Friday, April 8, 2011

WLCJ ACTION ALERT: Support Planned Parenthood!

The unthinkable is happening today in Washington, and we urgently need your action.

As we write this, Representative John Boehner is caving to extremists in Congress and preparing to shut down the federal government because of their outdated and outrageous ideology, devastating the daily lives of millions of Americans. They will not rest until they have closed every single Planned Parenthood health center in the country, no matter the consequences.

It is essential that we stand together and stand strong in stopping them today. We urgently need your action right now. Add your name to this letter we are sending Representative Boehner and his extreme colleagues today — and then you must share it far and wide. Please do it now — we don't have a single moment to waste.

Show your support of Planned Parenthood and write to Representative Boehner by clicking here.
Thank you.

Women's League for Conservative Judaism
Rita Wertlieb, President
Sarrae Crane, Executive Director

Google Exodus: What if Moses had Facebook?

As we prepare for Passover, here is a bit of "educational relaxation" and humor from

Watch now to see what the Exodus from Egypt would have looked like if Moses had a laptop, Google Maps and Facebook. 

[Ed. not: this video has "gone viral" on the internet.]

Click picture below to view video or
click on here for a full screen view of the video .

Produced by
Created by Shoot East

Written by

Peace Tastes Great

Four Israeli master chefs from different ethnic and religious backgrounds cook up a variety of ways to make beautiful cuisine together.

Taste of Peace (Taam Salaam in Arabic and Taam Shalom in Hebrew) ( was founded in 2009 by a multiethnic corps of chefs: Sarkis Yacoubian, an Armenian chef instructor from Jaffa; Arab Christian Johnny Goric, executive chef at the Intercontinental Resort in Jericho; Charlie Fadida, the Jewish executive chef at the Sheraton Tel Aviv and Muslim Arab Imad Shourbaji, Fadida’s sous chef.

Their first event was a “coexistence cooking competition” where 10 Jewish and 10 Arab chefs paired off to cook dishes together without knowing the recipe.

More recently, they competed in an international culinary competition in Europe and were hired as a team to cook a lavish dinner at a private residence in Jerusalem. Each of the four supervised one course. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Janet Tobin
From: Janet Tobin, President and Rabbi Robert R. Golub, Executive Director

One of the frequent questions that we hear is “So what is the difference among the different ‘M’ organizations?”, ie, the so-called “M” & “M” problem among MERCAZ, The Masorti Foundation and Masorti Olami.  While we tackle the issue in our FAQS, the questions still persist.  To this end, our Vice President Sandy Starkman has prepared the following analysis for your use.


MERCAZ USA, the Conservative movement's Zionist Organization; a membership organization; with yearly dues. Represents Conservative Judaism in the World Zionist Organization (WZO) & the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).  Advocates for funds from these organizations on behalf of our Conservative (Masorti) Institutions in Israel & in the Diaspora, eg. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's Conservative Yeshiva & NATIV College Leadership program at the Fuchsberg Center, Jerusalem; Ramah & USY trips to Israel; the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies; & Masorti kehillot/synagogues throughout Israel. It promotes religious pluralism, fosters Zionist & Hebrew language education programming within our Conservative Movement in the US, promotes short/long term Conservative movement programs to Israel for youth/ adults & supports the Aliya activities of our movement. MERCAZ USA needs your membership to increase our influence & expand our important activities. MERCAZ means 'center’ in Hebrew indicating that Zionism is “centra”l to Conservative/Masorti Judaism.

•To join MERCAZ USA, visit or contact 212-533-2061 or
•To join MERCAZ-CANADA, visit  or contact 416-667-1717

The MASORTI FOUNDATION, a philanthropic organization, raising funds in North America to support the Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel, including the kehillot (congregations) & their educational projects/programs, eg. NOAM, USY's counter-part for Israeli youth. The foundation subsidizes programs in multi-lingual publications & offers services for new olim (immigrants to Israel) as well as veteran Israelis. It assists Kibbutz Hannaton & the Shorashim communal settlement, both in northern Israel. The Masorti Foundation needs your help to assist the Masorti movement grow & flourish.  Masorti means 'traditional' in Hebrew and is the name of the Conservative movement in Israel.

To find Masorti synagogues in Israel or make a donation to the MASORTI Foundation, visit or contact 212-870-2216 or
To make a donation in Canada contact the Canadian Foundation for Masorti
Judaism, or call 416-667-1717 or email:

MASORTI OLAMI, the formal representative in the WZO of Masorti synagogues/programs around the world & the philanthropic organization to promote the growth & development of Masorti Judaism in Europe, South America & areas outside of North America & Israel. Affiliated with Masorti Olami is MAROM OLAMI, the worldwide association of Masorti students/young adults, and MERCAZ OLAMI, representing the movement’s Zionist organizations. Masorti means 'traditional' in Hebrew, & is the name of the Conservative movement outside of North America. To find Masorti synagogues in Europe, South America, etc or make a donation to MASORTI OLAMI, visit or call 212-280-6039 or

Shabbat Shalom from Janet and Rabbi Bob

Americans United Hails Settlement In Case Challenging Religious Content At Calif. Community College Events

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today announced that an out-of-court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit challenging prayer and other religious presentations at events sponsored by a Southern California community college. -- American United for separation of Church and State

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stand Up For Women's Health - April 7

For details, click here.

UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood from JCPA

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, it has been widely reported that this coming September the leadership of the Palestinian Authority will seek to obtain United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood -- probably along the 1967 borders (1949 armistice lines) and also including reference to the “right of return” -- either from the Security Council and/or the General Assembly. Some countries, especially in South America are not waiting for September, and already have extended recognition to a Palestinian state. These developments have generated deep concern in Jerusalem, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak describing the upcoming UN gathering as a potential “diplomatic tsunami.”

Linked below are two excellent analytical pieces that explore the legal and political ramifications of such a Palestinian initiative. You are encouraged to become better acquainted with the issue because, in my judgment, it will begin to receive more and more attention the closer we get to September. 

The idea of achieving Palestinian statehood outside a negotiating framework with Israel, as made clear in the attached documents, is contrary to past UN resolutions, the position of the Quartet and long-standing U.S. policy.
Earlier this week, the administration’s Middle East advisor Dennis Ross told the Anti-Defamation League’s annual leadership conference, “We have consistently made it clear that the way to produce a Palestinian state is through negotiations, not through unilateral declarations, not through going to the UN.”  President Obama reportedly said yesterday to Israeli President Shimon Peres that the U.S. would stand by Israel’s side against any unilateral resolution. “Obama promised that the U.S. would oppose any process of delegitimizing Israel in international forums,” said Peres in a newspaper interview.

Clearly, it is our hope that many other countries besides the U.S., whether in the Security Council or General Assembly, will join in opposing a unilateral Palestinian “end run” around negotiations with Israel. Keep in mind that Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to conduct negotiations on all permanent status issues without any preconditions, recognized the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination in an independent state, and expressed readiness to make painful compromises as long as they are consistent with Israel's fundamental security requirements.  There has been much speculation about the Prime Minister preparing to deliver another major speech dealing with the peace process, dubbed ”Bar Ilan II.” Stay tuned.

The JCPA will continue to monitor this issue closely, and to provide analysis and guidance as needed. And we will be discussing it at our upcoming June task force meetings.

As always, feel free to consult with the JCPA if you have any questions.

Best regards,
Martin Raffel, Senior Vice President
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Cuba’s Remnant Rediscovers Religion: Letter from Havana

A ‘Juban’ Purim: A young woman dressesd as Vashti
goes to a reading of the Book of Esther. (Michael Orbach)
The hubbub surrounding Cuba’s small Jewish community these days does not faze Yakob Berezniak Hernandez.

Sitting behind a desk crowded with a typewriter, several cans of Lieber’s tomato paste and piles of loose foreign change, Hernandez, of Havana’s Adath Israel synagogue, waved away inquiries about Alan Gross, the 61-year-old American Jewish contractor sentenced to 15 years in prison March 15. Gross was found guilty of seeking to clandestinely distribute Internet satellite communications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community on behalf of United States Agency for International Development.

“We have good relationships with the goyim,” said Hernandez. “This is a paradise for religions. You can’t find anti-Semites [here]. No one cares.”

But several days later, it became clear that some people outside Cuba care a lot. When former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba on March 28, he met almost immediately with Jewish community leaders, followed by meetings over the next two days with senior Cuban officials, including President Raul Castro. ABC News reported that the Gross case was a prominent part of his discussions with the Cuban officials.

The Gross case also shined a spotlight on the small Cuban-Jewish community or “Jubans,” as they are known. While close to 95% of the Jewish population fled Cuba before or soon after the revolution, a remnant remained. Now numbering a little more than 1,000, the community has experienced a religious reawakening. -- Michael Orbach

To read the complete article, click here.

Better Place: An Israeli Venture to End Oil Dependence

Shai Agassi
In January 2008, Israel's then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President, Shimon Peres joined with automotive CEO Carlos Ghosn, and Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi in Jerusalem. The summit had a simple, yet staggering, purpose: to announce that Israel intended to get off oil.

If you have seen Jon Stewart's stich-bursting segment that chains together indignant statements of every President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama decrying the US's reliance on oil, then you could be forgiven for looking at the Israeli ceremony from 2008 with jaundiced eye.

However, in Israel, there was one big difference: There was a plan. -- Michael Granoff, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

Coexistence in Maternity Ward

Nurse Kolash with Athoua (right), Frenkel and their babies  Photo: Ofir Levy, Kaplan Medical Center
As tensions mount on border, Palestinian woman from Gaza and Israeli woman from Gaza vicinity kibbutz lie side by side at Rehovot hospital after giving birth to their baby girls‬‬. -- ‪Meital Yasur Beit-Or‬, Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Itanu Toronto Shines Spotlight on Physical, Social Inclusion

This year, the ninth annual Inclusion Action Week will kick-off with Shabbat Itanu at synagogues across the Greater Toronto Area on April 8th. -- Daniel Horowitz, ShalomLife Canada

Participants on Taglit Birthright Israel’s No Limits Trip embark on a sailing adventure on the Mediterranean Sea last June.
To read the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Op Ed: Of Sermons and Strategies

Rabbi Daniel Gordis
Photo: The Shalem Center
In this spring of youthful Arab discontent, it has become de rigueur to note that no one could have seen this coming. We had no warning, the strategists are all explaining – there was no way to predict this.

Perhaps. But closer to home, where other seismic shifts are already changing our world, we do know already what is happening. Far from the Middle East, a new battleground is emerging, and it is going to change the world we bequeath to the next generation no less than what is happening in Egypt, Syria and Libya. For the most part, though, we’ve chosen to ignore it.

This battleground, strange though it may sound, is the world of rabbinic training in America. -- Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

IDF Mission Plans Japanese-Style Seder

Officer, rabbi, medic - Rabbi Mansbach (Photo: IDF Spokesman)
Erecting an Eruv on ruins of Tsunami-hit city, driving eight hours to get challah for Shabbat, while helping in IDF clinic and providing spiritual support – all in a day's work for Lieutenant Tzvi Yehuda Mansbach‬‬. -- Kobi Nahshoni, Ynetnews

Sifting the Cairo Genizah

Genizah fragment
with Maimonides’ signature.
Everyone knows about the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered over 60 years ago, and about the new light they shed on the sectarian Judaism of late antiquity, the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism, and possibly the prehistory of Christianity. Fifty years before that, the Cairo Genizah similarly revolutionized the picture of the Jewish Middle Ages.

Whether by coincidence or some trick of fate, two books have just been published about the Cairo Genizah. -- Lawrence Grossman, Jewish Ideas Daily

To view the complete article, click here.

Deli Blues

A once-thriving congregation in Greenville, Miss., now can barely gather a minyan on Shabbat, but it’s managed to keep a popular tradition—a deli-luncheon fundraiser—alive for nearly 130 years. -- Vox Tablet

Hebrew Union volunteers Rebecca Barrett, Pat Kline, and Phil Kline,
preparing take-out orders for the annual deli luncheon. Philip Graitcer
To read the complete article, click here.

U.N. Human Rights Council: Goldstone Report Stands

The United Nations Human Rights Council said it will continue to use the Goldstone Report as written, despite its author's retraction of a key finding.

Council spokesman Cedric Sapey told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot on Monday that the Op-Ed written by Richard Goldstone appearing in The Washington Post of April 2 was his personal opinion and not that of the rest of the committee.

Sapey had told The Associated Press on Monday that Goldstone would have to submit a formal request signed by all of the committee members to withdraw the report. The Goldstone committee, which examined the conduct of Israel and Hamas during the monthlong Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, was disbanded after the report was filed. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

50 Years after Eichmann Capture, Much Information Still Withheld

Adolf Eichmann in a police mug shot.
Photo by: Israel Police
Among other revelations, new documents confirm that Israel lied when it claimed that Eichmann was kidnapped by "Jewish volunteers" rather than state agents. -- Tom Segev, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Judge Richard Goldstone: "Never Mind"

This is as shocking as it is unexpected: the South African Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, who excoriated Israel for allegedly committing premeditated crimes against civilians in Gaza -- contributing, more than any other individual, to the delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish state --  now says, well, Israel didn't actually set out to target Palestinian civilians, unllike Hamas, whose plainly-apparent goal was to murder Israeli civilians.

It is not clear, reading Goldstone's mea culpa in The Washington Post, that he fully understands the consequences of his work:
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and "possibly crimes against humanity" by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying -- its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee's report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
Well, I'm glad he's cleared that up. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to retract a blood libel, once it has been broadcast across the world. -- Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

For More on Goldstone's Reversal See These Articles:

Op Ed: Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes by Richard Goldstone

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets....

Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.
--Richard Goldstone. The writer, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

To read the complete article, click here.

Americans United Condemns Supreme Court Ruling Dismissing Challenge To State Aid To Arizona Religious School

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized a U.S. Supreme Court ruling dismissing a challenge to tax aid to religious schools in Arizona.

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court today turned back a legal challenge to an Arizona scheme that allows taxpayers to take a 100 percent credit for donations to “school tuition organizations” that fund religious and other private schools. The court said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case.

To read the complete article, click here.

No Wires: The Power Is in the Mat

Millions already use Israeli startup Powermat's wireless charging system. Soon it will be embedded in airport and office furniture, the Chevy Volt and kitchen appliances.

Just five years after going into business, the small Israeli company Powermat is revolutionizing the way people charge their cell phones and other handheld devices.

The user simply places the device on a small charge pad - no cord, no plug - and after the required charge is achieved, Powermat shuts down.

Shoppers have already snatched up more than five million Powermats after Homedics distributed the units to more than 30,000 US retailers. Now, to make wireless charging as widely available as wi-fi, the company is working with major makers of airport seating and office furniture to embed Powermats in their products.

General Motors has invested $5 million to build in Powermat chargers between the seats of its hybrid electric Chevy Volt. The device may also one day wirelessly power the vehicle itself.

Look for Powermat receivers in home appliances as well, as tangle-free charging becomes the watchword of the future. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

For view related video, click on picture below.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Editorial Cartoon: Jeff Stahler, Columbus Dispatch

Jeff Stahler, Columbus Dispatch

Food Flight: Perusing American Jewry’s Past and Present

Sue Fishkoff's "Kosher Nation" looks
at the kosher food industry and
Jewish dietary practice in America.
Two relatively new books tell the story of American Jewry, weaving together its past and present by examining tradition and making it relevant to today’s reader.

Where Sue Fishkoff’s "Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority" (Schocken, 2010) is robust and detailed, Leah Koenig’s "The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen" (Universe, 2011) is spacious and adaptable. -- Elizabeth Alpern, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Facebook Sued for $1 Billion over Third Intifada Page

Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg are being sued for more than $1 billion for not immediately taking down a page calling for a Third Intifada against Israel.

The lawsuit was filed March 31 in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of Larry Klayman, an attorney and activist who is described in the filing as "an American citizen of Jewish origin" who is "active in all matters concerning the security of Israel and its people." Klayman is the founder of Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group.

Facebook removed the "Third Palestinian Intifada" page on March 29 after it had been up for a couple of weeks and garnered 350,000 friends. Israel's minister of diplomacy and Diaspora affairs,Yuli Edelstein, had sent a letter to Zuckerberg a week earlier asking for the page to be removed. The Anti-Defamation League also had called on Facebook to remove the page. --JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Race to the (Wrong) Finish

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, left, raises his hands in victory
as he finishes his city's first official international marathon,
March 25, 2011. (Miriam Alster/Flash90 )
With all the twists and turns in Jerusalem, perhaps it was no surprise that the first three runners to complete the city's first official marathon ended up at the wrong finish line.

Three Kenyans mistakenly ended up at the finish line for the half-marathon, but they were still credited with their spots in the international event after their official finish times were calculated.

Some 1,500 runners from around the world, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, participated in the 26.2-mile race on March 25. More than 8,000 competed in the half-marathon and 10K races.

The marathon took place just two days after a bomb attack in central Jerusalem left a British tourist dead and more than three dozen people were injured. No runners reportedly withdrew due to the attack. -- JTA

Israel's National Library Going Digital

New meaning for the expression 'people of the book' as Israel's National Library undergoes a multi-million dollar renewal development.

Thousands of books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers and hours of audio and video material are now undergoing complex digitization processes as part of a revitalization project at the National Library. The $200 million venture will transform the library into one of the largest online archives in the world and the country's leading national heritage institution.

The library was founded in 1892. And though it boasts impressive collections, there's a need to modernize and bring up to date the library's treasures. --Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Op Ed: Women Aren’t Pet Rocks

Whether the topic is Libya’s rebels or Afghanistan’s “reconciliation” with the Taliban, the pivotal question is, or should be: What about the women?

During my brief tenure as a CNN anchor, I insistently raised this question and was consistently disappointed by the answer, which more or less went like this:

“Yes, well, the women. Too bad about the women. They’ll suffer.”

Women, and by extension children, suffer what too many have come to accept as “collateral damage” in theaters of war. We hate it, of course, but what can one do? It isn’t in our strategic interest to save the women and children of the world. -- Kathleen Parker, Washington Post

To read the complete post, click here.

Citizen Bernstein

Everett Sloane and Orson Welles in Citizen Kane.
Alexander Kahle/RKO Radio Pictures Inc./Photofest

Not only did Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane—which turns 70 this spring—change the way films were made, it broke new ground in how Hollywood portrayed Jews onscreen. -- Harold Heft, Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

Getty to Return Art Looted by Nazis

"Painting acquired in good faith" (illustration)
Photo: Visual/Photos
The Getty Museum has said it is returning a 17th century Dutch painting looted by the Nazis during World War II to the heirs of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Goudstikker fled the Netherlands just before the Nazis invaded the country in 1940, leaving behind a splendid art collection that included "Landscape with Cottage and Figures," painted around 1640 by Pieter Molijn. 

"The Getty acquired the painting in good faith at auction in 1972, and has never exhibited the work," the museum said.-- AFP via Ynetnews

Click here to read the complete article.

New Jersey Man Wins $25,000 in Manischewitz Cooking Contest

Stuart Davis of Cherry Hill, N.J. won the $25,000 grand prize in this year’s Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off.

The annual kosher cooking contest, which took place Thursday, is sponsored by Manischewitz, the nation’s largest maker of processed kosher food products, including the eponymous matzah.

The contest , which draws thousands of entries from across the United States, requires contestants to submit recipes featuring at least two Manischewitz products, and no more than nine ingredients total. This year, one of the ingredients had to be Manischewitz Ready to Serve Broth.

Davis was one of five finalists showing off their stuff in Manhattan for a panel of judges including celebrity chef Jacques Pepin. Davis’ winning recipe? Chicken and egg Donburi, on a mound of rice. -- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

First EV Battery Swap Station Opens in Israel

Better Place battery swap station
Better Place, the global provider of EV networks and infrustructure founded by CEO Shai Agasi, has offically opened in Israel its first battery swap station for electric vehicles (EVs).

These charging stations are currently only operational for owners of the Renault Fluence Z.E. but its a start and we can finally see the real, viable future of EVs.  While electric vehicles are gaining popularity, and some even look beauitful like those offered by Tesla, the caveat for many was being forced to charge at home.  Better Place is the first to offer a solution that meets the needs of the general population. -- David Sher, ShalomLife, Canada

To view the complete article, click here.