The sources of interreligious dialogue in the Focolare Movement

By Martin Hoegger.

To understand the place of interreligious dialogue in the Focolare Movement, born during the Second World War, we must return to its’ sources.  The recent interreligious congress, held in the Roman hills, began with a reminder of the “inspiring…

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Gehenna as “Hell” in Ancient Judaism = The Historical Basis For A Powerful Metaphor (2)

By Jamie Moran

9. The belief in God eternally punishing his human ‘children’ by forsaking them in Gehenna/Hell is oddly parallel with the pagan worshipers sacrificing their children in fire in the Valley of Ge Hinnom. William Blake is clear that the ‘god’ of damnation is Satan the…

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Gehenna as “Hell” in Ancient Judaism = The Historical Basis For A Powerful Metaphor (1)

By Jamie Moran

1. The Jewish Sheol is the exact same as the Greek Hades. No loss of meaning occurs if, on every occasion when Hebrew says ‘Sheol’, this is translated as ‘Hades’ in Greek. The term ‘Hades’ is well known in English, and thus might be preferred to the term…

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An act of vandalism against the synagogue in Vienna, a 17-year-old girl took down the Israeli flag

Austrian media reported an act of vandalism committed against the main synagogue in the capital Vienna.

The identity of a 17-year-old girl who took part in the night of Friday to Saturday in removing the Israeli flag from the Jewish temple has now been established. The teenager has been…

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Techouva – le chemin du retour

À un niveau superficiel, « Techouva » fait simplement référence à quelqu’un qui retourne à la foi juive et reprend sa pratique après avoir cessé. À un niveau plus profond, c’est beaucoup plus. Vous “revenez” du milieu du mal en vous-même et revenez sur vos pas, à travers l’enfer, jusqu’à la vérité du cœur…

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Exploring Padova’s Religious Diversity: A Journey with a special focus on Scientology

A documentary explores the Church of Scientology Padova and its activities while covering the rich diversity of the city.

PADOVA, PADOVA, ITALY, June 1, 2023/ — Padova, a contemporary centre of culture and commerce, has remained faithful to its past as a medieval hub of…

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La plus ancienne Bible hébraïque du monde vendue pour un montant record de 38,1 millions de dollars

Le “Codex Sassoon” date de la fin du IXe ou du début du Xe siècle. Le prix a été atteint en seulement 4 minutes d’enchères disputées entre deux acheteurs, selon la maison de vente aux enchères Sotheby’s à New York. La Bible hébraïque la plus ancienne et la plus complète au monde a été vendue aux enchères pour 38,1 $…

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Towards a fair and just world for all –

In the history of the wars of the last millennium, the main platform of conflicts was Europe. But thanks to extraordinary decisions taken after the Second World War (for example, instead of continuing the confrontation, Germany and France created a structure of mutually beneficial relations –…

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Israel banned the sale of natural fur products
Israel banned the sale of natural fur products
Israel banned the sale of natural fur products

Israeli Environment Minister Gila Gamliel signed a document banning the sale of animal fur for clothing production in the country. The law will come into force in six months, in December 2021.

It is the first country in the world to have such a law.

The minister stressed that the fur industry kills hundreds of millions of animals around the world, and is also associated with great suffering and cruelty. Animal rights activists have already described the decisive step as a “historic victory.”

 The ban on the fur trade makes Israel the first country in the world to do so, although there are already similar cases at the regional level. For example, the US state of California banned the sale of natural fur products back in 2019.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the ban will not apply to “scientific research, education, teaching and religious purposes and traditions.” The last point caused the most controversy. The fact is that ultra-Orthodox Jews wear shtreimels on Shabbat and holidays – hats trimmed with sable and fox tails. At the same time, in the hot climate of Israel, fur products are not very popular among the general population.

A shtreimel (Yiddish: שטרײַמל shtrayml, which they wear only on special occasions (on Saturday, a holiday, at a wedding, or when they meet a rabbi). on the head is the fur of an “unclean animal” – the tail of a fox to distinguish Jews from other nations, but the Jews turned this “badge of shame” into a “badge of distinction.”

The Unknown Dante and His Mystical Esotericism (1)
The Unknown Dante and His Mystical Esotericism (1)
The Unknown Dante and His Mystical Esotericism (1)

Dante’s poetry played a huge role in shaping Renaissance humanism and in the development of European cultural tradition in general, having a significant impact on culture not only in poetic and artistic, but in philosophical terms (from Petrarch’s poetry to the sophiology of VS Solovyov) . Therefore, the study of Dante’s work today is formed in a special branch of medieval studies – Dantology.

In the field of philosophical thought, Dante was influenced by Aristotle, scholastic Aristotelianism and Averroism, and in part by Neoplatonism, Stoicism, and Arab philosophy. He systematically studied the texts of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, John Scott Eriugena, Bernard of Clairvaux, Alan Lilski and Siger of Brabant. The axiological system of Dante’s poetics genetically dates back to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (the final part of the Divine Comedy) and Peripateticism (the Feast). Dante’s political ideal, formed in the conditions of a permanent civil war, was a single secular state – a guarantor of peace and embodied legitimacy – in which separatism and private land ownership would be eliminated. The rule of this state is understood by Dante according to the Platonic model: the decisions of the monarch should be based on the advice of philosophers (“O you unfortunate ones who rule today! Oh you, the most unhappy, through whom they rule! There is no philosophical authority to combine with your government). The optimal political system, from Dante’s point of view, is based, on the one hand, on the presumption of world unity and, on the other, presupposes the preservation of local self-government and the guarantee of freedom. The development of both tendencies must reach the “fullness of times”, ie. to universal prosperity. The denial of the so-called “Constantine’s gift” (or the transmission at the time by Emperor Constantine of a large territory from Italy under the pope’s jurisdiction) provoked a sharp reaction from the church to the point that Cardinal Beltrando del Podiseto ordered the burning of the monarch’s manuscript. , and in 1329 called for an autodafe of Dante’s remains. Dante’s semantic social model is open to interpretations from the standpoint of the ideal of global civilization with its presumption of ethnic polycentrism.

Dante himself in his “Hell” IX, 61-63 indisputably indicates that in his work there is a hidden, secret meaning, whose doctrinal and external meaning is only a veil and should be explored by one who is able to penetrate in him. The Divine Comedy has been studied mainly literally as a literary work, the philosophical meaning has been studied, or rather the philosophical-theoretical as well as the political-social meaning, but Dante himself instructs us to look for another – a fourth meaning. This is essentially the purely initiative, metaphysical meaning, giving an esoteric character to the messages in this work. Some researchers ask the question: Was Dante a Catholic or an Albigensian? Was he a Christian or a pagan at all? (Cf. Arturo Reghini, L’Alegoria esoterica di Dante, – Nuovo Patto, Sept.-Nov. 1921, pp. 541-548). True esotericism is radically different from external religions. The ancient members of initiating societies took part in all external cults, following the customs established in the countries where they resided, as they found behind external differences the essential doctrinal and fundamental unity between religions, without turning it into an artificially created “syncretism”. We find religious syncretism and eclecticism in many Roman emperors. At imp. Elagabalus / Varius Avitus Bassianus /, in 218, Trimontium (now Plovdiv) received the status of a city-neocor and became the center of the cult of Apollo Kendriziiski, the god of the sun (cf. Gramatikov, hierod. Peter, “Arian Council in Philippopolis – 343 “, KAMA Publishing House / French Cultural Institute, Sofia, 2006, p. 8):” He (Elagabalus) consecrated his god Elagabalus on the Palatine Hill just opposite the Imperial Palace and dedicated a temple to him. He said that the cult of the Jews and the Samaritans, as well as the Christian religion, must be transferred there in order for the service of the god Elagabalus to possess the secrets of all religions “(From: History of the Augustus / Elagabalus, 3), – quoted in Nomo L. , Les Empereures Romains et le Christisnisme, Paris, 1931) Emperor Alexander the Great (222-235) was a religious eclectic in his prayer room, next to the busts of Apollonius of Thebes, the magician of Greco-Latin antiquity, 2nd century AD. BC) and Orpheus, stood the busts of Christ and Abraham, and his mother, Julia Mameia, called in her palace Origen, who is the most prominent Neoplatonist in antiquity (cf. Bolotov, Lectures on the History of the Ancient Church, vol. 2, pp. 112).

Pure metaphysics, therefore, is neither pagan nor Christian, but universal. In the Middle Ages, there were societies, initiative and non-religious in nature, which, however, were based on Catholicism. It is very likely that Dante was a member of one of these organizations and was not declared a “heretic” because most of them did not create a conflict between the esoteric and the exoteric. There are exceptions, of course – some are tried as heretics (this was also the official accusation against the Order of the Templars as a pretext for political purposes).

In the world of Islam, esoteric schools do not encounter any hostility from the religious and legal authorities representing exotericism. But let us allude to the fate of the famous Al-Khalaj, who was killed in Baghdad in 309 by Hejira (921 AD), whose memory is revered to this day by the descendants of those who sentenced him to death. for “his offensive teachings.”

Eliphas Levy, in his History of Magic, writes of Dante’s connection to the ancient mysteries: “Comments and research on Dante’s work are increasing, but no one, at least to our knowledge, has discovered its true character. The work of the great Ghibelline is a declaration of war against the Papacy through the revelation of the mysteries. Dante’s epic is Ioanite (Note: The connection with Rosicrucianism is that St. John is associated as head, head of the inner Church, and opposes St. Peter as head of the outer Church. In the 14th century in France and Italy he gained strength one related to the knightly orders, a secret occult but not occult doctrine, later understood as the initiative direction of the Rosicrucians with an hermetic doctrine.

Their name was first given in 1374) and Gnostic; an application of the images and numbers of Kabbalah to Christian dogmas; and a secret denial of all that is contained in these dogmas. His journey to the supernatural worlds takes place like the Eleusinian and Theban mysteries. Virgil accompanies and protects him in the circles of the new Tartarus … Hell is an obstacle only for those who do not know how to return … “(cf. Rene Guenon,” L’Esoterisme de Dante “, Gallimard, Paris, 1957). Many contemporary authors easily imagine that they see a Kabbalistic teaching in anything that only smells of esotericism. It is difficult to accept a link between Kabbalah and chivalry in the Middle Ages because it is a Hebrew tradition and we have no data or facts that Dante had Jewish influence, although we have evidence that during his lifetime Dante had a long personal relationship with a Jewish scholar and poet, Immanuel ben Salomon ben Yekutiel (1270-1330). The fact that we find the science of numbers (numerology) in his work does not make him a Kabbalist in any way. Rather, we can seek a relationship with Pythagoras, and we cannot accuse Pythagoras of practicing Jewish Kabbalism.

Part 1 of 2 (Read PART 2 HERE)

Religious liberty endangered by French Draft Law Against “Separatism”
Religious liberty endangered by French Draft Law Against “Separatism”
Religious liberty endangered by French Draft Law Against “Separatism”

France has a serious problem with radical Islam, but the draft law against “separatism” announced by President Macron may create more problems than it claims to solve. This is the conclusion of a “White Paper” co-authored or endorsed by well-known scholars of new religious movements Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, from the University of Bordeaux, French lecturer in law Frédéric-Jérôme Pansier, human rights activists Willy Fautré, of Brussels-based Human Rights Without Frontiers, and Alessandro Amicarelli, human rights attorney in London and chairperson of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB).

Eradicating the social roots of terrorism is a laudable purpose“, say the members of the task force who is launching the White Paper, “and some provisions of the draft law make sense, but there are also serious problems.”

Screenshot 2020 11 02 Religious Liberty Issues
The White Paper can be downloaded as a FREE pdf at the website of CESNUR.ORG

First, the law is being proposed and publicized by some politicians and media with disturbing accents implying that only an “Islam des Lumières,” an Enlightenment-style Islam, is accepted in France, where all conservative Muslims, i.e, the majority of Muslims in France and Europe, are suspected of extremism if not terrorism. “This“, the report says, “risks to fuel extremism rather than containing it.

Second, the total ban on homeschooling punishes thousands of French parents who are not Muslim, and in most cases do not even decide to educate their children at home for religious reasons. Several sociological studies have concluded that homeschooling is a legitimate form of education and may give good results. “Islamic ultra-fundamentalism“, the authors state, “appears in homeschooling in a tiny minority of cases, and may be controlled or eliminated through adequate controls rather than by banning the practice altogether.”

Third, there is a speedy procedure for dissolving religious organizations deemed to operate against “human dignity” or use not only physical but also “psychological pressures.” This, the White Paper says, is standard jargon used against the so-called “cults” and in fact some French politicians have already announced that the law will be used to “dissolve hundreds of cults” (called in France sectes).

Rather than relying on the pseudo-scientific notions of “brainwashing” or “psychological control,” the White Paper suggests, the law should focus on the “criminal religious movements” (a label several scholars prefer to the elusive “cults” or sectes) that use physical violence or commit common crimes. And, the report adds, the defense of “human dignity” may not lead to violate the corporate freedom of religious bodies, for example when they decide whom to admit or to expel, or suggests that their current members do not associate with those who have been expelled. The White Paper quotes several court decisions stating that excommunication and “ostracism” are part of religious liberty, as religions have the right to take decisions about their own organizations.

Fourth, the reference to places of worship unduly used to spread “hostility to the laws of the Republic” should not mean that sermons should not be free to criticize laws they regard as unjust. Religion has always had the prophetic function of criticizing laws deemed as unfair, which is different from inciting to violence.

We understand“, the authors explain, “that France has its own tradition and history of laïcité, and our purpose is not to suggest that France should adopt the American model of religious liberty, or the Italian model of cooperation between religion and the state. On the contrary, our aim is to find ways to address, within rather than outside the French legal tradition, legitimate concerns about radicalization and terrorism, without infringing on the rights of religious minorities or breaching France’s international human rights obligations.”

France: The “Law Against Separatism” Targets “Cults” as well as Islam
France: The “Law Against Separatism” Targets “Cults” as well as Islam
France: The “Law Against Separatism” Targets “Cults” as well as Islam

Anti-cultism is back in France. Media around the world have covered President Macron’s announcement of a new law against “separatism,” explaining it as a measure against radical Islam. It is surely true that Islam is targeted but, not for the first time, a law introduced to fight Islamic radical groups is then used against other religious movements. The Russian law against extremism is an obvious example.

The “general concept” of the law has been unveiled by the French Minister of Internal Affairs, Gérald Darmanin, on Twitter, as it is now increasingly common on world politics. We publish the document tweeted by Darmanin, to make it more easily accessible.

The draft announces the “end of home schooling” in general, “except in cases justified by medical conditions.” Obviously, this provision will target a number of Christian communities and not the Muslims only.

The draft also explains that places of worship will be put under increasing surveillance and “preserved […] from the diffusion of ideas and statements hostile to the laws of the Republic.” Again, the law cannot target Muslims only for obvious constitutional reasons. What about a priest or pastor criticizing abortion or same-sex marriage, which are part of the laws of the French Republic, but also claiming that certain “laws of the Republic” penalize the poor and the immigrants?

Hidden in a law ostensibly aimed at Islamic radicalization is a provision that allows religious and other associations to be dissolved (the Russian word “liquidated” is not used, but the substance is very much the same) in case of  “attacks on personal dignity” and “use of psychological or physical pressures.”

When reading this, and considering the French anti-cult tradition, I immediately suspected that the provision will be used against groups labeled as “cults,” and “psychological pressures” is reminiscent of the old idea of “brainwashing.” In Darmanin’s tweet the Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, was copied.

On October 10, Schiappa gave an interview to Le Parisien confirming that “we will use the same measures against the cults and against radical Islam.” Last year, the official French anti-cult mission MIVILUDES was moved from being an independent structure under the Prime Minister to becoming a part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ anti-radicalization system. Anti-cultists protested that this may lead to the demise of the MIVILUDES, but Schiappa now explains that with the new law it will be reinforced and move from mere “analysis” to a more active role. The former politician and anti-cult activist Georges Fenech and the president of the largest French anti-cult organization, UNADFI, Joséphine Lindgren-Cesbron, will become members of the MIVILUDES. Anti-cult propaganda will be further promoted. Among the main aims indicated by Schiappa is identifying the “cults” that could be legally dissolved and banned because of “attacks on personal dignity” and “use of psychological or physical pressures.”

Much in the new draft law is constitutionally problematic, not to mention possible interventions of the European Court of Human Rights. These developments confirm, however, that anti-cultism is alive and well in France and that, as in happened in other countries, what is introduced as “a law against radical Islam” may end up targeting a wide variety of religious organizations.


Minna Rosner essay contest winner Rosemund Ragetli
Minna Rosner essay contest winner Rosemund Ragetli
Minna Rosner essay contest winner Rosemund Ragetli

Each year the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada sponsors an essay contest named for the late Shoah survivor Mina Rosner. Mina Rosner dedicated many hours to educating people about the Shoah as well as the importance of combating racism and discrimination and upholding human rights.

Students in grades 9-12 are annually invited to submit essays on the subject of the Shoah and/or human rights. The winner of the Mina Ronser Human Rights Award receives a monetary prize.

The winner this year is Rosemund Ragetli, who graduated this past June from Westwood Collegiate. Interestingly, the previous year’s winner, Blake Edwards, was also a student at Westwood Collegiate. Special mention, therefore, must be made of Westwood history teacher, Kelly Hiebert, who not only teaches students about the Shoah, in 2019 he took students to Europe. As part of that trip students visited Auschwitz. Both Blake and Rosemund were part of the group that went on that trip.

Following is Rosemund Ragetli’s essay:

The Silence of History

In the relative comfort of everyday life, it is often difficult to relate our everyday lives with the atrocities of the Holocaust. It is imperative, however, that youth learn and connect with this history, understanding the responsibility each individual has to defend the rights of others. While the ability to seamlessly define the term ‘Holocaust’, or list the names and dates of major battles is an important aspect in forming a contextually accurate historiographic understanding, it is crucial the study of history be expanded; encompassing the significance of each individual life and the constant extrapolation of what may be learned from the past. During grade eleven, I travelled to Europe on a school trip focused on the Holocaust. My experiences in Warsaw, Auschwitz, Lidice, and Berlin forever changed my interpretation of history, bringing to life the magnitude and depth of this atrocity. My abstract and theoretical knowledge, based solely in classroom learning, became connected to the individual stories of those who once stood where I stood, bringing to life the reality of war and sacrifice in a new and extremely powerful manner.

As I walked through the Museum of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, I became transfixed by the complexity of the narrative. Spanning a thousand years, the connection between the Polish empire and the Jewish community was incredible. Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, the Jewish population served an integral role within the development of Poland’s economy and social structure1 Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs and Leszek Hoñdo, eds., Why Should We Teach About the Holocaust?, trans. Michael Jacobs, vol. 2 (Cracow: The Jagiellonian University Institute of European Studies, 2005), ) pg. 17, a reality mirrored in many European nations. However, less than ten percent of these Polish Jews survived the Second World War2 Ibid. pg. 19 . Openly stated in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, held in Berlin, January 1942, “The aim of all of this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner”3 Jon E Lewis , ed., Voices From The Holocaust (London: Robinson, 2012) pg. 125. Within the book, Voices of the Holocaust, Filip Muller, a Sonderkommando from Auschwitz, describes the moment he came to understand this gruesome truth, “The damp stench of dead bodies and a cloud of stifling, biting smoke surged out towards us. Through the fumes I saw the vague outline of huge ovens. We were in the cremation room of the Auschwitz crematorium.”4 Ibid pg. 133

These chilling words rang in my ears as I stood in the Auschwitz barracks, filled with thousands of shoes, the glass case with baby clothing; they echoed on the walls as I stepped inside the crematorium with rows of ovens standing cold and silent. The people who died were no longer a statistic in a textbook, but individual people with lives, families, and dreams, some too young even to speak. As I walked the grounds of Auschwitz, I imagined myself stepping off the train and onto the platform. Our tour guide stopped in front of a blank brick wall, the spot where the camp orchestra played. As a violinist myself, I imagined that this may have been my task; to play for the other prisoners, perhaps my own family as they walked to their deaths. I stood in the silence of the Auschwitz tower, overlooking miles of barracks, alone with these painfully unavoidable thoughts, and I felt the overwhelming reality of suffering and loss.

Prior to our trip, we learned the history of Operation Anthropoid5 Branik Ceslav and Carmelo Lisciotto , “The Massacre at Lidice,” The Massacre at Lidice “The German Occupation of Europe” (Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, 2008), ), and the devastating story of the Lidice massacre. In 1942, a group of Czech resistance fighters, working with the exiled Polish government in Britain, successfully assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking Nazi official. In retaliation for this act, the German forces destroyed the neighbouring village of Lidice, systematically killing one hundred and seventy-two men, sending the women to Ravensbrück concentration camp, and all but nine children to Chelmno extermination camp6 Meilan Solly, “The Lost Children of the Lidice Massacre,”, September 12, 2018, accessed June 23, 2020, Flattened to ruins, the Nazis proudly proclaimed that “the village of Lidice, its residents, and its very name, were now forever blotted from memory”7 Branik Ceslav and Carmelo Lisciotto , “The Massacre at Lidice,” The Massacre at Lidice “The German Occupation of Europe” (Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, 2008), ).

Following the publication of this event, the international community was outraged. A member of the British Parliament founded the “Lidice Shall Live”8 Meilan Solly, “The Lost Children of the Lidice Massacre,”, September 12, 2018, accessed June 23, 2020, campaign, immortalizing the tragedy within the media and on the global stage. This reaction was starkly juxtaposed by the notably restrained response from the Allies regarding the Final Solution. As a politically charged point of contention9 Ibid, the international community was wary to portray the Holocaust as a driving factor in the war, while the Lidice Massacre provided a “neutral and indisputably despicable example” of Nazi cruelty. In truth, nothing could prepare me, or anyone else for our visit to the Lidice memorial. I stepped out of the bus, overlooking a beautiful field, with a stream running through it, and a nearby forest. It was impossible to reconcile these two realities. As we walked through the grass, I could not comprehend how little there was left of the town; the foundation of a church, and a plaque where a house once stood. We stopped in front of the statues of eighty-two children who were murdered10 Ibid, and I struggled to quantify such atrocities. A village, a people and a way of life gone without the smallest trace.

Upon our arrival in Berlin the following day, we embarked on a walking tour of the city, visiting several Holocaust memorials. In particular, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was a unique and deeply poignant monument, one which significantly impacted my understanding of the Holocaust. Spanning more than 19,000 square metres, 2711 concrete slabs stand, ranging in height from eight inches to over sixteen feet11 Sam Merrill and Leo Schmidt, eds., A Reader in Uncomfortable Heritage and Dark Tourism, Brandenburg University of Technology, 2010,, accessed June 26, 2020, ) pg. 127. These coffin-like structures silently stretch into a concrete graveyard, commemorating the millions of nameless Jews who died in the Holocaust. As I walked between the rows of concrete pillars, I lost track of time, feeling lost and singularly insignificant. Designed for one person to walk in solitude12 Ibid., pg. 135, I found myself alone between concrete coffins that stretched far above my head. I glanced up at the slits of sky visible and found myself contemplating the enormity of the Holocaust in a way I had not previously. This, I believe, was the purpose of the memorial; the realization that within the confines of such a immense structure, one person is rendered insignificant, just as an individual life may be forgotten among the millions of lives lost. The unchanging constancy of this monument was extremely thought provoking, connecting the colossal magnitude of the Holocaust to a deeply personal and unique experience.

The trip significantly impacted my interpretation of history, in a way I could never have anticipated. By stepping into the events of the past; walking the grounds of Auschwitz and Lidice, standing before the incredible monuments for the Holocaust, I gained a deeper and more personal understanding for the importance of history within my own life. The information I had learned in class was suddenly part of something much larger, the realization that while history is, of course, the study of past events, the true value lies in its application to the present and most importantly, the future. After returning home, I worked to fulfill this mission, studying history with a new appreciation, I joined the Westwood Historical Society in order to connect the atrocities of the Holocaust to the youth of my own generation.

As I toured the Museum of the Polish Jews, walked the grounds of Auschwitz, and stood before the Holocaust memorials in Lidice and Berlin, my interpretation of history changed forever. I understood that it is our mission, as youth, to not only learn history, but to connect and apply it to the future. A theoretical knowledge of the Holocaust must be linked to a personal understanding of its magnitude, with each individual life holding meaning beyond a statistical value. Within the ease of everyday life, this is an undeniably difficult reality to comprehend, but one that must be understood. We as a generation have a responsibility to remember these events, learning from the atrocities of the Holocaust before they fade into the anonymity and silence of history.


Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Jolanta, and Leszek Hoñdo, eds. Why Should We Teach About the Holocaust? Translated by Michael Jacobs. 2. Vol. 2. Cracow: The Jagiellonian University Institute of European Studies, 2005. .

Blicq, Andy. “Return to Buchach.” Vimeo. CBC, 2011. .

Ceslav , Branik, and Carmelo Lisciotto . “The Massacre at Lidice.” The Massacre at Lidice “The German Occupation of Europe” Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, 2008. .

Lewis , Jon E, ed. Voices From The Holocaust. London: Robinson, 2012.

Merrill, Sam, and Leo Schmidt, eds. A Reader in Uncomfortable Heritage and Dark Tourism. Brandenburg University of Technology. 2010. Accessed June 26, 2020. .

Rosner, Mina. I Am a Witness . Winnipeg, Manitoba: Hyperion Press, 1990. .

Solly, Meilan. “The Lost Children of the Lidice Massacre.” September 12, 2018. Accessed June 23, 2020. .

Kossak-Szczucka, Zofia. “‘Protest!” of the Underground Front for the Rebirth of Poland 1942.” Source texts Poles and the Holocaust. Accessed June 8, 2020. .

Feminist converting to Judaism says Netflix series Unorthodox is 'far cry' from her own experiences
Feminist converting to Judaism says Netflix series Unorthodox is ‘far cry’ from her own experiences
Feminist converting to Judaism says Netflix series Unorthodox is 'far cry' from her own experiences

A feminist pianist who decided to convert to Orthodox Judaism to marry her Jewish partner has claimed her experiences over the last three years are a ‘far cry’ from those depicted in the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox.

Ivi Chin, 35, fron London, spoke to Glamour about what it’s really like to join the religion – which has been accused of misogyny and the oppression of women – after growing up in a secular household.

She suggests a lot of the scenes in the show are over-dramatised for effect, yet acknowledges that some of the customs, including not being allowed to handle her partner’s plate or sleep in the same bed as him when she is on her period, do in fact still apply.

Ivi Chin, 35, has spent the last three years converting to Judaism and claims accusations of misogyny concerning the Orthodox Judaism faith are unjust

Ivi Chin, 35, has spent the last three years converting to Judaism and claims accusations of misogyny concerning the Orthodox Judaism faith are unjust

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Ivi suggests the portrayal of Orthodox Judaism is a ‘far cry’ from what she has experienced while converting to the religion in order to marry her partner. Pictured: a scene from the Netflix series Unorthodox

Conversion can take up to 10 years to complete, and those hoping to join are expected to immerse themselves in the faith, homes and communities of other Orthodox Jews.

Since starting her conversion three years ago, Ivi has been studying Judaism under the London Beth Din, which provide a central religious authority for Jewish communities in London and throughout the United Kingdom.

In her case, she has six rebbetzins – the wives of rabbis – whom she can rely upon and contact at any time to discuss her conversion.

But she says since the release of Unorthodox – which depicts the fictional journey of 19-year-old Esther Shapiro (Esty), a member of the ‘ultra-orthodox’ Satmar Haredi Jewish sect – she has had lots of people asking if her experiences have been similar to those in the show.

She said: ‘I have been asked, “Why would you want to join a community that treats women in this way?”, but the way Esty is treated is a far cry from my experience of Judaism which has given me huge unexpected joy and fulfilment.’

Instead, she remarked that all women in all societies face misogyny – like that depicted in Unorthodox – and insisted the ‘draconian’ treatment of women in the show was not what she had experienced.

By contrast, she suggests women are revered in the religion and claims Judaism is one of the ‘earliest champions’ of feminism.

Ivi said her favourite example of women’s importance in the Jewish community is through the Ayeshet Chayil (Woman of Valour) which is sung to them every Friday evening.

The self-professed feminist boasted that instead of getting one card a year as a show of appreciation, her man serenades her and brings her flowers every week.

Ivi acknowledged that while there are stark contrasts between her experience and that depicted in the Netflix show, there are also similarities.

In the programme the newlywed couple struggle to consummate their marriage and continue to try for months – something Ivi said was most likely put in for ‘fantastic drama’.

She noted that Jewish law forbids married couples from having sexual relations when there is ‘disharmony’ between them.

Ivi has six rebbetzins - the wives of rabbis - whom she can rely upon and contact at any time to discuss her conversion

Ivi has six rebbetzins – the wives of rabbis – whom she can rely upon and contact at any time to discuss her conversion

Judaism also stipulates that men and women cannot have any sort of physical contact with each other when her period begins and for seven days after she stops bleeding.

For this reason, Ivi says most couples sleep on two single beds joined together, which can be easily separated when necessary.

The separation, according to Ivi, is designed to spark up the ‘honeymoon feeling’ once again.

Although many people assume the procedure is linked to periods being seen as ‘impure’, Ivi said it is actually treated as a time to work on the non-physical needs of your partner.

The women are not allowed to do certain chores such as serve their husbands food or pour a glass of water in front of him.

Another custom in the programme which Ivi said is adhered to in real life is Orthodox women only allowing their husband and female family members see their real hair.

In the show, Esty is forced to shave off her hair the night before her wedding - a tradition which dates back to medieval Hungary

In the show, Esty is forced to shave off her hair the night before her wedding – a tradition which dates back to medieval Hungary

Instead they wear scarves or wigs – something which is also worn on their wedding day.

In Unorthodox, Esty is forced to shave off her hair before her wedding – harking back to a former practice from medieval Hungary in which men would shave their future bride’s heads in order to repel feudal lords from bedding them before they were married – something Ivi said she had never seen in her experience.

And while phones and internet are banned in Unorthodox, Ivi only has to put down her luxury electrical items from sunset on Fridays to nightfall on Saturday.

During that time, the community gathers to eat meals together and do fun activities away from technology.

As she continues on her journey of converting to Judaism, Ivi acknowledged that the rules she must adhere to are not for everyone and may seem restrictive to people in the secular world.

She said: ‘A boundless life is analogous to a violin – when the strings of a violin are not bound, they are free yet purposeless. It is only when the strings are bound that they make beautiful music.’

High Representative on behalf of E.U. on the announcement regarding relations between Israel and the UAE
High Representative on behalf of E.U. on the announcement regarding relations between Israel and the UAE
High Representative on behalf of E.U. on the announcement regarding relations between Israel and the UAE

The EU welcomes the announcement on the normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and acknowledges the constructive role played by the US in this respect. The EU has for many years promoted the development of relations between Israel and the countries of the region. Israel and the United Arab Emirates are both important partners of the European Union. A normalisation of their bilateral relations will be beneficial to both countries and a fundamental step for the stabilisation of the region as a whole.  We remain committed to a comprehensive and lasting peace for the entire region and stand ready to work to this end together with our regional and international partners.

Israel’s commitment to suspend plans to unilaterally annex areas of the occupied Palestinian territory is a positive step. Any unilateral decision that undermines a lasting, agreed solution should be avoided. The EU remains firm in its commitment to a negotiated and viable two-state solution built upon the internationally agreed parameters and international law – and reaffirms its readiness to work towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, building also on the commitment by the parties of the joint statement to engage diplomatically and continue efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.

Israel and UAE announce deal normalising relations - Vatican News
Israel and UAE announce deal normalising relations
Israel and UAE announce deal normalising relations - Vatican News

By Nathan Morley

This is a major breakthrough for Israel, but also a foreign policy victory for President Donald Trump who is now focused on the upcoming US elections in November.

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

Historic deal

It is the first Israeli-Arab peace agreement since Israel and Jordan signed a treaty back in 1994.

Under its terms, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will exchange ambassadors and embassies, and set up air, technology, communications, shipping and other links.

An important point came with the revelation that Israel had agreed to suspend plans to annex part of the West Bank, an issue which had fractured hopes of any peace deal with the Palestinians.

New era in relations

Speaking in Jerusalem, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Today, a new era began in the relations of the state of Israel with the Arab world.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said he was “gratified by today’s announcement”.