Photo Essay: Iran’s Jews

In his March 3 speech before the US Congress, where he made the case against a US nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the life of Esther, also known as Haddasah, and the Persian plot to “destroy the Jewish people 2,500 years ago.”

According to the biblical narrative, Esther discovered the plot and ordered the hanging of the Persian viceroy Haman and his sons. That part of Esther’s biblical story became the basis of Purim, one of the most important Jewish celebrations. This year, this festival of salvation is celebrated today, March 4.

Like Haman, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is also bent on destroying the Jewish people and their homeland of Israel, Netanyahu said.

What Netanyahu did not mention was that Esther, was married to Ahasuerus, also referred to as Xerxes, a Persian ruler of the pre-Islamic Achaemenid Empire. Following her marriage, Esther, an orphan and adopted daughter of her uncle Mordechai, became the Jewish Queen of Persia, according to the Book of Esther.

Both Esther and her adoptive father Mordechai are buried in the Iranian city of Hamedan, at an ancient brick memorial that also house a synagogue.

Continue reading “Photo Essay: Iran’s Jews”

The NYPD ‘Third Jihad’ film flap: Perpetrating Islamophobia

Text and photo by Ted Regencia
Written for an Opinion Writing Class at Columbia Journalism School

In light of the revelation that New York City’s top cop, Raymond W. Kelly appeared in a film depicting American Muslims as extremists out to dominate the U.S., it will serve the world’s most diverse city, if Mayor Michael Bloomberg terminates police spokesman Paul J. Browne, orders an independent probe and revisits police actions towards the city’s Muslim population. Left unresolved, the issue poses a corrosive effect on the fragile relationship between the city and the many marginalized minority groups here.

The screening of the film within the confines of the NYPD was wrong. It perpetrates Islamophobia and could elicit more discriminatory acts against American Muslims.

Prejudice and hate towards the Muslims have been on the rise since 9/11, said Prof. Craig B. Futterman, a civil rights professor at the University of Chicago. That should stop. Spreading inaccurate stereotypes and playing upon fears using those kinds of videos only reinforces those prejudices.

Continue reading “The NYPD ‘Third Jihad’ film flap: Perpetrating Islamophobia”

Despite controversy, nun still calls Hunts Point home

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

NEW YORK — On a warm and sunny morning a few Sundays ago, Sister Thomas found herself resting on a chair while overseeing the weekly rummage sale at the garage next to the red brick St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Hunts Point. The cramped structure serves as a storage facility for donated items that her group sells every Sunday. At 78, Sister Thomas is still as involved as she was 49 years ago, when she first arrived at the South Bronx neighborhood.

Only now, she’s no longer welcomed by church’s new pastor.

On July 1, 2010, the Rev. Jose Rivas of the neighboring St. John Chrysostom took over following the death of Rev. Bill Smith. Immediately after taking office, the Colombian-born priest dismissed long-time staff and informed Sister Thomas that her services were no longer needed.

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Bronx synagogue welcomes Jewish New Year with a last goodbye

Text by Ted Regencia and Lindsay Minerva (photo by Ted Regencia)

NEW YORK — On a rainy Wednesday night at the start of Rosh Hashanah, Miriam and Herbert Korman struggled up the stairs to reach the lobby of Temple Emanuel at Parkchester in the Bronx. Eight other congregants waited patiently for the couple to arrive inside the almost empty sanctuary of faded wood and stained glass. As he reached the foyer, 91-year-old Herbert Korman groaned with exhaustion.

It was the final time that the Kormans will lead Jewish New Year services at Temple Emanuel. On Oct. 31, Parkchester’s last conservative synagogue will officially close, bringing an end to another chapter of Jewish history in the Bronx.

“I can’t even imagine not having this,” said Miriam Korman, as she nodded towards the two-story sanctuary. “We’ve been members here for over 50 years.”

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Jewish Republicans see Obama as one-termer

Huffington Post and Patch.com
June 27, 2011

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

 

SKOKIE, Ill. – Between analyzing the electoral prospects of Republican presidential candidates and ridiculing the “level of mental illness among liberal Jews,” members of the Republican Jewish Coalition(RJC) gathered in Skokie last week to discuss how they could help defeat President Obama in 2012.

The standing-room only crowd came from throughout Illinois to fill a conference room at Holiday Inn, where they listened to political analysts and Republican scholars offer political red meat against Obama, whom one speaker accused of being “more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians.”

Michael Menis, president of RJC’s Chicago chapter, told Skokie Patch that his group was alarmed at Obama’s policies toward Israel.

“There’s concern in the Jewish community as far as President Obama’s allegiance to the United States’ long-time ally Israel,” he said. “Through his rhetoric and his actions, he seems to have departed from the policy that we’ve seen coming from other presidential administrations since the creation of Israel in 1949.”

Menis said the meeting’s heavy turnout on June 23 was a good indication that RJC members could be invaluable in helping efforts to elect a GOP president in 2012.

To read the full story, please visit Skokie Patch.com