Friday, March 4, 2011

Will Sunday Become Part of the Israeli Weekend?

Vice Premier Shalom decides to launch a campaign on issue; says move "would cause a revolution" as people will receive more leisure, rest time.  -- Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post

To read the entire article, click here.

Pope Exonerates Jews for Jesus' Death

Pope Benedict. "Temple aristocracy" to blame
Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, tackling one of the most controversial issues in Christianity in a new book.

In Jesus of Nazareth-Part II excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

While the Catholic Church has for five decades taught that Jews weren't collectively responsible, Jewish scholars said Wednesday the argument laid out by the German-born pontiff, who has had his share of mishaps with Jews, was a landmark statement from a pope that would help fight anti-Semitism today.-- Associated Press via YNet News

To view complete article, click here.

How to Be Awesome at 100

Ruth Gruber in Alaska in 1941.
Photo: Ruth Gruber
A group of fierce women gathered at the Paley Center for Media last week to celebrate pioneering journalist Ruth Gruber, who turns 100-years-old in September....

Gruber, who was born in Brooklyn and attended NYU, earned a fellowship to study in Cologne, Germany and at age 20 became the world’s youngest Ph.D (in German Philosophy, English Literature and Art History). Gruber wrote her dissertation on Virginia Woolf, with whom she corresponded extensively. Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” inspired Gruber to challenge societal expectations of women’s roles, and to become a writer.

When she returned to the U.S., Gruber embarked on an astounding journey as a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune, during which she not only witnessed history but impacted it. Just a handful of years after the invention of flight, Gruber became the first journalist—male or female—to fly into the Soviet Arctic. She gained the trust of Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, who dispatched her to Alaska during World War II to report on relocation opportunities for returning soldiers.

While a student in Germany, Gruber had witnessed Hitler’s rallies and she became passionate about helping refugees from concentration camps relocate—undertaking a dangerous mission for Ickes, to bring a thousand immigrants from Nazi territory to New York. Gruber’s reports and photographs from the Exodus 1947 ship, which carried Holocaust survivors attempting to enter British-controlled Palestine, would become stuff of legend.... Lorraine Cwelich, Elle

To read the complete article, click here.

University of Ottawa Exchange with University of Haifa under Attack

For the second time in as many weeks one of Ottawa’s universities is being targetted by a boycott Israel motion. The goal of last week’s assault is to freeze a student exchange between the Joint Masters in Laws (LL.M) program at the University of Ottawa and the University of Haifa.

The program was approved by the executive committee of the Senate on May 12, 2008 and is currently accepting applications.

The anti-Israel motion was brought before the University of Ottawa Senate by one of its student representatives.

The motion offers no evidence of discrimination against Arab students by any of the parties involved, sites no complaints from Arab students nor does it indicate that any inquiries have been made.

 It does, however, imply discrimination exists, is systemic and rampant and can only be remedied with affirmative action.  -- Ze’ev Kalin, Canadian Jewish Tribune

To read the complete article, click here.

France: Anti-Semitic Attacks Dropped 50 Percent in 2010

The number of anti-Semitic attacks in France dropped by half in 2010, French Ambassador Christophe Bigot announced on Wednesday.

According to official data presented by Bigot, 466 anti- Semitic incidents were recorded in France in 2010, in comparison to 832 in 2009.

“[The cause for the decrease is] the police, the work of justice, the work of high-school education and the vigilance of the media,” Bigot said.

-- Gil Shefler

Op-Ed: Girls and Boys Together

Gail Collins
Earl Wilson/The New York Times
In honor of Women’s History Month, President Obama ordered up the first report on the status of American women since the one Eleanor Roosevelt prepared for John F. Kennedy. It’s chock full of interesting bits of information....

We’re a long way from the Eleanor Roosevelt Commission on the Status of Women, which was formed when there were no women on the White House staff doing anything more impressive than typing or cake decoration. “Men have to be reminded that women exist,” Mrs. Roosevelt tartly told reporters when the all-male list of top Kennedy administration appointees was released. -- Gail Collins, NY Times

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Editorial cartoon by Jimmy Margulies, New Jersey -- The Record

Rosh Hodesh Girls’ Group Sticks Together, Even in New Schools

Batshir Torchio (top left, in green sweater) leads a group of
Brandeis Hillel Day School graduates in a meeting of
Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing. photo/jay blakesberg
Olivia Zacks attended San Francisco’s Brandeis Hillel Day School from kindergarten until eighth grade, graduating with 45 other classmates. Now in her first year at Lowell High School, she is one of 800 students in the freshman class.

While she loves the diversity that a school like Lowell affords, Zacks looks forward to meeting once a month with the girls she grew up with at Brandeis Hillel as part of a Rosh Hodesh group.

“It’s really important to me,” she said. “School can be so stressful, with so many people, so it’s great to see the same girls I’ve known for so long.”

The group began when the girls were starting their eighth-grade year. Batshir Torchio, a Judaic studies teacher at BHDS, decided to implement the curriculum of Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing. The Philadelphia-based program was started in 2002 by the national nonprofit Moving Traditions. It came to the Bay Area in 2007, and currently there are 22 local groups running. -- Alexandra J. Wall, S.F. Bay Area

To read the complete article, click here.

Policeman Rescues Torah Scrolls from Christchurch Rubble

Police Det. Chris Bell retrieves the two Torah scrolls
from the Chabad house rubble in Christchurch, March 2, 2011. (Chabad)
Two Torah scrolls buried under the rubble of the Chabad house in Christchurch, New Zealand, have been saved.

Rabbi Shmuel Friedman, who escaped from the Jewish outreach center with an Israeli backpacker when a devastating earthquake struck Feb. 22, was trying to salvage remnants of the building in central Christchurch on Wednesday when he was stopped by a police detective, Chris Bell.

“When he heard of the importance of the Torah to Jews around the world, he put on his helmet and gloves and went in himself,” ...  said Friedman, who 24 hours earlier had said Kaddish for two Israelis before their bodies were repatriated. “It was such a beautiful scene when I saw the detective coming out from the Chabad house. It was like a fireman coming out of a burning building clutching a baby.” -- JTA

To read the complete story, click here.

US Senate Bill Allows Holocaust Survivors to Sue for Unpaid Claims

Sen. Bill Nelson
A bill that would give Holocaust survivors the right to sue European companies for unpaid life insurance claims was introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D.-Fla.) offered the bill on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, two days before a planned protest by Holocaust survivors at a Nelson fundraising event in Miami Beach with President Obama, the Miami Herald reported Thursday. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Judge in Mets Kosher Hot Dog Case Recuses Himself for Fan Cap

Brooklyn Magistrate Andrew Carter
recused himself from a case involving
the sale of kosher hotdogs at Mets game.
Ward for News
A federal judge overseeing a kosher food vendor's lawsuit against the Mets recused himself from the case Tuesday apparently because the plaintiff's lawyer spotted him wearing a Mets hat outside the courthouse.

Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Andrew Carter said that he was stepping aside because he wanted to make sure there was no public perception that he was rooting for one side, a source told the Daily News.

The News reported Saturday that a lawyer for Kosher Foods Inc., which is suing the Mets forbarring the vendor from selling kosher franks at Citi Field during the Jewish Sabbath, expressed concern that the judge was wearing a Mets cap and a blue-and-orange tie.

Carter declined to comment. -- John Marzulli, NY Daily News

It’s Official: Jewish Camp Strengthens Jewish Identity

According to a new report,
these happy kids at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires
are more likely to be Jewishly engaged as adults
than their friends who didn't go to Jewish camp.
(Judah S Harris/Foundation for Jewish Camp)
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish camp alumni -- and their parents -- have long known that those halcyon weeks spent at Jewish summer camp don’t just cement lifelong friendships, they strengthen Jewish identity.

Now they have it in writing.

A new study on the long-term impact of Jewish overnight camp concludes that those who have attended camp are more Jewishly engaged as adults, according to 13 key variables, than those who did not go to camp. -- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

To read the complet article, click here.

Also see the article by Julie Wiener in NY Jewish Week "Summer Camp Impact Seen High In New Study"

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial cartoon by Tom Toles / Washington Post

Op.-Ed: The Public-Sector Workers on Which Our Future Depends

I get that public-sector workers are on both sides of the table, and that there's something suspect and rigged when pols lifted into office by these unions return the favor with generous health and pension benefits that break the bank. I also get that this conspiracy to roll taxpayers is equally at work when pols backed by business reward supporters with tax breaks and subsidies worth many times the political contributions received....

The one thing I know for sure, however, is this: The future of the country depends on the public-sector workers known as teachers. That's because unless we dramatically improve our educational performance, America's standard of living will be at risk. . -- Matt Miller, Washington Post

Click here to read the complete article.

Opinion: What, Not Who, Is a Jew?

What we need now is a conversation about what Jewishness is at its very essence and about how the changing face of world Jewry should and should not be reflected in conversion policy, Daniel Gordis writes in Shma.

To read the article, click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Psst, Tell Adam Sandler: Chicago’s Next Mayor Lights the Menorah

The wooden sign outside of the Sheridan Road congregation
bears the congregation's name, and the new mayor's name,
which is Hebrew for "God is with us."
Liz M. Kobak/MED
Chicago’s voters made history last Tuesday, but either they didn’t know or they didn’t care.

When Rahm Emanuel takes the oath of office in May, he will be Chicago’s first mayor of Jewish descent.

Early in the campaign, the issue of race bubbled to the fore as African-Americans attempted, unsuccessfully, to rally around a single black candidate. In the end, there were two Hispanic candidates, two African-American female candidates, one African-American male – and Emanuel.

Why wasn’t religion an issue?

“We are clearly past the time that a person would or would not vote for someone if they happened to be Jewish,” said Michael R. Zedek, rabbi at the Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N. Sheridan Rd. “Him being Jewish didn’t have an impact on whether he won or lost. I think it’s a lovely moment.” -- Liz M. Kobak, Medill News Service via JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Assange Complains of Jewish Smear Campaign

Julian Assange
A report published by a British magazine on Tuesday said the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, suggested that British journalists, including the editor of The Guardian, were engaged in a Jewish-led conspiracy to smear his organization.

His remarks appeared in the magazine Private Eye, in an article by its editor, Ian Hislop, who outlined a rambling phone call that Mr. Assange made on Feb. 16 to complain about the coverage of WikiLeaks.

He was especially angry about a Private Eye report that Israel Shamir, an Assange associate in Russia, was a Holocaust denier. Mr. Assange complained that the article was part of a campaign by Jewish reporters in London to smear WikiLeaks.-- Ravi Somaiya, NY Times

To read the complete article, click here.

The Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

Two women strikers on picket line during
the "Uprising of the 20,000", garment workers strike, New York City.
This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection
purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948.
Though we at JWA celebrate women’s history all year round, March brings us the great opportunity of Women’s History Month. This year, March also brings the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. JWA will mark the day with a luncheon and walking tour; a whole slew of other commemorative events will be happening throughout the month. Given the centennial of this major event in labor history, as well as the current situation in Wisconsin, there has never been a better time to focus on labor organizing and the pivotal role Jewish women have played in its history. That's why we are sharing our Top 10 list of Jewish women in American labor history in a 10 part series for Women's History Month.

This list is by no means exhaustive, comprehensive, or broad in scope.  By its nature, it's limited to 10 people. In choosing the women, we focused on people connected to the Triangle fire or those who were active in the same general time period. A few of the names you might recognize, but the majority are largely unknown. Each day for the first two weeks of March, we will post the "10 Things You Should Know" about one of these women. By the middle of the month, you will be an expert on the lives and work of these trailblazing Jewish activists.  -- Leah Berkenwald, Jewish Women's Archives/Jewesses with Attitude

These 10 women are:
  1. Rose Pesotta
  2. Rose Schneiderman
  3. Bessie Abramowitz Hillman
  4. Clara Lemlich
  5. Belle Moskowitz
  6. Pauline Newman
  7. Emma Lazarus
  8. Lillian Wald
  9. Fannia Cohn
  10. Gertrude Weil
To read the complete article, click here.

Migrants in Israel Face Uncertainty, Despite Oscar

The film focuses on the school’s atmosphere
of diversity and tolerance as it tries
to integrate children into Israeli life.
Left unsaid is a deportation threat.
The children in the kindergarten class were taking their new celebrity status in stride on Monday, singing a Hebrew song about patience hours after a movie about their school, Bialik-Rogozin in south Tel Aviv, won the Academy Award for best short documentary in Los Angeles.

The school, which is state-supported, caters to the children of migrant workers and refugees from 48 countries. For many of them it is a safe haven from daily hardships and, in some cases, traumatic pasts.

Although the American-made documentary, “Strangers No More,” celebrates the school’s atmosphere of diversity and tolerance as it tries to integrate the children into Israeli life, there is an ominous subtext to the story that was not explored in the movie. Of the school’s 828 pupils, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, 120 are facing deportation with their families because they do not meet government criteria for obtaining legal status. -- Isabel Kershner, NY Times via JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Protest Grows over Holocaust "Zone" in Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Architects rendering of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg
Opposition appears to be intensifying to plans to dedicate a specific “zone” to the Holocaust in the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, while the museum devotes another, single gallery to covering what could be at least 50 other mass atrocities.

Both the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Polish Congress are urging the museum, under construction in Winnipeg and scheduled to open early in 2013, to reconsider what CPC president Teresa Berezowski calls “an inequitable display of what has happened in the world that has gone against human rights.”

The UCC, moreover, wants the Harper government, which established the museum as a self-governing Crown corporation in 2008 and budgeted $100-million toward its $310-million construction, to “suspend any further funding to the museum until [governance issues] are reviewed and addressed in a transparent manner.” -- James Adams, Toronto Globe and Mail, via Winnipeg Jewish Review

To read the complete article, click here.

Former Soviet Union Jewish Women Take Women’s Case to U.N., D.C,

From left, Project Kesher activists Elena Kalnitskaya, Svetlana Yakimenko, Olga Krasko and Vlada Bystrova standing outside a Salvation Army building in New York that hosted their U.N. workshop, Feb. 25, 2011. (Project Kesher)
When Elena Kalnitskaya of Ukraine talked about her organization’s women’s empowerment projects at a United Nations conference last week, she was presenting the face of social progress in her country.

And she was doing it as a Jewish woman -- not unusual, perhaps, for an American participant in international gatherings, but worth a second look when the representatives in question are from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Kalnitskaya and her three colleagues are from Project Kesher, a Jewish women’s organization that promotes human rights and women’s concerns in the former Soviet Union. They are the only representatives from the former Soviet Union at the weeklong conference. And, Kalnitskaya notes, Project Kesher is the only Jewish group standing up in an international forum for the rights of women of all ethnicities and faiths in a half-dozen Russian-speaking countries. -- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

Op-Ed: Curbing That Pesky Rude Tone

Steven Savage

If you or a loved one is suffering from excess incivility — perhaps while picketing the statehouse in Indiana, Ohio or Wisconsin — please grab your “Walker = Hitler” or “Walker Is a Weasel, Not a Badger” sign and buy a plane ticket to Tucson. You could be one of the first civility-impaired citizens to be treated at the new National Institute for Civil Discourse.

Announced just last week by the University of Arizona, the new civility institute will have as honorary chairmen former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Together with the institute’s director, Brint Milward, they will promote compromise among opposing political parties and views and focus on political disagreements “from the grass roots all the way to the top.”

Finally! Hope for the angry masses leading lives of noisy desperation.

If you are wondering what civil discourse might look like on a national scale, wonder no more, because last week we placed United Nations polarization observers and civility reporters on the ground for you in Arizona, where they were given carte blanche to imagine what might be going on inside the new institute. (Parody has no place in civilized discourse, of course, but give it time; the institute is young.) -- Richard Dooling, NY Times

To read the complete article, click here.

Op-Ed: Can the Arab World Leave Anti-Semitism Behind?

A protester steps on defaced posters of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi
during a demonstration organized by students and supporters of the Shiite Amal movement against him and to express solidarity for Libyan protesters, near U.N. headquarters in Beirut.
Mohamed Azakir / Reuters
During World War II, the leader of the Palestinians lived in a Berlin villa, a gift from a very grateful Adolf Hitler, who clearly got his money's worth. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and as such the titular leader of Muslim Palestinians, broadcast Nazi propaganda to the Middle East, recruited European Muslims for the SS, exulted in the Holocaust and after the war went on to represent his people in the Arab League. He died somewhat ignored but never repudiated.

Husseini might have been a Nazi to his very soul, but he was also a Palestinian nationalist with genuine support among his own people. The Allies originally considered him a war criminal, but to many Arabs, he was just a patriot. His exterminationist anti-Semitism was considered neither overly repugnant nor all that exceptional. The Arab world is saturated by Jew-hatred.
Some of this hatred was planted by Husseini and some of it long existed, but whatever the case, it remains a remarkable, if unremarked, feature of Arab nationalism. --Richard Cohen, Washington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Iran: 2012 Olympics Logo "Racist," Resembles Word "Zion"

2012 London Olympics Logo
Photo by: Reuters
Iran on February 23 said it might boycott the 2012 London Olympics because of the event's "racist" logo which resembles the word Zion, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The secretary general of the National Olympic Committee said Iran had made the complaint in a letter to the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and was waiting for a response.

The London logo shows the numbers 2012 in four jagged multi-coloured figures and was launched in 2007.

He warned the International Olympic Committee that "negligence of the issue from your side might affect the presence of some countries, especially Iran," IRNA reported. -- Reuters via Jerusalem Post

Dior Fires John Galliano After Racism Complaints

The fashion designer John Galliano, right,
arrived with his lawyer, Stephane Zerbib,
at a police station in Paris on Monday
to face accusations that he made illegal anti-Semitic slurs
The French fashion house Christian Dior said Tuesday that it had started procedures to dismiss its chief designer, John Galliano, following accusations that Mr. Galliano made anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris bar.

In a brief statement, Sidney Toledano, Dior Couture’s chief executive, said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the words and actions of Mr. Galliano, “which are in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house.” ...

The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I love Hitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.

Late Monday, the actress Natalie Portman, who recently signed an endorsement deal with Dior for its Miss Dior Chérie perfume, strongly condemned Mr. Galliano. In a statement, she said: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.” -- Matthew Saltmarsh, NY Times

To view the complete article, click here.

First Jewish "Idol?"

Robbie Rosen
Michael Becker / FOX
Merrick, Long Island’s Robbie Rosen has a real chance to become the 10th “American Idol,” according to the experts — and the first Jewish “Idol.”

The talent show has never been a caldron of ethnic politics — unless you count all the young female fans who tend to vote for the cutest boy singer every year and have swayed the results in recent seasons.

And Rosen is about as central casting as they come — 17, a straight-A student and the star third-baseman on his high school’s baseball team. “He’s everybody’s friend,” says Sanford Sardo, director of choral activities at Sanford H. Calhoun High School, “a sweet, unassuming kid who’s probably a little bit embarrassed by all the publicity.”

Rosen is the early front-runner of the four New Yorker semi-finalists — and the other three are all graduates of LaGuardia Arts high school, Manhattan’s “Fame” school.
-- Michael Starr, NY Post

Jerusalem School for Screenwriters

There are a lot of eager, aspiring screenwriters out there, but their problem is how to write truly high-quality scripts. The Sam Spiegel School for Film and Television in Jerusalem will help a select group of screenwriters by offering an International Film Lab for Screenwriters, which will give $80,000 worth of grants to outstanding young screenwriters from Israel and around the globe.

This program, the fourth of its kind in the world, is modeled on successful film labs that have been run at Sundance, the Torino Film Festival and the Binger Institute in Amsterdam. -- Hannah Brown, Jerusalem Post

To view the complete article, click here.

12 Jews Honored on African Stamps as Apartheid Fighters

“This stamp issue acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices made by Jews to the liberation of their African brethren."

The postal services of Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone will simultaneously issue a set of three commemorative postal sheets on Tuesday in memory of 12 Jews – men and women – who fought Apartheid and racism in Africa.

In the struggle against South African Apartheid, according to one of the commemorative sheets, it was estimated that Jews were overrepresented by 2,500 percent in proportion to the governing white population....

Each sheet presents four black-and-white photos of stamps featuring the Jewish heroes. Details can be found at  -- Judy Siegel-Itzovich, Jerusalem Post

To view the complete article, click here.

Study Finds Nearly 1/4 of Australians Hold Anti-Semitic Prejudice

Almost one-quarter of Australians harbor anti-Semitic prejudices, according to the largest study on racism ever undertaken in the country.

The 12-year study, conducted by several leading universities, surveyed 12,512 people across the country and found that 23.3 percent were negative towards Jews.

Almost half, 48.6 percent, were negative towards Muslims, and 27.9 percent were negative towards Indigenous Australians, also called Australian Aborigines .

Still, the survey's head researcher, Professor Kevin Dunn, said overall the results of the Challenging Racism Project were positive, showing Australia's multicultural society was alive and well. “About 87 percent of Australians say that they see cultural diversity as a good thing for society,” he said. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Friends, Foes Set for Showdown at Israeli Apartheid Week

Series of events equating treatment of Palestinians with Apartheid South Africa set to begin on university campuses around the world

sraeli and Palestinians supporters will battle over public opinion on campuses around the world when Israeli Apartheid Week –a series of talks, film screenings, parties and protests equating Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and Arabs with white minority-rule in South Africa- kicks off on Tuesday.

The annual event organized by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Solidarity) movement and other pro-Palestinian groups and anti-Zionist groups has gathered steam since it first began in 2005 and will take place in 55 cities and several countries this year.

srael supporters are planning a series of counter protests aimed at highlighting Israel’s democratic and egalitarian values while undermining claims it is intentionally and inherently discriminatory against its Arab citizens and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. -- Gil Shefler

"We Are All God Carriers:" The Universal Wisdom of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater,
Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center
I was nervous about going to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu this past Sunday at All-Saints Church. I was nervous because, despite his remarkable life story, which of course includes fighting and winning the battle against apartheid in his homeland, South Africa, he has made comments in the past about Israel and the Palestinians that have made him unwelcome in the mainstream Jewish community. So, in choosing to attend the service, sit in the VIP section up front, alongside other dignitaries, interfaith leaders and Hollywood actors, among others, rather than stand outside with a picket sign, as I imagine some in our community would have rather me do, I was nervous about what I might hear from this renowned voice for civil and human rights, especially in light of the fact that just two days earlier, the United States had chosen to veto a U.N. resolution calling the Israeli settlements illegal, even though our stated foreign policy agrees with that resolution, not to mention all of the unrest and turmoil in the greater Middle East. I sat anxiously, surrounded by Muslims and Christians, and because it is an Episcopal Church, a few Jews as well, and waited for Bishop Tutu to preach. --Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, The Huffington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Film about Israeli School Wins Oscar

‪Scene from
"‪Strangers No More‬"
‪Photo: Kirk Simon‬
"Strangers No More," a film about a Tel Aviv elementary school that has students from 48 different countries – many wracked by genocide, war or famine – won for best documentary short subject at the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night.‬
‪ ‬
‪The American film, produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, is 40 minutes long and examines the environment at the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv and the backgrounds of the children of foreign workers who for the most part, have come to Israel from countries suffering from poverty, hunger and political adversity.‬

Click here to read the complete article, click here.

‪Kirk and Goodman accept award (Photo: Reuters)‬

‪Director "proud to present fuller picture of Israel'"
‪In first post-Oscar nomination interview, Kirk Simon opens up about Israel, refugees and the touching story behind his film. 'It would be a delight to finally win,' he says‬. -- ‪Liron Sinay, Ynet News ‬

Click here to read the interview with Kirk Simon.

Jewish Talent Shines at 2011 Academy Awards

A minyan of Jewish talent garnered coveted Oscar statuettes during the 2011 Academy Award ceremony.

In the opening montage of the Academy Award ceremony Sunday night, hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway played with a dreidel, which proved to be an omen that a good night awaited Jewish talent.

Israel-born Natalie Portman, beaming and proudly pregnant, walked off with the best actress trophy for her portrayal of a tortured ballerina in “Black Swan.”

“The King’s Speech” was named best picture and Emile Sherman, scion of a prominent Australian Jewish family, accepted as one of the three producers.

Jewish writers swept the boards, with Britain’s David Seidler of “King’s Speech” winning for original screenplay, and Aaron Sorkin of “The Social Network” for adapted screenplay. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Oregon Federation Offers $300,000 for Innovative New Programs

The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is looking for one or more programs worth $300,000.
That’s the amount the Oregon group has allocated for innovative new programs that will meet “significant community needs and create significant opportunities” in and around Portland.
Federation CEO Marc Blattner said the Community Impact Grand Funds represents nearly ten percent of the organization’s annual revenue, but he defends it a good use of money because it will bring new energy and ideas into the city’s growing and increasingly diverse Jewish community.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles announced a similar initiative in January, allocating $100,000 for the Next Big Jewish Idea that could benefit the half million Jews in and around Los Angeles.
Applications for the Portland funding must be received by April 4, and the monies will be distributed between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. -- JTA            

Former CW Curator Co-Edits First Encyclopedia of Slave Life

Former Colonial Williamsburg associate curator Martha Katz-Hyman made national headlines as part of the research team that furnished the recreated slave quarters at Carter's Grove during the 1980s. Now she's the co-editor of a new 2-volume encyclopedia, "World of a slave," on the material life of slaves that's the first of its kind. Katz-Hyman is shown at her house in Newport News on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. (Sangjib Min, Daily Press / February 27, 2011)
For someone whose first ambition was to be a librarian, Martha B. Katz-Hyman* has made quite a splash beyond the relatively quiet realm of books.

In the mid-1980s, the Newport News woman was part of a pioneering Colonial Williamsburg team that ramped up the physical signs of slavery in the Historic Area — and upended many deep and long-held notions about the material lives of slaves. Now she's the co-editor of the first encyclopedia devoted to describing — in eye-opening detail — the unexpected richness and texture of their everyday world.

Like her work on such ground-breaking projects as the re-created slave quarters at Carter's Grove plantation, the two-volume "World of a Slave" flouts conventional wisdom, balancing dark and often painful entries on shackles and auction blocks with lighter essays on dance and music. It also debunks many oft-repeated myths, including the belief that patterned quilts were used to communicate in code to slaves attempting to escape along the Underground Railroad. --

*Editor's note: Martha Katz-Hyman is a member of the Sisterhppd pf Rodef Sholom, Hampto, VA

To read the complete article, click here.

Ireland Reelects Jewish Representative

Ireland's only Jewish national politician was re-elected to parliament after a decisive vote
Alan Shatter, a member of the center-right Fine Gael party, was one of five representatives elected from Dublin South, a constituency where the bulk of the country's small Jewish population lives, in national general elections on Feb. 25.

Shatter, who has been his party's justice spokesman in opposition since 2007, is considered a favorite to join the cabinet when Fine Gael forms a new government this week. -- JTA

New Zealand Accepts Israeli Aid

Israel is sending sanitation, water purification equipment and temporary shelters to the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch. This nearly a week after Israel first offered aid to Christchurch.
Last night [February 26], New Zealand Prime Minister John Key formally asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for help. Key turned to Israel for assistance as health and sanitation problems continue to develop in the South Island city.

Israel is well-known for the relief delegations it sends to help victims of manmade and natural disasters around the world.

Rescue teams from New Zealand continue to scour ruined buildings hit by last Tuesday's 6.3 tremor. And though New Zealand has asked for Israeli sanitation aid, it continues to deny Israel's world renowned search and rescue teams to help look for survivors.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that as of February 26, there are still six Israeli citizens who are known to have been traveling in New Zealand at the time of the earthquake, but whose whereabouts are still unknown. Foreign Ministry officials also confirmed that an Israeli backpacker was killed in the quake.
New Zealand Prime Minister Key said the high number of foreigners killed in the tremor meant Christchurch's pain was being felt around the world. "This isn't just New Zealand's tragedy, the February 22 earthquake affected countless people internationally," he said. -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Eating Fish May Help Fight Alzheimer’s

An Israeli researcher finds that diets high in fish oil could benefit people at risk of developing the devastating brain disease.

Eating foods like salmon, rich in omega 3 oils, appears to reduce the negative effects of a gene associated with Alzheimer's. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
 A gene named APOE4 is the bad guy when it comes to Alzheimer's disease, which plagues an estimated five million Americans. It is present in half of all Alzheimer's patients, and in 15 percent of the general population, putting them at risk of this common form of senile dementia.

But it looks like there's a way to neutralize this villain. Tel Aviv University Prof. Daniel Michaelson developed animal models to investigate the effects of diet and environment on carriers of APOE4. In experiments performed on mice, researchers in Michaelson's neurobiology lab demonstrated that eating foods high in omega 3 oils (such as fatty fish) and low in cholesterol appears to significantly reduce the negative effects of the gene. -- Israel21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hackers Take Over Israeli Organizations' Websites

"Team Kuwait Hackers" shut down sites for the Israel Scouts and Israeli gap-year programs, posting Muslim prayers instead.

A number of Israeli websites were hacked over the weekend by a group that calls itself "Team Kuwait Hackers."

Debbie Goldsmith, a director at the site, Aardvark Israel,said that on Saturday night, instead of offering explanations about gap-year programs in Israel, the site showed "a countdown and a clickable button, accompanied by eerie music. It sounded like Muslim prayers." Later Saturday, the site showed a message in Arabic with a picture of a Koran, as well as the message: "TeaM KuWaiT HaCkErS - HaCkErS eV!L.
-- Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post 

To read the complete article, click here.

Cuba Announces Trial Date for Alan Gross

U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, whom the State Department says was in Cuba to assist Cuban Jews, will go on trial in Cuba next month on charges of acts against the state.

Gross was charged in Cuba on Feb. 4 with "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state," a charge that carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

U.S. officials will attend the trial, which likely will be in front of a panel of judges, Reuters reported. The trial is expected to last a couple of days.

Cuban authorities detained Gross in late 2009 on his way out of the country, saying he was a spy. Gross' family and State Department officials say he was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country's 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.

Gross reportedly is being held in a military hospital; he is suffering from health problems and is reported to have lost 90 pounds.

On Thursday, Gross' wife, Judy, pleaded with the Cuban government to release her husband on humanitarian grounds. Gross' daughter, 26, has breast cancer, and his mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer. -- JTA

Op-Ed: Amidst Mideast Turmoil, Only Israel Galvanizes the UN Into Action

David Harris, Executive Director,
the American Jewish Committee (AJC)
With Iran violently suppressing demonstrators in the streets and Libya using brute force in the face of mass protests, it was reassuring to know that the UN sprang into quick action.

Just as it did after the rigged elections in 2009, Tehran was using arrests, live fire, torture and intimidation to confront those challenging the regime. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council members gathered on Feb. 18 in New York.

The members solemnly deliberated as reports from Libya suggested that hundreds of peaceful protesters were slain by government forces with the help of foreign mercenaries.

There's only one small problem. The UN Security Council met to discuss neither the situation in Iran nor Libya, but, surprise of surprises, Israel.

Meanwhile, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, charged with monitoring and protecting human rights, was also nowhere to be found when it came to Iran and Libya.

But then again, why should that be shocking? -- David Harris, Huffington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel Brings a Cold Sport to a Hot Country

Toronto it's not, but Metulla's Canada Centre provides a cool venue for immigrant and native Israelis thirsting for fast-paced fun on the ice.
Hockey lovers drive for hours across Israel just to get a chance to skate on the ice.
Picture courtesy of the Ice-Hockey Federation of Israel
A mere kilometer from the Lebanese border, Israel's only permanent regulation-size ice rink draws hockey players of all ages from throughout the country. It's not a sport normally associated with the Middle East, but for Israel's many Russian and Canadian immigrants, ice hockey is part of their culture. And they're willing to drive for hours to maintain it.

Since its start in 1989, the federation has started drawing native Israelis as well, and competing in an international division. Kids come for two-day mini-camps on the ice, and senior leagues - with players from 16 to 60 -- meet weekly. When they're not at the Metulla rink, most players must practice on rollerblades for lack of an appropriate venue. -- Harvey Stein, Israel 21c

Click here to see a video of the Ice-Hockey Federation of Israel.

Vancouver Families Visit Uganda’s Abayudaya Jews

Unless you’re going on safari, Uganda is not the first country on most families’ travel wish lists.

But when the Rosengarten and Friedland families disembarked at Entebbe in December 2010, vacation was the furthest thing from their mind. The eight Vancouverites had come to build a playground for the Hadassah Primary School in Nabugoye Hill, not far from Uganda’s second-largest city, Mbali.

The two families had learned about the Abayudaya – a Luganda word for the People of Judah – through their kids’ high school in Vancouver. Students at King David High School (KDHS) had raised $10,000 for the Abayudaya in May 2010, and Gershom Sizumu, the Abayudaya rabbi, had flown to Vancouver to receive the money. -- Lauren Kramer, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

"Bombshell" Explodes Myths of Female Terrorist Motivation

Often portrayed as pawns of male-dominated terrorist organizations, female terrorists are actually motivated by more complicated and diverse reasons, according to a Penn State researcher.

"It’s true that some women are coerced, but the truth is that motivations vary from terrorist group to terrorist group," said Mia Bloom, fellow, International Center for the Study of Terrorism. "For example, of the women in the provincial Irish Republican Army group that I talked to, not one was coerced; they were enthusiastic about their roles."

Bloom, who examined female participation in the world's most recognized terrorist groups in her book, Bombshell: The Many Faces of Female Terrorists (Viking Canada 2011), said there are five main reasons why females resort to acts of terrorism and suicide bombings--revenge, redemption, relationship, respect, and rape. -- PennState Live

To view the complete article, click here.

Beck: "I blew it" Comparing Rabbis to Islamic Radicals

Glenn Beck is apologizing for remarks he made on his radio show comparing rabbis from a major Jewish tradition to Islamic radicals, saying, “I was wrong on this and I also apologize for it.”...

On Tuesday, Beck said on his show that “reformed rabbis are generally political in nature.” “It's almost like Islam - radicalized Islam,” he continued, “in a way to where radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics."

Beck’s comments came after a group of 400 rabbis, many from the Reform movement, took out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal blasting him for comments he made about the Holocaust. -- Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog

To read the complete article, click here.

Canada, Israel to Help India Address Water Issues

Henri Rothschild, left,
flanked by Indian official Thirumalachari Ramasami,
who initially proposed a three-way partnership.
India is facing tremendous problems with water management, pollution abatement and infrastructure renewal and it is turning to Canada and Israel for solutions.

Businessmen, academics and government officials from the three countries are gathering in Toronto this week in what is being called a landmark meeting that will lead to co-operation in tackling  India’s water quality problems. -- Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

An Upscale Tallit, Off The Rack

JTS rabbinical student
Yael Buechler, above,
models her purchase.
When Yael Buechler went clothes shopping recently, the last thing she expected to come home with was a new tallit.

“I just happened to pop into H&M,” she explained, referring to the popular Swedish retailer, “and, lo and behold there were tallitot hanging next to the women’s clothing.”

...The price tag on the poncho, a new item in H&M’s exclusive “Spring Awakening” line, read $34.95. Buechler instantly bought two in case they sold out....

Buechler, a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, was featured as one of The Jewish Week’s 2010 “36 Under 36” for coordinating the women’s center’s programs there. She often makes tallit katanim (a small tallit) out of shawls to correspond with her outfits, but has never encountered a clothing item seemingly made for the transformation.

Because she is used to sewing tzitzit onto clothing, Buechler has agreed to help transform the poncho for any woman who purchases it. She presented her idea to her JTS classmates and quickly set up three appointments. -- Gabriela Geselowitz, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

"Pure Sephardim" Liable to Carry Mutation for Cancer

"Founder gene" for breast or ovarian cancer goes back over 500 years.

Until about a decade ago, it was thought that Ashkenazi women were at higher risk of contracting breast and ovarian cancer (and a small number of Ashkenazi men got breast and prostate cancer) due to a BRCA gene mutation.

Then mutations for Jews originating from Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan were discovered as well, proving that Sephardim can be at risk as well.

Now Hadassah genetic researchers have discovered two “founder” gene mutations that can cause breast and ovarian cancer in Jewish women whose families were expelled from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497, wandered into Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey and Yugoslavia, and today live in Israel and abroad. -- Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete story, click here.

Robotic Start-Up Nation

Prof. Moshe Shoham from the Technion University in Israel
has developed some of the world's most exciting medical robots,
including one now being used in operating rooms.
Israeli smarts are behind advances in "thinking" robots offering novel solutions for automating security and defense, medicine and agriculture.

From border patrol SUVs that spot infiltrators to fetal surgery robots that swim through the amniotic sac, world "firsts" from Israel also include smart gadgets that clean your pool and know where to spray fertilizers on a farmer's fields.

Israel has become a hotbed of robotic technologies. Its academics are mastering both the mind and body of robotics for solutions in security and defense, medical devices and agriculture. The innovation starts at Israeli universities and ends with commercialized products such as SpineAssist, the new x-ray and CT scan guide manufactured by Mazor Robotics. --
Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Click here to read the complete article.