Friday, February 11, 2011

Haredi Ads: Internet Causes Cancer

Photo: Index Open
New ultra-Orthodox marketing campaign uses scare tactics to prevent community from Web surfing. "Internet causes disease, adversity," Rabbi Shmuel Wosner writes‬‬ 

 The Internet causes draught and terminal disease – so claims a new marketing campaign publicized in the ultra-Orthodox community and aims to curb use of the world wide web."

 Where there is Internet, there are no rains," read one of the posters that were pasted in central haredi spots. "Let's remove the idolatry from among us. Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients (suffer) because of the Internet."

Fearing the community's exposure to secular culture, different establishments within the haredi sector published the intimidating declarations, in addition to quotes from prominent rabbis... that describe Internet use as the root of impurity.  -- ‪‪Ari Galahar‬‬, ynet news

To read the complete article, click here.

US Jewish Leaders on First Visit to Greece

‪‪60 representatives of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations arrive in Athens at Greek prime minister's invitation for talks with state, Jewish community officials‬‬
Greek PM Papandreou.
"Daily contact with Israeli ministers"
Photo: Reuters

The part of an annual trip to Israel by the group, a central coordinating body that represents 52 American Jewish agencies across the political and religious spectrum.*

Athens only officially recognized Israel in 1991. Papandreou has now stepped up efforts to attract Jewish investment to Greece's debt-struck economy.-- AFP via ynet news

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Women's League's President Rita Wertlieb and Executive Director Sarrae Crane are part of this delegation.

To read the complete article, click here.

Assad Backs Synagogue Renovation

Syrian ambassador to US says plan to restore 11 synagogues across country 'has nothing to do with the conflict and is not a gesture to the Israelis'‬‬

Damascus synagogue Photo: Ron Ben-Yishai
Syrian President Bashar Assad has approved the renovation of 11 synagogues across the country.

Renovation experts plan to complete the restoration of the Al-Raqi Synagogue in the old Jewish quarter of Damascus by the end of the month as the renovation of 10 other synagogues in Syria's major cities continues....

Commentators estimated that the move was aimed at improving Assad's image in the American administration, which views him as Iran's ally and a disturbance in Lebanon. According to the commentators, the president [also] seeks to use the gesture in order to strengthen Syria's ties with the large Syrian-Jewish community centered in Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey. -- Smadar Peri‬, ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Jerusalem’s Oldest Hospital on Life Support

Bassinets are wheeled in one after another into the maternity ward at Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim Hospital – 42, to be exact, making it quite possibly the city’s largest assemblage on infants – and two-day-old Chaya Rivka is one of them.

Little does she know that the hospital she was born in is facing financial woes that threaten to close its doors. Nestled in the heart of downtown Jerusalem on prime real estate, its historic buildings dating back to 1925 spread out over two city blocks, Bikur Cholim may be shuttered in a matter of weeks.  -- Felice Friedson, Canada Jewish Tribune

To read the complete article, click here.

Matches Made in Bone Marrow Banks

Dr. Amal Bishara, left, and Dr. Shoshana Israel
in the Hadassah tissue-typing lab.
Both Jews and Arabs whose names are listed in their respective bone marrow registries are willing to donate to save the life of a perfect stranger.

Only about 1.2 million of the world's roughly 400 million ethnic Arabs live in Israel, yet the sole registry for Arab bone marrow donors is located in Jerusalem's Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center. Bone marrow transplanted from a genetically matching donor may be effective against blood cancers and a variety of genetic diseases.

Arab registry director Amal Bishara, an Arab woman with a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Hadassah, has traveled to 60 Arab communities since the registry was created in 2008 as an offshoot of the hospital's 22-year-old Jewish registry. Through lectures, publicity campaigns, newspaper articles and social media, Bishara has brought in 9,000 registrants resulting in six donations. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

In Casablanca, Only Jewish Museum in Arab World

A display at the Judaism Museum
in Casablanca
A white building tucked into a residential neighbourhood of this cosmopolitan city holds a treasure trove few here know about: the Arab region's only Jewish museum....

Founded in 1997, the Jewish museum assembles a hodgepodge of objects -- clothes, tools, even a jeweller's studio -- that attest to the rich history of the country's 2,000-year-old Jewish community.

"It's the only Jewish museum in the Arab world," said museum curator Zhor Rehihil, a Moroccan civil servant who is Muslim.
Some 5,000 Jews live in Morocco today -- including 2,000 in Casablanca, according to Rehihil's estimates....

The museum's website is

-- Philippe Sauvagnargues, AFP

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Plus Ca Change

The more things change...

I imagine that I am not alone in having thought often of November 1977 in the last several weeks.

I was young, a college student, but I still remember one particular afternoon of that month with exceptional clarity. Anwar Sadat was coming to Jerusalem. I had no TV in my Columbia University dorm, so my grandparents invited me over to watch with them….

We sat on the long, somewhat frayed sofa, facing the television. As the ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport commenced, I could almost hear him listening, his breathing deep and steady. A plane from Egypt crossed the border and landed, the stairs rolled up. Handshakes all around. A band began to play. And suddenly, with Menachem Begin and Sadat standing at attention, the sounds of “Hatikva.”

I don’t think I knew enough back then to fully appreciate who Sadat was and what he had done to get to that place and that time. But even in my just-post-high- school naiveté, I understood that this was a transformative moment.

There he was, the president of Israel’s archenemy standing at attention for the Zionists’ national anthem…. -- Rabbi Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post

To read the full article, click here.

Canada’s Jewish Community Unveils Monument to M.S. St. Louis

Candian momument to M.S. St. Louis
Photo by Courtesy Brian Melcher
[T]oday in Canada, a monument that memorializes and commemorates the Jewish refugees who tried to escape from Nazi Germany aboard the M.S. St. Louis was unveiled in Halifax, Nova Scotia....

[1939] was the year when 937 Jewish refugees boarded the St. Louis, a German passenger ship, in Hamburg, hoping to reach Havana. The passengers aboard were denied entry to Cuba and then also turned away from the United States, and, later, from Canada. The ship’s captain had no choice but to bring the refugees back to Europe, and 254 of those who had tried to flee died at the hands of the Nazis. -- Jonah Lowenfeld,

To read the complete article, click here.

Jewish, Veterans’ Groups Urge Memorial to Chaplains

Jewish and veterans' groups urged the U.S. Congress to pass a resolution that would add the names of Jewish chaplains to an Arlington Cemetery memorial. Groups including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Welfare Board, the Jewish War Veterans and the American Legion wrote Congress members Feb. 9 asking them to back a congressional resolution now circulating in both houses.

"Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery appropriately memorializes the names of 242 chaplains who perished while on active duty,” said Cheryl Fishbein, the chairwoman of the JFNA North America Domestic Affairs Cabinet. “But astonishingly, none of the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died while serving are honored on Chaplains Hill. All chaplains who have served our country should be honored."

The resolution notes the absence from the memorial of, among others, Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of four chaplains who relinquished their life jackets to soldiers when the USS Dorchester was sunk by German torpedoes in 1943 and went down together in prayer.

To read the complete article, click here.

US House Bill to Pull Some U.N. Funding Fails

A bill that would have pulled some United States funding from the United Nations failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would have pulled $179 million from the approximately $3 billion that the United States pays in U.N. dues....Ros-Lehtinen claimed the money was an overpayment to an organization that she has targeted by alleging it is wasteful, corrupt and anti-Israel. Prominent Jewish Democrats countered that $100 million of the funds were designated for security improvements demanded by the New York Police Department. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Brazil’s Highest Court Names First Jewish Justice

Brazil's highest court will have its first Jewish member.

Judge Luiz Fux, 57, was approved Wednesday by the South American country's Senate to be seated on the Supreme Federal Court, an 11-member panel that decides constitutional and other matters, as well as final appeals. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Teachable Moment

The limits of a cross-denominational partnership aimed at helping Jewish educators

A panel discussion entitled “Three Movements One Future: Challenges Facing American Jews”
with (left to right) Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, Dr. Arnold Eisen, chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary, and Dr. David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion,
moderated by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, on November 6, 200
Last week, each of the three universities associated with the major American Jewish denominations received an $11 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, a San Francisco-based Jewish philanthropy. The grants to the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College, the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Modern Orthodox movement’s Yeshiva University are earmarked for their respective Masters programs in Jewish education—a priority at all three institutions thanks to the current emphasis on youth outreach across much of the organized Jewish world.

There’s only one catch: Each institution must use $1 million of its grant money on joint teacher-training endeavors with the other two schools. -- Marissa Brostoff, Tablet Magazine

To read the complete article, click here.

JDC Staffer to Chair Obama’s Faith-Based Panel

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
President Obama named a top American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee official as chairman of his faith-based council, as well as a top Conservative rabbi to the council.

Susan Stern, the government affairs adviser to the JDC, will chair the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a Feb. 4 White House announcement said....

Another of the 12 appointees is Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly. -- JTA via Jewish Week

Click here to read the complete article.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jewish Agency Representative in Ethiopia Focuses on Aliya

"The immigrants need to take the responsibility on themselves when they arrive in Israel," says head of Jewish Agency delegation.

The challenge facing thousands of Ethiopians waiting for permission to make aliya is no longer about fighting for the right to immigrate but rather about better preparing them for a new life in modern Israel, the recently appointed Jewish Agency head of delegation in Ethiopia told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“It is essential for them to be prepared by learning Hebrew, studying Judaism and better understanding Israeli life and culture,” Asher Seyum, the first Ethiopian-born head of the delegation, told the Post in a telephone interview. -- Ruth Eglash, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel's Waves Audio Gets Grammy

Gilad Keren (right), and Meir Sha'ashua
will be in Los Angeles this February
to collect a Grammy for their software tools.
Few people have heard of Tel Aviv-based Waves Audio, but millions enjoy the music enhanced by its sound software tools.

Back in the '80s, when people tied bandanas around their legs and jumped around to Wham!, a young Israeli-American sound engineer named Gilad Keren was cutting his teeth in the music biz, recording Israeli artists like Shalom Hanoch. 

Today, Keren and his business partner Meir Sha'ashua are primed to collect a Grammy award, the most prestigious honor in the world's music industry, for software tools from their Waves Audio company. These tools, used in the music business niche called the audio plug-in market, are a favorite of America's biggest producers. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Milking Israel's Dairy Expertise in Vietnam

Every 50 days, another 1,500 heifers land in Vietnam
after a three-week ocean journey.
New Zealand cows are arriving by the boatload in Vietnam as part of an Israeli-led $500 million dairy farm project there.

In the largest project of its kind in the world and the biggest ever undertaken by an Israeli firm, 30,000 dairy cows are being flown to Vietnam to supply 300 million liters of milk annually as part of a $500 million dairy farm project there.

"This is a very large operation," says Daniel Hojman, the Uruguay-born manager of dairy farming professional compliance for SAE Afikim, based in Kibbutz Afikim near the Sea of Galilee. With employees from 10 Israeli companies relocating to Vietnam until the project is fully implemented, this is quite an understatement. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Jordan Tribes Threaten Revolution over Country's Palestinian Queen Rania

Hard-line nationalist East Bankers take issue with both Queen Rania's Palestinian background and her highly visible role in the country's male-dominated society. 

Jordanian tribal figures have issued a petition urging King Abdullah to end his Palestinian wife's role in politics, in a new challenge to the monarch grappling with fallout from uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. 

Evoking comparisons with the wives of Tunisia's former strongman Zine al Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, the signatories attacked Queen Rania's Palestinian origin and accused her of using state funds to promote her image abroad without concern for the hardship of ordinary Jordanians.  -- Reuters, via Haaretz

Jews Take 5 of Top 6 Spots in Annual List of Top U.S. Givers

America’s most generous citizens gave less in 2010 than they have over the past decade, but Jews remained among the top givers, according to an annual survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In 2010, the top philanthropists in the United States contributed approximately $3.3 billion to charity, according to the Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50, a list that tracks the largest gifts made by individuals each year. That number is some $800 million below 2009 and less than half of the total made up by the top 50 donors when the Chronicle first started keeping tabs a decade ago.

At least 19 of the 53 individuals and couples named on the list are Jewish, including five of the list’s top six (the list included three ties). George Soros ranked No. 1 with $332 million donated in 2010, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was second at $279.2 million. Irwin and Joan Jacobs, Eli and Edythe Broad, and Leonard Blavatnik took spots 4 through 6, respectively, with $117 million to $119 million in donations....

The Chronicle’s list, however, also offers more cause for concern for those in the Jewish nonprofit world who wring their hands about the lack of giving by Jews to Jewish causes. The Institute for Jewish and Communal Research has collected data showing that less than a quarter of all philanthropic dollars given by Jews go to overtly Jewish causes. -- Jacob Berkman, JTA

To read the complet article, click here.

The Gentleman From Virginia

Rep. Eric Cantor by Alex Nabaum

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, hails not from the urban melting pot but from a Southern, explicitly Christian America.

Last month, when the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and John Boehner was elected speaker, Cantor became majority leader, the second most powerful person in the chamber and the one tasked with driving the partisan agenda heading into the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. Cantor’s elevation, from minority whip, makes him the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history. As a Jewish politician, he is an anomaly: a Southern conservative and the sole Jewish Republican to be seated in Congress.  -- Allison Hoffman, The Tablet

To view the complete article, click here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Controversy at Rutgers as Activists Attempt To Disrupt Pro-Palestinian Event

Conflict: A speaking engagement at
Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.,
drew crowds of pro-Israel activists.
The headline on the conservative news website WorldNetDaily was as compelling as they come: “Rutgers bars Jews from anti-Zionist gathering.”

Days earlier, the conservative blog Atlas Shrugged had exhorted readers to protest the pro-Palestinian presentation at Rutgers University, whose organizers the blog described as “Holocaust Deniers and Islamic Supremacists.”

But conversations with students and others who attended the January 29 event paint a far murkier picture. -- Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

Opinion: The Gipper’s Gift: A Pro-Israel GOP

President Ronald Reagan with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
As America marks the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, we will be remembering one of our country’s greatest leaders with speeches, tributes and television specials. Friends of Israel will have a special reason to celebrate: Reagan made the Republican Party into the unambiguously pro-Israel party that it is today. -- Tevi Troy, The Forward

To read the complet article, click here.

The Other League

Super Bowl III program, 1969.
The short-lived American Football League, merged into the NFL after Super Bowl IV, invented the modern media spectacle that is pro football. And three Jews invented the show that was the AFL. 

...Sid Gillman, Sonny Werblin, and Al Davis—three Jewish men—were among the AFL’s boldest and most creative innovators, and through the AFL had among the greatest impacts on the shape, success, and direction of the game you will watch on Sunday night. -- Marc Tracy, The Tablet

Iran Bans State TV from Teaching Foreign Recipes

Cooking programs which provide recipes for foreign cuisine banned from 30 Iranian television stations by broadcasting authority.

A state-owned news website on Saturday said Iran's broadcasting authority has banned Iranian TV channels from showing cooking programs that present recipes for foreign cuisine.

Jamejamonline reported that the deputy head of Iran's state broadcasting company, Ali Darabi, announced the ban during a visit to one of the country's 30 state-run TV channels.

Some cooking programs on Iranian stations present recipes for foreign cuisine, such as Italian and French.

The ban is seen as part of a nationalistic campaign increasingly pushed by Iran's government in recent years.

Pizza, pasta and Western fast foods like hamburgers and hot-dogs are popular in Iran, and Teheran boasts many restaurants that serve Western or Asian food. -- Associated Press