Friday, June 17, 2011

Honk If You Support Saudi Women!

Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images
If a group of Saudi activists get their way, this Friday June 17 will mark the start of Women2Drive, a campaign to get the country's women behind the wheel. The call to action came after the arrest and detention Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old tech specialist, who last month posted a YouTube video of herself driving a car. Saudi Arabia maintains a system of gender-segregation that effectively prohibits women from driving. The de facto ban leaves women dependent on male relatives or paid chauffeurs, even in emergencies. Many, like al-Sharif, are fed up: “I'm doing it because I'm frustrated,
angry and mad,” she said.
-- Emily Rauhala, Time Magazine

To read the complete article, click here.

Solving the Mystery of Washington’s Famous Letter

Keepsake: A copy of Washington’s letter to the Jews of Newport,found in the letter book of the President’s secretary.
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division
It started as a mystery.

During a lecture in England last December, Jonathan Sarna, America’s foremost scholar of American Jewish history, said he did not know the whereabouts of one of American Jewry’s most important documents: George Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation, in Newport, R.I.

Upon this yellowed piece of 18th-century rag paper is a short but powerful statement from the first president of the United States reassuring one of the original colonial congregations that his nascent government guaranteed religious liberty for all.

“For, happily,” Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport in 1790, “the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

More than a vital piece of American Jewish history, the letter is one of the primary documents guaranteeing religious tolerance in America, its famous words still quoted by community leaders and politicians whenever they want to underline America’s commitment to religious liberty.

But where is the letter? -- Paul Berger, Foward

To read the complete article, click here.

Raising Fish in a Barrel

An Israeli innovation for raising seafood anywhere – including the desert - could be the answer to the world's growing problem of over fishing and water shortages.
“Our technology is totally independent of the sea,” says Dr. Yossi Tal of Israel’s Grow Fish Anywhere (, a company that invented a way to raise fish commercially under any kind of conditions.
“We are establishing our own unique ecology in our system to sustain the fish, without discharging any pollution.”

GFA’s solution could signal a breakthrough as the world’s fishing industry faces the effects of over fishing, as well as chronic water shortages.

Producing one kilogram of fish conventionally requires 5,000 to 7,500 liters of water, according to GFA. founder Dr. Jaap Van Rijn, head of the department of animal sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( In the GFA. system, the amount required is just 40 liters of the precious fluid. -- JTA

To view the accompanying video, click on image below.

From Shul to the Mikvah, Transgender Jews Seek Place in Jewish Life

Transgender activist Noach Dzmura, left,
celebrates his book launch in Berkeley, Calif.,
with Heidi Feldman of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies
Dec. 2, 2010.Photo: Noach Dzmu
Noach Dzmura is a roly-poly man with a light brown beard, dancing eyes and a contagious laugh.

He has a master’s degree in Jewish studies, publishes widely on Jewish topics and is the communications director at his synagogue. In 2006 he received an award from the San Francisco Jewish federation that funded a year’s study in Israel.

He also was born a female.

Dzmura, 48, is one of a growing number of transgender Jews who are open about their status, taking leadership roles in the synagogue and trying to carve out a place in the Jewish community for those who fall outside the standard definitions of male and female.
-- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

A Very Balanced Itinerary?

Is the Olive Tree Initiative, an interfaith program that brings American students here to learn about the Israeli-Arab conflict, offering its participants the appropriate mosaic of views?

Shalom Elcott thinks you may have gotten the wrong idea.

In Israel this past week for Shavuot, the Orange County Jewish Federation president and CEO said that criticism of his group’s support for the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) was misplaced and not based on an honest examination of the program.

“We could all agree that we don’t love all the speakers, but we have to work with American Jews to develop a greater understanding about how important that diversity of opinions in Israel is. Our job is to work with OTI and open the door to the best possible teachers and people who know the facts on the ground and make sure they’re engaged on the trip,” he said.

According to the program’s website, the OTI, which operates trips to Israel for both Jewish and non-Jewish students from The University of California’s Irvine, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz campuses, “aims to promote dialogue and discussion regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict. -- Ben Hartman, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Manischewitz Opens New Main Plant in Newark

At the June 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil
Manischewitz's new corporate headquarters in Newark are,
from left, Mayor Cory Booker, Rabbi Yona Metzger, Alain Bankier, and Paul Bensabat.
Photo by Susan Bloom
Calling it “a new step in the life of Manischewitz,” the kosher food company’s co-CEO Paul Bensabat welcomed over 200 customers, suppliers, local officials, and Jewish leaders to the opening of the company’s new corporate headquarters in Newark.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger were among the dignitaries joining Bensabat and co-CEO Alain Bankier for the June 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony. It marked the 123-year-old company’s re-establishment in Newark following closure of its previous headquarters in Jersey City.

The new 200,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art headquarters and plant on K Street in the city is capable of producing over 400 different food products under nine different brand names.

“Newark is a city that welcomes people,” Booker said, “and Manischewitz’s presence here is truly a celebration of these common values that unite us.”

Following his official pronouncement of June 14 as “Manischewitz Day” in Newark, Booker described it as a day that was “bashert” (destined) and shared his wish for a long and successful partnership between his city and the iconic company. -- Susan Bloom, NJ Jewish News

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From Nut Allergies to Gluten, Jewish Camps and Schools Struggle with Dietary Limitations

Members of Reform Kutz Camp's 2011 summer staff
enjoy lunch at camp.
(Courtesy Kutz Camp)
No one goes to summer camp for the food. And school lunches? Used to be fried mystery meat and a side of bogus mashed potatoes, if you were lucky.

But that was before the healthy eating movement -- and allergies -- changed how camps and schools across America think about the food they serve their children.

Dining halls now feature salad bars and fresh produce, even homemade bread. The Reform movement’s Kutz Camp, a leadership camp in Warwick, N.Y., for teenagers, is launching a state-of-the-art dining program this summer that has banned canned vegetables and machine-made drinks, and includes a salad bar featuring at least three types of lettuce and 10 vegetarian toppings. -- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

To read the complete story, click here.

Basketball / Completing the Mosaic

The limit of four foreign players is making Israeli team owners look to American Jewish hoopsters
Last week, the Israel Basketball Association announced that Jeremiah Kreisberg of Yale University will join the Israeli national junior team. Jewish players from overseas who know how to dribble a ball are always in demand in the Israeli league. Some became success stories, such as Brad Leaf and Lou Silver, while others even stayed in the country after their playing careers ended, like David Blatt and Willie Sims. But there were also many players who came here, did their bit, then left the country - without leaving a trace.

This season, with the cap on overseas players lowered to four per team, the pulling power of Jewish hoopsters - potential Israel citizens - has increased again. Finding the right player for a team is never an easy task, but when a team looks for those of the Mosaic persuasion who would be eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship, the task is that much harder. Surnames may give a clue - but that's not enough. The players do not have agents due to the strict rules of U.S. college basketball, and contact has to be made through third parties, usually local Jews. -- Maayan Efrat, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Dig Reveals Acre’s Importance to Early Christianity

A 1,500-year-old building from the Byzantine period was discovered in Acre during construction of an uncompleted shopping mall parking lot.

A 1,500-year-old building from the Byzantine period was discovered in Acre during construction of an uncompleted Azrieli Group-owned shopping mall parking lot, about 100 meters west of the Tel Akko archeological dig.

The remains were covered with sand and a special textile for preservation on Monday morning. The Antiquities Authority believes the building was likely a church, due to its size and the artifacts found inside, but the structure will not be available for public viewing. -- Joshua Hamerman, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

In Buenos Aires, a Mayor Facing a Jewish Challenger Taps a Rabbi to Lead his Party’s List

Rabbi Sergio Bergman (with microphone)
speaks as he stands alongside Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri (left)
and two other politicians at a May 23 event
introducing the PRO party's candidates for municipal elections.
(Eliana Krumecadyk)
Rabbi Sergio Bergman, already one of Buenos Aires’ most prominent spiritual leaders, has become one of the Argentine capital’s most highly visible political candidates.

Bergman was tapped by the city’s incumbent mayor, Mauricio Macri, to lead his PRO party’s list for the municipal legislature. As the top candidate on the center-right party's slate, the rabbi is virtually assured of securing a spot in the city legislature in the July 10 municipal elections.

Meanwhile, Macri’s main challenger for the mayoralty is Jewish. Daniel Filmus, a former Argentine education minister, will be facing off against Macri for the city’s top job for a second time. Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, picked Filmus to run as the candidate of her center-left Victory Front.
By Diego Melamed, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Lenin's Jewish Roots Confirmed

Lenin Photo: AP

Newly released letter written by Lenin's eldest sister reveals their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity to escape Pale of Settlement, gain access to higher education‬‬. -- ‪Associated Press‬ via Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"You’re just right for Israel," said Ben-Gurion: How Al Schwimmer was persuaded by Israel’s first prime minister to found Israel’s aviation industry.

Ben-Gurion and Al Schwimmer
Photo by: Jerusalem Post Archives
Al Schwimmer, who died on Saturday at 94 and whose funeral was held on Monday, was branded a “legend” by President Shimon Peres for his vital life’s work in Israeli aviation. This extract from the book Start- Up Nation, the best-seller on Israel’s “economic miracle” by Dan Senor and former Jerusalem Post staffer Saul Singer, describes in vivid detail how Schwimmer first got involved…

The fantasy of an Israeli aircraft industry took shape on a bumpy flight over the North Pole in 1951, inside what was to become the first aircraft in Israel’s new national airline. The conversation was between a pair of opposites: Shimon Peres, the erudite, future president of Israel, who in 1951 was the chief arms buyer for the new Jewish state, and Al Schwimmer, a swashbuckling American aviation engineer from Los Angeles, whose pals included Howard Hughes and Kirk Kerkorian. Schwimmer’s first name was Adolph, but against the backdrop of World War II, he’d opted for Al. -- Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Conservative Synagogue Body Restructures, Reduces Dues

The umbrella body for Conservative congregations will undergo a major restructuring that includes a significant staff reorganization and dues reductions.

The changes within the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which were announced Tuesday in an internal memo, are part of the organization’s new strategic plan that was released in February.

The strategic plan itself was designed to address concerns that United Synagogue was not providing adequate services to synagogues -- a complaint that led to the emergence of the Hayom coalition of dissident Conservative leaders in 2009.

The changes announced in the memo include a broad restructuring of United Synagogue similar to one in 2009 by the Union for Reform Judaism.

The current regional structure will be replaced by “kehilla relationship managers” responsible for the specific concerns of individual congregations, called kehillot.

About 27 percent of United Synagogue's approximate 115 full-and part-time staff positions will be eliminated or replaced by new positions, with the affected staffers either moving into the new positions or replaced by new hires. The reorganization comes on the heels of a 22 percent staff reduction over the past four years.

Several top positions have been created, including the organization's first chief operating officer. Others include a chief kehilla officer to oversee the relationship between staff and the individual congregations; a chief learning officer to oversee Conservative Jewish education; a chief resource development and marketing officer; and a chief outreach officer to focus on younger Jews, particularly those in member congregations and minyans.

A 5 percent reduction in dues for the 2011-12 fiscal year will apply only to those congregations that are fully paid up by Dec. 31.

Insiders describe the restructuring as less about saving money and more about addressing the concerns of congregations that say they are not getting enough for their dues.

As part of its enhanced development efforts, United Synagogue says it already has raised $800,000 in new commitments over the next three years. Also over the next three years, the organization plans to train 5,000 lay leaders for its congregations. -- JTA

Calif. Congressman to Introduce Bill to Protect Circumcision

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman will introduce a bill to prevent cities from banning male circumcision, the California lawmaker's office said.

Sherman's bill, which his office announced Tuesday, comes in response to a measure that qualified recently for the November ballot in San Francisco that would outlaw the circumcision of males under the age of 18, making it punishable by a $1,000 fine and a one-year prison term.

“Male circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years and is a deeply important ceremony for two major religions,” Sherman, a Jewish Democrat, said in a statement. “The Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011 ensures that Jewish and Muslim families will continue to be able to enjoy the free exercise of their religious beliefs."

Sherman, whose congressional district is in the Los Angeles area, pointed to studies in the medical community that show the health benefits of circumsion.

"To infringe the religious rights of so many Americans, San Francisco should have some compelling medical reason," he said. "However, the medical literature actually shows clear benefits of male circumcision. Congress has a legitimate interest in making sure that a practice that appears to reduce disease and health care costs remains available to parents.”

A similar effort to put a circumcision ban on the ballot in Santa Monica, Calif., was dropped last week. -- Madeleine Morgenstern, JTA

Three Israeli Experiments Conducted on American Space Shuttle Endeavor

The International Space Station is seen with the docked space shuttle Endeavour
in this photo provided by NASA and taken May 23, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters
Endeavor returned to earth from latest mission June 1 with material from two of the experiments; This is the first time an Israeli experiment has been sent to the International Space Station.

Three Israeli experiments to examine the impact of space travel on human health were among the various studies and tests conducted on the American space shuttle Endeavor's recent mission to the International Space Station. Endeavor returned from its latest space mission - the last for this particular space orbiter - on June 1.

Material from two of the Israeli experiments returned to earth with Endeavor. The third was left on the International Space Station, and will only be retrieved by astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, on July 20. That space shuttle's journey will mark the end of the current U.S. space shuttle program.

This was the first time an Israeli experiment had been sent to the International Space Station, as opposed to the space shuttle, noted space physician Eran Schenker of the Herzliya-based Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space Studies. -- Asaf Shtull-Trauring, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel Police Arrest Operators of Extreme Right Website over Calls for Violence

Three Yitzhar settlers who operate "The Jewish Voice" website are suspected of incitement to racism; the site encourages 'price tag' attacks against Palestinians and criticizes IDF.

A screenshot of "The Jewish Voice" website, June 13, 2011
Photo by: Screenshot
Israel Police arrested three Yitzhar settlers on Monday, charging them with incitement to racism and violating the Shin Bet Security Service laws for a website that calls for "price tag" attacks on Palestinians.

The three, students of extremist Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, operate "The Jewish Voice" website, which reports news on settlements and outposts, criticizes the IDF, shows sympathy for "price tag" attacks and publishes articles by Rabbi Ginzburg. The site also reports on Shin Bet attempts to recruit agents. -- Chaim Levinson, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: Oil Redeems Israel

Huge strike will bring back a world bought by oil interests
An oil drilling site at Tamrur cliff in the southern Israeli city of Arad in the Dead Sea area.
Prior to the 1973-74 OPEC Oil Crisis, Israel was the darling of the left, extolled as a feisty, altruistic country that made socialism work in a hostile neighbourhood of Arab military dictatorships and Muslim theocracies. The liberal press defended Israel against those who objected to Israel’s existence. The liberal intelligentsia — Jew and non-Jew alike — sent their youth to Israeli kibbutzes, to be inspired by this utopian model of communal life where all received the same wage, regardless of occupation.

Almost immediately after the OPEC nations quadrupled oil prices to punish the West for its support of Israel, the left turned, along with many in the center and on the right, too. Israel soon became a pariah state, while the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose airplane hijackings and other acts of terrorism against Western targets had previously drawn condemnation, became praiseworthy.

In 1974, PLO leader Yasser Arafat assumed statesman status and was invited to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. One more year and the UN General Assembly branded Zionism as a form of racism. Oil wasn’t the only factor in the world’s change of attitude toward Israel.

In that hyper-ideological Cold War period, anti-capitalists and anti-colonialists wanted the West and its allies out of the Middle East, others wanted to appease Arab grievances to end terrorism, or they sympathized with the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states that had lost wars to Israel. But oil was decisive in causing the world to reconsider where its interests lay. -- Lawrence Solomon, AFP

To read the complete article, click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turning Up the Volume for Deaf Palestinians

Israel's Sheba Medical Center pairs with an American foundation to provide hearing aids to a West Bank population affected by genetic deafness. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c

A Palestinian child waits to receive a hearing aid from Israeli doctors.
Photo by Eli Hershkovits – Zoom 77
To read the complete article, click here.

The Western Wall, Masada… and a High Tech Clean Room

Participants in a Birthright megaevent during week of June 2.
Part of the whole ‘rebranding’ effort that bodies within the Israeli government – and ISRAEL21c – have been talking about for a decade is to show that Israel is not a one-dimensional country dominated by conflict. And beyond our well-known attributes of history and religion, we’re also a modern powerhouse, innovators in the fields of high tech, medicine and ingenuity.

That though process has trickled down to the successful Birthright-Taglit program which offers young Diaspora Jews free of charge a whirlwind tour of Israel. Of course they go to the Kotel in Jerusalem, climb Masada, ride camels and take part in the traditional rites that all first-time visitors to Israel are required to do.

But lately, certain Birthright programs have added a new stop on their trips – a visit to one of Israel’s high tech center. This week, thousands of Birthright participants visited software companies like Amdocs, HP and Microsoft to learn about the Silicon Wadi, Israel’s equivalent of the Silicon Valley. -- David, Israel21c

To read the complete story, click here.

Ontario Clears Way to Extradite Ottawa Professor

Diab accused of deadly 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris

Ontario has agreed to extradite the Ottawa professor who is accused of murder and attempted murder related to the bombing a Paris synagogue in 1980 — a crime that killed four people and injured 40 others. Hassan Diab, a 57-year-old Lebanon-born Canadian has taught sociology at both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Now that the Ontario judge has signed off on the order, Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson will decide whether he goes to France. The minister’s office told CBC News that they will not comment on the possible extradition.

In a twist, the Ontario judge who signed the order noted that France has a “weak case” that is unlikely to result in a conviction. Diab says that he is innocent and that his old passport helps prove that he was not in the country at the time of the bombing. France says he was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who were responsible for the bombing, and that his handwriting appears on a hotel registration card at the time of the crime. The question of whether it’s Diab’s handwriting is highly disputed. -- Josh Dehaas, Macleans OnCampus

Op Ed: The Continuing War Against The Jews

A bustling beach in Gaza. Photo: Gus.
Sometime this month a flotilla of ships will once again seek to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.  This effort is similar to the one that took place  a year ago.  That last attempt to break the Gaza blockade ended with nine people on the ships being killed after they attacked and injured the Israeli soldiers who took custody of those ships.  The Israeli sea blockade is intended to prevent weapons, explosives and other contraband from being shipped to terrorists in Gaza, also preventing the entry of terrorists……

The new effort will apparently include ten boats carrying American, Canadian, Spanish, Swiss and Irish protesters.  On the American boat will be a reported 34 passengers, says The Times, “[i]ncluding the writer, Alice Walker, and an 86-year-old [woman] whose parents died in the Holocaust.”  Ms. Walker is the author of “The Color Purple.”

The Times article further reports “The American passengers say they support the Palestinian people, not Hamas.”  They compare themselves to the Freedom Riders who 50 years ago, rode buses to the South to challenge racial segregation then maintained by Southern states.

Let’s examine these arguments and motivations. -- Ed Koch,

To read the complete article, click here.

Mind-Controlled Computing for the Disabled

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev students Uri Usami, Ariel Rosen and Ofir Tam developed a way for people to control computer actions with their thoughts. Photo by Dani Machlis, Ben-Gurion University
A new Israeli-developed tool enables the disabled to send emails by thought alone, and could revolutionize the world of mind-controlled computing. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Exceptional Lady, of Her Time

Dr. Yalow in 1977
Photo from Wikipedia
Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, who died last week, in the 1950s developed (with Solomon Berson) something called radioimmunoassay. Now used widely to screen donor blood for hepatitis and to detect underactive thyroids in babies under three months (in turn to prevent mental retardation), it was the first method sensitive enough to study hormones and other substances in the body, which it did by utilizing radioactive isotopes. Before Yalow came along, scientists had known there was a link between insulin levels and diabetes, for example, but could not measure insulin levels precisely. When Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1972, the committee compared radioimmunoassay to finding a sugarcube completely dissolved in Lake Erie, and finding all of it.

Coming only a few years after President Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech, it was a promising advance in medicine that was actually made possible by nuclear physics. Yalow was the first physics major to graduate from Hunter College in 1941, at the age of 19 (and before the nuclear bomb had been invented); she had heard Enrico Fermi lecture on the first experiments in nuclear fission. In 1945, Yalow got her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois. -- Abigail Miller, Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

Editor's Note: Dr. Yalow is featured in the book, With Strength & Splendor: Jewish Women as Agents of Change, by Lisa Kogen, published by Women's League for Conservative Judaism.

Sister Act

Etta and Claribel Cone, two Jewish sisters from Baltimore, went to Paris, helped discover Picasso, supported Matisse, and, as a new show at the Jewish Museum argues, shaped the birth of modern art.
Claribel and Etta Cone in Paris, circa 1920s.
The Baltimore Museum of Art, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collections
Few among us create true art; the best the rest of us can hope for is the ability to recognize true genius. “Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: the Cone Sisters of Baltimore,” a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York, attempts to capture the fascinating story of two such visionaries, the sisters Claribel and Etta Cone of Baltimore, who amassed a personal collection of more than 3,000 works of art, including paintings by Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh, C├ęzanne, and over 500 works by Matisse. -- Joseph Winkler, Tablet

To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: Star Trek as a Solution to Middle East Woes

Leonard Nimoy aka Mr. Spock provides the world with his unqualified opinion
on how to solve the Middle East conflict.
Leonard Nimoy, who will forever be linked to his alter-ego, Mr. Spock, from the TV series “Star Trek,” is using his “celebrity” to urge Israel to adopt the two-state solution with the Palestinians.

And, when weighing in with one’s unsolicited, unqualified opinion about one of the most important issues in the history of the world, what better, more compelling and intelligent way is there to do so, than to use the plot of a Star Trek episode? -- Daniel Horowitz, Shalom Life.

To read the complete article, click here.

Kiddush Clubs Declare Boycott on Scottish Whiskey

Move by Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs comes after Kiddush-favorite Chivas named in global boycott of Israeli goods
The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) – a partnership of 250 Jewish men’s clubs that claims more than 25,000 members throughout North America – has joined with synagogues both in Israel and in the diaspora in “suggesting a boycott of scotch from distillers located in West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland at Kiddush and [in] public and private” celebrations.

The FJMC, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement, has called for Jews to avoid certain brands of spirits following a boycott of Israeli goods instituted by the local council of the whiskey-producing region. -- Samuel Sokel, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

We Were the Future

Children’s House, Kibbutz Yehiam, 195
Few uniquely Israeli institutions have ever held the world's imagination like the kibbutz: a radical Jewish experiment in communal living, social justice, economic egalitarianism, and the reorganization of family life. Indeed, perhaps the most radical innovation of all was the "children's house" (beit y'ladim), to which the youngest kibbutzniks were taken, often straight from the delivery room, to be raised in common—if also in close proximity to their parents, whom they would see for a couple of hours a day.

A decade and a half ago, the last kibbutz to maintain this strange—some would say inhuman—practice finally restored its children to their families for the night. But what was it like to grow up in that now discarded way? In We Were the Future, a new and extraordinarily affecting Hebrew-language book, the writer and editor Yael Ne'eman, tells the story.-- Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete story, click here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Op. Ed: Light Rail Segregation Has Heavy Price

Allotting one of train's cars to sexual segregation may be democratic, but zealots won't stop there.
Jerusalem's light rail Photo: Guy Assayag
While Israelis were busy with the cheesecakes and flower arrangements that go along with Shavuot earlier this week, haredi zealots have been busy with their next battle: Imposing the 'kosher bus' rules on the Jerusalem light rail.

In Elad, the haredi city of my residence, all public transport is sexually segregated. But in actuality, everyone sits where they please. In Bnei Brak, all attempts to impose 'kosher' seating have failed. But in Beit Shemesh and Beitar it is a whirlwind success. -- Tali Farkash, Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Shuttering of Yale Program on Anti-Semitism Raises Hackles

Did Yale's program on anti-Semitism die a natural death from lack of academic vigor, as the university says? Should it have been saved, as two major Jewish groups are arguing?

Or was it killed for being politically incorrect about Muslim anti-Semitism, as alleged by others?

The decision to terminate the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism came after its routine five-year review, according to a statement from Donald Green, who heads Yale's Institution for Social and Policy Studies, the body that oversees the anti-Semitism initiative and other interdisciplinary programs.

The anti-Semitism initiative, Green said in a statement sent to JTA, failed to meet the institution's criteria of delivering an "outstanding" performance in the promotion of "interdisciplinary research and instruction at Yale."

The American Jewish Committee said the anti-Semitism initiative's termination would "create a very regrettable void.” -- Ron Kampeas, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Report: Egypt Takes Lead on Shalit Deal

Shalit. New hope? Photo: Noam Rotem
An Egyptian source has expressed cautious optimism about the chances of a deal to release captive soldier Gilad Shalit on Friday.

In an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, the Egyptian source said, "We have resumed managing the issue a few days ago and will work according to what we believe will secure better conditions."

He noted that Egypt's mediation will be based on previously agreed upon points between Israel and Hamas. "We are currently studying each of the sides' positions in order to understand the obstacles and create solutions."

The source stressed that only after this is achieved indirect negotiations will commence. He noted that they are still in the early stages of studying Israel and Hamas' positions. -- Elior Levy, Ynetnews

To read the complete article, click here.

Syrian Opposition: Anti-Israel Rioters Paid $1,000

Were they paid to protest? Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Protestors at northern border promised $1,000 reward by Assad's regime, Reform Party of Syria claims; Israeli officials: Damascus encouraged rioters. Syria says IDF killed 23 people, wounded 350; army says figures inflated. -- Ynetnews

To read the complete story, click here.

Op Ed: Muslim Woman Seeks to Revive Institution of Sex-Slavery

Mutairi: "In the Chechnyan war, surely there are female Russian captives.
So go and buy those and sell them here in Kuwait;
better that than have our men engage in forbidden sexual relations."
Last week witnessed popular Muslim preacher Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini boast about how Islam allows Muslims to buy and sell conquered infidel women, so that "When I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her."

This week's depraved anachronism comes from a Muslim woman—Salwa al-Mutairi, a political activist and former parliamentary candidate for Kuwait's government, no less: She, too, seeks to "revive the institution of sex-slavery." -- Raymond Ibrahim,

To read the complete article, click here.