Friday, April 22, 2011

40th Year for Earth Day

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Hello Grandkids of My Original Fans: The Enduring Appeal of Singer Songwriter Allan Sherman

Belting It Out: Allan Sherman singing at a session
for “My Son, the Folk Singer”
or My Son, the Celebrity” in fall or winter of 1962.
Courtesy of Robert Sherma
From this you make a living?

No undertaking deserved that Jewish punch line more than turning the French folksong “Frère Jacques” into a parody called “Sarah Jackman.” But Allan Sherman showed how that could be done.

    Sarah Jackman, Sarah Jackman
    How’s by you, how’s by you?
    How’s by you the family?
    How’s your sister Emily?
    She’s nice, too. She’s nice, too.

The 1960s are not remembered as a time when fat men in crew cuts made hit records, but in that decade’s opening years, the overweight and close-cropped Sherman enjoyed a run worthy of a teen idol. From “Sarah Jackman” in October 1962 to his “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” mega-hit of August 1963 (the spelling was changed to “Fadduh” for the 1964 follow-up song and for a musical), Sherman recorded three albums that sold millions and made him a national sensation. “My Son, the Folk Singer,” “My Son, the Celebrity” and “My Son, the Nut” all went gold, and “Hello Muddah” won a Grammy. For a year, Sherman was a superstar. -- Mark Cohen, Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

To view the accompanying video, click on picture below.

Museum to Return Nazi-stolen Klimt to Canada

An Austrian museum announced Thursday it will return a Gustav Klimt painting stolen by the Nazis and worth over 20 million euros to the Canadian descendant of the previous Jewish owner.

Expert reports backed Georges Jorisch's claim to the 1915 painting "Litzlberg am Attersee" ("Litzlberg on the Attersee"), which had belonged to his Jewish grandmother Amalie Redlich, Salzburg's Museum of Modern Art said in a statement.

The oil landscape, estimated to be worth between 20 and 30 million euros ($29-$44 million), was seized by the Nazi Gestapo secret police after Redlich was deported in 1941 and killed.

It was later bought by a local art collector and eventually landed in the possession of various Salzburg museums.

The local assembly of Salzburg province, which owns the painting, still has to approve the restitution, but this was expected to go ahead without any problems, as evidence of ownership had been cleared.

"The conditions for a return of the painting to Amalie Redlich's rightful heirs have been fulfilled," deputy governor Wilfried Haslauer said in a statement.

"Therefore I will recommend that the Salzburg government return the artwork to Georges Jorisch."

A decision was expected on July 6.

While the province would like to hang on to the painting, that was unlikely.

"Of course we will try to negotiate the painting with the owner... but I have no illusions that we will be able to raise such a big sum of money," said Haslauer.

Jorisch, an 83-year-old retiree living in Montreal, is Redlich's only heir.

Under a 1998 restitution law, Austria has returned some 10,000 Nazi-stolen paintings to the descendants of their former owners.

Most notorious was the restitution of another painting by Austria's Gustav Klimt, the 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which the Austrian state was forced to return to the heirs of its previous owner in 2006, after a lengthy legal battle.

According to Haslauer, many more stolen paintings adorn Austrian living rooms: "If these pictures were owned by state museums, they would no doubt have to be returned," he noted. -- AFP

Japan Jews Staying Put as Relief Funds Flow

Israeli medical personnel check
on a baby near disaster area in Japan check.
IDF Photo
Community leader says life goes on at Tokyo community center as U.S. Jews send millions for relief.

In his 16 years living in Tokyo, Phillip Rosenfeld has seen a few earthquakes shake Japan’s capital.

But when the ground started shaking and buildings swaying on March 11, he immediately knew this one was different.

“This was much more severe than anything that happened for a very, very long time,” said the Cleveland native who runs a travel business based in Tokyo and was with a friend spending his first day in Japan. “When the earthquake struck I was walking down the street and just stood in place as the ground began to sway more and more.

" As people started rushing out of the surrounding buildings and I realized how strong the earthquake was, as a precaution, I moved away from the seven or eight story building I was standing in front of as it is around forty years old. The utility poles started to sway. It was a nerve-wracking experience.” -- Adam Dickter, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

The Archbishop and The Chancellor

Dolan and Eisen agree that Catholics and Jews need to focus more on common concerns and less on past grievances.
JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen and Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Arnold Eisen, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, engaged in a dialogue at the seminary last week with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan after the archbishop delivered an address on Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States. The Jewish Week later asked him to react to the archbishop’s remarks. --
Stewart Ain, NY Jewish Week

To read the whole dialogue, click here.

Israeli Ex-Pats Adjust to Being Jewish in Canada

When starting a new life in a foreign country, it’s normal to face challenges in adapting to a different culture, language, and climate.
Rabbi Israel Landa teaches children how to shake a lulav on Sukkot.
Ronen Kedem photo
But some Israelis who immigrated to Toronto years ago didn’t realize how different the concept of belonging to a Jewish community would be here compared to the environment they left behind.

Ora Shulman, 51, said that when she and her husband decided to move to Toronto in the mid-1980s, she quickly learned that feeling Jewish in Toronto takes more of an effort than it does in Israel.  -- Sheri Shefa, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

As Need Grows, Passover Packages On The Rise

Requests for free seder food spike throughout the city; elderly, working poor, sandwich generation hit hard.
Project Eliezer’s Gideon Bari and Ellen Warshall of the Greater Five Towns Kosher Food Pantry
For thousands of New Yorkers this week, there was no freedom from want at Passover.

At seders from Marine Park, Brooklyn, to Cedarhurst in the Five Towns, more of the ritual food that lined the dining room and kitchen tables was in the form of handouts than at any time in recent memory, say social service providers. And the food is coming from a growing number of Jewish communal agencies trying to cope with increased need levels as the recession drags on.

The 11th Plague, it turns out, is a sputtering economy.

“It’s a tough time and for those who are suffering the economic downturn it is terribly difficult,” said Cynthia Zalisky, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council. “I have been here six years, and there is no question that this has been the most difficult and extreme year for the community. We had a spike of 30 percent in the last 18 months from people needing our help across the borough — seniors on fixed incomes, low-income families, immigrant families and the unemployed middle class.” -- Stewart Ain, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Opinion: France’s Ban, and Israel’s Burka Problem

French Fashion? Kenza Drider speaks to the media in front of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral on April 11, defying a new French law banning the wearing of full-facial veils in public. She became the first person arrested under the new law.
Getty Images
Israel, and particularly its rabbis, could learn from France’s ban on face veils. With this new law France has made a powerful statement about the level of integration it expects from Muslim citizens, and about the status of women in its society.

Israel’s religious sector needs to make similar statements. The target would not be the country’s Muslim citizens, very few of whom wear face veils (though exact numbers are unknown), but the bizarre and dangerous cult of Jewish women who have recently taken it upon themselves to wear burkas and other forms of face veils. They must be stopped in order to prevent the practice spreading to mainstream Haredi society.

The phenomenon was virtually unknown to the general public before 2005, when a strictly Orthodox man appealed to a Jerusalem rabbinic court for a divorce because his wife had taken to covering her entire face — including her eyes — “for reasons of modesty.” The rabbis granted his request, concluding that the woman suffered from a “serious mental disturbance.” -- Miriam Shaviv, Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

Send in the Robots to Pick the Ripest Fruit

In future, greenhouse peppers, orchard fruits
and wine grapes, could all be picked by robot.

Israel's Ben-Gurion University gets $1.3 million grant to help develop ‘Clever Robots for Crops' that will harvest only the ripest fruits and vegetables. -- ISRAEL21c Staff

To read the complete story, click here.

Four Chefs Offer Up a Different Taste of Peace

Four master chefs, four religious traditions: A multiethnic culinary team believes that peace begins in the stomach.

The four members of Taste of Peace representing Israel at the Culinary World Cup competition.
"If you eat together, from there the peace will come," says Charlie Fadida, the Jewish executive chef at the Sheraton Tel Aviv and one of the quartet of master chefs in an Israeli initiative called Taste of Peace.

The team also includes Sarkis Yacoubian, an Armenian chef instructor from Jaffa; Arab Christian Johnny Goric, executive chef at the Intercontinental Resort in Jericho; and Muslim Arab Imad Shourbaji, Fadida's sous chef.

Following the international Villeroy & Boch 2010 Culinary World Cup competition in Luxembourg last November, where they garnered three gold medals and a diploma of honor, the foursome was invited to prepare a lavish meal at the home of a European ambassador - each preparing one course.

"We work together more than 10 hours a day," says Goric. "We see each other more than our families." As they blend flavors and ingredients, they also blend their own cultures and heritages in the hope for peace. -- Harvey Stein, Israel21c

To view the accompanying video, click on picture below.

Israel Speaks Arabic

The Facebook page which was launched in early January, entitled "Israel speaks Arabic" in Arabic, was opened by the Foreign Ministry's Media and Public Affairs Department and is devoted exclusively to Arabic-speaking audiences. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

Canadian B’nai Brith Audit Reports Increase in Antisemitism

“Antisemitism continues to gain traction” in Canada, spurred by “global influences” and disseminated by new technologies, says a report released last week by B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights.

The 2010 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the 29th iteration of the report, also finds that the impact of these incidents are lessening over time. “With several notable exceptions, the general public appears to be getting desensitized to everyday expressions of antisemitism, while members of the Jewish community appear to have internalized this message, becoming increasingly hesitant to report anti-Jewish incidents,” the report states. -- Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stones Thrown at Netanya Masorti Worshipers on Shabbat

Masorti (Conservative) worshipers exiting their synagogue in Netanya on Friday night were stoned – just a few days after a Reform synagogue in Ra’anana was vandalized by persons unknown.

Members of the Beit Yisrael congregation were met by youths who threw rocks at them at the end of the Shabbat service. According to eyewitnesses, the youths – who appeared to be religious – attempted to enter the building, but were deterred by the security cameras that were installed on the site, following two previous attacks.

The youths then camped out behind a van parked across the street, and when the people exited the synagogue, pelted them with stones and fled the scene by foot.

None of the worshipers were wounded, and no damage befell the building. A complaint was filed with the police, who will be securing the synagogue soon. -- Jonah Mandel, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

New Meds Could Stop Cancer by Cutting Off Its Blood

Researchers at Tel Aviv University are developing a new family of medicines that could provide preventive treatment for cancer, or turn existing cancer into a chronic disease that one can live with for years.

The study is based on the idea that doctors can prevent a cancerous tumor from growing bigger by damaging the process of angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels that provide the tumor with oxygen and nutrients.

The researchers tested the efficacy of innovative polymeric carriers designed to deliver medicines directly to the cancer cells. In this way, the medicines do not harm healthy tissue and the amount of medicine required is significantly reduced, as are its side effects.

The carriers were developed by Dr. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Dr. Paula Ofek and colleagues at Berlin University. They were connected to a siRNA-type gene-suppressant and injected into laboratory mice with cancerous tumors. The results were very encouraging: the carriers took the siRNA directly to the cancer cells, and the compound passed through the cell walls and silenced the target genes, without causing the poisoning symptoms that usually accompany cancer treatments.

The researchers now hope to do the same thing with siRNA that can silence a gene that plays a key role in angiogenesis.
Dr. Satchi-Fainaro said that this kind of treatment could revolutionize cancer therapy. People who are not sick but are at high risk of developing cancer – like former cancer patients or carriers of certain genetic mutations – will be able to receive preventive treatment. In people who have cancer, the medicines will keep the tumor in a state of “hibernation” and turn the cancer into a chronic disease that can be managed for many years, while maintaining a high quality of life. 

From Israel, the Smallest Camera in the World

Medigus CMOS Camera: The tiny camera (below) in comparison to a regular pen (above)
Since the dawn of modern medicine, doctors have pursed the use oftechnology to help them see into the human body. A variety of means serve justthis purpose: X-rays, CT scans, optical fibers and more, but the greatestbreakthrough in the field can be attributed to a unique technology developed bythe Israeli company Medigus. -- Lior Eila, IsraCast

To view complete story, click here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The DNA Speaks

Are Jews a "nation" or a "people"? The Hebrew term ‘am means both.  Both terms, moreover, have been subjected to disapprobation in our time—although not nearly to the extent of "race," a term that Jews themselves stopped using nearly a century ago. How, then, are we to think about the mounting genetic evidence that points to Jewish biological continuity over time?

The field of genetics has been offering up sensational new observations about the historical record of Jewish origins, exile, and migrations.  -- Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily

Click here to read the complete article.

Tel Aviv University and Google Team Up to Make your Computers Sorry

Project initiated by TAU's School of Computer Science and funded by the U.S. internet giant would make computers learn from past mistakes in order to better anticipate the future. -- Ron Ben-Tovim, Haaretz

Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, Nov. 10, 2010.
Photo by: AP
To read the complete article, click here.

One Heart, One Mind

Children of terror from around the world recently spent eight days in the Big City and learned to be kids again.
Photo by Courtesy
Under normal circumstances, Terry Hardy, 18, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Noy Ilan, 17, of Rishon Lezion would have never met and would have never had anything in common.

But the brutal acts of terrorism that struck both their families changed their lives forever, and recently an organization called One Heart Global brought them together for eight days in New York to learn from each other along with more than a dozen other young victims from seven countries.

Hardy’s grandfather, three uncles, an aunt and three cousins were murdered by paramilitary groups in the conflict between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland that ended in 1998. Eight members of Ilan’s family, including her brother and sister, were killed in March 2002 when a suicide bomber detonated himself in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood where they had celebrated her cousin’s bar mitzva.

Before then, Ilan never knew that there was terrorism in Northern Ireland and Hardy knew nothing about the Arab-Israeli conflict and had never met a Jew. Now they know each other’s stories and consider each other friends. -- Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Egyptian Jew Recounts her Family’s Exodus

Ethy Lebow was born Esther Anavy in Egypt in 1948.

When she was nine, her family was forced to leave Egypt and flee to Israel.

“The consequences of my life are due to a decision taken by my great-grandfather. At the end of the 19th century my great-grandparents, who were Sephardic Jews, lived in Bulgaria, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” Lebow said.

“My great-grandfather got an attractive job offer in an Egyptian sugar plant. The whole family moved to Hawamdiyya, a small community near Giza, and lived there for over half of a century.”

Lebow describes her childhood in Egypt as pleasant and abundant. The men in the community worked for most of the day in the sugar plant, and the women were housewives who employed servants for housework. It was like living in a British colony, she said. -- Yosef Tatassa, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Five Myths about Planned Parenthood

I was a Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive, supervising a network of clinics in Upstate New York, during the early days of this terrible recession. We ran deficits, cut hours, closed centers and laid off staff members. In a recession, things get very difficult — more and more people are in need, while government funds lag and donations dwindle. But still we did not turn patients away, even if they could not pay. At the same time, we had to fight political battles to preserve women’s rights to basic care and information about their sexual health. Those battles continue: Thursday, the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood permanently; the Senate opposed that measure. Amid the debate, let’s address some of the misperceptions about this nearly 100-year-old health-care organization. -- Clare Coleman, Washington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

McCormick Stopping Spice Sales to Iran

Spice giant McCormick has agreed to stop selling its spices to Iran, following the efforts of a Baltimore Jewish activist.

Jay Bernstein, an attorney and community activist, read in The New York Times article last December that despite sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Treasury was still allocating licenses to American companies to conduct business with the Islamic Republic. One of those companies, he learned, was the Baltimore-based McCormick & Co., founded in 1889 by a Jewish immigrant.

“It seemed that what we could do is draw attention to McCormick and get them to reconsider,” Bernstein said.

In January, Bernstein wrote to Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a McCormick board member, asking that he "exert" his influence on McCormick to "do the right thing and end all business dealings with and in Iran."

Shortly after, he received word that McCormick would “cease such sales as long as Iran is subject to the comprehensive sanctions programs imposed by the U.S. government.”

Jim Lynn, McCormick’s director of corporate communications, told the Baltimore Jewish Times that McCormick distributes its spices to some 100 countries. But he said the company could not get assurances by certain parties that the products would not be sold by companies connected in some ways to companies that had been blacklisted, so McCormick decided not to sell in Iran.

"Is it going to bring down a regime? No,” Bernstein said. “But McCormick showed a great example of corporate responsibility. And if more companies did what they are doing, the regime in Iran would feel more pressure. It’s gratifying that they were responsive.”  -- Baltimore Jewish News