it every 10 years. The couple of times they found little polyps but they were just little things. There was nothing serious about them. They obviously took them out and autopsy or biopsy them and all that. And no problems. And I don't remember any of it. I slept through it. So it's okay.   Howard Brown  57:46 Great. So the prep is the worst part. Isn't it though? The preps no fun. But the 20 minutes they have you under light anesthesia, they snipped the polyps and away you go and you keep living your life. So that's what I hope for everyone, because I will tell you, Michael, showing through the amount of chemotherapy, the amount of surgeries and the amount of side effects that I have is, is I don't wish that on anyone. I don't wish on anyone. It's not a good existence. It's hard. And quite frankly, it's, I want to prevent about it. And I'm just not talking about colon cancer, get your mammogram for breast cancer, get your check for prostate cancer, you know, self care is vital, because you can't have fun, do your job, work Grow family, if your hell if you're not healthy, and the emotional stuff they call the chemo brain or brain fog and or military personnel refer to it as PTSD. It's real. And you've got to be able to understand that, you know, coming from a cancer diagnosis is a transition. And I'll never forget that my two experiences and I I've got to build and move forward though. Because otherwise it gets dark, it gets lonely, it gets depressing, and then other things start to break down the parts don't work well. So I've chosen to find my happy place on the basketball court be very active in sounding the alarm for as an advocate. And as I never planned on being a book author and now I'm going to be a published author this summer. So there's good things that have come in my life. I've had a very interesting, interesting life. And we're here talking about it now so I appreciate it.   Michael Hingson  59:20 Well tell me about you in basketball seems to be your happy place.   Howard Brown  59:24 So everyone needs to find a happy place. I'll tell you why. The basketball court I've been playing since I was six years old and I was pretty good you know, I'm not gonna go professional. But I happen to like the team sport and I'm a point guard so I'm basically telling people what to do and trash talk and and all that. But I love it a

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Caribbean Radio Show Crs Radio
The CRS Radio The Black Jewish Queen Live Chat Guest Victoria Fulcher-Raggs

Caribbean Radio Show Crs Radio

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 6, 2022 91:00


We welcome Victoria Fulcher - Raggs  Victoria Raggs is the Co-Founding Executive Director of the Atlanta Jews of Color Council. She is a progressive intercultural strategist, DEI consultant, and disability rights advocate. Victoria lives and works at the intersection of Afro-Caribbean and Jewish identity.  Her activism seeks to normalize, affirm, and elevate the multidimensional identities of historically excluded people through discourse and advocacy around justice and equity.   This year, she was nominated among Atlanta's 10 Inspiring Black Women Making History, by Best Self Atlanta Magazine, and a 2022 Fellow of Jewish Women International's Jewish Communal Women's Leadership Project. Victoria is actively engaged in the Jewish community currently serving on The Governance Committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta,  on the Board of Directors at the  (JF&CS),  and on the Board of Counselors for the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) as a Co-Chair of the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition. Victoria has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, studied towards a M.A. at Virginia Tech, and is certified as a member of the Board Member Institute by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She has been on numerous committees and associations at Jewish Day Schools such as The Atlanta Jewish Academy (formerly The Epstein School, and The Weber Jewish High School. She and her family are active members of Congregation B'nai Torah synagogue.  She has served on her synagogue's Education, Inclusion, and Sisterhood Committees.  Atlanta Jews of Color Council, Inc. – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Education (ajocc.org)  

The Honestly Unfiltered Podcast
Down the Rabbit Hole

The Honestly Unfiltered Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2022 80:48


In this episode of Honestly Unfiltered, Jeni and Ellie catch one another up on the events of their week. They also discuss Tino Franco's interview with Nick Viall on The Viall Files Podcast about his breakup with The Bachelorette's Rachel Recchia. Jeni and Ellie also discuss Taylor Swift's new album, Midnights. The girls also discuss Kanye West's increasingly erratic behavior and his weeks-long spate of antisemitic comments. Over the last week, rapper Kanye West, now also known as Ye, has posted antisemitic tropes on his social media accounts, shared antisemitic conspiracy theories with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and later, on social media, threatened violence against Jews. Jeni and Ellie also give an update about upcoming guests that they are excited about having on the Podcast in the next couple of weeks. _________ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9mEkc7mveM (Watch Tino Franco's Interview on The Viall Files) __________ https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/21/arts/music/taylor-swift-midnights-review.html (Taylor Swift, Caught Between Yesterday and Tomorrow on 'Midnights') https://www.taylorswift.com/ (https://www.taylorswift.com/) __________ https://www.ajc.org (American Jewish Committee) https://www.adl.org (Anti-Defamation League) https://www.complex.com/style/anna-wintour-vogue-drop-kanye-west-amid-recent-antisemitic-comments (Anna Wintour of 'Vogue' Reportedly Cuts Ties With Kanye Following Anti-Semitic Comments) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/oct/14/kanye-west-bank-jp-morgan-chase-cuts-ties-with-rapper (Kanye West: bank JP Morgan Chase cuts ties with rapper) ____________ https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1680263&u=3069680&m=104237&urllink=&afftrack= (This Episode is Sponsored by HOP WTR) - Save 20% on your first order with the coupon code HONESTLYUNFILTERED We have Podcast Merch! https://www.customizedgirl.com/s/honestlyunfiltered (Check Out Our Designs Here!) ____________ Please subscribe so you don't miss an episode, and as always, send in your questions or comments to Jeni@honestlyunfilteredpodcasts.com Connect with us on Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/HonestlyUnfilteredPodcast ( Facebook.com/HonestlyUnfilteredPodcast) https://www.instagram.com/thehonestlyunfilteredpodcast/ (Instagram.com/TheHonestlyUnfilteredPodcast) https://twitter.com/IamJeniThomas (Twitter.com/iAmJeniThomas) Check out our website and blog at www.honestlyunfilteredpodcasts.com Do you like what you hear? https://www.buymeacoffee.com/keriandjeni! (Buy Us a Coffee!) This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis: Podtrac - https://analytics.podtrac.com/privacy-policy-gdrp Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy Podcorn - https://podcorn.com/privacy

The Newsmakers Video
What made Australia reverse its Jerusalem decision?

The Newsmakers Video

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2022 26:00


Canberra infuriated Israel when it no longer recognised Jerusalem as its capital. Will it spur others to follow suit? And will this move revive a two-state solution? Guests: Mouin Rabbani Co-editor of Jadaliyya Magazine Erin Watson Australian Public Policy Analyst Avi Mayer Former Spokesperson of the American Jewish Committee

The Times of Israel Daily Briefing
Can Biden fulfill 4G promise? Tech update plus Ted Deutch

The Times of Israel Daily Briefing

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2022 18:51


Welcome to The Times of Israel's Daily Briefing, your 15-minute audio update on what's happening in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, from Sunday through Thursday. US correspondent Jacob Magid and Tech Israel editor Ricky Ben-David join host Jessica Steinberg for today's podcast. Magid discusses updates regarding assurances made by President Joe Biden during his visit to the region in July, regarding the Allenby crossing, 4G networks in the West Bank and funding for East Jerusalem hospitals. Ben-David looks at the startup put together by the former CEO of cybersecurity firm NSO with former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who quit politics after being implicated in a corruption scandal. She also talks about the drop in investments in Israeli startups  in the third quarter of 2022, and expectations for the end of the year. Magid speaks about his interview with Ted Deutch, former US representative from Florida who is now at the held of the American Jewish Committee. Discussed articles include: Biden-promised plan to operate Allenby crossing 24/7 faces new hurdle Former NSO CEO and ex-chancellor of Austria establish new cybersecurity startup Investments in Israeli startups drop by 36% in third quarter of 2022 — report Subscribe to The Times of Israel Daily Briefing on iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. IMAGE: US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House complex in Washington, October 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Global Reportage: Unbiased and Uncensored News
Kanye West eyes buying conservative-social media platform Parler

Global Reportage: Unbiased and Uncensored News

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 17, 2022 2:15


The social network says the rapper will help build an “uncancellable” ecosystem with “all voices welcome” Hip hop star and businessman Kanye West has agreed in principle to acquire social media platform Parler. The decision was announced after the rapper, who has legally changed his name to Ye, was suspended on Instagram and Twitter. “This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech,” Parler CEO George Farmer said in a statement on Monday. He added that “Ye is making a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again.” According to Parler, the acquisition ensures “a future role in creating an uncancelable ecosystem where all voices are welcome.” “In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” West said in a statement released by Parlement Technologies, Parler's parent company. Parlement added that West was “taking a bold stance against his recent censorship from Big Tech.” Instagram and Twitter suspended West's account this month and deleted messages directed at Jewish people. West claimed that rapper Diddy, whose real name is Sean Combs, was “controlled by the Jews” , and accused Jews of seeking to suppress those who oppose their “agenda.” The remarks were condemned by the American Jewish Committee. Parler was founded in 2018 by John Matze and Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of billionaire Rober Mercer, the co-owner of conservative news website Breitbart. In the wake of the storming of the US Capitol building by supporters of former President Donald Trump in January 2021, the social network was removed from Apple's App Store and Google Play Store, while Amazon dropped it from its web hosting service. The companies argued at the time that Parler permitted “violent content.” After weeks of being offline, Parler found a new host. The social network also introduced stronger content moderation, which allowed its return to the App Store in May 2021 and the Google Store last month. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/world-voices/support

Rich and Daily
Kanye - When is Enough Enough?

Rich and Daily

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2022 16:09


The Kanye West chaos caravan rolls on. A week after causing a stir at Paris Fashion Week with his “White Lives Matter” shirts, Ye has come under fire from The American Jewish Committee. After he posted a private text conversation he had with Sean “Diddy” Combs on social media, he is being called anti-Semitic for his comments. Instagram took action by deleting the post and restricting his access after he violated the platform's rules and guidelines. Additionally, a lot of celebrities are coming out in force to condemn Kanye's comments. And now, people are fearing for his children's safety after he posted the name of the school they attend. Y'know, we talk all the time about how Kanye – in some cases – is his own worst enemy. But after what we've seen recently, is he now a danger to others as well? And is it time for an intervention?See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

AJC Passport
AJC CEO Ted Deutch on Building a Brighter Jewish Future

AJC Passport

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2022 27:10 Very Popular


After more than 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ted Deutch recently stepped down to become the CEO of American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. In this special episode, learn about the Jewish values instilled in Ted by his parents, growing up in the working-class town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he was one of only three Jewish students in his high school. From his summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos to his Jewish leadership as a student at the University of Michigan – Ted's experiences as a Jewish leader  inspired him to become a fierce advocate against antisemitism and in support of Israel in the halls of Congress. As he begins this exciting new chapter at the helm of AJC, Ted describes his commitment to enhancing the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and how he will help AJC build a brighter Jewish future.  ___ Episode Lineup: (0:40) Ted Deutch ___ Show Notes: 6 Things to Know About AJC CEO Ted Deutch Listen to our latest podcast episode: Synagogue Security Expert on the Importance of Volunteer-Led Protection Follow People of the Pod on your favorite podcast app, and learn more at AJC.org/PeopleofthePod You can reach us at: peopleofthepod@ajc.org If you've enjoyed this episode, please be sure to tell your friends, tag us on social media with #PeopleofthePod, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review, to help more listeners find us. ____ Episode transcript MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: This week, American Jewish Committee enters a new chapter with a new CEO. Ted Deutch served seven terms in Congress and during that time emerged as a powerful voice for democratic values and the Jewish people. He also became an outspoken defender of the U.S.-Israel alliance, when that defense was needed more than it ever had been. While Ted has been a guest on our podcast before, he joins us now for the first time as AJC's CEO. Ted, welcome back to People of the Pod.  TED DEUTCH: Well, thanks. MANYA: So, we have a lot to get to because we want to introduce you to our audience and really let them get to know you. So, let's launch right into it. Tell us about your upbringing.  TED: I grew up in Bethlehem. I'm the youngest of five. There is an 11 year gap between me and the next closest sibling, my sister and then my three brothers are older still, and 19 years between my oldest brother and me. I am, as my mother eventually came to refer to me, a pleasant surprise.  My father was a painting contractor. They lived in Bethlehem because after he grew up in Chicago, he enlisted in the army after he graduated from high school, was sent by the army to the army specialized training program that was at Lehigh University in Bethlehem.  He met my mother at, I think not surprisingly, at a bagel brunch at the synagogue at the JCC where I grew up, and it's a long story of what happened after. My dad went to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. My mother wound up befriending his family in Chicago and one thing led to another and he wound up moving back to Bethlehem, where he married my mother and raised our whole family.  MANYA: I imagine Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was much like the small town blue collar communities where I grew up. Describe Bethlehem for us. TED: Bethlehem is home to Bethlehem Steel, which was the company that helped make the steel that helped us win World War II, that was the way we always talked about it when I was a kid. And the steel company, it was the largest employer in Bethlehem. So many people, either their families had some connection to Bethlehem Steel or they either worked at Bethlehem Steel. In my dad's case, he was a painting contractor. He painted the offices of Bethlehem Steel, he painted the houses of Bethlehem steel execs. Had an enormous impact on the community.  Over the course of my high school years it started winding down. It was also sort of the end of a great American company which we watched happen in real time. But down Main Street, Broad street downtown, there was one movie theater downtown, there were two actually for a while. And yes, there were little shops and there was a magic shop that I used to ride my bike to after school, when I was little. It was a nice place, a nice community to grow up in. MANYA: Did Bethlehem have a sizable Jewish community?  TED: Not a large Jewish community by any stretch. There was a very close knit Jewish community that had been there for a long time, multiple generations of families. It was the old model where in one building, we had the JCC and our synagogue. So, on the first floor, where you walked in, we actually had the gym and the pool. And then the second floor were the classrooms in the auditorium and the third floor was the sanctuary. So we spent a lot of time there, between Hebrew school and basketball and Shabbat and the rest.  So it was a really nice community but definitely not large. And fortunately for me, it was a community that welcomed a new Rabbi when I was a kid, and one of the first things he decided was that the synagogue needed to send kids to Camp Ramah and it was Rabbi Judah's decision to encourage that.  And I was one of the first, I think it might have been the first to go, and that had an unbelievably significant impact on my Jewish life and the way I view the world and everything else I've done since.  My first year at Ramah, I was 12. I was not quite a Bar Mitzvah, that I know for sure, because I invited camp friends to my bar mitzvah, where I gladly sang Ramah tunes, hoping and expecting that they would all join in and found myself doing a lot of solos during my Bar Mitzvah. My friends didn't quite step up to the moment, but very good memories. MANYA: You mentioned that Bethlehem Steel helped win World War II and your father fought in the Battle of the Bulge, for which he won a purple heart, I believe. Can you talk a little about how he balanced his American patriotism and his Jewish pride?  TED: He went off and fought in World War II and fought the Nazis and, and took with him these two books, both of which I still have. One, a prayer book, the small prayer book, one, a small book of Jewish thoughts that they gave to all of the Jewish members of the armed forces in World War II. The fact that he carried those around with him, still had them and the fact that I have them now is really special.  In the siddur, there's a page where there's a small tear right down the middle. And if you look, and he explained this to me, it was torn down just so that he could have a small sheet that had a Shin on it. And this was what he taped above his bunk when he was in the army, and it was his way of having a little Mezuzah, just to reflect the fact that -- here's a Jewish soldier who was there, as an American and as a Jew. MANYA: You were telling me earlier about United States Army Specialist Daniel J. Agami, back in 2007. He did something very similar.   TED: There's a family who lost their son in recent combat, who went to war and had an Israeli flag that he hung above his bunk and refused to take down despite the fact that they were fighting in a Muslim country. I think about that some, in that straight line from my Dad's experience to this Jewish soldier and the kind of patriotism that the Jews have shown for the country that we live in for so long. MANYA: You were one of three Jews in a class of more than 2,000 students. Did you encounter antisemitism growing up?  TED: There were neighborhoods in my community that still had deed restrictions, where people weren't allowed to sell their houses to Jews. There occasional experiences I had, with people who made comments that were antisemitic. I, for a lot of people, was the only Jew that they knew. I was the Jewish kid. So it's just something that I dealt with from time to time. Which is when my father would share some of his stories. MANYA: And in addition to sharing his own experiences, what advice did your parents give you about confronting that antisemitism?  TED: That's a really good question, Manya, that I haven't been asked and haven't really thought about in a while. My father's advice was clear. Obviously we're talking a lot about my dad, but my mother, she was very smart, had a very strong Jewish identity, she was a very strong woman. And the advice from both of them was to always stand up for yourself and never let people get away with it, and to be strong and be proud and to let them know that. That's a hugely important lesson that I've taken with me my whole life. It's frankly, one of the most important things that AJC does, is to help create strong proud members of the Jewish community, who also won't simply back down and let people get away with it. MANYA: You went to the University of Michigan for undergrad as well as Law school, and it's where you met your wife, Jill. How did you end up going from Bethlehem to Ann Arbor?  TED: It's interesting, my sister went to Penn State, I loved visiting her and the big college experience. I thought I might like to do that. And everybody I talked to had only good things to say about Michigan. It was also by the way, right about the time that The Big Chill came out. Not that my life was guided by fiction, by a movie. But it was literally right at that moment we were making college decisions. And here's his movie about this group of friends that come together for a sad occasion. I don't know if you saw it or are familiar with it, but, boy do they love Michigan. It's when I heard from everyone I talked to, I had friends from my Israel trip the summer before who were going to school there. And it just became the natural destination, and everybody was right. It's an amazing place. And I had an incredible experience there. And met Jill there, which of course makes it the best of all. MANYA: You chaired the University Hillel's governing board, and you were co-editor of Consider magazine, which was launched by Hillel. And this was a magazine that made it its mission to solicit compelling arguments on multiple sides of an issue. Kind of, stoking conversation, right?   TED: I was proud to do it when I was in college, but thinking about where we are now in this time where everyone has their own social media feed that plays to the things that they're interested in passionate about, criticizes the things that they don't like. Everyone has their own, their own feed, their own cable news channel. They are more and more associated with people who believe the things that they believe we were, I think doing an important service that I don't want to overstate it. But when you look back, we could, I think, benefit from a willingness to engage a little more with people whose views are different than ours. And that's what it was about. It's interesting to think about the conversations, the debates we have today, where we always want to just make this a black and white issue. You either believe this or you believe that and as you point out, in almost every occasion there are substantially more than two sides and there's nuance and engaging in a sophisticated way, requires a lot more than then simply throwing down the gauntlet and saying I'm right and you're wrong, or as is troubling these days- I'm right and you're terrible or you're an idiot or you're evil or all of the other things that people say now instead of engaging in meaningful debate. MANYA: But I have to ask, how does that jibe with AJC's advocacy role? I mean, journalists foster conversation. But as an advocacy organization, AJC picks a side.  TED:  There are different sides on different issues. When a conversation is really appropriate, occasionally there are things that are just so clear, that it becomes paramount that you stop trying to look for some competing argument and stand on the side of what is clearly just and right, and in the best interest of a better world.  The best example is when you take the position that we should deny life-saving support to an ally in Iron Dome, the Iron Dome replenishment debate. When you say that you can't support funding for that program, which saves the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, and has prevented conflicts from escalating, and has been used to protect civilians when terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are sending rockets, aimed indiscriminately, but meant to to kill civilians? If you can't support that, if your position is such that this particular ally, only one ally, Israel, which happens to be the only Jewish nation in the world, that if your position is that you can't even support the kind of program that saves the lives of civilians against terror attacks, then there's only so much I'm going to engage on. MANYA: Of course, you're talking about the debate about the Iron Dome funding last spring that pitted you against Rep. Rashida Tlaib.  She was actually in your own party. I want to talk about that a little more.  AJC is nonpartisan. And while you were in Congress, you earned a reputation for sometimes bucking party lines. You didn't side with Democrats on the Obama administration's Iran nuclear deal, you supported the Trump Administration's Abraham Accords. Why did you break rank like that?  TED: At a time when partisanship rages, fighting antisemitism can't, we can't allow that to fall prey to that to partisanship. And likewise, defending the US-Israel relationship and supporting Israel and in handling Israel's position in the world also shouldn't fall prey to partisanship. And that means being very clear, when people take positions that are for partisan reasons or anything else, are outside of the broad consensus that has existed and continues to exist in Congress and in America, that we should support our allies. And, then when it comes to fighting antisemitism, as we've already discussed, that we should come together for the benefit of security of the Jewish people, but also because we're ultimately protecting much more than that when we fight antisemitism. MANYA: You first went to Israel before your senior year in high school with Camp Ramah and you believe being on the ground there really is important to comprehend its significance, its complexities. I personally have not been, so I'm sincerely looking forward to AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv next June. Since that first trip as a high school student, you've been to Israel countless times now – what memories stick with you? TED: When you have the opportunity, when you go to Israel and you go to Jerusalem and the Kotel and everything that you've done, whatever connection you've had to Judaism, it immediately comes to life. I remember the conversations that we had with Israelis while we were there, which is still something that I think is really important to do every time you visit, that it's not just about looking at sites, but to actually understand the connection that we have as Jews, with people who live in Israel. And to think that this is a place that we're praying about, hoping for, for 2000 years. And every time I go back, I walk into someone's house for Shabbat dinner and some of the shuls and various minyans. Some had already ended, some were ramping down. You could hear from everywhere you walked, people davening. You just think about how unique that is, to be in a Jewish state like that. Every time, I mean, every time that's something that I'm thinking about. MANYA: You introduced a number of your congressional colleagues –both Republican and Democrat – to the Jewish state. But I'd like for you to tell our listeners about one trip in particular that you took with fellow Floridian Ileana Ros Lehtinen – a Republican congresswoman at the time – back in 2014. While you were there, the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found. Kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists linked to Hamas. TED: Ileana and I went on an official trip together. The first time we were there, the timing was such that we were there for Jill's, my wife's cousin's son's Bar Mitzvah. So we went to this bar mitzvah dinner, and celebration. And we were there just after we had all participated in events all over the country all over the world, about the three boys that had been missing, and all these events took place, and everybody was praying for their safe return.  And it was during the bar mitzvah, that all at this one moment, everyone's phones went off. And everybody looked. It was this incredible moment where the news broke that the bodies of the boys had been discovered, and that they had been killed by terrorists, and which is what so many people had feared. And so first, there's this moment where, where people didn't know what to do, but because it's Israel, and most importantly, it's a simcha. There was almost this defiance, that even having just received this terrible news. People were more passionate about dancing the hora, and about celebrating this bar mitzvah. And that was a really powerful moment.  And then we completely rearranged our schedule for the next day, so that we could attend the funeral for the boys. And there was so much that was so powerful about it, when we pulled up and it looked like literally half of the nation of Israel was walking toward this funeral.  And, and Ileana and I had the opportunity, we were privileged to sit in the front. And the funeral itself was so powerful, the whole experience was so powerful, but then we made a shiva call.  And we had the chance, it was a of all the things I've been able to do in Israel, this was a such a powerful moment for me, because we had the opportunity to pay respects, not just because we were on this trip, but we were on an official trip and we could pay our respects, offer our condolences on behalf of the American people, on behalf of the Jewish community that had been that had been praying all over the world. And as I explained to some of the students who were there, the fellow students of those who were killed. And as I explained in the best Hebrew that I could, that I wanted them to understand that it's one thing to say that, you're not alone at this moment. But having participated in these massive events the week before in my community and in Washington. I wanted them to know that I knew exactly what I was saying and that there were people all over the world who were literally mourning with them. MANYA: You did that here as well  in the United States as well, attended shivas I mean, after the school shooting that killed 17 in Parkland.  TED: I haven't ever thought of that parallel. In both cases. I was an elected official. I was in a place that I desperately wanted to avoid, or I would, I desperately would have prayed that, that the circumstances that led me there never happened. And in both instances, and so in Florida, I went to a lot of funerals after February 14, and a lot of them were Jewish funerals. That's a moment when emotion is the rawest that it can possibly be and, in both cases, we did what we're told to do at shiva: we sat and we listened. We listened to stories about, in both cases by the way, the young lives cut short and all the things that these kids had done in their short lives, and all the things that they would have done if they hadn't been killed. There are a lot of similarities. And coming out of both of those is the rededication to the important work. MANYA: So, what's in store for AJC with you at the helm? Do you have big ideas you want to implement? TED: It's not my plan to come in and, and start to make drastic changes, I'm going to come in and I'm going to listen to everyone, and understand at a deeper level, the work that's done. But the one thing I know for sure, is that that the effort to defend the interests of the Jewish people, to create resilient Jews, wherever they live, to defend all 15 million Jews in the world, by fighting antisemitism, educating people on antisemitism, advocating because ultimately AJC is an advocacy organization, building the relationships that will help to strengthen the community, and speaking out boldly, when it's necessary to make sure people understand what's at stake here.  Those are the things that I look forward to doing. But more than anything else, there is so much work that AJC does to advocate for the Jewish community around the world. And, and to, to enhance Israel's place in the world. And to speak out for human rights, and democracy.  There's so much work that's done that people don't know about. And when you have an organization that's engaged in advocacy, that means you're advocating on a whole host of different issues. And sometimes, we forget that- not we, AJC. But the world forgets that they're all related.  And so when it comes to, to supporting Israel and standing up for the Jewish community,  to be able to know that that we are advocating for the community wherever they live, from Seattle to Chicago, to New York, Buenos Aires, Paris, Jerusalem, and to do it by building the relationships at the local level, at the federal level in Washington, with the ambassadorial corps in Washington and Consuls General around the country. At the UN, where AJC is on the ground every day, at in capitals around the world with with foreign ministers and heads of state, those relationships everywhere in the world that AJC has built that its its volunteers and leaders have spent so much time engaged in, the intergroup work that has come from from that work. All of that strengthens the Jewish community. And, and, and helps to lift up Israel and its place in the world in a way that is unique.  MANYA: You're coming from a role in Congress in which you fought for measures to slow climate change, curb gun violence, have peace with other countries, balancing the nation's budget – a plethora of issues. Here, at AJC, you'll be a little more focused on Israel and the Jewish people. But how are both jobs similar? TED: We talked earlier about Tikkun Olam. And it's important and we're all engaged in that in all of the ways that we choose to be. But when I think about AJC's work, if I'm looking to if I'm looking to our text, it's really it's it's called Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze Bazeh, right - We're all responsible one for another– it's all about Jewish peoplehood and the connections that we have, not just to our fellow Jews in our communities, but everywhere in the world. In the United States, that means making sure that we all understand where we come from, which is both all of the things that our history has provided us –the contributions that we've made to history as a whole, and the impact that history has had on us. MANYA: You are a father of three young'ns in their 20s. Very accomplished, young'ns in their own right, I should add. Why should AJC be paying more attention to their generation?  TED: AJC has this unique opportunity to take the existing program than it does for young people, early in their careers, the programming to create well-educated, passionate advocates, who are and will continue to be leaders in their respective communities, from their schools to their campus, to wherever it is they move when they graduate. That program is so exciting to me and the opportunity to see that continue to grow, so that all of these leaders can then engage in the work that we've just been discussing. For AJC, for everyone, it means not just providing lessons, it means listening, and engaging with young people who have the capacity to lead right now. And we see it on Instagram, with some of the accounts that young people have set up.  We've seen it all over social media, we see it in things that people write, we have to help build that up, meet them where they are, recognize that they're already leaders, contribute to their future growth. That's an enormous opportunity.  And I think that the way that AJC goes about its work can help do that.  Last thing I'll say is this. There are young people who have been so engaged on their campuses, on social media, sometimes feeling, and I had spoken to a number of them, sometimes feeling like they're on an island, and providing a real home for them to come together to confront these issues that they're facing. To help them understand what we can do to change the narrative by lifting up their voices. That's the moment that we're in that I think we really need to capitalize on. MANYA: After the Parkland shooting, you really raised your voice about addressing the forces and circumstances that led to this horrific act of violence. How will that experience, which I know was life changing for so many including yourself, how will that inform the direction you lead AJC? TED: I think the most important thing I learned during that whole experience was the power of young people, high school kids, who helped to start this whole movement from their dining room table and the leadership role that they play. If we're not talking about the threat, then it's going to make it a whole lot harder for all of us who want to prevent these things from happening to succeed. So, yes, we've got to be clear, as we as we talk about, as we acknowledge this rise in antisemitism, and we have to focus on it wherever it comes from, and we need to be clear that the the threats that rising antisemitism pose are threats to the entire community. I talked about this at the UN several years ago, the the fact is when there's antisemitism in the country that is festering and it affects not just the Jews, it is never just the Jews. The guy who went into that Walmart in El Paso. These are people who, so many of them at their core antisemites, you see it and what they've said and what they've written. So we should all be paying close attention to the rise in antisemitism. And we should be working with everyone we can to help educate them about the threat that it poses.  Yes, to the Jewish community, first and foremost, and so that the Jewish community understands that, that there is this recognition and that they can feel safe and and we can build resilience in the Jewish community. But also, for everyone else to understand that we're by tackling antisemitism, we're also helping to make our country and ultimately this is a worldwide phenomenon, clearly, we're helping to create a safer world for everyone. MANYA: Ted, thank you so much for joining us, in your first week on the job, no less. TED: Thanks. This is really fun by the way. MANYA: Well, it's been a pleasure getting to know you and I'm sure we'll have you back on the air again soon. TED: I look forward to it.  

First News with Jimmy Cefalo
09-28-22 A Fond Goodbye

First News with Jimmy Cefalo

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2022 4:56


Congressman Ted Deutch, Dem, District 22 *Follow him on Twitter: @RepTedDeutch. His Farewell Interview with us before reaving for his new job is leading the American Jewish Committee.

AJC Passport
Here's Why All of Society Must Take Action Against Antisemitism

AJC Passport

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2022 26:14 Very Popular


It is no secret that antisemitism is on the rise in the United States. American Jewish Committee's (AJC) 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed that 90% of Jewish respondents believe antisemitism is a problem. Until now, there has not been a single resource for American society to tackle the world's oldest hatred. In a just-released mobilization tool, AJC's Call to Action Against Antisemitism in America highlights a path forward for all sectors of society, including government, corporations, the media, college campuses, and more. Listen as Holly Huffnagle, AJC's U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism, breaks down this resource and explains why addressing antisemitism requires a bold, targeted, and cohesive strategy to understand, respond to, and prevent it. ___ Episode Lineup: (0:40) Holly Huffnagle ___ Show Notes: Learn more about AJC's Call to Action Against Antisemitism: ajc.org/call-to-action Check out season 1 of The Forgotten Exodus: ajc.org/forgottenexodus Listen to our latest podcast episode: What a Restored Deal with Iran Could Mean for Israel and the Entire Middle East Follow People of the Pod on your favorite podcast app, and learn more at AJC.org/PeopleofthePod You can reach us at: peopleofthepod@ajc.org If you've enjoyed this episode, please be sure to tell your friends, tag us on social media with #PeopleofthePod, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review, to help more listeners find us.

The Forgotten Exodus
Iran

The Forgotten Exodus

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2022 37:01 Very Popular


Home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, the story of Jews in Iran has been one of prosperity and suffering through the millennia. During the mid-20th century, when Jews were being driven from their homes in Arab lands, Iran assisted Jewish refugees in providing safe passage to Israel. Under the Shah, Israel was an important economic and political ally. Yet that all swiftly changed in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ushered in Islamic rule, while chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” rang out from the streets of Tehran.   Author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian shares her personal story of growing up Jewish in Iran during the reign of the Shah and then Ayatollah Khomeini, which she wrote about in her memoir Journey From the Land of No. Joining Hakakian is Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history who wrote From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of AJC Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants.  In this sixth and final episode of the season, the Hakakian family's saga captures the common thread that has run throughout this series – when the history of an uprooted community is left untold, it can become vulnerable to others' narratives and assumptions, or become lost forever and forgotten. How do you leave behind a beloved homeland, safeguard its Jewish legacy, and figure out where you belong? ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Song credits:  Chag Purim · The Jewish Guitar Project Hevenu Shalom · Violin Heart Pond5:  “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Oud Nation”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Haygaz Yossoulkanian (BMI), IPI#1001905418 “Persian”: Publisher: STUDEO88; Composer: Siddhartha Sharma “Meditative Middle Eastern Flute”: Publisher: N/; Composer: DANIELYAN ASHOT MAKICHEVICH (IPI NAME #00855552512), UNITED STATES BMI Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Persian Investigative Mystery”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Peter Cole (BMI), IPI#679735384 “Persian Wind”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Sigma (SESAC); Composer: Abbas Premjee (SESAC), IPI#572363837 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Persian Fantasy Tavern”: Publisher: N/A; Composer: John Hoge “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833.   ___ Episode Transcript: ROYA HAKAKIAN: In 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. When I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus.  Today's episode: Leaving Iran MANYA: Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. Yes, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2022. Though there is no official census, experts estimate about 10,000 Jews now live in the region previously known as Persia.  But since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Jews in Iran don't advertise their Jewish identity. They adhere to Iran's morality code: women stay veiled from head to toe and men and women who aren't married or related stay apart in public. They don't express support for Israel, they don't ask questions, and they don't disagree with the regime. One might ask, with all these don'ts, is this a way of living a Jewish life? Or a way to live – period?  For author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian and her family, the answer was ultimately no. Roya has devoted her life to being a fact-finder and truth-teller. A former associate producer at the CBS news show 60 Minutes and a Guggenheim Fellow, Roya has written two volumes of poetry in Persian and three books of nonfiction in English, the first of which was published in 2004 – Journey From the Land of No, a memoir about her charmed childhood and accursed adolescence growing up Jewish in Iran under two different regimes.  ROYA: It was hugely important for me to create an account that could be relied on as a historic document. And I did my best through being very, very careful about gathering, interviewing, talking to, observing facts, evidence, documents from everyone, including my most immediate members of my family, to do what we, both as reporters, but also as Jews, are called to do, which is to bear witness. No seemed to be the backdrop of life for women, especially of religious minorities, and, in my own case, Jewish background, and so I thought, what better way to name the book than to call it as what my experience had been, which was the constant nos that I heard. So, Land of No was Iran. MANYA: As a journalist, as a Jew, as a daughter of Iran, Roya will not accept no for an answer. After publishing her memoir, she went on to write Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, a meticulously reported book about a widely underreported incident. In 1992 at a Berlin restaurant, a terrorist attack by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted and killed four Iranian-Kurdish exiles. The book highlighted Iran's enormous global footprint made possible by its terror proxies who don't let international borders get in the way of silencing Iran's critics.   Roya also co-founded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an independent non-profit that reports on Iran's human rights abuses.  Her work has not prompted Ayatollah Khameini to publicly issue a fatwa against her  – like the murder order against Salman Rushdie issued by his predecessor. But in 2019, one of her teenage sons answered a knock at the door. It was the FBI, warning her that she was in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime's operatives in America. Most recently, Roya wrote A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious about the emotional roller coaster of arriving in America while still missing a beloved homeland, especially one where their community has endured for thousands of years. ROYA: I felt very strongly that one stays in one's homeland, that you don't just simply take off when things go wrong, that you stick around and try to figure a way through a bad situation. We came to the point where staying didn't seem like it would lead to any sort of real life and leaving was the only option. MANYA: The story of Jews in Iran, often referred to as Persia until 1935, is a millennia-long tale. A saga of suffering, repression, and persecution, peppered with brief moments of relief or at least relative peace – as long as everyone plays by the rules of the regime. SABA SOOMEKH: The history of Jews in Iran goes back to around 2,700 years ago. And a lot of people assume that Jews came to Iran, well at that time, it was called the Persian Empire, in 586 BCE, with the Babylonian exile. But Jews actually came a lot earlier, we're thinking 721-722 BCE with the Assyrian exile which makes us one of the oldest Jewish communities.  MANYA: That's Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history and the author of From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. Saba's parents fled Iran in 1978, shortly before the revolution, when Saba and her sister were toddlers. She has devoted her career to preserving Iranian Jewish history.   Saba said Zoroastrian rulers until the 7th Century Common Era vacillated between tolerance and persecution of Jews. For example, according to the biblical account in the Book of Ezra, Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian rule, granted all of them citizenship, and permitted them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple.  The Book of Esther goes on to tell the story of another Persian king, believed to be Xerxes I, whose closest adviser called Haman conspires to murder all the Jews – a plot that is foiled by his wife Queen Esther who is Jewish herself. Esther heroically pleads for mercy on behalf of her people – a valor that is celebrated on the Jewish holiday of Purim.  But by the time of the Islamic conquest in the middle of the 7th Century Common Era, the persecution had become so intense that Jews were hopeful about the new Arab Muslim regime, even if that meant being tolerated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmi status. But that status had a different interpretation for the Safavids. SABA: Really things didn't get bad for the Jews of the Persian Empire until the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty, because within Shia Islam in the Persian Empire, what they brought with them is this understanding of purity and impurity. And Jews were placed in the same category as dogs, pigs, and feces. They were seen as being religiously impure, what's referred to as najes. MANYA: Jews were placed in ghettos called mahaleh, where they wore yellow stars and special shoes to distinguish them from the rest of the population. They could not leave the mahaleh when it rained for fear that if water rolled off their bodies into the water system, it would render a Shia Muslim impure. For the same reason, they could not go to the bazaars for fear they might contaminate the food. They could not look Muslims in the eye. They were relegated to certain artisanal professions such as silversmithing and block printing – crafts that dirtied one's hands.  MANYA: By the 19th century, some European Jews did make their way to Persia to help. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based network of schools founded by French Jewish intellectuals, opened schools for Jewish children throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including within the mahalehs in Persia.  SABA: They saw themselves as being incredibly sophisticated because they were getting this, in a sense, secular European education, they were speaking French. The idea behind the Allianz schools was exactly that. These poor Middle Eastern Jews, one day the world is going to open up to them, their countries are going to become secular, and we need to prepare them for this, not only within the context of hygiene, but education, language.  And the Allianz schools were right when it came to the Persian Empire because who came into power was Reza Pahlavi, who was a Francophile. And he turned around and said, ‘Wow! Look at the population that speaks French, that knows European philosophy, etc. are the Jews.' He brought them out of the mahaleh, the Jewish ghettos, and said ‘I don't care about religion. Assimilate and acculturate. As long as you show, in a sense, devotion, and nationalism to the Pahlavi regime, which the Jews did—not all Jews—but a majority of them did. MANYA: Reza Pahlavi took control in 1925 and 16 years later, abdicated his throne to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1935, Persia adopted a new name: Iran. As king or the Shah, both father and son set Iran on a course of secularization and rapid modernization under which Jewish life and success seemed to flourish. The only condition was that religious observance was kept behind closed doors. SABA: The idea was that in public, you were secular and in private, you were a Jew. You had Shabbat, you only married a Jew, it was considered blasphemous if you married outside of the Jewish community. And it was happening because people were becoming a part of everyday schools, universities.  But that's why the Jewish day schools became so important. They weren't learning Judaism. What it did was ensure that in a secular Muslim society, that the Jewish kids were marrying within each other and within the community. It was, in a sense, the Golden Age. And that will explain to you why, unlike the early 1950s, where you had this exodus of Mizrahi Jews, Arab Jews from the Arab world and North Africa, you didn't really have that in Iran.  MANYA: In fact, Iran provided a safe passage to Israel for Jewish refugees during that exodus, specifically those fleeing Iraq. The Pahlavi regime considered Israel a critical ally in the face of pan-Arab fervor and hostility in the region. Because of the Arab economic boycott, Israel needed energy sources and Iran needed customers for its oil exports.  A number of Israelis even moved to Tehran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture, and doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital who had come to teach medicine.  El Al flew in and out of Tehran airport, albeit from a separate terminal. Taking advantage of these warm relations between the two countries, Roya recalls visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins in Israel.  ROYA: We arrived, and my mom and dad did what all visiting Jews from elsewhere do. They dropped to their knees, and they started kissing the ground. I did the same, and it was so moving. Israel was the promised land, we thought about Israel, we dreamed about Israel. But, at the same time, we were Iranians and, and we were living in Iran, and things were good.  This seems to non-Iranian Jews an impossibility. But I think for most of us, it was the way things were. We lived in the country where we had lived for, God knows how many years, and there was this other place that we somehow, in the back of our minds thought we would be going to, without knowing exactly when, but that it would be the destination. MANYA: Relations between the Shah and America flourished as well. In 1951, a hugely popular politician by the name of Mohammad Mosaddegh became prime minister and tried to institute reforms. His attempts to nationalize the oil industry and reduce the monarchy's authority didn't go over well. American and British intelligence backed a coup that restored the Shah's power. Many Iranians resented America's meddling, which became a rallying cry for the revolution. U.S. officials have since expressed regret for the CIA's involvement.  In November 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Shah and his wife to Washington, D.C., to discuss peace between Egypt and Israel, nuclear nonproliferation, and the energy crisis.  As an extension of these warm relations, the Shah sent many young Iranians to America to enhance their university studies, exposing them to Western ideals and values.  Meanwhile, a savvy fundamentalist cleric was biding his time in a Paris basement. It wouldn't be long before relations crumbled between Iran and Israel, Iran and the U.S,. and Iran and its Jews.  Roya recalls the Hakakian house at the corner of Alley of the Distinguished in Tehran as a lush oasis surrounded by fragrant flowers, full of her father's poetry, and brimming with family memories. Located in the heart of a trendy neighborhood, across the street from the Shah's charity organization, the tall juniper trees, fragrant honeysuckle, and gold mezuzah mounted on the door frame set it apart from the rest of the homes.  Roya's father, Haghnazar, was a poet and a respected headmaster at a Hebrew school. Roya, which means dream in Persian, was a budding poet herself with the typical hopes and dreams of a Jewish teenage girl.  ROYA: Prior to the revolution, life in an average Tehran Hebrew Day School looked very much like life in a Hebrew Day School anywhere else. In the afternoons we had all Hebrew and Jewish studies. We used to put on a Purim show every year. I wanted to be Esther. I never got to be Esther. We had emissaries, I think a couple of years, from Israel, who came to teach us how to do Israeli folk dance. MANYA: There were moments when Roya recalls feeling self-conscious about her Jewishness, particularly at Passover. That's when the family spent two weeks cleaning, demonstrating they weren't najes, or dirty Jews. The work was rewarded when the house filled with the fragrance of cumin and saffron and Persian dishes flowed from the kitchen, including apple and plum beef stew, tarragon veal balls stuffed with raisins, and rice garnished with currants and slivers of almonds.  When her oldest brother Alberto left to study in America, a little fact-finding work on Roya's part revealed that his departure wasn't simply the pursuit of a promising opportunity. As a talented cartoonist whose work had been showcased during an exhibition in Tehran, his family feared Alberto's pen might have gone too far, offending the Pahlavi regime and drawing the attention of the Shah's secret police.  Reports of repression, rapid modernization, the wide gap between Tehran's rich and the rest of the country's poor, and a feeling that Iranians weren't in control of their own destiny all became ingredients for a revolution, stoked by an exiled cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini who was recording cassette tapes in a Paris basement and circulating them back home.  SABA: He would just sit there and go on and on for hours, going against the Shah and West toxification. And then the recordings ended up in Iran. He wasn't even in Iran until the Shah left. MANYA: Promises of democracy and equality galvanized Iranians of all ages to overthrow the Shah in February 1979. Even the CIA was surprised.  SABA: I think a lot of people didn't believe it. Because number one, the Shah, the son, was getting the most amount of military equipment from the United States than anyone in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. And the idea was: you protect us in the Gulf, and we will give you whatever you need. So they never thought that a man with a beard down to his knee was able to overthrow this regime that was being propped up and supported by America, and also the Europeans. Khomeini comes in and represents himself as a person for everyone. And he was brilliant in the way he spoke about it. And the reason why this revolution was also successful was that it wasn't just religious people who supported Khomeini, there was this concept you had, the men with the turbans, meaning the religious people, and the you know, the bow ties or the ties, meaning the secular man, a lot of them who were sent by the Shah abroad to Europe and America to get an education, who came back, saw democracy there, and wanted it for their country.  MANYA: Very few of the revolutionaries could predict that Tehran was headed in the opposite direction and was about to revert to 16th Century Shia Islamic rule. For almost a year, Tehran and the rest of the nation were swept up in revolutionary euphoria.  Roya recalls how the flag remained green, white, and red, but an Allah insignia replaced its old sword-bearing lion. New currency was printed, with portraits bearing beards and turbans. An ode to Khomeini became the new national anthem. While the Shah had escaped on an Air France flight, corpses of his henchmen graced the front pages of newspapers alongside smiling executioners. All celebrated, until the day one of the corpses was Habib Elghanian, the Jewish philanthropist who supported all of Iran's Hebrew schools. Charged and convicted as a Zionist spy.  Elders in the community remembered the insurmountable accusations of blood libel during darker times for Iran's Jews. But younger generations like Roya's, who had not lived through the eras of more ruthless antisemitism and persecution, continued to root for the revolution, regardless of its victims. Meanwhile, Roya's Jewish day school was taken over by a new veiled headmistress who replaced Hebrew lessons with other kinds of religious instruction, and required robes and headscarves for all the students.  ROYA: In the afternoons, from then on, we used to have lessons in a series of what she called: ‘Is religion something that you inherit, or is it something that you choose?' And so I think the intention, clearly, was to convince us that we didn't need to inherit our religions from our parents and ancestors, that we ought to consider better choices. MANYA: But when the headmistress cut short the eight-day Passover break, that was the last straw for Roya and her classmates. Their revolt got her expelled from school.  Though Jews did not universally support Khomeini, some saw themselves as members of the Iranian Communist, or Tudeh Party. They opposed the Shah and the human rights abuses of his monarchy and cautiously considered Khomeini the better option, or at least the lesser of two evils. Alarmed by the developments such as Elghanian's execution and changes like the ones at Roya's school, Jewish community leaders traveled to the Shia holy city of Qom to assure the Supreme Leader of their loyalty to Iran.  SABA: They did this because they wanted to make sure that they protected the Jewish community that was left in Iran. Khomeini made that distinction: ‘I am not against Jews, I'm against Zionists. You could be Jewish in this country. You cannot be a Zionist in this country.'  MANYA: But that wasn't the only change. Right away, the Family Protection Law was reversed, lifting a law against polygamy, giving men full rights in divorce and custody, and lowering the marriage age for girls to nine. Women were banned from serving as judges, and beaches and sports events were segregated by gender.  But it took longer to shut down universities, albeit for only two years, segregate public schools by gender, and stone to death women who were found to have committed adultery. Though Khomeini was certainly proving that he was not the man he promised to be, he backed away from those promises gradually – one brutal crackdown at a time. As a result, the trickle of Jews out of Iran was slow.  ROYA: My father thought, let's wait a few years and see what happens. In retrospect, I think the overwhelming reason was probably that nobody believed that things had changed, and so drastically. It seemed so unbelievable. I mean, a country that had been under monarchy for 2,500 years, couldn't simply see it all go and have a whole new system put in place, especially when it was such a radical shift from what had been there before. So I think, in many ways, we were among the unbelievers, or at least my father was, we thought it could never be, it would not happen. My father proved to be wrong, nothing changed for the better, and the conditions continued to deteriorate. So, so much catastrophe happened in those few years that Iran just simply was steeped into a very dark, intense, and period of political radicalism and also, all sorts of economic shortages and pressures. And so the five years that we were left behind, that we stayed back, changed our perspective on so many things. MANYA: In November 1979, a group of radical university students who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seized hostages, and held them for 444 days until President Ronald Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981. During the hostages' captivity, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The conflict that ensued for eight years created shortages on everything from dairy products to sanitary napkins. Mosques became distribution centers for rations. ROYA: We stood in line for hours and hours for eggs, and just the very basic things of daily life. And then it became also clear that religious minorities, including Jews, would no longer be enjoying the same privileges as everyone else. There were bombings that kept coming closer and closer to Tehran, which is where we lived. It was very clear that half of my family that was in the United States could not and would not return, because they were boys who would have been conscripted to go to war. Everything had just come apart in a way that was inconceivable to think that they would change for the better again. MANYA: By 1983, new laws had been passed instituting Islamic dress for all women – violations of which earned a penalty of 74 lashes. Other laws imposed an Islamic morality code that barred co-ed gatherings. Roya and her friends found refuge in the sterile office building that housed the Jewish Iranian Students Association. But she soon figured out that the regime hadn't allowed it to remain for the benefit of the Jewish community. It functioned more like a ghetto to keep Jews off the streets and out of their way. Even the activities that previously gave her comfort were marred by the regime. Poetry books were redacted. Mountain hiking trails were arbitrarily closed to mourn the deaths of countless clerics.  SABA: Slowly what they realize, when Khomeini gained power, was that he was not the person that he claimed to be. He was not this feminist, if anything, all this misogynistic rule came in, and a lot of people realize they, in a sense, got duped and he stole the revolution from them. MANYA: By 1984, the war with Iraq had entered its fourth year. But it was no longer about protecting Iran from Saddam Hussein. Now the Ayatollah wanted to conquer Baghdad, then Jerusalem where he aspired to deliver a sermon from the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim soldiers wounded in the war chose to bleed rather than receive treatment from Jewish doctors. Boys as young as 12 – regardless of faith – were drafted and sent on suicide missions to open the way for Iranian troops to do battle.  SABA: They were basically used as an army of children that the bombs would detonate, their parents would get a plastic key that was the key to heaven. And the bombs would detonate, and then the army would come in Iranian army would come in. And so that's when a lot of the Persian parents, the Jewish parents freaked out. And that's when they were like: we're getting out of here.  MANYA: By this time, the Hakakian family had moved into a rented apartment building and Roya was attending the neighborhood school. Non-Muslim students were required to take Koran classes and could only use designated water fountains and bathrooms.  As a precaution, Roya's father submitted their passports for renewal. Her mother's application was denied; Roya's passport was held for further consideration; her father's was confiscated.  One night, Roya returned home to find her father burning her books and journals on the balcony of their building. The bonfire of words was for the best, he told her. And at long last, so was leaving. With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Roya and her mother, Helen, fled to Geneva, and after wandering in Europe for several months, eventually reunited with her brothers in the United States. Roya did not see her father again for five years. Still unable to acquire a passport, he was smuggled out of Iran into Pakistan, on foot.  ROYA: My eldest brother left to come to America in the mid-70s. There was a crack in the body of the family then. But then came 1979, and my two other brothers followed. And so we were apart for all those very, very formative years. And then, in 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. So, you know, it's interesting that when I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA: While her father's arrival in America was delayed, Roya describes her arrival in stages. She first arrived as a Jewish refugee in 1985 and found her place doing what she had always done – writing in Persian – rebuilding a body of work that had been reduced to ashes.  ROYA: As a teen I had become a writer, people were encouraging me. So, I continued to do it. It was the thing I knew how to do. And it gave me a sense of grounding and identity. So, I kept on doing it, and it kind of worked its magic, as I suppose good writing does for all writers. It connected me to a new community of people who read Persian and who appreciated what I was trying to do. And I found that with each book that I write, I find a new tribe for myself.  MANYA: She arrived again once she learned English. In her first year at Brooklyn College, she tape-recorded her professors to listen again later. She eventually took a course with renowned poet Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry was best known for its condemnation of persecution and imperial politics and whose 1950s poem “Howl” tested the boundaries of America's freedom of speech.  ROYA: When I mastered the language enough to feel comfortable to be a writer once more, then I found a footing and through Allen and a community of literary people that I met here began to kind of foresee a possibility of writing in English. MANYA: There was also her arrival to an American Jewish community that was largely unaware of the role Jews played in shaping Iran long before the advent of Islam. Likewise, they were just as unaware of the role Iran played in shaping ancient Jewish life. They were oblivious to the community's traditions, and the indignities and abuses Iranian Jews had suffered, continue to suffer, with other religious minorities to keep those traditions alive in their homeland.   ROYA: People would say, ‘Oh, you have an accent, where are you from?' I would say, ‘Iran,' and the Jews at the synagogue would say, ‘Are there Jews in Iran?' MANYA: In Roya's most recent book A Beginner's Guide to America, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, she reflects on the lessons learned and the observations made once she arrived in the U.S. She counsels newcomers to take their time answering what might at first seem like an ominous or loaded question. Here's an excerpt: ROYA: “In the early days after your arrival, “Where are you from?” is above all a reminder of your unpreparedness to speak of the past. You have yet to shape your story – what you saw, why you left, how you left, and what it took to get here. This narrative is your personal Book of Genesis: the American Volume, the one you will sooner or later pen, in the mind, if not on the page. You must take your time to do it well and do it justice.” MANYA: No two immigrants' experiences are the same, she writes. The only thing they all have in common is that they have been uprooted and the stories of their displacement have been hijacked by others' assumptions and agendas. ROYA: I witnessed, as so many other Iranian Jews witness, that the story of how we came, why we came, who we had been, was being narrated by those who had a certain partisan perspective about what the history of what Jewish people should be, or how this history needs to be cast, for whatever purposes they had. And I would see that our own recollections of what had happened were being shaded by, or filtered through views other than our own, or facts other than our own. MANYA: As we wrap up this sixth and final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, it is clear that the same can be said about the stories of the Jewish people. No two tales are the same. Jews have lived everywhere, and there are reasons why they don't anymore. Some fled as refugees. Some embarked as dreamers. Some forged ahead without looking back. Others counted the days until they could return home. What ties them together is their courage, perseverance, and resilience–whether they hailed from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or parts beyond. These six episodes offer only a handful of those stories–shaped by memories and experiences. ROYA: That became sort of an additional incentive, if not burden for me to, to be a witness for several communities, to tell the story of what happened in Iran for American audiences, to Jews, to non-Iranian Jews who didn't realize that there were Jews in Iran, but also to record the history, according to how I had witnessed it, for ourselves, to make sure that it goes down, as I knew it. MANYA: Iranian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left their homes in the Middle East to forge new lives for themselves and future generations.  Many thanks to Roya for sharing her family's story and for helping us wrap up this season of The Forgotten Exodus. If you're listening for the first time, check out our previous episodes on Jews from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Go to ajc.org/theforgottenexodus where you'll also find transcripts, show notes, and family photos. There are still so many stories to tell. Stay tuned in coming months. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories.  Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891.1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to theforgottenexodus@ajc.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus.  Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC.  You can reach us at theforgottenexodus@ajc.org. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.

Committing High Reason
Ben Gurion's Betrayal of American Jewry: The Jacob Blaustein Story

Committing High Reason

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2022 30:29


At this week's gala WZO 125th Anniversary soiree in Basel, Switzerland, Israel's "Minister of Diaspora Affairs" made mentioned a "deal" between Ben Gurion and Jacob Blaustein regarding the relationship between American Jewry and Israel. He called for a renewed such "agreement" to be made today. But the way the story was described is fiction. American Jews complained to Ben Gurion that Israel was putting American Jews in danger. Ben Gurion promised to change Israel's presentation of itself as the Jewish state, but he betrayed his promise, as did Zionist leaders, repeatedly. In this podcast, the real story of Israel's betrayal of American Jewry.The Times of Israel articleBen Gurion's letter to the AJCPhoto: Jospeh Proskauer. Bain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Forgotten Exodus
Sudan

The Forgotten Exodus

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2022 35:18 Very Popular


Financier, philanthropist, and longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation Nessim Gaon was proud of the Sudanese birthright that made him part of a long lineage of Jews from Arab lands. However, with growing antisemitism in Sudan, he also believed Israel offered the only safe haven for Jews around the world and devoted his life to constantly improving the Zionist project.  Gaon's oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee, shares the story of her grandfather's flight from Sudan, his quest for equality in Israel, and his pursuit of peace between the Jewish state and Arab nations that led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt. Along with Dr. Herzog, oral historian Daisy Abboudi describes great changes in Sudan that take place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which saw the country emerge from a period of Islamic extremism to a land of possibilities for Jewish pioneers. However, this brief window of openness closes once again as Gaon's cousins, Diana Krief and Flore Eleini, describe how following Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Sudan once again became a terrifying place to be a Jew.  ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Song credits:  Saza Niye Glemedin; Penceresi Yola Karsi: all by Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road Pond5:  “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Hatikvah (National Anthem Of Israel, Electric Guitar)”; Composer: Composer: Eli Sibony; ID#122561081 “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. “A Middle East Lament”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Alpha (ASCAP); Composer: Dan Cullen (PRS), IPI#551977321 “Mystic Anatolia”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Alpha (ASCAP); Composer: Okan Akdeniz (MSG), IPI#37747892568 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Fields Of Elysium”; Publisher: Mysterylab Music; Composer: Mott Jordan; ID#79549862 ___ Episode Transcript: ALEXANDRA HERZOG: Oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.' And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image. MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience.  This is The Forgotten Exodus. Today's episode: Leaving Sudan MANYA: When Diana Krief and her 95-year-old mother Flore Eleini look back on their family's life in Sudan, they conjure dark memories. Flore remembers enjoying afternoon tea outside with her mother-in-law when soldiers armed with bayonets stormed the garden. FLORE ELEINI: Life was normal, life was good. And then, little by little. it deteriorated. We were the very, very last Jews to stay in the Sudan. And then, after the Six Day War, of course, they came, you know, in the street, they were shouting, kill, kill, kill, kill the Jews, kill, kill, kill the Jews. And one day, I thought it was our end. MANYA: Her daughter Diana remembers soldiers raiding their house and posters of decapitated Jews outside their home. DIANA KRIEF: It's actually by others that I came to know that I was Jewish, that I was a Jew, you know, born in a Jewish family. They used to come in front of the house with posters of Jews in the Mediterranean Sea with their heads cut off, and blood everywhere. That's the first time I had actually seen the land of Israel. I didn't know that we had a land before.  And it was “itbah” the whole time. And even when we would put the radio on, they would sing“itbah itbah al yahud.” That means “slaughter, slaughter the Jews”. And this always stayed in my memory. MANYA: In 1968, Flore and Diana were among the last Jews to flee Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. They followed a path to Geneva blazed by Flore's cousin, Nessim Gaon, a financier and philanthropist born and raised in Sudan who had moved from Khartoum to Switzerland a decade earlier.  Gaon, who died in May 2022 at the age of 100, was a legend in modern Jewish history. As a longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation, he worked to raise the profile of Sephardic Jews around the world and level the playing field for them in Israel – where Arabic speaking Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews were often looked down upon.  On the contrary, Gaon believed they offered Israel a gift – a link between the Jewish state and their former homes in the Arab world. Gaon himself offered a shining example. He persuaded his dear friend, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to meet with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, which led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt – the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. ALEXANDRA: For him when Israel was built, it really was like a miracle. He really, truly believed in the possibilities that Israel could offer. He also realized that Sephardic Jews could play a role in creating a bridge between Israel and the Arab countries, and that they would be able to help in creating peace or at least creating dialogue between some of those countries. And that's really what he did in his conversations with Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin.  MANYA: That's Gaon's oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, who now serves as the deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee. As her last name indicates, her mother Marguerite, Gaon's daughter, married into the Herzog dynasty. Alexandra's paternal grandfather was former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, and her uncle Isaac Herzog, is the Israeli president today.  But in addition to that proud legacy, Alexandra is especially proud of the impact her maternal grandfather made in helping Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews – a slight majority of Israel's Jewish population, but a significant majority of its Jewish poor – thrive, succeed, and lead in the Jewish state. Gaon was the driving force behind Project Renewal, an initiative launched in the 1970s to rehabilitate some of Israel's most distressed neighborhoods and improve education and social services there. He developed a bar mitzvah program that provided the education, ceremony, and gifts for thousands of underprivileged boys. And tens of thousands of young Sephardi leaders from impoverished neighborhoods received university scholarships. ALEXANDRA: A lot of the people who came out of this program are actually mayors or members of the Knesset – important people in Israel who actually have, as a ripple effect, a strong impact on the lives of other people as well. MANYA: The history of Sudan's once tiny and tight-knit Jewish community is limited to the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a brief window when it was safe to be Jewish in that Northeast African country. But the Sudanese diaspora's connection to that country runs unusually deep.  Sudan, Egypt's neighbor to the south, was much more than a waystation during the age of migration. It was a land of possibilities. Even if their forefathers spent centuries elsewhere, their descendants today often identify with the fleeting generations spent in Sudan. DAISY ABBOUDI: If you speak to people who were there, and you say, where are you from, they will say, Sudan, in a very proud, but definitive way. MANYA: That's Daisy Abboudi, a London-based oral historian of Sudanese Jewish history, who began her career by interviewing her own grandparents. DAISY: Sudanese is very much part of their identity and their descendants kind of focus on Sudan. And I know, there's this kind of phenomena from around the Middle East – a kind of nostalgia of looking back. There's kind of an inherited nostalgia that exists as well. But it's particularly strong in Sudan for a country where people didn't have thousands of years of roots. And I'm kind of always wondering, why? Why has it got this pull? MANYA: The reason could be embedded in the history of Sudan and the pioneering spirit of the Jews who landed in this rustic pocket of Northeast Africa, where the Blue and White Nile Rivers converged, the constellations shone brightly in the night sky, and the scent of jasmine and gardenia floated in the air. In the early 19th century, Sudanese and Egyptian residents lived under Ottoman rule. Jews in Egypt – and the few there might have been in Sudan – faced harsh taxes. But that changed toward the end of the 19th century, as the Ottoman Empire fell, and British forces took over Egypt, before moving south. With them came Christian missionaries who intended to “civilize” the tribes there. An opposition and independence movement began to build, led by a self-proclaimed Mahdi, who claimed to be the foretold redeemer of the Islamic nation. The 1966 epic film, Khartoum, depicts the infamous 1884 Siege of Khartoum, in which the Mahdi, portrayed by Hollywood superstar Laurence Olivier, defeated the popular British General Charles Gordon, played by another Hollywood legend of Ten Commandments fame, Charlton Heston. DAISY: When this independence movement starts, it's led by a man who calls himself the Mahdi, which means the kind of chosen one, and he wins, basically. He conquers Sudan quite quickly and then promptly dies of malaria and his successor takes over. But this period of independence, once it was established, is called the Mahdia, after the Mahdi.  It was an Islamic state, basically in that it was quite extremist. All the non-Muslim people living in Sudan had to convert to Islam. This was a law that was targeted at the missionaries who were there, but of course these Jews that were living there got caught up in that policy. MANYA: When the British conquered the Mahdi in 1898, that conversion law was revoked, and some converts reverted back to Judaism. The British built a railway line to supply the army and connect Egypt to Khartoum, the capital of the dual British-Egyptian colony. And soon, Sudan became a destination for Jewish families who sought to build economic opportunities from the ground up. DAISY: It was a kind of a mercantile community, a lot of shops, import-exports, cloth, gum Arabic, hibiscus. A couple of families grew and then traded hibiscus, which was like the main ingredient in cough syrup at the time. Don't forget, at that time, Sudan was very new – Khartoum especially, in terms of on the map in terms of European consciousness, obviously not new in terms of how long it's actually been there. But it was kind of seen or perceived as this new frontier. It was a bit off the beaten track.  There wasn't the mod cons or luxuries even of the day. So, it was people who were willing to take a little bit of a risk and dive into the unknown who would actually go to Sudan. MANYA: According to historian Naham Ilan, though the community was deeply traditional, it was largely secular and introduced many of Sudan's modern conveniences.  Morris Goldenberg from Cairo was the first optician in Khartoum. Jimmy and Toni Cain, refugees from Germany, ran a music hall and cabaret. Jewish students attended private Christian schools. By 1906, the Jewish community of Egypt invited Rabbi Solomon Malka, a Moroccan rabbi who was ordained in British Mandate Palestine, to lead Sudan's Jewish community. He was supposed to stay for only a few years, but instead stayed and purchased his own manufacturing plants, producing sesame oil and macaroni. His son Eli would later write the foundational history of the community titled Jacob's Children in the Land of the Mahdi: Jews of the Sudan. DAISY: When Rabbi Malka came, he was the shochet, he was the mohel, he was the rabbi. He was everything, it was a one-man band. The community was already kind of focused in Khartoum in 1928 when the synagogue was built. The club was built in 1947. I think the peak in terms of numbers of the community was early to mid-1950s. And that was about 250 families. So even at its peak, it was a very small community. MANYA: Community is the key word. Everyone knew each other, looked out for each other, and when Israel was created in 1948, they raised money to help some of their fellow Jews seek opportunities in that new frontier. Those who left weren't fleeing Sudan – not yet. That shift didn't happen for at least another decade. When things did start to turn, Nessim Gaon would lead the exodus. He had seen what could happen when Jews ignored warning signs and stayed where they were unwelcome for too long. Gaon's family arrived in the early 20th Century when his father got a job working as a clerk for the British governor of Port Sudan. Gaon was born in Khartoum in 1922. ALEXANDRA: As for a lot of Sephardi families, they basically moved with opportunities and changes of power in different countries. So they went from Spain, to Italy, back to Spain. And then they went into the Arab lands. So I know that they went into Iraq, then they went into Turkey. And they spent quite some time actually in Turkey, until they finally went to Sudan and Egypt. MANYA: As a young man, Gaon left to attend the London School of Economics. Shortly after he returned, he encountered British officers recruiting soldiers to fight for Winston Churchill's campaign against the Nazis.  ALEXANDRA: He just went in, signed up, and the next day, he was sent to the front. His family was not so excited about that. And he was actually under age, he wasn't really supposed to be able to sign up at that time. But when they figured out his age, you know, in the army, it was already too late. He just felt that he needed to be useful and do something. And that's what he did.  MANYA: Though he knew about the uneasy life for Jews in Sudan preceding his family's arrival there, what Gaon witnessed during World War II while stationed in places like Iraq ensured he would never take for granted his safety as a Jew. ALEXANDRA: Even though he never spoke about all of the things that he saw in great detail, he did a lot after the war, to help survivors go to Israel. It was very important to him to try to help those who had survived to actually go into a place of safety. He knew what it meant to be a Jew in danger. MANYA: Gaon and his future wife of 68 years, Renee [Tamman], exchanged letters every day when he was away at war and kept every single one. And after his return, from that point on, they never spent more than three days apart. The couple soon began to build their family. But because of rudimentary medical care in Sudan, it was difficult. Three of their children died before their daughter Marguerite was born in 1956. They were buried in Khartoum's Jewish cemetery. Sudan became independent in 1956. But the ties to Egypt ran deep. Later that year, when French, British, and Israeli forces attacked Egypt over Gamel Abdel Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, the anti-Jewish tensions trickled south. DAISY: The Suez Crisis, in the end of 1956, kind of spikes a bit of antisemitism. There is a talk in the newspapers about antisemitism, Zionist things, plots. There were a few things that made life slightly more difficult, but not in a very impactful way on daily life. MANYA: There were other signs too. When the winner of the Miss Khartoum beauty pageant was discovered to be Jewish, she lost her crown. When Jews had matza imported from London for Passover, it had to be packaged in plain boxes without a Magen David. Given what Gaon had witnessed in World War II, that was enough to leave. He, his wife, and only daughter at the time went to Geneva. ALEXANDRA: That was a blooming community, they were happy, they were together. And they were able to create and expand on their Jewish life. And I think that, at some point, when it became clear, when they saw the signs of that antisemitism coming their way again, they just felt like, “OK, we've seen this before, not just in Sudan, but also from the history of the Holocaust. And we need to take proactive measures, and make sure that we're safe. MANYA: When they left, Gaon and his wife told no one. They packed only enough bags for a vacation. They even left the doors unlocked and food in the refrigerator so no one dropping by their home would get suspicious. ALEXANDRA:  My grandmother always told us how some part of her broke a little when they just left the house. They really pretended that they were just going out and they would come back. They would tell us how hard it was when they turned and they looked at the house the last time and they knew that they had left most of their things. That they had a whole history there. That they had children there who were still going to be there and it was really difficult. And so, they took everything [with] them, left to Switzerland, and made a life there. MANYA: The decade that followed was particularly tumultuous in Sudan. The country had its first coup of many, and a military government took over. In 1960, all of the Jews who had left Sudan had their citizenship revoked. Another revolution in 1964 restored civilian rule.  DAISY: It's at that time, that a lot of the north-south tension kind of comes into things. And there was a lot of violence in that revolution, a lot of rioting. And the violence was tribal, north-south tribalism, a lot of violence against southern tribes, people from the South in Sudan.  But that scared the Jewish community that there would be violence and murders in the streets, and that signaled that this was no longer this stable country that they had been living in. And that's when more people start to leave. MANYA: By this point, acquiring an exit visa had become difficult for Jews, especially those who owned businesses and properties. Much like Gaon and his wife had left under cover of vacation, people began acquiring tourist visas with return tickets they never used. In the summer of 1967, the Six-Day War became a flashpoint in Khartoum. DAISY: There was a lot of rhetoric against Jews, in the newspapers, accusations of Zionism, Zionist spies, slurs, the lot. The Jewish young men who didn't know the right people to avoid it, were arrested for the duration of the war, and then released subsequently. And then after the Six Day War, the Arab League Summit, and the declaration of the three Nos. That actually happened in Khartoum, so you can imagine the atmosphere in Khartoum at that time was not pleasant. MANYA: The Three Nos. No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel. These were the pillars of the Khartoum Resolution, the Arab world's proclamation denying self-determination for the Jewish people in their biblical homeland. The Arab League Summit convened in Khartoum on August 29, 1967 and the resolution was adopted days later. Flore recalls how Muslim friends and colleagues suddenly turned on them. Returning home from a trip, her husband Ibrahim's business partner brought back a framed picture and insisted that Ibrahim read its engraved inscription out loud: “The world will not have peace until the last Jew is put to death by stoning,” it said. Another friend asked Flore one day where she hid the device she used to communicate with Israel, implying she was a spy. During a visit to Geneva, Ibrahim was warned not to return because there was a price on his head. Flore said their delayed departure was a source of tension between her and her husband, who even for years afterward, couldn't believe his beloved Sudan had betrayed them. But the time had come for most Jews, including the extended family that Nessim Gaon had left behind, to abandon their homes and fortunes in Sudan and join him. FLORE: My husband had confidence in them. And we had a lot of problems between my husband and me because of this. Because I said ‘Ibrahim, this is not a country for us.' He says: ‘You don't know anything. They won't harm us. They won't do that.' He had confidence, he couldn't believe it. Until my husband became very old. He died at the age of 94. And he always, always, in his heart, he said that they cannot harm us. But he had illusions. He had illusions. MANYA: The Gaons also could not return. It was simply too dangerous. But in the 1970s, when Nessim Gaon learned vandals might have desecrated the Jewish cemetery in Khartoum, he resolved to retrieve their children and other family members who were buried there. From a distance, he coordinated an airlift for several prominent Sudanese families, including Rabbi Malka's descendants, to transfer the remains of their loved ones out of Sudan to be reburied in Jerusalem where he knew they would be safer. It was this sincere belief about the promise of Israel and the promise of peace in the region that led Gaon to encourage and attend a meeting between Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat in 1977. ALEXANDRA: He saw opportunities there to create a peace with Egypt and he told Menachem Begin we can create peace with the Arab countries. And so Menachem Begin took him to meet with Anwar el-Sadat. They had a meeting and they hit it off right away, because they spoke the same language, they came from the same place.  MANYA: Over the next two years, Gaon worked discreetly in the background to ease both of their minds, find common ground, and reach a consensus. When the two leaders were ready to sign a treaty in 1979, Gaon gave them both the Swiss pens they used to make it official.  ALEXANDRA: They actually called him first thing after signing, and told him: ‘Nessim, it happened. We did it.' And, you know, it was something that he was very proud of, but that we were not really allowed to talk about in the outside.  He truly believed in the possibilities, in the outcome. That's what he focused on. He wanted to better the lives of people both in Israel and in Egypt, and he cared about, you know, the Sephardi Jews that were part of that narrative as well. MANYA: Sudan was one of only two Arab nations who supported the accord. Egypt was suspended from the Arab League for ten years and el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981.  Still, Gaon never stopped trying to pave the way for more peace negotiations. In fact, much later Israel tapped him to meet privately with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the same. ALEXANDRA: We did not really want him to go and meet with Arafat because we were worried. I mean, Arafat had a long history of terrorism and we were a little bit scared. Arafat actually told him that at some point, there was a murder order on his head. They were considering killing my grandfather. And they decided not to, because he realized that he was an Arab like him. When my grandfather told us about this, we all went like, [gasp], what are you saying? But he was very calm about it. And he said: ‘You know, I, I stood there and Arafat told [me], I knew that you were doing a lot of good things. And you know, you were not doing anything bad towards the Arab populations. And you are very respectful. This is your background as well. And so we decided not to go ahead with it.' But I think my grandfather found it very difficult to talk to Arafat. And Arafat was not ready to make peace. MANYA: By this time Gaon had become a grandfather, Alexandra's Nono – the one who taught her how to whistle and play backgammon. The one who blessed her before long trips. The one who taught her his first language, Arabic. The one who passed down his love for the beauty of Sephardic Jewry and his concern about it being overshadowed and undervalued around the world and in Israel. ALEXANDRA: He was so idealistic about Israel, and really believed in it and thought it was such an important project. He also was very critical of it in terms of its treatment of Sephardic Jews. He was very sensitive to it, and he really worked hard to change that.  He was a little bit darker skinned. And he came from Sudan, he was born there. So he saw himself really, as a Sephardic Jew who had the opportunity here to educate this new country and to help this new country understand how Sephardic Jews could actually help and be positive agents within the country. MANYA: He also believed that the Jewish world must acknowledge and respect its own rich diversity for the benefit of everyone – Jewish, non-Jewish, Israeli or Diaspora. As president of the World Sephardi Federation, he traveled the world to encourage others to step up and show that Jewish history is not just an Eastern European, Ashkenazi narrative. ALEXANDRA: The more you're open to people who come from a different background, the more you also know how to interact with non-Jews and with countries that are maybe antagonistic to you. I think that it was a way for him to sort of bridge conflict to say: if you make an effort within the Jewish people, then you learn how to talk to everybody. MANYA: Daisy Abboudi said telling the stories of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews is complicated. Are they migrants? Are they refugees? What do they want to be called, and why? And then there's the ambivalence some Israelis have had about welcoming all Jews, some of whom still feel affection for nations that wish Israel did not exist. In their eyes, it's a fine line between affection and loyalty. DAISY: It's not an easily packaged short story. It feeds into so many different kinds of strands and politics and it's such a messy period of history anyway, with colonialism and the end of colonialism and nationalism, and, and, and, and. I think it is too big and too much for people to kind of get their heads around. And so people just don't. MANYA: But Gaon believed that leveling the playing field and making sure everyone has equal opportunities to education and leadership is where it starts. As part of Project Renewal, he often walked the streets of the most distressed neighborhoods in Israel to hear firsthand what residents there needed and advocated for them. In addition to the scholarships, bar mitzvah programs, and Project Renewal initiative, Gaon also held court at the King David Hotel whenever he traveled to Jerusalem. Sephardi residents would line up around the block to meet the man who invested and believed in them. ALEXANDRA: Years later, when he was quite influential, he got a letter from the Sudanese government to tell him that they would love it if he took back the nationality. At the time, he decided not to.  He wanted to keep the memories and the life that he had in Sudan and all of the legacy of Sudan without specifically being connected to a government or a political situation that he disagreed with and that was difficult and unpleasant to Jews. I know that oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.' And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and what he experienced, and I think he wanted to leave it that way, and not be sort of surprised or sad, or, shocked by the changes possibly. I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image. I hope that one day I can go both to Sudan and to Egypt and see those places myself and get a sense of putting the pieces of the puzzle together and getting a sense of what life might have been. MANYA:  It's unclear when it will be safe for Jews to travel to Sudan again. Between November 1984 and January 1985, Sudanese, Israeli and U.S. officials worked with Gaon and Alexandra's father, Joel Herzog, to facilitate an airlift of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel. Operation Moses, as it was called, ended abruptly in January 1985 as soon as Sudan's Arab allies caught wind of the joint effort, stranding many Ethiopian Jews there. Some were eventually rescued, but not all.  ALEXANDRA: He not only helped fund the mission, which was very secretive, but he also took care of all of the details of the infrastructure from making sure that they could take a bus, to the plane, to a ship. He really took care of all of the details. And it was important to him because he wanted to make sure that fellow Jews would be in a place of safety. MANYA: Tribal conflict and civil wars also have continued. Feeling neglected by Khartoum, the largely agrarian South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after two civil wars. Warring factions within the South agreed to a coalition government in 2020.  Meanwhile, since 2003, millions of Darfuri men, women and children from three different ethnic groups have been targeted in what is considered the first genocide of the 21st Century – atrocities that continue today.  In 2019, Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was pushed out of office by a series of peaceful protests. The following year, Sudan's fledgling civilian government announced its intentions to join the Abraham Accords as part of a larger effort to engage with the international community and secure international assistance. This included an agreement by the United States to remove Sudan from its state sponsor of terrorism list. But yet another military coup in 2021 derailed any efforts toward diplomacy and that plan was put on hold until a civilian government is restored.  Gaon died before seeing it become a reality.  ALEXANDRA: He really saw Sudan as his home. That was the place that he knew, that he grew up in. And I mean, again, he had gone to London before to study, he still came back to Sudan. You know, he went to war, he came back to Sudan and came with a lot of different layers of understanding of what it meant to be a Jew, in a lot of different countries, a lot of different places.  MANYA: Alexandra said he carried those layers and lessons with him throughout his life, as well as immense pride that he came from a long lineage of people living in Arab lands. For Nessim Gaon, the Jewish tradition was and always should be a big, diverse, inclusive tent. ALEXANDRA: One of the memories that really sticks with me is how during the Kohanim prayers at the synagogue, my grandfather would take his tallit, his prayer shawl, and put it on top of all of his children and grandchildren. And my grandmother would do the exact same thing with us in the women's section.  And of course, from time to time I would peek and look at this beautiful tent that was extended above all of my family members. And what was really special to me, was how we knew at that moment that we were being blessed by both my grandparents and that if someone was around and looked completely alone, they were welcomed under our tent.  And this really represents for me, what my grandparents were, they were warm. They were inclusive, loving and generous. And really they extended the tent, our family tent, to all the Jewish people. MANYA: Sudanese Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left Arab countries to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Join us next week as we share another untold story of The Forgotten Exodus. Many thanks to Alexandra, Flore, and Diana for sharing their families' stories. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories.  Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891-1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to theforgottenexodus@ajc.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus.  Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC.  You can reach us at theforgottenexodus@ajc.org. 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