Valide Sultans (Mothers of Sultans) of the Ottoman Empire:
  • Gül-Çiçek Khātûn - Wife of Murad I, mother of Bayezid I. GREEK.
  • Amina Gul-Bahar (also known as Kül-Bahār Khātûn or Gülbahar Hatun) - Wife of Mehmed II, adoptive mother of Bayezid II. ALBANIAN.
  • Cecilia Venier-Baffo, Afife Nur-Bânû - Wife of Selim II, mother of Murad III. KIKE. [*]
  • Sofia Baffo - Safiye - Wife of Murad III, mother of Mehmed III, VENETIAN-KIKE or CHRISTIAN ALBANIAN [**].
  • Helena, Handan - Wife of Mehmed III, mother of Ahmed I and Mustafa I. GREEK.
  • Marija or Mariza, Mâh-Firûze Hatice (Khadija) - Wife of Ahmed I, mother of Osman II. SERBIAN.
  • Anastasia, Mâh-Peyker Kösem - Another wife of Ahmed I, mother of Murad IV and Ibrahim I. GREEK.
  • Nadya, Turhan Hatice - Wife of Ibrahim I, mother of Mehmed IV. RUTHENIAN.
  • Katarina, Saliha Dilashub (or Saliha Dilâşub) - Another wife of Ibrahim I, mother of Suleiman II. SERBIAN.
  • Evmania Voria, Mâh-Pârā Ummatullah (Emetullah) Râbi'a Gül-Nûş - Wife of Mehmed IV, mother of Mustafa II and Ahmed III. GREEK.
  • Jelizabeta, Saliha Sabkati - Wife of Mustafa II, mother of Mahmud I. SERBIAN.
  • Velinka, Shehsuvar - Another wife of Mustafa II, mother of Osman III. SERBIAN
  • Agnes, Mîhr-i Şah - Wife of Mustafa III, mother of Selim III. GENOESE.
  • Sonija, Ayse Seniyeperver (also known as Aishā Sina Pervar or Ayşe Seniyeperver) - Wife of Abdul Hamid I, step-mother of Mustafa IV. BULGARIAN.
  • Nakş-î-Dil Haseki - Another wife of Abdul Hamid I, and adoptive mother of Mahmud II. (speculation that she was a cousin of Napoleon's wife Josephine)
  • Bezm-î-Âlem (or Bazim-î Alam) - The first wife of Mahmud II, mother of Abdülmecid I. KIKE.
  • Pertav-Nihâl (Pertevniyal) - Wife of Mahmud II, mother of Abdülaziz. ROMANIAN.
  • Shevkefza - Wife of Abdülmecid I, mother of Murad V. MINGRELIAN.
  • Rahîme Piristû (Perestû) - Wife of Abdülmecid I, adoptive mother of Abdul Hamid II. CIRCASSIAN.

* Kikepedia:

There exist two theories about the ethnicity of Nurbanu:


Yosef (Joseph) de Nasi, Duke of Naxos was the son of Samuel de Nasi, and the grandson of Yosef de Nasi, who was a tax farmer (collector) from Spain. Samuel de Nasi had a brother also named Yosef de Nasi who moved to Paros in the Greek islands. At the time the Greek islands were under Venetian rule until the Muslim invasion of 1537. The connections is revealed by the relationship of Rachel Olivia de Nasi who was born in Venice in 1525 to Yosef de Nasi, son of Samuel de Nasi, which places Rachel and Joseph de Nasi as second cousins, who was in a very close relationship with Nurbanu's husband. Rachel was therefore related to Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi also known by her Christianised name Beatrice de Luna. During the 1537 war on Páros, the Venetian born Rachel Olivia de Nasi was abducted and taken to the royal harem of Ottoman Prince Selim II in Istanbul and became his favourite wife. She was renamed "Afife Nurbanu Sultan". Being Jewish, she gave priorities to the Jewish people of Istanbul and Manisa. The fact remains that Rachel was Nasi, which is proved by relationships.


There has been some debate as to whose daughter Rachel Olivia de Nasi was. The Venetian claimed she was the daughter of Nicolò Venier whose brother Sebastiano Venier (1496-1578), who became Doge of Venice between 1577 and 1578. While the Turkish Muslims recorded that she was the natural daughter of Venetian Judean named Yosef de Nasi and Violanta Baffo, who ended up marrying Nicolò Venier. Other entries confirm that Voilanta Baffo was a mistress to Nicolò Venier, yet Yosef de Nasi is also recorded as the husband of Voilanta Baffo. More likely Nasi died and Nicolò Venier then married Baffo, which is proven by relationships. Joseph de Nasi, Duke of Naxos, fled Venice to the Ottoman Empire of Prince Selim II and Rachel de Nasi. This relationship unequivocally confirms that Rachel was the daughter of Yosef Nasi, brother of Benedetto de Nasi, which directly links the two Nasi families to Joseph de Nasi and Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi.

Nurbanu became the most favored consort of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, who was put on the throne in 1566, and the mother of Murad III. She had been the head of his princely harem, however, when he became sultan, she was not head of the imperial harem, as that was a position taken by Selim's elder sister, the acting Valide Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan. Even after Selim began to take other concubines, she persisted as a favorite for her beauty and intelligence. As mother of the heir-apparent, she acted as an advisor to her husband. Although it was far from normal at the time, Selim II would often ask Nurbanu for her advice on various subjects because of his respect for her good judgment. Jacopo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador reported:

"The Haseki is said to be extremely well loved and honored by His Majesty both for her great beauty and for being unusually intelligent."

She was a devoted wife and a very loyal mother as later events would prove. The Ottoman Empire was far from being very stable at the top and clashes over the imperial throne were common. It was also not uncommon for the loser to have his entire family massacred along with him to prevent any future challenge. Nurbanu Sultan was determined, however, that when the time came for her son to succeed his father, nothing would interfere with that.

Prince Murad had been sent to serve as Governor of Manisa on the Aegean coast and was there when Sultan Selim II died in 1574. This would have been the prefect opportunity for someone to seize power with the Sultan dead and his son away from the capital. Nurbanu realized this as much, if not more, than anyone and took quick action. Security and privacy in the harem were the most strict anywhere and no one knew when Selim II had actually died. Nurbanu told no one and hid the dead body of her husband in an icebox and sent to Manisa for her son to come to Constantinople immediately. All the while no one was the wiser that Sultan Selim II had actually departed this life. It was not made known publicly until twelve days later when Murad arrived and Nurbanu delivered up the body of her late husband. Her son became Sultan Murad III and Nurbanu became Valide Sultan (effectively “Queen Mother”), the highest position a woman could hold in the Ottoman Empire. However, once again, she was not completely in charge until the death of Mihrimah Sultan, four years after Selim's. When she did though, she became a formidable figure with far-reaching influence.
Foreign politics

After Nurbanu became the valide sultan to her son Murad III, she effectively managed the government together with the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, who acted as co-regent with the sultan during the Sultanate of Women. Her intermediary to the world outside the harem was her "kira", Esther Handali. "Kira" was so popular means of communication with the outside world when Nûr-Banû was the Valide Sultan that the two women were said to have been lovers. She corresponded with the queen Catherine de' Medici of France. Venetian accounts are the most prolific in describing Nurbanu Sultan as a woman who never forgot her Venetian origins.

During her nine years of regency (1574–1583), her politics were so pro-Venetian that she was hated by the Republic of Genoa. Some have even suggested that she was poisoned by a Genoese agent. In any case, she died at the palace in the Yenikapı Quarter, Istanbul on 7 December 1583. Moreover, it has been said that Nurbanu was related to Safiye Sultan, who was born Sofia Baffo, married Murad III, and consequently became the next valide sultan of the Ottoman Empire when her own son Mehmed III acceded to the throne. On the other hand, the Ottoman records claim that the Republic of Venice became highly dependent on the Ottoman Empire during the regency of Nurbanu because her policies were allegedly extremely pro-Jewish.

During her nine years of regency, Nurbanu ordered the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan to build the Atik Valide Mosque and its surrounding külliye at the district of Üsküdar in Istanbul, where previously a "Jewish bath" was located. The construction of the külliye was completed and put in commission at the end of 1583, just before the demise of Nurbanu on 7 December 1583. She was buried at the mausoleum of her husband Selim II located inside the Hagia Sophia (then a mosque).

** Kikepedia:

The identity of Safiye has often been confused with that of her Venetian mother-in-law Nurbanu, leading some to believe that Safiye was also of Venetian descent, descended from Venetian Governor of Corfu, captured by Muslim pirates and presented to the Sultan's harem in 1562. However, Safiye was Albanian, from the village of Rezi in the Ducagini mountains.

In 1563, at the age of 13, she was presented as a slave to the future Murad III by Mihrimah Sultan daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent.[8] Given the name Safiye ("the pure one"), she became a concubine of Murad (then the eldest son of Sultan Selim II). In 1566, she gave birth to Murad's son, the future Mehmed III.

Safiye had been Murad's only concubine prior to his accession, and he continued having a monogamous relationship with her for several years into his sultanate. His mother Nurbanu advised him to take other concubines for the good of the dynasty, which by 1581 had only one surviving heir, Murad and Safiye's son Mehmed. In 1583, Nurbanu accused Safiye of using witches and sorcerers to render Murad impotent and prevent him from taking new concubines. This resulted in the imprisonment and torture of Safiye's servants. Murad's sister Esmehan presented him with two beautiful concubines, which he accepted. Cured of his impotence, he went on to father twenty sons and twenty-seven daughters.

Venetian reports state that after an initial bitterness, Safiye kept her dignity and showed no jealousy of Murad's concubines. She even procured more for him, earning the gratitude of the Sultan, who continued to value her and consult her on political matters, especially after the death of Nurbanu. During Murad's latter years, Safiye returned to being his only companion. However, it is unlikely that Safiye ever became Murad's wife—though the Ottoman historian Mustafa Ali refers to her as such, he is contradicted by reports from the Venetian and English ambassadors.

Ottoman Sultan Mehmed III, to whom Sāfiya was a Valide sultan during 1595–1603.

When Murad died in 1595, Safiye arranged for her son Mehmed to succeed as sultan, and she became the valide sultan—one of the most powerful in Ottoman history. Until her son's death in 1603, Ottoman politics were determined by a party headed by herself and Gazanfer Ağa, chief of the white eunuchs and head of the enderun (the imperial inner palace).

Safiye eventually enjoyed an enormous stipend of 3,000 aspers a day during the latter part of her son's reign. When Mehmed III went on the Eger campaign in Hungary in 1596, he gave his mother great power over the empire, leaving her in charge of the treasury. During her interim rule she persuaded her son to revoke a political appointment of the judgeship of Istanbul and to reassign to the grand vizierate to Damat Ibrahim Pasha, her son-in-law.

During this period, the secretary of the English ambassador reported that while in the palace, Safiye "espied a number of boats upon the river [the Bosphorus] hurrying together. The Queen Mother sent to enquire of the matter [and] was told that the Vizier did justice upon certain chabies [kahpe], that is, whores. She, taking displeasure, sent word and advised [the Vizier] that her son had left him to govern the city and not to devour the women; [thus] commanding him to look well to the other business and not to meddle any more with the women till his master's return."

The greatest crisis Safiye endured as valide sultan stemmed from her reliance on her kira, Esperanza Malchi. A kira was a non-Muslim woman (typically Jewish) who acted as an intermediary between a secluded woman of the harem and the outside world, serving as a business agent and secretary. In 1600, the imperial cavalry rose in rebellion at the influence of Malchi and her son, who had amassed over 50 million aspers in wealth. Safiye was held responsible for this, along with the debased currency the troops were paid with, and nearly suffered the wrath of the soldiers, who brutally killed Malchi and her son. Mehmed III was forced to say "he would counsel his mother and correct his servants." To prevent the soldiers from suspecting her influence over the Sultan, Safiye persuaded Mehmed to have his decrees written out by the Grand Vizier, instead of personally signing them.

Safiye was instrumental in the execution of her grandson Mahmud in 1602, having intercepted a message sent to his mother by a religious seer, who predicted that Mehmed III would die in six months and be succeeded by his son. According to the English ambassador, Mahmud was distressed at "how his father was altogether led by the old Sultana his Grandmother & the state went to Ruin, she respecting nothing but her own desire to get money, & often lamented thereof to his mother," who was "not favored of the Queen mother." The sultan, suspecting a plot and jealous of his son's popularity, had him strangled.

Mehmed III was succeeded by his son Ahmed I in 1603. One of his first major decisions was to deprive his grandmother of power—she was banished to the Old Palace in January 1604.

All succeeding sultans were descended from Safiye.

Safiye, like Nurbanu, advocated a generally pro-Venetian policy and regularly interceded on behalf of the Venetian ambassadors, one of whom described her to the senate as "a woman of her word, trustworthy, and I call say that in her alone have I found truth in Constantinople; therefore it will always benefit Your Serenity to promote her gratitude."

Safiye also maintained good relations with England. She persuaded Mehmed III to let the English ambassador accompany him on campaign in Hungary. One unique aspect of her career is that she corresponded personally with Queen Elizabeth I of England, volunteering to petition the Sultan on Elizabeth's behalf. The two women also exchanged gifts. On one occasion, Safiye received a portrait of Elizabeth in exchange for "two garments of cloth of silver, one girdle of cloth of silver, [and] two handkerchiefs wrought with massy gold." In a letter from 1599, Safiye responds to Elizabeth's request for good relations between the empires:

"I have received your letter...God-willing, I will take action in accordance with what you have written. Be of good heart in this respect. I constantly admonish my son, the Padishah, to act according to the treaty. I do not neglect to speak to him in this manner. God-willing, may you not suffer grief in this respect. May you too always be firm in friendship. God-willing, may [our friendship] never die. You have sent me a carriage and it has been delivered. I accept it with pleasure. And I have sent you a robe, a sash, two large gold-embroidered bath towels, three handkerchiefs, and a ruby and pearl tiara. May you excuse [the unworthiness of the gifts]."

Safiye had the carriage covered and used it on excursions to town, which was considered scandalous. This exchange of letters and gifts between Safiye and Elizabeth presented an interesting gender dynamic to their political relationship. In juxtaposition to the traditional means of exchanging women in order to secure diplomatic, economic, or military alliances, Elizabeth and Safiye's exchange put them in the position of power rather than the objects of exchange.

An unusual occurrence in Safiye's relationship with England was her attraction to Paul Pindar, secretary to English ambassador and deliverer of Elizabeth's coach. According to Thomas Dallam (who presented Elizabeth's gift of an organ to Mehmed III), "the sultana did take great liking to Mr. Pinder, and afterwards she sent for him to have his private company, but their meeting was crossed."

The Yeni Mosque in Eminönü, Istanbul, (Her construction was begun by Sāfiya Valida Sultânā and completed during the regency of Turhan Hatice, the mother of Mehmed IV).

The türbe of Safiye is located next to that of Murad III in the courtyard of Hagia Sophia.

Safiye is also famous for starting the construction of Yeni Mosque, the "new mosque" in Eminönü, Istanbul, in 1597. Part of Istanbul's Jewish quarter was razed to make way for the structure, whose massive building costs made Safiye unpopular with the soldiery, who wanted her exiled. At one point Mehmed III temporarily sent her to the Old Palace.[25] Though she returned, she did not live to see the mosque completed. After Mehmed died, Safiye lost power and was permanently exiled to the Old Palace. The mosque's construction was halted for decades. It was finally completed in 1665 by another valide sultan, Turhan Hatice, mother of Mehmed IV. The Al-Malika Safiye Mosque in Cairo is named in Safiye's honor.



Do Jews control Hollywood — or at least the Emmys?

By Lisa Keys, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 16, 2015

[Photo: Jon Stewart [= Jon Liebowitz]]

Whoever says the Jews control Hollywood may be onto something.

Nominees for the 2015 Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, and the list reads like a “Who’s Who” of A-list Jews in the entertainment business. Among the Jewish machers who scored nominations are Jon Stewart (who’s now preparing for his final bow on “The Daily Show”), for Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Liev Schreiber, for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.”

Below are some of our top picks for Jewish actors, writers and series we hope will take home the trophy this year:

1. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

These “Game of Thrones” showrunners, both Jewish, have much to kvell about: The fantastical HBO series leads the Emmy pack with a whopping 24 nominations, including for Outstanding Drama. Benioff and Weiss themselves received a nod for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

2. “Transparent”

Amazon’s hit streaming series, which features Jeffrey Tambor (nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy) as an aging, emerging transgendered woman, is possibly the most Jewish show we’ve seen in years, with scenes from a typical American Jewish family (and a female rabbi, to boot). “It is so Jewy,” creator and executive producer Jill Soloway told the Forward last year.

3. Amy Schumer

The hilarious Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer” is nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. Schumer, who was raised Jewish, is also nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy. With “Trainwreck,” her new movie, garnering great reviews, is there anything this supremely funny gal can’t do? Apparently not!

4. “Portlandia”

The brainchild of “Saturday Night Live” alum Fred Armisen and Jewish rock goddess Carrie Brownstein joins “Inside Amy Schumer” in the race for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

5. “Mad Men”

Another contender for the most Jewish show on TV in recent years, Matthew Weiner’s incredible series — which nails the vibe of the 1960s down to the most minute detail — came to a brilliant close this year. Its nominations include Outstanding Drama, as well as two nominations for Weiner for Outstanding Writing for a Drama (one of which he co-wrote with Semi Chellas).

6. Adrien Brody

Brody shot to international fame for his Academy Award-winning performance as Wladyslaw Szpilman in “The Pianist” (and for subsequently planting a wet one on presenter Halle Berry). Now he’s up for Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his portrayal of one of the most famous Jews of all time: Harry Houdini (in the History Channel’s miniseries “Houdini”).

7. Mayim Bialik

The actress, neuroscientist and Kveller contributor received her fourth nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. Mazel tov, Mayim — and to all the nominees!

The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on Sept. 20 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and broadcast live on Fox. Andy Samberg — another Jew, wouldntchaknow — will host.


Now Odysseus Speaks Judeo-Spanish!

By Leah Falk, The Jewniverse, July 15, 2015

Tags: ancient greeks, auschwitz, holocaust survivors, israeli culture, ladino, translation

What language did Odysseus speak when he arrived home after his long journey? In Moshe Ha’elyon’s world–and new book–it’s Ladino. The 87-year old survivor of Auschwitz spent four years bringing Homer’s epic into the language of his youth, Ladino — and in the process, wedging a new foothold for the language in world literature.

Ha’elyon grew up learning classical Greek in school in Thessaloniki. When he and his family were deported to Auschwitz in 1942, what some thought was a dead language became an unlikely ticket to life: Ha’elyon traded Greek lessons for extra food, helping him survive.

More than half a century later, Ha’elyon has breathed literary life into another language sometimes thought to be on its way out. Because most of Ladino’s literature consists of sacred text translations and folklore, in translating The Odyssey Ha’elyon found himself pouring the language into a new literary cast: “I had to find words from realms that don’t have words” in mostly-aural Ladino, he said. Next port of call for Ha’elyon: The Iliad.

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A Rabbi Mourns African American Christians

By Isaiah Rothstein | My Jewish Learning, July 16, 2015

Tagged: African-American, racism, social justice, Tikkun Olam, Tisha B'Av, Torah

“’…But, mother, I won’t be alone. Other children will go with me,

And march the streets of Birmingham to make our country free.’ ‘No, baby, no, you may not go, for I fear those guns will fire. But you may go to church instead, and sing in the children’s choir…’

The mother smiled to know her child, was in the sacred place,

But that smile was the last smile, to come upon her face… She clawed through bits of glass and brick, then lifted out a shoe. ‘O, here’s the shoe my baby wore, But, baby, where are you?’”

—by Dudley Randall, “Ballad of Birmingham”


Yes…it was arson…

The House of Prayer: A symbol of faith longing for itself in the deepest and darkest of history’s many trials, and the home for so many while living homelessly in exile. The sanctuary of dreamers longing for freedom, and the house of refuge for enslaved millions who felt less than human all but in this place, the temples of our peoples, destroyed. These sanctuaries have housed our pain and struggle and have guarded our faith in faith for millennia. And yet, with tremendous sadness, these very same buildings have constantly been under barrage, and the target of our enemies so as to weaken our spirits and ultimately destroy our eternal identity.

As its worshipers, (of any place) stood flabbergasted, as the embers and smoke rose from the heaping ashes of holiness, the mourners held their banners and their sighs were heard heavy… “Why?” they asked, but there was no one to heed their call.

“She (Jerusalem) weeps, yea, she weeps in the night, and her tears are on her cheek; she has no comforter among all her lovers; all her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.(Lamentations 1:2).”

During the American Slave Trade, there was no shadow to comfort Africans after their daily confrontations with their oppressors, and so, slaves sought refuge in prayer and song. They found catharsis in joining together as a community to remedy, or at best pacify, the events the day presented. They did this in attempt to carry forward the downtrodden for just one more day, for just one more day, centuries that is.

Eventually, these gathering places were attacked, and in some cases worshipers were murdered with the holy tongue on their lips. Soon, the slave owners saw the House of Prayer as a severe threat against their master’s authority, and thus, as an attempt to destroy any place for spiritual longing, the center for all religious expression had to be reduced to dreadful surroundings. This strategy was not a new one, as it appears in this week’s Torah portion:

After many failed attempts to dilapidate and dilute the Jew’s hope for Jerusalem i.e. crossing the Jordan, the Moabites continued their aim to lower the nation by sending women to seduce and confuse the Jewish men. The Torah (Numbers 25:6) tells us that an Israelite man (Zimri) and a Midianite (syn. Moabite) woman (Kozbi) engaged in sexual intercourse at the foot of the Tent of Meeting, in hope that the center, where the Ark was stationed, would become no longer spiritually accessible. It was then that Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson, acted with zeal and ended the aim of the Dylan Roof of their generation (King Baalak), by killing them both in front of the nation.

“And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour, we must not despair. We must not become bitter, nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence… Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.”—-Martin Luther King Jr., Eulogy, Birmingham Church bombing of 1963.

We are nearing the end the Three Weeks of Mourning for our fallen Temple of Jerusalem, as we mourn the death of innocent lives in South Carolina and beyond, especially during these darkened times, we too, must stand with zeal, like Pinchas, and we too must remind the mourners among us, that justice will prevail, that our bloodied prayers are not for naught, and that bigots and barbarians will forever be remembered as the failed and fallen.


Rabbi quits N.J. pulpit, finds God and community in Montana

By Uriel Heilman, July 9, 2015

WHITEFISH, Mont. (JTA) – Until last year, Rabbi Francine Green Roston was among the Conservative movement’s rising stars.

The first woman in the movement to head a congregation with more than 500 members, Roston, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, New Jersey, also published Op-Eds in local newspapers, gave talks at the Jewish Theological Seminary and more than once had a sermon cited in The New York Times.

But after nine years in the pulpit, Roston was burnt out. She wanted a break from synagogue politics, working weekends and putting communal needs ahead of her family.

So about a year ago, Roston and her husband moved with their two children to this Montana city of 6,000 near Glacier National Park, about an hour from the Canadian border. Now, instead of spending her mornings at synagogue services, Roston might be kayaking, hiking or walking her dog on a mountain trail. Most precious of all, Roston says, she gets to sit down and have a home-cooked dinner with her kids, a 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, every night.

“I was tired and needed a break,” Roston told JTA. “I could have looked to go to the next step up. Instead, we’re opting out. I’d sat at many bedsides and been at many funerals, and my husband and I thought: Life’s too short. Let’s create the life we know we want.”

Despite its name, there’s nothing really Jewish about Whitefish, a place best known for the 6,817-foot ski mountain that carries its name.

But as Roston starts her second year here, she’s finding herself drawn back into Jewish leadership. Over the last year, she has organized Jewish holiday celebrations and made Shabbat services and potluck dinners a regular monthly event. She’s also been instrumental in facilitating a new, unified Jewish community for the roughly 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, where there long has been a Reform community but only sporadic meet-ups and no synagogue building. On June 30, Kalispell and Whitefish voted to create a new combined community called Glacier Jewish Community-B’nai Shalom.

Though Roston is positioning herself as the rabbinic leader of this unaffiliated congregation without walls or membership dues, she is not looking to re-create a rabbinic pulpit so much as to become a facilitator of Jewish life in a place that hasn’t seen much of it before.

“I’m going to be the non-Chabad Chabad, the non-Orthodox Chabad,” Roston said. “I want to do things that increase people’s own positive Jewish identity, but also expose the larger community to the Jewish people in a positive way. I’ll be the community’s rabbi, but I’ll also open my own shingle so the things the community wouldn’t necessarily want to do or pay for, more outreach-oriented things, I would do on my own.”

In Roston’s vision, that means organizing not just services and holiday celebrations but also challah-baking workshops at the local bakery, Jewish storytelling at a local coffee shop, a biweekly Torah study class at a Kalispell diner, an Israeli film showcase and even a Jewish music festival.

“My rabbinate has always been about making Judaism accessible, about showing people that Judaism isn’t too difficult for anyone,” Roston said. “Here I get to figure out how I can translate the ritual and make it modern and make it meaningful for people who want Judaism in their life.”

Living as a committed Jew in Whitefish is not without its challenges. For one thing, there’s no kosher meat or chicken here. Roston has visitors bring her supplies whenever possible or she splurges on shipments from Grow and Behold, the Brooklyn-based supplier of pasture-raised kosher meat. She is already trying to figure out how to provide proper bagels for her son’s bar mitzvah next year.

Glacier National Park, which first drew the Rostons to nearby Whitefish, has about 25 glaciers remaining but they may melt entirely within the next decade or two, scientists say. (Uriel Heilman)

For another, there are almost no Jews. Roston’s kids went from a Solomon Schechter day school in New Jersey to Montana public schools, where her son waited weeks before he felt comfortable enough to disclose his religion to his classmates.

Though Whitefish is home to the white supremacist Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute (“dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States and around the world”), Roston says her family hasn’t experienced any anti-Semitism in Montana — just curiosity.

Roston’s husband, Marc, an investment and private equity consultant, has kept his career, and like many professionals who move here spends a lot of time on airplanes and on the phone. When he has an hour or two of downtime between work calls, he’ll often steal away for a quick hike or bike ride or, in winter, skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

“I get to ski like other people go to the gym,” he said.

There are other differences to living in Montana. Nobody honks – ever. Roston does recall that Marc was backing up once and a pickup truck gave him a gentle warning beep. The driver then got out of his vehicle to apologize.

Northwest Montana is almost entirely white and Christian, but Roston says her kids experience more political and socioeconomic diversity than they did back East. When her son brought matzah to school on Passover, a few of his friends said they had gotten some boxes of it from the local food bank.

The main things that drew the Rostons to Whitefish were the slow pace of life, friendliness and access to nature. On clear days, the family can see a couple of the 25 glaciers left in the national park from the deck of the new house they bought here a year ago. The park is renowned for its emerald lakes, copious bear sightings and Logan Pass, which at 6,646 feet marks the continental divide and is a favorite spot for sledding as late as the Fourth of July.

Roston says it’s all been a welcome break from the pulpit.

“Rabbis, ministers, priests – there’s a point where you’re giving out and you have to make sure you have enough spiritual energy coming in,” Roston said. “I was really drained. In nature I refuel. I feel more connected with God’s power and presence in the world than I did.”

As for her children, Roston says Whitefish has been good for their Jewish identity.

“What I’ve tried to say to myself and my kids is this is more what the larger world is like,” Roston said. “We talk a lot about what they believe in and if they stand out and how to speak up for Israel and negotiate their identity in the larger, non-Jewish world. I’m happy that’s happening when my husband and I are with them rather than the first time they leave the bubble and go to college.”

Though she sometimes misses the rich Jewish life available on the East Coast, Roston says the move was worth it overall.

“Your Jewish life is what you make it,” she said.



Devin Burghart, Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, 06.27.2014

Meet the young American at the center of a growing new international network of white nationalists.

University-educated, well-to-do, and full of youthful energy at 36 years-old, Richard B. Spencer has risen through the American white nationalist ranks in a remarkably short period. Thanks to an inheritance of the movement’s past, he has the infrastructure to try and re-shape the movement’s image and direction.

His plan involves importing New Right traditions of Identitarian politics to the American scene and bringing American white nationalism to Europe, to construct a “Cosmopolitan, pan-European nationalism.” And after several visits to Europe and Asia to build alliances, he’s organizing his own conference in Europe this autumn.

From Conservatism to White Nationalism

Richard Bertrand Spencer was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Dallas, Texas where he attended an affluent private high school. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and a master’s degree the University of Chicago, he was a doctoral student at Duke University before “dropping out to pursue a life of thought-crime,” according to Spencer.

Like several of his older white nationalist movement mentors, Spencer began his political activity in mainstream conservative circles. He worked as an assistant editor at Pat Buchanan’s The American Conservative magazine, then became executive editor of Taki's Magazine (the publication of Buchanan’s co-founder in The American Conservative). But Spencer kept marching to the white side.

[Photo: Richard Spencer (right), with Pat Buchanan (left) and [MEGASHITKIKE] Paul Gottfried (center).]

In November 2008 he spoke about Nietzsche at an H.L. Mencken Club event. By early 2009, Spencer could no longer hold back his fixation on “contemporary white consciousness.” In a May 29, 2009 TakiMag piece entitled “White Like Me” Spencer opined, “In our increasingly globalized world (it’s not just a cliché), race hasn’t been obscured or overcome, as many had hoped, but heightened and magnified—and contemporary white consciousness, if we’re to use this term, is so complicated and bizarre (more on that below) that no serious cultural publication should refrain from discussing it.”

The Rise (and Fall) of Alternative Right

By year’s end, Spencer left the semi-respectability of the paleo-conservatives for good, when he announced that he was leaving TakiMag to start, “an online magazine of radical traditionalism.” Under the financial umbrella of British expatriate Peter Brimelow’s white nationalist VDARE foundation, Alternative Right took to repackaging old white nationalist ideas for a new generation.

[Richard Spencer, with Taki Theodoracopoulos (behind) and Peter Brimelow (right), in Manhattan 2009.]

Launched March 1, 2010 with a professional-looking design and a long list of columnists, Alternative Right quickly became a big success in white nationalist circles. As one activist wrote, “I have been glued to the same website for hours today: Richard Spencer’s new webzine Alternative Right … I hope that Alternative Right will attract the brightest young conservatives and libertarians and expose them to far broader intellectual horizons, including race realism, White Nationalism, the European New Right, the Conservative Revolution, Traditionalism, neo-paganism, agrarianism, Third Positionism, anti-feminism, and right-wing anti-capitalists, ecologists, bioregionalists, and small-is-beautiful types.”

The popularity of the website made Spencer a rising star in the movement. When Louis Andrews, the chairman of both the white nationalist think-tank, National Policy Institute, and a small publishing house, Washington Summit Publishers, took ill in 2011, Spencer was tapped to take over both operations. Spencer moved both projects to Whitefish, Montana where he lives in a $3 million home.

For about a year, Spencer was trying to do it all. With the acquisitions of NPI and WSP, he suddenly found himself at the middle of a plethora of projects. Then it all became too much. “Over the past, six months, I’ve reached a point of professional crisis. NPI, Radix, AltRight, Washing Summit Publishers, Vanguard, additional writings… Unfinished projects pile up. Emails go unanswered. More funds need to be raised. My desire to do all of these projects is preventing me from completing any of them. Something’s got to give. I’ve decided it must be AltRight. And today, I am resigning from being the editor and main blogger,” he wrote.

Trying to assuage readers and donors that the sudden announcement wouldn’t change a thing, Spencer wrote, “Don’t worry— won’t go anywhere. I’ll keep it “live” so long as the Internet still flickers. The articles, even the shorter blogs, won’t curdle anytime soon, and I’m confident that new readers will continue to discover AltRight as the years go by.”

The promise lasted roughly a year and a half. According to the current editors of the website, “on Christmas Day [2013], we discovered that Richard Spencer, the originator and former editor-in-chief of Alternative Right, had fixed the web address of so that it automatically reroutes to his new magazine, Radix Journal. This unannounced move caught us by surprise.”

Responding to the uproar when AltRight mysteriously vanished, the editors of Radix Journal wrote on their Facebook page that “As recently as this autumn, Spencer informed them, once again, that it is time to shut down the Alternative Right. Therefore, it was not a surprise move by any means, as has been insinuated.” So, Spencer’s instance to readers that the project would live on appears disingenuous, at best.

AltRight has re-emerged, this time with a UK website address. One of the remaining Co-editors, Colin Buchan Liddell, once wrote an article entitled “Is Black Genocide Right?”

Even after Spencer abandoned AltRight, the project still garnered him significant attention. In May 2013, Spencer gained notoriety for the site when it was uncovered that a staffer for the conservative Heritage Foundation had written two anti-immigrant articles for the site.

Resurrecting the National Policy Institute

When Spencer bailed on the AltRight project in 2012, he put forward a vision centered on the projects he’d inherited. “My central goal moving forward is to develop The National Policy Institute and Washington Summit Publishers into a successful thank-tank and book-making firm, both of which can harness the energies of our movement, speak forthrightly and publicly, and begin articulating an alternative social and political vision for traditional Americans, and Europeans around the world,” he wrote.

When Spencer took over Washington Summit Publishers, the catalogue consisted primarily of dry tomes by scientific racists like Richard Lynn, J. Philippe Rushton, and Michael Hart, alongside white nationalists like Jared Taylor, Sam Francis, and Troy Southgate.

Spencer brought in new works like Guillaume Faye’s Why We Fight: Manifesto of Resistance and Sea Changes by Derek Turner to sell alongside classic racist publications, like Francis Parker Yockey’s Imperium, to Fascism Viewed From The Right by Julias Evola, to Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race (complete with a new foreword written by Spencer).

Several of the new titles in the WSP catalogue come from Wermod and Wermod, a small publishing group based in Abergele. Founded by Alex Kurtagic, Wermod and Wermod’s catalogue consists of reprints of old works of racist authors like Madison Grant and Francis Parker Yockey, and new works by authors familiar to readers of Searchlight, including Jonathan Bowden and Troy Southgate.

Born in Spain, raised in South America and the United States, but settled in Britain, Kurtagic had previously been engaged in the European white power music scene through his music label, Supernal Music. As Searchlight noted in “A Darker Shade of Black” back in 2008, Supernal carried a slew of racist and anti-Semitic National Socialist Black Metal and other white power music CDs.

Spencer and Kurtagic worked closely together on Alternative Right, and the two have shared the platform on multiple occasions, including the Traditional Britain Group conference.

“It is perfectly feasible for a white state to be established on the North American continent. Action is the easy part.”

- Richard Spencer

The two also worked on a new project together, Radix, “a periodical on culture, history, politics, spirituality and society.”

As Spencer described in the introductory statement to the new venture, “the name ‘Radix’ has already been established as an imprint on Washington Summit Publishers. While WSP proper focuses on scientific study of man, Radix publishes fiction, criticism, and writings on the intersection of genetics, culture, and society.” Edited by Spencer, the first issue of Radix Journal, “The Great Erasure: The Reconstruction of White Identity,” was dedicated to Jonathan Bowden, the former BNP Cultural Office and chairman of the New Right who died in March 2012.

Washington Summit Publishers and Radix gave Spencer additional revenue streams, but credibility was to be had from the think-tank, the National Policy Institute.

Founded in 2005 by William Regnery II, a member of a wealthy conservative publishing family, and influential white nationalist figure Sam Francis, the National Policy Institute goal was "to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights.” NPI published several so-called studies, including: “The State of White America – 2007,”“The Costs and Benefits of Mass Deportation,” “Conservatives and Race,” “The Wealth and IQ of Nations,” and “Uhuru for South Africa.” Before moving to Montana, it was located in Augusta, Georgia.

Spencer’s first big move as executive director of the National Policy Institute was to hold a splashy conference in Washington D.C entitled “Towards a New Nationalism: Immigration and the Future of Western Nations” in September 2011. He kicked off the conference with a direct invocation of Enoch Powell's infamous Rivers of Blood speech. Other speakers at the event included white nationalist stalwarts like Council of Conservative Citizens leader Sam Dickson and Jared Taylor of American Renaissance. At the conference, the National Policy Institute also published a pamphlet by Spencer entitled “The Majority Strategy – the Essential Argument – Why the GOP Must Win White America.”

After the re-election of president Obama, however, many white nationalists gave up their hopes that Republicans would adopt their “White America” strategy. Some, like Spencer, gave up on the idea that they could win back America altogether and retreated towards enclave-style white nationalism.

“Today, in the public imagination, ‘ethnic-cleansing’ has been associated with civil war and mass murder (understandably so). But this need not be the case."

- Richard Spencer

At the spring 2013 conference of the other white nationalist think-tank, American Renaissance, Spencer took to the podium to advocate for “the creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent.” He told the small crowd on hand in Tennessee that “We need an ethno-state so that our people can ‘come home again,’ can live amongst family—to put it banally, so that they can feel safe and secure.” To create a white homeland, Spencer argued for peaceful ethnic cleansing to solve the problem. “Today, in the public imagination, ‘ethnic-cleansing’ has been associated with civil war and mass murder (understandably so). But this need not be the case. 1919 is a real example of successful ethnic redistribution—done by fiat, we should remember, but done peacefully.” He elaborated on his dream, “It is perfectly feasible for a white state to be established on the North American continent. Action is the easy part.”

Later that year, in October NPI held its leadership conference “After the Fall: The Future of Identity” in Washington DC. The event featured Alain De Benoist and Roman Bernard from France, Piero San Giorgio from Switzerland, Alex Kurtagic from Britain, and John Morgan from Hungary, alongside Americans Sam Dickson, Jack Donovan, Tom Sunic, Andy Nowicki, and Matt Parrott.

Just a week before the NPI conference, Spencer flew to London to speak alongside Markus Willinger of Generation Identity and others at the Traditional Britain Conference. It was, in fact, the second time Spencer spoke to the TBG conference, having done so the year before. In 2010, Spencer traveled to Bodrum, Turkey to speak at a gathering of the Property and Freedom Society.

While international activism took up an increasing amount of Spencer’s time, he hasn’t lost interest in the American conservative politics that initially drew him into the movement.

To gain attention by crashing the conservative party, Spencer organized the National Policy Institute “Unconference” inside the facility of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in March 2014. Spencer noted that “for years, supporters have urged NPI to make an appearance at CPAC. This year, we’re doing it.” The rationale, “people don't really attend CPAC for what happens on stage. They go to meet people. And CPAC is a captive audience of individuals who self-identify as conservative. Our ideas resonate with many of them; and most all of them, I would guess, have a gut feeling that something is terribly wrong with America.” The group held a gathering at the Old Hickory Steakhouse featuring special guest, Jared Taylor of American Renaissance. Spencer attended the conference workshops and did a little recruiting in the halls.

Back to Europe

Writing in the first edition of the Radix Journal, Spencer put forth his vision for moving forward, “one of our most important tasks—and one for which Traditionalism could be a great aid—is to form a cosmopolitan, that is, pan-European nationalism, an identity that stretches beyond ethnicity, tribe, religious sectarianism, and the disputes that have, from time to time, turned the continent into a slaughter bench.”

Putting that vision into practice, on April 28, Spencer announced that he has scheduled the 2014 National Policy Institute conference, “Identitarian Congress” to be held in Budapest, Hungary on October 3-4.

Along with NPI, co-sponsors for the event include Arktos Media and

Arktos Media is a “Euro-centric publishing house” whose motto is “making anti-globalism global.” Created in 2010 by John Morgan, an American, the publishing house was based in India [where its staff made their real living as immigration (to Europe) consultants], but it now operates out of Hungary.

Russian Alexander Dugin is scheduled to speak at NPI's 2014 conference

Arktos was a principal publisher of English translations of many of writings the Identitarian European New Right figures, including Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, and Pierre Krebs. It also issued the first English translations of Russia’s Alexander Dugin. Morgan recently returned to the United States to speak at the twentieth conference of the white nationalist think-tank, American Renaissance where he discussed his visit to the Ukraine to speak with Euromaidan protestors.

Motpol (which translates to “Antithesis”) is a Gothenburg, Sweden-based portal for Scandinavian Identitarian activists run by Daniel Friberg. Other interesting characters listed among Motpol’s “Our People,” American paleo-conservative [KIKE] Paul Gottfried (a “mentor” to Spencer), Arktos Media’s John Morgan, and Generation Identity author Mark Willinger.

Spencer’s emergence and ambitious organizing agenda may signal a new turn for white nationalists and paleo-conservatives searching for a new strategy. It emerges without the old-style whiteist like David Duke and Don Black, and may bring a certain brand of success for those long-starved for it. But an ambitious organizing strategy in Europe is no substitute for winning the hearts and minds of American bigots. And international cooperation by opposing forces, such as IREHR and Searchlight, may give them the kind of exposure they don’t want.




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