Minutes of March 15, 2004 meeting, Temple Emanu-El, Palm Beach
Present: Gertrude Berman, Roberta Clark, Kathleen Clotfelter, Cheri duMee, Muriel Efron, Lorelei Ennis, Robert Ennis, Heidi Estrin, Babette Elfenbein, Phyllis Gutmann, Frank Handler, Troim Katz Handler, Dovid Katz, Sue Kirshner, Ildi Kovacs, Elsie Leviton, Charles Meyers, Art Quinn, Arlene Robert, Sara Schandelson, Marshall Schneider, Stephanie Schoenberger, Alice Shook, Susanne Sussman, Carole Wexler, Lee Wixman
Heidi Estrin called the meeting to order at 12:05pm. Heidi introduced the first speaker, Roberta Clark of the Anti-Defamation League who discussed the film, "The Passion of the Christ." She said that previous passion plays expressed elements of the Christian faith but contained the charge against all Jews for killing Jesus. With the publication of Nostra Aetate in 1965, Christian-Jewish relations improved. However, Mel Gibson belongs to a sect of Catholics that reject the reforms of the second Vatican Council. In the film, the high priest Caiaphas is portrayed as manipulating all aspects of the passion and a figure of Satan is often seen in scenes with Jews, particularly Caiaphas. The overwhelming violence could distract non-Jewish viewers from the anti-Semitic aspects. Roberta helped us understand both Jewish and Christian perspectives on the movie, and gave us materials with advice for dealing with possible anti-Semitic reactions to the movie, and to help us provide correct information to library users on the topic.
The second speaker was Troim Katz Handler, author of Simkhe. Simkhe is a book of love poetry in Yiddish, transliterated with English letters and literally translated into English. She read excerpts of her poems and spoke about her inspiration for writing the book.
Heidi distributed handouts to all members.
Discussion followed on the book, Rachel Calof's Story. The book is a biographical narrative about a Russian woman who emigrates to North Dakota to marry a pioneer who has settled there along with other members of his family. It is a unique view into the experience of Jews in late 19th century prairie lifestyle. Four people present had read the book, but the discussion was general, and gave everyone an interesting perspective on the era in history.
It was announced that the next meeting will be at the University of Miami in Coral Gables on May 17. The meeting adjourned at 2:05pm.