Friday, July 29, 2011

Zuckerberg, Bibi head list of Top 50 Jews

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg and Benjamin Netanyahu head The Jerusalem Post’s second annual list of the world’s 50 Top Jews.

Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, adds his No. 1 finish in the Post survey to his Person of the Year award from Time magazine. He is followed by Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister.

American names include U.S. Reps. Eric Cantor (No. 13), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (14) and Gabrielle Giffords (26), who was seriously injured in a shooting in January. One slot behind Giffords is Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show." Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman (24), writers Nora Ephron (33) and Jeffrey Goldberg (35), and actresses Natalie Portman (38) and Sarah Silverman (49) also appear.

Five rabbis were relegated to the lower part of the list -- 39 to 43 -- with Rabbi Richard Jacobs, president-elect of the Union for Reform Judaism, as the only non-Israeli.

The list leans heavily toward Israeli personalities, with some of the other choices widely unknown even among avid students of Jewish macherdom.

Few “Jeopardy!” contestants may be able to identify Orna Barbivai (44), the first female general in the Israeli army; Job Cohen, head of the Dutch Labor Party (46); or Ivan Glasenberg (47) and Bertie Lubner (48), two wealthy South African businessmen.

Completing the list: Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli in 50th, though readers of the Sports Illustrated swimming suit issue, whose cover she graced in 2009, were said to have lobbied for a higher ranking. -- JTA

Op Ed: Israel: Is the Arab Spring Spreading to the Jewish State?

From LA Times
When the protest for affordable housing began, some dismissed the campaign as a "Woodstock" of college kids on vacation. By the time Saturday night rolled around, tens of thousands demonstrated in Tel-Aviv and what started as a students' summer protest became a nationwide push for change and a political headache for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A few months back, citizens' protests targeted the pricing of specific commodities like gasoline, water and cottage cheese. Now, protest is everywhere. Students are camping out in the streets in tents. Dairy farmers are blocking roads with cows. Doctors are striking, the head of Israel's medical association is on a hunger strike. The latest is a Facebook call not to show up for work on Aug. 1.

Israel's economy is strong, the public is constantly told; the country has money, the economy is growing.

Then why is everyone angry? First of all, because they can be. A quick look around the neighborhood has reminded people they have power and can use it to rework priorities and redistribute resources. -- -- Batsheva Sobelman, LA Times

To read more, click here.

Israeli Orchestra to Play Wagner Piece in Germany

Israel Chamber Orchestra
The Israel Chamber Orchestra performed a composition by Richard Wagner in Germany, breaking an Israel taboo against playing the anti-Semitic composer’s music.

The ensemble played "Siegfried's Idyll" on Tuesday in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth at an annual festival devoted to Wagner's work. Wagner, who lived from 1813 to 1883, is buried in Bayreuth, where festivals celebrating his operas have long been held.

Since its founding, Israel has had an unofficial ban against playing music by Wagner, whose anti-Semitism was public. His music and writings were long admired by Hitler and featured in Nazi propaganda. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Jewish Couple the First Same-Sex Pair to Tie Knot in NYC

Connie Kopelov and Phyllis Siegel were the first same-sex couple
married at the Manhattan clerk's office July 24, 2011.
Kopelov arrived in a wheelchair
but was able to stand with Siegel as they exchanged vows hand-in-hand.
(Jason DeCrow/AP Photo)
Two elderly Jewish women were the first same-sex couple to marry in New York City.

Phyllis Siegel, 77, and Connie Kopelov, 85, were married in Lower Manhattan at 9:02 a.m. Sunday in a ceremony witnessed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and officiated by City Clerk Michael McSweeny. Quinn is the first openly gay speaker of the New York City Council.

Siegel and Kopelov, who have been together for 23 years, reportedly were among 659 couples -- gay and straight -- who received marriage licenses on Sunday and 484 who held marriage ceremonies.

“It was just so amazing,” Siegel told the New York Post. “It’s the only way I can describe it. I lost my breath and a few tears.”

The couples married exactly one month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure enacted by the State Legislature allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Also Sunday in New York City, Gregory Levin, 32, and Shane Serkiz, 33, of the Astoria section of Queens, who have been engaged since 1999, were the first same-sex couple married in that borough.

And at Gracie Mansion, the mayor's home in New York, Mayor Mike Bloomberg officiated at a wedding for city Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and mayoral policy adviser John Feinblatt. After the vows, actor Joel Grey sang “Married” from the musical “Cabaret.” Bloomberg then introduced the traditional breaking of the glass, which the couple crushed underfoot. -- JTA

Israeli, Jewish Groups Team to Help Famine-Plagued Somalia

An Israeli aid group and Canadian Jewish federations are teaming to help ease the famine in Somalia.

IsrAID is partnering with the Canadian Jewish organizations UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and UIA Canada to bring food and water to suffering populations in Africa. The relief efforts are targeting Somalians who are crossing the border into Ethiopia and Kenya in order to escape the famine.

IsrAID is communicating with the United Nations and government officials to determine distribution logistics and the types of food that are needed.

The United Nations has declared a state of famine in several regions of Somalia; some expect the entire Somali South to be similarly declared in two months.

Droughts, rising food prices, conflict and other factors and have left approximately 11 million in need of assistance in Somalia and neighboring countries. Large numbers of Somalians -- approximately 2,000 a day -- are fleeing to Kenya seeking food and aid.

IsrAID also has funded refugee camps in Kenya to house approximately 40,000.

The UJA Foundation of Greater Toronto said it is providing $25,000 to the Somali relief effort. The foundation has been a strong supporter of IsrAID, raising at least $2 million to provide relief in areas of natural disaster such as Japan, Haiti and New Orleans. -- JTA

Thursday, July 28, 2011

As Norway’s Jews Mourn, Concern about Muting of Pro-Israel Voices

A woman lighting a memorial candle outside
the Domkirke Cathedral in Oslo
for the July 22 attack victims in Norway, July 25, 2011.
(Alex Weisler)
Norway has just 1,500 Jews, but to hear Avi Ring tell it, the country is reacting to last Friday's bombing of a government office building and massacre at a political summer camp in a traditionally Jewish way.

"As soon as people speak about it, they start to cry," said Ring, a neuroscientist and former board member of Norway’s official Jewish community organization, called the Mosaic Religious Community and known by its Norwegian acronym, DMT. "It's like a country sitting shiva."

A sea of flower bouquets, candles, photographs and handwritten notes line not just major Oslo memorials -- like the fence of the exclusion zone around the blast site or the central Domkirke Cathedral -- but far-flung fountains, parks and statues with no connection to the violence.

"We'll be together in the grief," said Ervin Kohn, the leader of DMT, which is also the country’s main synagogue and counts about half the country’s Jews as members. No Jews are known to have been injured in the attacks.

Yet even as they mourn along with their fellow countrymen, some Jews here are quietly expressing concern that the attack by a right-wing xenophobe who apparently sympathized with Israel may further mute pro-Israel voices in Norway, where anti-Zionist sentiment already runs strong. -- Alex Weisler, JTA

To read more, click here.

Israel Detains Weapons Ship Crossing Dead Sea from Jordan to Palestinians

Israel thwarted an arms smuggling attempt
on the Dead Sea July 25.
Pictured above, the Dead Sea forms a natural border
between Jordan and Israel.
Israel thwarted a weapons smuggling attempt from Jordan to Palestinians in the West Bank via the Dead Sea, Israeli military sources said.

The motor boat was filled with AK-47 assault rifles, magazines and additional weaponry, AFP reported. The two men aboard the boat were apprehended. It has not been confirmed whether they are of Palestinian or Jordanian origin.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is considered “dead” because of its extremely high concentration of salinity. It forms a natural 43-mile border between Jordan and Israel. The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994 and have maintained relatively peaceful relations since.

Military experts are looking into what type of boat the smugglers used that could sustain the high rates of salinity.

Weapons smuggling has been a persistent concern for Israel. -- Israel Project

To read more, click here.

Circumcision Ban Likely to Be Struck from San Francisco's November Ballot

A circumcision ban will be struck from the November ballot in San Francisco if a judge’s tentative ruling Wednesday remains the same after a hearing Thursday morning.

In the preliminary decision, Judge Loretta M. Giorgi agreed with the Jewish Community Relations Council and other individuals suing The City’s Elections Department and San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield by ruling that under state law, local jurisdictions have no right to regulate health care professionals.

Schofield gathered more than 12,000 signatures to get the circumcision ban on the ballot in an effort to make the procedure on minor males a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. He said he’s pursuing the ban because he sees it as a brutal practice by parents on their minor children without their consent.

Schofield’s attorneys filed an official opposition to the ruling, which will be heard Thursday morning in San Francisco Superior Court. In the tentative decision released Wednesday, the judge rejected a rebuttal brief from a group called Doctors Opposing Circumcision because it was filed in an “extremely untimely” manner, two days before the ruling. -- Dan Schreiber, San Francisco Examiner.

Hamas Details Shalit Raid

Hamas published operational details about its abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

As part of events marking five years since its gunmen tunneled across the Gaza Strip border to seize Shalit, the Hamas website Al-Qassamiyoun this week featured an expose on the operation it dubbed "Shattered Illusions."

The site confirmed what already has been reported in Israel about the June 25, 2006 raid, during which three of Shalit's comrades where killed while he was spirited, wounded, back to Gaza.

Israeli officials say they have no knowledge of Shalit's whereabouts, a matter on which the Hamas expose shed no light.
"He was taken to a place that had been prepared in advance and secured as a prison for the captive," it said.

Israel and Hamas have long been in talks, via Egyptian, German and Turkish mediators, on a prisoner swap under which Shalit would be recovered. Israel has balked at Hamas' condition that it release hundreds of jailed Palestinian terrorists.

"The fighters remain committed to their demand to seal an honorable deal that would allow our brave prisoners to win their long-awaited freedom," Al-Qassamiyoun said. -- JTA

ZOA Complaint Seeking Probe of Rutgers University

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has filed a complaint against Rutgers University alleging that the school fostered a hostile environment toward Jewish students.

The complaint requests that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigate the New Jersey school for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint was filed, said ZOA’s President Morton Klein and Susan Tuchman, the director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice in a statement, “only after numerous serious efforts were made to get the university to respond to a long pattern of anti-Semitic hostility on campus, and the administration refused to do so.”

The brief names a number of examples, including one in which Jewish students allegedly were charged admission to a free event and a student was violently threatened on Facebook, as well as citing an alleged anti-Israel bias in the university's Middle East studies program.

Rutgers denied the allegations in a statement, calling the assertions “factually inaccurate and significantly distorted,” and said the university “welcomes the opportunity to share with the U.S. Department of Education the accurate facts about the events that the ZOA has misrepresented in its allegations.”

Last October, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reclassified campus anti-Semitism as prohibited discrimination covered by the Civil Rights Act. In March, the Office of Civil Rights launched its first investigation into campus anti-Semitism at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In April, the American Jewish Committee in a statement criticized what it called the "misuse of Title VI to suppress anti-Israel speech," saying the approach was "dangerous." The statement, however, alluded to one of the instances at Rutgers outlined in the ZOA complaint as possibly warranting investigation.

AJC and ZOA were among the Jewish groups that had urged Duncan to issue the new Title VI guidelines last year.

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Documentary Follows Leading Yiddish Writer Sholem Aleichem’s Life in New York City

Joseph Dorman, who directed a documentary
on the New York life of Sholem Aleichem,
in front of Aleichem's gravestone in Queens.
Sholem Aleichem arrived in New York in 1906 as the world’s most famous Yiddish writer — a distinction his comic but often disturbing stories of Eastern European life might have mocked as grandiose. Seeking refuge from Russian pogroms, he hoped to explore “the Golden Land” his readers were settling in and earn needed money as a playwright.

Yet like more than a few newcomers to this flinty city, the Jewish Mark Twain, as he was known, left within a year, humiliated and disillusioned. He got caught up in what he himself might have called an earthquake — a churlish reception from the cutthroat New York literary, newspaper and theater worlds.

One editor’s review contained a Dorothy Parker-like swat: “I made use of the privilege ordinary mortals have when they don’t like a play and I left in the middle.” -- Joseph Berger, NY Times

To read more, click here.

U of M Archeology Student Digs Up Two Horned Alter in Ancient Philistine City in Israel

Jeremy Beller digging at the site
Jeremy Beller a fourth year student of archeology at the University of Manitoba  was one of four people to dig up a 2900 year old two horned alter located in a Temple in the ancient Phillistine city of Gat in Israel. The site of Gat is believed to be where the biblical figure Goliath was born.

Beller who was on his first field excavation  learned of the archeological dig at the site of Gat [otherwise known as Tel-es- Safi] through Dr. Haskel Greenfield, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba. -- Rhonda Spivak, Winnipeg Jewish Review

To read more, click here.

Motivated US Teachers Meet Israeli Peers

Teachers Meet Teachers
Photo by Yoni Kempin

Top Teach For America corps members met this past week with their Teach First Israel counterparts to learn from one another how best to inspire students in disadvantaged areas to succeed in school and to work on a communal vision of educational equality. -- Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski, Israel National News

To read more and see accompanying video, click here.

Judean Barley Mutation May Help Solve Food Crisis

Barley RTArutz Sheva photo: ORT

The discovery of a genetic mutation in wild barley in Judea has led scientists to a new gene that may allow wheat to grow in arid areas. -- Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Israel National News

To read more, click here.

A Pirate's Life for Some Jews

More than 40 years ago, Edward Kritzler came across a journal kept by a 17th century English buccaneer in which he found an intriguing reference to "divers Portuguese of the Hebrew nation." Thus began his research into an obscure and mostly forgotten aspect of Jewish history. "Forget the Merchant of Venice," writes Kritzler. "[H]is New World cousins were adventurers after my own heart: Jewish explorers, conquistadors, cowboys and, yes, pirates."

"Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean" begins with one of the enduring horrors of history -- the Inquisition. Driven out of Spain and Portugal by royal decrees that compelled them to convert or leave, the Jews of the Iberian peninsula sought refuge wherever they could find it, including the far-flung colonies in the Americas. But the friar-inquisitors inevitably followed the conquistadors, and so the Jewish refugees found themselves at risk even in the New World. -- Jonathan Kirsch, LA Times

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preventive Health Care for US Women Recommended by Nonpartisan Group

Add caption
Last week, as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the independent, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine released a landmark report on preventive health care for women. This report recommends that important preventive services should be covered by health insurance at no out-of-pocket cost to women, including domestic violence screenings and counseling, contraception, annual well-woman visits, and other services. These recommendations are a major step forward in ensuring that all women receive the preventive health care they need and deserve.If you’d like to read the full IOM report, please visit Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps - Institute of Medicine.
-- from Marilyn Wind, WLCJ Public Policy Chair

Fifty Years Later, Kirk Douglas Wins Tribute for Breaking Hollywood Blacklist

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus in 1960.

Ask Kirk Douglas for the proudest accomplishment in his 94 years and the iconic actor cites his actions in breaking the infamous Hollywood blacklist.

Douglas did so by giving writer Dalton Trumbo full credit for the script of the movie “Spartacus,” normally a routine acknowledgment. But in 1960, openly employing an accused communist or communist sympathizer was an almost guaranteed career killer, even for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and required an extraordinary degree of moral courage....

Kirk Douglas, 94, received
the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's
Freedom of Expression Award
"for his courageous actions in support of artistic freedom.
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival honored his deed on July 24 by presenting its Freedom of Expression Award to Douglas “for his courageous actions in support of artistic freedom.” -- Tom Tugend, JTA

To read more, click here.

Rare Gold Bell from Second Temple Discovered in Excavations in Jerusalem

Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority
A rare gold bell with a small loop at its end was discovered during an archaeological excavation in the drainage channel that begins in the Shiloah Pool and continues from the City of David to the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, near the Western Wall. The excavations are being conducted at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by Ir David Foundation.

According to the excavation directors, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, "It seems the bell was sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period (first century CE). The bell was exposed inside Jerusalem's main drainage channel at that time, among the layers of earth that had accumulated along the bottom of it. This drainage channel was built and hewn the length of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, on the bottom of the slope descending to the Tyropoeon Valley. This drainage channel conveyed rainwater from different parts of the city, by way of the City of David and the Shiloah Pool, to Nahal Kidron. -- Israel Antiquities Authority via Israel Ministry of Foreign Afffairs

To read more, click here.

Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands on board with Durban III Boycott

The Czech Republic became the first European Union country to say it would boycott the United Nations-sponsored Durban III conference.

Shortly after the Czech Republic announced July 22 that it would not send a delegation to the Durban III conference set for Sept. 22 in New York, Italy and The Netherlands announced that they also would stay away.

The conference is marking 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 Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic wanted to include in the final statement of the meeting in September "that all participating states emphatically distance themselves from the linking of subjects that have nothing to do with the fight against racism," but "because it is not possible to get such a guarantee, the three countries now see themselves forced to no longer participate in the preparations for the celebration, and also not to attend it, " The Netherlands Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement, according to NIS News. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Norway Killer espoused New Right-Wing, Pro-Israel Philosophy

The confessed perpetrator in the terror attack in Norway espoused a new right-wing philosophy allied with Israel against Islam - a trend in European populist and far-right movements that has Israel worried.

In numerous online postings, including a manifesto published on the day of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik pushed  the "Vienna School" or “Crusader Nationalism” philosophy, a mish-mash of anti-modern principles that also calls for "the deportation of all Muslims from Europe" as well as from "the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

According to the manifesto, entitled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence" and published under the pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the "Vienna School" supports "pro-Zionism/Israeli nationalism."  -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Housing Protesters Block off Roads across the Country

Groups of demonstrators demanding a reduction in housing prices further escalated their protests on Monday by blocking off roads and junctions simultaneously across the country.

The protesters held up tents - the symbol of the new protest movement- and blocked roads in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and other areas, demanding "sane" housing prices.

In some cases, the protesters left the roads on their own initiative, while in others, police cleared the activists.

Police cleared a group of ten demonstrators in Haifa's Merkaz Hacarmel area, and stationed patrol cars in the area.

Protesters have vowed to continue their actions.-- Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Op Ed: The "Pushy Broad Syndrome:" Did gender bias push out two of the sheriffs of Wall Street?

Elizabeth Warren, left, and Sheila Blair.
Boys will be boys, and in Washington, sometimes that means girls get run out of town.

According to Representative Barney Frank, that’s what happened to Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, who last week was passed over by President Obama to head a new consumer protection bureau. As the Newton Democrat tells it, a version of the same sexist story played out with Sheila Bair, whose term ran out this month as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In May 2010, Time magazine crowned Bair, Warren, and Mary Schapiro, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, “The New Sheriffs of Wall Street.’’ Gushed Time: “They may not run Wall Street, but in this new era, they are telling Wall Street how to clean up its act.’’

No longer. Bair and Warren are gone, and Frank attributes their departures to more than normal Beltway churn. He calls it the “Get Rid of the Pushy Broad Syndrome.’’

“Two of the most important women regulators have now left,’’ said Frank. He believes they encountered more resistance than is explained by politics or ideology. In the aftermath, he is bluntly calling out Washington, particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, for “gender bias." -- Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe

To read more, click here.

Nonprofits Fear Tax Limit On Charitable Deductions

Many charities are warning
against President Obama's plans
to limit tax-deductible donations.
Jewish groups lobby against Obama plan to cut top rate.

In its ongoing efforts to raise the debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 deadline, the Obama administration has gone back to an idea it had already proposed twice before—that of limiting the tax deduction for charitable donations. The suggestion has alarmed several Jewish nonprofit groups and catalyzed them to lobby congressional leaders against adopting such a policy.

Kathy E. Manning, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, last week made an impassioned plea before the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, a group of 20 senators that included Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), to leave the charitable deduction alone. Manning, along with other Jewish leaders, had been invited to share her opinions with the committee regarding potential funding cuts to government programs. -- Gabe Kahn, NY Jewish Week

To read more, click here.

Oswiecim, the City of Auschwitz, Wrestles with Whether the Past Must Be Part of Its Future

A local woman wheels her baby
n front of the Auschwitz Jewish Center,
in the heart of Oswiecim.
Photo by Ruth Ellen Gruber
Can a town that exists in the shadow of death transform itself into a place of normalcy?

The question long has vexed Oswiecim, the town of 40,000 in southern Poland where the notorious Auschwitz death camp is located.

For decades, residents and city leaders have struggled to separate Oswiecim from Auschwitz and pull the town, its history and its cultural associations out from under the overwhelming black cloud of the death camp, which is now a memorial museum.

With only limited  success to date, however, a new generation of town leaders is trying a different tack: bolstering Oswiecim as a vital local community, but also reaching out to connect with Auschwitz rather than disassociate from it. -- Ruth Ellen Gruber, JTA
To read more, click here.

Two California Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Prevent Circumcision Ban

Bill comes in response to recent efforts to make the ritual act illegal at the local level.
A newborn baby following his Bris, a Jewish circumcision ceremony in San Francisco, May 15, 2011.
Photo by: AP
Two California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would prevent local governments from passing laws banning male circumcision and limit the enacting of such legislation to the state.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto said Thursday the bill came in response to recent efforts to make the ritual act illegal at the local level, including a November ballot measure to ban circumcision in San Francisco. A similar ban failed to make the ballot in Santa Monica.

San Francisco's measure would prohibit circumcision of males under the age of 18, making it a misdemeanor punishable by fine or jail. -- The Associated Press via Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Jewish Perspective on Amy Winehouse's Death

Amy Winehouse
The family of troubled singing star Amy WInehouse, who was found dead in her London home, has asked for privacy to grieve.

Winehouse, 27, a five-time Grammy winner who was admired by music critics and beloved by celebrities, was plagued by drug and alcohol addiction, but officials at this point are saying her death is "unexplained." An autopsy to determine the cause will be performed early this week. She was found in her apartment on Saturday.

"Our family has been left bereft by the loss of Amy, a wonderful daughter, sister, niece," read a statement from the family. "She leaves a gaping hole in our lives. We are coming together to remember her and we would appreciate some privacy and space at this terrible time."

Winehouse's father, Mitch, returned to London immediately from New York, where he was performing.

“The bad girl with the pin-up tattoos, soul style and Marilyn Monroe mole piercing was born to Mitchell and Janis, a Jewish couple in north London,” according to a report in Moment Magazine. “Not everyone is surprised to hear that Winehouse is Jewish. Referencing her Semitic-looking visage, Sarah Silverman once quipped, ‘She is Jewish, right? If she isn’t, someone should tell her face.’”

Writing earlier this year for the online magazine Tablet, Dvorah Meyers asserted that the singer’s “unrepentant behavior … signals Winehouse’s place in a very different line of Jewish women -- not the ‘nice’ ones who make you chicken soup when you’re sick or assure their sons that they’re the smartest boys in the world and any woman would be lucky to marry them.”

Instead, Meyers wrote, “Winehouse’s ancestors are the biblical vixens: Dina, who slept with Shechem; Deborah, the biblical heroine; or, more recently, Monica Lewinsky, the ‘portly pepperpot’ (as the New York Post dubbed her) who nearly ended Bill Clinton’s presidency.”

In January 2009, with hostilities raging between Israeli and Hamas forces, Winehouse was one of several prominent Jewish figures identified by an Islamic extremist website as potential targets for "reprisal" attacks.

Winehouse was booed off the stage during a comeback performance in Serbia last month after staggering around. -- JTA

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Op Ed: In Sudan, Say 'Never Again,' And Mean It: A Genocide Scholar Looks at Jewish Obligation

Andrea Dezsö
The special obligation of Jews to combat genocide and eliminationist politics, even injustice more generally — by now almost a cliché — is linked to Jews having been the victims of the Holocaust and of a long and bitter history of persecution.
Andrea Dezsö

This call on Jews to urge the defense of the defenseless is pertinent again — sadly, it so often seems pertinent yet again —in the face of the renewal of two related things: The first is the Sudanese government’s eliminationist and exterminationist policies, this time being implemented in or threatening parts of recently independent South Sudan and two contested regions, South Kordofan and Abyei, where Sudanese forces have already killed and expelled from their homes masses of people, with potentially hundreds of thousands more to follow. -- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Forward

To read more, click here.

Superbad: Should Super Heroes Go Back to their Jewish Roots?

Photocollage by Tablet Magazine;
image from Green Lantern
There are plenty of other examples of terrible recent superhero films. There are some exceptions, of course, but most of the last decade—an era when Hollywood has supposedly rededicated itself to producing quality superhero movies featuring iconic characters—has been a wash.

What happened? Popular entertainment, after all, need not shy away from complexity or genuine moral conflict; the recent revival of Batman as the Dark Knight proved that well. Rather, the problem is one common to most superhero movies: Too often, filmmakers treat comic books as a brand rather than as source material, emptying them of all the intricacies and ironic reversals that made the beloved characters beloved in the first place. Put simply, contemporary superhero movies suck because they’ve forgotten their Jewish roots.-- Jacob Silverman, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Israeli Training Center Empowers Women from Developing Nations

The Golda Meir Carmel Training Center for Women recently hosted a conference for 70 women from 38 countries.
The Golda Meir Mount Carmel Training Center is one of Israel's many avenues for improving the lives of disadvantaged peoples in Africa and Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Oceania and the Middle East. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
To read more, click here.

Israel Launches Long-Awaited Solar Field

Arava Power's solar field in the Negev desert.
On a dusty path on Kibbutz Ketura, one of the sunniest spots in Israel, there was cause for celebration this past World Environment Day, June 5. On that day, the Israeli company Arava Power marked an historic event for Israel, the solar energy industry and the environment. It took five years to get the permits needed, but Arava Power finally inaugurated its 4.95-megawatt solar power field in Israel in the presence of VIPs from the press, government and business worlds, along with investors including Siemens and even the rapper Shyne.

There was a tangible excitement in the air, heralding hope as Israel quite literally heads toward an energy drought - since tapping into its offshore natural gas reserves is still far off. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Why Mayim Bialik Celebrates Shabbat

The former star of Punky Brewster and presently appearing in The Big Bang Theory, Mayim Bialik writes of her commitment to Shabbat.
Mayim makes challah with her sons. Photo by Deborah Kolben
On Shabbat, I make a 25 hour commitment to shut it all down and bring it all to a halt. Sometimes it’s a screeching halt, and the clash of the life of my crazy busy hectic week with the stillness of Shabbat can feel scary and intimidating and so darn… quiet. Friday nights pass relatively easily, though, since we go straight from shutting it all down to lighting it all up with candles and blessing our kids and a nice big meal. -- Mayim Bialik, kveller (A Jewish Twist on Parenting)

To read more, click here.

EEOC Sues Florida Jewish Nursing Home

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a Florida Jewish nursing home for firing a Seventh-day Adventist staffer who did not want to work on her Sabbath.

Menorah House in Boca Raton "denied a religious accommodation to Philomene Augustin and fired her because of her religious beliefs," the EEOC said in a statement Tuesday. The firing violated religious protections in the federal Civil Rights Act that require "reasonable accommodation" of religious beliefs, "so long as this does not pose an undue hardship," the EEOC said.

According to the EEOC, Augustin worked at Menorah House as a certified nursing assistant. The nursing home had accommodated her request not to work on the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, for more than 10 years until management instituted a new policy requiring all employees to work on Saturdays, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit, the statement said, only after its conciliation process failed. Menorah House, which is privately owned, is situated next to the Jewish community campus. -- JTA