After hearing disturbing stories of anti-semitism, journalist Petter Ljunggren decided to see for himself what it was like to be Jewish in Sweden.
Shmuel Goldberg, a Jewish restaurant owner originally from New York, told Ljunggren that people often yell “Jew” and “Palestine” at him and even spit at him. Once someone was about to physically attack him before a woman warned him, “You’re going to get killed if you wear a kippah here.”
Ljunggren put on a kippah (skullcap) and a Star of David necklace and walked the streets of Malmo, the third-largest city in Sweden, where he was treated similarly.
A man beating his fist into his palm, shouted anti-semitic slurs, and eggs hurled from windows were among the threats and insults he encountered during his journey.
In one anti-Jewish area, a man appeared stunned to see a Jew and warned him to leave. One onlooker called the man “Jew swine.”
Ljunggren produced a documentary of his shocking adventures: “Jew-Hatred in Malmo.” He notes in the video that many of the incidents are perpetrated by Muslims originally from the Middle East, who apparently believe the conflict there is a legitimate excuse to treat their neighbors badly. The documentary was broadcast Jan. 21 in Sweden.
One interviewed Muslim concluded, “It’s only basic to hate Jews.”
Parents and students alike were surprised and unsettled by the presence of Islam in their high school vocabulary lessons.
The vocabulary was presented as a worksheet in the school’s 12th grade English class. “It really caught me off guard,” a student said. “If we are not allowed to talk about any other religions in school – how is this appropriate?”
“I just looked at it and knew something was not right – so I emailed the pages to my mom,” said the student.
“In the following exercises, you will have the opportunity to expand your vocabulary by reading about Muhammad and the Islamic word,” the worksheet read. It proceeded to use words such as astute, conducive, erratic, mosque, pastoral, and zenith to describe various aspects of Islam.
“The zenith of any Muslim’s life is a trip to Mecca,” one sentence read. Another introduced “erratic” with this sentence: “The responses to Muhammad’s teachings were at first erratic. Some people responded favorably, while other resisted his claim that ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad his Prophet.’”
A “complete this sentence” section included the statement: “There are such vast numbers of people who are anxious to spread the Muslim faith that it would be impossible to give a(n)___ amount.”
One parent was “extremely troubled” by the lessons her child was given. “What if right after Pearl Harbor our educational system was talking about how great the Japanese emperor was?” the parent asked. “What if during the Cold War our educational system was telling students how wonderful Russia was?”
She added that the lessons were “classwork disguised as Islamic propaganda.”
“It’s very shocking,” she said. “I just told my daughter to read it as if it’s fiction. It’s no different than another [type] of fictional book you’ve read.”
The school defended the lesson, which was found in a state-adopted supplemental workbook and met “Common Core standards for English Language Arts.”
“The course is designed to accompany the world literature text, which emphasizes culture in literature,” a school statement read.
The school district did concede there were concerns “related to the religious nature of sentences providing vocabulary words in context.”
“Our school system understands all concerns related to proselytizing, and there is no place for it in our instruction,” the statement said. “However, this particular lesson was one of many the students in this class have had and will have that expose them to the various religions and how they shape cultures throughout the world.”
When asked about the timing and content of additional worksheets with vocabulary relating to the Jewish, Christian, and Hindu faiths, the school district failed to respond.
A student said the class has yet to have any worksheets about other religions.
The school later replied to the request regarding worksheets featuring other faiths with this statement:
The class recently finished reading Night by Elie Wiesel. As part of the study of this book, students were exposed to Judaism. I’m told that one of the next couple of lessons that will be taught in this class includes an examination of Psalm 23 as part of the lesson. Additionally, the workbook in question has another vocabulary lesson with words used in a passage about India’s three great beliefs (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism). Keep in mind that this workbook is just one of numerous resources used in the course. Students are exposed to various cultures, values, and beliefs through the reading of multiple types of literature, but teachers certainly aren’t advocating for any of them.
The school did not answer the questions regarding specific worksheet content or the dates the lessons were to be presented.
All weddings are special celebrations, but Tami Martin’s was also a personal victory.
After a car accident in 1999 crushed part of her spine and left her paralyzed, Martin struggled with physical therapy. She broke her leg and gained weight.
This didn’t stop the determined young lady, however. She decided that she would do what doctors told her was impossible: walk down the aisle on her wedding day.
After losing 192 pounds and learning how to walk again, Martin was able to walk down the 63-foot aisle on her wedding day with only the aid of a walker to meet her husband, Rob Dietrich. “I walked down the aisle publicly after being told I would never walk again,” she said.
Martin has now set an even more ambitious goal, which she is working to accomplish with her husband’s support and her faith in God. “Now my goal is to walk again on my own without the aid of anything,” she said.
Advances in medicine and technology seem to indicate her goal is within reach. In 2012, a Polish man named Darek Fidyka regained his ability to walk after undergoing a cell transplant surgery.
“When you can’t feel almost half your body, you are helpless,” said Fidyka, two years after his surgery. “But when it starts coming back, it’s as if you were born again.”
Watch the video here.
We witnessed two tragedies last weekend.
Brittany Maynard changed her previous decision to delay and ended her life on Saturday, November 1. Her decision came after a seizure late in October when she decided to take control before her condition worsened.
Her last days with family and friends ended in Oregon, after moving to the state to take advantage of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.
The same weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, another young woman coped with the reality of a short time remaining.
19-year-old Lauren Hill of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, loves basketball. She spent high school honing her skills and refining her passion for the sport. She even dreamed of playing in college.
But an inoperable brain tumor cut short all her dreams.
Hill wanted to play just one college game, but she also wanted to make a difference. Xavier University supplied the venue to inspire countless people through a benefit game to raise funds for cancer research.
“This game was amazing,” Hill said. “It was awesome in every way. It’s a dream come true. To play on a college court, to put my foot down on the floor and hear the roar of the crowd — I just love it so much. I love basketball.
“Everything that happened today was amazing. I’m truly happy, it’s a really good day.”
Sunday’s game gave Hill her one chance to play in a college court and saw her team carry the day 66-55. Her inspiring performance brought the sellout crowd of 10,250 to their feet with applause.
Even though Hill is expected to live less than a year, her story is not over yet. Brittany Maynard brought attention to the stories of young men and women facing imminent tragedy and inspired many to make the most of life.
“I want you to know that what’s being offered to you is not just a film, this is a life changer,” actor Shia LaBeouf recalled director David Ayer telling him. “We’re going to push it all the way to the edge. I want you to make this movie like you’ll never make another movie. You’re going to die on this set.”
The next day, LaBeouf began preparations for the film, “Fury.” Through National Guard training, the actor learned to work as a medic, a gunner, and shadowed an army chaplain.
He also embraced a radical spiritual conversion.
“I found God doing ‘Fury,’” LaBeouf told Interview Magazine. “I became a Christian man.”
In the WWII action melodrama — rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout — LaBeouf plays Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan. Serving in a tank squadron under the command of Brad Pitt’s character, Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Swan’s Christian faith often sets him apart from the other men.
“I could have just said the prayers that were on the page,” LaBeouf said. “But it was a real thing that really saved me . . . . It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control. And while there’s beauty to that, acting is all about control. So that was a wild thing to navigate.”
LaBeouf described the film’s writer and director, Ayer, as “a full subscriber to Christianity.”
Having served in the military, Ayer strived to depict the spiritual and emotional struggles soldiers face — both in WWII and the wars of today.
In an interview with Relevant, Ayer described the paradox of warfare as “the nobility of knowing what you’re going to see and expose yourself to and the moral hazards that you’re going to experience in undertaking your duty with honor and with pride.”
“There’s great nobility in that,” he said. “I don’t know if people understand those things, and I want people to get a little insight into that.”
In addition to tackling the moral struggles defining military service, “Fury” illuminates the challenges faced by Christian soldiers.
“It was important to me to show how someone can lean on Scripture and their relationship with Christ in an environment where they’re seeing this much inhumanity and destruction,” Ayer said.
Ayer utilized LaBeouf’s character to depict the persevering strength flowing from a foundational Christian faith.
“It’s fascinating that, because of his faith, [the character is] not unafraid of dying, but he’s able to accept it and doesn’t see it as the end of the road,” Ayer said. “It’s hard to bring Scripture to life in a realistic and impactful way in film.”
It remains to be seen whether LaBeouf’s new faith will transform the celebrity’s lifestyle — recently tarnished by his arrest for criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
“I’m trying to find a way to have some control over my actions, my behavior, my ideas, my thoughts, my path in life,” LaBeouf said. “But it’s very new for me.
“My work in my film and my work in my life have influenced who I’ve become. Life imitates art. And so a lot of my choices, these characters that I’ve been playing, have actually built a person, they’ve raised me. So I’ve just been more careful about my choices. I’ve taken control back. After calamity comes hope. And I do feel a deep hopefulness in my life and in my work.”
Ayer wanted “Fury” to reflect this hope. “I’m a big believer that, no matter who you are, there’s redemption for you, and there is forgiveness,” Ayer said.
“Fury” hit theaters on October 17. Described as a “war horror film” by the New Yorker, the film was praised for its accurately traumatic, though graphic, depiction of WWII.
For more information and showtimes, click here.