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The spinning-top name (not the game) appears to be of recent origin, perhaps first employed in the 19th century. From the German word drehen meaning to turn or to spin our Yiddish-speaking forefathers forged the neologism dreidel despite the fact that the German term Kreisel for a spinning-top existed. In southern Germany the final /l/ sound often is used to indicate diminutive objects suggesting that the word dreidel originated from this geographical area. Alternatively speakers of Yiddish no longer living in southern Germany may have created the word dreidel. In any event, the creator or creators of the word dreidel cleverly selected a German word root to name a distinctively Jewish object, thereby, avoiding a German word to commemorate an upbeat rabbinic holiday.

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Our world community and our K.C. Jewish community know the swastika as Hitler’s “symbol.” But we should know as well that the swastika is at least 3,000 years old, and has a positive meaning in many of the old civilizations around India and beyond, being widespread in their old art. One can find a more complete history of the swastika on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (www.ushmm.org) or by Googling the topic. I think it is important for us (and my parents escaped from Warsaw in early September 1939) to have the history of the icon and then see how it was distorted in its usage. This knowledge may help explain the use of it in the particular wrapping paper that started the public cry — for it reminds me of old decorative art in India.

 

The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council is shocked and saddened by the recent attack at the Somali Center of Kansas City, which resulted in the death of 15-year-old Abdisamad “Adam” Sheikh Hussain. We applaud the quick response of law enforcement units, which are investigating this incident as a possible hate crime. There is evidence that the community had been dealing with anti-Muslim statements and threats prior to this incident.

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In the spring of 1968, I was attending Southwest High School. It was a difficult moment in American history. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. The country was seething with racial tension. On April 9, the day of King’s funeral, Kansas City officials had decided not to close schools. That decision led to riots in the city, leaving five dead and over 100 arrested.

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“Lucca’s Stories” by Rachel (Lucca) Ginsburg (Veni Vici Books, Amazon kindle, paperback, February 2014)

It isn’t often that a reviewer has to choose how much to write about the publisher when reviewing an equally interesting book, but that is the case here.

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For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. For every adolescent death by suicide you hear about, approximately 25 suicide attempts are made. These are shocking statistics. Sadly, once again we have become aware of teen suicides in our community. Even if you didn’t know the individuals involved, parents and teens are intensely impacted when young people take their life.

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All of us were shocked and horrified that last week’s murderous terrorist attack in Jerusalem took the life of our friend Rabbi Kalman (Cary) Levine, along with that of four other victims. We have been very comforted by the outpouring of love and support people have shown, and the good memories that we all have of Kalman.

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Participants of the Community Mission to Israel visited Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. It provides a gorgeous view and was the site of one of the largest tank battles in history during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

If you’ve ever been on a Jewish Federation mission to Israel, you understand that being part of such a journey is perhaps -----the----- most impactful way to experience Israel. That was certainly the case when our group of 17 went to Israel in October. 

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A young man in Kansas City was killed Dec. 4 after being deliberately run over by a car in an event that is being investigated as a possible hate crime. On behalf of Shoulder to Shoulder, a national campaign of religious and interfaith organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States and around the world, Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park responded to the fatal violence and conveyed the interfaith community’s condolences for the family and solidarity with the local and national Muslim community:

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“A Bintel Brief” by Liana Finck. (HarperCollins, 2014.)

“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir” by Roz Chast. (Bloomsbury, 2014.)

“Lena Finkles’s Magic Barrel” by Anya Ulinich. (Penguin, 2014.)

“El Iluminado” by Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin. (Basic books, 2012.)

 

All four of these new works of graphic literature feature the author/illustrator as the central character. Yet each one is utterly different from the others and all of them are examples of the talent Jewish graphic artists bring to the genre.

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Karen Loggia is shown here with her son Elliot, who is a student at the Jewish Community Center’s Child Development Center.

The Jewish Community Campus recently announced that drivers will no longer be able to park in the circle drives in front of the Jewish Community Center’s Child Development Center (CDC) preschool and main entrance. We are told this decision was made to create a safer environment for children, members and visitors to the Campus, the JCC and other agencies housed in the building. And certainly after last April’s tragedy, it’s clear that our Campus has to be constantly vigilant to outside attacks.

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We are at war. Many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers as evil. We are disgracefully politically correct. 

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