Purim Treats: Moroccan Boyozas and Hamantaschen with the Legendary Faye Rapp

The legendary baker Faye Davis-Rapp shares her Moroccan Boyozas and Hamantaschen recipes with Voice4Israel just in time for Purim.

Fanny (Faye), née Migueres, Davis-Rapp was born to a Sephardic family in Fez, Morocco. Davis-Rapp moved to England and then Seattle WA, where she lived for 43 years, before moving to Chapel Hill, NC.

Boyozas and Hamantaschen

by Faye Davis-Rapp

Boyozas

The tradition passed on to me by my parents was that when a woman marries she adopts her husband’s customs. So although I kept making traditional Sephardic foods, I also learned to make traditional Ashkenazic foods.

For Purim, I’m sharing two recipes: Boyozas and Hamantaschen.

Some people think that Sephardic Boyozas represent Haman’s eyes, but my mom called them “jailed Haman.” 

Boyozas are small round loaves of bread with a whole raw egg latticed with dough strips on top, one egg for children or 2 eggs for parents. Some people call this loaf “Challah” and throw away the egg reflecting the sacrifice of the Beit Ha Mikdash. Others, as in my tradition, will throw the lattice but eat the eggs, sandwiched in the bread.

My mother would combine the following ingredients in a large mouthed clay pot called a Sf’na.

 1 1/2 cup warm water

1 heaping tablespoon sugar

1 generous tablespoon dry yeast

1/3 cup oil

5 cups flour (can be 3 c. White and 2 c. Whole wheat)

2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon Fennel, anise seed, or rosemary to taste. (I knead whole fennel in the dough)

She would then place the Sf’na on the floor and, on hands and knees, knead the dough for about 15-20 minutes yielding a soft and pliable dough, which she would then let rise for 30-40 minutes. (I put the ingredients in my mixer with a dough hook, mix  for 7-10 minutes then knead the dough on a flat surface for another 10 minutes.)

My mother would briefly knead the dough after the first rise and then split it into 4 portions (3 smaller and 1 larger as we were a family of 5). She would then flatten each piece to make a circle about 1/4 inch thick. With scissors she would cut inwards about 1 1/2 inches all around the circle, then pinch the ends of the cut pieces. A washed and dried egg was then placed in a dip in the center of the circle (I pierce my eggs with an egg piercer or a pin to avoid the egg bursting in the oven) carefully so as not to break the dough underneath the egg. She would then drape the eggs with two thin strips of dough to form a cross on the egg, fusing the ends of the strips with the dough of the main circle with moistened fingers.

Following the second rise my mother would send baking trays full of Boyozas to the communal oven which was located down the road. (Not unlike a red brick old fashion pizza oven)

This oven, adjacent to to the synagogue, was also used to bake challah bread for Shabbat. And once the challah were removed, the Shabbat Cholent was placed in the oven to cook slowly until lunch the following day. Moroccan cholent is known as “Shkheena”, from the Arabic word “hot,” or with a French twist, “Dafina” or “La Daf.” The shkheena was delivered to homes following Shabbat services a hot meal.

My grandfather, Haim Cohen, would kosher the oven before Pesach so that matzah could be baked for the  neighborhood, under his strict supervision. In 1998, I visited my old neighborhood, and saw that the synagogue was being renovated and is now a UNESCO protected site.

In the absence of a community oven, I preheat my oven to 350 degrees and bake the Boyozas for 20-25 minutes.

Hamantaschen

With its origins in Germany, I had never heard of hamantaschen in Morocco. Once I learned about them I put my baking skills to use to come up with my own recipe. 

 4 cups all purpose flour 

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ cups Crisco shortening

¼ cups margarine or butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 Tbs. finely grated orange peel

½ C fresh orange juice

Mix flour, baking powder & salt and set aside

In an electric mixer, beat the butter/margarine, Crisco, and sugar.

Add eggs and mix well, then add orange zest and juice until incorporated.

Pour in flour mixture, keep stirring until soft dough in formed.  

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate up to 24 hrs.

Roll to ¼ in. thickness, about 3.25” diameter.

Place one teaspoon of the filling of choice in the middle of the round shape and fold the sites to form a triangle.

Fillings include any fruit preserves, to which chocolate chips or nuts or both can be added. Dried fruit (including figs, prunes, cranberries, dates, raisins), mixed with orange juice and peel, can be puréed in a food processor. Lemon juice, chopped nuts, and/or cinnamon can be  added to taste. Poppy seeds, a traditional filling, can be used from a can or freshly cooked in water and sugar, with orange/lemon peel.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Duke Supporter: University Should Not Co-Sponsor Anti-Israel Conference

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Stefanie Kahn, a parent of three Duke students and well known Duke supporter, wrote this heartfelt letter to the university. 

Other letters are archived at Israeli Under Attack at UNC and Duke.

Dear Vince, Jack and Sally,

I am writing as a parent of 3 Duke students (2 alumni, one of whom is back at Fuqua, and a current junior) as well as a a Nasher [Museum of Art at Duke] Board member and employee, a Braxton Craven Fellow, an Iron Dukes member and a very dedicated Duke supporter. I am also a Jewish resident of Raleigh.

I am very concerned about the fact that Duke University is Co-Sponsoring the Conflict Over Gaza Conference. I fully believe in the right to free speech and support any Duke faculty member who wants to organize and support this conference, but I am dismayed that the University is a co-sponsor. Why?

The University has had an impressive track record of speaking out against anti-semitism, racism, bigotry and other discriminatory social and religious issues. I have applauded your stand in acknowledging the African American architect of the University, removing the racist statue at the Chapel, re-naming certain buildings, standing with the LBGTQ community, etc. so it upsets me that you aren’t taking a grander stand on this issue.

I urge you to please re-consider your actions and pull your support for this conference. It is organized by known anti-semites and is very one-sided. At the very minimum, please insist that other voices have an opportunity to speak and debate the current line up of speakers and panelists.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Stefanie Kahn

Be like Stephanie Kahn and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

UNC and Duke to Host Biased Conference Against the Only Jewish State

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

UNC alumna  Elizabeth J. Kardon wrote UNC and Duke officials. 

To all parties concerned,

I write to you as a UNC-CH alumna, the daughter and sister of Duke alumni, and most importantly, a Jewish woman and mother, native to and living in the Triangle.

I’m extremely disappointed in your decision to host the upcoming Conference on Gaza. This event, thinly and inadequately veiled as a scholarly dialogue, is in fact a one-sided campaign to continue to malign the only Jewish state in the world, and the only Democracy in the Middle East.

Several of your speakers have actively and publicly promoted terrorism against my people. You’ve included no speakers to educate on the reality of Gaza, no one to speak of the terror experienced by those Israelis living on the border. I agree wholeheartedly that Gaza must be freed. It’s people must be freed from Hamas, the terrorist ruling body in Gaza, which forces citizens at gun point to join violent protests at the border, which educates preschool children to kill Jews, which assassinates any Muslim suspected of selling property to a Jew, which throws homosexuals off of rooftops to their death.

You’ve effectively contributed to a hostile environment for Jewish students, and you will be held accountable. As you may be aware, there are several lawsuits filed against the City of Durham and it’s Mayor and Council members along similar lines. What you’re doing falls squarely under religious and ethnic discrimination, and you will be made to answer for it.

I’m beyond disappointed, frankly disgusted, by your decision. I would hope you re-evaluate your stance.

Regards,

Elizabeth J. Kardon
UNC-CH Class of 1991

Be like Liz Kardon and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Unbalanced Conference Co-Sponsored by Duke and UNC

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Bob Gutman, Co-Chair of Voice4Israel, wrote this concise, strong letter to UNC and Duke officials. 

Duke President Vincent Price, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr., UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr.

I am a retired nephrologist at Duke. The hosting of the Conference titled: “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” sounds good when I read the title.

But the obvious deliberate choosing of speakers noted for their opposition to Israel about which you have already learned about needs adult attention. For academic institutions to allow such severe abridgment of expected scholarly standards is highly improper.

Please insist on a follow-up symposium that explains to the same public why Israel is caught in a bind promulgated by their neighbors and now, by so many institutions such as yours.

Sincerely

Robert Gutman

Be like Bob Gutman and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Clearly Not a Peace Conference and Not Worthy of Duke University

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Duke University alum Eric Chabinsky wrote President Price to express strong concerns about the conference. 

Dear President Price,

I am discouraged and disgusted to see that my alma mater and UNC are planning to co-host the subject conference in March.

Similar to the ISM [International Solidarity Movement] conference hosted by Duke many years ago, our University is giving hate, anti-semitism and anti-Zionism a forum and legitimacy it does not deserve-

This is clearly not a peace conference, an academic debate or anything worthy of Duke University. Coming on the heels of the East Campus Swastika incident, the Chronicle Editorial Board handling of the Ilhan Omar comments, and Duke Academic Press’s publication of the unscholarly Israel smear “Right to Maim” I see a disturbing trend of Duke becoming unwelcome to Jewish students as it allows itself to be used by BDS supporters and Israel haters that have no plan or objectives other than destroying the only Jewish nation in the world.

If Gazans had supported and elected leadership intent on peace and not Hamas which continuously fires rockets into Israel, spends millions on attack tunnels, infiltrates the border with fire balloons, and teaches their young children to hate all Jews, I’m confident there would be peace today.

As president, you’re responsible for the safety and proper learning environment for all your students including those that are Pro-Israel and Jewish even though they may be a minority- You’re also responsible for Duke’s reputation.

With all due respect to academic freedom, I’m asking you to cancel this non-academic event if it can not be reformulated to be objective, worthy, representative of multiple viewpoints, and not just an anti-Israel propaganda fest.

Sincerely,

Eric Chabinsky
Duke Engineering ‘85

Be like Eric Chabinsky and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Please Reconsider Gaza Symposium

Durham City Council, Israel

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Mike Ross, Co-Chair of Voice4Israel, wrote this thoughtful, strong letter to UNC and Duke officials. 

Dear UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr.

I am a recently retired neuroradiologist having practiced at Wake Medical Center, (instructing UNC trainees) for many years and more recently at UNC Rex Hospital.

I am greatly saddened by the recent uptick in antisemitism, which has occurred at university campuses in our great state; some of it apparently from white supremacist sources. I am equally concerned with the rhetoric emanating from the radical anti-Israel side. There it often crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, into demonization and delegitimization of Israel, with attacks on Israel’s very right to exist, as a Jewish homeland. Since the vast majority of Jews feel a strong connection to Israel and to the need for its survival, they also feel targeted by these malign, disingenuous and deceitful accusations. They are ostracized by some groups if they do not toe the proper line. They hide their feelings so as to avoid acrimonious situations. It is for them a very non inclusive climate.

This is all background to the alarm our community feels regarding UNC’s joint sponsorship with Duke of the upcoming Gaza conference on March 22nd through March 24th. As you undoubtedly now know, the speakers at the symposium contain many despisers of Israel who are outspoken in their desire to eliminate the Jewish State. The symposium is devoid of any pro-Israel perspective as far as we know. This is not an academic event, where true engagement with factual information, inclusion of differing opinion and dialog is championed. In contradistinction, this event promises to be entirely polemical, filled with hate and intended for indoctrination. Rather than providing honor to our distinguished institution, it compromises its integrity and tarnishes UNC’s great name.

As Elie Wiesel once told President Reagan, when he planned to visit a cemetery, where SS soldiers were buried: “That place, Mr. President, is not your place.

Please do not maintain your sponsorship of the Gaza symposium, for that place is not your place.

Sincerely,

Michael Ross MD
Raleigh, NC

Be like Mike Ross and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Duke and UNC Should Not Host Hateful, Anti-Zionist Conference

Rabbi Lev Cotlar is Director of Education at Congregation Sha’arei Israel in Raleigh, NC. 

Rabbi Cotlar wrote UNC and Duke University officials to express his concerns about their planned anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza. 

“I wrote this letter to some of the contacts in the link below, I think it’s important that we voice our opposition to something as biased and anti-Israel as this on campus, being disguised as academic discourse.” -Rabbi Lev Cotlar

Open Letter to Duke University President Vincent Price and UNC Officials 

Dear President Price,

I hope you are doing well. Many people in the Jewish community here in Raleigh have approached me expressing concern about the upcoming conference on Gaza scheduled from March 22-24 being co-hosted by Duke and UNC. After looking into the course schedule and its presenters, it sadly appears to be no more than another anti-Israel affair camouflaged as a discussion about Gaza. I was horrified to discover that several presenters have compared Israelis to Nazis and many promote boycotting Israel. Opening the conference is speaker Laila El-Haddad who has tweeted “Israel is a terrorist state” and has charged Israel with “equating [Palestinian] children with human cannon fodder.” Additionally, El-Haddad has compared Gaza to the Holocaust. Other speakers and moderators, including Sara Roy, Rebecca Stein, and Sara Shields, are known to be highly critical of Israel and promoters of boycotting Israeli academic institutions and supporters of the BDS movement (Roy even had the audacity to draw “parallels between the behavior of Israeli soldiers and Nazis during the Third Reich.”) Likewise, the conference will include a number of videos featuring artists discussing the hardships of living in Gaza and blaming Israel for the hardships. Not one Israeli artist or civilian is represented to share their experiences of living under the fear of Gazan rockets, mortars, tunnels, and incendiary devices intended to kill, terrorize, burn, and kidnap Israelis

As President of a highly prestigious institution such as Duke University, I respectfully request that you reconsider co-hosting this hateful, anti-Zionist and anti-academic conference. It is clear that this is not about having a balanced and unbiased discourse, but rather another opportunity to demonize and delegitimize Israel, without even giving her a voice to defend itself by featuring any pro-Israel presenters or artists. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify as a proud Jew and/or Israel supporter (most anti-Israel students and organizations don’t make the distinction) on campuses across the country due to the toxic anti-Israel atmosphere, and I fear that this conference will only contribute to that environment of hate. Once again, I implore you to take action to ensure that Duke remains a safe and comfortable environment for all students by cancelling this upcoming unbalanced and biased conference.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Lev Cotlar
Director of Education
Congregation Sha’arei Israel

Be like Rabbi Cotlar and Make Your Voice Heard

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Press Release: I am not a Jew with trembling knees

Israel, Durham City Council, Israel Resolution

Durham, NC Boycotts Police Training with Israel

On April 16, 2018, Durham, North Carolina became the first city in the country to boycott police trainings specifically with Israel. Since then, two lawsuits have been filed against Durham on this matter. Now a third complaint, released March 8, is being prepared by the North Carolina Coalition for Israel (NCCI).

This third legal complaint goes directly to the issue of anti-Semitism in a manner echoing this important talk to the House of Representatives by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla) making clear that “It should not be this hard” to condemn this scourge. We thank the North Carolina Coalition for Israel.

Read the press release below. 

Update: Article in News & Observer – Durham facing 3rd possible lawsuit over city’s policing statement and Israel

Press Release

North Carolina Coalition for Israel

TO:  General Press

Date and Time:

            The North Carolina Coalition for Israel has announced the preparation of a Complaint to be filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, to be filed against the City of Durham, North Carolina; Durham City Council and Steve Schewel, Mayor, Jillian Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem, Vernetta Alston, Javiera Caballero, DeDreana Freeman, Mark-Anthony Middleton, and Charlie Reece, all in their official capacities as officials of the City of Durham and Members of the Durham City Council; Durham Human Relations Commission; Andrea M. Hudson, HRC Commissioner; Diane Standaert, HRC Commission Chair; John Rooks, HRC Commission; and Mikel Barton, HRC Commission. 

            The North Carolina Coalition for Israel will be joined by Kathryn Wolf, Rabbi Jerome Fox and Perri Shalom-Liberty as Plaintiffs.

            Counsel for Plaintiffs are Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann, and D. J. O’Brien of Brooks Pierce.

            In keeping with the Coalition’s reputation for integrity, the Complaint has been sent by its attorneys to Kimberly Rehberg,City Attorney, for review prior to filing and in order to determine whether any resolution is possible prior to formal litigation occurring.

            The lengthy and detailed Complaint explains the manner in which the Plaintiffs and Jewish community in the City of Durham have been discriminated against based upon religion and nationality due to the conduct of the Defendants, including but not limited to the City of Durham, North Carolina.

            The pleading to be filed with the Court, if the matter cannot be resolved, details how Mayor Steve Schewel, City Council and others, demonized the Jewish community in stereotypical anti-Semitic fashion by making false and highly misleading claims about the State of Israel and its police training programs. 

            The City of Durham, through its elected officials, disregarded Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis’s endorsement of the Israel Exchange program in which she said that she was never instructed on methods to oppress Palestinian Arabs or any other group.  Nevertheless, City officials passed a “statement” which was knowingly false, claiming that Israel was a source of “militarized policing” and thus prohibited any future involvement in the Israel program.  None had ever been planned.

            The attorneys explained in their correspondence to the city attorney that the city and the rest of the Defendants would be given 30 days to determine if there is any serious interest in prefiling negotiations.  Thereafter, the Complaint will be filed with the federal court, and litigation will ensue.

Editor’s note: The title of this post, “I am not a Jew with Trembling Knees” was taken from a Menachem Begin quote featured in the NCCI announcement of this complaint. 

I Love Israel with Jamie Rodny

Jamie Rodny

This is the ninth post in a series discussing love of Israel. Thank you Jamie Rodny!

When was the first and last time you visited Israel?

In 1999, when I was 16 years old, I went to Israel for a 2 month long trip with 118 Jewish teenagers from all over the Bay Area in Northern California. It was amazing and truly a pivotal experience in my life. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go back even though I really want to experience the beauties of Israel again. 

What is your most memorable moment from the trip? 

The most memorable moment from this trip was being broadcast live to California from the top of Masada as the sun began to rise over the horizon. I, along with a few other excited teenagers, were offered the opportunity to tell our stories and experiences to our family and friends in the Bay Area. I was so overcome with gratitude and emotion in the moment of retelling my incredible adventure to my parents, little brother, and grandparents that I began crying while having the biggest smile on my face. My mother later told me that my tears of joy made everyone in the room at Cal State East Bay cry and laugh simultaneously. She said that in that moment, she realized that she had been wrong to argue with me about allowing me to go on the trip (she was scared for my safety). She could tell that the journey shaped my soul and was grateful that I won the fight, for once. Climbing the zig-zagging snake path up Masada before sunrise was a thrill. Walking along the same dirt paths as Jews did thousands of years ago made me feel connected to history. And being broadcast to tell my tale across the globe to my family was truly a gift. It was just a very magical experience in the holiest place on earth.

What is the best food you had in Israel?

The best food I had in Israel included the amazing chicken shwarma wraps and falafel in pita that we got from the street vendors. I absolutely fell in love with the Israeli chopped salad. And every chance we got, we ran to the ice cream truck or market to buy Magnum ice cream bars, which are the best ice cream bars EVER. I still crave that sweet tea that we were served by the amazing Bedouin people in the Negev.

Favorite place to visit?

I can’t just pick one place. My favorite places that we visited are Eilat, Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Jerusalem. The incredible historic and religious landmarks outshine the nightclubs and restaurants of Tel Aviv. I also LOVED walking along the walls of Jerusalem. The Western Wall is also a very strong, magnetic place that causes one to have a real spiritual experience if they let themselves go there.

How would you connect Jewish youth here in Israel with the US?

Jewish youth should go on the same type of trip I went on for a relatively long period of time so that they truly learn and understand what Israel is all about. Israel is an experience. There is no other real way to connect people with a place. They must experience it for themselves. The week long birth right trips are nice, but I do not believe them to be THAT impactful. Going for a full summer to Israel with a big group of kids from your community is a very enriching experience. Thus, if Jewish youth can continue to go on summer long journeys that take them to every meaningful place in Israel, that is the way to connect them to Israel. The connection will remain in their hearts and souls forever and they will become advocates and defenders of Israel forever. I speak from experience.


Jamie Rodny earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Legal Studies, Theater, and Honors in Humanities with a Magna Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco. Subsequently, she earned her law degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law. After graduating from law school, Jamie began her career as a Federal Investigator at the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development, where she enforces federal civil rights laws in housing and lending. Jamie is also a professional photographer, pianist, and singer.

Former HRC Chair Says HRC Dismissing Concerns of Jewish Leaders

Phil Seib

Phil Seib sent the letter below to the Durham Human Relations Commission (HRC) on January 8, 2018 at 2:15PM. Mr. Seib served on the Durham Human Relations Commission (HRC) from 2012-2018 and is past Chair. 

This letter comports with the chief concern of the Jewish community that the Durham HRC is now condoning and endorsing discrimination against the Jewish people. 

Durham HRC Dismisses Jewish Leaders, Institutions, and Community  

Dear Chair, Vice-Chair and Commissioners,

I am writing you asking that the Commission re-consider the omission of the recommendation “The City Council should revise the language in the April 16th language to provide clarity based on the concerns and findings outlined here” found in the prior November 2018 draft report Findings, and Recommendations on April 16th Statement by Durham City Council on International Police Exchanges.

To point I am deeply disturbed by the reasoning of why the Sub-Committee felt this recommendation should not be included in the final draft of the report for consideration by the whole body of the Human Relations Commission in the reports final vote. With this action you are dismissing the main point of concern voiced consistently by all the major Jewish institutions in Durham including The Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill, Judea Reform, [and] Beth-El Synagogue. 

I take issue with the statement in the draft version dated January 6, 2019 in which it states:

“We do not feel that the HRC’s attempt to revise the statement would be of service toward ameliorating tensions or providing appreciable relief from perceived harm. In addition, it is our understanding that the City Council does not plan to revisit their April 16th “Statement by Durham City Council on International Police Exchanges.”

The HRC Increases Tension in Durham

Is this the same Human Relations Commission that I served from 2012-2018? As I read this statement it seems the Commission is saying that you will not add this recommendation primarily because those that have authority (City Council) to help ameliorate the tension in the Jewish Community caused by the proclamation refuse to revisit their proclamation. Additionally I am unsure how it can be concluded that including the recommendation would not ameliorate some tensions with in the Durham Jewish Community. 

To me this is deeply disheartening and problematic. There are several examples in the history of the HRC in which we held elected officials and authorities accountable even though those entities said that they were unwilling to revisit or change current policy. 

The three primary examples that come to mind are:

  1. Police Reform: During our initial research period we were told by Chief Lopez and the City Manager that they were not interested in changes to the way Durham Police Department operates and conducts investigations. It wasn’t until Mayor Bell, based on petitioning of the HRC leadership and leadership of other community groups, that the HRC was given authority to create recommendations of change to the way we police.
  2. The attempted deportation of Wildin Acosta: During the process of bring Wildin home to Durham several voices of authority and some elected Federal officials said it was an near impossible mission alluding to the hopelessness of our actions but yet the HRC and other community groups persevered in the face of such negativity to develop a Proclamation on our community’s values for all residents of Durham.
  3. Durham County Detention Center Reform – From the very start of the HRC’s research continuing to the HRC’s public forum and beyond our submitted report on changes needed to bring the DCDC HRC commissioners were told by elected officials and staff of the Durham County Sheriff’s Department that the majority of concerns raise would not be revisited by the Sheriff or the Detention Center staff. But in the face of all those direct expressions of DCDC leadership refusal to change conditions the HRC continued to hold officials accountable in our written report.

The HRC Is Losing Community Confidence and Is Failing

In addition I find this new statement problematic for the continued success of the HRC. This message can be perceived that the HRC will selectively challenge the established power structure based on the amount of possible push back by those in power. This weakens the trust given to the HRC by the Durham Community and in my mind creates doubts to the ability of the HRC to be an effective agent of change.

I implore the Commission to stay true to the mission, charge and history. There were several times those HRC recommendations caused disharmony within the Commission and each time the Commission held robust discussion on the particular recommendation culminating in a full member vote. I ask that you do the same with the retention of the prior draft’s inclusion of the statement “The City Council should revise the language in the April 16th language to provide clarity based on the concerns and findings outlined here.”

With much respect,

Phil Seib