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Aron Hirt-Manheimer

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French candidate Emmanuel Macron against a blue background

Stéphane Beder is the president of the Assemblee du Judaisme Liberal, vice chairman of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, and senior vice chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. We spoke with him as France heads for the upcoming parliamentary elections on June 11 and 18.

ReformJudaism.org: It was reported that 90% of Jews voted for Emmanuel Macron and 10% for Marie Le Pen. What do these numbers say about the politics of the Jews of France?

Stéphane Beder: In France, conducting election polls based on religious affiliation is illegal, so we do not have...

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Three seperate tiles on an adobe wall representing three religions: Islam, Judaism, Christianity

Imam Abdullah Antepli, Duke University’s Muslim chaplain and senior fellow on Jewish Muslim Relations at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, will be a featured speaker at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in Boston, December 6-10, 2017. I sat down with the Turkish-born cleric to hear the story of his remarkable odyssey from anti-Semite to passionate Jewish-Muslim bridge builder.

ReformJudaism.org: When did you first become aware of Jews and Judaism?

In the 1980s, when I was eight or nine years old, I watched on television an Israeli soldier breaking the...

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Old gravestone with Hebrew lettering

“I knew your father, of blessed memory, in Bendin,” the elderly man informed me in the midst of a bar mitzvah party. “I was there recently,” he continued, “and saw the building next to the railroad station on Malachowska Street where the Manheimers lived before the war. Are you planning to visit Poland anytime soon?”

“Maybe I’ll go there someday,” I said, not wanting to disappoint him. I asked him for a map and he drew one on the back of his business card. It was still in my wallet, when I received an invitation several weeks later to join a Jewish press tour to Poland.

The...

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Two men in synagogue balcony, one in tallit and phylacteries

At 26, Csanad Szedgedi was the poster boy of Hungary’s burgeoning far-right nationalist party. He founded the Iron Guard, a paramilitary organization inspired by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party complicit in the murder of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. And as national vice chairman of the radically patriotic Christian party, Jobbik, he held one of the three seats it won in the 2009 European Parliamentary Elections.

Three years later, his world crashed down around him after a fellow neo-Nazi broke the news to him and to the world that Csanad’s maternal...

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Orphan children in DP camp following WW II

After their liberation from Nazi captivity, my parents were reunited in Feldafing, a displaced persons camp in the U.S. Zone of occupied Germany. I was three when our family finally received visas to come to America in the fall of 1951.

We owe our American citizenship to the Displaced Persons Act, the first refugee resettlement plan to became part of U.S. immigration policy. But the intent of the 1948 law – to grant citizenship to the “victims of Nazi persecution” confined in DP camps – was undermined by a fascist sympathizer who sat on the three-member Displaced Persons Commission...

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