Friday, June 3, 2011

New York Times New Editor: Jill Abramson, World’s Most Powerful Jewish Woman

New York Times new editor, Jill Abramson
This morning the New York Times announced that Jill Abramson will take over as the newspaper’s new editor from Bill Keller, who will become a writer for the paper. This makes Abramson the first woman to lead the paper in its history. We have it from reliable sources that Jill Abramson is Jewish—though she’s been quoted saying that in her childhood home, the family religion was the New York Times.

“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said in the Times’ story. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.” (I, as the descendent of a long line of New York Jews, can relate to that, having grown up similarly—newspapers remain sacred trusts in my family.)

We’ll happily claim her, unless told otherwise, as she becomes one of the two most powerful women in the world—Hillary Clinton being the other. When the New York Times publishes a story, it can change the world—for better or worse.

It will be interesting to watch how the paper—and its online presence—will change in the Abramson reign. To be sure she’s been enormously influential already as managing editor, and in recent months she’s been overseeing the Times’ online operations. So, will women’s voices grow stronger? Will we have less macho reporting—should we? There’s no doubt Abramson’s as tough as the next guy, having served both as an investigative reporter and Washington Bureau Chief. And she’ll have former D.C. bureau chief Dean Baquet as her number two. A great new team, and a departure for the top ranks, that’s for sure.

The look of the Grey Lady is sure changing, and we’ll be watching how the makeover works out… -- Susan Freudenheim, Jewish Journal

Op-Ed: From Father to Son, the Netanyahu Legacy in Washington

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confers with his father, 99 year-old Benzion Netanyahu,
on Feb. 8 in Jerusalem.
The enthusiastic response that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received when he addressed the U.S. Congress on May 24 came from both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans both took part in the numerous standing ovations. Afterward, Democrats and Republicans made statements criticizing President Obama’s positions and supporting Israel’s.

But perhaps it is not so surprising that the prime minister was able to attract such bipartisan support because his father accomplished something similar 67 years ago.

In the summer of 1944, 34-year-old Benzion Netanyahu was the executive director of the American wing of Ze’ev Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionist movement.

One of Benzion Netanyahu’s tasks was to help mobilize support in Washington for free Jewish immigration to Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state. That was no small job at a time when the British opposed Jewish immigration and statehood, and the Roosevelt administration preferred not to intervene. -- Rafael Medoff, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: The U.N. Can't Deliver a Palestinian State

David Gothard
It had been quite a scramble, the prelude to the vote on Nov. 29, 1947, on the question of the partition of Palestine. The United Nations itself was only two years old and had just 56 member states; the Cold War was gathering force, and no one was exactly sure how the two pre-eminent powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, would vote. The Arab and Muslim states were of course unalterably opposed, for partition was a warrant for a Jewish state.

In the end, the vote broke for partition, the U.S. backed the resolution, and two days later the Soviet Union followed suit. It was a close call: 10 states had abstained, 13 had voted against, 33 were in favor, only two votes over the required two-thirds majority.

Now, some six decades later, the Palestinians are calling for a vote in the next session of the General Assembly, in September, to ratify a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. In part, this is an appropriation by the Palestinians of the narrative of Zionism. The vote in 1947 was viewed as Israel's basic title to independence and statehood. The Palestinians and the Arab powers had rejected partition and chosen the path of war. Their choice was to prove calamitous.

By the time the guns had fallen silent, the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, had held its ground against the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Its forces stood on the shores of the Red Sea in the south, and at the foot of the Golan Heights in the north. Palestinian society had collapsed under the pressure of war. The elites had made their way to neighboring lands. Rural communities had been left atomized and leaderless. The cities had fought, and fallen, alone.

Palestine had become a great Arab shame. Few Arabs were willing to tell the story truthfully, to face its harsh verdict. Henceforth the Palestinians would live on a vague idea of restoration and return. No leader had the courage to tell the refugees who had left Acre and Jaffa and Haifa that they could not recover the homes and orchards of their imagination. -- Foud Ajami, Wall Street Journal

To read the complete article, click here.

U.S. Won’t Participate in Durban III, State Dept. Says

 The United States will not participate in the U.N.'s-sponsored Durban III conference this September, the State Department said.

In a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joseph Macmanus, acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, confirmed that the United States would not attend the conference, which in its previous iterations has been a forum for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. JTA obtained a copy of the letter.

In November, the United States voted against a U.N. resolution to establish the conference. The following month, Gillibrand led a coalition of 18 senators in signing a letter to the American ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, urging the U.S. not to participate in the conference, scheduled for Sept. 21 in New York.

The Durban III conference is meant to mark the 10-year anniversary of the U.N.'s World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, during which the delegations from the United States and Israel walked out in protest as the tenor turned increasingly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

"The United States will not participate in the Durban Commemoration," Macmanus wrote in the letter. "In December, we voted against the resolution establishing this event because the Durban process included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we did not want to see that commemorated."

Gillibrand applauded the decision in a statement Wednesday.

"I commend the Obama Administration decision to withdraw from this event," Gillibrand said. "We all witnessed how extreme anti-Semitic and anti-American voices took over Durban I and Durban II, and we should expect the same thing to happen with Durban III."

The U.S. and Israel, along with seven other countries, boycotted Durban II in 2009, during which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a keynote speech assailing Zionism.

In November, Canada was the first country to announce it would not participate in Durban III. Israel announced the following month that it would boycott the conference. -- JTA

In Kabul's Only Synagogue, Afghan Merchants Set Up Shop

A restaurant built in Kabul, Afghanistan's synagogue
Photo by: REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghanistan's last Jew opens synagogue for business; "some customers know about the Jew upstairs, but they don't care," one merchant says. -- Reuters via Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

JTS Women Grads Struggling For Pulpits

Francine Green Roston says
she faced sexual harassment
as assistant rabbi of
a large suburban congregation.
After some improvement in recent years, gender bias charge resurfaces this year from seminarians.

When she began looking for jobs in February, Gail Schwartz knew she had the skills to be a pulpit rabbi. After all, she had served as an assistant rabbi at several synagogues while studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

But after interviewing with 11 Conservative synagogues that were looking for both solo and assistant rabbis, and getting only one callback, Schwartz (not her real name) was stunned.

“It was confusing because I had demonstrated an ability to handle the job,” she said.

Asked if she believed gender bias might have been a factor, Schwartz replied: “I don’t see how it couldn’t have been when every single man [in her graduating class] has a job, only two women have full-time jobs and three other women students are still looking. It just doesn’t add up.” -- Stewart Ain, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete story, click here.

Home Test Tip-Off to a Heart Attack

Israeli-made home test lets people determine if their chest pain, shortness of breath or nausea means they're heading for a cardiac arrest. -- David Shamah, Israel21c

Early diagnosis of a heart attack can save lives.
To read the complete story, click here.

Dear Canadian Prime Minister Harper

When it comes to the Middle East, too often there's been an inability to distinguish between the despot and the democrat, the arsonist and the firefighter, among those who should know better.

Too often the politics of principle have yielded to expediency, and truth has been thrown to the wind.

And too often moral courage has been trumped by moral ambiguity at best, cowardice at worst….

Since becoming Canada's prime minister in 2006, when it comes to the Middle East, you've brought "Moral Courage and a Hankering to Learn the Truth" to your administration. -- David Harris, Executive Director, AJC, Huffington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

X-Men: First Class—Top Moments from the Most Jewish Superhero Movie Ever

Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class
As "X-Men: First Class” continues to glean first class reviews, it’s worth noting that the mutant saga is perhaps the most Jewish superhero film to grace the silver screen:  which makes sense considering the movie marks the return of producer Bryan Singer to the franchise. (He directed the first two “X-Men” films, but not this time. Now he gets a writing credit.)  As a gay and Jewish filmmaker, his work has long reflected his own outsider-group status.

The Marvel Comics saga depicts the origins of the rivalry between telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender)—who can manipulate magnetic fields—from their very different childhoods in the 1940s.  -- Naomi Pfefferman, Jewish Journal

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

Why Can’t California Students Go to Israel?

A Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rothberg International School student
works at an archeological dig site.
How do you nudge the largest four-year college system in the United States to change its mind and greenlight its students for study at Israeli universities?

Answer: It takes the combined voices of politicians, student activists, a raft of Jewish organizations, influential citizens, and Israeli diplomats and emissaries.

Take the California State University system (CSU or Cal State), with 23 campuses and 420,000 students, which shut down its Study Abroad program in Israel nine years ago, during the height of the Second Intifada.

CSU — not to be confused with the University of California system, with Berkeley and UCLA among its 10 campuses — based its 2002 decision on a U.S. State Department warning against travel to Israel, which currently also targets such countries as Mexico, Kenya, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. -- Tom Tugend, JewishJournal

To read the complete article, click here.

The Russian Wave

Arriving from Moscow.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, some one million Jews have come to Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU), enlarging the country's population by 25 percent and forming the largest concentration in the world of Russian Jews.  They have left their mark in almost every walk of life. And yet, as a group, they are still something of a mystery.

Sustained inquiry into this great Russian immigration is still in its early stages, and so a recent issue of the journal Israel Affairs, devoted to just that effort, is especially welcome.  This is not the first collection of its kind, but it significantly advances our basic understanding of a massive and complicated movement of people—and of the mirror it holds up to Israeli society. -- Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete article, click here.

Website Promotes Matchmaking in Montreal

Rabbi Yisroel Bernath
Rabbi Yisroel Bernath is quick to point out that irrespective of his own level of religious observance, the vast majority of the 783-and-counting young Jewish singles who have registered so far on a new website he launched are secular.

“I have only one interest – for Jews to marry Jews” regardless of levels of observance, said Rabbi Bernath, the director of Chabad of NDG and Loyola Campus in Monkland Village. Rabbi Bernath is also a chaplain at Loyola Campus of Concordia University.

A 29-year-old native of Chicago, he moved to Montreal in 2005 with his wife, Sara.  In his hometown, he said, most young Jewish singles “don’t seem to care about meeting Jews,” which he has been delighted to discover is not the case in Montreal. Montreal has about 20,000 Jewish singles between the ages of 20 and 39.-- David Lazarus, Canadian jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

IDF Names 1st Female Major-General

Brigadier-General Orna Barbivai to be promoted, head the IDF's Personnel Directorate

Brigadier-General Orna Barbivai  Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
 History in the making: Brigadier-General Orna Barbivai was named the IDF's first ever female major general Thursday, as part of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz' new nominations among the General Staff.

Barbivai, who serves at the IDF Personnel Directorate, was named the new head of the Personnel Directorate and will replace current Directorate Chief Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the nomination. -- Hanan Greenberg, Ynetnews

To read the complete story, click here.

Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace

This video details Israel's critical security need for defensible borders to prevent threats to its existence.

To view this video, click on image below

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Two-Wheeler Tel Aviv

Israel's commerce and culture center rolls out a citywide bike rental program to encourage fitness while easing traffic and pollution. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c
With 150 bike stations around Tel Aviv, residents and will find it much easier to get about the city under their own steam.
To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: In the Tent, or Out: That is Still the J-Street Question

J-Street needs to show us that it cares about Israel more than it cares about dialogue with Israel's enemies

[Note:  On May 3rd, Daniel Gordis addressed the "J-Street Leadership Mission to Israel and Palestine."  The following column is based on his remarks that day.]

Good morning and welcome to Jerusalem.  It's a pleasure to meet with this Leadership Mission; I understand that there are some first time visitors to Israel among you, so a particular welcome to those of you who've never been here before.

Before we got seated, one member of your group conveyed a message from the Israeli Consul General in his home community.  The message was that I shouldn't speak to you.  As you can imagine, I received similar advice from a wide array of people after I received your invitation; but I've chosen to ignore it.  As most of you know, I disagree strongly with much of what you do.  But I think that we have an obligation to meet with people with whom we disagree.  Given the extent of the forces aligned against Israel, seeking to delegitimize the very idea of a Jewish State, the pro-Israel camp needs a big tent.  Neither Israel nor the Jewish People will survive if we work only with those with whom we agree.  A big tent, by definition, means including people whom we disagree passionately, but who still share our basic goals. -- Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President of the Shalem Center, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

In Belgium, WWII Suddenly an Issue Again

Brussels, Belgium. Feud between
Flemish and Francophone politicians Photo: Ranny Shalev
Old wounds open again as extremist Flemish Interest party pushes bill on amnesty for collaboration with Nazis to senate floor. Jewish groups shocked by justice minister's advice to 'forget' something so closely linked to Holocaust. -- Associated Press via Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

A Human Touch for Computer-Generated Voices

A former concert pianist, Gershon Silbert applied
his musical skills to technology to create Vivotext.

Israel's Vivotext develops the world's first artificial text-to-speech system that actually sounds like a real person is talking. -- David Halevi, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

Jewish MP Named to Canadian Cabinet

Neophyte Conservative MP Joe Oliver’s win in Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence riding against Liberal incumbent Joe Volpe in this month’s federal election has apparently won him favour with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Last week, Harper announced his new cabinet and Oliver was appointed minister of natural resources.

As one of only three Jewish MPs in the new Parliament – Conservative MP for York Centre Mark Adler and stalwart Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler are the others – Oliver takes over an important portfolio despite his rookie status.

In related news, Peter Kent, Conservative MP for Thornhill, the riding with the country’s largest proportion of Jewish voters, retained his post as environment minister. -- Andy Levy-Ajeznkopf, Canadian Jewish News

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jerusalem: 4000 Years in 5 Minutes

Jerusalem, a mosaic of different peoples, faiths, and nationalities. Nevertheless, despite this diversity, under the sovereignty of Israel, Jerusalem is a city that works. But has it always been this way?

To view the video, click on image below.

The Legacy of "Uncle Mickey" Lives On

Just like “Goodnight Moon” or “The Cat In the Hat,” the story of Mickey Marcus is one I know by heart, one that has reverberated in my head since I was a little girl. Though he died long before I was born, “Uncle Mickey” was still very much a presence in our family, to the point where I sometimes thought of pouring a glass of wine for him instead of Elijah at Passover.

David “Mickey” Marcus was the son of Romanian immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended West Point and served in the U.S. Army, where he was part of a regiment that liberated the concentration camps. Later he earned a law degree and worked in Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's office in New York, helping prosecute mobsters. -- Lilit Marcus, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Israeli Raptors May Soon Soar Again

Now hatching at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo: chicks of the endangered griffon vulture, soon to be released into the wild.

The griffon vulture was once very common in Israel. Fifty years ago, more than 1,000 pairs bred on cliffs from the Golan and Galilee in the north to the Judean Hills and Negev Desert in the south. Today, due to a variety of factors, only about 40 pairs remain, and the vulture is on the edge of extinction.

But efforts are underway to improve the situation, thanks to the National Center for Artificial Incubation of Raptor Eggs, operating at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo since 1998. Every year, the center incubates up to 15 vulture eggs. Recently, the first chick of 2011 hatched.

The chicks are fed using a special stuffed vulture device, so they don't get used to human caretakers. The zoo does all it can to ensure the young raptors will have the best possible chance of survival once they're released back into the wild. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view accompanying video, click below.

Op-ed: The Scottish Disgrace

Israeli books banned Photo: Index Open
The Scottish decision to ban Israeli books reminiscent of Shoah era. -- Giulio Meotti, Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Rebbe to Followers: Burn your iPhones

iPhone. Not kosher Photo: Tal Shahar
Leader of Dushinsky Hasidic dynasty threatens to expel members caught with 'non-kosher' cellular phones, computer with Internet connection. -- Ari Galahar, Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Beneath Jerusalem, an Underground City Takes Shape

AP – In this May 17, 2011 photo, a view of Zedekiah's Cave
s seen in Jerusalem's Old City.
Underneath the crowded alleys and holy sites of old Jerusalem, hundreds of people are snaking at any given moment through tunnels, vaulted medieval chambers and Roman sewers in a rapidly expanding subterranean city invisible from the streets above.

At street level, the walled Old City is an energetic and fractious enclave with a physical landscape that is predominantly Islamic and a population that is mainly Arab.

Underground Jerusalem is different: Here the noise recedes, the fierce Middle Eastern sun disappears, and light comes from fluorescent bulbs. There is a smell of earth and mildew, and the geography recalls a Jewish city that existed 2,000 years ago. -- Matti Friedman, Associated Press via

To read the complete article, click here.

World Press Photo Exhibit Shuts after Lebanon Objects to Israeli’s Work

Members of the World Press Photo Beirut exhibition organizing committee, remove the won prize pictures after The World Press Photo has decided to stop an exhibition in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday May 20, 2011. The World Press Photo has decided to halt an exhibition in Beirut after authorities ordered them not to show the work of an Israeli photographer who won a prize, the group’s project.
Hussein Malla / Associated Press
A World Press Photo exhibit in Beirut is shutting down early after Lebanese authorities ordered the removal of an Israeli photographer’s prize-winning work, an organizer of the exhibit said Friday.

Erik de Kruijf, a World Press project manager, said the Netherlands-based organization preferred to close the exhibit 10 days early rather than face censorship.

“For a week it was no problem and then someone noticed that he is an Israeli photographer,” de Kruijf told The Associated Press. “We cannot allow censorship of any kind so that’s why we decided to take everything down. -- Associated Press via Washington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Chickpea Pick: DePaul Administration Backs Sabra Hummus

The Sabra brand of hummus will continue to be served in cafeterias on the campus of DePaul University in Chicago.

The university administration made the decision, announced Monday, following a recommendation of the university's Fair Business Practices committee and following a nonbinding student referendum last week.

The Sabra brand of the chickpea dip had been served until last November, when the pro-Palestinian student group Students for Justice in Palestine objected because Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group. Strauss has publicly supported the Israel Defense Forces troops, and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israel's Golani and Givati brigades. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tour Reveals Layers of Shanghai's Jewish History

Star of David on door in courtyard of Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum  Photo: AP
Sign on otherwise unremarkable building in eastern Chinese city offers clue to incredible story of thousands of Jews who fled Nazis, found refuge in what was Far East's only Jewish ghetto. -- Associated Press via Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Five Young Jews Selected for Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faiths Act Fellowship

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, recently appointed a UN Foundation “Malaria Champion” has announced that five young Jews – selected from Canada, the UK, US, and India – will join his Faith Foundation’s youth leadership program, the Faiths Act Fellowship.

These young people will be tasked with building understanding between different religious communities by mobilizing them around the common cause of eradicating deaths from malaria, which this year alone caused more than 750,000 unnecessary deaths.

In Canada, Davina Finn, a 21-year-old Jewish woman from Kingston, will be paired with Anna Sui, a 27-year-old Christian woman from Thornhill, and they will work together for the next year at the University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Centre.

Two Jews will be based in the US, two in the UK, with Finn in Canada. -- Canadian Jewish Tribune

To read the complete article, click here.

Conservative Movement Ordains First Openly Gay Rabbi

The Conservative movement ordained its first openly gay rabbi during ceremonies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Rachel Isaacs, 28, was ordained at JTS on May 19. She told the Forward that she began her rabbinical training at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, but switched to the Conservative seminary after it began admitting openly gay and lesbian students in 2007.

Isaacs will serve as the half-time rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville, Maine, where she has already served as a rabbinic intern. She will also work part-time as the Jewish chaplain of Colby College, where she will be on the faculty as well, the Forward reports.

Other gay and lesbian rabbis have been ordained by JTS, but they kept their sexual preference under wraps to avoid expulsion. In recent years, some gay and lesbian students say their sexual identity was known to other students and faculty, but could not be openly acknowledged until the college officially changed its policy.

Following a 2006 decision by the Conservative movement's Law Committee to accept gay rabbis, JTS and the American Jewish University in Los Angeles began admitting openly gay students. The movement's Israeli seminary does not.

The Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal seminaries also ordain openly gay and lesbian clergy. Orthodox seminaries do not. -- JTA

Israel's Arabs to Get TV Station

Not just al-Jazeera (archives) Photo: Al-Jazeera
The Communications Ministry says Israel's Arab minority will soon have its own Arabic language TV station for the first time.

The ministry recently granted the station the first license for an independent Arab broadcaster. The ministry said Sunday that Hala TV will begin broadcasting in about three months.

Israel's state TV broadcasts several hours a day in Arabic, and Arabic satellite channels like al-Jazeera are also available. -- Associated Press

To read the complete article, click here.

Wyatt Earp’s Jewish Wife Gets Her Due

All-female musical puts spotlight on role of women in Wild West.

Frontier women: Scene from “I Married Wyatt Earp,” directed by Cara Reichel. Gerry Goodstein
She was the wife of one of the most famous gunslingers in the history of the Wild West, but today few have heard of her. Josephine Marcus escaped her Jewish family in San Francisco and married Wyatt Earp, whose extraordinary legend she helped to craft and perpetuate. In “I Married Wyatt Earp,” an all-female musical now running Off Broadway, she finally gets her due.

Directed by Cara Reichel, the 11-woman musical puts in the foreground the essential role of women in creating the tumultuous world of the Wild West. With book and lyrics by Sheilah Rae and Thomas Edward West, and music by the award-winning composer Michele Brourman, “I Married Wyatt Earp” seeks to dispel the image of the Western frontier as an exclusively male preserve, a place dominated by bands of men who fought endless bloody battles over territory and treasure. Carolyn Mignini (“Tintypes,” “Fiddler on the Roof”) stars as Josie, with Heather MacRae (“Hair,” “Falsettos”), Anastasia Barzee, Carol Linnea Johnson and Cara Massey featured in the cast.  -- Ted Merwin, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete article, click here.

From the Four Corners

Jewish child in Uganda
Are most Jews white? The impression that this is so is partially the result of the calamitous and decimating events of the 20th century, in which the great centers of Europe were lost to Nazi genocide while those of the Middle East and North Africa were lost to Islam. But beyond today's primary nodes of the United States and Israel, as was recently confirmed by the annual conference of the Bechol Lashon initiative in San Francisco, other Jewish cultures continue to exist and, to a greater or lesser extent, flourish.

The concerns of Be'chol Lashon (which means "in every language") are reflected in the rabbis involved in its activities. Colombian-born Juan Mejia undertakes outreach throughout Mexico and Latin America to the descendants of Jews forcibly converted centuries ago to Christianity but still retaining Jewish memories and practices handed down over the generations. Gershom Sizomu, ordained at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, is a leader of the thousand-strong Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, who converted to Judaism en masse in 1919. Capers Funnye leads the Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago, a traditional Black Israelite congregation that also includes white members. -- Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete story, click here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Canada Takes Firm Pro-Israel Line at G8 Summit

Photo by Reuters
Group of Eight leaders had to soften a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations because Canada objected to a specific mention of 1967 borders, diplomats said on Friday.

Canada's right-leaning Conservative government has adopted a staunchly pro-Israel position in international negotiations since coming to power in 2006, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying Canada will back Israel whatever the cost.

Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said Ottawa had insisted that no mention of Israel's pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders' final communique, even though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.

"The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week," one European diplomat said. -- Reuters via Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

More than Meats the Eye / Is the Steak in the Window Kosher?

In April 1994, Shas made a deal with the Labor Party, which led the government at the time, and together the two pushed through the "Kashrut Law" in the dead of night. It isn't that Labor thought the law was a good idea. But its leaders liked the idea of being in opposition even less, and quailed before the usual Haredi threat - pass the law or they'd bring down the government.

One of the central articles in the Kashrut Law states that Israel will only import kosher meat. Israel's importers subsequently send hundreds of kashrut inspectors - with their families in tow - to slaughterhouses and processing plants around the world.

Their job: to enforce the mitzvah of kosher slaughter.

In parallel with enacting the law, the Knesset agreed to let Palestinian meat importers import halal (the Islamic version of kosher ) meat through Israeli ports. That meat is of course designated for the Palestinian Authority area. But does it actually go there?  -- Amiram Cohen, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Operation Solomon: One of Israel’s Best Chapters

Asaf Agmon
“The largest Jewish school in the world, perhaps ever, was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1991,” Asaf Agmon told The CJN in an exclusive interview in Israel last week.

Agmon is the CEO of Israel’s Fisher Brothers Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies – a non-profit organization that receives funding from the Israeli Ministry of Science and works with NASA to bring Israeli experiments into space.

He described the chaotic, tumultuous scene some 20 years ago, in May 1991, in the compound in and surrounding the Israeli Embassy in the capital of Ethiopia.

His was an authoritative description. For he knew it, first-hand, as the commander of the daring overnight rescue mission named Operation Solomon that brought 14,325 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel during a span of merely 36 hours from May 24 to 25.
-- Mordechai Ben Dat, Canadian Jewish News

To read the complete story, click here.

The Artificial Nose that Can Detect Cancer

Hossam Haick has developed an artificial nose
that detects diseasebiomarkers passing
rom the bloodstream to the lungs and out through the breath.

Israeli chemical engineer Hossam Haick is the inventor of a ‘nano-artificial nose' that can detect cancer and kidney disease. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Isarel 21c

To read the complete article,click here.

Israel No.1 investor in R&D

Israel is still the world's top investor in R&D as a proportion of GDP in 2011, according to the World Competitiveness Index by Switzerland's IMD Business School.

Israel ranked 17 out of 59 countries in competitiveness overall, the same as in 2010.

Israel was also ranked first by IMD in the functioning of central banks.

"The Israeli economy continues to demonstrate robustness and stability compared with the world's leading economies," said Israeli Chambers of Commerce president Uriel Lynn. The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce represents IMD in Israel.

"The survey puts Israel among the top 20 countries, economically speaking, despite the challenges facing Israel over the coming year, such as reducing the public sector and spending, cutting bureaucracy, and the burden on the business sector, investment in infrastructure in the periphery, including in education, and boosting exports," added Lynn.

According to the Swiss study, Hong Kong and the US tied for first place in global competitiveness this year.
 -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Venezuelan Jews Protest Broadcast of "Protocols of Zion"

Venezuela’s largest Jewish advocacy group has protested to the government a state-run radio broadcast that positively referenced the anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

In a formal complaint filed this week with the Public Ministry, the Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations denounced the broadcast in which journalist Cristina Gonzalez read the infamous text and suggested that  listeners also should read it.

“Venezuelan Jews know that promoting this anti-Semitic document only sows hate and discrimination, violating the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” the confederation said in a statement. -- JTA

To read the complete article, click here.