Friday, June 10, 2011

Op Ed: Remembering Six Days in 1967

The anniversary of Israel's Six-Day War is a reminder why Israel cannot return to armistice borders
The Six-Day War furnished Israel with the territory and permanence necessary for achieving peace with Egypt and Jordan. It transformed Jerusalem from a divided backwater into a thriving capital, free for the first time to adherents of all faiths. It reconnected the Jewish people to our ancestral homeland in Judea and Samaria, inspiring many thousands to move there. But it also made us aware that another people -- the Palestinians -- inhabited that land and that we would have to share it.

As early as the summer of 1967, Israel proposed autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank and later, in 2000 and 2008, full statehood. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders rejected these offers. In 2005, Israel uprooted all 8,000 of its citizens living in Gaza, giving the Palestinians the opportunity for self-determination. Instead, they turned Gaza into a Hamas-run terrorist state that has launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Now, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank intends to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations without making peace. It has also united with Gaza's Hamas regime, which demands Israel's destruction.

In spite of the Palestinians' record of rejection and violence, Israel remains committed to the vision of two states living side by side in peace. But peace is predicated on security and on our ability to defend ourselves if the peace breaks down. Such provisions are crucial in the Middle East, where the governments of Israel's neighbors might change tomorrow. As such, we seek the demilitarization of the Palestinian state as well as a long-term IDF presence along the Jordan River to prevent rocket smuggling, as has occurred in Gaza. Moreover, we need defensible borders to ensure that Israel will never again pose an attractive target for attack. --Michael Oren, Israel Ambassador to the US,

To read the complete piece, click here.

New Day School Alternatives Set For Fall In N.J.

Parent labor, online classes keeping costs down in W. Orange, E. Brunswick.

The West Orange Cooperative Yeshiva. Photo courtesy of Janessa Wasserman
Aaron Spool used to have a lot of trouble sleeping.

A father of three young children, with another on the way, Spool — who lives in West Orange, N.J. — was kept up at night worrying about yeshiva tuition.

“For me, paying for day school is impossible. I have an MBA from the University of Michigan and work in finance, and I just can’t do it,” he told The Jewish Week. “If I can’t, then everyone else is going to have an issue, and I wanted to get ahead of the curve, to be proactive instead of reactive.

“I don’t want to be, oh, two kids in and we didn’t get a scholarship, so do I take another mortgage out?”

Determined to find a solution that wouldn’t compromise his children’s Jewish education, he began brainstorming with friends around the Shabbat table. -- Julie Wiener, NY Jewish Week

To read the complete story, click here.

Study Says Israelis Among "Happiest" in the World

What makes people happy? The question, which has been debated by philosophers for centuries, now is being tackled by international bureaucrats and the results are interesting, to say the least.

24/7 Wall St. analyzed the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Better Life Index to objectively determine the happiest countries in the world. The Index is based on 11 measurements of quality of life including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction. We made “life satisfaction” the cornerstone of our index because it is as good a proxy for “happiness” as the survey provides. We then compared “life satisfaction” scores to the other measurements to find those economic and socio-political realities that had the highest and lowest correlation to happiness….

9. IsraelLife satisfaction score: 8.71
Debt as a percentage of GDP: 74.7 percent (26th lowest)
Employment Rate: 4.23 (25th best)
Self-reported health: 8.29 (10th best)
Employees working long hours: 5.05 (29th best)
Disposable income: n/a
Educational attainment: 8.46 (12th best)
Life expectancy: 8.24 (8th best)

Israel is an outlier among OECD nations because it has a relatively high life satisfaction score, but performs poorly for many of the 19 quality of life measurements. For example, Israel has the sixth worst scores for student reading and the fourth worst scores for long hours worked, with 0.23 percent of workers maintaining extremely long hours compared to a OECD average of less than .1 percent. However, Israel’s score for household wealth (which measures the total worth of a family’s income and property after liabilities) is the fifth-highest across all nations on this list. Each household has an average estimated wealth of more than $62,000, compared to an average of less than $37,000. Part of the reason is low taxes — the country has an income tax rate of 6.3 percent of GDP, the sixth-lowest in the OECD. -- Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre,

 To read the complete article, click here.

B’nai Brith Calls Stats Canada Report on Hate Crimes "a Wake-Up Call"

B’nai Brith Canada is calling for action following the findings of a Stats Canada study based on police reports that documents a 42% increase in hate crimes overall in 2009 compared to 2008, with a particularly significant spike (71%) in crimes motivated by religion targeting the Jewish community.

“We are very disturbed by the findings of this study,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Not only did the number of hate crimes rise in general, but the role of religion as a motivating factor has become more pronounced, which is a threat to all religious minorities. This is a direct challenge to the values of our multicultural society.

“The 71% increase in religiously-motivated hate crimes that specifically target the Jewish community should be a cause for alarm. These findings are consistent with our League for Human Right’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which has tracked sustained year-on-year increases in antisemitic activity in Canada over the past decade.

“As the organization on the frontlines of combating antisemitism in Canada , we call on all levels of government, as well as law enforcement agencies, to dedicate further resources to combatting antisemitism and hate crimes of all kinds. -- B'nai Brith Canada

Israel to Extend Daylight Savings Time

Israel will extend Daylight Savings Time to the beginning of October instead of ending on the Sunday before Yom Kippur.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the decision Monday following the recommendation of an advisory committee.

The issue came to a head last summer when the clocks were changed in mid-September since Yom Kippur fell early in the fall. Israel changed to standard time two months before the United States last year.

Religious groups such as Yishai's Shas Party want the change back to standard time before Yom Kippur so that the fast ends earlier. It is also difficult to change the clocks later than early October because sunrise comes too late to allow observant Jews to participate in morning prayers before they have to go to work.

Proponents of a longer Daylight Savings Time cite energy savings and fewer traffic accidents. -- JTA

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Shavuot

Happy Shavuot
from the Editors of Ba'Olam

Op Ed: Klavan's One-State Solution

To view the video, click on image below.
 From YouTube

This Is Zionism

-- StandByUS

To view all the posters, click here.

Israel's Largest Underground Water Source Discovered near Jerusalem Convention Center

The Jerusalem cave opening into a shaft dug during railway construction.
Photo by: A. Frumkin
Excavation work by Israel Railways while working on high speed Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train line reveals cave with largest underground water sources ever discovered in Israel. -- Zafrir Rinat, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

L.A. Dodgers to Sponsor Maccabiah Baseball

The Los Angeles Dodgers again will underwrite the baseball tournament at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, the Maccabiah Organizing Committee announced.

“Our sponsorship hugely enhanced the baseball experience at the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009, and the Dodgers are proud to continue our close association with the Jewish Olympics," said Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt, who is battling his Jewish wife, Jamie, for control of the club in a bitter divorce case, in a statement.

"We are delighted to participate in spreading the baseball message internationally and eagerly look forward with all Jewish and Israeli fans to seeing great ball games at the 2013 Maccabiah.”

On the Israeli side, Amir Peled, chair of the organizing committee, thanked McCourt and added, “In light of the current upheavals in our region, the official pledge announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2010 of substantial Israeli government support for the Maccabiah in 2013 assumes even greater importance.”

In Los Angeles, a committee of 36 wealthy residents is again swinging into action after raising $1.8 million for the 2009 Maccabiah. The money went mainly to subsidize the participation of athletes from smaller Jewish communities around the world.

Steve Soboroff, who organized the Los Angeles efforts, said that as in previous years, local supporters have pledged $50,000 each to serve as “consultants” for the 2013 event.

In addition, former Mayor Richard Riordan again will sponsor the Maccabiah chess competition and the Jewish Life Television network will broadcast highlights of the games.

Some 8,000 athletes, among them junior and senior competitors, participated in the 2009 Maccabiah, setting a new attendance record, said Maccabiah executive director Eyal Tiberger during a recent visit to Los Angeles.

The participants came from 52 countries, and organizers hope to add Cuba, Morocco, Burma and Singapore to the 2013 list. -- JTA

Iraq’s Kristallnacht: 70 Years Later

In 1941, 150 Jews were massacred by Iraqi nationalists in Baghdad. The pogrom predicted what their fate was likely to be under Arabs regimes in the future.
An Iraqi boy plays in front of a closed synagogue in Baghdad. Only a few Jews remain in Iraq today.
Photo by AFP
Seventy years ago, on June 1, 1941, the most dramatic and violent pogrom in the Arab Middle East during World War II took place in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Known in Arabic as the Farhūd, this devastating pogrom left approximately 150 Jews dead, hundreds more wounded, and led to the ransacking of nearly 600 Jewish businesses.

The grim events of June 1-2, 1941 were the Iraqi Arab equivalent of the mass violence on Kristallnacht, which had taken place some two and a half years earlier across Nazi Germany. The anti-Jewish riots were mainly led by Iraqi soldiers (bitter and frustrated by their defeat at the hands of the British Army), some members of the police and young paramilitary gangs, swiftly followed by an angry Muslim population that went on the rampage in an orgy of murder and rapine.

The pogrom struck at what was the most prosperous, prominent and well-integrated Jewish community in the Middle East – one whose origins went back more than 2,500 years – long before there was any Arab presence in the country. The 90,000 Jews of Baghdad, it should be said, played a major role in the commercial and professional life of the city.Robert S. Wistrich, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Also to see Radio Free Europe article, click here.

A Pioneering Polymath Who Is Open About His Faith

Robert Winston is the world’s leading researcher on in vitro fertilization,
a British nobleman and active member of the House of Lords,
a professor at London’s Imperial College,
chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University and
the presenter of 16 BBC TV series on science and religion.
Photo courtesy of Robert Winston
Robert Winston is a man of many titles: Baron Winston of Hammersmith, ennobled because of his status as the world’s leading researcher in in vitro fertilization treatments; Professor Robert Winston, with a chair in science and society at London’s Imperial College; Chancellor Robert Winston of Sheffield Hallam University, and plain old Robert Winston, presenter of 16 BBC-TV series on science and religion.

But there is no title for what he represents to Britain’s Jewish community.

Omnipresent and polymathic, the 70-year old Winston is a public figure who is “out” as a Jew in the way that gay men and lesbians in public life are said to be “out.” Among other things, Winston remains an outspoken, left-leaning advocate for Israel in a political environment that is increasingly critical, if not hostile to that state and its posture on the Middle East peace process. -- -- Michael Goldfarb, Forward

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

30,000 march in N.Y.’s Celebrate Israel Parade

The scene at a recent Salute to Israel parade.
This year the event was televised live.
An estimated 30,000 people marched up New York's Fifth Avenue in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade amid a sea of blue-and-white flags.

Hundreds of thousands lined the streets to view the parade.

The marchers were led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accompanied by Israel's minister of information and Diaspora, Yuli Edelstein; Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren; and Israel’s consul general in New York, Ido Aharoni.

Elected officials and politicians from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were in attendance, as were congressmen who made the trip from Washington.

The annual event, which started in 1964, is held to mark the founding of the State of Israel. It is regarded as the world's largest celebration of Israel Independence Day; the event was formerly called the Salute to Israel Parade. -- JTA

Thunder on the Mall - Bikers Rally for Shalit

Rockville, Maryland's Gili Giro, 39,
waits in the Pentagon parking lot for the start of the Rolling Thunder rally.
Photo by Suzanne Kurtz
It was impossible to ignore the chest-thudding, eye-popping, ear-blasting spectacle of tens of thousands of motorcycles slowly making their way from the Pentagon parking lot to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in the District on Sunday afternoon….

Last year, to help broadcast Shalit's story, Oren Poleg, a 36-year-old Israeli expatriate and local business consultant, along with his fiancee, Arielle Farber, 30, decided to ride their motorcycle in the massive Rolling Thunder rally, flying a large "Free Gilad!" flag. This year, a rowdy contingent of 23 motorcycles, and more than 40 riders (including this reporter) participated in the first "Ride for Gilad Shalit" event. Organized by Poleg and Farber through Facebook and word-of-mouth, the ride was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Israel and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). -- Suzanne Kurtz, Washington Jewish Week

To read the complete story, click here.

San Remo's Mandate, Israel's "Magna Carta"

 This year marks the 91st anniversary of the resolution that transformed the Middle East and laid the groundwork for the formation of the modern state of Israel.

On April 25, 1920, delegations from the Allied nations that triumphed in World War I met in San Remo, Italy, to divide the Middle Eastern lands they had conquered.

That historical meeting transformed the Middle East because, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the world's nations called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land that was then called Palestine.

That decision effectively answered a fundamental issue that still plagues the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks today: whether Israel is an occupying power or it has a rightful claim to the land. -- Chris Mitchell, CBN News

To read the complete article, click here.

To view the accompanying video, click on the image below.

Sweet Deal: Israel's Sugar to EU

Europe is suffering from a major sugar shortage, and Israel's primary sugar mill, Sugat, has been called to the rescue.

For the first time since the 1970s, the Kiryat Gat-based Sugat will export 15,000 tons of refined sugar to Italy, Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands; with the rest of Europe to follow throughout the year.

The initial export is said to be worth approximately $12 million. David Franklin, chairman and CEO of Sugat, said by the end of the year the sweet deal could be worth $100 million.

A shortage of sugar in the European Union has caused prices in some member states to rise as much as 70% in 2011, reported Bloomberg. The crisis prompted the European Economic Community to approve the imports from Israel.

Franklin said that the company's "entering more European countries is an important step towards introducing our products worldwide. We are proud to carry the 'Made in Israel' label." -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Another Triumph for Israeli Wine

Golan Heights Winery is the first Israeli producer to capture a Gran Vinitaly Special Award as "world's best wine producer."

If only Victor Schoenfeld could have learned the secrets of his ancient forebears' winemaking enterprise in what is now the Golan Heights.
But the Roman conquest put an end to winemaking here back in the eighth century, and grapes were only reintroduced to the rich soil of the Golan Heights in 1976. So Schoenfeld, who learned his trade at the University of California-Davis, has spent 20 years building up the old-new business from scratch as head winemaker for Golan Heights Winery.

At this winery, which claims much of the credit for igniting the Israeli wine revolution of the past decade or two, Schoenfeld oversees an expensive and sophisticated operation. Soil mapping, weather stations, precise irrigation systems and other innovative methods are employed to get what he calls the "maximum personality" from the grapes into internationally praised wines. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sundays With "Jack," Bernie, Harvey and More: A Pacifist Baby Boomer Chronicles Tales of Jewish War Vets

Hero: Jerome ‘Jack’ Bluestein,
one of the 550,000 Jews who served in the U.S. military in World War II,
is part of the Veterans History Project,
which is chronicling the stories of the former soldiers.
As we sit in a music classroom in an independent-assisted living facility in Silver Spring, Md., Jerome “Jack” Bluestein and I talk about Hitler. Or, more specifically, about the “Adolf Hitler” photo album that Bluestein has kept with him for the past 60-plus years. The book was known as a cigarette photo album because it included photos that were on cards that had been included in cigarette packs. Bluestein, 84, a former unofficial German interpreter and World War II Army infantryman, can’t remember exactly where or when he acquired the book — sometime during his tour of duty with Patton’s 10th Armored Division — but he does know he now wants to be rid of it.
-- Marla Brown Fogelman, Forward

Harry Bernstein, Published at Age 96, Dies at 101

In this March 14, 2007 file photo,
author Harry Bernstein works at his typewriter
Harry Bernstein, whose acclaimed memoir of an English childhood haunted by anti-Semitism — "The Invisible Wall" — was published when he was 96, has died at 101.

Bernstein died Friday at his daughter's Brooklyn home, Bruce Frankel, a friend and author, told The Associated Press.

Critics have compared Bernstein's world of pain and prejudice to those of D.H. Lawrence and Isaac Bashevis Singer — and especially to Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes," which details McCourt's Irish upbringing. -- Verena Dobnik, Associated Press via

To read the complete story, click here.

Amigos in San Miguel de Allende: A Shavuot Story of Conversion

Back row, from left: Paola, Salomon, Josue, Elida, Graciela, Heriberto, Ivan, Rabbi Felipe Goodman. Front, from left: Rabbi Juan Mejia, Rabbi Daniel Mehlman. Photo courtesy of Rabbi Daniel Mehlman
Earlier this year, I got a call from an old friend, Rabbi Juan Mejia. Juan asked me if I’d be willing to accompany him and Rabbi Felipe Goodman to San Miguel de Allende for a couple of days in early February. Juan, Felipe and I have a lot in common: We laugh at the same jokes, we all speak Spanish, and we’re all rabbis. A little getaway to Mexico in the middle of winter? Sure, I could fit that into my schedule — no problem, I said.

Three Spanish-speaking rabbis were needed for a beit din (rabbinic court) in the quaint village of San Miguel de Allende. Our purpose was conversions. It sounds like the set-up to a joke: One day a Colombian rabbi from Oklahoma City (Juan), a Mexican rabbi from Las Vegas (Felipe) and an Argentinean rabbi from Los Angeles (me) get on a plane and fly to a little colonial town in Mexico. Many of the people in the town have never seen a rabbi before; as a matter of fact, it’s the first time in more than a century that three rabbis have gathered together in the town for a beit din. The townsfolk don’t know quite what to make of them ...

So, late on a Saturday night, I went to LAX to catch a plane. I knew the flight number and the time, but I didn’t really know where I was flying, exactly. I met Felipe and his assistant at the gate, and together we boarded the red-eye to Guanajuato/Leon. Exhausted, we landed an hour late. Waiting to meet us was a young man with payot wearing a black kippah, white shirt, black slacks, black vest and tzitzit. I have to admit, we gawked. It was as if a character had just stepped out of a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” — only with a much darker complexion. -- Rabbi Daniel Mehlman, Jewish Journal

Click here to read the complete article in Spanish.

Click here to read the complete article in English.

Jerusalem's Best-Kept Secret

More than 10,000 species of plants can be found at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, a peaceful green oasis in a busy city.

Boasting the largest plant collection in Israel, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens ( opened to the public in 1985. Director of development Sue Surkes calls it “the best kept secret in Jerusalem.”

More than 10,000 species of plants from around the world are here, divided into six geographical sections. The tropical conservatory contains rainforest plants, including edibles such as pineapple and rice, and even carnivorous ones.

Among the new features are the African Savannah grass maze and the 500-meter Bible Path. “What we discovered was that plants literally littered the Bible,” says Surkes. Just one example is the tamarisk, planted by Abraham when he arrived in Beersheva.

Hopping aboard the “flower train,” as the ride is popularly called, is one of most fun ways to see the entire site, which is located on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University ( -- Israel Ministray of Foreign Affairs

To view the video about the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, click on the image below.

Lutheran School Hot Among Jews

Strong Jewish experience on campus (illustration) Photo: Index Open

About 34% of students in Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania - erected around soaring stone chapel with cross on top - are Jewish, ranging from secular to Orthodox. 'Jews are like nothing else in terms of word of mouth,' explains Hillel House director. -- Associated Press via Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

New System Would Guide Combat Troops Toward Source of Fire

“Soldier Alert and Response System” in advanced development stages; would provide IDF with superior capability, particularly in urban warfare. -- Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.