Friday, March 25, 2011

You Have Probably Never Met Anyone Like Me by Jacob Artson

You have probably never met anyone like me who can’t speak but can communicate by typing on the computer.  I am an example of how someone can be impaired in one area but have great strengths in another.  That is true of most people, but it is true in the extreme about people with autism.

When I was diagnosed at age 3, I couldn’t speak or move my body properly, and 15 years later I am still extremely impaired in both areas.  But if success is measured by being a mensch and helping make this world a better place, then I would classify myself as a success.  You can be the judges. -- Jacob Artson, Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs

[Ed. Note: Jacob Artson is the son of Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies]

To read the complete article, click here.

Dip of Nations -- Hummas Reconstructed

Msbaha, a deconstructed hummus with tahina.
Photo: Joan Nathan
Garlicky hummus is Israel’s national dish, one that inspires best-selling books, prompted a headline-making heist, and is said to cure physical and mental ailments. -- Joan Nathan, Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

"BIG Day" to Buy Israeli Products Set for March 30

A Los Angeles-based organization is calling on supporters of the State of Israel to head out to their local malls and grocery stores on March 30 and go shopping.

Celebrating Israel and purchasing everything with a “made in Israel” label on it can serve as an antidote to an international boycott campaign being pushed by a coalition of anti-Israel organizations, said StandWithUs, a 10-year-old pro-Israel NGO. The group, which has chapters in several American cities, the United Kingdom and Israel, is urging schools, synagogues, community organizations and individuals to participate in its BIG (Buy Israeli Goods) Day. -- Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Jewish Communities Urged to Fight Israeli Boycott

One of Israel’s foremost tacticians fighting the global anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement says it’s time for Jewish communities worldwide to join in the battle.

DJ (David) Schneeweiss, Israel’s former deputy ambassador in China, who is now a representative of the Foreign Ministry, co-ordinates Israel’s anti-boycott strategy. He spoke with The CJN earlier this month while on a visit to Toronto.

Schneeweiss said it’s important for people to know that the movement is not something being driven by any one group or central command post. -- Andy Levy-Atzenkopf, The Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Polls Showing Rise of France’s Marine Le Pen Stir Debate among Jews about Talking to Her

Marine Le Pen says she has made clear there is
no room in the National Front for "extremist subgroups,"
anti-Semitic or otherwise, and adds, "I cannot do much more."
Photo by Ben Harris
On the second floor of the town hall in Paris' third Arrondissement, leaders of France's major Jewish institutions gathered to denounce the leader of the far-right National Front party and to assert that she remains unworthy of dialogue with the Jewish community.

Last week's gathering was precipitated by two developments that the community found alarming, though for very different reasons.

The first was an online poll, published in early March in Le Parisien, that found that National Front leader Marine Le Pen was outpacing both major party candidates, President Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP and the Socialist Party's Martine Aubry.

The second was the decision by a French Jewish media outlet, Radio J, to give Le Pen a hearing on its popular Sunday morning political program.

If the first development unsettled France's Jewish leadership, the second enraged it. -- Ben Harris, JTA

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Violence Suggests End of Lull between Israel and Militant Palestinians

Emergency personnel responding to the scene of a bomb explosion
near a bus station in the center of Jerusalem,
March 23, 2011. Kobi Gideon / Flash90

Violence between Israel and militant Palestinians rose sharply this week with a bombing in central Jerusalem and a dramatic increase in rocket attacks on southern Israel.

In a terrorist attack on Wednesday afternoon, a bomb planted near a telephone pole exploded near Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, Binyanei Ha’uma, killing a 59-year-old woman and injuring more than two dozen people.

Earlier, rocket attacks from Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday struck the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashdod, injuring one man.
-- Uriel Heilman and Marcy Oster, JTA

To read the complete artice, click here.

Seeing Eye to Eye in the Maldives

Four senior eye doctors from Israel treated
300 patients in a unique traveling operating room
developed specifically for the Eye from Zion missions

Israel and the Maldives may not have diplomatic relations, but Israeli surgeons took part in a vital mission to the island nation to operate on patients with eye problems. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article and to see the accompanying video, click here.

Op-Ed: Killing Jews in Small Doses

Bombing victim evacuated from scene Photo: AFP

Palestinian terror groups viewed the major suicide bombings of the past two decades as great military success stories. However, the Palestinians eventually realized they were paying a heavy price for this "success."

The deadly terror waves on Israel's streets eventually prompted the IDF to embark on Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, retaking the West Bank and gradually minimizing the terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria since then. Moreover, images of bloody buses and rows of body bags in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem turned global public opinion and international leaders against the Palestinians. -- ‪Yigal Walt‬, Ynet news

To read the complete article, click here.

Surgery? Border Patrol? Israeli Robots Can Do It All

Israel's universities are revolutionizing robotics, programming their inventions to think and perform tasks even better than humans. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c
The ViRobe developed by Prof. Moshe Shoham is a one-millimeter robot that can deliver chemotherapy directly to cancer cells or take snapshots of a body’s internal organs.
 To read the complete article and accompanying videos, click here.

An "Electric" Way to Reduce Lower Back Pain

Forget analgesics and narcotics; the new Israeli treatment for backaches stimulates nerves non-invasively and electrically. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c

Click here to view the complete article.
The Nervomatrix device scans the back and pinpoints where the pain is.
It then applies a gentle electrical current to stimulate the nerves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Op-Ed: What if Jews Knew That Americans Love Them?

As a 38-year-old American Jew, I am a product of my generation's anti-Semitism education machine. For me and probably most older Jews, it is difficult to digest the data. But the numbers, which come from multiple respected studies in the last five years, are irrefutable.

In their recent and remarkable survey of American religion, American Grace, sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell report about the "feeling thermometer" they use to measure how Americans feel about various religious groups. They asked respondents to indicate "how warm they feel toward different social groups on a scale of 0 to 100."

In the period they gathered the data, 2006-2007, Americans said they had warmer feelings toward Jews than any other religious group -- even a degree or two higher than Catholics and Mainline Protestants. -- Rabbi Justus N. Baird, Huffington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Saving Lake Victoria from Drowning

The level of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest freshwater lake,
dropped to its lowest recorded level in 2005,
just as the human population in the area around the massive lake is soaring
 A new Israeli-German initiative offers hope of rehabilitating North Africa's major water source, to the relief of millions who depend on its waters and wildlife. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete story, click here.

A Lot Of Talk about Engaging Younger Jews on Israel; Now What?

I spent almost 10 hours at the American Jewish Committee headquarters yesterday, most of that time engaged in discussions on whether young American Jews are distancing from Israel.

The answer -- first heard at a six-hour colloquium with about 45 Jewish leaders and thinkers and later at a panel discussion for young AJC lay leaders -- was yes, younger Jews feel less connected to Israel. But that was the easy part.

The deeper exploration was into why that was the case, with responses attributing the problem to: the failure of the American Jewish establishment to provide adequate Modern Israel education; a parallel (and connected) lack of interest among the young in Judaism itself; and the policies of Israeli governments on dealing with Arab citizens, relations with Palestinians, women, liberal Jewish denominations, etc., all of which were said to clash with the liberal values of young American Jews. -- Gary Rosenblatt, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

Torah Rescued from Iraq Honors Local Man’s Granddad

Photo by Richard Graulich, The Palm Beach Post
On Purim, the happiest of Jewish holidays, Tony and Vanessa Beyer filled in the last letter of a 350-year-old Torah under the direction of Rabbi Steve Karro, a scribe. After five months of restoration work, Karro declared, “The Torah is complete!”

It was in this fashion that the Torah, saved from destruction at the hands of now-dead Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, came to its new home Sunday at Palm Beach Synagogue. -- Christopher C. Paine, Palm Beach Daily News

To read the complete article and view a photo gallery, click here.

Norwegian Lawmaker Denies Holocaust; Own Party Calls for Resignation

Members of a Norwegian lawmaker's own party have called for his resignation after he publicly denied the Holocaust.

Labor Party lawmaker Anders Mathisen reportedly told the Finnmarken newspaper that the Holocaust never happened and challenged readers to prove him wrong.

“There is no evidence the gas chambers or mass graves existed," he told the newspaper, according to reports. "Even reputable Holocaust historians have admitted it cannot be established.”-- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Dance for the Dead Sea

Ido Tadmor
Photo by Inbal Marmari
Israeli choreographer-dancer Ido Tadmor has given an artistic boost for the Dead Sea campaign as this unique site competes in the finals of the New7Wonders of Nature contest.

Tadmor took inspiration from the Dead Sea and filmed his dance piece at the Kalya Beach.

"The Dead Sea is my favorite spot in Israel. This is the place where I can rest and go through a ‘rebirthing', where I feel the strongest spiritual connection, where I feel purified and cleansed. For me - this is one of the most amazing places on earth, and it is important for me to be an active part in its care and development," said Tadmor.

The Dead Sea is contending against 27 other natural sites around the world, and is considered to be one of the most promising contestants in the campaign to select the New7Wonders of Nature. According to the New7Wonders foundation, some one billion people will vote in the campaign, which will end on 11.11.2011.

Rivaling the Dead Sea in the finals are places like Uluru in Australia, Table Mountain in South Africa, Grand Canyon in the US and Angel Falls in Venezuela.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry has also opened a Facebook page to drum up support. -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel 21c

To view the Facebook page, click here.

To view the video, click below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Was the Man who Broke into Auschwitz

Children behind a barbed wire fence
at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

In the Telegraphic, United Kingdom, reporters Neil Tweedie meets Denis Avey and hears his astonishing tale of breaking into the Nazi's most feared concentration camp.

To read the article, click here.

Op-Ed: The Fate of Muslim Moderates

Salman Taseer, Zafer al-Masri.
The recent uprisings in the Middle East seemed, at least at first, to send a reassuring signal to Western observers: not only did genuinely moderate Muslims exist, and not only were they capable of finding a political voice, but there was reason to hope that, given time to organize and grow in strength, they might succeed in winning out against the voices of repression and Islamist extremism.

As events have unfolded, this early optimism has faded. There is indeed still cause for hope, but clearly the struggle will be long and hard. And then there are also the lessons of history, and of contemporary experience, to consider. -- Elliot Jager, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete article, click here.

Shiva Sisters Offer Kind Words, Practical Help for Jewish Families at Times of Loss

The Shiva Sisters aid Jewish mourners with an only-in-L.A. panache, arranging catering, equipment rentals and general assistance for after-funeral gatherings. 'They kind of just swoop in and mother you,' says one man who lost his partner of three decades. -- Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
Lily Morris, 13, goddaughter of Lee Weinstein and Michael Berman, listens to speakers during a memorial for Weinstein for which the Shiva Sisters made all the related arrangements. (Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times)
To read the complete article, click here.

New Technology Saves 100 Patients and the Number Grows

Dr. Finkelstein at the ceremony
Photo: Asi Cohen
Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center marks 100 successful catheterizations performed as alternative for open heart surgery.

In the world the valve has only been in use for five years, and has since turned into a success story. It was introduced in Israel about a year and half ago.

The transplantation is performed on patients over the age of 80 who suffer from various illnesses and therefore cannot undergo open heart surgery.  -- Sivan Raviv, YNet News

To read the complete article and view the accompanying video, click here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Study: Birthright Alumni Better Israel Advocates, Marry Jewish

The impact of a Taglit-Birthright experience is significant and lasts for years, according to a new study.

Participants in the 10-day Israel trips are more confident advocates for Israel, are more likely to feel very connected to Israel, and are 51 percent more likely to marry a Jewish person than their peers who applied for but did not go on a Birthright trip.

These are some of the findings of “The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel: 2010 Update,” a recently released study by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. It is a follow-up to the center’s 2009 report, “Generation Birthright Israel,” and looks at 2,000 young Jews who applied for and/or took part in a Birthright trip between 2001 and 2005.

According to the new study's findings, trip participants were 46 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel and 28 percent more likely to explain Israel/Middle East issueswith confidence. They are 35 percent more likely than non-participants to consider it highly important to raise Jewish children, and if they marry non-Jewish spouses, the spouse is four times more likely to convert to Judaism.

Noting that this study compared trip participants to those who applied but did not ultimately go on a Birthright trip, usually because there was no room for them, Birthright Israel Foundation President Robert Aronson said the findings demonstrate how greatly “the lives of those who were turned away from the trips would have been changed.”

The research was sponsored by the Robert K. and Myra H. Kraft Family Foundation, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center Fund and Taglit-Birthright Israel. -- JTA

Israel to Dispatch Medical Delegation to Japan

The IDF’s Home Front Command
preliminary delegation arrives in Japan
Archive photo : IDF Spokesperson
A preliminary Israel Defense Force Homefront Command medical delegation, comprising two doctors and a Homefront Command officer, arrived today [Monday, March 21] in the Miyagi prefecture  north of Tokyo and have begun their appraisal of requirements that will enable the dispatch of the full-scale medical delegation, which is due to leave Israel shortly. Israel is one of the first countries to dispatch a medical delegation to Japan. To date, only a few international search and rescue teams have provided assistance, but no medical teams have been dispatched.
-- IDF Spokesperson, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

US Fashion Chain Features Israel in Campaign


Urban Outfitters fashion chain chooses Jewish state as backdrop for its spring catalog, bringing convoy of models to Holy Land‬‬. -- ‪Itamar Eichner‬, Ynet News

To read the complete article, click here.

Where’s the International Outcry against Arab Apartheid?

Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.

Taha’s tragic case highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in squalid refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care.

Ironically, the boy’s death at the entrance to the hospital coincided with Israeli Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the US, Canada and other countries....

Can anyone imagine what would have happened if an Israeli hospital had abandoned a boy to die in its parking lot because his father did not have $1,500 to pay for his treatment? The UN Security Council would hold an emergency session and Israel would be strongly condemned and held responsible for the boy’s death.-- Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Saying Thank You after 73 years

Philippine Ambassador to Israel Petronila Garcia receives merit certificate  Photo: Gili Mazza
A small historic amendment was made Monday, 73 years after Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezon granted some 1,200 visas to immigrants from Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, when a marble engraved sign in his honor was revealed at the Boys Town Jerusalem campus – as an acknowledgement of the humanitarian gesture. 
"Being a Jew is appreciating the good," says institution's rabbi. -- Gili Mazza, YNet News

To read the complete article, click here.

North American Immigrants Lead in Israel’s Nonprofit Sector

American immigrant to Israel David Portowicz, second from left,
founded the Jaffa Institute, which helps thousands of
disadvantaged children and their families.
Jaffa Institute
Over the last decade, the number of nongovernmental organizations in Israel has multiplied as Israel’s traditionally socialist-leaning welfare system has significantly downsized. Some 12,000 NGOs are now active in Israel. English-speaking immigrants have found their niche not only in reaching out to the socio-economically disadvantaged, but also in civil society areas like the environment, human rights, religious pluralism and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. -- Dina Kraft, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Toward a More Assertive Liberal Judaism

The orthodox narrative about Judaism must be confronted, challenged, refuted: vocally, diligently, persistently; may this be the first step.

The pluralist agenda of the liberal Jewish movements, while admirable in principle, can sometimes lead us to be less vocal about why we differ from Orthodox Judaism, and why that difference is important. -- Dr. Alex Sinclair, Director of Programs in Israel Education for the Jewish Theological Seminary, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Honor of Purim

In Honor of Purim