Cleveland Jewry Punches above Its Weight

During last year’s march for Israel in Washington, DC, the Jews of Cleveland were represented in far larger numbers than communities of similar size. To explain why, Samantha Baskind looks to history and geography:

Cleveland’s first group of Jewish immigrants arrived in 1839 from Bavaria with the explicit intention to build a community in the growing city. They were sent off with a letter from their ancestral community offering blessings for the journey and an exhortation never to forget their Jewish values: “The promise to remain good Jews may never and should never be broken during the trip, nor in your home life, nor when you go to sleep, nor when you rise again, nor in the raising of your children.”

The city’s Jewish population swelled to an all-time high of 86,540 in the years following World War II, when economic prosperity and a baby boom, combined with ethnic and racial tensions, lured Jews to the eastern suburbs. As families moved, so did the congregations and institutions they had long nurtured. Today, the community is home to over 40 synagogues, nine Jewish schools of all denominations, seven youth groups, four kosher groceries, and at least three kosher pizzerias. Perhaps most remarkable is the compact nature of the demographic structure, with the overwhelming majority residing in just a few square miles.

The consensus among Clevelanders is that this geographical closeness contributes to the success of its institutions. “Cleveland Jews work so well together because we chat,” said nonagenarian Albert Ratner, a former board chair of the Jewish Community Federation whose family has lived in Cleveland for over 100 years.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish History, American Jewry

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security