Interested in exploring Judaism through an academic lens? Want to develop a background in Jewish literature, history, languages, or cultures? You don’t need to be a Jewish Studies major to enrich your Jewish knowledge. Check out the courses the Jewish Studies program is offering Fall quarter!
EBR 1AIntensive Elementary HebrewHEBR 4Second-Year Hebrew with Doron FriedmanHIS 74Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures with Bruce ThompsonHIS 162Canaan, Israel, and Palestine from Polytheism to Monotheism with Gildas HamelHIS 172A German History with Mark Cioc
HIS 175B Modern Russian History with Peter Kenez
LTMO 144H Jewish Writers and the European City: Venice with Murray Baumgarten
LTMO 190Y Topics in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture: Jewish Comedy with Bruce Thompson
MUSC 80T Mizrach: Jewish Music in the Lands of Islam with Avi Tchamni
Published on page 8 of the Spring 2012 issue of Leviathan.
After a hectic and controversial year, the Leviathan Staff thought it would be beneficial to revisit the subject of what it means to be Jewish in today’s world. This is in no way a simple question, as the diversity of the Jewish people speaks to the fluidity of our identity. Are we the culmination of our history, inheriting monotheism through our holy lineage? Or are we just fingerprints, products of our ever-changing environment, blips on the cosmic stage? Are we grounded in our past, or is it our obligation to live in the present and look towards the future?
We did not decide on our cover image this quarter without much deliberation. We hope the message is clear: while we may feel overwhelmed as little individuals within our greater communities, as Jews, as Americans, even as Santa Cruz students, we must remember we are greater than the sum of our parts. Some groups overlap, some clash, but if we allow ourselves to learn from a different perspective, what we find is so much more meaningful and surprising than if we choose to remain in uniform ignorance. Our steadfast refusal to admit fault and listen to those who disagree will only result in the division of our collective identity; we must remain conscious of our assumptions. Even when we disagree, there is still room for all of us within the Jewish community. If we maintain these basic humanist standards, we can become empowered by our differences, and the solidarity of our community will not waver. Through active listening and mutual acceptance, not only can we cultivate something beautiful, we can begin to truly know one another.
Our hope is to inspire you not only to accept Jewishness in all its forms, but to actively push your own boundaries. Grapple with ideas that make you uncomfortable. Play the devil’s advocate. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to your own assumptions, and don’t just hear, but listen. If you disagree with the ideas in this journal, good! And if they make you question, or even make you think, we will have done our job. Enjoy!
This past winter break, six days after my birthday, my grandmother passed away. It was December 18th. I got the call around eight in the morning and cried for a good two hours while my dad rushed to buy plane tickets to Israel so we could go to the funeral and say goodbye. We stayed in Israel for two weeks for the funeral and the shiva, the seven-day period of mourning, and flew back to the US by New Year’s Eve. During my short time in Israel, I shuffled through all her old pictures and journals and was reminded of her life, a story I have heard many times. Only now do I realize how much inspiration can be drawn from her journey and her strength.
My grandmother, Pnina Kelem Gold Noiman, was born on November 29th, 1929 in a small town in British-controlled Palestine (later to be known as Tel-Aviv, Israel). Growing up, she was always surrounded by family. Either alongside her twin brother, Shmulik, or her younger brother Yechezkel (Ezekiel), she was never alone, and she liked it that way. Sadly, at the age of twelve, Pnina suffered her first loss. Her mother passed away and she was left as the only woman in a house filled with three men. Due to the tragic reality of her mother’s death, she had to become the mother figure for both of her brothers and quickly assumed the role of housewife.
At the age of fifteen, Pnina made a decision for her family and the Jewish community. She ran away from home and joined what was called the Haganah (Protection). The Haganah was a group of Jewish teenagers and adults who wanted to be part of an army to protect their land from invasion before an organized Zionist military even existed. While she was part of this impromptu organization, her job was to deliver hand grenades and explosives to other units, a job punishable by death by the British forces. After serving for two years in the Haganah, she joined the Palmach, the underground army of the Yishuv (Jewish community), prior to the formation of the state of Israel. Coincidentally, the United Nations voted in favor of the notion to partition the British mandate of Palestine in order to make room to create an Independent Jewish State of Israel on her sixteenth birthday. However, just because the UN voted it into existence, did not mean that the notion was recognized right away. There were still battles to be fought and the very idea of a country to protect.
During her service in the Palmach, Pnina went to Jerusalem in the Orthodox Battalion in 1948. In Jerusalem, specifically in the village of Mekor Chaim, she was part of the protection agency and went undercover for six months. During these six months, no one heard from her or knew her whereabouts. In Jerusalem, one of her jobs was picking up the dead bodies on the street and organizing them for a proper burial. While serving, Pnina was one of the only three girls in the entire Palmach that participated in combat during the war in 1948 and even found herself in face-to-face combat against Sudanese soldiers.
Finally, at the end of the war, she came back to Tel-Aviv and was reunited with her family. In that same year, the first-ever Israeli newspaper came out and Pnina Kelem was on the cover. An extensive article was written about her explaining how she risked her life in order to help create the State of Israel and protect the newly formed country. After the war in 1948, Pnina went to work in the legal department of the IDF and met a man named Benjamin Gold. Now Benjamin, or Benny, as he liked being called, was seeing a lovely girl at the time and was unfortunately quite happy in that relationship. Pnina, as was characteristic of her, managed to worm her way into his life and became his confidant. She listened to all his newly relevant relationship problems with his girlfriend, and comforted him when he was upset. He inevitably fell in love with Pnina and, after breaking it off with his old girlfriend, they were married just two years later. In 1951 they had a son and by 1961 they had a total of three children: Yoram, the oldest, Orna, the middle child and only girl, and Ehud (Udy) the youngest. Benny was a construction worker and an architect and because of his job, the entire family (with exception to Yoram) relocated to the small country of Sierra Leone in Africa and lived there for a year while Benny finished building a water tower in the city of Freetown.
In 1967 they returned to Tel-Aviv to continue their lives in Israel. In 1968, when little Udy was only seven years old, Pnina faced another tragedy when Benny passed away in his sleep from a heart attack at the age of forty-two. This devastating and completely unforeseen event shifted the family dynamic in a very familiar way. Orna, like her mother before her, was forced to assume the role of housewife and disciplinarian while Pnina worked two jobs in order to provide for her family. Finally, after being alone for ten years, Pnina found Moishe Noiman, also a widower and one of the only men who could handle a woman with a fire like hers. He moved in with her after the youngest child was out of the house and they started their 32-year long relationship together. In those thirty-two years she continued to work and in that time became the grandmother of six. Each one of her children had two of their own and, continuing the trend of her family, the children’s genders alternated according to their birth order: boy, girl, boy, girl, etc.
In 2009, Pnina riskily had open-heart surgery at the age of eighty. Luckily she recovered, but because of the surgery, her memory was never the same. Doctors say that after enduring this type of physical trauma, it is possible to develop Alzheimer’s, a condition in which one loses their short-term memory abilities. Because of this degenerative disease, about a year later she barely remembered her own grandchildren and confused her children with one another. In the summer of 2010, right before my eldest cousin’s wedding, our family put her into a home that had an on-call staff to make sure she remembered to eat and continued to function normally. Although she was not happy to go to the home, after a while she did not remember when she had gotten there and simply adapted. Even at eighty-one years old, Pnina Gold was not an easy patient to have. When someone bothered her, she would deliver the following warning‚“If you don’t shut up in the next five minutes, I’m going to go over there and smack you myself!” Unbeknownst to the other loud patients and the staff, she was completely serious. She walked right over to whoever was making the ruckus and smacked them, either with her cane or with her bare hand, just so that they would be quiet. Luckily she was living in Israel, and the hospital staff was not only used to this type of behavior but also unmoved by her threats and her occasional misbehaving. Sometimes they would even send her into other patients’ rooms to keep them in check! It would be safe to say that even with her crazy antics, she displayed her chutzpah everywhere she went. Pnina was definitely what one might call “a woman with balls.”
Once in a while, Pnina had to receive blood transfusions because of her heart condition.
On December 18th, 2011, she went in to the hospital for a routine transfusion. Things went wrong, as things often do. Her heart was very weak, and she was old. She passed away at the age of eighty-two, leaving behind Moishe, her three children, six grandchildren, and infinite friends. Her funeral was very beautiful. Many came, including the six grandchildren, four of whom lived outside of Israel. Family and friends laid her to rest in a respected cemetery in Israel with a beautiful tombstone picked out by her children.
This woman was my grandmother.
A woman of valor, integrity, kindness, and tremendous chutzpah. I grew up with her playing Rummikub, listening to her stories, and raiding the candy cupboard made only for the grandkids. I grew up getting knitted sweaters every year, the best food anyone could taste, and kisses that pierced my face with her sharp nose and sharp chin at the same time. I will miss her more than words can describe and so will everyone who knew her. She was my grandmother, my friend, and my hero. Her name, Pnina, literally translates to Pearl. Pearl Gold. And that’s what she was, a pearl of gold. Rare, beautiful, and although malleable, also strong. So here’s to you Savta Pnina, Savta Pina, Savta Ptitim. You were the most interesting, inspiring, and heroic person I have ever met. Much love from the world below, I know you’ll give them hell up there.
Published on page 12 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.
Note from the Editorial Board: This response was written by the Committee for Justice in Palestine, a student organization that educates students and the local community about the Palestinian struggle for independence. It has been our honor and privilege to collaborate with the CJP in order to demonstrate our aim to give equal voice to all perspectives.
The CJP meets on Tuesdays at 8pm in Bay Tree Conference Rooms.
The pervasive issues of violence and injustice affecting the people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are highly contentious and can evoke strong personal reactions in those who discuss them. As students in a university setting, we have a responsibility to address this controversial topic in a thoughtful and scholarly manner. It is with this responsibility in mind that the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) is compelled to respond to defamatory statements an author made about our organization and events in an article titled “The Real Threat of Anti-Semitism,” editors published in the Fall 2011 issue of Leviathan Jewish Journal. The piece alleges that CJP circumvented school regulations and crossed the line between free speech and anti-Semitism during an unspecified event. The author did not contact CJP for information regarding the event in question, nor did he give it a chance to comment prior to the publication of the piece.
While it is reasonable that people would have varying accounts of a single event, expected debate can slip into false characterizations of the actions and intentions of the parties involved. The article in question states that “the Committee for Justice in Palestine held a rally for the destruction of Israel…[with] signs and chanted slogans that called for the elimination of the ‘Zionist entity.’” The piece also claims that there were “students carrying balloons that had swastikas drawn on them.” It goes on to assert that CJP was in “clear breech of campus regulation and protocol” and holds that “the support of such events as those listed above would be akin to the university sponsoring a lecture by a leader of the Ku Klux Klan or some other White Supremacist group.”
These statements are incredibly inflammatory and could not be farther from the truth. The CJP is a multi-ethnic and ideologically diverse student organization brought together by a desire to spread awareness about the Palestinian struggle for human rights and self-determination. As such, it takes the issue of hate speech on campus and violations of school policy very seriously. First and foremost, CJP must state that the use of swastikas and other derogatory symbols or language is completely against the values of our group and would have been personally offensive to our members.
While the article provides no time or date information in reference to the alleged rally, the author has verbally confirmed that he was writing about an event in early 2009. CJP did hold a rally in the Quarry Plaza in January of that year, a collaborative event it organized with a now defunct UCSC branch of the Campus Antiwar Network. The purpose of this demonstration was to show solidarity with the people of Gaza and protest Operation Cast Lead, the 2009 Israeli military invasion that resulted in the death of 1,400 Palestinians in a single month. Although demonstrators did employ white balloons during this rally to represent casualties of the conflict, CJP’s photographs confirm that no symbols or writing were included on any of the balloons the group distributed, other than one that said simply, “Respect.”
CJP does not believe that it contravened school policy or participated in hate speech in organizing the Gaza solidarity event or any other that it has sponsored. None of the CJP members who were present participated in or heard chants using the language the article attributed to them, nor did they hold any signs referring to the destruction of any people or state. CJP’s SOAR advisor was physically present that day, as were trained crowd monitors, in order to ensure protesters broke no rules and respected the free speech rights of student demonstrators in an opposing rally. Photos from the protest have been accessible to the public on our online forum since February 2009.
The article’s description of our event as a “rally for the destruction of Israel” pushes the boundary between liberal interpretation and blatant mischaracterization. Such unfounded allegations negatively impact CJP’s ability to organize in the campus community and grossly misrepresent its members, their beliefs, and intentions. Furthermore, they perpetuate an extreme and often uninformed way of engaging with the conflict that stigmatizes and distorts the actual experiences and perspectives of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
This article exhibits the type of overzealous approach that falsely characterizes Palestinians living under military occupation as hateful, violent, and “tribally backwards,” and also portrays Israelis in a similarly distorted fashion. This type of demonization renders honest and open exchange about Israel/Palestine nearly impossible and undermines intellectual integrity and academic freedom. For example, disingenuous comparisons like the one the author draws between university sponsorship of our events and that of the Ku Klux Klan are not only defamatory, but actively work to silence and delegitimize criticism of Israeli government policy. This silencing is especially detrimental in an educational community, like UCSC, where the free exchange of ideas is supposed to be a core value.
The Palestinian people, and those who support them, are not hateful or anti-Jewish by nature. We believe that educating our campus community about these issues is important because of the scale and scope of the historical and contemporary abuses that Palestinians experience in both their homeland and refugee diaspora (the largest in the world). This education is especially critical in the U.S. because our tax-dollars directly fund the Israeli military and many people often stigmatize or ignore the
Palestinian narrative in domestic discussion of the conflict. We thank Leviathan Jewish Journal for giving us the space to respond to the defamatory statements that it published in the last issue. It is our belief that open and sincere communication on campus can promote a positive and accepting environment for all students, Jewish, Palestinian, and otherwise.
Published on page 19 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.
The mind-body problem was the obsession of most philosophers before this century’s crop discovered that it is, like all metaphysical questions, either meaningless or trivial. But I’ll never be convinced of that. It’s the essential problem of metaphysics, about both the world out there and the world in here … What is the world? What am I? This is the mind-body problem.
–Rebecca Goldstein, “The Mind-Body Problem”
Expressing the mind-body problem is the work of a writer. Words and stories help us take in, sift through, and then reveal. But what happens when events we perceive doesn’t match what others perceive? The mind-body problem isn’t limited to individual experience, but can grip an entire collective, like the Jewish community.
The Leviathan staff has become incredibly conscious of its own mind-body problem. When two parties share an experience, they will come up with two different viewpoints, blurring the line between perception and interpretation. The problem arises when two bodies fail to sync with two minds, especially concerning issues as delicate as the ones explored in this journal. Opinions can be presented as fact, and facts presented as evidence towards a greater agenda. The power we have as journalists is not to be taken lightly.
While our staff is comprised of several minds, we only have one body in which to collect our thoughts. We’ve said that our goal is to give equal expression to all voices, but talking about it isn’t enough. When someone feels they have been wronged, it’s our responsibility to serve as a bipartisan forum invested in equal representation as well as the truth. In the following pages, you will find the results of our struggle to truly craft a space for all perspectives.
To keep the mind and body aligned is no easy task. Yet when the mind and body finally meet and tension subsides, powerful things can happen. So if the words in this journal provoke you, enrage you, confuse you, or inspire you– anachnu be’yachad, we are together. Put mind with body and join our conversation.
Leviathan Editorial Board
Published on page 7 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.
Leviathan Jewish Journal is an open medium through which Jewish students and their allies may freely express their opinions. We are commited to responsibly representing the views of each individual author. Every quarter we aim to publish a full and balanced spectrum of media exploring Jewish identity and social issues. The opinions of Leviathan’s staff, the organized Jewish community, or the university of California.
Published on page 6 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.