Tango, Brothels & Jewish History…

by Editor on 5/11/2012

The tango was born in the brothels at the port cities along the rio de la plata and therefore is synonymous with prostitution:

(From an interview with José Judkowski, author of El tango, una historia con judíos. Dance footage courtesy of El Viejo Almacen, Buenos Aires, 2010)

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Trafficking: A Crime So Monstrous

by Editor on 18/07/2012

From the Netherlands, Moldova and Romania to Sudan, South Africa and India, award winning investigative journalist and author Benjamin Skinner has been face-to-face with modern-day slavery. A fellow at Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, he has been a long-time anti-slavery advocate.

Through his work Skinner was able to infiltrate – often undercover – the underworld of global trafficking in order to bear witness and give a voice to the unheard victims of one of the worst crimes against humanity.

In his recent interview, Skinner discussed his book A Crime So Monstrous (Free Press, 2008), providing his unique account and contemporary perspectives on sex trafficking. Here’s an excerpt:

Discussing modern-day trafficking and the millions of sex slaves and others in bondage worldwide (also here on CNN’s Larry King Live, directed for National Geographic by Nico Sabenorio), Skinner emphasizes that “today, slavery is more profligate than ever before in human history.”

In order to turn the corner against trafficking and slavery he suggests greater focus on targeted development program as well as better funding allocation by governments.  But he also strongly believes that true change can come as a result of governments acting together and of the general community “getting involved directly, and there a number of very good organizations that work on this: the Polaris Project here in the US, which seeks to identify and aid trafficking victims across the country, Free the Slaves that work internationally – and these are organizations that can always use help. I think that any time you can transform outrage into action – you are making a change, as a documentarian or as a journalist.”

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Laid to Rest (production assembly)

by Editor on 22/05/2012

Buried Stories of the Jewish Sex Trade

Location Producer/Videographer: Gustavo Hazan
Consulting Producer: Jonathan Barkan
Fine cut: Loren Miller
Assistant Editor: Leah Bartels
Composer: Ari Frankel
Sound mix: Bill Cavanaugh
Translation Assistant: Margo Kolenda
Title design: Ronni Komarow 

With generous support from:

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Rabbi Lauer is washing the dirty laundry

by Editor on 5/10/2011

Rabbi Levi Lauer doesn’t mince words when it comes to discussing his vision and mission of ATZUM-Justice Works, the Israeli social justice NGO he founded in 2002. And he thinks that changing the evil, here and now, can come from looking at the past, then and there:

Excerpt from an interview held in conjunction with Rabbi Lauer’s talk “When Hope Ends in Slavery: Human Trafficking in Israel” at Brandeis University on 9/13/11. The event was co-convened by the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and cosponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies Program, the Social Justice & Social Policy Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.

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Women for Sale (excerpt)

by Editor on 4/10/2011

You can go to a store and buy a shirt, book, ice cream, a toy… a woman. Choose a color, choose a flavor, pay, and even have it To Go.

ATZUM-Justice Works with the Task Force on Human Trafficking launched a provoking social campaign called Woman To Go. Women with price tags perched on stools and stood in a shop window display at the WomanToGo store in a Tel Aviv mall. The Woman To Go campaign aims to raise awareness, criminalize the sexual predation of women, and stop the rising trafficking of women into, out of, and within Israel. Designed by the ad agency Shalmor Avnon Avichay/Y&R Interactive, the campaign received international attention on CNN.

When Hope Ends in Slavery: Human Trafficking in Israel” was the topic of a talk given at Brandeis University by Rabbi Lauer about the Woman To Go campaign and ATZUM’s anti-trafficking focus.

This event was co-convened by the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and cosponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies Program, the Social Justice & Social Policy Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.

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AMIA, Jewish life and memory

by Editor on 18/07/2011

The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (in English: Argentine Israelite Mutual Association), or AMIA in short, is located at the heart of Once, the historical Jewish neighborhood and former hub of Jewish life in Buenos Aires. Founded in 1893 as a Jewish burial association called Chevra Kadisha, it has since evolved into an organization that focuses on Jewish community development and cultural services.

On the morning of July 18, 1994, in one of the worst ever terrorist attacks in Argentina, a powerful bomb was detonated by the AMIA headquarters on Pasteur street. Tearing down the 7-story building, it took the lives of 85 people, injured 200 hundred more, and destroyed many of the community archives. The terrorist attack, which went unresolved in the years that followed, left the community in shock and horror.

Yaacov Agam‘s sculpture Monument to the Victims of the AMIA Terrorist Attack, which was erected on an elevated Star of David platform in the courtyard of the AMIA center, offers a 3D visual tribute to the victims while expressing a message of hope for justice and peace.

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From book to stage

by Editor on 1/06/2011

The tragic story of the Jewish white trade have lured the imagination of numerous novelists over the years. One of the most recent attempts to highlight the subject is the stage adaptation of  A Tale of a Ring by Israeli novelist Ilan Sheinfeld who, these days, in collaboration with stage director Dalia Shimko, is once again bringing his fictional characters to life by placing them on the theatrical stage:

The play, scheduled to premiere in Tel Aviv in July, includes Esti Zakhem, Roberto Polak, Shira Eden, Orly Tobaly, Maya Gesner, Libee Tenenboim, Eyal Raz and Michal Politzer, and original music by Issar Shulman.

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In Memoriam: When Lerer Met Witler

by Editor on 11/04/2011

As a gifted child-actor in Buenos Aires, Shifra Lerer, known by all as Shifra’le, lived and breathed Yiddish on the Jewish Theater stage since she was nine years old. One of her first roles was in a short lived controversial play about the “Tme’im.” Too young to understand what the play was about, she only remembers that it stirred up a heated public debate.

In this excerpt from a May 2010 filmed interview 95 year old Yiddish actress Shifra Lerer reminisces about her first encounter with stage and later life partner Benzion Witler. Shifra Lerer passed away in NYC on March 12, 2011.

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Production Assembly: Who, What, When and Where

by Editor on 1/02/2011

Following the unwinding trail of scarce archival documentation, the documentary Laid to Rest, Buried Stories of Jewish Sex Trade unravels the questions, secrets, myths and mysteries surrounding the topic from the late 19th century until the 1930s. Here is a rough cut of assembled footage filmed and edited between June 2009 – November 2010:

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Reviewing “Tme’im”

by Editor on 31/12/2010

My literary review of Haim Avni’s new book “Tme’im” (2009, Hebrew) on the topic of Jewish white trade was recently published in the Fall 2010/Winter 2011 edition of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association / The University of Texas, pages 25-26.

A distinguished scholar and one of Laid to Rest experts, Haim Avni is a Professor Emeritus of Contemporary Jewish history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He founded and headed the department of Jews of Latin America, Spain and Portugal at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and served until recently as the Academic Director at the Central Zionist Archives.

Avni Haim. “Tme’im”: Sahar Be-nashim be-Argentina uve-Yisra’el. Tel Aviv: Miskal – Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed, 2009. 303 pages. ISBN 978-965-482-627-3

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