Friday, March 11, 2011

Where Arab and Jewish Children Hold Hands and Learn

For most of the children,
the museum workshop is their first encounter
with peers from the other side of Jerusalem.
A program at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem gets Arab children and Jewish children from different neighborhoods talking and creating together. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.
The five-session program includes
a joint art project
for Jewish and Muslim fourth-graders

Identity = ?

In discussions of that elusive entity known as "Jewishness," few terms have become so ubiquitous, and as a consequence so elusive, as "Jewish identity." The phrase regularly serves as the name of a communal dream: the wished-for end product that vast apparatuses of education, institution-building, and programming aim to instill and perpetuate. But what is it? What is its relation to classical terms like Torah and mitzvah? What quality of being does it try to capture, and how good a job does it do?

A symposium in the latest issue of Sh'ma goes at the question in the context of contemporary America, a society increasingly characterized as "post-ethnic" and therefore, presumably, in quest of new forms of personal identity. -- Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete article, click here.
To read the Sh'ma article, click here.

Tel Aviv's Most Legendary Boulevard

Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, one of its oldest and most beautiful streets, is home to million-dollar residences, cafes and clubs amid an arty atmosphere dominated by many Bauhaus-style buildings.

The leafy boulevard, which is at the heart of Tel Aviv, is lined with 1930s-era open-air kiosks where passersby can grab a bite to eat and meet up with friends in the mild Mediterranean air. Here they can enjoy the sights of the old-new city, with its rounded Bauhaus terraces built for residents who originally lacked air conditioning.

Open air kiosks, built along the boulevard
in the 1930s, are as popular today
"Form follows function" is the watchword of the Bauhaus style, which came to Israel along with German Jewish refugees prior to World War II. The aging buildings were becoming a bit rundown until UNESCO declared the area a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2003. Now, renovations are returning them to their former glory. -- Harvey Stein, Israel 21c

To view the video, click here.

Bringing Israeli Arabs into High-Tech

President Peres with the leading hi-tech CEOs
Photo: Israel Hadari

President Shimon Peres aims to introduce Israel's Arabs into the country's lucrative high-tech sector with a new program to channel the best and brightest into the industry. -- Israel Etzion, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

Hurva Synagogue Is Home to First Wedding since 1948

Photo by: Roman Yanushevsky

The Hurva Synagogue, which was officially rededicated a year ago, celebrated a milestone on Tuesday. For the first time since its destruction by the Jordanian Arab Legion in May 1948, the Ashkenazi synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter hosted a wedding ceremony as an operational house of worship.

Avraham Pashnov and Rachel-Orli Journo were married in the Hurva’s courtyard. During the ceremony, Pashnov said he and his wife are “only a tiny chain link that brings together the past and the future.” -- Joshua Hamerman, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Dealing with the Secret Shame of Elder Abuse

The beloved film icon, first seen by America in short pants, delivered his most significant performance at 90. Mickey Rooney passionately told Congress what it’s like to be old and vulnerable.

Despite his fame, despite his wealth, he said, he was a victim of a growing phenomenon not adequately understood, much less addressed, in America: elder abuse.

Don’t recognize the term? You will. -- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star

To read the complete article, click here.

On the Road Again for Old Tires

Paving roads with a recycled tire compound
costs no more than conventional methods and lasts longer, too.

Israel's formula for getting green mileage from old tires could be a boon for countries with similar raw materials and climates.
-- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel, UNESCO to Jointly Promote Holocaust Education

Israel and UNESCO have signed an agreement to promote Holocaust education and combat its denial.

The agreement signed Monday in Paris between Israel and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization commits to the establishment of a center within the organization devoted entirely to developing and promoting Holocaust education and combating its denial worldwide. The new center will function in accordance with resolutions adopted at the U.N. General Assembly in New York and UNESCO, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry.

Israel will fund part of the project "after reaching understandings with UNESCO regarding its treatment of political issues on the agenda," according to the Foreign Ministry.

The agreement was signed by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Ambassador Nimrod Barkan, Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO. -- NY Jewish Week

Op-Ed: U.N. Human Rights Chief Must Be Held Accountable

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
The favorite word of Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, appears to be “accountability.” Yet with her own agency tainted by its longtime disregard of Libyan human rights violations -- and by apologists for Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi occupying key U.N. positions -- it’s high time for the high commissioner to prove that accountability begins at home.

Let’s put aside that in the past three years, United Nations headquarters in New York opened every golden door to the terrorist from Tripoli. Never mind that the Gadhafi regime was granted membership on the elite U.N. Security Council, that its envoy was made president of the U.N. General Assembly or that the dictator’s daughter, Aisha, was named a U.N. “goodwill ambassador.” Indeed, one wonders why Gadhafi bothered trying to pitch his Bedouin tent in the middle of Manhattan when U.N. headquarters itself was already in his hands.

Instead, let’s look only at Pillay’s own human rights apparatus in Geneva. -- Hillel Neuer, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jewish Dishes We Miss--A Top-10 List of Ashkenazi Foods To Bring Back

The Eastern European Jews who immigrated to America in the early 20th century brought with them the flavors of home — hearty peasant foods seasoned with grease, onions and brine. Out of this gastronomic introduction emerged the delicatessen tradition and a canon of dishes that most Americans recognize today as traditional Jewish fare.

Over the past 60 years, however, many of these classics have faded to near extinction — the victims of changing tastes and our current preoccupation with healthy, low-cholesterol eating. From a nutritional perspective, of course, there is no justification for keeping foods heavy in saturated fats at the center of our diets. But when savored on occasion and with reverence, these Old World foods arguably nourish our souls. -- Leah Koenig, The Forward
Bubbe’s Favorites: Traditional Jewish fare like tongue,
p’tcha, schav and belly lox, once staples foods for Eastern European Jews,
have faded to near extinction in the last 60 years.
Above, schmaltz is strained from a bowl of gribenes
 To read the whole article, click here.

Tories not Apologizing for Ethnic Ad Campaign Plan

 The Conservative government will not apologize for targeting ethnic communities as part of any election strategy it uses.

Last Friday, the government mistakenly sent a letter to the NDP [New Democratic Party (French: Nouveau Parti démocratique)] outlining its electoral advertising plans to court the immigrant vote in the country in various “very ethnic” ridings, including the South Asian, Chinese and Ukrainian populations, and Jewish voters in the ridings of Mount Royal in Montreal and Eglinton-Lawrence in Toronto.

Accompanying the letter was a PowerPoint document titled “Breaking Through: Building the Conservative Brand,” which outlines the Conservatives’ ethnic media ad strategy. It lists both Mount Royal and Eglinton-Lawrence as part of the government’s “Top 10 ridings with an ethnic group comprising 20 per cent or more of the population.”

The strategy also tells Conservative party members: “There are lots of ethnic voters. There will be quite a few more soon. They live where we need to win. Need to positively brand [the Conservative Party of Canada] in target communities.” -- Andy Levy-Ajenkopf, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Canadian Egyptian Jews Discuss Unrest in Egypt

Egyptians massed in large numbers in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Israel Sun photo

While Egyptians continue to take to the streets to demand a new democratic government, Egyptian Jewish expatriates living in Toronto are following the unfolding events carefully. -- Sheri Shefa, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

North and Jerusalem Gear Up for Snow Day

After blizzard in Hermon, light snow expected in Golan, Galilee, Jerusalem; emergency centers open, tractors, salt trucks prepare for icy roads. -- Ehud Zion Waldoks and Melanie Lidman, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Insider, Outsider of Three Cultures

Prof. Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder,
the first woman Bedouin to hold a doctorate
Photo courtesy Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

The first Bedouin woman to earn a Ph.D. navigates between Bedouin, Arab and Israeli cultures as Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder blazes new pathways in higher education. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

CPE/Palliative Care Course for Jewish Clergy and Doctors Begins in May at JTSA

Embracing Life and Facing Death 
A Continuing Education Course for 
Jewish Clergy and Doctors

 will be offered to Jewish clergy and doctores for six Monday evening from 
May 16 to June 27 at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

An integrated curriculum, bringing together twelve rabbis and twelve doctors to learn and discuss palliative and end-of-life care, spirituality, and communication issues in the context of Jewish culture. Participants will be given reading materials so that they can prepare in advance for the seminar sessions. The curriculum was developed with the support of a grant from UJA-Federation of New York.

The faculty wil include Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS; Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, Director, Rabbis Without Borders, Clal; and Bernard Lee, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care

This course is sponsored by 

the Center for Pastoral Education 
at The Jewish Theological Seminary

 in collaboration with  UJA-Federation of New York, Metropolitan Jewish Health System, 
Clal: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the 
Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of JTS.

There is a fee for this course which includes dinners. -- JTSA

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

150 Women Who Shake the World

Newsweek and The Daily Beast Honor 150 Extraordinary Women

They are heads of state and heads of household, angry protesters in the city square and sly iconoclasts in remote villages. With a fiery new energy, women are building schools, starting businesses, fighting corruption, harnessing new technologies and breaking down old prejudices. Whenever a woman or girl gains control of her destiny, the local standard of living goes up and the values of human rights spread. So this year, and every year, Newsweek and The Daily Beast will honor local heroes, and the growing network of powerful women who support their efforts. Plus, read more about the Women in the World conference. -- Newsweek

To read the complete story, click here.

Born-Again Feminism

How a movement that’s grown stale in America can draw new inspiration from its abaya-clad sisters in the Middle East.

A woman shows her identity card while waiting to vote in Kabul
Tyler Hicks / The New York Times-Redux
Among life’s surreal experiences, few can compare with finding myself seated on a baroque bench, one of dozens lining the perimeter of an ornate drawing room in the palace of Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak in Abu Dhabi, chatting it up with three Ph.D.-endowed women sheathed in black abayas, sipping sweet hot tea and eating candies. “I think you Americans do not enjoy being women as much as we do,” said one, peering into my face with an earnestness one usually associates with grim news delivered to next of kin.

Say what? -- Kathleen Parker, Newsweek

To read the complete article, click here.

Not a “Shanda” – A “Kiddush Hashem”

What do you call women who pray as a group on Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel?

It depends who you ask.

Some would say a “Shanda”. I would say a “Kiddush Hashem”. Can’t be much farther apart than that.

Over the years, I can’t say I’ve been particularly attuned to Women of the Wall, except to say that I’ve read about the prayer groups at the Kotel and the legal battles and protests. Even as an Orthodox rabbi, I always reacted sympathetically to the cause, feeling that sincere women praying together and lifting their voices to God at the Kotel have at least as much right to be there as men. -- Rabbi Elan Adler, Women of the Wall website

To read the complete article, click here.

Men Without Women: The Ominous Rise of Asia’s Bachelor Generation

Children play at a primary school in Fuli, China.
Tim Graham / Getty Images
In 1927, Ernest Hemingway published a collection of short stories titled Men Without Women. Today, less than a century later, it sums up the predicament of a rising proportion of mankind.

According to the United Nations, there are far more men than women on the planet. The gender gap is especially pronounced in Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. This may come as a surprise to people in the Western world, where women outnumber men because—other things being equal—the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups. Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen calls it the mystery of Asia’s “missing women.”

The mystery is partly explicable in terms of economics. In many Asian societies, girls are less well looked after than boys because they are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies. -- Niall Ferguson, Newsweek

To read the complete article, click here.

Kissinger Urges Obama: Grant Clemency to Jonathan Pollard

 Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, urging him to commute the prison term of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life term for spying for Israel.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Photo by: Bloomberg
"I believe justice would be served by commuting the remainder of Pollard's sentence of life imprisonment, " Kissinger wrote in the letter, in which he enunciated that he had given the matter a lot of thought and research. -- Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day at 100

Google’s International Women’s Day logo.
Today is the 100th annual International Women’s Day, commemorating the achievements of women, past and present. This year’s theme: “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” --  Gabrielle Birkner, Sisterhood blog, The Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

Getting to Egalitarian

A cantor at a Conservative synagogue, Congregation Beth El in Vorhees, N.J., is featured in this video, put up by the professional organization Cantors Assembly. It’s a lovely portrayal of female cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro, who works at at what had been a non-egalitarian shul. The video shows how she has changed the hearts and minds of the congregants as she leads by example and creates possibilities for other women, as well as men, to grow in their observance and connection to God and tradition. -- Debra Nussbaum Cohen, reticent as to their own status, the situation is unlikely to change.  -- Chanel Dubofsky and Jenny Merkin, Sisterhood blog, The Forward

Who's Responsible for the Gender Imbalance at Communal Forums?

Are organizations excluding women? Are men hesitating to incorporate women into different communal constructs? Are women not stepping up, and if so, why not? 

Organizations are excluding women, and aren’t backing up these effectively sexist stances with legitimate reasons. The disproportionate number of men involved in the leadership positions of Jewish organizations (read: executive directors) has an effect on the decisions being made about the status of women in such organizations — so, yes, they do bear some responsibility.

Women are everywhere in Jewish organizations, but are virtually absent from top roles. Unfair maternity leave, child-care, pay and hiring policies make it hard for women to stay in the game. On the other hand, as long as women in the Jewish community remain reticent as to their own status, the situation is unlikely to change.  --Chanel Dubofsky and Jenny Merkin, Sisterhood blog, Daily Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

US Jews Oppose Circumcision Ban

Jewish groups and others are up in arms over an attempt to outlaw male circumcision in San Francisco by putting the issue to a popular vote.

Self-described "intactivist" Lloyd Schofield has been collecting signatures for a voter initiative that would criminalize infant circumcision in the Californian city. -- AFP via Ynet News

Click here to read the complete article.

Royal Couple to Receive Hebrew Scroll for Wedding

Text omits religious language found in ketubot.
A professional scribe will present Prince William and Kate Middleton with a specially-made scroll in Hebrew and English for their upcoming royal wedding on Thursday.

Mike Horton will hand over the scroll he made himself to British Ambassador Matthew Gould at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The text written in Hebrew and English by a rabbi is based on egalitarian principles, Horton said.
-- Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Alzheimer’s Vaccine in a Nasal Spray?

Photo by Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90.
Israeli researchers develop a vaccine that could stave off stroke as well as one of the most common and devastating causes of memory loss.

With almost one in eight Americans developing Alzheimer's disease in older years, a vaccine is of extraordinary interest to pharmaceutical companies.
-- Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Cracking Crimes with a New DNA Technique

A new invention from Israeli scientists looks deeper into DNA to show with certainty whether or not a suspect was at the scene of a crime.

By examining the unique elements that make up a person's DNA, Israeli scientists have made it possible to provide DNA as evidence even when there are multiple sources at a crime scene. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

King David

David Stern with prospects at last summer’s NBA Draft.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Commissioner David Stern made the NBA the world’s most popular sports league by running it with a stereotypically Jewish collection of traits: humor, cutthroat deal-making, and focus on the bottom line -- Bethlehem Shoals, The Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel Wins Int'l Ice Hockey Tournament in Quebec City

An amazing achievement for the Israeli peewee hockey team of 10-13 year olds: they beat out 92 other teams to take gold at an international hockey meet in Quebec City. The fact that the Israeli youngsters play roller hockey most of the year and only rarely practice on real ice makes the win even more astounding.
-- Viva Sarah Press, Israel c21

To view complete article and a related video, click here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fashion’s Fascists

The fashion world claims to be shocked over John Galliano’s anti-Semitic outbursts. But it’s an industry based on exclusion, and plenty of iconic European fashion figures don’t hold up to scrutiny.

Coco Chanel; Christian Dior; John Galliano.
Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet/Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
John Galliano is the latest in a disturbingly expanding field of public figures to be exposed as an ASWD, or an Anti-Semite While Drunk (and to be fair, probably when sober). The flamboyant fashion designer whose theatrically louche maximalism has been synonymous with the House of Dior for nearly a decade and a half was arrested last Thursday in Paris’ Le Marais district for allegedly verbally assaulting a couple in a café with anti-Semitic slurs (a criminally prosecutable offense in France). Just days later, a video surfaced online of an intoxicated Galliano in the same café, presumably a few months before the initial complaint, proclaiming, “I love Hitler” and “People like you would be dead today; your mothers, your forefathers would be fucking dead and fucking gassed.” Cue “Blue Steel” look from Zoolander. -- Rachel Shukert, Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

Editorial Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Gaddafi Secretly Tried to Buy Knesset Influence in 2007

Photo by: Reuters
Libya secretly offered to give Israelis of Libyan descent an undisclosed sum of money if they agreed to form a “Libyan political party,” the leader of a Jewish group told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Meir Kahlon, chairman of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, said that between 2005 and 2007, he and two other members of his organization had secretly traveled to Amman to meet with a representative of the Libyan government over the unresolved issue of Jewish assets in the North African country. -- Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post

Ashkenaz Unbound

An online encyclopedia brings the world of Eastern European Jewry to life
Two years ago, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which is devoted to the study and preservation of Ashkenazic culture, published the trailblazing Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. A remarkable resource, it offers some 1,800 entries on everything from general topics like art to key figures like Ludwik Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. Earlier this month, YIVO launched an online version, which not only offers free access to scholars and students the world over, but also provides supplemental material like audio and video recordings that the print edition couldn’t.

To discuss the project, and the new possibilities offered by its digital version, Tablet Magazine’s Gabriel Sanders had a chat with the encyclopedia’s editor in chief, McGill University historian Gershon Hundert.  --Vox Tablet, Tablet

Click here to view the video and separate slide show.
Click here to read the complete article.


Ed Koch, the 86-year-old former mayor of New York City, is still active as a writer and commentator. He spoke to Tablet Magazine about his politics, his Judaism, Israel, and his tombstone.

Ed Koch speaking in New York last year.
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Edward Irving Koch was born in the Bronx and raised in Newark, New Jersey, as a Conservative Jew. He represented New York City in Congress from 1969 to 1977 and served as its mayor from 1978 to 1989. Now 86, he is a partner at the law firm Bryan Cave, where the windowsill of his office, overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is decorated with a silver-colored Hanukkiah and dozens of pictures of himself shaking hands with celebrities. -- Andrew Marantz, The Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.